Looking back at the Summer 2013 anime season
With both the season and my watching of it basically wrapped up, it's time for another one of my now customary post-season looks back (as before) to go with my early impressions and my midway views. As has become typical, not much has changed from the latter.
Shows from this season that I've finished, in order (with a big gap between second and third):
- Uchouten Kazoku (aka Eccentric Family): As mentioned before, this
pushes a bunch of my storytelling and urban fantasy buttons so I can't
be objective about it. With that said, I loved it; I found it lovely,
and very well done. Its last episode is the best finish of the season, concluding
just as the show should have (and with some nice subtle bits). Overall it
was a glorious ride right from the first moments of the first episode
(and beautifully animated to boot, cf).
Although this story of tanuki, tengu, and humans in Kyoto is done, I'd be happy to watch another turn of the wheel in another season.
- Gatchaman Crowds: This isn't flawless but it is excellent; I rank
it just below UK only because UK pushes more of my particular
buttons. I've seen people characterize the ending as being
thematically satisfying but not dramatically satisfying,
which strikes me as a fair way of putting it; we get the right
ending for the show but not one that involves great big dramatic
things going on for us to watch (and it's at best ambivalent about
the fate of one character and obscure about another). All of the
characters were great and Berge-Katze is a magnificent villain.
(See here for some very interesting analysis of the visuals in the final episode. Spoilers, obviously.)
- Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya: This featured good initial magical
girl fights that came to a peak in the gloriously epic second half of
episode six. Unfortunately that was the show's high point; it never
again equaled either the action or the interest of those early episodes
or especially of episode six, to the point where everything from then on
was decidedly ordinary. Had I stopped after episode six I wouldn't have
missed anything particularly compelling.
Unless you're fond of the Fate-verse or really like fairly cliched fighting magical girls in general, I'm tempted to suggest that you just find the fight from the second half of episode six on Youtube and watch it. That's the only really impressive bit. The first Nanoha movie covers the overall genre better and more enjoyably.
I theoretically plan to restart watching Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen at some point but I still haven't watched an episode since my midway views so I may be rather optimistic here (or too stubborn to admit that I'm not interested in a show that people praise as quite good). Regardless of why I'm still stalled, I'm not going to hold up this retrospective to see if I do watch more.
- Space Battleship Yamato 2199: It's great (although not flawless).
I don't have anything coherent to say about it except that if I was
pressed I would probably rank it as the second best show I watched this
season (narrowly ahead of Crowds but behind Eccentric Family). It's
not so much cliched as it is archetypal.
- Monogatari Series Second Season: If I was a smart person I would stop watching this. The charm has long since worn off and I'm mostly watching through inertia. If I was a grumpy person I would say that it spends too long doing too little because it's too busy being clever.
Shows carried over from the spring:
- Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince: Given my general views on mecha
series I don't think I can fairly evaluate this.
I quite liked it and found it good but I suspect that I won't really
find it a show for the ages (if that makes sense). It did a very good
job of balancing comedy and drama and touching my heart without losing
its overall tone of goofyness and fun. People who love mecha may well
have a stronger reaction to MJP.
- To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S: I watched enough episodes to see Touma
punch out Accelerator and then stopped. Allegedly the remaining
episodes actually have action and an actual plot (and feature the
other characters), but I'm not sure I have enough interest to actually
Contrary to what some people have said, I prefer the first season of Railgun. Railgun S dragged on too much through the Sisters arc and had too little of Mikoto's friends and too much of Touma. However emotional the Sisters arc is, this was always its fundamental problem; in a series theoretically about Mikoto the climax is all about Touma being a hero. To make it worse the show dragged on Touma's part of the fight extensively.
Overall I rate this season as exceptional. Ignoring Yamato 2199 for various reasons, we had two shows that are basically certain to make my 'best N of 2013' list and a strong finish to a good third show (MJP). One of UK or Crowds all by itself would have made a good season; two make it great.
(For now I am going to pass on whether this season is better than Winter 2013. That I can even suggest that with a straight face says how strong this season has been.)