Top 10 (and Worst 5) Anime of 2016Posted: May 13, 2017 | |
Another year, another top ten list. Albeit, this one late beyond all belief. I suppose that’s what I get for holding off so I could finish some of the shows. Fun fact: none of them even ended up making this list, so it turned out to be a giant waste of time. At least in regards to making this thing, they were all mostly solid shows.
Anyways, last year was alright. Normally I make a joke about how people are really negative about current anime and how that’s massively overblown (which is still true), but this list was definitely easier to make than last year’s. The only shows that were rough were the mid-ranked ones, the top shows were quite easy and one stood at as the clear winner right from the get-go. The choice won’t surprise anyone if you paid attention to what I was saying and the videos I put out, but it’s still nice to have a formal list.
Before starting, remember that I start this list with the five worst shows from the last year, since I prefer ending this whole thing on a positive note. As for the rules of what qualifies for the list, the show needed to end at some point in 2016. Doesn’t matter when it started, it needed to come to an end in that year. Some shows also won’t qualify based on whether they had (or have) a second season that didn’t finish in 2016 or just how they’re marketed. This is largely a personal call I make based on whether I think the season works enough as a standalone.
For example, Iron-Blooded Orphans didn’t qualify because it’s second season is actually the second half of the show, nor does My Hero Academia despite working well enough on its own since it advertised its second season at the end of the first season’s last episode. However Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju does qualify despite the obvious second season lead-in because of just how self-contained its first season is.
It’s kind of confusing, but basically I just try my best to gauge shows as a complete experience, and some of them I feel need more than one season for that.
With all that out of the way, let’s get started.
The worst five for this year were pretty easy to pick, despite not actually outright hating any of them except for the top one, though deciding where each would fall on the list itself took some work. Regardless, here they are.
HaruChika was a show I wanted to like, but ultimately wastes most of its potential. It actually has an interesting setup with a silly love triangle and a gay main character that isn’t played for laughs (though now that Yuri on Ice has aired that aspect has lost some its luster), but it never went anywhere interesting. The show spent all its time on solving a bunch of mysteries with Haruta being a tad too talented at figuring them out. It would be one thing if they built up to something, like what Gosick does, but that’s not the case. Some of the mysteries get them band members, but that’s about it. Also, remember the big joke about how K-On sucked because it was a show about a music club when there’s almost no music focus? You can equally level that argument at this show.
Another show that had the potential for greatness but fell extremely short. While the directing itself wasn’t shabby, the pacing and writing were absurd. The few interesting ideas the story had were completely ruined by the breakneck pacing. I’m willing to bet that the visual novel is around as long as Steins;Gate, so they probably had to make the show progress as quickly as it did in order to fit it in the number of episodes they had. I just wish they didn’t achieve that by making them talk so absurdly fast. The best thing to come from this show was a obvious confirmation that speaking at the same speed as normal Japanese people does not somehow make the voice acting better.
Every year I have one show on my “worst” list that gets me into trouble, and this will probably be the one for this year. I’m just so tired of Key works. Narrative techniques relying on you getting emotional don’t really work when you pull them over and over and over again. And yes, I know this is actually one of the first works Key did, but they decided to make a show out of it now, so it’s fair game. Getting sad – especially from a character dying – needs to be either unexpected or the viewer has to be attached enough to not want it to happen. Preferably, you want to aim for both. Those don’t work when you can tell within a nanosecond of seeing the female lead that you know something bad is going to happen to her. If you’re going to pull the same trick Key, at least try some interesting ways to screw over your female characters, come up with something new and exciting for once.
My dislike of Kabaneri is pretty well-documented since I put out my own specific post on this show. The TL;DR is that there’s a very fine line between portraying something as cool vs. stupid, and the show was utterly incapable of seeing where that line was. It was often impossible to tell which the show was going for at any given point. Not to mention the multitude of just straight-up dumb writing decisions. Hey Mumei, maybe when you’ve noticed a dude has outright lied to you about three times and puts you under guarded supervision, you should stop instantly trusting the guy when he promises he’ll do something you want.
