The Wrap-Up: Summer 2013

summer2013

If you go around doing a season preview, it is only obvious you also close off on a season review. In The Wrap-Up, all of our contributors get to shine a spotlight on the show they thought to be the very best of the past few weeks, as well as reflect back on the preview to see which shows let us down the most. When you watch currently airing anime, eventually the question will rise which of these shows can rank amongst the medium’s true classics. Regardless of who covered what, this is where we single out the cream of the crop, and decide which shows from the past season deserve to stand the test of time.

Evidently, a show can only be called “the best” when it has been watched in full, so only shows that ended this season will be covered. That means Attack on Titan and A Certain Scientific Railgun S can apply, yet Monogatari Second Series cannot. So without further ado, here are our top picks for the Summer season of 2013.

jel

What was your favourite show of the season?

Love Lab

Watching Love Lab is pure, unfiltered joy. It’s got a great cast of characters that deftly sidestep the stereotypes you expect them to fall into. For many episodes, it has stellar animation that helps sell some of the best sight gags I’ve ever seen in an anime. But the one trait that separates Love Lab from the myriads of other school club comedies is it never sits still. There’s actually some semblance of a plot and the girls are always moving forward as their little love experiments grow and evolve into something much bigger. I was sad when it ended each week and even more sad that it’s over now. Season 2 please!

Honorable Mentions: A Certain Scientific Railgun S, C3-bu

Which show let you down the most?

watamote_sux

WataMote

As I’ve already mentioned in my final impressions, WataMote has a fantastic start but runs out of steam after the first couple of episodes. The majority of the series is spent coasting along on the same joke applied to slightly different situations, over and over again. The fact that I loved the show’s brand of bittersweet and yet uncynical satire made WataMote’s decline much more difficult to accept than if it had just been awful from the start.

Dishonorable Mentions: The World God Only Knows: Goddesses, if I ever get around to finishing it.

zigg

What was your favourite show of the season?

rg245

A Certain Scientific Railgun S

After the trainwreck that was Index II and especially after the mediocre first episode, I was unsure if I really wanted more Railgun, especially since they were going to spend a lot of time telling a story that had already been told. Fortunately, I was very wrong, as Railgun S pulled a blinder to emerge as easily my favourite show this season. It’s a great example of how you can have a flashy, pulpy action show but still layer enough character, heart and emotion into it to make it all things to all people. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll witness the return of baseball bat Saten. What more could anyone ask for?

Which show let you down the most?

Rozen Maiden

I have a weird but deep affection for the original Rozen Maiden and the memorably odd cast of characters it put together. The cliffhanger ending of the second season Traumend and the long years the franchise spent in the wilderness afterwards made me extremely excited to see what a whole new series could bring to the table. What it could bring, it turned out, was horrible pacing, dire animation and a jarring disconnect with what we had seen on our screens before. Gone was the kooky, lovable fantasy comedy/drama, instead we got a slow, shallow and lifeless alternate universe tale that struggled to keep its own story straight. Heartbreaking.

Dishonorable Mentions: Watamote, which started so bright and burnt out so fast.

iro

What was your favourite show of the season?

wSpOMWK

Love Lab

Watching Love Lab was an absolutely baffling experience for me. I usually loathe the “schoolgirls doing stuff” genre (and I pretty much still do), but Love Lab somehow pierced that shield and became one of the most enjoyable shows of the entire year. It had funny jokes, likeable characters, legitimate drama, conspicuously good animation, and enough genuine heart to easily become the sleeper hit of the season. The only downside is that now I have to give everything a fair chance again…

Honorable Mentions: Majestic Prince

Which show let you down the most?

ilya7molest

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya

Look, my header a few lines up there is of an obscure Type-Moon character. I love the universe, from Fate/Stay Night to Angel Notes to Garden of Sinners. This I do not love; this I hate. Primsa Illya took out almost everything I enjoyed about the Fate franchise and replaced it with generic magical girl anime tropes. A decent fight or two wasn’t enough to save this ultimately pointless spinoff that reeks of a shameless cash grab, and it committed the cardinal sin of making me feel embarrassed to be a fan of Fate. How could I not be disappointed?

Dishonorable Mentions: The World God Only Knows: Goddesses

life

What was your favourite show of the season?

