Anime Taste Testing: Spring 2013

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After the very decent line-up that was the autumn 2012 anime season (thank you Psycho-Pass, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Magi), the winter list felt like one of the worst seasons of the past several years. With the cancellation of Savannah Game I ended up following a grand total of one title from beginning to end (Amnesia), and clearly that was more a hilariously guilty pleasure than anything else. A first peek at the spring 2013 anime chart when it first came out had me eagerly anticipating the new season however, with not just one or two but several anime titles that looked like they’d be worth trying out.


Saint Oniisan/Saint Young Men
Score: 8/10

saint young men

The plot for Saint Young Men had long sounded like a lot of fun to me – take Jesus and Buddha, stick them in an apartment together in modern-day Japan, and have at it with the daily life dealings of things like Christmas holidays and rush hour on the train. This is only going to be a 2-episode OVA (and there’s a movie due out later on as well), but the first episode is good enough for me to be eagerly anticipating the second one. When done right, the portrayal of religion in blatant fantasy like this is hilarious to watch, and Saint Young Men does nearly everything right. Fans of the manga won’t be disappointed either – the anime has clearly been made with a lot of love and respect for the source material.

Otona Joshi no Anime Time
Score: 8/10

otona joshi no anime time

Again, not a full TV series but rather a 4-episode show. I had been definitely planning on watching this right from the get-go because the premise of each episode sounded extremely promising – not only were they short stories about women, but they all focused on women who for once weren’t in their teens or early 20s. I’m sure any anime fans reading this can appreciate the rarity of such a thing. Now that I’ve seen all 4 episodes it’s a little difficult for me to provide a single overall impression of the show, since each of the 4 episodes were totally different from one another in terms of story and even art style. I do want to express my profound joy at watching an anime with mature female main characters who actually act like adults and aren’t reduced to mere fanservice though. The youngest of our protagonists is in her 20s while the other three are in their 30s and 40s, and that fact alone was enough to keep me glued to the screen. The stories are each compelling in their own way too though – I can only hope this anime gets the credit it deserves despite its brevity.

Aku no Hana
Score: 6/10

aku no hana

Stolen gym clothes, a bit of healthy blackmail… I had at first glance pegged this series for just another high school drama/romance/comedy, but it’s obvious to me now that nothing could be further from the truth. But talk about an anime getting a bad rap right off the cuff! I’m tempted to stand up for Aku no Hana just for that, because everyone who’s whining about it seems to be focusing purely on the art style. See, this is what I don’t get about a lot of anime fans out there – they bitch and moan about anime not being innovative enough, and then when something like this comes out they all start complaining about how ugly and terrible it is. Personally I’m actually quite drawn to the artwork in Aku no Hana – granted, it’s incredibly different from anything I’ve seen in any anime to date, but why can’t that be a good thing? If I’m going to fault anything in this series it would be the pacing, which is far slower than it needs to be and will probably end up causing a lot of would-be viewers to drop it soon, assuming they haven’t already done so. That said, I’m really curious about where things will go from here and will most probably keep watching to find out.

Hataraku Maou-sama!
Score: 9/10

hataraku maou-sama

When it comes to shows like this, I love being wrong. From the plot summaries it sounded like this was going to be a fanservice-laden shounen series. A demon king who’s one step away from ruling the world when things go suddenly wrong and he’s forced to live in modern-day Japan and work for a living? Fun maybe, but probably not especially intelligent or even that funny unless you happened to be a male somewhere between the age of 10 and 20. I’ve now done a complete 180 and have come to regard this as one of the very best anime of the season. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen a comedy series I’ve enjoyed this much, but the timing is gold and the jokes are spot on. My previous fears of the show relying on fanservice for its giggles were put to rest immediately – the first episode alone is good enough that I’m recommending the series to anyone looking for a more light-hearted watch, regardless of what else they’d normally go for in an anime.

