Now that 2011 is over, here’s a look back at some of my favorite shows from the past year. Due to the subjective nature of it all and the fact that I’m constrained to what I’ve seen, I’m not trying to pick series that the vast majority finds agreeable. Instead, I’m here to convey my personal favorites for 2011, after which you’re more than welcome to chime in with your respective choices.

Continuing from last year, there are numerous categories in the following areas: Production, Miscellaneous (fun stuff), Genre, and Notable Others. This year, I’ve also added some new genres and divided the seiyuu category into male and female. Included at the end are the final results to the Reader’s Choice Poll.

 

Please Read: I got a bit of flack last year for some of my choices despite providing more justification than necessary for an opinion, so please keep in mind that “best” is subjective. What’s best for me is not necessarily the best for you. I did manage to finish 72 of the 99 shows included in the poll (complete list here), so before you go knocking one of my choices, please make sure that you’ve at least seen it and know where I’m coming from. Finally, all I ask is that you respect my opinion, just like I respect yours. If you happened to watch more series than me in the past year, I’d love to hear what your favorites were.

Note: For a show to be considered, it has to have met the requirements outlined in the Reader’s Choice Poll. For OVAs/movies, the additional requirement is that it’s been either released on BD/DVD so that viewers outside of Japan have had a chance to watch it.

 


Production


Animation

Visuals and fluid movement. It’s all about the quality of what we see on screen and what impressed me the most. Any lack of consistency due to poor outsourcing should be taken into account, as I’m trying to think of the most jaw-dropping series across the board. To a certain degree, character designs and overall art style fall into this category too.

It’s easy to forget about the series from the first half of the year, but a quick flip through some of STAR DRIVER’s episodes reminded me of the stellar animation in BONES’ original series. Yes, there was recycled footage for Tauburn’s entrance and Takuto’s transformation, but the Cybody battles were always a treat to watch — especially with the galactic Zero Time backdrops. The quality remained consistently high throughout, particularly with the characters themselves. Even if Fate/Zero were up for consideration, the amount of actual animation in STAR DRIVER would still get my top pick. FRACTALE is a close runner-up with its immersive visuals and subtle yet realistic character movements care of A-1 Pictures and Ordet. At times, the amount of expression was movie-like quality. THE IDOLM@STER was another impressive production by A-1 Pictures for similar reasons, particularly the live performances.

Honorable Mentions: FRACTALE, THE IDOLM@STER, To Aru Majutsu no Index II

 

Story

As the somewhat polar opposite to what’s on the surface, here I’m looking at depth and what captivated me from start to finish. You don’t need amazing visuals to tell a good story, so it’s about the original material (if any) and the screenwriter’s adaptation of it here. Good cliffhangers that keep you on the edge of your seat week after week suggest the series is doing something right, whereas filler-esque showings don’t.

When it comes to a gripping story, three series immediately came to mind — Anohana, Madoka Magica, and Steins;Gate. After skimming some episodes of each, I had to go with Madoka Magica for its deconstruction of the magical girl genre and heavily character-driven progression where the heroines plummeted more and more into despair. It happened late in the series, but the story shares similarities with Steins;Gate’s hellish time traveling too — all in a mere 12 episodes. I loved how Urobuchi Gen’s dark tale cast a constant shadow of doubt on where things were headed and then completely twisted my understanding of everything that’s happened so far. It didn’t shy away from character deaths either. For those reasons, it edges ahead of Steins;Gate. Okada Mari’s touching story isn’t too far behind.

Honorable Mentions: Steins;Gate, Anohana

 

Soundtrack

What would a series be without the music to help set the mood and tone? A good soundtrack enhances the power and emotions behind scenes in such a way that you start associating imagery with the music unconsciously, regardless of whether it’s cheery, inspiring, or heartfelt. Lasting impressions say a lot, plus it just has to sound good too.

After listening to a bunch of soundtracks in the past month, Kousaki Satoru’s music in STAR DRIVER was by far the most memorable — even nine months after the series finished airing. There are a lot of tracks that I can instantly associate with scenes from the anime, plus the “version de l’approivoiser” songs by the four maidens that give me goosebumps to this day. (Listen below.) Other memorable soundtracks include Kajiura Yuki’s compositions in Madoka Magica, Ike Yoshihro’s in TIGER & BUNNY, and Sahashi Toshihiko’s in Sacred Seven. The last one was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t think much of the music while watching, but the soundtrack is really something. I loved Sahashi’s music in Gundam SEED/SEED Destiny and his pieces in S7 remind of something out of Final Fantasy. The OST features two fantastic insert songs by Nakajima Megumi too — “Koi” and “Tsunagaru made”.

Honorable Mentions: Sahashi Toshihiko – Sacred Seven, Kajiura Yuki – Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Ike Yoshihiro – TIGER & BUNNY

Listen to Divine’s favorite STAR DRIVER tracks ▼

 

Opening & Ending Sequence

Whether for its originality or ability to showcase what a series has to offer, opening sequences are always fun to watch. We tend to look forward to new ones and the songs that will be featured in them, and sometimes get a glimpse at what’s coming up in the show too (for better or worse). Here, the focus is on the sequence itself, even though the song may play a part in making it memorable.

Unlike opening sequences, endings don’t strive to draw the viewer in and get them psyched up about the episode that’s coming up. Instead, they’re an outro to what you’ve just seen and may highlight a specific aspect/emotion of the series. Sometimes, they’re completely irrelevant to actual story and are just an outlet for sheer fun/comedic value. Whichever the case, there are certain sequences that I enjoyed more than others.

[flv:C3_OP.mp4 355 200] C3 -C Cube- OP1
[flv:Beelzebub_ED3.mp4 355 200] Beelzebub ED3

There were a lot of OP sequences on my shortlist, but the sight of Fear dancing to Tamura Yukari’s “Endless Story” in a forest of cherry blossom trees came out on top. I like how the camera zooms in on her hands, hips, and feet while purposely avoiding her eyes, as it helped emphasize that her playful movements are in sync with the music. While the rest of the sequence is fairly simple with Fear, Konoha, and Kirika running through the woods, the rainy scene in the middle provides an interesting change of mood before it’s blown away by the cherry blossoms. Every time I watch this opening sequence, it feels like it ends way too fast.

Honorable Mentions: Kami-sama Dolls OP, WORKING’!! OP, STAR DRIVER OP2

I decided to loosen the “completed series” requirement for OP/ED sequences this year, as Beelzebub’s third ED was easily my favorite. Long-running shounen series tend to have fun with their sequences by showcasing their characters in a very different light, and this one did just that with a drastically different art style from the actual show. The girls are depicted in a much cuter manner, particularly Kunieda Aoi who’s the main reason why I’m still watching the series. It doesn’t hurt when Tomato n’ Pine’s “Nananiro☆Namida” is one of my favorite songs of the year either (see below). Tegami Bachi REVERSE’s second ED is my other favorite, because of its SNES Mode 7-like sequence and equally catchy song by Yamazaru.

Honorable Mentions: Tegami Bachi REVERSE ED2

Song

With the sequences covered, the attention is now on the actual songs. Insert songs are also up for consideration, with the only real criteria being that it’s something I didn’t get tired of listening to. There’s no bearing on if it was created specifically for a series or even if the series was even any good, as I’m simply picking my favorite song featured in an anime.

[flv:9nine_Cross_Over_PV.mp4 480 270] “Cross Over” by 9nine (STAR DRIVER ED1)

While I risk being labeled a Japanese teenybopper with my favorite song of 2011, the STAR DRIVER opening/ending themes by 9nine have stayed on my playlist to this very day, reiterating the notion that they’re songs I never got tired of listening to. They’re ridiculously catchy and have STAR DRIVER’s “fabulousness” associated with them. Of the two, I like “Cross Over” more because it doubles as the series’ instrumental theme song. I was seriously considering IDOLM@STER episode 20’s very touching insert/ending song “Yakusoku”, but I couldn’t overlook how 9nine’s songs have been stuck in my head for much longer. Some of my other favorites were the ongoing Beelzebub’s ED3 and FREEZING’s OP.

Honorable Mentions: “SHINING☆STAR” by 9nine (STAR DRIVER OP2), “Yakusoku” by 765PRO ALLSTARS (THE IDOLM@STER ED20), “Nanairo Namida” by Tomato n’ Pine (Beelzebub ED3), “COLOR” by MARiA (FREEZING OP)

Listen to Honorable Mentions ▼

 


Miscellaneous


Character

Branching away from strictly picking series and focusing on some specifics is the idea behind the miscellaneous section. The first one is my favorite character, who won his or her way into my heart for whatever reason. The criteria here is somewhat loose, but with numerous options in a single series, multiplied by almost a hundred in the past year, it’s actually quite difficult to pick one above all others. Be that as it may…

When it comes to the character that made a series for me, no one was more crucial to my enjoyment than veteran superhero Kaburagi T. Kotetsu in TIGER & BUNNY. As a main character who’s a single father in his thirties, he was a breath of fresh air in a medium that’s predominately about teenagers. I loved watching Kotetsu deal with criminals who gave him a hard time about being past his prime, plus his no-nonsense partner Barnaby. Then there were his interactions with Karina, a.k.a. Blue Rose, whom he acted like a fatherly figure toward and started to win her over. His character struck the perfect balance between easygoing/goofy and dependable. All he wanted was for his daughter Kaede to think he was cool too. You’ll always be cool to me Wild Tiger!

Honorable Mentions: Okabe Rintarou (Steins;Gate), Shinonono Houki (IS Infinite Stratos), Konoe Subaru (Mayo Chiki!), Hoshii Miki (THE IDOLM@STER)

 

Seiyuu

As the natural extension of characters, the seiyuu who voiced and gave them life deserve some attention. A character’s appeal can change drastically depending on the voice behind it, so I’m here to highlight whose acting I enjoyed time and time again. A variety of roles tends to showcase a seiyuu’s talent better, but sometimes all it takes is one unforgettable role to get my pick. Below are my favorite male and female seiyuu this past year.

Whether it’s dazzling Kiraboshi as a Ginga Bishounen or swearing at street vendors as a mad scientist, Miyano Mamoru was there to deliver. When he’s not playing serious characters like in Death Note and Gundam 00, he’s usually playing optimistic and carefree ones like we saw this past year. His starring role in DOG DAYS as Izumi Shinku was a natural extension of Takuto, whereas his support role in Kimi ni Todoke as Miura Kento took a more manipulative turn. He wasn’t in too many other shows, but his starring roles in the first two more than make up for it. Fukuyama Jun’s roles in SD, Tegami Bachi REVERSE, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, and WORKING’!!, along with Kamiya Hiroshi’s in Ao no Exorcist and Break Blade were among my favorites as well.

Honorable Mentions: Fukuyama Jun, Kamiya Hiroshi

While Toyosaki Aki impressed me more last year with her sheer number of distinct voices, this year was all Hanazawa Kana. Her spunky portrayal of Rana Linchen in FREEZING and absolutely psychotic portrayal of Hyuuga Mahiru in Kami-sama Dolls showed range I never knew she had. Kana only really has one voice that she uses in her roles, but she really took it to another level with her feistiness in those two. She also starred/co-starred in lots of other series, including the aforementioned FREEZING, Deadman Wonderland, FRACTALE, Ro-Kyu-Bu, Moshidora, Hen Zemi, Infinite Stratos, Ao no Exorcist, Mayo Chiki, and Break Blade, and gave memorable performances in each. Yuuki Aoi and Kayano Ai were two of my other favorites for using distinctly different voices in every role. It’s really hard to typecast either of them.

Honorable Mentions: Yuuki Aoi, Kayano Ai

 

Plot Twist

This is the replacement for the category previously known as “Biggest Shocks”. I’m looking for a sudden unexpected turn of events in the story that caught me off guard and delivered sheer shock value. It’s that “WTF” moment that has people talking about it for the next few days, regardless of whether or not anyone found it agreeable. Below are the plot twists I have in mind.

Show Plot Twist ▼

 

Death

This may be part of a plot twist or something you see coming a mile away, but I’m concerned about the impact the death has on the story and me as the viewer. Well-executed screenplay leading up to it may play a big part, but there are also cases where a character dies so suddenly that we’re left in complete disbelief. In both cases, it’s the lingering impression I’m basing my selection on.

Show Death Picks ▼

 

Trap

“It’s a trap!” and by that I mean a guy cross-dressing as a remarkably cute-looking girl. Gender bender is also acceptable since we’re simply looking for the character who gave off a disturbingly unsettling feeling with how well they portrayed the opposite sex. In short, the character who managed to deceive others (and me) into thinking they’re actually a hot girl, if even only for a moment.

I’m cheating this year by including reverse traps, but it was only way to give Konoe Subaru the attention she deserves for having a legion of degenerative female fans and kicking ass better than most male characters. It’s not like viewers are ever truly deceived by male traps, so it only seems fair to let the support characters decide how good a trap is. The added benefit of a reserve trap like Subaru is that neither gender is truly disappointed even if the supple truth gets out. Kusunoki Yukimura would be the obvious choice for a regular trap, but it’s somewhat unfair because there’s nothing masculine about him at all. His character is designed as a girl from the ground up, so he can even pull off wearing a female swimsuit. Now that’s cheating.

Honorable Mentions: Kusunoki Yukimura (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai), Shidou Mariya (Maria Holic Alive)

 


Genre


Action

In the genre section, the goal is to pick the series of the year for their respective classes. These are pretty much the series that brought their A-game to the table and are viable candidates for my favorite anime of the year. First up is action, which ranges from shounen-crazed series to war-filled mecha ones. For battles, choreography plays a huge role so that was definitely taken into consideration.

Much like the year before, there were a lot of series with action, but not many made it one of their main focuses. Ultimately, the mecha fan in me took the most enjoyment from seeing all of Banpresto’s original robots unleash all their trademark attacks backed by their awesome theme music in Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector . While my fond memories of the games come heavily into play, anyone who enjoys a good mecha series should be able to appreciates the action in SRW:OG. The final battle with all the robots cranking out their strongest attacks one after another was nothing short of “orgasmic” mecha overload. FREEZING also gets my nod for its Pandora battles with shounen action written all over them, as does BLOOD-C for some great fighting choreography and X-Men for lots of gritty superhero action.

Honorable Mentions: FREEZING, STAR DRIVER, BLOOD-C, X-Men

 

Romance

Emotion-filled romance at its finest. The relationships between characters and the emotions involved are the appeal, and the main criteria for selecting a series here. A sentimental story is always good, with tear-jerking scenes being a plus. This is the series that had the best romantic mood from the character interactions to the big confession.

There weren’t as many pure romance series as I would’ve liked, so my pick practically defaults to the second season of Kimi ni Todoke. My only hesitation about this choice is that the portrayal of Kazehaya and Sawako’s relationship didn’t draw me in nearly as much as I would’ve liked. Instead of making me gush over how cute they are, I was mostly filled with a sense of relief to see all the misunderstandings come to an end. Still, I found myself so invested in the characters that the romance was incredibly sweet at times. I have to give a lot of credit to Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II though, as Chihiro’s arc really impressed me from a romantic standpoint. Manglobe studio carried a bit of that sweetness over to the confession in Mashiro-iro Symphony too.

Honorable Mentions: Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II, Mashiro-iro Symphony

 

Drama

A lot of good series out there depict an emotion-filled story where the romance comes secondary, if at all. Strong depictions of friendship and in challenging situations can really draw a viewer into the story and start making them sympathize with the characters. It’s a bit of an all-encompassing genre, but only a handful of series really pull viewers in with their screenplay.

When thinking of my favorite dramas in the past year, I didn’t have to look much further than my favorite stories. Anohana’s portrayal of a group of childhood friends who had grown distant after one of them suddenly died was one of self-discovery. They slowly come to terms with how they truly feel and do everything they can in memory of a ghost whom only Jinta can interact with. At times, the series had a lighthearted and very unassuming air, but the emotions were always prevalent and the main driving factor behind the story. While it wasn’t too moving for some, I couldn’t help but get a little teary-eyed in the finale. Moshidora also proved to be a powerful baseball-based drama at its core, whereas Usagi Drop was unbelievably cute and sent a good message.

Honorable Mentions: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Mawaru Penguindrum, Moshidora, Usagi Drop

 

Sci-Fi

When it comes to science fiction, a futuristic world with advanced technology, robots, space travel, and superhuman abilities is the usual connotation; however, it’s not the only setting that fits this genre. Sometimes all a series has to do is play up a single sci-fi aspect and do it well to go down as an excellent sci-fi series.

It’s no secret that I love it when time travel is involved, so Steins;Gate’s take on it with a microwave that could send text messages to the past naturally gets my pick. The series didn’t have to contend with any major mecha anime this year — save for Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector — but its riveting depiction of the consequences of messing with timelines would have made a case for itself even if it did. The “D-Mails” were the only sci-fi element, but their effects were astronomical when Rintarou carelessly meddled with the timeline and found himself faced with an unchangeable fate. Watching him try to reverse the changes was incredibly gripping, especially when it revealed previously unseen facets of the support cast. C deserves a special mention for warping my image of financial districts and stock trades.

Honorable Mentions: C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon, Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector

 

Horror/Thriller

People asked for a horror category in past years, so I figured it was about time to make it a mainstay in these year-end posts. Gore is not a necessity for this genre, as there’s always psychological thrillers that are just as gripping if not more. However, those that can provide both an unsettling atmosphere and a good scare are even better.

As someone who hasn’t read too much of the manga, I really enjoyed Deadman Wonderland for its dark, twisted, and gore-filled story where a normal middle school boy is thrown into an amusement park prison and forced to take part in a sick life-or-death underground game. It was hard not to wince at the sight of prisoners getting organs forcibly extracted from their bodies or limbs lopped off, but there was a faint glimmer of hope in all the madness that made it impossible to stop watching. There was always an unsettling and even disturbing ambiance, which made watching the series a somewhat masochistic endeavor. Great for those who can stomach the violence, with the only drawback being the open-ended conclusion that’s in desperate need of a sequel.

Honorable Mentions: Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji Hakairoku-hen, Steins;Gate

 

Mystery

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Thought-provoking storylines that keep inquisitive viewers watching and speculating on where things are headed? Yes, please. They don’t necessarily have to have a horror element to them either, as all I’m looking for here is my favorite blend of detective/crime fiction.

A supernatural twist always helps and this year both Dantailan no Shoka and UN-GO delivered in that regard. Between the two, I found myself much more taken in Dantalian no Shoka’s spin on it, as each episode gave us something different not only from a crime standpoint, but in terms of delivery as well. Part of the mystery came from trying to understand what Huey and Dalian had got their noses in next, which includes a very unforgettable case where they were caught up inside a phantom book. In their search for the truth and recovery of phantom books, they brought me to the ends or reality and back again and left me wanting more when the series completed its much too short 12-episode run. I still enjoyed UN-GO for its smart and witty take on a great detective, as well as GOSICK’s seemingly unrelated arcs that came together in the end.

Honorable Mentions: UN-GO, GOSICK

 

Comedy

The ability to make you laugh until you cry. That’s probably the number one criteria when selecting a comedy of the year. From everything to sheer stupidity, quirky characters, and timely comedic pauses to perverted fun, elaborate setups, and witty jokes, it’s the lighthearted nature and humorous entertainment value of these series that I love.

There aren’t many series that I can say trolled me and I liked it, so LEVEL E deserves mad props for doing that with its deadpan humor. This thirteen-year-old revival project from the creator of Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter was an absolute riot, changing things up with outrageous arcs before finally addressing the main plot. (Yes, there was an actual plot!) On the receiving end of Prince Baka’s sadistic sense of humor were usually Yukitaka and Kraft, who provided some of the most livid outbursts ever. This was hands down the funniest show for me, ahead of Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san, WORKING’!!, Yuruyuri, and Nichijou, which were all hilarious in their own right too. The degenerative stuff just kills me.

Honorable Mentions: Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san, WORKING’!!, Yuruyuri, Nichijou

 

Romantic Comedy

The romantic comedy genre separates itself from the individual romance and comedy ones by teasing us with potential relationships but never quite settling on one. Instead, the enjoyment comes from the character interactions themselves, often — but not always — in harem-like scenarios. This is one of my favorite genres so I really wanted to highlight my favorites of the year.

Infinite Stratos is easily my pick of the year for combining high-speed aerial battles with a cast of heroines with very distinct and lovable personalities. They all fell into the usual stereotypes, but distinguished themselves ever so slightly from the norm (e.g. a tsundere who can restrain herself). Most of my enjoyment came from watching them fight over the incredibly dense protagonist, which as irksome as it may sound, was actually the highlight of the series because of the amiable characters voiced by an all-star cast of female seiyuu. The character interactions were the focus like they should be, but it definitely didn’t hurt that the overarching plot involved exoskeleton mechs, effectively combining two of my favorite genres.

Honorable Mentions: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni!, Mayo Chiki!, Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

 

Slice of Life

A laid-back series with no reliance on heavily gimmicky plot devices nor a constantly progressing storyline is what this genre stands for. The character interactions themselves in an otherwise “normal” setting are the highlight, along with any incidental humor that results from them. A lot of times, they’re just really cute and innocent happenings, and that’s exactly what makes a good slice of life series.

I was originally set on Ikoku Meiro’s heartwarming tale about a young Japanese girl in 19th century Paris as my undisputed slice of life of the year, but THE IDOLM@STER made one heck of a push in its latter half, showing that it’s so much more than a slice of life with an idol twist. After giving a good feel for the lighthearted side of things with character-centric episodes, it injected large doses of heartfelt drama surrounding its two main heroines, Haruka and Chihaya. The build-up was cleverly spread out over several episodes too. While Ikoku Meiro had some really touching moments, episode 20 of IM@S was one to remember. Hanasaku Iroha paled in comparison, partly due to much less interesting episodes in the middle stretch, so it slots in behind even the carefree A-Channel for me.

Honorable Mentions: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée The Animation, A-Channel, Hanasaku Iroha

 

Fan-Service

While fan-service-filled affairs tend to go hand-in-hand with comedies, that’s not always the case. In addition, fan-service doesn’t only constitute breasts in your face, nor an abundance of needless upskirt shots. The only criteria here are character interactions suggestive of a sexual-related context, regardless of how revealing the scenes may actually be.

In 2011, my favorite kind of fan-service came in the form of teasing and the occasional wild scenario rather than flashing excessive amounts of skin, and no series had a better mix of that than Mayo Chiki. All it really took was Kanade’s sadistic ways to bring about all the fan-service, be it ordering Subaru to do a bunch of embarrassing stuff that she couldn’t refuse or giving Jirou some kinky ideas about what he could make Subaru do. That is, when Kanade wasn’t busy messing with Jirou herself. Before long, Masamune was manipulated for Kanade’s personal enjoyment as well, providing more “reluctant yet secretly willing” scenarios. Infinte Stratos providing something similar with the girls releasing their inhibitions, as did Onii-chan no Koto in a much cruder form.

Honorable Mentions: IS Infinite Stratos, Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!

 


Notable Others


Most Underappreciated

There are numerous shows out there that people don’t watch or continue watching because they’re so fixated on what’s unanimously popular. I make a point of watching and covering series that tend to be overlooked, so this is intended to highlight the series that more people should have checked out but probably didn’t.

It may have been edged out as my favorite slice of life series, but Ikoku Meiro no Croisée was an absolute gem among anime these days. I loved all the cuteness Yune brings and how the show made me appreciate the small things in life more. At its core was a very sweet and heartwarming story about a girl who needed help familiarizing herself with a foreign country and culture and a boy who needed help rediscovering a side of himself that he had forgotten. It differentiated itself from one of my favorite slice of life shows of all-time ARIA by painting a less than ideal picture of 19th century France, but was still a “feel-good anime for the soul” in every way. A truly wonderful series.

Honorable Mentions: LEVEL E, Tegami Bachi REVERSE, Moshidora

 

Biggest Disappointment

The pitfall of excessive hype and anticipation for anything is the disappointment that results when things don’t meet expectations. With regards to anime, this is doubly true when a series has precedence established by its original and a sequel falls incomparably short. At times it’s only a small letdown, but sometimes we’re left wondering what we did to deserve sitting through it. I’m not looking for the worst series of the year here, but the biggest disparity between expectations going in and way the series turned out.

