Narutaki & Hisui VS. The Best of 2016

Welcome to our annual awards post! As always, this posts is mostly to remind us and the readers what was great about this year in anime. 2016 had been . . . well, it has been 2016 . . . but at least it wasn’t a year of bad anime! Consider this a culmination of 2016.

Anime of the Year
(The Shows You Will Actually Remember Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju by Studio Deen Rakugo Theater is not the normal subject of anime. Well, there is Anime Rakugo Kan and Rakugo Girls but you get my point. It is hardly a well-worn topic like baseball or the Sengoku period which get at least one anime a year. But just an obscure topic does not an award-winning anime make. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju has a wealth of unique merits that made so many critics take notice of this show.

It is a rich historical character drama that examines the life of two artists during the time of strife that surrounded the Second World War. It shows the growth of Sukeroku and Kikuhiko as performers and people as their relationship changes over the years. It has a wonderful mixture of drama and comedy with a spectrum of intimacy that ranges between friendship, codependency, love, and lust between the main cast. It has a tremendous range that satisfies the hunger for mature storytelling that so many older fans desire.

This is a show that lives and dies on its voice acting. Since Rakugo is an art from that is a one-person show all the voice actors need an impressive amount of range to effectively portray the characters in the show. It is like as if Orphan Black had to cast several characters with the complexity of Tatiana Maslany’s multitude of characters. That makes this a who’s who of seiyu. They take a strong show and turn it into a master class of acting.

The best part is the framing story that surrounds the story of Sukeroku and Kikuhiko will finally get the continuation that was promised in the beginning with the coming of the second season. If you were disappointed that you did not see more of Yotarou and Konatsu in the first season or just want more Rakugo then you have a lot to look forward to in 2017.

Runner-up:  91 Days by Studio Shuka If you still hungry for mature drama then you can dive into 91 Days to scratch your crime drama itch. This dark tale of revenge sits alongside stories like The Godfather and Goodfellas as compelling stories of the mafia and the corrupting influence of organized crime. At the same time, it is also an operatic tale of revenge and betrayal to give it a little extra layer of interest and complexity.

Avilio Bruno’s quest for revenge is a dark tale that he often masterfully acts as the director of a bloody play of demonic retribution. At the same time, there are no M. Night Shyamalan twists. Everyone (other than Avilio) is pretty much who they say they are and their motivations are all too human. The twists and turns come from the plays and counter plays of the cast and not hidden information. It gave the story much more the feel of a mafioso Count of Monte Cristo than Code Geass with gangsters.

At the same time, some of the character studies with Nero and Corteo add an extra amount of gravitas and depth to what could otherwise have been a more straightforward vengeance. Avilio growing friendship with Nero completes his feelings and adds the few points of doubt in the series. Corteo, on the other hand, is a man torn between loyalty and self-preservation while acting as a barometer of Avilio’s waning humanity.

But at its heart it examines two classic quotes He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster” and Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” In a way you know where an examination of these ideas will lead but the meditation is all about the journey to that conclusion.

narutaki_icon_4040_round JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable by David Production When I look back on 2016, a year of serious business like no other, I felt lucky to have a new episode of JoJo’s to look forward to for nearly the entire year. Morioh with its eccentric and crazy residents were always a welcome sight.

Josuke is charming from the beginning and ended up my favorite JoJo aside from Joseph so far. He has the right amount of humor, heart, and toughness which carries the story as the secrets of the town are revealed. Once they are revealed and the entire cast has come together, we end up with a strong group who each have their own stories to tell. At times Koichi, Rohan, and others get so much focus as to push Josuke into the background, and he doesn’t constantly show up to save the day or steal their thunder which is a welcome relief. Josuke comes back around to front and center in the end, and does what all JoJo’s must: out think the villain.

Original creator Araki thus far has been very good at endings and Part 4 is no exception. It satisfied me in ways I was not expecting and of course it had some of that signature “this is not how you thought it would go”-style, too. Everything really comes together and sends off the series with heart and a final laugh.

