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Highlighting the Best Anime of the 2010s

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


The 2010s were a strange time. I went through middle school, became an anime fan, went to high school, stopped being an anime fan, became isolated and depressed, became an anime fan again, started this blog, and then became depressed again. Truly, it is a cycle that never ends. One of the other things I did during that time is enter college and start writing for my college’s newspaper.

Since the decade ended in the same semester I did so, I ended up writing a retrospective on some of the best anime of the decade. Now, because I have consumed a lot more, my opinions have largely changed and expanded. Even so, I thought it would be fun to throw up on here as a fun read and reminder of just how much time has passed. Anyway, hope you enjoy it!

Welcome back, tourists. With 2019 over, the decade has officially reached its end. While the constant seasonal cycle still continues, it is worth remembering anime in the 2010s. 

The 2010s were an explosive decade for the anime industry overall and for fans like myself who love the variety that the medium brings. Indeed, the anime industry’s net worth topped 19 billion U.S. dollars, and the number of shows coming out each season increased dramatically from the beginning of the decade to the end.

Because of this increased growth and diversity, the decade produced a number of incredible anime, both in series and film, that are worth remembering. Here is a list of some of the best anime from the 2010s.

Durarara – Winter 2010 – Studio: Brain’s Base

The decade started off strong with Durarara, a show where almost anything can and will happen. 

The series focuses on Mikado, a high school student who moves to Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district at the behest of his friend Masaomi. Soon after, the two begin hanging out again, only for Mikado to find out that there is a lot more going on in Tokyo than he initially thought. Before he knows it, Mikado is caught up in gang wars, urban legends and battles for mysterious ancient weapons.

There is a lot to love about Durarara. It is a series where new adventures unfold every episode, only to then later reveal something about another previous adventure, culminating into a season finale that, while admittedly somewhat weak, leaves one begging for more—that is, until you realize there is an excellent second season which more or less picks up from where season one left off. 

Wandering Son – Winter 2011 – Studio: AIC Classic

The issues faced by transgender people in today’s world are something not often explored in storytelling media. While representation for trans people is catching up somewhat, it is still lagging behind what it should be, given that nearly one percent of the population identifies as such. Luckily, some creators, like author and illustrator Takako Shimura, were ahead of the game. 

The 2011 adaptation of her manga tells the story of two kids, Yoshino and Yuuichi, who have struggled with their gender identity since entering middle school. The two are able to confide in each other over their confusion but still ultimately struggle to fit in. Luckily, they have other friends to help them through it in a story that explores bullying, relationships and identity for transgender kids.


Psycho-Pass – Fall 2012 – Studio: Production I.G.

There are a number of influential figures in anime whose work has shaped the medium, both for better and for worse. One of its more positive influences, Shinichiro Watanabe, created many amazing works throughout the 2010s, but arguably his best was Production I.G.’s Psycho-Pass.

Psycho-Pass is set in a futuristic Japan, but this time there is a twist. In an age of advanced technology, the country’s justice system has also caught up and uses an invention known as Sibyl. Sibyl allows police to determine the likelihood of any individual committing a crime, and because of this, the entire criminal justice system is based on this technology. However, it becomes a problem when those such as Makishima appear with the unique trait of being undetectable.

To put it bluntly, Psycho-Pass is like if every procedural crime drama show was even remotely interesting. It comes jam-packed with plenty of action, while still holding true to its themes of the inherent injustice in criminal convictions, as well as the problems of relying too much on technology. While its subsequent seasons were less than stellar compared to the first, it is still worth watching nonetheless. 

Log Horizon – Fall 2013 – Studio: Satelight

There are also a ton of individual anime that are influential as well, one of those being Sword Art Online, a series whose trapped-in-a-video-game storyline inspired many similar premises to receive adaptations of their own. However, coming before does not necessarily mean that a show is better.

Enter Log Horizon, a series about a group of friends who get trapped in a world that looks a lot like their favorite MMORPG “Elder Tale.” Although initially comforted by their new environment’s seeming familiarity, they soon realize there are many things about this world they do not yet know. 

While it definitely helps to have some knowledge of how MMOs generally work, it is not necessary for understanding just how amazing this show is. A lot of what makes it so great is its main character Shiroe. For most of the series, Shiroe acts as the not so charismatic leader, helping organize the players in a way that lets everyone live comfortably. Despite not initially coming off as that interesting, Shiroe becomes an even bigger focal point later on as the mystery behind his old guild, The Boston Tea Party, is slowly revealed. 


No Game No Life – Spring 2014 – Studio: Madhouse

Imagine a world in which war, robbery, theft and murder are all gone. It is one where physical violence is impossible due to an ancient war in which the god of play took over and remade the world into one in which all conflict is to be settled by games. Now, imagine the story of a brother and sister who get transported to this world by God himself, and who soon realize the secret hidden within. 

Put all of that together and outcomes No Game No Life, one of the most exciting anime to come out in recent memory. Sora and Shiro, the aforementioned brother and sister, come to the world of Disboard because they wished for a new life, one where their incredible skills at games can shine through.

The thing that makes it a remarkable series is the tag team of Sora and Shiro. Even when it looks like they might lose, the two of them always believe in each other and find a way to beat the odds.

Haikyuu – Spring 2014 – Studio: Production I.G.

Not often talked about in the world of sports is volleyball, a game whose rules and skillsets create a scenario where a play can start and end within a matter of seconds. Luckily, this high-octane sport has not been forgotten about. 

Haikyuu stars Shoyou Hinata who in middle school dreams of playing volleyball on the national stage. In middle school, he forms a team with a few of his friends. The team practices quite a bit, only to be stuffed out in their first tournament by Hinata’s eventual rival Tobio Kageyama. When the two find out that they are attending the same high school, they realize that, for the better of the team, they need to put aside their differences in order to strive for victory.

Good sports stories are often just good underdog stories with sports being the main conflict, and Haikyuu fits that bill easily. Due to his small stature, Hinata initially struggles to find his spot on the Kurasuno High team. Eventually, with the help of Kageyama, who becomes the team’s setter, Hinata is able to become an amazing spiker. 

Tune in next week as I finish highlighting the best of the 2010s.


Now, since this is the future if you want to see the rest of this list it is available already on The Daily Beacon, but I will also be posting the second half next Friday. Now, I know what I think I missed, but is there another show that should be on here? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!


OWLS June “Vunerable” Post – Wandering Son: When Being Vunerable isn’t an Option

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It is time once again for another OWLS post. This month’s theme is Vunerable:

In the month of June, we will be discussing what it means to be vulnerable. To some individuals, being vulnerable could be seen as a sign of weakness, but in fact, vulnerability is actually a sign of strength. In this month’s posts, we will explore what it means to be vulnerable and how certain characters in pop culture glamorize vulnerability. When do we show our vulnerability? How do we express vulnerability? Why should we show vulnerability?

Definitely make sure to check out my other fellow OWLS members, Lyn and Ange and there posts for this months.

Also, since I haven’t done anything for pride month, due to me being on vacation, I figured I would take some time to dedicate a post for that very purpose, which is why the anime I will be talking about for this month is Wandering Son. I know I’ve talked about it before for OWLS, but I think its an important enough show that its worth talking about and sharing again. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would definitely recommend watching it.

With all that done, here is the post:

For almost everyone, there are going to be things that remain hidden behind a certain level of self-consciousness. Some of the things people hide are more innocuous, like an embarrassing habit or a cringe favorite thing. Either way, it is hard for people to talk to others about these things because making themselves vulnerable is often both emotionally and mentally difficult. However, for members of the LGBTQ community, the ability to be vulnerable about their specific situations is much harder due to the history of treatment of that group of people.

More specifically though, transgender people have a harder time due to their being a lot of confusion about what being transgender actually means. Many still have to live in the shadows about their identity, and often times it means that they feel alone.

A good example of this is Wandering Son, an anime that explores the story of two transgender individuals named Shuichi and Yoshino. As it is explained in the show, before the two met, they had no way of talking to others about being transgender and no one to talk to about their experience, because doing so would have likely meant rejection from friends and family. With their friendship, it becomes easier for the two to be more open.

Unfortunately, though, even their journey was not that simple. Despite having Yoshino to talk to, Shuichi still has to deal with his sister, who finds out about Shuichi being transgender, and throughout most of the show is still unwelcoming to his identity. Meanwhile, Yoshino dresses as a guy at school and gets accused of simply doing it for attention. In both of their situations, vulnerability is not something they feel safe enough to show.

