2012 Anime Year in Review – Wrap-up

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Without a doubt, 2012 was a very good year to be an anime fan.

A while back I made a post about what I consider the best anime season ever, Spring of 2007.  In that post (which was right about the beginning of Spring 2012) I speculated that the coming season had the chance to be the best since then.  And while it didn’t approach it’s predecessor in terms of genuine classics, I think it proved to be truly stellar – indeed, quite possibly the best anime season of the last five years.

In my Top 10 list, no less than five of the top ten shows were from Spring, the best record of any season since I’ve been blogging.  Not only that, 8 of the top 20 came from that season – and it provided three more shows that are still going strong, and certain to make my Top 20 shows in 2013.  Here’s a list of the gems from last Spring:

  • Tsuritama
  • Nazo no Kanojo X
  • Hyouka
  • Eureka Seven AO
  • Jormungand
  • Sakamichi no Apollon
  • Fate/Zero
  • Sankarea
  • Uchuu Kyoudai
  • Ginga e Kickoff
  • Shirokuma Café

A very impressive lineup, indeed.  Here’s the breakdown on the Top 10 list:
By Season:

  • Summer 2011: 1
  • Fall 2011: 1
  • Winter: 1
  • Spring: 5
  • Summer: 1
  • Fall: 1

By Studio:

  • Madhouse: 2
  • A-1 Pictures: 1
  • AIC: 1
  • Hoods: 1
  • Brains Base: 1
  • Kyoto Animation: 1
  • BONES: 1
  • White Fox: 1
  • JC Staff: 1

A-1, Brains Base, White Fox and AIC are the only studios represented on both the 2011 and 2012 lists.

By Source Material:

  • Original: 4
  • Manga: 4
  • LN: 1
  • Novel: 1

Only 1 LN adaptation has made list in each of the last 2 years, with manga holding 9 spots and original series 7.  Not a coincidence.

On balance I think 2012 goes down as a very good year for anime on television.  Both deep and strong at the top with several outstanding series, it was a solid year across the board – apart from an overwhelming clustering o the top series in Spring (usually the best season, though not by this margin).  In what was likely its final year NoitaminA offered arguably its best season ever with Tsuritama and Sakamichi, but was down on the whole – with only one series in the Top 10 and 3 in the Top 20. 

So where does 2012 rank overall?  It’s not on a par with 2007, but may very well be the best year since.  At first glance 2013 doesn’t look nearly so promising.  By this point last year we already had an  impressive lineup of shows officially slated for Spring, and Winter looked pretty decent as well (as it turned out to be, with a strong presence in the 11-20 list).  2013 – both Winter and Spring – is overloaded with Cute Girls Being Cute shows and series obviously designed with BD sales in mind, with a relatively small number of really interesting looking series.  I’m not so worried about Winter – it’s normally a so-so season and we have a very good group of carry-overs from 2012 – but I am concerned that Spring doesn’t look more promising.  As history and 2012 illustrate, in many cases as Spring goes, so goes the entire year.

In terms of movies and OVAs, 2012 was a step down from 2011 for me, and there was nothing as revelatory as Colorful.  There were some very solid films: superstar director Hosoda Mamoru’s Ookami Kodomo was a notch below Summer Wars, though excellent.  Ghibli’s From up on Poppy Hill represented a vindication of sorts for Miyazaki Goro.  And the writer/director team from Natsume Yuujinchou brought us the short but beautiful – and heartbreaking – Hotarubi no Mori e.  I also found the UN-GO “Inga-ron” OVA to be an excellent addition to the mythology.  BONES continues to impress me by how willing they are to take chances.

2012 represented another big leap forward for Lost in America, and as always I’m grateful for all your support.  In addition to more than doubling traffic from 2011, we made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Aniblog Tourney.  As I’ve experienced the monumental change moving to Japan represents, this community has been a stabilizing influence and I couldn’t have gotten through all this with my sanity intact without it.  2013 promises to be an extremely busy and challenging year, but I’ll do my best to maintain the standards I’ve tried to set at LiA.  Premières start this week, and I’ll be publishing my “Best of the best” awards as well.  I look forward to an exciting year, and sharing my experiences in Japan with the LiA readers.  Akemashite omedetou gozimasu.




  1. M

    Is there a list of Spring 2013 shows you could share? I was expecting a pretty good season since off the top of my head there are at least two shows I was very much looking forward to seeing animated: Shingeki no Kyojin and Aku no Hana. I can already predict the former is going to be huge in terms of popularity (and quality) and the latter is probably going to be at least wildly controversial (although if I had to guess, not a show you'd enjoy).

    That being said, thanks for another year of LiA and I wish you the very best both in the blogosphere and Japan!

  2. A

    Thanks Enzo for this post…and the many and many posts of yours in 2012. 2012 is sure a great year, and it has become a habit of mine to come here after watching an episode. This habit will continue in 2013, and all the best to you in Japan.


