2012 Year in Review: Anime

Anime series I really liked in 2012, as well as those that I still feel compelled to share despite not making my top 5, and the ones that were reasonably disappointing to me are all detailed for your reading pleasure after the jump~

Top 5:

In no particular order, here’s my personal top 5 of series that concluded in 2012.

Nisemonogatari

Nisemonogatari

Once again employing its visually arresting art style with plenty of background text and spinning multiple captivating stories dripping with innuendo, this is a very unique series to say the least. Between Nisemonogatari and author Nisio Isin’s other series that got animated this year, Medaka Box, thanks to the brilliant adaptation, this came out tops.

Wins: Greatest WTF scene of 2012 – You’ll never forget how they turned something so mundane into something you’d find hard to explain had you left the audio on and your screen blank.

Persona 4 The Animation

Persona 4 The Animation

I haven’t seen a game adaptation that I enjoyed this much since Tales of the Abyss. Keeping true to the story, while also including plenty of references as a nod to players of the original game (such as the passing of days) and reusing much of the catchy original soundtrack all worked to its advantage to keep the series from becoming dull. It was somewhat slow on pick-up, but the same thrill is to be had when the truth is finally revealed.

Wins: Adaptation of the Year – Between this and the release of Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4: Golden, you’d think this was the year of Persona 4.

Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero

You’d almost feel inherently sadistic when you watch this series, especially if you were up to date with the Fate universe. Essentially, you’re just watching to see how each of the servants and masters will end up dying. However, the animation is top-notch, and the personalities of individual characters will grow on you. It is THE perfect backstory to Fate/Stay Night, just as how Crisis Core was for Final Fantasy VII (down to rooting for someone you know doomed to die).

Wins: GAR character of the year – Because Rider is just so awesome.

Also: Greatest abuse of 2D kidsAny scene with Caster is extremely disturbing.

Kokoro Connect

Kokoro Connect

One of the silent hits of 2012, due to controversies surrounding the animation studio, it is nonetheless a wonderfully written drama that proves you don’t need a stellar budget to move viewers to tears. Props for creating very believable characters with a good dose of character development as they mature after each ‘trial’.

Wins: Manly tears moment of 2012 – Ultimately, this was the only series this year that did enough for dust to get trapped in my eyes.

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai

After all that generally dark-themed anime, you’d just want to sit down to a laugh-it-out session that’ll leave you all refreshed once you’re done. Chuunibyou made this possible with expert play on the fantasies of the younger years (that most of us with a proper childhood had at some point) which made it relatable and hilarious – especially when alternating between the Sci-fi effects and reality. While doing that it also managed to sell a sweet little tale of romance between the lead couple.

Wins: Best use of voice acting reference – Voice Actor Jun Fukuyama’s excellent transition between Yuta’s voice and that of the Dark Flame Master (Lelouch) was where half the laughter came out of.

Special mentions:

Shakugan no Shana III -Final-: If you have followed the series from the beginning, you’ll be mighty satisfied with the way it plays out and concludes. The protagonist-turned-antagonist isn’t a commonly seen character type, but it’s used to excellence here.

Oda Nobuna no Yabou: Any gender-crossing of historical characters prior to this anime was a disaster, because it often meant taking them completely out of context (and era) and turning them into generic fanservice tropes. You’ve still got fanservice here, but amazingly enough you also get a pretty decent attempt at an accurate retelling of history. The ending leaves room for a sequel, but it provides enough closure as a standalone.

Hyoka: This is a more traditional take on the mystery genre, except reduced to a smaller scale. Despite that it does well enough to keep the viewers guessing, and the solutions won’t leave you objecting (such as avoiding the use of a deus ex machina), though some might require you to read and infer from past knowledge.

Disappointments:

Guilty Crown: I saw plenty of potential in this series, considering how much the beginning shone, and how good the soundtrack was, but it took a turn for the awkward and cumulated in a complete mess of an ending that made me feel the studios lost the initial script and decided to wing it last-minute.

Sword Art Online: Read the novel, I beg you. It was a passable attempt at an adaptation that’ll otherwise leave readers of the novel disappointed with some of the dubious directing decisions made in favor of fanservice.

Accel World: It started off well, until Arita Haruyuki quickly became more irritating than Emiya Shirou and the series went down the gutter from there. If not for Kuroyuki-hime, it’d be hard convincing people to finish the series. I feel bad that both Sword Art and Accel World are great works by the same author, yet both suffered from adaptation issues.

Just a snippet of my views, but I’m pretty confident anyone (above the legal age) would be able to enjoy the top 5, and pretty much any other series on the list. Even for the series that disappointed, I could still easily find parts that I really liked (which ironically added to the overall disappointment).

I’d say 2012 was a pretty good year for anime. 🙂

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