ACAA 2011 – AJ’s Top 12 Anime of the Year!

In recent months my blog has grown from something only my friends knew about (and rarely posted on), to a site with an appreciable amount of views and a small but awesome group of regular followers. I figure it’s time to try and open up a bit to the wider blogging world, and what better place to start than with kiddtic’s Ani Blogger’s Choice Anime Awards! (click the link for info, rules etc). I was always going to do a Top 10 anime list anyway, so why not start two weeks early and add two extra series. 🙂

And so it begins…

12: Shinryaku!? Ika Musume

I squidding love Ika Musume! Three episodes for the price of one, and each segment guarantees at least a smile, even if it hasn’t had me rolling about with laughter as much as some of this year’s other titles. Oh, and I’m not biased in any way because the protagonist is a fellow environmentally friendly invertebrate… nope, not at all! *hides joint invasion plans*

11: Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!

Another comedy show, one that made me laugh just that little bit harder than Ika Musume. While the humour can be pretty risque at times, especially considering the character’s ages, it never quite crosses the line into truly uncomfortable territory – virtually everything that happens is due to characters misunderstanding one another with hilarious consequences. The characters themselves are also very likable.

10: Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing

This is the perfect example of why I don’t usually include currently airing series in my ‘Top #’ lists (aside from my early impressions, that is) – right now, I’m very happy with this show. They’ve finally thrown in some truly epic battles and a little character development, an improvement on earlier, world building eps. Would I have rated it so highly last week? Unlikely. Would I rate it 10th again next week? Who knows?

9: Chihayafuru

A surprise hit for me, since I can’t play Karuta. Though maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised at this point… I’ve watched tons of series about Mahjong, as well as one about Shogi, and loved them despite my weak/nonexistent grasp of the rules. It was the characters that made these shows interesting, and Chihayafuru is no exception – Chihaya’s personality makes this show for me.

8: Usagi Drop

Extremely cute, but a little lower than in most people’s lists I imagine… A-P places it as the 9th highest rated series OF ALL TIME on average, yet I’d rank it about the same in a list of this year’s offerings alone. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what I saw… but it didn’t end. From what I’ve heard about the manga, it may be for the best that the anime cut off where it did, but some attempt at closure would’ve still been appreciated.

7: Kaiji 2

I consistently surprise myself when I make these kinds of lists, and see Kaiji so low down… this shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing, however. I loved Kaiji enough to blog it for half a year, so this only goes to show how spectacular the second half of my list is. It was the series that brought me my first blog comments (excluding those from people I know outside of blogging), so I owe it a lot. 🙂

6: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Another potentially controversial low ranking, but there’s not much separating these top few shows. Madoka Magica was a fantastically dark twist on the usual magical girl show formula, better than any attempt I’ve seen before. Characters were likable, animation was pretty decent, music was godly. I wasn’t overly pleased with the ending, though, and that is the one reason I can’t rate it higher.

5: Mirai Nikki

My current blog series, and I couldn’t ask for a better one! Right now, though, Mirai Nikki has slipped a little from my early impressions – a lot of recent episodes have been quite… well, episodic, with the major underlying plot yet to surface (I’m assuming), and the fast pacing makes character development difficult. Relatively minor faults, but again, it faces tough competition. Chances are it’ll rise up again in the weeks to come.

4. Hourou Musuko

Now this series has flaws, don’t get me wrong – it jumps straight in with little character introduction, possibly confusing anyone who isn’t familiar with the manga (I had to re-watch a couple of scenes to make sense of things). But Hourou Musuko ranks 4th simply because it explores transgender issues in a mature way, which I’ve not seen attempted in anime before. Love the water colour style animation too!

3: Nichijou TV

Leading by a mile as far as pure comedy series go, Nichijou was without a doubt the biggest surprise of the year for me. I almost didn’t pick it up based on the first episode! Long before the midway point, however, it suddenly reached levels of hilarity I didn’t think were even possible… and just got better and better from then onward. Slow start aside, it has no flaws – I simply prefer plot driven series.

