With 2022 officially over, now comes the moment that many of you have been waiting for. It’s time for our annual foray into annoying everyone with our questionable opinions, the Best of Anime 2022 post! Continuing in 2021’s wake this will be a collaboration between writers. That would be me (Pancakes), Choya, FJ Freeman, Princess Usagi, and Miss Simplice. We didn’t quite manage all the shows this year (or complete this on time…), but we heavily focused on watching entries that made a serious clamour within the anime community. This is a third time for us, and we’ll inevitably get things wrong. So please feel free to be brutally honest while giving us constructive feedback. And if we picked something you disagree with don’t hesitate to voice your opinion – best of posts are always subjective!

Continuing from 2021, there are numerous categories in the following areas: Production, Miscellaneous, Genre, and Notable Others. Due to lack of series candidates, and/or the belief that we may not have watched enough shows to make an informed decision about specific genres, some categories present in previous years were ommitted. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Disclaimer: As always, disclaimers abound. Please keep in mind that “best” is subjective. What’s best for us isn’t necessarily best for you, and that’s perfectly fine. This list shouldn’t be taken as some kind of inviolable truth, but rather the opinions of those involved who had too much time on their hands and spent it conjuring up a list of picks based on all the anime they watched. Naturally, our choices will be influenced by our own tastes, experiences, and personal impressions. Before you go bashing one of our choices, please make sure you’ve at least seen it and know where we’re coming from. Finally, all we ask is that you respect our opinions and the opinions of others in the comments, just like we respect yours. Thank you.

Disclaimer #2: The choices in this post are not reflective of the opinions of all Random Curiosity writers. They are solely the opinions of myself (Pancakes), Choya, FJ Freeman, and Princess Usagi, save for where otherwise noted. Thank you for your understanding.

Note: For a show to be considered, it has to have met the requirements outlined in the Reader’s Choice Poll. For OVAs/movies, the additional requirement is that it’s been either released on BD or DVD, so that viewers outside of Japan have had a chance to watch it.


Production

Visuals

Visuals and fluid movement. It’s all about the quality of what we see on screen and what impressed us the most. To a certain degree, character designs and overall art style fall into this category too.

Pancakes: Let’s be honest, the best anime visuals are always dominated by the big productions, and 2022 proved no exception. Much as with earlier years ufotable claims the throne with the latest Kimetsu no Yaiba, because obviously you cannot say no to this AAA animation powerhouse. Love or hate ufotable’s style, there’s no denying it works very well with the likes of Kimetsu no Yaiba, as breathing techniques, sword play, and the fluid motions of fast-paced, complex fight sequences are accompanied by strong art and bold colours. It’s visuals like this which make many anime fans in the first place, so to see it in all its glory here is a treat. And the best part? There’s another season of Kimetsu no Yaiba lined up for spring 2023. Yeah, I don’t think next year’s visuals award will be difficult to decide either.

Winner: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Honorable Mentions: Mob Psycho 100

Story

As the somewhat polar opposite to what’s on the surface, here we’re looking at depth and what captivated us from start to finish. You don’t need amazing visuals to tell a good story, so it’s about the original material (if any) and the screenwriter’s adaptation of it here. Good cliffhangers that keep you on the edge of your seat week after week suggest the series is doing something right, whereas filler-esque showings don’t.

Pancakes: While a potential head tilter of a winner for some, for me Summertime Render was the standout anime story of the year. This isn’t mind you so much for the absolute originality of its material as much as its narrative strength: from start to finish this was a very tight and well-written supernatural thriller with very little downtime. No particular moment felt sluggish, no development agonizing in the time taken to explore it. Each week we got something to dig our teeth into, and as time went by, plenty to wind up seriously debating as the nature of Shinpei’s ability and Haine’s intentions came to the fore. Although it did have its moments of weakness (particularly later on), Summertime Render was a series showing the best stories are often the ones which put some thought into their execution and never take their audience for granted. When it comes to pure popcorn entertainment in a solid fictional world, there are few better examples than this one.

Winner: Summertime Render

Honorable Mentions: Made in Abyss, Shingeki no Kyojin

Soundtrack

What would a series be without the music to help set the mood and tone? A good soundtrack enhances the power and emotions behind scenes in such a way that you start associating imagery with the music unconsciously, regardless of whether it’s cheery, inspiring, or heartfelt. Lasting impressions say a lot, plus it just has to sound good too.

Princess Usagi: Heartachingly gorgeous, Kevin Penkin’s soundtrack for Made in Abyss was one of the (many) features that defined its second season. MiA is both unmistakably gorgeous and unthinkably horrific and the soundtrack accompanied its light and dark moments without missing a beat. Otherworldly scenes of forging into the unknown with already beautiful animation were made that much more dazzling by the ethereal music in the background. The melodies really made you feel you were basking in a paradise of adventure that few have entered. At the same time, the dark, menacing tones set you on edge for whatever hell was about to follow – just hearing it sent my stomach turning. Even on its own without the visuals, the soundtrack carries a sense of awestruck beauty and heartsick longing that encapsulates MiA and makes for an immersive listening experience like no other.

Winner: Made in Abyss

Honorable Mentions: Yofukashi no Uta, Ryman’s Club, Spy x Family

Opening & Ending Sequence

Whether for its originality or ability to showcase what a series has to offer, opening sequences are always fun to watch. We tend to look forward to new ones and the songs that will be featured in them, and sometimes get a glimpse at what’s coming up in the show too (for better or worse). Here, the focus is on the sequence itself, even though the song may play a part in making it memorable.

Unlike opening sequences, endings don’t strive to draw the viewer in and get them psyched up about the episode that’s coming up. Instead, they’re an outro to what you’ve just seen and may highlight a specific aspect/emotion of the series, though sometimes they’re completely irrelevant to the actual story and are just an outlet for sheer fun/comedic value. Whichever the case, there are certain sequences that we enjoyed more than others.

Winner: 「ミックスナッツ」”Mixed Nuts” by Official HIGE DANDism Spy x Family

Princess Usagi: Stylish and catchy, Spy x Family’s OP, 「ミックスナッツ」(Mixed Nuts) by Official HIGE DANDism takes home the win. Animated in a pop art style that was at once eye-catching and reflective of the show’s mid-century aesthetics, it kicked off every episode with a bang. The tune’s high energy combined with an explosive car chase right off the bat conveyed the dynamism of espionage central to the show. The lyrics about life and people being a mixed bag also perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the Forger family, where everyone has multiple sides and experiences many ups and downs navigating family life. The lyrics also gave a nice nod to Anya in referencing her favorite snack, peanuts, as a metaphor for life. Anya is, of course, a central character to the series. We often see the world through the lens of her telepathy powers and many episodes revolve around the crazy antics she gets up to in acting off of what she hears (or mishears). The OP artistically played tribute to this in childishly drawn sequences following Anya through her day, a visual narration from her point of view. The way the OP transitioned into more smoothly drawn art depicting the adults’ roles was also quite stylistic, visually and metaphorically. An iconic OP, this will stick with me for quite a while.

