A long night in Kyoto and androgynous beings made of gems make up some of the best anime of 2017

by Matt Schley

Contributing Writer

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’)
Director: Tatsuki

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.

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