As a lover of anime, it’s very hard to not look at 2022 and come to the conclusion that it was one of the best years for the medium in modern history. Between several highly anticipated anime finally debuting, continuing series showing their complete dominance, and original series coming out of left field to blow everyone away, there was something for everyone in 2022. If you’re a fan of thrilling action, quirky comedies, pleasant shows about kids just being kids, or even ridiculous sports anime, our cups runneth with sheer quality and quantity of titles to choose from.
And as is the case when a year is winding down, it’s hard to choose exactly which ones are the best of the bunch. There are just so many titles to select that any list is going to feel incomplete when you know you’re leaving off a number of other great series that are worth watching in one sitting. Ten anime simply isn’t enough to fully convey just how good the year was, but that should just go to show you how special these 10 titles really are. In alphabetical order, here are what we consider to be the best anime titles of 2022.
The Top 10 Best Anime of 2022, in Alphabetical Order
Akiba Maid War
Looking back, Akiba Maid War is the dark horse anime of the year. It’s an original anime that had very little hype in the West leading up to its release, but after the first episode it quickly shot up to being one of the most captivating and entertaining anime of the fall season. The anime follows a group of maids working in a maid cafe in Akihabara, only given the gravitas and stakes of a Yakuza film. Bloodshed flows every episode, and the chaos is so ludicrous that you keep watching it just because you need to see what insanity happens next.
The series takes itself super seriously and never budges on the joke, making it even funnier. I shouldn’t be this emotionally moved by a group of maids and their mascot panda, but the drama, comedy, and action are expertly blended together to make something that’s impossible to completely describe but easy to recommend.
Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story
Sports anime aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but when an anime takes something as mundane as golf and makes it into binge-watching television, I can’t help but be impressed. The series follows Eve, a competitive golfer who mostly competes in betting matches for wealthy socialites, seeking a rematch against the woman who beat her and developing a friendly rivalry / informal romance with her.
The show revels in anime tropes, like characters using attack names for their strokes and putts, and even shifts from illegal mafia golf competitions (just roll with it) to a high school golf academy for the second half of its season. It’s ridiculous, but it’s cute and very wholesome. If you’re someone who doesn’t like sports anime or golf in general, Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story may just change your mind, and a second season is in the works.
Chainsaw Man was the most anticipated anime of the year for tons of anime fans. Based on a critically acclaimed manga and given a ludicrous amount of funding and promotion by MAPPA and Crunchyroll, there really was no doubt that the show would end up being as good as it is. The show has a great blend of stunning action, complete with gallons of gore and blood, raunchy and gross humor, traces of horror, and one of the most down-to-Earth protagonists I’ve seen in an anime. You gotta love a protagonist who fights his superior officer by just kicking him in the balls repeatedly and gets away with it.
But none of that would matter if it weren’t for some downright gorgeous animation and arguably the best anime opening of 2022 that’s chock full of film references for cinephiles. I’ve been stunned by anime before, but not as often as I have been watching Chainsaw Man. If you’re not on the Chainsaw Man hype train, why aren’t you?
I think, like most people, I was burned by Cyberpunk 2077 so hard that anything even tangentially related to the brand was an immediate turnoff. After seeing the rave reviews that Cyberpunk: Edgerunners — the game’s anime extension — received, and also learning that my darling Studio Trigger was in charge of the series, I just had to give it a watch. I’m glad I did because virtually everything about Cyberpunk: Edgerunners fires on all cylinders.
The animation is stunning — par for the course for Trigger — but the plot and atmosphere are surprisingly solid and well-executed, including characters like David and Lucy. And I think, like most people who’ve seen the series, none of us are going to look at the moon the same way again. You want to know how good this anime is? It actually made people want to play Cyberpunk 2077. That alone is worthy of praise.
Demon Slayer – Entertainment District Arc
If you’re a fan of shonen action shows, this is a perfect time to be alive. There are plenty of excellent series that are ongoing and getting droves of fans pumped and excited year after year, but Demon Slayer is still the top dog in my eyes. The current arc, the Entertainment District Arc, is essentially just one gigantic fight scene, and it’s a gorgeous one at that, with various twists and turns and a climax that ranks as one of the most cathartic endings to any battle in an action series.