Gatchaman

Gatchaman Crowds

This show surprised me, to say the least. It’s full of things I usually don’t enjoy: Superheroes, too many highly energetic and/or flamboyant characters, annoying 3D effects that never look very good and thinly veiled, never explained or totally coherent symbolism. Okay, so I actually like that last one… sometimes. Gatachaman Crowds takes all those elements and packs them into a story that I loved to pieces. It’s not the deepest thing ever, but it plays with some interesting themes that never failed to both make me think and leave me highly amused. I also have to mention the crazy soundtrack. Whoever came up with the idea of mixing dubstep with classical music is brilliant. We even got some dubstep opera out of the mix at one point.

Honorable Mentions: Love Lab, Symphogear G and A Certain Scientific Railgun S.

Which show let you down the most?

1

Sunday Without God

A cool idea does not a cool anime make. I made it through the first arc of this show and the execution left me wanting. The sequence of events, the character motivations and just the general premise didn’t work the way I thought they should. I’m not sure if I should blame poor writing, poor directing or both. Sunday Without God had all the right pieces to make something I would love, but it put those pieces together in the wrong way. Maybe it just wasn’t the show I wanted it to be, but personally I think it was genuinely trying to be that show and just failing at doing so. In the end the execution makes this show that much more tragic for me and my only real disappointment of the season.

Dishonorable Mentions: /

marlin

What was your favourite show of the season?

a85b7ca7f28950e0b59604bc28cdf705

Love Lab

As I’m sure we’ve said a million times now, this was truly the biggest sleeper hit of the season. From the fantastic animation to the best comedy of the year, I was hooked by episode one. Love Lab was able to do what other successful school comedies have done: make use of every single one of their characters. No one is unimportant, and everyone has something that’ll make you laugh. Even when the jokes fell a little flat it was hard to deny the energy behind the motion and voice acting. It may not have the grandest of stories, but it doesn’t need that. All it needs is good friends and good times.

Honorable Mention: The Eccentric Family

Which show let you down the most?

twgok10a

The World God Only Knows: Goddesses

I know I came into this story with low expectations, but to understand exactly what made this disappointing one must also understand where this started in continuity. There were seven girls inbetween the second season and the Goddesses arc. This includes the plotlines for two of the actual goddesses that are focused on in this season. To gloss over these arcs, many of which contain fan favorite characters, was by far the biggest mistake. Did the team not have faith in these stories? They could have easily prefaced the goddesses arc by going through Yui, Tsukihi and another girl’s arc and making this two seasons, but it would appear they felt just doing the Goddesses arc was better. What this means is that for people who have only watched the anime (which seems to be a fair amount given the Glorio Blog alone is half and half), they are forced to try and care about two girls they barely know. While the job of truncating 75 chapters into 12 episodes was admirable, this also lead to a lot of rushed pacing. While I do believe edits they made to the arc did actually benefit the overall flow of the story, this also made the Vintage threat seem like nothing until the very last episodes. Overall, it’s just not what I wanted out of this franchise.

aqua

What was your favourite show of the season?

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The Eccentric Family

This shiny gem of a show took its time to get started, but once it settled in, The Eccentric Family consistently managed to outplay only itself in terms of sheer imagination with every consecutive episode. Like its characters, with one foot steeped in tradition and another one aching for progression, it sucks viewers into a well thought out universe where characters and traditions exist beyond the role they are supposed to play in this particular story. With unique, quirky personalities, delightful jokes and snappy dialogue, The Eccentric Family tells a family tale like a jigsaw puzzle. Set it in a distinctly different society and highlighting the differences between tanuki and human culture, The Eccentric Family reveals itself as a criminally funny fable that carries some true substance under its quirky exterior. Oh, and it’s insanely pretty as well.

Honorable mentions: Love Lab, A Certain Scientific Railgun S

Which show let you down the most?

watamote_02_5

Hype is a dangerous thing — especially if it’s directed towards the medium Sturgeon’s Law seems to have been invented for — so as usual I once again dropped a bunch of shows I was having undeservedly high hopes for. The ineptly named Tamayura ~more agressive~ revealed itself as a mere shade of its already criminally inoffensive former self, confusing “relaxing” with “extremely boring” and thus achieving the exact opposite effect of what it tried to achieve. Gatchaman Crowds might have turned out even worse, abusing its awesome character designs to form an incoherent, garish mess with not a single frame that did not look off-model and not a single character that seemed to possess any form of depth. Yet the biggest letdown for me was WataMote, an utterly repetitive romp that desperately tried to hide the fact that all of its jokes are the exact same with a lot of gross-out “black humour” and self-important pity parties for those who love to blame the “normal people” for all their misery. Too harsh on its protagonist to be relatable and too self-gratifying to be realistic, WataMote in the end felt more like an “I know that feel, bro” webcomic on 4chan than anything anyone is actually supposed to enjoy.

timmy

What was your favourite show of the season?

