Summer 2013 – Season Review

suisei_no_gargantia-12-summer-sunset-ocean-clear-calm-clouds-peaceful-serene-view-flyingThe Summer 2013 anime season wasn’t too long ago and featured a number of wonderful anime.  Since I never provided my thoughts, opinions and reviews for the anime at the end of the season, here is a late review that encompasses the entire season and provided my final reviews for Summer 2013.

Before we begin, the ranking of anime below was completed at the end of September after a majority of the shows were completed.  I did complete an evaluation of these shows at the time but never created a final review.  It’s also worth noting that some of the shows that continued into Autumn 2013 may have different grades in that review based on how they performed in their latter half.  These are only the reviews from July-September for 2013.

Every anime receives a numerical score (between 10-5 as well as a D [delayed/dropped]) and is placed in position according to how they rank against each other from top to bottom, helping differentiate position among anime receiving the same score.  Each anime is paired with its own review which provides my overall thoughts and evaluation on the anime in addition to explaining my reasoning behind the score and ranking.  Any questions or discussion are welcome and encouraged in the comment section.

 

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! – 10

watashi_ga_motenai_no_wa_dou_kangaetemo_omaera_ga_warui-03-tomoko-pressure-underwater-drowning-direction-art-color-beautiful-symbolismFavorite Character: Mother Kuroki (Tomoko’s mother)

Review – What fascinates me most about Watamote is how people come to different conclusions about this anime based on their differencing perspectives.  To me, Watamote was a hilarious comedy with some brilliant and beautiful character growth spread evenly throughout.  It provided countless laughs, uncomfortable moments and heartwarming scenes that really provided an emotional experience that is unrivaled in the comedy genre.  To me, watching Tomoko grow as a person despite her frequent hardships, narcissism, laziness was a triumph for her character.  That’s the real story here and that’s undoubtedly my favorite aspect of this anime.  Second would be the comedy which is now an all-time favorite for anime.  I don’t recall ever laughing or smiling this much at an anime which means it will fit nicely among my other all-time favorite comedies.  Furthermore, Shin Oonuma is my favorite anime director and for good reason: his vision, presentation and elegance are unequaled in anime today.  His use of imagery, motifs, colors, and lighting have varying degrees of influence in his works, emphasizing or changing the atmosphere, mood and emotion in every scene.  His directing style can literally change the outcomes of a scene it’s so powerful, and he uses it to draw out more passion and impact which was demonstrated vividly in Watamote.  Easily my favorite anime of the season and a strong candidate to be my favorite anime of the year.

 

Monogatari Series: Second Season – 10

monogatari_series_second_season-05-tsubasa-araragi-neko-fire-pose-dramatic-awesome-conclusionFavorite Character: Hitagi Senjougahara

Review – With Nisemonogatari growing rather stale and Nekomonogatari being rather tame, Monogatari Series really needed some magic to revive itself to the former glory and acclaim that it earned under Bakemonogatari.  Consider that job done and more.  Monogatari Series is quickly becoming the best anime in this franchise thanks to its variation, its diversity and how it the stories are actually stories and how the characters are actually characters.  Before, the pattern of the franchise was merely Araragi meeting a girl, solving her problem and the girl falling in love with him.  Now, Monogatari has evolved from that and is using these same characters in their own stories to show their own growth, progress and life beyond that of being just a girl in a harem.  The most noticeable and significant difference has been the anime taking the perspectives of Hanekawa and Nadeko for their arcs and letting these characters direct their own lives.  The end result has been phenomenal, an outstanding touch on this franchise that really makes it more impressive than what Bakemonogatari was able to do back in Summer 2009.  Additionally, the stories continue to build off each other helping the characters out immensely by making them feel like real people instead of anime stereotypes.  I will never get tired of Shaft’s art and directing styles, so those are also positives for me, especially for Monogatari which features those unique stills of words providing valuable insight into a character’s mind.  I’ve rediscovered my love for Monogatari with this season and I’m thrilled to see it continue into Autumn 2013.

