2013 marked fifty years since Osamu Tezuka adapted his Mighty Atom manga to animation on television, and I did spend part of that year keeping up with the posts on a weblog that marked the anniversary by looking at all the years in anime since. So far as the conventional wisdom sloshing around went, there remained outcroppings in those commemorations of “anime just isn’t what it once was”; for that matter, too, I did eventually take in a stronger reminder or two there had been animation in Japan before Tezuka, perhaps in advance of criticisms he put the industry on a path to overworking underpaid artists. (However, his work in comics may do more to protect him in the estimation of others than William Hanna and Joseph Barbera’s work in theatrical animation did to protect them against judgments of their own television work from the 1960s.) In getting past that anniversary year, though, I can look back and think some series from it have wound up impressing me, even if I can’t quite single one out as better than all the others.

I was slow to watch Attack on Titan, but when I did get around to its home video release I was convinced I could understand those overheard comments about a “breakout hit” of the sort that had only seemed to have passed from the scene years before, leaving those already watching anime taking in more reprehensible shows requiring long desensitization. The only problem, perhaps, was that when the series did continue I couldn’t find the time to watch its first episodes over again first, leaving me just to notice more worked-up reactions from others. Gatchaman Crowds was a considerable variation on an established brand name. Its animation might not have been that great and I have to admit some of its characters took a bit of getting used to, but it did pack some big ideas, even if their cyber-utopianism is now unfortunately disparaged in general; even its own sequel already seemed to show more caution on the subject. Genshiken Second Generation just continued an existing story, but did seem a still more satisfying adaptation for me than its predecessors had been; too, perhaps, the manga became more controversial in the volumes following the adaptation’s attempt to “wrap up partway through.” Gundam Build Fighters in context may only point out what a tough decade it’s been for mecha anime to win general approval, perhaps the one tarnished flip side of being able to feel personally positive about recent anime. Still, it did manage an unusual and amusing take on a franchise prone to its own curt dismissals.

Kill la Kill was also very popular at the time, although it was definitely a series that might seem to need desensitization beforehand. I was caught up in the enthusiasm of others enough to buy the Blu-Rays from Aniplex of America, if still more grudgingly than before; before too long I wasn’t buying anything more from that company at all, and I still haven’t got around to rewatching the series. Kyousougiga took me much longer to get around to watching for the first time, but by the time I’d worked through its “ONA version” and “TV version” I was quite impressed with its colourful story and willing to mention descriptions like “hidden gem”; I can’t quite articulate why I did sort of back away from calling it my singular standout of the year beyond wondering if that might somehow be more trying to claim some extra measure of unearned discernment for myself. Love Live! might be significant for the multiple sequels and multimedia franchise it led into; it offers lots of things if different things for different people (for example, while I grew to like both its “hard work and power of friendship” themes and its music and note how there’s a character for every taste, I’m just not as interested as many others are in pairing those characters off). One movie from this year I happened on through an element of accident was Patema Inverted; although its “falling up” story isn’t as widely acclaimed as some I found it interesting enough to watch more than once, something I haven’t quite managed yet with some other anime movies from the past ten years.