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Anime of the Year 2012

Happy New Year everyone! To kick off 2013 I’m going to start by looking back on the past year and highlighting my favorite titles for 2012.  And just to make things clear, series that are currently airing and won’t finish until the end of the winter 2013 season are not candidates for this list. Those anime will have their chance at Anime of the Year come 2014. With that explanation out of the way, here we go!

Yuuta saves Rikka5. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai

A very original premise, beautiful art style, insightful plot points and kind, fun-loving characters give this series a serious charm that’s rarely seen in a romantic comedy.



Tsumiki gives Io Valentine chocolate4. Acchi Kocchi

A bucketful of smiles and laughs.  Adorable girls, suave guys, awesome punchlines and heartwarming youth solidifies this as the Moe Anime of the Year.



Chitanda is always dragging Oreki around3. Hyouka

Enrapturing characters, an endless flow of intriguing conundrums and just enough tension to keep everyone on their toes means that we’ve finally been treated to a mystery series done right.


Silver Crow finishes his final battle with Dusk Taker.2. Accel World

With its daring character designs combined with fast-paced action that rewards tactical prowess over pure physical might and deep, multifaceted antagonists—I proclaim this to be Action Anime of the Year.


Mato pushes past the pain and won't abandon her friends1. Black Rock Shooter

In a word?  Concise.  Not a shred of excess.  It has beautiful music, mold-breaking storytelling methodology, a sharp and original art style and a cast of talented voice actresses.  There was never any doubt in my mind that Black Rock Shooter deserves the title Anime of the Year.


Acchi Kocchi (review)

Impression – a dance of love and comedy in a moe candy shell (9/10)

Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Here and There)

Tsumiki has a huge crush on her naturally gentle, gentlemanly to a fault, nice guy classmate, Io.  However, her shy, tsundere personality prevents her from confessing her gushing love for this paragon of a man; whose only shortcoming is being a little slow on the uptake around his diminutive, female cling on.  But Tsumiki takes this all in good grace because despite wanting more from their relationship, it’s enough to keep her satisfied for now.  She even has a cheering section consisting of mad scientist Mayoi, the plucky and innocent Hime and Io’s good buddy, Sakaki.  But while their assistance is usually appreciated, Tsumiki wants to win Io’s heart on her own.

One of the best measures of any comedy is its ability to put a funny spin on real things its audience can relate to.  Another method is to occasionally be ridiculous in stark contrast to a generally serious premise.  Acchi Kocchi manages to do both, creating some incredibly high highs balanced by a very solid framework of friendship and unrequited love.  The series has a great many awww moments that never feel too sugary or forced and empty.  Aside from a couple of punchlines that feel a little flat, the rest of the anime is very genuine.  Each character has a purposeful role to play and feels necessary without ever being overbearing.

What impresses me greatly is the integration of male characters into this series that have real personalities instead of dry, formulaic clichés that serve no other purpose than to feed the ladies’ ambitions.  Io in particular is one of the most naturally suave and likeable characters I’ve ever seen.  Even his flaws add to the remarkable depth of his cool personality and it’s very clear why he’s a natural fit as the kind of person a large group of friends tend to gravitate around.

I was very worried at first that this series would be another one of those boring love triangles that make you want to rip your hair out for the characters’ inability to be honest with themselves.  And while there’s more than a few moments when a bit more honesty could have moved Io and Tsumiki’s relationship to the next level, it never stops being fun or lacking in creativity.  Acchi Kocchi isn’t just enjoyable to watch, it knows how to simply enjoy the moment and cherish the little things—a precious gem of writing that should not be taken for granted—and then poke fun at said little things.

What sets Acchi Kocchi apart from most other moe anime is its incredibly balanced formula that mixes comedy and romance into a seamless package of goodness.  A must-watch for moe fans such as myself; I think it could also appeal to the tastes of anyone who is interested in a funny drama with really good writing, absolutely no ecchi and complimentary friendships.

