Autumn 2012 – Season Review

sasami_san@ganbaranai-03-autumn-fall-golden_leaves-red-orange-water-peacefulYes, you’re reading that right.  Yes, this is for 2012, not 2013.  Yes, this post is over an entire year late. Yeah… about that…

So, remember all those wonderful anime from 2012?  All the ones I forgot to provide my opinions and reviews and closure on?  Well, here it is, my final review for the anime of Autumn 2012.

Before we begin, the ranking of anime below was completed at the end of December after a majority of the shows were completed.  I did complete an evaluation of these shows at the time but never created a final review.  It’s also worth noting that some of the shows that continued into Winter 2013 may have different grades in that review based on how they performed in their latter half.  These are only the reviews from October-December for 2012.

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.  Each anime is paired with its own review which provides my overall thoughts and evaluation on the anime in addition to explaining my reasoning behind the score and ranking.  Any questions or discussion are welcome and encouraged in the comment section.

 

Psycho-Pass – 9

psycho_pass-01-tsunemori-confused-lost-newbie-rookie-explainingFavorite Character: Akane Tsunemori

Review – Psycho-Pass is the complete anime, satisfying me or going well above the norm in every category.  Of particular note is how well the setting is defined and utilized in the story and how the characters use the world they live in as a significant aspect of the story.  The cast is engaging and delightful and the art and animation are thrilling, especially with some of the visual effects demonstrated.  Akane’s character growth has been the real story in this anime and a significant reason why it sits atop the list as the best anime of Autumn 2012.

 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – 9

jojos_bizarre_adventure-10-joseph-crying-serious-manly_tearsFavorite Character: Dio Brando

Review – JoJo’s has been a phenomeonal rollercoaster of an anime, filled with touching moments, emotional peaks and harrowing valleys.  JoJo’s knows storytelling and how to make a simple plot be an unforgettable experience.  The characters ooze with charm and charisma making their dialogue both captivating and enjoyable to listen to.  And the fighting, especially the climax of Phantom Blood, has been nothing short of sensational.  I’ve been especially surprised with the brilliant and expressive use of art and colors in JoJo’s, something that continues to please me with each passing episode.  And the transition from Phantom Blood to Battle Tendency is keeping me excited for the second half, when this anime continues into Winter 2013.

 

Kamisama Kiss – 9

kamisama_kiss-04-nanami-tomoe-romance-shoujo-sparkles-bubblesFavorite Character: Natsuko Umibe

Review – As a lighthearted and charming anime, Kamisama Kiss may be a surprise for some at its elite position but, to those who watched it, this grade and ranking seems appropriate.  Kamisama Kiss was the embodiment of fun and amusement, an ideal presentation for a romantic comedy where Nanami is a luckless girl who serendipitously becomes the god of the Mikage shrine.  The story is about Nanami’s transition and the hectic and tumultuous lifestyle that awaits her but the anime puts on a happy face and makes everything amiable or amusing.  The cast is particularly enjoyable (though some males were obnoxious and annoying) and had excellent chemistry together.  And this is one of the few anime where the romance didn’t feel predominantly forced or annoying.  Although Kamisama Kiss may not look like a stellar or outstanding anime, it is easily one of the best anime I’ve seen all year.

 

Nekomonogatari: Kuro – 9

nekomonogatari-03-tsubasa-araragi-catgirl-nekomimi-white_hair-bra-panties-sexy_black_underwear-pose-sexual_tensionFavorite Character: Shinobu Oshino

Review – Although I typically only evaluate and grade TV anime in these reviews, the Nekomonogatari: Kuro OVA was four that snuck in right before New Year’s Eve.  And since I’m a slave to Shaft’s eccentric styles and the storytelling of the Bakemonogatari franchise, I felt it would be appropriate to include.

Nekomonogatari: Kuro was decent as a standalone series but it’s success derives from knowing how it integrates into the series and how it supplements your understanding of Bakemonogatari.  Without this knowledge and watching the story arc as a ‘flashback’, this anime would only have been mediocre for Shaft.  However, watching Nekomonogatari is like finishing the part of a puzzle that was left unfinished back in Summer 2009 and glossed over in Winter 2012.  It’s incredibly satisfying and the art, direction and storytelling made it even more enjoyable.  I’ve always been a fan of the Bakemonogatari franchise, thanks to its art, characters, dialogue and odd stories on oddities, but this has been one of the better examples of the franchise.  I’m thrilled that we received this OVA and its grade and position reflect that and its excellence.