It is also important to remember that the ignorance surrounding transgender issues and the treatment of transgender people in horrible ways has real world consequences. A CDC study from 2016 shows that transgender people are much more likely to have attempted suicide, with as many as 40 percent admitting to doing so. Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people are also disproportionately likely to have attempted suicide. These numbers mean that many of both transgender people and other members of the LGBTQ community still feel like Shuichi and Yoshino.

Sadly, some of this ignorance and often unintended hate can also be seen and felt in the anime community. The word “trap” has come under fire within the past year or so in many online anime communities for being a somewhat bigoted term that has implications about why someone is transgender, the implication being that specifically trans women only dress as women in order to trick men. Some defend the term by arguing that there is no malicious intent, and that it is only used as a joke, but it is still hard to argue against its influence and meaning, especially considering that there have been hate crimes against transgender people which were justified using this same logic. If the word is recognized by transgender people as a slur, it might just be best to stop using it if it makes them feel marginalized.

What’s important is this: Being vunerable around someone means that you feel safe, and feeling safe in the environment you grow up and live in can be important both to one’s mental development and their adult mental health. If people continue to ignore the urgency of these problems, then many more lives could be in danger.

Thanks for reading friends. Be sure to be there for your friends and family, and help them when they need it. Also, have a good rest of Pride Month.

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OWLS January “Metamorphosis” Post: Becoming the Change We Want to Be

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Another month, another OWLS post, and this months topic is one that I actually like a lot. For January, our topic is Metamorphosis, as described below:

A brand new year means new beginnings and opportunities. We have a tendency to embrace the new year because it’s a time when we can start fresh. For this month’s topic, we will be exploring our favorite dynamic characters who undergo changes for better or for worse. We will analyze these characters’ transformations and how these transformations benefited or minimized these characters’ potential in becoming “great people/beings.” We will also use these characters as a way for us to reflect on our own lives and who we want to become. Lastly, we would like to say “Happy New Year, everyone!”

I would also recommend that you check out the other OWLS members like Takuto.

For this month’s topic, I’ve chosen to focus on a show that I have thought about a lot recently: Wandering Son. With that being said, here is the post:

With the coming of and going of each new year brings with it change. People resolve to change an aspect of themselves they don’t like, sometimes several, and more often than not just end up throwing out said resolutions a month into the new year, returning to the same habits that brought them unhappiness in the first place. However, for a certain group of people, the change that comes with resolving to be better is often scary, because it requires an outright rejection of societal norms.

Wandering Son is mainly the story of Takatsuki and Shuichi. Shuichi, or as she is more affectionately referred to in the story, Shu, is a boy who wishes to be a girl. Takatsuki is a girl who wishes to be a guy. In other words, they are transgender. However, their ability to express their gender is met with scorn and many societal roadblocks.

For those whose true gender is not as it was assigned to them at birth, the idea of change is both liberating and terrifying. On one hand, being able to express your gender in the way that you see as comfortable is great, but it often is not that simple. Many of those of attempt to do this are often met with resistance in the form of being told they are being silly, being rejected by family members, and sometimes even violence. In Wandering Son, many similar things happen.

At the beginning of the story, Shu and Takatsuki both start off in relatively similar places. Both are beginning to feel the social pressures of school clash with their desire to express their true gender, however, both of them have people who understand them enough to support and encourage their true identities. For Shu, that would Takatsuki and Makoto, another boy in his grade who wishes to be a girl. For Takatsuki, its Shu and Chizuru and Sasa. But, even though both Takatsuki and Shu have friends there to support them, the idea of making the change that they desperately want to is still extremely scary. It becomes even scarier for Shu when her sister Maho find her cross-dressing and starts calling her weird.

Fortunately, courage seems to find the two of them, or rather the two of them end up finding courage. While most of the first half of the show revolves around both Takatsuki and Shu being fairly uncomfortable with the idea of expressing their true gender, by the second half of the show, the two of them get a relative confidence boost. Shu starts going out in feminine clothes much more often then she used to, and Takatsuki starts moving towards wearing the male uniform at school. Even Yuki, a trans woman who befriends both Takatsuki and Shu before the beginning of the show’s story, by the end of the show, feels enough courage to go and see the kid’s school play while presenting as female.

