Considering how 2016 has been in other areas, in regards to anime it wasn’t that bad. But let us not dwell anymore than we have to on the past year and get the show on the road.
This is one of those shows which baffles me on just how it was even made. There can be good reason as to why some truly terrible anime were made. Production troubles, over ambition, lacking studio experience, poor source material…but this is an example where the only explanation I can think of as to why it turned out so terrible is the sheer incompetence of the writer and director. I am long tired of speaking about this show so I will just round this up. Horrible direction that speeds up exposition to make it look like an episode of Bakemonogatari and even be visually nasuationing. A story which makes no sense and has a huge middle portion which is entirely pointless. No likeable characters and a girl with a chest so big that it rivals that of Mina from Air Master but the difference being that Mina’s huge knockers are meant as a joke when Ryouko’s are supposed to be attractive. This show is horrible, horrible trash and hope these two never work in this industry ever again.
Runner up: Musaigen no Phantom World(For killing the last bit of respect I had for KyoAni)
Mario: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
And with this Kabaneri takes the crown jewels. Well, first off, I don’t really mind popcorn action flicks, to put it another way I can endure it but what turn me off the most is when those shows take themselves too seriously. This one had this problem and then some. The action is over the top, which is fine, but then moments like pregnant-woman-turn-zombie got stabbed deliberately by “our people” just to prove the point (that doesn’t matter who you were before, when you got bitten by the zombie your humanity is over), it became rather tasteless. The plot itself is full of holes and overpowered characters that the more you think about it, the more it falls apart. In the second half the show did fall apart and it became exactly a train-wreck. For runner-up, let give a big round of applause to Occultic;Nine for its utmost intention to keep confusing us and make us feel uncomfortable till the very end. I’m not as pissed off about it as Aidan of course, but really this show was a mess which made very little sense.
Runner up: Occultic;Nine
It is a point to be made that just because a show is disappointing, does not mean that it’s bad. Erased is by no means a bad show but it did manage to build peoples hopes to the degree that before the shows end people were declaring it a masterpiece. I offer this to Erased as I expected Berserk to disappoint but Erased I was well on my way to declaring one of my all time favorites. It really is evidence as to how much an ending can effect a show as while watching it the show manages to capture you but when all’s said and done and you look back, you realise the journey wasn’t as special as it was promising. Erased’s biggest crime is delivering a well done character drama when it was gearing the audience up for a mystery thriller. Thus I can fault the show for that, even if the end product was still good in it’s own right.
Runner Up: Berserk(2016)
Mario: Berserk (2016)
Arguably one of the most anticipated title last year, coming off from a 10 years plus high-regarded anime and even more prestigious (but endlessness) manga from Kentaro Miura. The long wait from us fans was not satisfied though, as the way the show handled the source material was just wrong. First the use of CGI animation failed miserably here, as the effect the CGI has was jarring and clunky and immediately took your attention away from the story. Then the pacing was off and the story was very newcomer-unfriendly. This series achieved something that I thought was impossible for Berserk: that maybe the manga isn’t that special all of us fans hyped up to be: maybe it’s just a story about the killing, revenge and all ugly natures of human and nothing else. Second place goes to Joker Game that it started out incredibly solid for the first two episodes, then the episodic nature really killed the show as it became predictable (guess who will win in the end?), the stories that crammed up into single episode resulted in pretty much half-baked outcomes.
Runner up: Joker Game
HelghastKillzone: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
As the writer who covered this show over the spring 2016 season, I remember buying into the hype and singing its praises for the first half of the show before it fell off a cliff in its second half. With the same staff behind Attack on Titan, it had the animation, action, setting and music to potentially become the anime of the year but veered off into a shitty direction with the introduction of the main antagonist. To this day, I would recommend the first seven episodes as the shining example of what anime has to offer in the action department but its latter half is something to be avoided at all costs. My only solace is that the series is reseted by the end of the finale and that the recently announced second season will have a clean start.
Runner up: Dimension W
Worst First Episode
Aidan: Berserk (2016)
In this episode you could hear the crying of Berserk fans worldwide at the PS2 level CGI and confusing direction of this episode. While the rest of the series improved somewhat, this episode served to temper the expectations of fans to an absolute low. Part of the reason was this episode needed to skip a large amount of source material while bridging the gap between the Golden age arc and the new arc. The end result was less than graceful. From the janky animation and fast pace this episode let Berserk fans know that the anime they have been waiting for is not this. SO for crushing the hopes and dreams of a fanbase, cheers to you Berserk(2016)
Runner Up: Divine Gate and Big Order
Mario: Masou Gakuen HxH
I have to hand this prize to Masou Gakuen HxH because the very existence of this show is to please the eyes of the audience, which means the joke is on us. The sad fact of it all was that the show was selling well in its season, which in turns explain why many shows like this keep surfacing. The story is just a bunch of set-ups for our MC to fondle the girls, and there’s a football team who waiting in line for the guy. Shows like this are the reason why most of us burning out of anime. Second worst episode goes to First Love Monster for its creepy visual of teenager-faced boys in short pants and act like primary school (because they are primary school students). I know the show aware of its own ridiculous but it doesn’t help if the show does nothing but relies heavily on it.
Runner up: First Love Monster
Aidan: Biba Amatori – Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
I will be blunt in that I didn’t like Kabaneri right from the start. I felt that it really was only a matter of time before the show slipped up and became something terrible. However up until halfway I could have deemed it mindless popcorn entertainment and it was held in high regard by viewers. However now I am certain most would agree that the show fell apart and I am willing to bet that if you asked them what point the show went off the rails they would answer that it was the introduction of Biba Amatori. It’s one thing to be a bad character and quite another to be a character so bad that they drag public opinion and the shows overall quality into the ground. Biba was the antagonist Kabaneri never asked for and never needed. From his Sephiroth wannabe design to his motivation that essentially boils down to daddy issues, this man with a personality of a plank managed to make the show all about him and in turn kill any entertainment value it once had.
