2011 Yaoming Awards

 “Welcome to the first ever Yaoming Awards!”

 “The author of this blog of perpetual unicorns actually tried to put together one of those end-of-year anime award things. He went clinically insane half-way through. We are but the remnants of his subconscious mind.”

 “I am Buster-kun. I’m the part of the mind that likes anime.”

 “And I’m Yao Ming. I’m the part of the mind that tries to repress the former. Apathy is the name. Not giving a shit is the game.”

 “I guess you could say we’re at constant odds with one another. But that won’t stop us tonight when we recount the best anime from the year 2011.”

 “I haven’t seen anime since Rosario to Vampire so this should be interesting.”

 “Blogger-kun’s mind is particularly unstable right now, so you just never know who might show up! We hope you enjoy the show!”

 “A wise man once said, one and one make two, and two and one make three. Yes it is true that a hero and heroine will rise once every hundred thousand years. But lest we forget, it is the supporting cast that acts as the third piece. Tonight we honor 2011’s best female supporting characters.”

 “So Meg, is there any tread left on those tires, or at this point is it like throwing a hot dog down a hall way?”

Madoka’s classmate and the first of the two to make the contract with Kyuubey. Sayaka harbors the typical traits of magical girls, which eventually spurns her downfall. Uses swords when fighting witches and also has regenerative powers due to her wish.

Sternbild’s poster hero and star of Hero TV. Her Blue Rose persona is the walking beauty advert for Pepsi NEX. Underneath, however, she is a rather typical teenage girl. She lacks direction in her hero career until she gets to know Kotetsu. Uses freezing liquid guns to dispatch various criminals of Sternbild city.

The energetic, newcomer at the CRT TV Workshop. She ends up hanging out with Rintarou and the rest of the Future Gadget Lab. She appears to be very easy-going at first, but all is not as it seems…

Kyohei’s and Hibino’s crazy eccentric classmate. Fed up with normalcy, she becomes involved with Kyohei after discovering the kakashi. Later, she kidnaps Aki who decides to use her apartment as a hideout.

The target Kanba and Shouma are both ordered keep to eyes on. Ringo possesses a mysterious diary that seems to foretell future events. She originally sets out to bring her family back together, going to extreme lengths to have what is written fulfilled.

A terrorist bomber and one of the first diary-wielding opponents Yuki and Yuno must face. Her “escape” diary corresponds to her profession. When faced with a dire situation, it charts out the best course for escape. No relation to the former’s diary.

18 years old and a wanted terrorist. Future Diary’s Minene Uryuu or “Ninth” is first seen as an early antagonist. Her temporary defeat at the hands of Yukiteru is only the beginning of her role in the survival game. Like all of the diary holders, her back story is revealed some time after she is introduced. After getting stabbed in the eye by Yuki, she joins the likes of Deunan Kneute and Nice Holystone in the badass women with eye patches but are secretly moe club.

 “Ah yes Mr. Lamperouge, you are currently suffering from a compression of the disks in your lower back.”

 “What? How did this happen? Is this a common occurrence in patients who pilot Knightmare Frames?”

 “A roller-skating mech didn’t cause this. It’s genetic.”

 “Genetic? You mean like fatal genetic?”

 “No Mr. Lamperouge. You were simply born with no muscle mass in your lower back. No cushioning for your abdominal region. For years you’ve basically been sitting on your spine. You suffer from a disease called Gluteal CLAMP Syndrome, or GCS.”

 “I don’t understand. What does that mean?”

 “Mr. Lamperouge… You have no ass.”

Paladin monster slayer and Alucard’s equivalent for the Iscariot Organization. The long-awaited 8th episode in the Hellsing Ultimate saga brings Alucard face to face once again with his old rival and foe. Voiced by the famed Norio Wakamoto.

Also goes Wind Wizard and King of Heroes, but is most widely known simply as Sky High. His bright personality makes him stand out amongst most of his colleagues. Wears a jet pack as part of his hero outfit and is able to control the wind at will.

The crude otaku from Steins;Gate is not afraid to admit his preference of 2d women over 3d. He is a computer nerd and frequenter of @ch, but also a genius hacker and Rintarou’s closest friend. His lab mates call him Daru.

The King of Conquerors. Summoned as a rider class servant during the 4th holy grail war, he is the heroic spirit of Alexander the Great. His towering figure acts as a stark contrast to   Waiver Velvet, the master who summoned him.

Unlike the rigid “protagonist” of Persona 4, Yousuke is talkative and rather clumsy. His persona is Jiraiya of The Magician Arcana. He is the first person to confront his inner issues. Afterwards, his banter with Chie makes for a good source of comic relief.

The free-spirited former guild member is revealed to have survived his ordeal from the first series. He makes his return in Fam of the Silver Wing, still gender ambiguous as ever. He is initially a member of the Sky Pirates before returning to the Sylvius.

Type Moon’s envisioning of the historic figure is nothing short of grand. Iskander is both noble and courageous, preferring to beat his opponents the “old-fashioned way” despite being the number two target for the other masters. While his noble phantasm is powerful enough to rival even Gilgamesh’s, it is his relation with Waiver Velvet that really makes him stand out amongst the rest of the cast. Also, for someone who died the rocker’s death, he has no trouble holding his alcohol.

 “Quite an experience to live in Japan isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a Weeaboo. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Loli basketball, Loli Tennis, Loli NEET detectives, French Lolis, Victorian Lolis, Vampire Lolis… I’ve watched Lolis glittering in the darkness near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.”

14 years old and not a care in the world. Or so it seems. The titular character is seen as weak and indecisive at first, but in several rapid twists, we learn that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

What appears to be yet another case of the mysterious transfer student cliché quickly turns into something different altogether…

Former guerrilla turned maid now has a reason to take up gun again. Seeking vengeance after her master is assassinated, Roberta goes on a rampage through Roanapur. Meanwhile Revy and co. take some time off from pirating to help the “young master” track her down.

A troubled past caused her to become a prostitute in the futuristic Mardock city. She was killed once before, but was saved and turned into a cyborg. If there is such a thing as teenage Motoko Kusenagi, Rune Balot might be it. Minus the mouse.

Yuki’s psychotic stalker always seems to have something up her sleeve. Hellbent on attaining the happy end, she’ll do whatever possible to keep both of the alive. For that purpose, she keeps an assortment of “tools.”

The energetic pilot and leader of a small group of Sky Pirates. Fam’s gun-ho attitude pairs nicely to Gisey’s calm, collected navigation. Unknown to fear and always eager to help those that need it. Can somehow disable entire ships with a single Vespa.

When we first see Homura Akemi, she appears antagonistic. Soon enough, it is revealed just why that is the case; her past relationship with Madoka, and her eventual contract with Kyubey. Unbeknownst to the other characters, her wish is what sets everything in the motion. While her character type isn’t entirely unique, the thrilling way in which the story is told sets the bar high for those who choose to follow. Voice actor Chiwa Saito delivers one of her finest performances yet.

 “Okay everybody, hold the work down, hold it down. I found this cherry ring pop, which is delicious by the way, and this used condom which means one of you SPINELESS male protagonists here is actually screwing your harem. We’re not leaving for the Yaoming Awards until I find out who.”

 “It wasn’t me coach! I would never!”

 “Oh gee really Orimura? Oh really? It wasn’t you? You know what? I never would have thought it wasn’t you Orimura because of your radish dumpling drunk twig body. Thanks for the update Orimura, NOBODY THOUGHT IT WAS YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE. If you didn’t want so much attention you wouldn’t waste all my time Orimura. I’M ALREADY SICK OF IT.”

Nephew of the great King Enma and perverted as ever. The classic shonen superhero returns in Brain’s Base’s remake of the popular manga from the 1970s, Dororon Enma-kun. Voiced by Kappei Yamaguchi.

The kindhearted veteran of the hero world, Wild Tiger has the ability to increase his strength a hundred fold. Though his age and old-fashioned approach lands him little spotlight in the hero world, he still loves doing what he does.

Tied down by a history of fixed races but still driven by the desire to win, “Sweet JP” is all kinds of cool. The soft-spoken hero of Redline sports a wicked pompadour that puts The Fonz to shame.

Often referring to himself as Hououin Kyouma, Rintarou Okabe is the protagonist of Steins;Gate and a self-proclaimed crazy mad scientist. Before the start of the series, he opens a lab for future gadget research in Akihabara. Voiced by the widely acclaimed Mamoru Miyano.

  • Shinjuurou Yuuki (UN-GO)

Known as the defeated detective, Shinjuurou solves various cases amidst a war-torn Tokyo. His quick reflexes and deductive skills earn him the respect of certain members of the police. It also helps to have a walking lie detector as a partner.

Given the unique premise and subject matter of Persona 4, it seems strangely fitting for a character with no real personality to play the part of protagonist.

As a child, Kotetsu was once saved by the famous hero Legend. Ever since, he has always held true that hero powers are meant to help people. Though he relinquished much of the glory and spotlight to more popular heroes such as Sky High and Blue Rose, the lives they save are all that matters to Kotetsu. He constantly struggles between the love he has for his job and the love he has for his daughter. This, coupled with his fading powers, makes his decision to remain a superhero all the more important.

 “Citizens of Tokyo, we interrupt tonight’s broadcast of the Yaoming Awards to address a major problem. Clearly the Otaku A-team is out of control. But not to fear. I’ve tangled with super beings before. They CAN be stopped.”

 “You can’t stop us Governor Ishihara! WE ARE ALL-POWERFUL!”

 “Clearly, you’ve let yourselves become drunk with power.”




 “Is that all you can do?”


 “Ow! That kinda hurt! Eh, is it bleeding? Nope, I guess it’s alright. Ouch though…”

  • Astonishing X-Men Lineup (X-Men)

The costumes are slightly different, but the characters remain the same. Marvel and Madhouse collaborate to bring us the third of four classic Marvel franchises re-envisioned in anime form.

Them little busters from Chichibu can get highly emotional at times. Given the circumstances, it’s pretty understandable. They still don’t remember the name of the flower they saw that day.

Along with Wild Tiger, there exists a slew of different heroes that protect Sternbild city. They all have their own personality quirks, though some are explored in more detail than others.

12 aspiring idols, all aiming for the top, Gainax style. The hit anime series based off a video game is perhaps the closest anime gets to reality TV. Who would’ve thought a show about a bunch of teenage girls could turn out as interesting as it did?

In a world where flashbacks come and go like the sun, first impressions mean nothing. For that exact reason, it’s never clear who the main character of Penguindrum is. Even at the end, that distinction is still up in the air.

  • Does it really take this long for 7 people to kill each other? (Fate/Zero)

Everyone is so busy being chivalrous, playing spy games, and goofing off to actually do anything worthwhile, except talk that is. On the bright side, it wouldn’t be a Type Moon style battle royale otherwise. In other news, the next Carnival Phantasm will have all the servants face each other Royal Rumble WWE-style in a pro wresting ring.

Sky High, Blue Rose, Rock Bison, Wild Tiger, Barnaby Brooks, Dragon Kid, Fire Emblem, and Origami Cyclone. On the surface, they are protectors of justice, the heroes of Sternbild city. Underneath their costumes, however, they are real people with different strengths and weaknesses. While Kotetsu’s and Barnaby’s partnership remains the series’ the main focus, all of the heroes have their own unique story to tell. Though they are sponsored by different companies and corporations, they eventually get to know each other. By the end, they begin to see each other has team mates rather than rivals.

 “And now the part of the show where we revel in the manliest mecha designs of the past year.”

 “Dude check it out, it’s the Neon Knight.”

 “Wait, if you’re here, then that means blogger-kun…”

 “Yeah he’s long gone by now.”

Wielding a gigantic bone sword and dual handguns, this kaiser puts its predecessors to shame in the badass department. The new Mazinkaiser design replaces the classic Kaiser Pilder with the “Skull Pilder,” which requires two pilots instead of one.

  • Katsuhito Ishii, Takeshi Koike (Redline)

With a name like Redline, certain things come to mind: internal combustion engines, traction motors, tachometers, pistons, carburetors, and the like. Redline’s assortment of vehicular structures look absolutely stunning. Even more so when they finally explode.

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn boasts incredible production values and a wide assortment of memorable mecha designs. Of these include the Sinanju and the titular Unicorn Gundam. Robots exploding in space never looked so shiny.

At the start of the series, Kotetsu ditches his old Wild Tiger outfit and dons a state of the art power suit designed by Saito. He also starts riding a CG transforming motorcycle. Did anyone catch the scene where they pay tribute to Akira?

Break Blade or Broken Blade brings back the classic mish-mash of real mecha meets magic,  first pioneered by the likes of Ryosuke Takahashi of Dougram and Galient fame. Based on the manga of the same name by Yuunosuke Yoshinaga.

The original vanships from the first series were designed to resemble Miyazaki’s gunship design from Nausicaa. Fam of the Silver Wing introduces the more compact vespa, a smaller vanship using ropes and harpoons. The Silvius, successor to the Silvana, is the rogue cruiser for the series.

Tsuyoshi Nonaka goes straight from designing the updated Mazinger from Shin Mazinger Shougeki Z-hen to redesigning the baddest mech in Go Nagai’s arsenal, the Mazinkaiser. It doesn’t get much better than expandable bone swords and “breast triggers” holstered to the chest to create the Devilman face. The new dog is not without old tricks, however, as both the Turbo Smasher Punch and Rust Hurricane are alive and part of the arsenal. Even a modified version of the Getter Tomohawk from Getter Robo makes an appearance. While several artists are credited with mechanical designs, Nonaka is credited with the mecha design for both the SKL and the Wingle.

 “Music is the essential complement to story and animation. Music permeates all great works, whether TV show or movie. We gather here tonight to honor these composers who, with their music, turn great anime into outstanding anime. Here are the nominees for Best Original Score.”

Madoka’s musical score is largely a dark, brooding, and ominous body of work. Composed and arranged by Yuki Kajiura, who also produced the ending theme “Magia,” with vocals by Kalafina. The opening theme is “Connect” with vocals by ClariS.

At times, Penguindrum’s soundtrack features melodic whistles and downtrodden blues. Other times, it shifts into full-fledged shoujo fantasy land mode. Yukari Hashimoto composes the score and arranges most of the insert and ending themes. Jpop artist Etsuko Yakushimaru provides vocals for the two opening themes.

  • Taku Iwasaki, Masashi Takatori (Ben-to)

Known for his Jazz style of music, Taku Iwasaki brings his talents to the anime adaptation of Ben-to. The mostly upbeat score fits the bill rather nicely. Though Iwasaki gets the nomination for his work on Ben-to, he has also worked on Heaven’s Memo Pad as well as Kenji Nakamura’s [C] throughout the course of the year.

Such high production values, so little writing talent. For what it’s worth, the music of Guilty Crown is well produced. It’s a shame it’s not utilized as well as it should. Both the opening and ending themes are written by Supercell.

Meguro composed the original soundtrack for the Persona 4 video game. Many of the same tracks are re-used along with several new ones for the anime adaptation. The original score for the game featured a number of ambient tracks that tend to go well with extended sequences of dialogue.

How do you capture the magic of “Cloud Age Symphony” and “Over the Sky?” Apparently with School Food Punishment. Maaya Sakamoto provides vocals for the opening theme. Hitomi Kuroishi, who had previously worked on the first Last Exile, provides vocals for the ending theme.

At an early age, Ikuhara was heavily influenced by the theater music composer and rock opera artist J.A. Seazer. As a result, Utena’s original score became a stunning sensation when first heard all over Japan. Penguindrum’s music is very reminiscent of that time period and is certainly a labor of love rather than necessity. It features composition and arrangement by Yukari Hashimoto while being produced by Junnosuke Miyamoto. Most of the ending themes are covers from the 70s rock band ARB, which released the original Rock Over Japan album in 1987. The fictional idol group Triple H provides vocals.

 “What is this? Who the hell are you?”

 “Freelance animator. At your service. My friends call me Baldy.”

 “Are you from Madhouse? I called Madhouse!”

 “They’re a bit overworked these days. Luckily, I intercepted your call! Oh the gun? That’s a bit of a precaution. You see, I’ve had traps set for me before now. There are certain executives over at Madhouse who would LOVE to get their hands on a guy like me.”

 “Wait doesn’t that make you a freelance subversive? Isn’t this illegal?”

 “Well yes… and no. Officially, only contracted animators are supposed to touch this stuff. But with all the new rules and regulations, there’s been a shortage of decent staff.”

 “Wouldn’t it be easier to just work for Madhouse?”

 “Couldn’t stand the paperwork. It’s always read this, fill in that, hand in this form to schedule an appointment with the producers. Hell, the deadline could be six hours away and I still wouldn’t even be able to access my own storyboards without filling in a 27B/6. Bloody paperwork.”

 “Well I suppose one has to expect a certain amount.”

 “Why? I came into this game for adventure, to go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there’s trouble, a man alone, free and wild. Now they’ve got the whole industry sectioned off. You can’t even draw concept art without a form! I’m the last of the breed I tell you!… There, all done. The key frames you wanted.”

 “Thank you very much. Listen um… I don’t want to get involved in any of this, but I’m presenting the nominees for Best Animation Direction tonight at the Yaoming awards. It just so happens that a certain studio has filed a missing persons report. They’re looking for a rogue director, one Masaaki Yuasa. You wouldn’t happen to be—”

 “Call me Baldy. Yaoming Awards, eh? Interesting!”

Though the show’s initial television run suffered from off model still shots, it shined when it came to action sequences. Shinbo’s jarring style worked wonderfully during the various witch fights. Each sequence is unique and specially related to the situation at hand. Mika Takahashi and Jun’ichirou Taniguchi are credited as chief animation directors.

  • Takeshi Koike, Katsuya Yamada (Redline)

The once assistant to Madhouse founder Yoshiaki Kawajiri now has an assistant of his own. Koike and Yamada act as Redline’s animation directors, overseeing the work of over 30 key animators and even more in-betweeners in the creating 90 minutes of pure glory.

Like all of Matoko Shinkai’s works, everything looks simply beautiful. But unlike several of his previous movies, “Lost Voices” is not entirely about two people who spend a lot of time thinking to themselves.

While in-house animators Haruko Iizuka and Akira Takada oversaw the animation process, A-1 Pictures brought in a plethora of personnel to work on IDOLM@STER. The end product received contributions from 14 episode directors, over 30 animation directors, and well over a hundred different key animators. Hell, Hiroyuki Imaishi is in this thing.

You simply don’t see much fleet vs. fleet combat these days. Columns of ships lining up in formation. Dogfights between the individual vanship fighters. The ensuing chaos when all hell breaks loose. And finally the lone rogue cruiser fending off hordes of enemies. It’s all quite reminiscent of Space Battleship Yamato.

  • Tetsurou Araki, Kyouji Asano, Takaaki Chiba, Toshiyuki Yahagi, Satoshi Kadokawa, (Guilty Crown)

Production I.G. was too busy stacking animators they forgot to hire writers. And that’s just for the first half. On the bright side, several action sequences from Guilty Crown thus far have looked absolutely amazing.

As if anything else could have won this category. Redline grabs you by the throat from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the credits start rolling. The animation work is superb, with over 100,000 handmade drawings in total. The action sequences are jaw dropping. They even choose to fully animate that monstrous blob thing just so they wouldn’t be outdone by Katsuhiro Otomo and co. Redline truly deserves all the accolades it receives.



 “There’s many people! What’s going on?”

 “Well Miria, it looks like we’re at what’s called an Awards Ceremony! This year, they chose us to present the nominees for Best Adapted Script! I think they want us to say something first before they give the award.”

 “Amazing! An Awards Ceremony!? We better think of something funny to say for our audience!”


 “Hmm… I can’t think of anything!”

 “Well Miria, that’s because Mr. Narita isn’t writing our scripts anymore! Instead, it’s just some random blogger on the internet!”

 “Wow! You mean the reason we can’t come up with anything witty to say is all because of this blogger character?”

 “Yeah, what a guy!”

 “You don’t say! I guess writers really are important!”

Tou Ubukata’s science fiction novel series paints the classic cyberpunk setting with several twists thrown in. Due to the high crime rate, the Mardock 09 protocol is introduced to revive crime witnesses. Ubukata is actively involved in writing the script while Susumu Kudou directs.

  • Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Satou, Jukki Hanada, Masahiro Yokotani, Toshizou Nemoto (Steins;Gate)

The original Nitroplus and 5pb visual novel makes the transition to anime with the help of co-directors Hamasaki and Satou, along with several additional writers and supervisors. Hanada Jukki is credited with series composition. Interesting enough, Jukki pens the script for episodes 1-5 as well as 20-24.

Midorikawa’s manga Natsume’s Book of Friends began serialization in 2005. It has since been received fairly well, going on to become a finalist for the 2008 Manga Taishou award, and now spawning an anime approaching its fourth season. Brain’s Base’s Takahiro Oomori directs. Sadyuki Murai is credited with series composition.

  • Yumi Unita, Kanta Kamei, Taku Kishimoto (Usagi Drop)

Yumi Unita’s original manga tells the story of a 30-year-old salary man who becomes guardian of the illegitimate six-year daughter of his grandfather, effectively making her his aunt. It should win an award for that alone. Thankfully, the anime adaptation opted to avoid the latter parts of the manga. That takes guts in today’s industry you know…

  • Yuki Suetsugu, Morio Asaka, Naoya Takayama (Chihayafuru)

The wildly popular manga and winner of both Manga Taishou and Kodansha awards brings into the spotlight a not-so-widely known game (at least in the west). Morio Asaka directs. Naoya Takayama is credited with series composition.

  • Ango Sakaguchi, Seiji Mizushima, Shou Aikawa (UN-GO)

Detective story meets sci-fi and the supernatural. UN-GO is directed by Seiji Mizushima, written by Shou Aikawa while being loosely based on the novel Meiji Kaika Ango Torimono-chou by author Ango Sakaguchi.

It seems that once a year, the “supreme being of anime” gazes down at us mortals, takes pity, and allows for one and only one anime adaptation of a visual novel to not completely suck. Well in 2011, that anime was Steins;Gate. In keeping with the general structure of the VN, the first several episodes seem painfully slow at times. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from Texhnolyze, it’s to trust in Hiroshi Hamasaki. Those who stuck with it were rewarded with one of the best sci-fi thrillers in recent years. Most importantly, the main character Rintarou Okabe was very well written. The show’s success eventually enabled a movie to be green lit.

 “Good shows are products of good writing. But as proficient animators dwindle in number, so do proficient writers. In this day and age, it may be simpler to lift a script straight from a novel or manga, tweak it a bit, and call it a day. It takes great skill to do it all from scratch. Personally, I’ve witnesses several masterpieces in my day and I’d like to share a little piece with you tonight. I believe these words came from…the POKEMON movie… LIFE can be a challenge. LIFE can seem impossible. It’s nevah EEEASSEH…… when there’s so much… on the LIIINNNEE.”

Studio Bones’ in-house anime project Star Driver began during fall season 2010 and finished winter of 2011. Directed by Takuya Igarashi with assistance from Yoshiyuki Asai. Youji Enokido, of Utena and FLCL fame, pens the script.

Due to Urobuchi’s history of working on dark and depressing stories, the producers of Madoka originally planned to keep his involvement a secret. However, when the staff was leaked prematurely, Shinbo wanted to “surprise” the audience, thus they purposely mislead fans to believe that Madoka would be a “healing type” anime.

  • Katsuhito Ishii, Takeshi Koike, Youji Enokido (Redline)

The planning for Redline long ago after the completion of Trava Fist Planet. From there, it spiraled into a full-scale movie production which marked the directorial debut of Takeshi Koike. Katushito Ishii and Youji Enokido share script writing duties. This is the second time Youji Enokido is nominated for the same award.

Kenji Nakamura’s latest project is meant, in many ways, to parallel the current economic situation in real life. Nakamura stated in an interview that he simply wanted to get people interested in the subject matter, rather than provide the answers. Noboru Takagi is credited with series composition.

  • Masayuki Ozaki, Keiichi Satou, Masafumi Nishida (Tiger & Bunny)

Tiger & Bunny takes place in a futuristic city, but it feels more down to earth than most other sci-fi depictions out there that take the post-cyberpunk route. The Sunrise in-house production is directed by Keiichi Satou. Masayuki Ozaki, Seiji Takeda, and Jun Takei are the executive producers. Masafumi Nishida is credited with series composition.

In his newest work titled Mawaru Penguindrum, Kunihiko Ikuhara directs, as well as co-writes the script and screenplay with fellow writer Takayo Ikami. Certainly a return to his trademark storytelling form, Penguindrum features everything one would expect from the man who rivals Hideaki Anno in abstruseness.

If there’s one thing I want to see more of in today’s industry, it’s things like Tiger & Bunny. True, none of the plot points or characters are revolutionary by any means. However, the fact that an original anime project can do something other than shove teenage girls down viewers’ throats and still turn a profit is quite a feat indeed. Whatever they’re doing, they are one to something here. The success of Tiger & Bunny has spawned a sequel project entailing two movies. Let’s hope the success continues.

 “It’s very flattering and all, to be able to present the nominees for Best Director. But I have to admit, I’m sort of in a hurry. While you people are sitting here stroking each other’s egos, putting on fake smiles, and sitting through forced comedic banter, there is real danger that exists out there in the world. Every waking second, evil lurks around the corners and dark alleyways of Akihabara. To fight the injustices of this city and to bear the weight of its sin, someone must don the mask of the Dark Knight. So go ahead and roll the nominees already. I’m late for work.”

Madoka was business as usual for Akiyuki Shinbo, who is known for his surreal visual style. He has been involved with numerous SHAFT productions including Bakemonogatari, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and Arakawa Under the Bridge. Both Shinbo and Miyamoto work exclusively for SHAFT.

Seven years in the making, Redline is the official directorial debut of Takeshi Koike. The once protégé of Yoshiaki Kawajiri is now one step closer to becoming one of the greats. The opening title sequence made sure everyone knew his name.

We’ve been calling him the next Miyazaki for years and now he’s finally looking like it. Shinkai’s movie, whose title can pass as a full sentence, boasts gorgeous visuals. The story takes many ques from classic Ghibli flicks.

From the up-and-coming director Kenji Nakamura comes the enigmatically titled [C]. Produced in conjunction with the noitaminA programming block, [C] is a short, intriguing series that calls to attention the state of economics and decision theory.

The directors of Steins;Gate show their uncanny ability to absorb viewers into their world. With the help of co-director Takuya Satou as well as the entire production team, Hamasaki has proven that good anime adaptations to visual novels are possible.

The million dollar question: what would he do next? There’s never telling what the answer might be. Shouko Nakamura and Kunihiko Ikuhara bring us the spiritual successor to Revolutionary Girl Utena. Nothing is off-limits.

Though there certainly are exceptions, the way I’ve always viewed the director-producer relationship is thus: directors are there to say yes and producers are there to say no. Yes, we should totally animate that sequence. No, our time and budget constraints allow us only to do so much. Yes, this character should be killed off. No, that character is a fan favorite and a crucial selling point. Yes, let’s tweak so and so’s character design. No, we’ve already distributed storyboards to contracted parties and changing things now would cause a lot of problems.

Good directors must not only have the ability to think big, but also the focus and discipline to make it all work. When is this not the case? Perhaps if there’s ever an anime production with infinite budget and infinite timescale. Or maybe under the rare circumstance when someone acts as both director and producer. Ikuhara did this in 1997; he was his own producer during the making of Utena. Free to do what he wanted, the result was a timeless masterpiece.

Now in the current state of the industry, the challenge is greater than ever before. That is why Akiyuki Shinbo and Yukihiro Miyamoto are both recipients of the 2011 Yaoming Award for best director. There’s no doubt that each of the nominees are visionaries in their own right. Whether it is Koike’s race cars, Shinkai’s clouds, Nakamura’s financial plan, Hamasaki’s jelly bananas, or Ikuhara’s penguins. All of them have amazing stories to tell. But in the end, it is the directors of Madoka Magica that tell their story the best. Akiyuki Shinbo, SHAFT’s premiere director, understands his position perfectly. He takes Gen Urobuchi’s script and pulls it off flawlessly. It didn’t take seven years, nor did it need an extra twelve episodes.

 “Listen lad. I built this kingdom up from nothin’. Before I started Saito Pro, all of this was swamp. The three kings of manga said I was daft to build a studio in a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show ’em. Baron Air sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. Typhoon Goro also sank into the swamp. So I built a third one. Muyonosuke burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one, Golgo 13, stayed up, and that’s what you’re gonna get lad.”

 “But…father… I don’t want any of that… I’d rather… I’d rather… just… SING!~”

 “Stop that, stop that! You’re not gonna do a song while I’m here. Now listen lad, in five minutes, we’re going to walk on stage before all of Japan to present the nominees for Best Production Studio. Just do what we rehearsed. I’ll do the talking. You look at the audience without saying a word. Everything will be fine. Just promise me. NO SINGING.”

  • P.A. Works

Originally founded by Kenji Horikawa, PA Works has only been in business for a decade. Much of its early years were spent doing production assistance and video game animation. It wasn’t until 2008 that the studio produced its first TV show, True Tears, based on the visual novel of the same name. 2011 saw the TV broadcast of the studio’s 10th anniversary project, Hanasaku Iroha. The show spanned 25 episodes and boasted superb production values throughout.

  • Sunrise

Sunrise was founded on giant robots and science fiction, but throughout the years, they’ve shown their proficiency in all fronts and genres. The studio spent the year 2010 working solely on producing movies and home video. 2011 marked the its return to television production with Tiger & Bunny, a show that stirred up old memories of yet another Sunrise masterpiece more than a decade ago.


One of the most successful studios in recent year’s. Copious use of gags, references, and in-jokes seems to have struck a chord with the otaku demographic. 2009′s Bakemonogatari was highly successful in this regard, eventually opening up several paths for the studio to take moving forward. In 2011, after being shoved under the table for years, SHAFT finally green lights a certain magical girl anime script composed by Gen Urobuchi.

  • Madhouse

Definitely one of the bigger studio’s out there. With 100 employees and several hundred more subsidiaries, there is rarely a lull in Madhouse’s productivity. 2011 was no exception. Redline, despite having been finished 2 years prior, finally gets a BD release. The Marvel experiment finally comes to a close. And on the home video front, both Roberta’s Blood Trail and Supernatural have finished their run.

  • Brain’s Base

The red-hot studio Brain’s Base coming off of last year’s success stormed into 2011 with guns blazing. The past year was the studio’s busiest yet, having worked on the remake of Dororon Enma-kun as well as reviving their solid Natsume Yuujinchou franchise. They also animated Ikuhara’s penguins.

  • Production I.G.

One of the leaders in digital animation and effects, Production I.G. has a history of top-tier productions including the likes of Ghost in the Shell and Eden of the East. Their top hit of 2011 is arguably the 11-episode TV series Usagi Drop. Both Usagi Drop and Guilty Crown are part of the noitaminA programming block on Fuji TV. Other works include Blood-C as well as the remake of Appleseed.

2011 was a busy year for many animation studios, but none quite as busy as Brain’s Base. The 45-employee studio was, at one point, animating three shows at once. Their two biggest hits of 2011 were no doubt Natsume Yuujinchou San and Mawaru Penguindrum. But the clincher in the end has really got to be their decision to remake the classic Go Nagai manga Dororon Enma-kun (for TV no less). Yet another reason for Go Nagai fans to appreciate Brain’s Base who originally started out by working on the likes of Getter Robo and Mazinkaiser. Going into 2012, Brain’s Base is already busy working on the fourth season of Natsume Yuujinchou.

 “Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such OVA spots as “What is Anime?” and “It’s Not a Cartoon Dad!” Today I’m here to tell you about the 2011 Yaoming Award for Best Original Video Animation. Let’s meet the nominees.”

The events of Mazinkaiser SKL take place on an island isolated from the rest of the world. It’s the perfect battleground for some good old-fashioned super robot carnage. Jun Kawagoe is the director. Tadashi Hayakawa is credited with series composition. Scenario and mechanical designs based on the classic Go Nagai manga.

The terminator maid from Black Lagoon is back and this time she gets her own arc. Story based on the original manga by Rei Hiroe. Directed and written by Sunao Katabuchi.

After a hiatus of two years, Hellsing Ultimate finally returns. That’s a long time to spend on a boat. Story based on the original manga by Kouta Hirano. The ending sequence brought back a classic Yasushi Ishii track.

The third of a planned six OVA episodes based on the novel by Harutoshi Fukui. Takes place in the Universal Century timeline. Directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi.

Originally based off the popular American television series, Madhouse decides to bring it to Japan much in the same vein as the Marvel adaptations (except in OVA form). Directed by Atsuko Ishizuka and Shigeyuki Miya.

It’s the Nasuverse on crack cocaine. Created to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Type Moon. Based on the manga Take Moon, Carnival Phantasm features parody stories of various Type Moon characters. Directed by Seiji Kishi.

Those fans old enough to remember the 80s may remember the video boom. Single episode OVAs with isolated stories that did not require any other prior knowledge to watch. Mazinkaiser SKL really feels like one of those old style OVAs. The so-called plot is nothing more than an excuse to get the kaiser to where the action is. From the moment metal theme from Loudness kicks in and the Mazinkaiser begins to tear it up, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride.

 “And now, the nominees for Best Anime Movie. Did you know I once had a bet with Katsu-san who could make the longest anime movie? It’s true. I thought I had him with Odin, but he beat me with Yamato Final by a whole 24 minutes!”

An anime adaptation of Mary Norton’s 1952 novel, Arrietty is the newest addition to the Ghibli family. Directed by long time Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who had previously worked on Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki writes the adapted screenplay.

Over seven years in the making, Redline first premiered back in 2009. It would take another two years before the highly vaunted film was released on Blu Ray. Redline marks the official directorial debut of Takeshi Koike.

Half Ghost in the Shell style cyber-action and half Yasuomi Umetzu inspired pedophilia, Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is the first of a planned trilogy. Based off the novel by Tow Ubukata, which finally makes it onto the big screen after years of delays. Directed by Susumu Kudou.

The second Macross Frontier film. The highly anticipated, action-filled conclusion does not disappoint. Winner of the Best Film category for both the 2011 Animation Kobe and Newtype Magazine Awards. Written and directed by Shoji Kawamori.

Colorful follows the first person narrative of a soul that has died but was given a second chance at life. Calm, dramatic, and realistic, Colorful moved audiences enough to be nominated for the Japan Academy award for Animation of the Year. Based on the award-winning novel by Mori Ito and directed by Keiichi Hara.

Famed director Makoto Shinkai’s latest film bares a stark resemblance to several classic Ghibli movies. The long-winded film debuted to American audiences during Otakon 2011 where it was well received.

This is the second time Redline has won a Yaoming, first for Best Animation Direction and Cinematography and now for Best Anime Movie. While the animation is certainly amazing, it is not the only positive thing it has got for it. Ishii’s character designs, Enokido’s script, and James Shimoji’s music are all equally superb. Above all, Redline feels like a complete movie. It truly is a labor of love. Of all the movies nominated, it is the most reminiscent of perhaps the largest labor of love in anime to date: Macross DYRL. Yes, even Macross Frontier loses to Redline in this respect.