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Love Lab

Love Lab was pretty much the only thing that mattered this season for me and turned out to be a fine example of a show slipping under the radar. At the beginning of the season while reading the charts everyone including myself passed it off as being another of those cute girls in a club room type setting doing cute, funny things. While it was very much that it was also very much more then that. Sure, the visual jokes and gags were great but where I felt the show really shined and differentiated itself from similar premised affairs is it really felt like the characters actually progressed. Foes become friends, issues are dealt with and in the end the group feels like it has collectively accomplished quite a lot as opposed to simply remaining a bunch of static characters for the show to poke fun at. (Not that the show isn’t afraid to take plenty of jabs at the characters.) Love Lab turned out to be a really fun ride and a great surprise. It was generally pretty to watch too.

Which show let you down the most?

Love Lab also happened to be the only thing I had time to sit down and watch this season, so no bad animes to report; ’twas the best season ever.

gee

What was your favourite show of the season?

vlcsnap-2013-04-20-23h39m30s19

Space Battleship Yamato 2199

Yamato 2199 is easily a personal contender for placing in my top 5 anime of the year, no less the season. Exciting, interesting, and consistent, Yamato 2199 is a perfect example of how to update an old franchise for a new audience. While Yamato 2199’s plot isn’t the most unique in the world, it is perfectly executed, with narrative pacing most other anime can’t even hope to pull off. Filled with thrilling space battles, wonderfully human characters, and high production values that made the whole affair a joy to watch every week, Yamato 2199 is about as close to perfect as I could hope from an anime. Considering the uncontested quality of the show, it makes it all the more glaring that I am the only person among the Glorio crew who watched it. For those of you who have been following my Yamato 2199 posts, I thank you for your readership, and I hope you’ll all accompany me as we prepare to witness the conclusion of the Space Battleship Yamato’s final battle.

Honorable Mentions: C3-BuAttack on Titan

[HorribleSubs] Gin no Saji - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.19_[2013.07.18_20.53.49]

Which show let you down the most?

Unlike the rest of the Glorio crew, I don’t spent time watching bad shows. Anything I remotely disliked or was disinterested in was quickly jettisoned and forgotten. I suppose the closest I’d have to a disappointment would be Silver Spoon, due to my love of Harvest Moon. But having started to read the manga, I believe my initial disappointment with it was not based on the content of the show, but the fact that it seems to work better as a manga. Overall, the only shows I bothered to keep up with have been Yamato 2199, Titan, and C3, and while the latter two aren’t perfect, they weren’t terrible either.

-=-

[FFF] Love Lab - 13 [32CF30A3]_30-sep.-2013 11.23.37

With the entire crew’s two cents chipped in, we can conclude that if you watch only one show from the past season, Love Lab should be that show. Pretty much the entire crew ended up pleasantly surprised by this sleeper hit, a high school girl comedy with actual plot progression and three-dimensional characters. Its painfully funny jokes supported by some staggeringly great animation managed to convince even our most cynical members, and infamous visual gags like the “swan walk” will remain in our collective memory (and reaction GIF databank) for quite a while. Rest assured the show will get the attention it deserves if it ever gets a second season. I’d be surprised if Jel doesn’t already have a Love Lab blog theme ready for when that happens.

That wraps up our wrap-up for this summer season. As you might be able to judge looking at our picks, there were very few shows anyone seemed to give a damn about this season. While Love Lab‘s success came out of nowhere, many other shows that aired this season seem to have disappeared off the face of the planet after their premiere. Does anyone remember Dog & Scissors, Fantasista Doll or Il Sole Penetra Le Illusioni? Yet with blockbusters such as Kill-la-Kill and Beyond the Boundary on their way, the Fall season as ever promises to be the biggest one of the year, and the one we cannot wait to sink our writing teeth in. For all your predictions on which Fall shows will end up on this feature in a few months, make sure to check out our two-part season preview, as well as the latest installment of our podcast, Incoherent Babble.

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