2012 Anime Year in Review: The Top 10

There was never really any question in my mind what my #1 anime of 2012 would be, once I started seriously considering it.

#1 – Tsuritama

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I expected the decision about my best anime of the year between my top 2 series to be an agonizing one. I didn’t start seriously thinking about this list until a month or so ago, and once I did – to my surprise – that decision made itself almost instantly.  Tsuritama was my favorite anime of 2012, and it wasn’t a photo-finish, either.  As I said yesterday I think the wondrous Chihayafuru and Hunter X Hunter would be fine #1’s some years, but not this year.  Eno-shima-DON!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may have heard me refer to FLCL as the most perfect anime ever (not the best, necessarily – though it’s comfortably in my all-time Top 5).  While that’s still my opinion, I think Tsuritama may be the most perfect full-length anime I’ve ever seen.  By “perfect” I mean the complete absence of missteps – a show that accomplishes everything it sets out to accomplish in spectacular fashion.  Tsuritama is a great testament to what’s possible with an original series – it was an idea that could be fleshed out with the exact format in mind, and clearly was – it hit the ground running and never stopped.  There were no bad arcs (the series was effectively one long arc), no bad episodes, hardly a mediocre moment at all.  The whole thing was a strange and wonderful joy to behold.
If I were to try and distill what it is that makes me love a series so much that it could knock Chihayafuru and H x H down a peg, I don’t think I can do better than I did in my series review:

“If you distilled pure happiness into 22 weekly minutes of sight and sound, you’d have something a lot like Tsuritama.”

The list of things I love about Tsuritsma is long.  Nakamura Kenji’s always spectacularly creative visual style (and he delivers fantastically surreal storybook imagery here) finally finding a story that connected emotionally.  Tapioca.  The soundtrack by Kuricorder Quartet, the one soundtrack that I could say probably knocks the likes of Chaihayafuru and Eureka Seven AO’s soundtracks off the top spot – it’s whimsical and funny and irresistible and matches the series as perfectly as any since The Pillows gave FLCL it’s musical voice.  And then there’s the way the show uses Enoshima as a character in itself, showing it as the strange and magical little island it is, and makes the somewhat esoteric sport of fishing seem like something profound and beautiful.
The amazing work by the cast is a big part of Tsuritama’s magic too.  Sugita Tomokazu is hilarious as ever as the 25 year-old secret agent (DUCK!) Akira, and Uchiyama Kouki is spot-on as the tsundere Fishing Price, Natsuki.  And then, two of the finest seiyuu performances of the year – first, Miyu Irinu in a fearless and risky against-type virtuoso as Haru.  Miyu-Miyu’s reputation is established beyond doubt, but he doesn’t play it safe as Haru – his choices ultimately make Haru seem both alien and innocent, a sort of modern-day Petit Prince.  And most especially relative unknown Ohsaka Ryouta stamping himself as a top-tier seiyuu with the series’ best performance, giving Tsuritama its heart and soul as Yuki.  The first part of Tsuritama is largely a study of Yuki’s all-too-typical yet dramatized teenaged-boy neuroses (portrayed by Nakamura-sensei with some of the cleverest animation sequences of the year), and Ohaska nails every one of those crucial moments.  Those performances truly were the four seasons – so different, yet all superb.  And the writing made perfect use of them by establishing the characters first, giving us only hints as to the larger plot – which gives us so much more emotional investment in them when the drama of the second half of the series ramps up.
Most of all, though, I love the spirit at the heart of Tsuritama.  This show made me smile over 12 episodes as much as any I’ve seen – it is indeed, as I said in that series review, one of the most joyous anime of all-time.  But the best part of it is that what I felt about the series from the beginning turned out to be exactly right – it’s a thoroughly personal story.  Series writer Oono Toshiya  (who’s done very little anime work) has said that he wrote this series as a kind of letter of encouragement to his teenaged self.  He was unhappy as a high-schooler (as so many kids are) and wanted to send a message that everything can work out – that things are never as bad as they seem, and that the worst thing you can do (which he did) was isolate yourself, and not allow friends into your life.
That’s a pretty amazing thing – and it’s amazing that an anime was built around that idea, and that the sentiment came through so clearly.  Without being sappy or overly sentimental, Tsuritama manages to be hopeful and optimistic and compassionate and incredibly uplifting.  It’s also a series that isn’t afraid to embrace the notion that teenaged guys are capable of every bit as much pain, anxiety, empathy and hopefulness as girls are, even if anime generally treats them as shallow and uninteresting plot drivers whose inner lives aren’t worth bothering with. The characters at the center of this series stand as a condemnation of every poorly-written or criminally under-written teenaged boy in anime.
In summation – everything that’s wrong with most anime is right with Tsuritama.  It’s simply an anime perfect storm – the visuals, the music, the cast, the plot, the pacing, and most of all the soul.  It’s an anime that shows off how gloriously funny, inspirational and emotionally powerful the medium can be, and I think it’s the best series of 2012.

#2 – Chihayafuru

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I think the first thing I should say is that there have been years when Chihayafuru would have ranked as my #1 series.  In fact, I could say that about my #3 series Hunter X Hunter too, and probably even my #4, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita.  So it’s been quite a good year overall, and the fact that Chihayafuru ends up in the second slot should in no way be taken as a sign that I hold this series in anything but the highest regard.  I adore it with every fiber of my anime being.
I’ll talk about the reasons why my top-ranked series is what it is tomorrow, but for now I’m going to focus strictly on Chihayafuru and why I think it’s one of the better anime of the last few years.  Some things should be obvious, for starters.  Suetsugu Yuki has written a wonderful manga, which has won the Manga Taishou and Kodansha Manga Awards, two of the highest honors in the medium.  Her artwork is the equal of her writing, and Madhouse (what a year for Madhouse) has done that manga justice in translating it to the screen.  Chihayafuru is one of the most beautiful anime of the year, and director Morio Asaka found a way to make the manga’s big emotional moments pop off the screen with almost startling power.  While the cast is uniformly great, Miyano Mamoru followed up his star turn in Steins;Gate with an even better (and totally different) performance as Taichi.  And Yamashita Kousuke’s soundtrack might very well be the year’s finest.
Along with the ones I mentioned from H x H yesterday and one or two others, Chihayafuru provided the absolutely highlight of the year in anime for me, and that was episode 20.  More specifically, the scene between Taichi and Harada-sensei (Unshou Ishizuka) on the train platform, in which Suetsugu and Morio encapsulated everything that was beautiful and potent and unspoken in the series up to that point, and brought it to fruition with Taichi’s words – and Harada’s reaction.  It was an utterly perfect moment brought to life by two superb seiyuu, the kind the few series ever approach, and it speaks to the depth of feeling Chihayafuru is capable of generating in the audience.  This series is, in many ways, a hybrid of the best elements of shoujo, shounen and josei – it’s classified officially as the latter but I think it’s proof that genre labels are overused and often insufficient.  As was the case with Hikaru no Go, I knew nothing of the game at the heart of the premise when the series started – and it didn’t matter a bit.  Both stories use their central conceit as the medium to deliver a heartfelt and beautiful human story, and both – through the love the characters showed for the game in question – made me care about that game by the time the series was finished.
If I were to make any quibble about Chihayafuru – and it takes some effort to find one – it would be that the series peaked a few episodes before it ended.  But happily, that’s not so much an issue because some three months after the series ended, a second season was announced (it begins next month).  Hearing that news was one of my happiest moments as an anime fan (and hearing that the two new Mizusawa Karuta Club members will be played by Miyu Irino and Han Megumi – both very prominent on this list – was the icing on the cake), because it’s so rare that a series that relies on depth and emotional complexity rather than marketing strategy gets a second season.  The manga continues to be a sales powerhouse, and while the anime didn’t sell many Blu-rays and DVDs it clearly spawned an incredibly loyal if modestly-sized legion of fans.  Chihayafuru is a very, very special anime – full of heart and intelligence and capable of making you hurt as only shows with those qualities can do. 
#3 – Hunter X Hunter 2011

