While I will inevitably (most probably) be posting up my own awards for the anime titles I have reviewed over the last year (As well as the many games in a completely separate article), I have chosen to take part in this years AniBloggers Choice Anime Awards being held by kiddtic, with more than 25 blogs and sites taking part. Before I go into details about my selections any further, I would like to recap the rules:
- Various Anime Bloggers must either submit a list of their top 12 anime that aired this year or better yet post the list on their blog.
- Out of the 12 anime, bloggers must then pick one show as their anime of the year.
- Only one Licencor can be picked by bloggers for the Licencor Award. Bloggers must also state their favourite Home Video release from that licencor.Source: The Final Rules
Now as you may already know, I generally deal with legally purchasable anime or simulcast titles, so my selection is quite limited in comparison to other websites, however I have mustered together a list of titles I think is more than suitable for my “Top 12 Animes of 2012”. First off, for a simple list without all the boring blurb stuff I am sure some of you would like to skip, feel free to peek at my plain and simple list below (Highlight the gap):
12. Kamisama no Memo-Chou
9. Tiger & Bunny
8. Mawaru PenguinDrum
7. Madoka Magica
6. Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son)
5. C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
4. Hoshi o Ou Kodomo (Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below)
3. Ikoku Meiro no Croisee (Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth)
2. Persona 4: The Animation
1. Usagi Drop
L. Aniplex of America
Kamisama no Memo-Chou
(Heaven’s Memo Pad)
In rank 12 I have placed Heaven’s Memo Pad, which has been picked up for English distribution by the folks at Sentai Filmworks in North America and by Siren Visual in Australia and New Zealand. Honestly I didn’t watch too many episodes of this series (You will find that with a lot of the lower ranking animes), but what I did see was not all that a unique concept but instead a concept that was well implemented with a good mystery element to it. Well done Heaven’s Note Pad! But of course, you were bested by 11 other series…. so in Rank #11 is….
Yet we have another mystery series however unlike a majority of the series on the list I am only in the early episodes of the show, with Madman Entertainment only beginning their online streaming four weeks ago (Thus only up to Week 4). So what does this series have over Heaven’s Memo Pad besides the adorably cute loli heroine? An environment that is more suited to the mystery genre and maybe a bit more solid a plot. It is currently licensed by Bandai Entertainment I believe in North America and Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand.
(My Ordinary Life)
Just barely scraping into the Top 10 is Nichijou, also referred to as My Ordinary Life in the planned English releases by Bandai Entertainment (North America) and Madman Entertainment (Australia and New Zealand). No series I feel has been able to match the random school-life comedy of Azumanga Daioh and unfortunately Nichijou still doesn’t hit the bar… but is perhaps the closest in terms of comedy and adorableness out of all series released this year. Complete randomness mixed with a wide cast of eccentric characters and two theme songs by Hyadain… a suitable Rank#10 anime.
I think the best way to summarise my thoughts on this series is through a sentence in my review of Episodes 1-7 of the Siren Visual simulcast “This series showed me there was still more for the Super Hero genre to offer”. To be honest, I used to be a fan of the super hero genre as I am sure a lot of us were as kids…. but when you get uncreative scripting and what seems to be the same hero(s) with the same generic powers (Unless they are parodied for a reason such as in Pixar’s film The Incredibles), it is hard to get excited about the genre. Fortunately, this series provided a unique concept about what Super Heroes would be like in the future – they stuck with it, and it succeeded. In terms of licenses, Manga Entertainment (UK), Siren Visual (ANZ) and I believe Viz Media (North America).
While I am still thinking I should have given this the 11/12th rank spot, I have to give credit where credit is due…. out of all series leaving an impression through one key concept, Mawaru Penguindrum and its “Survival Strategy” sequences I think were one of the more frequently discussed components of an anime series around the English anime forums. I only tried a few episodes and found that it had a nice mixture of genres and while being comedic in a way, didn’t take it to the extent of ruining the plot. As of yet, no English publisher has taken the incentive to obtain the license to this series.
With a considerable sized fan base, it is no wonder this series was quickly picked up by Aniplex of America (In North America) and Madman Entertainment (Australia and New Zealand). With the studio SHAFT behind this series, it is no surprise it turned out visually appealing, but also contained that unique plotline which turned out far different from what you might have expected in a Magical Girl show…. in order words – might not be the best thing to show your younger children.
While I don’t wish to use the ACAA as a means of convincing companies to acquire anime licenses, but I would be more than happy to give my licensor award to any anime company in either North America or ANZ who is willing to acquire the license to this title. Just like my Rank #1 title, Wandering Son shows that a series does not need to have flashy special effects or an over the top plot to be a brilliant series. This series focuses on the issue of gender – with the two main characters Shuichi (A feminine boy) and Yoshino (A boyish girl) who desire to be of the opposite gender, resulting in them trying to determine what is best for them and the trials caused by these. As it is not licensed I have not watched all the episodes, but what I have watched has shown an intellectually stimulating plot with much to offer. Now as it is a noitaminA series, I ask you to consider suggesting this series on the Siren Visual Facebook Wall HERE.
[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility
While this series retains the same concept of money as earlier noitaminA title Eden of the East had, [C] is more focused on the action and is overall still an enjoyable series that uses the concept of money battles well… and the concept of losing such battles which proves to be dire. To quote my blurb from my simulcast review: “An enjoyable series that makes you question how far you would go to make money.”. This has been licensed by Funimation Entertainment in North America and by Siren Visual in Australia and New Zealand.
Hoshi o Ou Kodomo
(Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below)
Okay so I am being a bit picky here as I am not even sure an anime feature film (rather than a TV series) would warrant inclusion in the ACAA… but I am going to include it anyway. Hoshi o Ou Kodomo is the latest film from Makoto Shinkai and has recently been doing screening rounds in various countries including a recent screening at the Gold Coast Film Festival in which I attended. I gave the film an A- score overall and thought that while the storyline could have used a touch more work, had some of the best visuals I have seen in any animated work… screw environment eye candy… consider it environment porn!
Ikoku Meiro no Croisee
(Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth)
I terms of cuteness, Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth takes the cake, with an adorable main character, well designed other mains/secondary characters and environment designs that very much so reflect France in whatever century it is set in (Cannot remember). Despite the adorable designs and heartwarming plot, there were a few issues that kept it from the higher ranks, primarily that the plot was all over the place and didn’t really end with much of anything. It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks in North America but no Australian or New Zealand license information as of yet…
so get asking Madman Entertainment and Siren Visual dammit! who said that? *Looks around*
Persona 4: The Animation
While I get the feeling you might have guessed it was between two series… the series I chose for the second place rank was Persona 4: The Animation. It showed not only some fantastic design quality but one of the best video game to anime adaptations I have seen… ever, not only keeping the same Persona charm but improving upon it to iron out the issues it would have had if retaining the system. What kept this from first rank however was that they seemed to get through the dungeons a bit too quickly… but minor trivial things are what separates Rank #1 and Rank #2….. Sentai Filmworks for North America and Madman Entertainment for Australia / New Zealand… I think you know the drill now.
BUT BEFORE WE GO TO RANK #1!
I think it is important to note some of the series that will not receive any points in the 2011 ACAA, but should still deserve an honorable mention as there was some merit to their series. These three series are:
I thoroughly enjoyed Fate/Stay Night as well as the recently released in English PSP title Fate/Extra. Despite this, I found the plot perhaps a bit too different from previous instalments and found myself just not enjoying it as much. That is all that can really be said… it is still a good series with some great visuals however. Aniplex of America currently has pre-orders through Rightstuf for a several hundred dollar Blu-ray import box set containing the first half of the series and several goodies.
From memory, Sentai Filmworks has actually picked up the license to this series (Yep, I am surprised as well considering my requests for a company to toughen up and license Kodomo no Jikan has fallen on deaf ears) and will be doing a DVD release of this in 2012. The reason I chose this for an honorable mention is because an English company was bold enough to pick up a series about an Elementary School basketball team yet results in cutesy fanservice. Kudos Sentai Filmworks… kudos! (Or in other words, I just like seeing bold moves in licensing).
The [email protected]
An honorable mention goes to this series for not only delivering much of the plot the (many) game releases have missed out on due to the games focusing more on the idols as individuals… and for finally deciding to allow the series to focus on Idol (Music) instead of IDOL (Mecha). I think your appreciation of this series will depend on if you have specific preferences in characters or if you appreciate them all – with each character getting equal focus and individual episodes. Unfortunately, no word on if this will be seen outside of Japan and no English licensor has budged yet.
… and now, the #1 Ranked Anime Series (Jap) on The Otaku’s Study for 2011 is!
What is there to say about Usagi Drop…. I could go on for hours about how the storyline is both well thought out and heartwarming, following 30 year old Daikichi who decides to adopt his six year old aunt Rin who is believed to be the illegitimate daughter of his grandfather. It is a brilliant story focusing on her days in nursery school and in the early years of elementary school as not only she learns to come out of her shell – but Daikichi who is single and has decided to become a parent figure to Rin, learns how to be the role-model father to her while also searching for her mother and seeking advice from others. I could also go on about the at times simplistic and at times detailed design which also works well with the series. Simply put, it is one of the best noitaminA series that has been released and is well deserving of my Rank #1 Japan-released anime for 2011.
As another requirement of the ACAA 2011, I have got to pick a North American licensor out of the following who I think produced the best haul this year: Funimation Entertainment, Viz Media, Bandai Entertainment, Section23/Sentai Filmworks, Manga Entertainment, Rightstuf/Nozomi, Media Blasters, Aniplex, NISAmerica or Crunchyroll. The thing is, while I own some anime from North America – I usually rely on what Madman Entertainment or Siren Visual release each month which may or may not incorporate all the companies best titles. Therefore, I decided to do the fairer thing and leave it up to chance. Every anime series from a licensor I have watched this year was recorded down with Title/Publisher. I then randomly drew one of them to be deemed my choice (Therefore, the more good titles of theirs I have watched this year, the better their chance of winning).
The winner ended up being Aniplex with their release of Durarara!!, which was in turn published in Australia by Siren Visual really early this year. However, I would like to congratulate each and every anime licensor for bringing out a brilliant haul of anime titles this year…. *Clap* *Clap* *Clap*.