The Best of Anime: 2013

oregairu

And so another year has come and gone, and it’s time for my anime year-end wrap-up. Just like last year, the rules are as follows:

1. My lists only include shows I have actually watched. I cannot speak to the quality of shows I didn’t watch, but chances are I never gave them a look-see for a reason. This rule will especially be true for the most disappointing shows since it’s not fair to categorize shows as being terrible – even if they actually are – when I’ve never seen them; hence the reason I don’t have a ‘worst of’ category.

2. A show needs to have ended in 2013, so any two cour (season) shows that started in 2013 but have continued into 2014 are ineligible.

In many ways, I’m rather thankful for that second rule because this latest season has a good number of great shows, so narrowing it down to a select few would have been difficult (and no, the soulless Kill la Kill is not one of those shows). Thankfully several of those shows were two cour and therefore extend into 2014. Of course, that will probably be problematic next year, but that’s an issue for another date.

So without further ado, make it so!

Favorite Shows

mondaiji-tachiMondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? –

This show isn’t going to win any awards anytime soon, but you know what, it doesn’t need to, because it is a fun little series with a unique, lively and amusing cast of characters. Male protagonist Izayoi Sakamaki may be a borderline Gary Stu, being incredibly strong, knowledgeable, strategic and brilliant at solving puzzles, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest, because his confident swagger and fun demeanor made him awesome, capable of taking down Gods with a punch, stopping a sword with his fingertip or even physically shattering magic beams aimed at him. Bored of a life with no worthy challengers, being pulled into this new world of gift games and challenges was like a dream come true for him, and his cock-sure giddiness at seeking out greater challenges was infectious. Rounding out the problem children transported to this world are refined lady Asuka Kudou, who can command anyone or anything to do her will with but a single command, and You Kusukabe, who can take on the traits of any animal she befriended due to the amulet she wears around her neck. Of course, the show wouldn’t be complete without the lively and slightly-airheaded Black Rabbit (“Kuro Usagi”) who summoned these power-users into this world to begin with, a bunny-girl who, while highly respected in this world and powerful in her own right, is nonetheless the object of the problem children’s teasing and Izayoi’s sexual harassment (though their chemistry implies they might actually like each other), which often leaves her quite flustered whenever she’s trying to be serious. There’s also a vampire loli, a perverted female goddess who is Izayoi’s partner in crime when it comes to harassing Black Rabbit, and a smooth-talking cat that hits on cat-girl waitresses. One of the better jokes of the series is that a spell has been cast on Black Rabbit’s skirt so that no matter how hard one tries, they’ll never be able to see her panties, only being left with the tease when the skirt is just about to flip up, making it art since it engages the imagination rather than presenting the full-on vulgar display. Unfortunately the show was only 10 episodes and an OVA long, and sales of the Blu-rays weren’t very good, meaning we’re not likely to get more. That’s a shame, because it means a lot of people missed out on something really fun.

attack on titanShingeki no Kyoujin –

Also referred to as Attack on Titan. Pacing problems aside, Attack on Titan was easily one of the best shows this year, and though I would certainly not rank it number one, most popularity polls on other sites will probably have it topping the list. It is no doubt popular, and with good reason. This show is a visceral and despair-riddled story about a humanity that is on the brink of extinction due to the sudden appearance of Titans, large humanoid creatures whose sole goal seems to be to devour humans.

Lead character Eren Yeager can be a bit one-note and a little too intense with his constant “I will kill all the Titans!” proclamations, and despite being humanity’s last hope, he tends to fail at critical moments, which can make him a very grating and aggravating character. However, the stoic ball-busting Mikasa Ackerman, the amazingly skilled Titan-killer Levi and the super-intelligent Armin Arlert more than make up for any of Eren’s shortcomings, in addition to the amusing cast of side characters. Just don’t get too attached to anyone; no one is safe in this world.

