I’ll have to give this same disclaimer on the AOTY post too, but to be honest this year was really rough on me because I’ve attempted, stupidly, to put myself in social situations again for the first time in nearly a decade – even if only online plus I’m stuck living in a shitty place again instead of my condo (well, obviously that was shittier or I’d still be in it). It hasn’t really worked out, and so my head has been in shambles and so I have not really been able to even handle watching much anime – even things I really liked or wanted to try out, I just couldn’t manage it, so these end of the year posts will maybe be lacking and missing things that should probably be in them. I’ll do my best with what I did see. This also means I’m not gonna make a specific disappointment post – though I included a bit of disappointments and worsts here too!
However, to make up for it, I’ve made sure to fit a lot of categories in and talk about them all a bit more than I usually would to make up for my lack of talking about anime throughout the year. I’ve also got ideas (though no promises) on at least a couple “of the decade” type posts since that is kind of a rare thing to get to do. Maybe they won’t come out in time but I’d still like to make them either way.
Even with my limited experiences with anime this year, this was pretty difficult. There were two old but very dear to me girls brought back this year, and plenty of cute new ones too, but it’s hard to beat these two for me.
The two I had maybe one of the hardest times I have had in awhile picking a best girl though are Boogiepop and Chihaya. I’ve loved Boogiepop (the franchise AND the character) since the first anime adaptation back in 2000 and since then have read all the translated books, own all the versions of Boogiepop Phantom DVD releases, a bunch of the rare pieces of merch that got made, and the artist’s art book dedicated to Boogiepop work he’s done. The character of Boogiepop though was always what really drew me to it. She’s cool, mysterious, has a split personality with both personalities being adorable including one being a bokuko, has a great outfit (sadly the new series did not go with the galaxy-inside-cape), and is just cute as hell in every way. Boogiepop is seriously one of my very favorite characters in all fiction for so many reasons and she FINALLY came back to anime and in spectacular fashion and at her VERY cutest.
But, she came back the same year Chihayafuru’s third season finally came out too. Chihaya is also a very strong personal favorite girl of mine as is the Chihayafuru series, in fact it’s been in my top 10 since season 1. She’s super cute looking, has the most adorable personality possible, loves Daddy Bear, is unbelievably talented, and has this great drive and spirit to her. Her growth over the course of the series has also been so well done both as a person and as a Karuta player, it’s so naturally done and adds a lot to the show and to her personally. Even in the new season she continues to evolve and mature.
In the end, I had to go with the long personal favorite, good ol Boogiewoogie. Not only has it been far too long since she’s been animated and voiced, but this rendition of her was by far the cutest she’s ever been. She has so much personality and is so unbelievably fucking smug and cocky, but also spares the time for girl talk with Touka Miyashita’s friends about cute boys in the middle of dealing with this building trying to kill them all. The show really is what deserves the most credit for this though along with the seiyuu, she is just handled so fucking perfectly and was provided so many great moments to shine.
But really, Boogiepop shines all on her own plenty too; I mean there is literally a point where she goes out of her way to go all this way to a building she wasn’t even near and has no reason to be at just to tell someone they’re going to hell as they’re already dying when she gets there, and she leaves. And that’s all she does. She just came to shit talk a dying person, do her smug grin at them, and then go home. I love her, she’s great because she’s kind of an asshole and is totally self aware about it.
Best NEW Girl
Boogiepop and Chihaya are from things that already were or have consistently been being adapted, so I felt there should be a sort of follow-up category for best girl that was only in something this year.
Mairimashita! Iruma-kun – Clara Valac
From her adorable hyperactive squishy personality to her adorable squishy smiling pockets that can be bopped to create anything, Clara Valac is just supremely cute, sweet, and hilarious at all times all with only 3% sexuality. She is a perfectly made comedy show cutie and every moment with her is tons of fun and she always looks (and, really, always is) retarded.
