Spring 2012 – Season Review

With the conclusion of the Spring anime season comes a period of evaluation and judgment based on everything that was watched.  In the end, a final mark is given that encompasses our thoughts and feelings on the series and is the assessment we return to when looking back at the series.  Though this closure for an anime series may seem shallow compared to the experience we had over the past twelve or so weeks, it does feel like a way to properly finish a series before we fully immerse ourselves in the Summer anime season.  And with that, here is the final review for the Spring 2012 anime season.

The overall lasting impression from this Spring season is that it was highly variable between what everyone loved.  Though it is debatable on what anime were blockbusters, the season remained highly variable between what everyone loved.  And while patterns existed among fans and a general trend can be determined by pooling a number of fans together, there were no clear-cut favorites like previous seasons with Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Steins;Gate, and Ano Hana.  Though Fate/Zero tends to be the most acclaimed anime of the season from my perspective on fan perception and response to this season, it never felt like as distinguished or separated from the rest of anime like the other anime were.  And because I have that in my ‘To Watch’ list (a backlog that continues to be neglected with every passing season), I cannot rank it as high as many feel it deserves.

Beyond that, the Spring season had a number of beautiful and brilliant animation, including a number showcasing retro-style character designs.  Bright, colorful palettes painted our screens this season, though that does not discount the gloomy anime which also presented talented and detailed animation in their respective shows.  Overall, the visual aspect of this season was unmatched.  The anime industry thrives on art and animation (it is its medium), and this one featured some of the best art and animation consistently across a season for as long as I can remember.  In addition, the use of sound, generally that in the form of background music, proved to be excellent, too, making this season somewhat of a sensory overload for our eyes and ears.  The characters were respectable, though nothing truly groundbreaking this season.  The plots were somewhat substandard to what I had hoped or expected but that’s just my opinion on the matter.

Every anime receives a numerical score (between 10-5 as well as a D [delayed/dropped]) and is placed in position according to how they rank against each other from top to bottom, helping differentiate position among anime receiving the same score.  Included are my favorite characters for each series as well as my opinions on the best Art, Characters, Entertainment, Sound, and Story.  Lastly, each anime is paired with its own review which provides my overall thoughts on the anime in addition to explaining my reasoning behind the score and ranking.  And with that, onto the individual reviews.

Sakamichi no Apollon – 9

Favorite Character: Sentarou Kawabuchi

Review – Rightfully earning the top spot for this Spring is Sakamichi no Apollon, an outstanding anime that tackled the highly emotional ups and downs of teenage relationships with the wonderful accompaniment of jazz.  Sakamichi no Apollon featured a fantastic art style that remained detailed throughout, never showing lethargy in style or animation, and clearly detailing the emotions of the characters through their faces and body language.  The characters felt complex through never too complicated to follow, something that allowed these people to make an impact in each other’s’ lives without stealing the show outright themselves.  The use of music, especially that of jazz during concert scenes, became the highlight of the show, being the peak of emotion and a phenomenal representation for how the relationships between the characters were played out.  You often never see music used in this way which is why it has the best Sound of any anime this season despite not being my favorite soundtrack.  I appreciate the anime taking place in a setting outside of modern, urban Tokyo and focusing on an unexplored era and location, but it almost felt underused given its potential.  And while the anime had a few flaws, often being too heavy in the melodrama and a few uncharacteristic moments, the anime was a favorite for the entire season.  It never did anything groundbreaking but it performed excellently in every key area that I look for in an anime.  Without a doubt, Sakamichi no Apollon earns the top spot this season.

Tsuritama – 9

Favorite Character: Unnamed, uncredited tomboyish girl with short, spiky, black hair who sits 2 desks directly behind Yuki at school but like disappeared after episode 3 and never really had any speaking lines but was the cutest girl in the anime (Picture of her [on the right])