Runner Up: Ryouka Narusawa – Occultic;Nine
Mario: Mitsumune – Mayoiga
Maybe Mitsumune is the lead character that we deserved to have in Mayoiga. For a show that was uncertain about a lot of things, be it their plot, their themes or the characters in dire situation themselves, Mitsumune still stands out as our useless lead, driven by his hormone and keep spouting nonsense all the time. That is fine though since the majority cast of Mayoiga spouting nonsense anyway, but the way he walks side to side with his mascot… well I mean his dark side was so anticlimactic and absurd that it was on a whole other level. For second worst characters I’m going to hand the prize to the whole D-Agency members, for being deliberately plain and without any personal traits that it’s hard to tell one from another, and for having superhero traits that they handle the situations like finger snapping.
Runner up: D-Agency spy members
Best First Episode
Aidan: 91 Days
From episode one 91 Days had me ready to embrace it wholeheartedly. Looking back on the series I was a little let down by it but I remember how excited this first episode got me. It was like Baccano came back to rock us all over again. This episode did echo baccano quite a bit but had a serious tone which made it all the more dazzling. It was something different, something new yet old in another sense. It’s a pity it never quite reached the potential shown in this episode but i got to say that was a great way to kick off the series.
Runner Up: Kiznaiver
As much as Flip Flappers moved me the most throughout its first episode, Erased for me achieved something incredible on its first episode: it’s widely accessible. Seriously, this first episode did so many things right and hold so much ground that I imagined majority of anime fans who watched it are guaranteed to enjoy it. It had the mystery plot that will make mainstream fans excited, it had a personal unsuccessfully manga career storyline that will move someone who looking for personal story like myself. It had that supernatural “rewind” twist that will make most otaku fan crazy. And it ended in one hell of a cliffhanger. It’s a shame that the last third of the show was a letdown. But this was the only first episode that I was dread for the remaining days of that week waiting for its second episode.
Runner up: Flip Flappers
Best Single Episode
Aidan: Re:Zero (Episode 15)
You know what I am really tired of? People comparing Re:Zero to Sword Art Online. It never made sense to me and just seems like a kneejerk response no matter how I looked at it. I certainly don’t think this show doesn’t have flaws but these people are just using hyperbole to extremes. Putting aside that the shows quite literally have nothing in common and the story which people often cite as the source of their displeasure, it’s clear a lot of love went into this show. It had fantastic direction, a great soundtrack, pretty good animation with some of the people who worked on One Punch Man and some truly standout performances from the voice actors. Compare that to SAO which boasts Yuki Kajura’s laziest soundtrack, passable animation and on top of being a bad anime is even a bad adaption. No really, believe it or not the first volume of SAO was actually decent. Rest of the volumes after than were terrible but that first volume actually had me excited for the anime when it was announced. For in the entire show here is where the difference in presentation lies between this and SAO. There are few anime episodes which execute a tragedy quite as perfectly as this and it has an ending which could be considered outright cinematic. To anyone who claims that Re:Zero has no value whatsoever, I point to this episode and say “You are wrong.”
Mario: Flip Flappers (episode 6)
Let me put it this way, if I ever going to make my own anime or movie, I’d like my movie end up just like this. It tackled many themes that I personally interested in: the blurred line between dream and reality, the dualism of our characters and the identity theme. Moreover, this episode was emotionally charged that the more I watched, the more I fall my head over heel. This episode was Flip Flappers at their strongest and most creative (not a slight judgement since Flip Flappers is full of inventive ideas) and that 20-minutes was one of the highlights of any medium out of last year. Come really close behind it was Re:Zero episode 15 that elevated the show from being “good” into “great” territory. This was not the first time we see the dead of Subaru and the pain he had to endure before his “comeback”, but this episode was the first time we see the real weight of what he had suffered, as well as the hopelessness of the situation that break his soul apart. The rest of the series the show never peaked that moments again, but I’m glad that we always have this episode.
Runner up: Re:Zero (episode 15)
Most Pleasant Surprise
Aidan: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!
In preparation for the season preview I read the manga adaption of KonoSuba and i really was not impressed with it. Perhaps I should have gone for the light novel first but if it’s a choice between manga and light novel I feel manga is easier to get an idea of what a show is like. I wasn’t expecting much from it and yet KonoSuba managed to be one of the few anime to make me laugh out loud. Perhaps Deen works some magic on it(Though they seemed as surprised as anyone that this took off) or maybe the kudos belong to the director but whatever was done made this a joy to watch. I sincerely hope they can keep whatever it is they are doing going in the sequel.
Runner up: Girlish Number
Mario: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Certainly upon the first few episodes no one would had guessed this show is a deeply personal story about grief and adjusting your life to a new environment from the very bottom. For an “isekai” show Grimgar is distinctively more of slice-of-life approach than actual fantasy show, and the fight is often messy; but that was exactly the point. Grimgar is by no mean a great show but I didn’t expect it to be that personal; and personal storytelling is always fine by my book. In second place, Alderamin on the Sky takes the cake as I have no expectation of it whatsoever before it aired, and yet afterwards its worldbuilding, its strong leads and its warfare tactics that constantly keep me engaging throughout its run. You can argue that Madhouse has passed its glory stage but they are still pretty much reliable when it comes to keeping the spirits of the source material up. Special shout out for Ikta and Yatori for being the best pair that actually doesn’t involve any romantic feeling whatsoever.
Runner up: Alderamin on the Sky
Best Original Anime
Aidan: Flip Flappers
When I saw the trailer for Flip Flappers I had a feeling there was more to it that meets the eye. I was certainly glad to be right on that as it proved itself one of the most solid offerings of 2016. Beautifully bright colourful animation with story reminiscent of FLCL and very tiny bit of evangelion. Flip Flappers is a story that looks simple on the surface but has the depth to allow viewers to dive deeper and find more meaning. It made for one of the most enjoyable and interesting shows for the year for me.
