Narutaki & Hisui VS. The Best of 2013

As we have been doing these awards posts for seven years now, we are finally getting the hang of it. Though we are sure to disappoint everyone because our categories don’t include the phrases “Worst,” “Most Aggravating,” or “Top-tier Bullshit.” Sadly, we still enjoy watching anime and reading manga so as the title suggests, this is a positive list. Surly, in 2014 we will totally burn out and give everyone the post that they really want. Until then you’ll just have to put up with us and hope for a dark future filled with backhanded compliments, pitch-black cynicism, and deep-rooted hatred for any material from Japan.

Anime of the Year
(The “No, We Didn’t Pick Kill La Kill” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet by Production I.G At one time a season without a sci-Fi anime or two was a rare occurrence but those days are long gone. Now when we get a strong sci-fi series it is quite a treat. So we were all happy to see something like Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. The series had a nice mix of several popular sci-fi concepts in one package that manages to blend those elements into something enjoyable.

This was not a flawless series. There were pacing issues caused by the very slice of life episodes in the middle but they helped develop the atmosphere of the world before the big finale so I found that acceptable. The main characters were fun and Ledo’s transformation was very smooth. If Ledo transformation into something more than just a tool of war was rushed or glacial it would have thrown off the whole show.

Also Chamber was awesome. But I will go into that in another section. All you need to know is that if you ever have an AI run mecha as a companion you are blessed if get one half as nifty as Chamber.

The show also has a nice attention to detail. The way that Ledo learns the language of the crew of the Gargantia could have been easily hand waved away. But Ledo’s progress in learning a new language really helps give the show a strong style. Also the design of Gargantia is well realized which helps a great deal.

If nothing else it is the show that stayed with me the most in a positive sense and that alone is worth its weight in gold.

Runner-up: The Devil is a Part-timer! by White Fox I could have easily made this my choice for “Anime I Unexpectedly Liked.” It was remarkably simply to assume this show was going to be a “based on a light novel” stinker. I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job proves how to be just horrible with the same general premise rather effortlessly.

But The Devil is a Part-timer! is just funny and charming. It has snappy writing, lovely goofy characters, and playful banter with an overall charming whimsy. The show could easily be boring or lame. Some of the best episodes has a nice mixture of action, comedy, and romance in equal measure.

Thankfully they are also far more interested in the show being about things like the character’s work ethics, fantasy tropes, and situational comedy. All of that is far higher priority than showing off the fact that Chi looks amazing in her underwear. The Devil is a Part-timer is not above giving us some fan service (of both sexes) but it makes sure that is just a nice little dessert that compliments the rest of the show as opposed to defining it.

I always enjoy having a weekly comedy anime to look forward to. A show like that make the rest of the week far more enjoyable. Hopefully we shall see more of the MgRonald’s crew in the future.

narutaki_icon_4040 The Eccentric Family by P.A. Works Even crazy families made up of shape-changing tanuki must go through the pain and grief of loss. Such a time is where we find the members of the Shimagamo clan at the beginning of The Eccentric Family after the death of their patriarch. Wading through all those emotions, secrets, and turmoil is where the show goes over the course of 13 episodes.

That description sounds so heavy but really the series feels anything but. In many moments laugh-out-loud wacky and in others delightfully heartrending, the way this series tackles a family coping is downright profound. The portrayal of the complexity of family relationships, even if they are of a supernatural variety, ends up very truthful despite it all.

Unique and endearing through and through, The Eccentric Family was such a surprise, in my mind, nothing else could touch its place in this year’s anime offerings.

Runner-up: Ghost in the Shell ARISE by Production I.G While The Eccentric Family was the anime of 2013 I never knew I wanted, GitS ARISE was easily my most anticipated show of the year. Come on, we all wanted more Section 9 in our lives, right?

I have not been disappointed with their choice to give us a story about how Section 9 came to be. Seeing The Major on opposing sides to characters we know as her closest allies has been a tense joy. And without fail Production I.G has brought to life their cyber future once again.

Anime Woman of the Year
(The “There are Still Good Women in Anime” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Hajime Ichinose from Gatchaman Crowds by Tatsunoko Production Hajime Ichinose was a force of nature in her on show. You cannot ignore her. In many ways she is the show. Everyone either reacts to her or is changed by her. Every review I have ever seen of the show says the same thing: Your reaction to Gatchaman Crowds is entirely dictated by how much to enjoy Hajime. When a show hinges on a single character like that they have to be strong.

