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Old 2012-11-27, 16:42   Link #1
Dawnstorm
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Pleasant anime surprises of 2012

Companion thread to this one. Since I made it last year, I thought I'd make it this year, too. I like to balance the negativity with a bit of positivity.

Here's my list:

Shirokuma Café:

What I thought I would get: A moderately funny slice of life comedy which exploits animals for cuteness, absurdity.

What I got instead: A hilarious slice of life comedy with likable characters and a distinct feel-good air. Also, someone - probably the original magaka - actually seems to be interested in animals.


Sengoku Collection:

What I thought I would get: Yet another (more or less fanservicy) samurai girls show.

What I got instead: Well, that's tricky. I watched the first episode (almost didn't), and here we are. Ah, here's the Nobunaga cuty, and here's the avarage male lead... Boring. But, uh, well, the character design has a sort of cheeky charm, so I'll stick with it. At the end of the episode: wait, she leaves? Surely they'll meet again and the cookie-cutter plot commences? Next episode? New characters. Then? New characters. Ah. Collection. I see. It's going to be episodic. My interest perked up a bit. Then came Date Masamune's episode. It wasn't my favourite episode up until that point, but it was... stylistically different (despite retaining the over-all feel). I was... disorientated. What's going on? Come to think of it, every episode had its own feel, really. Why didn't I notice before. Then: some more episodes. And then Hideyoshi's episode. Wait, what? Alice in Wonderland with a sprinkling of Wizard of Oz and a weirdness worthy of Ken Russel or David Lynch? *In love with this episode* Wait a minute... I go to the thread to check, and - yes - they're using pop culture reference as a template for each show. Intrest turned up to the level it will stay. The show is very uneven. Some episodes are mind-numbingly dull, others are brilliant. But there's definitely more than meets the eye. And the best thing: because of the episodic format it's safe skip episodes that bore you.


Mouretsu Uchuu Kaizoku:

What I thought I would get: At some point in the development this was referred to as "Mini-skirt Pirates". I'll give you three guesses what I expected.

What I got instead: A fun, family-friendly adventure show that took its SF surprisingly seriously, but didn't beat you over the head with it.

Tari Tari:

What I thought I'd get: A lesser Hanasaku Iroha

What I got instead: A consistent, well-done slice of life show with respect for all its characters, even the grown ups.

Last edited by Dawnstorm; 2012-11-27 at 16:49. Reason: Formatting
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Old 2012-11-27, 16:55   Link #2
Kaioshin Sama
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Accel World comes to mind for me. With the writer of Guilty Crown and an initially wussy weak willed character voiced by the then incredibly typecast and thus played out Yuki Kaji I didn't expect to last more than a couple eps of fancy with this. Instead I found myself getting pulled into a well produced adaptation with one of the most ambitious yet well rounded and not to mention gorgeous and elegant heroines I'd seen in ages. The show also doesn't get nearly enough credit for its ensemble cast which at times can get overshadowed by said heroines "presence", but theyre all pretty enjoyable and get there moment in the spotlight. Was not expecting this to be anywhere near as enjoyable as it was let alone enjoyable at all so yeah it takes the cake.

Honorable mentions:

Zetsuen no Tempest (actual coherent Bones show for 2 whole months now)
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse
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Old 2012-11-27, 17:16   Link #3
mistress_kisara
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Sankarea - At first I was "meh, ecchi and its Studio Deen" but I was drawn in when they told Rea's back story :P
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Old 2012-11-27, 17:28   Link #4
RWBladewing
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I'll second Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. I really hated the direction the series took after the amazing first couple episodes, and was on the verge of dropping it, but it returned to form very quickly and has kept me interested since. The overall plot has been pretty slow-paced but, unlike the show I mentioned as my most disappointing for that same reason, this never feels like it's dragging and has used most of its time for really effective character development - to the point that I probably care more about these characters than the cast of any other show I'm currently watching.

I suppose I'll say Shin Sekai Yori as well, though it's still early and it could go anywhere from here. Just wanted to mention it because I had literally heard nothing about it until I saw it pop up as a subforum here and it's kept me enthralled from the get-go. I really like the dark (-er?) Miyazaki vibe it seems to give me, and the lurking sense of dread just beneath an initially benign-seeming exterior is really interesting (helped greatly by the ED as well).