But overall, Attack on Titan is a roller coaster ride of emotions, and the despair one can feel for these characters that sacrifice their lives to protect the remainder of humanity is incredibly palpable, and the fight scenes themselves are a mix of grace and beauty mixed with brutal and ruthless violence in the form of the Titans’ seeming unstoppable-ness. Every episode leaves the audience wanting more or eager with mixed anticipation/dread for what will happen next. This is where the pacing problems come into play, since many of the payoffs come several episodes past your patience limit, but you can’t deny that the story knows how to hook you.

I do fear that with its rising popularity the author may decide to milk it for all it’s worth, as we’ve already seen a lot of commercialism tied to a show that has no right being so heavily commercialized (this is an incredibly bleak show after all), and thus we could end up with another One Piece or Naruto with no ending in sight just to appease fans and rake in extra cash off the franchise. But for now it’s golden. This is definitely a show worth checking out. You will not be disappointed.

zetsuen no tempestZetsuen no Tempest –

A.k.a., Blast of Tempest.
A tale utilizing parallels to works of Shakespeare, this show is anything but merely sound and fury. If there is one thing this show knows how to do well, it’s weave an interesting story and create incredibly complex and memorable characters. Like them or not, Mahiro, as our resident Hamlet out for revenge, and Yoshino, our Romeo who has tragically lost his girlfriend, are both interesting and deep characters. That said, the female protagonists, Hakaze and Aika, are perhaps even more complex and interesting characters. They are certainly the strongest in both will and vision.

Every episode provided great characterization, and most would end with an amazing twist out of left field that left viewers eager with anticipation for the details of this new wrench in the works. And yet despite all of the twists and turns, Zetsuen no Tempest still maintained consistency with the story it was telling and did so admirably. Three episodes are devoted almost exclusively to the two opposing sides attempting to sway Mahiro to their side since he currently holds the trump card and yet every second of this back and forth dialogue was riveting. There are few shows that can get away with nothing but development through dialogue without putting viewers to sleep; this show is one of them. Make no mistake, though, this show contains plenty of action. Mahiro’s bullet-stopping, teleporting introduction to the story is a perfect example of how this production did action extremely well.

The show’s biggest flaw in my book is the Yoshino x Aika relationship, as it was simply devoid of any chemistry whatsoever yet it plays a vital role in the narrative of the story. Nonetheless, overlooking that minor flaw is relatively easy and it doesn’t hinder the flow of the story in any way. If you haven’t watched this one yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

yamato 2199Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 –

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 or Star Blazers 2199 as it will be called in North America. A remake of the classic series of the same name minus the 2199, this show improves on the original one-hundred fold while staying true to the original source material, and will almost assuredly become a classic in its own right. While this remake made smart fixes to the some of the more questionable occurrences in the original, the most important change is its gender diversification; that is, the addition of more female crew members.

Yuki Mori is a major player with a position on the bridge right from the start while ace pilot Akira Yamamoto has gotten the Starbuck treatment in being recast as a woman. Dr. Sato’s cat also seems to have been swapped with buxom nurse Makoto Harada, but you won’t see me complaining. New additions Kaouru Niimi and Yuria Misaki also have key roles in the story.

What Yamato 2199 does best is present us with very human characters stuck in a desperate situation, with Earth’s last hope hinging on the success or failure of the space cruiser Yamato’s ability to traverse across the galaxy and bring back technology that will restore the now barren world to it’s former glory. Along the way the crew is beset by an enemy willing to stop at nothing to destroy them and even plots from within. Every battle is nail-bitingly good and beautifully rendered, while all the while the crew reminds us about the strength of human will and hope through all of its ups and downs.

This show was made into a big deal, what with the theatrical treatment and all, and quite deservedly. Even without the original, this show could stand on its own as a near masterpiece. It is not one to be missed.

