Category Archives: Best of Anime

2014 Best of Anime Awards…Yet To Come

Usually at this time of the year I spend a few hours typing up a long review of the best anime of the year.  Unfortunately, this year has been taxing both on my time and on a personal level.  As such, I haven’t had the chance to watch nearly as many anime as I feel would warrant an end of the year review.

But don’t worry, I’m catching up!  I expect a wrap-up in mid to early January after I finish my shortlist.  I’m currently watching Your Lie in April – which is a fantastic series and highly recommended from me.

Even though I haven’t had the chance to watch as much anime as I usually would, I do want to end the year with something.  So instead of my usual, I’ve done a little research and put together what I believe to be the best anime openings this year.  Criteria is based on the song itself, the animation that goes along with it, and the cohesiveness of the opening.

Enjoy the songs! (some may be slightly off-key because Youtube)

15. Goya wa Machiawase – Hello Sleepwalkers (Noragami OP)

I really, really like the way this opening is colored and how well the animation goes along with the song.  Just wish the show wasn’t as mediocre (or so I’ve heard – I didn’t get through the first episode).

14. Kimi ja Nakya Dame Mitai – Masayoshi Ooishi (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun OP)

This is an incredibly fun song – I love how they’ve done the manga illustrations.  When it picks up with the tanuki explosions…well it’s just great.

13. Enigmatic Feeling – Ling Tosite Sigure (Psycho-Pass 2 OP)

I feel like this song really captures the cerebral nature of Psycho-Pass.  I’ve heard the second series is even darker than the first and it’s way up on my list for shows to watch since I enjoyed the first season.

12. Rashisa – SUPER BEAVER (Barakamon OP)

This is my first entry in the “beautiful” category (this will be a large category).  Once again, tying in the calligraphy here is great.  Another series that I definitely want to watch.

11. This Game – Konomi Suzuki (No Game, No Life OP)

So, yeah – this song is pretty much generic J-Pop.  I’m not denying that.  But its animation really goes well with it…also No Game, No Life’s animation is just great anyway.  Looking forward to the next season.

10. FLAT – livetune ft. Yuuki Ozaki (Hamatora OP)

Gawd, I love Galileo Galilei (Yuuki Ozaki is the singer in the band).  I’ve always really liked the crazy colors in this opening and would like to think that I -might- like Hamatora if I got around to watching it.

9. Unravel – TK from Ling Toshite Sigure (Tokyo Ghoul OP)

I think this is the first song that really invokes some big feels.  I didn’t get around to watching this series, but this opening is…haunting.  Also, the part where it picks up is phenomenal.

8. Trigger – Yuuki Ozaki (Zankyou no Terror OP)

Ahhhh, more Yuuki Ozaki.  This opening really captures Zankyou no Terror’s feeling so well.  I watched 3 episodes but don’t have a Funimation subscription so I keep putting it down.  I WILL be finishing this series.

7. EXiSTENCE – SiM (Shingeki no Bahamut : Genesis OP)

Don’t know how I feel about the weird CG dragon thing, but otherwise this song rocks and makes me want to watch this series.  I like the controlled chaos of its animation and when the song gets cleaner it’s just great.

6. Shiver – Lucy Rose (Mushishi Zoku Shou OP)

This kind of song is a great spiritual successor to Sore Feet Song.  The minimalism is perfect for Mushishi.

5. STAND PROUD – Jin Hashimoto (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders OP)

Not as good as Bloody Stream by Coda, but super anthemic.

4. ambiguous – GARDiNELiA (Kill la Kill OP 2)

If the blood-spray from Satsuki and Ryuko painting Kill la Kill doesn’t get you pumped, you’re wrong.

3. Let Me Hear – Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas (Parasyte OP)

I’m a little biased because Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorite bands, but this opening really is done well.  The clean vocal parts correspond well to the animation as do the screamed vocals.

2. Daze – Jin ft. MARiA aka GARDiNELiA (Mekakucity Actors OP)

This song is just great.  I will admit that until about halfway the animation is a bit lacking.  But it’s good where it’s good.  I really need to watch the Bluray version of the show where they’ve done all the changes.

1. Hikarunara – Goose House (Your Lie in April OP)

This song feels nostalgic, and it’s new, so you know you’re in instant classic territory. The show is great and this opening – the song, the animation, the way it is so cohesive – really just captures a tiny fragment of the greatness.

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The Very Best: Like Nothing Ever Was

Today I made the conversion over to a new layout on this site to signify the beginning of a new year and also the broadening of the scope of this blog.

Reviewing my old posts, I realized I’ve never really made a post about what anime I’ve found to be the very best – my all-time favorites.  I imagine this makes it a bit difficult to understand my background and motivations.

It’s time – my top 10 anime and (now that I am expanding into games) video games.

Anime

#10 : Welcome to the NHK

nhk_ni_youkoso-2118

Welcome to the NHK is a brilliant show that criticizes the otaku and NEET culture of Japan.  In doing that, it explores a wide range of psychological issues, social disorders and tropes in the otaku culture.  What makes me love this show so much is that it sometimes still maintains a light-hearted nature, even when the subject matter gets tense.  The transformation of the characters is subtle and expertly done.

#9 : FLCL

Flcl_wallpapers_197

FLCL takes some time (and multiple watches) to savor.  At first glance it may seem too bizarre.  But after you’ve had the chance to figure out the characters, their motivations (or obsessions) and the actual plot to the series, FLCL is excellent.

