The end of the Winter 2013 season is a bit of a mixed bag, but the series that finished strong more than made up for the ones that finished not so strong. No Winter series was able to challenge the excellent second cours of New World or Tempest, but Kotoura-san and OreShura had strong final runs that fully validated our sticking with them.
The Unlimited, Tamako Market, and Maoyuu Maou Yuusha had okay endings, while Vividred Operation and Amnesia suffered from comparatively clunky ones, but even a couple poor endings couldn’t undo many weeks of solid entertainment these shows provided through the cold months.
As we close the book on everything below (except for Chihayafuru, which we hope is just getting warmed up), we’re looking forward not only to longer days, open windows, and lower gas bills, but to a Spring 2013 series that brings back two franchises we’ve enjoyed in the past (Oreimo and Railgun), plus a bevy of shows with lots of potential. We’ll also try to be better with spotting Car Cameos going forward!
11. Vividred Operation – Complete (6.417) – We liked the character development, especially the misunderstanding between Rei and the girls getting cleared up…but the Big Bad Alone Boss at the end was dull and underwhelming, and the last-minute restoration of Rei’s world was clumsily handled
10. Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – Complete (6.500) – The penultimate episode felt to us like a contrived waste of time, but the finale was much better, sticking with the message that family can save you – even from yourself
9. Amnesia – Complete (6.667) – Things were resolved, but with the aid of lots of magic-talk and explanations, and not quite deserving of all the build-up. We also wanted to see the heroine’s original world, but were left hanging
8. Tamako Market – Complete (7.000) – A sweet, quiet ending in which Tamako finally puts into words her love of her home and her desire to stay. The fact she’s not really a bride candidate rendered the whole Choi/Dera/Prince thing irrelevant, and instead they were simply three more characters touched by the charm of Bunny Mountain
7. OreShura – Complete (7.462) – Strong in its home stretch, OreShura was open and honest about Eita’s predicament, and the untenable, unfair nature of continuing with a harem. His final choice was predictable, but sensible, and it wasn’t a choice devoid of consequences; it deeply hurt the other three girls in the running
6. Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – Complete (7.667) – A somewhat rushed ending that stuffed a lot of things in. Our favorite episode is the one with the young maid pretending to be Maou, standing up to the church. It was a wonderful microcosm of the series and the huge, rich world it built
5. Chihayafuru 2 – 12/25 (7.750 ▼) – About halfway through, and the series still comes up with different kinds of opponents, ways of playing karuta, and always-thrilling matches. We especially like the smaller scenes between Arata and Shinobu, indicating the latter is Chihaya’s rival in love (or something like it) as well as karuta.
4. Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 11/12 (7.818) – We liked how the series made Sasami’s mother Juju a super-evil villain, but then realistically reconciled the two over a couple episodes. We’ll have to wait for the finale to see if her friend Jou still has dark designs
3. Kotoura-san – Complete (8.083 ▲) – In its final episodes it turned down the silly pervert stuff and went back to the dark drama of the first episode that got us invested in the first place. Ends its final arc an episode early so it can tie up loose ends in the finale, including Kotoura and Manabe declaring their mutual love.
2. From the New World – Complete (8.417) – Truly outstanding effort, taking Saki from her isolated village to a ruined Tokyo and putting her thorough a few more circles of hell before defeating Yakomaru with a simple trick. We also loved the epilogue in which Saki marries Satoru and they conceive a child who inspires hope rather than fear
1. Zetsuen no Tempest – Complete (8.818) – It was sad that Aika had to die, but she was committed to playing the role she was given and following the script to the letter. Her sacrifice brought everyone together into what was essentially a family that kept their world from resetting and civilization from being blasted. We’ll miss this one