Sunday, 25 December 2011

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me...

Twelve Awesome Anime
Eleven Weeks of D'AWWW-ness
Ten Heaping Cow Turds
Nine Stop-Motion Wonders
Eight Slappable Arseholes
Seven Crazy Hairdos
Six Splendid Sequels
Fiiiiiive Kick-Asssssss Duuuuuuudes
Four Mindf**k Minutes
Three Shounen Timeskips
Two Crazy Whores
And A Pair of Giant Matrix Boooooobiiiiiiieeeessss!

So, I wholly admit that the title for the final of my 12 Days of Christmas is a bit of a copout, but I wanted to pick twelve of my favourite anime moments from the last year from the good to the bad and the just plain weird. Some are scenes, others full episodes, and there's even an entire series. So here they are, some of my favourite anime moments of 2011. Merry Christmas Everyone!

(Episode 12)

Before I started watching, everyone had told me how epic and awesome Katanagatari was. It seemed that everyone, even those who are hard to please, seemed to love it so I was a little concerned. Too much hype often leads to big disappointment. When I started watching, however, I was far from disappointed. Initially it was the art style that leapt out at me most, it's very different to most anime and utterly gorgeous. Then I got more into the story and damn, I was addicted. But, what REALLY made the series for me was the epic final episode. Following the end of the previous episode, Shichika in the castle, just OH. MY. GOD. I kind of want to re-watch it all again just to get to that last bit.

(Episodes 14 & 20.5)

I don't care how much I've raved about Shiki this year, I'm going to do it again. In particular this time I want to pick on two specific episodes. Firstly, episode 14, which contains what is, for me, one of the most disturbingly dark scenes I've ever seen. Watching Ozaki perform live experimentation on his undead wife was gruesome, cringeworthy (in the good way) and down right uncomfortable. That scene marks the distinct change between the show's quiet beginning and it's bloody, frenzied finale and boy, what a way to do it. My second pick is episode 20.5 which is actually one of the DVD specials. This particular episode depicts some of the manga content that was omitted. Set during theheight of the shiki-hunt, it focuses on the villagers chasing their prey into the irrigation pipes. It's dark, very dark, a bit on the gory side and just plain awesome viewing.

Everyone and their granny has been banging on about Redline this year, so when I got the chance to purchase the Blu-ray at Expo a fortnight before it was released tot he public, I jumped ta the chance. I have to admit, though it's generally not my sort of thing (racing + intergalactic spacey stuff) I did enjoy it. The visuals are pretty damn awesome and fall somewhere between horrifically ugly and too cool for school, while the movement is impeccable. Well done Madhouse. Do I think it's over-rated? If I'm honest, yeah, a little bit. But it's still well worth a watch, if only to make up your own mind about it.

(Ace's Death)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCE! That's really the only way I could begin this bit. Having been up to speed on the manga for some time, I knew that this was coming and I was kind of dreading the moment when I'd st down to watch One Piece and Ace would meet his end. I cried at the manga and generally I tend to blub more at the anime (with the actual movement, sounds and music, it's hard to resist when the tears well up). However, for me, as much as I loved Ace, what upset me most was not his demise per-se but the profound effect it had on Luffy. Watching those scenes and the ones that followed were like watching his heart systematically crumble and fall apart. Heart-wrenching stuff, truly.

(Deer Fight)

Had it not been for the fact that I really wanted to mention this scene here, the principal in Nichijou would have ended up on my list of "Five Kick-ass Dudes" for this one skit alone. Without a doubt, the deer scene is the luminescent highlight of an otherwise underwhelming series. There's no particular story to it, quite simply, it's just the quite gentle-looking principal going at it in an all out battle for supremacy with a deer. Why is the deer there? WHy are they fighting? Where did that guy learn all his moves? No one knows and really, who cares, it's just awesome viewing!

(Episode 38)

I have an odd relationship with Gintama. I'm only around 40 odd episodes in, but despite the promises that it's utterly hilarious, I personally have never quite managed to get into it. Generally I've found it to be quite hit and miss, with some episodes bordering on the just plain dull, but then along comes a plotline that reminds me why I really like the series, and one of those was episode 38. The gang participating in a scnow sculpture contest was hilarity in a bucket, packed with stupid humour that had me giggling like an idiot the whole time.

Without a doubt, one of my favourite new series this year has been Hanasaku Iroha. It demonstrates some of the best characterisation that I've seen for some time and is a true ensemble piece. With the exception of a filler-esque mid-section I looked forward to each new episode with increasing anticipation. Plus with P.A. Works pulling out all the stops in the animation department, such exquisite eye-candy made it a genuine joy to watch.

(Beach Aerobics Scene)

Now, I love Shinryaku Ika Musume, but it's not one of those series where there's a laugh a minute. Mostly it's fairly gentle with some decent giggles from time to time. However, in the latest series there came the most brilliant section that had me full-on belly-laughing. Quite simply, Ika-chan is taking part in a beach aerobics session with elementary school kids and her tentacles keep hitting the kids. It sounds like dumb slapstick, and it is, but the comic timing is perfect, and it's played out in such a way that by the end it's like there's been some kind of child massacre. Genius. Absolute genius.

(Avalanche Scene)

What I love about watching the Detective Conan movies is that inevitable moment towards the end where the whole thing entirely detaches itself from reality in favour of a big flashy finale. Whether it's the tone deaf Conan singing into a faraway phone in order to dial the correct number, or two teenage girls successfully performing an emergency landing in a jumbo jet on a ridiculously short and narrow strip of land, the antics are ridiculous. Safe to say Quarter of Silence didn't disappoint with the supposedly seven-year-old Conan riding around on his jet propelled skate/snowboard in order to cause an avalanche and stop a rampaging flood from hitting a village. So dumb, so epic, so fun!

(Episode 12)

I ended up marathoning all of School Days in two days, not because it was any good - it wasn't - but because I wanted to know what the hell the infamous ending was and just how such an initially innocuous series could descend into something with such a reputation. I'd like to say that watching it was wholly worth it, but it was only half-so. It was worth watching so that I could witness first hand the insanity of the events, but at the end of the day, the entire series was shite.

This is a bit of a lesser-known and slight shock entry really. Legend of Koizumi is a short OVA that's basically political parody with mahjong. Big important political figures meet in neutral areas to play a game with high political stakes on the line. As an anime, it wasn't that great, and in truth, it was kind of dumb, but you know what... it stuck in my mind. Despite its inherently idiotic foundation, it's somehow incredibly epic. Hell it's so epic that the snivelling dude accompanying Koizumi can't help but piss his pants half the damn time.

(Any of the Supermarket Scenes)

Ben-To started out for me as a fun, throwaway series, but very quickly got to the point where I was bored of it and couldn't wait for it to end. However, the one part that still makes me chuckle like a maniac are the various supermarket battles. No matter how many times I see them, or how crappy the plot gets, the utter ridiculous notion of fighting bloody battles over half-priced lunch boxes just does not get old. Serious comedy at its best (just a shame about the rest of it).

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