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Can you believe it’s already this time again? It’s time for our third round of Anime Awards! What will be the good, the bad and the just plain WTF of 2016?
Just like last year, all four of the blog authors will nominate their picks of the year for different categories – both good and bad.
Before we start, here’s the usual set of disclaimers:
Disclaimer 1: None of us watched everything that aired this year, so bear in mind that our individual picks are more drawing from the pool of ‘what 2016 anime I watched this year’ rather than ‘what 2016 anime aired this year’. It’s entirely possible that there are a number of fantastic  (and terrible) shows we never got the chance to see that deserved awards in one or more category.
Disclaimer 2: These are the opinions of the reviewers and some of these opinions may only be based on the first episode of each show.
Disclaimer 3: This feature is purely for fun and if you disagree with any of the views of any of the reviewers that’s perfectly fine, and you’re even welcome to voice your disagreement for the sake of discussion in the comments…just don’t be a moron about it.
Disclaimer 4: As much as we’ll -try- to avoid them…there will be spoilers.

And so, let us begin the Moeronpan Anime Awards, 2016 edition!

Best Anime Overall

This should need no explanation – what did we decide was the best new shows of 2016? Here are the shows that reminded us just how great anime can be!

Moeronpan

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Yuri on Ice wasn’t a perfect show. In some ways it was almost like two shows – a character drama and a traditional sports anime – awkwardly spliced together. There were definitely times when I felt those two halves weren’t as harmonious as they ought to have been.
However, I’m glad it exists. The shows global effect has been phenomenal, and seeing so many positive responses others in the gay community about what Yuri and Viktor’s relationship means to them has been nothing short of heartwarming. On top of that, for the first time in almost ten years my younger sister is watching an anime again of her own free will, and when a series manages to get her interest enough for her to want to keep watching, it’s gotta be special.
I already went over what I loved and didn’t love about the show in the final episode review, but in a nutshell Yuri on Ice was such a lovely show and such enormous fun that its strengths overcame its weaknesses. I hope that its success leads to even more anime with adult leads, too.

I reviewed all of Yuri on Ice here!

Runner up:

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Speaking of adult characters with adult problems in a narrative that treats its audience like adults, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu was a surprisingly involving hit for me. It’s a very unique show and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but its showa aesthetic and compelling characters really won me over. Studio Deen aren’t bad at all when they get to adapt something that doesnt require a whole load of movement and spectacular animation – but even so I was pretty impressed with all the small nuances they gave to the rakugo performances to really make them enjoyable to watch. I’m definitely looking forward to part two.

Ariana

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There wasn’t even any competition for best anime this year. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu was leagues ahead of all the other anime that I reviewed. Its story was mature (without resorting to tons of fanservice and violence) and it was honestly really refreshing to see a story about adult characters acting like actual adults. What I liked most about this series was that there was no real villain, yet there was still conflict; because that’s what happens in real life as well. The animation in this series was for the most part very beautiful, and the voice acting was superb. I realize that this sort of series won’t appeal to everyone, because it’s a much slower-paced anime and deals with issues that the younger crowd probably wouldn’t find too interesting. If you want something different than the usual anime fare, however; you can’t go wrong with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.

(Ariana reviewed the first five episodes of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu here!)

Runner up: N/A

Junko
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I had to go with Yuri!!! On Ice for this one. Sure, it had pacing issues, varied animation quality, and a finale that felt rather rushed, but it still delivered a strong story, a believable queer relationship, and, best of all, a diverse cast of genuinely interesting characters. Despite having a large cast, I actually remembered and cared about the stories of (mostly) every character. The wide range of countries represented with little to no reliance on stereotypes was an especially nice touch. I can’t remember being so excited for each new episode of any show in a long time. To me, Yuri!!! On Ice has more than earned the crown of Best of 2016.

Runner up:
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Boku no Hero Academia / My Hero Academia gets major points for breathing life into the tired genres of both “shounen story with determined young male protagonist” and “characters go to a school for training special powers”. Izuku is likeable and is allowed to both succeed and fail without an over-abundance of either. The central relationship is that of the protagonist and a mentor/father figure where the mentor gets actual development and is portrayed as human and flawed. Side characters are not denied the chance to show off their unique superpowers. A solid show, and definitely deserving of more seasons as the manga continues.

Skins
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Yuri on Ice!! was such a surprise show for me that I didn’t even pick up until Moe told me to take a look at it. I went in pretty blind, only knowing that one of the characters was cuter than anticipated. I was so glad I picked up this incredibly beautiful series, as it was something I didn’t expect from anime for another few years, at least.

For once, not since the manga FAKE have I seen a decent portrayal of a gay couple (and FAKE has a few issues, but nowhere near as many as you’d expect from a yaoi)  AND beautifully animated. And unlike most that are blatant queerbait, we get a healthy relationship that is openly engaged by the end of the series, and assumed to be living together. Not to mention the very realistic portrayal of characters who have mental illness – something that in a country like Japan that has more prejudice than most, is pretty impressive! I cannot wait for season 2.

Runner up:
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Boku no Hero Academia explores the life of Izuku, a boy who is actively bullied and who has no special power (or Quirk as it’s called in this universe) in a world where having one is commonplace. Izuku wants nothing more than to be a superhero like his hero All-might, the top hero of the world, and through a twist of fate, he ends up inheriting All-Might’s very own power. I’ve always been a fan of shows about the underdog – the boy who maintained hope where all odds were against him. It’s a premise that works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but in this show, it certainly does.

I, again, can’t wait for season two of this great show.

Best Character (Female)

Every year we’re given more new anime girls than we know what to do with, so which ones did we enjoy the company of the most?

Moeronpan

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I’m gonna be blunt: 2016 wasn’t a terrific year for female characters, at least out of the shows I had time to watch (I really wish I’d had time to see FlipFlappers) and while there were plenty that I -liked-, there wasn’t much I could really say I -loved-. However, I did come up with two, especially when I remembered that Aggressive Retsuko aired this year.
Aggressive Retsuko was Sanrio’s answer to not currently having a character pin-point aimed at the office lady demographic. Retsuko is an office drone, and also a red panda. She deals with various annoyances, from irritating coworkers to overbearing bosses, the way we all should: by bottling her frustration up and then unleashing it in the form of Death Metal. I think there’s a bit of Retsuko in all of us, so congrats on Sanrio for one of the most unexpectedly relatable characters of the year.

