With this year we started getting more Blu-ray releases out of Sentai Filmworks and some interesting projects that came up. There were a few more explorations of the past, such as picking up Someday’s Dreamers and getting its sequel, but we also had some of the latest and greatest such as the very popular World God Only Knows. There were still a few DVD-only releases that never got the right treatment and seeing titles like Mayo Chiki here has us ready to pull that out for a new viewing.
What were your biggest Sentai releases of 2012?
The World God Only Knows – While the show had some diminishing returns as it went on, the opening season of this series was just excellent. Playing to the gamer type who is a master of the gal games, we watch as Keima gets caught up in dealing with demons and angels that are trying to capture lost souls and end up needing his help as they’re stuck in high school girls. It’s simple but it provided for a great way to connect with a lot of characters and their drama with challenges for Keima to overcome. With a fun dub and a really great sense of style and silliness with the main characters involved – and all the gal game bits – it’s a real treat.
Broken Blade – Originally done as six fifty-minute films that also saw broadcast as a thirteen-episode series, this is a really solid mecha-fantasy style piece that gets to use its structure well. While it does break out as a TV series with a little work, the hourlong nature of it gives it more room to breathe and build out to what it wants to be. This felt like an interesting throwback in a lot of ways to some of the OVA series and it has some really great sense of mecha design to keep you drawn in.
Grave of the Fireflies – Every time this film is released I end up watching it again, going back to the VHS days. It’s one of those critical must-see films and while I know a lot of people can’t rewatch it, I find myself picking up more nuance each time and really absorbing the lessons from it from different perspectives. With some really good extras and a high definition release, this is a key film for any library.
Someday’s Dreamers – A license rescue that also saw its sequel finally picked up, this series delivered a great look at the idea of what it would be like if magic were real and there was a bureau that handled it and other issues related to it. Everyday magic isn’t an uncommon subgrenre to see but it’s done with a focus more on the slice of life than anything else and it charms you well by bringing you into the lives of some interesting people and the situations. While I lament that it and its sequel were DVD-only releases, and hope for an upgrade someday, what we get here is appealing regardless of format.
K-On Season 2 – With the popularity of the first season, the second season got underway with the kids getting a little older, a little better at their instruments, and a little more amusing. The show is one that definitely carried forward the energy with the characters and the music and with as big a fanbase as this show had at the time, it was easily one of the most anticipated titles of the year.
Mayo Chiki – Fanservice comedies can be hit or miss at best but when they hit the right way you end up grinning hard through it. This series, another one that has never seen a Blu-ray release, gives us a young man that can’t touch women otherwise his nose bleeds. When he finds himself in a position of protecting one as she’s hiding out by being a guy and working as a butler, the hijinks are all over the place with a lot of close situations that have them almost being discovered a lot. It’s a good quick-paced show with a really good look to it as it adapted the light novels that helped it feel really well-realized.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices – It’s rare when a Makoto Shinkai title won’t make a list but this one does. The film isn’t one of his most popular ones but with it clocking in at just under two hours it deals with growing up in some interesting ways. With ancient tales, death, and a good bit of heartache mixed in with some adventurous material, the film is one that is definitely worth revisiting as I think it’s one that people will get more from the more distance from its original release there is and their preconceptions of it.
Psychic Squad – Getting a four-cour DVD release over the year, this series worked some really fun stories about difficult girls with psychic abilities and everything that must be done to keep them from getting into real trouble. It’s a series that’s largely focused on standalone psychic comedy with the core girls and their quirks but it’s really just the first stage of a larger property that does see the kids growing up – the manga itself is at almost sixty volumes and we later got an adult-level spinoff that used them for a little bit but was focused on one of the organizations and characters that they had spent a lot of time trying to take down. It’s a big property that should be so much more.
Ninja Scroll – One of the defining films of the early anime days, a new release during this year brought it back out and drew a lot of attention from lapsed fans who surfaced to acquire it anew. While it’s not one of my favorite films of all time, it has a lot to like with the action, the supernatural elements, and just the scope and scale of it all. It’s earned its place in anime history and should be something that’s always in print for new fans to discover what drew so many people to anime for years.
Qwaser of Stigmata – Mixing religion with near-hentai material isn’t always an easy thing but they managed to pull it off here. With various factions vying for power, it’s one young man who can utilize the special bodily fluid that the women produce in order to wield great power. It’s ultimately a very silly series but it’s also one that excels at its fanservice and works some really great action sequences as well. The combination of all of these things aren’t for everyone but for a select audience it’s just an amazing world.
Chris has been writing about anime, manga, movies and comics for well on twenty years now. He began AnimeOnDVD.com back in 1998 and has covered nearly every anime release that’s come out in the US ever since.