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Every year here at RST, we release our “best of” for the recently completed year. It’s 2013 now and it’s time for one last look back at what we loved from 2012.

Characters

Best Male Character
Miles Matheson – Revolution
We’ll start the list off with one of my favorite characters from this year at all, the awesome Miles Matheson. When we first meet him, he’s this character content to live life in the shadows as long as no one finds out the truth about his life. As the season progresses, we learn why he’s so content to live in the shadows and that it might not be exactly what he wants, but what he needs. Miles is a character who you have to love for being so up front about everything, and I mean everything. Sometimes he can be an insensitive jerk, but you have to believe that everything he does is for the better of the group he’s traveling with – even if they don’t necessarily believe it themselves after they learn the truth about who he was in the past.

Korra

Best Female Character
Korra – The Legend of Korra

Was there any doubt? Korra’s of that rare breed of strong characters who also happens to be female. While the show sort of gives her this odd love story that doesn’t make a lot of sense in the end, by and large, she’s a great female character. She’s tough and strong and all around interesting. Coming off of Aang as the previous Avatar, it’s great to see someone who happens to be his complete opposite. On top of all that, Korra is something I never thought would actually happen on TV. She’s the star of an action show aimed at boys. How crazy is that? Female characters are often written off in the milieu of action shows, but here we’ve got Korra kicking ass with the best of them. I’d like to see her character given a bit more depth in the upcoming season, and I can forgive her faults in the first season – at the time it was finished, the creators were under the impression that this show was only going to be 13 episodes. Here we are almost a year later and we know the show is getting at least 52 episodes. I often don’t like characters that start off already having a deep understanding of what they’re doing and while Korra still had some learning to do, the person we see at the end of the first season isn’t very different from the person we see in the first episode. It takes a very special character full of life to persuade you into following their adventures when you know there won’t be an incredible amount of character growth throughout.

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Best Male Supporting Character
Michelangelo – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I wasn’t expecting too much out of the new TMNT cartoon, but I was willing to give it a shot, and I’m really glad I did. Michelangelo immediately became my favorite male character of the year. In a year with bland and uninspiring characters littering the playing field, Mikey stands out above the rest. He’s mostly a comedic relief character, as he’s always been, but there’s something genuinely endearing about this rendition of the green turtle that captures the viewer. Maybe it’s that awesome voice mixed with his lovable goofball quirks, but it’s hard not to like him. Every now and then he gets his share of dramatic episodes and while those are good, I think I enjoy Mikey the most when he’s having fun and just goofing off. Of all the characters introduced this year, throughout any show, Mikey’s the one that most makes me enjoy watching him on screen. Last year I picked Gai as my favorite male character, and I’m picking Mikey for a lot of the same reasons. He’s fun, lovable, just a damn nice guy you never want to see down, sort of got that whole puppy-dog effect going. If there’s one thing that keeps me coming back to this show week after week, it’s definitely Michelangelo.

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Best Female Supporting Character
Aria – Saint Seiya Omega

Aria began as a fairly bland and enigmatic character. It didn’t seem as if there was much going for her when we first met her and…that’s because there wasn’t. It’s through her journies with the other characters, especially Kouga, that she managed to grow and find something in life to make it worth living. She starts out the series as one of your typical quiet character and…well, she’s still an introvert by the end of her run, but she’s also got passion to her that makes what she does in the end on of the greatest things she could have possibly done.

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Best Antagonist
Dio Brando – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Best bad guy? Yeah, Dio’s got this one locked without any shadow of a doubt. The sole purpose of the first episode is to make the viewer absolutely despise this guy as a human – which he doesn’t stay as for too long! Within the first episode we see him steal the main character’s girlfriend’s first kiss, his friends, his reputation, AND he burns the guy’s dog alive! There is nothing at all redeemable about Dio and it’s that aspect that makes him such a great villain. The first part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure isn’t very deep, it’s good guy vs bad buy and Dio is as bad as they come. He’s smarmy, entitled, untrustworthy, and has no loyalty to any of his servants. Dio is without a doubt the most fun to hate bad guy in a long time.

Cast

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Best Actor
Greg Cipes as Michelangelo – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Yeeeaah there was really no one else who could have done it for me. His voice is part of the reason that I love Michelangelo so much. Thanks to Cipes behind the role, an otherwise dumb character appears so appealing and endearing to the viewer. His voice has this child-like quality that gets me every single time I watch the show. Some of Mikey’s dumber moments make it impossible to resist wanting to pat him on the head and utter an “Aww, bless”.

