Friday, April 11, 2014

The Top Ten Anime of 2013

Here it is: my ten favorite anime of 2013.

These shows need no more introduction. Let's get this started.




#10. Monogatari Series Second Season
Rating: 9.6/10.0


"…and now I've lost all credibility for calling Araragi a pervert."
I'm already starting off the top ten with a huge title. The Monogatari series has long been one of the strongest series overall in terms of overall writing and artistry, and this latest season only makes things better. With great characters and some incredibly creative writing, plus SHAFT's usual fascinating animation style, this show sets a high bar for just how good a show can be on its own merits.

Something like the Monogatari series is hard to really explain outside of saying that you really have to watch it yourself to really understand what it's like. More than anything, Monogatari is a unique experience in anime, one where fascinating characters, witty dialogue and human nature come together to create a mystical tale that is perfectly capable of stirring the heart as well as the eyes.

#9. KINMOZA! (Kin-iro Mosaic)
Rating: 9.6/10.0


You'd be nervous too if a foreigner invaded your desk space territory.
The first of several slice-of-life shows featuring cute girls in the top 10, Kin-iro Mosaic is (pun intended) the gold standard of such shows. With cute girls, great humor, and a nice overall theme of having fun with friends, this show has everything fans of such shows love, while also being a fun enough show that non-fans might still enjoy it. It's still an acquired taste, to be sure, but if you want to see if this is a taste you want to acquire, this is a good show to sample.

Certainly, it's the first episode that really stands out, as I talked about earlier, but even past that, there's plenty of fun to be had in this show with its cross-cultural theme. Whether it be amusing language puns, cultural misunderstandings, or perhaps getting just a bit too much into foreign stuff, this show is definitely an east meets west affair. And don't forget the very... interesting finale!

10/10 shows - These are among my absolute favorite shows of all time. Some of these, I might consider "masterpiece" shows; others are simply shows that have just the perfect feel to it or have resonated with me in all the right ways that they have become favorites of mine. 

#8. Yuyushiki
Rating: 9.7/10.0


Sounds like 80% of male American Idol contestants.
Yet another great show featuring cute girls just having fun with life. This show has some fun additional themes in it: the "search random things on the internet" aspect makes for a surprisingly educational experience, and the relationship between the girls, as well as with a secondary group of girls, also plays a large part in this show, giving it some extra heart (and shipping fuel for yuri fans).

If there's one thing, though, that this show is unbeatable at, it is in portraying the simple joy of having fun in life with friends. This is a show that excels at putting a smile on your face from the first to the last minute. And of course, it is an incredibly funny show, so it succeeds there, too. This is definitely one of best of its type of show.

#7. Non Non Biyori
Rating: 9.7/10.0


"This will scare away any talking male protagonists!"
Every once in a while, a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show breaks past the confines of its genre to present a show that can appeal to the greater audience at an artistic level. This is what Non Non Biyori manages to do, by taking place in a rural area far away from many of life's modern conveniences. Certainly, there's plenty to love for fans of the genre, with cute girls, great comedy, and a fun time overall, so the show definitely has that going for it already.

If you look past the cute girls and their silly antics, what you find is a portrayal of a special way of life. The lives of these residents is in many ways a simpler one, shown well as newcomer Hotaru has to learn to get used to it. It's also slowly disappearing, shown by the school with only five students and the various siblings and friends of the characters that have moved to the city. And in the backdrop of it all is some very nice scenery of the countryside. All this contributes to the iyashikei feel of the show, and makes it a nice tribute to rural life that is a pleasant experience for those of us who are used to the fast-paced urban lifestyle.

#6. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo)
Rating: 9.7/10.0


"I'm not letting you star in a cliché anime series!"
Proving once and for all that shows cannot be judged by their names or by their first episodes, Sakurasou was definitely the biggest surprise of the year. The show had a weak start, but overcame it to portray a series that explores what it means to be an artist, whether that art be drawing/painting, voice acting, designing video games, or some other kind of creative endeavor. As a writer myself, I definitely had some personal attachment to this show, and the theme does get explored quite deeply, allowing for some very nice emotional moments in the show.

Relationships are yet another strong part of this show. There are several strong one-to-one relationships shown in the show, including my favorite romance of the year, plus a nice sense of overall togetherness among the residents of the titular dorm. And the characters individually are great, too. This is just an amazing show overall, and really does deserve a greater audience that is willing to look past what the title of the show might imply.

#5. Outbreak Company
Rating: 9.7/10.0


Titan fever: the epidemic has spread to fantasy worlds!
It takes something special to take a concept that is clearly pandering to otaku and turn it into an entertaining series with some surprisingly meaningful depth to it. Certainly, with its bevy of references and heavy otaku-based comedy, the show is still very much an otaku's show, but there's much more to this show than that. The fantasy world that Shinichi has been tasked to bring the otaku culture to has its own cultural quirks, not all of which are good, and the reaction of the part of the culture that gets exposed to anime and manga is quite interesting to watch. The characters are great and develop well over the course of the show, and their relationships are great to watch.

This is also one of a number of shows in the top 10 that earn their high scores from aspects in the show that are very reminiscent of or applicable to Christianity. In this case, note that Shinichi is referred to by the empress Petralka as a "missionary" of otaku culture, and the connection here is easy enough to make that I was able to write an entire post about it. (And don't forget to check out my other post about hikkikomori inspired by this show!) This is a show that has a lot of depth to it while also being lots of fun and incredibly funny--definitely worthy of being one of the top 5 shows of the year.

