Home > End of Year Faffery > Check-in Station Year in Review: Winter 2013 (the Warmth of Companionship – and Subpar Anime)

Check-in Station Year in Review: Winter 2013 (the Warmth of Companionship – and Subpar Anime)

With my Christmas post, I’ve already started my recap series for the year that I’ve dubbed End of Year Faffery.  My love of  British culture, and love the phrase “faffing about” is the inspiration behind this.  But don’t get the wrong idea.  Though I’m playing with concepts, presentation and ideas all the time on this blog; I’m seriously going through this blogs journey in anime throughout the entire year of 2013.  And I’m of course starting with the first season of the year, the Winter season.  After all, this blog is named the Check-in Station. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to not not check-in at the end of the year with everything I’ve discovered, and experienced in world of anime.  Please enjoy, as I take on my journey through the year of anime, 2013.

This year in anime didn’t get off to the best, most exciting start for me.  Given my general enjoyment of SHAFT productions, I thought a lot about giving Sasami-san@Ganbaranai a shot.  But I never did get around to watching even a single full episode of the show.  What I did settle on though, I didn’t regret.  For whatever reason, I initially gave three shows a shot.  Maoyuu Maou Yuusha being the first.

What turned me on to Maoyuu Maou Yuusha was the concept, albeit a slightly confusing one.  I had fond memories of another story about a Demon King that I had watched not too long ago, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou (Demon King Daimaou).   A show that was surprisingly funny, entertaining, sexy and bad ass.  It’s also one of the few harem shows I’ve ever liked.  Though what I got with Maoyuu was significantly more subdued and less bad ass than I had hoped.  I still enjoyed seeing this romantic fairy tale about how a pair of hopeful people would use their unequaled mind and physical prowess to manipulate their world for the better.   Given the show’s premise for changing a world run by and fueled on a never-ending grindhouse known as war, I’m sure this series rung true and almost uncomfortably realistic for some of those watching it, including me.  It was refreshing to see this fantasy about people working from the “grassroots” to upend corrupt politics, religion and commerce to build a minority movement for change in the world as a whole.  In fact, I found it quite intelligent and refreshing to see the show use one of the more powerful merchants as an agent for change.  It showed that this show had a dynamic and realistic idea of how to best change the world.

My only gripes about the show was the fact that it was paced too slow and it lacked passion in some areas.  Not to mention that a show of this type is quite difficult to pitch to others when you mention all the bad as elements, like the Hero who is as powerful as a demi-god, the Demon King/Crimson Scholar who is as beatiful and big-breasted as she is intelligent, and the battles that not only prove to be tactically satisfying, but also allow the women, especially Knight to shine on their own as very competent female leads.  And then have to tell them that most of that will be tempered by lots of conversation and tedious set up.  On the brightest of bright sides though, it had an episode that I would put near the lead for best of the year in episode 9.  I dare say that what was witnessed in that episode was inspiring

The other show of note that I grasped on to was OreShura.  A series that I tried with great tentativeness and negativity.  In fact, the first episode and that episode’s first half may have been some of the WORST anime I’ve seen all year.  It was terrible!  The only thing that made me give this show a chance, was the insinuation that one of the main characters wasn’t wearing panties.  The trick worked in the show, and it worked on me; what a brilliant move!

Once I got into the show though, I realized that while it may have been a little formulaic, it did have some pretty good moments.  Midway through the show, my biggest point of contention was its frequent use of incredibly dramatic scenes fueled by one of the character’s public moments of embarrassment.  It used a character’s willingness to publicly embarrass himself, and defend others as a way of showing that he was a good person who really cared about each other the girls who adored him.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this show was basically a harem.  I just cannot get away from this genre!  It seems as though every time I step into a series looking for romance, it has to be tempered by some kind of love geometry that eventually turns into a full blown harem.  Though bringing this up now does help me illustrate one of the show’s better points.

The girls of this show were the strong point.  I was impressed at how they eventually all formed bonds with each other and the guy they sought.  Though the girl I was rooting for was the villain of the story in a way.  With Masuzu manipulating Eita, the focus of the harem for her own gains.  The rest of the harem had to sit and watch, like sharks circling a cage with fresh meat in it.  Masuzu and Eita’s false relationship was the glue of the show, the driving force behind much of its plot progression, and the whole reason for the series to exist.  So you just knew that she wasn’t going to be some simple obstacle.

