Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hysterical Penguin's Top 10 Anime of 2013

It seems that an eternity has gone by since I've decided to step out of procrastination's lair. Every season I get the urge to spend an hour or two to review some series that in a way fancied me, although by bad luck I'm still subconsciously drawn by a repulsive momentum from writing. However, the year's culmination vehemently desires an appropriate wrap-up to vent the grumbles of my constantly contradicting frustrations and enjoyment over the course of 4 entire seasons, which are seemingly scarce of stellar caterings.

2013 is indeed a year exhibiting the diversity of an anime as a medium, though that by no means implies a success or drastic juncture in general. In regard to popularity, anime tremendously boomed with Shingeki no Kyojin as it "breached" the cultural barriers, monstrously augmented the medium's name and expanded its territory in a scale far grander than the previous year's famed, abysmal trainwreck that was Sword Art Online. It is with a very narrow serendipity that the year was blessed with potent carryovers from Fall 2012, as it barely dished out the attributes of the medium's capability of becoming masterful, with some exceptions, of course. In any case, it is still a decent sail for anime in the seas of treacherous failed attempts.

This annual list consists of shows that have aired in 2013 and concluded also in the same year. Thus, I'm disregarding the Fall shows which will still be bathed as they unfold beneath Winter 2014's frigid season (e.g. Nagi no Asukara, Kill la Kill, Golden Time, Daiya no Ace, Log Horizon, Samurai Flamenco, Yowamushi Pedal). As mentioned earlier, the Fall carryovers from the previous year are eligible for the countdown (as well as some exceptions).


The mere notion of receiving a tray of burger and fries from Overlord Satan himself is indeed almost implausible for one to ever think of, but to marvel at it being rendered in the only medium capable of doing so is highly enticing. Hataraku Maou-sama is undoubtedly one of the better shows the Spring season has to offer. While its preposterous premise already flaunts a metier for adequate dosages of hilarity, the series exceeds its potentials and delivers quite a remarkable start. In addition, it is idyllic being an audience to the inevitable adaption of Maou and Ashiya to the "real world" inhabited by humanity. The utter shift from their devilishly majestic domain in Entei Islato the shoddy 6-tatami apartment, the need for a job at MgRonalds to sustain and replenish the growl of their stomachs and the crisis of salvaging magic in a world where there is absolutely none are entirely presented with extreme momentum of genuine guffaw stimulants.

Despite its strengths in sheer comedy, Hataraku Maou-sama drastically emaciates in delivering its overarching plot. In the entirety of its 13-episode run, it becomes flimsy as it bombards new characters whilst advancing a few notches story-wise. It's also unfortunate that some characters aren't booked to undergo the stitches and polishes of appropriate developments and are subsequently rendered as tropes. With everything considered though, the show certainly is meritorious for what it has established thus far. Moreover, the promise of a necessary second season would only invigorate its success.


I have certainly not reckoned a series whose franchise is utterly lodged in my oblivion would climb up in this list. Apparently, being somewhat ignorant about Rozen Maiden (be it manga or anime) made this a ride of indefinable melancholy. The pilot episode, which is obviously distraught from the spontaneous "wtf is going on" sequences in the attempt to cover the prior events, seemed not to have the charm that would instantaneously compel me with what the show would throw later on. However, the stellar second episode redeemed every tad of dubiety I had and should be considered as the proper welcome to the series.

Although regarded as a tonal swerve from its predecessors, Zuruckspulen manages to constitute its own direction pretty swiftly while simultaneously dispensing the need to watch anything prior this. The slice of life ambiance at the beginning with the drab life of Unwound Jun is ironically what interwove me to the crux of the plot, rather than the Alice Game that fundamentally grounds everything. As the show slowly treads to develop the conflict, Jun's character becomes juxtaposed with the ordeals of the Wound world and subsequently blossoms from the radiance-deprived Unwound world as he subdues his own shortcomings. Whilst the Rozen Maidens themselves are actually what sell this in the market, the artistic department is revitalized by the craftiness of improving the dejected Jun. His struggle against his loathing persona, putrid world and dreary solitude, his inexplicable inclination to Shinku and his subtly honest relationship with Saitou

made his gradual character development an enticing watch.