Edit: Wanted to mention Campione! as well. I wouldn't really say it's a great show but I was kinda impressed with how much research of mythology seemingly went into setting up the main character's ability. Not something I expected from a series that initially appeared to be a standard harem.
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Old 2012-11-27, 17:46   Link #5
Ithekro
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Space Battleship Yamato 2199

I was slightly worried in 2011 when they announced this was coming. Partly because it wasn't clear if it was a movie series, and OVA series, or a TV series (the anwer to those is yes...all the above). Also worried it might turn out like Yamato 2520 or DaiYamato in the 1990s. The hope came from the 2009 animated film and the 2010 live action film. It 2199 could be made better than those....

My only complaint is that is comes out so slowly (presently there are 10 episodes out with four more due in January). But for that slowness we get a quality product from people who quite obviously care about the old show, as they spent an awful amount of time detailing and correcting plotholes either correcting or explaining mistakes from the original show from 1974. They have also included things from later in the show to complete the circles that were presented in backstory (characters that were introduced in later series or films that should have been around in the first series, or were said to have been around but we never saw them). They've also made it so the crew doesn't suffer from the "hundreds of men, one woman", problem that happened a lot in the 1970s.

It isn't even a straight retelling either. They are making new stories to fit into the old ones, as well as changing some of the character dynamics. And it is handled very well. I do hope they make a Comet Empire based sequel at some point, cause I seriously want to see their vision of the Battle of Saturn and the Earth Defense Forces at there high point with Battleship Andromeda.

Also gloriously detailed spaceships.
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Old 2012-11-27, 17:58   Link #6
NK_500
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Medaka Box. I expect this show to be mediocre since I don't like Jump's shows(like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, etc) but it turns out to one of my all-time favorite shounen like Rurouni Kenshin as it didn't suffer Dragon Ball's Syndrome which afflicted the Jump's Big Three.
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Old 2012-11-27, 18:01   Link #7
NinjaRealist
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Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki:

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I am on tons of anime sites on the internet and I seem to be literally the only english speaking person who gives a damn about this excellent show.

The rest of you are missing out big time. That's all I can say.
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Old 2012-11-27, 18:10   Link #8
Kirarakim
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Thank you for creating this thread because yes we need something positive to balance out something negative.

And Shirokuma Cafe tops my list. Honestly I only started watching this for the seiyuu. I wasn't expecting much and I thought after the initial amusement of hearing some of my favorite seiyuu as animals wore off I would probably drop this. I also only thought this series was one cour.

30 something episodes later I can't get enough. This series has charmed its way into my heart. I am very picky about straight comedy series as far as anime goes the only other comedy I have loved as much as this was Azumanga Daioh. I mean I love the characters, it makes me incredibly happy every week, and now forget one cour I wish it was 100 episodes (sadly it will only be 50).


Tsuritama
is another one. I can't say I had no expectations for this because I loved Mononoke but all of Nakamura's other series since have not really interested me so I prepared myself for disappointment. Initially I also didn't really like one of the main characters Haru...However as the series progressed I found the character development and relationships to be phenomenal....this is how you do a one cour series.


Ixion Saga This is kind of an honorable mention since I don't necessarily rate it as highly as the above two.

Again I started to watch this only for the seiyuu. The premise sounded really stupid to me so I had low expectations coming in but I was pleasantly surprised that this was a complete spoof/parody of going into other world/gamer series. I love how the series doesn't take itself remotely serious. While this is definitely not going to be an all time favorite of mine it ended up much better then I expected (that being said I am not sure if they can keep up the level of comedy for 2 cour).


edit: Forgot to add Hyouka because I am not the biggest Kyoani fan but I thought it was great. Loved the character development and if there is ever a 2nd season I will definitely be watching.
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Old 2012-11-27, 18:12   Link #9
judasmartel
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I hereby second Accel World. In this show, the author of the original work, who also made Sword Art Online, showed us that he's not afraid to break out of the tried-and-tested protagonist mold (i.e. tall and lanky) by creating an overweight main lead whose unique situation surprisingly fits the theme of this story: overcoming emotional scars and turning them into strengths.

If he were to create the main character who fits the standard mold, then his emotional scar won't be as deep as Haruyuki's, and since in the setting of the story your powers depend on how deep your emotional scars are, won't be as unique if not as powerful as Silver Crow (he gained true flight in a game where everyone else can't fly). The entire story would then end up being just another anime fighter by focusing on his quest for power instead of his development as a VR player and as a person.
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Old 2012-11-27, 18:44   Link #10
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Hyouka is easily up there. I was also really surprised by Girls Und Panzer. Aquarion Evol is fucking glorious, putting that godawful original to shame. Also really liked Thermae Romae and Milky Holmes.
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Old 2012-11-27, 18:59   Link #11
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Aquarion Evol - Even though some people dislike it. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride even though I was confused at many parts.

