While 2022 was not an amazing year for anime in terms of sheer numbers, with titles frequently failing to make the cut and reverting to tired subgenres, tropes, and clichés, that doesn't mean it was devoid of top-tier productions. Despite the industry being especially saturated with bland isekai shows and underwhelming romantic comedies, numerous other series helped to make up for it, making the year worthwhile for anime fans willing to broaden their search for great content.
These top-notch titles were able to stand out even in seasons where highly anticipated sequels and well-known names threatened to steal the show because of their compelling plotlines, engaging characters, fantastic production values, and impressive creative abilities. 2022 demonstrated that anime can be just as varied, artistic, and innovative as ever, from instant fan favorites to sleeper hits.
Mentions of Merit
Blade Runner: Black Lotus, an all-CGI production, demonstrated that anime can take on a major Western franchise like this and still produce something unique and visually impressive. Black Lotus, with its slick action scenes and suspenseful overarching narrative, works best because it requires no prior franchise knowledge; instead, it's focused on telling its own story, building upon its already-existing world without relying on it as a crutch for its storytelling. Christy Gibbs -
The long-awaited sequel to the sensational action shonen series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba set the course for 2022, adapting the fan-favorite "Entertainment District" arc. Ufotable's quality is as consistent as ever, permeating this arc's incredible sakuga moments. Tengen Uzui, the Sound Hashira, was also introduced in this new season, whose colorful personality contrasted perfectly with Demon Slayer's grim world, especially after the events of Mugen Train. Anna Williams's
Both novice anime enthusiasts and those who have been following the Gundam franchise since its inception in 1979 will find Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury to be a beautiful work of animation with an original plot set in its own universe. Its LGBTQ+ representation is woven in and developed in a wonderfully casual way, while 17-year-old Suletta makes Gundam history as the franchise's first female protagonist. Mr. Joe Ballard
The light novel and manga series that I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss adapted managed to retain all of its charm and fun. I'm the Villainess keeps viewers interested despite adhering to all the conventional isekai and otome game-inspired tropes because to its entertaining plot and diverse array of characters. Mike Suzuki
10. Parts 2 and 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean
Although the community misses "JoJo Fridays," there is no doubting the excitement around each new JoJo's Bizarre Adventure episode. JJBA Part 6 is broken up into three parts. The saga of Jolyne Cujoh and companions was wrapped up in Stone Ocean, which spanned the summer and fall anime seasons. With their continual high caliber and flawless adaptation of Stone Ocean's climax, David Productions never ceases to astound. Many devoted JJBA fans consider Part 3 in particular to be a masterpiece, and for good reason.
Despite being broken up into three parts, it's obvious that each batch of episodes was handled with sincere love and enthusiasm for the tale being told. Not only did the anime adaptation beautifully bring Stone Ocean's beloved cast to life, but it also perfectly captured the tone of the original novel. Of course, given the series' unfortunate conclusion, fans of the brand are more eager than ever to see a prospective Steel Ball Run adaptation. - AW
9. Urusei Yatsura
Reboots are a divisive topic regardless of the media. On the other side, Urusei Yatsura (2022) is a superb illustration of how to do a reboot successfully and it also set the bar for what a reboot of a great series should be. Another David Productions production, Urusei Yatsura, retains its autonomy while preserving all of the beauty and humor of the original anime from the 1980s. The program has a vibrant city pop aesthetic, a talented voice cast that represents the iconic Lum and Moroboshi characters, and comedy timing that is just ideal for lightheartedness.
The anime series Urusei Yatsura (2022) is a reminder that sometimes anime may just be for fun, and that viewers can unwind and enjoy the journey, even though it lacks anything profoundly philosophical and is more giddy hilarity than romance. - Ajbnn
8. Call of the Night
The summer anime season was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Call of the Night, a traditional shonen romance that was flipped on its head by LIDENFILMS and Itamura Tomoyuki, the same director of the cult classic Bakemonogatari anime adaptation. The same-named original manga by Kotoyama served as the basis for the adaptation. Due to its stunning animation, Neo Tokyo color scheme, and catchy, upbeat opening and closing themes by Creepy Nuts, Call of the Night quickly established itself as a fan favorite during an otherwise quiet summer season.
Call of the Night succeeds in romanticizing urban nightlife in the greatest way while conveying a potent, startlingly progressive message about falling in love, even though the series has drawn criticism for the protagonist's age relative to his vampire companion and other cast members. Overall, Call of the Night is a fantastic series for anime fans who want to push outside their comfort zone and experience the wild pleasures that come with being a regular night owl. - AW
7. Kakegurui Twin
With its intentionally over-the-top storytelling and unrestrained ridiculousness, fan favorite series Kakegurui - Compulsive Gambler gained a significant following when it debuted in 2017, followed by a direct sequel two years later; this led to an abundance of memes, especially when it came to its characters' facial expressions. In this sense, the spin-off series Kakegurui Twin is a suitable successor that, despite not including the titular character from Kakegurui, manages to uphold the show's addictively amusing sense of ridiculousness.
Although not every episode of Kakegurui Twin reaches the same absurdity heights, the franchise does seem to work better the more subtlety or realism it attempts to eschew. But when the series is at its funniest, its ridiculous antics are undoubtedly on par with those of its sister program, complete with the recurring use of highly saturated colors and numerous close-ups of faces that are perfect for memes. - CG
6. My Dress-Up Darling
Winter 2022's My Dress-Up Darling rapidly joined the category of those unexpected anime hits that seem to appear out of nowhere to win over hearts everywhere. While his co-protagonist, the popular Marin Kitagawa, is passionate about cosplay, Wakana Gojo adores making hina dolls but isolates himself out of dread of being teased by his classmates. Marin is pleased by Gojo's talent and asks him to assist her in designing a new cosplay costume rather than making fun of his pastime.
Their subsequent misadventures and developing romantic sentiments make for a wonderful tale of encouragement, acceptance, and self-acceptance, along with plenty of antics. Even though My Dress-Up Darling understandably has its critics due to some pointless fan service, both Gojo and Marin — as well as many other characters they encounter along the way — receive significant character development in addition to the overarching message that it's always okay to be who you are and do what you love. - JB
5. Chainsaw Man
The eagerly awaited anime adaptation of Tatsuki Fujimoto's immensely popular manga Chainsaw Man has not only lived up to, but in many ways exceeded, the high expectations that had been placed on it. It has given both devoted viewers and those who had never read the manga a completely original viewing experience while also securing a unique place in popular culture.
Yes, Chainsaw Man has provided the action, the gore, and enough twists and turns to make viewers' heads spin, but it's much much more than that. Its gripping plot centers on a young man living in poverty who unexpectedly develops new abilities and becomes a Devil Hunter. The series redefines what a shonen anime can be in 2022 and beyond with its magnificent animation, end-credit scenes, and songs that change with each new episode as well as its horrific fatalities and continual moral dilemmas for the audience. - JB
4. Bocchi the Rock!
A kind of a sleeper smash, Bocchi the Rock! delivered something exceptional with a plot that, on paper, may sound formulaic but succeeds greatly in terms of execution, especially in a season full of well-known sequels and major series with lots of hype already behind them. Bocchi's frequently severe character comedy is matched by the series' total lack of pretentiousness and genuine feeling of joy, especially when it comes to its fascinating variety of visual styles. Bocchi is consistently amusing, endearing, and (perhaps brutally) relatable.
The program also maintains an intriguing level of realism. While many viewers may not have any experience learning an instrument on their own or playing in a band, they are likely to have dealt with social anxiety, confidence issues when taking their hobby to the next level, or naively hoped to make friends by literally wearing their hobby on their sleeves and waiting impatiently for others to approach them. Some viewers may even have experienced all three of these things. Although programs like Chainsaw Man have a built-in "cool factor," Bocchi the Rock! more than makes up for it with heart. - CG
3. Ranking of Kings
Ranking of Kings (Ousama Ranking) by Studio Wit may have attracted some attention at initially due to its unusual character designs, but it soon became apparent that this was not a plot that wanted to pull any punches. Ranking of Kings, which deftly subverted numerous traditional fantasy and fairytale tropes through pivotal character revelations and plot developments throughout the series, quickly became ingrained in viewers' memories because of its frequently surprisingly sophisticated drama and moving story beats.
Of course, Ranking of Kings' music was equally as important as the scripting in establishing a cast of complex yet believable-seeming characters with captivating dynamics. The anime's first ED theme ("Oz." by Yama) and second OP theme ("Hadaka no Yuusha" by Vaundy) in particular established the tone of the series, assisting in the creation of an unforgettable story and a highly sincere yet incredibly nuanced atmosphere. - CG
2. Spy x Family
There's no denying the incredible impact that Tatsuya Endo's Spy x Family has had on anime and mainstream pop culture. A combination of action, political tension and the constantly looming threat of war mixed with slice-of-life adventures, Spy x Family expertly manages to be intense, thrilling, comedic and wholesome -- often all in the same episode.
The professional spy known as Twilight must assemble a phony family and enter Eden Academy for his most recent operation, which could determine the fate of world peace, in order to learn more about the enigmatic warmonger Donovan Desmond. The resulting Forger family, which consists of Loid, a secret spy, Yor, an assassin, and Anya, their daughter, a secret telepath, joins forces for mischief, excitement, and an increasing degree of sincere love and concern for one another. One of the most popular anime characters in 2022, Anya in particular, was even observed during the 2022 World Cup. Spy x Family's anime, which has more than lived up to Endo's adored manga, has contributed to the series' ongoing popularity. - JB
1. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
There was no anime this year that could compare to Cyberpunk: Edgerunners in terms of quality or innovation, despite Spy x Family maybe being the more commercially mainstream anime in many ways. Edgerunners is very much its own creation while being based on the extremely well-known Cyberpunk 2077; in fact, the fact that it is a game-based series makes its success all the more amazing considering anime's generally dismal track record with video game adaptations.
This may have initially raised some questions about Edgerunners' potential, despite the involvement of some well-known figures. Others may have been concerned that an anime that was so largely based on an already-existing franchise would not be well received by people who are not gamers. The result is a series that is both ingeniously savage and wildly entertaining, and one that doesn't require any prior knowledge of the game to enjoy to the fullest. However, Studio Trigger's trademark visual flair, combined with a story that allows for expansive worldbuilding, a fully-realized cast, and both action-packed and emotionally charged moments, resulted in a series that is both wildly entertaining and savage. - CG