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Spitz’s Year-end Wrap Up 2013

December 31, 2013

(While in the interest of keeping things spoiler-free, I have done my best to keep specific plot-threads from becoming unraveled prematurely, but please be cautious when reading this article if you have not yet seen them, as the following series are spoken of in a retroactive sense, and what I say may be a detriment to your viewing experience.
You have been warned! Please don’t let me spoil anything for you!:

Attack on Titan
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (tv anime/first two movies)
Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai!
Clannad: After Story
Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu ’09)


開けましておめでとうございます! What a year… I began monthly articles. Got a promotion at work. Moved to a new place. Found a compelling new interest. Got not nearly enough sleep. Played a few games here or there and watched almost my fill in anime.
When placed on a couple lines of text, a year seems like such a insignificant thing.
I won’t waste too much time rambling, but I did want to throw up a sort of year-end retrospective listing off (mostly) everything I’ve posted about and to maybe say a few words here or there about the things that, now at the end of the year, are still sitting firmly at the front of my mind.


The Round-up:
Here is pretty much everything I posted this year. Click names to open the article in which they were found!
(Alphabetical order, but with a bias towards keeping series together where I felt necessary.)

Amagami SS
Angel Beats!
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
Attack on Titan
Black Rock Shooter
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
Clannad: After Story
Day Break Illusion
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
11 Eyes
Fate/Stay Night
Flowers of Evil
Galilei Donna
Ghost Hound
Girls und Panzer
Gunslinger Girl
Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-
Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W
Haganai: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
Hanasaku Iroha
Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home
Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko
Hourou Musuko
Kirino Mosaic
Kodomo no Jikan
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
Kokoro Connect
Kyoukai no Kanata
Little Busters!
Little Busters! Refrain
Lucky Star
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Hajimari no Monogatari
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Eien no Monogatari
Mayo Chiki!
Miyakawa-ke no Kuufuku
Non Non Biyori
Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi
Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai 2
Outbreak Company
Persona 4: The Animation
Seitokai no Ichizon lvl. 2
The Severing Crime Edge
Shinryaku! Ika Musume
Strike Witches 2
Strike Witches: The Movie
Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (’09 version)
The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi
Sword Art Online
Vividred Operation
Watashi ga Motenai no wa dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!
Yuru Yuri
Yuru Yuri 2
Zero no Tsukaima

Bioshock Infinite
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Dungeon Hearts
eXceed (series)
Fatal Frame 2
Forza Horizon
Freedom Fighters
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Grand Theft Auto V
League of Legends
Mario’s Picross
MotoGP ’06
Persona 3: Fes
Persona 4 Arena
Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds
Pokemon (X/)Y (first mention) (second mention)
Saya no Uta
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
Super House of Dead Ninjas
Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Misc Articles:
Getting Lost in the Translations pt. 1: Kana
Spitz’s Incoherent Rambles: Criticism
Spitz’s Incoherent Rambles: Cutting ties with the past / Mistakes
Spitz’s Incoherent Rambles: Fan-Service
Spitz’s Incoherent Rambles: Living Different Lives Over Time / 芝居
Spitz’s Story Corner: A Helping Hand
Spitz’s Story Corner: Stahn and the Monk

Spitz’s Year-end Recommendations:
While there will be no “game of the year” or “anime of the year” accolades handed out here, here are some things that really stuck out over the past year for one reason or another:


Video Games:

Bioshock Infinite:
The first two Bioshock games were easily some of the best shooters I’ve played this past generation. There’s a slower, more intimate feeling to the combat that seems to have been lost in shooters nowadays, and one of my biggest concerns going into Infinite was that the combat might’ve lost some of what it was so great at in the first two games, given Infinite’s more limited player tool-set.
While the intimacy was indeed lessened, the combat was still a ton of fun to participate in, as the things they added (especially the skylines) made it less thoughtful, but much grander feeling in scope. I wouldn’t call it better or worse, I’d just call it different.
The story seems to have been put over a tad too much scrutiny since the game’s release, but I feel like just about any story involving any sort of sci-fi tropes is likely to fall apart under too much thinking.