Anime of the Week (6/24 – 6/30)

Anime of the Week – Accel World
This series is really making a reputation for itself as a top-notch shounen / action anime. A generous dose of science fiction, a dash of the supernatural, some hints of romance, a sprinking of philosophy and just enough comedy have created a winning formula.
June 24 Fate/Zero Ep. 25 What an utter, inane, pointless, rubbish ending. Easily one of the most disappointing anime I’ve ever watched.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 11 The jokes were really hitting their marks this time. I love it that the topics are usually things I can relate to.
June 26 Hyouka Ep. 11 Just when I thought this mystery was sewn up, it goes and gets torn open again. I feel I’m loosing some of the pieces, too.
June 27 Eureka AO Ep. 10 I like these kinds of twists where the older leadership gets turned on its head in favor of younger, more creative minds.
Tasogare Otome Ep. 12 I was worried this serious ending would feel weird compared to the rest of the series. But my fears were unfounded.
June 28 Jormungand Ep. 12 This season finale was in too much of a hurry to wrap things up. That’s a shame because there’s another season coming.
June 29 Accel World Ep. 12 Those who seek power must be careful. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but it rocks absolutely, too.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 12 I feel like this series was a profound lesson about innocent romance coated in a sweet shell of delicious moe comedy.
Sankarea Ep. 12 Since this series is presumably going to get wrapped up in its OVAs, this season finale seems to be building up to that end.
June 30 Eureka AO Ep. 11 I really like these complicated spy vs counter spy entanglements that leave you wondering whose side everyone is on.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (6/10 – 6/16)

Anime of the Week – Jormungand
Koko’s foresight and ability to read people adds terrific depth to her character and is a complement to some well-thought action scenes and perfectly-timed comedic moments.                                
June 11 Fate/Zero Ep. 23 Between characters with inconsistent personalities and stupid one-upmanship fights there’s no shortage of bad writing.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 10 It’s a little unseasonal to have a Christmas episode this time of year. But that doesn’t detract from the charm.
Kore wa Zombie 2 Ep. 4 The first season had a wacky story, but it was definitely going someplace. This is completely aimless and boring.
Tasogare Otome Ep. 10 The first-person POV animation style of this episode really sells the effect of experiencing someone else’s memories.
Medaka Box Ep. 5 I’m impressed by how well many anime from this season are finding good twists to put on stereotypical fanservice themes.
June 12 Hyouka Ep. 8 It seems the classics club is gaining a reputation for solving mysteries. I can sympathize with Oreki’s dislike of summer.
June 13 Jormungand Ep. 10 I love how Koko can request a huge piece of artillery with the same tone of voice as a child asking for an ice cream cone.
June 15 Sankarea Ep. 0 The cryptic tone of fate that fills this simple prequel has a naturalness to it that epitomizes everyone’s personality.
Sankarea Ep. 9 This break from the action of the main story feels misplaced. But it was a nice bit of insight into Mero’s dry personality.
June 16 Accel World Ep. 10 Seeing the full game world of Brain Burst is a real eye-opener. Aging mentally but not physically must be incredible.
Sankarea Ep. 10 Danichirou is the overprotective father of daughters’ nightmares. His blind devotion has even broken his neglected wife.
Eureka AO Ep. 9 Ao’s chivalrous attitude is a good character trait, but I’m inclined to think it doesn’t get him into trouble often enough.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (6/3 – 6/9)

Anime of the Week – Hyouka
This continues week after week to be one of the best thinking person’s anime that’s been able to scratch my puzzle itch for quite a while. Probably the most important thing it displays is mastery of pacing out its clues between dialogue, setting and visual hints.                                
June 4 Acchi Kocchi Ep. 9 Sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. But other times it’s better to stick with what you know how to do well.
Fate/Zero Ep. 22 Maybe I could appreciate all this philosophical talk if I didn’t know it was all for naught. But it feels so empty to me.
Accel World Ep. 9 Yuniko’s methods may have been underhanded, but with a boss character looming over everything it’s understandable.
Eureka AO Ep. 8 I get that Generation Bleu’s mission isn’t to save Naru, but deviating from her predicament doesn’t feel right to me.
Hyouka Ep. 7 Onsen episodes often aren’t done correctly, but there’s nothing inherently bad about them. Just make sure there’s a story.
June 6 Tasogare Otome Ep. 9 Seeing Yuuko’s shadow develop a personality with Teiichi between them is like living in someone’s mental disorder.
June 7 Jormungand Ep. 9 I wonder why this anime is so hung up on using euphemisms for the names of all the warring countries Koko works for.
Medaka Box Ep. 4 This series has no pressure to finish an ongoing story arc and will let it spill partway into the next episode if needed.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (5/20 – 5/26)

Anime of the Week – Acchi Kocchi

Everyone loves Io—even goldfish.
(Click to see animation)

Ridiculously silly and fun. This is one of the most endearing anime I’ve had the blood-rushing pleasure of experiencing.

