Unlike my best of 2015 not all of these things were released in 2016, but all of them were things that I experienced for the first time in 2016. I also excluded things that were in my best of 2015, such as Saga, which would have been my best comic this year as well.
In The Labyrinth of Drakes (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #4) by Marie Brennan
This is the fourth installment in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan. The series is set in victorian-esque times and follows Isabella, who is determined to become a dragon naturalist despite being scoffed at for being a woman. So basically think of it as a badass lady studying dragons amidst fantasy politics.
First off, this had an amazing cover and inside illustrations as usual! I swear this series just gets better with every book. In the Labyrinth of Drakes had the return of one of my favorite characters, a fascinating setting, dragons galore, and an abundance of political intrigue. Isabella is as witty as ever and the realistic science and character development make it seem so believable. I can’t forgo mentioning Marie Brennan’s lovely writing either, I had difficulty putting this down and ended up reading most of it in one sitting. I will also admit to exclaiming out loud in happiness at a certain part 😛 I am struggling with wanting the next and final book this very minute and not wanting the series to end. The struggle is real!
If you haven’t checked out this series, I highly recommend it!
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I couldn’t choose just one. I tried and tried but I couldn’t do it!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in the same universe as the Harry Potter series, but takes place in New York in the 1920’s. The movie follows Newt Scamander, a magizoologist from London, as he tries to make it to Arizona with a suitcase full of illegal magical creatures.
I will admit that I was terrified that this wouldn’t meet my extreme expectations, but somehow it managed. Newt and the rest of the cast (and the creatures) were so lovable; I couldn’t help but root for them. The story was darker than I was imagining it to be and it sucked me in completely. I rarely cry during movies but I will admit to tearing up while watching this, although I almost cried when I heard Hedwig’s Theme at the beginning of the movie because I was so happy that there was more from the world of Harry Potter, so maybe it was inevitable. I definitely need to re-watch this.
Rogue One is set in between Star Wars episodes 3 and 4, detailing how the Rebels captured the Death Star plans.
For a story where you basically know the outcome, this somehow went above and beyond my expectations, even managing to get me on the edge of my seat. This movie brought more depth and understanding to some parts of A New Hope while also standing on its own remarkably well. K-2SO and Chirrut were my favorite characters, which is pretty on-brand of me to be honest, and I’m pretty sure I laughed 99% of the time when K-2SO spoke. How do they keep coming up with such lovable droids? I need to re-watch this as well, especially with all the references.
Rick and Morty (seasons 1 and 2)
Rick and Morty is an adult off-color comedy following the adventures of Morty and his genius Grandpa, Rick, who is able to travel to other planets, dimensions, and alternate realities.
I had seen the pilot episode of this show when it first aired, but it was just “meh”. I ended up giving it another shot due to my boyfriend, cousin, and friends Rodger and Brittany insisting that it was absolutely worth it; THEY WERE RIGHT. I devoured both seasons and the wait for season 3 has been torture! I came into this show for the comedy but I somehow found myself legitimately upset at parts and genuinely caring for the characters. That doesn’t mean it isn’t funny, though! I laughed until I cried and find myself quoting the show constantly (mainly Morty’s Get Your Shit Together speech).
But seriously… WHERE IS SEASON 3!?
Hunter x Hunter (2011) and Death Parade
I know, I know… I have trouble picking just one!
Hunter x Hunter (the 2011 version, which follows the manga) is about a kid named Gon who discovers that his father, whom he thought was dead, is actually alive and a world-renowned Hunter. A Hunter is someone who performs dangerous tasks such as capturing criminals, treasure hunting, or finding rare animals. Gon then journeys to take the rigorous and dangerous Hunter exam in hopes of finding his father.
Holy shit, for an anime with such a childish art style this was brutal. I wont go into spoiler territory but be warned that this is not for kids! I watched all 148 episodes of this in a span of about two weeks because it was so addicting. It would have been less but I kept having to wait for my boyfriend to watch with me. The characters, the world-building, the plot, the animations, the comedy…. everything about this was phenomenal. (I’m addicted to the song Just Awake by Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas now, as well.) The only things that bothered me were how drawn out the last arc was and that it ended on a friggin cliff-hanger! Plus the manga has been on hiatus for years because the mangaka has trouble drawing due to pain. As someone with chronic pain, I completely understand, but I also want to know what happens so badly! Oh, I was also a little weirded out by some of the chimera ant outfits, but I suppose that’s not a substantial complaint haha. This anime really knew how to hit my emotions and get me pumped up. I need more! If you’re into shounen anime, definitely give this one a go, I’m obsessed! If you’ve already watched it, TALK TO ME ABOUT IT PLEASE 😀 Zach and I also watched Yu Yu Hakusho afterwards, which the creator of Hunter x Hunter made a while back. It was quite interesting to see the similarities and how his ideas from back then grew into something bigger in Hunter x Hunter.-
This is not very relevant but we also got to meet Chuck Huber, the English VA for Hiei (Yu Yu Hakusho) as well as other various characters! He was hilarious, kind, and down to earth!
