Top Picks – The 5 Biggest Anime Disappointments of 2012

The year of 2012 was full of some great surprises for anime. We’ve had another year of some great quality stories and high quality animation. However, with great surprises come great disappointments. Expectations aren’t met, things don’t go as planned, or unfortunate events transpire. The Mahou Tofu staff has put together a list of what they think are the 5 biggest anime disappointments of the year, with input by me (Daniel.) Prepare to facepalm.

#5. Shakugan no Shana III’s Abysmal Conclusion

Shakugan no Shana had its fans, myself included. It wasn’t the same caliber of animation that KyoAni or Shaft are, but it had some neat fight scenes and virtually cemented Rie Kugimiya as the “Queen of Tsunderes”. After all of the crazy developments during the first two seasons, I was really pumped to watch all the plot threads neatly tied up, especially after the cliffhanger in the finale of the second season. What is Bal Masque up to? Does Yuji have a chance at living a normal life? And will Shana’s love for Yuji ever be requited?

Amazingly, the show manages to ruin what could have been a chance to really make this series great. Right from the beginning, the audience is forced to accept the fact that Yuji is now the main villain and is the leader of Bal Masque. Explanations are few and far in between, and the few that we do get don’t help as much. Character development also suffers as a result, with developments from previous seasons practically thrown out the window. The overcomplicated plot is dampened by the fact that there are simply too many new characters being introduced throughout the season, and makes it difficult to grow attached to any one character. As for the romantic element, something everyone was looking forward to, the audience is left scratching their heads at Yuji’s motivations for suddenly trying to take over the world. Twenty episodes in, I realized that no matter how much explaining they have to do in the final four episodes, there is no denying that the plot and ultimately the romance between its two main protagonists have ultimately failed.

Rankings: Bryan – 3, Will – 4, Daniel – 5

4. Mawaru Penguindrum’s English Dub

English dubs. You either love them or hate them. As just about any fan will tell you, watching any anime in its original language not only sounds better, but just makes sense. The Japanese language is full of puns and sayings that won’t always translate well into English, making the transition even more difficult. It doesn’t help that a lot of English dub actors either tend to over-act or are miscast. Not every English dub is bad of course, with famous examples such as Fullmetal Alchemist and movies such as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

That said, Penguindrum has an awful, awful dub. A lot of the blame has been put on the ADR Director Steven Foster, who is well known for producing sub-par localization efforts and questionable script edits. Some of the characters sounded severely miscast, such as Himari (played by Monica Rial, who sounds too high pitched and squeaky). Other times, the dubs don’t even sync correctly to the lip movements, as if Mr. Foster didn’t care whether or not the lines fit or not. More importantly, the complexity of Penguin Drum’s plot is watered down thanks to the alterations to the script. It’s disappointing, considering how the series has a fine line between drama and comedy, and the plot has some serious philosophical undertones.

Rankings: Bryan – 4, Will – 3, Daniel – 4

3. Bandai Entertainment USA Halts Distribution of New Properties

Bandai Entertainment announced way back at the beginning of 2012 that it would halt the distribution of any new home video and manga releases in North America. The downsizing included the closing of their own online store back in December of 2011. As a result, new manga releases such as Gurren Lagann, Code Geass, and Kannagi, and upcoming anime releases such as Gosick and Turn a Gundam, have been cancelled. As of December 2012, all home video, manga, and novel sales by Bandai have been discontinued.

Bandai is known for licensing series such as Code Geass, Gundam, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, some of our personal favorite shows. With Bandai no longer releasing any new properties in North America, the question remains about what will happen to some of Bandai’s most popular properties, particularly Gundam and Code Geass. Bandai has stated that they will continue to produce and distribute existing properties, but has decided to restructure itself and focus on licensing properties to other companies through digital distribution, broadcasting, and merchandising. All in all, it’s pretty disappointing, considering that we have some Code Geass and Haruhi fans here.

Rankings: Bryan – 5, Will – 1, Daniel – 3

2. Kuroko no Basket Mangaka Threatened

Some people take basketball way too seriously. Since October, death threats have been sent to over 50 locations related to Kuroko no Basket mangaka Fujimaki Tadatoshi, apparently regarding his manga about a high school basketball team. A few of the threats had contained an unknown liquid substance, possibly hydrogen sulfide, and were sent to various locations such as Sophia University, where it was discovered by a student. Police investigations have been trying to track down the culprit, under the assumption that the sender is a lone individual with a grudge against Tadatoshi. The anonymous individual has been trying to halt production of Kuroko no Basket for unknown reasons.

Things came to a head when several dojinshi events related to Kuroko no Basket were cancelled, due to security concerns. Even more drastic was the closing of over 900 dojinshi fan circles at Comiket 83, the world’s biggest dojinshi event that is held in Japan each year. The organizers of the event had decided to bar all Kuroko no Basket circles from participating over safety concerns. Photos during the weekend Comiket was held show rows of empty tables where the Kuroko no Basket circles would have been, and reports indicate that the event will lost about 10 million yen because of the incident. What started as harsh criticism over a manga has now turned into a distressing situation that has been affecting fans and event organizers alike.

Rankings: Bryan – 1, Will – 5, Daniel – 2

1. Kokoro Connect Controversy

This was plain odd and cruel. Over the summer, rookie actor Mitsuhiro Ichiki was called in to audition for an original character in the anime Kokoro Connect. He later received word of winning the part and was invited to an Kokoro Connect event, where he was to be introduced as part of the cast. Or so he assumed. Unfortunately, he found out that the role and audition were all part of a prank, and a hidden camera video of his audition was presented, complete with mocking commentary. He was then made “Publicity Leader” as compensation and essentially turned into a PR guy.

The humiliating event was witnessed by all those in attendance, as well as the thousands that were watching the livestream. Fan reaction was swift and harsh, with blogs and Twitter exploding over the incident, with many siding with the rookie VA. Several cast members, including Takuma Terashima, Hisako Kanemoto, and Takahiro Mizushima were linked to the prank, and a harsh wave of criticism spread online. Many even called on a boycott on Kokoro Connect. The incident lead to PR campaigns being cancelled, the entire staff apologizing, and the conclusion of the series being delayed. However innocently the prank may have started out to be, the humiliation and criticism of this incident has left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouths.

Rankings: Bryan – 2, Will – 2, Daniel – 1

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