VERY CLOSE Runner-up: Nezuko / Demon Slayer – I absolutely adore this little cutie and the fact they actually let her help in fights and grow as a character alongside Tanjiro made the show so much better and her character way better too…and then they just kept forgetting she existed and she did jack shit but create stupid plot moments by existing once the turbo-generic shounen good guy bosses showed up and hated her. For that reason alone, she did not win this category.
There were a lot of cute anime moms this year, even a show dedicated to MILFs in an MMO trying to fuck their sons or some shit. However, that show was kinda shitty and the mom was very one-note even though she was constantly there, so Mamako does not get this – though she was considered.
Fire Force Mom
No, instead, it goes to a woman we’ve barely seen at all but has so much personality, cuteness, and a strong love for her children. Well she had, she’s dead now. She has no name though, so I went with what I did. Really it’s cuz of her shark teeth. Too bad the show is ass.
This was another one I had a bit of difficulty with. I thought about Fire Force’s lead and Demon Slayer’s lead but they’re kind of basic shounen stereotypes. I’d go with All Might or something but he’s done jack shit this season for obvious story reasons, and this ‘season’ has barely had any episodes anyway. I also was considering multiple characters from Vinland Saga like Bjorn or Askeladd. I might also have gone with the wrestler guy from the wrestler isekai. Then there’s Chihayafuru with Taichi, Arata, and Harada all being pretty great.
I forgot AoT 3 Part 2 was this year for a minute there. Erwin is one of my favorite men in anime ever but not entirely due to who he displays himself as, but also for what he really is. Erwin is a leader – but not much more than that. Every strategy and move the characters have taken against Titans in this show has been near entirely thanks to Armin yet the credit always goes to Erwin anyway because he’s such a well known and looked up to commander and he’s smart enough to let this random kid think up most of the plans they use. I like that there’s this aspect to him that is basically faking it to further what is real – his immense skill at motivating the troops and getting them to do anything he commands, and his willpower that shines through to each and every soldier beneath him. He’s a fantastic leader and speech giver, and he’s skilled enough at strategy to notice better plans than his own and humble enough to take those ideas and use them instead of being hotheaded and full of himself or obsessed with his pride to the point of not listening to someone just because he’s superior to them and older by decades. He’s also a conspiracy theorist who was right about everything and knows (((they))) are responsible for everything, deals with the guilt of every single person who has died as a result of his orders, and his name is fucking Erwin which is a cool ass name and he has some of the most emotional scenes in the series. And learning his entire motivation for everything is admittedly nothing but a selfish obsession about finding out the truth about (((them))) instead of being this heroic guy also helped make him an even deeper less infallible character.
Best NEW Male
Askeladd / Vinland Saga
I’ve always really appreciated this character since back when I read up to the farming-for-years portion of Vinland Saga’s manga. I forgot basically all of it though over all this time but seeing him again reminded me just how well made of a character he is. He fits a typical trope of being the guy who kills the MC’s dad and then ends up basically raising him while being hated the whole time, but he does it as one of the best of that type of character ever. On top of it, he’s a supremely talented strategist, has a strong fiery motivation that when you get glimpses of it when he can’t hide it well enough is really intense, he’s always fucking smug as shit, and he’s got a great psuedo-historical past to him. If they force a western live action version of this show to ever get made I demand Mads Mikkelsen play him.
Fire Force – Inferno / Mrs. GreenApple
Without question the easiest category to pick the winner for. The first Fire Force opening is something I feel will be an all-time classic on par with the original Bleach opening – it’ll be something that will still hold up as one of the best ever even over a decade from now. The song is fucking fantastic, the video accompanying it fits perfectly to the song and the show itself, and it has all the tropes required for a shounen opening and executes them perfectly. This is one of the only times I’ve literally, every single episode, gone back after the OP would finish and rewatch it typically 4 or 5 times and it still hasn’t gotten old. Too bad they replaced it with trash, and I mean legit trash, not just “man this isn’t as good” – it’s just absolute shit. Not to mention, the show is ass.