Review – This anime displays the triumph of a simple story with a cast of delightful characters on a vivid and colorful palette.  Tsuritama managed to interweave the stories of four young men, each with their own personal challenges and obstacles, around a central theme, bringing everyone together for easily the best Story of the season.  The way Tsuritama incorporated all four men together and focused on each individual character and story without enveloping itself completely in these stories shows how remarkable the storytelling in this anime was.  And each story within this anime was exceptional, too, a collection of simple stories that never became too heavy or complex and felt extremely rewarding and worthwhile when finished.  The art and animation in Tsuritama was rather basic in terms of the character design, but the choice of colors blew me away with the art keeping my eyes glued to the screen.  I tend to prefer an art style where the backgrounds and sceneries outshine the characters themselves, so I felt fortunate in that regard.  And that soundtrack was marvelous; that peppy flute track still sticks with me to this day popping in my head at times that always makes me smile.  In terms of faults, Tsuritama has only a handful with most being personal nitpicks with the series.  One of the most memorable is how simple the challenges were for Yuki to overcome, never seeing him really work at fishing nor overcoming his social phobias.  Like, for a hero, I wanted to see more from him, but that’s what you get with a noitaminA anime with a limited timeslot.  Regardless, Tsuritama was an anime that made me smile throughout and barely, just barely, missed out on earning the top spot this season.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia – 9

Favorite Character: Kirie Kanoe

Review – Tasogare Otome x Amnesia or Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is perhaps the best example of how significant the role of director is for an anime.  While the plot of the anime tells the story of a melancholy romance between a naïve boy and spirited ghost and cast with rather simple character personalities, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia blew me away in how its story unfolded and the visual mastery that accompanied this disheartening tale.  Most anime with similar sounding clichéd romances often leave me unexcited or uninspired because they deal with basic problems between the characters who act immature at all times.  And while Amnesia experimented with melodrama, it never felt overwhelming but remained gloomy and troubled throughout.  And it almost had the perfect ending, too, though some part of me finds gratification in those final scenes.  Additionally, the visual aspect of Tasogare Otome x Amnesia was unparalleled.  Not only was the use of lighting and color in every episode sensational, often creating the mood and heightening the emotion, but the selection of shots gave every scene in the anime a fresh perspective despite never leaving the grounds of a high school.  With each shot were obscure or hidden details that further illustrated the current affairs on the screen, from the shapes of shadows, to the number of props, to the placement of color or light, to even the direction the camera is facing; this is what makes an anime fun to watch.  Anytime an anime fascinates me in how it selects its shots and uses colors and light to express emotions, change things, or make the scenery gorgeous, this anime absolutely deserves to be considered for the best Art of the season and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia earns exactly that.  That being said, there is some room for disappointment in the series, too, especially with how Kirie and Momoe felt underappreciated throughout the series.  There were some issues early on with the romance but those resolved when the anime tackled the issue directly.  I know some people disliked the fanservice but it only bothered me in that it was typical anime clichéd humor which, as I recall, is never funny and never will be.  But even with those errs, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia earns an impressive 9 and will be remembered as one of my favorite anime of the Spring season.

Sengoku Collection – 9

Favorite Character: Gennai Hiraga

Review – Exploding into the upper-echelon of the Spring season is Sengoku Collection, a wonderfully refreshing anime with distinctive and ultimately fun episodes every week.  Unlike most anime which follow a cast of characters around and has a structured plot, Sengoku Collection spends every episode with a different character, learning about their transition and life in modern Japan with only a few common threads connecting the episodes.  Because of this method, every episode remains unpredictable and often special, even though the story or the characters might not be themselves.  This innovative style has captivated me.  Every new episode is thrilling in the fact that you don’t know what you’ll get yet almost every episode remains fascinating, enchanting, or entertaining in some way.  Though it is not the highest ranked anime of the season, it has quickly become my favorite for how enjoyable it is.  Perhaps one of the biggest aspects to this is that the series is lighthearted and easy-going, too, never becoming overly complicated or heavy and often humorous without being over-the-top.  It also helps that virtually every character is a young, cute maiden based loosely off famous Sengoku personalities, something that is a worn-out cliché in anime but not worn-out here since we basically get to meet them only once.  Surprisingly, the regular citizens of Japan are fantastic, too, sometimes outperforming the Sengoku girls themselves.  And given how effective the cast has been throughout, Sengoku Collection earns the distinction of having the best Characters of the season.  The animation feel somewhat substandard, never anything impressive or noteworthy, but the colorful display and use of artistic motifs, along with the varying styles in certain episodes, gives the anime a favorable impression visually.  That and there’s often zero fanservice in each episode or, if present, usually played as a joke without feeling sexualized or dirty.  Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to this series which are a byproduct of this innovative style.  The unpredictability means each episode will ultimately be hit-or-miss based on the characters and their story, so some episodes have been better than others and one was out-right atrocious (*cough* episode 3 *hack*).  Likewise, we only see each character once, so some of the ones we grow attached to over the course of the episode do not reappear, though perhaps we need to wait until the finale for that to happen.  And though that is a complaint, always meeting a new character each week has proven to keep the series original and always moving forward which ultimately outweighs the disappointment in not seeing old favorites.  Fortunately, the anime is continuing into the Summer with its second half, so Sengoku Collection has the opportunity to rise even further as we saw from the start of the season to now.