Girls und Panzer - I went into this anime thinking "I might drop this later anyway". What I got instead was me thoroughly studying the tanks, and enjoying the characters to a high degree. This is one show that I would follow with utmost anticipation.
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Old 2012-11-27, 19:50   Link #12
Daniel E.
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Binbougami ga!

I started watching this because someone recommended it to me, and it quickly become the one anime I was looking forward the most each week.

The parodies do get a bit boring after a while but still.......
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Old 2012-11-27, 19:54   Link #13
Echoes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
Sengoku Collection .... The show is very uneven. Some episodes are mind-numbingly dull, others are brilliant. But there's definitely more than meets the eye.
You said it, man. My thoughts exactly. I enjoyed this show a whole lot, and I'm happy to see someone else appreciating it for a change! Its biggest weakness, as you rightly point out, is its unevenness. Some episodes are disposable, even plain boring in a few cases, while others are outright amazing. The episode that really blew me out of the water was the one about Four-Leaves, which was number 18 I believe. Touching story and interesting art direction. The sheer amount of variety present in the show is fantastic. There's a space episode, a murder-mystery arc, idol episodes, absurdist humor episodes, and a whole lot more. Great little show that deserves some more love. It's no masterpiece overall, but the strongest episodes of the series are downright incredible.

I'll go ahead and toss Zero no Tsukaima F out there. Again, no masterpiece, but it was a huge step up from the lackluster second and third season. A return to form, I thought. It didn't quite live up to the first season, which I loved, but it was a fun time and concluded the series in a satisfying manner. And what do you know, we actually got some kick-ass fantasy action out of this season as well. I'm very happy with the outcome of this one. It's not often that a series recovers after it goes into "sequel hell."

Here's another one, and this is one is embarrassing as hell. Still, I gotta say, I enjoyed Queen's Blade Rebellion. The first two seasons were the guiltiest of pleasures there are, with superb character designs, voice work and sex appeal being the only real draws. Rebellion though, I actually thought was a lot more fun. I think I'm in the minority on this one, and I can't quite put my finger on what was different. Maybe I just didn't really like Leina as a main character. Either way, I like this season better. Had more of an adventure feel to it.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san.
This was another series that turned out to be really fun, and is likely the series that had the largest contrast between expectation and result. I tried to watch those earlier flash-animated series of the same name, and I just didn't get into them at all. Didn't find them funny. The TV series, however, was just great. Nyaruko absolutely steals the show with her intense energy and crazy antics. Asumi Kana gives it her all, and I'm tempted to say this is her best role I've heard. (Just tempted though, let's not get crazy.)

I'll add Jojo's Bizarre Adventure in there too for good measure. I expected good things from this title. I'd heard a lot of great things about the manga for the longest time, and was looking forward to the series; I went in with reasonably high expectations. Yet, the series absolutely floored me with how compelling it was. Its sincere action and amazing sense of style is irresistible. I guess it's no coincidence that the manga started in the 80s, because that's exactly what I'm reminded of when I watch it: An 80s action movie. And boy, do I love those when they're done right. This is edge of your seat kind of stuff. Listen to that opening and get your blood pumping. Then listen to the ending while it sinks in that you have to wait a whole other week for the next episode. Damn.
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Old 2012-11-27, 20:03   Link #14
KleenexGhost
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Weird pick mainly because it didn't come out in 2012, but I watched it earlier this year. Hopefully it counts

Soultaker

Cool take on the dark hero genre. I liked the performances of the voice cast. It looked good visually. The story while short always had my attention.
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Old 2012-11-27, 20:15   Link #15
Qikz
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TARI TARI and Robotics;Notes (so far for me)
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Old 2012-11-27, 20:31   Link #16
Guy Incognito
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Ixion Saga DT and Shinsekai yori.

foot note: watched Ixion Saga ed for the first time kinda gay
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Old 2012-11-27, 20:41   Link #17
RegalStar
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Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Was expecting a run-of-the-mill ecchi harem comedy, and instead found extremely well-developed character-driven drama interlaced within.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun: Was expecting a shoujo romance drama that would either bore me in a few episodes, or with some comedy to carry the show for me. The comedy is there, but I also found an extremely loveable and well-developed cast that I can't get enough of.

