As much as I wanted to say this year was my first full year watching anime, I would be lying as there are half a dozen series I dabbled into leading into my trip down the rabbit hole. I began getting serious about what I was watching right about the time my transfer to work overseas came through in July 2015 with my first two anime-a-month outing with The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan and finding the first season of Kuroko’s Basketball. Obviously, moving continents away from everything you know is a little stressful, so I didn’t get to watch as much as I wanted to, but the interest was definitely there. The classics (Cowboy Bebop, Clannad, FLCL, Evangelion) were about all the more I got to get around to, but it was enough to make me fall in love with this wild world. Right before I left for South Korea in November 2015, I left with the bittersweet experience of Charlotte fresh on my mind. In the mood after seeing so many great “year in review” articles and an obvious fondness for what anime brought me this year, I want to give a brief look at each of the shows I watched this year!
My first anime of the year was left with an opinion that took a pretty intense swing. A common thread for people who either loved/felt indifferent with this one was that the show only worked for people of a high school age/recent enough to remember what things were like in that age group. A textbook example of what Cris Carter was talking about having a fall guy, the main character Hachiman often takes it upon himself to take the hit for helping others. That had shades of a younger me admittedly, almost to the point that I was fed up with enduring the show! I needed a good rebound- a sure fire something that would make me fall in love with anime agai-
Whoa. Everything about this show came off as a juggernaut. The closest to being floored by a work could be traced back to my first time watching Gladiator. I ended up watching it much later in the year for my first ever Dubs w/ Dil, but rewatches of any kind won’t double down on here. Probably my safest bet in breaking someone into the world of anime, I have been three for three with this one. Depending on how feelsy I am a certain day, this one goes down as a top three show for me.
I had a lot of fun with this show, even if it was a lot weaker in comparison to those first couple I watched. Kyoto Animation dabbles into their newer art style that Nagato Yuki-chan got a lot of praise for in the year following. Visually pleasing and most known for an over-the-top filler episode, this show will go down as a candidate for my Worst Dub I Saw This Year (nowhere near the winner though) with absolutely atrocious main duo performances and blinding lack of chemistry.
Biting the rag to muffle yelling and wrapping my hands in bubble wrap to prevent breaking them against the wall, I returned to SNAFU. What I found was an outstanding time. The whole “something genuine” scene captures everything the series is about (for better or for worse). Really like the direction things went with exception to the cliffhanger, and it was far less frustrating to watch since it was just good drama and awesome characters.
The first show I watched as the episodes were coming out in a long time, the OP/ED of this show alone kept me interested. It might sound a little rude, but I spent a lot of time watching this one with my friends from work and just making silly commentary. Things got a lot more lively for us towards the end (obviously) but I liked this entire series. Might even give the Ruff starred dub a spin in 2017.
This was a weird one to wrap up things in January. I ended up watching it after going bowling with a self-proclaimed EVA fanatic I met that week, but things got weird when he fell asleep not even twenty minutes into it. Rather than turn off the film, I was hooked by the animation and overall polish in the first part of the
remake controversial film series introduction.
One of those “let’s throw something on for the night” kind of show decisions, I actually ended up dropping this after only a few episodes. I would end up finishing it later in the month (thanks to a little lesson in the source material I have written about before) with much more appreciation than I thought I would have for what it was trying to do in a small vacuum. If nothing else, it gave my running playlist some awesome songs.
My decision to watch this series in dub format always set me a step behind the game, as I really had to wait for things to finish dubbing before I checked it out. A series so well known for being an interpersonal journey through a busy city, this thing was stacked with vocal talent. This might have been one of the weaker parts of the series, but I still enjoyed what was here. I’ve heard the analogy this was like a soap opera, and I can definitely see the guilty pleasure found in it as such.
This series really had the hot hand, didn’t it? One of the first shows I watched at an anime party in Korea, it was impossible to resist the good times of OPM. For the same reason that I don’t like Superman, I found it hard to get on board with Saitama for the lack of suspense in a grossly OP protagonist. When looked at for animation and strength in comedy though, this show is golden. While it would take a lot to persuade me of a second watch (outside of covering the dub maybe), I liked what this brought to table even if I didn’t buy the hype.
