Kuro’s favorite things in 2022

Another year, another list of favorite things! I get a kick out of reading other people’s favorites lists, and I enjoy compiling my own. I hope some of you like it too. :>

You might notice that this year there’s no anime on the list! Sadly, there was none I particularly liked. There’s still lots of isekai and lots of teasing shows, and not a lot of stuff attempting more meaningful stories. Hopefully next year (or should I say, this year) brings us more interesting offerings. If you think I missed a hidden gem, let me know!

Still, I think you’ll find the list here is plenty big. Without further ado, these were my favorite things in 2022.

  1. Games
  2. Manga
  3. Movies
  4. TV shows
  5. Music


Patrick’s Parabox (2022) – Patrick Traynor

Personal score: 10/10

Patrick’s Parabox is a sokoban puzzle game whose gimmick is based around the programming concept of recursion. Imagine a regular block-pushing sokoban game, with the wrinkle that each block can contain a level in itself, and you’re able to enter and exit blocks to solve puzzles. The game expands on these ideas of recursion in really clever and surprising ways.

I was wary going into this game because it’s not the first puzzle game playing with the concept of recursion. Recursed has attempted this before, and I found it to be a case test in how not to design a puzzle game; The recursive puzzles very quickly became too tangled and hard to follow, and it failed to offer any satisfying a-ha moments that you expect from a puzzle game.

Thankfully, Patrick’s Parabox is the complete opposite experience. It’s rich with brilliant puzzles that are minimal and elegant and expose interesting idea upon interesting idea. And they don’t feel needlessly hard, which I appreciate. It’s not like a Baba level where you might get stuck on it for hours. In the over 350 levels I never got stuck for more than like 25 minutes. Very accessible, but still pretty mind bending.

Highly recommended!


This was the year of manga for me. For a long time I’d fallen off the wagon, and there was a growing list of stuff on my list to try. 2021 got the wheels spinning for me, and this year I decided to go all out. I tried a crazy amount of stuff. All in all, I tried over 230 individual manga! Here is the complete list in a google doc.

Some of these manga I quit after a couple of chapters, some I quit after a volume or two, some I read the whole thing. Didn’t matter if it looked interesting or not, if the genre seemed up my alley or not, I downloaded it and gave it a shot. I’ve learned that judging a book by its cover is a recipe for not finding good stories, so I tried to fight my instincts and try everything (barring some super generic-looking isekai – even I’ve had too much of that. :p)

Seeing the list above and the picks below, you might be surprised that no high profile manga made it in. To be honest, I was surprised too. I wasn’t especially trying to build these up – I tried to approach every manga the same, and I just genuinely thought most of those cult manga were on the weak side compared to the breadth of things I tried. I can see why they’d have been influential at the time, but by today’s standards I think most of them don’t hold up.

So, what did I like? Here’s my favorites below! >:3

Ciguatera (2021-2022) – Minoru Furuya

Personal score: 9.5/10

My favorite manga of the year this year, by a landslide, is Minoru Furuya’s Ciguatera. More than anything else I tried, this felt like the work of a true master; Incredible visual language, spectacular writing, and a really heightened sense for how to write engaging stories. This thing took me on a ride. It’s a shame it took almost 20 years to have the first manga from this author brought overseas to English readers, but I’m glad it finally happened. And huge props to Vertical and Kodansha for giving this the all-star treatment. The translation and physical edition are excellent.

As much as I love this work and want to get everyone to read it, it’s not a manga for everyone. If there’s one word to describe Ciguatera, it’s intense. There’s some themes of violent and sexual nature that are going to turn away a lot of people, but if you can handle something more mature, and you’re looking for something interesting and nuanced, then you may love this like I did.

Ciguatera is the story of an awkward boy who gets picked on and who finds escape in the world of motorcycles. He studies to get his license and gets his first girlfriend, and this is the story of him navigating his journey into adulthood, and the stories of the adjacent people in his life. It’s painfully relatable, equal parts hilarious and terrifying. It’s a story that feels like it has no fluff, even though so much of it is about small slice-of-life vignettes. It kept me fully immersed for its 900 or so pages, and has carved a solid spot among my favorites. Probably one of my top 3 favorite manga of all time now. I love it.

