[INCOMPLETE] 「Visual Collection/Special Review」 A Year of Anime (2012)

And so, another year of anime has passed. Every year, it seems like the industry is prospering to new levels, and I am happy to say that alongside it, so does my involvement in it. Looking in retrospect, I can honestly say that I am astounded at how much the anime industry has changed. This year we’ve seen adaptations of manga (the general norm), light novels (Sword Art Online, Mouretsu Pirates), novels (Shin Sekai Yori, Another, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita), visual novels (Robotics;Notes, Little Busters!), games (Ixion Saga GT, Muv-luv Alternative: Total Eclipse) mascots (Line Offline Salaryman), and multi-media franchises (Black★Rock Shooter, Busou Shinki).Additionally so, well-anticipated sequels (Eureka Seven AO, Gintama) and original adaptations (Rinne no Lagrange, Kyousogiga, K) have graced the year and proved to still be just as enthralling. Personally I would like to say that I have matched this flourishing activity with that of my own. This year I have managed to watch _ anime series and finish _ of them. This is a remarkably consistent increase considering the (37|13) the year before and the (28|9) the year before that. Regrettably, I had not the platform to legitimately blog series for the majority of this year (and previous years in entirety). To make up for that unavailibility, this post will serve as a very extensive retrospection, including thoughts and reactions I will do my best to recollect for respective premieres, highlight episodes, endings, and series in general. Of course they will all be assimilated into reviews primarily focusing on the “best anime of 2012” motif. The first half of this post will consist of specific awards concerning genre and other notable aspects while the second half will consist of the annual top series. So, without further ado,
Best Studio – Madhouse
I’m still surprised myself how Madhouse has taken this accolade from studio Ufotable,
Honorable Mention(s): Ufotable
A-1 Pictures, J.C. Staff
Best (Ongoing) Shonen Series – Hunter x Hunter
Throughout the 2012 year, the 2011 anime adaptation of Hunter x Hunter accumulated to four arcs, the Hunter Exam arc (mid-way), the Zoldyck Family arc, the Heavens Arena arc, and the Yorknew City arc (I like to call it the Phantom Troupe arc more). Heavens Arena and Yorknew City were the two that lasted throughout the year more dominantly, spanning around 3 months and 4 months, respectively. For me, this pair was a presentation nothing short of perfect. While Heavens Arena portrayed and stayed true to the beloved characteristics of shonen series, Yorknew City offered insight at mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi’s brilliant writing. The events unfolded in the Yorknew City were of such spectacular story-telling that they transcended the pedigree of the shonen genre and re-affirmed Hunter x Hunter’s unyielding position as a legendary series even in contention to today’s contemporary and bold shonen series.
Contention: One Piece, Toriko, Naruto, Fairy Tail, Medaka Box, Magi, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Honorable Mention(s): One Piece, Medaka Box, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Additional Comment(s): I hate to do callouts of this sort, but I feel a need, maybe even an obligation as a fan, to express this disappointment. If there was a title opposite to Favorite Ongoing Series, it would indubitably go to Naruto. After airing its debatably best episodes in a very long time (the Minato and Kushina mini-arc) the anime adaptation was right at the onset of the (again debatably) most important arc, the Fourth Shinobi World War. Naruto’s situation this year was quite similar to that of One Piece’s. The first episode of One Piece that aired in 2012 was one well into the greatly-anticipated Fishman Island arc, an arc that was not only foreshadowed and hyped numerous arcs (and hundreds of episodes) beforehand but also followed the dramatic time-skip of the series and thrilling reunion of the main cast. Needless to say it had many expectations set and many expectations to fulfill. Naruto in a sense was in an even more momentous position as the Fourth Shinobi World War arc is widely considered the last legitimate arc of the series, making it necessary to be one of if not the best. And in that essence, the anime adaptation failed terribly. Naruto episodes of the 2012 year have presented some of the worst animation consistency in the series. Additionally, the greatest injustice of the Naruto anime adaptation, its fillers, showed its face once more and proved its ability to ruin canon material just as easily. Lastly, for the material adapted that was canon, the presentation was nothing more than decent in aspects of animation quality and beyond.
