Published on January 2nd, 2013 | by exo0
Top 5: Absolute Territory’s Favorite Anime of 2012
Happy New Years everyone!
2012 came and went, seemingly in the blink of an eye. This year wasn’t an especially amazing one for anime, but there were a few series that managed to claw their way out of the pit of mediocrity. Many of the anticipated shows of the year turned out to be somewhat underwhelming, but this left the floor open for some unexpected breakouts, which actually turned out to be a really good thing.
Note: The following list is comprised of five shows, selected based upon the combined opinion of myself (exo) and clazy. All shows began their run no earlier than January 1, 2012, and no later than December 1, 2012.
So without further ado, lets get on with the countdown.
5. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
exo: Overall, Chu2Koi was an extremely well-rounded show that managed to exhibit a perfect balance of comedy, romance, and drama. The genres blended together effortlessly, and the transitions made between the three were silky smooth. Chu2Koi was an emotional roller coaster to say the least, and I can recall at least a few moments where I found myself laughing uncontrollably, while all the while holding back tears from a scene just moments earlier. Much of this show’s success is due to KyoAni’s masterful understanding of anime production, and is a testament that serves to solidify the studio’s position as the master of the School Life genre. However, I feel that the source of Chu2Koi’s strength is also its (and KyoAni’s) greatest weakness.
Let’s take a look at KyoAni’s current formula for a successful anime:
- The main setting must be a middle/high school.
- The main character is a male.
- The main supporting character is female, and is the romantic interest for the main character.
- The characters of the show come together by means of a school club or organization.
Out of the ten series KyoAni has produced, seven (Full Metal Panic, Air, Kanon, Clannad, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, Hyouka, and Chu2Koi) fit the bill perfectly.
My point is that there is only a certain number of permutations of school life anime one can watch before it starts to get boring. Chu2Koi was a little bit too predictable, and while there were a few drama filled moments within the show, nothing too serious happened and the conflicts were easily resolved.
Regardless, Chu2Koi still managed to stand lengths above the average romance, and it is a show that will stick with me for a long time to come.
clazy: KyoAni, doing it right again. If they could make Lucky Star interesting, the sky is the limit. I’ll even give Tamako Market (or whatever that boring-looking show they have next season is called) a fair shot next season too. The imaginary battle scenes were decently cool, but to be honest I kind of wish there was a Nibutani route. Seeing her get all irritated at Dekomori was awesomely funny. Too bad they didn’t have flashbacks to her Chuunibyou days… wait, BOOM! That’s a perfect expansion. I just wrote the plot to the OVA. You’re welcome KyoAni.
Hajikero Synapse, Banishment THIS WARUDO!
4. Sword Art Online
clazy: Not just a .hack remake! The concept of virtual online gaming has been around for a while but damn does it seriously look like fun. The first half in SAO was a wild adventure brimming with color. It was fun to see them raid the dungeon floors and seeing Kirito’s badass dual wielding skill open up for the first time. Unfortunately that excitement didn’t really carry into the second half since ALO was kind of lame (really, fairies??). Maybe it was the fact that it was focused on the Suguha and her troubles or maybe it was the fact that the risk was death was not there anymore, but something about the ALO half was just boring.
exo: It’s not like Sword Art Online’s concept is new or anything. In fact, I found the overall storyline to be generic and predictable, the premise to be simple and uninspired, and the setting just as expectedly bland as everything else in the show. But despite all of that, I still found myself impatiently waiting for the next episode to air. So just what was it about SAO that made it so appealing?
For me, it was the cast of characters. Kirito turned out to be the perfect protagonist. He forwent all of the necessary self-confidence issues that most male protagonists encounter, and was able to forge a romantic relationship without the misunderstandings and awkwardness that usually plague anime.
Likewise, I found Asuna to be one of my favorite heroines of all time. Exceptionally strong, with a quiet confidence, she was a girl that had just the right amount of tsundere. Not completely overbearing, but with just enough tsun tsun to make it cute (if SAO was completely terrible I would have probably still watched it just for her). Even Suguha made a small place in my heart, something completely uncharacteristic of me as I absolutely hate people that make love triangles when the winner is already obvious.
Overall SAO was just a solid show. It had no real weaknesses and stayed consistent throughout the season. The pacing was spot on, and I feel that the only real complaint I have is that the series should have ended after Kirito beat SAO. Personally, I would have been fine with Kirito and Asuna fading away together. ALO just felt like a convenient excuse to continue the franchise.
exo: Bluntly put, Hyouka is a complete and utter disgrace to the mystery genre. The so called “mysteries” that Oreki solved serve more as a gimmick to satiate Chitanda’s curiosity rather than as a focal point of the series. But, when the show is watched from a school life perspective, it actually becomes quite good.
