Posted by: Leek | February 9, 2012

Personal Ranking: Favorite Anime Scenes of 2011

So as we all know, I tend to wait until February to do all of my “end of the year rankings”. Why? I don’t really know why but what I want to rank and what makes it into the rankings tends to hit me a little after the year finishes out. This year I decided to something a little different from just a straight out series rankings.

What was the result? I decided that it would be better to pick out my favorite scenes that appeared in different anime I watched throughout the year. I did this because just creating a “Best Anime of 2011” list is always difficult and tends to based on a extremely broad criteria. Picking favorite scenes, however, came down to easier criteria and allowed me for a less severe bashing in of my brain to come up with.

And since I’m obviously highlighting any scene from a series it means spoilers. So proceed with certain caution. But let’s push forward anyway.

Rank in: Ten
Anime: Kaiji Season 2
Episode: One
Scene: Kaiji vs. Beer

The fact that this scene was ranked at number ten proves a bit of how high I hold a lot of the following scenes. I was incredibly excited when I heard Kaiji’s second season oncoming and the return of everyone’s favorite over the top apocalyptic gambling action series. But of all the scenes from a show about gambling, why a scene of Kaiji fighting…beer?

For one, I will admit that this scene was already a favorite of mine. When my friends told me it was in the opening episode of this season, I was excited. And there was no way they could have done the scene better.

The scene, for me, will forever be one of the several great examples of Kaiji’s amazing and perfectly over the top voice acting. Fumihiko Tachiki was given his usual high energy narration roles to accompany Masato Hagiwara’s ever amazing depiction of Kaiji. Both in this scene work together to remind the viewer just why you love watching Kaiji. Not only that but the scene itself acts as a great reminder as to what a useless main character Kaiji actually is. In other words, it was just a priceless opening to the series and displays Kaiji’s ability to over exaggerate just about anything.

Rank in: Nine
Anime: A-Channel
Episode: Eight
Scene: Best friends reunited

It was really hard for me to choose one stand out scene from A-Channel. As an anime I generally felt A-Channel was made up a host of really great moments and generally told a great story of friendship every episode. But in the end I realized the fight between Tooru and Run was one of the stories that really struck a chord with me.

As an aside, it’s important to know that I watched the entirety of A-Channel with a long time friend of mine. While we don’t quite have a Tooru/Run relationship, we had an albeit fun time of relating to most of the shenanigans of the pair. In general, the rooftop scene with Tooru and Run where they remind one another of their bond was a testament to good friendship. As friends you’ll always have your disagreements from small to large but good friends just aren’t the same when they’re apart. But the ability to make up and laugh about it afterwards is that telltale sign of real kinship. I think watching A-Channel with my good buddy really brought us close together again and reminded us of all the strange things that happened over the past years we knew one another. And while I feel I’ve watched a lot of friendships in anime there was something about how A-Channel framed them in it’s different scenes (this being no exception) that made it truly a joy to watch.

Rank in: Eight
Anime: 30-sai no Hoken Taiiku
Episode: Six, Lesson 19
Scene: The inner workings of masturbation

30-sai no Hoken Taiiku was a anime of pure sexual jokes told with a host of strange euphemisms and parodies. Most of which yielded a lot of hilarious and stupid results. On another silly note it was also the second show during it’s season to feature narration from Fumihiko Tachiki (Kaiji, of course, being the other). Generally, this was an obvious choice for me but I was on the edge to do one of the many parody scenes instead.

So why this scene? It’s placement? Just because? Masturbation is funny? Probably all of the above. Among all the parodies, sex jokes, fake censorship, and what have you, the masturbation scene was just flat out funny. Yes, it was a euphemism but it’s not like they didn’t make it obvious. And maybe that’s why it was so funny. 30-sai no Hoken Taiiku really knew it’s target audience and never quite pulled any punches because of this. But the masturbation scene was really just a play on both realism and euphemism that gave me something I could show to about anybody for a cheap laugh. Maybe it’s just a testament to the fact I’m incredibly immature and like to laugh at terrible sexual humor.

Rank in: Seven
Anime: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
Episode: Eight
Scene: Turning 40

Taking a more serious vein, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko fills the next spot. I’ll admit that I was confused for a lot of the first episodes I watched from Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. I didn’t like it and had it half in my mind to drop it. Still, I felt like there was something redeemable and decided to persevere. Episode 8, much like many of the ending episodes began to provide the “reward” for waiting around.

