2011: The Year Of Survival Tactics, BAH-SAH-CARS and Satanic Bunny-Cats

Do I have your attention? You out there who will amount to nothing?
Graphic: Stanlick
Decade In ReviewDecade In ReviewAniTAY takes a retrospective on the decade with everything from our favourite moments to remembering how culture evolved.

As I write this, 2011 was only 8 years ago, approximately 56 in dog years, or something closer to three-and-a-half millennia in anime years. Given the typical demographic of anime fans, many reading this may have little idea what came out in 2011, much less if any of it was any good. I hope to help sort the wheat from the chaff as (at the risk of sounding like a pretentious wine snob) 2011 was a very good year.

This will not be an exhaustive list - I’ll only cover the things I’ve seen or those I intend to see. If a show was mediocre garbage or so obscure I don’t know what it is, it won’t be covered. I’ll also try to indicate where these shows can still be viewed in 2019 - but, again, please don’t expect this to be exhaustive. Or even 100% correct. Feel free to post corrections/additional information in the comments below.

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This is the second article in AniTAY’s decade in review series, the first written by Dexomega covering 2010 is here.

First, let’s put the year into context. On March 11th 2011, the region east of Tōhoku was hit by a Richter 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan. The subsequent tsunami with waves up to 40 metres in height swept the east coast of the main island Honshu. The final death toll reached 15,898, with 6,157 injured and 2,531 people missing. 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.

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To add insult to an already grievous injury, the floodwaters caused level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex. Residents within a 12 mile radius were evacuated. This was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Huge volumes of radiation-contaminated water leaked into the Pacific Ocean and an intensive decommissioning and cleanup operation is expected to last up to 40 years. From an anime perspective, this disaster caused broadcast and production delays to multiple shows. That’s a miniscule concern compared to those who lost their lives, their homes, or their loved ones.

Golgo 13: Like an even more ruthless, indestructible, emotionless James Bond. Not an ideal role.model, kids.
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On April 17th, the anime world lost renowned director Osamu Dezaki at the age of 67 to lung cancer. Perhaps best known in the West for serious, gritty works like Golgo 13 (Movie: The Professional and OAV: Queen Bee) and Tezuka adaptation Black Jack (Movie and OAVs), he also directed the Space Adventure Cobra TV series and movie, plus the Key visual novel adaptations Air and Clannad. His anime career began at Mushi Productions in 1963 where he worked under Osamu Tezuka and contributed to the original black and white Astro Boy TV series. His first directorial work was Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe) - the original TV series, sequel series and both movies. His anime output was prodigious, often very high in quality, and very diverse (he directed 4 Hamtaro movies!). He is missed to this day.

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2011 wasn’t all bad news - in February, the Nintendo 3DS was released in Japan, bringing glasses-free 3D technology that would go on to be almost completely ignored for the remainder of the console’s life. The 3DS was home to countless anime-influenced JRPGs and licensed games and only recently has been completely usurped by the Nintendo Switch.

But - enough of real life. Let’s look at some of 2011’s most prominent cinematic anime releases.

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IN GENERAL THIS WILL BE SPOILER-FREE


2011 Cinematic Anime

Shun and Umi in a typical action-packed shot from this breathless and nerve-shredding thriller unleashed by Studio Ghibli.
Screenshot: Studiocanal
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From Up on Poppy Hill: Studio Ghibli, Dir. Goro Miyazaki, 92 mins

Studio Ghibli’s 2011 effort was written and planned by Hayao Miyazaki but directed by his son Goro, whose debut feature Tales of Earthsea was not well regarded by anime fans nor by Ursula K. Le Guin, prominent SF/fantasy author from whose novel sequence it was loosely adapted. From Up on Poppy Hill is a change of pace from broad canvas fantasy to intimate slice-of-life. Pleasantly short at 90 minutes, it never outstays its welcome. Despite its “Universal - suitable for all” certificate in the UK, it does deal with some adult themes such as children born out of wedlock, death of parents in war and even incest. I can’t go into these themes here for fear of spoilers, but suffice to say what initially appears to be a disturbing plot-line is resolved satisfactorily (if in slightly contrived fashion) by the end of the movie. No, this is not Ghibli’s move into creepy little sister pervy incest squick-factor. Thank God. Though I did have an uncomfortable conversation with my very innocent little boy when he wanted me to explain the plot.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: GKIDS. Streaming: Studio Ghibli movies coming soon to HBO Max. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Studiocanal. Streaming: none

