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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2012 Anime Preview:

This fall anime season is blazing by, and it's almost time for the winter 2012 anime season to begin. Obviously, until I watch what is on offer, I don't have many opinions about this coming season. has a thorough run through of what's coming up for those who are interested.

I'm more interested in what's been announced to appear in 2012 as a whole. Among series currently ranked in the top 110, 30 have already promised to return with new content in 2012. Sometimes that content may be just a tiny dollop, and sometimes it's a whole new tv season, but the point is we're already well on our way to having fantastic year of anime in 2012. 30 doesn't match the record setting 45/110 that 2011 possessed, but it does exceed everything 2008-down. IE, even this far out, when most 2012 series still haven't even been announced much less aired, it has already promised to be in the top 4 years of quality/quantity anime. I would be happy with simply what's already been promised coming out for 2012 and nothing else making any impact at all. It would still be a stellar year to look forward to. We're living amidst an embarrassment of riches in anime, I would almost feel guilty if any more good series were released next year.

To get people excited about the coming year, let's give a rundown of what to expect:

#2. Pretty Cure has promised a new DX Movie (where all the pretty cures from all seasons have an adventure together) and a new tv season, Smile Precure. Suite Precure will also be airing a ways into 2012, which has been a wonderful ride. I hate comparing Precure seasons one to the other because they're all so good, so suffice to say that Suite Precure, like the others, is a must see. For the first time ever Suite Precure is coming out in 1080p blu-ray as well, which shows the series is really stepping up its game to please its customers by drawing harder and better than ever.

#3. One Piece has a new movie planned in 2012 and will continue at least until the end of this fishman island arc. From there it might flounder into filler, or maybe it will somehow keep pace with the manga, each episode only covering a single chapter? Time will tell. In any event, we can expect this immortal series to just keep on going like clockwork, as it has for the last 12 years.

#4. A long promised Code Geass side story is finally slated to come out this year. It won't be very long, and is supposed to feature new characters in Europe. But if it's Code Geass it's going to be amazing somehow or other.

#5. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha has a new movie planned for release this summer. It will be a retelling of the Nanoha A's season, the best season in Nanoha. The first movie was a graphics boost of the original Nanoha season, and was extremely faithful to the source, while also even finding time to add new content. If this movie does the same for A's, it will be a wonderful addition to the franchise.

#7. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni has a couple more oav's on the way. I have no idea what they'll be about, but expect more random silly filler. Better than nothing, right?

#10. Fairy Tail will still be in the Tenrou island arc come 2012, after which it will probably go into filler, because its rapid pace has gotten to the point where it is almost caught up with the manga, more's the pity. Fairy Tail barely relied on any filler for over 100 episodes, which has delivered us with a fast paced shonen action masterpiece up until this point, but now we can expect the series to lose steam, just like Bleach, Naruto and One Piece did before it. It was nice while it lasted, right? There's also a Fairy Tail movie coming along in 2012, though it will be unrelated to the real plot.

#11. Naruto will finally be leaving filler land in 2012 and can hopefully deliver this entire 'great ninja war' in one uninterrupted bonanza. Hopefully the manga artist intends to finish the series with this giant war and therefore the anime can end on a high note of non-filler non-stop action as well. Meanwhile, Naruto also plans to make yet another filler movie in 2012, much like One Piece does. Naruto is a shadow of its former self, focusing on the least likable, least interesting characters in the series, and regurgitating undead copies of earlier enemies while saying the same tired cliched generic heroic lines that they've been saying for the last ten years. If 2012 is the year we can put a stake in this zombie anime about zombie ninjas then hallelujah.

#25. Bakuman's current fall season is going to spill over into 2012. I have no idea what plot twists await us now that Detective Trap has been cancelled in the latest episode. :(. But I'm sure they'll recover and write an even more exciting manga next time! You can do it, Ashirogi Muto, achieve your dreams and marry your girlfriends!

#28. Hayate no Gotoku will be releasing its theatrical movie to blu-ray disk, which is the first time people outside of Japan will have a chance to watch it. It will also have new content that the movie goers didn't get to see either. At some point during this year a third TV season of Hayate should also be coming out. There is so much uncovered content in the manga that the anime could have a field day and be about practically anything, but I do hope it stays faithful to the source and doesn't have any filler. With hundreds of manga chapters to choose from, it doesn't have any excuse to just wander around like Hayate's first tv season did. The characters in Hayate no Gotoku are uniquely likable and it will be so good to have them back on the screen again.