 

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) – 9

shingeki_no_kyojin-17-titan-sasha-horse-attack-scary-fearFavorite Character: Zoë Hange

Review – The second half of Shingeki no Kyojin was a noteworthy change from the first half, leading the anime down a different but equally impressive path.  Rather than sustaining itself on fear, adrenaline and animosity, the second half of Attack on Titan saw a much calmer, slower pace that displayed intelligence, cunning and creativity on its already intriguing plot.  Sure, the action was noticeably decreased and there was no longer that rush of epinephrine every time a titan appeared but the strengths of the latter half of Shingeki no Kyojin were parallels and helped balance the series out.  It certainly was different but much appreciated.  The summer season of Titan delivered significant contributions to the characters and plot, helping push the story along and using its fights more tactfully rather than as a tool for fear and death.  The quality of animation did fluctuate more so in this half than the first half, though that might be due to working overtime on the fights and leaving the rest to stills of talking facing.  Otherwise, no real faults to note with this anime, unless you are maybe anticipating it becoming too shounen soon (though it’s not there yet).  The anime is a high 9 which is where it placed at the end of Spring 2013, so it hasn’t gained or lost any ground with this continuation.  I do hope to see more of this anime again soon, especially since its popularity in Japan might equate to even better production values next time… and could you imagine this with better production values for fights?  Now that would be a sight to see.

 

Uchouten Kazoku – 9

uchouten_kazoku-08-yajirou-souichitou-father_and_son-dinner-drinking-family-restaurantFavorite Character: Mother Shimogamo

Review – Uchouten Kazoku is a visually striking and gorgeous that illustrates the beautiful story of a family trying to hold itself together in the aftermath of their father, the one who held everything together, passing away.  The anime was ripe for character growth and certainly delivered, making it one of the more enjoyable anime this season for me.  Furthermore, the character designs by Kouji Kumeta (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Joshiraku) were an absolute delight, especially since created a rather a unique visual identity for the anime.  I enjoyed the cast for the most part, though I was never really engaged or terribly concerned about the brothers at any point.  Can’t say I was terrible interested in the plot itself, either.  Instead, it was their character development which really drove this anime, creating an experience that showed how each cub grow into an adult tanuki (or, for some, closer to an adult tanuki).  Uchouten Kazoku is a fun, enchanting anime that, as a whole, was both very fulfilling and satisfying.

 

Love Lab – 8

love_lab-01-natsuo-huggy-dakimakura-hug_pillow-kiss-saliva-comedy-embarrassingFavorite Character: Riko Kurahashi

Review – The magnetic, resplendent anime that is Love Lab really astonished me considering how charming, entertaining and enjoyable it turned out to be.  At first, I thought the anime would focus primarily on the romance with comedy being the afterthought but, lo and behold, the comedy reigned supreme and made this one of the most entertaining anime of the season.  Secondary to that was the amazement in how the chemistry worked between the five girls.  Usually in wacky school anime, full of gags and slapstick humor, there are one or two characters which steal the spotlight.  For Love Lab, the spotlight spent equal time with each character and the humor highlighted their personalities as they continued to play off each other.  No one character was too strong.  No one character was too weak.  The balance here reinforces how appropriate the comedy is and highlights the strength in its writing and how it uses its character, in addition to the content of the humor also being hilarious.  Beyond that, the romance angle was slightly mundane but provided for numerous instances of comedy which is something I appreciate.  The art style is colorful, vibrant and energetic which matches the personality of this anime.  I’d love to see this series continue since I know it can keep going with it characters and its comedy, so hopefully this will receive a sequel soon.

 

Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu – 8

stella_jogakuin_koutouka_c3_bu-08-rento-karila-yura-yachiyo-honoka-stella_girls_academy-c3_club-airsoft-survival_game-guns-military_uniforms-cute_beretsFavorite Character: Yura Yamato

Review – A common theme this season has been character growth seeing as I’ve mentioned it as a positive in every anime above this one.  However, I don’t think there was any better demonstration or progression in the growth of a character than Yura Yamato in C3-bu.  In fact, it even become the subject of a post of mine for the 12 Days of Anime on Yura’s character development .  This unanticipated and unforeseen story was really the biggest surprise for C3-bu and easily made it one of the most remarkable and fascinating anime of the season.  In fact, focusing in on Yura the entire time is probably what made this anime fascinating and worthwhile to me since the other aspects were only mediocre.  Gainax did a wonderful job with some of the art and animation, especially with how it depicted Yura’s imagination and how it integrated those scenes into the real world.  The other cast members were fair to great, great being reserved for Sonora and Rento, and the theme of airsoft/survival games was fun and original for an anime.  Still, C3-bu couldn’t really shake the label of ‘cute girls doing whatever’ with this being a school club that focused on guns instead of anime or music or tanks or the occult or doing nothing or whatever.  But among that popular and middling genre, C3-bu is among the best of its peers which is largely thanks to Yura Yamato.  I can only hope that other anime within this genre follow in C3-bu’s footsteps and use character development to drive its franchise.  Imagine how much better anime would be in general if everything took that advice.

