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Author Topic: 2011: A Year in Review  (Read 5980 times)

Offline Sorrow-kun

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2011: A Year in Review
« on: January 03, 2012, 06:53:54 AM »
The seventh iteration of our yearly tradition is up for all to see, and we're interested in knowing what you thought of our list, and our choices for favourite anime.  Agree?  Disagree?  What were your picks?  Feel free to post comments here.

Offline HirakuNoShadow

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2012, 07:53:55 AM »
It's a surprise that Working'!! didn't make it to the nominees for this year, what a pity. If I had to choose my favourite for anime that aired this year, it's a difficult choice between Usagi Drop or Steins;Gate. For now, my vote will go to the latter - while there were times (or characters, rather) that were flawed or not as enjoyable as the others, but there were equally unforgettable episodes from the show which blew me away.

In any case, I think I've spoiled myself too much last year with too many brilliant titles that didn't air in 2011, which include: Gankutsuou, Mushishi, Tsuiokuhen, Aria, Infinite Ryvius, Redline, etc.

Offline AC

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2012, 08:24:18 AM »
Yeah, such editorials are bound to raise questions. To be honest, I think it's a tad odd to see Ojisan no Lamp there when I personally consider the Young Animator Training Project as one whole title. Plus, I would actually replace Level-E with Nichijou instead; the latter tickles me more than the former even if the humor is very Japanese. Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles so what can you do about it.

I'm kinda surprised that I'm the only one who has picked Usagi Drop as Best of 2011.

Offline Jack Rav

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2012, 09:01:58 AM »
I agree with AC, I'd put Nichijou (8/10) above Working'!! (7) as well. As much as I loved the first season (8/10 - fixed) (and did the second, don't get me wrong), it is frustrating to look back and see no development whatsoever. I think the cast of Working'!! is amongst the most balanced I've experienced in an anime (in that, my gods, there are a roughly equal number of M/F amongst the main cast), and love both Yamada and Satou, but it really needs to do something else if it is to last another season (which I hope it does). Not to mention, Nichijou had me in stitches anyway, so it was always going to be tough to beat.

As for my mentions of the year, there was no doubt in my mind as to my favourite of the Year - Steins;Gate. I've said already just how much I enjoyed this series in the specific series thread, but with a perfect 10 from me it would take some beating. Although Mawaru Penguindrum (8/9, still undecided) had its (electrifying) moments, I evidently just didn't connect to the themes being explored as well as perhaps others here did. Don't get me wrong, I liked what it did, (despite my misgivings about the final episode, the music choice was astounding at parts, and I loved the art/animation) but perhaps in contrast to those who loved it the final episode left me a bit wanting. I'm not sure what I was expecting (who, indeed, could have known what to expect?), though... Usagi Drop (7) also didn't come close to S;G. As much as I loved watching Rin the show, it was the understated nature of the show that prevented it going any higher than 'this is nice'. This is also why Wondering Son (5) didn't have that impact with me (although, I did drop it early so perhaps it ramps it up later...), and Ikoku Meiro (7).

It would seem I like me a bit of drama action, but then I go and rate Hanasaku and Ano Hana relatively low (both weak-ish 7s, too). Figures. (Clannad: After Story was awesome though!)

Offline Fumoffu!!

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 11:57:04 AM »
I already said quite a bit on the 5 way action article, but since then I've thought about it some more.

One thing I still think, is that I will be much more forgiving of this season of Working'!! if the next season delivers, to the point of putting it in my top 5 series this year. Secondly, I found myself in the position of not liking any of the big three this year enough so that I can say "My god, I love this show so much". I  need to rewatch Steins;Gate at some point, as well as Madoka (again), because I feel that I failed to fully appreciate them first time round. I should also rewatch Penguindrum, but I never will, because I don't care for symbolism, I just care about what's in front of me, and that was mediocre.

When it comes to comparing Nichijou with Working'!!, I think I'd have to say Nichijou was better as well. Whilst I like the characters more in Working'!!, and think it's more consistent, I laughed hardest when watching Nichijou. The funniest scenes in Nichijou had me laughing harder than the funniest scenes in any other show. I will rewatch it many a time in the future.

I also think Tiger & Bunny is underrated, and thank Shinmaru for giving it credit where it deserves. I wasn't overly fond of the start, but I grew to love it.

In the end, I'm just going to admit I didn't have a favourite. The Top 5 would contain: Steins;Gate, Usagi Drop, Nichijou, Madoka and Working'!!. They all had slight issue preventing me from fully enjoying them (An iffy end and slightly weak characters for Madoka, inconsistency in Nichijou, a lack of resolution in Working'!!, Usagi Drop was just a bit plain and Steins;Gate broke physics), but they were all very good in my opinion.

