Top 20 Anime of 2012

Without further ado. . .

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12 Days of Anime – Kininarimasu

Chitanda Eru is Kyoto Animation’s newest embodiment of the perfect moe character. Moe is something that Kyoto Animation lives, breathes, inhales and exhales. The moe formula Kyoto Animation uses is the most polished and Chitanda Eru proudly shows it off in their 2012 Masterpiece, Hyouka.

Slightly googly eyes: Check

Wobbly animated walking: Check

Weird trait that can be turned cute: Check

Cute catchphrase: Check

I’ve learned towards the years that my favorite studio really is Kyoto Animation. While it’s always infuriating that they never veer off far from their expertise (moe), the things they do always catch my attention and more often than not, become masterpieces in my eyes. Hyouka is no exception.

Hyouka (END) – 91 points

I’m a KyoAni fag so when I first heard about Hyouka, there was no doubt in mind that I would like. 22 episodes later, that fact still remained . . . and more I guess.

Hyouka is about four guys who pretend to be solving mysteries and such, but most of the time it’s just an excuse to laze around and waste time. Sounds boring? Well thinking about it now, a lot of Hyouka’s episodes are pretty damn boring when you state it. Episode 6: Chitanda gets mad; Houtarou figures out why. Episode 18: Houtarou gets a little curious; Chitanda is fascinated. Episode 19: Houtarou and Chitanda chitchat.

Objectively, Hyouka should be fairly boring. Well, in fairness, most premises of KyoAni shows are fairly damn standard too. The thing that Hyouka excedes on though, is its execution and the addictiveness. You CANNOT watch an episode of Hyouka without watching the one before. If you did, the episode will be fairly boring. The thing with Hyouka is, is that it slowly builds upon itself. Layer by layer, characterization by characterization, Hyouka grows on you like a mold in a bread. Houtarou slowly becomes more involved, Chitanda slowly becomes more open and involved, Satoshi slowly becomes a guy we can all probably relate it, Mayaka slowly becomes more compassionate. Character dvelopment isn’t forced; it happens naturally. Houtarou didn’t suddenly become someone who would care about whatever Chitanda did; He slowly went to that point (he hasn’t even reached it yet after 22 episodes) and it just makes it oh so real.

The thing that helped Hyouka pulled off what it did is its narrativistic/novel-like tackling of the dialogue, narration and monologues. everything is laid out, explained andthen laid out some more. At first I thought this was pretty annoying and boring (I mean did they really hae to spend a minute explaining why Houtarou conserves energy) with the way it tell more than it shows, and most shows that do this end up failing miserably since it doesn’t take into account that it has animation that can explain it (Hi Index, Accel World), but the thing with Hyouka is that it also shows. I guess it helps that a fucking awesome Animation studio is behind this (otherwise Hyouka wouldn’t work at all). Anyway kudos to Mr. FMP man for writing such a detailed script.

Another thing that Hyouka managed to do is to create the best Cultural Festival anime has ever witnessed. Better than School Rumble. Better than Haruhi. I guess it helps that they gave 6-7 episodes for it. Actually at the point of the cultural festival, I was pretty much ready to say that Hyouka is a masterpiece (just to justify how great that Cultural Festival was).

Animation = Self Explanatory. KyoAni in movie-levels except its a TV series. Overall, Hyouka ended up being one of the best series that aired in Spring and it was my favorite series throughout Summer.

Execution: 36/40 (Risky but worth it)

Engagement: 25/30 (Uses a lot of buildup and it pays off quite well)

Characters: 20/20 (KyoAni breathe life into them that no other studio, or series for that matter, can.)

Production Values: 10/10 (Almost Movie-like)

Overall: 91/100 (A-)

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!

Spring 2012 Week 9

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

#1 Mysterious Girlfriend X – 09 : It’s the usual MGX flair: I swear the honesty of Urabe and Tsubaki’s relationship is just unrivaled. What stands out though this episode besides Urabe’s twintails is the outstanding direction. I always say MGX has great direction but moreso this episode. The camera angles, the dimmer than usual lighting, the more vibrant than usual movement of the characters. – (+++++) Incredible

#2 Fate/Zero – 22 : Calm before the storm episode. That scene with Rider and Waver was just daaaaawwww. I swear even if I know they won’t win, I want them to win. I was freaked out though with Irisviel’s scene near the end. That was just creepy. – (++++) Cool

