The year 2012 has been an interesting year for TV and movies, to say the least. Here are my best and worst from the past year! ***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!***
– Best Male Character
Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead
Wow, what a year for Rick. Before the hiatus of season two at the end of 2011, it looked like Rick was losing his footing as the leader of the group. Between dealing with Shane and trying to convince Herschel to let them stay on his farm, it seemed like Rick was catering to all sides and slowly losing his authority. But by the end of that arc, events caused him to “wake up” in a sense and realize what he needed to do to help his people survive. And that carried on into the second half of season two and through the first half of season three. Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes in the show, mentioned jokingly that the mistake he made was asking the writers how far they thought Rick could be pushed. Boy, did he find out. He’s been through more crap this year than the first season and a half of the show combined. We’ve seen him gain confidence and then become damn near close to broken in such a short time. And it has all been captivating to watch. I cannot wait to see how his character evolves even further come February.
– Best Female Character
Korra – The Legend of Korra
What can I say? Korra was one of THE characters to follow this year when it comes to any type of television show. She’s a brave and adventurous warrior who travels to the big city for the first time to further her training as the Avatar. Her curiousity leads her to new friends and enemies, as well as a new love. She’s naive enough for it to be amusing but Korra can also be wise beyond her years. She’s an all-around fun character to hang around with and despite being almost the polar opposite of Aang, she’s turning out to be a great successor to the Avatar title.
– Best Male Supporting Character
Shane Walsh – The Walking Dead
Rick may be one of the best characters this year, but Shane is definitely the most complex. All in all, he’s a good guy. He kept everyone safe while Rick was out of commission and did what was good for the group. But being second fiddle to Rick for so long before things went downhill may have messed with his head a bit. Season two saw the unwinding of his true personality as well as the conclusion to his story. The thing about Shane is that you never really knew what was going on in his head. To the very end of season two, he would always surprise you in how he would react to certain situation. Even when you guess what his reaction would be correctly, he would surprise you with the degree to which he would react. Shane as a character was written very well and though I wouldn’t necessarily call him the “villain” of season two, I wouldn’t go as far as to say he was a close ally to Rick and the others towards the end. Levels, man! Levels!
Joe Gibkin/GokaiBlue – Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
When the season of Gokaiger started in 2011, I didn’t think that Joe would be one of my favorite characters from the show. He seemed like the typical quiet and brooding character who just fought without asking why. But, he turned out to show more depth as the show went on. And by the end of it, you realized that Joe was probably the one that character for his other crew-mates the most, even if he didn’t voice it all of the time. Gokaiger is full of great characters, in my opinion, but Joe was the most interesting to watch through the entire arc. It also helps that he was the best thing to come out of the Super Hero Taisen movie.
– Best Female Supporting Character
Suguha Kirigaya/Lyfa – Sword Art Online
Yeah….Suguha is on list almost out of pure shock. At the beginning of the second arc of SAO, I thought she was just a throw away side character, someone you rarely had to pay attention to while Kirito went off to find Asuna. Boy, did her story slap me in the face. It became almost uncomfortable in spots watching her go from these highs to these devastating lows when dealing with Kirito and her feelings for him. I honestly did not expect any of this to happen after the first arc, but I’m glad it did. It would have been a bit bland if the second half just consisted of Kirito fighting through another game to save Asuna. This added an interest wrench into all of that. Though I’m not completely happy with the pay off, her character was intriguing to watch nonetheless.
Lin Beifong – The Legend of Korra
Talk about characters with history. Lin Beifong may be a new character to the series, but her lineage is reflected in almost everything she does. A powerful metal bender and a tough-as-nails Chief of Police, Lin doesn’t take crap from anyone, even old friends. If she was just as described above, she’d be a fun character to see interact with both Korra and Tenzin. But, the more you see of her, the more of her character you become exposed to. And, like I said, there is history behind her character that brings quite a bit of foundation to the story. And seriously, metal bending is pretty kick ass.
