As we get closer and closer to 2020, there have been plenty of lists all over the Internet to reflect on 10 years of entertainment, politics, fashion, celebrity news, video games, and just about every topic you can think of. Finishing one decade and entering a new one feels significant, and yet it’s easy to forget what has come and gone as we move through the current of life. Before we put another decade behind us, I want to look back on some of the best anime that left the biggest impression on me over the last 10 years.
1. Steins;Gate (2011)
It’s hard to believe that 2011 is the year the Steins;Gate anime first came out and introduced us all to Okube Rintaro and his microwave time machine. The twists and turns this anime takes you on is a thrill ride and will leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering with bated breath of what will happen next. The anime starts off really slow, and boring at times, but once it picks up at the middle, you won’t want to keep your eyes unglued from your TV. Read my initial thoughts on the anime here.
2. Death Parade (2015)
I stumbled upon Death Parade completely by accident after browsing through the selection of anime options on Hulu for something new to watch. The story has a unique take on death and the afterlife by having newly departed souls play a game in a purgatorial like place called the QuinDecim to determine where they belong—Heaven or Hell. I found Death Parade to be surprisingly deep and philosophical on its musings about death. After finishing the entire show, it stayed with me for quite a while. It’s truly one of those anime that will make you think. For more thoughts on Death Parade, read a review I had written in 2016.
3. Your Name (2017)
When Your Name released in 2017, it was the movie everyone needed to watch. After having seen it last year when I rented it on DVD, I now see why. The animation is absolutely beautiful and sumptuous with every animation detail bursting like a technicolor work of art. The story, about a boy and girl who are able to switch bodies at intermittent intervals and communicate about how they spent their days in each other’s bodies through journal entries and texts they leave for each other, is highly emotional with unexpected plot twists that make the movie more than what it appears to be. It’s difficult to discuss without spoiling the whole movie. If you haven’t had a chance to watch Your Name you really should.
4. A Silent Voice (2017)
I only managed to watch A Silent Voice earlier this year and it’s a tearjerker of a movie in the same way Your Name had me in tears. It’s a gentle exploration on bullying, suicide, and forgiveness. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a story where the bully isn’t a two-dimensional character, but someone who has many layers to peel back and understand. Read a full review of the movie here.
4. Steins;Gate 0 (2018)
The first Steins;Gate felt like a complete story with nothing left to tell. Plot threads have been tied up and characters had arcs that felt actualized and satisfying. When news of a sort of sequel, sort of not sequel to Steins;Gate was announced, I was uncertain how it would work or if it would be any good. Thankfully, whatever skepticism I had for Steins;Gate 0 fully vanished the more I watched each episode last year. Steins;Gate 0 manages to work by showing a different world line, one that works in tandem with the one we know from the first Steins;Gate.
One thing Steins;Gate has taught its viewers is that there are many possibilities and variables for how the future could play out. While the first Steins;Gate presents a situation where Okabe succeeds in fixing the mess his time travel ventures have wrought, Steins;Gate 0 shows us an alternate reality where Okabe fails at his mission. The tone for Steins;Gate 0 is much darker and somber than the first, but it does a great job of giving fans an entirely new experience, with the same voice actors from the first Steins;Gate returning to reprise their roles, and a different way of looking at the events we thought we already knew. You can read a more in-depth review of Steins;Gate 0 here.
5. How to Keep a Mummy (2018)
One of the cutest and most delightful anime I had the pleasure of discovering and watching is How to Keep a Mummy. It follows the sweet and adorable friendship between a high school kid named Sora and Mii-kun, the itty bitty mummy Sora’s dad sends home to Japan. While there is no overarching plot, How to Keep a Mummy manages to stay engaging and charming by focusing on the relationship between Sora and Mii-kun. That was enough for me to keep tuning in week after week when the show continued to post new episodes on Crunchyroll.
6. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (2018)
Finally, my list would never be complete if I didn’t include Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. The sequel to 1998’s Cardcaptor Sakura, Clear Card sees the return of Sakura Kinomoto as cardcaptor to transform the cards into its newest evolution, the clear cards. With it brings powerful magic that is evolving, and a new magical threat that has undisclosed interest in Sakura and her cards. It has been exciting to come back to this world and these characters I have grown to love as a kid, but I am a bit disappointed that the series is done for now. The first season ends on a cliffhanger with no news of when the next season of the anime will be made or released. The anime had caught up to the manga to what was published in Japan at the time, and no new episodes could be made then. I only hope there will be news for a Season 2 in the new year, especially when I want to see more cute moments between Sakura and Syaoran.
I’m sure I missed a few anime titles on this list, but this decade has been a good one for worthy shows to watch. What are some of your favorite anime to come out of the decade?