Anime roundup 1/2/2014: Best of 2013

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The Christmas/New Year’s break is the one time of year when the anime industry takes a collective vacation. With Kyousougiga just giving us a plain old recap and everything else on hiatus, there’s nothing to review this week. But there is some late-breaking news about a couple more sfnal January premieres, and then, let’s talk Hugos!


MushishiMushishi special: Hihamukage (The Sun-Eating Shadow)

I haven’t been listing TV movies in the season previews because they don’t get streaming deals, but perhaps that’s changing. Crunchyroll has announced a deal for this one, at any rate. This is a followup to a popular manga that was partially adapted for TV, specially written for a simultaneous manga and TV release.

Mushishi is about a travelling expert in mushi, which are mostly non-intelligent, almost bacterial creatures that exist at the boundary of the normal and spiritual worlds. Our hero straightens out the problems that happen when humans and mushi have trouble coexisting.

Premiere: January 4

Daicon33Daicon 33

In 1981, the Japanese national sf convention was Daicon III in Osaka. The committee members were asipiring animators, and they created a famous short film to go with the convention. The same group ran Daicon IV in 1983, so they created another short, starring a now-famous “bunny girl”. They then turned pro and founded the studio Gainax, and the rest is anime history.

“Daicon 33” is some sort of project tying into the 33rd anniversary of the first Daicon film. So far we have this teaser image and a press release talking about a “revival” and merchandising. It’s probably not anything to do with this year’s national sf con, which is NUTS-CON in Tsukuba, although some of the Gainax people have retained their ties with fandom, and the bunny girl was last seen in a video at the opening ceremonies of the 2007 Worldcon in Yokohama. (Coincidentally, there is currently an active bid to bring the 2017 Worldcon to Japan, involving some of the same committee as last time… but it’s probably just a coincidence.)

Whatever it is, it’s coming on January 8th.


As we start the new year, it’s time to look back on the old one and reflect on the best of it. Plus, it’s Hugo recommendation time, and Gravity can only take up one slot on your ballot. Here’s what’s going to be filling in some of that extra room on mine…

uchoten

1. The Eccentric Family

An easy pick for best of the year. From beginning to end, it’s practically flawless in every way. Both gorgeous and rousingly entertaining, it pulls you into a wonderful alternate Kyoto that you’d love to actually visit.

gatchaman

2. Gatchaman Crowds

Still the only sf work I’ve seen so far that’s taken on the issues of online existence and gamification and tried to really explore the consequences of them. Plus, in a time when many are crying out for more strong, confident, non-sexualized heroines, here’s one of the strongest, most confident, and most intelligent of them all.

From-the-New-World

3. From the New World

Take a winner of the Japan SF Award (Japan’s equivalent to the Nebula), cross with the anime habit of keeping adaptations faithful to the story, and you can hardly avoid an award-worthy result. This follows in the finest traditions of sociological sf, tracing the heroine’s journey through a society which has warped itself into something alien through fear of its own children and its old enemies.


Well, what are all of you going to remember about 2013? The best? The worst? Are you putting something else on your Hugo ballot? Let us all know in the comments!

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