Anime of Tomorrow
At long last I’ve reached the final part of my series for 2013’s anime of the year. Keep in mind that this is not a ranking of which anime I think other people would enjoy or which anime I thought was the most popular amongst the anime community as a whole. This is solely my conclusion based not only on how much I enjoyed these series, but also on a wide range of technical accomplishments I observed–from musical composition, art style, plot development / writing and many other important details. But first, a quick summary of the titles I’ve covered so far. Click the section headers to read each part of my countdown in greater detail.
Finally the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The top five and my pick for anime of the year 2013.
In case you’re just joining me as I count down to 2013’s anime of the year, be sure to go back to the beginning with (25-21), (20-16) and (15-11). Just to be clear, if you research my posts throughout the year at the conclusion of each season, I may have reordered some of the titles for anime of the year–it just can’t be helped. While I used those reviews as a starting point, I have to judge some anime based on how much of an impression they’ve left on me several months later as compared to other titles that are fresher in my mind. If you disagree with my conclusions, feel free to leave a comment explaining why you think so.
Despite its title, no hentai to be found here. Instead it’s a terrifically fun comedy series about young people coming to understand themselves and finding what they truly want out of life—which is simply to have fun loving and being loved.
Each time we’ve revisited this amazing philosophical comedy, it has unfortunately decreased in quality—relatively speaking. A franchise that was my anime of the year for 2009 and took my number six spot last year still tells really smart stories portrayed by a top-notch cast of voice actors.
Continued from Anime of the Year 2013 (25 to 21)
Now I continue my rankings for anime of year 2013 with twenty to sixteen. If you haven’t read the first part of this five part series here’s Anime of the Year 2013 (25 to 21). Just for clarification, anime movies aren’t factored into my list of series as it’s limited to only TV anime that finished airing in 2013–including series that started in fall 2012 and finished in winter 2013. Similarly, ongoing series from fall 2013 that won’t finish until the end of the winter 2014 season won’t be on this list, either.
Supernatural anime based around Shinto always intrigue me. RDG also tells the story of the reluctant hero, who finds there’s more to his role of protector than just fighting off the forces of darkness.
It’s that time again. It’s time for me to reveal just how much I disagreed (and to some extent agreed) with the greater anime community over the past four seasons. This year I decided to do the most comprehensive list of my top anime of the year I’ve ever undertaken and to hype up the suspense I’m going to count down from twenty-five in five anime increments. It’s going to be a journey that I anticipate will be controversial, but as I constantly remind my readers, I’m here to represent my own tastes in anime because I’ve not found another critic who will even come close to agreeing with me. And so I start with the bottom five of my top twenty-five of 2013.
Any magic girl anime that avoids the common pitfalls those types of shows are prone to is ok in my book. It also has a fresh art style and enough darkness to give its story some real edge so you can feel for the characters.
The conclusion to this season left me a little more disappointed than the last few seasons. A lot of anime that seemed to have tons of potential just flopped and even the ones that had a strong story throughout the past three months often left me high and dry upon their conclusion. There were a few surprising gems that glittered amongst the mud, but metaphorically speaking, none of them were diamonds. Click here if you want to see how my final rankings differ from my predictions at the start of the season.
What made this series so strong was the priority it gave to its character development. Not a single second was wasted on little side characters, but at the same time their significance to the story was not ignored. This series also had the courage to go 100% CG, which made for epic maritime battles that flowed seamlessly with the rest of the animation.
The vision of this anime’s setting cannot be given enough praise. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s hard to imagine the complex clash of cultures emerging so organically from this simultaneously heartwarming and tragic story. We’re only halfway through, but if things keep going at this rate, I think I’m looking at a candidate for anime of the year 2014.
What an adventure these three young people undertook. Their talents and chemistry brought them together to have a ton of fun, which was a treat to watch and in some ways almost experience along with them. The real tragedy of this series is the ending that left nobody happy. I wonder if like the first season of this IP, when the season of White Album returns we’re going to get a sequel that will give a better conclusion.
I can’t think of many other recent series that understood what made the premise of their setting so much fun and managed to just keep the jokes coming one after another (Servant x Service did come close). It also had an amazing, underlying theme about salesmanship, economics racial equality that could be the cornerstone of any moral compass.