monogatariMonogatari Series Second Season –

As much as I love this series, I can’t in good conscience rank it number one for the year. It fumbled the ball a bit in the end and overall it just felt like something was missing. In hindsight, that missing element was that in 26 episodes, couple Koyomi Araragi and Hitagi Senjougahara had absolutely no screen time together at all. I don’t recall them even conversing on the phone at any point either. Sure, we were assured that they loved and trusted one another unconditionally, but their always amusing interactions were sorely missed. It also didn’t help that Hitagi’s arc was told from Deishuu Kaiki’s point of view so we were treated to a lot of phone calls and secret rendezvous between them, in addition to a parody opening of them appearing as a couple, so compounded with the lack of interaction between the main couple, it was enough to put a disconcerting feeling in the pit of one’s stomach, no matter how unfounded it was. And then there was that ending that just didn’t feel like an end, and I’m not just talking about the last minute “shock” occurrence. I mean more that we aren’t really treated to a proper resolution between our favorite characters, it’s just implied. As interesting as having the story told by Kaiki was, it robbed us of a final scene between our primary protagonist and heroine(s). I have very mixed feelings about that. As a stand-alone novel in a series it could work but as the end-capper to a full two-season show, it feels like the audience got cheated somehow.

Overall, though, we were treated to nice surprises and development. Whereas Bakemonogatari was all about the girls overcoming their spiritual afflictions, this second season was more about them finding their true selves. It was nice to see Hitagi and Tsubasa Hanekawa working so closely together without Araragi’s presence, with Hitagi ultimately discerning Tsubasa’s true character. We also learned a bit more about Shinobu’s past as a God and cute little Nadeko Sengoku unleashed her full psycho. Hitagi became a girl so totally head over heels in love that she was willing to sink to any depths to protect the one she loved. And I’ll be damned if Mayoi Hachikuji’s graceful exit from the series didn’t just break my heart. We also met a few new faces, like Izuko Gaen and Ougi Oshino, though I’m not really sure what to make of them yet, though Ougi appears to be bad news. Yotsugi Ononoki became a much more vivid and important character than just the living doll she was in Nisemonogatari, which was a welcome addition. And most surprisingly, Kaiki totally redeemed himself and showed just what a fascinating – and inner softy – character he truly is. If there’s one thing the Monogatari series does well, it’s keeping you on your toes while entertaining you all the while, and for that reason I love it!

yahari ore seishunYahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru –

To be titled My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU when it is released in North America, this show perhaps took me the most by surprise. Initially I wasn’t even planning on watching it thinking it was just another cliche-ridden romantic comedy, but after I learned the main character was highly cynical, I gave it go. I’m glad I did because to this day I still think about this show often. As I did with Oreki Hotaro from Hyouka, I found that I could very much identify with Hachiman Hikigaya, the dead-fish-eyed loner who was constantly ridiculed by classmates or shot down by girls in elementary and middle school, which served as the root cause of his incredibly cynical and distrustful view of youth, life and love. While he may use this cynicism as an excuse or crutch to remain isolated, he is certainly not unintelligent or lacking in compassion (at least on the inside) as he will often take the blame for events to prevent others from getting hurt, as that is the role he has sadly accepted as the one most suited to and expected of him.

The show is filled with great bits of humor though, like how Hachiman constantly has to remind himself not to fall for the incredibly cute and effeminate male tennis club player, or how he often will come to the conclusion that he’ll have to take responsibility for (i.e., marry) his perpetually-single “old maid” teacher/futures advisor because no one else will have her.

But much as I’m a sucker for a happy end, what worked for me the most was that this series didn’t have a loser boy acquires a harem or gets the girl ending. Instead we are presented with something far more realistic in terms of relationships. Bubbly conformist Yui Yuigahama, the service club’s first client and future member, clearly has a crush on Hachiman, due mostly in part to his saving her dog from getting hit by a car on the first day of high school, which subsequently set him back several weeks thereby guaranteeing him a loner status since he missed out on the clique formation that happens at the beginning of the year. Upon learning it was her dog, Hachiman then interprets her kindness as guilt or a debt she feels she owes him, though from her perspective that is clearly not the case as she feels that he ultimately would have helped her sooner or later because that’s the kind of guy he is.

