The best anime of 2022, so far
The year in anime just keeps getting better.
The year 2021 was a golden year for anime, with the long-awaited comeback of long-running favorites like Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and My Hero Academia, as well as intriguing new original anime like Odd Taxi, The Heike Story, Sonny Boy, and SK8 the Infinity. 2022 is shaping up to be similar, with famous series like Mob Psycho 100 and Bleach set to return later this year. And all indicators lead to Chainsaw Man and Uzumaki making their long awaited appearances!
There’s a lot to pick from and not nearly enough time in the day to see it all, which is why we’ll be updating our list of the greatest anime running in 2022 as the seasons go throughout the year. Take a look at the greatest anime this year has to offer so far, and be sure to check back in when our list is updated! This year’s list is organized by debut date for clarity and ease.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has established itself as one of the year’s most popular original anime. The series, directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Promare) and produced by CD Projekt Red and Studio Trigger (Kill la Kill, Promare), recounts a stand-alone narrative based in the setting of Cyberpunk 2077 and Mike Pondsmith’s original TTRPG. It traces the journey of a young street kid named David Martinez from rookie greenhorn mercenary to bona fide edgerunner on the verge of becoming a legend.
With blistering action, memorable characters, clever callbacks to Cyberpunk 2077, a fantastic soundtrack, and a rich plot that expands on the promise of Night City in a way that Cyberpunk 2077 never quite did, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners isn’t just one of the best anime of the year; it may be one of Trigger’s best ever. —Egan, Toussaint
JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: STONE OCEAN (PART 2)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure returns after the fifth season premiered last year, continuing up immediately after Jolyne Cujoh’s successful effort to obtain one of the two discs required to resurrect her father, Jotaro Kujo. The second chapter of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, which consists of 12 episodes, puts Jolyne and her companions squarely in the crosshairs of the diabolical Enrico Pucci and his cadre of enemy Stand users in their attempt to revive Dio, the Joestar family’s most despised rival.
Stone Ocean Part 2 proudly carries on the series’ legacy as one of the most outlandish, gruesome, visually audacious, and conceptually adventurous action anime to come out any year, but especially in 2022, with gripping battles against necromancing gangsters, meteor-flinging security guards, and feng shui-practicing assassins. —TE
When it comes to Tekken: Bloodline, the Netflix anime version of the long-running fighting game brand, reactions are varied. The six-episode series, produced by Larx Entertainment and Studio Hibari and directed by Yoshikazu Miyao (Hellsing, Gad Guard), adapts the plot of Tekken 3, telling the story of martial artist Jin Kazama’s quest to avenge his mother’s murder by training under his ruthless grandfather, Heihachi Mishima, before competing in the King of Iron Fist Tournament.
For what it’s worth, despite its flaws, I loved my experience with the series as someone who isn’t really fond of fighting games but is fond of anime. Tekken: Bloodline is an amusing and inoffensive, if repetitious, take on one of the most lasting fighting games of all time, from the wacky characters to the powerful visual effects and action sequences. It’s a good movie to watch in the background if you want something with little plot but a lot of action. —TE
KOMI CAN’T COMMUNICATE SEASON 2
This slice-of-life anime follows Tadano, a typical high school student, who discovers that his extraordinarily gorgeous and seemingly popular classmate Komi suffers from crippling social anxiety, to the point where she can’t communicate to anybody. While everyone believes she’s a stunning and aloof ice queen, she’s actually very timid and struggles to connect with others. Tadano decides to assist Komi make 100 friends by graduation, beginning with himself.
One of the nicest aspects of Komi Can’t Communicate is that it never mocks Komi’s fears. Something as simple as ordering a coffee or asking a classmate for a pencil is a massive and terrible thing for Komi. The program is extremely kind in validating Komi’s concerns, and it provides her with the ideal buddy in Tadano, who gently supports and nudges her along so that she may finally take these steps and connect with others. Komi Can’t Communicate is a cute film that highlights the ordinary aspects of life. Komi discovers the delights of friendship and connection for the first time, and it’s just touching and helps one appreciate the small things in life.
If you’re looking for a romance, Tadano and Komi have the slowest of slow burns and the nicest friends-to-lovers, and it’s fantastic. Radulovic, Petrana
RILAKKUMA’S THEME PARK ADVENTURE
The only thing you need to know about Rilakkuma’s Theme Park Adventure is that in the second episode, the eponymous bear-suited character is unable to ride a rollercoaster because the bar would not fit over his large bear head. This one is for folks who appreciate high stakes situations like “oh no, we forgot our lunchbox on the bus!” and “dang, can we finish this stamp rally in time to earn the pancake special?”
