As always, this article is provided in video format and transcribed directly below. I would like to note that my articles are written first and foremost to be experienced as videos (that is, read aloud), so no guarantees that jokes, grammar, or anything else will transition entirely smoothly to text.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are back again for another rousing rendition of the year’s most popular anime, compiled by yours truly. Like last time, this list contains only TV series, and series which completed a continuous run in the year of 2016, meaning that things like Osomatsu-san and the second season of Haikyuu! are fair game (thought neither made it in) while, say, March comes in like a lion is not. The only series I disqualified despite technically wrapping up this year was God Eater, because that had some extra special circumstances with its last 4 episodes being delayed from the Summer 2015 season due to production issues.

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Like last year, I am using MyAnimeList population numbers to approximate a show’s popularity, but this time, the values have been adjusted for inflation (which is to say I’m taking into account the fact that series which aired earlier in the year will naturally have higher figures, and curving the data to compensate). I think there’ll definitely be some surprises, but without further ado, here it is, the 16 most popular anime of 2016, starting with…

16. 91 Days

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Angelo Lagusa is just your average boy living in Prohibition-era America, complete with loving parents and an adorable little brother. Sadly, things immediately go south when Angelo’s entire family is killed in a mafia dispute, only nearly escaping himself. Years later, Angelo receives a mysterious letter identifying his family’s murderers, all prominent members of the mobster Vanetti family. With nothing else to live for, he sets out on a quest for revenge, determined to put the killers down and finally let his family rest. Things can hardly be expected to go smoothly when gangsters are involved, but Angelo isn’t one to let anything stand in his way.

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I briefly voiced my thoughts on 91 Days in my video on the summer season, but the simplest takeaway from that was if you like grounded mafia gangster fiction, you’ll very likely enjoy 91 Days. It has plenty of mob action or straight-up cold-blooded murder, a reasonably sized helping of politics and planning, some likable characters (and therefore moral dilemmas about massacring said characters), the whole shebang. Its producer, Shuka, is a relatively recent and small studio, so the animation certainly has its moments of QUALITY, but otherwise I have nothing overtly negative to say about the show… but it’s just not one that I myself am inclined to love. I don’t find these types of stories especially interesting; they’re usually a little slow and self-serious for my tastes. Nothing wrong with that, just telling it how it is. So this is not a series to change your mind about mafia stories, but if you know you’re already one to like them, then by all means.

15. Yuri!!! on Ice

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

I know, I know, this seems low, but the numbers don’t lie. I would perhaps attribute this low placement to the fact that Yuri!!! on Ice is still fresh in our minds, so it may seem more popular than series we’ve already half-forgotten. Additionally, sometimes a show’s apparent popularity is, to an extent, exaggerated by a vocal minority (as would also be proven by JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which didn’t even make the list).

Yuri!!! on Ice follows professional Japanese figure skater Katsuki Yuri. After a disastrous performance in his first Grand Prix Final, Yuri is dejected and defeated, slinking home with his motivation all but extinguished. However, when one of his practice videos hits the world wide web, it attracts the attention of one Victor Nikiforov, a five-time skating champion hailing from Russia, who also happens to be Yuri’s inspiration and idol. In a move that shocks both the skating world and Yuri himself, Victor decides to drop out of competitive skating entirely and become Yuri’s coach. With a massive new pillar of support in his life, Yuri rediscovers his passion and sets his sights on the next year’s Grand Prix Final.

When it comes to anime, there are shows that, y’know, they’re queer bait shows. They have a pair of main characters of the same gender, and there’s just enough teased romantic tension between the two to get the audience going, but it never reaches the point of being actually gay. Sound! Euphonium, for example, the two main characters are high school girls, and they share some relatively intimate moments, but they don’t ever actually get into a relationship. One of them explicitly has a male object of affection in her life, and to an extent, the homoerotic undertones are just there to titillate the audience. A lot of sports shows vaguely fall into this realm too, like Free!. You have a bunch of shirtless hot guys, which could get the fangirls’ blood pumping, but none of them are actually gay (to the best of my knowledge, I have not seen Free! myself).

