The Best Anime Of 2012 – Part 3: VMA Awards

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Step three for awesome anime – after creating memorable characters and giving them a worthy stage – is to use every part of the production process to bring-out/enhance the positive aspects of the anime and hide the negative aspects. Getting the right seiyuu can be the difference between a character being a success or failure. Inappropriate music can ruin the climax of a series and nothing can make a whole anime series fail as assuredly as poor animation quality. In the right hands, a small budget can be overcome through creating the right animation style. Stellar OP/ED with it’s combination of music and animation can build excitement and anticipation for the anime and ensure viewers come back next week.

There’s other parts to an anime’s production – like script writing, cinematography, sound editing, etc. – that won’t gets awards here because I’m not knowledgeable enough in these areas to put any confidence in picking winners. Which is why I call this set of awards the Voice, Music, and Audio awards. I’m hoping, yet again, next year I’ll be able to include a few more areas of the production to these 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.

Top Seiyuu “Discovered”

Nominees

Yumi Uchiyama
Kaori Ishihara
Risa Taneda
Asami Seto
Ai Kayano

Winner –

risa_taneda

Risa Taneda

I will profess to being only an amateur seiyuu fan that can’t possibly match the professional seiyuu fans so I’m probably missing several obvious nominees and I won’t mind constructive comments to enlighten me. A couple of the nominees have appeared in a couple roles and are probably stronger nominees then Risa Taneda but she has been just so wonderful as Saki in Shinsekai Yori and is so extraordinary while singing the ED song for the same series that I feel she has the potential of being a huge seiyuu in the future. One of the interesting things I noticed with Shinsekai Yori is that, with all the various ages of the characters that we see, many of these characters are voiced by multiple seiyuu, but Risa Taneda and Kana Hanazewa have solely voiced their characters.


Best Performance by a Seiyuu

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Yukari Tamura as Remon from Ano Natsu de Matteru
Spring – Ayako Yoshitani as Urabe from Mysterious Girlfriend X
Summer –
Kana Hanazawa as Ichiko from Binbou-gami ga!
Autumn – Jun Fukuyama as Togashi Yuuta from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Wildcards:

Hiroaki Hirata as Mutta in Space Brothers, Yumi Uchiyama as Momiji from Binbou-gami ga!, Shizuka Itou as Koko  from Jormungand/Jormundand:Perfect Order

Winner –

jun_fukuyama

Jun Fukuyama as Togashi Yuuta from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

What was demanded of Jun Fukuyama to successfully pull the roll of Yuuta off was large and yet he made it look easy. There were other seiyuu that had the range of talent to pull off a character like Yuuta but I’m not sure anyone could have done a better job voicing the Yuuta that was in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! then Jun Fukuyama. As impressive of a job as he did, there were several other performances that made his win a close thing.


Best Male Seiyuu

Nominees

Hiroaki Hirata
Mamoru Miyano
Hiroshi Kamiya
Yuichi Nakamura
Jun Fukuyama

Winner –

kamiyahiroshi

Hiroshi Kamiya

I’ve always loved the range of characters that Hiroshi Kamiya can portray. On one hand he’s Natsume for the Natsume Yuujinchou franchise and on the other he’s Araragi on the Bakemonogatari franchise. This year also saw him stretch his talent by Penguin on Shirokuma Café and Erecpyle Dukakis on Ixion Saga DT. He beat out a very crowded field of great male vocal actors

Best Female Seiyuu

Nominees

Miyuki Sawashiro
Shizuka Itou
Kana Hanazawa
Ai Kayano

Winner –

Kana_hanazawa

Kana Hanazawa

I could have added more nominees but, realistically, the choice for this category was either Miyuki Sasashiro or Kana Hanazawa and Kana Hanazawa was just in too many series doing too good of a job to not win this award. My favorite role of hers this year was Ichiko from Binbou-gami ga!.