Runner-up: Yuri!!! On Ice by MAPPA A phenomenon far and wide, Yuri!!! On Ice gave us life and love. And competitive figure skating. Talented, but down, Yuri is ready to drop-out of the world of skating until a new coach and a new rival revitalize his spirits.

The competitive spirit and the mental fortitude needed for solo sports was on full display through each of the characters great or small in the series. Because each of the characters is going through similar things it really drives home the ideas and themes of the show. At the same time, none of the characters is going through it in the same way as the series plays with a wide range of personalities.

And then there is the romance between Yuri and Victor which is not subtext, or a nice tease of fan-service, but a pursued relationship. It is romantic and awkward and unexpected and lovely.

BONUS: Thunderbolt Fantasy by Pili International Multimedia It is too unique, too unexpected for me to not put it here. Is it anime? Yes? I think so.

Anime Woman of the Year
(The Leading Ladies of Anime Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round  Atra Mixta from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans I just wanted to remind every one of Atra as this year comes to a close. Although she has become more of a background character alongside Kudelia in the first half of the second season it should not take away from the fact that Atra proves her worth several times over in the first season of Iron-Blooded Orphans.

It would have been very easy for Atra to fall into the mold of Fraw Bow or Shirley Fenette but she takes from the childhood friend archetype and heads out on her own path making her an interesting character to watch. She avoid either becoming wholly the warrior woman or the domestic goddess but instead finds her own role that takes from both paths but is not really either.

This second season has but a greater emphasis on trails and tribulations of the child soldiers now that they from being complete slaves to pawns with independence. But she is still around and it is clear that she will be instrumental in the end. I look forward to how she factors into the conclusion of the series next year.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Miyano from Tanaka-kun is Always Listless A short, energetic girl who wants to be a good friend and a good apprentice. Half the fun of Miyano is seeing what kinds of faces she’ll make, the other half is her sincere, and a little awkward, attempts at getting closer to understanding those around her.

Anime Man of the Year
(The Manly Passion Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Josuke Higashikata from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable Josuke has always been my favorite Jojo. He has the charm and wit of young Joseph Joestar, the honor and dignity of Jonathan Joestar, mixed with the delinquent nature of Jotaro Kujo. He takes the best parts of the last three heroes while combining them in a way that still allows him to be his own character.

It would easy to blend into the background with characters like Jotaro and Rohan eating up the scenery in every scene they are in. You need someone who is just as fierce, inventive, and uniquely charismatic to stand toe to toe with those giants. Josuke is able to hang tough and earn his place as the main character of the Part 4 while still letting the rest of the cast feel important. If he shone to brightly he would easily overshadow Koichi whose character arc was so enjoyable.

He also remains vulnerable. Crazy Diamond is powerful and versatile. The number of ways he uses its ability to repair thing for defense and offense is amazing. But at the same time since it can not heal him he stay out of the Kenshiro/Goku levels of power that plagued Star Platinum.

Plus it is refreshing to have a guy who generally has a heart of gold but is not utterly a good two shoes. Josuke is a hero but he is also willing to do some dubious actions to get what he .considers justice. Old man Joseph knows this all too well.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Hiroto Suwa from Orange BEST BESTIE EVER. It is mildly hard to talk specifically about everything that Suwa does in this show without diving into spoiler waters. However, the important thing is that he is willing to go so far to save his friend who is so closed-off, who has so much pain inside. This isn’t a show about the bravery needed to save the planet, it is about the bravery needed to not give up on your friend.

Best Mascot Character
(The Small Furry Creatures from Alpha Centauri Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Gaogao-chan from Poco`s Udon World This powerful invader from space is charmed by the beauty and wonder of earth (and Mimi and Momo) to become its defender. This gives him the power of Master Asia but the kind charm of Totoro. Also the manly voice of Takaya Kuroda gives him a virile and gallant appeal.

Who would not be like Poko and Hiroshi and go out and buy all his merchandise?

narutaki_icon_4040_round Makkachin from Yuri!!! On Ice There was a prominent dog, obviously it was going to win. Victor’s dog that he brings to Japan becomes the unofficial mascot of the series. Their bond is so strong that at one point Victor leaves at a critical time to check on his beloved pup.

Best Ensemble Cast
(This Cast Will Make History Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Flying Witch by J.C.Staff Flying Witch is a show about soaking in a pleasant atmosphere filled with both the gentle magic of the countryside and the mysterious and wonderful magic of the world of the arcane and the spirits. While this sort of healing anime can be very refreshing it can also be deadly boring. Therefore you need a cast of characters with the appropriate amount of energy to counterbalance the idyllic setting or ease you will have the animated equivalent of a glass of warm milk. It will be soothing and fulfilling but also will put you out like a light before you realize it.

Thankfully the Kuramoto household is able to keep you awake by being fairly pleasant so they feel like part of the show but not so nice that they act as Valium. Kei is pleasantly sarcastic but not so much that he becomes caustic. The Kowata sister brings both the magic and the energy to the show. Chinatsu is always delightful even if she might be a dark witch in training. The surrounding members of the magical world add spice without going into The Ancient Magus’ Bride territory.

I think Flying Witch would be a good show with another cast. It becomes an exceptional show with this cast.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Tanaka-kun is Always Listless by Silver Link I really enjoyed this show and found myself thinking back on it fondly a lot as the end of the year approached. Mild-mannered as it seems, it actually produced some huge laughs. Like any good comedy series, those laughs start with a group of likable idiots just trying to make it through the day. I could really use a second season of these jokers.

Anime I Unexpectedly Liked
(You Can Still Be Surprised By Anime Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Girlish Number by Diomedea At first glance Girlish Number seems like a mixture of Shirobako and Seiyu’s Life! with a sad mix of New Game! and Oreimo. So a snow that says it is a satirical look at the voice acting portion of the anime industry but is really just a vehicle for cute girl fluff and incest. If you thought this show was going to be nothing more than bitter disappointment and unfulfilled promise you would normally have been right. But in all actuality, Girlish Number is far better than that.

After the first episode, you realize while this is a show with a cast of five cute girls it is not Ho-kago Tea Time for voice actresses. There is some serious criticisms of light novels, the anime industry, and voice acting with some darker humor than you might expect. At the same time, there is a nice mixture of friendship, humanity, wry humor, and even the rare bit of sweetness to balance it all out.

Think of it as Shirobako mixed with Seiyu’s Life! but containing far more of a sardonic bite. I was very glad I will willing to look beyond my first impression and give it a chance.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou by Studio Deen This strange little show combining the power of making tonkatsu with rising up to become a popular DJ was obviously bizarre enough that it had to seen, but I didn’t know I was going to like it so much!

Favorite Opening
(The Opening Move Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round ERASED OP “Re:Re:” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation If you want a shot by shot breakdown of the excellent composition and symbolism in the Erased opening you can just watch the Mother’s Basement analysis of the animation. It is a dense opening that spells out the story of the series without being blatant. It is clearly one of those openings meant to be watched after you have finished the series so you can see what you picked up on and what you missed despite it being right in front of you. 

But it is also worth mentioning the strong beat and presence of the song by Asian Kung-Fu Generation. It ties everything together while also hinting at the fate of Satoru after he discovers the identity of the killer. Despite problems people might have had with the ending of the series the opening is bulletproof.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Yuri!!! On IceHistory Maker” by Dean Fujioka Apparently animated by a single person, this opening perfectly captures the hopes and dreams of its cast with undeniably beautiful animation. The minimalist nature of its look can be deceiving because all the focus is on movement and fluidity.

