The Best Scenes of TV Anime 2016

I’ll be publishing my list of my favorite TV anime of the year after I finish up with a couple of final shows, but while we wait for that to happen, I thought I’d share some of the great individual scenes that stayed with me this year. Some of these are from shows that will inevitably be on my year-end list; some are not. Regardless, they all made an impression on me for various reasons, and I wanted to share them with you!

Concrete Revolutio

1. The Rain Scene (Konobi #10)

Honestly, it’s pretty hard to pick out a single scene from among Konobi‘s trademark sunset-washed sketches, because they’re all really great (enough so that they were part of the inspiration for an entire post). But among them, the standout is what I’ve come to affectionately call “The Rain Scene” from episode 10. These scenes are all a treat of audio-visual harmony, but this stand-out catches my attention most because of its utter simplicity. The story affectations are limited, and so instead it’s the craft of Kei Oikawa’s lighting choices, Ryo Araki’s lovely character animation, Gin’s music, and Nao Touyama’s cheerful vocal performance carry the whole scene in unison—and with significant charm.

2. Princess Moa (Show by Rock!! #2)

These days, it takes a lot to really drop my jaw when I’m watching anime, but this season such a moment came from a rather unexpected show, at a rather unexpected time.

Moa’s been my favorite character in Show by Rock!! since the show’s first season, her radiant smile, pyurus, and general cheerfulness in all situations winning me over. In season two, however, we found out she was also a space princess, and in a moment that was not telegraphed even in the slightest, she suddenly appeared dressed in her royal clothes—complete with shoujo sparkles everywhere.

I literally paused the episode and walked around my apartment for a few minutes, I was so overwhelmed. With some simple magic, Show by Rock!! managed to completely convey to me the sense of surprise Moa’s friends displayed after seeing her like this. It was just so abrupt, and with her being my favorite character, there was a whole different level of joy to it—something like, “Yeah. She should be a princess.” Except more excited.

3. Allen and Lenalee’s Final Talk (D.Gray Man Hallow #11)

D.Gray Man Hallow was a miracle existence all on its own, but having it being emotionally devastating after not having watched any of it for three years and barely remembering most of the prior plot beyond vague outlines was more than I could have hoped for. And Kanda and Alma Karma’s arc aside, the real heartwringers in D.Gray Man for me have always rested with Allen. Allen’s just such a solid protagonist for this show, torn between two worlds, loyalties, his painful past and painful present—and handling it all with such grace and kindness. His friendship with Lenalee, as well, has always been a core part of the experience for me, so to see them embrace each other before Allen leaves Lenalee heartbroken over his departure was just… a bittersweet reward for the time spent.

D.Gray Man Hallow

4. Aqua in the Cage (Konosuba #5)

I’d liked Aqua for most of Konosuba up until this episode, but it was with episode five that I really felt like her character was finally expanded for me to truly understand—and, as you all know, I sort of found myself in her excitement about finding a quest that was perfect for her and the ensuing disaster.

“The world outside the cage is scary.”

But, I think it’s also important that I note it wasn’t just Aqua’s despair inside the cage that resonated with me. Sure, the existential dread of the world is something I feel rather acutely now and again, but it was the rapidity of her recovery upon being reminded by Kyouya that she’s a goddess. “That’s right! I’m a goddess!” she exclaims, and suddenly the world is bright again. The sudden recovery, the instant filling of the (possibly unfounded) self-esteem hit points is something I relate to as well. I’d never seen anything like that in anime before, and it’s stuck with me the entire year.

5. Welcome to Walküre World (Macross Delta #1)

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the preview special episode (the first 0.89 of the real first episode) of Macross Delta. I only know that it was many. The whole episode is one long ride of excitement and joy for me, and while picking out a specific moment out of all that Macross-y goodness is difficult, I don’t know if there’s anything more iconic to me that Freyja hearing Mikumo humming in the face of a war and the Walkure descending from the sky. It helps, too, that “Love! Halation the War” is the best song to come out of Delta (and is one of the franchise’s all-time bests, for that matter), and that’s ultimately what pushes this moment just ahead of war goddess Mikumo bursting from the rubble to the introductory horns of “Ikenai Borderline.” It’s showtime!

6. Encouraging an Idol (New Game! #12)

Speaking of characters who hit an unusually poignant personal note with me, insecure supervisor Kou from New Game! is one that really stands out for me. If Aqua was a character who resonated with a darkly interior part of me, then Kou is something more like the outward professional part of me—the part that does its full-time job well, is friendly and cheerful to coworkers and customers alike, and is also plagued by self-doubt. Thankfully, I’m not having to supervise a team like Kou yet, but I’m no longer a newbie like Aoba either. And so, Aoba’s affirmation of Kou in New Game!‘s finale felt rather like an affirmation of me. Sure, Kou and I are just kind of muddling through our responsibilities the best we can, but we’re doing a pretty good job!

New Game!

