You could say that 2023 was a good year for anime: we got to see some amazing new titles, long-anticipated sequels, and iconic finales. With the year now officially behind us, we at Anime Corner News once again picked our favorites. Keep in mind that this list is just a personal opinion, based on our tastes and preferences – in no way should it be seen as an official score (that’s what our Anime Corner rankings, where everyone can vote, are for). With that out of the way, it’s time to see what we enjoyed the most in anime terms in 2023!
ACN – Best Anime of 2023
- Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End – Brett
- Trigun Stampede – Eric
- Tengoku Daimakyo – Tamara
- Bungo Stray Dogs Season 5 – Carla
- Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead – Karla
- Vinland Saga Season 2 – Dali
- The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady – Ken
- Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End – Teddy
- ONE PIECE – Marko
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End – Brett
In a year that’s included the completion of culturally significant shows like Attack on Titan, or the action-packed (if production-challenged) second season of Jujutsu Kaisen, it speaks volumes about an anime to steal the thunder for the entire year right at the very end. Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End sits comfortably among those masterpieces such as Violet Evergarden—the type of anime you simply must recommend to someone—and I say that as someone who ignored the calls to read the manga for years. From beautiful, poignant moments about the fragility of life, romance, and bonds; to climatic battles with raging magic and genuine stakes, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End exceeds at every turn. Effortlessly pulling together a loveable main crew with distinct personalities, and a music score by Evan Call (the music composer for Violet Evergarden, as it was), every moment of Frieren—even the wistful, quiet scenes, is truly art quite unlike any other.
Trigun Stampede – Eric
There are plenty of anime that could deserve this title but I’m going with Trigun Stampede. Studio Orange took on a huge task to put their own spin on one of the most iconic series in anime. Despite receiving some doubts considering it was all CGI, the team that worked on this anime for years ahead of its release exceeded in ways I didn’t think were possible. Trigun Stampede was a riveting piece of storytelling that only a few series from this year can compete with, and even then I don’t think it’s close.
When you take an element of animation production, in this case, CGI, that tends to worry the community and turn it into something so visually stunning that it even trumps most 2D animation, it really puts into perspective just how amazing Trigun Stampede really was as a whole. The voice acting—brilliant. The soundtrack—on constant rotation. I think everything that was put together to make this series the masterpiece that it was, even cameos from the original voice cast, shined brightly in their own ways that no other series did this year.
Tengoku Daimakyo – Tamara
If Attack on Titan finale had a weekly format in 2023 that would definitely be my pick for Anime of the Year. Although it was something I looked forward to the most in the past year, I felt like I needed to give this recognition to a title that truly surprised me and that had me looking forward to each new episode. Tengoku Daimakyo: Heavenly Delusion first caught my eye when the trailer with the opening theme song dropped. That trailer was the reason I gave the series a go and it did not leave me disappointed.
The mystery, the characters, the writing – it felt like each episode had something new. Sometimes, it was a horrifying reveal but other times nothing really happened and I was okay with that. I enjoyed seeing Kiruko and Maru travel, hang out, and just do nothing. I hope this anime gets a second season with the same staff because this combination of story and visual storytelling was simply incredible. It may not be the most popular anime of the year, but it was definitely one of the best and it deserves to be recognized as such.
Bungo Stray Dogs Season 5 – Carla
I was actually leaning toward Zom 100 since it was my most enjoyable anime watch of 2023, but hey, I’m a Bungo Stray Dogs fan through and through! I’ve known the franchise since 2016 so seeing the story come this far makes me so happy, not to mention how big the fandom is now. Season 5’s dynamic was a roller coaster that was interesting to experience. However, my most frustrating yet favorite part was that the finale episode was dark, uncharted territory– both manga readers and anime watchers didn’t know what to expect. At that point, we were already hit with so many plot twists and whatnot. But with the way the finale was delivered? Just, incredible.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead – Karla
For some reason, I often have nightmares that revolve around a zombie apocalypse, so watching any content related to it tends to give me the chills. However, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is a delightful exception. The animation, voice actors, and storyline are nothing short of a masterpiece. I especially appreciate how Akira Tendou maintains optimism amidst the world’s demise, and how he teaches us to enjoy our lives and stay committed to it.
This series has been a poignant reminder of the value of cherishing moments with loved ones and actively nurturing one’s own happiness. It beautifully emphasizes the importance of investing time and effort in cultivating joy and meaningful connections. To me, that stood out when it comes to anime in 2023, so this is why I’m choosing Zom 100 as my favorite.
