The Ninjabot

The Top 5 Anime of 2013: Punching Titans

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 6:00 am by Victor Chaves

In recent years, there hasn’t been much of anything interesting or original coming out of Japan concerning anime. It seems like the majority are school dramas with scantily girls, or Dragon Ball Z knockoffs full of power ups and screaming. It’s so much that they’re bad, necessarily, but Japanese animation needs something more original, and 2013 finally came along and delivered. Naturally, I haven’t seen every single anime that came out this year—if I did, I doubt I’d have time for anything else—but I do know Kill la Kill and Yowamushi Pedal are two of the standouts this season, although I haven’t had a chance to view them yet. For now though, here are my top 5 anime of 2013.

Honorable Mention: Space Brothers

spacebrothers

Space Brothers originally started in 2012, but is still running, so I feel this at least deserves a mention. Mutta Nanba, after being fired from his job, takes part in training to become an astronaut. The show also follows Hibito Nanba, Mutta’s brother, as he becomes the first Japanese astronaut on the Moon. The core of Space Brothers is its heart as you root for the likable Mutta to overcome the trials and obstacles to becoming an astronaut. What makes him so endearing is not only his ability, but his consideration for others, which makes him a character that you can’t help but root for. Of course, he’s not a perfect person—he often has uncharitable thoughts towards, including jealousy—but Mutta strives to become the perfect astronaut, and that struggle really makes him endearing. Look forward to a longer review coming soon!

Space Brothers is available to view on Crunchyroll.

#5: Kotoura-san

kotourasan

Kotoura-san is a great drama/comedy about a girl, Kotoura, who can’t control her mind-reading abilities. As a result, she has a terrible relationship with her parents and schoolmates since they all hate her for knowing their deepest thoughts. This changes when she joins a club about Extra-Sensory Perception, finally becoming part of a group that don’t consider her an abomination.

What Kotoura-san brings is a great story about how power can become a curse. The first ten minutes will break you down, exposing the deep sadness that Kotoura feels by being forced to know everyone’s thoughts. On the flip-side, the show also has many light comedic themes as well. Although the perverted jokes it offers can make a statue’s eyes roll, others are genuinely funny with characters that are really well-emoted. This is great because when the show gets heavy, the light attempts at comedy balance out the show.

Kotoura-san is available to view on Crunchyroll.

#4: Servant x Service

sxs

Servant x Service has a stupid name, but an original premise. It follows a few government office workers and their odd interactions, somewhat reminiscent of the American version of The Office, although the comedy dial is turned down from a nine to a seven so as to be a bit more realistic (as realistic as a man speaking through a robot rabbit can be). The heart of the show is the workers themselves, each of which has a quirk that gives them a unique personality. What truly sets them apart, though, is how the show includes these quirks to flesh out entire situations. By combining their interpersonal details in the way that the characters interact with each other, the stories feel much more satisfying and give us a deeper glimpse into their world.

Servant x Service is available to view on Crunchyroll.

#3: Watamote

watamote

I don’t know what genre Watamote is (shortened from the Japanese title which translates to: No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!). Sites list it as a comedic slice-of-life, but I actually find it too dark for that categorization. Tomoko is an extremely unpopular, introverted girl who loves nerdy things, but has an ugly personality. As a result, she often gets herself into crazy situations that are just desperate attempts to become more likable.

The point of this show is to laugh at Tomoko’s misfortunes and inability to become more popular in her high school. Depending on how relatable you find her, though, you may find yourself cringing more often than not. Tomoko is never honest with herself, often self-aggrandizing, but never meets those self-imposed expectations. She sometimes claims to have boyfriends, and acts crass towards the one friend she has in order to show how experienced she is—but the truth is that she’s the most naive person in the room. Although I didn’t live a hyperbolic life like Tomoko’s, I was able to empathize with her on several levels. It may hit home hard for some viewers, or you may completely hate it, but give it a shot. No show since Welcome to the NHK has turned the mirror on otaku and nerds as well as Watamote does.

Watamote is available to view on Crunchyroll.

#2: Hajime no Ippo: Rising

ippo

This is the third show in the popular boxing series Hajime no Ippo (or Fighting Spirit as it’s called in America) that started in October of 2000. Ippo, a student whose constantly bullied, joins a boxing gym to become stronger and better able to defend himself. Based off on a 1989 comic that’s still running today, the show is also as strong as ever.

Although the season isn’t completely over yet, I can already suggest it as a must-see show of 2013 based on what I’ve seen. Hajime no Ippo is the king of sports anime, and for good reason. Ippo and his gym mates are beyond entertaining, drawing the viewer in so that you become incredibly attached to each personality. Ippo’s opponents are humanized thoroughly, so much so that you actually feel bad when they lose. Even the fighters that are downright evil have a history that treats them as humans rather than uninspired antagonists who are evil for the sake of being evil. Bonus points—soundtrack is nearly perfect, and each time the opening theme starts, I already feel myself getting pumped and ready to root for the little guy. Definitely a must watch!

Hajime no Ippo Rising is available to view on Crunchyroll. New Challenger is as well, but the original show is now unlicensed and very hard to find legally.

#1: Attack on Titan

attackontitan

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) is without a doubt, the most talked about show this year. A world where humanity is on the brink of extinction and giant humanoids hunt and eat the ones remaining is an incredible premise with an awesome execution. The less said about the story, the better, as it MUST be experienced spoiler-free.

It’s rare that a show has me white-knuckling it until the credits roll, each episode making me feel as though I’m awaking from a trance at the very end. Attack on Titan has world-building mastered, doling just enough information that you never feel impatient, but also allowing the mystery to unfold in good time. The slow build of each character’s background and personality also shows us how they learn from each experience, and how the traumatic battles that they participate in change them from encounter to encounter. Some complain that the show is slow-paced, and I can agree that it does like to hit the brakes and mash the accelerator; however, I found that the incredible action and awesome payoffs are enough to make this my best show for 2013.

Attack on Titan is available to view on Crunchyroll.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen every show this year, but I am always willing to take suggestions. Kill la Kill would have definitely made the list, but at the time of writing, I hadn’t gotten more than three episodes in. For now, I’ll leave you with what I feel is the best anime opening of the year, Attack on Titan‘s 2nd opening, “Jiyuu no Tsubasa” by Linked Horizon.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to keep up on his sandwiches.

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