Let’s face it, 2016 was a bad year in general. But one good thing that came out of the year was the great anime I watched. Definitely a record year (for me at least) in terms of the number of shows I saw in one year.
So now in the order of when I started them, here are all of the anime I watched in 2016 and my thoughts on them.
(Also, I’m going off of my personal MyAnimeList, so they’re broken up by season. Small spoilers may be present.)
Part of me watched this because the studio that made Free and Beyond the Boundary made it, but I also watched it because (to this day) I still see an occasional GIF from it (usually this one). Hyouka seems like a simple slice-of-life anime, but the arcs that each contain their own mystery are what make this show unique. Plus, I always love the character designs, backgrounds, and animation by Kyoto Animation. My favorite arc of this show was the short-film killer plot hole.
I watched Starmyu when I was catsitting and very sick. I was cooped up in that apartment coughing non-stop and tried to stay inside as much as possible. Luckily, this cute little idol anime help me get through it. In the long-run, I enjoyed this anime mostly due to its character development, but it suffered with low-budget animation, a forgettable plot, and okay songs.
Would I watch a second season? I would. Are we getting a second season? Who knows.
Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End)
Ah, what I call “the vampire anime.” (For the record, Guren in the GIF above is not a vampire.) Again, saw a ton of GIFs from this show on Tumblr, and I got curious. I’m glad I did, because this was one of the best action anime I watched during the year (though I didn’t watch many action series). I’m always down for a little dystopia, and I think this series did a good job balancing the aspects of fantasy and technology. I think this show’s strengths were its characters and their designs. The plot did take a while to get going, but the way the first season ended was unforgettable and threw me right into the next…
Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen (Seraph of the End, Season 2)
No time for another series in-between these two seasons. The build-up of season one was definitely worth it as this second season was packed with action, plot twists, and character development. Another anime that successfully did this for me was Code Geass, and I can even say the last two Harry Potter films had a similar build-up. Most memorable moment from this season? When Guren almost died for Shinya. If you saw the show, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Also, Shinya’s seiyuu also voiced Makoto Tachibana from Free. Very important.
Oh Haikyuu, the volleyball anime. Again, I saw tons of Tumblr posts from this show, but I was hesitant to jump into another sports anime. I loved Free because its focus was more-so friendship over the technicalities of swimming. I then tried Kuroko no Basket and ended up stopping. I was really hesitant to start Haikyuu because it also seemed technical and had tons of characters. But my friends insisted, and I’m sure glad they did. Definitely a series I will be re-blogging fan art and ships of for years to come, just like Free.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Derrel likes to call this series “Unlimited Budget Works” because when you watch the stunning animation done in its action sequences, you’ll definitely agree that the studio had a considerably large budget to work with. But special effects and beautiful animation aren’t the only things that make this remake worth watching. Throw in badass characters, a relatable and likable lead, all tied together with a compelling plot. Sold!
Prince of Stride: Alternative
Time for another sports anime: the “running anime” or the “parkour anime.” The overall design of this show seemed interesting enough, and when I started the show I thought it had a lot of potential. I even blogged about it. But as the season continued on, the overall plot arc was just… okay. I really liked the visual aesthetic, the concept of stride (the made up sport the show revolved around), and even the characters. But I feel like the plot was so cliché.
However, one of the best things to come from this anime was its music. I still have Galaxy Standard songs on my playlist today! (Illuminati confirmed)
Haikyuu!! Second Season
Half of season two of everyone’s favorite volleyball dorks was already released by the time I started, but then I quickly caught up. Any doubts that the second season wouldn’t be as great as the first was quickly debunked – this anime was clearly on an upward swing with each episode. The incredibly tense rivalry and match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai made me watch each episode intensely. Oikawa may be a jerk at times, but so is Kageyama. Then you find yourself asking… which team am I actually rooting for?
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season
My memories of this anime pretty much merged the two seasons together since it was consistently epic. Gilgamesh was one heck of a villain that seemed impossible to defeat. Then there was Archer’s big reveal… which I had a theory about, but didn’t think it was actually a thing. Yeah, watch this show.
And my award for best comedy anime of the year goes to this dumb show. Yes, this is the anime with Obama in it and the one that got into copyright trouble with its first episode. Now, Osomatsu-san was usually incredibly stupid, but it was also smart, funny, self-aware, mature, dark, likable, and contemporary. The studio did a great job bringing this series back to the present, and defining each sextuplet as a character.
My favorite character? Ichimatsu. He’s obsessed with cats (like me) and usually has a “whatever” attitude toward any of the insanity happening around him.