Runner up: Girlish Number
Mario: Thunderbolt Fantasy
For the record, this was an extremely great year for original anime as even lesser original shows still manage to impress: Girlish Number, Kiznaiver, Bubuki Buranki, 91 Days, etc. but in the end this is an obvious pick; Thunderbolt Fantasy; for the reasons that you would never find another original-wuxia anime for another lifetime (well, unless Chinese animation take over anime), let alone puppetry one; and the story is actually solid and entertaining on top of all that. It would be hard pressed but this is one of the most refreshing experience I’ve ever had watching anime. Flip Flappers comes close as second as the show break many rules of how normal anime should be and kept us guessing what the show really was about for like half of its airtime.
Runner up: Flip Flappers
Aidan: Studio DEEN(Haven’t you heard? I’m Sakamoto, KonoSuba, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju)
People sure love to hate on Deen. I have always had a soft spot for them as while they may not always succeed, they try damnit. They have made some remarkable anime in the past but sadly due to their lacking animation and infamous Fate/Stay Adaption they have gained the reputation of being a lower tier studio. So it was quite satisfying to see them manage to create two of the best anime comedies in a long time and a fantastic anime drama this year. Succeeding to a degree that people said in disbelief that Deen of all people, was saving anime.
Runner up: Studio Bones(My Hero Academia, Bungou Stray Dogs, Mob Psycho 100)
Mario: Bones (My Hero Academia, Bungou Stray Dogs, Mob Psycho 100)
Bones was the big winner in 2016, as 3 of their original shows were three of the best production values in its respective seasons (Did I mention you that the best thing in Bungou Stray Dogs was its visual?). All these shows were brimming with creative visuals and in some case the best animation you would ever get this year. Their sequel series, ranged from Snow White with Red Hair 2 to Concrete Revolutio 2, had a very solid execution and production values as well. Second place is Studio Deen as the show released as much hit shows as its bad shows, but the great shows were so great that I can forgive them for First Love Monster or Reikenzan
Runner up: Studio DEEN (Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuo, KonoSuba, I’m Sakamoto)
Most Promising Studio
Aidan: 3Hz (Dimension W, Flip Flappers)
3Hz has certainly caught my attention this year. Dimension W at least showed they have the chops but needed better source material. Then when given free reign with an original work by the name of Flip Flappers they really showed what they could do. Anime adaptions may be the safest route to success in this industry but it is important to note that some of the greatest anime is anime original. 3Hz have the talent to create some truly great works and I think that as long as they don’t misstep too hard, they could be a real force to be reckoned with. I for one am looking forward to their next original work.
Runner up: Shuka (Durarara kitsu, 91 Days, Natsume Yuujinchou go)
Mario: Sanzigen (Bubuki/Buranki)
The main reason I give this prize to Sanzigen is how the studio actually make me feel optimistic about the future of adapting full CGI into anime. While this year we encountered many unsuccessfully attempt of using full CGI (Berserk and Ajin are prime examples), the animation in this show was put into good use. Even the character designs are attractive and distinctive (If you looked closely the characters actually glowed during some of the night action set-pieces). The actions themselves are all fast-paced and entertaining. If future CGI anime gonna be like this, I’ll be happy for the state of future anime. With mildly-successful Dimension W and the creative Flip Flappers, the new studio 3Hz deserved to have a special mention here as well.
Runner up: 3Hz (Dimension W, Flip Flappers)
Aidan: “Great Days” – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4 Opening 3
I think I wasn’t the only one to be turned away by Jojo Stardust Crusaders lacking mid point as it is pretty surprising for this opening to not be a contender in the Crunchyroll awards. I don’t blame them as while the last episodes of Stardust redeemed part 3 somewhat, that middle portion was a real drag. I do recommend people power through it as Diamond is unbreakable is a real return to form for Jojo. But moving on, Jojo likely has the strongest lineup of openings for any shounen show out there and part 4 is no exception. Any of the three openings of part 4 could take this place but I think Great Days is just the best pairing of visuals and song. This whole opening just is brimming with style and gets you in the perfect mood to enjoy another outrageously fun episode of Jojo. But what makes this opening special is the alteration they make during the last few episodes which is just pure ingenious.
Runner Up: “Gospel of the Throttle” – Drifters
Mario: “History Maker”- Yuri!! On Ice
Simple yet elegant, at the same time tell you exactly what this show is about, while demonstrating the unique appeals of figure skating and above all just mesmerizing to watch. What more could you ask for? Also, the song fits the animation so well that it felt like the characters dancing around that theme song. In second place, Kiznaiver made a great riff-off of “Take on Me” with a confident take on the psychedelic visual; that OP could work well as a standalone music video for all I care.
Runner up: “Lay Your Hands on Me” – Kiznaiver
Aidan: “I want you” – Jojo’s Bizarre adventure Part 4
This and Flip Flappers ending are more or less on the same level for me and it is true that I choose this more to give it some attention seeing as Mario covered Flip Flappers below. Does that mean this ending is inferior, absolutely not. Jojo’s endings always went against the norm by choosing western classic songs instead of just using JPOP and this song by savage garden captures the feel of Jojo part 4’s more easy going atmosphere. In part 4 there are no end of the world stakes though not losing in the utter ridiculous spectacle of previous parts and the story is more about Joutarou and his friends encountering strange happenings in the town of Morioh. The ending itself isn’t impressive animation wise as it is for the most part still images. But the zoom effect and the optical illusion nature make it a much more interesting ending than most other shows. plus after amping things up to 11 and beyond, this chill ending is perfect for winding down .