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Best Actress
Janet Varney as Korra – The Legend of Korra

For someone who doesn’t seem to have a ton of credit to her resume, Janet Varney is a great voice actress. She portrays Korra as this confident warrior who still has a bit of that that unrefined teen edge to herself. I was in love with her as Korra from the very first moment she muttered the infamous “Why don’t you come and find out?” line in her first real fight on screen. It’s probably because this is her first role as a voice actress, but Varney gives Korra a very life-like characteristic in her mannerisms and voice. Most of the time voice actors need to create a character voice, it feels like they’re playing a character. With Varney and Korra, it’s as if Korra’s voice is a real voice, not one simply created for the show.

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Best Villain
Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Tom Neville – Revolution

It was a tough decision for me, I almost went with David Lyons, but in the end I had to pick Giancarlo Espositio simply because we’ve seen more of him. It must say a lot about an actor’s propensity to play villains when nearly every single role they’re famous for is an almost irredeemable bad guy you would love to see die a painful death. What I like so much about Tom Neville is that, while he’s a bastard, he believes what he’s doing is not only just, but for the betterment of the country. Esposito plays this character with conviction and very down to earth at that. He does what he has to do for the greater good, but he doesn’t always enjoy it because he knows the pain it brings people. On top of that, he’s a family man and does sell out one of his commanders just to save his son. He’s loyal, but it’s very difficult to tell who he’s loyal towards and what earns that loyalty.

Movies

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Favorite Movie
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs Uchuu Keiji Gavan

This movie brought the Metal Heroes back into the public eye and even lead to the creation of a brand new Gavan movie, something no one ever expected. While I’m not typically the biggest Gokaiger fan out there, I’ve always thought this was the most well done of the movies the series had to offer, bringing together one of my favorite tokusatsu characters of all time and showing the Gokaigers at their best.

Worst Movie
None!

I’m not going to be picking anything for this category because…well, I didn’t dislike any of the movies I saw this year to any great extent. They all ranged from really good to just decent. Well, if you were you to count movies that were made last year but released on DVD this year, it would definitely have to be that horrible Kamen Rider OOO movie.taisen

Biggest Surprise
Superhero Taisen

Yeah. In the wake of the movie’s releasing, it was getting nearly universal bad releases. I guess this is one of those things that goes to show you really should wait and form your own opinions once you see a movie for yourself. Or something like that. It’s not a perfect movie, not by any means, but it’s not terrible. The idea that you were going to see all of these characters from both the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai franchises in one movie was severely underplayed, and the movie’s climax fight scene itself, you know the one, didn’t have anything impressive going for itself. What I loved was that this was a movie that managed to take the supporting characters from two shows and make them the main characters. It’s rare enough to see a main character come back after his series has finished, but seeing a supporting character come back and having him become the star of the movie? That’s pretty amazing stuff right there. There’s a new Superhero Taisen movie being released next year and I’ve got to hope it’s story is as good as this movie’s and that it manages to tie the meeting of heroes aspect much closer into the story than this one did.

Shows

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Best Episode
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger Episode 47 – The End of Treachery

Call me weird, but I really thought this was one of the best episodes from Gokaiger and definitely the best episode of the tokusatsu this year. It’s been a bad year for tokusatsu. That said, this is a great episode in its own right. We’ve got the first part of the climax against Basco, Captain Marvelous’s greatest enemy, and Sally facing the tough decision of whether or not she should defect to the Gokaiger. It’s a heart breaking episode, you can see just how much she’s wracking her brain over leaving the only person who had ever shown any compassion towards her before she met the team. In the end, Sally decides to face the future head on and become a would-be member of the crew. Unfortunately, Sally does meet her end in this episode and we’re shown just far beyond redemption Basco has fallen.