*Emphasis on series that have an ongoing manga counterpart
Best Romantic Pairing – Kurokami Medaka and Hitoyoshi Zenkichi (Medaka Box)
When addressing love, in terms of anime this year especially, I believe its important to look, and feel, beyond the mutual connections people have through their interests, personalities, aspirations, and the like. In terms of love, there’s going to be more needed than just that sharing of dreams that cannot yet transcend friends, or maybe more appropriately termed here as “nakama”, into lovers. Because believe me, this happened in a lot this year. And of course, that’s unsurprising, the bonds of friendship is an element perhaps portrayed in every story, not to say that the bond of love isn’t any more prominent. Because it is. And it did indeed happen plenty this year too. But in my opinion, there was one portrayal that takes the cake, the relationship between Kurokami Medaka and Hitoyoshi Zenkichi. (Hey, let’s make it a wedding cake because damn, they’re so great together!) In actuality, there was rarely any screen time dedicated to their relationship in terms of romance, but the subtle of so contributed to its genuine depiction. Conversely to what most romantic dramas and comedies do, Medaka Box consistently shone bits and quirks of affection between the two. Humorous talks about expressing love to people in public, seeing the other partially nude, pledges of allegiance under the pretense of friendship, and mutual smiles of camaraderie mainly in the first season developed into one seemingly dying for the other, one outright sobbing for the other, and a phenomenal flashback intertwining the very characters of both together, connecting them since early childhood. The flashback in which it’s revealed that the very essence of Medaka’s unique personality originated from something an adolescent Zenkichi said to her in pure childish amusement stirred an emotional fanfare inside me, so much so, that I immediately reacted by making a follow-up blog post ogling at how cute they were together.
Honorable Mention(s):
Diarmuid O’Dyna and Arturia Pendragon (Fate/Zero)
Surprisingly, in the confines of Urobuchi Gen’s bleak and merciless story-writing, I am still able to find glimmers of hopefulness, one of such being romance. I dare to say that as it is portrayed in Fate/stay Night, Shiro and Saber’s love for each other is superficial, completely lacking in any sort of genuine romance. And while Lancer and Saber’s relationship as portrayed in Fate/Zero isn’t perfect, (evidently so, considering they are aiming to kill each other) there’s more than just a spark forming from the collision of their weapons. Urobuchi builds a bridge of sympathy between the two characters, mostly presiding on their shared views of chivalry. Admittedly, even with the genius of Urobuchi’s scribing, the relationship between the two isn’t something I would be sending them through the tunnel of love together for, but there are those little moments all throughout that seem a bit short of magical yet still endearing. And when we add in the Holy Grail of their interactions, Lancer words of “I am glad to have met you!” there’s just something to be championed there. Even beyond wishing Lancer had not been betrayed by his master and brutally assassinated, there’s a wish for the two of them that wants them to get a proper opportunity to become friends, if not romantics. (Saber’s anti-magic passive being a counter to Lancer’s mole and quite possibly making her the only match for him can be a bonus too.)
Arsène Lupin III and Mine Fujiko (Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna)
This romantic affair has a hearty emphasis on co-dependency. Personally, it’s the conceptual symmetry that really gets me on board this ship here. On Lupin’s ship, everything’s onboard. He’s the most triumphant thief capable of stealing the rarest of treasures and valuables. But perhaps the only thing he is incapable of stealing is not another thief herself, but her heart. He states in episode one, something along the lines of, “Mine Fujiko. This extraordinarily fine woman is the cure to my boredom. The next time we meet, I will…” In different waters, the woman known as Mine Fujiko struggles with a severe case of identity and dabbles in frequent self-objectification to manipulate men. Whether Lupin, a man well-aware of the way Mine Fujiko views the male gender and the debatable truth in her views, can be her savior is an issue up in the air. While Goemon Ishikawa XIII shows just as much capability in healing Fujiko from her detestable past and while I approve of his character just as much as Lupin’s, there’s just something about Lupin’s attempts to charm the femme fatale known as Mine Fujiko. Perhaps it’s his only pursuit that makes him seem like a hearty human being. His quirky undertakings in wooing Fujiko, such as writing “I will steal Mine Fujiko!” on her left thigh, are distinctive to his plundering liveliness, yet still romantic in a way.
Fukai Ao and Fleur Blanc (Eureka Seven AO), Sagara Yoshiharu and Oda Nobuna (Oda Nobuna no Yabou)
For both of these pairings that consist of relatively young characters, it was clear that the pairings had shared sentiments as well as shared experiences that boosted their relationships with each other. In terms of a romance beyond that, I think it was more of just a personal preference that they accepted feelings for the each other, whether it was simply youthful infatuation or not, and decided together what would ensue.
