Here we go then, last night we kicked off the top 20 list with entries #20 through #16.
Without further ado, let’s get right into the next five!
#15: Please Tell Me! Galko-chan
Orig. Title: おしえて! ギャル子ちゃん
Also known as: Galko-chan
I remember being very confused about what Galko-chan was going to be when I first started watching it. I had seen the promotional video released prior to airing, but it didn’t really tell me much at all. So what’s the series about? Girl troubles, mainly. Galko-chan takes various misconceptions and issues that cis-women, and various non-cis people, tend to encounter and creates brief episodes about these topics. Pretty much nothing is off the table, with the series tackling periods, sex-life and having the unfortunate fate of being labeled something you’re not.
All that might make it sound like a fairly dramatic and serious series, but that’s kind of where Galko-chan shines the most, because it’s a goofy half-length comedy show with delightful characters and humour. Every character represents some sort of stereotype by label, but not by definition. The titular Galko is by no means the stereotypical Gal (or Gyaru) that people mistake her for and the same goes for her friends, Otako and Ojou, as well. It becomes a very refreshing anti-stereotyping PSA while also being funny and informative.
I would love to see the series continue with a second season, though I doubt it will have that honor. Thankfully, the manga is being localized by Seven Seas Entertainment, meaning that there’ll be plenty more of Galko-chan for those who enjoyed the show as much as I did.
#14: My Hero Academia
Orig. Title: 僕のヒーローアカデミア
Also known as: HeroAca
I don’t think this one comes as a surprise. One of the most popular series of the year was no doubt My Hero Academia and it’s not hard to see why. The super hero themed anime centered around the young Midoriya “Deku” Izuku, a kid born without any super powers, was charming, original and had some really good action sequences to boot. The cast of characters were varied and interesting, sparing no expenses at making every single silly super power they could think of a part of the arsenal. A girl who’s from a family of human frogs? Go for it! The power to extend your body into audio cables? Why not! Anything goes in this show.
I was honestly worried that the series would lose its tempo and identity once Deku and the cast entered the academy to become heroes, thinking that it might devolve into any other dime-a-dozen magic academy anime. Thankfully I was wrong and the series only got even better for it. When introducing Deku’s classmates you really start to appreciate the unlimited potential for what the series can do in team-up action set pieces, making it the most exciting shounen action anime I’ve seen since Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic.
The second season is starting in April and I have a very good feeling about it. Until then, let me quote the most amazing super hero of them all, All Might. Plus Ultra! …I’m still not sure what that is supposed to mean to be honest.
#13: Brave Witches
Orig. Title: ブレイブウィッチーズ
Also known as: World Witches Series: Brave Witches
Studio: Silver Link.
I never actually watched the Strike Witches anime, not a second of any season or the movie. I did read the manga however and I really enjoyed it alongside the expanded series, now called the World Witches Series as a whole. With Brave Witches I decided to join the anime wing of the franchise and I was not disappointed with the results. Adapted from characters in the expanded series dating back to 2010, Brave Witches tells the tale of the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing and their new inexperienced recruit, Hikari.
While the series suffers from overuse of bad 3DCG during the action scenes, it makes up for it with great characters and tempo. The witches of the 502nd are all lovable and with enough personality to keep you smiling throughout every interaction within the cast. It borrows heavily from other military themed anime and most certainly succumbs to various clichés throughout the story, but it never becomes a hindrance to the overall enjoyment. On the contrary, the way they utilize these clichés are almost impressive at times, coming up with some rather clever workarounds to just playing everything straight.
Honestly, I wanted to place the series higher on the list initially. But not only was the year full of great anime but Brave Witches did unfortunately drop somewhat in quality towards the end. Not enough to make it any less than great, but it’s not the superb little action series it could have been. If you don’t mind pantless girls becoming living fighter jets, I suggest checking out Brave Witches, even if you’ve not interacted with the franchise before. Now, can we get an adaptation of the Red Witches manga next, please?
#12: Pandora of the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn
Orig. Title: 紅殻のパンドラ
Studio: Studio Gokumi, AXsiZ
From the author of Ghost in the Shell comes another cyberpunk adventure about cyborgs, but with a very different tone and narrative. Pandora of the Crimson Shell is the story of Nene, a full body cyborg who is on her way to live with her aunt on a remote island. On her way she meets the mysterious professor Uzal and her cat girl maid, Clarion. Taking a liking to Clarion, Nene finds herself getting involved with Uzal and becoming the center-target of a terrorist plot. This is where I mention that the series is a raunchy comedy and that Nene and Clarion end up far more than friends quite fast.
It’s a very strange series, that’s for sure. While I’m not one to complain about lesbian cat girl cyborg action, in fact that sounds perfect to me, it does initially come off as rather jarring due to the hyperactive tempo and characters within the series. There’s rarely a second where Pandora lets itself calm down and have a serious moment, instead moving on to wacky ideas or intense action scenes to keep everything going at breakneck speed. But is that bad? In the case of this series, most certainly not. Pandora is a blast that keeps a constant grin on your face as the narrative unfolds and an amazing contrast to Shirow Masamune‘s other work.
Of course, like any show it has its flaws. The animation is a large weak point, with the loose art style and low details working well during comedy bits but less so during action scenes. There’s also one specific character, B.U.E.R., who I really hated and wish wasn’t part of the series. Still, despite those negatives it was fantastic enough to make it all the way up to number twelve on my list, and that’s quite a feat if you ask me. If interested, the manga has been releasing in English for quite some time now and has gone far past the anime.
#11: Love Live! Sunshine!!
Orig. Title: ラブライブ！サンシャイン!!
When a series reaches a legendary status among fans it’s always a tough thing to attempt to change details of that series. When Love Live! Sunshine!! was announced as the new project following the original Love Live! School Idol Project I was terrified that this would end up a massive mistake that wouldn’t live up to the ridiculous high standards we had come to expect at this point. Still, I remained hopeful and as more and more content started coming out from the girls of Aqours, my worries started going down bit by bit. When the 2016 TV anime began, there was nothing left to fear.
Not only is Sunshine!! a great sequel to the original anime series, set five years later in a different part of Japan, but it outshines the seasons before it by having a much stronger cohesive presentation. You can tell that the staff who’ve followed along since the start have only gotten better and better at their duties and the result is glorious. While my heart will always beat for the girls in µ’s and I prefer their music overall, Aqours have picked up the anime torch and made it burn brighter than ever before. Every single character is wonderful and charming and the different setting is fresh.
There’s the criticism that Sunshine!! retreads too many of the original series plotline, and originally I agreed with that sentiment as well. But as the narrative continues and we see how they play with the ideas in new and fun ways it stopped being an example of a lack of ideas and instead showing that they knew exactly what they were doing. It’s the best-selling anime of 2016 and one of the best-selling anime over the last decade as a result, so we’ll no doubt see more of Sunshine!! going forward. Whether we get a second season or they jump straight into a movie only time will tell, but I’ll gladly watch whatever they decide upon.
And so we close on the second part of my top 20 anime of 2016. The final two parts should be going up soon enough and as always, thank you for reading and please share your own thoughts with me in a comment or on Twitter.