Log Horizon #25. and How-to Properly Seize A Second Season

Source Material: Mamare Touno (橙乃 ままれ)
Writer(s): Toshizo Nemoto (根元 歳三)
Studio(s): Satelight
Director(s): Shinji Ishihara (石平 信司)
Music: Yasuharu Takanashi (高梨 康治)

It’s easy to underestimate the possibility control and power of money on any given industry, and the major power of the media mix in anime is no exception. Especially in recent years, we’ve seen our fair share of questionable adaptations every season. Shows that are adapted into anime series before even having enough content to satisfy one cour. Shows that are altered completely from their original narrative. Shows that are oh-so well deserving of continuation but are ultimately truncated. And shows with essentially unnecessary continuations. For both the good and the bad sides of this coin, it’s definitely an interesting conundrum about a certain influence on culture. All of this is open to contention, of course, though one fact remains constant and that is the inevitability of further exposure. Whether they be manga, novels, games or even the more up-’til-lately less indulged mediums such as light novels, visual novels and the like, getting an anime adaptation will increase audiences. That is a formula that has long since been set in anime-drawn stone, which really brings us to the true topic of this article, a little niche light novel series I like to call Log Horizon and whose anime adaptation I like to call ‘the best MMORPG sub-genre anime I have had the pleasure of watching.’

Leaving aside a thorough synopsis of the overall series for another time, what we’ll discuss is its state in the last fours weeks of its broadcast. After a thrilling finale at the Battle of Zantlead, the arc focusing on the conflict with The People of the Land comes to a satisfactory close. Back in Akihabara, the army-disbanded adventurers are back to their free-willing, adventuresome selves and are effervescent in their post-victory celebration and indulgence in the first ever Scale Festival. It’s not really a set-up for another gripping battle, at all. This is evident when this in-between arc’s antagonist arises, a nobleman and person of the land named Lord Malves, who besides in countenance proves to be no spectacular authority, no more a threat Shiroe. What worth he does prove himself to be, however, after two episodes of moderate lime-light, is a fantastic red herring. As a generous fate would have it, the issue with Malves is effectively resolved within the first five minutes of the season finale, leaving a whole lot to be covered in terms of embellishing the episode greatly with a sense of yearning for the riveting teased things to come, a sense of nostalgia through heartfelt moments with the eponymous guild of the show and just a general sense of astonishment at wonderful story-writing.

With the good riddance of our short-lived villain, things are immediately taken up a notch. A moment between Minori and Shiroe finally has her simultaneously confronting the Akihabara populace’s general opinion of Shiroe as well as confronting Shiroe himself. At last, Shiroe is posed with a particularly heavy-hitting question that doesn’t revolve around strategic analysis but rather, around him as a person. It is here that Shiroe expresses his own personality quite explicitly, which is such a seldom occurrence for him – and you can’t help but notice that he must have had a long and emotional history with his past guild, something that always seems to linger in the back of his head as he plays that role of the “villain in glasses,” brooding behind the scenes of everything. And if I had to put a finger on it, I would say a huge deal of this demeanor involves Kanami, a character I’m anxiously looking forward to finding out more about. Conversely, in the tween eyes of Minori, we can see how much her image of Shiroe, once so glorified, is losing its luster, though not negatively so. If anything, Minori has quickly grown out of her phase of idolization and is subconsciously equalizing herself to Shiroe, even pitying him to a certain extent in this episode. It’s hard to say whether this shaping of her outlook on Shiroe and people in general will play strongly towards her affection for him or not; but either way, it’s a damn fine level of character depth. Of all the new Log Horizon recruits, Minori is definitely the brightest of the bunch and the level of her character growth is something so satisfying that it could enable her to surpass Akatsuki in terms of a likeable character, even if the mentioned is frankly cooler in combat ability, appearance and class (that’s MMORPG class, not aristocratic class, mind you).

But of course, as she probably heard me say that just now, Akatsuki was looming in the background and witnessing the whole discourse, she possibly being the only one more specialized in covertness than Shiroe, something that speaks for their own compatibility I suppose. (A cinematographic quality worth noting is the framing in three shots, wherein Shiroe is seen looming over the entirety of a twilight Akihabara, then Minori is revealed beyond that scope and a while later, Akatsuki is even more so beyond that. A very nice sequence of composition.) And in my opinion, this was a much needed advancement. Beyond her moe stature and position of over-poweredness at level ninety, Akatsuki really needed a stronger persona and connection with Shiroe to have anyone rooting for her  attempted courtship. This being especially necessary considering her longer history with our megane protagonist. Though by this, I’m not saying that I enjoyed seeing Akatsuki essentially hating herself for being so unobservant of her beloved despite being so aware of her own lifestyle of inconspicuousness. Quite the opposite, I was overjoyed at the under-the-stars guild dinner scene, that when all the cards were on the table and everyone was being so open with each other, the girl was able to brush aside her self-directed frustration and take part in the unity of the members. Truly, if that isn’t what a guild family is for, then I don’t know what is.

Speaking of good and bad sides of coins earlier as well, Shiroe’s romances and the coin Shiroe fiddles around with in his fingers this episode, it’s an interesting dynamic that is introduced between Shiroe and Nureha, guild master of Plant Hwyaden and interim leader of the Minami District. God knows Shiroe has enough romantic interests for the time being (though I suppose more age-appropriate ones are welcome) but additionally so, the relationship, or rather, obsession, that Nureha has with Shiroe almost seems to resemble Shiroe’s position of captivation towards his past and still mostly undisclosed (frustratingly so) guild master, of the Debauchery Tea Party. And I guess when a resemblance to deep-rooted memories doesn’t work, there’s always a buxom figure and irresistible fox-tail. Proving to be calm, cool and collected as always, Shiroe resists the irresistible and rejects Nureha’s guild membership offer. Further excessively, he continues to renounce their relationship and essentially makes a declaration of war with Nureha, a course of action that I thought was a bit sensitive; but I wouldn’t say it makes me skeptical of Shiroe as much as it makes me eagerly anticipate just what the story can ensue towards.

And it’s definitely a extensive route Log Horizon has assembled for itself. The closing moments in this episode re-created the legitimate sense of adventure and friendship that has been a core element of (and that has made me enamored with) this series all throughout. Following a truly MMORPG-tributing and gratifying action sequence involve our current line-up of Log Horizon adventurers and the usual energizing ED sequence, Shiroe informs Ri Gan he is leaving Akihabara and the announcement for the second season wraps the finale up. Something about Shiroe looking more mischievous than usual made me believe it was actually Nureha disguised as him talking to Ri Gan, but if my paranoia isn’t something to worry about, there is a sense of conceptual symmetry here. Admittedly, it is a bit saddening to see Shiroe essentially abandoned most of what he has established in Akihabara these past twenty-five episodes (especially so damn amazing comrades, shout out to Crusty), but what is an adventurer’s life other than one of taking risks and reaching new heights?

So, now in posing the post’s question, how does an anime properly seize a second season? Well, for Log Horizon:

A great introduction season through and through, no news announcements concerning continuation preceding the final episode broadcast, a mislead of sorts at the near end to make you think it’s just another completed series to drop in the recess of your memory bank, and then a full payout in the end with a myriad of moments that will remind you of the show’s best qualities, a clincher of story-writing that tells you things can get even better, and the crowning announcement that things will indeed get better. Damn more than good enough for me.

