Best Anime of 2012

What better way to end the year than to look back and decide on…. the top 10 best anime for the year!  I have chosen from titles I’ve seen and finished airing in 2012. Without further ado, here’s my Top 10 Best Anime of 2012:
10. Sword Art Online (SAO)

The battle for survival in this MMORPG gave SAO a very solid plot, at least for the first half of the series. Character motives and relationships were clear and each interaction created a different perspective of the lead character Kirito. His partner Asuna also displayed a strength not usually seen in female anime characters. But as soon as the second arc of this light novel adaptation began, the story and its characters begun to crumble. Asuna was cast to the sideline as a princess that needed saving and Kirito was “trapped” within the virtual world unable to face reality yet without Asuna.
Despite its weaknesses, SAO’s breathtaking scenery and fluid animation cannot be ignored. The first opening song, Crossing Field by Lisa, was a very memorable piece fit for the series. If not for the flaws of the second half of the series, SAO would have ranked better this year.
9. Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi
Uta Koi’s art and story are its best weapons that made it rank ninth on my list. The traditional woodcut print and detailed clothing consistent with the art of its time gave identity to Uta Koi. The series also not only gave a peek at court life in ancient times of Japan but the era’s beautiful poetry. While focused only on poems of love, literature and history fans would definitely appreciate knowing the story behind the more popular poems in the Hyakuninisshu collected by Fujiwara no Teika.
8. Tsuritama
Fishing and friendship are the key words to describe Tsuritama. Beyond the lively and colorfully unique art style is a series that dealt with self-discovery and resolution of family issues. Did I mention that what initially looked like simple hobby fishing actually saved the world too?
7. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
The best shoujo title for this year. There might have been nothing novel between an unlikely pairing of a geek and a troublemaker but Tonari managed to pull it off through a good script that remained loyal to its original manga. The balance between romance and comedy was just perfect. It was also very easy to empathize with character thoughts and anxieties, especially Shizuku’s.
6. Natsume Yuujinchou Shi

All the best manga arcs that highlight Natsume’s character made this latest and fourth season of Natsume Yuujinchou a must-see for its loyal fans. And even though the manga is still ongoing, Natsume Yuujinchou Shi was able to create a suitable and memorable ending. 

5. Kuroko no Basket
I was never a fan of sports anime but Kuroko no Basket is such an enjoyable watch I could not afford to miss it! More than the basketball which I came to love because of this series, the character interactions – their teamwork, and all the moments in between felt real. So was the fact that no matter how hard we work on achieving something, we cannot always win. Let’s not forget how our lead characters can be such eye candies and even though the voice cast are not all well-known, they have done a great job of bringing to life each character.
4. Fate/Zero
The prequel to the Fate/Stay Night series boasts of superb animation and character designs making each Servant Battle  something to look forward to. Thought-provoking dialogue is also part of Fate/Zero’s identity. Knowledge of the tragic ending does not allow prediction of all the twists the series has given and creates unavoidable heartaches or even tears.
3. Sakamichi no Apollon
行かないで 耳に絡みついてもう離れないよ / ikanaide mimi ni karamitsuite mou hanarenai yo / it’s not going anywhere, it’s stuck playing in my ears
メロディは 恋みたいだ / melody wa koi mitai da / this melody is like love
These lines from the opening song Melody of the Slope by Yuki reflect the sentiments I have for Sakamichi. This coming-of-age series stirred the hearts of many through the friendship and music of Kaoru and Sentarou. I also had a new found respect and appreciation for jazz music thanks to Sakamichi.
2. Hyouka
Slice-of-life with a flair of mystery, Hyouka is KyoAni’s present to every anime fan this year. Just when I thought the biggest mystery was solved as soon as the meaning behind the title was revealed, I was proven wrong. With Oreki’s brilliant deductions to even the simplest cases, I was hooked more and more with each episode. The way Chitanda pulled Oreki out of his energy-conserving lifestyle was done well throughout the series. The chemistry between the two as well as Satoshi and Mayaka grew on me and were definitely worthy to follow. It was time well spent and Hyouka raised the quality level I now demand from each of the shows I watch.
1. Chihayafuru
“Karuta isn’t very popular in other countries. But because of that, if you become the best player in Japan, you’ll be the best in the world.”
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t  heard of Karuta nor the Hyakunninisshu before Chihayafuru and this turned out to be the best discovery yet. Engaging to the point that I wanted to memorize all one hundred poems and even get the cards themselves, Chihayafuru is more than just a shoujo and sports title. It’s a tale of reaching one’s dreams alongside friends. And like Uta Koi, Chihayafuru effectively uses each poem in line with the plot.
All the major characters are well developed and you will soon find yourself cheering for one or the other as the series progresses. And of course, there is that interesting love triangle between Chihaya, Taichi, and Arata. The second season that starts this Winter is anticipated by many for a good reason.
So there you have it, my top 10 best anime for 2012. Did your favorite make it to my list too? We all have our opinions of which deserves their ranks and why but in the end, it’s all about what titles we enjoyed watching and investing our time on and how they have changed the way we see anime.
Other Titles Seen (in no particular order): Accel World, Area no Kishi, Binbougami Ga, Brave 10, Btooom!, Campione, Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai, Daily Lives of High School Boys, Eureka Seven AO, Hayate no Gotoku: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Hiiro no Kakera 2nd Season, Inu x Boku SS, Jinrui wa Shimashita, K Project, Kamisama Hajimemashita, Kokoro Connect, La Storia della Arcana Famiglia, Mirai Nikki, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Nisemonogatari, Persona 4, Rinne no Lagrange, Shakugan no Shana III, Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan, Sukitte Ii na Yo, Tari Tari
Specials/OVA/Movies Seen (in no particular order): Code Geass: Boukoku no Akito, Code Geass: Nunnaly in Wonderland, Detective Conan Movie: Eleventh Striker, Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas, Inu x Boku SS OVA, K-On Movie, Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai – Tenri hen, Kokoro Connect – Michi Random, Steins;Gate: Oukoubakko no Poriomania


