The Best Anime Of 2011 – Part 2: Genre and General Awards

Step 2 in making extraordinary anime is to take your cast of memorable characters and give them a stage that lets them shine.

I’m not fussy about which stage is chosen nor do I think one type is inherently superior to another. A well-done comedy is as difficult to make as a well-done drama and both deserve the same level of praise for succeeding in their respective spheres of influence. With a competent execution, a shoujo anime is as good as a shounen anime and/or a slice-of-life anime and/or a sports anime and/or a science fiction anime and/or romantic comedy anime and so on and so forth.

This bit of enlightenment was something I learned after starting my anime blogging and pushing myself to watch a wider variety of anime. Which is one of the reasons I’d suggest giving anime blogging a chance to people that want to deepen their appreciation of the art form.

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.

 

Best Action

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Spring – Nichijou

Summer – Nichijou

Autumn – Ben-To

Wildcard –  Tiger and Bunny, Last Exile — Ginyoku no Fam

Overall Winner: Nichijou

Yes Nichijou is a comedy but no other anime of 2011 could match KyoAni’s level of talent and commitment that made Nichijou’s numerous action segments attention-grabbing, entertaining, and pleasing to the eye. It’s closest competitor was Ben-to and with a little larger budget it might have been able to make this award competitive.

 

Most Entertaining

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Rio – Rainbow Gate

Spring – Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

Summer – Mayo Chiki

Autumn – Ben-To

Wildcard –  Hyouge Mono

Overall Winner: Ben-To

What Ben-to lacked in budget didn’t stop it from being supremely entertaining. It started with a quirky idea – people willing to trade blows over the chance to snag a half-priced meal – and just kept running with it. Ben-to’s toughest competitor was Rio – Rainbow Gate. This was another show that stuck (some might say courageously) to it’s silly premise and never stopped offering something new/bizarre/absurd.

 

Most Interesting Setting

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Rio – Rainbow Gate

Spring – Hyouge Mono

Summer – Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Autumn – Last Exile — Ginyoku no Fam

Wildcard –  Ben-to

Overall Winner: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

I love anime (and basically any type of TV/movie) set in a historical time period because I find the differences between then and now interesting to see. This probably makes me a bit bias towards picking Ikoku Meiro no Croisee but, even so, late 19th century Paris is not a common subject in anime and makes a great change of pace from the usual.

Best Plot

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Spring – Steins;Gate

Summer – Steins;Gate

Autumn – Mawaru Penguin Drum

Wildcard –  Hyouge Mono

Overall Winner: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

This turned out to be a very close thing for PM3 in the end; back last winter I thought for sure that it had this award sewed up but then came Steins;Gate and then Penguins. Up until the beginning of PM3 I respected Shaft/Shinbou for the ability to tell a good story but being able to handle a show that was plot heavy seemed beyond their grasp. (Look at Vampire Bund, for example.) Then PM3 comes along and suddenly Shaft/Shinbou is handling the plot to perfection and not skimping on the storytelling. I know the credit largely goes to Gen Urobuchi who was behind the script but it still was a shocking thing to see.

Best Story

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Spring – AnoHana

Summer – Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Autumn – Ben-to

Wildcard –  Hanasaku Iroha, Steins;Gate

Overall Winner: AnoHana

AnoHana’s win in this category is closely tied to their win in the Best Character Development for Cast category. I actually thought PM3 would win this award as well back last winter but AnoHana was too built from the ground up to win this award to not win this award.

 

Best Final Episode

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Spring – Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera

Summer – Nichijou

Autumn – Ben-to

Wildcard –  Hanasaku Iroha, Natsume Yuujinchou 3

Overall Winner: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

PM3 had the plotting and the storytelling that assured the epic awesomeness of the final episode. The most interesting nominee in this category is Natsume Yuujinchou 3. As a slice-of-life series it seems counter-intuitive to expect a good final episode from a series that doesn’t have a clearly defined structure but somehow Natsume finishes another season with an episode that manages to give a sense of accomplishment and completeness. (And conversely makes one yearn for just “one more season”.)

