This year was WAY different from last year. Last year I barely watched anything and had to struggle to even make a top 3 list. This year I sampled 33 anime and completely watched 13 through at least one quarter. Obviously they weren’t all good; most of the cut list fell into the trap of being boring or mediocre (anime loves cliches and tropes). Legal streaming is completely changing the way I can watch anime, and I’m now in danger of being overloaded whereas before I was scraping around, trying to find stuff worth the effort of downloading (not my preferred method). Recently, I purchased a year’s subscription to Crunchyroll for HD quality, usually same day simulcast anime. It’s an awesome deal.
Onto the lists!
Spring was immensely strong, which is a good thing since Summer was so dismal, and Winter was pretty weak (with the possible exceptions of Natsume Yuujinchou 4 and Daily Lives of High School Boys which I didn’t watch due to licensing). Fall, however, was able to surprise me with a number of strong shoujos and an excellent SF thriller.
Space Brothers (Spring) : I’m actually letting this one build up some episodes for a bit because it loves ending on cliffhangers. It’s probably about ready for me to pick back up again. Mutta is in America now with Hibito, but he’s still being tested. It’s still excellent, and I just love the story and the fact the characters are in their late 20s and early 30s. I got G started on it, too, although he isn’t keeping up with it as it doesn’t really fit in his schedule.
Kids on the Slope (Spring): It ended on a time skip but I liked the ending, however implausible it was. I also picked up some jazz music due to enjoying the soundtrack quite a bit. Sentai licensed this and has the rights to use the music, thank god, so now just waiting for the release.
Kuroko’s Basketball (Spring): Loved this anime. It was a great sports anime, flamboyant with their tricks, even if it was ridiculous and excessive. It’s no Slam Dunk, that’s for sure. It’s supposed to have a second season, because it didn’t finish, but there are some severe problems in Japan where some deranged person is sending threats through the mail, including dangerous substances to anyone associated with the manga or anime. The doujinshi (fanart comics) convention circuit is suffering, being cut short or cancelled altogether. Suspect rumors include jealous angry classmates of the mangaka or possibly some psychotic Slam Dunk fan. While I understand the concern for safety, I believe that the message being sent to the terrorist (and giving ideas to future terrorists) is “Yes, we will cave to your demands, enjoy the power trip.” I wish they would find this guy and put an end to this stupidity.
Lupin III: A Woman Named Fujiko Mine (Spring): Bewbs and butts. And a pretty awesome art style and interesting story. Violence Jill does a much better job than I could ever remotely do at analyzing the series.
Tsuritama (Spring): The ending was a bit weird, but I still adored this vibrant anime about friendship and aliens. Plus, best OP of the year. You see that dance the characters do? I did that EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. Because I am a dork.
My Little Monster (Fall): This is a very interesting shoujo, as the main guy, Haru, seems to have some really big issues. He’s socially incompetent, possessive, immature, and jealous (he’s either traumatized from some past occurrence, or he’s got some Asperger’s like thing going on). The main girl is aloof, obsessed with being the best student, and torn with how she feels about the main guy because it interferes with her studying. She gets mad at him, but instead of really addressing the problem, she ignores him, which he hates. I’m more interested in Haru’s rival, Yamaken, but of course she won’t end up with him. I want to see how she manages to get Haru under control and acting like a normal human instead of being controlled by his Id. Unfortunately, it ended completely open-endedly, with some other romances starting to stir, but going nowhere with the abrupt ending. I’m really hoping for a second season to see some more character development and closure of some kind. Plus more animations of Shizuku eating, which are the cutest ever.
Kamisama Kiss (Fall): My other favorite shoujo this year. This and MLM kept switching back and forth, squabbling for top place for Fall. I loved all the bickering yokai and the will-o-the-wisps were adorable. I do wish Nanami had been slightly stronger, although I did like the last episode and thought her dance was nice. I picked up the manga so I can read farther into the story, and to see what that mischievous wind god is up to. All the music–OP, ED, and score was great, too.
Psycho-Pass (Fall): The ending to the first season was awesome, showing the complete failure of the Psycho-Pass system (the system that measures a person’s likelihood of committing a crime). Starting off slow, it built up to a great arc with the all-girls’ school arc (creepy!) and then the final shocking showdown between Akane (the rookie cop) and Makishima (criminal mastermind). I can’t wait for season 2 next Winter.
(Note: I did not include Chihayafuru on here because it started in 2011 and continued into 2012. This would’ve topped everything again had I counted it. Currently rewatching in preparation for season 2 starting this month.)
I’m very impatient when it comes to shows and if something doesn’t grab me or gets boring I will usually drop it immediately, so it’s hard to find a truly “worst” anime for the year. Most of the shows were floating around mediocrity. However there were a few shows that I felt totally failed.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous (Summer): This show infuriated me. I wanted to like it SO MUCH, but I just didn’t, and I loathed all the characters. I managed to stick it out through to the end, but then I just became angry that I wasted like five hours on it. If I hate the characters of any show, it’s really hard for me to watch it because it just makes me agitated, and then it’s not entertainment and becomes a health risk instead. I did like the art though, and Rokka’s character design, which was so unusual for anime, with her extremely short hair. She was really cute though… until she put on that hat.
His hat wasn’t any better, btw.
Sword Art Online (Summer): This anime I’m mad at because I absolutely loved the first episode. Having spent seven years playing WoW, I was excited to see a good-looking anime based in an MMORPG world. And a dark world at that, with a sadistic creator who trapped all his players in the game with the threat of death if they stopped playing or died in game. Sounds great! And then it immediately became blah on the second episode with a mediocre fight scene and the third episode I didn’t even make it through. By then though I had already excitedly told my friend that it looked AMAZING, and sounded AMAZING, and then had to tell him, no, I was wrong, it sucked, never mind. Sigh. (Of course, I didn’t learn, and proceeded to repeat my mistake with Code:Breaker, although my excitement was much more tempered due to being more suspicious. And I was right to do so.) The anime fanbase seems extremely divided on SAO though, with half thinking it the best show this year, and the other half completely hating it. I don’t think it was the worst show ever, but among the most disappointing, definitely.
Aoi Sekai de Chuushin de (Fall): This anime was just terrible. I had expected it to be fairly mediocre but still fun. It was Nintendo vs. Sega! Classic games made into anime characters, with Sega being the good guys and Nintendo being the bad guys, with evil Mario King in charge riding a ferocious dinosaur (Yoshi). At least I think that was what it was going to be about. I immediately turned it off after the second extremely busty girl had all her clothes exploded off her body by the Sonic equivalent (the first lady lost all her clothes during an orgasm she had by the mere sight of Sonic’s power, if I recall correctly). Early announcements did not tell me this was going to be an extreme ecchi show, which is just pure blech. KOS.
(Note: there are far, far, worse shows out there, but I just didn’t even bother because I knew I would loathe them. So this is just stuff I attempted to watch.)
- Kimi ni Todoke: Extremely sweet story of an awkward outcast girl making her first friends and falling in love. Beautiful packaging by NISA.
- Natsume’s Book of Friends: Quiet episodic story of a boy who can see yokai and his yokai “friend” who’s attempting to return all the names his grandmother stole to their yokai owners. Another wonderful license by NISA.
- Bunny Drop: see post. Yet another excellent release by NISA. (NISA wins this year for anime releases)
- Detroit Metal City: Hilariously raunchy comedy of a guy who goes to Tokyo to become a pop singer and somehow finds himself heading a death metal band. Barebones release by Sentai.
- Hatsukoi Limited: see post. Barebones release by Sentai.
- Princess Jellyfish: see post. Excellent production by Funimation with a ton of extras, including all the shorts.