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Doctorkev’s 2022 Postmortem — A Year in Anime Discombobulated

Already we’re deep into the Winter 2023 anime season, and most of the new shows have already premiered. Obviously I’m now committed to watching far too many of them, but let’s take some time out of my hectic anime-bingeing schedule to recall the past year of spectacular Japanese animation. 2022 was an incredible year to be an anime fan.

Sony Shenanigans

From a corporate point of view, we finally saw the full subsumption of Funimation’s streaming arm into Crunchyroll, after both had been acquired by Sony in previous years. Although not every single Funimation anime has yet been shifted over to Crunchyroll, every week a few more shows get ported across. At the current rate, perhaps by the end of 2023, Crunchyroll should have a full library of legacy titles, and Funimation NOW can finally be put to long-overdue death. Fellow AniTAY author Dark Aether wrote an exhaustive analysis of Crunchyroll’s brand . Go read it, it’s very worth your time.

UK physical media

A side effect of the Sony takeover led to the death of the long-standing Manga Entertainment label in the UK, a company with a storied (some might say infamous legacy) dating back to the early 1990s. It’s been replaced by the boring-sounding Crunchyroll UK, though since Sony closed the local offices and ditched all of its UK staff, who knows who is actually running the show? At least they’re still releasing some things, though so many Sony-owned shows never get physical UK releases now… I worry that without a local Crunchyroll branch the UK will become neglected with low-effort releases not properly targeted or marketed to fans here…

That leaves UK anime blu-ray consumers with the small independent distributor MVM that mostly focuses on select Sentai titles, the occasional Aniplex license and some random backlog titles; and Anime Limited, home of label All The Anime, known for the Scotland Loves Anime film festival, UK-wide anime movie cinema distribution, and production of lovely limited-edition blu-ray box-sets. Anime Limited were recently purchased by The Embracer Media Group. What that means for their independent boutique status I don’t know, but I wonder how they’ll manage to procure licenses going forwards when Sony now owns their biggest competitor and many of Anime Limited’s previous licenses. That Sony also now owns previously-independent US anime retailer and distributor Rightstuf International, who also run anime Label Nozomi, plus Sony also owns Aniplex USA, it makes the future of UK anime licensing and the physical anime media market very concerning. Sony’s Crunchyroll UK seems averse to releasing smaller/older/more obscure anime, the sort that Anime Limited previously thrived upon.

Streaming wars

2022 was also the year that Disney entered the anime streaming market in a big way, by licensing multiple shows, and then… not communicating their plans to anyone. They started very poorly by refusing to stream the incredible horror/thriller Summertime Rendering outside of Asia or Oceania. It started on Japanese TV in April 2022, and as of writing this, January 11th 2023 it’s only just today finally been released from Disney Jail onto Hulu (in the US) and Disney+ (everywhere that matters). I ranted about Disney’s criminal treatment of the show in detail .

Disney streamed Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall after a 7-month delay and The Tatami Time Machine Blues after a comparatively-less-ridiculous 2-month delay. Oddly, both of these are sequels to fairly old anime, for which Disney does not own the rights. Disney then purchased rights to all 366 episodes of the original Bleach anime, plus began simulcasting the new Bleach Thousand Year Blood War series. With the addition of a simulcasted Tokyo Revengers season 2 in January 2023 (Crunchyroll retains rights to the first season), Disney has at least now proved that it can distribute anime just as well as other streaming services. Why it randomly shadow-dropped Summertime Rendering today with no prior announcement and no publicity of any kind escapes me.

Netflix continued to release an odd mismash of original anime movies (Bubble, Drifting Home) plus various TV shows — some, like Komi Can’t Communicate streamed weekly, while others, like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 6 — Stone Ocean and Bastard!? Heavy Metal Dark Fantasy were splurged out in large binge-inducing chunks. Jojo’s does not work well as a binge watch, Netflix’s decision-making is also very peculiar.

With the acquisition of smaller upstart streaming service HIDIVE by media conglomerate AMC, suddenly it became a more serious contender. Whereas previously HIDIVE was limited to one or two new shows per season, presumably all of that cold, hard, corporate cash went a long way to procuring many new licenses. During each of the last few seasons, HIDIVE has streamed around ten new shows, some of them big hitters like the new Urusei Yatsura series, and the truly inspired Akiba Maid War. I’m all for competition in the anime streaming space. With Amazon giving up on anime (was its heart ever really in it?) and Netflix and Disneys doing their own weird things, Crunchyroll needs a bitter rival, and so far HIDIVE is doing a remarkable job. Let’s hope that continues into 2023.

