2012: The Year in Anime

This is going to be a text-heavy post, I think, so I will populate it with photos I’ve taken of cosplays, loots, and sales to help alleviate the wordiness. ^^; I will try to keep things as spoiler-free as possible, but you’ve been warned!

After a rather lengthy period during which I sporadically caught a series or two, I finally really started to consistently watch anime around the middle of last year. I got to catch up on some shows I’d been wanting to watch for a while and shows that I’d heard great things about!

I kicked things off with the love-it-or-hate-it giant (and we’re talking giant) robot mecha show Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann (天元突破グレンラガン)! I don’t usually like mech shows (excepting Gunbuster and Macross), but there was enough of the believe-in-yourself-conquer-your-fears-make-your-own-destiny stuff that I love that I quickly got over the weirdly off-putting designs and got caught up in the story.

Even though I knew the names of Nia Teppelin (ニア・テッペリン) and Simoun (シモン) when I took this picture at FanimeCon, I didn’t know anything about their characters. I realized shortly after Nia appeared in the show that I’d been collecting figures of the wrong character all along, and now I’m scrambling to find all the figures I can of her instead of Yoko Littner (ヨーコ・リットナー)!

In August, I realized/remembered that the K-ON! Movie (映画 けいおん) had come out. Unfortunately, it’d been a while since I’d seen the show, so some details had been forgotten, but I was glad to spend some time with my girls from Sakuragaoka High.

I wish they had spent more time in London, and some plot points were quite contrived (not that I’m ever sad to see Sawako-sensei), but overall it was light and fluffy as you would expect from the members of the keionbu! Lead guitarist Hirasawa Yui (平沢 唯) is cosplayed here by my friend Aoi Mizuno during a photoshoot.

As you can guess from the photo from my The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱) sale (some items still available! 😉 ), the next series I watched was Haruhi. I had been wanting to watch The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの消失) for quite some time since I’m a huge Nagato Yuki (長門 有希) fan, but I hadn’t been able to finish the second season up to that point. Also, since my memory was pretty bad, I needed to rewatch the first season as well!

So, I watched both seasons all in order — yes, even “Endless Eight”! It wasn’t as bad as most people make it out to be, but you can really tell which episodes are from which season due to the jarring change in character designs. I’ve always loved Noizi Itou’s work, but yeah, I do like me some K-ON! style moeblobs also, so it wasn’t terrible. 😉

* * * Super spoilers here; skip to the next photo to avoid! * * *

As for the film, which I finally watched in September, I have to be honest — I hated the way human Yuki turned out. One of the reasons Yuki was always my favorite was because she was pretty much the most powerful character, and true power does not need to brag or be showy. I loved that it tied in so neatly with her calm, cool, reserved character because those types were always my favorite also (echoes of Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock, I’m sure). That said, quiet — not to mention shy — does not equal weak. Human Yuki gasped entirely way too many times and it just got to the point where I wanted to slap her. Yes, I get that part of her wish was to not be saddled with all the power, and it technically wasn’t even really her, but way to totally destroy her character. >_<

I do love how well the time-travel stuff worked and how it tied in with what had been set up in the two seasons. It all unfolded in an organic way and I was very impressed. I’m a sucker for time-travel stories!

* * * End of spoilers. * * *

I think I heard about the Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika (魔法少女まどかマギカ) films coming to LA and I figured, okay, now I have to ignore all the hype and just sit down and watch it. It was short and to the point, and to be honest, I was more impressed by the story than the actual characters. Obviously, the show is very heavily plot-driven, and things fit together brilliantly; it’s just a shame that it had to come at the expense of characterization.

That said, I’m a sucker for the types of stories that involve the power that Akemi Homura (暁美 ほむら) has (sorry, trying not to be spoilery), and of course she wound up being my favorite (again with the cool and emotionless kuudere characters, LOL). I am now in the process of destroying my wallet tracking down all the figures that came out since the show premiered. Pictured is a Homura cosplayer who decided to play up the fan-service from Pacific Media Expo 2012. XD

I didn’t even realize that there was an OVA called Toradora! Extra until I somehow stumbled upon it! Toradora! (とらドラ!) is without a doubt my favorite romantic comedy anime and it was great fun to catch up with these friends, even if it was a stand-alone episode. I was so happy to see the three female leads cosplayed at Anime Expo 2012; it was the first time I’d ever seen any of the characters besides Taiga!