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I’ll admit it was a judgment call to include Hunter X Hunter in this year’s list, as I said on the first day.  But this show is just so good, so consistent and so worthy that I feel as if it’s justified, given the fact that it’s aired every season of 2012 and has no definitive end-date in sight. 
I’ve written a lot of posts on H x H, and they tend to be some of my longest – so if there’s something to be said (by me anyway) I’ve probably said it.  But it’s worth pointing out that two of my favorite anime episodes of the season – probably two of my top three – are from this series.  Namely, Episode 16 (Gon-Hisoka showdown during the final phase of the hunter exam) and Episode 35 (Gon vs. Hisoka in Heaven’s Arena, part 1).  Truth be told I could have pointed to a dozen episodes easily enough, because in sheer volume of great anime delivered no anime can match this one over the last year.  But those two episodes represent some of the darkest, smartest, tensest and most exhilarating GAR shounen ever written – and episode 35 marks what for my money is the best anime fight scene since episode 2 of Seirei no Moribito.
It’s really very straightforward with Hunter X Hunter – this is a great anime.  Togashi is a remarkable writer, nimbly dancing back and forth between moods and tones seemingly at will.  And Madhouse is doing a fantastic job with the anime, delivering brilliant animation consistently and making the action sequences come alive with some of the best cinematography of the year.  H x H has charismatic and fascinating protagonists, unbelievably compelling antagonists (Hisoka and Chrollo are two of the best I’ve ever seen), complex and subtle character development, and some of the most intricate and well-constructed plot arcs and back-story of any series in manga.
Consistently, week-in and week-out, this is the series I’ve most looked forward to watching over the course of the year.  It’s anime as it should be – tremendously fun, GAR, engaging, dark and visually stellar.  It’s rare that I find a shounen anime I love this much, but shounen this good takes you places no other form of manga or anime can.  Thank goodness for Hunter X Hunter – may Madhouse keep making new episodes and may Togashi start giving them new chapters to work with before they catch up.   
#4 – Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

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Anytime I can start a series review with “I’ve never seen anything like this before” that show is in pretty good shape.  And I’ve definitely never seen anything like Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita before.
Jinrui is not a perfect show.  What was usually a great strength – the unrelenting refusal to be conventional or predictable – could also be frustrating.  Director/writer team Kishi Seiji and Uezu Makoto took what was already a very iconoclastic LN series by Tanaka Romeo and made it even less accessible, ordering the adaptation in a way I still can’t quite figure out.  This was felt most keenly in the ending, which was neither an ending in any real sense or among the anime’s strongest chapters.  Yet, finally, that pales when viewed in the larger context – Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is one of the smartest, boldest and most hilarious anime in many years.
It was clear from the very first episode that Romeo-san was writing on a level most in anime can’t even approach.  In terms of pure satire this is one of the finest anime I’ve seen, and in the conceit of a future where mankind in effectively devolving and the odd little creatures called Fairies have risen to prominence, Romeo found the perfect vehicle for his pitiless literary katana.  The cute little bastards could get away with saying things humans never could, and in heroine Watashi – brought to life by Nakahara Mai in one of the best seiyuu performances in years – they had their perfect foil.  No subject was taboo, and the series amounted to a systematic and hilarious dissection of modern human culture.  It was also absolutely beautiful in its fairy-tale pastel surrealism (AIC isn’t consistently great in terms of production values, but they periodically knock one out of the park) and brought off some of the most brilliant comedic set pieces (Pan-tan, the capitalist chicken chase, et al) in anime history.
Really, the only criticism I had of the anime at first was that it didn’t move me emotionally as it did intellectually – but Jinrui breached that both with the growing development among the main cast (especially Watashi and Assistant-kun) and with one-off arcs, like the “Pion/Oyage” story.  I wish the series had saved its best moment – the Joshu-kun origin arc – for last, and I was disappointed that Assistant disappeared for the last few episodes.  But that’s nothing against the sheer brilliance of the series as a whole – easily the best show of the summer season, and a surprise hit on BD/DVD (a surprise to me, at least).  If you haven’t watched Jinrui, do yourself a favor and check it out this week while things are slow in the anime world – it’s both unique and staggeringly brilliant, and any anime that can say that is surely one to be remembered.

 #5 Nazo no Kanojo X

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If there was any series in 2012 that truly surprised me, it was Nazo no Kanojo X.  I didn’t know too much about the property going in (I’d bought a doujin a few years back because I liked the artwork) and quite honestly I found the central conceit (the drool) pretty gross.   The studio, Hoods, had never produced anything of real substance. I really didn’t know what to expect, but what I got – one of the very best relationship anime in years – was definitely way more than I expected.

Everything about MGX seems paradoxical.  An anime about two teenagers whose relationship began when one drank the other’s drool – and continues to do so daily – that’s also incredibly smart and in fact, very sweet?  In fact, nothing in MGX is as it seems – the drool is a metaphor, and indeed so is much of the series.  It’s actually an incredibly smart, subtle and incisive story by mangaka Ueshiba Riichi.  It sheds light on both love and sex and the role they play in our lives, and it’s a sort of anti-Btooom! in that it reflects a sympathy and understanding of both boys and girls – of how we’re unique, and of what draws us to each other.

As I said in my series review, I consider MGX the spiritual heir to FLCL.  While that show was the best ever at exploring the terrifying onset of puberty using symbolism and humor, MGX performs the same role for the teenaged romantic relationship.  More than anything I think this series is an exploration of what would happen if boys and girls could actually communicate with each other, and a brilliant one at that.  It also features a perfectly cast lead pair of the peerless Miyu Irino and the extremely natural Yoshitani Ayako, and some of the coolest retro 70’s style art in anime.  Director Watanabe Ayumu also directs Uchuu Kyoudai, and he’s proved himself beyond doubt with those starkly different series in 2012.  Through judicious decisions on what chapters to adapt and in what order, along with a fantastically original visual flair, he’s made an anime that expands on what the manga is (just as Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun’s adaptation did). 

Nazo no Kanojo X is a show that demands that we keep an open mind, and defies all expectations.  It’s the most surprising anime of 2012, and one of the very best.

#6 – Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

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I’ve already written 10 paragraphs on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun today, so I don’t have a whole lot to add to that.  Needless to say, I hold this series in the highest regard – without a question it’s one of my favorite romances of recent vintage, and for a lot more than romance.  Another triumph for Brains Base.

I think Tonari makes an interesting contrast with Hyouka, especially when it comes to rankings like this.  I don’t think Tonari even achieved the same level of soaring brilliance that Hyouka did at its very peak moments.  But the thing is, Tonari was great every week – pretty much without exception it delivered pure quality, while Hyouka had some fairly dramatic ups and downs.  Yet both shows ended up as remarkably subtle character studies of four teenagers, two potential couples each.  And each series stands as an example of what’s possible when both the males and females in the cast are treated as serious characters, and all are given full character arcs.  It seems so easy – yet it’s something that we rarely see in anime these days.

It seems so easy to say, “Just get it right” – but if it were, every show would do it.  It’s amazing how few stumbles this series had over 13 episodes.  Visuals, music, casting, pacing – it was all there.  And the cast is one of the year’s best, with the supporting characters – especially Natsume and Sasayan, who are really more like co-leads – a particular standout.  We may never see the second season Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun so richly deserves, but the first stands out its own as an example of how to make a great shoujo anime.

#7 – Hyouka

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It’s a pretty safe bet that if you’d told me after a the first month that Hyouka was going to be in my Top 10 shows if 2012, I’d never have believed it.  Yet here we are, and the truth is, my initial instinct was to rank it even higher than I did.  So why didn’t I?  I think it comes down to a philosophical view on what a list like this should be.  Am I judging a series at its best, or the entire series?  I think it should be the latter, at least to some extent – so this is where Hyouka falls.  And in an above-average year like this one, it’s still a pretty big compliment.

Make no mistake – Hyouka proved itself to be a truly remarkable show.  I do think there were too many episodes that simply weren’t all that strong, especially in the first half, to call it unequivocally great – and I don’t think it’s merely a change in my perspective but an actual tangible step up in quality.  But when Hyouka found its stride it was breathtaking.  The visuals always were – even by Kyoto Animation standards this is a truly gorgeous series to look at.  I’d rank it as the most visually impressive TV anime since Seirei no Moribito, and not just because of the beautiful art and lavishly expensive animation, but because of how genuinely creative the visuals were.  It was as if the cinematography were a second script, telling another story right alongside the one being told by the dialogue.  It’s the most impressive series KyoAni has done in terms of visuals, and that’s saying something.

Where Hyouka truly surprised me was in the depth and subtlety of the writing.  This series was special – quite unlike any anime I’ve ever seen in its narrative approach.  No other show captured as well for me the feeling of being a bright high-schooler trying to fill the day, and the exquisite art of wasting time.  The character development was so sophisticated that in most cases it was impossible to spot that it was even happening until, in a flash, you notice how much a character has grown up.  The “Kanya Festa” arc was a work of true genius, spending multiple episodes simply depicting a culture festival as an incredibly interesting place to be, then crafting the finest mystery of the series – the finest because it showed off the inner workings of the four main characters brilliantly.  Hyouka also delivered a truly spectacular ending (we all know how hard that can be), one of the best in recent anime history.

