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EVERYONE JOIN HANDS. Darn it Kiritsugu, get with the program! Only on this day, on this internet, are we permitted to celebrate the end of the year every hour as the new year spreads over the timezones like a wave. We must be happy, not violent!

I was thinking about whining about how boring this year was for anime, but then I realized how much I liked the shows I ended up picking as my four favorites. Yep. Not bad at all. It was also a joyous moment when I realized that Heartcatch Precure ended in this year so I can totally include it because I make up the rules as I go. My favorite four series from 2011 are, as pictured, Fate/Zero, Mawaru Penguindrum, Heartcatch Precure, and Usagi Drop. As with my 2010 post, a bit of reasoning for my choices along with my favorite openings and endings follow.

Fate/Zero had me pretty hyped by having a ton of Kara no Kyoukai staff behind it, but I was also rather cautious going into it because of how disappointing Fate/stay Night and Unlimited Blade Works were. And if it helps to show exactly how disappointed I was in these, I was never hyped for them to begin with and I did not read the VN or any related material. I thought FSN was a joke and UBW didn’t even try to make sense. But enough about those, because this is Fate/Zero and Fate/Zero is awesome. Excepting the first episode and the episode where Rin does stuff nobody cares about, of course. Those were rather boring for me.

The animation is, as expected, really awesome for fight scenes. And the way the Holy Grail War is playing out is done in such a way that it’s hard not to get excited about stuff when people talk about stuff. Even if nobody’s actually doing anything. No lamers as main characters certainly helps; everyone is pretty awesome in this. Waver is an exception as he is a pretty lame guy but he’s lame in a normal, believable way. Plus, his interactions with all the awesome people (especially Rider!) just make the scenes he’s in more entertaining. I don’t know what else to say so I guess I’ll leave it at that.

And I’ll open my bit about Mawaru Penguindrum with negativity too. The negativity of the teensiest minority (population: me). I don’t think Utena is a masterpiece. I don’t even think it’s great. I think it’s just nice. I have no idea what was happening, if anything, in the Utena movie because I was being bombarded with an amount of symbolism that I have a hard time believing could have possibly been comprehended by human thought, so I basically ended up hating it. I tried to watch Night on the Galactic Railroad (which I hear is referenced constantly in Penguindrum) twice and couldn’t bring myself to pay attention to it for more than twenty minutes both times. And I tried pretty hard that second time. And as for my final statement of negativity, I absolutely hate symbolism when it is used to such an extent that it conceals the story and themes of a work rather than supplementing them. This is a thing Ikuhara likes to do. That’s what Utena taught me!

But it’s okay, because Penguindrum keeps itself just one step away from being at that point. And that’s just enough to allow to me to enjoy what I can see without being angry at feeling like I’m making up the story and seeing things that aren’t there and having no idea what’s really going on. What I understood was an extremely touching story about a very simple thing: love. And a handful of other things but they are secondary as far as I’m concerned. What’s important is: it is hilarious, it is depressing, it is heartwarming, and sometimes even beautiful. If you are not watching it you are a mistake!

Next is Heartcatch Precure. I actually looked over my review of it after seeing that a different blog had linked to it, and I was a little surprised by some of the things I said about it. It was a lot more negative than I really feel about it (or maybe I did feel that way at the time and somehow my feelings changed over time without rewatching it). I will probably rewatch and maybe rereview it some day to get all my thoughts sorted out, but this is a magical girl show that I can enjoy, and a magical girl show that I can’t really feel any shame for enjoying. Because it’s just good. Too long for someone as impatient and easily bored as me, but still good. And it just starts out so good and ends so great (technically I believe the correct word here is epic considering the scale of everything by the time you hit that last episode). I’m not even just talking about first and last episodes, I’m talking more along the lines of the first 10 and last 10. That’s at least 20 episodes of great right there, and I know there was more somewhere in the middle; I just don’t remember where or how much. Totally give it a chance if you have any interest.

Last but not least is Usagi Drop. I don’t have very much to say about this because of the type of show it is, but it was an adorable and warmfuzzyfeelings show that deals with parenthood (and also touches on some aspects of society’s silliness a few times in the process). It also has a really nice art style and the main kid character (pictured! isn’t she adorable how can you resist watching this now?) is voiced by a kid who is actually really good at acting and doesn’t sound irritating, unlike certain other child voice actors I’ve heard. That’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? It better be because that’s all I’ve got.

My favorite opening from 2011 was a little difficult to choose. You see, Blood-C’s opening is just so good. It was hard to decide between it and the winner… But Sacred Seven’s opening was just better. I love the song and I like how all the colors are rainbowy until the awesome chorus starts, and then it’s just awesome because hey the chorus is awesome. It also managed to convince me (in part because of the lyrics, but primarily because of something I imagine only music theory could explain — and I’m a cellist who has successfully avoided any knowledge regarding music theory despite having played for about four years now) that there would be a great love story in this anime. There wasn’t, but that didn’t stop me from getting hyped every time I watched this opening sequence.

Deciding on my favorite ending was much, much easier. I mean, I could just go with Sacred Seven’s second ending and be all “hey it’s the same song but instead of being played to rainbows it’s played to Inomata art isn’t that great?” but I don’t even want to. Because Mawaru Penguindrum’s first ending is the best, no questions asked. Unfortunately I was unable to find a video of it on Youtube, so… You’ll just have to be satisfied with this, which has absolutely nothing to do with Penguindrum’s first ending sequence, let alone music. Oh well. Maybe I can just say this is a new award: “Favorite thing.” It can be a moment, a song, a piece of art, whatever. That video is officially My Favorite Thing of 2011. I guess.

This sure was an awkward post to end the year with. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come.