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Old 2017-01-05, 23:09   Link #1
Triple_R
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Best Pleasant Surprises of 2016

I thought it might be good to have a thread to compliment/contrast the "Most disappointing anime of 2016" thread.

While 2016 certainly had its disappointments, I think it also had a fair number of pleasant surprises. It did for me, anyway.

What I mean by "best pleasant surprises" are anime shows that you tried out with no expectations/minimal expectations and they ended up being more worthwhile than you thought they would be. This isn't for shows that you had high expectations for, and they met them or slightly exceeded them. This is for shows that you found surprisingly good given how you didn't have particularly high expectations for them going into them.

Here are 3 for me, in order from oldest to newest:

1. An no Kanata no Four Rhythm Now, some people familiar with the source material probably did have high hopes for this. But I watched it with very little foreknowledge of this property, and largely due to recommendations from friends. It ended up being one of the best sports anime shows of the year, if not the best, in my view. Be warned that the romance side of this show is fairly minimal, and so if you watch it, it's best to watch it for the flashy sports visuals and engaging competition narrative.

2. Ange Vierge I'm not going to pretend this was masterpiece theater, but I consider it's MAL rating excessively low, and I think the show might have been overly dismissed/hated due to its excessive use of bath scenes in the first episode. Whatever one thinks of the first episode, the show as a whole is a solid action sci-fi show with a strong likeable female lead and a good main cast. It has a good blend of action and comedy, and I think it would appeal a lot to most Symphogear fans. It definitely helps that Ange Vierge has a truly kickass OP, probably the best I've heard all year.

3. Flip Flappers This may well be the best of the three shows I've listed here. An amazing audiovisual treat, featuring highly imaginative settings and coolly creative conflict in its second half. The plot is almost non-existent in the first half, and fairly basic in the 2nd half, but it's reasonably competent. Which means that the tremendous strength of other elements, particularly the audiovisuals and the dynamic between the two female leads, are enough to make this a truly special anime. Another show I checked out mainly due to recommendations from friends, it ended up being a very pleasant surprise overall.
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Old 2017-01-05, 23:21   Link #2
Darthtabby
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My top pick for this one is probably Konosuba. The premise sounded terrible but it ended up being a very entertaining comedy.

I also ended up being pleasantly surprised by Musaigen no Phantom World, though I might be the opposite of a lot of people in that regard.
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Old 2017-01-06, 00:57   Link #3
Flower
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For me I will give three as well:

1. Honobono Log. Absolutely biggest surprise. I knew positively zilch about this shorts series and it was not simulcasted by anyone anywhere that I knew of, so when a fansubbed version showed up I got it on a whim and checked it out and ... REALLY liked it.

2. Kono Bujitsubu. Had read some of the manga before the adaptation and for some reason it never clicked - but the adaptation was quite engaging, and even somehow gave "color" to the previous B&W existence of the manga. A pleasant surprise!

3. Tales of Zestiria the X (pt 1). I knew absolutely nothing of the "Tales of..." franchise other than hearing a few names of some of the series here and there. I thought I would give it a try and while initially blown away/floored by ufotable's animation I found myself growing more and more interested in the setting and the characters. Was not expecting to have such a good response to it.
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Old 2017-01-06, 07:49   Link #4
SeijiSensei
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I would probably give the nod to Flying Witch with its appealing cast of characters, particularly the young girl Chinatsu and the cat familiar Chito. Children in anime are often pretty unrealistically portrayed, but not Chinatsu who seemed quite an ordinary girl excited to discover she had witches in her family. I could share her delight when she had the opportunity to ride on a broomstick.

Laid-back slice-of-life shows can become boring, but Flying Witch was always entertaining.

Fune wo Amu also qualifies for making the task of compiling a dictionary so dramatic and meaningful.
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Old 2017-01-06, 17:58   Link #5
Arya
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Definitely the one that fits the criteria for me is Hai to Gensou to Grimmgal. As I usually do, I came in with very little knowledge of the story, but I got drawn in pretty fast. The set up was nothing new but the trapped in a fantasy (MMO) world one, but the approach the show took made all the difference. It indulged greatly to a very very slow pace that gave to the viewer all the time required to felt immersed, not in the universe, but in the new lives of the protagonists (SoL-like?), who by the way were the weakest of the lot. The other major distinction from any MMO I've watched is how they handled what we could call mobs, who instead of being mobs got portrayed as living being of flesh and blood (and some even brain) with all the consequences of it. Making feel the whole thing quite realistic. A key word could be team play.

Music, art and animation complemented perfectly with the slow pace rarely leaving you any time to feel it dragged. I was very often completely absorbed into the screen with my eyes and my ears.

Having said that, this is my personal experience, the show is not flawless and it got a lot of complains about its slow pace from what I remember. From a narrative point of view there are some plot points that may feel bad timed (or even are), but that make more sense later. And the end had some complains from my part, but all in all nothing too serious.

