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Anime of the Year 2013 (10 to 6)

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.

Tsukiko, Youto and Azusa sit on the Stony Cat10. HenNeko

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.

 

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Anime of the Week (9/29 – 10/5)

Anime of the Week – Coppelion
Taeko, Aoi and Ibara begin their work

Kindness is often a luxury that can only be afforded to those who are comfortable and suffering can sometimes be cyclical, in that the beginning of suffering only perpetuates more suffering. Seeing these two contradictory paths juxtaposed in Coppelion‘s first episode has given me high hopes for future philosophical developments in this series.                              

September 29 Attack on Titan Ep. 25 After so much wasted time throughout this series, I didn’t have high hopes that it would be able to tie up loose ends.
Monogatari Ep. 13 I’ve always loved how this franchise mixes philosophy with a playful comedy that breaks the fourth wall and sucks you in.
October 1 Railgun S Ep. 24 THIS is how you end a series. An epic final battle with one last twist to mix things up and most importantly a conclusion.
Day Break Illusion Ep. 13 Ugh. This series could not find a way to avoid making its more introspective moments too sappy and ruin the mood.
October 3 Servant x Service Ep. 13 I enjoyed this series, but I think it should have avoided romance and focused more on jokes about its quirky setting.
Coppelion Ep. 1 An intriguing setting. What most fascinates me is how the artificially created girls are more human than the natural people.
Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 1 It had to happen eventually. Kyoto animation, the creators of K-ON! have finally made an anime that’s dark and bloody.

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Anime of the Week (9/22 – 9/28)

Anime of the Week – Monogatari Series: Second Season
Nadeko makes a deal with the serpent

Actions are always so much more meaningful than words and because she immediately volunteers to correct her mistakes rather than simply appologizing reveals just how sorry she truly is.                              

September 22 Attack on Titan Ep. 24 There’s actually a great story to be told, but it’s taking FOREVER… We should have been at this point by episode 11.
September 23 Railgun S Ep. 23 Sometimes doing the right thing means you’ll need to dirty your hands. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
Monogatari Ep. 12 It’s one thing to ask for forgiveness, but actively asking how you can make reparations is on a whole different level.
Genshiken Nidaime Ep. 12 It took half the series to resolve Madarame’s issues, but I feel cheated to have Ohno’s worries finished in one episode.
September 25 Day Break Illusion Ep. 12 I’m not sure what to say… This series is so average and unremarkable aside from its slightly fresh art style.
WataMote Ep. 12 I think the lesson to learn from Tomoko is to not give up on social endeavors and keep trying to make new connections.
KinMosa Ep. 12 The dynamics of Japanese and American school life are so different because of how Japan maintains a consistent homeroom.
September 28 Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 12 A part of me believes that with the popularity of simple casual games, such a system just might work in Japan.

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Anime of the Week (9/15 – 9/21)

Anime of the Week – Gatchaman Crowds
Hajime makes a phone call in Gatchaman form

The information age has brought us a world where everything is at our fingertips. And even though you can use this power to be anything you want to be, it’s a shame that so many people choose to be stupid.                              

September 15 Attack on Titan Ep. 23 I knew this would happen six episodes ago. And if the writing didn’t suck it could have happened five episodes ago.
Railgun S Ep. 22 I love how Misaka backs up her chivalry with power. I’m reminded of the phrase, “speak softly, but carry a big stick.”
September 17 Genshiken Nidaime Ep. 11 I don’t know why anyone would look to OreImo for examples of anime that humanize otaku when this series exists.
Kiniro Mosaic Ep. 11 A valiant effort is made to show a fairly realistic clash of east and west, but even so it still gets a few facts wrong.
Day Break Illusion Ep. 11 There’s plenty of room for dramatic twists in this series, but every character is too unwilling to make a mistake.
September 18 WataMote Ep. 11 The lesson to learn from this anime is expectations. If you set your standards too high, you’re bound for disappointment.
September 21 Servant x Service Ep. 12 I think the most attractive feature most people truly lack is not beauty, brains or brawn, but merely confidence.
Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 11 Although social networking is a terrific system for disseminating information, it’s too often highjacked for evil.

