Looking back at the Summer 2013 anime season

September 30, 2013

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, affecting, 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 Zur├╝ckspulen 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.

Still running:

  • 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.

    (See also.)

  • 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 watch them.

    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.)

Written on 30 September 2013.
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Last modified: Mon Sep 30 21:08:26 2013
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