Runners-up: Araburu, Chihayafuru 3
Kanata no Astra
I was going to put something else here, but instead I made a Biggest Twist category to get to later – however that’d apply here too so I’m cheating a little but not entirely.
Here I didn’t expect anything but a “who is the bad guy with us” mixed with survival, but it was SO MUCH MORE than that. Kanata no Astra is a pretty good show on its own with loads of mystery and a great survival story, but it starts to become more and more of a conspiracy story more than anything else. That wasn’t the reason this was the biggest surprise though, it’s from a twist in the last third of the show which also results in a billion more twists within the same conversation. It’s something you had all the clues for but nothing you could figure out on your own, and the depiction of complete dread, terror, and deep to-the-core confusion is shown so perfectly the moment this girl realizes shit is fucking wrong to the point she looks extremely mad because she’s just so mindfucked by it that her emotional state is completely broken in an instant and her mind and body don’t know how to even react and I really appreciated that.
The whole reveal is such a huge moment not just for the cast, but for the viewer because of just how well its handled, how well it’s animated and voiced, how it’s done as a perfect cliffhanger, and how the next episode it just keeps fucking escalating and presents this world shattering terrifying cosmic horror situation to the characters that also makes you question how it’d be for you to come to these realizations as well. It really does a phenomenal job putting YOU in her shoes, because in a way you have been literally in the same situation she was the entire show up to this point as well, and so you feel just as much shock, confusion, and “holy shit” as she does because the twist is impacting you as much as it is her and was as impossible to see coming and more and more twists keep coming from that point that keep hitting you just as hard. These twists are crazy and the way the show tackles them is fantastic, but instead of best twist I put this as best surprise because the entire show was such an unexpected great thing in that specific aspect with some of the most well handled twists in a long time.
Best Romance / Best Drama / Best Coming of Age
Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo
This show, unsurprisingly being the creation of Mari Okada, really captures both the wonderful feelings and the horrible pains of love, sexuality, and growing up so it gets all 3 of these awards at once. There are a few stupid moments in the penultimate episode, but aside that it was nearly perfect and it has so many scenes and moments that are hugely important yet no other screenwriter could have managed to make meaningful at all. For example, in the first episode the quickly memed moment of the main girl walking in on this boy masturbating – typically this would be seen as a comedic scene or a cringy forced moment. Here? It actually has weight to it, it actually means something, it’s actually a really serious moment that has a huge impact on the girl, on the rest of the story, and isn’t something you see and simply chuckle at because the entire tone and point of the scene getting through perfectly within the context of the show doesn’t make you want to laugh.
Things like this are what Okada excels at and this show just further presents her great ability at it. The show also goes some places that are pretty far even for Japan and anime – like having an underage student not only shove her bare uncovered vagina in her teachers face but also literally gets his dick out of his pants and into her own face, as she’s literally canonically trying to 69 him in a love hotel and he took her there to fuck…and yet again, this isn’t some comedic or ecchi scene, it’s a really big emotional moment of frustration, grief, and fear all brought about by the realities of what she’s going through.
This is just a really fantastic, and while its full of some over the top situations, very ‘real’ look at love’s complications and the powerful emotions both good and bad that love and the mere concept of sex introduce into life.
Super Senko-san Time
While the show disappointed greatly and I didn’t even finish it, the little bits of Super Senko-san Time at the end of every episode were great. Instead of the MC being pampered, you get (mostly) first person pampering from the little cutie herself.
Fire Force – Veil / Keina Suda
Fire Force again! The first ending of Fire Force is a really fantastic way of giving a fleshed out and emotional backstory to the Sister in 90 seconds. It tells her entire story and sets a great tone for the series overall all while just being a music video to end an episode of an anime on. It’s also just a good song and, even after the censoring stuff came into play thanks to KyoAni having a bunch of staff burned alive, the video still had the same impact even with the faces of the burning sisters blacked out. Luckily Funi’s official upload is the uncensored version. Too bad the show is ass.
