The best of 2013.
It took a while, but it’s done now.
(Minor spoilers ahead)
Youtube Video (Please watch this instead of reading if possible)
Hello ladies and gentlemen, Entrav here, and it’s time to look back on 2013 and see the best of what it had to offer. 2013 is the first year that I have followed many anime week to week, and the only year so far that I find appropriate to give a top 10 list to because I have seen a decent amount of shows. This video will contain what I think are the top 10 best anime that ended in 2013. Yes, this will include shows that started in the fall of 2012. Obviously, I haven’t watched every single show, and the individual placements are very subjective. Please keep in mind that some of the rankings are very close, and if I were to arrange my list again at another time, they may shift. Instead of looking at them too much individually, think of this video like a package of the best that 2013 has to offer. Though, my anime of the year, will probably not change. It really won’t. I highly suggest that you watch the Youtube video because it’s what I spent all my time and effort on. That’s why this top 10 took so long to make, but hopefully you can see why. Anyways, enough of that, LET’S GET STARTED.
Number 10 – Uchouten Kazoku
If there is one word I can use to describe Uchouten Kazoku it has to be bizarre. The show mainly revolves around the death of Shimogamo Souichirou who is the father of our four young protagonists. But the thing is that, he was eaten by humans. Yes, he may be a tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog), but the fact is that he and all the other tanuki act like human beings with the difference being that they can transform to look human. Throughout the series, it’s clear that there are humans who don’t even know these tanuki are as intelligent as they are even though it’s logically impossible. I understand that this show is bizarre in this sense, but this unsettling idea never fully disappeared as I watched the series. It’s almost like a human being eating another human being, and my mind just couldn’t fully accept that fact which hindered my enjoyment of the show.
However, watching it a second time, it was a bit easier for me to accept that fact. Once I was able to focus less on that and more on the effect the death has on the family members and how this strange society thrives, I was able to appreciate the show more. The theme of the importance of family is nicely developed alongside the idea of the “foolish blood” that runs through the family’s veins. It delivers the message of allowing oneself to have fun, be free, live an interesting life, and laugh troubles away very well. It brings a positive vibe to an otherwise depressing premise which suits both the setting and the animation style well. For me, this show needed a lot of getting used to, and it really isn’t my type of show which is why I don’t rate it as highly as others do. Nonetheless, I can still appreciate the uplifting story and the eccentric cast of characters. Indeed, characters like the foolhardy Yasaburou to the quirky Akadama to the enigmatic Benten and the relationships between each of them are the reasons why I continued to watch this show for the cast is unusually fascinating. It may not be my type of show, but I can’t deny that for what it does with all its eccentricity, it does well. Do check it out if you haven’t seen it because it may just be your thing. And besides, this show does need more exposure.
Number 9 – Psycho-Pass
Welcome to the dystopian world of Psycho-Pass. This is a show written by the well-known Urobutcher, and as you’d expect, he lives up to his name by delivering a series that is thematically deep and full of tension. Some of you are probably wondering why it’s not higher up on my list. Alas, there are a few problems I have with this show that prohibit me from doing so. The biggest problem I have with Psycho-Pass is its concluding arc. I don’t mind that it is not climactic for not all well-done endings have to be, but there is a shift of focus to another objective that detaches the series from its main conflict which is between the Sibyl System and Makishima Shougo. It just feels sloppily tacked on, and quite unfulfilling as a conclusion. Then, there are the unnecessary quotes that Makishima often uses which is nothing short of pretentious. However, however… there are still a lot of things going for this series that allow it on my top 10.
The protagonist Kougami Shinya matches the antagonist Makishima Shougo very well. Not to mention the fact that Makishima is a great antagonist overall especially since his type of character fits so well into this kind of setting. And while the show does take a while to get started, the climax near the middle of the series is incredibly satisfying and climactic, bringing into fruition what was hinted upon in the first half of the anime with great intensity. The show is also very atmospheric, and when the story picks up, so does the tension. As a result, you can really feel the thrill as you progress throughout the series. Of course, we can’t forget about this show’s thought-provoking nature. There are plenty of deeper themes surrounding morality and the state of the society that the characters live in. It may be more black and white than a show like Shin Sekai Yori, but there are still enough dilemmas related to the job that the protagonists take among other things which make it thematically deep nevertheless.
