What an interesting year it was. At least for me, living in yet again another new city and country for an entire calendar year (moved to Canada in Aug 2015). My intake of anime changed due availability and exposure in a new city. My increase in gaming happened for similar reasons and more travel due to my job. A much greater anime community, bigger community for gaming of all sorts, and life in general made for quite the year.
2016 was another year on my quest to watch old anime to present, so mixing in older anime with the current year gave me some interesting perspective. Along with starting a YouTube gaming channel, it vastly increased how many different games I played of all generations.
I would like to say thanks to the guys at Anime Arcade for including me… even though Jeff is quickly becoming my arch-rival.
Some stipulations that we observed: The picks for the categories did not have to release/debut in 2016, but must have been played/viewed in 2016.
Time for my best of the year. Come at me!!
Top 5 Games of 2016
5. Ori and the Blind Forest (PC/Steam)
I finally got my first gaming PC as a birthday present to myself earlier in the year. This was a game high on my list to play since it was first released in 2015. With elements of Metroid and Rayman, this platformer lived up to all of the reviews and the difficulty as well. Ori is a forest guardian that resembles a small white rabbit. The forest in which Ori lives, under goes a terrible event. Slowly the forest is dying and the food supply dwindles. Ori falls into the deepest part of the forest and slowly starts to restore life. The game barely tells the story through words, but rather tells it through the travels and struggle of Ori. Quickly, I became nostalgic of the platforming games from my childhood and connecting with the little character’s journey on an emotional level. Ori slowly gains abilities like wall jumping to feather gliding plus an upgrade system to strengthen the spirit. The game is fairly quick paced, the puzzles are not mind bending, but there really isn’t anything bad I can say about this game. It truly is a beautiful experience with a lovable environment like a Studio Ghibli movie.
4. Freedom Wars (Playstation Vita)
A fan/old classmate of mine from college in Germany sent me a Playstation Vita since he wasn’t using his anymore. When I went to Fan Expo 2016 in Toronto this past year, it was recommended that I get Freedom Wars. It is a third person action JRPG with a heavy anime theme. The story is quite interesting. You play in a world where resources are scarce and countries have fallen. Humans live in underground cities, but the kicker is that when you are born, you are given a million year jail sentence. You play as a character that has amnesia (of course) and their sentence is back to a million years. The objective is to reduce the sentence in order to gain your freedom. Due to my job that comes with a lot of plane travel, a handheld game where I get to be a character that shoots guns and has a thorn whip like Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho… count me in. Honestly, I have played this game the most in 2016 and it sure does make sitting in the airport more fun.
3. Dark Souls III (Playstation 4)
I also got a Playstation 4 this year when Uncharted 4 came out. This list could have easily been just PS4 games, but the game I have played throughout the year would be Dark Souls 3. To be honest, I have never really enjoyed previous games in the series, but after playing Bloodborne and having similar gameplay plus being more fast-paced I just could not put the controller down. Sure, the game does get tough at times, but I have played much tougher. I love the environment and the boss battles are salivating for great gaming experience. If you still aren’t convinced I enjoy this game, check out my YouTube channel where my friends and I have played the game every week since release.
2. Psycho Fox (Sega Master System)
Ok, so what if the game came out in 1989 on the Sega Master System. I still love old-school gaming and this is no exception. You control a sunglasses wearing fox that uses a shinto stick to change into a hippo, monkey, and a tiger. This is a tough platformer to say the least. But… wow is this game addicting. Psycho fox uses a momentum jump system which is why it is so difficult. You must gain up speed to make certain jumps and can take alternating routes in order to reach the end of each level. Plus, the boss fights are so much fun as well. The best part is you get infinite continues like Ninja Gaiden. It is rare to discover an old game that I want to play over and over again. I simply love it.
