Top 20 Anime of 2012

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Fate/Zero (END) – 92 points

Fate/Zero has been the biggest and most popular show that has graced us this season and last fall. And with good reason too, since this was ufotable’s comeback to the TV screen after the success of Kara no Kyoukai in the movies. Everything was laid out to us: Amazing execution, Movie-like animation, and a point that the Fate franchise can actually be adapted decently (though Fate/Zero is a Light Novel and doesn’t have 30+ hours of game time). In all honesty, I just wanted to watch this to see Saber in a much, MUCH more justified form.

The question with all the hype of this series is definitely this: Did it deliver? Yes. YES IT DID WITH FLYING COLORS. Fate/Zero gave us a much darker tale than Fate/Stay Night with amazing character analysis, kudos to the writer Gen Urobuchi. It tackles different philosophies like what does it really mean to be a hero or how does someone actually rule. It gave us different opinions and ideologies while never actually adhering or favoring one or the other.

I think the turning point of this series was definitely the meeting of kings, halfway through Fate/Zero. I have to admit, even my concept of a what a ruler is was shaken because of Rider’s speech to Saber. I’ve always thought of a king as someone who serves but Rider showed us a different opinion on what a king is and made all of those who watched this, be convinced. Saber then was portrayed in a completely different light afterwards. From someone that has the skies shining on her armor, she became someone to be pitied. It became pure despair to her even up until the end where she herself accepted that she was wrong. I love how one of the last shots of her in the last episode was her standing in a pile of bodies, in the land that she could not save.

My favorite Servent-Master in this series is undoubtedly Rider and Waver. Many times in this series, I just wished that these two were the main characters and for a very good reason. These two were the light and hope in the dark atmosphere of this anime. Rider and Waver showed a contrast in the Servant-Master relationship and how it doesn’t have to be one controlling the other. Both showed respect to each other and treated each other as friends. I particularly liked how Rider’s ending, though very sad and depressing, was very honourable and true to what these two embodied in the series.

Kiritsugu is also another character I liked. His ideologies are twisted and we all knew that he was gonna break down his facade towards the end because of how human he is despite being so cold in the entirety of this series. He was someone who tried to be a hero but failed drastically even towards the end, with how the grail ended up killing a whole lot of people.

If I had a complaint in this series, it would be the lack of a catharsis. I guess in however awesome Fate/Zero is, it’s still a prequel to Fate/Stay Night. If you take the series as its own, characters like Saber never really got the proper end that she deserved. She’s still foolish on how hopeful she still is on having the grail while never really realizing while Kiritsugu ended up ordering her to destroy it. But of course all the loose ends of this series are answered in Fate/Stay Night but the thing is, I hated Fate/Stay Night and I will definitely never watch that crap again. Fate/Zero is amazing but it could have been much much more if it wasn’t a prequel (not that I’m hoping that they ended it differently).

This will definitely end as one of my favorites this year but to what extent, I still don’t know. For now this is how I’ll rate this series:

Execution: 37/40 (Damn fine amazing storytelling; almost in the sense as how Madoka did it.)

Engagement: 27/30 (While the first few episodes were very slow and wavered my patience, this ended up as one of the series I looked forward to each week and that 3 month hiatus almost killed me)

Characters: 18/20 (Very rich and diverse cast of adults with so much different philosophies, beliefs and ideologies. I definitely preferred some over others but that’s because those character’s way of thinking hitted my way of thinking. This is how Fate/Zero  works. Also Rider is awesome.

Production: 10/10 (Movie-like quality.)

Overall: 92/100 (One of 2012’s best anime)

Spring 2012 Week 10

Ratings start from (-) which means terrible, until (++++++++) which is bombardastically amazing.