At it’s best, Hyouka was right there with the very best anime of the year – and it was doing so in a way that was dramatically different than what any other series was doing.  Consistency counts, and that’s the reason there are better series than this one in 2012 – but in terms of depth and emotional perceptiveness, Hyouka takes a back seat to no one.

#8 – Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean

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I strongly suspect that this pick is going to find more disagreement than any of the others on my list.  Seeing as how I’ve stated the case for E7: AO so many times in my weekly posts, there doesn’t seem much point in doing so again – and I’m certainly not going to convince anyone who disagrees with me.  So I’ll just reiterate the gist of why I love this show so much.  It does exactly what a good sequel should do: it honors the spirit of the original without trying to be a copy of it.  AO dared to be different, and paid a price for that with fans of the beloved original Eureka Seven.  Hey, I love E7 too – that’s why I was so pleased Astral Ocean ended up being the great series it did.

I can’t help but think of Steven Spielberg when I consider my feelings for this series.  Spielberg has obviously directed a dizzying array of blockbuster hits, many of them also very fine films.  But my two favorite Spielberg films are two which made very little money and divided the critics: Empire of the Sun and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.  I used to wonder why it was that I split so dramatically from mass opinion on Spielberg’s films, and then I realized – it doesn’t matter.  I see an emotional honesty and a willingness to avoid pandering in those films that make them stand out from the rest of his work, and if others don’t feel the same way, that’s fine.  There are some – like the legendary critic Andrew Sarris – who were champions of both those movies, and argued that over time they would come to be viewed as the classics they were while some of Spielberg’s more lauded movies would fade to obscurity. 

Time will tell, and the same can be said of Astral Ocean.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter to me – I think this show is another example of BONES’ willingness to take risks, something other anime studios are doing more and more rarely these days.  I would laud them for the effort no matter how E7:AO had turned out – the fact that it turned out to be one of the best shows of the year is all the more reason to do so.

#9 – Jormungand

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Choosing these last two slots was agonizingly difficult, because the last cuts – one show in particular – are definitely worthy to be on this list.  Truth be told Jormungand and Ano Natsu could almost have been throws of the dart, there’s so little separating them from the first show I cut and even the second – but I did make a conscious decision to include them, because the need to do so was just that tiniest bit more insistent.

You’ve got a snootful of recent Jormungand posts to read through if you want to know why I love this series, so I won’t go into the reasons at length here.  Suffice to say, this is a rock-solid adaptation of a great manga.  In fact it may be the most letter-faithful manga adaptation I’ve ever seen, and while I generally support that in theory it doesn’t always work in practice.  Especially with a manga as narratively challenging as Jormungand, one where the mangaka doesn’t exactly bend over backwards to make things clear to the audience.  But somehow it worked, and delivered up one of the fascinating character studies in recent anime.  That element was sometimes hidden beneath a huge and Byzantine plot whose primary role was to put pressure on the characters, and in the process shed light on the human condition, but Jormungand was always about the characters first.  Because of the nature of the series, Perfect Order soared above the already-excellent first cour in overall quality – we knew these characters, and understood the essentials of what made them tick.  The nature of this cast is that the more we know about them, the more fascinating they become.

Much more next week in the series review.

#10 – Ano Natsu de Matteru

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The pedigree for Ano Natsu was a strong one: ace director Nagai Tatsuyuki and the Onegai franchise writer Kuroda Yousuke – along with the character designer and much of the key staff.  As one of the few original series JC Staff has launched in recent years, this one had a high curiosity factor for me – and it didn’t disappoint.  I think is surpasses Yousuke’s Onegai series in overall quality.

I won’t lie – this #10 slot was a tough call, because there are at least 3-4 shows that deserve to be in the top 10 and won’t be (that as much as anything shows it was a strong year).  But when I looked at the overall enjoyment a series gave me, Ano Natsu won the day.  What really stands out in my memory is just how beautifully paced the series was – both intra-episodically and as a whole.  The talent and experience of the staff really shows here, with each episode providing a discernible beginning, conflict and climax.  It’s an old-fashioned show in a very good sense – dispensing with all the trappings and affectations that drag modern anime romantic comedies down and delivering winning character interaction and some of the funniest situation comedy of the year.  It also dared to focus on what happened after the main couple became a couple, and didn’t drag the moment where they became a couple out interminably.  Misunderstandings were usually cleared up quickly, and the show recognized the fact that what happens in a relationship is usually much more interesting to watch than two people dancing around the idea of starting one.  In addition, Ano Natsu proved to be one of the year’s best series about friendship as well as a great romance – an area where JC Staff and Nagai-sensei once again prove their expertise.

Aside from that, this was the best-looking JC Staff show in years, and the cast was terrific – headed by the great Tomatsu Haruka and relative newcomer Shimazaki Nobunaga.  This was really just a simple, straightforward and confident show from a director and writer not so afraid of telling a real story about real characters that they had to hide behind cheap dramatic tricks.  The hardest thing to do in comedy is be good and make it look easy, and these guys really made it look easy.

Honorable Mention: Shirokuma Café

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I like to use this leadoff spot to call attention to a show that isn’t in the Top 10 but deserves more attention, and Shirokuma Café seems like an ideal candidate.  In fact it’s ongoing and isn’t even eligible for this year’s list, but as it gets so little attention – and because my posts about it tend to be short – there’s no show that fits the bill better.

Tonight’s episode is a perfect example of why this is such a great series.  It’s almost impossible not to feel good watching this show – the humor is generally low-key, but often uproariously funny and even quite subversive once in a while.  Shirokuma is all about balance, as so many good anime comedies are – balance between warmth and irony, and between lowbrow and intellectual humor.  There were so many great gags in this episode – my favorite was the “Secret World of Arrietty” in the pun montage, which Penguin-san out a stop to just in time to keep the lawyers from getting involved.  I don’t think we’ve ever seen quite so much fun with the vacuum gag – first Panda-kun got sucked up by Panda-mama as usual (while reading a “Penguin Holmes” manga), then sucked himself up (still saying “Don’t suck me up!”), then Penguin, and finally Panda-kun sucked up Grizzly-san (“Don’t freakin’ suck me up!”).  Shirokuma-san’s random and completely unnecessary “In France this would be déjà vu!” was a keeper, too.  We also had the warm feelings of a quiet New Year’s together – nice to see Llama-san included as part of the “family” before all the rest showed up.  And finally Sloth and Tortoise-san showing up just in time to make everyone miss the countdown.

The essence of an underappreciated show is one that’s easy to take for granted despite all you get from it, and the shoe fits here.  It’s not an easy show to blog because it’s hard to capture the experience of watching it – comedies are hard to blog anyway, especially one that doesn’t rely on big comic set-pieces or extensive character humor – but it’s incredibly easy to enjoy.  Shirokuma Café just keeps delivering, week after week, and makes it look easy.

A quick note on eligibility:

So as not to generate any false suspense, I wanted to clarify which series are eligible for this year’s list.  My general guideline is still to make a show eligible on the year it finishes airing – that makes it easy with shows like Shin Sekai Yori.  There are some grey areas though, one of them differentiating between split-cour series – which I always make eligible in the year the final cour airs – and true sequels.  I consider both Fate/Zero (which split between two calendar years) and Jormungand (which didn’t) as split-cour shows, as their full schedule was announced in advance and there was no question that they would take only one season off for production reasons.  I don’t consider Chihayafuru a split-cour, because it took multiple seasons off and there was no confirmation of a second season at the time the first ended.  Therefore Chihayafuru is eligible for this year’s list even though it has a sequel airing in 2013.  So are Jormungand and F/Z of course, but that’s because their final cours ended in 2012.

I did, however, decide to make one exception this year: Hunter X Hunter.  There are several reasons: first, because the show aired for the entirety of 2012.  Second, we don’t have a confirmed end-date for the series.  Once a series airs for an entire calendar year it seems to me that it makes sense to judge that year as a body of work – and, quite frankly, I’m anxious to shower the series with some well-deserved praise in a year-end review and don’t want to wait an indeterminate length of time to do so.



  1. A

    Hey Enzo, should the title be 2012 Anime in Review? It's saying 2011…but you know what, you probably did it on purpose to see who's paying attention…teehee….


  2. A

    Well FML. Livejournal post ID handle is not working hence while going back to this page the post vanished.

