Keeping up with seasonal anime can seem like a full-time job, and driven by ever-pervasive social media hype, many anime fans feel a constant pressure to keep up with all of the new shiny shows. Once one season is done, another season, equally as shiny and enticing, arrives to replace it. The Fall 2022 anime season comprises 44 new TV shows, 18 new ONA/OVAs, and 11 movies. No one with a life has time to watch all of that, let alone consider watching older anime.
If you gazed back in time, say… 10 years, to see what the anime hype shows were then, would you make time to watch them now? In the modern age of streaming ephemerality, would you even be able to? Earlier in 2022, we looked back at the anime you should have been watching in Winter 2012. Now let’s turn our attention to the anime of Fall 2012.
The Eternal Shonen Abyss of Despair: Filler Report
Regarding the mainstream shonen genre, there are a couple of interesting parallels between 2012 and 2022, most prominently with Bleach. The original Bleach anime aired its final season back in Winter 2012, but the manga continued for a further twenty volumes past the conclusion of its animated adaptation. Now, over ten years later, Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War has returned for a 52-episode bonanza (on Hulu/Disney+, of all places) to adapt the manga’s final arc.
These may not all necessarily broadcast weekly in a single year-long block, like the shonen anime of yore. Over the past ten years, anime production has changed — Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War will be split-cour, with 13 episodes per season interspersed with season-long gaps. Conversely, Fall 2012 was the first fall season in nine years without a showing from the perpetually-running original Bleach.
One Piece (episodes 567–578) finally finished its lengthy Fishman Island Arc, and its 15th season’s final four episodes’ mini-arc Z’s ambition was a non-canon prequel to the movie One Piece Film Z, which itself was dubbed and eventually released in English in 2014. In 2022, Crunchyroll continues to slowly chug ahead with its English dub of the TV show, with… the recently completed Fishman Island arc! Hey, we’re only ten years behind, we’re practically catching up! (Subbed One Piece episodes stream internationally on Crunchyroll, the English dub seems to be exclusive to the U.S.)
Naruto Shippūden‘s 13th season (episodes 282–295) was entirely filler except for two episodes. Naruto was particularly notorious for its lengthy filler arcs, after all. With its sequel series Boruto now at over 270 episodes, so far its filler count has been apparently much less egregious.
Fairy Tail‘s 6th season (episodes 151–162) was surprisingly bereft of filler, while Gintama’s 6th season (episodes 253–256) limped ahead with only four fully canon episodes in Fall 2012 (but no filler… just… a void…), before completing the rest of its short run in Winter 2013 and taking a break until a belated return in Spring 2015. The Hunter x Hunter reboot completed its Phantom Troupe arc, and began its Greed Island arc (episodes 50–60). Of course, the perennial Detective Conan was ever-present and correct with its 21st season (episodes 671–680). (All of the above stream on Crunchyroll.)
The new non-endless-shonen anime of Fall 2012
Although both Spring and Summer 2012 boasted heavy hitters like Fate/Zero Season 2, Kids on the Slope, Hyou-ka, and one of my personal favorites: Humanity Has Declined (with an indescribably disturbing scene about bread that has to be seen to be believed), Fall 2012 contained the highest concentration of interesting anime worth discussion.
Hot from scarring the psyches of anime fans the world over with 2011’s Puella Magi Madoka Magica, writer Gen Urobuchi returned to inflict further existential pain with the first season of Production I.G‘s Psycho-Pass, a sci-fi police procedural containing liberal dashes of Philip K. Dick‘s Minority Report. It’s an unsettling show that explores the tensions between justice and personal freedom in a future Japan where society is tightly controlled by a system that identifies and incarcerates potential criminals before crimes are committed.
Psycho-Pass continued with a further two seasons and five movies over the following decade, though mostly without Urobuchi’s involvement. A stunningly intelligent, thoughtful, and prescient show that holds up exceptionally well today, it dips in quality during the shorter second season, before a triumphant return to form in later installments. Central duo Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami are iconic, relatable characters who grow and change convincingly through a story that continually tortures and challenges them. With a further movie (Psycho-Pass: Providence) slated for release soon, now’s a great time to catch up on one of the best serious SF anime of the last decade. (Stream the first season of Psycho-Pass on Crunchyroll.)
