This is, as usual, a list of various “bests” (and honestly a lot of “most ____”) of the season ranging from things like best music and best seiyuu to more randomly chosen categories like most fun title and cutest critter. Overall this was another pretty positive year for the medium and while many of the shows I got the most into at first turned out to be COMPLETE shit there weren’t enough of them to really drag any season down. I had a lot of shit to deal with this year in a lot of ways (hilariously none politically unlike most people are whining about and even filling their entire game of the year content with for some reason, in fact that went amazing on my end) and I still am dealing with it, so let’s just get to the fun! I watched a shit ton of anime this year and loved a good amount of what I spent that time with, so this was actually pretty hard to put together especially when it came to favorite characters and scenes.
I had a lot of categories so I cut a lot of ones out if I felt they were just too similar to other ones, weren’t faced with enough challengers (for example mystery only had Mayoiga, which I admit I’m in the minority in that I think was a fantastic mystery even if not a great overall show, but there were basically no other mystery shows so it’d be a pointless category when I already have too many – or things that would basically list off the same shows already taking the top spots for everything). And as usual this is mostly filled with completely random shit for the categories and also lots of inconsistent things like some having a runner-up, some having multiple of those, and others just having one thing.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures Part 4 – Great Days
*If it’s removed you can at least listen to it here if it’s not also taken down, just google it otherwise.
Runner-up: Drifters – Gospel of the Throttle this was honestly one of the harder decisions to make out of this whole post, the Drifters OP has a fantastic style and grittiness to it that also really got me pumped for every episodes, but Great Days just had something special to it that pushed it slightly above.
This was really fun, silly, and featured a cute pure kogal with enormous breasts so I mean not really a difficult choice, though there were a lot of great shorts this year again. It’s really fun and even when it’s being lewd it’s in a really cute way due to galko being a very pure and naive girl even though her fashion and massive delicious breasts leads people to think she takes literally all the dicks, but it mostly revolves around her and her two friends just kinda being silly girl friends.
Runners-up: Gakuen Handsome, Ao Oni
Real Life Lime Kawasaki – Bakuon
I liked Lime a hell of a lot from the moment she showed up, probably even once she was in promo art but definitely even more once the series started airing. Apparently the staff did too because they decided to just find a girl, slap the helmet and rest of her outfit on (or a bikini, or a yukata), and have her ride around Japan on a Lime green Kawasaki Ninja making fun videos, doing full on photoshoots like an actual famous person including a whole gravure shoot, and hosting a whole bunch of fun events full of otaku bikers and other fans of the show. It was just such a fantastic idea, she even has plenty of pictures with the seiyuu and all – which is made better when you consider Lime literally has no seiyuu, she doesn’t even make a single grunt in the show when she literally fucking explodes for example (don’t worry, the ‘real’ one doesn’t make a sound either). So who is this masked girl? Well, it’s Lime and that’s all there is to it.
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table fight a bunch of Scandinavian Gods to get Santa (yes, the ho ho ho merry Christmas one) to bring happiness to the world while wielding a nailbat that causes explosions which he needs because he fights the Six Saints and Loki through locations such as the Tower of Babyl and the land of Oz to fight the wizard of Oz. It’s also completely serious and actually fairly enjoyable for being the most insane fucking fever dream of an anime I’ve ever personally known to exist.
Keijo is something I’ve talked about before and a lot of what I said is why it’s here. It’s a genuinely good sports series that revolves around taking DOAXtreme’s butt battles and turning them into a full on real sport that’s taken as seriously in-universe as any other professional sport. It’s got a lot of really great strong likable characters who are really passionate about the sport and it comes through as there’s a focus on the goals and dreams of most of the main cast and taking steps to achieve those things. While this isn’t a top-tier sports show, it was definitely a really good one and easily the best one of the year. There are some aspects that I would say I totally loved though – not including the gratuitous titties and asses – the biggest one being the way the main cast is formed through originally starting out all as rivals at the same training school before then using that rivalry as friendship because they then become teammates in a college vs college tournament. It’s cool seeing former rivals and even some really mean “antagonist” seeming types becoming friends and allies through competing with one another throughout all their training and it made the finale wherein that’s actually a very relevant part of it all the better for it. It’s a real good sports show with all the elements of a sports show that also happens to have a lot of life and hometown used in hilarious, tasty, and yet believable-for-the-sport strategic and smart ways.
Runner-up: Prince of Stride
Top 3.5 New Males
3.5. Jean-Jacques Leroy – Yuri!!! On Ice
I’m cheating but I had to fit him in here. He’s such a great character and he’s barely in the show but his development is extraordinary and his personality is so love-hate in the perfect way. He’s an arrogant shithead but that slowly melts away for the viewer into the real genuine him beneath it that isn’t just arrogant but in love with what he does and so dedicated to everyone who supports him to the point that he loves himself for their benefit and they do the same right back even when he screws up on the ice. He starts off as almost a joke character and ends up with the most touching performance and development in the show’s last two episodes and the only part of the show that actually got me emotionally invested on a real level. He’s both a really endearing character as his narcissism only exists to his immense pride in his supporters and country but also someone that’s just fucking hilarious.
