Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Now that 2016 is ending, let’s take a look back at some of the best anime of the year. If you’re looking for something new to watch, or you’re debating what to rewatch for fun, check out my suggestions. The order of this list isn’t set in stone, but it should give you a good idea of the must-watch anime of the year. I have always been a huge fan of anime, and I’m constantly looking for new things to watch since I devour series the second I like them. Looking over my favorites, it’s amazing just how many anime I found that genuinely touched my heart this year. I hope you enjoy them just as much. 10. HAVEN’T YOU HEARD? I’M SAKAMOTO (SAKAMOTO DESU GA?) So cool! It’s Sakamoto, haven’t you heard? Sakamoto is cool to the point of ridiculousness, and hilariously perfect. However, he gets into some incredibly strange situations. At one point, he pretends to be possessed by a fox spirit to bring his classmates closer together, and that’s just in the second episode. Sakamoto’s aloof nature helps him coolly navigate difficult or annoying social situations, and his skills make all his classmates respect him. This is a great comedy to watch if you need a laugh and aren’t interested in anything particularly heavy. It has just enough plot to keep viewers interested in its characters and story, and just enough bizarre “gag comic” elements to make it stand out among the comedic anime this year. Plus, the animation is pretty easy on the eyes, and so is Sakamoto *wink*. Available on: Crunchyroll, The Anime Network. 9. ORANGE The gang’s all here ORANGE is a sort of coming-of-age story that deals with friendship, depression, and pseudo-time travel. The premise of this series is that the main character, Naho, receives a letter from her future self describing what happens to a new transfer student named Kakeru. She doesn’t believe it at first, but sure enough, the events in the letter start to happen. In order to clear her future self of regrets, and to ultimately save Kakeru, Naho decides to trust the letter. I love the way the concept of “time-travel” is used in ORANGE. Unlike in other anime where characters might relive the past or control time, time-travel here is only through the letters. Naho and her friends react to them pretty realistically, too. They initially approach the letters with skepticism. And even when they decide to trust what they say, they can’t always act according to how their future selves suggest. Overall, this anime is a very touching story of growth and interpersonal relationships. If you’re hankering for some feels, this is the place to get them. Available on: Crunchyroll. READ: Are you a fan of BOOM! Studios? Check out this article on their best comics from 2016! 8. YURI!!! ON ICE The Grand Prix Final Skaters! YURI!!! ON ICE quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, thrilling anime fans and professional figure skaters alike. Nationally-recognized skater Evgenia Medvedeva is famously obsessed with the show, so much so that Mitsurou Kubo, the manga artist herself, took notice and even drew Medvedeva alongside the character Viktor Nikiforov. Yeah, that happened. There’s plenty of reason for the excitement. The anime centers around Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki and his idol-turned-coach Viktor Nikiforov. After placing dead last at the Grand Prix Figure Skating Final, Yuri takes a break after graduating college and heads home to Hasetsu. He ends up performing one of Viktor’s routines, and his childhood friend’s kids put it online. It quickly goes viral and even gets Viktor’s attention. Suddenly, Viktor is at Yuri’s hot spring home (very naked), offering to be Yuri’s coach. I love this show because it does everything it can to highlight a beautifully healthy relationship between two people who want the best for each other. There’s nothing more refreshing than a strangers-to-lovers story. If you’re up for story of mutual support and romance, try it out. Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation. 7. KISS HIM, NOT ME! (WATASHI GA MOETE DOSUNDA) Want to know how a fujoshi handles her own love life? Check out KISS HIM, NOT ME! If you don’t know what a fujoshi is, you’ll definitely know by the end of the first episode. “Fujoshi” are anime fangirls that indulge in Boys Love (BL) manga and/or yaoi. Kae Serinuma is one of them. Now, the bad blood between fujoshi and social activists is an ongoing issue; the fetishization of gay couples is not something to be celebrated, especially considering the lack of LGBTQ positive laws in Japan. That being said, compared to other shoujo manga, this story is a lot more forgivable. The trends in shoujo manga can be incredibly repetitive and boring. The heroines are often cookie cutter generic schoolgirls with little individual personality. In contrast, the characters of KISS HIM, NOT ME are quite unique. Serinuma, the main heroine, is honest about her anime obsessions, and doesn’t conceal her fangirl outbursts to impress her newfound love interests. Her love interests themselves have striking personalities as well. While they might seem to fall into certain reverse-harem tropes, those roles aren’t overemphasized. They’re all unique people who happen to like the same girl. Also, though this doesn’t make up for any of the anime’s faults (in terms of LGBTQ+ issues), I personally appreciate that it shows a girl, Nishina, crushing on Serinuma in addition to a group of boys. Not only that, but the guys competing for Serinuma consider Nishina a legitimate rival for Serinuma’s heart. They don’t dismiss her because “she’s a girl and girls don’t date girls” (insert sarcasm), nor do they fetishize any of her actions with Serinuma for their pleasure. If you’re interested in a reverse-harem shoujo anime that’s a step in the right direction, this is the show for you. Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation. CLICK: Are you ready for ROGUE ONE? Check out our review if you’re still debating whether or not to go! 6. JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: DIAMOND IS UNBREAKABLE I was dragged into this anime by friends and now I can never escape. Before I sing its praises, I’ll acknowledge one huge problem with JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: you have to watch the first three seasons of the series to get the complete JOJO experience. That might be intimidating, but the best part of this anime is getting to know each generation of the Joestars. Watching from the beginning also helps to clarify each subsequent season’s plot. The main character of this season, Josuke Higashitaka, is the 16-year-old illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar, whose grandson, Jotaro Kujo, is 28. So, a 16-year-old boy is the uncle of a 28-year-old, which is only a small part of the anime’s ridiculousness. In parts 3 and 4 of JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE, the characters develop powers called “stands.” Stands are essentially the manifestation of someone’s fighting spirit. (To understand more about where these powers come from, you need to watch the previous seasons.) DIAMOND IS UNBREAKABLE focuses on Josuke and his stand Crazy Diamond. He and his friends encounter other stand users in his small town of Morioh, which usually results in a battle. Eventually, he makes allies with many of them (after fighting them), and uncovers a mystery about a murderous stand user. It’s practically impossible for me to highlight all the things I love about this anime. There is something amazing about tracing the lineage of one family from 18th century England all the way to 21st century Japan, knowing all the family members’ personalities and looking at how they are similar or different. Honestly, you would have to make a project out of watching this series, but if you can stomach it, it’s definitely worth the watch. Available on: Crunchyroll. 5. ERASED (BOKU DAKE GA INAI MACHI) These poor children… Looking for a time-travel thriller? Watch ERASED. The premise of this anime is that Satoru Fujinuma, a 29 year old manga artist, has the ability to go back in time. He usually only travels back a few minutes at most, but after his mother’s murder, he goes back 18 years to inhabit his 11 year-old body. He finds himself trying to uncover the mystery of the child murder-kidnappings that took place at his elementary school, in order to prevent his mother’s murder in the present and to save the killer’s victims. Soon, he has his friend group fiercely protecting one of the girls who was originally killed, Kayo Hinazuki. This anime had me on the edge of my seat practically every episode. Not only is time-travel mystery solving interesting in and of itself, but there’s something that gnaws at you while watching children put in these tense situations. Yes, Satoru is technically a 29 man, but the whole time you can’t help but worry, “this kid is going to get himself killed.” This anime filled me with righteous anger and so, so, so much satisfaction. It also made me wonder how I would do things if I was suddenly thrown back into elementary school again. Overall, ERASED has wonderful animation, a compelling storyline, and a very satisfying ending (even if it’s slightly different from the manga’s). Check it out. Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation. LOOK: Remember TEEN TITANS? Get ready for some nostalgia with this article by Eesha Rashid! 4. ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM Look at these badass kids! ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM is a comedic shounen anime about a middle school class’ mission to assassinate the yellow-tentacled monster who blew up 70% of the Earth’s moon. If they succeed, the government promises to pay out 10 billion yen, as the monster plans to destroy the Earth in one year. The monster, affectionately nicknamed “Koro-sensei” (as a pun on “korosu,” meaning “to kill”), promised the Japanese government a shot at killing him as long as he could teach Class E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School for a year, and despite his threat to destroy the planet, he’s an incredibly dedicated teacher. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Class E classroom is far removed from the main school building. The principal of the school actually maintains a rigid hierarchy with Class E at the bottom. His belief is that with the threat of social and academic exile at the bottom, the rest of the students will climb higher. The second season highlights this battle between Kunugigaoka’s underdogs and the principal’s prized students in Class A. However, Koro-sensei’s amazing teaching skills are giving these kids confidence, self-love, and a fighting chance against the school that hates them. The first season of this anime absolutely blew me away with its variety of characters. It gave equal weight and time to each student and showed their relationships developing over time. The once hopeless Class E really came together in a loving attempt to murder their teacher. Season 2 expands on this bizarre but touching relationship, and starts to reveal Koro-sensei’s more logical motivations. Nothing is more satisfying than watching these underdogs get the upper hand on their snobby classmates, and even on adult assassins trying to kill their teacher. It’s hard to convey just how amazing this anime is without spoiling anything, but trust me when I say you just might find yourself sobbing a couple of times throughout season 2. Available on: Funimation, Crunchyroll (only Season 1). 