I wasn’t terribly disappointed with FRACTALE despite director Yamamoto Yutaka’s bold statements about how he would retire if it failed; however, the same couldn’t be said about Production I.G and CLAMP’s latest addition to the Blood series. I was cautiously optimistic about BLOOD-C, but it was still hard to overlook how the entire series banked on a single plot device and continually piled up the death total to keep viewers watching. I loved the action sequences; I didn’t love how the story kept me in the dark until the final two episodes though. Saya’s realization on who she truly is came far too late for my liking as the series could’ve been so much better if there was more to it than that. The upcoming movie could change all this, but when looking solely at the TV series and its execution, I couldn’t help but go away disappointed.

 

Exceeded Expectations

Naturally, there’s the exact opposite of the above, where we go into a series with low or little-to-no expectations and it turns out much better than we anticipated. This could easily be considered finding diamonds in the rough, which is only possible if you tend to give new shows the benefit of the doubt. My picks here don’t mean they’re blockbuster hits in disguise, but that the disparity between expectations and the actual series goes in the favorable direction.

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka delivered the laughs, battles, shocking revelations, and unexpected twists that the producers promised and in ways that I would have never anticipated. The mash-up of tropes took it to the extremes with the male zombie protagonist donning a “masou shoujo” outfit complete with a transformation sequence and somehow made it kind of cool. I was most impressed by how the progression managed to stay “randomly coherent” when it switched over to a more serious air surrounding Yuu and someone she resurrected in the past. I have no idea how someone comes up with a wacky story like this, but it just worked. Majikoi also turned out better than I originally thought with its unique combination of action and adult humor.

Honorable Mentions: Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!!

 


And Finally…


Favorite Anime 2011

The be all and end all of the year. If I had to pick just one series as my favorite, this would be it. If I could’ve only watched one show this past year, here’s what I would’ve been watching. There’s no other criteria here and being on the same page as the masses is the least of my concerns. You may not agree, but this category is for conveying what I enjoyed the most in 2011.

It was a tough choice between Steins;Gate and Madoka Magica as my favorite of 2011, as both series provided heavily character-driven storylines and a roller coaster of emotions. Story-wise, I liked Madoka’s deconstruction of the magical genre more as it was unlike anything I’ve seen before. Steins;Gate on the other hand built up its characters better with its two-season run and gave a hellish portrayal of the consequences of messing with timelines — something that totally won me over. I loved making sense of all the temporal implications of the “D-Mails” that were sent, as S;G was extremely well thought out and adhered to timeline theories. There was no shortage of twists either when Rintarou desperately tried to undo the changes made. To top it all off, there was even a love story hidden within this psychological thriller. Sci-fi, suspense, drama, and romance all rolled up into one. We’ll be lucky if we see another show of this caliber anytime soon.

Honorable Mentions: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, STAR DRIVER, TIGER & BUNNY, Anohana

 

Favorite OVA/Movie 2011

The same as above, except for the not regularly broadcasted offerings. These aren’t covered very often on the site, but I’ve had the pleasure of watching enough to find some that really caught my eye.

The Gundam 00 movie made a last-minute steal as my favorite OVA/movie of 2010, but this year there wasn’t anything that I remotely enjoyed as much as the second Macross Frontier movie, Sayanora no Tsubasa. Movie-quality visuals backed by an epic soundtrack by Kanno Youko featuring new songs by May’n and Nakajima Megumi, plus a conclusion where Alto finally picks one of the songstresses? There isn’t anything more a longtime Macross fan such as myself could’ve possibly asked for. It was an absolutely fantastic movie, which when paired with the first one, could easily attract new fans to the franchise. The changes in the plot kept the story fresh while the ~90% new footage made the movie a spectacle to behold. I didn’t watch as many OVA/movies as I would’ve liked, but this is my favorite of 2011 hands down.

Honorable Mentions: Gundam Unicorn, Break Blade

 

Reader’s Choice – Favorite Anime 2011

Your choice for 2011. With everyone allowed to pick up to five series, we have a pretty nice spread of results. In exchange for finding out if there was one series that everyone would’ve picked with a single vote, we have a much better idea of the other ones you enjoyed. The top choice is still pretty unquestionable though, since it was good enough to make it into the majority of your top 5 picks.

The Top 5:
Steins;Gate – 3,283 (9.47%)
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica – 2,805 (8.09%)
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai – 2,106 (6.08%)
Mawaru Penguindrum – 1,401 (4.04%)
Usagi Drop – 1,369 (3.95%)
Total Number of Votes – 34,640
Here are the full results.

I’m happy to report that the turnout for this year’s poll was very similar to the previous year with at least 6,900 voters taking the time to chime in with their top 5. Interestingly enough, three of my top 5 picks coincide with readers’ picks, where Steins;Gate also edged out Madoka Magica as the undisputed favorite of 2011. I’m somewhat surprised by that, since I figured Madoka would appeal to more viewers. In comparison, I’m very surprised to see Mawaru Penguindrum take fourth overall — regardless of the huge disparity between it and the #3 Anohana — as it didn’t seem to have that much of a following when I was blogging it. Other than that, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who enjoyed TIGER & BUNNY, STAR DRIVER, and Infinite Stratos, given how they all cracked the top 10. I was under the impression that a lot of people had qualms with STAR DRIVER in particular, so I wasn’t even sure if it’d make the top 10. Personally, I thought it was a great series, hence why it takes third overall on my list.

 

Reader’s Choice – Favorite OVA/Movie 2011

Your OVA/Movie choice of 2011. As mentioned in the disclaimer above, the choices here were restricted to what’s been released on BD/DVD so that viewers outside of Japan have a chance of watching it and making an informed decision. It didn’t make sense to restrict such offerings to a small pool of voters this year and not have it up it for consideration in 2012, so if you wanted to vote for anything that premiered in theaters, you’ll get your chance next year.

The Top 5:
Carnival Phantasm – 1,375 (7.87%)
Gundam Unicorn (eps 3-4) – 1,351 (7.74%)
Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa – 1,299 (7.44%)
Break Blade (movies 3-6) – 1,191 (6.82%)
BLACK LAGOON Roberta’s Blood Trail – 981 (5.62%)
Total Number of Votes – 17,450
Here are the full results.

Carnival Phantasm takes top honors this year, narrowly beating out both Gundam Unicorn and Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa. However, judging from the comments in the poll, this is likely due to the fact that more people watched Carnival Phantasm than the other two. There definitely weren’t as many notable OVA/movies releases compared to 2010, but I admittedly didn’t even make the time to check out all the ones that did interest me. This includes Carnival Phantasm, REDLINE, Mardock Scramble, Towa no Quon, and Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo — all of which did fairly well in the poll. If I did, I get the feeling that I would’ve had more honorable mentions for my favorite OVA/movies of the year.

 

As always, every year offers something different, and while 2011’s line-up didn’t have as many standout titles at first glance, a closer look revealed some original gems such as Madoka Magica, STAR DRIVER, and TIGER & BUNNY — three series that found their way into my top 5. I somehow managed to top my 56 out of 98 completed series from 2010 with 72 out of 99 in 2011, so there were significantly more shows that interested me too. Those who were willing to give most series the benefit of the doubt probably found it an enjoyable year for anime, whereas those who weren’t willing to expand their horizons likely missed out. Of course, that’s purely subjective much like this Best of Anime post itself, but it’s probably fair to say that you’ll never know if you enjoy a series if you don’t give it a fair chance. In 2012, I intend to delve into as many series as I can again, so here’s to hoping for another fun and entertaining year from the world of anime.

320 Comments

  1. Whoa. This must have taken a while to compile Divine. But after reading through it, it seems like you mentioned Star Driver a lot at the beginning, so I was a little surprised to see that it wasn’t your favorite anime of the year. Glad it got an honorable mention.

    Here’s hoping that 2012 will be good or better.

    ShuffleAir
    1. The show did deviate a little from the game but it was awesome nonetheless. Especially that Big Damn Heroes moment in the final episode. It also opened the possibility for future premise of a sequel like in the game, and the hint that Kyosuke is actually evil in the alternate timeline, that the original GBA game didn’t have, is a possible sequel hook.

      The Moondoggie
    2. You may want to re-evaluate your standards a bit, compared to all game-to-anime adaptions, Super Robot Wars OG Inspectors definitely out does them in animation and pacing. Compared to SRW Divine Wars the mechs aren’t that slow moving or awkward. Sure the episode didn’t start in a forest nor did you get to see individual characters like Ibis and Kusuha sortie out in their own scenarios, but over all I’d say every episode is enjoyable to watch. Even if you were disappointed in some elements, I’m pretty sure SRW is still one of the better animes you’ve seen.

      Suppa Tenko
      1. Both Zone of the Enders and Gungrave are leagues above SRW.

        Hell, Gungrave completely inverts the rule about anime based on games.

        SRW was average at best. I never played the game it was based on and if the game is anything like the anime then I wouldn’t want to waste my time.

        Anon
      2. Ya can’t exactly say it sucks when you haven’t even played the game yet. If you don’t like mecha, then don’t say its a bad adaption just because it has mecha in it.

        Suppa Tenko
      3. But Gungrave isn’t mecha. Though I do admit ZOE is gorgeous, I don’t find it any different from SRW, except that while ZOE is action SRW is a tactical turn-based strategy.

        The Moondoggie
      4. I played ZOE and SRW. I liked SRW series more. There is something great about being able to play the mechas from anime series. The OGs (except for the RPG game) were pretty good too.

        Shin
  2. Better luck next year, Unicorn and Madoka. At least this has finally convinced me to watch SG.

    And I guess it’s good that Madoka didn’t win EVERYTHING, just the ones it deserved.

    Da5id
  3. suprised that madoka didn’t take first for a lot of the categories, but is extremely content that Carnival Phantasm won in the OVA 😀
    Good work guys, being a great year for anime, and hope this year will be just as good if not exceeding~

    TypeMoonfag
    1. Hmmm as always some of best ovas/movies got very few votes and it just shows if not bloged many people dont even know about them

      While I m a bit suprised that FREEZING did so bad with all the battels and girls while IS that had harem all over the place and no real ending or something like that

      What realy suprised me was amount of votes for Gundam unicorn as I didnt even see people talking about it that much and all those mecha shows taking 3 of movies 5 while SRW: OG got almost no votes

      For top 3 it realy was no suprise ahhh and Madoka didnt win ( cry;) )

      laaa
    2. Just to correct part about IS I wanted to say it realy was disapointment for me after such a nice start and set up there was zero story development no real goal for serries I mean first 5 eps they had new females joining and some flashy battels but nothing at all realy after that what would make show worth for a vote

      laaa
  4. Thanks for the work in choosing and yay for Steins;Gate on both sides. Also I’m kinda surprised at how much you mentioned Star Driver. I’d dropped it because of the sheer over the topness but I guess I’ll try it again. (Especially since it was mentioned in the best plot twist)

    HakumeiJin
    1. Yeah, I actually started 1-2 times but never watched more than 2-3 eps, also due to all those negative comments. Might have also to do with the fact that many ppl were annoyed by the FABULOUS comments. Anyways, guess I’ll also have to give it another chance.

      boingman
  5. somehow disappointed in Favorite anime of the year 2011 , Steins;Gate….from the first episode i dropped it…it was very annoying

    i still think that STAR DRIVER was the BEST in all domains

    Sakana-chan
    1. Dropping Steins; Gate after the first episode is a HUGE mistake! While I do agree that the first episode is very confusing and kind of boring it only gets much much better afterwards. At least try to watch episode two… >.>

      A
    2. Agree big mistake. I actually dropped it to after watching 2 episodes so I do kind of understand where you’re coming from but I highly recommend that you continue. Steins;Gate really is one of those series that gets better and better the further along you go. And as for the first episode, while initially confusing it won’t be at the end.

      B
  6. I can’t believe Madoka lost. D:
    But I totally agree on STARDRIVER being Best Animation. HanaKana worked her ass off this year as well so she definitely deserved Best Female Seiyuu.
    ….

    Still disturbed that Madoka lost(sheesh!)….

