Happy Holidays! I figured I’d jump into the 12 Days of Anime project with my own round-up post of my 12 memorable moments for the year (kudos to Yumeka for the idea). Anime conventions, aniblog tourneys, favorite anime of the year–it’s all there reminding me why I watch anime and continue to blog. Thank you for staying with me through 2012, and enjoy reading!
1. Anime Expo
This year marked my first trip to an anime convention. I decided to go full throttle and attended Anime Expo in Los Angeles, the largest anime convention in the United States. I spent a ton of money and went on my lonesome, but the experience was the highlight of my year. For the first time, I was surrounded by people with similar interests and more merchandise than I could look at in one day! Seeing Yuuki Kajiuura and members of Kalafina, as well as attending the hoppin’ LiSA concert, made the trip even more special. I only wish I had attended more Japanese guest panels.
I also met some online friends from various blogs and forums. It was a truly rewarding experience that I hope to repeat several times in the future!
2. Literature Girl of Nichibros.
After the comedic genius of Nichijou from 2011, I wasn’t sure if there would be another anime in the near future to make me laugh as often. Then came Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, an anime that at first glance appeared to be a shoujo-like slice-of-life centered on male students. That impression was happily incorrect, as the show was instead a satire of the aforementioned genre.
Probably the most memorable character of the show is one known best as “Literature Girl”. She is always seen in relation to one of the main cast, Hidenori, in scenes that most anime would portray as romantic. She’s that chance encounter between guy and girl, complete with wind flowing through the hair and the riverbank backdrop. To make the encounters even sillier, she turns out to be living out a fantasy from a self-written novel yet has none of the poise a female character should have. Perfectly timed snot, anyone?
3. Thermae Romae
Anime has always astounded me with its boundary-breaking abilties, but Thermae Romae still succeeded in surprising me. Despite its short episode lengths and run time, the premise, script, and art style combined to create something completely new. Ancient Rome and Modern Japan are brought together through time travel and the love for hot baths! Nothing can stop Roman architect Lucius from taking ideas from his strange adventures to Japan and sharing them with the Romans–not even Lucius himself!
I had the luck of finding a gorgeous Tsuritama poster from the Artist Alley at AX, and it ended up being the only one I purchased. I was a bit confused from the start of the show, thinking that it was primarily one about an alien becoming friends with humans and learning how to fish. That is a small detail of the tale, but there’s also a blend of Lovecraft in the Hemingway.
My favorite character of the show is Yamada Akira Agarkar, an undercover agent for D.U.C.K. sent to investigate the aliens and their intentions. He’s always accompanied by an actual duck named “Tapioca” who assists him in spying on Haru and his human friends. Despite his mission, Akira can’t help but like the boys and shares their passion for fishing.
5. Fantastical Twists in Natsuiro Kiseki
The 4-girl, high school slice-of-life is a set-up that every anime fan is familiar with, and it’s one that many have come to find tiresome over the years of look-a-likes. And yet summer time pulled forth another series seemingly just like all the others: a story about four girls with a mutual love for singing and an entire summer all to themselves. But don’t forget about the magic rock!
Natsuiro Kiseki cleverly included a shrine’s sacred rock to act as the device for spurring the protagonists on to self discovery and confrontation. The single idea of a rock that grants wishes is a simple one, but extremely powerful when used correctly. From invisibility, to cloning, with flight and time travel, the girls realize that something as unreliable as magic can’t stand up to the strength of true friendship.
6. Rider & Waver
As much as I love the characters of the Fate franchise, I don’t really find any of the series particularly strong in plot or script. While the latest prequel installment had the gorgeous art of ufotable and a soundtrack with Yuuki Kajiura and Kalafina backing it, I still had issues with many of the characters and the locked-in storyline.
But every week there were two characters who I always highly anticipated, and that was the Master and Servant pairing of Waver and Rider. Their colorful and clashing personalities made for the most comedic scenes, as well as the most heartbreaking.