Favorite Ending
(The End Game Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Dagashi Kashi ED “Hey! Calorie Queen” by Ayana Taketatsu Despite better ending coming out after the release of Dagashi Kashi I still think this is my favorite. The combination of bizarrely catchy lyrics and amusing visuals really won me over. If anything it is a good summary of the show. It is hardly perfect but it stuck in your head with the way that its various unique elements made it a greater sum that the individual elements.

Plus it was a show all about candy. That automatically makes it 20% cooler. 

narutaki_icon_4040_round  Lupin III Part 4 ED “Chanto Iwanakya Ai Sanai” by Sayuri Ishikawa Many endings are static with a good song. This one really captures the spirit of Fujiko combining her chameleon identity with her traveling nature. And the song is no slouch either.

Favorite Sequel or Ongoing Anime
(The “May You Last As Long as PreCure” Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable by David Production The most interesting part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is how each arc feels so wildly different from the last while still feel like they are all part of Araki’s unique world. While the previous stories were all world spanning adventures to save humanity from the greatest of evils this was a much more intimate tale of a gang of buddies dealing with the darkness that lies within the seemingly idyllic suburb of Morioh.

But different does not necessarily mean better. There are plenty examples of a series trying to shift focus or tone and utterly failing. In fact, the change from Stardust Crusaders to Diamond is Unbreakable used to be fairly controversial. But a variety of factors made the transition from Part Three to Four much smoother today. 

 The smaller stakes made the stories within Diamond is Unbreakable oddly enough feel much more personal. Kira’s much more mundane goals are a good refresher after Dio and the PIllar Men’s apocalyptic ambitions. Koichi transformation from nebbish sidekick narrator character to full-fledged hero made him many an unexpected fan. Also, this arc is the introduction of the infamous and iconic Rohan Kishibe.

While I am very interested to see how fans react the the fujoshi friendly gangster story and the women in prison arcs that are coming up I am no longer worried about the future of the series. The overwhelmingly positive reaction to Diamond is Unbreakable pretty much ensures that everything up to Steel Ball Run is going to get animated.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Haikyu!! S2 by Production I.G We were lucky enough to have two Haikyu!! stories in the same year! While S3 was a dramatic turning point, S2 was a delightful training arc. It was actually really fun to watch despite being such, and we got to know some of the other teams a lot better. Since Nekoma and Furokudani are from the Tokyo area and won’t meet Karasuno in competitive play for a while, it was a smart move to put them together in this way to solidify the relationships.

Favorite Sequel or Ongoing Manga
(The “One Piece” Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Space Brothers by Chuya Koyama When the Space Brother anime finally ended in 2014 it has a commendable 99 episode run. I remember most of my friends saying they would love to go out and read the manga if they were able to do so. The main problem is for most people who meant reading 19 volumes or 187 chapters of the manga to get back to where the anime left off. It was hardly impossible but it proved a bit too much of a wall for most people. I know I put off reading the series because of it. I started at one point but lost steam father quickly. 

Then I got the dual itch to knock out some of my online manga backlogs and read some sci-fi manga. That gave me the momentum to get back into Space Brothers. As I reread the series I remembered how great it was. The highs and lows of Mutta’s journey were still as emotionally impactful as they were the first time. See him going from a listless salaryman to the quick thinking and compassionate astronaut is inspirational and uplifting. Plus it has been enough time between the anime and my big push that a little reminder of what happened in the anime before I got to new material was very welcome.

But getting to the new material was even more rewarding. Learning about Walter Gates was interesting as he was the first real villain in the series as opposed to someone who was just a jerk. But you learn how he went from being an idealistic dream to a petty obstructionist bureaucrat without ever realizing it. Serika’s trials and tribulations on the ISS sends you on a rollercoaster of heartbreak and jubilation several times while taking her from a supporting character to the heroine of her own stories. Hibito’s journey to get back into space is just as difficult and inspirational as his brother’s. Plus you might be a robot if the story with Sharon does not make you tear up. And let’s not forget that more Muta means more laughter and more heartwarming memories.

