The Best Anime of 2012 Awards!

ULTRA HAPPY

With the last remnants of 2012 drawing to a close (save those never-ending shows which I will not mention), the time has come to honour those works which went far and beyond the industry standard; or I suppose in this case, didn’t fall into the pit of uninspired dreck.

2012 was certainly not one of anime’s brighter years. A great deal of the titles which aired each season failed to even reach a passable standard due to either having bland characters, weak writing or a combination of both. As such, this list is only indicative of the best of the bunch and does not necessarily mean the winners were exemplary on an absolute scale; just that they were above the rest of the pack.

Also, just to clear up any confusion, this list is only counting titles which started airing during 2012 and not those before and after. My rationale is that it’s difficult to take into account shows that have been running for years prior since they may have undergone changes in their production staff or direction. Although this list will naturally exclude certain titles such as those long running series, and those which I was not able to get around to watching, it is what I personally feel is the cream of the crop of 2012. Unfortunately, that may mean I could have missed some noteworthy examples, but I am only human and do not have all the time in the world to watch every show that is airing. That being said, I did make an effort to watch between 15-20 shows each season so hopefully this list is fairly representative of the whole year.

Anyway, without further to do, here are the individual categories and their winners!

 

Best Male Lead 

Takashi Natsume

Takashi Natsume (Natsume Yuujinchou Shi)

Runner Ups: Joseph Joestar (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012)), Sentarou Kawabuchi (Sakamichi no Apollon)

In a year filled with boring self-insert protagonists and perverted harem leads, Takashi Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou truly stands out for his realistic characterization and heartfelt emotional development. Although Natsume does owe a lot to the previous three seasons in establishing his character and catalyzing his development, season 4 successfully culminates his trials and relationships with everyone else. What’s especially nice is the amount of subtle characterization present here: while Natsume is introverted due to his past experiences with people and youkai, this does not make up the entirety of his character. Instead, Natsume still helps out others from time to time, whether they be human or youkai, and does still find brief moments of happiness in his life. Perhaps the strongest point in his favour though is his development in this season, where he is faced with a number of conflicting choices and the eventual confrontation of many elements of his past. What we see at the end of this season of Natsume is a male lead who many of us can not only relate to, but emphasize with due to the strong writing of his character.

 

Best Female Lead

Watashi

Watashi (Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita)

Runner Ups: Marika Katou (Mouretsu Pirates), Miyako (Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb)

Watashi may seem outwardly cheerful and friendly to the extent where she isn’t a whole lot different from any other moe female lead, but assuming that would be a huge misnomer. During her work as a mediator she occasionally grumbles, complains and criticizes the multiple facets of society and human nature. However, the thing about Watashi is that she never speaks her witty, cynical thoughts out loud, making her somewhat of a sly fox. There are many instances where she dreads her work, but still carries herself with a smile, fooling many others around her. One common criticism about Watashi is that she’s mostly a reactionary element, providing occasional comic relief with her witty lines. Although Jinrui makes an attempt towards the end of its run (or chronologically speaking, the start) to give Watashi some back story, it ultimately succeeds more by exploring her insightful comments about humanity during her numerous experiences.

It is Watashi’s inherent transparency that truly makes her a believable and ultimately realistic character. Far too often, writers become wound up with idea of creating a seemingly perfect character that they completely ignore the entire aspect of personality flaws. Sure, having that ideal role model or perfect waifu is nice for a brief bout of escapism, but it is in fact the most flawed and pathetic individuals that allow us to see this less pleasant side of humanity and ourselves. To that end, Watashi perfectly embodies this transient side of human nature, making her the not only the best female lead of 2012, but one of the most successfully written female characters of all time.

 

Best Antagonist

Girugamesh

Gilgamesh (Fate/Zero 2nd Season)

Runner Ups: Dio Brando (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012)), Deishu Kaiki (Nisemonogatari)

*cue the porno music*

I kid you not with the above line as Gilgamesh truly was one of the more manipulative characters in recent history, to the extent where I’d call his influence seductive. This ancient king knows how to get into the heads of others and throughout the first and second halves of Fate/Zero, plays Kotomine Kirei to his advantage. That alone places him above the rest of the bunch, as not only were his motives made clear and somewhat accomplished, but there was no attempt made to try and force us to emphasize with him via a tragic backstory (shame this can’t be said for someone like Kiritsugu). In short, Gilgamesh was fully aware of his greed, his selfishness, and his thirst for power, imparting a certain degree of realism (I’ll use the term loosely). Although perhaps this is something missing in the likes of villain characters these days, who either have grandiose and unrealistic goals, or aren’t really rotten but just misguided.

