2012 Autumn Anime Season Retrospective
The 2012 autumn season was a promising one. It had many fresh series, some of which turned out to be good against all odds. But as always there are a few bad series in the mix and one undeniable ugly series that – if you let it – will waste your time for one thousand and one nights.
You can’t go wrong with Bakuman. Each season brings with it new challenges and new issues related to manga-creation. In the third season Mashiro and Takagi finally enjoy a successful run with their manga PCP (Perfect Crime Party) but need to adjust in order to keep it afloat. The first six or so episodes of this season are quite boring, with the Shiratori arc being an all times low. Luckily it’s smooth sailing from the seventh episode onward. First we finally get some much needed character development form Hiramaru and Aoki and then Mashiro and Takagi must take on Nanamine and his army of 50. Bakuman keeps churning enjoyable episodes with a shounen plot unlike anything on the market. It not only makes me want to see what happens next, it actually makes me want to further push on my own creative projects; And for that it is my choice for best anime this season.
Status: You should be watching this.
I’ve already praised Btooom! extensively in the season half-point retrospective so I’ll try to restrain myself here. Btooom! is a good example of how a survival anime should be. The pacing is great, the characters are believable and varied, and the visuals are sharp. In the beginning Btooom! is all about finding out why all the characters ended up fighting each other on the island. Once we find that out the really intensive battles begin, and then near the end the show surprises by sprinkling some much needed mental and psychological pepper into the fray. Nowadays it seems animation studios can’t create an honest-to-god good action anime. Every action series seems to fall apart midway and lose credibility. Not Btooom! though. This is one solid series that won’t blow your mind but will definitely give you a healthy dose of action without ever backstabbing you. It simply works.
Verdict: With a good mix of action, psychological games and gore this is one anime that’s definitely worth checking out. I’ll be crossing my fingers for a second season or movie.
From the New World (Shinsekai Yori)
Saki finally learns the entire truth about the ecosystem in which she and her friends live. Unexpected the truth gives her an entirely new perspective on how their society works. But now she is caught in the middle, helping her friends avoid elimination while upholding the strict rules of the education committee.
From the New World is the most clever, involving and intriguing anime to be shown this season. How ironic it is then that it suffers from the worst animation. If only From the New World could handle the bare minimum action it shows in a more coherent manner it would arguably be one of 2012’s best anime. Sadly this isn’t the case. The story keeps pulling me in and I enjoy the more information-heavy episodes. However each time an episode that needs to convey something in actions instead of words air I find myself confused and enraged at the roundabout methods the animation studio uses. If you’ve seen a bit of From the New World than you know what I’m talking about. When things break loose suddenly humans move in a sluggish and inhuman way, the characters designs (both human and non-human) are off, and scenes are cut in the middle instead of going all out. Frankly the action episodes are so severely disconnected and unintelligible they give me the feeling something went terribly wrong with the production. I initially thought this was caused by a low budged, but it is now apparent this stems from a low budges combined with animators who are not very good at doing their work. If only this series had the same budget as the run-of-the-mill series Kyoto Animation and Shaft keep making it could have been way up there in terms of overall impression.
Status: I’m still watching the series, and when character talk or refrain from moving a lot I find myself enjoying it. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend From the New World to anyone though, because while some of its parts are amazing as a whole it has noticeable flaws.
This series really isn’t going anywhere, is it? Kai and Frau are looking for notes while Aki and the rest are busy building a new robot after GunBuild-1 proved to be the scrap we all know it was. I have to hand it to Robotics;Notes’ script writers – the series keeps pulling crazing stuff and yet stay realistic in the most weird of ways. Building an augmented reality robot is a smart and creative idea. The use of tablets is still as cool as it was when the series started and the moe elements, while subtle, do make me laugh from time to time. If there’s one bad thing that needs pointing out it’s the FUNimation subtitles. There are way too many times when Frau is saying a completely regular sentence and yet the subtitles show a bunch of gibberish. Frau does say sentences in net-jargon every once in a while, but definitely less than the translator would have you think.
Status: While still cooking on a low fire Robotics;Notes passes as a good series. Let’s hope the show fires all its cylinders in its second half.
The world Psycho Pass takes place in is unique. The characters in it are not. Some episodes manage to pull through while others are pure trash. The biggest problem is obviously the stale plot. The cases Akane works on are a bit on the boring side, even with all the killing involved in them. Additionally finding out more about Mishima is nice and dandy, but how about throwing us a bone and advancing the plot a bit? It took 11 episodes for Akane to find Mishima and the outcome of them meeting was pretty shallow. The gore in the show is, likewise, stale. Using gore to wow us is one thing, but Psycho Pass uses gory images as a default. Every crime ends up in a big pile of blood and disemboweled bodies. After two of three of those I ended up not caring anymore.
Status: Psycho Pass never manages to impress me and accomplished very little in those first 11 episodes. I’ll keep watching for now, mainly to stare endlessly into Akane’s droopy eyes and to hear that addictive ending theme.
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo)
Yes, Pet Girl is still bad and yes, I’m still watching it. Pet Girl is not a series worth watching and I’m only watching it as a guilty pleasure. It’s a series that fails to focus on one genre and ultimately feels cheesy and unaspiring. Sorata, Mashiro and the rest of the Sakurasou crew spend the latter half of the first 12 episodes creating a cool interactive video game, which Sorata almost ruins with an inappropriate late addition. Sorata is trying hard to become a game developer, but obviously does not have the talent or imagination needed to be one, making this aspect of the series frustrating. No less frustrating are the series’ tasteless jabs at creating anything worth being called romantic comedy. The romance just isn’t there. Not between the kindergarten-hearted Mashiro and wimpy Sorata, and not between the more normal couple Jin and Misaki. Pet Girl’s only merits are its lively segments (usually the shenanigans caused by Misaki) and its overall fluid animation that is easy on the eyes.
Status: If you do decide to watch this be sure to understand it has no value other than being a way to avoid boredom when you have absolutely nothing else to do. I’m not really sure I’ll be sticking with this one till the end.
Magi didn’t get off to a good start. At episode 11 characters are still being introduced and the plot is a mess. The series goes to great lengths to show us that even the worst antagonist is just a nice guy/girl down inside. Sigh. But worse than that – the fighting is terrible! Shounen series need to firmly decide how they deal with battles, be it with techniques, hands to hands combat, some kind of tournament rules, magic and so on. Magi never does that. When Aladin fights using his Djin I can’t feel excited or intrigued because it just looks like he is way overpowered. And I can say that about Morgiana and Sinbad as well. All the other characters are weaklings and the main villains appear to be simpleton jerks. I could never get used to the fact that the story is told from Aladin’s point of view – the point of view of a child. Due to that everything feels overly childish, bland and unpolished. Aladin is wasting his time doing nothing, Morgiana is passing by on her way home (exciting stuff!), Alibaba’s fight against his own brother doesn’t interest me because Alibaba is a boring character and Sinbad is just there to be the cool guy that steals the attention in the end. Actually Sinbad and his crew should have been the main characters of this anime, and it should have been called “Sinbad’s Voyages” or something along those lines. Sinbad’s history as a “dungeon clearer” seems to be the richest element in the whole damn show. He can always hire Aladin and Alibaba to scrub the decks of his war ship…
Status: I am dropping this series and never looking back. After 11 episodes I think I have the right to say this – Magi is a waste of your time. Why bother watching it when you have at least two good shounen series (Hunter x Hunter and Naruto) available to watch this season?