Before embarking on another year of anime and adventures, we need to give a proper close to 2011 and give the year of anime an appropriate review. While the four seasonal reviews provide all my detailed thoughts in a timely fashion, the structure of this post is to give a ranking for the anime of this year, the characters of this year, and a few extra tidbits to recognize this wonderful year and show appreciation it for all it has done.
And, before I begin, I figured I’d do something silly and add one to each Top Ten list to make it a Top 11 list. Get it? For 2011? Gawd, I’m so dumb awesome!
Top 11 Characters of 2011:
Sasa was the embodiment of friendship and the glue that tried to hold the friends together through any argument, fight, or dramatic moment. Her thoughtfulness and consideration toward others always came first and she could always be found with an innocent yet geniune smile on her face. If only more characters were like Sasa, then the world would be a better place.
What makes that suave Sato funnier than any other character in Working’!! are not his jokes but his delivery. He knows how funny his own jokes are and puts together the right timing, emotion, and reply into everything he does. He never fails to disappoint.
Nessa was the only bright spot in Fractale. Her smiles and happiness were contagious and she brought a bundle of energy to Fractale that no one else could match. Her attention to others, despite being nothing more than data herself, easily made her the most likable character in Fractale. And don’t forget these wise words: Love is love.
Easily the most versatile character in all UN-Go, being able to support Shinjurou’s investigations, be an equal to Inga in terms of companionship, providing humorous material, and always stating the truth. She also proved essential to the plot of UN-Go by constantly questioning and pressing Shinjurou on his pursuit of the truth, a role she usurped from Rie but done to a much greater degree. Plus that doll form was incredibly cute, too, especially when it was thrown around and stuff. Her spot in UN-Go is undeniably important and her introduction episode really was the turning point in the anime.
The most heroic of the superheroes in Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu was also the best human out of the group, too. He understood what it meant to be a hero, that you are a role model for people to look up to, for people to be inspired by, and for people to create hope from. He never bought into that commercialism or selfishness like everyone else and actually cared for everyone he was around. On top of that, he was a loving father which is a much-appreciated but woefully underused character for leads in anime.
Easily the most positive character I’d seen in anime this year and probably the most energetic and vociferous, too, Chizuru was always there for fun and friends. Her personality certainly rubbed a few characters the wrong way but she never had an ill intent in her body and was a wonderfully realistic free spirit who lived in the moment and wanted to make everything better for herself and her friends. Watching her was always a treat.
The most honorable, gallant, and humble mahou shoujo of the cast, Sayaka also had the most depressing, heartbreaking story of them all. All she wanted to do was protect the world from an unseen, indefensible evil, spend time with the friends she loves, and have a fulfilling and rewarding life. Her selfless wish to get the boy she loved back to his normal self where he could produce remarkable music really highlighted her caring and considerate personality. Her tomboy side, more visible when she was with Madoka, certainly gave her the positive energy that I like to see in a character, too.
Kurisu is definitely the best support character of the year considering her exceptional role in the story, her hospitable interactions with the rest of the cast, and her pleasant personality. Kurisu is what every lead support should be, not only being the one to pull the lead out of the gutters when they’re defeated but being there the entire time for them and supporting the rest of the cast, too. I never liked her tsundere traits but the rest of her personality was flawless and I always enjoyed her back-and-forths with Okabe.
Call it a ‘crush’ or a ‘weakness’ but Makoto is one of my favorites despite not having the same characterization and development like the rest of the list. What puts her up here is that she got me to watch an entire anime, by herself, and even enjoy it, too. I can’t resist her tomboyish charms, her positive energy, her attention toward friendship (you can see a theme, here right?) and her cute appearance. I know she’s a predetermined moe archetype to attract otaku to a video game or an anime but, to me, she’s one-of-a-kind.
Daikichi’s personality and actions show he is one of the most human characters in anime. His selflessness and thoughtfulness toward others turned out to be the best decision of his life when he adopted Rin and began a new life with her. He realized he made sacrifices in his life but knew it was worth it to give Rin a better life than what she was destined for. His fatherly actions were more than enough to put him on this list but he was like that to everyone, plus he could work in some jokes when needed, too. He made Usagi Drop for me and is probably the best and most realistic parent I’ve seen in anime.