1. Playstation VR
So maybe this is a bit unfair since this is not a game. However, this is the next leap in gaming. A lot of people are hesitant about virtual reality be it the possible nausea or games being more on the shorter side. I, on the other hand, went all in after testing it out the last couple years. To me, VR has lived up to the hype and then some. The ‘then some’ is where the gaming industry is going to go from here and some releases on the horizon like Resident Evil 7 and Farpoint. Right now games like Rigs (a mecha sports game), Rez Infinite (rail shooter music game), and Batman Arkham VR (you are freaking Batman!) together make VR my number 1. Rigs gave me my sports love in gaming again. Rez Infinite made me feel like I really was in a computer world while losing my mind thinking I took something I shouldn’t have. Finally, Batman VR is a showcase to what virtual reality can do. Simple things like looking under a desk to the more ‘complicated’ like jump scares with Killer Croc and solving Riddler puzzles really was the high point in gaming for 2016. Anyone who hasn’t tried VR yet doesn’t know what they are missing. It really is like an out of body experience.
Top 5 Anime of 2016
5. 91 Days (Summer 2016)
It’s rare for anime to do a period piece right in my opinion. For a period piece to also focus somewhere outside of Japan and to do it well is also a rare feat. Off the top of my head, only Monster comes to mind where I was totally engrossed in the story unfolding in front of me that took place in a foreign country. I am a big fan of gangster movies like Donnie Brasco and 91 Days hits all of the right notes ranging from the amazing revenge plot to the making of illegal booze. This is definitely for more mature audiences and it finishes oh so sweet. Enough said.
4. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Spring 2016)
This is the anime that kept us from getting Attack on Titan in 2016. Well, jokingly known as “Attack on Train” the zombie apocalypse filled world with so much action did not disappoint. The main character is an engineer convinced the zombie curse is a virus and gets infected himself, but stays human… sort of. From start to finish this anime does not care about humans and the action never stops. My heart raced in anticipation for each episode. I constantly found myself rooting for Ikoma to be that shounen character I love so much, and Mumei kicks so much butt it’s beautiful. By the way, the animation is drop dead gorgeous. The evil enemy is perfect in how heinous his actions are, that with each unfolding event I simply would say “Get F’d.” Yes, this anime is that awesome and I can’t wait for the next part (whenever that will be).
3. Erased (Winter 2016)
Holy nuts what a story! Usually time travel stuff gets pretty rocky. In the case of Erased where the main character goes back to his childhood to prevent abductions from taking place, it was hard waiting each week to get that next piece of information. I absolutely loved all of the characters in the show and the relationships developed as it went on. It was hard watching the characters struggle emotionally, but wanted them all to succeed. The ending almost had me at a loss, but it does conclude in a way that made me very happy overall. For this kind of anime, a good ending is extremely important and Erased didn’t disappoint. A must watch through and through.
2. Mob Psycho 100 (Summer 2016)
Pretty sure this was the only anime this year that took me by total surprise. The animation beat out even Kabaneri. Yes, the art style and character designs could throw some people off, but the simplicity is perfect for Mob Psycho 100. The main character, Mob, is super adorable along with the personality of his mentor. Each time Mob has his stress levels reach 100 he goes into super psycho mode and beats up everything in his path. The unusual progression of the story at hand is a breath of fresh air. It starts off with learning the environment Mob is in from making friends to confronting bullies. Then it goes into Mob battling an evil organization taking people with high psychic abilities. The comedy mixed into the fantastic action scenes is something that I simply love in Mob Psycho 100. I really hope we get more of this somewhere down the line.
1. March Comes in Like a Lion (Fall 2016)
Only 11 episodes into this anime and it is the best anime of 2016. For me, this anime wasn’t even on my radar until a suggestion by Logan. It is almost scary to watch an anime or any show where you can relate so closely with a character. This might get a bit personal as a full disclosure.
Rei Kiriyama is a professional shogi player at a young age and moved to a town where he knows literally nobody. I turned a professional bowler when I moved to a foreign country in high school where I also knew no one. Rei experiences seclusion in an environment he feels he doesn’t belong in, but gets taken in by a random family (same for me). It could go on and on, but the point is Rei and myself have way too much in common. It makes it extremely tough to watch each episode, but also gives me time to reflect upon my own past. Rei constantly contemplates his present and future regarding his current situation. He goes through emotional highs and lows which leads to some difficult ‘real’ life situations in which Rei must deal with basically on his own. This could be the first anime that has spoken to me on such a personal level ever and it frightens me as well as makes me tune in to each and every episode.
This is an anime only half way, and I am already 100% invested in all aspects of my life.