Best Anime Series of 2011 – Follow Up

It seems like not so long ago that I originally did the 2011 list and now half the year is over! I have so far only seen Madoka from this list but really look forward to getting some time to go through Steins;Gate, Fate;Zero and Level E among others. After crunching though the data to find out the best anime of 2011, here are a few interesting trends and analyses to share.


Out of all the sources, there are three board categories that I can segment them into:

Ranking – the original sources are blogs and various rankings done by other blogs. In general, I imagine that the demographics are anime watchers who  care more deeply about their animes to actually have enough time to write blogs. In comparison, they probably prefer more intellectual animes

Rating – These encompass all the other rating websites. The demographic covers more casual viewers. They prefer less thinking animes.

Voting – Sites or polls that let users vote for the best or favourite series out of a list. Since this is user-based, the demographic is similar to the ‘rating’ category.

Thoughtcannon and I were discussing previously that different groups may prefer different anime. For example, more indy/artsy/complicated series like Madoka or Serial Experiment Lain will score higher with bloggers have watched more anime and may appreciate the hidden depth beneath them. On the other hand, general publics with trend towards more action-based/’straightforward’ anime like Steings;Gate or FMA: Brotherhood.  To prove this I am using ‘ranking’ as proxies for those who watch animes in more quantity more thoroughly, and ‘rating’ as proxy for the general publics.

The table below show the average ranks for each title from each category.

  • For example all ranking sources rank Usagi drop on average at #4.4 relative to other series; Whereas all rating sources rank it #3.3
  • ‘Diff Rt-Rk’ ia simply [rating rank – ranking rank]. I use this as a proxy to determine how the two categories differ in their perception of a particular series. If this is negative, rating has better perception of the series and vice versa.
Rank Title Ranking Rating Voting Diff Rt-Rk Lowest
1 Steins;Gate 2.8 1.2 2.0 (1.6) Rating
2 Puella Magi Madoka Magica 1.0 3.8 1.0   2.8 Ranking
3 Usagi Drop 4.4 3.3 6.0 (1.1) Rating
4 Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai 6.1 3.2 3.0 (2.9) Rating
5 Fate/zero 6.0 4.1 16.0 (1.9) Rating
6 Mawaru Penguindrum 5.1 9.0 5.0   3.9 Ranking
7 Nichijou 13.3 8.0 7.0 (5.3) Rating
8 Tiger & Bunny 11.7 10.5 4.0 (1.2) Rating
9 Hanasaku Iroha 14.7 9.3 8.0 (5.4) Rating
10 Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 28.6 6.0 19.0 (22.6) Rating
11 Gosick 27.6 8.8 13.0 (18.8) Rating
12 Blue Exorcist 29.8 14.1 9.0 (15.7) Rating
13 Level E 20.8 14.8 36.0 (6.0) Rating
14 Hourou Musuko 11.4 19.4 59.0   8.0 Ranking
15 I Don’t Have Many Friends 27.9 23.1 10.0 (4.8) Rating
16 Deadman Wonderland 29.8 18.2 27.0 (11.6) Rating
17 Un-Go 17.6 27.7 23.0 10.1 Ranking
18 Ben-To 25.1 25.6 18.0 0.5 Ranking
19 The iDOLM@STER 24.2 29.4 22.0 5.2 Ranking
20 Toriko 30.0 22.7 37.0 (7.3) Rating
21 Infinite Stratos 39.3 24.1 12.0 (15.3) Rating
22 Star Driver 30.5 29.4 15.0 (1.0) Rating
23 [C] 23.7 29.4 33.0 5.7 Ranking
24 No. 6 35.5 29.4 11.0 (6.1) Rating
25 Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 28.2 24.8 49.0 (3.4) Rating
26 Ikoku Meiro no Croisee 25.6 24.3 65.0 (1.3) Rating
27 Kamisama Dolls 30.3 29.4 37.0 (0.9) Rating
28 Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts 32.0 29.4 37.0 (2.5) Rating
29 Hunter x Hunter 2011 36.3 18.2 95.0 (18.1) Rating
30 Is This a Zombie? 30.5 26.5 81.0 (4.0) Rating
31 Beelzebub 27.5 26.7 91.0 (0.7) Rating
  • Series with the most positive numbers (top 15): Hourou Musuko; Mawaru Penguindrum; Madoka. These are all more intellectual animes. Interestingly, they match the aforementioned theory discussed. Bloggers rank these series higher than the casual viewers
  • Series with most negative: Kimi ni Todoke, Gosick, Blue Exorcist. I don’t know about Gosick and Blue Exorcist but I can see Kimi ni Todoke as a crowd-pleasers that would appeal to casual fans than more serious ones.
  • After Kimi ni Todoke, Nichijou and Hanasaku Iroha have the next lowest score in the top 10. Interestingly, these are all slice-of-life, easy-to-follow shows that seems to be easier for normal fans to like.
  • Usagi Drop, Tiger & Bunny and Steins;Gate have the smallest gap between the two rankings. I categorize these as the most accessible anime by all types of fans.
  • Ranking sources-only top five: 1) Madoka, 2) Steins;Gates, 3) Usagi Drop, 4) Mawaru Penguindrum, 5) Fate-Zero
  • Rating souces-only top five: 1) Steins;Gate, 2) Usagi Drop, 3) Madoka, 4) AnoHana, 5) Fate/Zero