 

Tamayura ~more aggressive~ – 8

tamayura_more_aggressive-03-fu-kanae-friends-photography_club-memories-character_developmentFavorite Character: Mutsuko Shimokamiyama

Review – Like the two anime above this, Tamayura ~more aggressive~ was a surprise this season, though this one is more personal due to my dissatisfaction with the previous TV series, Tamayura ~hitotose~.  In fact, this was also the subject of another 12 Days of Anime post, this on how well the sequel performed against the original.  It’s as if Tamayura was listening to my concerns and addressed each one, thus warranting the much higher and appropriate grade of an 8 versus a 6.  This time, the characters were used much better with Fu asserting herself more with independence and decisiveness.  Additionally, Kanae and Shimokamiyama were added to this series and quickly became my two favorite characters. Kanae provided a contrast to Fu while sharing a similar passion in photography but pursuing her own interests and Shimokamiyama was supportive and encouraging despite being new to the area and photography.  The trio of Kaoru, Norie and Maon were better utilized, too, though this may be since their interests were developed further instead of being Fu’s groupies the entire time.  The anime retained its pleasant art style and calming, tranquil feeling earning it the rare distinction of a healing anime beyond just the general label of slice-of-life.  The content of stories this time around was an improvement too, being more directly related to Fu and really helping her character out instead of wandering around the city.  Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with Tamayura ~more aggressive~ and hope that the series continues again someday.

 

Danganronpa The Animation – 8

danganronpa-01-monobear-monokuma-prinicpal-mascot-sweat-comedyFavorite Character: Aoi Asahina

Review – I didn’t realize until the very end that the whole point of Danganronpa is the very end.  The whole anime, the whole experience is building up to the finale in which everything about the series is revealed and every loose end is wrapped up nicely and neatly in a way that should be satisfying to most but infuriating to some.  To me, I found the whole finale to be the true masterpiece of the series, erasing most of the disappointment and disinterest that I felt during the course of the anime.  In fact, the finale itself is what bumped the anime from a high 7 to a low 8, so it really signifies how much I enjoyed it and how much of an impact it had on the rest of the series.  Speaking about the rest of the series, it was largely slow and mundane and ordinary save for the classroom trials and the mystery about Hope’s Peak Academy.  I tend to enjoy mysteries, so which might be why those two aspects stood out to me as positives when the rest felt like average anime stuff.  The character designs are outstanding and exceptional and the characters themselves were impressive, though some where more commanding, persuasive or fun than others.  The soundtrack of the game was doubled as the soundtrack for this anime and turned out to be one of my favorite this season.  If you’re into video game music, it’s worth your time.  As for the anime being worth your time, that depends on how much you enjoy mysteries and big twists/reveals.  If that’s your thing, then Danganronpa is definitely worth watching.  If not, don’t lose sweat over this.

 

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 7

genei_wo_kakeru_taiyou-01-ginka-luna-seira-temperance-moon-stars-tarot_cards-magical_girls-bow-halo-cat_ears-lolis-iceFavorite Character: Meltina Melvis

Review – Obviously heavily inspired and influenced by Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou is a somber and gloomy anime about magical girls fighting against an unknown force that preys on humans.  I often categorize the anime as something that someone wrote after enjoying the dark, depressing moods of Madoka without ever really understanding what Madoka was all about.  It was never going to be the most original anime out there considering how derivative it is of Madoka, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the anime despite it never being really that great.  What I did appreciate about this anime was the effort that was put into it, especially in the motifs and themes used with the tarot cards.  From color coordination to ornaments to personalities to weapons to their own tragic stories, the anime thrived on its efforts to incorporate various themes and symbolism throughout.  It didn’t make up for the shoddy story and clichéd characters but I enjoyed noticing these distinguishing characteristics and details throughout the series.  I think I liked the character designs when my eyes adjusted but I definitely enjoyed the art beyond the motifs and themes and colors mentioned previous.  It was low-budget but had some really inspired moments and scenes, though some were direct rip-offs of Madoka (doesn’t mean it is bad just means it is unoriginal).  The music was the other significant bright spot of this anime with several memorable, pleasant tracks.  Even though I enjoyed Genei Taiyou, I’m not sure who I’d recommend this to since its content and characters were two large weaknesses and others would be put off by the character designs.  If someone doesn’t care about those details and thinks they can enjoy the art, the symbolism and the music, then it might be worth their time.  Otherwise, it might be best to skip this.

