Anime  

Best of the Best: 2022

2022 is in the rear view, but let’s take one last look back with the LiA “Oscars”.  And the winners are:

 

Best Song: “Ciki Ciki Bam Bam” by Queendom  –  Paripi Koumei

Was there ever really any doubt?  Rarely has a series’ appeal been so tied in to its OP or ED – it’s easily the most noteworthy element of what’s otherwise a fairly pedestrian show.  Not only is the song a banger, but the animation sequence is as well.  If you didn’t have “Hungarian dance number becomes anime sensation” on your 2022 bingo card, I won’t blame you.
Honorable Mention: “Natsu no Yuki”  by krage (Koukyuu no Karasu ED), “1” by MOB CHOIR (Mob Psycho 100 III OP)

Best Soundtrack: Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou

It’s hard to beat Made in Abyss – and Kevin Penkin – where traditional “background music” soundtracks are concerned.  Penkin has contributed phenomenal insert songs too, but it’s the theatrical-style soundtrack where Made in Abyss truly shines.
Honorable Mention: Yofukashi no Uta, Ousama Ranking

Best Original Screenplay: Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo

Looking back on 2022 was a stark reminder of just how rotten a year it was for original anime.  There were plenty of them but frankly very few of them were any good.  Iso Mitsuo utterly blows away the field here (no matter what aggregator scores say) and TBH I had to stretch to find honorable mentions (I almost included Yojouhan Time Machine Blues because it’s sort of original, but I thought that would be cheating).
Honorable Mention: Ryman’s Club, Digimon Ghost Game

Best Adapted Screenplay: Summertime Render

Always the much more competitive category, and 2022 was no exception.  It would be easy to just pick whichever was the best show overall here (and in several categories, in fact), but Summertime Render was a series where I thought the writing had to do a lot of heavy lifting.  Significant changes from the manga were needed – and delivered – and the pacing was tremendous (having maybe the best director in anime does help in that respect, too).
Honorable Mention: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 3, Mob Psycho 100 III

Best Art Direction: Masuyama Osamu, Sekiguchi Teri (Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougankyou)

Maybe the strongest category on the list this year, absolutely crammed with worthy contenders.  In the final analysis I just can’t go against MiA (this is Masuyama Osamu’s second “Oscar” for the franchise).  This series is just indescribably beautiful (in a sometimes horrifying way), and the world-building is off the charts.  It’s a team effort to be sure – the animation, creature design, and backgrounds all unite to create a unique viewing experience.
Honorable Mention: Dance Dance Danseur, Yofukashi no Uta, Ousama Ranking, Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo

Best Animation: Mob Psycho 100 III

Here again I could so easily have gone with Made in Abyss – it’s really a coin flip.  But Bones 100% hand-drawn adaptation of Mob Psycho 100 III, while not as flashy as some competitors or even its second season, takes the crown for me.  It delivers hugely in the big action sequences, but soars equally in the way it animates characters and interior moments.
Honorable Mention: Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougankyou, Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo, Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yuukaku-hen 

Best Character Design: Hasegawa Hitomi (Dance Dance Danseur)

Another very competitive field this time.  I chose DDD because of the expert way Hasegawa’s designs captured the transitional beauty of adolescence in that most demanding of platforms, classical dance.  This was a series in which the physical presence of the characters was crucial to telling the story, and the designs (and animation) nailed it.
Honorable Mention: Ousama Ranking, Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo

Best Supporting Actress: Asano Mayumi as Goudai Chizuru (Dance Dance Danseur)

I didn’t really have anyone leap out at me for this category (if Isekai Ojisan had finished on-time it would have had multiple contenders). In the end I went with Asano because Chizuru is a crucial yet undeniably supporting role in a very good series, and she nailed it.  Goudai-sensei is the one at the nexus of the competing threads in Dance Dance Danseur – she’s the one caught in the middle and trying to do the right thing (and often failing).
Honorable Mention: Sawashiro Miyuki as Gammamon (Digimon Ghost Game), Kawasaki. Maki as Ichijou Hana (Ao Ashi)

Best Supporting Actor: Ohtsuka Akio as Ekubo (Mob Psycho 100 III)

Dimple is such a great and important role that it almost feels like cheating to give this to Ohtsuka here. But then he’s such a boss that it almost feels like cheating to force anyone to compete against him anyway.  The “Marlon Brando of seiyuu” just kills is as Ekubo, who really is the third point of the Mob Psycho triangle.  He was absent for much of this season but when he was present, Ekubo gave Ohtsuka some real show-stopping moments.
Honorable Mention: Yasumoto Hiroki as Billy Watkins (Spy x Family), Miyata Kouki as Cheng Jiao (Kingdom 4), Ohsaka Ryota as Gyuutarou (Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yuukaku-hen)
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Best Actress: Kugimiya Rie as Satou Koutarou (Koutarou wa Hitorigurashi)

