Top 20 Anime of 2012

Without further ado. . .

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12 Days of Anime – Mysterious Girlfriend X

Mysterious Girlfriend X, for me, contains the best scene (and arguably the best episode) of the year. Anime Romances almost never tend to focus on the relationship part and this is why MGX is so different and fresh. It focuses on the actual relationship itself. It also doesn’t focus on “Romance Plots” that stuff like Sukitte Ii Na yo falls trap to (the whole I’ll steal your boyfriend and all that crap) but rather it focuses on a select few characters which is really really rare for an anime. The only other anime that I’ve seen that managed to do this type of romance well is Bokura Ga Ita.

So anyway focusing on this certain scene. For ten to eleven episodes, the series has shown Urabe and Tsubaki’s relationship and how much it has blossomed into. Still though, it still hasn’t quite gotten intimate as I hope it would be (well of course if you exclude all of the kinky and drool parts (which you shouldn’t)) and the two characters haven’t even hugged each other. This episode changed that.

That hug. That sweet little scene. Somehow, everything from the first episode until then started gushing back to me. It reminded me how far these two characters have gone in their relationship. It reminded me how amazing this series is.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Mysterious Girlfriend X (END) – 94 points

I’ve proclaimed many times about my love for this series for the past 3 months. Rightfully so because of how mysteriously charming this series is. The plot is revolves mostly around Urabe and Tsubaki and their relationship. The drool exchanging (the main selling point of this series; I don’t know if it’s in a good way or a bad way) is very symbolic in their relationship as it also allows an exchange of emotions and feelings.

What’s surprising about this series is that it’s animated by Hoods, that studio dedicated on making outright anime porn disguised as TV Series (Breast Mutilation Anime, Breastfeeding Anime you name it!). I was damn surprised with how well produced this series is. It won’t win best animation or anything, but I really like the color palette they use (which really brings out the retro feel of this series) and the animation on facial expressions. The soundtrack is amazing, probably the best this year, and it really creates a tone that really only fits a series like this.

The layers of development between Urabe and Tsubaki really brought something new to the table. For once it showed us relationships don’t end with confessions and getting together, which is what most anime tend to do. It explored the difficulties of a relationship through the power of drool. The drool really brings out the feelings both characters have for each other. Another thing very noticeable in this series is how both Urabe and Tsubaki actually talk about what they’re feeling. Highschool romance anime rarely does this (the characters are always secretive with their intentions blablabla) so it’s a refreshing take on how to do romance properly.

I think this series really culminated its development in episode 12 wherein Urabe finally let Tsubaki hug her. That was just sweet. Urabe is a damn fine amazing character. She’s presented as this mysterious girl Tsubaki can’t understand half the time yet when you look closely, all her intentions and emotions are actually pretty normal for a girl. In Tsubaki’s eyes she’s some sort of alien yet when the series turns to her POV, it’s almost as if she’s normal. Almost . . .

This is another anime that will go down as a classic for me. I really enjoyed this series and it’s definitely going down as my favourite this year.

Execution: 36/40 (Directing is top notch, lot’s of symbolisms especially when it comes to drool)

Engagement: 30/30 (Pretty much my favourite anime of the season, faults and all)

Characters: 19/20 (13 episodes of pure development between Urabe and Tsubaki and their amazing refreshing relationship)

Production: 9/10 (Manages to create a tone only fitting for an anime like this. Godly Soundtrack)

Overall: 94/100

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!

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

Mysterious Girlfriend X – Regret never really disappears

There’s this saying that to have a life with no regrets, you should live it to the fullest. In my opinion this is a load of bull since you will always regret. Whether you chose option A or option B, somewhere in the back of your head, you would have wished you chose the other option either because you imagined it would have been the better choice or just out of plain curiosity. Besides what does living to the “fullest” even mean? You will never be able to live fully because you can never choose all the options. I think rather than living to the fullest, people should learn satisfaction.

How does one learn satisfaction though?

In my opinion, it’s definitely through honesty. Besides being the best policy, it lets you admit that you do have regrets which is an honest human flaw. Regret never disappears. It can be lessened though through realizing that more regret would come through if you chose the other option. This is what Mysterious Girlfriend X has been repeating as its theme in the past couple of episodes.

Tsubaki and Urabe have an honest relationship. They tell each other how they feel about certain things going around their relationship. For instance, Tsubaki saw his middle school crush and realized that he regretted not to catch up with each other because of Urabe. Because of the couple’s honest relationship though, Tsubaki openly tells this to Urabe but also tells her that he might have regretted it even more if he did go because Urabe might have been sad. This follows up to Urabe also admitting how she would have been really sad if Tsubaki did go with his middle school crush and left her alone that day.

In another episode, Urabe’s athletic talent was recognized and she was asked to join the track team. Urabe didn’t join though because she wanted to go home with Tsubaki everyday. She definitely regretted it but at the same time she would regret it even more if Tsubaki were to go home alone without her. The same with Tsubaki too and how he wants Urabe all to himself yet at the same time wants her to join the track team and be exposed. Tsubaki then told her to join but Urabe realized that both of them would have more regrets if she did join the track team, so in the end she didn’t.

I find this kind of relationship really beautiful. Tsubaki admitted his regrets and was honest to Urabe. In turn, Urabe admitted her regrets too. Their relationship improved even more because of Tsubaki’s honesty in realizing his regrets and him reaching satisfaction with Urabe. I’ve never seen a high school couple in anime reach this kind of approach to relationships before (usually stuff like this happens in more mature fluff like Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover)

I swear MGX is genius stuff.