Honorable Mentions w/ [Official OP/Official OP]:

Winner: 風、花」Kaze, hana by hitorie Dance Dance Danseur

Princess Usagi: The first time I saw this ED (and every time after that), 「風、花」(Kaze, hana) by hitorie gave me the chills. The music combined with the dancers’ fluid movements tracked across the screen was jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It imbued me with the awe and carefree joy Junpei felt watching, dancing his beloved ballet in Dance Dance Danseur. A major focus of the series was Junpei and Luou’s struggle with their shortcomings, as humans and as dancers. They know where they want to be in the ballet world but can’t get there as fast as they would like, no matter how hard they try to expediate things. The series is dear to me because of how it explores this experience of youth, where your experience level doesn’t yet match up with your vision and where reality moves at a snail’s pace when you want it to move at an Olympic sprint. In the ED, I really got a sense of this juxtaposition of daydreams, this elegant vision for the future existing alongside raw, unpolished talent. The traditional animation co-existing alongside shadows and rough pencil sketches poetically conveyed a sense of Junpei and Luou as diamonds in the rough, faint shadows of who they want to be and who they will become in the future. The collage of images in the background got across a sense of the mixed up world of being a teenager- the clutter of emotions, experiences, and dreams Junpei has to work through. As well as the joy of creating and living in your dreams, captured by characters leaping carefree from one shot to the next. It was a joy from start to (almost) finish, watching Junpei discover his passion in life-his light-bulb moment “Ah, this is what I want to do!”. I loved how the ED reflected that through collages of lights (flashlights, moons, UFO beams)- sending him from one unique scene to the next, much like how Junpei’s passion propels him into creating his own, unique universe around him. Then, there’s this sense of nostalgia for being a youth again and discovering one’s own passions and raw talents that you get from the visuals and music-watching this ED wasn’t an “Aww, it’s over” feeling, it was an experience in and of itself, telling Junpei’s story in the way he knows best-through music and dance.

Honorable Mentions w/ [Official ED/Official MV]:

Song

With the sequences covered, the attention is now on the actual songs. Insert songs are also up for consideration, with the only real criteria being that it’s something we never got tired of listening to. There’s no bearing on if it was created specifically for a series or even if the series was any good, we’re simply picking some of our favorite songs that were featured in an anime.

Pancakes: With the primary consideration of songs being the music and how catchy/well-executed/impressionable it is, should bear little surprise that Paripi Koumei’s OP Chiki Chiki Bam Bam quickly bubbled to the top of the list. Europop after all is well-versed at hooking its teeth into unsuspecting listeners, and this cover (since the original is Bulikirály by the Hungarian pop group Jolly) does that in spades. Particularly impressive too is how well the song works with Paripi Koumei’s characters: not only does its upbeat club nature mesh wonderfully with Eiko’s dreams and aspirations – i.e. belying how a positive and determined attitude can see success – but also with how Kongming near effortlessly learned to love the world he found himself in and potential open to him. Sure, in the end it remains an OP (and not even sung by any of the cast themselves), but few other tracks in 2022 can say they did as well as this in both hooking the listener and emphatically stating just what their show was all about.

Winner: Chiki Chiki Bam Bam by QUEENDOM (Paripi Koumei)

Honorable Mentions w/ [Official Song]: Kessoku Band – I Will Never Forget (Bocchi the Rock!)


Miscellaneous

Studio

While it can be argued that individual staff members play the largest impact in a series’ success and a staff may differ greatly between series made by the same studio, the argument can also be made that studios tend to have stylistic nuances that can be found only in series produced by that studio, and this category aims to recognize studios that have made themselves known in that regard—whether it’s in the staff they chose, the diversity of their productions, the consistency of their animation quality, or the quirks they’ve given their main characters.

FJ Freeman: Even though 2022 marked the year of the season finale of Pocket Monsters (2019), marking a generation of research fellows, trainers, and rangers alike, a second season of Komi-san, and the outstanding Summer Time Render, OLM, while deserving of acclaim, just couldn’t quite squeak the win. That instead must go to Cloverworks. From Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku to SpyXFamily, there’s certainly something for everyone, and CloverWorks managed to both bring outstanding animation in every episode and portray characters on screen in a very real light. This studio has a tendency to investigate the dynamics of characters and portray friendships unlike anyone else, from the small moments providing a vignette into the lives of fictional people, to the loud moments full of bombastic sakuga animation. They managed to bring everything to the table. Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru stole our hearts and made Marin the girl that proved Harajuku gals can be much more than just aesthetics. With a little bit of empathy and tons of deprived otaku-ness, she stole our hearts and made us want to dance. A second season of Shadow House brought mystery and intrigue, and let’s not forget about Bocchi the Rock! A series that deserves an award all of its own. For exceptional storytelling, stunning adaptations, and consistent quality among all of its IPs, CloverWorks truly deserves the win.

Winner: CloverWorks!

Honorable Mentions: OLM, Studio 3Hz

Character (Male and Female)

Branching away from strictly picking series and focusing on some specifics is the idea behind the miscellaneous section. The first one is our favorite character, who won his or her way into our hearts for whatever reason. The criteria here is somewhat loose, but with numerous options in a single series, multiplied by almost a hundred in the past year, it’s actually quite difficult to pick one above all others. Be that as it may…

Choya: While many shounen attempt to emphasize that it takes perseverance, determination, and the power of bonds to accomplish anything in the world, Denji is a much simpler protagonist. Having been deprived of most of his fundamental needs at a young age, he is exploited by a deadly devil-hunting agency because he is ruled by his simplest impulses. Whereas folks like Aki and Himeno have a moral compass that keeps them from fully embracing the dirty work they’re compelled to do, Denji thrives in the toxic environments he’s thrown into because he’s just that desperate to have what others seek on a basic level. And because his racing thoughts push him to obey his impulses, he finds himself risking life and limb for some of the most basic expressions of intimacy. Things that are often taken for granted in a relentless society like time to sleep, access to a full pantry, and a roof over his head are treated like luxuries by Denji because life never came to him that easily until he built a sense of dependence around Makima and the devil hunters.

What I find significant about Denji is how he contrasts with so many stock anime heroes because he was held back by having nothing to his name but Pochita for most of his life. Because he’s still trying to catch up with the customs and social cues that society encourages, he finds himself unable to connect with others on a deeper level and empathy doesn’t come as easily to him. He’s a character who’s entirely a blank slate, not because he lacks enough personality to insert yourself into him, but because it takes personal experiences he has to be able to learn about the happiness, pain, and grief that others feel. Rather than having to rely only on his own senses, his experiences in polite society and in combat compel him to learn more about what he’s been missing out on this whole time. Sure, there’s plenty of trial and error with Denji’s regular pratfalls into almost certain doom. But it adds to Chainsaw Man’s uniqueness by having the focus center less around Denji’s willingness to help others and more around the trials he goes through as he seeks out some semblance of normalcy in his own way.

Winner: Denji Chainsaw Man

Honorable Mentions: Bojji – Ousama Ranking, Loid Forger – Spy x Family

Choya: In any other year, it would’ve been an all-out brawl between any of the main girls of any given dream girl anime. Heck, I’d be tempted to clog up the Runner-Up section with every girl in Chainsaw Man if it didn’t feel overly excessive, and I couldn’t bring myself to put just one of them up there. But while this year was a huge boom for the dream girl subgenre, it was also a year where there were so many memorable female characters who are solid by their own merit. Whether it be cold, unbridled ambition or overcome with anxiety, this is the one category where you could easily have a difficult Top 10 set up for it. And yet, I knew what my answer should be long before I would even formulate the runner-up list. It’d be a choice made not by their looks or their abilities, but a choice made because they were a very charming and hilarious character. I am talking about Spy x Family’s goofy, precocious Anya, whose fun antics were celebrated by the anime fandom and commemorated on so much merch.

