The best N anime that I saw in 2012

March 3, 2013

This is much like last year's best N, namely what I consider to be the best or the most enjoyable N anime that I saw in calendar 2012 (regardless of when they were made or released). This is much more delayed than usual for various reasons, including that nothing that finished in calendar 2012 really set me on fire the way shows have in past years. I was also trying to make up my mind about how to handle the strong crop of fall 2012 shows that haven't finished yet. In the end I've decided to declare unfinished shows ineligible at least for 2012.

(This is a real pity as it takes out a number of strong shows, one of them (Girls und Panzer) only because they didn't manage to get two episodes finished in time to air them as scheduled.)

More or less in order, at least at the start:

  • Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita: Subtle and clever but also in your face obvious, biting yet with a heart, Jinrui is not really an accessible show but I love it anyways because in the end it made me think. I've written lots more that I'm not going to try to repeat.

  • Wasurenagumo: This is a short bit of very well executed cute horror with a disturbing ending that only gets worse the more you think about it. If you squint at this carefully you can see a classical tragedy underneath. It has absolutely no blood and is by far the better for it.

  • Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna: Ambitious, different, and not entirely successful but still a journey that was worth it; it helps that its high points were excellent. In the end it gave us the only answer to 'who is Mine Fujiko' that was really possible. (See also.)

  • K: It's difficult for me to condense the appeal of K down to a few words. In the end I think I like it so much because it hits the mark so well and so often in its short run, and it makes everything fit together without feeling artificial. It's the rare show that is exactly the right length.

    I wrote a bunch more words about it in my fall retrospective.

  • Giant Robo: This is a deserved classic that has a lot going for it. I think it's good and well worth your time, but in the end it didn't entirely click for me; I found myself questioning things about it that I shouldn't have been if it had fully swallowed me up in its magic. Perhaps I am too old and too cynical to really appreciate it.

Shows that I consider good but not memorable over the long term:

  • Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror: A nice movie in the general Ghibli line of 'kid has encounter with the supernatural'; you should not be put off by the use of basic 3-D rendering.

  • Hotarubi no Mori e: Touching and bittersweet. I think it's just the right length for its story.

  • Ano Natsu de Matteru: I enjoyed watching this and it's a worthy successor or sequel (depending on your views) to the old Onegai series. But I have no urge to rewatch either them or this.

  • Campione!: I think that this is better than it was generally given credit for; it had several interesting novel aspects and things that we rarely see. But it was not so novel and so well executed as to lift it out of the 'good but not memorable' class. (See also.)

  • Moretsu Pirates: This was enjoyable and good but in the end there it didn't have enough substance to make it really memorable. That it didn't really come to any sort of conclusion didn't really help. (See also and also.)

  • Aquarion EVOL: Gonzo and crazy in the best way and it has an epic troll in episode 23. But everything else is a bit lacking, which means that it has no actual depth; the entire point is the crazyness. This may be worth watching once but I don't think there's anything there for a second visit. (See also.)

  • Dantalian no Shoka OVA: As time goes by it becomes clearer and clearer that Dantalian has wormed its way into my heart somehow; I have an unreasonable affection for it and wish I could see more. Seeing this OVA tugged at my heartstrings and left me as wistful as I expected.

I wish that I could put Dog Days' into this list with a clear conscience, but I can't because nothing happened in it. I'm not so enamoured of the setting and characters that I was really happy to have watched thirteen episodes of nothing much.

Things that were enjoyable fun and that I want to throw into this entry for various reasons without saying very much about:

  • Moyashimon Returns: This isn't as memorable as the original series but that's not because this isn't good, it's because the original series was so relatively crazy.

  • The Princess and the Pilot: A good adventure movie with a bunch of interesting flying.

  • Hoshi o Ou Kodomo: Movies are spectacles in a way that TV anime is often not. This doesn't have a really deep and complex story, but it does things well.

Although I saw A Letter to Momo this year I don't think it's good enough to make this list.

(I find it a bit hard to figure out where to place movies in this sort of end of year list. Movies are almost invariably much better made and more interesting than four or five episodes of TV anime, so how do I really evaluate their merits properly?)

In the end I completed 28 series and movies this year. To my surprise this is only slightly less than the 30 from last year; before I actually got these numbers I thought that my watching was way down. I do think that I watched more movies this year than usual (if I'm counting right, six).

Written on 03 March 2013.
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