The Best Anime Of The Summer 2022 Season

(Welcome to I Didn't Know What Seasonal Anime to Watch, So I Asked Slashfilm for Help and They Gave Me a List, a regular column dedicated to helping choose what anime shows to watch each season.)

Spring and fall are traditionally the two biggest anime seasons, packed with blockbusters and surefire hits. Winter and summer are comparatively slow. Don't hold that against summer, though. Some of the best anime ever made aired over summer seasons, including "Mob Psycho 100" and "Penguindrum." This summer boasted its own set of surprises, including the year's most successful original anime so far; a sequel to an all-time problematic fave; a bizarre comedy series that takes the piss out of mass-produced "isekai" stories; and a video game adaptation that launched its namesake to the top of the Steam bestseller lists. Not to mention the streaming debut of one of the best anime movies of the past few years.

Once again, Adam and Rafael return to give the curious viewer a tour through last season's most fascinating anime productions.

Lycoris Recoil

"Lycoris Recoil" is a concoction made of ingredients you've almost certainly seen before. Its heroines Chisato and Takina are high school girls with guns trained by a secret police state to incapacitate criminal actors before they register in the public eye. Chisato is a warm and bubbly presence with a strict policy of nonviolent takedowns. Takina is a brutally efficient marksman ejected from the upper ranks for her willingness to put the lives of her squad at risk. When they aren't knocking out hitmen with "non-lethal" bullets, they work side by side in a cafe and slowly grow closer to each other. Chisato and Takina individually could have been borrowed from any other popular anime made in the past few years. But together, their chemistry is off the charts.

Shingo Adachi, a popular animator and character designer, directs "Lycoris Recoil" with deceptive ease. The show has its share of exciting action sequences, but it always puts the characters first. Chisato and Takina are distinguished from their boilerplate stereotypes by energetic vocal performances and lively movement. For those tired of anime about high schoolers, there's even a messy romance between two older men at the heart of the story. Not everything in "Lycoris Recoil" works; its attempts at political commentary, for instance, come to nothing. But there's a reason why the series has dominated the fan art scene this summer, as well as the brain of Hideo Kojima. Few other anime from this year (much less original projects) have been as successful at giving audiences exactly what they want. (Adam Wescott)

Streaming on: Crunchyroll

Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun

If ever there was a show that is perfectly described by the saying "looks can be deceiving," it's "Made in Abyss." The cute-looking show about cute kids exploring a vast chasm in the middle of a mountain starts out relatively safe before quickly becoming one of the most disturbing anime airing right now. Season two doubles down on it, with creatures being torn apart in horrific ways for convoluted reasons, where blood coming out of one's eyes is a normal sight, where children being traumatized, abused, and even torn to shreds is a weekly occurrence.

What makes "Made in Abyss" great is that it is still compelling to watch in spite of all that, or maybe even because of it. Its themes are exquisitely brought to the surface, the character development is stellar, and as always, Kevin Penkin's score is hauntingly beautiful and ethereal. This is definitely a problematic show, but few anime manage to capture your attention the way "Made in Abyss" does. (Rafael Motamayor)

Streaming on: HIDIVE

Revue Starlight: The Movie

"Revue Starlight" began as a series of musicals depicting the life of "stage girls," high schoolers trained for musical productions evoking Japan's famous Takarazuka Revue. An anime series followed, blowing the dramatics of the theatrical production to even more surreal extremes. This new movie, following the lives of the anime's cast in their last days before graduation, dispenses with plot entirely and goes straight for baroque visual excess. A six-against-one sword fight on the back of a transforming subway train; a giraffe made of vegetables burning with cosmic light; a hilarious sports marathon that inverts abruptly into stark horror. These are just a few of the highlights of "Revue Starlight: The Movie," which has even more outrageous surprises in store.

"Revue Starlight: The Movie" has no heroes and villains, just senior drama students with beef. Their future lies beyond the world of the Revue, on a stage of their own making. But even if this film lacks the time-warping dangers and conspiracies of the original television series, the stakes still feel colossal. Each character must decide who they are and where they are going. The answers to these questions are couched in words but staged as sheer audiovisual catharsis. I liked the "Revue Starlight" TV show but didn't love it. The movie, though, convinced me that director Tomohiro Furukawa and his crew are some of the most exciting people working in the anime industry today. Bring on their next project! (Adam Wescott)

Streaming on: HIDIVE

Uncle From Another World

Without a doubt the funniest comedy of the season, "Uncle From Another World" is the spiritual successor to "The Devil Is a Part-Timer!" that we needed, rather than the actual successor we got. The show is a new twist on the isekai genre and follows a man who wakes up from a 17-year coma caused by a fateful encounter with the legend Truck-kun, only it turns out he spent that time in a fantasy world going on adventures. The comedy from the show comes from two fish-out-of-water sources — Uncle's stories from living in a fantasy world, and his adapting them to modern times. 

It is absolutely hilarious to see the deadpan deliveries of Uncle's stories of the fantasy world being nothing like the power fantasies we're used to seeing in isekai shows, but rather horror stories of how miserable he was and how much everyone wanted to kill him. Then, in modern times, Uncle and his nephew try to navigate a world without VHS, and without Uncle's precious SEGA (he is a huge video game nerd). Whether you're an isekai expert tired of the same show every season, or just someone who appreciates some good comedy and video game references, "Uncle From Another World" is an absolute treat. (Rafael Motamayor)

Streaming on: Netflix

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

"Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" is set within the world of "Cyberpunk 2077," an undercooked mess of a videogame that has only now achieved relevance two years after its disastrous launch. Thankfully, you don't need to know anything about "2077" to enjoy "Edgerunners." Scriptwriter Bartosz Sztybor sticks closely to the basics, tracking the rise and fall of teenage cyberpunk David Martinez. His standard script is jolted to life by director Hiroyuki Imaishi and his team at Studio Trigger, who pack "Edgerunners" with stylish ultraviolence, blaring neon colors and a sweary young woman named Rebecca with a big gun.

"Edgerunners" runs hot and cold for me, but its best moments are some of my favorites this year. Episode 6 in particular is a masterpiece, a true descent into madness storyboarded by "SSSS.Gridman" wunderkind Kai Ikarashi. Just like in "Gridman," the crew's respect for the source material is present in every burst of viscera and splintered bone. It's no wonder that the series has led to a "Cyberpunk 2077" renaissance online, even if I can't help but wish those fans would go buy "Shadowrun: Dragonfall" instead. Does "Dragonfall" have Rebecca in it, though? I don't think so. (Adam Wescott)

Streaming on: Netflix