 

Best Inanimate Object 

nisemonogatari araragi toothbrush scene

The Toothbrush (Nisemonogatari)

Runner Ups: The Magic Rock (Natsuiro Kiseki), The Tanks (Girls und Panzer)

Well, after witnessing this scene in Nisemonogatari I had difficulty brushing my teeth for about a week. Why? Perhaps I was so disturbed by the incredibly subtle incestuous undertones, or realizing that this was a weapon which could turn the manliest of men into mush. I suppose I’ll never truly know, but one thing is for certain, this toothbrush will live on in the hearts of many.

Nisio Isin still shouldn’t be commended though for throwing this scene in here, since it all but destroyed Karen’s prior characterization from one episode ago.

 

Best Script 

I-m-looking-for-more-moe-jinrui-wa-suitai-shimashita

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

Runner Ups: Joshiraku, Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb

I have to hand it to Romeo Tanaka as a writer, since Jinrui’s script was superbly composed of clever wit, social satire and fluid exchanges between the cast. There was rarely a dull moment in the show, especially with Watashi as the primary narrator – making for a viewing experience which was not only incredibly amusing, but insightful as well. It would be lovely if more shows could follow suit in the future, as some of the humour and critique in Jinrui was unforgettable.

 

Best Comedy 

Joshiraku

Joshiraku

Runner Ups: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, Smile Precure

Gotta love Kumeta humour.

Echoing the success of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Joshiraku is another example of Kumeta’s writing prose. His rapid-fire style of comedy ranges from discussions about the absurd to the sub-culture particularities of modern-day Japan to even the political, and Joshiraku is no exception. The show manages to forge a name for itself with a similar but distinctly different execution of humour, still providing laughs along with some surprisingly insightful social satire.

 

Best OP Song

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012) – “Bloody Stream”

Runner Ups: Nisemonogatari – “Platinum Disco”, Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna – “New Wuthering Heights”

Not much to say here (mainly since I am poorly versed in musical theory and whatnot): great energy, dynamics and instrumental accompaniment that nicely conveys the stylish spirit of Jojo.

 

Best ED Song

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – “Yume no naka no Watashi no Yume”

Runner Ups: Joshiraku – “Nippon Egao Hyakkei”, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou – “Ohisama”

Again, not a whole lot I can really comment on with my limited musical knowledge. What made Jinrui’s ending stand out from the bunch was primarily the song’s vocals, build up and background instruments/synth (there’s a nice hint of classical orchestra there). The overall feel of the piece is also a tad bit unsettling, while still possessing a calming melody, perhaps to echo the tone of the series.

 

Best Soundtrack

Sakamichi no Apollon

Sakamichi no Apollon

Runner Ups: Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

Sakamichi no Apollon may have had some fairly glaring pacing problems, but the show’s soundtrack was definitely its saving grace. Assembled by renowned anime composer, Yoko Kanno, the score was not only well composed, but was also highly effective in conveying the different genres of music which were reflective of the time period. In particular, the different styles of music helped to emphasize changing trends during the time period such as the fading of jazz and the coming of rock and roll.

As Kanno had previously worked on other series featuring a jazzy soundtrack such as Cowboy Bebop, her musical talents were put to great use with Apollon’s score. Though there wasn’t quite the same level of variety compared to some of her earlier works, considering how central the theme of music is to the plot and characters, there was plenty to be impressed about with how Apollon integrated many of the pieces. The performance segments involving Kaoru and Sentarou were one such instance where Kanno’s score really took flight, essentially driving these scenes forward.

