Examining the anime of 2012 through awarding winners in various categories only tells part of the story. To compare the relative strengths of the different anime series I also like to rank the top series of the year in one listing. Many of the series listed below have won multiple categories but others have not.
Sure it’s causes one to compare apples to oranges, as the saying goes, or maybe more aptly, forces one to mix oil and water together but humans seem hardwired to try to do just that.
Before I get to the countdown I need to mention the modified eligibility rules for the countdown. To be eligible, the general rule of thumb is the anime series needed to end this year. Longer length series that haven’t finished like Hunter x Hunter and Space Brothers are eligible but only the part of the series that ran in 2012 will be considered. Two cour series that started during the Fall 2012, like Shinsekai Yori and Psycho-Pass, will not be eligible this year but have their entire run be eligible for the 2013 countdown. That also means that two cour series that started Fall 2011, like Chihayafuru and Guilty Crown, and finished during the Winter 2012 season have their entire run eligible for this countdown.
This year, more than the previous years, had a large crop of anime series that were well above average which made picking the total number of series to include on this countdown a very difficult task. I could have added several more spots but I decided, instead, to just name the better ones as honorable mentions. All the honorable mentions are quality series that I recommend watching; in any other year they would have earned a spot on the countdown.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order) – Bodacious Space Pirates, Ano Natsu de Matteru, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes 2, Eureka Seven AO, Natsuiro Kiseki, Btooom!, Sankarea, Tsuritama, Dog Days 2, Upotte!!
Starting off our countdown of the top anime series of 2012 is this odd couple comedy featuring a self-centered girl who has too much good fortune and a poverty god sent to balance things out. Much of the comedy is derived from the two girls completely hating each other and the problems the poverty god has when her target’s good luck keeps the girl safe. Which, coincidentally, is where Binbou-gami ga! shines, thanks to great seiyuu performances and a director that understands comedic timing. If it wasn’t for a few weak side characters that were Buzz Killingtons then this very good comedy would have ranked higher.
Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Sometimes we get truth in advertising as was the case with this anime. The title translates into “The Daily Lives of High School Boys” and that encapsulates pretty well what this anime comedy had to offer. It’s refreshingly honest portrayal of the daily lives of high school boys – their inability to get a girlfriend, sisters who torment their lives, etc. – provided ample opportunities to keep the audience laughing and giggling. I think it was a stroke of genius on the part of Sunrise to air a number of skits from the series before it began airing. Many people would have missed out on this if they hadn’t because of an assumption made on the genre of Nichibros. If there was one critique I had for this anime it would be that the very large cast was sometimes difficult to differentiate them and remember the relationship chart amongst them. This problem almost never interfered with the comedy but it did hurt the characterization of the characters.
Sometimes first impressions turn out wrong, like in the case of Another. At first blush this anime was another horror anime series that wasn’t really that frightful in part because P.A. Works’ attempts to create an unsettling atmosphere around it fell flat. Luckily, later on, when the focus shifted to the question of if the price for stopping the current year’s curse was worth it, this anime found it’s stride and became a great series to watch. There was, however, one scene that did genuinely scare me from Another. It was the scene where a girl slips on a staircase and has her neck impelled on the pointy end of the umbrella she was carrying and had dropped during her fall. This death freaked me out because it matched so closely one of my own fears that I’ve had since before elementary school: slipping on a staircase and dying when I fall onto my umbrella which is oriented in such a way that the pointy end goes through an eye and skewers my brain. Which is why all the umbrellas I own are blunt and rounded on both ends. I hope there is another season of Another because I’d like to see how the curse is finally undone permanently.
Mysterious Girlfriend X
It takes real effort to make a romantic-comedy anime about a boy and girl’s first relationship feel fresh and new with the sheer number of similar themed series, even if one restricts themselves to just anime series. Mysterious Girlfriend X does this but the cost was to introduce a rather odd element – one’s drool had the ability to transmit thoughts, memories, and feelings when consumed by someone else – that turned many people off from this series. Repetition breeds familiarity and that was the case here as the whole drool angle slowly faded into the background and allowed the characters and their relationships to step forward into the spotlight. It was at this point that I realized the characters had enough depth to feel like real people and were cutely endearing to watch as they fumbled through their first relationship. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but I’d like to see another season of Mysterious Girlfriend X to see where the characters go next (and maybe prove or disprove the thought that Urabe might not be human).
Hunter x Hunter
One of the problems with redoing an anime adaptation like with HxH or Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood is figuring out how to handle the section of source material that was already done once. FMA:Brotherhood chose to compress the first couple season’s of episodes down to speed up when the new material started. This adaptation of Hunter x Hunter chose to provide a lukewarm retelling of the first couple of story arcs which pleased no one. The fans of the 1999 version pointed out it’s superiority and new viewers found it boring. If I wasn’t watching this with a shounen fan then I’d have dropped it well before the ~2.5 seasons it took before Madhouse got serious and turned this anime into a compelling watch. I’m now glad I didn’t drop HxH, even if it means I have to go outside my comfort zone and watch a high episode count shounen series. (After Bleach imploded long after it began, I’ve been very skeptical of these types of shows.) Shaving the winter season and part of the spring season off would have resulted in this anime placing higher.
Look for the next section of the top Anime of 2012, from numbers 10 to 6, tomorrow.
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
Top anime 2012 Awards Part 4: The Misfit Awards
Top anime 2012 Awards: Top 15 Anime – #15 – #11 <- you are here
Top anime 2012 Awards: Top 15 Anime – #10 – #6
Top anime 2012 Awards: Top 15 Anime – #5 – #1