Yuri!!! on Ice though, in my opinion, is not that type of show. It seemed, for several episodes, that perhaps it would be that type of show, but it is not. Yuri!!! on Ice, and specifically the relationship between Victor and Yuri, is gay. To be fair, there are some people that disagree and feel it doesn’t go far enough to elevate itself above mere pandering, but I would personally object, even if I can see where they’re coming from. Above all, it’s nice to have an anime that’s so progressive. Usually, anime’s treatment of gay individuals is either poor or nonexistent, often being the stereotypical flamboyant, perverted characters, rather than just people. But Yuri and Victor are very much people, which is one of the show’s greatest strengths. It doesn’t just rest on the laurels of “we have a gay pseudo-relationship” and neglect everything else. True, not every other character is nearly as developed and, yes, the quality of animation significantly frays over time, but it’s still a series with heart and passion, and for that reason alone, it’s very easy to like, if not love.

14. Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom) Season 2

Available on: Funimation, Hulu

The first of two sequels to entries from the 2015 list, in which the original Assassination Classroom placed at #11. To reiterate for those not in the know, Assassination Classroom, funny enough, tells the story of a classroom focused on training assassins. That in itself would perhaps be interesting enough, but the twist is that they are training to kill their teacher, who has promised to destroy the Earth if the students are unable to complete their mission by the end of the school year. The twist on the twist is that this teacher is not human, but a smiley-faced octopoid creature voiced by Jun Fukuyama, capable of reaching speeds of Mach 20 (as well as being just a damn fine teacher).

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It’s easy to say “if you like the first season, you’ll like this”, and while that certainly holds true, I would posit that even if you didn’t like the first season, you may still like this, because the second season of Assassination Classroom is honestly one of my favorite anime of the year. Aside from maintaining the already careful balance between humorous school life and serious assassination attempts, this season cranks the feels dial up as high as it will go, and deigns to actually give answers to the few important questions that the series has always teased, because believe it or not this anime is a full adaptation. It finishes the story of the manga, with absolutely no sequel tease or glaringly unresolved plot points, which is just fantastic.

13. Sakamoto desu ga? (Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto)

Available on: Crunchyroll, The Anime Network

The first pure comedy on the list. There’s this new kid at school, you’d probably know him if you see him. Glasses and a pretty face, with an unmistakable aura of sophistication. No matter where he goes, he’s always suave and stylish. All the girls swoon after him, and the local bullies just don’t stand a chance. He’s not cool, he’s not even cooler, he’s the coolest. Haven’t you heard? He’s Sakamoto.

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Sakamoto is a series I really enjoyed… for all of one episode. The core of every joke in the show is the same. Sakamoto, or someone he knows, is placed into a difficult situation, but Sakamoto effortlessly finagles his way out every time, looking perfect and cool all the while. I don’t inherently mind the same joke being basically repeated over and over. It’s a very common tactic (I can easily think of three other anime this year that generally followed that same style, at least two of which I enjoyed), but my problem here was Sakamoto himself. I didn’t find his antics entertaining, because I rarely found him himself interesting. His character is a blank slate. He has practically zero signs of outward expression or personality beyond stylishness.

You could argue, and some have, that that’s the whole point. We’re not supposed to empathize with Sakamoto, we’re supposed to be one of those in the crowd looking up at him in awe, but that brings me to my second point: if they’re going to go there, if he’s supposed to be fantastical and unattainable, a number of times the punchline didn’t strike me as stylish enough. One of the early jokes I really liked was when bullies threw a bucket of water into Sakamoto’s bathroom stall, and for no reason whatsoever, he has an umbrella ready and waiting. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the fun of it; he’s too good. So then, when later he does things like bunching up a pair of curtains to look like a pair of breasts or pretending to disappear into the TV, it doesn’t strike me as sleek or smart so much as just odd, and yet he’s fawned over anyway. This is nothing against anyone who enjoyed the show, and I certainly didn’t hate it, but I was, if anything, bored.

12. Orange

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

A high school girl named Takamiya Naho receives a letter from herself, ten years in the future. The letter correctly predicts the day’s events, as well as many days thereafter, and urges Naho to follows its instructions. Apparently, the future version of herself has been left with many regrets, but none moreso than her interactions with fellow classmate Naruse Kakeru, with whom there had at some point been a falling out, shortly before his untimely demise. Although initially dismissive of the letter, Naho quickly realizes its truth and decides to listen to its instructions, hopefully avoiding her yet-to-be-made mistakes and maybe, just maybe, keeping Kakeru alive.

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Orange is interesting. For every bit that I like or is well-written, there’s another that feels sloppy or ill-conceived. Naho’s extreme shyness and lack of confidence is simultaneously sympathetic and frustrating, while her friend group is fairly likable despite a relative lack of development. Like 91 Days, its largest fault would have to be the animation, which collapses rather dramatically in the middle chunk of the series, robbing the emotional material of some weight it desperately could have used. While I cannot say Orange is something you should avoid, neither can I say it is particularly worth seeking out, unless it seems exactly like your type of thing.

11. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash)

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu

Yet another rendition of the “trapped in a video game” sub-genre. Ironically, while it is a sub-genre that gets a lot of flak, I have personally found each series to tackle it distinct and notable in some way (with the exception of last year’s DanMachi). Grimgar goes for a fairly grim and unidealized approach. The Japanese youths summoned into this world have no knowledge or memory of their prior lives, and must scrape out a living by fighting monsters and selling their parts to earn gold. But unlike a Sword Art Online or Log Horizon, where the monsters are just high-fidelity digital creations, all the monsters here are much more flesh and blood. A goblin won’t take an attack lying down just because it’s a goblin. It wants to live as much as anyone else. Likewise, the heroes are naturally completely unexperienced in the ways of combat, initially struggling to take down even a single opponent despite overwhelming numerical advantage.

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And that’s all well and good, I always enjoy grounded takes on genres, but if anything that’s more window-dressing to the real story of Grimgar. At its core, this is a show about death: learning to cope with, confront it, or even simply accept it. Death is the constant topic of Grimgar’s conversation, and while it may not always be told with the utmost grace, things are invariably helped along by the water-color aesthetic and mellow but strangely appropriate soundtrack. Some may call it slow or flat, and there are certainly a few too many anime-isms sprinkled here and there, but on the whole Grimgar really surprised me with how much I found to like.

10. Bungo Stray Dogs

Available on: Crunchyroll, Hulu

The 18-year-old Nakajima Atsushi (so named after the famous Japanese author) is hungry and homeless, after being kicked out of his abusive orphanage. Although hardly in a position to help even himself, Atsushi sights and does not hesitate to rescue a man in need, an eccentric drowning fellow named Dazai Osamu (also so named after the famous Japanese author), and “eccentric” because he had in fact not been drowning but trying to commit suicide, an attempt which Atsushi had unintentionally foiled. Coincidentally, Dazai is an executive of the Armed Detective Agency, a local extralegal police force that deals with supernatural phenomena. As these stories go, Atsushi winds up a member of the Agency, just in time for them to come in conflict with other organizations in the city, chiefly the Port Mafia and the Guild.

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This is a bit of a strange one, because it’s split into two seasons of, in my opinion, wildly different quality. The first is fairly mundane, mostly introducing the characters but doing little with them, setting the stage for perhaps a larger tale, but in its own right more or less forgettable. Thus you can understand my surprise when the second season actually followed through on this setup, delivering a much more fun and engaging experience packed with drama and action, including an especially excellent flashback arc involving Dazai. It’s not a particularly “deep” or “meaningful” show, but it’s very easily entertaining, if you are one to enjoy myriad superpowers and action for action’s sake.

9. Kiznaiver

Available on: Crunchyroll

In Kiznaiver, the latest production from Studio Trigger, a government agency has a great idea on how to bring about world peace: if everyone could truly understand everyone else, then there would be no need for conflict. That’s a bit of a tall order, so they sprung for the next best thing: kidnapping a group of teenagers and, in the hope that a bond of some sort will form between them, linking their senses of pain. If one of them gets hurt, they all feel it. Kiznaiver is somewhat of a departure from the standard Trigger output (even Trigger’s other show this year), opting to be a relatively reserved (comparatively) character drama instead of the studio’s renowned hyperactivity, a la Kill la Kill.

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Written by Mari Okada, of Anohana, the story is somewhat uneven, with a slanted distribution of depth throughout the archetypal cast and a plot that can get much too absorbed into itself for its own good, but this is contrasted with a handful of genuinely effective or even touching scenes, plus stylish visuals that evoke the usual sense of Trigger-ness. In short, it’s a mixed bag. I can’t easily say that it’s immediately worth your while, but if you do some looking into it and it seems right up your alley, there’s nothing here that’s awful and broken, so I’d be surprised if you weren’t at least able to enjoy the experience.

8. Shokugeki no Soma: Ni no Sara (Food Wars! The Second Plate)

Available on: Crunchyroll, Hulu, The Anime Network

The second season of last year’s hit series Food Wars!. The actual narrative synopsis for Food Wars! is not extremely important, because it would be more efficient to just explain what this show is all about. The title is an apt one, as the story is dominated by cooking battles, indulgent and over-the-top displays of culinary prowess, with food so good that it is nearly orgasmic (or at least that’s what the imagery would lead you to believe).

