We’re wrapping up our year end coverage with the list you’ve all been waiting for: The GLORIO Blog’s Top 12 Anime of 2012! Why 12 you ask? We’re participating in the Ani-Bloggers Choice Awards, which you can check out for more Top 12 lists from around the anime community.
For our list we had each of our writers submit their Top 5 choices from the past year. Each list was given a weighted score with #1 choices getting the most points. So clearly our final list is a result of irrefutable MATH and SCIENCE and is 100% accurate. Seriously though, read on and enjoy and feel free to share your own opinion… even if it’s not scientifically proven like ours.
Aquagaze: How exactly Kyousogiga managed to fight its way up to our Top 12 is a mystery to me – but then again, I didn’t expect to ever see any more of this delicious melange of nuts. And here we are. The 2012 incarnation of Toei’s freakshow answered none of the questions the OVA raised, but cranked the charm and lunacy up to eleven. Once more, Kyousogiga‘s cast and setting all seem part of a phenomenal and well-thought out universe — a universe we will probably never fully learn anything substantial about. Kyousogiga could easily run in prime time for 50 episodes straight, but it refuses to do anything that comes even remotely close to conventional. Fake documentary style? Sure! International YouTube streaming? Bring it! Kyousogiga is Toei’s gateway for new talent, a world that is only as big as the imagination of the people who are allowed to work within it. I have the feeling that as long as there are still visionaries at Toei, Kyousogiga will stick around. And I’ll be watching. All that money from toku toys needs to go somewhere.
ItsaTimmy: MGX was quite the unusual affair. It’s really a shame that the hook of the show, the awkward relationship that these two share, was also in part represented by the shows biggest hurdle to anyone watching it. Anyone who was able to tolerate the whole spit thing found themselves witnessing a delightful, albeit very unusual romance. Urabe is quite the tease and couple that with her struggling to overcome her own insecurities and the general mystery that surrounds her throughout the show, she lead us on one hell of a wild ride. I found myself looking forward to watching the show every week and anxiously waiting to see where the show was going to go next. If you were initially turned off by the the spit in the first episode and dropped it because of that, this show is well worth giving a second chance to redeem itself.
Irothtin: Magi doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking, but that’s what makes it good. It’s a straightforward show with a fun setting, a likeable cast, and strong plots. It shows that you don’t have to be too original or too formula to be enjoyable, that you can make it if you have all the components of a good show and can piece them all together juuuust right. It’s still “just” a typical shonen story with a good number of the cliches you’d expect, but it’s made so well that it doesn’t matter. And why would it? Magi isn’t trying to be high art. Just sit back and enjoy the show.
Jel: Nisemonogatari’s biggest failing is that it’s not as good as its predecessor, but being about 75% as good as Bakemonogatari is still very good. Shaft and director Akiyuki Shinbo visually establish an even better looking -monogatari world to play in, and while Nisemono may lack Bakemono’s focused structure it does have a more interesting, unified theme. Series writer NisiOisin uses his oddly specific life observations to explore the nature of what it means to be real or fake, taking us on a strange journey through his own fantasies in the process. It can be weird, funny, sexy, and maybe at times even unsettling, but no matter what it’s always fascinating.
Marlin: It’s no secret that out of all the members of Team Glorio I am, how would you say it, the one most in touch with his feminine side. With the likes of Kimi ni Todoke and Nodame Cantabile in my list of all time favorites I am no stranger to a good romance, and I know ’em when I see ’em. My appreciation was definitely a factor when I placed it in my top 5, but there’s so much more to it than that. My Little Monster, even off the bat, brought a unique and charming story that really abandoned most shoujo cliches. The relationship between Shizuku and Haru isn’t one of perpetual pining or forced awkwardness that litter dime-a-dozen shoujo plots. In fact, within the first few episodes these characters realize how much they care for each other and express it. Instead, the story is one of growth. They both realize they have feelings for the other, but they do not always know the proper way of expressing them. Shizuku’s struggles were in the clash between her school life and her newfound friendships, whereas Haru’s struggles were in understanding boundaries and how to properly express the feelings he has for her. With a good portion of the manga yet to be told, unfortunately this show had to end feeling very incomplete. Despite this, it still was a fantastic story filled with fresh and heartwarming moments.
Dragonzigg: Black Rock Shooter in all of its forms has always been a triumph of style over substance, of huke’s masterly artwork and design tendencies over the absence of any sort of character, plot or identifiable setting. The trick then was always going to be adding some sort of tangible reason to spend time in this world, something which Ordet’s previous OVA had profoundly failed to do. But the studio honed the intriguing concept that that one shot pioneered – that Black Rock Shooter and her fellow characters were analogues of real-world schoolgirls – and with more runtime and superior staff (Toradora! writer Mari Okada, Supercell maestro Ryo, huke himself) turned out a hugely improved effort. Though we expected a looker, it was still a real shock to see the dazzling fights, bold visual design and strong direction that made this a treat for the eyes. The real trick though, was providing a reason to keep watching outside of the visual pyrotechnics, and anchoring the superpowered dueling in an engaging, emotional tale of friendship, jealousy and madness. That Mato, Yomi, Yu et al eventually upstaged their more iconic counterparts was the greatest triumph of this atmospheric, delightfully surreal and surprisingly touching story.
Jel: Hyouka’s appeal can be a mystery (see what I did?) at first. The setting, while beautifully animated, looks old and wooden, the “mysteries” are inconsequential, and the dialogue is thick and measured – all fancy ways of saying “boring”. But then the series builds momentum as we get to know the cast and our Main Man Houtarou evolves into more than just the typical Slacker Protagonist he tries so hard to be. Hyouka takes what look like normal school anime staples on the surface (pool episode, the cultural festival, Valentine’s day) and turns them into character building opportunities, giving us deeper insight into their motivations and dreams. Mature but not cynical, Hyouka delivers its message with a subtle, understated beauty rarely found in television anime.
Aquagaze: There is complete madness and then there is Future Diary. In fact, the only thing even more preposterously insane is the fact that it did not make number #1. While Future Diary happily catapults everything remotely resembling logic and sensible thinking off the face of the planet, it excels at cluster bombing viewers with one ridiculous plot swift after another. In its quest to shock its audience time after time again, Future Diary is very similar to last year’s Puella Magi Madoka Magica – but unlike Shaft’s juggernaut Future Diary never once aspires to be art. With its fascinatingly bonkers characters, orgiastic violence and B-film plot progression, Future Diary is delicious pulp pur sang. Nevertheless, under all the chaotic horror and yanderexploitation – Yes, I totally just made that word up – hides a twisted, but all too human story of how love can be your downfall… and your saving grace.
Marlin: Another was a great show to go in blind about. It captured you with that classic look of darkness and decay that have made Japanese Horror famous. Its story was fantastic in its string of breadcrumbs, never telling too much to ruin the surprise but always enough to keep you hooked. Like Madoka, this is a show that really doesn’t get started until the third episode, where all hell starts to break loose. What starts as merely a supernatural mystery turns into a grim Final Destinationesque story. Instead of a main villian or group being the evil the students have to fight, it is merely an inexorable specter of death. For the majority of the story the heroes are never empowered. In fact, every step they take towards trying to figure out the truth only seems to make things worse. Even the core character dynamic between Mei and Kouichi was incredibly rich. Starting as source of doubt and confusion to Kouichi, once he learns the truth, Mei becomes his rock. Brought together as outcasts, they learn to rely on each other, trust each other and even show hints of a budding romance even among such gruesome spectacle as what occurs throughout the show. Through visceral exploitation and oppressive mystery Another excels at drawing you in and never letting go until the final brutal scene plays through.
Gee-Man: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a very simple tale. It spins a story of a clash between good and evil. There are no moral quandaries or complex motivations. But it’s not the setup that wins us over, it’s the execution. With fabulous poses, hotblooded fights with crazy conclusions, and characters named after classic rock bands, Jojo is a crazy and truly bizarre ride from its very beginning. You don’t watch Jojo because you eagerly anticipate how the plot develops, you watch it because you can’t wait to see what utterly insane thing the characters do next, whether it be shooting laser beams out of their eyes, cross-dressing to sneak into a Nazi base, or simply punching a man so hard he explodes into light. I suppose it’s ironic that an anime based on such an old manga should end up being such a breath of fresh air, but in a time dominated by either cute girls and their shallow antics or overly grim tales with no morally sympathetic characters, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure sets itself apart from the pack.
Lifesong: Sometimes it’s the simple stories that hit closest to home. Chuunibyo managed to spin a cute tale of growing up and dealing with some of the harsher realities of life. The fun of make believe really comes to life as we see the disillusions of these characters animated through their own eyes as they see it themselves. This is all done in a fun way; however, it leaves those watching with questions. Do these characters know the difference between reality and fiction? Are they just running away from reality? Do they just want to believe they are special in a world that places no special meaning on their lives? Why are the characters who abandoned their own fantasies so embarrassed by them? The answer is a refreshingly honest one that will linger on in the hearts and minds of fans long after the final episode.
Irothtin: A secret battle royale, held in the modern day, waged between the spirits of seven legendary heroes – what could go wrong? Plenty, as some are quick to remind me, but while Fate/Zero has its own share of problems, they’re all eclipsed by its positives. Studio UFOtable’s work adapting the series was sensational, with each episode’s technical quality exceeding the last’s, and much of the difficulty in adapting the original text format was overcome spectacularly. The cast was both humanizing and larger than life, with every viewer finding at least one person to latch onto and experience the Holy Grail War with. Urobuchi’s darker take on Nasu’s world was what a lot of people wanted from the start, and I couldn’t have asked for a better anime adaptation. By the end, no matter what you may have thought of Fate/Zero, you have to agree that it was a hell of a ride.
With that we are just about done with our 2012 Anime coverage. It’s been a fun first six months for the GLORIO Blog and we hope you’ll keep reading as we try and get bigger and better in 2013. For now though, let’s give our Top 12 anime finalists one last show of appreciation with the following video: