AniBlogger Choice Anime Awards: My Top 12 Favourites of 2011

Unrelated pic... needs to be longer.
Getting my top 12 out is easy. It's true that the more anime you watch, the more picky you are when choosing the anime you rather watch then... you know, doing constructive stuff. I've only completed 30 series this year (including series I intend to complete, but have not finished airing), not counting the 19 series that I've dropped. After striking off the bad ones and voila! 15 series. I only need to remove 3. Here we go.

12. Shinryaku!? Ika-Musume

Ika-Musume exists to put a dumb smile on your face, and I'm ashamed that it has worked pretty well for me so far. It never has a compelling storyline or story direction to be proud of, but the simple concept worked well with the innocent/gullible nature of Ika-Musume to make this a extremely likable show. And let's not forget that mini-Ika is the epitome of cuteness.

11. Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!

Despite what the premises suggests, Mitsudomoe is comedy gold, and any blogger who gave the show a real chance would tell you that. Its production values are way below any recent anime series, but the solid jokes will never fail to keep you entertained. Seriously, I couldn't think of a funnier series than this. Mitsudomoe is so damn underrated.

I know I used this pic before. I'm sorry. I can't help it.
10. Carnival Phantasm

Carnival Phantasm, too, probably didn't get the attention it deserves, but it's largely due to the fact that you need knowledge of the Type-Moon franchises to understand and appreciate this. Still, Carnival Phantasm proved that a total parody/homage production can be wickedly entertaining as well. The interesting part is where the characters, with the original voice actors and all, took a jab at the more serious/disturbing tones in the respective stories. The production values are also surprisingly high for something that seemed unlikely to turn a profit, but no doubt Type-Moon fans would love the effort that they put into this. I don't know what Fate/Zero has to offer for (Dark) Saber, but I'm sure it doesn't anything as awesome as this pic.

9. Ao no Exorcist

I've always have a bone to pick with shounen titles. Despite following the manga of the big three (One Piece, Naruto, Bleach) for years, I couldn't get past a couple of their episodes without wincing in disgust, because they always had the problem of poor transition from manga to anime, a problem I often rant about in my blog. Even Fairy Tail, my current top manga, fails to correct this, and even with all the anticipation I had for the anime before it aired, I dropped it as early as the fourth episode.

Ao no Exorcist may not be as long as the other famous shounen titles, but the style and story is as close to them as it can get. And, lo and behold, its transition is way superior to that of the big three. While the transition is nowhere as good as, say, the To-Aru series or Sacred Blacksmith or Yozakura Quartet, this series has eliminated the biggest flaws I found in the shounen manga adaptation series. People, this is how a shounen anime should be enjoyed. No bombastic attack names that slow down time, no awkward flashbacks in the middle of a fight, no corny and inappropriate speeches, no characters stuck in awkward poses to match that of the manga. Some things should just stay on the paper.

8. Ikoku Meiro no Croiseé

Every slice-of-life comes with a certain aspect of moé that integrate with the genre and becomes its main selling point. In terms of Croiseé, the moé comes in the form of a little girl that's extremely earnest and honest, mature for her age, yet extremely vulnerable. This little girl is Yune, and she literally oozing enough moé to drive a show of a genre that usually takes a whole bunch of moéblobs to do the same. Croiseé scored less on the atmosphere compared to Aria or Tamayura, but that's because the show focuses on the character developments instead of the setting, which is... kind of unusual, but still very, very pleasant.

7. Working'!!

Honestly I might not have felt the same if I've not read the manga, because a lot of hate for the series due to the repeated jokes are... justified. I've mentioned this before, but the manga, probably due to it's 4-koma setup, makes it clear that the repeated jokes began differently, and is used mainly to lead to a bigger "joke of the chapter". I blame the director for not being able to portray that. Still, the series has been really entertaining, and the number of jokes that could spawn from these huge array of weirdo characters seemed endless.

6. Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam

The recent episode has become a bit of a drag, and honestly I'm not so sure about this series anymore. But still, Gonzo has played the steampunk adventure concept fairly well, and the world of Last Exile still seemed vast and full of surprises. Well, I really liked the first LE, and maybe some of that impressions carried over to allow this to be ranked so high.

5. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

I was surprised that Anohana made such a lasting impression in me. I was sure that the series would end up mediocre, because of the painfully slow pacing and what I thought would be a terribly rushed ending. To me, drama series like these are all about the endings, and Anohana had definitely one of the best endings I've ever seen. I usually hated those bittersweet endings, but this one simply stood out. And yes, I think I cried.

This pic is also recycled. But I just had to.
4. Yuruyuri

I'll probably get flamed for this one. Yuruyuri is a pretty unorthodox pick, considering that the animation is just average, the main cast of seiyuus are all newbs, and I didn't particularly like the main character Kyouko. Much like Mitsudomoe in this list, the comedy simply clicked with me; there were tons of hilarious moments, and yuri elements are but a bonus to the real value of the show.

3. Hidamari Sketch xSP

Hidasketch is one of my favourite series of all time, and being placed in the top 3 with just 2 episodes says a lot about how much I liked this show. Hidasketch is one of the first series that uses Shinbo's unique animation style, and after 3 seasons and a little more, there's no doubt that they've found the perfect formula to animate this show. In fact, the first season already made it to my top 3 list, and back then the animation quality is crap compared to OCD-level of perfection it has now. To me, Hidasketch and Aria represent what the whole slice-of-life genre should be like.

(I didn't really like the new girls, though)

2. Tiger & Bunny

The success of Tiger & Bunny is as much a surprise for me as it is for everyone else. I didn't expect to pick this up, too, and I only did because I was bored and gg was doing a Sunrise series. What seem like a channel for shameless product placement turn out to have a original concept with a simple, yet very likable story setup. I've got to credit the writers for this one; they took a very common storyline and decided that all the originality it needs are the concept of the hero business, and middle-aged characters. By using as little TV tropes as possible, it actually made it unique. Moderation is rare in this industry, and perhaps T&B has showed the virtues of it.

Anime of the year: Hanasaku Iroha

Hanasaku Iroha just doesn't get enough love. So far I've only seen a few bloggers list this in their top 12, but sadly none of them list HanaIro high up in their lists.

There isn't anything I haven't mentioned in my review, but I'll reiterate; HanaIro simply has a lot of heart. The characterization was pretty much perfect; it seemed to be the primary focus of the show, because of the lengths they had went to achieve it. They went right down to the smallest details to create the perfect atmosphere for every scene, and that itself sets HanaIro apart from other anime series. The series has many flaws, but in that one aspect is has outdone everyone else, and only very few series came close (Madoka is one). Maybe that only mattered a lot to me because I study film, but I want people to see that HanaIro is really something else. A new standard that studios should try to aim for.

P.S (Rant)

I know, I know... 4 titles probably deserves to appear on everyone's list. Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Steins;Gate, Mawaru Penguindrum and Fate/Zero, and I feel bad that I didn't include even one of them. First of all, I gave Steins;Gate and Fate/Zero a 1-episode test, and I thought that it would be better to marathon these instead of catching them every week (and I haven't got around to marathon S;G yet). I put Mawaru Penguindrum on hold after 8 episodes of blandness, and although I'm aware that it has picked up after that, I don't have enough interest to pick it back up. As for PM3... despite giving it a perfect score, I never quite agree with how it all ended, after the downward spiral all the way from episode 3. But does it matter? PM3 is pretty much guaranteed the Anime of the Year, and we all knew that months ago.