The Best of This Year: Anime
In the year 2012, I have seen a handful of series and several full-length anime movies. With that in mind, I’ll name the best anime series and the best anime movie I have seen this year.
The best series I have seen this year, hands-down, goes to Baccano!
Baccano! eschewed the norm of anime storytelling by telling three stories on three separate timelines. It was about as nonlinear as nonlinear storytelling gets. The first episode showed the ending while the rest of the series was dedicated to showing what led up to it. The series seemed very confusing at first, but it eventually made for a very rewarding viewing experience as story elements fell into place. Add the snazzy animation and jazz musical score, and you have a real winner.
As far as movies, despite having seen several Miyazaki movies this year, I will commit sacrilege and say the best movie I saw was in fact not a Miyazaki film, but Kon Satoshi’s Millennium Actress.
Millennium Actress was loosely based on the life of real-life actress Hara Setsuko, known for her work with Ozu Yasujiro in films like The End of Summer. The movie meshed the real life of protagonist Chiyoko with characters she played to create this really surreal showing of her life story as she pursued the man with the key. It was quite frankly one of the most beautiful movies I had ever seen, animated or otherwise. It’s rare that I see a tearjerker that succeeded in jerking tears for me, and Millennium Actress was one of them. It was only unfortunate that it came out the same year as Spirited Away, and thus was largely ignored by American audiences; there wasn’t even an English dub made and the movie was released in America on a pretty sub-par DVD. I will say between Spirited Away and Millennium Actress, Millennium Actress is the one I have an easier time recommending that you see.