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
Pokemon Best Wishes!
Shakugan no Shana III
–finished airing from the winter ’12 season
Black Rock Shooter
Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki
–finished airing from the spring ’12 season
Arashi no Yoru ni
Fate/Zero second season
Sakamichi no Apollon
–finished airing from the summer ’12 season
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimaimashita
Sword Art Online
–finished airing from the fall ’12 season
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
Madoka Magica Movie 1: Beginnings/Movie 2: Eternal
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.