As an overall experience, FLCL ranks very highly.  The music is phenomenal – probably one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.  Add to that a show that functions at mach speed, forcing you to constantly pay attention, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

#8 : Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Any mecha fan (which I am) should consider Evangelion to be one of their favorite anime.  While this is a bold statement, since Evangelion is a deconstruction of the mecha genre, it’s just so, so good that you are kidding yourself if you claim to not like it.

Who knew that a minute long single frame could be so absolutely powerful?

#7 : Gunbuster

20072-620x-Gunbuster.png

We’ve clearly hit the GAINAX block here.  Gunbuster is phenomenal.  I’ve said a lot about the show in the past, and how I feel like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann basically rehashed the show for the modern age, but I’ll say it again.  I love this show.

It was far, far ahead of its time and has the best ending I have ever experienced in an anime.

#6 : Mushishi

Fd

Mushishi is an experience like no other.  It is a series abounding with simple beauty.

I once thought that I would never enjoy Mushishi, but after I started watching it, I accepted that it was much more than most anime could even aspire to be.

I’m also incredibly pumped that there is a new season (after 8 years off the air) coming out in April.

#5 : Steins;Gate

SteinsGateWallpaper

Steins;Gate is a good example of a complex story done right.  It has very lovable characters and an interweaving plot that only shows about time travel dare attempt.

It’s not always consistent with itself, but that’s forgivable when you realize what the story achieves.  Kyouma/Kurisu are two of my favorite characters – way up on the list with Araragi and Senjougahara.

#4 : Code Geass (and R2)

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Code Geass…oh…Code Geass.  This show just has something for everyone.  I’ve talked a lot about it, and for good reason.  It just has an incredibly solid plot – with plenty of twists and turns.

All in all, the show is just masterfully done.  While it doesn’t necessarily meet my bizarreness quota at all times (there are moments), it is just so unequivocal in the way it pulls at your emotions at some points in the series.

#3 : Mawaru Penguindrum

gg_mawaru_penguindrum_-_01_b8c345e7-mkv_snapshot_20-25_2011-07-09_15-40-20

Get your ticket for the bizarre train.  Welcome to Rock ‘n’ Roll night…I’m just a Rock ‘n’ Roll man.  This show is just…Fabulous Max.

Those two words describe the show all too well.  Mawaru Penguindrum is colorful, creative, vibrant and unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.

If you’re looking for a show about warped love, this is it.  Even if you aren’t, this is still it and you should watch it anyway because this show is about much, much, much more than that.

#2 : Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

puella-magi-madoka-magica-1

Madoka has been widely praised and has more fans than most series could ever dream of obtaining.  But it’s all for good reason and the show is a lot better than most of the fans even realize.

The show stomps all over the magical girl genre in unrelenting vehemence.  After the heads roll, there just isn’t anything stopping the series from being one of the best dark, psychological and powerful shows anime (or any media for that matter) has to offer.

#1 : Bakemonogatari

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I don’t think I can thoroughly describe all of the reasons why Bakemonogatari is my favorite show.  It’s probably because I just love everything about it (I can’t say the same of its sequels…though they are still good).

The art is gorgeous.  The voice cast is brilliant.  The relationships are extreme.  The dialogue is quick and witty.  The presentation is inventive.  The comedy, when there is comedy, is hilarious (even though I’m not a fan of comedy).  The action, when there is action, is fluid and explosive.

Bakemonogatari is just, hands down, my definition of a perfect show.  I can’t get enough of it and never will be able to, either.

Video Games

Since reviewing video games is a new thing for me, I’ve chosen only 5 of my favorite games.  I very much enjoy RPGs, but that’s mostly just because they usually have the best stories.

#5 : World of Warcraft

World-Of-Warcraft-Burning-Crusade-Wallpaper-ArtsHold on a second!  I’m going to explain myself.  World of Warcraft took up waaaay too much of my time in high school and college (obviously to the point of obsession, but the amount of time spent on this game is part of the reason for it being on the list).  However, there was good reason for that.

World of Warcraft, especially in the Burning Crusade era for me, simply did a lot of things right where other MMOs have either failed or emulated.  Character customization with the talent tree – great.  Combat always felt fluid and unobtrusive.  The dungeons were FUN even when you got down to “farming” them.

WoW was an enjoyable experience for me – not one I ever really want to go back to, though.

#4 : Elder Scrolls Series

Map_tamriel

Though I didn’t really get into the Elder Scrolls series until Oblivion, I really enjoy the lore in the game.  Sandbox games can be incredibly fun when the games are well-realized.

And I get to be a Knight/Paladin thing in the games simply by acting like one…which is always cool.

#3 : Final Fantasy Series

Dissidia_Final_Fantasy_-_CG_artwork_of_Warriors_of_CosmosWith only a few exceptions, I have thoroughly enjoyed every Final Fantasy game I have ever played.  The stories are generally well-crafted and have enough twists to keep you on your feet.

I also like how the series always wants to reinvent itself, trying something slightly newer each generation.

#2 : “Tales of” Series

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It’s probably because I like anime so much that the Tales games are just so appealing to me.  That and the action combat.  The stories are usually relatively run of the mill (with some very notable exceptions), but the games are just incredibly fun.

I’ve played many times through on Tales of Symphonia (and a few times through on Tales of the Abyss).  Both are phenomenal games and the series on the whole is great, as well.