In order to reform his anti-social ways, Hachiman is forced to join the service club (that helps others) alongside the “ice-cold beauty” Yukino Yukinoshita, who is a loner for totally different reasons than Hachiman; she was bullied by (mostly) girls all her life for being exceptionally pretty and talented. She was also in the car that hit Hachiman, so there seems to be a kind of fate at work here. Though not quite as cynical, Yukino is extremely blunt and has a barbed tongue, which she often directs at Hachiman, though he is no slouch in rebutting with a disdainful comment. In fact, it is their like-mindedness and mutually-insulting repartee that convinces most people that they are having fun together. It is quite apparent that these two are almost perfect for each other, if only their cynicism and past trauma would allow them to open up to each other and treat each other as more than just acquaintances. But that’s what makes this show so great, in that the glacial pace of their relationship is perfectly presented. We’re not treated to a kiss at the ending, but instead every emotion built up is punctuated with a little wave from Yukino as she looks back at Hachiman, a gesture that is perhaps a sign that they are becoming more than just casual acquaintances and that maybe she does indeed harbor some feelings for him, and capped off with a wink in the “final” episode. It’s a little bittersweet and yet it’s perfect. That is what makes this show so compelling. If you were ever the cynical loser bullied or ridiculed in high school, you’ll definitely relate to this show.

Honorable Mentions: Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: NEXT, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, Hataraku Maou-sama, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Outbreak Company, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S, Kyoukai no Kanata, Suisei no Gargantia, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya

Biggest Disappointments

kami-sama nichiyoubiKami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi –

Based on the premise of a world that God has abandoned, where the dead never truly die unless buried by supernatural beings known as Gravekeepers, this seemed like a very promising series with a unique and fantastical scenario. Unfortunately that promise was destroyed within the first few episodes with some questionable choices, odd occurrences (an immortal lamenting his inability to die just ups and dies not 2 seconds later?) and terrible pacing. After the first arc it just strayed into weird territory, almost forgetting its premise entirely and having characters randomly act completely against how they were established with little to no explanation. The ending didn’t help either, as the twist made no sense whatsoever and then they destroyed the dramatic resolution at the last minute by pulling a deus ex machina, thereby negating a certain character’s noble sacrifice. The show itself was pretty, I won’t deny that, but in the end it was a complete let-down and is another one of those shows that will just be forgotten in time, which is a shame because it could have been something great.

robotics;notesRobotics;Notes –

From the creators that gave us Steins;Gate, set in the same world as Steins;Gate (the little girl from that show is all grown up – and kick-ass to boot!), this show had so much going for it. Unfortunately it just turned into a really dull affair. Focusing on a quasi-indifferent ass of a main character instead of the spunky girl the whole plot actually revolved around, it kind of shot itself in the foot right out of the gate. It built up mysteries surrounding a supernatural doomsday as it went, but we were left with more questions than answers, which along with the glacial pace of the investigation as we were forced to tag along on this monotonous treasure hunt, just really made this show feel uneventful and not worth-while. Several characters even felt extraneous to the plot, and a good number of them inexplicably fell for the dullard protagonist. After all of that, the end then felt rushed and the final outcome left a lot to be desired. I had such great expectations for this show and it let me down big-time.

infinite stratos 2IS: Infinite Stratos 2 –

The first season wasn’t anything great, and even though the male protagonist is literally the most oblivious, moronic dude on the planet, it was a cute harem show with a nice grouping of female characters and several fun and sexy moments. Unfortunately the second season was a completely uneven affair, and Ichika was more oblivious than ever despite all the girls literally parading around in skimpy outfits or competing for him in Battle Royale-style challenges; after a while unreasonable stupidity just gets incredibly annoying. Each episode felt like the creators picked the plot out of a hat since one week we have crazy character shenanigans and the next we suddenly have the evil organization attacking, only for it to then proceed with the crazy romantic antics while forgetting about the bad guys for weeks at a time. Shouldn’t the main threat be the plot with the crazy antics worked in around it? Later episodes became intrusively budget conscious, completely skipping out on animating fight or fanservice scenes and instead just panning over background stills while the sounds of these antics play out. What the hell? In addition, with the exception of having to maintain the harem feature of the show, Ichika is almost completely useless, and for supposedly having an amazing Stratos, it doesn’t seem very effective in battle and Ichika gets his ass handed to him on a regular basis. And seriously, why does this show hate Ling so much; she seriously got screwed over this season.

Episode 9 is probably the perfect example of all of this show’s failings. We’re treated to a character who is so wimpy, scared and pathetic while desiring little more than for a knight in shining armor to save her, that one has to question who allowed her to be a soldier and why she was given a personal Stratos in the first place. Tatenashi Sarashiki, said character’s older and superior-in-every-way sister, suicide bombs herself to dispatch an enemy mech, somehow surviving, yet later we see all of the other girls dispatch similar enemies with no problem – and this is one of the most badass characters in the show we’re talking about, so why did she have such a hard time? Also, why are the Stratos mechas not resistant to other Stratos mechas? That seems kind of stupid and makes for a completely inefficient weapon. Tatenashi then takes a blade to the back while shielding her sister, and though inexplicably taking place in some bizarre astral plane, the two finally have a heart to heart to resolve their differences, only for Ichika to butt in and completely rob us and them of this heartfelt sisterly moment. Go away, Ichika, you’re not always necessary to every scene and shouldn’t be used to define all of the female characters; they should be able to stand on their own. If not for the continued presence of Charlotte Dunois and the addition of the amazingly awesome Tatenashi, this show would have been absolutely terrible; as it stands though, it’s only just a little terrible.

galilei donnaGalilei Donna –

Ham-handed and poorly executed is the best way to put it. I rather enjoyed it at first, even if youngest sister Hozuki was a little too Mary Sue-like for my tastes, being able to do everything extremely well beyond the point of rational believability. And before you ask whether there’s a double-edged sword for girls when I just sang Izayoi’s praises earlier, no there isn’t. Izayoi is awesome because he’s fun; Hozuki is just annoyingly precocious. Big difference. But then they added a poorly-conceived betrayal subplot wherein one character is inexplicably in unrequited love with a heartless monster character, and yet still believes he wouldn’t harm the girls when he’s proven time and time again that he’ll gun anyone down in cold blood without a second thought. Then of course there’s the weird arc at the end where Hozuki goes back in time and meets her ancestor Galileo, which turns kind of creepy with an implied romantic angle between them, in addition to the complete historical inaccuracy of his person and scientific works. And that court room finale was absolutely ridiculous and just completely trampled over legal procedure and made a mockery of the justice system. At least do a little research, it really helps out even the thinnest of plot threads. Instead it just makes the whole thing look really hokey. So yeah, interesting premise, decent start but it completely fumbled it in the end zone. My understanding is that executive interference cut the story from 20 episodes to just 11, forcing the producers to cram everything into a shorter time-frame, but based on what we already were treated to, I’m not sure 20 episodes would really have helped it that much.

Best Guilty Pleasure

valvraveKakumeiki no Valvrave –

Well, at least up until episode 21, at which point things just got really, really stupid (and that’s saying something for this show). However, Valvrave from the very beginning was always about incoherency, utilizing an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mentality. None of it ever made sense. The Valvrave mechas are fueled by runes, which we later find out requires Haruto to suck blood, hence why he sometimes will go berserk and attack people. But then later the runes are people’s memories, so what does that have to do with blood? And why did he rape Saki when he went berserk instead of sucking her blood, since I don’t see how sex would refill his runes? And if these characters are immortal and capable of healing, how is it possible that a couple of them died? Why does Haruto seem to be the only other character besides Marie who loses memories when he uses his Valvrave? Just who is that kid that Saki is talking to in the future? And why is Shoko so annoying? So many questions, so little answers.

Anyway, it’s probably best not to ponder these questions as it’ll just cause brain hemorrhaging, and so long as you can avoid that, the show is actually pretty fun. L-Elf is consistently one of the best characters on the show as a one-man army and master strategist, hampered only by the fact that he cannot pilot a Valvrave and therefore must rely on Haruto. Saki Rukino is the most likeable, entertaining and also the most realistic character on the show, and it’s a shame that she is woefully underutilized and almost completely forgotten by her friends for most of the second season, in addition to the whole nonsensical rape in the first season (which she handled with aplomb, I might add), but she’s certainly what got me watching in the first place and kept me around. Like I said, the show crams a lot of random out-there things but as long as it demonstrates that it’s not taking itself seriously either, it’s quite entertaining. It gets bogged down when it tries too hard. If I had to give it a comparison, it’d be like Code Geass if the writers were high while writing it. It’s a complete and utter trainwreck from start to finish, but like most spectacular crashes, you just can’t look away. Make of that what you will.

