The Best Anime of 2013

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2013 has been a strange year of anime for me. For starters, there are only ten anime series that I feel genuinely soft for and out of those four happen to be leftovers from the previous year.

In addition, almost all of the anime on this list has one thing in common: they are “light and fluffy”. They could be labelled as “slice of life” and are generally heartwarming. Relaxing, happy and fun.

Exactly why this has been the case is a mystery to me. While slower anime about nothing in particular has always appealed to me a lot, I cannot help but feel that maybe my viewing habits have changed. Is it perhaps a way to break away from the real life and stress? Possibly.

On another hand, I do feel disappointed over how I did not enjoy series such as Kyousougiga, Eccentric Family and Gatchaman Crowds as much as I initially did. They are exciting anime for many reasons, yet they did not remain as my loved ones as the episode count progressed.

2013 – The Anime Year of Slice of Life

ShinSekaiYori3#10 Shin Sekai Yori – 7/10
25 Episodes | Drama, Sci-Fi, Supernatural | Novel | A-1 Pictures | Fall 2012

In many ways, Shin Sekai Yori is a unique anime. It stands out with its distinct story, covering three different points in our main characters’ lives, and overall bleak tone. This takes place in the future, in which humanity despite its godly “psychic powers” happens to be on the verge of collapse. Being based on a novel, not a light novel, this is not something you usually see in anime.

Not to mention the actual anime itself, that has a fantastic soundtrack and a lovely visual style to boot. The atmosphere is tense and it is hard not to be at the edge of you seat, especially during the final episodes.

What holds Shin Sekai Yori back is ironically the fact that it is not the novel itself. There are multiple times when it feels as if the story presented in the anime is fragmented, seeing how it continuously uses fade-outs to jump between different scenes. Very much like a Harry Potter movie, while great, it basically screams that you are not getting the full story.

However, at the same time this says a lot about how thrilling the story in Shin Sekai Yori actually is. It is so good I want more. Honestly, if you have not seen this yet then you better do so. Now!

Garupan4#9 Girls und Panzer – 7/10
12 Episodes | Action, Comedy | Original | Actas | Fall 2012

When watching Girls und Panzer it is hard not to see how much fun the creators had when making the series. Or, at least, so I believe. You see, Girls und Panzer is so full with energy it is hard not to be affected by it. What on paper might sound as a gimmicky idea with no value whatsoever, is here actually a love letter to tanks (if the details are to be judged).

Take a moment to imagine the whole premise. We have school girls riding tanks, competing with other rivalling schools. Oh, and the schools are located on aircraft carriers.

Sounds insane? Well, it is.

Yet Girls und Panzer takes itself seriously, providing some of the most intense action sequences I have seen. Even so, it never forgets to balance it out with comedic moments to create a great whole.

Tanks have never appealed much to me, but Girls und Panzer managed to make hooked. It is pure fun. Fun, fun, fun. Fun things are fun.

Monogatari2nd2#8 Monogatari 2nd Season – 8/10
26 Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Supernatural | Light Novel | Shaft | Summer 2013

After the miss that was Nisemonogatari, it is good to have the franchise back in action. Monogatari 2nd Season might lack the cool animation Nisemonogatari had, much likely due to being double the length, but in return it has some great stories to share. Plus, as always studio Shaft manages to create a stylish appearance with ease.

What makes Monogatari 2nd Season different than its predecessor is how it completely ditches our previous protagonist Araragi. Instead, the focus lies on the girls he saved back in Bakemonogatari. Not only is this a fresh change of pace as Araragi’s shtick had long grown boring, but it also helps breathe life into some previously one-dimensional characters.

It is a shame then that one of the arcs, the fourth to be precise, is utterly terrible in every way. What is supposed to be an intense story fails to be so because of all the nonsense talk the Monogatari franchise is known for. Another great sin is how Araragi is heavily prominent again, spreading his creepiness all over the place just to ruin the supposed tense moments.

Other than this little mishap? Monogatari is finally back in style.

Henneko2#7 Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko – 8/10
12 Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Harem | Light Novel | J.C. Staff | Spring 2013

Earlier this year I summarized my final thoughts on Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko, or Henneko for short, and there is nothing more to add.

J.C. Staff has done a splendid job with Henneko and managed to bring out its silly and slightly perverted energy perfectly. What surprised me the most is to find an actual story and not only random hijinks with slightly eccentric characters. No, instead the episodes all built up to a great conclusion.

I did not expect to have as much dumb fun with Henneko as I had. Oh, and do I need to mention how addictive the opening song is?