Runner-up:


Top Speed was my favourite character in Magical Girl Raising Project, and the ultimate awesome Big Sis figure. This former delinquent gang member turned devoted wife is an admirable magical girl, and her character design in both forms is adorable too. A show as bleak as MGRP requires a few light-hearted characters, and she fulfilled that role wonderfully – but rather than simply just being ‘the cheerful one’ she managed to have a nuanced character and backstory that got me a little teary. Both courageous and with a good head on her shoulders, Top Speed is definitely the kind of character I end up crushing on a little.

Ariana

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Yayaka from Flip Flappers. I was initially not charmed with her tsundere-like tendencies, but she ended up being the most well-rounded character by the end of the series. Her character development arc was the most elegantly written in my opinion. I would say more, but sadly any further opinions on her as a character would count as massive spoilers.

Runner-up:

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I am also nominating Inukai from Flying Witch because she is a sweet older (compared to the main cast) lady character who desperately needed more screentime.

Junko

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It was great fun to see Junko Enoshima back on screen in Danganronpa 3: Zetsubou-hen (Despair Arc). She’s catty, shallow, more than a little unhinged but she’s also one of the straight up most amusing characters to watch – and that’s saying something, as that show has an utterly massive cast. I honestly think my favorite thing about Junko is that she’s allowed to be crass, foul-mouthed and rude in a way that women in anime often don’t get to be. She’s also given a unique new pseudo-narrator position, meaning we get to watch her own story along with her – and her unbridled glee as tragedy unfolds is somehow both creepy and infectious.

Runner up:

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On the other end of the “blonde female villain” spectrum we have the Forest Musician, Cranberry, of Magical Girl Raising Project. Cranberry is calm and reserved, adaptable, and thoughtful while still delivering some of the best battles and beatdowns in a series known for its fight scenes. Her final undoing is also one of the most well done, ironic, cathartic downfalls I’ve seen in anime in a while. She also benefits from being revealed early in the narrative so that, like Junko, we get to witness the events she orchestrated unfold along with her, adding another unique dimension to the series.

Skins

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Ochako Uraraka from Boku no Hero Academia. Honestly, she’s precious. I love her to bits and I love her  Quirk. It makes her really ideal as the main female lead in the show, and I look forward to seeing how she thrives in the series. I feel like her potential has only begun to show itself.

Runner up: N/A

Best Character (Male)

Every year we’re getting more male characters to choose from, so who was best boy this year?

Moeronpan

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For me I have to change my awards to ‘best male characters who aren’t Yuri or Viktor’. (Look, it’s only fair, and it’s too hard for me to decide whch of the two would win anyway)
Anyway, my first award goes to Kikuhiko, aka (the) Yakumo Yurakutei, aka Bon from Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. We’re quite lucky to get to see so many versions of him- as a child, a youth, an adult and even in silver fox form old age in the ‘present day’. Because of this, the audience really get well aquainted with him and know him quite well. He’s a fascinating character and seeing him grow, for better and worse, is incredibly rewarding.

Runner-up:

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While I initially found Shigeo Kageyama (AKA Mob of Mob Psycho 100) to be too much like One Punch Man’s Saitama in both looks and personality, the more I watched the more I realised how different the two are. There’s not an awful lot I can say about how important I found Mob’s character to be that doesn’t get into spoilers – but he’s a very good boy and he always does his best. It’s a shame he’s so naive, but that just makes him more pure.

Honorable Mention:
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Mitarai Ryouta in Dangan Ronpa 3 deserves some recognition. While his existence and significance into the wider plot was definitely retconned in, I was kind of impressed how well it worked. It was Mitarai’s skills as ‘super high school level animator’ that led to the brainwashing of the cast of DR2 and Junko’s rise to power in DR1…and the poor kid hates himself for it. As soon as I saw Mitarai i knew he was my precious son who must be protected, and I was really glad that he ended up being such a massively important part of the plot. What can I say, I got a weakness for cute boys with self esteem issues so kudos to the DR team for making this character that seems almost custom-made to appeal to me. Plus the constant tiredness and malnutrition of someone who spends their life drawing is something I unfortunately also relate to a little too much.

Ariana

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Sakamoto from Sakamoto desu ga?. It’s really hard to beat someone like Sakamoto, and I tried very hard to not choose him as “best male character” because that would have been too “easy;” but what the heck. Bask in his perfection.

Runner-up:

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Ranpo Edogawa from Bungo Stay Dogs. This probably comes way out of left field but I am unironically fond of this giant dork. I don’t even really understand why; perhaps it has to do with the fact that he’s mostly divorced from all the angst and drama that the rest of the cast has to deal with. Plus, I feel he best personifies how ridiculous the BSD series is—he is a character who activates his non-existent abilities by putting on glasses dramatically. He also has (imo), the least annoying character quirk out of the whole cast. Considering that he’s basically a giant manchild, that’s saying a lot. I know I have bad taste in anime dudes, okay? Okay.

Junko

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Reiji Mitsurugi of Ace Attorney has one of my all-time favorite character development arcs, and I was glad to see that the anime adaptation did not overlook it. The viewer meets Mitsurugi as a set-in-his-ways antagonist – but he’s not allowed to remain such, as his past with Naruhodou and the great tragedy that defined his life are soon revealed. His journey from antagonistic prosecutor to ally with a strong belief in justice is arguably the show’s most compelling arc. The anime arguably made me like Mitsurugi even MORE, as we got additional scenes focusing on his childhood with Naruhodou and many powerful emotional moments during the case dealing with his past.

Runner up:

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Izuku “Deku” Midoriya of Boku no Hero Academia starts out as a powerless (physical) weakling, but he never once gives up despite the seeming impossibility of his heroic dreams. The power he eventually gains is not the result of luck or miracle but his own hard work – and power is never once shown as an automatic solution to all his problems. He’s more than just “a kid who got superpowers” – he’s analytical, intelligent, lacks confidence and seems to make rivals more easily than friends, and, most importantly, his story never becomes boring to watch.