Number 8 – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
In your face and full of testosterone, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a show that doesn’t hold back and bombards you with whatever it can with no subtlety to speak of. And while I think subtlety is something to be appreciated in anime, the bombastic method of portrayal is a major part of what makes Jojo, Jojo, and why I enjoyed watching this show. Certainly, the nature of the show is not for everyone as it narrates just about everything leaving not much for you to deduce yourself. There are also plenty of moments in the anime that’s intentionally melodramatic, but all these things are part of the charm of this show. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure tries to be as in your face and as high-flown as possible. From the FABULOUS stances to the MANLY moments full of manliness, Jojo doesn’t shy itself away from what it really is and instead embraces it beautifully.
The way the narrator narrates just about everything is actually hilarious. It’s dramatic to a degree that’s actually made me laugh loudly on certain occasions. The major characters in this anime all have a certain flair to them that supports the over the top nature of the show. Whether it be the magnificent commander Stroheim or the badass antagonist that is Wamuu or the trickster that is Joseph Joestar, who is arguably one of the best characters of the year, the cast never ceases to maintain an intensity fitting for this kind of show. Almost all of the characters, including the antagonists, but especially some protagonists are extremely likable, and I couldn’t help but be attached to them as they faced all kinds of adversity. The show also isn’t afraid to completely destroy your attachment towards a character leaving you only shedding manly tears. The story itself is simple, but it is told well with enough through its twists and surprising developments to keep you on your toes, and is most certainly not predictable. All of this is then wrapped up by the action itself, which isn’t the most well animated, but the content of the action scenes and how they all play out are creative and climactic. Most of this is thanks to Joseph Joestar’s method of fighting which is nothing short of awesome. The characters don’t get absurd power-ups out of nowhere; the fights are actually quite tactical and clever especially when Joseph is on-screen. I loved the style of the show, and it was very satisfying seeing everything play out the way they did at the end leaving enough room for a continuation, but giving a solid, solid conclusion. What an awesomely manly show.
Number 7 – Hataraku Maou-sama!
Hataraku Maou-sama came as a big surprise in the spring of 2013. This anime is by far the best comedy of this year, and an episode doesn’t go by that I don’t laugh in. While the anime is humorous without relying on slap stick humor, it really shines when it blends the more serious side of the story with the humor. The first few minutes of this anime has a serious tone, and it almost seemed like the series would throw that more serious side away, but thankfully it does not. Instead, it utilizes the fantasy-side where all the seriousness is and blends it very well with the humor to create some scenes that are both awesome and hilarious. This is no mean feat. Mixing humor and seriousness as well as Hataraku does is very difficult to do, and this show never fails to implement them both so that one aspect only adds on top of the other instead of taking away from it.
The way Maou Sadao, a Demon King, is working at MgRonalds and is accepting of the life in modern day Tokyo is part of the humor of this show, and while some others may find the transition too quick, I think it’s purposefully done so for humor and it worked well for me. The contrast between how the characters should be according to how they were back in their original world, Ente Isla, goes counter to what they’re like in Tokyo which adds a great deal to the comedy of this anime. There are plenty of little bits here and there that you may notice pertaining to this which adds greatly to the experience. Above all, I had a fantastic time watching the likable characters, especially the best mom that is ALSIEL, do some strange things unlike their demon selves. This is comedy done right.