It’s a shame that the series doesn’t really utilize the setting all that much — hunting demons in a Japanese red light district — but that’s a problem the manga had as well. It’s a forgivable error, because if you’re watching Demon Slayer, you’re not here for the setting and world-building. You’re here for the heart-pounding action, and Demon Slayer is still the best game in town.
Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun
Have you ever had one of those shows or movies that is absolutely beautiful to watch that you never want to see again? That’s Made in Abyss — and its most recent season, The Golden City of the Scorching Sun, embodies that idea perfectly. I’ve always called the series the Dark Souls of anime because, while on the surface it’s a charming adventure starring a group of kids exploring this fantastical world, the horrors and abominations they encounter feel ripped out of the darkest nightmares of your subconscious. And this most recent arc ups the tragedy to unparalleled levels.
You can’t help but watch this beautiful story unfold as our main cast enters a village of peaceful monsters and stays with them for a time, discovering the truth and the horrors of the village’s foundation. By the end, you’re grateful for the time you spent watching it and will always remember it, but you never want to watch it again because of just how harrowing an experience it is. This series is one of the best examples of anime as art and one of the best of 2022.
Mob Psycho 100 III
Mob Psycho 100 has been one of the best anime every single year it releases due to the loveable cast of characters it develops, its iconic art style, and the emotional maturity the show has. This third and final season feels like an effective summation of everything the show has tried to accomplish over the course of its run. We’ve watched Mob grow from being a shy middle schooler who is afraid to use his psychic powers, to someone who is more confident in himself and willing to help out those around him.
The third season features some beautiful moments of character development for not only Mob, but for characters like his mentor Reigen or his ghostly ally Dimple, and a final string of episodes that drives home the growth that Mob has undergone over the years. But don’t worry, the dumb and absurdist humor is still here in full force — like a running joke that no one wants to tell Mob his shirt is absolutely hideous. I’ll be sad to see my boy go, but he’s grown so much and I’m so proud of what he’s accomplished and become over three seasons.
My Dress-Up Darling
The sleeper hit of the winter season, My Dress-Up Darling is a simple series about something that most anime fans can probably relate to: cosplay. The series offers a grounded and in-depth look at the cosplay community, going into excruciating detail on how costumes are made, makeup, cameras and lenses, and all of the behind-the-scenes details you overlook when thinking about the profession.
But the beating heart of the series is the slowly developing romance between Marin Kitagawa, a wannabe cosplayer with a clear passion for modeling, and her classmate Wakana Gojo, a Hina doll maker who uses his sewing skills to craft Marin’s outfits for shoots. Marin has such an infectious energy and passion for her likes that’s hard to ignore, and her gradually growing feelings for Gojo keep you invested in the series. You really do want these two kids to get together and form the power couple you know they can be. A second season has been announced, and it can’t get here soon enough.
Spy x Family
Comedy series can be hit or miss, but the multifaceted comedy in Spy x Family immediately gripped audiences when it began airing in the spring. The story of the Forger family, which includes a spy, an assassin, a telepath, and a precognitive dog, all living together and hiding their true identities from each other is a hilarious recipe for disaster. The series has some great jokes and sequences that play off of how hard the family tries to hide their identities from each other. However, it’s the multi-episode arcs that really bring home the bacon, like watching the family get a dog or Lloyd competing in a tennis tournament with his fellow spy partner.
Even when certain episodes aren’t quite as funny as others, the familial bonds established by the Forger family are enough to keep you going and rooting for them. Then again, this series would have probably been considered a best-anime-of-2022 contender if only for introducing the world to Anya’s fantastic facial expressions.
Uncle from Another World
Isekai is a subgenre within the anime world that you either love or hate due to its sheer popularity and prevalence within every single season. Audiences are just tired of watching someone be whisked away to a fantasy world by Truck-kun, but Uncle from Another World focuses on what happens after that person comes back. Then it goes even further by portraying this person as a social outcast both in the real world and the fantasy world, obsessed with basically everything related to Sega. It’s a weird blend for a comedy, but it nails its jokes every single time.
It’s a relatively small show with a small cast, but the writing and setup for the jokes hit more than they miss. And there is a lot of gamer-centric humor, like Uncle using his magical powers from the fantasy world to become a minor YouTuber who just uses the money to buy Sega Saturn stuff. Segata Sanshiro would approve.
These are what we deem to be the best anime of 2022, but sound off in the comments with your own favorites!