Once again, a new year has gone by in the blink of an eye, and it’s time for another list of favorite anime as we looked back on the best shows of last year. While I was thinking of the best anime of 2016, one genre actually surprises me due to a number of great titles. Well, read on.
1. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
If we are talking about a show the most universally-loved in 2016, you really can’t not mention Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. A compelling historical drama about rakugo — a traditional Japanese entertainment which involves the performer telling a Story by acting multiple characters. And just like a performer’s mastery in the art of acting different characters, Rakugo has so many multifaceted themes and ideas interwoven together to become a truly special story. From the show’s very delightful and meticulously-written characters, the dynamics between the two protagonists and also the idea of rakugo being a dying breed of entertainment due to westernization and modernism. As picturesque as they come, the entirety of Rakugo carried itself like a legitimate theatrical performance. While any attempt in storytelling is of course top tier, the show is also good at capturing the small nuances through fastidious framing. On top of making rakugo performances exciting, this also enhances the character drama excellently. All in all, Rakugo is a must-watch.
Co-directed by Junichi Satou whom you might remember him for his heavy involvement with shows like Tamayura and Aria, the man is a master at iyashikei. Amanchu is an atmospheric story that relies on it’s beautiful aquatic world to enthrall you, at the same time, it’s also a character-driven story — most notably Futaba Ooki nicknamed “Teko”, the resident protagonist of the story as her discovery of scuba-diving changes her life. The latter in my opinion, is what makes this show exceptional and distinctive beyond an ordinary iyashikei. The healing atmosphere is second to none, but the addition of an organic character-developing story in Teko is the greatest icing on the cake the show could ever hope for — it’s truly a charming journey to see the normally shy and withdrawn Teko grow as a character.
Intermission: Normally not a fan of putting two similar shows in the same list, so here’s a show I think at least deserved some sort of mention — Flying Witch. It’s lively animals is actually one aspect of the show I really like.
3. Hibike! Euphonium 2
If Hibike! Euphonium were to have more sequels, and all of them the same quality, then damn… you might be seeing them a lot in these yearly favorite lists. There’s a reason why season 1 of Hibike still remained one of the most well-liked anime even to this day, and season 2 managed to rekindle the charm of it’s predecessor effortlessly. Jam-packed with character drama, stunning visuals and of course, music, the second season of Hibike! Euphonium is as much a must-watch as the first.
Speaking of KyoAni shows, I think this show just barely deserves a mention. No? Alright…
4. Mob Psycho 100
Following One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 is the second title from ONE to receive an anime adaption, and I would argue it’s his superior work. One Punch Man tried it’s hands in thematic exploration but in retrospect, it’s highlight is truly (and only) the entertaining fights; their dynamic animation makes them a must see. In contrast Mob Psycho has a stronger message to tell, and used the “overpowered but bored protagonist” trope in a more meaningful way. Mob Psycho is the more character-driven of the two, and managed to humanize the characters spectacularly. And when you combine that with One Punch Man’s signature high-octane fights, it’s easy to see why Mob Psycho 100 is such an excellent show, to the point that I’m even willing to add it to this year’s favorite anime, something One Punch Man wasn’t able to accomplish in it’s respective year.
5. Flip Flappers
Ah Flip Flappers, where do I even begin? Started with two contrasting protagonists as they embark on wacky episodic adventures, only for things to start going south as the truth slowly unravels along the course of the story, which then leads to it’s almost perfect conclusion. As a story, Flip Flappers is flawless, but what contributed to that are the countless bizarre hijinks, intriguing characters and an unique presentation. Being hailed as the most “anime” anime, Flip Flappers is a show that is purely entertaining from start to finish. Oh, did I mention it is also gay af?
Honorable Mention(s): Isekai Anime
In this post’s introduction, I mentioned one genre surprised me-isekai. Ever since Sword Art Online became a thing, this genre literally exploded, and 2016 has been a great year for isekai. It’s difficult not to mention shows like Re:Zero, Grimgar and KonoSuba. Despite having some problems, both Re:Zero and Grimgar are good shows in a way that they excelled at treating the genre seriously — the severity of the setting on full display, showing everyone that being trapped in another world is certainly no fun and games. Furthermore, Grimgar looks and sounds amazing, having excellent visuals and a glorious set of soundtracks. It’s slower-paced structure is also more of a merit than a demerit, setting itself apart from it’s peers. On that note though, KonoSuba is seriously it’s own beast. Compared to the other two, KonoSuba is the epitome of meme and trashy comedy; it’s some insanely good trashy comedy though. Last but not least, KonoSuba has Megumin, and she pretty much made the show.