If you have not caught up with Space Brothers I highly recommend you start climbing your way back to the new material or just hit the ground running with chapter 188. And if you never have experienced any Space Brothers take this as your inspiration to start. Ad Astra Per Aspera!

narutaki_icon_4040_round Barakamon by Satsuki Yoshino I spent a good portion of 2016 catching up with this manga and then realizing how much sadder I am to have to wait months for volumes from now on. Yoshino has great comedic timing and can perfectly play the long game when it comes to a joke. At the same time, the series has heart without becoming saccharine.

By volume 12, Handa has really integrated into the small town having left and returned, hosted many visitors including his parents, and found out (at least a little) about Naru’s family life. We’ve also seen Handa make moves forward in his career which coincides with Hiroshi’s pursuits and failures of deciding on what he wants to do after high school.

This is the closest I’ll ever come to enjoying slice-of-life.

Best U.S. Anime Release
(The Streaming is Not Forever Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round When They Cry – Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai: Complete Collection from Sentai Filmworks I did not pick this title because it has a fancy box or super cool features. I picked it because it finished a mystery.

For the longest time if you wanted to avoid fan-subs and bootleg streams there was no way to watch the ending of Higurashi. It was originally picked up by Geneon just as they were going out of the anime business. This meant that while the first season gains a fan following they went under before they released the second season. When Funimation licensed recused the series they never realized the second season and went as far as to say it would most likely NEVER happen.

If this was some other series it would be sad news but not much more than that. The problem is that Higurashi is a giant mystery series that sets up several interconnected puzzles that are only answers in the second season. So if you want to know what happens you need to see that second season. They are various methods of getting those answers from the anime you either had to raise the Jolly Roger or go without answers.

But finally Sentai Filmworks licensed both seasons of the anime and it is finally out. If you ever needed to know what is happening in the mysterious rural village of Hinamizawa you can finally learn the truth.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Otaku no Video from AnimEigo Consistently great Kickstarter projects aren’t that easy to come by, but AnimEigo keeps pulling them off! The packaging is a really stellar component to these pieces. New art and a special comic was created by Kenichi Sonoda, a book which includes storyboards and color art, the box spine resembles a recorded VHS tape, and more was an incredible way to honor this classic.

Best U.S. Manga Release
(Manga Sales Are Up For A Reason Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Master Keaton from VIZ Master Keaton was never an anime that was going to have a super huge following. It is a dad manga sort of seinen but not in a sexy or action-packed manner. It was a smart and thoughtful series but the type that critics love and the masses overlook. So the fact that the anime ever got licensed was odd but that made the manga even more of a long shot. When the anime bombed it seemingly sealed the fate of the series.

But then Monster and 20th Century Boys were FAR more popular and it sparked and interest in anything else Naoki Urasawa had worked on. They were even able to save Master Keaton out of the DO NOT LICENSE pile it had been thrown on.

This is wonderful because Master Keaton was a very episodic manga. While there are some storyline threads and character arcs, for the most part, every story is a stand alone tale. The anime was more of a sampling of stories from the longer manga so there were a good deal of adventures of the mild-mannered professor that had yet to be seen in English. As Master Keaton is not the type of series fansubbers go after it seemed like these wonderful stories have been cut off from an English-speaking audience.

But thanks to Viz you can now read these adult stories with an air of sophistication since their release has some gorgeous covers and overall a high level of production values. They distinctly gave this title the release it deserved.

If you looking for a manga that stimulates the mind and the heart then you need to read Master Keaton now that it has finally arrived.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Fruits Basket from Yen Press Previously released by TokyoPop long, long ago as a mega-seller, this series really deserved a new edition. But I wasn’t really expecting one considering it is more than 20 volumes so imagine my surprise when Yen Press announced it! Lovely, oversized omnibuses with color pages and a new translation bring this series to a whole new group of fans and give us a much better way to own it.

