Here is my final review for the anime that aired in 2013. Focusing only on the most excellent, most remarkable and most memorable of 2013, this review will document and explain my favorite 13 characters of the year and my favorite 13 anime of the year, too. It’s been a rather exciting year of anime, especially with the recent publications of my season reviews for 2013, so let’s see how everything comes together with one last look at the anime of 2013.
Just a quick note before beginning: the list is just on the television anime of the year and does not include movies or OVAs. Furthermore, it includes any anime that aired over the year regardless of when it began or when it ends, so some of the anime and characters from 2012 will be appearing again.
Top 13 Characters of 2013:
Honorable Mention: Yeti (Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san)
Had Yeti been given more screentime, she might actually rank on the list. Had Yeti been given more screentime, Muromi-san would have definitely been a better anime. Had Yeti been given more screentime, I’d be happier. It’s rare to see a character have such an impact, but Yeti’s limited screentime isn’t really enough to warrant keeping her on the list. A real shame since nothing came close to Yeti in Muromi-san.
13. Aki Mikage (Silver Spoon)
A pure and gentle heart, Aki is always found with a smile on her face and her hand extended, willing to help anyone in trouble. Not only is she adept and knowledgeable about the agriculture business, she also has initiative and is willing to do what it takes to keep her family business alive or to help her friends. Her personality is heartwarming and it’s no wonder why everyone around her enjoys her sincere company.
12. Kona “Frau” Furugoori (Robotics;Notes)
The second half of Robotics;Notes demonstrated the depth, complexity and fears of Frau turning her character from a charming comic relief to one of the most interesting in Robotics;Notes. Still, her personality never faltered and actually grew as a result, keeping her humorous demeanor intact while also playing a vital role in the story and to the other characters.
11. Hakaze Kusaribe (Zetsuen no Tempest)
Hakaze was the mysterious and sexy princess/witch who singlehandedly drove much of the story of Zetsuen no Tempest. When she was rescued, her role greatly expanded and we saw every bit of her character including her comedy, her intelligence, her passions and her fears. When she was around the other characters, she really shined as a protagonist, especially with the relaxed, comical atmosphere in the second half of Tempest. Easily the best character from a rather solid cast in Tempest.
10. Zoë Hange (Shingeki no Kyojin)
The Scouting Legion’s Squad Leader, Zoë was an obsessive and fanatical girl who had a passion for understanding the Titans that preyed on humanity. Her quest for knowledge and understanding was unlike anyone else in the series and the distinction of her character would influence the story and characters in tremendous ways. Not only that but she turned out to be the funniest character, too, with frequent jokes based on her and her manias. She was the only one of her kind in Shingeki no Kyojin and really brightened up the series for me.
9. Tomoko Kuroki (Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!)
You can’t help but feel bad for Tomoko but it’s hard not to laugh when you realize how silly or stupid or narcissistic she is. And everything that’s miserable or deplorable about her or her actions comes across as cute or humorous. It’s what makes our lovable loser who she is, and it helps us develop an honest connection to Tomoko, even if you haven’t experienced the same number or same types of failures as her. And when she has those small, little victories, her smile is sincere and you can tell how elated and cheerful she is. Her emotions and reactions are what make her and what make Watamote an unforgettable experience. Now, if only she didn’t care so much and was like that rare, happy Tomoko more often…
8. Yura Yamato (Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu)
The growth and maturity of Yura Yamato is one of the best stories of any anime this year and a huge reason why Yura grew to be one of my favorites of 2013. She began as nothing more than a cheerful and naïve schoolgirl, hoping to have fun and makes lots of friends at school only to be swept up in fear, regret, selfishness, scorn, obsession, loss and isolation. And let’s not forget her overactive imagination which was also fascinating to behold. Fortunately for Yura, her story ends on a happy note thanks to her wonderful cohort of friends, but the journey to how she got there is what makes her one of my favorite for this year.
