Without further ado. . .
Chuunibyou was a riot in its first half. It was over the top hilarious, cute, and obnoxious at the same time. I liked the whole “never grow up” theme that it was trying to message out in the first half. In the end though, it just fell apart a bit due to focusing on things it shouldn’t have. In that retrospect, I liked Denpa Onna a lot more. It’s still a decent effort though for Kyoto Animation but their best efforts lie in a different show.
Sankarea was one of the surprises of the Spring Season for me (aside from Mysterious Girlfriend X of course). The manga was trashy but the anime made it A LOT better than what it truly is. It was gorgeous, it had great dialogue and the story was surprisingly interesting. It’s too bad that the foul odor of the manga started reeking in its final episodes which made me put it this low in the list.
18 Rinne no Lagrange
Rinne no Lagrange is a very charming series. It has characters that you can’t help but like and it has a down to earth feel to it (at parts). It’s also very direct and full of emotion. A dramatic plot point would always get resolved fairly quickly because of the characters, especially Madoka’s, bluntness. Also, the villains (at least most of them) aren’t actual villains but rather people with different ideals. I really liked that about Rinne. It also has an amazing soundtrack. But even with all of this, something always feels missing from the series. It really feels like it could be more. Maybe the awesomeness of the initial episodes still haunt me for what this show could’ve been. Oh well, it’s good enough for a Top 20 slot. MARU!
17 Dansei Koukousei no Nichijou
I’d say Nichibros is the comedy of the year. Chuunibyou was a riot but it was only in the first half. Jinrui was also really funny but sometimes I feel like I’m not smart enough to appreciate that show. Nichibros on the other hand, lands perfectly on my comedic sweet spot. It’s just a plain mockery of everyday life and anime at the same time and I like stuff that mocks other stuff. The thing with Dansei (and even with this season’s Girls und Panzer) is that it’s genius but it forgets that it needs actual characters with depth. Then again, if depth was added to these characters (and Girls und Panzer’s);it wouldn’t work. That’s why Nichibros lands into a place I like but not love.
16 Aquarion Evol
EVOL is a very over the top series. It has a plot that doesn’t take itself seriously, characters with emotions that are maxed up, and sexual innuendos that are both subtle and obvious. It’s hard not to like this series even with its obnoxiousness. Honestly, the show has a lot of high points but it’s also combined with a lot of low and dull points (and a lot of sad Zessica in the second half) that made me conscious enough to at least not include it in my Top 10.
15 Inu X Boku SS
Inu X Boku SS is a series that I wouldn’t have even considered putting in my list in most of its run. The last two to three episodes changed that though. They just injected so much development in the main leads (something you really won’t expect for a climax of a series like this) that all the likable parts of InuBoku became lovable. I suddenly appreciated the main leads’ relationship. Season 2 please.
Koko is fucking loco. Jormungand is a pure action show (a fairly low budgeted one) that is really fun. All the characters are snarky one way or another which really livens up the dialogue. When Jormungand got serious (bat shit insane serious if that ever makes sense) especially in its second half, you end up with stuff like characters that get bombarded with American missiles (care of Kokoloco). I definitely like Black Lagoon (which it has been compared endless times) more but the sheer craziness of Koko makes Jormungand an awesome show.
13 Natsuyuki Rendezvous
This is what Maison Ikkoku would be if it was a lot shorter and the characters weren’t likable. Natsuyuki Rendezvous is an anime that makes me think why it was an anime in the first place. The dramatic flair of the series is something I only see in live dramas (and soaps) which is a real surprise to why this was created in the first place. It’s depressing, unappealing, and unapologetic to its viewers in its own way and somehow that’s the reason it appeals to me so much. It definitely lost a lot of steam in its middle parts (due to its refusal to be anything near likable) but it really ended well.
12 Jinrui wa Suitta Shimashita
Jinrui is probably the smartest comedy I’ve watched since Zetsubou-sensei. It’s a social commentary (that I really don’t get at parts) covered with cute fairies and cupcakes. It’s also like Natsuyuki Rendezvous in which it refuses to pander to the viewers. It’s presented in an order that isn’t chronological but at the same time doesn’t fit with its non-chronological order. It’s weird and slightly uncomprehendable but that’s what makes it pretty darn good.
11 Mouretsu Pirates
It’s a mecha series unlike anything I’ve watched. Mouretsu starts slow – really slow. It’s not something to be watched in a weekly basis, especially in its first half. When it got going though, it got really exciting and fun. The series slowly gets wilder and wilder as Marika becomes accustomed to becoming a captain of a pirate (space) ship. What I also like about the show is how refined it feels (the series was already done before it aired) even with its wildness and that’s something hard to achieve. Mouretsu Pirates is classy and a series that really deserves to be watched.
10 Sakamichi no Apollon
Sakamichi no Apollon is almost godsend before it aired. It probably had the shiniest staff in recent memory. For the most part of the series, it really did feel like it was godsend. Characters just kept on developing with no missteps; something I’ve never really witnessed for a lot of series. It’s just too bad that the last few episodes were fairly lackluster. Still, Apollon holds a precious place in my heart with how almost-perfect it is.
9 Ano Natsu de Matteru
Ano Natsu de Matteru is a series that uses the tried and true formula from the Onegai series a decade back. It also infuses a lot of the things I like from recent Romcoms like Toradora (which is one of my all-time favourites) with director, Nagai Tatsuyuki at helm. It had a lot of pure teenage drama, similar to the likes of Anohana and again, Toradora. It’s fairly hard to make a series of a string of love stories from the same cast of characters without being corny and Ano Natsu did just that. If there’s something I didn’t like about Ano Natsu, it’s the whole alien thing and the ending felt really inappropriate for what the series has been building on about. Still, like Sakamichi no Apollon, even with the stumbles toward the end it’s still a series that I’ll always treasure.