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Anime of the Week (9/1 – 9/7)

Anime of the Week – Watashi ga Motenai
Tomoki and Tomoko collect cicada shells.

I’ve actually had people tell me that children reveal the reality of humanity’s instinctively selfish nature. But I only see the innocence of youth that’s yet to be weighed down by the responsibilities of adulthood. The world would be such a happier place if we could return to the time in our lives when social status didn’t matter and we wouldn’t have to wear false personalities to appease different people.

September 1 Attack on Titan Ep. 21 Good job Eren. Last time you taught us the importance of trusting your comrades and today you take it all back.
Monogatari 2 Ep. 9 No matter how good your intentions, you can’t predict the outcome. If you ever get a chance to change the past…don’t.
September 3 Prisma Illya Ep. 8 As entertaining as this series has been, it’s also got some shamelessly cliché moments—case in point, quitting the job.
Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 8 I’m not sure what Hajime hopes to accomplish by revealing the existence of the Gatchaman other than it’s fun for her.
Genshiken Nidaime Ep. 9 Hato has continued to lament Madarame’s lost affections; all the while refusing to face his own romantic failures.
September 4 WataMote Ep. 9 Often when we focus too much on our own comfort, we tend to forget the altruistic joy that comes from helping others.
Railgun S Ep. 20 No matter how kind and generous you are, if you hold a position of power, there will be those who seek your downfall.
September 5 Day Break Illusion Ep. 9 This series will never be Madoka Magica because unlike the passively “evil” Kyuubey, Cerebrum takes an active role.
September 7 Blood Lad Ep. 9 It’s rare that someone will pursue power not for himself, but to put a more worthy person in a leadership position.
KinMosa Ep. 9 As someone who admittedly can’t speak Japanese well, even I can tell that Karen’s broken Japanese sounds unnaturally fake.
Servant x Service Ep. 10 Once again with the comedic misunderstandings. This anime would be getting dry by now if it wasn’t so creative.
Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen Ep. 10 With as little time the dolls spend pursuing the goal of being the ultimate girl, why does the Alice Game even exist?
Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 9 Perverting someone’s well-intended creation towards morals counter to its intentions is the height of despicable.
Railgun S Ep. 21 As badass as Misaka is on her own, I’m really looking forward to seeing the fruits of working together with her friends.

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Anime of the Week (8/25 – 8/31)

Anime of the Week – Monogatari Series: Second Season
Shinobu and Koyomi return to the present.

Monogatari is always at its best when Koyomi starts talking. I can rarely find fault in his reasoning, but messing around with the past is one of those situations where no good deed goes unpunished.                              

August 25 Attack on Titan Ep. 20 This episode is another fine example of this series taking way too much time to tell a simple segment of the story.
August 26 Monogatari 2 Ep. 8 Let this be a lesson to everyone who thinks of returning to the past to change an unfortunate event out of kindness.
Day Break Illusion Ep. 8 Unlike Madoka Magica, this latest dark drama feels forced because it was predictable and there was no shock value.
KinMosa Ep. 8 There isn’t a more appropriate culture festival event for a moe anime exploring the differences between Japan and the west.
Railgun S Ep. 19 Because the sisters arc got wrapped up rather early, I feel this new story is getting stretched for additional time.
Genshiken Nidaime Ep. 8 I can’t see how anyone who hasn’t experienced REAL otaku culture firsthand will be able to truly appreciate this anime.
August 28 Blood Lad Ep. 8 Sometimes I wonder if just like Staz, I too have been oblivious to the subtle, romantic advances of a woman close to me.
August 30 WataMote Ep. 8 Just because you think your life may be uninteresting, it doesn’t suddenly mean you should feel the need to impress others.
August 31 Servant x Service Ep. 9 Some of the best comedy that comes out of anime is in the form of misunderstandings caused by Japanese ambiguity.
Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen Ep. 9 I really like Kirakishou because she embodies the creative necessity of ideas preceding their existence in reality.

