Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Top 5 Anime of 2013
#5 - IGPX: I’ve long been a huge fan of mecha, and as a result, I tend to be more highly critical of how these stories of giant robots pan out. I was pleasantly surpsied by IGPX, a show which I had missed out on during its original Toonami run, because of just how fresh a concept it was. The best description I can provide is that IGPX is much like F-Zero, but with robots and greater emphasis on the dynamic of the teammates and pit crew than the actual races. Which is not to say the combination of breakneck-speeds and exchanging of metal punches isn’t incredibly satisfying to watch unfold in a curiously graceful manner, but there is certainly something to be said for putting the spotlight on a crew of young pilots who have to learn to cooperate if they want to succeed.
#4 - Wolf Children: A heartwarming tale about a single mother attempting to provide her children with a secluded upbringing so that they can one day determine for themselves if they wish to live as humans or wolves, Wolf Children is the most emotionally human tale to be conveyed in the anime medium in a long while. The kids, Ame and Yuki, are simply adorable, and the movie is genuine in its timing of making viewers laugh, cheer, and tear up along with the characters. For a film that seems to want to sell itself largely on its fantasy elements, Wolf Children is, at its core, about family and the challenges a single mother faces in raising two young kids who just so happen to harness the ability to transform into wolves.
#3 - Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: I appreciated Gurren Lagann for reasons similar to why I have come to love Gundam, Evangelion, and many other mecha works over the years, except that in the case of Gurren Lagann, it was because it made fun of all the staples that have defined giant robot action over the decades. Combining robots for no apparent reason other than it looks equal parts silly and cool? Check. Ridiculous monologues that don’t actually mean anything but somehow strike fear into the hearts of foes and instill courage and determination in the heroic main cast members? Check. Gunmen mechs that just keep getting larger to the point where galaxies become viable options for Frisbee-like weapons? Check. It’s a series that punches subtlety in the face, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
#2 - Steins;Gate: Too few works dealing with time travel and divergent realities steep themselves so deep in real-world scientific theory. The fact that Steins;Gate lays out its rules before it really gets running not only makes for a more intelligently-scripted show, but a more entertaining viewing experience as well. Knowing how the ripples across time and space can cause either subtle or drastic changes keeps you guessing until the very end, the diverse and very human characters are ones you care about and want to see succeed, despite how great the cost to some might be. Other time travel-related works, anime or otherwise, could learn a thing or two from Steins;Gate about how to balance the nerdy factual elements with humorous pop culture nods and self-referential humor.
#1 - Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo: By the finale of Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, we had a pretty good idea that the story was headed into bold new territory. What I don’t think I was fully prepared for, however, was how dark and complex the narrative would become. The Rebuild of Evangelion films have done a phenomenal job thus far of consolidating one of the most deep and thought-provoking anime works of all time into hour-and-a-half/two-hour installments, but there is a lot at play in Evangelion 3.0, and the attention to detail as well as the sinister nature of some of the grander schemes in motion are on par with 1997’s End of Evangelion. It’s a perfect follow-up to the groundwork the previous two films laid out, and is an exciting marker as the beginning of the end of this masterful tetralogy of films.