– Best Antagonist
This guy….is effin’ sick. I just got to his introduction in the Walking Dead graphic novels and the TV version is almost as messed up as the one in the books. A calculating SOB, he guises his true intentions behind the mask of protecting his town from the walkers. It’s obvious from his introduction that he isn’t a good character, but he surprises you each episode as to how little he cares about anyone other than himself. Well, he also cares about his dead zombie demon daughter (say that 4.5 times fast….I bet you can). He’s just a bastard in the truest sense of the word that doesn’t actually mean a fatherless child. Your guess is as good as mine as to what’s going to happen next season, but I hope he gets eaten by a zombie horse. I mean serious, why are there no zombie animals in this fictitious world? We see horses get eaten all of the time. You’d think that one of them would prop back onto its hooves and gnaw on a fool. I hope zombie horses become a thing in the second half of season three and that The Governor is the first victim. (….that went dark quick…)
– Best Actor
Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh – Walking Dead
To portray a complex character like Shane, you need a very skilled actor to pull it off. And damnit if Jon Bernthal isn’t a talented actor. Jon is an intense actor with a lot of range, and for someone as emotionally and mentally unstable as Shane, he’s the perfect actor for the role. When he’s calm, you can see in his eyes that he’s figuring out what to do next. He does great acting through his eyes which is very hard to do, I’ve heard. You can tell when someone isn’t good at it because they tend to oversell their emotions. Jon keeps that balance to where it looks natural in that situation. And when shit hits the fan and Shane has had it with everyone and everything, Jon projects his rage through his body movement and his gestures. It really sucks you into the scene and by the end of it, you feel like you’ve gotten to know the character a bit more, but you’re also scared to death of him. I don’t know what the actor will do after The Walking Dead, but I’ll be sure to check it out whatever it is. Jon Bernthal is an actor to look out for.
– Best Actress
Being re-introduced to animated TV this year, it’s still kind of hard for me to gauge how good a voice actor is nowadays. I’m so used to judging an actor/actress based off of both physical and facial expression that focusing just voice acting is something new to me. But, Janet Varney definitely deserves this coveted honor for her portrayal of the ever-interesting Korra this year. Her acting together with the amazing writing and gorgeous animation formed one of my favorite characters this year and that is no small feat. Its typical to say that an actor has great range (refer to my gushing over Jon Bernthal’s acting above for evidence of hypocrisy on my part), but….she has such range. I don’t know what else to say about her. She made Korra feel like a real character, someone that can be recognized by any of us, but also someone who is beyond any of our imagination.
– Best Villain
Takehito Koyasu as Dio Brando – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Dude, come on. If you’ve seen even the first episode of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, you know EXACTLY why Takehito Koyasu is on this list. This show is the definition of “over-the-top” and Koyasu projects a majority of that sentiment (the rest could arguably be held by Speedwagon’s actor, Masaya Onosaka). Dio is an egotistical asshole and Koyasu, though I’m sure he’s a very nice guy in real life, pulls off this character trait almost too well. To the point where you don’t want to meet this guy in real life because he may very well kill you.
Ummm…It’s The-friggin-Avengers, man. A movie that was the result of around six years of build up in the form of origin movies of various characters. Said character being portrayed by larger-than-life actors and actresses, all in the same screen directed by geek-favorite Joss Whedon, how is this not going to be one of my favorite movies of the year? Seriously? Come on. Just read this review and you’ll see what I mean.
The Raid: Redemption
This came out earlier this year and instantly got people talking. It’s an Indonesian martial arts movie starring Iko Uwais and follows a SWAT team’s raid of a tenement housing building run by a drug lord. If you’re curious as to how action movies are done in Indonesia, check this movie out. With Gareth Evans behind the camera as director, you get a huge helping of Silat action, the martial arts style that originated from Indonesia. It’s hard hitting, raw action and with intense camera work and good performances all around, its the movie I’ve watched the most this year, by far.
Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen
If you’re a tokusatsu fan, you saw this coming. With a non-existent story, crappy editing and misuse of interesting characters, this movie has to be the worst of this year. The action scenes also left a lot to be desired. Seriously, how many sweeping crane shots do you need to establish how many bugmen and spandex-wearing heroes are in this scene? To read more of my thoughts on this movie, why don’t you click on this little link over here.
Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Fourze & OOO: Movie War Mega Max
Coming off of two years straight of sub-par crossover Kamen Rider movies in the form of the Movie War series, I’d have to say that my expectations were a bit low for this movie. Even if this was being directed by Koichi Sakamoto, how was he going to improve on a failed concept of having 2 separate story lines for each Rider and then mashing them together at the end? Well, he freakin’ showed us, didn’t he. And not just two story lines, two and a half! (come on, we all know that Shotaro stumbled into that situation. But I’m glad he did.) Great action and attention to detail in both characters and existing plot lines, Mega Max easily became one of the better made movies of recent. And with Ultimatum seemingly becoming just as successful, Koichi may be able to fix anything. Maybe have him work on a Super Hero Taisen movie in the future, Toei?
Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen
Well, yeah. Going into its release, I was actually more excited for this than The Avengers. Crazy, I know. But we got a dose of this crossover with the Kamen Rider Decade x Shinkenger crossover episodes, and while they were entertaining, they were no where near the expectations I had for it. So, obviously I was a bit optimistic in hoping that this would make something out of this crossover idea. And dammit if the promos didn’t deceive us all. It played great in 30 second chunks. But apparently that was the only decent 30 seconds in the whole movie. With a rushed production cycle and no plot to speak of, this let almost everyone in the fandom down. I don’t even remember the last time a WHOLE movie got this negative a response from Toku fans.
Episode 9 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Conclusion of the Phantom Blood arc
This show is so hard to describe because it sometimes goes beyond words. The story told in this is one that is so over-the-top that you can’t help but be fixed on it. And the degree of escalation from episode to episode something I haven’t seen in quite some time. So, to see the conclusion to such an epic arc and for it to be done in such a way kind of blows my mind. It goes from being carefree to everything going to hell in a matter of 20 minutes and it holds on to your attention with the an unwavering grip. We’re not too far into the second arc, but it will have to do a lot to match up or surpass the epicness that is the Phantom Blood arc.
Episode 48 of Kamen Rider Fourze – The Finale
Now, before you jump down my throat, let me be clear. I actually really liked this episode for the most part. The previous episode saw the loss of a very important character and this episode followed up on that emotion and brought the goods. We saw what his influence had on the group and how it helped with their decision on how to deal with Gamou. I had a lot of problems with this show overall, but the last arc was very well done and had me hooked. The last two episodes were actually rather emotional and made you feel the loss. But, its the last five minutes of this show and this episode that ruin it for me. It’s something that has been done before but that doesn’t make it any better. Instead of letting the Kamen Rider Club deal with their loss, the show brings him back in a very half-assed way. It makes sense, but it makes the events of the last two episodes feel obsolete. This is why its the worst episode of the year for me. It started on a high note and had a really interesting final boss battle between Fourze and Gamou. But the last few minutes ruin it for me.
Season 2: Episode 12 of The Walking Dead – Shane’s death
We knew it was coming. Well, if you read the first couple of volumes of the comics you kind of figured it had to happen at some point. Rick and Shane finally have their long-awaited confrontation. Through this moment, you see a big character change in Rick. He goes from trying to settle the situation to taking care of said situation before it gets out of hand. He makes a big sacrifice for his family and takes out his closest friend, one he knows will eventually come after his life. Rick finally takes on the role as leader of both his family and the group with this one action, changing his frame of mind almost completely. But, we also see the start of Carl growing up, as he shoots Shane in the head once he turns into a walker. I thought this was a great episode with a lot at stake. It also reflects on a lot of the decisions made in season three which I think is a great accomplishment on the show’s part.
Episode 48 of Gokaiger – Captain Marvelous vs Basco
I think this year more than any other year had some great fights from various different shows. If I was going to talk about strictly choreography, this fight scene between Marvelous and Basco probably wouldn’t have won. Shows like Kamen Rider Wizard, Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters and Garo: Makai Senki have been pushing the envelope on the intricacies of fight choreography in tokusatsu. But looking through some of the more memorable episodes, I couldn’t find many that supplied both great action and the emotional heft necessarily to make a battle feel epic. For example, the final fight in Garo: Makai Senki was pretty kickass for what was immediately going on in the scene, but I didn’t feel like I was invested enough in Kouga’s hatred for the villain. Whereas in this episode of Gokaiger, you are well aware of how deep the hatred the between Marvelous and Basco runs. They’ve known each other years before Marvelous became a Gokaiger member. They were best friends until Basco decided to betray him. So, all of that history culminated into this final battle between the two warriors, and I have to say, it was a pretty heated bout. Each party gave it their all and it looked great. You can have all of the fresh choreography that you want, but if you’re not invested into the characters involved or even the situation that they are in, its just a performance and not a moment.
