The only natural way to
end the year welcome the start of the new year is with a “Best of Anime” post, right?
Introduction: For anyone who doesn’t know what a “Best of Anime” post is about (shame on you), basically it is a look back at the calendar year of 2012 and decide which titles stood out from their peers and why. Please keep in mind the list is mostly subjective – the picks are personal based on what I’ve watched throughout the year of 2012. I won’t be able to cover everything, simply because I haven’t watched everything.
Note: To be considered as a valid candidate, the show in question must be:
- Aired in 2012 (duh).
- Not carrying over into 2013.
- Shows that carry over from 2011 do count. (Guilty Crown and Mirai Nikki)
- Shows with unaired episodes but technically have a proper end point do count. (Kokoro Connect, Saki A)
Following the above rules, this list is thus created from a total of 43 titles. I’ll try to be as diverse as possible, i.e not repeating my picks, but yeah you know the drill. Also, I’ve decided to shamelessly use the format from RandomC since I’m lazy to come up with one of my own. Some of the pictures used are courtesy of RandomC too.
Action – Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II
Action can mean a lot of things, for me as long as it has some kind of fighting/battle going on, that is what action means to me. Horizon draws first blood by taking this cateogory due to its sheer magnitude of flashy battles, Shakespeare plays, flat-chested evasion and the various “match-ups”. Well, a screenshot doesn’t even do justice to how literally out-of-this-world some fights can get.
Honourable mentions: Black Rock Shooter, Fate/Zero
Comedy – Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? OF THE DEAD
Zombie will always have a special place in my heart after the initial season nearly flew past my radar. The second season didn’t quite have the serious business that S1 did, but the comedy levels still remained the same. Puking rainbows FTW?
Honourable mentions: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, Binbougami ga!
Drama – Kokoro Connect
Drama sounds like it has some kind of negative ring to it, but this is positive drama I’m talking about. KC tops this one quite candidly me. Crazy what-if scenarios such as body-swapping, unleashing desires, time regression. The best part about it? Watching a group of 5 friends working together to overcome all odds.
Honourable mentions: Tari Tari, Sukitte Ii Na Yo
Fan-service – Hagure Yuusha no Estetica
Ironically enough, there were many candidates for this category due to the*cough* amount of ecchi shows that I watch *cough* and my personal choice goes to Estetica, solely because the male lead is such a badass. It isn’t always about them boobies ok?
Honourable mentions: Highschool DxD, Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai
Horror/Thriller – Another
wins gets its first mention. Not many titles actually qualify for the Horror part, so Another almost wins by default. Honestly I really loved how everything was playing out until the final 2 episodes where suddenly the train turned into train wreck. Despite the less than desirable ending I feel that Another still deserves to win this because 10 episodes of solid buildup > 2 episodes of facepalm.
Honourable mentions: BTOOOM!, Mirai Nikki
Mystery – Mirai Nikki
These above category and this are closely tied together, but it isn’t always necessary for both to be present (Hyouka!). Why Mirai Nikki? Mirai Nikki has quite the depth in its mystery elements, which is tied to the overarching storyline. Add in those nail-biting cliffhangers and there you have it.
Honourable mentions: Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Hyouka
Romance – Ano Natsu de Matteru
People have likened AnoNatsu to Toradora and it isn’t hard to see why. As cliche as AnoNatsu is (about boy meets alien girl), the execution of the series made it such that repeated themes can actually work wonders, in the hands of the right staff and the right cast. While it did not make me shed a tear (cause I’m heartless just like that), I do believe AnoNatsu has the potential to be a tearjerker for those susceptible to a touching love story.
Honourable mentions: Amagami SS+, Sankarea
Romantic Comedy – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
I have something to confess – I haven’t finished watching Chuunibyou at the time of writing this. Reasons why aside, Chuunibyou is such a treat to watch, albeit not really for the romance factor but for the comedic factor. But hey, there is romance involved right? Long live moe!
