The Best Anime Of 2012 – Part 1: Cast and Character Awards

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To me there’s no surer way to make an anime a success then filling it with great characters. There are, of course, many other things needed to make a successful anime but it’s very rare to find a bad anime that had palatable characters. And it’s also possible to have very weak characters while still having a good anime because the other stuff is able to carry it, like with Eureka 7 AO – strong plot, great production values, and yet it had flat characters.

It should be no surprise, then, to say these are my favorite awards to pick and also the ones I spend the most time on. (Though trying to pick the Best ED for the year was the single most insanely difficult category this year.) And with the return of Chihayafuru and the recent news of Space Bros getting extended and moved to a more watched time, I’m already looking forward to picking the 2013 cast and character awards.

Before getting to the awards, as a reminder, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there’ll be some because of how they’ll relate to specific awards. As for the continuing shows, only the part of the series that ran during this year is under consideration for this year’s awards.

Best Female Main Character

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Chihaya from Chihayafuru
Spring – Koko from Jormungand
Summer – Chitanda from Hyouka
Autumn – Koko from Jormungand: Perfect Order

Wildcards:

Rikka from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, Marika from Bodacious Space Pirates, Akane from Psycho-pass

Winner –

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Koko from Jormungand / Jormungand: Perfect Order

Koko might be loco but she also has the wily instincts of a fox, the swagger of a megastar, the keen intellect of a master tactician, and a drive for success that would make J.P. Morgan take notice. Even when Jormungand seemed like only a collection of stand alone stories about an arms dealer, watching Koko work was riveting.

Best Male Main Character

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou Shi
Spring – Mutta from Space Brothers
Summer – Mutta from Space Brothers
Autumn – Jonah from Jormungand: Perfect Order

Wildcards:

Houtarou from Hyouka, Araragi from Nekomonogatari – Black

 Winner –

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Mutta from Space Brothers

Slice-of-life series like Space Brothers depend upon their characters being interesting enough that, when nothing much happens in an episode, it still feels like something happened. This greater focus on characters improves the chances of slice-of-life characters in doing well in categories such like this as Mutta shows. He lacks many of the memorable characteristics of Koko, the top female main character, but through Mutta’s long quest to become an astronaut he’s no less memorable.

Best Supporting Character(s)

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Remon Yamano from Ano Natsu de Matteru
Spring – Weaver and Rider from Fate/Zero
Summer – Yasushi Furuya from Space Brothers
Autumn – Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter

Wildcards:

Andy from Aquarion Evol, Mayaka Ibara from Hyouka

Winner –

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Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter

I find it a shame that Hunter x Hunter wasn’t built around Kurapika because he’s a much more interesting character then the main character, Gon, and the York New story arc that featured him amply proves my point.


Best Screen-grabber

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Literature Girl from Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Spring – Wishing Rock from Natsuiro Kiseki
Summer – Head of JAXA, Shigeo Nasuda, from Space Brothers
Autumn – Hisoka from Hunter x Hunter

Wildcards:

Sensei-Sensei from AKB0048, Fudo Zen from Aquarion Evol

Winner

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Literature Girl from Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

I define screen-grabber as some who does not have much screentime but uses what little he/she/it receives for maximum effect and leaves a lasting impression. Literature Girl exemplfies this perfectly as she’s my favorite character from Nichibros with maybe a grand total of 5 minutes of screentime for the entire series. At this point I should probably just rename this award the The Literature Girl Award because she’s such a perfect example.

Best Couple

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Touko Fujiwara and Shigeru Fujiwara from Natsume Yuujinchou Shi
Spring – Urabe and Tsubaki from Mysterious Girlfriend X
Summer – Chitanda and Houtarou from Hyouka
Autumn – Rikka and Yuuta from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Wildcard:

Andy and Mix from Aquarion Evol

Winner

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Urabe and Tsubaki from Mysterious Girlfriend X

Watching Urabe and Tsubaki fumbling through their relationship made watching Mysterious Girlfriend X a cutely endearing experience. The lengths they were willing to go to make their relationship work pushed them above other couples that had more natural chemistry together like Rikka and Yuuta.

Best Cast of Characters

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Chihayafuru
Spring – Aquarion Evol
Summer – Space Brothers
Autumn – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Wildcards:

Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi, Natsume Yuujinchou Shi

Winner –

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Space Brothers

One of the marks of very good storytelling is the ability to create minor and bit part characters that have the same depth of character to them as the main and supporting characters. Cross Game is one of the best examples of this ability and this year saw a series finally on par with it, namely Space Brothers. Each character in Space Brothers is unique without having to resort to common stereotypes/clichés and it probably helps that we’re dealing mainly with adults.

 

Best Character Development for Cast

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Chihayafuru
Spring – Mysterious Girlfriend X
Summer – Space Brothers
Autumn – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Wildcards:

Hyouka, Ano Natsu de Matteru

Winner –

winter201202131

Chihayafuru

On the other hand, using high school students and giving them plenty of depth is a prime recipe for character development, in the right hands, such as with Chihayafuru. Making Karuta interesting would only have pushed Chihayafuru so far, so, it’s this character development that helps make it such a riveting series to watch and worthy of a sequel.

Best Character Development of a Single Character

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou Shi
Spring – Nagi from AKB0048
Summer – Rich girl from Binbou-gami ga!
Autumn – Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter

Wildcard:

Yuuta Togashi from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Winner

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Kurapika from Hunter x Hunter

This is one of the reasons why Kurapika won best supporting character and the reason Hunter x Hunter will place as highly as it will in my top anime of the year countdown; the personal growth and evolution he goes through was phenomenal. Many a lesser writer would have been contented with Kurapika merely getting the revenge he desired (and deserved) but Yoshihiro Togashi forced Kurapika to painfully rethink, revise and rework this revenge based on meeting his new friends Gon and company as well as meeting the villains he was after, leaving him a different person then he started off being.

That’s the end of part 1; I hope to have the second part up within a day. Comments and feedback are always appreciated – I’d love to see what others would pick.

Top anime 2012 Awards Part 0: Introduction and Anti-Awards
Top anime 2012 Awards Part 1: Cast and Character Awards <- you are here
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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3 thoughts on “The Best Anime Of 2012 – Part 1: Cast and Character Awards”

  1. The revenge arc in Hunter X Hunter I first saw as a movie back when they finished airing the tv series. Tone wise, it was very different from the normal shounen plot, because it assumes one critical difference in the hero’s journey. It starts off with the hero arriving at the end of his journey, as the beginning of the story.

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  2. The young are always searching for identity, proof of glory and valor, and experience/power. Those who are older and have achieved battle experience and wisdom, look for other things.

    It’s almost nostalgic to remember the shounen shows because I was in the same position. When I first saw it, I was young and inexperienced, searching for confidence and competence. I resonated with the main character’s desire for power, whether to protect good or to defeat evil, on a personal emotional level.

    I never once asked the question of what I would do next once I had achieved all I had sought. I suppose the protagonists in the show never asked themselves the question either.

    Shows that start people at the end and then maybe work their way backwards a little, encourages the viewer to think of the end game. Not the opening chess moves, but the true end game. What are these people going to do after their goal has been accomplished, given that accomplishing those goals is now a reality, not mere boyish fantasies?

    Because one cannot live life constantly searching for power. Eventually, one will hit the fork in the road with the sign that says “what are you going to do now”.

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