It’s that time of the year again, folks – the time where we can sit down and gather the best shows of the year and compile them into one neat little list. It’s been another riveting year for anime and otaku culture in general, and the studios have delivered some absolutely magnificent content for us, both in the shape of new shows as well as continuations of running ones. My personal favorites in fact are one of each! But that’s enough small talk, let’s get down to business. This year’s list shall be done in order of DVD and Blu-Ray sales, so rest assured, very little can be left to bias. Hope you enjoy!
Yahari Ore No seems like your typical romantic comedy anime – and for some, that’s okay! Some people (myself included) don’t actually care if a show seems cliche or not, as long as it is entertaining. This show however, goes over and above the expectation. What seems like a cliche show turns out to be a hilarious yet emotional adventure.
The story follows loner protagonist Hachiman Hikigaya as his antisocial behaviour leads to a teacher’s concern, forcing him to join a club. The “Volunteer’s Club” as it is called, and he is then asked to join his club members – one of which is the icy but beautiful Yukino Yukinoshita. Those of you who are in the know would know that Yuki translates to snow in Japanese, so even the names are selected with a tongue in cheek humor. Partially slapstick, partially satirical, and partially romantic, this show has smooth, colorful and vibrant visuals with an equally vibrant soundtrack. It is more than your typical rom-com and the sales show it! It sold 10,012 copies of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs combined this year, which is quite an achievement. For those who are interested in watching, this Brains Base and TBS production can be downloaded right here!
Produced by both well known and lesser known names alike, such as FUNimation, Lantis, Pony Canyon and White Fox – Hataraku Maou-sama (literally translating into “the devil is a part-timer”) follows the comedic misadventures of the devil himself! More specifically, Devil King Sadao who is defeated by Emillia and thus is banished to modern day Tokyo. As his skills as a devil king are useless in this world, he now has to work oddjobs to simply sustain himself. It already sounds hilarious, and this is just the description!
Working in a parody of the real world fast food chain McDonald’s, Sadao faces various funny situations episode after episode and this is considered by many as the funniest show of the year. Definitely worth the watch for someone looking for a laugh. Some complain the story is too slow paced, but with a show like this, one doesn’t expect much of a story to begin with. Combined DVD and Blu-Ray sales were as high as 11,433 copies this year and this thirteen episode hilarious ride can be found right here!
The second season of incest-friendly slice of life comedy more simply referred to as OreImo has managed to top charts for the second time since its release, being the 3rd highest sold back in 2010 when its first season was released. This show needs little introduction as not only is it exceedingly popular, but it has been so for several years. However, for those who do not know, it is about loser older brother Kyousuke Kousaka who discovers his “little miss perfect”, goodie two shoes sister Kirino Kousaka is actually an avid otaku – her favorite games being incest themed eroge!
A strong yet attractive tsundere lead as well as a witty, unexpectedly likeable protagonist, this show swept pervs over when it first released, and continues to do so even today with its second season. I use the term perv in jest, however, it does indeed have a deep, fulfilling feel-good story, albeit caked behind light ecchi and occasional fan service! Having said that, it is absolutely unmissable for fans of the series, but also recommended to those who haven’t seen it yet already. Visually pleasing animation with a funny, yet interesting story and great characters, this show managed to sell 15,977 copies this year. For those who wish to give this controversial show a spin, here’s a link for the first season and here’s one for the second!
Another continuation of a long running series, this is actually the second season of an adaptation of the original Toaru Majutsu no Index. A supernatural sci-fi adventure/comedy that was extremely popular in its original run years ago, thus spawning this canonical, yet independent spin-off of one of the arcs. The focus of this arc is on the story of Mikoto Misaka, the powerful brown haired esper girl who has a strong sense of justice and what is right. She is easily one of the most likeable characters in recent years and fans have come to love the brave little schoolgirl.
What many fans like about this show is the fact that unlike most supernatural shows in which characters have powers, every power or increase in strength is given a logical reason, rather than just for the sake of “looking cool”. (I’m looking at you, Bleach). Too many shows have paper thin excuses for a sudden burst of the protagonists power, launching him up to be the most powerful character in the series. Something many have come to dislike. Luckily, Raildex does no such thing throughout its storyline. Even better visuals than before and thrilling storyline, it managed to sell 16,869 copies in the year 2013, earning its rank, and holding its ground as one of the greatest shows in anime history. Check out the second season here!
