On a fateful day in July 2012, we created our first post. Shoujo Hitler was bad, but much worse was our first impressions of the anime adaptation of Kingdom that went up shortly thereafter. It’s five years later and anime is still bad, but somehow someway we are still here, carrying out our solemn duty to warn you about it. Yay us!
To commemorate this special occasion, we thought about doing a “best of” series but we pretty much have that covered with our annual lists and our top 10 Best Anime of the Decade. So instead we decided to relive our favorite part of forcing ourselves to watch every anime that ever comes out: the surprises. Just about every season a show or two pops up out of nowhere and turns out to be pretty good, and we wanted to give a shout out to a few you might of missed. To start, we’ll be taking a look at 2012 and 2013. Let us know your favorites, and if you think we missed something feel free to make some shout outs of your own.
Humanity Has Declined
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
Light Novel Adaptation by AIC ASTA
Director: Seiji Kishi
Air Dates: July 2 – September 17, 2012
In a post-post apocalyptic Earth, a young woman acts as a mediator between humans and the fairies who now control the planet.
Jel: Humanity Has Declined is a cautionary tale about what could happen if we lose touch with our imagination and creativity and give in to our frivolous, wasteful nature. The sharp and heavy social and political commentary makes for a delicious contrast against the bright pastel colors and child like innocence of the fairies, creating a disturbing and beautiful mess that is totally worth a look. Watching the shocking first two episodes is one of our earliest and best shared experiences as a group and to this day still one of the most brilliant bits of anime I’ve seen in the past five years. Rest in peace Loaf-chan, we will never forget you.
Good Luck Girl!
Manga Adaptation by Sunrise
Director: Yoichi Fujita
Air Dates: July 4 – September 26, 2012
A stuck up rich girl is so lucky that a misfortune god is sent to her home to knock her down a peg.
Jel: For the past five years I’ve been trying to convince people to look past the boob jokes and bad popular anime references used to sell this show and give it the chance it deserves. The quick and easy sell is the director, Yoichi Fujita, who was known at the time for his previous work on the tremendously popular Gintama and went on to make the also tremendously popular Mr. Osomatsu (and shout out to less popular Classicaloid) a few years later. His finger prints are all over this, so if you like those shows you will most likely enjoy this as well.
Of course at the time I had no idea who Mr. Fujita was and was simply blindsided by this ridiculous comedy with a lot of heart. Beneath the surface of the loud, irreverent humor is a surprisingly sweet story about a lonely, sheltered girl learning how to make friends. Leading lady Ichiko is no shrinking violet though, she’s a force of nature capable of driving the show through both the silly and the serious moments. Go check it out.
Light Novel Adaptation by Silver Link
Director: Shin Onuma
Air Dates: July 8 – September 20, 2012
Five friends get caught up in a strange phenomenon where they switch bodies, the first of several events that drastically changes their lives.
Jel: Personally I’m conflicted as to how good Kokoro Connect actually is, but it certainly did take us by surprise. I don’t think any one expected it to be so deadly serious, using it’s supernatural hook to dive into all the anxiety and self doubt that makes being a teenage so much fun. The anime will probably always be remembered for its shocking honesty, but it also manages to do a decent job of telling stories about love and friendship in its own unique way.
Ixion Saga DT
Game Adaptation by Brains Base
Director: Shinji Takamatsu
Air Dates: October 6, 2012 – March 30, 2013
A loser who does nothing but plays games all day is tricked into saving an alternate world, one kick to the balls at a time.
Jel: I appreciate Ixion Saga even more after watching the similarly themed hit KONOSUBA in that it never, ever becomes what it is trying to poke fun at. It completely disrespects the “trapped in another world” genre as well as good taste, common sense, and general human intelligence. Seriously, toward the end the main character channels his immaturity into a literal, physical weapon. Normally I would hate that kind of thing, but the show is never truly mean spirited or cynical, essentially sending the message that people are fun and cool and you should probably stop playing games and get out more. An odd message for a game adaptation for sure, but clearly no one at Capcom ever watched this.
One thing that did bother me looking back is the show features a character who is explicitly identified as transgender. While I’m not in the position to make this call, I personally think it handles the topic pretty well (see episode 5) for a dumb anime comedy. As for me however, I was extremely ignorant five years ago when I was writing about the show so I may have made a few offensive jokes about it. Apologies to anyone who might go back and read the old posts, I’ve learned a lot since then and I didn’t want that to go unsaid.
Manga Adaptation by AIC Classic
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Air Dates: January 11 – March 29, 2013
A girl who has struggled with her ability to read minds finds a group of friends to support her.
Jel: Some horrible promo art and incredibly misleading descriptions set up Kotoura-san for having arguably the most shocking first episode in GLORIO history. We were all expecting a dumb, pervy anime comedy and in the first five minutes we we see a little girl struggle through her parents divorce and her mother abandoning her. Sounds fun, right? The show does take a more realistic approach to the consequences of giving mind reading powers to a child, but fortunately it’s not all heavy drama. In fact, the show is mostly light and silly as Kotoura makes friends and becomes more comfortable with herself. It’s a very satisfying healing process to watch, anchored by one of the most adorable romances ever animated. I think a lot of people missed out on this hidden gem, so please give it a look.
Manga Adaptation by Doga Kobo
Director: Keitaro Motonaga
Air Dates: April 4 – September 19, 2013
A team of young military cadets are given experimental new mecha to combat an alien invasion.
Iro: Majestic Prince follows all the mecha cliches to the letter, but it does so with a wink and a nod. There’s at least a cursory explanation for everything you write off as a contrivance for the sake of having a robot show, a sly joke every time the show seems to be taking its own plot a bit too seriously. Nothing breaks any ground (save for perhaps the best CG robot fights we’ve yet seen in anime, fast paced and wild), but every aspect of the show is produced with a confident competence, which is more than could be said for the other mecha shows at the time. It’s a perfectly fine show, and I look back upon it fondly.
Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3
Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Kotou-ka C3-bu
Manga Adaptation by Gainax
Director: Masayoshi Kawajiri
Air Dates: July 4 – September 26, 2013
A transfer student is recruited by the school’s airsoft club and then GAINAAAAAAX!
Jel: We’ve all seen the “new girl gets convinced to join weird club” setup a billion times and it seemed like C3-bu was not going to be much different. Then episode 4 happened and all bets were off. After a possible supernatural experience (???) our sweet, innocent transfer student goes through a shockingly serious transformation, the rest of which I’d rather not spoil for anyone interested. Was C3-bu actually good? Maybe not, but it sure was fascinating to watch and sadly may go down as the last gasp of creative freedom from legendary studio GAINAX. Rest in peace.
Manga Adaptation by Doga Kobo
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Air Dates: July 5 – September 27, 2013
The two most popular girls in school (and their body pillow friend) form a club devoted to researching the art of falling in love.
Jel: Love Lab is the perfect example of how good execution can make anything good. There’s almost nothing to it on paper but with some likable characters, superb animation, and impeccable comedic timing it worked its way to #2 on on our best shows of 2013. It’s hard to explain Love Lab’s charm in words, but it helps that the girls never play too much to their stereotypes and they’re never sexualized, making it feel like an actual group of friends and not a collection of creepy otaku voyeur bait you might expect with a show like this. There’s also some *gasp* actual plot progression! If you’re still not convinced, just look at these GIFs then go watch it.
Light Novel Adaptation by J.C. Staff
Director: Chiaki Kon
Air Dates: October 3, 2013 – March 27, 2014
A young man loses his memory shortly after graduating high school but decides to attempt going to college.
Jel: OK I’ll admit I’m cheating a bit because Golden Time’s pedigree did clue us in that it might be good. I just don’t think it got the attention it deserved so I’m bringing it up. Written by the same author and sharing the same anime staff as RomCom classic Toradora, I actually had pretty high expectations that I personally think were met. Set in college with some supernatural elements, it’s a very different than it’s predecessor and yet they share the same core strengths: strong, self aware characters, roller coaster relationships that actually go places, and the occasional deep conversation between good friends. It’s the perfect antidote for anyone who wants an anime love story but is sick to death of high school. Give it a try, and see if you hate Amnesia Ghost as much as we do (Iro’s Note: Fuck that guy).
Light Novel Adaptation by Satelight (Season 1), Studio Deen (Season 2)
Director: Shinji Ishihara
Air Dates: October 5, 2013 – March 22, 2014 (Season 1), October 4, 2014 – March 28, 2015 (Season 2)
Thousands of people are magically transported into the world of their favorite MMORPG, where the game’s rules are physical laws.
Iro: Yeah, it’s another trapped-in-a-video-game isekai story, but taken to its logical conclusion in an entirely different way from its contemporaries. The MMO in Log Horizon has been out for nearly a decade, and most of those trapped therein are veterans, intimately familiar with the game’s workings. What grand adventures are there to be had when you’ve already experienced them all? Instead, Log Horizon focuses on how the characters cope with their new circumstances and the methods by which they cobble together a functional society in a world governed by skills, stats, and items. No other show has made purchasing property or signing a contract so damn exciting.