Hajime is such an unusual character. She is bold, unfiltered, and moves entirely at her own pace.  She is the first to run at a problem but she loves to listen more than anything else. Her goal is always to understand an enemy more than defeat it. She does not flee and she does not surrender but she is always the last to throw a punch. She is not strict pacifist but she would always rather talk more than annihilate. In a show like Gatchaman that is so unusual. It is not that those types of characters never exist. They are just almost never effectual or compelling.

And she is just an odd duck in general. She thinks outside the box. She falls so far away from your stereotypical archetypes for female characters. She is not the supportive girl, the warrior woman, or the sidekick. She also just stands apart from the stock weird girl for how proactive and effective she is. You always get the feeling of “that is what Hajime would do” and not “that is what that type of character would do.”

I felt I had to name her Woman of the Year if for nothing else how much she stood out. She is a remarkably unique woman who was not easy to pull of. No matter how much you liked her you have to admit she was a bold choice as a main character and that alone is worth praise.  The fact that she was done so well is even more remarkable.

narutaki_icon_4040 Tamako Inada from Silver Spoon by A-1 Pictures Every character in Silver Spoon was a surprise and joy, but Tamako was a standout. She is an intelligent and zealous business woman with her eye on the prize: her farming empire! While her take no prisoners attitude is often played for laughs, there is no denying her abilities and know-how. She offers insights to novice Mikage, just as many others, as she shows off her highly-efficient commercial farming facilities. Tamako is ready to lead and a match for any one who stands in her way.

Anime Man of the Year
(The “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Hidenori Goto from Samurai Flamenco by Manglobe As anyone who has read this blog over the years will tell you my favorite type of male character is the gentle and quiet but strong protector character. I like the other types of male characters but there is a certain joy I get out of modest but dependable characters. Goto fits that bill to the T.

Hidenori Goto puts up with a whole bunch of BS in Samurai Flamenco. Masayoshi Hazama’s hero antics are hard enough to deal with but adding Mari Maya to the mix would even test the patience of the Buddha. He is hardly a saint in that respect. He gets angry and at times cannot handle all the garbage thrown at him. In the end when push comes to shove he always shows up and helps just in the nick of time.  At times his common sense and firm convictions are the only thing that keep the rest of the cast out of serious trouble.

Also you have to feel sort of bad with him being in a long distance relationship with his unseen girlfriend. He tries his best to keep the flame of their bond going despite the strangeness going on in his life.  And if you’re looking at the BL angle he is remarkably sympathetic to Hazama despite the fact that their relationship could get him in a good deal of trouble.

He is a solid and dependable guy with a bit of snark but not an overbearing cynicism. You can see that part of him has that same simple-minded altruism as Samurai Flamenco but it is tempered with a real world practicality. Even when Hazama is straying from the path of righteousness and honor we see Goto unwavering from the higher road.

He might not be the flashiest hero but he is one of the best none the less.

narutaki_icon_4040 Yasaburo Shimogamo from The Eccentric Family by P.A. Works Yasaburo is a man who is holding everyone together whether he realizes it or not. He takes every weird request, strange family member, and, later, difficult discovers in stride with a quiet strength (and a bit of detached sarcasm) few could muster. Though he is struggling through just as much pain as the others, his way of getting through is different. You could say he is internalizing, and not grieving, but really he is processing everything in his own way. The Eccentric Family is truly a varied group of people but none of them could make it to the otherside without Yasaburo.

Best Mascot Character
(The “Man’s Best Friend ” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 K6821 Chamber from Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet by Production I.G When we watched the first episode of Gargantia I think everyone’s reaction was the same: “I wish I had a robot like Chamber.” If that was not your reaction I’m not sure we can be friends. Your heart that cannot love robots and is clearly darkened with evil.

First of all while Chamber is a standard production model powered suit out in the deep space war against the Hideauze alien menace he is a mechanical god several major tech levels above anything presently found on the planet that he and Ledo have landed on. But even if the were not a silicon shinigami he would still be invaluable just for how resourceful and dedicated he is to Ledo on a strange new world. The fact that he quickly acts as an interrupter between Ledo and the natives makes in irreplaceable.

