The world of anime in 2017 didn’t give us any obvious breakout hits like last year’s “Your Name.,” but the past 12 months still had its share of winners:
‘Night is Short, Walk on Girl’ (‘Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome’)
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
One of two films Masaaki Yuasa directed this year, “Night Is Short, Walk on Girl” adapts a novel by Tomihiko Morimi about a group of university students partying their way through one impossibly long night on the magical backstreets of Kyoto. At its core is a love story between the two protagonists, but the film also serves as a love letter to all the strange and wonderful people you meet when you leave your house and open yourself up to the possibilities of the night.
‘ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.’ (‘ACCA: Jusan-ku Kansatsu-ka’)
Director: Shingo Natsume
In this stylish adaptation of the manga by Natsume Ono, a vaguely European country is broken into 13 territories, each with its own distinct customs, economy and, most importantly, desserts. Main character Jean, a member of the titular inspection department, visits these territories one by one in an attempt to sniff out a coup d’etat, and while “ACCA” is full of political intrigue, half the fun is seeing what sweets Jean tracks down in what I’m convinced is a parody of Japan’s obsession with prefecture-specific omiyage (souvenirs).
‘Land of the Lustrous’ (‘Hoseki no Kuni’)
Director: Takahiko Kyogoku
With its sleek production design and animation, “Land of the Lustrous” proved to many skeptics that 3-D anime can be just as effective as traditional hand-drawn methods. Based on the manga by Haruko Ichikawa of the same name, it’s the story of immortal, androgynous beings made of precious gems defending themselves from attacks by a mysterious force from the moon. “Land of the Lustrous” wasn’t just well-animated: a haunting soundtrack and quiet character moments helped crystallize it into one of the year’s best.
‘Kemono Friends’ (‘Kemono Furenzu’)
The word “sleek” doesn’t quite describe the 3-D animation of “Kemono Friends” (“laughably bad” might be closer). However, the series became the year’s most surprising hit regardless. Taking place in a safari park where the animals have been transformed into cute anime girls, “Kemono Friends” made up for what it lacked in production value with pure heart, and reportedly sparked a boom in admissions to real-life zoos.