Once metamorphosed to the monstrosity of the plebeians' overestimation, a series could become really irritating. The truth stands firm that Shingeki no Kyojin is the most "titanic" show of the Spring season in terms of popularity, let alone the year's. Moreover, it perpetuates the vogue of anime's unrelenting annual expansion around the globe. Admittedly, even now I find it nettlesome when people ignorantly claim that this show is good by remarking the wrong points. In most instances a person, who's somehow devoid of intelligence, would likely associate the ascending skew of grotesqueness to writing ingeniousness and glorify the bland characters excessively. Nevertheless, I do see why the merits of this show vehemently arouse the audiences for the right reasons.

Associating Shingeki no Kyojin to the spontaneity of a feral beast's ravage would definitely suffice everything that is processed over its 2 cours. Each episode is stuffed with an overpowering dramatic momentum that sure enough rivets the audience and is always affixed with immensely gut-wrenching cliffhangers by the end. Albeit simplistic at its facade, the plumping of the premise is decently exhibited with fragments of foreshadowing, which at times could be easily deduced, but keep the overarching plot's picture vague and susceptible to assumptions. At its thematic portrayal of its world, the show delivers an exquisite success. The cacophonous cries of humanity driven to the threshold of demise certainly don't dampen the reigning drama for all its repetitive uses, and remain succulent throughout. Additionally, the tautness of despair constantly supplements the occurring themes and someway defines the series itself.

Aside from its clamorous fanbase, the faults of the show are also largely conduced by its intrinsic mishaps. Some arcs as they progress become patently dragged, and as a result ramifies to perceptible flaws in pacing generally. The animation, marvelous when it needs to, shares a tiny blemish in some episodes with the constant use of several stills. But for its faults, Shingeki no Kyojin remains as an indisputable, ambitious work that triumphs in what it desires to be and momentously strides against the treacherous waters of uninspired and generic shows.


Superficially perceiving the sport of Karuta would certainly not bolster the spectators' contentment. Prior to the terrific first season, I'm utterly oblivious of Japan's intellectually appealing take on an intricate 100-poem card game stimulating the capacity of the players' memory and latency, which is Karuta. The mechanics of the game may seemingly be simple as it only requires honed reflexes and familiarity of poems, but in actuality is extremely arduous, particularly when the skill department is tenuous.

As dainty as its prequel, this season introduces an ensemble of fresh eccentric characters and develops them finely. Furthermore, this continues to establish successive intense matches, while keeping the predictable consequences at minimum. The romance, although slightly hazed by the sport, is still delivered with strong implications and exquisitely refines the dynamics of the characters. Chihayafuru, all in all,is wondrously exciting to watch, and this remarkable sequel only invigorates my reverence for its peculiar charm as an anime sorted in the sports category.


To have the glimpse of a dystopian system through the lush and inventive psyches of certain individuals is truly nothing short of elation. George Orwell's ostensibly clairvoyant 1984 and Aldous Huxley's highly profound Brave New World are two books which have copiously established my conception on the probable ramifications of technology's rapid advancement to our society. While Urobuchi Gen's vision of what is considered to be an impeccable system is confessedly replicated from Philip K. Dick's Minority Report, Psycho-Pass institutes a different approach despite the semblance of the thematic objectives.

As much as I exalt the dispute between man's discretion and the system's predominant control in the series, Urobuchi's habitual drop of dispensable expositions and citations from the aforementioned classics spell out its inclination to pretentiousness. Additionally, it turns more or less egregious throughout the course, that somehow spites the viewers' intellects. Another macroscopic blemish in Psycho-Pass is its underdeveloped characters. The deficit expounding of what they actually are as a persona and their motivations makes it difficult to subject ourselves to sympathize with them. Thus, it only impulses faint emotions whenever one gets Urobuchi's grotesque treatment. Even with the entirety of its patent faults, I still fancy the intricate creation of its world's prevailing dread. It's mostly in dystopian settings where I gratifyingly see mankind's feebleness beneath an exceedingly manipulative system and the will of a few to catalyze change in the atrocious stagnancy.The unnerving question of what is desirable for the society and what must be yielded by man to never lose his free will ultimately fastens Psycho-Pass' crux.


