Since I never wrote a season review for Winter 2013 at the end of the season, I’m finishing it up here at the start of Winter 2014. Let’s take a moment to look back and revisit the anime of yesteryear and see what my final thoughts, opinions and grades are for these anime.
Before we begin, the ranking of anime below was completed at the end of March 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 Spring 2013 may have different grades in that review based on how they performed in their latter half. These are only the reviews from January-March 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.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – 10
Favorite Character: Dio Brando
Review – What an anime. What an anime indeed. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is more than just a bizarre one; it’s a brilliant, exceptional, inspiring, satisfying and remarkable one. The series deserves applause and acclaim for its masterful work. The stories, the fights, the characters, the art, the humor… just the whole experience of watching JoJo’s is unforgettable. Every moment of watching JoJo’s was enjoyable and now I can understand and appreciate the distinction this series and this name has. And really, considering its characters, humor, fighting and setting, I knew I was going to enjoy this anime but I never realized it would be this much. In what is certain to be one of my favorite anime of all-time, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure ends at the top of Winter 2013.
Psycho-Pass – 10
Favorite Character: Akane Tsunemori
Review – Psycho-Pass is one of those few ‘complete’ anime for me. Everything about Psycho-Pass was remarkable. The technologic, police-oriented, cyberpunk setting was utilized well for both the stories and the characters, keeping the setting-enthusiast inside me elated. The cast was a diverse array of interesting and intelligent characters who were well-developed and played meaningful roles throughout the series. The story and themes of Psycho-Pass were always intriguing and encouraged a number of thoughts, opinions and feelings. For an anime to do all those things, in addition to being a sci-fi thriller, makes Psycho-Pass one of the best anime in recent memory. Without a doubt, Psycho-Pass deserves a revered 10 as one of the most distinguished anime that I have ever watched.
Chihayafuru 2 – 10
Favorite Character: Shinobu Wakamiya
Review – Continuing where the original left off, Chihayafuru 2 takes the dangerous step of adding new characters to its cast but uses their inclusion to enhance the anime rather than detract or subtract from it. Rather than ruining the chemistry or belittling the little characters, Chihayafuru 2 has done a brilliant job of integrating Sumire and Tsukuba into the Mizusawa Karuta Club. That alone is an outstanding accomplishment but Chihayafuru excels in just about every area imaginable. The cast has actually improved as a result of these additions and the stories associated with them are strengthening the anime. The games of karuta are still exciting, the comedy is still witty and the series is still endearing. The series is one of my favorite and I’m more than pleased to see the sequel is continuing where the first season left off. And I couldn’t be happier with the series continuing into Spring 2013, too, for another wonderful run.
Shin Sekai Yori – 9
Favorite Character: Tsukuba Branch of the National Assembly Library, Mirror Terminal Number 008
Review – The latter half of Shin Sekai Yori is where the series made its mark and earned its distinction as one of the best anime of the season. While the first half invoked thoughts of mystery and intrigue, the latter delieverd with a dazzling, magnificent conclusion that wrapped up the story, the characters, and the setting together in one complete package. I billed Shin Sekai Yori as ‘perhaps the most cerebral and intelligent anime’ of last season, but it turns out, it’s one of the most satisfying and fulfilling anime, too. There really isn’t any problem with the series, thought it some of the early episodes sometimes boring or wearisome (or confusing, like the historical flashbacks). That can’t be said of the last story arc which is really one of the most rewarding and remarkable segments of anime of this entire season. And the finale was just the finishing touches on this masterpiece. I strongly recommend it to anyone curious or hesitant about starting this phenomenal anime.
Zetsuen no Tempest – 8
Favorite Character: Hakaze Kusaribe
Review – Zetsuen no Tempest is really something. What began as a rather intriguing anime, the second half ended with a rather mellow, relaxing, almost humourous tone with the events of the first half being critiqued through observations and witty dialogue. Still, the anime never lost its soul with the second half changing styles and the anime retained its purpose in solving its central questions at the heart of its story. Tempest is easily one of the biggest surprises for me and one of the most pleasant, enjoyable anime of the season. Although I was concerned about how the show’s pattern changed at the midway point, I’m thrilled that it did since the anime showcased how versatile it could be without losing its focus. Although I do wish there were some improvements in the story and how some of the characters and the setting were used, Tempest was a solid and gratifying anime.