Runners-up: Yatogame-san, Vinland Saga
Most Awkward Thing
Bird Shit Facial – Magical Senpai
Japan goes a little too far sometimes, and this time they did it by using literal bird shit as a faux-facial cumshot in an ecchi comedy. I didn’t think things would ever get to this point and I don’t want to see them keep going this direction. Anything but literal shit, please.
Houkago Saikoro Kurabu
It’s kinda weird to have this here but I was expecting…you know, board games. Instead it’s an extremely childish style generic slice of life with nothing to it and the ‘board games’ are all just shitty card games nobody has heard of that are only in the episodes for a few minutes and are skipped through. I was expecting a series where we spend time learning and playing these games, instead its just 12 minutes of who-gives-a-fuck Love Live tier storytelling about who-gives-a-fuck characters, 5 minutes of explaining rules, and the rest aside OP and ED being random moments of them actually playing.
This starts off unbelievably great, the intro followed by the OP blows you away and then you end up with this really great series seemingly about these great moments (especially in the following episodes) dealing with morality and saving those who are already lost and some amazing visuals. Then the show quickly stops hiding its generic shounen innards and becomes real goddamn stupid real goddamn fast, maintaining a barely tolerable level of watchability for about 10 episodes. But once that new OP shows up, which is godawful, the show itself also drops to a level that I wasn’t sure if I’d keep watching because of it and shortly after no longer did, I dropped it because it was just so awful. More edgy bland generic tryhard characters straight out of fucking naruto, more shitty vapid shounen story beats, and a complete absolute entire loss of everything the show started out with.
To make it all worse though, they introduced what is undeniably just magic. This is no longer about having fire abilities because of the setting and all that, no, almost everyone just has fucking magical abilities that make absolute no sense outside of something like MHA. It was already really bad when the tanned slut could use fucking heat syncopy to instantly stop you from moving, but now there’s a guy who can “manipulate your blood vessels” which lets him turn your voice and face and body into a 1:1 perfect clone of another human being. With fire. Not magic. No, it’s just fire, totally that’s something fire does – AND THEY USE THIS FOR LIKE 800 “TWISTS”. The writing, characters, and everything continue to drop substantially every episode after about halfway through and completely entirely dissolved of the idea of being, well, firemen mixed with SWAT which is what made it so cool at the start. It’s become a low-tier shounen and completely throws everything that made it unique and awesome away in exchange.
I waited years for this. I fucking loved Danmachi’s first season, it was such a wonderfully crafted character study and coming of age tale about Bell with some of the most powerful moments in anime as a whole scattered throughout it because of Bell’s intense and genuine growth as a person and well made and meaningful fights. Danmachi 2 follows more in line with the awful spinoff that was supposed to be about Wallenwhatsit but ended up about some random cunt elf, this time Bell is the lead again, sure, but…the entire focus is now on retarded battles between adventurers and their leaders. Basically PVP clan war bullshit. Not even well done either, just meaningless, boring, stupid, and then this gay shit about some elf prostitute or something. I dunno, I dropped it. Years of waiting for nothing but shit.
Best Overall OST
Boogiepop & Others
I love this entire OST, it’s perfectly moody and fits the tone of the show at every moment. My favorite has to be the main theme though, I even put it in my VRChat world because I liked it so much.
KARUTA IS A SPORT, DEAL WITH IT.
Aoi Yuuki – Boogiepop
This was a brilliant casting decision and I don’t think anybody in the business could have done a more perfect job as Boogiepop. She played the role more perfectly than i think anyone could possibly have imagined from anybody ever even their imagined up voices when reading the books. She fit so perfectly that she not only portrayed Boogiepop exactly how she needed to, but she gave her such an important extra layer of personality. Like this may be one of my favorite voice acting performances of all time along with Rina Satou in Railgun S on the bridge. It was truly outstanding work and her ability to pull off this masculine bokuko and normal Touka and their very different personalities was unbelievable, let alone her ultimate smugness not just visually but from her manner of speaking, but moreso was the true feeling of Boogiepop’s nature being something you could feel from even just the sound of her voice and the way she spoke. It really was one of the best performances possible not just of the year.
