Top 10 Series of Spring 2012
So here we are, the transition period into another anime season – a lot of overlap this time, no lull between shows ending and the new ones starting at all! My OCD has kicked in once again, and so I’m ignoring by body’s protests to start my usual routine of posts – starting with my end of season Top 10.
Out of the Spring season I picked up a rather substantial 20 shows and dropped a further 3 after a few episodes; of those I picked up, 7 are rolling onto the next season. Despite the large amount of shows I picked up, it was rather easy to pick a top 10!
10. Hyou-ka: You Can’t Escape
Hyouka is growing on me. I was less than impressed by the bland characters and mundane mystery set up at the beginning, but now I’m starting to appreciate how it manages to make small, ordinary things seem so important to the characters. The characters are starting to develop more depth, although so far it’s only really Houtarou that keeps me interested.
The production values have always been excellent, and really that is Hyouka’s main selling point – it’s rare to see a show that looks this good so consistently. I’m actually glad that this show has another cour to expand into; it is definitely slow-paced and is in no rush to show its cards, but I find myself growing more interested in the series as time goes on – pleasantly surprised.
9. Polar Bear Cafe
I’m really enjoying Polar Bear Cafe – helps that I’ve been watching it with a group though. It’s a very simple kind of show, but it has some hilarious sketches and as time goes on and you really get to know the characters, you start to appreciate the sense of humour Polar Bear Cafe has.
I was originally only in this show for the brilliant voice cast, and that’s still the main selling point for me, but the writing is also good and there is just something wonderful about watching realistically drawn animals operate smartphones, drive cars and prepare coffee. Enjoying the show much more than I thought I would and I’m really glad it’s continuing on for another cour.
Sankarea surprised me. It had all the classic danger signs – DEEN, lacklustre source material, moe girls, zombies – and yet somehow ended up being pretty interesting viewing for a lot of its run. For a show I was fully expecting to be another soulless ecchi romcom, Sankarea ended up having a lot going for it despite it’s less than thrilling components.
The show did not look like a typical DEEN series; the animation was really pretty and the direction was excellent. Even though Sankarea did have some pretty crap episodes, my overall impressions of the series were quite favourable.
Her name is Koko, she is loco, I say Oh no~!
I really enjoyed Jormungand. Although it lacked the kind of insanity that Black Lagoon thrived on, the show was still a lot of fun to watch and had some really inspired episodes. It also had some really dumb episodes, and some really boring episodes which is why it’s in the lower half of the list. I’d imagine that this is because Jormungand has another season coming up, so a lot of this season was given over to introducing the characters and getting the viewer familiar with how Koko & co operated. I’ll be watching the next season for definite.
6. Space Brothers
After starting off extremely strong, Space Bros has slowed down massively and settled into a fairly laid back pace. The show is definitely much more concerned with its characters than by the bigger picture – which is probably a good thing considering this series has a full 4 cours to tell its story and we’re going to be seeing a lot of these characters from now on.
Space Bros has some excellent moments, and over all it is very solid – I just wish that it was a bit snappier with the pacing and direction.
5. Eureka Seven AO: Astral Ocean
E7 AO is most definitely a different beast to the original E7 – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is a feeling that this new take on the show is strongly influenced by Evangelion, a feeling that is getting progressively stronger with each episode, but this is still very much a Bones show and it does tease us with hints about how AO ties in with the original show. I’m really enjoying it so far.
The production is very polished, the characters are fun (Ao is refreshingly un-wangsty) and it’s really great to have another proper mecha show airing. I’m in this for the long haul – things are looking good!
4. Lupin III: A Woman Called Mine Fujiko
My opinion of Fujitits fluctuated wildly over the course of the series. One week I’d love it, the next I’d be completely unimpressed – but whatever feelings I had they were never indifferent; I like shows that provoke some sort of reaction out me. I really appreciate that they were trying something different with each episode of Fujitits – there was a strong episodic flavor, even with an over arching plotline bubbling under the surface.
The production was pretty damn good – this is a fantastically stylised looking show, although I could have done without Fujiko’s boobs being flashed at every available opportunity. This is not what I was expecting when I went into the show, but I’m pretty happy with the end result. I’d quite happily watch another Lupin III series if was done in this same style.
3. Fate/Zero S2
The second half of Fate/Zero was very hit and miss. It had some absolutely stunning action scenes, and some fantastic character episodes, but it also had some truly boring episodes and a pretty underwhelming finale. There were a few stand out characters that elevated this series to this rank though – Rider & Waver’s bromance was fecking inspired, and I’ve always been a fan of Gilgamesh’s Fabulousness – and there was plenty of all three to keep me happy.
UFOtable’s brilliant animation was always a major selling point for this series, although it did suffer from some rather dull direction, especially in those long dialogue heavy scenes that the series is so fond of. Still, I’m pretty shallow and massively enjoyed some of the amazing action set pieces, which made the show well worth watching in my book!
2. Sakamichi no Apollon
I know I’ve expressed some disappointment over how much unnecessary drama I felt Apollon had towards the end of its run, but overall it was still and excellent series. The show was at its finest when it was just indulging in letting the trio get to know each other and mess around like actual teenagers. Apollon has some superbly written dialogue in addition to some properly stunning musical medleys, so I couldn’t help but get a bit critical when it started pulling all the clichéd drama bombs out of nowhere. The epilogue appeased me somewhat, but it also felt a bit rushed and was abundantly clear that they were cramming a lot of material into a single episode.
Still over all Apollon was a great series that will probably be remembered most for its amazing OST, phenomenal animation, well written characters and 60s Japan aesthetic.
I loved Tsuritama. It was a very simple series, but it was also a wonderfully put together series. It was very clear that Tsuritama was carefully written to fit its story into the 12 episodes it was allocated, as its pacing was exceptionally well done. The show was really all about its characters, and it’s the characters that made me love the show so dearly – all of them were well written and likeable. I never thought I’d like a show about fishing quite so much!
The vibrant and colourful artwork, detailed character animation and excellent direction made Tsuritama a visual treat as well. While the animation was nowhere near as detailed and smooth as that in Apollon or Fate/Zero, Tsuritama had a lot of charm in its own quirky way. I’m quite sad to see the end of this show!
And that’s my personal top 10! Honourable mentions to Mysterious Girlfriend X, which started out interesting but ultimately went nowhere, and Phi Brain S2, which is equal parts awful & genius.
The Summer season is already in full swing, First Impressions posts will start going up over the next few days (hopefully).