It would be nice to end this personal look back at ten years of anime watched with some sort of “happily ever after, at least for now” proclamation. However, when I turned to a list of titles for this year I couldn’t seem to see many that grabbed hold of me again. For previous years I’ve been able to fill out my choices with series I’ve seen some time after their initial streaming. There could be the chance of that given I don’t have subscriptions to every streaming service and didn’t quite muster the resolve to go looking for limited theatrical screenings, and yet that doesn’t help here and now. That’s not to say the only titles I watched and quite liked this year came from years previous (even as I did revisit a slew of older series and saw some vintage titles for the first time); I did get caught up in the second Mob Psycho 100, the fifth Symphogear, and the third Chihayafuru series. Having managed to keep from padding out previous posts with “sequels,” though, I can wonder now “and how many things from over here start with familiar names these days?”

As for the first title to get my attention, thinking of The Promised Neverland touched off my petty, penny-pinching streak towards series licensed by Aniplex of America, getting in the way again of appreciating a “grade school Great Escape”in the face of a ghoulish fate. The series is, after all, foreboding, tense, and yet plotted with enough care to make small victories impactful. As I kept casting around for other possibilities to mention here, Netflix did stream the first half of Carole & Tuesday, a “musical odd couple” series with its own solid production values and a dash of science fiction for flavour. I suppose this gives me the choice between “a series buying the home video release of which would require more convincing for me than I get that every extra cent of its stiff price went into superior encoding and packaging” and “a series that might not be available on home video over here at all.” On the other hand, both series might hang in the balance of their continuation (closer to hand for the second), even if I could right now read the original manga for The Promised Neverland or just seek out “fansubs” for Carole & Tuesday. To throw a third option in just for the sake of having one, I do find myself contemplating Granbelm, but that might be most motivated by once more feeling sorry for “the usual reaction of others for mecha anime these days.” (That reaction here, though, might be more because of the final machinations of the “magical girl” side of the cross-pollination that got my attention in the first place.)

Looking back for a decade has sparked a few thoughts of looking the same distance forward. Unfortunate thoughts can come to mind of general apocalypses removing anime and many other things from the picture, even if some might be left to feel regretful. Even that, though, might be just a wry distraction from supposing any one of the dire fates forecast for years now just for anime might come to pass at last, leaving the shell of an industry in Japan (computer-animated or not) or just overseas imitations (which might look as skewed as they once did or just feel off, regardless of whether they’re still “overseas” from this continent). That in turn, however, could be another distraction, this one from completely personal fates. Being able to still watch anime at the start of the ten years I’ve looked back over seems a matter of having been able to adapt, but I suppose it’s possible I might stiffen up at last over the next ten even as new audiences arise. It’s also possible I might become more interested in something else, more live-action or domestic or both, to watch, or just get away from “watching videos” altogether. Against all those dystopian possibilites, though, I can pit one ambiguous utopia. While the idea might have snuck into my mind more than ten years ago from a daydreaming “editorial,” I do ponder what might happen if “expert systems” develop to the point where anyone can give a vague suggestion and get a new anime series, or one that looks like it was made years ago, adjusted to meet their exact tastes. The only problem there would be any thought of “a shared audience” vanishing altogether.