7. Superhumans for Children (Concrete Revolutio: THE LAST SONG #5)

You could probably fill a list like this with moments from Concrete Revolutio—it’s just that kind of show. But out of all those episodes, episode 5 is one that stands out in particular for its take on superhumans and children. Although Conrevo is constantly battering the idea the good and evil are mutually distinct categories, it also values the innocent worldview of those who don’t know any better: in particular, children. The Human-man’s quest to be a superhuman for his daughter and Jiro’s decision to protect that quest, to protect the child’s belief in the purity of righteousness, are powerful affirmations of value of children as our moral compasses. Even if we can’t truly be the heroes of justice they deserve, we can still fight to uphold their innocence as something good in and of itself.

8. Camping Out in an Abandoned City  (Regalia #8)

I’ve mentioned this sequence briefly before, but in episode  of Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars, there’s a respite amidst all the robots fighting when four of the characters—Yui, Rena, Sara, and Tia—all find themselves in the empty city of Rimgrade and wind up having a little campout inside an abandoned camping goods store. There, they do all the things you normally do with camping with friends, they have a fire, cook some food, and talk and laugh together. You might argue that the serenity and coziness of this scene is misplaced in the midst of the rest of Regalia‘s plot, but taking a break just to let the moment breathe is something emblematic of what I found so delightful about this show. We can have good robots and quiet friendship in one show; thanks, Regalia.

Regalia

9. “Go! My Racing, Scorching Heart!” (Scorching Ping Pong Girls #10)

Am I cheating, using this quote again? If I am, I don’t care, because I just can’t let this moment go. Rather like the first video in this post, I never seem to get sick of rewatching this clip. Over and over and over again, it never gets old. In emotional terms, the end to Koyori and Kururi’s match is Takkyu Musume‘s peak, but it’s also just an absolute triumph of animation adrenaline between the pumping EDM soundtrack, the fiery animation, and all the yelling. And don’t even get be started on the genius of using the baseball bat sound effect for Koyori hitting the sweet spot on her paddle—in the midst of all the other noise, it rings out like a bell over a din and you know it’s perfect.

13 thoughts on “The Best Scenes of TV Anime 2016

  1. Working on a list while still on my first cup of coffee… on the theory that if it sticks in my head why I’m still partially befogged, that shows it actually is a memorable moment.

    In no particular order:

    The Goblin Howls Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Episode 2

    The moment when the main characters realize they actually must kill to survive – and their targets (victims?) are living breathing people who don’t want to die. Especially chilling in retrospect given the show’s larger themes of life, death, and grieving. While our characters do harden toward the goblins, especially after Manato’s death, kudos to the production staff for consistently portraying the goblins as more than just redshirts.

    Satoru meets Kayo in the present day Erased Episode 11

    Yeah, overall Erased was flawed and never really recovered plot-wise from it’s mid season stumble… but it had a number of well done scenes despite that. It was actually hard to pick an individual memorable moment as there were several over the run of the show. (I almost included the breakfast scene from ep 8 too… And then there’s the “Christmas Tree” scene.)

    The Cliffhanger Sound Euphonium 2 Episode 5

    The whole sequence was so effectively done my wife and I found ourselves leaning and rooting for Kitauji even though we knew how it was going to play out. When they cut to the ED after the band’s performance, without giving the results… the tension in our living room could practically be cut with a knife. (Not in a small part because, as they did in the finale of the first season, they brilliantly used the band members watching from the wings as an audience surrogate.)

    Second cup of coffee in hand, I’m content to leave it at that. There’s plenty of other scenes from other shows that I remember, but that I don’t think rise to the level of memorable. (Otherwise, this entry could ramble on much, much longer.)

    One thing that kept bubbling to the top of my mind, and show I kept trying to find scenes for…. AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue, which shares the same ‘competition is all about the fun and love of the game’ mindset that Scorching Ping Pong Girls presents.

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    • The Christmas tree scene from ERASED is probably my brightest memory of it. I think I was kind of out of it by the time the breakfast scene rolled around…

      The goblin fight’s another good one, although some of the more melancholic or serene stuff from Grimgar probably win out for me there.

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    • I hadn’t seen Euponium 2 yet when Bless put this post up, but I’ve been catching up on it the last few days, and I’m glad I waited so I could watch it at my own pace. Episode 5 was brilliant, maybe the best of the series in toto, but the best moments for me in that show (so far, with two episodes left) have been the end of episode 9 and Kumiko on the train in episode 10. Both were really moving scenes, and I don’t think either could have possibly been presented any better.

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      • Oh, the last two eps… swoon.

        The two scenes, at camp and at the canal, with Asuka playing are indeed awesome. I still don’t like her very much, but I do understand her now.

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  2. Good choices from Konosuba and Delta, the only two shows on your list that I watched. Keeping in mind that if I have to think about it too hard, it probably wasn’t that memorable, these are the ones I saw that immediately jump out in my memory.

    Late Summer Festival Tabi Machi Late Show Episode 3

    The third episode of Tabi Machi Late Show, a story of two children going to their local bon festival together, was easily the best of the series anyway, but what elevated it to something truly memorable was its ending, which was poignant and bittersweet in a way that I never saw coming. Unfortunately I can’t say anything else without spoilers, but out of everything I watched this year, this is definitely one of the first moments I immediately come back to.

