So 2012 is nearing to a close, and so are the anime series that have started (and ended, mostly) in this year. I was wanting to take a retrospective look on the anime this year, so I’ve compiled a list of my top 12 anime from this year, from 12 to 1. Without further ado, let’s begin~!
12. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Making number twelve is a show from the current anime season. I usually don’t like to pass judgement on series before they’re done, but I’ve really been enjoying this show. It’s a shoujo show, but it definitely feels a little different than the generic shoujo that’s put out every once in a while. Refreshingly, the two main characters are blunt and honest to the point of being a little crazy, and it’s fun to watch. The heroine, Mizutani Shizuku, is mega-cute and is definitely one of the top girls this season. Shoujo generally gets the short end of the stick when it comes to anime, but surprisingly 2012 has been a fairly strong year for shoujo in anime, as you’ll see with the rest of the list.
11. Kuroko no Basket
This is a bit of an odd pick for me. I don’t actually watch sports anime… ever. I watched this based off a recommendation and I got completely hooked, somehow. Objectively, I don’t think it’s an amazing series or anything, but for some reason I got really really deep into it. The shounen-style basketball with physics defying stunts every episode really got to me. The bitter high school rivalries were enjoyable and some of those games got really intense. And as a pleasant surprise, the humor wasn’t half-bad, which really surprised me. I think this is a good example of why people should step out of their comfort zones sometimes, you might find something you really enjoy!
10. Sword Art Online
Here we get into the bigger shows. Sword Art Online isn’t over yet (and has 10+ volumes of light novel as material to boot), but I’ve definitely enjoyed what I’ve seen up to now, so it’s on the list. This is another example of a show I wasn’t going to watch originally. There was a lot of hype building around this show prior to its release and honestly, I kind of shied away from it because of that. I might just enjoy disliking popular stuff. But I gave it a chance for some random reason and found myself really enjoying it.
In particular, the first half or so (what I believe is the first novel?) was a very strong story, and surprisingly well-done. Thematically it was a little bit different from what I expected; less action than I expected, and more slice-of-life goodness. That’s probably a little bit of what endeared me to it. I will note that the second half of the show, what I assume is the second novel, has been substantially weaker in my opinion. Still, another very strong and somewhat unexpected entry to my list!
9. Tasogare OtomexAmnesia
I’ve been reading this manga before the anime started, so I was pretty excited for the anime. The first episode was quite different from what I was expecting though, and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as good as I had expected to be. That is, until the last few episodes. Tasogare OtomexAmnesia has an incredibly strong ending which is sometimes difficult to find in anime, and I think it really increased the quality of the show. Of course the romantic antics between Yuuko and Teiichi were cute and fun as well. I generally enjoy Yuuko’s personality type, the mature, kind of dominant type. The dynamic between the two of them was really great, and was part of what led to the spectacular ending.
This is kind of an interesting pick. I really enjoyed this show, but I definitely didn’t get the full effect. The issue with Joshiraku, for me at least, is that it’s a very Japanese-y show. By that I mean a lot of the humor (since it’s a comedy show!) is based on Japanese-specific experiences. Wordplay, cultural phenomenon, locations, things like that. So of course most of this flew over my head entirely, since I’m not Japanese. Still, it’s a testament to the show’s quality that despite a lot of the humor flying over my head, there was enough left over to make this a really great comedy series. I thought the characters were strong (even if I could never remember their names) and interesting. Definitely one of the better comedy shows this year, but surprisingly not the best.
7. Fate/Zero Season 2
It must be weird to see a show I give such high rating to at such a comparatively low spot on my list. Of course, this has more to do with my tastes than what makes a better show, so that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it. Still, I think quite highly of Fate/Zero. It was an amazing series, and had ridiculously great production values. More or less every individual portion that went into this show was stellar. I would still recommend this show to most people, but as far as my personal biases go, Fate/Zero couldn’t really stack up to some of the other shows airing this year.
