With the Autumn Anime Season already in full swing, I figured what better way to kick off this series than reflecting on the best shows of Summer 2016?
So today, on the Listless List, let’s look back on my personal Top 5 Anime of Summer 2016.
5. Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan
Being a long-time fan of Shounen Jump adaptations, and being a huge fan of the original Manga, Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan was an absolute treat this season. The series takes the trope of placing a literal god-like entity into a normal sub-urban high school setting and handles it in the best possible way imaginable, never ceasing to be creative and imaginative in its presentation of ideas and approach to humour.
And the best part of it all is the titular character Saiki himself. Despite being the closest thing to a god in this show and having every possible power imaginable at his disposal, he just wants nothing more than to be left the heck alone and to live a normal life, but is instead constantly being forced to juggle his school life with all the crazy shenanigans going on around him.
The only downside of the series was the length of the episodes, with each one only being around 5 minutes long. Luckily, Crunchyroll have compiled the episodes into half-hour compilation episodes instead, which are a far better viewing experience.
But I was laughing the whole way through and look forward to more as it carries on.
Before we get into this one, I’d like to ask you to answer something:
Name the two most overdone and tiresome types of story in modern Anime.
If you answered “time resets” and “trapped in another world” stories then congrats! You know your stuff!
So what would happen if you were to combine these two, overly exhausted types of story into one narrative? What would you end up with?
Well, you’d end up with Re:Zero, a some what flawed, but otherwise absolute blast of a show that was a fantastic time from beginning to end.
I’ll be honest, I never tend to ride bandwagons. I didn’t care for Erased in Winter and I wasn’t keen on Kabaneri either. Heck, I haven’t found the most popular show in a season to be a part of a Top 5 list since Sword Art Online in 2012.
But Re:Zero was a breath of fresh air. The storytelling was consistently well handled, the characters were well developed, the drama was absolutely intense with a fantastic atmosphere throughout and just about every little event, no matter how minor, had some kind of meaning in the long run. Even better, we actually get answers to the many questions plaguing us all series, something that shows like this just honestly don’t even bother to address *cough* Grimgar *cough* Log Horizon.
As for its visuals, it’s one of the nicest shows from 2016 thus far. The character designs didn’t stand out so much, but the animation and general directing were fabulous, with some absolutely breath-taking moments.
It isn’t the best show of the season, but man, was it good. I was pleasantly surprised, something that just doesn’t happen that often.
3. Mob Psycho 100
I have a confession to make. I really didn’t care for One Punch Man. The directing was outstanding and the fight choreography, while simple, was brilliantly handled. But the humour didn’t appeal to me, the characters were flat and uninteresting and the plot just didn’t appeal to me at all.
But Mob Psycho 100, which was created by the same artist of One Punch Man, is a whole other breed of series, and was absolutely fantastic.
Not only do its production values match, and arguably exceed, that of One Punch Man, but its characters are charming, its story is fantastic and most importantly the humour is appealing and almost consistently hits its mark.
Like Psy Nan, the best part of Mob Psycho 100 is its titular character, Mob. His character is deeply explored and is extremely well handled. In fact, the most interesting thing about Mob is how relatable he is to the average viewer. He’s an insecure ball of anxiety, much like I was in my high school days, and I’m positive that many others feel the same way.
And don’t even get me started on the fantastic action sequences which are just adrenaline pumping, heart racing moments of complete awesomeness. This series is a must-watch from this season.
2. Berserk (2016)
Berserk is among the greatest stories ever told in the medium of Manga. The writing is fantastic, the characters are some of the most complex to ever grace storytelling, the themes it presents about the malicious nature of the human race are extremely well explored and relevant to our society and overall, it’s just an absolutely mental and insane Dark Fantasy story that really sets the bar for the entire Seinen demographic as a whole.
Couple all of the above with Mangaka Kentaro Miura’s beautiful artwork, and you have something that is truly one of a kind.
I am a huge Berserk fan. I’ve been a fan since I was 14 years old and have been following the Manga ever since. I have been waiting the best part of a decade for a second season after the original 90’s adaptation ended in the middle of an arcs most climatic moment.
And in 2016, I finally got what I’d been craving all those years. Well… Kind of.
I’m going to start by addressing the elephant in the room. The animation. It’s 90% CGI, it often looks horrible, it’s laughably janky and it generally looks like a really bad Playstation 1 FMV cutscene from a Square Enix RPG.
However, despite this, the directing itself is excellent. The camera angles are wonderfully used to make the experience less jarring and the general scene direction is pretty great. Not to mention, when there is 2D animation, it is absolutely stunning and looks incredible.
Do I wish the series looked like that 100% of the time? Of course, but if this is the best we’re ever going to get for a Berserk Anime, I’ll take it.
The story, characters and themes, the most important elements of Berserk and what makes it stand above all other Seinen, are all left perfectly intact, and at the end of the day, that’s why I read Berserk and why I consider this Anime to be so high on this list.
Sure, it looks ugly, but Berserk is an ugly story in so many ways that I honestly don’t consider it to be a big deal.
And we’re getting more of this next year? Count me in!
If for whatever reason you can’t see beyond the CGI, I strongly urge you to check out the Manga. It’s amazing.
1. D. Gray Man Hallow
Speaking of shows I’ve been waiting to get a sequel since forever look what else came out this season!
I’ve been a fan of D. Gray Man since I first started high school, I own all the Manga volumes currently published and it’s been one of my favourite series since.
The original Anime ended way back in 2008 and fans, such as myself, have been waiting and praying for a continuation for years.
And because the Mangaka has been on hiatus for most of that time, and only publishes 4 chapters a year due to a 3 month release schedule, we only got 13 episodes in the form of D. Gray Man Hallow.
But in those 13 episodes are some of the greatest things to come from Anime this year. The story picks itself up like it was never gone for all those years, the number of twists, turns and new plot threads that occur in this new series are beautifully executed and the character development and drama is better than it’s ever been. Put this together with a lovely boost in production values and directing and you have the best series of Summer 2016.
D. Gray Man has never been stronger than it was for these 13 episodes and I am extremely overjoyed that we fans have been lucky enough to be blessed with this fantastic continuation, even if it was brief and short-lived.
Now if only Hoshino could just finish the Manga and we could get a conclusion sometime in the next 20 years, that’d be great!
And after much rambling and way too many words, we’ve reached the end of this edition of the Listless List.
Next time we’ll be looking at my personal Worst 5 shows from the Summer 2016 season. I look forward to seeing you all next time!
Now for some long awaited rest.
What are your favourites from the Summer 2016 season?