I decided to be literal, like I often am, and wait until the very end of 2011 to post this, although it seems like all the cool kids posted their thoughts on 2011 a week ago. I wanted to do a post like this last year but my blog was so new that I decided against it. But since I’ve covered more stuff this year (good lord have I reviewed a lot of stuff) I think its now appropriate to have an end of year wrap-up with my favorites in each category.
Anime: This was a good year for me but honestly every year is a good year for me. I try out enough stuff that I always manage to find some stuff I like, even if I find a lot of stuff I don’t like as well, plus I saw a ton of the classics this year (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, the original Ghost in the Shell). Overall the year seemed fairly average, some great shows, some terrible shows, shows that were better than expected, shows that started out great and then crashed and burned, basically what I expect to happen every year. The only thing that surprised me was the noitaminA timeslot which magically managed to have one rather nice show and one show that just didn’t quite work every season. I have reviewed all of them so I won’t re-hash each show (just search noitaminA in the search bar) but it was frustrating that instead of getting two shows I loved I instead got one I liked and one that left me feeling distinctly unhappy by the time the ending rolled around.
So, before I put up my top five favorite shows (ie five shows I just really enjoyed) I find it amusing that nearly everyone one of them either wasn’t on my to-watch list when the season started or just didn’t catch my eye when I first heard about it. I maintain that a lot of times the best stories are the ones you don’t even know you need and this year really seemed to prove that for anime.
1. Mawaru Penguindrum: I like plot heavy shows with plenty of plot twists and lots of visual symbolism and that fits this show to a T. Not everything was explained by the very end but it gave me a full 24 weeks of ideas to speculate over which is pretty impressive. License please?
2. Steins;Gate- I expected hijinks involving microwaving bananas and instead I got a tightly plotted show which deals with time travel better than almost any other story I’ve seen. Very nice, glad to see that Funimation has licensed it and I’m now curious about the OVA episode that will be included on the last DVD in Japan.
3. Last Exile: Fam of the Silver Wing- Fam and the original Last Exile are two pretty different shows (I’m going to have fun talking about all of that and I actually don’t mean that sarcastically) and between this, the Travelers of the Hourglass manga, and all the information about the old series that is just now (re?)surfacing I’ve got a pretty great fantasy series to keep me entertained every week.
4. Tiger & Bunny-Yet another show where I was surprised to find that it had a strong central plot and it’s the best reconstruction of traditional American superhero tropes I’ve seen. I do think that by now it’s overhyped but I did genuinely enjoy the show quite a bit.
5. Un-Go: I was so worried that I wouldn’t have any noitaminA series to put up this year (I did enjoy Wandering Son, AnoHana, and Bunny Drop but they were just not quite right for this list) and thankfully Un-Go was a surprisingly solid series that really understood how to work a setting and ended up with two of the characters talking about their individual philosophies and pointing out the flaws in both of them. It’s not what I would have thought of as a traditional noitaminA series but in the end it does feel more like a senin/josei work so it’s closer than I expected.
Runners up include the other three noitaminA shows I named (and No 6 if it hadn’t had such a stupid ending), Croiseé in a Foreign Labyrinth, Chihayafuru and Level E. I’ve also decided that next year I’m going to start doing an end of season wrap up each season for anime since I’m noticing that I have a hard time remembering exactly what aired in the winter and spring seasons each year (although those are usually the weaker seasons for me as well).
Books! I found out sometime in late August that apparently some people had taken up the challenge to read 50 books in a year (which is pretty impressive when you remember there are only 52 weeks in a year) and if you count non-fiction, light novels, and re-reads into that total (but not the odd book or two I had to read for school) I just barely made that, whew. Of all those books however, not many of them were published in 2011 (not counting light novels since it’s just a headache to figure out if I should count them by their US publishing date or their Japanese publishing date), I believe I only read four that were published this year: Small Persons With Wings (which I had totally forgotten I had read too, I even have a copy of it from a contest), Mastiff, I Am J, and Huntress which isn’t enough books to make a proper “best of” list. Mastiff would be on that list for sure since I adored the setting and both Huntress and I Am J would be really strong contenders for the list but it also seems unfair to make the list since there are so many books I want to read and haven’t had a chance to read yet, mostly because they all were published during the fall and my libraries haven’t had that much time to get many (if any) of the books. So, the other books from 2011 I wanted to read but haven’t gotten a chance yet: I haven’t read any of her other works but I want to try out RJ Anderson’s Ultraviolet, I should probably track down Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Reese Brennan to finish up that trilogy. Last year I was surprised at how much I liked Star Crossed by Elizabeth Bunce (it was one of my favorite books of 2010) so I’ll be sure to find it’s sequel, Liar’s Moon, once it pops up in a library near me. I suppose I’ll check out Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (I read a little bit in a Walmart recently and it was okay, that and all the fanart I’ve seen from this artist makes me want to continue), The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima (didn’t like the first book so much but the second book grew on me). I read The Shifter by Janic Hardy earlier in the year and just found out that the final book in that trilogy, Darkfall, came out this past year so I want to check out that (plus the middle book), I adored Karen Healey’s first book Guardian of the Dead so I’m excited to read her new (albeit unconnected) book The Shattering. I tried out the 78 page preview of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson and I really want to read the rest of it, I’ve of mixed opinions on her other books but I do want to try out The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and need to read Goliath by Scott Westerfeld to finish up that trilogy. So yeah, I already have started looking up some books that are getting released in 2012 so I don’t get slammed as much next year but I honestly doubt that it’ll help that much.
Comics/Graphic Novels/Manga/Webcomics/Dem books with da pictures in ‘em
Well, I just did just do a whole month on manga I’m reading and I plan on again having an entire month devoted to webcomics so there’s not much to talk about there. As for everything else, again I didn’t really pay close attention to when most of these books were published until only a few months ago and I honestly don’t remember if I read any from this current year or not. I have been surprised at the growing graphic novel sections in all of the libraries I go to and that I am enjoying most of the things I check out but I still just don’t find myself as engaged by plain old comics as I do by everything else.
Like books, there are quite a few movies coming out this holiday season that I really want to see so I don’t really want to make a list here either (plus, I’m trying to figure out what movies will come to my school and which ones won’t and that I need to see now). I want to check out The Artist and Tinker Tailor Solider Spy for sure, maybe Warhorse as well, and I know my school will be showing The Muppets, Hugo, Sherlock Holmes 2, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Adventures of Tintin. I did catch a lot of movies that came out this year but honestly none of them really stood out to me as ones I’ll remember a few years down the road. It’s been a few years since I saw a lot of good movies in a single year, hopefully 2012 will break that cycle.
Finally, TV Series:
Oh my god, I actually saw more than one on-going tv show this year! Between Doctor Who, Once Upon A Time, and Grimm I saw three of them, still not enough for a list but unlike movies this was better than most years since I ended up enjoying all three of these shows. Unlike in the anime department I didn’t get around to watching a lot of older shows on my backlog but hopefully I’ll be able to fix that next year, thankfully my backlog here isn’t as big as the anime one.
And in a nutshell, that was my year in media. Lots of stuff and still not as much as I would’ve liked to see, curse you holiday season movie/book releases! Next year I plan to watch even more older anime series, read whatever looks interesting at the library and not kill myself doing webcomic review month, sounds straightforward enough.