Anya has to be one of the most authentic kid characters out there since she still carries the same logic and interests as a kid but has to think wisely so that she can continue helping her “parents” keep their cover. She deals with enough kid problems and impulses that she’s never placed in the position where she’s meant to be the smartest person in the room. Rather than having the thoughts and logic of a grown adult trapped in a kid’s body, Anya is just a simple kid who still retains her childlike whimsy even with the powers and secrets she must keep hidden. She makes for a perfect perspective into the world of Spy x Family as it becomes all the more relatable for her to try to adjust to her new living situation just as we’re getting used to the larger-than-life jobs of her “parents” Loid and Yor. It’s an admirable, refreshing take on kid characters for one like Anya to arrive and be adored because it’s easy to relate to her precocious, zany way of interpreting the world she navigates around based on her personal intuition as a kid. Whether she interprets a situation correctly or incorrectly, she still processes it in such a natural way that I can’t help but appreciate what Anya represents as a kid character done right.

Winner: Anya Forger – Spy x Family

Honorable Mentions: Kitagawa Marin – Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru, Rebecca – Cyberpunk 2077: Edgerunners, Yor Forger – Spy x Family

Character/Costume Design

As the saying goes “dress for success” and in this category, we will be looking at the shows that have successfully dressed their characters in a defining manner. Series in this category will have costume designs that illustrate the characters’ personalities, fit into the story’s setting, are unique, and/or are stylishly done. The design of the characters are also unique, engaging, and suitable to the story.

Princess Usagi: Gracing the screen with an explosion of color, the costumes in Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yuukaku-hen earn it an honorable mention. The incorporation of kimono patterns and fashion styles typical of Taisho era, as well as the lavish costuming of the Yoshiwara residents were a true sight to behold. Another runner up on the list, Spy x Family, was a fashion feast for the eyes in its incorporation of mid-century fashion into the Forger family wardrobe.

This year, the best dressed anime was Vanitas no Karte. Frills, bustles, hats, cloaks, all on gorgeous display and tweaked to reflect individual characters. For example, Jeanne’s pink and white uniform mixing cute girliness with fierceness or Vanitas’ mysteriousness amplified by his wide, dark (and bat-like looking) cloak. I personally am fascinated by Victorian/turn of the century fashions and Vanitas no Karte’s steampunk take on that was fun to see.

Winner: Vanitas no Karte

Emotional Moment

The emotional moment of the year is defined by strong, persistent, and bold feelings. They can be torrents of happiness, pangs of regret, or the deepest reaches of agony and suffering, but the winner is the one which made us feel for the character alongside them and get just a bit of what they’re going through.

 
Show Spoiler ▼

 

Plot Twist

For plot twist of the year, we’re looking for a sudden unexpected turn of events in the story that caught us off guard and delivered sheer shock value. It’s that “WTF” moment that has people talking about it for the next few days, regardless of whether or not anyone found it agreeable.

 
Show Spoiler ▼

 

Betrayal

Betrayal: The act of betraying one’s country, a group, or a person. This category was inspired by the ‘Top 5 Anime Betrayals’ meme and debuts as an experimental addition for the sake of fun.

 
Show Spoiler ▼

 

Death

This may be part of a plot twist or something you see coming a mile away, but we’re concerned about the impact the death has on the story and us as viewers. Well-executed screenplay leading up to it may play a big part, but there are also cases where a character dies so suddenly that we’re left in complete disbelief. In both cases, it’s the lingering impression we’re basing our selection on.

 
Show Spoiler ▼

 


Genre

Action

Action, action, and more action! The action genre ranges anywhere from shounen-crazed series to war-filled mecha shows. For battles, choreography plays a huge role, so that was definitely taken into consideration.

Choya: We’ve had a good luck streak with newer shonen since Boku no Hero Academia ushered in a new wave of younger creators who aimed to subvert many of the old tricks with unflinching, uncompromising stories of pain and triumph. Even adaptations of older shonen like Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War add the same caliber of gravitas and weight to its campy drama, ultracool powerups, and slick action scenes that you’d expect from a newer Jump series. But out of the many shonen that have blown up since the mid-2010s, one of the most promising, unique, and off-kilter stories to arrive is Fujimoto Tatsuki’s action horror series Chainsaw Man.

The effort that went into the Chainsaw Man anime shows the full dedication it took to make the show look like a labor of love that the staff had enough faith in that they’d want to spare no expense with the anime. Its flowy, life-like animation tapped into Fujimoto’s love for film, creating a unique cinema-verite approach to the gritty, somber atmosphere the manga provided. Each episode is capped off with a different ED sequence as different musicians and animators are showcased to create something new and transformative from the source material. If I were to sum it up, the effort that went into Chainsaw Man felt like a passion project from people who loved the manga and wanted to do their due diligence to make the most polished, creative version of that story that they could.

At the end of the day though, Chainsaw Man’s most valuable asset is its unconventional approach to storytelling. It bucks the trend of other shonen by focusing less on the pros of being a big grand hero and more on the cons of having access to such powerful strength that you unintentionally paint a target on your back. The Devil Hunters are constantly fearing for their lives as they’re placed in one of the most dangerous professions in the country for basic necessities, and yet Denji finds that the main reason he’s gotten lucky is that Makima know’s he is reckless enough to risk his life to experience intimacy and the average human experience. It makes for a very compelling story that focuses on the humanistic aspects of trying to make ends meet yet still trying your damnedest to retain the part of yourself that feels alive. It’s as much a celebration of being alive in a brutal world as it is a gory spectacle that throws Denji into one death trap after another.

At the same time, it strikes a wonderful balance between understanding the gravity of the situation that the Devil Hunters are in and leaning on the irreverence of Denji’s immaturity as his main motivations are driven by his lust for women and his lack of empathy. It made me respect Aki a lot more as a character given how we’re given as much time looking into his angst and personal struggles as we do Denji & Power’s eccentric journey of self-discovery. There were many action anime this year that were nothing short of awesome, but Chainsaw Man pushed the envelope so much further when it came to carving out a personality for itself as a somber, raw, and wild thrill ride.

Winner: Chainsaw Man

Honorable Mentions: Lycoris Recoil, Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War

Romance

Emotion-filled romance at its finest. The relationship between characters and the emotions involved are the appeal, and the main criteria for selecting a series here. A sentimental story is always good, with tear-jerking scenes being a plus. This is the series that had the best romantic mood from the character interactions to the big confession.

Choya: To be blunt, 2022 didn’t quite have that romantic spark. Sasaki to Miyano would’ve been my top choice, but so much of it was focused on the preamble to a relationship that you barely had any time with the couple by the time things start to heat up. Let’s say we rev up the fryers for a romance that might get you a little hot under the collar. That’s the purpose of Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru, a story about the budding relationship between an aspiring atelier and a cosplay enthusiast.

