There’s no good way to do this list. There were just too many great anime that came out, plain and simple. No-one could have time to watch it all, even if you tried really hard (and I’ve tried really hard), so hopefully this can at least serve as a quick look at all the shows that are at least worth taking a look at.
In order to make this a bit easier to read, I’m separating the series into a few categories:
Must Watch — Best Sequels — Most Kawaii — Awesomely Animated —
Best Surprises — Hidden Gems — Short and Sweet
...and then ending this by rounding up the series/movies I still haven’t had time to watch that are supposedly really really good. Because there’s just too much great stuff this year.
If you’re new to anime and wondering where to start, picking anything on this list (or their related preceding shows in the case of #3, #5, and #7) should be a good way to go about it.
If you’re not new to anime, then you’ve either already seen these or YOU NEED TO WATCH THESE OMG THEY’RE SO GOOD.
1. Bocchi the Rock
Shy girl spends three years in a closet to become a great guitarist, but then needs to overcome her extreme social anxiety in the hope of joining a band and finding friends.
A lot of people started out comparing it to K-On, praising it as finally being a worthy equal in the music section of the Cute Girls Doing Cute Things genre. As the episodes went by though, it became very clear that Bocchi the Rock was something worth praising as wholly its own; in a lot of ways there really hasn’t been a series like this before.
The original source is a 4-koma manga, but the team behind the anime adaptation have gone above and beyond in how much effort has gone into their production. The animation is fluid and experimental in great and funny ways. The performances are amazing both in terms of visuals as well as the soundstage that supports it. Each character we meet is funny and brings their own energy to support the others.
In a year and even season as fully stacked as they were, Bocchi the Rock still managed to rise above the rest for any person that has watched it, and as such I cannot recommend it enough.
2. Chainsaw Man
Bloody. Violent. Chaotic. Erotic and erratic at times. A feast of gore and action accompanied by awesome animations and adrenaline-pumping music.
Before it even began it had become one of the most hyped-up series in a long time, and apart from some not-great 3D visuals has met the insane expectations people had.
Chainsaw Man is a story about suffering, pain, loss, and revenge, and its characters are various forms of insane, childish and/or unhinged, so be prepared to see some nasty stuff.
But at the same time there isn’t anything else at that same level of insanity, so if you can stomach it I highly recommend it.
3. Mob Psycho 100 S3
I won’t write much about Mob Psycho 100 since it’s the continuation and culmination based on two previous seasons which also were utterly fantastic to watch.
Great action. Surprisingly wholesome throughout. Major character growths. Tearjerk moments. The show has it all. Go watch it, from the beginning of season one if you haven’t already. Now. Go.
4. Lycoris Recoil
Imagine John Wick, but it’s two anime waifus.
Now take that mental image, and improve it with smatterings of sci-fi, secret agent-like government organisations, and bubbly endearing character chemistry.
That’s Lycoris Recoil.
The two female leads have an amazing back-and-forth that is a joy to watch, and the voice actors go above-and-beyond in their quest to bring these characters and their interactions to life, supposedly with plenty of ad-libbed moments that will bring you a smile long after you’ve finished the season.
It certainly has its flaws, such as a very convoluted story with plenty of holes throughout, but the sheer joy and excitement its many great moments provide more than makes up for those flaws.
5. Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun
It is difficult to watch Made in Abyss. But you just can’t stop yourself.
Know that this show should come with several trigger warnings as it is not delicate or subtle in any way, and it will be hard for some to get through it. That said, the adventures the characters in this world go through are built on such deep, fascinating, and vibrant world building, is accompanied by such wondrous music, and features animations making you care and feel for/with these people we meet throughout, that even though some segments will make you want to look away, the rest of it keeps your eyes locked in for the whole ride.
It is a truly wondrous show if you can stomach the heavier parts of the story, and while the characters aren’t going as far distance-wise as they did in the first season, the journey they undergo here is nonetheless fascinating.