 “Everybody, I’ve got bad news. We’ve been cancelled.”

 “What!? How could they do that!?”

 “Well unfortunately, there’s just no more room for Hero TV on the schedule. We just gotta accept the fact that SBS has to make room for terrific shows like Fractale, Dog Days, Rio Rainbow Gate, Lotte’s Toy, Fortune Arterial, Ladies vs Butlers, Queen’s Blade, Freezing, Infinite Stratos, We Without Wings, Asobi ni Iku Yo! and Barnaby the Bunny…”

 “Is there no hope?”

 “Well I suppose if ALL those shows go down the tubes we might have a shot.”

The highly successful magical girl anime from SHAFT stormed the Winter 2011 season. Deviating greatly from its promotional material, it managed to pull a fast one on many viewers. Created and written by scenario writer Gen Urobuchi. Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, well-known amongst fans as one of SHAFT’s premier directors.

Sunrise’s long-awaited return to television instilled, in the minds of many older fans, that Japanese anime could still find success without pandering to the otaku populace. Directed by Keiichi Satou. Original story by Studio Sunrise et al.

Physics and Dr. Pepper come together to make the hit TV series adapted from the visual novel of the same name. Despite a narrower target demographic, Steins;Gate does reward those with patience. Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki.

Production I.G. and Fuji TV’s noitaminA block team up to give us a rather heartwarming tale, along with something to mull over for most of us younger fans. Based off the manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Yumi Unita. Directed by Kanta Kamei.

Penguins and more penguins. The highly anticipated TV show marked the return of former Be Papas founding member: the half genius, half incomprehensible, but always fabulous Kunihiko Ikuhara. Chief Direction by Shouko Nakamura. Original character designs by Lily Hoshino. Animated penguins courtesy of Studio Brain’s Base.

A detective story that blends political intrigue with the supernatural. Shinjuurou Yuuki, the last great detective, searches for “the truth” amidst a futuristic and war-torn Tokyo. Studio Bones’ fourth admission into the noitaminA programming block on Fuji TV. Series based off the novel by Ango Sakaguchi and directed by Seiji Mizushima.

After meticulously picking apart isolated regions of certain shows in the previous categories (such as music, writing or animation), the final category should be a cinch. Among all the shows mentioned, Madoka has had the most nominees across the board. Not a single TV show from the year 2011 has seen the level of critical acclaim or success that Madoka has. BD sales have been astronomical with 53,000 first volume copies sold in its first week, breaking the previous record held by Bakemonogatari. It swept the Newtype awards by winning 12 categories. It won the television award at the 16th Animation Kobe Awards. It also won the animation grand prize at the 2011 Japan Media Arts Awards. Now tack on a Yaoming for Best Anime TV Series to that list. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the anime of the year. It even got the approval of Kazuo freaking Koike. What more do you want?

 “That’s the last of ’em! What a night it has been!”

 “Oh God is it really over? Please tell me it’s over. You better not be lying you little stuffed bear. A man can only handle so much tryhard in one sitting.”

 “C’mon dude. After seeing the winners shine tonight, even you’ve gotta admit there’s still good anime coming out of Japan.”

 “Leave the man be. He’s the reason we can even watch anime in the first place. His face is the only thing keeping us sane.”

 “Yeah man, you still owe me big time for Baby Princess.”

 “So what do we do now? Blogger-kun is still out cold, so I guess we’re still free to do whatever.”

 “We’re all stand-in hosts, so let’s take the moment to say goodbye. On behalf of all the presenters, all the nominees, and all of tonight’s winners, we’d like to thank everyone who tuned in! We bid thee farewell. Until the next time Anime New Modality’s author has a mental breakdown. EL PSY CONGROO.”

 “Anime sucks!”


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8 Responses to 2011 Yaoming Awards

  1. rennbiber says:

    Whoa, this took me forever to read. Worth it though. I really liked the Isaac/Miria skit–Narita would be proud. 😀

    Glad to see Tiger & Bunny pick up so many awards. I think it went a bit under-appreciated among English-speaking anime bloggers, although it had great sales (mostly from fujoshi, but whatever). Did a mental fist-pump when you gave Kotetsu best male lead.

    Come to think of it, I can’t outright disagree with any of these, even if my personal favorites didn’t win. Great read and happy new year. 🙂

  2. Scamp says:

    Ah come on, Mazinkaizer getting best mech design? Those things are completely overdesigned, tacking on skulls and whatever until it just looks stupid. Give me those Break Blade mechs anyday

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Mazinger Z design in Shin Mazinger was only lifted from Ishikawa’s Mazinger Z: Relic of Terror manga.

    @Scamp It’s called LOLOPINIONS. Break Blade designs aren’t bad, but they’re something you’d see in any mecha anime production these days. Giant robots are first and foremost implausible and most importantly stupid, so if you tell me that adding skulls to a giant robot stupid, then I’d say that any giant robot with a cape is stupid (which both skl and break blade are guilty of). SKL isn’t supposed to look elegant. It’s supposed to look like your stereotypical hair metal dude with extra strong gel. And the thing is, the robot actually blends well with the actual atmosphere and tone of the show as both try to glorify the good old hair metal music of the 80s.

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