I’m kind of surprised that the end of 2022 has already arrived. The end of this year kind of crept up on me to the point where suddenly it was time to write about my top 10 shows of the year. But it is nice to look back and confirm that anime remains great in any given year. There are always a few shows that I love and 2022 didn’t change anything in that regard. It was a challenge like most years to narrow down my favourites to only the top 10. Even if some shows disappoint or some seasons are a bit weak, there are usually going to be a few shows that will keep my love of this entertainment medium alive.
As always this is just a list of the shows that I enjoyed the most this year. I’m sure a few of the series here won’t be anywhere near the top 10 for others and that’s fine. In the end we’re just having a good time watching shows. I wouldn’t mind hearing what others had in their own top 10 lists if anyone wants to drop a few shows that didn’t make it here. And if there are a few shows that did resonate then it’d be nice to celebrate those as well.
10. Machikado Mazoku: 2-Choume (Spring)
I was glad when this season was announced. And I’m all the happier to say that it was a great ride and earned a top 10 spot for me. It truly felt as if this season was one of constant development. The status quo wasn’t left frozen from where it was at the end of season 1. Instead, the growth of Shadow Mistress Yuko has gone in interesting directions. And of course, I’m happy to see that Momo continued to mature as a character as well. It was fun to watch her get more attached to Yuko and lose her cool at times. I didn’t necessarily love all the new characters added this season, but the main cast remained so strong that it didn’t really matter. This story about a Demon Girl finding her way in the world remained enjoyable from start to finish.
9. Boku no Hero Academia S6 (Fall)
It wasn’t clear to me whether this season would end up in my top 10 or not. Boku no Hero has had some ups and downs the past few seasons for me. It has always managed to maintain a level of being good, but I wasn’t sure if it would ever appeal to me like it did in the first couple seasons. And while it isn’t very high on this top 10 list, it deserved to be on it. This season was the most engaging that the series has been in a while. It has stayed focused on one major event. That one event given the attention it deserves. Some heroes like Mirko only just started to really stand out this season while others are continuing their overall developments. And that goes for the villains as well.
This season feels like a status quo shifting one and that does fill me with hope for the future of this franchise. Things are getting interesting and I’m glad to be excited about this series again.
8. Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu (Winter)
There are some shows that thrive thanks to their animation and some that thrive even when that isn’t a strength of their series. I won’t say that Tensai Ouji was one of the best-looking shows of the season. At times I don’t think they could even muster having a real OP. But the characters and the story elevated it. Wein and Ninym were one of my favourite couples of the year. They truly care about each other and showed it with how they would absolutely snap when the other was insulted. I think the tactics and the brutality in the show gave it a sort of charm that other series couldn’t quite match. It mattered to me how things were playing out for that main pair. Wein was living an entertaining life.
7. My Dress-Up Darling (Winter)
This is a show that I think deserved all the popularity it got this past year. It can be fun to be introduced to a hobby that you personally don’t know that much about. And that was the case for me and this show. I know about cosplay in general, but it’s never been a major focus for me. So, it was fun seeing Marin and Gojou explore that hobby and grow closer along the way. They are both likable characters which made it easy to see how their relationship developed. Marin is a bundle of energy and avoids being too perfect as a main heroine. But Gojou also finds a nice balance. The guy has his own series of triumphs while making mistakes too. The supporting cast was strong, and I’ll enjoy the second season when we get it.
I could see this show being the anime of the year for a lot of people and I wouldn’t criticize that choice.
6. Spy x Family (Spring)
This is an adaptation that had me excited from the moment it was announced. I enjoyed what I read of the manga and was ready to see the Forger family show off their stuff. And they didn’t disappoint. Loid, Yor, and Anya made for a strong core in a show that I’m enjoying even while writing this post. The show is heavy on comedy and that’s fine since I honestly enjoyed the comedic side of it. But the show does know when to get serious and how far it can take things. All three of the Forger family have their talents and their secrets. There was just something heartwarming about seeing these three that have suffered in their own ways coming together as a family. I’m sure there will be many more seasons of Spy x Family and I look forward to enjoying them when they come out.
5. One Piece Film: Red (Fall)
It’s great when an anime movie just blows me away and works itself into my top 10. I’ve enjoyed the One Piece movies in general. But this one was something special. It wasn’t just seeing it in theaters, but the actual adventure was one that I’m going to look back on fondly for a while. The buildup to this movie came in those special One Piece episodes earlier in the year, but nothing really prepared me to enjoy this movie as much as I did. Uta was a great star and core of this film. Her journey as a character along with how she interacted with Luffy just worked for me. It made me care about what was happening to her and those around her.