Runner Up: “Flip Flap Flip Flap” – Flip Flappers
Mario: “Flip Flap Flip Flap” – Flip Flappers
I must admit unlike the OPs, I don’t really give much thoughts to the EDs because as long as the episodes end I just click “close” and move on. To say that this year had 2 outstanding EDs that kept me intrigued. The top is Flip Flappers. Apart from the very appealing fairytale-inspired flipbook, the music is really addictive. The art style has a charming effect and at times dark designs that fit perfectly with the theme of adventures in the series. Seeing Cocona and Papika having more fun together is also a pleasure to watch. Seriously, we need more of that fairy tale settings like this one. The second place went to the equally impressive brushstroke works from Mob Psycho 100 following Reigen before he met Mob. Both these EDs are totally unique but more impressively, all that elevate the themes of the shows very neatly.
Runner up: “Refrain Boy” – Mob Psycho 100
Aidan: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!
I never expected to enjoy this show as much as I did. As a premise the story is simple but excels at comedic timing and how the characters play off each other. It’s admittedly dumb fun but I often find myself with a dopey grin by episodes end which is helped by a nicely calming ending theme. The voice actors certainly sound like they are enjoying themselves and the second season so far has me still grinning ear to ear. Just hope they gave it more than ten episodes this time. You did right Deen? Right?
Runner Up: Sakamoto desu ka, Keijo!!!!!!
Mario: The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
There were only 3 comedy series that I enjoyed the most last year. Some moments of Konosuba made me laugh so hard that my belly hurts but other moments I rolled my eyes for how terrible and unfunny those situations were. Keijo, while I agree was more akin to sports than comedy, its fan-service tendency and its dead-pan delivery of those butt skills were something to behold. At the top of my list is The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, as its sketch comedy ensures its quick pace delivered the jokes and short enough for these jokes to never stay out its welcome. The cast is all paper-thin stereotypes, which actually fits to the overall parody nature of the series. Like Sakamoto, Saiki is a overpowered lead with no single weakness; unlike Sakamoto, he actually grows bit by bit towards the end.
Runner up: Keijo!!!!!!!!!
Controversial choice likely but I actually had difficulty with this catagory. Drifters didn’t quite match up in terms of quality. Mob Psycho 100 isn’t what I would consider an action anime as it’s not the primary focus of the story. Hero Academia was a bit too standard shounen for my liking and Ushio to Tora was too lacking in terms of animation. Vivid Strike was actually a strong contender because a magical girl kickboxing story worked far better than I expected but unfortunately the animation couldn’t give the story the justice it needed. Looking over the seasons of this year it was actually hard to pin down a action series suitable for this award. Then I thought of Keijo and it fit the catagory well. So the hell with it, this utter ridiculous show about girls fighting each other with boobs and butts gets this award. After all Keijo has all the trademarks of a standard shounen battle anime and it more or less treats itself like one. It is that serious nature that just makes it hilarious when the action starts. It’s the sort of juvenile humor that most would think they were above but you can’t help but crack a smile as a character unleashes attacks like perky pied piper and Gate of Bootylan. Sure it’s hardly dignified but as Doc Brown said in Back to the future: ”Well, I figured, what the hell.”
Runner up: Vivid Strike
Mario: Thunderbolt Fantasy
Give it up to a puppetry series to show you how an action show should be done, or to be more precise, how to reconstruct an action show. There are many twists and turns that it’s hard to even predict what ridiculous things they will throw at us next, the characters are all awesome swordsmen that they even start the fight way before the actual sword fight, and when the action kicks in it was always a joy to watch. Mob Psycho 100 rounded up in second place as it featured one of the most impressive action set-pieces we’ve encountered this year.
Runner up: Mob Psycho 100
Best Genre Defining
Aidan: 91 Days
91 Day’s wasn’t my anime of the year but it certainly did show how much of a box the anime industry has put itself in. I am tired of high school settings, of superpowered harem leads, of tsunderes, Kuuderes, yanderes, danderes, derederes and whatever anime writing 101 formula determines. Hayao Miyazaki once complained about how anime creators today only take inspiration from other anime and you know what, he’s right. Though he meant that they needed more real life experiences, I say there’s whole other genres of film, music and books to take inspiration from. 91 Days breaks convention by taking inspiration out of something most wouldn’t even dare to, a mafia drama. The end result didn’t quite live up to the potential it had but damn if this isn’t something the anime industry needs more of. Anime was birthed by taking American comics and working it into a brand new style. Thus people there is so much more that can be birthed within anime. Anime slasher flicks, anime Breaking Bad, anime 2001 A space odyssey and hitchhikers guide to galaxy. Screw your high schools and hormone driven teenagers, let’s start bringing in something refreshing.
Runner Up: Keijo!!!!!!!
Mario: Flip Flappers
You think this show is a magical girl show? Well, think again because apart from those girl transformations, Flip Flappers didn’t really have any other mahou shoujo elements. Instead, the show experiments with new genres throughout its run, from fairytales-inspired structures, the action Mad Max wasteland, the futurist sci-fi metropolis world, then the psychological horror the next, to the full-blown drama and romance at other times. No other show keeps defining the notion of one firm “genre” like Flip Flappers did. The runner up comes to Mayoiga, for how the show suggesting one thing but ended up being in the other side of the road. Sometimes I’m not even sure if Mayoiga know where it’s heading but we’re certainly never got what we wish for from the show, for better or for worse.
Runner up: Mayoiga
I certainly remember a big fuss being kicked up about this short over the “Is it anime” fiasco that happened on Reddit but it wouldn’t be fair to leave 2016 without mentioning this little gem. It’s a short music video that hits fast and hits hard. Emotional manipulative, yes but in a way I really don’t mind. I say any show that fills you with a sense of hope by it’s end despite depressing subject matter is more than alright with me. With great animation, a catchy tune and a message that hits right to the heart. If you haven’t taken the time to watch Shelter I saw go watch it now. Seriously just put up a google search and you will find it. Only take a couple of minutes of your time to watch. It can really show just what an anime can do in a short space of time.
