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The Best Anime of 2022 – Caitlin Moore, Lynzee Loveridge, Kim Morrissy + The Best Movies

Caitlin Moore

Honorable mentions

Let’s be honest: these picks are based on my mood at the time of writing them, and if I wrote this list on a different day, it could end up totally different. Plus, weak summer notwithstanding, 2022 is one of the best years for anime in recent memory. There were some series I truly loved that I didn’t have room for, including , , , , , and Witch from Mercury, among others. There were series that may have merited the list if I had found time to finish them, notably DIY, , and . I also want to give a shout-out to the shoujo series with lackluster adaptations that made me want to check them out in other media, especially and .


I’ve spent years frustrated by a dearth of sports anime about women; most of the ones that came out focused either on cuteness or cheesecake. There were exceptions, but all of them had something holding them back. I wanted something that could stand beside gold standards like and , with fully realized animation that highlights the sport alongside the characters. Then Birdie Wing came out, and I realized I wanted something messy, over the top, and deeply, fully anime… but also not obsessed with boobs.

Sure, I wanted athleticism and competition, and I still do, but in their absence, I would happily accept a beeping clown car full of the most ridiculously over-the-top mafia-run golf competitions. Usually, I wouldn’t touch a series about golf with a ten-foot pole. Still, it turns out that yuri vibes and a snake lady who uses her magical crotch stank to make her opponents hallucinate and then, after being defeated, becomes a friend can make anything watchable.

I’m looking forward to the next season, coming up in April—just as long as it isn’t revealed that Eve and Aoi are sisters.


Speaking of how female-led series prioritize cuteness over skill, I have yet to truly love a girl-centric music anime since . They’re almost universally about idols, a musical genre I have never cared for personally. But then came , tearing through my defenses with excellent writing, visuals, and the kind of music I like to listen to. It’s up for debate whether we’re meant to be laughing with Bocchi or at her, but I found myself chuckle-cringing at habits I had as a teenager, including putting my hobbies on display and waiting, in vain, to be approached, or quietly dying inside during time off because I’m positive that all my friends are hanging out without me. Her bandmates are like larger-than-life versions of dear friends of mine.

But relatability alone won’t rocket a series up to my top five in a year full of truly incredible series. Under the rising star director Keiichirō Saitō‘s leadership, the team behind the series brought Bocchi’s messy internality to life with varied techniques like stop motion and even phenakistoscope. It is one of the most visually inventive series of the year, even in the company of established greats like and . Add to that an acerbic sense of humor performed to perfection by Yoshino Aoyama and a strong understanding of the mechanics of the indie rock scene, and you’ve got a hit for the ages.


I must admit that this one almost didn’t make the top 5 after choosing it for my “Best of Fall 2022” runner-up. Not because of any major change of opinion but because I hate having two write two blurbs for the same thing in such short succession. But here I am, writing it up because, after watching the finale for a second time, really is just that good. It’s a co-production between Cygames and P.A. Works, two studios that have proven themselves utterly unafraid to get weird and have turned out far more hits than duds. It marries the moe aesthetic, informed by P.A. Works‘ “girls working” meta-series, to yakuza story beats, playing off each other into something completely unexpected. Much like Ranko herself, pulls no punches, with perfectly timed comedy as dark as a Berkshire hog. On the other hand, it applies a light touch to its moments of pathos, which are always as absurd as they are sincere.


I appreciate P.A. Works‘ fearlessness and sincerity so much that not just one but two of their series have landed in my top five. The story of , where the famed strategist of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms finds himself reincarnated in Shibuya and becomes the manager of an up-and-coming EDM singer, is the kind of thing where you can’t help but shrug and say, “You know, that just might be crazy enough to work!”

The visually engaging production and excellent script put in the running for one of the best series of the year rather than a simple novelty. Kongming himself is a charismatic figure and a quick study, and while it’s fun to watch him move through his machinations, the story could have become a repetitive obstacle of the week for him to solve. Instead, the plot moves through themes examining music production as a collaborative medium and all the hands involved in making an artist successful, and how hard it can be to find a balance between success and maintaining one’s artistic identity and integrity.

