My 5 favorite anime of 2012

A little late this year but I couldn’t miss out on every anime blogger’s obligatory post of picking their favorite anime of the year. Since 2008 I’ve been picking 5 favorite anime from that year, except for last year where opted to participate in the AniBloggers Choice Awards and picked 12 favorites of the year. This year however I decided to go back to my previous tradition of only picking 5 favorites…

As usual, below is a list of all the eligible anime I watched this year. My main rule for the picks is that the anime must have finished airing in 2012 regardless of when it began. So a currently airing 2012 series like Little Busters! doesn’t count, while Mirai Nikki, which started airing in 2011 but finished in 2012, does count.

-finished airing from 2011 or before
Bakuman 2
Bleach
Guilty Crown
Mirai Nikki
Pokemon Best Wishes!
Shakugan no Shana III

-finished airing from the winter ’12 season
Another
Black Rock Shooter
Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Mouretsu Pirates
Nisemonogatari
Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki

-finished airing from the spring ’12 season
Acchi Kocchi
Arashi no Yoru ni
Fate/Zero second season
Hyouka
Natsuiro Kiseki
Sakamichi no Apollon
Sankarea

-finished airing from the summer ’12 season
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimaimashita
Kokoro Connect
Natsuyuki Rendezvous
Sword Art Online
Tari Tari

-finished airing from the fall ’12 season
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
K
Madoka Magica Movie 1: Beginnings/Movie 2: Eternal
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

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The one thing I decided to change this year as opposed to my 2008-2010 lists is that my five picks are in order this time, with #1 being my favorite anime of the year. Also, since I reviewed most of these anime on the blog already, I’ll keep my discussions about them to a minimum and provide a link to my review.


5. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Like I said in my recent review of this series, though it had a bit of a slow start I very much enjoyed the dramatic, romantic turn the show took in its latter half and got quite a few good chuckles in its humorous beginning episodes too. The animations was fantastic, the characters were delightfully quirky, and the story was very sweet and emotional without going too overboard in my opinion.

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4. Acchi Kocchi

One of the most adorable anime I’ve seen in a long time, I got a ton of good laughs from this show as well as plenty of “awww” moments. I loved the stylistic animation of using bouncy arrows and bubbly on-screen text – it really enhanced the funny+cute mix of the show. Like other slice-of-life anime that revolve around cute characters doing cute things, Acchi Kocchi is not for everyone, but if you’d like a kawaii-filled blend of Lucky Star, Azumanga Daioh, and Hidamari Sketch, this is a great pick ;) My review of the series can be found here.

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3. Bakuman 2

Bakuman is currently in its third season and I personally can’t get enough of it. It manages to create a great story with engaging characters all centered around the seemingly tedious theme of making manga. It’s easy to get pulled into the suspense and complexities of the manga world as the characters have to compete and see if their creations will be successful, while also dealing with some personal relationships between each other as well. And Bakuman’s second season had some fantastic character interactions, especially between Aoki and Nakai, Ashirogi Mutou and their new editor Miura, and our main couple Mashiro and Azuki. It’s just a very well written show with a unique theme and likable characters. I hope the currently airing third season continues to deliver =D

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2. Shakugan no Shana III

Shana’s second season made it onto my top five of 2008, but the third and final season was many times better. It had a lot of character growth, especially for Shana, Margery, Wilhelmina, and Yuuji of course, together with a large-scale fantasy war that was surprisingly filled with political tactics despite its magic-rich nature, with the bond between Shana and Yuuji at the center. All this lead to a series that constantly felt large and epic, and one that I looked forward to every week. While it wasn’t perfect and like the other Shana series, it suffered from a bit of an overdose of magical jargon and needlessly complicated subplots, it had much more good in it than bad, and the good stuff was really good…which is enough to give it the #2 spot on my list. My review can be found here.