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If you come in expecting a ludicrous, fun time, no more, no less, it’s hard not to like the show. It revels in its absurdity and extravagance, much much closer in tone to a fighting shounen series than, say, an episode of Iron Chef. Unfortunately, I’d have to say that this second season is just a little bit worst than the first, and that is mostly due to iffy pacing. While the first season, with its 24 episodes, is allowed some breathing room between cook-offs, in order to hit that right mix of tension, stakes and character, this second, with its 13 episodes, just feels too fast. When nearly every episode involves some kind of showdown, the successive impact of each is lesser and lesser. Familiarity, after all, breeds contempt. While that is far from a show-stopping misstep, especially since it finds new life near the end, I’d have to recommend measured expectations when watching The Second Plate.

7. Mob Psycho 100

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

The anime adaptation of the manga series from ONE, who would be better known as the creator of One Punch Man. Any series mentioned in even the same breath as One Punch Man will be set with certain expectations, namely in regards to animation, and Bones was completely up to the task. Not only is Mob Psycho 100 incredibly well-animated and visually creative, I would have little issue calling it the best-animated anime of 2016.

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But there are few people satisfied by something just looking good. If that weren’t the case, Sword Art Online wouldn’t have nearly as many detractors. So what’s Mob about? Mob is about… Mob, or Kageyama Shigeo. Despite his unimpressive appearance, the middle school boy is an all-powerful psychic, gifted with the ability to defeat and exorcise any supernatural entity without even breaking a sweat. However, where another man would use these powers to set himself up as a king and ruler, Mob prefers not to use his powers at all, wishing for nothing more than to live a normal life, and constantly being discouraged by the aspects in which he falls short, like his lack of social skills or unimposing physical stature.

I’ve seen it said fairly often that Mob Psycho is better, or even much better, than One Punch Man, and while I am myself undecided on that point, it’s not a hard argument to make. One Punch Man was a lot of flash and spectacle, but gave little in the ways of fleshed out ideas or characters. Mob Psycho, on the other hand, leans heavily into its characters, without sacrificing the action splendor. For that reason, Mob Psycho 100 is handily one of my favorite anime of the year, and I would highly recommend just about anyone check it out.

6. ReLIFE

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

This is the only series on the list that, considering its fairly high placement, really, truly surprised me. Perhaps due to its Netflix-style of release, with the entire series uploaded on a single day, the conversation around ReLIFE never seemed to hit any kind of fever pitch, unlike most everything else this high up in the rankings. It came, people generally liked it, and it went. And yet, apparently enough people watched it for it to become the most popular anime of the summer season, and the sixth most popular of the year.

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ReLIFE’s main character is 27-year-old former salaryman Kaizaki Arata, currently unemployed and generally down on his luck. However, one day Arata is approached by an only slightly creepy lab scientist, offering a pill that reverts one’s appearance to that of a high schooler. If Arata takes the pill, he will receive a monetary compensation equal to one year’s worth of living expenses, in exchange for actually going to high school, for a full academic year, while being observed from afar by the scientist.

It’s easy to scoff at ReLIFE’s premise out of hand, wondering if anime will truly come up with any excuse imaginable to keep things set in high school, and I could not in good conscience argue that ReLIFE is exceptional, but once you put aside any possible inherent (but unfounded) misgivings with the story’s setup, you’ll find it’s really much more than simply competent. Arata’s perspective as an adult in a kid’s world is simultaneously fascinating and relatable, while the pacing really complements the material: brisk enough to keep things moving without feeling overly rushed. Combine that with a reasonably solid cast, and you’ve got yourself one a-ok Japanese cartoon.

5. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!)

Available on: Crunchyroll

Satou Kazuma is on his way back from buying a video game, when he turns around and notices a cute girl on the brink of danger, about to be run over. Leaping into action, Kazuma pushes her out of the way and dies himself, reviving in a form of the afterlife, sat in front of a minor goddess named Aqua. While he is at first elated that the girl’s life was saved, Aqua, between laughs, informs Kazuma that the girl’s life was never actually in danger, as the apparent threat was in fact a slow-moving tractor, and Kazuma died a meaningless death out of simple shock. But lucky for him, there are plenty of openings in another world, so Aqua offers Kazuma a bargain: he can be reborn in that fantasy world, along with any one thing he desires. Irritated by her stuck-up attitude, Kazuma impulsively chooses Aqua herself. The contract now sealed, Aqua and Kazuma are both transported to the fantasy world, with a mission to defeat the Demon King terrorizing its citizenry. But before they can become heroes, they have to deal with some basic amenities, like food, comfortable lodging, and a stable source of income.