 

Best Art/Animation Direction

Lupin_the_Third_-_Mine_Fujiko_to_Iu_Onna

Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

Runner Ups: Nisemonogatari, Guskou Budori no Denki (2012)

Simply calling this series’ animation direction “artsy” does not do it enough justice. Being a revival of a classic series from the 60’s, the latest installment in the franchise did quite a few things differently. Most of this stems from it changing its formula around a bit to have Mine Fujiko as its lead character and a much darker tone. While there were a few abrupt elements such as inconsistencies in character backstory and issues with the script, the art direction was simply fabulous. Not only was it filled with dynamic camera angles, lighting and varied colour palettes reminiscent of film noir, but the general aesthetic touch to the environments and character designs greatly enhanced the tone of the series. As a result, the final product simply oozed with style; and one that was a successful fusion of past and present – which is such a treat to see in this day and age.

 

Best Sequel 

Natsume Yuujinchou Shi

Natsume Yuujinchou Shi

Runner Ups: Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb, Nekomonogatari (Kuro)

One of the elements that ultimately sets this season of Natsume Yuujinchou apart from its predecessors is both Natsume’s continual development and the effect his presence has had on the other characters. Take the youkai exorcist Natori for example. When Natsume first met him, he was a person who wouldn’t think twice about using youkai as bait to accomplish his goals. Now that he’s spent some time around Natsume, his views on the youkai have shifted ever so slightly to the point where he treats them almost as equals. This type of development is also observed in some of the other reoccurring characters, effectively conveying the main themes of the work in an understated manner.  With the characters in Natsume, each of them has developed in such a natural fashion that they have ultimately become more human as a result (ironically, this applies to the youkai as well).

 

Best Anime Short 

Furiko

Runner Ups: Thermae Romae, Kyousougiga (2012)

You do not always need words or a lot of time to tell a story effectively, as this experimental short, Furiko, proves. The premise of the short is fairly straightforward, detailing a couples’ relationship across their lifetime. However, what makes this a good short is the simple presentation and integration of the pendulum motif, to convey the passage of time and explore how the character’s lives are affected by it. The musical accompaniment is also excellent overall, with the tempo building as the story progresses and slowing down towards the end to mirror closure in the couple’s lives. Overall, Furiko is a great example of how an artist can use a short amount of time to tell a lovely story.

 

Best Failure 

BRS is shit

Black★Rock Shooter (TV)

Runner Ups: Sword Art Online, K

Picture completely intentional.

“Oh look, little girls suffering is now trending, let’s completely abandon all writing conventions and believable characterization to just put these prepubescent ladies through as much hell as possible! It’s not like we’re trying to copy Madoka or Evangelion or anything like that by forcing our audience to emphasize with them!”

I honestly wish that was all Black Rock Shooter was trying to be, since maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t have ended up as the most abysmal piece of trash on the planet. No, they just had to go the extra step and try to make the series seem deeper than it really was. Using the most contrived and blatant motifs possible and bombarding the audience with superfluous symbolism does not make for an intriguing work. Instead, the end product was a piece written by some angsty teenager trying to pass him or herself off as an intellectual; pretentious in an nutshell.

Oh, and let’s not forget that every little thing has to turn these otherwise normal girls into mentally broken patients in the blink of the eye. Since regular upper-middle class girls living in modern-day Japan have few worries in their life, why not make it so the entire world is out to get them? Now everyone has an ulterior motive, from your family friend to your teacher. And just because your best friend doesn’t want to walk home with you anymore, you are completely justified in creating an entire parallel universe from scratch. Why? I dunno, why not leave it up for interpretation since that superficially makes it seem as if the work has more depth?

In closing, First World Problems: The Anime is an awe-inspiring piece of garbage.

 

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for

The Best Anime of 2012

Natsume.Yuujinchou

Natsume Yuujinchou Shi

Runner Ups: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, Nekomonogatari (Kuro)

Although Natsume Yuujinchou Shi may not be the most interesting choice for best anime of the year considering it is a sequel, it still was able to do so many things correctly. Having a diverse and wonderfully characterized cast, heartfelt stories of loneliness and belonging and subtle, yet highly effective themes were just the tip of the iceberg for this series.

Unfortunately, I really don’t have a whole lot more to say about Natsume, since I’ve already covered quite a bit about it through the other categories. Alternatively, you can always check out my review for the series if you’re curious what my full thoughts about it are and why it stands firmly as the best 2012 had to offer.