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Favorite Moment

Saint Seiya Omega Episode 27 – Aria’s Death

Pretty much the climax of Saint Seiya Omega’s first half. We see the full extent of Aria’s power and the complete growth of her character from a quiet, submissive girl to someone willing to stand up for what she believes in and dive head first into battle. Aria’s final moment is a pretty shocking one, definitely unexpected to me as I was watching it. She’s managed to unlock the full potential of her power and gives the other Saints a massive power up, allowing them to stand up to Mars in a head on battle after being beat around senselessly by him. Things seem to be going great and then when Mars has enough, he simply kills Aria. As a viewer, I wasn’t expecting this, at all. I really was expecting Mars to be defeated and some other “greater” evil character to appear, but nope! Aria bites the big one here and dies in a battle that looked like it was going to show our heroes victory. Her death shocks and torments the others, none more so than Kouga, who becomes filled with an absolute rage and hatred for Mars. Her death leads Kouga to battle not in the name of justice, but pure vengeance, something that still hasn’t been remedied.

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Young Justice Episode 27 – Happy New Year

This had to be the biggest surprise of the year for me in the shows that I watched. As previews for the new season was airing, I noticed that we weren’t being shown any of the characters from season one – it was a bunch of new people and voice overs of the older characters. We then saw pictures of what Robin would look like in this season and something just felt…off. Then it clicked. This season was going to do a time jump. I had no solid proof, but I was sure that this season would see the characters age a substantial amount, and as it turned out, they did. The first episode of this season shows Superboy and Megan in battle, neither having really aged, then we see Beast Boy, then we see Robin…then we see the date on screen. This episode had jumped a full five years into the future from the previous. While continuing the same plot. It was insane and one of the most hotly debated moments of the series, but it definitely sparked interest again in tons of people.

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Favorite Fight
Go-Buster Ace’s First Fight – Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters Episode 1

We were told that Go-Busters was going to be a maturation for Super Sentai and…well, that didn’t quite pan out given that it bombed and Toei tried to save face by changing the show. The early episodes though? That’s when Toei believed this new direction would work. The staff gave an interview before the show and promised “leveled up” mecha fight scenes, and they did not disappoint. What we got in the first few episodes were the single greatest mecha fight scenes Super Sentai has ever seen. There was so much care placed into these fight scenes: placement of miniatures, low and tight camera angles, decent close ups, it was amazing. No one expected we were going to get what we saw in those first episodes and it seemed like everyone watching was pleasantly surprised. The series does teeter back and fourth between fight scenes of this quality and the Sentai norm now, but there’s just something that can’t be matched in the first one for me. I can honestly say it was the first time in years that I’ve been shocked and surprised by tokusatsu to such a level.

Best Opening
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Opening 1 – Fate of Blood

I’ll just place a video here and show you why. Hint: It’s the epic scream.

Best Ending
I’ll have to abstain from this category. I simply wasn’t fond of the ending themes the shows I watched had this year.

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Biggest Disappointment
Ultimate Spider-Man

Coming off the heels of probably the best Spider-Man series ever, Spectacular Spider-Man, we were quickly introduced to a replacement – Ultimate Spider-Man. The series has some great animation, I’ll give it that. Sadly, that’s really all it has going for it. It does try to do something new, it’s just that…what it does isn’t very good. It’s essentially Family Guy in Spider-Man trappings with all the cut away gags and breaking the fourth wall. It’s a shame too because this show is probably going to run a couple of years before being replaced with something else. I’ve only managed to watch five episodes of this show and I just can’t watch any more.

Best Show
Young Justice Season 2

Whew, this was a very tough one to decide. It was essentially a split between The Legend of Korra, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Young Justice. I realized that, as great as Korra was, it showed some serious faults in places. The love story took a little too much time out of the series, and as cool as the pro bending stuff is, it didn’t amount to much in the end, being there mostly to eat time and show off how much the animation had improved. While I love love love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s not the best series. It’s got a ton of comedy and loveable characters, but it’s mostly episodic at the moment, which I don’t mind with this series, but there’s another show that did things better. One show that has qualities from both Korra and TMNT that I loved: Young Justice.

Coming after months of no new episodes, many people unsure it would ever even air, we were treated to the second season of Young Justice this year. It’s continued to be one of the best shows around. Solid characterization, great animation, comedy, action, this show has it all. On top of that, it’s got something I love seeing in any show – serial stories. The season has the subtitle “Invasion” and that’s because the secret invasion story from the first season is starting to kick into high gear here. You wouldn’t expect it to have much steam after five years had passed in universe, but the story is as strong and urgent as ever. This is one of those shows where you must watch almost every episode so you don’t miss out on new characters or story elements introduced. There’s a level of danger and drama to this show that I think makes it not only the best animated show on TV, but the best show on TV at all this year.

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