Welcome to The Cart Driver’s 2013 anime of the year awards and top 10. The rules are pretty simple. This is a cobbled together list of our favourite anime plus a bunch of arbitrary awards for whatever categories we could come up with. There’s not attempt to be objective (except for the Best Butts category which is simple fact), we just gunned for our personal favourites. Any anime that finished in 2013 was eligible. For arguments sake we’re not including Girls und Panzer because only 2 episodes from its 12 episode run aired this year and we gave it its props in last year’s post anyway.
Right with that out of the way, let’s get started.
#10: Psycho Pass
Psycho Pass is so cyberpunk they basically gave you a reading list in the show, saying “if you like this then you should probably read the works of Philip K Dick and George Orwell”. It’s a world where your mind is read by a system called Sibyl that can tell what it is you’re best at, how calm and composed you are, and how likely you are to commit crime. From there it tells its story of the importance of personal choice through this gritty futuristic police thriller. It has its issues, especially with some of the plot twists occurring with too little explanation making it feel like they were pulled out of their ass, but if you want more anime like Stand Alone Complex then this is it. And if you wanted the next great thing by Gen Urobuchi then this is certainly better than fucking Gargantia.
2013’s 2014 anime of the year
This award was created to shut up the people who will inevitably go “durrrrr where Kill la Kill you guys are idiots”. Not all the anime that started this year have ended yet, so this award is for those that are impressing us but we can’t include in our top 10 until next year. So congratulations Kill la Kill and congratulations Imaishi for giving us this completely and utterly ridiculous throwback to terrible Go Nagai cartoons. Except Kill la Kill is good, otherwise we wouldn’t be giving it this award.
#9: Non Non Biyori
For being relatively prolific, it’s rare for a slice of life series to be executed to near perfection. It isn’t easy to quantify just what makes for a good s’life show, but Non Non Biyori just clicks in a way that very few shows have. Ultimately, I think it’s because it’s just not very overbearing, serving as a great example of smooth character progression that goes down easily, like a perfect cup of tea. By having the characters’ actions impact a world decidedly smaller than that of a city, their personalities shine through a bit more. As a result, Non Non Biyori doesn’t have to resort to goofy eccentricities to make its cast stand out from the s’life crowd. This is not a show that needs to color-code its characters to make them remarkable; they do that on their own. Just watch the damn show, since I suck at explaining it.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Makoto Shinkai. There’s something fetishistic about his approach to making characters care deeply for each other, before yanking them apart and showing them looking back on the best time of their life with their one true love. Garden of Words doesn’t exactly buck the trend, but it’s a step in the right direction that depicts its leads as independent human beings that just happen to find something that they need in each other. They aren’t driven by the film’s need for a relationship, instead letting their personal lives from one naturally. It’s a sappy film, but it isn’t sappy for the sap’s sake, which goes a long way.
#8: Attack on Titan
2013 was the year of Attack on Titan. In terms of mass market appeal Titan has been the one new thing since the start of this decade that is really starting to see penetration into wider popular culture. It’s fairly easy to see why too. Attack on Titan has that same summer blockbuster appeal that has the dramatic tension and thrilling fight sequences that make it a true crowd-pleaser, while also having an engaging story behind the action. There is probably someone reading this post right now for whom Attack on Titan was their gateway drug and others for whom it was the only anime they saw this year. So for those people who are perhaps angry that it isn’t higher, don’t be upset. Just think, there are 7 anime this year that are even better than Attack on Titan. That’s pretty awesome.
Best single episode anime
Calling this the best OVA doesn’t really cut it. Who releases single episode anime on a video anymore anyway? This is an attempt to encapsulate all single episode anime from various different platforms, be it online or video or TV, and give the one we consider to be the best a totally arbitrary award. The best one we have decided is the Draco Malfoy turned back of the hand laughing ojou-sama Little Witch Academia. It look gorgeous, tells a well-crafted story, and thanks to generous western fandom we’ll be getting even more of it. Take that Japan! Actually wait don’t take that Japan come back keep making cartoons I’m sorry I made you mad.
#7: From the New World
Quite the polarizing series, particularly the first half where the story slowly lays out everything that becomes important and explodes in the second half. Its central conflict — the elite class of human psychics vs. the beaten-down beats of the world — unfolds in a fascinating setting that is twisted and terrifying in a way that really sticks long after the show concludes. From the New World also takes lots of chances with both the story and its visual style that put off many people, but also gives the series a more distinct feel. And that ending? Damn, that ending. Never forget Squealer, people. Never forget.
Best Bad Anime
Second year in a row! Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music… magic’s so strong that it even compels those who haven’t seen it to vote it the winner of an arbitrary award. In all seriousness, there’s something enchanting about the lengths that Symphogear goes to be notably bad. For its many faults, intentional or no, Symphogear is one of the most aggressively fun properties around. This is the kind of show where millions trek to important landmarks to weep in awe at televised idol performances, and where everybody really fucking hates the moon for some reason. The overarching plot is virtually impenetrable, and angst is routinely conjured from the ether, but writing isn’t what we’re here for. No, we’re here for the Megadeath Party. For Rocky montages set to atonal singing. For Dr. Ver’s increasingly stupid expressions. For justice.
