I’m usually not as put upon as Kyon, but sometimes it feels like it!
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m still pretty new to anime. Apart from a couple forays in years past, I’ve only really been watching anime since October 2011. So I thought that instead of the same kind of “Best Anime of 2012” list that most people are putting up, I’d try to give more of a review of this past year from someone whose perspective was a little different.
As I said in my Interrogation Game answer, I started watching anime after we got a subscription to Netflix streaming, and I noticed that there was an anime section. All of Netflix’s anime is English dubbed, so all of it is older stuff that’s been licensed in the US with re-release deals. But a good part of this is that it also tends to be stuff that was at least successful enough to get a dub. So I watched a few series that, in hindsight, I might not watch now, but a couple were shows that are at least somewhat well thought of: Ah! My Goddess, Chobits. Of course, there were also a couple that were not as good: The Sacred Blacksmith, Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne, and some that were so uninteresting I didn’t even finish, like Baka to Test and Girls Bravo.
Sekirei, the anime that really captured my attention.
But the one that Iwas struck by the most was Sekirei. I know this sounds like a weird show to get hooked on anime through, but it really was a show that I think showcases a lot of the best things about anime: It’s fun, it’s somewhat silly, it’s somewhat serious, it’s got a plot, it’s got interesting characters, and – being honest – it’s got boobs (and while they’re pretty gratuitous, they’re also used in a fun way). It also has fun opening and ending songs sung by the seiyuu of the show, and even though the rest of the show was dubbed, the OP and ED were not, and they made the good decision to karaoke the songs, alternating episodes between a translation and a romaji transliteration. It was really Sekirei, and the fact that it only had the first series on Netflix when I wanted to see more of the show, and more about the songs from the show, and more about the story behind the show, that led me to the internet and finding more things about it, like that there was a second series that was available on YouTube but only subbed. And what that led me to realize is that the voice work in the Japanese versions, no matter how well the dub artists do, is more immediate and more interesting, and just suits the show better. And that’s even having to read the subtitles. The class of voice actor that performs for the shows originally is just so good, it’s hard for the dub artists to match that (and luckily for me, Sekirei really fit the bill here: Hayami Saori, Inoue Marina, Endou Aya, Hanazawa Kana, Yukana, among others). This led to finding more of the stuff about the internet that really enables anime fans to be really in tune with anime.
FANSUB ARCHIVES AND BACKLOG
Some of the early shows I liked
One of the early sites I found out about was MyAnimeList, and I found it to be a generally helpful site. The recommendations, while they can go off the rails sometimes (with some really bad reasons given for why shows are related), but in general they help find a lot of new shows, based on the shows you liked. Of course, for me, liking Sekirei to start off with, I ended up with a lot of harem and ecchi shows: Sora no Otoshimono, Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, Infinite Stratos, Kampfer, Shuffle!, Nyan Koi, Mayoi Neko Overrun. I also started to get some recommendations from other people I knew, who also helped point me to fansub groups: Freezing, Bakemonogatari. So from November to March, I pretty much watched a lot of older series, and even starting with such ‘similar’ titles, you can’t help but branch out into other categories. So I started seeing things like Azumangah Daioh, Toradora, Sora no Woto, Suzumiya Haruhi, K-On!, Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga nai, Amagami SS… Basically, tons of shows that lots of people have seen, and lots of people like. And of course, some of these shows are more recent, so the easiest way to get them was through the fansub sites that released them. And seeing fansub sites started showing me the current series that were being released, and you know what? Some of those shows looked interesting!
WATCHING CURRENT ANIME SERIES AND FINDING ANIBLOGS
So late in the Winter 2012 season, I started watching a couple current series. Some of them were shows I had watched related shows like Amagami SS+, Nisemonogatari. Others were ones that just appealed to me, like HighSchool DxD. Maybe most people wouldn’t admit those were the first current shows they got into, but no use being ashamed of them. But as the Winter season was ending, more and more shows were coming out that seemed interesting, and more and more of the sites I was looking at were talking about new shows. I ended up watching 8 current shows from the beginning of the season: Accel World, Acchi Kocchi, Haiyore! Nyarlko-san, Natsuiro Kiseki, Sankarea, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Kore wa Zombie S2, and one that has become one of my favorite shows: Nazo no Kanojo X.
Tsubaki and Urabe, a magical couple
It was this last show, with its nearly magical relationship between the two interesting main characters and its tremendous style and cinematography, that finally led me to search for some *serious* discussion about the show. MAL has message boards, and they are what they are, but a lot of what they are is “OMG DAT ASS” and “MOAR BOOBS”. And while AnimeSuki might have some good discussion of some shows, it has so much traffic that I find it hard to find worthwhile discussion, especially on shows that haven’t been granted a subforum. So fairly late in the season, I was searching for something more, and somehow happened upon a great site that was discussing Urabe, Tsubaki, and their Mysterious relationship: Metanorn. I’m sure most of you have been there, if you’re not regular readers, but finding it was about perfect for me. Multiple writers adding up to covering a good swath of shows, and the right amount of comments – enough to make for good discussion, but not so many that you can’t keep up with all of them. And even though it took me a couple weeks to get up the courage to make a comment, I finally did at the end of May, as we neared the end of the Spring season (and promptly got comments held by the spam filter, a running gag for me over there) . I found myself more and more interested in the comments of other viewers, and back and forth discussion with the post writers. So I started being a very frequent commenter, and in the time period between basically the very end of May and today (the last day of 2012), I’ve made over 950 comments (sorry, skylion, I passed you today 😉 ).
It was also throughout this same time period that the Aniblog Tourney was going on. I didn’t know at the beginning, but the site I’d stumbled on ended up being a big favorite, and did eventually win the tourney, although there were some controversies along the way. But perhaps I can give a vindication of the tourney, because it did help expose me to other good anime blogs. Some I liked, some I didn’t. Some I still read, most I don’t. Some I visit occasionally for different reasons. I probably would have found a lot of them without the tourney, but it still helped for exposure.
I know I write a lot, so that’s where I’ll end Part 1. In Part 2 (of just 2, this won’t go on THAT long) I’ll talk about how being more involved in aniblogs and eventually becoming an aniblogger myself has affected the way I watch anime. Thanks for reading, and feel free to recount any of your experiences finding anime in the comments!