The 2010s brought anime into the mainstream here in America. Thanks to streaming services like CrunchyRoll, FunimationNow and HiDive, it has never been easier to watch anime. Because of this, we are now able to watch 100s of new anime every season, just like the fans in Japan. Here are the 10 anime of the last decade that stood out to me the most.
10. Assassination Classroom
Far from your typical school anime, Assassination Classroom follows a group of disadvantaged students and delinquents who learn that their new teacher is an insanely powerful organism who destroyed most of the moon and threatens to do the same to the Earth in a year. Korosensei is the heart of this show. He is easily the best school teacher in all of anime. Assassination Classroom is filled with some truly hilarious moments, contains some intense and even violent action, and has one of the most emotional finales I have ever seen.
Mikado Ryugamine never expected Ikebukero to be like this. This vibrant district of Tokyo contains a mysterious headless rider, a man who can toss a vending machine like a basketball, an emotionally manipulative information broker, a sword that possesses those it cuts and multiple colorful and violent street gangs. Durarara!!‘s version of Ikebukero feels lively due to the sheer chaos occurring in its streets daily. Durarara!! was my introduction to the sheer craziness of anime, and remains a favorite of mine 10 years later.
8. The Rising of the Shield Hero
The most recent anime on this list, The Rising of the Shield Hero, blindsided me and a good amount of the anime community when it debuted last year. Shield Hero follows Naofumi Iwatani, who is summoned to a fantasy world and is immediately demonized by the people he is serving and protecting. He quickly loses faith in all those around him. Shield Hero is what I hoped the first season of Sword Art Online would be. Additionally, having one of the best girls in all of anime, Raphtalia, definitely helps its standing.
7. Your Lie in April
One of the most beautiful anime I have ever seen. Your Lie in April will immediately hit you with a feels train that never leaves the station. After the death of his mother, piano prodigy Kosei Arima decides that he will never play again. A fateful encounter with violinist Kaori Miyazono revitalizes his enthusiasm to play. Your Lie in April was the first anime to leave me in tears due to its ending. Because of this, it will always have a special place in my heart.d
6. Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World
I am a sucker for good dark fantasy. Outside of Berserk, Re:Zero is the best dark fantasy anime I seen so far. Making a new spin on the hero tropes from most isekai (Japanese for “different world”) series, Subaru is summoned to a fantasy world without any magic abilities or special skills whatsoever, except for one. Subaru quickly discovers that whenever he dies he just restarts from his last “save point,” allowing him to redo a day and improve it based off his previous experiences. The world of Re:Zero features all of the complexities and prejudice of our own, just with elves, demons, lizard-men and witch cults. Also, Rem is best girl. I do not make the rules, I just follow them.
Satoru Fujinuma must unravel his past to save his future. Erased is an emotional roller coaster that leaves you in quiet suspense. Despite its short length, only containing twelve episodes, Erased does not feel too short. Its small episode count allows the writer to tell the story he wants without filling it with any unnecessary details. Erased is ultimately a heartwarming story that answers the question “what if I could go back and change my past?” It just takes a while to get there.
Normally, I operate by the three-episode-rule when it comes to anime. If the show does not impress me after three episodes, I drop it. Steins;Gate is one of the only exceptions to this rule. The first half operates as some solid sci-fi slice of life only to turn into a sci-fi thriller in the second half. Rintaro Okabe is an aspiring mad scientist who, with the help of his otaku friend Daru and famous scientist Makise Kurisu, he develops a device that can send messages into the past that can affect the future. It all seems harmless until an organization discovers them. Steins;Gate is a must watch for any sci-fi fan, and features some of my favorite performances in anime, both in Japanese and English. Sitting through the first half of Steins;Gate is worth it, trust me.
3. My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is one of, if not, the biggest anime in the U.S. right now and it is easy to see why. It plays on many common western super hero tropes. All of the superpowers are incredibly unique compared to what we see from most comic book characters. The characters themselves are reversals of common shonen action tropes, like Bakugo basically being Naruto‘s Sasuke, except less evil and Deku is just a nicer green version of Naruto. The core of this show, though is the way it blends slice of life and shonen action, something the next two anime on this list also have in common. If you are not already watching My Hero Academia, you should be, because it’s great.
2. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is not just a meme show and Diamond is Unbreakable is proof of this. One of Jojo’s biggest strengths is that each part is completely different than the last, allowing for some vast differences in story across seasons. I easily could have put Battle Tendency and Golden Wind on this list, but I am limiting myself to just one part of this lengthy show. I typically enjoy more small scale stories, so Diamond is Unbreakable is my favorite part of the anime so far. This season includes: a murder mystery with new creative stand abilities, a protagonist, Josuke Higashikata, that combines the best parts of Jonathan and Joseph Joestar’s personalities and a villain that not only serves as a great foil for Josuke, but also introduces something new to the series. Yoshikage Kira just wants an ordinary life, outside of his murders of course, with no desire to conquer the world like previous antagonists. Combined with the slice of life style comedy placed between the intense stand battles, David Productions created, not just my favorite part of Jojo’s, but one of my favorite anime of all time.
1. Mob Psycho 100
Power is not everything. A person may desire power, but it will never give them fulfillment in life. This idea is at the core of Mob Psycho 100. Mob could have easily turned out to be your average anime protagonist, like Goku or Luffy, that just wants to get stronger, but that is not what he wants. Over the course of Mob Psycho 100‘s first two seasons, Mob learns to better himself through other means, such as working out with the body improvement club or helping others with their problems. Most of the antagonists in Mob Psycho 100 desire power, usually to control others. Multiple characters within Mob Psycho are grounded by Mob and Reigen’s morality, such as Dimple, a former vengeful spirit, Hanazawa, the former leader of a gang, and Ritsu, Mob’s younger brother. All of them once walked the dark path, but were brought to the light. This, along with the well thought out comedy and absolutely insane animation from Studio Bones come together to create my favorite anime of the decade.
Is there a show you love that is not on my list? Comment below!