In the end, the predictable did happen, as Masuzu and Eita did get together after a very good and emotional final pair of episodes.  But the show amazingly still leaves the situation open and very contentious at the end.  Something that I bought, and was satisfied with to my own great surprise.  I found this show very easy to recommend to those with most levels of experience with anime.  If you’re open to watching an anime focused on building and playing with relationships and romance, along with some pretty good comedy, I say give this show a shot.  I dare say that this show may even be one of the better ones I’ve watched this entire year.

The third show I initially gave a fair shot was Senran Kagura, ecchi ninja anime.  It’s pretty much a very simple, shallow kind of story and set up.  And despite my known love of pervy anime, I just didn’t find this show interesting enough to keep my attention.  Sad to say, I think I may need more than boobs, exploding paper clothing and surprisingly good animation to keep me watching a series.  I was puzzled to find out that some people did enjoy this show quite a bit.  So while I can’t say personally whether this show is horrible or not (I basically dropped it after three very un-entertaining episodes), it may not be so bad after all.  You’ll just have to find out at your own peril and risk.

A show that ended up being really popular that season, and this year was Vividred Operation.  A show helmed by the same staff that made the amazing Strike Witches – one of my favorite shows!  I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to cover this show episodically like I wanted, though the first half of the show I did see was beautifully vibrant, animated and entertaining.  One of the things it was most famous for was its outstanding magical girl transformations.  This staple of the mahou shoujo genre has increased in scale, production and popularity along with the genre itself.  And those transformations along with the shows love of butt shots seemed to help carry the show’s popularity.  I’m hoping that when I get to finish this show in 2014, it will be just as much fun to watch as when I stopped.

Since I had viewed the Winter season as unbearably weak, I had decided to use that time to watch some legacy series that I had been meaning to pick up and watch.  Though the result was that I bit off more than I could chew when I discovered that Maoyuu and OreShura were much better than I predicted and were talking up more and more of my time.  I was able to finish BTOOOM! though.

I have been meaning to get out a full review of BTOOOM!, seeing as how I found the show to be a nice surprise, and not nearly as trashy as I worried it would be.  Granted, there’s still some uncomfortable, skin-crawling stuff here – one of the main characters was nearly raped, and she spent most of the series trying to deal with that trauma and trusting people.  But I didn’t find the show needlessly trashy or dramatic.  I actually found myself thinking that these set ups in this show are pretty well played out.  When the characters are stuck in a game of death that involves painfully blowing each other to bits in a dangerous isolated island jungle, you should expect things to take a treacherous survival route.  My only true disappointment with the show was that it was so unfinished by the end.  By I can appreciate the show not throwing in a rushed and crappy anime original ending (I believe this franchise was based on a manga).  For my more violence loving American anime watching friends, I think you’d find this show quite entertaining.  For those looking for something deeper, don’t expect a whole lot of that.  This is reality show psychology (“I didn’t come here to make friends!”), mixed with soap opera-like back story and surprises (“This person betrayed me in the real world!”).

The other legacy series that I watched though did not finish were Kamisama Dolls, a show with a weird atmosphere but decent enough concept.  It’s full of conspiracies, rival ancient clans, and little golems that are often used to kill people.  I really did like the show.  And I was surprised I didn’t hear more about this when it first aired.  Then there’s Chu2Koi, the show with a sequel airing this Winter season.  I dismissed this series as basic moe trendy crap, but it does have a heart, great animation, and good characters.  It’s because of these things that I plan to make it a priority in 2014 to finish.  Then there’s Binbougami-ga!, a series that I’ve only watched the first five episodes of, but a series whose first five episodes have all been perfect!  It’s dumb slapstick comedy with a heart, and probably the biggest failure of mine this year.  Something this good requires it be finished and talked about.

The final two series I’ve barely touched.  The first is Say I Love You, it’s one of those cutesy, sappy shoujo love series where the girl has some ridiculous social issues and the guy is almost perfect, if not for his inability to be upfront with the woman he cares for.  It’s basically so far, another Kimi ni Todoke, which is why it may take awhile to knock this show off my list.  The stellar first season of Kimi ni Todoke demands that I watch the second and finish its story, first.