In any case, I think I've spoiled myself too much last year with too many brilliant titles that didn't air in 2011

Too true, my list includes: Gankutsuou, Mushishi, Aria, "Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku", Honey and Clover, ef - a tale of memories, Kaiba, Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid (which is one of my favourite series ever), Higurashi, The Tatami Galaxy and Kaiji S1. It's been a good year...

Offline leokiko.

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2012, 12:06:10 PM »
LAST year was a awesome year to be an anime fan. Great reviews as always, i'm glad i found out about Nihon Review last year(not so long ago, haha) ^^.

Offline Shinmaru

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2012, 02:14:23 PM »
The show I was most iffy on was AnoHana. It's basically a parody of itself at the end with all the wailing and shouting; it's so unbearable. If someone wanted to stick the second season of Working or even Nichijou on the list instead of that mess, I would have been perfectly fine with it, even having not seen most of either show. Even Hanasaku Iroha, actually. Wasn't a huge fan of that, but it has many more genuine moments than AnoHana, even with all the goofiness (which are the parts I actually enjoyed for the most part, haha).

But, hey, we're all going to have disagreements when doing this by committee. It's a good list.

Offline Flash Sword Irene

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2012, 03:33:51 PM »
Honestly, I didn't expect Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa to be mentioned at all.  That was quite the welcome surprise even if most people didn't like the way the story unfolded.  (Imo, I actually thought it was fine with the way they handled it).

Personally, I didn't enjoy the Black Lagoon OVA enough to agree with it.  But, I can understand why it is in there.  Other then that, I can't argue with the rest and it looks like I have some catching up to do.  (Mainly Penguindrum).

At the end of the day, I think you guys got it right again even with saying that this year is one of the better years in anime.  Even going into this year, there are still some pretty good ongoing material from last year that deserve a mention for their excellent quality.  (Chihayafuru for me mostly).

Offline TypicalIdiotFan

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2012, 03:48:24 PM »
Since I did not participate n the YIR this year, I figure I'll chime in here.

Best of the Best: 2011
Puella Magi Madoka Magica - It's not just Shinbo fanboy love that drives this one.  His usual charms are present, but there is a legitimate intensity driven by not only the plot but the way the visuals are presented.  It's almost as if Shinbo not only deconstructed the magical girl genre, but his own tricks of the trade as well.  The typical head-tilts, the shadows, lines, and shapes are joined by a much rougher and sinister edge.  It's kind of ironic, actually.  The same skills he was doing to create a sort of "dark" comedy effect to certain characters in Zetsubo Sensei were used here in the same way to a completely different effect.  I rate anime in several ways, but fan participation is one of the most overlooked but most important parts of determining how involving your story is.  Week in and week out there were Magica threads, theories, wank fests, whine fests, praises, hatreds, and all sorts of other giddy and frenetic fan activity.  Believe it or not, there are very few anime that can drive that kind of attention.

You'll note in my other picks that fan involvement is just as rampant, if not higher.

Usagi Drop - Heartwarming, down to earth, and easily identifiable, Usagi Drop doesn't do anything fantastic because that's not what life is.  Sure, the situation at the beginning was weird for us westerners, and it wasn't exactly greatly accepted by the family members in the show either, but beyond that?  Some people have never experienced what it is like to raise a child, including myself.  So, instead, I identified more with the plight of a man thrust into a situation that he just wasn't ready for.  He took it upon himself, so there's no one else to blame, and never once did he complain about it.  There is a certain amount of admiration you have to have for Daikichi as not only a responsible man of society, but later as a father figure who has become indispensable to a young girl.  Thankfully, and I use that term with some reservation because some folks disagree, the anime ended before the manga's timeskip which resulted in a rather... unexpected and not at all appropriate ending.  I say "not appropriate" because it just doesn't fit the narrative.  It feels forced, but that's just my opinion.  Anyway, the anime itself is superb in all facets.  I can't find a weakness to Usagi Drop anywhere.

Steins: Gate - I did not watch this one, but I have to mention it because it is a consensus pick for nomination as best of the year.  I remember the hand-wringing at the beginning of the season over Steins; Gate because of the problems with Chaos; Head.  I do not say this because I think that exceeding low expectation is what drives the fanbase to love this show, because that only would apply after the first few episodes or so.  No, I mention it because from that point on, the fan participation never let up.  Unlike Guilty Crown where nobody just wants to admit the damned thing is an entertaining train wreck, Steins; Gate got everybody hooked and glued to each episode.  I don't remember hearing anybody threatening to drop this at any time.  And, hell, if that's not enough, Dr. Pepper probably got a huge boost in sales.  Never underestimate the research of advertising agencies!  It's almost as if companies that are trying for product placement in anime KNOW the anime is going to be good before it comes out.  Code Geass had Pizza Hut, Steins; Gate has Dr. Pepper.  It's got a track record, folks!  Keep your eyes open for more.

