anime_10_2016

 

2016 has been a year many of us would prefer to forget for a number of reasons, but at least for anime fans our hunger for Japanese animation was suitably satiated with another slew of fine releases arriving on our shores.

Along with the usual regular UK distributors Manga, MVM, Animatsu and All The Anime, the prominent US label Funimation has set up shop here in Old Blighty, putting their own titles out directly instead of through the aforementioned distributors. So far their catalogue is small – including the popular Fairy Tail – but with their already dominant status in the US that is sure to grow in 2017. How will this affect the UK market? We’ll have to wait and see.

Because of this spreading of the anime wealth the list of titles available for review on this site has dwindled a little but that doesn’t mean the end of anime reviews nor does it mean the end of coverage of some of the biggest new titles by ol’ MIB either. As long as there are still enough releases for me to compile an annual top ten then it will be business as usual.

Just a quick note about the criteria used to rank the titles for this year. Death Note is excluded because it is a re-release. Long running shows such as One Piece and Naruto Shippuden get a bye as they would feature every year, whilst the box office surprise hit of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name isn’t listed because I haven’t seen it! Literally no cinemas anywhere near me screened it. Hopefully the success of this title will inspire a wider cast net for future theatrical release of anime films.

So here we go with MIB’s Top Ten UK anime release in 2016, and of course, agree or disagree as is your wont.

 

10. Punch Line (Animatsu Entertainment)

Punch_LineOne of the more leftfield titles to hit the shelves in 2016, this concoction of every genre imaginable tells the convoluted story of Yuta, a young lad whose arousal at seeing girl’s panties could spell the end of the world. It’s obviously a lot more than that but the complexities of the plot cannot be condensed so succinctly into one paragraph. Yet, despite its lurid premise, this is a show of hidden depths that takes both Yuta and the viewer on one unforgettable journey.

Read the full review HERE

 

9. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (MVM)

nozaki_kunTaking us behind the scenes of the creation of a shoujo manga, this comic romance introduces us to Chiyo, a schoolgirl with a huge crush on her classmate the eponymous Nozaki, who unbeknownst to Chiyo is the creator of her favourite manga. Chiyo becomes Nozaki’s assistant and while we wait for romance to blossom, we are treated to a look at the work that goes into writing, drawing and putting together a monthly girl’s manga series. Warm, funny and educational.

Read the full review HERE

 

8. Miss Hokusai (All The Anime)

miss_hokusaiThe first of two films in the Top 10, this luscious historical bio-pic dramatises the life of O-Ei Hokusai, the lesser known daughter of the legendary Japanese painter Katsushika Hokusai. Because so little information about O-Ei is readily available, the approach is very much one of supposition based on the Edo period, with fantasy elements padding out the artistic aspect. We may not learn much about its subject but it is a visually engaging work.

Read the full review HERE

 

7. When Marnie Was There (StudioCanal)

marnieStudio Ghibli shocked the world two years ago by announcing they were shutting up shop for a while, leaving this film to be its swan song. Adapted from the 1967 novel of the same name, the story involves Anna, a young asthma sufferer moving to the sea side on doctor’s orders, where she meets the mysterious Marnie, who may or may not be real. Without Miyazaki or Takahata at the helm, Marnie doesn’t end Ghibli’s run on a bang but offers a poignant farewell (for now?) all the same.

Read the full review HERE

 

6. Mirai Nikki: Future Diary (Kaze UK)

mirai_nikkiThis psychological thriller ponders the idea of being able to change the future as both a weapon and a means of survival when a group of people are selected to participate in a battle royale to the death. Via special online diaries accessible on mobile phones, schoolboy Yukiteru Amano and classmate Yuno Gasai are just two participants in this nightmare contest that yields much violent horror as it does intense plot twists, making this one of the more inventive titles released this year.

Read the full review HERE

 

5. Golden Time (Animatsu Entertainment)

Golden_TimeA rare romance story that eschews the typical “will they, won’t they?” direction and instead focuses on the struggles of two distinct personalities falling in and out of love with each other. Studious Tada Banri and capricious rich girl Kouko Kana seem like a mismatch yet they get together after Kouko publicly dumps her ex. This exploration of the triumphs and uncertainties of being a modern couple is both amusing yet incisive, although the supernatural aspect is unnecessary.

Read the full review HERE

 

4. Assassination Classroom (All The Anime)

ass_classA title that sadly wasn’t reviewed on this site but is absolutely worthy of inclusion nonetheless, this sci-fi comedy tells of an indestructible alien that plans on destroying the earth but instead gives humans one year to find a way to kill him, educating a class of low ranked pupils at an exclusive school in how to do so. It’s a daft premise that allows for plenty of broad humour but it is the bond that forms between the alien and his pupils that gives the show its heart.

 

3. Parasyte: The Maxim (Animatsu Entertainment)

Parasyte_MaximSimilar to Assassination Classroom, this show also sees an alien bond with a human but in a completely different way. The alien in questions is a parasite that was supposed to bore it way into the brain of Shinichi Izumi but instead ended up infected him through his right hand. Whereas other infected people have turned into vicious killers, Shinichi is the only one who can fight them off. A gripping horror thriller from the start, Parasyte may parallel Spider-Man in conception but with more graphic violence.

Read the full review HERE

 

2. Haikyu! (Manga Entertainment)

HaikyuI’ve never been a sports fan so this series about a high school volleyball team completely caught me by surprise. Having been smitten as a child rambunctious Shoyou Hinata decides to take up volleyball despite his short stature, even enrolling in the same school as his hero. Currently in its third season in Japan, Haikyu! is a funny, fast paced, character driven, action packed series that is remarkably addictive even if sports isn’t your thing.

Read the full review HERE

 

1. Beck – Mongolian Chop Squad

(All The Anime)

beck

In case you are wondering why this previously available title from 2006 qualifies for the list when Death Note doesn’t, it is because the original UK run of Beck was never completed, making this the first time it has been available in its entirety. It was a bit of a wait but certainly worth it, not just for nostalgic reason but because the show still holds up as a modern classic today.

The pursuit of the rock‘n’roll dream through schoolboy Yukio Tanaka is a gritty, realistic (ish) warts and all drama with credible music, and an engaging story with large than life characters. Sharing the downs as much as the ups, there has rarely been a music based anime depicting the struggle of trying to break into a notoriously difficult industry at a grass roots level without painting the usual superficial feel good portrait. Still fresh and relevant today as it was a decade ago.

Read the full review HERE

 

And that wraps up the Top Ten countdown for this year. There were as ever a few titles that narrowly missed a spot on the list after much deliberation, including the Kickstarter funded film Mai Mai Miracle, the definitive telling of the Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks saga, murder mystery The Perfect Insider and fantasy adventure Beyond The Boundary.

Hopefully 2017 will continue to see more great titles head over to these shores (and available to review for yours truly) whilst it will be interesting to see what impact Funimation’s addition to the distribution scene will have on the existing UK companies – more consumer choice or an eventual dilution of the market place? Check back in twelve months time to find out!

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is the Man in Black saying Sayonara!

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8 thoughts on “MIB’s Top Ten Anime of 2016 (UK)

  1. Nice write up. A couple of those titles are likely to feature in my annual top five. Looking forward to reading more of your anime coverage in 2017, even if review copies are harder to come by in this Funimation age.

    Like

    1. Thank you kind sir. 🙂

      It’s a tough case actually because I could try and get on the mailing lists of the other distributors but that would triple my already busy workload, yet I also miss out on reviewing some cool titles. :/

      Liked by 1 person

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