2016 was another year full of fantastic anime following the footsteps of the last couple years where the industry is finally having a resurgence in quality after a huge drop that lingered far too long. Every season was full of great stuff and the bad was very easily avoided or just wasn’t that large in number. With the year ending literally pretty much right as this is getting posted it’s time to go back through and see what stood above the rest as the best of the greats.
I’ve mentioned it a billion times now but this year has been pretty bad for me health wise (even right now!) so honestly I might not be able to really go into detail for some of these things because I just don’t remember or can’t get across what I want to say properly, but these definitely are all the best of this year and some really fantastic things in general. It’s the same reason I forgot even very basic and important categories in the worst of post and stuff like that, I have a lot of these things in mind but actually elaborating on some or remembering to even put them down has been difficult. So keep in mind, just because I don’t say much doesn’t mean anything negative or that there’s nothing to say.
I also feel like I need to say there were a LOT OF SHOWS that deserve to be listed as honorable mentions this year and I feel bad for not having several of them here – but the whole point of posts like this is having to really go in and decide on things specifically in the way I like to do them, having 3 was already a bit much for the type of post I like my top end of year post to be but I couldn’t help myself. Definitely couldn’t keep adding more though.
Tales of Zestiria the X
I love the Tales franchise and my second favorite game in the series may very well be Zestiria, it’s a game that got a lot of undeserved hate yet it stands as a reminder, to me, of how great Tales can truly be after the “alright” Xillia and the complete pile of shit that was Xillia 2 marring my faith in the brand. While I’m still upset that Zestiria got an anime before Graces (the absolute best), I’m a lot more fine with it when I consider how damn good this show was. Zestiria’s game was full of faults in that it felt incomplete as the story sort of abruptly ends and how one of the main characters in the plot – Alisha – never had anything to her personality beyond “I am a vapid and incredibly naive girl who never changes at all” and also no motivation for her character past that either. She was easily the weakest element of the games and she (luckily) wasn’t even around much. The show fixes that, hell, the show fixes EVERYTHING.
It’s not what you’d consider a “perfect adaptation” typically but it’s exactly what I prefer adaptations to be – not 1:1 but taking all the main elements and retelling the same story in a new-enough way that it’s exciting and interesting even to someone who knows the original source word for word WITHOUT being changed enough to call it a remake, just a better or new version that ADDS a lot without CHANGING too much. The show is totally faithful to the game but makes sure to add a shit ton of content to give Alisha a personality for once, give her motivation, make her more than a plot element and into an actual CHARACTER while also fleshing out everything from the towns to the main villain much better than the game ever did and adding in a lot of needed situations that never took place in the game which not only fix the biggest issues I had with it but truly add to the overall experience in great ways.
It’s a damn fantastic show that really ups the entire quality of the already great game, and even beyond that if you’ve never played the game it’s a fantastic fantasy story that’s fully understandable on it’s own and if you disliked the game this is different enough to maybe make you interested as well.
Time Bokan 24
FUN! While I love character dramas and mature romance the most in fiction, stuff that is just super fun is something very dear to me. Time Bokan 24 is easily some of the most fun show I’ve watched in years with only Girls Und Panzer really on the same level even though it’s a completely different type of show. Not only is it just plain enjoyable every step of the way, it’s super creative and always has you excited to see what the “true history” is going to turn out as this time, what mecha Bimajo and her goons will attack with and how they’ll ultimately be punished by their boss for failing, how are we gonna get into the mechabuton today, and so on. It’s just so goddamn enjoyable -I can’t recommend it enough and it’s definitely not just some kids show given the amount of sexy bimajo and her clothes being torn apart, often popping up jokes kids would never get, and a lot of anime-trope parodying.
