2013 has obviously been not as good as 2012 (as seen by my 1 year hiatus). There just wasn’t enough quality anime going around and the seasons where I was expecting a lot (Spring, Fall) just didn’t produce enough. Winter Season is almost non-existent if not for Chihayafuru 2. Well even though this year sucked a bit, there are obviously still a lot of good shows produced and here is my personal top 10 from 2013.
Note that these series probably would have made the cut but I haven’t finished watching it yet: Silver Spoon, Jojo, Monogatari S2, Uchoten Kazoku
Also, here are my recommended titles of 2013 that just didn’t make the cut for the top 10: Rozen Maiden 2013 (amazing start, got a bit too complicated towards the end), Robotics;Notes (I was ready to defend this in my top 10 but it really did crash towards the end), Hataraku Maou-sama (A surprisingly funny and clever series), Gargantia (couldn’t keep up after an insanely stellar beginning), Haganai 2 (better than the first), Aku no Hana (Artistic style is not what bogged it down, it’s the pacing), Yahari blablabla (Decent LN adaptation for once)
10. Psycho Pass
This last spot was insanely hard to pick because 3 other shows could’ve been here if I was in a different mood. Evidently I chose Psycho Pass because of how solid its narrative structure was and how cyberpunk it was without coming off as too pretentious. I say its narrative structure is solid because it knew exactly what it was doing. It knew when to build the characters, the right time where the climax will be built up, and where the plot twists should be plotted. It’s written and directed really solidly. The cyberpunk theme didn’t get too overloaded (well it almost did with the amount of references it gave to other cyberpunk utopian novels) because it focused more on moral themes than with complicated terminologies. It focused more on what was happening inside the minds of Akane and the police force and that really is the meat of the series.
It might seem like a Natsume Yuujinchou rip-off with Natsume being replaced by a moe genki girl, it is not. This series has a surprising amount of heart and that was more than enough to win me over. Anime about Shinto is almost always extremely likable and Gingitsune hits the sweet spot. The characters (almost everyone of them) are extremely likable and I like the fact that most of them are given enough depth to not be one-dimensional (a similar trait that I see in Chihayafuru). I mean who would have thought that an episode with the driver liking a teenage girl wouldn’t come off as pedophilic?
8. Genshiken Nidaime
This is the sequel to the otakus-in-real-life anime except they’ve replaced all the characters with fujoshis. Surprisingly (and contrary to how others felt), the difference in focus of this season is actually why this series managed to stay entertaining and meaningful. Or maybe because they focused on the fujoshi trap Hato and his/her escapades with Madarame. We also got the rightful conclusion to Madarame’s one-sided love story with Saki and I can’t thank Genshiken Nidaime enough for making me witness that.
7. Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!
Being an adaptation of one of my favorite comedy manga, the anime sure did justice in effectively portraying Tomoko’s character, which is what the entire show is about. She’s a sad loner but most of the things that make her isolated are self-inflicted. The show is a bit sadistic in a sense that we get pleasure from seeing Tomoko fail in fitting in society but what makes it great is, at the same time, you feel sorry for Tomoko. It’s a well-crafted series that knows the right balance between being funny and being sympathetic and seriously, not many comedies can do this (or even attempt).
6. Zetsuen no Tempest
When I watched the first episode of Zetsuen no Tempest, I automatically dropped it because I thought it was pretentious as hell. After a few months of it airing, I heard many good things about this series so I decided to give it a second chance. Thank god I did because I ended up loving it immensely.
Zetsuen no Tempest has clear two halves, the first half being good and the second half being amazing. The first half was fairly serious and dramatic. It was honestly hard to get into since, as I’ve said, I thought it was fairly pretentious but as the episodes move on, this series started growing on me. It came to a point in which I totally didn’t mind the mid-season episodes where they were pretentiously and intensely debating about the fate of the world in front of a tree.
The second half though is why Zetsuen no Tempest is in this list. There are a number of series that I know that have a trend on starting lively and becoming more and more serious as it goes on (To Aru Kagaku no Railgun and the Sisters Arc is an example of this) but rarely have I seen an anime that started out as serious and slowly became something very funny. That is what Zetsuen no Tempest this. Because of this, I finally became fully invested in the characters (even the dead girl) and even if the ending was admittedly non-fulfilling, I accepted it whole-heartedly because what mattered in the end for me were the characters (which I have to emphasize is surprising because of how it started). Definitely did not expect this landing in my Top 10.
5. White Album 2
This (and the ongoing Golden Time) was a pleasant gift that I wasn’t expecting to get back when I was checking out Fall anime. I did not expect some kind of renaissance of Romance anime especially with WA 2 with its well-portrayed high school characters. I actually don’t know when was the last time I saw a romance anime of this caliber.
What is surprising about it is that I really did not think this anime would be what it became. It is based on a “sequel-not-really” Visual Novel from the same name. That had an adaptation too, one, which not many people watched or liked. Who knew they could portray a love triangle this well. That’s the beauty of this series (in an honestly morbid way): Three characters who became the best of friends but it couldn’t be that way after all. What happens to the other girl (you’ll have to watch to know who) when her two friends start dating? How do you all stay friends when none of you can stay neutral? It was an impending doom from the start and what a wonderfully well-crafted doom it is. The last 4-5 episodes are also some of the best string of episodes I’ve seen in a while.
