Top Five Anime of 2016

I’m late to this party, but better late than never!  In prior years, I’ve only ever named my favorite anime of the year, but couple of friends have requested a top five list.  The first four were easy, since they were the highest rated shows at four and a half stars.  Deciding which four star show should hold fifth place between four worthy contenders was far more difficult.  At the end of the list, the three which fell short will be listed as honorable mentions.

Concerned Luluco

Last year was excellent for anime, the only thing I regret about the shows last year is that none stood out as a classic.  In 2013 and 2014, I had at least one show rated five stars.  The year 2015, like this year, lacked a classic for my top fifty list.  But, this probably reflects my favored genres–action, adventure, fantasy, and samurai–not doing so well.

On to the top five of 2016!

Jinsei no Gimu

5) Alderamin on the Sky

I loved the unique setting and mood of this show.  Someone dubbed it “WWI the anime,” and the heavy casualties, frequent use of artillery, style of uniforms, and generally bad strategy by our hero’s superiors all combine to give it that feel.  The weapons add somewhat to this mood, as melee weapons are almost superseded by firearms.  That the later battles were fought amidst high mountains with all the stresses of this terrain also made for some unique action.

Sleepless General

To digress, 2016 (the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Jutland, the Battle of Verdun) marks an important centennial of WWI.  Europeans will also be observing the Great War as a centennial this year and the next one no doubt.  American units, though many Americans volunteered on the side of the Allies prior to our official entry into the war, did not see combat until the Battle of Catigny on May 27, 1918.  Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., was present at this battle.

Ikta et Igsem

At any rate, the action was compelling, and the characters, especially Yattori, were made even more likable by the hardships of war.  Yattori also gave us the best sword fight bar none of last year:

Unfortunately, few people feel the same way as I do about this show, and a sequel does not appear to be in the works.

Flip Flappers V

4) Flip Flappers

The artwork of Flip Flappers stands as one of the most unique of 2016.  That, the dynamic of the heroines Papika and Cocona, and the ideas addressed by the show made this one of four magical girl shows I have ever completed.  (The other three are Princess TutuPretear, and Sailor Moon.  Yes, I know that I should get around to Madoka…maybe sometime this year.)  You can read more about what I liked about the show here.

IMG_9526

 

3) Ushio to Tora

I can’t remember the last contemporary shounen fighting/monster slaying show to keep me glued to the screen.  The morality of the show struck me as something straight out of Star Wars, but that did not stop me from thoroughly enjoying it.  The dynamic between Ushio and Tora and the manner of Tora’s ensealment remind me of Inuyasha, one of my favorite shows of all time.  The fights were intense, the characters likable, and it hit all the right notes for a show of its genre.

Kuro

2) Kuromukuro

Okay, it’s time for me to come out of the closet: I used to be a Rabid Inuyasha Fan (RIF), staying up until 3 AM in the morning to tape episodes of Inuyasha on Adult Swim.  So, one of the surest ways to please Medieval Otaku is to make a show as much like Inuyasha as possible.  (The other way is to use elements from Rurouni Kenshinà la Black Cat or Trigun–even the fanservicey and absurd Grenadier was enriched by borrowing from RK.)  Kuromukuro has the modern high school girl meets boy from the past theme, a family almost an exact replica of Kagome’s (mother, younger sibling, Buddhist priest grandpa), and a less odious Kikyo character in Muetta.

Kuro1

But, Kuromukuro also featured spectacular animation, which made the fights some of the best of last year.  The swordplay even felt rather realistic: I couldn’t find a way to knock it–unlike Akame ga Kiru.  The comedy was always refreshing, the relationship between the hero and the heroine entertaining, and plenty of likable characters besides.  The ending could have been more conclusive, but that’s one of the few downsides to the show.

Kabaneri

1) Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Considering my disdain for Attack on Titan, that this show impressed me so much comes as a surprise.  Like Kuromukuro, it features some beautiful and fluid animation.  Both the heroes and villains incite the viewer to feel passionately for or against them  The antagonist, Biba Amatori, struck me as a sort of Robespierre, trying to bring about equality by revenging himself against the higher classes.  Just like in the French Revolution, this vision of equality brings about mass suffering, and it is up to our heroes to stop it.

Kaba1

They articulated Yukina’s muscles superbly in this scene.  It gave me flashbacks to eighties anime.

I found the world of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress to be far more fascinating than Attack on Titan.  What helped was that the humans could more effectively fight back against their monstrous foes, and the general populace was more willing to do so.  That so many were not cowering in the face of the Kabane or shirking their responsibility to fight made a big difference in my engagement with Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress vs. Attack on Titan.

Kaba2

Honorable Mentions: Erased, Bungo Stray Dogs, Space Patrol Luluco

Stay tuned for my mid-season review for Winter 2017!

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15 comments on “Top Five Anime of 2016

  1. And you’ve just reminded me that I need to do the same.

  2. atthematinee says:

    Great list! I have some serious catching up to do. Do you share this type of thing on any other sites, by the way?

    Samuel

  3. MIB says:

    interesting choices! The only one I have seen was “Kabaneri” which I was only mildly entertained by (I love AOT however). Horses for courses etc… 😉

    • No problem, I feel as though I watched less anime than usual last year, so my top anime might be even less representative than usual. Kabaneri was essentially a redo of AOT, so I can imagine most fans of the latter would not care for the remake as much. Thanks for reading!

  4. Samuru says:

    Great list! A few I haven’t seen. The two I have though were Kuromukuro and Kabaneri. I truly enjoyed Kuromukuro and I am surprised I haven’t seen much mention of it (not like I check a lot of blogs….but the few I do haven’t mentioned it). I enjoyed the main character and his relationship with the girl (I forget the names….). He was very believable and him not knowing certain things cracked me up a few times.

    Kabaneri, I too enjoyed more than AoT for the same reasons you did. I just never put my thoughts into words but I agree. The animation is great, and….Mumei. She is amazing! Just for her it’s enough to watch the show. Even the main character I wasn’t a big fan of his, but I loved his passion and will to keep on going and fight!!! God bless ya.

    • Thanks! That Kuromukuro did not receive much mention is odd. It’s a great action story with splendid animation. I can only suspect that so many bloggers use Crunchyroll that the shows on there receive better coverage.

      Mumei was a fascinating character, as was Biba. In the case of the main character, I was annoyed to hear Ippo Makunouchi’s voice actor play the role; though, I eventually got used to him. His intense dialogue in whatever he plays bothers me sometimes.

      God bless!

  5. videogamep says:

    I’ve been meaning to get back to Kuromukuro. I saw the first two episodes at a convention and liked them, but I haven’t gotten back to it yet. It’s also nice to see someone include Bungo Stray Dogs. I get why season 1 wasn’t a huge hit, but season 2 was really good.

    • I thoroughly enjoyed both season of Bungo Stray Dogs. The second outdoes the first because its first story arc counts as a masterpiece and the action is generally more intense. It almost made the list: the line between the honorable mentions and Alderamin on the Sky is very thin.

      The studio had better make a season three of BSD after revealing that Dostoyevsky will be the next criminal mastermind. Japan vs. Russia sounds like it will be even more awesome than the challenge posed by characters based on American authors.

Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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