The second series is Phantom Requiem.  Since Noir is one of my favorite anime series of all-time, I found this show to be an important watch for diving back into that sort of genre and atmosphere.  A hopeless assassin story is nothing new, and has been done well before, but something about this show demands I watch this first before I check out other somewhat similar series.

Rounding out the season, I did finish a series I had been watching from 2012 called Muv-Luv, a mecha show that I found to e very, very entertaining.  It had the right amount of despair and grit in it, along with the excitement of a Top Gun-like atmosphere of young, cocky aces pilots and potential romances.  Also, it was nice to see a few good female characters in this as well.  For more on it, check out my full review.  Though I can safely recommend this show to most anyone with experience watching mecha of any level.  It has some really bad lulls in excitement and pacing, but the violence, despair and tension make for an amazing product.

The two movies I ended up watching this season were the legendary and criminally under-appreciated Porco Rosso, and the crap-fest that was Blood-C: the Last Dark.  I can best sum of Porco Rosso as an amazing Sunday afternoon watch.  It’s just so relaxing and to just sit down and watch this movie with the window open and nothing to do.  Despite the really weird premise of having some dude cursed to look like a pig run around a world that appears completely devoid of magic, the movie is all about being human.  I hardly remember any of the plot or central conflict.  What I remember are Marco Pagot’s feelings, a bunch of silly pilots, an arrogant American and a beautiful ending centering around love.  It really is a masterpiece, and one of my more favorite Studio Ghibli productions because of its light-hearted and silly overall nature.  Sometimes Ghibli movies get way too serious and cryptic for their own good.  This one has nothing like that weighing it down.  It’s a timeless film despite being clearly set in a certain era, not because it’s fantastic, but because it ends up being universal.

As for Blood-C: the Last Dark – what a stupid subtitle for a movie.  And I should’ve known that a movie born from a show full of wasted potential and pacing problems would have the same issues despite taking place over the course of only one movie.  I mean damn!  This movie can appropriately do gore and scares at times.  And after the legendary “f*ck you” the series gave to its main character at the end of the TV series, I was appropriately looking forward to some bitter, bloody and hateful revenge.  I was basically looking forward to a Kill Bill style romp through Tokyo.  Instead, what I get is a bunch of crap about a resistance in Tokyo using hackers to fight censorship and stuff.  There are some good moments of action, but the ending is a complete clusterf*ck, and deflates what little hope I had for the movie.  On a whole, it just solidifies Blood-C in its entirety as a way of concept, production and potential.  Oh, and did I ever tell you how much I hate CLAMP character designs?  Well I’m telling you again!  I hate them!

Winter 2013 Recap

New Anime Series Watched

  • Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
  • OreShura
  • Vividred Operation
  • Senran Kagura

Legacy Series Watched

  • Kamisama Dolls
  • Chu2koi
  • Binbougami-ga!
  • Say I Love You
  • Phantom Requiem

Finished Series and Movies not from this Season

  • Muv-Luv
  • Porco Rosso
  • Blood-C: Last Dark

End of Year Nominations:

Episode of the Year

Character of the Year

  • ———-

Anime of the Year

  • OreShura

Worst Anime of the Year

  • Senran Kagura

Worst Character of the Year

  • Messenger (Maoyuu Maou Yuusha)

Further Reading:

  1. January 2, 2014 at 16:30

    I like that final picture you used on the bottom =D . Anyway great post man! Kamisama Dolls was a show I thought would be “meh” but hey I’d watch it for free because I have a subscription to Anime Network. Boy was I wrong, it was much better than I was expecting, so good I had to buy the blu-ray! BTOOM I really need to see now. And you got me curious to investigate OreShura, for the “no panties” thing, lol!

    • January 3, 2014 at 00:52

      Heh, OreShura has something to say, but it’s of far less pervy subject matter. I’m glad you enjoyed Kamisama Dolls, too. It’s kinda weird tonally for me. But damn if it isn’t an interesting concept.

      Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for your help on it.

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