Karneval
Score: 5/10

karneval

Once again I had it wrong, only this time in a bad way. I’d heard a lot of great things about the manga and was greatly looking forward to a josei series that combined action/adventure, fantasy, and more bishounen that you could shake a stick at. But I have to be honest and say that although I really want to like it, it’s a bit of a mess so far. All the ingredients are there – some nice artwork, a fabulous voice acting team, a plot with some obvious depth to it – but something’s definitely off. I can’t say what exactly that something is, but Karneval just isn’t holding together like it should. Quite possibly it’s going to be another victim of the entirely common ‘too much plot, too little time’ issue, although I’d like to give it another couple of episodes before I decide it’s no longer worth my effort, because I’d like to believe it has potential despite the rocky start.

RDG: Red Data Girl
Score: 7/10

red data girl

This was going to be my ‘I don’t know what the heck this is but I’ll hesitantly give it a try anyway’ series of the spring season. A modern fantasy based on Japanese Shinto legends, about a shy girl who moves from where she has been raised her whole life deep in a mountain shrine somewhere into Tokyo with her guardian – it sounded like it could be either really awful or strangely addicting. So far at least, I’m happy to report it’s mostly the latter. While the OP makes Red Data Girl look like it’s going to be a super-sized reverse harem series, the writers clearly know what they’re doing and are putting some real effort into giving this show some depth. No, it’s not perfect, but the pacing is pretty good, the plot is interesting without being overly convoluted, and the personality of our two main characters actually feels halfway realistic.

Suisei no Gargantia/Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Score: 9/10

suisei no gargantia

While mecha or even just science-fiction (with the exception of Evangelion and Eureka Seven) isn’t generally my style, Suisei no Gargantia is most likely going to stand right alongside Hataraku Maou-sama! as the other top show of the new line-up. The animation is lovely, sure, but more importantly the pacing so far and the way the main characters are interacting with each other is really intelligently done. This is probably going to be more character than action-driven, which works for me just fine. If nothing else, Urobuchi Gen knows how to tell a good story, and while it’s nothing like the wonderfully dark Madoka Magica, the gritty Psycho-Pass or even the slightly more mainstream Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, Suisei no Gargantia is an obvious standout of the spring season.

Question of the post: How do you think this current season compares to the 2012/2013 winter season so far, and what’s your pick for top title of the 2013 spring season?

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29 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Spring 2013

  1. Many of these I’ve yet to watch, as I’ve only watched about half of Crunchyroll’s Spring 2013 shows so far, but the highlights for me are Gargantia, Attack on Titan and I also found Yuyushiki to be charming and funny.

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    • It’s a really solid season, for sure. There are probably another few shows there that I’d quite enjoy including Attack on Titan, but as it is I probably won’t have time to keep up with any more than what I’ve currently got. If I end up dropping something though (which is likely), I may replace it with another title.

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      • I was on holiday from work last week when a lot of new shows started luckily, so have had chance to try a variety. I was about to cancel my CR subscription but so far it is looking to be strong season.

        Going to hopefully find RDG to try, and also intend to at least give Flowers of Evil a try as well despite the art controversy.

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        • The controversy over Aku no Hana surprised me – I didn’t expect people to feel so passionately about it. But then, I’m not familiar with the source material so it’s impossible for me to be offended at the change of art style. Personally, I welcome experimental artwork in anime. It’s how the medium develops, and part of the reason I love anime so much is because it can and does find different ways of telling a story.

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          • I also haven’t read the original manga, and I agree completely with you about the choice of art. The anime using the style it has doesn’t stop the manga existing or force the creator to have to match the anime’s style.

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  2. Definitely agree on “Saint Oniisan/Saint Young Men”! …although I’m still looking for it. ^.^;;
    As for “Aku no Hana”, well, haven’t seen that one. Yet. Although the way you described it had me at least seriously contemplating watching it. You managed to make me curious! (To be honest, I wouldn’t just from reading the official description. Plus the art style IS different. Not “Gankutusou”-different but… More realistic, I guess?)
    “Karneval”… Hm. I read the manga but somewhere around volume 5, the story just started to feel so–MEH! to me. As if there was something with a lot of potential – that was hampered by too much too fast? Well, I’ll just wait and see, I suppose…