Okabe was always something else. Whether he was making us laugh with his eccentric personality or making us proud with his relentless pursuit to save his friends and the world, he was brilliant. He was able to perfectly execute both comedy and drama and made the romance in Steins;Gate something meaningful. His unique and unmatchable personality are what caught my attention but his performance in the story and his determined detection to save his friends make him the top character of the year.
Favorite OP and ED of 2011:
OP: Steins;Gate (Hacking to the Gate):
ED: Wandering Son (For You):
Top 11 Anime of 2011:
The most versatile anime of the year, Persona 4 has gotten me to think, laugh, smile, and feel for the characters. I’ve grown attached to the characters and their story and can’t wait to see how this anime ends up.
One of my all-time favorite comedies, Ika Musume returns for a second season with new laughs from its memorable cast. There’s something about the atmosphere and style of this comedy that makes everyone, including myself, love Ika Musume.
Another sequel to another unforgettable comedy, this season of Working’!! outperformed the first in numerous ways. Unlike most comedies which rely on humor alone, Working’!! made progress with its cast, performing interesting skits, and actually improved both its best features and its worst ones, too.
What made AnoHana one of my favorite dramas is how it involved the group of friends both in the past and in the present to explain their story. Not only was the story emotionally intense but the characters executed everything perfectly in order to make the story both heavy and meaningful. The story knew emotion inside and out and made for an incredible ride.
Penguindrum was a visual masterpiece with its dazzling use of lighting and colors. The profound use of symbolism to convey multiple meanings helped tell a story beyond the story we were watching and gave us numerous topics to ponder after each episode. There was always something to watch for in each episode and virtually every aspect was executed to flawlessness.
I always appreciate an anime that takes a serious, realistic approach to a real world issue and this one tackled sexuality and gender in teenagers as they hit puberty in an amazing way. Not only did the any tell its tale with a straight face but it also ended up being entertaining, too, at least when the drama and tension weren’t too high. Seeing an anime distance itself from the pack on its issue, art style, and execution really stood out for me and made for one of the best anime of the year.
What made C for me was how it took a step out of the ordinary with its themes and its story and looked at the global economy and world markets with interesting mechanisms. Not to mention, the story became incredibly depressing with the disappearance of one’s future for immediate wealth and how in order to survive the fighter needed to make the opponent’s life and the real world slowly decay. There were some problems with C but the anime overall turned out to be entertaining, dramatic, depressing, and one of the top of the year.
UN-Go was an anime that used modern mysteries as an instrument to describe a world, explore its characters, and tell a story without actually telling it to you. UN-Go took care in creating everything it wanted to make and did it all through the various mysteries the characters encountered. Not only did the anime want to consider censorship and nationalism in a post-war nation but also the meaning and purpose of the truth in such a society and the various views the people would have on such an issue. Shinjurou and Kaishou were ideal opposites and the whole cast was enjoyable.
A simple story of a man and an adopted child made for one of the most heartwarming, eye-opening, and treasured anime of the year. The story was able to take parenting, a theme yet to be seriously deconstructed and analyzed in anime, and make it into a stimulating and entertaining anime. It was another anime that took a real world approach to a significant issue and performed everything to greatness.
The most entertaining anime of the year, Steins;Gate had the humor, excitement, drama, and passion to make it one of the most celebrated anime of the year. The characters were perfect, playing off each other and growing together in their adventure, and the story was an unpredictable rollercoaster with numerous twists and moving scenes. From its direction to pacing to shot selection to colors to soundtrack, the anime was produced with carefulness and enthusiasm.
One of the most distinguished anime of the all-time. Everything about Madoka grew on you from its delightful cast of characters, to the mysteries and unknown that kept eating at you, to the story that progressively got more depressing but engrossing, to the fanciful art style that made the anime beautiful and haunting. The anime was emotionally taxing but inspirational and made for one of the most dramatic and enjoyable anime of all time. Madoka is easily the top anime of 2011.