Top 10 Anime Moments of 2016
Written by: ClayDragon & Shiggins
When people think of an anime series, they tend to have one single scene in mind; a moment that perfectly encapsulates the show and what it’s about. These moments can be epic or subdued, heartwarming or tearjerking, hilarious or terrifying, but the key point is that they are the highlight of the show. And just like any other year, 2016 gave us a surplus of perfect moments. It was difficult, but we eventually manages to whittle them down to our Top 10.
Side note: Whilst we made an effort to watch lots of shows that started airing this year, we couldn’t see them all. So if there’s a moment that you think should be on this list but isn’t, then it’s probably because we never got around to watching it, as opposed to us not liking it.
As is this the case with many of these lists, SPOILER ALERT. You have been warned.
10.) Shelter (Shelter) (Written by: ClayDragon)
This is a unique entry on this list because it doesn’t come from an actual anime series – Shelter is a five-minute long music video written by Porter Robinson and animated by A-1 Pictures. The video tells the story of Rin, a young girl living inside what appears to be a futuristic simulation which she can control through a tablet. Anything she draws on the tablet will be created by the simulation, so she spends her days exploring weird and wonderful locations, but completely on her own.
|What would happen if her tablet broke? Can it even break?|
As the video progresses, it’s revealed that Rin was placed inside the simulation for her own safety by her father. Flashbacks show that when she was young, a large planetary body was on a collision course with Earth, and so Rin’s dad created a single-passenger escape pod with a life-support system and placed her inside. Just before the impact, her father activated the simulation, wiped Rin’s memories and sent her off into space, in the hopes that she would escape the imminent destruction of Earth.
|Someone give this girl a hug, right now.|
Shelter is only five minutes long, but it tells a cohesive and heartrending story about loneliness and sacrifice. Rin’s isolation is obviously getting to her at the start of the video, but after regaining her memories and finding out that she has received a new message, she realises that the memories of her past make her stronger, and that there is always hope, however small. There’s easily enough material here for a full-on movie, and the fact that it’s condensed into a handful of minutes without losing any cohesion or emotional impact is an amazing feat. Even though Shelter isn’t a full series like every other anime we talk about, it was impossible to overlook this gem.
9.) 100% Rage (Mob Psycho 100) (Written by: ClayDragon)
Have you ever met a person who is just instantly able to get under your skin? Sometimes they’re overly pleasant, or sometimes they just know how to press your buttons, but either way, you just can’t stand them. When Mob is taken to an underground cult meeting, he is introduced to the cult’s leader, Dimple. Dimple can make any person laugh regardless of how they’re feeling, and intends to recruit Mob into his cult. However, it turns out that Dimple is an evil spirit possessing a random man, and in reality just wants to take over the whole world by brainwashing everyone.
|Taking a deep breath and counting to ten probably won't work in this case.|
When his methods don’t work on Mob due to the boy’s psychic powers, Dimple attempts to break his resolve by insulting him and his chances of living a normal life. As Dimple keeps talking, Mob’s hidden emotions steadily begin to build up, until one emotion rises above the others and bursts out. Mob’s anger towards Dimple fully manifests, and when Dimple tries to defeat him the old-fashioned way (i.e. kill him), he quickly finds himself on the losing end as Mob’s vast powers reduce him to an incredibly weak state.
During the first two episodes of Mob Psycho 100, the titular character comes across as something of a blank slate – Mob gives the initial impression that he doesn’t have much of a personality, and his deadpan reactions didn’t do much to humanise him. However, this scene instantly reverses this by revealing that yes, Mob does have feelings just like everyone else, and he can get as emotional as the next person. Not only does this serve to make him a much more relatable character, it also sets the stage for just what Mob is capable of when he’s pushed too far, which is a recurring theme throughout the show. Add in some great music and animation, and the result is an amazing establishing character moment.
