2011 has been a great year for me, while I haven’t been into many albums this year, the amount of great anime, more than makes up for it, to a point where I couldn’t just do a Top 5 but a Top 10 list instead.
Last year was easy for me because there were only a few stand out anime series, it’s quite strange to say that I watched some of the 2010 anime this year (House Of Five Leaves, Durarara, Kuragehime, Redline, FMA: Brotherhood), these series could of easily made my previous list.
If you wish to see my review or Top 5 anime list last year, here they are:
Review of the 2010 Season: http://reevothemusefan.blogspot.com/2010/12/review-of-2010-japanese-anime-season.html
Top 5 anime of 2010: http://reevothemusefan.blogspot.com/2010/12/top-5-anime-of-2010-season.html
Lastly, this was a very hard list to make and I would imagine the same would go towards many anime fans, so with that out-of-the-way, here are my Top 10 anime of the year:
Studio: David Productions
Much like High School Of The Dead last year, my favourite guilty pleasure lands the number 10 spot, it certainly made my Sunday mornings a lot of fun thanks to its well made action scenes and its comic relief, it was this or Level-E but the amount of enjoyment I had with this, I couldn’t resist.
Ben-To’s plot is very simple but it works with it to make a crazy storyline full of hungry teenagers that enjoy fighting for their food and other students find different ways to try to get it by using dirty tricks, most characters I enjoyed as well, Satuo is a decent male lead that can be both funny and determined, Yarizui, I was a bit worried that her cold personality might make her unlikable but she became very supportive to Satuo and her love for Bento actually made her interesting.
I had some gripes with this – episodes 9 & 10 were a tad disappointing and Ume being the only support character I disliked but, when it came to watching a thrilling, funny and exciting show, Ben-to totally provided it.
9. Mawaru Penguindrum
Studio: Brains Base
At first I was in love with Mawaru Penguindrum, it had this great sense of mystery, drama and those cute, comic relief penguins that made it a really enjoyable experience, at the starting in point, then when I got to the middle, I started to get confused when all this symbolism and strange conversations were thrown at me, right to the end, it’s then that I felt a bit disappointed.
However, when I look back at the series, all the good things about Penguindrum, stuck with me, the characters had a memorable backstories, the important parts made an impact on me and yet again I will always remember these penguins (I may need to import a plush penguin #2 in the future).
Penguindrum may not be as “FABOLOUS MAX” as I thought it would be, but it still makes for a good survival strategy. A re-watch may be needed in the future.
8. Ikoku Meiro no Croisée
The summer season had a few relaxing shows in it’s run and Ikoku Meiro no Croisée was one that was really looking forward to, since I held an interest in 19th century France, it actually turned into one of my favorite historical anime of the year.
I loved how this series mixed the cultures of both Japan and France together by letting these characters learn more about each other, I have a hard time liking most “moe” characters now-a-days but I really liked Yune because of her amazement of French culture and the series does a good job on giving a reason why she traveled all the way to this foreign country, Claude and Oscar who take care of her are very likeable and have a hint of depth in them as well.
Only real nitpick is that I didn’t enjoy the Alice episodes compared to the others, but, this is a gem of a series that will most likely be forgotten in Japan, which would be a shame.
7. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
Studio: A-1 Pictures
At the start I was a bit unsure on how Ano Hana would succeed with just 11 episodes and I felt somewhat underwhelmed with the characters themselves, with some of the characters being unlikable or a tad annoying (sadly this goes towards Menma)
However I could see that Ano Hana really used its disadvantages and turn it into one of the most emotional series of the year, it slowly built up the drama between these six childhood friends who have grown apart after a tragic event, it shows these characters all coming together in a very complicated way.
I think it was just the start that took me a while to get into Ano Hana but the pay-off at the end was brilliant and was the second anime of the year that made me cry, seriously.
6. Tiger & Bunny
I love it, you love it and many people I know enjoyed Tiger & Bunny this year, since the first episode I really liked the concept of Superhero’s being apart of a corporate TV show and saving people for points, putting a spin on what a Superhero is.
