Another recap post, this one covering the anime I watched in 2013! While I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, proceed with caution if you haven’t seen these!
Revisited many old friends and caught up on some of their new adventures this past year. As mentioned in last year’s recap of 2012’s anime, I kicked off the year by fighting the power with my imouto by showing her Gurren Lagann, one of my favorites! We marathoned it over the course of a few days, and this giant mech show about believing in yourself and growing up still manages to hold up and to push the right emotional buttons. And Nia Teppelin is still my waifu from this show. ❤
Image of Simoun and Nia cosplayers from my FanimeCon 2013 Day 1 post.
Once I got back to LA, the next series was School Days (スクールデイズ), an adaptation of the eroge by the same name. I watched it mainly for that (in)famous last episode about some nice boat. 😉 While much of the eroge-style “action” is implied and the show is actually quite tame except for some fan service at a waterpark, it still feels pretty dirty, lol. The last episode is not for the squeamish, but that’s for entirely different reasons. D: I do have to say that I really felt for Katsura Kotonoha, and by the end I was rooting for her to get stabby, haha.
No pictures from School Days, but have a picture from my Back to School sale!
I needed something a little bit happier for my next series, so I caught up on Nichijou (日常), which I had kind of started before the break. It’s a hilarious and off-the-wall slice-of-life comedy show with each episode presenting vignettes featuring its many protagonists. I found myself needing to pause and rewind quite often in order to catch the many jokes and sight gags that litter this show!
Image of Mio cosplayer from my AX13 Day 3 album on Facebook.
I’d heard about Usagi Drop (aka Bunny Drop / うさぎドロップ) due, I think, to a sale on Rightstuf or somewhere. It’s a short 11-episode series, so I checked it out. It was quite a sweet and lovely show about a man who adopts his recently-deceased grandfather’s illegitimate six-year-old daughter, with great opening and closing theme songs. Wanting to learn more, I looked up what happens in the manga; I’m glad they concluded the show where they did, as the story kind of takes a turn into the squicky as it continues.
Random picture of a couple of bunny girls from my Haruhi Suzumiya sale!
There was a sale on the figure of Subaru from Wish Upon the Pleiades (aka Hōkago no Pleiades / 放課後のプレアデス), so I watched this one-shot offering from Gainax about a girl who becomes a magical girl to see if the figure was worth buying. The OVA left such an impression on me that I’d forgotten I’d watched it when I updated my most-recently-watched-anime list on Facebook. -_-; I did like the Homura clone, but seriously, Gainax, what gives? Even as a car commercial it fails since there were no cars! (The short was a co-production with car-maker Subaru, the lead character’s namesake as well as the inspiration for the title, since Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster.)
Nothing from this OVA, so here’s a photo of an itasha from my Royal/T post!
Had been interested in watching Working!! (aka Wagnaria!!) ever since I saw the box sets from NIS America. It’s a pretty funny slice-of-life show that takes place in a restaurant. The manager, Shirafuji Kyōko, reminded me very much of Itō Nobue, the older sister from Strawberry Marshmallow, another favorite slice-of-life series of mine. Working!! wound up being pretty funny, though the whole androphobia schtick with Inami Mahiru started to get old after a while. Yamada Aoi, an anime-only character, wound up being my favorite from this show and I’m sorry I missed out on the sale that HobbySearch had on a t-shirt featuring her.
No pictures related to Working!!; have a photo of Strawberry Marshmallow loots instead, haha.
I have no idea why I picked up Double J (だぶるじぇい), a truly painful and mercifully short series about The Cultural Activity Preservation Club at a school. The episodes were around 5 minutes each and seemed to have been done entirely in Flash. While I could understand and appreciate the theme behind the series of the slow erosion and loss of traditional cultural activities, this is still probably the worst series I’ve ever had the displeasure of finishing.
Here are some traditional performers from Nisei Festival 2013!
Had heard good things about Angel Beats! (エンジェルビーツ!) and was not disappointed. Despite a rocky start where the lead characters seemed to be clones of characters from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the show quickly starting throwing plot twist after plot twist, changing gears every few episodes. There was a lot of action, humor, and feels packed into this 13-episode series about dead teenagers, and I really wish it’d lasted longer. Despite its flaws, some of which were quite glaring, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it may very well be one of my favorites of the year.
Image of loot from my FanimeCon 2013 Day 4 post.
Everyone seemed to be going on about Little Witch Academia (リトルウィッチアカデミア), about a school for witches, produced by new upstart company Studio Trigger. I was happy to learn that Hidaka Noriko (aka Nagai Noriko), the voice of my waifu Noriko Takaya from Gunbuster, voiced Shiny Chariot. While the episode was enjoyable (and a lot more entertaining than any of the Harry Potter films I’ve seen), I still don’t quite get the hype — it’s really a rather basic and predictable story. Also, the protagonist, Akko Kagari, was a bit too earnest for my liking, so my favorite character wound up being the Draco Malfoy-ish Diana Cavendish. Also, it always strikes me as a bit of a crass money-grab when a full-fledged studio runs a Kickstarter campaign for their productions; Trigger didn’t seem to have any problems making Kill La Kill, after all. 😛
Image of autographed poster from my AX13 Day 4 album on Facebook.
Following that was A-Channel and A-Channel + smile (Aチャンネル), another high school slice-of-life series. It was funny and entertaining, but didn’t really leave much of a lasting impression, unfortunately.
Here is a random school room, taken during AX13 Day 3, lol.