The stunning stop-motion animated series follows the bear and his companions as they spend the day at a theme park. Rilakkuma and his companions’ physique provides a lot of the fun and charm. The small bird flies around, attempting to gather his companions. Rilakkuma charges forward, unafraid of the caution obstacles. It’s just lovely. Aside from being cute, the program is a great exercise in animation, with certain portions changing the style to represent flashbacks or people narrating stories. It’s one of the most aesthetically appealing programs available. —PR
THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE: SIÚIL, A RÚN
The Girl From the Other Side, first published as a feature-length original animation DVD (OAD) and then re-edited as a three-episode short series available on streaming, recounts the narrative of Shiva, a tiny girl abandoned in a wilderness populated with “cursed” monsters. The girl is discovered and adopted by a mysterious human-like beast known as “Teacher,” who continues to look for a method to reunite her with the rest of her species.
The Girl From the Other Side is a stunning tale brought to life through magnificent expressionist-style animation filled with watercolor colours, wispy outlines, and gorgeous subdued earth tones. It is a shortened version of Nagabe’s 2015 Gothic fantasy manga. If you’re seeking for a short animation that can dazzle your senses while also touching your heart, The Girl From the Other Side is a must-see. —TE
UNCLE FROM ANOTHER WORLD
Uncle From Another World tells the narrative of Takafumi Takaoka, a young man who cares for his unkempt 34-year-old uncle, who has miraculously awakened from a 17-year coma, in a fiendishly ingenious variation on the genre of isekai (see: “other world”) fantasy. The twist: Takafumi’s uncle was mentally transferred to a mythical realm of monsters and magic for over two decades, perfecting his skills as a great fighter before being swept back to the ordinary reality of modern-day Japan with his magical talents intact.
Takafumi must now help his uncle adjust to a strange, inhospitable world where Sega has lost the console wars while making a living as a YouTuber performing dazzling feats of supernatural prowess for the amusement of bored shitposters worldwide, with the help of his childhood friend Sumika and his uncle’s old comrades. Uncle From Another World is one of the year’s most memorable anime comedy, being irreverent, imaginative, and surprisingly well-animated at times. —TE
TOKYO MEW MEW NEW
Tokyo Mew Mew New is a modernized and shortened version of the 2002 magical girl hit. Ichigo Momomiya, a young girl, transforms into an alien-fighting magical girl after being injected with the DNA of an Iriomote wildcat. She must deal with invading aliens while juggling her love life and hidden identity with four other ladies (who were also given endangered species DNA).
While the plot may not appear to be especially novel, the original Tokyo Mew Mew helped pioneer the magical girl genre and is now considered a classic. What’s not to appreciate about beautifully designed anime females, a lovely café atmosphere, and a love triangle between the high school heartthrob and the invading alien? It’s the ideal program for remembering your childhood Saturday mornings (but without the annoying English dubs and name alterations). Juliette Lee
Lycoris Recoil, directed by first-time series writer-director Shingo Adachi, noted for his work as a character designer on Sword Art Online, and produced by A-1 Pictures, follows Takina Inoue, a high school girl who works as a member of an elite all-female assassin group known as Lycoris. Takina is sent to one of Lycoris’ hidden outposts — a small café called LycoReco — to work with Chisato Nishikigi, an indefatigably bubbly Lycoris operative known for her tremendous combat prowess and contradictory dislike to killing. Together, they do odd tasks and contracts around Tokyo for the café, all while becoming closer as they formulate a strategy to have Takina reinstated.
Lycoris Recoil is a prime example of the “moe girls with guns” anime subgenre, similar to Gunsmith Cats and Gunslinger Girl, and what it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in plentiful laughs, blistering shootouts, impressive character animation, and a strong central dynamic between its two protagonists that keeps the action moving. Lycoris Recoil stands out as one of, if not the, standout original title of the 2022 summer anime season. —TE
SPY X FAMILY
Despite only four episodes, Spy x Family’s premiere season is already shaping up to be one of the finest anime of 2022. The episode features Loid Forger, a spy entrusted with carrying out a top-secret operation to prevent the head of the National Unity Party from jeopardizing peace talks between two neighboring countries. His strategy is to meet the political leader at a super-elite primary school and get close to him. The only difficulty is that Loid is a bachelor.
Enter Anya, his adoptive daughter, and Yor, his new wife. While the two are unaware of Loid’s true identity, they each have their own secrets. Yor is an assassin, and Anya is a telepath who can read minds. The narrative begins with the family living under the same roof, everyone struggling to preserve the family facade while juggling their own secrets.
