Hey, Gang! It's that time of the year where we look back at the last twelve months and decide what was the best of the best. Since I like to cover more than just animated adventures, I'm putting my stamp on other things Japan related I've been encountered in the last year. So hope on and here is what I think was the best of the best in 2016.
4) Haruchika: Haruta and Chika
A series based on light novels, this series was like the scent coming from an air freshener. It wasn't heavy handed, over the top, but it still made you think. The adventures of two old childhood friends who are in a school's band club while solving puzzles is an interesting pitch and it worked well for the few episodes that it had. The series lacked any time to be able to expand on a lot of the characters, but the ones that were shown were funny and made the series really enjoyable.
3) Attack on Titan: Junior High
I loved these little toe rags! Since the series finished in January I can include it here. A parody of Attack on titan, this series took what was VERY heavy and made it hilarious. The hardcore fans thought it was a waste of time but I thought it was a fun way to lighten up. A silly series that made me giggle and have a good time.
2) Sailor Moon Crystal
I'm sorry but I loved this series! I waded through all the bitching and moaning people did complaining it's not the original series and really liked what was done here. Sure, the art had some issues, but I got into the story just as much with this series as I did when I first saw the original. I'll admit it had its faults but I took a lot more positive out of it than negative. It was a great series to watch and as an old school Sailor Moon fan I got into it.
This series should not have been good. This series should have been skewered to death and destroyed. But you know what? I enjoyed it. Other people enjoyed it. This show had me laughing literally every episode with just how insane it really was. This show took fan service and made it an art form with its creativity and not being afraid to be as silly as it could with a concept like this. Under any other circumstances, you'd think this show was have been buried and loathed, but I'll be damned if people aren't enjoying it for what it is. This not only was the biggest surprise for me but the most fun I've had with an anime series in a long time, so damn right I'm making it my top pick!
Match of the Year: Hiroshi Tanahashi v/s Kazuchika Okada WrestleKingdom 10
These guys had a major hill to climb. Not only did they have to the main event the biggest event of the year, but this was a rematch from the year before so they had to do something new. They delivered. The story of Okada never winning in the Tokyo Dome and facing the guy who not only beat him the year before but ALWAYS won in the Tokyo Dome made for a great stage for this contest. They gave it their all and made the match really exciting. Okada finally getting his big win made the story that much sweeter.
Junior of the Year: Will Ospreay
No one, and I mean NO ONE has made the splash in wrestling this year like Ospreay has. This 23-year-old Englishman shot to superstardom this year and is wanted around the world. He not only became an instant smash in New Japan but also in WCPW in England and Ring of Honor in the United States. Barring injury, this kid will only get bigger and better in 2017. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here.
Dud of the Year: Yoshitatsu
Poor Yoshi. Spent a year and a half on the sidelines with a broken neck and finally gets to make his comeback to see it go over like a fart in church. He went from teaming with Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi to teaming with Captain New Japan and cosplaying as Triple H in record time. If there is someone in desperate need of a change in career trajectory, it's this guy.
Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks/Jacksons
I didn't want to do it. I REALLY wanted to find someone better. I hate these guys with a passion. But there just wasn't anyone else that had the year these guys have had. Multiple tag title reigns in New Japan with the Jr. tag titles as well as runs with the ROH tag belts here in the U.S., these annoying little snots put on some great matches with teams over the last 12 months. So, having to bite down and bear it, these guys are my top team this year.
Wrestler of the Year: Tetsuya Naito
I thought over this one a lot, with Kenny Omega and Shinsuke Nakamura being possible other choices, but Kenny's got a bigger 2017 ahead of him and Nakamura is in the U.S. full time. Naito was the guy who was never over like Tanahashi, Okada, or Nakamura as a face. He was just an over glorified junior who got main event shots when the champ needed someone to beat. He would get booed out of buildings and while he had great matches, he just couldn't get over that hump with the fans. A radical change in personality and approach later and he has the crowd eating out of the palms of his hands. As the leader of Los Ingobernables, he has become a real threat in New Japan having won both the IWGP World and Intercontinental belts in the last 12 months and while The Bullet Club is teetering on being a bloated parody of itself, Los Ingobernables is primed to take their place. With great matches, big wins, and a style on his own, I give the master of Tranquillo the top spot for the year.
WTF story of the year: Parents leave kid alone on a mountain
Seriously, was there a more f'ed up story than this during the year? Yamato Tanooka's parents try to teach their misbehaving child a lesson by kicking him out of a car on a lonely mountain road, only to find out when they went back for him that the kid has vanished into the bear-infested, cold forest at the base of a volcano? Yamato seemed to be a tough little guy surviving for five days alone before wondering onto a Self Defense Force training base just as it looked like he wouldn't make it. Hopefully, this is a lesson to all the parents out there to NOT DO THIS.
Pop Culture fad of the year: PikoTaro
I don't think anyone has made so much out of a blend of writing utensils and produce. Dressed like either a pimp or a used car salesman and with dance movies of a drunk uncle at a wedding, this guy arrived out of nowhere to show use what to do with pens and fruit. Now he's on TV, has many spoofs, and even has a restraint in tribute to his ode to pineapples, apples, and pens. Gotta love it.
So with that, I bid adeu to 2016. I hope everyone had a happy holiday and may we all find health and good fortune and luck in the next year. See you all in 2017!
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