This is a really tough one for me. There have been a lot of good shows this year, and a number of supposedly great shows. To exacerbate the problem, I failed to watch a lot of them. My views on the subject, then, may have a non-information bias.
That said, in my opinion the best anime of 2012 is unquestionably Girls Und Panzer. Driven (’cause they’re in tanks, get it?), exciting, engaging if only by virtue of the fact you somehow like it, and wholly understandable, this series stands above all others. Unfortunately, the last two episodes will not be airing until March, so some would say it doesn’t qualify for the best of 2012 award. While I don’t necessarily agree, it would be boring to use the same series I did yesterday again, so if only for that I will omit it here. Instead, read on to see what I consider the best anime that is “truly” from 2012. . .
My original three contenders for the title were Hyouka, Chihayafuru, and Kamisama Hajimemashita. Kamisama I cut from the list, as it had just ended and hadn’t gotten as much time to sink in as the other two. Chihayafuru was one of the better sports series out there, and shined in its synthesis of character stories/drama, sports, and aesthetics. Hyouka, on the other hand, stood out for its engaging visuals and human characters that managed to make the otherwise mundane mysteries come to life.
In the end, Hyouka won over Chihayafuru. While both had less than stellar beginnings, Chihayafuru’s contained what was, I thought, an off-putting, inelegant, and far too lengthy time skip, whereas Hyouka’s was more in-line with the rest of the series.
So, Hyouka. It’s not the most perfect series to have ever aired, certainly. It did have problems; the mysteries often dominated the more interesting stories, certain stories were left a little too open, and if you don’t care for personality discussion than a lot of the characters’ arcs will likely be a bore. In spite of these issues, the show managed to become something exceptional. It tapped into the simplicity of everyday life (and simplicity is rarely, if ever, a bad thing in fictional stories) and brought mystique and energy to it. The characters felt like people, albeit eccentric ones, and they grew and changed like people, too. Everything felt “real” in a way that made it relatable. It’s for these reasons that Hyouka takes the crown of “best anime (truly) of 2012.”