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Anime of the Week (8/18 – 8/24)

Anime of the Week – Attack on Titan
Eren chooses to place his trust in his comrades

Just like Eren, we all must realize that we are not islands in a sea of society, but immensely dependent on each other not only for our own surival, but also for achieving accomplishments greater than any individual could ever dream of. If only it didn’t take grave matters of life and death to forge bonds of trust as strong as those between the members of the Survey Corps.

August 18 Railgun S Ep. 18 Just because someone has power, it doesn’t mean they’re going to abuse it. Don’t fault others for your own inaction.
Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 6 Rui’s goal sounds courageous, but if he succeeds at making everyone a hero, then everyone would be the same.
KinMosa Ep. 7 As much as the students in anime value their test scores, testing in Japan isn’t actually as important as you would think
Attack on Titan Ep. 19 Trust is something that must be earned and continually preserved. This anime is beginning to slowly regain mine.
August 19 Monogatari 2 Ep. 7 I always find Araragi’s meandering, philosophical conversations to not only be enlightening, but immensely entertaining.
Genshiken Nidaime Ep. 7 I’ve always found it to be oxymoronic that despite otakus’ social dysfunctions, we can relate well with each other.
Day Break Illusion Ep. 7 I was able to appreciate the little references in this otherwise uneventful episode because I live near Nagasaki.
Blood Lad Ep. 7 I think that selfishness isn’t always a bad thing. If you enjoy helping others, on some level you’re doing it for yourself.
August 22 WataMote Ep. 7 The reason this anime resonates with people is because while our whole lives may not be like Tomoko’s we can understand her.
August 23 Servant x Service Ep. 8 I admire Hasebe’s patience. Though if I was in his shoes, I’d also probably be willing to wait two months for a date.
Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen Ep. 8 Yeah, I totally called it. After all, it wasn’t that hard to predict that everything was going to be Jun’s fault.
August 24 Prisma Illya Ep. 7 The way this anime mixes risqué comedy with harsh reality isn’t always the best stylistic choice, but it sure is funny.
Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 7 I really like Hajime as the main character. Most protagonists immediately go for the violent solution, but not her.

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Spring 2013 Wrap-up

This has to have been one of the most up and down seasons of anime since I started writing this blog two years ago.  Several of the anime I had a good feeling about initially ended up turning sour at their conclusions (or in the case of Attack on Titan, the midpoint).  That’s not to say my predictions were totally off, but to see so many fail to meet even my most basic expectations…I’m just at a loss in the wake of this unexpected twist.  There were also a few nice surprises, but they weren’t so Earth-shattering as to overcome the lack of quality that emerged from my other, former top picks.  What follows are my final impressions for spring 2013 and how my ratings changed from the beginning of the season.

Ledo wishes he didn't have to fight1. Suisei no Gargantia (unchanged)

I’m at least glad that my top two picks were spot on.  I expected a story of culture shock on a life-altering scale and I got it and more with some amazing conundrums that challenged my assumptions about the boundaries of morality.

Misaka destroys everything2. A Certain Scientific Railgun (unchanged)

I’d have been very disappointed if this sequel to an anime starring one of my favorite characters had let me down and it didn’t.  Misaka continues to be the honest girl who will never give up in her pursuit of what’s right.

Tsukiko and Yokodera go on a date3. HenNeko (formerly.7)

I’ve heard of never judging a book by its cover, but from now on I guess I have to remember never to judge an anime by its title.  I was expecting a really ecchi comedy series without much substance and what I got was a quirky, yet wonderful romance story punctuated by moments of sheer hilarity.

Izumiko dances to restore balance4. Red Data Girl (formerly.9)

Stories that revolve around Shinto mythology always have a flair for making up their own rules—a sort of free for all with the content of the setting.  So in order to be successful, anime in this genre need to tell a great story with relatable characters, which RDG does very well.

Tohka rages at Origami5. Date A Live (formerly.6)

Harem anime are a dime a dozen, so for one to come along and actually surprise me with some fresh character archetypes, clever writing and a scenario that isn’t about turning some random loser guy into a sex object is worthy of praise.

Eren supports the hope of humanity6. Attack on Titan (formerly.5)

For me, everyone’s favorite series this past season falls a notch to an anime I’m sure many people dismissed. My contentious reason for this is because I feel it’s taking forever to tell its story.  The action is great and the emotional pursuits are moving, but it’s just spread too thin to really, fully satisfy me.

