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The Animatrix Network is an anime & manga fan club located in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. We usually meet on the fourth Saturday of each month (except when holidays or conventions coincide). The meetings are free and open to the public. Join us for a day filled with anime.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Best Anime of 2011

The 10 Best Anime Series of 2011
10.) Hanasaku Iroha
[Source: Wikipedia] Hanasaku Iroha centers around Ohana Matsumae, a 16-year-old teenager living in Tokyo, who is left in the care of her estranged grandmother, following her mother's elopement with her boyfriend. Ohana arrives at her grandmother's country estate to realize she is the owner of a Taishō period hot spring inn called Kissuisō. She begins working at Kissuisō, at her grandmother's request, but finds herself at odds with many employees and customers at the inn. Initially feeling discouraged, she decides to use her circumstances as an opportunity to change herself for the better and to make amends with her deteriorating relationship with the Kissuisō's staff for a more prominent future. Upon returning from school one day, Ohana Matsumae learns that her mother is going on a moonlight flit with her boyfriend to escape from debt and they are sending her to live at her estranged grandmother's hot spring inn in the country. When her best friend, Kōichi Tanemura, hears of this, he confesses his love for Ohana before running off. As Ohana arrives at Kissuisō, she makes a bad first impression with one of the employees, Minko Tsurugi, before being informed by her grandmother, Sui Sujima, that she is to work at the inn to earn her keep. She is shown around the inn by the head mistress, Tomoe Wajima, and another employee, Nako Oshimizu. When Ohana notices the hard work Minko has to do, she tries to do something nice for her by airing out her futon, but it ends up falling off a ledge and landing near some customers. After Minko is slapped by Sui for Ohana's mistake, Ohana demands to be slapped even harder, though Minko still tells her to 'die!'.

9.) Ao no (Blue) Exorcist
[Source: Wikipedia] The story revolves around Rin Okumura, a teenager possessing abnormal strength and endurance who, along with his younger twin brother Yukio, was raised by Father Shiro Fujimoto. Soon after Yukio departs to study at the prestigious True Cross Academy, Rin learns that he is the son of Satan, the strongest of all demons. Witnessing Shiro dying to protect him, Rin ends up doing what his guardian asked him never to do: draw the demon-slaying blade Kurikara, which restrains his demonic powers, from its scabbard. From that moment on, Rin not only gains permanent demonic features like fangs, pointed ears and a tail, but also the power to ignite himself into blue flames that can destroy anything they touch. At Shiro's funeral, Rin has an encounter with Mephisto Pheles, who agrees with Rin's wish to become an Exorcist like his guardian to take revenge on Satan. Rin enrolls at the True Cross Academy, which is actually the Japanese branch of an international organization dedicated to protect the human realm, Assiah, from demons and other creatures from the demon realm, Gehenna. Rin takes part in a special Exorcist course, the existence of which is known only by a few. Much to his surprise, he finds that his brother Yukio is already a veteran Exorcist and will be one of his teachers.

8.) Persona 4 The Animation
[Source: Wikipedia] Persona 4 takes place in the fictional, rural Japanese town of Inaba, which lies among floodplains and has its own high school and shopping districts. Unexplained murders have taken place in the small town, where bodies are found dangling among television antennas and their cause of death unknown. At the same time, rumor has begun to spread that watching a switched-off television set on rainy midnights will reveal a person's soulmate. Following the rumor, a group of high-school students discovered a fog-shrouded world accessed through television sets infested with monsters called Shadows. They also discovered each of their Shadow Selves, symbolizing their suppressed personalities. Confronting their Shadow Selves awakened their ability to summon beings known as Personas. Using Personas, the students formed the Investigation Team to investigate the connection between the TV world and the murders, and possibly capture the culprit. Inside a limousine, a man Igor, and his assistant Margaret, introduce themselves explaining the place they are located is called the Velvet Room, a place that exists "between dreams and reality, mind and matter". Igor mentions that something special in store for their visitor. Suddenly, Yu Narukami wakes up from his dream and finds that his train has finally taken him to the rural city of Inaba where he will live with his uncle, Detective Ryotaro Dojima, and Dojima's daughter, Nanako. Yu begins classes at Yasogami High School the next day, and his teacher Kinshiro "King Moron" Morooka puts Yu on his personal "shit list" after he accuses Yu of ogling a female student. Elsewhere, senior student Saki Konishi, who is cutting class, discovers the corpse of TV announcer Mayumi Yamano hanging from a television aerial. As Yu prepares to go home, Chie Satonaka and Yukiko Amagi introduce themselves and offer to walk home with him. Yosuke Hanamura interrupts, causing a scene with Chie when she discovers he broke her favorite DVD. Elsewhere, Dojima and his partner Detective Tohru Adachi investigate the crime scene. The next day, Yu befriends Yosuke, and they, along with Chie, head to Junes, a department store Yosuke's father manages, to celebrate, and to pay Chie back. While there, they also meet Saki and Chie brings up the Midnight Channel, a strange television program that comes on at midnight on rainy days. That night as it rains, Yu discovers the Midnight Channel and he sees Saki on it. When he checks the TV, his hand gets sucked into the screen. When Yu recalls the events to his new friends the next day, Yosuke and Chie decide to see what will happen if they use a larger TV like the ones in Junes. When Yu sticks his hand into the TV, the shock of the situation startles Yosuke who knocks them all into the screen. On the other side, they enter a world shrouded in fog where they meet a cartoonish bear called Teddie who gives Yu glasses that can see through the fog. As they investigate, they find a room with a noose and are attacked by creatures Teddie calls Shadows. Just as the group are pinned down, Yu's feels a power awaken inside him, allowing him to summon his Persona Izanagi of The Fool Arcana to defeat the Shadows.

