With the new anime season recently having started, I figured it was time to look back at what aired during summer.
One thing that struck me as this season ended was how many episode finales surprised me both positively and negatively. Nearly every finale made me react in one way or another I usually do not do.
Often they made me look back at the series and think “Wait, what is wrong with this final episode!?”.
#18 Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai 2 Specials –1/10
3 Episodes | Drama, Romance | Light Novel | A-1 Pictures | Summer 2013
#17 Chronicles of the Going Home Club – 2/10 Dropped
3/12 Episodes | “Comedy”, School | Manga | Nomad | Summer 2013
When I first heard the title Chronicles of the Going Home Club I expected an anime about a bunch of people walking home after school. It would either be a wacky and energetic comedy about all the weird stuff they discovered during their walk, or it would be the complete opposite and have an overall calming atmosphere while pointing out small, yet wonderful, details in our daily lives.
I am not completely sure how I came up with these two scenarios, but either would be approximately a gazillion times better than what we actually got. In the end, everything about Going Home Club is bad. Horrible. Astrocious. The voice acting is poor, the art is bland, the comedic timing is terribly off and the so-called jokes are about as fun as being stripped naked at school.
And they even barely walked home. What the hell?
#16 Sunday Without God 3/10 Dropped
6/12 Episodes | Fantasy, Mystery | Light Novel | Madhouse | Summer 2013
I urge you to read Jinx’s blog post for something more substantial. To sum it up, Sunday Without God is poorly written. It had some neat ideas about a world people would not die in, but decided to use a little kid as the protagonist and completely ditch its own concept in favor of uninteresting short stories.
Am I supposed to care about anything when nothing is elaborated upon? When the characters are flatter than paper? When the, at least the first two, arcs end with completely random twists out of the blue? Am I? Whatever the case, I do not.
This is more of Recorder to Randoseru, basically. It is completely different from previous seasons, as it does not repeat the same joke for its whole run. In addition it has a brand new art style and also introduces many new characters. It feels very different, but at its core it is still the same dull-ish amusing-ish story about a child in an adult’s body and an adult in a child’s body.
#14 Kiniro Mosaic – 5/10
12 Episodes | Comedy, School | Manga | Studio Gokumi | Summer 2013
Ask me what I thought of Kiniro Mosaic after its first episode and I probably would have answered that it was the Anime of the Year. It was that good. Starting off with an episode so adorably cute that my face could not stop smiling for hours, it seemed as if nothing could go wrong.
So of course things went wrong.
It turned out that the first episode was essentially original and not true to the 4-koma manga, meaning it was totally different from the rest of the series. After the pilot my interested died quicker than you can finish reading this sentence. Left was a rather boring 4-koma adaptation that did not bother fleshing out its roots by making each skit flow naturally into each other. Add rather uninteresting characters and you have a loser.
Then something happened. The final batch of episodes made me regain my interest. The episodes now had focus, often centering around one single event. This made Kiniro Mosaic feel a little more alive, which was exactly what it needed.
As a welcome bonus, the final episode was a fantastic musical. That is not something you often see in anime
#13 Eccentric Family – 5/10
13 Episodes | Comedy, Drama | Novel | P.A. Works | Summer 2013
The best way I can sum up my reaction to Eccentric Family is with a simple shrug. I did not care the slightest about anything that happened in the series towards the end. Instead, I was only frustrated by every little small thing that did not really make any sense to me.
In the beginning Eccentric Family was an eccentric series full with energy, a lovely visual style and subtle character interactions. However, it seemed to lack a clear goal in sight when over half of the episodes had aired. It became hard to care about the characters which we never really got to learn about in the first place.
But then Eccentric Family decided it was time to somehow wrap itself up by adding a stock villain and drama that heavily conflicted with the first half’s upbeat tone. At this point I was completely apathetic towards the series. Was I supposed to care about characters we never really learned anything about?
I just do not know. Do I like Eccentric Family or not? As I write this, I heave a sigh and shrug.
#12 Free! – 6/10
12 Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Sports | Original/Light Novel | Kyoto Animation | Summer 2013
Oh Free!, how you started with a bang. It was a swimming anime featuring hot dudes with a silly tone and a great comedic timing, but most importantly, it was brimming with energy. It was over the top while still having its serious moments.
