By 2012, I was well settled into the new age of online streaming of anime series as they aired in Japan, even if my concentration on those series streamed by Crunchyroll was almost exclusive, influenced then and for years to follow by the disdain others showed for Funimation’s competing service. That has had its own effect on what series I’ve watched since, although in looking over a list of titles from 2012 I did get to thinking that while I could make quite a list of “personal standouts” I’d only seen two of them as they were airing. One of those two, though, just happens to be my top pick for that year.

From the New World, adapted from a self-contained science fiction novel rather than the beginning of a long series of “light novels,” may emphasize its ideas and story over absolutely stunning visuals and animation. I do watch that second kind of anime, to be certain, and I do quite enjoy them when “absolutely stunning” seems to apply, but From the New World still made for a bracing change. It perhaps appealed to me too for returning to the idea of “psychic powers,” which written, “respectable” science fiction was once very fond of but had wound up seeming to leave to visual works more interested in “power” than “consequences.” I did find the time to watch this series more than once, and in returning to it perhaps fit its pieces together tighter than they’d first seemed to go.

As for the honourable mentions, while I first considered just listing them in alphabetical order I wound up thinking they could be grouped in two categories, one group larger than the other. With that decided on, I then started second-guessing just where the tale of terror told by Another ought to go, but wound up deciding it supposed itself to be altogether serious; I did find it “atmospheric” and entertaining all the same. Hyouka is easier to place; watching this Kyoto Animation production well after many others did and talked it up, I soon got past my concerns its high school mysteries might seem very lightweight on finding subtleties to it that didn’t go over my head. Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine was one of the first Lupin series I watched (after having “begun at the beginning”), but still feels as if it pushed the envelope of the long-running franchise and helped the series to follow it to work in their own ways. While I watched the first Psycho-Pass already warned away from its follow-ups, it did work by itself for me as a futuristic series calling back to the sort of anime once very talked up. Space Brothers was the second series I watched as it streamed; an optimistic near-future “real space travel, or just about real” show got my attention from the start and ran a good long time, even if it still left off to be continued in the original manga. While Space Battleship Yamato 2199 took a few years longer to be ready to hand the same way, it did quite well updating a much-brought-up space opera from decades in the past.

The second group of episodes from this year did a lot to convince me one thing I particularly liked about anime was “absurd concepts presented with a straight face.” AKB0048 got my attention where (for the moment) I was passing by other “idol singer anime”; this series was set in a space opera universe with the line between “performance” and “battle” blurring. Girls und Panzer might have been planetbound, but its presentation of “live-fire engagements in vintage tanks is a classic feminine art suitable for high school students” was quite amusing. Symphogear is another high-octane outlier on “idol singer anime”; while the artwork of the first series isn’t as polished as its sequels became, I found its action attention-grabbing from the start. It’s already tempting, looking ahead, to wonder if the fifth instalment of its series ought to be at the top of my picks for 2019 even at the cost of blocking anything “newer” from getting that high.