Anya is the show’s emotional and humorous center. The small, pink-haired child’s sincerity (and, to be honest, pure idiocy) unites the program in a sequence of endearing character moments. Anya exclaims, “I’m so delighted!” after realizing Yor actually murders people for a career. Despite her goofier moments, Anya comes off as a girl who just wants to be loved. It’s humorous, it’s lovely, and the program has given a much-needed distraction from the world’s problems. —AD
KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR -ULTRA ROMANTIC-
Kaguya-sama: Love is War’s premise still seems new after three seasons. Kaguya-sama follows class president Miyuki Shirogane and vice president Kaguya Shinomiya, two ambitious, proud, and clever students who decide to play a game in which they convince the other person to declare romantic emotions. The only problem is that they both fell head over heals love each other along the road and now refuse to be the first to budge. The laughter rises as the group expands, with colorful characters like perky Fujiwara, gaming loner Ishigami, and goody-two-shoes Miko, to mention a few.Every week, Kaguya-sama manages to outdo itself in terms of pure secondhand discomfort, and every week, this transforms from something devastatingly cringey into something incredibly meaningful. Shinomiya and Shirogane’s romantic relationship remains central, but the friendships between all of the student council members and the other individuals in their life become just as intriguing and poignant. —PR
YA BOY KONGMING!
Ya Boy Kongming! is the narrative of Zhuge Liang Kongming, a third-century Chinese politician and strategist who desires to be reincarnated in a more peaceful time on his deathbed. When Kongming wakes up in an alley in present-day Shibuya on Halloween night, he has gotten more than he bargained for. Kongming, who believes he is in hell, is enticed to enter a nightclub by a pair of partygoers, where he meets Eiko Tsukimi, a part-time bartender and aspiring singer. Kongming, moved to tears by the beauty of her singing voice and unsure what to do with his new life, agrees to become Eiko’s manager and use his famous talents as a military strategist to assist nurture her little daughter.
So far, every episode of Ya Boy Kongming! has been a blast. Kongming demonstrates himself a competent manager and decision-maker, from exploiting old military stratagems to attract new audiences and foil unscrupulous competitors to attracting reluctant friends with his freestyle rap talents. The core of the show’s appeal is witnessing its protagonists unite through their common love of music, as well as the gut-busting hilarity of Kongming adapting to contemporary life while being several centuries behind. Not to mention the series’ meme-worthy title track, a Japanese rendition of the Hungarian pop song “Bulikirály,” which is a great bop in addition to being wonderfully drawn. —TE
Between the mysterious underground game that Tomodachi Game’s kids are drawn into, the capitalistic debt that keeps them playing, and the life or death stakes that bind each episode, it’s easy (too simple) to connect this to Squid Game. However, whereas the latter deals with economic worry, the former essentially utilizes it as a stick. The buddy group is originally duped into playing a few rounds of the “tomodachi game” with the enticing promise that doing so will help one of their pals get out of debt. But after a few episodes, it’s evident that the core currency of Tomodachi Game isn’t yen, but friendship. And a lot of secrets come with that companionship.
Tomodachi Game’s animation isn’t very impressive, and its tempo might be perplexing. It’s the sort of anime that makes you want to read the manga simply to find out where the heck this plot is headed. It’s enticing if you’re anything like me — helplessly inquisitive for the drama that comes with people ping-ponging off each other. Where can all of these really hot threads lead? There is nothing nice, and I cannot wait. —ZM
If we were going through a year that felt interminably bleak, one could be thankful for a program like Healer Girl out there in the cosmos. Yasuhiro Irie (who also helmed Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the GOAT) directed the original anime, which follows three teenage ladies studying to be “voice medicine” healers. They heal their patients’ diseases via the power of specifically composed tunes.
