Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Best Anime of 2013: #20-#11

It's time to get into the top 20! And because we are starting to get into the really good shows, pictures will start appearing in this section, starting from #17 when the 9/10 shows start. There will also be a bonus section where I talk about my favorite short series of 2013, as well as the one movie of 2013 that I watched.

No reason to delay this any further. Let's get started.

#20. The World God Only Knows: Goddesses (Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen)
Rating: 8.6/10.0

This is a show I have always been a fan of, and this latest season has been the best of them all. The new threat of Old Hell creates a situation that forces Keima to view his mission in a new perspective, as he is no longer motivated by just trying to complete his job, but now also to protect the girls that he had previously conquered. Furthermore, he is no longer relatively unaffected by his own emotions as he faces the girls. And the girls themselves also have to deal with their feelings for Keima, and considering the situation, it is not always a pretty picture.

Of course, if you want the classic KamiNomi fun of using dating sim logic to win the hearts of real-life girls, there's still plenty of that. Making things more interesting is how Keima must now try to win over multiple hearts at once, and the fact that a lot of his dating sim logic is starting to fail him in the real world. Oh, and there's also a battle between Old Hell, and New Hell and the angels of Heaven, for an extra fantastical element to the show. All this adds up to the a great season, scoring 0.5 points higher than previous seasons.

#19. Haganai NEXT (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT)
Rating: 8.7/10.0

The first season of Haganai was at times crude, at times rather touching, and at (most) times absolutely hilarious. The second season is still about as crude and just about as hilarious, while significantly upping the touching times. (As in, the heartfelt moments, not the physical touching, though there's still some of that too.) With additional developments for all the various characters, especially some of the supporting ones, this second season is a marked improvement over the first and should satisfy those looking for a bit more of a meaningful story out of all the harem hijinks.

Again, though, there are plenty of hijinks to be had, and if it is a good laugh you are after, there is no shortage of that. The show's problems are still that the crudeness can be off-putting at times, and Yozora is still by and large rather unlikable, though the reduced focus on her this season helps make that less of an issue. Overall, these flaws are rather minor, especially compared to the large improvements the show makes on its characters, especially in taking my least favorite character of the first season, Rika, and turning her into my favorite character this season.

#18. The Devil is a Part-Timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!)
Rating: 8.7/10.0

There's a lot to like about a show like this that, above all else, is just flat-out enjoyable. Whether it is having a very likable cast overall, milking its absurd premise for all of its comedic potential, having its heartfelt moments, or having some great action scenes when it is time for the former hero and demon king to battle the forces of evil (regardless of which side said evil actually comes from), this show has all the elements necessary for a highly entertaining show.

Despite its high rank, there really is not much to say otherwise about this show. It has its missteps, but they don't really matter much in light of the overall good feel of the show. It leaves many things unresolved, but sales have been great for this show so a second season is very much possible. Overall, this is just a great show to recommend to almost any anime fan.

#17-#8: 9/10 shows ("Excellent") - These shows are ones that I love a lot. They represent the most memorable shows of 2013, and are ones I will remember for a long while. Many of these shows are specific to my tastes, hence why it will be dominated by comedies, slice-of-life shows, and the like.

#17. Minami-ke Tadaima!
Rating: 9.0/10.0

Maid fights are not common, but not out of place either.
The show that leads off the 9/10 shows is one that has been around for a long time, going all the way back to 2007 when the first season aired. Through its four seasons it has changed hands into different studios each time, ending up in Studio feel.'s charge for the fourth season that aired in winter of last year. And they have done a great job in making this season the best one yet of the series. Some of that is simply a case of the show having grown on me the more I've seen of it; getting to know the show's large and varied cast more and more makes the show feel like hanging out with a bunch of old friends (who play off each other in all the right ways).

Of course, there are the actual merits of this show. Chief among them is how absolutely hilarious it is; the show knows how to make the most out of its varied cast and their interactions with each other to create all sorts of humorous situations, and then it executes them with perfect timing. The show also has its share of more heartfelt moments--always an important thing in really good comedies, in my opinion. It's overall an excellent show and easily worth the fourth season it got, and would definitely be worth a fifth season as well. Just don't expect anything to actually happen with the show's rather convoluted love polygon...

