Anime of the Year: CJ Hitchcock’s Top 5 Anime of 2016

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I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you this, but 2016 was awful. I won’t waste your time with all of the crap I’ve been through this year, but needless to say, I’m very glad we at least had some great escapism to keep us from going completely insane. While I don’t think this was an excellent year for anime, it’s definitely been better than years past. We got a lot more shows that were more average or heavily flawed than anything else. Not necessarily mediocre, just ok. Because of that my requirements this year are simple: were the shows memorable, and did I finish them? If you’re wondering where Yuri on Ice and Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju are, it’s because I didn’t finish them and I haven’t exactly been able to go back and catch up.

Ok, on to the list.

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5. Nyanbo!

Besides having one of the cutest character designs this year, Nyanbo! is a technical wonder to watch. How the show seamlessly blends CGI and live-action is truly breathtaking. It’s one of the few times where the character models actually look like they are interacting with their environment. The lighting above everything else is the real star of the show here. Trying to match lighting patterns on character models is no small feat, and for the creators to match the lighting of an environment in which the lighting is constantly shifting is mind blowing. I could talk more about this in detail, but I only have so much room here. Needless to say, Nyanbo! is going to become a show that many CGI model artists will be studying for years to come.

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4. ClassicLiod

Easily my favorite soundtrack for the year.  ClassicLiod is a quirky little show about the power of music. While far from a serious discussion on the subject, ClassicLiod still beautifully captures the spirit of the all time greats like Beethoven and Mozart while also making time for a prat fall or two. A very charming, goofy comedy about a girl trying to keep these robotic musical masters in check.

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3. Sweetness & Lightning

I am a total sucker for “Single Parent” dramas, and boy did this show hit that sweet spot like a thunderbolt. (Rimshot) Anyhow, I liked how it explored cooking as a away to bring a family closer together. It’s not about the end result, it’s about those moments where you’re teaching your daughter how to use a knife, or kneading dough together and laughing at the silly shapes you’re making out of the dough. It’s a show more about the importance of the little things than any big gestures. That scene where Tsumugi walks to the restaurant by herself and let’s her imagination go wild is easily one of my favorite moments in anime this year.

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2. Thunderbolt Fantasy

“BUT IT’S NOT ANIME!” You are welcome to think that. The truth of the matter is, I actually do see puppetry as a form of animation, much like claymation. The idea of animation is you are transforming a still image and giving the illusion of movement. Puppets, by design, are still objects that are given life by the puppeteer. While it’s not the most traditional form of animation, it is still, by definition, animation. Also, I absolutely loved this show, and I could care less if you see this as a valid entry or not.

I grew up watching shows like Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlett, so seeing Thunderbolt Fantasy this year instantly took me back to my childhood. I loved this epic fantasy show about acquiring team members to go on a quest to retrieve pieces of an ancient weapon that could destroy the world if placed in the wrong hands. The designs of the puppets are gorgeous, the fight scenes are surprisingly brutal and the dialogue is absolute perfection. While the setup is tried-and-true, what makes this show fascinating is how alliances are constantly shifting; you’re never really sure who to trust. Everyone has these brilliant motivations for going on this quest, and it makes for an enjoyable watch. I know puppetry isn’t for everyone, but I cannot recommend Thunderbolt Fantasy enough.

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1. Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan

I loved this show a lot. Besides being the show that made me laugh the most this year, there is a beautiful underlying message about assumptions. This show thrives on taking all of those generic tropes you’d see in every school-based comedy and tossing them out the window. The show really is about how everybody is more than what you first see on the surface. You’ll have the heavy-set girl being the most athletic person in class, or the quiet, well-dressed girl being a heavy metal fan. Even Galko-chan herself (which should be noted isn’t her real name, which is never given) is one of the most diverse characters to come on the scene this year. Any other show would depict the popular female character who talks about sharing clothes and the importance of doing your nails as a shallow bimbo. Galko-chan is everything but that. She’s popular because she legitimately cares about everyone around her, and the other class members appreciate being treated like individuals.