The main highlight of this show is that it’s “The AOTY You DON’T Recommend”. Yes, one of the selling points of this anime is that you’re going to get a ton of low-brow ecchi in between scenes of Marin and Gojo getting comfortable with each other’s presence. Some might tell you that you can pretend it’s a wonderful anime if you plug your nose and look past the ecchi, but I feel that there is still value in the romance that the anime depicts, with or without the camera’s interest in Marin’s body.

Overall, the story that Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru depicts is a pleasant surprise that captures the awkward formative years that come from finding your place in the world through the hobbies you embrace. While Marin is able to find the confidence she seeks through Gojo earnest charm, Gojo finds that he grows more passionate as he dedicates his craft on Marin’s cosplay. And through their mutually-shared hobbies, the main couple begins to develop a sense of chemistry among themselves. The combination of Marin’s infectious charm and Gojo’s down-to-earth sensibilities make for a wonderful pairing as they grow more and more interested in learning about each other. For a romance story that has a jolt of energy to it, you’ll be happy to hear that Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru doesn’t settle for a decaf experience.

Winner: Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru

Honorable Mentions: Sasaki to Miyano

Drama

A lot of good series out there depict an emotion-filled story where the romance comes secondary, if at all. Strong depictions of friendship and in challenging situations can really draw a viewer into the story and start making them sympathize with the characters. It’s a bit of an all-encompassing genre, but only a handful of series really pull viewers in with their screenplay.

Pancakes: When it comes to drama often the more melodrama (heh) the better, so in keeping with this spirit should be no shocker that Baraou no Souretsu worked its way to the top. While there are admittedly a lot of issues with this adaptation, anything based on Shakespeare’s works by definition is dripping in vivid characters and climactic moments, and Baraou no Souretsu certainly didn’t disappoint on this front. Whether it be the internal turmoil (both mental and physical) of Richard III, the smug and suave sense of inevitability of Henry VI, or any of the colourful cast present in this interpretation of the War of the Roses, there certainly wasn’t any lack of emotion as this show ran through its paces, ensuring that the drama was never far from the scene. The best enjoyment will naturally come from having some familiarity with England’s most chaotic civil war (if only to keep track of who’s who), but without a doubt few series in 2022 can match the made for theatre carnage that Barou no Souretsu wrought.

Winner: Baraou no Souretsu

Historical

History is not just the particular clothing worn or a significant event or two, but a whole way of life that both influenced and was influenced by the issues, innovations, and values of the times. Noteworthy shows in this category incorporate a particular historical setting not just because it’s cool, but because it has actual bearing on the story. The history presented must also demonstrate knowledge of and respect for the time period.

Princess Usagi: There were a few unique historical series this year. Not the least of which were the weekly adventures of Jusetsu, a supernaturally gifted empress who set to rest mysteries both in the ancient Chinese court at large and in her own life, accompanied by her growing band of friends in Koukyuu no Karasu. While I can’t say much about the accuracy of it, what I can say is that the setting and characters gave the right “feel” to it. The subtle hints of imperial politics, intrigues among the concubines and eunuchs, and gorgeous costumes transported me back in time to ancient China week after week. No matter the country or time period, court politics turn into major tragedies when lived through, but with time, can be turned into gripping dramas- as with King Richard III in the rise and fall of his reign as depicted in Baraou no Souretsu. While many liberties were certainly taken so it seemed more of a fan fiction than faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s play (which itself is historically biased), it explores a more human side of King Richard-quite unusual and refreshing for a person/character who is typically portrayed only as a dark-hearted villain. That, combined with the unique setting (for anime) of the War of the Roses and ensuing tangle of political drama earns this an honorable mention.

The series that most impressed me in this category for 2022 was Spy x Family. While it is not explicitly stated that this series takes place in a particular era, it has a strong call back to the 1960’s. The clothing, set designs, automobiles, all have a mid-century vibe-even down to the fabric on the furniture and the pop-art aesthetic of the 1st cour OP. Not to mention the fantastic retro jazziness of the soundtrack. As someone who wears/lives in mid-century vintage, I greatly appreciated the attention to historical detail-the staff clearly did their research. Not just the aesthetics, but also the underlying politics that drive the story work as a period piece. The information war between Ostania and Westalia that necessitates Twilight forming the Forger family is no doubt inspired by the Cold War between the US and Russia. As an undercover spy, Twilight’s work forms a core part of the series and it was great fun to see how the hilarious espionage hijinks brought to mind great spy series from the 60’s such as “James Bond” or “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”. Spy x Family is a heartfelt take on the nuclear family with the stresses of childrearing that first time parents Yor and Loid comically experience with Anya and the darker side of domestic life with the societal pressure Yor faces in her role as Mrs. Forger. All in all, a well deserved win for Spy x Family.

Winner: Spy x Family

Horror/Thriller

The best horror shows are those that incite visceral feelings of shock, fear, and pulse-pounding dread. Gore is not a necessity for this genre, as there’s always psychological thrillers that are just as gripping if not more. However, those that can provide both an unsettling atmosphere and a good scare are even better.

Pancakes: Admit it, you knew this one was coming. While it was a very quiet year for horror and thriller, given Chainsaw Man was a thing it’s probably no shocker that any other series would have a hard time competing against this one, especially as the episodes went by. Chainsaw Man epitomizes thriller to a T, taking a pulpy, supernatural concept, mashing it with a group of wickedly over the top characters and character desires, and topping the whole concoction off with a nice bit of gory ultraviolence. I doubt few would go as far as singing the unabashedly praises of this adaptation’s visuals or saying it’s the absolute best story out there (MAPPA is as MAPPA does), but with some neat psychological tension and nifty body horror creations flying about, there’s no denying Chainsaw Man made the most of its concept and left the door wide open for more. Could you really ask for more?

Winner: Chainsaw Man

Mystery

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Thought-provoking storylines that keep inquisitive viewers watching and speculating on where things are headed? Yes, please. They don’t necessarily have to have a horror element to them either, as all we’re looking for here is a blend of detective/crime fiction.

Pancakes: As with 2021 it was a sparse year for anime mysteries, yet that doesn’t mean it was hard finding a winner, not when Summertime Render was occupying the midyear spotlight. For much the same reasons that this one took best story effectively made it a good mystery: tight writing, suitable suspense and foreshadowing, and developments which could go several different ways. For all it became a mostly predictable series towards the end (courtesy of a conventional premise vs. a more philosophical approach) it always left one on the edge of their seat and eagerly awaiting the next episode – especially once the consequences of Shinpei’s power became known. Just goes to show in mystery how well smart and thought-out writing can elevate a basic idea into a fantastic production.

Winner: Summertime Render

Supernatural

Supernatural is undeniably a sub-genre of fantasy. But where you’ll typically see dragons and wizards in traditional fantasy, a supernatural story usually has a greater footing with our reality — which also includes realistic historical setting. It typically takes on a darker tone and specifically highlights supernatural creatures or happenings as being far from the accepted norm.

Princess Usagi: It was really hard to pick just one winner-there was quite a handful of great supernatural series in 2022. For starters, we had the second cour of Vanitas no Karte with Noé and Vanitas digging deeper into the lore of curse-bearing vampires in a steampunk 19th century France, providing a unique spin on the vampire niche. Vampires may be cool, but let’s not forget they are dangerous creatures of the night, which Yofukashi no Uta does not fail to remind us in Kou’s midnight wanderings with Nazuna. Kou’s exploration of the vampire world, as well as, his place in the human vs supernatural societies struck a chord with me in its sensitive exploration of individuals and society at large, particularly a society that does not fit them. Another biggie for 2022 was Summertime Render, where mysterious Shadows threaten Hitogashima Island, driving Shinpei, Ushio, and their band of friends to uncover the Island’s deep secrets. The isolated setting, insidiousness of the Shadows, and suspenseful set up reminded me a lot of the B monster movies I grew up watching-while things got kind of convoluted in the end, it was still a good watch.

