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The Best Anime Of 2022 So Far

With shows and movies on virtually every major streaming platform and feature films getting wide theatrical releases, the anime medium is bigger than ever in the United States. Whether it's Japanese animation studios teaming up with Hollywood to give established properties an anime adaptation or a growing wave of Japanese programming licensed in America, the medium is undeniably in the mainstream. This year was packed with new series making their respective debuts and fan-favorites returning with new episodes, proving that they haven't lost a step in the interim.

With so much anime to choose from, across a multitude of genres and animation styles, it is easy to lose track of which shows and movies stood above the rest. Fortunately, Looper is here to sort through all the anime released in 2022 to determine which are the very best of the year so far. Here are the best anime series released throughout 2022, and why each one stands above the competition among truly captivating works within the medium.

Spy x Family

Espionage action and family comedy go hand-in-hand in the anime series "Spy x Family," based on the manga series of the same name by Tatsuya Endo. The story follows a covert operative codenamed Twilight who is tasked with spying on a politician from a neighboring rival nation incognito. In order to maintain an effective cover, Twilight brings on a woman and a young girl to pose as his wife and daughter as he moves close to his target through the politician's children. However, Twilight is unaware that his makeshift family has major secrets of their own, complicating his mission more than he could ever imagine.

Mining plenty of humor from Twilight's double life and the odd family dynamics he has taken on to go undercover, "Spy x Family" takes advantage of its cloak-and-dagger premise as a means for hilarity. Yor and Anya, Twilight's presumed wife and daughter, respectively, bring a legitimate amount of emotional depth to the story while comically throwing off Twilight's well-planned assignment. The first half of the anime series debuted in April of 2022, with the second half launching in October. "Spy x Family" is available to stream on Hulu and Crunchyroll.

The Orbital Children

One of the earliest anime releases of the year was "The Orbital Children," written and directed by Mitsuo Iso and originally released separately as two feature films in January and February, respectively. Set in 2045, the movie has a group of children arriving on a space station that is severely damaged after being struck by a comet. As the children struggle to find a way to survive, they are observed by the station's artificial intelligence in its examination of humanity.

"The Orbital Children" has a very striking animation style, with relatively simplified character designs contrasted by its immersive science fiction setting and unique approach to kinetics. "The Orbital Children" takes the hard sci-fi aesthetics Iso previously employed with "Ghost in the Shell" and presents them with a coming-of-age twist. "The Orbital Children" is currently available to stream on Netflix, where it was released as a six-episode miniseries instead of two cinematic installments.

Attack on Titan

The dark fantasy series "Attack on Titan" has taken its time in unveiling its fourth and final season, dividing the concluding chapters into three distinct acts released over the course of three years. 2022 saw the release of the middle act in Season 4, with the story taking a shocking turn as it expands beyond the Kingdom of Paradis. Following protagonist Eren Yeager, "Attack on Titan" has tension between Paradis and the outside world reach a fever pitch, giving way to plenty of bloody violence.

Adapting the manga series of the same name by Hajime Isayama, "Attack on Titan" takes place in a medieval steampunk world beset by carnivorous giants known as Titans. Over the course of the series, the Titans are discovered to be engineered superweapons that have largely broken free from their original control. Taking viewers through plenty of twists and turns, "Attack on Titan" ends this stretch of episodes on a dark cliffhanger to build anticipation for the series finale, with the show available to stream on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

Ranking of Kings

The high fantasy genre gets a lighthearted twist through the eyes of a precocious child in the anime series "Ranking of Kings," based on the manga by Sosuke Toka. The series takes place in a world where regents are ranked by the gods, with the highest-ranking king given access to a mythical treasure. When the naïve young Bojji ascends to the throne after the death of his father, he is targeted by shadowy figures who seek to immediately oust him from his royal position of power.

With Bojji being a character with a hearing impairment, "Ranking of Kings" goes through careful detail to depict how he communicates with sign language. The show's heartwarming and virtuous qualities have been lauded by fans worldwide, with the show concluding its initial run in March 2022. "Ranking of Kings" is currently available to stream on Crunchyroll, with a special episode slated to premiere in 2023.

Lycoris Recoil

From "Sailor Moon" to "Kill la Kill," the magical girl friendship squad has become a well-worn sub-genre in anime, and the new series "Lycoris Recoil" breathes fresh life into it. Protagonist Takina Inoue leads a government-assembled squad of assassins, codenamed Lycoris, to defend Tokyo from terrorists and criminals while disguised as high schoolers. After Takina is officially disavowed for a mission gone disastrously wrong, she tries to find a way to get reinstated into her old government job.

