RABUJOI’s Top 15 Anime of 2011

Because RABUJOI started up at the start of the Fall 2010 season, we only compiled complete reviews and ratings for 15 2010 shows (two more were dropped). We watched series throughout 2010, but did not yet have RABUJOI up and running in earnest until Fall, so we had to approximate ratings for our Top 15. However, RABUJOI has been in operation for the entirety of 2011. We watched and assigned reviews to a total of 31 series, and dropped ten more. So without further stat-ado, here are our Top 15 of 2011, by their average episode rating:


15. Dantalian no Shoka (3.542) – Gorgeous Victorian aesthetic, with magical mysteries and plenty of Gainax weirdness.


14. Kamisama Dolls
 (3.615) – For most of its run, the hero sits back and lets his little sister be the hero…and that’s okay!


13. Kamisama no Memo-cho (3.625)
– J.C. Staff serves up a deeper, slightly darker alternative to Railgun and Index.


12. Usagi Drop (3.636) – Extremely realistic depiction of the trials of taking care of a little kid, without coming off as annoying.


11. Blood-C (3.667) – Like Shiki, it’s gorey, chilling, addictive, and not what you initially thought.


10. Hanasaku Iroha (3.692) – Excellent slice of life, fantastic ensemble cast, charming setting, and a healthy dollop of romance.


9. Deadman Wonderland
 (3.708) – A hellish scenario in which pretty much everything bad that can happen to a kid…does.


8. Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam (3.727) – GONZO returns with a gorgeous sequel that does the original – one of our favorites – justice.


7. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (3.750) – Don’t let the cutesy-looking characters fool you – Shinbo crafts a dark, broody, time-bending Magical Girl tale we can get behind.


6. Ben-To (3.833) – A supermarket fight club where the prize is half-priced food? Yes, please. Especially when the battles are as lyrical as they are zany.


5. Guilty Crown (3.864) – Copious eye candy and tremendous action setpieces more than make up for ho-hum characters and scenarios.


4. Chihayafuru (3.875) – Who thought an obscure game could engender such strong appeal. Some of the best characterization of the year certainly helped.


3. (Tie) [C] (3.909) – When your future is your currency, caution is warranted. Consistently impressive and imaginative.


3. (Tie) Un-Go (3.909) – A classic mystery literature-sourced success story.


2. AnoHana (3.955) – Genuinely moving teen drama about old friends reconnecting, with some help from a ghost.


1. Mawaru Penguindrum (4.000) – The only series to earn a perfect rating for its entire run – all the more impressive as it ran for 24 episodes. So far, it’s the anime of the decade.

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2011 So Far – in chart form

We like charts here on RABUJOI. This one plots the ratings of all the anime series we’ve reviewed so far in 2011. We’ve included Summer 2011 series, even though we’ve got 5-6 more weeks of episodes in those seasons. When the Summer season does conclude, we’ll update this chart.

So what do we see? Well, while we deem a 2.5 rating to be “Average”, our actual average is closer to 3.5, which we deem “Standout”. This is because there’s a lot of anime out there, but we try to only watch the best. There are exceptions, of course: the main outlier here is Morita-san wa Mukuchi, which rates just above 2 or “Mediocre” (UPDATE: As of episode 7, we’ve dropped Morita-san :P). There are a lot more series out there we’d probably rank this low or lower, but we don’t have the time or the stomachs to sit through them.

So why do we watch Morita-san wa Mukuchi? Well, it’s only three minutes long; hardly a major investment. So it isn’t that we rate high. We just watch series that regularly deserve above-average ratings. Thus when a truly brillant series comes around – like AnoHana or Mawaru Penguindrum, you’ll see a lot of 4s. At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. We also just like charts. Did we say that already?

Fall 2011 Season Preview

The first season RABUJOI reviewed in full gear was Fall 2010. We perhaps chose too many series to watch; some would not pass muster this time. By the time our one-year anniversary rolls around, it looks like we’ll be in store for another sizable batch of series.

There are many promising series coming, none we’re looking more forward to than GONZO’s first anime since the pretty but ultimately ho-hum Shangri-La. This time, they appropriately went with a past strength in the Last Exile franchise. We urge anyone interested in awesome steampunk to take a gander at its 2004 predecessor, it’s one of our all-time favorites.

