2023 is in the books and that means it’s time to look back fondly (or not so fondly) on the year and to determine what my personal favorite anime was from the past 365 days.
As always, when it comes to editorials such as this, I have to put the disclaimer out there that this is based on what I have personally watched so if your personal favorite show didn’t make the cut, it’s because I either dropped it or I didn’t watch it. If you have your own choice, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
As customary, let’s take a look at the past winners!
2022: Yofukashi no Uta
2021: Tokyo Revengers
2018: Violet Evergarden
2017: Made in Abyss
2015: Death Parade
2014: Your Lie in April
2013: Kill la Kill
2012: Shinsekai Yori
2011: Steins;Gate (also my Anime of the Decade)
2010: RAINBOW: nisha rokubou no shichinin
So, which show will be joining this prestigious list? Well, first… let’s take a look at all of the shows I watched this past year, and then I’ll go over the rules.
Vinland Saga S2
Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko
Tokyo Revengers: Seiya Kessen-hen
Tokyo Revengers: Tenjiku-hen
Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken
Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 2nd Attack
Kubo-san wa Mob wo Yurusanai
Oniichan wa Oshimai!
[Oshi no Ko]
Yamada-kun to Lv999 no Koi wo Suru
Isekai de Cheat Skill wo Te ni Shita Ore wa, Genjitsu Sekai wo mo Musou Suru: Level Up wa Jinsei wo Kaeta
Tonikaku Kawakii S2
Boku no Kokoro no Yabai Yatsu
Dead Mount Death Play
Dead Mount Death Play S2
Otonari ni Ginga
My Home Hero
Ao no Orchestra
Suki na Ko ga Megane wo Wasureta
Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru
Yumemiru Danshi wa Genjitsushugisha
Hataraku Maou-sama!! 2nd Season
Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (2023)
Ai no Idenshi
Spy x Family S2
Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari S3
Sousou no Frieren
Kimi no Koto ga Daidaidaidaidaisuki na 100-nin no Kanojo
Boku no Ameiro Protocol
Compared to 2022, the list of shows I watched, or attempted to watch, has doubled! There were just a lot of great things to watch but, sadly, there are quite a few that are not going to win.
The reason is that I like to pick something new. That means, yes, there are sequel seasons in this list that could overtake my pick (Tokyo Revengers Tenjiku-hen, for example) but I don’t think it’s fair. That’s why I only choose shows that either aired their first season or are just a one-and-done show.
With that in mind, here are my Top 5 Anime of 2023.
5. Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken
The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten was one of the best slice-of-life romances I had seen in a while. I remember when the show ended, I had felt complete with everything that had been presented to me. It’s very, VERY rare that a show will give you want you want right out of the gate in its first season… a conclusive and satisfactory ending. In fact, I enjoyed what was presented so much, it could have ended right then and there and I would have been perfectly happy with it; however, we are getting a second season which means we get to see them together as a couple and possibly go through some ups and downs. All the while, the tension, the build-up, and the cuteness were all there and the payoff rewarded us who were screaming at them to get together. With how complete it felt, there was no way this show wouldn’t make the list!
4. Dead Mount Death Play
Whoa! Hold on a second! I thought you said shows with a second season were eliminated. Yes, I did; however, there was no “second season.” The first season aired in two separate cours in part 1 and part 2 fashion and both parts aired in 2023. Plus, the second half is still called Dead Mount Death Play, not Dead Mount Death Play Season 2… therefore, it counts.
Ryohgo Narita has done it again. After giving us great stories with Baccano and Durarara!!, Dead Mount Death Play continued his style of storytelling of creating multiple factions and characters within those factions, giving them their own unique stories, and having them all intersect with one another in some way, shape, or form… all while tossing in a bit of sci-fi into an otherwise gritty slice-of-life scenario. This time, it’s more fantasy than sci-fi but that begs the question… just because the roots are in fantasy, would fantasy and magic be considered sci-fi in a real-world setting? I don’t mean from a literal perspective but from a human perspective as the observer of not-of-this-world events. Philosophy aside, Narita proved with this show why he is one of my favorite storytellers in all of anime and manga… right up there with Inio Asano and Makoto Shinkai! If you haven’t, watch both parts of this show, you won’t regret it!
3. Boku no Ameiro Protocol
Our Rainy Protocol, or Protocol: Rain, just wrapped up prior to me writing this so, to me, this feels like a broken record but to summarize what I wrote in my review, I loved this show because of the niche genre presented here… gaming and eSports… is right up my alley. The story told was fairly decent and even though the characters suffered some in their development, and no second season (as of the time of this writing) has been announced, thus, leaving plot points wide open without resolution, there was something about this show that made me come back to it week after week. So much so that I looked forward to 2 PM every Saturday with the new episode dropped. It was the only show this season that I ended up watching the moment it came out. Despite the flaws, I just enjoyed this show so much and it proves that a show doesn’t have to be perfect to be considered entertaining and fun to watch. Plus, I really want to play Xaxxerion now!
2. Tengoku Daimakyou
Heavenly Delusion… Yeah. I know some people are going to smack me for putting this show at number two. People have told me that they couldn’t get into it and neither could Japan… selling just a little over 600 Blu-rays in the first week which means… no second season. While the world may be against me in this one, I, personally, highly enjoyed this show. Parallel stories being told against one another, the character development, the mystique, and the mystery of the world, all of it came together in such a way that just like with Protocol: Rain, I watched every episode as it came out. I couldn’t get enough of it. Fearing that there wouldn’t be a second season due to low sales, I bought the manga just so I could continue the journey myself. I loved this show that much. Call me crazy all you want but there are only three shows that made me feel this way. Two of which made me buy the manga. This is one of them. Protocol isn’t the other because there is no source with it being an original show… so that means the third show that did that is my #1 pick.
I give you my 2023 Anime of the Year…
1. Boku no Kokoro no Yabai Yatsu
Of course… those who know me know that romance and romantic comedies are my absolute favorite genres in all of anime, manga, and light novels; however, looking at the past winners, there are not many of those in there. The reason being is that up until now, I have only thoroughly enjoyed and/or was disappointed by every romance/rom-com show that I have watched. Not a single one of them, except for Your Lie in April, made me scream at my monitor when the episode ended because I couldn’t believe it was over.
The Dangers in My Heart made me do just that… and it made me buy the manga despite the fact that a second season was announced (and starting in just a couple of weeks from the day this was posted!). While, Angel Next Door gave me a conclusive ending, Dangers did not but I was able to forgive it because we were getting a second season. We knew that right from the very end of the first season’s finale. Still… this was everything I wanted a romance show to be. Even Angel Next Door, as good as it was, didn’t give me the feelings I felt when watching Dangers. Even though the premise of the show was dropped early on and I thought that they could have extended it just a little bit longer, I realize that after coming out of the other side of the first season, it wasn’t necessary for the show to do that. Everything about Anna and Kyoutarou screamed innocence incarnate. I just love how they played off one another and it’s why I was screaming at them to get together. It truly was the one show that captured my attention the most this entire year!
So, that’s it! Those are my Top 5 Anime of 2023.
Again, if you have something different, feel free to toss it down below!
Until next year… look forward to what’s to come in 2024 and enjoy anime, everybody!