Honorable Mention:

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Arguably, anxiety and miscommunication are the true villains of Yuri!!! On Ice, as they’re the obstacles that stand in the way of both Yuri’s quest for gold and his relationship with Viktor. But one of the more ‘villainous’ human characters was the Canadian Jean-Jacques Leroy – better known as “King JJ”. I loved-to-hate JJ for his unashamed ego, his flashy performance style, his refusal to be a Canadian stereotype, the surprising look into his own fears and hangups in Episode 11….but, most of all, for providing some of the best music in an anime already packed with great tracks. The show ended ages ago and his theme STILL won’t leave my head.

Skins

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Viktor Nikiforov from Yuri on Ice. Even though he’s still largely a mystery in many areas, it’s hard not to love this lovable, airheaded, adorable man. We don’t really learn what his true motivation behind his actions in the entire show is until episode 10 of 12, and when you find out… well. Let’s just say it makes him a hundred times cuter.
The mystery behind his actions, plus the fact that we still don’t know a lot about him in terms of his personal life, or family, makes him all the more interesting. I look forward to seeing what he gets up to in season two!

Best Duo/Team

These are are the characters who work better together than they do alone. Good teams are a joy to watch, and this year there were plenty.

Moeronpan

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I decided to give Yuri and Viktor of Yuri on Ice the duo award as its easier and I wanted to give some of the other male characters this year a chance. These two are great characters on their own of course, but they’re also flawless together. Viktor’s personality is nothing like what I would have expected from the first episode, and he’s instantly endearing in his adorableness. My love of Yuri is far more personal, as he’s one of the most honest portrayals of anxiety I’ve seen in anime, which is why I find it so exasperating when I read other people’s reviews and they criticize his behaviour as inconsistent or not making sense. These two belong together, and I’ll be thankful for that fact for a long time.

Runner-up:

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I have a certain soft spot for canon magical girl lesbian couples, and the Sister Nana/Winter Prison duo in Magical Girl Raising Project was all I ever wanted. (well, almost, the series being what it is.) This is a duo that, along with being a couple in real life, use eachother to bring out their best as magical girls- as Sister Nana’s main ability is solely to boost the power of Winter Prison. I’d love to know more about these two, but suffice to say their scenes were some of my favourites in the show.

Ariana

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Can I just like… nominate the entire cast of ClassicaLoid? As individual characters, they wouldn’t be that great. But something amazing (and hilarious) just happens when they’re all interacting with each other. I especially like that their relationships are all distinctly different, depending on who is interacting with whom. These little nuances are so important, especially in an anime with a cast of this size.

Runner-up: N/A

Junko

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Class 1-A of UA Hero Academy consists of twenty mismatched personalities with a gamut of powers running from “explosions” and “acid” to “shoots tape out of his elbows” and “has sticky grapes for hair”. While the show’s first season didn’t have time to give each of them the spotlight, the episodes set at school did work hard to provide little moments showcasing their powers, costumes and personalities. The training exercises in the latter half of the season that saw them paired with and working against each other provided some of the series most dynamic, interesting scenes. Izuku may be the protagonist, but there would be no show without his wacky classmates.

Runner up:

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In contrast to the cheery Class 1-A, D Agency (of Joker Game) consists of subdued, smirking older men who use subtlety to carry out their job as international spies. Though the show is episodic and viewers don’t actually get to see much interaction between the Agency members, the few moments we do get emphasize that the characters do feel somewhat of a bond with each other (and their superior, Yuuki) even when countries and armies separate them. Joker Game may be made primarily of individual character-focus episodes and arcs, it’s still ultimately a show about the Agency.

Honorable Mention:

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World-famous skater Viktor Nikiforov’s bond with his sweet fluffy dog, Makkachin, may even rival the show’s central couple for ‘most adorable relationship in Yuri!!! On Ice.‘ Viktor rushing to an ill Makkachin’s side in one episode is one of the show’s most powerful emotional moments, as we see his love for his dog outstrips even what he feels for ice skating itself. Plus, he has over 1000 pictures of Makkachin on his phone. That’s just adorable.

Skins

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The dynamic between Viktor and Yuuri is hilarious, cute, and at times downright silly, but other times rather… steamy ;). Regardless of how one interprets their relationship, I love both of these sweethearts to death, and seeing them both happily engaged is all you could ever want from your underdog protag and his superstar crush.
That, and how they met will never cease to be a source of great, great amusement.

Most Fun/Feel-good Anime

This is a separate category to ‘best’, because sometimes shows are just plain fun to watch despite whatever shortcomings may stop them from being an objectively flawless show. Here are the shows that we loved unwinding with or getting cheered up by.

Moeronpan
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There’s not a lot you can say about Sekkou Boys – but its fun. It’s goofy, it’s silly, and it’s fun. It uses its run-time well and I was actually pretty sad when it ended…and then even sadder when it apparently didn’t do too well. It had so many good moments that it was able to keep being funny long after the initial joke of ‘they’re idols but they’re just photorealistic statues’ wore off, and I commend it for that because it would be too easy for it to just be a one-joke series.

Runner-up:

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Sakamoto Desu Ga is the kind of anime that is hard to really explain to anybody else. ‘It’s about a guy who is just too cool, to the extent that it’s funny as hell’ doesn’t really quite tell you enough, so its something that has to be experienced for oneself. Every year I declare myself sick of things set in schools and every year at least one show has to pop and show me there’s still life in that setting when it comes to anime.

Ariana

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It was EXTREMELY hard to pick a most fun/feelgood anime for this year, because I watched a lot of slice-of-life stuff this year. But in the end I have to go with Flying Witch. Even now, I kind of regret not having the time to blog this series in its entirety; but then I realize that I probably wouldn’t have much to say about it anyway beyond “that was a really good episode.” Out of all the slice-of-life anime that I watched this year, Flying Witch is definitely the most relaxing of them all—the entire show is basically free of drama or any kind of sadness. Everything about this series is just really soft and gentle—its characters, its story, its humor, and even its magic. And gosh, I really wish there were more anime like this.

