The Best Anime of 2013 Awards!

Yuyushiki

At long last, the time has finally come, once again, to celebrate this year’s top anime; let it be a celebration of creativity, of storytelling and of artistic talent. Buckle down and enjoy this wondrous ceremony!

Preface

With more anime than ever being produced these days, it’s become an arduous task navigating through piles of mediocrity in order to uncover the hidden gems within the rubble. For someone who is more interested in seeing directors, writers and animators push the medium to its limits, there was certainly plenty to be impressed with in 2013. As such, I’d like the winners of each respective category to represent what I felt were the best of the bunch.

A quick note before we begin: only the TV shows, OVAs and movies that started airing or were screened during 2013 are eligible. My rationale being that it’s difficult to take into account productions that have been running for years prior, or will continue on for quite some while as, frankly speaking, I just don’t have the time to follow them all. That means there’s a good chance many long-running shounens and kids’ shows will be excluded in the process, as well as a bunch of other seasonal titles I didn’t get around to watching. But I’ve tried, as much as possible, to assemble a list representing a diverse variety of popular works. I’m only human, as they say.

Anyway, without further to do, here are the individual categories and their winners!

 

Best Storytelling

In an age where narratives border on spoon-feeding the audience with clumsy exposition, the winner of this category is one that told a beautiful tale in an exemplary fashion.

Best Storytelling

 

Best Male Lead

All the girls want him, probably some of the guys as well; a man with a clever tongue, charisma and swagger. He’s just someone who the party desperately needed to avoid going out of fashion. And that lucky fellow is…

Best Male Lead

 

Best Female Lead

Amidst the countless illusions, there was one girl who stood at the center of two worlds, hand in hand with others. She had seized her reality.

Best Female Lead

 

Best Screenplay

Nobody likes seeing a bunch of talking heads spouting unnatural-sounding dialogue from a book. Anime is meant to have a strong cinematic language, meaning the winner of this category succeeded in playing to the strengths of the visual medium.

Best Screenplay

 

Best Intentional Comedy

Notice the intentional, as otherwise there would be far too many anime winning this category.

Best Intentional Comedy

 

Best Art Direction

The winner of this category deserves two Ikuharas with a side order of Angel’s Eggs.

Best Art Direction

 

Best Audio Direction

Writing about music is hard. If the beats go with the pictures and creates a flow, it’s all good man.

Best Audio Direction

 

Best Animation

I keep forgetting anime actually involves animation, since often times you see more movement frames during a Powerpoint presentation.

Best Animation

 

Biggest Pleasant Surprise

Not be confused with biggest surprise period, which automatically goes to Samurai Flamenco.

Best Pleasant Surprise

 

The Worst Anime of 2013

Just to balance things out, something needed to get roasted.

The Worst Anime of 2013

 

The Best Anime of 2013

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The best anime of 2013 goes to…

The Best Anime of 2013

 

In closing, this was certainly a pretty good year for anime, looking at some of the more successful titles anyway. As always, the combination of strong storytelling, technical proficiency and creative input defined what I felt represented the best works of this year. Hopefully people got a sense of the elements that I value in a good piece of media and found my choices to be interesting – even if they didn’t agree with all of them. Once again, feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section about this year, as I’d be happy to hear about them.

Yuyushiki

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19 responses to “The Best Anime of 2013 Awards!

  1. THAT KOTOURA FACE LOOKS KINDA FAMILIAR.

    And yeah, Uchouten was probably my favorite show too. Yuyushiki might be number 2. Still haven’t finished Kyousougiga or Monogatari though, but they’d probably rank high as well.

    Also, you need to watch Pupa for next year’s list : )

    • Yuyushiki was definitely up there for me as well, if it wasn’t already obvious enough from it being the runner up in a number of categories. There was just something very satisfying about watching a group of close friends goof around and google the most random of topics. Good stuff! Yukari is best girl.

      Ho boy, I suppose I will eventually have to check out the masterpiece that is often compared to the legendary Mars of Destruction at some point.

  2. So tell me Donny-chan, why DIDNT YOU like Kill la Kill or Shingeki no Kyojin? They were totals like AnimeOfTheEon, man.

