The Best Anime of 2022
Another year over, another year closer to anime fans achieving pop culture hegemony. All jokes aside, 2022 was a particularly good year for Japanese animation. Not only did we get some incredible films and series in 2022, but several of these ended up breaking the Internet. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for us to look back on the best anime to come out of Japan.
Full disclosure: in addition to anime series, we will also be counting movies. Considering the success that several anime films had at the box office this year, it’s justified.
Attack on Titan Season 4, Part 2
Just when you thought that Attack on Titan couldn’t get any bigger, it does just that. The second part to the hit anime’s final season premiered in January 2022, and the Internet went crazy over it. Given how this part saw series protagonist/antagonist Eren Yeager enact his plans of unleashing an army of Titans to wipe out all humanity beyond his island home, that was to be expected. In addition, when the opening for the new part, “Rumbling” went up on YouTube, it wound up trending. Given how the part ended on a massive cliffhanger, fans are chomping at the bit to see the grand finale in all its animated glory.
Spy x Family
It’s the spy comedy that’s taken the anime world by storm, Spy x Family. Making its anime debut in 2022, Spy x Family combines all the action and escapades of classic spy films with the kind of comedy that will leave you in stitches. Set in a fictional world locked in a cold war, Spy x Family follows Twilight, an agent tasked with spying on an enemy politician to stop a potential war. To do this, he builds a fake family with a little girl named Anya and a woman named Yor. The twist is that Yor’s secretly one of her country’s best assassins, and the only one aware of this is the mind-reading Anya, whose desperate to keep her found family intact.
Even though it’s the new kid on the block, Spy x Family has already won the hearts of millions, and it’s not hard to see why: the characters are so likable. Anya’s a precious little cinnamon bun who only wants to have a real family and will go to great lengths. Despite only taking them in as part of his cover, Loid comes to genuinely care about Anya and Yor. Lastly, Yor’s dual nature as a deadly assassin but clumsy and caring housewife makes her one of the top waifus of the year. If you haven’t already watched it, you should check out Spy x Family.
This year was a good year for One Piece, period. On the manga front, the series completed its biggest and longest arc to date, the Wano Country Arc that saw Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates go head-to-head with one of the strongest pirates in the world. Meanwhile, that same arc continues to be adapted into anime to great fanfare. When Crunchyroll posted some of the best clips on YouTube, they trended several times.
Lastly, the series latest film, One Piece Film: Red, saw massive success in its native Japan and overseas, with its soundtrack trending on iTunes. With the series entering its final saga and Eichiro Oda promising it to be more epic than ever, now’s a good time to be a One Piece fan.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
After so many years of getting the short end of the stick in favor of his dad, Dragon Ball finally made Gohan great again. When the remnants of the Red Ribbon Army come out of hiding (again) while Goku and Vegeta are away, it falls to Gohan to deal with the threat. However, Gohan’s neglecting his training again, much to everyone’s disappointment. Frustrated by this, Piccolo uses this chance to force Gohan to reawaken his fighting spirit.
Even though this movie sees the franchise use 3D animation as opposed to 2D, it doesn’t make the film less amazing. The film brings back much of the humor from the early days of the original manga while carefully balancing it with a ton of action. In addition, the film sees Gohan and Piccolo gain new forms that put them in the running for strongest characters in the franchise once more. The former gets a form that, for all intents and purposes, effectively canonizes the popular fanmade transformation El Blanco. El Blanco is canon, people!
Yet another newcomer to the Shonen anime scene, Chainsaw Man has also taken the anime world by storm. Set in an alternate 1990’s Japan where Devils exist, the series follows Denji, a young, teenaged Devil Hunter whose life’s cut short by a group of Yakuza. However, Denji gets a second lease on life when he fuses with his Devil friend, Pochita, becoming the infamous Chainsaw Man. Now, Denji hunts down even more Devils. Not for the sake of humanity or for justice or revenge, but for the simple goal of living a normal life. That, and to get lucky with a woman.
Chainsaw Man is one of the most popular anime on the market right, and it’s not hard to see why. The characters are quirky and the series is filled with so much blood and over-the-top violence that it would leave Attack on Titan jealous. If you haven’t been watching it, then you need to be. It’s a slow burn at first, but once it picks up, you’ll see why it’s so popular already.
My Hero Academia Season 6
While the fifth season may not have been that exciting, it was just a prelude to the real show: My Hero Academia, Season 6. With the villains growing more powerful than ever, the heroes make their move to put an end to the destructive plans of Tomura Shigaraki. However, what should’ve been a decisive victory for the heroes turns into an all-out war that pushes both sides to their absolute limits. Characters die, heroes and villains unlock new abilities, and shocking revelations emerge. This is My Hero Academia at its absolute best, and the season’s only halfway over.
JoJo : Stone Ocean
Netflix ruined the hype for this. JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure is one of the greatest shonen series ever. The last decade’s seen the anime inspire countless memes as it finally achieved worldwide popularity. However, the decision to have Part 6 air on Netflix prevented it from reaching the heights it should have. Netflix made the decision to release the season in batches, which is good for streaming but terrible for building up hype. As a result, the final act in the original JoJo timeline almost flies under the radar.