The Top 12 Anime of 2011 – #6 to #1

Sorry to break the Hidamari Sketch streak but this was my favorite screenshot from 2011.

Did you feel your ears pop just now? I know I did. We’ve finally here – the rarefied air were this year’s best anime titles inhabit.

Before getting to the final countdown here’s some stats that the numerical-minded might find interesting. Using just the top 6 anime series:

  • This year has three anime original series, 2010 saw 2, 2009 had none, 2008 included 2, and 2007 also had 2.
  • This year marks the fourth year that a Shaft series appeared and the third year that KyoAni has appear as well.
  • This year Brain’s Base joins Shaft from 2010, AIC from 2008 and KyoAni from 2007 by placing two anime in the top 6 in one year.

6  –  Natsume Yuujin-chou San

That part of human nature that seeks out the new works against a show like Natsume Yuujin-chou. We get more excited over a new anime series that’s merely good then over an exceptional series like Natsume Yuujin-chou just because it’s in it’s third season and it’s “old”. I’m no different and it took a concerted effort to keep Natsume at the level it deserves. And it definitely belongs this high because, even though it felt like the same old Natsume, the show had a new script writer and that helped explain why the episodes felt sharper and more accomplished this time. This season also started to really display the slowly deepening character development of Natsume and those around him. One of the things I remember thinking about the first season was how sparse the cast was and now in the third season there’s this large cast of youkai and humans that has slowly congealed around Natsume.

5  –  Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

Better known under the much-needed shorter name of AnoHana, this anime original found on the noitaminA programming block picked up the anime original banner from Madoka’s hand and continued to proudly show why they are needed for displaying anime at the top of it’s craft. The most interesting point related to AnoHana I can add at this point is the observation I noticed about how this title is handled by anime fandom during it’s run and after it’s run. While airing, I saw a near universal positive consensus towards AnoHana but after it’s conclusion I started seeing more and more of a negative consensus forming. I don’t know if it’s because the people who didn’t like it kept quiet during it’s broadcast or if it was a belated desire by some to look like a critic (and not just a “fanboy” or “fangirl”) or maybe it comes from trying to cover-up how on several occasions AnoHana, a mere anime, brought these people to tears. Who knows?

4  –  Nichijou

The newest comedy series by KyoAni, Nichijou, was definitely a polarizing force amongst anime fans this year; then again, KyoAni has been polarizing since it rocketed to prominence with Haruhi over 5 years ago. Comedies are always difficult to get everyone on board because people’s sense of humor are so unique. Which is why I don’t begrudge the people who didn’t find Nichijou funny. The people who gleefully crowed about it’s apparent failure rubbed me the wrong way, however. There were the people who always complain that KyoAni only makes one type of anime but when KyoAni does something different they complain that it’s different. Then there was that animator from Gainax that was gloating over the low sales numbers for Nichijou and I love Gainax but I wanted to ask him how long before Gainax produces another hit anime – the guy that directed their last hit left Gainax with several other veterans to create a new studio. I think I even remember Mr. Fractale, Yamakan, crowing about Nichijou’s low sales numbers. Sorry, seems I’ve fallen into brooding rant mode; I just wanted to fill a paragraph and I was stuck when I started with ‘Nichijou is a funny anime, you should try it.’

3  –  Mawaru Penguin Drum

Moving on, early during Penguins’ run I realized that the ending was needed to explain this anime and by extension allow the viewers to figure out how good Penguins truly was. It was like a mantra I chanted after every episode, “This will make sense eventually,” and I’m pleased that my faith was rewarded with an ending that made sense and cast the whole series in the best possible light. I’m looking forward to rewatching Penguins now that it basically all makes sense. One of the interesting aspects related to watching Penguins was reading what the blogosphere wrote about it. The examination of how this anime and Shaft/Shinbou were connected was a highlight so to was reading the episode posts written by the one fan translators. This anime was the type of anime that needs careful attention to it’s translation even down to picking the best word among synonyms and reading why things got translated the way they did was enlightening and fun. I hope the director of Penguins and Utena, Kunihiko Ikuhara, won’t wait another decade+ to create another anime.

2  –  Steins;Gate

At this point what is left to say about Steins;Gate that hasn’t already been said? Not much but I’ll try anyways. There’s the remark that it’s quite possibly the best visual novel adaptation anime has ever had or that I’ve decided that I might just try the Steins;Gate visual novel to see all the stuff that didn’t make it into the anime. (A dangerous and slippery slope I know but that’s how much I liked Steins;Gate.) Or there’s the observation that Steins;Gate would have been number 1 in 2010, 2009, or 2008.

