• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

The Best Anime of 2017
The Best Characters of 2017

Amy McNulty

Elias Ainsworth (The Ancient Magus' Bride)

Though he's decidedly inhuman in so many respects, mage Elias is one of the standout characters of the year. His appearance is monstrous, clashing with his reticent demeanor. He's yet to learn the intricacies of human behavior, yet he manages to quickly win the admiration and respect of his charge, Chise. When the things he loves are threatened, he's a force to be reckoned with. He can even be humorous at times, albeit unintentionally. Though he has a lot of room to grow, Elias is fascinating to watch.

Lauren Orsini

Nene Sakura (New Game!!)

In New Game!!, Nene is adorable but sort of bumbling and impulsive. In the second season, she undergoes some impressive character development that shows just how far she's willing to go for her dreams. After her summer internship as an Eagle Jump debugger ends, Nene goes back to college and decides to create a C++ video game from scratch. It's enough to get her foot in the door, but her resolve is tested once again by Naru, an intern who has devoted her life to studying the programming languages Nene just got started learning. Nene's surprising tenacity in navigating her relationship with Naru and overcoming her lazy inclinations to produce awesome work make her a role model for the rest of us.

Jacob Chapman

Ymir (Attack on Titan season 2)

This contest was truly tough to narrow down, but as an outstanding exercise in taking a background character from "who was that again?" to stealing the spotlight and ripping out my heartstrings, it's hard to beat Ymir. Thanks to some sharp editing that shifted her backstory from way later chapters in the manga to a prime climax of this season, we got a surprisingly intimate portrait of everything that makes this reluctant traitor so unexpectedly lovable. From her tragically codependent yet uplifting relationship with Christa to her desire for freedom at the cost of her own self-worth, Ymir turned out to be a wonderfully complex addition to Titan's cast of struggling soldiers.

Rebecca Silverman

Akko (Little Witch Academia)

I thought briefly about making my choice Cardia from Code:Realize simply because she grew so much over the course of the show, but in the end I kept coming back to Akko. Akko is the kind of character I've always been attracted to – the one who never gives up despite the odds, who always keeps trying even though she screws up time and again, the one who never doubts that one of these days, she'll come out on top. Can't master flying? Find a broom that does it for you! Not good at transformation magic? Figure out a way to use that to your advantage! Akko has moments of self-doubt, but she always finds a way to stand by what's important to her, no matter if that's her friends, her love of magic, or her belief in her hero Shiny Chariot. She can be annoying sure, but at the end of the day, Akko's the one writing her own story, no matter what anyone else has to say about it.

Lynzee Loveridge

Mitty (Made in Abyss)

Introducing the character that broke viewers' hearts around the globe. Mitty was a shoe-in pick for best of the year as a symbol of not only friendship, but humanity itself. When she's first introduced, Mitty appears to be a strange pet of Nanachi's that lives with her while she bides her time in the Abyss. But Mitty didn't always look the way she does, and we eventually find out find out that she's a source of emotional struggle for Nanachi who feels both responsibility for her current condition and her prolonged suffering. The Abyss creates all kinds of monsters, but despite her appearance, Mitty isn't one of them. It's hard to say if Nanachi would have held on to her own humanity for so long if it weren't for her memories and time with Mitty. She's both a source of inner strength of Nanachi and a reminder of the cruelty of the world of adults.

James Beckett

Nanachi (Made in Abyss)

Even though Reg and Riko are undoubtedly the leads of Made in Abyss, it is the mysterious fluffy creature known as Nanachi that's rightfully become the breakout character of the series. Though they don't show up until the final few episodes of the anime's first season, Nanachi ends up completing the emotional core of the story in a way that becomes surprisingly necessary given their late arrival. After facing some of the deadliest and most harrowing trials the Abyss has to offer, Reg find himself desperately trying to save Riko from succumbing to nearly fatal injuries, and Nanachi's firsthand knowledge of the Abyss comes to our heroes' aid. Not only do they provide a wealth of experience and a unique perspective that Riko and Reg sorely lack, Nanachi's sardonic attitude and cloying personality offer a refreshing change of pace from Riko and Reg's general seriousness, and Shiori Izawa's impeccable performance captures these qualities perfectly. As the season concludes, Made in Abyss provides some devastating revelations on how Nanachi and Mitty came to call the Abyss their home. This is when it becomes clear that, while Riko and Reg make up the beating heart of this story, Nanachi gives us a glimpse into the hauntingly affecting soul of the series in a way that no other character can.