Runner Up: Space Patrol Luluco
Mario: Tabi Machi Late Show
Now, I want you all to give more shorts series a try, as not only shorts series are the best platform for young animators to experiment with their styles (think Luluco), but it’s also the perfect platform for something like this: a collection of quiet, heart-warming stories that have a very limited animation, even to shorts’ standard. Tabi Machi Late Show comprises of 4 episodes, each episode about 7 minutes long, so the whole thing would take only 30 minutes of your time. If you don’t have any better thing to do in half an hour then try it out. The show is storytelling at its simplest, yet it speaks the most directness and the emotions it evokes were one of the most real emotions I have experienced for quite awhile. Second place is Honobono Log; a show that also treasured everyday moments, the beauty of those quiet moments that we’ve almost been through all but never take a time to really notice.
Runner up: Honobono Log
Aidan: Opting out of this category as I didn’t have time to watch a lot of movies or OVAs.
Mario: Kizumonogatari 1 & 2
With this category, I’ll go for the DVD release and cinema screenings (hence Your Name is qualified) so basically I have a field of Miss Hokusai, Anthem of the Heart, Girl und Panzer the movie, Under the Dog, The Empire of Corpses, Harmony, Doukyuusei and Kizumonogatari. Considered I’m a die hard fan of Monogatari series, this might come as no surprise. But even without the series as my cornerstone, Kizumonogatari is strong enough to stand on its own, with its aesthetic and production values that are even stronger than the show. Your Name rounded up on my number two slot because frankly it’s still head and shoulder above the rest of the field.
Runner up: Your Name (for non-anime film: The Red Turtle)
Technical & Characters
Aidan: Mob Psycho 100
Well the crunchyroll awards botched this category so I think it’s only just to give Mob Psycho the award if fully earned. There really isn’t any compilation in regards to this as the animation of Mob Psycho 100 was something else entirely. Even I, a person not gone on the show can recognise the level of craftsmanship that went into all the movement. To take something as crude and simple as ONEs artstyle and transform it into a animation wonder is certainly a massive achievement. I hear that the animation fo Mob Psycho was made with the intent of topping One Punch Man in terms of animation. They may have succeeded at just that.
Mario: Mob Psycho 100
ONE, despite his great flair for storytelling, always has a rough and simple art designs. Bones transformed those qualities into its assets though as the animation in Mob Psycho 100 is dynamic and easily transforms to energetic style when it needed to be. The show is a showcase for many utterly amazing fight set-pieces as well. Yuri on Ice deserved a honourable mention here as all the skating sequences are gorgeous and entertaining.
Runner up: Yuri!! On Ice
Best Production Value
I can’t really put this down to one. Perhaps because I likely passed on the two of this year with likely the highest production values. That’s being Sound! Euphonium 2 and Tales of Zestira. KyoAni and Ufotable are generally where to go when it comes to quality. However I have no interest in KyoAni’s offering and no matter how pretty Tales of Zestira looks it’s doubtful to excuse the boring story of the game. Bones are another choice but Hero Academia didn’t really wow me on a technical standpoint. Mob Psycho is an obvious choice but it did still use ONE’s rather rough art style. Then there’s Kabinari of the Iron Fortress which emulated the designs of old style anime though did take it’s fair share of shortcuts. I will forfeit a right to an opinion on this.
Mario: Sound! Euphonium 2
The ridiculous attention to get every single detail as real as possible is something you don’t see very often in this platform. How they make all the musical piece correctly timed with accurate notes and correct hand and body’s positions were pure insane. Sound! Euphonium 2 is always gorgeous to look at, and there was no single dip in quality throughout its entirely run. In second place, of course Your Name took the spot. I know it’s not fair that usually a movie-quality is much better than a series, but Your Name’s whole production was so fantastic that it’s hard not to include it here
Runner up: Your Name
Best Background Art
Aidan: Your Name
I haven’t actually seen Your Name outside of screenshots and a small amount of trailers but it’s a film by Makoto Shinkai. if it’s one thing that Makoto does better than anything else it’s scenery porn so despite not seeing the product I am confident in handing this award to Your Name.
Mario: Your Name
Yes, Your Name took the top spot here as this is easily the show’s greatest strength. They nailed the atmosphere and the feel of those settings, from a quiet, vivid village life to a busy, exciting Tokyo’s area; even other landscapes (like the ruined village and the cave) have so much personality in them. Grimgar takes a second place. The settings in Grimgar is full of life and overly detailed and its watercolor background is something that I would love to see more.
Runner up: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Aidan: Rem – Re:Zero
Don’t give me that look. This girl is winning popularity polls all over the world and for very good reason. I am not enough of a contrarian to deny the simple truth. What makes her special is that in terms of design she isn’t all that noteworthy and is near identical to her twin sister. So this girl won over the hearts of the world not by taping a pair of basketballs to her chest or getting naked but through personality. Rem is caring, cute and likely the dream girl of any guy around. Also helps that she can kick serious ass with a morning star. You could argue that she is waifu bait but quite frankly if all waifu bait was as good as this I say bring it. I like this character far more than I actually should.
Runner up: Also Rem
Mario: Rei Kiriyama (3-gatsu no Lion)
Here goes to some of the most well-written high school protagonists in recent years, both Rei Kiriyama and Kumiko Oumae have given a lot of development to deal with, and the results made them feel almost like real characters. The top spot goes to Rei. The way 3-gatsu no Lion keeps dig deeper into his inner thoughts, consistently challenge his perspective with everyone around him. At one time we saw him bed-sicken for few days, didn’t want to trouble anyone, but he doesn’t realize that there are still people around who care about his wellbeing. Other time, he claimed that he chose shogi as a mean to survive, but it hurts like hell when he loses. His thoughts might be depressing and dark at times that’s a beauty of writing complex characters. Second place is a fierce fight between Lovepon… (I kid, I kid) and Kumiko. Kumiko likewise had grown tremendously in the latter half of the season, from a timid girl who doesn’t want to get into other’s affairs to a girl who emotionally honest, and best of all that progression feels very naturalistic as it draws gradually from the understanding of the characters themselves.
