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Summer 2013 anime retrospective October 6, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Anime.
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With the autumn season now underway, and in the spirit of every other anime blog, a few thoughts on what I’ve been watching anime-wise these past few months:

Shingeki no Kyojin

Ok, so this was the second cour of 2, but finishing over the summer Attack on Titan maintained its ridiculous consistency and went beyond. Hands down the best anime of the year unless something miraculous pops up. A rich fantasy world of the future full of ingenious storytelling, epic cliffhangers, interesting, morally-dubious characters, and epic debates over morality, humanity, survival, family, friendships, duty and honour. I spent every week with my heart in my mouth – that is if it weren’t agape at the show’s (or rather Hajime Isayama, the original manga-ka’s) ability to keep surprising us every week. Matched by an outstanding soundtrack and a dynamic use of CG for the manoeuvre gear scenes, this is anime at its best. Phenomenally popular, and rightly so, if only we didn’t have to wait for a season two.

Kaminomi zo Shiru Sekai – Megami-hen

Now this was a surprise. Having not got around to reading the manga, I still thought of this series as a light-hearted harem take on otaku gamer culture. I loved the first two shows but hadn’t expected this level of depth in character, intrigue and plot for something that’s essentially about pursuing a different girl every few episodes. Having read around on the subject, I now realise how loved this arc is – and with good cause. Kudos to manga author Tamiki Wakaki for taking what was surely envisaged as a throwaway concept and making it that much deeper. Revisiting seven of Katsuragi’s most famous conquests is a genius idea, and forcing him to deal with the consequences of love – as the one person who really cannot forget any conquests – on top of the life and death deadline situation, really keps me coming back week to week. Great music and balance of humour and drama/romance, this was perfect summer viewing.

Gatchaman Crowds

I think Asobi over at Random Curiosity pretty much nails it: this was an inspired mess. I LOVED it. Right from the get go with its colourful, atypical animation, funky electrobeat soundtrack and the tour de force that is Hajime, you just didn’t know what to expect (and even if you did, it certainly wasn’t Gatchaman as we knew it). Yet as the series went on that mess started to show thoughtful, inventive ideas on the nature of the modern world, politics, democracy, communication, social media, anonymity and community, as well as the nature of ‘heroes’ in a world where everyone is less thoughtful about their actions. Sure, it was all a bit rushed and nonsensical in the 12 short episodes we had, but it did enough to make you think – and keep us entertained. Even if it didn’t quite hang together (particularly the confusing final episode) it had tremendous moments of cool and GAR (exhibit A: the penultimate episode’s Gatcha-team-up). I’ll take one of this kind of show over a dozen generic anime in a season.

Gin no Saji

I can’t believe this was only 11 episodes. A wonderful bit of NoitaminA programming from the author of Full Metal Alchemist. This was a fantastic slice-of-life tale of an agricultural school in Sapporo, finding one’s dream and the reward of good hard work, while all the while teaching you about farming and where your food comes from. Valuable knowledge for the modern man, woman, boy and girl, served with oodles of humour, great characters and heartfelt moments, this was another perfect summertime show. Thankfully the manga is ongoing and a second season planned for next year. Pork bowl!

Overall, this was a way better summer season than usual. More often than not, summer is full of short throw-away entertainment shows that give you a warm feeling but don’t generally change your life.  I think this season (at least from the four I watched) was the season of ideas and inspiration, mixed in with top-notch entertainment.