Best skit? Sutabaa (the Starbucks parody, above). Close second? When Ichi tried on Kara’s clothes. And my brother and I now have a yearly tradition to watch the Christmas special.
Probably the weirdest anime I watched in 2016. Well, Osomatsu-san was intentionally weird, but Super Lovers tried to make a different weird… normal (if that even makes sense). But I still finished it, so there’s that!
But once you get over the strangeness of this “brotherly love,” this anime had its little moments. The characters were entertaining enough, but when I finished the season I was literally asking myself what I had just watched. Will I watch the second season though? Probably.
High☆Speed!: Free! Starting Days (The Free! Movie)
When it comes to anime I get hooked to, I first get sucked in and either marathon episodes or watch them as they’re released, but when it comes to anime movies I always procrastinate on them. I guess I just like watching my series in smaller chunks, and a full-length movie is sometimes just too inconvenient, since I watch anime mostly on the train and sometimes need time to nap.
So basically, it took me forever to finally watch the Free movie, but when I finally did, I was still not ready. As a member of Team #MakoHaru, I was not prepared for the amount of confirmation this movie had for my OTP. I was concerned that the “new” characters were going to be annoying or unlikable, but I was fortunately wrong. Kyoani’s good at proving me wrong – they did the same with Momo for me, as the dorky otter became one of my favorite characters.
But this movie was the prequel we didn’t know we needed. Adorable in its own right. However, the two seasons of the regular series do outshine it.
(Watched dubbed) I loved season one of Psycho-Pass, then thought the second season was also good, but not as good as the second season. While the second season certainly was still dark and had its signature twists, smart script, and disturbing moments, it just wasn’t the same without Kogami. And what do you know, (spoiler) Kogami comes back in the movie. Similar to Free‘s movie, I think the series outshines this movie, but it does decently as a stand-alone.
Princess Mononoke (Yes, the movie)
(Watched dubbed) No movie was more overdue for me than this Studio Ghibli classic. Before I even got into anime, I was actually supposed to watch this with my college friends. But then my dad called and I had to talk to him about taxes. Fun times. So my friends finished the movie as I sat in the hall balancing my laptop on my lap.
But later, in-between regular series I was watching, I took a break and finally watched this movie over two work commutes. I finally saw why this was a classic. It was interesting to watch a much darker Ghibli film, since the most recent ones I had watched were Spirited Away, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. The animation and storytelling that this studio has produced will always fascinate me.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
I would like to award Re:Zero with an award for best fantasy plot I’ve seen in an anime in a while. My friend Kristen simply said “Watch Re:Zero. It’s SO GOOD. The idea is every time he dies, he restarts at a checkpoint but doesn’t lose his memories.” And so Subaru leaves the convenience store and blinks his way into a fantasy land. (I’m still amazed that how well he handled it in the beginning.) But this is no Magic Kingdom – this kid dies a lot.
Honestly, this anime kept things so real and it gripped my attention and made me dread the week-long wait for the next episode. I was constantly trying to guess who the killer was and piece together anything about the Witch.
Then there was the Witch’s Cult. I have never felt so angry and depressed after an episode of an anime in my life.
Then there was this scene. That was really heavy.
Luckily, Kristen told me the story got better from then on (cue the White Whale), and luckily she was right and I finished up the season. Great series – highly recommended. I think most anime fans would like and appreciate this series. Now the question is whether or not we’re going to get a second season…
Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! LOVE! (Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! Season 2)
Ah the “Magical Boy” anime. Fun fact: Type in “magical boy anime” in Google and this show will appear. I honestly have no clue how I found myself watching the first season (probably Tumblr), but obviously I had to watch the second season. Again, with a second season I had my doubts, and these new Beppu twins had me skeptical. Luckily, I found myself liking the twins as the show’s villains even more than the Student Council. And humor got even more ridiculous, which was perfect for this show. Key takeaway: I want to have a “Chri-pa” with my friends one year.
Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara (Food Wars! Season 2)
Food Wars sucked me in with its crazy first episode during its first season, and Soma-kun’s come a long way since. Just like season three of Haikyuu, Shokugeki season two focuses solely on one tournament. But as you watch, you realize how important this was for the sake of pacing, and it works out well. So as I was watching, I basically want to eat everything that was made during the competition.
And can we talk about this moment? Lol.