 

K – 9

k-11-kurou-neko-yashiro-kukuri-battleFavorite Character: Neko

Review – K is a perfect example of style over substance, a rather thin, obtuse story with lots of stunning colors, choreographed fights and an uncomfortable blue filter over everything.  And while there were misgivings about the story, it was decent but it wasn’t what K was about.  K was a visual masterpiece of colors, kinetics, animation and expression that featured gorgeous fights and stylish action.  It really didn’t have a significant meaning, but as long as you didn’t care (and K certainly doesn’t), K is wonderful.  I’d love to see more anime mimic this style of art and animation, but not to the point where it saturates the industry like that certain blue filter.  The cast size was enormous and diverse enough that virtually anyone who watched it could find a character they liked, so I’m not sure whether that’s a positive or negative.  One negative was that the story was rather tame and anime-ish, but as long as you’re not watching it for the story, K will be worthwhile.  The whole point of K is to watch a fun anime with loads of action that dazzles and delights the eyes and, if you watch it with that in mind, K will be one of the better anime you watch.

 

Robotics;Notes – 8

robotics;notes-03-tanegashimachine_3S-hobby_robot-physics-fighting-robo_one_tournamentFavorite Character: Kona Furugoori (Frau)

Review – The strengths of Robotics;Notes is in its foundation: its characters, its setting and its charm.  With the story particularly lacking and the art and animation subpar, especially for Production I.G, the characters are what drives Robotics;Notes forward with their quirky behavior and ideal chemistry.  I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled with the pace and direction of the story but I do enjoy the subtle mysteries and elusive hints popping up at various unexpected times.  Still, the anime is best when it’s happy and it’s been relatively good at that.  The setting with robots and robotics and anime is nice but the use of technology and the location are what I appreciate the most.  Tanegashima is unique and plays well with the distinctiveness of Robotics;Notes and the use of the Iru-O system (how you see Airi) in the anime has been innovative and significant.  I hope the anime continues on this trajectory into Winter 2013 since it has been pleasant but could use improvement in its art and story.

 

Magi – 8

magi-03-morgiana-slave-fighting-combat-antagonistFavorite Character: Leila

Review – Fantasy and adventure reign supreme in Magi, allowing the anime to present both an enthralling story with exuberance and enthusiasm.  The setting has been engaging and exceptional with its labyrinths, djinns and exhaustive, minute details.  I’m particularly happy we’ve seen various cities from various characters and their perspectives to construct a proper understanding of this world and the magic within it.  The characters have been enjoyable thus far with the main trio featuring strong chemistry, especially between Aladdin and Alibaba.  The fights have been decent, too, though the best was shown in the first episode.  I’m curious to see where the anime goes from here knowing that this is a particularly long shounen manga, but the start has captivated me and hooked me in.  However, I can only hope the anime stays like this throughout.

 

Shin Sekai Yori – 8

shin_sekai_yori-07-satoru-saki-squealer-profiles-staring-listening-battle-warFavorite Character: Saki Watanabe

Review – Perhaps the most cerebral and intelligent anime of the season, Shin Sekai Yori leads strong with its fascinating characters, its shadowy story and even more enigmatic setting.  Maybe the most interesting aspect is watching the small circle of children grow and discover in this dangerous and frightening world.  Whether it is outside threats or an overseeing government, there’s the constant feeling of threat and fear.  The anime has been trending up with recent episodes and I’m intensely interested to see how this story continues and how everything resolves in the end.

 

Zetsuen no Tempest – 8

zetsuen_no_tempest-07-aika-yoshino-kiss-romance-passion-blue-stars-summerFavorite Character: Hakaze Kusaribe

Review – I’m not exactly sure what to think about Zetsuen no Tempest, but I like what I see.  The drive of the characters and the constant onslaught of logic and secrecy give the anime an appeal unique to Tempest, though I do question whether there is an oversaturation of it at times (the last few episodes where the characters just talked and talked and talked detract from this fascination).  The system and use of magic have also been interesting, especially with its emphasis on defense rather than offense.  However, the dynamic of the series with Hazke guiding two conflicting best friends via wooden doll walkie-talkie has been remarkable.  Having the guiding force be so far away and having each character work passionate for their own, different goals has made this anime enjoyable.  There are some misgivings and at times, it can be boring, but Tempest has been a charming anime and I’m excited to see where this anime will go and how everything will resolve with its latter half in Winter 2013.