The very beginning of my real awakening to anime, Bakemonogatari helped me build a tolerance for a comedy style that often prevented me from watching series. I could write about each entry in this series for hours, but to keep it brief: watching Bakemonogatari rekindled my love for writing and made me look at story structure and aesthetics in much deeper way.
For everything I just said about style being a preventing force for me, Nisemonogatari challenged my comfort zone in its notorious ways that don’t need to be expanded on. Those few awkward moments aside, this part introduced an outstanding “antagonist” who embodied the ambivalence of the series. The last couple episodes (after that certain one that was hard to brush off) were stunning even for what I have seen to date of the franchise.
While it didn’t wow me as I had hoped it would, I found the darker color choices and story engaging enough to binge the entirety of this in a weekend (very rare for me). There wasn’t a character I particularly liked enough to write home about, but the way the story was maintained between the two sides (ghouls and police) kept things moving better than anticipated.
But in all honesty, a friend of mine was really passionate about this particular series, so I was interested enough to give it a whirl. It had a few good points, but the last act was an absolute slog to complete. A lot of the more bold artistic options were head scratchers, and the direction really made me question what the plan was. All in all, there are far worse anime out there...
I was so young and naïve. Such an innocent soul.
Running out of immediate ideas for something to watch (I was trying to save the Monogatari stuff for later in the year due to work) I went to another one of the “anime parties” I mentioned before. Had I been able to, I would have gone home as soon as I sensed what a massive blemish in the good name of anime this junk was. Offensive and deplorable, I would never wish this series on my worst of enemies. As much as I joke about a series we’ll get to later, this still takes the crown for my least favorite series ever.
Strictly going off of my gut with this, I absolutely loved Seraph of the End’s first season. It really worked well and had a lot of switches in style that all worked in their own unique ways. The characters were a little dense (as the second season would show) but I was far more enthralled by the plot than I thought I would be when it was pitched my way.
The third installment in the Persona 3 adaptation was by far the slowest quarter of the films, but I loved the polish nonetheless. The bad rep this one gets is a little unwarranted since it comes from a really slow part in the game’s narrative. If nothing else came from it, my favorite cinematic from the game was rebuilt in a high budget fashion (and is the source for both my AniTAY and Twitter icons).
A wild ride full of some questionable decisions by characters, the second season of Seraph was fun to watch. My first instinct without even looking into it was that the pace of the series was far too fast. I swore there had to be a third season, but my fear was shown to be true when I discovered it caught up to the end of the source material. Such a shame, too! I was really getting into this series. Glad I got to dust it off the shelf and recommend it to a couple who read AniTAY articles from work and were looking for a “good action vampire series”.
One of the many dubs that has been sitting on my “to do” list for coverage, the Morris headlined Toradora! was outstanding. The OST is so moving, and the characters feel authentic despite the silly nature of the series. The ending felt rushed, but the journey there is such a great time.
Wasn’t sure where to put this one since I started it at the end of a month and finished it at the beginning of another, but I like to call this one “the heavier hitting SNAFU experience”. Watching it with some individuals who were pretty invested into the show might have been a mistake, as I found the absurdity of the last act hysterical. Lots of dirty looks were thrown my way as the cast’s relationships went up in flames, but I was only laughing in the way one might laugh in pain. If they were both hanging off a cliff, I really would have a hard time deciding which one of SNAFU and this I would save. It would be like picking a favorite child.
A short arc technically in the second season of Monogatari, I really loved the way that a backstory was expanded on while shining a few new toys in shed SHAFT had. Not to hard to realize this was where the legendary apparition slayer, Kokorowatari, planted the seed for the name DilKokoro later in the year.
So I never realized there was a third part to this series (crazy, I know). It was a spur of the moment, Wednesday evening kind of watch for me. Overall, I liked the way this wrapped up things far more than the original series similarly to how a new Metal Gear Solid builds upon the complete package of the story’s narrative. I’ve never really been one to praise Madoka, but this was a really well executed finale.
A very different show, I was pretty indifferent about this one. Had things that might have made me like it, but there were bits that were roadblocks. Finished it, moved on. We’re on to Monogatari. We’re getting ready for Monogatari. It’s what we’re doing.
