The biggest otaku in the SoraNews24 office runs down his picks for the five series you need to see to feel like you “watched anime” in 2017.

Due to a historically unprecedented boom in otaku culture, there’s more anime being produced than ever before. In 2017 alone, more than 200 anime series were shown on TV, and while the hardest of hardcore otaku may have cleared out their schedules for each and every one, you can still have a burning love for the medium of Japanese animation without having found the time to watch all of them.

Luckily Seiji, our in-house Japanese-language anime otaku, is here with his picks for the five best anime of the past year, so that you know what to go back and watch if you missed them while they were airing.

Take it away, Seiji!

Kemono Friends

There were a a lot of great, and highly regarded, anime that started airing in January of 2017, like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Little Witch Academia, but this is the one that became a pop cultural phenomenon in Japanese society.

A second season has been announced, but in the fall the director of Season 1, Tatsuki, has been removed from the project, which is causing a lot of controversy. For both good and bad reasons, this was the most-talked about anime in 2017.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū – Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

Like Kemono Friends this one also premiered in January of 2017.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū might just be the anime most deserving of being called a “masterpiece” to have been released in recent years. The thorough depiction of the way of life of rakugo performers leaves you thinking “Just what does it mean to be alive?” even after you’ve finished watching the show, and the voice actors do an incredible job working with that sort of deep thematic material. The series is a shining jewel created by the honed skills of anime professionals.

Made in Abyss

If the best anime of the first half of 2017 was Kemono Friends, the best of the second half, in my personal opinion, was Made in Abyss. The theme of children facing challenges head-on, and the contrast of the despair-filled imagery of the deadly abyss and the beautiful background scenery made for an engrossing atmosphere. I can’t say enough how happy I am that a second season is on the way.

Welcome to the Ballroom

If we’re talking about big-name anime in 2017, we can’t leave out the two-cour Welcome to the Ballroom, which takes us into the world of competitive dance. As the series follows the shy protagonist into this unfamiliar-to-him setting, those of us in the audience also get swept up in the excitement, in keeping with time-honored sports anime traditions. It’s a series you can watch with a parental feeling as the main character evolves.

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend ♭

It was hard narrowing the list down to five anime, but I settled on last spring’s Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend ♭, which follows a group of indie game developers. You could call it a lightweight harem series, but it also shows the struggles and conflicts that come with being a media creator, and before I knew it, I had tears in my eyes almost every episode.

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