Looking back at the Winter 2013 anime season

April 14, 2013

It's time (and past time) for another look back at another season, following up on my early impressions and my midway views. In fact this is kind of a retrospective on two seasons, since so many of the Fall 2012 shows continued into this season; as such I'm splitting into two parts, one for a handful of this season's shows and the other for the big four heavyweights from last season.

For this season, in order:

  • Sasami-san@Ganbaranai: This was the clear success of the season for me, delivering entertainment and surprise turns right up to the final episode. I quite enjoyed it, including all its references to Japanese mythology and vague randomness.

  • Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo: This delivered exactly the popcorn entertainment that I wanted from it. I've got nothing to say about it that I didn't cover in my midway views.

  • Yama no Susume: What this show really is is another 'cute girls doing cute things' show, just with a different framing premise and a certain amount of geekery about mountaineering equipment. I misled myself about its real nature based on the early episodes and then felt let down by the later ones (which is not the show's fault). On the whole it was okay but I'm left with no more than vague feelings of affection for it.

    (If I'd known at the start what I know now, I'm not certain that I'd have watched it at all. If you're going to, it's probably best watched all in one batch.)

  • Vividred Operation: There are shows that are actively bad and then there are shows that are just empty somehow. VO is the latter; it goes through the motions but nothing ever really engaged. Despite what I wrote in my midway views, I watched all of it for no clear reason (perhaps partly stubbornness). For more, see Evirus's lovely summary of the show in his season wrapup (he is more charitable than I am).

    Given VO's excessive levels of fanservice and general emptiness, I think that people should give it a miss. If you want to watch something with this level of twitch-inducing fanservice, my understanding is that Strike Witches is actually much more interesting and emotionally involving. See also my early impressions.

In the end I tacitly dropped Hakkenden Touhou Hakken Ibun because I just felt no particular urge to watch any more. This is less a commentary on the show than a commentary on me; my understanding is that it was actually decently good, and it's getting a second season later on.

The fall shows, in order:

  • Shin Sekai Yori: I wrote about it at some length but the short version is that I love it and think it's a great show. It is the best show from both this season and last season and it had the best ending. See also my Fall 2012 retrospective.

  • Girls und Panzer: The delayed last two episodes totally delivered on the promise of the first ten episodes. They were a satisfying and exciting sports action capstone on an excellent and fun show. All I can possibly really say is PANZER VOR!

  • Psycho-Pass: The show is far from perfect (for a start, it's far too much in love with violence to women) but after a terrible start it managed to turn itself into a pretty good show by dint of trying hard and having Akane. I've already written a bunch of words on Sibyl and on the ending so I don't have anything else to say here.

  • Zetsuen no Tempest: This was an excellent show pretty much from start to end, almost without a fumble or a misstep (the bait and switch at the end of the second last episode costs it style points). It lacks the power (and the brutality) of Psycho-Pass, which is why I'm reluctantly ranking it below PP; I suspect that people will remember and talk about PP much longer than they will ZnT.

    (One problem for ZnT is that Aika is clearly the best character and she's dead for the entire show. Not that the other characters are bad, several of them are great, but they can't measure up to Aika.)

If I look only at the Winter 2013 shows, this was a good but not great season. If I throw in the four powerhouses that started in the fall, this is a stunningly excellent season, one that I have no complaints about at all.

Written on 14 April 2013.
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Last modified: Sun Apr 14 23:23:57 2013
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