Drifters is really fucking cool and as edgy and shitty as it seems – it’s not. It’s a surprisingly comedic action series revolving around a superb concept that adds so much to it. Every main cast member both good and bad are based on real dead people in history (the bad guys) or real missing-bodies people in history (the less bad guys), and they’re battling it out in a fantasy world full of all the basic fantasy tropes you’d expect from dragons and elves to super good at crafting shit dwarves. The real draws of the show though surprisingly lie in the comedic aspects, the action being fantastic and unique, and ESPECIALLY the depictions of these people. They’re some of the most believable versions I’ve seen of many of them and I want to especially point out Nobunaga who feels here like the most accurate to real life depiction of him that’s been done really. The same goes for most of them really, and the dead ones are full of hate and want revenge on people for what happened to them – they’re equally realistic and their reasons for being so vindictive are also really well done as well as used in creative ways. For example, Jeanne D’arc literally has fire magic and is fucking clearly insane. This is not an edgy show even with so much edge too, I mean Jesus is the evil bad guy who wants to wipe out humanity for betraying him, and one of the good guys before our time was LITERALLY HITLER but even with things like that being the case it’s a very self-aware, silly, over the top fun show that isn’t trying to take itself seriously at all while also managing to be one of the straight up coolest shows I’ve seen in a very long time alongside 91 Days.
Fifth Best Anime Of The Year
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
From a really fun, exciting, action-packed show to one of the most somber and slow moving possible. Rakugo (I’m not typing that full fucking name every time) is truly a beautiful series telling the life of a now-dead man from his childhood to his death from the perspective of his best and at times worst friend. It tells so many personal details of these two and goes through so many ups and downs and everything about it feels like a genuine true story even though it’s all fiction – it’s just that these characters are so believable and the shit they go through is equally realistic and natural even if Shin’s life is full of some pretty awful luck. Even knowing the end result of Shin dying, you can’t help but get wrapped up in this near-romance between these two guys and their unbelievably-believable drama unfolds and is torn asunder and mended back again only to come to a permanent end shortly after.
However, that’s not the only thing that makes Rakugo a masterpiece that arguably probably should be higher on this list, one of my absolute favorite things about it is that it had the balls to make the viewer sit through some full rakugo performances. Shorter ones, as long ones can go on for hours, but still. Most people even in Japan have never experienced Rakugo before, and for foreign fans like myself I had barely even heard of it, so seeing it here was spectacular and interesting as all hell. In fact it made me really sad that there isn’t a real way for someone without great Japanese language knowledge to consume real Rakugo because it’s REALLY FUCKING GOOD. Fun and dramatic overall comedic stories told by some incredible talent, in this case especially Shin who will have even you watching the show, let alone his in-show audience, completely absorbed in his stories. I hope this show succeeded in bolstering the artform as it’s a wonderful thing that needs to continue for generations to come. This show, much like Rakugo itself can be, is an incredibly personal journey through the love, hate, happiest, and saddest moments of a couple people’s lives.
Fourth Best Anime Of The Year
Alderamin on the Sky is another show that absolutely stood above most this year in a lot of ways. This show does a lot of very hard to manage things with it’s cast and does them incredibly well, most notably when it’s relating to a girl who was runner-up in the best new female category in the other post – Yatori. She is arguably the actual main character with Ikta being a very strong and direct supporting member of the cast who just happens to be where the story is told from. The focus on her character’s developments is very key to this show’s story and also a big part of what makes it so great with some incredibly powerful and visceral moments that are some of the best of their type.
The overall story was also great and this was a show (including those moments I just mentioned) that was not afraid to really make everything that happens continue to matter and it actually made things like killing (even though they are in the military) have genuine effects on them as people, with Yatori’s humanity continually slipping further and further away – her very aware and extremely scared of that yet never dropping her strength at all or showing any weakness to anybody – with only Ikta to keep her reminded that she’s still able to call herself human. This was one of the shows I looked most forward to seeing more of each week with a great cast, a fantastic OP (even with it’s effects-pedal abuse), some real great concepts at play in the lore and story, and that was just exciting and fun with plenty of lightheartedness yet also super dramatic and totally fucked up parts and very human characters.
Third Best Anime Of The Year
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4: Diamond is Unbreakable
Stardust Crusaders will always be my number one part of Jojo (how could it not be? Jotaro is the best Jojo and him and Joseph at the SAME TIME? I mean come on), but Diamond is Unbreakable is fucking great and has always been INCREDIBLY close to overtaking it – especially now with the anime being such an amazing version of it. Come on down to Morioh and experience the town for yourself! Make sure to visit Angelo Rock with your girlfriend before going for a nice evening meal at Trattoria Trussardi. Be warned though, there’s been a spike in crime recently and there are also rumors of a serial killer that’s been in town for years still being active and on the loose.