3. Josuke Higashikata – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4 Diamond is Unbreakable
IT’S JOJO STYLE! How could Josuke not be on here? He’s an awesome badass with a HEART OF JUSTICE and is a perfect protagonist for such a silly over the top and yet incredibly serious series, he’s second only to Jotaro who simply can’t be beat. I mean hell, Jotaro even basically finishes the main antagonist in the end, not Josuke even though it’s actually his season. But still, Josuke is a really fun character especially in that he seemingly (and unwittingly) followed in Joseph’s footsteps of kind of being a cocky asshole in the most fun way.
2. Fango – 91 Days
It’s hard for me to really explain what makes me love Fango’s character so much. He’s edgy as all hell but it’s in such a self aware over-the-top way, he’s edgy because he’s fucking crazy in both the scariest and most fun ways. Basically he is exactly what edgy characters almost always aspire to be but actually manages to do it – the edge doesn’t get in the way, it enhances him and makes him not only purposefully hilarious but also someone very threatening and who can make a room grow tense just by stepping into it because that edginess mixed with his very upbeat, loud, and seemingly joyous at all times (especially when he’s being whipped and beaten by fat women, because that’s canonically his thing) personality means he’s absolutely unpredictable. Fango is a fucking lunatic and it works so damn well for him and makes him incredibly easy to enjoy watching every moment he’s on screen. He’s the guy you immediately see and go “ugh, look at this fucking edgelord” and then realize he’s damn fun to watch because he’s so charismatic, intimidating, and just way over the top and dangerously hard to gauge in any situation. Plus his voice adds a shit ton to the character coming off properly, incredible work all around.
1. All Might – My Hero Academia
No matter what he’s facing or how likely he is to lose, All Might doesn’t miss a beat and never backs down. In fact, he goes above and beyond – some might even call it Plus Ultra. He’s an incredible role model and motivational person who is the personification of the term “hero” in every way well beyond any superhero you’ve ever heard of for sure. Kind, genuinely caring, very literally gives up chunks of his life every time he helps or fights – which he never hesitates to do, is the only reason the main character has any power at all, and most importantly not only never backs down but faces every challenge and foe with a huge confident smile. The fact he nurtures so much of these traits in Deku is also admirable, and it’s all made much more meaningful when you realize that in a way he’s kind of the actual protagonist of the show as much as Deku, as – and this is a spoiler – he’s desperately trying to find a way to continue the legacy while knowing he’s on borrowed time and Deku is the chance he’s found to do that making him practically a father-figure to Deku along the way which adds a lot of depth to both of their roles.
Top New Female
Tsuyu “Froppy” Asui (Frog) – My Hero Academia
Froggo is cute! CUTE!
Runners-up: Lime – Bakuon, Igsem Yatorishino – Alderamin
The truth about Hako Salome Sakura – Scared Rider Xechs
While Scared Rider Xechs wasn’t the best show in the world (although it was surprisingly alright and fun, not bad at all) – it did have a surprise in store when it took a big turn towards the end with some very serious events and an incredibly handled reveal that turned an always upbeat fun supporting cast member practically into the lead for two episodes and one of the most fucked up and sad characters in the show. It’s not out of nowhere either, it’s built up slowly and very subtly and also leads you down a lot of red herring paths. Going in knowing there’s a twist might dampen the blow somewhat as it was pretty surprising, but even then it’s just done so well and is still a shocking revelation – not to mention the events immediately following the confession which just add further to what a powerful turn it was. And seriously, who would expect something so heavy and also so important from a character who is barely relevant most of the show aside being a fun supporting character (and managing to not make it an asspull or feel retarded as well as having HUGE MEANINGFUL CONSEQUENCES from that very moment on?).
Runner-up: Taboo Tattoo – This is another thing I don’t want to spoil and, in this case, comes out of nowhere but is still also believable and was kind of the opposite of foreshadowed if that’s a thing as there’s plenty of implications nothing like this would ever happen prior to it happening. It had a MASSIVE impact on the show as well and was one of the most shocking things of the year…but as true as that is I just feel like narratively it got edged out a little. Way more emotional, way more “oh shit”, but more for the fact it happened at all rather than the fact it was a twist – if that makes any sense at all. If I had a “most shocking moment” category it’d easily be the winner of that.
