The year in anime 2011 review

This has been an intense year in which many things have happened and yet the quality of the series has been outstanding.

This year is also marked by the comeback of classic series and it seems the trend will follow through 2012 too with new Rurouni Kenshin and Prince of Tennis series.

The highlight of this year is without a doubt, the new Hunter x Hunter. At first, fan expectation wasn't high but the great production values of this remake that is closer to the manga definitely makes up for it. Masatoshi Ono's Departure OP song doesn't help either.

And of course, the extreme insane success of One Piece manga this year reflects in the anime.

This year also opened great with the return of Gintama, delivering hysterical episodes and making every Monday less boring. No wonder we talk about #Gintamonday, and hopefully through years to come.

As for new series, the first two seasons of Bakuman and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi take the cake. Great animation and quality of stories is what kept us craving for more.

Sket Dance and Beelzebub can't be left behind with their solid storylines and consistent quality. The trend seems to bring both funny and badass moments. I'll never forget Himeko's episode that centers in her past as Onihime and of course, the Super Milk Time Oga's technique that simply owned everyone in sight.

There have been also two surprises this year with Steins;Gate and Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle, two outstanding original anime series that will follow through with manga adaptations next year.

This was also the year of Blue Exorcist, the long awaited adaptation of Kazue Kato's manga. It didn't exactly  dissapoint, but the 13 episodes filler arc wasn't the best move by the studio, as it derived from the manga plot itself and gave us plenty of OOC moments. Looking back at it, the ending was ok, but it left more to be desired.

That's because the main problem they had is that the manga comes out monthly and there weren't enough chapters to adapt. Hopefully a second season will be much better.

The low points of this year were Deadman Wonderland, Kamisama Dolls and Kamisama no Memochou.

The case of Deadman Wonderland is peculiar because it had the formula to win, to be a established successful series, but the premise itself, the soft gore and violence, and the dragging of the plot didn't make audiences relate to it. I guess the problem is that it should have been marketed as a proper Seinen series like Gantz, instead of trying to make it the next Bleach.

The main problem I found with Kamisama Dolls is that they revealed the villain's motivations too soon, and the protagonist was just too weak and reluctant. It's a shame because the battles were awesome and the design of the robot Kami were brilliant.

As for Kamisama no Memochou, it started out great. The episodes were funny with a good dose of mystery and Alice had credibility as a moe detective, I could even see her being alongside L in a crossover with Death Note. But it's like the formula of solving weird cases every week got tired out quickly and the end was anticlimatic, the series didn't have more to go beyond that. The concept of a NEET detective was great, though.

Two series that fall to the pit are Guilty Crown and Sacred Seven, which were unwatchable with their similar wasted plots.

As for overlooked series, [C]: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control will probably stand as one of the most underrated series of all time. You could see it was really meant to only have 13 episodes as it's an original anime, but both its theme and message were powerful, it was consistent from beginning to end, as it was an excellent story that reflects this world financial crisis era.

Level E was also meant to only have 13 episodes since this 1995 manga couldn't be finished by its author, none other than Yu Yu Hakusho's and Hunter x Hunter's Yoshihiro Togashi. But you could see the brilliant and hysterical theme that characterized it.

I can name other overlooked series such as Tiger and Bunny, which actually looked funny and promising.

A series that doesn't have much exposure, but nevertheless is up there with Naruto and Bleach, is Nurarihyon no Mago. The second season, titled Nurarihyon no Mago: Sennen Makyo, gave us great moments as Nura Rikuo fights Hagoromo Gitsune and her minions and he struggles to find his way as the Third Heir. I noticed a decline in animation quality in the last 6 episodes, but either they are changing the style (thicker lines, more static frame movement) to make it fit with the yokai theme, or they simply ran out of budget.

As for established series, Bleach finished their Arrancar arc with TEH EPIC battle between Ichigo and Aizen. Personally, I prefer the way it was done in the manga, with all the insane transformations and drama. The filler arc of the Shinigami Clones was entirely forgetable, but I liked how they showed Ichigo's decline in power at the end.

However, the new arc is great, presented in a better way than the manga, we are back to great canon animation quality.

I really don't have much to say in regards to Naruto Shippuden, all we've been getting lately has been fillers, but it's not like the animation quality has been dreadful. The only highlight was the resolution of the Pain arc, Naruto getting to know his father Yondaime, and his reaction to people looking up to him as Konoha's Hero. Hopefully next year we are going to see more.

This year we also saw the second season of Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas, the highlight being the incredible fight between Hakurei and Hypnos in Hades' castle and Tenma's resolution to defeat him. This series has been slowly gaining acclaim among classic Saint Seiya fans who were skeptic of the new style of artwork and quality.

And lastly, a series I wouldn't leave out is UN-GO. A pleasant surprise but it wasn't meant to last. I can place it in the category of overlooked series, but interestingly enough, it's those types of series that have powerful messages. The last episode tied it all with a sociopolitical theme that is an accurate critique of our times.

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