Favorite Past Anime I Finally Watched
(The “OK. I Will Watch It. Now Leave Me Alone.” Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Lupin III Part 4 by Telecom Animation Film This might seem like an odd pick. This was a series that only wrapped up in March. But I put it on here for a reason. The way a lot of us watch anime has changed greatly. Now that simulcasts are the rule and not the exception any show that is not streaming has to be twice as good and twice as flashy to get any attention as compared to everything else that is far easier to watch. So when Lupin the Third Part 4 first aired in Italy and then Japan without an English streaming a show that had a huge amount of hype surrounding it quickly lost a lot of eyeballs.

Then it eventually began streaming half way through the Japanese broadcast. Sadly by that time I had filled my plate with a bunch of other series. The fact that Lupin now had half a season of new material made it slightly hard to dive into when I was having a hard enough time watching series that only had one new episode every week.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Turn A Gundam from Sunrise I had it on good authority that Turn A was a high bar in the Gundam franchise. I knew that I was going to like it. What I didn’t expect was to love it as much as I did. I enjoyed Turn A Gundam so much that it now ranks as one of my all-time favorites in the franchise.

Favorite Past Manga I Finally Read
(Why Was I Not Reading This? Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round  Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura While I was making my triumphant run through Space Brothers I would sometimes switch to reading some Princess Jellyfish as a refresher for my palate. Princess Jellyfish is another series where many of the people I follow had been watching but were disappointed when the anime ended in the middle of the story. Unlike Space Brothers, since the Princess Jellyfish manga got a physical release when it was licensed I saw more people go out and catch up with the series. 

Much like Space Brothers I had that barrier of what was covered in the anime which kept me away from the series for a while. But once I started reading manga on my tablet with one series it became easier to start another. Soon I was up to date with Princess Jellyfish.

I found that the series goes some interesting places. The examination of Fast Fashion was a little unexpected but it adds layers of depth to a series that was already quite complex. I had recently seen a piece of the topic on Last Week Tonight so I was at least aware of the issues so it resonated even more than usual. It still had all the drama and comedy from the Amars but Tsukimi’s journey into the darker side of fashion is fascinating.

But the best part of reading the manga was the author’s notes at the end of each volume. Herr stories about winding up with visiting high school students as assistants, pretending to be a journalist to interview an athlete as a student, and her husband meeting Takehito Koyasu had nothing to do with the story proper but were infinitely amusing.

So until they make Princess Jellyfish season two you really need to read the manga. It only gets better and smarter than what you have seen so far.

narutaki_icon_4040_round One Piece by Eiichiro Oda It isn’t as if I had avoided One Piece completely before this year, but I made it a point to start reading again from the beginning and continue right up to the present. I’m currently about to start the Water Seven arc.

Hottest Anime Woman
(The Witches and Songstresses Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Izetta from Izetta: The Last Witch Right after swords-women my general preference is female magic users. I think this should be another insight into why I love Fate/Stay Night so much.

She is very attractive with her bright red hair and full figure. She has a gentle and innocent charm but does not come off as sheltered. She has clearly expediences some of the best and the worst of life. She young but experienced.

At the same time, she has a strong mixture of gentleness and determination. She can be very nurturing and loyal by default. Her dedication to Ortfiné despite any odds is extremely admirable. At the same time, she can be utterly gun-ho and fearless when the situation calls for it. She neither rushes towards danger and sacrifice nor chases it. Her balanced approach to life might be her most admirable asset.

Flying around on an artillery rifle as a broomstick is a distinct bonus. 

narutaki_icon_4040_round Mikumo from Macross Delta The terrible outfits of this series could not bring down the beauty that was Mikumo.

Hottest Anime Man
(The Manga-Ka and Soccer Stars Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Jin Kazama from DAYS He is a hot athletic with long blonde hair on a nationally ranked soccer star. That pretty much the example in the dictionary for “Hot Guy.” I think it is definition four in the latest version of Merriam-Webster. He also has a fairly easy-going personality that makes it easy to have a good time with him. He is a bit flighty and has a wandering eye but if you know that before hand you can make it work. You just have to realize he is more a fun weekend hookup than a long-term boyfriend. 

