Jacquie’s 2012 Year in Review – Music

While it seemed to me that there was a veritable dearth of good music in 2011, that certainly didn’t seem to be the case in 2012.  Maybe nothing sounded good in 2011 because I was too affected by the disbandment of D’espairsRay, and I just needed some time to open my heart to new music.  Whatever the reason, there were plenty of tunes that caught my attention in 2012 and kept me entertained.

 BEST ALBUM:

DIVISION, by the GazettE.  Despite the fact that the tracks were divided into a Rock half and a Digital half, the album played together as a very cohesive whole.  The band may have experimented with things like dubstep, auto-tune, and unusual time signatures, but they fully understood that the songs just had to sound good.

My top 3 favourite songs of 2012 were all from “DIVISION”: beautiful and painful Kagefumi, musically complex Kago no Sanagi, and sad and ominous Yoin.

BEST SINGLE (A-side & B-sides):

RADICAL HYSTERIA, with B-sides COBRA and IN CREATURE, by BORN.  There was no clear winner for this category, and I was reluctant to choose this, since it’s something of a re-release (RADICAL HYSTERIA was the B-side of COBRA in 2010.)  However, RADICAL HYSTERIA is one of the best songs that BORN has ever created, in my opinion, and it really did deserve to be released as a single.  The addition of the third track, IN CREATURE, made for a solid record overall.

Runner-up:  WE aRE, with B-side COLD CHAIN, by abingdon boys school.  This was a strong comeback single for abs, and it might have won if the band had included simple instrumental versions of both tracks.  Instead, there were multiple, useless karaoke versions of just the title track.  I took marks off for that.

Rounding out my top 20 songs, in alphabetical order by artist:

  • COLD CHAIN, by abingdon boys school (B-side of “WE aRE”)
  • Muyuu no kago, by AND
  • RADICAL HYSTERIA, by BORN.  Their “Stupid life clip” for this song was the most amusing PV I saw last year.  It deconstructed the band’s usual scary-sexy image and revealed them to be a bunch of goofs.
  • MISS TAKE –boku wa mistake-, by BUCK-TICK.  Ridiculously hooky, this is one of the best BUCK-TICK songs I’ve ever heard.
  • ATTITUDE, by the GazettE (from “DIVISION”)
  • DERANGEMENT, by the GazettE (from “DIVISION”)
  • DRIPPING INSANITY, by the GazettE (from “DIVISION”)
  • Ibitsu, by the GazettE (from “DIVISION”)  OK, I’ll stop now.
  • DARK SHAME, by GRANRODEO (OP of CODE:BREAKER)  The theme songs were the only good thing about that anime.
  • A FLARE, by lynch. (one of the lead-off singles from “INFERIORITY COMPLEX”)  I wasn’t that much into lynch.’s music before, but this song was just the kind of pretty-but-heavy that I’m a sucker for.  Because of A FLARE, I purchased the album as well as some of lynch.’s previous works and I was pleasantly surprised.
  • G.G., by MUCC (from “SHANGRI-LA”)  The first MUCC song I’ve ever liked.  Normally I can’t tolerate Tatsurou’s singing.  Not so with this song.
  • Munashiki Sei no Guui Shi no Shini, by NEGA (from “VANITAS”).  This 12-minute opus was an unlikely lead-off single for “VANITAS”.  Even songs that I consider to be good will usually lose my attention after about 3 minutes; this song didn’t bore me even after 12.  Anyway, I guess they knew what they were doing because I ended up buying the album.
  • CATALRHYTHM, by OLDCODEX (ED2 of Kuroko’s Basketball)
  • ZERO SATISFACTION, by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D
  • S, by SID.  The first SID song I’ve ever liked.  They’re not usually this heavy.
  • 0 GAME, by SPYAIR
  • vanity, by ViViD (B-side of “message”)  ViViD’s recent singles had been so tame and generic-sounding that I almost didn’t listen to this track.

Jacquie’s 2012 Year in Review – Top 10 Anime

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.

Special Categories:

  • 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.)