The best of anime in 2011, according to NKDS.Julius_Firefocht | January 1, 2012
The Messiah has arrived.
A year ago, I made a similar post regarding the best of anime in 2010. At the end of the post, I speculated that Puella Magi Madoka Magica might become the best anime of 2011. Looking back at 2011, Madoka Magica would indeed have dominated if not for the sheer storytelling brilliance of the staff behind Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, better known as AnoHana. These are the two giants of the anime industry in 2011, all other titles fade away in significance when compared to these twin titans.
For the record, I consider anime like Fate/Zero and Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon to be 2012 titles, since we will only know how good the final product is when the second season ends.
So, the top 10 anime of 2011, in my opinion of course. Titles will be listed in alphabetical order.
1. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
Excellent storyline, superior voice-acting and good animation, combined with a tear-jerkingly good ending song makes AnoHana one of the more memorable experiences in 2011. Nearly every episode made tears well up in my eyes, which is no mean feat. The fact that AnoHana was original content that was not based off any existing material only made the overall product even more impressive. As a side note, I never thought much of Tomatsu Haruka’s voice-acting skills, but her performance as Anaru was very well done.
2. Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Season 2
It’s like Silverlink hired SHAFT’s animators for certain episodes of BakaTest season 2. The school comedy and crazy antics from Class F are all there, with significantly improved animation as compared to the 1st season. The episode featuring Minami’s experiences when she first arrives in Japan is particularly noteworthy, for its artistic direction and pacing.
3. Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT MEAT. Did I mention that I love Meat? And Kanae Itou is fast becoming one of my favourite seiyuu, thanks to her role as Sena AKA Meat.
4. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
I can’t pinpoint exactly why I like this show. Is it Erio’s moe factor or is it Meme’s mature sexiness? Or could it be that all the other girls in this show are all equally likeable? As a SHAFT production, Denpa Onna is not extremely high budget nor hard to pull off, but the anime manages to hit all the right buttons without resorting to extreme fanservice. It is just easy to like this title without needing a reason.
5. Hanasaku Iroha
Kanae Itou strikes again, proving her versatility and ability as Ohana. Hanasaku Iroha started out strong but suffered from episode pacing problems around the middle of the series, quickly recovering in time near the end. The animation is consistent, as expected of PA Works. The chemistry between Ohana, Nako and Minko is the main attraction here, with plenty of juicy subplots such as a potential love triangle and declining sales at the inn at which they all work at. My favourite girl in here has to be Nako. She is damn hot in her one-piece swimsuit or her Chinese waitress dress.
6. The Idolmaster
Every Imas fan has been waiting for this for a long time, and let’s not talk about Idolmaster Xenoglossia. Well, Imas has a giant fanbase and A-1 Pictures have managed to make a good anime that features all the girls, leaving no one behind. I must confess that I have not found the time to finish the anime, but I acknowledge the wisdom and difficulty of creating a high quality animation that catered to the entire Imas fanbase while keeping the fans of the individual girls happy. Not an easy thing to do indeed.
7. Mazinkaizer SKL
This one is personal. You probably won’t find Mazinkaizer SKL on any other top 10 lists for 2011, but no self-respecting Mazinger fan would drop this out from their own lists. I just wish they would man up and make an entire series for this, instead of a mere 3 episode OVA.
8. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
And so we finally get to this. I have done an earlier post about Madoka Magica back in April 2011, where I wondered if Madoka would be able to challenge Nanoha’s dominance of the Magical Girl genre. Fast forward to now, and I would say Madoka is well on her way to doing so. A movie series has already been announced, with a second season possibly in the works. Meanwhile, Madoka Magica merchandise is being churned out on a regular basis, and Mami actually won SaiMoe2011. Last but not least, Madoka Magica will be released in Bushiroad’s Weiss Schwarz TCG in February this year. The media and merchandise machines are in full steam with no signs of stopping.
It’s been a while since we have seen a massive and successful multi-platform marketing blitz such as Madoka Magica, and the anime industry needs more stunts like this to prevent stagnation. Imagine what 2011 would have looked like without the hype that Madoka Magica generated. Could Madoka really prove to be the Messiah of the anime industry, not just in 2011 but in 2012 as well, or will Nanoha and gang strike back with their own 2nd Movie in June? Time will tell.
9. The world God only knows
This was surprisingly good, and one of the best manga to anime adaptations that I have ever seen. It shares the same quality as Denpa Onna… it is easy to like the series without pinpointing any particular reasons. Once again, Kanae Itou provides an entertaining performance as Elsie, the criminally cute partner to Hiro Shimono’s Keima. The rest of the characters are equally lovable, with Haqua also gathering a sizable legion of fans comparable to Elsie’s. In time to come, TWGOK might well be considered as a textbook example of how to do manga-to-anime adaptations right.
I like this for the yuri overtones and the antics of Toshino Kyouko, the smartass leader of the merry band of girls that is the Amusement Club. This is truly one of the underdogs of the year, not much hype was generated by it, yet the shops of Akihabara were busy brainwashing customers with the insanely catchy opening song in the season the anime was being aired. The dynamics of the girls are truly fascinating, forming a complicated web that would take some effort to unravel and explain, yet very enjoyable. At the end of day, YuruYuri scores because the production team knew what they wanted and what the viewers were looking for in a show titled YuruYuri, and they simply delivered in generous helpings with a seasoning of insane humor. A very blunt way to create success, but hey, it worked.
The absolute best of 2011 would be a contest between Madoka Magica and AnoHana, no questions asked. As always, opinions will vary but I will have to vote for Puella Magi Madoka Magica as the best anime of 2011. While AnoHana was good and caused much tears to be shed, Madoka Magica was good, caused some tears to be shed AND kept the fans emptying their wallets even at the time of writing this article. Figmas, Nendroids and figurines of Madoka Magica are being released at a breakneck pace to insatiable demand, as compared to AnoHana’s own lackluster merchandising since the anime was aired.
If all goes according to plan, Puella Magi Madoka Magica stands a much better chance of being remembered and loved 3 years from now, as compared to AnoHana which would no doubt have faded to obscurity by then. And that is the difference between an exceptional anime versus a merely great anime… a constant generation of content and the ability to stay in public memory, long after the last episode has aired.
This is Julius Firefocht, signing off.