Fri 11 Jan 2013
The start of a new year is always a slow period for anime. Most Fall season shows conclude before Christmas time; most Winter season shows start weeks after the New Years. We are treated to a break (albeit a brief one). Personally, I think this is the perfect time to catch up on the backlog. Whether you are tired of the in-laws or anxiously waiting for school to start, this time is perfect to waste without care or remorse. And so, I present to you a list of hidden gems that you may have missed from the awesome year we called 2012.
Senki Zesshou Symphogear: Meteoroid-Falling, Burning, and Disappear, Then…
Overshadowed in the Winter 2012 season by more popular shows like Aquarion EVOL and Mirai Nikki, Encourage Film’s Senki Zesshou Symphogear: Meteoroid-Falling, Burning, and Disappear, Then… made little noise despite being one of the first shows to debut. The story is about two high-school girls fighting a mysterious alien race through the power of ancient relics and J-pop. Most people simply ignored the series due to its cliche premise. Those who sampled the first episode were turned off by its cheesy story, unnecessary melodrama, and heavy usage of pop-music. The worst part is that those “turn-offs” are actually the show’s strength.
The introduction conveys a serious tone by introducing deaths, destruction, and drama. However it quickly makes a complete 180-degree shift. The overly tense atmosphere is replaced by a lighthearted, goofy nature that lasts through the giant climax. As the creators embrace the campiness, the show becomes more tongue-in-cheek with its ridiculous action (which get better as the show progresses) and overly dramatic confrontations. Senki Zesshou Symphogear: Meteoroid-Falling, Burning, and Disappear, Then… is just too silly and rambunctious to take anything at face-value. Combined with bright colors and fast-paced music, this idol-pop-music-slash-magical-girl-action show strives to simply entertain. Turn off your brain, and enjoy the ride.
During the Spring 2012 season, we were treated to Natsuiro Kiseki from Sunrise. While it may have an uninspired premise and low production values, those who enjoy the slice-of-life genre should try this cute gem. The story follows a group of four friends (Natsumi, Saki, Yuka, and Rinko) that discover a mysterious rock that grants their wishes. With a limited time and youthful ambitions, these four girls enjoy their summer filled with magic, all the while growing up and coping with the inevitable. Since slice-of-life is nothing close to my favorite genre, I will admit that I started following this show halfway through the season. Sadly, I regret not hyping this show earlier.
Beginning with a very simple premise, this gradually evolves into a meaningful tale about separation and friendship. While these four girls enjoy their break, they cannot escape the fact that Saki will be moving away. This issue slowly drives the group into dismay resulting in anxiety, anger, and ultimately acceptance. The strength of this show lies not only in the story, but the in character chemistry. The voice actresses do a great job emoting and building off each other, which makes the drama more moving.
Brains Base gave us this delightful fantasy show during the Spring 2012 season. While Sengoku Collection features the ever-popular Oda Nobunaga type of cast, this show never discusses the Sengoku time period. In fact, knowledge of such is not required as all generals have appearances, personalities, and genders uncharacteristic of their lore. I understand using the Sengoku generals to setup the “fish out of water” setup, but the heavy use of such may have turned people away (myself included) initially. If you missed this the first time, pick up this amazing, emotional slice-of-life drama.
This series is essentially a collection of short stories of the Sengoku generals adapting to the modern world of today. Each episode has its own independent story with its unique style. One episode focuses on a character becoming top-idol; another story has a character finding retribution after being betrayed by a local gang. While the themes and genres may differ, each story is engaging and memorable. In addition, the emotional range of this series is quite impressive. Some stories were incredibly fun, while other stories were moving in drama. I will admit that not every story was a winner for me, but I’m still amazed by this series for its ability to provide variety without sacrificing quality. Also if you are fan of voice actresses, this show will have you in awe.
Persona 4: The Animation
Given how the Persona franchise is popular worldwide, it seems unusual to say that Persona 4: The Animation did not receive much attention. This Fall 2011 action-comedy by AIC A.S.T.A. serves as an example on how to correctly adapt a video game. The show begins with a group of high school students discovering a shadow world inside the television. They soon learn how they are connected to a series of murders. More importantly, we witness the evolution of the main character into the King of Swag.
This series is all about style. The art is colorful, the animation is fluid, and the music is awesome. In addition, this show has a stellar cast of characters. From the tough-guy yet overly-sensitive Kanji to the eccentric Kuma and his un-bear-ievable puns, each character is uniquely quirky and memorable. Combining these elements with an engaging mystery, you have the makings of a great show. However, the most notable feature is just how much fun this show delivers. the hilarious cast and their zany antics make for some of the best “filler” episodes of any show. AIC A.S.T.A. clearly poured all their energy and creativity into making comedy gold.
2012 was a great year of anime. Considering how each season had a handful of great shows, it is no surprise that people may skip out on one or two gems. Thus, I feel obligated to recommend shows that I personally loved. The only thing I can ask for is more exposure. Even if you dislike these show afterwards, I am happy that they were given a chance.