(If someone can help me with the interlacing problem I’m having with the animated gif I made for this post, I’d be very appreciative. I’m using Adobe Premiere Pro.)

May 20 Fate/Zero Ep. 20 Rider always seemed to be a much more honorable character, so this turn of events surprises me. What is his justification?
May 21 Tasogare Otome Ep. 5 I can’t imagine how creepy it would be to meet the young ghost of a family member who looks almost exactly like me.
Hyouka Ep. 5 I wasn’t given many hints to solve this particular mystery on my own, but the reveal was epic enough for me to excuse it.
May 23 Tasogare Otome Ep. 6 The power of belief is not something to be taken lightly. Playing with people’s sensibilities is a dangerous game.
Kore wa Zombie 2 Ep. 3 I wish this series could focus better. I’m not hating it, but I know there’s a story to be told so get on with it.
May 24 Jormungand Ep. 7 Great character design! Between disturbed Valmet, quirky Dr. Miami and conniving Koko there’s no shortage of good writing.
May 25 Tasogare Otome Ep. 7 Does Karma work in reverse? If you are too kind and cheerful, does misfortune and sadness come to restore balance?
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 8 Io’s animal magnetism is frighteningly powerful. He is definitely one of the most likeable characters I’ve ever seen.
May 26 Accel World Ep. 8 Haru is progressing nicely as the story moves into the next phase. But Snow Black’s past seems to be catching up with her.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (5/13 – 5/19)

Anime of the Week – Acchi Kocchi
I don’t know that I’ve ever applied this word to an anime before, but I think the best way to describe Acchi Kocchi is “precious.”                                
May 13 Accel World Ep. 6 For all of Haruyuki’s talent, it’s a terrific character flaw to see that he still has the shortsightedness of a newbie.
Black Lagoon Ep. 4 Some of the story ideas for this anime are really off the wall, but at least they manage to keep things interesting.
Black Lagoon Ep. 5 You don’t have to explain everything, but some details can’t be overlooked—like why there is air in a sunken ship.
Fate/Zero Ep. 19 This is the kind of story I was hoping to see more of in this series. Not the predictable stuff that hogs so much time.
May 14 Eureka AO Ep. 4 I think the strength of this series is how it’s honest and doesn’t put up any pretenses. The story is all it needs.
C3 OVA While delightfully off-canon as most OVAs are, it also fails to recapture the series’ spirit. At least it manages to be lighthearted.
May 15 Black Lagoon Ep. 6 I can’t tell if this was just an unlucky job or the start of some larger plot arc that is slowly revealing itself.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 6 This anime succeeds again at putting charming twists on some stereotypical school drama scenes. It’s an adorable romance.
May 16 Sankarea Ep. 6 “Give me freedom or give me death,” is a simple enough theme and associating death with freedom is a really cool concept.
Jormungand Ep. 6 After the opening battle I had a funny thought that all cargo ships rounding the southern end of Africa should hire Koko.
May 17 Hyouka Ep. 4 I like mysteries, but this was a little too information heavy. The hesitation at the end also indicates this isn’t over.
Ladies vs Butlers Ep. 1 Somewhere I’d heard good things about this anime, but it’s a poster-child for what happens when ecchi goes too far.
Tasogare Otome Ep. 3 This anime’s playfulness combined with the way it makes light of its darkness makes it both fun and insightful.
May 18 Sankarea Ep. 7 This review of Chihiro’s history with Ranko would have been a lot less interesting if it wasn’t for his zombie mania.
Eureka AO Ep. 5 It’s pretty clear that Ao is in the process of finding himself. But what intrigues me most is Generation Blue’s motives.
Tasogare Otome Ep. 4 I’m impressed by how well this anime transitions from playful to serious without skipping a beat. It’s beautiful.
May 19 Accel World Ep. 7 Is this episode about camaraderie or about learning to forgive yourself? Either way, it was a little too sentimental.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 7 Well-scripted timing of romantic humor is definitely this series’ best asset. If you like moe this is a must watch.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (5/6 – 5/12)