#16. The Eccentric Family (Uchouten Kazoku)
Rating: 9.1/10.0

Lion-tanuki and tiger-tanuki and bites in bare nether-regions, oh my!
P.A. Works is an animation studio best known for their incredible animation quality, which is why a show like this that trades in their usual luscious style for something far simpler and more stylized might raise some eyebrows at first. However, the show behind the style is one that is very befitting of this style, and is overall an incredibly good show in and of itself. The whimsical feel of the show is its highlight, as various tanuki, tengu, and some humans cause all sorts of havoc. Toward the second half, this havoc becomes a full-blown political war (and one where very dirty tricks get played), which leads to some particularly crazy events.

But of course, the show has "family" (or the Japanese word for it) in its title, and family is also a major theme in the show, as the four brothers and their mother have to come to terms with the death of their father and help each other out in times of need. This, along with the lead character's relationship with the mysterious Benten, part of the very group responsible for their father's death, provides this show's most heartfelt moments, and are what really make this show so great--if there's a reason this show hasn't ranked any higher, it's because all the political warfare of the second half wasn't quite as compelling in comparison. Overall, though, this show is definitely one of the standout shows of 2013 and is definitely recommended to those looking for something different (and good) from anime.

#15. Kotoura-san
Rating: 9.2/10.0

Dispelling the assumption that this is just some silly ecchi comedy, one screencap at a time.
For what looked like it was going to be just a stupid ecchi comedy about a pervert and the mind-reader that must deal with him, this show likely shocked a lot of viewers with its surprisingly poignant first episode, revealing its true nature: a rather heartfelt romantic comedy about a girl who has been ostracized for her mind-reading ability, and how one guy (who happens to be a pervert) helps her feel like she belongs. To be fair, there are still plenty of times when it is just a silly comedy (with ecchi-ness in the guy's perverted delusions), and the story does not always quite execute itself in the best ways, hence why this show did not score quite as high as it could have (early on, it was a contender for one of the best shows of the year). Still, this show has a lot to love about it.

In addition to the overall good feel of the show, this show has a lot of other great elements to it. It has probably one of the best redemptions of a character in anime (especially given its genre), in turning a vindictively antagonistic girl in Hiyori into an important and caring friend, without making the transition feel awkward. And when the show does do comedy, it can be incredibly funny. All this adds up to a show that proves that 4-komas and their adaptations need not be devoid of a serious story, or the heart that comes from such.

#14. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come ga Machigatteiru.)
Rating: 9.3/10.0

Not pictured: one guy for whom this scene will never happen with.
This show is one I have covered a fair amount before, and in many ways, I am just reiterating what I have said before in my review of the show. Basically, in taking all of the standard rom-com elements and twisting them up in various ways, the result is a surprisingly genuine story that is not afraid to simply let its characters be true to themselves. The resulting story might not be the happiest feel-good rom-com out there, but it does have a good feel to it. And the characters, for all of their dysfunctionality, do grow and develop, even if just by the smallest bit.

In addition, while this youth romantic comedy might have been wrong, it is still a comedy, and a hilarious one at that. Whether it is Hachiman's monologues that cut right into the world's social norms, the verbal jabs he and Yukino trade with each other, the trials of dealing with the rather girly-guy Saika, or any of the other character interactions that populate this show, it does know how to get out a good laugh. All in all, this is a show that turned out quite well, and proves that there is still plenty of life in the high school romantic comedy genre.

#13. Tamako Market
Rating: 9.4/10.0

"If oversized birds are on your cup line and impeding communications, please press one."
Kyoto Animation's first original animation project of the year is one of those feel-good slice-of-life shows that you will love if you are a fan of the genre, and if not, you might be wondering why I've ranked it so high. But as a fan of such shows, this show was right up my alley, with a fun, colorful cast and plenty of funny moments. There are some semblances of a story here and there, but this show is mainly just vignettes of daily life (albeit with a large talking bird), which is just fine for me.

What makes this show work the most is how it makes me feel like I am part of the shopping arcade and the extended family therein. This is a particular strength of slice-of-life shows that focus around a certain place of residence, whether it be an apartment/dorm or, in this case, a shopping arcade. It's this aspect that tends to make me rate these shows highly, and Tamako Market is a great example of that.

#12. Little Busters! & Little Busters! Refrain
Rating: 9.5/10.0

"Is this how old ladies that keep a ton of cats first get started on that road?"
This entry covers both seasons of the show as one overall show; while Refrain is where the really good stuff is, it depends greatly on the foundation that the first season laid. And the first season, which would score an 8.9/10.0 on its own, is still plenty good. Despite lacking the animation polish of studios that have adapted past Key works, and despite the quality of the story arcs varying wildly (a problem with the original visual novel), the show still has some great emotional moments. Even more than that, though, is the extent to which the show makes the most of its theme of friendship. With a great cast overall and the guys getting plenty of attention alongside the girls, this show has a very special feel to it that I rather like.