#1 Fate/Zero – 23 : So Fate/Zero has officially ended for me. The inevitable happened. Why? WHY? You will be thoroughly missed Broskander. In other news, the twist on Berserker was so simple yet I cannot believe I didn’t get it until the minute he showed his true self. But I don’t care about the ending anymore (or a little just to see Kiritsugu break himself apart) because Fate/Zero had the audacity to kill my favorite character. At least he died in an honorable way with Gil respecting him all the way through. – (++++++) Amazing

#2 Sankarea – 10 : Best episode so far. They finally explained why Rea’s father is obsessed with Rea’s purity and why he takes naked pictures of her. There’s nothing emotional to it but the way it’s presented is really artistic. The picture frame, the angles, how Rea’s father is presented, the whole step mom story. . . and now it comes to an end showdown with Chihiro and Rea’s father and who took care of her best. Just BRAVO BRAVO – (++++) Cool

#3 Sakamichi no Apollon – 08 : More relationship drama that’s slightly realistic, slightly overblown, slightly grounded -bleargh. Yurika’s a really interesting character or rather, the way she’s presented. I don’t want to know her if she existed in real life since she’ll probably be a know-it-all rich high class bitch but I love how the series presents her in her own eyes. She thinks that she’s the damsel in distress in her world (boohoohoo I’m the 1%) and it’s really a genius interpretation of characters like her. Because of her twisted little view on her life, I actually managed to slightly sympathize with her predicament (especially the part where her dad’s setting her up to some rich guy to whom she’ll probably get a rich pampered living from) and Sakamichi, I salute you for that. – (+++) Excellent

#4 Hyouka – 07 : Chitandael and co. goes to a hot spring and what do we get. Male-service? Oh well, again a really good episode. Hyouka just gets more and more addicting after each episode. – (+++) Excellent

#5 Mysterious Girlfriend X – 10 : Hayakawa’s second appearance just brought this series down to oh so many levels. This is just distasteful. Here I am rambling about honesty in MGX then they suddenly turn 180 and pull off this kind of crap. Ugh this feels like Kimi no Iru Machi again. This episode is also resorting to misunderstandings and romantic frustrations; something that just doesn’t fit this series. UGH UGH. I hope there’s some good resolution to this arc since I’m not really watching this for melodrama and misunderstandings. I pegged this show as something that tries to prove a point and experiment on that point but this episode didn’t do that at all. It’s still a good episode but UGH I DON’T LIKE WHERE THIS IS GOING. Please end with a note that I’ll like MGX. – (+) Good

#6 Saki Achiga-hen – 08 : More buildup and buildup. It’s annoying that I’m still getting excited even though I’m going to get let down a bit. Still I’ve made peace with this fake and I’m just enjoying the heck out of it. It’s nice to see the old characters this episode but then again they were reverted to “building up” devices again. Next episode SHOULD be interesting since we finally see Miyanaga Teru play. I’m starting to get the reason why this series was made. – (+) Good 

May Roundup

On hold: Space Bros, Dusk Maiden of the Amnesia, Fujitits, Shirokuma Cade

Dropped: Zetman, Accel World, Kuroko no Basuke

LAND OF THE TERRIBAD

nada

FAULTY BUT WATCHABLE

12. AKB0048 7.9

This show is stupider than Aquarion EVOL. Oh god the whole songstress thing. The thing is though. . . I like it. It also has the EVOL aura in which everything is taken seriously to the point where you realize that some parts are purposely dumb. Or just unintentional comedy but meh I like it. Oh god this whole paragraph doesn’t make sense. Kinda like AKB0048.

GOOD

11. (14) Saki Achiga-Hen 8.2

Well it’s never gonna be as good as Saki but I’ve made peace with this series. They finally have mah-jong battles and some parts are pretty interesting. Some build-ups are paying off; some are still working on building up even more. Maybe this spinoff is just some commercial for the original series since when the real main characters appear, they’re really glorified especially Saki herself.

10. (5) Tsuritama 8.4

I like the whole fishing part of Tsuritama. The way this series presents fishing is very educational (sometimes slightly technobabbleish) though I am curious if Enoshima really has that much variety of fish. I also learned from this series that you can actually have artificial coral reefs. Anyway the plot of Tsuritama is picking up but I really don’t like some of the character interactions (or I’m still pissed at Natsuki for slapping his sweet sister). Haru’s slightly annoying too at times.

9. (6) Eureka Seven Ao 8.4

Maybe it’s just me but do all mecha series have great BGMs? Ao’s even better than Rinne no Lagrange’s. That aside, I really have to see the original Eureka Seven (or the six other eurekas). I’m really curious about Ao’s mom.

