It took me a while to decide, but I have now settled down with the anime I will watch this season. After previously having watched a whopping 20 series at the same time, with most of them turning out to be average at best, it feels nice to end up with a handful of series that instead are superb. This may change over time, naturally, but right now the spring 2013 anime season has been full of surprises!
Who thought a Devil King working at a fast-food chain would end up hilarious? Or what about Attack on Titan managing to live up to its expectations? And let us not forget the massive hatred towards the anime adaptation of Flowers of Evil!
Certainly I cannot be the only surprised one, can I?
#11 RDG: Red Data Girl – Dropped
3/12 Episodes | Drama, Supernatural | Novel | P.A. Works | Spring 2013
I rarely drop anime. When I do, there needs to be a good reason for it.Red Data Girl provides many. First of all, almost literally falling asleep during the first episode is a bad sign. Secondly, becoming so annoyed at the poorly written characters that it affects your viewing experience is also a bad sign. And finally, the story has not attempted to clear any of the confusion during its first three episodes. Stuff happens, I dislike the characters and I feel apathetic when watching.
That means a drop despite being created by P.A. Works, the studio with gorgeous backgrounds.
1/12 Episodes | Mecha, Sci-Fi | Original | Sunrise | Spring 2013
The return of mecha anime! We have Majestic Prince, Gargantia and also Valvrave in the same season! Such a shame Valvrave, written by the creator of Code Geass, ended up a mess using every single cliché possible in its very first episode while being absolutely serious doing so.
There is some invasion, some conflict, some students, some infiltrators, some giant robot… and nothing is really explained. We have all of this, and more, crammed into one episode. The transition from everyday school life to hot mecha action is abrupt and without much sense, resulting in a lack of attachment. Why should I care? What is happening? I do not even know these characters.
Hopefully this was only a poor excuse to get the story started considering how this is a split-cour series (the second half will air fall 2013), but it was a missed opportunity to create a memorable start to a hopefully decent mecha anime. Or actually, it was memorable in a way. Memorable in how utterly bad it was.
1/12 Episodes | Comedy, Slice of Life | Manga | Kinema Citrus | Spring 2013
At first I assumed this would be a calming ride with a few girls discussing various topics they find while hanging out in the data processing club at school. Even though everything pointed towards this during the first five minutes of episode one, Yuyushiki could not help but completely ruin the charming mood it had built up. Instead we have these slightly awkward yuri scenes that do not really add anything of worth and jokes mostly falling flat.
This would not be a problem if Yuyushiki was fast-paced, but the thing is that it is not. It is an endless cycle of building up calmness and then bogging it down with unfitting moments. But fortunately there are also more subtle attempts at comedy which helps balancing out these problems. Who knows, perhaps there will be a change for the better the longer it ruins?
#8 Flowers of Evil / Aku no Hana
2/13 Episodes | Drama, School, Psychological | Manga | Zecxs | Spring 2013
Little Flowers of Evil, how well you managed to stir up hatred. Instead of using the animation technique we find in every other anime or doing a live-action adaptation, you decided to use rotoscoping which means you trace over filmed footage. Not only does this create a visual appearance unlike any other anime, but it is also a far departure from how the manga looks like.
And I understand the reaction from the fans. The rotoscoping looks cheap. There is a lack of shadows, making every character look flat, and the amount of frames per second is low which leads to somewhat jerky animation. In a way this helps with the eerie atmosphere Flowers of Evil is going for, but in the long run it ends up looking mostly bad.
However the main issue is not the rotoscoping itself, but everything around it. The rotoscoping is merely the catalyst and not the cause. The thing is that when it comes to adapting the source material to a different medium, you actually need to adapt it to make it work!
The first episode started out slow, but it did so in a good way. It only focused on the atmosphere and not as much on the plot progression. This ended in a disturbing, but ultimately satisfying, episode. The second one, on the other hand, decided to advance the story and this is where it failed. Key scenes ended up lacking impact with some even being more comical than chilling! The verbal exchanges between the students were short, unnatural and, frankly, bad. It also felt like everything moved in slow motion.
Confused as I was I decided to check out the manga to see if it could answer my problems. Which it did! It turned out that Flowers of Evil actually adapts too faithfully, which came as a complete surprise seeing how everyone hated it. The reason some scenes were comical was because it took said scenes straight out of the manga without making them fit for the new medium. This ended up with our main character, Takao, screaming on a bike for an eternity. And the dialogue? The anime did not bother altering it to make it sound more natural.
This is where the rotoscoping comes into picture. We have characters that resemble real humans rather than cartoons, yet they do not act realistic. Add the fact that the rotoscoping is cheap, often lacking proper facial expressions, and we have a bad combination.
Flowers of Evil needs to step up its game and that is quick, because after having read the manga I honestly have no idea how the anime will be able to express the emotional madness that will start next episode. Surprise me! You are one of the most interesting anime right now. Prove me wrong!
#7 Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san
2/13 Episodes | Comedy | Manga | Tatsunoko Productions | Spring 2013
Bless Muromi-san for understanding that longer does not necessarily mean better. Thanks to only being twelve minutes instead of the usual double it never overstays its welcome. This is a good thing, because the comedy is not that great even if it manages to make me grin from time to time. And that is exactly what makes Muromi-san so entertaining. It is fast-paced, somewhat funny and does not drag out the time. It is a little bit of wacky fun every week.
1/12 Episodes | Comedy, Slice of Life | Manga | Liden Films | Spring 2013
If we ignore the morbid opening theme that jokes about Steve Job’s death, Aiura may turn out to be the most heartwarming anime this season. I never could have believed Yama no Susume would have a contender for the “best short anime” title this early.
But so far, nothing has happened. We saw Ayuko, the main girl, getting dressed for school, taking a walk and eating some ice cream. Despite having a lovely visual style and an uplifting feeling, its length works against it. Not only is it slow-paced, but out of the four minutes it airs a whopping two are given to the opening and ending themes. At least one additional minute would significantly increase the greatness of Aiura.
Right now Aiura is enjoyable to watch, but sadly ends before getting anywhere.
#5 Oreimo 2
2/13 Episodes | Comedy, Slice of Life | Light Novel | A-1 Pictures | Spring 2013
My Little Sister Can’t Be This Annoying. My Black Cat Can’t Be This Good. My Anime Quality Can’t Be This Uneven.
There is nothing to write here assuming you have already seen the first season of OreImo. This is more of the same otaku-oriented anime that can either be annoying (Kirino) or pretty good (the rest) depending on what it focuses on. For example, the first episode was all about Kirino and her drooling trip to Akihabara. That was not too fun. The second episode, however, was more about the comedy. That was a lot of fun.
If anything, watch this since it is considered by many to be one of the earliest “My Anime Title Can’t Be This Long”-anime. We are talking about history here, people!
#4 HENNEKO – The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat
1/12 Episodes | Comedy, Ecchi, Romance | Light Novel | J.C. Staff | Spring 2013
I should not have enjoyed this as much as I did. It is a story about a perverted boy not being able to hide his dirty thoughts and a girl not being able to show emotions, all due to them both having wished for this in the first place.
But you know what? I will not lie. I enjoyed the heck out of Henneko. It had energy to it. Lots of, in fact. Despite having the worst possible combination of voice actors (Kaji Yuki and Ogura Yui) along with J.C. “Sometimes good, sometimes bad” Staff producing it, the result was surprisingly fine. The voices fit perfectly. Production-wise it is good enough. Plus I got myself a few chuckles.
What more is there to ask? Sure, Henneko does not break any new ground, but that is okay by me. Maybe it will grow stale in a few episodes, but right now I am having a great time.
2/13 Episodes | Comedy, Fantasy | Light Novel | White Fox | Spring 2013
Out of nowhere came this little gem about a Devil King ending up working at MgRonalds. It may sound crazy, but it actually works quite well! It takes advantage of its fantasy characters fairly often which leads to wonderful scenes such as one where a taxi is “summoned” by demonic powers.
The question, however, is how long this hilarity will survive without becoming old. If the typical light novel adaptation is to be trusted, it will lose its charm after the first volume has been animated. This should be in an episode or two unless Maou-sama is different from the rest. Let us hope it is.
2/12 Episodes | Sci-Fi | Original | Production I.G | Spring 2013
After a splendid first episode I believed Gargantia would drop the ball and wander aimlessly without knowing what it wanted to do. Color me happy when it still is on track in its second episode!
Gargantia tells a story about Ledo, a 16-year-old boy that fights space monsters in a mecha, who one day ends up Earth, a planet only remembered in legends! That is about as far as the story has gone, to tell the truth. Personally I have no guess as to where it will head, which could be considered both a good and a bad thing. This does not seem like a story where our protagonist will settle down and live a new life without a single care in the world, but at the same time it does not really seem crazy about its sci-fi setting either.
What I do know, however, is that I love every single minute of it. This is a well-crafted anime with stunning visuals and, surprise surprise, smart characters! Gargantia does not try to compromise with the viewers. Instead Gargantia has decided what it wants to be and runs with it. It is extremely refreshing to watch, to say the least, and so far every episode makes me want to watch more. Release a new episode already!
2/25 Episodes | Action, Fantasy | Manga | Production I.G | Spring 2013
I cannot really explain Attack on Titan without sounding silly. Something just worked. The first episode is one of the best starting episodes I have ever seen in anime. If not one of the best episodes ever. At the end it had me shaking. I feared the titans. Hell, for some reason I was even wet around my eyes. Was it some primitive fear? Was it simply that amazing? I do not know and I probably sound like a fool.
Then came the second episode and was almost as good as the first. Spectacular animation, fantastic music, a great visual style and a brilliant directing. The list could go on. Dare I say that this may be the best anime of 2013, or will I jinx it?
Attack on Titan just is. And I love it so much.
Marow is the creator of the blog Anime Viking (http://animeviking.wordpress.com/) where he shares his thoughts about anything related to anime. You can follow him via his Twitter feed @Marower (http://twitter.com/Marower) if you want to talk about anime, games or that cats are the best thing in the world.