    The Moondoggie
  7. I’ve tried to watch SG multiple times but always fell asleep. I must be doing something wrong. Oh well. Madoka won the year for me, so it’s okay for it to be second only to SG.

    Max
  8. Love these Best of the year Posts. Steins;Gate was indeedthe best series of the year (of those I have watched atleast). I have no words for it’s epicness, it was just epic.

    Also, all these posts about Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica made me kinda curious. I haven’t seen it, and I hear all these positive stories about it. I think I’ll watch it, not only out of curiosity, but also out of love for good animes.

    And let’s all pray for another epic story like Steins;Gate this year 🙂

    Shrubbery
  9. Ever since I found a Best Anime of the Year post on google in 2008, I’ve always looked forward to these. Except back then it was because I didn’t follow anime during its airing; I simply watched them when it had finished. Thus these were a good reference as to which one I wanted to watch.

    This year however I followed a lot of anime and it was a lot more interesting now that I can assert my own opinions as I read Divine’s. I also thought it was surprising Mawaru made top 5 in Reader’s Poll considering how when I read the comments on the posts it looked like there wasn’t much of an audience, but I guess the lurkers on Random are quite large in number.

    Anyways, Steins;Gate Ftw. El Psy Congroo. <– surprised I'm one of first to say this on the post considering how it was spammed all over the Stein posts.

    Pride
    1. Totally agreeing on you.

      To be fair, both are good. But I feel that it should have been GOSICK and not Dantalian who should be the Mystery pick. GOSICK feels a more proper mystery anime since it doesn’t have anything supernatural to it and every mystery is explainable. Also what gets me is that most of the mysteries Kujo and Victorique solved is actually linked to her own mystery. The ending is a bit rushed though and its weird how Victorique was able to get to Kujo’s home all by herself half around the world.

      The Moondoggie
    2. I think GOSCIK lost because… the character called “Kazuya Kujo” is a complete stupid, almost verging on the idiotic. Also has a really irritating personality… For everything else Gosick is very good.

      But...
    3. Great job blogging this year Divine :)). Hopefully next year will be as great!

      As for the best of anime 2011, I disagree with a lot of your personal choices.
      I think its cool that the four shows that I voted for were the top four picked readers choice anime though!

      Stuff
  10. I DEFINITELY need to start watching Steins;Gate now. It makes me wonder why I didn’t even try watching it yet…
    But overall, this year was awesome. Let’s hope 2011 will be just as good 😀

    Lucent
  11. It’s because I disagree with almost everything on this list.

    My opinon:

    Animation – Nichijou
    Art – Natsume Yujinchou San (yeah, animation quality is one thing, but art is something else; I think that RC forgot to add this category)
    Story – C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (kind of confusing, but still pretty interesting)
    Soundtrack – Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
    Opening – Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
    Ending Sequence – Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
    Song – Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~ (10 Years After) from Ano Hi Mita (you know the rest)
    Character – Natsume (Natsume Yujinchou San)
    Seyuu – Hiromi Konno (as Hakase in Nichijou)
    Action – C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
    Romance – WORKING’!!
    Drama – Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
    Sci-Fi – C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
    Horror/Thriller – Deadman Wonderland
    Mystery/Detective – Kamisama no Memochou
    Comedy – WORKING’!!
    Romantic Comedy – WORKING’!!
    Slice of Life – Usagi Drop
    Fan Service – Freezing
    Most Underappreciated – Natsume Yujinchou San
    Biggest Disappointment – Shinryaku!? Ika Musume
    Exceeded Expectations – Freezing (it got a lot more than just fan service; great action scenes, interesting plot, nice characters. Overall, a really good surprise)
    Favorite Anime 2011 – Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai

    André
    1. well I ll just simply say most of those are very subjective
      as I think Madoka should take animation for all those crazy parts in witch realms
      as for songs its just presonal opinion
      I ll agree Mystery/Detective – Kamisama no Memochou and Fan Service – Freezing
      Seeing how much you gave to C proves you didnt saw other good shows or so still C was very original and fun

      laaa
      1. I’ve watched almost all anime series of 2011. From the main series, I think I’ve all watched all of them. I just think that C has a better story. Madoka, for example, I didn’t like. Actually, I consider it a pretty bad and generic show. But that is, of course, my opinion.

        André
      2. I think freezing was much better than I expected it to be. Hard to beat mayochiki which pretty much is simply a vehicle for fan service though. I mean the last episode doesn’t really even make sense in terms of development or finality with its Nakuru ironic moe. That said I think Mayo chiki was rather enjoyable to watch despite being mostly fanservice. I guess it is heralds the coming of fanservice animes similar to K-on’s moeblob.

        Shin
    2. For me, Biggest Disappointment is C. Great potential in premise, but they rushed it waaaaaaaay to much. Like Angel Beats, it would have been much better if spread over two cour.

      Da5id
    3. Gotta agree that Ika Musume was quite disappointing but Blood C was even worst.

      And for me, the anime that exceeded the expectations was Boku wa Tomodachi. Despite having a lot of fanservice “almost” all the characters were great and it was a pretty good show.

      Overall, 2011 was a great year for animes and so far my favorite.

      Linkark
    4. It’s funny how I’m being “negativated” here. Looks like people are thinking that I’m trying to compete with Divine by doing a different list.

      But no, I’m just doing what he suggested: “I’d love to hear what your favorites were”.

      Yeah, I just wrote what my favorites series of 2011 were. What’s the problem? Am I not supposed to do that? I cannot give my opinion? Why?

      LOL.

      André
      1. Don’t agree with a a huge list with dozens of categories is something more than expected. In a this kind of list everyone will usually disagree with many of the options. That’s what would happen in any list. Is this really a reason to negativate the post and make it disappear because of that? LOL.

        That happened people thought that was trying to compete with the original post from the blog.

        André
  12. That’s more subjective, i didn’t like Madoka that much, the characters were really anoying to me except HomuHomu.
    The MC Aka Madoka was so generic… Character development where? yesh…
    Thumbs down come to me.
    Too bad Takuto didn’t win anything, at least the “most fabulous” lolz, and Sugata the best outfit.

    Trombe
    1. For the record, Madoka has a better and more original story than Steins;Gate. I didn’t like SG one bit due to science fail. A show that has character development but lacks a good story is more fail than one that lacks character development but has an awesome story.

      For me, it’s not “who are you?” that’s important. It’s “how awesome can we make out of this right now?”

      The Moondoggie
      1. As i said, different kind of taste, Madoka’s ending was bullshit to me, and i’m not saying the anime by itself was horrible, i’m just saying it wans’t so epic, i’d give it a 80/100.
        I just think it’s really overrated. The story was fine but not awesome to me.

        As is said is more subjective, i watched both but i still preffer S;G, and i’m not saying is a masterpiece, i just enjoyed it a lot more than Madoka.

        And i think is impossible to explain scientifically the Time Travel, because it isn’t possible, even so S;G has some good and bad points.
        More about tastes.

        I voted for Kaiji but i guess just few people watched it. Dosuru Kaiji? Dosuru?
        Sawa Sawa

        Trombe
      2. Steins;Gate HAS a good story, but the story doesn’t equate to the science, which is where I think you’re a little jumbled. While the science propels it forward and is a plot point, the story itself is based around the negative effects of time-travel, something that is often and frequently glorified. The D-Mails were the part of the story that involved science, but the science BEHIND it isn’t important. What’s important is the butterfly effect that they caused. Changing one small thing could change your entire world. How far would you go to save someone you love (to take a page from Heavy Rain) is a fantastic way to summarize a theme that I, just personally, found in the story.
        I absolutely loved both shows, and it was incredibly hard to choose between them. Madoka does come out on top for story, but that doesn’t undermine Steins;Gate’s either. It’s about a lot more than just pseudo-science.

        staticology
    2. What I loved about Madoka was how compelling it is. I remember having a semi-freakout when each episode ended. I would actually refresh pages waiting for subs and surf forums for spoiler simply because I wanted to know what happened next. The wait for the last two episodes felt incredibly long compared to others shows hiatuses.

      That’s what made Madoka for me, not to cute lolis, the bizarre visuals or the grimdark atmosphere but just how it kept me interested throughout its run. If anyone asked me why I loved Madoka, I would just say that it genuinely made me want to watch more.

      Also it made me want to strangle a cute fluffy critter for being a prick and not because it was annoying or had a voice that made my ears bleed. Katou did a great job voicing Kyubey and making him sound both creepy and cute.

      fragb85
      1. LOLZ. I think everyone would agree that Kyubey’s “U Mad” attitude and that he never did tell the whole truth when recruiting magical girls is what made him the most hateful magical sidekick ever. The fact that the magical girls are…
        Show Spoiler ▼

        .. is what got me the most.

        The Moondoggie
  13. The fabulousness in this post is off the charts.

    Anyway, awesome picks Divine, I approve of all of those. Here’s to another year of awesome shows. Also, you’ve done an incredible job keeping this site up for another year, Thank you.

    Nhelraios
      1. That small small animation sequence in UNGO’s ED is Oh-So-Jaw-Dropping. I still refuse to close that tab in my browser, lol.

        Espada, Steins;Gate’s OP is my favorite this year too! First time in my life I watch a complete series and don’t skip a single time the OP…That song really got me pumped up for some mad scientist adventures…

        Of course I think SG’s OP is much better than Divine’s choice, but that is from my personal judgement. I haven’t even watched the C3 C Cube show (and I won’t), but of course I respect your choice Divine.

        I can, however, keep talking how good SG’s OP is…It’s just that I loved how there weren’t any flashy, absurd scenarios with explosions to make it more interesting, but instead arranged a very clever montage with lots of images used throughout the show. They make the viewer start speculating while watching this, and build up more hype to see what’s going to happen next.

        And you just gotta love dat song’s beat…

        Justinnnnnn
  14. I am a bit surprised that Stein’s;gate managed to beat Madoka, but I think there are several reasons for that:
    1) People watch the first episode of Madoka, decide that it’s too much for a mahou shoujou anime for their liking, and dropped it after the first episode. Only those who hung around until episode 3 would have experienced the impact of the twist at the very end. Stein’s;Gate on the other hand would have attracted more people earlier.
    2) The break in the middle (due to the tsunami…though whether the studio was behind schedule is a different story) lessened the impact of the last two episodes. I’m glad I rewatched the series the few days leading up to the finale.
    2) A lot of people feel it is over rated (which I can understand why).

    I am surprised at AnoHana ranked so highly, though it was one of my top 5 picks of the year. From my impression of the comments in the blog for AnoHana, a lot of people left comments regarding plot holes and issues with the series, and how forced the ending was.

    Idolm@ster being ranked relatively low at 17 was also a bit of a surprise, though like Madoka, I think a lot of people dropped it after the first few episodes thinking it’s just another moeblob anime, where else the juice of the series really only came in the second half of the season.

    And as usual, comedies don’t do too well in this poll, but it is nice to see Boku Tomodachi, Nichijou and Working!! top the list for comedies 🙂

    Taiakun
    1. By the way, I know it is very difficult to pick OP of the year as there are so many. My pick would have been either Deadman Wonderland or Mirai Nikki’s OP (I’m a fan of crazy OP), with Working!! as an honourable mention.

      My ED pick would have been between Madoka’s “Magia” or AnoHana’s “Secret Base”.

      Taiakun
      1. You are judging the OP’s/ED’s based on the effect and meaning the series gives to them not necessarily the enjoyment of the animation sequence itself. Though I do tend to argue that they are intertwined but I will leave that out of this as I am only explaining my understanding of Divine’s logic.

        Mirai Nikki’s OP is not up for consideration this year as it will be continuing into 2012 and will thus be up for consideration in 2012.

        Magia, aside from the immense sense of despair it gives, is not necessarily an entertaining piece to watch as it is fairly basic with Madoka walking past her friends and eventually running towards a false hope only to be trapped in the eye of the Mask of Mephistopheles. Why you love it is its implications from the series it is related to.

        KoroshiyaKi
      2. KoroshiyaKi, an OP and ED must match the anime somehow. The more the song matches the show’s theme, the better.

        That said Yuki Kajiura and team(Kalafina) has always been outstanding performers.

        The Moondoggie
      3. I am not saying that Divine’s pick is wrong. I’m just stating what my picks would be and why.

