With 2014 here and the Winter anime season already in full swing, I decided to look back at my favorite animes of 2013. I usually list only top 5s, but with so many amazing animes from last year, I definitely had to extend the list to 10. Once again, remember that these are only my favorite ones, not a definitive list of what I think are ‘the best’, so feel free to disagree and share your thoughts in the comments. That said, I’ll begin the list with an honorable mention:
Honorable Mention: Freezing VibrationFreezing Vibration is the second season to one of my favorite action animes, featuring one of my favorite female anime characters: Satellizer El Bridget. The second season is loosely based on the ‘E-Pandora’ arc of the manga and involves the main characters getting tangled up in a large conspiracy in a research facility. I did enjoy Vibration and it was good eye candy in more ways than one, but sadly it didn’t make my top 10 purely because aspects of the other animes beat this one by a margin. Regardless, Freezing Vibration was awesome and I think it did the arc justice, while managing to fit in a much darker arc and resolve it surprisingly well.
10. Date A LiveWhat started as a fun distraction turned into a weekly unwind to a surprisingly satisfying anime. Date A Live is as cliche as it gets, but with the hilarious concept of a real life dating sim and a cast of characters that were incredibly loveable, it was an easy watch. Tobiichi Origami in particular was very interesting in how she had a very deadpan personality but was very aggressive when it came to romantically pursuing the main character Shido. The Kurumi arc was quite a surprise too, turning what was otherwise a lighthearted harem anime into a more high stakes battle for survival. I really enjoyed Date A Live and I can’t wait till the next season starts.
9. WatamoteWatamote, the abbreviation for a much longer title that translates as: No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!, is an anime about a girl entering high school who thinks she’s all that, when really she’s not popular at all. You immediately discover that her lack of friends is due to her very harsh opinions of people and her misguided morals, though this doesn’t make you hate her as a character. Instead, it’s very easy to emphasize with Tomoko Kuroki, a girl who is actually quite shy and very unsure of how to interact with people. Each episode is a showcase in how she can’t deal with a lot of situations and is often left alone to her own awkward thoughts. Funny at times and touching at other times, Watamote will truly make you feel for Tomoko as she tries her best to become popular.
8. Highschool DxD NewThis is an anime that knows exactly what it is and isn’t afraid to go all in. Sleazy, silly and straight up ecchi at all times, but with some of the best action I’ve seen in a while, Highschool DxD New continues the journey of Hyodo Issei in his efforts to become the best servant of Rias Gremory, a high class demon heiress. The development of Issei’s bond with the Red Dragon Emperor made for some really exciting scenes and the different arcs throughout the second season were actually well written. I liked the first season so I was hoping the second one wouldn’t disappoint, and it didn’t, thankfully. Highschool DxD New was loads of action and loads of BOOST!!
7. Haganai NEXTHaganai NEXT is the second season of Haganai, short for Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: I Don’t Have Many Friends. While at first I was apprehensive because of how much Yozora bothered me, I was really impressed by this season because I thought that this was the season that made it right. Haganai NEXT ditches the random antics and identity crisis of the first season for more straight forward comedy. It doesn’t sacrifice laughs for feels and it doesn’t sacrifice feels for laughs; every single part of this season was well-balanced and enjoyable. Even when the tension ramps up in the very dramatic finale, I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish, having grown attached to the characters. I’m interested to see where the story goes from here, but no matter what, I know that this season made me appreciate the anime as a whole.
6. The World God Only Knows: GoddessesThe third season of The World God Only Knows puts the ‘God of Conquest’ Katsuragi Keima into a situation where he must romance some of the previous girls again, but this time without the safety net of a memory wipe. It was confusing at first to be introduced to girls that weren’t in the previous two seasons and are from the manga, but after a quick recap episode it all made sense. The introduction of the Goddesses and the conflict in the underworld made the storyline a lot deeper than I imagined it’d be, on top of the already enjoyable plot progression. Despite being a mastermind of strategy, not everything goes as planned for Keima and he even makes a mistake that can never be undone, something that honestly left me really sad at the end. While this may sound depressing, the overall tone of this season is very fun and as always hilarity ensues whenever something unexpected happens. Also, if you’re a fan of Haqua, you’ll get to see her a lot this season, which was nice.
5. The Devil Is a Part Timer
I actually watched this anime earlier this month, but I was really glad I did and it secured its place on this list. Hataraku Maou-Sama, or The Devil Is A Part Timer is exactly what it says in the title; the demon overload gets a part-time job working at a fast food restaurant after ending up in our world devoid of his powers. Along with his faithful right hand man Ashiya, they try to adapt to living on Earth and they actually fit into the system very well, a little too well in fact, to a hilarious extent. Couple that with running into the very hero he ran from his own dimension because of, Emilia Justina, there’s never a dull moment in this anime and it honestly has some of the most side-splitting gags in every episode. It’s surprisingly straight forward, coming off as wacky sometimes while other times it has a unique comedy style that can genuinely make you laugh. The characters are well written, deep and interesting and the semi-serious plot carries you through all the episodes as Sadao Mao, the fast food employee demon king, comes to enjoy being among humans for the first time.
4. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru, or My youth romantic comedy is wrong as I expected is yet another long titled anime, however it is not what you’re expecting. OreGairu, for short, isn’t just some typical love triangle harem anime about forgettable gags and inevitable romance, it’s an anime about how sometimes some people just lose. No, it’s not depressing or hard to watch, it’s actually very funny and witty at all times, especially during the banter between Hachiman and Yukino. Hachiman himself is an example of the real loser in a highschool, not like the lucky ones in anime that have friends and meet loads of hot girls; he’s the ultimate loner with a cynical attitude to go with it. Given his disposition, it allowed him to pull one of the greatest acts of social suicide I have EVER seen, earning my respect for him tenfold. While there are some triumphs in certain circumstances, this anime is a subtle reminder that in life you may win the battle but ultimately you won’t win the war. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Seriously, give this anime a watch.
While many think that the anime was half-baked and even I admit that the game is a lot more detailed, Danganronpa really blew me away. Waiting for each episode was suspenseful; always anxious to discover ‘who dun it’ and what happens next. Danganronpa is an anime based on the PSP game of the same name, revolving around a group of very unique highschool students that get thrown into an academy from which they cannot escape, except if they murder someone and get away with it. Danganronpa is equal parts smart and equal parts exciting. It’s a strange balance to have a murder mystery survival-style scenario be played out in a fun way, but it’s pulled off well and the danger is always apparent. If anything, watching the anime really opened me up to the characters and the story, and even right now I’m watching playthroughs of the game. Maybe Danganronpa isn’t as deep as some of the anime of 2013, but its avant-garde approach to a last man standing deathmatch made for one heck of a ride.
2. Rozen Maiden 2013
This anime has the least action, the least comedy, the slowest pacing and is probably the most mellow. Also it’s about dolls. Yet as you can see, it’s my number 2. Why? Because this remake of Rozen Maiden was an emotional journey that really touched me on a personal level, showing that some of the most relate-able stories can be told through very unlikely means. It technically occurs after the events of the first two seasons but follows the manga’s plot progression not the animes’, and all for the better too. Rozen Maiden 2013 is the story about how Jun Sakurada, the protagonist, chooses the ‘don’t wind’ option and how it affects his life in the future. In this anime, we’re given a look at his adult life and how, without the intervention of the dolls he would have met, he simply regresses back into the sad, lonely lifestyle he was forced into as a child. The anime focuses a lot on how Jun sees his self-worth and how the empty feeling inside him only gets worse even when things seem to be getting better.
Of course, the overarching plot involves the Rozen Maiden dolls fighting in the ‘Alice Game’, with each doll having their own motivations and goals. There’s even some very interesting interactions between the younger Jun who’s aware of the dolls (because he’s in the world where he chose ‘to wind’) and the older Jun who’s unsure of the whole thing. The plot really picks up towards the end too and the final confrontations is satisfying. It’s very hard to recommend this anime to anyone who hasn’t seen the original two seasons, and as emotionally charged as this anime is, the whole doll aspect is likely to be uninteresting for most people. However to me it was very well written, with beautiful music and visuals. Also, when the future Jun managed to awaken the doll Shinku, it was nothing short of magical.
1. Attack On Titan
While at first, I had my doubts even though I heard nothing but good things, and the first 3 episodes didn’t really do much for me (though they were powerfully dramatic and dynamic I will admit), I am so glad I decided to watch this anime. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Attack On Titan, aka Shingeki no Kyojin, arguably the most popular anime of last year. It is far from perfect but it is really, really good. Once AoT grips you, it won’t let go. Set in a world where humanity is forced to survive behind massive walls to run from colossal, grotesque giant monsters known as ‘Titans’, AoT starts off and largely remains as a bleak, despair-filled anime. However, this doesn’t stop it from being one of the most action packed experiences you’ll get to enjoy, cause the action is top-notch, high budget stuff that you won’t see anywhere else.
The story revolves around Eren Jaeger, an aspiring soldier who joins the military dedicated to fighting Titans, along with his childhood friends Armin and Mikasa, as well as many other characters with different backgrounds. This isn’t some gungho shonen anime that thrives off of predictable encounters; it’s got the Deadman Wonderland syndrome of ‘things can only get worse’, as the threat of the Titans is far beyond the effort that the humans put into fighting them. The fight scenes themselves are astounding; with the military using special equipment known as ‘3D Maneuver Gear’ that allows them to swing across rooftops like Spider-Man and attack with dual blades in a very stylish fashion. While the anime could easily let loose and be brainless action and fun explosions, its feet are firmly planted in the reality of human fear, uncertainty and ultimate despair, with each episode raising the stakes even as progress is made.
The anime undergoes several major plot twists down the line, one of which may deter some from watching the anime completely as it changes the whole dynamic of the anime altogether. Regardless, believe the hype. Attack On Titan is the genuine package; a powerful, action packed anime about survival and combating the human condition. It may not be perfect and it plays so many things close to the chest in order to not alienate any viewers, but in doing so it becomes one of the most welcoming viewing experiences despite its very violent and very dark content. Attack On Titan is the anime of 2013.
And that’s all!! Thanks for taking the time to read my list and I hope we share some of the same entries on this list. What are your favorite animes of 2013? Let me know in the comments section or on my Facebook or Twitter.