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Archive for December, 2012

So it has certainly been another year in which anime was made and released. And in grand tradition of everyone everywhere who writes about their hobby in which things are released during the year, I have got lists and stuff! And some discussion on some other things that were notable about the year. A pretty standard retrospective, really.

A small note about the lists – any multi-cours series that ended in 2012 (i.e began in 2011) qualifies for the lists about the year, but any multi-cours series that continues into 2013 only qualify for lists about the season they started in, with only what has been seen so far being used to judge it. Similarly, a series that had multiple seaons this year will be grouped into its franchise for the lists about the year, but will be considered separately for the season lists. It’ll make more sense when you see the lists.

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It’s the end of the year, and so it feels appropriate to end this blog series. It just became a chore to do this each week, and considering this blog is a hobby for me there’s no real incentive for me to continue. At least, this weekly recap series. There’ll still be posts, and I’m planning on switching to a more analytical/essay style, maybe fortnightly? We’ll see. Either way, this is on indefinite hiatus.

And it is a small post this week because 1.  A bunch of series finished last week, 2. A bunch of series are taking a one or two week break over the new year, and 3. Many fansubbers are taking time off for holidays (or are just being slow) so I haven’t seen a bunch of episodes.

Fuck yeah, it's over!

Fuck yeah, it’s over!

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Hyouka was, in my opinion, an excellent series. Its approach to character portrayal and development was surprisingly mature and nuanced, gradual but significant. Each of the main characters (and some of the secondary ones too) all had distinctive personalities that managed to successfully buck any of the archetypes thrust upon them. Adding to that was the imagery and visual motifs – not only did KyoAni do a fantastic job at making Hyouka visually interesting beyond the excellent animation, but it added to the already strong characterisation in a clever and not overstated way. These were admittedly uncommon occurrences, but that just served to give them a stronger impact when they happened.

And what’s surprising is that these were present from right near the beginning, and were often overlooked.

"Ho-ho-houtarou". Merry Christmas!

“Ho-ho-houtarou”. Merry Christmas!

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So this should have been done a day or two ago but whatever, I was busy. Everything’s coming to an end though, and the next season ain’t that promising. A shame, I guess. Oh, and a bunch of subs were delayed.

Merry JoJomas!

Merry JoJomas!

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Anime Secret Santa is apparently a proud yearly tradition of the aniblogging community, wherein anibloggers suggest (in secret) 3 anime series for another aniblogger to watch, and then there’s some blogging. This was my first time participating (given that I only started blogging this year) and it was pretty fun overall! I had suggested to me Natsume Yuujinchou, Kure-nai and Paradise Kiss, and the reviews for each follow after the cut:

Merry Christmas?

Merry Christmas?

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Sword Art Online was many things, all of them synonyms for ‘awful’. It was easily the worst anime of the year for me. That may sound like an unnecessarily harsh opinion, but nothing else I saw pissed me off quite as much. Some people will describe something as “painful to watch”. Sword Art Online was that for me. Literally.

It’s frankly impressive. We saw the utterly hilariously inept and absurd and dumb second half of Guilty Crown in 2012, so for another series to come along with even more hype and also high production values (albeit, not quite as high) and be even worse is really quite something. Let thank sink in for a moment – Sword Art Online is worse than fucking Guilty Crown. To be fair, I find it hard to hate Guilty Crown now. It was awfully written and executed, sometimes rage-inducing, but always (unintentionally) entertaining as fuck. I laughed so much during Guilty Crown. I thank it for that. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for Sword Art Online. It starts off mediocre, but just gets worse and worse. There were a few flashes of so-bad-it’s-good, but for the most part it was just so-bad-it’s-terrible. And it got worse during the Alfheim Online arc, which was utterly awful in that regard. A plodding pace, needless fanservice, not-actually-incest-no-really siscon, an unbelievable amount of stupidity and relentless Gary-Stuing makes for a pretty fucking tedious at best watch.

I really thought it would kill me, by forcing my hand out of sheer frustration. The latter episodes were utterly painful. But then, finally, something magical happened. And I had the biggest laugh I’ve had of the year. Even now, remembering it, I giggle.

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I giggle a lot

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I am something of a hopeless romantic – if by ‘hopeless romantic’ you mean ‘I like watching cute anime couples be in love and stuff’. I’m all for realistic and nuanced relationships, but there’s something to be said for those that feature excessive levels of moe as well (it’s cuter).

And it’s been a pretty decent year for cute lovey-dovey anime couples. We had Ano Natsu de Matteru, Sukitte Ii na yo, Inu x Boku SS, Hidamari Sketch, Mirai Nikki, and many others all delivering on their promises of a joyous and wonderful little romance.

But then there are others. Others who make promises with no intention of keeping them. Those that lead us on and never deliver. The vicious few that delight in giving me what I can only describe as ‘romantic blue balls’ (one day I will come up with a better name; today is not it)

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Don’t get suckered in by the cuteness; only disappointment awaits

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If there’s a recurring theme throughout these posts, it’s that I only got around to watching a lot of series for the first time this year that had moments more memorable and important than things that actually aired this year. I don’t know if this reflects badly on what I’ve been doing with my time up until this point, or on the quality of the year as a whole (very few standout titles), but at least I’m finally watching them I guess?

Gun-porn action anime extraordinaire Black Lagoon fits into this rather neatly. And much like the others in this theme, there were several moments that I could have picked. And for good reason – they were all great! You’ve got the gang torpedoing a helicopter super early on. There’s the glorious battle royale with every single individual of dubious morality seen so far (and some hitherto unseen) trying to kill our merry band of delivery peeps. Roberta’s everything. And we can’t forget the ending to the Japan arc. Way loads to choose from, but none of them quite stuck with me or had the same level of impact on me as this one.

You should be as concerned as Rock here is about all these spoilers

You should be as concerned as Rock here is about all these spoilers

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Guilty Crown. Maaaaaan, Guilty Crown. My feelings on this show are somewhat well documented, and as you might understand picking just one moment from this colossal trainwreck is a nigh impossible task. I could list all possible ones, but that would just read like a breakdown of the entire plot.

By what criteria do we judge a suitable moment from Guilty Crown. When it jumped the shark? But was there ever a time when it wasn’t flying high over the ocean? Its most offensive scene? Offending what? My morals, my intellect, my very being? Its dumbest bit? See my arguments above against listing all possible moments.

No, I had to go a different route. This crowning moment is chosen not for its stupidity or offensiveness or anything like that, for there were plenty worse, but for being the one moment where I lost the ability to even articulate any thoughts or questions regarding the staff’s creative decisions. Other times I could at least see what they were trying to accomplish, or it was so obvious that they had no idea what they were doing and were just pulling whatever they could out of their arses. This one scene though… this one scene.

Me, mentally revisiting this series

Me, mentally revisiting this series

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PUZZLE DOG

PUZZLE DOG

A dog with an evil, magical, mind-warping collar does puzzles. Possibly the most endearingly goofy moment from this year. Phi Brain at its Phi Brain-est. Gotta love it.

Although the actual moment goes not to the episode where the puzzle dog featured, but rather to the next episode preview from the prior one. Having just that single shot of the dog, knowing that’s what’s going to be in the next episode, and knowing nothing else about its role, it just made it so much funnier.

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