Anime Review 2011: Top 12 animes of the year

It’s been a busy year, hasn’t it! Seems like it’s gone past in a flash, though.

With the end of December approaching in two weeks, I figured I do a review of the animes I’ve watched throughout the year (as I did last year).

Turns out that kiddtic’s running an AniBloggers Choice Anime awards (ACAA for short, can be viewed here).

So I thought, why not do the review early? So I guess I’m doing the review early this year, then.

I’ll be listing the top 12 animes of the year, from Winter 2010 to Fall 2011, starting from #12.

Shall we begin, then?

Top 12 animes of 2011

#12: Chihayafuru

“If I can be the best in the world at something, I think it is worth a shot!”

Just because it is at the bottom of this list does not necessarily mean that Chihayafuru is not any better than any of the higher-ranked animes in this list. I had my doubts when I started watching Chihayafuru at first, knowing nothing about karuta. Had totally no idea karuta was such an intensive game. The essence of the anime does not come in the action though, but the characters. Watching the development of Chihaya was really interesting. Her goal of reaching the title of “Queen” is indeed admirable. Loved how her passion for karuta brought her to persevere in recruiting members for her own karuta club. The other characters were good as well, and it was really enjoyable watching the interactions between them and Chihaya.

Alas, there were times where I found myself bored in the show, especially during karuta matches. That is not to say the show is boring, I suppose I just can’t appreciate it very well.

Maybe if I had given it more time I would have liked it more. Nevertheless, this anime is definitely worthy of a place in this list.

#11: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

“That summer back then…”

AnoHana earns the 11th place on this list for being one of the most touching animes I have ever seen. Characters are well developed, along with wonderful voices. Kayano Ai, Saori Hayami and Haruka Tomatsu <3!

The music is amazing as well, especially secret base. It made certain emotional scenes much more emotional. Made me tear at some points.

One thing that leaves to be desired, however, is the drama. At times it just feels forced, other times it feels like an exaggeration.

Other than that, I find no problem with the story, music and animation aspects of the anime. A good anime indeed.

#10: Hourou Musuko

“What are middle school students made of?”

Hourou Musuko is truly a wonderful anime. It explores issues such as transgender and gender identity issues in a very mature way, presented to us through the lives of the cast. I loved the interactions between the members of the cast. The anime overall gave me a warm feeling.

Regretfully, I am unable to make a much better review for this anime as I have not completed it (despite it having being completed already). It’s one of my regrets, and I guess I should finish it up these holidays. It would be such a waste to not watch such a great series.

#9: Mawaru Penguindrum

“Seizon Senryaku!”

Every season there’s bound to be some animes which far exceed my expectations. For Summer 2011 the anime in question is Mawaru Penguindrum, which takes the ninth spot in the list.

I started watching Mawaru Penguindrum with absolutely no expectations of it. The seiyuu cast wasn’t particularly great, and the art didn’t strike too much of an impression with me. In fact, I only picked it up after some of my friends recommended it to me.

And I have not regretted that decision to date. Mawaru Penguindrum is indeed a really amazing anime to watch. The plot twists come at times you never would’ve expected it, but the story still flows fluidly. There is much symbolism within the show, something which I really loved.

So, for those who’re quick to dismiss Mawaru Penguindrum as an anime with a cheap story not worthy of your time, it would be good to retract that statement; you might just regret it. There’re cute penguins, after all.

#8: Hanasaku Iroha

“Hobiron!”

Next on this list is #8, Hanasaku Iroha. The anime shows the drama-filled life of Ohana Matsumae. The story’s really good and I loved how the anime had variations in pacing, with some arcs being slower-paced and others being faster-paced. The characters in the anime are given a good amount of time for development (it’s 26-episodes long, after all). The music’s also really good, with artists such as nano.RIPE, sphere and Clammbon. And the animation’s generally good, although the animation quality does drop in some episodes.

Plus, the seiyuu cast for this anime’s really great. Aki Toyosaki, Kanae Ito, Haruka Tomatsu and Mamiko Noto, among others. It’s just <3.

However, I suppose a few things can be improved on, especially with regards to character development. I would've liked it more if less emphasis was placed on some of the less important characters such as Enishi and Jiroumaru (although I suppose that Enishi's arcs were related to the story). Nako needs more character development time (yes, I'm that biased towards Nako)!

