It’s that time of year where we find the coolest stuff of any category and throw it together for the convenience of the internet. Much like last year, most of the rules still apply, especially the fact that any contender has to have FINISHED this year. Any show is best judged as a sum of its parts, so you won’t find anything in this list that is only halfway done. This year gave us lots of great shows, and in light of that I have expanded the listing for this year up to 15 shows in total.
15) Symphogear G
The first season of Symphogear made the “So Bad it’s So Good” rank on last year’s AOTY ranking. This second romp through the idol infused world of Symphogear has taken a drastic turn for the awesome this year, making for a huge improvement this year. Everything that made the original series watchable has been refined with incredible care, and the only drawback to this season is the fact that some very serious issues with animation quality pop up during the last couple episodes. This show was lots of fun to watch, and with a third season officially greenlit, there is more fun to come.
14) Vividred Operation
This show has received a lot of flack since it was expected to be Strike Witches: Modern Warfare. While it may not have been the epic ecchi show of the year everyone was hoping for, it is lots of fun to watch, and it panders to anime fans in all the right ways. The best way to describe this show is “Iron Man meets Strike Witches.” This show is all about cute girls defending the world’s alternative energy from alien invaders, and delivers an action-packed adventure full of goodness that anime otaku crave. It may have fallen short of the heavy expectations of some viewers, but this show is a blast to watch and worth checking out if you are in the market for a good action/ecchi show.
13) Kinero Mosaic
This lovely tale of friendship between different cultures and nations is one of the greatest slice of life shows to come around this year. This anime does slice of life perfectly, with a blend of cute characters, bits of comedy, and a peaceful, yet fun, tone. This show got me through some tough times in my personal life this year, and I had a great time watching it otherwise. If you enjoy slice of life anime, this is a “must watch” to add to your list for this year.
12) Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko
(The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat)
This is one of the year’s best comedies about a young man and the troubles in his life caused by an unusual cat god. This show is both cute and hilarious, with a touch of ecchi that makes it more than worth checking out. Fun fact: a wayward google search has even given this show enough fame to appear in a skit on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.
11) Kyoukai no Kanata
(Beyond the Horizon)
This is an otherwise excellent anime that has suffered from being forced through both a brutal hype machine and some very unreasonable scrutiny simply because it is a show made by Kyoto Animation. Dubbed the “Monogatari Killer” since before it’s airing, this show has been unfairly judged by the get go. Kyoani studios delivers a beautifully animated supernatural/action show with fun, charming characters, an interesting universe, and incredible artwork. Ignore the negative buzz and studio fanboys, this show is more than worth a look.
10) Outbreak Company
This anime is about an otaku outcast that is given the job of a lifetime: the opportunity to spread otaku culture to an alternative realm of magic and fantasy. This is the kind of anime that appeals most to those that keep up with anime otaku culture and everything that goes with it, but if you keep up with anime in general you will have a great time watching this. This show has a mix of great characters, comedy, fanservice, and other assorted bits of otaku fun to make for awesome entertainment.
9) Date A Live
Date a Live sets out to take the harem trope commonly found in anime and do something amazing with it. This show does so with laser-guided precision, and the results are nothing short of fantastic. The absurd, yet very fun concept of having the main character swoon cute and deadly girls for the sake of saving the world is loads of fun to watch, and Tsunako’s (the character designer from the Hyperdimention Neptunia games) lovely character designs bring everything to life. With a second season on the way, the life of anime fans couldn’t be better.
8) Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san
(Muromi by the Sea Shore)
If you somehow mashed “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” with an anime about mythical creatures, Muromi-san is what you would get. This show is an unapologetic comedy about drunken mermaids and other assorted mythical creatures screwing around, and it is nothing short of pure hilarity. This anime is guaranteed to make you laugh your ass off, and it has to be one of the best anime comedies of all time.
GJ Bu was yet another awesome slice of life anime from this year. This anime does everything that makes slice of life anime great, with a wonderful blend of amusing characters and its own brand of comedy. The end of this show only left me feeling sad that it was over, and taught us all that the art of hair brushing is one of the best ways to win the hearts of women.
6) Hataraku Maou-sama!
(The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
This is the story of an infamous demon overlord that finds his way into our world, and is forced to bend to the whims of our brutal modern economy. This show treats us to a hilarious satire on modern life for those of us barely scraping by, with a touch of might and magic. If Kevin Smith were to produce an anime, this is what you would get, minus the pot smoking. Maou-sama is a delightful mix of comedy, slice of life, fantasy, and romance that offers much more than meets the eye.
5) Shin Sekai Yori
(From the New World)
In the beginning, this show seemed like a strange trip through a confusing and convoluted world. The sum of the events through this show are what make up the meat and bones of this anime, and you will be left with a thought-provoking ending that makes you question what really makes up right and wrong. This tale of a sudden upheaval through human evolution is both surreal and shocking, and a demonstration of awesome writing within the medium of anime. If you are looking for a unique and intelligent anime, check this out.
