Disclaimer: This is going to be a really long post, so I apologise in advance for the humongous wall of text you’re all about to experience.
The Autumn Anime Season of 2016 is coming to an end and the time for reflection is upon us.
2016 was a pretty solid year for Anime. We got some incredible shows this year across almost every genre.
In today’s post, I’d like to celebrate the best shows of 2016 by giving out Awards for specific categories. I only included shows that I watched this year, so if a certain show didn’t make any of the Awards, that might be why.
For each Award, I’ll be providing a Winner along with a reasoning for each pick.
The criteria for the Awards were as follows:
- For a show to eligible, it must have aired in 2016.
- Second seasons were eligible for the Awards.
- Awards were only given to shows I watched. I can’t judge something I didn’t watch.
- A show doesn’t have to have been completed in 2016 to be eligible.
- Anime Movies were not eligible for the Awards. But I will say now that Your Name was the best movie of the year and I’ll be reviewing it sometime next year.
- The Awards have been split into different types. The Production Awards have Runner-Ups as well as Winners.
- These Awards are based on my own opinions. You may think differently, and that’s cool! – I’d love to know your own thoughts!
Without further delay, let’s get these Awards rolling!
Winner: Mob Psycho 100
The art and animation of Mob Psycho 100 was absolutely stunning. The visual presentation was unique, gorgeous and bursting with personality and expression. Every single moment, be it an action sequence or just a plain old regular scene of two characters walking down the street, was full of energy and personality.
There was never a moment in Mob Psycho 100 where anything felt flat or lazy production wise. Studio Bones and the animation team working on this show clearly put in a ton of effort into adapting this series from its original Manga, which no doubt also contributed to the incredible production with its god-like panel flow and attention to detail.
Mob Psycho 100 was a visual stand-out this year, both in its general aesthetic and its animation quality, and I most definitely will not be forgetting about it any time soon. Nothing came close to wow’ing me in terms of visuals as much as this series did.
Runner-Up: Yuri!! On Ice
Yuri!! On Ice was absolutely breathtaking in terms of its visuals. The character designs in particular were gorgeous with each of them bringing their emotions to the forefront in every scene with perfectly conveyed facial expressions and reactions to the events occurring throughout the series.
But the highlight of Yuri!! On Ice was the beautifully animated and directed skating sequences, which were modeled to perfectly replicate the movements of real world figure skaters. Every movement, no matter how minor, was captured perfectly, with some of the best character animation we’ve ever had from Anime this year and the performances were the highlight of the show as a result.
Unfortunately, the production values took a slight dip in later episodes, and although it’s nothing that drastically affected the experience it allowed Mob Psycho 100 to come out on top.
- Bungou Stray Dogs
- My Hero Academia
Best Manga Adaptation
Winner: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
Jojo is one of the best Manga’s ever made. It’s been going on for over 100 Volumes, it has one of the most creative and ingeniously written stories and it’s chalk full of insane ideas from awesome to weird to downright hilarious.
It’s hard to pin down why Jojo is so damn good other than to simply say: “Watch it yourself, and you’ll understand”. Jojo covers so many genres and ideas that it’s difficult to explain exactly what it is.
But it’s awesome, and this new season has been no exception to that rule. The main character of this arc, Josuke, is absolutely hilarious and continues the trend of bad ass and totally awesome protagonists that Jojo has had since Battle Tendency. The humour is funnier than it’s ever been, with jokes almost always hitting their mark, yet the series still manages to maintain its serious attitude with the stakes being kept high despite how ridiculous everything seems to be. But more than anything, the creativity is there, particularly in the battle scenes, where the special powers, referred to as Stands, have become more ingenious and insane than ever before.
Jojo remains the king of creativity and absolute insanity in the Anime world, and I absolutely cannot wait for Part 5 and beyond to see what’s next.
Runner-Up: My Hero Academia
I love Shounen Manga. It’s what got me into Anime and it’s where most of my favourite Anime adaptations come from.
And My Hero Academia is a shining example of why I love the Shounen demographic so much. From it’s deeply relatable main character, to its gripping underdog story all the way to its intense action scenes and awesome, genre-typical, world-building, My Hero Academia reminded me why I love Shounen so damn much and why it’s one of my favourite demographics.
