A Look Back on 2013: Anime

As the new year begins, I thought now was as good a time as any to look back on what last year brought us in terms of anime, video games, comics and other forms of entertainment.

As someone who's been following (on this blog, even) each season of anime for roughly six years, I was honestly surprised at just how good Fall 2012 was.  There seemed to be something for nearly every kind of anime fan: comedies, action series, parodies, manga adaptations of both classics and newcomers--both the variety and quality were unparalleled.   Being me though, I always like to check out the next season to see what I have to look forward to.  I admitted to myself that Winter looked weak, but I had faith that the season would eventually fill out with some interesting latecomers; they always do, after all.

Unfortunately, it didn't..  The Winter season was one in which nearly 40 different anime television series aired...and I could only think of five or six I actually wanted to sit through on first glance, and by the end of it, I could only stick with one (there were others, but they were all sequels of series I hadn't seen yet):

This was a good show, but being the only interesting series of Winter was depressing.

But you know, often times the Winter season tends to be weak, so I let that go.  The only thing that truly stung was the fall of Fairy Tail, but I had hope that the Spring season would bring life back into this art-form that I love so much.  And then the Spring season looked like this.  Now I know, everyone was hyped for Shingeki no Kyojin, but don't let that blind you from the sea of lolis, "slice of life" moe-blobs, chibified bullshit and marshmallow hell harems that had already been the driving force of anime for an entire season.  So now we were looking at three more months of hardcore otaku nonsense that's basically the reason why when you recommend an anime series to someone, you usually can't actually call it anime. 

When this represents the vast majority of a season, there's a problem.

I tried to give the sudden deluge of mecha anime a try, but Suisei no Galgantia I gave up on early because I predicted it would either turn ultra-violent or be incredibly boring, and Valvrave was all the idiocy you'd expect from Sunrise, turned up to 11.  Flashy, trashy, devoid of most substance, and stuffed to the brim with all sorts of bullshit done purely for shock value (from the gruesome death in episode 1 to the rape in episode 10 or so), that that series was popular at all speaks volumes about the utter lack of taste that's developed in anime fans over the past decade.  That it was extremely popular gives me the answer of "Why do they keep making this garbage?!": because it sells.

Meanwhile, one of the best mecha series of the year was written off by the vast majority of the anime watching public within the first two episodes.  Majestic Prince was filled with awesome mecha fights, likable characters, a ton of heart and loving references to other series, but its slow start left most fans cold, sadly enough. 

So with two strikes already on the scoreboard, I looked forward to July's offerings because I am ever hopeful.  Aaand strike 3.   This was what it was like to be plunged into the utter depths of hopelessness as an anime fan.  The year had been lost to a seemingly never-ending onslaught of series about prepubescent magical girls, slice of life bullshit, and sequels to series gone by.  I clung desperately to the tiny life raft of Hunter x Hunter (which was entering the Chimera Ant arc around then) and Majestic Prince, but for awhile there things got truly depressing.

From March to October, this was the only new series I watched.  >_<

But then, a ray of hope finally arrived in October, with the Fall Season.  Like a beleaguered soldier who had survived a night of cruel onslaughts from enemy forces hunkered down in a tattered bunker with only the most meager of rations to sustain me, October was like the dawn of a new, hope-filled day.   Once again variety in animation had returned to Nippon's airwaves.  Despite three seasons of fanboy pandering idiocy, the Fall seemed determined to apologize to me and any anime fan who wasn't satisfied by the unending parade of inane ecchi and sleep-inducing slice of life shows.

...Is this what hope feels like?  I had forgotten.

With series like Log Horizon, Gundam Build Fighters, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, Galilei Donna, Unbreakable Machine Doll and more, I was finally guided towards the light.   I'll admit that not all the series were winners, and that's something I'll get into later when I start my new column next week, but after nine solid months and only two new shows worth watching, I'll take what I can get.

And fortunately, the future looks even brighter.  But!  That's something we'll get into tomorrow. 

(Source: Neregate, the most awesome and consistent chart-makers.)


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