Paul Jensen

Elias Ainsworth (The Ancient Magus' Bride)

Hiding behind Elias Ainsworth's unreadable skull face is a fascinating and complex character. In the first half of the series alone, we've already seen many sides to the enigmatic mage. He's an emotionally distant creature who doesn't think twice about buying a human being at an auction, yet he also goes far out of his way to take care of his new apprentice. He has tea with the village pastor and makes medicine for little old ladies, and yet he's also a formless mass of power and violence that may have eaten humans in the past. Despite all of his apparent contradictions, Elias remains a charismatic and even sympathetic character who has great chemistry Chise, the show's human protagonist. The more I learn about him, the more I want to know.

Gabriella Ekens

Astolfo (Fate/Apocrypha)

That's right, it's the perky pink paladin and Fate/Apocrypha's inimitable Rider of Black, Astolfo! For this category, I could have gone with someone from a psychologically complex character piece, like Scum's Wish's Hanabi for Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū's Yakumo Yuurakutei, but I'm going with this fellow instead. It can be more fun to write about the memorable mascots than the subdued depictions of actual humanity, and I'm in the mood for some fun right now. The best character in his Grail War, Astolfo became popular the second he debuted, and it's easy to see why – he's one of the few sensible people to participate in this magical dick-measuring contest, alongside being extremely cute and lovable. He's also the secret real hero of the show, as the only reason why its homunculus protagonist Sieg ever escaped the glass case he was meant to die in. Also, he has a flying bird-horse! How could anyone pick Jeanne over Astolfo? Sieg needs to learn to recognize a babe when he sees one. Especially when that babe is the only reason why he's even alive.

Nick Creamer

Phosphophyllite (Land of the Lustrous)

I have to give this one to Phos. Phos is the cornerstone of Land of the Lustrous, a character with a charmingly goofy exterior that belies their crippling self-doubt, and even self-hatred. Early on, snappy dialogue and great character acting sell Phos as a screwup worth believing in, a happy-go-lucky character it's always fun to follow. As Phos weathers crushing defeat after crushing defeat, their physical changes are matched with an emerging emotional complexity that makes Phos feel like the beaten, bruised, desperately resilient icon of 2017. It's a harsh world out there, and Phos's character wears every scar.

Chris Farris

Morioka Moriko (Recovery of an MMO Junkie)

It's funny, growing up watching anime I never really cottoned to the ‘self-insert teenager protagonist’ scheme, no matter how many shonen superpower fantasies or implausible harem romances I watched. But this goofy video-game love story drops in one aimless thirty-year-old and I'm suddenly sucked in by the awareness of my own idiosyncrasies. Granted, Moriko isn't a great character simply because she's relatable, but because the same qualities that also make her a unique protagonist. She's a character that could have ended up painful or embarrassing to watch, but it's instead adorable how honest her portrayal feels. Characteristic tics like her stress-cleaning her apartment or anxiously twirling around with her pillow in the ending theme both endear her to us as a person and help us understand how her mind works. And that's to say nothing of her deeper desperation to connect with people online while still keeping them at arm's length due to her own insecurities. Right from the start of the series, it becomes impossible not to root for MoriMori all the way through.

Theron Martin

Hikari Takanashi (Interviews with Monster Girls)

Though not the protagonist of her series, I can't think of any other character I saw in 2017 who made a stronger positive impression. Her energetic, ditzy, and irresistibly personable approach to being a vampire girl made her a constant delight, complete with all her amusing quirks, and she was the glue that united the monster girl group of the series. Other top candidates include the titular character from Saga of Tanya the Evil and Magane Chijujoin, the lie-twisting Creation from Re:CREATORS.

Anne Lauenroth

Elias Ainsworth (The Ancient Magus' Bride)

My best character of 2016 was Kikuhiko/Yakumo from the close-to-perfect Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū. My first instinct this year was to pick him yet again, but for the sake of not turning all my contributions into Rakugo fangirling, I'm going to go with Elias Ainsworth from The Ancient Magus' Bride. Already full of fascinating contradictions, I have high hopes for his mysterious origin and journey to deliver on all my favorite T's: tragic, touching, and thematically interesting.

Mike Toole

Sucy (Little Witch Academia)

Something inscrutable about her lousy posture, her dour attitude, and her wild enthusiasm for poisoning people just gets me on her side.

discuss this in the forum (154 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

back to The Best Anime of 2017
Feature homepage / archives