8.) Crying in the Rain (Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash) (Written by: ClayDragon)
Death affects everyone differently. Some people shut it out and get on with their lives, whilst others need time to come to terms with it. Everyone mourns in a different way, and that’s okay, but it’s still important to let your friends and family know how you’re feeling. After a member of Grimgar’s party is killed in battle, the group begins to fracture as they all attempt to cope with the loss in different ways. Some members close themselves off and become defensive, some try to keep everything going as normal, and some just shut down completely.
|I've only just realised how many entries on this list involve crying. It's a lot.|
When Haruhiro bumps into Yume at night, he initially believes that she’s upset at him for hiring a new party member without consulting her. But the problem runs deeper than that – since everyone has tried to deal with their grief in their own way, no-one is talking to or supporting each other, leading her to feel isolated from the rest of the group. Through their conversation, both of them realise that they’ve been dealing with this in the wrong way, and it culminates in the two of them both breaking down and grieving for their lost friend together.
One of Grimgar’s main strengths was the way it portrayed the effects of having someone close to you die, and nowhere is this more apparent than in this scene. It’s incredibly emotional to watch, and part of that is because Haruhiro and Yume sound like real people. They realise that they’ve both been as bad as one another, and the raw outpouring of sorrow that they go through when they accept that their friend is gone forever is expertly done. The silver lining is that you can tell that the party’s going to get better from here, now that the two characters have actually talked things out. Grief is a tricky thing to write about, but Grimgar does it perfectly.
7.) Exchanging Rings (Yuri on Ice) (Written by: Shiggins)
I was really tempted to put in one of the many moments of figure skating that this series has, just because it's such a beautiful show that flows wonderfully with the animation. After much deliberation, I realised the best idea was to choose a scene that featured no figure skating whatsoever, so instead I went for a scene that focused on the appealing relationship between mentor and student... or perhaps even more than that.
When the nerdy protagonist Yuri and his coach Victor exchange rings in front of a church, carollers singing as Yuri promises to make Victor proud, the mood and setting is absolutely brilliant. It's not loud or exaggerated like so many other anime moments out there, nor is it a standard love confession where they blurt it out and have to beat you over the head with it. The subtlety and peaceful approach to this is what earns it a spot on our list.
For many viewers, this was the official confirmation that Yuri on Ice was more than a simple sports anime or a silly yaoi series. This is when it became something more, and the couple felt truly equal. There was no sexuality shown here, but real passion and heart clearly moved those rings onto each other's fingers. This is love, and even the worst cynic out there will feel the ice around their hearts melt at this beloved scene.
6.) Naruto and Sasuke (Naruto Shippuden) (Written by: Shiggins)
It feels like a decade ago since the Naruto manga ended and we finally got the acceptable ending to one of the biggest manga series of all time. Unfortunately, it only felt that way because the anime dragged it out for so long and the fans fought over ships instead. Well, we made it. We finally made it, and for fans out there who had been with Naruto since the beginning, this was one hell of a finale.
I think a lot of us weren't sure exactly how Naruto's battle with Sasuke would end, although most of suspected either Sasuke would die or we'd get a bullshit excuse that made zero sense and caused fury. Instead, we got an awesome action sequence that literally drained the duo of their energy and made them resort to angry fist-fighting, before just collapsing and having no other choice but to talk. And boy, did they talk.
Naruto's conversation with Sasuke is an example of perfect writing. I've reread this chapter and rewatched this episode quite a few times, and I can never truly fault it. Naruto's words resonate with Sasuke, and we do finally see him become vulnerable after a lifetime of hiding his feelings away. For the first time in the entire series, I was truly able to agree with Naruto – they are friends.
