Top Picks for the Summer 2012 Anime Season – Part 1 of 3: The Bottom 8 Series
It’s difficult to summarize the summer season of anime into a brief, concise statement because there was so many conflicting and crosswired developments that occurred. For starters, there was very few truly awful anime series but there was also very few truly great anime series. There were high concept series that couldn’t “realize” their concept in practice and there were low concept series that delivered storytelling and plotting far beyond any preview would have suggested. There were sequels that were plainly better than their predecessors. There were many instances of how the most creativity was shown not in the original anime series but with those series merely adapting source material. And on a personal level, I watched so many series (24) but only really liked a handful of them (about 8 and not the same 8 that fill the top 8 spots) and yet did not dislike any anime series enough to drop it.
It was a weird season. Here’s hoping that the fall season will feel more normal.
I decided to tinker with my seasonal award format yet again. I wanted to cover each series I watched instead of just focusing on the best series, in part, to make up for the small amount of posting I did during this season. Any comments about the change in format would be appreciated; I’m thinking this might become my preferred style for the seasonal awards and the older award style might remain for the yearly reflection posts.
Now, onto the countdown.
24 – Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai
<bad shows don’t rank getting a screenshot>
Series rating for episodes 1 to 12 – 2/12 F
Winner of the Having Exactly One Good Thing About It Award
Even more rare than a show that completely fails at every single aspect is to find one that completely fails in all aspects but one; Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai achieves this dubious award in a rather unexpected way. Normally, I’m against spoilers but with a series so devoid of value, it’s not worth it. In the twelfth episode, our intrepid hero rejects a confession of love from one of the bevy of girls that hang off him. What shocked me was the reason why he shot her down – she was his childhood friend and he can only see her as a friend from childhood. This thinking runs counter to nearly every single anime I’ve ever seen where the childhood friend is the one always chosen over any other possibility. Did this one scene make up for the other twelve episodes of suckage – no – but even bad anime should get praised when it happens to do something good.
23 – Ebiten
<bad shows don’t rank getting a screenshot>
Series rating for episodes 1 to 10 – 3/12 D
Ebiten was a pale copy of a pale copy of a completely generic school life/comedy series. The best thing this series did was to remind me that I watched a much better school life/comedy series that also follows an astronomy club by the name of Sora no Manimani and that I really should rewatch it.
22 – Rinne no Lagrange Second Half
Series rating for episodes 1 to 12 – 4/12 C
I would not be surprised if I learned that this anime series was designed by a committee because, in the end, Rinne no Lagrange never found its essential creative spark; instead, a sense of staleness and lifelessness pervaded the entire production. The most memorable part to Rinne was the time I spent trying to figure out why that one woman in the command center didn’t have a chair but some sort of weird contraption that caused her half squat (with zero back support) at her workstation when everyone else had a real chair to sit on. By the end of this anime series she shouldn’t have been able to walk.
21 – YuruYuri 2
Series rating for episodes 1 to 12 – 5/12 C+
Winner of the Best Almost Funny Comedy Series Award
Don’t get me wrong, there were some very funny skits in YuruYuri 2 but the problem both seasons of this anime suffered from was an inability to string together the laughs. It was like watching a baseball player who would hit a home run but then follow that up with five strikeouts and then hitting a double before striking out another five times. The times when the stars align and the anime series/baseball player is successful in their respective endeavors makes all the other times when they fail all the more frustrating to sit through.
20 – Moyashimon Returns
Series rating for episodes 1 to 11 – 5/12 C+
Winner of the Most Disappointing Sequel Award
Two obstacles worked together to sink what was one of my most anticipated series of this season. The first one was the story of this season was a retread of the previously noitaminA aired live-action Moyashimon series. I wanted to see new material but a retread would have been okay if the execution had been excellent. It wasn’t, though, and this second impediment caused Moyashimon Returns to end in failure. It needed to match or beat the first season’s charm. It needed to refine, streamline, and focus the storytelling. It needed more interaction between the microbes and the main character. It needed to match the first season’s nerdiness towards the agricultural subject matter. It needed to be more hilariously absurd.
19 – Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 2
Series rating for episodes 1 to 13 – 6/12 B-
Runner-up Best Couple: Mary, Queen of Scots and Tenzou Crossunite
Two seasons down and I’m still not quite sure what I’m watching 93% of the time. For that other 7% of the time, I find myself genuinely enjoying Horizon. This season’s minor story arc of the budding relationship between Mary, Queen of Scots and Tenzou Crossunite provided most of the best highlights (in part because I could understand what was going on and in part because they were so cute together). Sales of this series makes a third season very likely and when that occurs, I’ll be waiting to watch. Why, because I remain optimistic that the other 93% of the show will make sense eventually, the vocal work by the large seiyuu cast is fun to hear, it’s never actually painful to watch like an unfunny comedy is, and the 7% it makes sense puts in better footing then many other series.
18 – Natsuyuki Rendezvous
Series rating for episodes 1 to 11 – 7/12 B
Runner-up of the Biggest Opportunity Missed Award
This could have been a very awesome series but somewhere along the way the creators forgot that for character-driven series, like Natsuyuki Rendezvous, good quality characters are needed. These characters are adults and yet the three main characters have the personality depth of a bimbo haremette in a low-quality, vapid, harem series produced by the likes of Studio Deen or J.C. Staff. Everything else about this anime was top-notch which helped patch over the problems with the characters for a while. Eventually, however, I realized I was prioritizing anime series like Phi Brain and Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse over Natsuyuki and I found myself hoping for a bad end for this anime. When one starts wishing for a series to end in a lover’s suicide, there’s something wrong with the show.
17 – Sword Art Online
Seasonal rating for episodes 1 to 13 – 7/12 B
There are at least 2 dozen different ways the basic setting of Sword Art Online could have been used to make a great anime and if one can forget all these possibilities then it’s possible to actually enjoy SAO. For me, it was exceedingly difficult to do so when the characters are weak, the plotting we do have vacillates between nonsensical to super compressed, and the really good animation is saved for a couple of combat sequences. SAO does have some saving graces; there is an occasion really great episode, when A-1 does spends the money – the action is very well animated, looking at SAO as a dumb fun series helps minimize the plot issues, and there are a few good characters (sadly they’re mainly side characters).
That’s it for part 1. Part 2 detailing the anime series coming in at #16-9 is coming soon. (And don’t worry, I’ve been blogging long enough to learn that I need to write the entire series of posts before I start publishing. )