Chap’s 2011 Anime Awards
After Cidz gave her awards and I was scarred from looking at Bing’s picture source of naked men in Sekai and UtaPri, I finally decided to give our next valuable member of the blog his awards. It’s Chaps, everyone, and while you may be expecting more of the normal male interests from this list, prepare to be… surprised? Regardless, Chaps has always been one of our most reliable writers so be sure to give his dues.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
As a fan of the company SHAFT, I really dig the often creepy and trippy aesthetics that they can give an anime, which made Madoka Magica all the more appealing to me. However, the real meat of the show comes not just from the aesthetics but the content itself with a story written by Gen Urobachi that deconstructs the magical girl genre into a murky business where the girls sell their souls for one wish that go horribly wrong and a chance to fight witches until they expire and become witches themselves, and a score from Yuki Kajiura and Kalafina to bring an even more ominous tone to what transforms into one of the best magical girl shows out there.
At first, there was reason to be skeptical about an adaptation of the Nitroplus game Steins;Gate with the mixed reactions about Chaos;Head, but not only does it surpass the odds against it with a wonderful story, but it also surpasses many of the shows that appeared in the Spring, as Steins;Gate provided not only an entertaining story of Rintarou “Hououin Kyouma” Okabe’s creation of a time machine alongside his friends Daru, Mayuri, Suzuha, Ruka, and co., but an intelligent show that understood the ramifications of time travel theory and even offers up some great drama as Okabe deals with the consequences of policing the time stream.
From Kunihiko Ikuhara, the creator of Revolutionary Girl Utena, brings the craziness back with him as he pieces together this modern day wonder. As the Takakura residence deals with trying to find a way to keep their sister alive through the Penguindrum, they also encounter many mysteries and revelations that may change their fates. Penguindrum offers everything to the table with drama, suspense, action, and even some comedy.
Of all of the detective mystery shows to come out in the year 2011, UN-GO has to be the one that caught my attention as one of the most impressive shows to come out for the Fall season. Shinjurou, the Defeated Detective is a wonderful lead as he seeks out the meaning behind peoples motives alongside Inga and cyborg Kazamori, and as such provides an entirely different ground for a mystery show to walk on. With his supernatural assistant Inga who can transform from an energetic young boy to a well endowed older woman who can hungers for souls that she devours by having people reveal the truth, it’s surprisingly well-executed as Inga’s questions are less about “whodunit” and more about reassuring Shinjurou’s deductions. Another well-executed aspect of the story is that it has less to do with finding out the mystery-of-the-week, as each case is an interconnected web that has a central theme of politics, with the revelations of each mystery unraveling hidden secrets that the government had covered up in the wake of a terrorist attack, giving some food for thought especially for those who are more into politics than the gumshoe aspects of the series. On top of all of that, the aesthetics are top-knotch with sleek designs that make each shot crisp and clean, beautiful music from Narasaki and his band Coaltar of the Deepers, and a wonderful OP and ED from school food punishment and LAMA respectively, both boasting absolutely breath-taking production from the visuals. I assure you, UN-GO is one of the best shows this season
As a newbie to the TypeMoon universe, I was hesitant on rushing into Fate/Zero when I haven’t seen Fate/Stay the Night, but once I made the decision to open up that NicoNico page and hit the play button, an explosion of quality (not the joke “quality” like Togainu no Chi, but actual genuine high quality product “quality”) with some of the best production for a television animation, crisp clean artwork, a plot that is intricate enough to give you all the information you need and at the same time suck the audience into the events, and an array of characters that you can see detailed glimpses of so that you can know everyone’s motivations for fighting in the Holy Grail War and also root for your favorites (my favorite is the Rider/Waver team that provides not only some funny comic relief with Rider’s boisterous behavior & accustoming to the differences between the 90’s and his time putting Waver into compromising positions, but also because Rider is a badass).
“Spell” (No.6) – LAMA
[pro-player width='530' height='453' type='video']http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIVN-MnwPjg[/pro-player]
LAMA, the group made up of two former members of Supercar, has been on a role this year with both “Fantasy” from UN-GO which is one of the best ED’s of the fall season, and this gem “Spell” from No.6. The aesthetics behind the show are crisp and clean with Spiral and Chaps Nezumi and Shion being covered with photo mosaics of clips from the show until the surroundings around them collapse to reveal a bright blue skyscape with the wind blowing off their mosaics to reveal themselves in their whole form as they look longingly at each other and in one of the best ways a show could foreshadow a relationship in a OP, a giant rainbow crashes down in the middle of the two as if the OP is aware that these two are going to want each other later on. Of course the song is also quite wonderful with an electronic beat to it as Miki & Koji duet to a calm yet energetic song.
