Happy New Year, everyone! 2022 has brought us inflation so high, it’ll melt a hole through your bank account. Don’t worry, it’ll match the hole that’s being burned into the Earth as global warming continues. We know times are tough for many of you but we hope that you continue to stay as happy as can be and healthy as we roll into the deep winter months. As always thanks for being a part of our fan base and reading/listening to what we put together. It really means a lot to us. Enjoy our awards for 2022!
|Scott – Red Awards|
|Best of 2022||Do It Yourself!!|
Good animation, an interesting concept, fun characters, and an extremely catchy opening theme come together to put this show at the top of the list. It may be yet another in a long list of “cute girls doing club activities” shows, but a good execution has always been more important than a unique concept and Do It Yourself!! nails it. It doesn’t hurt that the girls are quite focused on their club activities, and the show goes into a good amount of detail on some of the projects.
|Most Pleasant Surprise of 2022||Lycoris Recoil|
I was completely blown away by how good Lycoris Recoil was, and it honestly could just as easily sit in the Best spot. The lead heroine is the most fun main character I’ve seen in a long time, and the show is excellently put together. Rock-solid action sequences, funny comedy, and serious moments are blended together perfectly. It also has the best ending theme of any show this season. If you’re feeling like there haven’t been enough shows involving running gun battles and cute girls, then check this one out.
|Worst of 2022||Tokyo 24-ku|
While our end of cour podcast goes into all the gory details, nothing has come close since to unseating Tokyo 24-ku from being the worst show I’ve seen this year. From a promising and perfectly executed first episode, the show pitches down wildly, slams into the ground, and spends the rest of the season plowing a deep furrow in the earth. Awful.
|Most Disappointing of 2022||Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury|
Oh boy, the first female lead in the Gundam franchise! Aaaaand she’s awful. It isn’t entirely her fault though, the setting, pacing, tone, characters, and plot are also somewhere between underwhelming and pathetic. With Tokyo 24-ku at least I was able to laugh at how bad it was. With this show, I dread watching every episode. Wait, this is only half of it?! Nooooooo…
|Best Opening Theme Song||Ya Boy Kongming!|
The opening theme is so good you guys. I thoroughly recommend just going to watch the OP right now, and see if it isn’t incredibly catchy. The show it’s introducing is also great, between Kongming’s strategems, Eiko’s earnest singing, and the cutthroat competition to be the best new musical group in Japan. The show puts in a surprising amount of work to tie Kongming’s present-day plans to his historical stratagems, which I appreciate all the more because I feel like most shows wouldn’t even bother.
|Most Beautiful Animation||Princess Connect! Re:Dive Season 2|
Man you gotta love that Cygames money.
|Best Concept and Execution||Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department|
Office workers doing R&D to make monsters for Rita Repulsa? Amazing concept. But the execution also being solid? Very impressive and most unexpected. The show may have had a few wobbles towards the end, and some comedy bits that didn’t hit, but the creators’ love for local heroes really shines through, and the office comedy they’ve created is quite enjoyable.
|Most Helpful Explanations in a Hobby Show||Slow Loop|
There aren’t a lot of hobby shows that spend this much time explaining their craft. Slow Loop, about Western-style fly fishing, devotes a surprising amount of runtime to it. How to cast, what to do in different situations when fishing, even a really detailed segment on how to tie flies. It’s all the more impressive considering the show also has time for cooking and even some relatively serious family drama. Overall, the show is quite cozy and a good watch.
|Most Exciting Sequel||Machikado Mazoku 2-Choume|
The show moves at full speed from the word go, sometimes almost too quickly in the first few episodes. But its energy and sense of fun are infectious. The show is always giving you something new about the world and its quirky inhabitants, and I left the show just as excited to watch more as I came in.
|Least Exciting Sequel||Hataraku Maou-sama!!|
It’s not that the second season of Hataraku Maou-sama is bad by any stretch. It just doesn’t have the magic of the first season. Maybe it’s because the focus on the characters surviving on minimum wage jobs, which was the core comedy focus of the first season, is almost nowhere in evidence here. Instead, the characters go on trips to different locations and do odd jobs while there, and it just… didn’t grab me. It’s a shame after how much I was looking forward to more after the first season.
|Best Series Recovery||Utawarerumono Futari no Hakuoro|
Considering how abysmally bad and unfocused the second season of Utawarerumono was, this third and final season comes as a pleasant surprise. Having an actual objective to accomplish rather than just wasting time in some city makes a big difference to pacing and my interest. This season isn’t going to win any awards, but it is at least competently made.
|Best Usage of Peanuts||SPY x FAMILY|
There are many, many things I could say to recommend SPY X FAMILY – the well-executed comedy, the great characters, the really well-imagined and unusual (for anime) setting. But really, the thing that has stuck with me the most is Anya’s love of OISHII brand peanuts, and many a day will find me saying “Anya Peanuts!” when I see a food I like. The show is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
|Most Pandering to the Male Gaze||Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru & Yofukashi no Uta|
Some shows, more than others, have an obvious pitch to one gender over another. The real surprise this year is that the winners of this coveted award aren’t isekais. Between the revealing and varied cosplay outfits from Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru and the skimpy, frankly ridiculous costume from Yofukashi no Uta’s vampire girl, the industry is showing innovation in the field of pandering that has been sorely lacking in this isekai-saturated market. Also both shows are actually quite good and in different ways, so come for the skimp and stay for the plot.
|Most Surprising Existence||Urusei Yatsura (2022)|
I don’t know if anyone was asking for a remake of the venerable Urusei Yatsura, but here it is… and it’s pretty good! It’s interesting to see a show like this made in modern times, because the characters and comedy have not been updated one bit, and honestly? It’s kind of nice to see something funny that’s so clearly different from the current shows coming out. Also the opening theme is dangerously catchy, so watch out for that.
|The Cutest||Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru|
There’s a lot of cute in anime, but boy does Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru seize the top spot. Watching our heroine try to fluster the boy she likes and every time get adorably flustered in return by his straightforward answers never gets old. It helps that the show doesn’t just hammer the same note over and over, but varies the setup, and also that there is progress between the two that is very cute to watch. If you’re lacking in Vitamin Doki Doki, this is the show for you.
|Su – Green Awards|
|Best of 2022||Summertime Render|
It’s amazing what anime can accomplish when the source material is solid. Summertime Render was an already finished manga when this show came around. What you get from this production is a solid thriller with slick action, great characters, and no damn filler. The story is engaging, the time mechanic is interesting to ponder, and wow is it nice to see smart characters maneuvering their way around a smart villain. I was on the edge of my seat every week for each episode. The ending is very touching and the best part is that this 25 episode show is a complete story. I could recommend this to someone and not have to say, “You’ll have to read the manga afterwards to get the REAL story or see what happens next”. It wins my top spot and I can only hope more anime gets made with some already established source material so we get less made up nonsense or filler.
|Most Pleasant Surprise of 2022||Hakozume: Kouban Joshi no Gyakushuu|
So there I was…cruising along on Livechart and I’m like, “girls in school clubs, stupid as hell isekai nonsense, that relationship doesn’t seem consensual…
Huh? A show about two police ladies doing their day-to-day work. This could be interesting or it could be a disaster. What do you know it ended up being my favorite show of that season. I loved watching Mai and Seiko tackle their everyday tasks with no skill and hella skill respectively. I loved the dry humor and the silly antics. I felt like all the characters were fun and I adored the deep reverence they all have for Police Dog-sama even though he leads them nowhere. I just had a great time with this show overall and would love to see more of it. There were certainly gags in the show that I felt were inappropriate and could be fixed. Overall though, it was such a breath of fresh air in a medium that’s filled with all the other pollution I mentioned in the beginning of the paragraph.
|Worst of 2022||Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch of Mercury|
I’m not blood boilingly angry at this show but I am smart enough to realize it’s very bad. The show has poorly written characters, a plot that’s juggling way too much so it just rams things together, and just all around nonsense all the time. The school setting doesn’t help things as this show feels like just another BS high school anime with robots. The stuttering lead female character kills any excitement one might have had about having a main female pilot for the first time ever, and ultimately this show just makes me feel tired when I watch it. I’m unclear how this iteration was ever supposed to get a new wave of young people interested in Gundam.
|Most Disappointing of 2022||Yurei Deco & The Deer King|
It was such a fight between these two that I just couldn’t come to a final singular winner. Both of these disappointed me so dang much because of the pedigree they came from. I associate Science Saru with quality. Eizouken was out of this world incredible and Heike Monogatori was both beautiful and hauntingly sad. Yurei Deco is simply not at this quality. It’s a shallow story about the dangers of virtual reality that never takes the matter seriously enough to say anything of value (watch Dennou Coil if you are hoping for something in that vein). Its wacky cast of characters are batted around in a series of vignettes as the show meanders around with as much care as its uppity main character. There’s a whisper of a plot in here but the exposition heavy ending silences it for good and left me agitated I had wasted my time on show.
I love Nahoko Uehashi and I think her work has brought forth two of the best shows anime has to offer (Beast Player Erin and Seirei no Moribito). The Deer King wants to be great. The movie has all the markings of Uehashi’s work with its interesting worldbuilding, its complicated conflicts, and a rich cast of characters. As with many anime movies though, the plot is bloated and messy. The movie’s strongest moments are the father/adopted daughter elements and those are buried under a mountain of other scenes which were screaming for this to be a TV show. None of the themes came through and the third act of the film is a gigantic tumble into hot mess. It almost undoes ANY of the good things I’d have to say about this movie. Utterly disappointing.
|Most Fun Concept for an Anime in 2022||Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department|
Miss Kuroitsu doesn’t have the strongest art direction, but it does have the biggest heart. Its writers clearly love Tokusatsu shows and as someone who loved Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, this gave me all the warm fuzzies. The show fuses the grind of modern day corporations with the creation of the wacky “monster of the day” that we all grew up loving. Its eclectic cast made me genuinely laugh (a chicken with a hand gun!) and it features the best corporate boss ever. The show is a good satire of other genres like magical girl, and the difficulties our protagonists (antagonists?) face getting work through an incompetent committee felt synonymous to real life many a time. If you missed out on this little gem, you really should go back and check it out.
|Best Anime portrayal of my husband||Bocchi the Rock!|
When I read the description for Bocchi the Rock! on Livechart I immediately called my husband over and was like, “Look! She’s YOU!”. Turns out that was 100% true. Hitori Gotoh is very much my husband if he was a cute pink haired anime girl. He has her deep feelings of introversion and while he doesn’t melt into a puddle of goo or hide in a mango box all the time, he genuinely connected with Gotoh’s inner monologue about the difficulties that come with external interactions. The show also captured his love of music and the difficulties of wanting to be hella famous while also having introversion so deep you just want to stay in a dark closet. Heck, they both even have a Youtube Channel! Wildly varying art style changes throughout the show, some stellar writing and characterization along with some cool tunes make this show worth watching. Definitely check my hubby (and this show) out!
|Most Wholesome Fun||Do It Yourself!!|
Do It Yourself! is like being given a hot cup of tea and wrapped in a warm blanket. After your tea you can use the band saw and power drill. This show is so calming, and lovingly crafted. It invites you into its quietly futuristic world with its caring cast of characters and you come out of every episode feeling soothed. There’s also a powerful lesson to be taken away from the show without it ever once preaching to you. It’s a beautiful thing to make something with your own two hands. It brings people together and it teaches you a whole new set of skills. This show is a miracle in a medium clogged with shows just like this, and if you only watch one show ever where “Cute girls in a high school club do stuff”, make it this one.
|Most Slick Visuals & Solid Beats||Ya Boy Kongming!|
I mean…have you SEEN DAT INTRO?!?!? This show is a P.A. Works production so it was bound to be gorgeous but man…it really is good looking. In addition to that it has some great songs. The staff knew that music was the heart and soul of this premise and they delivered. Kongming has beautifully rendered visuals, lighting and colors that just pop. It’s like pop rocks but for your eyes (better buy some of those bitchin’ glasses from Donki). There’s a heavy emphasis on jazz and rap in this show (both of which have ethnically Black origins) so it was awesome to see this uncommon musical choice be made. Guaranteed you’ll love what you see and hear in Ya Boy Kongming!
|The “ACTUAL” best show of 2022||Birdie Wing: A Golf Girls’ Story|
Okay…listen up. Birdie Wing is incredible. I am unapologetically in love with this show and full onboard with its brand of crazy. There’s underground golf duels in a secret base where the floor can change the course at the whims of psycho rich bitch. There’s a snake lady whose pheromones throw people off their A-game. There’s GOLF MAFIA. There’s a guy with a rocket launcher taking out a limo. There’s a battle to save the young lives of some orphans. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT ORPHANS.
I don’t care what anyone else told you. This show is off the rails in the best possible way and its incredibly 90’s sega game opener “Venus Line” is the icing on the cake. The show leaves off in a school setting wherein more crazy people have more stupid golf powers. Season 2 is coming this Spring. I am so flippin’ excited for it.
|Su’s JPop Playlist of 2022*||“Akuma no Ko (悪魔の子)” by Ai Higuchi (ED – Attack on Titan: The Final Part 2)|
“Special Force” by AXXX1S” (OP – Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department)
“Shiranakya (知らなきゃ)” by Riko Azuna (OP – Hakozume: Kouban Joshi no Gyakushuu)
“Change” by nonoc (ED – Hakozume: Kouban Joshi no Gyakushuu)
“Ciki Ciki Bam Bam (チキチキバンバン)” by QUEENDOM (hibiki and moka from lol, Akina and Taki from FAKY, and Maria Kaneya from GENIC)” (OP – Ya Boy Kongming!)
“Be Crazy For Me” by 96Neko (Insert Song – Ya Boy Kongming!)
“Shitsuren Song Takusan Kiite Naite Bakari no Watashi wa Mou (失恋ソング沢山聴いて 泣いてばかりの私はもう.)” by Riria (OP2 – Summertime Render)
“Venus Line” by Koumi Hirose (OP – Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story)
“Yodaka (ヨダカ)” by Tsukiyomi (月詠み) (ED – Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story)
“Dokidoki Idea wo Yoroshiku! (どきどきアイデアをよろしく！)” by Katajou DIY-bu!! (潟女DIY部!!) (OP – Do It Yourself!)
*All song titles and artist’s names were taken from MyAnimeList
|Dan – Blue Awards|
|Best of 2022||Chainsaw Man|
This year saw a bunch of really great anime premiers, so this was a really challenging pick. Yet even though it has a few episodes left to go as of this writing, I have to give it up to Chainsaw Man for its intense action, compelling characters, and surprising story. The writing and pacing is so sharp that I’m always looking forward to seeing what happens next, and the story is unpredictable without ever feeling contrived. If you can handle its sometimes-crude humor and buckets of the old ultra-violence, this show is absolutely worth your time.
|Most Pleasant Surprise of 2022||Chainsaw Man|
Contrary to what my first pick might have you believe; I was seriously considering skipping over Chainsaw Man entirely based on what little I knew about it in the lead-up to its anime debut. I’m not generally a fan of splatter-violence shows, and by rights I shouldn’t be able to stand either Denji or Power as central characters, but the show’s surprisingly contemplative and thoughtful writing grabbed me. Worth checking out in case it’s been hovering on the edge of your radar.
|Worst of 2022||The Case Study of Vanitas (Season 2)|
I decided to watch Vanitas on a whim and found it a fun through the first season. It was bonkers and messy, but loud and proud about what it was, and that enthusiasm helped push it forward. The second season absolutely sank that enthusiasm, dragging on with a plotline I couldn’t get invested in and pushing relationships between characters in directions that felt forced. Worse, it ended with the introduction of a villain whose every line made me twitch with annoyance. It took a fun, quirky show and made it a miserable chore to watch.
|Most Disappointing of 2022||Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury|
This is another early call, and one I’m sad to have to make, since we chose it as our final Rolling Review for 2022. While I was disappointed by Vanitas, it was only a charming oddity for me from the start, so I wasn’t too let down when the second season was lacking. Gundam, though? I love giant robots. I love Revolutionary Girl Utena, which this show borrows from greedily. I love absurd duels over petty nonsense. But The Witch from Mercury has just been failing to live up to its potential, and I just can’t take it as seriously as it takes itself. The show is far from awful, but it’s just not something I can recommend in its current state.
|Best Ending Theme(s)||Chainsaw Man|
Picking up a rare third award, Chainsaw Man’s constantly-changing ending theme songs are always a treat after a stressful episode. Each one is excellent, complementing the events preceding it and providing a stylish interlude. The whole production of the show is top-notch, but the music is a particular joy.
Edgerunners is awesome on its own merits, but also a brilliant adaptation of the tabletop/video game world of Cyberpunk into its own, unique anime format. Studio Trigger has had some ups and downs in my eyes these last few years, but this show demonstrates their talent and visual storytelling chops like nothing else out there. It nails the weird mix of 1980s and modern design sensibilities that gives US-centric cyberpunk its particular vibe, and embraces bold colors and strong music choices to enhance its presentation. It can be a bit jarring and crudely sexual at times, but if you can accept or look past that, it’s absolutely worth a watch.
|Brendan – Beige Awards|
|Best of 2022||Akebi’s Sailor Uniform|
There were several shows I liked this season, but this was the one I loved. For all that Akebi’s and her classmates’ feet feel unnecessarily prominent, those shots are a component of the show’s overall relaxing vibe of comfortable familiarity. Could this have been accomplished in a less overt way? Probably – the anime does dial them back as the show goes on, leaving even more room for heartwarming friendship and familial affection. OP is great and ED is ::chef’s kiss::
|Most Pleasant Surprise of 2022||Bocchi the Rock!|
I’m still not entirely convinced that this one isn’t supposed to just be Bocchi’s Rock, based on the context of the title drop and how it’s spoken in Japanese, but I can work with it. Went in expecting bog standard cute girls doing cute things and found that the staff had gone above and beyond in crafting both immersively realistic performance scenes and delightfully surreal breaks from reality to be evocative of the main character’s severe social anxiety. We are indeed winning, fellow diners.
(I know what she actually says in that shot is a gag that doesn’t translate – let me have this)
|Worst of 2022||Tokyo 24th Ward|
They tried, bless ’em.
|Most Disappointing of 2022||Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer|
After hearing this manga talked up, I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about. I’ve watched shows animated on shoestrings before, but something about the plot, characters, tone(s), pacing, etc. just didn’t click. Maybe we’re seeing more adaptation decay than usual and I’ll just have to read the source material.
|Hardest 180||Do It Yourself!!|
This was easily the show I was most looking forward to in the fall, and it only took 90 seconds to touch a nerve causing me to kick it all the way off of my watch list. I don’t care if one has crippling ADD, and I don’t care if the other is a tsundere – I don’t have time to listen to the main protagonist disrespect her friend by using an old nickname after having been specifically requested to stop.
A E S T H E T I C
|Call of the Night|
The ambience is by no means the only thing to enjoy about this show (adapted from a manga that was inspired by the song used for the ED, if rumor is to be believed), but it is perhaps the most unique aspect. The sprawling starscapes that blanket the sporadically-lit city are beautiful, and the chill hip-hop beats complement them well.
|Most Yikes||Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun|
|Most Relatable Character||Watson – Yurei Deco|
It probably has a lot to do with the expressionless cat mask and the fact that he doesn’t talk (which makes him partially a blank slate and partially aspirational), but I love watching this huge mustachioed dude hang out at the fringe of a diverse group of plucky go-getters and occasionally contribute in his own way.
|Most Undeserved Mental Association||Slow Loop|
I can’t listen to cider metaphors in EDs anymore without thinking of Wonder Egg Priority, which is not the kind of mental weight a chill show about step-sisters and fly fishing needs.
|Longest Episode Titles||Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department|
Listening to the Next Time On narration get cut off – to the degree that the character(?) eventually stops trying – will never not be funny.
|Most Ambitious / Memorable First Episode||Akiba Maid War|
To my great shame, I have not found the time to keep up with this show (I’ve spent too long trying to figure out if anyone else wants to come along for the ride), but the premiere alone is such a spectacle that it has a special place in my heart. I almost feel like the OP gives too much of the game away, but the anachronistic ED serves as a deeply amusing capstone.