Another year is in the books and now is the perfect time to look back at the good that 2016 gave us. No matter what might be going on in the world or our lives, we can usually count on anime to give us some great shows to enjoy. The year really did start off well with winter being so surprisingly strong. Not surprisingly a number of the shows that landed on my top 10 list came from that season. As a whole this was a pretty good year for anime and had a fair amount of shows I was looking forward to seeing. Still, I think this list will show that a lot of really good shows were ones I didn’t expect to be so good.
As always this is going to be a really personal list. These sorts of lists are always going to be pretty subjective. I’m just ranking things as I enjoyed them and in the order I feel is appropriate. Still, I think it is good fun to consider what shows stood out to me from the past year. Hopefully this gives people some shows to consider checking out that they might have missed. And if anyone wants to drop their own top 10 list in the comments I’d enjoy seeing them. If nothing else a top 10 list is a good way of telling what kinds of shows people are interested in. There is such a variety of anime that comes out over the course of a year. I’m sure most people’s top 10 lists will be different and here is mine.
10. Brave Witches (Fall)
Nothing quite says personal list than starting out with Brave Witches XD. But honestly this is a show I feel surpassed my expectations and deserves to be here. It was a risk to step away from the regular Strike Witches squad. Instead of Yoshika and company we change the focus to the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing “Brave Witches.” The focus is still on an original character (Karibuchi Hikari) who surprisingly looks really similar to Yoshika, but the show does a good job early of differentiating them. Brave Witches does change things up from what we got in the 2 seasons of Strike Witches. The conflict feels serious with less fanservice and more threatening neuroi. It feels like they are fighting a desperate war to prevent more of the world from being conquered. This was a good story with a new likable group of Witches.
9. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!! (Summer)
I’d been looking forward to this since the first few seasons of the Illya anime. The seriousness of the story in this season spikes dramatically and stakes become much bigger. It feels like a Fate-verse anime. Unfortunately it isn’t without flaws. There was pacing concerns and Silver Link did seem to reach their limit near the end of the show. Still, despite the flaws I think it was a good season. The core story is strong enough to carry it. There were some really nice moments, Illya really grows as a character, and overall the action was enjoyable. Also Gil is simply worth it on his own. He really has some nice moments in this season. If everything had been done right then this could have been near the top of my list, but instead it will sit comfortably at 9.
8. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (Winter)
Now this show was the surprise of the winter season for me. I did not expect this show to be so good and fun. It looked like it could be a decent, but generic show about a guy being sent to a fantasy world. Instead…it was hilarious. The show does a great job making use of and making fun of some standard tropes for this situation. Every main character has a major flaw to them. Kazuma can be a pervert/jerk, Aqua is an idiot, Darkness is a huge masochist, and Megumin is obsessed with explosions. The comedy just works. These characters are almost all powerful enough that they could be off saving the world, but are all held back because of their massive negatives. Konosuba is fun, entertaining, and even makes the poor animation work in its favor. Plus Megumin is awesome and worth seeing the show for.
7. Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Fall)
It would be a shocking day for me when a Natsume series could not crack my top 10 list for a given year. I was elated when it was announced that Natsume would finally be getting a 5th season. It had been years and didn’t seem like it was going to happen. But we finally got a new Natsume season and as expected it was really good. This series has remarkable consistency and each episode was strong in its own way. It is a remarkable thing to see the slow and steady character development for Natsume. Looking at the franchise as a whole it really stands out. This season was good for taking a look at the people around Natsume more and how he fits into their lives.
6. Boku no Hero Academia (Spring)
I expect to see this series in the top 10 list as well for quite a few years going forward. This was the first season of what will be a good franchise. Bones did a good job adapting the source material and getting the ball rolling. I also like the setting for this story. It is a world where 80% of people have some form of super power (a quirk). This has made superheroes a literal profession that is government regulated. The story follows Izuku who starts out as one of the 20% powerless people who eventually starts on the path to becoming a hero. Izuku is a kid who a hero fan, but always had to struggle with his powerless reality. The main characters were good, the action is really good, and the music especially stands out. This show deserves its spot on this list.