“Dear Future” (Mawaru Penguindrum) – Coaltar of the Deepers
[pro-player width='530' height='453' type='video']http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4m1XBH9Ink&feature=related[/pro-player]
*I’m sorry Chaps. You picked a licensed ED. - SPIRAL
There aren’t enough words I can say to praise this song & I love just about everything about it. Coaltar of the Deepers, a shoegaze band lead by Narasaki who helped compose the wonderful soundtracks for UN-GO and Deadman Wonderland, have created a brilliant piece with roaring guitars, spacey piano, and mysterious lyrics that allude to the message that a happy life with a loved one is temporal and as time goes by, separation will still occur whether it is by hardships that split the two together or fate itself has removed one out of the picture.
“Maji Love 1000%” (Uta no Prince Sama) – Starish
[pro-player width='530' height='453' type='video']http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93UgmIRPsEY&feature=related[/pro-player]
Possibly the most memorable song of 2011, Magi Love 1000% is the ultimate guilty pleasure song as a sugar coated romp into love with several different guys in a boy band. Essentially, it’s everything you expect from the most kickass pop song ever made, with it’s catchy lyrics and sick dance beat that will not only stay in your head, but you’ll never want it to leave. The actual ED needs no explanation as it is the sickest concert ever with all the guys doing synchronized dance routines as millions of girls and boys all around Japan beg for them to steal their cherries. Very few idol shows or comedy shows with concert ED’s quite get the presence of an audience, but if I knew enough Japanese, I could swear that several of the people in the audience demanded to have Otoya & Satsuki’s babies. And speaking of the cast, most of the cast has a hell of a time singing to their hearts content, from Mamoru “MAD SCIENTIST” Miyano, Hiro “Yabecchi” Shimono, Junichi “Archer” Sawabe, Kishou “Kittan” Taniyama, Takuma Terashima, among others. And lets not forget to mention that this very song made Norio Wakamoto’s “SHINING Saotome” spiral into a wonderland of stars and bliss, so if it can do that to Wakamoto, just imagine how it would react on a mere mortal’s eardrums.
Rintaro Okabe (Steins;Gate)
The triumphant laugh of what must be one of the greatest protagonists to grace an anime this year, Rintarou Okabe, or rather Mad Scientist Hououin Kyouma, is everything that a protagonist should be. He’s charismatic with a Don Quixote-esque ambition to create his time machine with the extensive use of theatrics to build confidence within his crew whom he has given code names and origin stories, and yet he’s dead serious when he takes responsibility for the mishaps that happen due to the tampering he had done with the time stream and is willing to do whatever it takes to set things right. Props to Mamoru Miyano for belting out what may very well be his best performance yet.
Should Have a Second Season
Hourou Musuko, aka Wandering Son, is a show that deals with the everyday life of two transgendered middle school students in Japan as they, alongside their friends, deal with how society and students view transgender topics. However, the time set in the anime adaptation is out of place as it starts several chapters ahead from the beginning of the manga so the anime chops out the entire beginning chapters, starting off on awkward footing when it could have benefited from an OVA detailing what happened in between the beginning of the manga and the beginning of the anime. Not only that, but by the end of the anime, you’re already begging for more story as noitaminA’s 11 episode limit caused it to be cut short (but that god-awful Guilty Crown gets to have the 22 episodes that Hourou Musuko, No.6, and [C] should have been given). It’s left on a note where relationships drift between Nitori and Anna, but then suddenly Nitori finds that he might like Yoshino instead, and with Doi and Mako possibly having romantic feelings for Nitori, a 2nd season could show the tensions between these characters to make for some good story. Also, I wanna see Chizuru again. I love Chizuru. A lot.
Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000%
Yeah, I said it. Of the guilty pleasure shows I have seen this year, UtaPri has been the most fun to watch with its silly humor, its laughably silly cliches & twists, and its goofy cast of characters ranging from Haruka whose eyes are like staring into a broken urinal and enjoys telepathically speaking with her grandmother, Otoya whose innocence is so cute that it is adorable when he gets frustrated, and Natsuki who can change from creepy yet cuddly bro to a creepy tough badass with the drop of his glasses, to Ringo who is a trap teacher voiced by Yuuichi Nakamura who trades in his usual tough guy voice for something much more bubbily, and SHINING Saotome who is such a boss that he is voiced by Norio Wakamoto. Of course, what made the UtaPri experience the greatest was the community at NicoNicoDounga who made commentary on the show but rather than the other shows which have one or two posters making sly remarks, everyone was eating it up, and everyone was having a hell of a time watching it & laughing at the silliness of it all. I’m really hoping that there will be a 2nd season for everyone to enjoy once again.
