Another year, another top 10 list. Another year of (almost) nothing else being posted on this blog. Curse you, crippling lack of motivation! Anyway, this is now the second of these posts I've done for anime, and the format remains unchanged from last year. These are the 10 Top Animes That I Think Are Completely Acceptable or Something and require only an airing or Japanese home-media release date in calendar year 2016 to be eligible for this list and they are in no particular order. 行きましょう!

Flying Witch

COMFY

I love me some comfy, slice-of-life shows and Flying Witch is one of the comfiest shows I've ever had the pleasure of watching. Makoto Kowata, our protagonist, is a professional witch in training, and has come, along with her black cat Chito, to Aomori to live with her cousins and study up on whatever it is witches do. A show where every single character is a joy to watch, with standouts being Makoto's adorable young cousin Chinatsu, Makoto's older sister Akane, and Inukai, who got really really drunk and ate some sweets which turn her into a dog during daytime. As well as the great, relaxed moments you'd expect from the slice-of-life genre, the show's comedy is also top-notch, with an impeccable sense of timing, and the way the show subtly marries it's supernatural elements with the more mundane, everyday life stuff works really well.

Sweetness & Lightning

Tsumugi is precious

Kouhei Inuzuka is a high-school teacher, who, after the death of his wife, now lives alone with his preschool-aged daughter, Tsumugi. Her mother was the cook of the house, so lately, the Inuzuka family have been living mostly off of ready meals. After deciding he wants to give his daughter a good meal for once, the two find themselves at a small family restaurant owned by the mother of Kotori Iida, one of Inuzuka's high-school students. What follows is a show about the three of them (and occasionally a couple of other friends) learning to cook a good meal and eat it together. Though I feel the show falls into the trap of getting a little formulaic at times, there's a lot to like here. Tsumugi is adorable (helped in no small part by being voiced by an actual child), and the show throws in some melancholic moments that I admit caught me off guard. Sweetness & Lightning is up there with Bunny Drop as shows that might make you want to consider become a father (you know, if I had someone to do that with...).

Mob Psycho 100

"This is one of Reigen's special moves, where he dropkicks an esper as hard as he can."

Last year brought us One Punch Man, an adaptation of the manga written by an artist who goes by the pseudonym ONE. This year brings us Mob Psycho 100, ONE's serialised manga, adapted by the prolific studio Bones. If you enjoyed OPM, you'll likely enjoy MP100, as I feel it does a better job at creating an interesting story and characters, while still maintaining a good sense of comedy. One Punch Man is the manga that ONE writes as a hobby... a mangaka for fun, much like the titular character. Mob Psycho 100, however, is ONE's actual job... and it shows. Bones also does an incredible job at adapting ONE's eh... unique artstyle into something that just looks sublime when in motion.

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

Waifu-bait of the year.

Re:ZERO is the story of Subaru Natsuki, who finds himself suddenly transported into an alternative, game-like, fantasy world, because of reasons. Soon after entering this world, he meets a half-elf girl named Emilia, whom he immediately takes a liking to and decides to help her recover something that was recently stolen from her. At the end of this small quest, the two of them are brutally murdered.

And then Subaru wakes up, back where he originally started. He discovers he has a unique ability to essentially travel back to a pre-determined point in time, memories/knowledge intact, but can only invoke this power by dying. The show does some interesting things, delving into the effect that constantly dying and reviving can have on that person's mind, as well as doing interesting things with the tropes often found in these "isekai" (alternate-world) shows. Subaru, our main character, isn't particularly likeable, but they do some great stuff with his character later on in the show that helps justify it, and there are plenty of other, immediately likeable characters in his place. Re:ZERO also contains what might be my favourite single episode of an anime from this year. It isn't quite the faultless, 10/10, anime-of-the-year-all-years that some of the fanbase were hyping it up as during its airing, but it's definitely an interesting show, and I look forward to watching more if future seasons are greenlit.

ERASED

I couldn't find an interesting screenshot, so here's a picture of best girl.