And it is on this theme of friendship that the Refrain! season builds its success on. Of course, there are some major revelations involved (which I was unfortunately spoiled on to some extent a long time ago) if mystery and fantastical, tragic Key-type stories are what you want. But it is the presentation of small arcs for the guys, and the ultimate fulfillment of the theme of friendship in the finale, that is why I love Little Busters! so much.

#11. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Gargantia)
Rating: 9.5/10.0

"This strange portable resource container? It's called a bucket."
Going into this show knowing that it is scripted by the infamous Gen Urobochi of Madoka Magica fame, one might not expect this show to be so… happy. (Personally, I prefer it that way.) Mind you, there are plenty of moments that will likely shock you, showing that even in overall positive shows, the Urobutcher is not above some good ol' shock value. And of course, if there's one other thing Urobochi specializes in, it is in exploring human nature through stories, and it is here that Gargantia shines, with plenty of looks at what really defines humanity, thanks to one stranger who comes from a rather inhumane society.

A couple of problems do keep the show from being an outright masterpiece, mainly due to there simply not being enough episodes to fully explore the world of the show, as well as forcing an extended time during which co-star Amy loses some focus. Despite these problems, though, what we got from this show was definitely great to see, and there seems to be more coming (whether that is a second TV season or a sequel movie/OVA has yet to be determined), which makes it all the better that Gargantia can have such a high ranking on my list.


Extra: The Best Shorts (And The One Movie) of 2013

Here, I talk about all the short series I watched in 2013, as well as the one movie I watched. One short series has clearly distinguished itself as the best short series out there, so look out for it.

#7. Recorder to Randsell Mi - This series can be kind of depressing, since early onset puberty is a real problem that this show likes to play up for laughs a bit too much. It is helped this season, though, by at least a little bit less in the way of unfair accusations. It's still just okay for a short series, serving its purpose in giving short 3-minute breaks in anime viewing. Rating: 6.1/10.0

#6. Puchim@s! - Probably the "longest" of the short series, lasting for about 65 full episodes, even though each episode is only 2.5 minutes long, and 1.5 of those minutes are OP, recap, and preview. That so little comparatively is actually dedicated to new show stuff can be tiring, and the humor isn't always quite on point, but for IDOLM@STER fans, this is a fun diversion (with a second season coming in Spring). Rating: 6.2/10.0

#5. Tekyuu! (Seasons 2 & 3) - This one goes by really fast, with incredibly rapid fire jokes that frequently go all over the place. It's a fun little show, though one I can't really say much else about. Rating: 6.6/10.0

#4. Miss Monochrome - Aside from being a show to listen to a robotized Yui Horie, Miss Monochrome also does various things ranging from the fun to the crazy to the surprisingly heartfelt. Again, though, I don't really have much to say about it. Rating: 6.8/10.0

#3. Aiura

#2. Super Seisyun Brothers

As it turns out, both the #1 short series and the one movie I watched tied in score. So, here they are...

Movie: The Garden of Words (Kotonoha no Niwa)
Rating: 9.2/10.0

Food tastes much better when tinted with green light.
If I had to describe this show in one word, it would be "beautiful". Quite possibly the single most artistic anime I've seen, this movie's art, animation, and soundtrack are all top-notch. In terms of sheer sensual experience, this movie is simply amazing and worth the watch. Of course, great visuals and music only goes so far without a good story behind it. Thankfully, this movie's story, while not particularly standout, is plenty good enough to make the most of its artistic merits, especially given the relatively short runtime (only about 45 minutes). All in all, this is probably my favorite Makoto Shinkai movie.

#1. Encouragement of Climb (Yama no Susume)
Rating: 9.2/10.0

"Wow. This scenery is really impressive… considering it's just your backyard."
And here it is, my favorite short series ever. Yama no Susume is a combination of many things: a tale of friendship between girls, an educational show about various aspects of mountaineering, and a nice iyashikei show with some beautiful mountain-based scenery. All this adds up to an incredibly pleasant viewing experience that makes one wonder what if this show could be a full-length show. Well, wonder no longer; this summer, Yama no Susume is returning, and as a two-cour (~25 episodes) series of 15-minute episodes--about eight times the original runtime. Needless to say, this is my most anticipated show of 2014.


This series is almost done! Next time I close things up with the Top Ten, and say goodbye to what has been an incredible year for anime.

No comments:

Post a Comment