After yesterday’s rather absurd end-of-year ranking based solely on week-to-week viewing, I thought it may be best to provide a real ranking of the series that finished in the year 2012. Rather than just settle for just a simple top 10, I went over the top and just went for all 37 I completed this year. The first 27 of these will just be short descriptions of why I did, or did not like a particular series. After that, there’s a bit more detail. I hope you enjoy this, and feel free to let me know how wrong/right I was about the anime that aired in 2012 in the comments.
37. Zero no Tsukaima F
After the 2nd and 3rd seasons of disappointment, I felt obligated to put myself through the so-called final season. I couldn’t believe it was even worse than the 3rd season.
36. Queen’s Blade Rebellion
I ended up watching this with a group of people when it aired. I never would have watched otherwise. It also features the worst OP of the year.
At least Fractale tried to save anime, and was unintentionally hilarious. I sat unmoved as the stupid happened in front of me each week.
34. Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan
Really more of a project for character design. I still can’t remember what the plot of this thing was other than the catgirl being the only useful one.
33. Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
Spies. In a High School. This gets dumber by the passing day as I recall watching it now. There was so much wasted potential.
32. Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb
Simply here for the fact that nothing happened, and it looked like all of Shaft’s animation budget got siphoned away for other more profitable ventures.
31. High School DxD
This was actually kind of fun to watch in a “shut off my brain” sort of way. Unsurprisingly, there’s a second season of this coming soon.
30. Hayate no Gotoku Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
Why does this exist? I still can’t think of what the target audience of this show was.
This was much better than I thought it would be going in. Anthropomorphized guns as middle school girls is definitely a unique to Japan thing, but it seemed well constructed even if the jokes fell flat often.
28. Nazo no Kanojo X
There just wasn’t much beyond the initial shock value of the premise. By the halfway point, I stopped caring about Mikoto because Oka had taken over as the sole interesting character.
27. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
This proved to be a combination of some funny slapstick comedy and absolutely catastrophic drama. I don’t know if they just got bored with comedy, but the end was just all sorts of awful.
26. Last Exile -Fam, The Silver Wing-
Only really became good once Fam was no longer the main character. That just about sums this one up.
25. Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!
Despite having one of the few OPs I can remember, it ultimately wasn’t very special. It did about as well as any other brocon show does these days. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell them apart now.
24. Dog Days’
A transitional season without any sort of outside threat. There could have been more Yukikaze, but I got enough not to be disappointed. Oh, and romantic sequel hook.
23. Mouretsu Pirates
When you know everything is going to work out in contrived fashion, the story ceases to be interesting. This started out so well, then it just kept doing the same thing over-and-over-and-over again.
22. To Love-Ru Darkness
There’s a really good story hidden in this. Unfortunately, everyone involved in producing this had no faith in that story and just went straight for the sex that is in the manga.
21. Papa no Iukoto Kikinasai!
Not terrible by any means. The Unfortunate Event lead to several Very Special Episodes in the early 90s American TV programming sense of the word. The premise was ultimately what held this series back.
20. Amagami SS+ plus
It seems fitting this time of year writing about Amagami. This wasn’t bad for followups from the first season. It just wasn’t very different from the first season either.
19. Rinne no Lagrange
While it clearly has the best OP of the year, there are many problems with it basically being a promotional campaign for the city of Kamogawa. It also struggles with the problem of being unsure whether they want their villain to be good or evil.
18. Moyashimon Returns
Another transitional season for a show, like Dog Days‘. However, this was far too long between installments. While there were some good moments, at times it felt like it did nothing more than exist.
Way down near the bottom of Leiji Matsumoto’s works by some distance. There’s a good reason why this was not made until it could serve as an adequate between seasons filler show. Also has an environmental message that may as well be punching you in the face.
16. Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna
Started out rather promising, but the need to attach itself to the Lupin universe made the story drag out longer than it should have. It also shamefully underutilized a new character in Oscar, who happened to be one of the reasons to watch.
15. Natsuiro Kiseki
Pretty much paid for by Lawson. This isn’t a terrible series by any stretch. It just happens to be lots of wish fulfillment and terrible production values.