After a few episodes the Free! started to lose energy and soon shallow drama was added to make things worse. The backstory, about how Rin left the main group in hope of becoming a better swimmer, lacks depth and comes across as overblown. Instead of having developed characters with proper reasons to behave the way they do, Free! goes with flat ones screaming their lungs out over stupid things.
It does not really work all that well.
Yet, whenever the main conflict is not part of the series, Free!manages to enjoy. It still manages to keep its silly tone later on, even if it is no longer the main focus. Hopefully the rumored second season will ditch the poorly executed drama.
#11 Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! – 6/10
12 Episodes | Comedy | Manga | Silver Link | Summer 2013
Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!, orWatamote for short, is a comedy about the socially awkward girl called Tomoko. She lives in her own delusional world and wishes to be popular, which leads to many uncomfortable situations.
Watamote is not as funny as it is hard to watch, which is due to Tomoko doing exactly everything wrong in every possible situation. She wants to impress her cousin? She lies, which naturally backlashes. Or what if she wants to work at a place where you make cakes, but instead of a café she ends up in an industrial factory?
Everything goes wrong which is supposed to be the main appeal. And yes, it can be funny. The anime improves a lot upon the manga in my opinion, which mainly is thanks to Tomoko’s fantastic voice actor Izumi Kitta. Actually hearing the poor girl suffer makes you feel much sadder over her situation.
But therein also lies my problem with Watamote: it only stays a comedy. Tomoko herself is generally a despicable person and mostly lies, talks shit about others and harasses her only friend. Instead of these points being portrayed as failed attempts at being social, they only come across as Tomoko having a bad personality. Not once does she hesitate or even think about what she is doing, except for humorous instances such as “Crap, if I lie more I will be screwed!”.
Watamote stays a comedy and is fine with that. But despite this it at times pretends to be something else, a serious series about a girl with social anxiety. Why it does this I do not know. Even the very ending of the series completely laughs at any sort of fake development it had previously built up.
What is left is your better-than-average comedy about an awkward girl in uncomfortable situations you may, or may not, relate to.
#10 Attack on Titan – 6/10
25 Episodes | Action, Fantasy | Manga | Wit Studio | Spring 2013
What started out amazing soon became a production mess with a so-so story and so-so characters. Attack on Titan has a lot of potential, but it never manages to use it.
The story is slow and when you think back over what has happened during the span of 25 episodes, you realize almost nothing has happened. Many episodes are essentially the same, especially in the second arc.
The characters are weak, with the exception of Armin and Jean who both show some feelings over what is happening in the series. The rest of the cast are only there to fulfill different roles. Our protagonist, Eren, never develops more than wanting to kill titans. And his childhood friend, Mikasa? She serves no other purpose than to be in love with Eren and constantly worry over him.
Furthermore, we also have a production that does not try to improve the very slow and same-y storytelling that is prominent in the manga. Episodes progress so slowly it becomes hard to concentrate when you know that what happens on-screen is supposed to take place in only a couple of seconds or minutes. In an intense situation it does not work with minute-long monologues that in reality are only a few seconds. The intensity is lost.
Add re-used footage and an episode that was even unfinished, and it feels like Attack on Titan could have been handled better. After the first couple of episodes we are mainly greeted by still images with the occasional well-animated scene. Once again intensity is lost.
Luckily the final episodes managed to make me excited again thanks to them using the slow pacing in its favor, building up a very tense situation. The concept, mysterious titans that eat the few remaining humans, is so interesting it is easy to forgive Attack on Titan for its shortcomings.
And that is also how I would describe Attack on Titan: lots fantastic moments, but to get to them you have to wade through much wasted potential.
#9 Senyuu 2 – 6/10
13 Episodes | Comedy, Fantasy | Manga | Liden Films, Ordet | Summer 2013
A lighter, less insane, version of Teekyuu.
