As the year draws to a close, so too does another year of anime. If you, like me, have been unable to keep up with most of the most popular anime of the year then you’ve likely missed a few of the truly great ones. Today I have compiled a non-exhaustive, personalised list of my 5 favourite anime of this year.
Dragon Ball Super
Dragon Ball Super didn’t start this year so I’m not actually putting it on the list, but I’ll give it a small mention anyway. This series had one hell of a rocky start but it is in this year that the series actually got good. The Universe 6 Tournament was good but it really got good with the Future Trunks arc. It reintroduced Future Trunks, it tackles a type of villain that we haven’t seen in Dragon Ball before and we even get to see fusion again. I can’t say much more as I’ll end up spoiling some things that make the plot interesting in the early portions.
If you hadn’t heard of this series it is a continuation of the 90s anime Berserk, an adaptation of the manga of the same name. It was a great series for the most part it had its issue but I loved it nonetheless. This series debuted this year to less than critical acclaim. I’m fully aware of the controversy surrounding this series and I agree with a lot of it. The CG is choppy and awkward. It mixes the 3D CG with 2D drawings which by the way are drawn in a weird style that doesn’t gel well remotely. There are camera issues and it’s weirdly paced for the first couple of episodes, jumping from place to place not allowing for us to fully grasp what is going on for a lot of the time.
But for all of that, I actually liked the series towards the end. I was never in a huge rush to watch it but I feel that the second half of the “Tower of Conviction Arc” picked up tremendously, with the action making sense and being cohesive. It’s by no means great or even especially good but it’s definitely watchable. I am admittedly biased as Berserk is one of my favourite manga series of all time but if you are trying to catch up on Berserk as fast as you possible can or don’t like the idea of reading a manga, then the 2016 Berserk is the way to go for you.
If you haven’t seen Haikyuu, it’s one of the best team-based sports anime around. It’s about Karasuno’s high school volleyball team. It has comedy galore and it’s mostly action. It’s good from the get go but season 2 is the high point. I’m aware Haikyuu didn’t start this year. But the 3rd season did. It doesn’t do much remarkably new as opposed to the previous 2 seasons but it does continue what it was doing and gives more characters development some of which needed it, most notably Tsukishima and Daichi.
The 3rd season is the one match against Shiratorizawa who we were introduced to at the end season 2. The characters remain fun, interesting and diverse. Tanaka and Nishinoya are great as always and recently we’ve seen even more comedy created by Shimizu. The season is only 10 episodes long so it’s suitable for binge too.
3. Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma
Another series that didn’t start this year, but food wars is one of the best new Shonen anime/manga coming out in this new era. It’s a high stakes cooking show about students who can make food so good it will change your life. Food Wars has garnered a somewhat infamous reputation for it’s fan-service. The way I often describe it as if Food-Porn, Soft-core-Porn and a Shonen Battle manga had a kid.
The second season starts exactly from where the first end so you’ll definitely need too see the first season. The transition is actually kind of jarring. The first episode is really rushed but the rest of the series is pretty good, it’s pacing is solid and on track giving enough time for the build up before the fights and enough during them. Admittedly though towards the end it fits in a small arc after the tournament in an attempt to get a satisfying conclusion for the season to conclude on, and it is satisfying it is just that the 3 episodes before it rush through a small bit in attempt to reach this point.
2. My Hero Academia
Shonen Jump is changing. Big time. Many series have been cancelled or ended and in a time where the magazine’s future is unsure. My Hero Academia stands firm rooting itself in showing that it is the herald of the new age of Shonen Jump. During spring of this year, My Hero Academia started its first anime season and it was a smash hit. If you like Shonen or action, My Hero Academia is the place to go. If you’re only going to watch one of these because of time constraints, watch this one. You get a great amount of bang for your buck in this short 13-episode series. Action, comedy, story, great characters. This is personally one of my favourite shows of all time.
1. Mob Pyscho 100
In a time where more and more anime and media in general are coming out sifting through the sea of mediocrity can be a daunting task. Even when series are good, the often rely on clichés or other such tropes. My Hero Academia does this a lot but is one of the few series to use it to its advantage, but every now and then a brand-new series comes along that is both able to be a subversion and an example of the best of that genre. Mob Pyscho 100 is that series. Created by manga author ONE of One-Punch Man fame. It tells the story of Shigeo Kageyama a 14-year-old middle school student with psychic abilities. I won’t go into too much detail about this series as I intend to do a full review of it soon but just know that Mob Pyscho 100 is the most unique series this year.
It at once balances Shone tropes while simultaneously subverting and parodying it. It’s a much more traditional story in comparison to its predecessor but it’s also extremely unique in it’s themes. The biggest example of this is in one of its central themes. Most shonen focus on an underpowered hero getting stronger whereas this is the opposite. Mob views his powers as a burden, and his master Reigan speaks of how having powers makes you no different from having anyone else with any other talent. Admittedly the series can be predictable at times and is occasionally too off-the-walls for it’s own good. Not only that but ONE’s often “janky” art-style serves as a huge barrier to entry for many but if you can look past those gripes you’ll find a story with an interesting protagonist and great plot.
That’s all I have for today, but not all I have. If you’re interested in stuff like this, I’ll have full review of Mob Psycho 100 out soon enough and there’s plenty of anime and video game content here on organisednonsense.com