The Best Anime Of 2012 – Part 0: Introduction and the Anti-Awards

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We had another marvelous year of anime this year; while it lacked the mega-series that 2011 had in form of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Steins;Gate, it more then made up by having a large number of very good anime series. Even with stretching my top anime countdown to include 15 anime series that I feel are the most noteworthy and highest quality, I’m leaving out so many other series that deserve praise that it’s almost depressing.

The lack of monster hits along with a large pool of quality titles also made picking the various winners more difficult then in 2011 were PM3 and S;G probably earned over half the awards by themselves. Thus, I needed more time to finish this look back at 2012 but I had a lot of fun going through the various series to refresh my memory. I also added a few new categories, so, look for those.

Before starting into the “nice” awards I first wanted to list the anime series that I watched from 2012 that are eligible for the various awards and to hand-out a few “not-so-nice” awards.

Winter Season

Carry-over shows watched this season (7): Guilty Crown, Shakugan no Shana Season 3, Persona 4, Phi Brain, Last Exile – Ginkyou no Fam, Hunter x Hunter, Chihayafuru

New shows watched this season (15): Inu x Boku SS, Zero no Tsukaima Final, Black Rock Shooter, Rinne no Lagrange, Senhime Zesshou Symphogear, Amagami SS+ Plus,  Aquarion Evol, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes 2, Another, Bodacious Space Pirates, Ano Natsu de Matteru, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, Nisemonogatari, Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, Thermae Romae

Shows that got dropped (1): Baby, Please Kill Me

Spring Season

Carry-over shows watched this season (3): Hunter x Hunter, Aquarion Evol, Bodacious Space Pirates

New shows watched this season (19): Eureka Seven AO, Sakamichi no Apollon, Dusk Maiden x Amnesia, Upotte, Polar Bear Café, Hyouka, Mysterious Girlfriend X, Accel World, Space Brothers, Kore wa Zombie Desu ka – Of the Dead, Sankarea, Jormungand, Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna, Medaka Box, Tsuritama, Natsuiro Kiseki, AKB0048, Fate/Zero Season 2, Phi Brain Season 2

Shows that got dropped (2): Acchi Kocchi, Sengoku Collection

Summer Season

Carry-over shows watched this season (6): Hunter x Hunter, Eureka Seven AO, Hyouka, Accel World, Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers), Phi Brain Season 2

New shows watched this season (18): Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai, Ebiten, Rinne no Lagrange Second Half, YuruYuri 2, Moyashimon Returns, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 2, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Sword Art Online, Kokoro Connect, Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, Tari Tari, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, Dog Days 2, Joshiraku, Binbou-gami ga!, Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi

Shows that got dropped (1): Polar Bear Café

 

Fall Season

Carry-over shows watched this season (4): Hunter x Hunter, Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers), Sword Art Online, Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse

New shows watched this season (17): Shinsekai Yori, Jormungand: Perfect Order, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, Btooom!, Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb, Zetsuen no Tempest, Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Little Busters, Magi, Teekyuu, Ixion Saga: Dimension Transfer, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Girls und Panzer, Psycho-pass, Robotics:Notes, Nekomonogatari – Black

Shows that got dropped (1): K

Total New Series Watched:                    72
Total New Series Completed:                57
Total New Series Dropped:                     05
Total New Series Continuing:                 10
Total Carryover Series :                           07
Total Carryover Series Completed:     06
Total Carryover Series Continuing:     01

Now it’s time for the Anti-Awards. These are awards that the winners probably wouldn’t like winning and instead of spreading them out in the various parts, I’m going to put them here. Also, the awards will have a higher level of spoilers then  I normally use but I will still try to keep them to minimum.

Best Half and Half

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Winner:  Fate/Zero Season 2
Runner-up: Last Exile – Ginkyou no Fam

One of the potential problems with writing a prequel long after the fact is, with the end point being fixed, the story has to contort in ways that do not feel natural. This is what happened with Fate/Zero Season 2. The shackles of conforming to the preexisting source material slowly sucked the quality out this series. What would have been a much better use of the money and talent spent here was to turn Gen Urobuchi loose on developing Fate/Prototype into a full series because that short movie of it just screamed awesome potential.

Worst Half and Half

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Winner:  Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!
Runner-up: Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Surprisingly both of these series had parts that almost made them worth watching. The runner-up (which has some cute shortened name that’s not worth remembering) was actually pretty funny because it was directed by Keiichiro Kawaguchi, the guy that did the first season of Hayate and is currently directing the latest season of Minami-ke. It also had a strong debut by seiyuu Ibuki Kido. The winner was so gloriously dumb that earned quite a few unintended laughs between the cringing as the main character had to figure out which of his potential brides was also his half-sister (and therefore not okay to marry).

Most Disappointing Ending

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Winner:  Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

There is much that can be salvaged from this new Lupin series – I’d love to see another series done in this style with a large enough budget to actually pull it off correctly, for starters – but the most important facet of it, the development of Mine Fujiko into a real character, was a complete lost. We finish the series knowing little more about her and her motivations then we did when we started. It felt like a giant waste of time.