Vinland Saga Season 2 – Dali
The first season of Vinland Saga was a somewhat classical story of revenge. With a dark tone, amazing fights, and a realistic story, it was able to garner many fans and cement itself as a staple of action animes. When season 2 starts, however, we find out that season 1 is merely a long prologue for the real story that it wants to tell. Season 2 tells a story of redemption, and focuses on the part that most revenge storylines brush off or skip completely.
What was the point of seeking revenge? When all is said and done, was there any meaning to the merciless slaughter? How does someone who let his ego run wild for so long, accept losing his freedom? How does someone who grew up killing and stealing for a living, switch to a living of tilling the land? How does someone who grew cold and without mercy accept someone else’s clemency? Season 2 focuses on Thorfinn’s journey as he finds his answers to these questions. The introduction of Einar to the cast serves as a catalyst for Thorfinn to face his past; in another timeline, he could have been another victim of his. The start of season 2 could be seen as slow-paced by some people, but it is essential as it slowly shows the inner progress of Thorfinn, and the message of the story would fall flat if not for the buildup occurring during that first part. The payoff for that is delivered in the second half, with the few final episodes of the series being simply phenomenal. From an aggressive boy who attacks everything that moves, to a man who declares proudly that he has no enemies after being battered down, Vinland Saga is a tale about Thorfinn’s journey to finding peace and freedom, and to becoming a true warrior.
The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady – Ken
Coming from Diomedea, a studio that barely produces anything great, plus the fact that the story was another isekai with a long title, it was so easy to scratch The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady off the watchlist. If it weren’t for its yuri genre, I would’ve easily skipped this anime, thinking that it was just another forgettable isekai trash. But thank goodness I didn’t because The Magical Revolution proved to be one of the best series I’ve watched this year.
Simply put, this series has shattered my expectations completely. Everything about it is fantastic: Anisphia and Euphyllia are the best duo (or couple) of the year by having a phenomenal dynamic. The animation along with the music is superb, the fight scenes are intense, and the art is just enough to make you feel immersed in this fantasy world. The cast was also a huge factor in why I love this series as Manaka Iwami, Sayaka Senbongi, Shogo Sakata, and the rest gave soulful performances. But what really made me choose this as my anime of the year among all the amazing shows this year is the intertwining of storylines; everything connects and happens for a reason. There wasn’t an unnecessary moment until the very end. It made me cherish every scene, every frame, and every dialogue. The entire 12-episode series felt like a carefully crafted masterpiece. Anis and Euphie’s revolution was a captivating journey that left an unforgettable mark, proving that sometimes, the most unexpected and best gems come from the unlikeliest of places. It truly was magical.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End – Teddy
Before anyone comes at me and says “Dude, you haven’t gotten to the best part yet”, the 16 episodes that are currently out are enough evidence for me why this anime is my title of the year. From the very first four episodes that premiered, the animation and storytelling premise already made me fall in love with this series. But more than that, Frieren taught a very important lesson: make the effort to create memories with someone. This series really hits you with this sinking feeling of how every second is important, and that you must take the time to cherish every worthy memory you have.
Much like how Frieren’s story is now focused on retracing the steps she took alongside her previous party, the series has inspired me to retrace all of those old memories I had and try my best to reconnect with the people I lost track of along the way. More than the pimp and glory the series shows, I have been more invested in the show’s slow pace, and how it makes you really think to enjoy life, not through all of these big milestones but rather even through mundane moments. If there is one quote that I can finally embody moving forward, it would be Eisen’s “My fear has brought me this far”. And I think such lessons and life realizations are enough reasons for me to name Frieren as my anime of 2023.
ONE PIECE – Marko
Despite some great seasonal shows, my Anime of the Year for 2023 is definitely ONE PIECE. It had a consistently strong run for the conclusion of Wano throughout the year, and I think it gave a deservedly high-quality adaptation to all the important moments. Besides the obvious Gear 5 hype, Zoro and Sanji also got amazing episodes for their fights against King and Queen. Law and Kid’s fight against Big Mom was yet another one in a seriously packed year of action. Props to Toei and I look forward to what they’re cooking in Egghead!
We’d love to hear about your favorite anime titles of 2023 so feel free to drop us a comment below!