I won’t lie and say I ever liked Meme’s character at the beginning of the series. She was the static representation of the midlife crisis that is deliberately meant to get on your nerves. But the entire sequence of Episode 8 (and some of the events leading up to it) began to shed a lot of light onto her situation. And her general story of difficulty of coping with losing someone close to her was easily my favorite of the series. It’s never easy to deal with someone close to you deliberately foretelling their own death and it’s not strange for you to want to prevent it. Meme’s grand scheme was truly one of those touching yet bittersweet victories you get. And her finishing line of finally admitting to her age was the perfect resolution to show she had finally escaped part of her past burdens. And nothing really beats a tender family moment.

Rank in: Six
Anime: Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai
Episode: Eleven
Scene: Taka and Sora

Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai (Haganai) was a mixed bag of about everything. A harem and fanservice heavy anime on the surface, it generally impressed me with it’s strange yet realistic personalities. And it was one of the few shows that I avidly got into the idea of settling what “ending” I wanted to see.

From the beginning of Haganai, I shed the idea of pairing together Yozora and Kodaka. In fact I deliberately told my friend that the “best friends” cliche would be unforgivable. As such, I was happy when most of the series was focused on putting Sena before Yozora as Kodaka’s love interest.

After watching Episode 11, I felt that Haganai could have ended right then and there. In fact, I almost wanted it to. Why? To that point I realized that the series had played me up to hate Yozora. Her anti-social behaviors and general ability to ruin every activity firmly assured her a position on my hate list. At least, that’s how I saw it. Somehow at that scene it all managed to unfold and I realized where I had been wrong for most of the series. Suddenly I switched my entire opinion and was happy to end on a reunion between the two friends. Episode 12 would assist a lot of this notion with it’s full telling of the Yozora side but I felt that Episode 11 acted as a great lead in. Had Episode 12 been DVD/BD only or the opener of Season 2, it would have been perfectly fine with me.

Rank in: Five
Anime: Cardfight!! Vanguard
Episode: Fifty
Scene: Kai vs. Aichi Conclusion

For those watching Cardfight!! Vanguard, the general advancement of Aichi’s character was annoying. Aichi’s gradual fall into despair was hard to stomach as he slowly abandoned his heroine role. If you didn’t hate dark Aichi then you probably just really hated his character to begin with. Or it just made you hate him more.

In contrast, I won’t lie in saying that I still think Kai is the true main character. I fanboy him on a regular basis. I get mad when anybody else calls out his “Final Turn” line. I get a hard on when he plays the Dragonic Overlord. Kai is hot stuff and you always look towards him to fix things when the going gets rough. Kai is that unbeatable hero that you always wait to step in during a pinch.

Rolling this all together, I was waiting for Kai to step into his shoes and put Aichi in his place. In other words, the beauty of this scene was simply timing and setup. So many episodes before had been building up to the moment and the production staff made it obvious. Kai using Aichi’s original deck, what cards were played, all of it being held together with JAM Project playing in the background.

Oh yes, Kai strut his stuff. And it was good.

Rank in: Four
Anime: Gintama
Episode: Two-hundred Thirty Five
Scene: Gun…m

I had nearly neglected to put Gintama in this countdown…which would have been criminal really. It’s often hard to choose the greatest moments from Gintama but 2011 had one unforgettable moment in light of it’s return.

The Elizabeth arc. OH, the Elizabeth arc. Gintama is no stranger to parodies but the Elizabeth truly showed the “love” of the production staff. That and the beauty of being blessed with Sunrise as your production studio.

Yes, it had hardly censored music. Yes, both Char and Amuro were voicing their “respective roles”. Yes, they made Gundam joke after Gundam joke. Yes, almost every scene was some Gundam or other Sunrise reference. But alongside all that was a fully animated mecha battle that easily trumps most of it’s modern counterparts. Of course, it’s only because it was a short arc they had to deal with it but to complete the full throwback it was only proper to make sure everything was 100% perfect, right?

The Elizabeth arc might not be the best of the entire Gintama series but it is surely unforgettable.