Runner-up:

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It was super hard to pick a runner-up for this category as well, but I have to go with Sweetness and Lightning. It’s an anime that focuses on a rather unconventional “family” and portrays it in an extremely positive way. Of course the characters do deal with some painful situations (because life can be hard), but they all manage to get through it with each other’s love and support.

(Ariana reviewed all of Sweetness and Lightning here!)

Junko
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Space Patrol Luluco features wacky intergalactic hijinks as a team of not-quite-heroes protect their school, visit the worlds of other Trigger productions, and are eventually tasked with saving the universe. Several ingenious characters, such as Luluco’s constantly arguing parents and her…..strangely-minded….boss, provided consistent humor. While I ended up surprisingly invested in the show’s surprisingly emotional conclusion, I would still classify it as the “most fun” of 2016.

Runner up:
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Aggressive Retsuko was less “feel good” and more “feel secondhand pity for Retsuko as she suffers through a series of extremely relatable problems,” but it still managed to be a ton of fun. Whether it was watching an episode or two as a quick break or marathoning through several at once, I never failed to enjoy this surprisingly eloquent short.

Skins
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Pokemon Sun/Moon. I list this here mostly because of the very few series’s I picked up, this take on the 20 year old series has been incredibly fresh take on the series (posing, finally, a new animation style!) and actually not nerfing Ash for a change, but instead displaying that Pikachu is indeed very powerful from the get go. It’s something I’m really enjoying.
We also have Ash actually taking the time to learn about the Pokemon of the region before he goes and busts out into Alola like a nerfed newbie. I’m enjoying this new series of Pokemon immensely, and I can’t wait to see more.
(P.S – Tapu Koko is absolutely adorable. )

Runner up: N/A

Pleasant Surprise Award

These are are the shows that surprised us in a good way. In other words, it’s the positive version of ‘Biggest Disappointment’. It’s easy to build up expectations and make assumptions, but every now and then there’s a show that turned out way better than we could have predicted.

Moeronpan

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Given how much I hated the first DanganRonpa anime and how glad I was that they didn’t even bother attempting to make an anime for Dangan Ronpa 2, and even though Dangan Ronpa 3 is anime-original material not based on any game, I did not expect either half of it to be remotely good. I was prepared to hate it, ignore it and refuse to acknowledge any of it as being canon. Instead, both seasons of Dangan Ronpa 3 (Despair side and Future side, plus the final single episode Hope side) surprised me and gave me something watchable. I only started watching it when about four episodes of each were already out, and was kind of amazed when I binged through them all and wanted more. Plus it gave me Mitarai, who became one of my fave characters in the franchise.
It’s got its problems, definitely, and there were times when I found it uncharacteristically sadistic (yes, even for Dangan Ronpa). But for it to be as watchable as it was when my expectations were rock bottom was admirable and I have no problem accepting this as canon explanations for the lead-up to the events in both DR1 and DR2 and the fallout from the events in DR2/DRAE. The idea of having two separate series in Despair side and Future side that should be viewed side-by-side, episode-by-episode is also an interesting one that really allowed them to enhance eachother.
It’s probably unwatchable to anyone who hasn’t played the games (including Absolute Despair Girls, even) because it certainly assumes you have, but if you like the series it’s a surprisingly decent companion piece. My main complaint is that Alter Ego is completely absent when he really should have got a mention considering his role in DR2.

Runner up:

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I rolled my eyes when I read the synopsis for Magical Girl Raising Project, as its a combination of two things I’m find increasingly silly and overdone – edgy dark magical girl Madoka wannabes and Battle Royale style death games. I went into this expecting a bunch of grimdark bullshit that would be uncomfortably gleeful in its slaughtering of magical girls. And while it did come a little close to skirting that line at times, I was surprised how much this show got me to genuinely care about the characters in it. Each of them has their own back story, and the cast is extremely varied. There are a surprising number of cast members who are adult women in their human forms and one of them is even a boy. It’s a shame that it has a lot of cliches that would turn people off (and I have no idea if Fav looking like someone mashed Kyuubey and Monokuma together is intentional or not), that and its relatively bland lead character are what I found to be its main flaws.

Ariana

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With how much of a mixed bag ClassicaLoid’s first episode was, I was initially a bit cautious about picking this series up to review. But I’m thankful I stayed with it after its rocky start, because this has basically become my favorite series this season. I initially kept my love for this series hidden or just brushed it off as a guilty pleasure, but you know what? I’m not ashamed anymore to admit how invested I am in this series. The whole premise of the series is ridiculous, and the writers know that. So instead of making any attempt at being serious, ClassicaLoid just revels in its ridiculousness and attempts to be as funny as it can be. I haven’t laughed at an anime this much since Osomatsu-san. I realize that ClassicaLoid is definitely not for everyone. A few people may find the premise a little TOO embarrassing/cringey/ridiculous/etc. But if you’re looking for a solid comedy anime, ClassicaLoid is worth a shot.

(Ariana is reviewing ClassicaLoid here!)

Runner up:

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It started off as a pretty basic and clichéd anime about “cute girls doing cute things,” but Sansha Sanyou ended up being far more entertaining than I was expecting. I think it was because of the series’ rather clever writing and interesting characters. This series also probably has some of the nicest animation I’ve seen this year. Like your typical slice-of-life anime, but funnier and wackier.

Junko

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Kiitarou Shounen no Youkai Enikki is a four-minute piece that’s mostly slice of life and rather thin on plot, but is surprisingly good despite what would usually be a condemnation (especially for a short). The yokai designs are clever, cute and colorful, and the show is unafraid to showcase the more “ugly” looking creatures. The end of each episode also contains brief facts about the yokai Kiitarou encounters, which is both fun and informative. The art style is also very nice, even being reminiscent of painted screens or watercolors in certain scenes.

Runner up:N/A

Skins
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Aria the Avveniere. I put this here only because it even existing in the first place is nothing short of a miracle. The Aria series has been out for a long time, but it wasn’t adapted too well from the manga. As much as I absolutely adore the series to pieces, and am desperately sad that the full manga will never be translated, I was beyond over the moon to discover that this three episode OVA was to be released.