7. I’m Interested in Everyday Mysteries!
If Yuno if Mirai Nikki was the creepy poster girl of 2011, then Hyouka’s Chitanda Eru takes the cake with her memorable “Kininarimasu!” Go ahead and google the phrase and you’ll find that the top hits are all about Chitanda. I just loved that quiver in her eyes after saying that phrase, all the hope pinned on a word. Coupled with her catchphrase were often special scenes with extremely stylized graphics–the world as imagined as Oreki. This show did so many things right with its mysteries and characters, and was one of my favorite of the entire year.
8. Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb and Keeping in Touch
I’ve been a fan of Hidamari Sketch from the start, and so it was an obvious decision to pick up its fourth season and include in my 12 Days project. Including the same cast from the third season, Honeycomb feels very much the same as before; however, the girls are more and more acknowledging time and the fact that their way of life will soon end. Topics like underclassman and upperclassman conduct, graduation, and careers keep springing up throughout the episodes. The undeniable movement towards a new way of life made this anime particularly poignant to me after a recent series of events and decisions.
9. Coffee at Shirokuma Cafe!
I have to give major props to Riyoga for introducing me to this gem! And I quote,
“How is THE Marina not going to watch shirakuma cafe? You’re practically required to! Plus, it’s a polar bear running a cafe! You just can’t beat that! How can you not want to watch what’s going to be the best show this season?
…You are Anime B&B, you are totally required to at least visit this poor polar bear’s cafe and test his menu out.
The nice ones all run cafes. Or sell Coca Cola.”
And yes, he is absolutely correct. I was wary of this show mainly because of its lackluster blurb and image on the anime chart, but it took a single trip to Shirokuma Cafe to make me a loyal customer. Animals act like humans yet still are attached to their respective animalistic behaviors: Panda goes to work at the local zoo for a part-time panda position. Polar Bear delivers a bevy of puns along with his coffee. Penguin goes 7 days a week to confess his love to Penko the penguin, only to discover that he’s seduced 7 penguin sisters! While the humor often leans to the corny, I charm is always there.
10. Sentient Foodstuffs in Jinrui
It took just one opening episode of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita to have the anime community all in discussion about it. Set far in the future after the glory of mankind has declined back down to almost pre-Industrial technology, nature now favors the rising population of a fairy people. I admit that I haven’t actually finished this anime since I lost steam after “The Fairies’ Time Management” arc. But! I will not deny the shocking brilliance of the show’s start and a good number of its other episodes. Suicidal loaves of bread? Running, power-hungry chickens? Yaoi spreading like wildfire? Jinrui boldly went where no anime had gone before.
11. The Setting and OP of Sword Art Online
My past passion for CORPG Guild Wars and recent addiction to MMORPG Guild Wars 2 guaranteed my interest in the hugely advertised Sword Art Online. And the first episode didn’t disappoint; it introduced an enthralling virtual gaming world where I would have happily dived into given the chance. Unfortunately, everything heads south after the players realize that they can’t log out, then are later informed that they are stuck in the game until someone can clear the game. The catch is, however, that death in the game means death in real life. The terror all the gamers felt from the first episode felt real and pressing; I only wish that attention to tension and craft had worked its way throughout the entire series. The show certainly had its moments, like its realistic portrayal of an online game and how one might act within it, but it also struggled with too many ideas.
12. Aniblog Tourney 3rd round
This was my first year participating and I was happy to make it to the third round. There was a lot to be learned from the experience and I think I was able to improve the look and layout of my blog a lot because of it. I’m not so sure about the content, though! :3
The end of the holidays looms near and I’m not sure if I’ll have another post out before the new year hits. 2012 was chockfull of great moments and not-so-great times that taught me a lot about myself. I hope that the same can be said for my readers! I truly wish you all a wonderful holiday season, full of warm hearts and company. Buon natale e buon anno!