Number 6 – Space Battleship Yamato 2199
Damn, do I love some space opera goodness. There’s something in this anime that I think needs to be utilized more often and that is the sense of scale. Everything from the setting which is on a galactic level to the mission of travelling across the galaxy feels grand. The cast in this show is quite large, and it is to this anime’s advantage for everyone has a role to play and each have a somewhat different viewpoint on their mission. Due to the alien attack on Earth, the characters are all affected in different ways whether it be trying to avenge their family or trying to make Earth inhabitable once more. These motives come into play as the series progresses making for some interesting developments not only story-wise, but character interaction-wise as well. The overarching story of saving Earth by going to a faraway planet to obtain technology that will make Earth’s surface livable once more after the alien bombardments is quite straightforward. And while there are episodic arcs that encompass a distinct theme the show tries to get across, it never becomes too detached from the overall storyline. The very fact that this anime has a final destination is what allows it to trek a smooth path to the conclusion which is nothing short of incredibly satisfying. It portrays the messages of death, life, moving on, acceptance, and so on well without needing to resort to clichés. In fact, the captain, who is a fantastic character, often looks at a picture that we don’t get any background information of at all. No comments are made when he looks at the picture, but none need to be made. Silent, but still evocative moments like these are plentiful in this anime which make the journey even more enjoyable.
Plenty of times people complain about poorly done CGI in anime, but none will be able to complain with what Space Battleship Yamato 2199 has to offer animation-wise. From the detailed battleships to the laser cannons delivering one shot after another to the giant laser beams, the animation, and more specifically the space battles in this anime are superb. This anime sets a standard for utilization of CGI in anime and it was a blast seeing battleship Yamato venture through the galaxy with stunning visuals like this. This anime sold very well in Japan, and rightfully so for it is a solid experience all-round even though there is an unnecessary deus ex machina at the end. It’s a shame that not too many people in the west have watched this series, so if you think you’ll enjoy a solid space opera, please do check this out.
SPECIAL MENTION: AOTYAYEY VALVRAVE
Before we move on to the top five, we must first talk about the most crazily entertaining anime of the year. I know, I’m cheating the top 10 by doing this, but it just doesn’t feel right putting this show anywhere but in a special category because it’s Valvraaaaaave. Everything from the craziness of MOSES, COFFEE, ERU ERUFU and many more make this show an absolute pleasure to watch. There are probably some of you who haven’t seen this show, so let me describe this show in a single sentence for you. Valvrave is about BIBLICAL SPACE VAMPIRES PLOTTING TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE WORLD THROUGH THE USE OF SHINING FINGER MECHS THAT SEEM TO RUN ON NVIDIA AND ARE PILOTED BY VAMPIRIC IMMORTAL TEENAGERS WHO ARE FACING OFF AGAINST SPACE VAMPIRE NAZI CHARLES THE FIFTH WITH THE HELP OF THE ALMIGHTY PROPHET THAT IS NONE OTHER THAN ERU ERUFU. ERU ERUFU? ERU ERUFU. (You just have to watch the Youtube video for this part. I MUST SAY I OUTDID MYSELF THERE)
The fact is that this show is extremely entertaining. The episodic climaxes will keep you wanting more, and holy shit was I more hyped than I ever was when season 1 ended. God damn, that was a hype-inducing cliffhanger of a season finale. Though, it’s quite disappointing that Valvrave doesn’t close up its plot points with as much craziness, excitement, and absurdity as it first delivers them. Moreover, instead of fleshing out a season 3, Sunrise decides to make Buddy Fucking Complex. But still, Valvrave is definitely worth a watch. I would tell you to sit back, relax, and turn your brain off, but more likely than not, you’ll be laughing your ass off at some moments, dropping your jaw at how fucking amazing ERU ERUFU is, and despairing at the fact that you didn’t follow this week to week because ERU FUCKING ERUFU.
Number 5 – Kyousougiga
There are some series that make full use of anime as a medium, and Kyousougiga is one of those series. Much like Uchouten Kazoku, this anime is bizarre, but it is a kind of bizarre I can more readily accept. There’s symbolism, motifs, and so on, but I think the major aspects of this show are its overwhelming positivity and its fantastical portrayal. This is a show brimming with happiness, and understandably so considering that the underlying themes are the rebirth of a family, the strengthening of bonds, and embracing life instead of death. That’s not to say that this anime has no sadness or despair for one can never truly appreciate happiness until he or she experiences the opposite. Kyousougiga makes it clear from the very first episode that this is the rebirth of a family that has been separated due to various circumstances, and what a rebirth it is! In just 10 episodes, it captures a colorful and lively setting full of energy letting us see the journey of the vivacious Koto who does all that she can to meet with her family once more.
