My favourite anime shows of the year, selected from the titles I watched which finished airing in 2012:
#1. Fate/Zero – This dramatic telling of the events of the 4th Holy Grail War was a far-superior prequel to the awful Fate/stay night anime. The grand storyline, epic cast of characters, and impressive action scenes made for a thrilling watch. I found myself being very engrossed in the characters and the story, even though the final outcome was already known. It was always an agonizing wait between episodes, tempered by the dreaded anticipation that any episode could be the last for characters that I’d come to love.
#2. Chihayafuru – Endearing characters, great storytelling. I really cared about Chihaya and Taichi and their team. The anime even managed to make the old-fashioned card game of Karuta seem exciting. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the new season in 2013.
#3. BEELZEBUB – Consistently funny, creative, and good-natured. There were some duds during its 60-episode run, but they were remarkably few and far in between. It’s a real shame that this is no longer airing.
#4. Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi – The sort-of companion piece to Chihayafuru, UtaKoi featured the stories of the 100 poems from the Karuta game told in a way that was reverent and irreverent in equal measure. The mature, bittersweet love stories really resonated with me. I didn’t even mind the cart-race/talk-show episode. Although I did find a few of the stories at the beginning of the second half to be weaker than the rest, the series came to a strong finish at the end.
#5. Aquarion EVOL – I didn’t have any intention to watch this anime at first, due to the fact that I hadn’t seen the preceding Aquarion works and because I had seen supporting character Zessica’s fanservice-y get-up. However, I was already watching the other 2 space operas (Moretsu Pirates and Rinne no Lagrange) to varying degrees of enjoyment, or not, respectively; and EVOL was often mentioned alongside those two. EVOL turned out to be a blast! Very over-the–top, with humorous fanservice and sexual innuendo (see, I don’t always hate on fanservice; I enjoy it when it’s funny) and a lot of heart. And Zessica? She became my favourite character.
#6. Hakuouki Reimeiroku – I watched this because I also enjoyed the two previous Hakuouki series, of which this is a prequel. It was a treat to revisit the Shinsengumi members and learn of the events of their early days. The story as a whole may not have been amazing, and the new insert character was as useless as Chizuru from the original series; but the art, the recurring characters, the setting, and the way the events were based on actual history made the show really appealing to me, and I looked forward to watching it every week.
#7. Kuroko’s Basketball – Watching this semi-fantastical sports anime reminded me of how I felt when watching the early seasons of BLEACH. New characters were constantly being introduced as potential rivals for the main team, but they were interesting people, each with distinct personalities, and not necessarily “enemies”. A new season was recently announced for 2013. Looking forward to that too.
#8. My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun) – Ostensibly a romance, but this show was really more about the interactions between a group of friends. Every episode managed to be entertaining. Although every character had definite flaws, they came across as likeable people that I wanted to root for.
#9. Jormungand – A bloody, thought-provoking, action anime about a group led by Koko Hekmatyar, an arms dealer and visionary who dreams of world peace. The mostly serious subject matter was balanced out by just the right amount of levity to make it an entertaining watch.
#10. KIDS ON THE SLOPE (Sakamichi no Apollon) – If I never loved this show, I did respect it for the convincing portrayal of its 1960s setting, the jazz music, and the friendship of the lead characters.
- Best Comedy (intentional): BEELZEBUB (runner-up: Daily lives of high school boys (Danshi koukousei no nichijou))
- Best Comedy (unintentional): CODE:BREAKER (runner-up: GUILTY CROWN)
- Best OP or ED: “Gekkou symphonia“, by AKINO & AIKI from bless4 (Aquarion EVOL ED1)
Notable Drops: Because I like to complain, listed below are the otherwise well-reviewed and popular anime series that were not considered for my year-end list because I couldn’t finish them. Number of episodes watched is in brackets.
- Rinne no Lagrange (12) – unnecessary fanservice detracted from the story; I just didn’t care about the characters enough to continue watching.
- Tsuritama (5) – unlikeable characters; it was about fishing.
- TARI TARI (5) – too sentimental, bad storytelling, bad music.
- SWORD ART ONLINE (15) – so much wasted potential; wish-fulfillment pandering written with the mentality of a child.
- Say “I Love You” (7) – irredeemably cliché-ridden; most of the characters were not the sort of people I would want to associate with; seemed to imply that sexual harassment/assault is okay, desirable even, as long as the offender is good-looking and popular. (Maybe I’m overreacting and this is often sadly true, but I raged.)