Looking back at the Spring 2013 anime season
It's time and past time for another one of these post-season looks back, to go with my early impressions. I didn't do a midterm view this season because, frankly, my anime viewing flagged a lot in the middle of this season (that's also why this retrospective is delayed).
For this season, in order:
- Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (2012): This is so good that
paradoxically I only watch it sporadically (partly because I spent
a bunch of the season hammered by my usual spring allergies). It
continues to be excellent. I don't really have anything coherent
to say about it apart from that.
Oh wait, yes I do: this is epic in an excellent way. This is (lovingly produced) space opera and I cannot help but love it for that.
- Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince: The show has gone from strength
to strength, having a heart and being quietly serious without losing
its goofy charm and weirdness. Chunks of the story are kind of silly
and over the top but MJP makes them work by taking them seriously but
not too seriously. I'm really enjoying it as it continues.
Let me summarize it this way: MJP paints in broad strokes and then quietly goes back to fill in little subtle details here and there.
- Valvrave the Liberator: The show spent most of the season
being utterly crazy, dipped into unpleasant territory at the end of the
infamous episode ten (see Evirus),
and in the end did manage to convince me to sort of care about some
of the characters. I've wound up looking forward to when it resumes
in the fall season.
(I actually think that this show is crazier than Aquarion EVOL, which is quite an accomplishment. In EVOL most of the stuff sort of makes sense within the context of the show, where Valvrave comes across as simply piling escalation on escalation.)
- To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S: I stalled on this for most of
the season (and I'm still behind). I've found this very erratic
because I'm not really interested in anything except the action
and action-related bits. The character interaction, goofing around,
and much of the angst isn't terribly exciting but the Mikoto fights
have been good. When the show focuses on action it's nice; when
people are standing around talking we get into the Railgun cycle.
Despite stalling out on it much more than I did on Gargantia, I'm more fond of Railgun S because I like it more on the whole. Our cast of characters continues to be great, I just wish that most of them had more substantial things to do with the story (as opposed to either being excluded entirely or nattering away on side things).
- Suisei no Gargantia: My feelings on Gargantia aren't amenable to
easy summaries. On the whole I think the show was emotionally satisfying
and well made at a technical level (some of the battle sequences were
great and the animation always felt decent). Unlike a lot of shows
it's willing to shut up and let things speak for themselves, which
lends it a certain air of subtlety; sadly, that air is misleading
because the overall plot often uses a sledgehammer. And while the show
is emotionally satisfying, any number of things don't actually make
much sense if you look at them at all closely. The plot sledgehammer
meant that I felt very unenthused about the low points of the show
(the latter parts of episode 9 through much of episode 11) and stalled
out on it for a significant amount of time.
(But those low bits are actually a great illustration of how it's hard to call this show: with a few exceptions, Ledo's emotional turmoil and ultimate decision was handled subtly and much more gracefully than, say, Mikoto's angst in Railgun S. The overall plot used a sledgehammer but the execution had a light touch.)
I believe that I've seen Gargantia called a well-executed collection of cliches designed to appeal to the fans. This is not a bad way to put it and goes well with how almost all of the female characters are designed to be (overly) fanservice-y. Unlike Evirus I have no desire to see more. This story is done and nothing about the show makes me interested in seeing the same sort of execution of any others.
I'm not convinced that Gargantia was ultimately worth my time. I don't really think I would have missed anything I'd regret much if I hadn't watched it and if I'm being honest I only finished it out of some sense of completeness given that people were saying that the last few episodes were quite good (which they mostly are).
- Hataraku Maou-sama!: I stalled out on this immediately after writing my early impressions for fuzzy reasons. I theoretically intend to try picking this up again because people praise it but I just haven't had the energy.
Excluding Yamato as a special case I genuinely enjoyed MJP and Valvrave and sort of slogged my way through Railgun S and Gargantia. At my low and slow points in the season I was watching only MJP and Valvrave; only after the end of the season am I catching up on the other two.
Written on 25 July 2013.