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1. Madoka Magica Movie 1: Beginnings/Movie 2: Eternal

While anime movies haven’t been excluded from my list of favorites for the year, I feel like I’m cheating a bit by picking both Madoka movies for the #1 spot. But they were aired as a double feature in all of their showings I believe, so it seems natural to count them as one. The Madoka TV series got #1 on my list last year without a doubt, so it’s no wonder that these movies, which are basically the same as the TV series with a few new twists, should get #1 this year. It was amazing watching the entire Madoka saga again through the movies with new footage and new music. It’s a different experience than watching the episodes, and while I do prefer the episodes, reliving this incredible story that has rocked the anime world for the past two years was a fantastic experience worthy of a #1 on my list. My post about seeing the movies in LA can be found here.

—–

Runner-ups:
The following two series were ones I was considering for the list but they didn’t quite make the cut.

Kokoro Connect: One of the few series I never got around to reviewing on the blog so I’ll say a few words about it here. Kokoro Connect seems to be another polarizing series that people either love or strongly dislike. I for one enjoyed it very much while it was airing. What made it stand out to me was how humanly flawed and multi-dimensional the characters are. While they may appear to have some archetypical anime traits, throughout the series we see them go through phases of happiness, sadness, anger, bewilderment, and all manner of emotions – they’re all revealed to have a “dark” side and a “light” side which I thought was great. This chaos to their personalities is probably what draws people to either love the show or hate it. Another thing I liked about the series was the interesting “phenomena” that HeartSeed would bring down on them and the unique forms it would take. I was always in suspense about how the phenomena would force them to act and what would be revealed. But unfortunately the ending failed to deliver in terms of giving any kind of explanation for what HeartSeed was and what his motives were. I think some sort of backstory for HeartSeed was in order even if it was vague. I also thought that Iori’s mental breakdown carried on longer than it should have in the final four episodes. So while Kokoro Connect was a strong contender for my top 5, the loose ends of its finale and a few other issues I had with it held it back.

Sakamichi no Apollon: One of the most universally appealing and Western-pleasing anime of the year, Sakamichi no Apollon has great music and animation with a fairly solid story and cast of characters. While I thought a lot of it was brilliant, not all of its emotional scenes hit their mark with me. And it was also the only one on this list that I watched a second time during the year and it lost some its wow-factor there too. So again, a great show but didn’t quite resonate with me as much as the ones I picked.

26 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Kal says:

    Good choices :) Chuunibyou was simple awesome, Acchi Kocchi was really sweet and very constant. I have to keep watching Bakuman, did not finish season 2, but I did like what I saw. Shana had a pretty grand and epic ending for the series, which fits it fine, and I have not seen the Madoka movies, but I also loved the anime so sounds like a logical choice.

    Must have been hard to chose, I remember you liking Fate/Zero quite a bit. I quite liked Kokoron Connect as well, the setting was pretty unique, and the situations quite intriguing. Makes you think quite a bit around those situations…

    It was a great year for anime over all. Quite a number of good shows. Let’s hope next year is even better :)

    • Yumeka says:

      I did like Fate/Zero’s second season, but not quite enough to put it amongst my top 5. Top 10 maybe =P

      Compared to last year there weren’t as many anime I was impressed with…quite a few that disappointed me actually. But there were still some good ones, like always ;D

  2. Liked the list. Wasn’t expecting Chuunibyou demo, but I was probably thinking of myself and how outlandish I thought the first few episodes were. Shana III was also fine, yet somehow I still feel disappointed on how it turned out after waiting so long for the release. Still doesn’t change how much I love the series though.

    • Yumeka says:

      I’m not a huge Shana fan (though Shana herself is one of my favorite anime characters) and I didn’t like everything about the final season…but it was still darn good. Like you, I thought the ending could have used improvements though.

  3. Cirris says:

    For me, it was the year of the strange girl/normal guy romances. And there were plenty of good ones.