 

Silver Spoon – 7

silver_spoon-01-yugo-unhappy-horse-saliva-chewing-comedy-farmingFavorite Character: Aki Mikage

Review – One of the more popular anime of the season, Silver Spoon did well with its noteworthy and distinctive setting, but what held it back for me was a main character who got on my nerves early and never really improved.  Hachiken’s personality really turned his character off for me with this perpetual moping personality.  What made things worse is his attitude toward his parents which was never really explained.  All we saw was him being an absolute dick to his family, so until that’s explained, I see no reason why I should like him.  Really, the rest of the cast was largely underwhelming too but that’s mainly because Hachiken is the real focus since he’s a complete greenhorn when it comes to agriculture.  I fell in love with the setting and appreciate all the detail and effort that has gone into it and I do enjoy how the stories are building off each other, such as with Pork Bowl.  Maybe my favorite part is how Hachiken’s inexperience and perspective has influenced some of the other students but it’s more along the lines of “oh, that’s interesting” than “I’m going to change how I live thanks to you”.  The art and animation are solid but nothing impressive.  I’m looking forward to the second half when it returns in 2014 since I’m predicting the second half will be stronger overall, but it’s not one of the shows I’m terrible excited about.

 

Gatchaman Crowds – 7

gatchaman_crowds-07-berg_katze-crowds-villain-antagonist-shart_teeth_smile-lipstick-wild_flamboyant_pink_hairFavorite Character: Utsutsu

Review – Gatchaman Crowds was an anime with an abundance of potential but failed to deliver due to a number of small and silly mistakes.  Unlike most of the people who dropped or hated this anime, I actually enjoyed Hajime’s character and her personality.  She was like a toddler on a constant infusion of sugar but her bright, cheery and sociable personality won me over.  What I didn’t care for was that her character was virtually unchallenged throughout the series.  While I did enjoy her being happy, she was never put in a situation that forced her to change or forced her to grow.  She’s pretty much had no character development throughout the anime; her character remaining no different from the start to the end.  That really disappointed me.  And save from some developments that felt incredibly forced at the end, virtually no one was developing as a character.  The only one that was would be Utsutsu since that was addressed early on and a constant emphasis on Hajime’s part throughout.  The storyline about the MESS was a bit of a mess, being dropped after the first couple of episodes to focus on GALAX and Berg-Katze, so I’m not really sure what to think about that besides maybe they forgot it or dropped it due to time constrains.  The whole social media aspect, CROWDS and saving the world did nothing for me either, so I can’t say I really enjoyed the plot.  What I did enjoy, was the art and animation but that alone was not enough to deliver a strong anime.  I’m hoping a second season will help resolve these problems and put Hajime’s character in an uncomfortable place because that might be what’s holding the series back for me more than anything else.

 

Servant x Service – 6

servant_x_service-09-lucy-happy-smiling-reminiscing-sparkles-bubbles-glasses-long_nameFavorite Character: Lucy Yamagami

Review – Servant x Service is really the no-thrills, basic-package anime.  There really wasn’t anything special about it.  Nothing with its characters, with its story, with its art or its setting. Sure, the anime was set in the health and welfare section of the local government but it was still a modern, urban Japan without any significant impact on the story or characters.  You could use this same dynamic and characters at a school or a meat-processing plant or a hospital or a cruise ship and the anime would be unchanged.  My response to the comedy varied from no response to smiling and I could count on my thumbs the number of times I actually laughed out loud.  Then again, the anime didn’t really do anything bad besides bore me.  I didn’t hate any of the characters, I didn’t hate their stories and found the art to be somewhat cute despite it’s plain appearance.  Really, it’s hard to have an opinion on this anime when it didn’t do too much for me but I suppose I enjoyed the series overall since what I do recall are the jokes that amused me the most.  But if presented with a second season, I think I’d politely decline.

 

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya – 6

fate_kaleid_liner_prisma_illya-01-illya-ruby-magical_girl-transformation-wand-cuteFavorite Character: Sella

Review – For whatever reason, I just never found myself enjoying Prisma Illya.  The anime was fun for its parody of the magical girl genre and offered some genuine humor with its characters, but maybe there wasn’t enough to hook me like other comedy anime.  The actual content of the anime was pretty simple and uninspired but nothing that I’d really dock points for, especially since it was intended to be a parody.  It’s just I lost interest in it once I got tired with the joke.  It just so happened that the series decided to be serious then too, which really didn’t help.  I can’t say the art/animation/music were negatives since I thought the art style was cute and the battle animation was outstanding.  The fights were rather long, spanning a number of episodes when it felt like they could’ve been faster and I didn’t really care for or pay attention to the school life that kept interrupting the magical girl parts.  Not really sure what it was about this series on why I lost interest in it but I did.  I still finished the anime and will probably continue it again in 2014, so hopefully I will rediscover my interest in this anime again when it returns to the airwaves.