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It’s time for a major confession: I’m not a fan of KonoSuba. I often found its comedy too mean-spirited to appeal to my sense of humor. An easy example to make would be the first joke of the series: Kazuma dying of shock. The show makes a big point about how hilarious this is supposed to be. Aqua’s dying over it, and she claims that even the doctors and nurses operating on him couldn’t hold back their giggles, but I didn’t find that whole thing even remotely humorous. I can’t bring myself to laugh at something as somber as death, no matter how light-heartedly it’s spun. So all the show’s mean humor, and jokes of that nature, did very little for me. I found that stuff boring at best and outright unenjoyable at worst, which really dragged things down. When it would move a little away from meanness and focus on parodying RPG tropes or simple fun, a la Megumin, I had a much better time, but neither of these aspects of the show were frequent enough to overshadow my main sticking point. But, let it be known that in this case, I am an extreme outlier. Everyone else I’ve seen likes or loves KonoSuba, and I just don’t. Sorry.

4. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)

Available on: Amazon Video

Speaking of shows where my thoughts rail against public opinion, I enjoyed Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, even the second half. Kabaneri is a series with Attack on Titan fingerprints all over it: produced by Wit Studio, directed by Tetsuro Araki and with music composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, all of which is identical to Titan. Additionally, the setting is a post-apocalyptic world largely uninhabitable to mankind, overrun with man-eating monsters. In this case, rather than Titans, the monsters are zombies with glowing hearts, and the human sanctuaries, while also walled settlements, include a number of cities which are linked by railroad. The show’s sense of style is also somewhat noteworthy, heavily inspired by steampunk and an ‘80s anime aesthetic, with original character designs by Gunbuster’s Haruhiko Mikimoto.

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All people really wanted and expected out of Attack on Trains was simple, dumb fun, or at least, that’s all I ever expected. This isn’t trying to be the next Shakespeare; it simply wants to entertain, and by and large it does. But where it really lost people was in its second half, when the action heavily died down (presumably due to a lack of animation resources after the action-intensive first half) and a villain with vague motivations and a lame evil master plan was introduced. Laying it out like that I entirely understand what people found to dislike, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel the same. Even as the story collapsed in on itself, the visual and audio presentation never significantly faltered, remaining as a striking beacon of simple action artistry from the first episode to the last. Could I recommend this if you want anything more than cool fights? Probably not, but if all you want is cool fights, I see no reason not to at least give Kabaneri a try.

3. Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)

Available on: Funimation, Hulu

An anime adaption of a manga series from good ol’ Weekly Shounen Jump. That statement alone will imply certain plot standards, which My Hero Academia for better or worse generally follows through on. It tells the story of a world where superpowers (called “Quirks”) are commonplace, present in something like 90% of the population. Our hero though, Deku, is no hero at all. He idolizes the superpowered men and women that fearlessly protect the world, but is himself without a Quirk. He has no powers. Despite this, he is determined to attend U.A. High, a prestigious high school that is the best in the business for training up-and-coming superheroes. One thing leads to another as it so often does, and by giving it the classic shounen try, Deku is accepted to U.A. High, in the first step of what may be a long journey to come.

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My Hero Academia is a simple show, but it’s a damn effective one. The cast of characters are uncomplicated, made up of the rival, the role model, the straight-laced, the enigmatic and the girl, but ultimately it’s a series that knows how to just cut loose and have fun. It’s an optimistic, gleeful series in an industry landscape where cynicism and “subversion” has quickly become the norm. My Hero Academia does not “subvert” shounen tropes. It doesn’t want to, and it doesn’t need to. Rather, it embraces them, reminding us that perhaps these tropes exist for a reason, because fit together in just the right way, they can combine to create a marvelously entertaining package.

2. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu

When it first began very early this year, you couldn’t get away from ERASED. When it was hardly as much as halfway over, I saw several people proudly proclaiming it as one of their new all-time favorites, because it was just that good. Given a little more time for the series to wrap up, many of those voices quieted and fell silent. Because yeah, it didn’t really stick the landing.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. In the world of ERASED, failed manga artist Fujinuma Satoru is gifted with an ability, which he has dubbed “Revival”. Whenever something bad happens nearby, like a child being hit by a car, Satoru is snapped back in time several minutes, just enough time to identify and prevent the issue. However, one day on his way back from work, Satoru discovers the fresh corpse of his mother, having apparently been killed while investigating the disappearances and murders of children in the area many years prior. Just as the police arrest Satoru for the crime of matricide, his Revival ability activates, but this time sending him back, not just several minutes, but a whole 18 years. Dwelling in the body of his 10-year-old self, Satoru takes it upon himself to prevent the children his mom had investigated from being killed, reasoning that their deaths set off a long, dark chain of events which had culminated into the present day.

For approximately its first half, perhaps even its first two-thirds, ERASED is good. It’s really, really good, good enough that I can already tell you, no matter what faults it stumbles into later, it is worth watching just to experience its highest moments, all of which involve a girl named Hinazuki Kayo, the first would-be murder victim. She is anti-social and very withdrawn for her age, seeming to have already gone through enough that she feels no choice but to retreat from that which surrounds her. The first chunk of the series largely deals with Satoru breaking down Hinazuki’s shell, getting to know her and help her, and hoping that through that, she can be saved. The problems come in later, when Satoru has to confront the mastermind behind it all, because the story had not up to that point been built to function as a mystery, so many later turns of the plot feel either predictable or cheesy. Nonetheless, the finale does muster up some heartwarming moments, so while it stumbles more than enough for me to call it a great show, I still regard ERASED as a very good one.

1. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)

Available on: Crunchyroll

What else could be #1? This anime positively gripped the fandom, partially due to its amazing ability to incite controversy. For every person who says it’s great or amazing, there’s likely another that says it’s boring and lame. And honestly, that’s because it’s kind of both. There are times when it is amazing. Sometimes the show gets its characters so well that it hits all the perfect beats. But then, other times it will shamble through tedious plot points, doing barely enough to convince the audience that anything that’s happening is worth giving a damn about. Ironically, which parts are which seem to vary with every person you ask. (For me, an example of Re:Zero at its best would be Episode 18, while Re:Zero at its worst would be the majority of the second arc, much of the whole plot that takes place at the mansion.)

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I’ve already started going into my thoughts on the show, but I guess need to back up and explain what the whole thing’s about, for those not up to date on the latest and greatest anime. In the third such situation on this list, Natsuki Subaru (your average Japanese teenager) is teleported to an alternate fantasy world. However, he is left with no special abilities, no particular belongings, and indeed not even an apparent goal to reach. Mindlessly working his way through town, Subaru is mugged by some two-bit thugs, but before they pummel him to the point of possible death, he is rescued by a beautiful elvish girl with flowing white hair, and her cute little cat familiar. Falling in love at first sight, and to repay his debt, Subaru decides to help the girl recover a precious item she has lost. As night falls, after following a number of leads they reach their destination, but an unknown assailant easily attacks and kills the two of them.

The pain of death still fresh in his mind, Subaru reopens his eyes, finding himself where he had started as the day began, with the sun still high in the sky. After some confusion and experimentation, Subaru realizes he in fact does have one special ability: the automatic power to reset time whenever he dies.

Frankly I’d already said a lot of my piece on this show before the synopsis, and said still more in my Summer Roundup video, but if there’s one thing left to talk about, it’s Subaru himself, because Subaru (like the show as a whole) draws just as much scorn as praise. While some see him as just an obnoxious twat making groan-inducing meta comments, others think his character represents a subversion of the otaku ideal, and by extension the usual light novel protagonist. Up until the halfway point, I would have leaned toward the former, but now that the whole series has wrapped up, I must, to an extent, support the latter. He’s not exactly a likable character, and he has his many moments of sheer idiocy, but there’s a definite purposeful design here, a method to the madness if you will. Some of Subaru’s trials and character revelations are just too on-the-nose not to have been intentionally ironic.

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So at the end of the day, do I like Re:Zero? Yes, absolutely. Do I love it? Eh, no. I think when it works, it really works, but when it’s not working, it usually settles for mediocrity.


Ooof, and that’s the last of it. The 16 Most Popular Anime of 2016. As you are by now aware, I’m not a fan of everything on this list, and I certainly think there were some unpopular hidden gems this year (a subtle plug for my next article), but either way, hopefully this gave you a taste of the state of anime in 2016. My prediction for next year’s list? Well, Attack on Titan seems like a pretty safe bet. A-again.


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