Not only has 2012 been a great year for games, the anime world has seen some great new additions to reach the surface this past year, as well as continuing series that remain strong with their new episodes each week. This year I’ve seen plenty of amazing adventures and interesting characters, accompanied by great voice acting and incredible art styles. This mashup of a list contains some of my recent favorites from this year. Everything you’ll see was released sometime during 2012, and most likely streamed on sites like Crunchyroll and Funimation. For obvious reasons I have not covered every single new series of 2012, but only ones which I’ve seen in depth so I can properly recommend them.
Blast of Tempest – Zetsuen no Tenpesuto
This series has been a great combo of action, drama, despair, and an interesting story as a pure bonus. The art style is slick with plenty of reds, blacks, and grays to set a semi morbid tone, while the overall action really helps to break up the dramatic storyline. This is a great show for anyone who doesn’t want mind numbing action pounding their eyes for 20 minutes, but still wants enough adrenaline with an intriguing story featuring plenty of twists and betrayals.
Short Summary – Two teenage best friends are polar opposites of each other. One is calm and smart while also being manipulative and cunning. The other is impulsive, drastic and a borderline sociopath. Though they’ve been friends since they were kids, they certainly have no trouble keeping dark secrets or hidden agendas from each other. Toss in a few mages along with magic and a plot to destroy the world and you’ll get Blast of Tempest.
Sword Art Online – Sōdo Āto Onrain
This is a series that literally has something for everyone in it. If you’re in the mood for an anime with any sort of specific trait, SOA is a mixture of it all. Adventure, death, love, combat, friends, and hope are just a few of the themes which you’ll find in this amazing adventure. The characters are explored deeply and explained well, and the art style is full of fantasy colors and epic vistas all around. While the first half of the series was clearly stronger then the last, it still kept me wound tight from start to finish. Give it a try as see how long it takes you to become entranced.
Short Summary – In the near future, games have been turned from consoles into Virtual Reality Role Playing Games, which essentially means you put on a helmet with goggles attached to the front, lay down and your mind literally gets transported into the world itself (virtually). The newest game to feature this technology is called Sword Art Online, and millions of people have already purchased their copies and plugged into the game world to set out on their own adventure. Unfortunately for them, the game creator decided to lock everyone inside the fake world by removing the log out option. Now stuck in their own minds, players must fight their way through the video game if they ever want to gain control over their real-life selves again.
Oh, and I should mention that if any player should die in the game, their mind would shut down and they die in real life.
K – K Project
Easily the most unique anime season I watched this year, in more ways then one. The first thing you’ll notice about K is the art style, or more specifically, the color scheme. The characters and scenery reflect a somewhat typical anime vibe in terms of drawing, but with the color added it combines into what I can only describe as a watercolor painting. Bright hues of pinks, blues, oranges, and yellows dominate the pallet, with a bright white glare overlay placed on the back of it all. This alone makes the series a bit more eye-candy than substantive, but don’t let that make you think its a dull tale. The story basically revolves around young adults and their recently acquired super powers, a tired scheme to be sure; however, there’s much more to it than what you’d typically think. A fight between kings, friends, and gangs make up the overall content, with a dash of betrayal, love, and fanservice scattered on top. K’s 13 episodes were only enough to get things started, lets hope for much more to come.
Short Summary - Without giving too much of the story away, this is a world where certain people have acquired amazing abilities by mysterious means. Not much else is known about these new found heroes, only that they are now called “kings” and they all seem to have their own groups of followers in the form of gangs or occupation. These kings all like to battle with one another, while their followers fight alongside them in a war like format. This all burns down to a high school student who is framed for murdering one of the people in a kings gang, so naturally they are out for his head. Enter the rest of the kings, more groups and magical characters in a fight for survival, and discoverer of the true reason behind these supernatural powers.
Psycho Pass – Saiko Pasu
This Anime is a great take on the whole detective/criminal aspect of life, along with some slight science fiction flavor to it. Here you’ll find plenty of mastermind criminals and justice stricken crime solvers to boot, in addition to the two main characters constantly locked into a battle of wits. It reminds me of Death Note crossed with Durarara! in the ways of critical crimes and the underworld of the city. Psycho Pass has some great action to it, and the weapons the detectives use are incredible to say the least. If you like the look of a semi sci-fi anime mixed with gritty streets and the grimy underworld, do not miss Psycho Pass.
Short Summary - As a new detective to the squad, the main female character is roughly introduced to the hard facts of life and crime in the city. Police can now detect your likelihood to commit a crime by how high your Psycho Pass level is, and they can see it at all times simply by using their guns and cybernetic implants. If you’re a person walking down the street with a Psycho Pass level in the danger zone, chances are you will be shot without a second glance. That’s how this new world runs, and the detectives enforce the rules to their deaths. Also, to catch those pesky on-the-run criminals, police will invoke the use of Enforcers, convicted criminals with good behavior and a tendency to enjoy killing. These Enforcers happen to carry guns as well, and they will hunt you until the ends of the earth or die trying. Whichever comes first. The detectives keep these enforcers on a tight leash, and the struggle of trying to stay human while using convicted people as hunting dogs creates the struggle within.
Fate/Zero – Feito/Zero
This anime did not originally start airing in 2012, but it crossed over into for the last half of the season. I chose to include it because it’s one of the best series that I have ever watched, and not including it in this list simply because of a technicality would be a crime against anime. This series is just so completely packed with raw emotion and it displays it perfectly. I felt so many different things while watching this series from start to finish, and by the time it was done I found myself re-thinking my own life in a variety of ways. If you are at all remotely interested in watching anime, start with this one. You owe it to yourself to experience the story of these characters.
Short Summary – In these modern times, everything is starting to revolve around whats called “The Holy Grail War.” The Holy Grail is a long lost treasure that is said to grant you any miracle you may desire, regardless of scope or moral. Naturally, everyone is after it, but it only appears once a champion has been chosen. Decided by The Holy Grail War itself, a handful of certain people are chosen to compete, and the way they do so is by sending their “Servants” into battle with the other players. These Servants are all champions from different times in history, and have been resurrected as magical spirits to fight once again, in an attempt to award their masters with The Holy Grail. Epic battles, crushing despair, and brutal tactics are what await these chosen people. Fight for the Grail or die: its your choice.