    5) Binbougami ga – Girl with an overabundance of “luck” is targeted by the gods of misfortune to rid her of her excessive lucky streak. A pure slapstick parody comedy with loads of laughs and anime references. But deep down the story does have a deeper tone of the girl who starts off as a prissy narcissist growing as a person and learning to care about others.

    4) Nazo no Kanojo X – This one was a darkhorse series. The strange premise of a saliva swapping romance put many people off. While the act of sharing spit seemed rather gross, the story was pretty damn good. Essentially the supernatural of it was that saliva swapping transferred feelings from one person to another. The more intense the feeling the more intense the reaction. While the progression of the physical romance doesn’t go far. The emotional level for effection towards each other does move along nicely. While far from a perfect series, I feel the interesting premise and intriguing story made this a top 5 for me.

    3) Kokoro Connect – 5 flawed individuals thrust together by a strange entity who preforms social experiments on them to see what makes them tick. It forces them to confront their flaws and fears. The trials and tribulations brings them all closer together. While the drama did seem occasionally excessive, overall i enjoyed the story and the characters immensely.

    2) Ano Natsu De Matteru. – Strange alien girl drawn to Earth by a dream runs into a guy who is into cinematography. They eventually befriend each other and make a movie with a group of friends. This story is real teenage love drama. The characters love is so intense that makes you incredibly happy when love blossoms. And it’s hard to watch when things don’t go well. Without giving anything more away I’ll just say that it’s just a great story with loads of romance and drama.

    1) Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – Kyoto Animation always knows how to tell a great story with loads of cuteness. The development of the characters and their personalities early on was quite amusing to see. But it eventually sets up the characters to grow. Each one evolves as they begin to understand themselves and each other. As the story progresses it shifts from pure comedy to more of a romance and drama. While some people were put off by this, I felt the opposite. The story evolved just like the characters did themselves. It turned into a great romance.

    SAO would have been top 5 if they just stuck with the original arc and expanded it instead of rushing it and giving us a lackluster ALO arc. I give it honorable mention cause i really did enjoy the first season a lot.

    • Yumeka says:

      Nice to know someone else who wasn’t put off by the shift from comedy to drama in Chuunibyou =) Also agree on your thoughts about Kokoro Connect. I haven’t seen the other series you mentioned (besides SAO) but I heard good things about Nazo no Kanojo X.

  4. CoolCARTGuy says:

    Nice list; still trying to get the Madoka movies, though. Some day…

    I was surprised by how much I liked Chuunibyou; the characters grew on me toward the middle of the show and eventually it became one of my favorites this year.

    I haven’t seen Kokoro Connect or Kaibutsu-kun, but I am certainly planning on looking at both this year during a season where I have a light load; the upcoming Winter ’13 season looks rather barren, so I might start watching sometime soon.

    Fate/Zero certainly won my heart; not only was it full of stunning action and an intriguing plot, but also a major catalyst for me becoming a Type-Moon fan. This show is certainly my favorite of 2012, bar none. Dusk Maiden of Amnesia would have to be second, followed by Mysterious Girlfriend X; both were novel romantic comedies that held my interest more than most romantic comedies.

    Some of the shows that are still airing are pretty good; I’m looking forward to the rest of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo as well as the final two episodes of Girls und Panzer, which would’ve easily been second or third on my personal top five had it not been for production delays pushing the last two episodes back to March 2013. The latter has one hell of a cliffhanger in the meantime, though.

    If you have any spare time, I would recommend taking a look at Girls und Panzer; now is as good a time as ever since the last couple of episodes have been delayed and I guarantee that the orientation film on tank fighting and how it extolls feminine virtues is pretty funny.

    • Yumeka says:

      If you like slice-of-life romance comedies and dramas, then Kokoro Connect and Kaibutsu-kun should be good picks for you.

      Like I said to Kal in the first comment, I liked Fate/Zero’s second season but it wouldn’t quite make it to a top 5 for me.

      I’ll keep Girls und Panzer in mind…I’ve heard good things about it.