And to think, it all started with a hamburger that had some flavor.


A Year of Anime (2013)

Preface: And so, another year of anime has passed. Every year, it seems like the industry is prospering to new levels, and I am happy to say that alongside it, so does my involvement in it. Looking in retrospect, I can honestly say that I am astounded at how much the anime industry has changed. This year we’ve seen adaptations of manga, 4koma, novels, light novels, visual novels, games, mascots, and multi-media franchises. Additionally so, well-anticipated sequels and original adaptations have graced the year and proved to be just as enthralling. I am proud to say that I have matched this flourishing activity with that of my own. This year I have managed to watch _ anime series and finish _ of them. This post will serve as an extensive retrospection, including thoughts and reactions that I will do my best to recollect for respective premieres, highlight episodes, endings, and series in general. Of course they will all be assimilated into reviews primarily focusing on the “best anime of the year” motif, but the first half of this post will consist of specific awards concerning notable aspects of the medium while the second half will consist of the annual top series. And so, without further ado,

Disclaimer: If you find yourself disagreeing with my opinions, I urge you to respond with a list of your own. There are series I haven’t seen, thoughts I haven’t thought, feelings I haven’t felt, and perspectives I haven’t shared; but I’m sure I’d like to.


Eligibility: Anything that aired within the year.

Best of (Story):

Best Story: Kyousougiga

I wouldn’t say that the writers behind Kyousougiga have a god-complex like many big-time shōnen mangakas, but they sure as hell do the trope better than a majority of them. Penchants for imbuing characters with absolute power aside, Kyousougiga delivers the greatness of its story in leaps and bounds. In ten episodes, we are presented with a long-enduring, beautifully-scripted family drama that sees its own members traveling between planes of existence, becoming rulers of a civilization, practically waging war amongst each other, and the like. Fast pacing, of course is a common aspect (and what many would consider a weak one) in one-cour series (Kyousougiga being even shorter than one-cour) and yet, the series is able to leave behind with every episode’s premiere a vast depth of underlying content, whether that be the symbolism of Buddhist culture or the rich story-building with the planetarium of the thirteen planes. These facets are subtle but do so much to augment the main storyline; ultimately remaining uncultivated by the viewers’ intrigue without additional attention (It’s no wonder there’s multiple recaps episode in which the cast of the show provides background information on the show’s premise). It’s a needle in an imaginary haystack.

Honorable Mention(s): Shin Sekai Yori, Hunter x Hunter

Best Arc: Chimera Ant Arc (Hunter x Hunter)

Hands-down. I’ve avoided writing an explanation because I have an entirely separate blog post dedicated to the arc and its importance in the making.

Honorable Mention(s): Greed Island Arc (Hunter x Hunter), Sisters Arc (Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S)

Best Plot Twist: Inari is the son of God (Kyousougiga)

Inari pulls out the most batshit plot twist ever since a particular shōnen series did something of a similar vein and subsequently received widespread acclaim. But it’s not a twist that’s completely out of his ass, no, it’s out of his scabbard and it’s a sword, that he uses to stab… his daughter and his brother. Inari’s, for lack of better words, “change of heart” and status as son of God effectively makes him the most ambiguously evil character of the year (Yes, I see you, Squealer, but I knew your ass was evil from the beginning!). Wherein most plot twists live for shock value, Kyousougiga‘s is one that more so answers questions than raises them, kind of… The unraveling mystery of the Kyousougiga family comes to a modicum of clarity when we finally know what the deal is with this enigma of a character, a man who married his own painting, denied an grief-struck boy from suicide (which was practically synonymous with salvation in his culture), crafted two more children from his artistry, and then abandoned them. He then creates a final child, leaves her too, and comes back to stab her in the event of discussion. And with that, we come full circle. Wait, no we don’t, what the fuck just happened!?

Best Dialogue: Monogatari Series: Second Season

I’m not sure how much I need to argue for this, seeing as how Monogatari is arguably the most dialogue-driven series in anime history. Furthermore, Studio Shaft has pretty much perfected the art of capturing scenes of conversations after all the installments of the series. Overhead shots, low-angle shots, grandiose locales, over-exposed eye shots, immaculate focus on lips, lens flares, burlesque poses, melodic soundtrack, interlaced text, inter titles, you name it and Shaft will dramatize it masterfully. For me, NisiOisin is famous for his dialogue wit; he’s like the anime-version of Quentin Tarantino, wherein his stories not only feature cutting-edge subject matter with obvious appreciation towards pop culture, but also gritty presentation in discourse. It is said that the practice of conversation itself is an art form; with that in mind, I guess we can add another point to Monogatari‘s stylistic roster.

Honorable Mention(s): Uchouten Kazoku

Best Fight: Annie v.s. Recon Corps (Shingeki no Kyojin)

One of the main factors that soared Shingeki no Kyojin to the status of a masterpiece and true shōnen series for me was how intense the literary device of conflict was portrayed through its writing. Not only does the battle of an entire damn corporation against one girl last throughout the entire twenty five episode run of the show, but is also thoroughly and adequately foreshadowed, developed, materialized, and extended. As Annie is the first revealed titan, her story is one that is irrevocably attached to every other motif in the story. So when the nigh conflict finally comes to pass, it is quite literally her against the world (at least the world we’ve been shown thus far), and it does marvels in terms of emotional depth. Her one-on-ones with Eren, Mikasa, Levi, Hanji alike are all equally compelling match-ups. I do admit that as a result, original author Isayama kind of set a trap for himself as to how to make her imminent defeat as satisfying as possible. Personally, what I wanted most was her to fall in her fight against Mikasa and Levi in the woods (specifically to Mikasa), so I was a bit disappointed when that didn’t happen. But what ensued was also undeniably great (we even got Mikasa’s callously delivered jab at her as she literally fell from the walls of human civilization). And it goes without saying that what preceded it was also undeniably incredible. From the confines of the training camp to the plains beyond the walls to the innermost areas of the woods to the central stage of the town, the struggle against Annie was long, enduring, and just pure epic. Annie is a dead ringer for a great fighter and it’s not just because she’s a practiced boxer.

Honorable Mention(s): Kite, Gon and Killua v.s. Yunju, Centipede and Mosquito (Hunter  x Hunter)

Best Death: Deishuu Kaiki (Monogatari Series: Second Season)

Kaiki’s is a death that pretty much received the royal treatment. Not only did he get to be the narrator for a good part of the series (and a whole volume if we’re talking about the light novels), but he was also glorified in redemption by saving the lives of virtually the whole main cast of the series. The guy had a golden carpet laid out for him, one that led to his death. To be honest, with all the aforementioned story aspects that could be considered huge foreshadowings, I was in utter disbelief when the time, his time, finally came. Of course, I was long since emotionally invested in Kaiki (the scene of his altercation with Ononoki about his romantic history is iconic to me) , so when the finale decided to end with that as a cliffhanger, you know the writers are just reveling in how trauma they’ve caused you.