2022 anime movies:

We’ll talk (a lot) about 2022’s glut of TV anime later, but for now let’s remember how big a year anime had at the cinema. Mega-franchises Dragon Ball Super and One Piece both released new movies to international mega-success, not to mention Jujutsu Kaisen 0’s phenomenal box office triumph (now if only Sony/Crunchyroll had paid their dub cast more than an insulting pittance while corporate executives rolled their filthy, naked, greasy bodies in raw cash). For once the UK received a glut of theatrical anime releases, many of which I was able to attend, (wish I’d got a chance to see Pompo the Cinephile, and The House of the Lost on the Cape though.) Reviews linked below (one or two were on streaming or blu-ray):

Anime News Network articles:

Early in 2022 I had my very first professional (paid) writing about anime published at , a website I’ve been reading daily since the late 1990s. It’s been weird to see my words posted there, even weirder to have a couple of my articles adapted by them to YouTube video. Anyway, I hope to continue with this, having already submitted several articles for publication in 2023. Here’s the links to the six of my articles published on ANN in 2022:

2022 Television Anime

So now’s the point where I have to somehow try and choose a top ten? Anyone who’s read my previous annual postmortem articles knows that this is a pointless expectation. I likely watched over a hundred different anime in 2022, and so many of them were fantastic. If you want to read about them all in more detail, I write several articles per season about the newest shows, good and bad — you can find them on my backlog here on Medium, dating back to early 2019 when I started this whole anime writing thing. You’ll find articles covering so many anime from 2018’s shows onwards. This is my fifth annual postmortem article and has possibly been the most difficult to rank. I’ve chosen a representative quote from my earlier reviews of each show. So, drum roll, here’s my… top… 30…


30: Love Flops

“The first episode is awful. From episode two onwards, it gets much better. With the end of the seventh episode, Love Flops shows its hand, revealing it as something else, descending into existential horror. What started as a ridiculously bawdy comedy suddenly becomes serious and emotional, a tale of lost love and terminal illness, mixed with singularity-level artifical intelligence speculation.”

29: Shadows House Second Season

“The dark, claustrophobic Shadows House where our characters are imprisoned gets only more oppressive as further secrets are revealed, particularly the horrors that await both brainwashed human “living dolls” and their counterpart “shadows”. There’s some surprisingly upsetting body horror and existential dread evoked in the later episodes.”

28: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure part 6: Stone Ocean

“JoJo’s works much better as a week-to-week brief burst of untempered insanity. Mainlining it all in one go is not just indigestible, it’s potentially mentally dangerous, so bonkers are the leaps of logic involved in the supernaturally-charged battles that prolonged exposure may untether one from normal conceptions of space, time and causality. Entertaining to the end, and with a frankly beautiful conclusion to the entire 6-arc epic, Stone Ocean proves itself to be a worthy successor to the JoJo’s name.”

27: Romantic Killer

“Romantic Killer joyfully skews every romantic comedy trope you’re ever heard of, with vicious, murderous intent.Although the show is mostly very light-hearted, later episodes become much more serious in places, with some really unsettling psychological trauma. It’s a testament to the excellent characterisation and deft writing that the tonal whiplash isn’t more severe. I loved this hyperactive, demented show.”

26: My Hero Academia Season 6

“The more recent extended battle between reborn but All-For-One-possessed Tomura Shiguraki and a furious Midoria, desperate to protect his friends, is a definite highlight, as is flawed hero Hawks’ tragic fight against sympathetic Deadpool-esque villain Twice. Each victory is pyrrhic, every inch of ground gained bought with a steep price. My Hero Academia continues to maintain itself as my very favourite long-running mainstream shonen story.”

25: More Than a Married Couple, But Not Lovers

“Sometimes listening to my degenerate fellow AniTAY weebs’ recommendations works out, and in this case it did. Despite a terminally stupid premise, I thoroughly enjoyed this extremely horny romcom. I really found myself rooting for Jiro to ditch his irritating childhood sweetheart and just admit his feelings for his pink-haired goddess co-habitee.”