Jormungand – 8

Favorite Character: Koko Hekmatyar

Review – Jormungand is at a crossroads for me.  While I am definitely enjoying the series, there always appears to be something that prevents me from gaining the same satisfaction or pleasure as I feel with other anime.  Following the adventures of Koko and her team has proven to be amusing, especially when they’re not risking their lives to make another deal.  The characters are fun but they often feel shallow, especially compared to the leading trio of Koko, Jonah, and Valmet, who have all been given multiple episodes to explore and establish themselves.  The art style expresses animation well and plays into the comedy at specific times, so I’ve been content with that.  It hasn’t been anything astounding but it has been solid throughout.  So yeah, sounds like I should be in love with this anime, right?  Well, that’s where the plot comes in which carries the main burden of why I’m not enjoying this anime as much anymore.  Though I find most story arcs to be entertaining, the series feels unfulfilling which has tarnished the series for me somewhat.  I realize the anime is progressing with a plot in mind, but I can’t honestly say I’ve been enjoying watching Koko succeed in deal after deal in every setting of the globe.  The anime repeats the cycle of presenting Koko with a seemingly difficult challenge but her winning without doing much of anything.  And it’s the same recipe for the action, too, with Koko and her team never feeling in danger because of how invincible they are.  Seriously, there is no challenge in this anime, it’s just Koko goes here and does this and goes there and does that and everyone else who stands up against her dies.  Honestly, it’s like playing a video game without the chance of your character dying.  It really detracts from the series in how the story and action play out, but that doesn’t mean I hate the stories or the action entirely.  It’s just ambivalence which explains why this anime is at a crossroads at its halfway point.  We’ll see how it ends up when it returns and concludes itself this Autumn.

Hyouka – 8

Favorite Character: Houtarou Oreki

Review – Transitioning my view of Hyouka from a mystery anime to a slice-of-life anime has proven effective as it has steadily pulled me into its story and characters and made the anime more gratifying.  The delightful cast of characters is easy to like and show tremendous chemistry which changes appropriately depending on which characters are together.  The mysteries were somewhat lackluster and even something down-right boring, often pertaining to the trivial matters of high school teenagers, so transitioning my focus from this to that of a slife anime has given me a new appreciation of the series.  Taking my attention away from each mystery, I’ve grown to enjoy the characters more and find their lives outside Chitanda’s momentary curiosity to be more eventful and interesting than any mystery that comes their way.  However, the mysteries continue to persist in the anime as a dominant theme and, while entertaining in their own right, are my least favorite aspect of the anime.  I actually find it more enjoyable to see the three friends influence Houtarou and how he grows as a person rather than figuring out why a teacher yelled at a class after given a very specific set of observations.  The artwork is outstanding and, in terms of technical detail and animation, the best of the season.  I’ve grown fond of the soundtrack, too, though it’s more in terms of personal preference rather than anything significant to the anime itself.  The anime doesn’t often make many mistakes and is appeasing but it never has done anything that’s ‘wowed’ me or inspired me in some way.  Those aren’t marks against the series but a reason why it hasn’t placed higher given its merits.  Hyouka has been great throughout, solid and consistent, but lacks anything that motivates or encourages me.  That’s pretty much my definition of an 8 which is why Hyouka earns exactly that.

