To finally put a rest to Anime Marathon 2013, I'm going back and awarding some of the series I went through. I addition to the awards, I also have a rather nice announcement at the end that my usual viewers will be interested in.
Most of the awards are pretty self explanatory. I chose them based entirely on personal preference and they reflect what I feel, not what some guy on Metacritic said. I narrowed down the choices to under five and then chose my favorite for each category of the bunch. I went to extreme lengths to avoid any ties.
Best Soundtrack: White Album 2
Even though White Album 2's actual selection of insert songs is pretty limited compared to larger series like Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, I felt that it did a whole lot right. It brought back strong songs from White Album and added a couple of songs of its own. In particular, "A Love That Cannot Be" was surprisingly good, I must admit (although it technically can be considered an opening theme).
As mentioned, Gundam SEED Destiny was in the running for this category.
Best Opening Theme: Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen - Attack on Titan
This category actually became nearly impossible to settle on. After nearly twenty minutes of debating, I managed to break it down to just Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen from Attack on Titan and Realize from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. After that it became even worse. I think Attack on Titan's OP has a miniscule lead on Realize, just enough to win the category. I'm still hesitant to give it away like this though. I loved Realize.
Best Ending Theme: Beautiful Sky - Infinite Stratos 2
There is exactly one reason that Infinite Stratos 2 made it: the ending sequence is an art form. The theme song is pretty good and it's even sung by the actresses of the show. The animation usually changes with respect to what happened in that episode. Yes, they put in little changes in the ending to reflect what happened. It's absolutely art.
The other contenders here were Sword Art Online's Yume Sekai and Valvrave the Liberator's Akai Memorīzu o Anata ni.
Best Main Character(s): Haruki, Setsuna, Touma - White Album 2
White Album 2 is back for another category. In this case, it's because of the incredibly strong main trio. The three characters make up a substantial reason for this show's narrative power. They seem to be simple characters, but underneath the trope-friendly exteriors they have some very complex emotions and wishes. They aren't entirely sure of their feelings and their actions are understandable but flawed at the same time. The chemistry between the characters/voice actors is also palpable.
The other contenders here were Attack on Titan (Eren, Mikasa, Armin), Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (Yuuya Bridges), and Blood+ (Saya).
Best Supporting Character(s): The Ships - Arpeggio of Blue Steel
I'd be lying if I said I didn't make this show win simply to write that with a straight face, but it is worthy of the award in every way. Arpeggio of Blue Steel's supporting cast consists largely of sentient sci-fi naval ships that project themselves (via nanomaterials) as human women. Despite the hilarious sounding explanation, they have many similarities to the Cylons from the new BSG remake. Personally, I thought that they absolutely stole the show whenever any of them came on screen, it was really impressive. Sure, they might get over-the-top, but I honestly loved seeing the banter/friction between Iona, Kongou, Haruna, Kirishima, Takao, and Hyuuga. It was really something.
The other contender were the Valvrave pilots from Valvrave the Liberator.
Best Plot: Another
This category had some strange problems when the time came to figure it all out. There were a lot of strong arcs in this marathon, but the arcs didn't always last as long as the show. As such, the strongest show plot definitely has to go to Another, with managed to create a mystery that I liked and kept giving me only enough to satisfy my curiosity. Whenever it felt like things were getting boring, Another smashed us with plot twists, red herrings, and horrifying deaths. It had an extremely good run.
The other contenders here are actually just arcs: Gundam SEED (second season arc), Sword Art Online (Aincrad arc), and Valvrave the Liberator (first season arc).
Best Animation: White Album 2
This was a somewhat straightforward category since I felt White Album 2's beautiful color-heavy palette automatically qualified it for a win. White Album 2's animation style can only be described as "realistic" as it dodges most of the usual animation tropes that Japan loves and it doesn't feel any shame in doing so. The scenes are immaculately constructed and every line drawn is there for a reason. The coloring palette is incredible and the artistic feeling of several scenes wouldn't be out-of-place in an art museum. It is visual masterpiece at its best and good at its worst.
The other contenders were Valvrave the Liberator, Another, and Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean.
Best Ongoing Series: Log Horizon
Log Horizon is one of a handful of series I'm watching weekly and it is always a blast. Whereas Sword Art Online was angsty, Log Horizon offers a more sociopolitical analysis on a video game world where players can die and resurrect. It is a bit fun-loving and it loves a good laugh in every episode. It isn't overly serious but it is complex. It's shaping up to be a very good series.