©Sato-SB Creative Corp./Project Executioner


My distaste for cuteness for its own sake has been a recurring theme throughout this list, not to speak of most of my career as a critic. There’s nothing wrong with cute, but too often, it supplants everything else girls can be. My soul aches for stories that depict women as just as complicated, varied, and messy as men without softening them or relying on pre-established archetypes as shorthand. I don’t just want relatable stories about girlhood (though those can be nice); I want stories about women going out and doing cool things. Fiction rarely satisfies that need, anime even less so. However, gave me what I was looking for and did so with style.

tap dances around so many current narrative trends in anime; it’s almost easier to define it by what it isn’t than by what it is because trying to describe what it is makes it sound like 95% of other anime being produced today. “Well, it’s an isekai, but the superpowered teens are hunted down, except there’s this one girl the main character can’t kill, and there are some serious yuri vibes.” I hear that description, and no matter how much I like the bones of the concept, I immediately make a dozen assumptions about all the clichés that make up their meat. Gaming constructs! Fanservice! Moe-based personalities! No characters over the age of 16! Instead, there’s a well-constructed fantasy world with an original and mildly horrific magic system, a varied cast of messy human beings, and a genuinely tense plot. Not that it isn’t on the schlocky side—Earthsea this ain’t—but that makes it more fun, right?

Lynzee Loveridge

5. or

I waffled on whether to put or in this spot. Both shows fill a similar niche as continuations of series I’ve greatly enjoyed but didn’t…meet my expectations. They didn’t fall short enough to qualify as “worst” and certainly weren’t incompetent productions. If I divvied up their individual attributes, both series would feature some great moments of animation and darkly compelling narratives that invite discussion. I’m not happy with either series’ plot direction and grimdark twists (both arguably involve cannibalism!), but I can’t deny that I got some enjoyment from marinating in each series’ respective themes around the watercooler (aka ANN After Show). Consider this a participation trophy for series that used to be better.


is a series that proves you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make something entertaining. The adventures of Loid, Yor, and Anya aren’t mind-blowing thematic treatises, and that’s fine. I can get down with a competently produced sitcom featuring a psychic child with an expert face game. I don’t consider myself overly sentimental, so many of the series’ emotional beats fail to resonate with me, but the comedy more than makes up for it. I’ll take 20 minutes of Anya and Becky playing dress-up any day of the week. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long for the movie and third cour this year.


Someone has to hold a candle for the MAPPA ballet show, and if it’s me, then so be it. is the kind of drama-fueled mess that I like to roll around in like a raccoon on a late-night Taco Bell bender. We’ve got our plucky, self-absorbed protagonist Jumpei fumbling through the professional dance world without any prior experience. He’s flanked by ballet prodigy and walking call for CPS, Luou. Miyako, a dancer sidelined by family drama and sexism, brings up the rear. The anime does not resolve all of its emotional threads and some cursory research indicates the manga goes bananas later. Still, the story makes up for its messiness in gorgeously animated execution. At no point does try to shirk what it is, a hormone-fueled drama centered around dance, and it makes no qualms in utilizing ballet to display the characters’ emotional stakes.


I’ve talked about the following two series at length on the ANN After Show for the last 12 weeks. It’s honestly been one of my most enjoyable viewing experiences, and that’s in no small part because rules. It is quintessentially anime in the best way possible (Sentai, you can put that on the Blu-ray release). Many of my colleagues have written at length about the series’ central conceit (yakuza, but it’s all maids in the ’90s), but I need to emphasize how friggin’ funny this show is in every single episode. There never was a week where I shrugged a story off; it’d be difficult to pick a favorite episode, to be honest. The Manager is my new favorite dirtbag. There’s a panda acting like a regular zoo animal that is actually a girl that adopted a fursona after a traumatizing run-in with a hitman. She might eat bamboo, and everyone acts like this is normal. I’ve made it no secret that comedy is difficult for me, and is the funniest shit.

© Tatsuki Fujimoto / Shueisha • MAPPA


I already wrote at length about why is great in our “Best of Fall 2022” feature earlier this week. It might seem redundant, buying into the hype, or falling for recency bias to put it as my favorite anime of the year. But it is. Instead of reiterating my earlier points about the series’ technical merits, I’ll add to its storytelling achievements. I care about the anime version’s characters more than I did while reading the manga. I have nothing but respect for Fujimoto’s comedic timing, artistry, and inventive use of the comic format, but I never grew attached to the characters much individually. I found it easy to get swept up in the narrative, but the darkness of the story doesn’t allow the characters to bond with one another much (and Denji actively comments on his inability to do so in both versions). MAPPA‘s interpretation of the series focuses much more firmly on Himeno’s place in the story. As a result, I found myself emotionally invested in Aki and her in a way I wasn’t originally.

checked every single one of my boxes this year in a way that no other anime could accomplish.