Attack on Titan 3 Part 2
It’s AoT, of course it was the best action series. Not much to say really. I considered Vinland Saga and then remembered there is basically no action in it at all. MHA would have but really the action in AoT this season was insane, over the top, and executed unbelievably well plus had loads of emotion behind it. MHA was kind of just more MHA but also this season has been basically just stolen ideas from Railgun for some reason (half Level Upper, half tv-only arc of S) and lots of repeating the same situation without actually progressing it (lets have 8 meetings about the Yakuza guy who looks 15 and is actually in his 30s!) and that kinda made me not love it as much. But AoT3.5 was fucking incredible in every possible way, including the intense and extremely exciting action sequences. Some of the best stuff ever when it comes to insane crazy giant set pieces.
Attack on Titan 3 Part 2 – 57
I can’t say much of anything without spoiling, well, everything there is to fucking spoil about this convoluted twisting maze of a story – but suffice to say, they finally go to the basement, and it was worth the wait. Things in 3 part 2 even tie back to the very first fucking episode of the entire series, and it covers ground throughout the entire show up to now answering almost every question you could possibly come up with, even ones you just wouldn’t have at all. A wild ride that amazes me how well the author was able to tie these things up so neatly when he CLEARLY had no idea what the fuck he was doing until recently and is now making it up as he goes, yet doing so fucking well at making it all make sense in insane ways regardless.
However, the specific reason this is the best episode relates to one very specific thing that is revealed and discussed in detail in this episode that I won’t say a word about.
Runner-up for irony and truth: Demon Slayer 19 – Has one of the best sequences in the last decade of anime.
Best Insert Song / Best Moment
Demon Slayer Ep. 19 – Kamado Tanjiro no Uta
Ignoring how utterly wasted this entire scene is in the very next episode (which renders all of it meaningless because “haha I just pretended to die LOL”) this was an unbelievably fucking fantastic moment and one of the best ‘moments’ of the year (so I lumped the categories together). The song is fucking beautiful beyond belief, the animation is gorgeous as hell, and the emotions are overflowing in every second of the scene and the song. The show was worth watching for this scene alone.
Runner-up Scenes/Insert Songs: Who’s The Cutest In The World? It’s Clara! – Mairimashita! Iruma-kun. End of ep 1 of Araburu – The Blue Hearts – Train Train
Demon Slayer 20
Undoes everything that the amazing ending of episode 19 brought to the whole series. Absolutely retarded and kinda fucked the show up for me as a whole. One of the most amazing moments in anime in awhile happens as the climax of episode 19…and then 20 just says “no, actually none of that mattered lol”. Absolutely abysmal shit.
Thanks to whatever retards made this image for whatever shitty ‘reaction video’ it undoubtedly belongs to because it is just cringe enough while also getting the point of how shit this episode was mixed together that it was the perfect thing to find for this post.
While it isn’t the best animation overall or best “art style” – the pure aesthetic of Fire Force is fucking amazing and it has some of the best cinematography of the year too (early on, at least). The character designs, mostly the uniforms, and some of the great shots of red from fire and the glowing blue stripes on their outfits really are just too good at times. Too bad the show is ass.
In a season of anime that featured loads of fire ranging from Magical Senpai almost burning her school down, titans setting an already burned down town even more aflame, a kid with a sword that bursts into flames, a huge group of people yelling FIREBOLT!!!! excitedly over and over, and so on – but ESPECIALLY A SHOW LITERALLY ABOUT PEOPLE BURNING TO DEATH IN FIRES – KyoAni happened to have an arsonist come and pour gas all over them and light staff and one of their buildings ablaze. Do I think the fact people got immolated is funny? No, but I do think it’s pretty amusing that the first time anime has so many things dedicated to fire including a show about how horrible it is to burn to death is when this happened. Too bad the show is ass.
And on that somber note, I’ll see you for the AOTY post later in the month.