One of the things that makes "Lycoris Recoil" work is that the show is less about magical girls but sanctioned covert operatives armed to the teeth with guns and gadgets. The premise feels like "Atomic Blonde" in Japan instead of Cold War Germany, with stylized action unfolding while the characters play off each other with engaging wit. Debuting in the summer of 2022, the first season of "Lycoris Recoil" is currently available to stream on Crunchyroll.

Tekken: Bloodline

The popular fighting game franchise "Tekken" received its own original anime series on Netflix in August 2022 with the new show "Tekken: Bloodline." Loosely adapting several of the story elements introduced in the game "Tekken 3," "Bloodline" follows the young martial artist Jin Kazama, who is raised in relative seclusion by his mother Jun. After Jun is murdered by a demon, Jin is raised by his cruel grandfather Heihachi, who trains him in martial arts until he enters a high-stakes fighting tournament years later against formidable opponents.

Featuring a blend of 2D and 3D animation, "Tekken: Bloodline" is a frenetically action-packed series that brings many of the fighting game's cast to life while keeping the focus on Jin's emotional journey. With dazzling fight sequences that echo some of the styles and techniques of the games, "Bloodline" is a must-see for fans of the long-running franchise. The six-episode first season is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Uncle from Another World

While "Uncle from Another World" opens with a seemingly familial slice-of-life premise, it quickly takes a turn with self-aware fantasy elements. Based on the manga series by Hotondoshindeiru, Takafumi Takaoka picks up his uncle Yosuke Shibazaki after the older man emerges from a lengthy coma. Yosuke reveals he spent his time in a coma in a fantasy world, proving this bold claim by being able to cast magical spells — to Takafumi's obvious surprise — and the two begin taking advantage of Yosuke's powers.

More than just transposing fantasy elements into present-day Japan, "Uncle from Another World" plays out like a fish-out-of-water comedy as Yosuke acclimates to modern society. One of the funnier elements of the series is Yosuke's deep love of '90s era Sega video games informing how he uses his powers and strategies as a nerdy twist. Uncle from Another World is available to stream on Netflix, with a second set of episodes unveiled in November 2022.

Komi Can't Communicate

The popular manga series "Komi Can't Communicate" by Tomohito Oda eschews any overt science fiction or fantasy elements to instead focus on a slice-of-life teenage coming-of-age story, and its anime adaptation follows suit. Following the antics of high schooler Hitohito Tadano and his unrequited love interest Shoko Komi, the second season of the hit anime series aired in the summer of 2022. Deepening its character relationships and motivations while continuing to deliver screwball comedy, "Komi Can't Communicate" goes bigger and better for its sophomore season.

The anime series follows Komi, a new student at an elite private high school who immediately is catapulted into popularity for her beauty and grace. However, Komi finds it hard to communicate with others and enlists Tadano to help her overcome these complications and make friends. A fun-filled comedy about life and love in high school that sticks firmly to its strengths, "Komi Can't Communicate" is available to stream on Netflix.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean

The manga series "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure" by Hirohiko Araki took the unique storytelling pattern of focusing each of its major story arcs on a different protagonist, each bearing a variation of the name Jojo. The manga's sixth storyline, "Stone Ocean," is the latest adapted by the current anime series, with elements updated for modern audience sensibilities. Set in Port St. Lucie, Florida in the year 2011, "Stone Ocean" follows Jolyne Cujoh, the estranged daughter of the former series protagonist Jotaro Kujo.

"Stone Ocean" has Jolyne learn that her father is being targeted by a protege of the villainous Dio Brando, with Jolyne breaking out of prison to save her dad and recover his stolen powers. Giving "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure" a hard revenge angle, Jolyne is a charismatically determined protagonist that makes the show her own. Split into three acts, "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean" released its final two sets of episodes on Netflix in 2022 to wrap up Jolyne's violent vendetta.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

While the video game "Cyberpunk 2077" may have received a mixed response when it debuted in 2020, the anime spinoff series "Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" has debuted to much warmer accolades. Produced by veteran Japanese animation company Studio Trigger, "Edgerunners" offers an immersive look at Night City, the world from the game, through the eyes of protagonist David Martinez. After David's promising high school studies are derailed by a violent tragedy, he receives extensive cybernetic implants and becomes one of the black market mercenaries known in Night City as edgerunners.