Acchi Kocchi – 8

Favorite Character: Hime Haruno

Review – Whereas most anime segregate groups of friends between all-guys and all-girls, Acchi Kocchi ignores this unspoken rule and creates its story around a close-knit circle of friends in their daily lives that includes both sexes.  And without needing to focus on the romance or sexual-tension between the characters, Acchi Kocchi allows itself to be a delightful, relaxing, and amusing comedy without doing anything stupid or distracting.  Every story focused on some aspect of the lives of these students, often at highschool or around town, and pertained to them having fun or hanging out.  With episodes focused on playing Kick-the-Can, cooking lunches for each other, or just relaxing on vacation, this anime was able to effectively communicate its humor without spending too much time on the set-up, story, or anything else that’d subtract from this anime.  The characters were all entertaining but over the course of the season, they became somewhat one-dimensional because the anime never really factored in their growth and elected to keep them the same from start to finish.  The art style was colorful and often chibi, given everything an uplifting and cute feel to it which played well into making it feel comfortable and tranquil.  As a comedy, it had some of the best humor of the season and got me to laugh or smile more than just about any other anime this season, but that hardly means it was perfect.  Many skits and jokes grew tiring as the anime continues as they were the same in the beginning as they were in the end: Io always was clueless but every girl loved him, Hime was always timid and scared of everything, and Tsumiki was never honest with anything.  It was wonderful at first but grew stale as the series finished twelve weeks later.  Although that is a huge fault for me in comedies, it was the only major mistake for this anime.  Acchi Kocchi is charming, peaceful, and revitalizing comedy that truly felt like a group of friends having fun together than any of those fake set-ups that most anime rely on for their stories.

Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna – 8

Favorite Character: Daisuke Jigen

Review – After falling in love with the series initially, Lupin III: A Woman Called Mine Fujiko failed to live up to its potential and ultimately ended as a fine anime instead of an outstanding one.  Initially expecting all the characters to meet up in the middle of the series, have some excitement together, and then solve the mystery of the series, the anime continued to have everyone separated and spent their times on trivial matters before creating some makeshift ending with decent exposition.  But the time spent on Oscar, a character that was unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, as well as certain stories like the Cuban Missile Crisis analogue really brought the series down because of how it remove the anime from its adventurous and thrilling spirit into something boring and undesirable.  The characters proved to be strong enough on their own to support the series but the heart of any Lupin series is having everyone together, something the series chose to dismiss for the purpose of its story.  And while the story was acceptable in the end, a somewhat interesting tale that progressed as a weary pace, I felt it could have been done with everyone working together as a team than as separate entities.  The art style was fantastic given the use of heavy lines as shading on top of powerful colors.  The character designs were true to any Lupin series but carried with it a sense of detail that elevated it to a superior quality than virtually every other anime this season.  The only fault on the art was the constant presence of bare breasts, obviously a statement of Fujiko’s sexuality and charm in general, but that felt unnecessary as well.  There’s a theme here with the faults of the Lupin series and that is it included stuff it should not have, overburdening itself and including pointless elements for the sake of being artistic, being different, or simply making a statement.  The series would’ve been much better without these aspects but, because they were included, the anime falls and is placed appropriately among the middle of the anime this season.

Space Brothers – 8

Favorite Character: Masa Hoshika

Review – Space Brothers is another anime that fell over the course of the latter half of the Spring but still merits a respectable score for its overall achievements rather than its errors.  Where Space Brothers succeeds is in its cast and humor, a bunch of characters who have enough personality and flaws to make them entertaining to watch yet realistic enough to believe they are human and the competition or support for Mutta as he works to become an astronaut.  And the comedy specifically is geared toward awkward situations that are humorous because they are so relatable.  It is the humor and characters which keep this anime in a positive position.  The story has begun to crumble and the storytelling stale; an unending cycle of Mutta being faced with a challenge that spells certain doom only to overcome it in an unconventional way and remain alive in his journey to reach space.  The story has stagnated with another set of tests to end the season, something that the series hopefully grows out of soon.  We all expect Mutta to pass and for him to begin training with another set of characters, so why this has to continuously drag itself makes little to no sense after having it for almost an entire season.  Of course, one rewarding aspect of the series is how detailed and comprehensive it is, so by taking its time with its story, it has provided many overlooked aspects of the series which is something I personally like in an anime such as this one.  However, speeding itself up is something I would like, too, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a sacrifice in quality either.  Hopefully the anime can redirect itself this Summer or reinvent itself because otherwise, it’ll remain here as a low 8 or potentially drop to a high 7.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san – 7