While each of those shows were superb, the win ultimately goes to Mob Psycho 100 III. The depth and sensitivity with which Mob’s supernatural powers are portrayed both in the story’s lore and as a wider metaphor for adolescence, the funny, heartwarming moments of Mob figuring life out and Reigen being Reigen for better or worse, and the absolute sweetheart that is Mob makes this series gold. It was a joy to watch the story and character build up in the first 2 seasons be expanded into its final form, which did not disappoint.

Winner: Mob Psycho 100 III

Sci-Fi

When it comes to science fiction, a futuristic world with advanced technology, robots, space travel, and superhuman abilities is the usual connotation. However, that’s not the only setting that fits this genre. Sometimes all a series has to do is play up a single sci-fi aspect and do it well to go down as an excellent sci-fi series.

Pancakes: While sci-fi is one of those genres perennially down (if not out) most years, 2022 was above par in both offerings and quality. Besides 86 which technically ended back in January (and already won last year) it was also the year of multimedia adaptations, with everything from Blade Runner to Arknights and even Black Rock Shooter featuring in all their glory. Should probably be no surprise, however, that the standout this time was Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, because oh damn did this one break all expectations. Besides Edgerunners hearkening back to Trigger’s better days in both action and animation, we got a fully self-contained dystopic cyberpunk story with choice characters (Rebecca is bae), fleshed out and tightly written developments, and some very fun moments to round it all out. Or if you will, what Altered Carbon’s first (and only) season probably would be in anime form. Sure, this show did admittedly falter in its later half following the timeskip, but few anime can claim to have completely turned around their parent franchise the way Edgerunners did. This is one sci-fi anime you owe to yourself to give this one a watch – you won’t be disappointed.

Winner: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Honorable Mentions: Arknights: Reimei Zensou

Mecha

Whether it be saving the world or saving oneself, mecha is defined by the presence of big giant robots helping its cast either achieve their hopes and dreams or avoid a terrible fate. While almost always sci-fi, mecha isn’t limited to the genre and has over the years seen some works venture into the realm of magic and fantasy to truly explore the potential of man and machine.

Pancakes: Normally any year which sees a new Gundam series airing would be easy for the mecha awarding, but given Utena in Space Witch from Mercury carried over into mid-January 2023 it’s an open category. Or would be if not for Otome Game Sekai wa Mob ni Kibishii Sekai desu. Although ostensibly an isekai at heart, Mobseka was one hell of a genre-straddling ride, fusing just the right amount of parody and comedic introspection with a suitably over-the-top story and characters fitting the requirements. And also the chuckle-worthy fantasy mech designs, cannot forget about those. In short Mobseka may not be what the mecha loyalists elevate to Evangelion status down the line, but it shows you often don’t have to search the haystack long to find that next needle once the big boys move out the way.

Winner: Otome Game Sekai wa Mob ni Kibishii Sekai desu

Fantasy

Where science fiction seeks to explain the remarkable happenings of its universe via technology and logic, fantasy is less concerned with that. Wizards, dragons, and Tolkien-esque adventures are what usually come to mind, but those aren’t mandatory. As long as the focus is less on what makes the world tick and more on using magic and wonder to tell a story, it’s probably a fantasy tale you’re looking at.

Pancakes: Fantasy was well-represented in 2022, albeit it was never a contest in hindsight when the likes of Ousama Ranking happened to end back in January. This show was a treat to watch from start to finish, melding a childlike fantasy atmosphere with some very interesting developments courtesy of Bojji’s deafness and budding friendship with shadows and humans alike. It was a prime underdog and coming of age story, where limitations served simply as hurdles to be overcome, challenges the points at which strength could be recognized. Although Ousama Ranking’s art and animation was never its strong suit (given what we’re used to these days) and did admittedly falter a bit later on, it was show which stayed remarkably consistent throughout and shows fantasy and anime both have yet to exhaust their imagination wellsprings.

Winner: Ousama Ranking

Honorable Mentions: Princess Connect! Re:Dive

Isekai

As an extension of the fantasy genre, isekai is a concept that has taken the anime industry by storm, revolving around a normal person from Earth being transported to, reborn, or trapped in a parallel universe — usually in a fantasy world.

Pancakes: Once again isekai remains anime’s favourite genre child so keeping it a separate category makes sense, particularly when quite a few contenders were up for consideration. From the established fun of Overlord to more imaginative offerings in Tensei Shitara Ken Deshita we ran the whole alternate world gamut in 2022, however out of everything on tap it was Isekai Ojisan which stood out the most. Outside of the annoying production issues this one was a breath of fresh air, playing to a post-isekai experience in a wholly comedic way that really made the material wickedly fun and highly entertaining. Couple on the subversion of some common tropes (MC age being one of them), the easter eggs on display, and some frankly impressive animation work, and it shouldn’t be too surprising how Isekai Ojisan wound up carrying the day and keeping the isekai zeitgeist going strong.

Winner: Isekai Ojisan

Honorable Mentions: Leadale no Daichi nite, Honzuki no Gekokujou, Shokei Shoujo no Virgin Road

Comedy

The ability to make you laugh until you cry – that’s probably the number one criteria when selecting a comedy of the year. From everything to sheer stupidity, quirky characters, and timely comedic pauses to perverted fun, elaborate setups, and witty jokes, it’s the lighthearted nature and humorous entertainment value of these series that we love.

Choya: Pop Team Epic’s first season might have tried to balance its irreverent comedy with experimental animation, but rather than leaning on the former for Season 02, they went all-in on the latter with reckless abandon. With more money to experiment, they spared no expense in turning every skit in the manga into a post-modern playground where avant garde visuals are paired up with jokes about struggling through video games, tussling with chocobos, or deliberately sticking their middle fingers up to social norms.

In addition to tinkering around with the animation, they also used their infinite budget to take their trend of having legendary seiyuu be Popuko and Pipimi, and take it to its highest heights. It made for genuinely good TV to see reunions from the main duos of Full Metal Alchemist, Haruhi Suzumiya, Yakuza, Hunter x Hunter, K-ON, Mobile Suit Gundam, and many more. As the icing on the cake, we have an extended presence of the fabulous VA Shouta Aoi who returns to act out an entire Super Sentai parody in live action segments for the first and final episode. There were many reasons to laugh this year, but the laughs I got from Pop Team Epic came from such a beautifully wild place.

Winner: Pop Team Epic S2

Honorable Mentions: Akiba Maid Sensou

Romantic Comedy

The romantic comedy genre separates itself from the individual romance and comedy ones by teasing us with potential relationships but never quite settling on one. Instead, the enjoyment comes from the character interactions themselves, often – but not always – in harem-like scenarios.