Now, I had technically started “Magical Boy” and Shokugeki after I started Re:Zero, but Cheer Danshi played a part too. Basically, those two series already had ended while I was still pressing on with Re:Zero, and boy were things getting depressing. I scoured through MAL to find a simple, uplifting anime to lift my spirits after those heavy Re episodes, and what I found was the “boys cheerleading” anime. It’s technically a sports anime, so why not?
This anime was cute, but like Starmyu, I think it suffered in the animation department with a low budget. Oh jeez, and the soundtrack really suffered too. But like Starmyu, the characters and their simple, inspiring determination kept me watching (and happy).
Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus (Black Butler: Season 3)
(Watched dubbed) Black Butler holds a special place in my heart. It was my second anime ever (after Ouran), so I watched the first two seasons back in the summer of 2013. It’s strange that I took so long to watch this new season; maybe I made up an excuse to wait until the dub came out or something.
At any rate, this new season lived up to the hype. It was dark, funny, mysterious, brilliantly themed, well-paced, and had a twisted and tragic ending. And wow I loved all of the new characters. I’m glad I was watching Cheer Danshi simultaneously because it would cheer me up after being depressed from an episode of this. Worth it though.
Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East)
I think I saw a GIF of “the naked dude in Washington D.C.” and found myself asking “What the heck is this anime about?!” Then some time past and I stumbled across it again in a blog post. The author said it was an older series that more people should definitely check out, and its “fix Japan with money you can spend anything on” concept and “Careless Monday” past seemed really intriguing. Characters were likable enough, and Takizawa’s mysterious ties to the plot kept me watching for answers.
Higashi no Eden Movie I & II: The King of Eden & Paradise Lost
These are the two films that came after the anime series, and unfortunately they were just okay. The two things we wanted were basically answers and closure. These two movies gave us a little of both, but did the first movie have to be so dragged out? Sadly, the build-up this time did not benefit the lackluster wrap up of the final movie. Still, I enjoyed the series, its characters, and overall concept, but the plot just started getting fuzzy and all over the place once the movies came along. Eh, Noblesse Oblige.
Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou VS Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou (Season 3)
Like I mentioned with Food Wars, season three of Haikyuu is all about one single tournament. But this is nothing to complain about since it paces things out well and there’s so much happening and building up with each episode. It’s amazing how far Karasuno has come and how close this match was. I’m struggling to put into words all of the emotion and feelings I experienced while watching this season. But I will say this: Satori creeped me out and got on my nerves a zillion times, but it all was necessary.
Oh boy, another idol anime. But interestingly, this one’s based off of a popular video game. While DreamFes was easily (unfortunately) overshadowed by Yuri on Ice, it exceeded my expectations. It had everything I wanted from Starmyu – a higher budget, better music, and a more believable story. I actually teared up when (spoiler) DearDream performed their song at the festival for the finale. They came so far!
While not the biggest degree of character development compared to many other anime, this show definitely blew away my expectations. It was pretty funny and highly entertaining, and the characters were all great and well-rounded. They all had their own set of problems, insecurities, and difficult life decisions to make. I was worried that we wouldn’t get a second season since the fandom seemed small, but luckily we’re getting another. Can’t wait!
Yuri!!! on ICE
Just as the year was starting to take a turn for the worst (read U.S. election), this anime saved us all. By now, you’ve probably caught on that I usually start anime after either receiving a recommendation from a friend or seeing it get popular on Tumblr. This time, I actually started the series when it started, and Yuri on Ice was a great anime to be on for the whole ride. I started this anime just because “Hey look, another sports anime and oooh, it’s about figure skating!” I had no idea a new ultimate pairing, an angsty son, and beautifully choreographed animation were coming. Bravo!
Colors. Amazing hair. Dazzling nails. All dudes btw… in prison. And the prison sparkles. That’s Nanbaka for you.
I guess you can add this series to my comedy anime roster along with Osomatsu-san and “Magical Boy.” If randomness and gags done by highly likable characters are your thing, you’ll enjoy Nanbaka. There is a plot, a rather serious one too, but some episodes don’t touch on it at all. In fact, it’s really easy to forget about Jyugo’s quest to defeat the man with the scar, but when it does come up things quickly get serious. But I think Nanbaka shines most (literally and figuratively) in its art style and dorky moments. I just love these four guys and want them to live happily ever after… even if they stay in prison.
And that’s it! I’m starting off 2017 watching the second season of Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen), continuing with Nanbaka, and catching up with Fairy Tail (the 2009-2013 series).
What were your favorite anime from 2016? Write me a comment below or tweet me~!
For more otaku things: @mikeyddesu / my MAL / more blogs
Additional image credit: Production I.G