Here’s a post that has both more and less to do with 2016 than you might think. Those of you who read my blog already know that I tend to review older shows and avoid seasonal ones. That’s not to say I’ll never watch the more recent shows. I will, soon. But since I avoid anime as they’re airing, the shows I watched in 2016 are not really from 2016 with the exception of Durarara Ketsu.
Still, I thought I’d do a round-up post, mostly because I’m a sucker for lists.
…you wouldn’t believe the amount of time I spent on this thing.
Guilty Crown, Mirai Nikki, Darker Than Black, Elfen Lied, Black Butler, Baccano, Fate Zero, Death Parade, Tokyo Ghoul, Claymore, Psycho Pass, Blue Exorcist, Trinity Blood, Akame ga Kill, Prince of Tennis, Uraboku, Attack on Titan, Tactics, Hataraku Maou-sama, Noragami, No.6, Parasyte, Nabari no Ou, Pandora Hearts, Durarara, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Mnemosyne, Brynhildr in the Darkness, Shiki, Toward The Terra, Terror in Resonance
Highschool of the Dead (3 eps), God Eater (1 ep)
Should’ve Dropped (4)
Guilty Crown, Mirai Nikki, Tactics, Samurai Deeper Kyo
Top 5 Anime
Honorable mentions: Shiki, Black Butler, Parasyte, Mnemosyne, Terror in Resonance
05 Prince of Tennis
I haven’t watched a lot of sports anime but I am very interested in the genre, mostly thanks to Prince of Tennis. It’s ridiculously long and the animation of the early episodes is shitty but it’s also one of my all time favorite anime. What makes PoT so memorable and fun is its highly unrealistic tennis that only gets more so as the series progresses.
I reviewed the two seasons of this anime recently and it’s obvious that I have a very high opinion of Durarara. With a distinctive kind of storytelling and a huge cast of unique characters, Durarar is one of those shows that drag you into a bottomless pit of pure entertainment. Set in the city of Ikebukuro, this anime shows the tales of its many inhabitants and their intersecting lives.
03 Psycho Pass
This is a show set in a futuristic society where Japan has succeeded in eliminating crime and crafting a peaceful society by means of a sentient technology that measures people’s potential to commit crime. I like utopian/dystopian stories and Psycho Pass’s exploration of its outwardly ideal society and its dark side makes for one of the most engaging tales I’ve ever read.
02 Fate Zero
Like many others, I first encountered this franchise via Fate Stay Night. But as much as I liked it, its prequel Fate Zero is about ten times better in terms of characters and plot. Battle royale with lives at stake can never be dull but this anime takes it to a whole other level. My favorite part is the clash of ideals of the main Master-Servant duo and its downright depressing conclusion.
01 Attack on Titan
I’ve made no secret of my love for Attack on Titan. I have this tendency to get sucked into certain stories and AoT is the latest subject of my fixation. Presenting a world where humanity has been forced to take shelter inside three huge walls to avoid being devoured by the eponymous titans, Attack on Titan explores the psychology of its characters in extremely compelling ways.
Top 5 Characters (Female)
05 Esdeath from Akame ga Kill
I have mixed feelings about Akame ga Kill but Esdeath is without a doubt the best part of the show. She’s not what I would call a deep or multi-dimensional character. In fact, Esdeath’s character can be summed up as ‘fucking crazy’ and left there. But despite of that, she is quite an entertaining character be it during her ruthless villain mode or smitten lovebunny mode. Every time she came onscreen, I had fun.
04 Reiko from Parasyte
Parasyte’s main flaw is its lack of fleshed out female characters but Reiko is an exception to that. This intellectually inclined parasite is one of the best in the show, second only to the main duo of Migi and Shinichi. From the beginning itself, she’s more than a typical, instinct-driven parasite and the way she is shaped by the drive to understand her own existence is fascinating as it shows how she evolves as a person.
03 Teresa from Claymore
I’ve mentioned my appreciation of Teresa before. Although she is a posthumous character in the main story of Claymore, it was her appearance in a flashback arc that really sold this anime to me. The quintessential hard-hearted warrior, Teresa is a mystery from beginning to end. Even though she softens a little in the course of the arc, we never find out a lot about her. But what we do know portray her as being the embodiment of pure badassery and that’s enough for me.
02 Annie from Attack on Titan
Yes, I picked the traitorous, murderous titan shifter over Mikasa. Annie is my fourth favorite character in AoT (after Eren, Levi and Hange) despite the little screen time she receives that’s not dedicated to brutally murdering poor scouts. She charmed me in her first appearance where she flipped over men twice her size with ease and continued to reinforce my liking with each subsequent appearance. Until Annie shows up, the world of AoT is clear-cut in terms of friend and foe. Annie, complex and conflicted, promptly throws that clarity out the window. And she’s just generally awesome.
01 Celty from Durarara
Celty is nothing like the others in this list and to be honest, it’d odd how much I love her given that I usually prefer ‘bad girls’ over the nice ones. But I can’t help it. Celty is, in a word, adorable. I just called a headless Irish fairy of death and passing ‘adorable’ – I regret nothing. Celty is a constant presence in Durarara. Even when she’s not greatly involved in the events, she exists in the periphery of it as a notable part of the lives most of Ikebukuro’s inhabitants. Everything about Celty, from her genuine kindness to her terror of aliens to the way she is so expressive even without a face, just makes me love the hell out of her.
Top 5 Characters (Male)
05 Ciel from Black Butler
I like Ciel better than Sebastian. Go figure. I’ve always been fascinated by vengeance-seeking protagonists and Ciel is right up there with the best of them. Kid signed a deal with a devil for it after all. Something that I really like about Ciel is that his revenge is not only for his lost loved ones but also for the humiliation he suffered. I find that kind of selfishness in characters realistic. His calm, matter-of-fact approach to his own impending death is rather admirable as well.
04 Makishima from Psycho Pass
I love Psycho Pass in all its aspects and that includes its characters but the top spot must go to the main antagonist, Makishima Shogo. He’s one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever come across. In a society where human desire is subjugated to logic, Makishima actively works for the sake of free will. While the methods he employs are far from ideal, you can’t deny that he’s got a few good points.
03 Ryoma from Prince of Tennis
Well, there’s no way I could have sat through the 200-something episodes of PoT unless I took a liking to its arrogant brat of a protagonist. I’m under the impression that most sports anime protags are not particularly skilled when they start their epic journey. That is most certainly not so with Ryoma since he’s prodigiously skilled from the beginning. His cockiness may grate on some but I found him and his story greatly enjoyable.
02 Oz from Pandora Hearts
Oz is a character that pleasantly surprised me. Initially, he seemed like a typical gratingly optimistic and slightly flirtatious teenage hero but it didn’t take long for a rather fucked up individual to emerge from the shiny outer shell. Laden with daddy issues and suffering from an appalling lack of self-esteem, Oz is not your everyday hero. But he does have his own charm and is a legitimately sympathetic character. His development – or rather, the beginning of his development – in the anime is nicely handled as well.
01 Eren from Attack on Titan
Yes, AoT will show up on every single list. I’m not even sorry. I absolutely adore Eren. It didn’t start out that way but by the time I finished the anime, I was utterly enamored of him. The first and foremost reason is his drive. This is a kid who’s been dealt a shit hand by life. Every time he gets back up, only to be knocked down again but he still keeps coming right back. He’s not perfect. He’s violent, temperamental, a little crazy and has a predilection towards a black and white world-view. He’s also kind, curious, determined and loyal. All of these traits combine to make up one hell of a dynamic character.
Top 5 Ops
Honorable mentions: Blue Requiem (Samurai Deeper Kyo), Jiyuu No Tsubasa (Attack on Titan), To the Beginning (Fate Zero), Prelude to a Revolution (New Prince of Tennis), Monochrome Kiss (Black Butler)
05 Let Me Hear from Parasyte
04 Day You Laugh from Durarara
03 Unravel from Tokyo Ghoul
02 Trigger from Terror in Resonance
01 Guren no Yumiya from Attack on Titan
Top 5 EDs
Honorable mentions: Calling (Baccano), Cause Disarray (Mnemosyne), Wired Life (Blue Exorcist), Blood Teller (Mirai Nikki), You got game (Prince of Tennis)
05 Last Theatre from Death Parade
04 Danzai no Hana from Claymore
03 Great Escape from Attack on Titan
02 Namae no nai kaibutsu from Psycho Pass
01 Utsukushiki Zankoku no Sekai from Attack on Titan
Top 5 Ships
I don’t think I’ve mentioned shipping all that much in my posts. That’s because, for the most part, I’m a passive shipper. I’m also almost always guaranteed to focus on pairings that are not and will never be canon so there’s no point in hardcore shipping anyway. But still, I enjoy basking in subtext and shit like that, and I do get pretty into some pairings so I might as well include a list of my top five ships.
Honorable mentions: Jomy/Blue (Toward the Terra), Rin/Laura (Mnemosyne), Akane/Ginoza (Psycho Pass), Decim/Chiyuki (Death Parade), Mikado/Aoba (Durarara)
05 Erika/Anri from Durarara
I was never all that convinced of Mikado and Anri as a couple but then season 2 gave us some Erika/Anri interactions, and I was sold. Well, except for that first tickle-grope scene. The subsequent interactions between the two are actually pretty sweet.
04 Esdeath/Tatsumi from Akame ga Kill
This is kinda canon, on Esdeath’s part at least. The way she becomes infatuated with Tatsumi is a bit contrived but the effects of it are priceless. It never gets tiring to see this monster of a woman dote on her beloved who always seems torn between blushing and pissing his pants. I liked the end for this reason as well.
03 Natsuno/Tohru from Shiki
Not canon but plenty of subtext on Natsuno’s part. Maybe it’s the erotic nature that’s associated with blood-sucking these days that got me into this ship but there’s plenty of emotional fodder to support them as well. Of course, it’s Shiki so everything ends in glorious hell.
02 Clare/Jean from Claymore
I’ve mentioned this pairing once in my character appreciation post. The time Clare and Jean spend together is rather brief but it sure makes an impact. Both are outwardly impassive characters with a passionate core who are determined and deeply grounded in their respective beliefs. Their interactions are a mix of humorous and charming, and the firm bond they cultivate in such short time is really something else.
01 Eren/Levi from Attack on Titan
It’s AoT again. Who’s surprised? I have a lot of ships I support in this series but Eren/Levi stands supreme. And no, it’s got nothing to do with the courtroom scene. I actually cringed throughout that scene. My reason for liking these two together is that their interactions (and I’m referring to the manga as well) portray an interesting dynamic that easily lends itself to further exploration.
Well, that’s it.
These are the anime that kept me sane in 2016. Now it’s onwards to 2017 and whatever it may bring. Happy New Year in advance, guys!
[I don’t own any of the pictures. They belong to their respective artists.]