Banjo’s Top 10 Spring 2016 Anime

by BanjoTheBear

Flying Witch / Episode 12 / Makoto flying with Chito in the sky

And the winners of Spring 2016 are…

I should preface my list here by saying that it’s kind of weird.

For the first time since I started writing these Top 10 posts, I am including anime that I technically wouldn’t recommend to others based on how I score. In fact, the tenth-ranked show is the lesser of three evils.

These less-than-ideal anime are still included because the criteria for the list is simply being the best from the season. For me, though, such a development says a lot about how much I got out of this set of shows.

Positives still exist. Shows featuring the number one-hundred or massive metal trains have a lot of flaws attached to them, but that doesn’t mean they lack strength whatsoever. Maybe they have a particular scene that is super memorable. Maybe they try for something unique despite failing. Maybe they connect only with a niche group of people.

Regardless, it’s important (perhaps necessary) to not only have one’s own perspective on anime but also have an understanding of the other side (whatever that may be).

Yes, there will be those shows that we view as so deplorable that it’s basically impossible to do so. And, no, that doesn’t mean we must automatically concede and flip opinions. But so long as we do our best to think beyond our mindset, we will certainly find our anime-watching adventures a lot more worthwhile.

Keeping all this in mind, this season, eighteen different anime stepped up to the plate. Nothing managed to hit a home-run, but some hit a nice double and a couple even a noteworthy triple. Yet only one walked away with the title of Best Anime of Spring 2016.

Per usual, here are the rules.

First, I am an advocate of an anime counting in the season in which it completed. Meaning, whether it is fantastic or not, something like Kuromukuro has no place here despite starting in Spring 2016. On the opposite end, an anime like World Trigger does have a shot since it concluded in Spring 2016 despite starting many seasons prior.

Meaning, if you do not see World Trigger here on my list, that means I either did not see it or it was simply not good enough. (It’s the latter!)

Second, each anime has a personalized review that demonstrates why it deserves to be here in the first place. Simply click on an anime’s name to be linked to its review to read my complete thoughts on it. For every review that I wrote for this season, follow this link to my Spring 2016 Reviews page!

With all of the introductions, formalities, and rules out of the way, it is time to get to my Top 10 Spring 2016 Anime!

10. Joker Game

Joker Game / Episode 1 / The men playing a bit of poker

The handsome men of Joker Game would argue that the value of cards in poker are second only to what one does with them. This purely episodic anime features a new spy in a new situation as they go about their shady duties. However, these similar, no-name dudes whose separate pieces are not connected by an overarching plot cause the anime to suffer at the cruel hands of tedium. Thankfully, the art’s clean, sharp look makes it at least something nice to look at. The entire package is by no means a royal flush, but it misdirects itself forward as best as it can.

9. High School Fleet

High School Fleet/ Episode 1 / Misaki putting on her captain's hat for the first time

The ocean is a place where sea creatures live and how people travel. In High School Fleet, it’s also where women engage in naval battles. Taking both slice-of-life fun and darker plot in hand, the anime tries to steer itself to victory. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get that far execution-wise with its story and its characters. But it does have some nice art to carry it over these rougher waters. Altogether, it may not be the most sound of shows, but, if military ventures, cats, and cute-girls-doing-cute-things is on one’s radar, then anchors aweigh.

8. Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?

Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta? / Episode 12 / Rusian and Akko standing with each other

MMO (or massively multiplier online) games give people the chance to be somebody they are not. A cunning rogue. A strong knight. A smart wizard. They can also create some rather awkward situations — and allow one to grow on a personal level. Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta? centers on this sentiment with some nice comedy, a focus on realness, and a group dedicated to (and learning from) Akko. Besides the designs, the art and the animation are not that appealing. Plus, the show loses focus the further along it goes, and everyone but Akko isn’t exactly interesting. Still, it may just be worth confessing to.