That in itself, along with its fresh new content, along with flashes to the past, and bits and pieces of the manga that I sincerely hoped to see animated in the original series (but never were), finally making the light of animated day? I was so happy and surprised.

Runner up: N/A

Best Scene/Episode

Anime is full of memorable moments, and these are the ones that will stay with us from this year:

Moeronpan

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It’s difficult for me to pick what part of episode 10 of Yuri on Ice was the best because there was just so much in it that was amazing, so it’s the entire episode for me. The events in it made discussion dominate the twitter hashtag rankings for almost the entire day after it came out, and its not hard to see why. Not only do we get the chance to see most of the skaters letting their hair down and getting some well-needed time off the ice, it also contains both the infamous wedding ring scene and the even more infamous dance-battle end credits told via phone photos, along with one hell of a plot twist. Definitely the most memorable episode of anything I saw this year.

Runner up:

The end of Dangan Ronpa 3: Hope Side. This is the bonus episode that ties both halves of DR3 together. And yes, I know. I know it’s corny as hell and a lot of people weren’t happy with how happy it is was, as apparently it was a copout to give it such a happy ending. But look, I’m a huge sap. I love these characters and I had wanted to see them get a happy ending ever since I finished the incredible climax of DanganRonpa 2 a few years back. They deserved this. So I was more than glad to finally have that granted to me, but that’s not all…I’m mainly saying this because there’s a scene where Mitarai breaks down crying because he finally realised the others were his friends and they don’t hate him and hugs the SHSL Imposter who had been there for him this whole time and I’m just 8′)
Ariana

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Flip Flappers Episode 6. While Flip Flappers has always been rather ambitious with its fantastical worlds, each new episode only mildly impressed me—that is, until episode 6. Episode 6 is just leagues ahead of the rest of the episodes in the series. And I would even say the writing in that episode alone is leagues ahead of many of the anime I had watched this year. I can’t go into specifics because it would spoil the episode (and the episode is really best watched unspoilt). But wow, I’ve never seen that particular subject portrayed in an anime in such an elegant and masterful way.

Runner-up:

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Space Patrol Luluco Episode 12. I have too many feelings about this episode and not enough space to talk about it, and also the episode itself has HUGE spoilers. So I guess all I can say is that I really loved the animation/visuals in this episode. And I really loved the message of this episode. I wish I could gush about it but it’s a gigantic spoiler for the entire series. So I’ll just leave it at that.

Junko
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“Turnabout Promise” is the only fully original episode in the anime adaptation of Ace Attorney, so I was initially dreading unnecessary filler. Instead, what viewers got was an adorable look into the events that brought Naruhodou, Mitsurugi, and Yahari together, and the progression of their brief but meaningful childhood friendship. It was a great new peek at the bond between Naruhodou and Mitsurugi, which has always been one of the series’ key relationships. Plus, the design of the episode was cutesy and colorful, and the child versions of the characters are just too precious (especially little Mitsurugi already rocking the suit look).

Runner up:
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It seems like Yuri!!! On Ice broke the Internet with each successive episode. There are so many things that I could have nominated for “Best Scene,” but, ultimately, I had to go with one of the series’ most iconic moments: the kiss on the ice between Yuri and Viktor at the end of Episode 7. It was sweet, it was heartwarming, it marked a deliberate subversion of the “kiss a person to shut them up when they’re angry,” trope, and, best of all (for me at least – and for Yuri!) it was completely unexpected. It was a great moment that marked the official start of what would go on to be a healthy, loving and adorable relationship, so I definitely had to award it.

Honorable Mention:

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Episode 7 of Space Patrol Luluco saw Luluco, Alpha Omega Nova and Midori visit a planet inspired by Studio Trigger’s earlier work, KILL la KILL. As a huge fan of the series, I adored the clever reference, which included Luluco and Midori making fun of some of the show’s more ridiculous plot points – who makes an entire planet out of thread, indeed. And I can’t deny nearly tearing up a bit when I heard “Before my body is dry” playing on screen once again. (Nor could I help singing along – don’t lose your WAAAAY!)

Skins
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The pair-skating in Yuri on Ice Episode 12. We all wanted it. We all were hoping against hope it’d happen. And when it did, we were blown away. From the beautiful matching outfits, to the duet version of the song that spoke of a lover’s plea, to see this ending was incredibly satisfying.
It was beautifully animated and the costumes, and lighting, the music, was gorgeous. I can’t say enough about this very special scene and it certainly made a very bad year end on a positive note.

Runner up: N/A

Best Adaptation

Adapting manga/games/novels/etc into animation can be a tricky business with wildly varying results – but some studios and directors have this down to an art. Here are the anime we thought outshone their source material, or at least came close to it:

Moeronpan

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I never thought I’d ever type these words but: Studio Deen were on a roll this year. I’d give this award to Showa Genroku Rakugo Shingu although I haven’t actually read the manga of that (it’s definitely in the to-do pile now, though) so cannot be a fair judge. (Similarly, I cant nominate Mob Psycho 100 for the same reason), so it goes to Sakamoto Desu Ga.
I did read a few volumes worth of the manga before the anime was announced, though, and found it funny enough then but to be honest a lot of the jokes actually work better in anime form. The comic timing, voice acting and movement add a lot to it, but what I’m mostly impressed with in this adaptation is the music. It’s jazzy and cool, and it suits Sakamoto a lot. Also, that opening was incredible.

Runner up: N/A

Ariana

awards

Although I did not have the time to check out the manga of all the series that I watched this year, I did manage to check out the manga for Sweetness and Lightning. And having finished reading all of Crunchyroll’s scanlations for the manga before the anime finished airing, I thought that the Sweetness and Lightning anime was a really good adaptation of the manga. What I liked the most about the anime is that it adapts the manga faithfully, but not strictly—the anime adds in its own little touches and flourishes. I really wish this is something more anime did, instead of sticking so rigidly to the source material. Making an anime is distinctly different than making a manga. Some scenes might work better in manga format than in anime format, and vice-versa. Thus, anime directors/writers need to account for that and adapt to that. Sweetness and Lightning did a really swell job in that respect, which is why I’m nominating it for this award.