The chart below shows a scatter plot between quality ranking and popularity ranking. Popularity ranking is based on ranking of total number of users from MAL, ANN, AniDB, Ani-Platnet and Vote sources. Anything ‘under’ [corrected based on Taka’s comment] the red line I can consider as ‘overrated’, i.e. more people have seen it than its quality suggest.

  • The most overrated series based on this analysis are:
  1. Blue Exorcist (11)
  2. Deadman Wonderland (10)
  3. Gosick (5)
  • Most underrated are:
  1. Mawaru Penguindrum (-9)
  2. Fate/zero (-5)
  3. Tiger & Bunny (-5)


The next thing I wonder about is how each source actually compares to the final result. I have com up with this source comparison analysis. A source with perfect fit will have a fit score of 5.0. The further away from this number, the worse the fit is to the final table

Source Type Weight Fit score
MAL Rating 22% 5.6
Vote Voting 15% 7.1
SA Ranking 10% 9.3
ANN Rating 10% 5.9
AniDB Rating 10% 5.8
AniP Rating 10% 6.3
Blog Ranking 9% 6.6
AniBlogger Ranking 7% 8.2
Desu Ex Ranking 7% 14.2
  • Vote and SA are furthest away from the final ranking, given their higher weight. Both of the discrepencies seem to come from their bad rankings of Kimi ni Todoke II in general.  (38th and 19th respectively).
  • Unsurprisingly, MAL has the best fit, given its high weight. ANN and AniDB also do pretty well


Standard deviations measure the spread of the data. The lower the number, the closer all the data is to the mean. High number means the spread is higher.

  • Steins;Gate has by far the lowest SD.
  • Within the top 20, Kimi ni Todoke and Hourou Musuko have the highest standard deviations


  • All 9 sources rank Steins;Gates in the top 3
  • Madoka has the most no. 1 rank and all three ranking sources (Blog, Something Aweful, Desu Ex) put it on top of the ladder
  • 4 sources rank Kimi ni Todoke II 6th. It  is pulled down by Vote and SA as mentioned above
  • Outside of Steins;Gate and Madoka, Usagi is the only other series which garner a 1st vote (5, 3 and 1 respectively)

Here it is for now. I will get some time off from work and school next month so hopefully I will have more time to update this blog more often!

10 Comments on “Best Anime Series of 2011 – Follow Up”

  1. Taka says:

    First off…I’m not really sure what’s up with your graph. I’m not sure if I’m interpreting it right, but if the labels underneath correspond to the marker above then Penguindrum has a popularity rating of ~15 and a quality rating of ~6. You also said anything above the red line can be considered overrated, I don’t know if I’m misinterpreting the graph or what.

    Blue Exorcist is a heavy shonen action show. It also has a great manga so it’s no surprise that the casual fan would like it. I liked it up to episode 13 or 14. Then they went off course from the manga. It never should have gotten an adaptation so early, it’s only up to like chapter 30.

    Gosick also has a pretty popular light novel series and, to give the show credit, it’s second half is way better than its first half. One thing that would be interesting to examine among bloggers and rankers is what you called thoroughness. I wouldn’t think bloggers are more thorough than raters on sites especially with the advent of crunchyroll and legal streams. A lot of bloggers (that I know) will dismiss much of a seasons offering after only a few episodes watched. Sometimes they keep watching the show but not blogging and sometimes they just outright drop it. I bring this up because Gosick was dismissed pretty quickly for banal mysteries and a wimpy male lead, but those who stuck with it got some quality entertainment out of it in the second half.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out. That was a poorly drawn chart. I have tried to change it a little bit so it might be more clear. And I stand corrected on that one. You are absolutely right that anything above the line is in fact ‘underrated’. Have made the change. Thanks for pointing that out!