        Regarding those which I have selected, I judged it purely on what ED or OP I would sit and watch through even single time, not only on the song itself. I was actually disappointed when I listened to Madoka’s ED song without the animation as it didn’t have that desperation feel to it. AnoHana’s ED animation, though also simple, combined well with the song as well to help create a bittersweet feel to it.

        Taiakun
      4. I think that the OP/ED are best when they reinforce the mood of the show.

        Sometimes, as in Beelzebub’s ED3, only part of the show is focused on. That one works well because by this time, Kunieda is critical to the show and it does a great job, both visually and musically, of reinforcing the warm and fuzzies around her. And I think that song is worth listening to on its own. It’s great. But having said that, the OP1 and especially ED1 from that show also deserve mention. I dislike any of the other OPs and the second ED, so I would play these while muting the actual OP/ED. It just creates a better mood in which to enjoy the show. Now I typically play both ED1 and ED3 when each episode ends.

        Also, in terms of effectively and righteously representing its show, the OP for Denpa Onna also deserves some attention. While the show changed course after flight was first achieved, those first few episodes were madness. And that song and that video was perfect to prepare me for the show each week. From the first beats of the drum and the chanting chorus, through its out of left field lyrics and their maniacal, almost ludicrous delivery, it was a great, unconventional OP for an unconventional story.

        Mockman
    2. I realy felt that this year lacked those super good outstanding shows and I my self could actually pick only madoka as my top other shows where good but not something that hit me or filled me with some emotions
      and you made some good points there

      laaa
    3. 1) People watch the first episode of Madoka, decide that it’s too much for a mahou shoujou anime for their liking, and dropped it after the first episode. Only those who hung around until episode 3 would have experienced the impact of the twist at the very end. Stein’s;Gate on the other hand would have attracted more people earlier.

      People should have been clued in by the OP and the ED. When your OP is sad and the ED is dark, this ain’t your usual Mahou Shoujo anime.

      The Moondoggie
      1. I would like to remind you that Madoka’s ED was not shown until the end of the 3rd episode. Though it’s ending theme was played out in a slower version at the beginning of the show it was not necessarily implicated as the ending theme song until the later episode made it clear.

        KoroshiyaKi
    4. In an answer to your original 3 reasons stated I believe you need to add on a 4th reason, that being time. Because we are unable to time travel (unlike our venerable protagonists accordingly) we are unable to recapture the exact feelings we felt at the time of airing and completion. A simple explanation could be that Madoka has had a gap of three seasons where as Steins;Gate has only had a gap of one. The feelings injected are thus much closer and we can remember them better than those that are almost a year away.

      KoroshiyaKi
      1. I had thought about that, but considering that we were able to choose 5 series, I’m sure those who really liked Madoka would’ve had it in their top 5 at least, even though it was so long ago. Also judging by the comments from the voting post, a lot of people were strongly against Madoka.

        Taiakun
      1. How can someone say that episode 1 was boring is beyond me. I thought it was amazing with its premise and freaking confusing cliffhanger. It’s what got me so interested in what would turn out to be my favorite anime of all time.

        Still, you’re not the first one I hear saying that, so there must be a reason and I’m probably a weird exception or something.

        Madoka is close behind though, and I loved it too. I never thought 2011 would make me change my Top 5 twice.

        As for the poll results, I mostly agree with it. Just take out Ano Hana and put Tiger & Bunny there, and perhaps drop Mawararu Penguindrum (which I haven’t watched yet, for Tegami Bachi: Reverse) and there’s my Top 5 of 2011.

        Dusk252
  15. Thank you guys for putting this together. It’s really a great way to bring back memories of the anime we watched at the beginning of this year.

    Personal opinion but I strongly believe Natsume Yuujin chou deserved the Most Under-appreciated XD lol

    Other than that go Madoka 😀

    Corn
  16. Great post, and agreeable picks, too. I’m glad to see that IS and songs like Cross Over get hearty mentions. It was also nice to see Carnival Phantasm winning on the Reader’s Choice. It’s been quite an enjoyable watch.

    I thought that for the foreign audiences, The iDOLM@STER was pretty unappreciated, but it’s pretty hard to argue against Ikoku.

    Anyhow, I hope 2012 is another successful year.

    Agility
  17. This is a list I can really get behind, all of the Star Driver love in particular. Couldn’t agree more about the music. It’s also really encouraging to see the merits of Dantalian listed – there’s another show that could have been Most Underrated. Which isn’t to say Ikoku Meiru is undeserving, 2011 was one amazing year!

    coolpianoman
  18. Thanks for putting this whole compilation together. I love this as it always gives me ideas on what good series I missed out on. That said, I’m definitely going to check out TIGER & BUNNY, IDOLM@STER, and STAR DRIVER.

    Glad to see Steins;Gate coming out on top. It’s definitely one of my top favourites now.

    Kentaiyoshimi
  19. I have pretty much the exact same selections for favorites, so I’ll only mention the differences:

    Song: Immoralist – Yui Horie (Dragon Crisis! OP)
    Romance: Mashiro Iro (then again, I never saw Kimi ni Todoke or II)
    Slice of Life: Usagi Drop

    Overall, this has been an absolutely banner year for anime.

    After watching Madoka Magica at the very beginning of the year, I thought was for sure it was going to take anime of the year.

    And then next season bought us Steins;Gate, and that absolutely blew me away with it’s character depth and deft integration of sci-fi, character development, mystery and romance.

    There were so many absolutely amazing shows this year, looking back, it’s really hard to believe. I’ve seen enough above average content this year to reset my definition of ‘average’. There was something strong in just about every category this year, which is a surprise in itself. I can only hope 2012 will be just as good, if not better.

    And as 2011 comes to a close, I just want to say thank you, writers of RC, and especially thank you Divine.

    Delwack
  20. It’s a pity TIGER & BUNNY wasn’t covered on the site, but I guess it couldn’t be helped

    Glad that Steins;Gate was well regarded, and STAR DRIVER for that matter. Honestly thought Madoka was going to run away with it this year (which wouldn’t have been a problem mind you)

    Little miffed that Azazel-san was so low in the poll, lower than some – imo – horrific stuff. But I guess people like air trombones more than fecal matter – It’s.. only natural

    Pepper
    1. THIS. I too wish there would have been more coverage. But I’m glad it made it into the reader’s top 10 despite that.

      Also agree re Azazel. But not all that surprised either since I doubt a lot of people would have been inclined to check it out.

  21. mhm…i just realised that there wasn’t a single anime this season which really got my attenion ._. kinda sad isn’t it? o.O nevertheless, thank you Divine for the post

    Schmee
  22. Since Fate / Zero didn’t make it into this year’s list, Dantalian no Shoka is the sole anime I can look back and say I really enjoyed in 2011. I had hopes for some of the others, Star Driver, Fractale, AnoHana, but none of them panned out to my tastes. Unfortunately next season doesn’t look to be much better from the preview. Maybe I’ve just worn myself out on anime, who knows. Regardless, I found it to be a pretty disappointing year.

    Monks
  23. Personally, I find Hanazawa Kana highly overrated.

    I’m also a little surprised that Kyubei wasn’t even in the honorable mentions for best character.
    No surprise that Blood-C won biggest disappointment.

  24. I absolutely agree on Divine’s comment on Blood-C. I mean, half way through the series, I had no idea what was going on. From then on till the final two episodes, I had nothing but speculation on what I think was actually going on.

    It made me wonder what sort of appeal the writers were actually aiming for. Is it the fact of making the viewers think suppose to be entertaining? Or were they actually lacking plot material to begin with and instead, throw in bucket loads of carnage to keep the audience amused?

  25. XD I actually dropped steins gate… Because at the first few eps it was too slow for me… And perhaps I hyped it up too much for myself… After reading this, No doubt I will marathon it once I have time.. Let’s hope I enjoy this massive gem that I seems to have thrown down the drain

    n0216332
  26. C³’s opening was very well done. The first time I began to watch it, I thought,
    this is going to be some cheesy fansub “thing”. But it surprised and captivated me
    with its tender elegance.

    Nichijō did really well the 2nd half, but the 1st had no continuity to it. I thought
    the panning ending was very well done, too, each with their own song. Someone mentioned
    that they were different school songs.

    Dragon Crisis would’ve made some list, interesting concept but lost steam. I really liked
    Astarotte no Omocha! and the ED theme was the funniest I’ve ever heard (once I saw the translation)!
    How do they get these girls to sing these lyrics is amazing! – and it’s so sweetly sung!

    Looking back, I can see some series should’ve been two cour (Level E) as their material
    seemed to warrant it and some should’ve been 1 cour (Gosick, Nichijō).

    All in all, a fun year! Thank you Divine!

    mac65
  27. hmmm kind of disappointed

    Story? Dark?
    Plot Twist?
    Death – in Madoka Magica, the tears that were shed felt a lot more real in comparison.
    Biggest Disappointment? – i thought it was Deadman Wonderland

    Espada
  28. Thank you, and thank you again writers of RamdomC for this year’s posts.

    Tiger & Bunny’s my favorite of the year, nice plot & music, great characters, cool action scenes, heartwarming moments, powersuits etc etc… They took everything I like and put it together, even metaphysically. I mean, it had the kind of execution I love: 26 episodes and not a single wasted one, not a single wasted character, a small finale at the half of the show, episodic format to develop the side characters, an eyecatch etc.

    The only flaw (besides the rarely weird animation, but I wouldn’t really call it a flaw as it doesn’t hinder the story and that’s the most important for me) I can think of is how Bunny was acting like a whiny teenage girl the first 5 episodes or so. It didn’t bother me at all because anyone could tell he would get better; I found the show to be very predictable at times but I noticed recently that if something is predictable, it just mean that it’s well written and logical. (And my favorite favorite types of shows are the one that are totally unpredictable yet you know it’s well written and stuff makes sense, stuff like Baccano! and Kara no Kyoukai)

    Also, I’d like to add, my biggest disappointment is Hanasaku Iroha, am I the only one who remember like yesterday when everyone was comparing it to AnoHana and arguing which was best? (and even some were prematurely arguing which is best of 2011) Lemme say what I think now that both shows ended, AnoHana turned rather okay (didn’t like it much), I won’t inquire further as it’s gonna be long and this is is not my blog, but Hanasaku Iroha was a total disaster, especially the 2nd half, and it seems like I’m not the only one thinking that. I’m still shocked at how they used homurice as a drama-igniting factor for the school festival arc… Actually I saw it coming but I didn’t want to believe it, I was hoping for something better, and I laughed out loud when they actually did it… *facepalm*

    Before all my rage and complaining takes the better of me I’ll just say that it’s a pity how Progressive Animation Works’ 10th anniversary project turned out. I often say that I watch only what I like, well this year Hanasaku Iroha was the exception, I think I kept watching only so I could rage properly after watching it all, and because I was watching it with my sis(who shares the same opinion on it)

    Rockmanshii
  29. Some excellent choices and an enjoyable write-up. I’m very picky when it comes to time travel, but Steins;Gate won me over and is one of my favourite shows of all time.

    Reflect
  30. YEEEES STEINS;GATE!!! This is my favourite list this year! Well done, only sad that Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni! didn’t win romantic comedy. To be honest and don’t get me wrong here Divine. The fact that Baka to Test compared to IS, sure the mechs and the comedy was great. Only thing is I couldn’t help the fact of the whole WTF with Minami and Aki right at the end. It all of a sudden got so serious yet right at the end we got the biggest LOL. Surprisingly IS didn’t give off that much of a comedic sense but that’s just me. I thought Baka deserved that spot but again that’s just my opinion. Mechs I know is your favourite, but you don’t really get to see something like Baka to Test come around these days and make you laugh yet alone involve the entire school body in it’s show, that’s insane. Either way, it was a fantastic show IS and I’d love to see a sequel :). Again, GO STEINS;GATE BABY!

    “El Psy Congroo!”

    Jason Isenberg
  31. I’m a bit surprised in some of your choices, but at least you were sincere, not influenced at popularity ( who still remember Star Driver? ).
    Umm too bad that you didn’t post opinions other RC’s writers. I’m curious which anime, characters they would choose 😀

    1. I spent over a week on this post just mulling over the categories and skimming over the series I had in mind for each, so it wasn’t something that I wanted to try and coordinate into a team post. If the other writers have given it the same amount of thought, they’re more than welcome to chime in with their choices.

    2. Agreed as well. It would be nice to hear other blogger’s favorites. A single liner simply mentioning who faved what under its related category just below Honorable mentions is good enough, even without opinions. And if they doesn’t have any favorite over particular category or just interested, they can just leave it.

      For example it can go like this:

      Favorite Anime 2011
      (Div’s long yet awesome Steins Gate opinion here bla bla bla)
      Honorable mentions : Madoka, etc
      Takaii’s pick : Madoka
      Prooof’s pick : –
      G Enzo’s pick : S;G

      An
  32. Another enjoyable write up to read! Looking forward to a great 2012.

    Thanks for giving Moshidora as many mentions as you did. I really enjoyed it and felt it was definitely one of the most under appreciated shows of the season.

    aria_san
  33. Considering how much Divine took part in the S;G discussions in the comments, I can’t say that I am surprised by his choice. 🙂 I am very happy to see that the readers agree.
    2010 had FMA: Brotherhood, 2011 had S;G. Looking forward to 2012 and hoping that Fate/Zero won’t be without competition.

    boingman
      1. Didn’t know that they’ll finally make that Muv-Luv anime everybody was waiting for, but according to google it’s just a spinoff? I never played the high praised Muv-Luv Alternative, mainly due to the standard Muv-Luv Extra that I would need to play before that, but I read that it’s supposed to be an excellent game.

        boingman
      2. Muv-Luv Alternative is one of the best VN’s I’ve played. Probably the most epic in nature and very immersive. Muv-Luv Extra was rather cliche imo although I believe it was best VN of the year a decade ago or something. Muv-Luv Unlimited is worth playing before Alternative so that you can understand it better. Extra/Unlimited really pale in comparison to Alternative though I think you wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate Alt unless you play them first.

        If you play a lot of VN, I think you should definitely take some time to play it.

        Shin
  34. Congrats to all the winners! glad some of my favorite animes are in!
    which are STAR DRIVER, Steins Gate, Dantalian no Shoka, IS Infinite Stratos
    and Mayo Chiki!!

    Awesome job to all the writers as well who work hard to review all these
    animes and hope to see you guys all thess 2012 animes!! More Power to ya all! ^^,

    maguru07
  35. I’m not particularly fond of your wording when you say “those who weren’t willing to expand their horizons likely missed out”. You said similar things in the 2010 post too, and it almost sounds like an attack at the casual viewers in your reader base. It almost has a passive aggressive guilt-trippy ring to it. Dude, if I had the time to watch 72 anime series a year, that would certainly be nice, but do those of us with jobs and careers that have to abide by different priorities deserve to be called unwilling to expand our horizons? I considered it a light year for me, only watching about 12 series. Some were up my usual alley, some were not. But I also use these Best Of posts to watch more stuff retrospectively, since I don’t always have the time and memory to devote to watching 5 or even 10 TV shows concurrently. Some of my all-time faves were shows that I only watched because you and/or Omni raved about it in the Best Of posts. I’m not mad or offended, and I will obviously continue to read your blog every week, but the necessities and reasons for such comments aren’t clear to me.

    Eclipse
    1. I think you’re reading into it too much. I was merely encouraging people to give more shows the benefit of the doubt, especially if they’re outside of the usual genres they watch. It wasn’t meant to imply that people should watch more shows than they have time for.

      1. Actually, you don’t need that much time to watch 72 series a year. If you watch one or two episodes a day, you’re gonna end up with 30 to 60 series completed by the end of the year.

        All you need to 30 free minutes a day. Everyone has that, c’mon.

        André
  36. Good post Divine, a lot your choice and honorable mention is what i expected. But there are some genre that i wish should be on top from others.

    Ruka Urushibara from steins;gate should get the Trap award in my opinion.

    Jonz
  37. I’m a bit surprised Usagi Drop made it to the top. It was a good show but IMO, there were more remarkable shows.

    Otherwise I think this list is quite fair. Though, it was obvious that Steins;Gate would make it to the top. And I’m saying this because it is placed pretty high on the top lists on MyAnimeList and Anime News Network.

    Anyway, thank you for keeping this site alive. It’s a wonderful site. Looking forward to another fantastic anime year!

    Stereoman
  38. I like the choices made here but I would have thought that the opening for Ano Hana, Aoi Shiori, would have at least made it to honorable mentions. To me it was the best song of the year followed by See visionS from Index II. As for the favorite anime, the choices were obvious between Steins;Gate or Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. I’m now thinking of trying out some of the anime that I missed here and great job on this post. 🙂

    Artard4321
  39. I’m glade TIGER & BUNNY and STAR DRIVER made the top 10.

    My voes these year were
    Madoka Magica
    Mawaru Penguindrum
    TIGER & BUNNY
    STAR DRIVER
    Natsume Yujinchou San (<- Natsume Yujinchou as a whole I love but can see why it was not voted being the last 3/4 of an epic run)

    Admittedly I have not watched Steins;Gate but consider how slow this winter season will be for me it gives me some to catch up n a few series I missed along with Anohana and Infinite Stratos.

    Ani_BEE
  40. With Madoka had 400 votes in difference with Steins Gate, maybe not that many people actually watch it compared to Steins Gate. Yes, could be the magical girl genre isn’t that attractive to viewers compared to a sci-fi show. I wonder what is the top choice for Japanese fans though.

    Now I need to watch Steins Gate after my final exam is over now that it is one of the best animes.

    Another Gal
    1. idk about that. Madoka is all over the place. Forums, tumblr, LJ, you name it. They seem pretty even in popularity outside of Japan.

      Madoka would definitely win in Japan, though.

      lol
    2. Yes, could be the magical girl genre isn’t that attractive to viewers compared to a sci-fi show. I wonder what is the top choice for Japanese fans though.

      Madoka didn’t even follow the proper magical girl genre route. I don’t know how people dismissed this one as a magical girl genre when it’s a deconstruction/reconstruction like Evangelion and Bokurano.

      The Moondoggie
      1. The thing with deconstruction shows is that they do start with the genre that they’re going to deconstruct. Some people could really easily dismiss a show as generic with that. I admit that I almost did it with Bokurano but still gave it a chance and wasn’t disappointed. Don’t get me wrong though I love Madoka as much as the next guy (heck I’m even a Madokaist lol) but you can’t blame people that dismiss Madoka as the fluffy-type mahou shoujo because of ep1.

        Raine
      2. @Raine

        Still, they should have been clued on it due to the OP and ED. I mean, the first time I saw episode 1 I could already feel something wasn’t right. Also the fact that the Magical Quartet includes the master of despair, Gen Urobuchi.

        The Moondoggie
      3. I think it’s because if you want to recommend Madoka to someone you have to say ‘magical girl’ which would make some people turn off a little. Steins Gate IMO (as I don’t watch the show yet) gives me that shounen vibe that can easily attract even casual viewers at a first glance. So this could be the case that Steins Gate have more casual viewers who are not hyped about the show but like it enough to make it Top 5. The votes came from many lurkers after all.

        I mean I only watch Madoka after I read the hype around it. When it came out I didn’t give a spare glance to Madoka when I read it is a magical girl series coming from the Nanoha director. And I never knew Gen Urobuchi before that, so imagine my surprise when I watch it….

        Another Gal
    3. I highly doubt that Madoka lost to Steins;Gate because not enough people watched it. It was more hyped than S;G which slowly won viewers over. Madoka was seen and rated by about 30% more viewers on both mal and ann.

      Shin
    4. Both series are actually strong in very similar ways. You get emotionally attached to the characters, and their predicament. Things get worse before they get better. You have to go down a confusing and increasingly emotionally sad/stressful rabbit hole. Both show the consequences of poorly thought out actions. Both had emotionally charged romance problems. Both were exceptionally well paced.

      Steins;gate simply had more time to develop it’s characters and plot in the end. The characters of steins;gate ultimately had more interactions, which gave viewers more insight into the characters and motives, and gave the characters more depth. That’s why I believe S;G is the better show.

      Still, I voted for both as top 5, because seriously, they are both are truly excellent shows.

      Delwack
    5. also remember how steins gate is more recent than madoka. and then there were some guys like the first commentator in the poll that didnt vote for madoka because it was a rival for steins gate even though he liked the anime.
      for me, madoka magica is still the best. plus there are rather overzealous fans here who simply downvote people who voted for madoka even though they did vote for steins gate.

      amado
      1. I believe both S;G and Madoka were the best for 2011.

        Both actually were the best that Nitro+ can brought to Anime (Okay, I don’t know if Madoka had other people from Nitro+ that support the production,but Urobuchi is one of the head writers in Nitro+ and had some similar inspiration for both Madoka and S;G). I loved both and if S;G wasn’t there, Madoka will win by a large margin against other series, I guess.

        The only downfall that made Madoka can’t win the battle against S;G I guess were :
        1. S;G is newer.
        2. S;G is longer.
        3. While both are awesome all-rounder in almost all aspects,
        Madoka didn’t had (almost) any romance at all. (Okay, Madoka has Sayaka x Kyouko, I guess, but it can’t be compared with the long prepared and developed Kurisu x Okabe).

        That made the S;G topping Madoka should be a fair happenings, I guess.

        zeroyuki92
    1. Agreed. Close followers of sakuga know Nichijou’s animation quality for its worth. And Index II is far from having any recommendation for its animation. Only a few cuts or so but otherwise its below average. Compare it to this.

      It should have replaced Index II for its most of the time insipid inconsistent quality. If it’s one thing that Index is abundant with its QUALITY. A simple dialog scene in Nichijou has more expression than one lame mouth flapping scene in Index II. That’s the only thing I couldn’t agree with in the list.

      I mean sure Index II has awesome digital backgrounds and stuff, but since this is animation department that doesn’t even count.

      Another that deserves honorable mention in this category is Usagi Drop and probably Yuruyuri.

      In any case I respect Divine’s choice but this is just me sharing an opinion. 🙂

      megalith
  41. That top 5 is really accurate imo, though I wasn’t the biggest Usagi Drop fan (good, but I’m not a huge slice of life fan).

    I’m insanely happy to see Steins;Gate win both picks as best anime of the year, since it’s probably my favourite anime ever.
    What makes me possibly even happier due to the shock of it is the fact that Star Driver won so many awards and actually cracked top 8 in the top 10 list! I thought that was series was absolutely awesome, yet people were constantly making snide comments about it. Plus I thought people would forget about it since it ended early this year. Really great to see it get some recognition, it deserves it. Also nice to see PenguinDrum, AnoHana, T&B and Madoka rank high. Really can’t agree with Iroha, though. Ugh that show…

    Also, thanks for posting this on my birthday… made it even better. <3

    lol
  42. Guess I’m one of the people surprised that Madoka didn’t win the top. I mean there was no other anime this year that can compare to the buzz that Madoka created.

    As for my personal opinion… I liked Steins Gate too but I just like Madoka more. Madoka is probably the most enjoyable experience so far for me with the long years I’ve been watching anime. Had loads of fun speculating and analyzing scenes over the net.

    Overall I think 2011 is one of the best years so far. Sure it had a lot of crappy shows(as is with the previous years) but the good ones are really good.

    MartianMage
    1. I really enjoyed both series too. I think that I was hoping for a little bit more from Madoka though. I think that it really could have ventured a bit further into the Mahou Shoujo genre if it was a bit longer. I felt the ending was a bit predictable and convenient although it was still well done. I liked Madoka’s art and music whereas S;G made great use of development, pacing, fanservice, repetition to make the ending perfect.

      Shin
  43. I’m a little sad Mawaru Penguindrum didn’t get anything, personally I loved it, but I know a lot of people (understandably) didn’t like it that much. However, I am glad to see Star Driver get some love. I was also under the impression that it wasn’t well liked. And after this, I may just have to watch Steins;Gate to see what all this hype is about.

    Absurd Apple
  44. Monochrome ALL TEH WAY

    I would’ve put Nichijou in Comedy though.

    And Hideyoshi will ALWAYS be on top of my Trap category.

    Other than that, I agree with everything else surprisingly.

