When I was constructing this list, I have to confess that I really had no idea for any kind of structure whatsoever. I just started pulling entries from my list of completed anime, and before I knew it, I had accidentally pulled shows that were all from different years of the decade. So, I figured, why not just keep up the trend until I have one from each year? While I tried my best to keep the list to just one show per year, there were a few instances where I had to bend that rule just a little bit. Thus, we have the list you are looking at now.
Since I constructed this as a list of shows from each year, it almost felt weird to rank them, and as such, I have opted not to do so. Instead of, say, a battle royale of sorts to determine which is the single best anime of the decade, which seems like a silly effort to try to tackle in the space of a post like this, I have instead opted to have this post function as a showcase of sorts to show that there are shows that I believe should absolutely be watched from every year this past decade.
Each show is going to be on this list for different reasons, and none of these entries are perfect (honestly, what show is?). However, I do believe wholeheartedly that each entry deserves to be on this list and should be watched for different reasons. I’m going to try to be as detailed as I can for my picks with each entry here, but for the sake of space on this thing, each entry is confined to just a few paragraphs. A few entries have redirects to other articles done for The Backloggers, so you can follow those for some additional details, if you wish.
I think that’s all we really need to say at this point, so let’s get a move-on!
This podcast, we crawl out of the Fall 2017 season battered and bruised from the year behind us, but come up with some heavy-hitters and anime of the year contenders! We go deep into (read as: gush for what seems like hours) Just Because! and its incredible subtleties in storytelling, finally talk about a genuinely good 3DCG show a la Land of the Lustrous, check out a few other solid picks for the season, and we almost kill Matt and end the podcast over an almost-pun.
Quick note for any Just Because! viewers outside of America: Lucky for you, HiDive got ahold of this one because still at the point of this writing, Amazon has not translated the signs and text for this show along with the official subs. So if you’re watching this show, might want to head over to HiDive for those translated signs on the last episode given the incredibly important use of text messaging in this show. Us Americans will just be over here crying and raising a defiant fist against our Amazon overlords who will still not turn over the full rights to HiDive.
Well here we are, the end is near, we face the final curtain, and my friends, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case of which I’m certain… This was such a good anime. Since the first episode, I’ve been impressed with this show and I’m so happy that Just Because! never let me down. Of the shows that we’ve written about thus far as a group on this site, this one was probably my favorite to watch. And now we’re at the end. I guess if the previous episodes were the wind up, this would be the pitch… and then the aftermath. Though, to be less haughty for a sec, it’d probably be better just to call this the exam arc ‘cause hot damn is there a lot riding on these college entrance tests.
We initially pick up from where episode ten leaves off, with Komiya readmitting her feelings. However, we see that she tells Izumi not to give her an answer until he passes his test, stating it with the assurance that he will. He promises her he will with the same earnest and serious face I’ve come to love on this deadpan boy.
Hmm, yes, the “I’m very tired but I appreciate you as a person” look. Vintage.
The next day, Izumi fills in Souma about what’s going on with him and his exams while Souma in turn explains his relationship with Morikawa and his plans for the future. The standout moment here, however has to be when Izumi tells Souma to stay in touch with Morikawa, as it’ll get harder to message her if he waits too long. It’s thrown out so nonchalant but the meaning is easily picked up by Souma as Izumi alluding to how they fell out of touch, bringing us back to the beginning of the series and the lost friendship they thankfully were able to rekindle. It’s a nice touch to one of the last major bonding moments these two have with each other as we head towards the end. With a promise to stay in touch with Morikawa that also seems to be an affirmation to be there for Izumi as well, Souma then throws it back to Izumi, telling him to stay in touch with Natsume to which Izumi promises Souma that he’ll tell her everything when he passes his test. A lot riding on these exams, huh?