During the summer I tackled The Idolmaster (aka THE iDOLM@STER / アイドルマスター) universe. A friend of mine had been flogging the series for a long time so I started with Idolmaster: Xenoglossia. I expected American Idol × K-ON! and wound up getting Armageddon × Evangelion, lol. It’s a good thing that I prefer to watch things in canon order and if there are alternate versions I just start with the one that came first, since the Idolmaster fans kind of hate the alternate universe of Xenoglossia, haha.
Not knowing anything about the canon series, as a standalone and essentially original work Xenoglossia wasn’t so bad. It’s definitely influenced by Evangelion but I found it to be more charming and more coherent, with less annoying leads. There’s even a Misato clone, which I’m pretty okay with, since she’s pretty much waifu #1 from that series. Sunrise did pull some punches in typical fashion; for some reason I found myself thinking of Mai-HiME a lot at the end, even though they are two completely different shows.
Image of sanitynevermore as Shizuru from my Mai-HiME Photoshoot post.
After Xenoglossia were the series from the canon universe: The Idolmaster Live For You!, The Idolmaster, and The Idolmaster Shiny Festa. Definitely an entirely different setting with a host of different characters. It took a while, but I’m amazed that I was able to keep the dozen girls being groomed to be idols and their handful of supporting characters straight in the end! While I’m not sure how much of the music made it over from the original game series the shows are based on, some of it was quite good.
Here’s a photo of real-life idol LiSA during her concert during AX12 Day 3.
As you can imagine, it took a while to watch all of The Idolmaster oeuvre. Meanwhile, my friends were trying their hardest to spoil Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人), arguably the most popular show of the year, for me. >< In my attempt to stave off spoilers, this became the first show I ever watched on Crunchyroll as it aired. I generally prefer to marathon my shows, but it became my replacement for 24 (which has finally returned to US airwaves!) for its addictive, must-watch status. This show about humans fighting giant cannibals certainly lived up to the hype and hopefully the wait won’t be too long before season two is ready to air!
Image of Kazumi Cosplay as Sasha from my Sasha Braus Photoshoot post.
Took a break in the fall from pretty much everything as I pushed through pre-production and the first half of shooting for my short film Looking for Miku before I was able to finish off the rest of the offerings (at the time) from The Idolmaster — Puchimas! Petit Idolmaster (ぷちます! -PETIT IDOLM@STER-). This series includes super-deformed as well as miniaturized versions of the main cast, and the level of sweetness here is almost intolerable. xD A second season has been airing since last month, so I’ll need to check it out soon!
Here are some small — b/c I was sitting so far away — K-pop idols from KCON 2013!
All the girls (and some of the guys) I know had been talking about Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, based on the light novel High Speed! (ハイ☆スピード!) so I was kind of forced to check it out, lol. While I could understand the appeal due to much fan service and shipping opportunities that this show about a high school boys’ swim team, I found the main story to be kind of drama…free, the characters to be kind of bland, and the designs to be kind of funky (especially their weird, weird necks).
Image of Free! cosplayers courtesy of j.jr.image from my Pacific Media Expo 2013 post.
Finally got to the theaters again over a year after the last time, and it was again for Akemi Homura! Checked out the newest Madoka Magika film, Gekijouban Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika Part 3: Rebellion and while I had some problems with it immediately after the viewing (it reeked of bad fan fiction), on further reflection I came to appreciate it for what it was — the premise taken to extremes and a natural extension of the universe. Homura finally made it to waifu status during that out-of-left-field third act, and epic gunfight is epic!
Image of the Madoka 3 premiere at the Egyptian Theatre from my post linked above.
I had known that the second season of Oreimo, Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai. (俺の妹がこんなに可愛いわけがない。) (that period is not a typo; it’s part of the title), had aired a while ago, but kept forgetting to check it out. Maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me something. After such a great first season, the second season of this show about a guy and his otaku sister devolved into an absolute mess of a harem “comedy”. It quickly destroyed any good will left over from the first season and then its OVA specials just went over-the-top with its non-sense and squick factor. The only part worth watching was when Manami finally took care of business; cathartic, for sure.
Image of Aoi Mizuno as Kuroneko from my Anime Los Angeles 8 post.
After that, it was time to go home for the holidays, and so I once again got to introduce imouto to some of my favorite anime. We watched Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ), Hosoda Mamoru’s cautionary tale about living life in the digital age and the celebration of family and friends. It was actually the first time I’ve seen it in Japanese, as I’d originally seen a dubbed (and pan and scanned! :O ) version of it when it played in arthouses in Los Angeles.
No photos from Summer Wars, but here’s a photo from my Gainax sale, since Sadamoto Yoshiyuki did the character designs for Evangelion and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (ふしぎの海のナディア) as well as Summer Wars!
In anticipation of the upcoming Stateside release of the film version of Anohana, we marathoned a screening of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (aka Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day / あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。) — another anime with a sentence for a title, orz. This drama about a group of estranged childhood friends still managed to get me in the feels, though I think its close proximity to the film screening may’ve dulled my response to the movie (that, and maybe the fact that they “ran out” of those damn letters).
Image of Menma from my AX13 Day 2 post.
Even discounting repeats, that was a lot of shows! But like everything else, I’m sure some of you may’ve watched even more. How many did you watch last year? Which were your favorites? Feel free to leave your comments and to make your recommendations on what I should watch next below, and check out my Fan Page on Facebook as well as The Vault on Facebook for more of my adventures!