Rank in: Three
Anime: Uta no Prince-sama
Episode: One
Scene: Starish Debut

There are a lot of ways to start an anime. In fact it’s become acceptable to blow half of your budget on the first episode just to try and rack in the viewers. And some shows just manage to do it better then others.

Uta no Prince-sama’s opening will forever be a staple of 2011. Guys and girls, after seeing it, would jump on the STARISH train and the series popularity managed to soar. And what was there to really hate about the performance of Maji Love 1000%? Presented in the height of the idol boom, it was done up straight and fabulous.

Sometimes things are truly just about timing. Uta no Prince-sama could not have picked a better time to present itself. And with that being said, any following idol focused anime series can only hope to fill the huge shoes it left behind. Well, in certain aspects anyway. Uta no Prince-sama’s opening lands this high spot almost 1000% based on it’s impact. It really just left a stunning impression on viewers and truly did a justice to the idea of starting at full climax.

Rank in: Two
Anime: Yuruyuri
Episode: Eleven
Scene: Our Clubhouse

Yuruyuri managed to be a truly mixed bag of comedy and warm fuzzies. Like all the series I watch I picked it out of hat and decided to roll with it. And, like most series I choose at random (for whatever reason), it really managed to strike a chord with me.

So why pick a serious scene above one of the various humor romps? I really thought hard about it and there were really a few great scenes I left the series remembering. But the real standout was the screenshot above. Now jokes aside, Namori admits the main character position to Kyoko and the anime was framed in that context.

I think most Kyoko fans felt uncomfortable during episode 11. It almost didn’t fit the series. At that point you had really fell in love with the cast and the impact of the situation was easy to immerse yourself in.
And then the diamond in the rough was Yui recalling how the club was first founded. It embodied everything you love about Kyoko as a character and there was that one fluid series of frames of Kyoko simply giving the widest and purest smile ever. I hardly ever get too caught up in how things are animated but this was one of the few times I could feel my heart stop for a brief moment.

Rank in: One
Anime: Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa
Episode: n/a
Scene: Nijiiro no Kuma Kuma

Is this unfair? Maybe it is. Movies are almost entirely different entities from TV series but I can’t write this article without talking about the Nijiiro no Kuma Kuma live from Sayonara no Tsubasa. Now I’m not sure I can accurately describe why this is here other then telling a brief story.

After Sayonara no Tsubasa came out I patiently waited for all my friends to score their copies so we could watch together. That night we all got on Skype and vigorously synced our play times together to the best of our abilities. I really enjoy nothing more then watching certain things with friends and Sayonara no Tsubasa was, no doubt, one of the most highly anticipated things to watch. Luckily, only one person present had gone to see it in theaters so most of us were strangers to the actual results.

I also won’t lie. I ignored the movie album when it came out just to not spoil myself. I went into the movie completely clean and unaware of what would come. All I knew was that the movie came with it’s satisfactions and grievances.

Now when I watch things with my friends we’re hardly quiet…if at all. We got frustrated every time Alto did something stupid or let our blood boil during heated battles. But there was something completely different when Nijiiro no Kuma Kuma started. Complete silence.

So what was happening during that silence? I had been brought to complete and utter tears. I can’t explain why. It’s the same thing when I watch Domon obtain the King of Hearts title in G Gundam. The tears just come and there’s really just no ability to stop them. But is it crying? I can’t say as much. I wasn’t stifling sniffles yet I could feel tears going down my cheeks as I watched the entire performance.

All I can say is Nijiiro Kuma Kuma is Macross. It’s the embodiment of why we all love Macross: space, love, idols, music. It was colorful, it was a performance, and the music couldn’t have been better. You don’t have to love anime to appreciate it. You don’t have to understand Japanese to know what the song is about. At least that was my final judgement after watching it over and over after the group viewing.

Hopefully this is the future we have in store for live performances. Frankly I don’t care about 3D holograms and projections in live performances unless it’s being used to recreate the entirety of Nijiiro no Kuma Kuma. The first person to recreate this entire experience of this performance for me wins my true respect.

Summing it Up
I feel I only wrote this article based on the pretext of how many scenes I loved from 2011. The variety I was able to gather was great and remembering certain series from these scenes put a grin on my face.

So what does 2012 have in store? Who knows. Perhaps I’ll have no great scenes to draw from it like 2011. Perhaps I’ll find scenes that trump what I had enjoyed in 2011. The fun is really living out the year and finding out.

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