A weaker example but Acchi Kocchi: I was expecting a decent quality romance comedy 4-coma adaptation, similar to something like, say, A channel to its genre. Basically, watchable but not really memorable. I instead found a triple perfection of comedy, heartwarmingness, and cuteness overload.
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Old 2012-11-27, 20:58   Link #18
Obelisk ze Tormentor
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Almost all anime I watched (and watching) are not really far from my expectation. So, not many surprises to me, except:

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
At first, I thought this will be another ridiculous harem anime. Turns out it has a coherent story, a deep theme of real-life lesson (keep fighting for your dream while facing reality), good balance between humor and drama and very likable characters (so far). I even like the hilarious imouto.

Zetsuen no Tempest
One of the best mystery anime this season. This anime is a good example of execution done well. The story is pretty unique, the characters are multi-layered, the pacing is near perfect, animation & character design are great, the action delivers, and the soundtrack is amazing. The only downside (so far) is the English (or Engrish?) OP song which is...weird (to me, at least ).

Oda Nobuna no Yabou
Just like Sakurasou, I expected another ridiculous harem set in sengoku period. Even though it didn’t far exceed my expectation in terms of story-ridiculousness, the execution of it is quite well done. Not a masterpiece, but it certainly surpass my expectation.

I may add other titles later but that’s from the top of my head now.

PS: I wanna mention Ixion Saga too since I was surprised by the comedy in the first two eps but the later offerings didn’t do much for me. So, yeah.
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Old 2012-11-27, 21:08   Link #19
ForwardUntoDawn
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Pleasant things are pleasant

Tari Tari makes my list for being able to capture the dynamics of wanting to put something together before an era closes without being derivative from Hanasaku Iroha. Tari Tari's main cast went about their endeavours in a unique, refreshing manner that makes it sufficiently distinct from Hanasaku Iroha and reminding us that superficialities are sometimes not enough for us to make a judgement on. In this case, yes, the characters have some physical similarities, but that is about as far as similarities go.

Kokoro Connect would also make my list. The entire business of body-switching potentially could have lent itself to some inappropriate humour, but the plot was executed such that more emphasis was placed on the psychological elements of the phenomenon, making it fun to watch.
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Old 2012-11-27, 21:19   Link #20
SeijiSensei
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As I wrote over in the "most disappointing" thread I have three nominees for this category:

AKB0048 - I could care less about idols, but this show just caught my fancy from the opening episode. The whole concept of guerrilla idol singers traversing the universe and facing off against repressive military forces is hilariously silly, but somehow the show maintains it charm throughout. Top-notch direction in many episodes with beautifully realized backgrounds by Satelight's team of French illustrators and a solid score all helped. The staff also did an excellent job of integrating the AKB48 tunes into the story. Watch the transition in the first episode from the opening number, "Aitakatta" to the song immediately following during the battle sequence, "Shōjotachi yo." That song with its "girl-power" lyrics is the perfect complement to watching TakaMina fight off huge soldiers with her electroshock hair ribbon. Remarkably. though hundreds of years have passed. the girls are still singing the same repertoire that their predecessors, the actual AKB48 group, sing today!

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I kept getting suggestions to watch Chihayafuru from people whose opinions I respect, but the opening episode always made me think it was going to be some fluffy shoujo story with lots of flowers and sparkles all over the screen. So one day I sat down, started watching, and finished all 26 episodes in two sessions. The basic story line is quite reminiscent of Hikaru no Go, though with a female protagonist, of course. The story progresses through many of the same stages -- discovering the appeal of a game, karuta in this case; collecting together misfits into a school team; competing in interscholastic contests; and, in Chihaya's case, beginning the path toward becoming a professional. Though karuta is a card game, it involves attentive listening, quick reflexes, and physical prowess. I'm looking forward to the second season early next year.

Like Kirarakim, I approached Tsuritama with mixed emotions. Her feelings about Nakamura's previous work parallel my own, and I wondered what he was doing making a show about fishing of all things. Well, it was just a joy to watch week in and week out. I expected that it would be upstaged by the higher-profile production, Sakamichi no Apollon, with which it was paired on noitaminA, but after a few weeks, it was Tsuritama I anticpated the most.
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