As I mentioned in my top 10 post, the top 5 spots were pretty easy to identify this year (though not the order). By contrast, the last few spots on that list were brutally difficult, as there were at least 9 or 10 shows that were neck-and-neck and could easily have made the top 10. 2011 wasn’t a year with a lot of true masterpieces, but I think it was fairly deep in very good anime – so this second 10 is a darn good list of series in its own right.
11. Mashiro-iro Symphony. A difficult omission, a show I really came to love and only the third this season to make me cry (Pannya!). One of the best romance VN adaptations ever, and against all odds the right girl won.
12. Tiger & Bunny. If it had ended after about 19-20 eps, would have likely made the list. Kotetsu is one of the best characters of the year, and it was a great Japanese take on American superhero comics. In the end it got a bit too predictable and preposterous.
13. Level E. No series I can remember has so gleefully trolled its audience, and no character been more of a troll than Prince Baka. A bizarre choice for an adaptation, but always entertaining and occasionally brilliant.
14. UN-GO. Like Mashifoni, a series I would have said had zero chance after a few eps, but it ended up being incredibly smart and very entertaining. Some of the best political commentary in recent anime and (mostly) well-constructed mysteries.
15. Nastume Yuujinchou San. Another terrific season from Brain’s Base. I didn’t love it quite as much as the first two, because the change in focus to Natsume’s human circle wasn’t as compelling. But that’s just my personal taste – it was still rock-solid.
16. Shinryaku!? Ika Musume. It was a kinder and warmer season, and somewhat less dynamic and less frequently hilarious. I still love these characters, and I enjoyed every episode, with a few brilliant standouts as good as anything in S1.
17. R-15. My “Honorable Mention” winner and the most surprising series of 2011. So much more than you think it will be – clever, smart, sweet and even deep. Catch it on Blu-ray without the censor bars. Banzai, Peace.
18. Dororon Enma-Kum Meerameera. A hilarious reboot of Go Nagai’s 70’s manga and TV series. Started slowly but offered perhaps the biggest laughs of the season when it was at its very best. So ecchi and so gleefully wrong I couldn’t help but love it.
19. Nekogami Yaoyorazu. The only show in the Top 20 that I didn’t blog, and I wish I had. A simple and humble series, full of gentle comedy, brilliant seiyuu performances and real warmth. Incredibly easy to watch and enjoy, a real sleeper.
20. Ao no Exorcist. Another series that looked like a potential Top 10, but faded late as the anime (which really started too soon) had to veer off the manga storyline. Still, an overall rock-solid shounen with A-1’s usual high quality and a compelling premise.