Since I never posted a final review for the Spring 2013 anime season, I figured now would be better than later. And while it’s not as late as some other season reviews, this one is a tad late. Nevertheless, it’s always worthwhile to take a moment and look back at how the anime of Spring 2013 performed.
Before we begin, the ranking of anime below was completed at the end of June 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 Summer 2013 may have different grades in that review based on how they performed in their latter half. These are only the reviews from April-June 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.
Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) – 9
Review – The thrill and exhalation of Shingeki no Kyojin is what earns it the top spot for Spring 2013. The raw emotion, the wholesome terror and the magnificently animated and choreographed fights were the driving forces behind this striking and powerful anime. Beyond that, the setting is what stood out to me the most. The world they live in, their culture, their technologies and how humans coexist with the titans quickly became my favorite aspects of this anime. The cast of characters were a curious bunch, highlighting some of the diversity in the world and having good chemistry with each other. I don’t think I care much for the story since I’m not sure exactly what’s going on but that’s really the least of my worries. The biggest concern is if the anime will continue to keep up the fighting art and animation or if it will wane in the second half of the series. Most of the series has been gorgeous and I appreciate the rough, defined art style, but I am concerned that the quality might drop eventually. Other than that, it’s easily the top anime of the season for me.
Chihayafuru 2 – 9
Review – Although the score of Chihayafuru 2 did dip toward the end of this sequel, I still find this intense and expressive series to be one of the best of the year. What caused the drop from a 10 to a 9 was partially due to some fatigue with the series and how it’s charm diminished during the individuals tournament… largely because we already knew these characters and the matches became a bit too predictable. To me, I always loved meeting new characters, learning their style, understanding their contrast to Chihaya and the others and discovering their love for karuta. Secondly, I love how unpredictable the matches were in the first 40 episodes with there being an equal chance of the protagonists winning or losing. With those points virtually removed in this latter half of the sequel, I began to lose my passion for the series. So while it still is on perfectly fine in every category, from art to sound to story to entertainment to characters, I found these episodes to be the least attractive thus far and a step below the original. However, I have high hopes that a third season would bounce back and maybe be the best that the franchise has to offer.
Suisei no Gargantia (Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet) – 9
Review – Gargantia is another one of those anime that match my taste better than others. Considering that the strengths of the series were its setting and the development of its lead characters, I think it’d be absurd if I didn’t fall in love with this anime. Still, there were some faults with the series, particularly in the middle when it decided that girls in bikinis was more interesting than Ledo growing up, but it wasn’t as grievous or botched like some people made it out to be. Otherwise, I found the story to be intriguing and motivating, especially in relation to Ledo’s character. I absolutely loved the setting, how it depicted its numerous societies and how they heavily influenced Ledo’s character. The character designs were a real strength in terms of the art and the animation was often excellent but it was subpar or merely adequate at times. Nevertheless, I was thoroughly impressed and satisfied with Gargantia which justifies its lofty score of a nine out of ten.
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Valvrave the Liberator) – 9
Review – The unpredictability, sheer absurdity and ridiculousness of Valvrave is what made Valvrave such an engaging, electrifying and entertaining anime to watch. Its use of parodies, twists, surprises and reveals helped catapult the series to the upper echelon of anime for Spring 2013 and I’m thrilled to learn the second half will be airing shortly in Autumn 2013. Hopefully by then they can fix some of the minor issues, particularly with Haruto being rather lame and boring for a male lead (which for an anime is saying a lot). If Haruto weren’t such a whiny puppet, Valvrave would likely have ranked higher among the anime this season but his character is the main fault I have with Valvrave. The fights have been a bit underwhelming too, though that’s largely given to making sure the heroes always win with whatever deus-ex-machina they need that was relevant to the current episode. That pattern of fighting has always bored me and trends seriously close to the absolutely dreadful Shounen Fight Syndrome that I detest. The character designs were attractive, especially for the under-utilized female cast, and I always enjoy a good space setting (there aren’t enough of those in anime anymore). I found myself genuinely happy with this first season of Valvrave and am excited to see how the series does when it returns in October.
Yuyushiki – 8
Review – Enchanting, endearing and delightful, Yuyushiki is a charismatic and enticing anime that will please your eyes with its cutesy art style, warm your heart with its characters, and make you laugh with its random style of humor. Yuyushiki triumphed with its calming set-up where the girls were in class, at their club or just hanging out and trying to make each other smile with their silly jokes, odd behaviors or commentary on whatever they found on the internet. The surprisingly appropriate level of immaturity for these highschool girls was never overboard or unrealistic and helped the audience connect with the characters and their awkward but happy lives. It also helps that the themes of this anime were carefree and cheerful and that the art was soft and pleasant. It never really had any issues besides some jokes just missing me completely but that’s true for every comedy. However, unlike most comedies, I was smiling throughout due to Yuyushiki being one of the most charming and enjoyable anime of the year. If anyone is interested in a simple, lighthearted comedy, I’d strongly recommend Yuyushiki.