Underground aurora - any excuse for Shinkai to make pretty backgrounds
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Journey to Agartha (Children Who Chase Lost Voices): CoMix Wave Films, Dir. Makoto Shinkai, 116mins

Essentially “What if Studio Ghibli, but Makoto Shinkai.” Presumably Shinkai, sick of Mamoru Hosoda being hailed as the next Miyazaki, decided to try and beat Ghibli at their own game. Had I seen the trailer for this without prior knowledge, I probably would have pegged it as a Ghibli movie. Having seen the movie now, I’d describe it as Laputa - Blood and Violence Edition. I know that Shinkai was going for an all-ages general appeal with this, but he doesn’t really succeed. It’s just too weird and bloody. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but my 8-year-old son was mystified by some of the more metaphysical aspects, and I guessed what the final twist would be within the first 30 minutes. It also takes a long time to get started, though when you’re watching a Shinkai film, you know there will always be plenty of very pretty backgrounds to distract you. Although this is less typical of his work than, say 5 Centimeters Per Second or The Garden of Words, there’s still that ever-present longing for someone unattainable that seems to be his main go-to-theme. This time it’s bolted onto a colourful fantasy adventure. I liked it, but can see why this is perhaps one of his lesser works that remains obscure for a reason.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Sentai (out of print). Streaming: Crunchyroll. Digital download/rental: iTunes or VUDU. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: Kaze/Manga Entertainment (out of print). No streaming or rental options. Secondhand disc seems to be the only UK option...

A sweetly understated love story that avoids typical storytelling cliches
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The Princess and the Pilot: Studio Madhouse, dir. Jun Shishido, 100 mins

A relatively obscure movie, it functions as a prequel to 2014 TV anime series The Pilot’s Love Song, currently streaming on Crunchyroll (but not in the UK. Booooo.) I loved this. Such a simple tale, very well told. Charles is an ace pilot from a despised minority ethnic group who is charged with secretly escorting the princess-consort-to-be to safety across the ocean while a war engulfs their home country. Set in a fantasy-tinged retro-futuristic world, the aeroplanes resemble WW1 machines, but they run on hydrogen fuel. Massive floating sky fortresses look like something out of Laputa - Castle in the Sky crossed with S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers. The spectacular aerial dogfights remind me of Porco Rosso but with more intensity. I’ll probably write a more detailed review of this later. Suffice to say, I recommend seeking out this gorgeous, romantic, and melancholy movie.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray: NIS America. Streaming: Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll. Rent/buy digital: Multiple sources. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: none.

Half of these characters are completely inconsequential to the wider story, as expected for this type of film.
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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: The Sacred Star of Milos: Studio Bones, dir. Kayuza Murata, 111 mins

A stand-alone movie spin-off from the 2009 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood series. Where that series was a practically panel-by-panel transliteration of the source manga, The Sacred Star of Milos fits the typical Shonen-Jump-esque filler movie mould with an anime-original story. It’s pretty good but completely missable, adding nothing at all to the overarching story. If you want to spend a couple of hours in a familiar setting with well-loved characters, you could do a lot worse. The action scenes are spectacular, and the story is simple but authentically emotional. I’m happy to have watched it but feel no compulsion to revisit it ever again.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Aniplex. Streaming: Netflix. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Netflix.

I can’t really explain what’s going on here, better to just watch the film and find out for yourself.
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A Letter to Momo: Production I.G., dir. Hiroyuki Okiura, 120 mins

From the director of Jin-Roh, this is a charming and emotional family movie with humorous supernatural elements and principal themes of familial bonds and grieving for lost loved ones. I won’t write more about it when you can go and read my recent review here.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: GKIDS (out of print). Streaming: None. Rent/buy digital: Multiple sources. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Anime Limited. Streaming/digital: none.

So... this looks pretty and innocent, there’s a cute yellow mouse-thing and a nice girl. However this picture does not depict the horrifying violence and bodily mutilation you’ll witness if you watch these films.
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Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion: Studio GoHands, dir. Susumu Kudo, 64 mins.