Mitsudomoe 2 got the raw deal when it came out as sales for the first season were low, they could only make only 8 episodes of it, and the first episode was hit and miss with the crowd looking to get into the series, even though it was one of the best Super Sentai parodies ever made (HIROSHI!!!!), but the series really ripened with age as the 2nd season tones down on the gross-out humor that turned people away from the 1st season, and instead focuses a lot more on situational comedy with the cast acting off of each other in all kinds of crazy scenarios from Yabecchi having a lonely Christmas party with a love pillow that almost sets the house on fire when colliding into candles on a cake & take-your-parents-to-school day gone horribly wrong, to a sequence where Hitoha struggles to swim only to be knocked off her floatation device by Futaba and have the ending credits parody Titanic & a segment where the kids use an empty pool to do Human Bowling. It’s seriously one of the funniest comedies of last winter.
As I have said before, noitaminA has been real sticklers about giving shows more than 11 episodes, which is more than often why shows like [C], No.6, Hourou Musuko, and Princess Jellyfish are either rushed to the point of needing to create its own ending no matter how poorly it is or feel incomplete and leave a lot to be desired (possibly why Eden of the East needed two movies to finish the story it wanted to tell). However, sometimes noitaminA budges and makes it 22 episodes. One of which was Shiki which I hear is a wonderful horror anime, and another being Guilty Crown which is far from wonderful. Essentially, Guilty Crown feels like a Frankenstein of several different popular shows, such as Evangelion, Gundam, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Angel Beats, and several others but the most glaring of all being Code Geass which not only shares the same jingoistic tale of a crumbling Japan fighting out of the clutches of a corrupt totalitarian Western government hell bent on conquering the world with burger chains and Reaganomics (though it doesn’t have the flair or passion that Geass had to redeem itself), but has made its influence all the more apparent knowing most of the staff on Guilty Crown was part of the Code Geass staff and they were just way too fucking lazy to break the mold when Geass made boatloads of cash, which it will with its 22 episodes, manga, and visual novel spin-off based on the FLEIJA warheads dropped on Area 11- Oops, I mean the bomb that turned people into crystals during Lost Christmas. What must be the worst cardinal sin that this series has committed is that the good guys are unbearably awful people, as Shu is a massive fucking coward, Gai doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but himself, Inori is a two-timer who uses Shu’s innocence to make him feel that she loves him when she couldn’t give a fuck about him and would rather jump Gai’s bones than give Shu the time of day, Hare is Shirley Fennette, Ayase is paraplegic Asuka Langley Soryuu but even more unnecessarily abusive, Tsugumi could easily be replaced with a cardboard standee of a girl with cat ears that’s waved around by a random foot soldier, and Yahiro deserves the most long, painful death the world can offer to him. Hell, the only good characters are Kenji who is Nobuhiko Okamoto so by default he’s cool, Daryl who shoots people for touching him, and Dan Eagleman who is the embodiment of America (they think this is a bad thing and try their hardest to make him doofy but fuck that, Dan “The Man” Eagleman is the boss). Overall, this is a fucking awful show that gets more praise and accolades than it deserves.
Best OST / Soundtrack
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
I wanted to give it to UtaPri because I’ve forgotten it this entire time & I love Starish and the collection of pop songs that came from them, but it could be cruel (or to quote Madoka, “hidoiiiiiii”) not to include the hard work of Yuki Kajiura, who does her all to give the show the right atmosphere at the right time with diverse tracks that match each scene with happy melodies that play around the school they go to, mysterious tones being played whenever Kyuubey discusses the ramifications of being a magical girl, and sinister dissonance whenever something evil goes bumping around. And who could forget the efforts of ClariS and Kalafina, with the former providing a wonderful OP that can either be interpreted musically as somewhat grounded and happy and lyrically as a depressing look into Homura’s conscience, and the latter being, for a lack of better words, FUCKING AWESOME with the wailing guitars and violins creating a dark wall of noise and despair as the talented vocalists contribute to what is already an epic song to raise it even higher than it already is.