vividred operationVividred Operation –

There was perhaps a touch too much focus on the hindquarters of underage girls, and the “friendship is magic” theme could be a little overbearing at times, but nonetheless this was a fun little show. It’s like Strike Witches with techno-savvy magical girls. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; it knew what it was and it did it unashamedly. The plot isn’t really anything new, but it’s characters are both enjoyable and cute. As a bonus, lead protagonist Akane is surprisingly not annoyingly grating as is often the case with shows of its ilk. It’s a fun show with cute bloomers-clad magical girls fighting giant alien entities. Just sit back and enjoy it!

Biggest Surprise

outbreak companyOutbreak Company –

A story about a hikikomori loser otaku who is chosen to go to a newly discovered fantastical realm to spread anime and manga culture to the citizens there, I hadn’t even planned on giving this show a chance based solely on it’s plot synopsis. This show screamed “pandering to the audience” right out of the gate. And then I saw a screen capture of the impossibly-cute Myucel and I decided that I had to at least give her a chance if nothing else. And while protagonist Shinichi had a lot of groan-inducing outbursts and spectacular failures in social etiquette even after specifically being told not to act in such a manner during the first episode, I had to admit to myself that the show wasn’t actually bad. The concept of spreading otaku culture, while admittedly slightly pandering, was actually utilized in a smart manner as a way of Japan establishing a monopolistic foothold in the realm, and with the addition of a terrorist faction in an early episode due to Shinichi’s influence of treating all races as equals threatening the human’s power base, it was clear the writers weren’t just out to create a cash-grab show but actually had put thought into creating a rich story with socio-economic complications.

Shinichi got better as the show went on and was actually a likeable lead, Myucel was everything I hoped she would be and more, and overall it had a good cast of diverse characters. While the show may have glorified otaku culture a bit more than it should have, it did feature an episode that took a shot at the NEET lifestyle, and it had an interesting turn of events at the climax of the show, resolving it in a very clever and unexpected manner. This wasn’t anywhere close to being show of the year in my book, but it was still quite a good one and one I will most likely pick up on Blu-ray/DVD when it is eventually released in North America.

Yuusha ni NarenakattaYuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku o Ketsui Shimashita –

I had almost written this one off after the very overt in-your-face fanservice-laden first episode, but decided to stick it out anyway, and I’m glad I did. It’s nothing to really write home about, but it was a nice little show that didn’t take itself very seriously and just focused on entertaining its audience. Thankfully the fanservice was toned down as the show went on and the story itself had its moments of cleverness, the biggest of course being the real world metaphor for what it’s like to lose one’s dream and be forced to settle for something not quite as exciting but still making that your own. Granted we’re all not trying to be demon-killing heroes, but the metaphor stands; maybe we wanted to be singers or actors or astronauts but there was certain factor, whether internal, external or both, that prevented that dream from becoming a reality, and lacking a Plan B we have now made of career of something we never would have even considered previously.

Overall, though, this show was a light bit of fluff, and it knew it, and had a lot of cute funny moments. It’s not going to win any awards and it will probably be all but forgotten a year from now, but for the moment it was a nice bit of entertainment that exceeded my expectations.

Top Harem Candidates

As before, these were the female anime characters that I loved the most this year, with those I really liked being labeled as Top 10 Candidates since I am not about to re-draw up my list of top female anime characters. I felt bad that I didn’t give at least a brief reason for my picks last year, so this year I will. I also promise no troll pictures this time around.

Yukino Yukinoshita * Top 10 Candidate *

Yukino Yukinoshita
[Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru]
* Top 10 Candidate *

Hachiman’s loner counterpart, Yukino is beautiful, smart and has a backbone made of steel. She knows what she is and what she’s capable of, and she could care less what anyone else thinks. Quick with a retort or a barb, she’s cynical and a bit damaged, but she’s simply fascinating to watch.

Aika [Zetsuen no Tempest]

Aika
[Zetsuen no Tempest]
* Top 10 Candidate *

Words can’t even begin to describe how amazing a character Aika is. The ultimate mystery girl, she’s sharp-tongued and dominating. I’ve also never seen another character more committed to her destined role that she *spoilers*, even knowing how it will hurt Mahiro and Yoshino, the two most important people in her life. This is one bad-ass chick.

Kurosagi ("Black Rabbit") [Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?]

Kuro Usagi (“Black Rabbit”)
[Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?]
* Top 10 Candidate *

Optimistic, easily flustered, and a bit scatterbrained at times, Kuro Usagi is nonetheless extremely lovable. Along with her cute bunny ears and tail, her hair also changes from blue to pink when she gets excited or powers-up. She also refers to herself in the third person. Yes!

Yaya [Unbreakable Machine Doll]

Yaya
[Unbreakable Machine Doll]

A machine doll who longs to be human so she can marry her “master” Raishin, Yaya is simultaneously cute and sexually aggressive; how Raishin resists her I’ll never know. As a doll built for fighting, she is highly resistant and extremely kick ass. She may be polarizing for some fans, but I love her.

Tsurugi Yagami [Sasami-san@Ganbaranai]

Tsurugi Yagami
[Sasami-san@Ganbaranai]

A red-headed teacher with a penchant for eroge games, she’s actually older than her child-like appearance would suggest. In fact she’s a God, only she fittingly got bored of it and entrusted her power to Sasami’s family. She’s both funny and powerful. What’s not to love?

Tatenashi Sarashiki [IS: Infinite Stratos 2]

Tatenashi Sarashiki
[IS: Infinite Stratos 2]

When you can give clear front-runner Charlotte Dunois a run for her money in the “best girl of IS” competition after just a few episodes, you know you’re one cool chick. As unfair as it was to steal Ling’s cat suit, Tatenashi totally rocked it, stole my heart and rocked my world at the same time.

Saki Rukino [Kakumeiki no Valvrave]

Saki Rukino
[Kakumeiki no Valvrave]

As a former idol, Saki is beautiful, a bit world-weary, ambitious and just a little bit selfish, but she’s also strong and loyal. She’s also the first character to actively want to become an inhuman Valvrave pilot, so you have to respect her commitment, and her handling of every tough situation thrown at her is certainly nothing to scoff at. She’s the reason I started watching Valvrave to begin with.

Myucel Foalan [Outbreak Company]

Myucel Foalan
[Outbreak Company]

I wasn’t planning on watching Outbreak Company because it sounded overly pandering, but once I saw Myucel I was all in. This girl is cute as a button (the half-elf and maid package!), fiercely loyal and cares about her friends enough to sacrifice herself for them. She may just be the perfect girl.

Rei Kuroki [Vividred Operation]

Rei Kuroki
[Vividred Operation]

My favorite character of the series, Rei is the mysterious loner with a dark past, which I’m often a sucker for. She’s also pretty skilled, wielding a bow with considerable skill and being able to defend herself and others with nothing more than a fork. The scarf and the feather marks it hides are also cute.

Mikasa Ackerman [Shingeki no Kyoujin]

Mikasa Ackerman
[Shingeki no Kyoujin]

Beautiful and exceptionally skilled and intelligent, Mikasa is a natural Titan killer. But in spite of that strength she’s also emotionally closed off and doesn’t live for much besides protecting her foster brother, Eren. But to see her in action is a sight to behold.

The Girls of Yamato 2199 Yuki Mori, Kaouru Niimi mostly [Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199]

The Girls of Yamato 2199
Yuki Mori (yellow), Kaouru Niimi (blue) in particular
[Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199]

Yuki Mori: Two episodes in I knew I loved Yuki, enough that I was willing to pay extra to get the gorgeous Megahouse figure of her that was near impossible to find at the time. She’s not afraid to call someone on their shortcomings if necessary, but she’s also incredibly kind, warm, caring and loyal. Don’t even pretend you didn’t choke up at the end of the series when her life was in peril.