Kugimiya Rie has obviously had one of the busiest careers in the business, with a heap of iconic roles.  Often, frankly, they’ve been the sort of roles and the sort of shows I don’t especially love.  But for me Koutarou is her most nuanced and emotionally effective performance.  KugiRie is not even particularly known (with a few big exceptions, like Alphonse Elric) for playing boys, but she’s really perfect here.  Few series effortlessly combine comedy and tragedy as routinely as Koutarou Lives Alone, and she delivers exactly what that requires.
Honorable Mention: Kuno Misaki as Faputa (Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougankyou), Amamiya Sora as Nanakusa Nazuna (Yofukashi no Uta)

Best Actor: Yamashita Daiki as Murao Junpei (Dance Dance Danseur

A very strong field this year, and this one was really a photo finish for me.  Yamashita is a seiyuu whose popularity may mask his talent – he has roles so eponymous that you don’t realize how good he is in them.  Junpei was a good stretch for him while still in his sweet spot, and Yamashita captured the explosive, scattered, energy and passion of a kid in the throes of puberty and confusion.
Honorable Mention: Itou Setsuo as Kageyama Shigeo (Mob Psycho 100 III), Satou Gen as Kou Yomogi (Yofukashi no Uta),

Best Director: Iso Mitsuo, Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo

As much as anything, this is an all-around Oscar for Iso Mitsuo.  The Orbital Children was totally his baby – a decade or more in development, trying to find funding for an arthouse project in an era where – thanks to the production committee system – nearly all creatively ambitious anime come from manga with a proven sales track record.  It likely never would have happened without Netflix, but thank goodness it did – this is an auteur project of the type anime rarely sees anymore.  Big, beautiful, full of ideas and questions without answers, Extraterrestrial Boys and Girls is a testament to Iso’s genius and to the merits of creator-driven anime which – by necessity – do an end-run around the system.
Honorable Mention: Itamura Tomoyuki (Yofukashi no Uta), Watanabe Ayumu (Summertime Render), Hasui Takahiro (Mob Psycho 100 III), Akagi Hiroaki (Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 3)

Best Romance: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 3

As much as I love Raidou and Aharen, I can’t give the statue to anyone but Takagi and Nishikata.  I don’t know if 2022 completed their anime journey – the manga is ongoing and there’s still “Moto” to consider.  But between the third season and the movie their romance couldn’t have asked for a better denouement.
Honorable Mention: Aharen-san wa Hakarenai, Yofukashi no Uta

Best ComedyAharen-san wa Hakarenai

Looking back on it, 2022 was another pretty weak year for anime comedy.  Between the two great romcoms of the year I give Karakai Jouzu the edge for “rom”,  but Aharen-san the edge for “com”.  This series was more of a straight-up comedy, and frequently hilarious at that.  It delivered some of the biggest anime laughs I’ve had in years.
Honoroable Mention: Karaakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 3, Romantic Killer, Spy x Family

Best Drama: Mob Psycho 100 III

This category is invariably a competitive one, and 2022 was no exception.  As with the Top 10 list itself it’s really a photo finish between Mob and Made in Abyss, and Dance Dance Danseur was right there for about 8 weeks.  I again give the nod to Mob here, just because the peak dramatic moments impacted me emotionally that tiny bit more than the ones in MiA did.
Honorable Mention: Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougankyou, Dance Dance Danseur, Koutarou wa Hirotigurashi

Best Series: Mob Psycho 100 III

Same story here.  What I’d note is that this time, the best series of the year was also my favorite – and that hasn’t always been the case.  Mob Psycho pretty much checks all the boxes to be an anime classic, and also scores a direct hit with me as a viewer.  I’m sad it’s over, but a manga could hardly ask for a better adaptation than what MP100 has gotten – Bones has done it justice every step of the way.
Honorable Mention: Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougankyou, Dance Dance Danseur, Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo

Best Picture: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san Movie

I haven’t checked, but I suspect this is the first time a franchise has won a series category and “Best Picture” in the same year (maybe HeroAca has done it, but I don’t think so).  This film was very much in line with the tone and structure of the series, but elevated in just the right ways to make it really special.  Again, if this is the final chapter of Nishikata and Takagi’s romance in anime form, we could hardly ask for better.
Honorable Mention: Drifting Home, Inu-Oh 

 

As you’d expect, Mob Psycho 100 and Made in Abyss dominate the tally.  Mob claims the title for statues four to three, but factoring in Honorable Mentions MiA actually pips it 9-8.  It just reflects that these two series were incredibly close, and head and shoulders above everything else that finished in 2022.  Other multiple winners were Dance Dance Danseur with 3 statues (and DDD added 5 Honorable Mentions to that), Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo, and Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 3 with two statues each .

One more time, let me thank everyone for supporting LiA in 2022 by reading, commenting, and subscribing to the YouTube site.  And obviously to those of you who stepped up financially a very special thank you – I’m humbled by your generosity and will do my best to repay it.  The fight for financial survival goes on – it’s never-ending – but LiA is still here thanks to you.

Stay frosty, and have a wonderful 2023!

Enzo

 

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