    An anime I definitely WILL watch is “Arata Kangatari”. Why? Because I adore the manga and have been waiting for it to turn anime ever since Watase Yuu (“Fushigi Yuugi”! <3) started it. The character design is nothing new or innovative or anything but it's solid work. Seiyuu and music as well.
    Hopefully, this show will get more than a measly 12 episodes because the story, i.e. the plot leaves room for so much more. Really, with 12 x 25 minutes, you can maybe scratch the surface but where's the plot-development, the growth of the characters, etc.? (AND my entertainment!? ^.^)

    The one show I'd watch at least periodically – just for s–ts and giggles, mind you! – is "My Little Pony – Tomodachi wa Mahou". Yes, the show's American. Yes, it's already been aired in Europe. Yes, it'll be dubbed.
    So?
    That's precisely what I'm curious about. Plus, the Japanese will undoubtedly come up with some pretty funny/weird/random merchandise…

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    • Probably one of the reasons I’m not particularly offended by the art style of Aku no Hana is because I haven’t read the manga and therefore can’t compare the two styles. Actually, I very rarely read manga at all and tend to stick with just the anime versions of things.

      The 12-episode anime shows seem to be a big trend lately. In one way that’s disappointing since it means great shows are effectively cut in half, but since it also usually results in far better quality animation and often better pacing as well, I feel like I can’t really complain too much.

      Haha, I’m not a My Little Pony fan but I know several people who are, so it’ll be interesting to see their comments on the Japanese dub.

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  3. Is this an exclusive blog for hard-core otakus? I feel a little out of place now. I haven’t seen any of these, but RDG and Hataraku Maou-sama sound interesting! Will check those out. Also, can you please tags posts with the name of the anime too?

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  4. I dropped by to check this out for you since you included it at the end of your last KKM update. I love reading about new anime and manga to anticipate, and will definitely want to check out ‘Hataraku Maou-sama’ and ‘RDG’. Both of those look really good. Thanks for the recommendations and the reviews.

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  5. Attack on Titan has been my favorite thus far. And like you, I’m also really enjoying Hataraku Maou-sama!, which I only started watching the other night (I’m very glad I picked it up). Third for me is Suisei no Gargantia, which feels like it could be a fun ride, both in storytelling and in animation.

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    • I really should try out Attack on Titan I think – several people I know have now recommended it, so if I can find the time I want to know what all the fuss is about. 🙂

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      • Shingeki no Kyojin is definitely a great anime thus far, but if you prefer more light hearted series then it may be a bit on the heavy side for you. There’s plenty of gore to go around, and they don’t hold anything back. But, then again, this is the same series that gave birth to “potato girl” so it’s not without some humor (watch up to episode 3 and you’ll understand what I mean).

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        • I’m up to date on Attack on Titan now (dropped Karneval after episode 4, so a little extra time up my sleeve on the anime front). I don’t love the series as much as most other people are seeming to, but I am enjoying it. Personally speaking I quite like having a variety of weekly anime shows going at once – I enjoy both dark, serious titles as well as more light-hearted fare.

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  6. Thank you for liking my post!
    I’m also disappointed in Karneval since the manga is one of my faves and I got my hopes up when the anime came out. 13 episodes, the anime seems to be forced to end soon…
    I think to watch more animes this season with your review ^^ thank you!

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    • Ah well, there are plenty of other titles to enjoy this time around so I guess I can’t be too disappointed. Overall I think it’s a pretty strong season – possibly one of the strongest we’ve seen in some time. 🙂

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  7. Totally agree with you on Hataraku Maou-sama! I never would have guessed this series would end up as one of the best of the season, and possibly the year. Also I’m glad to find someone else who enjoyed Otona Joshi.

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    • Ironically, the shows this season that I thought would be just okay or even potentially awful have been brilliant, and the shows I was looking forward to the most have been average at best. Overall though, I think it’s a really solid season – one of the best we’ve seen in a long time.

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      • I partly share your sentiment. It’s a strong season with a good 3-4 series that could end up as contenders for this year’s top 10 and a few others that will be enjoyable.

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  8. Pingback: Anime Taste Testing: Spring 2013 (Part II) | OTAKU LOUNGE

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