As life sometimes demands, Laura and I must take a break from playing video games to indulge other needs (like eating, sleeping, and the dreaded ‘going to work’). One of these needs just happens to be watching anime. Thanks to the debut of Crunchy Roll on our home consoles, Laura and I have consumed several new series this year. We would like to share our personal favorites that we discovered in 2013.
A surprising entry from the creator of Full Metal Alchemist, Silver Spoon eschews the usual fantasy settings of Hiromu Arakawa and gives the author a chance to write a more realistic tale. The story revolves around Yugo Hachiken, a city boy who has decided to study at an agricultural high school to escape his strict father. As a fish out of water, Hachiken initially struggles to adjust to his rural studies (“Eggs come from where?!”). With the help of more experienced students and faculty, he grows to appreciate the science and effort behind farming and food. As food fanatics, Laura and I loved to watch an anime around farming culture and schooling.
The Eccentric Family
Laura and I really enjoy seeing myths and legends from various cultures translated to a modern setting and The Eccentric Family scratches our itch. In modern-day Kyoto, tanuki, tengu, and humans all inhabit the same city. The main plot revolves around a family of tanuki, the Shimogamo clan, and the struggles and adventures they have shared since the untimely loss of their father. An anime that walks the bittersweet line of comedy and tragedy quite well, The Eccentric Family is a solid fantasy full of interesting characters and wonderful artwork.
Sword Art Online (note: just the first season)
Don’t worry, not all of our recommendations are slice-of-life anime. Sword Art Online is a battle anime with a fascinating preface and gorgeous artwork. In the not-too-distant future, the world’s most popular MMORPG is about to unload a fully interactive device that will immerse players in the game world. Once the update goes live, every player becomes trapped in the game, unable to leave until someone clears the final dungeon. While the premise isn’t necessarily novel, Sword Art Online has a great balance between the gravity of the real-life situation and the immersion of players in the game world. Just a warning: after the first season, the show loses traction and becomes a little… pervy.
Genshiken Second Season
Full disclosure: I love Genshiken. I read the first series cover-to-cover, I devour fan translations of the second series the moment they surface, and one of my favorite blogs takes its namesake from a main character. The entire series is full of loveable otaku of varying styles and intensity who make up the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, or Genshiken for short. The second season picks up where the first series left off, but a previous knowledge isn’t entirely necessary to enjoy the anime. Laura never encountered the first season (save for my fervent rants) and she found the characters endearing and fun to watch.
Polar Bear’s Café
If you haven’t watched Polar Bear’s Café at this point, stop reading this article and go watch the entire series. I would say watch an episode or two, but I know just how addicting this anime can be. What started as checking out a cute-looking show became a total obsession for Laura and me. The premise is simple: a polar bear runs a café in Japan where the local animals and humans come for delicious food and drink. All of the animals can speak, yet they are drawn realistically and most of them work at the nearby zoo as themselves. Need I say more?