Top Picks – Spring 2011 Anime, Part 2: Genre and Misfit Awards

After focusing on the characters that populate the various anime in part one, this – the second part – focuses on the parts of the show that are built around the characters (for the most part). This division is one that I’ve come to value when assessing a series. For example, series like Maria+Holic Alive have a strong core of characters stuck in mediocre constructed show and series like Deadman Wonderland have the tools for a well-constructed series but lack the characters to make it work.

Like I said last time, there was a pretty broad slate of shows this season but there always seems like a few genres are missing each season. Which genres that are missing change with the seasons; this time there was a surprising lack of quality fan-service series (the absence of series from AIC this season probably has something to do with this). And other genres never seem to have enough qualifying series to warrant the inclusion of a category. This time that meant no awards for best slice-of-life and SF series.

Okay, that’s enough rambling; let’s get to this group of awards and don’t worry I will explain the above screenshot. 🙂

Best Action

Winner: Nichijou

Runner-up: Tiger and Bunny, X-Men

Action equals money spent on extra frames of animation and this season there was no action series that was given a large enough budget to do more than show flashes of action. That wasn’t to say that the season was without a consistly action-packed anime series; we had Nichijou – a comedy series. German suplexes, epic chase scenes, explosions, festival shooting galleries, sisterly kendo matches over sweets, mosquito swatting and human missiles were just some of the action packed scenes from Nichijou this season.

Best Fight

Winner: Ep.12 of Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

The best fight was, without a doubt, episode 12 of Enma-kun. Brains Base took an already crazy show, jacked it up a couple orders of magnitude and removed all the restraints. The result was truly epic.

Best Comedy

Winner: Nichijou

Runner-up: gg’s fansub of Hidan no Aria

The top image of this post is related to the runner-up for best comedy – the fansub group gg’s sub of Hidan no Aria. J.C. Staff has always been weak at improving a show when the source material is bad but this time it felt like they weren’t even trying to make Aria a better show. The result was a show that’s painful to watch and it’s here gg stepped in. The result provided almost as much laughs as Nichijou this season and Nichijou was positively bursting with laughs.

Most Entertaining

Winner:  Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

Runner-up: Tiger and Bunny, Hyouge Mono, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Comedy is definitely a subset of Entertaining but often the most entertaining shows are ones that only provide sparse comedy. Enma-kun was consistently entertaining by always coming up with some off-the-wall idea and keeping the viewers guessing. It was also entertaining because it’s retro feel made it a unique experience. I’m not complaining about the overabundance of anime that follow modern anime stereotypes and tropes but a little variety is nice.

Most Interesting Setting

Winner: Hyouge Mono

Runner-up: Steins;Gate, C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

I fell in love with the Sengoku era of Japanese history after the completely over-the-top series Sengoku Basara turned out to be a pretty historical show so when the chance to watch another show set in the same time period came up I jumped on it. So far they’ve introduced an even wider cast of characters that couldn’t possibly exist but actually do and there’s been political intrigue, posturing and double-crosses all by the end of episode 5. Also in the mix is seeing how western influence is just starting to affect Japanese society which includes the viewers being introduced to a Christian warlord who’s destined to flee to the Philippines after Tokugawa clamps down on Christianity.

Best Plot

Winner: Steins;Gate

Runner-up: Hyouge Mono

So far Steins;Gate has felt like X-Files when it was in it’s prime and that’s a great thing to be like. Hopefully, as more of the plot gets revealed it doesn’t follow X-Files into the boring mediocrity that was the ending of X-Files.

Best Story

Winner: AnoHana

Runner-up: Tiger and Bunny

After creating a group of flawed, compelling characters the creators needed a good story to fully realize the potential of the characters and trying to fulfill the final wish of a young girl was just that sort of story. It’s not that complex or unique of a story but in the right hands it didn’t need to be. AnoHana had those hands in the name of Tatsuyuki Nagai and everything just came together.

Best Villain

Winner: Heaven from Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

Runner-up: CERN from Steins;Gate

Heaven was featured in another anime, Yondemasu yo Azazel-san, this season and there it was merely presented in a very unflattering light but Enma-kun takes it a step further and turns them into the villain that our rag-tag group of heroes (4 demons and 1 human) must  stop before a global apocalypse occurs. It reminded me of the Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman classic Good Omens, a book I highly recommend. Having heaven show up as the villain provided a nice twist like how the demons in Panty and Stocking were the law-abiding rule following citizens.

Best Final Episode

Winner:  Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

Runner-up: AnoHana, C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

I didn’t think it possible that an anime could squeeze through with a better final episode then AnoHana but Enma-kun did it. I already mentioned a few reasons why this episode was so awesome earlier when it won best fight but there were so many other reasons. For instance, this episode actually tied-up many of the story threads that got introduced earlier in the series, giving this series a real sense of closure. There were several elements to C that prevented it from reaching it’s full potential but it was still able to cobble together a very interesting final episode and ending. It didn’t make total sense but it was at least interesting.