#3 Sakamichi no Apollon – 07 : This series really likes to stuff up as much content in one episode. Yurika gets more spotlight this episode in her whole “I’m gonna rebel with my political bandit disowned boyfriend” schtick. Props to the series though in making us see it in her POV and how we really see how she thinks. Kaoru also gets a nod in this episode because on how much he’s changed (or matured) during the course of the series. Great Stuff as usual. – (+++) Excellent

#4 Mouretsu Pirates – 22 : Surprisingly this episode showed us what we expected Mouretsu Pirates to be before it aired. Lots of excellent battle tactics, tricks and explosions. I feel kinda sad that this series is preparing its ending already (like most shows this season) with Marika finally thinking about what to do after high school. – (+++) Excellent

#5 Hyouka – 06 : The teacher-student relationship in Japan bugs me. It’s too uptight and if that sorta thing happened in my class, I’m pretty sure most of us would get angry. A pretty mundane episode, even by Hyouka’s standards, but the execution was just perfect for me to care about what’s going on. – (+++) Excellent

#6 Sankarea – 09 : A slightly heartwarming Mero side-episode. There’s nothing much besides Mero seeing her mom in Rea’s cold hands. I really wonder how they’re going to end this series. There’s only 3 episodes left and it feels like we’re only starting to get to know the characters. – (++) Great

Spring 2012 Week 8

Since I can’t motivate myself to blog a series, I decided to just make make short impressions on a daily basis. It’s less effort and I get to talk about all the shows I’m watching.

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

(It does feel like I’m copying someone else style but oh wellzz)

#1 Mysterious Grilfriend X – 08 : I thought the episode was going to be all about BOOBS but they added a little ear fetish too. While BOOBS in anime are always done so generically in anime, here in MGX, it’s used with honesty. Tsubaki telling Urabe everything he’s thinking about was just something you don’t see in anime often. The slapping segment near the end was just amazing too. – (+++++) Incredible

#2 Sakamichi no Apollon – 07 : Ahahaha I loved how everyone started dashing to the auditorium because of the power of music. And for a good reason since that concert scene was gorgeous! I’d say this is one of Apollon’s best episode to date. – (++++) Cool

#3 Hyouka – 05 : So our first major arc ended. I like the twist to the whole Sekitani Jun thing this episode which made a lot more sense than Houtaro’s theory last episode. The lame pun was kinda creepy in a way (which is good). The lengthy exposition style still bogs the character interactions a bit, but it really hits hard on the mystery side. – (++++) Cool

#4 The Legend of Korra – 07 : Well this isn’t anime but this is the only place I can talk about it so why not include it?!? If The Legend of Aang revolves on adventures, Korra revolves around politics. And boy was it really good and heavy this episode. Not as awesome as the last episode but they did make some really great twists. – (+++) Excellent

#5 Jormungand – 07 : That’s some damn fine writing there. Jormungand’s coolness isn’t just about BANG BANG BANG but also on how that BANG BANG BANG is done. Koko and the Chinese guy eats dinner while their subordinates kill each other to death. Some really cool fun shit, one of Jormungand’s better episodes. – (+++) Excellent

#6 Sankarea – 08 : Every Wanko scene really has to be a sexy one eh? Rea was adorable this episode; she really looks great with a ponytail. I realize now that with Rea’s strength, she’d fit well with the Armstrong family! Looking back though, the whole episode was just about Wanko taking a bath, Rea going shopping and another “kidnap Rea” plan by her dad, but the way it was directed hardly makes you realize this. – (+++) Excellent

#7 Aquarion EVOL – 21 : Oh god Brownka’s having so much fun with the whole Shrade X Cayenne schtick. The revelations this episode were the ones I’ve been waiting for since the show started (and has been hinted at since the first OP). One complaint though: The second OP keeps cracking me up, especially when used as an insert song. When you read it, you realize that AKINO’s been shouting “You’re so beautiful, it’s depressing!” at your face for episodes. – (+++) Excellent

#8 Fate/Zero – 21 : That Bike scene was seriously cool. I was just less amused at the other things happening; too much cool people drinking while watching other people suffer I guess . . . and oh god Rider’s countdown to death is coming, aaack!! – (+++) Excellent

#9 Tsuritama – 07 : I don’t really like it when guys slap girls in anime, particularly here in Tsuritama since Natsuki’s sister is such a sweet girl who just want her family to work. The drama and tension between Natsuki’s family is genuine though; still I prefer Tsuritama when it’s being fun (just like life). – (++) Great 

#10 Saki Achiga – 07 : These last two episodes have been pretty entertaining thanks to the director finally realizing that it’s time to actually concentrate on the matches. I’m still not warming up to these impostors but HEY, it looks like Stealth Momo will have a big role next week. – (++) Great