It goes to show that even with 10 episodes, such an imaginative show can be created with no problems in terms of pacing whatsoever. Indeed, stepping into the world of Kyousougiga really feels like stepping into another dimension where extraordinary things occur. By the end, I couldn’t help but have a big smile across my face as the theme song came on which now only evokes happy memories. It felt like I went to wonderland and back, keeping the happiness I gained from the exuberant and joyous adventure even after the show ended. Few shows are capable of emotionally affecting me to where I can appreciate them almost solely based on the emotional aspects, and even fewer are able to induce this level of contentment. It truly shows what anime as a medium can do, and it’s just great how I can remember back to what happens at the very last episode and be filled with a sense of satisfaction. This show is the most difficult for me to give a place to in this top 10 because the more I think about it, the more I think it deserves to be higher up on the list. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I look back on this show at another time and rate it even higher. It’s definitely a hidden gem of this year and one everyone should watch at least once for it is a surreal adventure like almost no other showing the true potential of anime as a medium.
Number 4 – Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru (OreGairu)
There are some shows that use otherwise typical premises, scenarios, settings and so on to create something quite different. OreGairu retreads the high-school setting that we know so well with no fantasy elements or quirks to speak of aside from the fact that it digs deeper psychologically. Now, a lot of people talk about how great of a character Hachiman is, and while I do agree that he’s great, he’s not as mind-blowing as some people say he is. He’s really just a loner and a cynic which just is kind of rare in anime. But what is mind-blowing is how well written this show actually is. Indeed, from the character interactions to the monologues to the unconventional way Hachiman handles situations, OreGairu constantly delivers solidly written episodes.
There are just so many noteworthy scenes in this anime that you may even be able to learn a thing or two from. You can probably note many similarities between what topics the anime treads upon and real life. This may involve peer pressure, social loafing, bullying, how people put up fronts, guilt, kindness, social avoidance, classroom conflicts, social rejection, and many more. Most of the time OreGairu relies on its character interactions to convey these ideas, and sometimes, Hachiman will deliver a monologue to wrap up the main idea of an episode. The show never becomes preachy and digs deep into the psychological factors of what a particular problem can be, why it is that way, and how it can be resolved. Hachiman also doesn’t resolve the various cases in ways that you’d expect as it would be social suicide if you attempted it in real life. Nevertheless, that gives a unique twist to the show that makes it all the more interesting to watch.
I actually re-watched a lot of episodes again, and it turned out to be quite a worthwhile pursuit since after finishing it the first time I got more attached to the characters which made the second viewing a lot more funny and entertaining. More importantly, you can definitely pick up plenty of things you’ve missed in your first viewing since the show is pretty damn profound. You’ll be more familiar with the various characteristics of these characters so you’ll probably be able to deduce a bit more than you were able to the first time around. As for the romance, this show isn’t really focused on it too much. However, the verbal jabs between Hachiman and Yukinon remind me of the banter between Senjougahara and Ararararagi from the Monogatari Series. And if you haven’t watched that series, just know that it’s a good thing. Overall, OreGairu puts a unique spin on the otherwise typical setting and premise to construct something extremely insightful and well-written.
Number 3 – Monogatari Series: Second Season
In all seriousness, the Monogatari Series: Second Season continues the dialogue-driven series and expands upon what its predecessors did. Like the previous seasons, Monogatari focuses on one character per arc in great detail giving close examinations of the psyche of each of the characters that are central to the various arcs. Separated into five arcs, this season dives deep into characters like Hanekawa, Nadeko, and Mayoi who were major characters that I wanted to see more of in previous seasons. This second season ended up delivering what I was expecting and then some. For example, in the very first arc, which is about Hanekawa, I could really feel the development of her as a person probably more so than most other arcs in the series. The exploration of Hanekawa’s character, and the way she realizes and addresses her own faults are beautifully done. This is a series that explicitly states some things and implies much more for you to figure out on your own. Few other shows match the depth of this anime character-wise.