Mawaru Penguindrum - There is very little that I can say here that hasn't already been said, but to expound on my theme of fan involvement, this one might be the king of 2011.  Maybe it was the visual symbolism or the abstract dialogue, but we sure were searching for meaning in this one every step of the way.  The best part of Penguindrum, and people in the Penguindrum thread wanted me to state why I think this anime is awesome (here you go faggots), is everytime we thought we had something figured out, Ikuhara added another dimension.  The evolving narrative, starting with a simple story of two brothers and one sister, completely was turned on its ear by the end.  But it wasn't done in a clumsy or unbelievable way.  Indeed, the way the show is given to you, every new layer or wrinkle added to the already complicated calculation that was Kanba, Shouma, and Himari was enlightening.  I don't know how many times a new secret was revealed where my eyes widened in surprise and my mouth uttered a single, but drawn out "oh".  By the end I realized that what we'd been given was the television show equivalent of a matryoshka doll.  It was brilliant.

And that's also why it's my anime of 2011.  The rest of the good anime, Ano Hana, Tiger & Bunny, Level E, Wandering Son, and the worst excuse for pandering to lolicons this side of Kodomo no Jiikan my personal favorite Astarotte no Omocha, all have their own merits, but none of them quite pushed the envelope as high as the above shows did, both in their own merits and in fan fervor.  For example, Ano Hana did drive a lot of attention, but there's just too much else wrong with it.  Level E was highly entertaining, but largely (and sadly) ignored.  And I just through Wandering Son was boring.

Inversely, there was a great anime left off the list due to SOME PEOPLE HAVING NO ****ING TASTE IN ANIME AT ALL the staff agreeing that it just wasn't quite there either, and that's Moshidora.  I'll agree that Moshidora wasn't the best anime of 2011, but I loved it and still think it deserves a mention here and a watch by anybody who wants to see a good drama, sports or otherwise, done right.  However, I said this was an inverse to my theory of fan involvement, and I say that because Moshidora sadly started really late due to the tragic earthquake and tsunami that hit the Sendai area in Japan early in the year, so there just was never a fanbase that materialized for it.  I don't know if it would have gotten more attention if it started on time, but there is something to be said for it.  A lot of anime fans have a "watch list", and their list was full by the time Moshidroa aired.  So maybe my theory is bullshit, or maybe Moshidora, due to extenuating circumstances, is the exception to the rule.

I'm looking to 2012 with excitement.  2010 was a suckfest dog of a year and 2011 was just as equally awesome.  I hope that they can keep it up, but just not having another shitty year will work for me.
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Offline Fumoffu!!

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2012, 04:26:57 PM »
Mawaru Penguindrum - There is very little that I can say here that hasn't already been said, but to expound on my theme of fan involvement, this one might be the king of 2011.  Maybe it was the visual symbolism or the abstract dialogue, but we sure were searching for meaning in this one every step of the way.  The best part of Penguindrum, and people in the Penguindrum thread wanted me to state why I think this anime is awesome (here you go faggots), is everytime we thought we had something figured out, Ikuhara added another dimension.  The evolving narrative, starting with a simple story of two brothers and one sister, completely was turned on its ear by the end.  But it wasn't done in a clumsy or unbelievable way.  Indeed, the way the show is given to you, every new layer or wrinkle added to the already complicated calculation that was Kanba, Shouma, and Himari was enlightening.  I don't know how many times a new secret was revealed where my eyes widened in surprise and my mouth uttered a single, but drawn out "oh".  By the end I realized that what we'd been given was the television show equivalent of a matryoshka doll.  It was brilliant.

...

Inversely, there was a great anime left off the list due to SOME PEOPLE HAVING NO ****ING TASTE IN ANIME AT ALL the staff agreeing that it just wasn't quite there either, and that's Moshidora.  I'll agree that Moshidora wasn't the best anime of 2011, but I loved it and still think it deserves a mention here and a watch by anybody who wants to see a good drama, sports or otherwise, done right.

Well, that's basically confirming my idea of why Penguindrum totally failed to knock me down. I'm not the sort of person to infer meaning from stuff, I can do it if I want, I did it well enough way back when I was doing English, but I don't get enjoyment from it, so the adoration you and sorrow-kun had for the symbolism was something I didn't appreciate. I get what you say about the revelations because I liked those myself, as well as the complexity, however for some reason at a particular point in the anime I just stopped caring about the characters, and that's when I stop enjoying an anime so much. Anyway, thanks for the explanation.