4. Chihayafuru 2
Chihayafuru 2 is a direct continuation of the first season and it really is, more or less, the same. Chihayafuru, if I haven’t mentioned it before, has this unique trait to it, which is the ability to make me care about almost all of the characters it introduces. I don’t know how they do it but most of the characters they introduce are never one-dimensional. Chihayafuru always gives them something, either some kind of flashback or some sort of drive that automatically makes me care for them if a little bit.
It’s also not just that they make flashbacks, it’s the way they are made. Every character, the more they are focused on, the more human they become. These factors are especially important for this season of Chihayafuru (season 3 pls) as it focuses on almost never ending Karuta matches. The focus isn’t solely on Chihaya and her team this time; it’s more spread out to the different opponents that the Mizusawa team faces.
3. Shingeki no Kyojin
I think the amount of anticipation I had for this series was pretty clear. I made a post about it in my 12 Days of Christmas last year. This show was the super mega block buster anime that everyone expected it to be and not only that, it really managed to not be overrated as (at least in my eyes) it completely deserves all the attention it got and is still getting.
Shingeki no Kyojin is what you’d expect from what people continuously tell you about it: It’s action-oriented, intense, depressing, and just something that brings something different to the plethora of shounen anime out there. If you were not amazed/traumatized/perplexed/question your existence when watching soldiers go all spider-man on a semi-medieval setting only to be killed by derpy looking naked giants, well you were probably lying.
2. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Sisters Arc)
If you haven’t noticed in my blog (which I have not update for almost a year), To Aru Kagaku no Railgun is one of my most beloved anime with Mikoto Misaka being one of my favorite characters of all time. There’s a reason why? For what started out as fan pandering spin-off, Railgun became its own identity to the point of eclipsing its original source (To Aru Majutsu no Index).
This second season though showed us the Sisters Arc, which is a retelling of an established arc in To Aru Majutsu no Index through a different point of view. I read the manga so I instantly knew what I was up for but what I wasn’t expecting was the near-flawless execution JC Staff gave to it. Everything: the animation, the deliberate pacing, Mikoto Misaka’s descent to madness, Accelerator, ITEM, the sudden introduction of Touma, the bridge scene – it was even better than what I had imagined.
It’s hard to recommend Railgun now though now that there are almost 100 episodes of the To Aru franchise and that I was willing to just plain ignore the second half of this season just to glorify how amazing the Sisters Arc is, but if you’ve watched the first season of Railgun and have background on the Index franchise and you weren’t too fond of either or both, I assure you that Railgun’s Sisters Arc will change all that.
1. From the New World (Shin Sekai Yori)
The last time an anime broke into My top 10 favorites was Puella Magi Madoka Magica back 2 years ago. That was an insanely popular anime, which I thought totally deserved its popularity. It was a tightly written story, which had a strong direction (how one moment was deliberately set-up for the next).
Now 2 years later, I’m adding another anime in my top 10 list with probably the same reasons I had with Madoka Magica. From The New World is based on this really long sci-fi Novel (note not Light Novel, that’s an important note) that won an award in Japan. From my history Japanese novel anime adaptations (there aren’t many . . . actually was it really only Seirei no Moribito?), they tend to have really good stories in them and From the New World is no exception.
I think there is no question that From the New World’s story is utterly fantastic. There’s just so much depth and detail in its content that’s hard not to appreciate. It also gives us so many questions that are almost life-changing in a way, most particularly the last episode.
Now let’s focus on that last episode which was one of the biggest reason why From The New World jumped into my Top 10 anime of all time. Kind of like Madoka’s 10th episode, simply put, it was amazing. It ended with such a strong message that every question this series introduced was answered (at least the questions that mattered for me at least). Not only that, the contents of that episode (which if I talked more about would be super duper heavy spoiler) had me perplexed for almost a day and had me thinking about how this world works in general. What is war really? Is it not just two sides hurting each other? Many stories have had the whole “War is terrible” angle in them but there aren’t many that hit me the way this show did.
It also has to be mentioned how everything, the music, the production, the art, the animation . . . it was groundbreaking. The way this anime is made is totally different from what you usually see and it fits its story, which is totally different from most anime you see.
Honestly, I have no more words for this series besides “Thank You to the people who made it” (as if I haven’t done that already). This is one of those series that rarely comes by in a decade and I’m glad to have been able to witness watching it on a weekly basis.
So yeah, I haven’t posted in a year and this isn’t me going back and blogging. I really just wanted to get my mind out on what I liked this year so I had to typed this down. I’m honestly not sure when I’ll be back blogging. RL is putting quite a toll on me to the point where I’m not even watching as much anime as I used too (hence the absence of really good series like Jojo and Silver Spoon) so what more to blogging. I’ll definitely come back to Traveler on Revenge but not in the near future.
Happy New Year!