8. (10) Aquarion EVOL 8.4

AHAHAHHA the whole MIXY plot is stupid but I LOVE IT. Evol’s finally revealing some plot points that I’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the series and it’s all coming together. I hope the last stretch really pulls this series together.

SEASON’S MEAT

7. (4) Sankarea 8.6

This month in Sankarea had a lot of cracks, mostly because of content. It’s still great with damn fine execution, particularly in episode 8, but sometimes I do wonder what would happen if Sankarea’s staff got a better source material to work on. Anyways I do wonder how this will close off considering the manga is only up to chapter 26.

6. (7) Jormungand 8.7

It’s still fun, it’s still fresh, it’s still awesome. Anime about BANG BANG BANG is apparently always good. I just watched Black Lagoon recently and while Jormungand’s tone is slightly different, it has that snarky-devlish style that I really like. Also Jormungand’s writing is just flawless.

5. (9) Mouretsu Pirates 8.9

I finally picked this up. The refinement of Mouretsu Pirates is unrivalled. Its concepts and settings are well researched and I just love the way it’s used in this series. Bentenmaru’s tasks aren’t exactly the most pirate-ish (attacking luxury liners, saving princesses, guarding high school competitions) but the way it’s done is just brilliant. There’s also some form of mockery to other space operas with 5-6 episodes about High School girls managing Bentenmaru while eating cake and having parties. Moe in my space opera? Impossiburrruu!

4. (3) Fate/Zero 8.9

Kiritsugu’s backstory is very Kara no Kyoukai-ish. We got a view of the world outside of the Holy Grail War and it was slightly refreshing. It also helped that because of that backstory, the events that happened afterwards really hit hard. Kiritsugu will eat himself up by the end of this series.

3. (9) Hyouka 8.9

I have to admit, this is the series that has me excited watching each week. I don’t know why but it has this aura of perfection. Most KyoAni series have this but not as much as Hyouka does. Maybe this is why KyoAni always aims low. For perfection. Really though, Hyouka’s premise is so simple yet the way it’s executed makes it THAT MUCH BETTER. I mean when you have an episode just about Chitanda asking Houtaro why she got angry and you’re entertained, that’s something.

LEGENDARY

2. (2) Sakamichi no Apollon 9.3

I love how much stuff happens in an episode. It’s compact, concise while not losing the feelings and emotions. The romantic triangles actually go somewhere and the characters (especially Kaoru) go through so much maturity because of it. In any other season this would usually take the top spot but not when I finally found an anime that’s fit for my Top 10.

ALL TIME FAVORITE

1. (1) Mysterious Girlfriend X 9.7

This series is just AMAZING STUFF. Each trope in dating is deconstructed and turned into a way in which Tsubaki and Urabe become much more honest with each other. If drool is the way to make relationships work like this, then please every couple out there, exchange drools with your fingers NOW!

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I’d say last month’s stronger but the good crop did get a lot better this month!

Fate/Zero – 15

EEEEEKKKSSSUUUUKAAALLLIIIBAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Just when I thought they couldn’t top Ionian Heratoi. . . they did. ufotable is putting god-mode effort these past 2 episodes. I also love how they portray Saber as a really lonely king with Iskander mentioning how pitiful she is when she used her move. Also Gilgamesh is starting his stalker love on Saber.

animeoscarslogo

Anime Oscars Production Category

Qualifications: Anime that have proved themselves through their production.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Fate/Zero

Sure there are a lot of anime that’s as good in animation as Fate/Zero, but Fate/Zero stands out as the anime that looks like a movie. Kudos to ufotable for that of course, as their Kara no Kyoukai adventures really paid off; I can only wish that they do more anime of this caliber.

Notables: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Ben-To, Mawaru Penguindrum

Best Production nominee: Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero takes place 10 years prior to the events of Fate/stay night, detailing the events of the 4th Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. The War of the Holy Grail is a contest in which seven magi summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail,” which grants a miracle. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences.

BEST ANIMATION

Nichijou

Kyoto Animation’s work for this year introduces how far animation can go with its imaginative ways on telling Nichijou’s quirky and fun jokes. Not only that, the fluidity of the characters movement in Nicihijou is unrivalled, much like most of KyoAni’s work.