Honorable Mention(s): Kite (Hunter x Hunter), Shimogamo Souichirou (Uchouten Kazoku), Squealer (Shin Sekai Yori), Misaka 9982 (Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S)


Best of (Character):

Best Male Character: Shimogamo Yasaburo (Uchouten Kazoku)

Yasaburo gives hope to all the lackadaisicals in life. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Uchouten Kazoku is an adaptation from a novel, seeing as he’s such a textbook example of a character from a, well… book. While other protagonists are off gallantly saving the world from evil, the host of this show has his hands full with just the affairs of his own family. In actuality, Yasaburo may be the narrator of the series, but he could hardly be considered the centerpiece of it, seeing as how there’s a dramatic representation of the family Shimogamo family as a whole, eccentric unity. He doesn’t solve all the conflicts by himself; he acknowledges his own flaws and the flaws of his relatives. Nonetheless, it is the brilliance of his constant self-reflection that is the determinant aspect of the show. Without Yasaburo’s retrospections, there would be no underlying concepts to grasp from this everyday story. He is a phenomenally written character in that he is not only able to relay the brimming emotions from the cast of the story but also from the audience itself.

Honorable Mention(s): Gon (Hunter x Hunter), Deishuu Kaiki (Monogatari Series: Second Season), Joseph Joestar (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), Staz Charlie Blood (Blood Lad), Sakishima Hikari (Nagi no Asukara)

Best Female Character: Mayoi Hachikuji (Monogatari Series: Second Season)

Hachikuji is the most admirable fifth-grader ever. Hachikuji has retained my endearing impression since her introduction in the first Bakemonogatari series, where she became the first girl, besides Senjougahara, who Araragi met. And again in Nisemonogatari, she graced the premiere episode with arguably the best scene of the series, establishing the profundity that an elementary-schooler should not by normal means possess. This year’s installment marked her unfortunate and highly untimely passing, but not without a proper emotional send-off that saw her usually composed disposition crumble before the callousness of her fate and the sincerity of Araragi.  And that may just be the allure of her character. Physically, Hachikuji represents a moe archetype, but the juxtaposition of her overtly mature demeanor completely transmogrifies the enticement of her character into something else entirely. That we can fawn over her preciousness as well as regard the sophistication of her personality allow us to flip both sides of the coin with concurrent content. She’s a delight.

Honorable Mention(s): Hajime Ichinose (Gatchaman Crowds), Mankanshoku Mako (Kill la Kill), Misaka Mikoto (Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S)

Best Protagonist: Gon Freecs (Hunter x Hunter)

In terms of a lead role for the story, you can’t get any better than Gon Freecs. Sure, the main plot is driven by his quest to hunt down his father, but just a little more inspection and it should be obvious just about everything else breaks down as a effect to the cause that is his character. It was Gon’s stubborn heroism in the face of Nobunaga that tangle the protagonists further into the web of the Phantom Troupe. Greed Island was wholly an adventure for the sake of the plot’s main objective, but Razor’s clash with Gon was a personal battle of clout. And presently, Gon’s fate in the Chimera Ant arc was an outcome of him deciding to take Killua with him to see his father, triggering the Greed Island game to transfer the two to Kite instead.  That all is resultant of the nature of his character holds true to his definition as protagonist of the series.

Honorable Mention(s): Shimagamo Yasaburo (Uchouten Kazoku), Misaka Mikoto (Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S)

Best Antagonist: Neferpitou (Hunter x Hunter)

Neferpitou is an exceptionally unique case. Despite his role as a secondary antagonist in the Chimera Ant arc, the modicum of his presence and actions in the story have had such a grave effect that he fits the bill of antagonist so damn perfectly. In correlating Pitou with the big bad Mereum himself, Pitou actually seems more evil, and that’s not just because of the huge blow dealt upon the latter’s reputation by the oh-so-moe Komugi (though that is quite a large part of it). Let’s lay a few comparisons to establish this scale. Firstly, while Mereum did in fact kill his own mother by emerging from her womb, it was ultimately an inadvertent and consequential action. Conversely, there’s an overt implication in portraying Pitou as wholly apathetic to the matter as he even withholds resurrecting the Queen, a possibility only with his Nen ability. Secondly, while Mereum shows no sympathy to any other, he does not actively seek cruelty. Neferpitou is one who heavily follows the path of carnage, Exhibit A being his brutal victory over Kite compared to Mereum’s abandoned triumph over Komugi, which occurs on a much less severe battlefield. Thirdly, Neferpitou is the epitome of the word monstrosity in that he has remained the most unknown figure out of the Royal Guard and King himself despite being the first born and first introduced. His aura has thus far been acknowledged as the most terrifying, in which its immensity is horrid enough to outweigh Shiapouf’s, which incapacitated one of the greatest, professional hunters, as well as make Colt believe Netero, the arguably strongest character in the entire Hunter x Hunter series, has no chance against the King. Speaking of which, there is still a relationship of tremendous tension between the King and Neferpitou, one that hints ample treachery and conflict. To say that he even might betray the omnipotent king he serves is basically saying this motherfucker is bad news, big bad news.

Honorable Mention(s): Mereum (Hunter x Hunter), Squealer (Shin Sekai Yori), Annie Leonhart (Shingeki no Kyojin)

Best of (Genre):

Best Action: Hunter x Hunter

Togashi has put an unbelievable amount of work in conceiving Nen combat as well as structuring its introduction and continual coverage. Hunter x Hunter. The concept was first presented in the Heaven’s Arena arc and every since has had a hearty and soulful coverage of new components to the expansive technique. Moreover, it’s given fruit to some of the most creative action scenes and fights of the year, enabling Togashi to import his adoration of sports, board games, video games, and more. And while these might sound as cutting edge as the visceral nature of physical combat, don’t even think for a second that the series lacks in that area whatsoever.

Honorable Mention(s): Shingeki no Kyojin, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Best Adventure: Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter takes this cake with ease. As if last year’s events that saw our protagonists chasing around a group of the strongest characters in the series and getting mixed up in a Mafioso fiasco wasn’t enough of an adventure, Gon and Killua kicked in the 2013 year with the first official episode of the Greed Island arc. And if a whole arc devoted to two pre-teen boys playing a massively multi-player role-playing game isn’t the epitome of adventure for you, then I don’t know what is. From that virtual entanglement to the current Chimera Ant arc, it’s as if the boys have properly gone from a gamer’s heaven to what anyone would consider hell. It’s been a helluva an adventure, but hell, what’s more adventurous than going to hell and back?

Best Sci-fi: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

A common topic of discussion when it comes to technology is how it will inevitably influence warfare. Thankfully, modern warfare can be avidly represented in fiction without any worry of physical consequence. The account of Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S, and the entire Toaru series in general, is one in which its author immerses himself in a world of science fiction and tailors it to his own craft. Unlike some other sci-fi series of the year (Psycho-Pass, Suisei no Gargantia), Railgun largely implements the motif into an extra component of its series, action. A major part of Toaru‘s fun is identifying each character with their science-based powers and comparing them with each other in that sense. The story etches them out to be people defined by their powers and that adds a new measure to their persons. But it’s not only the characters themselves that receive the grand scientific treatment. The story itself dons its most intriguing essence from the employment of science-fictional themes, each arc offering respectable and engaging concepts of philosophy that rival the aforementioned rival series. The Sisters arc is one such exceptional example of such daring and sightly feats. (The whole issue of clones being human or not taken up one notch when they’re the clones of the protagonist and the underlying implication of kinship is beckoned.) Railgun is a series that knows how represent its classification as science-fiction story in exhilarating and dynamic style and depth.

