And you guys thought you could procrastinate...
2016: a year so awful, its caused this goddamn article to be in draft since August. I originally wanted this to be a make up article for what were my picks for the Best Anime of 2016, but this dammed thing never materialized into something I could be proud of. Maybe it was the year long depression of this somehow even worse year, but regardless I want to put this thing not just to bed, but six full feet under, so that I can get to work on my other Top 5 Best lists (and since there was a lot of good stuff this year, it shouldn’t be anywhere near as torturous to work on. Expect them to drop in the first couple of weeks in January).
For now though, let’s try something else: what I caught up on in 2017. That’s right, a redux of an article I did last year too. The best show, music, anime, video game, and movie that I somehow missed out on in 2016, but managed to catch up on in this year. Along the way, we’ll catch a glimpse of how late to the game I am on various things, and also my actual Best Anime of 2016 list (albeit in abridged form). With that out of the way:
Best Missed Music: Your Name Original Picture Soundtrack, by RADWIMPS
This was kind of a hard one to pin down, because during 2016 I actually somehow stayed relatively on top of the kind of music I’m into. Aside from a few entries from Todd in the Shadow’s Top 10 Pop Songs of 2016 video, there wasn’t much music that I regretted not getting into earlier. But like the movie it accompanies, RADWIMPS’s soundtrack for Your Name took way too long for it to gain the
American mainstream recognition it deserved. I’ve heard from a few people that it isn’t their cup of tea, but for me personally it really does sound like it was custom made just for this movie (which it was, in a surprisingly involved manner). And it somehow still manages to sound just as great when the songs are rewritten and performed in English. This soundtrack finds a near perfect balance between quieter, orchestral pieces, and the energetic, fittingly poppy... well, pop songs that RADWIMPS do best. If you’ve ever wanted an good way into J-pop, this is the best path you may ever find.
Best Missed Show: The Good Place
How in god’s name did I not hear about this when it first started? For years I’ve wanted, nay, prayed for a show that captured the spirit of Better Off Ted, and somehow The Good Place is the closest I’ve found to something that captures that sort of... off, but somehow on, humor. A great cast of characters all played to near perfection, amazingly good world building, a storyline that’s well paced and lead into one of the best twists of the year (although, to be honest, I always suspected it... not to say that I didn’t enjoy seeing it when it happened); The Good Place is not only my pick for only the best show I somehow missed last year, but also the best comedy currently on right now. Well, when it comes of hiatus, at least (please don’t take too long NBC, I beg of you).
Best Missed Video Game: The Last Guardian
This was a surprisingly crowded field, partly due to how 2016 was and remains a packed year for great games. No Man’s Sky (a good version, mind you), Shadow Warrior 2 (which holy crap you guys, you need to try this out, seriously, it’s on sale on Xbox, BUY THIS), Hitman; there’s still a ton of cool stuff to try out. But for the one I actually regret not getting sooner? Oddly enough, I’d say The Last Guardian, mostly due to how fascinating this game is. Not necessarily from a story perspective or thematic sense, but more because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game that looks and feels like it was stretched across three whole console generations. It has several design choices reminiscent of the PS2 (a camera that has a mind of its own a third of the time), it looks and runs like a PS3 title (incredible visuals and an annoying framerate that reminds me of that console’s blasted architecture), and yet it was ultimately released on the PS4. This game is downright odd, and I’d kill for a detailed article, if not a fully researched book, on this thing’s development cycle. But even if we never get one, I’m glad this flawed game finally came out regardless. And hey, it and Uncharted 4 are what I see as the kickstarters to the string of good exclusives the PS4 got (finally, finally, finally...)
Best Missed Anime (series): The Great Passage
Alright, you want to know how my accursed list of Best Anime of 2016 broke down? Here you go:
Konosuba- great comedy, but takes a few episodes for it to really get going, and season 2 is a huge step up (expect said season to be on the 2017 list).
Mob Psycho 100- gorgeous to watch, pretty good themes and ideas, but if you’ve seen One Punch Man, this isn’t as hard hitting (no pun intended) as it should be.
Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan- best comedic and short form anime of the year, with humor that’s surprisingly progressive.
ReLIFE- great idea, can’t wait for the upcoming OVAs, but if you’re looking for a high school show that reinvents the wheel, this won’t be it (but hey, it’s my kind of thing).
A Silent Voice- looks great, a storyline that hits like no other, and two of the best leads from 2016. Kind of wish the ending was a bit better, and the first third is hard to watch, but regardless it’s a great anime film in a year that was packed full of great anime films.
TGRIP/Work(ing Title) In Progress’s Top 5 Anime of 2016:
5. Shelter- the AMV that broke the community. Regardless of whether or not you consider it to be a “real” anime, this is still an achievement, both for how it was produced, and how it manages to tell a short story that’s more emotional and touching than some entire seasons/series.
4. My Hero Academia- the savior of shounen. A wonderful (if imperfectly paced) take on superheros, in a way that’s reminiscent of its American and Japanese roots. And season 2, somehow, manages to be even better (expect to see that on the 2017 list too).
3. In This Corner of the World- a war film to surpass Grave of the Fireflies. Probably the most underrated anime film of 2016, which is a crime given how unflinching it is with its subject matter. Yet, a large part of it is rather endearing to watch, like if Ghibli made a war movie- oh, wait...
2. The Great Passage- looking back, this show may have actually been the start of the trend we now know all too well in Anime Strike: great series after great series, all locked behind an Attack on Titan-esque paywall. But before there were shows centering on teenage sexuality, dives into fantasy, and reverse-isekai, there was a quiet, charming, and unexpectedly moving series about a team of people making a dictionary. Time skip arc, warm romance, and a group of people all working together; The Great Passage was probably the most underrated anime of 2016. If you eventually caved into Strike after this came and went, trust me and give it a look it desperately deserves.
But, if you’re wondering what took my number 1 spot for best anime period of year, well... guess what the best movie I missed was.
Best Missed Movie (and Anime of 2016): Your Name
For the past two years, I really got into seeing as many movies in theaters as I could, partly due to becoming a full-on film major, and also as a form of escapism from what happened in said two years. The upside of this is that I don’t really miss seeing movies anymore; the only one from 2016 that I didn’t catch in time was The Lobster (which is simultaneously incredible and insane), and even that one I don’t really regret not seeing in the theater. This year though, the one movie I wished I had caught much, much earlier was the one that really was out of my own control. But maybe it will go down as the film that pushes distribution companies to start taking anime seriously, and not let Disney have all the fun when it comes to releasing things stateside. Shame it won’t even get an Oscar nomination, though...
Regardless, I... can’t think of anything to say that hasn’t already been said by so many others. The outstanding visuals, how Shinkai finally made the movie he was always meant to make, the, er, soundtrack, the characters, the story that is the great mix of comedy, touching, tear jerking, thematic in a way that’s close to home, and just all around incredible. The only thing I can’t decide is whether or not to include this as one of my favorite films of 2017, and that’s only due to technicalities concerning its release. Otherwise... yeah, predictable as it may be, Your Name is without a doubt my choice for Best Anime of 2016. And with all that out of the way, onwards to 2018.
Above all else, Resist, and Rise.
TGRIP is a film student studying in Portland, OR. TAY’s resident Xbox and racing game fan, he also (part time) reviews and does opinion pieces on games, movies, television, comics, and anime. He also runs his kinja sub blog Work(ing Title) In Progress. You can follow this third person narrating weirdo on Twitter @Dennis_wglasses, and his Gamertag on Xbox Live is “Aventador SV”.