Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 2013 Wrap-UP

It’s that time guys, time for my big, 2013 wrap up post! As usual I’m going to be talking about all media I consume in one big post since not only is that just easier for me but also because while some areas are easy to talk about (like anime) there are a lot of areas where it’s going to be a little, messy. But I’ll talk about that as I go along! First though a bit of housekeeping, as people have already noticed I’ve started using ads on the site, I’m trying to be more diligent about putting in referral links (should have some to Right Stuf soon, although sadly the reviews that get the most views are the ones which don’t have a physical release yet), and I’m going to change it up a bit more next year as well. When I started the site three years ago the format I chose, breaking everything up into their own sections, was a good idea since it made me consider multiple parts of the show and often made it easier to get going while writing. However I feel like I’ve grown past that point so starting January first I’m going to shift to a more free form style just like almost everyone else uses, and that will be for everything I review. Also, I feel like by doing this the infrequent little essays I write, which for the past year have just been going on my tumblr, will fit in better and I can post those here as well, just trying to catch up to the rest of the blogging community since I like what they’re doing and want to be part of it myself.

So, with that out of the way, here’s what my favorite things of 2013 were!


In some ways this is the easiest section to write but, after a lot of deliberation I’ve decided that there will only be four favorite shows on my list this year. Why? Because while it was easy to think of the first three and only a bit more time to decide on number four, I just couldn’t think of a good fifth one. I have a tumblr post which talks about all the series I ended up liking enough to consider buying (ironically enough the numbers are almost the exact same as last years, 53 tried and 12 that I want to buy) and it also touches a bit on the shows I watched this year that didn’t air in 2013 that are also tentatively on my to-buy list. One thing I was better at this year however it catching up with shows that I didn't try one season but caught after they ended, I wasn't able to do that for every show but I'm hoping that this will also keep my to-watch list from inflating as quickly as it does.

To keep things clear I’ve decided to be like a number of other bloggers and only include shows that aired and ended in 2013 in my list, especially after being burned by a couple of shows that started great and fell hard on their faces in the second half.

As I’ve already stated, part of the reason I liked this show as much as I did is certainly because of how long I had to wait for it, even with that in mind I didn't think it was going to knock Crowds off the throne for me (and these days I have a pretty good sense of what shows I’ll like and which I’ll love before I even start watching). But it did, the wild, colorful nature of the art and animation, symbolism in both the visuals and the characters actions, and seeing the underlying story revealed made me fall head over heels in love with the story again. Well, Koto helped too, I’ll admit that I found a certain amount of gleeful fun in watching her cause trouble along with her hammer/A and Un, but of course it’s her character (straight-forward and simple in many ways but with her own very human fears) that helps make the entire story actually happen so who could blame me for liking that?

2. Gatchaman Crowds
I was first interested in this show just because it had a female lead in a sentai group (and the character designs looked cute) but I fell in love with it since it felt like a show with the kind of modern day setting that so few people seem to get right. It managed to both say that superheroes aren't always necessary but also create a situation where they were really helpful, heck it even managed to have politicians/public services come off as both a group of people who were really unprepared for supernatural happenings but, surprise surprise, can actually adapt using the training they got. Best of all though, it understood social media; "Galax is good!" "No, Galax is powerful" which really describes all communication ever. I did like the characters pretty well and thought that the overall plot worked nicely as well but it was the setting that made me love the show and why I'll remember it down the road. I am happy that it looks like they're adding in another episode for the BR box-set release, it felt like one or two things had been too truncated, although I'm not exactly sure how they plan to get that second season out of it.

3. Psycho-Pass
Cyberpunk is not my favorite genre just because I've seen it (and it's half-sister Dystopia) so many times lately and in some ways the setting didn't quite work since the characters weren't always even aware of what kind of crappy world they lived in (and let's not get me started on the technology again...). But one thing made this for me and that was when the final episode confirmed that yes, Akane had been our protagonist all along and that this was the story of her starting out as a rookie, naive cop but someone who had the guts to look the system in the eye and swear that they will be the one who creates a new world where it's no longer needed. That in and of itself is pretty badass and the way the show did it subverted a few of the usual sci-fi tropes (half of which was because Akane is a young woman and I can't think of many, if any, other stories with similar set-ups that had a female lead) that I ended up enjoying the story and I thought it fleshed out a lot of the side characters very nicely as well. I'm super thrilled that there's a second season coming, since obviously the story isn't over yet, even if I'll spend the show's entire run holding my breath, praying that it doesn't suddenly go off the rails.

4. Blastof Tempest
Sometimes I watch a series and go "OMG, I'm in love with this and need to own it immediately not only so I can have it on hand 24/7 but so I can throw money at the people who made it" and other times I go "so, it's been months since I finished this and I can't stop thinking about it, clearly I need a copy of it back in my life yesterday." This happens to me for more than just anime but I still was surprised when I started compliling my year-end list and found this title so highly ranked. True the second half surprised me in how well it worked (pull of a near 180 degree genre shift plus subvert most of the tropes about friends and enemies? sure!) but I was rather bored with the first half. However, time seems to have mellowed out those feelings and, especially after realizing how well in some ways the series fits in with Shakespeare's plays thematically, I'm going to keep it on the list.

Holy crap, so my top three shows all have female leads and, while Hakaze and Aika aren't the main protagonists in BoT, they're also hugely important characters in the show and are certainly among the main characters. Wow, well that's never going to happen again.