6. Natsume Yuujinchou Shi
Here we are at halfway, and we have the fourth incarnation of the Natsume Yuujinchou series. This is a shoujo series (with a male lead!), but it doesn’t really have anything to do with romance like most shoujo does. Instead it’s more of a series of short stories, showcasing Natsume’s dealings with his friends and various spirits. It’s a heartfelt and quite enjoyable show, with some really compelling stories. This 4th iteration is just another strong submission into the series, and considering how much I enjoyed the past 3 seasons, it was a no-brainer to stick this one here. I’m just a fan of the calm shows, and this one fits the bill.
5. Daily Lives of High School Boys
This show was absolutely crazy. I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up this show to watch, but what I got was certainly not that. It was loud, obnoxious, incoherent, and absolutely amazing. Definitely the funniest show of the year, and one of my favorite comedy anime of all time. Thankfully it broke the trend of the 4 cute girls discussing cute things comedy series that have been so popular recently, and it broke it well. What was great about the humor in this show is that it was just so radically different than all the other shows around it. It truly was the Daily Lives of High School Boys.
4. InuxBoku SS
One of my favorite shows this year, and the recent OVA release made me fall in love all over again. As far as the anime is concerned, this is pretty much pretty much a shoujo series, though it’s technically classified and is serialized in a shounen magazine. The reasoning for that becomes apparent… pretty much directly after the anime ends. Still, as a shoujo series InuxBoku was brilliant. The characters were all interesting and adorable. Particularly Ririchiyo and Karuta. The romance was pretty good, too! And the humor! Good stuff all around, really. It’s a little indescribable just what made this series so enjoyable to me, but it is what it is, and I like what I like.
3. Kimi to Boku Season 2
This show. This is the show. It’s a shoujo, but all the main characters are guys. It’s funny at times, sweet at times, and awesome all the time. Season 2 in particular introduced a stronger romance element that was incredibly well-done. Sometimes it got a little weird (particularly the segments where they were on a beach for no reason all of a sudden) but it was a slow and incredibly well-done show. It’s not really the type of anime that keeps you on edge with cliffhangers for next week, but it is the kind of show that had a release I looked forward to every week. As a mash up of romance, a little drama, some humor, and a lot of slice of life, it was just the tops. If I had to describe it in a word, I’d say “soft”.
We’re nearing the end here. Considering what I normally like, this is a bit of an odd pick. It’s a crazy action-packed series. But it’s just been so good, it strikes me as a better Black Lagoon. Cool action, fun characters, it’s just a really fun ride. The music, done by Iwasaki Taku, is incredible as well. Basically, the show follows a Russian arms dealer as she goes around, well, dealing arms. And generally getting into crazy and wacky shenanigans. Surprisingly, it’s more lighthearted than one would expect. The violence is kind of more funny and irreverent than serious business. It’s great stuff, and the cast of characters is just so colorful and interesting and the action is fun and well-done. It’s everything good about the action-y genre put in one great package.
The end! Was it any surprise? Probably not, if you’ve read some of my reviews. Hyouka, a KyoAni masterpiece, is my #1 anime of the year. What’s not to love about this? Well, the slow beginning is a mark against it, but everything else was just totally above and beyond what I expected. The subtle romance throughout, the interesting mysteries, the startlingly well-done character development. If I had to describe this show in a word, it would be “subtle”. The characters and their dealings with each other are full of gestures and other subtle actions, and picking up on those things really enhance the nature of the relationships between the characters, which I found incredible. And obviously KyoAni did another spectacular job with this show, as they normally do. Great animation and the art is great. There’s very little I don’t love way too much about this show, so of course it tops my list!
And there we go, there’s my list. I tried to step away from including things from the Fall season as those shows haven’t finished yet, and there are a few shows that I’d like to watch but haven’t started yet. So the list is subject to minor changes, but as far as the rest of this year goes, I think this list is very solid. 2012 was a pretty good year for anime, but I’m excited to see what 2013 brings!
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