Runner up:

awards

Sakamoto’s anime is about as faithful of an adaptation as you can get when a manga series gets an anime adaptation. While I do wish this anime adaptation had stuck a little less rigidly to the manga material (see my thoughts on this up above); I do appreciate that the anime was extremely accurate to events that happened in the manga.

Junko
awards
Magical Girl Raising Project adapts the first in a series of light novels. I’m not usually a huge light novel reader, but the show inspired me to chew through the entire series in a couple days. I think the anime did a great job of hitting all the plot beats from the novel. In addition, it adapted several short stories from supplementary volumes later in the series, which provided much-needed moments of character exploration for some of the more minor girls such as Nemurin, Magicaloid and the Angels. The decision to adapt supplementary material to flesh out the show without resorting to filler clinched the “Best Adaptation” award for me.

Runner up:
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The Ace Attorney anime adaptation has been pretty divisive in terms of fan reaction, but I have to place it firmly on the “Best” side. It managed to cover (most of) the first two games in the series, focused on key character arcs like Mitsurugi’s while still giving some time to side characters, and expanded on moments not included in the game (especially through the anime-original episode “Turnabout Promise”). I may be overly forgiving simply because I frankly never expected an Ace Attorney anime to ever see the light of day, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable and a welcome addition to series canon.

Skins
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Admittedly, I watched very little anime this year in comparison to previous years, so I can’t say much about other anime, but Boku no Hero Academia certainly followed the manga very, very well. I had not read the manga before I saw the anime, so I did a reverse of the norm and purchased it after I saw half the series. I was very pleased to see that the scenes were animated very, very well.
Runner up: N/A

Best Opening

2016 also saw a whole load of new super catchy anime theme songs. We judged them on both the song and the accompanying visuals…good openings, after all, are the type you don’t mind sitting through every time. (Note: Due to the nature of copyrighted songs, some of these were either not available for youtube embedded or only in compromised versions. They also likely may be pulled at any time.)

Moeronpan


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Dean Fujioka’s ‘History Maker’, the opening theme for Yuri on Ice, will be remembered for years to come as an incredibly iconic and catchy opening and I always loved hearing it every week. But its not just the song that I love – the opening itself, with its minimalist style and beautifully moving forms of the three main characters, is gorgeously unique. I still remember when I first saw it, it really made me think ‘animation is so amazing’. It really stays with you.
Runner up:


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On the other end of the ‘unique’ scale is Mob Psycho 100’s opening, which I can only describe as ‘psychadelic’. I cant really explain it in any other way, so you’ll just have to see it for yourself. You’ll be humming that song for weeks.
Ariana

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Sakamoto desu ga?’s OP is extremely catchy, with dramatic and over-the-top-visuals… fitting, as we’re talking about Sakamoto here. Not much I can say here. Just watch the OP and prepared to be mesmerized by all the colors.

Runner-up:

awards

It was surprisingly hard to choose a runner-up for this award… but I ultimately have to go with Poco’s Udon World’s OP. It sounds an awful lot like an 80’s (early 90s?) song, and I really love it for that. Other than the song, the OP itself is rather typical anime fare, but gosh darnit it’s just such a cute and heartwarming OP.

Junko


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I found Boku dake ga inai machi / Erased to be an overall mediocre show, but man did I love its opening. Intense music contrasted with peaceful scenes of the child characters playing, and too-brief flashes of the killer’s hidden face kept the tension and suspense high. But the thing I loved the most about this sequence has to be the episode where all scenes of protagonist Satoru are literally “erased” from the opening, to reflect plot developments within the show itself. It may have only been in one episode, but the “erased” version of the opening was downright creepy in just the way it was intended to be.

Runner up:N/A

Skins


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Aria the Avvenire. I legit teared up when the oh so familiar song came onto the screen. The nostalgia alone is enough for this to shoot to the top, but honestly, the scenery and the beauty of it included in the opening was a surefire treat to watch. I’ll probably never get over the fact that this OVA exists, let alone how utterly precious it was.

Runner up:

Best Ending

Moeronpan


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My number one pic was the ending for Yuri on Ice, but given that Skins beat me to it and I wanted to put some different things in, I thought I’d go for Space Patrol Luluco. Which Ariana also beat me to, so, uh, SEKKOU BOYS IT IS. I couldnt find the TV size opening on youtube so have the full version here and a link to the tv version on daily motion here. It’s a really fun song and somehow manages to be better and catchier than any song from any of the custom-built male idol anime, go figure.

Runner up:


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The ending of season one of Ace Attorney features some really beautiful watercolour illustrations of Mayoi, who I love a whole lot. If only the whole show had as much effort put in. There’s also something weirdly nostalgic-sounding about the song that’s comforting in a way.

Ariana

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I am just in love with Space Patrol Luluco’s ED. I love the visuals, the songs; everything about it. The ED song definitely takes on a lot more meaning after you’ve watched the entire series. This is also one of the few times where I also really like the remixed version of the song (which fits the tone of the series very well imo).

Runner-up:

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Special mention goes to Flip Flappers’ ED for being a visual treat and an ear-worm. “Flip Flap!”

Junko


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Magical Girl Raising Project’s calm, quiet ending song provided a moment of peace at the end of every action, tension and sorrow-packed episode. I always felt as though it was a moment when viewers could literally catch their breath and process what had just occurred in the show. The accompanying pictures of the cast in poses of peaceful sleep also provided a nice, eerie contrast with the more sinister “sleep” that was most of their fates in the show. Also, the pronunciation and lyrics are surprisingly strong for an English ED, which definitely deserves a mention.

Runner up:


awards

I didn’t like Kuma Miko, but I love its ending. Small, pixelated versions of Natsu and Machi play together while the villagers sing a cheery, upbeat song about life in the village and their adoration of the title characters. It was definitely one of the catchiest endings of 2016. Now, if only the actual show had been this cute all the time!

Skins


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Yuri on Ice’s end theme, “You Only Live Once”. I loved the inclusion of social media in this series, so seeing an ending mostly made up of instagram photos was pretty awesome. It also featured some adorable shots of the cast, including our main duo. The song, too, once you know the lyrics and how it seems to speak from Viktor’s point of view, adds another layer of beauty to it.

