Following on from last week’s top five list, that named my favourite video games of 2013, I have decided to write up another chart this time focusing on the other subject my blog covers – namely anime. As was the case with the games top five, my selections are based on titles that I witnessed for the first time during 2013 (even if they happen to have been released in prior years.) So without further ado, let’s get on with the show.
5th) Arrietty: We can’t have a list mentioning the cream of the anime crop without including a Studio Ghibli movie can we? To satisfy that quota I present to you Arrietty, which is Japan’s take on Mary Horton’s The Borrowers. The melancholy storytelling may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the film’s sublime animation and attention to detail. With the legendary Hayao Miyzaki on the cusp of retirement it is good to see that Studio Ghibli can still produce quality even when someone else is taking up the directorial duties.
4th) Wolf Children: From the director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (which happens to be one of my favourite animated movies ever) comes a tale of a young widow who moves to the countryside to raise her family of two children, who can morph between human and wolf form at will. Director Mamoru Hosoda’s last effort (Summer Wars) didn’t wow me, but I am pleased to report that Wolf Children sees him return to form. I cannot help but admire the movie’s lead named Hana who always manages to confront life’s challenges with a smile on her face. She really proves that mothers can be just as heroic as cops, fire-fighters and mecha pilots.
3rd) Anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day: Sadly I don’t believe this series has been released in the UK, so I am grateful to a fellow anime reviewer who brought the show to my attention. Anohana revolves around Menma, a ghost girl, who one day appears in front of her childhood friend Jinta. In order to pass on Menma asks Jinta to grant her dying wish, but to do so Jinta will first have to reunite with a number of former pals who he has drifted apart from over the years. It’s a touching tale that spans for eleven episodes and concludes in a sweet finale that will test your tear ducts, much like Clannad did.
2nd) Persona 4 – The Animation: Incredibly Persona 4 almost succeeded in becoming both my favourite video game and anime of 2013. When I first heard that the Atlus JRPG was being turned into a cartoon I had my doubts, as most video game adaptations tend to be quite poor. Against the grain Persona 4 however managed to transition from being an excellent video game to a thoroughly entertaining anime. It’s impressive how they managed to condense so much of the game’s narrative into a mere twenty-six episodes, complete with excellent music, demon fighting action and high school comedy. The series is currently being re-printed in the UK, as the original run sold out, so clearly I am not the only one who liked it.
1st) Steins;Gate: Topping my list of 2013 anime titles is the tale of Kyoma, a mad scientist who manages to fashion a time machine out of a humdrum microwave. My fondness for Steins;Gate isn’t a surprise, as I’m a sucker for good time travel stories, although the show’s biggest appeal ends up being its likable cast of characters. As you would expect from a series whose roots stem from a visual novel it’s the relationships between Kyoma’s small circle of friends that carries the series. Kyoma borders on being an annoying loon, but once you see the hardships he goes through, to save his friends from the detrimental effects caused by alterations to the past, you cannot help but root for the guy. Needless to say, the show gets a thumbs up for me and I cannot wait to check out its follow-up movie at some point in the future.
So there you have it folks, my top five animes of 2013. It wasn’t an easy list to compile given how much good stuff got released in the UK last year. Against the odds the anime industry in Britain continues to grow, which is no mean feat given that it is hidden from the mainstream due to its absence from terrestrial television. So dear reader, what anime shows have you enjoyed watching recently and which shows are you looking forward to checking out in 2014? Let me know in the comments section below.