The Year in Review: The Best Anime of 2016

As we close the book of 2016 we tend to muse over  the good times, the bad times, the times where we were made to think and the times where we were made to feel. So, to relive those experiences, here are some of the best titles of anime for the year 2016. This compilation was made with my own opinions based on the anime I watched.

My top 15 Best anime of 2016

15. Orange

Produced by: TMS entertainment 

Naho Takamiya is a shy 16-year-old girl who receives a letter from her future self. The letter depicted detailing actions she must take to prevent Kakeru Naruse, the new transfer student, from sinking into depression and taking his own life. The letter contains details of what will happen in the future and how to avoid making the same mistakes she made.

This story artfully transitions back and forth from the present to the future to show what Naho is doing in the future where she has all these regrets. Being as timid as she is Naho does not always have the confidence to overcome her social awkwardness; she then relies on her tight-knit group of friends to help her. Naho as a main character seems completely useless at times because of her anxiety she can barely hold a conversation. Naho herself has to be saved by her best friend Suwa hiroto time and time again.

This is a heartwarming story about a group of friends determined to save their friend suffering from severe depression after his mother passed. This anime teaches the viewers to try to appreciate the smaller things in life, and never to undervalue the power of friendship. This anime made this list because of its light overarching theme of love among friends, but also has dark undertones and gut wrenching scenes. I love the raw emotions as kakuaru deals with the constant battle between choosing to live or not to live.

14. Keijo

Studio: Xebec | Director: Hideya Takahashi

This series focuses on the fictional women-only sport of keijo, where players stand on floating platforms in large Olympic pools and aim to incapacitate or push their opponent into the water, using only their breasts and buttocks. The anime follows Nozomi Kaminashi, a gymnast who trains at a keijo school, hoping to become a prize queen and the richest keijo player in Japan. Nozomi befriends her roommates and together they develop their own skill and fighting style to try to dominate the game.

Keijo was one of those anime I watched because of the hype and it surprisingly did not disappoint. Keijo has something for everyone: fan service, strong female characters, intense fighting scenes, fan service, friendship, fan service, comedy, and internal struggle. This sport anime left me looking forward to the next episode almost every time; each character is so unique and insane. This is something that you can enjoy and despite being sports and slightly not safe for work, it has been nominated for Crunchyroll’s best comedy of 2016. Keijo works so well because of its ability to surprise the audience and keep us entertained until the end. This anime isn’t for everyone, but it is a wild ride and very enjoyable. I look forward to the next saga.

13. Joker Game

Produced by: Production I.G, directed by Kazuya Nomura and written by Taku Kishimoto

This series takes place all over the world in 1937. With World War ll right around the corner, intelligence on other countries’ social and economic situation has suddenly become a valuable asset. As a result, Japan has established a new spy organization known as the “D Agency” to obtain this valuable information that could give their nation the upper hand. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki, eight agents have been assigned to infiltrate and observe some of the most powerful countries, reporting on any developments associated with the war. In order to carry out these dangerous tasks, these men have trained their bodies to survive in extreme conditions and studied various fields such as communications, lock picking and languages. However, their greatest strength lies in their ability to manipulate people in order to obtain information.

I will say that the joker game runs at a slower pace than most would like because it takes some time to set up a story. The dialogue is intense and can be tasking for subs, but the action and the rich history that is portrayed here can really make up for that. This is a spy show but about real espionage; they gather Intel and information. The series follows eight separate agents who are stationed in different parts of the world on various missions. The characters are trained to fit in, but they are anything but normal–they are actually quite badass.

The episodes at first seem disjointed and random, moving one character and then another next episode however, if you keep watching you see how the story comes together in a really cool way.  The trick to this show is that you have to wait for it, everything has to get set up. Like playing chess this show sets up the pieces one by one until it clicks, and then everything makes sense and it’s checkmate. The “Joker Game,” is an elimination-style take on poker, where the point of the game is not about who has the best hand, but who can convince the people around the table to cheat others out of the game, one after another, without saying a word. Being a spy isn’t about war; it’s about politics.