But while the series is fairly typical and standard in its execution in a lot of ways, it still manages to stand on its own two feet with some interesting and unique ideas of its own. For starters, the main character, Izuku, needs to work very hard to be able to use his special powers, as opposed to just being handed them and becoming amazing right off the bat. He still has to “get used” to them, something which we rarely see in Shounen Manga these days, and that was a nice breath of fresh air.
And the action sequences were just great. They were full of awesome powers, flashy effects and insanely good directing. I can’t wait to see where this show goes in its next season and I’m looking forward to it!
- Bungou Stray Dogs
- March Comes in Like a Lion
- D. Gray Man: Hallow
Best Light Novel Adaptation
Re:Zero exceeded my expectations. When a show becomes as popular as Re:Zero does, I tend to approach it rather cautiously. I’m normally disappointed by shows that everyone else loses their minds over (just look at how I feel about Kabaneri and One Punch Man), but this series was actually pretty darn good.
It had a great twist on the “transported to another world” genre by having the main character be completely useless at just about everything, with his only special trait being an ability where he “respawns” to a certain point in time if he dies.
And while Subaru does have the power to change destiny as a result, his incompetence often gets the better of him and he continuously screws things up time and time again.
Re:Zero was a nice break from the typical Light Novel stuff we seem to always be getting. There was no overpowered main character, there were no plot conveniences to speak of, every character had relevance to the overarching plot in some way, and while there was a love triangle, there was a fully realised and well developed romance between two characters that felt deserved.
It also went deep into the psychology of Subaru and how his constant dying and respawning begins to have a negative effect on his mental and emotional state, something which I really appreciated as a viewer as it added a lot more depth to the situation.
I was never bored watching Re:Zero. It was a consistently entertaining and excellently written show and I’d love to see a second season some time down the line. That’d be great.
Konosuba is another series that takes the “transported to another world” premise and twists it in an interesting way. Unlike Re:Zero however, Konosuba play the whole thing up for laughs.
The series takes place in a video game-like setting, only everything is incredibly lame. The main character is an awful player with terrible stats and although he has a goddess as his companion, she is equally useless and is incredibly lazy. Put the two of them together with a mage who can cast nothing but explosion based magic and a warrior who always misses, and you’re guaranteed a barrel of laughs.
Konosuba is hilarious from start to finish. It does a fantastic job at poking fun at shows like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon while still being an entertaining story with a charming cast of characters and solid production values.
It’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while and it was great. I can’t wait for the second season next year.
- Aldemarin of the Sky
- And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?
- Durarara!!x2 Ketsu
Best Original Anime
Kiznaiver is one of those shows where I read the premise and wondered how the heck they’d manage to make a show out of something so weird and bizarre.
Yet, when I got to the end, I realised that they some how managed it. Kiznaiver is a show about a group of teenagers who wind up having their sense of pain connected to one another, meaning if one of them hurts themselves, the rest of them feel the same pain they do.
It sounds silly, but the show does a lot with it, and really does an excellent job in exploring each of its characters as individuals as we watch them come to grip with their inner demons and the issues in their lives as they try to get through this weird situation.
Kiznaiver resonated with me on a very personal level. Each of the characters surprisingly had a great resemblance to people I used to be friends with, and the main cast were essentially identical to my group of friends growing up, with myself being very similar to the protagonist Katsuhira. I saw a lot of my own experiences in Kiznaivers narrative, and it made the show among my favourites of the year as a result.
The production was also excellent with some striking character designs and excellent animation quality. It was outstanding as a visual spectacle.
Runner-Up: 91 Days
91 Days was pretty darn great. I went into this one expecting it to be a standard revenge story, and while it was a standard revenge story, it was a gripping one that was emotionally engaging all throughout.
The gripping and dramatic narrative, combined with its unique prohibition era setting and visual presentation, made 91 Days a stand-out this year. It was a great ride from start to finish, and unlike most shows this year, it ended complete with everything resolved perfectly.
It was a very solid show overall and definitely worth checking out.
As I already mentioned above, a lot of why I enjoyed Kiznaiver so much was due to how its characters paralleled the people in my own life growing up, and the narrative is no exception.
The narrative of Kiznaiver had me hooked from start to finish because it resonated with me so well. It was an emotionally charged rollercoaster from start to finish, it was full of deep and in depth character exploration and it concluded in the most perfect way imaginable, leaving nothing unresolved.
