2013 was a year in which the Manga "fandom". For me became less of a part of my life not in giving up or burn out but simply that I don't bother to interact with others online or in real life out of a simple choice to want to be left alone or avoid the more toxic aspects of fandom (trolls, crazy super fans, and creepy perverts). I also buy less part of this is cold hard economics and it's partially I simply don't want to be "locked in" to buying a series I'm only mildly interested in or ambivalent about. Thankfully with the growth of legal online streaming I'm able to watch more Anime for free. As far as thoughts on Anime in general with a few major exceptions (Kill La Kill and Gallie Dona come to mind), Anime releases are very much part of a franchise either being adaptations of a light novel, Manga, or Visual Novel or a continuation of a previous season. Some of these aren't bad but it speaks to the lack of original content and most of them feel like generic re-treads of the same tired concepts except instead of being heavily based around Moe it's mostly Fan Service (this was especially true of The Fall season). As far as what was good in Anime it's debatable as is any kind of art sure there are shows I'm watching that are entertaining but ultimately inconsequential, or leave no impact like Infinite Straitos 2 which is simply a generic harem series with some okay mecha design and action. All the girls simply end up being one note stereotypes or archetypes, while Outbreak Company which from how it was being marketed sounded awful ended up being a pleasant surprise able to juggle real emotion and the some times pander heavy fan service that seems to be what is thought to make money these days. I also have to say that Gingitsune goes down as one of the better series I've seen this year although I watched very little during the summer and spring was depressing due to having to slog through a number of creepy fetishistic harem and light novel derivative titles. As Gingitsune, takes a very Japanese concept a young girl whois the heir to her family's shrine and can see the spirit guardian of the shrine a large grumpy fox named Gin with a fondness for Tangerines and makes it a sweet relateble series about growing up and coming to terms with life while also running a winsome thread of spirituality through it punctuated with slapstick comedy and honest morals to various episodes. Also Non Non No Biyori the spiritual successor to Barasui's Strawberry Marshmallow (in my opinion) holds a special place in my heart for capturing the feel of a real Moe series instead of the multiplicity of series that feel like they where done by committee or made specially just to sell merchandising. Also being produced by Studio Silver Link helps as they are one of my favorite Anime production companies and the only reason I even finished Oniai. As far as thing that where bad or "worst of's" most of the things that where truly bad or uninteresting I dropped the long stalled Blaz Blue Anime was indecipherable after three episodes and did nothing to counter the almost universally low opinion Anime adaptations of fighting games have in Anime fandom. It looked nice but the story seemed to be only a mishmash of references to a series of games I doubt most of the western audience has played while also having parts of it feel like fan service to the fans of the games as several characters seemed to appear just to do their "special move" than disappear. Other low lights include the Madoka Magica Spinoff Manga series which made me think that the reason we haven't seen a lot of really bad "Madoka clone" series the way we did with Neon Genesis Evangelion is because Madoka Partners is doing a fine enough job destroying their own brand with inferior spin offs that have none of the deep philosophical concepts or well written characterization of the original TV series while I have no interest in the movies even if the third movie is completely original the TV ending works just fine for me. Also I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Oreimo in my worst of as this is the best recent example of a series's ending ruining what could have been a interesting concept along with a turgid second season of the Anime that left a lot of people feeling as if they'd been tricked. The second season of Genshiken could also be added to my worst of simply because it goes nowhere and replaces the original cast with a almost completely new cast of characters who all seem the same while the Mangaka becomes progressively more obsessed with one new character to expense of everyone else. My three picks for best New Manga meanwhile are idiosyncratic and obviously not going to be what everyone considers the best but it's my list so their and it's in no particular order from best to worst or anything. #1 Monster Musume by Okayado: This title is simply put a harem series with Monster Girls I think it's one of the best new series out because it's just a harem title it's not trying to be an action series and a harem series or any kind of harem plus anything it's simply the story of a put upon guy who ends up with a bunch of cute monster girls living in his house it's a simple concept but it works and never feels as if it's trying to be more than what it is. #2. Watamote: This is the manga for anyone who hated High School or is tired of series like Kimi No Todeki that paint an unrealistic saccharine picture of High School or alternatively make it like this epic angst riddled struggle like Devil and Her Love Song. Focused around the failures and self deluded antics of Tomoko Kuroki a girl who thinks that everyone else is the problem to her becoming popular. It's alternatively one of the funniest series currently in print and one of the most depressing due to the presentation of Tomoko being so honest and unafraid to present her as an often vindictive and judgmental but ultimately extremely lonely and teenager which I'm sure more than accounts for her extreme popularity online as the ultimate "Anti-Moe" character while also hitting too close to home for some having to drop the series because of that. #3 Helter Skelter Fashion Unfriendly: I did an entire review explaining why I liked this, simply put it's not something you see released much it's a dark jaundiced view of humanity and most Manga that get released is simply escapist entertainment this is a work that goes deep into the ugliest parts of human nature for being that against the current grain of cutesy consumerism that Japan tries to palm off as "Cool Japan." I can't praise this series enough. 2014: Titles I'm looking forward to and trends I want to see die #1. Title: Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Originally serialized in Young King Ours (home to Trigun and Hellsing at one time) is a post apocalyptic Sci-Fi story based around the crew of a Submarine who battles the invading alien forces known as the Fleet of Fog the secret to their victory being that their sub is a former fleet of fog ship. Also all the Fleet of Fog ships have AI called Mental Models that take the form cute girls. When I first heard about this series I was instantly intrigued having watched the Anime now I really can't wait until June as this series seems to have an engrossing Sci-Fi plot mixed with epic military battles and a smattering of cute girl fan service in short it's got something for everyone along with an art style that looks all it's own. #2. Title: Strike Witches: Strike Witches is one of my favorite series the Anime's first season was near perfect and the second season despite some filler and an over abundance of fan service in some parts carried the story on while also feeling like a good way to end it. The manga had never really been on my radar until Seven Seas announced they had licensed the first series. Than subsequently several other titles, it's a great way for me to become reacquainted with the girls of the 401st while also getting a chance to have more stories on this great Mecha Musume series also, I'll be particularly interested in seeing the art style and character design. #3. Title: Say "I Love You": Licensed by Kodansha from their older teen Shojo/Josei magazine Dessert and due out in Spring of 2014, I came across it from watching the Anime adaptation which had wildly different opinions on it some thinking it was great others thinking it was terrible. I came away from it convinced that I had to read the Manga of it as it felt like a Manga for young women or older teens who had a brain and could actually think instead of simply regurgitating tired plot ideas and tired character archetypes. I think this could be the first Shojo title outside of Sailor Moon that I've actually liked putout by Kodansha as Missions of Love became too squicky after four volumes and Tokyo Mew Mew felt like Cash Grab: The Manga. Trends I want To See Die: #1. "Rapey" Romance and Supernatural Romance Titles: I know in a objective sense titles like this won't go away because they continue to sell as the Manga equivalent to bad bodice ripper fiction and it wouldn't bother me that much except all that seems to come out or sell briskly now as far as Shojo Manga is this type of stuff. In which a heroine has a guy pressuring her to have sex with him for whatever contrived reason. Or she's forced into some kind of "pact" or sham marriage with him for an equally contrived reason, and it ultimately feels like the audience is supposed to find the heroine either a ridiculous cipher they can feel superior to or is supposed to find the prospect of potential ravishment "Exciting" only further testifying to how sexually broken we are as a society this side of The Fall. Again it's more the amount of this kind thing instead of the fact that any of it gets put out at all that bothers me and at least with the release of titles Voice Over Academy it seems to at least be slowing down a little. #2. Moral Crusader Syndrome: This is the trend of people