I see Log Horizon doing a good job in my eventual review.
The True Dark Horse: White Album 2
White Album 2 smashed into this marathon out of nowhere in every way that the phrase implies. White Album 2's predecessor, White Album, was a pretty forgettable anime that felt confused and over-complicated. It generally did more wrong than it did right. This, of course, couldn't mean that another White Album would be good right?
Wrong. White Album 2 was an incredibly well-made anime that did everything right. It was one of the greatest anime of the fall, of 2013, and (I think) in years. Pretty impressive for a series that I picked up to mock at the December awards alongside its predecessor. Well played.
Other contenders here were Guilty Crown, Blood+, Another, and Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse.
Worst Anime of the Marathon: Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean
This was really, really tough category. No anime in this marathon was terrible by any means, there were just some weak series that couldn't pull it together. Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean is on the receiving end of this problem. It does a whole bunch of things halfway and the themes it tackles are only half-explored. The inter-personal relationships aren't explored as they were in the predecessor and it just feels wrong at times. Even so, it had some good points in it, but they are overshadowed by a confused direction and weak plot.
The other contenders were Infinite Stratos 2, Fate/stay night, and Gundam SEED Destiny.
Best Anime of the Marathon: White Album 2
Some of you are going to look at me weird for this one. Those of you that saw my December wrap-up will notice that White Album 2 didn't manage to get the top spot there, so why did it it manage it here? To tell the truth, Arpeggio may be my favorite series this year, but White Album 2 is the stronger anime out of the two.
White Album 2 had it all: the nice framing plot, the characters, the character moments, the drama, the soundtrack, and the animation. It is quite possibly one of the strongest series that I've seen in years. As I was reviewing my notes in preparation for this article, I realized that I didn't really have anything that I disliked about the series. It was exactly what it had to be. As I said, I believe White Album 2 may be one of the greatest anime in years, and no one watched it judging from Kotaku's poll. Very disappointing Kotaku readers.
In any case, White Album 2 did extremely well in this awards article. That should be a good indication of how well put together it is.
Other contenders for the top spot were Another, Valvrave the Liberator, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, and Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova.
Dex's Pick: Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova
I've added this category to account for the strange dissonance my mind has created between the greatest things and my favorite things. There is a big difference for me. This dissonance exists in every media because I rarely think the greatest thing is my favorite.
As such, Arpeggio of Blue Steel is my favorite anime of the marathon, but it is not the greatest anime of the marathon. I loved Arpeggio's straightforward plot, characters, and tense action sequences. It passes all its craziness through just enough awesome to void any problems that the craziness might result in. I loved every minute of Arpeggio and I'll be anxious to see if a new season is on the way.
The Big Announcement:
Yep, that's right. A bunch of you asked and I've answered. Anime Marathon 2014 is happening and I've been operating under that assumption for two weeks now. I've redesigned my hastily-created header image from the ground up and changed my blog's logo to match its style. The general format of the marathon is unchanged and the style of the reviews will stay as they are.
I've also reexamined the mission I set out with for 2013 and made some adjustments for 2014. There are three things that you should know about how how things are changing for 2014.
Firstly, I'm lifting the "after 2008" restriction. It made a little sense in the context of Anime Marathon 2013 but now I feel like I want to revisit the series that I watched in the past or missed entirely (much like already happened in the marathon).
Secondly, I'm probably going to alter my strategy to only do a recap every two months. This is different from my monthly approach from before. This will give me more flexibility with how many anime should watch in the given time. The frantic pace I've been keeping needs to be a bit more flexible for the months where I'm on the clock at University.
Thirdly, I'm considering bring back review scores after abolishing them for Anime Marathon 2013. I'll make the final decision by mid-month January.
With that, Anime Marathon 2013 is closed. I won't tag anything else with Anime Marathon 2013. I'd like to briefly thank everyone for your comments, recommendations, and views during this experiment of mine. Without your support, I would never have gotten as far as I have. More to the point, without your support I would never have decided to forgo my original intention to stop these articles when 2014 came.
I hope I'll continue to make content that you all enjoy in 2014. It was fun in 2013 and I hope it'll be just as fun in 2014.
This is part of Anime Marathon 2014, a continuation of Anime Marathon 2013 by popular demand. I'm on a mission to review every anime I can for the TAY community and anyone else that wants to read it. I can never guarantee when these reviews will be posted, but I'll do my best to keep it consistent.
You can see all my articles on Dex's Corner.