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This year has a steady flow of great releases to hit the UK shelves with the gap between the Japanese air dates gradually reducing, with some titles barely having time to cool down after debuting on Japanese TV before making their way into DVD and Blu-ray players here in Blighty. The range of genres has never been greater with entries covering shonen action shows to slice of life dramas to cutesy comedies to surreal anarchy to horror to magical girls with a dark twist along with the long awaited DVD debut of a perennial classic. To say UK fans were spoiled for choice is an understatement, making the task of whittling the number of great titles down to just ten a somewhat arduous task.

Anyway here are MIB’s Top Ten anime releases of 2012 (excluding re-releases and box set compilations) and as ever feel free to agree or disagree as is your wont:

10. Fairy Tail

fairy1With Naruto and Bleach beginning to lose a little steam it was time for some fresh blood in the epic shonen adventure series to give the genre a boost. Step up Fairy Tail and its manic, action packed adventures of fire breathing Natsu Dragneel and the rambunctious wizards of the titular guild. Magic, comedy and battles in abundance, Fairy Tail delivers the kind of high octane hijinks to become a firm fan favourite for the future.

Read the full review HERE

9. Blue Exorcist

BlueExEver had one of those days where everything goes wrong for you then, to top it all off, you discover you are the son of Satan? If so your name is Rin Okumura and you are the star of Blue Exorcist, the supernatural show which arrived in the late summer. Mixing up some familiar shonen elements with a rather intriguing premise, we follow the journey of Rin as he vows to destroy Satan while proving his worth to those around him. Magic, mirth and mayhem there is plenty to keep one happy in this series.

Read the full review HERE

8. Spice And Wolf

spice2Who would have thought that economics could be entertaining? Perhaps if our teachers at school thought about basing their lessons in a pseudo medieval land with a cute female wolf god as a main protagonist we may have paid more attention in class. Instead we had to wait until Holo and travelling vendor Kraft Lawrence arrived with Spice & Wolf, a delightfully charming and surprisingly interesting show about the trade industry. Just don’t try pulling any dodgy deals with Holo, you may get more than you bargained for…

Read the full review HERE

7. Clannad/After Story

ClannadThe moe character designs and soft, sakura heavy pastel coloured veneer that make up Clannad and its sequel After Story belie the darker tone and often supernatural take on the slice of life drama genre. This tale of friends, family, growing up and surviving life’s hardships from school days to adulthood makes the viewer laugh, cry and fell warm and fuzzy inside in equal measures. The pleasant surprise of the year.

Read the full review HERE

6. Angel Beats

angelA high school show with a difference as the students are in fact attending class in Purgatory. Angel Beats mixes existential philosophy with sci-fi action, quirky comedy and a rocking soundtrack as a group of kids taken before their time are given one last chance at closure before being sent onto a better place in the after life, while a renegade group do battle with God. Never a dull moment in this schoolyard!

Read the full review HERE

5. Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt

pantstockWhich such a provocative title it should come as no surprise that this shamelessly crude show about two Angels expelled from heaven and sent to Earth to destroy ghosts defies definition. The artwork and manic animation style is straight of 90’s cult US shows such as Ren & Stimpy while the attitude is uniquely Japanese. Despite its vulgarity, prurience, randomness and blasphemy it is an astoundingly surreal and perversely hysterical assault on the senses that needs to be seen to be believed.

Read the full review HERE

4. Shiki

ShikiWhen the number of deaths from anaemia in a small rural village begins to inexplicably increase, resident doctor Toshio Ozaki puts it down to an epidemic. At the same time an odd new family moves into town and only appear at night. Shiki is the latest vampire tale to hail from Japan but don’t be put off – this slow burning show is creepy as hell, with its masterful building of suspense leading to a gory finale. Gruesomely great!

Read the full review HERE

3. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

magicaWhen is a magical girl show not a magical girl show? When it’s Madoka Magica! All the elements for your standard cute girls with magical powers show are present but then the rug gets well and truly pulled from under your feet and turns the entire genre upside down and inside out. A stunning subversion and deconstruction of a hackneyed genre, this series takes the viewer to places they never knew existed in anime. A future classic? Only time will tell. 

Read the full review HERE

2. Welcome To The N.H.K

NHKAfter a long wait and few false starts this inventive but darkly satirical tale about troubled hikikomori Tatsuhiro Sato’s futile attempts to reconnect with the outside world finally made its UK debut this year. Subversive, bleak but often funny, we follow Sato on his journey with the help of equally bonkers Misaki Nakahara and fellow nerd Kaoru Yamazaki, with whom he creates an adult PC game. Modern society vs modern otaku – game on!

Read the full review HERE

No 1. PRINCESS JELLYFISH

Jellyfish

For my money, the quirkiest, funniest, most charming and endearing show of the year was this adorable tale of a group of female otaku who face eviction from corporate developers with their only salvation appearing in the form of a transvestite! Where it lacks the satirical bite and bleak outlook of Welcome To The N.H.K, Princess Jellyfish more than makes up for it with its colourful cast, sweet storyline and subversive humour. It’s an outrageous show that doesn’t go over the top thanks to its heart, making this irresistible romp the easy choice for my top pick of the year!

Read the full review HERE

So, there we have it. As we know opinions are like backsides – we all have one – and I’m sure that my favourites of the year will differ from yours, or at least the ranking of them no doubt will.

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is the Man In Black saying Sayonara!