Top 10 Anime of 2012

Nisemonogatari – As of late and as always in the anime industry, it’s rare to see a non-shonen series span a length in episodes any longer than twenty-five episodes. This year we’ve had a Shirokuma Cafe casually defy this rule, but even more inconspicuously is the long-running Monogatari series which has side-winded its way into an ongoing airtime through multiple seasons, and coincidentally, multiple titles. Nisemonogatari continued the story left expansive by its predecessor of 2009, Bakemonogatari, and it once again proves the synergy between novelist Nisio Ishin’s literary panache and studio SHAFT’s aptitude in adapting something of such style and adding an elegant flair even more so. What can be said of Nisemonogatari can be said for the Monogatari series as a whole, and I don’t find a problem with that at all from a viewer’s or reviewer’s standpoint. There’s no flamboyance that sets it a part from Bakemonogatari because it continues to execute the greatness that the series is as a whole. Monogatari is the series. And each individually titled season are the arcs. I prefer to review the Monogatari series as a whole, and when it finishes airing completely, I look forward to officially adding it in my list of all time favorite anime series by reviewing it as so. For now, I will try to assess the Nisemonogatari chapter distinctively. This part of the story is centric on the Fire Sisters, Karen and Tsukihi Araragi, unsurprisingly, sisters of protagonist Koyomi Araragi. Accordingly, most content is focused on these three siblings and the sisters’ respective abnormalities, but there is screen-time allocated to the cast of the previous season (Hitagi Senjougahara, Mayoi Hachikuji, etc.) And these characters undoubtedly shine during their limited appearances. Hachikuji herself deserves a nomination for best moment because of her heart-warming conversation with Araragi at the end of the premiere episode. Beyond this, our new characters prove to be just as interesting as our familiarized cast through, unsurprisingly, unique appearances, personalities, actions, and quirks. (So unsurprisingly.) Karen, in fact, has become one of my favorite female character in the series. So at this point, really, it all boils down to relativity. While our genius behind the pen is still scripting his best elements of rising action (There always seems to be a fight of high-level gore, insanity, and action in every arc, and this season’s Araragi vs. Karen was no letdown. More so, it’s often claimed that it’s not the actual fight that is the most intense element, but the build-up and tension that leads into what would better be called a face-off, the settlement of conflicts. The point reached after conversation and/or any other human-invented means could not resolve. The point where both parties have deteriorated to human instinctual nature, and that nature tells them to fight.)  , plot reflection (Simply put, as the protagonist, Araragi is exceptional at reflecting on the events that have happened to him. Granted, much profundity is due to Oshino, but on the retrospective essence of the matter, Araragi never fails to conclude the importance of his friends’ happenings and what they meant to hin.), and the like; there doesn’t seem to be  a balance to really intertwine the best moments. The greatest example of this, I would have to say, is the apportionment between the sisters, in that Karen had much more plot-relativity, character, and character development whilst Tsukihi essentially demonstrated her assorted personality (therein establishing the connection between her fake personalities and her fake abnormality) and quickly seceded the limelight to Araragi so he could save her (Which is kind of ironic, since the titled Nisemonogatari is more of a indicator of the sister with less attention). All in all, a marvelous delivery that just barely ranks below its forerunner, but lands it the well-deserving spot of number ___ for this year.
Hunter x Hunter – In the world of anime, what I consider one of the greatest injustices is the absence of anime adaptations of long-running and ongoing shonen series; and even more so, incomplete anime adaptations of said series. And yes, there are a damn fine number of these victims that the light needs to shine upon. Soul Eater, D.Gray-man, Air Gear, Claymore, Ao no Exorcist. All of these are series that have at one time had an anime adaptation and fully deserve to have a complete one. There are also some that have shown dwindling popularity such as Hitman Reborn! and Bleach. And then there are thers I don’t necessarily have a formed opinion on but regardless are present. Hajime no Ippo, Berserk, Deadman Wonderland, Beelzebub, History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi, Gantz. All of these series too have at one point had an anime adaptation. Lastly, we have the series that continue to thrive as manga and anime alike, One Piece being the most prominent. Adapting an ongoing manga series is a risky endeavor, quite evident from the exhibits aforementioned. But even in this uncertain procedure dependent on sales and popularity, we sometimes have daring and bold heroes arrive. Studio Bones executed the greatest counter to this approach when it re-adapted the Fullmetal Alchemist series, fully and faithfully the second time around. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood found its way into my favorite anime series of all time, quite close to its predecessor, the original anime adaptation of the series. And so, it is in my opinion that the 2011 anime adaptation of Hunter x Hunter is the spiritual successor to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in its exemplary title as a re-adaptation done righteously.

