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Fall 2013 Wrap-up

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.

Iona and Gunzou1. Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio (9/10)

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.

Manaka gets caught by Tsumugu again2. Nagi no Asu Kara (ongoing)

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.

Haruki, Setsuna and Tomua3. White Album 2 (7/10)

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.

Fino is ready, Raul looks incredulous4. Yuushibu (7/10)

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.

Mirai Kuriyama smiles5. Kyoukai no Kanata (7/10)

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.

I prefer Hitagi with long hair as opposed to short hair6. Monogatari Series (7/10)

What started several years ago as a grand philosophical comedy has devolved into a rather ordinary (but still supernatural) drama punctuated by moments of clarity and insight.  Koyomi Araragi’s diminishing presence in the series as the voice of reason when things get out of hand is nonetheless still very strong and the problems the characters face capture the imagination as only Nishio Ishin can do.

The Little Busters gang goes on a road trip7. Little Busters Refrain (6/10)

What began as a direct continuation of the story about a happy group of young adults playing baseball together turned dark and brooding really quick.  At several points I got lost and while that may have been the intention to get the viewers in the mindset of Riki, when we finally found out what was going on, it was hardly groundbreaking.  As much as I love Key, they really need to get some new moves in their playbook.

Raishin and Yaya battle together8. Unbreakable Machine Doll (5/10)

What initially attracted me to this anime was the art style (the character designer is the same person who did OreShura).  However, while it had some great action scenes and a gut-wrenching revenge story, it just wasn’t paced very well.  Interestingly, despite having a harem clinging to him, Raishin managed not only to be a male character capable of keeping his cool surrounded by women, somehow the women are the ones who came off as the sex-crazed lunatics (which ironically is what they were projecting onto Raishin).

The Coppelion outside of the planet dome9. Coppelion (5/10)

I haven’t seen characterization this bad in a while.  Not a single personality was well defined or consistent throughout the series.  However, the action was suitably epic and the art style is amazingly crisp and fresh.  I particularly liked how the character designer decided to make those skirts inconceivably short but never once had them flutter upwards.

Shinichi instructs Petralka in the ways of hikikomori life10. Outbreak Company (5/10)

What should have been a comical look at what otaku culture can do to the uninitiated turned out to be a bland walk through the various tropes that can be found in anime like checking off boxes on a list.  There was a little undercurrent of a theme that tells us no larger body can dictate what is to become culturally popular, but that got derailed around the time it was planned to use otaku fandom as a weapon to control the masses.

Satellizer unleashes her stigmata11. Freezing Vibration (5/10)

Interestingly, while the second season of this franchise managed to be less ecchi than the first, there was also an accompanying drop in the quality of the writing.  What I had hoped would be another action-packed discourse on the lives of people pushed to the absolute limits of their humanity just sort of told us not to experiment on people or meddle with things we don’t fully understand.  Yeah, ok, got it.

Ryuuko equips Kamui Senketsu12. Kill la Kill (4/10)

I dropped this series at episode four because at the time, Freezing was the ecchi action series that was doing a better job at actually telling a story that was going somewhere.  I don’t know what happened afterwards, but Kill la Kill seemed nothing more than a predictably boring series of boss battles, incapable of living up to its heritage.

One response to “Fall 2013 Wrap-up

  1. medievalotaku January 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Haven’t seen all of Freezing: Vibration yet, but the quality has certainly dropped from the first season. It’s quite a shame. At least we have the manga.

    Kill la Kill has gotten better since episode four. It seems to be tackling themes of excessive shame in Japanese culture (a la Go Nagai) and the isolation caused by wealth and social status. The rivalry between Satsuki and Matoi has gotten pretty interesting as well. So far, I find the story compelling.

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