10 is usually an arbitrary number chosen for these lists because it’s a nice round number. However when I went back through 2013 and took all the anime I would actually recommend people watch, I only came up with these 10. The remaining few I watched and liked came with too many big caveats to happily recommend. Kyosogiga (barely understood what was going on most of the time), Genshiken Nidaime (only really liked the HatoXMadrame scenes), Servant X Service (ultimately total fluff) and Death Billiards (vague endings for the sake of being vague annoy me a lot) were the only other anime from this year I enjoyed.
That said, those anime that did make this top 10 are fantastic, particularly from 8 onwards. 2013 was a little thin on the ground when it came to anime, but those that were good were really good. I think I might personally prefer it this way. Give me one great over 3 decent anime every time.
10: Little Witch Academia
There’s always one standout piece from the Young Animator Training Project (now called Anime Mirai). First year it was Ojisan no Lamp. Second year it was Wasurenagumo. 2013 had Little Witch Academia. There’s not a whole lot to it, being a pretty classic children-y sort of story. But it’s wonderfully crafted, probably the best animated thing all year, and made Draco Malfoy into a back-of-the-hand-laughing ojousama. That last piece is probably what pushed it onto this list.
9: Inferno Cop
If Inferno Cop was just A Thing On The Internet, I don’t think I’d like it as much as I do. The fact that Trigger, the studio with massive hype behind its inception, came out with this as their first product made it just so funny. My running theory is that Inferno Cop was made so the studio could get an idea of what the production process was like. I love the idea that one bloke just did all the voice acting, holding up cutouts of the character designs and making up some totally nonsense story as he went along. The ‘bulletproof’ gag from episode 2 is possibly the hardest I laughed all year.
8: Silver Spoon
I feel a little weird putting Silver Spoon on here because it’s not technically over yet. It’s one of those split cours shows where they take a 3 month break between seasons, so technically I should be putting it in the same category as stuff like Kill la Kill that aren’t over yet. What makes me comfortable about giving it some props now is how clearly they intended this first season to be something that worked on its own. The story with Pork Bowl had a shockingly mature and nuanced approached to coming to terms with your food being a cute little animal once. It’s a goofy show with many silly aspects, such as Duel-Wielding Pizzas, but the amount of depth they packed into the story went far beyond my expectations and managed to wrap it up brilliantly.
7: From the New World
I really, really hope A-1 Pictures make more anime like From the New World, although given how poorly it did I guess that’s unlikely. It’s hugely creative and packed with fascinating directorial touches. The horror sequences when there’s a murderous psychic whom we’ve only heard about in legends is chasing them. The fascinating world and infodump early on that revealed how fucked up and interesting this sci-fi world was. The entire character arc of Squealer and how devious that hero got towards the end. From the New World has some major flaws, particular with all the main human characters being boring as hell, but the ending reveals that there was a singular vision for this story that really came together and made it completely worthwhile.
6: Space Battleship Yamato 2199
Yamato 2199 doesn’t necessarily excel in the little details. You can hardly call the writing great when so much of it is so hammy, but I love that hammy dialogue. I love that you can get so invested in this quest the heroes have that you can take it all at face value. Characters final dying words will be about how they always believed you were an alien and hand over the absurdly designed laser gun and you will be totally wrapped up in it all. So long as you can allow yourself become absorbed up in the series, you’ll see all the great character development and shades of grey its story has to offer.
5: Monogatari Series Second Season
Needed more Senjogahara. Otherwise this was the best season of Monogatari to date by a long shot. What it really excelled at was fixing problems that I’ve come to expect from Monogatari. The Worst Girls were all suddenly super fascinating characters. Each story arc no longer ended on weird anticlimaxes and instead wrapped up excellently. It flipped narrators with each arc which really helped make the characters feel like more complete people rather than a specific fetish they were in previous seasons. It’s otherwise still the same show. It still defies standard storytelling procedure with its winding nonsensical dialogue and post-modern approach to set design, so much so that I still find it difficult to explain why this works where everything else in a similar vein is so miserable. Probably because there still is nothing quite like it. Still needed more Senjogahara though.
4: Psycho Pass
With the exception of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, anime doesn’t really do cyberpunk anymore. Not a huge loss since most of those old cyberpunk OVAs were crap. What makes Psycho Pass so much better than them is its focus is on the real meat of what makes the genre interesting. How technological advances can have severe impacts on society. Psycho Pass covers so much ground with the future it builds and covers it intelligently and in fantastic depth, all while managing to tell a great story with a handful of important characters. Its flaws, which tend to come out when it rushes through some explanations (HYPER OATS), stand out so much because of how well defined their vision of the future is.
3: Attack on Titan
When Attack on Titan got it right, it was the most goddamn thrilling thing around. The scene composition with the spinning cameras and the building of the music with the overall sound design of titans stomping through trees and roaring at walls made the whole thing just edge of the seat thrilling. It also does that great thing with character creation where they (almost) all have clear personalities that make them instantly memorable and fit into the larger story being told. Behind all that thrill though there’s a great story being told. There’s a reason why the ridiculous dramatic things happen in Attack on Titan. There’s a broader theme that’s kinda fascinating, even if it perhaps presents a slightly aggressive philosophy. But all of that is still ultimately background to crotch-propelled spiderman ninjas fighting giant derpy naked people punching each other.
2: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
The energy gone into making practically every single scene in Jojo’s pop is phenomenal. It just never lets up with how much goddamn fun its having presenting this most ridiculous of stories. I don’t think I’ve ever spazzed out over colour use in anime before, but holy shit how they use colour in Jojo’s is beyond magnificent. Ever since I finished Jojo’s, most of my criticisms of anime since have been “you should try be more like Jojo’s.” It is quite possibly the most fun I have ever had with an anime. I’ve been doing these year-in-review posts since 2008 and if Jojo’s had aired any other since starting blogging, it would have easily made #1. It just had the unfortunate luck to air in the same year as…
1: Watamote – No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular
Comedy can strip down walls that are otherwise too uncomfortable to go behind. It takes a tremendous amount of skill to do without cheapening the subject matter. Most comedies don’t even try and instead turn into one of those terrible “very special episodes” sitcoms run when they realise they don’t have the talent to cover this serious subject without grim faces. Watamote achieves this. Through its comedy it tackles this very singular character study of someone with crippling social anxiety and her attempts to escape it, and in doing told a far more sympathetic tale. I have no personal connection to the story being told. I was never Tomoko nor did I ever know anyone like Tomoko (funnily enough, those people tended to keep to themselves). I love Watamote because of what it achieves as a comedy. Everything it does, through the directing choices, the weird artsy effects, the OP and ED, the painfully slow arc of Tomoko, all done as comedy but all are done to enhance and tell this story. I love Watamote to bits and if it had ended on episode 11, it probably would have been my favourite anime of all time.