I really liked how this is quote unquote “Adult humor” without actually being obscene. The humor is never crass or rude; it feels like real conversations you’d have with close personal friends in private. Among the many jokes I loved in this show, my favorite has to do with a personality quiz that involves buying a gift. Basically, the joke is the gift is an orgasm and how they go about getting this gift is how they’d perform. What I love about this gag is how it starts as a simple joke and evolves into a defining moment for multiple characters. We get to learn more about who these students are instead of simply laughing at a sex joke.

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So those are my picks for best anime in 2016. I know I don’t exactly have popular picks, but I’m not exactly a popular guy. Above everything else that came out this year, I think these five shows are totally worth your time if you missed them. While I’m glad to see 2016 end, I remain hopeful that the coming years will be better. Dear reader, I hope you will continue to support the site and our writers as we continue to grow in 2017. No matter what the future might hold, anime will be the thing that continues to bring us together.


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8 Comments

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  1. Really off the beaten path with this list, huh? I’m surprised by just about every selection. I definitely thought most of them were good, but most of these selections feel like “well, they’re not going to be on anyone else’s list, so I’ll pay tribute to them by putting them on my own” choices. Which is fine, of course, and I’m not going to say that any of these are actually bad since you actually have good reasoning for the one I didn’t like. Just some surprising choices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The site’s got mad love for Classicaloid.

      Like

    • My feelings exactly. With the exception of Nyanbo which I didn’t watch, none of these titles strike me as particularly “AOTY”-worthy despite being solid shows in their own right (aside from maybe one which I didn’t like at all). This is something I believe is especially true in a year where quite a number of standout series whether they distinguish themselves in terms of production like Mob, FliFla and Eupho, or in terms of character writing and overall originality (with Rakugo immediatly coming to mind).

      In this regard, it definitely feels more like a list of not-so-popular anime which the CJ believed deserved some spotlight, which in itself isn’t a bad thing at all, mind you.

      Like

      • I have major problems with both Mob Psycho 100 and Flip Flappers, which I wrote in detail in the weeklies for both series and I’m sure I’ll talk more about them in our upcoming Anime in 2016 podcast episode. If I was doing a Top 10 Flip Flappers might of made the list and I’d throw Mob into a Worst list if I’m being honest. Again, see the Weeklies.

        I didn’t see the third title you mentioned because it was a season 2 to a series I didn’t watch and I try to only talk about new titles in these list.

        I picked these titles because they stood out to me. This isn’t an underdog list or titles I felt were ignored, these are shows I firmly believe have something more to offer than everything else I saw this year. Everyone is more than welcomed to disagree with my choices.

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  2. I don’t wanna meet no sharks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Galko-Chan is a fine refined taste, it even have Gundam references ;3
    I observe your blog for some time, but with this post I am now sure that this was a right choice to observe this fine blog.
    Thank you for your hard work, even those walls of text are easy to read if someone have a skill and a passion for writing.

    Also do you build any model kits? Gunpla, “classic” military models? And what do you think about Busou Shinki/Frame Arms Girls/Megami Device?

    Thank you
    Ranalcus from http://fejwsi.blogspot.com/

    Like

    • Thanks!

      To answer your questions, I have slightly dabbled in Gunpla, but not often. I love building them, but I’m awful when it comes to painting them.

      I haven’t seen Busou Shinki, but that came out in 2012 when I was completely focused on graduating college and skipped just about everything anime related. The designs for this and the other two you brought up are ok. I like the designs where the girls are completely covered in body armor instead of the ones with bits of skin showing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No no, the anime is BAD (not really really BAD but still), and the figures/PC game/PSP game are back from 2007. In every box there was a random code than unlocked this gir;/figure in PC MMO game (cross between fighting game/Tamagotchi/RPG). Megami Device is like a Spiritual succesor of Busou Shinki (by KONAMI) after it was dropped years ago. FA:G’s are a Gynoid versions of FA (Frame Arms – a Kotobukiya 1/100 scale mecha line).

        Hmm… It is more like Angelic Layer (+ terrorists) or Orichalcum Reycal (small magical “golems” made from magical clay).

        If you can grab HG 1/144 model kits from IBO (the ones from Second series have ENGLISH instructions, intead of just Japanese ones) or Danball Senki kits (Game/Anime about small smartphone controled robots, sort like medabots. Bade by Studio Level 5 – those who made Profesor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Youkai Watch and Gundam AGE).

        Do you have any specials plans for your blog in this year?

        Like

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