LMT’s Best of 2012

I think they got some things reversed here.

I think they got some things reversed here.

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. Continue reading

12 Days of Something II: A Tale of Two Halves

This is legitimately terribad, and I thought it was better than Hyouka.

This is legitimately terribad, and I thought it was better than Hyouka.

Jormungand, Sengoku Collection, Lupin the 3rd: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna, Natsuiro Kiseki, Nazo no Kanojo X, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan, Sakamichi no Apollon, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, Upotte!!, Space Brothers, Queen’s Blade Rebellion…I know that’s technically a list rather than a real sentence, but that is the list of shows that began in the spring season and would have been in the top five episodes I watched each week. There’s probably a very noticeable series that did not make that list if you kept track of when I started doing those weekly recaps again. That would be Hyouka if you were paying attention.

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The Return of the Recap 18

Hopefully shopping for the holidays doesn't go as bad as this particular trip

Hopefully shopping for the holidays doesn’t go as bad as this particular trip

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I have been trying to finish things off as far as the usual stuff. Buying gifts for people (which I can do well), then wrapping them (which I can’t do so well) is a surprisingly normal thing to do. Now as far as the shows that have been airing, it’s been pretty much the same. Conclusions are approaching, so the final twists and turns are being written. And there was plenty of that this week.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 12 – Making Dreams Come True in ’76

Women dig men who know everything there is to modern railway networks

The final episode of Apollon takes place over the span of about 9 years from the aftermath of Sentarou’s departure all the way to the final reunion at the end. In that space in between Kaoru tries to burn his bridges with Ritsuko, then has an emotional departure as he heads to Tokyo. Then, 8 years in the future, characters make cameos which ultimately lead to Kaoru finding Sentarou on an island church where they play yet another set just as Ritsuko arrives.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 11 – The End of the Dream

“Listen to my song”

The 11th episode of Apollon begins with reconciliation and ends with a silent departure under a tragic cloud. Kaoru was camped outside of Sentarou’s place and manages to stop him from leaving. After seemingly tolerating his father’s return, Sentarou returns with a push to out perform Seiji at the festival, even dragging Ritsuko in to perform as a singer. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes on the night before in the form of a motorbike accident which injured Sentarou, but left Sachiko unconscious in the hospital with an uncertain prognosis. Kaoru and Sentarou end up meeting again on the roof of the hospital to comfort each other, after that Sentarou disappears perhaps never to return. Continue reading

Sakamichi no Apollon 10 – The Last Man

The moment when Kaoru realizes that he is experiencing the wrong kind of warm feeling

The 10th episode of Apollon begins with the effects of Yurika’s departure and ends with another departure that was entirely unexpected. News of Yurika’s elopement meant that any reminders of her existence had to be removed from the school, including the award winning painting that Sentarou modeled for. After trying to help Sentarou to help recover emotionally from Yurika, Kaoru ends up helping Sentarou pass the tests that he needs just to make it to the 3rd year of high school. Then, Kaoru has two separate conversations with Ritsuko that seem to go nowhere, but her departing words after the 2nd one convince him to successfully confess his feelings for her. Months pass before Seiji throws down the gauntlet at Kaoru and Sentarou over who can win at the school festival. Before they can play again, however, Sentarou’s father was about to return home.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 09 – Taking Responsibility

Leave it to the Americans to unashamedly lead the way.

The 9th episode of Apollon heads for the finish as the relationships at the center of the story reach resolution. Kaoru continues to want to force Ritsuko and Sentarou together, but she would not have any of that. After calling Kaoru an idiot, she tosses her gift to him aside only to later regret it after talking to Sentarou. Meanwhile, Jun plans to head back to Tokyo to take on a publishing job and without Yurika. After Jun says his farewells to Sentarou in what can only be described as a confrontational jazz session, he is confronted by Yurika on the train platform.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 08 – The Tragedy of Bad Timing

Those happy days can only last so long.

