Most Annoying Character
Sword Art Online – The Cousin
Nisemonogatari wins the award for having the collective most annoying set of characters, but when I started thinking about the single character that just got on my nerves with every appearance, then I just have to come back to the cousin. How she doesn’t belong In the story and came with that incredibly pointless incest subplot, the way she just pushed Asuna aside from the seat of lead female, despite not really doing anything. The creators taking all of this seriously was the final straw for me. She symbolized the wasted potential of the second half of this series.
Guilty Crown – Shu Ounuma
Shu is not a character: he is a plot device. Whatever the plot needs him to be, he becomes, whether this is Hitler or Jesus. And yet the entire show revolves around him. The show keeps pulling more and more stuff out of its ass to keep true to this. Yeah, he was by far the worst character of 2012.
Best Cast of Minor Characters
Beyond having Mutta himself, Uchuu Kyoudai has also the cast of most delightful minor character, every single one of them who feels real and believable. The cast is incredibly diverse. And all of them are adults. It’s like this show wants to make us care about every single one, and it has used its slow pacing brilliantly to bring these guys to life. It does this so much better than any other series this year.
Best Voice Acting
Absolutely without contest whatsoever. The voice acting of Natsuyuki Rendezvous blows every other show completely out of the water. Matsuo Kou’s method of recording the voices before animating the characters has given the cast so much freedom to really focus on expressing their emotions right, and just look at the heights this got them. The range of the motions that they can do is great, and it the tensions they managed to create with just the acting had me constantly on the edge of my seat.
Best Character Development of a Single Character
It’s a bit boring to keep handing out this award to Natsume, but here is the thing: he already was an incredibly well developed character, and then the fourth season came and added even more to him. The focus on his parents in particular was amazing, but he also changed in the way that he interacts with the people around him. If there ever is a fifth season, will he continue to just get better or something?
Best Character Development of an Entire Cast
Sakamichi no Apollon
This one had me contemplate for a while: Uchuu Kyoudai has an awesome cast, but it’s also a huge cast, so there were a few characters that have always stayed the same. Natsuyuki Rendezvous also has amazing character interactions, but again: development is not the main focus. This brings me to Sakamichi no Apollon, where the development of the entire cast IS the main focus. Not just the lead characters, but everyone around them. Especially the epilogue of the series brings so much change and growth in these people, and they really change constantly throughout the series.
Top 5 Side-Characters
#5: Sakamichi no Apollon – Junichi Katsuragi
For me, the fifth place goes to Sentarou’s older brother who he always looked up to: Junichi. This guy especially in the first half knows his role as a role model really well, not to mention that he’s a really good trumpeter: out of all of the rotoscoped musicians in this series, he always looked like he had the most passion. It’s his development over the second half of the series that lande him on this list though.
#4: Uchuu Kyoudai – Kenji Makabe
The thing with Uchuu Kyoudai is that it’s got so many awesome characters, it’s hard to just pick one. In the end I just went with Kenji over Serika because of how much time this series spent on his fatherhood. Why he still decided to become an astronaut, even though this meant neglecting his family, and how much he cares about his little daughter.
#3: Hyouka – Satoshi Fukube
This is the first time that I put a character like Satoshi on my list of favorite characters. Normally, his type of characters are a dime a dozen: the best friend that is not as talented as the lead character. Then Hyouka came and turned this around, and made this a very strong point about him; it actually started exploring that side of him. It resulted in a well rounded character who actually has many reasons to be likable.
#2: Zetsuen no Tempest – Samon Kusaribe
I remember last year, my list of favorite side-characters was dominated by manliness: larger than life characters who were confident and arrogant. This year is completely different and the most prevalent is characters struggling with their own flaws. By far the best example of this is Samon, the guy who desperately tries to avoid his own fate. Saying any more would be a huge spoiler, but this guy completely sold me with his passion in trying to overcome his own weaknesses.
#1: Hunter X Hunter – Chrollo Lucilfer
I was debating whether to put this guy on first place, simply because it’s nearly the exact same Chrollo of the 1999 Hunter X Hunter series. But in the end: yeah. The organization this guy set up is the single best evil organization in any shounen series. Bar none. The people he gathered, the bond he created, and how intelligent they keep working. He’s intelligent and comes up with some brilliant plans. I just could not give the number one position to any other guy.
: Top 5 Male Characters
: Honorable Mention: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Joseph Joestar
This is a bit of a strange list this year. Mostly because some of my favorite characters only appeared for one month of the entire year, even though they’re very clearly main characters. One of them got a proper space in this spot for very valid reasons, but Joseph… we just haven’t seen enough of him to really warrant a proper placement. However, I will say this: this guy has a really good chance to become the single best main character in a shounen series, ever. This guy just screams everything that is awesome, it’s ridiculous.
#5: Sakamichi no Apollon – Kaoru Nishimi
I love this guy’s character development. Regular teenaged boys are nothing new as main characters, but he added something different, both with his piano skills, as how his romantic development is way faster than his peers. His short temper also was something you don’t often see, which was always the source for great drama and development from the other members of the cast.