#1 : Metal Gear Solid Series

metal_gear_solid_hd_edition__snake_raiden__by_outer_heaven1974-d5yrgex

The Metal Gear Solid games are the only games on this list that are not RPGs.  What I discovered at some point was that it’s not so much how I get the story from games that matters – there are imperfections in nearly every kind of gaming genre – it’s that the story is actually good and well developed.

Some would argue that the Metal Gear Solid games spend way too much time in cinematics and not enough time in gameplay.  Well, the games do it right for me.  So many different things are addressed in the Metal Gear Solid games that never seem to get addressed in games, and it’s always a pleasure to visit a new part of the series or even revisit an old one.

2013 Best of Anime Awards

Hi everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted (more about the direction I plan on taking the blog at the end of this post), but my yearly anime awards are something that have to happen.  I feel a little under-qualified this year to be posting one of these best-of’s because, frankly, I’ve developed a bad habit of watching the first 2 episodes of series and then stopping.  Despite that, I can definitely make some judgement (desu no) calls based on what I have seen.  I am only posting winners instead of runner-ups this year, except for in the overall series.  In addition, only shows that have been completed this year will be considered (notable omission is Kill La Kill).

  • Overall Series
  • Action Series
  • Comedy Series
  • Drama Series
  • Fantasy Series
  • Sci-Fi/Mecha Series
  • Adult (Seinen/Jousei) Series
  • Movie
  • OVA
  • Character
  • Artwork
  • Opening Theme
  • Ending Theme
  • Biggest Surprise
  • Biggest Disappointment
  • Most Cliche
  • Scene
  • Voice Actor
  • Potential Bests, The Anime I Didn’t Get to this Year.

Action Series:

attack-on-titan

Attack on Titan

While I definitely believe that Attack on Titan, on the whole, is extremely overhyped and predictable, I think that it would probably be a sin not to concede that it is the best action series of the year.  Attack on Titan began with the workings of a great series with phenomenal action scenes (potentially some of the best anime action I have ever seen).  Its weakness lies only in the fact that its plot and plot devices are a lot more shallow than they potentially could have been.  Bleach syndrome (obtaining the powers of your enemy) is a problem for me, especially when not done elegantly.

Anyway, Attack on Titan still had the best action this year, despite its other glaring flaws.

Comedy Series:

Oreimo 2 - 08 -3

Oreimo 2

Frankly, I’m very much unqualified to be judging comedy in anime.  It’s just not my thing.  However, I’ve always liked the comedy in the Oreimo series and what I’ve seen of Oreimo 2 has been great (I do plan on finishing it, but more on that later).  Also, Holy Angel Kamineko.  From what I’ve heard from other reviewers (and people in general), the best comedy of the year is probably The Devil is a Part-timer, but I didn’t give that show a chance.

Drama Series:

flowers-of-evil-animeFlowers of Evil

Even though I haven’t finished this series either, I’ve seen enough to know that this is absolutely drama city.  That and it’s probably one of the darkest dramas I’ve ever seen.  Don’t start watching this when you want to be happy or want to feel normal 1-2 days after.

Fantasy Series:

zetsuen-no-tempest-anime

Blast of Tempest

Starting in 2012, this show finished up in 2013 and counts.  Honestly, Blast of Tempest is a really close contender for best show I’ve seen this year, period.  I could go on and on (https://nixnao.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/zetsuen-no-tempest-blast-from-the-past/) about how great this show is, but the link pretty much sums up my thoughts.  We’ll just say that I felt like this show was a roller-coaster worth riding.

Sci-Fi/Mecha Series:

WXe7vib

Psycho-Pass

While Psycho-Pass didn’t necessarily end the way I wanted it to (good thing there is a second season in the works), I believe that conceptually it was a great show.  Sometimes it got a little far-fetched, but the dystopia presented is well-realized and very self aware.

Adult (Seinen/Jousei) Series:

Commie-Monogatari-Series-Second-Season-02-0525096C.mkv_snapshot_13.10_2013.07.21_02.01.31

Monogatari Series Second Season

Monogatari counts as a Seinen.  I haven’t finished it.  It still counts.  Get over it – there will be a Monogatari series on each one of these year end reviews, regardless.

Overall Series:

hajime11

Gatchaman CROWDS

Runner-up:  Blast of Tempest

Curveball!  While I don’t think that the individual aspects of Gatchaman CROWDS are superior to the other series this year, I think that overall it is a better series than all of the rest.  The plot is simple; the action isn’t always phenomenal; the science is fantasy.  But what really makes this show outstanding is that it is just the definition of fun.  Hajime is probably the most refreshing lead character in an anime for quite some time and she helps the show take off like the rocket it is.  Watch this show if you are looking for something new and different – this show is pretty much the definition of what I look for in anime (and you should, too, you trope lover).

As I’ve previously mentioned, Blast of Tempest was great and one of the best shows I’ve seen this year.

Movie:

Madoka-Magica-movie-3-visual

Madoka Movie 3

I haven’t seen it, but it came out in October and it’s Madoka – so probably a safe bet.

OVA:

ku-xlarge

Mirai Nikki Redial

I hear that this is the ending the series needed (and deserved, Batman).  I haven’t seen it yet, but it looks promising.

Character:

hajime-suuuu

Hajime – Gatchaman CROWDS

Not even close.  Hajime’s odd speech, energy and animation make her the best character this year.

Artwork:

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

While very inconsistent, the artwork in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was fabulous.  The stuff (like above) was great, and who knew you could make shooting the top off of a coke bottle look cool?

Opening Theme:

Coda – Bloody Stream – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure OP 2

Okay, two Jojo back to back.  Get over it, this song is awesome.