Skip and Loafer (2018-ongoing) – Misaki Takamatsu

Personal score: 9/10

School rom coms are a dime a dozen, and it’s rare you find ones that are particularly good. Skip and Loafer is one of those special ones.

It’s the story of this cute country bumpkin girl who’s come to live with her aunt in the big city to attend high school. She’s a girl so pure and good-hearted that people can’t help but be drawn to her, and she develops a great friendship with a few other lovable misfits.

It’s a highly shandified story – meaning instead of having a single main story thread, it instead changes POV to different characters every other chapter, and explores the things going on with them. It’s akin to Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story. And this is where the excellent writing really shines. It has the kind of depth and nuance to make this work. There’s so many beautiful and relatable moments of people dealing with their own struggles and trying to be better people. With every volume you fall more and more in love with its growing cast of characters. There’s so much heart and genuine craft in this unassuming-looking title.

Highly recommended!

Land of the Lustrous (2017-ongoing) – Haruko Ichikawa

Personal score: 8.5/10

In a distant future where humanity has gone extinct, a single mass of land remains where sentient lifeforms made of jewels live. Every character embodies a different gem, and they spend their days dealing with attacks by the Lunarians, a mysterious moon race that’s trying to capture them.

It’s a weird ass plot and the tone of the manga is equally weird. But the weirdness allows them to explore some really interesting characterization and social dynamics; What happens to the way you think if you’re immortal? What if you’re a really weak gem that is so brittle that they’re unable to fight and help your community? What happens if you lose part of your body, where your memories are embedded? The manga explores lots of super interesting philosophical ideas, while at the same time presenting a really compelling story and mystery.

It’s a manga that’s a very slow burner. The anime adaption covers roughly the first 5 volumes, but it’s not until volume 6 that things really get hot, and by volume 8 things have reached such an electric fever pitch that you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. The curtain is pulled back and the reveals are insane; Volume 8 of this manga was one of the most exciting volumes of manga I’ve ever read. It was that good. And the story gets darker and more twisted as it goes. It’s fascinating.

It can be a bit of a rough manga to start due to its early slow pace and weird tone and art, so I recommend giving the anime adaptation a try, and if you’re intrigued, know that that’s just the beginning, and the manga gets crazy after that. Super cool manga.

Blue Giant (2020-2022) – Shinichi Ishizuka

Personal score: 8.5/10

Blue Giant is the story of a boy who decides he wants to become the greatest jazz player who ever lived. It’s a passion he develops rather late in life, but what he is missing in experience he more than makes up for with tenacity, and we follow his journey into adulthood.

You might think, how the heck are they going to do a manga about jazz? Music, of all things, something you can’t represent in manga. I did too. But damn, I should’ve known better. And I’m here to tell you you should too, and don’t dismiss this manga!

Stories are not about what the characters are doing, but the context of what they’re doing it and how. It’s about relationships, life, success, failure, and growth. It’s super well written and executed, and a joy to read. Highly recommended!

The Girl From The Other Side (2017-2021) – NAGABE

Personal score: 8.0/10

Another fascinating manga. This is a dark fantasy story about a world where a plague has broken out that curses people and turns them into mindless black monsters. As a result of this, the kingdom has walled itself off from the world into what’s now referred to as the Inside, and everyone who has been cursed and banished to the Outside is referred to as an outsider. We follow a little girl who’s been abandoned on the Outside, being taken care of by an outsider. In time, the girl becomes hunted by the dark creatures who seek her soul, and the insiders who believe she’s the key to curing the curse.

The art style in this is amazing. It’s like if you took an old comic style like Calvin & Hobbes, mixed it with a gothic fantasy world like Dark Souls, and added some anime sensibilities to it. The result is just gorgeous. Tons of beautiful haunting imagery.