Choya: As rough as Netflix is with how they treat their seasonal anime, they’ve picked up some very solid, unique titles this year. One of which happens to be an off-kilter RomCom by the name of Romantic Killer. Much of the focus centers around an avoidant otaku girl named Anzu who does her best to sabotage a maniacal wizard’s efforts to hook her up with one of many dreamboats they’ve roped into falling for her. What clicked about the series for me is how it feels like a harem comedy from the early 2010s where the characters were zany and over-the-top, but surprisingly fleshed-out and full of heart. They make an effort to get you invested in the boys so that you aren’t left with the idea that they exist solely to mirror the vapid, empty dream guys from Anzu’s favorite otome games.

It also approaches its protagonist from a forward-thinking perspective as they never let Anzu cave into Riri’s meddling, and yet she’s sympathetic to what the guys have to endure throughout their personal lives. Whether it’s the fear of isolation drawn out by a traumatic experience with a stalker or the realization that the sweet life has created the false illusion that money can build sustainable connections with others, Anzu goes with her gut to help iron out the boys’ personal issues by her own code.

Even Riri became easier to sympathize with as they strengthened their relationship with Anzu. By shifting into female and male human forms, Riri can not only hang out with Anzu and the boys more often but also build a healthier bond with Anzu that isn’t centered around being a goofy obnoxious wizard mascot who seeks to rob her of her worldly desires until she’s married.It was definitely made on the cheap and the manga was unfortunately one of the many casualties of Shonen Jump+’s itchy trigger finger, but that’s why I’d like to champion it. If its popularity on Netflix manages to renew interest in more of the story, I’d be very happy if Romantic Killer wound up finding a second life as an endearing ONA series.

Winner: Romantic Killer

Honorable Mentions: Kaguya-sama: Love is War -Ultra Romantic-, Teasing Master Takagi-san Season 3, Komi Can’t Communicate Part 2

Slice of Life

A laid-back series with no reliance on heavily gimmicky plot devices nor a constantly progressing storyline is what this genre stands for. The character interactions themselves in an otherwise “normal” setting are the highlight, along with any incidental humor that results from them. A lot of times, they’re just really cute and innocent happenings, and that’s exactly what makes a good slice of life series.

Choya: Sometimes, the things we do for fun can involve some of the most cumbersome activities imaginable. For Bocchi, her transition from being an anonymous guitar soloist to a member of a local band is the source of her undying panic. What I found to be unique and fascinating about Bocchi the Rock is how it captures human emotion at its most cerebral, primal, and animalistic through how it captures the girls’ moods. The animation distorts into such beautiful misery when Bocchi and the other girls find themselves overwhelmed by every new step they take to build their band from the ground up. Easily, the most stand-out moments of the anime are when the animation starts to go completely off-the-rails and either lean into the fluidity of the girls’ performances or the chaos of the inner turmoil that tosses Bocchi and the other girls into their own personal inferno.

I also love how it does well to encapsulate the experience of being part of a local band trying to foster a following. Whether it be through the hard-hitting garage rock music, the shoestring budget they have to work off of, or the small, dingy spaces they have to practice at, it captures the feeling of following a group of would-be hometown heroes who aspire for a following they may or may not be emotionally prepared for. There’s a sense of authenticity that winds up going missing in a ton of other music anime that focus on the bands and performers being automatically perfect, save for a few hiccups in confidence. In Bocchi the Rock, the girls are thrown into one hectic situation after another, and have to really stretch themselves thin to put on the best act they possibly can while they’re just starting to get comfortable with performing. There were plenty of fun, unique, and hard-hitting slice-of-life shows this year, but Bocchi the Rock is the closest it gets to a perfect experience that feels like living and breathing the rock life, for better or worse.

Winner: Bocchi the Rock

Honorable Mentions: Kotarou wa Hitorigurashi, Do It Yourself!!, Spy x Family

Sports

This category seeks to celebrate the competitive past times many of us cherish—at least, the animated equivalents of them. Chances are you’re no Roger Federer or Lebron James, but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine ourselves as him or enjoy watching people like him play, and this category seeks to include those series that gave us a great take on a particular sport, with bonus points given to quality animations, insight into mental aspects of the game, and other athletic intangibles.

Princess Usagi: When I think back on the superb sports series that have aired through the years, just about all of them are set in high school. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course-you can have a good story regardless of the characters’ age. Sometimes, though, it is nice to break the mold, and the winner of the silver medal, Ryman’s Club, does just that, pitting corporate badminton teams against one another in perspiration filled matches by night and competitive sales work by day. Each salaryman was memorable, the badminton action enjoyable, and the story well-written-notable especially for an original series, something that is not seen too often (to my knowledge) in sports anime.

The recipient of this year’s gold medal is Ao Ashi. I loved what they did with the character and team building, taking the team in unexpected directions and lending depth to the characters and gameplay dynamics. Ashito is a sweetheart of a character, and the series portrayed him in such a raw, genuine way, I couldn’t help but root for him through the ups and downs of finding his place in the Tokyo Esperion youth league.

Winner: Ao Ashi

Category Defying

Also known as the Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita Memorial Award, this is the category for those shows that deserve to be on this list, even if we don’t have a clue where they should go. Many series cross into multiple genres, which is why you see shows being featured in multiple categories in this section. These series defy genre. They twist and squirm, evading our attempts to label them and are just themselves, as well as good. This is the category for shows that deserve recognition, even if we aren’t rightly sure what they were.

Choya: A show where a massive tapeworm is sucked out of a person’s body via mouth-to-mouth was never planning on being a conventional experience. One of my larger obsessions this year was Sabikui Bisco because of how many genres, ideas, and inspirations that it wholeheartedly embraces. The main genre that the series encompasses is science fiction, but its relationship with sci-fi is centered predominantly around the fungal serums and bioweapons that make up the backbone of a dystopian society ruled by a handsy film buff. And it all gets weirder from there.

It takes after several post-apocalyptic sci-fi series’ such as Trigun, FFVII, Mad Max, and Resident Evil to convey its admiration for the type of cinematic appeal that make each of them such memorable experiences. If scenes aren’t centered around psychedelic desert fight sequences that involves summoning giant mushrooms and riding giant animals, they’re focused on the characters using each other to test experimental fungal drugs or a man unintentionally navigating through his relationships with two affectionate siblings. Needless to say that Sabikui Bisco is a chaotic road trip that welcomes all of its universe’s bizarre oddities with open arms, and transcends its label as a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action anime.

I was THIS close to throwing Akiba Maid Sensou up here as a love letter to hard-boiled 90’s gangster films and the Akihabara maid culture. But each new episode of Sabikui Bisco felt like it was introducing an entirely new wacky concept that its characters and universe wholly embraced no matter how ridiculous or grotesque it might be. While Akiba Maid Sensou embodied the best of both yakuza films and maid antics, much of the fun of Sabikui Bisco is how it comes off like a story that’s entire ethos is to wing it with whatever cool movie or video game the author was heavily invested in. It comes off like a loving passion project that is too weird to describe with just one sentence.

Winner: Sabikui Bisco

Honorable Mentions: Akiba Maid Sensou


Notable Others

Most Underappreciated

There are numerous shows out there that people don’t watch or continue watching because they’re so fixated on what’s unanimously popular. We make a point of watching and covering series that tend to be overlooked, so this is intended to highlight the series that more people should have checked out but probably didn’t.