This is essentially the ultimate culmination of what Jojo was always trying to be, it’s over the top yet awkwardly believable, hilarious, thrilling, full of the most lovable and hateable cast imaginable, and it all takes place in a beautiful mess of style that shouldn’t work but does. It’s Jojo at it’s very best and is something everyone should check out – though preferably not starting here especially given so much of part 4 relies on part 3. Please don’t let the godawful fanbase, arguably one of the absolute worst in the entire massive world of anime fandom, ruin the franchise for you – give Jojo a shot, it’ll win you over in no time.
Second Best Anime Of The Year
We’ve been over this a lot. I fucking love the mafia. However, is that really enough to put this as my runner up for AOTY? No, not at all, I’m not that retarded. 91 Days earned its way here from the very moment it started to the end of it’s climax. It’s easily one of the best revenge tales ever told, one of the most thrilling and suspenseful anime I’ve watched, and is just all around near-perfect at everything it does absolutely hitting the mark of mixing the top mobster movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas entire atmosphere with the suspense of something like Donnie Brasco which tells the (completely true) story of an undercover agent deep in the mob for years always inches from being caught or slipping too far into his role and truly becoming a genuine mafioso.
In 91 Days we watch a very similar scenario unfold, with a guy who watched his family be murdered by some gangsters to infiltrating their family and rising up quickly in the ranks to the point of befriending the don’s son even all with the aim of murdering everyone who was involved in the hit on his brother and parents to anyone that would hurt this family as much as possible. He’s ruthless from start to finish to a point that I should have had him at least as a runner-up in the best new male category because he REALLY gets across that rage inside him and ruthless vengeance more than I’ve really seen in much else. It’s also got Fango, so I mean come on. As the relationship between Angelo and Nero becomes closer the show only grows more tense – not only is he closer to being caught but you have to start wondering if he’ll be able to pull the trigger when the time comes, and if he does will he or the viewer be happy about it and feel relief from the years of suffering after surviving the massacre of his family?
Anime Of The Year
My Hero Academia
In probably the least surprising turn of events, My Hero Academia has EASILY taken the spot of Anime of the Year 2016 for me. I fucking love this show and everything about it, I really do, and it’s even earned not just AOTY this year but a spot on my top 10 anime of all time. This is a truly fantastic series that has nothing I can really compare it to. This is not “another typical shounen”, in fact I’d say it’s exactly what shounen and superhero fiction strives to be yet has never even come close to being. This is an emotionally powerful, incredibly exciting, action packed, and very fun story about a man who needs to continue his legacy but is facing his own death, and a child who wants nothing more than to be a hero yet lacks everything but the willpower to do so. Not only that, but it’s unbelievably inspirational and motivational and is something that I think works as amazing for adults and would be a great thing for kids to see and learn from. This is a must-see for all ages and despite looking a way that’d make you assume and judge it without trying it, you can’t do that with this one or you’ll be missing out on one of the best things made in the medium to-date.
Anyway, everything about this show is just fucking perfection. Every music track and it’s use. Every voice actor and the character they’re assigned to. Every character period and their designs and personalities – which not only are there a LOT of characters, all of them have detailed personalities and fun quirks (pun semi-intentional) to them instead of just kind of being an archetype or existing in general. The art is really nice and it’s animated super well every step of the way. INCREDIBLE action sequences, really some of the best I’ve ever seen. The rivalry in this is fucking fantastic as well and feels genuine, not only that but the relationship between Deku and not-Accelerator is fantastic and really develops through that rivalry filled with hate on one end and complete admiration on the other. And I’ve said it a lot of times since the show first started airing but I really mean it when I say every single episode of this show had at least one moment that was just incredibly powerful and memorable. That isn’t to say the rest of the time of the episodes wasn’t fantastic, just that they always went well above and beyond the “fucking great” every episode was straight into pure goddamn amazing at least one time every 24 minutes – you might even say they went…
POSTED AND BARELY-FINISHED AT EXACTLY 11:59 12/31/2016
I DID IT.