That having said, Hanasaku Iroha’s indeed an amazing anime, and although there’s lots of drama in this anime (which can be overwhelming for some people), I guess it all turned out fine in the end.

Watch it if you haven’t.

#7: Working’!!

“Welcome to Wagnaria!”

Being the second season of Working’!!, this definitely does not disappoint. The slice-of-life elements are retained but doesn’t get boring. In fact, it’s pretty relaxing. The comedy is also pretty entertaining and it’s always nice to see Satou pick on Popura. Also, Yamada is <3.

The seiyuu cast's pretty awesome as well, with Kana Asumi, Eri Kitamura and Jun Fukuyama amongst them. Perfect for a seiyuu otaku like me. :D

Working!! has always been one of my favorite slice-of-life animes and I'm glad the second season lives up to the reputation of the first. I suppose I'll be rather sad when it finishes airing.

#6: Yuru Yuri

“Akarin!”

This year’s #6 on the list might come as a surprise to some of you: Yuru Yuri. For those of you who don’t know, this anime is one about yuri, as the name might imply. Now don’t start thinking that this anime made the #6 because it’s about yuri; it’s not. I’m not really a fan of yuri in the first place, but I would make an exception for Yuru Yuri. It’s that good.

Yuru Yuri isn’t like those yuri animes where there’s lots of yuri everywhere. Sure, yuri’s still present, but in amounts which make it really entertaining. The comedy within Yuru Yuri isn’t just limited to just yuri; the antics of Kyouko always keeps me entertained. And then there’s Chitose’s yuri fantasies, which are really amusing. Not forgetting the rest of the characters as well, the interactions between them are interesting and never a bore to watch. The animation’s also great, and the music’s pretty catchy as well.

Plus, the seiyuu cast is pretty good. There’s Aki Toyosaki as Chitose, Mimori Suzuko as Himawari and Saki Fujita as Ayano. The seiyuu aspect in this anime is definitely not lacking.

In short, this anime is truly a joy to watch. Yuru Yuri is definitely not your average yuri anime. It’s enjoyable and it would be a shame not to give this anime a try.

#5: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

“Make a contract with me, and become a magical girl!”

Probably agreed upon as one of the best animes of 2011, Puella Magi Madoka Magica makes it to #5 on this list. This anime was just made of plain awesomeness. I am not even a fan of mahou shoujo animes, but I was thoroughly impressed with this anime. Madoka Magica takes on the textbook mahou shoujo genre and adds a unexpected dark twist to it. It’s simply amazing and mind-blowing.

The animation’s awesome as well, and music is just plain godly. And not to mention the great seiyuu cast, with Yuuki Aoi, Eri Kitamura and Saito Chiwa.

One of the things I didn’t really like about Madoka Magica however, was Sayaka’s arc. I found it a bit too dark for my liking. Well granted, Madoka Magica’s expected to be dark, but I didn’t really like Sayaka being so emo. Just my two cents, however.

Still, this anime is just amazing. To those who haven’t watched this yet: You’re missing out on a lot.

#4: STEINS;GATE

“Future Gadget #8, the Phone Microwave (name subject to change), is my lab’s secret weapon!”

When I saw the first episode for STEINS;GATE, I knew it was going to be epic. It sure lived up to my expectations, and exceeded that, I might add.

STEINS;GATE is more than just a bunch of inventors who come up with a gadget that allows for time travel. The story’s amazing, as are the plot twists. The music’s awesome as well. The characters are also interesting and entertaining. STEINS;GATE makes me laugh out loud at times, awes me the technical jargon and Okabe’s crazy plans, while retaining the serious plot of going against SERN.

In short, it’s just amazingly good.

#3: Usagi Drop

“Daikichi!”

On to the top 3! Usagi Drop takes the third spot on this list with its wonderful art and storyline.

Usagi Drop’s basically about a 30-year old called Daikichi who has to take care of his grandfather’s child. In other words, his aunt. Now that might sound ridiculous at first but that fact is quickly overlooked by the warmness of the show. The show provides a outlook on the difficulties and joys of raising a child.

I might be just a 16-year old who doesn’t know anything about such things, but this anime has touched me so. Really love this anime.

Plus, Rin’s just too cute.