Though be warned that there might be a while until we get more Made in Abyss anime after this, as apparently the show has pretty much caught up with its source material at this point.
For anyone venturing into the depths of the Abyss for the first time, it’s important to note that the intended watch order is:
1. the first season of Made in Abyss,
2. the movie Dawn of the Deep Soul which confusingly enough is the third movie (the previous two movies are summaries of the first season), then
3. this season of Made in Abyss.
6. Spy x Family
A modern Shounen Jump classic which kicked off its anime adaptation in Spring 2022, but has already wrapped up its second part just recently.
Spy x Family is hilarious and exciting, set in a world meant to parallel some sort of 1950s-ish European country split into a West and East, where peace is kept but tensions are running hot, and several factions want to break that peace.
It centres around a found family comprised of a spy father, an assassin mother, and an adopted esper child. The spy father is the best of the best, and was tasked to make a family to be able to get close to the military leader of the ruling faction, whose child studies at a highly exclusive academy.
So the spy adopts a child, who unbeknownst to him is an esper who can read minds, and soon the two encounter a woman who accepts a proposal to live as a family together. Which is great for her, since she’s secretly an incredible assassin that has been looking for something to use as an excuse as to not look like an untraditionally unmarried woman in her 20’s (the ruling powers in this world are very, uh, conservative).
The child, being a mindreader, finds out about this immediately, but as she lied about her age when being adopted, she’s too young to really understand all of this; she just thinks her new parents are super cool and wants to help save the country and keep her parents secrets. It’s just too bad that she’s clumsy and dumb and puts herself in bad situations all the time! Hilarity ensues.
Incredibly wholesome yet also thrilling at times, with lots of laughs to be had. Highly recommended.
7. Kaguya-sama Love is War: Ultra Romantic
One of the best RomCom series in anime, and its final culminating season.
It’s not just funny, it’s an extremely fun series to watch, and the team behind it absolutely bring their A-game to the series once again, changing up the visuals again and again for even the smallest of gags. It’s yet again a marvel to watch, and in any other year could have smashed the competition in terms of best anime.
That rap with Miyuki and Fujiwara in episode 5. *chefs kiss*
8. Reincarnated as a Sword
This might be a controversial entry, but I think this show is great. It’s definitely the softest recommendation among the Must Watch, but the two protagonists work so well together that I couldn’t let it slide to another category.
At its core it’s an OP protagonist Isekai story, like so many others before it. Here however, the main guy has been reborn into a sword, and a sort of father-daughter dynamic quickly forms with a young girl who happens to run into him as her slave traders are attacked by a big monster. When she wields the sword, he can transfer stored skills and stats to her, improving her stats way beyond that of most normal living beings. They become co-dependent, and the sword vows to stay and help her at least until she can achieve her longtime dream.
It’s incredibly sweet at most times, and the two protagonists circumstances allows them to learn about the world at the same pace as us viewers, making their journey to become stronger easy to follow.
Add some not fantastic but not bad animation on top of that, and plenty of fun side characters and relations, and it’s all-in-all a more-than-decent show. A Must Watch for Isekai fans, and more than likely a good time for everyone else as well. Parents will likely relate to and appreciate this even more than others.
9. Call of the Night
Vibes, the anime.
From the same mangaka as Dagashi Kashi (that candy shop anime from 2016 ish), this time about a young boy with insomnia walking the streets at night and encountering a vampire who vows to show him how fun night-time can be.
Its standout aspects are for sure the lighting and the music; the lighting is colourful and vibrant unlike any other this year, and both the insert songs and the background music wonderfully supports the tone and feel of the show in great ways.
Much like the creator’s previous work, this has heaping teaspoons of sexual undertones (overtones?) and as such won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but man, the vibes of this show.
In a year like this filled with so many good new shows, it seems a bit redundant to talk a lot about the already amazing shows that had continuations. Other people will have mentioned these in their lists, so I’ll just briefly touch upon each one because honestly; you probably already know if you like these shows or not.
Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc
— Technically starting in December 2021, it’s a great arc in a great series. Has some of the best fight animations and visual effects of the year. Studio ufotable knocks it out of the park once again.
BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War
— BLEACH IS BACK!? And it’s finally animating one of the most actionpacked arcs of the entire series. The first episode or two was a bit lackluster imo (it was probably more than a bit awkward to try to find a way to pick up from where they left off last time in the anime), but then it kicks into high gear again and in any other year it could have become a Must Watch. But it’s also technically season SEVENTEEN of a show, sooo… not an easy recommendation.
The remixed music is fantastic though.
Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? S4
— In a year as absolutely jam-packed as this, I shouldn’t be surprised that this fell under the radar for most people. Technically the season is also only half-way done, with the second cour starting in January 2023, but it’s more DanMachi, and it’s as fantastic as it is frightening to see what the group needs to overcome this time around.
Komi Can’t Communicate S2
— One of my favourite shows last year, but more characters and just more of everything else too. This not being in the Must Watch section is just a testament to how damn good 2022 has been for anime.
However, it is starting to show the detriment that is ever too common in longer romcoms such as this — the lack of the story going anywhere. But in fairness, maybe it doesn’t need to go anywhere either.
Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun S3
— It’s more Iruma-kun! It’s fun. It’s only half-way through the current season at the time of writing, so yeah.
Ascendance of a Bookworm S3
— Maine continues to be in trouble with the nobles of the world, and the series continues to go strong, however in a slightly slower pace than previous seasons. It’s still more good anime.
My Hero Academia S6
— It’s more HeroAca.
Demon Girl Next Door S2
— Is this the best anime ever? Far from it. But it is full of charm, funny moments, cute characters, and improves upon the first season by providing even more of a progression in the story of the show.
If you’re looking for a straight-up good cozy time, then you’re not going to find much better alternatives than Demon Girl Next Door.
Yuru Camp Movie
—Speaking of a good cozy time; one of my absolute favourites of last year got itself a movie!
The girls are slightly older now, having graduated high school between season 2 and this, all working real jobs, and each are living their own lives. But when an opportunity arise to create a new camping site in their home region, the group set out to undertake their biggest project yet.
My Dress-Up Darling
— CloverWorks hit it out of the park several times in 2022, and Dress-Up Darling hit the ground running from its first episodes early on. A Must Watch for any creatives reading this, only knocked out of that category because some will have issues with the lewder visuals of this show.
The relationship between the two main characters is some of the sweetest all year, and the way they’ve managed to animate the characters and their unbridled joy for the art of crafting and embarrassment in their doki-doki moments might be the best all year. Give the first episode an honest try, and if Marins gleeful jumps of joy at the end of that isn’t enough to sell you, then fine, this won’t be your cup of tea.
Princess Connect Re:Dive S2
— More than any other show, this was by far the biggest FEAST of amazing animation that by most people had no right being as good as it sometimes was. My only gripe with Princess Connect is that it’s inconsistent throughout the season, but when the animation hits it HITS. And seeing as that’s just adding more onto the solid base that is a fun Konosuba-like show, it’s more than worth your time.
— It’s not often I’d recommend a show mostly based on its first episodes, but the smooth character animation this idol show provides in those first segments of the story is some of the best, so I couldn’t not write about it somewhere. That said, it’s an idol show like so many others, and you probably already know if that kind of show is for you or not.
Akebi-chan’s Sailor Uniform
— I fell in love with this show from the first time I saw the character animations in the marketing materials, and just loved it even more as I watched the season unfold episode-by-episode.
It’s not for everyone, and they have this weird obsession for feet which put more than a few people off, but ugh it just looks so good and is so well animated and I can’t believe it’s not getting more recognized but I know it’s just buried under so many other great shows that came out in 2022.