If its peculiarity is coated upon the eyes of the unappreciative, this would instantaneously attract abhorrence. It definitely goes without a word that the production behind Aku no Hana is refutable, particularly when it is at the helm of Hiroshi Nagahama, the wholly adept genius responsible for the masterful maneuvering behind the distinctly glorious Detroit Metal City and Mushishi. And as an adaptation from a fairly popular seinen manga, this deviates itself from the majority visually and is considered as a blasphemous bastardization. The shoddy utilization of rotoscoping could easily provoke daunt from casual viewers, let alone those who intentionally come to languish vividness from such medium. But if anything, this is a work which gambled treacherously to create divergence from the stagnancy of the trends.

The founding of this project's oddity specifically adheres to the objective of obliterating the existing routes of escapism that is usually sought for in the medium. It's dismal at its very core and impetuously coerces the viewers to the forlorn edges of reality. Moreover, its characters belies the tropes and reverberates the horrifying bearing of humanity. This is an atrocious reminder of how unpredictably vicious life is. And in essence, Aku no Hana gleams as drab as life when it's radiated by man's sobriety.


Confusingly frenetic it may be right at the commencement, this surprisingly has the majesty to enthrall the viewers in its possession. Kyousogiga constantly leaves everyone in dubiety midst its subtlety and seemingly endless symbolism. However, its rarefied beauty vigorously grows along with the perplexity it flaunts, and at the crest of all the subtleties lies the extraordinary mojo of the show- its sentimental engine. In these times, it's exceedingly rare to witness a noteworthy ensemble of characters behaving genuinely whilst intertwined by poignant familial love. The dynamics of Myoue and Koto is beautifully profound, and every episode in which it's exhibited ultimately becomes a scrumptious, emotional feast. Generally, the show is comprised with intricately written spectacular scenes for its characters, which in full effect constitutes to its overall grandeur.

Amazingly, Kyousogiga's mojo is inherent throughout its production. This is a work fancifully derived from Alice in Wonderland intertwined with accurate depictions of the Choujuu-giga and the historical Kyoto. It's written intricately and the symbolism is steadily apparent. Toei Animation's visuals are also done gorgeously and are adequate to substitute the dialogues without dampening the sentimentality of events. And lastly, Go Shiina's musical scores incisively reflects the every tad of emotions each scene exudes and is certainly one of the soundtracks that transcend the bounds set on my auditory senses. Considering the immensity of passion poured in this work, Kyousogiga is indeed a series worthy of a chamber in everyone's hearts.


I have thoroughly been bathed in Togashi's ingeniousness week after week. Within the 23-minute lapse from the fruitless occurrences I partake in during Sundays (now slotted in Wednesdays), I am constantly engrossed to the banquet of brilliance catered on every pixel of the screen. The Chimera Ant arc accentuates the Hunter x Hunter's persistent venture to the hazardous territories of grotesqueness. And as it continues to endeavor through the heretical routes of its genre, the talents behind the production of this series evenly aggravates. This arc, in addition, encompasses the highly significant flakes of its forerunners and remarkably manages to surmount them in footing of brilliance. And what burgeons my penchant among all of its accomplishments is the momentous flourishing of Gon and Killua's character. This has been their most grueling predicament in the entirety of the series, and every time they're on the threshold of despair, it's almost inevitable to see how much they've developed.

The prevalence of tinges is almost a perpetual clothing to the consequences orchestrated within Togashi's brain, and the Chimera Ant arc is without a doubt no stranger to that. It subtly flexes the underlying subversion of humanity as men's genes are crossed with that of beasts through the Mother Ant. Subsequently, the Ants born from such monstrous process simulate the barbaric ways of humanity to ascend to superiority. The arc also impedes on several other allusions to cover particular implicated themes such as the North Korean government, the repugnant notion of prostitution (for its genre, the audacity to convey this is almost implausible) and identity crisis. In spite of my keen lauding for Hunter x Hunter's incessant glory for the entire year, it's still treading to its current arc's climax until next season, which hinders me from placing this in the 1st. Fortunately though, its eligibility to be again in my list next year fills me with merriment.