5.) Christmas Tree (Erased) (Written by: Shiggins)
When I think of Erased, I remember three things. The opening, which didn't make a lot of sense when you think about it. The ending, which didn't make a lot of sense when you think about it. And the middle, which was absolutely fucking perfect and if you disagree with me then I will instantly know where you live and begin a march on your home. The relationship between the protagonist and the girl who is doomed unless he saves the day is absolutely darling. YES I SAID DARLING!
|It's like if Disney and Ghibli had a child together then abused it then showed it a Christmas tree... This metaphor started out nice. Why did it go so bad?|
Satoru's kindness towards the abused child Kayo is just fantastic, as we see Kayo needing help more and more through each episode. By episode 3, we had literally seen Kayo's cruel mother lock her in a shed at night while she was covered in bruises and honestly, it's making me curl up just writing about it. It's disgusting to see her be hurt like this, which only makes the scenes where Satoru helps and comforts her all the more welcome.
I was tempted to put in the scene where Kayo had her first normal meal with Satoru, in which she literally bursts into tears, but the Christmas tree is just unbeatable. It is Erased's proudest moment, as Satoru takes Kayo up to the top of a hill and the stars have aligned to give the dead tree a Christmas tree design. It makes no sense obviously, but the entire time you're watching this scene, you are in love and facts don't matter. All that matters is that Satoru gave Kayo this wonderful view, and she'll have many more to see thanks to him.
4.) Class 77 Return (Danganronpa 3: Hope Arc) (Written by: ClayDragon)
Danganronpa is a series that is renowned for its craziness. And given that this year’s anime series was designed to be a conclusion to everything that had come before it, the creators had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, they pulled it off with style. Danganronpa 2’s cast was a favourite with fans, and by the midpoint of the Future arc, it was obvious that they were going to show up in some capacity by the end. But how exactly were they going to make their appearance? Why, by showing up in the finale to save the other cast members by beating the crap out of an army of brainwashed goons, of course!
|"His hands were so soft..."|
Even though there were a lot of characters to fit in, most of them got a good amount of screentime and a number of them gave us some laugh-out-loud scenes. From Nagito causing a landslide by kicking a single pebble, to Gundam giving one of the most bombastic, over the top introductions ever, everyone had their moment to shine. Heck, we even saw the return of the adorable Minimarus, who are now remote-controlled and capable of self-destructing!
However, one of the biggest highlights comes at the climax of the episode, where the entirety of class 77 (and Hajime) manage to convince Mitarai not to broadcast his brainwashing video around the planet. Given how much more action-oriented the Future side of the series was, it was nice to see the conflict resolved not through a fight, but through a group of friends reaching out to a lonely individual. Plus, Nagito’s fanboying over Makato was absolutely hilarious.
3.) Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Kaio-ken x10 (Dragon Ball Super) (Written by: Shiggins)
I think all bets were off when Goku ended an episode by declaring he had one final technique to use against the grand assassin Hit, easily the most interesting character to appear in Super so far, and that it could be something that would give him an advantage against such a monster. When did he have time to learn something new? Since when did Goku ever take time to create new techniques and not just copy from someone else? Or is the series about to suddenly make Super Dragon Fist canon?
|When your aura is so aura that it aura's an aura.|
Instead, what we got was a classic! Kaio-ken! For fans of the original, this is just a blast! It made sense that we finally got to see this amazing move again, and it was something Goku had always had in his arsenal but was never usable until now. And even though it is technically usable, it's still damn painful and Goku's body is broken afterwards because it was still a reckless thing to do!
Combining something old, Kaio-ken, with something new, Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan/Blue, is exactly what Super did here. Giving us more of what we love but making sure to add what we'd never seen before, creating a fight so powerful it literally gives an aura an aura. This is the only time we ever saw Hit be hurt, be surpassed in some capacity, and this is the furthest Goku has ever been in his entire life. We can only hope we see Super Saiyan Blue Super Saiyan 3 Vegito Kaio-ken x100 soon enough...
