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The 10 best anime of 2022

By December 16, 2022No Comments10 min read

The year 2022 may go on to be considered one of the greatest in seasonal anime history. We’ve been treated to everything from highly anticipated adaptations, to surprise original hits, to decade-old continuations. So much of it has been excellent as well. When the anime section writers of InBetweenDrafts sat down to vote on what would make up our top ten of the year, the votes for tenth place were separated by a single point! Needless to say, the team is pretty passionate about what did manage to make it to the top of such a stacked year. Here are the InBetweenDrafts top ten anime of the year, and here’s to a hopefully just as good 2023! 

10. The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún

The introspective and gothic The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún spins a web of connections and loneliness with some of the finest animation of the year. Based on the manga written and illustrated by Nagabe, the world depicted has been divided into an inner and outer land, where we meet our two main characters, a girl named Shiva (Rie Takahashi) who has been found near abandoned bodies and is awoken by a “being” referred to only as Teacher (Jun Fukuyama). Recalling works such as Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya or the French animated film Ernest & Celestine by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner, the film, which bathes in shades of black and white, enriches itself with its moments of color, arriving in fits of spellbinding pops. It’s visual poetry, as these characters and their stark worlds begin to slowly provide warmth. [Ally Johnson]

9. Ranking of Kings

One of Ranking of Kings greatest and most consistent achievements has been its ability to continually up the ante on a week-to-week basis, especially in its second cour. The story of a young, perceived to be powerless prince who must overcome adversity to prove his worth and protect his kingdom from unknown dangers, the series easily could’ve traveled well-worn paths. Instead, the series has taken the time to dive into the past and current psyche of all its characters, committing fully to demonstrating their inner complexities, even the ones who, in the first introduction, seemed like they’d be the easy villain or punching bag.

The reality is much more interesting, with every character having their driving forces and convictions. The character exploration is met with gusto by the expansive world-building, which makes the universe in Ranking of Kings feel impossibly large while still finding a way to unite each thread so that, by the time it culminates in the still ongoing finale, there’s a deep catharsis to seeing all the characters we’ve grown to care about uniting. With simplistic designs that are contrasted with stunning and visceral action pieces, where the violence and brutality, though often bloodless, are shockingly unsettling, Ranking of Kings could easily go down as one of the decade’s best anime – and one of the year’s best shows, period. Do yourself a favor and at least watch the gorgeous second cour OP. [Ally Johnson, reposted]

8. Kaguya-sama: Love is War

It’s bad enough that Kaguya-Sama: Love is War Season 3 had the audacity of putting my heart through a Death Note themed blender in 2022. The manga, which just wrapped up a month or so ago, furiously stomped on my emotions until they were as unrecognizable as whatever explosion of love you can see in the opening intro of the show. You’ve probably heard it all by now. Love is War baits you in with a slice of life rom-com bliss premise only to transform your expectations for how the ultimate tease of a standard romance can make way for some of the most relevant and socially aware comedy across the East and the West. It’s a shining example of how anime has become a juggernaut of subversive entertainment with something for just about anyone, and that goes extra for Love is War, one of the new entertainment classics in both its mediums. [Jon Negroni]

7. Mob Psycho 100 III

This year brings an end to my personal favorite anime, Mob Psycho 100, so I’m selfishly stealing this opportunity to express my gratitude for it. Mob is a story about self-actualization and self-improvement all at once, a series that has no problems loving some real crap people and seeing the good in them anyway. While its protagonist, an awkward and quiet boy with enough power to conquer the world if that sounded good, is instantly relatable, there’s never been a character that was meant to be for someone in some way. While Mob Psycho 100 III is a beautiful adaptation of the manga’s final arcs and its opening and endings a beautiful send off, I’m really going to miss it. I’m going to miss it in particular as the definitive example that you can in fact have it all in a single animation project. Bones has been one of the GOATs in anime since we all first watched Fullmetal Alchemist, but the love and care that they showed Mob is truly second to none. Hilarious, heartfelt, comforting, challenging, and ultimately accepting of itself and of you, there’s nothing like Mob. Thank you, Shigeo. [Travis Hymas]

6. Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc

Demon Slayer continued its stellar anime run this year without missing a beat. The Entertainment District arc was just as action-packed and emotional as previous arcs with the added bonus of all the progress our newbie Demon Slayers have made finally beginning to pay off. For the first time in the anime, the climax of the battle in the Entertainment District felt like a true victory for Tanjiro and his friends. This kind of long and tense action over several episodes is really the strength of the shonen genre and Demon Slayer remains one of its best advocates. Studio Ufotable also continues to showcase that no one does it quite like them when it comes to animating Demon Slayers deceptively complex showdowns. They particularly shined when the big twist of the season caused chaos to spill out into the entire district but the choreography and blocking of the individual parts of the fight never felt off or mishandled. A masterclass in how to do it right, all the way through. [Travis Hymas]