Favorite Character: Yoriko Yasaka

Review – Although I know a minimal amount of Lovecraft’s works, I found myself entertained and pleased with Nyaruko-san, a somewhat screwed-up comedy that excelled at parodies and satire.  The comedy in this anime proved to be effective for almost every skit and quickly became the best part of this series.  The characters, while somewhat weak individually, were outstanding together, especially when they would imitate or lampoon some specific aspect of our nerdy culture, and made the series a joy to watch.  Unfortunately, for the actual plot of the anime, a somewhat bizarre romantic harem for an normal boy with three cutesy, moe aliens, I found myself unsatisfied because it never really progressed but, as a device for comedy, it was highly effective and made for a number of witty gags throughout the season.  The art and animation was less than desirable but, for a comedy, does it really matter if we’re laughing most of the time anyway?  The failure to progress the romance was another negative but that’s also dismissed because it worked well for the comedy and that was the main reason why I watched this anime.  That being established, not every episode was as entertaining as the rest and the series alternated between hit-and-miss throughout.  Considering the number of misses and the undesirable romance elements, the series ends up as a 7 which, in terms of most comedies, is good but not as good as I had hoped with Nyaruko-san.

Mouretsu Pirates – 7

Favorite Character: Ursula Abramov

Review – Despite being a low 9 at the end of the Winter season, Mouretsu Pirates ultimately concludes its series with a high 7, showcasing quite an unexpected drop with a woefully disappointing second half.  What caused this sinking for the pirates is merely for the fact that it lost its identity by switching over to the cast of schoolgirls and their issues for a majority of the series and only reverted back to “piracy” at the end as a lame excuse to explain the piracy in this anime.  This anime never felt like it fully accepted its pirate label, even at the end when they gathered together to fight a common foe who killed pirates because they wanted to give them the choice to be pirates or something asinine.  Either way, the anime regressed in the second season.  The spotlight shifted from the interesting and optimistic Marika to Ai for some unknown reason and persisted for a majority of this season.  And while the schoolgirls make alright side-characters, they should never have been given the reigns of this anime like they were allowed.  They were all so basic and lacked any redeeming qualities, so the anime staled in terms of developing its regular cast which it desperately needed.  The lack of piracy throughout felt like a scramble for the series to re-identify itself at the end but, by that point, the series was a mishmash of various space elements strung together by a novice captain without any ambitions or direction.  My thoughts on the art, music, and setting remain unchanged from the previous reviews of this anime, all pluses for the anime.  However, the drop in characters and plot are inexcusable for this anime which is why it crashed and lands amid the 7s for a final score.

Zetman – 7

Favorite Character: Konoha Amagi

Review – Zetman was a decent anime that often fluctuated between good and bad, understandable and confusing, or enjoyable and distributing almost constantly.  Because of this variability in every episode, I never found myself absorbed in the story or the characters.  Without getting hooked in this anime, I never really felt any emotions on way or another for what difficulties the characters were going through.  Perhaps a major fault here is because the enemies they fought were random monsters that we had no reason to care about; they just appeared, attacked, and lost.  It’s almost like the anime wanted action but never fully prepared us for it nor did they explain it well in the story.  Honestly, all the enemies were forgettable in this anime which is a disappointing fact considering how crucial the fighting and action is to the anime as a whole.  I never got into the characters because their philosophies were their personalities and they seemed cold and secluded compared to everyone else, though Kouga was less than Jin.  Everyone else was underdeveloped or unimportant and everyone else felt kinda meh.  The retro art style employed in this anime was a strength for this anime and it performed extremely well in terms of animation, especially during the fights which the anime critically depends on.  The soundtrack had a number of rousing and heroic tracks which played an immeasurable role in promoting the themes and atmosphere of this anime, so it had one of the more effective soundtracks this season.  The setting with the monsters and power-suits and shounen-style fighting turned out better than I anticipated but never understanding the monsters or appreciating their shape and uniqueness really blunted this aspect of the series for me.  In the end, I’m left wondering what could’ve made the anime more enjoyable for me because I am stumped at where it went wrong.  I realize that I’m discounting the anime because of this situation but it appears to be a flaw in my mind which is why Zetman scores and places as low as it does.