However, because it is such a character-driven show, if you don’t particularly like the character the arc is about, you probably won’t have the best time. While I can’t say I dislike the characters in the second and fourth arcs, I simply didn’t find them all too enthralling. And if you don’t find the characters particularly entertaining, you won’t find it within yourself to even want to dig deeper. Thankfully, the very last arc is arguably one of the best arcs that the entire series has ever delivered. The reason? Because of the fabulous con artist that is Kaiki. Honestly, I didn’t even like him at all before the final arc, but somehow, in a span of just six episodes, he not only became one of my favorite characters of this anime, which is quite a feat, but also of this entire year. Then there’s the SHAFT visual style which greatly adds onto the show. No, I don’t just mean that it looks good. I mean the visuals are part of the representation of the perspective of the various narrators. I’m pretty damn terrible when it comes to judging visuals or seeing visual cues, but some others have keenly noted the differences in the visual style depending on the character perspective the anime is taking. All in all, this second season is a fantastic continuation of the acclaimed series that will leave you thinking about the various characteristics of the characters and themes it tries to get across.
Number 2 – Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World)
Who is right and who is wrong? What is even right and wrong? These kind of moral dilemmas in Shin Sekai Yori will be running through your head even after you finish the series, and that’s where the show shines. Some may say, “Can’t you just look up a book, essay, or treatise about this subject? Wouldn’t that be even better?” The thing is that, most people won’t bother. Dealing with a subject like ethics in the abstract is probably a bore to many people, myself included. But that’s what an entertainment medium like anime can be used for. It can be used to get across profound points that would otherwise be boring. That’s where the medium displays its potential because not only can we be entertained, but we will want to think of what is right and wrong by ourselves purely because the show does a good enough of a job captivating us and motivating us to dig deeper. Texts dedicated to ethics will most likely be deeper than the points that Shin Sekai Yori gets across, but Shin Sekai Yori is capable of making the common person who is not interested in thinking about the subject, think more about the subject. This ability to captivate, this ability to steer one’s thoughts in a certain direction, and this ability to tell a brilliant story full of meaning is what makes Shin Sekai Yori stand above almost all other shows of this year.
Admittedly, this show does take a decent amount of episodes to get going, but it’s not as if the episodes aren’t well spent. You’ll notice when you dive into this show that the world is nicely crafted to complement the moral dilemmas that you’ll face in the later parts of the show. Whether it be the story of how some humans came to rule over others because of a magical power or how the current society keeps everyone within it in check to avoid the abuse of such powers, the world of Shin Sekai Yori is fascinating. As we see more of the society our protagonists live in, the more we begin to see faults within it. However, the show never fails to put a different perspective alongside that to make it seem like its justified. That’s when the questions start to really run in your head as the story gradually gets more intense. Shin Sekai Yori is also quite creepy. The bakenezumi or Queerat or whatever you want to call them and the overall story becomes more and more unsettling as it progresses. It becomes incredibly tense in the second half, and there are some fantastic plot twists that will make you want to watch just one more episode.
The dialogue, the atmosphere, the overarching story, the twists, the world building, the great antagonists and many more all add to the show to make for some extraordinary storytelling. This show definitely has many faults though whether it be the not-nearly-as-great animations, the somewhat slow start, some of the main characters that I find to be weak, and some problems pacing-wise. Nevertheless, once you do get to the end, you’ll see just how “grey” everything is. By “grey,” I mean there are no easy answers. Who was right? Did the characters do the right thing in retrospect? Who really is the antagonist? What is right? These are just a few of the questions you may have upon finishing the series and all of this just goes to show how well written and executed the story is. You know, a lot of times when I finish an anime I want to see more. I want to see what happens afterwards and there’s like an emptiness inside where I want to just experience more of the characters or the world or whatever it may be. However, that is not the case for Shin Sekai Yori. The conclusion is one of the most satisfying conclusions I’ve ever seen. By the end of the final episode, I didn’t even want to see any more, not because it’s horrible and I can thank God that I don’t have to endure any longer, but that the series felt so complete. It fulfilled what it needed to fulfill and it ended the way it needed to end. I didn’t have questions at the end because of gaping plot holes. I had questions at the end because this show is an excellently crafted experience that made me question things I wouldn’t have otherwise. I was completely and utterly satisfied. That’s how well everything was wrapped up. It’s one of those shows you just have to watch because it is one of the best at what it does, and that is superb storytelling.