Although portions of it had been animated before, david production produced the definitive adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The first season begins with the 9-episode Part One : Phantom Blood, a delightfully chunky, comically manly adventure set in Victorian England. Multiple further seasons followed, including the most recent adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part Six : Stone Ocean, concluding its run on Netflix in December 2022.
Much like the original manga, Jojo‘s anime version takes a while to hit its stride, yet much of the creative weirdness is already present in this early story. Here, we witness the birth of a thousand memes with the introduction of truly hissable villain Dio Brando, an immortal vampire who will go on to torment several generations of the Joestar family. The strangely innocent Part One is still a great place to embark on your own bizarre adventure through Jojo’s many varied seasons. (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part One streams on both Crunchyroll and Netflix.)
Another fairly long-running anime franchise debuting in Fall 2012, but almost forgotten today, is Studio GoHands‘ K Project. Yes, before GoHands made our eyeballs bleed and our vestibular apparatus squirm with the execrable Hand Shakers, the studio made a noble stab at an anime-original action spectacle with the first season of K. Never content to portray a simple scene without extreme color gradients, unnatural palette abuse, and post-processing Vaseline smears, K looks like almost no anime made since, and it’s probably a good thing that it didn’t kickstart a new era of migraine-inducing animated art.
Beneath the bizarre abuse of color, K’s character designs are beautiful — from the preponderance of tall, wiry bishonen men to the exaggerated curves of its small cast of voluptuous women, it caters to the whole gamut of otaku interests. Long-haired pretty boys gazing soulfully into one another’s eyes? Check! Naked cat-girls? Check! Huge-eyed 11-year-old little moe girls in gothic lolita outfits? Uh… check…
If anything, K has too many characters and a very thin, if unnaturally convoluted story that refuses to properly explain anything about its underlying premise or its stakes. Its first few episodes are an exercise in narrative incomprehensibility that tries the viewer’s patience. Thankfully, it all comes together for an emotionally charged conclusion that leaves it wide open for the sequel movie, a second season, further six(!) movies, and a short spin-off. It’s just a shame that to fully understand the story, you need to read the multitudes of (untranslated) tie-in light novels and manga. (K streams on Crunchyroll in the US, but is unavailable to stream in the UK. It’s available on Blu-ray from Viz/Anime Limited.)
Another unjustly forgotten show is the 25-episode From the New World from A-1 Pictures, a very dark, challenging anime adapted from the novel of the same name by Yūsuke Kishi. I only got around to watching this recently, yet it’s already solidified its place as one of my favorites. A masterclass of slowly building dread, this is more than a violent horror — it’s a deeply cynical deconstruction of human society and the sacrifices we make to feel “safe.”
Set 1,000 years in the future following a worldwide apocalypse after which the vast majority of humanity perished, Japan is greatly depopulated, with remote pockets of human villages separated by wilderness. Life in the villages is tightly controlled, and we follow Saki as she grows from the age of 12 to young adulthood. It’s very clear from the outset that something is deeply wrong with Saki’s village, but the show keeps its cards very close to its chest, dropping many obscure hints, but keeping the true, horrific reveals until much later.
This does mean that it’s a slow-moving and opaque show at times, but the exceptionally detailed world-building and fascinating society with its bizarre rules are worth persisting with. Split into three distinct sections, the story first focuses on Saki as a child, then as an adolescent, and finally as an adult. Past decisions return to haunt her, and she suffers grave losses as she ultimately fights for the right to keep living. I’m hesitant to spoil this very special, very unsettling anime any further. Go watch it. (From the New World streams on Crunchyroll.)