Honourable mentions: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!
Sci-Fi – Accel World
I’m not sure if I like being stuck in a game world with only a single life to boot, so the next closest thing that comes to mind is Accel World. Having a female childhood friend, the school idol and a
trusty sidekick friend certainly helps. Being in Haru’s shoes is quite suffering though. Anyway this category is about the sci-fi settings and the best world futuristic world to be in is definitely the world of Accel World. Worldception..?
Honourable mentions: Sword Art Online, Rinne no Lagrange
Slicing Slice of Life – Tari Tari
Ok this is important – I don’t really like watching PURE slice of life shows, yes I’ve watched some and no I don’t hate those, they’re just not for me. (Sorry fans of Pirates and Dog Days) So the winner of this category inherently has some slice of life in it, but also with additional genres attached to it. Tari Tari has this “coming of age” theme and this was one show that I wasn’t initially watching but did so based on the recommendations of others, suffice to say I didn’t regret that decision. Music is also included.
Honourable mentions: Saki: Achiga-hen – Episode of Side-A, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Animation – Fate/Zero
I think this one is a safe and obvious choice for many out there. There have been many series out that actually have great animation, but whether they remain consistent throughout is another point that should be considered. F/Z is not only consistent in maintaining its top-tier animation but sometimes I feel that the animation seems to be on another level altogether. It makes me wonder – where the hell do they get all their budget from?
Honourable mentions: Nisemonogatari, Hyouka
Story – Sword Art Online
I admit that I almost wanted to give this honour to F/Z again, but upon looking through my trusty list I came to realize that SAO, while not having the most original concept, has a story that resonates well with gamers such as myself. Disregarding everything else about SAO, I have to say that the premise of being stuck in a game world with only a single life edges out compatriot Accel World.
Honourable mentions: Fate/Zero, Accel World
Opening & Ending Sequence – Futakotome (Nisemonogatari) & STUDYxSTUDY (Highschool DxD)
I found this one of the harder categories to decide on, since I either skip a) skip OP/EDs entirely to save time or b) listen to OP/ED without watching the sequence after the first few episodes. In other words, I hardly pay any attention at all to OP/ED sequences, but in the end I’ve decided on the aforementioned titles, just because they are one of the first choices that came to mind, and normally the first thing that come to mind is usually the choice to decide on.
Honourable mentions: Platinum Disco (Nisemonogatari), Tsumetai Heya, Hitori (K)
Song – Yasashisa no Riyuu (Hyouka OP1)
While there are many great and addictive songs that I could loop forever I’ve decided on this one based on several reasons – The criteria for winning this award should ideally be catchy enough to be hooked right from the start, and must be able to withstand the test of time (i.e not get old). Based on that and the play count on my playlist, this is the song that topped the count.
Honourable mentions: Vidro Moyou (AnoNatsu ED1), Oath Sign (Fate/Zero OP1)
Male Seiyuu – Yuki Kaji
So..who didn’t see this coming from a mile away? From being a relative nobody (at least to me), this guy is now everywhere these days thanks to his breakthrough role in playing Shu in Guilty Crown that arguably gave him the fame that he needed. Heck, he’s probably infamous at this point for playing whiny characters such as Alibaba in Magi, Haru in Accel World.
Honourable mentions: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu
Female Seiyuu – Kayano Ai
Also the female lead for Guilty Crown. Just look at all the main roles that she was cast in for the whole of 2012. At certain points she was in 3-4 lead roles per season, suffice to say it goes to show the level of popularity that she has gained since her role as Menma in AnoHana (which was when she started to get on my radar).