Senran Kagura – 8
Review – No, Senran Kagura is not here because it’s a great anime or a huge surprise or anything. Rather, it’s here because it delivers what it promised. No one is going to watch Senran Kagura for anything intelligent or meaningful and no one should expect that from this anime. Instead, you should expect a cast of busty, curvy ladies, numerous exciting fights, an unlimited supply of fanservice, and some clichéd anime humor because that’s what all these shows have. And you know what Senran Kagura did? It delivered on everything it advertised. The cast of characters were nothing remarkable but they were a fun cast that fit well into the style of the anime and its forgettable story. There were plenty of fights, meaning lots of action, meaning the anime was hardly dull. And while there were plenty of upskirts, bouncy boobs, shredded clothing and other over-the-top fanservice, that’s what the series is about. You wouldn’t expect Senran Kagura to be conservative, would you? Furthermore, the anime knew what it wanted to do and glossed over character development and their backstories in 20 seconds in order to get back to the fighting and fanservice. Really, the anime is nothing like the ones listed around it in this ranking but it deserves an unreasonably high grade because it’s one of the best at what it wanted to do: be a stupid, mindlessly fun anime with lots of fights and lots of fanservice. And if you watch Senran Kagura for those very reasons, you’ll see it’s actually a pretty fun, pretty good anime.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 7
Favorite Character: Edogawa Jou
Review – Sasami-san was an anime that depended heavily on its stories. When the stories were good, Sasami-san was great. When the stories were bad, Sasami-san was decent. The fact that Sasami-san could keep its head afloat when the content of the series was dismal speaks volumes for how the great the other aspects of the series were, but to end as a 7 means the stories were more often bad than good. While I usually enjoy casts of characters, this is one that particularly annoyed me with Sasami and Edogawa being the stars. The others had their ups and downs although the older brother, Kamiomi, was a cancer to this anime. The setting was mystifying and intriguing and played well into the cryptic stories of Sasami-san. The art and animation were nothing short of amazing and one of the most likable of the season. I’d say the art and animation were the most consistent and dependable aspect of the anime with the others bouncing between pluses and minuses. In the end, however, the anime ends on a positive note and earns a satisfactory grade.
Magi – 7
Review – The shounen is starting to show in Magi. While I was thrilled with the fantasy and adventure in the first half of Magi, I’m beginning to see my favorite aspects wane away as the series turns into a shounen fighting anime. And while these elements are still present, the whole Balbadd arc left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Not only did the art quality go down but so did the quality of the characters and the story. Really, what happened to the adventure and exploration? Why are the characters so dry (haha, pun) and ordinary now? Where is their magic (also a pun) that made them interesting to start? Really, I don’t care so much about the magic or the fighting or the nations or the friendship as others (in fact, I am probably among the least to care about those factors) but they’re all decent. I did kinda expect the series to go down this path but I never imagined its sacrifice the wonderful imagination that made me fall in love with the series to start. Still, Magi is a solid anime and it’s a matter of my opinion on why it’s falling. Nevertheless, its best episodes were in the first half of the series and I can’t help but wonder if that’ll be true for the series moving forward.
Space Brothers – 7
Favorite Character: Tadashi Hoshika
Review – I think I’m about done with Space Bros. It’s been about a year since I started the series and, though it featured its best story, characterization and drama with Hibito on the moon, I think I’ve had enough. I think this will be the last high point for a while in the series and I want to go out while I’m still enjoying it. That’s not to say that the series is bad or going to become bad or anything but that I need to take a break. The series has dragged on for so long that I’m beginning to feel weary and tired of it. The pacing is way too damn slow and it’s just drawing the anime out further than it needs to be. Maybe I’ll pick up the manga and finish it when it’s done, but for me, I’m signing out of Space Brothers.
Robotics;Notes – 7
Favorite Character: Kona Furugoori (Frau)
Review – Yeah… there were quite a few problems with the latter half of Robotics;Notes. What began as a rather enjoyable story of a group of friends building a giant robot got trashed for some non-sensible plot with more plot holes than spaces in this season review. Really, if you can’t adapt a LN or video game or manga into the time frame of an anime, why not adjust to make it? Seriously, the whole story, the storytelling, the pacing and the sheer boredom and uselessness of the events was a complete and clear catastrophe. Having that mess of a plot be the focus at the end just wrecked the otherwise positive start this anime had. The characters failed to grow or develop in this second half, instead continuing to act and behave the same as they did at the start of the series. I do appreciate the series trying to have some mystery and excitement but it really failed to deliver on both those aspects toward the end. And the art/animation continues to be a struggle for this anime. I never thought I’d call the anime a disappointment after watching the first 11 episodes… maybe a letdown at the most, but Robotics;Notes, as an anime, is best described as frustrating first and deplorable second.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo – 6
Favorite Character: Fuuka Kamiigusa
Review – Sakurasou is an ‘anime’ anime. It takes place in a highschool with a close circle of friends and they go through a rollercoaster year together with highs, lows and tons of laughs. And while I did share in those highs and lows, I rarely shared in the laughs and found myself in the lows more often than not. Sakurasou failed to impress me with its stereotypical cast of highschoolers, a male lead that lacked any defining character and a romantic comedy that elicited boredom as my only real response. That’s not to say that Sakurasou didn’t have its moments but its were few and far between. I’m happy I watched Sakurasou since it did provide numerous instances of joy and amusement but I’m also happy it’s over now.
Tamako Market – 6
Favorite Character: Kanna Makino
Review – To be honest, Tamako Market bored me. It really, really bored me. I never really appreciated or enjoyed the story and found Dera’s presence to be annoying at best. The remainder of the cast was fun, especially the trio of main girls but they never really did anything special, memorable, remarkable or innovative. The most innovative aspect of the anime, however, was the setting with the mochi shops and the marketplace. However, I would’ve killed for it to be a fantasy world setting (like it was originally planned) instead of the real world. Oh, just imagine how much better it’d be. The art and animation were rather tame for KyoAni standards but even then it still ranks among the best of the season. Still, nothing ever excited me about this anime and I felt nothing great from start to finish. Sure, there were some laughs and other enjoyable moments but every anime does that. Really, there isn’t anything to point to in Tamako Market to warrant a better grade. It did, however, manage to avoid making major mistakes (besides Dera) which keep it above the anime placed below.