    Chika is tired of their shenanigans Love Live Sunshine Episode 9

    After nine episodes of the third years’ drama, Chika’s finally had enough of it, marching right into their classroom to break up a fight between Mari and Kanan and ordering all three of them, at the top of her lungs, to come to idol club after school. Seniors though they may be, they can only meekly submit to her orders like scolded children. This was a side of Chika that the viewers hadn’t seen up to this point, but it turned out to be an important catalyst for the older girls to finally start being honest with each other, and it was also the moment for me when Chika’s character started to come into her own and show why she really deserved the “leader” mantle beyond just being the person who started Aqours.

    The Whale Flying Witch Episode 11

    I could have picked several moments from this series, but to me no single moment totally encapsulates Flying Witch’s wonderful blend of the mundane and the magical better than the breathtaking sight of that enormous whale swimming through the air. And it really is nothing more or less than a whale (albeit one that’s big enough to carry the ruins of an ancient civilization on its back), yet at the same time it’s such a remarkable sight that even the witches, who are used to strange and unusual things, will go out of their way to see it. The visuals here are among the show’s best, and the character reactions completely sell the wonder of the scene.

    Attack of the killer…cabbages? Konosuba Episode 3

    Aqua’s cage scene was great too, but the cabbage harvest scene in ep 3 was the moment when I completely fell in love with this series and just let myself surrender to wherever it wanted to take me from then on. I remember doubling over in laughter as soon as that swarm of cabbages revealed itself, and the sheer absurdity of the whole scene coupled with Kazuma’s pitch-perfect straight-man reactions (“I didn’t come to a parallel world to fight cabbage”) was the stuff of comedy gold.

    Maybe I was wrong Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV

    Gladio is assigned to train the child Prince Noctis in swordfighting, and train him he does, almost every single day. He also doesn’t have a very high opinion of the Prince, considering him lazy, selfish, and unworthy to inherit the throne. But in my favorite scene from this OVA, when Gladio’s sister could have been in some very serious trouble, Noctis lies to the King to protect her and willingly takes the punishment for her mistake instead, which forces Gladio to look at Noctis in a whole new light. Not only does it lay a firm foundation for the beginning of their near-unbreakable friendship as adults in the future, it’s also a gentle reminder to the viewer that no matter how much time you spend with someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know them as well as you think you do, especially if you’ve already passed judgment in your mind.

    Asuka gets caged Aokana Episode 8

    Late in ep. 8, our main heroine Asuka volunteers to play a practice match against Saki Inui, one of the world’s top Flying Circus players. It’s a clash of opposites, as Asuka’s free-flying, creative style of play meets Saki’s “Birdcage” tactic, a rigid system designed entirely to control, corral, and exhaust the opposing player. In a one-sided beatdown, Saki thoroughly dominates the match from start to finish, reducing the normally happy-go-lucky Asuka to helpless tears by the time it’s over. What made this moment memorable to me was how frustrating (in a good way) it was to watch. From what’s supposed to be “just” practice, it was obvious from early on that Saki and her manager Irina aren’t just trying to win, but to completely break Asuka’s spirit. Irina, especially, is so smug and condescending that I wanted to punch her in the face by the time the episode was over, and as a setup for the climax it was perfect because I couldn’t wait to see those two get their comeuppance after this.

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    • I tried to think of a scene from Flying Witch, but just couldn’t… But the whale sequence certainly fits the bill and then some.

      I also tried to think of a scene for Aokana, but I had the opposite problem – I couldn’t narrow it down. Interestingly enough, both of my final candidates also involved Irina… The first was the scene where she wonders “what that feeling is” – when she was learning from Asuka that FC was more than just crushing your opponents. (Wonderfully played out in the finale too!) The second is the scene where Misaki and Shindo meet at the bus stop, and she learns why his spirit wasn’t broken (as hers was) after his crushing defeat at Irina’s hands. (Partly his professional attitude, partly because he truly loves the game regardless of the outcome.)

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      • Either of those would’ve been a good choice. The other two I considered both involved best girl Misaki. One was the scene where she realizes that Shindo had been holding himself back against her when she lost to him, and you can see her heart plummeting right down to her toes as the truth sinks in that she’s nowhere near as close to his level as she thought. The other was her semifinal match against Saki, where it was so satisfying to see her redeem herself with how well she played, even if she ultimately came up short. But neither of those moments provoked the same intensity of emotional reaction from me that I got from the end of ep 8.

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        • I think that’s why I ultimately didn’t choose any moments from either show… I ended up (by whatever route) thinking more in terms of gut punch moments and big reveals. As much as I like Aokana, and there were emotional moments, none of them had that type of ‘big’ impact.

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    • I think that episode nine scene is where I finally decided I really liked Chika, instead of just sort of liking her. It’s good stuff.

      As for Flying Witch, it’s the Makoto first taking flight on the broom that really stuck with me most from that show. Superb execution of such a little moment.

      Neat reading about the others ones on your list from shows I didn’t end up watching, too!

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  3. Thanks for the list and I hoped the videos were subbed 🙂 I think scenes from other series should be on your list too like “Izetta the last witch” or Haikyuu which in my opinion had some good scenes.

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