In closing, it was a combination of technical proficiency and creative merit which defined the best works of this year. Although they may not have hit the highs that titles from previous years may have, they are still good to great series in their own rights.

May the blessings of 2013 be with the industry, and let’s hope it gives us a year worth looking forward to (oh, who am I kidding?)!

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11 responses to “The Best Anime of 2012 Awards!

  1. I approve of this post.

  2. Well this was a nice read yet the awards are mostly based on personal opinion and not actual fact… also Op and Ed songs that won were both terrible.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by “actual fact” since the closest a single individual can do is support his stance using evidence from each show. In the end this will just be my supported personal opinion and you are free to disagree with my choices.

  3. It’s mostly good taste, but I’d have to agree and say that the OP & ED choices are a little.. Eh, too DDK. Not that I’m implying they’re boring or anything, no way.

  4. Since people are implying you have an abhorrent taste in music, a word of encouragement – Bloody stream is bloody awesome and is probably my favourite OP of the ’10s altogether. However, in order to qualify for a true Roman noble, you need to show appreciation for Roundabout as well.

    Not much to discuss about the nominations – 2012 was all about JoJo and Jinrui for me, though I haven’t seen the 4th season of Natsume so defending Joseph as MC AOTY would be stupid of me. Natsume’s a fine show but falls victim to the main enemy of episodic shows – repetition, which is present in the show’s themes, plotlines, OST usage and character gimmicks, at least that’s my impression of the previous 3 seasons.

    • I suppose there’s no roundabout way of admitting I found Roundabout to be a great ED song as well. Though for the sake of variety, I decided not to include it since I gave the award to Bloody Stream. Either way, I have limited musical knowledge and proficiency so take my picks for the OP/ED songs with a grain of salt (moreso than the other categories).

      Jojo and Jinrui were definitely some of the better shows of 2012, and hopefully that is still reflected well enough with these picks. As for Natsume, the criticisms you’ve raised for the past three seasons are valid and still prominent in the fourth iteration. Repetition of themes and stories are probably the biggest weakness the series has as a whole. That’s not to say it’s had a huge negative effect on the quality of writing, which I’d say is still plenty to put this season of Natsume above the rest of the crowd (though personally, I felt Zoku was the best season due to its focus and plot developments). I probably would have liked to give the award to a more innovative title such as Jinrui, but it had a few glaring flaws with inconsistent storytelling and presentation of its themes. On the other hand, Jojo would have been a strong contender had it not been for the source material of Phantom Blood, which was significantly weaker than Battle Tendency. If you’re interested, I could extrapolate on more of my reasons for these two shows.

      Finally, Joseph Joestar still wins hands down for personality traits. It was really a close one between him and Natsume for me.

  5. I don’t know anything about music as well, the whole concept of actually discussing music in a constructive manner is alien to me, I just either like something or I don’t. Briefly, Zoku was definitely my favourite of the three, mainly for its darker tone, some very good stand-alone episodes and by that point Madara hasn’t reached a level of annoyingness comparable to president Aria yet. Some youkai from the previous seasons return in San, which was ultimately pointless since they didn’t show significant development and come off as laziness from the author in general, while the first one was a bit unfocused and too bright in its portrayal of the youkai. We are told by the narrative that they’re vicious creatures but aside from Madara and Misuzu they didn’t seem all that threatening, since Natsume can take them out with a punch.

    Thoughts on Jintai and JoJo are welcome, guess I’ll post my own first. I think I’d put Jinrui above JJBA but I picked up the latter’s manga around the part when Battle Tendency started to be animated. Witnessing the same work of fiction allows you to notice flaws more easily and raises expectations, so were I an anime-only pleb I think JJBA would have been my pick.

    On the technical side, Jinrui’s art style is excellent. Not only is it fairly unusual and pleasing (at least to me), the bright colours add in humorous effect, for Jinrui’s humour is mainly based around contrasts – fairies talking about death, bullying and governmental problems with a permanent :D on their faces, Watashi’s cynical inner thoughts narrated to the viewer while she’s smiling to her interlocutor, so the art accompanies the fairly dark themes and content of the show well. The main problem is inconsistency of the quality of individual episodes and some of the episodes being extremely hit-or-miss. My favourite would probably be the island one – while the “fairies saying horrible things while smiling” is a mere reocurring gimmick if you take a critical perspective, I find it effing hilarious and I could watch it for hours. It parodies religion rather well and the small touches like the drug-fairy were commendable. The manga episode was good as well (it also referrenced JoJo, admitting the glory of the fabulous misfortunes of the Joestar family), while the banana episodes were plain bad. I liked the final two – I’ve seen criticism towards them that they fall out of place and don’t add too much to Watashi’s character but I don’t think so – they were still comedy and still criticised humanities nature (people’s tendency to have terrible things hidden, the bullying kids, the retarded robot still being kept around). Admittedly, I have a huge fetish for backstories and flashbacks, no matter how out of place and irrelevant. Not sure what the point of the non-chronological airing order was, shoving Watashi’s past towards the end was plausible since it’s a bit different from the rest of the show and would give a slightly different perspective of the show were it to start so, but the other episodes should have been coherent in timeline. I’ve read that it was like this in the source material already though. Also agreed on what you said about Watashi, excellent lead character.

    I could write a lot about JoJo, for I consider myself a Battle Tendency fanboy. Phantom Blood was of, erm, questionable quality. It still stood out in the seasonal context – these over-the-top manly shows that are not running endlessly (well, this is sort of wrong – all JJBA is 100+vol) are infrequent so I didn’t want to drop it or anything like that. The main problem was the lack of asspulls plot twists and tricks during the fights, it was mostly Jonathan’s determination and seeing an overly-determined shounen protagonist is old and busted and the tone was too serious in general, especially in the beginning, for except the IT WAS ME, DIO kiss scene the beginning is actually a semi-serious vampire thriller. In comparison to the manga, the narrator and on-screen effects work in favour of the anime. Then there’s the whole one dimensional character thing, simplistic plot and other problems that I could let slide considering the title of the show. At least it had Speedwagon’s moe and an extremely cool comeback to a question whether Dio remembers how many has he killed – “Do you remember how many breads have you eaten in your life?”. It’s one of the better villain quotes in anime as a whole, a stupid one, but a good one.

    My opinion of BT is higher than yours I guess so I will try to avoid mentioning some of my problems with it, which it admittedly does have even if you view it as pure entertainment and a tribute to shounen cliches. Also because holy shit this is a wall of text already

    Part’s 2 main strength is Joseph and how the story carries itself in general. I’ll elaborate on the latter first since it’s more questionable. It’s easily deducable that the author knows he’s writing something with some asspulls, hilarity and over-the-top narrating from the Tommy gun scene and a few glorious one-liners Joseph drops in the beginning, instead of sort of pretending it’s serious like Part 1 and looking further, BT’s tone is the most well-established one in the franchise (I’m at part 6 now though). As the story goes on, you get GERMAN SCIENCE, fabulous ancient god-things that dress like bar sluts and a fighting MILF, which is way more entertaining than just one horror cliche vampires and allows BT to stand out in its thematic among other works of similar nature. The battles are a huge stepup and the way they work goes along extremely well with Joseph’s character. While the part is often accused of asspulls, I only agree to that partially – some of the asspulls (Tommy gun, plane when fighting Cars, clackers) work exactly because they’re asspulls, they do not influence the fight significantly and are there for plain surprise and other twists are just things that don’t really need foreshadowing (like the whole pick-up weapons plotline in the Colosseum, the trick used in the training episode, pretty much the entire “fight” against Cars, most tricks used against Santana) because if they are not intricate schemes or anything, they’re things you could come up with given some creativity. However, some things are barely excusable, especially when watching the anime, particularly the use of strings (Araki’s fetish, it seems). How hard is it to just draw a small string in the previous frame? As it is now, Joseph reveals that he had a string there but if you rewind the episode there’s nothing there…

    Joseph is on another level altogether. He is the perfect protagonist for a shounen. For a story of this type, he’s relatively subtle, he is idealistic, yet doesn’t spout inane monolouges to make sure everybody understands his chivalry and determination, you don’t have characters shouting “Kyaaaa that was so noble of you Joseph-kun” “WOW THAT WAS SO COOL” and so on. He does have some gimmicks that are repeated throughout (running away) but they’re not predictable at all, one can not tell when is he bluffing and when he really has a trick. His unpredictability basically makes the work what it is, since its purpose is not exploration of themes but just some entertaining fighting. There’s a glimpse at character development as well regarding Caesar’s fate, since Joseph matures in a way and once again shows his friendship through actions rather than words (ok there’s a CAESAR shout but that’s only in one episode), though later parts take a shit on this. A superb voice actor too. I could write a few sentences more but basically he fits the story perfectly and is not absolutely substanceless as is said sometimes.

    Then there’s the technical side… it’s rough. The budget is poor, there’s pretty much no fighting choreography and this is horrendous for an action show. However, the studio makes me want to empathize with them for some of the other tricks they use – on-screen effects, keeping the fabulous poses and alternate colouring. The OST is used rather poorly though, specifically in the colosseum and Overdrive is overused (also it’s better with the vocals that are present in the OST). Some choices are brilliant though, like the holy wubstorm.

    There’s still more stuff I could write about part 2 but I’ll leave it at that since the key points are written out already. I’m not comparing it to the manga since we’re sort of discussing AOTY but it’s varied – some fights are better in the anime, some are better in the manga. Overall the manga is definitely superior because the anime lacks animation but I wouldn’t diss the studio since you can see that they’re not half-assing it but are genuinely on low budget.

    • Heh, that’s pretty much how it goes with music and me; I either like something or I don’t, but can’t really explain why in a very constructive manner (I nearly failed music in middle school for a reason). Anyway, I have a pretty similar view on the Natsume seasons as you, so there’s not too much to say here. While they all maintained a similar quality of writing, there were subtle differences which made Zoku and Shi into the best two seasons of the franchise, which I’d attribute to their darker tones and greater development of the series’ overarching plotlines. In the case of the first season and San, both felt more like a collection of episodic stories which didn’t tie in too well together besides their similar themes. Another weakness both of those seasons had was that they failed to achieve a climax as their final episodes were just episodic tales which could have been placed at any point during the season, weakening their impact.

      Regarding Jinrui, its art style was definitely cute, colourful and perhaps a bit surreal, which created an interesting juxtaposition between its darker themes. My main problem with the show was its inconsistent nature in terms of its story arcs and social commentary. The first arc with the skinless CEO chickens spewing out incomprehensible profanity was a great satire of capitalism and food production. Similarly, the manga arc was one of my favourites for all its bold jabs at the industry and cheap tactics writers will take to popularize their work. However, after those two arcs the show reached a plateau and it almost felt as if it wasn’t sure what direction it wanted to go in. For instance, the space probe arc and the time paradox one were a bit loose in my opinion, feeling more like blatant genre parodies that you’d find in any other comedy rather than clever satire. I suppose this disparity may have been caused by the difficulties of having to adapt Tanaka’s novels into an anime format.

      The show’s non-chronological order didn’t really bother me too much, but it did make me wonder why they chose to animate the stories in that order. Regarding the show’s final arc, I did feel it was ultimately unnecessary to give Watashi a backstory since it had already succeeded by simply exploring her perspective on humanity during her work as a mediator. I’ve always felt that it shouldn’t be a requirement in every story for a character to “develop” or receive a backstory as there are much more effective methods of establishing their role in the story. Furthermore, while the external events of the final arc still managed to explore the darker side of humanity, it was ultimately character-driven. As a result, it suffered from a few pacing issues such as events moving too quickly. In this case, allotting more time to the different character parties instead of just springing yandere developments out of the blue would have gone a long way in getting to the core of the psychology behind childhood bullying and conformity.

      Despite my complaints, Jinrui still was one of the best titles of 2012 for actually exploring a wide variety of prevalent issues – something that most series push under the rug altogether. While the show may have been a bit of a hit or miss at times, I felt Watashi’s character was ultimately a better representation of the show’s unique strengths.

      I was probably in a similar situation as you by only picking up the JJBA manga around the time the anime started airing. Likewise, my opinion on the adaptation has probably been influenced by my experience of the manga, so I probably did have certain expectations as to how things should play out.

