It is here once more! The failed apocalypse, the rolling celebrations across timezones, spending time with family, the holiday blues, the holiday booze, the resolutions and the reflections. The new year! I really only take part in one or two of the things I listed, seeing as how I’m not interested in resolutions or my family and just plain don’t celebrate the same holidays as most people. But I think most people can agree that a new year is worth thinking about.
So here, have some anime-related reflections from the past year in the form of awards: my four favourite anime that finished airing in 2012, and my favourite opening and ending sequence of 2012. Bonus points if you know the true title of the book this post’s title is based on, and my endless love if you’ve also actually read that book.
The first of my favourite anime of 2012 is Chihayafuru. I finished rewatching it in preparation for the second season, and when the last episode ended I just smiled. So this is what it feels like when a show that really deserves a second season gets one. Chihayafuru is so good, I forgot to actually take screenshots most of the time so instead of a nice picture of people actually playing karuta you’ll just have to deal with Chihaya’s dull facial expression.
If they aren’t giving us some actually pretty quality (for the most part) character development, they’re giving us intense matches filled with analyzations of, well, basically everything that could possibly affect a match of karuta. Strategies, playing styles, physical condition, environmental distractors, being an overconfident jerk — everything. Watching Chihayafuru made me wish that anyone actually played karuta outside of Japan. It made ME want to play karuta. In other words, this anime is so good it transferred its own love of karuta to someone who still doesn’t even know all the rules.
My second favourite is Nisemonogatari. Fanservice and IMOUTO at its finest. Not really because of the toothbrush scene. I know that’s what sold a lot of people, and while it was a really great scene I was sold long before then. Plus, I’ve had my teeth brushed by a male classmate before. I also brushed his teeth after. No moaning was to be had in either situation. Nisemonogatari reminded me a little of my older brother because… because.
I remember him tackling me while I was laying down playing a game, and he would try his hardest to make me mess up while basically laying on top of me. Awkward? Only in retrospect. I also remember many times where he would drag me out across a room by my arm, and man, did that hurt. But we were both laughing and smiling the whole time. Apparently this made it difficult for our mother to scold him for it. And silly “games” to decide things? Yeah, that happened. Just not with toothbrushes. Um, but that’s not really the point. The point is that I like the visual and directorial style and yes, I like the constant talking heads. I find them infinitely amusing. I think I always will.
The third show will hopefully make you feel less awkward and me less embarrassed for actually comparing a real life relationship with fictional characters from Nisemonogatari, of all things. It is Hyouka! That show I almost didn’t watch. I also almost dropped it, because for the first four or five episodes I was very bored by every aspect other than its visuals. The characters all seemed content to leave their personality at their own summation of it: “i’m just gonna sit here and conserve energy”, “i don’t know bro, i’m just the database”, “hi i’m curious“, “hi i’m not much of a presence in this show yet despite being a main character.”
But at some point, it started evolving from that. Most of the main characters actually became interesting, and so did the mysteries. People have criticized Hyouka’s mysteries for being about completely inconsequential things, but what’s wrong with that? I’m sick of magical kid detectives outwitting the police. Does it matter if the mysteries themselves don’t matter? You still get to think about solving it, and you still get to watch the characters talk about it (and about completely unrelated things, which becomes enjoyable once the characters stop being pieces of talking cardboard).
My last favourite of the shows that finished in 2012 is Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita/Humanity Has Declined. It had some weak arcs, most notably the third one, but even at its weakest it had plenty of moments that just made me smile, if not outright laugh. I love the cynicism. I love the humour. I also love how it was actually able to have a (admittedly very small) handful of genuinely heartwarming moments despite being the type of show it is.
This is a second paragraph detailing my appreciation of Jintai because surely I wouldn’t be unfair enough to give two paragraphs to the other three shows but not this one, right? I might be that unfair if I thought Jintai wasn’t in the same league as the previously mentioned shows, but I don’t, so here’s the last sentence of this paragraph.
My favourite opening sequence of 2012 was Rinne no Lagrange’s first. Maybe the second season of Rinne no Lagrange was too no plan sugiru to be genuinely enjoyable, but that’s irrelevant to the first season and even more irrelevant to its opening. I really like Megumi Nakajima and Try Unite is a really awesome song. Sure, Fate/Zero’s second season opening had Kalafina’s To The Beginning as its song, and that is a better song… but Rinne no Lagrange’s opening had all those glorious colours and visuals and really nothing else could match the whole package for me.
My favourite ending sequence from 2012 (not including anything from some bizarre anime that hasn’t ended yet, of course) was The Woman Called Fujiko Mine’s ending. The song used is great — so great that I was incredibly disappointed to find that none of NIKIIE’s other songs are really comparable. It fit really nicely too, I thought, both lyrically and the general sound of it. And then there’s the visuals. I really liked this aspect too. Not because I enjoy looking at the bodies of young girls, but because I really liked the art style and mood. The colouring was a factor, too. Can’t deny that. I’m a pretty big fan of colours being used in good ways.
I was actually pretty disappointed in 2012 overall. While there seemed to be more high quality shows, the ceiling of quality was actually fairly low. Flatlines are no fun. I want masterpieces and trainwrecks, darn it, not something I can rely on! Let’s all hope that 2013 delivers.