12. Magical Girl Raising Project

adaptation by Lerche  

While playing a smartphone game known as Magical Girl Raising Project, Koyuki Himekawa, a middle school girl who loves magical girls, is chosen by the mascot character, Fav, to become a real magical girl known as Snow White. As Snow White uses her ability to hear people in danger and help them, she uses her Magical Phone to talk to the other magical girls residing in N-City. The following evening, Snow White is called out by one of these girls, La Pucelle, who reveals herself to be her male childhood friend, Souta Kishibe, and forms a partnership with her. The next day, Fav informs everyone that he plans to reduce the number of magical girls in the city down from sixteen to eight.

This is a fun anime to get into; it has a very modern feel to it that shares similarities with several other anime out there. The main similarity is to madoka magica, with each character having a very specific skillset. The main difference is the sheer amount of characters that start out and the brutal battles that take place.

This anime does not hold back and I love to hate that. Fav the computer character acts like the moderator for the girls, giving them hints and goading them into battles… so maybe this thing doesn’t have everyone’s best interest in mind. The characters look harmless and sweet, however this anime is bloody, raw, depressing, and most importantly, magical.

11. Magi: adventures of Sinbad

Before he became the king of Sindria, Sinbad was a poor boy born in a country at the brink of yet another deadly war. After being a witness to the cruel treatment his father received, young Sinbad vowed to create a world without war. This story is a brilliant adaptation of the life of one of Magi’s most powerful heroes: Sinbad.

Thirty years before the events of Magi, a brave and gorgeous young man named Sinbad sets sail to start his adventure. The future High King of Seven Seas gradually matured through various encounters and dungeon captures, taking him towards kingship step by step. Sinbad is a prequel to Magi but you don’t need to have seen it in order to enjoy it. Sinbad meets many different people on his journeys and endures countless struggles; this is a success story of how one impoverished youth went about trying to change the world.

The contrast between the poor and the rich is illuminated along with the corruption of power, bringing a great balance to the story. There is a strong good vs evil plot similar to Magi but that doesn’t ruin it for me like it did for Magi. This anime is a great action adventure that is about putting yourself out there and achieving your dreams no matter how huge they sound at the time. The series along look really nice, that animation is well done the action is clear and there didn’t seem to be any cheap shots in the entire anime. The only problem is that this anime was not long enough. The pacing was rushed because of how this huge story had to be done in a certain amount of episodes.  On the other hand that made every episode interesting due to the fact that a ton had to happen in a short time. This anime captures your heart and sense of adventure his story is very interesting and I hope to learn more.

10. Izetta: The Last Witch

Published by Shochiku

The time period is pre-World War II and the setting is a European-like imaginary world. A large-scale war erupts and bloody battles are taking place throughout the world. Eylstadt is a small country that has a weak military force and little natural resources. Finé, who is the crown queen of Eylstadt, decides to use a secret weapon against larger countries, in a time where battling against larger countries was unthinkable. The secret weapon is a witch named Izetta, who uses her magical force to fight. The young witch Izetta is the last survivor of her kind.

Izetta is a kind soul who loves her small country, but most of all she loves her queen. Even though she was taught to never use her power to intervene in the humans war she finds that she cannot just let her country down. Izetta puts herself in danger time and time again because she strives to be like the white witch from the fables hundreds of years ago.

The queen Finé had saved Izetta’s life when she was young from a band of angry townspeople, and she uses that as a reason to fight. But in reality Ietta feels like there is no other option; she will do whatever she has to in order to save her people. This is magical girl versus the Nazis and it is wonderful. She rides on a floating machine gun and her choice of weapon is the flying javelin; that is, when she can’t get her hands on a soaring tank.