Ending Theme:

Aku no Hana’s Ending (Please don’t tell me who it is by.  I never, ever want to know)

Most ending themes for me are forgettable.  This one…is not.

Scene:

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Bird, Go? – Gatchaman CROWDS

The first scene in which Hajime does her Gatchaman thing is what hooked me on the show.

Voice Actor:

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Maaya Uchida

For her work in Railgun S, Vividred Operation and Mangirl…Who am I kidding?  She is Hajime in Gatchaman Crowds.  That is all that is required for this.

Biggest Surprise:

Surprise!!!!!
Surprise!!!!!

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Honestly, I don’t know what initially drove me to watch Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.  I’ve always thought it looked goofy (and it is), but I’m a huge fan now and can’t wait for them to potentially release the next season of the anime.

Biggest Disappointment:

suisei-no-gargantia-anime-wallpaper-ledo-amy-chamber

Suisei no Gargantia

Man did this show have potential.  It was extremely disappointing to see that potential squandered and turned into a slice of life show with no powerful plot.

Most Cliched:

crossover_bleach_attack_on_titan_by_yochiru_29-d66fe8zAttack on Titan

Okay, really, this should read “Most Cliched Despite Its Fandom Claiming It Isn’t”.  The main problem I had with Attack on Titan is that it followed far too many tropes and, as such, was waaaaaay too predictable.  Also, credits on the image go to the signature on the image.  Google image search just gave me exactly what I was looking for here (with a search of only “Attack on Titan”), so I had to use it.

Potential Bests:

I will likely finish up the following this coming year (along with whatever episodes I have left of any of the above series):

  • The Devil is a Part-timer
  • Beyond the Boundary
  • The Eccentric Family

Main thing is that all of these have too many comedy elements for me, but they have all been highly acclaimed.

Announcement!

As the new year starts, I plan on making several changes around the blog.

  1. I will no longer be doing waved first episode reviews.  These are way too time-consuming and require me to write a bunch of stuff about shows I probably won’t continue watching.  Instead, I plan on doing seasonal roundups after I have committed to one or more shows.  Hopefully, it keeps me from feeling burdened by feeling the need to watch every anime in a season.
  2. As previously mentioned, (https://nixnao.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/summer-2013-anime-top-starters/) I will begin reviewing games shortly.  This is going to take some time to set up a model and template for this, so I’m not sure when you should expect this.  Maybe some time in the Spring?
  3. I plan on doing a full rework of the layout on the site (and potentially a name change to coincide with the broadening of the blog subject matter).  That should happen sooner rather than later.

I hope everyone has a great new year, and hopefully now you have a few recommendations to work with!  Also, why can’t we get a WYSIWYG editor on WordPress?

2012 Best of Anime Awards

With the majority of this year’s series wrapping up and nothing major coming out until January, the atmosphere is perfect for my yearly review.  For the last 2 years (indeed, my 2 year anniversary for this blog is 12/20) I’ve incrementally highlighted shows as they came out and presented particular standouts with full reviews.  On a yearly basis, I like to take a step back and look at everything that’s come out to qualify the year’s merit.  This year, I’ve added a few new awards:  first, I felt that Sci-Fi/Mecha has a huge enough impact on the anime industry that it really deserves its own category (and doesn’t really fit into the other ones); second, adult series (seinen and jousei) really should be included and were likely just a oversight when I first created this list; finally, I’ve included another “worst of” title in “Most Cliche” to celebrate (?) the most trope infested series of the season.  I will say that this year’s anime was much weaker than last year’s anime but will still be judged on the below categories:

  • Overall Series
  • Action Series
  • Comedy Series
  • Continued Shounen Series
  • Drama Series
  • Fantasy Series
  • Sci-Fi/Mecha Series
  • Adult (Seinen/Jousei) Series
  • Movie
  • OVA
  • Character
  • Artwork
  • Opening Theme
  • Ending Theme
  • Biggest Surprise
  • Biggest Disappointment
  • Most Cliche
  • Scene
  • Voice Actor
  • Potential Bests, The Anime I Didn’t Get to this Year.

Action Series:

fate-zero-2

Fate/Zero Season 2
Runner-up:   Sword Art Online

While I don’t know if I’m ready to consider Fate/Zero to be the best series of the year, I do believe that it was a strong one and that it deserves winning best action series 2 years in a row simply because of how they split up the series.  Like I said last year, ufotable’s animation is top notch and it really just makes this series an A for action.  Sword Art Online’s action was equally good, but didn’t have ufotable backing its animation – but it’s also a bit more of a well-rounded demographically show, as well.

Comedy Series:

Jinrui_Wa_suitai_Shimashita_03_thumb1Humanity Has Declined

Runner-up(s): Polar Bear Cafe, Tsuritama, Nisemonogatari

What made Humanity Has Declined so great for me is the juxtaposition of the whimsical fairies and animation with the dreaded reality that, well, humanity has declined.  By all means, the series is a dark comedy that pretends to be a run-of-the-mill one, until you start paying attention to the jokes which are all very self-deprecating on the state of humanity and its struggle for survival in a world where fairies are now the most populous race.  In addition to Humanity Has Declined, Polar Bear Cafe and Tsuritama seem rather entertaining, though I haven’t finished them yet (but plan to finish Tsuritama).  It’s also worth mentioning that Nisemonogatari’s comedic moments are great, but it’s more than just a comedy.