Leviathan fights off a giant lucasite7. Zettai Bouei Leviathan (formerly.10)

KISS (keep it simple, stupid) applies to this surprise hit very appropriately. Dragon girls, a fun-filled adventure, saving the world as a side benefit?  All good stuff that doesn’t need anything deep to overcomplicate it.

Muneakira and Juubei fight together8. Samurai Bride (formerly.13)

Nowhere near the level of smart writing that made the first season of this  fanservice-laden anime stand out, it still did a better job telling its mediocre story than the series that follow.

 

Yuzu spills a drink in Yui's room while Yukari laughs9. Yuyushiki (formerly.8)

I wanted a cute, moe anime and what I got was a repetitive, moe-ish anime.  It’s fine to
have one character deliver all the random thoughts, but that can’t be all there is to make up for the lack of any plot whatsoever.

Hibiki faces Yamato before Polaris10. Devil Survivor 2 (formerly.11)

Don’t watch this. Play the game.  And then after you’ve played that game, you still shouldn’t watch this.  The people who let this go to air should be ashamed of themselves.  That’s all I have to say.

 

Maou Sadou in Emilia's imagination11. Hataraku Maou-sama (formerly.3)

What wasted potential.  The devil works at McDonalds and is thwarted by an angel who works at a call center.  The possibility for comedy was golden, but instead we got a sub-par adventure story that didn’t really go anywhere and was devoid of substance.

Kiri resumes cutting Iwai's hair12. Crime Edge (formerly.4)

A series that was shaping up to be about poetic pairings of opposites that when put together create a  wonderful harmony—tarnished in the end by bad pacing and a lost focus on what made it really cool in the beginning.

Yukino backs up Hikigaya during a tennis match13. OreGairu (unchanged)

OreShura disappointed me last season and only 1/3 of the way in, this was shaping up to be more of the same.  I dropped this at episode 3.

Anime of the Week (7/28 – 8/3)

Anime of the Week – Attack on Titan
We salute the new recruits to the Recon Corps

Courage and pride can only take someone so far. When it really counts, it’s not a matter of bravery or duty that drives the best of us, but the acknowledgement that if someone doesn’t step forward to do what’s right, nobody will.                              

July 28 Attack on Titan Ep. 16 I often complain about the pace of the story, but this series has its moments of courage, determination and insight.
July 29 Day Break Illusion Ep. 4 Someone will always be the winner. But if you brought your A game and still lost, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
KinMoza Ep. 4 A big part of the fun in this anime (for me at least) is listening to the English that’s almost right, but not quite.
KoiChoco Ep. 13 After what was a surprisingly serious series, it’s nice to have a bonus episode where all the characters can let loose.
Genshiken N Ep. 4 I don’t know what others see in doujinshi, but unlike many otaku I’ve never gotten into them, nor would I go to Comiket.
Monogatari 2 Ep. 4 I’m wondering if we’ll ever see Koyomi this season. Perhaps it’s time for those he protected to stand up for themselves?
August 2 WataMote Ep. 4 You know you’ve got cool parents if, when they catch you in a private, “embarrassing” situation, they don’t freak out.
Blood Lad Ep. 4 The names of Staz’s family members are nice word-play, “Blood D” “Blood T” but it’s too bad they won’t work in English.
Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 3 Individual survival is important, but creating a better tomorrow through trust in our fellow man is a worthy goal.
Prisma Illya Ep. 4 Abandon logic and act on imagination. Those are the rules to being a magic girl. Explaining magic only complicates things.
August 3 Railgun S Ep. 17 One of the reasons I love this series is because while the cast is quite large, it never fails to give everyone some time.

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Anime of the Week (7/21 – 7/27)

Anime of the Week – Servant x Service
Yamagami has to put up with Hasebe's flirting

While there is certainly a lot of humor that transcends cultural barriers, I really like the very Japanese-ness of this series. Having experienced Japan (as well as working in a city hall) myself I can appreciate a lot of the silly jokes—such as the section manager that nobody ever sees. For those of you who want to know more about what Japan is really like, pay attention to this anime; you might learn something.

