I’m not compiling a top-ten list of this year’s anime because I didn’t watch ten series all the way through. These are the shows that I started and didn’t quit watching in disgust or boredom.
I Couldn’t Be a Hero, So …: It sagged badly in the middle, and there was more fanservice than I care for throughout. However, Yu-Shibu pulled itself together for a satisfying grand finale. Also, any show that espouses the free market deserves credit.
Arpeggio of Blue Steel: The premise is more than ordinarily implausible, and too much is left unexplained at the end. It doesn’t help that the “mental models” of the battleships too often act like silly anime girls, or that the humans are little more than ciphers (in adapting the manga, the writers apparently streamlined the story by jettisoning all their backstories). Nevertheless, when it was good, it was very good, both for the battles and for the developing humanity of the not-quite-girls.
Kill la Kill: The first half of this Go Nagai-meets-Tex Avery extravaganza was certainly the most entertaining show of 2013. And also the most tasteless. I’m curious to see where it goes in its second half.
Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Aren’t They?: It’s refreshing to spend time occasionally with characters who are intelligent, capable and non-neurotic. The only real problem I had with the show was that it ended far too soon, leaving all questions about its world unanswered.
Gatchaman Crowds: An old-fashioned superhero series transmuted into a colorful Kenji Nakamura project. The alarmingly perky central character is wearying, and lots of loose ends are left dangling at the end (a second season has been announced), but the show offers much to think about with regard to social media, heroism, government and scissors.
Kyousougiga: Technically, it’s not over — there’s episode 10.5 yet to go — but the story came to a satisfying conclusion in the tenth proper episode. (There’s also episode 00, a “preview” that makes little sense on its own, and episode 5.5, a live-action tour of some of the places referenced in the anime.) Sometimes slapstick, sometimes reflective, sometimes nearly tragic, and with an excellent soudtrack, this seriously playful fantasy is a series unlike any other.
Shin Sekai Yori: The first half of this bucolic dystopia was the the best, and most chilling, series broadcast in 2012. The second half, in which the deeper consequences of altering human nature become fully evident, was even more powerful. It’s easily the outstanding anime and probably the best show of any kind, anywhere of 2013.
Yeah, I probably should have finished Gargantia and watched Attack on Titan and another half-dozen shows, but I’m just not that interested right now.
Update: I forgot Red Data Girl. If I hadn’t read Jonathan’s comments first, I would never have made it through the first episode, in which we see the principal characters at their worst. It does get better, but it feels like the first chapter of a much longer story. Until more of the novels are animated, I can’t recommend it. File it under “tolerable.”