7. Joseph Joestar (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
Joseph was a significant improvement over Jonathan, thanks largely to his hilarious personality and his creativity. Joseph really dominated the Battle Tendency arc with his eccentric and wild behaviors, often turning serious scenes into jokes without any hesitation. And his creativity during battles made every fight intriguing and unpredictable. JJBA really improved during the Battle Tendency arc thanks to its characters and none were more influential than Joseph Joestar.
6. Hitagi Senjougahara (Monogatari Series: Second Season)
Senjougahara has always been my favorite girl in the Bakemonogatari franchise, but I often felt like her character was underutilized in the various stories. With this sequel taking the perspectives of various characters, we saw multiple layers to Senjougahara’s character, painting her character much deeper and more complex than ever hinted at. She also showed how much of a true friend she is when rescuing Tsubasa and how she supported her through her struggles. Her character shined brightest during Hitagi End and revealed just how troubled she is when paired with the confident Kaiki. She really is a fascinating character and I’m thrilled we got to learn more about her and see more of her in this sequel.
5. Mako Mankanshoku (KILL la KILL)
Mako is the essence of pure energy. Not only is she cute and fun to be around but she is always doing whatever she can to help Ryuuko out, even if it means putting her life in danger. She is the very definition of a ‘best friend’ and supports Ryuuko any way possible. She’s always smiling and hyper and bouncing around the scenery making her the best source of comedy in KILL la KILL. She really provides a spark that no one else possesses in KILL la KILL and her role in supporting Ryuuko is irreplaceable.
4. Akane Tsunemori (Psycho-Pass)
Watching Akane develop as a detective and as a person in Pscyho-Pass is nothing short of astonishing. Her character began as a blank slate and was carefully molded and sculpted into a strong, confident woman who developer her own philosophy of justice and stuck to it. Although she eventually conflicted against her friends and her society, Akane remained strong. Additionally, she was still a sweetheart on the inside and worked to make her life and everything around her better. I can’t wait to see what happens next when Psych-Pass returns in 2014.
3. Mother Kuroki [Tomoko’s mother] (Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!)
If you know me well enough, you know exactly why this minor character is my third favorite for 2013. Like Tomoko, you can’t help but feel bad for everything that happens to Tomoko’s mother. Not only does she have to take care of a disconnected family with her father working late and her son busy at school, with sports and having a social life, but she has an ungrateful, lethargic daughter that constantly causes her trouble. But everything she does for Tomoko, even when she’s smacking some sense into Tomoko, she’s doing it with motherly love. She’s really the only character who genuinely cares about Tomoko and tries to help her thought Tomoko constantly resent hers, never thanks her and fails to listen to her advice. Still, she continues to help and support her troubled child whenever she can. And for that, I can’t help but admire Tomoko’s mom for her compassionate personality, her unyielding resilience and her love for her family.
2. Deishu Kaiki (Monogatari Series: Second Season)
With Kaiki transitioning from antagonist to protagonist, Monogatari Series explored this fascinating character further adding to his complexity and even going as far as to completely reverse the perspective of his role in the series. Not only do we view Kaiki as a tragic hero now but we begin to understand his personal philosophy and how he justifies or rationalizes his actions and behaviors. Beyond that, Kaiki is a suave and sophisticated gentleman who incorporates dry humor into his conversations and intelligence into his dialogues. He’s easily the most mesmerizing and remarkable character in the franchise and I’d love to learn more about him if given the chance.
1. Ryuuko Matoi (KILL la KILL)
Ryuuko was unrivaled as a character this year thanks due to the constant dichotomy of her character. Her passion and determination for revenge illustrates her character as a hot-headed tomboy though this is an exterior she constructed due to her troubled past and fragile nature. Her quest for vengeance and bloodlust is really an excuse for her to get to know her father since she regrets never having done that when she had the opportunity. Ryuuko constantly struggles and fights and projects a tough image despite the fact she just wants to live a happy and comfortable life with family and friends. She’s really torn between two worlds and doesn’t know how to exist or thrive in either. Not only that but she’s a perfect match for my favorite archetype and appearance in anime and the constant fanservice is a plus, too. It’s no wonder that she became my second favorite anime character and I’m excited to see what happens to her when KILL la KILL continues into 2014.