Continued Shounen Series:

Bleach-Mugetsu Bleach (I guess)

Honestly, I think the only reason I would give this series best of the year is because it is finally over (at least the anime).  It’s been a long ride of pointless power-ups and useless arcs after the Soul Society arc.  The series should have skipped the entire Hueco Mundo arc and went straight to the Aizen/Ichigo/Urahara finale (sure, I’ll give you some power-up time, too).  It would have retained the integrity of the series and really made for one of the best shounen anime.  Instead, the majority of Bleach is virtual or actual filler and the manga is coming to a close now on what seems will be an awkward plot point.  Honestly, I don’t watch shounen anime any more and probably will stop reading the manga after Bleach and Naruto are finally over.

Drama Series:

737c1d89768c6da2b69d2671462372f91333035756_fullSpace Brothers

Runner-up(s): Nisemonogatari, Fate/Zero, Sakamichi no Apollon

Space Brothers doesn’t even really have any competition in this genre as far as I’m concerned.  It’s probably that I haven’t finished enough drama this year, but man Space Brothers is good considering it really doesn’t do much throughout the series other than poke your nostalgia and inspiration buttons.  I’m admittedly behind on the series (which is still continuing) but, oh man, is it good.  Insofar as other drama goes, I’ve listed Nisemonogatari here, but genre-wise, it’s a bit of a misclassification as the -monogatari series are kind of hard to place (and I’ve placed it in several places).  Fate/Zero also gets a silent nudge because the Master/Servant relationships were very well crafted. Sakamichi no Apollon is also great, from what I’ve seen.  It’s probably a closer runner up than the other two.

 

 

Fantasy Series:

Sword_Art_OnlineSword Art Online

Runner-up: Blast of Tempest, Nisemonogatari

Sword Art Online deserves to win something here and, despite the fact that it’s kind of (?) not a fantasy series, it still wins this year’s award.  Since the people are in a video game that is more or less reality, I think it’s worthwhile to go ahead and say that it’s fantasy enough.  Overall, Sword Art Online’s first arc is great.  Great, great, great.  The most recent stuff has been a little bit disappointing and feels somewhat forced, unfortunately.  Despite that, it has enough good moments to rightfully solidify it as one of the best anime this year.  Blast of Tempest is not over but, from what I’ve seen, I’ve really liked it.  I hope it continues to be good.  I guess Nisemonogatari kind of falls in this genre, too, which is why I have a hard time placing the -monogatari series.

Sci-Fi/Mecha Series:

585395Aquarion EVOL

Runner-up(s): Psycho-Pass, Robotics;Notes

Before I get derided, it’s worth mentioning that Aquarion EVOL has its flaws.  There’s really no explanation for its power-up system, nor how the mech are really controlled, but if you get past that, the show is really fun and has some noteworthy twists.  Is it the best mech series ever?  By no means.  But it’s good, and I enjoyed every episode of the series.  Psycho-Pass and Robotics;Notes are not done yet, but both seem to be sure candidates for nomination in the least.  I plan on playing a bit of catch up while I’m on my vacation.

 

 

Adult (Seinen/Jousei) Series:

600x588xlupin_the_third_mine_fujiko_to_iu_onna.jpg.pagespeed.ic.sN0CTWdXrdLupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

Runner-up(s): Sakamichi no Apollon, Space Brothers

I won’t lie.  I haven’t finished any of these.  I’ve watched enough of all of them to make a decent judgment, though, and I’m willing to say that Lupin the Third is this year’s best anime for adults.  It’s nostalgic and avant garde and probably worth your time watching.  I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s in my queue.  Sakamichi no Apollon and Space Brothers are also in my queue, but I really appreciate the revival of the Lupin the Third series, a lot.

 

 

 

Overall Series:

Gil-saberTie between Sword Art Online and Fate/Zero Season 2

Runner-up:  Nisemonogatari

Honestly, I liked SAO and Fate/Zero equally, so I don’t think I want to give the overall award to one or the other.  So instead, here are some non-canon images.

Nisemonogatari had a good chance of winning it for me if not for the toothbrush scene and the 15 minutes of talking to Shinobu in a bathtub.

 

tumblr_me2lxnFNVf1ru61rdo1_500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie:

eva-3.0-asuka_jpg_650x10000_q85Evangelion 3.0:  You Can (Not) Redo

Runner-up(s):  Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, Madoka movies

I won’t lie – I haven’t seen these.  None of them are readily available in America yet (well, the Madoka movies are, but they’re a bit much of a drive for me).  I’m willing to bet that Eva 3.0 is the movie of the year.  And not just because I love Eva.  That being said, I can’t wait to see any of these and I’m willing to retro-actively update this list if I’m wrong about the ordering.

OVA:

[Commie] Steins;Gate - 25 [BD 720p AAC] [7683CF28].mkv_snapshot_02.48_[2012.02.23_22.49.23]Steins;Gate Special

Runner-up:  Code Geass Gaiden: Akito the Exiled

I thought that the Steins;Gate special really tied together a few loose ends in the plot (though not too many).  It was a welcome special and didn’t hurt the integrity of the series.  Regarding the Code Geass OVA, I totally forgot that it came out.  I plan to watch it within the next few weeks.

 

Character:

swordartonline0902Kirito – Sword Art Online

Runner-up: Iskander – Fate/Zero

One of the main reasons that Sword Art Online is good is because of Kirito’s pure awesome.  He’s a little less awesome in the second arc, but still awesome enough.  What really makes him great is that, even though he is powerful, he’s also intelligent.  Although he does a fair bit of god-moding, it’s better than seeing the usual dumb, strong hero we see in this kind of anime. Iskander is the dumb hero I’m talking about, but in such an awesome way.  Add to the fact that he is easily the most likable character in Fate/Zero and you’ve got another winner.

