The world of 2017 isn’t that long ago but still feels far away. Sentai Filmworks rolled out about 128 release that year with multiple formats and editions, such as with the DVD and Blu-ray versions of Haven’t You Heard, I’m Sakamoto? that also had premium editions. That buffs up the lists a little bit but there’s still a lot of very solid releases that came out throughout the year, from Haikyu on Blu-ray as a full season set and To Heart 2 getting rescued. We dazzled to Dragon Dentist but also had a lot of fun with things like Flying Witch and Morning Musume. But what really made the top of the charts for us in 2017? Check out below!
The Big O: While a license rescue, this series saw its release on Blu-ray for the first time here and it was all together in one big collection for both seasons. This series still towers above many others twenty years later as it presents us some great giant robot action, stylish character design material, and Western aspects and elements that we don’t always get which made it all the more exciting. Everything about this show had something special with it and while it played a lot of episodic elements as well, the end result was a big show with big ambitions that largely succeeded.
Chihayafuru: It took a few years from broadcast to get licensed but if there was a show that was the worth the wait, it was this one. The whole game involved in it with karuta is a bit beyond me to some degree but it delivers something tense and engaging to watch as this talented team struggles to find its place while also discovering who they really are in true teenage sense. There’s a good depth to this because of the core trio and their backgrounds, but it does the rare thing of making card games exciting to watch on screen with a whole lot of tension to it. That they also produced a dub for it was just a huge surprise but made it all the more accessible.
Ushio & Tora: The promise of this series was something that excited me as we began to see more projects like this come up. While the manga ran for over thirty volumes in the early 90s, the anime adaptation done in 1992 barely scratched the surface. This series came in with a three-cour plan to be a complete adaptation and gave fans hope for various older works to see new productions start up for them. This series leans on some of the usual trappings of what 90s manga was like, but it also expands and builds on it in a fascinating way that the three-cour run is perfect in giving it room to breathe, explore the characters, and the larger struggle everyone faces.
Food Wars: Food Wars isn’t a series I’m in love with but I really admire what it does and how well it does it. The opening season is probably the best in my mind, something I find with a lot of food-based series, as it goes through the introductions and it’s full of all the possibility out there. This series takes it a few steps further by making it utterly sensual in how people react to the food itself, but when you see these gorgeous illustrations representing the food it’s easy to understand why. Watching a number of actual cooking and culinary shows myself, this series is good silly fun but I love something that highlights the passion of all kinds of cooking while acknowledging that as much creativity as there is to it, it’s also guided by science and math.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Similar to Food Wars, this is a series that I enjoy but haven’t gotten on the train for in a big way. Partially because there’s just so much of it, so many light novels, so much manga. But when you can just settle in for a season of silliness with some great animation, a solid amount of fanservice, and character dynamics that really click beautifully, it’s a delight of a show. It’s done well with a few OVAs and more seasons that keeps the journey going, along with a spinoff series as well getting a TV season, but it’s the core property with Bell and Hestia that still rings true, even if the cosplay side of it has fallen off over the years.
Squid Girl: Another rescue that was licensed elsewhere previously, this squiddingly awesome series ages perfectly as it’s just a silly delight no matter the year or situation. The show gives us a character so full of herself in the right way that watching her conquer the world, starting with this beach first, makes for a whole lot of fun. It’s populated by a lot of silly characters and some that are grounded to help the show move forward, and some great animation that lets all of its weirdness shine. But it’s just so utterly charming and manages to be upbeat because of how our lead views herself that it’s an easy entry on our list.
To Love Ru: As close to a guilty pleasure as I can have, this property got itself a welcome Blu-ray release this year and began to pull together things so that we had more definitive editions out there. This property just has that something special for the dirty pervs like myself who enjoy the weirdly playful and strange properties like this that feel like they’re from another time. While the manga is from 2006 it feels like everything about it is from the early 90s in a way that I can’t quite pin down. The result is something that leans to some good classic ideas but infuses with a lot of problematic and uncomfortable moments of sexuality and sensuality that will unnerve some and delight others.
Himouto! Umaru-chan: Characters that hide their true selves only to have it slowly revealed are always a lot of fun because it asks them to really figure themselves out. This one gives us the perfect girl on the outside but one that’s a total slob of an otaku on the inside, which she lets out when she’s at home and completely comfortable. There’s a lot of great in-jokes here and references that go on but also just a lot of good comical depravity that helps it to move forward. Our leading character in Umaru has her dealing with trying to reconcile the two sides of herself and what she really wants out of life, which is standard teenager fare in most ways. But it’s effective in making you laugh along the way and sympathize with her with ease.
Nurse Witch Komugi R: While I lament the lack of Soul Taker being rescued, I do love that the spinoff parody of one of the characters in it with this continues on. This series works its magic by working on the things that are easy to make fun of with the magical girl properties and doing it with a really good look to it. I may have long burned out on both magical girl shows and the parodies of them, but when they work, they work, and this one is a lot of fun.
Diabolik Lovers II: Though not as good as the first season, the second installment of Diabolik Lovers expanded the cast and tried to introduce a larger story to it. But it failed in that it didn’t give the original cast a lot to do, making it hard for fans to bring the continuity over with it. But there’s a lot of fun to be had as our leading lady gets caught up in the darker shenanigans of this new group and what they’re up to. The show wasn’t quite as controversial as the first season but the derision toward it continues and that’s something that draws me to check something out even more.
Chris has been writing about anime, manga, movies and comics for well on twenty years now. He began AnimeOnDVD.com back in 1998 and has covered nearly every anime release that’s come out in the US ever since.