    – agree with Ronbb. You testing us Enzo?
    – Shirokuma Cafè is definitely in my top 10, possibly even a tie for 1st place. It's my happy drug. There are other series that have great moments and characters I love (GeK sukiiii. Space Bros <3 ) and affected me deeply (Natsuyuki and SSY), others that are very intelligent and clever or with good tension (Jinrui, Jormungand) but SC is somehow the very first series I recall when I'm not watching. It's my gently lit spot, the sunny patch in a meadow. Quirk comfort and solace. Heavens know how much I've craved all of that this year. Furs&feathers ftw. Ah, animal moe <3.
    My most likely honorable mention candidate atm is Uta Koi.


  3. Just to reiterate, SSY, GeK and Spacebros are not eligible for my 2012 list.

  4. e

    Even with my currently fried neurons I had a suspicion… thanks for indirectly confirming my sorry mental state (hooray for some degree of self-awareness on my part I guess? :p )
    This year can't end too soon.

    While we are at it… the latter half of your entry is a duplicate of the first half. Copy&paste issue? Or I'm hallucinating now. Orz.

    Haven't watched your #10 – or Outlaw Star – . I might next year. I'm a penguin in the Arctic. Sell me that fridge and take my money, free of rakugo ;_;.

  5. H

    I think this year I'm going to start implementing the "show is eligible the year it ends" rule as well since I keep getting burned by shows with less-than-stellar second halves/endings. Can't wait to see the rest of the list!

  6. x

    No matter what, at least for me, Uchuu Kyoudai is the number 1. Not only it's the best of 2012, but also it's the only show that every age and gender can enjoy (cheap shot alert: it also has none of that silly moe pandering nonsense. At the risk of alienating, I had to say this). Tell me any other show that has such broad appeal: there is none. I know there is no way in cosmos Enzo will pick Uchuu Kyoudai as number 1 since I know his bias/emotional preference on certain other shows are too strong (Chihay.. cough cough) to pick such cerebral, emotionally powerful grown-up anime (key world "group-up") as the number 1 of 2012, so I am plugging for it.

    It's not really knock on Enzo per se, but it is what it is. And perhaps it might be slightly unfair since Enzo hasn't even started his list. But having said that, that doesn't change the fact that there is virtually no chance of Uchuu Kyoudai being number 1 and that's a good enough reason for me to write this. At best, Uchuu Kyoudai will be number 2 or 3, not number 1. Nevermind the fact that I hear Uchuu Kyoudai in some way inspired Enzo to make the move to Japan. There are at least three or four more "traditional anime" (i.e. heavily geared towards teenage audience and their agendas as after all, such area is the main strength of Japanese anime to begin with) that I can think of that Enzo and most others who watch Japanese anime prefers as number 1. You can think of this as unfair generalization all you want -the evidence is there and I don't care for feelings, only the truth. And I care that ONLY Uchuu Kyoudai has the power to influence many people, thus in a small way, the world, the way Carl Sagan had done in the past; thus it's the only show that can transcend over its format, Japanese anime, and beyond. It may not be gross exaggeration that this anime, this anime alone, can help move human race forward just a tad, at least in Japan, among some of young Japanese.

    There are many shows that make you think, entertain you, make you cry, and/or forget/escape the real crappy world you live in for 20 min every week. However there is no show in 2012 or in recent years that can do all of this and also influence and aspire you in such way that can affect your conducts in your "real" lives, here on earth. And that, my friends, is the number 1 anime of 2012.

  7. A

    Uchuu Kyodai still has one more cour to go through. So even if it were on a list, it would be for 2013.

  8. A

    So for all we know it could be number 1 next year, though the next season of Chihayafuru may take that spot as well.

  9. J

    yes, the anon above proves it. I myself don't have problem with Chihayafuru being popular (and face it, it's extremely mega-hot popular in Enzo's site). I'm sure it's a great romantic show as well. The problem is that shows such as it can dominate conversations over culturally more significant and important show, Uchuu Kyodai, in this manner distress me. It'd be like "When Harry Met Sally", itself an all-time great romantic film, being vastly more popular than say, "Citizen Kane" or something; and it's true, but that doesn't make the former a better film. l I know humans are flawed, so it's expected though ("realistic struggle and triumphs of being astronauts? meh, boring. Give me a love story with a love triangle, forget that the concept has been done countless times." is the general consensus unfortunately).

  10. A

    No, Anon, if Shirokuma Cafe, which I think have still one more cour to go, can be mentioned here, then surely Uchuu Kyoudai can be included as well.

    And it also seems a bit arbitrary that a show that have 2nd season coming, as soon as in a few days can be considered BOTH this and next year's best list, just because it took 2 more seasons to confirm than most other shows. But hey, so be it, I don't make the list, so what's the use of complaining in the end? If I were making the list, though, I would have taken off the shows once I hear the follow-ups are coming in such fashion, but that's just me.

  11. A

    "I like to use this leadoff spot to call attention to a show that isn’t in the Top 10 but deserves more attention, and Shirokuma Café seems like an ideal candidate. In fact it’s ongoing and isn’t even eligible for this year’s list, but as it gets so little attention – and because my posts about it tend to be short – there’s no show that fits the bill better."

    There. That disproves your theory.

  12. Just to re-reiterate, Space Brothers will not be on the 2012 list. At the risk of spoiling, I can pretty much guarantee it will be on the 2013 list. And TBH, to accuse me of shorting adult-oriented anime seems pretty far out of left field, and specifically to accuse me of a bias against Uchuu after I've been almost constantly praising it for three seasons just plain bizarre.

  13. J

    Enzo, I think the issue was that Uchuu wouldn't be number 1, not that you didn't praise it week after week. He did say "At best, Uchuu Kyoudai will be number 2 or 3, not number 1".

    Now that you declare that it wouldn't be included, it's safely assume that Chihayafuru will be your number 1. Just hope that you don't make it number 1 again in 2013, since that'd be bit of cheating in my view, if I must say.

  14. A

    But so what if Uchuu isn't no. 1? Make your own list and put it to no. 1 then.

  15. J

    Anon troll doing his thing. I'd have had slightly more respect if he wasn't so blindly of a Chihayafuru fanboy. You sir, give other Chihayafuru fans a bad rep.

  16. A

    There are so many Anons, so I though I'd pile on. But tell me. How does one "cheat" when picking their favorite anime? Also, isn't it safe to assume you have a bias for Uchuu Kyodai. I mean it's only fair.

  17. L

    "(cheap shot alert: it also has none of that silly moe pandering nonsense. At the risk of alienating, I had to say this)."

    Enough of the tiptoeing around the moe crowd. More people should call his stuff out.

  18. J

    Another anon who responded my post: I don't proclaim that I don't have a bias towards Uchuu Kyodai. I do. Just like anyone else. Have I said I didn't? No. My problem with the another anon troll was the content of his post. It's not the way to engage in a serious manner, any shame or form.

    I also said that I didn't have problem with a different show being mega-popular if you look at my posts. And I don't even have problems with fanboys in general -only if they behave badly.

  19. J

    and oh, I must add to the "Another anon", I didn't say Chihayafuru chosen as no.1 of 2012 on Enzo's list "cheating". Heck he can do whatever he pleases on his list. And In fact, I fully expect it to be. You didn't seem to read my post well or understood it.

    I just said that it felt a bit of cheating to have Chihayafuru no.1 of both 2012 AND 2013 -IF that were the case for 2013, as it'd be eligible for 2013 again by my reckoning- since it's technically an on-going show, like many other shows like SSY, SC, or UK, which are excluded for 2012. Enzo said his reason of including Chihayafuru in his 2012 list. I don't have a problem with that.

  20. A

    I know. You said "Just hope that you don't make it number 1 again in 2013, since that'd be bit of cheating in my view, if I must say." and that's what I was referring too. I never specifically mentioned the year 2012.

  21. F

    A typical knee-jerk reaction from Enzo on xellos's post up there. It's a challenge on a blogger's perceived bias of a certain show being the number 1 best of 2012 from someone with his own bais on a different show being one instead. The correct way to handle such challenge is to actually engage it by why it's not as good as the other in your opinion or at the very least agree to disagree since it's a personal bias; instead you misrepresent it in order to just put an terse, dismissive response. Nowhere I find from there he accused you with NOT praising Space Brothers -what, you just skipped over "at best, Uchuu Kyoudai will be number 2 or 3, not number 1."? Sometimes I wonder if you actually reads the whole thing if a perceived negative post is more than 3 sentences. If you want to discredit a challenge, no matter how silly or disagreeable it is to you, IF you decide to respond, the least you can do is to actually read the whole thing, man.

