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Anime of the Year 2013 (15 to 11)

In case you’ve just started reading my Anime of the Year 2013 series, be sure to start with (25-21) and (20-16) before proceeding onward from here.

Koyomi Araragi is still the hero15. Monogatari Series

Each time we’ve revisited this amazing philosophical comedy, it has unfortunately decreased in quality—relatively speaking.  A franchise that was my anime of the year for 2009 and took my number six spot last year still tells really smart stories portrayed by a top-notch cast of voice actors.

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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.

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Anime of the Week (12/15 – 12/21)

Anime of the Week – Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio
Iona tries to reason with her sisters, I-400 and I-402

Such fabulous writing. Each member of the Fog that Gunzou and Iona cross paths with grow in their own unique ways and subsequently choose their paths to follow accordingly. It stays so true to each character and that’s something definitely worth praising.                              

December 15 Monogatari Series Ep. 24 I’d have hoped that discussing the details of of Kaiki’s plan to deceive a god would lead down a more philosophical path than the conversation actually brought about.
Little Busters Refrain Ep. 11 It saddens me to find out that Angel Beats borrowed so heavily from the themes that had already been laid out here in Key’s earlier title.
White Album 2 Ep. 11 It’s hard learning the truth about love. I’ve lost count of the number of times the three main characters not only betrayed each other, but also betrayed themselves.
December 16 Magi 2 Ep. 11 Morgiana continues to be my favorite character in this series. She’s such a strong woman in every meaning of strength and I always find myself cheering for her.
December 17 Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 11 Although they stuck with each other rather than become allies of Gunzou, it was still interesting to see the unique way I-400 and I-402 came to realize they were more than weapons.
Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 11 It’s quite clear this series will not resolve its core conflict between Raishin and Magnus. And with no second season in sight, another anime falls victim to airing before a sufficient amount of content was finished being written.
December 19 Coppelion Ep. 12 It’s hard to sympathize with the antagonists when they keep turning down every chance for redemption they’re given. But it’s also annoying when the protagonists keep giving the bad guys second chances that put everyone they’re trying to save in danger.
Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 12 It’s ok to bring someone back from the dead if there was a good reason to do so. Personally, I’m not sure there was even a good reason for anyone to die in the first place.
December 20 Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 12 So far this series has had a great pace, but this episode really seemed to be dragging its heels. Last week established how things were going to happen, so lets go already.
December 21 Outbreak Company Ep. 12 Personally, I think having the climax of this series be in the previous episode was a huge mistake. It left the season finale with nowhere left to go and just foundered about without going anywhere.
Yuushibu Ep. 12 This series did a great job sticking to its theme and not wandering. While it never achieved any level of sophistication, I enjoyed every ridiculous minute of it.
Freezing Vibration Ep. 12 This franchise’s first season told a much more interesting story about what it means to be a pandora. Vibration just stagnated and followed a rather ho-hum plot about military bureaucracy.

Anime of the Week (12/8 – 12/14)

Anime of the Week – Kyoukai no Kanata
Akihito rushes to catch Mirai at the last second

This is the kind of love that I really like. It found its origins slowly and was discovered as two people traveled a rough and difficult road together. But the end result was a couple who would gladly lay down their lives for one another but chose to live for each other instead.                              