5. ReLIFE (Summer)
Into the top 5 we go! ReLife is another show I was heavily anticipating. What I didn’t anticipate was that the show would be released entirely in one day…Covering this show was a kind of marathon that I probably wouldn’t want to go through again. Still, the show itself was really good. ReLife has a crazy premise, but if you can accept it then the show is a great one. The main character has a past that is heavy enough that I think most of us would struggle in his shoes. It is a show that hits hard with a look at the dark side of working in a company. I did enjoy seeing how Kaizaki both grows during this show and how he helps the teenagers around him. ReLIFe is a strong show with good characters, nice developing romances, and a focus on how people need help to heal.
4. ERASED – Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Winter)
This is a show that I’m really glad I went into blind. While some people had issues with the adaptation from manga to anime, I didn’t have to worry about that. Instead I was just pulled into a really serious and well told story. It was a great ride going through this show and watching Satoru try to solve the mysteries surrounding him. The story doesn’t hold back and goes pretty intense from the very beginning. There is some time travel, murder, twists, intense scenes and a legitimately moving narrative. So many times I expected one thing to happen and then something else would catch me by surprise. From start to finish I was pulled in and was invested in seeing how things turned out. The start was strong and I think the finish was strong as well.
3. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (Winter)
This was a show that did catch me offguard in how good it really ended up being. While I had issues with the ending, the overall journey was really strong. We’ve seen shows where people are dropped into fantasy worlds or virtual worlds and given enough power to succeed. In this show…that’s not the case. The main cast are very regular people who are dropped into this life or death fantasy hell. No revives and no flashy, but painless deaths. The characters in this show have to kill monsters in bloody fights in order to survive. What made this show work was the weight it attached to everything. There was a physical and emotional cost throughout the show. I was really invested in the journey of these characters and what happened to them.
2. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Spring)
I don’t think anyone is surprised to see this show in my top 10 list. White Fox did a spectacular job with this series. Anything they needed in order to adapt the material to the highest level they could…they did. They started off with an hour long first episode (I wish some more shows would). Any time the show needed to cut the opening or ending sequence they did. The animation was good, the story was well told and it was an emotional ride. Subaru’s incredible adventure in this fantasy world was truly compelling. The lead gets a great power to rewind time upon his death, but the show always makes that have a heavy price. Dying sucks and this show makes that point clear. The last quarter and some choices made did drop this show just slightly for me and that kept it to only 2nd on this list.
1. Hibike! Euphonium 2 (Fall)
You did not accidentally click on the 2015 list. Yes, Hibike! Euphonium is my top anime of the year. In some ways I think season 2 was even better than the first season which gave it a great chance to claim the top spot once more. And I honestly think it deserves this spot on my list. The character development for the main character Kumiko just went up another level in this season. Just about everything that had been built up or hinted at for her character in the first season was developed here. Kumiko had more emotional challenges this season. She rose to the challenge and I really enjoyed seeing that. We also learned a lot more about characters like Asuka and got to see the cast challenge themselves musically. This is a beautiful show with outstanding visuals. My top anime of 2016.
And that is my top 10 list for 2016. I have no doubt that people have disagreements with shows that ended up on this list or where they ranked. But again this is simply my personal top 10 list and trust me that it took some time to really decide what shows would end up where.
There are shows that just finished outside the top 10 that I still want to acknowledge. The second season of Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has been really strong. Tales of Zestiria the X was a beautiful show. I didn’t care for the game, but this pulled me in. Macross Delta was a show with some flaws, but I still really enjoyed it. There was good action, some emotional moments in the first half especially and the music was really good. My currently blogging show Sousei no Onmyouji while having some flaws has still been something I’ve enjoyed talking about weekly. And Flip Flappers really surprised me with how good it was and how you could really dig into the symbolism. It barely avoided getting on my top 10 list.
2016 was a lot better than I actually thought it was while going through the year. A remarkably balanced top 10 list with every season getting at least 2 shows that I really enjoyed. Fall and Winter were the standouts though with getting 3 shows each in the top 10 and more series that just fell outside of it. While I’ll miss the great shows of 2016, I’m very excited for what 2017 might offer. There have been a lot of announced shows that I’m excited to watch. Hopefully when it is time for the 2017 list I have an even harder time because the quality was too good.
Tags: 2016 Anime, Boku no Hero Academia, Brave Witches, ERASED - Boku dake ga Inai Machi, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!!, Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, Hibike! Euphonium 2, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, Natsume Yuujinchou Go, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, ReLIFE, Top Anime of 2016
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