Final Thoughts: Anime Spring 2013 Season

Following multiple anime as they air is a very strange sensation, especially if most if not all of those titles wrap everything up in one season. What seems like a random mishmash of generally unrelated titles suddenly show some similarities as they decide exactly how they want to wrap things up. Anyways, here’s the run-down on all the shows of the Spring season I actually took the time to watch all the way through.

AIURA

AIURA
I actually really liked Aiura. As by-the-numbers as it was, it still had an interesting cast, nice character design, and good chemistry among every character. The genre of “schoolgirls doing nothing in particular” has been so disgustingly saturated, but the Aiura cast does it in such a way that isn’t obnoxious, but at the same time isn’t so vanilla. Kanakana has enough quirkiness to bring something of a plot to each episode, but not so much quirkiness to the point that she can pull the rest of the cast’s weight which thankfully doesn’t happen in the series. Other main girls Yukon and Saki serve as enough of an anchor to normalcy without sacrificing personality. The general back-and-forth between the characters is fun to watch, and slice-of-life-iness of it all is endearing without coming of as trite.

My only complaint was the oddly uncharacteristic amounts of kinda-sorta-fanservice come the final episode. Then again, I guess something had to be done to give it a chance at a second season (which I’m all for; the world needs more sensei-being-confused-for-a-student comedy).

The Devil is a Part-Timer!

The Devil is a Part-Timer!
Maou-sama
was one of those shows where all my complaints were pretty much explained come the finale. The constant addition of new characters only for the sake of having more quirky archetypes to bounce off Maou rubbed me the wrong way. As the cast began to grow, something of a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario started to develop, with most of them not getting enough attention with the exception to the occasional bit that’s become their one-trick-pony (Urushihara being a typical hikkikomori; Suzuno essentially being Eddie Murphy in Coming to America). In the case of Ashiya, he was written out almost completely, being sick during most later episodes (really could have played up him being a mom to Maou and Urushihara).

But I guess I can’t complain too much, as each character gets their own moment to shine during the finale, giving a nice little bow to top off each of their character arcs. So I guess my one “real” complaint would be that the episode following the final fight sticks more to a “and then they continued their lives” type of feel, which makes me more interested in checking out the ongoing light novels the series is based on. Surely, Emeralda and Albert were more useful there.

Henneko

Henneko
With only three episodes to go, I was really tempted to just drop Henneko. Yoto and co. making a wish either accidentally or on purpose, followed by them wandering around trying to figure out who made the wish and why got stale pretty fast. The expected, but still excessive amounts of fanservice felt more creepy than endearing (still unsure how much I’ll have to live down typing that), and things just felt formulaic to the point that I didn’t care all that much for the characters. Nonetheless, the final episodes did at the least bring some amounts of closure, as well as a pretty well executed Back to the Future style twist (gotta give props whenever time travel stories are told without making any contradictions).

It’s just one of those series that just “was” and will probably be forgotten in no time.

Oreimo 2

Oreimo 2
I rank Oreimo 2 one step above Henneko in that it was able to pull off something as wrong as a sister complex in a somewhat endearing manner, but it still seemed to lose gas come the end of the season. As expected, it was more of the same antics as Kyosuke tries to deal with the constant amount of nonsense and drama his younger sister brings to him. Some decent amounts of character growth are had, with the idea of how the siblings would react if the other got a girl/boyfriend, but once a conclusion’s been reached, it feels like the writers don’t really know where to go, so they just follow it up with introducing another love interest for Kyosuke to eventually dump in favor of his sister. Kuroneko, Manami, Ayase… it all ends the same way so it doesn’t really feel like any of it matters.

The odd thing about Oreimo 2, though, is that the final episode of the season is a backstory between Kirino and Kyosuke, better explaining their relationship and essentially saying “yeah, it’s not as creepy as you think.” In terms of theming, it just doesn’t seem to fit all that well with the rest of the season’s episodes which seemed almost unapologetic when it came to all the sis-con talk, but I guess a backstory’s a better way than any to finish off the season. Besides, it makes Saori’s backstory episode stick out that much less, which is alright in my book (Secretly the best character on the show? Yes).