Her powers are not unlimited and through the fearsome force that the Germans possess and their advances in science they put izetta on her toes. I loved how this anime began and I thoroughly enjoyed the ending. The animation is beautiful and I greatly enjoyed the story. The strong will of the characters puts this at number ten on my list.

9. Food wars: The second plate

Written by Yūto Tsukuda.  Illustrated by Shun Saeki. Yuki Morsaki also works as a collaborator, providing the recipes. Adaptation by J.C Staff

Yukihira Soma is a teen with a great enthusiasm for cooking. He dreams of surpassing his father, a great chef and restaurant owner, and so attends Totsuki Culinary Academy, a legendary and formidable cooking school for the greatest teenage chefs in Japan. In the first season Yukihira meets some very formidable foes and great friends in the Academy. This is a continuation of his time in the Academy where they go through what they call the autumn elections to see who will make it to the top of the academy and who will fail.

After the qualifying test with curry dishes, eight contestants have entered the quarterfinal of Autumn Elections: Souma, Megumi, Takumi, Hisako, Alice, Kurokiba, Hayama, and Mimasaka. Their next challenge: bento. I took a risk putting this so high on the list because it is an ecchi shounen. The show itself no longer relies on the ecchi fan-service to make it popular, it just happens to be extra. Don’t get me wrong, half the charm of this show is that I just die whenever the headmaster loses his shirt and his shit when he tastes a delicious meal but this show has really evolved from that to almost be considered a sport anime.

The attention to detail is astounding the cooking world is sometimes too niched but that is what pulls you in. The dishes are described in great length and detail from where it was bought and prepped to exactly what ingredients went into it along with the temperature it was cooked at and for how long. Every cook has a crazy different and amazing technique that stems from somewhere in their history or past that shaped their own cooking styles. Now if you prefer your clothes stay on when the world’s best dish is presented to you, then be my guest, but these characters don’t seem to mind sparing a few items of clothing to show their appreciation. Food Wars is unexpected and entertaining in every aspect I just wish I could eat something from Yukihira right about now.

8. Dragon Ball Z Super: Trunks Saga

story from creator Akira Toriyama

After 18 long years of no dragon Ball the DBZ gods have answered the call.

This is the Trunks saga that we deserved! This new arc features the return of future trunks, which is being ruthlessly hunted by a mysterious being that of course is hell-bent on destruction. So Trunks is pulled into a battle that spans space and time. So Trunk with the help Bulma manages to narrowly escape black long enough to go to the past and call upon the help of Goku and Vegeta yet again. The team brainstorms a way to defeat him while in the future leader of the resistance Mai tries to hold Black off while Black is wreaking havoc on the flaming remains of the city.

Goku and the others eventually discover that Goku Black is actually a Kaiō-shin or God from Universe 10 named Zamasu, who hijacked Goku’s body from a different timeline as part of his plan to attain immortality and wipe out all mortals. The time skips actually made sense and the villain was terrifying. How do you even beat an evil super powered Goku? The introduction of the time rings was genius it gives us a way to keep track of how many timelines there are and when a new one is created a new time ring is formed. Also not everyone can possess these rings only a mature Kaio-shin may use it to go forward and backward in time, originally used to only observe the mortal population, however zamasu uses it to try to obliterate the universe; or just everyone who lives in it.

This was very nostalgic and I enjoyed the way they kept the fighting style the same, and of course Goku is always brawn over brain any day which can be frustrating but hey, whatever works right? There was an introduction to an even higher level of saiyan past God that Goku black mentioned called Super saiyan Rose. The villain of the arc is more complex than any villain Goku has faced so far; every time things start to look up, Goku black has something else up his sleeve until the situation seems almost hopeless. That is when Goku, Trunks, and vegeta can push themselves past what they thought to be possible.  The ending was overpowered, it was gritty, it was depressing and it was oh so satisfying.