Toradora! Extra was only one episode, so soon it was on to the two Gurren Lagann movies, Gurren Lagann The Movie: Childhood’s End (劇場版 天元突破グレンラガン 紅蓮篇) and Gurren Lagann The Movie: The Lights in the Sky are Stars (劇場版 天元突破グレンラガン 螺巌篇). While I liked that they were able to distill the series down to manageable chunks, the pace was a bit frenetic and some of the changes (such as in the last part of the second movie) didn’t sit well with me. Self-sacrifice is the way the Gurren-dan rolls! Seriously, why would you change that?

In spite of it all, it’s always good to see Nia, and the ED for the second movie, “Namida no Tane, Egao no Hana” (涙の種、笑顔の花 aka “Seed of Tears, Flower of Smiles”), is probably one of my favorite anime songs of all time. Kind of wish I’d been able to see the films on the big screen with an enthusiastic crowd at AX the year they screened them.

Oh, man, School Rumble 3rd Semester. They didn’t even bother doing the third season, they just pretended they had and only actually made the last two episodes. While I did enjoy School Rumble (スクールランブル), it was always infuriating due to the whole comedy of errors premise where no one could ever tell anyone how they actually felt. I went with it because the characters were likable enough and the show was relentlessly funny, but these last two episodes that closed out the series made me hate the show.

There’s a ridiculous (not the humorous kind of ridiculous, the facepalmingly stupid kind) twist that disrupts the main love polygon and then not only a timeskip but a spaceskip that leads you to believe that even though these kids are older, they will forever be stuck mentally in high school. It was depressing and annoying and tableflip-inducing all at once. I read afterwards that it’s pretty close to how the manga ends, so I guess I can cross that title off my list.

I still love Suou Mikoto (周防 美琴), though. 😛 (Yes, that’s a Tsukamoto Tenma (塚本 天満) cosplayer from Anime Expo 2011; I’ve never seen a Mikoto cosplayer in person.)

I needed to get the nasty taste out of my mouth and I’d heard good things about Oreimo (俺の妹がこんなに可愛いわけがない) and they wound up being all true! It really depends on much of Kousaka Kirino (高坂 桐乃) you can stomach, but I found the show to be quite funny. I especially love the OP, “Irony” by ClariS. Looking forward to season two! Here is my friend Aoi Mizuno’s Kuroneko (黒猫) cosplay, which she wore at Anime LA 8.

While I was on vacation in October, I managed to sneak in the most recent Ah! My Goddess (ああっ女神さまっ) OVAs, Always the Two of Us (いつもふたりで aka Itsumo Futari de). I was never really a fan of the show to begin with (The Adventures of Mini-Goddess [ああっ女神さまっ 小っちゃいって事は便利だねっ] was pretty awesome, though). These new episodes were still rather weak and forgettable, even if they did have Urd (ウルド) and Lind (リンド).

These cards and some Belldandy (ベルダンディー) dolls are still available from my sale from Halloween!

Tiger & Bunny (タイガーアンドバニー) was another recommended show so I decided to give it a go. The character designs took a little getting used to, as did some of the CG, and they really could have pushed some of the themes more, but it managed to hit the right notes for the most part and was pretty good. From what I can gather, the show has a pretty large and fervent female fanbase, as evidenced by these two cosplayers at the PMX Cosplay Contest held during the Monterey Park Cherry Blossom Festival.

Not a month after I had watched Puella Magi Madoka Magika, I watched the two recap films, Part 1: Beginnings (始まりの物語) and Part 2: Eternal (永遠の物語), on the big screen. There were some cuts (though at about four hours combined, the double-feature ran roughly the same length as the original show) but they managed to add in even more Homura, which is always good! Coverage of the LA premiere and a brief review of the films in my post here.

In November, based on a friend’s phone wallpaper which had the K-ON! girls dressed in school uniforms from other shows (there are worse reasons 😛 ), I watched the first season of Yuru Yuri (ゆるゆり), which reminded me a lot of one of my favorite slice of life shows, Ichigo Mashimaro (苺ましまろ aka Strawberry Marshmallow). It was really funny and the girls were really cute. I’m looking forward to watching the second season soon!

Ah, AnoHana. Short for the ridiculously long title/sentence (the period is part of the title) Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。 aka We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day.), AnoHana came highly recommended by a couple of different friends, so I decided to check it out. Immediately I saw the similarity of the character designs to the ones from Toradora! and I quickly discovered that the two shows also shared the same director and writer.

Despite some strange squickiness in the first episode (vestiges of the original concept of a teenage ghost story/sex comedy, no doubt), I wound up marathoning the short 11 episode series in three days. While the last episode veered into the maudlin (I actually laughed at one point, and I’m sure that was not the reaction they were going for), overall it was a moving and powerful experience.

This was another series I needed to hunt for figures from, and I was lucky enough to track down some rather hard-to-find pieces at not terrible prices! I’ll have to do a loot post soon, but this is actually a new photo! LOL. Looking forward to seeing how the film version turns out.

After the photoshoots with Chocolate Covered Cosplay at FanimeCon, I figured I should watch Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (パンティ&ストッキングwithガーターベルト). I was actually kind of bored by it, so I temporarily dropped it.

As we approached Thanksgiving, it was once more into the breach as I watched Madoka for the third time in the space of two months. o_O This time, it was with friends as we marathoned the dub, which was as good a dub as dubs usually are. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that’s good or bad. 😉

The next show I picked up was Sound of the Sky (ソ・ラ・ノ・ヲ・ト aka So Ra No Wo To), mainly because RightStuf had it on sale. ^^; It was a beautiful-looking show about a girls’ regiment stationed at the edge of No Man’s Land (with K-ON!-inspired character designs, LOL — when did this post become a K-ON! post?), but there was so much wasted potential in terms of the world the creators had built and the backstories they had given the characters (it was an original story). Even so, I wish (perhaps not ;)) that they had more merchandise available.

In December, I finally managed to finish Panty & Stocking. It had its moments but I think that it was trying too hard and that it’s a bit overrated. After that, I started Nichijou, but then it was time to go home for the holidays and I wanted to watch some stuff with my sister.

I rewatched the two-episode OVA Mahoromatic: I’m Home (まほろまてぃっく ただいま◇おかえり aka Mahoromatic: Tadaima Okaeri) since my sister hadn’t seen it before. I haven’t watched Mahoromatic in a long time (just the Summer Special when I need a pick-me-up) so it was good to revisit these old friends, but the OVA moved rather slowly for me. I still have a few Mahoromatic items for sale, so be sure to take a look!

At one point I got the chance to watch the Pani Poni Dash! (ぱにぽにだっしゅ!) OVA, which I had totally forgotten existed. I haven’t watched that show in a while, either. Was it always that ecchi? Good thing I didn’t watch it with imouto! D:

In case you’re wondering about the relevance of the picture, Pani Poni Dash!‘s Katagiri Himeko (片桐 姫子) uses the catchphrase “maho” (“マホ”), which actually has no meaning. On this T-shirt design, I reference the phrase — the phrase actually appears on screen at one point and this is a tracing of a screencap of it. The inference is that Yuki is asking School Rumble‘s Harima “Maho?”, which sounds similar to “mahou”, the word for “magic”. Since she’s turned his hand into Amuro from Umishou (a direct reference to Midori Days BTW), this is obviously not “mahou”, LOL. You can find a complete list of the references I put into this image in its caption on my deviantART!

Finally, I made my sister watch Gurren Lagann! I’ve been leaving behind shows for her to watch every time I gone home, but she never has the time to actually watch them so I’m glad we were able to marathon TTGL over the course of a few days. She wound up loving it (of course!) and is going to try to watch the other shows I’ve left, including the aforementioned Toradora!

And, we finished the show on New Year’s Day, so I guess technically it’s the first series I finished in 2013. Expect to see it in next year’s recap. 😉

That was certainly a lot of shows, and it was only half a year’s worth! (And it took like six hours to write it all up. -_-; ) Hopefully I’ll be watching more good and fun series (and fewer boring and crappy ones) this year. Like what I watched? Think I have bad taste? Feel free to leave your comments and to make your recommendations on what I should watch next below, and check back next week for some long-delayed ALA photoshoots!

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