#31. Evangelion 3.0, the next movie in this ever-more-screwed-up version of the original TV series, is slated for release in the fall of 2012. I would say that these movies are 'filler,' because they no longer have any resemblance to the original, but they're done by the same people who did the original, who therefore have the right to change their own story however they please. Instead I will say this is a 'retelling' of Evangelion, which so far has been graphically much more beautiful, but storyline wise much worse than the original. Let's hope they keep the gorgeous graphics part and write a good story for this third movie.

#34. Saki Achiga-Hen will be about another group of girls in the same mahjong tournament as Kyosumi (Saki's crew). They're in another bracket so if they both beat all their competitors these two schools would meet in the finals for the national championship. That sounds like an incredibly awesome idea, to write a season for two different sides who will eventually clash in an epic conflict in some sort of third season finale, giving as much characterization to the 'antagonists' as the 'protagonists.' I don't know if that's what will happen, but here's hoping.

#35. Major's final oav covering Goro winning the World Series will spill over into 2012. That will mean Major has released new anime installments for 9 years running. Even though this will be the 'true final last episode,' it's great that an anime series managed to stay so good for so long.

#36. Prince of Tennis continues to deliver! Like One Piece, Naruto and Bleach, it refuses to end and so now we have 'New Prince of Tennis' discussing a training camp that happens after the middle school tournament (already won by our heroes Seigaku.) The manga they intend to animate is great fun so this animated series will also be great, hopefully with a major graphics upgrade from the Prince of Tennis of past years. However, without the drama surrounding a high-stakes national championship on the line, I doubt this series will have any real 'plot' or 'point' to it. Oh well. Nevermind that and let's play ball!

#41. Hanasaku Iroha promises to have some sort of new anime in 2012. Details at this point are vague.

#42. Usagi Drop has a few short extra specials within its blu-ray disk version of the TV series that aired in 2011, some of which disks are being released in 2012. They're adorable sweet nothings, and I'm glad to have them.

#44. Rurouni Kenshin is slated to have some additional OAV's of the Kyoto (Shishio) arc coming out in 2012. I assume they'll be graphically better and more true to the manga than the original TV series. Always a plus, though it's ridiculous they didn't instead choose to animate the as of yet completely unanimated Revenge (Enishi) arc. It's practically an insult to give us more of what we don't want while refusing to give us anything we do want. Who are these production companies and why do they make the decisions they do? God only knows.

#56. Bleach is currently in a strong arc that goes a bit into Ichigo's past and family and friends. It's a lot more fun than more meaningless Captains versus Hollows fights or even more meaningless filler arcs. This will continue into 2012, but soon enough we'll be back to filler again, because Bleach is always right on the heels of its manga source. Has any company thought to just take a long break and get back to an anime once the manga has years of lead time again? Just a thought.

#57. Amagami SS wasn't content with its source material, the video game dating sim, that produced such a fantastic first season. So this time it's going to add a second season of pure filler about their 'after stories.' It could be horrendous, but it could also be sweet and fulfilling. It's always nice to see a romance work out in the long run as well as the short run. Better than nothing, right?

#60. Zero no Tsukaima will finally be returning to give us a satisfying ending with a real end point. The first season was good, and the second season was great, but the third season of this series was horri-bad trash. One of the problems with the third season is nothing happened and there was no ending, no closure, to anything. Hopefully this fourth season, by fixing these problems, will be Zero no Tsukaima's salvation as a whole. The series definitely deserves to end on a better note than the 3rd season, and it now has the entire, completed, light novel series to work from as a source. I have high hopes for this one. You know another light novel series that's over where the anime just left us hanging? It's this little thing called Full Metal Panic. Whoever decided to finish up Shakugan no Shana and Zero no Tsukaima, could you please give the people over at Full Metal Panic a call? Pretty please?

#62. Showing that Japanese have a healthy appreciation for irony, the Berserk movies of a manga that has been ongoing for some 20-30 years will be a reprise, a retelling, of the same manga material covered in the Berserk anime TV season. Nevermind the last 20 years of material, let's just stick with the first 5 and do them all over again. These people must have heard about the other studio's plan for Rurouni Kenshin and thought this was a fantastic idea and sought to imitate it for all they're worth. Nevertheless, we can assume the movies will be higher graphics versions of the anime, which Berserk really deserves, since the manga has such stellar production value that almost every page is alive with ink.

