The preseason buzz for spring 2013 seemed fairly pessimistic. (Sort of seems that way more often than not lately.) Thankfully, this quarter is shaping out to be pretty decent, at least through the first third of the cour. I guess I was looking forward to Death Billiards from the name alone—turns out it's another excellent Anime Mirai short movie, by the way—and that show about giants eating people, and the second season of Railgun, so it's not as if I believed spring 2013 would be a total write-off. It turns out there are at least a couple of gems and one shiny rock to admire.(more…)
For the past few years now I've kept a running update of anime rankings, mostly for use in spamming IRC. At the season's end, I also use those rankings to determine each show's position in my season summaries. This season, I've started keeping a spreadsheet on Google Drive, illustrating the changes in episode-by-episode rankings on charts. At the same time, I still maintain my IRC list of show rankings, based entirely on how I subjectively feel shows compare against other titles within the same cour.
The newfangled spreadsheet is ostensibly objective, but the data that goes into it is still derived subjectively since all the figures come from how I personally score episodes on a linear scale of one to five. What I've noticed though is that the rankings determined via the spreadsheet method don't necessarily agree with my overall subjective rankings. For example, at this point I currently consider Hataraku Maou-sama! to be the best show of the season, mostly because Shingeki no Kyojin has had some pretty annoying Ellen moments, and because Suisei no Gargantia—although consistently good—has not had as many bits that wowed me.
But looking at the spreadsheet experiment, Maou-sama! should be tied for second based on median scores or arithmetic means. If comparing geometric means, then it's no longer tied with Attack on Titan, but it's still in second place behind Gargantia, the undisputed leader. Does this mean anything other than that opinions are opinions? I suppose not, but I wonder if some people would be tempted to game the scores to correct for what is arguably a flaw in methodology (or I guess philosophy).
I understand that random evil merchant guy was supposed to be deliberately loathsome in order to make Mikasa look even more heroic when she steps in refusing to listen to any of his shit, but this was some really terrible juvenile writing in an episode of Shingeki no Kyojin which was otherwise punctuated by some pretty cool scenes, even if the animators apparently struggled to meet their demands. I don't expect a show about giants eating people to be subtle, but the writing in Attack on Titan really is a weak point. It's so over-the-top with its melodrama that it detracts from the impact of its shocking moments. Characters are understandably traumatized by horrific events unfolding in front of them, but from a narrative standpoint they are simply too traumatized and in shock just a little too long. It's kinda telling that the moment generating the biggest reaction to the show thus far is the scene of a potato being eaten, not the one of [spoilers] being eaten.
This post is about something that might be a simple typographical error. Or it might be about spoilers. Or it might be about nothing at all. It is about Shingeki no Kyojin, and although I have read all the manga chapters currently available and seen all the anime episodes that have aired, I will attempt to avoid discussing anything that would be an actual spoiler. Well, unless the above image is itself a spoiler, in which case...oops. I will also discuss all characters in the present tense, but do not assume that has any bearing on whether or not a character lives or dies. Knowing who doesn't die is as much of a spoiler as knowing who does die. Right? [Spoilers: Chiyo lives.] According to this image, Mikasa is 170 cm tall and weighs 68 kg. That seems unusually heavy for an anime character, particularly one of her apparent build. It's not inappropriate for a sufficiently muscular real life girl of her proportions to weigh that much, but from an anime standpoint she's a beast.1 This would not be noteworthy at all if the rest of the characters depicted in that picture had similar builds, but if you accept all those numbers as accurate, Mikasa's fellow soldiers are kinda shrimpy compared to her. Every depicted character who weighs more than Mikasa is both male and at least 5 cm taller.
So, why is that? Well, the simple answer is that Mikasa is a badass. She's the BEST GIRL in Attack on Titan (even though Sasha can tear into a hot potato like none other) and she's probably my current front runner for 2013 Girl of the Year. Being hard core enough to do the things she does, it's sensible that she would be much more muscular than the other characters, even if they're all drawn pretty much the same way in the anime and the manga. The other answer is purely speculation based on something that has already been depicted in the anime but has not been explicitly explained in the first 45 chapters of the manga. For that reason, maybe it counts as spoilers, and maybe it's pure bullshit. I guess it's minor spoilers for people either not watching or a few episodes behind on the anime, and spoilers about what probably won't get explained anytime soon in the anime: In the flashback where young Eren convinces Mikasa to fight, the anime and manga both show a brief "power up" sequence of liquid kickass coursing through her muscles before she attacks, gripping the knife so hard she crushes its hilt and launching herself at her target with such ferocity she shatters a floorboard. Did these things literally happen? Are they unusual events within the in-universe laws of physics? (Which, remember, allow people to Spider-Man their way around town with cans of compressed gas and spring-coiled cables.) We know that childhood bullies were terrified of her and that she's freakishly strong, but does she actually have the ability to Hulk out with superhuman strength that nobody seems willing to question? We know Eren's possibly-up-to-no-good dad visited Mikasa for undefined purposes and has some Important Thing in the basement that everyone's forgotten about after the first episode, but is Mikasa different because she's Just That Good or is she different because of some sort of genetic/magic enhancement? (One that makes her weigh more than her fellow soldiers who seem to have tears and anxiety in the places where Mikasa stores extra beatdowns.)