Big Order is probably the worst show I’ve ever watched in my life, and this is coming from a guy who actually likes Future Diary. It’s a show that reaches “so bad it’s good” territory, then plummets past that into “so bad it’s not even entertaining ironically” territory, until it finally reaches “was this even a thing made by actual, rational-thinking human beings” territory. Almost everything about Big Order is completely awful: the writing, the art, the animation, the directing, and hell even most of the voice acting. Scenes within the same episode look like they were produced in completely different locations and then stitched together at a third office. Future Diary was also often absurd, but it at least established that early on and set internal rules for itself and had some interesting character ideas going for it. Big Order just feels like an amalgamation of dumb ideas thrown together, without even bothering to see if any of them would stick before moving on to the next one. The only positive thing I can say about the show is that it had the decency to be only ten episodes long, though even that was too many.
And that’ll do it for the worst list. Time to get to the positive side of the year with the top ten list, but first I have a few honorable mentions for some shows that just barely didn’t make the cut.
In no particular order: Flip Flappers, the first season of KonoSuba, Yuri on Ice, and Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen (a show I’m pretty sure only I liked). Also, I like to mention shows I’ve heard good things about and may have made the list, but I never had time to get around to, so also in no particular order: Ajin, Girlish Number, and Fune wo Amu.
And yes, that means that despite taking so much time to finish some shows from last year to see if they’d make this list, there were still some I didn’t have time to get around to. I suck.
But now, on to the top ten.
When I first started Assassination Classroom, I enjoyed it but wasn’t expecting it to make it to any of my top lists. By the end of the second season, it had grown on me way more than I expected. I didn’t think it’d get me to care about such a large cast, but it did a mostly solid job, and by the end of the second season the important characters stood out pretty well. But my main reason for the show making this list is largely a personal thing: I picked it up because I wanted to hear Jun Fukuyama do a lead role since it had been quite a while, and he was absolutely stellar. Most people view his iconic voice role as being Lelouch, but from a pure character perspective, Koro-sensei gives that a run for its money. I just wish there was a decent English translation for his name.
This is another show that probably won’t be shared by most other people’s lists. Though while Assassination Classroom mostly made it due to its second season, Bubuki Buranki makes it primarily due to its first. Not that the second season was bad, I just liked the first season a lot more. Mainly because it focused way more on Reoko then, who was a wonderfully sadistic character to watch. I also have to give it kudos for the character Epizo, who on initial introduction I thought I’d despise, to then turn out to be the greatest source of comedy in the show. Bubuki Buranki may not be the greatest show, and its CG so it could definitely look better, but it has solid writing on both a plot and character front for the most part, and there’s some neat action choreography too. But really it’s just that Reoko was a 10/10 character.
Okay, I promise this is the last show that you’re wondering how it made this list due to a ton of other shows you know about that “should” be on here. Sekkou Boys was just too funny to not put on this list. Idols are a pretty huge deal right now, so what better way to parody this view of perfect beauty by having actual historic art busts of St. George, Mars, Hermes, and Medici forming an idol group. Then it goes on to poke fun at various aspects of idol culture. Not to mention the episodes are seven minutes each, so the inherent gag of the busts being idols doesn’t lose its luster. Comedy is one of the most subjective elements in entertainment however, so I might have found the show more amusing than most people. Who knows.
Similar to last year’s One Punch Man, I struggled to find where I’d put this show on my list, and hilariously enough it ended up in the exact same spot: the seventh. While it wasn’t intentional, it’s quite fitting. There are aspects to both shows that I like more or less than the other, and they balance out to me liking both pretty equally. For the most part, Mob Psycho does more of what I like, but the times One Punch Man did similar things, I liked those instances more. One example being I like that Mob Psycho has a more regular focus on character writing, but I liked the few genuine character moments that were in One Punch Man more. Regardless, they’re both still excellent shows, and more than deserve their popularity.
