So this is my first ever year-end review for anime so hopefully you’ll like it as much as my drama review. I have to give some trivia about my anime tastes. As much as I have diverse tastes, trying anything that catches my interest, I still have a personal bias developed over the years. I hate seinen, which have hentai and ecchi contents. I dislike yuri and yaoi. I rarely watch anime with sci-fi themes. Finally, I have a slice of life, shonen and shoujo preference. You’ll probably see more anime belonging those two types below.
Ok enough of that….2012 has been one of the better years for anime. Almost at par with 2008, which personally for me was the best year for anime ever. 2010 was a wasteland where nothing stood out whereas 2011 only had a few titles that shined above the rest. I used to watch more titles than here but this is a relatively good number compared to 2010-2011. Yes, that’s already an indicator 2012 was way better. I’ve watched more than my usual plate so only decided to write on my Top 10. I don’t think people want to hear my rants about how awful the bottom ones are anyway.
- Chihayafuru (Fall 2011- Winter 2012)
MY DEFINITE FAVORITE. It was so good that it managed to take a spot in my top 10 animes, which is a feat to do. It was the anime that made me remember the reason why I loved animes in the first place. Yes, I was in the verge of forgetting that very feeling. If it weren’t for Chihayafuru, I doubt I would have watched the same number of anime this year. Anyway, what was so good about it that I’m completely raving on it? Surprisingly they were able to make a boring card game into something very engaging. It was the perfect mesh of all the genre themes. It had slice of life, sports and romance. They were able to show each part without undermining the other. Similarly, the anime gave each character enough screen time, which made them very well developed. You could understand how their past made them what they are yet they struggle to constantly improve and learn. Not only to defeat their weakness but also truly appreciate what another person brings. I also loved how they value each others’ friendship. It was so beautiful. Each episode (aside from the recap one) really made me see an important aspect of life. I don’t think any other anime this year could compare the depth Chihayafuru has. And last but not the least, it had a wonderful animation that enriched the overall anime experience. This is anime is something I highly recommend!
- Bakuman 2 (Fall 2011-Winter 2012) // Bakuman 3 (Fall 2012-ongoing)
THIS SHOW WAS AMAZING! I can’t believe this went past my radar in the beginning. It lets us explore the manga scene, which is quite interesting to learn about. Nobody has done this kind of story before so it’s very refreshing. I love the combination of our two leads and their interaction with fellow manga-kas! Mindfucking how hard it is to come up with a manga worth serializing.
- Natsume Yuujinchou Shi (Winter 2012)
Finally the series was able to pick up and become better in this season. The third season was kind of slow and felt more like a recap session with a different story. But because of that it provided the perfect set-up for the fourth season, since we don’t have to recap as much seeing this anime is a two-cour series. Anyway, we see how Natsume’s decision to protect both youkai and humans affect his different relationships. I think it was pivotal how Natsume allows himself to open up and share the burden with someone else. Each episode is just so heartwarming, I hate how people always go for the popular titles. This is definitely worth the watch.
- Uchuu Kyoudai (Spring 2012-ongoing)
Unlike everyone’s expectation that the older brother should be ahead or be better, Mutta is the complete opposite. I love how emotionally realistic this anime is. It shows the fork in the road where we ask one’s self whether we should still chase that impossible dream or be realistic. It’s harder on Mutta’s part to see that his younger brother managed to achieve that. This is definitely for older viewers or anyone who has experienced doubts and failed dreams. It really tugs your heartstrings.
- Ginga e Kickoff! (Spring 2012-ongoing)
What I assumed was a simple kids’ anime managed to get the basics of the game down. It’s got such a light-hearted feel to it that brings out the earnestness of kids. It’s the about the competition but the teamwork. With that said, they are able to focus on the characters and abilities. I like that tactics and simple humor. And it shows the tiny details of improvements and not super powers level up kind of thing. This is how sports anime should be done.
- Hyou-Ka (Spring 2012- Summer 2012)
This was a story slow to unfold and love but the upward journey was well worth it. In the beginning, it was the top-notch animation that drew me in. Words cannot express the beauty of the minute details, fluid motions, different artistic styles that range from water color to high definition. This was the perfect medium for setting up the story. The trivial mysteries were fun but it was only when these mysteries began to magically tie themselves with the character depth did this anime become truly wonderful. It takes masterful writing to achieve that kind of feeling you appreciate the tiny moments in between. The ending was the most memorable about the whole experience. I can’t even explain how beautiful it was. Great way to end a great anime.
- Fairy Tail (Fall 2009-ongoing)
I completely skipped out the fillers so almost half the year of Fairy Tail was gone for me. But I’ve heard good things about the filler arc (but fillers are really not meant for me)! I love how Fairy Tail has always been consistent. I’m amazed how a long running anime hasn’t lost its touch at all. The characters are just as humorous as ever. I’m enjoying the numerous friendship sentiments. The list just goes on and on. The Magical Tourney arc has been so awesome. I feel like a 20-minute episode is not enough for a weekly dose since you’re wanting more.
- Sakamichi no Apollon (Spring 2012)
This had a higher ranking before the ending came out. I felt like the ending was abrupt and didn’t do this anime justice. Originally it was the jazz music was drew the audience in. It was a good metaphor of a blossoming first love which was what this anime was all about. It’s beautifully set in 60s and brings out old school vibes. The story was endearing. It elicited the raw emotions involved in first love blues and friendship problems. It’s a nice relaxing anime, one surely shouldn’t miss.
- Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi (Summer 2012)
I think Utakoi was a successful series. In spite of the low quality animation and rustic vibe, the interpretation of The Hundred Poets was well done. We were given several vignettes to weave a beautiful overall picture. The manga-ka has attempted to bring the Hundred Poets to life by infusing modern humor into the stories for another.He allows us to project our own imaginations into these brief passages to try and fill in the emotional blanks. There may not be a lot of historical accuracy in some of these stories, but where Utakoi truly succeeds is in showing the timelessness of human emotions, and how little we’ve changed as individuals even as our society itself has been reshaped countless times.
- Tsuritama (Spring 2012)
It’s going to be difficult to explain why I like this. This is such an oddball anime that I understand why a lot of people would be repulsed and weirded out. This is not meant for everyone. If you deconstruct this, at the end of the day you’ll be left with the lives of the boys centered on fishing and how this was used for a larger purpose. What makes this anime great is the tiny details that we tend to forget: the moments of a budding friendship. The anime was so simple, and it reflects my preferred approach – build around the characters, and let them drive the story. It was flawless execution, hands down.