2.) Rem’s Confession (Re:Zero –Starting Life in Another World–) (Written by: ClayDragon)
Subaru never has it easy. His special ability lets him return to previous moments in time, but he has to die first. He embarrasses himself in front of a huge squad of knights, subsequently gets the crap beaten out of him, and when he tries to return to Emilia’s home to save her, he keeps dying before he can be of any use. Utterly broken and grasping at straws, he gives up. In a last-ditch effort to have some happiness, he asks his only remaining companion Rem to run away with him. They can make a home for themselves far away from their current location, and start a new life together.
Of course, given that Rem is in love with Subaru, she’s clearly thought about a possible future for them, and she goes on to tell him what in touching detail what she imagines a life with him would be like. But then she says that she can’t go with him, because if she does then the man she leaves with won’t be the Subaru she fell in love with. Upon hearing this, all of Subaru’s pent-up self-loathing comes bursting out, and he goes on a huge rant about how he completely despises himself and all his failings. Rem simply takes all this in stride and points out that whilst he may have his shortcomings, he needs to realise that he has many positive attributes too – after all, why else would she have fallen in love with him?
|DON'T MIND ME I'M JUST CRYING LIKE A BITCH.|
I’m stretching the definition of ‘moment’ here to its breaking point – this entire scene, from Subaru’s escape plan to Rem’s confession, takes up almost the entire episode – but dammit, I couldn’t not include this, because this scene works in so many ways. Rem’s confession is the natural result of her development throughout the series, and the way that she tells Subaru that he needs to get over his insecurities marks the moment where he actually starts to become a genuine hero. The ideal life that Rem has in mind is both heartwarming and tragic, since she’s all too aware that Subaru is in love with Emilia. But she doesn’t let that stop her from confessing, because she wants to help Subaru no matter what. Frankly, the only reason why this moment doesn’t take the top spot is because Subaru rejects Rem’s confession (yes, I’m bitter about it). Apart from that, it’s a wonderful scene, and it’s far and away Re:Zero’s emotional high point.
1.) Korosensei’s Death (Assassination Classroom) (Written by: Shiggins)
THEY ACTUALLY DID IT! I can't believe they actually did it and they finalised it and they didn't even reverse it or do some trick where Korosensei is alive as a ghost or is slowly recreating himself. No! They did it! The series teased us by saying they were actually making an attempt to save Korosensei or prevent having to kill him, but they did it! And... And oh god, it's so damn emotional!
The end of Korosensei does start out as fairly weak, fighting a villain we
don't care about and providing a typical shonen-style battle. However, it's after
that when we get the true emotional impact. Every student in this class is
present and has to help out, pinning him down so he can't wiggle out.
Korosensei keeps his smile, happy to see them all work together to ensure their
target doesn't get away.
|You stabbed it? But how is he supposed to wear it again? ...Oh. Oooohh... Oh...|
Even at the end, Korosensei manages to give his class one last lesson about rage and emotion. He helps Nagisa remain calm, and makes sure to say every single person's name one last time. Hell, Korosensei even manages to get a last joke in there! There was always doubt in our minds that the series would do this, since Korosensei was the mascot of the entire series and an icon of Shonen Jump. Assassination Classroom gets our full respect for providing a beautiful, emotional and difficult moment that cemented its status as our number 1 spot. Korosensei, you will be missed.
|Farewell Shinsengumi (Gintama)|
|Mavis and Zera (Fairy Tail Zero)|
|House Escape (Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto)|
|Standing Up to Bakugou (My Hero Academia)|
|The King Returns (Pokémon Generations)|
Is there a moment you feel we missed out? Or do you have any suggestions for another Top 10 list? Let us know in the comments below!
|Conceal, don't feel.|
Thanks for reading!
ClayDragon has finished studying Physics at university, and understands about as much as he did when he started. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to figure out what to do with his life. By reading this list, you agree to serve us in both life and death.
Shiggins enjoys many strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers or presents or videos. However, until that wonderful day comes when people care enough to give him things for being him, you can contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. He can also respond to you if you contact him through GMails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere.