AUKN Looks Back Over a Year in Anime…

It’s that time of year again – already? – and the writers, editors and news reporters at AUKN have been assembling their thoughts about what they’ve watched over the past year, what’s impressed them (mightily, in some cases) and what’s not.

Some shows get more than one mention from our team members: House of Five Leaves, Durarara! and Birdy the Mighty – Decode win the honours on DVD and Steins;Gate on AoD.

So, what are you waiting for? Give them a try… and see if you agree!


Best anime released in the UK for me was Durarara!; it has everything I like in it, fun moments, good action, supernatural and amazing characters.

Worst release – Gunslinger Girl OVA: Il Teatrino. No character development, very little action, basically, there was nothing for me there.

Not doing any streaming so I can’t comment on that.


2011 has been a great year for anime. How do I know? It is one of the few years where I’m watching more new shows than classics from the 90’s, although I have just discovered Nuku Nuku online…

Best UK Streaming Anime of 2011 – Steins;Gate on Anime on Demand. A great central concept, loveable characters, fantastic voice acting (Tuturu/I am mad scientist. IT’S SO COOL!) and an ending to die for. One of the few anime I have watched to have a complex story with all the ends tied off and actually get repetition right as it combined hard science and the latest in Japanese otaku trends together for a complex story which was funny, moving and original.

Worst Streaming Anime of 2011 – Blood-C on Nico Nico Douga. As a big fan of the Blood+ I hoped that Production I.G. and CLAMP were taking the franchise in a new direction but it didn’t work. The flaccid characterisation, moe clichés and dull atmosphere were deliberately used for a reason and would have been understandable but the glacial pacing of the story, lack of information, repetitious nature of scenes and week-long wait between episodes sabotaged it by preventing a sense of progression. Definitely not a show that benefitted from streaming, the spin-off movie it was building to looks much better.

Best UK DVD Anime Release of 2011 – House of Five Leaves (Beez). In recent years UK companies have rarely released anything I want to purchase which is great news for live-action Japanese films and under-appreciated anime series from yesteryear. Then Beez released House of Five Leaves, a series that caught my attention due to its beautiful art style and wonderful music, the original setting and interesting story and characters. Tatami Galaxy is next on my list.

Worst UK DVD Anime Release of 2011 – I can’t comment since I didn’t buy anything that wouldn’t appeal to me. Sorry.

Best Anime of 2011 – Mawaru Penguindrum – For me it has been one of the most consistently entertaining and well-written. It brings slice of life, dark fantastic realism, and even darker real life horror stories together in a mix that includes some of the most entertaining and disturbed characters around. Very original, very beautiful and very interesting; it’s a series you can watch and dissect or just enjoy. Within the first few episodes I was drawn to it and I cannot wait to view each one. It also has a great opening and ending song.


Beez score big points with me for their affordable releases of shows like Planetes, Gurren Lagann, and Code Geass on their Anime Legends line, which is by a long way my favourite way to buy anime. Outlaw Star and The Big O were very welcome too, and I surely hope they’ll look into bringing some more shows to the UK via that route. I hope 2012 continues to be a strong year for the line.

Also – yeah. Eureka 7 movie, easily the most disappointing thing I saw this year. Publicly roast that like a barbecue sausage with my approval.

Most under-rated show of the year for me was Xam’d: lost memories, which I just started watching. People are talking smack about this show, but I’m finding it thoroughly enjoyable.


Best UK streaming anime of 2011 – Steins;Gate: One of the best Science Fiction anime of the year – Intelligent, funny and certainly memorable. El. Psy. Congroo.

Best UK DVD anime release of 2011 – House of Five Leaves – This is one of those rare experiences where I felt hugely satisfied with its slow paced plot. Its unique art style and the fascinating characters in the “Five Leaves” group easily earns it my Best Release of 2011.

Worst UK streaming anime of 2011 – Maken-Ki: Oh dear, I dropped this at the first episode and I have plenty of reasons to give this the nomination, it’s so unbelievably stupid and generic that I could not bring myself to continue it, add to that the useless main lead; and a awful bunch of female characters makes this a terrible rom-com anime.

