Top 10 of Autumn 2011
Okay Autumn is over and we’re waiting for the Winter season to start – time for the traditional list! This Autumn season has been a bit of a mixed bag – for me nothing really stands out from the masses demanding my undivided attention, but there are some shows that are above average & well worth a look. From this Autumn season I watched 17 shows, 9 of which are continuing on for another season (Cara watches all of the animes!).
10. Working’!! (s2)
Second season of Working didn’t manage to surpass its first season, but it wasn’t worse either. Rather this season managed to maintain an even keel, introducing a handful of new characters to shake things up a bit, but for the most part it stuck to its core cast & stock of running jokes. Not a must see, nor is it the best comedy out there, but Working is still pretty fun to watch mainly due to its characters & excellent acting.
9. Bakuman. S2
Another sequel then. This second series of Bakuman has weirdly been much better than season one – I say weirdly, because the material its covering is among my least favourite of the manga! I think it’s because they’ve rolled back the romance a lot this season. Azuki is still there, but she no longer feels like she’s being forced into the story where she doesn’t belong. This season in general feels like it’s a much better adaptation of the manga – well either that or S1 dropped my expectations so much I’m pleasantly surprised by the snappy pacing of S2! 😄
8. Persona 4
I have mixed feelings about Persona 4 – on one hand it’s really nothing like I was expecting, while on the other I’ve really enjoyed the randomness it’s presented us with. I was expecting P4 to be a pretty tense sci-fi thriller as our protagonists try to unravel the mystery behind the serial killings and world through the TV. What I wasn’t expecting was the silly comedy and s’life element that I find myself enjoying more than the serious stuff! P4 is surprisingly fun!
7. Hunter x Hunter (2011)
HxH remake then. On the whole I still prefer the original anime, but this remake isn’t bad at all. There is some feeling that the series has been toned back to be more kid friendly, I’m still not sold on the new voice actors & their tendency to overact and the new soundtrack isn’t a patch on the original, but the essential feeling of HxH remains, which makes me happy. We’re getting to the more interesting aspects of the series now, so it should be interesting to see how this remake deals with an increase in the darker aspects of HxH – however on the whole I’d probably still recommend the original over this remake.
Ben-to was more fun than it had any right being. On the surface it seemed like a puddle deep fanservice show……and it was, but the way the show was hyper-aware of its shallowness and embraced that was just so refreshing. The premise was stupid and farfetched, but watching those epic food battles was just so much fun! Seriously the fight choreography and direction in those scenes was brilliant and more than made up for the random fanservice. The writing and acting was also great, more than making up for the meh character designs, but what really stood out was the eclectic soundtrack which majorly enhanced the watching experience. I’d go back for another serving of Ben-to!
5. Last Exile – Fam, The Silver Wing
While nowhere near as captivating as the original Last Exile, this sequel is still worth watching if only for the glorious animation & backgrounds. Seriously the love poured into creating these fabulous locations and sheer variety of skyscapes on display is nothing short of boggling. Insofar as beautiful looking shows go, this second series of Last Exile doesn’t disappoint. However there are negative points – like the choice of having three moe little girls as the main characters, and the snail-like pacing. There is a ton of potential here, but the writing needs to sharpen up to capitalise on the brilliance of the setting……..also needs more Dio.
Chihayafuru is a show I don’t really get overly excited about every week, but when I’m watching each episode I get completely swept up in it – it’s a strange feeling. It’s a beautiful looking show, and it’s clear that a lot of time and energy has been put into every aspect of the show to make the game of Karuta as interesting as possible. The card game is pretty simple at first glance, especially if you have a good memory, but following Chihaya and her friends quest to conquer the world of professional Karuta players, turns the simple game into something much more complex and interesting. I’m really looking forward to the second half of this show.
3. Mirai Nikki
As I’ve already read the Mirai Nikki manga, a lot of the fun of watching this kind of series is lost – I already know the twists and turns this series delights in dropping on the reader/viewer. Still I’ve really enjoyed this anime adaptation – it’s been a year or so since I’ve read the manga so it’s not completely fresh in my mind and I can enjoy that feeling of ‘oh I forgot that happened!’ every now and then. The anime has managed to capture both the tension & absurdity of the series, and has produced one of the best OPs of the year – definitely enjoying the Mirai Nikki ride again!
2. Fate /Zero
Hard to believe this is the same concept as Fate Stay/Night – Fate/Zero takes everything that FSN did wrong and does it right, starting with giving us a cast of mainly adults. Upping the average age of the protagonists does wonders for a show, the characters of Fate/Zero really feel like they’ve got stories to tell and a lifetime of experience to draw on when making their elaborate schemes. So far Fate/Zero has been very dialogue intensive, something I don’t really mind although ufotable could probably take a few pointers from SHAFT about making long dialogues look more interesting (no more distance shot of a two men slowly circling a third thanks!). Fate/Zero has also given us one of the best side characters of the year in Rider – every time that man is on-screen the show gets x10 better! Unfortunately Fate/Zero decided to just put the brakes on when an epic fight was brewing – it better be damn good since they’re making us wait a full fecking season for the conclusion!
So my top pick of the season is the noitaminA show that didn’t suck – not really surprising. UN-GO had a wobbly start, it didn’t give its mysteries time to build by trying to shove the resolution into a single episode. That thankfully stopped with episode 3 & 4, which have to be two of the best standalone episodes of the year. The smart writing and interesting issues raised by the show just got better from that arc on – of course there were a few meh episodes, but over all UN-GO just felt so much more intelligent than anything else this season – I in no way felt like things were dumbed down or sexed up, the show’s appeal lay entirely in its intelligent writing. Plus UN-GO undoubtably had the best OP/ED combo of the season & arguably the year. UN-GO’s finale didn’t resolve all the questions the show raised, but for once I’m not annoyed about that – the finale was satisfying enough as it was. I am looking forward to the OVA which will give us Shinjiro’s backstory!
There we go, my personal Top 10 of Autumn 2011! Honorable mentions go to Kimi to Boku & Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (for being surprisingly fun despite meh 1st episodes). Biggest disappointment award goes to Guilty Crown with no competition – hard to really grasp just how such a talented team has managed to botch such a promising series this badly.
Okay so that’s that – looking forward to Winter & whatever 2012 has in store for us. Happy New Year!