5. Komi Can’t Communicate Season 2

A story for the introverts among us, the second season of Netflix’s sweet Komi Can’t Communicate managed to somehow improve upon what it showed us in season one. Focusing on the two, kind-hearted souls of Komi and Tadano, the writers and animators make a meal out of Komi’s expressive shyness, in big, looming eyes that shift around the room as those more outgoing than her converse. While it easily could’ve played it straight for the comedy, there’s an abundance of heart present both in the empathy shown to Komi and her small triumphs in building friendships with others, but also in the growing bond between her and Tadano. The result is a compassionate perfect blend of would-be-romance and slice-of-life anime, the type of series that acts as a repellent to all the anxieties of day-to-day life. [Ally Johnson]

4. My Hero Academia Season 6

One of the greatest assets to season six of My Hero Academia has been its refusal to allow us or its characters to stop for a breather. With true life and death stakes on the line, the popular shonen series has barrelled into the action as Midoriya, Bakugo, and co., have been thrust into a perilous situation as the League of Villains and the Meta Liberation Army have threatened to unravel their society’s sense of stability, something that’s been slowly cracking since All Might’s forced retirement. With some of the best character moments of the series so far, enormous if predicted identity reveals, and stunning, kinetic action that is a reminder of how good Bones is when at the top of their game, season six has consistently left us breathless by the end of each episode. Readers of the manga or not, there’s little chance of not getting sucked up into the thrill, action, and sheer devastation of casualties and sacrifice taking precedence as our characters are fully forced to grow up too quickly. [Ally Johnson]

3. My Dress-Up Darling

In a buffet of springtime snackable waifu bait shows, My Dress-Up Darling is a smattering of protein, veggies, and tooth-decaying sweetness. Following Marin Kitagawa, bruh girl extraordinaire and cosplay fanatic of many a young man’s dream and Wakana Gojo, a human embodiment of what it means to live the ‘quiet life’, the story chronicles a friendship that blossoms into something more by means of their conveniently overlapping interests. Having almost literally bumped into each other, the two find solace in each other’s obscured passions; Gojo being an apprentice kashira-shi, or a craftsman who specializes in Japanese hina dolls and Kitagawa being, well, an enormous weeb. Charismatic and aware of their feelings for each other in convergent fashions, the two bring out the best in each other while helping to cover each other’s worst sides. Watching these two explore their own passions in the presence of one another feels organic and grounded in reality for as often utopian as the genre is. Anyone looking for a goofy-yet-wholesome romantic romp found “wuv” in this story. [Jordan Lee]

2. Chainsaw Man

Long awaited and teased, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s masterpiece was finally given its anime adaptation and it unironically ripped right through the fall season this year. Chainsaw Man is an instant classic that will almost certainly outlive its run already, but the near-perfect adaptation work by MAPPA has certainly guaranteed that the bizarre members of Public Safety will be the new Survey Corps at your next anime con. That obsession is well earned; Chainsaw Man rips so damn hard, especially in its quiet moments. MAPPA has managed to replicate as much of Fujimoto’s pacing and paneling work as likely possible to make something as thoughtful as it is violent. That violence is pretty damn good too, for what it’s worth. These animators are working so hard, they’ve managed to make several of their craziest animations earn accusations of being CG when they’re not. Okay, so now that we’re mentioning it, these hard working talents are getting time off, right? If Denji gets union benefits, the people animating him ought to be too. [Travis Hymas]

1. Spy x Family

Only one anime could really take the top of this list and while it may not be shocking, it is deserving. Spy x Family is fine craftsmanship that knows exactly what its about and is entirely aware of its secret weapon: Anya. She likes peanuts! Anya holds this Disney Channel-esque comedy plot together by being incredibly adorable but also earnest in her depiction. Child characters are nearly impossible to keep right – that’s why a lot of anime basically forget they have children as their protagonists, something Spy x Family is even bold enough to make an entire punchline around. This anime makes writing a child look like child’s play, though. There’s plenty of love for Loid and Yor, (especially Yor) and rightfully so too; but Anya brings it all together. There’s pretty much nothing about her off putting or disdainful about children seeping through the adults creating her and it’s literally impossible to not fall in love.

Honestly, it’s almost like Anya was created in a lab to convince more millennials worldwide to have kids. Anya praise aside, Spy x Family is also both visually and audibly appealing. The voice actors are hitting the exactly perfect notes in every scene, assisted by a fast tempo score. That work is against a very specific ‘60’s art deco environment and atmosphere while remaining just distant enough from the inspiration to keep its politics pretty broad and simple, at least for this season. The whole package works in such a way that I personally have begun recommending this to the non-anime fans in my life as the perfect example of what’s great about this medium without hitting them with all the tropes. That by itself is worth a Stella. [Travis Hymas]

Featured Image contains assets via Crunchyroll

Travis Hymas

Travis Hymas is a freelance writer and self appointed Pokémon historian out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Known to be regularly obessive over pop culture topics and gaming discourse, he is a published Rotten Tomatoes critic and has been featured on sites such as Uppercut and The Young Folks

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