A Decade of Anime – 2011

2011 is a bit of a weird year for my favourite anime. The choices ended up incredibly varied and we’ve got slice of life, comedy, drama and sci-fi anime all of which left an impact on me but for very different reasons. The sad thing is Season 3 of Natsume Yuujinchou came out but my rules prevented me from adding it to the list but you better believe it would have been my pick for the year. Also, No. 6 came out in 2011 and while I loved it dearly the disaster of an ending meant it couldn’t win its season. With these tough choices made lets look at the list.

The Rules:

No. 1: No sequels of any kind.

No. 2: Only one anime from each season which gave me 4 picks from each year.

No. 3: Other than 2019 anime, no matter how brilliant an anime was if I hadn’t rewatched it since it aired then it didn’t make the list. If I don’t like it enough to watch it more than once then it doesn’t deserve to be on an anime of the decade list.

Incidentally these anime are not the technical best anime of their seasons but are the ones I would pick if I could only watch one anime from that season. They are anime I loved, for whatever reason, and felt deserved to be remembered.

Wandering Son

Wandering Son or Hourou Musuko is an anime I didn’t discover until well after it had aired. While I have watched this one twice I’ve never managed to get my thoughts around it together enough to write a series review. That said, it is an anime well worth remembering well after the year it aired as it takes a very calm look at some big issues concerning gender identity. While there are certainly some rough edges, to see an anime tackling such an issue at the forefront rather than as a side story or through a subplot, and seeing it do it in a relatively non-sensationalist manner was very impressive.

I really enjoyed this anime’s take on its subject matter and feel it is one of those anime worth watching even if the genre and style aren’t your usual interests. Definitely one to add to your watch list if you missed it in 2011.

Steins;Gate

How could it not be? Watching Steins;Gate was an actual experience and one that should not be missed regardless of how you end up feeling about the story. It takes a bit to get going but the quirky dialogue (and there is a lot of dialogue) will keep you dialled in until all hell breaks loose with time travel mayhem. And would you believe I haven’t written a full series review of this anime despite a multitude of rewatches? Something I’ll need to correct later this year I’m sure.

Incidentally, Steins;Gate is one of the few anime I firmly recommend watching the English dub of. Firstly, because it is well acted with the voices matching the characters very well but secondly and more importantly, because if you are reading subs there’s a lot of dialogue very quickly between characters and at times the subs can fill up to a third of the screen and even for someone who reads as fast as me they become a little hard to keep up with. Still, Steins;Gate is a must watch anime regardless of the decade.

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Kamisama no Memochou

Kamisama no Memochou or Heaven’s Memo Pad might seem like a weird choice for a favourite from a season, however this anime is one that impressed me by bringing its threads together for a truly beautiful, if a little bit heart shattering, conclusion. I’m a sucker for a well realised ending and while the journey to that ending in this case is a little bit hit and miss with the story being broken into distinct arcs or cases, the final destination makes if worthwhile. That said, this story about a NEET detective agency where every character is basically a trope of some sort with little fleshing out, isn’t going to work for everyone. Throw in stories of sex trade, drug use and suicide and you have an anime that is definitely not going to appeal to everyone. Still, as I said, this one sticks with me because of its powerful ending and when looking back at the Summer 2011 season, this was the anime that called to me as one I am glad I didn’t miss.

On that note though, if you are on the lookout for something new to watch and missed Heaven’s Memo Pad, it might be worth checking out. There’s some interesting moments and commentary in amongst the somewhat murky presentation. I was sure I’d reviewed this already but apparently I haven’t. I’ll have to correct that.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sakunai

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sakunai also known as Haganai or I Don’t Have Many Friends is a school based, harem, comedy. Needless to say the fact that it was my favourite anime from a season is a little weird given that should be three strikes against it. And honestly, it isn’t exactly revolutionary for any of those genres. However, maybe it was the time and place but when I watched this anime for the first time, something clicked. Anyway, our protagonist Kodaka recently transferred schools and is instantly misunderstood because of his hair colour so doesn’t make any friends. Then he stumbles into a room where his classmate Yozora is talking with her ‘air-friend’ (like an air-guitar). Yozora decides to start a club to make friends with the plan of only her and Kodaka being members, however soon the rich girl Sena shows up and then a whole bunch of other girls. It’s silly and at times the comedy pushes it too far, but I still found this anime fairly enjoyable probably because at its heart it really does try to deal with the issue of feeling isolated for whatever reason.

While this one won’t have universal appeal it is definitely worth trying to see if it works for you. There’s even a season two which seems to focus more on the romance side of things so if you wanted to know where the relationships go at least you know there’s more to the story to watch after season one.

And that concludes 2011 except that it is time for my lovely readers to share their favourite anime from the year that was 2011. Leave us a comment and remember to check out the post tomorrow for 2012.


