2016 was an…interesting year in the wider sense of things, but in the narrow world of anime it has been one of the strongest of the decade so far. It might not have had the absolute highs of 2013 but it had a greater strength in depth where there were anime it hurt me that I couldn’t fit them on the list, and anime I wish I had finished but never got around to. It didn’t have the breadth of different tastes catered to as 2011, but also didn’t have that year’s extraordinary lows. It had the dumbass butt shows like last year but also critical darlings and intellectual masterpieces. 2016 was pretty great for anime is what I’m saying, so I’m here to count down my top 10 anime of this year, as well as hand out a couple of other awards.
As I’ve done for the past few years, I’m opening a poll for my readers (what’s left of you at least, although hopefully everyone is streaming back with all this hot content I’ve been posting lately) to vote on their favourite anime of the year.
Same rules apply as ever. It must be an anime series that ended in 2016, so no March Comes in Like a Lion, Twin Star Exorcists or Gundam the Origin. Similarly no split cours anime with sequels announced as soon as the previous season ended, which crosses off Drifters and Berserk. Everything else is cool, which includes long running franchises that ended this year like Fairy Tail. Vote after the jump.
It’s been fun this last year. Anime has been generally quite good and we just had our wonderful Christmas meals and a big comfort sleep after a massive dinner and too much chocolate. But before we enter the new year, there is one final cleansing exercise we must all embark on. On the day furthest from Christmas, as I have done in 2015, and 2014, and even 2013, even even 2012, as too in 2011, and even 2010, we must list the worst moments in anime in 2016.
Sukeroku’s final performance is the perfect final encapsulation of everything that makes Shouwa Era Rakugo Shinjuu such a great anime. From the very first episode I had always admired how the anime showed the entire rakugo performances because to properly use them to tell your story, you needed a level of nuance beyond most others. The voice acting had to be on point to get across how the characters were feeling and the different methods of delivery. The animation and directing could only really use very subtle movements and gestures to get across their meaning without it just being a boring radio play. Rakugo did this time and again, but it was in their final performance that they nailed it harder than anywhere else.
There was a fantastic moment in the first episode of My Hero Academia that I felt summed up what the show was trying to say. The main character had just been told he doesn’t have any superpowers. To a kid like him who watched videos of heroes endlessly and wanted nothing more in his life to be one, this was a crushing blow on a level like telling a kid with no legs that they’ll never be a sprinter after they watched videos of Bolt running at the Olympics. His mother at this point catches him watching his favourite video of his hero again with tears in his eyes, asking if he can still be a hero.
Bodybuilders have always struck me as weird. It’s not about being fit and healthy, which I could understand. It’s the strange desire to achieve an unnatural image of ripped muscles so they can feel more attractive. Maybe it has something to do with body building magazine covers featuring frankly unhealthy amounts of veins ready to burst. Or the body building forums I stumbled in that felt one step away from pick up artist forums, as though you could get those dumb bitches in the sack by flexing those biceps like it’s some kind of stat you build until you’re able to cross that magic attractiveness threshold. Thanks to Mob Psycho 100, I now see things differently.
It took me several episodes before I figured out what March Comes in Like a Lion was actually about. It was when they started talking to us about the main character’s adoptive family that it became clear to me. It was a story about depression. A kid with complicated feelings about his adoptive father and what impact he had on his step-siblings, his feelings around shogi and his loneliness in his life, alongside some more standard parts of depression such as being depressed that you are depressed. However it didn’t really hit hard for me what the catalyst for his depression was until we met his step sister.