Best Ending

Winner:  AnoHana

Runner-up: Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

Overall, though, AnoHana had the best ending and it goes back to how well the show was executed. The biggest thing that helped the show was that AnoHana didn’t attempt an overly complex story that couldn’t be finished satisfactorily in 11 episodes like several recent Noitamina series. *cough*Fractale*cough*C*cough

Most in Need of a Sequel

No one does a better night sky then Shaft/Shinbou

Winner:  Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Runner-up: Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

I’d definitely watch a sequel to either of these anime but in both of these cases there are other series I’d rather see first animated by their respective animation studios. Enma-kun comes from Brains Base and I’d really like to see a third season of Spice and Wolf first (now that Natsume’s Book of Friends is getting a sequel). Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko comes from Shaft and I’d like to see a third season of Arakawa Under the Bridge or a fourth season of Hidamari Sketch and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei first.

That’s it for part 2, the next part is the VMA awards.

Spring 2011 Awards Part 1: Cast and Character Awards
Spring 2011 Awards Part 3: VMA Awards
Spring 2011 Awards: Top 8 Anime – #8 – #5
Spring 2011 Awards: Top 8 Anime – #4 – #1


4 thoughts on “Top Picks – Spring 2011 Anime, Part 2: Genre and Misfit Awards”

  1. gg be gg’ing :v I wonder if some people actually complained about their subs or something. Were they like that the whole way through?

    Was Nichijou really that full of laughs for you? They’re moving a lot towards over-the-top random-action scenes (it did deserve that best action award) than actually humourous jokes, but the jokes probably just didn’t stick with me and they worked with you.

    For Best Plot, I really don’t think Hyouge Mono had enough time to build up a real ‘plot’ yet – we have a great setting, yes, but nothing’s actually /happening/. Perhaps you could add a separate category of most emotional story, in case for some season in the future the best story is merely a very well-conducted one, but another story is far more emotional, yet not as good.

    Finally, in case you were open to votes (besides the one you already have which lists ‘none of the above’ as an option which means ‘not Doctor Who or Nichijou’), I nominate Poppo as the Best Villain for not saving Menma. Maybe Lunatic next season if he gets developed. But Poppo is definitely the evilest of the bunch.


  2. Sword of the Stranger, Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, and …. well that’s it for historical drama settings, other than Samurai X Samurai the movie, that I would recommend people see if they like that kind of stuff. It is certainly true that the setting starts making a lot more sense once you start realizing all the background information that isn’t explicitly spelled out for you, since it assumes you grew up in Japan and thus learned Japanese history.

    Miyamoto Musashi’s manga, the Vagabond, would make a great source material for a lot of interesting fights for a period drama. But I think the japanese government have strict controls on how popular media can treat national treasures. That’s the only way I can explain how there are no anime making fun of or praising Japanese Emperors by name or example, no praises or making fun of the evil MacArthur American Shogun, and no mentions at all of Miyamoto Musashi. The closest I ever saw was Koijiro Sasaki, in Fate Stay Night. Koijiro Sasaki was said to have died in a duel to Miyamoto Musashi, and was considered by Musashi to be his rival and thus, second best after Musashi in the land.


  3. What happened to the explanation of the screenshot?

    There was a very strange episode about playing baseball with Commodore Perry’s task force that forcibly opened Japan’s relations with foreigners, in Samurai Champoo

    I didn’t really understand it at the time. The Japanese go out of their way when satirizing Americans or foreigners by making the artwork really ugly for the characters. If I understood more about the modern Japanese viewpoint of satire concerning Commodore Perry, *I might have got that episode more. But even now, it mostly eludes me. Although it is certainly true the Japanese resent foreigners telling them what to do. Including the Okinawans resenting what the Japanese tell them to do…


  4. That was a pretty incredible ending for AnoHana.

    I think episode 10 sealed the deal, because it was the clue to a double climax. The best anime series in terms of endings have this double ending, where you have a false ending and a true ending. Or Good Ending vs True Ending. (Don’t read any more for those that haven’t seen AnoHana. It’s not exactly a spoiler, but if your IQ is high enough, you can figure too much out)

    The last ending also had something most people usually don’t see. Humans have two natural valves for stress release: laughing and crying. However, ML Alternative already showed me that when the situation is dire and just getting up in the morning is faced with eternal bitter truths and countless losses, crying isn’t enough. It’ll just make yourself and everyone around you sadder, and in a planet consumed by existential war, grieving for what you have lost will impact your own and everyone else’s combat potential, thus increasing the chance that someone else will die due to lack of focus and lack of fighting morale. So they laugh instead of cry. They make jokes about death. And for many outsiders, this looks like they don’t care or are callous/cold towards the sacrifices made. Because they don’t ever cry. They don’t act sad at all. They hold it in and convert it into laughter, because one piece of crying will break open the dam entirely. And this will then cause others to cry and feel sad as well.

    And that’s what you saw at the ending there. The tension is eased, because only the closest of comrades can laugh together at each other’s greatest sadnesses.

    Definitely mature enough a subject matter to make me emotional.


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