Another difficult year of decisions. 2013 hit us with anime after anime that made me laugh, cry, think, or just straight up get drawn into a legendary story. Still, when looking at my favourites from each season, I noticed some interesting titles ended up pushing their way to the front as the anime from that season I would not want to have missed. That means Hataraku Maou-Sama didn’t make the final list despite this being a straight comedy anime that I adore. Nor did My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU end up in my top shows even though I love the humour in the story and the interactions between the characters. Even the beautiful and emotional (though with a somewhat flawed narrative) Sunday Without God didn’t end up quite making top of its season. Which leaves me wondering, what did we do to deserve so many great shows in one year?
No. 1: No sequels of any kind.
No. 2: Only one anime from each season which gave me 4 picks from each year.
No. 3: Other than 2019 anime, no matter how brilliant an anime was if I hadn’t rewatched it since it aired then it didn’t make the list. If I don’t like it enough to watch it more than once then it doesn’t deserve to be on an anime of the decade list.
Incidentally these anime are not the technical best anime of their seasons but are the ones I would pick if I could only watch one anime from that season. They are anime I loved, for whatever reason, and felt deserved to be remembered.
Maoyu Maou Yuusha
It’s the story of a hero who goes to fight the demon king but then finds out she’s a hot girl who doesn’t even want to fight but wants to save the world and end the war through economic development. This quirky anime is not technically brilliant and the story is incomplete, but there’s enough here to make it worth having watched. Maoyu Maou Yuusha is a different take on the hero story and one that really looks at the impacts of war and how difficult it is to end one.
That said, there’s a few things that really throw people about this anime. The first is none of the characters have a name, they are referred to by their job. Now, in the post Goblin Slayer days that may not be as unusual but it was a bit jarring the first time I watched this. Secondly, there’s a lot of discussion about improvements to farming, trading and economics in this anime. You won’t learn a huge amount as it keeps things pretty basic, but there’s a lot of talk about some relatively dry subject matter. I found it pretty interesting but its definitely not something everyone is going to love. Still, I feel this one is worth remembering and I’m glad I came across it as it is one that isn’t talked about much and if I hadn’t watched it when I did I may never have come across it.
Attack on Titan
Could it have been anything else? Regardless of your personal thoughts toward the franchise, Attack on Titan got a lot of people talking anime even if only briefly. While the shock and horror of the early episodes faded and the second cour kind of dragged, there was still something about the series that held viewers. It’s hard to believe now it was 2013 when this first came out given we’re still not quite at a conclusion and that gap between season one and two didn’t do Attack on Titan any favours and yet there’s so much here worth noting even if you want to nitpick the flaws.
For me there are two things that stand out from this first season of Attack on Titan. The first was the animation. It was stunning. The way the characters moved, the choreography of the fight and training sequences, even just the way crowds of people were animated, all of it looked amazing for 2013 and it still looks pretty good even by 2019 standards. The second was the tone and atmosphere. Attack on Titan particularly in its first cour really built its rich atmosphere of fear, paranoia, hopelessness, and anger. It brewed through all the characters and permeated the world design. For all that I will happily criticise aspects of the story, particularly when we get to season two, I will not forget how season one made me feel watching it and I can happily say that on rewatch it is every bit as brilliant.
The Eccentric Family
When season two of this quirky supernatural slice of life came out I realised for the first time how many people hadn’t watched the first season. I’m not into slice of life or comedy and The Eccentric Family is dripping in both, yet with its colourful cast of characters, fast paced dialogue, and generally witty delivery it most definitely won me over. When you throw in that the story has a lot of heart with the family at its centre being one that is fairly fun to spend time with and there’s almost nothing to fault with it at all.
However, it gives us even more then that. We have some great female characters on board despite the male dominated cast. We have inter-generational commentary as well as a look at modernisation vs traditionalism. There’s also a great tourist aspect to seeing Kyoto from the perspective of the tanuki that dominate the story. Basically The Eccentric Family is a fun little anime and it has a second season if it leaves you wanting more. Well worth checking out if you are someone who missed it when it aired.
Golden Time is something of an outlier for me. It is a straight rom-com/drama with an amnesiac protagonist at its centre. Honestly, it shouldn’t work for me and yet I found it pretty hilarious in the early episodes as we watched Koko breaking up with her boyfriend and the friendship forming between Koko and Banri. The introduction of a love triangle was less welcome but ultimately that opened the way for the story to explore Banri’s memory loss and past and in the end everything does just kind of work in this story.
Partly this is because the supporting cast are fantastic at bringing what is needed to the story and the central three, Koko, Banri and Linda, are all interesting characters to get to know in their own way and are carrying their own pain but also looking for happiness. Like with any good romantic comedy you’ll laugh and sometimes cry but ultimately you’ll get a happy ending, unless you really wanted the love triangle to resolve the other way in which case you might be really annoyed at the whole thing. Whichever way, I loved this anime and it remains one I happily watch again and again.
And that was 2013. A big year for anime with the huge appearance of Attack on Titan and many other great anime. What were your favourites from the year? Share in the comments and be sure to check in tomorrow for 2014.