Kizaiver, in my opinion, was the pinnacle of emotional storytelling this year and was the best narrative I had the pleasure of watching unfold from the medium in 2016.
Runner-Up: My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia’s narrative structure, while fairly simple, was an emotional ride from start to finish.
Despite the series being very formulaic in its narrative approach, the character arc of the protagonist was incredibly satisfying and emotionally engaging to watch, which made it one of the storytelling highlights of the year.
Watching Izuku grow from a timid, talentless boy into mature, brave and strong-willed hero in training was so darn great that I honestly didn’t care too much about the standard story structure. The emotions were real and the character development was excellent.
- Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
- Ajin: Demi Human
- Lostorage Incited WIXOSS
Best Action Anime
Winner: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
If there’s any series out there that fully captures and presents all the elements that make up the Action genre, it’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
As previously mentioned, the series is packed full of ideas and creativity, and much of that creativity comes into play in its action sequences, where characters have a chance to stretch their creative muscles and let loose all kinds of crazy and interesting abilities.
As an action series, Jojo is outstanding, with some of the most ingenious fights to ever come from Anime, and this new season takes that ingenuity to new heights, creating something that is truly spectacular.
If you like a good fight with some smarts and creative energy and have a taste for the surreal, look no further than Diamond is Unbreakable.
Best Psychological Anime
Winner: Lostorage Incited WIXOSS
There were very few Psychological shows that really delivered this year, but Lostorage Incited WIXOSS didn’t hold back when it came to diving inside the minds of its characters and slowly breaking them apart from within.
While the series revolved around a trading card game, the game itself, like it’s previous seasons, was more of a backdrop to allow the show to gaze deep into the inner struggles and desires of its characters. And boy, do a lot of messed up things happen down the line.
As the series goes on, the characters begin to lose sight of themselves more and more, with many of them breaking down entirely. The series holds nothing back and is brutal in the treatment of its character inner psyche. And I loved every bit of it.
With one more episode still in the works, this series could go anywhere, but at this stage, that doesn’t matter all that much. Lostorage has already set itself in place as the best Psychological Anime of 2016, and it’s unlikely any narrative direction it takes will change that. It delivered what it promised and it did an excellent job of it.
Best Drama Anime
Winner: 91 Days
Despite being a some what typical revenge story, as a drama, 91 Days succeeds immensely, mostly due to the constant tension regarding its protagonist and whether or not he’ll be caught in the act of carrying out his vengeance.
Combine this tension with the unlikely formation of friendship between the protagonist and one of the people he is seeking to kill, and the drama is taken to some pretty intense levels that I didn’t initially foresee.
It’s a great drama, and a must-watch for any fans of the genre.
Best Fantasy Anime
Yeah, yeah. The CGI sucks. It’s awful and it’s pretty jarring at times. But as a Fantasy story, Berserk truly has no parallel.
The Manga is the greatest Dark Fantasy story ever told, and since this new Anime has been following the Manga almost perfectly, in terms of its storyline and as a Dark Fantasy Anime, I find it difficult to fault otherwise.
The writing is excellent, the characters remain interesting and the Fantasy elements are more prominent than previous installments following the Eclipse.
Berserk has never been better, despite the shoddy production values, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the best stuff get animated in the second season next year.
Nothing came remotely close to Berserk in the Fantasy genre this year.
Best Shounen Anime
Winner: D. Gray Man: Hallow
Remember D. Gray Man?
Well, it got a second season and it was amazing.
D. Gray Man has always been one of the best Shounen series, but unfortunately due to the authors constant illness, it’s been on an irregular schedule for years and the original Anime ended several years ago.
But after a long and agonizing wait, we finally got a continuation, in the form of Hallow, and while it’s only 13 episodes long, the series has never been better.
The story introduces so many new and interesting plot elements and revelations that make the wait worth it, and the character development and drama is better than it’s ever been. It’s a truly fantastic Shounen series and I hope we get another continuation at some point in the future.
It’s been great to have D. Gray Man back!
Best Sports Anime
Winner: Yuri!! On Ice
Was it ever really going to be anything else?
I don’t particularly like Sports Anime all that much, but Yuri!! On Ice had me invested at all times.
Because unlike most Sports Anime, Yuri!! On Ice felt like it had actual stakes beyond the “if we lose, we can just try again next year!” mentality.