The story itself is unremarkable, but it doesn’t need to be more than it is; young girls enjoying their middle school years to the best of their abilities.
— With the troubles that the game has had, and with Netflix not exactly having a good track record for well-produced anime projects, many were reasonably sceptical and wary about what this CD Project Red x TRIGGER production would result in.
And then we got one of the best shows of the year.
TRIGGER is known not only for their loose and fun animation styles, but also for their insane story progression, and them containing themselves in the world of Night City feels like a breath of fresh air, even as a long-time fan of the studio and their works. They were still able to take some liberties and stretch the world to their liking beyond the box that the IP “should be”, and it resulted in some of my favourite characters and moments of 2022. It’s a adrenaline-packed feast and a damn good time, but be aware that Cyberpunk at it’s core is a tragedy in the ancient Greek sense. Things doesn’t always turn out well for the ones we root for.
Also, you don’t need to play the game to enjoy the show. Went into it blind myself, and while there is some lingo that seems weird, that’s about it. Switch tabs to Netflix when you’re done reading this, and enjoy a good cyberpunk TRIGGER colourful feast.
Also also, there are some NSFW moments that will attack your retinas seemingly out of nowhere. You’ve been warned.
Ya Boy Kongming
— What the hell did we all watch. Kongming, of Three Kingdoms legend, reincarnates into modern Tokyo and becomes the manager for an EDM singer? Trust me when I say that this is great anime.
Just watch the OP and witness the kind of energy the show brings.
Uncle From Another World
— Look, a SEGA-sponsored Netflix anime might not be the most confidence-inspiring combinations of words that one might attach to an anime, but this just works.
What if a person who was Isekai’d came back after 17 years and kept his abilities in our world? But what if he’s also considered ugly, to the point that the residents of the other world mistook him for a weird orc at every point? And what if he’s also an obnoxious SEGA fan from the 90's? Yeah, it’s weird, but, again, just works thanks to the supporting cast, such as his nephew who takes care of him as he tries to reacclimatize back into our world (in theory, at least).
Sadly, the studio making the show had a COVID outbreak mid-production, so the show only recently started airing again and at the time of writing is yet to release its final episode. But the show is good fun, and well worth it for the laughs it brings. Just don’t get your hopes up on it really “going” anywhere.
Akiba Maid War
— This show is probably the epitome of “why is this AWESOME?!” this year. Take a heaping cup of Akihabara maid cafés, and stir in a hearty amount of yakuza gang wars, and you have this series. It is unapologetically insane, and the first episode in particular will have you laugh out loud over how off the chains it gets.
The concept kind of overstays it welcome and feels almost a bit one-note at times though, prompting a “geez, I get it, you’re maids” from me more than a few times, but the overall journey our main characters are on is interesting enough to stick around for until the end.
It’s 100% worth to just go watch the first episode if only for the insanity of it all, and then from there you can decide whether or not to continue.
— Cute Girls Doing Cute Fishing. That’s the show. It’s great.
(there’s also some parts about dealing with loss and accepting a new family; in some ways it’s a tad more deep than most other CGDCT series)
Do It Yourself!
— More CGDCT; Cute Girls Doing Cute Crafting!
Do It Yourself is an adorable show where a growing group of highschool girls come together to explore the wonders of crafting and DIY, each girl bringing her own unique character quirk, and they make things together. It’s a fun little watch without any high stakes, and will most likely leave you with a smile after each episode.
It kind of feels like a better version of last year’s Let’s Make a Mug Too (an adorable show I couldn’t even fit into last years post), except it’s crafting instead of pottery and full length instead of the shorter 15-minute episodes.
— From the fiery depths of Hell emerges Jabberwock the Eighth, horned, covered in fur, and ready to unleash Hell upon humanity as a whole together with his minion Chimimoryo spirits.
