Another year passes by and what a way to kick off the New Year with goats as villains, boobtastic ninja’s and a devil babe who believes she’s unattractive because of her flabby arms DESPITE having the biggest rack this season. Oh did I mention 5 minute episodes everywhere? Fun, fun, fun… but enough about that, we’re not here to talk about 2013; we’re here to talk about 2012! Although last year had been quite the letdown overall, it did have its moments here and there. So without further ado, let me show you what I believed to have been the highlights of 2012!

#10 Nisemonogatari

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It has been a while since I’ve watched Bakemonogatari and the whole crazy camera angle stuff really threw a big left hook at me. I was expecting it somewhat because it’s SHAFT but wow, toothbrushes? Who would’ve thought! *ahem* So on a serious note, I did enjoy Nisemono for how crazy and ridiculous it got but I’ve never read the books and expected something more like Bakemonogatari. Unfortunately it was more of a slap-stick, light hearted comedy mixed with a few serious moments here and there. Nothing I expected but it was still very SHAFT and very enjoyable. I can’t wait for Kizumonogatari and the rest of the books to be animated! Marathon it all once they come out!

Art: 7 out of 10
Story: 6 out of 10
Music : 7 out of 10
Characters : 8 out of 10
Overall rating: 7 out of 10

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#9 Chuunibyou demo koi ga shitai

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I’m kinda in two minds with this series. Near the end, I didn’t like how Yuuta got a terrible mood swing near the end of the show. Maybe it was just me but he was saying a lot of stuff he didn’t agree on himself. Like the whole “I’m gonna stick up for you and find that Horizon” act was cool, then he goes and starts ranting on about reality? I don’t get it! Why was his resolve so weak? It really ruined his character for me and I was suffering a bit near the end because of it.

Though overall, I do have to say that Chuunibyou was a very enjoyable show which really told a story about being who we want to be and enjoying life as who we are. Quote from Inaba from Kokoro Connect – “It’s your damn life so live it however you damn want!” Other than that, Chuunibyou showed us that KyoAni can actually do action series and make it look really good! Oh KyoAni… why always have such sexy animations for? <3

Art: 9 out of 10
Story: 6 out of 10
Music : 7 out of 10
Characters : 7 out of 10
Overall rating: 7 out of 10

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#8 Tsuritama

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ENO-SHIMA-DON!!! I never knew a fishing anime with aliens involved would turn out to be a really enjoyable show. The bright colours and Haru’s positive nature really lighted up the atmosphere every single time and that OP song! Don’t tell you’ve never tried at least ONCE dance along with the OP sequence! It’s so catchy! Maybe I’ll get a fish this time around! (Pun not intended… or was it?)

But seriously now, Tsuritama surprised me a LOT, there was a great cast of quirky characters and none of them were annoying at all even when their personalities differ very greatly between each other. There was a tale of friendship, a tale of trust and a tale of chasing ones dreams all mixed together in a supernatural fishing anime. Sounds ridiculous but it’s definitely not a show you’d want to pass up on!

Art: 8 out of 10
Story: 7 out of 10
Music : 7 out of 10
Characters : 7 out of 10
Overall rating: 7 out of 10

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#7 Sankarea

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You wouldn’t think Studio Deen would be able to create such a gorgeous piece of art would you? From the OP to the animation in nearly every episode and especially the ED, Studio Deen surprised us all with their animation quality. The word beautiful at times couldn’t give it justice. It was on par with KyoAni quality and even Ufotable quality at times and that amazed me. Alongside a fun cast of characters, the art and animation worked well hand-in-hand to create eye-candy while we slowly see the romance between Furuya and Rea develop.

Although the ending wasn’t satisfying, Sankarea did well to produce a romantic story with the little amount of content they had at the time, there wasn’t a closure to Furuya’s and Rea’s relationship but damn did I love watching these two interact with each other. There’s definitely flaws throughout the series but what Studio Deen did well was compensate for the awkward plot holes that appeared from rearranging the story with the little material they had through animation quality and the development between Rea and Furuya as a couple and as individual characters.