7. Erased

Produced by A-1 Pictures

In the year 2006, Satoru Fujinuma is a 29-year-old manga artist who occasionally experiences an ability he refers to as “Revival”, in which he is sent back in time by a few seconds, allowing him to perform life-saving feats. He uses this to save a boy from a runaway truck, whose driver had died from a heart attack, though becomes hospitalized for a few days as a result.

As his co-worker, Airi Katagiri, praises Satoru for his life-saving efforts, Satoru is visited by his mother, Sachiko, who reminds him of an incident 18 years ago in which an adult named Jun Shiratori, who Satoru had trusted, was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of some of his classmates. The next day, as Satoru experiences another Revival phenomenon, Sachiko notices a man who seemed to be trying to kidnap a child. Looking into the matter, Sachiko deduces that the same man was the true killer from 18 years ago, but before she can inform Satoru, she is killed in Satoru’s home. Just as Satoru discovers Sachiko’s body and is accused of killing her, his Revival sends him all the way back to 1988, when he was still an 11-year-old elementary school student. This continues to happen until the cause of the threat is erased.

Satoru, who finds himself thrust into a younger body, attempts to search for the killer the best way an eleven year old can without alerting suspicion from the adults. Erased is about righting the wrongs that never should have happened in the first place. This anime is unapologetically honest with its portrayal of family life and child abuse. Being a single mother isn’t easy. Erased was about how something as small as noticing a bruise or talking to someone who is hurt just noticing something is wrong could change the outcome of a life possibly forever. Even if you know who did it, even if you know what happens if he fails to erase the tragic event you still have no idea what will happen.

This isn’t just a go back in time whenever he feels like it sort of deal. The events are centered on specific points, the going back is random and only his consciousness goes back. This anime was so great because it was very different, the children who are easy prey all of a sudden had more power than they realized. This twelve episode adventure will continue to open eyes and hopefully make people feel.  Satoru Fujinuma is every murderer’s worst nightmare.

6. Kabaneri of the iron fortress

series by Wit Studio. Directed by Tetsurō Araki and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi,

A sudden and mysterious virus plagues the nation during the industrial revolution, turning humans into Kabane or undead creatures. They can only be killed by piercing their glowing heart which is protected by a layer of armor. On the island country Hinomoto people have built fortress-like “stations” to shelter themselves from these creatures. People access the stations and transport supplies between them with the help of armored steam locomotives.

One day, a train hijacked by the Kabane crashes into Aragane Station and they overrun the city. A young engineer called Ikoma uses the opportunity to test with success his anti-Kabane weapon, the “piercing gun” but is infected in the process. Ikoma manages to resist the virus and become a Kabaneri  a human-Kabane hybrid. Assisted by Mumei  another Kabaneri who appears to help them, Ikoma and the other survivors of the station board the Kōtetsujō “Armoured Fortress” and depart to seek shelter elsewhere, fighting the hordes of Kabane along the way.

If you were having Attack on titan withdrawals this has a very AOT feel to it, the fighting style is similar the air powered weapons and overwhelming endless sea of monsters to fight is similar. This anime is animated so damn well, Mumei looks stunning as she whips around fighting the undead. This anime has great action scenes; I distinctly remember the train fight sequences to be my favorite. This world is run by heads of families and monarchs who control the bushi (soldiers) and they control the trains and armies. The politics of this anime seem dark and complex the heads of government only seem to be concerned with self-preservation fueled by fear. Humans on trains are considered to be infected until proven otherwise and jailing on suspicion of being infected is common. Ikoma is strong-willed, reliable and sentimental  he desperately just wants to help making him a great main character.

The only problem I had was with the ending it felt like there was more to the story and that there’s still more to be done. Also whenever a main character says I’m going to destroy every single “fill in blank” it just makes me think it will never happen because it never has so just stop.  It just made a huge mess and then never cleaned it up. Despite all that I really liked this anime, it was a good survival action adventure.