4) Girls und Panzer
Most of this show aired last year, but because of the painstaking efforts of everyone to get this show ended properly, the last two episodes did not air until this year. GuP seems like an absurd concept that should never amount to anything good, a show about girls operating tanks as an extracurricular activity for both privilege and glory. However, like anime’s other ventures into antique military culture, GuP turned out to be a formula of sheer genius. This odd combination of cute girls, military history, and sports-anime presentation is a perfect success, leaving fans around the world drooling for more.
3) Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S
(A Certain Scientific Railgun S)
This is the highly anticipated sequel to the popular Index spinoff, “A Certain Scientific Railgun,” featuring a chunk of the franchise’s most popular characters. This show covers territory that has already been tread within “A Certain Magical Index”, but the retelling is so amazingly well done it is more than worth a watch. An entirely new view on the “Accelerator” arc is presented in an action-packed frenzy featuring everyone’s favorite electromaster, and the latter half of the show brings more adventures for a handful of cute girls fighting against evil science. I won’t hide the fact that I love the Index/Railgun franchise, but this addition is nothing short of awesome.
2) Psycho Pass
Psycho Pass was last year’s “honorable mention”, and this year it can get some well-deserved recognition. Psycho Pass presented us with a dystopian future where our freedoms and ambitions are limited by our own thoughts and feelings thanks to startling advancements in science and technology. In light of recent events revealing the NSA’s massive surveillance program and the PRISM system, Psycho Pass’s world featuring the brain scanning SYBIL system grows even more frightening. This anime showed us an interesting world and a terrifying villain that has become the byproduct of it. This show contains a crime drama formula with a sci-fi twist, and is a “must see” for most anime fans, including those of a more casual variety.
1) Shingeki no Kyojin
(Attack on Titan)
Attack on Titan is one of the biggest and most popular anime around the world, and for good reason. This anime takes place in a fantasy-esque setting where mankind has made its final stand for survival behind massive walls to protect itself from man-eating giants, the titans. This anime revolves itself around a group of characters whose lives are changed when the titans are finally able to breach the walls that humanity has relied on for protection for over a hundred years. This story of humanity’s struggle against the titans and the mysteries surrounding them makes for an awesome show that leaves the audience wanting more and more. No matter what part of the globe you live on, Attack on Titan has become one of the most beloved anime series in modern times. If you haven’t at least tried watching this show, you can hardly call yourself a fan of anime.
2013 AOTY Special Categories
This show seemed like nothing more than a shallow clone of last year’s Sword Art Online, but then rose above to prove itself as one of the best shows of the year. Log Horizon takes the idea of having thousands of players trapped in an MMORPG and brings it to life in a way no other show like it has been able to in the past. A great setting, awesome characters, and storytelling that doesn’t rely on shock value makes for an incredible new franchise in anime. At this time, the only thing keeping this show out of the rankings for AOTY is the simple fact that it hasn’t finished yet. Don’t miss this one!
Highschool DXD NEW
Let’s face it, sometimes all we want from an anime is some T&A. Once again, Highschool DXD takes the crown for ecchi anime. The war between demons and angels has never been sexier, thanks to this show’s ability to not give a fuck about holding back on fanservice. This show gets extra kudos for delivering on the ecchi content without holding back for a BD release, even though they will shower everyone with even more ecchi goodness upon the BD release.
Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince
I originally came into MJP with minimal expectations, but I was treated to one of the best mecha anime in recent times. MJP brings us a fairly typical story of humanity fighting for survival against an alien menace, brought to life with CG mecha battles that are nothing short of amazing. This is wildly entertaining, and it has lots of nods to mecha anime and video games from the past. If you want a modern mecha anime that is loads of fun to watch without an insultingly stupid storyline from this year, MJP is your best bet.
So Bad It’s Good
(Valvrave the Liberator)
Valvrave is the result of Sunrise pumping a shitload of cash into one of the worst-written scripts of all time. This is literally the story of teen space-vampires fighting space-Nazis in mecha powered by teen-angst, memories, and rape. I’m not even joking. Valvrave continually presents the audience with one insultingly stupid scenario after another, and does so with a completely straight face. This show brings the definition of “train wreck” to an entirely new level, and because of that, it is also some of the most fun you can have watching anime this year. Despite the pure stupidity of this series, this is also one of the most entertaining shows of the year. Just be sure to remember, the second you begin to take Valvrave seriously is the second you lose.
Monogatari Series: Second Season
The term “overrated” tends to get thrown around too much in the critique of just about any medium, but I have never found a better use for it than to describe this entry into the Monogatari franchise. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two entries of SHAFT’s adaptation of this, but I can’t say the same this time around. Even though this series has enjoyed seemingly endless critical praise around the world, no one can deny the fact that this season has been marred by excessive recap episodes and mediocre storylines that drag on long beyond their welcome. This show constantly fluctuated between being awesome to downright boring, and there are few anime viewers around the world with the guts to call this show out for it. This year was filled with lots of excellent anime that is worth checking out, and all the artsy backgrounds and fanservice in the world aren’t enough to make this one of them.