  22. A

    Most Dissappointing Series of 2012:
    Guilty Crown

    I mean talk about the stars aligning only to churn out a story by committee and a terrible, incoherant story at that. Anyone interested in re-subbing the series into a better story?

  23. A

    I agree Anon…Guilty Crown was disappointing even though the art and animation were not bad at all. I think SAO is also quite disappointing…I dropped it when the Fall season kicked off.


  24. A

    I third that motion. I think Guilty Crown can't be cited for a lack of guts. Cause, if there was anything it did have, it was most certainly guts. Not much good it did that, but still.

  25. K

    Guilty Crown is this years version of last years (2011) big disapointment for me: Blood-C. Before they aired both series had lots of fans drooling in anticipation of them and look how they turned out.

  26. T

    Man, this reminds me to make my list….and that I accidentally deleted it and so I have to start from scratch. I agree there are alot of good shows but I'm merely reminded how much my busying life stinks because I didn't exactly finish some of them so I have to make a bunch of mad dash marathons, especially space brothers.

  27. S

    Calling it right now, Tsuritama will be Enzo's number one. Eureka Seven AO, Jormungand, Jintai, Ano Natsu de Matteru, Nazo no Kanojo X and Chihayafuru should also be right up there =3
    Depending on how Jormungand wraps up next week, my top 3 would probably be Fate/Zero, Tsuritama and Eureka Seven AO.

  28. J

    Seishun Otoko, you're dead wrong, my friend. I think I understand Enzo's 2012 anime taste more than you do! Enzo loved Tsuritama, sure, but his love for Chihayafuru is boundless. His love is so vast that it attracts Chihayafuru fanboys all over the web to his blog (not saying there is anything wrong with that, but Just saying that how much he loves Chihayafuru).

  29. S

    You could be right. I don't exactly share the love for Chihayafuru, maybe that's why I'm biased toward Tsuritama. Still Enzo did prioritize visiting Enoshima and his first purchase in Japan was a Tsuritama shirt, my prediction is not completely baseless.

  30. C

    Ahhh yes but remember Chihayafuru will be eligible next year so that might be a hint towards Tsuritama taking out no.1? Personally I adored Chihayafuru much more then Tsuritama largely because Tsuritama was unable to connect with me specifically.

  31. #

    Jake, my friend. You were dead wrong. You understand Enzo like the rest of us!

  32. A

    My predictions for what is going to be on the list (in no particular order):

    – Tsuritama
    – Chihayafuru
    – Hunter x Hunter
    – Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
    – Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
    – Hyouka
    – Eureka Seven AO
    – Jormungand
    – Ano Natsu de Matteru
    – Sakamichi no Apollon (if not: Natsuyuki Rendezvous)

    I'm judging this by Enzo's posts throughout the year, but it's personally pretty close to my own taste in anime, so I'll be pretty satisfied either way.

  33. Heh, it might be kinda fun to have a contest to see who can come closest to guessing my top 10. Since I'm effectively broke though, it would be pretty hard to come up with a prize.

  34. A

    You're too predictable Enzo!

  35. S

    You could write a haiku for the winner Enzo 😉

  36. S

    I thought 2012 was a pretty DAM good year for anime, picking a top 10 might be difficult but at least every entry will have well deserved its place there as a winner.

  37. A

    Oh, forgot to add Nazo no Kanojo X. That'd be on the list somewhere.

  38. T

    If anything I KNOW Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita will be somewhere on the list and I HOPE to see Hyouka though that might be something of a gamble…

  39. A

    same here…love Hyouka.


  40. L

    I prefer shows that don't take themselves too seriously so my picks would be Lupin: Fujiko and Jinrui. The first half of Jinrui was a masterclass (as far as anime goes) in satire, while Lupin just put a smile on my face with it's balance of old school grit and wackiness (screw the plot).

    Honourable mentions would be Apollon (not enough episodes, sadly) and Hyouka (no idea why I even liked this, but I did).

    Enzo's faves would probably be Tsuritama or Chihayafuru. While both were very good, Tsuritama had moments that frustrated me (mainly the protagonist), while the stakes in Chihayafuru (it's still based on a card game) weren't befitting the drama levels.

  41. s

    Ano Natsu De Matteru is an acceptable choice, even though I wasn't sold on the ending. But at least it was campy, and what preceded it was great.

    Shirokuma Café is certainly a marvel, with it being so lovely and funny even after such a long run. Some very rare consistency. I totally rate it over Haiyore Nyarko-san, Danshi Koukosei no Nichijou, Binbougami ga, Kill Me Baby, Kore Wa Zombie Desuka Of The Dead, YuruYuri. It will be eligible for my annual awards, and it would have won Comedy of the Year hadn't something come along that fucking murdered the competition.

  42. A

    I'm gonna try even though I havent been following some of the series you post about. I dont think tonari will be involved though, it was certainly a amazing series but I dont think it could make this list. IDK though just IMO

    10. ano natsu de matteru
    9. Jinrui wa suitei shimashita
    8. eureka seven AO
    7. Nazo no kanojo X
    6. Jourmangand
    5. Hyouka
    4. sakamichi no apollon
    3. tsuritama
    2. natsuyuki
    1. Chihayafuru

  43. A

    OMG I KNOW WHAT THE PRIZE CAN BE! the winner chooses an anime that you have to blog and stick with for 5 episodes no matter what the choice may be!

  44. Denied!

    I did consider some sort of "Blogger of the Day" deal where the winner got to blog a show for a week, whichever they wanted.

  45. A

    What if the winner was crap at blogging?

  46. No one would be injured in the slightest and we'd all move on with our lives?

  47. A

    Enzo I like your idea of picking someone to blog a show. You should definitely do it.

  48. J

    I will come up with a guess of your top 10 after some thought (I need to engage in the litany of disabling my anti-cataclysm measures first), and I'll be damned if I leave Danshi Koukousei off of that list. That show is STILL making me laugh almost a year later.

  49. A

    For me, lately the articles have been doubled: the text within the articles repeats in its entirety once. Any idea why that might be?

  50. Nope, haven't seen that or had anyone else report it. What browser?

  51. A

    That's what I was trying to say yesterday in my comment above Enzo (browser: firefox btw). It happened only once to me so far though, and just yesterday.


  52. A

    It happened yesterday but fixed now…everything is looking good, and I am using Safari.


  53. s

    Not just the text, the whole article. It happened to this one, but now it is correct. The Winter preview still repeats, at least on Opera.

  54. Gehehe, Blogger really does suck balls.

  55. A

    Hisoka will be sad if HxH doesn't make it to no.1 😀

  56. A

    and aroused when HxH manages to get the no. 1 spot…lol xD!

  57. J

    My guess at your top 10 is below. I thought I would include Nichibros on the list, but this year had more quality shows than I remembered until I went back and checked. Looks like I'll be damned.

    10. Ano Natsu de Matteru
    9. Jormungand (I really, REALLY thought this would be placed higher, which made it hard as hell to guess what could be higher than it)
    8. Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
    7. Sakamichi no Apollon
    6. Bakuman 2
    5. Eureka Seven AO
    4. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
    3. Nazo no Kanojo X
    2. Tsuritama
    1. Chihayafuru

    My personal favorites this year were Tsuritama, Acchi Kocchi, and Jormungand. Acchi Kocchi was a surprise for a lot of viewers, based on its reception on the RC podcasts, and I loved it to pieces.

  58. a

    My guesses:

    Ano Natsu, Jormungand, Tonari, Nazo no Kanojo X, Hyouka, Jinrui, HxH, Chihayafuru, Tsuritama

  59. You guys nailed #9 and 10!

  60. A

    I'm just surprised nobody thinks he'll put F/Z up there at all? Also this suspense is terrible Enzo D:

  61. B

    Pretty sure F/Z isn't going to make it, Enzo hated the main character and spent most of every blog post about the show enumerating why he was a terrible human being who deserved to die in a fire. F/Z was ambtious, it was well drawn, and it had a lot of intriguing characters, but can a show make a person's top 10 list when that person hated the main character? I'd call it unlikely at best.

  62. A

    He mentioned Fate/Zero when he was talking about how he was making his list, so I expect it will be there. And yes, you could hate the main character and still have an anime in your top ten. (For me it's in top five). And he didn't spend every blog post hation on Kiritsugu. It wasn't untill episode 18-19, that he made it well known.

  63. A

    oh yeah NOW I remember the Kiritsugu flame wars lol

  64. Pretty narrow-minded and selective memory there, Beckett.

  65. B

    I really don't see how it's narrow-minded to suggest that hating a show's primary protagonist might, in most cases, cause a show to not make top 10 of the year. I specifically called it unlikely rather than impossible, maybe Iskandar's off the scale GAR is enough to make up for the handicap of hating the protag in this case, I don't know and won't until you release the rest of the list. I merely said that I don't expect to see it.