7.) Mawaru Penguindrum
[Source: Wikipedia] A terminally ill girl named Himari Takakura is miraculously saved from death by a strange spirit who resides in a penguin-shaped hat. However, in exchange for extending her life, the spirit tasks Himari's brothers, Kanba and Shouma, to seek out an item known as the Penguin Drum with assistance from a trio of strange penguins. Three siblings, Shōma, Kanba and Himari Takakura are living together, despite the fact Himari was given only a few months to live by the doctor. The three visit an aquarium to see the penguins, where Shōma buys her a queen penguin hat. However, Himari collapses and later dies in hospital. As the brothers mourn, they are surprised to see Himari suddenly spring back to life and cured of her condition, possessed by a spirit which has decided to extend her life, though she returns to normal when her penguin hat falls off. The next day, the siblings receive a shipment of frozen things, which are later revealed to be a trio of strange penguins that no one besides them can see. Just then, the hat possesses Himari again, explaining that she has extended her life but in exchange wants the brothers to obtain something known as the Penguin Drum. As Shōma sleeps that night, it appears that Kanba ends up kissing Himari as she sleeps but it can't be certain since the scene cuts before their lips make contact.  The Penguin Spirit appears again and tells Shōma and Kanba to board a train and find a girl named Ringo Oginome who may possess the Penguindrum. With Ringo attending a girl's school, Shōma and Kanba send in their penguins to follow her. The brothers end up following her to a lingerie store, where they spot her maneuvering round the outside of a building in order to take a photo of something, which she shows to the brother's teacher, Keiju Tabuki. She then follows him home and hides out under his house, where the brothers conclude that she is a stalker, and pulls out a diary which allegedly fortells destined events. 

6.) [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
[Source: Wikipedia] The Japanese government was rescued from the brink of financial collapse by the Sovereign Wealth Fund. For its citizens, however, life has not improved and unemployment, crime, suicide, and despair are rampant. Kimimaro, raised by his maternal aunt after the disappearance of his father and the death of his mother, is a scholarship student whose only dream is to live a stable, ordinary life. One day he meets a man who offers him a large sum of money if he will allow his "future" to be held as collateral. From then on his fate is radically altered as he's drawn into a mysterious realm known as the Financial District, where he must compete in weekly tournaments called "deals" in order to keep his money and avoid losing his future. A man with no money uses a certain credit card which grants him access to the surreal Financial District, where he engages in a battle against a man named Souichirou Mikuni, fighting with mysterious creatures known as Assets, and is defeated and ends up committing suicide the next day. Meanwhile, a boy named Kimimaro Yoga is working two part time jobs to raise money for his future. One evening as he is trying to study for a pop quiz, he is approached by a mysterious man named Masakaki, who announces that Kimimaro has been chosen to become an Entrepreneur, or Entre, at Midas Bank. The next day, Kimimaro is surprised to find 500,000 yen deposited into his account. While wondering what he should do about it, Kimimaro considers using a small amount so he can attend a Konpa with his friend, Hanabi Ikuta. However, as he withdraws the money, he is once again approached by Masakaki, who places him in a taxi bound for the Financial District. Kimimaro is brought to the Financial District in which he must participate in Deals, battles in which money is wagered, using an Asset named Msyu. Kimimaro and Msyu are instantly thrown into a Deal against a powerful Asset named 'Gig'. With Kimimaro not able to understand the situation, Msyu takes a lot of damage defending him. However, Msyu manages to teach Kimimaro how to use her ability, which manages to defeat the opponent, though he passes out soon afterward. Kimimaro returns to the real world, where Masakaki informs him the next Deal will take place in a week's time, and soon finds he has even more money in his account. Later on, Kimimaro starts noticing that some money bills appear black for him, which Msyu explains is money from the Financial District. Kimimaro then ends up encountering Mikuni, who explains about the black bills, known as Midas Money, and hints that he knows of Kimimaro's parents.