Medaka Box – 7

Favorite Character: Yatsushiro

Review – Though Medaka Box appears near the bottom of my list, I personally found the anime to be delightful and found it to be satisfying based on its cast of fun characters and their wacky adventures.  The best element of Medaka Box was how the cast participated in the comedy with no character being immune and often subject to criticism on their quirks or flaws.  The comedy was often clever, too, with Medaka being in a position of power but often times clueless or misunderstood leading to a number of awkward but hilarious situations.  The cast had a respectable set of characters, even those outside the student government.  Shiranui always made me smile and laugh, a surprise for an energetic loli character who has a slightly evil side, and Medaka proved effective, too, in how clueless she was at times.  Kikaijima, Hitoyoshi, and Akune all had their moments, too, but played second-fiddle to the two masters of comedy in this anime.  It also made me happy to see characters reappear throughout the story, even when they were subjected to the background or playing nonessential parts in latter episodes.  Isahaya, the captain of the track team, made appearances and had speaking parts in just about every episode after she was introduced which showed an effective use of characters.  But beyond the characters and comedy, Medaka Box never really inspired me.  While the fighting was decent, it never really excited me like I had hoped.  The fanservice was basic and felt unnecessary at times, though I guess it played into the lighthearted nature of the anime but never was directly related to the jokes besides a few undressing scenes.  The setting, another anime stuck at a school and stuck in a club, is something I’ve grown tired of in anime, so it’s basically a mark against the series at this point.  And the plot… I don’t actually recall any plot… Unless the anime was a string of episodic stories about Medaka solving people’s problems, I have no clue what direction the anime was going in.  The art and animation were fine, mostly basic and standard, but it did lead to some amusing moments when concerning the shots it was animating.  Overall, I personally enjoyed the comedy and characters of Medaka Box, but I won’t use it as a means to advance over arguably better anime this season.

Upotte!! – 6

Favorite Character: M14 (Ichiyon)

Review – Upotte!! is an anime that really never elevated itself off the ground for me, remaining constantly anchored though proving to be worthwhile from time to time.  What gives Upotte!! this unfavorable score and ranking is based on how the anime never really entertained me or motivated me.  The comedy was often crude or plain, never really enough to make me laugh but I do recall numerous jokes that tickled my fancy and got me to smile.  The cast of characters never really had any personalities that made them memorable or distinctive; they seemed different when together but were featureless when apart.  As I recall, the anime remained haphazard in terms of its story, never really doing anything with itself besides disconnected stories about their school-life or how they were guns but also girls.  Yeah, the gimmick in this anime is what hooked me in but there was really nothing else exciting or noteworthy besides having girls that are guns who use guns to be better guns (but it turns out they can’t kill humans and only other guns but who’s keeping track).  And once you realize that they’re just random personalities attached to these labels, the anime suddenly becomes undesirable.  The art never really caught my eye with it bouncing between sad to terrible, though the fanservice in this anime was at a minimum given my expectations for a XEBEC anime, so that’s a plus.  It was still unnecessary and often detracting from the anime, but at least it didn’t become the anime like some other anime from XEBEC.  It had a few bright moments but overall, the anime had nothing in terms of characters, story, art, and sound.  Besides being entertained by the series from time to time, Upotte!! really isn’t much of anything after you get past the fact that the entire cast of characters are supposed to be guns.

Kore wa Zombie desu ka? OF THE DEAD – 5

Favorite Character: Yuki Yoshida (Tomonori, Maelstrom)

Review – Though I did enjoy the first season of Kore wa Zombie desu ka? given its style of humor and harem cast of characters, this second season destroyed the anime for me given its constant faults and other annoyances.  Perhaps the most offensive is that the anime refuses to change or progress in any way.  The characters never develop, instead acting the exact same as they always have and repeating that tired, stale humor that defines their characters to the one-dimensional anime stereotypes that they all are.  The anime depends too heavily on inside-jokes from the first season or otaku-directed humor like boobs and fanservice and whatnot as humor but these are failures because one set of jokes have been overused and lost its humor and the other set has never been funny and, unfortunately, never will be.  The anime also relies a bit too heavily on fanservice but these scenes are always the same with Ayumu getting a boner or something and the girls beating him up for seeing them semi-nude or something.  Seriously, why do anime keep using these situations as jokes?  It’s pathetic to have to sit through this crap, hoping there’s something worthwhile in the episode, only to find out that there was nothing this week but the same content and humor as the previous season.  The harem set-up has grown awful in the fact that it hasn’t progressed and all the girls won’t admit that they love Ayumu because that’s somehow good romance or good comedy.  And the animation was abysmal at times, though the character designs are still respectable and perhaps the best aspect of this franchise.  But does that really matter when all the characters are tired clichés of anime archetypes?  I honestly don’t recall any positives to this series besides a few decent jokes but that’s it.  I suppose the one good thing I can say about this anime is that I finished it without dropping it which is better than I can say about some.

Notable Spring moments:

Best OP: Tsuritama (Tsuritama was the only OP I never skipped all season.  Really enjoyed quite a few this season including Sakamichi no Apollon, Sengoku Collection, Acchi Kocchi, and many more.)

Best ED: Sengoku Collection (There were quite a few less ED that I liked this season with most of them being skipped. Zetman and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia both had endings I enjoyed.)

Biggest Surprise: Sengoku Collection (Going from off my radar to my favorite anime of the season, quite an easy decision here.)

Biggest Disappointment: Mouretsu Pirates (Despite being fun this season, it was a failure in comparison to the first half.)

Best Finale: Medaka Box (The only anime that saved its best episode for last.)

Most Hated Character: SAKO RK95 (Upotte!!) (She was a bitch.)

And so that ends the Spring 2012 Anime season review.  Much like last Spring, I did not rank a single anime with the top score of a 10 and both noitaminA shows ended with 9s.  That season, however, Steins;Gate continued to impress with a powerful Summer and ended up being my second favorite anime of the entire year.  Sengoku Collection is the only 9 that’s continuing into the Summer from this season and it was my favorite, too.  Perhaps if the anime season another strong summer, it will end up reaching the coveted 10 as well.  Of course, a few of the other Spring anime are continuing into the Summer as well, including some excellent ones in Hyouka and Space Brothers.  Should be fun to see how these anime continue, along with all the rest, in the Summer anime season which is already well underway.

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  1. #1 by Joojoobees on July 18, 2012 - 5:06 AM

    Sakamichi no Apollon was a very good show that certainly deserves the top spot. I also agree that Stein’s;Gate continues to impress in retrospect, and that it sets a benchmark that no shows have quite matched (I think Chihayafuru could have done so, if the story had completed). SnA was rather short, but the characters had a complexity and substance that is often missing.

    Personally I rather enjoy Hyouka’s take on the Mystery genre. While the mysteries are not as important as those featured in most shows, I find it a real strength that High School kids are solving mysteries they could encounter in High School. The focus in the major mysteries (each arc has included some minor mysteries that are cracked prior to a major mystery that covers multiple episodes) has been quite literary, which is an interesting angle, and a lot of time is spent shooting down appealing, but flawed hypotheses. In the end it turned out to be one of my favorites for the season.

    Tsuritama, BTW, is on my own back-log list, so no comment from me.

    • #2 by avvesione on July 19, 2012 - 12:52 AM

      In terms of anime since 2011, the anime right behind Steins;Gate is Chihayafuru which is then followed by Usagi Drop and UN-Go. Ahead of it is only one anime, Madoka. Those 5 are the only 10s I’ve given since I started my blog. Given the story, characters, and direction of Sakamichi no Apollon, I don’t think it could’ve been a 10 without some changes, but it earned the top spot this season for what it was able to do. There’s no shame in being a 9 but it just didn’t have the same influence on me as those other 5 anime did.

      You do raise some valid points about Hyouka and how it handles the mysteries. What I do like is how everyone tries to solve the mysteries themselves and how they compare and contrast their theories before Houtarou reads them the answer (though he isn’t always correct). That aspect of the mysteries is my favorite part rather than the sleuthing and solving, but that belongs more in the slife genre than mystery, I believe. It’s more the kids getting together and talking about their personal ideas than anything else. And while these do pertain to the mysteries, the general aspect of them talking amongst each other is what I like the most, related to the mysteries or not. Then again, had Hyouka been a straight-up slife anime without any mystery, I perhaps would have a less favorable opinion about the anime since I do enjoy the fact that they put their minds to something useful instead of something brainless. The mystery elements of Hyouka are good but they’re not my favorite.

      Tsuritama is an anime I’m sure you’ll enjoy whenever you get around to watching it. Have fun with it!

