This year, I watched a total of 56 different anime series throughout all four seasons. Narrowing down that list proved easy at first, but once I got down to fifteen, I really struggled to decide what should make it into the top ten.
However, I’ve managed to pick out ten particular highlights of this year for myself.
I’ll probably want to make changes to the list after I’ve finished writing it, but for now, this is what I’ve managed to put together.
Might as well start by mentioning some of the shows that didn’t quite make the list. I’ve enjoyed a fair few anime series this year, so here’s some shows that are worth mentioning, but didn’t quite make it on to my own personal top ten list:
Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn, Anne-Happy, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, My Hero Academia, Amanchu!, Mob Psycho 100 and Scorching Ping Pong Girls.
With the honourable mentions out of the way, let’s take a look at my top ten anime series of 2016.
10: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
Having now watched all of the fourth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, I can safely say that I like it more than the third part, Stardust Crusaders. Set in the town of Morioh, Josuke Higashikata and his friends end up investigating a serial killer.
The different Stands are just as bizarre as ever, though having it all take place in Morioh means we don’t really have much adventure. That doesn’t detract from it, though.
Josuke, Koichi and Okuyasu are great new characters, and we also see the return of Jotaro and Joseph. Joseph seems to be senile in this appearance, but he’s still as great as ever. Jotaro also works really well as a supporting character – in fact, his part 4 incarnation might just be better than his part 3 one.
The main antagonist of part 4 is definitely a highlight as well. He has a creepy obsession with hands, and is determined to live a quiet life – even though he’s a serial killer. Fortunately, his Stand helps him with that.
9: High School Fleet
So we had Girls und Panzer, which put schoolgirls in tanks. High School Fleet puts schoolgirls in battleships, and proves to be just as fun. There’s a large cast of characters keeping the Harekaze afloat, and though the focus tends to be on the bridge, you really get the sense that everyone has their own specific roles to attend to.
This show also presents us with many different types of naval warfare, which keeps the series interesting – this culminates in one spectacular final battle and a rather fitting conclusion to the series.
8: Izetta: The Last Witch
Set on the eve of the Second World War, this alternate history anime follows a witch called Izetta as she fights for the country of Eylstadt to protect it from the Germanians.
Izetta pledges her loyalty to the princess of Eylstadt, Finé. The relationship the two share is a beautiful thing, and it’s hard to see them as anything other than lovers. Izetta would do anything for her precious princess, and Finé wants to make the world a peaceful place for Izetta’s sake.
This series also shows us the horrors of war, and there are plenty of casualties throughout.
Most spectacular, though, is seeing Izetta going into battle – she is able to take a few lances and turn them into anti-tank weapons with her magic. If the situation calls for it, Izetta can use her magic to throw tanks around as if they were nothing.
The relationship between Izetta and Finé, as well as the action scenes, make this anime an enjoyable watch.
7: Love Live! Sunshine!!
This series of Love Live! shows us the formation of the school idol group Aquors. Whilst there is a bit of μ’s imitation going on at first, the characters grow out of that and realise that they need to do their own thing to truly shine as school idols.
I’ve said it before, but I collectively like Aquors more than μ’s. There’s certainly some familiar quirks to be found within the characters of Aquors, but they are all their own characters and have their own hopes and struggles. I also maintain that You is the best girl.
Also, yuri subtext is practically dialled up to just text for Aquors’ story. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning the songs are great, as well.
Keijo is a sport in which women try to push each other from a floating platform called a ‘Land’ into a pool. They can only do that by using their breasts and butts. Keijo!!!!!!!! is a truly ridiculous concept, but that’s what helps to make it what it is.
The sheer absurdity of the sport of keijo and the ridiculous techniques based around breasts and butts make for some silly, enjoyable fun. Each episode introduces a new technique that completely outdoes the previous one – this includes a few references to other anime series.
Just pure, ridiculous fun. That’s what Keijo!!!!!!!! is.
5: ViVid Strike!
A spin-off of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, set a year after it. This story introduces new characters Fuuka Reventon and Rinne Berlinetta, who decide to pursue martial arts.
Having been bullied when she was younger, Rinne pursues martial arts as a means for growing strong.
Fuuka, having grown estranged from Rinne, her childhood friend, wants to become strong enough to beat Rinne and bring back the girl she knew from their childhood.
Rinne gets put through hell, and deals out retribution in an incredibly violent yet cathartic scene. She pulls no punches when it comes to fights, either – at least one of her opponents ends up with shattered ribs.
The fights in this series have real impact to them, and it’s never made obvious who will win a fight beforehand. This is true of the major fights, at least – right up until a victor has been declared, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win.
4: NEW GAME!
It’s an anime about cute girls making video games, in a professional environment. Aoba Suzukaze is the newest employee of the Eagle Jump company, and ends up working on the Fairies Story 3 – her favourite game is Fairies Story.
It’s enjoyable watching Aoba grow as a character designer, whilst interacting with her fellow colleagues and learning from them.
There’s also something of an office romance between two of the ladies, with at least a couple of moments serving to get viewers hot under the collar. Actually, all of the characters are pretty fun in their own ways, and their interactions with each other are a joy to watch.
3: Flying Witch
Flying Witch might just be the most relaxed anime I’ve ever seen. ‘A warm blanket on a cold winter night’ is a way in which I’ve seen the show described, and I have to say that I’m inclined to agree.
Watching witch-in-training Makoto just go about her everyday life is just so soothing, even when you mix in the fantastical magic that crops up from time to time.
The highlight of the show might just come from Chinatsu, Makoto’s younger cousin who is absolutely fascinated with magic. Something about her wonderment is just so adorably charming.
If you ever just want to kick back and relax whilst watching anime, than Flying Witch is perfect for doing just that.
2: Magical Girl Raising Project
16 magical girls participate in a survival game, and only 8 can survive. It takes a little while for the girls to realise just what is at stake, but once they do the blood begins to spill.
One magical girl in particular proves to be a ruthlessly efficient killer, with a dream being the thing that sets her down that path. You also have the characters who are determined to be more typical magical girls, but they quickly learn that that mindset won’t cut it – well, for most of them, anyway.
Each of the sixteen magical girls has her own unique design and powers, which results in some interesting conflicts. There’s also some great relationships between the characters, which only makes it worse when they are killed…
1: FLIP FLAPPERS
The adventures of Papika and Cocona are pure joy. The different worlds of Pure Illusion provide some incredibly breathtaking backdrops, whether it’s a snowy landscape, a desert or a neon city. On top of that, FLIP FLAPPERS has some of the finest animation out of any series that aired in 2016.
Papika and Cocona are also great characters, who share a great relationship. Papika’s boundless energy and recklessness serves as a nice counterpoint to Cocona’s calmer nature – Papika is willing to throw herself into any new opportunity, whereas Cocona is just content to let life pass her by. Fortunately, Papika appearing before her forces her out of her comfort zone and she begins to grow as a character.
Then you also have the fact that Papika and Cocona become magical girls after a few trips into Pure Illusion – there is just so much about FLIP FLAPPERS I adore. Their transformation sequence is a straight-up reference to PreCure, with the girls even adopting the names Pure Blade and Pure Barrier.
The relationship that develops between Papika and Cocona is brilliant – Papika ensures that Cocona knows that she loves, loves, loves her. Cocona takes a little longer to warm to the idea, but once she accepts that she loves Papika, they gain a new power – never underestimate the power of yuri.