From the intensely traumatic to the light-hearted and fantastical — Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! from beloved studio Kyoto Animation still holds up as a very funny high school comedy, with some surprisingly flashy animation sequences for the frequent fantastical interludes that interrupt the more mundane slice-of-life substrate of the show. With her (medically unnecessary) eyepatch, frilly parasol, and gothic dress sense, Rikka Takanashi is an instantly recognizable character and the main “chunibyo” of the title. The comedy revolves around the “chunibyo” concept, sometimes translated as “eighth grader syndrome,” that time in a young adolescent’s life when they may pretend to have secret powers or forbidden knowledge, and generally act in a socially awkward way that becomes acutely embarrassing for their older self to recollect.
Your mileage with the show may vary as to how much you can empathize with the somewhat emotionally damaged Rikka and tolerate her more ridiculous behavior. I don’t think the “chunibyo” experience is localized only to Japan — I’m pretty sure I acted similarly insufferably as a young adolescent, hence my appreciation for being lovingly skewered by the show’s pointed humor. The series was successful enough to spawn a second season (Heart Throb) plus two movies (Rikka Version , which is mostly a recap of season one, and Take On Me , the conclusion). (Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! streams on HIDIVE in the US and on Funimation NOW in the UK.)
Remaining with lighter-hearted shows, Fall 2012 also saw the debut of cute-girls-doing-cute-things-with-tanks in Girls und Panzer, an absurd show with an absurd premise that nonetheless plays itself very straight (and endearingly sincere). Seemingly set in some alternate world where sensha-do (a martial art involving tank operation, translated as “tankery”) is a common pastime pursued by high school-aged girls, we follow the plucky Miho Nishizumi, who transfers to the only school without a tankery club with the expressed desire to avoid tankery altogether. Unfortunately, her new school’s student council has other ideas, hoping to capitalize on her family’s experience to build their own successful tankery club. Oh, and also if they don’t win the next Tankery Championship, the school will be closed.
So follows one of the most ridiculous school club drama/comedy shows I have ever experienced. These little girls gaily drive massive mechanical monstrosities around the countryside, blithely shelling one another’s death machines with heavy ordinance, yet no one ever gets injured. They all take it so seriously, as only teenagers wrapped up in shared hobbies can get. It seems unlikely that actual, real war games would ever get school liability insurance coverage, plus there’s the significant environmental destruction caused by their enormous treads and even more humongous explosions. Ah — but of course they don’t care about environmental damage, because for reasons they all live in a city atop an aircraft carrier, floating in the sea. Of course.
Anyway, although it only had one TV season, Girls und Panzer received multiple follow-ups in the form of nine OVAs, a sequel movie, and an ongoing series of six finale movies, of which three have so far been produced. If you like cute girls, dodgy CGI, and nonsensical world-building, go knock yourself out with these tanks. (Girls und Panzer streams on HIDIVE.)
Other notable shows from Fall 2012 that I don’t have room to talk about in detail include the maligned Muv Luv Alternative spin-off Total Eclipse. I’ve not watched it, apparently it’s terrible, but if you enjoy the currently streaming Muv Luv Alternative Season 2 (that’s an actual adaptation of the visual novel), then you could torture yourself with this.
Robotics;Notes was another poorly received visual novel adaptation; apparently the game (part of the Science Adventure series along with Steins;Gate and Chaos;HEAd) is much better. Finally, for fans of Jun Maeda and Key, the first season of their anime adaptation of visual novel Little Busters! also started in Fall 2012. Most of Key‘s works comprise a big gap in my anime knowledge, but may remain that way as I’ve never forgiven Maeda for whatever the hell that ending of The Day I Became a God was.
The lengthy Monogatari series finally ended its “first season” (that started in 2009) with its final arc, Nekomonogatari (Black) (Cat Tale Black). It’s the second arc to focus on fan-favourite bespectacled and prodigiously well-endowed female character Tsubasa Hanekawa and her under-dressed cat-girl alter ego. Meow. I love this show, and have written about it at length elsewhere on the site. (Nekomonogatari (Black) streams on Crunchyroll in the U.S., but is unavailable to stream anywhere in the UK. It’s available on very expensive Blu-ray from Aniplex USA, but the MVM UK blu-ray is out of print.)