    As for selective memory, I was being hyperbolic. I was not trying to literally suggest that Kiritsugu's bad points were all you talked about. But for me and I imagine at least a few others, those posts (and the resulting comment wars) were easily the most memorable posts you made for that show. The only other thing from those posts that I remember as clearly is the times you talked about how awesome Iskandar was (best character IMO).

    Again, I could be wrong and maybe it will still make it, but you heaped praise on Ano Natsu for it's entire run and it only made #10 so I don't see a big chance. Only 7 more to go and I'm almost 100% certain that Jinrui, Bakuman, Chihaya, Nazo no Kanojo, and Tsuritama are making the list. Doesn't leave a lot of room for a show like Fate/Zero that you praised some weeks and seemed to slam others. I do hope to be proven wrong though because IMO F/Z deserves top 10 status easily.

  66. B

    Oh forgot to add, since you specifically wrote in an exception for Hunter x Hunter, I expect it to make the list two, leaving only 1 slot for F/Z to possibly fill. I really don't see you picking it over a show like Sakamichi no Apollon or Natsuyuki Rendezvous though.

  67. Sorry – maybe that was too harsh, but it irritates me that the Kiritsugu controversy is all you remember about those posts when Kiritsugu probably was the subject of 5% of my F/Z blogs, and 95% of the 5% that was about him came from commenters and not from me.

    Now – was the other 95% universally positive? No – because I had some issues with F/Z that were totally unrelated to any I had with Kiritsugu. But most of it was praise for the many, many things I think the show did well.

  68. B

    Sorry that's all I remember, I read hundreds and hundreds of your posts throughout the course of a year. I don't have an eidetic memory so if I can't help if only certain noteworthy things stick almost a year later. Considering I can barely remember what I did yesterday I'm amazed I remember anything at all from that long ago.

  69. B

    I haven't seen E7:AO but I'm liking the picks so far otherwise. Glad Ano Natsu made it… despite finishing with a whimper instead of a bang IMO it was still an extremely well written and enjoyable show.

  70. B

    There are three shows I knew that there were going to be on the list which I would disagree with: Jormungand, Eureka 7 AO and HunterxHunter. How weird this may sound I'm glad the first two are on the low end of the list.

    In other news I'm currently rewatching Chihayafuru to ready myself for the second season I can't believe I'd forgotten how good this show is. Admittedly some of the fans of this can be a little obnoxious. :p

  71. A

    I'd see where you would have contention with E7 and HxH, but what was wrong with Jormungand.

  72. A

    I love AI, too, and couldn't avoid shedding tears every time I watched it. Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean is a great choice for the top 10 — not my top 10, but I agree…I like Bones' willingness to take risks in making it unique while honouring the spirit of the original.


  73. K

    I'm so glad to see AO actually get on a top ten list. Well, I thought you might, but after seeing Jormungand up there already I was worried. Between it and Zetsuen, I'm glad to see Bones doing some good work, even if AO wasn't even close to as well received as it should have been.

  74. G

    Well, it's not the first time I find myself agreeing with you. I love A.I, it's one of my favorite films of all time, and I love E7:Ao. I guess I am a bit biased since BONES happens to be my favorite studio, but I have enough reasons to justify my sentiment. At the end of day, it all comes down to personal opinion. I'm guessing Hyouka and Natsuyuki Rendezvous will probably be placed higher.

  75. m

    i'm guessing jinrui, tonari, chihayafuru and tsuritama. i hope at least one of them get in top 5 (if not all) :D:D

  76. A

    Whoot whoot…Hyouka made it to the top 10! Love the show — not simply the art which is exquisite but had fallen in love with the characters. Thank-you, Enzo

  77. A

    whoops…forgot to add my name…

    BTW, Enzo, the title switched back to 2011 Anime in Review…see I do pay attention… 🙂


  78. A

    I never thought you would of put Hyouka in front of E7AO. I still think Im seeing things. lol

  79. e

    Guessing the remaining titles… I'm much less confident about their position in the list, especially the top 3 :p:
    1. Chihayafuru s1
    2. Tsuritama
    3. Hunter x Hunter
    4. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun or Nazo no Kanojo X
    5. Jinrui
    6. Natsuyuki Rendez-vous

  80. A

    This is off topic… It's Christmas eve here, but it's already Christmas day in Japan. Enjoy a joyous Christmas time there, Enzo — will you have sushi for Christmas instead of turkey this year? Have fun.


  81. A

    Enjoy your christmas Enzo
    I'm guessing that Tsuritama is your no.1

  82. A

    Yay for Tonari…and can't agree more with placing this show on the top 10 list.


  83. S

    My prediction for Enzo's Top 5. Tsuritama, Chihayafuru, Jintai, Sakamichi no Apollon and Nazo no Kanojo X.
    Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Enzo. Looking forward to another great year of anime-watching with LiA 😉

  84. B

    He specifically wrote in an exception allowing HunterxHunter to be eligible despite not ending this year so I expect to see it, probably in place of Sakamichi.

  85. A

    Am agreeing with Beckett here on the top 5.

  86. S

    Oh darn, you're right Beckett. I completely forgot about Hunter X Hunter. There goes my haiku 🙁
    My revised list: Tsuritama, Chihayafuru, Hunter X Hunter, Jintai, and Nazo no Kanojo X.

  87. A

    You see it first here, folks.

    Enzo's top 5
    1. Chihayafuru
    2. HxH
    3. Tsuritama
    4. Jintai
    5. Nazo no Kanojo X or Sakamichi no Apollon

    My prize should just a modest mention by Enzo, in line of "Anonymous got it right."

  88. B

    I think Nazo no Kanojo over Sakamichi, Sakamichi was good but IMO it really needed 2 cours to be great, it felt quite rushed at the end.

  89. a

    I agree with Beckett. This is probably the remaining shows. While I personally enjoyed Sakamichi, the ending really pulled it down in terms of ratings.

  90. A

    Hey Anon, you got #4 and #5 right…!


  91. A

    I told ya, Ronbb. I've leaked the list for you all. I'm 100% confident that even in the worst case senario, I've got 3 of 5 outright correct with the 2 of them mixed up in order (and that'd be only because Enzo changed his mind after I leaked the list). You know as they say, "Anonymous got it right." This was way too easy.

    Fate zero had no chance at all anyway to be in Enzo's top 10. That doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, since it'll be in top 10 of almost all anime watchers. In most cases, the majority decides whether a series was great or not.

  92. In most cases, the majority decides whether a series was great or not.

    You can't put a price on comedy like that.

  93. B

    Yeah… I loved F/Z but the only thing the majority decides is whether a series is popular, not great. I don't think I need to even point out examples of things that are popular but not great, we all know what they are in every form of media.

  94. A

    glad that I put a little fun in your life with my comedy, enzo. Any time.

    I am still right on your top 5 pick. The only remaining are
    1. Chihayafuru
    2. Tsuritama

  95. A

    It's interesting for you to compare Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun and Hyouka. Sasayan felt like Satoshi in a way – the smiling-faced supporting male character with a lot more depth than we at first give him credit for. But they're completely different people at heart, too.

    Those two shows delivered the most powerful B-couples of the year, in my opinion.

  96. A

    I really disagree with tonari being better than hyouka. even being better than ano natsu is a stretch.

  97. l

    I'm waiting for the whole list to come out before I post my thoughts.

  98. a

    I thought Tonari would have fared higher in your list. Nevertheless, I liked the comparison of Tonari and Hyouka. I couldn't agree more.

  99. a

    Ano Natsu for me was lacking in the character department. I couldn't connect/get to like any of the main cast (besides Lemon) which is a pity considering everything else was, as you said, spot on. Especially the direction.

    Other than that, I'm of the opinion that Jormungand's anime actually surpassed the manga at times. I'm also glad to see Tonari in your top 10.

  100. A

    Great choice for MGX. Most people can't get passed the drool and see the magic of this show, and it is really a wonderful surprise — I like its scores as well…it's very fitting.


  101. B

    I did enjoy Nazo no Kanojo X and I can understand why it's on the list, but I must confess I never did quite get past the drool. I think it was the way they animated it, it looked like some kind of viscous slimy mucous or something instead of saliva, it grossed me out every time. Still it was a great show aside from that personal complaint and while it probably wouldn't have made my list it is a worthy contender.

