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Year End Wrap-Up: The Best Anime Series of 2016

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Anime Reviews Reviews
2016-wrap-up

2016 saw a lot of remakes, sequels, adaptations, and memes. We saw some goods and some… admittedly, really bads. But finally, we’ve reached the end of it all, so as usual, we’re back for another annual wrap-up of the year’s best anime!

If your favourite didn’t make the cut, leave us a comment below; maybe we’re missing out on a gem!


MUST-WATCH SERIES

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi

Summary: When tragedy is about to strike, Satoru Fujinuma finds himself sent back several minutes before the accident occurs. The detached, 29-year-old manga artist has taken advantage of this powerful yet mysterious phenomenon, which he calls “Revival,” to save many lives.

However, when he is wrongfully accused of murdering someone close to him, Satoru is sent back to the past once again, but this time to 1988, 18 years in the past. Soon, he realizes that the murder may be connected to the abduction and killing of one of his classmates, the solitary and mysterious Kayo Hinazuki, that took place when he was a child. This is his chance to make things right.

Comments: Possibly the most beautiful anime this year, BokuMachi is solid proof that A-1 Pictures can produce anything with the right budget; even create an anime that is basically a movie split into 12 episodes. I’m a sucker for mystery dramas so I finished watching this in one seating, with no regrets. The pacing, characters, audio… every aspect was satisfactory if not brilliant. The only flaw lies in its too-convenient ending, although I think it’s easily overlooked unless you’re really picky.

 

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Boku no Hero Academia

Summary: The appearance of “quirks,” newly discovered super powers, has been steadily increasing over the years, with 80 percent of humanity possessing various abilities from manipulation of elements to shapeshifting. This leaves the remainder of the world completely powerless, and Izuku Midoriya is one such individual.

Since he was a child, the ambitious middle schooler has wanted nothing more than to be a hero. Izuku’s unfair fate leaves him admiring heroes and taking notes on them whenever he can. But it seems that his persistence has borne some fruit: Izuku meets the number one hero and his personal idol, All Might!

Comments: If you’re ever feeling in a bad mood, BnHA can be your #1 mood enhancer. It’s such a cheerful, positive story with cheerful, positive characters. Even though it’s story may seem kind of predictable at first, it may turn out to be more unique and hilarious than you think. Personally, I think the endearing role Midoriya Izuku plays as the main character also contributes to this series’ success. You can’t help but want to cheer him on!

 

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ORANGE 

Summary: One day, Naho Takamiya receives a letter written to herself from ten years in the future. As Naho reads on, the letter recites the exact events of the day, including the transfer of a new student into her class named Kakeru Naruse.

The Naho from ten years later repeatedly states that she has many regrets, and she wants to fix these by making sure the Naho from the past can make the right decisions—especially regarding Kakeru. What’s more shocking is that she discovers that ten years later, Kakeru will no longer be with them. Future Naho asks her to watch over him closely.

Comments: Probably the saddest anime this year – not to mention, one of the saddest mangas in the history of everything – ORANGE easily lands a spot among the must-watch for 2016. Even though there have been complaints about some of its more “supernatural” elements, its flaws are easily forgettable in favour of its brilliant visuals, touching character developments, and general story telling. Definitely something I would recommend to any anime fan, new or old.

 

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Mob Psycho 100

Summary: Kageyama Shigeo (a.k.a. “Mob”) is a 8th grader with psychic abilities. He could bend spoons and lift objects with his mind from a young age, but he slowly began to withhold from using his abilities in public due to the negative attention he kept receiving. Now, the only thing he wants is to become friends with a girl in his class, Tsubomi. With his psychic “mentor” (who has no psychic powers), he continues his daily life, attempting to realize his purpose in life.

Comments: This story came from the same person who wrote last year’s hit One Punch Man, so obviously there was a lot of hype for this show, but I wouldn’t compare the two if I were you. Mob Psycho 100 is definitely a piece of art on its own. Behind its simple story line hides a dynamic, hilarious and often meaningful tale about a young psychic. It revels in its simplicity and linear story telling, much like OPM did. Although it differs in its unique art style, which may not suit the common tastes.


CONTROVERSIAL PICKS

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Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Summary: The world is in the midst of the industrial revolution when horrific creatures emerge from a mysterious virus, ripping through the flesh of humans to sate their never-ending appetite. The only way to kill these beings, known as “Kabane,” is by destroying their steel-coated hearts. However, if bitten by one of these monsters, the victim is doomed to a fate worse than death, as the fallen rise once more to join the ranks of their fellow undead.

Only the most fortified of civilizations have survived this turmoil, as is the case with the island of Hinomoto, where mankind has created a massive wall to protect themselves from the endless hordes of Kabane. The only way into these giant fortresses is via heavily-armored trains, which are serviced and built by young men such as Ikoma. Having created a deadly weapon that he believes will easily pierce through the hearts of Kabane, Ikoma eagerly awaits the day when he will be able to fight using his new invention.

Comments: KnK was really frickin’ cool when I first saw it, I swear! But don’t take it from me, take it from the many people who will gladly tell you it had an overused plot, bland villians, and honestly, was nothing but a Shingeki no Kyojin steam punk rip-off. And yet, loads of people still enjoyed it. I would recommend watching it if you’re new to this genre and/or not particularly picky about your anime. I got a feeling it’s only “trash” if you’re a seasoned anime viewer.

 

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Yuri!!! On Ice

Summary: Reeling from his crushing defeat at the Grand Prix Finale, Yuuri Katsuki, once Japan’s most promising figure skater, returns to his family home to assess his options for the future. At age 23, Yuuri’s window for success in skating is closing rapidly, and his love of pork cutlets and aptitude for gaining weight are not helping either.

However, Yuuri finds himself in the spotlight when a video of him performing a routine previously executed by five-time world champion, Victor Nikiforov, suddenly goes viral. In fact, Victor himself abruptly appears at Yuuri’s house and offers to be his mentor. As one of his biggest fans, Yuuri eagerly accepts, kicking off his journey to make it back onto the world stage. But the competition is fierce, as the rising star from Russia, Yuri Plisetsky, is relentlessly determined to defeat Yuuri and win back Victor’s tutelage.

Comments: If I had my way with this, I would have put this into the Must Watch section of the post. But for the benefit of those of us who don’t enjoy same-sex romance stories, I’m putting it here instead. YOI will probably find its downfall in viewers who find it “too gay to watch”, but if you can close one eye, it scores well in almost every other department. It is funny, inspirational, and infectiously cheerful; giving enough attention to the sport while building up character relationships on the side. Definitely the best sports anime this year, next to Haikyuu!!

 

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Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

Summary: When Subaru Natsuki leaves the convenience store, the last thing he expects is to be wrenched from his everyday life and dropped into a fantasy world. Things aren’t looking good for the bewildered teenager, however: not long after his arrival, he is attacked by some thugs. Fortunately, a mysterious beauty named Satella, in hot pursuit after the one who stole her insignia, happens upon Subaru and saves him. In order to thank the honest and kindhearted girl, Subaru offers to help in her search, and later that night, he even finds the whereabouts of that which she seeks.

But unbeknownst to them, a much darker force stalks the pair from the shadows, and just minutes after locating the insignia, Subaru and Satella are brutally murdered. However, Subaru immediately reawakens to a familiar scene—confronted by the same group of thugs, meeting Satella all over again—the enigma deepens as history inexplicably repeats itself.

Comments: If there’s anything Re:Zero should win an award for, it’s for Most Intense Waifu Battle of 2016. And unfortunately, that about sums up what everyone can agree on. From what I’ve heard of it, it is either (1) the best anime of the year, you will cry buckets watching it, or (2) worst anime ever and proof that the anime industry is going down. If you’re not picky and enjoy watching things for its entertainment value, I suggest you give it a shot. If you have higher standards than that, then maybe not.