The Best Anime of 2013 – White Album 2
There are plenty of anime out there that will make you feel happy or sad or depressed or angry or the wide array of different emotions. Then, there are some anime that will hit you harder than almost all others. Out of that category, you may find that a certain show will resonate with you more than even all of those shows. My anime of the year of 2013 is such a show. Ladies and gentlemen, this is, White Album 2. Before I say anything else, I have a few disclaimers to make. Firstly, you do NOT have to watch the first White Album to watch this show. Aside from some songs, everything else is different. Different studio, different story, different characters… You get the point. Secondly, if you haven’t watched this anime, I highly recommend you to stop reading this and check it out at your leisure. I’m not telling you to marathon all thirteen episodes right now because you may not feel like it and you’re probably going to be better off watching a few episodes a day. In fact I recommend that you watch it a bit at a time. Regardless, check it out before you continue reading because I am going to give my feelings on the show and I think it’s best if you go into this series not knowing much about it. That way your experience will be what it’s meant to be. I’m serious. Watch it and come back later on whether it be a few days, a week, or a month or whatever. Of course, I will not spoil anything just in case, but just be warned that this may turn out to be quite the passionate discussion. Why? Because I fucking love this show. For those of you still staying around, let’s get started.
This is a despairing anime that portrays the futility of human pursuits. As human beings, we try to make the most of our situations in life through decisions. We weigh our choices, and choose as we see fit. Sometimes, they end up well, and sometimes they don’t. White Album 2 portrays what happens when things don’t go well. What is so great about this series is how real it is. This show may be a typical high-school love triangle romance, but the execution is excellent. So let’s go over some of the aspects of this show one by one. Firstly, it’s not melodramatic. There’s no pointless or unnecessary screaming. There’s none of that. White Album 2 does dialogue very well in that it knows when to show and not tell. Many of the most emotional parts of this show do not contain much, if any, dialogue at all. I love it when an anime knows how to use dialogue properly like this as it’s much less likely for it to tread upon cliché lines that we’ve all heard plenty of times. White Album 2 also has fantastic pacing from beginning to end. It builds the relationships between the three characters gradually and successfully pulls off a climax where we expect it. It’s a very satisfying moment in the middle of the series that allows you to experience the opposite of the inevitable downfall by the end for maximum emotional impact. Now, you may be saying, “Hey! Aren’t you spoiling this?” The thing with White Album 2 is that you will know where everything is headed not too far in. The overall story isn’t unpredictable and isn’t full of shocking twists. It’s focused on making the characters like real human beings going through the best and the worst times of their lives.
One of the aspects of this show that stands out the most is how human the characters are. The show focuses exclusively on three main characters, Touma, Haruki, and Setsuna. This isn’t a show that diverts attention to the comedy or other side-characters. This is a show that focuses purely on romance, and how everything develops between these three characters. The result of giving so much attention to just these three characters along with some notable aspects I mentioned previously allow me to sympathize with them and grow attached to them more than most other anime out there. This in turn allows me as a viewer, to feel their despair when everything does eventually go wrong. I’ve actually never felt so much agony after watching a show. No, this not the kind of agony that you’d get from watching something like Infinite Stratos. The thing is that, there’s no antagonist to allow you to vent your anger on. There’s no stupid character that makes some unreasonable mistakes that feel forced so you can either blame the character or the writer. The decisions that Touma, Haruki, and Setsuna make are understandable, but because they are human, they make reasonable mistakes. Touma’s indecisiveness, Haruki’s callowness, Setsuna’s selfishness, and plenty of other human faults steer the story further and further into despair. By building up the characters so well, and by thrusting them into this situation, what you then have is a gradual, inevitable, and fluid progression in the story that feels extremely natural. Some people say you can blame them all equally for not doing the “right” things, but if you look at the story from each of their perspectives, you can’t really blame them too much for the choices they made. I’m not saying you can’t blame them at all, but these three are hopelessly flawed, and hopelessly human. They tried to weigh the pros and cons. They tried to do their best, but you know what? Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you think things through, everything could go wrong by the end because we are human. We cannot see the future so in that moment when we make a decision, we may be destined to fail. In that moment, when we weigh the pros and cons, and when we weigh our feelings, we will make a doomed decision that we cannot avoid making. That’s what White Album 2 gets across so incredibly well.
Sometimes, we succeed. We best life. We beat it thinking that it’s due to our wit and cognizance, but how much of that is really due to luck we will never know. And sometimes, we fail. We try to make the best of the situation with our limited intelligence, but sometimes life just smacks you in the face and there’s really nothing you could do about it. You can try to pick up the pieces, but you will never be able to make the decision that you could have made to prevent the mistake in the first place. That is the life of a human being. That’s what the three characters in this tragic story go through. In that respect, I suppose you could label the abstract concept of life as the antagonist. That’s what makes it all the more despairing though because you can only vent your hatred on life itself. If it were a character, you’d just hate that character for the rest of your life, imagine a scenario where he or she gets brutally destroyed and that’d make you feel better. It’s not the same when it comes to life. You can hate it all you want, but it’ll persist. It’s everlasting, forever with you. It’s relentless. It’s merciless. It’s not even physical; it’s just a concept. It’s the cumulation of the whims of all human beings, and many other factors. We live in it every second, and we have no choice but to accept it whether it bring us fortune or misfortune. What can we do but despair when life so randomly deals misfortune? Life appears to be something that can never be defeated.
Of course, the opposite side exists. There are many stories of heroes overcoming all odds, do what is impossible, and succeed. White Album 2 does not hold such beauty; its beauty lies within its depiction of despair, futility, and the brutal possibilities of life. It’s a form of beauty that’s difficult to accept, but it is undoubtedly still a magnificent form of it. I do not expect you to appreciate it as much as I do. Some people do not like such tragic stories. Some people just want to laugh, smile, and be filled with positive emotions in which case their view of this anime will greatly differ from mine. I ask not of you to change your natural tendencies to like or dislike something, but I will ask of you to try and appreciate the experience that White Album 2 offers. You know, some people say that “it’s just an anime. It’s not life changing, and you shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it.” There’s undoubtedly some truth to this no matter how much I love a show like White Album 2. However, few things in life are going to single-handedly change your life. We are who we are not because of the result of a single experience; we are the cumulation of all of our experiences, and they don’t have to be life changing to have a profound effect on us. Most anime won’t give you anything practical that you can use in real life, and this anime is no exception. I suppose if you can take anything practical from this series, it’d be that sometimes, you just have to deal with life by steeling yourself through the difficulties that you could never have overcome. By your own decisions you fail, but being aware of potential failure can help you persevere. I may never encounter something as despairing as what happens to the characters in real life, but maybe I will. Maybe something will happen that will allow my experience with White Album 2 to reflect more upon my current experiences in life. Maybe it’ll help me move on. And even if it doesn’t, it’s still nonetheless an incredible experience that made me feel a way I’ve honestly never felt before. To me, the effect it has had on me is extraordinary and is most certainly significant and worth taking seriously.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to convince you to always take anime seriously. Most of the time it really is just entertaining and that’s it. Even if you never view anime in a serious manner, that’s perfectly fine. I am merely trying to provide a perspective as to why someone would. The same applies to my liking towards the show. I really don’t expect many people to feel as strongly as I do about White Album 2. It’s just that the theme, tone, and general portrayal of this show is something that I personally appreciate greatly. For me, White Album 2 is something that does not resonate with me only when I watch it. It is something that resonates with me always. It’s been quite some time since I have first seen White Album 2, and while the feeling has lessened dramatically, it has not completely disappeared which is a complete first for me because usually after a day or two, I just move on after watching a show. White Album 2 left me devastated for a week, and a lesser feeling persists within me even today. It just wouldn’t feel right for me to not put this as my anime of the year with how I felt after I finished this show. It’s…. It’s a suffocating despair that clings onto me. I actually doubted my judgment on this show quite a bit because it’s just a bit too extreme compared to how I usually feel about shows. I always think to myself whether I’m exaggerating my feelings, but this is really just how I feel. I even watched this show a second time to make sure, and now I’m both consciously and subconsciously trying to avoid thinking about this show before it consumes my life and I become depressed all over again.