The 8th episode of Apollon brings with it the answer to Jun’s problems while also solidifying the direction the 2 relationship stories are headed. Very early on, it is revealed that Jun had quit college and had been disowned by his family, but he had moved to a small apartment nearby. Yurika sees where he is living and quickly their relationship steps up several levels despite her father’s objections. Meanwhile, Kaoru and Sentarou have new found popularity following their performance at the festival  while Ritsuko’s feelings appear to be wavering. Sentarou quickly finds out about Yurika staying with Jun and before long, Kaoru sets the stage for further confusion.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 07 – The Acoustic Revolution

These people are running away from their duties at the cultural festival for some reason.

The 7th episode of Apollon is an episode about the restoration of relationships, but not without some caveats. Without the pressure of being in a romantic relationship, Kaoru and Ritsuko grow closer and are even put together by their peers. In the meantime, however, Sentarou endures having the last vestiges of hope with Yurika disappear along with seeing someone he looked up to in Jun destroy himself. The preparations for the festival also take place in anticipation for the big day as Sentarou and Kaoru’s relationship seems to grow very distant. Then, by a stroke of fate, things would change for everyone with a single performance.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 06 – Rapidly Falling Out of Favor

Pictured from left to right: Unrequited love, unrequited love, evil boss, questioning love

The 6th episode of Apollon brings with it a mix of Greek philosophy and new characters and music. The resulting combination ends up even further complicating the relationships that have been established in this episode, while also setting up further conflict in the future. The driving factor in all of this, Jun’s cynicism about people in general.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 05 – There is Always Time

Somehow, I don’t think Sentarou will be feeling the same thing about her by the end.

The 5th episode of Apollon is a spiritual journey of sorts for Kaoru as he tries to figure out where his relationships with others lie. Kaoru’s journey begins with the official confirmation that Ritsuko’s heart lies with someone else. He reacts by completely withdrawing from interactions with Sentarou and Ritsuko, who thought she had said the wrong things to him. However, with his father now home, he is given a letter which has the address where his mother is working. Sentarou convinces him to take a train back to Tokyo, and he also tags along.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 04 – Unable to Catch a Break

The intersection of 2 childhood experiences never to meet.

The 4th episode of Apollon ends with a distinct feeling of cruelty as idealism seems to lose out to a cruel humanity as experienced by Sentarou. The episode begins with the music shop quartet finding out they will be playing a gig at a bar. Meanwhile, Kaoru continues to chase after Ritsuko, but the feeling of love is not mutual. After seemingly being rejected, Kaoru lashes out at Sentarou, who then forces Kaoru to the church where we get a brief and all too tragic life story from Sentarou. The gig comes and Sentarou once again has to deal with the same abuse he’s had to deal with his whole life.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 03 – The Very Definition of Unrequited

Kaoru gets a look at an entirely different world.

The 3rd episode of Apollon fully introduces a new character in Yurika, who seems to be driving a wedge in the relationship between Kaoru, Sentarou and Ritsuko even if she isn’t intending it. Kaoru begins the episode by giving Sentarou information on the girl he has fallen for then drafting a plan for an invite to a double date so they can both get closer to the girls that they each like. That doesn’t quite go to plan, nor does the date itself. In the aftermath, Kaoru and Sentarou argue, but ultimately their love of jazz healed that temporary fracture in their friendship. Then after a timeskip, Kaoru finally makes his move after seeing Yurika and Sentarou in a compromising position at school.

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Sakamichi no Apollon 02 – It Only Takes an Instant

And with faith comes the drop in confidence in writing on this show

The 2nd episode of Apollon focuses on the developing friendship between Ritsuko, Sentarou and Kaoru. The episode begins with Kaoru trying to get an understanding on how to play jazz on the piano, which he picks up rather quickly from the record he purchased at the end of the last episode. Then after school, he is surrounded by a few of his male classmates who want to bully him, but his friends save him in the end. He then plays with a live session on the piano with Sentarou, Ritsuko’s father, and their neighbor Jun. Finally, the three meet at the start of summer vacation for some outdoor fun among other things.