The characters careers and effort were really at stake here and when combined with the various character relationships and hints of implied “romance” in the background throughout, Yuri!! On Ice truly shines as one of the best Sports Anime I’ve seen in forever.
And the figure skating sequences, my god, the figure skating sequences were outstanding.
Yuri!! On Ice is a Sports Anime with real, hard-hitting, emotional stakes that feel significant and possibly even dangerous, and that elevates the series miles above the rest of its peers.
Best Mystery Anime
A lot of people didn’t like Mayoiga. A lot of people thought Mayoiga was trash.
I liked Mayoiga. I liked it a lot, actually.
Because as a Mystery series, Mayoiga did everything right for me.
The mystery was extremely compelling and it had me wanting to know exactly what the heck the deal was and what exactly was going on.
And the reveal at the end was great and it was pretty damn satisfying while also being unpredictable without feeling like it was incredibly stupid or made up on the spot, like most mysteries.
It’s a severely underrated gem, and I highly recommend it despite all the flack it got. Give it a shot, maybe you’ll see what I saw!
Best Seinen Anime
Winner: March Comes in Like a Lion
I don’t like Slice of Life shows all that much. I dislike real-life settings and characters unless I find them relatable or find the narrative to be super compelling.
March Comes in Like a Lion is both of these things. Its main character is extremely relatable to my own experiences and its narrative is emotionally engaging from the get-go.
It’s a show about the inner demons of its protagonist and overcoming his solitude by letting those close to him into his life to ease his loneliness.
Combine this with an incredible visual aesthetic from Studio Shaft and the wonderful directing from Akiyuki Shinbo all within the game of Shogi, and you have an absolute winner of a series.
March is an incredible Seinen series.
Best Comedy Anime
As previously stated, Konosuba is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a long, long time.
The jokes always hit and I was literally crying with laughter the entire way through. It is one of the best parodies in Anime while also being a great story in its own right.
Other than that, I’d just be repeating myself.
It’s a great laugh. Give it a shot!
Best Slice of Life Anime
Winner: Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless
This show was the inspiration for my entire online persona and its main character is the face of my blog. It’s also one of the only Slice of Life shows that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end.
Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless is an outstanding Slice of Life show. I found it to be extremely relatable to my own experiences (as I’ve mentioned several times in previous posts) and it was just so entertaining, funny and relaxing to watch.
Every episode presents something interesting, and each of the characters is memorable, fun and a pleasure to watch on screen.
If you tend to shy away from Slice of Life, I recommend giving this one a shot. You might be surprised.
Best Shoujo Anime
Winner: Kiss Him, Not Me
I’ve watched hardly any Shoujo this year, but from what I’ve seen, Kiss Him, Not Me was the one I found the most enjoyable.
It’s funny, it’s a nice reverse harem and it’s pretty darn entertaining with a lot of energy and personality.
I haven’t seen much of it yet, but it’s by far my favourite Shoujo of the year.
Best Josei Anime
Winner: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is among the best shows of the year, as well as being one of the biggest surprises of the year.
This show came out of nowhere and I had zero expectations from it. Then the first episode blew me away with its hardcore, emotional stakes and complex character drama.
And while the remainder of the series never did quite live up to the greatness of that initial episode, it was still a very solid series all around and definitely a highlight of 2016.
If you haven’t checked this one out, I strongly recommend you do so. It’s a great watch and has a second season on the way next year.
Winner: Tanaka (Tanaka-Kun Is Always Listless)
Being the Anime equivalent of my every day self as well as the face of this blog, I couldn’t help but choose Tanaka as the best protagonist of 2016.
Tanaka is extremely lazy, always sleepy and generally just doesn’t seem to care about anything other than living as laid back a life as possible, and that’s something that was both relatable to myself and was also a nice change of personality compared to most other characters from other shows airing this year.
Tanaka is just chill and always relaxed and his personality is both awesome and hilarious.
While there are definitely “better written” and more interesting characters from this year, Tanaka is the one who stood out for me and who I found myself connecting with the most.
Winner: Tomura Shigaraki (My Hero Academia)
As many of you are already aware, Tomura is my favourite Anime villain of all time, mostly because of how much of a contrast he is to the protagonist and how is opposing ideals create an incredibly tense rivalry between the two characters resulting in a conflict of truly epic proportions.
