If there was ever a year to be an anime fan, 2016 was it. Dozens of new series flooded the airwaves, some brand-new and others returning in some shape or form. The amount of sheer quality the anime realm borough out forth in the past year not only outweighed the bad; it completely made a mockery out of the rest of the entertainment world. (Hell, the amount of really bad anime that I personally watched I can count with just one hand!)
With that in mind, the harrowing task of picking out the ten best anime of 2016 needs to be done quite carefully. At the same time, it would appear that I will be forced to make some very painful cuts in the long run. And believe me: there will some favorites of mine that I loved that will sadly have to not place on this list. Now that this has been all said & done, let us count down our top new favorite anime of 2016!
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here are those of Evan Bourgault, and not of Boston Bastard Brigade in its entirety.
Kozue Amano (ARIA) has a real knack for creating some of the most serene moments in both anime and manga. Her most recent manga Amanchu! finally hit the small screen in 2016, with a tale of scuba diving and friendship between Pikari and Teko. The end result is an incredibly touching slice-of-life series filled with laughs, heart, and some pure sincerity. Even when an episode was literally about nothing, Amanchu! managed to keep us entertained with the friends' occasionally goofy antics. When you needed a break from the more action-packed shows of the summer season, Amanchu! was there to lend you an inner tube and a calming sea brook to coast along.
Amanchu! can be viewed on Crunchyroll.
9: Izetta: The Last Witch
Alternate history can be a tough thing to do, but Aija-do Animation Works' Izetta: The Last Witch brought to the table a beautiful (and often action-filled) tale of a princess and witch out to save their country. The World War II elements brought forth some chilling comparisons to the real fight and struggle, while sprinkling a surprisingly good amount of magic to both Princess Finé and Izetta. While the show struggled a bit in the middle to jam so much back story, the finale between Izetta and White Witch clone Sophie proved to be a gorgeous in-flight battle that led towards the finest WWII what-if scenario since Inglorious Basterds.
8: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
The Spring Season brought us two characters of complete opposites: a student who could do anything (Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto), and a student who went out of his way to do nothing (Tanaka-kun is Always Listless). The former's joke wore off too fast, leaving it to become one of the worst shows of 2016. Meanwhile, watching Tanaka-kun find new ways to laze about every week proved to be a laugh-out-loud riot at every turn. Be it at school, the poolside, the mall, or even at home, Tanaka-kun is Always Listless showcased a new level of hilarity, even when our main protagonist would rather not put in the effort to do so.
7: Magical Girl Raising Project
And you thought Puella Magi Madoka Magica was dark?! How about forcing young female heroes to fight each other to the death? That's what happened with Magical Girl Raising Project, a series that made you scream obscenities at every turn as your favorite character bites the dust. While the ending was somewhat mediocre, the journey to see Snow White, Ripple, Winterprison, and (worst girl ever!!!) Swim Swim fight to survive kept viewers on the edge of their seats. (Oh, and did we mention how much we hate Fav? Seriously, even Kyubey would've smacked some sense into that asshole!)
Magical Girl Raising Project can be viewed on Crunchyroll.
6: Flying Witch
Izetta wasn't the only witch who won our hearts this year, as Flying Witch brought to the foray the most comfy anime of the year. Witch-in-training Makoto adjusts to her surroundings while the young cousin Chinatsu stares fascinated by the new magic in her life. In a vein similar to Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service, Makoto journey both in and out the world of witchcraft was simply a joy to watch unfold from start to finish. A show about the magic of everyday life, Flying Witch was a calming spell book filled with charm, humor, and warmth at every corner. Just be wary if Makoto says she wants to present you with a gift...