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Pointless Debate #28: 1 Week and 19 Episodes

This was high quality over the last 6 months

I’ve heard it said somewhere that after a while of blogging anime, you reach a point where you either hate everything or you think everything is pretty good to the point where it all gets the same score. Needless to say there were specific examples of those 2 when someone pointed that out to me and I think some of you probably know who those are, but out of respect I won’t name them.

One character I did find consistently entertaining in Nichibros

In the post Legend of the Galactic Heroes world of Lower Mid-Table I was probably heading in a world where I overrated stuff I really didn’t like and tried to find reasons to hate on anything good. This isn’t healthy because it’s pretty much denial of how you really feel about things. Do I really like Highschool DxD as much as I made it out? I think it was a good genre piece fitting of ecchi harem, but if I were to put it out against everything it really isn’t that good. Did I think Nichibros was terrible? There were some segments that dragged on-and-on, but overall it was a good situational comedy.

Then, came the week that began on the 9th when being stretched by a number of projects (Anicorpse and FAPcast) as well as getting new posts in for Apollon, Pirates, and Upotte meant there was little time to catch up on series I watched purely for entertainment. When I did, however, I was in for what was probably the best week of currently airing shows I’ve seen in at least 4 years.

The 20 fantastic episodes I got in this week were as follows:

  • 2 episodes of Mysterious Girlfriend X
  • 2 episodes of Sengoku Collection
  • 2 episodes of Space Brothers
  • 2 episodes of Sankarea
  • The 15th episode of Mouretsu Pirates
  • The 5th episode of Ozuma
  • The 2nd episodes of Kuroko no BasketNatsuiro Kiseki, and the new Lupin series
  • The first episodes of Dusk Maiden, Nyaruko-san, Apollon, TsuritamaJormundgand and even Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan

I think many people who have seen a lot of visual media have had a certain feeling. A feeling I would describe as “I wish I could see that again as though it was the first time.” Over the last two seasons, I’ve generally ended up watching 6 or 7 currently airing shows, finished them and quickly forgot that they existed. The last really memorable one for me was Steins;Gate that really stuck around. I wasn’t expecting much out of this season either to be honest.

Tokugawa Ieyasu, big in Japan...again

Then came this week, when I felt reborn as a fan by the end. Mysterious Girlfriend X had me completely lost in the best way possible on how the relationship at the center had progressed so quickly. Sengoku Collection is the genderbent Warring States warrior series that doesn’t actually pander. Space Brothers reminds me of my childhood when I thought making it to space was but a matter of time rather than an impossible dream.

Don't worry Jigen, you'll find your place in the world

On the other side, Sankarea made me disgusted with how cruel the world can be and how people who do nothing to help those in danger can be just as bad as those committing evil. The story of Fujiko Mine served as a reminder that for certain people love really is impossible. Ozuma provides a the textbook case of how sticking to purity of ideas over all else doesn’t really work in a changing world. Jormungand shows the tragic after effects on a child who has only ever known how to kill, but he has hope.

I see Tony Taka character designs and wonder why they are still wearing clothing.

Which is where I choose to end this on a lighter note for the rest of the crop that reminded me of just how the normal can still be entertaining. Kuroko gave us the first of the legendary crop of players and for a shonen show he was surprisingly likeable, even if on a totally different level from everyone else. Natsuiro Kiseki had a fantastic chase through town involving 2 characters magically stuck together, what will they wish for next? Pirates had THAT Chiaki face. Dusk Maiden was all about Okonogi’s amazement at the vast school even if she’s not the main character. Tsuritama had the coolest grandmother ever. Apollon reminded me of discovering a new kind of music that you love for the very first time. Nyaruko-san felt like the comedy that didn’t take itself seriously at all in the best way possible. EvenBread: The Animation as I call it felt like the slice-of-life show where nothing happens that I could feel like watching.

I just had to run this pic again. It's required now for all Chiaki mentions.

That pretty much summed up one of the rare weeks where it felt like everything clicked. Has anyone else had a run of shows like that out there?

