2022 was an excellent year for anime fans. The year brought great adaptations from well-loved manga and saw continuations of fan-favourite shows with new seasons. And, of course, we also can’t forget the unexpected gems that have emerged throughout the year!
With so many choices of shows, it’s hard to know where to start. So to help, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite anime from 2022 that you shouldn’t miss.
Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc
After the emotional brilliance of Season 1’s episode 19 and the raw visual feast of the Mugen Train movie, making a follow-up would have been seen as a difficult task for the second season of Demon Slayer. Still, Ufotable studio has again proven why they have earned their reputation as one of the top animation studios for anime.
Following the film’s events, Tanjiro Kamado, Zenitsu Agatsuma, and Inosuke Hashibira accompany the Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui to the Yoshiwara red-light district — he initially sent his three wives to investigate the demonic presence in the area but has mysteriously lost contact with them. While infiltrating the famous entertainment district, they face their most brutal battle; encountering an Upper-Rank demon from the Twelve Kizuki.
The Entertainment District Arc is Demon Slayer’s best showing yet. The series thus far has been known for its epic showpieces but is a little disjointed. However, this arc is an excellent tight package, showcasing great character moments, plot developments, and of course, action. Talking about the action, we experience the best fight animation from the series yet, particularly at the latter end of the season. It is a show that keeps you on the edge of your seat every minute.
If you’ve somehow still have yet to see Demon Slayer, Season 2’s Entertainment District Arc brings more than enough reason to get into the series. A masterpiece for action, it is no surprise to see why it has become so popular. If you want to get in on the hype, the show is available on Netflix and Bilibili.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – Ultra Romantic
For modern rom-com shows, Kaguya-sama has reigned supreme in recent years with its refreshing take on the genre coupled with memorable characters. Season 3, also dubbed Ultra Romantic, continues to showcase the series’ best elements.
The student council team of Miyuki Shirogane, Kaguya Shinomiya, Chika Fujiwara, Yu Ishigami, and Miko Ino return; once again bringing the antics. The mind games from the tsundere duo of Miyuki and Kaguya continue as they race to get the other to confess their love, this time seeing a climatic finale. Fan-favourite Ai Hayasaka also gets some love with additional insight into her character as Kaguya’s unconventional personal assistant.
While the comedy remains seriously funny, it is also incredibly refreshing to see Kaguya-sama be able to culminate its main storyline in such a satisfying fashion. After all, it’s rare we see a rom-com anime last this long.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – Ultra Romantic can be watched at Bilibili.
BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War
For old-school fans, it certainly feels as though it has been a thousand years, but the wait is now over — Bleach is back, baby, and it is even better than ever.
BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War focuses on the series’ final arc, with Kurosaki Ichigo thrust into a new war between the Shinigami and the Quincies, beings once thought to be nearly eradicated. They invade Soul Society under the leadership of Yhwach, intent on destroying it.
A decade has passed since the original show ended, and the return of Bleach in this adaptation of the final arc sees an improvement in all aspects visually. Now unhindered from needing to adhere to the manga’s schedule, Studio Pierrot has been able to go all out, and the result shows. Thousand-Year Blood War showcases a new distinct visual style, bringing more detail to the world. The action animation has also taken a significant step up, with the fight between Head Captain Yamamoto and Yhwach being a particularly spectacular highlight.
Suffice it to say, the show’s return has been a cathartic experience for long-time fans who have longed to see the explosive final story be animated. And it has exceeded everyone’s expectations with its visual upgrade. So if you’re an old viewer who has yet to be aware that Bleach has returned, you can watch it now on Netflix and Bilibili.
Summer Time Rendering
We’ve sung the praises of many action shounen shows here — after all, this year has been a particularly defining period for the genre — but now we want to give a shout-out to a show which has been one of the surprises of the year, Summer Time Rendering.
The story follows Shinpei Ajiro as he returns to his hometown of Hitogashima Island. While this may seem like a happy reunion, it is a sombre one — arriving to attend the funeral of his childhood friend Ushio Kofune. However, Shinpei soon realises that her death wasn’t as accidental as it appears, with something more sinister at play.
Summer Time Rendering is a mystery show that pulls you in from the first minute. It leads along with small clues with its narrative, but once you think you’ve got it all pieced together, it brings another twist to the formula. Every episode is an absolute ride that further adds to the story’s suspense. And it would not have worked had it not been for the characters; Shinpei has agency and makes realistic decisions as he works out what is happening.
It is a shame that Summer Time Rendering isn’t as talked about as it should be since only one streaming service currently has it. But you can help change that by heading to Disney+ to watch it.
Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2
When Attack on Titan premiered in 2013, few would have thought that it would give so much intrigue for its narrative. The Final Season Part 2 is the climax of a political storyline that is years in the making and a jaw-dropping one for those who have been following since day one.
The season picks up immediately from Part 1, which sees Eren Jaeger preparing to face off against Reiner Braun and the advancing Marleyan army with his Titan. Without spoiling too much of Part 2, the season presents many shocking revelations about the story and its characters and sets up a thrilling conclusion to the series.
Part 1 was admittedly an appetiser in which they used the time to set up the new characters and location, but it has paid dividends for the biggest moments of Part 2 by giving them greater impact. Studio MAPPA has also shrugged off the rust of taking over as the lead animation studio, with the animation quality more consistent this season.
With Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2, the series is shaping up to be a modern classic. Few series have done drama as well as the show has done, and certainly not within a world set amongst weird man-eating giants. You can catch the season on Netflix and Bilibili.
Bocchi the Rock!
As soon as we watched the first episode of this show, we immediately knew that we had to include this here. Bocchi the Rock! tells the story of Hitori “Bocchi” Goto, who suffers from pretty extreme social anxiety. She takes up the guitar to try and make friends during middle school, but to no avail. She does, however, end up excelling at the guitar along the way.
Determined to make friends properly in high school, she brings her guitar to school but once again stumbles. Close to becoming a shut-in, a meeting with Nijika Ijichi — a drummer in a kessoku band — invites her to fill in for their runaway guitarist, which changes her high school life for the better.
The show has many comedic scenes that had us laughing out loud; Bocchi the Rock shows what social anxiety can feel like in animation form, making the show more relatable and enjoyable. All these factors meant that the show had to be on this list.
Oh, and we can’t forget the songs and how they got us bopping our heads along to them. They all have a different tune but at the same time, vibey nonetheless. So please listen to them below!
To catch up on Hitori’s band adventures, you can head over to Bilibili or add it to your watchlist on Netflix, where the series will land on 10 March 2023.
Call of the Night
Like Bocchi the Rock!, Call of the Night (or Yofukashi no Uta) was one show that felt like it came out of nowhere. But it has been a pleasant surprise amidst a year with so many heavy hitters.
The story centres on Yamori Kou, an insomniac who has a habit of sneaking out at night due to his inability to sleep. During one late-night outing, he meets the vampire Nazuna, who suddenly offers to help Kou with his insomnia. Slowly, bit by bit, he starts to fall for her.
While it may seem like a typical romcom, Call of the Night also touches on other themes, such as friendship and narcissism, to name a few; the show positively subverts the genre and is ideal for watching while sitting back and relaxing.
To top it all off, the songs from the show were also a great bop! Just ask the 17 million people who have watched the official music video of the ending song. Overall, this show proved an excellent watch for us and deservedly earned its place on our list.
My Dress-Up Darling
If there’s anything that we’ve learnt from watching anime, it would be never to underestimate the power of simps. In a season where so many big-name shows were coming out, few would’ve expected a romcom to rank among the top shows for the season, but one waifu was simply too powerful.
My Dress-Up Darling tells the story of Wakana Gojo, a bang-average high school kid who, largely down to the influence of his Grandfather, has a secret hobby of making Hina Dolls. Marin Kitagawa on the other hand, is a socialite, constantly surrounded by people and is typically seen as the life of the party.
The two are seemingly from two different worlds, but they are set to collide in a unique way. Marin accidentally discovers Gojo’s skills at using the sewing machine and confesses her love for cosplaying, enlisting Gojo’s help to make cosplay outfits together. As they work together to bring Marin’s character role-plays to life, the show delves into the growth and development of the relationship between the pair, where Marin eventually starts to fall for Gojo.
So how exactly does this entail a spot on this list? It’s because of the cute interactions between Marin and Gojo and how, more than anything, Marin is a force to be reckoned with as a character. Radiating extroverted energy, she lights up nearly every scene.
You can catch the show over on Bilibili, and who knows? You may become a fan of Marin as we did.
Sports anime have been rather popular in recent times, with notable names such as Haikyuu!!, Kuroko no Basket, and Yuri on Ice usually popping to mind. But the lack of good football anime was a glaring hole waiting to be filled. Enter Aoashi.
Ao Ashi is about Ashito Aoi, a football player from a rural town. Known as the star player of his local school’s football team, he initially comes across as a self-centred and unpredictable player (not that he was trying to hide it). However, during a crucial match for the team, Ashito loses his temper and is sent off, which means his team was eliminated with his absence.