Artwork:

Lupin2Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

Runner-up: Fate/Zero, K, Nisemonogatari

I’ve already alluded to it, but Lupin the Third’s art is absolutely phenomenal.  There are so many really, really cool things going on in the show and I really want to get back to watching it.  Fate/Zero has the usual awesome ufotable animation.  I thought K had a very unique art style, as well, but have yet to get started with the series.  And, of course, SHAFT’s animation was spectacular for Nisemonogatari, as well.

 

 

 

Opening Theme:

cdCrossing Field – LiSA – SAO

and

Kimi no Shinwa ~ Aquarion Dai ni Shou – AKINO – Aquarion EVOL

Runner-up:  Tsurezure Monochrome – Fujifabric – Tsuritama

I had a really hard time choosing this year.  Crossing Field is a GREAT song, but Kimi no Shinwa is really what pumped me up for watching each episode of Aquarion EVOL in much the same way that Sorairo Days did way back when I was watching Gurren Lagann.  Tsuritam’s opening deserves mentioning, because, well, it’s awesome.

 

 

 

Ending Theme:

claris

Naisho no Hanashi – ClariS + Supercell – Nisemonogatari

Runner-up:  Gekkou Symphonia – AKINO and AIKI (bless4) – Aquarion EVOL

I like Supercell. I like ClariS. I like the -monogatari series.  This was an obvious choice.  It should be mentioned that Gekkou Symphonia is really, really, really pretty though. I’m not surprised.  Yoko Kanno did the music composition for the soundtrack and the opening and ending.

 

 

 

 

 

Scene:

SwordArtOnlineep141-300x168Sword Art Online – Offline, on Track

Runner-up:  Fate/Zero – Bullet Time

The final scene of the first arc of Sword Art Online was brilliant.  It’s a shame that it went a little downhill from there.  I won’t ruin it, but let’s just say that it echoes how much of a badass Kirito is.  The final battle between Kiritsugu and Kirei in Fate/Zero is also pretty freaking awesome.

 

Voice Actor:

10211Kana Hanazawa

Runner-up:  Yuki Kaji

I’m giving Kana Hanazawa the vote this year because of her roles as Zessica (Aquarion EVOL), Mato (Black Rock Shooter), Ayase (Guilty Crown – which ended this year and this character was the only one worthwhile in the series) and Akane (Psycho-Pass).  She’s been fairly prolific and has shown that she can perform in a lot of different roles.  I’m also giving Yuki Kaji the runner-up position because, despite how much Guilty Crown sucked, his other roles have made me not hate him as a voice actor even though I can’t get Shu’s voice out of my head when I hear him talk.

 

 

 

 

 

Biggest Surprise:

Fate_Zero_logoFate/Zero Season 2

Runner-up:  Humanity Has Declined

Honestly, I went into Fate/Zero expecting junk.  Fate/Stay Night is a pretty bad amalgamation of too many ideas and doesn’t really work.  Fate/Zero is a bunch of ideas that absolutely work together.  Humanity Has Declined is another show that caught me off guard.  Like Ben-To last year, I’m happy when there is a comedy that I can legitimately enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Biggest Disappointment:

nisemonogatari-8-araragi-head-tiltNisemonogatari

Runner-up:  Second Arc of Sword Art Online, Fate/Zero’s need to be canon with Fate/Stay Night

Okay, this is definitely kind of nitpicky because I did like all of these shows this year (in fact, these are probably my top 3).  Nisemonogatari was disappointing because it wasn’t as good as Bakemonogatari.  Was it bad?  Not really – it just went out of its way to be awkward way too many times.  SAO is a great show that I’m hoping doesn’t end up sucking because its second arc and (clearly) additional seasons.  Fate/Zero ended fairly well, but without a huge amount of closure because Fate/Stay Night basically ends the story.

Most Cliched:

campione_review_2Campione

Runner-up:  The rest of the moe bro crap this year

I guess that Campione is probably one of my biggest disappointments this year, but I wanted to point out the fact that this year’s anime was pretty flawed as a whole.  I couldn’t make it very far into the series simple because I had seen it before.  Moe bro crap is moe bro crap.

 

Potential Bests:

These shows are on my radar to finish up at some point:  Black*Rock Shooter, Senhime Zesshou Symphogear, Eureka Seven AO, and Rinne no Lagrange (among whatever else I have already mentioned)

2011 Anime Standouts: Best of 2011

Christmas was yesterday and 2012 is right around the corner.  With that it’s about time to be a judge of this year’s anime.  This time is also pretty close to the one year anniversary of this blog (I started it on December 20th of last year).  I actually can’t believe that I’ve had this blog for nearly that long, but this year has been a short one with the continuous string of work that has presented itself to me at my job.  The following will be the categories judged for the Best of 2011:

  • Overall Series
  • Action Series
  • Comedy Series
  • Continued Shounen Series
  • Drama Series
  • Fantasy Series
  • Movie
  • OVA
  • Character
  • Artwork
  • Opening Theme
  • Ending Theme
  • Biggest Surprise
  • Biggest Disappointment
  • Scene
  • Voice Actor
  • Potential Bests, The Anime I Didn’t Get to this Year.