Honorable Mentions: Suisei no Gargantia, Psycho-Pass

Best Fantasy: Kyousougiga

The imagination behind the making of Kyousougiga is enough for people to get lost in and inhibit for decades, if not centuries. As a matter of fact, that’s essentially what happens in the plot of the series itself… so it must be true! Many people say that FLCL is the coolest anime series ever; but in my opinion, Kyousougiga gives it a damn good run for its money. The vastness of Kyousougiga‘s imaginary and stylish world is what allows it to be such a fine flight of fancy. It’s not difficult for an original anime project to overload and contrive its story with attempts at culture-clashing, such as worlds with anachronistically parallel existences of advanced technology and medieval customs. It’s been done many times before and has failed many times before (though the connotation behind failed is pretty ambiguous). But when a series like Kyousougiga comes along, it drops the hammer to prove that it is a fantastical world entirely possible (in fiction at least) with the implementation of superb and seamless story-writing. The fantasy elements of Kyousougiga are indeed visual astonishing; but equally, their cultural and historical allusions and subtle symbolism are what enhance the depth of the story to new heights. It’s simply fantasy done right.

Honorable Mention(s): Uchouten Kazoku, Shin Sekai Yori, Monogatari Series: Second Season, Zetsuen no Tempest

Best Drama: Kyousougiga

Kyousougiga takes the zenith of drama to the heart of human relationships, the family. Within its ten episode span, the series has family members from the main cast living with another, eating with another, playing with another (and here’s where it gets weird), trying to kill another, creating another (by wholly unconventional means), trying to send another into an alternate dimension, forming an incestuous relationship with another and the like, in no particular order. Try imagining all the sentiments and emotions associated with that kind of dysfunctional family. While the show doesn’t quite cover every possible base, what it does unravel from these heartstrings is one intense enveloping development. From sub-genres such as the family drama to concepts from Sigmund Freud’s “Family Romances,” there’s all kinds of maudlin sagaciousness in the writings of Kyousougiga. With every episode, the show leaves a severe sense of yearning in the core of your heart and pit of your stomach, and god damn, it’s not even your own family.

Best Romance/Harem: Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko

HenNeko is definitely a series that leans more towards the harem side of the spectrum as opposed to the romance side. But hey, in a world where people are still asking every day what exactly is love, there’s no helping that there will be radically different interpretations of the timeless concept. While series like White Album 2 are the much more conspicuously advertised romance series, I’ve recently come to accept subtle heart-to-heart moments speaking much louder from the actual heart than the forced melodrama of vulnerable, angsty teenage interactions, even if one appears in a comedic romance and the other in a dramatic one. There’s a Japanese aesthetic concept called yūgen that is inexplicably more complicated than anything I can explain about it, but the general gist of its nuance is the beauty that is not directly displayed but that can be presumed from its deep and mysterious subtlety. I’ve all but applied that to my impressions of romances in anime. Wherein a charming relationship is eventually tarnished by melodrama forced into the writing, a casual interaction of genuine sentiments can still hopefully bloom into a beautiful enchantment, even after the open-ended conclusion that most harems offer. And oh boy, is there a lot of such sentimental scenes in HenNeko. Yokodera Youto is one hell of a genuine kid, a hapless pervert, but a good kid. His prepubescent life is fortunately full of interactions with bombshell beauties, adorable girls and even a loving mother (that is not his own). With all these cards on the tables, yes there’s a lot of room for eroticism and total fan-service, but the anime does a great job at being much more than just that with conflicts after conflicts overcome by friends bordering on the realm of romantic interests (except for the mother, that’s just sweetness of family). Not romance in the literal sense but love is definitely in the air for this one.

Honorable Mention(s): Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru, White Album 2

Best Fan-Service: Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku o Ketsui Shimashita

You may call me a pervert, but I hardly believe that I’m the only one.  Anime has long since made fan-service a staple  of its industry, and it only seems to become more affluent as the years go on. Simply put, sex sells. (Even animated sex.) And so does the more toned-down version of it. At this point, I have to admit myself that after so long, the approach of fan-service has pretty much become an art form. At the very least, I think we can agree that there’s a distinction amongst the kinds you see, be it blatant fan-service, subtle fan-service, or anywhere in between. Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku o Ketsui Shimashita, or Yusibu, definitely leans more upon the blatant side of the spectrum, but hey, to avoid sounding too lascivious, let’s just say for the most part it seems the artists and animators enjoy what they’re doing. Instead of just slapping a pair of, for lack of better words, somethings, on the screen, they put on a pretty detailed and lovely show, especially during those various action sequences where there’s a generous display of physics. I’ve officially re-dubbed this show into I Couldn’t Become A Hero, So I Decided to Continue Admiring Boobs and Butts.

Honorable Mention(s): Walkure Romanze

Best Comedy: Hataraku Maou-sama!

Hataraku Maou-sama! is one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me, not because it was a horrible series all through-out; but rather, because it showed a vast amount of potential to be a big hit until it just plummeted straight to the pits of hell. From now on, it just might be my go-to series to reference when explaining to someone the fatal flaw of having just too many damn characters, an affliction it unfortunately caught early on in its run. Nonetheless, ignoring my gripes about such things as the total side-casting of favorable character Ashiya, I have to give credit where credit is due, because Maou-sama! was one hell of a riot in its early stages. Its opening sequence was an ingenious transition from some mighty sakuga animation of a demonic war that gave it a sense of severity to a total turnabout scenario of the almighty demon lord and his right-hand man trying to escape the clutches of a local police station. Hilarity ensues as their misadventures just get wackier, for a small chunk of episodes at least. In the end, while not the most consistent in its delivery, Maou-sama! was definitely the comedy that garnered the best laughs from me this year.

Honorable Mention(s): Yuyushiki, Little Busters!, Minami-ke Tadaima

Best Slice-of-Life: Uchouten Kazoku

I’ll admit that I have a pretty warped perspective on the slice-of-life genre, I mean, how the hell is Uchouten Kazoku, an anime about tanuki, humans, and tengu, a slice-of-life series? What kind of delusions about life do I have, right? I don’t want to sound too pretentious in saying this (mainly because it reminds me of how my college professors teach certain cultural aesthetic values), but for me, slice-of-life is an aspect more focused upon the feeling and response of profundity that can be realized in everyday happenstance as opposed to mere content matter being situated in everyday situations. While I can’t put it into words in any manner cohesive, I can vouch my sentiments with the series itself. Uchouten Kazoku is a masterful expression of everyday values. I don’t know any tanuki or tengu who have seen this show or even read the original novel, but I can speak as a human when I say this narrative has taught me volumes about themes that are quite simplistic in nature.

Honorable Mention(s): Gin no Saji, Servant x Service, Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatteiru

Best Mystery: Zetsuen no Tempest

Zetsuen no Tempest dwells in a realm of multiple genres: fantasy, drama, romance, action. While any of these may be the most suitable categorization, there is no doubt that the mystery that interweaves the destinies of the two male protagonists and the fates of the magic and regular world is a driving force behind the series’ entire narrative. Every speck of romance and drama is linked to the characters’ attempts to solve the grand mystery of the show: Who killed Fuwa Aika? Needless to say, when the epiphanizing moment finally does come to pass, there’s a multitude of fantasy and action blended into the mix too. Whether you consider Zetsuen no Tempest a mystery series or not, the clear and present one within its plot was by all means more rousing and well-written than those of any other series that may have haughtily garnered the title of mystery this year.

Honorable Mention(s): Little Busters! ~Refrain~

Best Horror/Thriller: Shin Sekai Yori

Once you’re over the fears of mainstream monster movies after a few restless and sleepless nights, give yourself a whirl at the relentlessly haunting prospects proposed in Shin Sekai Yori, because, oh boy, is it one warped world. The suspense and terror of Shin Sekai Yori isn’t a fear factor that derives purely from its warped world of genetically altered humans, hive-mind/groupthink, mutated warfare, and the like; but also from the mindful construction of its story. The deft story-writing within the original novel is highly complimented by the staff of A-1 Picture’s capability in adaptation, leading to each episode’s grievous revelations. The doleful atmosphere that pervades the entirety of the show really is a reflection of the dystopian world they are trying to present. The inevitability of sympathizing with the main characters paired with the fearful amazement of identifying with them as humans (if you can still call them that) is something is a creepy conflict in itself.

Best Sports: Yowamushi Pedal

I think my opinion that anime can make anything interesting started with sports anime. I’ve indulged in my fair share of sports anime, but I wouldn’t say that I’m an avid fan of the genre. A majority of them seem to fall into the trap of formulaic matches, wherein the newcomer protagonist has to overcome hardships to make it into his renowned high school team, and then overcome more severe hardships to make it into the varsity of his team, and then overcoming even more severe hardships to win against other renowned high schools teams, and then finally overcome the most severe hardships to prove he can compete on a national, or even international level. Who would’ve thought that a series about bicycling in a circle would give me a brand new outlook? Like many sports anime before it, Yowamushi Pedal is authored by a total nerd of the respective sport, which is reflected in how in-depth the explanations are, but that is ultimately a great thing. Sports series are especially influenced by the passion of the author, to the point where even the characters start reflecting it. For me, Yowamushi Pedal takes that extra mile. Like a well-seasoned bicyclist, it’s not concerned with rushing into the immensity of its own plot; it’s all about fun. In one whole cour we have yet to see an official match between any of the bicyclists. The reason why of course being that there’s no reason to hype anything into something official. More importantly, we’ve been given a story about the love of a sport and the characters having genuine fun, both of which are pretty damn infectious. Someone get me my riding helmet!

Honorable Mention(s): Diamond no Ace

Best Short Series: Aiura

Honorable Mention(s): Senyuu.



Best Art/Animation: Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter has appropriately won over the title of best shōnen anime adaptation in my heart, a distinction that previously belonged to the adaptations of Fullmetal Alchemist by Studio Bones, a studio that too used to be my decisively favorite. The series in general is a dream anime come true, and while that’s not all due to the art and animation, god damn, are those two factors a monumental part of it. From one-on-one action scenes to chase scenes to sports showdowns to board game matches, the production staff at Madhouse know exactly how to make Yoshihiro Togashi’s captivating narrative come to life, and maybe even punch you in the face afterwards. It isn’t something that occurs from the get-go but one of the most infamous things about Hunter x Hunter is its hefty decline in art associated with its many hiatuses. In spite of this, the staff behind the anime managed to commence the adaptation with visual splendor that only increased in value as the episodes continued, even well into the three digit episode count. In reading respective chapters after watching new episodes every week, I can indefinitely say that the art and animation speak for themselves and in much more than a thousand words. More often than not, the anime counterpart of sequences have a much more immense effect in terms of atmosphere, tone, mood and any other determinants that make for a awe-inspiring viewing. Madhouse serves as a stronghold that protects Hunter x Hunter from the disease that abominably afflicts all other ongoing shōnen series. An honorable act worthy of highest praise, thank you Based Madhouse. 

Honorable Mention(s): Kyousougiga, Shingeki no Kyojin, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Red Data Girl, Nagi no Asukara, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

Best Opening: 「sister’s noise」 by fripSide (Toaru no Kagaku no Railgun S)

While precipitately playing the ED theme in order to interlace it with the intensive last moments of an episode has long since become an art form in the anime industry, the less notably innovated OP theme is still trying to figure out ways to catch up with the novelty of its counterpart. But fear not, because the production staff of Toaru no Kagaku no Railgun S have matched the artful construction of an episode with the jolting impact of fripSide‘s musicality. Whether it’s played right at the start of the episode or right after the shocking revelation of a short dialogue, 「sister’s noise」 is a banger that will electrify you into a proper Railgun-viewing condition. Frequent intakes of the song, even after finishing the series, is permissible but do be careful around water.

Honorable Mention(s): 「Small worldrop」 by Annabel (Red Data Girl), 「Guren no Yumiya」 by Linked Horizon (Shingeki no Kyojin), 「Uchouten Jinsei」 by milktub (Uchouten Kazoku)

Best Ending: 「REASON」 by ゆず (Hunter x Hunter)

The radio tells us that the greatest feeling associated with music is upbeat happiness. While I generally detest the music that dominates the radio waves, I have to agree with this sentiment, for this year at least. 「REASON」’s dual usage as an insert song and ED during the Greed Island Arc wasn’t anywhere near enough to make me tire of its effect. From coming out of my computer speakers at the end of each Hunter episode to coming out of my earbuds during my walks home from school, the song stirred emotion and adventure in my heart and had me tirelessly waiting for the new episode of Hunter x Hunter each week. And if that doesn’t define the meaning of a great ED to you, then I guess the only option left is to have the music speak for itself (yes, this is my obvious attempt at getting you to watch Hunter x Hunter).

Honorable Mention(s): 「Qué Será, Será」 by fhána (Uchouten Kazoku), 「Wareta Ringo」 by Risa Taneda (Shin Sekai Yori), 「BLOODY STREAM」 by Coda (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), 「Gomen ne, Iiko ja Irarenai.」 by Miku Sawai (Kill la Kill), 「Song for friends」 by Rita (Little Busters! ~Refrain~), 「Owaranai Melody wo Utaidashimashita.」 by Mikako Komatsu (Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi)

Best Soundtrack: Uchouten Kazoku

Honorable Mention(s): Shingeki no Kyojin, Monogatari Series: Second Season, Hunter x Hunter, Gatchaman Crowds, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

Best Seiyuu (Male): Withheld

Best Seiyuu (Female): Withheld

Best Character Design: Fantasista Doll

Shōnen mangakas across the industry are jealous of Anmi’s character designs for Fantasista Doll as they sit at their tables drawing their side characters with the same spiky hair as their protagonist. Well, if they aren’t, they should be. In considering the premise of Fantasista Doll, in which each character virtually gives birth to five others (each doll owner has five servants who server him or her), it’s nothing short of amazing how creative and unique Anmi was able to make each character, visually, at least. While there wasn’t much room at all for the show to provide coverage in the department of personality, what’s enough for the imagination of the audience is the stylish hair and the chic wardrobe. Not to get too superficial or materialistic, but these are dolls we’re talking about, so I’d say it’s all fair game.