Honourable mentions: Ishihara Kaori, Ogura Yui
Biggest Disappointment – Guilty Crown
I flipped a coin between K and GC, because I couldn’t decide which one was the bigger disappointment. The deciding factor came down to the fact that K has a second season to redeem itself, whereas GC has already ended. Although both were disappointments, the way that they disappointed was different. K became a train wreck right after its start while GC became a laughing stock towards its end. Both had lots of hype and expectations going for them, but fell short and despite the qualities which both series showed, people will always remember them for what made them “terrible”, and not what made it “ok”. It begs the question: What if those shows didn’t have to live up to those expectations in the first place?
Honourable mentions: K, Sword Art Online
Biggest Facepalm Worthy Moment – SAO Episode 24
I had troubles for this one, because shows rarely go the way I didn’t expect them to. SAO’s episode 24 had a NTR scene (look it up on google if you don’t understand) that was simply an overkill. I don’t know if I should laugh or cringe at it, sure it was an admirable job done by the VAs but seriously watching this made me die a little on the inside (well not really).
Honourable mentions: Another Episode 11
Exceeded Expectations – Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
I remember that I initially wrote off KoiChoco as a generic RomComHarem series and boy was I so wrong. The inclusion of politics was one factor, even though it wasn’t very realistic. It was the plot twist that separated KoiChoco from the average VN adaptations. My only gripe with the series is that they should have chosen to adapt a different route instead of the main heroine – so that it gets even better!
Honourable mentions: Binbougami ga!, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
Most “Memorable” Scene – Nisemonogatari’s Tooth Brush Scene (EP8)
This one wins…hands down. This infamous scene was so pre-hyped that I actually knew about it and went to read up on what it was about before it actually happened. Needless to say, everyone went crazy about it when was animated. Someone once said “I’ll never look at a toothbrush the same way again.”
Honourable mentions: Campione’s kissing scene (EP12)
Most Under Appreciated – Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle 2nd Season
I really had difficulties in deciding this one mainly because everything I watch was mostly mainstream, I hardly venture into unpopular shows or what people like to claim as “potential sleepers”. After noticing Phi Brain though while going through my list for the umpteen time, I’ve decided that it should deserve a mention because some of the puzzles included in the show are genuinely intriguing. Everything else though is another matter altogether.
Honourable mentions: Campione!, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
Top 10 Favourite Anime of 2012
Note: This is not a ranking list because I don’t see the point in making one. Trying to rank anime that come from different genres with their different merits is like comparing apples to oranges to pears to strawberries to bananas. Hence trying to objectify something subjective just makes no sense to me, and also why this list is titled “favourite” and not “best”. However what I will do is to break this list into an upper 5 and a lower 5 because traditionally I only used to have a top 5 list and decided to expand the list to 10 this year instead of going with the usual honourable mentions. Without further ado:
- Ano Natsu de Matteru – Best romance of the year for me. While I didn’t really “approve” of the main couple (especially the male lead), it goes to show how enjoyable the whole show was even though I wasn’t rooting for the main couple to get together.
- Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – Best RomCom of the year for me. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, unless one is allergic to moe this show is bound to be a sure-hit. Creating absolutely adorable characters is something KyoAni shines at, and they definitely delivered.
- Fate/Zero – Urobutch writing, Kajiura Yuki music, thought-provoking philosophies, top-tier animation, Typemoon. This may sound a little ironical, but I’m having difficulties not trying to exclaim how near-perfect this series is given the combination of the above. Madoka Magica (one of the top picks for 2011) also had a very similar formula and it is a testament that certain people just know how to create a masterpiece.
- Kokoro Connect – Best drama of the year for me. Not only that, in the absence of said drama, this series can be quite funny with all the shenanigans that happen while they are being “observed”. I can’t quite put this into proper words, but there is a lot of underlying themes and “morale of the story” in each episode/arc of KC, and the crucial thing is that these issues are very real and applicable to real-life.
- Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II – Best action of the year for me. Horizon is almost impossible to understand fully just by solely watching the adaptation, even so the series is just so enjoyable to watch despite that flaw. It does not only excel in the action department, but the comedic and fan-service levels are no slouch themselves. Finally, add in an all-star cast and high production values – this is the secret recipe that earned Horizon its spot in my top 5 list.
- Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? OF THE DEAD – Best comedy of the year for me. The unexpected ending kinda knocked Zombie down a few notches but disregarding that, Zombie is probably the Harem/Comedy combination to watch. Boys be ambitious! Can I have my S3 please?
- Hyouka – Watashi Kininarimasu! Admittedly, some arcs came off as slow or even boring, which is why Hyouka made it to the top 10 and not the top 5. On the contrary, I really loved how the mysteries can actually be solved using proper deduction, logic and inference. Sherlock Holmes would be proud.
- Mirai Nikki – If Mirai Nikki had ended in the later half of the year, it most likely would have also made it to the upper half of the list. Having a fresher recollection really matters when the margin that separates the top and bottom half is so razor thin. I remembered marathoning the manga after the first episode because I simply must know how the story ends immediately (that speaks a lot btw). The adaptation was faithful, if I wasn’t “spoiled” beforehand who knows I might have enjoyed it even more.
- Nisemonogatari – Alas, Nisemonogatari is no Bakemonogatari. As much as both are closely linked to one another, Nisemonogatari’s arcs focuses on the Fire Sisters, who arguably have lesser influence in the Monogatari universe. On its own, Nisemonogatari wouldn’t have been as popular if Bakemonogatari wasn’t such a runaway success – and thus the some of the success of Nisemonogatari can be attributed to its predecessor.
- Tasogare Otome x Amnesia – Tasogare was one of the shows that exceeded my expectations, especially in the second half where business started to get serious. Much of the credit goes to the stellar portrayal of Yuuko by Hara Yumi. If I had to single out a series where the voice acting really made a significant contribution to the enjoyability of a whole show, Tasogare would easily my pick in a single heartbeat. And that is only the tip of the iceberg..
Initially I was thinking of only making a top 5/10 list but then I decided to be more comprehensive because…why not? Little did I expect how long and tedious this would actually take. As a ballpark figure, I’ve been working on this post for around 14 hours over a period of 2 days, give and take. Everything takes a certain amount of time, from the brainstorming stage, to the actual writing, to selecting pictures, to formatting and inserting links, to proofreading and editing, everything adds up really quickly. It’s an easy task for the viewers to read and then decide if they agree/disagree but let me tell you it’s not an easy task in deciding who should get what and further justify why.
One of the biggest reasons (why writing this Best of Anime is harder than it looks) is that memories starts to fade after time. Shows that you’ve watched at Winter 2012 wouldn’t be as fresh as the ones from Fall 2012, trying to recollect and recall those memories is quite the challenge when you have X amount of shows to go through for Y amount of categories.
Secondly, how does one exactly categorize a show into a certain genre? Many shows fall into multiple genres and the even genres themselves are debatable in terms of what defines them. Mash everything together and the boundaries start to blur, while keeping in mind the aforementioned point. To put it into my perspective, every time I reach a category I have to go run through my handy list of shows (again) and try to see if any titles fit the bill. Let’s just say that process takes its toll after awhile, once I start running out of brain juices/creative things to say, you’ll find me repeating myself repeatedly (yeah I just did it).
Last but not least, personal bias. Above all else, a list like this will always be first and foremost subjective. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. This is also the main reason why I didn’t go too deeply into justifying my choices because I know that a detailed explanation isn’t needed when people who agree with you will agree with you and people who don’t..well they have their own take and I respect their opinions. I’m didn’t make this list to sell *insert Z anime here* and scream “OMG YOU MUST WATCH THIS!!!111″. I’m here to share my views on what I thought was the best of W in their respective categories along with a short, hopefully not-so generic reasoning behind my decisions.
If anyone agrees/disagrees, and would like me to provide further explanation on anything, feel free to leave a comment below. All I ask for is to keep your comment civil and respectful. Thanks for reading and may the anime year of 2013 be as great, if not greater than 2012!