Best Seiyuu Cast

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Nisemonogatari
Spring – AKB0048
Summer – Dog Days 2
Autumn – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Wildcards:

Binbou-gami ga!, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

Winner –

summer201233622

Dog Days 2

There were a large amount of series that featured excellent voice actor casts this year so I think picking the winner really comes down to one’s personal biases and tastes. I wouldn’t argue with someone picking one of the other nominees as their top pick but I truly enjoyed the seiyuu cast to Dog Days 2. One point in it’s favor is that I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that every voice actor has a part somewhere in Dog Days. What really allowed Dog Days 2 to earn this award, though, is the relaxed warm nature to the anime allowed the seiyuu to relax and have fun with their parts. (Or, at least, that’s what it sound to me.)

Best OP

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Nisemonogatari OP3 – “Platinum Disco”
Spring – Sakamichi no Apollon
Summer – Hyouka OP2
Autumn – Jormungand: Perfect Order

Wildcards:

Tsuritama, AKB0048, Dusk Maiden x Amnesia

Winner –

winter201302166

AKB0048

Sometimes an OP/ED is an instant hit with the viewer and sometimes it takes awhile. Tsuritama and Nisemonogatari OP3 were instant greats and both were early favorites to win this award. They were eventually beat out by AKB0048. This one was a slow burn before it reached it’s full potential which helps explain why it was a wildcard.

Best ED

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Spring – Bodacious Space Pirates
Summer – Space Brothers ED2
Autumn – Shinsekai Yori
Wildcards:

Joshiraku, Upotte, AKB0048

Winner –

nichibros30074

shinsekaiyori30752

spacebros33560

tie – Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou / Shinsekai Yori/ Space Brothers ED 2

I agonized over this choice the longest and the hardest. I tried to find a sliver of separation between these three and I couldn’t; so, I’m picking all three to win this category. What normally happens is different ED are stronger and weaker in the various components that make a good ED and it’s a question of figuring out which one overall is the strongest. Here, though, the visuals of all three were great, the music of all three were lovely, how well the ED went thematically and emotionally with the show was excellent for all three, and these three all easily passed the test of how well the ED worked to finish the episode.

Best Background Music

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Natsume Yuujinchou Shi
Spring – Jormungand
Summer – Eureka Seven AO
Autumn –
Shinsekai Yori

Wildcards:

Hyouka, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Winner –

summer201200179

Eureka Seven AO

Normally I complain how I don’t quite have the confidence when I pick a winner in this category but this year I actually feel at ease for picking Eureka Seven AO. An OST is not quite the same thing as the show’s background music because it is the full tracks separated from the animated scenes that used them but it’s close and there was no other OST that I listened to more this year then the first one for E7AO. I normally cherry pick my favorite tracks and listen to only those. With E7AO, I listened to the whole thing and during the break the Olympics caused I used the OST to tide me over until the anime started up again. When it did, I found myself loving the background music for E7AO even more.

Best Character Designs

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Chihayafuru
Spring – Bodacious Space Pirates
Summer –
Dog Days 2
Autumn – Jormungand: Perfect Order

Wildcards:

Btooom!, Jormungand, Aquarion Evol, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Winner –

jormungandfall201209242

Jormungand / Jormungand: Perfect Order

This year I realized that, with the attention I’ve been paying the quality of animation, I’ve started to really notice character designs in both the positive and negative. There were a few cases this year of series that I started watching just because I liked the character designs. I sure there’s a big book somewhere that explains what makes good character designs but, right now, I think it splits into two camps – the first group looks good and is easy on the eyes and the second group helps the show to better convey it’s characterizations and story. Jormungand falls into the second group. The character designs are vaguely ugly to look at but if they had looked different then Jormungand would not have been as good as it was. The characters looked like they belonged in the story that was being told and their look made the plot seem more plausible. Image if the characters had looked like they belonged in K-on! or Hidamari Sketch. Yeah.

Best Animation Style

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Nisemonogatari
Spring – Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko
Summer –
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
Autumn – Shinsekai Yori

Wildcards:

Tsuritama, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Winner –

spring201217475

Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko

I’ll be the first to admit that the animation to Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko wasn’t always the highest quality or the most consistent but that did not infringe upon it’s memorable animation style. Lupin is a very long running series and, as much as I love it, seemed for a long time now content to keep the auto-pilot engaged and coast along. It was always great to see new Lupin but it also hurt to see another half-hearted effort. Which is why I’m very happy that this Lupin series got made. It wasn’t perfect but the successful attempt at a new animation style might just signal a further re-genesis for this franchise.