The second short movie in the hyper-violent Mardock Scramble Trilogy, based on the 2003 novel trilogy by Tow Ubukata. Sentai lost the licence to this in 2018 so it’s currently legally unavailable new in the English-speaking world. Mardock Scramble follows prostitute Rune Balot who is brought back from the brink of death using cutting-edge military-grade cybernetic technology. She’s a broken character, abused and abandoned, so these films plough a dark furrow through some challenging material that may be offensive to some. For example, one of the antagonists “Pussyhand” quite literally has a corpse’s vagina grafted onto the palm of his hand. If you think you can handle that sort of juvenile edgelord garbage, then you might enjoy this otherwise stylish noir sci-fi that takes cues from earlier manga/anime like Battle Angel Alita and Ghost in the Shell. It is far nastier than both of those, however. Not one to watch with your parents (or your kids).

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Sentai (out of print) Streaming/digital: None. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment/KAZE (out of print). Streaming/digital: None.

Good luck finding this one at a sensible price.

Moe is a capital offense in the UK. Arrest them, officer!
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K-On! - The Movie!: Kyoto Animation, dir. Naoko Yamada, 110 mins.

I’ve not seen either the TV series or the movie but I hear it was a big deal amongst that anime fan demographic who enjoy watching cute girls do cute things. This time the girls visit London and presumably proceed to commit acts of cuteness there.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Sentai. Streaming: HIDIVE, Netflix.. UK Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment. Streaming/digital: none


2011 TV Anime

At least 3 of my favourite ever TV anime - all top 10 material - were released in 2011, though it was some years after release that I watched them. In 2011, anime streaming was still in its infancy and I watched the bulk of my shows either on DVD or via less… legal means. Crunchyroll gradually increased its number of licenses year on year (after switching from piracy to legitimacy in 2008-2009), but many shows were completely unavailable to stream in the UK and their complex licences cause problems with easy access even now. Other streaming platforms either did not yet exist in 2011 or had not yet invested in anime. We didn’t even have Netflix in the UK until 2012.

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Saber stands stoically in a dramatic pose while she wonders where her next meal is coming from.

Fate/Zero: 25 episodes

The best Fate anime, that rare beast - a prequel/spin-off that easily surpasses the original. The first cour aired in Autumn 2011. Set 10 years prior to progenitor VN/series Fate/Stay Night, this greek-tragedy-as-anime was based on the novels by Gen “Urobutcher” Urobochi. All the best characters are there - Saber! In a suit. Waver Velvet - he who grows up to be a detective/grumpy professor. Ultimate MILF Irisviel von Einzbern. Warrior for justice/murdering psychopath Kiritsugu Emiya. Creepy priest with emotional issues Kirei Kotomine. “Everything you have belonged to me already” King of Heroes Gilgamesh. Some fans suggest this as a good entry point into the Fate franchise as a whole. I’m not sure I wholeheartedly agree - there’s some serious info-dumping in the first few episodes here, but there are also spectacular fights, sympathetic characters, and brutal plot twists. Production studio ufotable had already proven their mettle with their earlier Type-Moon Garden of Sinners (Kara no Kyoukai) adaptations, but Fate/Zero really put them on the map. Par for the course for any Fate anime, it’s full of barely-coherent jargon and over-explanation but the smart direction and engaging plot make up for this. There’s a reason that Fate is now one of the biggest Japanese entertainment franchises, and Fate/Zero has a hell of a lot to do with it.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Aniplex. Streaming: Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation NOW. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: MVM (out of print). Streaming: Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation NOW.

Yellow girl, black girl, pink girl, blue girl, red girl. It’s basically just girly power rangers, isn’t it? With added existential dread and dickish bunny-cat.
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Puella Magi Madoka Magica: 12 episodes

The second series on this list written by Gen Urobuchi, this is the show that rose the Dark Magical Girl genre to prominence. Starting as a light and fluffy, stereotypical magical girl show, it soon tips its hand at the end of episode 3 and nothing is ever quite the same after. A nightmarish descent into darkness, hopelessness, and despair, this has a clever story, eyeball-meltingly creative production design and a fantastic ending that is only enhanced/ruined (depending on your opinion) by 2013’s sequel movie. January 2020 sees a spin-off anime (NOT a sequel) released, based on the associated Gacha game (of course it is…) This was the first magical girl series I ever watched, though I have to say it did not inspire me to watch any of the more “vanilla” shows. The only other related show I enjoyed was the later Yuki Yuna is a Hero which has a fairly similar tragic tone. I expect Madoka was probably targeted at an audience much more familiar with magical girls shows, but it was extremely enjoyable regardless. My wife even consented to watch it, but she guessed that it was all going to go horribly dark from the outset. She can be annoying like that. I think she must have scored an A+ in Emotional Intelligence, while I scored higher in Weeb Studies. I’m not sure that’s such a transferable skill.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Aniplex. Streaming: Netflix, Crunchyroll. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Netflix.