Princess Usagi: At first glance, what looked like something with niche appeal, Dance Dance Danseur explored broader, more personal themes of self-discovery through the medium of ballet. As a character, Junpei was a loveable goofball and you couldn’t help but relate and be drawn to his passion and journey of finding himself, reminding me what it was like to be a teenager, full of spark, ambition, and doubt. The contrast between Luou and Junpei and how they drove each other’s development, as well as the questioning of traditional gender roles also masterfully lent color and depth. Not to mention the absolutely gorgeous dance scenes, bringing to life the artfulness of the body and dance. As spectacular as Dance Dance Danseur was, the ending was a rather sour note which I still haven’t quite gotten over yet, which is why it lands as the “runner up” for this category.

The winner, which did not flub the ending, is Kotarou wa Hitorigurashi. Young Kotarou, due to family circumstances, lives by himself, though is not alone, with the watchful care of his new friends in his apartment building. Though the premise of a four-year old living on his own is unrealistic, the hardships he deals with and his sharp honesty and ability to see through the adults combined with his typical (and at times, hilarious) child’s way of piecing together his world through a favorite cartoon hit home for me. As someone who works with young children, I saw bits and pieces of my students in him and connected with the adults’ desire to love him, their sometimes confusion over Kotarou’s strange behavior, as well as, how they had to confront their own selves in caring for him. I appreciated that while the seriousness of Kotarou’s situation was explored as the adults slowly pieced together his situation, the show never stooped to contrived sentimentality or painting him merely as a poor, tragic character. Anime series with children often have the pitfall of one dimesionalizing the caretakers and children as balls of cuteness with a fluffy storyline and some manipulated tearjerkers thrown in for good measure. Kotarou wa Hitorigurashi surpassed that-the sentimental moments were earned and it gently explored the reciprocal relationship and personal change that happens in both child and adult. This series truly is a gold-star winner, and I would highly recommend checking out both it and the runner up, Dance Dance Danseur!

Winner: Kotarou wa Hitorigurashi

Biggest Disappointment

The pitfall of excessive hype and anticipation for anything is the disappointment that results when things don’t meet expectations. With regards to anime, this is doubly true when a series has precedent established by its original and a sequel falls incomparably short. At times it’s only a small letdown, but sometimes we’re left wondering what we did to deserve sitting through it. We’re not looking for the worst series of the year here, but the biggest disparity between expectations going in and way the series turned out.

Pancakes: When it comes to anime disappointment in 2022 none deserves the crown more than Hoshi no Samidare. It’s hard not seeing why: very popular and beloved manga never before adapted, red flags all over the place in the buildup to it, and then some seriously disappointing production values when it all finally fell into our laps. For all HnS benefited from having its creator Mizukami Satoshi overseeing the script and keeping its story on track, the horrendous CGI, lackluster sound effects (and OST if being honest), and other miscellaneous irks really threw a wrench into things and made many episodes a chore to watch through. Hoshi no Samidare is just one more unfortunate example on how adaptations don’t always show their stories in the best of light and how production can often make or break a series’ success.

Winner: Hoshi no Samidare

Greatest Trainwreck

When you expect something to be good, only for it to turn out bad, that’s one thing. When you expect something to be messy, and it embraces said messiness in spectacular fashion – be it extreme technical production issues or overarching storyline, that’s when you know you’ve got a trainwreck on your hands

Pancakes: While 2022 may not have a clear trainwreck the way 2021 did (oh Yakusoku no Neverland you were done dirty), don’t think it was lacking. Whether it be the romcom face into pavement chaos of Kanojo Okarishimasu or the right off a cliff plunge of Black Rock Shooter, we got a few prime examples, however none arguably deserve the label more than Platinum End. Sure, as a show in the age of light novel isekai adaptation it wasn’t especially egregious in either writing or art/animation, but when you’re boasting the creators of Death Note as your writers expectations are had and Platinum End, well, thoroughly missed all of them. Inconsistent pacing and excessively drawn-out fights; divisive characters ; chaotic (and occasionally nonsensical) developments: many trainwreck hallmarks featured throughout and were enhanced courtesy of poor explanations and seeming plot conveniences. All of this came together into a show which blew apart in its final act, helping to reinforce why hype and expectations should only be one measure when predicting a show’s success. After all, sometimes you wind up with glorious disasters like this.

Winner: Platinum End

Honorable Mentions: Kanojo Okarishimasu, Black Rock Shooter

Exceeded Expectations

Naturally, there’s the exact opposite of disappointment, where we go into a series with low or little-to-no expectations and it turns out much better than we anticipated. This could easily be considered finding diamonds in the rough, which is only possible if you tend to give new shows the benefit of the doubt. Our picks here don’t necessarily mean they’re blockbuster hits in disguise, but that the disparity between expectations and the actual series goes in the favorable direction.

Pancakes: If I’m being honest, there was only one show really proving all expectations wrong this past year – Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Although easy to think otherwise in hindsight, right off the bat there were plenty of reasons to doubt, whether it be Trigger’s hit or miss potential, the divisive nature of CD Projekt Red’s video game adaptation of the Cyberpunk universe, or simply the fact that most game anime tie-ins wind up imploding (and often spectacularly at that). To have what arguably could’ve been a trainwreck wind up being 2022’s best sci-fi production by far was a major surprise, especially given how good the story was for the material and studio in question. It’s not to say that Edgerunners is perfect or will be a show for absolutely everyone, but not many series can claim the universal praise of this one and deserve every last bit of it. When the anime planets align they most definitely leave a mark.

Winner: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Honorable Mentions: Paripi Koumei


And Finally…

Best Anime 2022

The be-all, end-all of the year. This pick is always a hotbed of controversy, so here’s the exact criteria we used to make it: if we were to meet an anime fan for the first time and they were to ask us to recommend a show that aired in 2018, what would it be? Without knowing the person’s tastes, we would naturally default to the show that did the most things right, one that had wide appeal and deserved it, that had superb animation and told its story well, and above all else, that we enjoyed. The winner of this category should be a high anticipation show that supremely deserved it, or a dark horse that blew everyone out of the water. This is subjective as hell, but you can find a list of our best picks below.

Pancakes: It’s always very hard choosing the best anime of any given year because to be frank many are potential contenders. 2022 especially was no exception, as getting everything from Chainsaw Man to Mob Psycho 100, Made in Abyss to Shingeki no Kyojin really made it a race. In the end, however, if only for the sheer strength and dark horse energy, could there be one winner: Bocchi the Rock. Anyone who’s watched this one through can understand why: from a show whose synopsis screamed K-On!! copycat came instead Watamote with style, utilizing the cute girls doing cute things aesthetic to tell a tale of introversion, social anxiety, and learning to come out of your shell. Cute moments, pleasant humour, and excellent characters came together into a tight-knit package never once letting up and never once growing boring. It’s quintessential anime through and through, showing how even the simplest of concepts can yield incredible material, and how a little production love and imagination can transform the most basic of premises into veritable cultural juggernauts. Bocchi the Rock may not ever wind up topping any greatest of all time lists, but given where it came from and what it achieved in a very stacked fall season, this show fully deserves its place at 2022’s top.

Winner: Bocchi the Rock!

Best OVA/Movie 2022

The same as above, except for the not-regularly-broadcasted offerings. These aren’t covered very often on the site, but we’ve each had the pleasure of watching enough to find some that really caught our eyes.