Little Busters! – 6
Favorite Character: Kanata Futaki
Review – Little Busters! is one of the few anime in which watching the anime presents you with the same experience as that of the protagonist. Like Riki’s narcolepsy, I too had to face the dangers of falling asleep randomly during Little Busters! episodes, not because of a serious medical conditions but due to sheer boredom or apathy. And that is the direct result of the two most prevalent and damning problems with the Little Busters! anime: the stories were disappointingly adapted and unsuccessfully used. Not only did every character are feel like it was rushed and butchered but the care that was handled with each was absent. What was supposed to be the backbone of this anime was neglected throughout. But perhaps the biggest issue with this anime is how every single chance the anime had to improve or develop its characters, especially with these lengthy and frequent story arcs, the anime failed to do so. Not once did a character change in the anime, not even after their character story. Virtually everyone remained static throughout the entire series which facilitates my point in that every story in Little Busters! was pointless and unnecessary. Fortunately for the anime, it did provide some decent but forgettable comedy with a charming cast of characters. The art and animation were meh, but that shouldn’t be surprising considering the expected production values with this show. As for the setting, I find it strange how reliant the plot was on magic to solve so many problems yet it never sparked the curiosity of Riki or anyone else and yielded no investigation or insight. The problem here is it littered the series with plotholes and deus-ex-machina mechanics which did more harm than help to the anime. Overall, while the series did have some highlights with its comedy and cast, Little Busters! ultimately flopped due to severely inadequate storytelling and failing to make its stories meaningful or impactful in any way. At least I did laugh or smile throughout some episodes, which is more than I can say for the two that follow…
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – 6
Favorite Character: Maid Ane (Big Sister Maid)
Review – Perhaps the reason why Maoyuu is ranked here is because I hyped it as a potential favorite of the new anime this season. Wow, what an error that was. Maoyuu was really an excellent waste of time, offering nothing great besides the constant thought that the series might improve only to be met with more disappointment. The story was really misused in the anime, the characters seemed lifeless and featureless, and the setting was just stereotypical fantasy land with random tidbits of history tossed in. I shuttered at the fact that the inventions and discoveries in this anime were ripped directly from a history book and inserted without including the effort or significance behind such endeavors or events. The art and fanservice were just abysmal and regrettable. There were some positives in Maoyuu but they’re not really worth mentioning at this point. Certain characters in the cast were decent to good and, although I was frustrated with the anime as a whole, I did enjoy its themes and what it tried to accomplish. I just wish it was able to accomplish what it set out to do instead of turning into what we saw with Maoyuu.
Achievements of Winter 2013:
Best Art: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Best Characters: Psycho-Pass
Best Entertainment: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Best Setting: Psycho-Pass
Best Sound: Zetsuen no Tempest
Best Story: Shin Sekai Yori
Best OP: Psycho-Pass
Although this was not my favorite song (the honor belongs to Senran Kagura), Psycho-Pass has arguably one of the most stunning, gorgeous visuals of any OP I’ve ever seen. Easily my favorite out of all the openings this season, I find the combination of visuals and song to be strong enough to slightly end out numbers 2 and 3. Senran Kagura also had wonderful visuals with its fighting while JoJo’s 2nd OP is third.
Best ED: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Easily the best use of an ending, playing for 20 seconds during the final scenes of each episode and then… ‘To Be Continued’. You can’t beat that. And it certainly helps that Roundabout is a wonderful classic. Psycho-Pass places second and Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo follows.
Biggest Surprise: Zetsuen no Tempest
Tempest came out of nowhere to become one of the best anime of the season last Autumn with its final few episodes. However, what’s most surprising about Tempest now is how its second season performed. The anime transformed to be more relaxed and entertaining this season while maintaining its themes and focus and continued to execute well from start to finish. Never would have expected it to be like this after the Autumn season.
Biggest Disappointment: Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
Having high hopes for Maoyuu to be a follow-up to Spice and Wolf, Maoyuu proved to be nothing more than a jumbled adventure with no coherent story, pacing or direction. While enjoyable at times, Maoyuu proved to be nothing what I had hoped or expected it to be.
Best Finale: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
What a wild ride. What an absolute wild ride. But the best part about JoJo’s finale? Seeing the beginning to the third arc with Jotaro at the end. The sequel to the JoJo’s anime can’t come soon enough.
Most Hated Character: Kamiomi Tsukuymoi (Sasami-san@Ganbaranai)
Again, I’d like to take a moment to apologize to everyone who wanted to see my scores and rankings and reviews at the end of the season. There are no excuses for posting these reviews as late as they are, and I hope you took a time to read through them, revisit these anime and appreciate my thoughts and opinions on them. Thanks again for making it this far.