Honorable Mention(s): Nagi no Asukara, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT

Best Studio: P.A. Works

There’s a lot to consider when thinking highly of an animation studio. To begin with, there’s a lot a respect that should be allocated to every studio just for partaking in the creation of anime as a medium; but in pinpointing the exceptionally reputable studios, there is indeed a lot of consider. Art, animation, sound, voice casting, original works, chosen source material, etc. As far it all goes, I believe that  P.A. Works has never failed to do any of these poorly in any of its series. Of this year’s Red Data Girl, Uchouten Kazoku, and Nagi no Asukara, there is an abundance of undeniable art at work here. If I had to attribute each series with a respective quality, I would favor Red Data Girl as a daring recreation of a historically and culturally rich fantasy novel series, Uchouten Kazoku as a wondrously creative adaptation of a quaint but profound novel imbued with the magic of anime, and Nagi no Asukara as a bold original work that rivals the latent astuteness of conventional forms of literature. Whatever the qualifier may be for each series, they have all been a delight to experience with P.A. Works behind the helm. While I find myself yearning for continuations of such series, much like a lot of other series by other studios, there’s a considerable degree of trust in P.A. Works that even when they do move on to new projects, the standard of excellence will always be there. Now that’s the kind of studio you can trust.

Honorable Mention(s): Madhouse, J.C. Staff, Production I.G. (inclusive of Studio WIT)

Best Premiere (Episode): Shingeki no Kyojin

I feel like this is such an appropriate distinction to have when talking about anime. Lately, it seems as if all premiere episodes get trapped in their own intent to catch the audience’s undivided attention with an over-the-top first impression. Luckily, Shingeki no Kyojin is a series that succeeds in doing this while also retaining its promised excellence throughout its entire runtime. From the start, we can praise Studio Wit for doing such things like delaying a new episode in order to have it meet up to their standards of art and animation; but the mere fact of the matter is that the first episode of the show is a flawless introduction to the overlying themes and motifs. It gives us a taste of its callousness, it establishes the essence of its world, and it kills the main character’s mother… Is it even possible to not keep watching after all that?

Honorable Mention(s): Uchouten Kazoku

Best Finale (Episode): Monogatari Series: Second Season

The modern day formula for anime adaptations is to pick up a project without any clear idea of profit and then lett the blu-ray (and other) sales decide the remainder of the series’ fates. As such, each season is riddled with the open-ended final episodes of many promising series. In that case, series like the Monogatari Series are a blessing to have, for us viewers and I assume for the production staff who can proceed with adapting a series to a better degree of freedom. What occurs from such flexibility are finales such Monogatari Series: Second Season‘s, in which the perfectly-paced, thrilling death of Deishuu Kaiki is the most effective cliffhanger since, well… before anime made cliffhangers a generic, everyday, or rather, every episode occurrence. Oh, and lest we forget the impactful resolution to the Hitagi End arc that sparked an aspiring mangaka child’s ambitions, detailed an conclusion to one of the series’ more significant romances, and saved the lives of quite nearly the whole cast. A job well done, Kaiki and Shaft.

Honorable Mention(s): Uchouten Kazoku

Best Episode: Withheld

Best Scene: Withheld


Best Original Series: Kyousougiga

Honorable Mention(s): Nagi no Asukara, Gatchaman Crowds

Best Manga Adaptation: Hunter x Hunter

Honorable Mention(s): Shingeki no Kyojin, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Yowamushi Pedal, Blood Lad, Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~

Best Novel Adaptation: Uchouten Kazoku

Honorable Mention(s): Shin Sekai Yori

Best Light Novel Adaptation: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S, Unbreakable Machine-doll

Honorable Mention(s): Log Horizon

Best Visual Novel Adaptation: Little Busters!/Little Busters! ~Refrain~

Honorable Mention(s): Robotics;Notes

Best Game Adaptation: Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation

Best 4koma Adaptation: Yuyushiki

Honorable Mention(s): GJ-bu!

Best Spin-off: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

Honorable Mention(s): THE UNLIMITED – Hyoubu Kyousuke



Most Deserving of Sequel: Blood Lad

Blood Lad was a series operating over a ticking timebomb, but it did a damn impressive job nonetheless. As a ten episode series, Blood Lad devoted a majority of its duration towards proving how stylistic it is. With a black comedic world only comparable to the wackiness of Soul Eater, meta-fictional protagonist Staz, and an inclination for genre-mixing, Blood Lad is a series that can only be described as an undeniable product of present day’s new wave of animanga. Now while that is a description that fits the anime adaptation for the most part, the last few episodes did exceptionally well in progressing this view. While yes, contemporary in every visual fiber, Blood Lad proved that it also has the depth of traditional story-writing and the coolness of shōnen series. In its fleeting moments, Staz shows just how much of a bad-ass and passively womanizing protagonist he can be, and things shift into an exciting arc with the most foreboding antagonist yet. But alas, one of this year’s biggest disappointments is that there is no resolution to this rising action.  Don’t let your blood boil for too long.

Honorable Mention(s): Kami-sama Inai no Nichiyoubi

Most Under-appreciated: Shin Sekai Yori

Shin Sekai Yori is indubitably one of the most intelligent anime series of the year, if not the most. Both in its written and animated form, it has merits beyond simple admiration. And though excellence isn’t something proportionate with under-appreciation, Shin Sekai Yori is a certain special case. It deserves a hell of a lot of attention, that much is for sure. What ails me isn’t the mere fact that it failed to live up to its performance in sales, but additionally how much its artistry was received with contempt. During it’s run-time, it was nearly unavoidable how harsh viewership was towards the series, whether it was for its art or for its content matter. And in my opinion, that was an outright travesty. By the time the criticisms beckoned in, the series had already proven that is was more than capable of being a masterpiece of an anime series. The themes and motifs it rung in with its narrative were thrilling, philosophical, and well-informed. If you ever needed one, Shin Sekai Yori is a referential backing to the fact that commercial reception does not define the greatness of a work.

Honorable Mention(s): Uchouten Kazoku

Exceeded Expectations: Girls und Panzer

Girls und Panzer is what would would happen if a production staff working on a new series by means of the girls and guns formula went along with the proposal but suddenly decided to actually make the series an endearing and worthwhile experience. I really can’t tell if it was the entire team behind the series that had this intent from the beginning or if it was decided mid-way by one person influencing the creation as whole. If it was the latter, I would consider that one hell of an infiltration mission, especially if accomplished in something as conspicuous as a war tank. Girls und Panzer starts off as a pretty tame show, but what begins to unravel once those girls get inside those thirty-plus ton tanks is a charming coming-of-age story that rivals a majority of other slice-of-life series and a unique sensation of an anime that will have you jollying along and repeating the show’s signature catch-phrase at least once, “Panzer Vor!