Fate/zero is the indisputable forerunner of this year. Though the series did quite the job at tearing into my moral conscience and overwhelmed my emotional intelligence, I have no qualms about deeming it the position of number one anime series of 2012 and a commendable position in my list of favorite anime series of all time.

2011 into 2012
Guilty Crown | ギルティクラウン (Completed)
Mirai Nikki | 未来日記 (Completed)
Persona 4: The Animation | ペルソナ4 (Completed)
Winter
High School DxD | ハイスクールD×D (Dropped)
Senki Zesshou Symphogear | 戦姫絶唱シンフォギア (Dropped)
Nisemonogatari | 偽物語 (Completed)
Mouretsu Pirates | モーレツ宇宙海賊 (Dropped)
BRAVE10 (Dropped)
Rinne no Lagrange | 輪廻のラグランジェ (Completed)
Ano Natsu de Matteru | あの夏で待ってる (Completed)
Another (Completed)
Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou | 男子高校生の日常 (Dropped)
Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai! | パパのいうことを聞きなさい! (Completed)
Thermae Romae | テルマエ・ロマエ (Dropped)
Inu x Boku SS | 妖狐×僕SS (Dropped)
Black★Rock Shooter | ブラック★ロックシューター (Dropped)
Spring
Saint Seiya Omega | 聖闘士星矢Ω (Dropped)
Uchuu Kyoudai | 宇宙兄弟 (Dropped)
ZETMAN (Dropped)
Medaka Box | めだかボックス (Completed)
Shirokuma Cafe | しろくまカフェ (Dropped)
Sengoku Collection | 戦国コレクション (Dropped)
Sankarea | さんかれあ (Dropped)
Acchi Kocchi | あっちこっち (Dropped)
Natsuiro Kiseki | 夏色キセキ (Dropped)
Accel World | アクセル・ワールド (Dropped)
Fate/Zero | フェイト/ゼロ (Completed)
Nazo no Kanojo X | 謎の彼女X (Dropped)
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia | 黄昏乙女xアムネジア (Dropped)
Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna | LUPIN the Third ~峰不二子という女~ (Completed)
Sakamichi no Apollon | 坂道のアポロン (Dropped)
Tsuritama | つり球 (Completed)
Eureka Seven Astral Ocean | エウレカセブンAO (Completed)
Hyouka | 氷菓 (Completed)
Summer
TARI TARI (Completed)
La storia della Arcana Famiglia | アルカナ・ファミリア (Completed)
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita | 人類は衰退しました (Completed)
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse | トータル・イクリプス (Dropped)
Yuruyuri ♪♪ | ゆるゆり♪♪ (Completed)
Binbougami ga! | 貧乏神が! (Completed)
Natsuyuki Rendezvous | 夏雪ランデブー (Completed)
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate | 恋と選挙とチョコレート (Dropped)
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! | この中に1人、妹がいる! (Dropped)
Joshiraku | じょしらく (Completed)
Hagure Yuusha no Estetica | はぐれ勇者の鬼畜美学 (Dropped)
Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai. | だから僕は、Hができない。 (Dropped)
Campione! | カンピオーネ! (Dropped)
Sword Art Online | ソードアート・オンライン (Completed)
Kokoro Connect | ココロコネクト (Completed)
Oda Nobuna no Yabou | 織田信奈の野望 (Completed)
Ebiten: Kouritsu Ebisugawa Koukou Tenmonbu | えびてん 公立海老栖川高校天悶部 (Dropped)
Fall
Kyousogiga | 京騒戯画 (Completed)
Shin Sekai Yori | 新世界より (Watching)
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! | 中二病でも恋がしたい! (Completed)
BTOOOM! (Dropped)
K (Completed)
Zetsuen no Tempest | 絶園のテンペスト (Watching)
JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure the Animation | ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 (Watching)
CODE:BREAKER | コード:ブレイカー (Dropped)
Little Busters! | リトルバスターズ! (Watching)
Magi | マギ (Watching)
Girls und Panzer | ガールズ&パンツァー (Dropped)
PSYCHO-PASS | サイコパス (Watching)
ROBOTICS;NOTES (Watching)

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