Action Series:

Fate/Zero

Runner-up:    Tiger and Bunny

Fate/Zero is actually kind of the obvious choice here for best action series of the year. TYPE-MOON does a great job on the animation of the series and makes every fight fluid and vibrant.  Obviously, Fate/Zero is also a great series besides its action, which really helps an action series, in my opinion.  Following Fate/Zero is Tiger and Bunny simply because I thought the show had a unique enough concept, was entertaining and the action was good enough.  Sometimes it’s nice just to have a series that you don’t have to take seriously, and that’s what Tiger and Bunny was.

 

 

Comedy Series:

Ben-To

Runner-Up:  Nichijou

Ben-To was (has been) so good simply because it doesn’t take itself too seriously…or when it does take itself seriously, it takes itself WAY too seriously.  It’s really the comedy and style of anime that has been missing in recent years and it’s a fun ride.  Nichijou makes runner-up status here simply because I didn’t get far enough into the series to make a true judgment call on its comedy.  From what I saw, Nichijou looked pretty hilarious and stylistically similar to Lucky Star.

 

 

Continued Shounen Series:

Honestly…nothing.  Whereas last year Naruto was getting into the really big parts of the series, this year it’s went into filler mode.  Bleach has had some very important moments, but it has really gotten to the point that both series are a pain to watch.  Insofar as manga, Naruto finally has made some strides back in the right direction where the ninja war up to this point has been incredibly boring.

Drama Series:

Anohana 

I chose two for this category.  Get over it.  Drama this season was GREAT.  Anohana was probably one of the most tear-jerking anime of all time, not just this season.  Everything in the series was captured absolutely perfectly and the characters were all so well-realized.

 

 

 

AND 

Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate was one of those anime that was a bit of a sleeper.  The first few episodes wouldn’t drag you in, but after you got sucked into the intricacies of the plot, your time would literally just float away as the series continued to take you by surprise.  What’s good about Steins;Gate is that it initially pretends to be comedy but quickly becomes something huge.

Runner-Up:  GOSICK

GOSICK only gets a runner-up position here because the drama anime this season was so spectacular.  Once I got around to watching it, I realized that series was amazing, as well.

 

 

Fantasy Series:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Runner-Up:  Fractale

Surely this comes to no surprise to ANYONE involved in anime, but Madoka was easily the best fantasy series of the season, though I use the word “Fantasy” very loosely this season.  Madoka is good for many reasons, and it’s just something that needs to be watched by anyone who considers themselves an anime fan.  The series is dark and has a powerful plot that makes it, literally, one of the best anime in recent years, if not of all time.  Fractale was fairly good, as well, but there was a bit missing.  Realize the quality level between it and Madoka are worlds apart.

 

 

 

Overall Series:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Runner-up:  Steins;Gate

Honestly, it’s pretty obvious that Madoka wins the best series hands down.  It is an absolute must-see for anyone that knows anything about the Mahou Shoujo genre. It is just a must-see, in general.  Steins;Gate was also pretty fantastic and deserves a watch by people who tend to enjoy science fiction.

 

 

 

Movie:

Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Runner-up:  Macross Frontier:  Sayonara no Tsubasa

Honestly, this year’s movies were pretty great.  The Break Blade movie series was rounded out, Towa no Quon started up, and Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo really showed that Makoto Shinkai as a director can do a lot more than you’d imagine.  The movie was a lot better than any of his previous works, in my opinion, and was a spectacularly entertaining experience.  The second Macross Frontier movie was animated amazingly and had a lot of really really unique concepts (for people that aren’t big Macross fans).  Good stuff and I might have to get into Macross at some point because of these movies.

 

OVA:

None.  I watched one OVA this season and it sucked.  So not much I can say here.

Character:

Menma – Anohana

Runner-Up: Okarin – Steins;Gate

Everyone loved Menma.  Everyone.  You cannot dispute this or even try to dispute this.  Okarin was also fairly unique.

 

 

 

Artwork:

Fate/Zero

Runner-Up:  Guilty Crown

Like last year, TYPE-MOON has it won for best animation.  I put Guilty Crown on here, as well, but I’ve been avoiding putting it up because the series isn’t over yet and won’t be until sometime next year.  Honestly, I like the animation in Guilty Crown better than Fate/Zero, but I think it’ll win an award for that next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Theme:

Aoi Shiori – Galileo Galilei – Anohana

Runner-Up: Hacking to the Gate – Kanako Itou – Steins;Gate

Aoi Shiori in Anohana should be watched every time you watch the series.  The intro exemplifies what the series is all about.  One of the best anime intros of all time.  Hacking to the Gate takes some getting used to, but it really does the same thing that Aoi Shiori does and sets the mood for Steins;Gate.  Both are great examples of anime intros and anime in general.

 

 

 

 

Ending Theme:

Just Awake – Fear, And Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter x Hunter (2011)

Runner-Up:  Meh

Honestly, Just Awake is the only ending theme worth mentioning this year.  Very much my style of music and such a great song.  Can’t wait for the single to come out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica – Sayaka Freakout

Runner-up:  Anohana – Hide and Seek

I really think that the Sayaka Freakout episode of Madoka is one of my absolute favorite moments in all of anime.  You take a character with absolute best intentions and drive them to insanity from the burdens they try to face by themselves.  You can’t get much better than this in ANYTHING, not just anime.  Anohana’s hide and seek scene brought me to big manly tears.  So many of them.