However, all hope was not lost as Tatsuya Fukuda, the youth team coach at Tokyo City Esperion FC, approached Ashito after the game to invite him for tryouts in Tokyo after sensing some potential in him. From there, Ashito begins to mature, from wanting to become the centre of attention by scoring all the goals to working together with the team as a cog in the machine.
The show as a whole is a slow-burner, particularly with it being 24 episodes long. But it is an engaging watch and will keep you occupied for long hours should you decide to binge-watch it in one sitting. So good was this show that we needed to read the manga afterwards as it details the ups and downs of being a football player and the struggles of going professional.
Next up on our list is another of MAPPA’s highly anticipated shows for 2022 – Chainsaw Man. Much was expected of a show adapting one of the most popular manga series globally, and fans were understandably excited to see their favourite characters get animated.
Chainsaw Man is about Denji, a teenage boy saddled by his dead father’s debts. And he works for the Yakuza to pay off these debts by being a devil hunter. With the aid of his trusty sidekick Pochita, the Chainsaw Devil, he can finish them off without much problems, though that all changes when he is suddenly betrayed by the Yakuza and left to die.
Pochita fuses with Denji to save him, thus giving birth to “Chainsaw Man’. As he now poses a threat to public safety, Denji is taken in by the Public Safety Bureau’s Elite Devil Hunter Makima, where he is promised a stable life as long as he helps them to kill Devils.
Chainsaw Man was a treat for the eyes, with the visuals from the world and animation being particularly eye-catching. Fight scenes were also no slouch, with many characters showcasing their abilities in great, flashy detail. Then there’s the potent mixture of corny (and horny) jokes with the nihilistic nature of the world that makes this show a unique watch.
Is there anything that can top that? Well, the soundtracks. With 12 different ending themes for each episode and the song “Kick Back” used as the opening, we can also confidently say that the show goes above and beyond for effort. So while you’re here, have a listen to the soundtracks below too! We promise that they are all worth a listen.
Spy X Family
The manga for Spy X Family has received so much love that the anime series was highly anticipated before its release. And fans were not disappointed upon seeing their favourite spy family get animated.
Spy X Family tells the story of Agent Twilight, who is in Ostania to try and prevent tensions from escalating into a war between Ostania and Westalis. Agent Twilight takes on a new mission by donning the “Loid Forger “moniker, tasked to start a family and gather information on prominent Ostanian politician Donovan Desmond. To do so, he adopts Anya Forger, an esper who can read minds, and marries Yor Forger to substitute as his wife — though unbeknownst to him, she also masquerades as an assassin.
Together, the trio try to maintain each of their facades, none of whom wants the other to know. It creates a ton of wacky scenarios that warm the heart as we see them all getting closer to each other.
A perfect comfort show to watch on the weekends, Spy X Family more than deserves its place on our list. You can catch the show over on Netflix or Bilibili, and to top it all off, the show will be getting a second season later, meaning that you have even more episodes to look forward to!
Cyberpunk 2077 was down and out after its disastrous launch, so it speaks volumes about how good Cyberpunk Edgerunners was that it managed to give the game a second life.
Cyberpunk Edgerunners is set within the world of Cyberpunk but focuses on a new character — David Martinez. David is a student at the Arasaka Academy but feels out of place due to his family’s poor financial background. A tragedy sees him equip himself with the high-tech Sandevistan implant left behind in his home, eventually garnering the attention of Lucy and her gang of Edgerunners, recruiting him due to his unique tolerance for the cyberware. Herein begins his journey as an Edgerunner.
Studio Trigger made the show under the direction of Hiroyuki Imaishi, the mind behind shows like Kill la Kill and Gurren Lagann. As you would expect, Cyberpunk Edgerunners has the exact iconic over-the-top nature as the two anime series, but it works well within the world of Cyberpunk. The characters are enjoyably bombastic, and the action is a visceral feast for the eyes.
But perhaps more surprising is the level of depth within the story and characters. As you watch through the series, the show’s emotional moments hit harder after seeing the gang’s backstories. It could be Studio Trigger’s best work yet.
Whether you are a fan of the game or not, Cyberpunk Edgerunners is a must-watch. You’ll be able to enjoy the entire series on Netflix!
Visuals courtesy of @DemonSlayerUSA, @animetv_jp, @BLEACHanimation, @summertime_PR, @anime_shingeki, @BTR_anime, @yofukashi_pr, @aoashi_pr, @Chainsaw_EN, @spyfamily_anime, and @edgerunners Twitter accounts. Images used are copyright of their respective owners.