Onto something we agree on, the good words you and sorrow-kun have said about Moshidora have implored me to watch it. I haven't completed it yet, but it seems to be a very good anime that I also think should have had a mention. Very odd concept though,

Offline Sorrow-kun

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2012, 05:58:26 PM »
TIF and myself were particularly keen to have Moshidora on the list, but there was too much resistance and we reached an impasse that could only be resolved by omitting it.  At that point, it didn't seem right to include it on the list because there wasn't any clear consensus about it from the staff and it couldn't possibly get in on the "made a big impact in fandom" clause because hardly anyone watched it (unfortunately).  There were a lot of very contentious choices that we debated about when trying to formulate the list.  Ano Hana was one (which we already brought up).  I thought it was decent, but not necessarily list-worthy, Shinmaru was very much against it, while AC, Ascaloth and Kylaran in particular were very much in favour of it.  Numbers pretty much won out there.

Arrietty was another one that was debated.  The first debate was whether it should be on the list at all because technically it's a 2010 release.  We decided that because movies that are released early in the year get an unfair advantage over ones that don't, because they get theatrical and DVD releases in the same year (which helps increase their exposure, particularly to Western audiences who don't exactly get to go to Japanese cinemas), that we should amend the rules so that movies with a 2011 DVD release date are also eligible.  Once we decided that Arrietty was eligible, the question was, was it worthy?  Kaikyaku and Kylaran were in support, but AC was very much against it.  On that count, he lost out.

Working'! was on the list for the longest time, but made way for Arrietty and Oji-san no Lamp (which we kinda decided needed more love and exposure, since hardly anyone has even heard of it).  My personal opinion is that the last three or so episodes weren't very good.  As Akira said in our recent podcast, it's tapped.  If they made another season, they'd need to resolve everything otherwise Working! wouldn't be getting the send off it deserved.  However, maybe it's time for the show to do something else, and make a new series about the webcomic characters.

Chihayafuru is eligible for next year's article.  Fate/Zero would have been, but we included it on this year's list (it will be eligible for "Best of 2012" if it happens to tickle one of our reviewer's fancy).  We thought about including Chihayafuru on this year's list, but there were so many 2011 series to talk about and the article might have become tl;dr if we didn't set an upper limit on the number of titles.  If Chihayafuru keeps up its current form, it'll be in next year's YIR.

I thought it was interesting when we did the podcast that opinion about anime of the year 2011 was split approximately evenly between Penguindrum and Steins;Gate.  And surprisingly, the same thing happened with the YIR article.  No one picked Madoka, which was curious as well.

Offline AC

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2012, 09:58:09 PM »
Okay, I don't know where else to write this so I might as well put it here since it's somewhat relevant: just finished (re)watching Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo, and this is what I think about it.

First things first: Shinkai Makoto apparently tries to incorporate Studio Ghibli elements into his movie. Cases in point: boy meets girl just like what happened in Spirited Away, and the anti-human story just like what happened in Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. This is something new for Shinkai, who has mostly done shows which are mostly sentimental and not plot-based, so I have to respect him for doing something very different. Perhaps that is the reason why many of my friends thought the movie was underwhelming (either that or, like they claim, perhaps they were giving Shinkai too much credit).

I would give this movie a weak 8/10. I'm more optimistic than my friends and commend an effort made by him, especially when it's clearly out of his comfort zone. I only have two issues: one deals with a jarring plot hole:

Spoiler for Hiden:
Can't understand where the whole Europa and battle chopper came from
and the other is the ending, which felt somewhat abrupt and loose. But does it deserve to be in the article? Pretty much, so the same reasons I've just mentioned. At least now, Shinkai can do and be known for someone who can do more than just draw pretty clouds ( '.')

Offline Shinmaru

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2012, 11:50:07 PM »
No one picked Madoka, which was curious as well.

I was really surprised by that, too. I'm not quite as high on Madoka as some, but I still think it's a good show, and I don't react like, "HUH WHA?!" to people who say it's the best of the year. I think that really speaks to the strength of the shows released in 2011 that something like Madoka doesn't even get a mention from one of us.

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2012, 12:52:25 AM »
The only reason why Level E was ignored by anime fans, especially male ones because they thought Level E was just another yaoi bait show. Who don't raise an eyebrow when seeing a nude bishounen on the promo poster except some curios yaoi fangirls? Even they disappointed that what they want to see wasn't actually there.

Offline TypicalIdiotFan

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Re: 2011: A Year in Review
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2012, 01:55:31 AM »
If you think about it, though, the idea of Prince Baka being mostly naked on the cover, setting folks up for a perceived quality to the show, is just another one of his great moments of trolling.  I think it's appropriate.  But I see your point.
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