After the very decent line-up that was the autumn 2012 anime season (thank you Psycho-Pass, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Magi), the winter list felt like one of the worst seasons of the past several years. With the cancellation of Savannah Game I ended up following a grand total of one title from beginning to end (Amnesia), and clearly that was more a hilariously guilty pleasure than anything else. A first peek at the spring 2013 anime chart when it first came out had me eagerly anticipating the new season however, with not just one or two but several anime titles that looked like they’d be worth trying out.
Saint Oniisan/Saint Young Men
The plot for Saint Young Men had long sounded like a lot of fun to me – take Jesus and Buddha, stick them in an apartment together in modern-day Japan, and have at it with the daily life dealings of things like Christmas holidays and rush hour on the train. This is only going to be a 2-episode OVA (and there’s a movie due out later on as well), but the first episode is good enough for me to be eagerly anticipating the second one. When done right, the portrayal of religion in blatant fantasy like this is hilarious to watch, and Saint Young Men does nearly everything right. Fans of the manga won’t be disappointed either – the anime has clearly been made with a lot of love and respect for the source material.
Otona Joshi no Anime Time
Again, not a full TV series but rather a 4-episode show. I had been definitely planning on watching this right from the get-go because the premise of each episode sounded extremely promising – not only were they short stories about women, but they all focused on women who for once weren’t in their teens or early 20s. I’m sure any anime fans reading this can appreciate the rarity of such a thing. Now that I’ve seen all 4 episodes it’s a little difficult for me to provide a single overall impression of the show, since each of the 4 episodes were totally different from one another in terms of story and even art style. I do want to express my profound joy at watching an anime with mature female main characters who actually act like adults and aren’t reduced to mere fanservice though. The youngest of our protagonists is in her 20s while the other three are in their 30s and 40s, and that fact alone was enough to keep me glued to the screen. The stories are each compelling in their own way too though – I can only hope this anime gets the credit it deserves despite its brevity.
Aku no Hana
Stolen gym clothes, a bit of healthy blackmail… I had at first glance pegged this series for just another high school drama/romance/comedy, but it’s obvious to me now that nothing could be further from the truth. But talk about an anime getting a bad rap right off the cuff! I’m tempted to stand up for Aku no Hana just for that, because everyone who’s whining about it seems to be focusing purely on the art style. See, this is what I don’t get about a lot of anime fans out there – they bitch and moan about anime not being innovative enough, and then when something like this comes out they all start complaining about how ugly and terrible it is. Personally I’m actually quite drawn to the artwork in Aku no Hana – granted, it’s incredibly different from anything I’ve seen in any anime to date, but why can’t that be a good thing? If I’m going to fault anything in this series it would be the pacing, which is far slower than it needs to be and will probably end up causing a lot of would-be viewers to drop it soon, assuming they haven’t already done so. That said, I’m really curious about where things will go from here and will most probably keep watching to find out.
When it comes to shows like this, I love being wrong. From the plot summaries it sounded like this was going to be a fanservice-laden shounen series. A demon king who’s one step away from ruling the world when things go suddenly wrong and he’s forced to live in modern-day Japan and work for a living? Fun maybe, but probably not especially intelligent or even that funny unless you happened to be a male somewhere between the age of 10 and 20. I’ve now done a complete 180 and have come to regard this as one of the very best anime of the season. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen a comedy series I’ve enjoyed this much, but the timing is gold and the jokes are spot on. My previous fears of the show relying on fanservice for its giggles were put to rest immediately – the first episode alone is good enough that I’m recommending the series to anyone looking for a more light-hearted watch, regardless of what else they’d normally go for in an anime.
Once again I had it wrong, only this time in a bad way. I’d heard a lot of great things about the manga and was greatly looking forward to a josei series that combined action/adventure, fantasy, and more bishounen that you could shake a stick at. But I have to be honest and say that although I really want to like it, it’s a bit of a mess so far. All the ingredients are there – some nice artwork, a fabulous voice acting team, a plot with some obvious depth to it – but something’s definitely off. I can’t say what exactly that something is, but Karneval just isn’t holding together like it should. Quite possibly it’s going to be another victim of the entirely common ‘too much plot, too little time’ issue, although I’d like to give it another couple of episodes before I decide it’s no longer worth my effort, because I’d like to believe it has potential despite the rocky start.
RDG: Red Data Girl
This was going to be my ‘I don’t know what the heck this is but I’ll hesitantly give it a try anyway’ series of the spring season. A modern fantasy based on Japanese Shinto legends, about a shy girl who moves from where she has been raised her whole life deep in a mountain shrine somewhere into Tokyo with her guardian – it sounded like it could be either really awful or strangely addicting. So far at least, I’m happy to report it’s mostly the latter. While the OP makes Red Data Girl look like it’s going to be a super-sized reverse harem series, the writers clearly know what they’re doing and are putting some real effort into giving this show some depth. No, it’s not perfect, but the pacing is pretty good, the plot is interesting without being overly convoluted, and the personality of our two main characters actually feels halfway realistic.
Suisei no Gargantia/Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
While mecha or even just science-fiction (with the exception of Evangelion and Eureka Seven) isn’t generally my style, Suisei no Gargantia is most likely going to stand right alongside Hataraku Maou-sama! as the other top show of the new line-up. The animation is lovely, sure, but more importantly the pacing so far and the way the main characters are interacting with each other is really intelligently done. This is probably going to be more character than action-driven, which works for me just fine. If nothing else, Urobuchi Gen knows how to tell a good story, and while it’s nothing like the wonderfully dark Madoka Magica, the gritty Psycho-Pass or even the slightly more mainstream Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, Suisei no Gargantia is an obvious standout of the spring season.
Question of the post: How do you think this current season compares to the 2012/2013 winter season so far, and what’s your pick for top title of the 2013 spring season?