Everyone who creates creative content has somewhere in their journey that they pulled the most inspiration from. For me, it was found in the masterful arcs of Monogatari Series: Second Season. I wish that more series took after this one in the sense that you can tell several masterful stories without overblowing the story in a particular moment. Each bit hits as hard as the last, but the arcs can exist independently from one another. I want to write a super in-depth opinion series of articles on Monogatari arcs one day, but for now I’ll filter myself.
The strongest the show had been since it broke off into multiple cours, I binged the dub for the conclusion to my favorite anime soap in the midst of a huge revelation that I would be traveling back home in the summer. I will always remember looking up from my iPhone in a dark room and having someone tell me that news mid-episode.
This is my absolute favorite arc in the series for all of the bias I have towards the protagonist, Kanbaru. Good stories have characters that people relate to or find characteristics of themselves in, but I was really drawn to the plot of this one and how spot on Araragi’s underclassman was depicting characteristics I find all too alike. In the normal Monogatari fashion, the adversity Kanbaru goes through addressing the biggest issue she faces with her quirks really personified the process I took with a near identical issue. It is a subject that grows old to hear I’m sure, but I can’t ignore how I came to have the fire I do.
I loved this Key series even though it was far more fantasy convenient than the others by the visual novel geniuses. I would later distance myself from this series when I discovered the nature of the visual novel, but for what the anime did, I was really impressed.
Is this an anime? I always get it confused with RWBY’s thin ice battle people have with what it is (RWBY is not anime, by the way). This show kind of sucked. I usually have more constructive things to say, but if the dub wasn’t decent like it was, I probably would have dropped it after seeing the horrible frame rate.
During my last week of work before flying back to the States, I was pulling 14 hour shifts to wrap up a project and ensure nothing would get in my way of going home. This didn’t mean I was neglecting my anime intake, however, as I would turn this series on after everyone went home at the 11-12 hour mark. Visually stunning, the first season made up for lack of spark in the developing plot with outstanding characters.
I binged this series on my flight home, almost forgetting to get in line for boarding at one of my layover locations. I was hooked with where the plot had gone (keep in mind I have no prior knowledge to the franchise at this point) and was in love with the characters. A slam dunk for action and aesthetics, this season made UBW a must watch.
What a fun little show. Watched this one the first couple days I was catching up on rest back home before I went on some trips. There were imperfections, sure, but the style and magnitude of characters made this worthwhile.
A series that I was looking forward to for a while, I was really let down by the first season of this one. When it was moving, it really shined in the way I knew it would. However, I believe that things got ironed out in the second season from the rumblings my friends have shared (I haven’t gotten around to watching it just yet).
The show that sparked my blogging on here! I honestly can’t remember if I watched this one before the summer trip or after. My banner on my various platforms comes from the Shinobu Mail bit where Kanbaru’s eyes say “I won’t run away”. Ougi Formula remains my favorite arc to dissect and use for examples when asked about what Monogatari does right.
My first big stand-alone anime movie in quite some time, I was moved to tears by the terrific film. Although I don’t have a whole lot to compare it to, I loved how unique the story was. “Time waits for no one” is a quote to write on shoes and live by, for sure.
To call this a “series” seems a little odd, but the four episode marathon upped the ante for the remainder of the series and led me to look for translations of the remainder of the Monogatari series in anticipation.
I’m a sucker for shows that give the feels.
While the majority of this one had a pretty predictable path, I was moved to tears by the excellent ending!
My first AniTAY movie night, this revered piece of work has aged so well. For a first time watch all the way in 2016, I was floored by how advanced the techniques and bold moves the film took even with the limitations of the time. Also, it inspired one of my favorite music videos of all time in Stronger by Kanye West.
I didn’t get this one nearly as much as the last movie night film I joined in on, but this was still an interesting watch. Plenty have urged me to continue the series with the several sequels and reimaginings, but I think I have had my fill of it.
I really liked the gull the creators of this film had, choosing to rework what they perceived the last month of the game and finale in a much different way. Obviously source material purists hated such notion, but I think it works on its own in a way the game sure doesn’t (particularly the “moment of clarity” scene for the cast- beautiful).
As serious as drama can take a show, it is nice to see a change of pace with a heartwarming journey of maturation in a young heart.
If it tells you anything, I was getting scolded heavily by a heartless harpy acquaintance whilst watching this one with a gigantic smile on my face. I really hope that there are more gems like Luluco in the near future.
