The Top Ten Series – Best of 2012
Even though I didn’t watch anything from the Autumn season this year, I still managed to watch a lot of anime this year completing 52 shows. My over all impression of 2012 is that there were plenty of memorable shows, but not many that were a threat to my top 50. The primary reason I found many shows memorable was because they were really dumb, really bad or an awesome combination of both. However because this is a ‘best of’ list there will be no Guilty Crown, Sword Art Online or Phi Brain, even if they were shows that were true milestones in my 2012 experience.
For this list I’ve chosen shows that ended their run in 2012 regardless of their start date. I actually struggled to pick 10 shows despite having plenty to choose from – an indication of how this was a pretty mediocre year overall.
10. Eureka Seven AO (Summer 2012)
Eureka Seven AO ended up being an entirely different show to its predecessor, even if the tie between the two series was pulled much closer in the second half of the show. I probably enjoyed the series more when it was hinting at what the link between the shows was; the build up was extremely well done with an excellent air of mystery. It all unraveled a bit when the time travel element took central stage – not many shows get time travel right and unfortunately E7AO’s attempt just felt muddled and confusing in the end.
The series did to a lot right though, I enjoyed the characters and the world setting immensely, and the animation, direction and music were all top notch. Definitely worth watching, but not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
9. Gintama S2 (Spring 2011)
A sign of how meh a year is, is when I stick in a long running shounen show, but I love Gintama so I am utterly unrepentant. Second season had an animation upgrade, but it was still the same show and I really enjoyed it.
It’s easy to explain why I love Gintama, its just a really fun, well written comedy with brilliant, colourful characters and has absolutely no qualms about parodying anything and everything. Comedy series that stay funny after years are very rare, but Gintama is one such show. Hopefully there will be more in the future!
8. Natsuyuki Rendezvous (Summer 2012)
Natsuyuki Rendezvous was a very well written shows. Its wonderfully flawed characters just came to life on screen, and I found myself completely immersed in their lives. I can’t say I loved the characters, but I cared sufficiently that I was moved by the show on occasion. I rarely have an emotional reaction to series, so the fact Natsuyuki managed that is a major plus on it’s side of the scale.
The animation was very simple, and the character designs not overly memorable, but the way the show was completely saturated in flowers made it stand out a bit. However it’s probably the acting that elevated this show and made it memorable – truly excellent performances by the whole cast. An enjoyable watch.
7. Mirai Nikki (Autumn 2011)
Future Diary is a ridiculous series. Which is why it was a stupid amount of fun to watch. However there is some substance under all the dumb, the concept is interesting and explored well, the characters are memorable and engaging to watch and the there are a ton of plot twists to ensure you never get bored. Sure not everything makes sense, and often the show throws out twist upon twist with no real value added to the plot, but it never stopped being entertaining.
The animation and direction ended up being very good on the whole and the voice acting brought the crazy characters of Mirai Nikki to life. Really fun show.
6. Sakamichi no Apollon (Spring 2012)
Apollon was another show with some exceptionally well written dialogue, although it was also yet another show that was afflicted with excessive amounts of unneeded drama towards the end. I enjoyed the show most when it was exploring its setting, letting the characters just run free and revelling in the wonderful music.
Its second half mostly abandoned this in favour of lots of drama though, and it all felt a bit excessive by the end. The major issue was probably that there was a lot of manga material to cover in a short amount of time, and the epilogue in particular felt extremely rushed. Still on the whole Apollon was a great show with excellent production values and music.
5. Natsume Yuujinchou Shi (Winter 2012)
The fourth season of Natsume Yuujinchou still reduced me to fangirly squeals and lots of ‘feels’. I just love this show and I still haven’t gotten bored of it even though it sticks to a very particular formula. I just love the delicate, evocative atmosphere that permeates the series, and the characters are a joy to watch develop.
Natsume Yuujinchou is just a very endearing show, and it managed to tug at my heartstrings, and so long as it continues to do that, it will still be high in my favourites.
4. Humanity Has Declined (Summer 2012)
Jintai was a rare show this year – it was pretty left-field and deranged in places, and not many shows this year took risks like that. Jintai employed black comedy to great effect, and had some brilliant moment that I will remember for years to come (bleeding bread, chickens in the boardroom, those fecking fairies!).
Of course it wasn’t perfect – some episodes were boring or too obtuse to be entertaining, but on the whole it was a very interesting watch and I’d happily recommend it….so long as you’re not completely freaked out by those fairies!
3. Tsuritama (Spring 2012)
Tsuritama was colourful, fun and well written – I really enjoyed it. Considering the amount of time spent on the fishing element of the series, I am very surprised I liked Tsuritama as much as I did, but it did help that it has lots of quirky characters and a very deft touch on the direction front. The plot was well written too, making the optimal use of its running time to tell the story, but above all I enjoyed the characters.
The central quartet were fun to watch interact and they all had very distinct personalities (helped greatly by the wonderful voice acting). I also really loved the bright colours and textures employed in the animation – it made Tsuritama very pleasant on the eyes. Fun show, definitely on of my highlights of 2012.
2. The Daily Lives of High School Boys (Winter 2012)
Nichibros was a great comedy. It had a great mix of s’life, absurdity, parodies and satire which made it a very fun watch. As with all comedies it wasn’t perfect, and it did have some dull segments, and I still can’t remember the names of the main trio, but the good stuff outweighed the bad and the show was just a good laugh.
Strangely the segments with the few girls in the show were probably the best in the series – it was refreshing to see a series show cute teenage girls in a different light. Hope a sequel is on the horizon.
1. Aquarion EVOL (Winter 2012)
Ah Aquarion. Of all the shows this year (that were legitimately good) Aquarion is the most memorable for being utterly ridiculous. Glorious production values, awesome combining mecha, a large and varied cast of characters and fabulously camp – Aquarion had everything going for it. Sure the actual plot was bit weak and I couldn’t have cared less about the main characters, but every week Aquarion delivered fun in a very shiny package.
It was actually refreshing to see just how Aquarion kept upping the ridiculous each week, the twists were legitimately stupid in places, but, just like with Mirai Nikki, it ensured that watching this series was in no way ever boring. Loved it.
And that’s my top ten of 2012. Honorable mentions to Utakoi, Thermae Romae, Hyou-ka and Lupin III: The Woman Called Mine Fujiko. I’ll have the 2nd part of this recap with movies & OVAs done by the weekend……hopefully.
So yeah, not the strongest of years – you will have to tell me if I’m missing any must sees from the Autumn season! Here’s hoping there are some gems in store for us in 2013.