5.) Kamisama no Memo-chou
[Source: Wikipedia] Narumi Fujishima is an ordinary high school boy who remains isolated from his fellow classmates. One afternoon fellow classmate Ayaka Shinozaki invites Narumi to join the gardening club and introduces him to a reclusive detective named Alice. Alice hires Narumi as an assistant and puts him to work solving the strange mysteries of Angel fix, an illegal drug. Little does he know it could put him and Ayaka in serious trouble. Alice is a mysterious girl who lives on the third floor over Hanamaru ramen shop. Her age is unknown, but looks like a 12 or 13 years-old girl. She is short, pale white and has long black hair. She calls herself Alice (a mixed reading of the kanji for Yūko) and a "NEET Detective". She is a hikikomori and a cracking genius. Her diet is based practically only on Dr Pepper and she suffers a severe insomnia. She always wears bear patterned pajamas and she is always surrounded by a pile of teddy bears. She is the brain of the NEET Detective Team and gathers information to solve the cases with her laptop without stepping out of her bedroom.

4.) GOSICK
[Source: Wikipedia] Gosick takes place in 1924 in a small, French-speaking fictional European country of Saubure nestled beside the alps. The story centers on Kazuya Kujo, the third son of a high ranking officer of Japanese Imperial Army, who is a transfer student to St. Marguerite Academy, where urban legends and horror stories are all the rage. There he meets Victorique, a mysterious yet beautiful and brilliant girl who never comes to class and spends her days reading the entire content of the library or solving mysteries that even detectives can't solve. The series mostly focuses on Kazuya and Victorique getting involved in different mystery cases and their struggle to solve them, at the same time forming important bonds with different people. As the youngest son of a soldier, Kazuya has spent most of his life struggling with living in his highly successful siblings' shadows. Jealous of all the attention his brothers got, he worked hard to compete, but everything changed when he understood that adults, who think that the youngest child is always spoiled and useless, will never acknowledge his efforts. With a permanent scar in his heart he left the military academy in Japan and before anyone from his family could stop him, went to study abroad to St. Marguerite. Unfortunately, his black-hair, dark brown eyes appearance, combined with the campus legend saying that "the traveler who comes in the spring brings death with him" has resulted in Kazuya being called the "Black Reaper" by the largely apprehensive student body and having no friends. By some twist of fate he becomes a messenger and companion to the most eccentric pupil in the school, Victorique. At first he didn't like Victorique because of her arrogant and sadistic attitude, but after some time hanging around and knowing her, he started to truly care for her and be protective of her. It is shown that he is willing to risk his life to protect her on more than one occasion. He is described, by Victorique, as a good and sincere person whose soul is pure and beautiful enough to admit pride. Although he claims to have good academic achievement that rivals that of his older brothers, he can be very dense and slow. It can be assumed that while Kujo has a good memory, he has subpar creativity and has little common sense in living. Instead he has to rely on Victorique to explain even the simplest things. Despite everything that happened in Japan he is proud to be a soldier's son. Victorique has the appearance of a small (4' 7"), almost doll-like, girl with very long blonde hair and emerald eyes and a voice that sounds beyond her age. Another important part of Victorique's appearance is a pipe that she smokes when thinking about something; though in the anime, it is never shown to be lit or showing her smoking due to her young age. She spends her days at the conservatory at the top of the library, reading several difficult books, often in different languages, simultaneously. She points at one wall of the library and has told Kazuya that she has read almost all the books over there. Along with her sharp tongue, abusive bluntness and eccentric attitude, she possesses a genius level intellect which she applies as a consulting detective. After Victorique saves him from a near-arrest, Kazuya finds himself being entangled in every new mystery happening around. Because her mother, Cordelia Gallo, was a mistress, and according to Victorique "a dangerous person", she was imprisoned in the depths of the de Blois mansion where she developed mannerisms that is anything but childlike. She was sent off to school under strict orders to never leave the campus. Only in exceptional circumstances, she obtains permission from Grevil to leave the campus. When she first met Kazuya she did not like him and thought that he was annoying and stupid for climbing up all the stairs in the library. She even ignored him and made fun of him, but gradually warmed up to him and began to trust and cherish him. Despite acting harshly towards Kazuya almost all the time, it's clear that she cares deeply for him, as seen many time when he is in danger. She enjoys "reconstructing chaos" by solving intricate mysteries and often complain about boredom being the root of her headaches. Throughout the anime, Victorique was also called by others as the "Golden Fairy in the High Tower", "Gray Wolf" and at the end of the series "Charming Monster"; all of them creatures of folktales.