This has been a bit of an odd year for me bookwise. On the one hand I read some good books but most of them weren’t from this year, heck I started a couple of series that had books published this year yet didn’t have the time to get to that particular book and then most of the books I was most excited about came out in the fall which means that I’m still waiting on my local library system to get them. New Year’s Resolution: come up with a better way to remember which books I want to read when so I can remember to keep checking my library’s catalog until they get it (especially since it seems like my new system is 1) Enormous and 2) Seems to get a lot of books quickly). If I play my cards right I’ll be joining a second system as well pretty soon but that doesn’t help me right now.
And so, it’s awkward and hard to say but, out of the 2013 books I managed to read in 2013 I don’t have a favorite or even a list of favorites. Yes I liked many of them, TheSummer Prince, When We Wake, Out of the Easy, The Lost Sun, Scarlet, DarkTriumph, Quicksilver, A Natural History of Dragons, The Madness Underneath but none of them were books that I was wild about, that I spent days thinking about afterwards and swore I’d buy as soon as I saw them in the used bookstore (except for Quicksilver, that I’m sure would have made the list). I’m not sure if the books I didn’t have a chance to read would make me feel like that either but the list of what I didn’t have a chance to read is far longer, Battle Magic (that one I know I’ll love), The Dream Thieves, Siege and Storm, The Crown of Midnight, The Bitter Kingdom, Hero, Sorrow’s KnotCurtsies & Conspiracies, The Night Itself, ironically I have Untold but since I only got a hold of it a few days ago I haven’t been able to finish it yet and I should be getting City of a Thousand Dolls soon but haven't yet. Last year I remember I did fairly well and managed to read just about everything I wanted to before January 1st but this year so many of the books came out in the second half of the year I never had a chance.

Comics of all kinds (Western, Manga, and Web)

Hmm, this one is always a weird one to talk about since, while I devote and entire month to manga and webcomics each it feels hard to declare a series “One of my favorites of the year” when one bad update could ruin all of it and conversely my favorites might change week to week because of one good update (although ironically webcomics still do this far less than anime, ie totally crap out on the ending). I did go to SPX this year, my first comics-first-and-comics-las con, and really liked having the chance to get a little more in touch with the Indie American Comics base. I actually got excited about a few titles this year which was rather nice, and I’m starting to take advantage of Viz Manga which is great for some older shojo series I’ve always wanted to read but don’t have the money or shelf space for 20+ volume series (even when most of the volumes are regular prices and not ridiculous, $40+ for a single volume, although I’ll admit I have paid about $20 for a single volume of an OOP manga before). My odd trend/luck of having at least two or three kickstarters I’m interesting in happening within a month of each other continues, thankfully it evens out to 8 or 9 total a year which is more doable for my budget although this year I did have to start passing up on some (I swear I will get that A Redtail’s Dream book someday! Heck even my mom was worried about me not being able to get a copy of that one)

Movies/TV Series

Well, like last year I managed to watch five, currently airing tv shows and honestly I don’t feel like just listing them would make for a good favorites list, especially since I dropped Once Upon A Time back in the spring after it’s second season and it sounds like it was a good thing I did. Of the others, Doctor Who continues to be both good and bad, often in the same episode, and never can I think of another show that I’ve continued watching that has been this inconsistent but there you go. And I’m also a bit disappointed in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, I feel like the writers don’t quite know where they want the story to go since I just can’t work out what they hope to accomplish with the individual characters and this far into the show I should be able to see at least that much! Almost Human has been pretty good so far, although I fail to see why critics are apparently calling it a hopeful sci-fi-drama, behold the power of tone and how it can influence people into believing a setting is less crappy (for the characters in it) than it actually is? Finally, I am however still enjoying Elementary, one thing I sometimes find hard to grasp is just how adult characters are supposed to be able to grow and change, I mean shouldn’t you have worked out the basics of how to grow up by now??? But in Elementary I can see how you can be an adult and still have a ways to go and I continue to like how the show handles that idea and it’s own tone, all of the character arcs are coming along quite nicely now. I have no idea how much longer I’ll continue to watch this show, to the end of the second season of course, but I do hope that it doesn't run for years and year and that the writers figure out a graceful, natural way to end it before it runs itself into the ground.

As for movies, well, most of the films I wanted to see came out in the spring but now that I am without a cheap theater (the cheapest I’ve been able to wrangle lately is $10 per ticket, a far cry from my $1/$4.25 theaters) I still haven’t been able to see much. I still haven’t seen Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, The Great Gatsby, At World’s End (although technically I want to see Hot Fuzz first but regardless), and Pacific Rim, heck come to think of it the only films I saw this year which left an impression on me were the three I saw recently; Thor 2, Frozen, and The Hobbit 2 and honestly I think that only Frozen would make a top favs list for me. I've even fallen behind on anime films, I was hoping for a chance to see Up on Poppy Hill and Wolf Children but neither of those panned out, although given that it usually takes at least a year for a film to make it's way over from Japan to US theaters, and then even later to DVDs/BRs, I'm honestly not that surprised.

So, it's been a weird year only insomuch that I had a really hard time actually getting to media released in this year and also a bit odd that there's not much I'm looking forward to in 2014 yet. But I'm still excited because I'm always excited for a new year since that always means I'm going to find some amazing new things (and some amazingly terrible things but sometimes that's part of the fun too). 

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