Finally, a season review that’s not awkwardly late. With the anime of Autumn 2013 still fresh in our mind, there is no better time to review the shows, evaluate their accomplishments, and assign grades before moving onto the anime of 2014. So here it is, my final review for the anime of Autumn 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.
KILL la KILL – 10
Review – What KILL la KILL accomplished this season is nothing short of exhilarating, astonishing, magnificent and dazzling. It’s a sensational and thrilling adventure teeming with emotion and electricity. It’s a stimulating anime that caters to exceptional entertainment and an intriguing story. And KILL la KILL has intangibles in its cast thanks to one of the greatest anime duos in history. What I’m saying is that KILL la KILL has everything… and then some. The animation and directing make every fight something to behold; each is a fun masterpiece that features humor and fanservice but also influences the story and carries lasting implications. Ryuuko and Mako are easily two of the greatest characters I have witnessed all year due thanks in part to their passion and personalities. They illustrate a genuine friendship where both sides support each other which makes their chemistry unparalleled. In fact, Ryuuko become my second favorite character of all-time thanks to her efforts and endeavors in this first season (appearance plays a big role, too). The fanservice is wacky and sometimes excessive but it fits the personality and style of this anime. And the comedy and humor completes the anime, supplementing the story with pauses and helping show that the anime wants to be fun, not entirely serious. It’s like someone wrote down all of my favorite things about anime and put them into this spectacular and magnanimous show. KILL la KILL is the best anime of 2013… and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it be the best anime of 2014 either as it continues into the new year.
Monogatari Series: Second Season – 10
Review – The Koimonogatari (Hitagi End) arc that concluded Monogatari Series is unquestionably my favorite arc in the Monogatari franchise and a significant reason why this is one of my favorite anime of the year. After lulls in Nisemonogatari and tame reactions from Nekomonogatari, I feel that the Monogatari franchise was successfully revived in this sequel thanks to some alternative perspectives and storytelling, some riveting storylines that depended upon and developed its characters (especially those outside Araragi) and that same vivid, pictographic Bakemonogatari-SHAFT-style that supplements these story through its phenomenal directing and insight into character’s thoughts. It seems that all that Monogatari needed to take the next step was to step away from Araragi and explore the characters for who they are without him. It’s no wonder that some of my favorite arcs were those with Tsubasa, Nadeko and Kaiki as the storytellers. And the stories that were explored this season were much deeper and fascinating than those of previous seasons. And all the familiar aspects of the Monogatari franchise that made it wonderful, such as the delightful cast of characters, the stunning visuals and powerful music made this one of the best anime of the year. I strongly recommend that anyone interested in this series make it a goal to finish Monogatari Series: Second Season at their earliest convenience.
Kyousogiga (TV) – 9
Review – Kyousogiga finally made it into a TV series after previous releases as an OVA and ONAs. Fortunately for fans of the franchise, the anime retained the same level of brilliance and excellence that makes this series so enjoyable. However, what this was able to do that the previous versions could not was include a complete story, develop its cast and its setting and answer questions that were asked but never answered. Unfortunately for me, I do have to wonder how the themes of this series changed, especially with the dominant Alice in Wonderland motifs and influences. It seems those parallels were ignored or forgotten when the story itself was in full gear. Still, despite that grievance and dispelling the mysteries of the series, I am happy to understand the history, events and characters of Kyousogiga now. The success of clear communication through elaborate and expressive stories really stood out to me with this series, though it could’ve done without the fights and action toward the end. The art was dramatic and colorful and the music was some of the best this season had to offer. The only other negative I have with this series is that the cast really never impressed me like they did in the OVA/ONAs, though it might’ve been tough to raise the bar after falling in love with the series then. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to this story though I do wonder where it could go from here if it did continue.
Kakumeiki Valvrave S2 – 9
Review – Valvrave has been an electrifying and exciting adventure with way too many over-the-top and excessive moments to count. The series succeeded and thrived on these moments, making it one of the more entertaining and amusing anime of the season. The cast began to grow on me more than in S1 since it began to broaden its scope, especially with some of the female cast members. I can’t say the story was really a strength for me but the numbers of twists and turns certainly kept it stimulating. I’ve always enjoyed mecha battles, especially those in space, but these were pretty mediocre for that genre and actually a bit disappointing knowing that this is a Sunrise anime and that should be one of the show’s strengths. I’m not sure whether I liked this season or the first half better. Both halves grade out about the same but they both grade out extremely high after doing extremely well.
