Think of them as delicious s’mores roasting on this fire of a year!
We can pretty much all agree that 2016 was, er, not the greatest. But there were a few bright spots, at least, and one of them was definitely the anime. Each season had its standout hits and surprise treasures, filled with compelling characters, stylish animation, striking cinematography, and stories that ran the gamut from clever silliness to sincere enthusiasm to gripping tension to wrenching drama. I watched about 30 shows to completion (yeah, that scares me, too) and would recommend almost all of them to someone, depending on what kind of genres they enjoyed.
Problem is, this makes it nigh impossible to pick just 10 series to highlight as The Best Of The Best. How can I bear to ignore this hidden gem or snub that enjoyable blockbuster? The answer, it turns out, is to just straight-up abandon any pretense of critical distance. Or any modicum of Serious Blogger Professionalism whatsoever, really. That’s why this list has a whole slew of Honorable Mentions before even getting to the Top 10, and why the Top 10 is really just “the 10 shows I liked the best.”
It’s also why there is no #6. Instead, my Top 5 will have 6 shows in it. My blog, my rules, suckas!
Pick a show, any show.
We’ve reached the midway point and Spring shows no sign of slowing down or dropping off. From calming comedies to urban fantasies to action-packed (melo)dramas to whatever-the-hell The Lost Village is supposed to be, there’s a lot of variety and remarkable quality, with most shows building on themselves nicely or, at the very least, maintaining a steady course.
While I wouldn’t say there’s a ton in the way of jaw-dropping creative ambition at this point (aside from Concrete Revolutio anyway), if you’re in the mood for entertainment, Spring 2016 has got you thoroughly covered. Hit the jump to check in with our motley crew of anime titles.
The autumn colors were certainly on display, I’ll give Fall that, at least.
This was a slim season for me in terms of overall series completed, and would have been a pretty disappointing one if not for a couple happy surprises and a pair of standout shows from the ever-reliable Studio BONES. Still, there’s good variety here, with a strong focus on action/adventure titles, so there’s a pretty good chance something out there will speak to everyone’s tastes.
One thing Fall did have in droves was plenty of style. From the jaw-droppingly dynamic animation of One Punch Man, to the ’60s comic book-inspired design of Concrete Revolutio, to the painted landscapes of Seraph, the glowing monsters of Noragami, and even the washed-out color scheme and bursts of acid-trip weirdness in Perfect Insider, a lot of creative teams threw themselves into making the shows this season visually striking, and they by-and-large succeeded.
While ultimately I’m the kind of viewer who needs a developed set of characters and a meaningful (or at least entertaining) narrative to keep me invested in a story, that should by no means take away from the sheer amount of hard work and talent on display this Fall. Animation is art, and (narrative content notwithstanding), these creators have made that abundantly clear.
Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.
“Those who do the right thing, not for themselves or their country, but for a single…”
“A single what? Justice? Peace? Freedom? Defending my freedom disturbs the peace! Pursuing your justice violates my freedom! There is no single answer!”
—Jiro and Jin; Concrete Revolutio
Concrete Revolutio is an alternate reality, a blending of pop art and fiction with historical events to create a sensationalized truth. It’s an attempt to make sense of history through fantasy, to find causality in the real world the way we would in a fantastical one. And, in so doing, it reminds us that history itself is written like a fiction, and that (much like fiction) the same general narratives and tropes continue to play out in multiple times and places, despite our best (or perhaps worst) efforts.
The trees outside are looking almost as sparse as my watch list.
It’s a fairly quiet season on my end, as I’m only keeping up with eight full-length shows and one short(ish), as compared to last season’s whopping thirteen. While that’s partly out of necessity (there’s nothing like a packed month of travel and writing projects to make you shed shows), it also speaks to the kinds of series airing this season. I wouldn’t even call it a bad season, just one with a lot of mid-range shows that don’t appeal to me personally. Sometimes that happens.
A packed month of travel and writing projects can also tell you a lot about your own preferences, turns out, and mine are pretty solidly turned towards character-driven writing and/or offbeat or ambitious narrative structures. The general craziness of my schedule as of late has also led me to seek out lighter, sillier shows, which is likely why this list is so heavy on the comedies and over-the-top “dramas.” Never let it be said that personal tastes and circumstances don’t affect judgment, because oh man, do they ever.
Hit the jump to see what’s stuck, what’s slipping, and what has the chance to be truly special.
Can these do-gooders power their way onto the watchlist?
If mecha is a taste I’ve never quite acquired, then superhero is one that I find myself enjoying more with each year. Give the MCU ample credit for that, as well as new western lady-led comics like Ms. Marvel or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, for sure, but magical girls and powered rangers have had a place in my heart for a while now, too, and that place grows a little warmer all the time. So it’s no wonder that both of these shows received glowing premiere reviews not too long ago. As for whether or not that glow has worn off… well, that requires a few more paragraphs than this one.
After an early stumble, Fall may be climbing up again.
The anime gods heard our complaints yesterday and saw fit to grace us with three series that are a vast improvement over the majority of the others I’ve watched thus far, packed with great animation, distinctive characters, and competent (or at least passionate) writing. In truth, these were the three I pegged as potential goodies going into the season, so it’s mostly just a relief that they weren’t total clunkers. Hit the jump for all the exciting details.