Left: Rintaro Okabe, self-titled mad scientist. Right: Makise Kurisu: actual scientist. Together: best anime couple. Fight me.
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Steins;Gate: 25 episodes

What is it about tragic anime that attracts me? Bloody hell, I feel like an emotional vampire. It seems unless the characters are regularly wailing in existential suffering, then I’m not interested. Steins;Gate is fantastic. It starts slowly, with slice-of life moments, kooky characters, and goofy humour. Then it transmogrifies into a nightmarish, intense, and prolonged psychological torture session for main character, time-machine-inventor, and self-proclaimed “Mad Scientist” Rintaro Okabe who must cross timelines to wipe out each and every one of his mistakes in order to save the lives of the people he loves. My eldest son and I binged the entire second half of this series in one go, it is that good. 2018’s sequel/midquel/whateverquel Steins;Gate 0 has its inspired moments too, but the original is definitely the best. Okabe and Kurisu are the best anime couple, and I’m not too proud to admit their story made me cry more than once. And Mayuri must be protected from all harm. Many folks seem to be put off by the characters and slow pace of the first half - but stick with it, it is so worth it for the payoff. Familiarity with the other properties in the Science Adventure series (all shows with an ectopic semicolon) is completely unnecessary.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Funimation, Streaming: Crunchyroll, Netflix, Funimation NOW. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Crunchyroll, Netflix, Funimation NOW.

Left: Barnaby Brooks: superhero. Right: Kotetsu Kaburagi: superhero. Together: best anime couple. Fight me.
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Tiger & Bunny: 25 episodes

Anime superheroes 101. Why wasn’t this bigger than it was? It shares so much DNA with later series My Hero Academia, except in this case both main protagonists are adults. I don’t think this was ever available for streaming in the UK and the discs are now out of print, so I had to buy this second-hand. Shame, as this was a great series, lightweight but very entertaining. I hope someone license-rescues this. Veteran superhero Kotetsu Kaburagi (Wild Tiger) is becoming less relevant as he ages and his power wanes, so he is assigned a younger, flashier partner, Barnaby Brooks (Bunny - a nickname he hates), to revitalise his career. The series is set in an alternative 1978 where super-powered individuals called “NEXT” are hired by “Hero TV” and filmed making arrests and saving people, their CGI-generated costumes emblazoned by sponsors’ logos. Although it is fairly episodic to begin with, there is a slow-burning story of corporate wrongdoing and personal tragedy that builds to an exciting climax. It isn’t deep and it isn’t particularly clever, but it does the job of providing generally uplifting and unchallenging popcorn entertainment. The characters are more memorable than the story, which is left with multiple dangling threads that I don’t believe were ever resolved in the follow-up movies.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Viz media. Streaming: Hulu, Netflix (censored), Digital download: Amazon Prime. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment/KAZE (out of print). Streaming/digital: none.

UK Viewers are Screwed.

Come for the kawaii penguins, stay for the non-consensual underage lesbian bondage.
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Mawaru Penguindrum: 24 episodes

What do you expect from the series Kunihiko Ikuhara made after Revolutionary Girl Utena? (A long time after.) Full of symbolism, repetition, bonkers musical numbers, bright colours, fantastic animation, gorgeous production design and complex, interlocking plots, there’s a straight line connecting from here to his recent series Sarazanmai. If you enjoyed that, Mawaru Penguindrum is similar in many ways. Trying to summarise the plot coherently is probably an exercise in futility, but it boils down to this: non-identical twin brothers Shoma and Kanba live with their younger sister Himari who is suffering from terminal Anime-itis that is going to kill her (it never specifies what her disease actually is). She dies in the first episode and is then mysteriously resurrected by a goofy novelty penguin hat and is possessed by what initially appears to be a pink-eyed alien princess. Said princess demands the brothers find “The Penguindrum” to keep Himari alive, but does not specify what this might be. So is set into motion a tall story involving creepy stalkers, love tetrahedrons, sort-of-semi-but-maybe-not-but-probably incestuous yearnings, sham marriages, jealous murderous lovers, discarded children, terrorists (with some very on-the-nose references to the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas subway attacks), a diary that tells the future, DESTINY!!!!, SURVIVAL TACTICS!!!!, fruits of fate (apples), dangerous puffer fish ingestion, ping-pong bullets that cause amnesia, sinister black bunny rabbits, and pink-haired bishounen. With countless scenes where it’s hard to tell what is to be taken literally or metaphorically, it’s far too much to take in on one viewing and I felt unwell after cramming the series into 3-4 days. I’ll probably have to go back to it. In. Very. Small. Doses.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Sentai. Streaming: HIDIVE. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment/KAZE (out of print). Streaming/digital: none.