One of Hyouka’s main turn offs was its dialogue intense format, coupled with mundane mystery cases. So much so that I applaud anyone who was able to make it through the excrutiatingly slow start. However, the show began to pick up drastically from the start of the School Festival Arc. It was as if Hyouka was finally given a set of wings. I cannot even begin to describe the amount of chills I got from the cooking competition, and don’t even get me started on the ending (which I thought was perfectly done).
Hyouka is one of those shows that slowly and subtlety grows on you. Personally, I think much of it can be attributed to the amount of polish and detail that went into the show. Every little bit of extra effort that was put in by KyoAni really made a huge difference in the end. I also enjoyed the feeling of “realness” that Hyouka provided. No over the top gimmicks, no excessive fan service. Just natural, honest interaction between characters, and situations that I could actually picture happening in real life.
clazy: The brilliant visuals were enough to distract me from the fact that they are just Scooby-Dooing around their school, haha. But in all seriousness, this is the epitome of animation visual quality. The “mysteries” were so mundane, and yet I somehow really got into this show: Chitanda’s old fashion-ness and Oreki’s Kyon-style internal dialogue stood out in my mind. The culture festival arc was epic, the last episode was amazing, and Hyouka was just a nice, wholesome anime. Oh, and Oreki’s trading reminded me of the Biggoron Sword process in Zelda and that one guy who turned his paperclip into a house.
2. Ano Natsu de Matteru
clazy: A fantastic “summer” love comedy that built itself on its lighthearted humor and the drama of love relationships within a circle of friends and two sexy aliens. The ending chase scene with the Men in Black/Aliens was really memorable since everything was resolved in one way or another between all the characters and gave a good sense of closure. This is just one of those anime stories that you put away for a while and come back to watch every so often to brighten your day, well for me anyway.
exo: Ano Natsu was the surprise of the year for me. I hadn’t even started to watch it until the season was already over, and even when I did, it was only out of boredom. However, four hours later, I realized that I had gone through the entire series in a single day.
Ano Natsu is one of those honest, wholesome shows that are literally impossible to hate. The series itself is done exceptionally well, and the relationships between the characters are unexpectedly dynamic and complex. The deep connections between characters and the ever-changing nature of the heart, allows Ano Natsu to effortlessly spawn new drama, single-handedly pushing the plot forward for the majority of the series. However, What separates Ano Natsu from other similar shows most is the fact that the main heroine, Ichika is an alien. This somewhat silly trait of Ichika’s eventually grows into the main conflict as both Kaito and herself fight against the interests of the alien Federation in order to remain together.
exo: Finally, at number one we have Nisemonogatari, the sequel to SHAFT and NisiOisiN’s Bakemonogatari. While the second season is in many ways inferior to the first, it still manages to bring a lot to the table in the form of a formal introduction of Araragi’s two sisters, and his partner in crime, Shinobu.
Nise didn’t stray far from the first season’s formula. This time focusing on the supernatural occurrences between Karen and Tsukihi. As usual, the show was extremely dialogue intense, but all in all a little easier to grasp when compared to Bakemonogatari. Now, I fully recognize that this show is far from accessible to much of the anime viewership because of its non-linear, and convoluted plot, strange artistic style, and its cryptic dialogue. But to me and I’m sure many others, this is what makes the show so great. Nise’s unprecedented uniqueness makes it unpredictable, and fresh. It gives me a feeling of excitement when I begin a new episode not knowing if I’m going to be thrown into the middle of an epic fight, or if I’ll be treated to an intimate moment of teeth brushing between siblings.
All in all, Nisemonogatari is definitely without a doubt, my favorite anime of 2012, and I can’t wait for the next season. :]
clazy: I tried to brush my sister’s teeth after watching this; it didn’t turn out quite the same. I would have to say that overall, Bakemono was a lot better than Nisemono; but from a purely comedic standpoint, Nisemono wins out. Arararagi was absolutely hilarious with his tormenting of the girls we all came to know and love in Bakemono. And seriously, Hachikuji will be the only reason I ever become a lolicon. Kizumono and the next season will be great, I just know it.
And that’s it for AT’s Top 5 anime for 2012. What are your Top 5?
-exo & clazy