Nagi no Asukara – 8
Review – How could I not love an anime with a dichotomous and symbiotic setting that heavily influenced every aspect of the show from its societies to its histories to its conflicts and its resolutions. Nagi no Asukara is an anime that’s driven by its setting as the first and foremost aspect of everything. Whether we’re in the picturesque and gorgeous underwater village of Shioshishio trying to retain its families and traditions or wonder what life would’ve been like if choices were different in Oshiooshi, the setting always found a way to push the narrative or the characters one way or the other. I always love a vivid, imaginative setting like Shioshishio but to have it drawn as magnificently as it is and to see it have this impact really wins me over. And while I could keep going on the setting, there are other aspects of the anime to talk about. Characters are good and fun; story is nice with the two societies fighting; art is great; music is fine. Okay, let’s get back to the setting shall we? And thankfully, we will with this anime continuing into 2014. Is anyone else excited to see how the setting will continue to be the driving force in the anime? You know I’ll be interested, although I can’t help but feel that the romance will take over as the main focus shortly.
Little Busters!: Refrain – 8
Review – Wow, what a turn-around. Who would’ve thought that focusing on a story that incorporated its characters and moved forward would be what Little Busters! needed to become a great anime? With the first season being saturated with irrelevant stories that were immediately forgotten upon whatever girl’s problems were resolved, the continuation of Little Busters! erased that mess by honing in on Riki and Rin and working a narrative that significantly improved their characters and moved the Little Busters! story to its end. Now, I can finally understand all the acclaim and popularity the series has. And while the series was far from perfect, I am very fortunate to have watched these 13 episodes to finish out the series on a positive note. So while I still am miserable and bitter about the first season, I can’t help but like the series as whole now thanks to this season. I am thoroughly satisfied with Riki as a main character, as well as most of the cast, all the explanations that occurred in the end and how the series resolved itself in its finale. Bravo, Little Busters!: Refrain, you’ve done something that only a few anime have done and improve by 2 points between season. That distinction is nothing short of astounding.
Freezing Vibration – 8
Review – Like the anime above it, Freezing’s sequel as saw a marked improvement over the original. Rather than continuing as a series about “girl of the week” and having nonsense fights, Freezing Vibration included a surprisingly decent story to its focus on fanservice and fighting. I’m rather surprised by the improvement in the cast too, especially since Freezing took the time to develop these girls and help you connect with them before their brutal and sometimes gory fights. The ecchi components of the anime were unashamed and frequent, but it never felt too excessive, forced or inappropriate though there were bouncy boobs, torn clothing, panties or uncensored bare breasts in every episode. I suppose that might be the case considering that Freezing is rather renowned for its ecchi fanservice. The fighting was rather tame in this season compared to the first, though that could be a result of there being a narrative in place and character development that usurped the time where girls would fight each other. Can’t say I’m complaining about it when the story arguably better than the fights themselves. Overall, Freezing Vibration was actually a pretty great anime with a decent story, fun characters and some satisfying entertainment. Although I couldn’t say I was terribly interested in the franchise when the first season ended in Winter 2011, I’m actually curious to see where the series goes from here and am looking forward to there being a possibility of another sequel.
Non Non Biyori – 8
Review – Non Non Biyori is a wonderful change-of-pace anime. If I had to choose a show where I wanted to sit back, kick my feet up and relax for 24 or so minutes, then there’s no question I’d choose Non Non Biyori. Non Non Biyori is an anime that understand what makes a slice-of-life a good slice-of-life. Rather than boring the audience or wearing out its welcome, Non Non Biyori is infectious with is cast and comedy. The series does offer some emotional highs and lows which helps you identify with the cast. And watching the girls spend their days in a quiet rural setting certainly calms you down more than an urban or other setting. The art is vibrant, colorful and beautiful, especially the various backgrounds. Non Non Biyori is a delightful, charming anime that is ideal for anime fans of all-types. Anyone can pick Non Non Biyori up and enjoy it for what it is, and I can only hope more people pick this anime up and give it a chance.