Runner up: Kumiko Oumae (Sound! Euphonium 2)
Aidan: Jojo Bizarre Adventure Part 4 Diamonds are unbreakable
Jojo part 4 took a much more easygoing approach to it’s story so it’s a great thing that the cast is the strongest lineup of characters in a Jojo yet. Josuke doesn’t beat out the best jojo(Joseph) but he’s still a pretty fun character with a very interesting stand power. The villain of the series Kira may be the best villain to grace the series to date so the fact that he lost the best villain award in the crunchyroll awards to Erased villain…well that fills me with utter rage. But enough on that. The side characters are all equally interesting with their own stands and quirks. By the end of the series the town of moriah is filled with such likeable and strange characters that it could rival Durarara’s Ikebukuro. When looking at the story of Jojo part 4 it doesn’t seem like much but it was the characters that truly made it my second favorite Jojo part to date.
Runner up: Bubuki Buranki
Mario: flying witch
flying witch features some of the most harmonic and natural chemistry between the cast that I’ve ever seen in anime. They bounce off each other well and if you pair some two characters together they have some sort of unique interactions with each other. Take Chinatsu and Inuka for example and we have the back and forth conversations that are very rapidfire and deadpan. Take Nao and Chito-san and we can see how the cat toys with Nao but also care about her everytime she’s around. Those characters sure don’t grow a lot after 12 episodes, but they maintain an easy-going chemistry that so effortlessly but actually very hard to achieve. In the second place, the cast of 3-gatsu no Lion deserved an honorable mention as well. As 3-gatsu no Lion is a character-driven show, this result might come as no surprise; but there’s no denying that the cast in this show were given more depth with such honesty that it never feels forced or calculated and their chemistry is strong enough to actually carry the theme forward.
Runner up: 3-gatsu no Lion
Best Voice Acting
Aidan: Akira Ishida – Yakumo “Kikuhiko” Yuurakutai – Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
I still hold the opinion that as a viewer who does not know Japanese, I truly cannot judge the level of talent of a seiju. Still by looking at the demands a show like Rakugo puts on a voice actor I have to be amazed at the job Akira Ishida did with Yakumo. This voice actor played the character through every stage of that character’s life. From boyhood to elderly. Along with that he had to slowly progress Yakumo’s talent at Rakugo, from performing terribly to capturing the audience. If this show was ever by pure miracle picked up to be dubbed, I am not sure there’s a big enough paycheck for a English voice actor to take on such a ridiculously demanding role. Rakugo was a show that lived and died on the talent of it’s voice actors and out of them all Akira knocked it right out of the park. I don’t know Japanese but well done Akira. Well done.
Runner up: Rie Takahashi – Megumin (KonoSuba) and Emilia (Re:Zero)
Mario: Akira Ishida – Yakumo (Kikuhiko) (Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu)
I must admit that I made this category just to recognise Yakumo’s voice acting and in large, the entire cast of Rakugo show because that part is essentially one of the most important part in the show. In Rakugo, they have to perform the plays entirely by their voice-acting, sometimes Studio Deen goes so bold that they featured the cast performing the plays only, without any accompany visual but that decision paid off nicely. For second place, I’m tempting to put Kumiko’s Tomoyo Kurosawa up there for her plain but really on-point voice acting (even when Kumiko getting sick we can really hear her voice got swollen as well), but in the end I’ll give the runner up prize to the duo Aqua/ Megumin from KonoSuba because frankly they’re the heart and the soul (and the voice) of KonoSuba. You can hear them screaming from far back but you can also feel that they really enjoyed playing those characters. And sometimes that’s all you need to make it fun and memorable.
Runner up: Sora Amamiya/ Rie Takahashi – Aqua/Megumin (KonoSuba)
Top 10 anime of the year
Besides the number one pick there is no real preference in the order of these anime and all can be easily moved around. Except number one.
10: 91 Days/ Mob Psycho 100
A tie for the bottom spot but I had difficulty choosing between these two. They are both shows with merit but Mob didn’t appeal that much to me personally and 91 Days disappointed me with it’s conclusion. However out of everything in 2016 these two shows are undeniably worth watching and remain among the most interesting titles of the year. Mob Psycho with it’s fantastic animation with a story exploring the use of absolute power within ordinary life. 91 Days for proving that anime can move away from high schools and still kick serious ass with style.
9: Ushio to Tora 2
I wonder how many people forgot about this series. I admit even I didn’t get around to watching it until another anime season had passed but it is rather sad to see this show get forgotten when shounen series are brought up this year. Ushio to Tora didn’t do anything new but what it did it did well and it managed to do the one thing that Shounen series almost never do. It had an conclusive ending. A pretty good ending at that and I admit that it’s so damn refreshing to have a shounen series where the hero finally defeats the big bad and saves the day instead of the usual “We shall do it someday in the future!” It’s by no means a masterpiece but upon finishing this series I felt satisfied. Animation could have been better and it didn’t deliver on the level of badass action promised by the openings but this series had some really great moments. It also boasts a great antagonist who is just as worthy of winning villain of the year.
8: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!
I have already said more than enough about this series in the above sections so I will keep this short. It’s fun, it’s funny and a enjoyable time through and through.
7: Erased(Boku Dake ga Inai Machi)
As I stated before, Erased is a disappointing show but not a bad one. If there’s something I dislike about it then it’s that Yuki Kajura made a pretty low effort soundtrack for it that didn’t really fit the series at all. Other than that we have a series that keeps you on the edge of your seat for the majority of it’s run and ends fairly conclusively. Looking over it the journey can seem not as exciting as it was promising to be and the mystery that was obvious from the start. However it has some strong character drama and moments that can hit really hard. The scene with Kayo getting her first home cooked meal was one of the most emotional moments of 2016. There is a lot to like here and it’s certainly a show well worth checking out.