July 21 Gatchaman Crowds Ep. 2 The simplicity of the story clearly shows it’s meant for a younger audience, but I still like it for some reason.
Attack on Titan Ep. 15 I thought we established the Recon Corps was full of weirdos seven episodes ago. More time wasted stating the obvious.
July 22 Blood Lad Ep. 3 Good themes of standing up for those who can’t protect themselves and bad guys going against their nature to do what’s right.
KinMoza Ep. 3 Being able to read the atmosphere of social situations is one of the hardest things for a foreigner to learn about Japan.
Monogatari 2 Ep. 3 Sometimes I feel like I could watch this franchise just to see how Tsukihi’s hairstyle changes as the story progresses.
Genshiken N Ep. 3 If only people could be honest with their hobbies, they wouldn’t have to make personas in order to hide their true selves.
Servant x Service Ep. 3 Back when I was younger and I worked boring jobs, like Hasebe I was also good at finding hiding places to slack off.
Neptunia Ep. 2 Yeah…turning the major game systems into anime girls is about as lame of a story premise as I imagined it would be.
Stella C3-bu Ep. 3 As antagonists go, Rin Haruna is the kind that I despise—dragging unrelated parties into her vendetta against Sonora.
July 23 Day Break Illusion Ep. 2 People were comparing this anime to Madoka and while I can see the similarities, my interest hasn’t increased.
KamiNai Ep. 2 While this anime has an interesting concept, it’s getting bogged down by explaining everything instead of telling a story.
Rozen Maiden Z Ep. 2 I’m glad I didn’t dismiss this as a boring reboot of the original. It’s proving to be an interesting alternate timeline.
Love Lab Ep. 2 There’s so much underhandedness going on that the story can’t move forward. I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to be about.
KamiNomi Tenri Ep. 1 I’m only watching this to get context for Megami. I’m not a fan of OVAs that are required to watch the main series.
Devil Survivor 2 Ep. 9 Taking forever to get started and rushing to the end—I knew 13 episodes couldn’t give this story the proper treatment.
Devil Survivor 2 Ep. 10 I’m glad at least Io got her good ending where everything else in this series seemed to go down the bad route.
Prisma Illya Ep. 3 This anime may be intentionally cliché but at least it’s emphasizing the good parts of magic girls and still having fun.
WataMote Ep. 3 At first I thought Tomoko was the victim of the people around her, but she actually brings a lot of her grief upon herself.
Rozen Maiden Z Ep. 3 If something truly miraculous happened before my eyes, I wonder if my rational, adult mind would be able to accept it.
July 24 Day Break Illusion Ep. 3 Ok yeah, I’ll admit there’s some interesting moral quandaries in this series. And I was ready to dismiss it on ep 1.
Devil Survivor 2 Ep. 11 I’ve found that MegaTen anime just can’t capture the suspense of a final boss fight the way the video games do.
July 25 KamiNomi Tenri Ep. 2 What a worthless OVA. It’s only tangentially related to the established plot, and it also has no real conclusion.
Devil Survivor 2 Ep. 12 Based on the way the rest of this series had been going, I fully expected this turn of events. Sadly predictable.
Devil Survivor 2 Ep. 13 For as bad as the rest of the series was, the ending was shaping up to be pretty cool until it turned thick.
July 26 Strike Witches Movie 1 It’s more of the over-the-top silly and straight-faced series I’ve come to love, but it’s a beginning without an end.
KamiNai Ep. 3 I’m not sure I like how fast this first story arc has finished. I would have liked to have gotten to know everyone better.
July 27 Stella C3-bu Ep. 4 Breaking gender stereotypes was enough, but now this anime has gone over the top by altering history through imagination.
Rozen Maiden Z Ep. 4 It’s interesting to see the differences and similarities between Shinku’s reactions towards young Jun and adult Jun.
Servant x Service Ep. 4 There are differences between coworker camaraderie, flirting and sexual harassment and I’m glad this anime knows that.
Railgun S Ep. 16 Why would Accelerator punch Kamijou when just a few minutes earlier in the fight ranged attacks were working just fine?

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