Most Disappointing

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Winner:  Moyashimon Returns
Runner-up: Medaka Box

The biggest problem the original Moyashimon series had was that it was only 11 episodes long. It had a quirky, fun style to itself that always made me wish a second season would get made. My wish was finally granted but the genie granting it felt like twisting the wish such that Moyashimon Returns ends up winning this category. The quirky, fun style was stripped out as was the little educational bits that were always so endearing. The pacing was slow when it needed to be fast and fast when it needed to be slow. The script was an unfocused, jumbled mess

Most in Need of Being Longer

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Winner:  Tari Tari
Runner-up: Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate

Both of these anime series were two season shows compressed into one cour. Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, at least, almost succeeded fitting into it’s one season but Tari Tari wasn’t even close. Tari Tari’s major problem was that it insisted every major character have a problem that needed fixed as well as most of the minor characters too. The other problem it has was that coming so soon after a very similar series, like Hanasaku Iroha (which had it’s two seasons), all it’s faults were made much more obvious.

The You’re-Doing-It-Wrong Award

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Winner:  Sword Art Online
Runner-up: Kokoro Connect

Both series had a decent basic premise to them, not earth shatteringly original, but solid enough that with great execution they would have been great series to watch. Kokoro Connect seemed adverse to actually exploring the questions and ideas that it would bring up in the story which made watching it a very frustrating experience. At least Kokoro Connect told a coherent story, Sword Art Online had difficulties with the fundamentals of telling a story. At several points during it’s run I found myself thinking SAO would be so much better if only it could have been a mere well-animated generic shounen show.

The Best Almost Good Series

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Winner:  Rinne no Lagrange
Runner-up: Natsuyuki Rendezvous

Rinne no Lagrange had much going for it – good voice acting, nice animation style, above average animation, and a proficient story – but it never seemed to quite live up to it’s obvious potential. I have the feeling that if some little element was added to it then it would be contending for a spot in the top 10 instead of winning this award.

Worst Character Designs

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Screenshot copied from draggle‘s review because I couldn’t bring myself to waste anymore time on this show.

Winner: Ebiten
Runner-up: Polar Bear Café

It’s not often that I feel such a visceral dislike towards an anime’s character designs like I did for Ebiten. It’s even less often that I don’t, at least, learn to tolerate an anime’s character designs but Ebiten was able to give me the same slight nauseating feeling on the last episode as the first.

Worst Animation

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Screenshot also copied from draggle‘s review for a similar reason.

Winner: Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai
Runner-up: Medaka Box

I’m being a bit unfair with Medaka Box. If a company like J.C. Staff or Zexcs or Studio Deen had been the ones to make this series look like this I wouldn’t bat an eye at it’s generic, boring animation; however, it came from Gainax which has a very long pedigree of being brilliant animators and I expect slightly more from them then I do the likes of J.C. Staff. The “winner” however was all around terrible and no amount of overlaying a filter was going to cover it up.

The Series That Most Left Me Wondering “Why Did I Waste My Time Finishing This?”

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Winner:  Sword Art Online
Runner-up: Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai

I was asking myself this very question by the halfway point of the first season to Sword Art Online and it became the one constant when I watched SAO – after every episode, I’d ask myself why am I wasting my time finishing this? I wish I could have answered this question because then maybe I could have just dropped it before I watched the whole thing. There were so many problems with the first story arc and the second added even more. If only it could have gotten something right like make good characters or include nicely animated fight scenes then it wouldn’t have felt like SAO was a big waste of time.

Anime’s Best Unsung “Hero”

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Winner:  seiyuu Yuuki Kaji

Some one has to do it and by “it” I mean voicing the weak/loser male main character that anime producers have decided is an integral part of so many anime series. The go-to guy for voicing these characters is Yuuki Kaji as evidenced by voicing  Haruyuki from Accel World, Amata from Aquarion Evol, Alibaba from Magi, Ueno from Mysterious Girlfriend X, Shu from Guilty Crown, and Oscar from Lupin III:Mine Fujiko to name some of his roles in 2012 alone. What makes him a popular choice, I think, is when these loser male characters reach the point where they’re allowed to cool Yuuki Kaji can also nail those parts as well. Personally, I wish there wasn’t such a need for these rolls but I realized this year if they have to exist then it’s a good thing that an accomplished voice actor like Yuuki Kaji is around to do justice to these rolls.

And on that note, let’s end part 0 and tomorrow I’ll put up part 1, the character awards.

Top anime 2012 Awards Part 0: Introduction and Anti-Awards <- you are here
Top anime 2012 Awards Part 1: Cast and Character Awards
Top anime 2012 Awards Part 2: Genre and General Awards
Top anime 2012 Awards Part 3: VMA Awards
Top anime 2012 Awards Part 4: The Misfit Awards
Top anime 2012 Awards: Top 15 Anime – #15 – #11
Top anime 2012 Awards: Top 15 Anime – #10 – #6
Top anime 2012 Awards: Top 15 Anime – #5 – #1

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