2: Fate/Zero

As predicted in my early impressions post, Mirai Nikki’s lead over Fate/Zero didn’t last. Fate has THE best animation of the year, and is quite possibly the best paced show I’ve ever seen. Just enough time is spent developing its rather large cast, but it never forgets that it is an action series, and the battles (aside from being epic) are perfectly spread out prevent the risk of boredom. Absolutely flawless so far. But still 2nd.

And finally, to no real surprise:

1: Steins;Gate

I fell in love with Steins;Gate almost instantly, and knew that unless it went horribly wrong towards the end, it would end up being my #1 series of the year. It didn’t go horribly wrong. What makes Steins;Gate so awesome? I’d say it has the best parts of both Nichijou and Fate/Zero – great animation and music, an interesting plot, some of this year’s best characters… AND it made me laugh out loud on several occasions, while being deadly serious when it needed to be. EPIC.

Licencor Award: Part of the ACAA involves picking my favorite anime licencor, as well as my favorite release by that licencor. TBH, I could pick any of them; for all their faults (dubtitles, high price/episode ratio, tendency to go bust part way through releasing a series), any company which would tackle the relatively small UK market deserves some respect for their tenacity alone! However, my vote goes to Manga Entertainment.

One of the first to break the UK market with their ever amusing ‘Classics’ range, and confusing name which still leads some new fans to believe you watch manga and read anime, Manga Entertainment are still going strong. Their releases are reasonably priced, and they have some pretty awesome titles (Kuroshitsuji, Haruhi Suzumiya and Casshern Sins to name a few recent ones). Alongside MVM, they make up a huge majority of the anime I own on DVD.

I also have to pick a favorite release from Manga Entertainment, the idea being that I may win a DVD if by some miracle my list closely matches the average results for the awards. My opinions. Falling within the norm. Nichijou placing ~3rd overall. Mitsudomoe even making the list. Somehow… I just can’t see that happening. But anyhow, I’d probably go with one of the Manga Classics, they’re always good for a laugh. I’m thinking… Landlock. Apparently it has good animation, and less ‘objectionable’ content than others in the series, so it seems a safe bet I’d like it. 🙂 About as safe as my chances of NOT winning it, at any rate. 😛

So wow. It was ~11 PM when I started writing this. It is now ~3 AM. I should probably get some sleep. But first, I want to thank kiddtic for running what could turn out to be an incredibly fun event. Secondly, I want to announce that I finally have an idea for something to write about in between episodes of Mirai Nikki – in fact I was going to write the first post today, before I decided to participate in ACAA instead. 😛 With Mirai Nikki and my usual end of year list-a-thon taking priority (not to mention the ‘distractions’ of Christmas and New Years), it may have to wait until 2012 now, though. Exactly what I have in store, I’ll leave as a surprise, but suffice to say you’ll learn a lot about my tastes in anime in the process. 🙂

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16 Responses to ACAA 2011 – AJ’s Top 12 Anime of the Year!

  1. Marina says:

    Wow, I’m impressed to see so many currently airing shows on your list 🙂 I’m curious to see if you’ll want to change your mind after they’re all done, since endings can make quite the impact on your overall impression. We differ quite a bit on our ACAA choices, but we do overlap with Chihayafuru, Bunny Drop, Madoka, Mirai Nikki, Nichijou, and Fate/Zero.

    • I didn’t pick up much during the winter season due to university work taking priority, and I found the summer season pretty underwhelming – hence the large number of spring and autumn series (not to mention the fact those seasons tend to offer more new shows than winter and summer anyway). 😛 The fact that the currently airing series are still new, exciting and full of potential may have resulted in some bias too, but that’s unavoidable.

      I usually finish each season with a final summary of every show that’s come to an end, so if my opinions do change I’ll be sure to mention it at the time. But with the deadline for ACAA being December 16th, I had little choice but to judge them based on what I’ve seen, and assume they stay consistent to the very end. 🙂

  2. GoodbyeNavi says:

    Steins;Gate was definitely one of the best anime of this year. I liked Usagi Drop at first but it started to get a little boring for me although I found the characters to be very cute. I think part of it was due to how the manga ended and my fear that the anime would go the same route. Mirai Nikki also definitely deserves to be on the list even though I don’t like the main character. I agree that the plot does not seem to be going anywhere besides killing off diary holders (well, maybe that is all there is to the plot, heh).

    • I can’t wait for the Steins;Gate movie… but I’ll have to, unless someone sends me a copy from the future. 😛

      I kept expecting the Usagi Drop anime to get boring and repetitive, but it never did for me. It was always cute, from beginning to non-ending.

      As for Mirai Nikki, I really struggled to rank it. Part of me thinks it should be higher, because there hasn’t been a single bad episode up to this point, and the shock factor alone makes it stand out among this year’s other offerings. But it isn’t perfect, and I didn’t want to rob Hourou Musuko and Nichijou of well deserved high placings either.

      One decision I hope I don’t end up regretting is putting Fate/Zero in second place. I said it had THE best animation of the year (in my opinion), which was a big contributing factor to its high rank… then I watched episode 11 the next morning, and the drop in quality was hard to miss. The episode itself was amazing aside from that, though, so I’ll stand by my current list for now. 🙂

  3. […] Tangles Marina from Anime B&B Emphemeral Dreamer from Ephemeral Dreams Judge from Moar Powah AJ from AngeyJellyfish’s Blog Cytrus from Yaranakya Nopy from Nopy’s Blog Marow from Anime Viking Akira from Moe […]

  4. Cholisose says:

    Interesting list for your top 12! Nichijou is *definitely* in my top 3 as well, and Fate/Zero is a likely bet, too…
    I haven’t seen Steins;Gate yet, but I plan to soon. I’m wary of time travel stories, but this is with a microwave, so who knows…

    Your mini-review of Madoka is similar to mine. I thought it was quite an interesting, well-paced show, but I simply did not like that ending.
    I’m enjoying Mirai Nikki a lot so far, but I can’t help but worry about how it will all end. It could be epic, but I also imagine it getting a cop-out ending. >_>

    • I’m glad to see so many people have included Nichijou myself! Based on (less than enthusiastic) reactions from the people I usually talk to, I’d began to think I was the only one who found it that funny, but it seems to be doing alright on many of the lists I’ve seen. 🙂

      Steins;Gate isn’t your average time travel show… the fact they do it with a phone attached to a microwave should give an indication of the type of ‘scientists’ the main characters are – intelligent, but very mad. Especially Okabe. It is worth watching for him alone, in my opinion, a great character!

      The lack of endings for Fate/Zero and Mirai Nikki made ranking them so high a risk, but I decided to remain positive and assume they’ll end as strongly as they’ve started. Which might not be the fairest way of doing it – Madoka would have scored much higher if I’d skipped the last couple of episodes and ‘assumed’ it would end the way I wanted… but if my opinions change when the series are finished, I’ll let people know here even if it’s too late for the awards. 😛

  5. Myst says:

    Nice list you have! Fate/Zero and Steins;Gate were also at the top of my list cause they are just so awesome. Reading your posts about Mirai Nikki makes me want to go back and give it a try. I decided to not watch it partially because I already had a lot of shows, but also because its premise didn’t sound too interesting. But now that I’ve dropped several shows and have gotten a better impression of the show from reading your blog and other people’s blogs, I think I’m going to give it a proper chance.

    • Thanks. 🙂

      Mirai Nikki is insane. The premise isn’t the most original; pitting a group of characters against each other in a survival game has been done, and even though the future diaries are an awesome idea, they’re not so different from the super powers/abilities of other shows at the end of the day. It is the characters that truly set Mirai Nikki apart – Yuki is a fairly standard whiny male lead, but Yuno is fantastic, as are the other diary users so far introduced.

  6. […] of ACAA participants 2DT from 2dteleidoscope Marina from marinasauce TWWK from beneaththetangles AJ from angryjellyfish Cytrus from yaranakya Nopy from nopybot Ephemeral Dreamer from ephemeraldreamer Marow from […]

  7. […] from 2dteleidoscope Marina from marinasauce TWWK from beneaththetangles AJ from angryjellyfish Kuuki from enkuuki Sam from otakustudy Cytrus from yaranakya Nopy from nopybot Ephemeral Dreamer […]

  8. […] ranks a couple of places higher than it did in my list for 2011, and that’s likely due to the huge amount of character development that took place in the […]

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