Also Ledo and Chamber have an excellent relationship. They are not as much master and servant as two  comrades in the same army. That amiable partnership of the two military officers makes both of them better characters. Ledo and Chamber both start of so mechanical so having them interact in a more familial way lets us empathize with both of them before they are awakened to warmer personalities and a more natural interaction with the crew of the Gargantia.

As the series goes on he grows just as much as his human companion. It would be easy to keep the machine as a static support character and have Ledo do all the changes to progress the story. But we see  Chamber question his old routine and beliefs just as much as his pilot does. Both robot and human start of only seeing the universe as the Galactic Alliance of Humankind want them to see it. By the end of the series Chamber does things he would have never done when they first landed.

That is a sort of magic in of itself.

narutaki_icon_4040 Guts from Kill la Kill by Studio Trigger To me, the above picture says it all.

Best Anime Nicknamed Gundam Boyfriend
(The “This Needed Its Own Category” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Gundam Build Fighters by Sunrise After the wasted potential that was Gundam AGE there was a bit of a bitter taste in the mouths of Gundam fandom in general. AGE wanted to capture a younger fanbase while still entertaining the established older fanatics. Sadly by the time it ended it did neither very well. But  Gundam Build Fighter picks up the mantle where it predecessor left off.

Gundam Build Fighters has the distinct feeling of a kids sports show. It pretty much is a kids sports show. There is no deep examination of the price of war on soldiers and civilians, situational ethics in a time where there are no right answers, or the survivals of rag-tag group with the odds against them. It is a show about friendship, hard work, and awesome merchandisable toy robots.

I succeeds because it does the kids sports show so well. The cast is colorful and lovable, the story moves along at a brisk pace, and there is some genuine heart and soul behind the calculated advertising for model kits. It strikes all the right cords with but the younger fans they hope to court and the older fans who just want robot action and callbacks to older shows.

Gundam Build Fighters is just more fun than it has any right to be. And just in the nick of time.

narutaki_icon_4040 Gundam Build Fighters by Sunrise I have seen this series called Gundam Best Friends, too, which I also approve of. I never want this show to end: a magical prince coming to our world and becoming obsessed with Gunpla; Ramba Ral on the side lines narrating matches; Zaku Amazing; defeating the Yakuza with Gunpla; getting dates with Gunpla; Gunpla being the best thing the world has ever known. You get it, you are watching it, aren’t you??? Sure, I could complain about the pacing at times, but I just don’t care.

Best Ensemble Cast
(The “Someday, Together, We’ll Shine” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Chihayafuru 2 by Madhouse Let us be perfectly honest. When push comes to shove competitive karuta is sort of alien game to anyone who does not speak Japanese with a decent degree of fluency. But that has never stopped me from enjoying mahjong anime. A good sports anime will succeed on two levels. One there should be a level of suspense even if the rules come off as Calvinball to the viewer. The second is the suspense should be real because you care about the characters involved. And Chihayafuru has the cast to pull that off.

Chihaya is the Monkey D. Luffy of the show. Not the sharpest knife in the draw but highly skilled in what she does best. Also she is hardly the prefect leader but she has such passion, enthusiasm, and unbreakable trust that people are drawn to her despite any of her other flaws. The rest of the team works together well bringing a bit of their own magic to the team. Not everyone is even in Chihaya’s league. But they all add something and not just when they play karuta. Everyone has their role in supporting each other emotionally from Taichi’s rock solid dependability to Kanade’s warm if slightly fiery support. They all help each other grown while they pull themselves up as well. I was a little worried about Sumire Hanano and Akihiro Tsukuba as new additions to the group. They both seemed like unnecessary spanners in the works. But they thankfully settled into their own place in the circle and made the cast stronger with their added dynamic.

It also helps that karuta has a team play part of tournaments and a separate individual element. This lets the everyone come together as a team while also being able to shine, rise, and even fail against players of their own skill level. It makes sure they everyone can stand out as their own person as much as they blend as part of a greater machine. That is something you don’t get in a lot of sports anime and it is a unique element of the game from a storytelling perspective. It really lets Chihayafuru stand out even in a genre know for its great ensemble casts.