 

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 6

to_aru_kagaku_no_railgun_s-16-misaka_imouto-bandages-injury-healing-silent-headgear-cuteFavorite Character: Misaka Imouto 10032

Review – What dropped Railgun S to the bottom of Summer 2013, after placing near the middle of Spring 2013, is how it adapted the Sisters Arc.  At the start of the arc, I had high expectations in anticipation of this story arc since I love seeing stories through multiple perspectives.  But with the arc just repeating the story of Index with no real additional insight, feeling or worth from Misaka, it felt disappointing and fell well short of my expectations.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it since it did offer some outstanding scenes (like the first battle with Misaka Imouto 00001) but it was just too much of a retelling for me to enjoy it as much as I would with something new.  As for the rest of the series, it fluctuated between a 6 and a 7.  I would expect this anime to have been a 7 with the retelling portions removed, though, so I was happy and pleased with the new content.  Still, I feel Railgun could have done a much better job adapting the Sisters Arc which is why Railgun S dropped to a 6 and, unfortunately, to the bottom of Summer 2013.

 

Achievements of Summer 2013:

Best Art: Uchouten Kazoku

Best Characters: Monogatari Series: Second Season

Best Entertainment: Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!

Best Setting: Shingeki no Kyojin

Best Sound: Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou & Danganronpa The Animation

Best Story: Uchouten Kazoku

 

Best OP: Uchouten Kazoku

This season could have three OPs be the best but I decided on Uchouten Kazoku since its song had the best climax.  It also had some of the better artwork and direction.  Watamote had a better song overall but I didn’t care for the visuals.  Gatchaman Crowds had a good song and would place 3rd.

Best ED: Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu

This comes down to the visuals being more impressive in C3-bu than in Watamote.  While Watamote has the better song, I enjoy watching C3-bu’s ED more.  Or to put it another way, C3-bu’s song is better than the visuals of Watamote.  It’s tough and I should probably list them as 1A and 1B but C3-bu is 1A for me.

Biggest Surprise: Love Lab

A charming, charismatic, endearing and entertaining anime, Love Lab was significantly better than what I expected it to be.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters and every episode which is remarkable for a comedy anime.  Really happy to have picked it up after it after hearing so many positive reviews from others.

Biggest Disappointment: Gatchaman Crowds

Another anime that ends as a disappointment due to its hype, Gatchaman Crowds just had too many negatives, not enough positives and never had a chance to meet the expectations I set out for it.

Best Finale: Danganronpa

The whole point of Danganronpa is that it slowly building up the drama and mystery for the finale and, once we got there, the series delivered with its twists, reveals and other essential information.  I felt very satisfied with it and it really put the whole anime in a new perspective to me.  The anime really made its finale count and I appreciate that for a series like Danganronpa, especially in an era of light novel stories never find a true end.

Most Hated Character: Kou Sawatari (Tamayura ~more aggressive~)

 

And with that, I’ve caught up from all the seasons that I neglected for 2012 and 2013.  All that remains is the final season review for Autumn 2013, the Final Review for 2013 and the Winter 2014 Season Preview which… I guess is now already late since the shows are already airing.  Oh well, just another post for me to be late on!

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  1. #1 by donkangoljones on January 17, 2014 - 7:42 PM

    I think we had very similar appreciations for the Summer season. Our top anime were pretty much the same. Though I think I enjoyed Servant X Service a lot more than you did. And I’m glad someone else recognized what f*cking OUTSTANDING direction Watamote had! I don’t think that show would have thrived they way it did without Shin Oonuma.

    • #2 by avvesione on January 19, 2014 - 4:33 PM

      Glad to hear we both had similar tastes for the Summer season. I did enjoy Servant x Service toward the beginning but found myself pretty bored toward the end. It was a good anime overall and I probably would’ve liked it more had I spaced it out better.

      I’m thrilled to hear you can recognize and appreciate the magnificent job Shin Oonuma did with Watamote. There’s a reason he’s my favorite director and a perfect example of his masterful work was on display in Watamote. He was able to make everything about the anime better and turned a great manga into a brilliant anime. Glad to hear he has another fan out there!

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