Kim Morrissy

5. Season 2

It’s impossible to fathom, but somehow managed to outdo itself in its second season. The series already blew minds with its diverse and absurd skits, but the second season stretches the definition of “anime” by filming entire episodes in live-action. The tokusatsu segments with Shōta Aoi will stand out as the absolute highlight in a season that was already full of laugh-out-loud jokes. In a year that featured Kaguya-sama, , and , still stands out as the year’s most inventive comedy.


I’m telling you now: If this anime weren’t stuck in Disney+ jail in half the world, it would have been a mega-hit. Filled with cool fights and an abundance of plot twists, it’s a tightly-paced thriller that makes extremely clever use of its time-travel premise. This show is perfect for people who like but found the first half too uneventful, but it’s also easy to recommend to pretty much anyone because it wraps up every intricate plot thread. No lame sequel hooks or “read the manga” ending here! You’re guaranteed a satisfying time.


was the sleeper hit of the year. There have been anime about cute girls with guns before, but none with this level of panache. The slick John Wick-esque gun action is juxtaposed with an utterly adorable buddy dynamic between the female leads, resulting in a rollicking fun time every episode. The hitman schoolgirl premise might sound dark, but the story is never grim, even in its most dramatic moments. Even if you think you’re not into anime about cute girls with guns or cute girls chilling at a café, the combination of the two works better than anyone could reasonably expect.


I’m sure you’re seeing a lot of on everyone’s top anime lists, but there’s no overlooking its blockbuster status. Through its visual production alone, it reigns head and shoulders above nearly every other TV anime in existence, providing a cinematic experience in every episode. Although the story has yet to fully live up to its visuals, each episode is progressively more interesting than the last, building up layers of intrigue for when the larger plot finally comes to a head.

©2020 Asato Asato/KADOKAWA/Project-

1. The Last Two Episodes of

The anime was supposed to end last year, but the final episodes got pushed back to March due to production troubles. Fortunately, they were well worth the wait. While the plot beats were conventional, these two episodes were hard-hitting and emotional, the perfect moment of catharsis after such a long stretch of fatalism and despair. The stellar direction and animation from the anime’s first part also returned, turning the climax into a psychological character piece. The anime overall is a transformative anime adaptation that fleshes out what’s between the lines in the light novel, but those last two episodes were some of the best individual episodes of anime ever.

The Best Movies of 2022

Nicholas Dupree

© ’82,’84,’87,’92,’94,’95,’97,’02,’18 BW ©’07 BW/MFP・M ©’09,’11,’21 BW/MFP ©’12 BW/MFB7P ©’15,’17,’21 BW/MDP


Yes, this movie technically came out last year in Japan, but I double-checked the rules, and so long as the initial English language release was this year – in this case, the imported Blu-rays featuring official EN subtitles – it counts. And I will be Daedalus Attacked into oblivion before I give up a chance to finally, finally gush about on this site. I have waited far too long to let something as trivial as the Gregorian calendar stop me now.

While it’s been a contentious entry in the franchise since it first aired, has been a source of boundless joy for me, going on six years now. I love the characters, the designs, and the music, and I found a lot to relate to in the struggle of its wayward cast as they found themselves adrift in a conflict larger and older than any of them could answer for. And while there are plenty of objective flaws in this sequel/conclusion movie – the plot is nigh incomprehensible if you’re not caught up on 40 years of franchise lore, the villains are barely-present plot devices more than characters – none of that mattered to me when I finally sat down and watched it. Instead, I was too caught up listening to the new songs, indulging in the flashy concerts, and just feeling at home seeing these characters one last time. After seeing both the TV finale and the revamped Passionate Walkure ending a dozen times apiece, it was exhilarating to see the crew of Delta Flight and the ladies of Walkure getting up to new shenanigans and feeling closer than ever.

Honestly, I avoided watching the film for months after importing it, reluctant to say goodbye to a work that had meant so much to me. And in a genuinely serendipitous bit of synchronicity, that turned out to be the central theme of the whole thing, ending with leading lady Freyja declaring she would live “absolutely” and embrace the people and things she loved rather than holding them at arm’s length for fear of losing them. It was a beautiful turn of events and made me love this whole franchise all the more for it.

Would any of that appeal to somebody who doesn’t already love and Delta in particular? Don’t know, don’t care, because I was too busy cheering and crying and singing along to every big, crowd-pleasing moment it delivered. I loved that Mirage finally got a big moment all her own. I loved seeing Hayate and Freyja so inseparable and fighting alongside one another to protect their shared family and friends. I loved all the ridiculous new Walkure outfits, the suped-up Valkyries, and everything they did with Bogue. Most of all, I loved the climax, a whirling, planet-sized ball of musical emotion exploding into a million impossible colors in front of my ears, crystallizing in a finale that had me sobbing for ages afterward. Was it all indulgent fanservice? Maybe. Am I just an easy mark? Most certainly. But the beautiful thing about is that it’s just as happy to indulge in pure, uncritical sentiment as you are. When it’s firing on all cylinders, there’s nothing else like it.