  3. A

    2012 HAS been an amazing year. There were so many new favorite series and characters to add on my lists! My stand-out favorites of this year had to be Hyouka, Tsuritama, and Ano Natsu. All of them belong in my top 10 shows.

    Also, I feel like this is an appropriate place to put this:

  4. a

    2012 was an amazing year. I've got some animes to place in my all-time top 10. It was also the year I actually got interested with anime again. The past years were just okay but it did make me lose interest with anime a bit.

  5. B

    Heck of a year. I can't say there were many "instant classic" style high points but if there weren't many grand slams, the batting average overall was still very very high. Don't need too many grand slams if you're hitting doubles every other time you're at bat.

  6. a

    Are we looking at the same Spring 2013? There's like 2 original shows slated already and adaptations of highly acclaimed manga like Aku no Hana and Shingeki no Kyojin. Silver Spoon might actually air in Spring too. There's sequels of Ore no Imouto and Railgun that might air then too.

  7. I'm certainly not down on Spring yet, as the full list of shows is nowhere near complete. But compared to where we were last year at this time, it doesn't look nearly as good three months out. No NoitaminA doesn't help either – though if we get Silver Spoon, that would help – a lot.

  8. A

    I read Silver Spoon (or what's available so far). Since I went to a agricultural high school (up in the mountain and surrounded by forest. I, or rather, the school, had pretty much everything this manga covers), I was mildly curious. Heck, I WAS (and still am) a city boy through and through before I went there.

    I didn't find it to be that impressive nor do I consider it to be a masterpiece, so I disagree that it's a game changer. It may help, sure as it's not bad, but not by "a lot". I do think that it will find some audience, since not many city folks have direct experience of these barn/farm school stuff and perhaps that is a part of the appeal. I, however, find it to be basically in the same mold as countless other slice-of-life genre manga: the same characters+ the similar plot development set in a farm school (once you read and watch enough stuff, you start to find a pattern, I'm sure most would know). And as I mentioned, I already knew most of these stuff (it was fun in retrospect having to wake up 5:30am every morning to clean a horse barn and feed them during winter before going to classes 5 days a week. Needlessly to say, I was miserable at the time and I was like 17), so I just don't find this series engaging enough. Well sorry to be a party pooper.

  9. A

    Hey anyone who visits here an Enzo: is there a heavily political themed anime?

    Jormungand touched a little bit from time to time on global geopolitics and I tried to think real hard over this, but can't think of even one, let alone, 3 or 5 anime that is about politics. There is just none! How can this be?? Almost any other human topic can be found in Japanese anime, but no politics? Now there are "some" in manga, such as Sanctuary (oldie) and Akumetsu, but a fat chance Akumetsu will get animated. Guaranteed, Japanese politic system is very different from my country's, but so I don't know how well such anime will translate, but that didn't stop me from enjoying those two manga I mentioned (in the case of Akumetsu, maybe I just enjoyed comically sleazy and corrupted politicians being killed off one by one. I can't decide).

  10. Believe it or not, about the best recent anime about politics is KoiChoco. It's student politics, but you can tell those parts were written by a political geek because they get a lot of the details down just right.

  11. A

    hmm. I will check it out -although the review doesn't seem to be too kind for it on a quick glance, I will give a shot regardless.

    I was hoping to find an anime about the actual politic system (i.e. the real thing; politicians politics and not work-politics nor school-politics), though. I think "Un-Go" had mild political theme, but again, it's similar to Jormungand that it fiddled around the edges when it comes to the real political system. Can't fault them, though, since those shows were not about a country's political system and their politicians. None I can think of is about politics and politics alone. Nothing like "mr. smith goes to washington" or "Lincoln" or those two mangas I mentioned in the original post. Anybody has got a clue? Is this indirect politics all there is in Japanese anime medium? If so, shame on the studios and shame on us.

  12. H

    Perhaps Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East), although that's a lot about shadow systems and overthrow.

  13. l

    Regarding your Favorite 2012 series poll: What do you mean choose up to 5?! My first pass netted me 15 choices. Sheesh. Talk about having to whittle down and making hard choices. 2012 was a very good year for me. So many good shows. Too many to be honest. I had to drop some simple for lack of time that in other years I would have kept with. *sigh* Well, I'll look at those dropped shows as potential catch-up opportunities if 2013 doesn't offer as many strong shows.

  14. S

    Personally I did not have that much time to watch anime this year, due too school and such. But two series that stood out for me in 2012 was of course Sword Art Online and Fate/Zero. Both with beautiful animation and music and a really good story. But I hope to be watching more this year, after I'm done with Gosick.

  15. L

    "In terms of movies and OVAs, 2012 was a step down from 2011 for me"

    Did you happen to see Sakasama no Patema? The OVA that came out earlier this year is certainly among the more beautiful releases. I recommend checking it out before the movie comes out: http://myanimelist.net/anime/13429/Sakasama_no_Patema:_Beginning_of_the_Day

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