The Top 20 Episodes of 2013

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We’ve sat through 544 episodes of anime in the 353 days of 2013 there have been so far, a not-excessive-at-all 1.54 episodes per day. The following are the twenty episodes we enjoyed the most, comprising 3.68% of the total; the cream of the crop. These episodes stuck out, and in every case had a significant emotional impact on us, whether that emotion was elation, despair, excitement, fuck-yeah-ness, etc.

We realize there are still twelve days left in the year, and many shows save their best for last, but rather than replace the episodes on this list we’ll merely add them. Accompanying each of our 20 choices is a quote from our review of it. Let’s dive into the cream:

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20. The World God Only Knows III – 10

“This is the second time in two days we’ve dealt with an episode in which the bad guys…puts our heroes’ backs up against the wall…Last week’s diversion to Point Rock was a little flimsy, but the raised stakes work here…Keima completely abandons pretense and tact. He mutters things out loud that he’d normally only think…in the end, he’s the cooler head who rejects going out in a blaze of glory”

kyouso9

19. Kyousougiga – 06

“The more we learn of Yakushimaru’s past, the more it seems like he was the victim of a mad scientist/priest…Yakushimaru didn’t sign up for any of this…but he’s stuck…there’s a striking contrast between the playful bliss of the siblings’ past and their over-the-top sparring in the present…Myoue’s beads, Yase’s brawn, and Kurama’s tech smash into each other in a brilliant amplification of rough-housing”

Team Mizusawa

18. Chihayafuru 2 – 19

“[Taichi] grabs luck by the scuff of the next and gives it a good shake until it finally favors him. Of course, he didn’t win just because of luck. It was a team match and it was a full team effort. It was also, not surprisingly, the best match of the season to watch. With the table so deftly set and the pieces in position and the stakes loud and clear, all this episode has to do is let ‘er rip”

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17. Kotoura-san – 03

“Once Kotoura is in the hospital, peeking in at a battered Manabe, thinking about how he doesn’t mind getting hurt for her sake, she chokes, and decides to run (though, obviously, not for good).What she has yet to learn is that part of letting people get close to you is accepting that sometimes they’ll get hurt, and so will you. It’s not her fault, nor anyone else’s. It’s just life”

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16. Golden Time – 06

“we were expecting Banri’s “just friends” situation with Kouko to be drawn out a little more to underline how miserable it’s making Banri to be around someone who doesn’t share his feelings…but all the conditions necessary for him to let Kouko go—and confront Linda—were met this week, and in short order…In a superbly emotional, adrenalin-charged moment that nicely skirted the edge of schmaltz, [Kouko] gives him the straight answer he had been awaiting for years: No, she doesn’t want them to be apart. Yes, she loves him too”

15. Maoyu – 01

“We love anime with a Final Fantasy-like epic vibe to them, and this series truly delivers…FF can be a bit stodgy, taking itself too seriously…that’s not the case here, as there’s a nice balance of the serious thematic elements of a huge war, while also finding time for tongue-and-cheek moments…the entire situation is a bit absurd, and the series itself is aware of this, but it’s not too winky, either”

Misaka Mikoto

13/14. Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S – 14/15

“Had Touma not been worried about his friend…he may have sat in that room with Kuroko as Mikoto let herself get killed…but he was worried, and he wasn’t going to let her sacrifice herself for such a limited return”

“[Mikoto] wasn’t prepared for Touma putting his body on the line…in that moment [he] fulfilled the inner wishes Mikoto had long repressed as foolish: miracles can happen, heroes can emerge, damsels can be saved in the nick of time. And most importantly, she has worth”

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“We didn’t think this episode would be able to match the emotional powerhouse of last week, but it ended up doing just that with an unconventional but grand battle…You have to hand it to Railgun; they don’t mess around with their uber-villains”

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12. Kill la Kill – 07

“Like Mako’s family (briefly), this episode had it all. It grabbed and held our interest. It made Ryuuko the architect of her own near-downfall through a seemingly harmless choice. It rocketed us along with the family during their meteoric rise, not skimping on the details of the ritzier life they gain. It slowed them way down when they grew rich and stuffy. Perhaps most impressive was Mako’s transformation from kooky comic relief sidekick to serious foe who doesn’t hesitate to turn on Ryuuko despite all they’d been through. It was a veritable windfall of magnificence”