The focus stayed firmly on Uta which was a good move since a movie only has so much time to tell a story. Spreading the focus too wide just wouldn’t work. I suppose how much people love active singing in their anime will impact how they feel about this. But I love Symphogear so this much singing was just fine by me. And wow the singing was legitimately great. Ado really wow’d me when it came to handling Uta’s singing voice. This movie easily earned a top 5 spot.
4. Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Ultra Romantic (Spring)
I was thrilled to have Kaguya-sama back and this season didn’t disappoint. The story has continued to build up over time and season 3 took those developments to another level. One thing I did really like about this season though is the willingness to continue adding to the supporting cast. At this point a lot of series would lock it down and focus on just the characters already there. But this season gave a lot of focus to characters like Shijo Maki who at times stole the show just thanks to their antics. And the conclusion to this season gave itself all the spectacle that it deserved.
And yet I’m also really excited for the future of this franchise. We’ve got a movie to anticipate next year and there will be undoubtedly more seasons ahead of us. There is still more story to tell in adapting this manga. I can’t wait to praise this series more in the future.
3. Lycoris Recoil (Summer)
I’m always hopeful that anime-original series will impress, but I also know that it can be tough for that to happen. I was happy to be surprised by Lycoris Recoil. I was quick to enjoy the antics of both Chisato and Takina. It was the kind of partnership that was just fun to watch. You could imagine how certain character arcs would play out, but seeing it happen was still enjoyable. And honestly there were parts I couldn’t predict and had me a bit worried how things would turn out. The show got me invested in ways that not a lot of shows did this year. Each episode was an adventure and it built up to what I considered to be a satisfying conclusion.
There’s a lot of reasons that this was a top 3 show for me. But one major reason was simply that the show reminded me why anime original series can be some of the most fun.
2. Princess Connect! Re:Dive S2 (Winter)
I may be the only one putting this season so high, but I honestly feel it’s earned. Princess Connect had a good first season. It was fun, ridiculous, and mixed in some good emotional hits along the way. And that is still true with the sequel. The show knows how to switch between being comedic and dramatic at the right times. And this season really got those things right. There was seemingly a green light given to just take everything to another level in the second season. The visuals and action look even better than a pretty good first season. The drama also was really hyped up with things getting dark and intense as the climax approached.
Season 2 really impressed me with how it interacted with its source material and created something valuable for both anime-only viewers and those who play the mobile game. I just really love this cast of characters. The Gourmet Guild especially are just characters I want to see succeed and overcome the challenges in their path. They are worth watching.
1. Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Fall)
There are times when I start losing hope in terms of remakes and sequels. It just seems easy to be let down by shows coming back and not living up to what came before. Bleach instantly avoided that category from the very first episode of this Blood War. The return of Bleach has been nothing short of fantastic. Just about every episode has been bringing it in one way or another. The action, animation, music, drama, etc have just kept me engaged every week. This is just the first part of what is going to be a long return for Bleach. And what’s wild is that I fully expect this sequel to appear in a couple more top 10 lists as the show takes its time in returning.
But there’s no question to me that Bleach is my top show of the season. It manages to respect the feelings of nostalgia that people have for Bleach and yet still manages to give arguably the best showing of Bleach ever. I’m excited to see where this story goes. For me nothing quite compared to how great Bleach has proven to be. Easy top spot for 2022.
Will just add a few extra categories here:
My Best Male Lead: Kurosaki Ichigo (BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War)
My Best Female Lead: Karyl (Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2)
My Best Couple: Wein x Ninym (Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu)
My Biggest Surprise Success: Lycoris Recoil
My Biggest Disappointment: Yuusha, Yamemasu
This year did have some struggles for me personally so I’m glad that anime came through for me once again. I’m honestly happy that the return of Bleach was such a success. And it’s kind of nice that with it being split up that it will be a great show to enjoy going into 2023 as well. It’s not every year that an anime original that wows me like Lycoris Recoil will happen. But 2022 reminded me how much fun it is when a show surprises you like that.
One trend I’m enjoying is the presence of anime movies in local theatres. That hasn’t happened that much over the years, but 2022 feels like a change in that regard. My biggest issue with anime movies has been the wait. Those movies will come out in Japan and several months later we might get them on BD or…not. But if we can start getting more of these movies in theatres then I can get more excited when anime movies are announced. If nothing else, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero and One Piece: Red showed how much fun it can be to watch these films in a movie theatre.
I hope people had fun reading my thoughts on the past year. This year had a good mix of shows and I think a lot of fans got something they could love out of it. Here’s hoping that anime keeps going strong into 2023 and beyond. And I also hope to learn a bit more about the recently announced new Symphogear project. Fingers crossed that’ll be something I can really get excited about.
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