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Karandi James



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21 thoughts on “A Decade of Anime – 2011

  1. My favourite or second favourite year this decade! (The other is 2013.)

    Shows: Wandering Son, Madoka, Star Driver, A-Channel, Denpa Onna, Hanasaku Iroha, Hyogemono, Dantalian No Shoka, Kamisama Dolls, Nekogami Yaoyoruzu, Steins;Gate, Usagi Drop, Yuru Yuri, Ben-to, Haganai, Chihayafuru, Kimi to Boku, Tamayura

    That’s 17 shows, and I’ve been cutting stuff I’d have liked to add. A really, really good year for me.

  2. Well, on my list it was Madoka Magica so I’m sticking to that. The fact I seem to remember starting to watch it in either 2011 or 2012 (via pirated discs, because this was still a few years before simulcasting became widespread in my world) and took until 2017 to finish it says something about how slow I go…

    I started the manga for Haganai recently and really didn’t think you were the sort of person to like it.

    Othr notable series (which I didn’t put on my “best anime of the decade” post because I was rushing to get the 12 Days done) are Un-Go, Ao no Exorcist and Fate/Zero (which I finished recently).

    1. Haganai is very much outside my usual zone but it clicked for some reason. Un-Go has been floating around my watch list for awhile but I have e just never gotten to it.

  3. I didn’t expect to see Heaven’s Memo Pad on here. Show was decent, but I don’t think I could call it my best of the season in the year. Though, I haven’t looked through what could even qualify.

    1. Good to know. I still don’t know why I like that particular anime but I do know I found it to be very fun to watch. As you said, the characters work very well together to sell it.

  4. 2011 was a stunningly good year for anime. A lot of classics came out. Making a decision as to “best” would just be a lottery for me.

    Not to rain on anyone’s parade but “Stein’s Gate” lost me on its first episode.

  5. I’m going through Wandering Son right now actually. It does tackle a rigid subject and I think the timing of its release left it out in the cold. I’ve started to notice that other people are noticing it more and more possibly because of the growing attention geared towards trans- rights. Respectable choice, I’d still go with Madoka that season though.

    Steins;Gate seems pretty obvious, but Nichijou, Anohana and Sket Dance also aired then so the competition certainly was fierce. Summer I have to go with Usagi Drop and Fall I’d probably lean towards Chihayafuru, but Fate/Zero, Hunter x Hunter and Mirai Nikki also debuted that season. Not an easy year to narrow down choices from.

    Overall I think 2011 was probably the strongest year of anime overall last decade in terms of impact with 2016 right behind it.

    1. Madoka was considered and I do love it but I kind of feel I have moved on a bit from it. 2011 was still a year when I wasn’t watching anime as it streamed so my selection was a little narrower.
      Thanks for sharing your choices from the year.

  6. 2011 was when my Naruto phase ended and my post-Naruto burnout began, so I haven’t actually watched a lot from this year, and I watched even less of it in “real time” when it first came out.

    Winter: Madoka Magica by default, though I’m not that enamored with it. Every time I’ve tried to rewatch it I always stall out around episode 4/5. The other series from this season I’ve been interested in trying for a while is Dream Eater Merry.

    Spring: Anohana, which is also my favorite show of this entire year. This season does have a few other shows I’ve had on my “to watch” list for a long time, though, especially Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth and Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl.

    Summer: Usagi Drop. Another “default” choice, since I didn’t like the only other show I’ve seen from this season (that was Heaven’s Memo Pad – sorry!). If there was anything else from this season I’d ever be likely to watch someday, it would be Yuru Yuri.

    Fall: The only competitive season, I’ll give a slight edge to Fate/Zero over Persona 4 (has it been that many years already?). I do need to watch Chihayafuru, though. I started it once and then it got away from me, but I was really enjoying it as far as got into it.

    1. Don’t worry. I knew Heaven’s Memo Pad would not be a popular choice. I like it but can definitely see why others don’t.
      I also need to watch Chihayafuru. It keeps getting recommended to me but I have never watched an episode.
      Thanks for sharing your picks from the year.

  7. My favorite anime of 2011 was Hunter x Hunter. Does that count since it’s a reboot?

    I think I’m definitely in the minority here, but I HATED Steins: Gate. Literally dropped it after 10 episodes because I couldn’t take another minute of it. I thought the main character was an unlikeable jerk and the plot was too confusing. Am I just missing something that everyone else got? Haha

    1. Both the plot and character make more sense if you get to the end but if you aren’t enjoying it then there’s no need to keep watching. I love the quick dialogue and the way the quirky characters interact as well as the main character’s transformation throughout everything that occurs but he does start out as a bit of a jerk so I can definitely see where you are coming from.
      And reboots definitely count. I still haven’t quite finished Hunter x Hunter. Every now and then I watch a couple more episodes of it and creep closer to the end but then I’ll get distracted. There are some excellent moments in Hunter x Hunter but as with most long running shows there’s also a lot of down time so it probably wouldn’t have made my list even if I’d finished it.

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