Death Parade is an anime that I believe you should go into with relatively little knowledge, so suffice it to say that it’s about a bar where the recently deceased go. They then play games to decide their fate.
I want to start out by praising the beautiful art and animation style, it’s stunning. This was such a fascinating mix of emotions and twists, and all of the different games were so intriguing. While there was an overarching plot, this was mostly episodic and I still had trouble not hitting next episode when I was supposed to go to sleep. I find it difficult to review this without giving away anything, so I advise you just check it out for yourself. It’s an experience.
DanganRonpa (1 and 2) and the Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright trilogy
Shhh, this is the last time I chose two things, I promise! All of these are technically visual novels, but I still count them.
DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair are about fifteen students who get trapped inside of their school and are given an ultimatum by a remote-control teddy bear called Monokuma; Kill another student and get away with it, or stay trapped inside of the school forever. When a murder occurs a class trial is held and if the innocent students can successfully figure out who the killer is, the killer is executed. If they are wrong, they all die and the killer is free to leave the school alone. There are tons of different parts to DanganRonpa. Investigations, “normal” school days, class trials with rythm games, fps, logic puzzles, etc. It’s got a bit of everything!
Let me give you an idea of how much I loved DanganRonpa by stating that I cosplayed a human version of Monokuma at my local anime convention this year.
I even found some Hunter x Hunter cosplayers and was TOTALLY READY for this photo haha
but ON TO THE REVIEW:
DanganRonpa consumed my life to the point that I found myself barely sleeping or eating. Sad, but true. The mysteries are so well constructed, the characters are all so weird and intriguing, the gameplay is awesome, jiodsjfdiosfjs I can’t think of enough things to praise! I loved every second of this and I laid on my floor for hours after it ended wishing it wasn’t over. The third DanganRonpa was announced for 2017, but we have yet to get a release date! Agh! I even started playing the Zero Escape series, which was made by the same company, and it’s awesome but just not the same. I feel like DanganRonpa was made for me, it has so many things that cater specifically to my interests that wouldn’t ordinarily go together. It has freaking gashapon! Fair warning: As this is a visual novel there is a LOT of reading involved. There is voice acting for some of it, but far from all of it, so if you’re not into that it may not be for you. I’m not sure why you’re reading a blog if you aren’t into reading, though…. Anyways! If I had to pick one thing on this list to recommend it would 120% be DanganRonpa.
In the Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright trilogy you play as Pheonix (Nick), a new attorney, and try to get your clients a Not Guilty verdict. You investigate crime scenes, cross-examine witnesses in court, present evidence to point out contradictions, and answer questions from the judge and prosecutor.
I find the localization of this game to be ridiculously funny. We’re in America, where everyone is Japanese and obsessed with traditional Japanese things! Except burgers! We love burgers in America!
Ace Attorney is addicting as well, and the more I played the more invested I was in the characters. The characters make some ridiculous decisions for the sake of plot that bother me to no end, but it’s so fun that I don’t even care. Figuring out a challenging bit of this game is intensely satisfying and I definitely plan on playing the other games. It was intended for this trilogy to be it, but the success of the game prompted them to make more which makes me ecstatic! There is also a crossover with Professor Layton that I’m looking forward to, but I should really play some more Layton before I dive into it. That was sort of a tangent, but continuing on I have to comment on the various witnesses, victims, side characters, etc., and how very quirky and amusing they are. I love mysteries so this game was pure fun!
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (#1-#15)
Hi family, if you’re reading this! It’s not as bad as it looks, I promise!
Sex Criminals is about two characters who, when they have sex, can stop time. So they decide to go rob banks. I KNOW, IT’S WEIRD! It’s part comedy and part real, human issues, and the story is much deeper than I assumed. (and no, that’s not a pun.)
My boyfriend made me read this and I was completely skeptical. Some of the jokes are a bit too gross for me but most of it is hysterical. The best part of this comic, however, is the characters! Suzie and Jon are so well-developed and HUMAN. Plus they continue to grow in a natural way. Their relationship is realistic, minus the stopping time part of course, and I’m rooting for them hardcore! This is coming from someone who generally avoids romance in media, so I’m serious when I say that this is beautifully crafted! I love that the characters aren’t drawn to be unrealistically hot, too! Jon has a giant nose and Suzie is curvy but they’re still both adorable. Also Suzie is a librarian and book nerd soooo I may have a soft spot for her. This story touches on real issues like asexuality and it’s honestly an extremely touching story. (AGAIN, NOT A PUN!)
If this even sounds remotely interesting, you can get the first volume on Humble Bundle right now (offer ends on the 31st on January) and the money goes to charity! It’s $15 for Sex Criminals and comes with dozens of other comics as well. If you pay $20 you can get Saga, which is my all time favorite comic, along with several more.
Farewell, 2016 and welcome, 2017.
New year, new…. hair?