December 8 Monogatari Series Ep. 23 What a cliffhanger. And I just know that whatever was in Nadeko’s closet is probably a majory plot point and won’t be revealed until the season finale.
Little Busters Refrain Ep. 10 Aw man. The pace of this series has turned into a mess. There’s still three more episodes, but now they’re doing a clip-show-ish review of events leading up to this point? *shakes head*
White Album 2 Ep. 10 I’m not sure the order of events was properly planned for this series. Was it really worth the emotional baggage to reveal Haruki and Touma’s past this late?
December 9 Magi 2 Ep. 10 The gladiator battle had a really good pace to it, but the crowd is really messed up. One minute they’re on Alibaba’s side and as soon as it looks like he’s about to lose, everyone abandons him? Surely someone who bet money on him should still be on his side, right?
December 10 Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 10 Formerly nothing
more than weapons of war, it’s a real treat to see these young women discover they can be more than that by integrating into themselves the best traits of humanity.
Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 10 A good revenge story always gets my blood boiling. I can taste Raishin’s hatred and frustration at having to bide his time and wait for a proper time to strike.
December 12 Coppelion Ep. 11 As a writer, what do you do when you’ve run out of ideas? Throw in a ridiculous mecha that the bad guys were somehow hiding and not using the entire series despite getting their butts kicked the whole time.
Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 11 I most certainly hope that someone I love never lays down their life for me. If it’s you or me, I’ll always say “both.” Never forget that discretion is the better part of valor.
December 13 Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 11 I know there’s a certain romance to a story about confessing your love at the end of the world. But we should take that as a lesson that we shouldn’t wait until the end of the world to do the important things in life.
December 14 Outbreak Company Ep. 11 Although this series seemed sympathetic to the issues surrounding otaku culture, in reality I think it still depicted us as a dangerous social phenomenon. I don’t like that one bit.
Yuushibu Ep. 11 A true hero doesn’t become a hero because he’s seeking the fame. They’re just brave men and women who make the right decision when nobody else has the courage to step forward.
Freezing Vibration Ep. 11 I totally called it. It took two seasons, but Chiffon turned out to be the character who you hope never opens her eyes.

Anime of the Week (12/1 – 12/7)

Anime of the Week – Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio
Iona tries to reason with Kongou

I wished for a good military anime and I’ve not been disappointed. This week had all the face-paced action and subtle tactics of warfare that I just can’t get enough of. Combine that with some philosophy on existentialism and that’s the icing on the cake.                              

December 1 Monogatari Series Ep. 22 In theory this is supposed to be Hitagi’s arc, but at this rate it’s going to be Nadeko’s second arc with a strong emphasis on Kaiki…
Little Busters Refrain Ep. 9 And now Kengo’s arc has started. Or perhaps this whole second half of the season is just about showing how much Riki has matured.
White Album 2 Ep. 9 I’m not sure where this love triangle is going, but I’m reminded of the two girls competing for one guy scenario that plagued Shana‘s second season.
December 2 Magi 2 Ep. 9 Meh. This cast of characters is already too big and there’s still more movers and shakers entering this spaghetti-like mess of relationships.
December 3 Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 9 The battle in this episode takes place on so many fronts–hearts vs minds, friends vs comrades, requests vs orders, power vs subtlety, freedom vs reservation–but never once does it feel spread thin or poorly paced. I love it.
Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 9 Nothing about the current situation feels right. I sense there’s some needlessly elaborate deception going on here.
December 5 Coppelion Ep. 10 This series is like a broken record. I can’t stop watching it because it does offer some beauty, but it keeps repeating the same mistakes in its storytelling over and over.
Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 10 I’m not found of the whole, “it was just a dream,” storytelling device. But I’ll make an exception in this case because it allowed for communication that actually forwarded the story.
December 6 Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 10 A lot of anime as of late seem to have placed their strong points into their unique settings. This clash of cultures–surface vs sea, tradition vs youth–wouldn’t be so interesting, otherwise.
December 7 Outbreak Company Ep. 10 I had hoped this show would be more along the lines of Genshiken where they actually discuss otaku issues in the larger cultural sense, but it seems to be turning out more like Oreimo–just a bunch of loosely connected tropes and references.
Yuushibu Ep. 10 It’s really quite interesting to think of this anime in terms of economics. There was a major economic shift that put a lot of people out of work and instead of changing to the new paradigm, there’s a push to return to what they’re familiar with.
Freezing Vibration Ep. 10 If there’s a character in an anime that never opens his or her eyes (I like to call them fox eyes) you know there’s probably something sinister about them.