Another was the horror series of the year. It builds on suspense and mystery while making everything so atmospheric at the same time. Horror, like comedy, is something very subjective and something hard to appreciate by everyone but at the very least, Another clicked at me. For its entire run, I was admittedly shit scared watching it. While the ending pulled way too much blood, I liked the resolving mystery behind who the “Another” was. For that, it gets the 8th spot in 2012’s list.
There’s a clear separation from the 8th spot and the 7th spot. The seven titles below are series that almost never stumbled and some of them are likely to make a spot in my Top 50 list. I would say this is what makes 2012 a great year as it has a number of series that I really like. Fate/Zero is definitely one of them. Fate/Zero has an amazing plotline thanks to Urobuchi Gen. He utilizes the original plot line of the Fate/Stay Night series and turns it into a much darker and grittier tale. While it could have done away with characters feeling just a tad bit stoic, characters like Rider and Waver exist. It’s also one of the most visually stunning series of the year with cinematography that makes it movie-quality.
6 Hunter X Hunter
I’m surprised to how good Hunter X Hunter is. It’s slightly formulatic but because of this, it actually managed to create a lot of creative things. The main drive of the series though is in its characters. There’s well developed ones like Kurapika and Killua, well structured ones like Gon, and really likable ones like Leorio. It also has the Spider Troupe which in my money is the best set of villains I’ve ever seen since the Homonculus of Fullmetal Alchemist. I do hope it doesn’t jump the shark in 2013 as it enters new material.
Looking back, Nisemonogatari was a fairly disappointing sequel to Bakemonogatari. They cranked up the banter dialogue and minimized Senjougahra’s role. I did not like that. Why is it number 5 though? I guess being half as good as the best series of all time still mean that it’s of high quality. The creative direction of the series is even wilder than that of Bakemonogatari’s with sexual toothbrush scenes and church-like bathrooms. The plot isn’t as cohesive and well contained as Bakemonogatari’s but blergh who cares when you can have pure dialogue exchange that’s so offending to what makes a story good that it actually is GOOD.
4 Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is shoujo romcom done right. It’s clichés are there but somehow, the way the series uses it makes it fairly refreshing. While Shizuku and Haru’s relationship doesn’t really arrive anywhere towards the end of the series, somehow it feels satisfying. It creates a huge set of characters that it manages to balance out effortlessly. Shizuku is probably one of the best female leads I’ve seen in a while with her headstrong personality and her refusal to be completely swayed by Haru. The series also has Yamaguchi Kenji who stands strong as one of the best side characters in recent memory. His one-sided love story is one of the best moments of Tonari for me.
The more I thought about Hyouka, the more I realized how much of a masterpiece it is. It’s one of those series that immediately puts you off, but slowly (and surely) it enamours you in its own world. The narrativistic style of the series is something I used to despise but somehow it became the charming point of the series. Also, it uses buildup. It’s a very slow yet very realistic buildup. Characters change (again slowly but surely) and by the end of the series, it feels like they’re real. The mysteries of the series are some sort of get-up for actual character interactions. The mysteries are mundane but they become really interesting after a while (especially in the Kanya Festival Arc). It also helps that it’s animated by Kyoto Animation. It’s like the main story tells one thing but the animation tells another thing that adds to the story. Also the last episode was like pure visual orgasm. God Kyoto Animation, how the fuck do you do it?
2 Mysterious Girlfriend X
Choosing which would be the best anime of the year was agonizingly difficult. MGX single-handedly has the best scene of the year but Chihayafuru has a plethora of really good ones. While I chose the latter as the winner, Mysterious Girlfriend X is still quite a rare gem.
Spit is disgusting. Seriously, the author of this series is nuts. Mysterious Girlfriend is fairly bonkers but at the same time it’s also one of the smartest and most emotionally honest anime I’ve ever seen. If Bokura Ga Ita was the best flawed romance there is, Mysterious Girlfriend X was the best honest romance there is. The main leads always try to understand each other and the benefit of the doubt always plays through. The main leads TALK about their feelings and somehow it really becomes a relationship that’s fruitful; something to really be envied of. All this was possible because of spit. And If spit is the reason for amazing romances then please use spit more often. God I love Mysterious Girlfriend X.
Chihayafuru beat MGX by a hair strand and it now stands on top of all the anime that aired this year. Chihayafuru manages to turn an obscure, probably uninteresting to watch sport into something highly entertaining. It also creates characters that are lovable and sympathetic at the same time. Chihaya is a wonderful character that wears her emotions on her sleeves. The portrayal of Taichi’s “good at everything, best at nothing” trait is so nicely played that really makes Taichi one of the best male leads of this year. The way everything plays through: The intense card battles (one full of mental concentration and speed), the amazing characters and just the genuine heartfelt aura of the series makes it the best anime that aired in 2012.
Overall, 2012 was an average year. Winter was actually really good with the variety of titles it provided. Spring was one of the best season in years. Summer on the other hand was fairly disappointing. Fall was good. I still like 2011 a lot more but 2012 can stand on its own. I mean if you have 7 titles making it in my favorites list then you’re a pretty good year.
Okay I’m out (writing 2000+ words is fairly exhausting).