 

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Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku

Summary: A social game called The Magical Girl Raising Project allows one in tens of thousands of people to be a “magical girl” — possessing extraordinary physical capabilities and looks, as well as special magical powers that set them apart from the rest of the human race. But one day, in a district containing 16 magical girls, the administration announces that it must halve the number of magical girls to solve the problem of magical energy. At first, the 16 magical girls race to collect more “magical candy” than their competitors, but the rules quickly become twisted, and it quickly becomes a murderous battle for survival among them.

Comments: It’s been too many years since Madoka Magica, and understandably, everyone is thirsty for a successor. Now with this “Hunger Games”-style magical girl anime, it seems like we’ve finally found it. This series is a dramatic thriller filled with action and gore, with good enough pacing and story to keep people entertained. And yet, it hasn’t gotten much attention. Even though most components of the anime seem solid, I wouldn’t call it outstanding or a must-recommend type of series. Definitely a niche pick exclusive for fans of these genres.


NOTABLE MENTIONS

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Sakamoto desu ga?

Summary: Sophisticated, suave, sublime; all words which describe the exceedingly handsome and patently perfect Sakamoto. Though it is only his first day in high school, his attractiveness, intelligence, and charm already has the girls swooning and the guys fuming with jealousy. No one seems able to derail him, as all attempts at tripping him up are quickly foiled. His sangfroid is indomitable, his wits peerless. Will any of Sakamoto’s classmates, or even teachers, be able to reach his level of excellence? Probably not, but they just might learn a thing or two trying…

Comments: “Who.. are you?” “Haven’t you heard? I’m Sakamoto.” Just like how last year’s Himouto Umaru-chan became the most popular 4-koma adaptation, this year it’s Sakamoto‘s turn. Since it is a gag series, there is little to say about this series. It is funny, a good time-waster, and good to watch after a long, stressful day. Among all the other 4-koma adaptations this year, we recommend this one the most.

 

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Watashi ga Motete Dousunda

Summary: Kae Serinuma is a second year high schooler and an avid fujoshi who secretly ships her classmates, Igarashi-kun and Nanashima-kun. The death of her favorite anime character causes her to become stressed—and loses weight rapidly. Now that Serinuma has become an attractive girl to her classmates, her snarky kouhai Shinomiya-kun, and her senpai Mutsumi, how is she going to deal with them …with her constant BL-filled, fujoshi mind?!

Comments: Did you know that this story was originally authored by famous yaoi manga artist, Junko? I guess that explains the fujoshi main character, haha. Contrary to the all the yaoi talk in the show, however, the series is a full on reverse harem. In many ways, it’s a very cliche take on the genre, but its unique concept keeps it interesting. If you’re into watching something light-hearted from this year, this would be a good choice.

 

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Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal.

Summary: Usagi Tsukino is still struggling to balance her home life with the duties of being Sailor Moon, the guardian of love and justice. Along with the other Sailor Guardians and her boyfriend Mamoru Chiba, they begin investigating cases of students from Mugen Academy, a school for the most elite students, who are being transformed into monsters. During the investigation, they meet three strange individuals: Haruka Tenou, a handsome racecar driver; Michiru Kaiou, a talented violinist; and Hotaru Tomoe, a mysterious girl with a weak constitution.

As more incidents occur, the Sailor Guardians are met with another surprise—the appearance of two new planetary protectors with motives of their own. Despite the newcomers’ questionable allegiance to Usagi and her comrades, they all face a threat from a common enemy: an evil entity who calls himself Pharaoh 90.

Comments: The third season to this series aired this year and it was received with as much love and adoration from fans as all the previous ones did. Okay, maybe not “as much“. There are points that fans love and those that they don’t really love; most episodes are still rife with minor problems. But ultimately, with how drastically the quality of art has improved, there is no better time to pick up this classic series than now. At least after that you’ll be able to say, “Yeah, I’ve watched Sailor Moon before!”

 

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Pokémon Sun & Moon

Summary: Satoshi and his Pikachu head off to a new region, Alola, wearing a new set of clothes. He receives a Z-Ring and becomes a student at a school.

Comments: Of course, with Pokémon Sun & Moon released this year, we have to mention its anime adaptation! There are a lot of people criticising the change in art style, but Pokémon is Pokémon, man. ‘Nuff said.

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