ERASED or, in my opinion, the much more interesting Japanese title Boku dake ga Inai Machi (The Town Where Only I am Missing) introduces us to 29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma, who will inexplicably find himself time leaping back a few minutes whenever a fatal accident is about to occur, a strange power he's used to save multiple people's lives. However, someone close to him gets murdered, and being suspected of doing it himself, Satoru funds himself sent back 18 years, to 1998. It's here that he realises the murder in the present may be connected to the abduction and killing of his classmate Kayo Hinazuki. And so unfolds the story of Satoru trying to discover what really happened all those years ago, as well as prevent the death of his classmate. ERASED is probably one of the shows this year that would probably work well among western audiences that aren't familiar with anime. It isn't laden with cliche anime tropes, and tells a plot that honestly wouldn't be out of place in a western TV show or Hollywood movie. The conclusion feels a tad rushed in my opinion, but overall, ERASED is a pretty fantastic show that is well worth watching.

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

Tanaka's life in a single image.

Tanaka is, as the title would suggest, an incredibly listless young man. He enjoys nothing more than lying about doing nothing. His hobbies are sleeping. The show follows Tanaka, his best bro, Ohta, as well as a few other friends and characters that are steadily introduced in their relatively uneventful daily lives at school and beyond. For a show whose protagonist is a guy who would gladly do nothing more than sit around all day doing nothing, it does a good job of staying pretty engaging throughout, thanks in no small part to it's wonderful cast of characters. There's the tiny, adorable and incredibly energetic Miyano, who for some reason greatly admires Tanaka's listlessness and wants him to make her his apprentice. There's Echizen, the abrasive tomboy who really likes cute things. There's the incredibly popular and attractive Shiraishi who goes through great effort to hide the fact she's a normally plain and boring looking girl. It's also a nice looking show, with a focus on a softer, pastel colour palette, obviously tying in with the whole relaxed nature of the show.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Also my favourite opening animation from this year.

Yotarou, a former yakuza has just gotten out of prison. He isn't interested in returning to that life though: he wants to become a rakugo performer. Rakugo is a traditional form of Japanese comedic entertainment, where a performer sits on a stage and, using nothing more than their voice and a couple of generic props, tells a funny story, often long, and featuring multiple characters. Whilst in prison, Yotarou was inspired by the performances of Yakumo Yuurakutei, and begs him to make Yotarou his apprentice. Yakumo eventually gives in. Under Yakumo's care is a young woman named Konatsu, whose deceased father, Sukeroku Yuurakutei, was another performer, and Yakumo's best friend and rival. The rest of the series takes place in the past, telling the story of how Yakumo and Sukeroku met, and became rakugo stars. A truly fantastic period drama, the show is probably my favourite of the entire year. Fantastically developed characters, incredible performances by the voice actors, and just an overall well-told story. It ends with us returning to the present, with the second half airing in early 2017, which I await with bated breath.

Persona 3 The Movie #4: Winter of Rebirth

"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed."

The conclusion to the anime adaptation of one of my favourite video games of all time. Although I would need to probably marathon through them again to be 100% sure, I think this final movie my be my favourite of the four. There's a section of the film where the cast have, for lack of a better term, lost their way, and it's just dripping with atmosphere, dominated by oppressive colour palettes. I love me some atmosphere. Plus the fact it's the conclusion to a pretty great story. Although the film series as a whole suffers from the same thing most video game adaptations do (that is, a lot of stuff not being included), since you're compressing an almost 100 hour game into 4 90 minute films, it's still an overall great experience.

 

KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!

Explosions are pretty dope.

