Spring 2012 Anime Season Retrospective
Another season has come and gone. In the middle of the season we had the Spring 2012 Anime Season Digest – Half Point, in which I summaries series and dropped the worst for good. Now it’s time for the grand finale. The time to separate the good from the bad, the series worthy of your time from those that will only waste your time. This is the Spring 2012 Anime Season Retrospective. Come and get your fix. Read about the ugly, the bad and the good, and discover what the best spring anime series is.
Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan
Last time I joked around that Shining Hearts might end up being “the ultimate troll anime – the one that stays a teaser until the very end.” As it turns out I was right. Shining Hearts is a terrible terrible anime. Most of the series is spent passing the time in a little village and waiting for something to happen. When something does happen in the last three chapters it happens too late and is handled poorly. But a poor ending is the least of Shining Hearts’ problems. This series spend to many episodes introducing us to new characters, all of which don’t matter to the plot at all and are soon forgotten. Even the core party – Rick, Airy, Amil, and Neris – are one dimentional characters with robotic emotions.
Verdict: With no real characters to speak of, no plot to rely on, terribly slow pacing and a poor ending you can be sure that Shining Heart will go down in the pages of history. As one of the worst anime series ever that is.
From the very begining Sankarea was the mediocre of mediocrity. On the surface there is nothing wrong with it: it has mediocre characters, a mediocre plot and looks pretty mediocre. Because of that I kept watching it despite never finding it very interesting. But then something strange happened. The 8th episode ended with a cliffhanger. Three weeks later I suddenly found out I had completely forgotten to watch episodes 9 through 11 of Sankarea. Not only did I completely forget about this series, I had done so even though I left it on a cliffhanger. Suddenly it occurred to me that the inevitable had finally happened – Sankarea never broke free of its mediocrity and as a result became a forgettable series. Actually this was the first time I forgot about a series while it was still airing. A mighty feat for Sankarea if there ever was one.
Verdict: I didn’t drop this show, it dropped all by itself after episode 8. Sankarea is not worth your time. Watch it only if you are a die-hard zombie fan. But then again if you are a zombie fan I’m sure you can find better series out there.
Acchi Kocchi (Place to Place)
Acchi Kocchi is an interesting series. Despite being slow and carefree it has a very distinct sense of humor and an interesting way of showing seemingly mundane things more interesting. The subtle music and quiet talks will get you relaxed and the jokes will make you snicker every episode. However, Acchi Kocchi never develops its premise, never tries to go beyond “that slow yet funny show”. After watching it from beginning to end I felt it was a nice show that helped me burn some free time, but not something I’d like to revisit any time soon or recommend to a friend. As a series that is supposed to have hooked me on reading the manga it ultimately fails.
Verdict: For those who wish to relaxed and see a decent show with a little of everything. Ultimately it fails to be exciting or note-worthy.
Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope)
After it struggled to find its focus during its first episodes Sakamichi no Apollon firmly based itself as a friendship and light love triangle series. Do not be fooled by the musical instruments or the famous songs which are used as episode names. Sakamichi no Apollon is not about music, it is about growing up and finding soul mates. Sakamichi excels in the visual department and make for a solid story. It won’t knock your socks off and is in fact a bit too lenient and passive for its own good. You won’t find any original ideas or an exquisite execution here. On the other hand everything is done in good taste, albeit not in a very exciting manner. I still wonder why I was so addicted to it for the entire season. Maybe it was because of the catchy Kyushu dialect and the fact that the main heroine is not a boobs-in-your-face dumb girl.
Verdict: Sakamichi no Apollon is a good and solid story about friendship during the late 60s. You should check it out because it does show a period in Japanese history rarely shown in anime. However, you should not feel ashamed if you don’t like it either. It is as solid and entertaining as it is mundane and unimaginative.
Nazo no Kanojo X (Mysterious Girlfriend X)
I’ve written a lot about Nazo no Kanojo X in the past so this time around I’ll summaries what you really need to know. Mysterious Girlfriend X is a romantic comedy with a few twists. It’s not afraid to show a romantic relationship between teenagers as what it is: a mixture of weird feelings, body fluids and new experiences. Nazo no Kanojo X does rely on saliva a bit too much and I would have preferred not to have a fetish-like saliva ending song, but either than that I can see no real faults in this series. The quality of Nazo no Kanojo is very high, both in terms of visuals and storytelling. Visually it uses a retro style but gives it an HD edge, which makes for a unique and enjoyable view. Story wise Nazo no Kanojo X builds the relationship between Tsubaki and Urabe in a natural way, like building a house out of blocks one calculated block at a time. From the embarrassment of the confession, to the daily walks home together, to the feeling of erotic attraction towards each other. Nazo no Kanojo is the only anime series I know of in which a character discovers a new erogenous zone in her body (in Urabe’s case her ear).
Verdict: A strange, yet charming series. I easily recommend any love-romance fan to watch this. The series doesn’t cover the entire manga (there’s an OVA coming up) but we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the Nazo no Kanojo X world.
Fate/Zero (2nd season)
I’ve only recently had the opportunity to catch up on Fate/Zero. The first season was, well, bad. It had terrible pacing, almost no notable battles to speak of and entire episodes devoted only to long speeches. It even had a filler episode (the Rin episode). Although I can see why old Fate fans would love such a series it did a lousy job at attracting a new audience to the Fate world. Luckily the second season has it all: action, story, and conclusion. It has excellent pacing, no character is left untouched and everything is done in good taste. Even the matching ending and opening themes are splendid.
Verdict: The second season of Fate/Zero is the best series this season, and for good reasons. If you managed to get by the not-so-good first season this one’s a must. Of course, just like the first season, the second season of Fate/Zero has an open ending. To get the real ending you’ll need to watch Fate/Stay Night (or better yet play the original visual novel).