Top 3 Anime of 2016

At the end of last year, I did a post for my top 5 favorite books of 2016, which you can read here. And in that post I mentioned how I really wanted to make it a “top 3” post, but couldn’t due to having so many favorites.

Well, I finally have my top 3 post!

What better way to start off my first blog post of the new year than talking about something that has been near and dear to me since I was a little girl: anime.

I’m not quite the avid fan as I used to be, but I still love to watch anime when I can, and I like to think I’m pretty damn good at weeding out the quality, unique ones from the clichĂ©d. 2016 was a good anime year for me. Not only did I discover some gems, but I got to really keep up with the season’s crop.

So without further ado, here are my top 3 anime of last year:

3. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal: Infinity Arc (2016)

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I am all about the Sailor Moon remake. I’ve loved Sailor Moon since the show first premiered here in the ’90s. It took some getting used to the different art style, initially, but once I did, I haven’t looked back. Sailor Moon is a great show about girl power. The lead appears to be a loveable ditz who’s always late for school and fails in all her classes. But as the show goes on, she’s much more multifaceted, you learn. She’s relatable in that she’s romantic, she’s caring and compassionate, she’s strong, and she’s someone who’ll always have your back. Together with her band of girl friends, they use their powers to save the world from bad guys. In this particular arc, the story is really ramped up with the introduction of pivotal new characters, two of whom are possible love interests for two of the leading characters. This arc is emotional, romantic, sad, tragic, powerful, and some things happen that you just wouldn’t expect. You can probably tell I really enjoyed it, huh?

2. Orange (2016)

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I was wondering why the show was titled “Orange”, while scrolling through Crunchyroll, so I clicked on it. And I am really glad I did. First off, Orange is easily classified as “slice-of-life”, “school life”, “first love”, you know, classic themes that you can find in millions of shoujo anime. But what sets Orange apart from your typical shoujo are two things: a twist in the story involving contact from the future, and suicide. Yes. SUICIDE. How many shoujo anime deal with such a dark and sensitive topic? None. There are none, I tell you, at least not to my knowledge. I don’t watch much shoujo. It’s not my preferred genre for anime. But I digress. The story of Orange goes: a high school girl receives a letter from herself ten years in the future. And her twenty-seven year old self has regrets, one of which is that she could not save the boy she was in love with from committing suicide. With her help, she wants her younger self to re-write the future and save him. Younger Self, with the help of her amazing group of friends, set out to do just that. Did I mention how amazing her group of friends are? They are uh-mazing! Each one has a strong personality that somehow meshes well together and great character development throughout the show. When Love Interest enters, they are so welcoming to him, and make him instantly a part of their group *thatIwishIcouldbeapartof* and it’s beautiful. Love Interest is depressed due to tragedy in his own life, but he’s the type to hide how he really feels. But thanks to The Letters, Younger Self already knows what’s up with him. Orange is done so beautifully, and I’m not just talking about the wonderful art or music scores. There is a sense of realism. The characters are real and feel like your friends. There’s first love and the whirlwind that surrounds that. There are potential love interests, and even a potential love triangle. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but there’s also plenty of laughs and feel-good moments. Because despite the impending suicide, Orange still keeps it lighthearted, which is a relief and adds to that sense of realism I loved. Not only that but there are plenty of twists and an unexpected, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking ending. No doubt, Orange won the summer season for me.

And now, for my favorite anime of 2016. *Drumroll*

1. Yuri!!! on Ice (2016)

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Is anyone even surprised? This was the very last anime I’d watched of last year, and I’m glad it was. It was almost as if the Crunchyroll gods were saving this to be the cherry on top of a Black Forest chocolate cherry cake. Or just the bang to a good year of anime. So I’d heard about Yuri!! on Ice before I watched it due to all the hype surrounding it when it first aired. At the time, I wasn’t enticed to watch it because it was a mainstream sports anime about ice skating. No problems with ice skating, though it’s not my preferred sport. I haven’t watched a sports anime since I’ll Crazy Kouzu Basketball Club, and who remembers how long ago THAT was? But still, one doesn’t simply ignore a huge buzz like that from the anime community. Not for long, anyway. Like a fly buzzing around your ear, you eventually take a whack at it. See if it leaves you satisfied or wishing you’d never bothered. I spontaneously decided to watch it one day while waiting for my aunt to finish up with my laptop so I could get back to writing. There wasn’t really anything else on Crunchyroll I wanted to see at the moment, so I said why not, and played it. And the rest is history! No seriously, I was hooked. I did NOT expect it to be so good. Besides the amazing animation and that awesome opening song, I really liked the lead character, Yuri. He’s a 23 year old, shy, no-confidence figure skater who just failed miserably at the Grand Prix championship. Now, he’s questioning himself as a person and as an athlete. He’s insecure and stressed out. He’s binge-eating and put on a lot of weight. He wants to retire. Then enters Victor Nikiforov, a five-time consecutive world champion, and also Yuri’s idol since forever. He decides to take this season off and become Yuri’s coach so that he can re-enter the Grand Prix and take the gold. The plot doesn’t get much more complex than that. But what made Yuri!!! on Ice number one to me? The show is a direct smack in the face to stereotypes and anime tropes. The cast is filled with characters from multiple countries like Russia, Japan, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Italy, Canada, Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, etc. Can you spell d-i-v-e-r-s-i-t-y? Not to mention, most of these characters have strong personalities, as well as their own backgrounds, insecurities, goals, and competitive natures. The two leads, Yuri and Victor, are passionate. Not only about skating, but about one another. As the story grows, as Victor helps Yuri find his confidence and unlock his potential, somehow the two start a beautiful, emotional, yet subtle relationship. An actual, healthy relationship that was refreshingly well-developed and filled with feelings and moments you don’t typically see in yaoi or shonen-ai shows. There’s an engagement scene in a cold, Christmas-y Barcelona in front of a gorgeous cathedral, for chrissakes. It was definitely a squeal-inducing moment and totally unexpected.

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Yuri!!! on Ice is a perfect blend of competition and emotion. The artwork and skate choreography was beautifully done, and I’m in love with the featured music. The show is also technically well-done, as well. The creators of Yuri!!! on Ice were either former skaters or rabid fans who know the sport oh so well. I can’t describe how amazing this show is, but I hope you all want to watch it after this diatribe.

So, those are my top three anime of 2016. I’m a bit surprised at this list, since I’m always the one on the prowl for the darkest, goriest, or most twisted anime I can find.

Hmm, I think my next anime post will be a list of some of my favorite dark anime. What do you think?

Until next time,

Theophilia

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