UK Viewers are Screwed.

I love these adorable dorks. If you play the game, you will too. If you only watch the anime... perhaps not so much.
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Persona 4: The Animation: 25 episodes + 1 OVA (episode 26: true end)

Fantastic game, superb soundtrack. Passable, entertaining adaptation. I preferred 2018’s Persona 5 anime, perhaps because I felt more connected to the concepts explored in the story. The cinematic Persona 3 movies are pretty good too, with a much darker tone. Persona 4 is generally a lighter story. It has some wonderful characters though, so this is a good way to spend more time with them. I can’t imagine why a non-game-player would want to watch this, as although it tells the story well enough, it is so very clearly a game adaptation. You’re just as well to play through the game and develop a far deeper attachment to the characters, as the story is just not strong enough to maintain attention without these bonds. This is still a better show than the later Persona 4 - The Golden abomination.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Sentai. Streaming: HIDIVE. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment/KAZE (out of print) Streaming/digital: None.

UK Viewers are Screwed.

One of these kids is not like the other ones, one of these kids is not quite the same...
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Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day: 11 episodes

A short series penned by Mari Okada, whose recent O Maidens In Your Savage Season was reviewed by AniTAY here and whose recent movie Maquia I reviewed here. This will be released on disc in the UK for the first time in early 2020 but is available to stream already. I’d never heard of this series until recently, but watched it on the recommendation of Nomadic Dec from the AniTAY chat. Dec, you are a bastard. This show made me cry like a baby. Both sad and uplifting at the same time, this is a beautiful-looking anime with an offbeat but very relatable story. Jinta is a teenage boy who seems to have given up on life. He lives with his overly relaxed father who doesn’t even challenge him for his constant truancy. Jinta’s mother died some years previously and when his best friend Menma died in a tragic accident some time later, Jinta’s life just… stopped. I won’t spoil the plot as I valued entering this show completely blind and unprepared for the strong emotions it evoked about the value of friendship and the tragedy of growing up and away from your childhood friends. Note there is a movie available on Blu-ray in the US that looks like a cross between a sequel and a compilation. I’ll have to check it out. Once my tears have dried and my cheeks stop puffing out.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Bluray: NIS America/Aniplex (both editions out of print). Streaming: Netflix, Crunchyroll. UK: DVD/Blu Ray: MVM (due Jan 27th 2020). Streaming: Netflix, Crunchyroll.

Deunan Knute models the regrettable “scouse brow” trend. If you know what this is, it’s already too late for you. You know the horror.
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Appleseed XIII: 13 episodes/2 heavily-edited digest movies

Yet another adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s seminal 1980s hard SF manga, this is a 13-episode CGI series that was also edited into a pair of cinematic movies. Although I own the DVD, I’ve not yet seen this. I hear the CGI is pretty hit-and-miss, along with the story. So far this manga has been adapted five separate times, with four different continuities. None of which follow the manga’s story. What, can I ask, is so difficult about this? 1988’s OVA is self-contained and average. The 2004 and 2007 Shinji Aramaki-directed movies Appleseed and Appleseed: Ex Machina (produced by John Woo!) at least share a storyline, but unconnected to the previous OVA. XIII shares some of the same production crew, including Aramaki as director, but reboots the story. More recently, Appleseed Alpha reboots the story AGAIN but as a prequel in a different continuity. I hate this approach to entertainment properties. The manga was one of my favourites as a teen, and so far no-one has adapted it right. I feel like going to sulk in my room.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Funimation. Streaming: Funimation NOW. Digital rental/download: Amazon Prime. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: Manga Entertainment. Streaming/digital: none.