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta – 7
Review – Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta is a fine anime but something a little too shounen for me. While I feel in love with its cast of good characters, I couldn’t help but hate everything about the story and its cyclic pattern of fighting enemies and then accepting them as friends as though nothing happened. I don’t think I liked any of the villains (which is probably a first), as they all felt too idealistic and romantic. That is to say, none of them really had a plan and were evil just for the sake of being evil. The fights were exquisitely animated and exciting to watch, but you always knew how the fight would end based on who was fighting. I mean, everything in this anime was predictable, not just the stories. The art and animation was easily the greatest strength of this anime and was demonstrated during the fights, but I thought it had superior animation and art throughout. I wasn’t expecting such a high level of fanservice coming into the anime and was slightly disappointed that it kept shoving it in your face throughout but it was never too vulgar and often played up for jokes or lame humor. The setting with the two dimensions blending together was certainly interesting but unfortunately was ignored along with the plot for fighting various villains. Overall, the anime was enjoyable and entertaining but had some deficiencies and difficulties along the way, particularly on how shounen it was and what that meant for the characters and the story. Still, seeing how it ranks compared to the other anime on this list, I must say it did pretty well.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (S2) – 7
Review – Magi continues its series by featuring some of the best episodes since its beginning and offering the series a chance to reinvent itself with its characters pursuing their own goals. With the latter half of the first season of Magi becoming stale, tedious and eventually boring, I’m pleased with how Magi redeveloped its sense of magic and adventure instead of droning on and on about made-up politics and societal troubles (that have now been completely forgotten by everyone). And now with the characters branching off, Magi is providing us with the experience of seeing each character on their own and highlighting their strengths and how far they’ve come as characters. Not only that, but we’re beginning to explore the world and can see the foreshadowing of global events to come. This has been a surprisingly decent and pleasant are of Magi and I hope it continues this way into 2014. With the events playing out like this, I can’t wait to see a colossal war or event break out between the various nations where Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryuu are. This season has certainly been a positive for Magi as a franchise and I hope this trajectory continues as we begin the second half of S2.
Samurai Flamenco – 7
Review – Samurai Flamenco began as an intelligent, insightful and though-provoking series that touched on the topics of justice, adventure and the purpose of one’s life. Now, it’s just a humorless satire of Hero and Sentai that has removed all thought, intrigue and cleverness from its. It’s a shell of itself. It has now become a parody of the anime it once was, but it’s not even a good parody at that. Everything that Samurai Flamenco had going for it is now gone and what’s left are memories of what could’ve been. Sure, there have been some highlights since the infamous Guillotine Gorilla scene, but it’s been far more bad than good. I’m hoping the anime can correct itself soon before we’re too far into the second season and we find Hazama waking from a coma in the hospital and it all being a dream. I think something as terrible and cheesy as that would be the perfect way to cancel out everything wrong with this series. I couldn’t imagine watching another 11 episodes of this garbage otherwise.
Gingitsune – 6
Review – Gingitsune accomplished something that no anime has really ever done before: Gingitsune defined what the baseline for an anime should be. Why? Because Gingitsune did nothing for me as an anime. With Gingitsune, I never feel really excited or found anything positive with itself. The heralds weren’t doing anything, there were no major conflicts and all the characters seemed pretty content with their lives. On the other hand, I never hated anything or felt disgusted by what’s going on. Although I felt bored during the anime, it never really got to the point where I wanted to drop it and spend my time doing something better. In fact, everything about this anime was average. Nothing in this anime was ever good or bad. Hell, the anime had about the same level of originality or innovation that I expect from an anime, too. Everything about this anime was plain, ordinary or average. And while this anime is well below my median for anime, I can’t help but wonder if this is like a tool to measure anime in terms of whether I like them or hate them. I mean, a high 6 is pretty much where I envisioned the cut-off being for liking and hating an anime, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see an anime of this caliber end up here. Maybe the lasting impression of Gingitsune will be to create the “Gingitsune Test” where I evaluate whether I like or hate an anime more than Gingitsune. Maybe I’ll develop such a test if this anime is the least bit memorable.
Galilei Donna – 6
Review – Well, if we’re going to apply the “Gingitsune Test” to anything, let’s start now with Galilei Donna. Yes, I hated Galilei Donna though not passionately or feverously. The story of the anime was, to put it nicely, one of the worst trainwrecks I have ever watched. The story was an arbitrary collection of nonsense that formed a cohesive mess that held this anime down like a battleship’s anchor. Yes, I know the anime was originally planned for 22 episodes and cut to 11 but there is no excuse for this catastrophe of a story. Literally, nothing important in this anime was resolved. Why the hell even include those bits if you weren’t going to resolve them in some way or some capacity? Ugh, moving on… although the anime was about three sisters, it ended up being about Hozuki and two pieces of extra baggage that occasionally talked. The setting was about an energy crisis and Galileo hiding the answer in various places around the world (that he could never have possibly visited) for his great(x20)-granddaughters to circumnavigate the globe to find and save the world. Yes, that’s literally the basis of the story and it might’ve been the best part this anime had to offer. The art and animation were fine though at times inadequate and subpar. I can’t help but wonder what this anime would’ve been like had it doubled its time and had 22 episodes to flesh out a story instead of 11. Considering what we saw with these 11, I could consider myself lucky that it was trimmed in half to get this trainwreck over in half the time.
