Looking back at the Spring 2012 anime season

July 17, 2012

As before, now that the Spring 2012 season is over it's once again time for me to take honest look back to go with my early impressions. This is an especially relevant exercise to me this time around due to the strength of the spring season.

Shows that I actively watched (and finished where applicable):

  • Eureka Seven AO: This is the real surprise of the season for me. The show's excellent execution has compulsively pulled me along and turned it into my highest priority show to watch.

    (With recent plot developments I find myself really regretting that I never got around to watching the original Eureka Seven; I suspect that I'm about to absorb a certain amount of spoilers for it and miss a certain amount of stuff.)

  • Lupin III - The Woman Called Mine Fujiko: I predict that this show is going to be polarizing people for years. It had highs and lows and I'll agree that it didn't succeed with everything it tried, but it's still stunning and powerful; its high points were excellent and it hit them quite frequently. Even most of its low points were still quite enjoyable for me. I had no problem with the ending and actually quite liked it; in many ways it's the only answer the show could possibly have given to the question of 'who is Mine Fujiko?'.

    To be clear, I consider this show a significant success overall. Although it was sometimes not as easily entertaining than other shows and it has rough spots, I currently consider it the best show I watched this season.

    (I'm being cautious here because this is the sort of show where my initial feelings sometimes change later, once I have some distance from it. If I don't wind up reconsidering things with more time it'll easily be one of my best N shows of 2012.)

  • Moretsu Pirates: I basically wrote my summary of this for my Winter 2012 retrospective. I will echo a whole lot of other people and say that this is a lightweight SF adventure story. In the end I think it's overly lightweight and thus flawed.

    (I don't think that things need to be grimdark, but ultimately the show never convinced me that Marika was really working for her victories. In the larger picture everything fell into place too easily, although the show managed to make the individual moments dramatic. This really undercut the seriousness of nominally serious situations.)

  • Accel World: I'm continuing to enjoy this as what it is, which is a well executed shonen fighting show. I don't think it's a great show (and it's clearly not to everyone's taste) but I'm consistently liking it.

    (I'll admit that I periodically don't watch it for a couple of weeks and then watch several episodes in a burst.)

  • Fate/Zero: This is technically well executed and fills in the background for Fate/Stay Night but in the end it mostly left me cold. A large part of it is that I wasn't interested in the characters. Another part is the erratic pacing, which didn't improve from the problems of the first season.

    But when Fate/Zero was pretty it was very pretty. Some of the fights were spectacular.

    (The best bits of Fate/Zero were Waver's bits. If FZ had been from Waver's perspective and been focused on his maturation, it would be a much more interesting show. Of course then a lot of Fate fans would have hated it.)

  • Haiyore! Nyaruko-san: As I should have expected, this turned into a reasonably funny but ultimately ordinary magical girlfriend comedy; the periodic horrifying bits of the first episode that gave it a sharp edge disappeared almost immediately. Inertia caused me to watch it all the way through.

Shows I still intend to watch more of:

  • Hyouka (#6): It's beautiful and well done but somehow I haven't had the energy to actually watch it except very occasionally. I really do like it when I do watch it, though.

    (The nasty thing to say about the show is that it's a beautiful shell wrapped around an empty void. I'm not convinced that this view is wrong.)

  • Aquarion EVOL (#17): as I mentioned in my Winter 2012 retrospective, no sooner had I written about why I was still watching it than I stalled out for vague reasons, partly because it was getting plot in the good craziness.

  • Tsuritama (#2): I don't have any reason for having stalled on this; I just did. I want to watch the next episode, just not enough to actually get around to it. It's been praised enough that I do want to continue with it, which may be foolish.

    (I might be better off being honest with myself when I don't find a much-praised show that I was initially very enthused about compelling enough to actually watch more of.)

  • Sankarea (#4): The show is pretty and decent and does interesting things and all of that good stuff, but somehow I don't find it compelling. Maybe this means I should formally abandon it, but the commentary about it I've seen in the ani-sphere keeps making it seem attractive.

    (I stalled out after episode #4 in large part because the ending of the episode left me expecting that the next episode would take a particular boring plot turn, one that I wasn't looking forward to sitting through. It turns out that this is not the case.)

With a relatively busy summer season starting up, watching more of these shows may turn out to be more of an aspiration than an actual plan. Especially since two of these shows that I'm actively watching are continuing in the summer season.

In theory, may watch more of someday:

  • Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (#3): There's nothing wrong with this and a decent amount that's nice, but there wasn't enough in the first three episodes to really hook me. I've already seen plenty of magical girlfriend shows.

Abandoned or dropped:

  • Sakamichi no Apollon (#2): I could flail around and blather about this, but the truth is that it failed to hold my interest enough to get me to watch the third episode. Based on my exposure to bits of commentary about the path the show took, I tacitly decided to abandon it; I'm just not that attracted to an adolescent drama, even one with jazz and good directing.

    I sometimes find myself regretting this. I know it has great moments that I'd enjoy (I've actually recently seen some in Youtube clips that people have shared); the problem is getting to them.

  • Jormungand (#3): The show committed the cardinal sin of spending a large amount of episode 3 on a boring, stupid action sequence involving some new characters mostly made from cardboard. The combination is deadly, especially when the preview for episode four promised more of the same.

    (I was quite disappointed by this development.)

  • Kore wa Zombie Desu? of the Dead (#2): In the end I thought that this continuation was okay and decently entertaining but not necessary. The first season said enough and I had other things to watch and do this time around.

  • Zetman (#2): Bleah. After two episodes, something about this had thoroughly rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't just find it boringly generic, I actively disliked it and didn't want to watch more.

I'm certain that someone, somewhere, has put forward the aphorism that in practice your priorities are shown not by what you say they are but what you actually do. This season made a nice illustration of that, as what shows (and how many of them) I wound up watching were (shall we say) somewhat different than what I put forward in my initial brief views. Particularly striking is that basically all of the 'artistic' shows I thought I was going to follow got stalled or dropped; what I actually watched was almost all action shows. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'd certainly like to think that I'm the kind of anime watcher who enjoys things other than (often brainless) action shows, but the evidence on that is a bit scanty right now.

(The counter argument is that it's not as if I didn't try out other shows at all. Forcing myself to watch shows that I don't genuinely like and feel enthused about is just stupid, even if they're objectively good or theoretically broadening my horizons. Still, people like Author keep making things like AKB0048 and Tari Tari sound attractive.)

I'm not sure how to score this past season with my standard metric, partly because I avoided trying to figure out what shows I was likely to actively follow in my early impressions (if I had any private ideas about that at the time, I've since forgotten them since I didn't write them down). I kind of consider several abandoned or stalled shows to be failures but that's partly because they're shows that everyone says are pretty good.

Written on 17 July 2012.
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Last modified: Tue Jul 17 17:19:23 2012
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