Cute child parenting: the anime. Thank God it doesn’t progress any further than that premise.
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Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop): 11 episodes

The manga has an infamous ending that makes weebs scream a special type of high pitched noise reserved only for those most WTF? plot twists. Let’s just say that this charming slice of life show about a 30-year old single man giving up his job to bring up the illegitimate child of his grandfather ends before the point in the manga that shits all over what went before. I’ve not yet seen the show, but at the time it was hailed as one of the best anime of 2011. Let’s be grateful they didn’t make a second season. You know, my wife bought me the manga as a Christmas present one year. I only recently plucked up the courage to tell her how that worked out.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: NIS America. Streaming: Crunchyroll. UK: DVD: MVM. Streaming: none.

So... this looks pretty at least. I really must get around to watching it.
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Chihayafuru Season 1: 25 episodes

A sports anime about “Karuta” - a poetry/literature card game. Season 3 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and HIDIVE. Apparently this show is wonderful. I’ve never seen it. It’s been on my list for years. This is probably a good time to catch up. There’s no physical release in the UK, but at least all 3 seasons are available to stream.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Sentai. Streaming: Crunchyroll, HIDIVE. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: none. Streaming: Crunchyroll, HIDIVE.

I can tell by looking at it that this is just not my sort of thing.
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Baka and Test Season 2: 13 episodes

I’ve never seen this. The first season of 13 episodes aired in 2010. My eldest son watched this when he was about 14 - i.e. the target demographic, and he loved it. I hear it is chaotic and funny but probably isn’t my scene as most school comedies bring me out in a rash.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Funimation, Streaming: Funimation NOW UK: DVD/blu-ray: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Funimation NOW

This picture brings me out in shivers - and not in a good way.
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Future Diary (Mirai Nikki): 26 episodes (+OVA)

As recommended by Stinolez. The source of pink-haired yandere girl memes the world over, this show sounds like an insane cross between Platinum End (manga by the team behind Death Note) and Eden of the East shot through with a dash of Doki Doki Literature Club. A group of characters are selected to battle it out to succeed to the throne of God, and all are given the ability to predict the future using their cellphones. Of all the shows listed in this article, this appears to be one of the most difficult to access in the UK, with the discs long out of print and very overpriced on the secondhand market. It isn’t streaming anywhere here either. It looks really good though, so those lucky US people with access to streams and discs should check it out. Pity, I’ve a thing for pink-haired anime characters too.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Funimation. Streaming: Crunchyroll, Hulu, Funimation NOW. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: KAZE/Manga Entertainment (out of print and impossible to find). Streaming: None.

UK Viewers are Screwed.

“Saya... you’ve, uh... you’ve got some... blood... on you.” “Don’t worry, this happens all the time. This show is called Blood, you know. It’d be weird if I was splattered in other bodily fluids, right? Wrong genre.
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Blood-C: 12 episodes

A spin-off of 2000’s Blood - The Last Vampire. This is an odd franchise, beginning as a 45-minute theatrical feature by Production I.G., it was one of the first anime to be released primarily in English (It was set on a US airbase on Japanese soil). It was followed by a manga sequel, a trilogy of light novels and two video games - one for PS2, one for PSP. In 2005 came the 50-episode Blood+ TV anime series, apparently only loosely connected to the previous entries. A poorly-received live-action film followed in 2009. That leads us to this CLAMP-led 2011 series, where apparently the horrific violence it contains was a very deliberate stylistic choice. Hmmm. I have not seen this, but I’ve heard this has one hell of an ending. I’m unsure whether this is good or bad. Online, this seems to be a divisive series. A 2012 movie Blood-C: the Last Dark acts as a definitive conclusion, though is renowned for being tonally different to the series.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Funimation. Streaming: Funimation NOW. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Funimation NOW.

Now this is what I needed to survive the weeks-long marathon required to complete the viewing needed to complete this article.
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Deadman Wonderland: 12 episodes

A Studio Bones adaptation of a 13-volume manga, the show covers only the first 5 volumes of story. This has been on my watchlist forever. Maybe one day. All I know about it is that it seems to star Boob Target Girl.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Funimation. Streaming: Funimation. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Funimation.

So... overcompensating for something with that, mate?
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Guilty Crown: 22 Episodes

Looks similar in tone/story to Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. I know very little about this Production I.G. show other than it seemed to be pretty popular and the ending was divisive.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Funimation. Streaming: Funimation. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Funimation NOW.