Richard Eisenbeis

© Eiichiro Oda / 2022 “” Production Committee

I would never have thought in a year with a new Makoto Shinkai film that any other movie could be my pick for best anime film of the year—but here we are. The simple fact is that after I saw Suzume and wrote the review, I never thought about it again (well, prior to preparing this article, anyway). On the other hand, I still think about several times a week.

What’s funny about that is that I’m not a fan. I’ve seen a grand total of three episodes of the show (two of which are tie-ins to this film), watched the ninth movie back in 2008, and played two of the Pirate Warrior games for work. However, what’s great about is that you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy it. While there are scores of heroes and villains with all sorts of crazy powers and conflicting motivations, none of that is vital to understanding this film. This is because the film is about one person and one person only: Uta.

Uta, an original character created for this film, serves as the hero, the damsel in distress, and the villain all in one. She is the film’s emotional core, and each new layer of information we learn about her past and motivations completely redefines her character. Her struggle is a commentary on the nature of ‘s pirate-filled world and how much it sucks to be the little guy.

It also helps that, as a singer, she provides much of the film’s soundtrack diegetically. Each of the film’s vocal numbers is composed by a different powerhouse Japanese composer and brought to life by the supremely talented Ado, who ends up singing everything from slow ballads and pop songs to experimental tunes and rock songs just this side of metal. I, for one, have been listening to the soundtrack off and on for months now. It really is that good.

All in all, is a solid and impactful film. The scar it leaves on your heart is one that’s bound to last a good, long while.

Christopher Farris

© Project

I feel bad for any mobile-game-promo multimedia-project anime that must exist alongside . Here’s a series whose anime adaptations are so distinctly united by the vision of director Tomohiro Furukawa that it’s easy to forget these exist as a nominal marketing vehicle, instead leading us to view as the intended treatise it is on the art and craft of performance itself. , netting its theatrical release in the US this year followed by a streaming debut, is the distillation of that sincere belief in the raw power of dramatic stagecraft. Sometimes that means characters we’ve come to love throughout a TV series coming to terms with their graduation and separation via sexually-charged duet duels. And sometimes that means letting a pair of riotously lit-up dekotora smash violently into each other or chopping the Tokyo Tower itself in half to make a point. Of all the good stuff in anime this year, this was also a good run for emotional content, and even dealing in absurd stunts like those just mentioned or filtering it all through the judgmental audience allegory of a talking giraffe, still pulled several stretches of serious tears out of me by its affecting final number. What else can that be called but pure theatre?

Steve Jones

© Project

As a continuation and conclusion to the TV anime, overloads the senses and fulfills the steep promises pledged by the series’ original conceit. It’s a torrent of spectacle and emotion as only musical theater can deliver: full-throated, heart-on-sleeve, and dazzlingly surreal. I loved the review screener so much that I made a three-hour round trip to watch it on the big screen. And with its larger-than-life emotions and set pieces, clarified against the backdrop of graduation and the “death” that comes with it, this film demands the biggest stage possible. It fuels itself with its oversized ambition, burning its parts to reach an apotheosis as gratifying as it is breathtaking. Any residual messiness melts away when I think about how freaking cool this is to watch. Tomohiro Furukawa directed the hell out of this thing. As far as pure style goes, this is the finest follow-up to we’ve gotten from someone not named Kunihiko Ikuhara.

Lynzee Loveridge

© Colorido Twin Engine Partners

This spot might have gone to if I had been able to watch it this year, but I’m happy to put Studio Colorido‘s in this spot. I honestly hope it leads some of you to load it up on Netflix. is, like many youthful adventure stories, about learning to process complex emotions. In this case, the core of the film is grief as childhood friends Kosuke and Natsume push and pull at each other following the death of Kosuke’s grandfather. There’s unresolved resentment permeating their relationship when an entire apartment complex suddenly goes out to sea, taking the two kids and several of their classmates with them. manages to capture the emotions of its preteen cast in a respectful way without making them tiny adults. Its emotionality feels genuine and earned, even if Natsume’s depression hit a bit close to home. It’s a solid coming-of-age story and cements that Studio Colorido is a studio to watch come 2023.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.



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