Kyosogiga is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful in a way even Little Witch Academia can’t match. There’s colour bursting from every scene with Koto swinging her transparent polka dot hammer through magical Kyoto as teacups float through the air behind her. It’s a work of tremendous vision and imagination with true heart behind its story of family and longing. It’s a breakout success by Rie Matsumoto and we really can’t wait to see what else she makes next. I only hope for two things. Firstly, that she’s not dragged back to making Precure over and over again by the demonic overlords at Toei. And secondly that she makes her next anime a little easier to follow. Please?
Goddamn Gargantia on the Verdous Planet. At least when something like Maou-sama falls apart after a strong opening, that strong opening was unexpected in of itself. But when something comes in as exciting looking as Gargantia did with as much talent behind it and as gorgeous looking as it was, and then goes out to produce possibly the best first episode of the season, you’ll have to forgive us for getting really excited for that. But nope, Gargantia ended up turning into 2013’s Fractale, and that’s not a title I use lightly. A mish-mash of ideas with no direction and completely muddled themes that made it feel like the writers weren’t talking to each other. It’s a long way off being the worst anime of the year, but it gets The Cart Driver’s award for the most disappointing.
#5: Silver Spoon
Silver Spoon is a remarkable series. It’s grounded in important life lessons, but it imparts its wisdom with warmth and humor. The show never feels didactic. When protagonist Hachiken names a pig and builds a personal attachment toward it, the result of that storyline isn’t cloying and obvious. Instead, it feels real and builds off the direction and sense of self Hachiken has gained by attending this agricultural school. But it’s not all serious. Silver Spoon is also uproariously funny, with a good helping of surprisingly dark humor. Try to watch the scene where a deer is run over, and the aftermath of that, and try not to laugh. Go ahead. Try.
Wanna Be the Strongest in the World is utter garbage. Focusing so much on close-up crotch shots and borderline torture is already enough to make the show super lame. It at least has the novelty of being a pro wrestling anime to fall back on, right? Well, its areas of interest make that aspect of the series a boring slog. Let’s put it this way: If any company regularly put on the matches you see in Wanna Be the Strongest in the World, it would be out of business in a hurry. Submission holds for minutes on end are just not exciting to watch at all. A collective groan could practically be heard when Sakura would get locked into the Camel Clutch YET AGAIN. And when the matches would actually bother to have other moves integrated into them, they would be done with no rhyme or reason and drawn at confusing angles. Really, the necks of every wrestler in this anime should be hanging by a thread given how many times they’re slammed awkwardly onto the mat. So Wanna Be the Strongest in the World has the distinction of being boring AND uncomfortable. Great work!
#4: Monogatari Series Second Season
To watch Monogatari Series Second Season, you first have to watch Bakemonogatari. Except you should possibly watch Nekomonogatari first, or possibly watch Nekomonogatari after you watch Nisemonogatari. And even then parts of them won’t make sense without watching Kizumonogatari which hasn’t even been made yet. Then you will be able to watch Monogatari Series Second Season. The best Monogatari season. The season that managed to make every previously boring character interesting. The season that had each arc end in a genuinely satisfying manner. The arc that showed a slow maturation of the Monogatari Shaft aesthetic. The arc that had a criminally low amount of Senjogahara, but let’s not hold that against this wonderfully unique anime.
During some of the earlier arcs of From the New World, people criticised the treks through the queerat battles. They seemed inconsequential and bogged down the story of the main characters. That, along with many other reasons, is why the ending for From the New World is so brilliant. It justifies all the decisions that were made previously in the show and uses so much otherwise token side dialogue to feature into this fantastic climactic conflict. It ended with the most eye-catching trial scene and revealed something drastic about the world that flipped your view of everything. It was the perfect ending that shot From the New World much higher up this list than it would have otherwise achieved.
#3: Space Battleship Yamato 2199
From top to bottom, Yamato 2199 may be the best crafted anime of the year. The plot is incredibly tight; everything moves at just the right pace, and it rarely feels as if the series is wasting time. The art and animation are consistently fantastic, with the one tiny weakness being the occasionally blocky CG. Despite that, the space battles are always thrilling and tense. The cast is one of the best of the year, if not the best, and the emotional battles on both sides are engaging and solidly nuanced. This just feels like an anime where a ton of people who knew exactly what they’re doing had a distinct vision and executed on it with a proper amount of polish.
