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The Top Ten Series – Best of 2011 (Movie/OVA/ONA)

January 3, 2012

Okay, part two of my yearly review, today we’re covering Movies/OVAs/ONAs etc.  I actually had quite a lot of trouble with this list as I feel like I’ve watched a lot more movies/OVAs than usual this year – it was difficult to cut the list to ten.  But cut I did and here it is………usual disclaimer of my including stuff that got subbed in 2011 rather than released applies.

10. Kyousogiga

This only just got subbed in December, but it was such a visual feast that I had to include it – Toei really went to town with the graphics and the direction is amazing.  As a standalone OVA Kyousogiga does suffer from time restraints – there is clearly a bigger story to tell here, but within its limited running time it still manages to cover a lot of things and has a lot of heart in it.  Kyousogiga is pretty confusing plot wise, but it’s more than made up for with its manic energy and the way nothing seems static – not a second is wasted in this OVA.  Well worth a watch for the spectacle alone.

9. Mardock Scramble: The First Compression

As the first of a series of movies, this movie mainly served to lay the groundwork in terms of world building and establishing character traits.  As such it was quite dense, but still full of mature themes and violence.   The movie lays a very solid foundation that hints at very interesting things to come, Mardock Scramble clearly has an intriguing story to tell.  The movie itself is absolutely gorgeous – the animation is smooth and the world design is fantastic.  I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series.

8. Break Blade

This year we saw the final instalments of Break Blade, and while it didn’t quite live up to all its promise, it was still a pretty fantastic series for the action alone.  Seriously, I never got tired of those clunky mecha fights – the way the crystal armour is so strong yet fragile makes for very interesting, visceral fights when the chips of crystal start flying everywhere!  Also Break Blade needed to be on this list for the Delphine’s final weapon alone – a ninja star on a bungee cord…..genius!

7. Gundam Unicorn

So 2011 saw the next two instalments of Unicorn, and these episodes were very much about building the plot and developing the characters.  Once again Unicorn draws upon its deep running UC roots in its desire to showcase the best of Gundam while still bringing things up to date.  We even get another familiar face appear in the shape of Bright Noah – he of the fabled Bright Slap!  Unicorn is still dazzling us with its beautiful animation too, Gundam has never looked so good, and I am definitely enjoying this love letter to the franchise.

6. Carnival Phantasm

Yeah it’s stupid and I don’t get all the segments since I’m not a huge Type-Moon fangirl, but damn if Carnival Phantasm isn’t fun.  My experience of Type-Moon is pretty much limited to Fate, Kara no Kyoukai & Tsukihime, but even seeing the few characters I’m familiar with acting in such out of character ways is pretty hilarious – Carnival Phantasm is basically a load of omake’s strung together.  The animation is quite impressive given this is just a bit of fun – and that OP is way too entertaining for its own good!  Looking forward to more from this – never fails to make me laugh; would love to see some of the Fate/Zero cast in it next!

5. The Borrower Arrietty

I’ll probably get some flak for having this latest Ghibli film so low on the list, but Arrietty just didn’t capture my heart the way it should have.  Technically the movie is stunning, and it perfectly captures the feeling of how large everything is from Arrietty’s perspective, but the plot was really lacking and the main villain was pretty meh.  As eye candy and in terms of acting Arrietty is flawless, but I was expecting to feel a bit more connected to the characters, and it just didn’t happen.  Not Ghibli’s finest movie, but certainly nowhere near its worst.

4. Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail

So we got the conclusion of this OVA this year, and it was amazing how well Madhouse pulled this show’s finale together.  Roberta’s Blood Trail is by no means perfect, but the latter half of the series really delivers on both the action & plot after a less than amazing start.  Roberta’s Blood Trail is definitely more about Roberta & Rock than anyone else – Revy & the other Lagoon members are pretty much side characters, so for those of us really wanting an OVA concentrating on our favourite characters, this didn’t really deliver.  However I still really enjoyed this OVA series – would definitely love another trip to Black Lagoon’s world again soon!

3. Hoshi wo ou Kodomo

Latest Shinkai film sees he of the cloud obsession try something a bit different.  Hoshi wo ou Kodomo (which is much shorter than the English title of ‘Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below‘) is basically Shinkai doing a Ghibli-esque story, and for me it worked exceptionally well.  I personally love Shinkai’s style – 5cm/sec is one of my favourite anime films, so it was nice to see him blend his usual style with something with a bit more character driven plot.  Plus the film just looks gorgeous – those landscapes and skyscapes have to be the prettiest I’ve seen this year!  Hoshi wo ou Kodomo is well worth a look even if Shinkai usually isn’t to your taste – it’s got just enough of everything to satisfy, but just doesn’t have that little extra depth that would make it a classic.