(OK Ink. You can release my Saber figures you had taken hostage now. I did what you asked.)

narutaki_icon_4040 Silver Spoon by A-1 Pictures I just want to take a minute to once again say how wrong I was about Silver Spoon. I went in expecting this to be a snoozefest slice-of-the-farm series but I was wrong wrong WRONG. It won me over instantly with the colorful cast swirling around city slicker Mikage. Everyone contributes some piece of expertise or knowledge on farming or farm life; each character has their strengths which allows the series to focus a little on each of them from time to time. In all honesty, everyone interests me more than Mikage but he is catalyst for everyone to show off!

Anime I Unexpectedly Liked
(The “Olive and White Chocolate Panini” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Encouragement of Climb by 8-Bit I could have picked The Devil is a Part-timer! as my choice this year. It was fairly surprising when it turned out to be really good. But comedies are the easiest type of show to surprise you on how good they are out of nowhere.  A slice of life show about High School girls learning about mountain climbing has some fairly dark horse odds for being bearable let alone good.

But Encouragement of Climb succeeds because its episodes are short. It realizes that this is a premise that can easily be stretched far too thin therefore it makes sure it never wears out its welcome. The episodes are extremely short but they always have a nice bit of story to them. Each 5-minute episode packs in some information about mountain climbing as well as some growth in one or more of the characters. It is nothing huge. Aoi Yukimura does not go from an alcoholic wastrel to the leader of a cultural and spiritual revolution. It is not that sort of show. But at the same time she is also not the same girl she was at the start of the series. For a slice of life show that is amazing.

I think the highest praise I can give this show its that I actually looked forward to a new episode every week. And with a 5-minute slice of life show that is a miracle in of  itself.

narutaki_icon_4040 The Devil is a Part-timer! by White Fox Based on a light novel. Based on a fantasy comedy light novel. No one was more surprised than I when this became one of my favorite watches of the spring. Each week I looked forward to its great comedic timing and Maoh’s hilariously endearing devotion to his fast food job. I’m not sure if I’d like to see more anime of this or not, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Favorite Opening
(The “Opening Most Likely to be Impossible
to Find on YouTube” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Attack on Titan Opening #1: “Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen” by Linked Horizon For awhile everyone was asking, “What is going to be the next big show in anime?” Attack on Titan was the answer. And that was in no small part thanks to the amazing opening to the show. The earworm song, the stunning visuals, and the entire package that could so easily be modified for a million and one parodies and tribute videos. It seemed like an hour did not go by without someone posting a new Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen meme video. It was an opening that was being seen by people who did not normally watch anime on any regular basis. So that alone made me put it here on the list. The fact that it is really good is just a bonus.

narutaki_icon_4040 Kuroko’s Basketball S2 Opening #1: “The Other self” by GRANRODEO Just as their openings before S2, GRANRODEO puts so much energy in this intro it reves you up for every episode. The music combines with the animation that builds up until shot after shot of slick on the court action finishes it off. I’m very excited they are coming back to do S2’s second opening as well. I nearly picked the opening GRANRODEO did for Free!, they should be the go to guys for sports openings I guess!

Favorite Ending
(The “I Don’t Just Skip to the Next Episode” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 The Devil is a Part-timer! Ending #1: “Gekka” by Nano Ripe I’m going to admit it. The ending is sort of just here because I really like looking at Chiho Sasaki. But in my defense she is rather easy on the eyes. It is a fun little ending that puts her in a bunch of different outfits. While there is the obvious appeal of her in a swimsuit at the beach that is not the only thing we get. We see her in a bunch of different outfits on some very visually striking settings with a clock motif running through all of them. The song ties it all together and really makes it feel like Chiho’s ending. It was a nice little bonus at the end of every episode it was on.

narutaki_icon_4040 Space Brothers Ending #7: “New World” by Kasarinchu Space Brothers is just a normal part of life now. Going on as long as it has means a lot of opening and ending changes, many good ones, but New World clicked rather nicely with its light calming melody. Because there has been a lot of heartwrenching moments of late, this ending feels necessary each time it comes on.

Favorite Sequel or Ongoing Anime
(The “Never Gonna Give You Up” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 A Certain Scientific Railgun S by J.C.Staff I was once introduced at a dinner as a somewhat Japanese styled fan. (That was not meant as an insult.) I think that can best be seen by the fact that I love the A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun interconnected universes. Since there is a better chance of us getting an English translated version of the Orpheus no Mado manga than the Index Light Novels I appreciate that I can continue the story via the anime.

Railgun S was an interesting season. The first half was an unexpected look at the Sister’s arc from Mikoto Misaka’s perspective. Despite how important she was to that story we don’t see much of what she was doing during that arc in the original version. It was nice to see the lead up to Touma’s involvement and why exactly Mikoto was at her’s wits end by the time we see her in the original telling. Also that fight with Accelerator was worth seeing again. The second part bookends the season well and builds nicely on the themes of the first half. I think I also just liked the powered suits in the final fight. A Certain Scientific Railgun just needs more good guys in powered suits and not just villains.

It also might be the only time in the series Judgement and Anti-Skill are not totally useless jokes. Amazing.

The only question now is are we going to get more Index next or are they going to start adapting the Accelerator manga before then.

narutaki_icon_4040 Kuroko’s Basketball by Production I.G Having Seiren High’s basketball team back on my screen puts a big ole smile on my face. Even if there have been some sad moments over the season so far, I’m happy to see the second-years get highlighted. Teppei is kind of eclipsing everyone as the most awesome dude. The second half is starting which means we’ll be seeing more of the Generation of Miracles as the Winter Cup approaches so I’m very much looking forward to more.

Favorite Sequel or Ongoing Manga
(The “First Thing I Read Every Week” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Hayate the Combat Butler by Kenjirou Hata If anyone knows me they would tell you this was the only choice I could have picked. If you asked me what my second favorite ongoing manga was I would really struggle with the answer.  There are so many great choices. But there is only title I will stop everything to read whenever I have the chance. The one title that brightens my week like nothing else is Hayate.

This year has been really strong. We got some real plot developments with much more information about the King’s Jewels and Hisui Hatsushiba finally stepping out of the shadows. Also a good deal of character growth out of Nagi in the doujinshi arc which has also made a substantial effort to catch the manga up with the anime. Also we have gotten rid of one of Nagi’s main romantic rivals. Excellent.

After a conversation over IM I realized that there are already 39 volumes of Hayate. I happily look forward to another 39. It is comfort food of the highest quality.

narutaki_icon_4040 Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches by Miki Yoshikawa We’ve only talked about this manga nonstop for the last month or so (not that there wasn’t talk and love before that) therefore I don’t think I really need to go into why it is so great here. Once again, thank you Crunchyroll & Kodansha for making my need for Yamada-kun easily accessible.

Best U.S. Anime Release
(The “NIS Will Probably Always Win This” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Umineko: When They Cry by Studio Deen from NIS America While the Umineko anime was hardly the greatest adaptation of Umineko that has ever existed I enjoyed it well enough. You just have to view it as a companion piece to the sound novel and not something you watch on its own to get the best version of the story. That aside the US release of the anime was quite incredible. The packaging of the box and DVDs are reminiscent of the anime boom back in the 2000s without being overly extravagant. The gorgeous full color book included with the series seems like something you would get with an expensive Japanese limited edition set.You can see a nice unboxing video here.

The best part is that for all the Aniplex quality in the release it is not at Aniplex prices. I think we can all appreciate that.

narutaki_icon_4040 Daily Lives of High School Boys by Sunrise from NIS America A special treatment for the best comedy anime of last year was necessary, and so it was done. With what has become status quo, and reason I want all my favorites released by NIS, an over-sized box with hardcover book accompanied the DVDs.

Best U.S. Manga Release
(The “Proving You Don’t Always Want the E-book” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko from Vertical, Inc. I have to hand it to Vertical. They are the Mu La Flaga of manga publishing. They are able to make the  impossible possible. Gundam: The Origin has always seemed like one of those series no one could sell despite the fact that it seems like an easy pitch. The easiest way to see how hard it is to sell this series is the fact it failed in France. FRANCE. The conventional wisdom would be if you can’t sell it in France then you can’t sell it anywhere outside of Japan.

But with some aggressive marketing and a stellar release the series has been chugging along quite well. It is not changing the manga market forever but it is turning a profit and with Gundam: The Origin that is like being a best seller for two months.

But all of that would be impossible with anything less than a top-notch release. The books are substantial and well made. The color pages are crisp and clean. The extras are amazing contributions from some of the top creators in Japan (and the 81diver guy.) Whenever you buy a volume you feel like your buying the definitive version of that series.

Plus the manga itself is spectacular. It is everything that was great about the original series with the best parts emphasized, the weakness smoothed over, and the plot holes filled in. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko has really taken what he and Yoshiyuki Tomino did back in 1979 and improved with 20/20 hindsight. Also that means more Sayla.  I always approve of anything that gives me more Sayla.