And guess what? It’s not over. Ohhhhh no. The Closing Chapter and Coda, the two other parts of this anime that will continue the tragedy, is rated near the top or at the very top of visual novel ranking sites. This season is certainly far easier to adapt than the rest will be for the original visual novel for this season is linear, and the rest are not. If they are to pull off the rest of the adaptation properly… If they can really do it, this will be one of the best anime of all time, and I’m not just talking about romance anime here. But hey, hype is hype, and it’s best to be wary. Still, whether they succeed or fail with future adaptations, this season can definitely stand by itself even without a continuation. No matter how the rest of the parts turn out, if they ever will turn out, these 13 episodes of White Album 2 will take a special place in my heart as it has become one of my favorite shows of all time.
Honestly, I could discuss this show for hours, and I actually did with a friend, but that’d involve spoilers. I have really only discussed part of the core of what I feel about this show, and maybe one day I’ll get around to discussing this show in even more detail. I mean, I didn’t even begin talking about Setsuna’s motivations and just her character in general that allows events to transpire the way they do in the show. It’s a really nice way to tackle the typical high-school love triangle storyline, and make the characters deeper than meets the eye. Not to mention the various flawed characteristics of Touma and Haruki that made them fall into despair. I also didn’t even begin talking about the incredibly fitting songs in this show especially when you take the lyrics into account. God damn, especially the opening. Holy shit. One of the songs, Twinkle Snow, is also one of my favorite songs of all time. And then there’s DAT SAYONARA NO KOTO. DAT AFTER ALL TSUZURU OMOI. AND OF COURSE, DAT TODOKANAI KOI. Anyways, here’s a link to my thoughts on the final episode which will of course contain spoilers. It’ll be a bit more in-depth.
And if you just finished White Album 2 and you’re depressed, I found that one of the best ways to treat that is to read other people’s thoughts on the series and to discuss it yourself. Trust me. I’ve been there. Writing the final episode review was extremely cathartic for me, and nothing else really worked that well. I tried watching some more uplifting shows, but it kind of ended up working against me. Actually, even making this video made me a bit depressed as I had to take parts from every single episode. Though that only makes me appreciate it more. Don’t worry, I know how you feel. I never thought I’d feel this way towards a show, but I did. It’s painful. It’s suffocating. It’s emotionally devastating. It just destroyed me. It is White Album 2.
So yeah, that’s 2013. You know, it’s pretty interesting looking back to when I was trying to make this top 10. I was having trouble finding some good anime and thought this year to be pretty weak. Then, I saw shows like Uchouten Kazoku, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Kyousougiga, and of course, White Album 2 which made the year much better. Those are some pretty under-watched shows and if you didn’t see them, you may find this year to be pretty weak. Looking back at 2013 now, it’s not been a bad year. Not bad at all. Thanks for reading if you managed to read these 7000 words, but again, if you haven’t watched the video, I highly suggest you watch it because that’s what I spent 40+ or 50+ or however many hours on. Sorry it took so long, but hopefully you can see why. Doing a 41 minute video with hundreds of different cuts wasn’t the easiest thing to do. The part that actually took me the longest was the audio portion as I found out my mouth is terrible for recording and I make a ton of mouth noises when I read off a script. If anyone can give me any suggestions for fixing that, it’d be very, very, very much appreciated. I tried apples and all that, but it didn’t really work out that well. Anyways, feel free to give me your thoughts on your top 10 in the comments below as well as any criticism, suggestion, and so on whether it be on this post or my Youtube video. I was seriously a bit too excited to finally complete the video and it didn’t even feel real because it just took so long for me to put together. It’s out there now, so enjoy! Oh, and share the video if you can. That’d be great as I want as many people as possible to see some of the under-watched shows I’ve mentioned. Well, I mostly just want everyone to watch White Album 2 as that’s what pushed me to finish this video. Thank you very much for reading and/or watching. I’ll see you all next time.