3.) Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
[Source: Wikipedia] Yukiteru "Yuki" Amano is a loner who never really interacts with people and prefers writing a diary on his cell phone with his only companion being an imaginary friend named Deus Ex Machina, the God of Time and Space. However, Yuki soon learns that Deus is real when he makes Yuki participate in a battle royal with eleven other people. Within this "Diary Game", the contestants are given special diaries that can predict the future, with each diary having unique features that gives them both advantages and disadvantages. Within the next 90 days, the contestants must try to kill each other and survive until there is only one person standing, the winner becoming the new God of Time and Space. In order to survive, Yuki tries to find allies, with one of them being another diary user named Yuno Gasai, a girl who is madly in love with him. As the game continues, Yuki soon learns that not everyone can be trusted, not even Yuno, whose obsession to keep both of them alive no matter the cost terrifies him. Yet despite her faults, Yuki continues to trust Yuno since he manages to survive the game thanks to her. Originally, Yuki had no desire to win the game and stoop as low as the other contestants who either cheat, lie, manipulate or kill in order to win. However, that all changes when, late in the game, Yuki's parents are killed. Yuki suffers a breakdown over his parents death until Yuno seduces and convinces him that if he becomes the new God of Time and Space, he can bring his parents back to life. Now having a reason to win, Yuki becomes a ruthless, backstabbing and manipulative terrorist who causes the deaths of thousands of civilians and destruction throughout the city in order to kill the other contestants. Yuki's actions shock his friends, in particular Aru Akise, who has suspicions about Yuno and her motives. By the time Yuno and Yuki become the last contestants, Aru and the rest of Yuki's friends chastise him on how he has become just as bad as the other contestants. Aru tries to warn Yuki that Yuno is manipulating him and that she has an ulterior motive. Refusing to accept the truth and wishing to bring his parents back, Yuki kills them until Aru manages to stop him and gives Yuki a clue over Yuno's true identity before he is killed by Yuno herself. Eventually, Yuki learns that the Yuno he knows is actually from a parallel universe. In Yuno's universe, she and Yuki were the last contestants and both of them agreed to commit suicide, but Yuno faked her death in an attempt to resurrect Yuki. However, Yuno became distraught and more insane when she learned that while she can resurrect the dead, she cannot bring back their souls. With the help of Muru Muru, Deus' servant and now Yuno's after she won the Diary game, both of them travel back in time to Yuki's universe and killed the Yuno of that universe, taking her place so she could play the game again and find a way to bring back "her" Yuki. As Yuno is about to kill him, Yuki is saved by Minene Uryu, one of his allies and the 9th Diary user who he believed died in the game but was initially turned part God by Deus (who had suspicions that the Muru Muru working for him is not the one he knows but the one from the parallel world working with Yuno), knowing that he would live long enough to stop them. Their plans foiled, Yuno and Muru Muru travel back in time to another universe to start over again but are followed by Yuki and Minene, who are trying to stop them. Finally, Yuno and Muru Muru are stopped when the former learns that, in this new universe, all the terrible things that happened to everyone in the previous universes never happened, including the fact that Yuno's parents never were abusive and lead to her insanity, due to Minene tampering the past, causing many events to change its course, including the Diary Game never initiating. With Yuno's Muru Muru stopped by Yuki's Muru Muru that Yuki had freed, Yuki convinces Yuno to come to her senses and surrender as he loves her, requesting that she kill him and return to his universe to create a better world for herself. Regretting her mistakes, Yuno instead kills herself as she loves Yuki too much, ending her life and making Yuki the new God of his universe. In the end, 10,000 years have past since Yuki became the God of Time and Space, but he refuses to rule his world as he has lost everything that he ever loved and cared; his friends, parents and Yuno. In an unexpected Deus ex machina, though, the Yuno of the new universe breaks through time and space, recognizing Yuki, and invites him to her universe. The Muru Muru of Yuki's universe reveals that she contacted her new universe counterpart and together, they both implanted the Yuno of the new universe with memories of her past universe, hence why she recognizes Yuki. Furthermore, the Deus of the new universe also invites Yuki to his universe and makes both he and Yuno his heirs. The series ends with Yuki reuniting with Yuno, his friends, parents and the Diary users in a new, happier universe.