The only sad thing is they cannot get Macross: The First. I would love to see what Vertical could do with that series given their treatment with this.

narutaki_icon_4040 Heart of Thomas by Hagio Moto from Fantagraphics This tome sits impressively on my shelf. Not only does it look pretty, but the story set down in the pages is a classic, a seminal work by the stupendous Hagio Moto who still goes under-published in English. While I don’t expect that to really change, I’m glad we were able to finally have this grand, melodramatic tale. 

Favorite Past Anime I Finally Finished
(The “One Less Title in the Pile of Shame” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Heavy Metal L-Gaim by Nippon Sunrise Another piece of the Tomino library finished. Heavy Metal L-Gaim was such an odd series. More than any other series it is the clearest example of light and dark Tomin0 is full on conflict. Even the drastic tone change of Double Zeta is nothing compared to how this series would flip-flop several times an episode.

That said I did enjoy the series. It is clearly a flawed work but as an insight into Tomino as a director it is a fascinating piece with the contrast between his extremes shedding some light on the intricacies of his style. Also the show’s influence on Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and The Five Star Stories is impossible to ignore. It is an interesting curiosity for mecha fans but an invaluable resource for anyone trying to grok the Bald Wizard.

Also if you wanted to see what would happen if Tomino directed Tenchi Muyo! years before Ryoko Hakubi was ever animated than all you have to do is sit down and watch this.

narutaki_icon_4040 Fullmetal Alchemist by Studio Bones *insert obligatory comment that is incredulous of me never having watched this* Honestly, I’m was kind of incredulous of myself considering how much anime I’ve watched and how long I’ve been watching. Still, every once in a while you let a great show slide by you. I stayed away because the love was so strong! I wanted to judge it fairly so many, many (really too many) years later I started and then stopped. Finally at the end of 2012 and into 2013, I finished this incredible show and truly believe it deserves all the praise it got and continues to get. Now I need to watch Brotherhood!

Favorite Past Manga I Finally Finished
(The “Ha, You Probably Still Haven’t Read This ” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Shonan Junai Gumi by Tohru Fujisawa It seemed like when Tokyopop closed its doors English-speaking fans of Tohru Fujisawa would never be able to get the full story of Eikichi Onizuka’s back story. While GTO was a beloved classic of anime and manga fandom the story that spawned it never got the same love.

But Vertical swooped in and published the last few volumes of this series give a wonderful bit of closure to the fans who bought the original ten volumes. It is a shame this series did not do better for them.  The translation and presentation of the final five books was leaps and bounds better than what we originally got. If they had been able to go back and clean up the first ten books I think it would have made a world of difference.

If nothing else I hope this award alone gets some people to give this series another look or at least  convince them to go and read Onizuka’s further adventures in GTO: 14 Days in Shonan.

narutaki_icon_4040 Saturn Apartments by Hisae Iwaoka This seemed like an obvious choice since I also made it Manga of the Month for December. Quiet and simple as it grows into a look at social systems and class, Saturn Apartments is a heartening look at living and working just above the Earth. Through the eyes of young, bright, and hardworking Mitsu the job of window washers has never looked more inspiring. 

Hottest Anime Woman
(The “I Respect Myself Enough Not
to Buy a Hug Pillow of You” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Chiho Sasaki from The Devil is a Part-timer! by White Fox I think I shocked Kate with this pick. That might not seem that impressive but she can usually guess my picks with an almost oracular like precision. She sometimes know my picks before I do. So when I went with Chiho over Emi she was a little surprised.

But the thing is I just found Chiho as much more fun character. Emi is not a bad pick from Kate. She has pink hair, she is a swordsman, and she is fairly competent and a bit sarcastic. She just comes off a bit more Hinagiku and a little less Utena than I would like.

One the other hand Is is really hard not to root for Chiho. She is just so earnest and adorable with her crush on Sadao. And she is not a complete doormat, shrinking violet, or pretty princess waiting for love to sweep her off her feet. She is politely aggressive in her pursuit of her love interest.

If anything her main problem (To use a further Hayate reference) is she is the Ayumu Nishizawa of the group. She is someone who gets caught up in the adventures of more glamorous people but is sadly a power level or two below the main cast. But much like Saten Ruiko she shines exactly because she manages to keep up despite not having any powers.

