So, Kiddtic over at Kidd’s Anime Blog had a great idea: Get a whole lot of anime bloggers, journalists, and podcasters to each submit a top 12 anime for the year, then tally up the votes for an overall best 12 anime of the year.
He calls it the “Ani-Blogger’s Choice Anime Awards” or “ACAA,” and I’m participating this year!
So, with no further ado, my top 12 anime of 2012…
The beautiful visuals are what reeled me in to Hyouka, but, as I found out, there’s much more than just that going on. Everything had to grow on me, but I’m glad that was the case. The characters (Especially Eru Chitanda) took a few episodes for me to warm up to them, but once they did, I loved them. It made for quite a pleasant anime to watch, but still managed to make me think, with its theme that focused on the differences between those with natural talent and those who have to try hard to reach that level.
11. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
With lovable characters, a vibrant aesthetic, plenty of fanservice, and a story that ebbs and flows between hilarious and heartwarming, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo was a near-instant hit for me. Admittedly, I came for the fanservice-promising premise, but it threw me for a loop and reeled me in with what it had past the fanservice.
10. Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the Cthulu mythos, nor have I read any H.P. Lovecraft, and I originally started watching Nyaruko-san hoping it would fill me in on some of that, since it seemed at least like an interesting subject. Nyaruko-san did not do that. What Nyaruko-san did do, however, was provide the kind of rapid-fire, back-to-back hilarity that I love in comedy anime.
9. Kokoro Connect
What struck me about Kokoro Connect is how real it felt. It was very down-to-earth, even with the supernatural happenings it revolved around. I was learning about the characters as they learned about each other. It was like I was right there with the members of the Student Cultural Society, as they suffered and endured the cruel game they were forced to play.
Once the character designs grew on me, there was no stopping Robotics:Notes. Every episode left me scrambling to start the next, just to find out what was going to happen. A story with a theme of fulfilling dreams, wrapped up in layers upon layers of mystery and intrigue, all set in a technologically-advanced near-future where AR is ubiquitous and mecha are the new cutting-edge. Makes me want to build a giant robot of my own (As if I didn’t already).
While I went into Nyaruko-san expecting one thing, but getting another, I went into Joshiraku expecting one thing, and getting so much of that one thing. Rapid-fire, back-to-back gut-busting hilarity, referential humor, cultural humor, slapstick, visual gags, Joshiraku has it all. It’s the hardest I’d laughed at a comedy anime in a very long time.
6. Moretsu Pirates
There aren’t enough anime about spaceships, which is a shame, because I have a thing for spaceships. Sure, Gundam and Macross have plenty of spaceships in them, but not since Martian Successor Nadesico have I seen such a great spaceship-focused anime. With an interesting futuristic world, interesting, diverse characters, and gripping combat, Moretsu has everything I love about the space opera genre.
5. Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai
I had a great time with Chuu2Koi. Not only is it beautiful visually, it has a premise we can all relate to, and had some very lovable and lively characters. Though some begrudged its transition from comedy to drama in the later parts, I enjoyed the way they handled it, and it was genuinely heartwarming and genuinely heartbreaking at parts. This would have ended up higher on my list, but the last episode was somewhat of a disappointment to me. I feel like it would have been better if it was even one episode longer, just to flesh out the circumstances surrounding the ending.
4. Strike Witches the Movie
2012 was a great year for the whole “moé military” aesthetic. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Strike Witches, and the Strike Witches Movie came highly anticipated for me. Of course, I was a bit dubious as to how they would execute the movie, but after seeing it, I honestly don’t see much they could have done to make this movie better. Structured like a cross between a long episode and a condensed series, the Strike Witches Movie brings in a bunch of extra characters, gives existing characters their much-deserved spotlights, continues with the franchise’s stellar worldbuilding, and manages to do something new with the Neuroi without compromising the mystery and dread that surrounds them. It even ends with the promise for more Strike Witches, and really, you can’t ask for much more than that.
The -Monogatari franchise never ceases to impress, and Nisemonogatari is no exception. It continues with what I liked most about Bakemonogatari, which was the unique, very creative visual style, in not only animation, but in character and background design. There’s a lot to like here, but the visuals really blow me away whenever I watch a -Monogatari anime. I’d say it’s an Akiyuki Shinbo thing, but not even his other works manage to really strike me visually in the same way that the -Monogatari franchise can. While works by the likes of KyoAni never fail to be visually beautiful, Nisemonogatari is not only visually beautiful, it’s visually artistic. You can tell that this is someone’s vision, and I admire the hell outta that.
In keeping with the excellence of “moé military” this year, my number 2 is Upotte!!. Naturally, this anime is right up my alley, but it did pleasantly surprise me in being half slice-of-life, half action. The two halves managed to separate themselves from each other enough to not seem jarring, but both kept with the general idea of the anime, which was to present facts about modern firearms in an amusing and entertaining way, and it did a very good job at all that. Many great times were had by me and my military otaku friends picking out references and launching into discussions about guns from them. Upotte!! is truly infotainment at its finest.
Anime of the year: Girls und Panzer
I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this more than Upotte!!. Despite the delays in its production, and the fact that one such delay will have it ending in March 2013, Girls und Panzer, to me, stands to become the next Strike Witches. Beautifully animated, beautifully built, and, maybe best of all, beautifully paced, Girls und Panzer just did everything so right. With a living world that takes itself just seriously enough, great characters that really shine whenever they’re onscreen, and exciting, compelling action that genuinely managed to get me out of my seat more than once, the only complaint I have is that some of the side characters aren’t seen enough.