“JoJo ~Sono Chi no Sadame~” by Hiroaki “Tommy” Tominaga – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Just….watch the video below.
The Walking Dead
It comes down to the fact that this was the one show that I anticipated the release of every episode every week that it aired down to the minute. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next to everyone involved and I can’t wait for its return next month to see the conclusion of this season. The energy level for this show is at an all-time high and each episode feels like it was 10 mins too short by the end of it even though it keeps the same run time. Its the show that I was the most immersed in and its my show for 2012.
Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters
After Gokaiger, I had doubts that this show could live up to the high standards brought before it. I loved Gokaiger as a season so Go-Busters already had a tough act to follow. But, the first few episodes of the show blew me away. It seemed like a revamp of the franchise from the ground up. From the costumes that were changed from the traditional spandex to a leather in the vein of Kamen Rider suits to the mech battles that felt epic in scale due to the attention to detail on both the miniatures used as well as the composition of shots and locations used. The action director was the former suit actor for most of the Red sentai heroes for the past decade, Hirofumi Fukuzawa, and his choreography felt different and fresh for once. It also had a cool spy feel to it that made the show really stand out while harking back to the theme of the original Sentai series, Goranger. But, with dwindling ratings and toy sales, Toei stuck their hand in the mixed and “retooled” the show to bring up ratings. Unfortunately, this tactic didn’t work and we were left with a show that was a shadow of what it could have been.
-Favorite Hero Designs
Kamen Rider Wizard
Some of the reason as to why I like the Wizard suit so much has to do with my dislike for the Fourze and Meteor suits from the previous year. I wouldn’t say that the Fourze suit was bad, (though I will say that about the Meteor suit), its just that it didn’t click with me at all. So when the first pictures came out for Wizard, I was stoked. The prism motif looked striking and the faint resemblance to past suits like Kamen Rider V3 and Kamen Rider Hibiki actually gave it a unique feel. Throw in a badass trench coat and cool looking alternative forms and you have a suit that I enjoy seeing in action every episode that I see.
-Favorite Monster Designs
Zodiarts – Kamen Rider Fourze
Out of the designs we’ve seen for villians this past year, I feel that this show had the most coherent theme. They have the line work that resembles the constellation they represent, obvsiously. But, each suit has its own characteristics that lends itself to its zodiac sign and traits. I also really like the color scheme for the majority of the suits. When a group of suits share commonalities but are different enough to seem unique within their own rights, I tend to gravitate towards those enemies more.
Swords of Garo: Makai Senki
I mean, they’re effin’ swords. What more do you want? But honestly, while there were some cool weapons in the other Toku shows this season, they all clearly had a gimmick and did their best to integrate it into modern designs. I appreciate the effort, but its refreshing to see weapons that are just that, weapons. The swords, staffs and brushes in Garo usually have very intricate designs within themselves. A lot of detail is put into the creation of these weapons to give them history as well as identity. The reflect the feel of the show and also look extremely badass in use. I want that Garo sword, damnit!
-Favorite Mech Design
This mostly just applies to Sentai this time around since, well, they be doin’ mechs a lot! But, in all seriousness, for the most part I tend to dislike the mech designs in Sentai. Outside of maybe the initial form, like Shinkenger’s Shinken-Oh or Gekiranger’s GekiTouja, I just hate it when they add more bulk to the robots with each upgrade. What I like about Go-Buster Ace is its simplicity. It’s a robot of its own even though its just a component of Go-Buster Oh, sort of like Ryuseioh from Dairanger. But it has this streamlined look to it that makes it look very classic in its design. It almost looks like a Gundam in some respects. And the fact that they still use it to some degree 30-40 episodes into the series makes me enjoy it a lot more.