SakurasouNoPetNaKanojo#6 Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo – 8/10
24 Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Romance | Light Novel | J.C. Staff | Fall 2012

I love Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo frustrates me.

I can relate to the struggles found in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is too safe at times.

To be perfectly honest, I have a hard time talking about this anime. Back when it aired in Japan, I followed it weekly and felt exactly as I described above: love and frustration.

The characters, especially Sorata Kanda whom we follow, are all relatable if you have found yourself in a similar situation. To be more precise: trying to discover yourself and what you want to become in your life. Not to mention the hardships it comes with. I laughed and cried with these guys.

If you, however, have not experienced this there is a risk of the often overblown drama going straight over your head. What Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo lacks is a natural build-up to its conflicts, often due to the characters’ issues not showing until it is time to burst. This leads to rough storytelling, especially during the first half which has very obvious mood swings.

Despite these problems, it is hard not to fall for Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. It lovingly invites you to stay at “Sakura-sou” with its quirky inhabitants. Furthermore, after every drama segment there are lots of funny and easy-going moments to balance it out a little. When watching Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, I felt motivated to do better myself.

That, in itself, is enough reason to watch Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.

YamanoSusume8#5 Yama no Susume – 8/10
12 Episodes | Comedy, Slice of Life | Manga | 8bit | Winter 2013

Do you like anime shorts? Do you like mountain climbing? Do you like cute things? Then Yama no Susume is a perfect fit for you. Besides, you can finish the whole series in half an hour if you still are not convinced.

If there is anything I have wanted to do more of, it is finding trails or climbing mountains. Not extremely difficult ones, mind you, but those you can do without too much of a hassle. When I visit Japan, I know for sure I want to climb up some mountains (even if we are only talking about “walking” up to the top).

As such, Yama no Susume appeals to me a lot. It provides a well-made, sweet and exotic tour of places I have yet been to. If only the episodes had been longer than a couple of minutes…

SilverSpoon#4 Silver Spoon – 8/10
11 Episodes | Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life | Manga | A-1 Pictures | Summer 2013

Silver Spoon tells an engrossing tale of the city kid Hachiken who does the unexpected and enrolls in an agriculture school. Throughout the series we see a once immature and whiny boy slowly mature into someone who understands how tough the farm life can be.

While the second half of Silver Spoon is currently airing, this “first season” managed to tell its own narrative arc in Hachiken’s life. It is fascinating to see him grow and I cannot wait to see what the “second season” has in store for us.

HunterxHunter8#3 Hunter x Hunter – 9/10
112/? Episodes | Action, Adventure | Manga | Madhouse | Fall 2011

Calling Hunter x Hunter one of my favorite anime for the third year in a row feels like taking an easy way out. There is not much to say other than “Go watch it!“, because this is a marvelous adaptation handled with great care by Madhouse. This, coupled with Yoshihiro Togashi once again having written a fantastic manga, is nothing short of a dream come true.

At the moment we are deep into the “Chimera Ant” arc, the largest and most mature part in Hunter x Hunter. It is so tightly written and has such gruesome scenes it is at times hard to understand this was actually originally published in Weekly Shounen Jump.

Seriously, there is no good reason for you to not watch Hunter x Hunter if you enjoy great action series. Off you go!

NonNonBiyori#2 Non Non Biyori – 9/10
12 Episodes | Comedy, Slice of Life | Manga | Silver Link | Fall 2013

How do you write an anime that is about nothing in particular? Non Non Biyori takes places in the countryside of Japan and we follow four young girls doing whatever they want to. It is all about the atmosphere, which Non Non Biyori pulls off with ease.

It has gorgeous landscapes, soothing soundtrack and charming characters. You know if you are part of the intended audience. I knew I was, washing away all that was bad and replacing it with happiness.

GJbu2#1 GJ-bu – 9/10
12 Episodes | Comedy, Slice of Life | Light Novel | Dogakobo | Winter 2013

Somehow, GJ-bu ended up as one of my favorite anime of all time. How it managed to do so is unbeknownst me. I have tried to explain why, but much like every other relaxing slice of life anime it is nigh impossible since it all bottles down to “feelings”.

What I can say, however, is the following:

I love you, GJ-bu.

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14 thoughts on “The Best Anime of 2013

  1. froggykun says:

    This is a great list, because I think slice of life is highly underrated among bloggers. Lots of unusual choices here, but I think every title you picked really excelled at what they were trying to do. So many little gems here.

    P.S. I’ve been playing that Hentai Ouji OP on loop too. KOCCHI MUITE~~

    • Marow says:

      Slice of life is my favorite when it comes to anime, so it’s only natural for it to be on this list :P
      Not sure how it’s with other bloggers…?

