Christian Puente’s Top 10 Anime of the Decade

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

This is an incredibly moving anime about old friends reunited and challenged to forgive themselves as well as each other for the guilt they’ve carried over the years for the death of their childhood friend and the way they’ve handled their grief with each other. The characters are troubled and their struggles are grounded and real, and I soon became investing in their journey to find peace and closure.

A Place Further Than the Universe

The cast of A Place Further Than the Universe are an endearing group of students with a ridiculous dream of visiting Antarctica. The near impossible ambition is spearheaded by Shirase, who’s mother died in Antarctica on an expedition. It is her mission to visit Antarctica to achieve the closure she’s been longing for all the years. The remainder of the core members join the quest as they hope traveling to the ends of the Earth might provide the push they need to find new direction in life. Although the odds are definitely stacked against them, the crew push against back and through their bonds find new strength to face the issues they left behind.

Haikyu!!

I never would have believed that one of my all-time favorite anime would be a sports show about high school volleyball. I’ve always had little to no interest in sports or athleticism, of course partially because I had no athletic ability, but mostly because I’m not a competitive person. Athletes have often been depicted in media as bullies, playing the part of the antagonist against nerds like me. What finally got me to give it a show was when my friend Ian of OK Beast kept recommending it. I figured I had to at least finally give it the old “3-episode test”. I was instantly invested in the main character of Hinata as he is an underdog with a seemingly impossible dream. Hinata, a short and inexperienced athlete aspires to be the ace of the Karasuno Volleyball team – just like his personal hero The Little Giant. Hinata’s infectious optimism and determination make for an engaging hero. The rest of the cast are just as interesting to follow. What surprises me also is how much this show gets me to cheer for our opponents as well. The show isn’t a battle of good vs evil; it’s a test of conviction.

Kids on the Slope

I really enjoy anime that are period pieces. I like admiring the artistic interpretation of fashion and architecture from past time periods. This musical drama takes place in mid-60’s Japan, and centers around the relationships between a group of high school friends. Kaoru, Sentaro, Ritsuko, and Yuriko make up the main cast of characters who are struggling to come to terms with their feelings towards each other. It’s melodrama nicely paired with meaningful musical sequences. 1960’s Japan is a new and fascinating setting for this story of love and loss that is a pleasant change of pace compared to many other shows that usually are set in more contemporary settings.

My Hero Academia

Who doesn’t already know about My Hero Academia? This has been a really enjoyable show to experience with the online anime community. It’s so appropriate that this is the story of the hero-in-training, Deku, whose power is handed down after generations of being cultivated. I see a similar passing of the torch on a meta level, as My Hero Academia improves on the progress of shonen heroes past. This makes for an incredibly entertaining show with fun action, top-tier animation, and engaging character development.

Laid-Back Camp

What a weird trip this anime was. The premise is simple: our main character Nadeshiko gains a new fascination and appreciation for camping and joins her new school’s camping club. Together with the other club member, they go on camping trips and share tips. No monsters, world ending invasions, or heroes reincarnated into a fantasy world. Laid-Back Camp is the perfect name for this show. It’s like an anime equivalent of watching a Bob Ross episode. The atmosphere is light and episodes feel like mini vacations as artists realize a soothing world of the Japanese natural parks. It’s a very relaxing show that is a welcome change of pace compared to some of the other high-octane anime offerings you’ll find most seasons.

Little Witch Academia

Ever wondered what Harry Potter would be like as anime? This is that anime. It’s a fun show from Studio Trigger that started out as an indie anime film, followed by a sequel, and now exists as a full fledged series-long anime. The story is wholesome and leans into my favorite cheesy anime tropes that emphasis never giving up and believing in the magic that’s within! This is a welcome original story among a wide selection of shows oversaturated with light-novel adaptations. Akko, our heroine is a lot like Deku to draw a familiar comparison. It’s been her life’s dream to become a renown witch that can spread hope and positivity through magic. The trouble, is that Akko has little-to-no magical ability. But she believes in the example set by her childhood hero, Shiny Chariot and relies on her resourcefulness and tenacity to make her own mark at Luna Nova Magical Academy.

Re:Creators

Re:Creators is a really fun premise that I don’t feel like I see many examples of anymore. For a mysterious reason, popular characters from fiction have been manifesting in the real world and seeking out their creators in the hopes of using abilities as authors to change the fate of these iconic characters. It’s simply a lot of fun watching a show celebrate the relationship between creators and the characters they dream up. I’ve found a new appreciation for how I write stories for my new characters.

Shirobako

So many people’s favorite anime revolve around a hero trying to “be the best”. Goku aiming to be the strongest fighter, Naruto aiming for title of Hokage, Deku’s journey to be the world’s greatest hero. I love these series that inspire me to challenge my potential. Production Assistant Miyamori’s journey in Shirobako leans more towards working to realize a collective potential. In this case, we follow Miyamori as she works as a cog in the anime production machine and has to overcome the perils of producing an anime series. The logline is simple, it’s an anime about making anime. This is an engaging series full of creators that showcases their passion and determination to push for the ultimate creative expression.

Space Patrol Luluco

Studio Trigger embraces the absurd and pushes it until it has transformed into something completely unique and yet connects on a familiar level. Middle school student Luluco is drafted into the Space Patrol force as a substitute for her father who was tricked and frozen in carbonite by cockroach. Still follow? This wild and absurd story was completely engaging as we follow Luluco’s adventures as events pull her further from her dream of living a normal life. What I find so entertaining is how they take simple and relatable concepts like a first crush and will make it blow it up to being a powerful force that can lay waste to enemies and turn the tide in an epic showdown. The episodes are short, packed with stunning art and a breakneck-speed plot that celebrates style over substance in a really fun way.

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