14. Kokoro Connect
Started out with a very interesting premise, then completely lost its way when it moved to the 2nd arc. Would have been better served if Taichi wasn’t so damned perfect as a human being beyond belief.
13. Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
Pretty funny early on for one of those reference comedies that seem to be emerging lately. Yet, like many others it had to introduce a story that wasn’t well thought out and really detracted from what made it work.
12. Ano Natsu de Matteru
Selling out aside, there isn’t too much that was wrong with this series. There was just one gigantic plot hole that resulted from that.
Utter disappointment after Bakemonogatari. That said, compared to many other series this year, it did a better job of keeping my attention every week
The Top Ten List
For the most part, Sankarea did an excellent job of making me care about the characters. It did feel like Chihiro was genuinely caught in a tragic situation when it came to Rea in the long-term. It was a rare depiction of love in that regard. On the downside, I don’t think there were many worse characters than Rea’s father this year. The bunny girl outfit at the end was probably the worst this show did.
9. Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
Airing at the same time as Sankarea, it involved a very similar theme. The relationship between Teiichi and Yuuko just felt like it had that much more weight than that of Chihiro’s and Rea’s from that series. Also, I think it did a very good job of avoiding the obvious harem-esque pitfalls that the series presented in having Kirie and Momoe as fellow club members who had feelings for him.
I think it would be unfair to view this strictly as a classic detective series. The detective genre has changed in recent years to be more closely associated with drama and comedy. In this regard, I think it worked very well when it focused less on the mysteries, and more on the characters and the tension between them. However, strictly looking at it as a classical mystery series, it really doesn’t work well at all. The major mystery is solved entirely based on the name of the series. After that, you just have to pay attention to the feelings of the characters involved in the story.
7. Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
The series that became known as Nichibros. I think it’s fair to say that this was the best reference heavy comedy of the year. Surprisingly, I was more impressed by the High School Girls are Funky segments than I was by many of the male-centric episodes. Even with those latter segments, they did a very good of taking apart the conventions that seem to rule most anime these days.
6. Sukitte Ii na yo
My personal favorite shoujo series of the year. Though to be fair, it may be the only one I actually stuck with from beginning to end. I thought it was a fine and more realistic look at how some relationships in high school develop. Yamato was a little too perfect for my liking, even if he did have regrets for how Kai was treated in middle school. Despite the limitations of a 13 episode format, I think it did a good job of conveying young relationships in the most true way possible.
5. Thermae Romae
Despite being only 3 episodes, I think this was the best comedy of the year. Even watching the live-action movie months later made it seem much better. This was the only case of a show this year that knew exactly what the right length would be. Given a longer format, like the movie version, it inevitably would lose it’s way. But quite simply for a show about a Roman who travels through time to modern Japan, it works very well.
4. Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
I think if this series had been titled Humanity is Dead, it would have worked just as well. For a show about how humanity was in terminal decline, it does little to explain how the world evolved to that point. What it did extremely well was remind the viewer of what humanity once did, and how the everyday life now seems ill-equipped to handle a world where the population is a fraction of what it once was. Also, it gets points for having chickens fly through windows as Ave Maria played.
3. Sakamichi no Apollon
There are some things this series could have done better. I think the pacing was way off and left little time for development of secondary characters. However, I think the relationship between Kaoru, Sentarou and Ritsuko is well portrayed. I also think it captured the general mood of the late 1960s well when it came to social change and the overall music scene. Plus, I also think it was the the best Noitamina show in years.
By the end I came to believe that this was the best show about arms dealers that had nothing to do with arms dealing. The first season in the spring did its role in establishing who the characters were and how the arms trade affected the situation the cast was in. However, the second season did a very good job in making it about the characters involved in each episode. It made the characters victims of both the arms trade itself and of the people who employed them. Even if they only stuck around for an episode or two. From a sociological perspective, it provides more about group psychology than any series since Manabi Straight.
1. Sengoku Collection
As possibly one of only a select few who have been urging people to watch this since the beginning, I urge all of you reading to watch this. (Audio proof here by the way) This was simply the most inspired show I watched all year. While on the surface, it just appears to be another gender-bent Sengoku-era generals type show, it managed to free itself from that. Also, episode 18 was the most moving thing that I watched this year. Even that episode alone would have earned it the top spot on this list.