It’s all completely ridiculous, and shouldn’t be as interesting to watch as you’d think it would, but it is. But at the end of the day it’s still more of the same, similar to most anime season 2s out there.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

Oregairu
I don’t wanna go as far as say that Oregairu was the sleeper hit of the season, but I kinda want to. Every time I’d start an episode, I’d forget how great the series was and wouldn’t expect much of it, only to have my mind blown by the end of the episode. The series’ Wikipedia page identifies it as of the “Social Psychology” genre, and it would be correct in saying so. Unlike most school series that focus on shallow levels of drama and romance, Oregairu takes things to the next level and has brooding main character Hikki explore the oh-too-unfair social system that is high school alongside not-love-interests Yukinoshita and Yuigahama. The trio is an excellent unlikely group, and each of their lines bounces perfectly off the other two as if you were experiencing an actual dialogue, usually involving “speaking reals.”

From beginning to end, the series remains consistent and while it would be nice to have a second season, things are wrapped up nicely enough, with the typical school festival rounding things off rather nicely.

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan
started on probably the best foot possible. It had a disgustingly addicting opening theme, the animation was top notch, it was unforgiving when it came to character deaths (and uh… “deaths”), and most importantly its pacing was nearly breakneck in comparison to what you would normally associate with anime. In that sense it was the perfect kind of show to try and get “normal” people into. But now thirteen episodes later, most things that made the show so appealing have long rusted off. More often than not, we’re treated to animation-budget-saving panning shots, recap scenes take a lot more time than needed, and the general pacing has slowed down significantly since the first couple episodes.

It’s not the worst thing out there (then again, my anime roots are in DBZ, so maybe I’ve developed a high tolerance for slow pacing), but things have taken a significant change for the worse. Nonetheless, the story is still solid, and the anime does at least make a point of trying to end each episode with some kind of omaigah revealing revelation to keep you on your toes until next week, so you know the creative team isn’t going into things completely willy-nilly. I’d go ahead and say that the sudden change in pacing is due to not wanting to catch up to the manga, but I’ve also heard that the series was only going on for two seasons worth, so uh… iunno. Honestly, I’d prefer they just take an FMA approach and start to make their own non-manga-canonical story when the time comes. Except y’know… minus the alternate reality Nazis.

Flowers of Evil

Flowers of Evil
Of course, saving the most controversial title of the season for last.

Despite all the major league backlash Flowers of Evil got for using rotoscoping, I think they made the right decision. The gist of the series takes everyday school kids and rips them apart mentally, taking them to their utmost limits as a means to try and escape their dull, dull life. To portray the series strictly in live action or standard anime fashion means already conforming to some kind of set aesthetic, which just isn’t what the series is about. While the rotoscoping admittedly did have its problem points, it was still able to provide an overall unsettling feeling throughout the series solely on the animation alone. Add in the chilling BGM and disturbing characters to drive the plot and you’re pretty much set.

What surprised me most was how the anime decided to finish things. Rather than doing what most fans predicted and cut off the story short (the manga is still ongoing with a handful of good “stopping off” points), viewers have essentially been promised a second season, with the final minutes preceding the credits being a visual bombardment of moments covered in later parts of the manga. Whether or not a second season will actually come to fruition is anyone’s guess, but just the fact that the creative team behind the anime was ballsy enough to make such a statement already puts Flowers of Evil as an anime to be held in high regards in my book. From the get-go, it was a series that was unwavering when it came to compromises, which fits perfectly with what the series itself portrayed in its characters.

Does that make it artsy-fartsy in that respect? Maybe, but if it’s between being remembered as artsy-fartsy and not being remembered at all, I’d say it took the better route.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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