      Phantom Blood was unfortunately one of the biggest hits against the 2012 adaptation of Jojo since it still had to be taken into account when assessing the product’s overall success. Like you mentioned, Jonathan’s one-dimensional character, the lack of twists during the fights and the whole semi-serious nature of the work made it fall victim to the shounen tropes it perhaps hoped to parody. There were still a few good lines and over the top moments, but Araki’s stylistic flair just wasn’t properly developed at this point.

      Thankfully, Battle Tendency remedied a lot of the flaws that Phantom Blood had. One plus was that it clearly established its absolutely ridiculous tone right off the bat as nothing says “over the top” like Joseph unloading a massive machine gun out of the blue. Even without looking at the numerous influences the manga drew from, you could see Araki begin to forge a style of his own in Battle Tendency combining things like Cyber Nazis and ancient gods. Compare that with Phantom Blood where the work was mainly defined by the inclusion of one element of pop culture – vampires. In this case, the additions of all these elements coming together in one place definitely worked to the franchise’s advantage as they enhanced what Jojo was able to accomplish in terms of style and entertainment.

      A large part of the work’s success was due to the primary protagonist, Joseph Joestar, and due to a combination of his swagger, bag of tricks and overall unpredictable personality he kept the story interesting amidst the tensest situations. He may have seemed like your typical hot headed shounen protagonist at first but there were certainly elements of his grandfather’s chivalry mixed in with his clever remarks and battle techniques. The thing about Joseph is that one can’t help but like him due to how he carries himself yet still remains honest to his own values. Sugita also did an absolutely fabulous job of bringing his personality to life, which was a definite plus for the adaptation.

      Speaking of Joseph, as much as he defined Battle Tendency, this was also what contributed to a minor flaw of the story, being that he simply overshadowed everyone else. As fantastic and varied the rest of the cast was with their dialogue and unique battle styles, they were unfortunately not nearly as much of a driving force. Characters such as Caesar and Lisa-Lisa were both perfectly capable fighters and the little bit that we got to see of them showed that they each had their own respective fighting styles. However, the problem was that both didn’t receive enough screen time and in the case of Lisa’s fight with Cars, went down far too easily. It’s something which would have enhanced the flavour of the story and diversity of the fights.

      Perhaps my biggest complaint about the adaptation of Battle Tendency was its apparent lack of budget, which was especially disappointing considering how action-heavy it was. In particular, the infamous chariot battle in the anime wasn’t nearly as exciting due to the lack of animation and the long-winded explanations grinding the battle to a stop at times. While I can understand that some of the battle techniques were so out of this world that they would be difficult to grasp otherwise, I still stand by the notion that a “show, don’t tell” approach would have benefitted this adaptation. The lengthy explanations were fitting with the manga medium, but in anime format? Not so much. With that said, I do have to hand it to David Production for attempting to make creative use of their limited budget via their fabulous colouring and dynamic character angles, though they still paled in comparison to Araki’s expressive artwork.

      Overall, I was still pleased with the adaptation of Jojo, despite its shortcomings such as a lack of budget and ineffective transition to the animated medium. I’ll be looking forward to seeing Part 3 and the rest of the series animated.

      Yeah, I’m used to text walls. :3

  6. The little attention given to Caesar and Lisa2 is even less of a problem in the anime than in the manga. Caesar’s fight was actually much better in the anime, since the tricks were not too convulated and sudden, so it transitioned to the anime format well and Caesar’s soap bubbles surely stand out more with the rainbow colours. The death drama was better handled too.

    Drama is actually one of the minuses of BT. Why add it? I guess Araki wanted the blood connection no matter what but it was revealed in a rather unfitting time and place. The Caesar’s thing could have been left untouched but it’s not as bad as lolit’surmother

    I don’t think anime-only people didn’t like the colosseum but it was much, much better on paper. I’m on vol 74 of JoJo and the chariot race hasn’t been topped yet. As you said, the explanations hurt the anime and I’ve whined about the music used there before. Also forgot to complain about the anime never deciding just how much muscle Joseph actually has.

    Part 3 is a step down from 2 no matter the view point, there’re some serious missteps. It baffles me how it’s the most popular part. Still, there a few noteworthy fights so if we get actual animation and good VAs for ORAORAORA and WRYYY it’ll be an enjoyable experience.

  7. *Looks at Best Comedy* Where is Binbougami-ga? Shame on you man. :|

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