  2. #3 by Zammael on July 18, 2012 - 6:45 AM

    Great blog! For 2012 Spring season, here are my grades, which are mostly a reflection of how much I look forward to each episode (rearrange my schedule around the releases):

    Fate Zero 10 its triumphs far exceed whatever perceived flaws, possibly Urobuchi’s best work. Near masterpiece
    Mysterious Girlfriend X 9.5 Great combination of nostalgic animation and consistent execution (pacing, adaptation of source material) makes this the winner of Spring
    Sakamichi no Apollon 9 Sentimentalism done right, tho second half felt rushed/compressed & compromised itself.
    Space Brothers 9 Easily the funniest show. Mutta never fails to deliver!
    Mouretsu Pirates 8.5 Slight stumble in the second cour, but maintained same energy
    Lupin the Third: a woman named Mine Fujiko 8 Great revival of classic franchise, excellent roster
    Jormungand 7.5 Great main character in Koko, but somewhat formulaic with story format
    Hyouka 7.5 slowly grows on me in its multidimensional approach to mystery genre
    Sengouku Collection 7.5 Inconsistent but great palette choices (pastels)
    Sankarea 7.5 sharp animation and solid premise nearly sabotaged by a bunch of OVA in the middle of the run
    Zetman 7 ambitious premises crippled by a failure of execution
    Dusk Maiden of Amnesia 6.5 Excellent premises doomed by weak characters
    Medaka Box 6 Nisionisin must have written this tripe in his sleep. Only the last episode did I sniff a whiff of his meta-style.

    Dropped:
    Tsuritama Great show, but I lost interest somewhere. So I will pick this back up one day.
    Upotte!
    Is it a Zombie
    Accel World

    • #4 by avvesione on July 19, 2012 - 12:58 AM

      Heh, I already notice some disagreement between us but I believe we’re about the same for the most part. I’ll get around to Fate/Zero one of these days, so the best I could do was acknowledge it in the beginning. And rather than address each show individually with you, because you know I would, I’ll only point out the necessary ones right now. If you want, you can contact me for a better conversation about these shows if you want.

      For Medaka Box, NisiOisiN was a bit constricted for his style for this manga since it was written with a premise in mind that not only changed once but twice. The story does indeed start slow and was positioned in a way that really limited his writing style. However, the last episode was an anime-original one which allowed NisiOisiN to be free in how he wanted to direct it. This freedom really allowed his style to flourish which is why it was the best episode of the anime. And because he had experience from writing the manga for three years, he was able to get the most out of his characters with that episode. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if he wrote a different story for the second season of Medaka Box since I believe he’d outshine the manga easily if given the freedom to do what he wants. But that probably won’t happen.

  3. #5 by wavedash on July 18, 2012 - 6:10 PM

    Fuck yeah, Sengoku Collection. Haiku girl is the best.

    • #6 by avvesione on July 19, 2012 - 1:00 AM

      Yeah, the episode with Bashou Matsuo was one of my favorites. Probably in my top 3 episodes of the series. Not only was the character fantastic and the story heartwarming/inspiring but the shift in art style really gave it a pronounced and different focus. Loved it. Wish I wrote about SenColl this season in my weekly posts since I have so much to say for every episode…

  4. #7 by bobbobsters on July 18, 2012 - 11:01 PM

    I’m rather surprised Yasaka was your favorite in Nyaruko-san. I was thinking it would be one of the other MALE cast members… and of course I have to stress male because that member is in fact a male, or at least, as much as one can be that is of a lovecraftian deity…thing.

    • #8 by avvesione on July 19, 2012 - 1:05 AM

      Huh? My favorite male character in Nyaruko-san? I didn’t realize Mahiro was a Lovecraftian deity thingy =P

      But yeah, for Nyaruko-san, I had trouble figuring out my favorite character. Among the small cast, I quickly came up with Mahiro, Hastur, and Cthuko as potential favorites. I really liked all, so really, any of them could’ve been my favorite, but I selected Cthuko since she made me laugh more than anyone else in the anime. That was enough to give her that distinction as my favorite character in Nyaruko-san.

  5. #9 by bobbobsters on July 19, 2012 - 6:38 PM

    I was commenting that I thought you would have picked Hastur, who is a deity.

    • #10 by bobbobsters on July 19, 2012 - 6:39 PM

      whoops, wrong reply…

    • #11 by avvesione on July 24, 2012 - 11:38 PM

      Yeah, but I tried to respond with a joke which tried to be sarcastic or witty but failed. Whoops.

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