[Featurama] The Best and Most Disappointing Anime of 2012

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Last year was excellent for anime.  It was truly exciting to run down the list each season and consistently find something notable to watch.  There was great action from titles like Jormugand and Fate/Zero. Great romance came from the likes of Ano Natsu de Matteru and Say “I Love You”. Fantastic twists all around from Mirai Nikki and Kokoro Connect.  Of course there also is those quirky shows that have no definition like Nisemonogatari and Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? of the Dead.

It’s truly difficult to choose only one title to best represent what the anime of the year is, so that’s why I forced the staff around here to sit down and decide on what their favorite show was this year.  Seeing as how this industry lives on the highs and lows, we’ve also included the shows that never lived up to their potential.

Read on as we present the most satisfying and most disappointing anime of 2012.

Best Anime of 2012

Fate / Zero

In the end, the decision to what the best anime I’ve seen all year came down to a close race between two candidates. The Greek tragedy Fate/Zero or the candy coated apocalypse of Humanity Has Declined. I had to pick one though for this assignment and for the sheer intensity of the experience I decided to go with Fate/Zero. To see a world built up and filled with people and dreams and to watch it all torn down by fate could only be described as one of the best anime experiences I’ve ever seen.

I like characters. I believe characters in fiction shouldn’t be looked upon as people but rather vessels for meanings. That ideas are best embodied in corpses than in settings or symbols. Take the Grail War for example. If Fate/Zero were simply a story of seven individuals who summon spirits to fight for an ultimate prize then it wouldn’t be any different from any other shounen fare.

Fate/Zero is darker than any other shounen fare.

The reason why the show is darker than what its premise suggests is in part of the characters. Some of them may be more monstrous than others, but none of them are as naive as their younger shounen counterparts. They aren’t anchored down by simplistic representation of ideals. These are adults who sometimes act like children, but have the burden of maturity to carry out their desires. Evil in the pursuit of salvation, good in the pursuit of power, power in pursuit of life. Strange directions and stranger actions mask a pure ideal. Fate/Zero is a show that presents you with hope and despair, both of which bloom in the battlefield. All while acting them out with mythical heroes and driven players. I can’t imagine a better show than that.

Most Disappointing Anime of 2012

Bodacious Space Pirates

Now hear me out, Bodacious Space Pirates is my most disappointing but it was in no way the worst show of the year. In fact, it was a very good show just not the one I had expected. I mean one, bodacious did not mean exactly what I thought it meant. Secondly, the show didn’t exactly give me what I thought when I imagined high school girl space pirate captain. It was instead a slice-of-life comedy drama about a girl coming to terms with the space pirate lifestyle.

Now people should know by now how much I love slice-of-life shows but I was expecting a super awesome space shooter show. Instead I got a super awesome comedy space drama. There was a lot less lasers than I was hoping despite all the lasers.

Best Anime of 2012

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

For better or for worse, there are few shows like Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. Going in with no expectations save for a baseline of quality from Brain’s Base, I was shocked by the rapid pacing and slapstick humor of the first episode, especially considering the fact that they were able to insert moments of genuine emotion and a confession.

Though the second episode proceeded just as quickly, the series soon became bogged down by consistent struggle between the clueless yet controlling Haru and studious, stubborn Mizutani (Special commendation must be given to Mizutani, the rare female lead in a romantic comedy who refuses to let herself be controlled by her feelings). However, I soon realized that, while it may not be the most gratifying formula, it holds truth. In most cases, you cannot simply change a person overnight. It takes hard, consistent work to improve and maintain relationships, and people will make stupid mistakes.

Though the show is indeed a romantic comedy, it is also the tale of a group of social outcasts, each with distinctive quirks and issues coming together. Of the ensemble, internet dweller Natsume (especially in the final episodes) steals the show, with specific social worries that I was able to connect with far too well. Take into account a vibrant art style characterized by strong colors, wrap everything into a bow, and you’ve got my anime of the year.

Most Disappointing Anime of 2012

Sword Art Online

It seems fitting that my biggest disappointment of 2012 was, prior to airing, one of my most anticipated shows. From its first episode, Sword Art Online showed amazing promise, plunging viewers into a fascinating virtual realm in which 10,000 trapped players would be forced to clear 100 floors of trials in order to return to the real world. However, as the show went on, troubles began to arise.

A great deal of time was spent on side stories, with the true plot only kicking in long after the first half of the summer season had passed, and in these side stories, one theme was constant: Kirito, the main character, is amazing. Solving most of his troubles with little effort or assistance, Kirito was, in place of an engaging main character, simply a vessel with which viewers could live out an escapist fantasy. Once the awkward romantic subplot involving female lead Asuna was involved, I began to lose even more faith. Formerly a strong female character, Asuna seemed to change into nothing but perfect fantasy waifu-material doting upon Kirito with every moment. Factoring in painfully cloying dialogue between the two and lackluster battle animation held together by an overuse of still shots, and my interest in the series stretched incredibly thin.

Once the Sword Art Online arc had finished, I found no reason to return to the series, which, going by the reaction to the Fairy Dance arc, is one of the best judgments I have made all year.

Best Anime of 2012

Sankarea

This was a fun game arguing back and forth with myself on whether Kokoro Connect, Sankarea, Ano Natsu de Matteru or even Mirai Nikki would take top nods.  All were great shows that grabbed me and while I was leaning towards Kokoro Connect initially, Sankarea won out.

Sankarea was a bit twisted like Mirai Nikki, a bit sweet like Ano Natsu de Matteru and a bit surprising like Kokoro Connect. I guess that’s what I was hoping for this year from a show.  Something a bit surprising.  This tale of necrophiliac love certainly was, but not quite where you expected.  The characters are what made Sankarea a real delight as the show spent so much time fleshing out and making these people truly interesting amongst the craziness of the plot.

There is something compelling about Sankarea and I stumbled upon the show late, but was completely satisfied with how everyone interacted with each other throughout the show. I can’t really say that about too many of the shows I watched this year. I can easily say that about Sankarea. The only downfall I can find is that the father wasn’t destroyed for his crimes, but that’s mostly because I’m a bit unforgiving.  Otherwise, this show was a tasty morsel week in and out and definitely deserved of this honor.

Most Disappointing Anime of 2012

Moyashimon Returns

I went off on Moyashimon Returns in every round up we had for the season and I’ll keep on here. It doesn’t live up to the first season in any shape or form. The removal of Haruka Hasegawa from half of the season really did everything to hurt the show and even when they tried to bring her back in, it just never had any of the passion that the character began with from season 1.

This anime thrived as an ensemble and when you remove one of the strongest elements, it weakens the product overall. A single good episode out of ten doesn’t make for a great anime and unfortunately the show I was most looking forward to getting a sequel never really showed up to entertain me.

Moyashimon Returns isn’t bad per se, but it certainly was disappointing.

Now that we’ve shown you ours, you tell us yours.  This was a fine year for anime and easily the most accessible one to date with sites like Crunchyroll, Funimation and Hulu all picking up the slack and distributing sweet sweet anime to the masses on a timely fashion.  Greatness is to be debated so start typing.

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About Author

(Senior Writer)

I have been gaming for 20 years and have seen this industry go from one geared towards children, to one that has grown to accept all demographics. I've grown up side by side with video games and I've seen it turn into this phenomenon. Of course I also enjoy entertainment in all mediums whether it be film, book or sports. I'm just a huge nerd that loves writing about his hobbies.

  • Rexwolff2

    That Natsume picture that you used at the end was GOLD, my friend. Glad to see some love for my favorite character from the Fall season.

  • Ramminchuck

    Still so, so damn glad I didn’t watch the second half of SAO.

  • disqus_XtEn8AEUw2

    as with every opinion there will be dissenters and in this case I disagree with the SAO view. I had no problem with it and found it enjoyable but I’ll admit my bias also stems from playing mmos which follow a similar style. I would think much has been culled from the light novels but still it was fun without being too heavy.

  • http://twitter.com/redthehaze Red Veron

    Chuunibyou was a great surprise KyoAni after the very disappointing (But very pretty) Hyouka. I watched hyouka and enjoyed it to an extent and loved the ending but trying to get to the end was a very bumpy ride.

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