24: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Danmachi) Season 4

“I love Danmachi more with each season that passes. That it introduced a cute new mermaid girl helped, of course, and that irritating goddess Hestia barely featured at all was another bonus. Heroic protagonist Bell Cranel is such a Good Boy it’s impossible not to root for him.”

23: Urusei Yatsura

“Every now and then author Rumiko Takahashi knows to lay on the pathos, and so far David Production’s animation team have nailed the tone. It’s perhaps not quite got the madcap comic timing of the 1980s version, but much of that was directed by the legendary Mamoru Oshii, so I’m willing to give the new folks some time to get into their groove. Oshii’s version never looked as irresistably shiny as this, though.”

22: Attack on Titan Final Season Part 2

“Attack on Titan continues to be violently intense, thematically challenging and conceptually bonkers, with exhilarating action and compelling moral quandaries. MAPPA continue to hit it out of the park with this adaptation, and with the conclusion of this part of the increasingly hilariously misnamed “final season”, there are still nine chapters of the manga left unadapted.”

“A complex and thought-provoking hard SF adventure that just happens to feature some realistically annoying adolescents, I cannot recommend The Orbital Children highly enough. Written and directed by Mitsuo Iso (Den-noh Coil), fans of his earlier work will appreciate this cerebral but entertaining 3-hour story.”


20: Bocchi the Rock!

“Bocchi’s frequent emotional breakdowns are not only funny and artistically creative in their representation, they’re painfully realistic and a very accurate depiction of the seething torrent of emotions swirling inside the mind and body of someone who suffers panic attacks and social anxiety.”

“…proof that anxiety, even if it’s not possible to be fully dispelled, can be mastered. It also helps that the music kicks ass. I loved this a lot.”

19: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury

“I’ve enjoyed this a lot, mainly because of the fun characters, especially the central duo of ditzy but delightful Suletta Mercury and cooler but driven Miorine Rembran. Aethetically the show looks mostly gorgeous, especially the character designs and of course the mecha and the spaceships.”

UPDATE: The delayed episode 12, streamed on Sunday 8th January was so absolutely and wonderfully bonkers that it caused me to rank this much higher than I initially intended!

18: Princess Connect Re:Dive Season 2

“These are all wonderful, fully realised characters that we want to spend time with, we want to see them succeed. I cannot enthuse enough at how well Princess Connect transcends its origins as a “mere” gacha adaptation to become a stunningly successful anime on its own merits.”

17: My Dress-up Darling

“Anyway, despite the frequent close-ups on exhibitionist Marin’s young, supple, moist female skin and her perfect, shiny curves and ample bosom (ok, I’ll stop now before I creep myself out any further), this is such a sweet and wholesome show about a slow-burning romance between two utter dorks and their shared obsessions.”

16: Kaguya-sama: Love is War — Ultra Romantic

“What started as “Death Note but a romantic comedy” has truly transcended that limited description. It’s a thoroughly intelligent, wise, witty, creative and human drama that just happens to be insanely funny, but also heartbreaking at times.”

15: Spy x Family

“Spy x Family’s strength is in its synthesis of multiple disparate genres into one perfectly balanced whole. It mixes cold war spy intrigue with sweet and wholesome family scenes, school drama and screwball comedy. It almost shouldn’t work as well as it does, but the combined efforts of Wit Studio and A1 pictures keeps the pacing taut and the animation beautiful. The direction nails the comedy, particularly Anya’s childlike glee in mischief, with her eclectic range of expressions, and in Loid’s fish-out-of water bemusement at his inscrutable daughter’s antics.”

14: Call of the Night

“If a show could be described as possessing “immaculate vibes”, then this is that show. This anime desperately needs a second (and probably third) season to further develop its themes of emotional connection between troubled people on the edges of society.”

13: Cyberpunk Edgerunners

“Presumably Netflix just handed a wad of cash to Imaishi and said “do whatever the hell you want”. Structured like a Greek tragedy, you know none of this is going to end well for any of the characters, but it’s a compelling ride watching them descend into inevitable darkness, obsession and desperation, futilely railing against a corrupt corporate-owned society impossibly stacked against them from the outset.”

12: Lycoris Recoil

“The best new show of the season, bar none, is this incredible effort from A1 Pictures. A supremely confident production that balances slick action, cute slice-of-life comedy, deep character studies and phenomenal animation, this is easily a contender for anime of the year.