(To tell you the truth, it was a big tossup between this and Hanasaku Iroha)

Notables: Hanasaku Iroha, Fate/Zero, Star Driver

Best Production nominee: Nichijou

While the title suggests a story of simple, everyday school life, the contents are more the opposite. The setting is a strange school where you may see the principal wrestle a deer or a robot’s arm hide a rollcake. However there are still normal stories, like making a card castle or taking a test you didn’t study for.

BEST ARTISTIC DIRECTION

Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum always brings something different to the table with its production. Whether the way it interprets the story, the varied train scenes, or the majestic sets (note Episode 9), Mawaru Penguidrum never fails to amaze me with its creativity.

(Again this was a tossup between Penguins and Meguca)

Notables: Madoka Magica, Yumekui Merry, Dantalian no Shoka

Best Production nominee: Mawaru Penguindrum

Three siblings, twins Kanba and Shouma, and the in-and-out-of-the-hospital Himari who’s in poor health, live together at the Takakura home. One day, when the siblings are out on a trip to the aquarium, Himari collapses. The doctors state that nothing can be done for her anymore, but then, a miracle occurs…

BEST BACKGROUND DESIGNS

Hanasaku Iroha

Hanasaku Iroha makes many scenes look realistic with how detailed their backgrounds are. Also their use of CGI is very applaudable. Unlike shows which just paste their CGI here and there (ehem Last Exile and T&B) Hanairo actually bothers in making their CGI look very seemless with its 2D designs. Sometimes you’d be surprised that the background of Hanasaku Iroha was made and not real life. Sometimes you’d be surprised that the Hanairo backgrounds look even better than real life ones.

Notables: Dantalian no Shoka, Madoka Magica, Kimi ni Todoke Season 2, Horou Musuko

Best Production nominee: Hanasaku Iroha

After her single mother decides to run off with a boyfriend to dodge debt collectors, the young and energetic Ohana is sent to live with her grandmother. However, her grandmother is the strict owner of a hot springs inn and requires her to work at the inn to pay for her living expenses. Although Ohana is unhappy about this situation at first, she decides to make the best of her situation and work hard. Ohana’s life is suddenly filled with fun, mischief, and drama!

Best Soundtrack

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Sure there were a lot of awesome OSTs this year but what makes Madoka Magica triumph over all? CUS ITS FROM YUKI KAJIURA that’s why! Not much can be said except how the OST here is quite different from the usual Yuki Kajiura making it a lot yummier to listen to. Oh yeah go check out Mami’s theme song if you haven’t.

Notables: Hanasaku Iroha, Ben-to, Anohana, Ao no Exorcist

Best Production nominee: Madoka Magica

Beloved family, good friends, laughter and tears – these things make up the ordinary life of Kaname Madoka, a second year student of Mitakihara City Middle School. One night, Madoka dreams of a mysterious dark haired girl struggling against a terrible evil; the next morning she discovers that the girl, Akemi Homura, has transferred into her class. This encounter will lead to an incident which will alter Madoka’s fate forever.

Best OP/ED

Nichijou OP1 and 2

Haaydin is fucking awesome. In this two songs of Nichijou, he manages to make the voice of a male and a female and not make it look like so. I was really surprised when I learned about this. Also KyoAni went wild with the accompaniment animation for this which makes Nichijou’s two Ops the best this year.

Notables: To Aru Majutsu no Index II OP 2, Steins;Gate OP, No. 6 ED, Gosick ED

Best Insert Song

STAR DRIVER: Monochrome by Haruka Tomatsu

While I love Mami’s theme and most of Hanairo’s insert songs, STAR DRIVER’s Monochrome beats out the rest with how catchy it is and how it really fits with the battles on STAR DRIVER.

Best Production

Nichijou

It’s safe to say Nichijou was the best this year. It had awesome and creative animation; it took the initiative to really incorporate its animation with its jokes and most of all, it never ever looked bad. No awkward character designs, everything was fluid; you just can’t get any better than this (for this year).

Nominees: Madoka Magica, Mawaru Penguindrum, Hanasaku Iroha, Fate/Zero

 

More in store in the next Anime Oscars Category: Story