 

 

Voice Actor:

Mamoru Miyano

Runner-Up: Chiwa Saito

Normally Chiwa Saito would be at the top of my list each and every time (along with Hiroshi Kamiya…especially when acting together), but Mamoru Miyano wins it this year.  His performace as Okarin in Steins;Gate was amazing.  It really showed what range the voice actor has and reminds us of why we liked him so much as Light in Death Note.  I have a feeling that he is going to become more and more prolific in the anime industry over the next few years.  Chiwa Saito is always amazing simply because she can act in so many different roles and hit them ALL spot on.  This season was Akemi Homura from Madoka along with a few others.  I can safely say I’ve liked every role she’s ever played and her interpretation of Senjougahara is outstanding.

 

 

 

 

 

Biggest Surprise:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Runner-up:  Ben-To

I think that most people would have to agree that Madoka was a HUGE surprise of a show.  I’m a big fan of SHAFT and Akiyuki Shinbo but I knew that Shinbo had done some previous work that was more comedic.  This was more along the lines of Bakemonogatari and Soul Taker and really what he should be doing from now on.  Ben-To was one of those shows that I thought I was going to absolutely hate, but I have to say it’s my second or third in line to watch this season.  I don’t think it will go down as a great anime or anything, but it’s fun and a pretty big surprise to me that I enjoyo it.

 

 

 

 

Biggest Disappointment:

Persona 4:  The Animation

Runner-up(down?):  Mobile Suit Gundam AGE

I really, really, really wanted to like Persona 4.  It just got very repetitive and didn’t have enough going for it.  Everything was far too disjointed and they really should have done a better job making the series a little less like the game.  (i.e. take out the annoying day transition scenes that break apart the series)  Mobile Suit Gundam AGE was a disappointment because it is clearly not a Gundam fan’s anime.   This is so true that they’re making another version of it for Gundam fans.  Good job.

 

 

Potential Bests, Anime I didn’t Get to Watch This Year:

Mawaru Penguindrum, Deadman Wonderland

This concludes the Best of 2011 post.  2011 isn’t quite over, but I don’t see any of these positions changing over the next few days.  Feel free to leave me a comment if you disagree with any of my choices, though clearly this article is one of my opinions and not solid facts.

Best of Anime Openings

Best of Anime Openings

Anime openings can really either make or break a series.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve misjudged a series by its poor opening or held a series in more high regard simply because its intro was spectacular.  It really means a lot whenever you make an intro and definitely a lot more than some producers seem to imagine.  So without going on, here are my elections for the top 15 best anime openings of all time (plus a few runner-ups):

15.  Venus to Jesus – Etsuko Yakushimaru – Arakawa Under the Bridge

Colorful and vibrant, this really sets the mood for the series.  Unusual yet very imaginative.

14.  Asterisk – Orange Range – Bleach

Like it or not, Bleach had a pretty great start for a series.  The intro was one of the things that set it apart and added to the series great start.  It also really got me interested in Orange Range.

13. Renai Circulation – Kana Hanazawa – Bakemonogatari

Really awesome animation and presents the character really well.  All of the BMG intros are awesome though.

12. Only My Railgun – Fripside – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun was a lot better than Toaru Majutsu no Index and I’m not convinced it wasn’t because of this intro.

11. Uragiri no Yuuyake – Theatre Brook – Durarara!!

This song really gets this show started out in its initial chaotic atmosphere.  Good stuff.

10.  Colors – Flow – Code Geass

Good song and the animation is well executed for the music.

9. Cruel Angel Thesis – Yoko Takahashi – Neon Genesis Evangelion

Nostalgia burst to the max and there are so many subliminal things in this video.

8. Tank – Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts – Cowboy Bebop

Yoko Kanno is a spectacular composer and this song really does well for Cowboy Bebop.

7. Ready Steady Go! – L’arc~en~ciel – Fullmetal Alchemist

Probably one of the songs that got me into Japanese music in general.  Love me some L’arc.

6. Again – YUI – Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

YUI has an amazing voice (almost put Rolling Star for the Bleach one instead).  This is the point in my list where real emotions are being evoked.  This song sends chills up my spine each and every time.

5. Compilation – Rookiez is Punk’d – Durarara!!

I know the fangasming fans of Durarara!! are probably killing me right now, but this song really does an amazing job of capturing the series and everyone’s personas.  Spectacular.

4. Hacking to the Gate – Kanako  Itou – Steins; Gate

1:01.  All I have to say.  This intro exemplifies this anime so well.  Listened to it EVERY time.  I hated it the first time I heard it, but it really fits the series.

3. Sore Feet Song – Ally Kerr – Mushishi

So beautiful.  Just like the anime.  A song that the more I go back and listen to the more I love.

2. Sorairo Days – Shoko Nakagawa – Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Duh.  This is anime.

1.  Aoi Shiroi – Galileo Galilei – Anohana

Gives off the exact feel of the series.  It’s about growing up.  It’s about learning to cope.  It’s about grasping the emotion behind that all.  So amazing.

Of course there are a few that didn’t quite make the list.  Mostly because of technicalities:

Ash Like Snow – the brilliant green – Gundam 00

Didn’t put this one on here because I haven’t actually watched the series.  Amazing song though.

Guns and Roses – Paradise Lunch – Baccano

Pretty awesome song, but I thought I was overkill with the Durarara!!  This is what started the awesome intro sequences for Durarara!! though.

Karma – Bump of Chicken – Tales of the Abyss

Didn’t feel right about posting this one because…well, even though there was a show made of it, it was originally just a game.  Love the song, though!