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11. Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 04

“This week, the ancient surroundings have a powerful effect on Yura, and there she not only discovers “her idea of airsoft”, but also manages to change history itself…one could dismiss the awesome, fantastical elements of this episode as just that: Yura’s delusions, but…that all goes out the window when Rento sees the same scene as Yura…the ramifications are positively spine-tingling, and elevate C3-bu to a whole other level”

(A Level that wouldn’t be reached again, as Yura’s “power” was rarely used again.)

Kousaka Kyousuke, Gokou Ruri

9/10. Oreimo 2 – 07/08

“We were fully resigned to Kyousuke further stalling or outright rejecting Ruri so that he can continue his dead-end quasi-romance with his little sister. Instead…Kyousuke finally makes the right choice: he chooses Kuroneko. And we couldn’t be happier…”

“If you’re not a fan of Kuroneko or this new union, then it was a pretty rough and tedious episode to watch. As for us, we loved every last moment…They go out a ton, have lots of fun, and Kyousuke ends up learning far more about Ruri and liking her much more than before. We love seeing Kyousuke like this, because lord knows he’s earned the right to have an normal relationship with a smart, beautiful girl who isn’t his sister”

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8. Hataraku Maou-sama! – 05

“Not only was this the most action-packed episode, it was also the funniest by far…with an epic, cinematic feel and a lot of well-oiled moving parts humming along in perfect harmony and formidable speed. But in the midst of all the magic spectacle and comedy, the four core characters stay true to themselves throughout”

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7. Kyoukai no Kanata – 06

“A curious cold open…is the harbinger for perhaps the funniest, most inventive, and most satisfying episode of Kyoukai no Kanata yet…one that helps the show take one more step out of the shadows of its KyoAni forebears…there are times when the characters act a little bit too dumb or short-sighted, but the episode knows this as well as we do…In fact, it revels in it, as things go from bad to worse, despite the gang exerting more and more energy each go-around”

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6. Suisei no Gargantia – 01

“The opening battle is a tour de force of sci-fi mayhem, with a lot of different weapons and formations and tactics flying around the screen. After that thrilling and auspicious start, the episode slows down and takes its time; we go from a fantastic hi-tech world to somewhere that wouldn’t be out of place in a Miyazaki film”

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5. Chihayafuru 2 – 25

“This was a beautiful episode that had Chihaya cooped up in hospital, leaving her little to do but study Arata, think about Arata, talk to Arata, and summon feelings for Arata that she doesn’t understand…Also brilliant was the use of Chihaya’s poetry, as read by Oe (by far the best character in the show at reading poetry) to indicate that Taichi’s window is rapidly closing, and further dalliances only make his climb steeper”

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4. Uchouten Kazoku – 10

“[Ginkaku and Kinkaku’s] petty mischief lulled us into forgetting that the family they represent is not merely a political rival but an existential threat to the Shimogamo family. This week they’re charged with capturing the youngest, weakest Shimogamo, while their father, Soun, takes the lead in executing a carefully-planned takedown that is devastating in its efficiency. The episode oozes with imminent dread that gradually builds like that storm as things go from bad to worse…A day filled with so much hope and promise turns to utter shit for the Shimogamos, many of whom never see what’s coming”

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3. Aku no Hana – 10

“[Kasuga and Nakamura’s] great deviant adventure stalls in its infancy, and isn’t allowed to start back up. Nakamura muses that over that hill could be the end of the world, and until they actually get there, for all intents and purposes, it is… It isn’t until he’s between the two girls, faced with the choice of one, that he completely tears himself down in an effort to make himself undesirable to both”

mono182

2. Onimonogatari – 02

(Monogatari Series: Second Season – 18)

