Jonathan's Fave 2016 Anime (He Actually Finished)

2016 was not a great year for me anime-wise. Life hit me with a hammer, and I spent my energy on other endeavors, so I did not finish many shows. It did not help that most the shows this year were just bad or uninteresting. As I prepare to play catch up with the big Fall shows and start 2017 (I will be a monster if I miss Rakugo and Flip Flappers), I decided to look at the anime I did finish this year, pick out my favorites, and talk about them a little. With my slim list, shows that could easily be forgotten in my normal round-ups finally have a chance to shine, and also Love Live is here because Love Live is good.

I like Love Live.

Active Raid S1

Pretty sure this already got a second season and I completely skipped over it. Active Raid is a weird inclusion here because after the first season's lackluster ending, I have no desire to continue with it. But that first season still happened, and it made me smile so much. Goro Taniguchi's wacky cop dramedy is something that works better as an episodic farce than a serious show about generation gaps, political corruption, and law enforcement. The series main story was very disappointing in the long run, containing a lot of good ideas on paper that never really meshed. But the single episodes all really stand out because the cast of this show is hilarious and wonderful, and may be enough for me to play catch up with it later.

There's a cute family dynamic to the wacky Unit 8 that really makes the show. Main character Asami is the headstrong adopted daughter, Takeru and Soichiro are two bickering old dads, and everyone else is that one weird uncle or cousin, including a train otaku and a hacker who used to be the the greatest gambler in all of Japan and once saved the team through her poker face while wearing a Chinese dress and butterfly mask. Everyone is weird and wacky, even the supposedly normal Asami, who takes everything too seriously and speaks in random English at times. It's a great, surprisingly witty comedy that could benefit more from keeping the tone on the light side. More trying to distract otaku stalkers in giant robots by pretending to be otokonoko idols and less man violently sacrificing himself for the sake of his family we never see, k thanks.

Love Live! Sunshine!!

I cannot tell you how much I needed this show this year. 2016 was just the absolute worst in so many ways, and stuff like Love Live Sunshine helped me keep going by reminding me to keep trying. Also like three of the girls this time were The Nico of the cast and that was wonderful. Sunshine outdoes the original show in every way possible, with a ton of goofy characters with fantastic chemistry, lots of energy, and a ton of memorable lines and sight gags. Riko giving a horrified scream that Chika may see her yuri doujins, Yohane catching Ruby and Dia, Hanamaru being in awe of a blow dryer, You almost dying because she tried to catch a uniform falling outside with all the unbridled joy of a kid at Christmas, Dia revealing herself to be a massive dork, and wow I haven't even gotten to Mari! There's just so, so many amazing jokes and moments, and the drama matched great alongside them. The show's sheer sincerity sells every conflict so much.

I also loved that the show is well aware of what came before it, and turns that into the central theme of the show. The cast are all trying to figure out who they are and how they work together. What is their appeal? Can they really be like their idols? Should they be like their idols? The end result is some of the best character writing I've seen in awhile, hiding nuance in slapstick and vaudeville (which was mostly Yohane).

Also You is my talented daughter now and I support her and her girlfriend Yohane.

KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!

There are a few shows out there I can say were made just for me (particularly the first Grisaia anime), but it's rare they end up being good, especially when they're light novel adaptations. But damn it, KonoSuba is just the most incredible, near perfect comedy and so absolutely me. It's a trapped in a fantasy world yarn that follows the extras instead of the big hero, and through by just how much they suck in such strange ways, they completely upset the entire flow of events while never getting what they actually want. Kazuma is just the biggest piece of shit imaginable, Aqua is a spoiled dolt that constantly whines both when it is and isn't called for, Megumin is the biggest dork who ever live and only good at one thing in such a way that it circles back around to being bad, and Darkness is just doomed to fail forever and she might be okay with that.