Kaouru Niimi: Intelligent, determined and not above using her sex appeal to achieve her goals, Kaouru is a welcome addition to the Yamato crew. Though she may initially be on the wrong side, she nonetheless has morals, calling off the coup when it threatens lives. Thanks to Sanada, she is given a second chance and she easily proves her worth. I’ll admit, I kind of dig whatever subtle mixed feelings she may have towards Sanada, whether it be sympathy for his inability to understand poetry and beauty, or genuine attraction because he’s a good guy nonetheless.

kyoukai_no_kanata

Shizuku Ninomiya, Izumi Nase, Mitsuki Nase
[Kyoukai no Kanata]

Shizuka Ninomiya: Shizuka is incredibly good-looking, tough as nails and I have a weakness for perpetually-single adult anime characters, so this was pretty much a gimme.

Izumi Nase: With Izumi it’s mostly the looks and how she wields her three-section staff, but as the face of her family’s organization, she was forced to grow up quickly and make the tough decisions, which I wish could have been explored further.

Mitsuke Nase: The youngest of the Nase clan, Mitsuke is often left on the sidelines of family affairs, but her teasing of Akihito and harsh criticism of her “sister complex” brother were highlights of the show. And her misfortune in the infamous idol episode was to our entertainment benefit.

Bellows [Suisei no Gargantia]

Bellows
[Suisei no Gargantia]

A buxom red-headed scavenger who most often acted as the voice of reason on the show, it’s quite obvious from appearances why she makes the list. Though her screen time became increasingly diminished as the series went on, she is getting her own spin-off manga, so I’m not the only one who noticed her potential.

Demon King/Crimson Scholar & Big Sister Maid [Maoyuu Maou Yuusha]

Demon King/Crimson Scholar & Big Sister Maid
[Maoyuu Maou Yuusha]

Demon King/Crimson Scholar: Though called demon king, she is actually a gorgeous and well-endowed female. She’s also well-read, incredibly intelligent, wise beyond her years and has dreams of a peaceful future between demons and humans. Smart is sexy! It’s just a shame the horns aren’t real.

Big Sister Maid: Born in unfortunate circumstances, once saved she works to make her life better through hard work and study. And in episode 9, donning the appearance of the “demon king” and about to be executed, she gives an impassioned speech to the crowd of protesters and not only wins them over and saves herself, but starts a revolution in the process. She certainly won me over.

Suzuno Kamazuki [Hataraku Maou-sama]

Suzuno Kamazuki
[Hataraku Maou-sama]

Cute and low-key, this traditional-garment-clad girl studied the wrong era of Japan in an attempt to blend in when she came over from her world, and thus her inability to comprehend modern technology made her all the more cute. But don’t let the cute façade fool you, she’s actually the church’s chief executor of heretics and enemies of the church, and admittedly that’s kind of hot.

Tenri Ayukawa / Diana [The World God Only Knows: Goddesses]

Tenri Ayukawa / Diana
[Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen]

Tenri is the shy girl next door which makes her irresistibly cute, while Diana is the goddess inside her that tends to be more aggressive, either taking over for Tenri when she needs to be forceful or strongly encouraging her to take action, giving her a great deal of sex appeal. That both of them share the same body and seem to really be in sync with one another makes them the complete package.

Tsukiko Tsutsukakushi [Hentai Ouji to Waranai Neko]

Tsukiko Tsutsukakushi
[Hentai Ouji to Waranai Neko]

A girl who initially wears her feelings on her sleeve, she wishes to be able to conceal her feelings so as to not be perceived as childish anymore, which unfortunately results in her being completely unable to express any emotion in her facial expressions at all. She still manages to be pretty darn cute despite that.

Hazuki Ferrari [Galilei Donna]

Hazuki Ferrari
[Galilei Donna]

There wasn’t a whole lot this show had to offer each week, but at least Hazuki’s presence gave me something to look forward to.  Unfortunately I feel that the show did her character (or anyone not named Hozuki) a complete disservice by not giving her much focus. Ah, what could have been.

And that’s all, folks. See you next year!

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