Sakamichi no Apollon 01 – A Life Changing Beat

This kid is from Yokosuka, so he has no friends so feel free to pray on his social anxiety.

So into my first attempt at blogging a Noitamina show. While it’s mainly associated with quality over the years, for someone like me it’s become another matter entirely. The disappointing ending of Honey & Clover, Guilty Crown, the money-spinning exercise that was Black Rock Shooter and of course Fractale. Even my thought that C was one of their better shows was considered a little strange, but I digress.

Perhaps this was a bad idea.

In Sakamichi no Apollon, we have the combination of Watanabe Shinichiro and Kanno Yoko to direct and provide music respectively. While also being written by someone who did a few episodes of Akane-iro Somaru Saka. A mixed bag of course, but I figured this probably presented the first real opportunity for me to blog a currently airing show that didn’t turn out to be a disappointment either in quality or in sales.

The main cast meet for the first time at what will probably become a familiar hangout.

The first episode presents us with a lead character, Nishimi Kaoru, who has a grim view of the world. That changes as he meets Ritsuko and Sentarou who all become friends even if they don’t consciously realize it yet. There were quite a few things I found interesting about this episode obviously.

The World of 1966 was a strange place. When North Korea could beat Italy at football and boys school uniforms were futuristic.

First, the setting of 1966 does make it seem like the world has become an entirely different place. One of Kaoru’s internal thoughts is that he struggles to make out the Kyushu accent. What may be considered a day trip in the modern world was like traveling to an entirely different country 45 years ago. And those journeys have taken a toll on Kaoru since he doesn’t fit the bill of a traditional child of the time.

He’s a child of a single parent, which has forced him to move from place to place. All the while he developed social anxiety in not wanting to stick out to much. Being the new guy all the time speaking in an entirely different accent makes that rather hard to avoid.

All he had to do was be asked to get that key and he'd put himself through that for him.

First, enter Sentarou, who is also seen as an outcast because he doesn’t act like anyone else. He’s not anti-social, and he doesn’t dread going on the hill to school like everyone else. He also struck me as rather bored of life, living to a jazz beat while everything else went at the same rhythm. Kaoru changed that simply by having a quirk that required him to go to the roof of the building when under stress. He just wanted to see what happened to him even if it was during a downpour.

I'd imagine being invited to a girls home 45 years ago was even more risque than what seems stereotypical now.

Ritsuko, as Sentarou’s childhood friend, took an interest in Kaoru because at first he was the new person and she was the class chair, but then because he seemed to be the first person Sentarou had been friendly with in a long time. She further pushes the story along by dragging him to a record store and forcing Kaoru to meet Sentarou in a much less formal place.

Kaoru plays a rather boring piano I must say. He will learn it eventually.

Now onto the music. It plays a role throughout the episode. Kaoru’s one consistency in life has been the piano. Good classical music that can only ever be played in one way correctly. Which is where Sentarou’s role in the episode proved so important. When Kaoru was trying to play some jazz piano, the lesson wasn’t about how technically correct the music was played, but rather how it felt to someone listening to it. Even his cousin early in the episode was bored with his technically proficient classical piano.

The reason the store is filled with American jazz are the two guys on the left.

The record store that Ritsuko’s father owned was also very interesting just for who was in there. It was stocked filled with the latest jazz records from the States. The people browsing the store were in naval uniforms. This was still 1966, in the middle of the Vietnam War and that part of they were in a part of Japan that was used to house parts of the US Navy. This sets up a rather interesting set up going forward. Will this new group of jazz playing musicians end up playing to a bunch of American sailors while scorned by their peers? It poses an interesting question going forward.

That magical moment when you're mind is awakened to new music.

Also, there were two fantastic moments involving Kaoru which involved no speech at all. After standing out in the rain without an unbrella and then returning, he no longer felt the tension he felt before as though the rain had washed it all away. The second was in the basement when he held his ear while Sentarou played the drums. He couldn’t make sense of the sound he was hearing until that magical moment when he found the beat and he stopped covering his ear. Just like that, his mind had been opened to a new world.