Other sequels of note: Bakuman, which we enjoyed thoroughly and couldn’t possibly pass up; and the restaurant slice-of-life Working!!. There’s also a new Gundam – and this one may mark some changes to the classic formula – we’ll see. We saw a six-minute preview of Mirai Nikki back in December – this fall we’ll see what it’s all about.

The only summer carryover will be the excellent Mawaru Penguindrum, which means other than that one series, our schedule will be wiped clean when October comes around. We still believe one or two series below will be sacrificed so that we may have time to sleep, eat, and socialize. To that end, titles marked with an *asterisk  constitute our “maybe” pile.

Bakuman 2 – J.C. Staff – Autumn – NHK-E
Ben-To* – David Production – Autumn – TBA
C³ – CubexCursedxCurious* – SILVER LINK – Autumn – TBA
Chihayafuru* – Madhouse – October 4, Nihon TV
Guilty Crown – Production I.G. – October – Fuji TV/noitaminA
Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – GONZO – October – TBA
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE* – Sunrise – October 9, MBS/TBS
Mirai Nikki – asread – Autumn – TBA
Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle* – Sunrise – Autumn – NHK-E
Tamayura ~hitotose~ – Hal Film Maker – October – TBA
UN-GO – Bones – October – Fuji TV/noitaminA
WORKING’!! – A-1 – October – Yomiuri TV

Summer 2011 Carryover:

Mawaru Penguindrum – Brains Base – AT/X

Omedeto, Nadeshiko!

Hearty congratulations are in order this morning, as the Japan women’s national football team (Nadeshiko) won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, becoming the first Asian team to do so. If it wasn’t in the cards for the U.S.A. to win this year, I’m glad it was Japan who beat us. The ladies deserved it. The nation needed it. The men’s team will have their chance in Brazil in 2014 (a USA-Japan final is unlikely, but not impossible!), but for now, savor the victory, Japan!

2011 So Far

With most of Spring 2011 all wrapped up and the Summer 2011 season starting this weekend, it seemed a good time to line up all the series that have aired this year (excluding Fall 2010 carryovers) and see what’s what so far:

Episode # : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 AVG

AnoHana 4 4 4 3.5 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3.955
[C] 3.5 4 4 4 3.5 4 4 4 4 4 4 3.909
Hanasaku Iroha 4 4 4 3.5 3.5 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 3.769
Puella Magi Madoka Magica 3.5 3.5 3 4 3.5 4 4 4 4 4 4 3.5 3.750
Deadman Wonderland 4 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.727
Level-E 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 4 4 3.538
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.450
Fractale 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.364
Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 2.5 2 2.5 3.5 3.5 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 4 3.308
Sket Dance (First Half) 2.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3 4 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.308
Ao no Exorcist (First Half) 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 2.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.273
The World God Only Knows II 3.5 3 3 2.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 2.5 3.250
Tiger & Bunny (First Half) 3.5 3 3 3.5 3 3 3 3 3.5 3.5 2.5 3 3.5 3.154

Weekly Average 3.4 3.3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.7 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.8 3.520

Stray Observations:

•  Overall, Spring 2011 was a particularly good season. Even if I included the huge Fall 2010 season in the table above, the top three Spring series would still dominate the podium. Quality, not quantity. Summer 2011 has its work cut out for it.

• AnoHana, just an episode shy of perfection, became a personal favorite. [C] came two shy. These two series couldn’t be more different, but both rocked.

• Best Music: Taku Iwasaki. He provided the excellent score for [C], and has also scored Katanagatari, Gurren Lagann, Soul Eater, etc.

• Hanasaku Iroha sagged a bit in the middle there, but its first half began and ended extremely strong. And even those middle episodes had their charms. Looking forward to the second half this Summer.

• At first I didn’t quite know what to make of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but it quickly found its stride and ended up one of my all-time favorites, despite its relatively modest score.

• Deadman Wonderland has just one episode to wrap everything up. This show deserves a second season. More than Tiger & Bunny.

• Level E and Denpa Onna both involve “aliens” of some kind – and both scored extremely consistent ratings. Moreso if Denpa’s final double episode is a good one.

 In hindsight, perhaps some episodes of Fractale were ranked too high. This is possibly due to the great visuals and imaginative setting, which carried that series.

• I was harsh in the beginning of Kimi ni Todoke’s second season, but perhaps that was just because I hadn’t quite settled back into the romantic futility. As a result, this series had the most rating variation.

• Sket Dance’s only flaw was its opening episode, with its red herring protagonist. Since then it’s been consistently funny and entertaining, so I’m sticking with it.

