It's a bit disappointing how 2013 started off pretty weak.
This year's winter series offered a wide range of series which didn't fully interest me but they turned out more decent than I expected. I guess I was just overthrown by my initial outlook. The carry-over series from fall were a great life saver.
I don't particularly have any top picks for the season but some series did surprised me a bit. For winter 2013 series, I'd say that I was pretty impressed at Love Live!: School Idol Project, Mondaiji-tachi ga isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? and Tamako Market. All of these series had those low expectations on my first look most especially Love Live! since the first episode kind of reminded me of TARI TARI in a bad way. Tamako Market and Mondaiji-tachi instantly piqued my interest right from the first episodes while Love Live! was a bit boring but eventually becomes enjoyable as episodes go on.
The carry-over series from fall 2012 as well as the multi-cours series HUNTER x HUNTER and Uchuu Kyoudai made winter a great season. HUNTER x HUNTER's Greed Island arc turned out really interesting (and I thought that the Phantom Troupe arc was the best one out there). But fall series carry-overs weren't really all great since Robotics;Notes have clearly shown how uninteresting it really is past the second-half (and no, I haven't written my thoughts on it since I haven't finished it) but I think that we're all thrown by the comparison between R;N and Steins;Gate since the latter was really amazing that R;N wasn't able to keep up and please every fans of S;G.
Now, let me go through my quick thoughts after finishing the series I watched for winter. These series are arranged according to when I finished them but Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru, Gj-bu, AKB0048 and Hakkenden: Touhou Hakken Ibun weren't able to get some quick final impression.
Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?
I honestly thought that Mondaiji-tachi is a pointless and fanservice-y type of series but I was stand corrected. I honestly wished that this could have been a longer series. Each episode would always go down to business and would always end up being entertaining as it is. With a 10-episode run, it's a real letdown to see this end up in something that never really showed their community actually regaining their flag or name. Character-wise, I'd say that their development weren't satisfying particularly I wanted to know more about Sakamaki Izayoi (Asanuma Shintaro) since the real nature of his gift was never really revealed. With regards to art and animation, no complains in there. Mondaiji-tachi's animation was definitely great topped with those really nice character designs and decent art.
All in all, Mondaiji-tachi is a pretty decent series with an ending very open for a second season which is something I'm really hoping for :D It's a recommended series for those who likes their fantasy series entertaining enough without the occasional ecchi scenes :3
Yama no Susume
Yama no Susume is basically about girls climbing mountains and having fun along the way with some quick mountain climbing knowhow. It was fun to watch at times with its light and warm atmosphere; yet at the same time, this light-hearted atmosphere would make me feel bored which made me glad that it's only 3mins short. I guess I can all blame it to my lack of interest in girls doing what they always do or girls trying to do fun things and tries to be cute along the way.
PSYCHO-PASS ended its run well but not entirely something that awed me. It's no doubt that the series had its great plot twists, intense scenes, interesting message but its overall impact to me isn't really something that would make me want more of it. I'm pretty sure that the outcome of their hunt for Makishima Shogo (Sakurai Takahiro) was very predictable but it still worked out pretty well. The Sybil System is a pretty interesting element of the series but its idea won't be successful without the help of characters such as Makishima, Kougami Shinya (Seki Tomokazu) and Tsunemori Akane (Hanazawa Kana) who each had their own views of what or how the system should be. In a series like this, I'd say that Urobuchi Gen's greatest strength are the dialogues with a couple of quotes here and there which always kept me on my seat making sure I catch everything their saying. Although PSYCHO-PASS is not really a series I'll re-watch over and over, it'll definitely be one of the anime series I won't forget easily.
Cuticle Tantei Inaba
Cuticle Tantei Inaba is like any other gag series out there although it did gave some effort of coming up with a mystery-like plot which I can't really decide whether it's a good or a bad thing. After seeing the first episode of Cuticle Tantei Inaba, I just knew what to expect from this series. Similar to other comedy-shounen series with actual plots, Cuticle Tantei Inaba pulled out a half-serious arc (Yes. Half serious) and I personally think it turned out okay. Despite being a comedy-centered series, I actually liked their half-serious arc and surprised at myself at how I didn't get bored at it.
Cuticle Tantei Inaba is certainly a fun series to watch. I'm probably ready to re-watch it any time. But it's definitely not for someone who wants some serious plot because this series doesn't take itself seriously with almost each episode ending the same way - Don Valentino always getting away with things. Maybe if I'm going to make a quick description, Cuticle Tantei Inaba's comedy style is like some typical comedy cartoon out there with the hero chasing a villain in a funny way.
~my full final impression can be read here.
The reason why I never watched Tamako Market at the beginning of the season was because of the idea that it came from the same makers as K-ON! which kind of bored the hell out of me (but I still managed to finish it until 2nd season :P). But you see, despite how Tamako Market had the similar character-feel as K-ON!, Tamako Market became more enjoyable. I really like how Tamako Market opened up. It had a really nice and a bit flashy feel to it with how the shopping district was shown - the matsuri-feeling of it. Dera is certainly a fun character to watch throughout the series and Tamako is one of the most loveable characters this season. Even though I'm no moe-character fan, I definitely liked her :3 What only disappointed me in Tamako Market is how the ending lacked impact. I don't know what more I'd like to see in the ending but it definitely isn't something that I'd remember strongly once this year ends. But overall, Tamako Market is definitely KyoAni's typical fun-moe series.
Regardless of what others have been saying about Mangirl!, I have admit that I actually enjoy watching this series. Unlike Bakuman. which basically focuses on hard-work, friendship and victory (that's JUMP for you! HA!), Mangirl! simply goes around being silly yet somehow being educational in terms of their premise. With a quick 3mins per episode, it gave a nice overview of how a manga magazine is being done :3 And at the end of it, I'm looking forward to watch more of this series.
AMNESIA's execution kind of reminded me of last Summer's Arcana Famiglia carrying that interesting premise and ending up being quite an annoying. I guess there really is nothing to expect from an anime based on an otome game. Seriously.
The best thing AMNESIA probably did successfully was the merging of all routes. The sequence of the stories also worked well as it gives a pretty nice development on the heroine's decisions but as for her character, she was barely good enough given her amnesia being the biggest obstacle in her characterization. Setting the heroine aside, the different routes had their own strengths and weaknesses and as the series progresses, it's a good thing that each route becomes better than the previous one (excluding Ikki's route, I guess. It was just the worst). Overall, AMNESIA is predictably a series not worth the time. Its opening episode worked itself pretty well as it gave a pretty interesting premise; continued its run in a mediocre manner with one guy after the other; and finally ending it with a decent arc but poor execution.
~my series review can be read here.
Zetsuen no Tempest: Civilization Blaster
Zetsuen no Tempest is one of the series I looked forward to the most last Fall season. I'm not entirely sure if it was just me but since BONES was also handling this series, I kind of got a bit worked up since I liked how both GOSICK and UN-GO turned out. Seeing how those two gives off the same aura as Zetsuen, I believed that BONES can give justice to Zetsuen. And with just how it ended in a predictably happy ending for everyone, it left a mark to me in which will surely push me to re-watch this series one of these days.
I kind of hated myself for stalling Zetsuen around 5 episodes after starting it. The pacing kind of ticked me off and I was in a bit of the impression that Mahiro (Toyonaga Toshiyuki) and Yoshino (Uchiyama Kouki) would be running off from Samon 's (Koyama Rikiya) team all the way until the end. But by the time I reached the part where Yoshino and Mahiro finally talked to Samon, I just knew that I had to keep my eyes on this one. I barely cared about the Shakespearian dialogues after a couple of episodes. I think that one of the best things I like about this series are the characters, particularly the main characters composing of Mahiro, Yoshino, Aika (Hanazawa Kana) and Hakaze (Sawashiro Miyuki).