As mentioned earlier, alternate-world (or isekai) anime are all the rage lately, and KonoSuba is another one of those. But the thing that sets it apart is that it's a comedy, through and through. Our protagonist, Satou Kazuma, is a high-school-aged NEET, who on his way back from buying a new game, dies a pathetic and hilarious death. He then meets the (rather obnoxious) goddess Aqua, who gives him the choice of either continuing on to heaven, or reincarnating in an alternate-fantasy world, with the choice of any item to take with him. So he chooses the fantasy-world, and chooses to bring Aqua with him, dragging her off her throne. Turns out, Aqua isn't very useful in this world, her only magic abilities limited to water-based party-tricks. Their party eventually grows to include Megumin, a young arch-wizard who loves explosions so much so knows only the most powerful explosion magic... which incapacitates her for the rest of the day when she casts it, and Darkness, a crusader and massive masochist, who dreams of being ravaged by men and monsters alike. It also turns out the fantasy-world isn't quite as cushy as it might be in games, as Kazuma and Aqua find out, having to sleep in the stables and struggling to make living expenses. Comedy is obviously very subjective, but KonoSuba hits all the right marks for me, a show that gleefully plays around with the fantasy tropes so common in other shows and games.

New Game!

If only real game studios had cute girls hanging around in their undies.

And we end my top 10 with a 100%, bona fide show abut cute girls doing cute things. Aoba Suzukaze is fresh out of high-school and is now working at Eaglejump, the company that made an RPG she loved when she was still in grade school. She quickly finds herself working as a character artist, making 3D models of NPCs for the studio's newest RPG. Comparison might be initially made to last year's Shirobako, however, those two shows have very little in common. You're not going to learn anything meaningful or genuine about working in game development from New Game! Like I said, this is a show about cute girls and the cute things they do. And it has that in spades.

 

 

Honourable Mentions

There are a handful of other anime from this year that I watched and enjoyed, but just weren't quite up to the task of making the top 10. Amanchu! is a wonderfully sweet show from the director and mangaka that brought you the fantastic Aria series, Space Patrol Luluco is more fantastically unbridled nonsense from those lovable goofs at Studio TRIGGER, Orange has a lot going for it, but was ultimately let down by the two main characters being (in my opinion) the least interesting of the main cast and Food Wars! The Second Plate is more Food Wars, which is great, but it's only half the length of the first season and the pacing is kind of all over the place. Enjoyable, but doesn't quite make the cut. The first Kizumonogatari movie is really, really good, but as a movie, it just doesn't stand up on its own, since all it really does is set up the rest of the story.

There's also a handful of anime from this year that have my interest, or I was planning on watching, but haven't gotten around to, mostly from the Fall season: Sound! Euphonium 2 is the second season of my of favourites from last year, Drifters is a show from the same mangaka of Hellsing, and Gi(a)rlish Number seems to be a funny and incredibly cynical look at the anime industry.

And that's it for this years look at the animes I thought were alright this year. See you again in 2017!

Wait... anime?

What, you thought I was only ever going to talk about video games here?

Anime is a relatively new hobby for me. Discounting the Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh I watched as a kid, I only started watching anime at all around two years or so ago. But I've watched a decent amount in that time, and the time spent watching it this year accounts for a lot of the time I didn't spend playing games. So I figured I might as well do one of my annual best-of posts for anime as well. Maybe having a whole other medium to write about will hasten the updates of this blog.

Probably not.

Anyway, similar to the gaming best-of, an anime just needs to have had a release sometime in calendar year 2015 to be eligible for this list. In the context of anime, that generally means that an episode aired in Japan sometime this year. For movies, theatrical and home media releases both count. And like the gaming best-off, these are in no particular order.

Shokugeki no Sōma

It's because his... food is so good.

It's because his... cooking is so good.

An incredibly fun, intense, hype show about... cooking. Food Wars, as I believe is its official English title, is how I imagine a Dragonball-esque shounen show with all the crazy battles replaced with cooking. Our main character, Soma Yukihira, is an almost high-school age dude (about 14-15 in Japan) who runs a small diner with his dad. Both of them are hella fuckin' baller at making food. One day, his dad decides he's off to travel the world for a bit, so while he's away he secured Soma a spot in Toutsuki Academy, a high-school for the absolute culinary elite, with a tiny graduation rate due to the insane standards. Soma is somewhat arrogant and wants to be the top-dog at the school, but to get there, he has to defeat anyone who stands in his way at shokugeki - the school's traditional form of dual. The premise is kinda dumb, but the execution is superb, with a great cast of characters and great animation. There's also a large amount of... foodgasms. The guy who draws the original manga is known for being a hentai artist... Overall, pretty great.

