The Year of Our Lord 2017 has been a long one, I think we can all agree on that. There’s been a lot of anxiety in the real world, all the more reason to practice self-care and find solace in the fantasies that only media can provide. As for myself, I experienced most of the new hotness vicariously through social media—there were too many games and too many great shows for me to keep up with by myself. 2017 was also a year I spent rekindling old friendships and catching up on the backlog, so a fair portion of what I experienced this year was ancient in terms of our modern media cycle.
It wouldn’t be late December without a year-end retrospective, so here’s the top ten media I consumed in 2017, in a more-or-less ordered fashion:
10. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Is it fair to include a remake of a game I played a decade ago on this list? No matter, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age becomes an almost brand-new game with all of the new features to bring it up to speed. Solving the original’s issues of monotonous, slow combat with 2x and 4x speed options, as well as presenting the new specialized License Boards from the International Zodiac Job System that never saw a domestic release, The Zodiac Age breathes new life into this under-appreciated gem.
9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Internet is abuzz with commentary on this recent movie, so I’ll spare you one more thinkpiece. If nothing else, it cannot be denied that many scenes were visually stunning and that Rian Johnson sure knows how to shake up the Star Wars formula, and, in my opinion, he does so in a refreshing way.
8. Made in Abyss
I’m still slowly progressing this series, but the little I have seen blows me away. The design of Made in Abyss is gorgeous; from the landscapes to the individual character designs, this show carries a charm that will keep your interest piqued no matter what kind of anime fan you are.
7. Shin Godzilla
I have a confession to make here: I’ve never been a big Godzilla/kaiju fan. I watched a couple of the films back in the day and enjoyed Final Wars, but the franchise has never really interested me. On the other hand, as soon as I heard Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi were attached to the project, I knew I would be seeing this as soon as possible. Shin Godzilla did not disappoint on that front. This movie certainly feels like Evangelion (which was in turn inspired by tokusatsu films to begin with), with the on-screen titles in Anno’s signature typeface and interesting camera angles in urban areas. Even one of the signature songs from Evangelion’s soundtrack, “Decisive Battle,” makes an appearance (and again, and again, and again…).
6. True Detective (Season One)
Perhaps the biggest outlier of this list, True Detective is neither Japanese nor recent. Having put it off for years despite all the praise, I finally sat down with a friend of mine and burned through all of the first season. Initially drawn in by the Lovecraft Mythos references with Carcosa and The King in Yellow, I stayed for the chemistry and tension between the main characters as well as the unfolding of the central mystery. I’ve been told the second season is completely different and not-at-all comparable to the first, but the first season will always live in my heart as an example of good television.
5. Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer
Urusei Yatsura has been on my backlog for years at this point. Despite not being a huge fan of Rumiko Takahashi, I was interested in the first few episodes I watched, but not enough to jump in wholesale. Beautiful Dreamer caught my attention while doing research for one my fan panels, and it is a blast from start to finish. Fun (if raunchy) comedy, incredible animation, and surreal scenes of a seemingly-empty city make for a fun watch even for those who aren’t familiar with the background of the show. Discotek has a Blu-ray release of this movie in the works with a current release date of February 27th.
4. Your Name
Again, not much I can say here that hasn’t been said several times in the time since it’s worldwide release. I’ve enjoyed Makoto Shinkai’s past works to some degree, but Your Name sold me on his true potential as a director and has left me eagerly awaiting his next film.
3. Golden Kamuy
The buzz surrounding this manga made me believe in the power of this medium again. I expanded upon my thoughts about Golden Kamuy in a previous article.If manga isn’t really your thing, keep an eye out for the anime adaptation in April.
2. Little Witch Academia (TV)
Little Witch Academia was Trigger’s chance to prove they could do something that wasn’t as bombastic or frenetic as Space Patrol Luluco or Kill la Kill, and for the most part, they succeeded. We get plenty of chances to see the signature sakuga animation the studio is known for, and while the story may not be as subtle or deep as similarly character-driven shows, it still features a heavy dose of the “hard work and guts” and “power of friendship” themes that have been prevalent in the “Daicon DNA” since Gunbuster.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Was there ever any doubt about this one? I spent the months leading into Breath of the Wild trying not to overhype myself—while I enjoyed Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, I do feel the hype for those games outweighed the end results. Luckily, Breath of the Wild delivered on those expectations in spades. Mixing classic Zelda gameplay with new elements taken from a variety of modern games, the Switch release title is greater than the sum of its parts. I still have yet to pick up the DLC, partially due to time constraints, but also because I want some fresh material when I do revisit this game in a year or two.
Was there anything I skipped over this year? Anything you’d like to recommend to me or harass me for not including? Let me know in the comments, and we can all revel in my shame!