16 CommentsYear in Review / By Scamp /

The Anime of the Year Awards and Top 10 Anime Series of 2016


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.

#10: Space Patrol Luluco

lulucoandnovaLuluco was Trigger’s enjoyable little feel-good bonkers short series about a dumb teenage girl experiencing her first love. Also her dad is a talking brain, her mum is an intergalactic space pirate, her boss is Inferno Cop’s long lost cousin, and her boyfriend is a hilarious idealistic vision of what teenage girls think is hot. It’s wacky yet surprisingly heartfelt, which is why I ended up being so taken with this dumb little series. There’s a weak segment in the middle where they decide to include references to all their other works, but everything else is huge fun that I really got into and the kind of thing I want Trigger to make all the time.

#9: Keijo!!!!!!!!

keijoKeijo, with its 8 exclamation points, is the best super robot anime in years. All right sure it may have replaced the super robots with butts, but that doesn’t change much. It’s super-powered, ridiculous shounen attacks with people screaming their names and their hilarious logic for how these attacks work. It’s a weird kind of anti-fanservice where giving yourself the wedgie of a lifetime is the key to unlocking your super-speed attacks where every hit sounds like you just bounced a volleyball inside a steel echo chamber. It’s a series where whipping off your bikini top is the sign that you’re about to use your nipple as a hook to utilise a judo throw. All right maybe it’s not the series you would show your parents, and the non-Keijo parts are stupid and boring, but it’s shockingly entertaining nonsense that takes itself just seriously enough to somehow get invested in this bikini clad sumo wrestle magical sport.

2016’s 2017 Anime of the Year: March Comes in Like a Lion

3-gatsu-no-lion-11-large-39This award is always the first one I give out because it prevents people from asking where a certain anime is when it hasn’t ended yet. It’s the award for the best anime that aired this year that didn’t actually finish yet. Both Gundam the Origin and Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans were good shouts, but both got a mention in this award last year and neither have finished yet, so mentioning them twice for this award seems weird. But even if I did include them, there’s one anime that stormed forward and took the nomination with some truly phenomenal episodes lately: March Comes in Like a Lion. Let’s hope it continues in 2017 as strongly as it ended 2016.

#8: My Hero Academia

boku-no-hero-academia-08-large-22My Hero Academia is the most hopeful and inspiring of the many shounen action anime out there. Its message that you can achieve your dreams no matter what your disabilities are is powerful and worthwhile. Call it naive if you want, but the way it’s presented is fantastic and makes it stick out from its contemporaries. Asides from that it’s just another good fun shounen action anime with a great cast of side characters with well-rounded motivations and some…rather ridiculous character designs, for good and for not. All Might is my hero and he is beautiful and I want him to remain the shining beacon of hope that he stands for. Looking forward to that second season.

#7: 91 Days

91-days-12-6591 Days very much wants to be a Godfather anime. It’s set in its genre and wants to execute that story with as thoroughly and efficiently as possible. That may sound like damning with faint praise but in reality what it means is that everything about the writing, story construction, and character development works perfectly as intended. It crafts an excellent revenge story with rounded characters and engaging dialogue. It’s just so well done in everything it does, from the pacing to the shot composition. It’s basically perfect in what it does. We don’t review from 10 then knock off points for errors, which is why it isn’t automatically anime of the year, but it’s still an excellent anime that deserves to be recognised for its achievements.

Best Anime I didn’t finish this year: Code Geass: Akito the Exiled

code-geass-boukoku-no-akito-01-large-29A newly created award for the anime that really should have made it but I hadn’t finished it by the time the end of the year appeared, something that will be increasingly likely given that the number of anime made each year continues to increase and I’m getting older so have less time. The Great Passage could have easily taken this award but because it was streaming on Amazon I kept forgetting it existed so never got fully caught up. But instead I’m giving this to Akito the Exiled, because I am a huge, hopeless Geass fanboy and have really enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. But the final 2 episodes I had downloaded and was getting ready to watch before writing this post had broken subtitles so I never was able to finish it. The lesson here anime companies is please put your anime on streaming platforms anime fans use.

#6: Osomatsu-san

osomatsu-san-23-13How on earth did a sequel to the most harmless of kids anime from the 60s turn into this raucous blue comedy where people shit on tables in coffee shops and rip off their bollocks to give to children so they can use it as a baseball? This is what happens I suppose when you let Japan run wild with their comedy. A sort of no-holds-barred parade of weirdness and inappropriate behavior. It’s wonderfully imaginative and capable of messing with convention when it wants to as well. It was something of a minor sensation in Japan too, which shows that producers should let comedy writers spread their wings a bit, as well as animators draw something outside of the ordinary. It’s creative and inventive and I want to see more anime like this.