WTF Award

Self-explanatory, what was the most absurdly ridiculous thing we saw this year?

Moeronpan

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Keijo is the kind of show that seems to have been custom-made to win this award. I reviewed the first episode here, but just to recap, it is about a sport where women slam their boobs and butts together to try and push eachother off a platform. That alone is silly enough, but its the gleeful abandon the show pursues its nonsense premise that truly earns it this award. There are characters with ridiculous special butt moves, magic butt-based powers and even one who can summon a whole load of butts in a parody of Gilgamesh’s Gate of Babylon in the Fate series. You gotta hand it to a show that has that much fun being ridiculous.

Runner up:
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I loved Sekkou Boys a lot, and mostly due to its bizarre premise. What would happen if a bunch of photorealistic statue busts became idols? This, apparently. This show was a riot.

Ariana

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Sekko Boys wins the WTF award, but I mean that in the best way possible. The premise is the weirdest that I’ve seen this year (imo), but it’s also an amazing(ly good) series.

Runner up: N/A

Junko

awardsTo Be Hero‘s plot still doesn’t sound to me like something that should be a real anime. “Attractive man becomes ugly but gains superpowers via an encounter that takes place in a toilet, fights alien invaders while cracking many more toilet humor jokes” just sounds….well, ridiculous. There’s no better way to describe this bizarre short than simply “WTF,” making it an easy top contender for me for this year’s WTF Award.

Runner up: N/A

Skins
N/A

Runner up: N/A

Biggest Disappointment

And here we move into the negative awards, starting with 2016’s biggest letdowns.

Moeronpan

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In three months it will have been an entire year since Erased ended and I’ll probably still be salty about it to be honest. I still cant quite get over how bad it got. Like I said once before – the shows that disappoint you the most are the ones that start out the best, as they’re falling from a greater height. Nowhere has this been truer than with Erased, which, until about 3/4 of the way in I was prepared to declare the anime of the year. To go from potential anime of the year to almost insultingly terrible is utterly tragic.
The problems began in episode 10, but quickly got worse and worse and the last episode was so over the top I couldn’t take it seriously at all. I am absolutely bamboozled at how many people are still calling it anime of the year after that. Maybe one day I’ll be able to let it go, but right now, I’m still so, so salty about Erased in a way I’ve rarely been salty about an anime before.
You can see my descent into the salt mines here.

Runner-up:

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On the other hand, Mayoiga was disappointing in a different way because I went into it genuinely expecting it to be terrible. It takes serious talent to make an anime so bad that even someone expecting it to be bad gets disappointed. Being that I’m probably too genre-savvy for my own good, the only reason I even paid attention to this was because I thought there was simply no way a show would have a cast that big and 2-dimensional if they weren’t all going to die one by one, and as much as I like to make fun of those kind of shows I’m still going to watch them because they’re addictive. But, and I don’t give a damn that I’m spoiling it here, nobody freaking dies. I had to endure these terrible, awful characters for absolutely no reason. None of them do anything, none of them learn anything, and nothing. happens. at all. After watching way too many episodes in the hopes that something,anything was going to happen in this, all I can think of is…why? What the actual hell was the point in this show?

Ariana

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Osomatsu san’s second season. It’s probably my bitterness and bias speaking, but I thought that Osomatsu-san’s second season took a massive nosedive in quality compared to the first. The second season had less funny episodes overall, and a lot of weird fanservice-centric stuff. The ending was also fairly disappointing; and yes, I’ll fully admit that I’m still annoyed at how they just side-stepped the story in the second-to-last episode of the series. Funnily enough, this continues my currently on-going trend of nominating a series for a “best” award one year, and then nominating it for a “worst” award in the subsequent year. I’m looking at you, Magic Kaito 1412.

Runner-up: N/A

Junko
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On paper, Kuma Miko’s premise sounds both hilarious and adorable. A girl raised by a talking bear gradually learning to adapt to life in the city so she could go to school there would have made a great show. Instead, we got creepy fanservice, unnecessary sex jokes, a forced relationship between a doormat and a generic tsundere, and an ending that literally resolved nothing and erased an entire season’s worth of Machi’s character development. “A talking bear worshipped as a deity” is such a strong concept, and when you add to that “bear’s adorable miko friend” and “stressed salaryman who manages the bear’s affairs”….basically, there was so much about Kuma Miko that SHOULD have worked, and yet ultimately didn’t.

Runner up:
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Ok, maybe I had too high hopes for Kiznaiver, given that I’m a huge Studio Trigger fan and eagerly look forward to each of their new offerings. But I do think that “people who are forced to share each other’s pain as part of a sinister experiment” could have been used for so much more than just a series of generic love triangles resolved through some of the oldest deus ex machina in the book (such as amnesia). There’s also the frustrating fact that the show looked so good – it has a sharp, dynamic color palette and some cool character designs – but ended up turning out to have so little substance.

Skins
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Show by Rock! Season 2. I went into this series with fairly decent hopes since I loved season 1, but honestly, season 2 just didn’t grab my attention much. Admittedly, it was heavily overshadowed by Yuri on Ice, but once I went back and watched it, I found myself struggling to finish it.
Which is a shame, really, since it had the potential to be a great second season.
Runner up: N/A

Worst Adaptation

Like I said before, adaptations are a tricky business, and every year we see a bunch of anime that end up being terrible regardless of the quality of their source material.