5. My hero academia

Produced by Studio Bones. Directed by Kenji Nagasaki, written by Yōsuke Kuroda

This story follows Izuku Midoriya, a regular middle school student, in a world where people with superpowers known as “Quirks” are the norm. However, he dreams of one day becoming a Hero, despite being bullied by his classmates for not having a Quirk. Then one day after being the only one to try to save his childhood bully, Katsuki, from a Villain, All Might, the world’s greatest Hero, bestows upon him his own quirk, “One For All”. The story follows Izuku’s entrance into U.A. High School a school that cultivates the next generation of Heroes.

Izuku always had the making to be a great hero, he puts others before himself and his body moves to protect people without even thinking about it. He was born without a Quirk but he was still desperate to go to hero school because he was going to be a hero. All Might made that dream a reality, however he won’t be able to fully use this power for some time. From the very first episode this anime had me eagerly waiting for the next. My Hero Academia’s slogan to Go Beyond! Plus Ultra! Is a simple mantra that empowers those with underdeveloped potential and motivates them to new heights. Izuku has unwavering courage and unbreakable spirit that makes him an infectious character to watch.

My hero academia is an underdog superhero story that always leaves you with a great feeling. Next season will come out in April of 2017.

4. Mob psycho 100

Produced by Bones and directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa. Hiroshi Seko wrote the series scripts

Shigeo Kageyama is an average middle school boy, called Mob, which means background character for lacking a sense of presence. Mob seems like an inconspicuous person, but he is in fact a powerful Esper. As he grows older, Mob realizes his psychic powers are dangerous. To avoid his power getting out of control, he constantly lives a life under emotional shackle. Mob wants to live just like others, but a barrage of trouble comes to him. With the suppressed emotions growing inside Mob little by little, his power threatens to spill over its bounds. When his emotional state reaches a certain level of anger or anxiety something truly terrifying happens.

Mob psycho 100 is a great story about a kid who was never able to properly express himself as a child, so he doesn’t mostly for the protection the people around him. This anime has a fun way of telling people that it is alright to properly deal with anger in a healthy way. Mob always has important morals distilled in him by his mentor a self-proclaimed exorcist named Arataka Reigen. Reigen is a very important role model for mob, and it goes to show how important it is to have proper guidance.

Mob is also protective of his younger brother Ritsu who was not born with the same powers, but is very popular, athletic and kind; mob is very proud of him. But when Mob is targeted by those who wish to dominate the world using esper powers, he has to try to protect his family. Mob Psycho 100 is a great and colorful anime with a distinct and artsy animation style. The brotherly bonds and the intense fight scenes make this anime a must see.

3. Re: Zero – Starting Life in Another World

Directed by Masaharu Watanabe and written by Masahiro Yokotani, with animation by the studio White Fox

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. Armed with only a bag of groceries and a now useless cell phone, he is quickly beaten to a pulp. Subaru is saved by a half-elf girl, who after learning that Subaru is unfamiliar with local history, geography and language introduces herself as Satella, and her companion, Puck who happens upon Subaru and saves him.

In order to thank the honest and kindhearted girl, Subaru decides to return the favor by getting her insignia back that was stolen by Felt; 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.

But everything is fine because then Subaru reawakens to a familiar scene, meets the same group of thugs and reacquaints himself with the same girl as history repeats itself. He finds that he has a unique ability to turn back time by dying.  This light novel adaptation was well made and was well received by most audiences across the world. Now typically the whole fan-boy main character thing gets annoying quickly and Subaru isn’t the most macho character at all in fact he is the weakest character in the entire series. However Subaru has his wits about him and with time repeating at certain “save” points he can use that to his advantage.

Every character is special, but Rem and Ram the inseparable twins are instant favorites, they are cold-hearted, loyal, and very protective of Emilia not to mention they totally kick-ass. This anime has great pacing it always seems to be moving forward with an epic first and second episode this series gets off to a great start. I will admit that in the middle repeating the same scene over and over gets so repetitive that you really want him to live that way you don’t have to see that same scene again. On the other hand towards the end when the same scene is played out in so many different ways it’s really cool to see how one person’s actions can change the entire outcome of a situation.