My first recommendation from my fellow writers here at AniTAY, I have fallen in love with this franchise like so many others. The fun in the journeys, the bold characters, and the genius writing make this not only highly rewatchable, but an easy sell for those looking to get into anime.
A fun little supplemental hold-over whilst the Kizumonogatari films wrap up, this ONA gave an actual canon one-two punch in the final two episodes that will no doubt confuse audiences come the next series seeing where Araragi ended up.
Wasn’t wowed by this film, but it was visually intriguing enough to complete at least once. Time will tell if it looks as good if I ever revisit it, but the experience of watching with the other folks on here was the best part.
WHAT A MASTERPIECE.
All I need to say can be described perfectly here.
I cannot wait for the dub of this.
I am a big fan of this short little tale. There is a boatload of symbolism and deep meaning in such a small sample that it is a shame that this ONA is overlooked like it is.
As the salt gets more potent in the air, a friend and I binged the trilogy in one weekend. Obviously I’m about as ignorant to the pulse of fandoms as an absolute normie, but I really enjoyed these films. Perhaps that is because I just looked at them for what they were independently and how well the were crafted. Sorry.
Such a sweet film, I loved how impactful of a message this had without shoving it in your face too much. Whenever I have kids, this one is going to be in the rotation for films they watch.
So I watched the first two episodes of this series back in 2014 in subs and wasn’t very interested. I understood the importance it had and heard the great sub cast, but didn’t feel like dedicating the time to it. Seeing it had a dub, I hit two birds with one stone and experienced the complete package for the first time and heard a great dub. I love this series, and it is worth experiencing no matter who you are.
Also it helps (or in this case emotionally destroys you) when one of the main characters looks and sounds like your mom.
On my short list for things to write about, this was my first Studio Ghibli film I have finished since Spirited Away (I was a kid then!). A little confusing at moments you try to apply logic, I took a lot of value out of the fact it is an adaptation of very well respected piece of children’s fiction.
Wasn’t impressed with this one, but mostly because it felt oddly rushed. I’ve had people try to pitch it to me in different light, but I just didn’t feel it. Ah well.
Saved for degree of difficulty in writing, this is my dream show to cover the dub on. Whatever I loved in UBW was ten times better here, with a lot of great storylines dancing around beautifully.
Odd, I know. It has been this long, but I never got around to Death Note. A great thriller, there was a lot of cleverly crafted tension throughout the “will he get away with it” theme of the legend. Looking forward to the Netflix live action adaptation next year!
Just as magnificent as the first season, things get real intense in the second season of Fate/Zero. Some of the extremes the show took things to was a little bit much for me though. True story: what happens to the protagonist (or namely what he does to complete his mission) in the last episode or two actually made me throw up.
As with most of the ones I’ll be putting here in the “December” slot, these shows are either still on-going, or ones I have spent some time with and intend on finishing in 2017. To start, the Zaregoto Series looks to be a gem come 2017. The little bit shown in 2016 was spectacular (I actually watched the first episode twice).
What a great sports adventure. The fires of competition and some of the best looking training montages I’ve ever seen period are on full display in YoI. I’d have the series finished by now if every episode didn’t exhilarate me to the point I have to go out running afterwards.
YA YA YA
This show was awful, but it was nowhere near as bad as School Days. Terrific fun to watch with friends if you’re looking to bash something!
There is a lot of flak that comes this show’s way. It will always be special to me because it marks the first show that I got to cover for the outstanding folks at Taykobon. Way too slow for most, but a lot of little things that keep me coming back interested weekly!
I was afraid to make the jump to part 3 of JoJo. Memes aside, I really did not know what to expect outside of the mixed bag of commentary from friends. I ended up loving it of course, and would beckon all to watch this as openly as the first two parts in the epic franchise.
Spectacular way to finish off my year, this show goes down in infamy for a comment I made about it when I was introduced this season in our roundtable. Voice acting is such a fascinating world, and this series was just as fun as I hoped it would be. I’m waiting with baited breath to see who ends up in the dub!
What did you see for the first time this year? Hope you all liked my recap of the year! I really have been fortunate to get to write for such a great community (as I alway say) and I look forward to covering more series and growing on here in 2017!