Thursday, January 30, 2014

The 2013 Retrospective: The Absolute Best and the Worst of the Rest

Sasuga title there.

Great job, me.

Remember when I assured you I'd publish the 2012 post soonlike, an entire year ago? Yeah, let's just say I don't and we'll skip everything related to that and move on to my choices for 2013.

So yeah, while 2013 wasn't exactly 2006 or 2007, I'd at least declare it as a (major perhaps?) step upwards from 2012 and hey, if anything, this year doesn't look all too bad either. Who would have thought at any point of time we'd ever get a third season of Ippo or a sequel to Mushishi? Plus Akame ga Kill!. And Yuasa. Desperately trying to balance out the badness of SAO and Hidan no Aria returning, aren't we?

Anyway. What a year. It had tumblr believing that being noisy and obnoxious about the things you want makes KyoAni produce animeCrunchyroll and several news sites believing the samewe also had various further examples that video games getting adaptations do not work and yet still somehow top your average light novel adaptation, something anime is plagued with by at least 500% these daysuhm, reruns on noitaminAmore Infinite StratosSakuga Fall did not really work outI'm also not sure if there was anything major in regards to the aniblogosphere and if there was, it was probably stupid and I did not like it. I don't want to find out anyway, so let's just leave it at that.

Uhthe good things, the good things! Ah, yeah. It was also a year without Sword Art Onl- of fuck, I forgot about that Extra thing. Scratch that. At least we got a third season of Ippo. So yeah, there is that boxing anime you're not watching, that's my summary of positive things from 2013. Okay, to be fair, there was more than that, to be found in my purely something objective something Top 12 list. Why Top 12? See, I kind of wanted to go for a Top 15 at first but then I realized that I didn't want to mention any of the other 3 anime that would have followed. Rather omit those than get a not-so-arbitrary number. No need for false praise here! Long story short, the only requirement an anime had to pass to technically qualify for being considered is to have finished airing during 2013, meaning that makes shows that started in 2012 or earlier okay whereas you'd have to count SamuMenco as a 2014 anime. So no, no Hunter x Hunter this year either. The same guide lines apply to the Flop 5, which I added because you simply can't have enough content. Take into account that yes, there probably are worse anime to come up with but due to obvious reasons, I did not finish those. FLOP 5


This was booooooooooooorriiiiiiiiiing. And bad. And unsurprisingly, both of those things were related. See, in an animated medium, the worst thing to ever do is to completely forsake the showing side of things and go for telling about them instead. It doesn't even help that what was being told wasn't any interesting either. Pointing at maps and explaining how that one agrarian thing did that one thing to that other agrarian thing, ultimately resulting to something something is just all kinds of NOPE.


Between ham-handed (albeit not always downright terrible) drama, piss-poor philosophy sessions being overly redundant, characters more emotional than anything (and certainly not competent) as well as the entire mess of a plot that kept throwing crap at me while still pretending to be the most serious, meaningful thing on earth, there's not a whole lot of stuff speaking in favor of this rather than against it. Certainly not the production values either.


This is what happens when we get otaku-centric shows on noitaminA. Please, no more of that. Good grief, this show was so stupid and badly, baaaaaaadly written. Absurdities and plot contrivances to the extreme, about 0% of realism when little girls smashed onto solid ground after a fall from the seventh floor or whenever explosions occurred, a plot that refused to go on only to end up at very, very strange places and that fucking trial at the end, I kid you not. Almost made me forgot about the entirely pointless time travel nonsense out of nowhere. Almost.


Another noitaminA classic! Well, is it about every inch as idiotic about its scientific components as Steins;Gate? You bet it is. But that's just adding insult to injury. This thing here pretended to be a thriller. Pretended, that is. Pretended to make sense, pretended to have content. Turns out there was nothing of that and it took 17 episodes for this to go anywhere and yes, that implies the worst things ever for the pacing, only for it to end up nowhere at all, pulling off a GUILTY CROWN in the end and even forgetting about several plot elements and plot lines. Awesome job there with the writing, folks.


This one is the other show with awful, awful pacing. Stretching an arc everyone already knows about from 4 episodes to six-fucking-teen without adding anything of value or importance, offering any new perspectives or changing things while also letting the focus remain on either uninteresting or even completely irrelevant characters pulling off the most tedious, mind-numbingly shallow slice of life dreck ended up about every notch as atrocious as you'd expect. And for better or worse, I'm still ignoring its last third here. TOP 12


Here we have a fantasy light novel adaptation that doesn't involve awkward romance, bullshit comedy, schools or limiting its setting but instead goes for the opposite, not only avoiding pitfalls but also executing the things it did with a certain level of competence. It's not exactly well-written and the characters suffer either from being flat (those other two girls) or simply overpowered to no ends (hai Izayoi) but it remained capable at most of what it kept doing, so that's a pass.


Easily the best anime P.A. Works has ever produced. Not setting the bar all too high here, I know, but charming backgrounds, occasional bits of good animation and great layouts made for a visual treat with an unique albeit very flat setting and its many characters and their various, decently written interactions. Doesn't really get anywhere special during its run, which is a shame, but as far as slice of life is concerned, this with no doubt is one of the genre's best offers of the year.


Suffers too much from absolutely contra-productive exposition and doesn't really go anywhere and while I'm at it, let me also remark that the unrealistic stunts they pulled off had about as much credibility as not but it certainly didn't fail to bring back what has made Higurashi an outstanding piece in the first place. Cleavering still confirmed for the best kind of -ing or something.


Despite most characters being rather flat, they at least managed to come to life as various people with plenty of decent character interactions. Characters are nowhere near stupid or gimmickry which is kind of exceptional with this kind of material, it's competently produced despite the scheduling problems, the OST is a fairly fine thing and while it overall didn't pull off anything particularly outstanding, both the character chemistry and exciting tank battles aptly did their job and left an overall positive impression.


Not-all-that-subtle-yet-still-not-totally-obvious social commentary offering a few interesting (albeit at times not all that thought-out) takes on the World Wide Web and being a hero combined with a generally quirky but hardly ever annoying plot doing some highly interesting things with its genre and here we don't exactly have Nakamura's best series, but with no doubt a convincing one. Can't wait for the upcoming second season, may that one suffer less from horrid production issues.


Many memorable characters, plenty of decent plot twists and the general level of craziness supported by coolness and various, unforgettable poses as well as all the tragic character deaths one could hope for. This thing is manly in a way that doesn't simply start and end with yelling but takes things to a whole new level. Stylish to the top, the direction also did a solid job when coping with the obvious lack of a budget. This made it totally obvious that it's not hard to see why the Jojo franchise is regarded as a major thing.


Probably the most valid and also pretty much the only replacement of what noitaminA used to be back in the days. One can tell why the originals have won awards for decent writing and while this rarely ever did any justice to its medium (Jinsei Best Ten notwithstanding), it's hard to find short stories accomplishing this level of quality. At the end of a short, you're always left with both a resolved dilemma and a fleshed out character and, needless to say, there are barely any anime that manage to go as far.


While wwaaaaaaaaay too slow-paced during the unspectacular Trost arc and riddled with production issues like hardly any other anime in recent memory, the writing was good enough to compensate for that and it's just so very captivating. Gets you interested, engaged, offers characters with hardly much depth but their own train of thoughts, ultimately actually coming across as individuals, has fantastic action sequences and a bomb of an OST. This is both popular and acclaimed for some good reasons.


In Yuasa we can trust. Anyway, where to start? Manages to tell an amusing, slick story within the bounds of mere twelve minutes and to satisfyingly bring it to a close. Excellently animated from start to finish with extravagant art, plus, of course, Yuasa's incredibly clever direction making this an inspiring, creative visual tour de force through a land of strikingly brilliant, intelligent metaphors. It's all the Yuasa goodness we got during 2013, so you better treasure it.


Not always the most exciting thing, but certainly an entertaining one, Silver Spoon managed to be heart-warming, informative, amusing and generally rather well-written. It says a thing or two that a series that has barely fleshed out its dozens of side characters can still pull off so many good interactions between them. This is slice of life done right, easily the noitaminA offering of the year and the first good once sinceeh, let's better not talk about that.


This is the second-best OVA I've ever watched, coming close to Pale Cocoon. It's literally THAT good. There's also little to say about this without diving deep into spoiler territory but a well-animated all-or-nothing billiard gam(bl)e that has good writing to offer and is cleverly structured throughout its entire run with some really neat revelations and important things to say at the end? This achieves so much more within less than half an hour than most anime ever will. You should, by all means, watch this.


The characters may have been admittedly flat and the beginning was plagued by exposition, yet nonetheless, this is a prime example of an anime with everything coming together: Fantastic background music combined with experimental, striking visuals fully supported a story that wasn't only exciting to follow but also for the most parts well-written and goes for some incredible blows during the third arc. It's one of the things that hardly ever get produced these days anymore despite being so very good and as such, it's a 2013 must-watch and takes the crown.

So much for that. Now feel free to bitch, tell me about what great things I've missed out on and go wild. And no, I still don't care about your Madokamonogatarigelions and I never will.
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