I don’t think anyone has tried to throw this Jin Kazama into a volcano but there is still a second season of Days on the way.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Rohan Kishibe from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Manga-ka, fashion icon, detective, and loveable jerk. I couldn’t wait to see what outfit he was going to wear each week. And he almost always pulled off the look.

Favorite Canon Couple
(Sadly No Members of the Field Artillery Crew Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Tsukushi Tsukamoto and Chikako Ubukata from DAYS There is a certain complementary nature to their fledgling relationship. They are not exactly opposites as much as matching pieces in many respects. They both get a bit of direction and comfort from the other one’s eccentricities.

Tsukushi is passive to fairly impressive degree but when he is aimed at a target he has unlimited endurance. He just needs a steely taskmaster to point him down a road and he will take it all the way to the end. The problem is left to his own devices Tsukushi is bad at taking that first step. Chikako is ALL too willing to give people a piece of her mind and tell them what she thinks they should do. 

Chikako Ubukata, on the other hand, is someone who can get worn down by failure. She fledgling writing career is a testament to that. She hardly gave up the second she hit any sort of difficulty but she also clearly succumbed to self-doubt far earlier than she should have. She has the drive, skill, passion, and perseverance to be a professional author. She needs a cheerleader to give her energy and her low points. If there is anything Tsukushi excels at it is being a booster.

Plus I just get the feeling they are the types that would not easily attract anyone else. They both have slightly weirdo personalities that make most other people run in terror but are attractive to the other one.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Kayo Hinazuki and Satoru Fujinuma from ERASED This simple, young love is the hope in an otherwise dark series. Kayo’s life is a tragic one even before she becomes the first victim of a killer. Satoru’s desperate hope to save her is the beating heart of tension in ERASED. Sweet and sad; the story of these two stuck with me.

Favorite Non-Canon Couple
(The Foolish Author Did Not See Their LOVE Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round Hotaru Shidare and Saya Endou from Dagashi Kashi When I work on Non-Canon Couple I always try to think about how would actually work together well in a relationship. Much like Kate I don’t have a fascination with pairs that hate each other so I need them to smooch. Therefore the mutual respect Hotaru and Saya develop for each other over the course of the series makes me think they are a better pair than either of them with Kokonotsu

Saya can run off with Hotaru and they can become the queens of the candy world as they grow their sugar-fueled empire.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Tanaka and Ohta from Tanaka-kun is Always Listless Every episode became a highlight reel of why Ohta is the best boyfriend ever to Tanaka.

Favorite Moment That Made 2016 Suck Less
(The Count Your Blessing Award)

hisui_icon_4040_round The Announcement That Hayate is Ending Soon It would be easy to assume this would be the WORST news I could receive this year but that is not the case. If this was a statement that Hayate was being forced to wrap up in 2 weeks I would be devastated as it would clearly be a sign that the series had tanked and was forced to hit the brakes. Such an ending often feels messy with large plot threads being left hanging and the conclusion often feeling rushed and awkward. Thankfully that is what happened here.

The ending of Hayate, on the other hand, feels like a very controlled exit. All the big secrets are being revealed at a solid pace as everything important is coming together in a way that feels natural and deliberate. I would rather Hata end the series on his own terms and the story to leave the stage well then get an extra year of laughs and then get an ending slapped on at the last-minute.  

I will be a little sad to no longer get a pick me up every week with a new chapter of Hayate but I look forward to seeing what Hata is going to be working on next. I have enjoyed the monthly Ad Astra Per Aspera and I excited to see that comeback. I am very curious to see this new series he has teased.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju S2 and Manga License Announcements One of these is about to come to fruition in a week or so, and the other is probably bound for later 2017. But their reveals were in 2016 so I’m counting them!

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