#4: Hyouge Mono – Sasuke Furuta
Hyouge Mono only aired in January, but I still decided to include Furuta Sasuke in this list, just not on number two anymore. Yes, the best male characters of 2012 were actually better than the top male characters of 2011. Furuta Sasuke is still a character you have to see to believe though: completely silly and with no sense of shame while he rambles on about aesthetics. The climax took its time, but it also had some great effects on his character becoming more serious. I still remember the final scene of this show vividly with what he ended up doing.
#3: Natsuyuki Rendezvous – Ryousuke Hazuki
The two themes around my favorite male characters this year: they’re either really, really eccentric, or realistically portrayed stubborn guys. Hazuki is the most stubborn of them all with his attempts to hit on Rokka, but what he’s thrown into as the result of that is just wonderful. His weaknesses are illustrated beautifully throughout the series and his wit also is a delight to watch.
#2: Natsume Yuujin-Chou – Takashi Natsume
Natsume is also quite stubborn in how he refuses to let people into his life, but the fourth season of Natsume Yuujinchou made him an even better character (yes this guy was my favourite character of 2011, just imagine). Especially the arc around his parents was amazing and added so much to him.
#1: Uchuu Kyoudai – Nanba Mutta
Nanba Mutta is just amazing. Not just the best male character of the year, but also the years before it. His sense of humour is amazing, he’s developed in such a realistic way. One moment I laugh so much with him, the next he manages to move me to tears with his desire to become an astronaut. He also works off so incredibly well with the rest of the cast, bringing out the best out of all of them. I really did not have to think long before deciding my number one spot on this list.
: Top 5 Female Characters
#5: Kamisama Hajimemashita – Nanami Momozono
Lots of good shoujo this year, and the past Autumn brought in a good selection of shoujo romances that were really quite good. Nanami stood out perhaps through a personal bias: I love strong female characters like her who at the same time aren’t afraid to show their own weaknesses. The romance around her was by far the best portrayed teenaged romance I’ve seen this year, and her energy and wit kept every single episode fresh.
#4: Lupin the Third – Mine Fujiko
2012 had a lot of reboots of all sorts of franchises. Mine Fujiko… I don’t know how she was in the original Lupin III because I have not seen it, but here she was this character who knew exactly what she wanted, and did not hesitate at all to use whatever means necessary to get there. She flaunted her sexuality just about every time she could, but that added to her charms thanks to the way in which this series portrayed it.
#3: From the New World – Saki Watanabe
I’ve said this before: I like strong female characters a loot. Saki is what you get when you test the limits of such a character. It’s not like Saki is independent, because of how she was raised, and despite her strengths, she is just chockful of insecurities about the bizarre culture that she’s living in, At the same time though, she does not shy away from confront ing it. Her development and subtle actions regarding this earned her a place in this list for me.
#2: Chihayafuru – Chihaya Ayase
Chihaya is awesome. She is not the most complicated character: her mind is entirely on Karuta, a card game. But in the process she drags just about everyone along with her with the passion she has for the game. The creators did such a good job of portraying this. As Chihayafuru went into its second half it started to develop this passion: show her flaws and where she could improve. That made her character even better
#1: Mouretsu Pirates – Marika Katou
Marika really was a delight to watch. Here she was, just a regular high school girl, and then she suddenly was the captain of a pirate ship. Because the creators let her play out like she wanted, she really gradually grew more and more into her role of an actual leader. The plans she comes up with are always creative and especially near the end of the series she really managed to blossom and take control of just about everything.
Top 30-16 TV-Series
#30: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
Jinrui was a strange series that thrived on creativity: it had these fairies of which you never knew what they were going to do, which lead to quite some interesting situations. On top of that, it aired its episodes in random order and brought in lots of satire to the mix. It came a bit late with its character development, but thankfully it managed to just in time give Watashi (the lead character) a solid backstory.
#29: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
The shounen romantic comedy with lots of fanservice…. actually done right. The fanservice in this series is quite different from usual, because removing it would make the series less good. Sakurasou had from the start a great chemistry between its different characters: it really knew when it needed to be sharp with its dialogue. For a while it also had this annoying harem theme, but as the show goes on it moves more and more away from that. It’s got a bunch of great lead characters, but also the side-characters have some really interesting sides to them.
#28: Kimi to Boku
Kimi to Boku continued from its first season with one very big advantage: it already had really well developed characters. In its second season, it used that really well, to the point where the characters just weren’t annoying anymore and they all had their charms that got explored really well for this series. Every episode developed a different character, and with this show’s subtlety it lead to some really charming moments.
I was set to hate AKB0048. I hate idols and how they’re often just corporate exploits without much focus on actual talent. But then, something interesting happened: instead of glorifying idols, this show actually started to bite the hand that fed it: you need to read between the lines for that a bit, but it highlighted how competitive the idol business is, how actual talent is not the most important part, and some of the other uglier sides of the business, while still being this cheerful tale of reaching your dreams. It just sold me despite the ridiculous premise.