    Rakkyo
  45. Tuturu~ *claps* I have been waiting for this post >..< but well tastes are tastes…

    I think it was a good year, much better than I have expected. I hope this 2012 to be the same or better!! and Thank you!!.

    Miharu~
    1. This is what I thought as well. I really like Star driver’s soundtrack (love the 4 maidens’ songs), but Mawaru Penguindrum had all those wonderful endings by Triple-H and that lovely piano piece that came up during the dramatic scenes, plus other great stuff *o* It could’ve got an honorable metnion at least 🙁

      Blux
  46. Probably one of the harder years to pick a favorite anime but I have to agree with S;G. Madoka gets special props for blowing me away because it was nothing like I expected it to be and contained just as many WTF moments as S;G. Divine get some rest and thanks for the write up.

    Jin
  47. Woah, I’m pretty surprised Idolmaster didn’t even get an honorable mention in your ‘exceeded expectations’ category. After all, it went from being one of the shows you were sure you weren’t going to watch, to something that became your top pick in some other categories.

    Smuglord
    1. Interesting how you can say that when I linked my list of completed series not once, but twice in the post and Usagi Drop is clearly among them.

      Also, I consider it more drama than slice of life and I gave it an honorable mention there. (In the write-up itself too mind you.)

  48. I am a bit confused by your song choices although I understand it is a matter of personal preference. I haven’t watched Star Driver so I can’t offer a fair judgement. Since you are giving it so much praise, I think I’ll watch a couple and see if I like it.

    I think some other good songs: F/Z OP/ED, AnoHana’s Secret base cover , S;G’s Kanako; Madoka’s ClariS, Gosick’s Komine Lisa.

    It is surprising how much I agree with most of your picks though. Although for me I think Char (IS) was a much better pick than Subaru. I have never very much liked the reverse trap archetype but Char won me over with her refreshing interactions with Ichika. Baka to Test’s Hideyoshi probably deserves best trap the most though. Subaru is slightly hard for me to understand cause I think most of her appeal comes from her girl side rather than her dressing up as a guy which I didn’t feel like added anything. I guess this is from a guy’s perspective though.

    Shin
    1. For soundtrack and songs, it’s mostly about how memorable they are to me, so if you haven’t seen STAR DRIVER, you naturally won’t have the same view on them as I do. I’m not picking the music based on how good the compositions are since I’m no musician.

  49. Very good job Divine, I find myself agreeing with you on numerous choices. I would have placed Hanasaku above iDOLM@STER, and that was a hard choice because I love them both so much; both of them watched with my daughter. Both were strong contenders in so many aspects, but for me, “I’ll be waiting” stole my breathe away. iDOL had many, many great moments, but the emotional narrative of Hanasaku was what kept me coming back, it was about family, and it will be one of my fondest memories of this year. Yeah, yeah, it’s personal.

    skylion
  50. Satisfied! Thanks Divine… I would like to ask what is your average watching-rate for anime shows per year? I’m simply impressed of how many shows you’ve mentioned. :]

    Nemuri
    1. It’s been ramping up in recent years, but the year before I started blogging at Random Curiosity (i.e. 2007) was when I got back into anime full swing and watched anywhere from 20 to 30 shows per season. On average it’s probably closer to 23 or so, but since some shows span multiple seasons and others don’t end in a given year, the number of completed series is less than four times that.

  51. i’m surprised that natsume isn’t up there! but i can see why people didn’t favour it as much as the other two..
    this current season is friggen awesome already tho. let’s hope it does better in 2012 🙂

    grey
  52. This year’s results are particularly hard to swallow.

    While it is disappointing for me that Magica lost by a wide margin, at least it is second place. And Anohana got third place, which is rare for a non-scifi to get such a high rank. In fact, among the top 20 spots, nearly two third are scifi/fantasy. So that really speaks for its quality. As for Stein;Gate, I am not qualified to comment because I dropped the series after the first 5 minutes of the first episode out of boredom.

    But a original production like Hoshi is ranked tenth in the OVA category, while a highly commercialized product like Carnival Phantasm is ranked number one. This just made me really sad to see an original, well-thought-out story losing by such an extent to a package of gags designed to squeeze the last bit of leftover values from three popular animes.

    Matroid
  53. I’m afraid I’m one of the people who totally forgot about Star Driver’s existence. I would have voted for it!!! Either way, I think your list is pretty neat. Miyano Mamoru is definitely my favorite male seiyuu as well, especially as Taichi in Chihayafuru.

    PS. I’m still flabbergasted that you watched over 72 shows this year! I mostly quit after the first episode if it doesn’t get me interested by then.

    skylaris
  54. I think there could have been a better picture used to represent SRW OGIN instead of the Exbein docking with AM Gunner. Perhaps the SRX firing the HTB cannon, or Alteisen?

    Suppa Tenko
      1. I find that Falken is just a more specialized version of the Weiss. You actually have to put the two, Arado and Seolla, together every time to maximize Falken’s usefulness. Max Arado’s Mobility, Armor and HP than his weapons, that Ball and Chain secret weapon will suffice. Use Seolla as ranged backup and upgrade all her weapons.

        Uhh… we’re talking about the game, right?

        The Moondoggie
  55. I admit I didn’t watch many animes this year, but I have to say I was rather underwhelmed by C3 getting the “best” OP. I haven’t watched the series, so I don’t know if it has some deep significance that brilliantly foreshadows the plot or something, but I found it rather bland and repetitive. They kept recycling the same hands/feet, which mostly just reminded me of the dance from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi (the actual movements seem rather similar, like the hip-cocking and holding out the hands and pointing and stuff — I’m not just saying that because they both have dancing). I found the shot of the sky with the title rather old/cliche/overdone, as well as the random rain scene (especially with the happy/smiley light bit at the end) and I feel like I’ve seen things like the pan up the blue girl’s flowing hair at the beginning used a lot. Also, the running in the forest reminded me inexplicably of Inuyasha… Though I admit it’s a pretty good OP for what I presume to be some sort of harem anime? I did like the use of traditional instruments/music/sound.

    Like I said, I didn’t watch many animes at all this year but my favorite was AnoHana’s. I watched it every single time instead of skipping over it (like I do for basically every other anime I watch). And I marathon’d the episodes, rather than watching weekly, so actually I watched it repeatedly in a short period of time and still didn’t get tired of it. I thought the clever timing of the animation with the music (such as the beginning with the switching between the past/current and Menma with the flower, and then it was pretty good transitioning between each character, though I really liked the rocket’s timing, as well as the last bit at the end where everyone and then Menma disappears). I thought it was wonderful how it was all timed to match the music, which I often feel doesn’t really coordinate with the animation in a lot of other OPs. I also thought the juxtaposition of the past/current characters was well done.

    Haha, sorry about the random rant. I have too much time on my hands during winter break. I don’t know why I decided to harp on the OP choice….

    Bee
  56. Ah, now I’m gonna have to watch Madoka Magica and finish Stein’s Gate. I stayed away from MM since I thought it would be the typical Magical Girl series but I think I’ll go watch it now and see what all these twists are.
    Kotetsu of T&B is definitely one of my faves but he’s only my second after Aoi Toori from Horizon. His character was just too hilarious and refreshing.

    Cross
  57. Can agree with most of the top picks, but was truly saddened not to see hide nor hair of Wandering Son/Houro Musuko mentioned, not even in honorable mentions for “underappreciated” or “drama”. One of the best anime of the year, and yet it slipped under so many radars and was upstaged by Yamakan’s theatrics over Fractale.

    akari_house
  58. This is my first time leaving a comment on this site but I just wanted to give the editors/ bloggers/ everyone who manages this amazing space on the vast web a huge round of applause/ praise/ thanks. I love checking this site out to see what new things are out, keeping up with the few anime series I do watch, and any other rambles. However, I most MOST MOST look forward to the previews of the seasons and these amazing end of year reviews. I do not have the patience to watch many series in real time (as in waiting a week to see the next episode) so I love to read posts like this and then go check out the animes later.
    Thank you thank you thank you for all of your hard work and effort!!!!
    Chelsfofo =)

    Chelsfofo
    1. You have to keep in mind that for those two categories, it’s highly dependent on what your expectations are coming into a series. Ben-To turned out very similar to how I imagined it would, so it didn’t exceed or disappoint my expectations.

  59. I hope to see Chihayafuru here next year 🙂
    Anyway, not surprised why Madoka won those awards, they really deserved it.
    Hmmmm, I might pick up Steins;Gate seeing how it’s anime of the year plus everyone seems to be raving about it. I had my reservations about it since Chaos; Head was related…. And that was the worst anime I ever watched….. Ok maybe after Touko Gettan, but still.

    zani
  60. Can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that “Yakusoku” was ultimately bested, but glad to see MARiA’s “COLOR” getting a special mention. It’s a song that has been in my playlist ever since Freezing premiered.
    Great compilation as usual Divine, can’t say there were a lot of surprises since we were lucky enough to pick your brain in IRC. 2011 has been a pretty good year for animes and my favorites are Fate/Zero, Steins;Gate, The IDOLM@STER, Anohana, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Working!!, Tiger & Bunny, Kami-sama Dolls, Usagi Drop, Moshidora, LEVEL E, Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon and Infinite Stratos.

    Seishun Otoko
    1. Agree that Nichijou was funny but there are several moments that can leave you blank… I think inconsistencies on the comedic part is a minus on this one. (TBH I’m a nichijou fan myself)

      BaKaYaRou
  61. I’m really glad for Star Driver. It was an anime which I thought was the best of 2011, but everyone’s subjected to their own opinion ^^ it’s good to see that it has landed its place in several categories here and even made it for honourable mentions showing that it is indeed well-crafted out. I’m also really thankful for Tiger and Bunny’s production ahs it has one of the better character developments by my take. I agree with divine’s pick for the position of character. Kotetsu is indeed a character of whom i never expected to be one of the most impactful, and here we have a leading father figure stealing the limelight ^^

    Looking forward to this year’s new intake of awesome~

    Primus Lune
  62. Oh please!! Stein’s Gate was good (possibly third best of the year for me behind Usagi Drop and Penguindrum), but don’t go sugarcoating it with “We’ll be lucky if we see another show of this caliber anytime soon” crap!! It still doesn’t come close to the “top-tier” stuff like Paranoia Agent, Mushishi, Baccano….etc.

    Litho
  63. 72 shows in a year… to put that into perspective that’s finishing 1.33 series a week which is at the very least around four and a half hours for a single cour series. Not to mention that blogging probably takes more time than to watch the show itself. Now that’s dedication!

    Also thank you for the hard work this year RC crew, this site definitely makes my day because of you all.

    1. Maybe you should read the post before you comment so you won’t look dumb.

      OVA/Movies are only considered for the Favorite OVA/Movie category, otherwise their higher budgets would get my picks for most of the production categories. I, like many readers, did hold Gundam Unicorn in high regard this past year.

      1. Sayonara no Tsubasa is a better movie because Gundam Unicorn is… well its only 2 of the 6 episodes. Not saying either of them suck because Macross and Unicorn are both awesome. The reason why Carnival got more votes is because mecha doesn’t appeal to everyone.

        Suppa Tenko
  64. So this marks the end of 2011. What a great year for anime.
    I’m really happy & surprise that CARNIVAL PHANTASM Won the OVA/Movie category. The opening alone makes it one of the most memorable OVA I watched.
    And as to the reader’s choice for favorite Anime of 2011, I’m really glad that Steins;Gate won. When it comes to my enjoyment of watching the show, Steins;Gate really outshines Madoka (WTF Ending) and Anohana (Anaru & Popo are the only likable chars).

    And it’s also nice to see a lot of series that I enjoy,
    Infinite Stratos (Char!!)
    The iDOLM@STER (Azusa!!)
    Kimi ni Todoke (DAT 3-4 episode of confession)
    Dantailan no Shoka and Ikoku Meiro no Croisée (Cuz, Dalian and Yume are one of the most adorable characters of 2011 including Kobato, Utao and Victorica also the loli Ilya and Rin) And Hanazawa Kana!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  65. Thanks for the wonderful post. I only have real disagreements with two areas – one, the inclusion of IS for almost any award (awful show, particularly in the second half) and you largely leaving out Mawaru Penguindrum. Your readers voted it fourth, but you included it in just one honorable mention category – I didn’t read your episodic posts, but I take it you weren’t impressed?