 

Girls und Panzer – 8

girls_und_panzer-04-saori-scared-safety-tankFavorite Character: Mako Reizei

Review – Girls und Panzer is certainly an interesting take on a moe, slice-of-life anime.  Not only is it distinctive and matchless among its peers for its constant emphasis on warfare than overpowering theme of tanks but it has curious details too, like the schools being on aircraft carriers and the cast of 40+ girls.  It’s been surprising and enjoyable, but a few details got in the way to derail the anime.  Of particular note, are the stupid strategies that worked during the fights and the fact that the school would be saved ONLY by the girls winning the girly tank warfare tournament.  I can’t stand storylines like those, but thankfully it did not diminish from the rest of the fun and enjoyment of Girls und Panzer.  Some of the tank battles had particularly fantastic animation but for the most part, the series had median levels of art and animation.  The real strengths of the series were its fun, amusement and entertainment and certainly a worthwhile watch for those reasons alone.

 

Space Brothers – 8

space_brothers-opening-mutta-hibito-dancing-astronautsFavorite Character: Tadashi Hoshika

Review – What more can I say about Space Bros that I haven’t said in previous reviews?  The series has pretty much plateaued for me.  It’s still enjoyable but there’s nothing really exciting or new about it anymore.  The fact that these little story events repeat themselves in the same pattern over and over again has made the anime a little stale actually.  I’m hoping that as the story crawls closer to space, something fun or exciting will happen… but if the series keeps inching along at this pace, we might be traveling to the moon ourselves before Mutta does.

 

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! – 7

chuunibyou_demo_koi_ga_shitai!-10-yuuta-rikka-cosplay-pose-comedy-eyepatch-fun Favorite Character: Touka Takanashi

Review – The comedy in Chuunibyou was more of an 8 but the romance and story was definitely a 6 meaning this romantic comedy ends up as a 7.  I really enjoy the anime as a mindless source of entertainment with gorgeous art/animation and a delightful cast but the topics and episodic content was actually rather boring, tepid or derivative.  Still, Chuunibyou is a solid anime but one that I’d recommend as a comedy more than anything else.

 

Medaka Box Abnormal – 7

medaka_box_abnormal-02-medakaFavorite Character: Yatsushiro (Absent)

Review – Although I thoroughly enjoyed Medaka Box Abnormal, the anime itself was pretty much mediocre.  What caught my attention and kept me smiling were the show’s surprisingly fun fights, its charming humor, its humorous characters and intelligent dialogue but nothing here was terrible impressive, noteworthy or innovative.  In fact, all of the strengths of the anime for me were good but not great.  Still, good is good enough for me, and I loved watching Medaka Box Abnormal for those very reasons since it did well in all these areas with no deficiencies.  The story of this sequel was a marked improvement over the original anime and the series was on a positive trajectory at the end, leaving me wanting more.  I wouldn’t mind watching another season of Medaka Box but I figure there probably won’t be another sequel based on its dismal reception and sales.

 

Little Busters! – 6

little_busters!-11-komari-rin-kud-screaming-panic-nekomimi-comedyFavorite Character: Kudryavka Noumi

Review – While I want myself to like Little Busters!, I really can’t.  There are just too many issues with the storytelling and story in this anime.  I realize the anime is based on a game but the transition between the two medium is virtually non-existent and the storytelling, pacing and enjoyment from the game are noticeably absent.  I also have to question the purpose or intent of these storylines, especially since they never really seem to build off each other and just end, much like going down different routes, reseting and then going down the next one.  Is that really the best direction for this anime?  Why not just play the game instead of trying to adapt it to an anime with this being the result?  However, when ignoring these major flaws, the anime does have some highlights, particularly its cast and its humor.  The anime continues into Winter 2013, so hopefully we can see some progress with the latter half of this series.

 

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo – 6

sakurasou_no_pet_na_kanojo-01-mashiro-calm-emotionless-morning-woke_up-bed_head-messy_hair-dress_shirt-cuteFavorite Character: Mashiro Shiina

Review – I’m really starting to wonder why I’m watching Sakurasou.  While the anime does have its enjoyable moments, the series has been largely boring to me.  It’s just too ‘normal’ of an anime to be anything exciting or original or worthwhile.  It’s really just a reminder of all the anime I watched back in the late 2000s that were of this similar style, of highschoolers spending their youth together and having fun.  It’s anime I feel like I’ve watched before and want to move away from.  But still, there’s a reason why I watched those anime previously and why I’m still watching Sakurasou now.  Sakurasou does have a magnificent list of characters which really makes the show worth watching.  The romance, story and comedy might be lacking but I do seeing the characters and their chemistry together.  I hope the series improves in its latter half, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for such a feat.

 

Jormungand Perfect Order – 6

jormungand-17-jonah-looking_back-cruious-calm-quietFavorite Character: Schokolade

Review – With every rocket launching high into the orbit, Jormungand Perfect Order saw its stock drop further and further.  What began as an insightful, entertaining and splendid anime, Jormungand’s series ended in one of the most bewildering and confounding finishes imaginable.  At first, the action was dumb but fulfilling and entertaining.  Yeah, there were guns firing and things blowing up… awesome.  But then the cast of characters became invisible and everything they did – everything as impossible as they did – was too damn easy.  It mean that one of my favorite aspects at the beginning of the series (the action/fighting) had become my worst enemy at the end.  There was no challenge or effort in this anime and everything was handed to Koko and company.  At that point, the series began to grow weary and tiresome… and that point was reached somewhere in season 1.  Nothing changed in this sequel and the characters and story felt like afterthoughts.  The fact that the sequel continued on this downward spiral and failed to make any of the necessary adjustments to revitalize the series or make it mildly interesting caused the anime to be a severe, severe disappointment.  And the ending was so stupid and infuriating that I can think of no better place for Jormungand.

 

Sword Art Online – 5

sword_art_online-24-kirito-asuna-alo-romance-reunion-together-loveFavorite Character: Keiko Ayano (Silica)

Review – Sword Art Online is a teenage boy’s fantasy.  It’s literally just a fanboy writing down his every desire.  Imagine being all alone every day (no parents, no siblings, no school, no homework, no responsibilities) playing virtual-reality video games with friends tons of hot girls in which you’re the best person ever at said video games and all your friends the hot girls are constantly wanting over your dick.  Then you save the video game worlds or something and meet your girlfriend in real life.  And everything’s gravy.  And while that does make for a good reality (to be honest, who wouldn’t want to go on that adventure), it makes for a terrible, terrible story.  There are no challenges.  There are no rewards.  It’s just a kid writing a Christmas list and getting everything he wants.  There’s no earning it in Sword Art Online.  There’s no value to what he’s doing.  And you know every challenge Kirito goes into, he’ll immediately prevail due to whatever bullshit the series wants.  It’s just watching a kid get whatever he wants, and that makes for a terrible, terrible anime.  As for the rest of SAO, it was actually fairly decent.  I did enjoy the characters, the backgrounds, the animation and the music.  All those factors were at the industry median to superb to even outstanding at times.  However, I could never get beyond the fact that the content of this anime was just miserable fanwank.  I really wish Sword Art Online could’ve received a better grade due to the features I enjoyed but this is really the grade the anime deserves.  Kinda sad to think about, really.

 

Achievements of Autumn 2012:

Best Art: K

Best Characters: Shin Sekai Yori

Best Entertainment: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Best Setting: Psycho-Pass

Best Sound: K

Best Story: Shin Sekai Yori

 

Best OP: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Since I loved the songs for this as well as K, Kamisama Kiss, Magi, Medaka Box Abnormal, Psycho-Pass, and Robotics;Notes, I had to find the one with the best visuals, which is easily JoJo’s. Second overall would be K followed by Medaka Box.

Best ED: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

I absolutely love it whenever an anime ending song begins playing during the final seconds of an episode and this one did it numerous times.  Although the visuals a pan over ancient Aztec carvings, I do like that they show all the characters and the song has developed into a personal favorite.  Psycho-Pass would be second and Shin Sekai Yori is third.

Biggest Surprise: Kamisama Kiss

What I expected to be a rather amusing but stereotypical shoujo reverse-harem romance turned out to be on of the best anime of the season, if not the year.  The characters, story and comedy proved to be impressive and delightful making this the most pleasant surprise of the season.

Biggest Disappointment: Jormungand: Perfect Order

Although I was growing tired of Jormungand at the end of the first season, I completely lost it with Jormungand in this continuation.  The action was awful and unbelievable, the characters felt flat and tedious and the story never really interested me, so Jormungand gave me nothing but dissatisfaction.

Best Finale: Medaka Box Abnormal

The episode proved to be fun and entertaining, especially since it was one especially made for TV [you couldn’t use that much color in a weekly manga] and with an entirely new cast of characters.

Most Hated Character: Otohito (Kamisama Kiss)

 

Also, I’d like to take a moment to apologize for the unreasonable delay in this post.  Hopefully you had some fun reliving the anime from 2012 here in 2014 (or later).

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