Change can definitely be scary. It is by definition unfamiliar, and as animals we are biologically programmed to be scared of the unknown, to be distrustful of the good it can bring. However, much like Shu and Takatsuki are able to do throughout the course of Wandering Son, it is better to let change happen then to be scared of it because it can also be liberating.

Before I end the post, I just have to give respect to The Pendantic Romantic’s Video on Wandering Son that inspired this post in the first place. Her video is way more in-depth than anything I have ever written about… well anything, frankly. It is a fairly long watch, but highly worth it if you have the time. definitely give it a watch.

What kind of changes are you hoping to make this year? Let me know in the comments below. If you would like to support The Aniwriter, or are just feeling generous, consider donating on Ko-Fi or using my Amazon Affiliate Link to buy stuff:

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Two Sons Wander into a Bar, and Both are Really Scared About What Others Will Think (SPOILERS)

If there is one issue that has become increasingly more important in media, it is representation. I’ll admit that for a long time the concept was a bit foreign. The first time it was ever brought up to me was in my sophomore English class, and even then I only kind of understood it. As someone who’s only to minority status is through religious affiliation, it never really felt like that big of a deal. Since probably around the time I started this blog, I’ve become much more receptive to the idea, and with having just finished Wandering Son, It has become all the more clear not only how important these stories are, but just how powerful they can be.

Screenshot 2018-05-09 00.36.58.png

Wandering Son mainly focuses on the stories of two students, Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki, who, at the beginning of the show, are just starting their first year in middle school. The two have been childhood friends for awhile, but these two also share a secret: their transgender. Nitori, a boy, identifies as a girl, and Takatsuki, a girl, identifies as a boy. The two realize that middle school is going to be much harder between trying to keep their secret, making friends, and mending old relationships.

One of the most heartbreakingly well-written parts of this show is just how much of the characters pain you can feel through the story. Even for people who do not necessarily understand transgenderism, and there are still many, it is incredibly easy to feel the pain that Nitori and Takatsuki are going through. As kids, it is clear that they do not really have the ability to articulate what it is they are feeling, and most of their friends do not have the capacity to understand. Add in the extremely socially conservative Japanese culture, and you get just a glimpse of what any transgender kid growing up in Japan must be feeling.

It is also a testament to the show’s writing that even in a small, eleven window period that most of the characters feel fleshed out and most of the plot lines resolved. Both Nitori and Takatsuki come to terms with who they want to be, and who they feel they are. Chiba learns to accept that, despite her love for Nitori, that it is a love that will probably never come to pass. Mako, who at the beginning seems somewhat unimportant, ends up getting his own incredibly satisfying character arc. Even Anna, who only shows up about half-way through, manages to come across as the kind, understanding, somewhat stand-offish person the story meant for her to be.

Really, my only complaint on a story level is that there is not more. The pacing of the story was extremely well handled, with each episode having both continuing the plot as well as further highlighting the theme of identity is vital to a person’s life in every episode. However, after the eleventh episode, when a lot of the drama seems to ramp up again, it just stops. All the built up progress that was made with the two main characters and the audience is left feeling betrayed.

Wandering Son is a show where the animation takes a bit of a back seat to the writing and the characters. That is not to say that the show’s animation is bad, but simply to say that it was not the focus of the production team when making the show. Still, for what it is, it works. The show’s color palette focuses mostly on using lighter, more faded colors to emphasize a lot of the elements of its plot, like a lack of understanding about one’s self, as well as the growing distance between people.

Screenshot 2018-05-09 00.42.55.png

Nothing among the show’s musical score stands out as being particularly brilliant or deserving of praise, but it is by no means bad. The music does a great job in assisting in creating tension in the story when it needs to, like near the end of the show when Nitori starts to feel his and Takatsuki’s friendship growing apart because of his relationship with Anna.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write a formal review, and I’m really glad that I was able to find a show so worth reviewing. Wandering Son is very much a modern story, one filled with heartbreak, confusion, betrayal, redemption, and acceptance. Even its core theme of not being able to reveal your identity can be relatable in some way to one degree or another. I would absolutely suggest you check it out.

What do you guys think of Hourou Musuko Wandering Son? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!