Following Kiddtic’s call for submissions of ani-bloggers’ top anime of 2011, I thought it would be a good idea to participate. While it may not be entirely fair to rank anime that haven’t finished airing yet, I think I’ve seen enough of them to make a call. My list will follow the original rules of ranking the top 3 per each season, followed by the best overall.
Winter 2011 (January – March)
3rd Place: Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
Unlike your typical harem anime, this series not only has a bunch of cute girls, but zombies, masou shoujos, vampire ninjas, necromancers, chainsaws, cross-dressing zombie masou shoujos with chainsaws, and Dyson air multipliers. Ridiculous and funny are the two words that best describe this series.
2nd Place: Kimi ni Todoke Season 2
A lot of romances make relationships that are too-perfect and lack any real emotion, but KnT2 knew how to deliver. The “d’aww” moments and the way it portrayed the complexities of teenage love made it more than just another love story.
1st Place: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
I don’t think there’s any explanation needed here. From beginning to end, Madoka kept me glued to the screen.
Spring 2011 (April – June)
3rd Place: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
The sparkly blue hair and annoyingly addictive opening song in Denpa Onna had me entranced.
The execution was near perfect in this series except for the ending, which I found to be a bit corny. Overall, I thought it was very emotional, and any anime that can tug at your heartstrings deserves some credit.
1st Place: Steins;Gate
Few anime manage to weave such a complex story without losing the viewer or forgetting vital information. Excellent planning, direction, voice acting, and production values all contributed to the series’ success. A captivating plot with just enough comedy to balance it out makes it one of the best anime of the year.
Summer 2011 (July – September)
3rd Place: Mayo Chiki
Ever since Love Hina, I’ve always enjoyed watching a few romantic comedies each year. Mayo Chiki was in my opinion, the best of them this year. While it did not have the conclusion I was hoping for, it was well-paced and the silliness was enough to make me laugh, but also believable enough (for anime) for some drama to develop.
2nd Place: Usagi Drop
To say that “family” anime are under-represented in anime is an understatement. Usagi Drop proves that you can get everyone interested in a series without fanservice, slapstick comedy, mechas, swords, or magic.
1st Place: Mawaru Penguindrum
I expected good things when I heard that the director of Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena was working on his first big anime since the 90′s, and so far I have not been disappointed. The amount of symbolism and references in this series is just absurd. From ancient Greek plays to holy texts and modern literature, not to mention throwbacks to Sailor Moon and Utena, the complexity of the story-telling is mind-boggling. I love anime that challenge you to think, and Penguindrum has certainly done that, though I think it has me beat.
Fall 2011 (October – December)
3rd Place: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
Hilarity around every corner plus really nice character designs make Haganai a joy to watch.
2nd Place: Fate/Zero
The dark atmosphere and high-quality action scenes are awesome *cue fanboy raving*, as expected from the prequel to the series that spawned the term “GAR”. Unfortunately, there’s far too much talking.
1st Place: Mirai Nikki
I <3 Yuno.
The Best of the Best
Looking back, 2011 is one of the best years for anime in recent memory. While previous years had me struggling to find series to watch, this year I actually had too many series that I wanted to watch and could not get to all of them. In the end, I had to make some tough decisions and that has led me to what I found to be the best anime of 2011: Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
PMMM challenged the conventional view of what a mahou shoujo series should be and twisted a predominantly innocent genre into a white red-eyed alien that we will never see in the same light again. It also had a few similarities in plot development with my favourite series of all time, Martian Successor Nadesico. Time travel, the episode 3 death, “emo” mode, and a forgotten martyr helped to bring the story together. Steins;Gate and Mawaru Penguindrum were close runner-ups.