Um... so i hope I haven’t totally spoiled the ending or something with this random image I found.
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Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing: 21 episodes

I really liked the original 2003 26-episode Last Exile series. Apparently this belated sequel wasn’t as good. It follows on 2 years after the conclusion of the previous series but stars different characters, this time on Earth rather than Last Exile’s world “Prester”. The distinctive character designs are by Range Murata. The series was produced as a celebration of Studio Gonzo’s 10th anniversary. Now that I’ve discovered this was actually released in the UK, (they kept that pretty quiet,) I guess I’ll check it out.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Funimation. Streaming: Funimation NOW. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: Manga Entertainment. Streaming: Funimation NOW.

Attack of the glowy-haired people
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Wandering Son: 12 episodes (10+11 are combined into a single, double-length episode)

Based on the 15-volume manga series by Takako Shimura, only the first 8 volumes were printed in English by Fantagraphics in beautiful hardcover volumes. It follows the story of two children with gender identity issues as they progress through puberty and adolescence. I’ve not yet seen this show, though I have some of the manga at home. Supposedly this is a disappointing adaptation as it cuts out the early part of the story when the children are in fifth grade, and jumps to the point where they enter junior high. I don’t believe it concludes the manga’s story either. It looks to have a very washed-out/pastel-coloured aesthetic. It’s on my list to watch eventually - the manga, at least, is a tender, emotional story that won much praise when initially published.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: No physical release. Streaming: Crunchyroll. UK: No physical release. Streaming: Crunchyroll.

Cyclops is disgusted with himself for agreeing to appear in this. His expression screams “I’m going to go burn some puppies with my eye beams after I’m done here.”
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Marvel Anime: 12 episodes each

Oh dear God, kill it with fire. These three Madhouse anime adaptations of prominent Marvel properties Wolverine, X-Men and Blade follow Autumn 2010’s Iron Man anime. Apparently these series were handed on to the production studio’s most junior staff as none of their seniors gave a crap about licensed American superheroes. This went about as well as you’d expect with dull, uninspired shows that are memorable only for their offensive mediocrity.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD: Sony. Streaming: None. Digital download: Amazon Prime. UK: DVD: Sony: Buy all 4 misjudged Marvel Anime series in 1 box set for £4.99. Even that small sum is too much to pay for this crap and should clue you into these series’ value. Streaming: None. Digital download: Amazon Prime.

It’s like an anime My Two Dads but more demonic.
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Beelzebub: 60 episodes

So I asked the AniTAY chat for recommendations of what I should cover in this 2011 year in anime article. Our own trusty purveyor of all things terrible, Requiem, recommended this high school comedy about a delinquent who finds himself caring for the infant child who will become the next Lord of Hell. Sounds like a funny premise, right? Unfortunately the humour is ridiculously juvenile lowest-common-denominator slapstick repetitive garbage. The baby Beelzebub is almost identical to my least favourite Lum: Urusei Yatsura character - levitating child irritant Ten-chan - except instead of breathing fire, he electrocutes people like his cousin Lum. Someone must have liked this show though, if it lasted 60 episodes? I was out after one. There’s only so much naked-satan-baby-penis one can stomach in one sitting. That sounds a lot worse than I intended it to.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Discotek. Streaming: Crunchyroll. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: None. Streaming: Crunchyroll

That’s certainly a fashion statement. What exactly it’s trying to state i couldn’t even begin to guess.
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Is this a Zombie? Season 1: 12 episodes (+OVA)

This show is brought to you via another recommendation by Requiem. I believe the picture above tells you everything you need to know. Apparently it is a hilarious zombie comedy. I have not watched it yet, but I got the DVDs for both seasons in a recent sale. Req, if this one is also bad you owe me £20 and my time back.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: Blu-ray/DVD: Funimation. Streaming: Crunchyroll, Netflix, Funimation NOW. UK: Blu-ray/DVD: MVM. Streaming: None.