Honorable Mention(s): Log Horizon, Unbreakable-Machine Doll, Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~

Most Regrettably Unwatched: Chihayafuru 2

Honorable Mention(s): Uchuu Kyoudai, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199, Kingdom, Hajime no Ippo: Rising

Most Ridiculous: Samurai Flamenco

Ridiculousness has pretty much become a staple in anime, but can someone please tell me what the hell happen with Samurai Flamenco? As a noitamina series, Samurai Flamenco received some pretty high expectations early on, but I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted how seriously it wouldn’t take itself. Rampant with similarities to Iron Man, kaijuu flicks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Avengers, Super Sentai, and more hocus-pocus, Samumenco is a series not to be taken lightly, or seriously, there’s just no plausible approach to it.

Most Ridiculous Portrayal of Breasts: Fuji-san (Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san)

Guilty Pleasure: Kakumeiki Valvrave

Cards Chess pieces on the table, Code Geass was an anime series long-withstanding on my list of all-time favorites. But with Sunrise next series to be in a similar vein, Kakumeiki Valvrave, there was a like-hate relationship nearly immediately. I place the primary blame on the potential I saw in the first episode, that was all but truncated once the show began focusing on other, less endearing happenstances. Additionally, my unjustified hate takes form whenever I hear news of Valvrave topping blu-ray sales whilst other series, brilliant series, are nowhere to be seen. Regardless, there has to be some form of enjoyment from this show, even if masochistic, when the ending of each episode (in which there is an attempt to elicit emotional response by the dramatic maiming, killing, wiping the consciousness or vampirizing of a character) still somehow draws at least one tear from my eyes. When all is said and done, what I like to think is my better side won the fight and had me dropping the series at episode 22, but just that number itself is a testament to how much I lingered on. It was a guilty pleasure.


Best Anime of 2013:

#10. Zetsuen no Tempest

As opposed to a series that flaunts excellent source material, outstanding production values, and greatness in other such criteria; I personally feel Zetsuen no Tempest does just the opposite. Granted, at the helm of its production was Studio Bones, one of my personal favorites, there’s just something about the majority of the series that does not connect with me, mainly on a story-driven level. For the most part, I don’t find myself attached to any of the characters and somewhat find the dramatic plot less exceptional than it makes itself out to be. Maybe in a sense, this is another clear example of the production on an anime level, i.e. the studio, being the higher level of influence. There are two major categories that I rate an anime series in: conception and execution. While I can’t place the former for Zetsuen as being positively good or bad; I can say that when the two come together, they rightfully present the series as one of reputable amusement. Watching Zetsuen was a fresh walk in the park (or should I say a not so fresh walk across the world for our two protagonists), and it was a damn entertaining one.  The unconventional story of the internal conflict between best friends, the collision of the magical and everyday world both looming on destruction, and the humane searches for true logic and reason was certainly one to remember for the new year (and I usually have a disdain towards stories that make the actual act of referencing Shakespeare into a motif).

#09. Nagi no Asukara

Nagi no Asukara is a series I had been looking forward to nearly a year before it’s premiere. In the same vein as Kyousougiga, Nagi no Asukara exudes an indescribable aura that all but declares its status as an original animation. I have yet to fully understand this ambiguous distinction amongst source material of anime; but if I had to place key features; they would revolve around written structure, story-length and experimentalism. Relatively, the main reason that Nagi no Asukara finds itself in the top ten of this year’s list despite being only half completed is because it rightfully feels like a one-cour series.  Okada Mari is an infamously controversial writer in the anime industry, amongst professionals and fans; and I think she establishes some very unique ground with Nagi no Asukara. Her emotionally-manipulative writing is a craft that seems to blend well with the other great aspects of the series. The world-building is sensational and the themes are brimming with profundity. Oh, and the participation of Studio P.A. Works and character designer BURIKI and is also a huge plus in the visual and sound department. And that just might be it. Nagi no Asukara is conspicuously not a story of grand design; it’s a fluid mixture of individually magnificent elements. Or, at least it has been thus far, and hopefully will continue to be.

#08. Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

Railgun S speaks volumes about the light novel-adapted side of the anime industry. In its conception, it nearly rivals the literary aptness conventionally admired in novels and the emotionally-driven advents found in manga. There’s a lot to be admired about the Toaru series whether it be the breadth of its scientific background (something that you can see the author has an genuine interest in), the imaginative integration of fantasy elements, the multitude of ambitious story arcs, the wide cast of characters (enough for this series to be a character-focused spin-off of the original), or anything else. The franchise clearly deserves any and all success it has amassed over its soon to be decade-long run. That being said, I confess that the original Toaru Majutsu no Index anime series was one that I did not find intrigue in and promptly dropped. So when the anime adaptation of Railgun S came around, I can honestly say that not only did it show me the greatness of the series itself, but also the weight of an anime’s production staff. Railgun S is an anime adaptation that goes above and beyond. The action sequences are on par with the bests of this year. The art is wondrous. (Take a look at any of the landscape shots.) The soundtrack is a great earful. There are cinematographic shots that I would be amazed at even if they were in high-profile movies, which are generally more expected of such. And there is an aesthetic atmosphere to each episode. Join all these elements together with its aforementioned depth of story, characters and just general writing prowess; and I can definitely recognize Railgun S as one of J.C. Staff’s gem series.

#07. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

I dare say that you will never find absurdity of this kind anywhere else; and in that sense, the series is damn faithful to its title. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a cultural icon and a historical relic. A relic not in that it’s old and outdated, but rather in that as a newcomer to a series with a long-withstanding history of appreciation, you should admire it as an archaeologist would a newly discovered artefact.  (I swear I did not intend to conceptually link this description to the premise of the Battle Tendency arc. Next you’re going to say that it was pure coincidence!) At its base, JoJo is for all intents and purposes a shōnen series but the sensation of its flamboyant character designs, personalities, styles, and dare I say stances; will have that classification being the least of your thoughts. In a way, watching JoJo will be like living the experience of shōnen anime itself, as the charisma of the characters will be enough for you to join in and throw away all expectations of any sense or convention. It’s a damn euphoric phenomenon. It is wholly entertaining in evolved ways, and that David Production was able to revitalize the flair of this series is an astronomical accomplishment in itself. For the most part, you don’t even have to be mindful to notice the creative of this adaptation. It’s gushing out of its pores (take one look at the color palette). Hirohiko Araki and David Production, a team of ingenious and innovation.

#06. Shin Sekai Yori

My expectations of Shin Sekai Yori were drastically different from what it turned out to be. My expectations of A-1 Pictures series have never bordered on the realm of such grievousness, and I recall it namely being an adventure series. Needless to say, the true face of the series was nothing short of a tremendous shock, by all means favorable. Shin Sekai Yori is arguably the most well written series to air this year, and it is at the vanguard of the army of anime series adapted from novels that is pressing me into actively reading literature once more. But of course, until then, it hurts it no way to indulge in the phenomenal anime adaptations of already outstanding narratives. From the start, let me just say that Shin Sekai Yori is a myriad of new levels reached: the content is radical, the art controversial, the structure unfamiliar, the mood thoroughly and wholly melancholic, and the generic anime tropes nonexistent. I myself found myself disagreeing with a few tidbits, but anyone with a relatively open mind should be able to see the genius at work. Shin Sekai Yori brings to the screen a prodigious fiction of philosophical themes and undeniably artistic delivery. If it was served on a dinner plate instead of a television or computer screen, it would be glimmering and gorgeous food for thought. It is a story of life, death, fear and hope all amassed into one hell of a show.