#26: Uta Koi
So, the show had its animation issues. Its budget was clearly limited. Nevertheless, to whoever made this series possible: THANK YOU! It’s such a refreshing change of pace to see a show that explores the stories behind a collection of poems, especially if the same poems were used by Chihayafuru: it also added some wonderful background on an entirely different show in the process. This was such a great history lesson, even though some of the romances tended to be a bit cheesy.
Zetman had some HUGE pacing issues, but what really caught my attention was how much passion the creators still managed to put into it. They rushed through the manga in a record pacing in order to be able to stuff everything in, but they still managed to come out with a pretty good product here that looked at what it means to be a superhero, although some of the character development was a bit out of whack as a result. Still, what I love is how much the creators were able to do with the limited means that were given to them. The budget was limited, yet there was a selection of stunning action scenes, the time was limited, yet the story closes itself off rather than hinging on a sequel hook that will never get there. It still has a likeable cast and feels complete to anyone who has never read the manga.
#24: Aquarion Evol
Aquarion Evol. The product of the collective deranged minds of Shoji Kawamori and Mari Okada, some of the biggest trolls active in the business. This show was glorious in its symbolism and how ridiculously cheesy it could get at times, not to mention its godly soundtrack. It had its annoying moments, but this show is so dedicated to teenaged hormones, orgasms and its themes of males versus females that it was just amazing to watch. Even for someone like me who did not watch the first series.
#23: Inu X Boku SS
The prime example of a show that takes its time to get going. This series caught my attention with its excellent first episode, but hen it dulled in a bit. It’s not like K where it wasted too much time on uninteresting stuff, it was just regular slice of life that was.. enjoyable I guess, but never really hit any highs. And then it just completely blew me away with its final two episodes, which were brilliant. Did it waste time? Most definitely. Does it have flaws? Hell yeah, some side characters in particular are too one-sided. But the two final episodes were so good that they made up for everything, especially since throughout the show, you could see this series carefully setting up the minor details required to make it work.
Another was THE horror series of the year. Sure there were other series with horror elements, but none went as far as this series. I loved the mystery it had and how it slowly unraveled its storyline, not to mention how intense it could get when it really hit its heights. It also got really brutal at times, so this series really is not meant for those with a weak constitution.
Tsuritama was ridiculously fun to watch in the Noitamina timeslot: it really managed to combine whimsical fun along with this impending thriller, especially in its second half where it really got creative. Plus, it’s a show about fishing. You just have to have that idea and create an anime about it. The characters did have some moments in which they were rather dull, especially in the first half of the series, but as the series spiraled out of control, it definitely made up for it.
#20: Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
The first season was out of its mind, but it still had some grounds in logic. Then the second season came, and it just went all out. It’s completely random and crazy on every single level, it’s unbelievable. It had some of the most hilarious episodes I’ve seen all year, counterbalanced by some episodes that ended up a bit dull for too long. I just find it hilarious though: the original concept of Milky Holmes was a bunch of detectives that solve problems. The alternative OVAs that came out later this year are a testament to how bad that premise was. The creators just took that and tried to parody it as hard as they could by inserting as much randomness and stupidity in it as they could, turning the characters from capable detectives into incredibly incompetent nut-jobs. All of that accompanied by some really creative animation.
#19: Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki
The reason I’m putting Poyopoyo so high on this list: for the past year, every single Sunday it managed to put a smile on my face with only 2 minutes of airtime that sometimes feel like 10. Every week it put so many sketches in so little time, and it made sure that all of them worked. Every joke managed to hit its mark with me as it tells about the very relatable daily lives of a bunch of pet owners. Unlike most shows about animals, it really is about owning the pets, rather than just the pets themselves. It managed to become such a charming series because of that and I’m really sad that it has nearly ended.
#18: Kamisama Hajimemashita
Kamisama Hajimemashita had an execution that for me blew all of the other shounen and shoujo romances out of the water. Akitarou Daichi behind the direction made sure that every episode had a really charming ending that fitted exactly. It’s not the most complicated romance show by far, but because of that it shines with its simplicity: the quibs between the two lead characters were always fun to watch and the res of the cast also had its hilarious moments. The timing that this series had was particularly impressive: it knew exactly what to say and when to say it.
#17: Hunter X Hunter
I really have been debating where to put Hunter X Hunter on this list for this year, because throughout the year it has moved from cringe-inducing rushed build-up to absolutely amazing, not to mention that I already watched the entire story before. A quick summary would be that Nippon Animation did the Hunter Exam better, Madhouse was better at the Killua and the Heavens Arena, the Yorkshin Arc was done brilliantly by both and then Nippon animation was again much better at the Yorkshin Finale Arc. Because of the flaws and how it rushed a bit past some of the best parts, I at least decided to not include it in my top 15 of this year. Whether it will next year though… it all depends because we finally get into the bloody new material in a few months from now.
#16: Natsuiro Kiseki
I loved the character study that was Natsuiro Kiseki: you have four girls and this rock that keeps trolling them with all sorts of magical powers. Sortof like Kokoro Connect, really, but with much shorter arcs and stories. It may have lacked Kokoro’s wit, but what it did have was a really well developed cast of characters as it kept forcing them into different situations that forced them to develop and change. It’s a very forced show because of that, but it did make wonderful use of that.