BlazBlue: Alter Memory – 6
Review – Why would you make an anime about a fighting video game and make it about a story and not the fights? Really, the disappointment that was BlazBlue was not its shoddy and incomprehensible story but the fact that there were only a handful of fights throughout the anime and that none of them were particularly good or interesting. The cast was completely underutilized and many characters had no place in the story despite being significantly better than the story. Seriously, why did this anime need to have a story and why did the story have to dominate throughout? The anime would’ve been much, much better had it just been random characters wandering through their days and fighting each other. I hate to say it but Queen’s Blade had a better story and better fights than this anime. And while we’re on the subject, better art and animation, too. Often times, the careless art would be inadequate for the fights and the style was rather flat or plain when it was just characters talking. Really, this series was a letdown and frustrating to watch. It’s too bad you can’t fight against this anime as a character in BlazBlue since I’m sure every fan of the franchise would love to beat this up time and time again.
Coppelion – 5
Review – The failure that is Coppelion has to beg the question: how do you mean an anime this bad? The only was the story a disaster on part with the nuclear reactor exploding but it was so dodgy and schizophrenic that I couldn’t tell whether it was supposed to be like this on purpose of if the director was a dog that got distracted by a squeaky toy every episode. No one in the cast was enjoyable and may characters were insufferable, especially Aoi who always screamed or complained or whined about everything. She should never have been put in this anime. The setting was a decent idea but the execution was appalling, and the science used to explain it was shameful. The anime just made-up whatever it wanted for whatever reason and, most of the time, it was laughable like the 10-minute timer to live complete with a countdown timer in the corner. The action was hilarious because it was so hilariously bad and the fights were just a series of haphazard events strung in a sequence and unfortunately animated for our torture. Really, the main issue with Coppelion is that the nuclear disaster didn’t kill everyone there, which would’ve saved us from watching this anime. I can only hope that others don’t make the same mistake I do and watch Coppelion.
Achievements of Autumn 2013:
Best Art: Monogatari Series: Second Season
Best Characters: KILL la KILL
Best Entertainment: KILL la KILL
Best Setting: Non Non Biyori
Best Sound: KILL la KILL
Best Story: Monogatari Series: Second Season
Best OP: Monogatari Series: Second Season OP4
That parody, that song, that animation style; everything was spectacular and outstanding in Monogatari’s OP4. They left no detail untouched, even going to the effort of including the karaoke at the bottom for fans to sing along. There is no question that this was the best opening of the season and for one of the best anime of the season, too.
Best ED: Kyousogiga (TV)
I’ve always had a thing for endings that begin to play while the episode is still showing and Kyousogiga’s ED frequently began during a touching or moving moment. The song is also one of my favorites and it is more than enough to make up for the basic and unexciting visuals.
Biggest Surprise: Little Busters!: Refrain
The sequel to Little Busters! helped reverse my opinion of the whole franchise from negative to positive. I never expected the anime to perform such a reversal but now I like Little Busters! and have positive memories of it. I’m really impressed with what Little Busters!: Refrain was able to do and happy to have watched it this season.
Biggest Disappointment: Samurai Flamenco
Samurai Flamenco is the greatest disappointing because it was at one point good and then became bad. And bad might be generous because it’s really, really, really bad right now. I had considered BlazBlue and Coppelion for this spot since both are worse than Flamenco right now but it’s rare to see an anime go from an 8 to a 6 in the span of one episode.
Best Finale: Monogatari Series: Second Season
Kaiki is my favorite character in the Monogatari franchise and witnessing his story and the pinnacle of his character and performance was an unforgettable experience. Listening to his final speech was more a reflection on himself and his life than anything else and painted a beautiful portrait of one of the most fascinating antagonists in anime history. To see a character with such profound depth and insight is what made this finale my favorite and helped elevate Monogatari to a 10.
Most Hated Character: Aoi Fukasaku (Coppelion)
Thank you for reading through my review for Autumn 2013. Next, I hope to move on to 2014 after completing a final review that take into account everything that happened in 2013. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post despite being well into Winter 2014 at this current moment.