5: Mob Psycho 100
After last year's hit One-Punch Man, ONE's other off-the-wall series Mob Psycho 100 was brought to life by Studio BONES (Soul Eater, Eureka Seven). The story of Mob and his battle both psychically and emotionally was presented in this year's most unique visual style. Even its battles were showcased in the most jaw-dropping of fashions, balanced perfectly with some of this year's funniest (and often relatable) situations regarding love and friendship. (And don't forget about Reigen, one of the funniest con artists anime has brought us in years!) Mob Psycho 100 was proof that lightning could strike twice for a creator, as it delivered both insane action and hilarity in one weird-looking package.
4: Yuri!!! On ICE
I hate figure skating, but Yuri!!! On ICE had my attention from its gorgeous opening scene to the final scene of Yuri & Viktor doing paired skating. Director Sayo Yamamoto (Michiko E Hatchin, Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine) and Studio MAPPA (Terror in Resonance) handcrafted this year's most talked-out show, with the aid of some amazing animation and realistic character development. It also did the best job with normalizing LGBT characters in anime probably since we were first introduced to Sailor Uranus & Neptune nearly two decades ago, doing so without straying away from the importance of Yuri's path to a major comeback. Often funny and touching, Yuri!!! On ICE is a near-perfect score for both storytelling and character growth. (Plus, it washed the bad taste Blades of Glory left in my mouth nearly a decade ago!)
Do you desire wanton violence, unexpected humor, and one badass soundtrack? Kouta Hirano's (Hellsing) DRIFTERS is there for you, with its alt-history take on famous figures murdering the living crap out of one another for the sake of a magical world! Hoods Animation perfectly brought Hirano's visual style to this adaptation, sometimes reaching levels of detail often saved for OVAs. Smart, gory as hell, and unabashedly silly (especially with the scene-stealing Count Saint-Germi), DRIFTERS was THE hardcore anime of choice this year! We honestly cannot wait for when the second season arrives in 20XX!
Would Hinazuki be okay? Who was the murderer? Will Satoru be able to clear his name? Every week, the wait for these and other answers ran through viewers minds as ERASED delivered one of the finest examples of anime mystery & suspense in years! The tale of Satoru leaping back to adolescence to prevent three murders from happening had practically everyone unable to guess what was about to happen next. Yes, it stumbled a bit after the murderer's reveal, but in the end ERASED gave us one of the most satisfying conclusions seen in just about any form of media. If only America had the balls to craft a cartoon as serious and thought-provoking as this...
1: KonoSuba: God's blessing on this wonderful world!
The plot device involving an average joe going to a magical world has been done to death. However, when presented properly, it raises the golden standard for the genre. KonoSuba: God's blessing on this wonderful world! wasn't just the funniest anime of 2016, but the funniest series the television industry gave us. A perfect mixture of Blackadder and Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, KonoSuba gave us the story of four dickheads hacking and slashing their way through a pre-Renaissance world. From Kazuma's douchebaggery and Aqua's dumb party tricks to Megumin's explosions and Darkness's sadomasochism, the adaptation of Natsume Akatsuki's light novel series brought in the year's biggest laughs and most quotable one-liners. If you haven't dived into KonoSuba yet, get on it! After all, Season Two starts very, very soon!
KonoSuba: God's blessing on this wonderful world! can be viewed on Crunchyroll.
- Sweetness & Lightning - widowed father/daughter bonding over cooking, with warm feelings abound
- ReLIFE - a man gets the chance to go back to high school, and finds out class isn't as easy as it would seem to be
- Kiss Him, Not Me! - Beautiful girl has guys wanting to date her, but hilariously would rather see them date each other
- My Hero Academia - a fun, action-y spin on the superhero genre
- momokuri - two cute kids fall in love, friends want them to burn in a fire
- WWW.WAGNARIA!! - service with a laugh, and then some
- KEIJO!!!!!!!! - fan-service for sport, but presented in a very witty way
- NEW GAME! - cute girls make a video game, and funny stuff happens
- ...screw it! Just about anything that wasn't either Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto or March Comes In Like a Lion!
Agree or disagree with our list? Comment below with your thoughts and favorites of 2016!
Promotional consideration provided by Crunchyroll.