    Jokes aside, I think I know the reasons for SnK, as I remember discussing something on irc along the lines of melodrama, rushed pacing, and in general a large amount of poorly executed/adapted scenes. However, I am curious about Killa kill-chan. I dropped it after like episode 5 due to its repetitive monster-of-the-week formula which you know I so adore 🙂 So yeah, does it get better? Is the “latter arc” vastly different from the former? etc.

    I should probably watch Uchoten Kazoku when I have the time. Also, all that Kaiki Deishu swag. Yes, you didn’t disappoint this time O Great Sensei.

    Stellio-chan’s Approved 100/10 (Vary kawaii!!!)

    • A lot of people are probably going to disagree with me on this one, but I felt Kill la Kill actually went downhill during its second half. The show was probably at its best when it was just attempting to be a silly MotW battle-shounen spoof. But Trigger ended up scrapping that around the halfway point to go for a “grander” scale plotline, which lead to mixed results in my view. Certain characters ended up doing massive heel-turns which contradicted their previous portrayals, the middle sections were filled with circular conflicts that only served to add some artificial tension, and worst of all, the staff made a ham-fisted attempt to throw in thematic “substance” for a product that had no solid foundation in that area. Not to mention I felt the show became too ridiculous for its own good, and tried too damn hard to act all self-aware – there’s also a limit to how long the same gags stay funny for, but I digress. I don’t really want to say too much more since you haven’t seen the rest of Kill la Kill, and there’s a chance you may not be bothered as much by this sort of stuff. A lot of audiences do love the show, as they feel it’s a “leave your brain out the equation” one, but I still felt it wasn’t successful at even achieving that.

  3. Jk I just realized there wasn’t any yuri 0/10

  4. Why must I harmonize with the lowest common denominator known as “Stellio” really blows my mind. For I was also thinking of the meticulous creativity and paradigm shift in art technique in 2013. A closer scrutiny would reveal the innovate use of the art style known as “speed lines”. “Speed Lines” as they are aptly named, are used usually to express speed, motion and movement. However, a highly acclaimed series has managed positively and creatively transform the use of “Speed Lines” such that they can also express emotion. The emotions of angst, guilt, despair, and shock were fantastically portrayed using “speed lines”. Of course, the anime that did this is SnK, which was not only a brilliantly innovative artistically but became the cultural phenomenon of the year 2013 in the animeverse, and beyond, bringing revolutionary change to even the mainstream scene. SnK even became a heated topic of discussion during the year-end concert where only the highest calibre of artists perform in an invitation-only standoff. *Add closing sentence subtly insulting DDK here*.

    P.S. It’s a pity our tastes didn’t harmonize very much in 2013. 2014 brings more Aikatsu, Precure and hopefully the Miniskirt Pirates movie to talk about in a year’s time!

    • In the defense of speedlines, I think there’s something that can be said about using them well to emphasize key moments via Dezaki-style still-frames – integrating them more into a show’s artstyle and visual narrative as a result. The problem with something like SnK was that it used the speedlines for EVERY SINGLE EVENT, irrespective of the gravity of the situation. Stabbing a titan mid-combat? Yay. An object dropping on the ground. Nay. There was just no respect for their placement, destroying the emphasis. (Yeah, I know you’re partly trolling me here, but I figured I might as well start a discussion since it’s an interesting topic :3).

      I think we also talked about Monogatari quite a bit last year, but may 2014 be a good one for chatting about low-budget, little-girl cartoons!

  5. where is the best comedy ?

    • Whoops, I knew I was forgetting something in my haste. I’ll have that section up later tonight, since 2013 did have quite a few good comedies.

      I’m basically Shaft; releasing unfinished stuff and only completing it at a later date. 😛

  6. I predicted what you’d pick for all of them right! except for Uchouten Kazoku as AOTY and Yozakura as best Animation. I’m pleasantly surprised though as I find those two most suitable too—especially glad there’s another Yozakura fan out there. Tatsunoko really amped up the quality of the scenes from the manga. On a pure animated standpoint (and maybe more generally visual due to its awesome saturated colors), Yozakura is really fun to watch.

    • Whoa, you must be Kotoura-san for predicting all those correctly (though I suppose they weren’t that hard to figure out for someone who already knew me)!

