And you know what that means! It’s time to have a look back at the previous year and talk about all the anime that came out that we enjoyed. It’s a good moment to look back at the opening themes of some of your favorites and even remember shows you might have forgotten about a little bit. I didn’t watch nearly as many shows as some other years but it was still very hard for me to make a top 10. Even as of writing this introduction I’m looking at the list and I’m probably going to adjust some of the shows’ place on the list. This is a top 10 of my favorite shows so genres I particularly enjoy will be higher up than they might be on other people’s lists. The ranking is fairly loose and in a week from now I might think that the order should be different, but at least these shows are the 10 that I think everyone should watch. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the list, starting with number 10.
10. Lycoris Recoil
Without a doubt, hearing an opening theme performed by ClariS brings me back several years in life to when they were a lot more common. At least in my experience they were. Their bubblegum style of music can be grating at times but when it works, it works incredibly well. Lycoris Recoil tells the story of a young woman named Chisato. She works as a sort of stealth force peacekeeper while using a small cafe as a cover. Her organization is part of a much bigger organization of young women who all fight crime behind the scenes. The world is at peace and crime rates are the lowest they’ve ever been. Of course, a perfect world doesn’t exist and problems are bubbling below the surface. Chisato and her partner Takina get embroiled in a large-scale terror attack led by a man who brings up a decent argument for his anger towards society. In the midst of this chaos, Chisato’s heart implant is nearing its best by date and tensions start heating up. This show is a joy to watch from start to finish and is carried by its character writing. There is also a very interesting villain towards the end of the story but I’ll leave that to its own blogpost in the future. This show competed with several of the honorable mentions for this number 10 spot, but it won out in the end, go give it a watch.
9. My Dress-up Darling
This cute little show about cosplay aired at the start of the year and I had almost forgotten it even aired this year. Time has been weird ever since 2020, so I can be forgiven for thinking it was a show from 2021, right? Marin is a Gyaru, one of the popular girls, who loves to cosplay as a hobby. She’s not very good at creating costumes though. That’s where Wakana comes in. A bit of a loner who loves making traditional dolls and sewing the clothes for these dolls. The perfect target for Marin to convert to her cosplay hobby. The two set out to make cosplays for Marin and a bunch of fun and early onset romance ensues. Marin steals the show in this anime and although Wakana is a functional character on his own, her positivity and endless love for her hobby is what makes this show as great as it is. I believe it’s getting a sequel this year, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do so. Some of the shows on my top 10 are definitely not for everyone, but this one I think will entertain a large majority of anime fans for sure.
8. Call of the Night
What if the vampire that Araragi encountered that one fateful night wasn’t a gorgeous yet violent psychopath but instead a socially inept young woman. Yamori Ko explores that possibility. Being fed up with middle school life, bored by what’s going on around him, he decides to step outside his house one night and quickly becomes enamored by the atmosphere he finds himself surrounded in. Life moves at a different pace at night and he feels much more at home. He then encounters Nazuna, a young vampire, who shows him around with the goal of sucking his blood. Instead of being scared of the vampire, Ko embraces the idea of becoming a permanent resident of the night. Unfortunately for Ko, to become a vampire himself he would have to first fall in love with the vampire that sucks his blood. As a young teenager, love isn’t something he’s all that familiar with but he’s determined to make it work. I’ll be honest, the first few episodes of Call of the Night serve as a perfectly fine introduction to the setting and show off the gorgeous color palette that the show works with, but it does get a little bit boring. It’s not until several of the other characters are introduced where the show really picks up. Call of the Night is weird and nonsensical yet also vibrant and compelling. And to wrap it all in a nice little package, the opening and ending themes for this anime are ‘Daten’ and ‘Yofukashi no Uta’ by the band Creepy Nuts. The title of the manga in Japanese is Yofukashi no Uta and it was actually named after the song with permission from Creepy Nuts. Using it as the ending to the anime is the perfect full circle we love to see in creative projects like this.