feeling that in the need to protect other people's children or in over reaction to their own child getting a hold of a Manga title that might be age inappropriate or something they wouldn't want them to read. They than try and ban all Manga or Graphic Novels this seems to happen every six month to a year like clock work from the woman in Florida who claimed her son was traumatized by a copy of Gantz and had to go into therapy because of it. Or the mother who wanted to ban Death Note because she felt it was wrong for middle school aged children to read. Thankfully groups like The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund exist to stem the tide of ridiculous parentaly motivated book banning and we can chuckle a little at these examples . But there's also the much more serious problem of governmental censorship in Canada (a country where you can not only be prosecuted for having Manga but also for speaking out against Homosexuality so at least their equal opportunity tyrants). Along with movements in Japan to have Lolicon declared hate speech by certain sectors of the Feminist movement or child pornography by traditionalist conservatives. Along with recent prosecutions such as the Brandon X case and the Handly case from 2009, I can only hope that in time people with "cooler heads" will realize that reading Manga won't turn you into a sexual predator and that a drawing of child is not a child. Best Reissue: Dance In The Vampire Bund Omnibus: Dance In The Vampire Bund is a series I love it's a mixture of solid action sometimes insightful character writing and a alternatively lush and epic, and hard boiled writing style. With the omnibus reissues the series get an oversized edition collecting three volumes per omnibus fixing the cramped style that detracted from the detail in the original individual volumes. Making for a much more satisfying reading when the epic battles of the latter half start, while also giving more for your money with three volumes per omnibus so it's also economical as well. I'm still a little amazed this sells and has sold as well as it does. Given the content I've even gone so far as saying this is the title I'm 90% sure would send me to prison if it fell in the wrong hands. I still can't help but sing the praises of this series for all the good in it and the omnibus only show why it's such a big seller for Seven Seas. Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions: Dishonorable Mentions: K-On! High school and College: These where the sort of sequels that continued on from the original four volume series from the beginning they where fraught with controversy, from angry Otaku worrying about their Wifu haveing her "purity" sullied in the College series to the uninteresting bland antics in the high school series and the degraded art. In the end both series ended at one collected volume each and except for completeists was promptly forgotten by almost every one it was a cynical cash grab and had none of the charm of the original which it's self is quickly heading into obscurity. Dragon Ball Z Ocean Dub DVD re release: Simply this is a repackaging of an old dub for the chance to get the money of old DBZ fans with more money than common sense. Of course Funimation is going to put it out because it's a guaranteed way to make money but it's still kind of an insult to the intelligence of fans I feel. Attack On Titan: After I read the first two Twilight novels I made a solemn vow to myself that I wouldn't get sucked into something because of the hype for this reason I've not watched the Anime adaptation of Attack on Titan and having read the first two volumes of the Manga I found it the equivalent of a series like Death Note where it conflates violence and shock value with maturity. I honestly don't have much to say except this is a series I passed on and my reasons for passing on it still stand Honorable Mentions: Silver Spoon Season One: The latest work by Fullmetal Alchemist Mangaka Hiromu Arakawa is a simple story of a city boy who transfers to a High School in Hokkaido only to find out it's a agricultural school and that he'll be forced to do hard labor on top of having to deal with the ethical implications of farming as well as animal slaughter for food. The Manga has been extremely successful in Japan (I don't know why Viz still hasn't licensed it), the Anime captures a story full of heart, courage, and an overall sunny Shonen vibe that's odd for a series serialized in the often more cerebral Shonen Sunday. Chronicles of the Going Home Club: Yes it's a "cute girls doing cute things" series but it captures a more off kilter Otaku feel to the genre as opposed to the "forced Moe" of series like Good Job Club with the girls feeling like actual characters while also making over the top beyond the impossible physical comedy some found it shrill I found it hilarious in the over the top nature of it and skewering of tropes and conventions along with the winking self awareness of it.