Best Animation

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Aquarion Evol
Spring – Hyouka
Summer – Hyouka
Autumn – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Wildcards:

Eureka Seven AO, Sakamichi no Apollon, AKB0048

Winner –

summer201223988

Hyouka

Every year there’s at least one category that is incredibly easy to pick because the answer is so blindingly obvious and this year it’s this category. Hyouka is just heads-n-shoulders above everything else this year.

Top Animation Studio

Nominees

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – J.C. Staff
Spring – Satelight
Summer – Sunrise
Autumn – A-1 Pictures

Wildcards:

Kyoto Animation, Madhouse

Winner –

shinsekaifall201215795

A-1 Pictures

A-1 Pictures had a beast of year. They were behind two of the best new anime of 2012 (Space Brothers and Shinsekai Yori), another excellent series (Tsuritama), a solid series (Magi), and one commercial success of questionable quality that will fill it’s coffers and allow them to continue animating the other, more higher quality stuff (Sword Art Online). I took notice of A-1 Pictures from almost their inception when there second animated series was Birdy: The Mighty Decode which still ranks near the top of my list of anime series with the best action scenes. My respect for their name has only grown from then and only very occasionally have they created a dud. Several other studios gave A-1 Pictures stiff competition for this award. Kyoto Animation had a very strong year with two successful new, non-sequel TV series plus the K-On! movie that made a killing both in the theater and in DVD/BD sales. Nor should Satelight and Sunrise be forgotten for filling the year up with a variety shows that ranged from good to great.

That’s it for part 3 of my 2012 anime awards. Stay tuned for the next part

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

  1. Honestly, I would believe Uchiyama Yumi beat Taneda Risa in that list of 5. She just does a much better job as a seiyuu, but too bad the industry does involve singing, and maybe casting the job like an idol’s, to make seiyuu more attractive commercially.

    I am surprised Uchuu Kyoudai’s OST did not make it into the list, it was really inspirational. Girls und Panzer’s OST was also pretty good and should at least have made it into the nominations, if you watched that show as well.

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  2. What I found strange was how they animated the main protagonist in Jormungand, Koko. In the manga, which I checked for a comparison, she looked cuter, and less masculine in the chin and eyebrows. I really thought the various pictures of her on the ads were about a male character. I only started watching Jormungand when I read that the main character was a woman.

    Judging by the other character designs in Perfect Order and its prequel, they have no problems doing cute and feminine, but it seems there was a conscious design choice to make the transition more obvious. Or perhaps they really were worried about a mercenary group of hard hitters being led by a woman, perhaps thinking the audience wouldn’t buy it given how Japan is still a bit patriarchal amongst certain generations.

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  3. @Panther: I think sometimes I have blind spots because your probably right about Space Brothers. I find myself shedding tears constantly while I watch it which is probably a sign of the music getting to me. I’ll pay more attention to the music when Girls und Panzer airs it’s last two episodes later this year.

    @ymarsakar: That’s interesting about the change in Koko’s design on Jormungand. I really liked how she looked in the anime but I’m curious to see what she originally looked like.

    Someday I need to go back and finally watch Code Geass.

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  4. Some of the design motiffs were used in another anime, to denote a character as being a snake youkai, the bushy eyebrows that is. Perhaps they wished to evocate the character transition vis a vis Jormungand. Not quite sure why that was necessary.

    Code Geass is like an alternative world where Chuunibyou is the way to success. So to speak. And I saw it before I even knew people used a term like that in Japan. A great rollercoaster ride for people like me who also like the heroic tragedy+comedy combo. I swear, I think they may have actually designed the whole new Chuunibyou referenced episodes based upon the past ones.

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  5. OST is out for Girls und Panzer, so you can give that a go. Space Bros also has its OST out but it is rather hard to find since none of the major release groups have done anything about it, which is a darn shame.

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  6. @ymarsakar: interesting catch with the design motifs

    @Panther: I found the Space Bros OST and 2nd ED song (which I’ve been wanting for a long time), now I have to give them a run through 🙂 After that I’ll try to get to the OST for Girls und Panzer before the last two episodes air.

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