Note 1: The Body Mass Index calculator for 15-year-old girls at CDC.gov reports Mikasa has a healthy weight.
Overall, the spring 2013 season was a little bit of a letdown considering it started fairly strong. (I can sort of prove it too.) From a subjective standpoint, it probably felt worse because the start of the season coincided with the release of Little Witch Academia and Death Billiards which are both excellent short films, although not part of the spring 2013 anime season itself. As you can probably predict, both the best show and the worst show I watched were pretty consistent episode to episode.(more…)
I knew in advance that I was going to drop most of these shows, but most of them are at least worth a look. From certain perspectives, a lot of these shows are actually quite good.
The best show I stopped watching is Servant x Service which has some real appeal, but I dropped it because I didn't like Lucy. Most of the other characters are fine, though. It sort of has the same vibe as WORKING!! which I disliked. Servant x Service doesn't rub me the wrong way like WORKING!! did, but I didn't see a point in watching more Servant x Service when there are so many better shows to watch this season.
Kiniro Mosaic (Golden Mosaic) is cute. Aggressively cute. Obnoxiously cute. Well, yeah; it's a "cute girls doing cute things" show. (As mentioned previously, I'm not a big fan of those.) That's really all the show seems to have going for it. Still, I was much more impressed with the episodes I did watch than I was with the manga.
Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku (Chronicles of the Going Home Club) is another "cute girls doing cute things" show. KKK appealed to me even less than Kiniro Mosaic because most of its humor seemed to be based on super-overblown reactions to medium-outrageous antics.
Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyou: Il Sole Penetra le Illusioni (Day Break Illusion) isn't exactly good, but it's also not as bad as its most dismissive critics claim. Yes, it does seem designed to cash in on the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad show. That said, I did not find it particularly interesting, and was only watching to see if anyone got her head bitten off.
Chou Jigen Game Neptume The Animation (Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation) also did not strike me as a necessarily bad show, but I sensed I wouldn't be able to appreciate it without being familiar with the game first. Indeed, its most enthusiastic fans appear to be veterans of the video game. I guess that means it's a good adaptation.
If you watched the first High School DxD then you know what to expect from High School DxD NEW. It's pretty much the same deal again, but that just wasn't enough this season.
I gave Futari wa Milky Holmes (We are Milky Holmes) a couple episodes to turn itself into first-season Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, but it didn't happen so I dropped it.
Now we're in the dregs. Despite its huge popularity and strong start, Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) really took a dive summer 2013. It doesn't help that it started off with a clip show (episode "13.5"). Notably, it was the worst clip show I have ever seen. I'm not opposed to recaps as a matter of principle. Just as I never skip OPs and EDs, I also never skip clip shows. However, the Shingeki no Kyojin recap episode was so lackluster that I have to conclude nobody responsible for it had the slightest interest in it. Then the week after, episode 14 proved so disengaging that I finally gave up on the series entirely. (This was also partially inspired by my declining opinion of the ongoing manga. I've nothing to look forward to except [SPOILERS] with a bow.) I'm forced to conclude the two episodes of Attack on Titan that I watched summer 2013 were WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS. Congratulations.
All of the shows I just mentioned are watchable on some level and arguably have positive aspects going for them. However, the summer 2013 season is too good on a whole to waste time with shows that are so flawed or otherwise uninspiring.
Dated 15 October 2013: In re Summer 2013 Anime -or- The End of Silver Spoon ~Air/My Purest Love for Bacon~
Summer 2013: Silver Spoon [1-11] > Uchouten Kazoku [1-13] > Symphogear G [1-13] > Love Lab [1-13] > Genshiken Nidaime [1-13] > Prisma☆Illya [1-10] > C3-bu [1-13] > Turning Girls [1-7] > Detective Conan (701-711) > DokiDoki! Precure (23-34) > RailgunS [13-24] > Dog & Scissors [1-12].
Dropped: Gatchaman Crowds (1-9) > Servant x Service (1-3) > Kiniro Mosaic (1-4) > Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku (1-2) > Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyou: Il Sole Penetra le Illusioni (1-3) > Chou Jigen Game Neptume The Animation (1) > High School DxD NEW (1-4) > Futari wa Milky Holmes (1-2). WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Shingeki no Kyojin (13.5-14).
This chart started out as a joke, but has grown kinda out of control. Of course, the whole ranking anime thing started out as a joke too, and then suddenly five years went by.
Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) was easily the best summer 2013 series that I watched. It was consistently entertaining and I was impressed with how Hachiken's character developed over the show's 11 episodes. Even the quandary with "Pork Bowl" ended up much better than I expected. That was the plot point I had the most reservations about, but I'm quite pleased with how Silver Spoon resolved it.
Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) stands out among the summer 2013 shows for being intelligent about idiots and being strange while feeling familiar. The focus is on tanuki family dynamics, but it turns out the problems fuzzball shapeshifters have with their families aren't too different than those experienced by humans, except perhaps tanuki aren't as quick to embrace Shakespearean revenge tragedies. To be fair, all I really learned about tanuki is that they are dumbasses and that they are easily panicked, but maybe that's all anyone needs to know about tanuki.
More importantly, I learned Mamiko can knock 'em dead better than ever. Her work as Benten was transcendent. I've never wanted to be a decrepit old man more. In fact, thanks mostly to Noto Mamiko's superb work, but also because Benten herself is such straight-up trouble, I'm nominating Suzuki Satomi for 2013 Girl of the Year. I'd also like to mention that Nakahara Mai is better than ever, although I encourage her to take more parts like her role in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita and and fewer roles as young boys.
Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... had a great ending. Basically, if you didn't like that final episode then you just don't like anime. That said, the show itself did have a few issues. First of all, Dr. Ver's comically evil persona never seemed particularly threatening, except for maybe when we learned he wanted to make babies with Maria. Second, Maria herself turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I certainly was not expecting her to spend most of the show crying. I guess it's a good thing there's not going to be a follow-up cour devoted to her efforts at repopulating the planet, because she'd probably cry the entire time then too.
Sorry, Maria really needed to focus more on tearing shit up and coming up with new cape-fu moves instead of all the moping she did. Still, I'll ignore a lot of faults when a show spends most of its time focusing on mahou shoujo whaling on each other while singing. Shirabe and Kirika were endearing even though their fights lost a lot of impact because there was no danger of anyone getting hurt. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS already demonstrated that providing lots of collateral damage is not a substitute for emotional resonance.
Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-Bu spent too much time on Yura taking all the fun out of a game, but that was sort of the point. In a way, C3-bu felt as if Gainax wanted to stretch out a Gainax ending as far as they could. Technically, C3-bu did have a Gainax ending, but then they went ahead and made another episode that seemed to contain material I'd usually expect in a standalone OVA. Maybe that's the way it was originally planned, but someone figured at the last minute that it probably wouldn't sell or something.
I finished watching Turning Girls weeks ago.
I fell behind on Detective Conan but managed to catch up by the time I finally got this thing written. As for Meitantei Conan itself, it's still a reliable control for comparing shows season-to-season. It does need more Kazuha, though. I was concerned maybe her prolonged absence was related to Miyamura Yuko's longer commuting requirements. (She moved to Australia a few years ago.) I'm not sure if that's a factor, but it appears autumn 2013 starts off with at least four Heiji (with Kazuha in tow) episodes to follow the two that finished up the summer 2013 season. I'm certainly in favor of a six-episode block of Kazuha episodes, but I'm curious if they would have been spaced out instead if Miyamura Yuko still lived in Japan.
DokiDoki! Precure did two notable things during the summer 2013 cour. One, it introduced a sass-talking Kugimiya Rie Cure. Two, it raised the stakes in the all-singing, all-dancing 3DCG ED wars. Aside from that, DokiDoki! is turning out to be one of the less interesting Pretty Cure generations, although episode 34 did have some rad Cure Rosetta beatdowns.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S needed more SATEN, but I'm glad it found excuses to trot her out in different hairstyles and various street clothes. The ending of the series was rather ridiculous with its casualty-free battle between espers and drones. I guess I was pleased to see SATEN behind the controls of a giant robot, though. P.S. Spoilers.
I already covered Dog and Scissors.
I won't revisit the shows I dropped except to say I also dropped Gatchaman Crowds. This one comes as a bit of a surprise because it seemed so promising after a strong start. However, I was unable to take the villain seriously and never cared what he did. I also did not sympathize with Rui at all nor had any interest in his reasons for crossdressing. The turning point was the episode where Rui is mercilessly beaten for what ended up being a hilariously long time and I realized I had absolutely no emotional investment in any of the characters and was only still watching to see how long Hajime could prolong her violently upbeat attitude. I fell behind after that, and once I learned how disappointed other fans were with the series finale, I decided to simply quit watching altogether.
This season summary is a lot more piecemeal than previous ones, but I kinda get the feeling the amount of time required to compile these things does not expand linearly with the number of additional shows watched. Maybe the one I write three months from now for the autumn 2013 shows will be a lot more cohesive and contain greater detail and not be dragged out over several weeks. At least, maybe it will be that way if I continue to watch only three shows. I've got up to 10 I might consider, but I can't see following more than seven for the time being.