Favorite OP and ED of 2013:
OP: Psycho-Pass OP2 (Out of Control)
If Monogatari Series: Second Season OP4 were done in the retro style throughout without reverting back to the modern style, it would have won. But instead, my favorite opening of 2013 is one which used a gorgeous retro style throughout with brilliant overlays of color on a pencil sketch world. The shading, lighting and texture really bring out the visuals in this. Plus the song is catchy, too, and one of my favorite from this year.
ED: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Roundabout)
I always love it when an ending song begins playing during the finale, climactic moments of the episode and no ending did this transition better than Roundabout from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Although this was a carryover from 2012, the visuals were improved by overlaying a flashlight on mysterious ruins rather than blood flowing through a sculpture. I also like this latter part of the song, so I found what was one of the best EDs of 2012 had become the best of 2013.
Top 13 Anime of 2013:
Honorable Mention: Death Billiards
I was thinking of putting Teekyuu or Garden of Words here but decided on Death Billiards, an OVA from the Anime Mirai 2013. While Little Witch Academia stole the spotlight from this year’s Anime Mirai, being the most popular thanks to its charm and spirited animation, it was Death Billiards which stood out to me as the best of the four Anime Mirai anime. Not only did it have a superior story and fascinating characters but the style and focus of the animation caught my attention and made the experience memorable. Keep an eye out for Yuzuru Tachikawa and Shinichi Kurita.
13. Love Lab
Love Lab was a delightful surprise thanks largely to its charming nature and the chemistry between its cast of characters. I always expected the series to go stale or to focus too heavily on romance, but the comedy was always fresh, hysterical and always endearing. I’m often hard on grading comedies, so the score and ranking may seem low, but this was one of my favorite anime of the year and would rank above several anime ahead of this if I were ranking on that scale alone.
12. Uchouten Kazoku
The beautiful story of a struggling tanuki family, Uchouten Kazoku ended up being a favorite through its memorable cast of characters and its detailed, dazzling art style. The anime was also humorous, captivating and intellectual. Furthermore, the culmination of events and storylines at the end finished the series with a heartwarming message and left me extremely satisfied. I’d love to see what happens next but it ended so well, I don’t want to disrupt this content feeling.
11. Kakumeiki Valvrave (Valvrave the Liberator)
What helped make Valvrave memorable were its unexpected twist and turns and shocking developments. The series was a wild and entertaining ride with frequent mecha fights, an extensive cast of appealing characters and a vibrant and excellent art style that brought everything to life. The ranking here is a ranking for both the Spring and Autumn seasons together, though if they were separated, they’d be about this ranking with not much separating the two.
10. Kyousogiga (TV)
Kyousogiga is a remarkable anime that features a solid cast, an intriguing, mysterious story and an unforgettable world where everything takes place. The whole series is entertaining and enjoyable, a delightful adventure that explores the setting and closes with some beautiful characterization while revealing the story itself. The themes and parallels are robust in this series and the art is imaginative, energetic and fun. Easily one of the best anime of the year.
9. Suisei no Gargantia
Although I do have some complaints with Gargantia, the anime is still one of my favorites thanks to its outstanding cast of characters, the influential art style and a magnificent setting that proved to be one of my favorite in 2013. Ledo and Chamber really drove the anime with their constant efforts in exploration and understanding, especially when the two allies would quarrel with each other based on their growth or lack of comprehension. The setting itself is extraordinary and one that I cherish, especially with its high-level of detail and how it was emphasized in the story. If it had addressed a few issues with some of the story and some episodes, this could’ve been much, much higher.
8. Chihayafuru 2
Chihayafuru 2 continues its tradition of being one of my favorite anime with a sequel full of fascination, charm and two exciting, new characters. The second season featured numerous more karuta matches and made them more exciting, thanks largely to the characters themselves getting better and playing against better competition. The sequel also helped develop the cast further, continuing where the first season left off. I can’t wait for a third season to start since everything about this anime has been fantastic.