Oh Kyoto Animation. What will you come up with next? It’s one thing to take a bunch of random anime tropes and throw them into a blender–but this series takes nearly everything that I love about anime and sets it into a story that merges serious and ridiculous fun arranged into a complete piece that never failed to make me smile.
|December 22||Monogatari Series Ep. 25 Kana Hanazawa is a frighteningly good voice actress. Her depiction of Nadeko as a yandere snake god actually sent chills down my spine.|
|Little Busters Refrain Ep. 12 I’m becoming more and more convinced that this “after story” for the main Little Busters series would have been more appropriately suited to a series of OVAs rather than a slow-paced thirteen episodes.|
|White Album 2 Ep. 12 In these later episodes it’s become harder and harder to like the two heroines. Setsuna, it turns out, is a homewrecker and Touma is maddeningly indecisive.|
|December 23||Magi 2 Ep. 12 It’s just one power grab after another–betrayal after betrayal. It’s such a good thing that we’ve abandoned the primitive system of monarchy that drew the masses into pointless wars for succession.|
|December 24||Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 12 Kongou and Iona’s conversation didn’t really have the emotional impact that the other mental models had. I appreciated the change it brought about, but this isn’t the big ending I was hoping for.|
|Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 12 Urgh… so many loose ends. What were the writers thinking? Talk about cramming tons of what could have been interesting content for a twenty-six episode series into only twelve.|
|December 26||Coppelion Ep. 13 What a strange ending. I really had high hopes for this series when I saw the first episode. But it turned into a string of near-nonsense that disserviced its grim and technological setting.|
|December 27||Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 13 Oh man. What just happened? And how will the series progress from this point? I thought things were getting a little too caught up in the emotional side, but what a climax to the first half of the series.|
|December 15||Monogatari Series Ep. 24 I’d have hoped that discussing the details of of Kaiki’s plan to deceive a god would lead down a more philosophical path than the conversation actually brought about.|
|Little Busters Refrain Ep. 11 It saddens me to find out that Angel Beats borrowed so heavily from the themes that had already been laid out here in Key’s earlier title.|
|White Album 2 Ep. 11 It’s hard learning the truth about love. I’ve lost count of the number of times the three main characters not only betrayed each other, but also betrayed themselves.|
|December 16||Magi 2 Ep. 11 Morgiana continues to be my favorite character in this series. She’s such a strong woman in every meaning of strength and I always find myself cheering for her.|
|December 17||Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 11 Although they stuck with each other rather than become allies of Gunzou, it was still interesting to see the unique way I-400 and I-402 came to realize they were more than weapons.|
|Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 11 It’s quite clear this series will not resolve its core conflict between Raishin and Magnus. And with no second season in sight, another anime falls victim to airing before a sufficient amount of content was finished being written.|
|December 19||Coppelion Ep. 12 It’s hard to sympathize with the antagonists when they keep turning down every chance for redemption they’re given. But it’s also annoying when the protagonists keep giving the bad guys second chances that put everyone they’re trying to save in danger.|
|Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 12 It’s ok to bring someone back from the dead if there was a good reason to do so. Personally, I’m not sure there was even a good reason for anyone to die in the first place.|
|December 20||Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 12 So far this series has had a great pace, but this episode really seemed to be dragging its heels. Last week established how things were going to happen, so lets go already.|
|December 21||Outbreak Company Ep. 12 Personally, I think having the climax of this series be in the previous episode was a huge mistake. It left the season finale with nowhere left to go and just foundered about without going anywhere.|
|Yuushibu Ep. 12 This series did a great job sticking to its theme and not wandering. While it never achieved any level of sophistication, I enjoyed every ridiculous minute of it.|
|Freezing Vibration Ep. 12 This franchise’s first season told a much more interesting story about what it means to be a pandora. Vibration just stagnated and followed a rather ho-hum plot about military bureaucracy.|
|December 8||Monogatari Series Ep. 23 What a cliffhanger. And I just know that whatever was in Nadeko’s closet is probably a majory plot point and won’t be revealed until the season finale.|
|Little Busters Refrain Ep. 10 Aw man. The pace of this series has turned into a mess. There’s still three more episodes, but now they’re doing a clip-show-ish review of events leading up to this point? *shakes head*|
|White Album 2 Ep. 10 I’m not sure the order of events was properly planned for this series. Was it really worth the emotional baggage to reveal Haruki and Touma’s past this late?|
|December 9||Magi 2 Ep. 10 The gladiator battle had a really good pace to it, but the crowd is really messed up. One minute they’re on Alibaba’s side and as soon as it looks like he’s about to lose, everyone abandons him? Surely someone who bet money on him should still be on his side, right?|
|December 10||Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 10 Formerly nothing
more than weapons of war, it’s a real treat to see these young women discover they can be more than that by integrating into themselves the best traits of humanity.
|Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 10 A good revenge story always gets my blood boiling. I can taste Raishin’s hatred and frustration at having to bide his time and wait for a proper time to strike.|
|December 12||Coppelion Ep. 11 As a writer, what do you do when you’ve run out of ideas? Throw in a ridiculous mecha that the bad guys were somehow hiding and not using the entire series despite getting their butts kicked the whole time.|
|Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 11 I most certainly hope that someone I love never lays down their life for me. If it’s you or me, I’ll always say “both.” Never forget that discretion is the better part of valor.|
|December 13||Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 11 I know there’s a certain romance to a story about confessing your love at the end of the world. But we should take that as a lesson that we shouldn’t wait until the end of the world to do the important things in life.|
|December 14||Outbreak Company Ep. 11 Although this series seemed sympathetic to the issues surrounding otaku culture, in reality I think it still depicted us as a dangerous social phenomenon. I don’t like that one bit.|
|Yuushibu Ep. 11 A true hero doesn’t become a hero because he’s seeking the fame. They’re just brave men and women who make the right decision when nobody else has the courage to step forward.|
|Freezing Vibration Ep. 11 I totally called it. It took two seasons, but Chiffon turned out to be the character who you hope never opens her eyes.|
|December 1||Monogatari Series Ep. 22 In theory this is supposed to be Hitagi’s arc, but at this rate it’s going to be Nadeko’s second arc with a strong emphasis on Kaiki…|
|Little Busters Refrain Ep. 9 And now Kengo’s arc has started. Or perhaps this whole second half of the season is just about showing how much Riki has matured.|
|White Album 2 Ep. 9 I’m not sure where this love triangle is going, but I’m reminded of the two girls competing for one guy scenario that plagued Shana‘s second season.|
|December 2||Magi 2 Ep. 9 Meh. This cast of characters is already too big and there’s still more movers and shakers entering this spaghetti-like mess of relationships.|
|December 3||Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 9 The battle in this episode takes place on so many fronts–hearts vs minds, friends vs comrades, requests vs orders, power vs subtlety, freedom vs reservation–but never once does it feel spread thin or poorly paced. I love it.|
|Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 9 Nothing about the current situation feels right. I sense there’s some needlessly elaborate deception going on here.|
|December 5||Coppelion Ep. 10 This series is like a broken record. I can’t stop watching it because it does offer some beauty, but it keeps repeating the same mistakes in its storytelling over and over.|
|Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 10 I’m not found of the whole, “it was just a dream,” storytelling device. But I’ll make an exception in this case because it allowed for communication that actually forwarded the story.|
|December 6||Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 10 A lot of anime as of late seem to have placed their strong points into their unique settings. This clash of cultures–surface vs sea, tradition vs youth–wouldn’t be so interesting, otherwise.|
|December 7||Outbreak Company Ep. 10 I had hoped this show would be more along the lines of Genshiken where they actually discuss otaku issues in the larger cultural sense, but it seems to be turning out more like Oreimo–just a bunch of loosely connected tropes and references.|
|Yuushibu Ep. 10 It’s really quite interesting to think of this anime in terms of economics. There was a major economic shift that put a lot of people out of work and instead of changing to the new paradigm, there’s a push to return to what they’re familiar with.|
|Freezing Vibration Ep. 10 If there’s a character in an anime that never opens his or her eyes (I like to call them fox eyes) you know there’s probably something sinister about them.|