Anime of the Week – Hyouka
This series is a terrific example of how to write a good mystery story. The key is to reveal just enough information to allow the viewers to piece some of the puzzle together on their own while not revealing so much that it becomes too easy.                                
May7 Fate/Zero Ep. 18 This is the kind of enlightening prequel material that I wanted to see more of in this series.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 5 I really like the pace of this show so far. Changing the season from winter to spring seemed like appropriate timing.
Sankarea Ep. 5 This series started out with such a serious tone, but it’s been indulging in an unnecessary amount of fanservice recently.
Black Lagoon Ep. 1 I was told this series was like Jormungand so I decided to finally give it a watch, but I’m not seeing the similarities.
Black Lagoon Ep. 2 I’m starting to see the similarities to Jormungand in the action sequences that are often daringly over the top.
May 9 Jormungand Ep. 5 Jonah’s hate really is a tangible thing, but after what he’s been through I’m pleased to see it hasn’t consumed him.
Hyouka Ep. 3 I’m enjoying Oreki’s analytical perspective that gives me enough to figure out half of the mystery before the rest is revealed.
May 10 Black Lagoon Ep. 3 I’m not sure what to make of the tone of this series. They get ambushed but don’t miss a single beat. It’s too relaxed.
May 12 Accel World Ep. 6 For all of Haruyuki’s talent, it’s a terrific character flaw to see that he still has the shortsightedness of a newbie.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (4/22 – 4/28)

Anime of the Week – Jormungand
Coupled with superbly cast voice acting and a premise that gets you cheering for the upstart underdog, I’ve been swept up by this anime’s whirlwind pace.                                
April 22 Fate/Zero Ep. 16 It’s like these last few episodes have been rushing to bring up the death toll to compensate for the first season’s lack.
Kids on the Slope Ep. 2 Everything about this show is so disappointingly ordinary and unbefitting of the great names behind its creation.
April 24 Medaka Box Ep. 2 As messed up as this anime is at times, I’m starting to discover it has a charming side that’s urging me to stick with it.
April 25 Accel World Ep. 2 Haruyuki’s cleverness and background knowledge made him a winner. It’s a kind of smart that any gamer could appreciate.
Accel World Ep. 3 I thought this episode had great character development, but I wonder how many people got lost on all the computer terms.
April 27 Sankarea Ep. 4 This series defies all my expectations. I was worried it would turn into a quirky romance but it’s still deeply intellectual.
March 28 Jormungand Ep. 1 Initial impression – risky, clever and auspicious
Sengoku Collection Ep. 1 Initial impression – unoriginal, but not entirely mind-numbing (4/10)
Jormungand Ep. 2 I like how this series juxtaposes Koko’s unsavory occupation with her likeable personality and brilliant intellect.
Jormungand Ep. 3 Bringing in some determined rivals for Koko and her team helps show she’s not as wildly unprincipled as she appears.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 4 This episode was less moe compared to the last few, but it makes up for it nicely with some smart sociological discourse.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (4/15 – 4/21)

Anime of the Week – Sankarea
The emotional energy of this anime is powerful. Rea’s despair and despiration, her father’s madness and Chihiro’s shock and awe are unbelievably tangible.
April 16 Fate/Zero Ep. 15 The battle was epic as always, but I’m more interested to know what’s going on behind the scenes. What is Kirei up to?
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 1 Initial impression – fuel for the moe inferno
April 17 Saki: Achiga-hen – Episode of Side-A Ep. 1 Initial impression – pleasing, but lacking impact (5/10)
Mirai Nikki Ep. 26 With an epilogue like that after a nebulous ending it feels very much like this series can’t possibly be over just yet.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 2 It’s like there’s a delicate perfection protecting this series and I fear that the slightest jostle will break it.
April 18 Kids on the Slope Ep. 1 Initial impression – significantly underwhelming
April 19 Eureka Seven AO Ep. 1 Initial impression – more refreshing than expected
April 20 Sankarea Ep. 3 The reactions Chihiro exhibits are priceless. The crescendo of emotions go from shock to despair and finally disbelief.
Tsuritama Ep. 1 Initial impression – I want to like it but…eh… (5/10)
April 21 Tasogare Otome Ep. 2 This show has some very good wordplay. I also like how the ecchi moments are underwritten with Yuuko’s playful teasing.
Acchi Kocchi Ep. 3 I think what’s making this series so awesome is the excellent balance of personalities throughout the diverse cast.
Haiyore! Nyaruko-san Ep. 1 Initial impression – just…what? (2/10)

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.