But that is all prevented thanks to the three Onigami sisters, who accidentally summon the cute blob-like “Chimimo” spirits into their house when they use the word “Hell”, and then reprimand Jabberwock because how dare he make a mess of their place and he better be prepared to pay back what he owes and that’s that.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is just a dumb kids show after looking at it, but the middle sister is always arriving home drunk as hell after her university drinking parties, and the oldest sister constantly gets harassed at work which they have to deal with. But yeah, it’s basically just a dumb kids show. But a super cute and really funny one at times.
Pause! Let Me Check the Walkthrough!
— A chinese-made series that went straight to web on BiliBili. It’s not great by any means, but I’m obsessed with the way they manage to turn game staples on their head and make hilarious jokes and visual gags with them.
It’s an Isekai at its core, with the protagonist and another character getting sent into a game world, but our main girl (who btw has no time for bullshit or smalltalk from no one, including the supposed god that brings her there) quickly realizes she can access menus and stuff, and tries to get OP as fast as she can.
It’s an all-female cast, pretty much 3D animated in full, and is mostly trash but feels intentionally so. If you can get access to it, I highly recommend just trying out an episode to see if it hits for you.
— An anime that is also a musical. There’s really nothing else like it, as far as I know.
Highly experimental in that sense, and the story follows three girls doing their residency at a local clinic as Healers; people that sing to heal patients. In this world, they exist alongside normal physicians and doctors as just another means of medicine, though still not as widely accepted and recognized.
The anime itself is a very soothing experience, and as you can probably imagine has more than a few standout insert songs throughout its 12 episodes. Go get healed from your core with this gem of a show.
Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story
—Golf, but with named action power moves, yakuza organizations with their own motorized and changing underground golf courses, and plenty of sensual undertones in the rivalry/friendship of our main girl and the first worthy opponent she’s met in a long time.
I keep saying this, but there’s just been too many other great anime this year, to the point that a show as fun and as Anime as this gets buried.
Go watch Birdie Wing. It can sell itself if you give it a chance to.
— This is hidden for one particular reason; it’s a Disney+ show.
One of the best thrillers of the year, with it’s biggest flaw being an unhealthy obsession with showing off the bodies of the main girls in (thankfully only) a few scenes in particular.
Time loops, ancient powers, shadows, and lots of deaths are just some of the keywords I can throw out to hopefully make you excited to give it a try. I binged the original manga in just a few days after learning about it last year, and I was more than happy to relive the series in an animated format as well. It’s a decent story, cleverly self-contained on a small Japanese island and doesn’t overstay its welcome with 25 episodes in total. Definitely give it a go if you can access it.
The Land of Leadale
— All the time I was watching this, I felt like I could see the potential of a much better show. It’s another OP protag Isekai story at its core, but where the former game world has come alive on its own, and several former players are reincarnated there at different points in time (like, decades apart from one another).
It’s not focusing on that though, rather we see how one player comes back and finds that her former NPCs now treat her as a mother and have lived their own lives for over 200 years. In that time they’ve even made families of their own, and legends about the feats of players are told all over this world of Leadale.
The Land of Leadale is wholesome, seriously inventive and funny at times (one character spawns his own reaction effects in-world with magic and I LOVE THAT), but is held back by stiff animation and stiffer interactions between characters. It’s a good time, but definitely something most will pan as simple trash after watching just a few minutes of the show.
— In contrast to Leadale, this has exciting action and (sometimes) great animation and a crazy story, but the world is kind of meh, and the show unecessarily horny which is probably what will put most people off.
While there are much better shows out there from 2022, this kept your attention with so many plot reveals and (sometimes obvious) twists and turns that it kind of became exciting to watch. So here we are.
— On the surface, a harem romcom like so many others before it, but from the very start there are hints that something is amiss.
An impressively dense first episode with some intense character introductions with the 5(!) main girls, followed by episodes with wildly different story beats related to each of them. The story (or at least the concept of it) is also way better than the genre usually provides, and how it unfolds was actually fun and surprising to watch.
Just be beware that this is by far the most Ecchi entry of this list (though not this year), even more so than Engage Kiss above.
Love After World Domination
— This is just good romcom, but in a year this stacked it’s delegated to a smaller post. A fun time about a superhero and a villain falling in love and being super awkward and adorable about it.
— It starts out all cute and weird, but ended up having some of the most gripping final episodes at that point in the year which is something you do not expect just from looking at it.
It has some of the most earpiercing VA’s I’ve ever heard, and is teeth-achingly sweet at times, but it can be a good time if you let it be.
— An entire show about standup comedian trios competing to get to the top of a comedy competition. Has so many word puns, most of which will be lost if you don’t know any Japanese. It also goes so many weird places; it has a goddamn timeloop episode.
Unfortunately it also got some attention for having to postpone one of the episodes, as it was centered around the premise of someone potentially trying to kill a president, which was supposed to air the day after Shinzo Abe was killed. Bad timing. The episode was eventually released later, and thankfully the show didn’t have much of a continuous storyline so it didn’t feel out-of-place, but yeah that happened.
Anyway, Teppen is so so SO trash but I love it. Especially the OP.
Short and Sweet
Dangerous Lifehacker/The Kodama’s Lazy Life
—One of those shows where the OP is longer than the main episode content (1m30s vs 1m). Just short skits about a webmanga artist being lazy. That’s it. At the height of the pandemic, this felt too relatable at times.
The Girl From the Other Side
— A 1h10m fantasy short released together with a side story of the manga, it’s a condensed beginning of a tale featuring a young girl being taken care of by a shadowy creature, and the two trying to co-exist in a world where they normally shouldn’t be able to.
It’s beautifully made, but doesn’t necessarily bring much story-wise.
— 15-minute episodes about Oni girls trying to improve humanity’s view on Oni, and they can transform their clothes by wearing big ugly Oni panties.
Why am I even including this, you ask? Well, beyond the great ED’s, this was in part animated by the Attack on Titan team at Wit Studio, and sometimes just out of nowhere the animation quality vastly improves and they run around with fantastic 3D-panning shots and stuff. It’s insane.
AND THAT’S NOT EVEN REMOTELY ALL THE SHOWS
There’s so much more…
The beautiful pastel coloured and good romcom More than a married couple, the several Isekai’s that definitely weren’t the same exact show airing twice in the same season (looking at you, My Isekai Life and Black Summoner), that wonderful Alternate World Pharmacy, that Skeleton Isekai (yes, and Overlord S4), that super cute ghost chibis one, and so so many others. Each time I go back to check what came out this year I find more shows I want to add to this list but there are already way too many…
And then ON TOP OF THAT there are all the ones I’ve heard great things about or otherwise been excited to watch myself, but for various reasons haven’t had time to come around to yet.
Movies like Inu-Ou and the Fruits Basket prequel, and shows like Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, Thermae Romae Novae, Kotarou Lives Alone, Shadows House S2, Popteam Epic S2, Romantic Killer… the list goes on and on and on.
All-in-all, 2022 has been an astonishing year for anime, and it will be a year that in all likelihood goes down in years to come as the Best year of anime. At least, that’s what I’d like to say now, but I’m looking at the 2023 lineup of confirmed and rumoured shows that are airing and I’m wondering if we’re not just in another golden age of anime right now? There are just options for anyone all over the place, and it’s being shown in more accessible places than ever before. Hell, even the Netflix anime library is fantastic these days, which I couldn’t confidently say a year ago.
But there you have it; all the shows I think are worth mentioning in 2022. Let me know if you found this list useful for sorting through all the series, and hopefully you’ve been able to find something that hasn’t appeared on the many shortlists that (necessarily) leave out so many shows.
I want to say that I’ll be doing this more seasonally going forward, but we’ll see. Worst case, I’ll see you back here after another 12 months of great entertainment in the form of animation.