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7 Genre Trends of 2016 So Far

by Lynzee Loveridge,

Each season, viewers are treated to over 20 new shows ranging from the latest entry in a long-established mecha franchise, an adaptation for Shonen Jump's top-rated manga, or a vehicle in a multi-arm merchandise-selling machine. Certain staples remain consistent, so much so that they're synonymous with anime itself. The high school harem fanservice comedy, a pseudo-political gritty sci-fi set in the not so distant future, or super-powered teens doing their super-powered thing. It's the flavors: the setting and window dressings around these familiar concepts that change out.

We're halfway through 2016, with most of the July season and a cursory view of October in sight. What trends, or flavors, have dominated the year so far and what kind of predictions can we make about the remainder based on that? Many of the shows we're seeing green-lit are a direct response to recent tent-pole shows that moved units, whether its home video, manga volumes, magazines, video game tie-ins or other merchandise. Production companies attempt capture this phenomenon over and over.

Nostalgia-Based If you've paid attention merchandise sales over the last few years, it seems like every big hit of the 90s is getting a fresh coat of paint for its 20+ year anniversary. Sailor Moon kicked things off with the announcement of a new series in 2012 before languishing for a year past its premiere date and ultimately becoming the subject of immense criticism. The nostalgia train could have died there, but waves of merchandise ensured a third season and other franchises followed suit. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure continues to crusade forward and adapt further chapters of Hirohiko Araki's manga and Ushio & Tora revisited an underappreciated shonen manga from the 1990s, much like last year's adaptation of Parasyte. D. Gray-man Hallow, Berserk, Time Bokan 24, the Digimon films, and Nurse Witch Komugi R are all examples of this recent nostalgia-driven trend. The next big one? The new Cardcaptor Sakura anime project.

Physically Transported to a Fantasy-Game Style World A fish-out-of-water protagonist who finds himself in, by some contrivance, in a world of swords of sorcery has existed for a long time. Before Sword Art Online specifically made that world a "game", anime fans had El Hazard, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Fushigi Yugi. The specific game aspect is one creators are still enjoying tweaking. KonoSuba, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, and Re: Zero are all shows that, at surface level, are messing around with this "stuck in a game" genre. It's also since splintered, with a separate subset focusing on gamers in the real world and their lives within MMOs, like Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation and And you thought there is never a girl online?. Arguably, you can also credit the recent fantasy-style mobile game anime adaptations to the same trend.

Magic Battle School This is possibly the most by-the-books trend showing the least amount of variation. 2016 did not invent the elite school magic powered teens and as a theme, it seems content to continue to be exactly what it sounds like with protagonists and romantic interests that are easily interchangeable. Whether you find this rote or not, we've gotten incarnations of these already this year, five if you want to count My Hero Academia. Masō Gakuen H×H will carry the torch into July where it will inevitably be passed again.

Fujoshi-targeted Sports Fujoshi have rallied around sports shows for a long time, regardless of whether the manga or anime was created with them in mind. The kids' soccer anime Inazuma Eleven is an example of this.The phenomenon started to pick up and creators got wise that they could draw an audience outside of their magazine's demographic if they laid enough hints out to promote shipping. Series with character designs that could hardly be called "bishōnen" like Haikyu!! and Yowamushi Pedal were successful. Both are getting third seasons . Multimedia project Prince of Stride: Alternative tried to get a piece of the audience in January. In fact, every other sport is set-up to take a shot with soccer (DAYS), baseball (Battery), rugby (All Out!!), and male cheerleading (Cheer Boys!!) on the slate this year.

Male Idols Love Live and The [email protected] are the two idol behemoths, managing crossover appeal to both men and women. Ongoing shows like PriPara and Aikatsu Stars do the same for the younger generation. The original Love Live multimedia project is hoping to maintain its speed with the new Love Live Sunshine crew. Meanwhile, production companies continue to try to capture a female audience equivalent with a male idol show. There's been some success with Uta no Prince-sama, which is getting its fourth season this year. Tsukiuta THE ANIMATION, B-Project: Kodo Ambitious, and Scared Rider Xechs are all attempts to work that angle, perhaps with more success than Starmyu (although it's getting a second season anyway).

Mystery Before you say "mystery isn't a trend, it's a genre in and of itself!", note that it was easily the most ignored. For many years, sleuthing fans made due with Detective Conan while the industry churned out romantic comedies, sci-fi spectacles, and psychic-powered battle shows. Suddenly, mystery is in vogue again, both the emotionally charged (Haruchika) to race against the clock whodunits (ERASED). The currently airing The Lost Village and upcoming Trickster are also heavily mystery influenced. Unfortunately, The Lost Village can't decide whether its reveling in its own B-movie ridiculousness or is just really, really bad.

Food "How does food bond people together?" This is a question anime seems particularly concerned with lately and several shows this year are attempting to answer that question in varying levels. Shokugeki no Sōma: Ni no Sara looks to food as a battlefield where emotions can be captured in a perfect dish. Pan de Peace gives viewers small slices of friendship and school life over baked goods. This year's Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness & Lightning) and Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari (Poco's Udon World) use cuisine as vessel to connect and show love for children.

The new poll: What are your opinions on the seven trends listed? Which are you enjoying and which have you bored? Let us know in the poll!

The old poll: Which of these club managers is the most attractive?
  1. Kiyoko Shimizu (Haikyu!!) 19.5%
  2. Iroha Isshiki (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!) 15.3%
  3. Gou/Kou Matsuoka (Free!) 14.6%
  4. Sen "Ice Witch" Yarizui (Ben-To) 7.9%
  5. Hitoka Yachi (Haikyu!!) 5.4%
  6. Sawako Yamanaka (K-On!) 5.4%
  7. Satsuki Momoi (Kuroko's Basketball) 5.0%
  8. Riko Aida (Kuroko's Basketball) 3.3%
  9. Nagisa Furukawa (CLANNAD) 2.6%
  10. Mamori Anezaki (Eyeshield 21) 2.5%
  11. Renge Hōshakuji (Ouran High School Host Club) 2.4%
  12. Nene Mōri (Princess Nine) 2.2%
  13. Mako Mankanshoku: (Kill la Kill) 2.2%
  14. Ayako (Slam Dunk) 1.8%
  15. Yukino Yukinoshita (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!) 1.6%
  16. Minami Kawashima (Moshidora) 1.3%
  17. Miki Kanzaki (Yowamushi Pedal) 1.1%
  18. Minami Asakura (Touch) 1.1%
  19. Nao Tomori (Charlotte) 1.1%
  20. Chiyo Shinooka (Big Windup!) 1.0%

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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