Worst UK DVD anime release of 2011 – I was going to give this to Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny but I did enjoy it when I thought about it and I didn’t really hate any UK release.

Best Anime of 2011: Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Never have I seen an anime so emotionally gripping in my life. It has a brilliant plot progression, one of the most memorable soundtracks, and a variation of beautiful and dark art styles I’ve ever seen. There is so much I can write about how much Madoka Magica wowed me this year and to call it my second-best anime of all time pretty much sums up this statement.


Best Anime DVD – Black Butler
A series full of class, style, humour, love for history and British culture, with a supernatural flare – the series has it all with the budget and great storytelling to pull it all off fantastically. A rare example of a series taking what it needed from the manga to keep its fans happy but providing its own ending that’s strong enough to stand tall against its competitors. A fine series indeed.

Worst Anime DVD – Corpse Princess
An exciting concept let down by mind-numbing dialogue, badly animated action, little-to-no pacing and a dull lead. Despite a stronger second season it couldn’t quite get the horrible taste out of my mouth from the first season. One of my biggest let-downs this year.

Best DVD Extra – Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time (Uncut and in Japanese)
It’s been loooong overdue to have Yu-Gi-Oh! available uncut in the UK, and when we do get it, it comes with hard subtitles and no scene skipping option available – but beggars can’t be choosers. 4Kids could’ve stuck to their guns with an English only release but with Manga at the helm and it being a 10th anniversary disc – what better present could you get?

Worst DVD Extra – Sacred Blacksmith (Next Episode Previews)
Really? Probably the most skipped scene in all of anime DVD history and you decide to make it as part of the extras? I’d be less insulted if you just left out the extras all together! I may complain that Vampire Knight had no extras over the course of its release but at least it didn’t try to dress the eyecatches as a DVD bonus.


Best UK streaming: Fate/Zero (runner up Tiger & Bunny). Two of the best shows of the year (IMO) and both available to the UK legally as they aired. It’s an awesome time to be an anime fan. I hope that next year, we get even more of the top shows made available to us like this.

Best UK DVD release: I haven’t finished House of Five Leaves yet so I’ll have to say Durarara!! for now. Assuming there are no issues with House of Five Leaves, however, it’s fantastic for two reasons. First of all it’s one of the rare occasions we got something special for the UK without relying on the US, and secondly, it’s a wonderful show from a very niche genre which I had once been worried wouldn’t get an English-translated release at all.

Best UK anime distributor: Beez (runner up MVM).

Ryo Chan

Best Anime DVD – Seeing the lack of anime I’ve bought from the UK, I’ll have to go with the only UK DVD I bought being Evangelion 2.22

Worst Anime DVD – Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood: simply because I was really disappointed when the Blu-ray release of Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood was discontinued.

Worst DVD Extra – Cristina Vee butchering songs from K-On! instead of adding the shorts.

Best Streaming – Fairy Tail; though Hanasaku and Fate/Zero run in close.

Worst Streaming – Maken Ki: Just ruined the manga by making it an Ikkitousen wannabe.


Best UK DVD release – Up until this month, Durarara! would have won…but Birdy the Mighty – Decode #2 utterly seduced me. Especially when I realized that it was from the same team that brought us Noein (which I’m now rewatching, and boy, it’s still great.)

Best Streaming on AoD – Tiger & Bunny (because I haven’t managed to watch Fate/Zero yet.) I’ve also got a soft spot for Nura.

If I had to choose a worst DVD release, I’d probably be shot down for saying HotD. But I really did not enjoy having to watch and review it. Not my thang! And where was the plot?


I’d also avoid putting forward my worst, as I’ve got pretty effective at filtering out stuff I’m really not going to like before I get to it, what with the wealth of information at our fingertips these days…

For best DVD release I’d have to plump for Birdy the Mighty – Decode (both volumes, but especially season 2), which really was first class. It was exciting to get a reminder of the kind of stuff I got into anime for in the first place. Best movie would have to be Summer Wars (although I’ve yet to see Redline!)


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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