I consider a series victorious when it lavishly revitalizes the threads of inclination that subjected me to the medium in the first place. Uchouten Kazoku is an exceptional piece of work that has instantaneously propelled me into its world and ceaselessly satiated me with warmth ever since. With its content acquired from a novel written by Morimi Takehiko, whose Tatami Galaxy mystified me into repetitive occurrences of well-sequenced mischief, this has absolutely adhered to its "eccentricity." And having experienced both remarkable series from him, it's best to be always under the impression of him being a virtuoso at seizing the beauty of Kyoto in his works. Although unlike Tatami Galaxy's frenzied perplexity, this show clings to the maudlin depiction of familial love. Regardless of their differences, they still share semblance in the narrative depth and wittily schemed dialogue.

There have been some gripes regarding the series' idle tread in establishing its main objective before the second half. The absence of major conflict lodges the capacity of bringing its narrative into complete stagnancy and catalyzes the notion of its scheme heading nowhere. Fortunately though, every episode knits a mesmerizing ambiance that entrances you into their lives as if you're indeed taking a stroll in the streets of modern Kyoto. Moreover, its themes embracing the ethical dilemma concerning the human's annual tanuki hotpot, the son's self-loathing of not overcoming guilt and the family's bereavement after one's passing are all confronted with delicacy that ultimately constitute to the entirety of its beauty.

Uchouten Kazoku entwines with my inexplicable disposition to anime. It plunges me into a realistic yet utterly odd environment and disjoints me entirely from reality's gloom. The familial ardor it bears among its characters is undoubtedly genuine and in some ways meliorates me as an individual. It's passionate at its kernel and manifests through its "eccentricity" what I revere the most in the medium.


To be conferred with a series that harmoniously obliges the functions of your intellect and emotions is rather uncommon these days. And if seasons did have such treasure, it would likely endure the misfortune of being obscured by ignorance and contentment for mediocrity. Similar to Uchouten Kazoku, this has the glamour of strangeness as it is also transitioned from an actual novel. Yusuke Kishi's intricate conceptualization of the future societies in his novel is highly vivid and enthralls you as though that world has indeed attained utopia as it regressed to the likeness of Japan's old tradition. It establishes a futuristic environment devoid of highly advanced technology and an era in which PK-users have gained predominance.

Although seemingly perfect at its facade, the system is draped in flaws. The scale of its defects are unveiled along with the characters' growth across the three time-skips. Shinsekai Yori, beneath all of its ghastly motifs regarding the society, also engrosses its themes on the gradual exfoliation of a child's innocence. The drastic changes of the characters are the manifestation of their society's efforts to conceal their unrelenting history. Moreover, the system's stabilized control fixates their casual demeanor to the relatively unusual activities they indulge to in their youth, such as homosexual intercourse to subdue their distress. Unfortunately, the application of such crucial feature has instantly rebuffed a huge chunk of the audiences with shallow perceptions. As a result, their imbecilic, ignorant repugnance for the series hindered them from seeing the magnificence of the narrative's depth and execution.

Shinsekai Yori is absolutely robust considering the general panorama it surfaces. The macabre vestige of humanity's greed and the putrid desire for superiority have all ramified to the events fortifying the series to its conclusion. It impedes on both the faults of the oppressed and the remnants of those responsible for the dread that spawned for years. The dilemma it raises for the characters also unceasingly reverberates as doubts in our human nature. And altogether, the series' conclusion seamlessly corresponds to its compelling themes.

Every week became a riveting venture in this show's narrative. Its constant horror and dread about the unveiling of its cryptic society continue to allure me into its unorthodox charm. There hasn't been a series in years that had immersed me utterly in the seas of motley emotions. If anything, Shinsekai Yori is truly a testament to the existence of magnificence even in times which are plagued with uninspired bullshits.

2013 may not have attained much resplendence from the majority of its series, but a few of those, which radiantly excelled, are almost masterfully crafted. Unfortunately due to time constraints, I wasn't able to see the entirety of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (currently at ep 12) and Space Battleship Yamato 2199, but I do intend to alter this list if both series do fancy me in ways better than the others. In any case, 2014 looks quite decent thus far, and I can only hope that we'd see the number of gems ascend this time around.
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