You Can Become A Hero – My Hero Academia
I so badly wanted to give this to the PLUS ULTRA battle scene from later on in the show as it’s one of the most thrilling and badass scenes in the medium or the fight between Deku and not-Accelerator, but this moment in episode 2 was just so powerful that it always stuck with me and is also the second I completely fell in love with the show. It’s such a simple scene but so full of emotions the entire time and it has such beautiful music to go with it too. After being told his whole life he could never be a hero and now even facing off with a real villain (who was literally killing his friend) and being helpless, he realizes it’s true – he’ll never amount to anything as a hero, even the most famous hero in the world told him so and his mother sobbed into his arms and continually apologized feeling so pained that she made him be born without any power when it’s all he wants. But, finally after everything that happened in the first two episodes, All Might comes and finds him and takes back what he said before and gives him a very succinct speech that ends up leading to the most important sentence in the show. “You can become a hero”. All Deku can do is fall to his knees, grit his teeth, and cry. It’s easily the most emotionally strong moments of the year and probably one of my favorites of all time, it’s just such a beautiful, genuine, and powerful thing in what it is and definitely a big part of it is the presentation of it as otherwise it’s a fairly simple scene but it was directed perfectly.
Runners-up: Ambulance meet Kira. Kira meet ambulance. – Jojo Part 4 finale, King JJ’s performance in episode 11 of Yuri!!! On Ice
Yuri!!! On Ice
No, not joking. The blatantly gay relationship between Yuri and Viktor is something that starts as a humorous thing that just seems like it’s obvious fujoshibait but it quickly turns into something very genuine and heartfelt while also being one of the most well handled gay relationships I’ve seen (especially from Japan). You can argue that they aren’t actually gay and just admire each other, but that’d be pretty goddamn hard to actually get anyone to believe. The show makes sure it never is overbearing or obnoxious about it and absolutely doesn’t try making any ‘statements’ for the LGBTQITUVWXYZ+ crowd or anything either. Yuri On Ice is definitely a romance and a very well done one with a lot of honesty and an ability to really get that across to the viewer throughout every episode especially as it progresses and you realize more and more that this isn’t just a running gag and is actually a really good portrayal of some likable homos (though honestly Yuri was the least likable character in his own show – I liked him but what a bland dude).
Runner Up: Hatsukoi Monster – this was an incredibly funny and enjoyable show that almost always maintained it’s quality, and I really loved that they went for (as far as the romance was concerned) a fairly serious look at the problems of a genuine relationship between a near-adult and a child which resulted in some really unique, fun, sad, touching, adorable, and very unexpected moments. It just had way too many bumps along the way in terms of it’s quality – specifically related to forcing in drama needlessly from time to time from this pseudo-rapist guy.
Coolest Show That Isn’t Sakamoto Desu Ga
I fucking love the mafia, I always have, I was that kid who wrote essays about Salvatore “Lucky” Luciano for middle school papers about who you admire and want to be like and that’s never changed, so immediately 91 Days caught my eye and it did NOT disappoint. It’s got absolutely every aspect of mobster fiction perfect from the look and feel to the great personalities of even supporting cast members along with an incredibly tense and tragic story. There’s not much else to say in regards to why it wins this category, there’s not much cooler than badass mobsters, let alone a revenge story about a guy pretending to be one and slowly murdering off an entire crime family from within it. An incredible ride both in terms of a mobster story and definitely just as much in relation to being an amazing and emotional revenge tale.
My Hero Academia
The music in this show wasn’t just amazing and perfectly fitting, but perfectly used as well. My personal favorites are You Say Run and You Can Be A Hero.
Runner-up: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Not new by any means, hell he’s even in Prince of Tennis, but he definitely had a huge influx of roles this year and all fantastic with his most standout one, and the reason I got so into his voice, being Fango. This guy has one of the most wild, fun, and cool voices out there and he knows how to use it. Not only does he fit every role he’s in perfectly, but he escalates those characters well above where they’d be without him purely from his voice and talent with it.
Runner-up: Mai Kanazawa (Futaba in Sansha Sanyou, that’s literally her only role so I figured I’d specify)
Kira Yoshikage – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4
As outlandish and over-the-top Jojo has always been, Kira manages to somehow be hauntingly realistic in his portrayal of a serial killer. If you’ve ever spent any time with morbid interests like most people by even just sitting and watching some TV special about a serial killer, a fictional TV show, or even read any memoirs or watched any police interviews and such from any you’ll know just how believable Kira is in all his seemingly exaggerated ways. His belief that he’s invincible and uncatchable, his strange quirks, his attempts to blend in that are so overly done that he stands out because of it, and a genuine belief that he’s doing nothing wrong while also being logically aware of how terrible everything he’s doing would be seen by others yet lacking the ability to empathize or sympathize…all while honestly just wanting a quiet life. It’s just that his “quiet” life involves murdering women, cutting their hands off, and carrying them around with him until he “breaks up” with his lover for a new one and starts if all over again. Yet he’s also clearly a human being rather than “le evylllbadddyyy” like, say, the child serial killer from Erased who turns into an alien demon the moment he randomly confesses by mistake to make sure you understand HE’S BAAAAD!!!! which isn’t something that fucking happens outside of real godawful fiction writing – just a completely broken one. Kira is a genuine sociopath and he’s depicted that way perfectly without being outlandish or too tame, he’s one of the most realistic depictions of a serial killer in fiction excluding the whole stand thing and that makes him amazing and terrifying.
