Hey, thanks for stopping Anime Rants! It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since 2011. Since that year was so full of wonderful anime, I felt it was necessary to write about some of them for their ten-year anniversaries. I compiled a list of my ten favorite 2011 anime series, and wrote a few notes about each of them. This post covers part two of my list, or five series. Please Check out part one if you haven’t already! And with that said, let’s look at our entries.
Over a decade after he made Revolutionary Utena, the brilliant and unique creator Kunihiko Ikuhara gave us Penguindrum. The first thing that comes into my mind when I think of this anime is how bizarre but also meaningful it is. I think I first watched it in 2013, which was before I had even heard of Ikuhara or his other works. I immediately loved it, or at least the first half. I distinctly remember being very thrown off by the tone shift into darker content in the second half of Penguindrum. Eventually, I got over it and started to appreciate the anime as a whole. Penguindrum focuses on several topics and where they overlap for these characters; the topics include death, terrorism, the meaning of family, the idea of divine punishment, and fate or destiny. And as terribly sappy as this sounds, for me, the anime is ultimately about how love can overpower fate.
It’s difficult to say who my favorite character would be in Penguindrum, since I can sympathize or empathize deeply with several. It’s impossible to say who I relate to the most. So instead, I’ll say who I’m most similar to in terms of MBTI/ 16 personalities. Momoka is an INFJ like me, and Shouma is an INFP, which is what I’m probably closest to outside of my type. I share Momoka’s sense of wonder and fascination with the world– although she’s clearly not afflicted with major depression and the jading of adult years like me. I am also similar to Momoka in my strong sense of justice and wanting to help the underdogs. As for Shouma, he’s prone to the same stubbornness and emotional instability as myself. His underlying depression, tendency to blame himself, and lack of direction in life are also highly relatable to me.
Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
There’s no shortage of online criticisms of Mirai Nikki, many of which make excellent points. This anime, after all, is the epitome of edgy violence, mentally insane characters, oddly creepy ecchi stuff, and overall weirdness. But Mirai Nikki will always be one of my favorites, partly because it’s one of the first ten or twelve anime series I ever watched, and partly because it actually does have some strong story themes and good character development. I first watched it sometime in 2012, when I was searching for anime thrillers after finishing Steins;Gate. I’ll always remember that feeling of being completely mind-blown when I first witnessed the plot twists in the last few episodes.
My favorite character in Mirai Nikki, and one of my top ten favorite female characters in any anime, is Yuno Gasai. She is an excellent example of a yandere– debatably, she’s the queen of all yandere. But she is also so much more than can be described with one anime stereotype. Yuno is one of the most psychologically fascinating characters I have ever encountered. Oh, just to be clear, I’m not one of the truly misguided fans who thinks Yuno’s insanity and abuse of others is admirable or justifiable. Far from it. There are certain parts of her story where I pity her, but I do not excuse her. There are certain actions of hers that are understandable to me, but they are still not justifiable. Yuno is simply interesting as hell to me because I like studying abnormal psychology in fictional characters.
Nichijou (My Ordinary Life)
When I think of Nichijou, I think of laughing so freaking hard at complete nonsense that my sides started hurting and tears filled up my eyes. Absurd, random and non sequitur humor are my favorite styles of comedy, and anime is my favorite entertainment medium. So it follows that Nichijou, a comedy anime with all my favorite types of silliness, is one of my very favorite shows. I think I watched it in 2013 when a good friend suggested watching something funny together. There’s no specific memory I can think of from when I first watched Nichijou, but like I said earlier, it made me laugh my ass off.
This anime isn’t really about serious character development, but the cast is certainly memorable, cute, and funny. I think my favorite character overall is Yuuko, the ditzy girl who is a walking caricature of ADHD. I also love Nano, the responsible android who takes care of the child genius who created her. She just wants to explore the outside world a little and see what normal life is like for humans. She’s so cute!
When I saw it in 2012, Steins;Gate was one of the first ten or so anime series that I ever watched. It had a powerful effect on me cognitively and emotionally, as it masterfully wove together many timeless story themes and character interactions. I still think this 2011 series is one of the very best sci-fi anime ever made.
What I remember most clearly about the first watch was how I connected to Okabe and others in an abstract but still very personally important way. I don’t want to detail everything here, but the basic idea is that the confusion and emotions related to time loops is similar to my experience of dissociation and other psychological issues that I was experiencing at the time. Themes in Steins;Gate include perception of time, the processing of memory, the weight of being alone, and the intricate connections between people. In short, this anime is about the human mind.
The majority of the Steins;Gate cast is incredibly dear to me. I can relate to them all in different ways. I don’t have a favorite. So instead, let’s look at what characters are closest to me in terms of MBTI 16 personalities. Unfortunately, there are no INFJ or INFP characters in Steins;Gate. The next closest type to me would be INTJ, which is the type that describes Kurisu Makise. Now that I think of it, she was my original favorite character before I branched out into understanding the others. It’s safe to say she’s the one most similar to me. We are both interested in neuroscience and science in general. We’re both naturally introverted and grew up rather sheltered. As a teenager, I was every bit as driven and ambitious as Kurisu. Hopefully, I can rediscover some of that drive for my adult life, and continue to learn about the human mind just like Kurisu.
Yuru Yuri (Lazy Lilies)
This is probably the selection that’s most different from all the others I chose in this two-part list. Even I find it strange that an anime like Yuru Yuri is so entertaining to me. It’s a cute and funny slice-of-life show about four young girls wasting time in an unused club room after school. One thing that drew me to it originally was the presence of shoujo ai (girls’ love) elements. These are mostly sweet and endearing in nature, but there are also some more sexual elements that only remain comedic if you don’t think about them too hard. I discovered Yuru Yuri in 2016 and what I remember most about it is just enjoying the silly and fun shenanigans of the characters. This is an anime about having fun while being lazy with your friends.
Although I love all four of the main girls, usually I default to Chinatsu for my favorite character. She’s small but very feisty, as well as being gay for her senpai. In a positive sense, Chinatsu is a free spirit and possesses admirable confidence. In a negative sense, she’s prone to being a fussy, petty bitch. Her creative ideas and weird imagination are endlessly entertaining.
This concludes my list of favorite anime from 2011. I would like to sincerely thank you for reading or even just skimming this post today. Your readership is greatly appreciated. As 2021 draws closer to its end, you might be reviewing your favorite anime of the year. But don’t forget to also think of the wonderful anime series from that epic year one decade ago. Whether or not you’re well-versed in anime, I wish you a happy rest of fall and merry Holidays to come!