One Punch Man

The very embodiment of a hero.

The very embodiment of a hero.

I don't ever rank the things I put on these lists, but hold a gun to my head and make me, One Punch Man might be my #1. I'd go so far as to say that if you have even the slightest passing interest in either anime or western-style superheroes, you ought to watch One Punch Man. Saitama is pretty much the epitome of the oblivious, uninterested dude, who's a hero just "for fun". But he is so powerful that any enemy he comes across is felled with just... one punch. To the point he's become bored at the complete lack of challenge. Genuinely funny, as well as being able to remain exciting throughout with a protagonist who finishes every fight with almost literally no effort. It's a shame that the anime industry generally isn't conducive to sequels, so waiting for more will likely be a long wait. Fortunately, the manga is probably just as good.

 

Owarimonogatari

[Presented Without Context]

[Presented Without Context]

The latest instalment in the what is now fairly long-running Monogatari Series. Monogatari is really fucking weird. Like, definitely-would-not-recommend-to-people-who-don't-watch-a-lot-of-anime-and-even-for-those-who-have-is-still-love-it-or-hate-it weird. Incredibly dialogue heavy. Large amounts of (somewhat untranslatable) Japanese humour. Crazy art-direction and cinematography. A little bit more fanservice than most people would probably be comfortable with. For fans of the show, Owarimonogatari is among the best its been, but describing it's merits to someone unfamiliar can be difficult, especially in this particular short-form format. Perhaps I will one day do something on the series as a whole. Perhaps not. Those interested in the show should start with 2009's Bakemonogatari, then proceed through the others in release order.

Charlotte

An adolescent guy discovers he can take over other people's bodies.

An adolescent guy discovers he can take over other people's bodies.

If I gave out different categories of awards, Charlotte would almost certainly win "Most Potential Squandered". Similar to Angel Beats, creator Jun Maeda's previous work, Charlotte is marred with pretty horrendous pacing issues. But like Angel Beats, the entire premise of the show is really interesting, with a set of characters that deserved more time for development. But like Angel Beats, Maeda tries to tell a story whose scope is not very well suited to a standard 13 episode anime. The result is a show that I was really enjoying for the first half, before the main plot kicked in without nearly enough episodes left to tell it, and I finished somewhat disappointed. Overall, I mostly enjoyed it, and it stuck with me, though mostly for negative reasons. While not a total trainwreck, and definitely worth watching for the earlier episodes, just be ready to leave thinking this should've had another 12 episodes.

 

Non Non Biyori Repeat

Renge might be my favourite child character to appear in anything, ever.

Renge might be my favourite child character to appear in anything, ever.

The second season of Non Non Biyori, a show that reminds me what it felt like going outside to play with my friends back when I was still in primary school. It invokes a strong feeling of nostalgia in me. A slice-of-life show about a group of friends ranging from ages 6-7 to around 15 living in a rural countryside Japanese town. Charming, funny, heartwarming and very relaxing to watch. Felt good coming in from work on a Monday night and just chilling, and watching Renge and co. get up to... well, nothing in particular; the kinds of things you did with your friends when you where little kids.

Sound! Euphonium

Seriously, this show looks incredible.

Seriously, this show looks incredible.

The latest from Kyoto Animation, who are at this point probably my favourite animation studio. Set in high-school, like most of their works, Euphonium focuses on the school's concert band. The school at one time used to participate in national tournaments, but as of late haven't even made it to the qualifying tournaments. This changes due to the arrive of the club's new, friendly, but strict instructor, and the band itself decides to try for the nationals. The story focuses a lot on the commitment required to build up their strength as an orchestra, as well as the drama that can occur between members - a more talented, but less popular student being given a solo to play, for instance. I was never much of a musically-talented person, but discussion from other "band kids" on the Internet show just how faithful the representation of being in a highschool band can be. Being a KyoAni show, it's not all drama of course, with plenty of lighthearted, more slice-of-life type moments, as well as just gorgeous animation. Seriously, Sound! Euphonium might be the best looking TV animation I've ever seen.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

MFW I try to read up on the lore of the Fate universe.