  1. I have to say that I agree with most of your posts, and the ones that I don’t agree with are the ones I haven’t watched. Probably the only one I don’t consider all that great is Tsuritama. It probably isn’t even worth watching in my opinion. I’m glad you didn’t throw SAO higher, it really doesn’t deserve that high of a score after the second half. Great list, maybe I should make one 😉

    1. Which ones on the list have you not seen yet? I’m guessing Natsume Yuujinchou Shi is definitely on that. I’m thinking of adding the list of all the series I’ve seen for the year too but not rank them anymore.
      Re Tsuritama, while the ending wasn’t all that great, the earlier episodes had something special in them. For one was the really unique art style. Second is the way it dealt with varying issues like that of the self (Yuki), family (Natsuki), and friendship (Yamada). I’m not really sold about Haru’s character but his simplistic nature and ideals brought realizations to the other three which gave meaning to his own.
      I’d love to see your list too! Maybe we can do this every year? 😉

  2. So I haven’t seen any of these animes (except some of the other titles you’ve seen), but I have an opinion about some of them! (lol)
    Sword Art Online – I like video games and this seems like something I’d like. It also seems like something Toonami could show down the line so I’ll wait for that.
    Kuroko no Basket – I also like basketball lol! This anime just seems like a dub type for me so I might wait until that happens and give it a go one of these days.
    Fate/Zero – I just watched Fate Stay Night a couple of months ago and will get to this one eventually!
    Hyouka – I plan to watch this and Chuunibyou one of these days. Maybe I’ll make it a Kyoto Animation Marathon.

    1. Kuroko no Basket will have a special episode this February and a second season this year so that’s something to look forward to once you’ve seen the first one.
      Suggested sequence for the Fate series: Fate/Zero season 1 & 2 > Fate/Stay Night > Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks
      I’m cheering for your KyoAni marathon! If only I had the time, I’d love to re-watch Hyouka.

      1. Oh really? I was going to do
        Fate/Stay Night > Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks > Fate series: Fate/Zero season 1 & 2.
        I contemplated the order I wanted to watch. I was going to watch chronologically, but many people say that Zero is superior to Night and it would be a letdown if you went from really good to average. So I decided to go with when they came out by year.

        1. I see. The sequence I suggested is chronological. But if it’s for the quality, Zero is definitely the best. No question about that. 🙂

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