Hataraku Maou-sama! – 8
Review – Hataraku Maou-sama is an anime that had its ups and its downs. Fortunately for us, it featured more ups than downs with its rather appealing and innovative take on the now popular Hero/Demon King (Yuusha/Maou) setting. Of particular note for this anime was how well its humor and personality fit when the characters switched from their fantasy realm, Ente Isla, to modern-day, urban Japan. What really impressed me to start was the comedy and, as that waned over time, I found myself enjoying the series because I had grown attached to the characters and enjoyed their company and growth together. There weren’t a whole lot in the way of negatives for this series but its charm began to lose its luster toward the end when its comedy took a back seat to light novel plots. Really, that final story arc did more damage than good for this series. I also would’ve enjoyed seeing a segment where Chiho visits Ente Isla but maybe that can be saved for another day. In fact, I hope to see it continue again someday since it turned out to be one of the most delightful and enjoyable anime of Spring 2013.
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride – 7
Review – The best kind of ecchi/fighting anime are the ones without plots or ones that don’t take their plot seriously. It seems Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls learned its lesson with this sequel, Samurai Bride, since the anime introduced its plot in the first episode, then forgot about it for a good half of the series. And if the sequel stayed that way, I’d be tempted to raise Samurai Bride up even higher. What made this sequel significantly better than the original is that it wanted to have fun and fanservice be its primary focus whereas the first one took itself too seriously with such a ridiculous plot and even more ridiculous amount of fanservice. The franchise took a step in the right direction with this move while increasing the wacky antics of the cast and their world. As always, the art style is fashionable and memorable with its emphasis on traditional Japanese art but blended with modern moe character designs for a refined and stylish fusion. The comedy seemed to be better throughout this series but that is probably due to Naoe being given more screentime which coincided with the anime wanting to be more fun and fanservice than serious and empty. Overall, it’s still not a remarkable franchise or a great anime, but it is dumb fun and I was sufficiently entertained. If there’s anyone out there who likes harems, swords, boobs and ink, then Samurai Bride is worth checking out.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 7
Review – I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Railgun/Index franchise, not because I don’t enjoy the shows, but because I never really feel hooked or all that engaged. Unlike the other anime above it where I experience a list of emotions and enjoy the experience, I feel like watching Railgun is watching Railgun and nothing more. However, this first half of the sequel to the spin-off of Index had some of the best episodes in this franchise and arguably the best that Railgun has offered. The battles between Misaka and Frenda were actually clever and entertaining, something rare for me for in a Railgun/Index anime. And with the anime heading to the Sisters Arc next, I’m thrilled to see it through Misaka’s perspective knowing what happened from Touma’s when it was shown in Index S1. Otherwise, not a whole lot to comment on other than that the anime is trending up for me which bodes well for it heading into its second half next season.
Devil Survivor 2 The Animation – 7
Review – Devil Survivor 2 really tore me in half. On one hand, the anime had a phenomenal cast of characters and an intriguing setting, two things that are hallmarks of my favorite anime. On the other hand, this is one of the worst trainwrecks of a story I have ever witnessed and am just shocked at how awkward this anime was from what I heard of the original game. I can see why so many fans of the franchise were appalled with this anime considering its story alone, and it makes me want to pick up the game for myself to see what’s missing. Hell, the game would have the same characters and setting, so it’s almost guaranteed to be better than this anime. But still, the anime was my introduction to these characters, these battles and the scenario, so I did find positive there. But still, the whole story, the plot progressions, the events and everything was just… bad. Besides that, the only other points worth noting are that the art was substandard but the music was marvelous (one of the best this season, actually). Like I said, I was torn on this anime but it feels like a 7 considering how much I enjoyed the positives coupled with how much I despised the negatives.
Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. (S2) – 7
Review – OreImo is like two anime to me with one being one that I like and another being one that I hate. OreImo S2 does have some intelligence, insightful and hilarious episodes. In fact, I think I laughed out loud more with this anime than with any other this season. And considering that comedy is my favorite genre of anime, that would predict a good score for OreImo S2. But… the relationships, especially with Kirino, are really the bane of the franchise for me and the aspect I hate most about this anime. Without it, if it were just an outsider brother observing otaku culture, watching anime and dipping into eroge or whatever, then this would be a significantly better franchise. But no, like many anime, the “romance” feels wrong, feels forced and feels like an anchor holding this anime down. I wonder how much more I’d like this anime if all those aspects were removed and we were left with genuinely good comedy and otaku references. I think it would be an 8, maybe even a low/borderline 9. But no, OreImo S2 is about the same as S1, scoring a medium 7, though I’d argue that I enjoyed this more than S1 (but only marginally).
Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W – 6
Review – Although Nyaruko-san is labeled as a comedy, it’s really not that funny to me. When watching episodes of Nyaruko-san W, I never really recall myself laughing or smiling or really enjoying myself. And more often than not, I’d just be bored from start to finish. There were times when the humor was just banal and devoid of any amusement that left me jaded, especially during the relentless anime/otaku parodies that often felt forced or uninspired. There were only a handful of characters that I liked but none that I loved. And characters like Nyaruko and Mahiro got more irritating as the series progressed. Really, I think I’m done at this point as the whole Lovecraftian theme in this anime is not played well. Nyaruko-san is really just another normal, stereotypical anime that just mentions Lovecraft rather than utilize it or make it anything significant. Had this been about magic or other aliens or anything, then I probably would’ve passed on this series long ago. Well, after this one, it seems like I’ll be done with it now.
Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san – 5
Review – Like the anime mentioned above, Muromi-san was another anime I felt was never funny and never really enjoyed. However, unlike Nyaruko-san W, Muromi-san made me feel irritated, a feeling worse than boredom, and had no redeeming qualities outside of Yeti. The anime did feature some amazing animation but I couldn’t get passed the content of the anime which pissed me off more than not. It was just agonizing to get through an episode, which thankfully were only 13 minutes each. The main source of their frustration derives from the cast of characters more than anything else, with literally everyone (besides Yeti) pissing me off at one point or another. Obviously there were some worse offenders out there than others, but if there aren’t characters I can enjoy, I’m not going to enjoy an anime no matter how good it is elsewhere. That being said, there are no real qualms with the retro art style, the music or the setting, so we’ll end on that as a high note for Muromi-san.
Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge – 5
Review – Crime Edge is an abysmal, unpleasant and laughable anime. Just about everything about it was stupid, from its nonsensical stories to its silly scenario (the Killing Goods, the Insteads, the Murderer’s Game) to its clichéd cast of characters to its unfortunate fanservice and beyond. There were characters and plot points that were just bizarre and confusing with several that were never resolved. I realize the manga that it’s based off of is continuing, but it could’ve worked on that rather than showcasing “assassins of the week” for no reason that had no real impact on the plot toward the end. The art, animation, and fights were all forgettable, thankfully. There really wasn’t anyone in the cast that I enjoyed though that was a minor concern with trying to rationalize or understand the plot or content of the anime. Really, I can’t say anything good about this anime because there wasn’t anything good in it. In fact, I think I can safely say I regret watching Crime Edge.
Achievements of Spring 2013:
Best Art: Shingeki no Kyojin
Best Characters: Kakumeiki Valvrave
Best Entertainment: Yuyushiki
Best Setting: Suisei no Gargantia
Best Sound: Chihayafuru 2
Best Story: Suisei no Gargantia
Best OP: Shingeki no Kyojin
Both the song and the animation are spectacular in Shingeki no Kyojin’s OP. As soon as I first watched it, I knew it would be my favorite, it’s just that good and that powerful. Devil Survivor 2 and Muromi-san also has great openings.
Best ED: Devil Survivor 2 the Animation
The way the song builds up with the flashing realities (normal world/destroyed world) is enough for it to be my favorite of the season. But the climax of the song as it pans through all the characters in their normal lives is hands-down one of the best EDs I have seen. Valvrave, Gargantia and Titan all deserve some recognition for their solid EDs, too.
Biggest Surprise: Yuyushiki
Yuyushiki didn’t seem all that impressive before the season started and had a lackluster first half of episode 1 but really came on strong thereafter. In a season with no strong comedies, this slice-of-life anime made me smile through its charm and chemistry.
Biggest Disappointment: Suisei no Gargantia
Gargantia earns the distinction for being the biggest disappointment, not because of its content or performance but because I hyped myself up too much for this anime. While it still places third for the season and will be among the top for this year, I was thinking this could be the best anime all year. It’s up there but there are already several that have passed it with two more seasons to go. Not really a disappointment like others but one that frustrated me the most because of how much I cared for it.
Best Finale: Kakumeiki Valvrave
The strengths of Valrvave were highlighted in this finale with so much unpredictability, twists, and plot reveals that you would kill to start the second half once the finale ended. Not only that but the action, dynamic and fighting were at their best in this episode, too.
Most Hated Character: Oarfish (Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san)
As you probably noticed, I’m trying to finish up all the Season Reviews I missed in 2012 and 2013 before I finish my Final Review for 2013 and start my preview for 2014. I hope to have all these out soon though I can’t make promises, especially considering that this post is 6 months late already.