Welcome, and thank you for reading my first Year End awards: Anime Edition. Now, to briefly explain, this doesn’t categorize anime and manga distrubuted or published in said calendar year, but rather the anime and manga titles that I have read or watched for the either for first time or still viewing/airing. Each category will include a top 3 of said list followed by a brief explanation of why I chose this title.
TOP 3 BEST ANIME OF 2011
I started to watch this title back in 2005, but never got to finish it until a couple of months ago. This is probably the last harem-based title that I really enjoyed from start to finish, mostly because it’s not as generic as others of the same mold (Girls Bravo, Maburaho, Saber Marionette R) and for a video game anime title, it’s quietly one of the better made shows out there. With a male lead that’s actually pretty funny, beautiful girls who play their harem typecast cliches very well, vibrant, colorful backgrounds, cool action scenes, a pretty decent story, and hypnotizing, drool-worthy fan service, Yumeria has quickly become my favorite harem comedy anime title since Tenchi Universe. There’s very little original about it, but damn, this show was fun.
2. Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds
The Yu Gi Oh franchise has defined itself in my eyes as what all shonen titles should aspire to be. In the age of dark themed shonen action shows like Bleach, Naruto, and D Gray Man, where it seems all the characters hate each other and can’t get along to complete the most urgent of tasks, Yu Gi Oh 5Ds exemplifies what shonen titles used to stand for; stand united as friends in the face of evil. While it’s nowhere near as awesome as the first Yu Gi Oh series, 5 Dragons still has a fantastic story nonetheless. Although I still feel the Turbo Dueling concept to be a tad silly, it at least help raise the stakes of the matches and after awhile, you kinda forget about it.
And My Number 1 Anime of 2011.
Sound of the Sky
This was an excellent TV show from start to finish that I’m glad I didn’t pass up. While anyone can create a show featuring cute girls doing cute things, that doesn’t mean anyone can do it well. Even for 12 episodes, this was a well paced show with a compelling, slow build story, great comedy that got me to fall in love all of these characters, and a climax that some might find contrived, but I felt everything came full circle in a beautiful storybook manner. It’s so low key; nothing is ever in your face with volume or crammed down your throat, like blandly beating you over the head with girly fluff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s girly fluff, but it’s not one of the failed Azumanga Daioh clones out there. Exposition is cleverly handled and not contrived, the three ensigns Kureha, Kana, and Noel, are cute as a button, and the music scores are devine.
Some Honorable Mentions:
Antique Bakery: This was great comedy that JUST missed my top three and I kinda feel bad, but this was the funniest show I watched all year
Minami-ke Okawari: Allegedly the weakest of the three versions, I thought it’s slower pace was a tad bit fitting, especially near the end. Also boasts the best hot spring episode of any anime I’ve seen since Photon.
Princess Resurrection OAV: This jazzed-up sexy edition of my favorite anime series since 2007 was pretty darn hardcore. More on this one later…
BOTTOM 3 WORST ANIME OF 2011
3. Casshan Robot Hunter:
Holy donuts, is there a collectively worse and more boring and uninteresting robot hero than Casshan/Casshern? After wasting my money on the overwritten debacle that was the stunningly unimpressive and loathesome Casshern Sins released by Funimation (the Dane Cook of anime distribution), I ventured back into the past to see if his eariler works of a better, more rational era was any better. I didn’t find it as terrible, but that’s like saying I like vomit more than feces. He’s still boring, still unintertaining, and this movie blows!!
I’ve gotten flack for this before, but I really hated this anime and I really wanted to like it, too. There was just nothing for me to sink my teeth into and a lot of people told me this was stellar, but I thought the narrative was bad. The worst I’ve heard in a decade. The dialouge just sucks, I have no idea what these characters are mentally babbling about, and changing the focus each episode to hear someone else spew out some street wise philosophical jargon didn’t make me feel any better. The online chatter every five minutes added no intrigue to me, it was just there just to kill time. The characters are annoying in almost every aspect; Country Bumpkin, Eccentric Jerk-off, and Busty Mute Girl make up our misfit heroes, Shizuo and Izaya are Zoro and Sanji from One Piece, only stupider and more desperate for cheap laughs. A Black Russian sushi chef………sure, why not?!? And creepy otaku goofs in a van…no. There was probably other characters, but I don’t care enough to mention them. The story is based off the old Romance of the Three Kingdoms bit, but I never liked that story much to begin with. Maybe it’s just the fact that the anime industry has bypassed a retro-mark like myself, but this not only wasn’t my cup of tea, but I felt someone gave me the wrong flavor on purpose. Were it not for Gun Frontier, this would’ve been my number one hated anime of last year. Which segways into……….