#65. Maho Sensei Negima's movie 'final' will be released in February, with loads of additional content. It will be like a totally different movie than the one Japanese watched this summer. This entire anime has been a trainwreck. Why is this the final anime of Negima? The Negima manga is still continuing. Furthermore, they never once tried to accurately animate the entire series in its full detail without deviations from the script, and they never once showed the all-important school festival (Chao) arc. The animators of Negima seem to have some sort of vendetta for this series, determined to make it as bad as possible. Even so, since it's based off of one of the best, hands-down, mangas of all time, the anime has STILL ended up being good. I just can't stand what has been lost and this arrogant decision to give up on a Negima series that deserved so much more support. Fine, since they insist on animating this series in a completely wrongheaded fashion, it's best that it finally ends in 2012 anyway. In the chronicles of anime maladaptions, this will always rankle as #1. Well, there was Full Moon wo Sagashite. . .

#67. Like Zero no Louise, the second season of Shakugan no Shana was terrible because it had no ending, no closure whatsoever. It basically torpedoed the series, which for the first season was actually quite good. Shakugan no Shana III final is meant to fix that tragedy, and it will take longer than just this fall to do it. This ongoing anime project will slip over into 2012 to tell the tale in its entirety, and then we'll finally know if Yuuji and Shana get together, if they defeat Bal Masque, and so on. Sadly, the anime is trying to compress so many details from so many Shana books into just one anime season to wrap it all up, that it's coming out as a confusing mess. There's like 50 characters running around of whom we know nearly nothing about. This season has its good points, but it's nowhere nearly as good as the first season. As such, it's just another disappointment. It was nice of the animators to give us a real ending to this long-running story, however. I'm definitely thankful for that.

#70. Strike Witches has a movie planned for this 2012 spring. I have no idea what the plot could be about, since in the previous season the main character lost her magic powers. I guess they'll get around that somehow?

#71. Hunter x Hunter's remake will continue into 2012 without a hitch. There's tons more manga content to 'retell.' This new series has been fun, but it's an incredible disappointment that they won't stick to the script and insist on cutting portions of the manga while adding in their own filler nonsense. Who do they think they are and why do they think they know better than the original artist how to make a good story? You can't trust anything you see in front of you when it comes to this Hunter x Hunter series. It's completely hit or miss whether the scene you're watching actually happened that way in the manga. What a waste of what could have been a great new shonen action anime series.

#72. Gundam AGE will continue in 2012, as will Gundam Unicorn, and there's also a Gundam SEED HD coming. Gundam's quality is never that high, but they make sure to make up for that with quantity. This year's slew of Gundam releases is no change to that formula.

#73. Fate/Zero is going to pick up again in the spring of 2012, giving us the concluding half of this epic tale of contesting wills, swords and sorcery. I expect it to be as spectacular and riveting as the first half has been, but with almost everyone killed off, instead of all staying alive and gracing the screen with their colorful antics. Too bad, that, but it's how the plot works so it can't be helped.

#79. To Heart is going to have another cute little oav, this time about its fantasy rpg game where everyone dresses up to battle slimes or whatever. No doubt this was intended to help sales of the game -- but that's what the oav's for To Heart have been intended for for many years now, neh? They're still great.

#84. The critically acclaimed and fan favorite Bakemonogatari is returning for a second season. The question is 'how long will it be?' The light novel series off of which it is based is done, and there's plenty of source material to work off from, but they could cruelly animate just one or two and leave the rest to rot (sort of like Haruhi did for its second season while giving us endless eight. . .), or they could be awesome and with this season wrap up the entire project going from one densely packed episode of action and intrigue to the next. Meanwhile, a prequel to Bakemonogatari, Kizumonogatari, will be coming out as a movie this same year. There's just no telling how good all this will be.

#94. Steins;Gate is slated to have some special extra episode alongside its blu-ray release in February. It clearly won't be about much since the anime covered everything satisfactorily already, but it can't hurt. There's also a plan for some sort of Steins;Gate movie, but I doubt it will come out this year. The movie will also suck, since the series already has a satisfactory ending and doesn't need anything more tacked on top of it. But let's ignore that.

#95. Believe it or not, Gunbuster is slated to have a short extra special included in its new 2012 blu-ray release. All hail Gunbuster! Old series never die, it seems, they just take long hibernations.

That's all that's been confirmed so far. I'm not sure if I got people excited about the coming year, though, because I attacked virtually everything coming up as 'not good enough.' Hehe. Well, to enjoy anime, you have to understand it, and that means its strengths and weaknesses. Every anime fan rags on every anime, it's just what we do. The same for football fans who agonize over every missed tackle and dropped pass of their beloved team's.

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