This is it, gang: our ultimate award. No more wimpy little categories like Best Use of a Ferret in an Action Sequence or Best Perversely Erotic Scene of Classroom Destruction or what have you, no: this is the big deal. The best overall anime of the past year, according to the Japanator staff. Once we bestow this award, we can officially kiss 2013 goodbye; I'm getting a little misty-eyed.
And the winner is...
Eren's crazy-murderer psycho eyes, and the rest of Attack on Titan! Congratulations, AoT crew, you handily beat runner-up The Eccentric Family to claim the prize; a drawing of official Jtor mascot Ai-Fi, done with a gold Sharpie marker, is postmarked and on it's way to Wall Maria as we speak. Granted, I guess you'll need to dispatch the Survey Corps to go pick it up, but that's not a big deal, right? I mean, the Survey Corps has totally got everything under control.
Wait, what's this? It looks like Titan's leading man, Eren Jaeger himself, would like to say a few words on behalf of the show! Let's hear what humanity's best hope for survival has to say:
"First, I'd like to thank the Japanator staff for voting for us. We work really hard to put on a good narrative, what with the constantly being eaten alive and vivisected and stuff, and it's really nice to get this recognition. I know we faced some stiff competition this year, like from those anime with the raccoon-people and the squid-people, and that other one with the stripper chick holding a scissor, so we're really touched our show came out on top. Your support means a lot to us going into our next fight against the TitansKILL THEM ALL I'LL KILL THEM ALL I'LL KILL THEM ALL--"
Oh, and we're out of time! Thanks so much Eren, and be sure to pass on our support to everyone back at Wall Rose-- not that it matters, because most of them will die horribly next season anyway, but eh, details! Congratulations to everyone at the walled city of utter despair!
Seriously, this was the one category where we had a lock; I would have been shocked if Titan didn't take this. If you want to criticize the show, you can find plenty of material: the pacing is questionable at times, it takes some serious liberties with physics, and it's hard to imagine that the series' conclusion will live up to all the hyper-epic build-up. But what Titan brings to the table is huge, and that's the fact that it's just so different from everything else out there at the moment.
While so many anime plots are recycled, Titan was often wildly unpredictable. While other shows rely on partial nudity to titillate viewers into staying attentive, Titan had virtually no fanservice. While other shows all too often fall back on tired gender archetypes, Titan wasn't afraid to mix things up by putting females in traditionally male roles and vice-versa. And perhaps most importantly, while countless anime try to hammer home the message that the power of friendship will always triumph over evil, Titan illustrates the cold reality that sometimes, your friendships are only as powerful as your friends happen to be-- and hey, Mikasa can't be everywhere at once.
The fact that the show is dark and gloomy isn't unique, but it's not just dark for the sake of being cool: this show is one of the few that "went there," or was willing to really engage with the dark reality it presents rather than just use it as window dressing for a typical narrative. For all those reasons, and many more, we had to pick Attack on Titan as the stand out show of this year.
To put it another way, this show was like a dark helping of Chicken Soup For The Soul for the jaded anime fan: it showed us that no matter how many years we've been watching anime, or just how many half-baked rom-coms we've seen, anime still has the power to surprise, thrill, and even terrify us. The fact that the experience came with breathtaking action sequences, an epic score, and legions of badass spider-ninjas was just icing on the luscious cake.
[Editor's note: Attack on Titan has also received our award for best anime soundtrack of 2013.]
Congratulations to all of winners in the Japanator Awards this year, and here's hoping that 2014 will prove an even better year for anime, games, and everything else we love.
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