#8 Servant x Service – 6/10
13 Episodes | Comedy | Manga | A-1 Pictures | Summer 2013
“Solid”. That is the perfect word for Servant x Service. This is your typical comedy, this time featuring civil servants, for better or for worse. It never really reaches the heights of laughter, but at the same time it never really fails at delivering.
And as a welcome bonus, Servant x Service introduces slight romance later on, which gives it a certain charm. Even I started shipping characters and wishing them the best of luck.
If you want a solid series, this is it. It will not blow you away, but it will probably not disappoint you either.
7 Gatchaman Crowds – 6/10
12 Episodes | Action, Sci-Fi | Original | Tatsunoko Productions | Summer 2013
I like Gatchaman Crowds, I really do. But I want to love it. The gorgeous colorful style is there, along with a super catchy soundtrack. You have neat concepts, such as putting traditional superheroes in today’s social network climate, and you have a plot that constantly moves forward.
Yet, it never manages to come together very well. Gatchaman Crowds feels very rough around the edges, as if it is a draft rather than a finished product. There are many things which could, and should if you want an emotional aspect out of the series, be developed upon. The characters, especially the insanely charismatic Hajime, remain fairly undeveloped. We learn about them in details, but not nearly enough to make it matter in the long run.
In addition, much of what happens in the series stops making sense the second you think outside the box, as in what happens off-screen. Where are the parents? Why did Hajime do that? And so on.
But if you manage to ignore these things, Gatchaman Crowds is one of the most exciting anime I have seen this year. I never lost interested and it always kept me guessing at where it would go. It uses its ideas very well (even if you wish they could be used more).
What I cannot ignore, however, is the final episode which frankly is atrocious. You can clearly see what Gatchaman Crowds wanted to pull off, but it does so in such a rushed and poorly explained manner it only becomes a mess. Not much makes sense. Barely anything. It ruins an otherwise cool anime.
Gatchaman Crowds is in desperate need of polishing. Sadly, it will never get that.
#6 Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³ –6/10
13 Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Sports | Manga | Gainax | Summer 2013
Have you seen C3-bu? Go read THIS incredible post. Have you not seen C3-bu? Go watch it and be prepared that it is a character-driven story and not cute girls shooting cute things.
C3-bu is easily one of the more interesting series I have seen lately and all of it is thanks to the main character Yura Yamato. This is her story and no-one else’s. It tells how she grows as a person as she discovers her passion for airsoft. Whereas many anime would stop where the third episode of C3-bu ends, it instead continues developing Yura in a way I have not seen many recent anime do.
Yura’s development is far from perfect in execution, but it still remains surprisingly engrossing and is what separates C3-bu from other anime titles this season.
But when you start looking at the series from other perspectives, you will soon find an anime with many great ideas, but lacking the power to execute them well. Much like Girls und Panzer we have a large cast of different characters and teams, but aside from the main gang they never get any time to shine.
The same goes with the airsoft matches themselves, which remain fairly static animation-wise and are never exciting enough to make you cheer for Yura and her team. They are randomly introduced and are finished before you really know what happened. This is a shame, because if the matches themselves were engaging it would only help make Yura’s character development feel even better!
It never terrible, far from, but C3-bu actively avoids making itself a truly great series. It does what it does well, but it certainly could do it even better.
But please, pretend that the very final episode does not exist. It serves no purpose as the story finished the episode before, and is merely used for fan service to some degree. It does not fit chronologically, and I would argue that it would not even fit if it had aired earlier either. Stupid that it exists. Really stupid.
#5 The World God Only Knows: Goddesses – 7/10
12 Episodes | Comedy, Romance | Manga | Manglobe | Summer 2013
This weird season of Kami Nomi is a weird one. It skips a lot of content from the manga so it can animate one of the most recent arcs, completely screwing over anime viewers. But at the same time, it also messes with manga readers since this arc is rushed through in anime format (but still very well-made, I must add).
Taking a much faster approach than the two previous seasons,Goddesses conquers one girl per episode. It does so with style, however, having a much better comedic timing than before and a sense of urgency. Goddesses also has a more larger story, completely leaving the simplistic dating sim approach that once was. It even managed to make me feel sad for one of the characters.
Bar the very first episode, I had a blast when watching this new season. No longer was Kami Nomi dragging its feet. This slightly backlashes as the season progresses, however, since everything comes across as a bit too simplistic, most likely due to the time-constraint the arc had to suffer.
What I can imagine was foreshadowed and mysterious in the manga, is here straightforward and takes a few leaps in logic at times. Especially the finale showcases this problem, because we never really learn what has been solved or what the conflict even was about in the first place.
But despite this, Goddesses is the best anime season of the franchise. Now, if only we could get more to fill the missing gaps.
#4 Teekyuu 2 – 7/10
12 Episodes | Comedy | Manga | Mappa | Summer 2013
Kids, do not do drugs. Do Teekyuu instead.
#3 Love Lab – 7/10
13 Episodes | Comedy, School | Manga | Dogakobo | Summer 2013
Wacky comedy? Check.
Great comedic timing? Check.
Characters with personalities? Check.
Characters that plays off each other really well? Check.
Generally visually impressive? Check.
Love Lab is about a student council “researching love”, so to say. What can they do to be popular with boys and so on. While this easily could grow stale, Love Lab does everything it can to ensure it does not. It continues to introduce new scenarios to spice things up, even having what you could call a story! Add in great character chemistry and you are set.
What does not work as well, on the other hand, are the very few episodes focusing on putting our characters in tough spots. The more dramatic parts are not what Love Lab excels at, but at the same time it depends on them to move the story and concept forward. It is a give-and-take situation.
Plus there are some episodes that are heavily outsourced. Overall these are not only less visually impressive, but they also lack the comedic energy Love Lab otherwise oozes. Lucky then that the rest of the series is so funny it does not matter in the slightest.
#2 Silver Spoon – 8/10
11 Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life | Manga | A-1 Pictures | Summer 2013
Silver Spoon is a slow burner. It takes a while for it to get started, but when it does, you simply do not want it to end. Why, oh why, do we have to wait for the second half?!
The largest problem the series has is the start, when our main character Hachiken is completely new to this agriculture school thing. He screams, he whines and is mostly there as a stark contrast to the other characters that have been raised at farms. Instead of being charming it quickly becomes annoying. It also does not help that Silver Spoon entirely brushes over the early days of school, jumping from one event to another without a proper narrative.
But then, a few episodes in, the change happens: Hachiken starts to mature. While still being a city boy, he now starts viewing farm life from different perspectives and starts listening to others’ stories. He tries his best and is genuinely sweet. To make it even better, the chain of unrelated events is broken and in return we are shown Hachiken going about in his daily life.
I care about Hachiken and feel sorry for him when misfortune strikes, relating to similar happenings of my own. I want to learn about the other characters in the series, such as Mikage’s struggle with her own future.
Just when Silver Spoon had started to hit its stride it also ended. If the second half, airing in the beginning of 2014, continues this trend I cannot see anything stopping it from being short of fantastic.
As for now, however, we are left with a great, but nonetheless incomplete, series.
#1 Monogatari 2nd Season – 8/10
15/25? Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Supernatural | Light Novel | Shaft | Summer 2013
Monogatari is back from the bland and ecchi-filled experience that was Nisemonogatari. Unlike previous seasons, Monogatari 2nd does not necessarily follow Araragi’s lead. Instead, the story is told from the perspective of the girls he saved in Bakemonogatari.
Not only does this keep the series fresh, but it also makes us view these girls from a different perspective. We learn more about why Hanekawa acts the way she does. And maybe Nadeko is not as innocent as she seems to be?
This fact coupled with shorts arcs, spanning around four to five episodes each, makes that Monogatari 2nd never feels old.
The only problem this new season has is that it at times relies on another entry in the series called Kizumonogatari. The movie version of this has been delayed many times and might air before 2013 ends. This becomes problematic when we are met by characters first introduced in said entry. While it does not distract from enjoying Monogatari 2nd, at least I cannot help but feel like something is amiss.
Other than that? Monogatari is back, guys!
Marow is the creator of the blog Anime Viking where he shares his thoughts about anything related to anime. You can follow him via his Twitter @Marower or Facebook page if you want to talk about anime, games or that cats are the best thing in the world.