Something people may have noticed is that I don’t tend to be the biggest fan of slow, slice-of-life shows. They typically just put me to sleep because I can’t get into them and find them mindbogglingly boring. So I was really, really surprised when I not only managed to stay awake for Flying Witch, but was actually enjoying it. It’s probably because the main characters are college students rather than little kids. Almost any age works in fantasy and adventure stuff, but when the point of the show is to enjoy the casual meanderings of life, it’s better for the characters to… well, have a life. Actually having a social life and some responsibilities makes these shows more engaging since elementary and high school kids tend to not have much of a life outside of what they do at school. There are exceptions, of course, that’s just how it usually goes. Regardless, I’m glad I no longer have to automatically pass over this genre anymore. Thanks for that, Flying Witch.
After Stardust Crusaders ended, some people were surprised it didn’t make my top ten list since the combo season of one & two for JoJo did quite well before. While the season wasn’t bad, it dragged on for way too long and had too many other minor issues (along with solid competition that year) to make it. Diamond is Unbreakable, on the other hand, is a return to top form for the series, though it does admittedly drag a bit around the middle until it introduces Kira, who was a fantastic villain. As iconic as Dio is, they didn’t fight him until the very end. Kira on the other hand gets fought a little over halfway in, only to escape and be a brooding force until he returns to the forefront in the final few episodes. My only hope is that the JoJo anime continues, because I’ve heard it only gets more crazy the further in you go.
Most people became a fan of Trigger due to Little Witch Academia, but there were a few who, like myself, became infatuated with them when they released their first project as a studio on Youtube called Inferno Cop. It was incredibly dumb in the best way possible, where it basically circles back around and becomes brilliant. Ever since, I’ve kept my eyes on the shorts Trigger does more than the actual TV shows, and Space Patrol Luluco was great. Ninja Slayer was polarizing for various reasons, but Luluco has actual animation (most of the time) and the episodes aren’t twelve minutes long. Plus the deal with Ninja Slayer was that it’s entire existence was basically the joke, whereas Luluco is more traditional in that just silly stuff happens within a loopy plot. Also there’s an Inferno Cop cameo, so it’s basically the best thing Trigger has put out since Inferno Cop.
It seems like the pattern for this year’s list is “comedy”. Except for number ten and nine, every show so far could be classified as a comedy of some degree. But if I had to choose one to be the top dog, it’d be This Art Club Has a Problem. I mentioned before that comedy is the most subjective element of enjoyment due to everyone having their own sense of humor, so I probably won’t convince people who didn’t care for it, but this show was easily the funniest I watched all year. The comedies that I enjoy the most tend to be the more character-focused ones, where it’s a goofball cast interacting with each other so things inevitably spiral out of control. Comedies don’t typically get a focus as to whether they should get sequels or not, but I’m hoping this one does.
The funny thing about this show is that the first season worked enough on its own that it could have made my list last year, but the second season started airing so soon into 2016 that I decided to hold off. It ended up being the right call to make, because it would’ve been way lower on the list last year than it is right here. Not because the second season was leagues better than the first season – they’re both about equally good – but the new season made me realize just how much I like the show. I enjoyed the first season as it aired, but the next season airing after a break brought out something in me I wasn’t even aware of. Maybe it was a case of not realizing what you have until its gone (though this was more of not realizing it until it’s back), but seeing the two leads being disgustingly adorable together brought way more joy to me than I expected. I say that I hope most of the shows on these lists get sequels, but I hope this one continues to get seasons so that I can keep getting that specific unique feeling that it gives me.
Like I said at the start, if you’ve been paying attention to the content I put out and what I was saying last year, this choice should surprise absolutely nobody. I already put out a mammoth of a post going over almost every little thing I love so much about the show, so I’ll just say to go read that if you haven’t rather than repeat most of it here. I also won’t say that I hope this gets more seasons, because something in me just kind of knows it will. It may take some time, but I won’t be surprised at all about an inevitable sequel announcement. I mean I’m sure the amount of Rem merchandise that was sold could fund an entire season on its own, so hey.
And that will wrap up 2016. Again, I apologize for the lateness of this, sometimes shit just happens and cascades and you can do much other than wade through it and wait it out.
Regardless, now I can turn my full vision to the shows in 2017, and hoping it turns out to be yet another good year for anime.