Art: 8 out of 10
Story: 6 out of 10
Music : 6 out of 10
Characters : 8 out of 10
Overall rating: 7 out of 10

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#6 Kuroko Basketball

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Unfortunately I haven’t seen or read Slam Dunk but from what I’ve heard from people who have seen/read Slam Dunk, I can say that Kuroko Basketball is like the modern Slam Dunk of today. Maybe not as popular or entertaining as Slam Dunk but definitely something refreshing after seeing a lot of childish sports anime’s that just doesn’t quite that themselves seriously enough. I for one, loved every second of Kuroko Basketball besides that one time when the two protagonists got into a girly fight and stopped talking to each other (luckily it didn’t last long).

Kuroko Basketball is blood pumping all the way. The concept of the show allows each of the casts to deliver a different style of basketball to the table; and a different personality as well. The movements are fluid and exhilarating, there’s no way you won’t get an adrenaline rush at least once watching this series and there’s none of that childish shit, Kuroko Basketball is mainly a serious sports anime but knows when to be funny and when we’re in need of some character development or plot twist.

Art: 7 out of 10
Story: 7 out of 10
Music : 8 out of 10
Characters : 7 out of 10
Overall rating: 7 out of 10

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#5 Mirai Nikki

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After finishing Mirai Nikki, I had a thirst for more psychological anime’s. Animes like Mirai Nikki where it really F#%K’s your mind up. Wow. It was definitely an experience for me watching Mirai Nikki since I’ve never seen a show like it before. A new experience which I fondly enjoyed a lot! I loved the twists it had and how it made me continue to guess what the hell is happening and what’s going to happen next! Gasai Yuno is a great female character. Crazy… but a great character due to how manipulative she can get and that twist at the end… did NOT expect it at all! You should definitely watch this if you haven’t already.

Art: 6 out of 10
Story: 9 out of 10
Music : 7 out of 10
Characters : 8 out of 10
Overall rating: 8 out of 10

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#4 Chihayafuru

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“Karuta? What’s that? It’s a Japanese card game revolving around the 100 poems? What’s so interesting about that?” is what I thought of Chihayafuru after reading the synopsis. Honestly, I was going to give this a pass but there were so many positive comments on the first episode that I just had to check out what the fuss was. And boy was I glad I did. Chihayafuru tells a beautiful tale of a girl named Chihaya and a guy named Arata who are separated by family issues, but connected by a game they learnt in their childhood: karuta (or hyakunin isshu if you want to get technical) and throughout Chihaya’s journey to becoming ‘Queen’, she forms a karuta club and meets new faces.

The beauty about Chihayafuru is that we are able to see Chihaya grow up from kindergarten up till her high school years; providing a more solid and meaningful backstory that supported her development throughout the first season exceptionally well. But it wasn’t just Chihaya, the rest of the cast including the karuta club members, Arata and even the opponents Chihaya meets at competitions all get a befitting amount of character development allowing you to not only root for Chihaya but also understand the opponent and even at times, root for them as well.

The director (Asaka Morio) does a great job in giving these individual characters life. Alongside top quality animation during intense karuta games, you can really feel the determinations to win from both sides of the field; making Chihayafuru a well-told, character-driven series that knows how to get your blood pumping.

Art: 8 out of 10
Story: 8 out of 10
Music : 8 out of 10
Characters : 9 out of 10
Overall rating: 8 out of 10

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#3 Kokoro Connect

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I. Adore. This. Show. To. BITS!!! My first impressions on this series are completely different to what actually played out. Totally unexpected but boy was I glad I was wrong. From episode 3 (or maybe even episode 2) and onwards… Shit. Just. Got. Real! I loved the drama that unfolded due to Heartseed’s trolling-like behaviour and how he continuously ruins the StuCS’s club member’s lives for his own entertainment.

Although the different schemes also meant different character arcs, there was a bigger story to it all… well… the bigger story is actually Nagisa and how her character arc plays out through the ENTIRE series! Though besides that, I really fell in love with the characters and how they contemplated life. There was a bigger message to the whole series which really questioned what makes us… ‘Us’. What makes ‘you’ the ‘you’ you are today? And all other stuff.