      P.S. I’ve been playing that Hentai Ouji OP on loop too. KOCCHI MUITE~~

      Good frog! :D

      • froggykun says:

        I think other bloggers tend to like plot and theme-driven shows and find pure slice-of-life shows boring. I also tend to find shows in that genre to be nothing more than a pleasant distraction most of the time. But it’s nice to see anime that are really effective at what they do, like Non Non Biyori and Yama no Susume, get the recognition I feel they deserve.

        P.S. The Hentai Ouji ED is amazing too, but needs more Azusa.

  2. Hurvilo says:

    Honeslty I think Non Non Biyori beats GJ-bu in a pretty profound way. Punch for punch, character for character.

    - Hotarun beats Megumi (as the relativly sane girl of the group).
    - Renge beats Kirara (as the mascot character).
    - Suguru beats Kyouya (simply by not sucking).
    - Komari beats Shion (not the fairest matchup but what can you do).
    - Candy Shop and Kazuho beat the minor characters of GJ-bu (whoever they were!).

    The only win I can give GJ-bu is Mao over Komari, but even then it’s extremely tight.

    So NNB wins 5-1. :P

    (Though it’s great to see you love a series I only mildy enjoy, the opposite is way more often the case).

  3. gedata says:

    If HxH isn’t a serious top-spot contender for this year too, then either Madhouse will have screwed up royally or 2014 will have just been an amazing year

    • Marow says:

      The 2014 episodes of Hunter x Hunter have been amazing so far. Really curious how Madhouse will wrap it all up later on.

      Honestly, I’ll be surprised if there’s any anime better than Hunter x Hunter in 2014.

  4. The Kenosha Kid says:

    I find it nigh-impossible to explain why I like my favorite SoL anime in much the same way I would find it impossible to explain why I like my friends more than I like various other people. It feels like a really personal genre, in a way.

    Also, you really hit the nail on the head not only with Sakurasou and Non Non Biyori but especially with HenNeko—I hadn’t thought too hard about the importance of the story (and especially the ending) of that anime before, but it gives it a bit more of a heart than one might otherwise see in that sort of show. That and Shinsekai Yori do a damn good job of showing the importance of giving your story a good ending (even though in HenNeko’s case it’s not over in the slightest).

    And I really need to get around to watching Girls und Panzer; I feel almost sorta uncool for being this late to the party with that show.

    • Marow says:

      And I really need to get around to watching Girls und Panzer; I feel almost sorta uncool for being this late to the party with that show.

      Just a warning: when you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down until you’re finished. ;)

  5. Sadly, the only ones I’ve seen on this list are Monogatari S2 and Sakurasou, but both of those were brilliant watches. I’ll definitely have to check out the rest sometime.

    Monogatari S2 was a phenomenal watch and upon the end of the year, I’d say it was my fave of the year (though at this point it’s been bumped down to #2). In my opinion, Monogatari S2 is the strongest installment of the series, I really loved how it provided a bunch of perspective changes and role shifts. This made characters like Sengoku and Kaiki a great deal more interesting than they ever were before. In particular I have lots of love for Koimonogatari, which is now easily my favorite Monogatari arc. Kaiki was shaped into such a brilliant character and more Senjougahara screentime is always great even if she didn’t necessarily dominate that arc. The little of her there was still did wonders for that arc, and her character dynamics with Kaiki were absolutely amazing.

    As for Onimonogatari, I would agree that it’s the weakest arc of the season, but I wouldn’t call it completely useless. The Shinobu flashback was very insightful on not only Shinobu’s past but the nature of the Monogatari universe, which provided some nice world building that will undoubtedly be relevant in later arcs. Furthermore, the last episode of that arc was very emotional and convinced me to rate S2 a 9/10 when I’d been on the fence the whole time prior. Though it really was Koimonogatari that solidified my rating above all else.

    Sakurasou was also fantastic, though I didn’t actually keep up with that one ongoing. Sakurasou was filled with nice development and it was good (if painful) to see how the characters didn’t always succeed and that failure will take place at times. In spite of the ridiculous nature of the story at times (and particularly the over the top start), there really is quite a lot of realism with Sakurasou and it can be such a powerful story at times.

    For me though, my favorite anime of 2013 would have to be White Album 2. White Album 2 blew me away more than any other due to its strong characterization and extremely emotional story. It was a really powerful watch and I grew incredibly attached to the characters. It may not be the most complex or unpredictable of stories, and it’s not really so hard to guess what will happen, but it’s executed so well and nearly every scene has relevance to the story as a whole so I found it to be an amazing watch and my newest 10/10 after taking more than a year to find one.

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