Top 6 Anime I Watched in 2012 That Didn’t Air in 2012
I watched more currently-airing anime this year than I did older series, but I did watch enough that I think a top 6 list can be warranted for the end of the year. I’m not going to count the shows I finished at the start of 2012, which aired in 2011 (i.e. Steins;Gate, Gosick, and AnoHana, all three of which I greatly enjoyed BTW).
I’ll start with three honorable mentions really quick:
Angel’s Egg – The most minimalist film I’ve seen that I actually enjoyed. It’ll either click with you or it won’t, I can’t really explain why. It put me in a very pensive mood though.
Princess Tutu – A very fun series that plays around with the concept of characters living within a fairy tale. The atmosphere is really unique, what with all the ballet and classical music going on.
Ginban Kaleidoscope – A surprisingly good mash-up of romcom and sports anime with a supernatural twist. It has its faults, but I really appreciated how many tropes it subverted with its general plot. Good blend of humor and drama.
And now, I’ll start my top six…
6) Clannad / Clannad: After Story – I’ve got at least a dozen blog posts I need to get to, but I’ll be sure to post at least a couple for Clannad: After Story, which I recently finished. Overall the two Clannad anime do an excellent job with characterization, working across a wide emotional spectrum to really bring the story to life for its audience. Tomoya is definitely one of the most well-developed characters I’ve seen in an anime, at any rate. That said, I had some problems with both halves of the franchise, the biggest ones unfortunately coming at the very end of After Story. I still recommend Clannad wholeheartedly though, since it actually delves into story arcs that are rarely touched by anime (or any storytelling mediums in general).
5) Toradora – The first fourth (or so) of the series certainly didn’t hook me as well as I would have liked, but once Toradora got into the groove of things it turned out quite spectacular. Unlike Clannad, there isn’t really a particular character that really stands out to me in Toradora–but I ultimately grew to like all five members of its main cast, and I feel that’s because each one of them serves her or his role very effectively for the story. All in all Toradora’s a solid romcom, and also happens to have some really catchy OPs and EDs.
4) Aoi Bungaku – So this is definitely not a series for everyone, what with it being adaptations of classic Japanese literature–but overall I found it all very engaging. Some stories are better than others, but the best ones (No Longer Human, Kokoro) are truly masterpieces. If you want to get away from high school stories or all the moe, or even the average anime tropes in general, and you want something mature that will really make you think–I recommend giving this series a look. I really hope there will be more of this sort of anime in the future one day. (I suppose we did get Uta Koi this last year at least, but that’s rather different in tone from most of Aoi Bungaku’s stories.)
3) Durarara – I wasn’t expecting to like Durarara so much, at first because I couldn’t get into the creator’s earlier work Baccano, but later because people were saying the second half of Durarara wasn’t any good. As it turned out, the first half of Durarara indeed was spectacular, but the second half wasn’t bad at all in the end. What stands out about Durarara is how it weaves the character arcs of an extremely large cast of protagonists and antagonists, all of whom are interesting characters or gradually become interesting characters. The most unusual ones stand out the most of course (e.g. Izaya, Shizuo, Celty, Shinra, Simon, etc), but the seemingly normal characters turn out surprising in their own right. It’s a chaotic series of action and mysteries, and I would be very pleased to see a second season come out one day. And even more excited if the light novels were released in English. (Pleeeeaaaaaase, Yen Press?)
2) Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – If a comedy should be rated by how often it makes you laugh, then Zetsubou Sensei gets very high marks from me. I had tried the first episode of the series a couple years ago or so and didn’t really get the humor, but this time around I ended up watching the whole series in just over a week. This time it was absolutely hilarious to me, but I suppose it’s not the sort of show I’d ever suggest to anyone who is new to anime at all. It’s bizarre, to say the least, and very much tied to modern Japanese culture. As a satire the series actually gives quite a bit to think about, but the series shines brightest as a straight-up comedy. I will be curious to see how the next two seasons hold up, once I get to them some time this year. (Maybe… I’ll start… right now…?)
But first, my #1 favorite anime I watched this year that aired in an earlier year…
1) Time of Eve – I watched the movie version of this, which is just the OVA episodes strung together along with some extra content. Either way you watch it, you’re in for a treat. This is easily one of the best anime films I’ve seen, and it all comes down to just everything being solid. The atmosphere, the characters, the art, the music, the directing, the screenplay, the pacing, and all the little details are fantastic. The premise isn’t anything new for fans of the sci-fi genre–this is the near-future, and there are robots. The questions posed by Time of Eve will ultimately have to be dealt with one day, as robots become more and more like human beings. This film manages to create a series of short character-focused stories that all revolve around a coffee shop that serves both humans and robots, with the special rule that everyone be treated equally (i.e. treat robots as you would human beings). It’s funny, thoughtful, charming, bittersweet, and everything else you can hope for from a single film or OVA series. I hope there will be more of this one day, though I also look forward to other works coming out from the same creator.