In any case it's really, really slow. So beware
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Old 2017-01-06, 22:36   Link #6
Roxis
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Hai Gensou no Grimgar
Grimgar is my isekai hero in 2016, in the popularity isekai genre Grimgar birth brought a sharper definition for Isekai genre. Great visual animation, balanced casts, great soundtrack.
A-1 did decently to built up the plot in slow pace for the show able to deliver a good ending even though the anime only adapted 1 volume.
Mayoiga
So where the begin here.....ah right, Mayoiga......my personal guilty pleasure in 2016.
This Bizzare series is an odd fur ball which broadcasted during spring season, in the end Mayoiga remembered as very bad series.
I can't blame people to hate this for Mayoiga deserved to get all hates with how dumb the show went, yet the dumb of this show had succeed to entertained me.
As supernatural-mystery genre Mayoiga failed a lot but in Comedy and Drama Mayoiga did good job to delivered the part. I don't think to remind how many scream and rage transpired among casts because fear and misunderstanding with Speedstar as our best Drama queen

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm
I never planned a bit to watched Aokana but i forgot how i eventually watched this show which lead me enjoyed this show. Show like Aokana is not my cup of tea but rarely often passed into my list, the appear in Aokana for me is the characters and the sport.
The characters stand for cute characters design, Asuka and Misaki had succeeded to bait me into this show and sport : Flying Circus.
Flying Circus has a unique sport concept combination Quiditch of Harry Potter and Air Track from Air Gear, I'd like to play this video game version and not VN but a game specialize for this sport.

Uchuu Patrol Luluco
"Awake! Judgement Gun Morphing! Fight for Justice! Justice!"
Ooooh yeaah,if we're talking about Luluco then we definitely have to bring out our beloved Judgment Gun Meme.
Space Patrol Luluco is Trigger parody show to their avid fans with crammed over their past series TTGL, Kill La Kill Trigger into one big burger parody for anybody get. One could say Space Patrol Luluco is Trigger established mascot show with Luluco called as" Miss. Trigger" in the end series.
Despite the short duration this show had, Luluco able to delivered the plot with the aid of their random gag to justified the show pace.
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Old 2017-01-06, 22:59   Link #7
KanbeKotori
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My top 3 is

1. Kimi no Na wa
2. Natsume Yuujinchou Go
3. Zaregoto


Kimi no Na wa really caught me by surprise. I knew Shinkai works will be good but I never expected anything to be better than Kotonoha no Niwa or Byousoku 5 Centimeter. I really enjoyed the theme he brought out this time, even more than Kotonoha no Niwa. I really hope his next work will be as good but that'll be asking too much I feel. I've always enjoyed his films and Kimi no Na wa is no different.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go was another surprise. After watching Shi 4 years back I thought there would not be anymore adaptation of such a good manga but boy I was wrong. Natsume Yuujinchou Go continues the magic and soothing theme that the previous prequels always carry and I'm excited that a sequel was announced right after Go ended. Natsume Yuujinchou is probably one of the most soothing series I've ever watched.

2016 will not be good if it doesn't contain any Nisio Isin series. Zaregoto though being a once a month OVA release, still bring out how beautifully Shaft has managed all Nisio Isin LNs so far. The first episode already lands a pretty good impression of how good Nisio Isin works are. I really have high hopes for this as the first 2 episodes so far looks pretty solid and I wish this year we'll see more Nisio Isin works being adapted. Mainly the Saikyou series and Ningen series.

There are a few more, but I've decided to stop at here.
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Old 2017-01-07, 16:42   Link #8
Dawnstorm
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Thank you, Triple R, for making this thread. It's good to have balance.

For me it's the following:

Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku: I only started this show for completeness sake. I didn't like the character designs, and I'm not hot on survival game anime in general. But I did like this one. Great cinematography, and a good sense for individuating and characterising the girls made this one a stand out.

Keijo!!!!!!!!: I didn't expect to like this at all, and after the opening scene and the opening I was ready to quit on the show. But I didn't and... it was awesome. The show's completely playing the sports angle straight, it has a very likable heroine, and was generally lots of fun. (I found it petered out near the end, but the early episodes were stellar.)

ReLife: I didn't know what to expect, and the show looked rather cheap, but it turned out to be a clever and sensitive exploration of how much helping people is too much, and when you should leave them to work out things for themselves. It ended up one of my favourite shows of the year.