I wouldn’t say it was a perfect drama series. There were definitely a few plot holes here and there and some characters didn’t get as much air time as others, but in terms of enjoyment I really, really enjoyed Kokoro Connect a lot. It wasn’t just the drama that was lovable about it, the music was also really well used. And did I mention that Kokoro Connect had the BEST previews!?!??!? Normally I don’t watch previews but Kokoro Connect takes it to a new level! The previews are misleading in a good way! And it always end’s off with a really dramatic note, followed up by a kick-ass ED song! Overall, Kokoro Connect is a great character-driven show that really questions ‘identity, truths, and bonds’.

Art: 8 out of 10
Story: 7 out of 10
Music : 9 out of 10
Characters : 8 out of 10
Overall rating: 8 out of 10

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#2 Inu X Boku SS

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Ririchiyo was the first tsunshun I’ve ever seen in my anime history. She’s not considered a tsundere because it’s a habit of her to act like a tsun while regretting it A LOT within her mind. Her upbringing was tragic, but it allowed her to blossom so much in this show not just as a character trying to become more sociable but as a character who’s able to put faith, trust and love in someone else – that being her fox servant Miketsukami.

Although the supporting cast of characters might’ve fallen a tad behind in terms of development, they were still a fun bunch of characters that never ceases to amuse me; especially Kagerou who is the BIGGEST ‘S’ I’ve ever seen in anime! Inu X Boku really knows how to mix comedy and romance together while building up the crescendo’s in Ririchiyo’s development higher and higher in order to deliver a spectacular last episode that gave this show justice and closure.

I should say that specifically it’s the second last episode which really hit the spot for me. Like Boku Tomo season 1, it got better and better after every episode. It was funnier and the characters became more likable each second until they reached the climax in the second last episode. I had TEARS running down my eyes! But because it was so perfect, the last episode failed to reach my expectations. I say this because Inu X Boku did what Boku Tomo could not, and that was conclude with a similar climax that I awarded perfect points for and STILL conclude the show after such an amazing performance. You really just have to watch it to believe it. Great directing, beautiful animations and a fun cast of characters.

Art: 8 out of 10
Story: 9 out of 10
Music : 7 out of 10
Characters : 8 out of 10
Overall rating: 8 out of 10

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#1 Sakamichi no Apollon

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Sakamichi introduced me to the world of Jazz, mainly showcasing Art Blakey’s popular track Moanin’ which was the first and last song to be played in the series. But I find myself to have enjoyed this series much more than the majority of people simply because I don’t find any faults in it (totally bias). I believe that each character got a good amount of air time, just enough to develop themselves and their relationships with other characters before ending their individual character arcs. Although we didn’t get to see much of Kaoru’s mum, Watanabe does a great job summarizing both his mum’s and Kaoru’s feelings towards each other within that short time span they met up. There was no need to include more time; there was no need to bring her back in. It was enough to put the message across and I felt that this was done well for each of the characters within the cast.

Usually you would see supporting characters (or even main characters) get left out of the loop at times *cough* Sword Art Online and their supporting wall flowers *cough* but Sakamichi is able to balance this between their characters. But other than great directing, the music accompanies the beautiful storytelling of two boys and their friendship revolving around Jazz. If I was to tell you what this series did best was the use of their music alongside it being a great and dramatic character-driven show. They say music at the hands of professionals can speak words themselves and I was able to witness this throughout the series.

When a Jazz tune starts up, there is hardly any dialog. Hell right at the end there was only a Jazz jam between Kaoru and Sentarou. They didn’t even say “Hi” to each other. Why? Because they didn’t need to. “That’s the thing about jazz: it’s free flowing, it comes from your soul.” (Quote from Billy Chrystal) and I have to honestly say that Sakamichi takes musical anime to a whole new level through both animation and the emotional impact it delivers to the audience.

Art: 8 out of 10
Story: 8 out of 10
Music : 10 out of 10
Characters : 9 out of 10
Overall rating: 9 out of 10

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So what did you guys think? Great list? Bad list? Tell me what you all think! We’re all individuals with individual tastes; I’d love to hear your own top 10 and maybe even your reasons for why you chose what you chose. But I do have to apologize for any lack of reasoning or information. I usually skim through my favourite series from the start of the year to the latest that ended but my external hardrive is missing its cord and I can’t access it (especially for Inu X Boku which aired at the start of 2012 and I can hardly remember details). But do put down some thoughts! Would love to read what you guys thought of 2012.