Pancakes: In hindsight it seems ironic that SAO would be taking an AOTY award, but there’s no denying that SAO Progressive delivered the goods and is arguably what this (in)famous isekai progenitor was aiming for all along. Combining the always excellent animation of a movie production with the part of the franchise many fans love the most, SAO Progressive gave both the introductory story of Asuna (without major Kirito involvement to boot) and a better glimpse into the sword of SAO itself. The fear, the raw emotion, hell the actual sense that this is a literal video game death world: all aspects which made SAO popular were present and benefitted heavily by focusing only on and fleshing out the events of SAO’s first couple of episodes. It’s ultimately this major step up in quality and hearkening back to the fun parts of SAO which led to SAO Progressive receiving the crown, because honestly any movie which can tempt you to watch SAO’s divisive first season again deserves some major kudos for a job well done. Just have to hope the sequel can match what this one accomplished.

Winner: Sword Art Online: Progressive – Hoshi Naki Yoru no Aria

Reader’s Choice – Favorite Anime 2022

Your choice for 2022. With everyone allowed to pick up to five series, we have a pretty nice spread of results. In exchange for finding out if there was one series that everyone would’ve picked with a single vote, we have a much better idea of the other ones you enjoyed. The top choice was close yet still pretty unquestionable though, since it was good enough to make it into the majority of your top 5 picks.

The Top 5:
SPY x FAMILY – 8.77%
BOCCHI THE ROCK! – 7.14%
Chainsaw Man – 6.53%
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners – 5.05%
86 -Eighty Six- Second Season – 4.95%
Here are the full results.

Reader’s Choice – Favorite OVA/Movie 2022

Your OVA/Movie choice of 2022. As mentioned in the disclaimer above, the choices here were restricted to what’s been released on BD/DVD so that viewers outside of Japan have a chance of watching them and making an informed decision. It didn’t make sense to restrict such offerings to a small pool of voters this year and not have it up it for consideration in 2022, so if you wanted to vote for anything that premiered in theaters, you’ll get your chance next year!

The Top 5:
Boku no Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission – 9.35%
Sword Art Online: Progressive – Hoshi Naki Yoru no Aria – 9.35%
Belle – 6.47%
Fate/Grand Order: Final Singularity – The Grand Temple of Time: Solomon – 6.47%
Violet Evergarden: Pour Mémoire (Recollections) – 6.47%
Here are the full results.


25 Comments

  1. As expected, Bocchi sweeping end of years award everywhere. Really, the other shows were all known quantities, while Bocchi surprised at every step. Clearly the best this year had to offer in the terms you set.

    HikariAi
    1. Yupp, it was basically that massive jump between expectations heading in and what we got that made it the winner. Its exploration, its lack of filler, and the sheer fun of its characters and avant garde scenes were amazing and wholly unexpected.

      I think for a similar show the closest example in terms of surprise was Kemono Friends. That one too came out of nowhere and while rougher around the edges was a very fun ride.

  2. I’ve been reading RandomC’s best of anime posts for over 12 years now, never have I been as shocked by a choice as I was by Denji. That left me speechless. He’s, alongside Power, the worst-written character I’ve watched in a long, long time. He’s a parody of a parody. My leftover soup has more depth than both of them combined. I MUST be missing something here.

    Blitz
    1. The two responses I got for putting Denji up there honestly hurts. I figured people would be on-board with the choice considering how popular CSM was and how he was one of the few male protags out there who stood out this year.

      My write-up has my explanation for why I selected him, so the general confusion and/or disgust for the choice feels confusing to me.

      Aside from Denji, Bojji and Loid are the only two contenders who I felt I could write anything more than “Eh, he’s the main guy, I guess, and the show was great, I guess, so it must be because he’s the MC, I guess”.

      I guess Daniel or Shinpei could have qualified if I watched their shows, but I doubt those shows were great because those were the main characters we were given. The uncle from Uncle Isekai could’ve been up there if it didn’t feel like I was rewarding the show for putting its production company through hell.

      But if anyone likes the idea of crowd-voting underneath one of my December 2023 posts on my choices, I can accept that if it means not getting chewed out for my opinion.

      Choya
      1. It’s not disgust or outrage, it’s more like confusion. My main, MAIN issue with CSM was how bad the two central characters were. I honestly couldn’t believe how poorly written those two characters were when I started watching the show. It seemed like a bad attempt at a parody. So, seeing him winning character of the year was the most shocking thing I’ve seen in a while, and I’ve seen Everton draw City at the Etihad, so that’s saying something.

        Blitz
      2. 100% agree with your Denji pick, I just didn’t feel the need to articulate it. Even if I didn’t agree, I would respect any pick with understandable reasoning provided, which the pick in question has.

        No need to concern oneself about being called out by a vocal minority when you have the approval of the silent majority… the Internet in a nutshell really

        That said, getting community voting for the categories (as an addition to staff picks) would be cool

        grayne
  3. If you moved The Witch from Mercury to 2023, you better give it the deserved awards in bunch of categories next year, together with Kage no Jitsu – these two plus Spy X Family practically saved 2022 for me.

    Aizen
    1. If Witch from Mercury’s second season plays out as expected I wouldn’t worry on it winning a category or two, that’s basically ordained haha. Similar case with Eminence in Shadow, it’s proven far better than I originally pinned it for.

  4. Although I disagree with some choices, I’m still thankful for the staffs that created the poll and the yearly Best of Anime. You guys rocks and cheers for another year of RandomC!

    Some Dude
  5. Kinda weird seeing everyone gushing over Made in Abyss S2. I feel like I spent 90% of the time being confused and dumbfounded with stuffs that are happening, so any emotional moments feel unearned.

    wrongone
  6. As always there’s about one popular show each year I didn’t watch. This year it is Bocchi the Rock. I’ll be sure to add it to my backlog.

    If there’s a complaint I have with this years best of anime (other than Denji taking best male, I agree with Blitz here), it’s that Mob Psycho was not given a honourable mentions for it’s OP and EDs. Both songs are great and the animation is spectacular to boot.

    Shrubbery
  7. Looks like its time to dip my toes in Bocchi and check it out. Looks Made in Abyss didn’t impact people as much it impacted me, also glad to see SpyXFamily at the top this year.

    My thanks to the writers for putting in time to write out their insight into each categories and their takes on it as well.

    Flappy
  8. I could not believe Kotarou wa Hitorigurashi was even mentioned. This Netflix series was underrated and I wished more people would see it and talk about it. Easily dismissed as a slice of life and the cliche fluffiness – it is so realistic and morally disturbing at its revelations. I put this up there as Grave of the Fireflies that gave me such an impact but will never psychologically wish to watch it again.

    Bakanekokun
  9. this post should be pinned on the homepage for at least a week or so, i almost missed it.

    RC really shines on these types of posts (best of’s, season previews, etc), i’d go as far as to call it RC’s unique selling point.

    just a shame for such great posts and all the team’s hard work to be missed because the post is buried in a side-menu!

    great work as always and thanks to the whole team.

    lebleu
    1. We actually did haha, it was pinned to the homepage for just over two weeks – you likely just missed it!

      Thanks for the heads up regarding that though; good layout was never my strong suit so it’s given me something to look at and improve so these posts are easy to find.

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