Hello everyone and welcome to the final edition of The Anime Pulse for 2016! If this is the last one of the year, then that means I’ll be taking a look back at some of the best anime I’ve watched this year and what I will be looking forward to in 2017!

Of course, with any “best” list, I need to throw out the disclaimer that this is solely based on shows that I have watched and nothing else. If there is another show that fans are just going ape over that I haven’t seen (like Yuri on Ice), then just know that I didn’t exclude your show because I hated it. It just means that I didn’t watch it (or maybe I did hate it, who knows?) That’s why we have a comment section and e-mail. If your best series is something that didn’t make the list, let me know about it and I’ll check it out. I also take requests for reviews as well so there’s a chance if it’s something I haven’t seen yet, I’ll watch and review it.

With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the column!

10. WWW.Working!!

Okay, so at the time of this writing, WWW.Working!! just wrapped up with its 13th episode and I have yet to watch it, but I have seen enough of the series to know that I enjoyed it… slightly. I think a lot of my issues with the show had to deal with accepting the fact that this is a spinoff from the original series. To say that is weird in and of itself because the cast in this show is the original Working!! cast and the one we knew from the first three seasons are the new characters, but despite that, we see Takanashi walking past Higashida as the opening to the first episode, sort of like a passing of the baton kind of moment. Which means that this takes place after the other series or in parallel to it. That one little scene throws everything off, but I guess we’re not supposed to think about it like that.

Despite the oddities, it’s still Working!! The kind of humor that is on display is what you would typically get from this series and once you get used to the new (old?) cast, things do start to smooth out, although, there were a few episodes that were a little on the dry side and the romantic relationship side of things wasn’t as interesting as it was with Takanashi x Inami. Still, it was more interesting then some of the other shows I’ve watched so as Chris Jericho would say….. YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!

09. She & Her Cat: Everything Flows

Yes, it is a Makoto Shinkai work and his second television anime series since doing the storyboards for ef – A Tale of Memories and ef – A Tale of Melodies. I know.. big surprise that I would include this, but I did so because it is a short, yet, heartwarming tale that proves you can do so much with so little. The relationship between Miyu and her cat is something special and how it helps her reunite with her mother was very well-done. It also brings out emotion and teaches us a very simple and humble lesson: that you should always love your family, no matter what.

The series is very short as there are only four episodes to it and each episode lasts around seven minutes. So doing a marathon of this show will equate to watching a single episode of anime. Since the time investment is really low, I would highly recommend that everyone go out and watch it as it is highly worth your time.

08. Shelter.

Speaking of doing so much with so little, Porter Robinson’s Shelter. does just that. This one might be controversial because it is an anime music video rather than a series, but A-1 Pictures teamed up with Porter Robinson to bring us on a six minute emotional roller coaster. It added a bit of a sci-fi twist to it, but the core message was there. The love between father and daughter and how it is the parent’s job to protect their children is the core message of this animated short. Again, just like with She and Her Cat: Everything Flows, it proves that you can accomplish a lot with very little.

07. Mob Psycho 100

Some people might chastise me for not putting this series higher up on the list, but the reason for that is the same reason why WWW.Working!! isn’t higher up as well. It’s the fact that this just felt like a rip off of One Punch Man. Yes, it is from the same creator so yeah… there will be a lot of similarities, but it still features an emotionless main character that, instead of one punching everything to death, builds up his emotion meter to 100 and then explodes all of his psychic energy over a poor and unsuspecting spirit. It really does feel like the Ghostbusters version of One Punch Man and it kind of cheapens it a bit because as such.

The art was very unique for the show as ONE isn’t really a great artist and I think it was kind of cool that Bones did their best to try and reflect that art style in the show. It did give the show a unique look to it, but despite my issues with it, Mob Psycho 100 is a pretty good show if you think of it as a show that stands on its own. I think people who haven’t seen One Punch Man would enjoy this show a lot more as it’s something that I know shouldn’t be compared, but after you’ve seen OPM, it’s kind of hard not to compare it.

06. Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu

Man, oh man would this have been my number one had it not been for the fact that the second season was only eight episodes long. I LOVED the original 25 episode run of this show so when I heard that there was going to be a sequel, I was all aboard the hype train. You can imagine my disappointment when I saw the episode count, though.

After watching the second season, I wanted more. I craved more and I desired more and it made me feel sad to know that I couldn’t have more because there just wasn’t anymore to give. I felt like these episodes should have been in the first season, but since seasons only last 12-25 episodes, they decided to do a short season and it made it just feel like we were picking through leftovers the day after Thanksgiving. Despite the shortness of the season, what we were given was truly great. It advanced the story and presented new challenges to Arslan. You also saw his growth as a character and the build up to what should be a grand finale, if they ever decide to give the show a third season.  Even though short, it’s still too good to ignore!

05. D.Gray-man Hallow

Before the existence of Steins;Gate, D.Gray-man was my all-time favorite anime. Imagine my elation when they were bringing it back for a second season. Like Arslan Senki, I was disappointed by the episode count. The first run of D.Gray-man spanned 103 episodes while the second only got 13. Not only was the second part rushed (one episode chewed through seven chapters of the manga), but the art style and voicing cast were completely different despite being developed by the same animation studio as the first run. I also understand why the second season was so short. The manga went on hiatus after hiatus to the point where after EIGHT YEARS, there was only ~50 or so new chapters to adapt from the end of the first run of the series.  That’s pretty mind-blowing when you think about it.

Despite this, it did tell the story rather well and it did follow the manga. It told a story during a time where Katsura Hoshino was battling a hand injury and her art severely suffered to the point where some chapters had to be read multiple times under a magnifying lens just to understand what was going on. This made a lot of sense of that odd time and because as such, I enjoyed it. If you can get past the art and the voice cast, it is still D.Gray-man at its core and the story was truly engaging! Long-time fans should find themselves enjoying this one.

04. RE-LIFE

This one took me by surprise as all 13 episodes were released at the same time. This was Crunchyroll’s experiment of going the Netflix route with anime and just giving us everything all at once. Because as such, I was able to marathon this show and it ended up being one of my favorites of 2016. The story is about a man who feels his life is worthless so he takes a pill which reverts his image to his more youthful days. This allows him to go back to high school as part of a rehabilitation program to find meaning in life.

So I’m currently reviewing a manga for Viz Media called Idol Dreams and this show is very similar to that manga, only better. This show does an AMAZING job with its character development and the hidden life lessons nestled into each one of the character’s stories are meaningful and impactful. Given the premise, I felt I would like the show due to my enjoyment of Idol Dreams, but I never really expected to come out of this show loving the absolute hell out of it. This is one people should definitely check out.

03. 91 Days

What happens when you take The Godfather and mesh it with anime? You get 91 Days. This was one of three series that made me beg for another episode each and every week. It made me curse at my monitor when an episode ended because everything flew by too quickly. It’s a story of revenge as Avilio’s family is murdered when he was a child. He escapes and lives with his best friend Corteo until the day where he receives a letter giving him the identities of the men who killed his family. Now he sets on a journey to infiltrate the mafia to exert his revenge.

I really loved how this show was presented. It took place in the 1920’s during prohibition and studio Shuka did a superb job bringing that atmosphere to life. Everything from the backgrounds to the character designs really shined and helped absorb you into the world. The ending also blew me away as I never expected the show to end the way it did. It gave a bittersweet moment, but at the same time, you understood why they went that direction with the ending. It was an all-around amazing mafia tale and I think people should really watch this one.

02. Re:Zero

Re:Zero is one of those shows that starts off in a mundane fashion and then hits you like a sack of bricks half way through. Subaru is transported to another world and given the power to go back to a “save point” whenever he dies. While the notion sounds rather uninteresting at first (and believe me, it is), they begin to use that ability to take you on a journey with the Subaru character. You watch him slip into madness as he experiences the mental torture of seeing everyone he knows and loves die over and over and over again, knowing that he’s the only one who can stop it from happening, but each time he fails, he begins to question whether or not he can save anyone at all.

Add in the fact that he still doesn’t even know why he was brought to that world or why he has that curse and you have a recipe for a mental meltdown, which actually happens. The show goes from a typical “trapped in a fantasy world” anime to something that is dark, deep and thought provoking. You get an intangible connection to Subaru as you experience his pain… and then you want him to die a horrible horrible death for one particular episode…

Still to this day, I have no idea how in the hell he chose one over the other. Biggest middle finger to the anime community since waiting 19 years for that second season of Berserk. Yeah, you know that’s not going to be number one…

01. ERASED

It’s the first anime I saw in 2016 and I’m still calling it the best anime I’ve seen this year. Yes, better than Re:Zero because unlike Re:Zero, it hooked you from episode one and kept you hooked until the very end. Sure, the mystery had a pretty obvious solution a few episodes in and that did hurt the show and yes, just like Re:Zero, it did have a big middle finger moment in the relationship department of the show, but despite this, the series was the first show in years to make me feel that “can’t wait” feeling when an episode ended. In fact, that feeling was so strong, it’s the first time I’ve felt that way about an anime since Steins;Gate.

I might be a bit biased because time travel is my favorite sci-fi genre, but this show did tell a compelling story. In fact, it’s the reason why I gave up writing my own light novel. The idea I had was eerily similar to ERASED (with some differences). When I saw the essence of my story being played out as an anime (and doing very well on the charts at that), I lost all motivation to continue writing my story. I just had that sense of “Well.. someone did my story and did it better than I could so I guess that’s that.” I know it’s a petty excuse to give up, but that’s the way I felt. So while I did hold a grudge against the show for getting me to quit, I still enjoyed this show more than any other I have watched throughout 2016. It’s very rare that the first show I watch in a year ends up as the best for me, but in 2016’s case… ERASED did.

Honorable mentions include Assassination Classroom Season 2, Durarara!!x2 Ketsu, Netoge, Ajin, and Orange.

So now that 2016 has come to an end, what am I looking forward to in 2017?

For the 2016/2017 Winter Anime season, I am looking forward to…

Nothing.

Nothing at all.

That’s right… for the first time in my anime viewing history, there is a season in which there are ZERO shows I am interested in watching. That’s not to say that the winter season is bad because it has some great sequels in it, including the much-anticipated second season of Ao no Exorcist. The problem is, I never saw any of the shows that are getting sequels because I didn’t really have any interest in them. The ONLY show that I may watch is the second season of Bungou Stray Dogs. The reason being is that I began reviewing the manga from Yen Press and I really enjoyed the first volume. This means I would have to go back and marathon the first season in order to watch the second, but then again, that would also spoil me whenever a new volume comes out for me to review. So it’s something I’m tossing around on whether or not I should do so we’ll see.

Spring 2017; however, has a few big shows that I can’t wait to watch. The first being the second season of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan! Also up is the second season of How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend and we get the third season (series) of Naruto which will focus on Boruto!

In addition to returning favorites, I’m going to be checking out Eromanga-sensei and Renai Boukun because both of them look so dumb that they could be good. The first is about an erotic manga artist and the second is about writing people’s names in a magical notebook and making them fall in love. Yes, it is the complete opposite of Death Note. They even refer to the book as the Kiss Note. I wish I were joking, but I’m not. 

In addition that, I also want to check out Clockwork Planet as the premise for this show looks pretty interesting. It’s about a black box that crashes into a house which causes an endless cycle of failure and success. It’s about a changing world vs an unchanging mankind. It sounds pretty good so I want to give that one a shot.

So with that being said, I’ll take this time to also announce that since there are no shows that interest me in the winter season, I am going to take it upon myself to watch another classic series that I should have watched by now. I will be watching (and doing a retro review of) the first two seasons of Code Geass. With the third season announced, it makes perfect sense for me to watch this series now and with the dry winter season, it’s affording me a perfect opportunity to do so. We are slated to get the third season some time in 2017 as well so that’s another show I’ll be looking forward to!

If you enjoyed this column, consider giving me a follow on Twitter @TheAnimePulse

If you have your own top 10 list for 2016 and wish to share that with me… feel free to send me a line at joshpiedra@theouterhaven.net.

Until next time,

Ja ne!

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years!