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small image YumeState Favorites of 2011

January 8, 2012 3:16 pm by small image

Without a doubt, I’d say 2011 was a marvelous year for anime, as there was such a great variety of excellent shows. Something enjoyable for every viewer, you could say! Which anime were our #1 favorites, though?

Leap250:

Mawaru Penguindrum

It was a tough choice really, considering how great some of the 2011 shows were, like Madoka, Gosick, AnoHana, Steins;Gate, or even Fate/Zero. I personally was going to consider Moshidora as well. All of these shows are awesome, and I consider them all my favorites from 2011. However, Mawaru Penguindrum, if you happen to recall my first post on Yumestate about my Summer lineup, really surprised me. I didn’t even know a thing about it until two weeks into the summer season, and even then I half expected it to be about a random series that involved a marching band (because of the “drum” and I thought Princess of the Crystal/Penguin Hat Himari was a majorette) I never would have guessed how the series presented itself like it did. The randomness of it all gives it a sense of uniqueness. So much so that it felt like a breath of fresh air, considering how those shows that I did anticipate were, for the most part, disappointing.

What I liked most from Penguindrum would have to be how the series practically teased the audience about the overarching story by being either intentionally ambiguous at times, or by giving out small, almost unnoticeable hints. No one really knew how things were going to progress, which makes the anticipation for the “answers” all the more exciting. Of course, the story would have to be good if that were the case, and for the most part it was. Ikuhara’s final slight of hand was that, this series was never truly about terrorists, or stalkers, or even penguins; it was about love. So yeah, I definitely have to give it to Mawaru Penguindrum, for teaching me not to judge a show until I’ve watched it.

Tsubasa:

Ano Hana

It was a tough choice … but  I would definitely have to pick “Ano Hana” as my favorite anime of 2011.

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (or simply “Ano Hana”) was one of those series that I started with no idea of what it was about (other than the creators of Toradora! on the project)- also being an anime original, I thought it would be an interesting choice.

Well, my “interesting choice” proved to be a masterpiece; particularly concerning the plot, I was amazed at how a story which is so obviously fiction could come to life.. and reflect realities in life we all deal with. The characters of Ano Hana seemed so… real in their behavior and display of human emotions. I laughed, and (admittedly) cried buckets at the end (You just can’t help but grow to love Menma…). The ending is bittersweet, and though I wish for more, Ano Hana is one of the rare animes which ends in a way that leaves the audience satisfied; you can certainly accept the way in which Ano Hana concludes.

In all the elements I consider for a series to be a masterpiece, I believe Ano Hana satisfies my standards to the fullest. Though only eleven episodes, this heartwarming series is (in my opinion) the best anime I’ve seen in years.

Ultima:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Despite people’s first impressions of another “Mahou Shoujo” anime, this one definitely takes the cake for being different and completely opposite of those impressions. A deep storyline, a fascinating plot, intriguing and mysterious characters, this anime contains a very strong and well-rounded set of genres and categories. What seems like a normal Mahou Shoujo anime completely takes a 180 degree turn by the third episode, where many tragic events take place that change the overall flow of the series. The one regret that I had while watching was that I didn’t watch it while it aired, and instead waited for it to be complete before marathon’ing it. Personally, this series should have been one to wait for each week, as it adds tension and suspense to each subsequent episode. Overall, definitely my favourite of 2011.

Cholisose:

Nichijou

There were so many great anime for 2011… A third season of Natsume Yuujinchou was much appreciated, the epicness of Fate/Zero can not be denied, the mystery romcom Gosick was a fun adventure, and even Ikoku Meiro no Croisee was a weekly delight. But I can only choose one show to be my #1 favorite! The best of the best, the show that thoroughly impressed me from beginning to end… Nichijou! How amusing that a show titled “Everyday Life” could be so incredibly zany, unpredictable, and hilarious.

Comedy is certainly a subjective matter, but without fail, Nichijou made me laugh many times every single episode, which is something I can’t say for any other comedy (anime or otherwise). If this was the only good thing I could say about Nichijou, it would probably still be my #1 favorite series for 2011–but the positives don’t stop there. The animation is quite stunning, where a good budget, extensive creative ingenuity, and a whole lot of love was put into every scene. The music is also wonderful, with some of the funnest OPs and sweetest EDs I’ve ever heard, and an enjoyable background soundtrack. And on top of all this, the characters are very easy to like, with memorable character designs and hilariously dramatic voice acting.  And to my great surprise, the characters even develop in interesting ways over the course of the series!

I’ve already watched most of the episodes twice now, and often find myself watching clips on Youtube. I think my favorites folder has at least twenty Nichijou videos in it, and it’s not like I’ve set aside a long period of time to go hunting for them… I just keep finding myself drawn to them, when I should be busy with other things! Which may be the best compliment I can give an anime comedy.

Trainer of Legend:

Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts (Season 2)

I watched quite a few anime that aired in 2011, but I would say that I liked Baka and Test’s second season the most. FUNimation released the first season with a dub in 2011 (and has plans to release S2 and the two OVA episodes connecting them in 2012), but the second season is a step-up from the first. It offers a romantic comedy with appealing visuals and characters so charming that they practically pop out of the screen. What also surprised me is the extent to which they developed the supporting characters. In fact, the bromances between the protagonist and his friends are often as interesting as the main love triangle itself! This show might not be the best or funniest of the year, but it is definitely one that can entertain and be, well, fun.