2011 Anime OVAs

If you can name at least 20 of these characters plus recite their True Names/Alignments/Noble Phantasms/Magecraft Specialties/Personality Types then perhaps this is the show for you.
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Carnival Phantasm: 12 numbered episodes + 4 specials

These are Comedy OVAs that skewer the Type-Moon/Fate-verse (Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, Fate/Extra, Tsukihime, and Melty Blood) in short 12-20 minute episodes. Carnival Phantasm is a mixed bag with some extremely humorous bits, a lot of very obscure in-jokes, many of which are not funny. However I love Grail-kun and his sinister gift of a carving knife to whoever comes to him for advice. Berserker’s first shopping trip is hilarious. Poor Lancer never gets a break, and the inspired clip show where he attempts to avoid repeated certain death is very funny. Ever wonder what would happen if Shirou Emiya tried to date everyone at once? Or chose his “Best Girl” instead? The results are hilarious and/or deeply unsettling. In this show, witness the origin of Assassin as a cardboard cutout meme, Ilya’s “BERSER-CAR!!!” plus the genesis of Maid Saber Alter. Turns out Gilgmesh has a thing for domineering women. Shinji is trash and this show knows it. Overachiever tsundere mage Rin can’t do technology and a Blu-Ray drive defeats her. I don’t like the weird cat people, nothing they do is funny. Taiga is irritating in every version of Fate. Everything I learned about Tsukihime I learned from Carnival Phantasm. If you understood even a third of what I just said, you’ll probably find something to laugh at in this show. Expect to spend entire episodes scratching your head in confusion at humour that doesn’t always land, even if you know the references.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: You’re kidding, right? UK: Ha ha, no really?

No official western release. Try Youtube.

Shiki ponders the meaning of it all. Even after watching the entire series six times through, she’s still not entirely sure.
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The Garden of Sinners - epilogue (Boundary of Emptiness/ Kara no Kyoukai)

The 33-minute capstone to the Kinoko Nasu-written (Fate, Tsukihime) 8-part Garden of Sinners saga (until Future Gospel: Recalled Out Summer and Future Gospel: Extra chorus were released in 2013.) This is a very special series that requires close attention and a lot of patience as some of it is very slow and obtuse. Imagine Fate but without the humour and told mostly out of chronological order. Obviously do NOT start watching with the epilogue!

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Aniplex IF YOU HAVE MORE MONEY THAN SENSE. Streaming: Crunchyroll. UK: DVD/Blu-ray: MVM: reasonably priced. FAR MORE SENSIBLE TO BUY UK DISCS AND A REGION B BLU RAY PLAYER. YOU WILL SAVE A FORTUNE. Streaming: None.

“What do you mean he’s still my brother? He sounds completely different! He’s definitely possessed. I’m fetching the salt.”
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Supernatural: The Anime: 22 episodes (9 anime original, 1 based on comic, 5 based on season 1 episodes, 7 based on season 2 episodes.)

So this is a weird thing. Based on the first 2 seasons of US TV behemoth Supernatural (only now in its 15th and final season), I don’t believe this was ever broadcast on US TV, nor was it particularly well publicised. Jensen Ackles only voiced a couple of episodes as his character Dean Winchester (the others were voiced by some rando), while Jared Padalecki voiced all of his episodes as Sam Winchester. Who exactly was this made for? I have the discs but haven’t watched them. The pedigree is pretty good, this was a Studio Madhouse production, but then so were the Marvel anime shows.

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Where to watch in 2019: US: DVD/Blu-ray: Warner Brothers. Streaming: CW Seed (whatever the hell that is). Digital download: Amazon. UK: DVD/blu-ray: Warner Home Video. Streaming: no. Digital download: Amazon

This has been my homework for the last few weeks. I… don’t… think... I... can… anime… any… more...
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Availability conclusions:

US: Almost everything is still easily available either digitally or on disc. Some shows’ discs are running low in numbers on Amazon though.

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UK: Anything licensed from Sentai by KAZE and released via Manga Entertainment is now in licensing hell with no reprints, and the discs from vanishingly small initial print runs now command extortionate prices on the secondhand market. Yeah, good luck with that. If it was licensed by NIS America, it probably won’t stream in the UK. If we’re lucky, we might get a home release. Lots of good shows owned by Funimation stream on their unbelievably shitty Funimation NOW platform that continues to completely fail to function for me on PS4 and crashes frequently on iOS. Think they’ll sort this out for PS5?

I hope I’ve inspired you to dig out some of these ancient, antique shows and find something you enjoy. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for the rest of AniTAY’s decade in review articles to come over the following weeks.

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Thanks to TheMamaLuigi for invaluable editing assistance, to Stinolez, Nomadic Dec and Requiem for content suggestions.

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You’re reading AniTAY, the anime-focused portion of Kotaku’s community-run blog, Talk Amongst Yourselves. AniTAY is a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. To join in on the fun, check out our website, visit our official subreddit, or follow us on Twitter.

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