Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 Anime Report: The Best List

I haven't really watched that many series this year so this list might be a little bit skewed. Moreover, I totally stopped watching anime the whole summer and only really started picking up in time for the fall season. There are many series that I was very enthusiastic about at first but eventually dropped for one reason or another. In any event, this list has a very narrow range: 2011-2012 Winter up to 2012 Fall seasons with a huge gap where 2012 Summer should be.

On a side-note, it's this blog's birthday. Exactly 5 years ago, or on December 7, 2007, this blog was created. :)

Now, on to the list....

Most Highly Anticipated Series

As soon as I saw the promo poster for Sakamichi no Apollon, I had high hopes this was going to be a beautiful series. Plus, the pedigree involved (Watanabe Shinichirou and Yoko Kanno). By the time the trailer came out and I heard the first jazz note, I was a goner. The visuals are just stunning and I loved the music, the setting, the characters, the premise right from the onset. 

Best First Episode

I came into this series with very high expectations and the first episode really delivered. I loved how the show immediately focused on the friendship between Sen and Kaoru, which is the series' selling point. But what I loved best about the first episode was the impromptu jamming session by the boys where you could actually hear Kaoru's initial hesitation and the freeing effect that jazz music has done for him. It was just beautiful.

Best Finale

This show wasn't as great as I'd hoped but it did unveil a neat twist at the end. For me, that's what saved Another from being another lackluster dark anime ambition. That and because there's really nothing better than having tons of characters die in just the span of one or two episodes.

Best Randomly Picked Series

(No runners-up)

This was the only show that I randomly picked up for the entire 2012 season. Ha-ha. And I'm very glad I did. Space Brotherswas one of the better shows that came out this year and it's still running. The sheer amount of episodes and my still watching this series should attest to how much I'm enjoying this show. I never watch anime that go beyond the 26-episode mark. This is an exception.

Favorite Female Character

(RUNNERS-UP: Svetlana Belikova [RE: Damnation], Mizutani Shizuku [Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun], Mine Fujiko [Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna])

Ada Wong isn't my favorite female character from the Resident Evil franchise. That singular title belongs to Jill Valentine. However, I've always liked the lady in red, mainly because of the ambiguity of her allegiance and the sexual tension she has with Leon. And then this movie came out and I was just...WOW. That knife fight has gotta be one of the hottest fight scenes I've ever seen.

Favorite Male Character

Nanba Mutta [Space Brothers]
(RUNNERS-UP: Nanba Hibito [Space Brothers], Leon S. Kennedy [RE: Damnation], Sasha [RE: Damnation], Nishimi Kaoru [Sakamichi no Apollon])

As a twenty-something girl who is among the rank of the plebes, I can relate very much to Mutta. I don't have any younger sibling but I do have older ones and they're all variedly stable in their respective lives. Mutta's insecurities are my insecurities and I have dreams that I don't even know how to begin to make them come true. Some days I'm just barely hanging on. Others, I feel very motivated. I'm just like Mutta, taking it one step at a time, perhaps stumbling along the way but picking myself up and trudging on.

Favorite Villain

(RUNNERS-UP: Karen Low [Jormungand], Orchestra [Jormungand], Svetlana Belikova [RE: Damnation], Makishima [Psycho-Pass])

An eclectic mix of murderers and psychopaths, no one can beat Shishio's "Ten Swords" in terms of villainy.

Funniest Character

Nanba Mutta [Space Brothers]
(RUNNERS-UP: Nyanko-sensei [Natsume Yuujin-chou Shi], Sofia Valmet [Jormungand], Hitagi Senjougahara [Nisemonogatari])

Unlike many characters in "comedy" series who are funny because of what they say or their antics, Mutta is just naturally funny. I mean, you look at him and you just know that he's a funny guy. 

Saddest Character

Sakakibara Kouichi [Another]
(RUNNERS-UP: Kawabuchi Sentarou [Sakamichi no Apollon], Mizutani Shizuku [Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun], Sasha Kozachenko [RE: Damnation], Natsume Takashi [Natsume Yuujin-chou Shi])

Kouichi lost his mom when he was only a boy, something that still haunts him. His father is in a far away country. And his aunt, who looked a lot like his mom and has therefore become his surrogate mom, turns out to be not quite alive. Yes, Kouichi is a sad character, alright.

Coolest Character

Kogami Shinya [Psycho-Pass]
(RUNNERS-UP: Kawabuchi Sentarou [Sakamichi no Apollon], Saitou Hajime [RK: Shin Kyoto Hen] Sofia Valmet [Jormungand], Kunizuka Yayoi [Psycho-Pass], Katsuragi Junichi [Sakamichi no Apollon])

I mean look at him. He's like Spike Spiegel's spiritual successor, without the martial arts, less of the pathos and more on the rage. His mortal enemy even has white hair. Kogami Shinya, you are one cool dude.

Favorite Het Couple

Yoshida Haru x Mizutani Shizuku [Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun]
(RUNNERS-UP: Nishimi Kaoru x Mukae Ritsuko [Sakamichi no Apollon] Araragi Koyomi x Hitagi Senjougahara [Nisemonogatari])

I just find them cute, okay? I love their blunt honesty, how they always say what they mean and mean what they say. I love that they approach their relationship problems head on. I love that they are such perfect foils for each other -- Shizuku with her reserve and Yoshida with his expansiveness. I love that their more romantic interactions make me feel giddy inside. It has been awhile since I felt anything like this from a canon pairing. They are the reason why I love this series.

Favorite Slash Couple

Karanomori Shion x Kunizuka Yayoi [Psycho-Pass]
(RUNNER-UP: Watanabe Saki x Akizuki Maria [Shin Sekai Yori])

I believe with all my heart that these two are a couple. I mean, there was that very telling episode with Yayoi, fixing her tie as she is coming out of Shion's lab just as Akane is coming in and catching Shion putting on her pantyhose. lolz Plus the fact that Yayoi seems to be always hanging out in Shion's lab. Surely, these aren't all just coincidence.

Favorite Crack Couple

Nanba Mutta x Itou Serika [Space Brothers]
(RUNNERS-UP: Leon S. Kennedy x Ada Wong [RE: Damnation], Karen Low x Sofia Valmet [Jormungand])

I hope these two are going to end up together. At the moment, we're clear on Mutta's crush on Serika but not so sure whether the feeling is mutual. Still, these are my crack couple at the moment and I always look forward to each scene of them together.

Best Dark Series

(RUNNERS-UP: Another, Shin Sekai Yori)

If the execution of Another was better handled, it would have easily won this category. Dark, brooding characters? Check. Futuristic society with dark underpinnings of dystopia? Check. Brutal murders? Check. Mysterious, unrelentless villain? Check. Lots and lots of pathos? Check. It looks like Psycho-Pass wins this round, easy.

Best Comedy Series
(RUNNERS-UP: Jormungand, Space Brothers)

A lot of the antics of this show revolves around the main characters' quirks. Yoshida is violent but is an animal-lover. He has a pet rooster (which is actually a hen), named Nagoya. For some reason, he is afraid of his brother and will go to extremes just to get away from him. Shizuku has virtually no interest apart from studying. Her coldness and other people's reaction to it are a source of consternation and hilarity. Yamaken is rich, handsome and popular but has a bad sense of direction and is too proud to admit it. These characters interactions, plus the usual school tropes, make for a fun show that is reminiscent of Toradora!

Best Drama Series

The series had to win at something. Even though Sakamichi no Apollon comes at a close second, Natsume  is just better in terms of handling drama. This show is gentle and just takes its own leisurely pace but when it does get to that point, the emotional impact will surprise you. At one point, I teared up over this series. That's how good it is at handling emotional scenes.

Best Action Series

This is like Black Lagoon light. The stories of Jormungand are nothing but the mayhem that happens every other episode is nothing short of fantastic. Truly, there is nothing more thrilling than traveling with an arms dealer.

Best Romance Series

Sakamichi no Apollon does not win this round because that series is more about the friendship between Sen and Kaoru than a love story. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is unabashedly about a romantic couple and the only other romance series in the running is Sukitte Ii na Yo, which I abhorred on first viewing, so that leaves only this. This is both a default win and a deserving win because I do enjoy the romance in this title.

Best Production Value

It's by Production I.G. What else do you expect? Overall, the series just looks really good from its character designs to its color pallet and its excellent use of CGI. Even the music is good and I loved both the OP and ED animation sequences.

Best Opening Theme

BTOOOM! ["No Pain, No Game" by Nano]
(RUNNER-UP: Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna ["New Wuthering Heights" by Ichiko Hashimoto])

The tune is forgettable but every time I watch an episode and don't skip the opening credits, I find myself enjoying this song. 

Best Ending Theme

Sakamichi no Apollon ["Altair" by Motohiro Hata]
(RUNNER-UP: BTOOOM! ["Aozara" by May'n])

Piano solo. Nuff said.

Best BGM

Yoko Kanno. Jazz. Eargasm.

Best Ensemble Cast

They're just cool and like sex in black and white. Film noir with a sci-fi twist. And radiating danger like no tomorrow. The minute Kogami and Shion showed up on my screen.... AND OVARIES EXPLODE.

Best Art

The most stylistic outing this year, Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna took me by surprise because I honestly did not expect the art vomit. It is so visually stunning and eye-candy and so very, very different from everything else this year, I just can't find any comparison.

Best Character Design

(RUNNER-UP: Space Brothers )

Nothing beats a classic.

Best Storytelling

Perhaps because it has the advantage of spanning over several episodes. I don't really know how many episodes this is going to be but I'm not paying attention. I'm just here for the ride. That and because the story of Mutta and Hibito is that compelling.

Anime Series of the Year

This series for me is the most complete. It had a very good story, told really well, peopled by wonderful, well-developed characters with music that is to die for and visuals that are just gorgeous.