2.) Fate/Zero
[Source: Wikipedia] Fate/zero takes place 10 years prior to the events of Fate/stay night, detailing the events of the 4th Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. The War of the Holy Grail is a contest in which seven magi summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the "Holy Grail," which grants a miracle. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences. Founded by the Einzbern, Matō, and Tōsaka families centuries ago, the Einzbern family is determined to achieve success after three successive failures, no matter the cost. As a result, they have elected to bring the hated magus killer, Kiritsugu Emiya, into their ranks, despite his methods and reputation as a skilled mercenary and a hitman who employs whatever he can use to accomplish his goals. Though Kiritsugu had once wanted to become a hero who could save everyone, he has long since abandoned this ideal upon realizing that saving one person comes at the cost of another's life. For the sake of humanity, he will ruthlessly destroy anything and anyone who threatens the peace of others. However, Kiritsugu finds himself deeply torn between the love he has found for his new family - his wife Irisviel and their daughter Illya - and what he must do to obtain the Holy Grail. Meanwhile, Kiritsugu's greatest opponent appears in the form of Kirei Kotomine, a priest who cannot find any sense of fulfillment in his life and sets his sights on Kiritsugu as the possible answer to the emptiness he feels.

1.) Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
[Source: Wikipedia] A group of six childhood friends drift apart after one of them, Meiko "Menma" Honma, dies in an accident. Ten years after the incident, the leader of the group, Jinta Yadomi, has withdrawn from society and lives as a recluse. One summer day, the ghost of an older looking Menma appears before him and asks to have a wish granted, reasoning that she cannot pass on into the afterlife until it is fulfilled. Since Menma does not remember what her wish is, Jinta gathers his estranged friends together once again, believing that they are the key to resolving this problem. However, hidden feelings, internal conflicts, and lingering feelings of bitterness from Menma's parents result in complications for the group as they struggle to help not only Menma move on, but themselves as well. Jinta "Jintan" Yadomi is being pestered by a girl named Meiko "Menma" Honma, who only he can see. Menma says she has a wish she wants him to fulfill, but she can't remember what it was. Soon, she recalls that the dream was to have their friends all together again. One of the former friends, Naruko "Anaru" Anjō, drops by Jinta's house to drop off some homework, but is on bad terms with him. It is revealed that Jintan has poor school attendance. As Menma pesters Jinta to go after Naruko and talk to her, they both go into the city where they run into two other former friends, Chiriko "Tsuruko" Tsurumi and Atsumu "Yukiatsu" Matsuyuki, the latter of which reacts harshly when Jinta accidentally drops Menma's name. Frustrated, Jintan runs off and leaves Menma behind. Jinta begins to recall the past when he, Menma, and their other friends were part of a group known as the Super Peace Busters that hung out together when they were children. One day, Jinta accidentally hurt Meiko's feelings when asked if he liked her. He decided to apologize, but she died in an accident before he could. Back in the present, Menma visits her family's house. Jinta decides to search for Menma so he could finally apologize and he checks out their old secret fort. Here, he runs into the last of the six old friends, Tetsudō "Poppo" Hisakawa.
Note: This anime series is a true tearjerker. The final episode has become legendary for its emotional and dramatic climax. Prepare to cry.

1 comment:

  1. My list is pretty similar too, you can read about my final comments on each of them at this link --- http://myanimelist.net/blog.php?eid=667503
    But here's the basic rundown:
    10.) Persona 4 The Animation
    09.) Hanasaku Iroha
    08.) Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
    07.) Mawaru Penguindrum
    06.) [C]
    05.) Mirai Nikki
    04.) GOSICK
    03.) Gundam Unicorn Episodes 3 & 4
    02.) Ano Hi Mita Hana...
    01.) Fate/Zero
    (#1 & #2 are practically a tie for me)
    With honorable 2011 mentions going to: Blue Exorcist, Star Driver (2nd half aired in '11), Guilty Crown, Level E & Carnival Phantasm.

    Also I really wished God's Notebook would of turned out to be a better show and had some really great ideas but I more thought it was more average than most other shows.

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