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Japanator Awards 2016: Nick's Top 5 Anime of the Year

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Death, heroes, and cats

While 2016 has been kind of a bummer year all around, there have been some great anime releases. Series challenging typical action tropes, traditional animation, conventional character growth, and even redefined how long an anime had to be to tell its story.  

It was much harder to sit through an entire anime series this year since I had taken so many losses, but thankfully the series available had much more to offer and thus made it easier to devote my time to them. I mean, I'm sitting here writing about my favorites and that's something I never would've thought I had done a year ago. I hope you like reading through my choices.

With all of that said, let's get to it. Here are my picks for the Top 5 Anime of 2016. 

5. Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School 

The Danganronpa visual novels were one of my favorite video game series of the last few years. A dark series full of death, kooky characters, and mystery was naturally primed for an anime series. But unlike Spike Chunsoft's first attempt, which only summarized the events of the first game, Danganronpa 3 fleshed out the series' ever evolving story. This ambitious show laid out its story over two series: the Despair Arc, a prequel telling the events leading up to the games, and the Future Arc, a sequel bringing the narrative to a close.

While it won't have much to offer for non-fans, this series was an absolute delight for those who've devoted their time to the series. Series characters got more development, especially fan favorite Chiaki, and the brutal death scenes are still some crazy stuff. I kind of prefer the story told in this matter, also, rather than reading through endless lines of text in games. If you're a Danganronpa fan, you should check it out if you haven't already. 

4. My Hero Academia

There just aren't enough anime shows with positivity, much less action oriented ones, so My Hero Academia was a welcome breath of fresh air. Mixing both Eastern and Western superhero tropes, the series follows the young Midoriya as he tries to be a superhero in a world full of heroes. Struggling with his lack of power, his bright, never give up attitude eventually grants him the opportunity to join the titular academy and it was fun throughout.

The action is slick, with a color palette aping Western cartoons (complete with thick bold outlines), the character design is kooky (I love the invisible girl, haha), and I can't wait for season two. Also, the fact that his power is activated by yelling out "Smash!" is one of the most inspired things ever. More please. 

3. Mob Psycho 100

Much like ONE's other prolific effort, One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 defies your expectation of what an "anime" truly is. With its crude, but highly expressive art style, this is series is just as bold and kooky as its narrative. A story about young psychic who bottles up his emotions until they explode in an awe-inspiring display of power and his con-man mentor, this series is one of the most unique projects to release in quite some time. Its fight scenes alone are the most gorgeous and slick scenes this year, and honestly, some of the best anime has to offer. 

What's even better than its animation is its central hero, Mob. Much like the rest of the series on this list, Mob is a non-traditional character than prefers to chase self-improvement for his own sake rather than rely on his godly psychic talents to get ahead. Mob's just a simple guy who's just happy to have people in his life, and that's a good message you don't get anywhere else. And I still haven't mentioned Reigen, one of the best new characters of the year! This is definitely a must watch. 

2. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

Ever since I started reading as a kid, I've always been drawn to stories of growth. The monomyth (or hero's journey) is an outline many anime series follow, but Re:ZERO was the first time I had seen it used so effectively. What many stories fail to grasp properly is the "struggle" part of the hero's journey. Struggles and hardships are what spark character evolution, and no series excelled at struggle better than Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-. The series' main character, Natsuki Subaru, wakes up in a fantasy world (much like other anime shows sharing the same premise), but unlike other characters, he's forever trapped in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop that resets every time he dies. 

Along with the pain of death, Subaru is constantly forced to confront his poor choices as he relives his bad days over and over again. At the start of the series he's a selfish loner, but after facing all kinds of heartbreak, mortality, and anguish, Subaru becomes less so. The greatest thing is that his changes aren't explicit, nor drastic. He's not some superpowered hero who grows in strength thanks to his bonds or something like that. He's just a normal guy who makes small changes to his personality, and it's awesome to see how his differing choices affect the characters around him. Re:ZERO is an intentional grind of a series, but it's so worth the trouble. 

1. She and Her Cat: Everything Flows

She and Her Cat is pure art. A short miniseries about a girl struggling to find work, told through the narration of her cat Daru, had quite the emotional effect on me. I'm still astounded at how a series that's twenty minutes in total could do so much. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles the rest of the anime on this list have, but it's not needed. It's just a short and sweet bundle of pure happiness. 

Sometimes that's all you need. 

Honorable Mentions: Digimon Adveture Tri. (because it's still not finished!), Gate, ERASED, KonoSuba


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Nick Valdez
Nick ValdezContributor   gamer profile

Nick Valdez likes Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and songs about butts. Some genius will hopefully combine the three someday.  more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #anime #feature #Japanator Awards #Japanator Original #top stories

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