11: Chainsaw Man

“Chainsaw Man — the anime — is very much its own thing, while lovingly considering not just the manga source, but its creator’s intentions and influences, while adding stylistic flourishes possible only via the medium of animation. By slowing the pace and adding beautifully-framed and animated slice-of-life sequences, MAPPA invites us to also slow down from our mad, breathless rush from panel-to-panel, page-to-page through the fast-paced manga, and to really consider the characters and their motivations.”

Top 10:

10: Mob Psycho 100 III

“Mob is an anime about the human experience, about growing up, about success and failure, about accepting who you are, and working towards who you want to be, about recognising your limitations and relying on your friends and family to make up for what you lack. All this, plus it features floaty green ghostly spirits with rosy cheeks, massive city-dwarfing broccoli god-entities, moe-eyed aliens, psychokinetic battles with destruction the like of which not seen since Akira, and you have a recipe for what could be used a a dangerous gateway drug into the world of anime.”

9: Dance Dance Danseur

“Please can we have some more of this, and as lavishly animated again? I don’t care if the motion-captured real-life ballet dancers who were an essential part of the production have to be hunted down and imprisoned in a dingy basement like Luo was by his crazy grandmother. They’ll understand they must do it for The Art.”

8: Do it Yourself!

“For me, Do It Yourself easily equals Laid-Back Camp. It has wonderful characters who are both funny and empathetic, a facinating world with some light sci-fi/tech elements. It deftly balances the tension between the use of labour-saving technology and the simple, fulfilling pleasure of working with one’s hands. Both approaches have value, and Do It Yourself demonstrates a healthy combination.”

7: Made in Abyss Season 2: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun

“The rich story, gorgeous artwork, meticulous animation and masterful score build together to create a piece of art that towers in majesty, but also disgusts viscerally. There’s so much to think about in terms of the concepts of obsession, value, destiny, and sacrifice in this season that it’s hard to digest on a single viewing.”

6: Ranking of Kings

“I’m extremely satisfied with this gorgeously animated, cleverly-structured and emotionally resonant show. If you’ve not started watching it, I urge you to do so, and show it to your friends and family. I think Ranking of Kings could very easily become the best gateway for new anime fans.”

5: Akiba Maid War

“Every crime story is tinged with tragedy, and mixed in with the goofy screwball humour, Akiba Maid War manages to tug on the heartstrings more than once, especially with a very final post-credit sequence that brought a tear to my eye. An unapologetically weird show, it’s also possibly one of the most anime anime of all time. I love it.”

4: Ya Boy Kongming

“My life now feels empty without this strange but very fun mashup of ancient Chinese historical education, Carole and Tuesday-like musical drama and reverse isekai. Thursday evenings feel incomplete without the sounds of cheesy Hungarian pop covered by a Japanese idol group in the opener.”

3: The Executioner and Her Way of Life

“It’s a crime that there’s only twelve episodes of this wonderful show, covering up until the conclusion of novel volume two. With seven volumes in print in Japan (and four in English), there’s plenty of material for at least another two seasons. Executioner has set up multiple intriguing mysteries that I need to see resolved, so please please please make some more of this?”

2: Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story

“Birdie Wing is to golf what Kakegurui is to gambling. It has all of the basic ingredients — stick, ball, grass, but then throws them in a blender with impossibly mature-looking teenage girls, melodramatically pining lesbians, stinky leatherclad snake/vampire women, “illegal” underground mafia golf tournaments, DBZ-like golf-powers, immigrant orphans, scheming villains, and unhinged, escalating absurdity — to get whatever the hell Birdie Wing is. It’s properly, properly bonkers. And I love it. I don’t even like golf.”

“Summertime Rendering is an expertly plotted and perfectly paced mystery/horror that deserves immediate success. The final stretch of episodes are almost painfully intense, building to an amazing crescendo and a supremely satisfying ending. There isn’t a single bad episode — it always looks great, the story is always moving, the characters always interesting, and the music is beautiful. Every part of this package is perfectly formed and worthy of widespread acclaim.”

And that’s it for another year! Thanks for sticking with me to the end, and I hope you continue along with me on my 2023 anime journey! I’ll be back soon to talk about Winter 2023’s newest shows, plus probably a few other random reviews and articles as the mood takes me.

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Physician. Obsessed with anime, manga, comic-books. Husband and father. Christian. Fascinated by tensions between modern culture and traditional faith. Bit odd.