Oooo ... you know ... if you like fantasy'ish backgrounds then you might like Kemono no Soujo Erin. It is not outright "sword and sorcery" stuff (like The Lord of the Rings or such), but has "mythical like beasts" and a race of folk reputed to do things like magic.
There are 50 eps, and it takes 18 eps to really get rolling story wise, and if you can force yourself to get there you suddenly realize how important the previous 18 eps were for the rest of the series - that is, what originally seemed to be random encounters and seemed to be presented to the viewer as such turn out to be very important ... umm ... "life lessons" I guess.
Studio I.G. did it in 2009 and it is in the watercolor'ish style somewhat similar to what Usagi Drop was drawn in (or the old 1979 Rankin Bass animation of "The Hobbit", if you remember that one).
It turned out to be a really moving "Coming of Age" story for me - SeijiSensei was the one who recommended it to me. If you are interested to check it out try to find the subs by static subs - they have the best translation hands down. Coalgirls did a BD rip using static's subs' work, but if you are familiar with Coalgirls' BD encodings the whole 50 eps are rather ... large.
Still it was a completely unexpected and pleasant surprise for me - you might like it too.
As for The Twelve Kingdoms, I am on ep 3 and the only thing I have to say so far is that the main heroine is dense and a crybaby (but then if she weren't the story would not take up the 45 eps they made it in perhaps ).
I also agree with you about your thoughts about Sana in Mashiro, btw. I think the best possible "ending" for her would be to "calm down" and reflect some over her actions and lost opportunities as a result. I like the tsundere trope when it is portrayed as a temp stage of emotional immaturity that one grows out of ... for me this is the most believable. (This was one of the reasons, foe example, why I liked the "true end" arc of Ore no Imouto so much more over the "good end" arc; and also why I have been enjoying the Kaichou wa Maid-sama manga up to now.)
Incidentally, I had thought of Chihaya's "asexuality" not so much in the context of her being so caught up in Karuta that she does not care ... but moreso as a little bit of a state of "arrested development", I guess. I have a feeling that part of her maturing into a both a better player and a more integral person will involve her ... umm ... let's see ... not so much as having Karuta be the main influence in her life, but having her life be the main influence in Karuta, if you get my meaning.
Thanks a lot! I'm glad you found my assessment of Chihaya's character a compelling one there.
It is a bit odd how seemingly asexual she is, so I wanted to find out what could be causing that. The best possible answer, I think is "Oh, she's so caught up in Karuta she doesn't care about stuff like romance any more".
Ty for the avy explanation ... makes a little more sense to me now.
Yes indeed ... I happen to be very fond of the "healing genre" of anime in general; I'd even say exceptionally fond of it. So of course my tastes will excuse a lot of "other elements" that others might look for and exalt that series high up in my estimation. Coupled with that is that I was already a huge fan of Tamayura from the OVAs and the Drama CD. It will definitely be among my faves for the year.
But to be fair, even though I love the series, it still does not exceed Ikoku Meiro for me. The latter is definitely shaping up to be my fave series of the year ... if something "de-thrones" it I will be quite shocked! Yune is still proudly occupying her throne and ruling with an iron fist.
Re. Mashiro-iro ... I also like the fact that Sakuno is so normal ... although we will see as the eps progress.