#5: Haikyuu

haikyuu-third-season-01-large-12I figured maybe I would start to get bored of Haikyuu in season 2 and 3 since it didn’t seem like the characters had that much more room to develop and I figured I’d get tired of them by now. The fact that by the end of season 3 I was more in love with the show than I ever was shows the level of improvement the anime has gone through. It’s as though the creators got more confident with their directing and musical choices, hitting beats at exactly the right times, pacing the matches between downtime flashbacks and epic moments perfectly. It’s legitimately one of the best directed and produced anime I’ve seen and the most invested I’ve been in a sports anime.

Most Disappointing: Active Raid

active-raid-kidou-kyoushuushitsu-dai-hachi-gakari-2nd-01-large-04This was supposed to be amazing. Goro Taniguchi, the director of Code Geass and Infinite Ryvius, returning to make an anime original mecha police procedural. He’s directed so few anime since Code Geass R2, but I really liked his return with Maria the Virgin Witch. This was supposed to be him back making awesome mecha anime. I really tried to like it too. But each episode was so drab and I didn’t care about a single character. The comedic tone meant it felt weightless and none of the jokes were funny. Even when it tried to be serious and emotional it felt forced and mawkish. I gave up towards the end of the first season and forgot about it for months, but looking back now I feel so let down. I’ll take heart in the belief that every second Goro Taniguchi anime is bad so maybe the next one will be amazing.

#4: Gundam Thunderbolt

gundam-thunderbolt-03-large-24Thunderbolt feels like it came from a bygone era. We live in a sort of post-irony era where things are ridiculous and knowing yet earnest. Meanwhile Thunderbolt feels like it came from the early 90s, deadly serious depressing story about the destructive capability of war on the mind and the soul. It’s a harrowing story that’s difficult to watch but fantastic at conveying its message. War will destroy your mind unless you drop your humanity and give yourself over to the machine. It’s amazingly animated, got a unique and memorable soundtrack, and manages to convey the themes of Gundam better than anything…apart from War in the Pocket I suppose. But it’s still fantastic and at barely more than an hour in length, well worth tracking down and watching.

#3: Mob Psycho 100

mob-psycho-100-06-large-11I stalled on watching Mob Psycho after 2 episodes originally because it felt like a more ambitiously animated but slightly less funny One Punch Man, an anime I wasn’t a huge fan of anyway. But then I returned and it suddenly turned into 2016’s answer to Akira. A story about psychics having trouble with their ego and identity and their place in the world, followed by the chaos that is wrought when they can no longer keep their id under control. It’s a fantastic character study that’s incredibly ambitious in its production and goals and goes for some truly original presentation but succeeds in basically everything once it gets going. It turns a little shounen yelling explosions at the end, but Akira also got a bit messy at the end and I don’t hold that against either anime.

Worst Anime: Big Order

big-order-02-large-13I actually liked Future Diary, that pile of wonderful nonsense. It had a clear goal with rounded characters who acted in accordance to their world views and goals. It wasn’t Shakespeare, I admit but, but boy did Big Order make it look like it was. It was truly hideous from start to finish, forgetting about plot twists barely an episode after it made them. Character goals changed by the week, and if they had clear goals they were stupid. There may have been some worse anime from technical perspectives that achieved less. But Big Order tried so much and failed so many of those things in such spectacular fashion that it deserves this award. It is the most worse. It is The Cart Driver Dot Com’s Worst Anime of 2016.

#2: Yuri on Ice

yuri-on-ice-12-20It was really close between Mob Psycho 100 and this for the runner up spot and if you ask me tomorrow I might change my mind again. Right now though I’m still in that happy honeymoon period after finishing Yuri on Ice where I and in complete joy in how this anime turned out. It’s manages to be wonderful nonsense with silly characters acting dumb yet also be a truly powerful tale of following dreams and achieving your goals. It’s got the most lovable cast of characters which the show itself clearly loves too and you can tell they had so much fun creating this thing and writing these characters in their sparkly outfits. Even the romance, which early on irritated me because it felt like queer-baiting without commitment, turned into how I want my romance anime to always be written.