  5. Cytrus says:

    All good picks.

    I liked the romance in Chuunibyou, the drama not so much.

    I put Acchi Kocchi on hiatus when life caught up to me, but I should probably finish it one day. Did you get your hands on the OP/ED singles? Tsuneko no Waltz is something else. => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LoeTOIoUR0

    Bakuman anime-ban I gave up on relatively quickly. The manga is quite good but the anime does exactly the same things, so just reading/watching one of them is enough.

    Shana III I loved. The execution was only alright at times, but the depth and ambition of the source material shone clearly through. Shana herself grew up to be quite the complex character – too bad later Kugidere clones sometimes failed to live up to the standard. I am surprised season two was top-five material for you, though. I remember it had a very strong finish but a lackluster beginning – I hear most of that was anime-original filler. How about season one – was it any good? I’d like to watch it to learn more about the Spiral Organ and Misaki-tuning incident that played a large part in the third season, but I’m a bit afraid of spoiling the good impression of the series I now have.

    As for your #1, giving the top spot two years in a row to what is basically the same content seems like cheating, even if it’s /the/ Madoka… is what I would like to say, but I remember that watching your anime in a cinema makes for a completely different experience, so reliving Madoka like that had to be fun :P.

    • Yumeka says:

      I rarely buy CDs anymore so that’s a negative on getting the OP/ED singles…but I listened to that video you linked and Tsuneko no Waltz is very catchy :3

      Glad to know that the Bakuman anime is following the manga closely. Since I rarely read manga I’m often curious about that.

      So you watched Shana III without seeing the previous two seasons? Or have you read the novels instead? If not then you must have been very confused =P But yeah, I agree that Shana goes through great character development that most other tsunderes fail to emulate. As for putting Shana II on my top 5 for 2008, I honestly don’t remember much about season 2 now other than it being less action-oriented and most people not liking it. I guess I must I have liked it if I put it on my top for the year…I wonder if I watched it again now if my opinion would change =P And I’ve actually watched season 1 twice and I think it’s good =)

      Yeah, maybe the Madoka movies as #1 was cheating, but like you said, I’m basically counting the whole experience of seeing it (like I did for my 12 moments of the year) and that’s definitely quite higher than Shana III, which would have been #1 if I didn’t count the Madoka movies. The movies did come out this year and I did see them, so having them listed as anime I’ve seen and not putting them on the top 5 just didn’t feel right XD

      • Cytrus says:

        I’ve seen the second season and the movie, so I’m probably only missing 18~ episodes worth of content. But I’m the kind of guy who watches Horizon raw and Saki in reverse… so I think I’m good at catching on despite scarce information ;).

  6. lostty says:

    Wow, I’ve only seen 2 out of five from you list! Mainly because I’ve never got around to Bakuman, Shagukan no shana just didn’t manage to interest me, and I wasn’t lucky enough to see the Madoka movies…

    Acchi Kocchi was one of the most underrated anime series of the year! It’s nice to see you’re giving it some love. It was a great slice of life, and in contrast to most, had some romance aspects added to it.

    • Yumeka says:

      Well, if you’ve seen the Madoka TV series then you’ve basically seen the movies minus a few small changes XD

      Also agree that Acchi Kocchi was underrated and different from the usual moe slice-of-life comedies because it actually had some male characters and romance…wasn’t just “cute girls doing cute things” =P

  7. Kai says:

    KyoAni totally stuck gold this year with Hyouka and Chuunibyou, both extremely good anime^^ Kokoro Connect is either a hit-or-miss for a lot of people, I liked the previous episodes, but the recent Michi Random episodes, while good, doesn’t seem to connect much to the previous episodes. I think they take a literally too long time to execute the theme of Iori having “different fake expressions”, if I remembered right, they introduced that idea way back in the beginning episodes.

    Looking forward to watching Madoka Magica Movie.. once it begun emerging around the net, lol.