A gorgeous expansion of the world of the game, "Edgerunners" really brings Night City to vibrant life in ways that the game itself never quite could. With soaring action through the streets and rooftops of Night City and an engaging cast, "Edgerunners" takes full advantage of its setting and premise to earn its cyberpunk moniker. With "Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" conceived as a standalone story (via HypeBeast), the complete 10-episode series is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Do It Yourself!!

The new anime series "Do It Yourself!!" is as much a celebration of teenage friendship as it is about taking the initiative towards self-empowerment and forging one's own destiny. The show revolves around a group of high school girls who form an extracurricular do-it-yourself club while thinking about life after school. Featuring an imaginative and lush animation style, "Do It Yourself!!" provides a solid slice-of-life story with its heavy themes of self-discovery and found family.

Bolstered by a main cast of eight different friends who come together over their mutual love of building and repairing things, "Do It Yourself!!" has a surprisingly diverse set of backgrounds for its characters. The show keeps its stakes heartfelt yet subtle, focusing more on the bonds forged between friends and how the differences between their backgrounds and outlooks are overcome. "Do It Yourself!!" is currently available to stream on Crunchyroll, with new episodes released on Thursdays.

Mob Psycho 100

The anime medium is full of coming-of-age stories, each with their own twist in the ongoing effort to find surprising new directions for the genre. For "Mob Psycho 100," based on the manga series by One, the show centers around a teenage protagonist nicknamed Mob who secretly possesses immense psychic abilities, and his trials and tribulations while attending middle school. Determined to ensure his awesome powers do not go out of control, Mob keeps his emotions tightly in check, though his suppressed feelings come under threat as he begins working for a local conman.

Widely acclaimed since its premiere in 2016 (per Crunchyroll), "Mob Psycho 100" has been praised for its inventive and explosive action set pieces as Mob puts his powers to use. The series returned for its eagerly anticipated third season in October 2022, with Mob thinking more about his eventual career beyond school. "Mob Psycho 100" is currently available to stream on Hulu and Crunchyroll.

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War

The biggest and most surprising anime return of the year was "Bleach," coming back with new episodes after its initial run ended in 2012. After a decade-long hiatus, the fantasy series is back to adapt the final storyline in Tite Kubo's bestselling manga series, "Thousand-Year Blood War." To further underscore that this is a continuation of the original "Bleach" anime series, production studio Pierrot is back behind the production, along with much of the voice cast returning.

"Bleach" takes place in a vision of Japan where figures known as Soul Reapers are able to move between the living world and the afterlife, ensuring that souls of the recently departed can safely cross over to the Soul Society. When a new enemy begins targeting Soul Reapers, series protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki dives back into the heat of battle to defend the Soul Society and the lost souls it safeguards. Back where it left off a decade ago and then some, "Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War" is a fine return to form and is available to stream on Hulu.

My Hero Academia

"My Hero Academia" is easily one of the biggest anime franchises in the world, and the wait for the hit show's sixth season finally ended in 2022. Following the previous year's canonical anime film "My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission," the television series returns to adapt the "Paranormal Liberation War" story arc from the manga series by Kohei Horikoshi. Moving into darker, more action-driven territory, "My Hero Academia" ups the superhero intensity as the fate of U.A. High School hangs in the balance.

"My Hero Academia" takes place in a world where superpowers are widespread, with aspiring heroes attending private high schools to hone their abilities and learn about their civic duties. Season 6 has the villainous Paranormal Liberation Front preparing to launch an all-out war to conquer the world and defeat the Pro Heroes, with the teenage hero Deku moving to stop them. A self-aware meditation on the entire superhero genre with plenty of twists along the way, "My Hero Academia" Season 6 is available to stream on Hulu and Crunchyroll.

Chainsaw Man

If "My Hero Academia" delves into more conventional superhero action, the new anime series "Chainsaw Man" effectively blends superhero action with supernatural horror to tremendous success. Based on the popular manga series by Tatsuki Fujimoto, the show has an orphan named Denji merge with his pet chainsaw devil Pochita to become Chainsaw Man. With the pull of a ripcord from his chest, Denji's head and hands transform into deadly chainsaws as he hunts monsters and devils across Japan.

Elevated with a surprising amount of heart and humor, "Chainsaw Man" is the strongest anime series debut of the year, and a nonstop thrill ride. Living up to its protagonist's powers and appearance, the show doesn't pull its punches as Denji rips through enemies with his chainsaw appendages while remembering to have fun with it all. A rip-roaring triumph that balances action, horror, and comedy all at once, "Chainsaw Man" is available to stream on Hulu and Crunchyroll.