#2: Mirai Nikki

“That’s the essence of this survival game.”

Imagine a diary that can tell the future. Wouldn’t that be great?

Apparently not. Not when there’re 11 other diary holders after your life in a bid to become god. Okay, make that 10 since one of the diary holders is a hardcore stalker in love with you who would do anything in question.

That is how Yukiteru Amano, our hero lives his life in Mirai Nikki.

Mirai Nikki is such the amazing anime. The characters make the show so interesting, especially the psychotic Yuno. The psychological parts of this show is what makes it a real gem; the plot twists come at unexpected times and the story’s really gripping. Watching the various antics of the characters is also entertaining. The music’s also good; the opening and ending songs are both very addictive.

So what exactly is Mirai Nikki in a nutshell? Just plain amazing and gripping. In fact, it would’ve been my favorite anime for Fall 2011 if not for #1…

#1: Fate/Zero

“At last, it is time for the Fourth Holy Grail War to start.”

Fate/Zero grabs the #1 slot on the list! Probably one of the most anticipated anime of the year, this anime deserves every bit of the first place in my opinion. The art is amazing and the animation’s fluid, even during the battle scenes. The music’s really good as well, with oath sign by LiSA and MEMORIA by Aoi Eir. Really addictive. In addition, despite the rather huge cast, an appropriate amount of time is allocated for character development. The battle scenes are also spaced out in between, such that the chance to be bored during this show is never allowed. Plus, the battle scenes are just so epic it blows one away.

I was never really a fan of the Fate series, but I suppose I might just be converted to one after watching this anime. A really high quality production. Absolutely flawless is how I would describe Fate/Zero. Totally deserving of the title of “Best anime of 2011”.

And with that, the list is complete, but not the post. Let’s talk about some of the animes that almost made it into this list..

Animes that almost made it into the list

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee: I loved Ikoku Meiro no Croisee. It provides us with a touching story about a young Japanese girl named Yune who lives with a French guy called Claude. The ways they try to settle the differences between them (like cultural, personal, etc) is really entertaining to watch. Seeing how they try to co-exist with other and make efforts to understand the culture of one another really touched my heart. Alas, I didn’t like it enough for it to make it into the list, but that should not stop anyone from giving this anime a try. It would definitely have been #13 or so if there was such a place.

Kimi ni Todoke 2: The sequel to Kimi ni Todoke. I loved the first season, and I’m glad that opinion hasn’t changed in the second season. It’s still as touching, and seeing how Sawako coped with her relationships with people was moving. The seiyuu cast is decent too, as is the music. The story is great. However, compared to the 24-episode long first season, the 12-episode season felt a bit rushed, which makes it miss a spot in this list. A good anime nevertheless, totally worthy of your time.

Kimi to Boku: One of the animes still airing, Kimi to Boku is a fantastic anime. It’s a slice of life anime but each episode is interesting and doesn’t bore at all. The character interactions are the key here, providing us with a relaxing look into the lives of high school students. The comedy is pretty good as well, in a subtle kind of way. A good break from the more action-y series this season such as Mirai Nikki and Fate/Zero.

With that, the post is finally over, but there’ll be more to come, since I will be doing more EOY (end of year) review posts soon.

For now, I’ll get to sleep. It’s already 2.45 am, and I have a family trip tomorrow. Oh well. It was time well spent anyway.

13 thoughts on “Anime Review 2011: Top 12 animes of the year

  1. Kai

    meh, roris D;
    Anyway, I’m totally agreeing you on your choice for Fate/Zero ;D Second to none ;p Though ultimately, I still chose Steins;Gate. If Fate/Zero has more developments as they progress, it’s going o be a beast ;D

    Reply
  2. Cytrus

    Wow, Yuru Yuri. It was a pleasant watch, but I felt both the first and last episodes fell kind of flat – not something you want to happen if the show is supposed to leave a good impression.

    Reply
    1. thatredsky Post author

      I suppose that’s true to a certain extent, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the first episode when I first tried Yuru Yuri.

      The last episode was pretty okay though, in my opinion.

      Reply
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  7. tomphile

    A LOT of people have chosen Fate/Zero as their top choice this year, not that I can complain though. I love that show to bits! I’m surprised Ano Hana didn’t score higher than it did.

    Reply
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