I don’t want to spoil any more, but you should totes give this a try if it sounds interesting.

My Wife Has No Emotion (2020-ongoing) – Jiro Sugiura

Personal score: 8/10

Probably like a lot of people, I read the title and dismissed this manga as a weird gag story. It wasn’t until I flipped through its pages on a whim that my interest did a complete 180. Turns out this is actually quite interesting!

My elevator pitch for this manga is that it’s a more mature Chobits. In an alternate reality where people own sophisticated domestic robots, our protagonist is a young salaryman who buys a cheap used CL MINA, a basic cooking and cleaning robot. The protagonist, lonely and deprived of social contact, ends up developing a romantic attachment to the robot.

The story is so vulnerable and relatable that it veers on painful to read. It’s really hard to see him get so invested in this one-sided relationship, but the story expands and fleshes out way way more than you think it will. It goes on to explore really interesting ideas about what a world like this might realistically look like.

Very interesting so far, big recommend!


Another year of regular movie nights brought us many more gems! If you’re looking for something to watch, I recommend all of these. :>

(And if you wanna join us, we do it every Saturday evening. Check the discord for info!)

Contratiempo [The Invisible Guest] (2016)

Personal score: 9/10

A successful entrepreneur accused of murder and a witness preparation expert have less than three hours to come up with an impregnable defense. As they recount the events of the last few days, the story unravels into a spectacular mystery. So fun.

El secreto de sus ojos [The Secret in their Eyes] (2009)

Personal score: 9/10

Argentinian crime thriller / romance about a retired legal councilor writing an autobiographical novel in an attempt to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior. Great movie.

Den Skyldige [The Guilty] (2018)

Personal score: 8.5/10

Danish movie about a police officer assigned alarm dispatch duty who gets an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. Very restrained movie that does a lot with very little. If you’ve watched 13 Angry Men, this movie’s structure is a lot like that, but works even better. Gripping thriller.

Il testimone invisibile [The Invisible Witness] (2018)

Personal score: 9/10

Italian drama thriller about a guy who’s under house arrest for suspicion of murder. I know this sounds a lot like Contratiempo but it’s in fact a different movie, and also really good!

Systemsprenger [System Crasher] (2019)

Personal score: 8/10

This feels very similar to Mommy from last year. It’s a German movie about this little girl with severe anger issues that keeps getting shuffled around through the foster system. It’s heavy, but a solid watch.

Frantz (2016)

Personal score: 8/10

French/German movie about this German widowed wife who gets visited by a French man claiming to have been friends with her husband during the war. The interpersonal drama is really good and full of super juicy nuance. Beautiful film.

Intouchables (2011)

Personal score: 8/10

This is the lightest movie on the list. Fun but very tightly written romp about this rich paraplegic French man who hires a young black guy from the projects to be his caregiver.

Encanto (2021)

Personal score: 8.5/10

Pixar’s done it again. Not much to say here. It’s just so packed with gorgeous animation and juicy details, wrapped around a solid script. It’s a treat.

Cidade de Deus [City of God] (2002)

Personal score: 8/10

Brasillian crime epic about the life of a kid who rose up from the slums to become a photographer, and how he found himself in the middle of a gang war. Fun watch.

TV series:

El Inocente [The Innocent] (2021)

Personal score: 9/10

Spanish thriller about a man who accidentally kills someone in a brawl and gets sent to prison. After serving his time he tries to rebuild his life, but it gets turned upside down again when he finds himself pulled into some bad shit.

I didn’t try that many shows in 2021, but this one really stood out. Super fun thriller that does some crazy ass Dark Souls undead burg ladder twists. Watch it!


I listened to way too much music this year to put together any sort of comprehensive list. Instead, I’m just gonna write out a list of albums that I kept returning to over the year, the real earworms. They’re gonna be sorted in order of pleasant music to horrible devil noises. If you’re looking for some possibly interesting music, check these albums out!

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