In my anime rotation, Healer Girl fills a similar role. It’s modest, enclosed, nutritious, and welcoming. While that may not be the precise selling point that everyone is looking for in their shjo adventures, believe that the show’s art direction is rich in its own right. Irie’s eye is trained to find the most expressive viewpoints in any given situation, skilfully switching between tiny details and a broader perspective. With beautiful, wonderful singing montages set to fresh bops in each episode, Healer Girl is an easy (and necessary) charm in a terrible, brutal world. —Zoe Millman
THE ORBITAL CHILDREN
Dennou Coil director Mitsuo Iso returns with The Orbital Children, a six-episode animation (distributed in Japan as two feature-length films) follows the narrative of five children stuck onboard a commercial space station on the verge of a catastrophic calamity. Iso and company create a coming-of-age drama that takes the lives of five unknowing youngsters and throws them on the brink of humanity’s expansion into the wide unknown of space through a dizzying tapestry of sophisticated world-building brought to life through stunning animation. It’s a superb animation with complex, stunning graphics that rewards both first-time and repeat viewers. —TE
RANKING OF KINGS
Ranking of Kings is a fantasy series in which kings are judged by their actions and, more crucially, their power. Enter Bojji, a little, kind-hearted youngster who is next in line to succeed his ill father, the king. Bojji is physically weak and struggles to talk, therefore he communicates mostly via sign language. Where his attributes may be lacking in contrast to more traditional leaders, he makes up for it with his heart. He basically pulls the shirt off his back for someone in need in the first episode.
Bojji is one of the most emotive and engaging anime characters I’ve ever seen on screen. Ranking of Kings elevates even the most mundane situations, making a non-lethal spar between Bojji and his half brother appear more meaningful than a combat between gods. He is the ideal protagonist because his little stature and feeling of wonder make a vast fantasy world filled by golems, wizards, and giants feel all the more spectacular. Bojji is far from the only memorable character. Along with him is his buddy, Kage, the lone survivor of a once-persecuted clan, and his half brother Daida, who is struggling to discover a path to power that seems authentic to him.
Because I would die for Bojji, the ranking of Kings works. This series, however, is more than just an underdog narrative. Based on Sosuke Toka’s manga, the anime has all the elements of a classic fantasy series: interesting monsters, magical and dark magic, royal intrigue, and an adventure that brings a young boy to the depths of hell. So far, it’s an excellent series that I can’t recommend highly enough. Ana Diaz,
MY DRESS-UP DARLING
Wakana Gojo and Marin Kitagawa, both high school students, have unusual hobbies: Gojo enjoys making hina dolls (traditional Japanese dolls), while Marin is more into anime and gaming, with a penchant for cosplay. Marin, a joyful girl dressed in gyaru fashion, begs Gojo to use his crafting abilities to assist her in making her costume, and so a beautiful partnership is formed. Marin’s exuberant and compassionate nature, along with Gojo’s reserved-but-determined demeanor, provides for an intriguing partnership that deviates from the typical pairing of a gyaru lady and a quiet male (in which the gyaru girl simply teases the boy relentlessly while hiding her own feelings for him).Marin certainly loves about Gojo and isn’t intentionally hurting or stressing him out, even if he does end up becoming embarrassed when taking her measurements. My Dress-Up Darling has an unsettling amount of fan service, making me unclear whether I can truly recommend it, but the tale itself is so refreshing that I couldn’t leave it out of my list. —JL
ATTACK ON TITAN FINAL SEASON PART 2
Attack on Titan’s last season may be the most divisive anime on this year’s best-of list. Much has been said and written about the Attack on Titan manga’s closing chapters, from author Hajime Isayama’s implied pro-Imperialist attitudes to the series’ unsettling metaphorical connections to real-life historical horrors. Given these concerns, it’s natural to wonder why Attack on Titan is on this list.
The explanation is simple: directors Jun Shishido and Yuichiro Hayashi, as well as studio MAPPA, have taken a difficult and contentious finale and crafted the finest possible animation rendition of it (across 22 episodes). The season’s 20th and 21st episodes alone likely rate as one of the most stunning disclosures of any anime in recent memory, portrayed through some of the series’ most apocalyptic visuals to date.
Nothing like being a part of a Big Anime Event, when everyone seems to be watching (and discussing) each new development in the series’ unfolding climax right with you. Despite its imperfections, the final season of Attack on Titan symbolizes not only the climax of one of the most significant anime of the last decade, but also unquestionably qualifies as one of the must-watch anime events of 2022. —TE
DEMON SLAYER: KIMETSU NO YAIBA ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT ARC
Demon Slayer returns with more stakes after the honestly horrific Mugen Train Arc. The Entertainment District Arc follows teenage hero Tanjiro and his pals Inosuke and Zenitsu as they pursue flamboyant Uzui, the Sound Hishara, as he goes undercover in the Entertainment District to sniff out a monster hidden in the midst. This arc begins with more deception than the average Demon Slayer episode, as Tanjiro and his pals disguise themselves as courtesans in order to discover where the strong demon is hidden. The climactic battle consumes the majority of the arc, a catastrophic conflict between the Demon Slayers and not one, but two formidable demons. It’s all beautifully animated, with twists and turns and, most heartbreakingly, a brother-sister parallel between Tanjiro and Nezuko.