• I’m also optimistic about Ao no Exorcist‘s second half, but not as excited about Tiger & Bunny‘s. Prove me wrong, Tiger & Bunny!

• The World God Only Knows II took a dip of .167 below its first season. Hopefully, the third season will arrest that downward trend.

• Best Female Seiyu: Winter: Eri Kitamura as Sayaka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Spring: Haruka Tomatsu as Anaru in AnoHana. She was also Megumi in Shiki.

• Best Male Seiyu: Winter: Level E’s “Prince”,  Daisuke Namikawa.
Spring: Tomokazu Sugita as Sket Dance’s “Switch.”

Okage de futatabi!

Everyone here at RABUJOI wish to express our sincere gratitude to you for taking the time to visit us. RABUJOI’s philosophy has been, and will always be to deliver timely(ish) anime reviews for your reading pleasure, and read you have: In the last five months we’ve more than doubled our monthly readership. 2011 has been very good to us and we hope for that success to continue as we near the Summer season.

We’re well aware that there are a seemingly infinite number of blogs out there reviewing anime. We pride ourselves on providing reviews containing wit, humor, information, and correct spelling, and we’re glad you’ve come, and keep coming, to read them. Regardless of how many people visit or read or come back for more, we cannot look at the future of RABUJOI remains…luminescent. So keep reading, and don’t be afraid to post a comment! Thanks again!

-RABUJOI STAFF

Summer 2011 Season Preview

Here’s what RABUJOI will be watching this summer, starting in July. Due to four Spring carryovers, a few summer series may not make the ultimate cut, but we won’t know until we watch. So, without further ado:

Blood-C – Production I.G. – July 8 – MBS/TBS
Dantalian no Shoka  GAINAX – July 16
Usagi Drop – Production I.G. – July 7 – Fuji TV (Noitamina)
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée  Satelight – July 3
Kamisama Dolls   Brains BaseJuly 7 – AT-X
Kami-sama no Memo-cho  J.C. Staff – July 2
Mawaru Penguindrum – Brains Base – July 8 – AT/X
No. 6 – 
BONES – July 7 – Fuji TV (Noitamina)
Morita-san wa Mukuchi  SevenJuly 8 – Nico Nico Douga

Spring 2011 Carryovers:

Ao no Exorcist – A-1 – MBS
Hanasaku Iroha – P.A.Works
Sket Dance – Tatsunoko Production – April – TV Tokyo Kei
Tiger & Bunny – Sunrise – BS11/MBS/Tokyo MX

Spring 2011 Season Preview

The Winter 2011 season was a welcome respite from Fall 2010, with only four shows we felt we needed to watch, plus three Fall carryovers. All seven of these shows end when the Spring 2011 season begins, so it will be a clean slate (Bakuman 2 will come in a later season). If Fall 2010’s fourteen (or was it fifteen?) shows taught us anything, it’s to be more discriminate; giving a few decent-to-great shows our full attention is far better than spreading it out amongst more than a dozen or more of varying quality.

To that end, seven to eight shows will be our limit this spring, so a couple of the ten Spring series below may be dropped before their runs end. Which ones, we have no idea; we always go in as blind as possible, let the anime speak for itself, and decide after two or three episodes. And we will have no regrets. The eleven we’ve chosen here are based solely on their initial synopses, promo art, and in the case of some, the fact they’re sequels to stuff we’ve already watched (God Only Knows.)

Similarly, we won’t be watching any sequels to franchises we’ve never watched, and there are many this season that fit that bill (Kaiji, Gintana, Maria+Holic, Chaos;Head, etc.) There’s just too much new stuff coming up to get bogged down in shows that have already established themselves (though lately we’ve gotten into Haibane Renmei; retro wrap-up pending). So here’s the list. Looking forward to April: leaves, sunlight, baseball, and…the following:

Hyouge Mono – Beetrain – April 7 NHK BS2
Ao no Exorcist – A-1 – April – MBS
Tiger & Bunny – Sunrise – April – BS11 / MBS
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai. – A-1 – April – Fuji TV
C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control – Tatsunoko Production – April – Fuji TV
Sket Dance – Tatsunoko Production – April – TV Tokyo Kei
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko – SHAFT – April – TBS / TBS BS
The World God Only Knows II – manglobe – April
Hana-Saku Iroha – P.A.Works – Spring
Deadman Wonderland – manglobe – Spring