“In the last episode we remarked that Oshino Shinobu is unlike any other entity inhabiting the series due to her longevity, scale of experience, and moral complexity…we knew when we delved deeper into her past, it would be something to behold; and so it was: a bold, indulgent, tantalizingly unique approach is utilized in visualizing Kiss-shot’s epic tale”

Nakamura Sawa, Kasuga Takao

1. Aku no Hana – 07

“Kasuga adds to his sins and the relationship between him and Nakamura becomes even deeper, more intimate, and more fucked-up, culminating in one of the tensest, sexiest, most powerful sequences we’ve ever seen on television, period”

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Some Words On Carryovers

A few Fall series are continuing into the Winter 2012 season, some of them longer than we initially believed (episode counts from reference sources proved inaccurate). New Winter series we like will be taking precedence, but we thought we’d list off the fates of the many carryovers; too many to hold on to moving forward:

Chihayafuru, Last Exile, Bakuman 2, Mirai Nikki, Sket Dance: We’ll continue to watch these series until they end.
Guilty Crown: If Episode 13 is not the last episode, we’ll make a decision on whether to drop this series after 13 airs.
Persona 4: We’ll probably drop this series after Episode 14.

Sket Dance – Our 10 Favorite Episodes

As the longest series we’ve ever reviewed here on RABUJOI, we’ve really enjoyed Sket Dance, as it has found a unique niche in each of the last three seasons. Few shows that have run have managed to match its energy or balance such a huge cast so expertly. Last week was one of its best episodes yet, beginning the story of how Himeko became the fiery girl we know and love.

We’re hopeful the conclusion to this arc is as good as its beginning, but for now, here’s a list of our ten favorite Sket Dance episodes, listed chronologically (two of our favorite stories straddle two separate episodes). It’s telling from the distribution that the series has been very consistent throughout its long run.

Sket Dance 3
“It’s taken three eps, but I’ve finally warmed up to Sket Dance…It has a cheekiness, spunk, and energy all its own this season…their chemistry and devotion to one another elevates this above your usual high school comedies”

Sket Dance 6
“[The Sket-dan core] are as spot-on as ever, with their usual excellent chemistry and immediate retorts, and the play premise was a great way to bring in all the misfit characters they had helped in past episodes”

Sket Dance 9
“What made this episode truly genius is that it forgets nothing from this or any previous episodes and doesn’t treat the manga or shrinking story as throwaways, but brings everything to a rousing conclusion, complete with a tight little bow”

Sket Dance 10
“After a hilarious cold open in which the Sket-dan enacts a parody of Kimi ni Todoke, the balance of the episode is dedicated to one client, Yagi…once again, the dynamic trio of Bossun’s concentration, Himeko’s feminine sensibilities, and Switch’s technical know-how solve yet another problem”

Sket Dance 16/17
“What starts out as just another slapstick fest where the hilarious voice-acting really carries the day, turns into a more conventional school romance drama by the end…Bossun is funny when he’s trying to be, but showed good range this week”

Sket Dance 24/25
“I’m not sure why what was a consistently zany, over-the-top comedy would want to try straight-up serious drama, but Sket Dance really hit it out of the park with this Switch arc, totally changing gears from its usual fare”

Sket Dance 27
“Remi-onee-san is quietly evaluating the Sket-dan, and it looks pretty bad, when all of a sudden all that random crap is put to practical use rescuing a kindergartener falling out the window. Ridiculous? Yes…but in the best way”

Sket Dance 30
“Bossun is smitten, Switch is talking like she does, but Himeko doesn’t want Momoka’s true self cast aside – along with her friends – as the price of success, or as she said it “bury her past and replace it with sci-fi”…she’s unsavory; she has to be loud and proud”

Sket Dance 33
“Weren’t we just talking last week about how we never know what’s coming with this series? Yeah, that continues to ring true this week, as we get a pretty clever and competent drama-mystery played more-or-less straight as an arrow, which we don’t mind at all”

Sket Dance 36
“This episode’s first half was a pleasant enough diversion (Himeko’s intricate knowledge of hockey sticks was pretty funny), but we’re really suckers for Serious Sket Dance… This week it’s Himeko’s turn to get some flashbacks”