We're celebrating the end of 2012 with our favorite anime, manga, and video games of the year! In our Best of 2012 Staff Picks, each of our contributors selects two titles and writes a short post for each about why it's awesome.
To be honest, I didn't watch a lot of anime this year, for a variety of reasons I won't get into here. But from the small number of new series I checked out in 2012, one stood out above the rest. Kids on the Slope, created by studio MAPPA and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) is an absolute delight, and one of the most quietly compelling anime series I've seen in a long time. This story of two high school musicians — one a classical pianist and the other a jazz drummer — melds a deep appreciation for music of all kinds with an understanding of the fragility and fluidity of the human heart. Sure, Kids on the Slope doesn't have any ninjas or robots or space aliens, but thanks to Watanabe's precise timing and Yoko Kanno's excellent music, it presents a startling true portrait of what it means to be a teenager (the universality of which is amplified by the 1960s setting) and the role that music can play in a young person's life. As a musician myself, I can say with confidence that the series perfectly depicts the experience of playing music with and for other people. Kids on the Slope hits all the right notes. Don't miss it.