Christmas is over, and the new year is quickly approaching. 2013 is quickly becoming a memory, as people plan New Year’s bashes and prepare to welcome 2014. For some, though, this is a time to reflect on the events that transpired over the past twelve months. And what a year it’s been! Since January, we’ve seen dozens of unexpected surprises pop into the daily feeds, from random “labor-of-love” projects to full-on acquisitions of major players in the industry.

Below, we’ve highlighted five anime news stories that we felt were the biggest surprises of the year. These aren’t necessarily the most important events, but they are the ones that seemed to come out of nowhere, to get us talking and writing.

The Chernin Group Buys Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll Logo - 2013 EditionOn December 2, the Chernin Group purchased a majority stake in anime streaming site Crunchyroll. The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Yahoo! Finance pegged the total at “close to $100 million. While murmurings of a potential buy were being discussed as of November, there was an uncertainty as to whether the deal would go through.

The deal sent shockwaves through the industry, and reached to more mainstream sources including Yahoo! Finance and Reuters. At this point, we’re still not sure of the overall terms of the deal, or what it means for Crunchyroll and its subscribers. However, the event did give a clear indicator of the stakes in the anime industry, and that the value of a product can extend far beyond that of the typical players, if its portfolio is attractive enough.

Hayao Miyazaki Retires From Feature Films

Hayao MiyazakiThat’s right. The unthinkable happened this year: Hayao Miyazaki announced that he’d step down from making feature films. The man who gave us classics like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away would be stepping down from film production. With his resignation came the end of an era. Suddenly, we were faced with a world where we’d never have another Nausicaa, or another Laputa. The reality of the situation, though, is that Ghibli is in good hands. Miyazaki’s son Goro is coming into his own as a creator, and other long-time members are still on hand. The studio will continue to produce, and incredible films will be made under their banner.

Since his retirement, Miyazaki’s begun work on a new manga series. For him, retirement wasn’t an ending, but merely a change of mediums. His will to create will continue to see the masterful creation of magnificent world, and the world will continue to be enriched by his contributions to the anime and manga world.

The Oldest Known TV Anime Was Found In a Warehouse

Mogura no Aventure - 20130619In June, a surviving copy of the oldest made-for-TV anime series was found in an NTV warehouse. Mogura no Aventure, an eight-minute short, originally aired on NTV on October 15, 1958. No copies were thought to have existed, so to hear that such a title was found in a warehouse (in good condition, no less!) is nothing short of stunning. This is the Action Comics #1 in the insulation. It’s a find that nobody would think of happening, only to have reality defy logic.

 

Evangelion 2.22 Toonami Run Nets 1.1 Million Viewers

Toonami LogoWhen it first made its return to TV, Toonami was a block on life support. The content wasn’t attracting new viewers, and old fans were starting to lost interest. The block’s fate was uncertain, and drastic measures needed to be made quickly. So, to hear that the block recorded over 1.1 million viewers on Labor Day weekend was a fantastic surprise. For some, it seemed like a random number. For those who’ve been following the block since its return, though, it’s a confirmation that things were going to be just fine going forward.

 

Anime Expo 2014 To Host Sailor Moon Dub Cast

Sailor Moon Senshi 001 - 20131224This is the most recent news on the list, though that doesn’t mean it can’t also be one of the biggest “out of nowhere” stories of 2013. Anime Expo has done what was thought to be impossible: the dub cast of the original Sailor Moon will attend their 2014 convention as guests of honor. Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon, seasons 3 and 4), Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter), Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars), Karen Bernstein (Sailor Mercury, seasons 1 and 2), and Stephanie Morgenstern (Sailor Venus, seasons 1 and 2) will host a Sailor Moon panel, in addition to individual autograph sessions.

This was a Christmas surprise if there ever was one. Karen Bernstein hasn’t been active in the anime community since 1998, and Stephanie Morgenstern hasn’t been on the anime convention circuit since 2001. The meeting at Anime Expo could be the one and only time we see such a gathering, much like the Gundam Wing reunion at Anime Boston 2003.