The Best Anime Of 2011 – Part 4: The Misfit Awards
I’m sure I’m not the only person that after building something will sometimes find a small pile of odds’n’ends that one hopes does not belong in the completed product. This part of the awards is like that pile of parts; as I was arranging awards into the various groups I started accumulating awards that didn’t really fit with the others. Instead of putting these categories in a little bag and forgetting about them until something goes wrong, I decided to add this fourth part to be able to cover them as well.
Before getting to the awards, as a reminder, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there’ll be some because of how they’ll relate to specific awards. As for the continuing shows, only the part of the series that ran during this year is under consideration for this year’s awards.
Winter – Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Spring – Heaven from Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera
Summer – CERN from Steins;Gate
Autumn – Ades Federation from Last Exile — Ginyoku no Fam
Wildcard – Ouroboros from Tiger and Bunny
Overall Winner: Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Kyubey is insidious and dangerous – the truer portrait of evil in the world; without him PM3 would not have been nearly as good. I read in an interview that Shinbou had wanted Kyubey to be animated like a normal cute magic girls mascot but the animators knew too much about Kyubey and could not draw him anyway but creepy.
Best Dressed Characters
Winter – Star Driver
Spring – Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
Summer – Nichijou
Autumn – Chihayafuru
Wildcard – Hyouge Mono
Overall Winner: Nichijou
I really should just name this the “KyoAni Production Values and Fashion Sense Award” and be done with it but I hold the hope that someday, someone will outmaneuver KyoAni. In all honesty, though, it is slowly becoming more of a competition.
Winter – Episode 7 from Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Spring – Episode 12 of Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera
Summer – Episode 16 of Ao no Exorcist
Autumn –Episode 2 of Ben-To
Wildcard – Episode 10 of Ben-To
Overall Winner: Episode 2 of Ben-To
Ben-to should be required watching for most animators before they try their hand at animating a fight scene. I’m looking at you J.C. Staff and Bones and AIC for starters; Shana and Star Driver and Persona could really be helped by including fights that are actually well done. I’m also going to throw Fate/Zero in as needing help; all the posing and monologuing gets old – spend a little less on the backgrounds and more on animating fights.
Most Unexpectedly Good Show
Winter – Level E
Spring – Hyouge Mono
Summer – Mayo Chiki
Autumn – Ben-To
Wildcard – Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera
Overall Winner: Ben-To
Episode 2 of Ben-to won best fight in part because it helped sale the anime to the viewer because the premise behind Ben-To did not seem like the recipe to create a great anime and we needed the convincing. While Ben-to was the clear winner, it seems like every season of anime includes at least one anime that is shockingly good, the proverbial diamond-in-the-rough, which is why one needs to have an open mind when deciding which anime to try.
Best Show No One Saw
Winter – Level E
Spring – Hyouge Mono
Summer – Ikoku Meiro no Croisee
Autumn – Tamayura – Hitotose
Wildcard – Rio – Rainbow Gate
Overall Winner: Hyouge Mono
Saying that no one watched these shows is stretching the truth since each title had it’s fans but in each case the anime failed to really catch fire on a large-scale (at least initially). Hyouge Mono won because it’s a great show and it’s been basically ignored by the subbing community. I’m thankful that there is at least one group subbing it but the slow speed probably implies a single person is doing everything himself/herself and that makes me worried because something might come up and it’ll never get finished.
Most in Need of a Sequel
Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Spring – Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
Summer – Kamisama Dolls
Autumn – Un-Go
Wildcard – Hanasaku Iroha, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee
Overall Winner: Kamisama Dolls
There were flaws with Kamisama Dolls but the first season (see how I’m hoping) accomplished much between the introduction of an interesting setting and the promise of more surprises just waiting to be discovered. It’s also the title that most gains from a sequel. In the case of PM3, the series was perfect by itself but, much like Toy Story, if a story can be created that can equal/surpass the original then it should get made. Un-Go might be better served by redoing it’s 11 episode run into something longer where the defects of the short episode count could be addressed.
Best Anime Extra
Young Animators Training Program
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée Episode 4.5
Shiki Episodes 20.5 and 21.5
Umi Kara no Shisha
Overall Winner: Young Animators Training Program
The four shorts that comprise the Young Animators Training Program are the result of a Japanese government program to help ensure the continued health of the local animation industry. How successful such an idea will ultimately be is open to debate but judging by the end result, there’s definitely much worse ways to spend other people’s money. An even more obscure nominee is Umi Kara no Shisha (trailer seen here). I happened to come across it, decided to watch it sight unseen, and was blown away by equal measures of WTF?! and awesome. At only 8.5 minutes long it’s well worth a watch or three.
Best Anime OVA Seen in 2011
Yozakura Quartet OVA
Hidamari Sketch SP
Kara no Kyoukai – Epilogue
Katte ni Kaizo
Overall Winner: Yozakura Quartet OVA
A dim memory of watching the Yozakura Quartet anime series – released several years ago – and finding it completely boring, generic, and forgettable stopped me from bothering with the Yozakura Quartet OVA. That is until I read a review of the third episode and it was mentioned that Ryo-timo was animating and directing this OVA series. That name had recently became meaningful when I realized some of my favorite animation scenes from Noein and Birdy: The Mighty Decode had their key animation done by Ryo-timo. I decided that I had to watch it and was pleasantly surprised to find the OVA turned the boring, generic, and forgettable anime into a pretty good anime. The animation was the big draw but the story and plot were given a boost at well.
Best Anime Movie Seen in 2011
Summer Wars (English Dub)
Sengoku Basara: The Last Party
Lupin III: Blood Seal – Eternal Mermaid
Overall Winner: Redline
There are a few anime movies that I didn’t see this year that appear to be worth a nomination from what I’ve been reading . One such movie, The World of Arriety, I’m purposely waiting on the chance to see it in theaters. As such those movies will most likely show up on next year’s nominee list but it’s not like I’m left to pick from a list of second-tier movies. The winner, Redline, is a feast for the eyes and a feast for the little kid inside that thinks driving a fast car is the most awesome thing in the world. It’s a memorable experience; the type that comes only once in a blue moon.
That’s part 4 of my retrospective look at the 2011 year in anime. Next will see a shift from award categories to counting down the top anime of the year.
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 0: Introduction and Anti-Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 1: Cast and Character Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 2: Genre and General Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 3: VMA Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 4: The Misfit Awards <- you are here
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #13 – #7
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #6 – #1