6: Danganronpa 3 The end of kibougamine Gakuen – Despair arc
I wonder how many people checked this out? This is an anime for the fans and fans alone as it does spoil the game’s plot. Though for the fans this acts as a pretty great conclusion to the stories of the previous games. This would be one of the few times I would highly advise not watching this dubbed as they decided to take huge liberties with the show much like the parody dub of Ghost Stories. It’s sad as the story of these anime, in particular Despair arc, is very good. Great even. There’s a lot of danganronpa fanservice and it’s a joy to see characters fully animated and some of the bigger mysteries of the games solved. The new characters also worked well though the animes didn’t really make much use out of Danganronpa’s highest strength, murder mystery. There are things that keep you guessing and some surprising revealations but the plot is for the most part straightforward. If you are a fan of the games I do highly recommend checking these out. However as previously stated, subbed. Not Dubbed.
5: Girlish Number
A while back we had an anime called Shirobako which did a great job on giving a inside look into how much work goes into the anime we consume on a regular basis. However while it was great at that, it’s presentation of the anime industry was rather idealistic as sure when you are a producer on a great anime with hard working individuals the anime industry is sunshine and rainbows. But what if you aren’t on the next big show? What if you happen to be working on a bargin bin light novel adaption with a trainwreck of a production schedule and a producer more interested in selling the voice actors as idols and embezzling the profits for himself? Girlish Number to me is the anti-Shirobako that was sorely needed. The cynical counterpart to point out some of the less pretty aspects of the anime industry. For you know, sometimes marketability is more important than talent, sometimes a production can be a soulless cash grab and sometimes workers just don’t give a fuck. Admittedly it’s not quite as critical of the industry as i would want it to be and focuses more on Watari’s strong suit, character drama, than pointing out the industry’s flaws. After Qualidea code this was a return to form for him and remains a solid entertaining show with interesting characters throughout.
4: Jojo Bizarre Adventure Part 4 Diamonds are unbreakable
Stardust crusaders waned my love for the Jojo Franchise for quite a while. I wasn’t sold on stands and I found the new characters to be rather lacking. I only found that it really started to redeem itself near it’s end. Stardust Crusaders took away my love for the series for a while and Diamonds are unbreakable brought it right on back. Now I want a part 5 adaption because this isn’t even the best that Jojo has to offer from what I hear. Part 4 has a better cast, better stand battles and quite frankly the strongest main villain the series has to date. Don’t get me wrong I love Dio, but Kira just has more layers as a villain which make him more interesting. The fight scenarios have gotten more clever and ridiculous. The animation is significantly better than the previous parts. I say if you used to love Jojo but moved away from it like I did, I highly recommend giving it a second chance. Or at least jump ahead in Stardust to make it quickly to part 4. I think much like me you will find it’s charm come back full force.
3: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Quite frankly the best drama of the year exploring an artform practically unknown outside of Japan. Rakugo has strong characters with great development and growth throughout the series. It shows why these people love the art of Rakugo and how the advance of society threatens killing the art completely. A tale of love, tragedy and the lives of men who can entertain an audience by just telling a story. One of the more underrated series of 2016 and well worth your time.
2: Flip Flappers
Magical girl series had a small revitalization thanks to Madoka but ultimately those chasing Madoka’s coattails failed to capture what made it a game changer. Filp Flappers decide to be it’s own thing and god I love it for that. The animation is energetic, the art bubbly and cute, and the plot simple on the surface but with the depth for those looking deeper. Animation was colourful and dynamic while the show touted some nice story elements about identity and adolescence. Certainly my pick for best original anime of 2016.
1: Re:Zero Life in another world
Don’t think I don’t know the reaction to this. Some are nodding saying “good” and others are likely shaking their heads in disappointment. Well it’s my list and if you ask me what series I enjoyed the most this year then Re:Zero is undoubtable it. Yes, I know it’s flawed but I don’t care. I know it has divided the anime community with it’s success that it leaves most critics unwilling to praise it. But people, I loved this show. That’s my opinion and quite frankly that is the only opinion that makes a difference for me. Look, even if the story is flawed and acts as a set up for a greater plot, it still resolved the conflicts within it’s arcs. The music is great and really heightens the feel of the series. The animation for battle scenes is awesome and it’s solid through the show. The direction is fantastic, really making pivotal scenes all the more compelling. I can think of several reasons why you might not like this show, maybe even hate it. But I love his show and nothing comes close to the excitement I had waiting for each episode. I still get filled with glee every time a new translated chapter of the web novel is out.(I thank you dear sir.) I watched it twice over and still think it’s awesome. I love this show and If you have a problem with that then just fight me.
10: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
This is a tight contest between Grimgar and 91 Days (along with Kiznaiver and Erased as a long shots) for this slot, but in the end I decided to go with show that I personally resonate to the most; so Grimgar took the cake. Grimgar isn’t a perfect show; far from it, namely its slow pacing and some irritating characters can put many viewers off; but for those strengths that the show deliver, they deliver so damn well with so much personality. The slice of life aspect, which is unusual for its RPG root, breathes a sense of life to its world settings. Moreover, the water-color background also helps making that world vivid and surprisingly detailed. But the best thing about this show was how the killing and the death does matter. It’s one of those rare shows that understand the grieving process and you can feel the pain lingers many for majority of the series. As such, Grimgar deserved to be in this top 10.
9: Fune wo Amu
noitaminA block has been very shaky lately, just look up there for the worst show I’ve seen this year, but Fune wo Amu was a return to form and demonstrated that there’s still a market for adult drama anime. The process of making dictionary doesn’t sound much interesting, but the show succeeded on follow an everyman spending years to make something worldwide. It’s also a show about connection, about people with different personalities can work together for the same passion projects. Furthermore, both the show and the dictionary (the Great Passage) is one of a way to connect the gap between what we want to express and what we actually express, between one person to another. It’s a delight to see show as dry and mature as this popped up every now and then; the show that tripped out all the spectacular over the top visuals to instead telling the story it wants to tell.