7. Bungou Stray Dogs

Bungou Stray Dogs / Episode 8 / Atsushi meeting Kyouka (officially) for the first time

People like money. So much so that they will sometimes team up with a suicidal maniac or try to eliminate a were-tiger to get it. Thus describes the first season of Bungou Stray Dogs. Although, realistically, it’s not the best description, for the show tries way too hard to be everything at once. Ultimately, this overextension hurts the narrative’s structure. However, to make up for its scattered sense of self, its artistry and its action provide some strength. Metaphorically, it’s an animal misguided but not yet lost.

6. Sakamoto desu ga?

Sakamoto desu ga? / Episode 2 / Sakamoto striking a cool pose

Think of the coolest person in the world. Got it? All right, now multiply his or her coolness by a hundred. The result still wouldn’t come close to just how cool Sakamoto of Sakamoto desu ga? is, but it paints the picture well enough. The anime is almost purely a comedy, depicting this coolest of dudes in the most absurd ways possible — all while demonstrating what it means to be a good person. Anyone not Sakamoto (understandably) doesn’t compare, and some questionable story choices are made. Even so, it’s a crazy, humorous show that will have the audience walking away with a “yes” to its title’s question.

5. Flying Witch

Flying Witch / Episode 1 / Makoto offering a mandrake to Nao

A frantic lifestyle is not necessarily a must. For, in Flying Witch, Makoto and her family have fun with the mundane. The simplicity of everything, from the events to the characters themselves, can seem almost too reserved. But the way in which the magic leads to “magic,” the artful greenery, and the show’s emphasis on healing tie the anime together. It’s a happy little show that isn’t much and doesn’t have to be. (Moaning mandrakes notwithstanding.)

4. Kiznaiver

Kiznaiver / Episode 9 / A rainbow of light during Agata's out-of-body experience

As people go through life, they encounter those that they grow close with. A phenomenon called “friendship.” In Kiznaiver, seven unlikely high-school teenagers discover what that means. While too much heavy drama and some unexplored characters hamper the journey, its themes on physical and emotional connections, as well as understanding them, gives the narrative a lot of strength. Plus, the art is beautiful and the opening track is wonderful. Friends may come and go — but this one is here to stay.

3. Bakuon!!

Bakuon!! / Episode 3 / Hijiri, Hane, Rin, and Onsa taking a picture together

Motorcycles pollute the air with noise, require tons of maintenance, and force one to practice a new set of skills. But, as Bakuon!! demonstrates, there’s nothing more fun than enjoying something for what it is. The art and the animation are arguably subpar. But the quality music, the silly characters, and its theme on “foolishness” leading to more rewarding experiences turn it all into a two-wheeled, above-average outing.

2. Boku no Hero Academia

Boku no Hero Academia / Episode 1 / Deku's first meeting with All Might

What makes a hero? That’s the question that Boku no Hero Academia attempts to answer with its first season, and, in doing so, it starts off in rocking fashion. The fight scenes are emotional, and the designs are fun thanks to their quirkiness. But it’s the characters and their roles that are the most noteworthy. Especially All Might (whom I investigated in my essay, Boku no Hero and How to Hype a Fight). Alongside the cool music and the well-animated sequences, it’s a plus-ultra situation all around.

1. Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge / Episode 1 / Tanaka and Ohta sitting on a set of swings

Coming out of nowhere and, indeed, barely moving at all, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge takes the top spot out of all the others this season. Its listlessness motif carries its jokes as well as Ohta carries Tanaka. The color palette and attention to detail create a visually soothing experience. And the hysterical cast, the fitting soundtrack, and the myriad of enjoyable moments make it an entertaining (albeit lethargic) ride from start to finish. Its lack of a higher meaning prevents it from reaching those ultra top-tier ranks, but it is without a doubt a very well-executed anime. More than earning it the title of Best Anime of Spring 2016.

That’s all from me, folks! I would like to thank each and every person who followed me throughout this season. From commenting on my blog here to hitting me up on Twitter to responding to my threads on reddit, it’s you guys and gals that make what I do all worth it.

Summer 2016, I’m on my way! :3