The critically acclaimed drama Space Brothers premiered in April 2012, and continued an unbroken run of 99 episodes until March 2014. Episodes 27–38 aired during Fall 2012. It’s something I’ve always meant to watch, but the large episode count puts me off. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this drama about two brothers with ambitions to become astronauts. It’s based on a 2007 manga that’s still running to this day. The anime adaptation covers up to chapter 187, but as of writing, the manga recently exceeded 390 chapters… (Space Brothers streams on Crunchyroll)
I may be cheating a little with this last one. EUREKA SEVEN AO also started its 24-episode run in April 2012, but due to scheduling problems its two final episodes were delayed until November. It’s a completely unnecessary sequel to 2005’s fantastic Eureka Seven, a show that studio Bones just cannot leave alone. Following a (hacked-together-from-TV-episodes-with-random-extra-footage-plus-bits-of-string-and-buttons) 2009 movie with an alternative-universe plot line that only tangentially connects to the original story, EUREKA SEVEN AO follows the story of Ao, the abandoned child of the original story’s co-protagonists.
It wastes no time in crapping all over the hard-won happy ending of the progenitor show, doubling down on multiverse nonsense that invalidates its own drama, and ends with a cop-out conclusion of its own. A very pretty series completely ruined by terrible storytelling choices and barely explained plot twists, it didn’t even receive a proper ending until 2017 with the release of the “final” 25th episode (in five short parts, only in Japan), released in conjunction with a pachislot game (of course). That Bones then proceeded to produce the further utterly incomprehensible Eureka Seven: Hi – Evolution movie trilogy, again (badly) utilizing multiverse tropes, goes to show that completed stories should be left alone. Every subsequent Eureka Seven release has made the franchise worse. (EUREKA SEVEN AO streams on Funimation NOW.)
We can’t finish talking about the anime of Fall 2012 without at least mentioning the biggest anime movie of the year — Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, released on November 17th. In the West we didn’t get it (legally) on home media, courtesy of Funimation, until February 2016, an almost two-year delay from the original planned release date. Talk about an agonizing wait. Evangelion has always been controversial, but director Hideaki Anno‘s third Rebuild of Evangelion film certainly launched the cat amongst the pigeons. Whereas the first Rebuild more or less re-adapted the first six episodes of the original Evangelion TV show but with prettier animation, the second veered off into unexpected territory in its latter half, laying the groundwork for either a work of mad genius, or an incomprehensible disappointment (depending on your opinion).
Evangelion 3.0 successfully rips up any viewer preconceptions about what Evangelion could be, with a time jump into a future completely different to that depicted in the original show. Characters’ motivations and factional allegiances have changed, and poor Shinji is even more lost than he was before, in a world broken (apparently) by his poor choices. His relationship with mysterious pale boy Kaworu gets far more screen time here than it ever did in his single TV episode appearance. Fan reception was mixed, but it was only with the release of 2021’s also greatly delayed Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time that the previous movie’s narrative choices were vindicated. Truly, the third and fourth Rebuild films deserve to be watched closely together and regarded as a more singular entity. Anno, the mad bastard, finally succeeded in giving the Evangelion franchise a fantastic, fulfilling, and thematically satisfying conclusion with 3.0+1.0 — but it all started here, with the narrative bravery of 3.0.
Thanks for sticking with me as I excavated golden nuggets (and some fossilized crap) from the distant past of Fall 2012. Of course, there are dozens of shows that I missed, but these are those I deemed most interesting. A large majority are still reasonably easy to access in late 2022, as long as you’re in the US, at least… Feel free to supply your own nostalgic Fall 2012 suggestions in the comments!
Kevin Cormack is a Scottish medical doctor, husband, father, and lifelong anime obsessive. He writes as Doctorkev on https://medium.com/anitay-official and appears regularly on The Official AniTAY podcast. You can also find him on Twitter @Herrdoktorkev. His accent is real.