Anime of the Week (11/17 – 11/23)

Anime of the Week – White Album 2
Touma and Setsuna perform at the school culture festival

Love is a capricious thing. It can bring people together, but it can also tear people apart. On this stage of warfare set to some awesome music, I can’t think of a better way to have played out the climax of Setsuna’s and Touma’s battle for Haruki.                              

November 17 Monogatari Series Ep. 20 I did not care for this resolution. What does it even mean to go against your nature? We all choose who we want to be.
Little Busters Refrain Ep. 7 What’s going on? Has the series reset? I hope this gets cleared up soon and isn’t some sort of endless eight.
White Album 2 Ep. 7 I sure do love a music anime with a spectacular soundtrack. The previous season was good, but this is over the top.
November 18 Magi 2 Ep. 7 I’m not sure how I want to think about the cross of western-themed magic and wizards with Magi’s very Arabian setting.
November 19 Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 7 The reason I find this series thrilling is because its premise is so refreshing I haven’t a clue as to how it will turn out.
Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 7 The plot is all over the place in this series. I can’t see how from this point it will wrap up nicely in only 12 eps.
November 21 Coppelion Ep. 8 One of the things I’ve always found a little out of place about this series is the emphasis on the Coppelion’s high school uniforms when they’re supposed to be a military unit.
Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 8 After the powerful influence of the Hollow Shadow, the Calm makes for a very poetic reflection of opposites.
November 22 Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 8 I initially predicted this was going to be a Romeo and Juliet romance drama, but more supernatural elements are creeping in.
November 23 Outbreak Company Ep. 8 One of the things that Shinichi forgot to point out about hikikomori life is that there needs to be someone who the shut-in depends on for their secluded lifestyle. An enabler.
Yuushibu Ep. 8 If you’re going to do a swimsuit episode, THIS is the way to do it. Rarely is there such a convenient excuse for a little extra fanservice.
Freezing Vibration Ep. 8 Though this series likes to play up the whole “human experimentation” drama, it feels mishandled in a setting where the ethics of such actions fall into a gray area.

Anime of the Week (11/10 – 11/16)

Anime of the Week – Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio
Haruna protects Makie

When described in simple terms it seems very straightforward, but too often an interesting villain will be killed off for dramatic effect when if that character had lived he or she could have continued to serve a purpose in forwarding the story. That Arpeggio makes good use of its character resources is a testament to the vision of its writing.                              

November 10 Monogatari Series Ep. 19 I’ve always liked Bakemonogatari for its intriguing, philosophical dialogue. But this arc is nothing but story.
Little Busters Refrain Ep. 6 What is the point of challenging Kyousuke to? Riki, if you’re mature, just stand up to him and say, “no.”
White Album 2 Ep. 6 This series is far removed from the typical tropes that pervade high school romance anime. It’s amazingly refreshing.
November 11 Magi 2 Ep. 6 After thinking about it afterwards, I don’t think Hakuryuu was in the wrong, but in the heat of the moment I was shocked.
November 12 Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 6 I’m loving this series for the little things. Haruna could have died protecting Makie for cheap drama. But she didn’t.
Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 6 As pretty as it is, one of the annoying things I’ve noticed in this series are the switches between hand drawn and CGI.
November 14 Coppelion Ep. 7 When everything seems hopelessly lost and the world goes crazy, letting yourself join in the madness might sound like fun.
Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 7 I’ve nothing against revenge. But if it’s an undertaking you want to pursue, make sure your motivation is sound.
November 15 Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 7 At first I thought the reason people shouldn’t leave the sea is because of decreasing births, but that may not be the case.
November 16 Outbreak Company Ep. 7 I admit to having been so dazzled by the wonders of Akihabara that I forgot why I had gone there in the first place.
Yuushibu Ep. 7 As much as you wish people would gravitate to a store with better customer service, in the end they’ll want the cheaper one.
Freezing Vibration Ep. 7 Definitely not the most sophisticated of stories, but I’m feeling despair gradually transitioning into hope.