Number 1: Gun Frontier
There was a point in time when I used to say “If Osamu Tekuza is the godfather of anime, then Leiji Matsumoto is the heir to inherit the throne”. Not after I wasted my money on, and then watched this deplorable, disgusting, nonsensical, perverted, mean-spirited, hate filled, innocence-defiling, shower-and-burn-your-clothes-after-viewing bullshit!!! How can a guy who directed Space Battle Ship Yamato, a title singlehandedly redefined sci-fi anime and the space drama genre create this??!! Galaxy Express 999!? Captain Harlock!? Queen Emeraldas!? My opinion has never fallen so sharply after viewing one title, but I’ll just assume that like all great minds, he just went insane. Or if he thought he just needed to make anime where a woman had to disrobe every episode, here’s a note; Your women look better fully clothed. it’s called elegance, you filthy jackass! Pass this one up at all costs unless you’re Satan, and if anyone invites you to view it, hit them with a stale French loaf.
Innocent Venus: A really bland, early 2000′s mecha title. It’s far from completely terrible, but still a waste of time.
Cosmo Warrior Zero: Take the same rant I had about Gun Frontier, but go easy on it. Uninteresting space show with animation on par with Clutch Cargo or Gumby.
Parasite Dolls: I’ve never thought very highly of the Bubblegum Crisis franchise after the old 80′s show, which ruled, but for some reason they kept churning out things, and Parasite Dolls was a step up from A.D. Police, but still this “franchise” comes off as Ghost in the Shell’s stupider little brother.
ANIME BEST OVA OF 2011
As I mentioned before, this has been my favorite franchise for the last four years plus, and this three episode OVA was a godsend. While I’m completely in love with the kinda poorly done tv show a little more, this darker, grittier version shows what could’ve been if Madhouse actually put money behind it. This will probably never come here to the U.S., and the manga seems to be in eternal limbo after Del Ray comics folded, but I’m glad I had a chance to watch this while I could.
WORST OVA OF 2011
HADES PROJECT ZERORYMER
Not even because this one was particularly terrible or anything, there were some things I liked about it, but it really was the worst OAV I watched, especially when you try to write a story in the last 12 minutes. I had some fun watching it, but damn, was it goofy. Features some cool mech battles though and the artwork is pretty awesome for it’s age.
TOP 3 MALE CHARACTERS OF 2011
3. Hibari Kyoya (Katekyo Hitman Reborn): As far as shonen tough guys go, he really is one of the best I’ve seen in close to ten years. He seems legitimately indestructable and is unlike almost everyone else in the show (you know, not annoying)
2. Masamori Sumimura (Kekkaishi): Cold, calculating, dangerous, and quite honestly the franchise of Kekkaishi, this man rocks. I wish the show and the manga were about him and the Night Troops instead.
1. Kenshirou (Fist of The North Star)
Kenshiro is the end all, be all tough guys in anime, and with Fist of the North Star being redistributed back here again, I get a chance to finish where I left off ten years ago. What’s more awesome than a guy who can kill you in countless different ways using only his fingers? Not to mention his lone wolf persona doesn’t mean he doesn’t talk to people or at least act human. Ken is still a genuine nice man at heart, and a lot of these generic, brooding, emo thugs populating today’s shonen can learn a lesson from him.
TOP 3 FEMALE CHARACTERS OF 2011
3. Kana Minami (Minami-ke) With an insanely volatile imagination and as dumb as a bag of hammers, Kana won me over fairly easy. She reminds me of Osaka in Auzmanga, only more outwardly crazy.
2. Lilliane/Hime (Princess Resurrection) She has been my babe of the year for a couple years, and is the only anime girl in Goth clothing I’ve found sexy. She carries herself like a star and tells so much of a story with only one facial expression. If she has an anime next year, she’ll probably win.
1. Rio Kazumiya (Sound of the Sky)
This girl was fantastic!! A strong leader, who tries her best to wrap herself in barbed wire, but gave in to the inescapable gravitational pull of the anime’s cuteness. I loved her story from the very beginning, and she only got better as the show went on.