#1: Shouwa Era Rakugo Shinjuu

shouwa-genroku-12-14Nothing came close to Rakugo this year for me. The way it is able to use storytelling through a performance art is incredible. The little touches to the animation in how to demonstrate unspoken feelings while the character is giving a rakugo performance is such a fantastic use of subtle storytelling. The little wobbles in the voices when acting to show confidence, fear, uncertainty, sadness and so on. Its writing is second to none in how it conveys the emotions through the least amount of lines. It manages to be sincere and serious while still being dryly witty. It’s a historical anime that isn’t hideously boring, which in itself is something anime has been struggling with forever. It’s the kind of anime I feel lucky to have seen made and is one of the best anime of all time and easily the best anime of 2016.

Reader’s choice awards

Best anime series that ended in 2016 (choose 3)

  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (37%, 142 Votes)
  • Mob Psycho 100 (30%, 115 Votes)
  • Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable (21%, 80 Votes)
  • Yuri on Ice (21%, 80 Votes)
  • Haikyuu (13%, 48 Votes)
  • My Hero Academia (11%, 43 Votes)
  • Re:Zero (11%, 40 Votes)
  • KonoSuba (10%, 37 Votes)
  • Sound Euphonium 2 (9%, 34 Votes)
  • Erased (8%, 30 Votes)
  • Space Patrol Luluco (7%, 26 Votes)
  • Flip Flappers (6%, 24 Votes)
  • Concrete Revolutio (6%, 23 Votes)
  • 91 Days (6%, 23 Votes)
  • Durarara S2 (6%, 23 Votes)
  • Macross Delta (4%, 16 Votes)
  • Osomatsu-san (4%, 16 Votes)
  • The Great Passage (4%, 15 Votes)
  • Gundam Thunderbolt (4%, 15 Votes)
  • Flying Witch (4%, 15 Votes)
  • Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (4%, 14 Votes)
  • Keijo (3%, 13 Votes)
  • Other not mentioned here (3%, 12 Votes)
  • Code Geass: Akito the Exiled (3%, 10 Votes)
  • Sakamoto desu ga (3%, 10 Votes)
  • Amanchu (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Kuromukuro (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Tanaka-kun is Always Sleepy (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Ajin (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Lupin III Part 4 (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Bungole Stray Dogs (2%, 7 Votes)
  • New Game (2%, 7 Votes)
  • Joker Game (2%, 7 Votes)
  • Gate (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Ushio and Tora 2 (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Galko-chan (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Koyomimonogatari (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Planetarian (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Girlish Number (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Sekkou Boys (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Mayoiga (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Kyoukai no Rinne (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Danganronpa 3 (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Assassination Classroom 2 (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Snow White with the Red Hair 2 (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Kiznaiver (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Heavy Object (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Sweetness and Lightning (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Udon Boy (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Orange (1%, 3 Votes)
  • ReLife (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Love Live! Sunshine!! (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Magical Girl Raising Project (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Dagashi Kashi (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Bubuki Buranki (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Fairy Tail (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Kuma Miko (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Izetta the Last Witch (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Kiss Him Not Me (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Occultic;Nine (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Dimension W (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Handa-kun (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Rewrite (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (0%, 1 Votes)
  • D.Gray-man Hallow (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Active Raid (0%, 0 Votes)
  • World Trigger (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 380

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Our tastes mostly lined up this time. I’m pleasantly surprised that we’re in agreement on Rakugo as that was not that well watched despite being a huge critics darling. I’m sorry about the collapse of my love for Jojo’s though. Maybe when they reach Steel Ball Run I’ll be back on board.

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  1. Posted January 1, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh, please, you didn’t even finish Big Order!

  2. Multi-author blog
    Posted January 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Inushinde top 10 list WHEN

    • Adamar
      Posted January 2, 2017 at 2:50 am | Permalink

      1. Overwatch
      2. Girls und Panzer der FILM

  3. Gan_HOPE326
    Posted January 1, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I think this may be the first time I see Akira mentioned in reference to Mob Psycho 100, which is weird to me, because the inspiration seems so blatant. Not only with psychic powers and the way they’re represented but also with how they work as a way to transform internal and interpersonal teen conflict into a powerful, city-wrecking battle of mindpower.

  4. Varyn
    Posted January 2, 2017 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Does that girl have Archer’s gate of Babylon, full of butts?

    • ANON
      Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Yep, and the main girl had an attack that’s kind of vaguely connected to Gurren Lagann.

  5. AH
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    “This was supposed to be amazing…awesome mecha anime”

    Except that was never promised nor suggested. Active Raid was quite openly unambitious to the core. It also mostly lacked robots and was written by individuals who are best known for working on Super Sentai (aka Power Rangers), which is not a genre that viewers watch in order to find high budget action, grand narratives or deep characterization as opposed to color-coded costumes, low-budget episodic antics and a very Japanese sense of humor. In that sense, this just contributes to confirming you, like several others, had a misplaced set of expectations.