Anime of the Week (11/3 – 11/9)

Anime of the Week – Nagi no Asu Kara
Chisaki and Manaka watch the Tomoebi

The big events in life are certainly important, but our day-to-day interactions shouldn’t be forgotten, either. And when we hurt those who are close to us, we can apologize, but given the opportunity to truly make it up to someone, it may be a little cliche, but actions speak louder than words.                              

November 3 Monogatari Series Ep. 18 Many claim they would not wish to have immortality. To them I say, you have not found the joy of simply living.
Little Busters Refrain Ep. 5 I appreciate that Riki and Kyousuke are helping Rin break out of her shell, but hasn’t she done that already?
White Album 2 Ep. 5 Perhaps my life has been easy and my goals not too lofty, but I’ve never had to drive myself to the point of collapse.
November 4 Magi 2 Ep. 5 It should be the wish of every parent that they raise their children to live a life of happiness greater than their own.
November 5 Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ep. 5 I find it ironic that in a desperate moment bereft of morality, the decision made nonetheless created something beautiful.
Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 5 As this series gets a little harem-ish, I’m glad Raishin isn’t the kind of guy who gets flustered by women.
November 7 Coppelion Ep. 6 There is a fine, but distinct line that separates trust and kindness from naivety and Ibara crosses it far too often.
Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 6 I really wish these kinds of episodes that don’t forward the plot would be relegated to blu-ray bonus episodes or OVAs.
November 8 Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 6 Everyone has some moments in their childhood they’re not proud of. But getting past those mistakes is a part of growing up.
November 9 Outbreak Company Ep. 6 The theme of this anime is dealing with racism and caste systems and how dissolving barriers is good for society.
Yuushibu Ep. 6 This series is going much better than Hataraku Maou-sama because it understands where the jokes are in its source material.
Freezing Vibration Ep. 6 This is why I love this series despite its ecchiness. It tells a twisted story that contorts your feelings.

Anime of the Week (10/6 – 10/12)

Anime of the Week – Monogatari Series: Second Season
Nadeko tells it like it is

In order to break a stalemate where nobody wants to confront the problem at hand, it might take a sharp tongue that can put the situation into plain words so everyone can accept their mistakes and move on.

As a side note, Kana Hanazawa has played some really amazing characters, but the skilled writing of Nishio Ishin has allowed her to bring forth an impassioned Nadeko, which is the icing on the cake.                              

October 6 Monogatari Ep. 14 Although Kana Hanazawa is well known for playing quiet girls, she’s a good enough actress to play any role she’s given.
October 8 Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen Ep. 12 Is it just me or is there a disconnect in fiction between people experiencing the supernatural and incredulity?
Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen Ep. 13 Although the endings was sloppily left open for a second season, I like the message that life is not a single path.
Unbreakable Machine Doll Ep. 1 This series is showing an excellent balance of comedy, action and drama—all of my favorite genres—plus a sharp art style.
October 11 Kyoukai no Kanata Ep. 2 Based on the flashback at the start and Mirai’s comments at the end, both protagonists have some demons to deal with.
October 12 Coppelion Ep. 2 Laying down your life to save a loved one never sits well with me. I think it’s better to find a way both of you can live.
Kill la Kill Ep. 1 Decrying the Nazis in the history class of this fascist school is laying the irony on little thick don’t you think?
Strike the Blood Ep. 1 I don’t have anything to complain about this series, but it had nothing compelling about it. It was just ordinary.
Yuushibu Ep. 1 There’s been a lot of hero/demon lord anime of late. I’m not sure if this’ll be better or worse than Hataraku Maou-sama.
Kyousou Giga Ep. 1 This is one of those anime that has an interesting style, but there’s absolutely no indication of what it’s about.
Nagi no Asu Kara Ep. 1 This is the most refreshing premise for an anime that I’ve seen in a long time. And Kana Hanazawa takes the role of heroine.

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