1  –  Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Because I like to repeat myself, at this point what is left to say about Puella Magi Madoka Magica that hasn’t already been said? Instead of trying let me share my favorite scene of Madoka. It’s the scene between Madoka and her Mom, in episode 11, on the stairs of the shelter. Throughout the series we’ve had the chance to see the beautiful relationship the two of them share, something so rare in anime, and that makes Madoka’s decision all the more painful. It’s an adult decision – Madoka’s first and last – and when Madoka’s Mom realizes Madoka has made an adult decision she makes the equally hard decision to let Madoka go with her blessing even when every fiber of her being is screaming to keep Madoka safe in the shelter. It’s a powerful scene. The type of scene that pushed Madoka into the top spot as my favorite all-time anime past Gurren Lagann which has been my favorite anime for the past 4 years. I was starting to think that I’d never see an anime series surpass Gurren Lagann and now I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before something surpasses Madoka.

I’d like to thank all the people who read my 10000+ word review of the 2011 year in anime; I hope you enjoyed it and maybe discovered an anime or two that you want to watch now.

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
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #13 – #7
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #6 – #1 <- you are here

6 thoughts on “The Top 12 Anime of 2011 – #6 to #1”

  1. I think Ano is a victim of its own success, in a way. Those who disliked it at first, just dropped it and said little to nothing about it. Since they had other things to watch in the season. But as more and more people found that they liked it, this formed a “core” audience which eventually reached critical mass in spreading the word to others.

    Those “others” however, often times did not get the high output that they were made to expect, thus rendering them bitter and more inclined to complain, publicly, about it.

    Remember this. In propaganda, the best way to destroy an army’s morale is to allow them to think they have won or are just about to win, and then smash and dash their hopes. Their morale will shatter instantly then, making the rest of the battle a cinch. Just ride them down with cavalry and slaughter the survivors. This fight is over. On the other hand, the best way to raise an army’s morale is to tell them the dire situation and odds they face, and at the very end of hope but before despair has solidified in the army, show them a new hope: reinforcements or some unexpected allied power or even a mistake by the enemy. This increases an army’s morale to such a point that they will gladly charge to their deaths fighting, without retreating, running, routing, or breaking. In advertisement, this is called expectation and hype. The hype is often greater than the quality of the product. But often times original small time production products have little hype, but a lot of quality to shine through.

    This is a fundamental human behavior issue and can be used in several different ways. AnoHi suffered from too much publicity and hype, as a result of the great expectations produced by an unknown title. Not even the greatest of kings and emperors can meet the expectations of everyone, however. Humans are far more likely to praise the novel and the new, the one that came first, than to praise someone for doing a great job when they were expected to do an even better job. Emotions are ephemeral. They cannot be transfered to your friends or relatives simply through a wish. For humans to understand each other and have common cause, other things must tie and bind us together. Emotions are too irrational and unpredictable to do so, except in a crowd alive with strong negative or positive emotions (like an army).


  2. I Agree with your decision for #1…even your decision of MADOKA over GURREN LAGAAN. For one reason…because like both the reason they were so amazing was because they made you both like and hate them, but in a way that made you sit on the front of your seat just waiting to find out why, why would they do that… very well done, i highly approve of your decision for number one.

    P.S. Ben-to should have been two higher, maybe. =)


  3. Would Steins;Gate really be the best show since 08? I’d name it best of 2011 (I….have complaints with Madoka. I love it, I love it’s direction, I love what it attempts to do, but they weren’t ready to do it and there are some glaring flaws that by my third watch through were too noticeable and detracting from the shows impact, while the flaws in Steins;Gate somehow have no affect on the impact of the shows conclusion or the relationship between Kurisu and Okabe, who are definitely the best couple of the year).

    I still consider bakemonogatari the best anime of the last 5 years, since Gurren Lagann it’s definitely the most complete, daring, revolutionary, and IMO closest to perfection (once you realize the ending is episode 12, not the 3 direct to DVD and online stream episodes which are more like a bonus).


  4. Now that I’ve finished Steins;Gate anime, I can definitely say that this was a great piece of work. They changed 99% of the right things. In fact, a lot of the plot events made “more sense” in the anime than in the VN. Often rewatching these things is boring since I already know the plot, but Steins;Gate was just as funny and outrageous as the first time I read the VN. They did have to cut some things due to episode limitations but… they cut the right things. It’s like they had the VN author right next to them telling them how to reconstruct the world line… Only one change I disagreed with and that was the way they shortened the Moeka arc. Also the ending’s emotional configuration changed just enough that a direct link doesn’t exist between Steins;Gate VN’s end and the anime’s end. The events are the same yes, but the emotional impact on the reader is different… In fact a lot of things are different in how the anime portrayed things, yet at the same time, they felt very “right”. The VN was more like a mind shocker and you got to figure out stuff by yourself, observing Okabe. The anime showed things in a very comprehensive God eye viewpoint. I enjoyed the scenes of the side characters and heroines, since a VN is necessarily only told from a first person pov.


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