Moeronpan

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Even though I didn’t mind the first episode of Touken Ranbu Hanamaru, it wore out its welcome pretty quickly. It seems like I’m in the minority here because those that enjoyed it insist that people who disliked it must have been wanting something more serious instead of a slice of life show. The thing is…that’s not why I didn’t like it. I would have loved a good slice of life show about my sword boy friends doing nothing. It’s that it’s boring as hell. It is possible to be slice of life without actually putting me to sleep.
I watched approximately 6 episodes of Hanamura hoping to see my boy Hotarumaru, but gave up when he still wasn’t appearing. I decided to watch just the episode he appeared in once it aired, so I did that and this goddamn show even made Hotarumaru boring. They sidelined Hotarumaru in his own episode, and somehow he has more personality in a barebones freemium browser game than in this show. That’s a feat in itself.
Maybe this show could have worked if they didn’t try to awkwardly cram in all 5 million of the sword boys into one show so half of it is awkward cameos that go nowhere and the other half is lavishing attention on the less interesting characters. Watching these boys fluff around doing absolutely nothing is more boring than I thought an anime could be. At first I thought maybe I’m just too old for this kind of stuff now, and that if I watched Hetalia at my age now I would think the same thing. But at the same time, I am sure things actually -happened- in Hetalia, and that even though its no longer my cup of tea it was based more on comedy than a bunch of boys lazing around doing -nothing-. The weirdest thing about Hanamaru is that every now and then they -do- do something and the battle scenes aren’t that bad, but they’re so badly juxtaposed with everything else that i don’t actually know what the point was. But hey, what do I know, this was one of the best-selling shows in the season apparently.
SPECIAL MENTION: Simultaneous Best and Worst Adaptation Award
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As I said in the last episode review, Ace Attorney is so difficult for me to judge and I feel like it’s not really right to put it in either category. We definitely deserved better, and its definitely a let-down after nearly 10 years of wanting an Ace Attorney anime. But on the other hand the writers seemed to genuinely like and get the characters in a way that a lot of other more soulless game adaptations don’t. The end result was that it was more frustrating than good or bad and was stuck in a weird limbo between the two.
Ariana

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Handa-kun. I probably don’t know enough about the original manga to say this but whatever. I’m nominating Handa-Kun because seriously, that first episode was just abysmal. It tried to ape Osomatsu-san’s (now banned/censored) first episode without really understanding why Osomatsu’s first episode was so funny in the first place. If even some fans of the manga are calling the first episode bad, then… that’s pretty bad.

Runner-up: N/A

Junko
awards

Onigiri, despite being a mostly forgettable short, earns the ‘victory’ here for never letting the viewer forget that it was once a cell phone game. From the male characters literally being forced to speak in on-screen text boxes due to a lazy lack of hiring male voice actors to episodes randomly ending with a black screen (described as the game “shutting down,”) Onigiri’s cell game origins were used to cut corners and basically served as an excuse for the creators to be as lazy as possible.

Runner up: N/A

Skins
N/A

Worst Anime Overall

Finally, our personal absolute stinker awards. Because we know as much as anyone else that anime can be complete garbage when it wants to be, and so here is 2016’s cream of the crap:

Moeronpan

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I was actually supposed to do the first impression for Big Order when it aired, but I was tired. I had just done a long string of terrible first impressions and I no longer had the energy to do another one, although I wish I had anyway, because Big Order was so much worse than any of those. In fact, Big Order was so bad it was funny and I would have had a lot to say about it then.
To be honest, I hated Mirai Nikki a lot. It started out okay, but by the end I hated every single character in it so much and I only finished it because I for some reason thought it would be a bigger waste to devote the time I did to it without seeing it through. If you can imagine all of Mirai Nikki’s grating, terrible flaws dialed up to eleven, then you have a good idea of why Big Order sucked so bad. It was basically like watching a fight between kindergarterners in a playground who make things up as it goes along to justify why their imaginary attack can defeat the other kids. On the plus side, it seems every one else thought it was bad too.
Runner up:
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I actually feel kinda bad for ragging on Soul Buster. It’s adapted from a Chinese novel which is based on the Three Kingdoms, while also managing to be a hilariously transparent Fate ripoff, right down to the chivalrous gender-swapped lead servant. Ripoffs of more popular anime are a dime a dozen, so I would have forgotten about this show otherwise if it wasn’t for the absolutely awful animation and that terrible ink splatter effect it kept using for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. It may not have been bad enough to actually make me angry, but it was the very definition of ‘bargain bin anime’.
Ariana

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Bakuon. This is a show that is very obviously aimed at a very niche otaku market—the one comprised of dudes who really, really like girls on motorcycles. That in itself is kind of embarrassing, but the series goes one-step further to also be kind of inane. And not in the funny way, but in the really cringey, “this is stupid why am I watching this” kind of way. The characters are all pretty bland as well. I still can’t get over the SENSUAL TALKING MOTOBIKE.

Runner-up:

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New Game. I’m probably being harsh here, but this show was definitely one of the anime I reviewed this year that infuriated me the most. It’s a “cute girls doing cute things” type of show, but without the clever comedy of something like Sansha Sanyou, and with all of the annoying “moe” stuff that you see in every anime ever.

Junko
awards

I didn’t choose Mayoiga for this category simply because I hoped for a kill em all show and didn’t get that. No, there were many more reasons why this show is truly the worst of 2016. To name only a few: unnecessarily huge cast of characters, of which no more than 2-3 got any significant development, bizarre and utterly non-scary monster design, a main couple with next to no chemistry, a villain reveal that came out of left field, and DID I MENTION THE GIANT BOOB-TICK-MONSTER? Add to that the fact that Mayoiga is actually an original anime, not adapted from any existing media, and I found myself left with the question: why on earth did this show need to exist in the first place?

(Oh, also: Dear the rest of the internet. A male yandere does not a deep, interesting or cute character make. Love, Junko.)

Runner up:
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Hatsukoi Monster was just downright uncomfortable to watch. A relationship between a first grade boy and a much older girl is uncomfortable, no matter how much you try to ‘play it for comedy’. Plus, the sheer level of dumb, immature humor that the first grade cast spouts left me never wanting to hear the word “wiener” again in my life. A truly gross show that left me feeling vaguely sick to my stomach throughout its entire first episode (which was all I managed to get through) is the clear choice for second worst anime of 2016.

Skins
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Super Lovers. I hate the fact that this anime exists and I hate that a second season of this trash got announced. Why it was even made baffles me and it really disgusts me on a personal level. Thus, it gets this award.
moeronpan: given that i just had to search through a dumpster fire of terrible images to find the one that least made me want to die to put in this review i just wanna extend a big warm steaming Fuck You to everyone who liked this show enough for it to get a season 2, or to make it be adapted into an anime to begin with.

Runner up: N/A

So what was your year in anime like? What would you have nominated for these categories?
Onwards to 2017!

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