8: Yuri!!! On Ice
To the surprise of everyone before the show aired, Yuri on Ice hit the jackpot with both its remarkable ice skating routines and the romance of our main leads. No, I’m aware the show’s writing wasn’t its forte, as it focused entirely on the performances of all the figure skaters that it had too little time to do anything else. Instead, the show made use the most of its performance to flesh out the performers, giving them characteristics and even their own little arcs to develop. Yuri and Victor deserved special attention for portraying a very positive homosexual relationship; and the routines, although repetitive, never failed to be spectacular. This show’s also a statement from one of the best working anime director right now, Sayo Yamamoto, as this one was a passion project that somehow managed to become a big hit.
7: 3-gatsu no Lion
3-gatsu no Lion biggest strength came from its understanding of its characters. Here in this show they consistently flesh out the main cast, dig deeper and deeper into the main’s train of thoughts and the result was some of the most emotionally effective moments I have seen this year. Then the show contrasted him with the warm-hearted, lovely atmostphere at the sister’s house and you are in for the house full of effective little moments. Shaft adapted this series with styles, turning all those dark and depressing thoughts from Rei with its striking and impressive sequences. The show’s handling of the lighter tones can be questionable at times, and Shaft’s distinctive style doesn’t usually fit with the show’s quiet themes; but the show still managed to give satisfying emotions to most of its little stories.
6: Mob Psycho 100
Contrary to the popular opinions here, I actually find Mob Psycho 100 a better adaptation out of ONE’s works. The animation actually made a great use of rough character designs to showcase one of the most stunning pieces of animation in years. But for me what surprised me the most was its writing that consistently draw out the insecurity of Mob and gave him a necessary triggers to develop. The cast’s likewise all were very well-constructed and each of them added their own color to the overall theme. Mob Psycho 100 is one of the most creative product I’ve seen this year, backed up by the strong development of the cast and surprisingly lots of hearts. I honestly couldn’t ask for more.
5: flying witch
flying witch is one of the best slice of life shows in recent years, bar none. The show takes a slow and deliberate pacing with a strong sense of atmosphere into a mundane countryside world. For a show about a witch adapting to her new hometown, the amount of actual magic was surprisingly low in numbers but when it happened, everything glowed with a sense of wonders. The cast was unified endearing and they have one of the most natural chemistry together this year. More impressively, the show did all that effortlessly to the point of perfection, but look underneath and you can see many little tiny details that keep adding up and made this little world so inviting and rich. In this laid-back world, sometimes we follow a cat for his daily routines, making a hamburger or eating cake in a witch’s café, or even taking a lazy afternoon’s nap.But whatever activities they throw us; flying witch is ultimately a celebration of everyday life’s joy, with a little touch of magic to create a sense of wonder that life and nature could bring to us.
4: Sound! Euphonium 2
The only continuous season on my top 10 list but it more than earned this spot as nothing can beat Sound! Euphonium 2 in terms of ambition and its actual execution. This season was a different kind of beast than the first one, focused more on several separated character’s arcs and many of the show’s highlights could very well be the highpoints of the whole year. That 10-minutes musical performance in its entire from episode 5 was phenomenal, as were the two main girls Kumiko and Asuka’s own developments. This show was also layered with smart visual motifs and sensitive direction that underscored little gestures and facial expressions more than outright dramatic sequences. Everything was handled with utmost care and frankly that obsessive amount of attention to get everything right is something that we might never witness again in other studios.
3: Thunderbolt Fantasy
“WHAT?? WHAT IS THIS PUPPETRY SHOW DOING HERE IN THIS TOP TEN?? THIS IS AN ANIME BLOGGG” You asked? But of course, I say. If anything, Thunderbolt Fantasy is a product that break the boundary on how anime should be and even what anime is. I must admit that I’m not really a fan of Gen Urobuchi; the way that I more respect him than actually love his writing, but everything he created for this little gem was a wonder. The characters all have their own unique personalities and are way over the top so it’s fun to see how their egos crashing with each other through campy dialogues and equally hilarious plot twists. Many of them have their own elegant gestures, unique costume designs and those static faces that weirdly fit the show so well. Those practical effects that you can only see in puppetry and stop motion were put into good use. Thunderbolt Fantasy remains the most ridiculous and entertaining piece of anime that you’ve encountered this year. Long live the anime!
2: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Now, I consider these top 2 to be a league above the rest of the anime crop this 2016 year, modern masterpieces so to speak. Moreover, I’m extremely pleased that these two couldn’t be more contrasted in terms of its storytelling, themes and visual executions. At number 2 was Rakugo, as this is storytelling at its simplest, most elegant and most traditional. This show, at its essence, is the story about the art of storytelling, and everything in the show was constructed like a rakugo play itself. The show at times framed those characters in a staged play-like, and the execution, especially those rakugo themselves, was confident and overall extraordinary. Those characters fall amongst one of the most complex characters this year had to offer. But greatest thing of all, this show might give a much-deserved appreciation back to rakugo itself, as I see more and more people taken interest in rakugo based on this show. The show already feel like an install classic and we only reached the first half of the story. How awesome is that? What a wonderful thing that this show even existed at all.
1: Flip Flappers
Were there any doubt that this one will end up at number 1 on my list? Flip Flappers, in contrast to Rakugo, is a show that succeeded on bringing originality and inventive visual motifs to create its own world and run its own logic. On a surface, the show is an adventure that hop from one genre to another, at the same time overwhelm us with its heavily motifs, abstract visuals, vibrant imaginaries; strong use of colors and the plot that didn’t even attempt to make much sense. On second look, all those themes actually all pointed towards coming-of age theme of self-identity and self-worth. Those girls were all put in those weird “Illusion Worlds” and follow their own brand of logic that somehow managed to be emotionally charged but full of hopeful sentiments. The show is a constant adolescent journeys that make up from opposing force between the urge, freedom and emotional directness from Papika and compassion, responsibility, think before act quality from Cocona. Flip Flappers is animation in its purest form: a product that can only works well in animation medium. To sum it all up, God save the queen; superheroes save the world, and let the magic word “flip flapping” save the current state of anime.