3. OCCULTIC; NINE Looks a bit like PERSONA… If you watched and enjoyed STEINS;GATE, you should definitely try OCCULTIC;NINE, as it’s by the same author. But even if you didn’t enjoy STEINS;GATE, like me, you should still try OCCULTIC;NINE. This paranormal science fiction anime follows Yuta Gamon in his hometown Kichijoji. Yuta runs a blog called “Kiri Kiri Basara,” which is a website that spreads news about the occult (in a humorous way). Quickly, Yuta finds himself embroiled in a dark mystery involving the murder of Professor Hashigami, an expert in studying the occult as a science. He and his growing friend group fall deeper into this bloody mystery, and have no choice but to uncover it to find their way out. OCCULTIC;NINE makes the third spot because of it’s unconventional storytelling and incredibly interesting plot. The scenes happen so fast, and not much is explained in the beginning, but slowly, across the episodes, things start to make more sense. It’s cool how the viewer learns things almost at the same time as the characters do. Plus, the blending of science fiction and the paranormal is so cool. As things progress and the main characters find out more about their mystery, they discover scientific explanations for the paranormal. If you’re into mystery, science, the occult, and some confusion, try this anime out. It’s unlike anything I’ve watched before. Available on: Crunchyroll. READ: Calling all ONE-PUNCH MAN fans! Do you think the series is more than just a comedic parody? 2. MY HERO ACADEMIA (BOKU NO HERO ACADEMIA) Look at these kids in their hero outfits! These super-powered high schoolers are ready to save the world! MY HERO ACADEMIA is one of those classic superhero comics bursting with color that we all love. In the world of the series, most humans have evolved to develop abilities called “quirks.” These quirks can range from super strength to exploding sweat to engine legs. The powers are a little strange, admittedly, but it breaks from the monotony of the same powers all the time. The series focuses primarily on Izuku Midoriya, an initially quirkless kid. He has no special powers, but wants to become the #1 hero like his idol, All Might. One day, he actually gets the attention of All Might trying to save his childhood friend (and bully) Katsuki Bakugou. Shockingly, All Might is able to pass his powers on, and chooses Izuku to be his successor. There’s a clear common thread to the anime I pick, since I will once again say that these kids and their unique and developed personalities are awesome. Each of them are given time in the spotlight to develop, even Izuku’s rival Bakugou. They all struggle to improve and change themselves, no matter how strong their quirks may be. Unlike other superhero shows, these kids’ powers don’t solve their problems. In fact, their strength can hinder their personal growth. For example, Izuku’s childhood bully Bakugou finds himself at a roadblock when he can’t reconcile Izuku’s newfound power and confidence with his own perceived strength. MY HERO ACADEMIA is a wonderfully realistic interpretation of how high school superheroes in training would interact and grow in the face of adversity and each other. Available on: Funimation, Hulu, AnimeLab (AUS). 1. MOB PSYCHO 100 Welcome, Shigeo Kageyama, or “Mob,” the natural esper with incredible psychic powers. MOB PSYCHO 100 is written by the same mangaka as ONE PUNCH MAN. However, even if the art looks similar, the stories are pretty different. Mob is an unassuming middle school boy whose nickname literally means “lacking presence.” Ironically, this is his story. Mob has overwhelming psychic abilities that are influenced by his emotional state. If his emotions push to, or even past, 100%, his full psychic potential is released, which can be disastrous. Mob is the sweetest person and does not abuse his psychic power, thanks to the lessons of his mentor Reigen Arataka (who actually doesn’t have any powers). To learn more about Reigen, check out my previous article on him! As I suggested before, Mob isn’t your typical hot-blooded shounen hero. For the most part, he’s a pacifist. He believes it’s wrong to use his powers against others, and that psychic abilities are just like other talents. However, he comes into conflict with other espers that believe the opposite, and he is forced to fight to protect the ones he loves. My favorite thing about Mob is his striking convictions despite his gentle demeanor. It turns the aggressive shounen protagonist trope on its head, and shows how different types of people can be heroes. This show is my number one because of just how lovable Mob is. He is such a pure, wonderful person who is trying to grow in the right way. He is almost completely without arrogance or pompousness, and the other characters are drawn to him because of that. I highly recommend this anime, as it will satisfy your thirst for gorgeous animation, thrilling fight scenes, and tear-jerking friendships. Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation.