Best of 2012 – Anime

Is it me or is anime getting weirder?  This year we had magical drool, a polar bear-run cafe, fighting with a skateboard, and girls learning how to operate assault rifles and tanks in school.  Nevertheless, I came across a few enjoyable series, and picking my favorite turned out to be a big challenge.  Do I go with the unique idea (Thermae Romae), the technical masterpiece (Kids on the Slope), or the heartstring tugger (Say “I Love You”)?  Read on to find out.

NOTE: This recap may contain spoilers!

Best scene – Kaoru and Sentaro’s reunion jam (Kids on the Slope)
Whenever the two of them start playing jazz, it’s magic.  This scene definitely proved it while bringing everything full circle.  I won’t spoil the unique setting, but it was unexpected and made the scene more fun to watch.

Best theme – “En Otoko. -Adiós-” by ADAPTER (Brave 10)
I hate really obvious autotune and vocal distortions, but the shamisen in this song was awesome enough to make me overcome that bias.  The use of a traditional instrument in an electronic rock song is a perfect fit for the Sengoku Era fantasy.

Best voice acting – Takahiro Sakurai as Izumo Kusanagi (K)
I wish I was able to find the seiyuu for the American character in episode 1 that spoke the best English, but the second best would probably still be my top pick for how many character I recognized in Sakurai’s 2012 body of work.  Izumo Kusanagi just stood out for the range in pitch and emotions he covered. 

Cosplay this series if you want to be cool – Puella Magi Madoka Magica
AM12 cosplay contest6
Sparkle Pipsi and Rynn (second and third from the left) as Madoka characters
Non-anime cosplays have been dominating the con scene so it was hard to pick an anime that stood out.  Madoka seemed to be a favorite among advanced cosplayers (notably the judges at the cons I attended).

Line we like to repeat – “I update my blog where I please!” (Fleur Blanc, Eureka Seven: AO)
This is something I’d say in real life if I had an iPad or a smart phone.  All of us bloggers should aspire to be like Fleur who finds time to update despite having to pilot and maintain an IFO.

Most egregious fanservice – Neko in K
If the impractically short skirts, butt shots, and homoeroticism wasn’t enough, K gave us Neko, a curvaceous catgirl who does not like to wear clothes and often gets in positions that the Hawkeye Initiative likes to mock.

Most overrated series – Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean
This sequel made me realize how much of my love for Eureka Seven lied in the sky-surfing mecha and the romance between various characters.  Without either, Eureka Seven: AO fell flat.  Plus the ending was more frustrating than a convoluted Steven Moffat plot.

Most ridiculous premise – Upotte!!
Girls learning how to shoot guns who are actually personifications of the guns themselves?  It’s best to not think too hard lest you start realizing what “pulling the trigger” means.  A part of me is convinced that the NRA is behind this series; I’ve learned more about assault rifles in one episode than I have my entire life.

Anime of the year – Thermae Romae
thermaeromaetheslave_zps572421af
I decided to go with Thermae Romae because it connected two very different cultures (ancient Rome and Japan) with a simple pleasure: hot baths.  Although the animation seemed low budget, it was a clever breath of fresh air from the too pretty with little substance works.  It even had a couple of meta references!

Most anticipated series for 2013 – Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon was the first American dub I watched, and it’s both a classic and a very progressive series.  A remake is going to appeal to people like me who grew up wishing they were a Sailor Scout, as well as the current generation who will be reminded of one of the original magical girl series.  I’m interested in seeing how Sailor Moon will evolve.

Character Superlatives

  • Best Dressed – Bainas (Ozma)
  • Best Eyes – Maya (Ozma)
  • Best Hair – Megumi Kitagawa (Say “I Love You”)
  • Best Legs – Yamato Kurosawa (Say “I Love You”)
  • Best Smile – Tatara Totsuka (K)
  • Biggest Flirt – Yuri Kamanosuke (Brave 10)
  • Class Clown – Ichiyon (Upotte!!)
  • Cutest Couple – Mei Tachibana and Yamato Kurosawa (Say “I Love You”)
  • Friendliest – Ritsuko Mukae (Kids on the Slope)
  • Most Athletic – Misaki Yata (K)
  • Most Likely to Succeed… in Taking Over the World – Ao (Eureka Seven: AO)
  • Most Spirited – Gazelle (Eureka Seven: AO)
  • Most Talented… with a Weapon – Sig (Upotte!!)

Sukitte-Ii-Na-Yo_zpsfedac205, From http://www.sutoraikuanime.com
Our cutest couple winners have a relationship that really hits close to home for me.  Also, Yamato gets best legs for the sheer amount of running around town he did.

Members of the anime and manga industry who will be missed in 2013:

  • Sayuri Yamauchi – Lady Une (Gundam Wing), “Twilight” Suzuka (Outlaw Star)
  • Noboru Ishiguro – director of Legend of Galactic Heroes
  • Takeshi Aono – Shiro Sana (Space Battleship Yamato), Sugoroku Mutou (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
    Shuichi Higurashi – cover artist for Big Comic
  • Yugo Sako – director of Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama
  • Susumu Ishikawa – Puss ‘n Boots (Puss ‘n Boots)
  • Mitsunoko Mori – Hii-sama (Princess Mononoke)
  • Keiji Nakazawa – mangaka of Barefoot Gen
  • Takashi Taniguchi – Harry Anders (Hellsing), Montblanc Cricket (One Piece)

Listening to: “Furisodeshon” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

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