In looking back on episodes seven and eight of Just Because!, it genuinely feels as though those episodes were in a way a fairly bubbly (by comparison) reprieve from some of the existential and romantic angst that has come from the show in previous aspects. The focus on Eita’s dedication to Natsume, the admittedly fun date that Komiya dragged Eita into, and Souma’s optimism over his possible future prospects with Morikawa all really gave the last two episodes an easy sense of genuinely not having to worry too entirely much about what the future holds. It is, of course, a naive sort of reprieve, one which comes with some of the youthful and childish kind of optimism that is so easy for us to hold on to. I guess it’s only appropriate, then, that with the episodes nine and ten, “Answers” and “Childhood’s End”, we are brought fully back into the show’s dealings with difficult questions, and some genuinely painful, adult answers.
When I talked about some of the previous episodes of Just Because! serving as the climax for a first act of the show, I feel as though I inadvertently hit the nail on the head with regards to the shifts that episodes seven and eight set in place for what might be the last (or at least most central) major arc for the rest of the show’s season. There’s always been a focus on Eita in the show (and rightly so, considering he is set as the central character of the series from the outset), but for about the first half of the season, I felt as though Eita was mainly just playing a support role, and didn’t seem to have quite as active a role in the major plotlines. We knew, for instance, that Eita was quietly doing his best to pursue Natsume and support her, but we didn’t see anything quite as in-your-face as some of the antics surrounding Souma. The central focuses for the first six or so episodes largely gravitated towards Souma and the sort of love-parallelogram that encompassed him, Natsume, and Morikawa. Now that these threads have been resolved at least to a point, it feels like the stage has been set for us to see Eita’s own tangled web of infatuation sprawl out before us.
As Just Because! has continued its chug through to the midway point of the season, I had honestly expected it to stumble in some way that would break the spell that the first two episodes cast over me initially. Thankfully, this has not been the case, as it has actually kept a steady pace with regards to its plot pacing and genuinely interesting character interactions. I’m definitely still deeply enjoying the show’s depiction of the existential trepidation that comes with, essentially, every aspect of high school life, and feeling for the characters as they wrestle with issues that, frankly, many of us struggle with today. Episode four, as Mythos said, brought the relationships between Eita and Natsume, as well as Souma and Morikawa, to a very early sense of heavy drama for the show – the climax of the first act, if you will. Coming right on the heels of that, episodes five and six have a lot of weight on their shoulders – the climax is important, flashy, and heavy, but the resolution of the events that transpired is just as important, if not more so.
Author’s Note: Apologies for the lateness of this post. I’m sure most people have already moved onto to episode five by now of this fantastic show but I was held up with personal issues that couldn’t be helped. To make up for it, I tried to put a lot of effort into this so I hope you all enjoy. Also, spoilers and such as some stuff goes down in episode four.
Episodes three and four of Just Because! ended up continuing to validate my immediate love for this show. While the drama and plot aren’t crazy or off the wall, the natural dialogue and slower pace allow me to appreciate all that’s happening for our crew of seniors trudging towards their graduation and murky futures. Every scene and interaction is chock full of a surprising amount of engagement for a show that relies heavily on realistic drama and humor. Plus, these characters are just so dang lovable, even when their hearts are breaking from all the pain they give each other.
You know it’s a sad scene when even the dog is frowning.
Just Because! is, in many ways, a pretty large departure from the shows that we as the Backloggers have covered in the last three seasons. While we try to decide on the show we’ll be covering episodically for any given season, we work to whittle down our choices to what seems interesting, what we feel would be neat for our readers to check out for the season, and honestly just what seems like would be an enjoyable watch. It’s kind of funny to me that over the last few seasons, we’ve ultimately gravitated towards shows that are essentially fantasy light novel-esque shows with a penchant for action and the dramatic. While there’s definitely nothing wrong with that, and we’ve genuinely enjoyed Youjo Senki, SukaSuka, and Princess Principal, as we were mulling over writing about, say, Kino no Tabi or Juuni Taisen, we kind of came to a collective realization of “oh god, we can’t do a show like this for a fourth consecutive season”. With this idea being part of the inspiration for our choice this season, we’ve happily decided to shake up our usual formula a bit. Why?
Yes, I’m sorry, I know that joke has been beat so far into the ground that it should be right around the earth’s core right about now, but in a lot of ways, the choice really did come as conscious choice to just do it because we could (and because we haven’t covered a show quite outside of our unintentional genre bubble yet), especially after the first two very strong episodes that this show presented us with out of the gate.