MFW I try to read up on the lore of the Fate universe.

Fate/stay night is a visual novel, with three distinct story routes. The Fate route, the Unlimited Blade Works route, and the Heaven's Feel route. This is an adaptation of the second, brought to us by animation studio Ufotable, a studio noted for being up there with KyoAni for producing gorgeous looking shows. The Fate franchise is pretty fucking convoluted, so I'm not going to go into too much detail. Basically, the Holy Grail (as in,  the omnipotent wish-granting device) exists. Occasionally a bunch of dudes duke it out to claim it, known as a Holy Grail War. Each "master" summons a "servent", who is a physical manifestation of the lore and legend of a well-known person from any point in time. Every body tries to kill each other and the last person standing wins. This show is the story of one such of these Holy Grail Wars. It's pretty decent. Gets a bit up its own arse sometimes, but has a ton of cool moments and fight sequences. You know, if you're into that.

Shirobako

Also: sick drifts.

Also: sick drifts.

Shirobako (literally: white box) is an anime about... making anime. A group of five highschool girls are part of their school's animation club and pledge that one day they'll all work together on a professional anime title. And then before you can think "oh god, not another highschool slice-of-life show", it timeskips ahead a few years to where two of the girls already have burgeoning careers at an animation studio. I'll admit, I like slice-of-life and cute-girls-doing-cute-things more than I probably should, but it's refreshing to see a similar type of show, but with characters older than highschool age. But not only that, Shirobako gives a genuinely fantastic insight into Japan's animation industry and the sort of work that goes into producing a typical late-night anime episode. Everything from the drawing of keyframes and inbetweens, to the casting process for voice actors, to having to deal with the companies that own the source material of the anime you're making, to having to deliver the show to the TV stations before it airs. A huge cast of characters, most of whom are very well fleshed out, many of which feel like... well, real people just trying to make a career in a very harsh industry. Fantastic show.

Persona 3 The Movie: #2 Midsummer Knight's Dream

This is a shot from the 1st movie, but whatever, shit it cooool.

This is a shot from the 1st movie, but whatever, shit is cooool.

Persona 3 is one of my favourite video games of all time. A fantastic blend of social/life simulator and dungeon-crawling RPG, with an incredible story and memorable cast of characters. The follow-up, Persona 4 is arguably the better game, mechanically, but something about 3's world and bittersweet plot stuck with me. Like Persona 4, 3 is also getting its own anime adaptation, though in the form of 4 movies as opposed to Persona 4's 25 episode TV show. Midsummer Knight's Dream starts pretty much where the first one left off and introduces Aigis, everyone's favourite robot lady. I can't really delve too deep without getting spoilery, which I don't like to do here. Basically, in Persona 3, you summon your "persona" (which is a physical manifestation of your inner psyche) by pointing a gun-like object (an "evoker") at your head and pulling the trigger. Then, rather than your skull splattering against the wall, a bunch of light shoots out and your persona appears. You do this for almost every attack in battle. It's pretty fucking baller.

Your Lie in April

This dude's hair tho

This dude's hair tho

I don't have much to say about this one, because I don't want to say too much about this one.

If you want something on the more emotional side and you happen to like classical music... well, you're in for a trip.

A feels trip. Hope you've got your permission slips.

 

 

So that's that. Them's are the top 10 animes what I watched this year that I think are completely alright or something. This is the first anime post I've written here, and you can probably expect to see more in the future, what with anime taking up a large amount of my free time (and income) as of late. My top 10 list of video games will drop fairly soon as well, likely before the new year, so look forward to that.

Also, if you happen to be into the animu, and have a MAL profile, mine is here if you're so interested.