2013's must-watch Anime

Try out these four gems

2013's must-watch Anime

Kick-Heart © Masaaki Yuasa and Production I.G.

The state of the anime industry in 2013 feels like the fullest expression yet of the long tail phenomenon. Shows are being made in ever-increasing numbers, but in ever-specialised forms, a prime example being this year’s 'Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3' (yes, that’s a real title), a show specifically targeted at fans of airsoft guns. That’s fine and good for airsoft fans, but not so much for the rest of us. Studios are pumping out more anime than ever before (we count 36 series running this season alone), but wading through the junk to find the gems has become a full-time job. Yet we’ve taken up the task. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or vaguely remember catching some episodes of 'Sailor Moon' back in the '90s, here are some of our top picks for 2013.


The latest from director Masaaki Yuasa, the wild and warped mind behind 2004’s psychedelic 'Mind Game', 'Kick-Heart' was financed via Kickstarter, raising over $200,000. Animated by a main team of just four people, 'Kick-Heart' is the story of an unlikely romance between two sadomasochistic pro wrestlers, Lady S and Maskman M. Yeah, it’s about as gloriously ridiculous as it sounds. Director Yuasa clearly has a lot of love for the over-the-top melodrama of pro wrestling, and a sense of joy permeates the film, as does a real handmade feel: sometimes you’ll swear you can almost see the animators’ thumbprints on the screen. In an era of perfect, computer-assisted animation, that’s a good thing. Clocking in at 12 minutes, 'Kick-Heart' nonetheless packs in enough visual madness you’ll find yourself unable to watch just once.

Attack on Titan

'Attack on Titan' feels like the first bona fide phenomenon in years – I haven’t gone a week since the show starting airing without overhearing a conversation about it. Sometime in the distant future, humanity is nearly wiped out by a race of giants (the eponymous Titans), who enjoy gobbling up us poor humans. To survive, the human race is forced to build and spend their lives behind a series of giant walls. This lasts until an even gianter Colossal Titan breaks through the wall, forcing our heroes to take up arms and attempt to stop the human race from going extinct. 'Attack on Titan' doesn’t back away from melodrama, often setting up a horrifying situation and playing out how its characters survive (or don’t) under the pressure. But the coolest thing about the show is the Titan hunters’ Maneuver Gear, grapple hooks which allow them to swing around, dodge and attack the Titans with dexterity that’d put Spiderman to shame.

Kill la Kill

On air since October, 'Kill la Kill' is the first TV series from studio Trigger, founded by director Hiroyuki Imaishi, an alumnus of legendary studio Gainax (Evangelion). Set in a high school lorded over by a sword-wielding, magic uniform-wearing student council, 'Kill la Kill’ centres around one main character, Ryuko, who wields a giant red sword that looks like half a pair of scissors. She’s after the mysterious character behind her father’s death – and the other half of those scissors, if you ask us. 'Kill la Kill', now about halfway through its 25-episode run, has been bringing the same frenetic energy as Imaishi’s best work over at Gainax week after week. Though Ryuko’s gravity-defying sailor uniform makes the show a bit embarrassing to watch in public, the show’s strong lead females give it some feminist cred, albeit in a very anime way.

Space Dandy

Okay, so this isn’t set to air until January of 2014, but allow us some creative licence. 'Space Dandy', a science fiction series about 'the dandiest guy in space', is the newest project from director Shinichiro Watanabe, who 15 years ago brought the world a little show called 'Cowboy Bebop'. He’s brought a gaggle of 'Bebop' vets along for the ride too, including screenwiter Dai Sato. Watanabe explained at a recent convention that if 'Bebop' was 80 percent drama and 20 percent comedy, 'Space Dandy' is the reverse. To get a feel for what the show might be like, consider the following: Dandy has a cat named Meow and drinks at a Hooters-esque bar called Boobies. Yeah, subtle is probably not the word.

By Matt Schley
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


Add your comment

Copyright © 2014 Time Out Tokyo