Hey, I did a longer-form essay last year but I am severely lacking in both time and motivation this year, so I hope you enjoy reading more of my highly arbitrary awards, a tradition spanning… what, three years? In all honesty, we’ve been doing this so long that it all kind of blurs together, but at least 2016 had some pretty darn decent anime. Please also make sure to check out everyone else’s posts, as my GLORIO compatriots are all highly intelligent people who have interesting things to say. With no further ado… commence the arbitrary awards!
Best Show I Watched All At The Last Minute And At Great Expense
(The Yamato 2199)
I started watching this when it first aired, but a combination of various factors led to me dropping it with the intent of picking it back up when some of the dust from everything else settled. I suppose I technically did, in that I gunned through two-thirds of the show in one sitting the day before writing this very paragraph. It’s good! I hesitate to bring Baccano! up too often – especially since it really isn’t similar to 91 Days at all – but Shuka’s got a bit of experience with the whole mafia aesthetic, and they put it to good work. Add in some top-notch directing and a surprisingly solid conclusion, and we end up with a show I’m glad I managed to squeeze in.
Best Show from 2014 I Watched in 2016
Our resident Toku Team (and Marlin) watched and covered Gaim while it was airing, but I only jumped on the toku train recently with Ninninger and Zyuohger, and thus wasn’t privy to one of our top shows of 2014. Gaim might just be famed writer Gen Urobuchi’s best work, and I say this as a fan of Fate/Zero and Madoka Magica. Being locked into a toy-shilling, aimed-at-kids, 48-episode series about men in rubber suits meant Urobuchi had to dive into the philosophical core of his ideas without being able to rely on guns, tits, or gore to create drama. If you can enjoy (or overlook) the camp factor of Kamen Rider Gaim being… well, a Kamen Rider show, then you owe it to yourself to watch this one.
Best ED Playing at the End of the Episode
I’ve always been a fan of starting up the ED to sort of lead-out the episode, where the cut to credits can punctuate a perfect moment and bring it to even further heights. JoJo Phantom Blood probably popularized it lately (Roundabout is straight up a dumb internet meme at this point), and Log Horizon‘s first season used it for an amazing title drop. By the sixth episode, Flip Flappers already had a reputation of being coyly bizarre and surreal, the dream world of Pure Illusion making hardly any sense. It managed to turn that all around with a single shot, mixing a moment of incredible catharsis with sudden understanding of Pure Illusion’s potential. An excellent ending.
Best Show to Watch if You Suffer from Clinical Depression
If this sounds like a joke category, let me tell ya: it’s not. Sweetness and Lightning might have been a broader feel-good show, but Amanchu! went right to the heart. No other anime this year was able to sit down with the viewer and tell them that everything’s going to be okay. Maybe things are scary, disappointing, unknown, or just plain bad right now, but as long as you keep love and happiness deep within you, we’ll make it through somehow. Every single one of us is taking that journey through life and that means not a single one of us is really alone, if you reach out for help.
Best Single Episode
Mr. Osomatsu had some high highs and some low lows, but neither were quite as high-low and straight up bonkers as the Iyami Kart segment. Never before has a single episode of anime had me somehow simultaneously howling with laughter and staring slack-jawed at the screen in disbelief. As great as the show’s finale was, this could have been the last episode, with every character’s dumb running gags and character flaws smashing together into the most insane kart race since Carnival Phantasm‘s Holy Grail Grand Prix. We’ll remember this one for a long time.
Where Did That Come From?
(The Love Lab)
We’ve had plenty of time to get used to and learn to hate the “stuck in a video game” plot, with the isekai genre numbering more than grains of sand in the Sahara, but nobody saw this one coming. Every sign pointed to Grimgar being Just Another One of Those, where an aggressively generic guy gets a harem of cute girls as he enjoys his power fantasy. Instead, we got… well, some of that, but also a show about conflicting egos, being thrust into sudden responsibility, and having barely enough money to eat; a show about death, grief, and mourning; a show about reaching out to others, friendships being forged, and blossoming love. Grimgar‘s anime staff fought hard against its light novel roots, and we ended up with something that had no right being as good as it was.
(The Amnesia Ghost)
Look, Chitose’s pretty darn bad herself, but this guy’s such an asshole that even his name means “scum”. Producer Kuzu is flippant with his underlings, rude to the cast, doesn’t care about the end product, and spends company dime on hostess clubs, but worst of all is how goddamned plausible his attitude is. Kuzu frequently isn’t even wrong; the industry really is that shitty, and on some level he’s justified in acting how he does because there aren’t really any consequences… for him, anyway. I don’t doubt that producers like this guy exist in real life, which would probably explain a lot of shit.
Coolest Mom of 2016
It was the Year of Moms Both Cool and Shitty, and ERASED hit both extremes of the scale. Satoru’s mom acts like a cool big sister, hitting just the right balance between tough and affectionate love, with a dash of those mama bear instincts. She practically figured out the murders by herself and extends her love to Satoru’s posse of friends, taking in Kayo with no complaints, and that’s not even getting into more spoiler-y stuff that happens in the alternate timeline. There were other cool moms this year, but none of them took direct action like Sachiko did. Thanks, mom.
Biggest Gut Punch
To be honest, ERASED had some bigger ones, but none of them prodded my inner child like Digimon. TK and Patamon have always been my favorites, and I share this sentiment with a pretty sizable portion of the fanbase; it was only natural for Toei to make the cutest partner Digimon the one who gets infected and turns feral. Confession was pretty damn heart-wrenching all around, but watching Patamon lose himself and attack TK, only to realize it later and tearfully ask to be put down like a rabid dog was… well, you know. Got somethin’ in my eye…
BBK/BRNK is a show about kids with giant weapons that combine into giant robots, made in all-CG animation, directed by a guy who worked on Dead Leaves and FLCL, and somehow it isn’t a complete disaster? Well, it kind of is, but in a good way. BBK has that same cartoonish, frenetic energy that 2000s Gainax and Trigger have, mixed with a surprising willingness to enter some brutal and macabre places. People die in this show, in such abrupt fashion that it’s almost unbelievable that you’re watching the same series that has a fat American make poses referencing Hulk and Fantastic Four comic covers. It’s a barely coherent pile of anime garbage, and I think we’ll be fondly looking back and saying “Man, remember that fucking show?” about BBK/BRNK for quite a while.
Hottest Mess (Video Games)
This was originally going to be Final Fantasy XV, since I finished that a scant few days ago, but upon further reflection ZTD was the correct choice. I hold 999‘s crazy plot twists dear to my heart, and Virtue’s Last Reward is amazing, insane anime bullshit of the highest degree, so it would naturally follow that Zero Time Dilemma has both of those things. I’m not sure the last time I straight up started crying at a video game, but this one hit me more than once, and has supplied the Glorio crew with stupid, memetic dialogue to reference in the months since. It’s a rushed, trashy, and ridiculous conclusion to the franchise, and I think in the end it was the only way things could have gone down.
Best Game None of Y’all Played
Despite it being steeped in weird anime 4channer culture and being littered with pop culture references, I still quite enjoyed VA-11 Hall-A. In fact, I wrote a proper review about it on this very blog, so just go read that. It’s on sale right now!
Best Show I’m Still Watching 100+ Episodes Later
I had to shoehorn JoJo on here somehow, right? I barely have the gumption to watch 12-episode shows these days, but sticking to JoJo every week has been a staple of my routine since the early days of this blog. Now, if only I could keep up with writing the posts for it…