Best of 2016 – Anime Awards
Welcome to AllYourAnime.Net’s first ever Best of the Year Anime Awards! We’ve reviewed every season over this past year, giving us the confidence to pick out the titles that shined above the rest and are worth going back for if you somehow skipped over them. These are the titles that deserve to be remembered past 2016, exemplifying the best the year had to offer.
Below you’ll find the awards broken down into seasons, with winners for each and a couple runners-up that were too good to ignore outright. At the end only one of the four seasonal winners will be crowned Best of the Year. We also have a couple personal awards and a slot for Best Short of the Year. So, without further delay:
(Note: only TV anime were considered for these awards.)
Best of Winter 2016:
Linny: This show introduced us to an art form that I personally never even knew existed, and it made me fall in love not just with its own story but how the rakugo performances in the show are portrayed so skillfully. It still boggles my mind just how dramatic and moving this story got without ever becoming melodramatic. The characters all felt real and flawed and even though none of them were perfect, Showa made your heart ache for every single one of them.
Tom: Showa Genroku is a rarity among seasonal anime. Few seasons have more than one or two dramas, and even then they don’t always hold up well. But Showa is solid through and through. From its writing to its artwork that manages to capture the very essence of comedic story-telling, it’s a series that stands out easily amongst the rest of the winter’s offerings, not only coming from a genre that lacks much presence within the medium, but does what it sets out to do with near perfection.
Tom: Konosuba takes the all too common trope of a no-nothing NEET character ending up in a fantasy world and takes the piss out of it. Konosuba’s comedy is on point, hilarious, and adds a renewed sense of entertainment to a genre that’s perhaps been floundering under its own sheer volume. Konosuba didn’t quite deserve top spot, as its artwork sometimes floundered, and one particularly raunchy episode, while funny, seemed to lunge from out of the blue. But it deserves a mention as a surprise hit from the Winter season.
Linny: Konosuba doesn’t exactly exude class or top notch animation that could net it the top spot of a season. However, it does do hilarious things with a trope that’s been worn thin in anime and has characters that will win you over with their personal quirks. As already mentioned, the super raunchy random episode almost comes off feeling as filler, and is sure to turn off anyone who has issues with fan service but for all the times it had us in stitches, Konosuba deserves this runner-up spot.
Tom: Ajin is overlooked by many thanks to its CGI art. The anime fandom has been exceedingly unkind to the efforts of 3D animators, feeling their artwork is often an affront to the 2D artwork anime is known for. But Polygon Pictures is at the forefront of the CGI Anime boom, with simple, yet effective character designs, and more importantly adaptations that are far stronger than the average. It helps that the work they’re adapting, Ajin, is a strong story all on its own, but the anime has managed to add to the series, fleshing out smaller plot lines and rebuilding the story to make things tighter, more fluid, leaving the series feeling intense and entirely binge worthy for its Netflix release.
Linny: If there was a show that threatened to usurp Showa as my favourite show in the season, it was Ajin. It is a well plotted out action adventure with supernatural elements that don’t feel like generic shonen. The characters in it are smart, on both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides so there are very few tropey situations that happen for plot reasons. The encounters and confrontations are extremely nerve-wrecking and will have you on the edge of your seat. In fact, it wins hands down most ‘bad-ass’ villain showdown episode for me this year and if you don’t know what I’m talking about then you NEED to watch this show.
Best of Spring 2016:
Tom: My Hero Academia initially launched as a manga that managed to inject new life into the Shonen genre, a genre known for over reliance on classic tropes that often make many shonen feel outright predictable to more weathered readers and viewers. My Hero Academia may not be all that less predictable, but by focusing on emotional struggle, and making its lead, Midoriya, feel far more real and sympathetic than the average shonen hero, Academia manages to feel like an exceedingly gripping series that tries to keep its proceedings grounded in heavy methodology and mechanics, more so than other shonen.
Linny: My Hero Academia is perfect for those who are tired of how shonen protagonists always seem to have a ton of latent power or talent hidden in them which makes them extra special even if they have a somewhat hard life now. Midoriya of My Hero Academia constantly has to struggle to achieve even the smallest of victories and has to pay a painful price every single time he attempts to be heroic. It’s refreshing to watch a lead who has to fight tooth and nail to gain even an inch. While some may find this crawl to success too slow and teary, the show offers a wide cast of characters to keep others engaged and attached to its story.
Linny: Kabaneri was initially an impressive work and, despite heavy comparisons to Attack On Titan, had enough going for it to be an entertaining show all of its own. The artwork was impressive and the action engaging. The story itself might not have been the most original but it made up for it with the aforementioned elements. Sadly, the ending left much to be desired with an unexplained surprise move that ensured things ended on a happy note and ultimately, that happy ending negated all the tension and darkness, leaving viewers unsatisfied and puzzled.