Best Ending

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Spring – AnoHana

Summer – Steins;Gate

Autumn – Mawaru Penguin Drum

Wildcard –  Tiger and Bunny

Overall Winner: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Getting the ending right is a tricky thing and is where so many anime (and other forms of media) fail. This year, with so many quality original anime series, we had many series that actually got it right. PM3 did it the best and so they win this category.

 

Best Slice-of-Life

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – nothing I watched qualified

Spring – Hanasaku Iroha

Summer – Natsume Yuujinchou 3

Autumn – Tamayura – Hitotose

Wildcard –  Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Overall Winner: Natsume Yuujinchou 3

Hanasaku Iroha finally clicked with me when I realized it wasn’t a drama but a slice-of-life series about a dramatic girl with an interesting family. Even so, nothing could really compete with Natsume. I would have argued that the first two seasons was a display of probably the absolute very best of the slice-of-life genre but the third season came along and somehow found the room to improve upon the first two seasons.

Best Science Fiction

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Spring – Steins;Gate

Summer – Steins;Gate

Autumn – Last Exile — Ginyoku no Fam

Wildcard –  Tiger and Bunny

Overall Winner: Steins;Gate

This was a very tight race between PM3 and Steins;Gate which would have surprised me more then a year ago, before the start of PM3. On one side there’s a magic girl anime and on the other there’s a visual novel adaptation. However, PM3 impressed me with it’s meditation on the three laws of thermodynamics and Steins;Gate was able to feel fresh and new in the crowded sub-genres of time travel and parallel time lines. It was a tough decision but I finally chose Steins;Gate for feeling more like a SF series and because it showed that there’s still room for new ideas in time travel and parallel time lines.

 

Best Comedy

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Level E

Spring – Nichijou

Summer – Nichijou

Autumn – Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Wildcard –  Fireball Charming, gg’s fansub of Hidan no Aria

Overall Winner: Nichijou

Nothing in 2011 made me laugh louder, longer and more often then Nichijou. I’m surprised not more people found it funny but I understand that comedy is a tough business. Second was gg’s fansub of Hidan no Aria; this is how you take a very mediocre anime and make it enjoyable.

Best Drama

Seasonal Winners:

Winter – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Spring – AnoHana

Summer – Steins;Gate

Autumn – Mawaru Penguin Drum

Wildcard –  Un-Go

Overall Winner: AnoHana

Some people might say that AnoHana was the best (worse?) melodrama this year but I never felt it crossed the line into melodrama and, instead, was the best drama of the year. (Though, I also like the Key/KyoAni anime series so these same people might find my judgment impaired 🙂 .) Not that it had a chance but Un-Go earned the wildcard spot for turning out to be a pretty interesting drama series which is somewhat surprising when the series was billed as a mystery/SF series and the mysteries were poorly done and the SF was shallow and generic. I’m glad that I decided not to drop Un-Go early on.

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

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 <- you are here
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 3: VMA Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 4: The Misfit Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #13 – #7
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #6 – #1

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2 thoughts on “The Best Anime Of 2011 – Part 2: Genre and General Awards”

  1. Y’know, each year, it just seems like a few certain anime dominate any anime ranking done the year. Winter’s Madoka, Spring’s AnoHana, Summer’s Steins;Gate (and Usagi Drop, but you… drop-ped that), and Autumn’s Penguindrum just smashed the rankings this year. Funny that they’re all separated into four main seasons.

    Anyways, it’d be interesting to pick different anime for every single award. At the end, it’s pretty obvious that, say, Steins;Gate’s going to be the best Sci-Fi, AnoHana’s going to be the best drama, etc. – but it’d be far more interesting to see how the other contestants fare.

    Obviously, you’d say something like, “Although AnoHana was undoubtedly the best drama this year, [xxxx] is worth mentioning. Blah blah blah blah blah.” I realize that it does seem a bit… fake, (how can there be a winner of a category that isn’t a winner?), but seeing many of the same anime over and over does get pretty repetitive, especially when it’s the same in so many different blogs.

    Like

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