      Oddly enough, I ended up enjoying Yozakura Quartet a lot, even outside of a purely animated standpoint. The cast dynamics were pretty fun and there was plenty of tongue in cheek humour interspersed between the more serious moments, so it struck a good balance there. I also felt the show was pretty honest about what it was (unlike Kill la Kill), and I didn’t find stuff like the totally-subtle pantyshots and fanservice to be that intrusive for the most part. Overall, fun show.

      Also, if you don’t mind me asking, I noticed you rated Monogatari Series Second Season lower than Bakemonogatari (and Nekomonogatari), and was wondering what your rationale was for that. Most people seem to prefer Second Season for its stronger storyline, but I felt the entire production and composition was just kind of off – both of which are essential components to the Monogatari franchise’s narrative. Curious to hear what you have to say.

  7. Liking all the Kyousougiga mentions, definitely a slept-on masterpiece. And YQ for best animation shouldn’t be up for debate. Even though I liked Hoshi no Umi more, they really outdid themselves in Hana no Uta.

    • Thanks! Glad you appreciated Kyousougiga as well as there wasn’t anything else quite like it during this year’s line-up!

      Hoshi no Umi probably has some of the best action sequences in Yozakura Quartet, though I feel Hana no Uta has more of a refined touch (so to speak) with the animation. Not to mention having more episodes allowed the events and eccentric personalities of the cast to unfold in a smoother manner, but I definitely enjoyed both!

  8. Oh yes, the speedlines were overused and spammed as much as the text and colour spam of Monogatari S2. Both went “slightly” overboard. (Basically, this trolling was just to highlight the lack of mention of SnK which must have been the best-known anime of 2013.)

    Best comedy we watched in 2013 surely has to be Suite Precure; sadly this was not produced in 2013.

  9. I liked that too about Yozakura. Shounen antics aside, the communal theme is so well done and the character relationships just feel really authentic.

    As a quick summary about S2, I would say that the freshness of the art just wasn’t there like in Bakemonogatari, and the outlandish appeal never so much existent since toothbrushes, groping, and soft porn in Incestmonogatari. That, and the episodic arcs in S2 weren’t quite as cohesive as it should have been; a few stories like Nadeko’s and Shinobu’s only seemed to appear for the sake of them needing to appear. They simply were not very interesting to watch. In that respect, I actually think S2 had the weakest storyline(s).

    • I found the cohesiveness of story arcs a bit lacking in S2 as well – though this may have been in part due to the standalone nature of each individual novel as opposed to Bakemonogatari being a collection of short stories. That was one aspect I’d have to give Bake credit for, as it was neat seeing characters from previous arcs play smaller roles in successive ones (ie. Kanbaru appearing during Nadeko’s arc; Hanekawa having small cameos throughout that foreshadowed her own conflict really nicely). Overall, it lead to an overarching thematic narrative that I desperately missed in S2.

      I think Shaft may have been a bit too ambitious as well, trying to adapt (6) novels into a 25 episode season; the end result being many of them feeling rushed and one (Hanamonogatari) being relegated to a special. There’s also the issue of many staff members and animators having left the studio since Bake, so in many ways, the Shaftgatari series have become shadows of their former selves.

  10. 🙂 thanks

  11. Ultimately this was a nice well-rounded list. Generally I wouldn’t put Kill La Kill or any continuing show that was continuing past 2014 since I really don’t like judging a show that’s only half-way done, even though it’s become one of my top 5 anime. I hope we can have the time to discuss it in-depth if you have the time.

    Nevertheless, while there were some shows missing that I hoped would at least be mentioned (No Coppelion on Worst of 2013, WTF?), it was a pretty nice list. I don’t envy you of how much time it took you to write all of this over the course of 5 months.

    • Don Don Kun

      Thanks! I tried as much as possible to assemble a well-rounded list and was afraid people would feel I was missing too much.

      I agree that shows continuing past 2014 shouldn’t be judged, but I made an exception for those that started airing in fall 2013 that would finish by winter 2014. Just for the record, I took into account both halves for shows like Samurai Flamenco and Kill la Kill, which is why I waited till they finished airing before I started putting together this list.

      Haha, it’s probably best if I don’t mention how much time I spent writing this entire post. :3