Also this category is Hottest Anime Woman and she fills out a bathing suit quite nicely as the picture below shows. I just wanted to mention there was more to her appeal than just some swerve to her curve.

narutaki_icon_4040 Bellows from Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet by Production I.G I liked Bellows immediately; her physical labor occupation, her knowledge of mechanics, and role as leader of her salvage group made her a can-do lady in the first episode. That red hair and tough attitude stepped her up to staying in my mind all year. 

Hottest Anime Man
(The “Real Gundam Boyfriend” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Ichiro Komaba from Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa I guess when I pick for hottest anime character in general, no matter which gender, I usually ask who would I like to date the most our of the characters we saw this season. Ichiro Komaba seems like the best choice.

He is a solidly built guy. As a pitcher looking to join the major leagues he has a firm athletic build so he has muscles everywhere you can have muscles but at the same time he is not too bulky so he can still be agile on the field.

Also like I said in my Anime Man of the Year award I like the strong silent type in my male characters who are really passionate at their core. As we see while Komaba comes off as stoic he is clearly a man with ambition, drive, and kindness.

And if that is not sexy I don’t know what is.

narutaki_icon_4040 Makoto Tachibana from Free! by Kyoto Animation Is it really any surprise that a boy from Free! would end up here? Kyoto animation went all out crafting these swimmers’ bodies. But no no, Makoto’s tall, lean build wasn’t the only great thing about him honest! Captain of their ragged swim team and best friends with Haruka, he proves himself to have a sweet and gentle heart over the course of the series. His quiet nature and simple smile compounded everything to make him too cute to resist; I would have picked him even if he didn’t have his shirt off 75% of the time!

Favorite Canon Pairing
(The “Most Heavily Armed Ship” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Ryu Yamada and Urara Shiraishi from Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches by Miki Yoshikawa One of Miki Yoshikawa’s best skills is slowly letting her characters fall in love with each other in both an utterly goofy yet almost organic manner. So while there might be magical witches and warlocks, body swapping, and school conspiracies going on you still go, “I see why these two crazy kids would fall in love.”

The best part of their relationship is the contrast in their personalities and how Miki Yoshikawa connects them through those differences. Yamada is loud, impulsive, violent, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. Shiraishi on the other hand is quiet, contemplative, and intellectual. At first it is easy to assume that she is stoic as compared to Yamada. But as the series goes on we see she is quite emotional and passionate. It is just that all her feelings are subtly expressed. If you know what to look for they are both people who can be naked in their expression. One of them is just a bit easier to read.

But they complement each other nicely. Instead of their opposites making them clash they often fill holes in the other’s life. There are times when a no holds bared reaction from Yamada is the only solution. At the same time Shiraishi’s ability to hold everyone back to think things through is often just as valuable for saving the day.

That sort of team work makes them the best couple.

narutaki_icon_4040 Yasaburo Shimogamo and Benten from The Eccentric Family Sure, yeah, they should probably go in a “this is kind of messed up and will probably never work” category, but we didn’t have one okay?

Yasaburo doesn’t afraid of Benten. It is not confidence that allows him to approach her, but more of an understanding that they know each other, they share a past. And when they look at each other, it is like they are seeing right through the other. Benten has a weakness for Yasaburo, and he is the only one in the series which she does favors for.

Whether it was a good idea or not, Yasaburo and Benten’s mutual attraction throughout the series can’t be denied.

Favorite Non-Canon Pairing
(The “That’s Totally My Fake Ship” Award)

hisui_icon_4040 Sadao Maoh and Chiho Sasaki from The Devil is a Part-timer! by White Fox Look we all know that the Demon King and Emi Yusa are going to end up together. It is just the way this sort of series works. And overall despite being a bit annoyingly tsundere Emi is fun character so it is not a huge crime that they are the show’s OTP. But I just enjoy Sadao & Chiho relationship more.

Plus I think they look better together aesthetically. That is a shallow reason but whatever. It is shipping. There are no rules other than that!

narutaki_icon_4040 Pinion and Bellows from Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet by Production I.G Since I am pretty sure Bellow was in love with Pinion’s brother, I can imagine this actually happening but it hasn’t gone anywhere near it yet so they are here in my imagination category. 

2 thoughts on “Narutaki & Hisui VS. The Best of 2013

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