Here we are, I’m almost sad to finish this look at the spring season up because it’s the last thing to do before switching gears and focusing on the summer season. I’ve cushioned the blow a bit by putting two of the titles that made my top six into the rewatch pile to watch with my sister. It’s been fun to rewatch those two series knowing how they both turn out and knowing I’ll enjoy the ride.
Okay, enough with the flapping of gums, let’s move on to number six – a series that had many different names :
6 – Bodacious Space Pirates
Here’s something different – I thought the last couple of story arcs of Bodacious Space Pirates were the strongest in the series and it turned out these were anime original material. Since I don’t like being spoiled about an anime before it airs I don’t spend much time on manga, light novels, etc. so I don’t know how often anime original material and anime original endings turn out equal or superior to the source material but the only other series I know of is Natsume’s Book of Friends. Early in it’s run, I decided Bodacious Space Pirates would be a success in my book if it made pirates look cool, spent the majority of time in space and not in school, and was a fun entertaining series. And, as if reading my brain, Bodacious Space Pirates was exactly that, to my delight.
5 – Natsuiro Kiseki
When I don’t write a seasonal preview I always feel unprepared when the new anime series roll out for the new season and I will haphazardly start picking up different anime for different reasons. The decision to start watching Natsuiro Kiseki went like this: hey, look, that’s a sub group name I’m not familiar with doing an anime I haven’t seen anyone else doing – is it an old series? let me check. – no it’s not. – I wonder why no one else is doing it, not even those people who do everything? – that’s either significant or it’s not. – well, bad anime hasn’t killed anyone yet so I might as well give it a try. And so, Natsuiro Kiseki started it’s improbable ascent to being one of the best series of the season. Improbable because the concept of the show – four middle school girls have a summer break to remember when they start using a wishing rock for fun and end up learning many valuable life lessons – is rather simple and it’s animation was a bit dodgy at times and there were so many other series that started stronger. However, the season is long and Natsuiro Kiseki slowly wormed it’s way up; I remember being surprised when I started prioritizing it when I had a pile of titles to get to in the week. Though, I really shouldn’t have been surprised after I found myself charmed into overlooking the uneven animation of the series.
4 – Mysterious Girlfriend X
What’s mysterious is how a director I’ve never head of directed both MGX and my top anime series of the season. (To see what’s first keep reading.) What’s mysterious is how an animation studio like Hoods Entertainment could make something of this quality when compared to it’s other past offerings. What’s mysterious is how I wasn’t driven away from an anime that has a central plot point of the two main characters putting a very literal spin on the saying “swapping spit”. Actually, that last one wasn’t all that mysterious; much like B Gata H Kei wasn’t really about a girl looking to bed 100 guys during high school but dealing with falling in love for the first time, MGX was about first love and not the drool. To me, the drool angle was a very important component, not merely superfluous, because it was used to let the viewer feel the approximate same uncomfortable feelings both the main characters felt throughout the series as they stumble and learn how to build a relationship between each other. Also not mysterious is how much a spectacular vocal performance can help sell a show and MGX was lucky to have Ayako Yositani voicing Urabe.
3 – Aquarion Evol
There were so many times this season that I found my brain telling me I should be liking anime X, Y, Z the most but my heart kept rebelling and telling me and my brain that anime A, B, C were the best. The three of us had a grand time arguing back-n-forth; but, in the end, my brain was largely convinced that my heart was right and here we are – Aquarion Evol is my number 3 top anime for the spring season. A shocking turn of events because I spent the first half of series – during the winter season – lost, confused, and wondering why I was watching Aquarion Evol. Back then, I thought for sure that at the change of seasons I’d let Aquarion Evol just fade away as I’d let many other anime series do when the thought of watching another season’s worth of episodes was just too much to handle. (Polar Bear Café is in the midst of this right now; I’ve watched 13 episodes during spring and I can’t force myself to watch another episode now that it’s summer.) That did not occur with Aquarion Evol; even with the plethora of new good anime series to watch, I continued to watch it. Maybe I had a moment of clairvoyance because almost immediately, once we got into spring, the story started doing things that interested me and got me excited about it. It felt like watching a symphony where it was impossible to figure out what was actually playing because only a few musical instruments were playing but it was still enjoyable as-is and promised even more. And like clockwork, each episode added something to the symphony; although, it was still incomplete until the final episode aired and the final musician started playing his part. Immediately, I realized the problem was on my end and not on theirs as my ears were opened to the music that I’d only been partially hearing. I was finally able to hear the glorious sound of Aquarion Evol’s symphony. This is what anime is when the creators are doing it right. Is Aquarion Evol perfect? No. Is it a masterpiece? Very nearly so.
2 – AKB0048
The offset schedule to AKB0048 means that I’m putting it as high as this without knowing how it’ll end and taking that into account. Oh well, if it crashes and burns in the end, it won’t be the first time the ending ruins a perfectly good anime. The ten episodes of AKB0048 that ran during the spring season earn the runner-up best anime spot by doing many of the same things Aquarion Evol did but better with an additional handicap to overcome – the stigma normally attached to an anime that’s basically a publicity vehicle for an idol group. Actually, the AKB0048 anime could be seen as a failure since I had no interest in the real AKB0048 before the anime and I still don’t. What I find so engrossing about AKB0048 is how it posited an absurd future and then, not being merely content with playing it straight and serious, they made it not seem all that absurd. How better to fight an authoritarian regime bent on creating mindless slaves for the state then with the very thing they hate the most and done in such a way that even when they are successful in killing or capturing a few of these soldiers of freedom that it ultimately doesn’t matter because there is always someone willing to pick the microphone light saber up.
1 – Space Brothers
Reading this indemnifies the writer of The Null Set from any damages caused by the mental whiplash of switching the topic from AKB0048 to Space Brothers . A strange pair to see together at the top of a particularly strong season of anime. I wonder how minuscule of a percentage is the number of people who have AKB0048 and Space Brothers as their top two shows; I bet it’s vanishingly small . Sometimes, it feels like I must be dreaming when I watch Space Brothers because it’s the type of show I’d dream about getting made, all-the-while knowing it’s an impossible dream. It goes without saying, then, I would love Space Brothers even if the execution of the anime was lacking. That would place it in more of the guilty pleasure pile but that hasn’t been the case – it’s been perfectly executed and that means I can heap on as much praise for it as I want and it’s warranted. It might be a little early but I think Space Brothers will end up my top anime of 2012.
Top Picks – Spring 2012 Anime, Part 1: Character Awards
Top Picks – Spring 2012 Anime, Part 2: Content Awards
Top Picks – Spring 2012 Anime, Part 3: Creation Awards
The Top 12 Anime of the Spring 2012 Season – #12 to #7
The Top 12 Anime of the Spring 2012 Season – #6 to #1 – currently here