  102. H

    Nazo no Kanojo X is one of my favorite series I've seen, because they were just able to capture so well the feelings of high school relationship, as well as portray the progress they made, slow as it may have been. I also never had a problem with the drool part, at all, and found the entire concept fascinating.

    I certainly didn't know anything about it going in, but it was a wonderful surprise from the very beginning of the series.

  103. m

    your review does make me want to reconsider watching nazo x kanojo, but i figure it would take me pretty long to get pass the weirdness of the drool itself ><

  104. Trust me – get past it. Look away if it bothers you. This is a special show, and well worth it.

  105. m

    it does look like it's going the way anonymous said it would. looking forward to the rest!

  106. A

    so I started watching Chihayafuru
    because you guys kept mentionning how much Enzo loves it :D,and you know what it's really pretty amazing

    I guess it will come down to what kind of a person you're ,my favourite type is the advensure action type of show,mix it with well written,intelligent,physcological and deep characters and you get my favourite :3 ,HxH

    goes to continue Chihayafuru

  107. A

    oh forgot to say,looking at the ranks ,I guess you can say that Enzo's favourite would be Chihayafuru

  108. m

    now i'm crossing my fingers chihayafuru gets to the top 😀

  109. A

    Same here 😛


  110. a

    Such a shame that Zet. no Tempest isn't on this.
    Ah, well, it better be next year, lol(unless second cour totally blows)

  111. A

    It's not finished yet, so it won't be included in this year's — just like Psycho-Pass, Robotics;Notes, Shinsekai Yori, and Uchuu Kyoudai.


  112. A

    I wonder if the little gem called 'Mirai Nikki' will make the list XD!

  113. B

    It won't, the remaining two are 100% certainly Tsuritama and Chihayafuru, the only question is which will be #1 and which #2.

  114. A

    Aww, I was hoping that HxH would get the second spot on your top ten list but I think I can live with it being number three for now haha. Is it because it isn't finished yet?

  115. S

    I'm rooting hard for Team Tsuritama Enzo!!! Bibibibibibiiii…

  116. g

    guessing sakamichi and tsuritama as 1 and 2!

  117. A

    Hisoka is coming for you Enzo 😀

  118. a

    I'm happy that Chihayafuru got to place second on your list Enzo! Expect me to be active in your upcoming forum posts of season 2. 😀 I would love to have another strong train scene moment again. Too bad we can't call it Taichi Tuesdays anymore. hahahah! :)))

  119. Friendzone Fridays, here we come…

  120. C

    Ahhh Tsuritama takes out no.1 after all 😛 well I guessed as much but you had me in suspense for a little while. Chihayafuru still my favorite though! Thanks for an awesome year of blogging Enzo, and for hanging in there even with how ridiculously busy you are. Keep making your way in Japan and HAPPY (slightly early) NEW YEAR 🙂

  121. I

    Enzo you spoiled season 2 for me. I didn't know there would be no members of the Karuta club and voiced by miyu miyu of all people. I want to read the manga bad now. 2 weeks away, can I last?

    I also think Chihayafuru is a mix of genre's rather than a single one. It's a bit fluffy without being too much, very exciting without being over the top and incredibly mature and touching when it needs to be.

    My No 1. anime for the year is coming back (yours is Sakamachi isn't it, although I find the lack of Tsuritama anywhere on the list disturbing)

  122. A

    Chihayafuru is my no. 1, but I am happy that it stays so high up on your list. This show holds a special spot for me, and it's my first link to LiA — I discovered LiA since you started blogging Chihayafuru on RC, and now LiA is my first place to go to. I come to your site after watching an episode to learn about and reflect on what I have just seen — the experience has been intellectually inspiring.

    2012 for sure is a great year. Thanks Enzo for blogging all the wonderful shows this year — even for shows that no one else understood the magic behind (like Kingdom) and when you had such a big relocation and change in your life. I look forward to another awesome anime journey with LiA in 2013. Wishing you happy and successful in Japan. Happy New Year.


  123. A

    #1 for Enzo is Space Brothers. I got it, right?

  124. A

    This show is still airing, so it's not included in this year's.


  125. S

    It'll be #1 next year, baring some masterpiece that we don't know about yet.

  126. N

    Delighted tonari, hxh and chihayafuru all made the cut. Amazing shows which I truly enjoyed. I've yet to watch hyouka which looks beautifully animated. I'm excited to see your number one spot!!!

  127. K

    My #1 series of the year is Fate Zero. Its an amazing production from one end to the other. The whole family of stories (Fate Zero, Fate/Stay, Unlimited Bladeworks) is just amazing.

  128. S

    You just made a Little Prince very happy, my good Sir 😉
    Let's do the Enoshima Dance to celebrate! Haino! Haino! Haino!

  129. B

    I wasn't SURE that Tsuritama would take first over Chihayafuru, but if someone had held a gun to my head and forced me to pick, that would have been my guess. Overall I think I did a pretty good job predicting what would make the list. The only real surprise for me was Tonari, which I felt was good but not necessarily top 10 of the year good. I definitely don't think it was better than Ano Natsu for example. But by and large for anyone who's been following the blog for the entire year there aren't that many surprises here.

  130. A

    For me Aquarion Evol. Its surpasses in every department everything that finished airing this year.

  131. m

    two madhouse productions in top 3? lol, has it become your favourite studio now? 😛
    mamoru miyano makes everything better! hououin kyouma!

  132. I still rank Brains Base #1, but Madhouse and I.G. are right there.

    Thanks for all the good thoughts and kind New Years Wishes, all – one more post in the top 10, then the usual wrap-up posts to follow.

  133. K

    Brains Base & Madhouse are my two favorite studios as well. Love their diversity.

  134. m

    i would go with brain's base and production i.g as favourites for the moment, especially brain's base. their visuals are consistent 🙂

  135. K

    Now I know what your number 1 will be….a certain fishing show? 🙂

    Actually I kind of expected Hunter X Hunter or Chihayafuru to be No. 1 so you surprised me.

  136. A

    Tie for first place between Tsuritama and Sakamichi no Apollon? Can't imagine you leaving either of these off the list.

  137. J

    So, Guilty Crown for the #1 spot?


  138. Gehehe.

    There are worse. I sure hated Blood-C a lot more, that's for sure.

  139. B

    No no, you're watching Blood-C wrong. If you choose to view it as a deliberate attempt to troll the viewers then it's actually pretty brilliant.

  140. R

    I disagree. Guilty Crown shouldn't be on top, especially if you look at the ratings. Jormungand for me, thnx!

  141. A

    No Natsume Yuujinchou? I'm a little disappointed, but it's your blog, not mine haha.

  142. A

    It'll probably be in the 11-20 list

  143. A

    I really thought it would have placed in the top ten, considering the amount of times it made my friends and I cry, smile, etc, but now that I think about it Enzo wasn't quite as raving as I projected him to be. Until then!

  144. A

    Well, I'm somewhat in a similar boat then. I love the franchise and had watched through out all seasons, and it's one of those shows that is pretty safe to know that is going to really connect with on an emotional level.

    That said, I think that I recall Enzo once mentioning that the latter season were somewhat weaker (or weren't as strong) than the earlier seasons, a point I don't exactly agree with fully, but I could see how he might have not felt that it was at the top of this years croup.

    I mean, I loved the show and all, but I'd be hard pressed to rank in the top 10 with the amount of shows that were fantastic in this year.

  145. Natsume was an agonizing omission. It was unbelievably close.

  146. K

    Yeah Enzo I can't believe you didn't rank Natsume I just think years from now you will regret that choice.

    Okay just kidding..well maybe! XD

  147. A

    On the first pick, I approve 😀 (http://i.imgur.com/1PMDx.jpg)

    Overall, I think that the final 3 picks were fairly obvious in hindsight once you revealed that you'd be including Hunter X Hunter and your limitless love for both Tsuritama and Chihayafuru. Some of the other decisions were somewhat obvious as well, but I think that the hardest thing to predict was the ranking for each series. I would've imagined that Hyouka for example would've ranked much higher, and I wouldn't imagine Jinrui being in the top 5 either. The final three as well would've been impossible to accurately guess the order they would fall in (since you had made it perfectly clear you love all of them in nearly equal ways).

    In any case, great list. I would've not picked certain shows (mainly due to the fact I have yet to watch them. Slowly getting back to the groove of things after the exams …) and I would've ranked some shows differently, but it is very much in tone with what you've written over th past year.