Of course the series could easily fail since the series took a more western approach but it fully succeed in being liked worldwide, it’s most thanks to are main characters Kotetsu and Barnaby, who share a great chemistry throughout and even the other heroes are fun and interesting (some being developed more than others), it’s two main story arcs are fantastic as well-being both thrilling and well written.
With two films on the way, I can’t wait to see more from this.
5. Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season
Studio: Production I.G
If I had to give the award best romance anime of the year, this would take it for me, after building up on a very awesome first season which focused on Sawako and Shouta growing relationship, the second season had a bit more tension this time around, almost breaking those feelings for each other making every episode all the more exciting.
It had everything here, the animation was beautiful, the characters are very likeable (although I STILL HATE YOU JOE) and the final episodes felt very satisfying after some previous tense ones, which you don’t get with most anime of this genre.
I do hope for another Kimi Ni Todoke season soon, otherwise I’ll need to continue collecting the manga.
Before watching this I wanted to watch Studios DEEN’s Fate/Stay Night TV series and Unlimited Blade Works movie and to be honest I kinda like these but not enough for me to love them, while enjoyable they felt lackluster and forgettable in the end.
Meanwhile Fate/Zero (which is a prequel to Fate/Stay Night) succeeds in two major parts, the massive production by studio Ufotable makes the series look absolutely gorgeous, as well as the character designs and the very well made battle sequences which is more tactically involved than any recent anime I’ve seen.
The second is the staff and most noticeably, Gen Urobuchi who originally wrote the story, he gives the characters a lot more motivation and ethical discussion on the Holy Grail rather than the typical “The Holy Grail is what we need, lets fight the bad guys and get it”, it’s more intellectual and for that I can appreciate it.
All the masters and servants are memorable but some are a bit undeveloped so far, same goes for some of the side characters but this is a little nitpick, Fate/Zero is awesome and is worth checking out.
3. Usagi Drop
Studio: Production I.G
It’s a series that tackles the mature subject of parenthood and how Daikichi who has remained single since his 30’s, goes to his granddad funeral to find out that he had an illegitimate child, Daikichi decides to take care of this young girl after the family discuss if they should put her in an adoption home.
The series excels because of the two leads interactions, Daikichi and Rin start off rough since Daikichi has no parental skills at first and finds that his current job can’t handle picking up Rin every day in his current timetable and so he begins to change as the series progress, giving more time for her and making him an extremely likable character.
Speaking of an extremely likable character, Rin is well-behaved, adorable, sweet and funny child, she wants to help anyone no matter what, it’s these two that make Usagi Drop work so well.
The animation is great, the soundtrack as well, the series is easily the best Slice-Of-Life anime of the year but again it might get overlooked in the years to come and I really don’t want that to happen Japan.
Studio: White Fox
This was almost perfect for me but I will have to admit, I didn’t really care for the first four episodes as such, in matter of fact I was quite slow in catching up to Steins;Gate, I think it was episode five that it’s comedy and fun characters really started to grab my attention but I was never expecting so much awesome to come out of it, especially the second half.
Okarin is by far the best male character of the year, his smart, funny and determined when it comes to SCIENCE, yet with his mad scientist antics, you start to see a change in him as we get to the middle of the series, most of the other characters are great as well as Kurisu being one of my favorites as well, she is very intelligent and while being annoyed with Okarin at times, she helps him with his time travel experiments.
Steins;Gate is a fantastic series that I would recommend any anime fan to watch, ISSOCOOL, Sonuvabitch!
1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
I think this doesn’t come as a surprise to many people but Madoka is easily my anime of the year and much more than that for me, the series was an emotional rollercoaster full of hope and despair, full of Gen Urobuchi’s awesome writing and some of the best & unique animation backdrops I’ve seen by Studio SHAFT.
All the characters at least had a purpose in this series, nothing is wasted at all, Homura Akemi takes my best female character easily, for having one of the best episode centred around her and her motivations to stop Madoka from becoming a magical girl, Kyubey is one of the most interesting mascot characters I’ve ever encountered as well.
I’ve raved on my previous blog and on twitter on how much I loved Madoka Magica this year and while the two re-cap movies have me slightly worried but I’m pretty sure the SHAFT team can pull it off.