Runner-up: Fango – 91 Days
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – Shin’s entire fucking life
I don’t really want to summarize the show or spoil it for that matter, but boy is Shin’s life fucked. Every step of the way it gets worse and worse until it straight up ends because of how fucked it is. The entirety of the first season of Rakugo is dedicated to telling Shin’s story and it’s an incredibly tragic and heartfelt one every step of the way.
Runner-up: Taboo Tattoo – I won’t spoil what, but if you’ve seen it you know which part I mean…which is the same part I mentioned as a runner up for biggest twist.
Chihiro – Shounen Maid
Runner-up: Lil’ Renren
Best Insert Song
Theme of King JJ
I LOOK IN THE MIRROR – A KING LOOKS BACK AT ME
I CAN RULE THE WORLD – JJ – JUST FOLLOW ME
Runner-up: Pretty much all of Grimgar
Bluesy Fluesy – Taboo Tattoo
Runner-up: Literally everyone in 91 Days except Frate, what a lame fucking name.
Best Animation & Cinematography
Taboo Tattoo proves that JC Staff is still the top of the industry even rivaling incredibly high budget studios that barely do anything (and thus have even HIGHER budgets and more focused staff) such as UFOtable, as it stands toe-to-toe with something like Fate/Zero without much difficulty (as did Railgun S). It’s constantly beautifully animated and just has a really nice high quality look to it at all times even in the art let alone when in motion. Something that goes well above even UFOtable would be the ‘camera’ work which isn’t just excellent but does some things you pretty rarely – if ever – find in anime. It’s pretty reminiscent of how “film-like” the cinematography in Railgun S (again!) was but in that it was cinematic in the way that thrillers and dramas and such are, while Taboo Tattoo is very much like an action film with the camera being treated as if it’s on swings and dollys pretty regularly meaning big action sequences (like the above, for example) with sweeping cameras instead of just a static angle or the usual abruptly cutting to different ones. JC Staff seems to be the only studio that understands treating the camera like you would if you were really filming something adds a LOT to every shot, instead of doing what most anime do (including many of their own, admittedly, as it’s way less expensive and complicated) and just doing very basic camera work and treating it as not a real camera either.
“Oof! Wow, heavier than I thought…” – Hatsukoi Monster
Runners-up: “He’s running in the style of Darwin’s evolutionary theory again!” – Sakamoto desu ga, “IT’S JJ STYLE” – Yuri!!! On Ice
Poco – Poco’s Udon World
Runners-up: Fuzzball – Mononokean, Rokumon – Kyoukai no Rinne 2. Sorry Rokumon you’re second again, you’re always so close!
Most Lighthearted Fun
Time Bokan 24
This is a show absolutely everyone should appreciate and enjoy, it’s super lighthearted silliness with a great ability to poke and prod at anime tropes in ways even Gintama hasn’t while also being incredibly creative. The actual story revolves around finding the silly “true history” of historical events, such as the truth about the Wright Brothers or about the dinosaurs and things like that, and the true history is never something you’d expect. The show is really great fun and absolutely for anyone of any age. 100% recommend if it you want something genuinely funny and also just really enjoyable to watch. There’s also a cute girl and a sexy lady, and if you’ve ever seen the original old Time Bokan or Yatterman then there’s a big bonus for you because the 3 main “antagonists” are very literally identical.
Runners-up: Time Travel Girls, Poco’s Udon World
Show I Most Want a Sequel For
*That doesn’t have one announced already/that isn’t currently ongoing.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Runners-up: Alderamin, Kyoukai no Rinne (for a season 3), and Jojo but there’s like a 90% chance of that already.
Meaningful Lasting Consequences
Not to say this hasn’t existed prior, it has plenty, but this year there was a huge influx of meaningful and permanent consequences of decisions or just situations this year compared to the norm where when something happens – say a character goes blind in an eye – it typically is fixed eventually down the line, yet it isn’t in these shows. This year has been home to a load of cripples being made, main characters dying, losing limbs, or becoming paralyzed, and complete lives and stories being flipped on their heads until the shows (or their lives) ended because of what usually would be a smaller impact event. I don’t just mean physical things or stuff like the image above, but even in terms of narrative and character decisions in even completely non-violent things as well.
If it gets taken down then maybe you shouldn’t be such a loser – go watch the show and see it that way, it’s amazing.
Runners-up: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans ED 2, Kyoukai no Rinne 2 ED 2