For those who watched the first season, you would know that this show certainly isn’t for kids! With a mature rating, the second season of Infinite Stratos includes much of the first season’s occasional glimpse of ecchi, however, that isn’t to say it is an ecchi show -far from it, in fact. Infinite Stratos is pretty much any teenage boy’s wet dream. It is about a boy named Ichika Orimura who lives in a futuristic world in which a specialized armor called Infinite Stratos has been created, however only women can operate this armor, and thus society is dominated by women. Ichika accidentally activates one set of armor in the IS training academy one day, and as it turns out, he is the only male that can operate one. He is then sent to be trained in the military academy that until then was exclusively dominated by girls.
A mecha anime with almost nothing but strong, sexy girls. Like I said, every teenage boy’s wet dream. Fortunately, going beyond just tapping into our wildest fantasies, the show actually has a reasonable plot line and beautiful visuals. It is, however, for the most part simply a mecha harem anime, and thus one cannot expect the depth of Serial Experiment Lain from something like it. It’s enjoyable for what it is, and if one is looking for a sexy joyride with some sci-fi action thrown into the mix, this is exactly what you’ll want to be watching. With a whopping entire ten thousand more copies sold than the last show in the list, the second season of Infinite Stratos sold 26,601 copies. Here are links to download the first and second seasons!
One can deduce simply from the name, the type of show this is. An idol show. Idol shows are simply about a person, or group who want to become famous, usually through music. Many shows have run on this formula, and are quite successful. This is one of them. The story takes place in a city with three distinct districts of different types of people. There is, however one school which is on the verge of shutting down due to a lack of students. Nine girls set off to become famous pop idols to then restore the fame of their school and keep it from shutting down. While the story may seem generic, it is pulled off excellently, and one comes to understand what to expect from these kinds of shows. Idol shows are a dime a dozen, but this is certainly the prize out of this year’s entrants.
Produced by Sunrise, Lantis, and NIS America, the show has a large cast of varied and unique, yet equally cute main characters. It isn’t difficult to pick out a waifu or two from a show like this! Fans of the slice of life genre will not be disappointed, as it is funny, interesting, and the characters are well developed, not to mention beautifully animated. The theme and feel is actually very reminiscent of one of my personal favorites K-ON! For fans of that show, I certainly recommend this one. 27,635 copies were sold, so it goes without saying that this was one popular show. Download now from right here!
Having caused girls (and perhaps boys too, that’s okay, we don’t judge!) to nosebleed week after week by depicting young athletic men almost entirely naked, it is no surprise that the show Free! may be construed by some to be no more than just fan-service for girls. Predominantly used as a basis for yaoi shippers, it does indeed come across as this, but do not be confused, Free! actually has an underlying story with strong themes regarding competition, value of hard work, friendship and overcoming the odds. It is very much, a sports anime, no less than Kuroko no Basket or Slam Dunk.
The story follows Haruka Nanase, a life long swimming enthusiast and accomplished swimmer who was part of a winning swim team in elementary school. Now in high school, he is one day challenged and defeated by an old friend in a race. Disappointed in himself, he gathers together a new team consisted of old faces and new to reclaim his throne. With an enjoyable story, likeable characters, and absolutely stunning animation (especially with the water effects that give you a real sense of either being under it or splashed by it) this show has most certainly earned its spot on any list consisting of the best shows in 2013. To seal its place, Free! proves itself by having sold 30,332 copies this year. It comes highly recommended, if one can get past the idea that this is a yaoi fan-service show (which it isn’t, though one cannot be stopped from seeing it as one if they want to) this is a wonderful show that anyone can enjoy and appreciate. Moreover, it is produced by a personal favorite studio, Kyoto Animation. Download it now here!