    Then again, at least you’re not like those who literally expected this to be “the next Code Geass” for absolutely no good reason. Who had ever said anything about that? Nobody.

    I’ve said much of this before, but it needs to be emphasized: Taniguchi himself never misrepresented the show’s contents. He knew it was a very lighthearted series with little or no concern for any meaningful character drama and reiterated the point in Japanese interviews. He even warned fans of his older works that this project might be a total turn off for them, so if nothing else your reaction was well within his predicted range.

    Humor is subjective, but I often liked the general silliness and one-liners involved. In fact, I honestly smiled a fair amount of times. All I ever wanted from Active Raid was to have a fun, goofy time. Come on, you don’t think having power armor dance is at least slightly funny? Or how about that intentionally cheap commercial portrayed in your screenshot above? There were better and worse jokes, to be sure, but I never felt that sort of ennui you’re giving off.

    I’ll admit the end of the first season did feel a bit weak, because the main villain just wasn’t that interesting, but for me the second season made up for that in various ways. Unfortunately, I imagine you’d still never get anything out of it with that kind of attitude. Regardless, I will add that the old-school giant robot episode (the fifth one) was legitimately pretty good and at least that got some praise even from critics who didn’t care for the rest of the series.

    And thus I dare to ask: is it really that “disappointing” when there were still some people like me who could sit back, relax and get plenty of simple enjoyment out of Active Raid? There were relatively few of us in the western world, yet 2ch actually gave it a decent ranking in its own 2016 anime list.

    I’d make one last joke about Crunchyroll Mozambique here, but I admit those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  6. Yalu
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    I actually avoided Rakugo when it came out. Thanks for enlightening me with your MAL article! It also ended up as one of my favorites of 2016.

  7. Chipp
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    How about the Best not Anime Anime of the Year called Thunderbolt Fantasy?

  8. Canary Paint
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Active Raid was a bit of a letdown for me as well. I guess I had big Geassistic expectations. After the first few episodes, I read in a couple of places an explanation like AH’s long response above. So… Fair enough…

    Despite all of that, it did almost catch me. I more or less enjoyed it, but something was lacking to make it memorable for me. I thought the second season of Active Raid started out really strangely, so I did not go beyond the 1st episode of it. Maybe, I will take another look at the second part, BUT…

    Rakugo is defo a higher priority as it is the one anime this year that I am ashamed that I did not watch!

  9. ANON
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I tried watching season 2 of active raid but I lost interest, looking back it was almost a miracle that I even finished the first season.

    As for big order, I said it somewhere else that it was doubly painful for me, since it also made me watch future diary and that was another level of torture that I shouldn’t have gone through if not for everyone else who kept saying that it was the better version of big order.

    Some of my personal favorites for this year include Saiki-kun, erased, relife and of course, Keijo!!!!!!!!

  10. Shikamaru
    Posted January 3, 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I guess i can give Rakugo another chance after all the praise it has gotten. I just don’t find rakugo performances funny or entertaining at all so that kinda killed all of my interest. If the story is really that good then I can yawn through those performances and just care about the story.

    No love for Durarara!! from you Scamp?

    Also is this the first year when Monogatari season hasn’t been on the top 10 list? Okay it was ONA instead of tv series and it was probably the worst Monogatari “season”, but it’s still Monogatari so it was really good.

    I would also recommend watching Mahoutsukai no Yome if you already didn’t watch it. It’s only 1 episode long (for now) and it was probably my favourite OVA of the year.

    Thank you for all the posts you made last year. Even though it looked like this blog was going to die. Hopefully this year has more anime moments that you wan’t to write about. Good and bad because we need both momemnts.

    • ANON
      Posted January 4, 2017 at 1:32 am | Permalink

      Mahoutsukai no Yome.. Completely overlooked that, I’m getting it now. Thanks!

  11. KRIM
    Posted January 4, 2017 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Your top 3 were also my top 3! In a slightly different order. And the reader’s top 5 were my top 5! Haha. I agree that this was a great year for anime. Oh well, here comes winter 2017, lol.

  12. JC_staff (not that)
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    I think this year was saved bay the last (fall) season, it was the only when I finished more than 2 shows, even 3 (or 4 depending on how you count) of your favourites are fron that season.

  13. Posted February 27, 2017 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi, this is an awesome list though I, myself will definitely put Natsume Yuujinchou Go on number 1. Yuri on Ice and Rakugo though would be on my Top 10 together with Bungou Stray Dogs, ERASED and Akagami no Shirayuki-hime.

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