2. Macross Frontier: Wings of Goodbye

The False Songstress sat in this slot last year, and its concluding movie Wings of Goodbye did not disappoint.  There is a lot of silliness and things that don’t make sense in this movie, but above all that, it’s just a damn entertaining ride.  The fantastically elaborate and crazy concert scenes, new songs, loli-goth Alto, THE CORRECT RESOLUTION OF THE GODDAMNED TRIANGLE! and all the little nods to earlier Macross instalments, just made Wings of Goodbye so much fun to watch.  I sat with a stupid grin on my face throughout the entire film and want to watch it again!  A very fitting farewell to Macross Frontier – the strains of VALKYRIA~! continue to echo.

1. Redline

Redline took #1 easily this year.  This movie is just pure style – the orgasmic visuals are pure sex for the oculars.  I think I’ve seen it 2 or 3 times now (one of those viewings was with the SCCSAV crowd which was hilarious) and it just doesn’t get old.  Redline is pretty shallow- it’s basically Wacky Races tripping on acid & steroids, but it does have a lot of heart and interesting characters.  The soundtrack is also amazing (but avoid listening to it when driving – those high numbers start to look a wee bit too tempting) and it’s abundantly clear that this film is what Madhouse had been preoccupied with for so long – the love is blatantly obvious.  If you haven’t treated your senses to Redline yet, do yourself a massive favour & grab it in the biggest resolution possible, watch on the biggest screen you have and whack up the volume – you can thank me later.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

So there you have it – my Top Ten Movies/OVAs/ONA’s of 2011.  Once again there were a lot of movies I really enjoyed.  Honourable mentions go to Norageki, Saiyuki Gaiden, xxxHOLiC Rou: Adayume & Sengoku Basara: The Last Party.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2012 5:30 pm

    Great list, especially the top 5! Children Who Chase Lost Voices… would probably be my no.1; it was everything Ghibli does right, but with Shinkai’s strengths added to the mix. I also loved Redline, Macross and Roberta’s Blood Trail, although as I marathoned the latter alongside the tv series, it’s a little hard to separate them in my head.

    Still, personally I’d replace Arrietty with You are Umasou (fantastic little movie!). I guess as a brit, I’ve seen so many instalments/variations of The Borrowers on tv/film/radio etc that the magical sense of unknown that you usually find with a Ghibli movie was lacking. That’s really my issue and not the film’s (which was a visual treat), but I just can’t rate it up there with the studio’s best *cough Spirited Away, Ocean Waves cough*

    • January 4, 2012 2:04 pm

      I haven’t seen You are Umasou, but I’ve been meaning to check it out as I’ve only heard good things about it!

      I agree with you about the over exposure to The Borrowers though, sort of stole some of the charm away from Arrietty. Still a lovely film, just lacked that childlike wonder Ghibli often evokes in me.

  2. January 3, 2012 7:48 pm

    I didn’t see all of these, but I liked all the ones I did see.🙂 I liked Yozakura Quartet ~ Hoshi no Umi ~ and .hack//Quantum a bit more than Kyousogiga, but if I could pick which one would get a full series, it would be Kyousogiga. Now, I have to watch the Macross movies, too, since so many people have recommended them.

    • January 4, 2012 2:06 pm

      I wasn’t fond of Yozakura Quartet’s OVA – I think the long gaps between episode hurt any kind of tension it could have created. I essentially forgot who the characters were between installments & so didn’t really care about the drama.

      Go watch the Macross films – they’re a lot of fun & fantastic eyecandy.

  3. January 3, 2012 9:29 pm

    I wanted to like Mardock Scramble, but it just tries WAY too hard to be crazy and pulpy without any of the necessary wit to pull it off.

    • January 4, 2012 2:07 pm

      Yeah I felt that too, which was why I had it quite far down. Was tempted to swap it out for the Sengoku Basara movie, but think Mardock Scramble does have some interesting ideas – just needs to sort out it’s storytelling.

  4. January 3, 2012 11:27 pm

    Yay!! Redline! Such a great movie….That is easily one of my favorite SCCSAV moments of the year❤ I can't wait to buy it and show my dad lol I know sounds completely insane…but I think it would work.

    Break Blade- Those movies are fantastic! I had to marathon them with my brother, the first three were decent but the last two were my favorite ones.

    Carnival Phantasm- Good god those make me laugh so much, it is just fun to see a character like Saber who is serious all the time acting different like that episode with her as a maid was awesome! and Gilgamesh…lolol

    Great list xD

    • January 4, 2012 2:09 pm

      It was a really fun SCCSAV watch – high energy films like that just get everyone cheering and talking. You’re showing it to your dad!? Hahahaha~!

      The OOCness of Carnival Phantasm is hilarious – some segments are just gold.

  5. January 4, 2012 6:49 am

    I feel so inadequate. This list made me realized that I haven’t watched any OVA/movies in 2011. Orz

    • January 4, 2012 2:11 pm

      Well it is hard to find time to sit through a full movie or lengthly OVA when you’re extremely busy. Much easier to pick up a chapter of manga or a normal episode of something.

      There were some gems this year though, so I’d recommend searching some of them out.

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