7. Chainsaw Man
I’ve been watching anime for over a decade now, closing in on 15 years in total. That’s almost half my life. In my time watching, there have been very few shows that have been hyped up as much as Chainsaw Man has. A problem with hyping up a show too much is that it sets expectations far too high. If I expect a fun show and it turns out to be a great show, then that’s very cool. If I expect the single best show to have ever been created and instead get just a great show, then that can really hamper your enjoyment of a show. Chainsaw Man for me suffers from this problem a lot. For those of you who didn’t get to watch it, Chainsaw Man tells the story of Denji, who fuses with his pet demon to become a literal chainsaw man. He starts working for a governmental organization that deals with dangerous demon extermination and the story moves from there. Denji, as well as the other major characters in this show, is completely insane. His only goal is to just vibe and maybe cop a feel on the women around him. Morals mean nothing to him and the same can be said for some of the other characters. The animation in this show is great, with the CG being good quality although still jarring when it cuts from animation to CG and back. The characters are fun and the story is completely unpredictable which is definitely fun at times. It’s whacky and over the top but also very real at times with Aki being my favorite character. The latter half of the show is definitely a lot better than the first half and I found myself really enjoying every episode. But even within the season it was airing there were several anime I was looking forward to more each week. A very good show that’s probably already been recommended to you many times. Also, like many of the previous and upcoming entries, has a fantastic opening theme by the extremely talented Kenshi Yonezu.
6. Police in a Pod
This is one of two shows on this list that I think might surprise people. I don’t believe it was particularly popular while it was airing. Police in a Pod tells the story of a young policewoman working with her much more jaded senior. They work at a local police office and do everything from small things to much more serious police work. What makes this series so great to me is the immense tonal shift it can have without ever feeling unbelievable. Some episodes will feature very light material and sometimes even midway through an episode will it suddenly shift to something much more serious. While dealing with the serious issue of sexual assault they’ll manage to make you laugh about how the officers will portray the assault in their attempts to gather insight without ever taking away from the seriousness of the issue at hand. For an anime, this show feels incredibly real and it shows that the author has experience working as a police officer. I can think of more hype shows than this one easily, but none of them have stuck in my mind as much as this one has. Not what you should watch to wind down per se, but a well crafted story that feels very real.
5. Ya boy Kongming
Contrary to number six on this list, Ya boy Kongming definitely enjoyed the popularity it deserved as it was airing. The opening theme by Queendom is easily one of my favorite opening themes of all time. The vibrant animation helps but the track is just amazing. Check it out here because words can’t really do it justice if I’m honest. It follows Chinese advisor Kongming as he gets transported from his deathbed to the middle of a Tokyo nightlife scene. There he meets Eiko, a young woman who is performing at a local bar. Entranced by her voice, he decides to become her strategist and make her famous. The story follows the two as they use his brilliant mind to help her become a star. The music is good, the characters are fun and the strategies are extremely unconventional which makes them fun. The best way to describe this show is to say that a premise this stupid has no right to be this good.
4. Spy x Family
In early 2020 I added a little known manga to my wishlist that was starting to become popular. I never got to buying it though and by the time I considered it again, I’d heard there was an anime in the making. So instead I waited for the anime to air with high hopes. And boy did it deliver. Spy x Family tells the story of the Forger family. Loid Forger, not his real name, is a spy trying to get close to a political leader of the opposing country in a cold war type scenario. To get closer to his target he wants to have a child that makes contact with Desmond’s (the target) child. But he doesn’t have any children. This is where he adopts Anya, a young mind reader from a failed project who is currently in an orphanage. When the two apply for the prestigious school, Eden’s College, they quickly realize that they need both parents so they go and search for a mother figure. This is where they find Yor Briar, who is desperately trying to find a husband as well. Why? Because people are starting to ask questions about her lifestyle and she’s trying to avoid them finding out she’s a coldblooded assassin. Yor is voiced by the wonderful Saori Hayami whose voice I could listen to all day, so that’s a big bonus as well.
The story follows their shenanigans and as of the first two cours has been fun from start to finish. Both openings and endings are fantastic with the second opening Souvenir by Bump of Chicken being one of my favorite Japanese songs to come out of 2022. Everything on this list comes highly recommended, but this one is just such good fun that everyone should give it a try at least once. But I’m sure most of you already have, it was highly popular.
3. Summertime Rendering
I wasn’t quite sure which show to put in second place and which show to put in third place. Recency bias won out in the end which is why Summertime Rendering is in the third spot and not the second spot, but just know that it was a hard call to make. Shinpei returns to the island he grew up on after his childhood friend Ushio passed away in a drowning accident. Very quickly after he reaches the island he experiences a feeling of deja vu. As time goes on, mysteries stack up and there is something brewing on the island that is more dangerous than it seems.
Summertime Rendering is here to deliver a compelling action/mystery story that hits all the right notes. The action is cool, the mystery is compelling and the characters are well written. Never does it overstay its welcome, never does it bore you and it has a satisfying conclusion. If I had one complaint about this anime is that it had to end after only 24 episodes. But that does also mean that it covered the entire story from start to finish with nothing being too rushed or stretched out. What an absolute joy of an anime.
2. Bibliophile Princess
I will immediately admit that this show probably isn’t for everyone. Bibliophile princess tells the story of Eliana Bernstein, betrothed to Prince Christopher. She’s named the Mushikaburi-hime by the people of the palace because the only reason she’s engaged to the prince is so she has free access to the royal archives. She loves books more than anything in the world and doesn’t have much interest in the people around her. At least that’s how it seems on the surface. The reality is that Eliana has long since fallen for the charming prince, even if she herself hasn’t fully realized it yet. But when the series starts, the prince seems to be interested in another woman. Not only that, things around her start going wrong. The prince has less time to spend with her, a ladder breaks and she’s no longer allowed in the library for the time being. Whenever she wants to help or be involved with something she’s more or less brushed off to the side and things are starting to look pretty bad for her. Is it finally time for the prince to get bored with her and find a new fiance? The show follows the romance between the two and watches as Eliana grows as a character until she can show her worth to everyone around her. Of course, some people were already well aware of how smart and wise she was. The romantic aspect of the story just warms my heart and this show is a total guilty pleasure. I enjoyed every single second that I was watching it and I’m really sad it’s over. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like there is an English manga available, at least not a physical edition, so we’ll have to wait on that.
1. Ranking of Kings
Where I had to think a lot to figure out most of this list, I never for a second had to worry about which show I would put at rank 1. Before any of these shows even started, before the year even started, the best anime was already decided. Since it hadn’t finished airing yet, I couldn’t include it in my list for 2021, but that set the bar extremely high for this year and unfortunately, in my opinion, no show cleared the bar. And that’s why in the number one spot we have the fantasy anime Ranking of Kings. Bojji is a young prince who can neither hear nor talk. Not only that, he’s also incredibly weak. When his father dies and his younger brother becomes the next king he goes on an adventure. The world of Ousama Ranking looks like a fairy tale and the characters are fun, although a lot of them might be a bit one dimensional. What really ties this show together is the music. The openings, endings and OST are all fantastic and I discovered two great artists, Yama & King Gnu, through this anime. Kage is also voiced by the wonderfully talented and endlessly funny Sungwon Cho (ProZD) which is just a fun tidbit to add. I’ve already talked about this show here so I won’t ramble on forever, but it does seem only fitting that Ranking of Kings is the king of this ranking. (I’m funny like that).
0. Honorable Mentions
I whittled down my list of ten from an initial 22 shows, but after being left with 15 shows it was really hard to bring it down even further. I’ll quickly talk about the five remaining shows that didn’t quite make the list but are worth your time. For starters, the sequels to Komi-San and Made in Abyss were both great. I really want to buy the Komi-San manga at some point and those of you who followed along with my weekly episode recaps for Made in Abyss know that I’ve already read the manga for that one. I think the anime really improved the interesting but chaotic story the manga told and the music by Kevin Penkin was fantastic, as it always is. I saw on twitter the other day that he’s been working on the main theme for Final Fantasy. That’s pretty cool.
That leaves me with three more shows that were in the running for top ten. First up is Heroines run the show. This one is probably in the same category as Bibliophile Princess where it’s a guilty pleasure to me. I never understood idle shows but watching it from the perspective of their young manager and classmate. She doesn’t much care for idols but slowly warms up to the two guys as the season carries on.
Sabikui Bisco is a fantastic fantasy show about archers that shoot mushrooms that cause a strange disease called rust. At the start it’s as simple as that, there’s giant mechs, villages led by children, a secret police and a badass woman on a motorcycle. As the story unfolds we learn that not everything is as it initially seems and the characters really start to grow on you. Not much more to say then just go watch it. Gives me Dorehedoro vibes in how odd of a show it is, but it’s very different in many other aspects. Both have mushrooms. I don’t know what that means, but I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning to it.
Now last but certainly not least, Love after world domination! Well, technically it’s least since it’s the lowest on this list, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not a good show. Fudo is the red power ranger, I mean gelato and Desumi is part of the evil organization. They’re constantly fighting each other trying to respectively harm and protect the peace. What no one knows is that on the side, the two leaders of their squads are dating. Both characters in this show are extremely likable in my opinion. Their romance is adorable and the hijinx they get up to managed to brighten my day every week. If the premise sounds even a little bit fun to you, then I highly recommend you give it a watch.
And that’s my roundup of last year’s anime. I’m sure there are shows I missed that maybe should be here. I still need to watch the cyberpunk anime, just to name an example. Is there anything you think should be on this list? Feel free to leave a comment. I think 2022 was a pretty good year for anime and I’m excited to see what 2023 will bring us. On that note, as of writing this the first few anime of the season just dropped so I’m going to be watching those now. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!