The winter season is drawing to a close, which means it’s once more time to look forward and see what the future might bring. This current season was a bit of a wash, and I’m not gonna sugarcoat it – next season isn’t looking great either. Frankly, if you’re not anticipating at least one or two of this spring’s big sequels, it might be worth calling a mulligan on this one. Outside of Masaaki Yuasa’s new films, there are basically no noteworthy projects by any of the creators I generally keep tabs on – no Matsumoto, no Mizushima, no Nakamura, and nothing by Kyoto Animation period. Couple that with a slate of dire-looking premises and previews, and you’ve got the recipe for a fresh season of playing videogames and catching up on backlog. Personally, I recommend the first one – I normally only get excited about a couple games a year, but this year’s already brought us Resident Evil VII, Nier Automata, Nioh, and Breath of the Wild, with Persona 5 still on its way. Those are some pretty great videogames!
But of course, you’re here for anime. The good news is, if you are in the market for sequels, this season has some extremely promising ones. The Eccentric Family counts among my favorite shows of all time, and both My Hero Academia and Rage of Bahamut have strong predecessors to live up to. As usual, my list won’t cover every show – you can check basically any resource to find that, along with handy synopses. I’ll just be running down the shows I’m actually excited about, along with what specifically sticks out to me. So let’s start with my most anticipated shows and run this coming season down!
I got to take another crack at Eccentric Family! Which is good, because I never felt all that happy with my original essay on the show. This one doesn’t go as deep into the show’s central themes, since you can’t really focus entirely on that within a standard review structure, but it also doesn’t just retell the entire damn story. I hopefully was able to articulate the key reasons the show is so great this time, and man, is the show ever great. Plenty to talk about!
Yep, I’ve finally put together a top shows list. As I hopefully made clear in part one and part two of my critical biases post, this is obviously my list – it represents the things I think are most valuable in stories in the way I think they’ve best been articulated. It’s also just a list of shows I enjoy – there’s no hard criteria here, so I wouldn’t stress the numbers too much. Also, it’s a bit front-loaded – I only started watching anime seasonally about two years ago, so the last couple years are disproportionately represented. Incidentally, I’m not including movies here either – I think direct comparisons between shows and films are a bit of a stretch, but if they were included, this list would certainly be somewhat different. And finally, I’m absolutely (and thankfully) certain this list will change over time – there are still piles of widely beloved shows I’ve never seen, so I’m sure the current rankings will be filled out in the years to come. So with that all said, let’s get to the list – Bobduh’s Top 30 Anime of All Time.
-edit- I have now created a Top Shows Addendum for shows that have either fallen off or just barely missed this list. Please enjoy these additional almost-top shows!
And so 2013 comes to an end. This has been a big year for me in blogging, what with it being my first year in blogging, and so a lot of these shows hold a possibly unreasonable place in my heart. Nah, I don’t think that’s actually true. I think we’ve just had a great year, and that blogging really has done what I always wanted it to – force me to apply a more critical eye to my media, which, contrary to popular belief, has actually made me appreciate my favorites even more.
And there sure were plenty of favorites! As I said, this has been an excellent year in anime, with tons of genres, styles, and themes represented by stylish, confident productions. If this is your first time checking the blog, let me introduce myself by saying I’m a horribly biased shithead who wouldn’t know a good action show or comedy if it comically murdered me. I like people, and I like ideas, and my list reflects that (if you’re looking for Attack on Titan or Maou-sama, you can find my reviews of those here and here). I like to think I’m pretty good at telling good writing or direction from bad, but everyone has different things that appeal to them, and so you can consider the numbering here a mushy compromise between favorite and best, though the list overall encompasses both. I’m not gonna give you synopses here – if you’re interested, each title links to that show’s description, but that’s not what you’re not paying me for. These comments will cover why I loved these shows. I was aiming for a top ten, but when compiling the list, the shows that immediately bubbled to mind ended up numbering twelve, and instead of arbitrarily cutting two off I’ve decided to honor them all. Also, I’m only counting shows that ended in 2013 here, so no Kill la Kill or other half-finished two-parters. So here it is: my top twelve anime series of 2013!
Management: Just a mini-question today, since I found myself searching the archives for this and realized I’d never posted it in the first place. Organization!
Are shows starring adults meaningfully different from those starring teenagers? Are shows set in college meaningfully different from those set in middle or high school? I ask because I see this distinction made all the time, but generally it doesn’t seem meaningfully different outside of a setting/character-appearance sense.
Management: Reviews are inherently an act of attempting to paint the personal as the universal, but this piece in particular is overtly meant to share my personal experience of this show. I hope you enjoy it.
“Coming of age stories” generally have a very specific connotation, particularly when it comes to anime. They tend to focus on adolescence – on the discarding of our youthful conceptions of self, and the beginning stages of establishing a true mature identity. But the reality is life is not nearly that simple. You do not simply discover yourself at some arbitrary point in your teen years, and from then on no longer feel existential dread about self or purpose. You don’t wake up one morning and suddenly realize it’s time to Do Your Best for the rest of forever, and somehow find yourself continuously fulfilled by that one measly resolution.
Uchouten Kazoku understands this. It understands life and self-actualization are never so convenient as most stories’ linear narratives would like to pretend. It understands that living is not a coherent progression – living is what you’re already doing while you try and make sense of it all. And Uchouten Kazoku embraces this; the small lessons, warm friendships, and tiny moments that seem may inconsequential from an outside perspective, but that make up life itself, and when fully embraced, fully lived in, can swell to be heart-seizing moments on a monumental scale.
Uchouten Kazoku is likely the best anime of the year.
And so the summer ends. I really couldn’t be more burnt out on talking about anime, considering I just finished three 8+ page essays on TWGOK, Uchouten Kazoku, and Gatchaman Crowds, but I’ll at least wave my hand in the direction of final impressions.
Last Uchouten Kazoku. If I said I didn’t want it to end, that’d be kind of missing the point, right? Well, good, because I’m actually perfectly comfortable with it ending. Uchouten Kazoku has lived well – offering us many beautiful glimpses of a fantastically realized world, sharing a variety of well-written and relentlessly human (loaded word, but we’ll go with it) characters, and telling a sharp, perfectly composed story of life, family and duty. I’m not sad it’s ending, I’m happy it’s ending so well. I think Sou would approve.
No time for foolish preamble! It’s time for Yashirou to save the day!
Incidentally, I just posted a review of the Uchouten writer’s other work, The Tatami Galaxy, so when you’re done slavering over how good this week’s episode is undoubtedly going to be, you can always head over there for more writer-adoration. Anyway!