Tom: Kabaneri making it here as a Runner-Up speaks to how weak Spring 2016 felt. It’s not to say Kabaneri is a bad show, offering up plenty of action, style and flare to make it one of the most visually gripping and intense anime of the year, but it’s flaws are undeniable. Kabaneri’s ending is in shambles, muddied by late game twists, turns and backstory all forced into the series final moments, taking what had been a train ride of fun and mayhem, and derailing it all at the last minute.
Linny: Luluco was the perfect celebration of all things Trigger and with a story that started off accessible to all, made for a promising and quick introduction to the lore of Trigger. Unfortunately, as the show progresses, the flurry of in-jokes and meta references become so intense that it made the show completely nonsensical to anyone who wasn’t familiar with all of the obscure works that Trigger dabbled in. Overall though, Luluco had enough humour and style that it remains one of the best shorts to come from anime in recent times.
Tom: Luluco is one of the better short-form anime that launched this year. It builds on everything studio Trigger is known for, making perfect use of their style and flare. The only trouble is the series dives heavily into self-referential material and meta humor that’s really only truly appealing for true fans of the studio, giving it a somewhat unapproachable feeling for people less knowledgeable of the studio.
Best of Summer 2016:
Tom: Kuromukuro is easily this year’s single greatest Original Mecha. It has compelling characters, incredible 2D artwork, and wonderful choreography for its fight scenes. Netflix split the series into two seasons, not quite doing this work justice, meant to be watched in one whole go. Kuromukuro also boasts incredible character arcs, strong writing, and a conclusion that, while not epic, fits in tone with the overall message and arc of the series. More original Mecha need to work for this quality.
Linny: As someone who usually avoids mecha like the plague, I can count the number of mecha that won me over on one hand. And yes, Kuromakuro happens to be on that list. It has interesting characters and a smart (for anime standards) heroine who stands up for herself and isn’t ALWAYS the damsel in distress. A lot of the characters get impressive characters arcs/developments and the show does a decent job of balancing the serious with the silly so you don’t ever feel overwhelmed by either. My only issues with this show are a character or two who I think are annoyingly self absorbed and an ending that felt a little too open ended and clearly gunning for a second season.
Linny: Re:Life is another show that managed to take a popular trope and make it feel fresh thanks to realistic characters and nice little surprises and reveals. As with Showa, the characters are flawed but that makes them feel realistic and even relatable for some. There is a nice balance of older adult issues with teenage angst to make it appeal to viewers who are way above the age of the characters in the show.
Tom: ReLIFE had an odd launch, being one of the few titles released via Crunchyroll to go up all at once, like Netflix likes to do. The series isn’t quite as easily binged as the titles Netflix chooses to license, but that doesn’t stop it from presenting a compelling drama that takes the tired school drama plot and adds a fresh new take. It helps that the characters are compelling, interesting, and the series manages to infuse new meaning into what’s really just teen angsty problems.
Linny: Mob Psycho 100 had a LOT of hype even before its actual premiere. However, it definitely took time for us to warm up to it thanks to its first episode feeling like a one note joke that outstayed its welcome. Once the show switched focus onto its protagonist and his inner emotional struggles and even his younger brother’s resulting issues, it turned into a compelling tale. The peculiar art style used in the show deserves a mention for it is sure to leave a mark on viewers, for better or worse.
Tom: Mob Psycho 100 took some time to grow on me. It’s opening episodes ultimately lack what makes the series so powerful later on: depth. Once the series gets going and we explore Mob’s character, as well as his brother’s, the series really begins to shine. It’s awkward art style notwithstanding, the series otherwise boasts some incredible artwork and fluidity that deserves to be noticed and praised. Real effort has gone into this adaptation, elevating the awkward visuals of its manga and adding in a strong art component making it a real feast for the eyes.
Best of Fall 2016:
Linny: With a super misleading title, Yuri!!! on ICE managed to surprise its viewers constantly with one of the more healthier representations of homosexual relationships in mainstream anime. It also helped introduce the anime fandom to ice skating, turning many into ice skating fangirls and fanboys. While the animation took a stumble as the show progressed, when it is at its best, it really is a sight to behold. Combine that with a mostly male cast consisting of all sorts of heart-throb looks and personalities, it isn’t a surprise that this show took the fandom by a storm.
Tom: Yuri!!! on ICE isn’t just your average sports anime. True effort has gone into trying to bring Ice Skating to the anime medium and it hasn’t been easy. Yuri!!! on ICE sadly stumbles in this, with animation often falling off the mark in an effort to render Ice Skating with the fast motion, spins and athleticism the sport is known for. But where the art does a commendable, yet noticeably deficient job, the series makes up for it with strong writing for its main cast of characters, offering up one of the healthiest and believable LGBT+ couples anime has ever had. The series keeps its yuri/yaoi bait low, instead focusing on the emotions and relationship of Yuri and Victor with an authentic realism much appreciated and sadly otherwise lacking across the medium.