7. Shin Sekai Yori
Cerebral and astute, Shin Sekai Yori was an absolutely remarkable anime with a profound and insightful cast of characters, a series of harrowing and gripping stories and an innovative dystopian setting that instilled fear through both its society and its unknown. This drama/horror was represented by an exceptional and unique art style that helped give the anime a serious, somber style. And the final story arc was a thrilling and powerful journey that tied everything together. Shin Sekai Yori is also my second favorite horror anime of all-time.
6. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
That sheer rush of adrenaline and excitement, that satisfaction that comes with a downed titan, these are the feelings of Shingeki no Kyojin, an emotional rollercoaster that rushes the audience through terror, panic, rage, and exhilaration. This powerful series had some of the best fights, both in terms of animation/direction and how they impacted the story and the constant struggle of humanity made every fight a decisive one. The setting with its steampunk mechanics and horrific (sometimes hilarious) titans also helped make this series memorable. The adventure, emotion and enjoyment of Shingeki no Kyojin are reasons why I want to continue the anime and I want to continue it now.
Psycho-Pass really developed in its latter half, revealing shocking secrets about the setting, turning characters and organizations against each other and creating one of the greatest anime of 2012 and 2013. I absolutely loved what Psycho-Pass was able to accomplish with Akane and how she struggled against the criminals, the society and even her friends throughout the course of the anime. Not only did this have my favorite setting of the year but it was used routinely throughout and heavily influenced everything that occurred. The dialogues were often profound and thoughtful and really painted the characters as dynamic humans instead of lame stereotypes. There’s also a good chance of seeing this anime reappear next year as one of the best anime of 2014 when the sequel returns to television.
4. Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!
Watamote is an insightful and entertaining comedy with a slice-of-life story of a troubled, young girl who’s struggling over her own unpopularity while failing to address her narcissism. Often times the series played these out as jokes for laughs but it were the heartwarming triumphs of Tomoko that were the most memorable and produced the biggest smiles. Shin Oonuma directed this masterpiece and incorporated his unique visual style in this anime with numerous effects, colors, transitions, lighting and perspective to influence the scenes and draw out the raw emotion or to make the joke more hilarious. This is one of my all-time favorite comedies and I’d love to see this series continue.
3. Monogatari Series: Second Season
Monogatari Series: Second Season is easily the best the Monogatari franchise has had to offer. Not only was the performance masterful with its characters, its art and its directing but the stories were significantly improved and they continued to build off the foundation left behind from previous Monogataris. The differing perspectives and alternative storytelling augmented the series and provided the chance to see characters in new ways. These differences were more than enough to warrant the high grade and ranking and end the franchise at a new, all-time high for me.
2. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the most riveting and spellbinding anime that I have ever seen. In addition to the extravagant and tremendous fights that caught the attention of the audience, the series had some rather perceptive and remarkable dialogue and storytelling. There was genuine and original comedy, too, which helped make the series be delightful beyond the frequent unnerving action sequences. The cast was outstanding and the art style was distinctive and matchless, especially with its liberal use of colors. JoJo’s never stopped being thrilling or breathtaking and was an experience that showcased how entertainment and storytelling can be and should be intertwined. I’m looking forward to seeing the series continue in 2014, seeing as this is one of my favorite anime of all-time.
1. KILL la KILL
It’s like KILL la KILL was designed for me. Everything about KILL la KILL, I love. From its flamboyant and entertaining battles to its over-the-top and deliberately excessive fanservice to its wonderful characters who achieve excellence in their specified roles to its simple story of revenge to its distinctive and uncommon art style, everything about KILL la KILL is perfect. You really have to experience the anime in order to understand why it’s so perfect, why it’s so ideal and why I love every second of it. The series has everything I look for in an anime and it does everyone at excellent or above. It’s a phenomenal experience that is still only half-way over. I can’t wait to see how this anime concludes when it finished in 2014 but this is one of the few anime that can reach the upper limits of excellence and quality in anime.