    • Yumeka says:

      I didn’t like Hyouka as much as others but I do agree it was a well written series, and as always, you can see the effort KyoAni put into it.

      I agree that the last four episodes of Kokoro Connect weren’t as good as the others, and that’s sort of what made it a runner-up for me rather than being in the top 5. I totally agree that Iori’s problem was introduced early on in the show only to suddenly become a focal point in the last four episodes and drag on for so long. And was I the only one who was annoyed by the fact that, in the final episode, they didn’t call the police when they found where the kidnappers took Inaba even though Taichi said they would? ~_^ That was a big “what the heck?” moment for me, LOL.

  8. Artemis says:

    I didn’t watch a single one of these five titles. *fails* I’m using moving countries as an excuse. I managed to get a few full shows in though – in no particular order, my favourite televised anime of the year would probably be Sakamichi no Apollon, Sword Art Online, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, and season 4 of Natsume Yuujinchou season. (I’m also still really liking Magi and Psycho-Pass, but as they’re both still airing, I feel I can’t really give a conclusive rating on them yet.)

    • Yumeka says:

      What country did you move to? That sounds exciting =)

      I haven’t seen Natsume Yuujinchou but I’ve heard only good things about it. It’s on my “plan to watch” list =P

      • Artemis says:

        Japan. I’m based out in the countryside on Shikoku. Not exactly the crowded, dazzling city a lot of people probably think of when they imagine Japan, but it’s a beautiful place to live. :)

        • Yumeka says:

          Oh, nice! Are you on the JET program or something like it? I feel like you told me you would apply for something like that but I don’t quite remember. If I’m ever in Japan again I’ll have to try and met you =D

          • Artemis says:

            Good guess! Yup, I’m on JET – it’s not my first visit to Japan but it’s my first time living here (or in any other country for that matter), so I’m learning a lot! It’s only been 6 months so far, but I’m enjoying it enough that I’ll be re-contracting for a second year and staying on until mid-2014. If you do find yourself in Japan again sometime then you’d be very welcome to visit!

  9. chikorita157 says:

    As said previously, although I did enjoy Chuunibyou, it had a good amount of flaws as it kind of went overboard with the drama, which doesn’t quite fit well for a mostly lighthearted show. Sure, it worked with Key, but they know how to mix comedy and drama so that it doesn’t stick out that much. Of course, the other part being is imperfections from diverging away from the source material. Still, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but it could have been a bit better if it had more episodes to play with.

    I haven’t seen the Madoka movie, so it’s probably be something in the future if I manage to get a copy.

    • Yumeka says:

      Hmm, usually for me the humor and drama mix in Key shows don’t click – I tend to favor the drama, much like I did in Chuunibyou…though in Chuunibyou I also liked the humor while I usually don’t find the humor in Key shows funny. Guess it comes down to personal taste again =P

      Anyway, I hope you like the Madoka movies when you see them!

  10. Adziu says:

    Blahhhhh, still jealous of people who have seen the Madoka film. I could probably track it down now, though…

    I have to say the anime of 2012 (even though it started in 2011) has turned out to be Hunter X Hunter for me!

    • Yumeka says:

      I’m sure you can find a camera rip of the Madoka movies somewhere. I’d wait until a decent quality release (whether official or unofficial) is available though =P

      I haven’t seen Hunter X Hunter but I’ve heard good things about it.

  11. Yuriko says:

    Achhi Kocchi in top five, this is quite rare. Although you’re right Acchi Kocchi is very adorable and I would say it’s the most adorable random-style comedy ever. Five to seven series a season it’s quite good number.

  12. Nopy says:

    I had forgotten that Shana finished airing in 2012. When I was watching the last season I felt very lost because it had been so long since I watched the first and second seasons. I think that may have affected my enjoyment of it.

    Chuunibyou was perhaps the most surprising series for me. I started watching it thinking that it was a little more interesting than most slice-of-life series, but was hit with all this drama and a cute romance. I absolutely loved it.

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