Do you feel that? There’s something in the air, something fleeting but powerful at the same time. A sort of nostalgic chill has settled into your bones, and you wonder what it is. But hey! Don’t stand outside like that. Come inside to SBD, the fire’s getting warm. I’ll take your coat and prepare you some tea as we sit back and reminisce about some of the animes that we’ve watched over the year of 2012.
Over the next 12 days, me, Wendeego and Steven will guide you through the currents and tides of 2012: from shows we’ve watched airing live, to shows that are many years old, to shows that may have not been the best of quality but still stuck with us in one way or the other. Since I’m not going to be here for a bit in a couple of days, I’m up first, so let’s take a look at four shows that I thought really contributed to this wonderful year!
ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, THE FARIES GAVE TO ME….
A PARADOG IN A PEAR TREE: Jinrui Wa Suitai Shimashita
I’ll start off with personal honesty: If I had to pick my top favorite show of the year, it would be Jinrui (a serious contender would be Fujiko Mine or Jojo, but that might come later). Not only was it well-written and enjoyable, but it was a surprise that came out of nowhere for me. I wasn’t even planning on watching the show until Wendeego made me sit down and see it, telling me it was by some guy named Romeo Tanaka. After that, I was hooked. And why not? As an aniblogger, it’s my job to evaluate. There are always the shows that you expect to be good, which are good, and the shows that you expect to be great, that turn into a failure. The most satisfying shows however, are the surprises – the shows you pluck on a whim, rolling your eyes as you press the play button, and then widen your eyes in amazement as you finish the episode, immediately thirsting for another. Jinrui was that sort of show for me, and I can’t thank myself and Wendeego enough for having the impulse and sense to watch it.
Of course, from a more technical and analytical level, Jinrui was smart. It wasn’t obnoxious in its subtlety, which is easy to find amongst all the ‘deep’ anime these days (see: Psycho Pass), but it didn’t downplay its cards either. It smoothly melded witty social criticism with bizarre and entertaining comedy with a deadpan tone that made me laugh and think. The lack of chronological order made the show all the more delicious as we stumbled across episodes, trying to find a specific timeline, only to find out that it didn’t really matter! I mean, you had a show that featured things like satellite androids, a fairy spin on Lord of the Flies, and even banana peel-instigated time loops. But that was the best part. Jinrui carefully walked the very fine and delicate line between nonsensical and complicated, with style. The last show to do that for me was FLCL, which ended up becoming an all time favorite for me. This sort of skill takes some real masterwork and talent, and I can tell you that Jinrui had both.
Of course, one can boast skill and surprise, but the best parts of Jinrui for me were two things: the main protagonist, and the fact that the show had a safely hidden heart and soul that was only exposed towards the end. Watashi was a delightful and refreshing female protagonist with her astute observations and unshielded cynicism. Snarky but also tragic, her presence in the story formed a sort of anchor for Jinrui‘s whimsical nature. I connected deeply with her especially toward the last two episodes, as she alienated herself from others out of the idea that she was a true lone wolf, only to find that what she wanted most was a friend all along. It was here that Jinrui paused the satirical and playful behavior, and shone light on feelings I thought I’d never have in the show in the first place. Jinrui surprised me from start to end – a feat not many anime are capable of, and thus I’m glad to label it as one of the four anime that really made 2012 complete for me.