That, combined with a sadistic personality and a hatred for all things that are good and righteous makes Tomura an incredible villain and among the most interesting antagonists of 2016. He made one of the most memorable appearances for a character this year.
We’ve yet to see much of what Tomura is capable of and I’m looking forward to seeing more of enigmatic presence in the second season next year. Hopefully we’ll get more insight into what makes him tick and how much of a force he is to be reckoned with.
Most Overpowered Character
Winner: Shigeo Kageyama (Mob Psycho 100)
He’s Saitama only with ridiculously destructive psychic powers that he can’t control. He wrecks just about everything with miminal effort.
It’s really no contest this year.
Shigeo wins hands down.
Best Designed Cast
In terms of fantastic character designs, Kiznaiver had absolutely no equal this year for me. Studio Trigger really outdone themselves in defining each of the shows characters through their appearance which allowed for some truly memorable character designs.
Just from looking at each member of the cast, it’s made immediately clear what their personalities are like and who they are as people. You can tell that Katsuhira is an emotionally suppressed individual just by looking at him. You can tell that Tenga is a street smart tough guy with a heart of gold from his appearance.
And to top it off, each of the designs are just so memorable and striking that it’s difficult to compare them to any other character designs out there. They’re uniquely constructed, and I definitely won’t be getting them out of my head any time soon.
Best Fight Scene
Atsushi vs Akutagawa (Bungou Stray Dogs)
2016 was an excellent year for Anime fights, but none of them quite measured up to the conflict between Atsushi and Akutagawa near the end of the first season of Bungou Stray Dogs.
A conflict that everyone saw coming, when the two opposing forces that are these two characters finally collided with one another, it lived up to its hype completely.
The fight had high stakes, with Atsushi risking life and limb, facing a much more experienced and powerful foe to save a newly acquired comrade, and we finally got to see Atsushi tap into his powers and really do something to make a real difference.
Yet, Akutagawa himself remained no pushover, and pushed back just as hard, trying his best to overpower Atsushi to achieve his own selfish goals.
This fight was so entertaining because it was unpredictable. It was anything but one-sided, with both characters giving everything they have in strength and smarts to achieve victory. It was never clear right until the very end who was going to win this fight, and even though Atsushi did come out on top, that made the fight all the more tense throughout its duration.
The fight also had each of the characters using their powers in creative and innovative ways, which added some strategy and depth to the battle as opposed to having the both of them beat each other to death with brute force, which is what I love the most from fight sequences.
And the animation was spectacular.
For me, this fight was by far the best I saw in 2016, and I’m hoping for some more equally awesome battles when I eventually get around to watching the second season.
Best Opening Theme
Lay Your Hands On Me – Boom Boom Satellites (Kiznaiver)
It’s very rare that an Anime Opening becomes one of my favourite songs of all time.
Lay Your Hands On Me is an absolutely incredible piece of music. It’s beautiful, it fits the message and themes of the series perfectly and it’s a song completely from the heart of the original artists.
This song was so incredibly awesome that I actually got the EP afterwards, and it has since ended up in my Top 9 Albums of all time.
The song is catchy, it’s memorable, it’s well produced and its lyrics are just so emotional and meaningful in the most heartfelt way possible.
And the accompanying opening sequence is equally well produced and beautifully animated.
To top things off, in an unfortunate turn of events, this song serves as Boom Boom Satellites final song as the vocalist died of a brain tumor shortly after its release. It’s his final masterpiece, his magnum opus and that makes the whole piece even more incredible and memorable.
Best Ending Theme
EGOISTIC EMOTION – TRIGGER (Taboo Tattoo)
Taboo Tattoo was a pretty awful show. That being said, it had the best Ending Theme of 2016, something which is incredibly ironic considering how dreadful the show itself was.
I’m not so sure why I like this song so much, but it was well produced, it was catchy and it was super memorable to me.
Most other Ending Themes this year didn’t really stick out so much, but this one did. A lot. It was the best part of the entire show and the only thing I didn’t find myself sleeping through.
The sequence was also pretty cool. I rather liked it.
That’s a wrap. That’s it for the Awards.
I hope you all enjoyed my picks and I apologise for the length of this post and for repeating a lot of the same shows throughout. It seems my taste isn’t all that varied!
That was the longest post I’ve ever done.
Time for sleep.