Shounen Maid: Of all the shows that pleasantly surprised me this year, this one takes the cake. It's the polar opposite of what I expected. I thought it would be one of thos stupid embarrassment based corss-dressing comedies. Instead it was a quiet and uplifitng show about grief. Again, one of my favourites this year.
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Old 2017-01-07, 19:25   Link #9
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Honestly it can only be Shounen Maid for me. Who could have guessed a show about a boy dressing up as a maid in his eccentric uncle's mansion would not only be heartwarming, but would end up getting a 9/10 from me.
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Old 2017-01-07, 19:30   Link #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
What I mean by "best pleasant surprises" are anime shows that you tried out with no expectations/minimal expectations and they ended up being more worthwhile than you thought they would be.
It wasn't released in 2016, but with the amount of hatred I'd seen for Sword Art Online I fully expected it to burn down my house and kick all my puppies, but it was actually pretty enjoyable.
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Old 2017-01-07, 20:40   Link #11
Jaden
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Didn't really have pleasant surprises, since I don't usually get hyped for anime before it comes out. It's rare for me to even be aware of what airs next season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnimeFangirl View Post
It wasn't released in 2016, but with the amount of hatred I'd seen for Sword Art Online I fully expected it to burn down my house and kick all my puppies, but it was actually pretty enjoyable.
Yea, I enjoyed it as well, though mostly the real-world drama arc that had little to do with the show's namesake VRMMO memes.

Gotta keep in mind that SAO is absurdly popular. Right after airing, it soared to around rank 30 on MAL, and viewership among westerners especially was just below that of the top long-running shounen series. It got a ton of praise, and the only ones saying it sucked were the few hardcore fans of the original novels, whose voices were easily drowned out.

So obviously there was a backlash. Every critic and veteran otaku had to go and analyze and review it, since they didn't really get where the popularity was coming from. This is where the internet jerk wave turned around, and it became popular to shit on the show. Now it's ranked #846, lol.
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Old 2017-01-08, 21:49   Link #12
Guardian Enzo
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It's Girlish Number all the way for me. Expected nothing, got a top 20 show in a strong year. In terms of expectations being exceeded, it wins by far.

I'm pleased to see Shounen Maid getting so many mentions, though I can't in good conscience list it myself because I read the parts of the manga that were translated and knew it was going to be good.
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Old 2017-01-09, 17:24   Link #13
Dextro
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Now here's a well worth it thread. It's pretty easy to get sidetracked and confuse a surprisingly pleasant thread with a best shows one so hopefully we can keep this on track

I think I'll join the chorus in saying that Flip Flappers and Fune wo Amu were two shows I was absolutely not expecting coming in that completely blew me away with how fast they shoot up in my priorities. Sangatsu no Lion was another but I understand that most forum goers can actually rank that one as one of the their disappointments. I think going in knowing virtually nothing about the show has made it easier for me to focus on the good bits instead of its failings.

Uchuu Patrol Luluco was also a pleasant surprise. I found out about it a bit after it aired and missed it as it came out so it was very enjoyable marathoning it at the end. As someone who has really enjoyed Studio Triggers works it was an absolute treat.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Darthtabby View Post
I also ended up being pleasantly surprised by Musaigen no Phantom World, though I might be the opposite of a lot of people in that regard.
I'll join you on that one. After reading so many people badmouthing that show I picked it up just to see how low KyoAni had gone and found a rather enjoyable show. It even managed to have some very creative visuals at times. I rank Kyoukai no Kanata far lower on my list than that show (aside from the idol episode, that was pure gold ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flower View Post
3. Tales of Zestiria the X (pt 1). I knew absolutely nothing of the "Tales of..." franchise other than hearing a few names of some of the series here and there. I thought I would give it a try and while initially blown away/floored by ufotable's animation I found myself growing more and more interested in the setting and the characters. Was not expecting to have such a good response to it.
I was also very pleasantly surprised by it and this is coming as someone who likes the Tales Of games but didn't really click with Zestiria as a game. Ufotable made fantastic work salvaging the story and adapting it to the tv screen. But, to be fair, Zestirias setting is actually rather interesting, it's just the characters and the story that they told in it that felt weak. Hopefully Besteria solves that.

I also can't recommend Tales of Vesperia enough. It's just a shame we only got it as an 360 title on the west and its impressively hard to track down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnimeFangirl View Post
It wasn't released in 2016, but with the amount of hatred I'd seen for Sword Art Online I fully expected it to burn down my house and kick all my puppies, but it was actually pretty enjoyable.
Don't let the haters get to you: SAO is still pretty solid and I very much enjoy it as well and keep buying the novels to this day.
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Old 2017-01-13, 09:38   Link #14
mweloo
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Tanaka-kun wasn't something I was expecting to like as much as I did. Neither was She and Her Cat.
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Old 2017-01-14, 01:23   Link #15
Alf
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Grimgar of Ash and Fantasy - Never expected such a dream of RPG lovers. Transforming a game world into a down to earth fantasy world with a sense of realism, and drill it down to the heart of the characters. Absolutely best pleasent surprise.

Flying Witch - Expected normal slice of life, but suprised to find that it was so well done with such peaceful tone without any drama, and topped by the sense of wonder bringing enjoyment to it's height.

Gundam: IBO - I was expecting usual Gundam twists with some good actions. But other than REALLY good actions and surprisingly brutal, it's also dealing with traditional Gundam themes from ground up rather than top down approach, and keep it throughout the series. Despite certain writing issues it's still one of the best surprise of the year.
--
Honorable mention: Flip Flappers - Not finished yet, just a few eps in but I'm already impressed by the amount of imagination put into the scenes. Without finished the series I can't really judge though.
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