  66. First of all, many thanks for another year of hard work by Divine and the other RC writers. Oddly enough, I didn’t get around to watching Madoka and Steins Gate until last month. What a ride that has been! The best part about these year end reviews is that it shows me some things I missed out on. So now to aquire Tiger & Bunny, Dantalian and Gosick. This years picks were the most in-synch with mine ever, which is very pleasing. Please keep up the wonderful work. Remember, there are a lot of lurkers out there that depend on this site.

    Kalliente
  67. I really like Baka Test S2 and Steins;Gate. Star Driver was good too, though the ending wasn’t really good enough for me. Just my opinion though, no need to flame me 🙁

    As for 2012, I’m pretty sure Guilty Crown will get one.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    The Story You Don't Know
  68. Kinda surprised that “Rock Over Japan!” didn’t get a mention for the Song category. It was definitely one of the most memorable, in any case.

    SEIZON SENRYAKUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

    Stranger
  69. Hmm…2011 is a very good anime year for me, let’s see, all in all I’ve completed about 31 series that started on January 2011, not included though are the series that started in 2010 and was carried over to 2011.

    In the previous reader’s choice poll Favorite Anime 2011 I’ve voted for the following series:

    1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (personal rating is 9.8/10) – I guess at this point it is no secret to many people I know how I like this show so much (yeah, I buy Madoka’s figma and are planning to but all of them).

    As for my full review:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    2. Mashiroiro Symphony (8.8/10) – watching this series is like a refresh from all the other harem shows I’ve ever watched. I almost dropped this series after the not so good impression I have on its first episode. Thank goodness I gave this a chance and after completing this series, I felt this is one of the better harem-like themed story I’ve ever watched. The male lead is a good one with a clear focus to what he really likes, the girls on the other hand, while typical of harem, they have their own unique personality that made everyone of them likeable. Also a bonus for this series is it’s nice and consistent animation (also the eye animation is very good), music is good too especially the ED theme.

    3. Usagi Drop (9.0/10) – This series is very similar to Aishiteruze Baby except that Usagi Drop a more polished one. The series is predominantly slice of life about a man in his early 30’s, single whose life has changed completely after he accepted the responsibility of taking care of Rin. The story mostly revolves on how the two characters adjusted with the situation they are in which by the way was beautiful and heartwarming.

    4. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (8.0/10) – This is one prime example where SHAFT made good use of their style. This anime is a mix of sci-fi goodness and good comedy. The entire town seems to be an alien freak with its people talking about alien stuff like its the talk of the entire town. In addition, the girls sparkle! I say I enjoy all the talk and the visual style that accompany it.

    5. Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Tsukunai (8.4/10) – A story of people in search of other people they can call as “friends”, for the most part the series focuses on activities that will help them have friends, technically they are all friends, its just that they haven’t realize it yet. Animation is generally good with lots of good looking characters, music is also memorable, especially the wackiness of the OP, good replay value with tons of comedic moments.

  70. Just like I thought!

    “January 1, 2012 at 9:35 pmIchigomaru

    Reply | link Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    too bad I couldn’t vote ;/
    It’s a big expectation time
    and there are big shows on the wheel,
    like steins gate, anohana, madoka
    Anyway I believe that the big champion will be steins gate, not that I like it the most but it’s interesting, diferent and the charactes have a unique charisma.
    I’m waiting for result =)”

    Anyway I think that “COLOR” by MARiA (FREEZING OP) was way better than “Cross Over” by 9nine (STAR DRIVER ED1), but that is just a question of opinion. The rest of the post I couldn’t agree more.

    Divine and the others RandomC writters, congrats for this hard work this year 😉
    This post mean the end of 2011 year for this blog.
    I hope you keep with RandomC, because here is where I learned a lot about anime, where I shared opinion and this is my main reference for new seasons.
    I mean, I love this blog a lot, as much as A LOT of people do.
    Thanks for all and happy new year !

    Ichigomaru
  71. Great list!

    I’m surprised so little people voted for Kore Wa Zombie Desu ka as one of their 5 favorites. That anime was so random and made me laugh harder than most others. It had a charm that no other series had.

    Steins Gate is still my favorite anime of this year.

    YanDaMan263
  72. Wow, Steins;Gate really came out on top. It was a close call this year- there were a number of spectacular shows. I think I have about half that coincided with yours, and half that I differed on. I haven’t watched shows like Star Driver or Tiger & Bunny yet though, which I should really get around to.
    You didn’t include Ruka for Trap? Even though he’s technically a guy, despite the other world lines?
    Put my list under the spoiler, if anyone’s interested! Surprised to not see more lists.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    staticology
  73. no toradora ova? it was released end of december right? does it even count? wish i could’ve watched more to better compare, but why people like madoka i dont know why…did shock me but the characters seemed so bland, except for the blue haired girl. glad to see stein’s gate came out on top, i agree it’s hard to find shows like it. i am suprised how index has dropped off the face of the earth. i don’t think 2011 overall was a great year though, hope 2012 has better surprises.

    fishies
  74. Since we’re on the topic of “Best Of…”, here’s the “Top 10 Female Seiyuu of 2011” list from Megumi Magazine Feb issue, as voted by its readers. I have also included a list of the characters they’ve portrayed this year, in case some of you don’t know who they are.

    1) Hanazawa Kana
    (Ro-Kyu-Bu!: Minato Tomoka, Infinite Stratos: Dunois Charlotte, Steins;Gate: Shiina Mayuri, Fate/Prototype)

    2) Kitamura Eri
    (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Miki Sayaka, Ao no Exorcist: Kamiki Izumo, Working’!! – Todoroki Yachiyo)

    3) Yuuki Aoi
    (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Kaname Madoka, A Channel: Ichii Tooru, Gosick: de Blois Victorique)

    4) Mizuki Nana
    (Blood-C: Kisaragi Saya, Dog Days: Elmar Ricotta)

    5) Itou Kanae
    (Hanasaku Iroha: Matsumae Ohana, Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II: Elsie, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: Kashiwazaki Sena)

    6) Iguchi Yuka
    (Tamayura Hitotose: Norie Okazaki, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: Takayama Maria, Mayo Chiki!: Konoe Subaru)

    7) Kayano Ai
    (Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai: Honma Meiko, Guilty Crown: Yuzuriha Inori, SKET Dance: Saotome Roman)

    8) Asami Imai
    (Kiss x Sis: Yuuzuki Kiryuu, Steins;Gate: Makise Kurisu, The iDOLM@STER: Kisaragi Chihaya)

    9) Tamura Yukari
    (Steins;Gate: Amane Suzuha, Astarotte no Omocha!: Touhara Asuha, Ben-To: Sawagi Kyou)

    10) Toyosaki Aki
    (Beelzebub: Kunieda Aoi, Mawaru Penguindrum: Oginome Momoka, UN-GO: Inga, Fate/Prototype)

    Hope you guys see your favorite voice actresses on the list! =D

    Dusk
  75. Good reading, thanks for sharing your opinions Divine! My top 3 were identical to yours and I was also glad to see the Star Driver love from you and the reader polls. Its finale comments were plagued with negativity so I thought most people had tossed it aside. It certainly missed being much better than it could have by spending so little time elaborating on the most interesting parts of the story, but it was still a great watch and re-watch.

    I’ll have to check out the S7 OST. I don’t particularly remember it standing out while watching it either, and the ridiculousness that the story turned out to be probably didn’t help emphasize any of its good points either.

    Oh yea, glad to see Dantalian get your mystery pick also. Its lack of overarching plot turned a lot of people off, but I personally enjoyed every episode of it and preferred it to Gosick.

    A good anime year in my book and looking forward to exploring the new one alongside RC again!

    Xin
  76. Was Star Driver really that good? I watched the first 3 episodes and I kind of just left it hanging. I don’t put much emphasis on animation quality and I’m not really a mecha fan, so if you put aside those things, is it still worth a watch?

    aria
  77. Probably more a case of a one-round voting that made S;G win. Those that voted for AnoHana and MawaruPenguin would most likely have voted for Madoka rather than S;G.

    If you make it several rounds, (or just calculate it with drop-down boxes where you can rank different animes between eachother, the result would most likely have been different) and achieve true majority, >50%, I think Madoka would have won. Reflects what the majority thinks better. There’s a reason you need >50% support in national elections.

    Tenbatsu
  78. i just finished watching the whole Steins;Gate again and omfg it really made it as #1!!! omg omg! as so many fans of S;G here i’m so proud of it!
    A fantastic year of anime; and all thanks for RC crew for making it even better!
    El Psy Congroo!

    minhgurluver
  79. Although I was hoping MSMM to win best anime, I’m happy that Steins; Gate won. In fact, after placing my vote, I realized “sh*t! I forgot to vote for Steins Gate!” Well done Steins; Gate!

    David Herbert
  80. FYI Kusunoki Yukimura from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is NOT a guy/trap – the author has clarified that she is a she. A confusion of gender methinks.

    It is explicated in the light novel so in judging from an anime-only aspect it may not be relevant, but just a point to note.

    emnr
  81. nichijou>>>level E

    Nichijou also had great animation. I can’t believe it was 12th in the polls. It’s definitely one of my top 5 anime.

    It was a good year for comedy anime anyway 🙂

    dxb_blackwolf
  82. Yep, pretty damn spot-on. Agreed with Divine on nearly all counts. I’m trying to understand the hype around Penguin drum, though, since I didn’t watch it. I hear it’s like Madoka (but less sadistic, if that makes any sense whatsoever).

    hoiut
  83. I watched the entire Steins;Gate yesterday, I think watching the entire series in a day has somehow left my heart bleeding, though I can’t figure out why.

    It’s strange anime can feel more real than real life, but maybe that is the point it has proven itself to be a truly great story. I am ashamed for not watching it before, then I could’ve joined the crowd and said “HAI!!!” when the Steins;Gate’s voice actress cast came to FF18 and asked whether we seen their show.

    thenewhorde
  84. Thanks Divine and all the bloggers in Random Curiosity, without you this year wouln´t have been half as good as it was. I would´ve given the Break Blade Movies a little more credit, but oh well Macross deserved the gold. I hope this years brings more awsome anime.

    haseo0408
  85. Epic year for Anime 🙂

    Steins;Gate have the best screenplay and awesome plot twist.

    Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an incredible Anti-MahouShojo anime.

    but…

    Mawaru PenguinDrum is the most original show of the year with his all symbolism and theories of happiness.

    In my personal opinion

    DarKamu
  86. Best opening of the year was One Piece’s 14th opening. Nothing else comes close. Of course unless you follow the series you wouldn’t understand the emotional decade-spanning undertones of the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0oWRRGO_FI&hd=1

    But the 2nd opening of Toaru Majutsu no Index is the best opening this year of shows that this blog followed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRnbHAUgoMc&hd=1

    The OP voted in this article is borrrrring. The Beelzebub ending however is spot on, I also found that the best.

    Mako
  87. as expected, Steins gate won. i’m glad about that. madoka has got a lot of hate because it’s said to be overrated so i think it lost to steins;gate. stein’s gate was excellent to me honestly but i find madoka more gripping so it deserves as best story.

    but where’s mah fate;zero???! it’s my favorite this year Dx maybe tied to madoka and slightly ahead of S;G.

    i agree with you divine about the best film. <<33 Carnival phantasm was very good too. XD

    AiRiSuDaiSuKi
    1. ..and personally i don’t agree with the best plot twist. S;G managed to really shock the hell outta me several times madoka did so imo, it should have been steins;gate.

      just a suggestion, i wouldn’t mind you putting best couple of the year though. XDDD

      AiRiSuDaiSuKi
  88. I haven’t seen many of the series above, and I’m sure most of these are entirely deserving, but I’m absolutely shocked that Rukako isn’t even mentioned under the trap category. When I watched the “…but he’s a guy.” scene Steins;Gate I thought to myself, “I guarantee this will win the “It’s a Trap!” award of 2011. I suppose I’ll have to watch those other series to make an accurate judgement…
    In any case, Steins;Gate is up there with Angel Beats and a few others for my favorite anime of all time.
    El Psy Congroo!!!

    Phoenix

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *