In May of 2016 I decided it was time to start a blog. I’d been watching seasonal anime for awhile and tried various forums and discussion boards to try to get a sense of community and a conversation around what I was watching without much success and took the plunge starting my blog a few weeks into the Spring anime season. Turns out 2016 was my favourite year of the last decade for anime with some massive titles coming out that still dominate my favourite anime of all time lists. With so many amazing titles to choose from Ajin and Bungo Stray Dogs tragically didn’t make the final cut but both were worth noting within the year. As always, I’d love to know what your favourite anime from the year were so be sure to leave a comment below.
No. 1: No sequels of any kind.
No. 2: Only one anime from each season which gave me 4 picks from each year. I totally cheat in this list. That’s okay. I made the rules.
No. 3: Other than 2019 anime, no matter how brilliant an anime was if I hadn’t rewatched it since it aired then it didn’t make the list. If I don’t like it enough to watch it more than once then it doesn’t deserve to be on an anime of the decade list.
Incidentally these anime are not the technical best anime of their seasons but are the ones I would pick if I could only watch one anime from that season. They are anime I loved, for whatever reason, and felt deserved to be remembered.
A mystery drama with a time travel element? Sign me up. While there are plenty of holes to be found in Erased if you look too closely at the plot and the ending of the anime is a little lacking (the live action series on Netflix is less fun to watch but has a more solid conclusion), Erased was one of those anime that I just fell in love with. I liked the premise and found Satoru to be an interesting character in his hopelessness as an adult and his earnest efforts when returned to his younger self to try to change the future. It also gave us a great anime mum for a change and that’s something to celebrate.
Having rewatched this series numerous times and introduced several people to anime through it, the mystery/time travel hook has worked on a number of my friends, Erased is an anime that was well worth watching and is well worth holding onto as the decade ends. If you missed it be sure to give it a go.
My Hero Academia
Do I actually need to justify this one? Though in fairness, I didn’t start watching at the beginning of the season. I wasn’t interested in another super hero story. A few rave reviews of the first episodes later from other bloggers and I picked the series up about five episodes in and binged the lot. I was hooked. While my recent, less enthused coverage of season four might not show it, My Hero Academia was an anime that blew me away and drew me right in. The colours, the characters, the energy, and some actual depth to the structure of the super-hero society all worked together to make My Hero Academia a phenomenon that definitely left its mark on the decade and kind of defined the later years of the decade in terms of mainstream anime.
Whichever way, if you are one of the few anime viewers out there who has never tried My Hero Academia because of the hype around it, I strong recommend seasons 1 and 2. They are just solid entertainment and well worth the watch. Season 3 delivers some excellent moments as well but has a few more rough edges and I will admit at season 4 I’m starting to fall out of love with the franchise, but that will not change how amazing season one and two were.
The Morose Mononokean
From one of the most popular, main stream titles to this obscure and low key school, supernatural story, The Morose Mononokean. The story of a boy who picks up what he thinks is a bag and it turns out to be a yokai and then ends up having to work for the Master of the Mononokean in order to pay for his assistance. Turns out the master is also his classmate so it all works out fairly well. Honestly, this first season isn’t much on its own, though the recent addition of the second season had me revisiting where the story began and to be honest, this is one title that I’ve grown more fond of with time. Certainly it isn’t in the league of some of the others on this list but it is my list of favourite anime from the decade and so here we are.
If you are after your basic help the yokai of the week story with a bickering odd-couple at the centre and an interesting take on human and yokai relationships then you could certainly do worse than The Morose Mononokean. Okay, it doesn’t rise quite to the heights of Natsume Yuujinchou, but so few things do.
March Comes in Like a Lion
I’ve probably already mentioned a million times on my blog how much March Comes in Like a Lion (or Sangatsu no Lion) means to me. I utterly fell in love with the visuals, the characters, and following Rei’s ongoing struggles as he tries to pull himself out of depression and find what he wants in life, and whether that actually is being a pro-shogi player. There’s so much heart in this series and just a stunning understanding of human emotion that only gets better in season 2 even though season 1 was already a phenomenon in its own right.
There is no way I could have made a list looking back at the anime of last decade and not included March Comes in Like a Lion. However, another anime came out in Fall 2016 that has to be mentioned because it was the anime that got me hooked on ani-twitter. Watching and following along with other viewers and spending the next week while waiting for the next episode looking at the speculation, the art works, and just getting swept along was a truly amazing experience.
Yuri on Ice
Yeah. Yuri on Ice came out in 2016 as well. Where March Comes in Like a Lion was a slow, contemplative title that slowly mined the emotional depths of its characters, Yuri on Ice was an explosion of personality and music that swept viewers along for the ride. Certainly there are criticisms that can be made about it, but for those who watched it the season it aired, the viewing itself became part of the experience and was part of the online anime community. This wasn’t another shounen title making the mainstream, this was an anime about male ice-skaters, their growth and their relationship. It was definitely a different kind of experience.
This is another one of those anime that I’ve gotten non-anime fans to watch. They start that first episode with Victor’s lonely figure skating and Yuri’s narration and a few hours later the story is done and I’m being asked what other titles they could try. Of course, there’s nothing quite like Yuri on Ice.
And that brings 2016 to a close. It was the only year in the whole decade I needed to cheat with my one anime per season rule, but I definitely had to include both of those titles. Be sure to let me know your favourite anime from 2016 and join us again tomorrow to look at 2017.
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