Tom: Saiki K provides an incredible brand of meta humor, often poking fun of typical shonen conventions with some periodic self-deprecation along the way. Despite Saiki himself being just as overpowered as Mob or Saitama, the series manages to put a plethora of obstacles in Saiki’s way that always provide a chuckle or two. Sadly Saiki’s inability to sustain that initial quality, and some iffy artwork from time to time, prevent it from earning the top spot.
Linny: Saiki K seems like a completely forgettable show when you hear its premise about an overpowered psychic trying to lead an average life. But Saiki manages to come up with some truly hilarious and fast paced comedy, the kind that works best in short doses and that works perfectly with Saiki’s five minute segments. It’s humour level can wane throughout the season and while it comes nowhere close to being perfect, it does enough to deserve a place on this list.
Tom: Magical Girl Raising Project’s place on this list speaks to how lukewarm this Fall season ended. Many shows botched their endings, or perhaps weren’t even in the running to begin with. The fact that MGRP is here speaks to its ability to do its death game well, pitting uniquely designed magical girl against girl, masterfully preventing the audience from knowing who will live and die outside of its, sort of, main character. The show is riff with other issues however: difficulty in expanding on its characters, telegraphing deaths with flashbacks mere minutes ahead of time. But what it does well earns it a mention.
Linny: Dark takes on Magical Girls have become a lot more commonplace and MGRP was an unfortunate casualty of the fandom’s devotion to more popular past shows or even a general disenchantment with the genre. However, by being more of a brutal battle royale best watched for the sheer fun of guessing who’s next and the show making it a hard guess, Magical Girl Raising Project ends up on our runners-up spot for Fall 2016.
Best Short of the Year:
Tom: To Be Hero is also, perhaps, this year’s biggest surprise. To Be Hero initially seems like no more than an outright raunchy and uncomfortable comedy, straying into avenues of humor many dare not venture down. But To Be Hero has a soul underneath all that, with a powerful message and character development awaiting anyone who enjoys or can at least withstand its onslaught of eyebrow raising, yet oh so amusing, humor.
Linny: To Be Hero starts off and remains for the most part a crude and vulgar comedy that I would not fault anyone for finding a bit too crass for their taste. But for anyone who can look beyond that or enjoys the gross humour, the show is actually hiding intelligent, amusing takes on classic humour tropes and a heart of gold that slowly reveals itself ultimately ending up as THE short show to watch…given you can stomach the more unsettling jokes.
Tom’s Personal Pick of the Year:
Tom: My Personal pick for the year, highlighting an anime that maybe didn’t place, but definitely deserves to be remembered is the Fall season’s bombastic ecchi: Keijo. Keijo is what all Ecchi anime should aspire to be, interweaving its fan service and eye candy into a story that justifies their existence and never presents the girls as outright objectified. There’s more to Keijo outside of its boobs and butts, and while the story rarely extends beyond its tropey shonen trappings, it’s a huge step in the right direction for the Ecchi genre.
Linny’s Personal Pick of the Year:
Linny: Erased immediately won a spot in my heart the second it revealed a strong and independent single mother character who was not only super supportive and understanding of her son but also doesn’t get relegated to being there for the sake of being there. She’s smart, wise and adds a lot of flavour to the story even though she isn’t the main character. Add to that an interesting retelling and usage of the time travel trope, some heart wrenching child abuse, plus a gripping mystery and this show had a lot of viewers glued to their screens. Sadly, the ultimate resolution and final showdown felt like a huge letdown and that’s why I ended up leaving this show out of the best of its season. However, because it does so many other things right and left such an impact, I feel compelled to still mention it as my personal pick from the year and a show that I would wholeheartedly recommend to other..with some caveats, as always.
And Finally: Winner of AllYourAnime.Net’s Best of 2016 Awards:
Best Anime of the Year:
Linny: Showa Genroku is not for everyone. It is a slow drama and is most likely best watched by older viewers. However, it’s brimming with talent and craftsmanship from its visuals to its voice acting. helping to bring a somewhat unknown but classic Japanese art form into the view of a young fandom that might never have otherwise heard of it, all while introducing and developing characters that you will either connect or sympathize with. It’s an absorbing melancholic tale that skillfully avoids being too melodramatic, using an antiquated art form to entertain and appeal to a young and modern audience and lastly, an outlier in its medium. For all that and more, Show Genroku will always remain the anime of 2016 for me.
Tom: Showa Genroku takes the top spot thanks to its well written drama, angst free proceedings, deeply moving story and animation, that while not mind-blowing, does justice to the medium it depicts oh so well. In a time when anime is mostly fantasy and sci-fi, or seinen geared towards our more violent tendencies, it’s nice to see a series treat its truly adult subject matter with care and excellence. Showa has gone under a lot of people’s radar, but deserves to be remembered as one of the few times in 2016 that anime managed to produce a masterpiece.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment and let us know which Anime you feel are the best of 2016. We’ll see you next year!