Two months ago I put up this listicle describing my favorite new media experiences from 2017. I put it together by keeping a log of everything I had consumed in 2017, and also noting which ones were released in 2017 – the latter list was set to be released after I had finished Twin Peaks: The Return.
While my failure to get out these lists on time is notable, you should know I am not keeping a log of everything I consume in 2018. The moment 2017 finished, I was done keeping track of everything I watched. I’d felt released from a great burden, and thus was not willing to put myself under another one.
Right now I don’t know if another top list is coming. Spoiler: Twin Peaks would top it. Clearly. This post can replace such a top list; it will, along with generally explaining my recent approach to consuming media, be a set of acknowledgments to notable media I’ve been consuming in the last three years.
Three years ago, I created a favorite anime ranking app for myself, inspired by the economic idea of preferences. Given any two options, there had to, objectively, be one that I preferred. So I figured I could sort what my favorite anime were based on that.
Later on, in early 2017, I figured I ought to be able to sort everything. Why not? 2016 had been full of brilliant media experiences.
Steven Universe had the “Summer of Steven”, which consisted of a season’s worth of the shows’ best content, coming at the heels of its excellent season 2 finale and season 3 premiere arcs, earlier that year. Welcome to Night Vale finished up its brilliant “Good Boy” arc, and followed it up at the end of the year with twin titans “Michigan” and “Toast”. Planetes, Welcome to the NHK!, The Tatami Galaxy, Hunter x Hunter (2011),and Paranoia Agent all joined the ranks of my favorite anime, my Gurren Lagann and Madoka Magica rewatches had cemented their statuses. Gravity Falls, one of my favorite shows of all time had its finale and Don’t Think Twice became one of this improviser’s favorite films.
While my enthusiasm had waned in the second half, the year’s endgame held some sweet surprises. Texhnolyze and Summer Wars were strong shows that matched up with my aesthetic sensibilities in strong ways, and K-On!! and Legend of the Galactic Heroes were some last minute favorites. Lest I forget one of my favorite webseries, Carmilla, had its final and overall best season.
That might not have even been everything. I wanted to have a year where I had everything written down. So that all those great experiences could be logged and revisited.
So 2017 was the year I logged things. On the whole, I’d gotten disappointed with anime. It wasn’t all bad. In addition to some good rewatches, Little Witch Academia and Owarimonogatari lived up to their hype, and Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou and Nichijou were some of the best-executed shows I’d seen. Yuu-Yuu Hakusho and Cardcaptor Sakura joined my long-show rotation, and while I still haven’t finished them they deserve some love.
Where 2017 really shone was all that it had to offer me outside of anime. I finally listened to The Meadowlands and it was everything I wanted music to be. After a year I finished Goodnight Punpun, my favorite manga. Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls blew my mind in regards to video games, Endless Jess’ Horseshoe Finale blew my mind for the potential of internet content, and Twin Peaks blew my mind to what art could be. I also caught up on Bojack Horseman and then months later binged through its stellar fourth season.
I also finally watched live action shows to a significant extent. Brooklyn Nine Nine was first, four seasons binged while I recovered from a nasty oral sickness, but Firefly and The Good Place followed.
More than just media I could put among my favorites, the year was full of media that I could sort and rank. Star vs the Forces of Evil and Samurai Jack were brilliant additions to my cartoon stockpile, as were several seasons of a certain Dreamworks/Netflix collaboration that will not be named. Doctor Who had its most consistent series since Series 6. The Uncanny Upshurs and Hamlet the Dame introduced me to Parafable, a collective supplying niche, fascinating, but ultimately very low-fi webseries. I kept track of what was airing to an extent. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Made in Abyss, and Rick and Morty aired very notable seasons. I also followed up on The Eccentric Family and Stranger Things, sequels that continued events pretty well, but perhaps lacked the freshness of the original. Point is, I consumed a crapload of media in 2017, and thinking about it and comparing it to other media was very enriching.
Yet 2018 doesn’t need a word document for me to feel excited about media. My live-action journey continues. Twin Peaks: The Return is one of the best shows I’ve seen. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of my favorites. I can check off The End of the F***ing World and GLOW, and I had a momentary obsession with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (turns out Rob McElhenney is the rich and successful version of Jesse Wood). This is to say nothing of both seasons of Atlanta, because nothing I could say about them could do them justice. TGP’s status-quo-shifting second season and B99’s excellent fifth season also had their finales. Right now, I’m watching Breaking Bad and really happy to be here.
I read Band vs. Band and it became one of my favorite uses of aesthetic in storytelling (ridiculously good webcomic, only rivaled by SMBC). The Blair Goddess Project took that low-fi Parafable-esque style of web-series and showed that these series could be not just good, but remarkable. I can not tell you why it has taken so long for me to write a post about this series, but one is out, and hopefully more are coming! Hopefully several are. All For One, a webseries based on The Three Musketeers (made by the makers of Carmilla), had its second season, and it was KindaTV’s best work yet.
I’m trying to play more video games. Bloodborne is every bit as fun as I wanted it to be, and Final Fantasy X has a very lovable story to accompany its somewhat baffling gameplay. Down the road I want to be able to play plenty of Dark Souls III and Final Fantasy VII, and finish the data battles in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Hopefully by 2020 I can get to the Yakuza games or try out Shadow of the Colossus.
I also shelled out for a huge DVD collection and finally made some positive progress in my live action movie list. Arrival and Mulholland Drive are now two of my favorite movies. I’ve got a lot to burn through, but I’m particularly excited about Shaun of the Dead and re-watching Wolf Children.
These have all been wonderful experiences, but they didn’t need to be ranked or pitted against each other for that to happen. I still love ranking things. Twin Peaks and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are #2 and #3 in live action TV, Arrival is movie #7 and is about as good as Gurren Lagann for me, etc. The giant list system, however, is too exhausting. I still have some giant lists, but it would be nice to think outside of that box for a bit and just enjoy things.
After all, the medium that probably most interests me at this point is low-budget web series. A college project like Blair Goddess or a single-frame like All For One is not gonna be as stylistically vibrant as a typical Fremulon show or Trigger anime, but their existences can be far more fascinating. Honestly, it might just be I need to give these shows more credit. I cannot repeat enough times how much I’ve gotten attached to Blair.
Hopefully I’ll be taking a break from listicles for some time. There’s got to be a lot more interesting things to say about stuff than how many things I think some show is better than, and being good does not merit an article. Why should I use blurbs to communicate how I’ve been enjoying things when there can be far more to say about one thing than the other?
Why should Evangelion and Twin Peaks, two of my favorite shows that have been talked about to death around the internet, merit real estate in some listicle over Utena, Monogatari, and Ping Pong, largely discussed favorites that I have a lot more to say about, or series that I don’t want to “rank” but still have a lot to say about?
Anyhow, no more ranking blurb lists, as much as a top 30 shows list might be actually super fun or interesting. But let’s see how long that lasts.