This was a difficult award to hand out because there were many viable contenders and we had to pinpoint what it was we wanted to celebrate with this most important of awards. Jojo’s may have had plenty of naked sculpted man butt, but they weren’t very shapely. Vividred would win most butts but we here at The Cart Driver prefer quality of quantity. So this award could only go to none other than Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Each lady in that show may have had the exact same butt, however it was a beautiful butt that deserves to be celebrated in these awards.
Watamote is difficult to watch. On the one hand there’s the sheer levels of cringe humour on display that means you’ll be watching large chunks of the show through gaps in your fingers, curled in a ball muttering “no no no don’t do that”. The other part that watching Tomoko is physically painful because you desperately want her to succeed but you know she can’t while she’s in the mindset she occupies. So many anime about otaku paint them as lovable nerds with plenty of buddies. Watamote is about the dangerous extremes our delusions driven by what our escapist entertainment tells us and the painful reality of your social anxiety that you’ve run to your entertainment to get away from. It’s also really funny and an absolutely brilliant anime that you need to watch, but it is painful.
2013 was the year of the shorts. I haven’t counted but there were roughly a hundred million billion anime with episodes lasting 5 minutes each airing in Japan at any one time. Almost all of them were cheaply animated and put together with about a week’s work, not counting evenings and weekends, so in honour of that we will give this award to the anime that evidently took the least effort and least amount of work: Inferno Cop. Where every voice sample took one take. Where every character had a single frame of animation. Where the story was made up on the spot. Inferno Cop shows you that if you’re going to make something cheap and stupid, then make it as cheaply and as stupid as you possibly can, because at least that way you will be genuinely funny.
#1: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
What can we say that we haven’t already repeated a million times? JoJo is utter madness, a gleeful battle series where a trickster with martial arts sun powers throws down with nearly-naked, ascended vampires named after 70s and 80s rock bands. One of the show’s mentor figures is an Italian who punches frogs and battles without spilling the glass of wine he always holds. At one point, there’s a fight in the Colosseum where a horde of vampires cheer for their master like rowdy, drunken football fans. (“WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!”) It’s all so goofy, but done with such confidence and a flair for the ridiculous that it’s always entertaining. Only someone who hates fun could possibly dislike JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
User Choice Awards
Best anime series that ended in 2013 (choose 3)
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (29%, 194 Votes)
- Psycho-Pass (27%, 176 Votes)
- From the New World (25%, 169 Votes)
- Attack on Titan (23%, 151 Votes)
- Kyosogiga (15%, 100 Votes)
- Eccentric Family (13%, 83 Votes)
- Monogatari Series Second Season (12%, 80 Votes)
- Chihayafuru 2 (9%, 59 Votes)
- Flowers of Evil (9%, 57 Votes)
- Silver Spoon (8%, 53 Votes)
- Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (7%, 49 Votes)
- No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Unpopular (7%, 49 Votes)
- Gatchaman Crowds (6%, 43 Votes)
- Inferno Cop (6%, 43 Votes)
- Other not mentioned here (6%, 38 Votes)
- Zetsuen no Tempest (5%, 35 Votes)
- My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (5%, 33 Votes)
- Free (5%, 32 Votes)
- Hataraku Maou-sama! (5%, 30 Votes)
- Valvrave the Liberator (3%, 22 Votes)
- Non Non Biyori (3%, 19 Votes)
- White Album 2 (3%, 18 Votes)
- Fairy Tail (3%, 17 Votes)
- Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (2%, 16 Votes)
- Servant X Service (2%, 15 Votes)
- Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... (2%, 14 Votes)
- A Certain Scientific Railgun S (2%, 13 Votes)
- The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (2%, 13 Votes)
- Yuyushiki (2%, 11 Votes)
- Polar Bear Cafe (2%, 10 Votes)
- Beyond the Boundary (2%, 10 Votes)
- Majestic Prince (2%, 10 Votes)
- Love Lab (1%, 9 Votes)
- Little Busters Refrain (1%, 8 Votes)
- GJ-Bu (1%, 8 Votes)
- My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute 2 (1%, 8 Votes)
- Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta (1%, 7 Votes)
- Ixion Saga DT (1%, 7 Votes)
- My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy (1%, 7 Votes)
- AKB0048 Next Stage (1%, 6 Votes)
- Tamako Market (1%, 6 Votes)
- Genshiken Nidaime (1%, 5 Votes)
- Outbreak Company (1%, 5 Votes)
- Blood Lad (1%, 5 Votes)
- Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (1%, 5 Votes)
- The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat (1%, 4 Votes)
- Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya (1%, 4 Votes)
- Kiniro Mosaic (1%, 4 Votes)
- Rozen Maiden 2013 (1%, 4 Votes)
- Kotoura-san (1%, 4 Votes)
- Arpeggio of Blue Steel (0%, 3 Votes)
- Little Busters (0%, 3 Votes)
- Sunday Without God (0%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 664
Hey at least this year the writers and readers agreed on the best anime, unlike last year where you lot voted for Fate/Zero and we didn’t even place it in our top 10.