    My own list if your curios:

    1. Tsuritama
    2. Hunter X Hunter
    3. Hyouka
    4. Chihayafuru
    5. Inu x Boku SS (expecting this to be in the 11-20 list that you might publish sometime later?)
    6. Nazo no Kanojo X
    7. Ano Natsu
    8. Tari Tari (Probably another honourable mention for you?)
    9. Sakamichi no Apollon (will be close in rank to Shirokuma Café I'd think)
    10. Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

    Honourable mentions (not in any particular order) goes to Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (Going by how much you had fawned over this show (will, at least during the better eisodes) I'm expecting it to be a distant 20 in you list. Maybe), Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu (the liberal interpretation was fairly interesting, if ultimately the series greatest undoing), Kokoro Connect (it wasn't really great IMO, but it was fairly interesting and presented some thought provoking ideas even if it failed to handle them in the manner they deserved. And it most certainly doesn't deserve to be marred by the controversy it is now branded with), Busou Shinki (Mainly for the CG action) and Black Rock Shooter (same as previous show, from a technical point it is a really outstanding show. From a written perspective it is quite bad, but still some sick action in the otherworld scenes) and Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean ( I like the show, but don't really love it like I thought I would've. Still some impressive audiovisual showing as expected from BONES)

    Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb, Natsume Saint Seyia Omega, Ginga, SpaceBro's, Gintama and the like are exempted and whatnot.

  148. A

    And I nearly forgot, but other shows that I enjoyed (though I wouldn't rank highly) are Symphogear, Binbougami Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou. These are not exactly guily pleasuers (since I'm more than happy to admit to liking them for what they are) but at the same time they don't have the edge necessary for me to put them among the best that the year had to offer (even if they were insanely fun watches)

  149. Our tastes are indeed quite similar. I won't be ranking Shirokuma until the 2013 list, of course.

    Hyouka was definitely the hardest show on this list to rank. If I were picking the best five episodes of every show it definitely would have been higher. But it was also, in some important ways, the most flawed show on this list. I could see a case for ranking it much higher, or not in the Top 10 at all.

  150. A

    Tsuritama is also my favorite show of the year. It had been a while since the last time I had that much fun watching an anime. It never failed to put a smile on my face.

  151. g

    Butthurt and honestly baffled that Sakamichi no Apollon didn't make the list. I thought for sure it would have been a tie even though it's not like you, but you've made several exceptions on this list already so..

    Butthurt because i think reading your posts just gave it the extra boost in my watch experience and i would say is a reason why i liked the series so much

    Baffled because wat how please explain 🙁

  152. J

    Sakamichi no Apollon got so inconsistent around the middle part of its run, and if you read Enzo's discourse on that subject, you'd be able to surmise that it should have been near the bottom of the top ten list, if not just outside it.

    I really enjoyed it but the pacing became so rushed and as a result, the character interactions suffered. Referencing one even in particular, Sen's father coming home should have had more impact on viewers. It didn't because it felt forced, rushed, and manufactured. All I remember of the last four episodes was that they were a blur of character and plot developments that didn't get the depth they deserved.

    Put simply (and debatably), Sakamichi needed a second cour to really allow its entire story to shine.

  153. J

    Additionally, I have to agree that Enzo's insight, particularly his commentary on the jazz elements of the show, really enhanced my viewing experience of Sakamichi no Apollon.

  154. I really felt a tie would have been cheating, and I've determined not to use that in any future top 10 lists. I'll be touching base on Sakamichi before the year is over.

  155. g

    Well Enzo's posts didn't come across that way to me at all. Welp, it just seems like you're just better at assuming Enzo's outlooks than i am, tyvm.

    I guess I would say I like Sakamichi as a series. And I see how the anime itself does have a lot of flaws. The anime just enhanced the manga, which I read/watched both at the same time. No need to point out stuff I don't know.

  156. h

    I read your review of Tsuritama at RC and this led me to LiA. It is also my fav of 2012. Eno-Shima-DON!

  157. C

    Something fishy going on here… and it's not that Tsuritama came out on top. I agree: it's superb, and its Extraterrestrial Threat To The Earth proved to be one of the greatest MacGuffins in anime. But what about Natsume Yuujinchou Shi? No room for Nyanko-sensei this year?

  158. K

    Although I rank Chihayafuru above Tsuritama as my number one for the year and one of my favorites of all time now, Tsuritama is also very high up on my list as well and I think it is an extremely underrated series so I am glad to see you speak of it so highly

    I can't really rank series but my favorites are

    No 1: Chihayafuru

    Runner Up Favorites (in no order) Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, Shirokuma Cafe, Tsuritama

    Very Strong Honorable Mentions(in no order) : Fate Zero, Hyouka, Uchuu Kyodai, and Uta Koi

  159. L

    "I wish the series had saved its best moment – the Joshu-kun origin arc – for last, and I was disappointed that Assistant disappeared for the last few episodes."

    I don't think this was the best part of the series to be honest. I could see what they were trying to do, but in the end seemed a rather laborious way to go about it. It was more Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu-style 'clever' than brilliant.

  160. S

    I've been following this but I decided to save my comment until the last one had been mentioned!

    I definitely agree with you on several titles, although I do not think very highly of E7AO. But I'm really happy to see that Tsuritama is so appreciated by you. It's one of my favourites of 2012 as well.

    Happy new year, Enzo! I hope 2012 was good for you, and that 2013 is even better! :]

  161. You too Stereo, thanks! And I forgive you about AO.

  162. m

    I watched Tsuritama for the last 2, 3 days because of this, becaus eof you.

    Thank you! I am so high on the warm and fuzzy feelings from the ending right now!

    The fact they got this made gives me so much hope. What else might be possible? 😀

    Tsuritama has soem genuine storytelling magic in it. Like a great fairytale, only better and less moralizing and more fun and bonkers! 😀

    Here is my possibly quite incoherent review on MAL: http://myanimelist.net/profile/reachupwards/reviews

    Thank you again, Enzo. Your writing keeps makign me happy, be it your fanfiction or your blog posts making me watch the best Japan has to offer.

    This is the country where the most popular Manga is an ode to silliness incarnate. Oh Japan! 🙂 Me love you long time, my dear favourite country! 😀


  163. LOL, thank you! Another "fishing soul" created…

  164. m

    Indeed! 😀 Arrigato for continuing to be my anime taste-maker ;). Didn't get to watch much anime most of 2012 and your TOP 10/20 is a great way to catch up with the good stuff.

  165. J

    Tsuritama was a great show, but I still think I preferred Hyouka over it, but I can't blame you for picking Tsuritama.

    However I do feel like you judge different series by different yard sticks. For Jinrui Wa Suitai Shimashita, you say it's individual parts were cool even though it had low points and didn't come together quite as a whole, but for those individual aspects you still put it quite high on your list. But for Hyouka you also mention it has it's highs and lows, but for that reason, even though it did come together as a whole, you put it lower on your list.

    Aside from it being my favorite (and only having watched Tsuritama, Hyouka, Jinrui, Ao & Shirokuma Cafe), I guess I just like consistency in grading.

    Personally I like Hyouka, because what it did best, it did effortlessly, and on top of that it just completely hit home for me because of how subtle and well-done the character arcs were. However even though Tsuritama was competent, hit all its marks, and was incredibly joyful, what it did was less interesting to me as a whole.

    Just my two cents, I've enjoyed your reviews for the past year, especially the round-ups after the first couple episodes to know what to check out. Thanks again!

  166. Thank you too for the reply, John. But to be fair, what you said I said is not what I said – you changed the wording pretty meaningfully there.

    For me, Jinrui's inconsistency was less of a problem because with Hyouka, there were probably at least 6-8 episodes which were no better than "pretty good". There was no episode on Jinrui that wasn't above that level, at least for me. As I've said, Hyouka was the hardest series on the list to rank. It's highs were unbelievable and it ended beautifully, but there's a lot of indifferent material for it to be called a truly great show. That's the quandary.

  167. J

    Hmm, I may have summarised certain things a tad too far, sorry about that!

    I guess for me even those episodes in Hyouka that are "pretty good" and "indifferent" as you say, add to the overall experience of the show. You need those dips to have the other episodes be more powerful (see Sakimichi no Apollon for a series which didn't get that and tried to pack something emotional into every episode). They strengthen the overarching experience of the series for me and make the emotion hit all the stronger when it does.

    Aside from that, I guess I felt like some of the episodes in Jinrui were a bit laborious, making things just a bit too confusing so they could stretch each arc out to 2 episodes. I think the overall structure and pacing of the series also did it in for me in the end, with the high point around the assistant in the middle, and especially ending on the school episodes which felt tonally out of place. I liked the out-of-order gimmick originally and the wild distopian fantasy world, but it didn't really pay off in the end or create anything bigger than the sum of its parts.

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