Grand Theft Auto V:
Even if the multiplayer turned out to be a bummer, and even if the story-telling still isn’t especially great, GTA5 was easily the most just sheer fun I’ve had with a video game in the past year. The game looks and sounds so great, and the world they’ve created feels so tangible that any sort of mischievous mishaps you get into seem all the more hilarious.
While the mission structure is great for giving you specific objectives, and the heist missions in particular are fantastic, it wasn’t until I hijacked a transit bus and jumped it off of a railroad track to avoid the police that Rockstar had me. Maybe it doesn’t catch the world on fire or anything, but Grand Theft Auto is still tremendously entertaining.


Pokemon (X/)Y:
Pokemon X/Y was a somewhat strange case, and I’ll admit that my opinions of it align with the fact that they were aimed right in my direction with the things they touch on with the overall themes of the narrative and gameplay. Their methods of conveying the themes of friendship and cultural connection may have been hit or miss from an execution standpoint, but the PSS system, the world-wide launch, and moments of the game’s ending sequence really made it seem like they were devoted to what they were trying to say.
The game is nicely made, with clean graphics (now full polygonal!), a terrific soundtrack and sound gameplay mechanics, but it’s what was done on the periphery to the gameplay that stuck with me, and it’s a bummer to me that it seems many people have dismissed this(these) game(s) as “just another one of those”.



Clannad/Clannad After Story:
I remember being in low spirits for a few days after a specific spot in this anime, and while at a certain point, one begins to feel somewhat foolish for getting so bent out of shape over a fictional story, it simply goes to show how terrifically executed Clannad’s story is. From the relatable themes to the immensely likable characters, seeing these individuals go through trials is tough, and seeing them soar when those trials are overcome is terrific.


Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!:
I feel like my opinion of Chu-2 is based around the idea that it was a story that I didn’t know I needed to see, but one that I saw precisely when I needed to.
It’s a Kyoani production, and as such, this is a series that seeps quality in the visual and audio departments, but what made it so effective for me is not only the method of story-telling (drawing you into characters via comedy early on), but also the themes present in the story. Chu-2’s ending is one of the more gorgeous to look at I’ve seen, and bears a uplifting message that I’m sure can apply to a lot of people (including myself).
I’m certain this isn’t a series for everyone, but it was precisely what I needed when I needed it most, and while I don’t expect it to hit the same notes as the first, I can’t wait for the second season to air.


Angel Beats!:
This isn’t the first tv anime I saw with Hanazawa Kana voicing a character, but this is the one that made me a fan.
The setting is interesting, the characters are entertaining, the soundtrack is terrific, and the story, when it decides to be, is impactful and endearing.
The story could have benefited from a longer run-time, allowing for more time to be spent on more of the supporting characters, but what it does is effective enough for the narrative it tells.
The last few scenes of this series left me with a bittersweet feeling, achieved through a combination of an excellent sense of place, and feelings of both happiness and uncertainty, which is something I don’t encounter very often, and I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming visual novel.


Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica:
What this series does for pulling your expectations out from under you is amazing, and I’ve never encountered a story that left me guessing with such a flair as Madoka did.
It’s bright and colorful, but it’s dark and disturbing. It uses well-established tropes and archetypes, but it uses them to tell a creative and surprising story. Every once in awhile, I’ll come across a series that, at a certain point, I refuse to stop watching until I see the end, and Madoka was one of those series.



Stuff still worth a mentions:
 And here are some series that, while maybe I wouldn’t instantly recommend anyone check them out, I personally felt like mentioning again as I enjoyed them quite a bit.