#05. Monogatari Series: Second Season

I’ve been a fan of the Monogatari series since its first anime adaptation aired. To me, it’s the only notable long-running series that isn’t straight-up shōnen, which is admirable. Though, oddly enough, with each season that it airs, there’s always one pivotal scene that reminds me wholly of shōnen nature. (Even in the one episode adaptation of Nekomonogatari Kuro, I recall the totally bad-ass line of Araragi’s: The only thing I feel for a cat-eared high school girl in her underwear is lust.) This year’s Monogatari Series: Second Season is no exception. In fact, it probably contains the most overtly shōnen -esque arc yet. What, with the transformation of a character into a god and the glorified death of a side character, I can’t imagine any sequence of events more shonen. Casting that similarity aside, Monogatari retains its best and the worst aspects in this year’s installment. The worst thing, in my opinion, being the slow build-up at the beginning of each arc, something I know is off-putting enough to make some viewers drop the show entirely. But that of course is a huge mistake, every episode of Monogatari presents content finely tuned by author NisiOisin; and when things finally do interconnect into an intricately written resplendence, the pay-off is huge. Knee-deep in the pinnacle of entertainment, what you’ll be experiencing is a dashing combination of phenomenal story-telling supported by superbly conceived dialogue mixed with culturally elegant allusions and fascinating character interactions. Concurrent minimalism and meticulousness, implementation of innovative cinematic methodology, riveting soundtrack. Studio Shaft’s alluring and stylistic production may be the signature feature of the series, but its source material is also a literary force to be reckoned with. If the Monogatari series consisted of movies instead of anime cours, it would give auteurism a whole new standard.

#04. Uchouten Kazoku

Let it be known that I never got over the way their ears were modeled in Uchouten Kazoku. But as unrealistic as they seemed to me, you can bet that the rest of the series made up for it, because, oh man, was Uchouten Kazoku the realest shit this year. It had me sympathizing with sentiments I didn’t even know made up my everyday life, and I still don’t know how that’s possible. There’s should be a proper distinction for fantasy series that integrate fantasy element as well as author Tomihiko Morimi does into real life. Uchouten doesn’t require the over-the-top themes or magniloquent tone of other big-hitters when it can centralize itself upon a singular and simple theme such as family and prove that “wait, it’s actually not that simple, its vast prospect that constitutes infinitely unique experiences and this is just one scope of emotions associated with it,” and then in the end take it all back with, “actually, it can be simple, life can be simple, as simple as you make it, and that doesn’t make it any less fun or interesting or even eccentric.” Perhaps it’s the concentration that Uchouten has in delivering that one universal message overtaking the entirety of the show’s atmosphere that makes for such an effective delivery.  Incidentally, it’s quite interesting how Studio P.A. Works chooses to present this effect by means of adaptation (the most notable I would being the dynamic of simple character designs and beautifully meticulous scenery). In describing the series, I will never not feel the need to paraphrase from it, watch it because it’s fun.

#03. Kyousougiga

Kyousougiga is the coolest show since FLCL. It has been quite the successful year for brunette female leads. The chirpiness of Ichinose Hajime (Gatchaman Crowds) and spunkiness of Yarizakura Hime (Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta) immediately come to mind. Hell, I’ll even factor good ol’ goofball, no-star Mankanshoku Mako (Kill la Kill) into the formula. But ultimately, when the hammer falls, I just have to give the highest distinction to the happy-go-lucky girl living in an imaginary world with her crazy family and, well, universe-defying hammer. Kyousougiga is a series that is only limited by imagination, but the fantastical things you see ironically give the impression of things completely beyond your imagination. In that respect, it quite literally is a field trip into the amazing minds of its creators, delightful the whole way. But it would be a huge mistake to amount the series to excellence in only that department. The premise itself is something deeply rich and abundant with themes of Buddhism, Shinto history, Japanese literature, Japanese cultural aesthetics, and more. Put alongside this the beautiful production in art, animation, and soundtrack; and there’s a winner in all respects.  Anyone who is currently watching the anime adaptations of One Piece and or Toriko should understand a long-withstanding disappointment I have in Toei Studios. But the Izumi Todo team behind Kyousougiga has effectively restored my faith that behind the commercial juggernaut that profits off the most popular animanga series in the world, there is still a passionate staff. Like the picture book that it is based upon, Kyousougiga doesn’t need the additional modes of animation, sound, and the like to tell an overtly spectacular story; but nonetheless, it does.

#02. Shingeki no Kyojin

Shingeki no Kyojin is without a doubt the year’s most renowned, celebrated, and lauded anime series, a fact you cannot escape in real life at anime conventions or even at home on the web. It’s as unavoidable as death is in the series. While the marvelous adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s work doesn’t quite find itself at the top of my own list, there’s no way I can overlook the series’ splendor. As an avid fan of the shōnen genre, I can honestly say Shingeki features some of the most conceptually thrilling and dramatically moving fights in shōnen history. Even now, I’m still a bit conflicted as to how Shingeki stands above some of the other bests. While I can perfectly say that many other series of this year were better written and structured, I have to submit to my genuine emotional response towards this show, which was pure enjoyment. Let’s just say I’m glad this is a round-up of the best anime of the year and not, say, something like manga, light novels, or any other form of literature. To be frank, I place a majority of the magnificence of Shingeki in the work of Studio WIT. The experience of Shingeki would have been less favorable if not for the dynamic blend of its excellent animation, restructured story, grandiloquent voice acting, and emotionally-stirring soundtrack. While bombast in every nature, that domineering presence of the show was an aspect that it cultivated into its signature. The show delivered its own greatness week by week, and that has obviously made its mark, especially considering the universal reception.

#01. Hunter x Hunter

From Ufotable’s adaptation of Fate/Zero to this masterpiece of Madhouse’s, it’s another year where shōnen reigns supreme. (For any naysayers out there, the Fate series is most definitely of this genre, if not a variant of it, just considering how it’s the origin of the oh-so-shōnen term GAR.) Hunter x Hunter (2011) continues into its third year and proves this year once again that shōnen is indeed not dead, in a literal and cultural sense. This reboot set a whole new standard for adaptations last year with its damn fine adaptation of the manga’s Yorkshin City arc, an accomplishment that automatically placed the series into the year’s top rankings for me at least. And believe it or not, it’s only gotten better and better, per episode and per arc. By the end of last year, my preference went to the highly deserving Fate/Zero, leaving Hunter x Hunter as second best; but that standing alone was enough to vouch for its presence.  At that point, of course, it was already an apparent near-masterpiece of an anime, but for it to possess such promise that would manifest into the undeniable masterpiece of this year’s Chimera Ant arc is something that deserves a new whole level of praise. (And this should no way undercut the similar brilliance of the Greed Island arc.) Actions speak louder than my words, and there is tons of that in Hunter x Hunter; but that’s not all you can expect in this atypical adaptation. Hunter is the quintessential best of both worlds (of anime) in that its source material is already an exquisitely and masterfully written manga and that its production studio marvelously integrates the aspects of animation into this story. The show is a heavy-hitter in all aspects of anime: art, animation, writing, voice acting, soundtrack, you name it.