And yet all of these terrible, miserable people are endearing and likable. They have great chemistry with each other and show genuine affection for each other. They are absolutely not heroes, but that's what makes them great. They're people. Horribly, horribly flawed people with awful moral codes, but people none the less. Their misery is oddly relatable. We can laugh at them as well as with them. Just like myself, they're the degenerate peasants making the best out of bad situations and finding something to smile about as everything constantly goes wrong. No matter how bad they get, and they get bad, I still find myself routing for them and wanting them to find a happy ending. I am so ready for season two.

Myriad Colors: Phantom World

Hello everyone, I'm trash. I haven't finished Rakugo or Euphonium S2, but I've finished Phantom World. Yeah.

KyoAni's trash show of the year was still better than most shows put out by other studios by sheer production quality. This show has some great animation and fantastic art design, but what made it stick around for me is the fun characters. Haru made for a surprisingly entertaining harem lead because of how much the show loved to dunk on him. The show mascot, Ruru, was just an adorable bit of energy for the gags, while every one of the remaining main cast had a memorable quality to their archetypes that helped them stand out. Kurumi is a young girl obsessed with bunnies and bears and she is very good. Reina turned out to be Kirby as a cute girl, which was kind of amazing. Mai made for a fantastic heroine (even if she did become a perv magnet), but Minase somehow stood out as my personal favorite for out of place she felt in the sillier episodes.

I kind of hope any future seasons go anime original, because the novels start taking themselves ultra serious shortly after where season one leaves off. The premise of humans learning to live with weird monsters and spirits is more suited for creative comedy than serious action or drama, and the cast is so ridiculous that the wacky monster of the week formula just works better than any attempt at anything serious. It's trash, but it's high quality trash.


This is a show that could have been more than it was, but it gave me a lot of feels so I can't complain too much. The story of a bunch of people regretting their past choices and giving their old selves a second chance was hokey and kind of beautiful, production issues be damned. It dealt with some super serious subject matter, but I think it pulled off everything it wanted to do and then some. It's very sincere, even when it pulls some groin inducing plot stuff (do not get me started on the bully character).

It's kind of awe inspiring how much attention to detail went into this one at times. Everything is foreshadowed instantly by Kakeru's odd smile every time it appears, with the smallest changes in it speaking volumes that the dialog could never hope to say. Even has things started to fall apart behind the scenes, those face close-ups remained very detailed and the show's strongest aspect. It's amazing how much is said just through character expressions, I so rarely see this in shows that aim for a more realistic bent like this. Orange is a hard show to talk about because of how much of it is drenched in spoilers, but I can say that it's probably one of the best melodramas I've ever seen.

Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan

I'm still amazed this series was written by a guy. Galko-Chan is a show staring a high school girl with a cheesecake style body, yet it remains one of the most popular shows among feminist circles this year. It's hard not to see why. Galko's cute trick is that it sets itself up as a dirty comedy, but those talks of bodily functions and boobs have a different feel to them. The show is actually a look at teens trying to figure things out in an awkward time in their lives, showing how they relate to other people and the sort of things they ponder. One scene may revolve around a guy wondering what it's like to have breasts, and another may just have Galko and Otako talk about anime. The dirty humor is kids asking real things they wonder, or pointing out things normally never talked about in other shows. For example, Galko's cup size is shown more as a hindrance for her because she can't find a bra in the right size she likes, and she actually makes a connection with a saleswoman with the same problem who helps her out. It's not a moment of fanservice or a dirty joke, it's just showing something people have to deal with in life and making a cute joke out of it.

What's unexpected is that the very archetypal characters (almost all named after their archetype) are treated as characters proper. There's a few episodes focusing on Galko and Otako's friendship that are surprisingly strong. The first has Otako worrying that she went too far in teasing her friend and showing real remorse, and the series ended showing how the two became friends despite how Otako pre-judged who Galko was because of her looks. Galko-Chan is an adorable show that speaks real wisdom and manages to embrace its smutty thoughts in a sincere way. It's funny, but it says a lot of important stuff the youngin's need to here – and what us grown-ups need to be reminded of.

And to think, this show's first joke was Otako drawing circles on the top of a balloon to guess at Galko's nipple size. How first impressions can mislead.


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