#4. Silver Spoon (Gin no Saji)
Rating: 9.7/10.0


This show is the ultimate in (pig) moe.
First of all, this score and mini-review only covers the first season of the anime, which aired in Summer 2013. The first season sets the stage for the growth of Yuugo Hachiken, a city boy who for various reasons ends up in an agricultural school located far from civilization. There's definitely at least some charm of this story from learning about farm life and all of its various aspects. It's not just the more fun aspects that are covered, but also some aspects that are fairly tough to think about, such as the fact that animals are raised to be killed for their meat. These subjects are treated neither with over-sentimentalism nor with over-depressing angst, but instead with a simple respect for the reality of farm life.

All this is possible thanks to the original material, written by Hiromu Arakawa, best known for being the creator of the original Fullmetal Alchemist manga--and while the tone of this manga is completely different from that, the same high quality writing comes through here. It's not just the farm life aspects as previously mentioned, but also the amazing cast of characters and their growth throughout the show. And this is just for the first season, which, as amazing as it is, is still just setting things up for an even more incredible second season...

#3. Tamayura ~more aggressive~
Rating: 9.8/10.0


Don't worry, you're in an anime; it'll all work out somehow.
Tamayura is one of those series that works by being gently paced and nice and heartwarming, without trying to go for too grand of a plot--the hallmark of an iyashikei show. The director of this series, Jun'ichi Sato, is well-known for directing the pinnacle of iyashikei shows, the ARIA series (also my absolute favorite anime series of all time), and while that work was based off an existing manga, this work is completely an original creation of his. Starting from an OVA series and expanding into a full TV season in 2011, this show is a sweet little story about how a girl comes to terms with the death of her father thanks to the camera that he left behind, as well as friends in her father's hometown.

This second season takes things a step further by introducing a new character and allowing main character Fuu "Potte" Sawatari to take up a leadership role for the school's photography club, furthering her growth as a person. Her friends are still there for her, and she also has a chance to grow closer with old friends that she had left behind when she moved. All in all, this show is an incredibly beautiful show, which just makes it all the more depressing that it was one of the few shows of the past year that never got a legal stream in the US.

#2. Gingitsune
Rating: 9.8/10.0


"Psst… in the last fanfic I wrote about you, you…"
Being a slice-of-life in a Shinto-religion environment, Gingitsune has a lot of the strengths of other slice-of-life shows in the top 10. Great characters with some surprisingly good development, funny comedy, and a nice relaxing feel to it. The Shinto elements work well here, too, adding an extra fantasy feel to all of this. These factors all work towards making this show a solid work right away.

Again, though, this show gets its top 10 spot not just from its innate strengths, but also for its aspects that can relate to Christianity. Despite being of a different religion, the show's focus on the relationship between the heralds and the oracles that can see them can be surprisingly reminiscent of a Christian's relationship to God. Going into this show from that perspective, this show has become something rather special to me, which is why it is my #2 favorite show of 2013.

But what show stands above it, and every other show that aired in 2013?

#1. AKB0048 next stage
Rating: 9.8/10.0


Who needs baseball when you can sing against oppressive totalitarian government regimes?
First of all, this show has numerous innate strengths: an overall solid sci-fi story with good writing, plenty of fun idol music, dancing, and fighting, and a great overall cast of characters with good development. The plot in the second season gets quite serious, leading to an absolutely epic finale that really goes all out. On its own, AKB0048 is an incredibly entertaining show that proves to be worthy of being from the same creator as Macross.

But as for being the best show of 2013... well, that can only come from something particularly special... such as connections to Christianity. Like Outbreak Company, this show feels a lot like a story about missionaries, albeit this time, missionaries in hostile areas. And with this perspective, suddenly this show is no longer just about a bunch of idols trying to perform in the face of opposition; it's a story about a group trying to spread their message of love to a world determined to silence that message. It's a show where personal growth means more than just becoming the best idol, even if the characters sometimes forget that. It is shows like this that represent what A Series of Miracles is all about: even in the most unexpected places, a show can represent God's truths and go beyond its innate strengths to become my favorite show of the year--and that is nothing short of a small miracle.

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And that's it for the Best Anime of 2013! See you next year, when... I probably won't do something this big again, because this took way too long. Maybe just the list of all the anime of the year that I watched and a quick Top 10, plus maybe some musical rankings just because. This was fun, though, and I hope you enjoyed seeing what I like--and don't like--in anime.

4 comments:

  1. I didn't complete ANY of these series! I really wish I had time to go back and watch Silver Spoon, though! I only saw the opening episode.

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  2. Have to say that you have really biased taste. We all do of course, but I haven't actually even seen any of these shows. 2013 was one of the worst years in anime for me personally. It's probably a good list for someone though.

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  3. Yeah, I am under no illusion that my tastes are heavily biased and that most people have probably seen at most two of the shows on my list.

    I'll say this, though: of all the shows on this list, if there was one show I say you really should watch if you haven't already, regardless of tastes, it'd be Silver Spoon. So go watch that. :P

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  4. WTH!!!
    if these are the top 10 anime 2013 then ur choice is the worst i've ever seen......
    Silver spoon and sakurasou and monagatri 2nd season are fine..

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