Another is my kind of horror story, in that it’s more a mystery than a mindless gorefest. The plot isn’t air-tight, which really becomes evident in repeated viewings, but I still feel like it’s well done. The OVA in particular does an excellent job at fleshing out character and placing everything into context. It was easily the most impactful episode of the series.
The soundtrack fits the tone and pace of the series perfectly, and sounds pretty unique, which I think gives the series more character. It isn’t the most well-made series I’ve seen, but Another is still easily one of my favorites.


Attack on Titan:
The series I avoided for far too long, which goes to show that you can’t always trust word-of-mouth, AoT, similar to something like Madoka, jerks you around via your expectations, especially early on, which immediately scored them my full attention.
It’s a more fantasy setting, in that technology is limited (which I typically dislike), but the characters are so likable, the story is so unpredictable, and the presentation is so brisk and thrilling that I began eagerly looking forward to new episodes. The best part is that the story isn’t over yet!

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu/The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi:
Kyoto Animation are savants when it comes to sense of place in anime. There’s just something about their sound design and their quality of artwork that sucks me into their series in a way that not many other studios can manage. This is especially the case with The Disappearance, where the club room felt like a warm haven from the bitter cold outside. The animation is fantastic as well, with one scene in particular that comes to mind near the end that I remember blowing my mind when I saw it.
The tv anime gets massive respect from me for the Endless Eight subplot. I can’t think of any other context in which something like that would have been acceptable to sit through, yet they somehow made it work. Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but those were the stand-out episodes of the series, and it’s what I immediately think of when I think of Melancholy.


Biggest let-down of the year:
Oreimo 2:
It was by no means a bad series, though I’ve heard plenties of opinions to the contrary. Why was it a let-down? I guess I expected it to leave more of a lasting impression, and I’m unsure whether that expectation was fair on my part to ask of it.
Regardless, Oreimo 2 was an anime that I looked forward to quite a bit (having fondly enjoyed the first season), and while it had its ups and downs and its share of memorable scenes, and I did enjoy the time I spent watching it, it sort of seemed to come and go along with the rest of what I saw this year.

Biggest pleasant surprise of the year:
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica:
I can’t seem to stop talking about this series.
Sort of the polar-opposite of Oreimo 2, I (as maybe many people) went into Madoka assuming it would be something that it ended up not being, but instead of this being a bummer, it sky-rocketed my investment in the series. The art style is creative and a pleasure to look at, the character designs are just as much so, the plot moves at a steady pace yet allows enough wiggle room for character investment and to give you a vivid understanding of the nature of the world in which the story takes place.
I wouldn’t say this anime is for everyone, but for me, the contrasting elements of its presentation, and the creativity and unpredictability of its story-telling left me begging for more, and while I saw numerous truly fantastic series over this past year, Madoka is probably the one that stuck with me the most.


And as for me:

Looking back:
2013 was an important year for me personality. After a number of long, tedious years wasted with no real direction, 2013 was the year in which I finally managed to drag myself (kicking and screaming of course) out of the crummy place my life had been in during the years leading up to now, and I’ve finally found something to move toward.
There were things that could have been handled better without a doubt, as well as a number of situations that should have been avoided altogether, but in the grand scheme of things, 2013 was easily one of my best years, especially within the last decade.

Looking forward:
Now that I’ve finally aimed myself in a direction, the next year will be the first big step in accomplishing my goals. I have no doubt that there will be a number of speed bumps or detours that will need to be dealt with on the way, but simply having an idea in your head as to what you want to do with yourself makes life much more enjoyable than otherwise.
I’m looking forward to seeing what new stories and characters lie ahead on the anime front, as well as what sorts of new experiences a new generation of gaming hardware might bring us.
And in turn, I’m looking forward to continuing to write my monthly articles, rambles and reviews, and continuing to subject you folks to my terribly written 日本語 as I continue to learn the language.

Thank you so very much, anyone who has read something I’ve posted over the past year!
Here’s to the only 2013 we’ll ever see, and to what ups and downs the year ahead of us might bring.

From → Anime, Games, Rambles

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