On a final note, I really loved the main cast on this one. HanaKana's role as Aika and Miyuki's role as Hakaze left a mark on me and both definitely became memorable roles for me - both in terms of characters and their voicing. Setting aside my two fave female voice actors, I'd say that Toyonaga Toshiyuki became the voice actor I loved in here. I only remembered him as Ryuugamine Mikado (DURARARA!!) and Matsuoka Shun (Kimi to Boku.) carrying that really gentle voice which excelled in soothing narrations and after hearing him as Mahiro here in Zetsuen, I'd say that I'd like him to get more of those aggressive roles :3
Ixion Saga DT
As I have mentioned before in my first impression on Ixion Saga DT, it's greatest strength is its comedy. Director Takamatsu Shinji (Gintama) is pretty dependable in this kind of comedy style but just like how I see Gintama, Ixion Saga DT also had its inconsistencies in its comedy delivery. Story-wise, there's honestly nothing to expect here (add to that the fact that they just introduced their 'supposed to be goal' around 5 episodes before it ends) and character development is pretty minimal since they focus mainly on character comedy. Eguchi Takuya certainly fits the straight man character in a comedy series so I'd like to see more of that and Fukuyama Jun definitely made Mariandale a really fun character to watch. Kamiya Hiroshi playing a serious-comedy type of character is pretty much like him since straight up comedy doesn't seem like his best role out there (or at least not really something I can see).
All in all, Ixion Saga DT is a fun series to watch with all sorts of comedy here and there but would go totally boring at times with its failed and repetitive scenes and punch lines. It's probably a decent series for those who enjoys stuff like Gintama, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou and the likes.
Love Live! School Idol Project
Love Live! started off pretty weak for me, as I've written in my first impression post since it reminded me of last Summer's TARI TARI with the school shutting down, singing as amateurs and those three main characters Honoka, Umi and Kotori seem like Konatsu, Wakana and Sawa respectively. But you see Love Live! is more than just girls trying to look professional with their amateur knowledge and skills. Although Love Live! gave me the atmosphere of TARI TARI, unlike P. A. Works' forced drama, Love Live! had those light hearted drama, cute and non-bashing characters and those nice CGI (which I honestly thought will be bad).
As my overall impression on Love Live!, I'd say that it's more of a so-so series for me. The characters aren't entirely my type and this kind of series with lots of girls going around isn't entirely my style but Love Live! does work as a pretty decent slice of life series one of those with characters seriously trying to achieve something and developing themselves.
THAT ENDING WAS JUST AMAZING!
The third season of Bakuman. became the weakest one for me since the second half had that obviously rushed pacing but J.C. Staff gave justice for its ending. It's something not easy to forget and I'm pretty positive that it strike through every manga reader out there with that epilogue.
This last season bundled everything from the PCP-arc, to the Reversi-arc until Miho's arc which is why it came out so rushed. Despite how it still had the similar atmosphere from the previous seasons, it didn't moved me as much as before but I have to honestly admit that I liked Miho's seiyuu arc. The episodes towards the end were really great that it didn't matter so much to me that they kind of rushed past the second half. The second Nanamine-arc that they cut was a good decision and I was actually hoping that they'd do that :3 that part of the series was pretty pointless and by taking it off in the adaptation, they were able to make a better ending for Nanamine at the epilogue(:
All in all, Bakuman. ended successfully with that very memorable epilogue. With 75 episodes all in all, Bakuman is definitely one of the most unforgettable, inspiring, moving and enjoyable series I've seen. I'll definitely re-watch the entire series a couple of weeks from now :3
Girls und Panzer
It's probably my low expectations which made me appreciate and love this series so much. I honestly thought that Girls und Panzer will be like any other all-girls series out there with an all moe cast and doing nothing else but try to be cute but I was stand corrected. Instead of being a totally senseless series, Girls und Panzer showed itself to be worthy of being called a good series with its objective seriously laid down and shown throughout its run. Girls und Panzer had a consistent run with all those cute and fun characters, nice match music, and decent art and animation.
The finale of Girls und Panzer which aired this Winter was truly worth the wait. The intense match between Oarai Girls Academy and Black Forest Peak was something I never expected. That handicap match for Oarai as well as Nishizumi's eagerness to help out one of their teammates panzer out of the water and still winning the match under their favor was very expected but some part of me kind of wished that Black Forest Peak won. But that cannot happen right? Since it won't be a happy ending and no one certainly likes that. But I think that the greatest reason why I actually liked how Girls und Panzer ended despite how cliché it was is because I ended up caring about the characters throughout the series (without even realizing it myself).