Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best of 2011

The things listed below aren't necessarily everything I enjoyed this year, but they're what I would whole-heartedly recommend to someone with tastes similar to mine. Nothing is listed in any particular order, and I have only included works that I've written whole posts about.

Reading:
  • The Only Gold (e-book) by Tamara Allen - Historical m/m romance with a bit of action near the end.
  • The Iron Duke (book) by Meljean Brook - Steampunk romance, and, I think, the best steampunk I read this year.
  • Kimi ni Todoke (manga) by Karuho Shiina - I've written about three volumes of this series, although I've read many volumes more than that. This is a wonderfully sweet shoujo series that could probably make my poor heart explode if I read too much of it in one sitting.
  • Bleeding Violet (book) by Dia Reeves - Although I connected more with Reeves' Slice of Cherry than I did with this book, I'd be more likely to recommend Bleeding Violet to others. Reeves gets lots of kudos from me for creating a setting that is so interesting and vibrant that it could be considered a main character.
  • A Bride's Story (manga) by Kaoru Mori - I've only written about the first volume, although I've read the second one. The artwork is beautiful, and the characters, culture, and setting are interesting. This series is highly recommended to those who'd like a gorgeous slice-of-life story. If I were still in college, taking Anthropology classes, I'd be encouraging all my classmates to try this.
  • Chi's Sweet Home (manga) by Konami Kanata - If you're a cat lover, I urge you to try this series, even if you've never read manga before. Chi is incredibly adorable, and those who have lived with and loved cats with find much to relate to.
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar (e-book) by Maurice Leblanc - Of all the things I really enjoyed reading in 2011, this is the oldest, and it can be gotten for free via Project Gutenberg. Okay, so it's a little eye-roll-worthy, but it's still lots of fun.
  • Skip Beat! (manga) by Yoshiki Nakamura - A shoujo series that feels like a shounen series. There's romance, but the heroine, Kyoko, is too focused on her goal of becoming a bigger star than her ex-boyfriend to notice - and it's an absolute blast.
  • Emma (manga) by Kaoru Mori - I finally finished reading this series in 2011, although I read the bulk of the series earlier. Mori's historical cross-class romance is lovely. This series may appeal to a broader audience than A Bride's Story, simply because there's a bit more going on. Unfortunately, unless you get it via the library, it can be difficult and expensive to track down. Hopefully it will get rereleased.
  • Sleight of Hand (e-novella) by Katrina Strauss - The only thing on my list that could be classified as erotic romance. This novella is what got me interested in Strauss's works.
  • A Rose is a Rose (e-book) by Jet Mykles - I debated whether or not to include this one in the list, because, while Carson was a vibrant, wonderful character, Eddie could have used more fleshing out. Still, I really enjoyed this book, so I decided to let it squeak by.
  • Marrying Miss Marshall (book) by Lacy Williams - Another book I decided to let squeak by. It's maybe not the best of the best, but I really loved the heroine. This is the only inspirational romance on this list, and the only inspirational romance I read in 2011.
  • On Apology (non-fiction book) by Aaron Lazare - This is the only non-fiction book I read in 2011. It did a wonderful job of helping me think more about about apologies, why they're necessary, and what makes an apology good or bad.
  • Among the Living (e-novella) by Jordan Castillo Price - This novella prompted me to buy a few more of Price's works. If those are just as good, Price will be getting more of my money in 2012.
Listening:
Viewing:
  • Baccano! (anime TV series) - This is cheating, a bit, because I included it in last year's list after watching it on Hulu. In 2011, I wrote about the DVD release. It's a fantastic, fast-paced, adrenaline-packed, gory show.
  • Spice & Wolf (anime TV series) and Spice & Wolf II (anime TV series) - Lawrence and Holo may be one of my all-time favorite anime couples. I didn't quite like the second season as much as the first, but I still thought this was a great show overall.
  • Big Windup! (anime TV series) - Like Baccano!, adding this series to the list feels like cheating, because it was on my 2010 list too - in 2010, I watched the series on Hulu, while in 2011 I bought the DVD release. I wish this show had been popular enough in the U.S. to warrant the licensing of the second season. It reminded me of why I like sports anime and manga - there's so much energy, and I absolutely loved the various friendships.
  • Dark Side Cat (anime) - This show's combination of its length (6 episodes, each approximately 6 minutes long), energy, and humor made it something I would recommend, although that might not have been the case if it had been a longer series.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender (non-Japanese animation) - This series starts off good and just gets better. Yes, its intended audience is children, so there's some goofy humor, but this is a fabulous show that I would recommend to adults, too.
  • Taisho Baseball Girls (anime TV series) - Had this been a better year for anime watching for me, this series might not have made the list, because the girls were more cliched than I would have liked. Still, it's a fun series, and I cheered for the girls as they played their final match against the boys.
  • RideBack (anime TV series) - This is one of the few mecha anime I've seen that I've actually enjoyed. Although I thought the beginning of the series was the strongest part (I LOVED watching Rin fall in love with RideBack riding and translate her love for and experience with ballet into her riding), it's still a good show overall.
  • Maria Watches Over Us (anime TV series) - This series took a bit of time to grow on me, because the girls' hyper-femininity didn't always sit well with me. I think this is the first yuri show I've ever seen. It's pretty, melodramatic, and a bit addictive.
  • Special A (anime TV series) - Added because this list needs some sparkly shoujo romance. No, it's not the best shoujo romance of all time, but it's probably the best I saw in 2011.
  • Soul Eater (anime TV series) - I'm not as fond of the latter half of the series, but the first half of it is gold. It's eye-catching, fun, and inventive. Like other shounen series, there are enough characters packed into it that everyone is sure to have at least one favorite. Mine is Death the Kid.

4 comments:

  1. I love A:TLA and Soul Eater. Man. Those are some pretty good shows ^-^ Shame Avatar had to end though...

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  2. Have you heard about the new series that will be airing soon, Avatar: The Legend of Korra? It takes place a few decades in the original series' future - Katara is old, Aang is dead, and I'm not sure how many of the other characters are still around. The clips I've seen look pretty good (I think they got an even better animation budget this time around), although I'll miss seeing all the original characters together.

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  3. I have! Although I'm kind of disappointed that she's already mastered three of the four elements. I was looking forward to more of the development-type thing that Aang had to go through. (Also, I wish Aang would still be alive; I kind of want to see him as an old man. But then I guess we wouldn't have Korra). I'm kind of hoping for Korra to pick up a gang like Aang had, but then it would just be a repeat of the original series. Still, it'd be very nice.

    I think I'll watch those clips since I had no idea they were even out o.o

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