Summer 2013 Anime Top Starters

Summer is here.  It’s hot and time for some refreshing anime.  While this season doesn’t necessarily quench my thirst with each show individually, the overall spread of excellence is enough to keep me hydrated until the, usually better, fall season.  Unless otherwise noted, I will be using the names used on Crunchyroll for the series.  In addition to today’s feature, I’ll be announcing a new column at the end of the blog – so read on!

Rather than posting my usual first impressions, I’m going to be going with a top 5 format to cut to the chase and provide you with what you’re looking for:  “What anime should I watch this season?”

#5:  The Eccentric Family

The Eccentric FamilyNotably, I didn’t expect much out of this series.  But what was on the surface (both in imagery and title) a slice-of-life series without any drive, hid underneath a bit of a gem.  The basic premise is that the world contains tengu, tanuki and humans – all of which are an integral part of the world’s shifts in balance.  The tengu may fly wherever they please and seem to be hierarchically superior to the other two where the tanuki are afraid of being boiled in a hot pot by the humans despite their ability to transform into (apparently) whatever they desire.  The struggle between these cultures is obvious, even after the first two episodes.  The pacing and content of the show is in itself quirky (eccentric?) – and this helps the storytelling to not be dire.  If you’re looking for something a little different than usual, give it a shot – the original story is written by the same person who wrote The Tatami Galaxy, which is one of my favorite series of all-time.  There aren’t too many parallels between the two, but the writing style similarities are definitely evident.

#4:  Day Break Illusion

Day Break Illusion“It’s basically a happier Madoka” is what I’ve been telling people about this show.  Girls are given powers by tarot cards (read “soul gems”) that causes them to transform so that they can fight Daemonia (read “witches”) that have become Daemonia because magical girls’ tarot cards have become corrupted (read “turned into grief seeds”.)  While there are definitely parallels between the series, it doesn’t necessarily detract from what makes an, ultimately, decent series.  Stylistically, the series is very well-done, though I would have liked a bit more extravagance in their transformations (especially Seira’s and Ginka’s) but there’s a draw here that is worth continuing the trip.  There is the occasional unnecessary fanservice and slice-of-life’isms in this series that could potentially interrupt immersion, and I think that may be the ultimate deciding factor for the show on the whole.

#3: Danganronpa

DanganronpaI won’t lie.  The first episode of Danganronpa wasn’t that great.  The introductions were awkward and lacking substance (potentially because we were force-fed 16 character’s introductions in 5 minutes) but once the series started on the murder mystery case (i.e. some bastard killed someone in an attempt to escape the school), the tone and content changed greatly.  I’m 3 episodes into the series now and I don’t think I can put it down.  What is so enticing about this series is that it pulls you into the mystery (which any good mystery should do) and, to add to the suspense, always threatens killing a character simply out of each character’s desire to “graduate” from the school.  Give it a watch – oh, and also, I suspect that Chihiro is a trap…but the voice acting kind of gives it away.

#2:  Monogatari Series:  Second Season

Monogatari Series:  Second SeasonAdmittedly, this series is what I’ve been waiting for and what I look forward to most each week.  You can’t pick it up here if you haven’t seen the other series.  Where Nisemonogatari, frankly, derails the series a bit toward the…awkward, this series seems to return back to the normalcy (no…that’s definitely not the right word) of Senjougahara – and now Hanekawa.  The first two episodes have consisted, nearly entirely, of conversations between Senjougahara and Hanekawa and it is great.  Clever dialogue is what made Bakemonogatari, and this series comes very close to its predecessor.  If you haven’t seen Bakemonogatari, what’s stopping you?  Start and finish it.  Then begrudgingly watch Nisemonogatari, simply because you love the characters who entrapped you in the original series.  Then watch Nekomogatari Black, with my stamp of approval on it.  The Monogatari Series hit a significant low in its second series, but it seems to be on the rise again.

#1:  GATCHAMAAAAAAAAAN Crowds

Gatchaman CrowdsIt’s silly.  It’s odd.  It’s colorful.  It’s unique.  It has splendiferous transformation sequences.  This show is something.  While I know that this won’t appeal to everyone, I absolutely cannot get enough of this series.  It’s not comparable to anything in recent years, and really a breath of fresh air.  Honestly, if you’re trying to watch the same plot every time you watch an anime, why are you even watching anime in the first place.  Do I think the show will have a huge impact on the anime world?  No, I honestly think it’s going to be overlooked by a lot of people.  But, if you’re looking for something new and quirky, look no further.  This is basically the definition of what I look for in anime, and it takes the crown for my favorite series of the season so far.

Runners-up

Even though I’m reviewing the top 5 series this season, there are still some series that are noteworthy enough to give mention to:

  • Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3:  This show is great and nearly made the list.  Girls with guns meets GAINAX seems to work well.  Think of it like the scene with the air guns in FLCL, but in every episode.  I am still watching this until it reaches a point where I don’t feel like it is worth it any more.
  • Sunday Without God: I’m not sure about this show yet.  It has some potential and seems to want to present a story of moral ambiguity, but I’m not sold on it one way or another.  I’m still watching this, though.
  • Silver Spoon: This show is potentially one of this season’s greats – and it is definitely entertaining.  Despite that, the subject matter pulls me away from it and I’m not actively watching it.  By Fullmetal Alchemist’s mangaka, so it’s worth checking out for yourself, either way.

Not Worth Watching

I tend to be pretty picky when I even start choosing what I’m going to begin watching, but the below shows either received high rating for others or I watched on a whim…needless to say…they didn’t make the cut.

  • Blood Lad: Despite this one being on this list, the series does have potential.  However, it seems like alot of that potential is ill-placed and I don’t expect much from the series at all.  I’ve only seen the first episode of this one, so I may be wrong?
  • Watamote:  This was pretty awful.  There are some relatively funny scenes, but it doesn’t make up for it not really being anything new.
  • Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya: Alright…I like Fate series.  This is…not that bad.  But it’s not worth watching simply because it’s not going to go anywhere worthwhile.  I’m 2 episodes in and need to stop before I get too far.
  • Makai Ouji: For the fujoshi in you.  Not in me.

 

Column Announcement

I’ll be starting a new column soon and potentially changing up some of the appeal on the site!  So from now on, in addition to reviewing anime, I will be expanding my repertoire to JRPGs!  I hope this brings in new readers, while not alienating existing ones.  I have the following games in line for review:  Xenoblade Chronicles, Persona 4, Tales of Graces f, and Final Fantasy XIV:  A Realm Reborn.  Likely, the first one you will see is Xenoblade (as soon as I finish it).

I hope that reading the new column will be as enjoyable for you as it will be for me writing it!

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