Sequels of slice of life romance/harem comedies are often a disappointment as compared to the first (looking at you Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai) Mainly because they mess with the integrity and conclusion of the first. It leaves you feeling like the entire first season was a waste of time. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with the second season of A-1 Picture’s Uta no Prince-Sama. Fans of the first season will surely enjoy and love this one just as much. While this is a shojo harem anime, there is a decent storyline one grows to truly enjoy and grow attached to. The plot revolves around amateur songwriter Haruka Nanami who dreams of writing songs for her favorite pop idol. After being enrolled into an arts school, she thrives through challenge after challenge until finally coming out on top. The second season begins as she is enrolled into her Masters program, only to find another series of challenges lay ahead! The animation style is nice looking and the characters are certainly deep and varied enough to make for an interesting dynamic between the various ones shown. Selling 33,054 copies in this year, this is the third highest grossing anime of the year, and proves the shojo demographic is running strong. Watch the second season now here!
Unsurprisingly, Monogatari is back this year, topping the charts once again. Last year having achieved the most sales, it was only expected that it would return. Holding a respectable position this year, the Aniplex series continues, its unique animation style and thrilling arcs capturing hearts a second year in a row. One wouldn’t be surprised if this comes to be known as one of the best series’ of all time. Anyone familiar with the first season who enjoyed it will certainly be blown away by the second one.
Boasting a cast of adorable, unique and well developed characters as well as a solid set of thoroughly engaging arcs, the series does not disappoint in the least. One can expect all the sexy little flashes of ecchi as well as clever dialogue and enthusiastic voice acting we have all come to enjoy. For many, it is an alternative favorite show of the year as opposed to what some may think of as over sensationalized shonen action anime. This is a very strong contender in its own right with its amazing visuals, sci-fi/slice of life theme and excellent production quality. Selling an entire eleven thousand more copies than what came before it in this list, Monogatari sold 44,856 copies this year (well, that escalated quickly) and can be checked out right here. This one comes highly recommended to fans of the genres mentioned. Of course, the original from which it is adapted is available here as well as its first season here.
This would not come as a surprise to many, but one show that has undoubtedly swept the world this year, converting many people who were not previously fans of anime in general into hardcore enthusiasts, is the critically acclaimed Shingeki no Kyojin – more commonly known by its English translation: Attack On Titan. Since it began airing in early April of 2013, the show managed to get audiences hooked into its magnificently crafted dark world with its own alternate history and unique setting. The show mixes a true sense of terror with genuine badassery as the lead character Eren and his friends quest to protect their city from the impending threat of enourmous skinless man-like beasts known as “Titans”. These giant monsters can be hundreds of feet tall and demolish cities within minutes. There is always a feeling of dread when one is shown on screen. This is easily the most exciting show of the year.
The mind blowing visuals and spectacular animation make for some of the most memorable action scenes ever made in an anime – large scale God of War like fight scenes blend in with the dark themed more calm scenes in which the story and characters are masterfully developed with the help of the spot on voice acting and expertly written script. The word “epic” isn’t epic enough to describe this show.
Do not let this lead you to believe however that this is an action oriented show. While there are many a fight until the climatic conclusion of the show, this is without a doubt an emotional story that revolves around revenge, loss, suffering, redemption and survival. One begins to feel a close connection with each and every character the more they develop, and they are done so very well. Overall, there is absolutely nothing left to chance with this show. It has without a doubt earned its place at the top of the list. Cosplayers across the world line up and order their Attack on Titan merchandise and Recon jackets. Move aside Kirito, there is a new king.
Having sold an unbelievable 55,693 copies of DVD and Blu-Ray discs already, this show is also the highest grossing of the year. Produced by Production IG, Mainichi Broadcasting, Pony Canyon, Kodansha, Wit Studio, and the Shingeki no Kyojin Team, this masterpiece is available for download here.
Well ladies and gentlemen, that’s all we have for this year! Bear in mind that the order of this list was based only on sales, and does not necessarily represent quality and global popularity. Shows that did not sell well that I personally enjoyed include Date A Live, Amnesia, Devil Survivor 2, Aku no Hana, Blood Lad, and Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Next, Kill La Kill, as well as Tamako Market to a lesser extent.
Are there any shows you feel should be in the list? Are there any you feel should not have been? Comment and let us know what you think, and let us know what your favorites of 2013 were. Let us all be thankful for this wonderful year in anime and hope for an even better 2014!