2. Yuri on ice

Produced by MAPPA and directed by Sayo Yamamoto

Yuuri Katsuki is in anguish after suffering a total breakdown at the Grand Prix Final so he returns home to reassess his situation. But when a recording of a Yuuri skating a routine done by five time world champion Viktor Nikiforove goes totally viral, Yuuri finds himself in the spotlight. Nikiforove then shows up at his family’s hot spring and offers to coach Yuuri. The anime focuses on the relationship between Yuuri and his hero Viktror, who coaches him through to skating season.

Yuri on ice is not your typical sports anime, it is a well thought out piece of art that is centered on the super competitive world of figure skating. This anime has taken the world by storm, and it is one that is easy to underestimate. But much like the main character Yuuri, who is brimming with potential and passion, it captures your heart. What makes this anime so amazing is the attention to detail; all of the figure skaters routines were actually choreographed by a retired ice skater who has won two national championships for japan, Kenji Miyamoto.

Kenji Miyamoto breathes life into every single move Yuuri makes, that it is why it flows so beautifully. Every character has its own special routine and style that represents their struggles and intensities, from the way their hairs falls after a jump to even the breathing after they complete a routine. Everything about this anime is relatable, honest, and pure. The depression and anxiety Yuuri faces is real and the way Viktor lifts him to his greatest potential is so inspiring. Accurate representation of how anxiety and panic attacks can wreak havoc on your psyche. Yuuri is the rising underdog.

I eagerly await the next chapter of this beautiful piece of art.

1. JoJos bizarre adventure: diamond is unbreakable

Based on the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga series by Hirohiko Araki

This is the third installment of Jojos bizarre adventure in April 1999, roughly ten years after the battle against the evil vampire Dio, Jotaro Kujo travels to the town of Morioh to look for a boy named Josuke Higashikata. After first running into a timid boy named Koichi Hirose, Jotaro comes across Josuke as he fights with some upper-classmen who injured a turtle and insulted his hairstyle, discovering that he possesses a Stand that has the power to heal wounds. Jotaro then introduces himself, revealing to Josuke that he is the illegitimate son of his grandfather, Joseph Joestar, technically making him Jotaro’s uncle.

When Jotaro accidentally insults his hairstyle, Josuke brings out his Stand crazy Diamond against Jotaro, who narrowly avoids serious injury thanks to his Star Platinum’s ability to temporarily stop time. Afterwards, Jotaro warns Josuke about a dangerous Stand user and serial killer named Anjuro “Angelo” Katagiri who is hiding out in town and only a stand user can stop stand.

This Jojos bizarre adventure get a little bizarre in all the best ways; they have new stands being introduced with crazy abilities almost every episode. With the last JoJo they left room for the stands to start to develop we see that when Jotaru develops an ability he always had but now learned how to use and that is the terrifying ability to stop time. Even elaborating on the stand abilities for instance not only can Josuke can not only heal but he can put something back together even if he only has a piece of it which makes for some very creative and fun scenes.

Team members like koichi who starts with a weaker level stand suddenly has the ability to evolve or morph into a greater stand with greater abilities. This change impacts the JoJo game with characters getting different abilities it really keeps the series intense and interesting. I highly recommend you watch the original JoJo series to really appreciate this however it is not necessary and you can catch on pretty quickly. The color scheme is brilliant and at this point Jojo has raised the bar for every opening it has had since the beginning, I mean the attention to detail is just superb. Fall in love the town of Morioh and watch as the lovable characters try to find a way to save it.

That is my list I hope you enjoyed it!

Katie Garren

Sailor Moon started it all for me making me a lover of all things anime I went to my first convention in 2014 and haven't looked back. Still relatively new to Cosplay I love learning and seeing all the things that this community is about.

Latest posts by Katie Garren (see all)

Follow me on Twitter

You may also like...