    Popularity across medium is indeed a very interesting point to keep in mind. Will try to add that aspect somehow in any future analysis:)

    Do you think though that at least bloggers read around a bit more and might be willing to stick with some shows that casual viewers might dismiss in the first couple of episodes? I have no data to back up this theory though. The only thoroughness measure I can think about is the percentage of people who drop the show as presented in MAL data. Might be interesting to see if that is indeed higher for Gosick compared to other show. I’ll be interested to also check out AniDB stats on episode rating to see if there is any correlation between low rating for shows like Gosick among bloggers and worse quality in the first half.

    Also, on your last point about Gosick, maybe bloggers’ ranking is not the best source to use because of this bias towards certain shows. Perhaps actual blogger rating is better since it will be based on shows that bloggers complete. Agree?

    • Taka says:

      With regards to bloggers, I really don’t have a lot of evidence to back up my assertion either except the blogs I follow tend to drop more shows than they follow but I could just follow a bunch of elite blogs. The team blogs like RandomC, Seaslugs and such tend to follow a wide variety. Psgels follows quite a number of shows as well. Bloggers certainly read around a bit more, I guess in the sense that the aniblogsphere members read each others blogs. That can sometimes have a magnifying affect on the opinion of a show if everyone is hardcore praising it and meticulously breaking it down and analyzing it. As for whether bloggers are more likely to stick with shows…not from my experience…not at all, but from my experience most casuals don’t drop shows offhand and as long as the show is moderately accessible, they will watch it. Whether they meticulously break it down or not or just watch it for entertainment.

      Looking at some examples from the chart: Mawaru Penguindrum is not what I would call accessible anime at all. It’s bright and flashy but keeps most of its cards close and at times purposely obfuscates the truth. It’s a show that delights in metaphor and visual language. Anyone who has watched Utena (and liked it) or knows about Utena’s (and Kuniko Ikuhara’s) reputation is almost guaranteed to watch it. If you are unfamiliar with both the show is far less accessible. At least that’s how I felt when I was watching it. The fans of Utena could pick out all the homages and visual quirks characteristic of Ikuhara but I generally felt underwhelmed at the story. The visual imagery is nice and all but you have to actually sell me on the conflict of the show. It takes a long time to get going.

      Fate/Zero has a similarly not very accessible opening episode filled with lots of talking heads. It probably turned off as many bloggers as it did casuals.

      On the flipside the whole bottom 20 of the ranking, with some exceptions, were dismissed offhand by blogs I was reading at the time. Some bloggers won’t even touch long running shonen shows like Toriko.

      But again this really only a vague sense. There’s plenty of room for bias to enter the equation. The impression I always got were bloggers were, yes the more discerning sort, but also had stricter qualifications of what they will or won’t watch and for how long. One interpretation of the chart is simply an upholding of sturgeon’s law. The cream of the year still rose to the top. I can’t speak for voters but at least the top 5 appear to be reasonably on the same page.

      • That’s really awesome. I always love your comment because you brought up all of these different perspectives I would not have thought about myself! I like the Sturgeon’s Law comment too. One of the reasons I started all these analyses is that I believe in the wisdom of the masses. If I collect enough info and weight them correctly, then I can always find the best anime at the top. This is especially true in 2011 when Steins;Gate, Madoka and Usagi Drop consistently come in the top three in all charts

        From what you wrote. It makes me want to see now whether there is a difference between bloggers who have watched tonnes of shows and those who watch fewer ones. Does selectiveness/thoroughness actually affect the ways they rate certain shows?

        One thing to note on the way I am ranking all of these is that it is on an ordinal scale. For example, it is possible that both ranking and rating groups like Mawaru Penguindrum the same (i.e. they both rate it a 7.1 out of 10) but if the rating group ranks 8 other animes higher, whereas ranking group only rank 4 others, then it may seem that Mawaru Penguindrum is more popular among ranking group.

        Any sort of ranking will always have biases in them. It is great to be able to discuss where these biases are coming from in hope of improving the methodologies:)

      • Taka says:

        That would be very interesting to rate bloggers who watch or have watched a large amount of shows and those who haven’t. I technically am a blogger at Digiboy’s site but I haven’t posted in forever. Both he and I have watched craploads of anime. Chii at Oishii anime has watched more anime than any other blogger I know (though not any other straight up anime consumer). I’ve got 453 shows and my favorite target of comparison is Scamp who has slightly fewer (439) shows than I but has dropped 306 where as I have dropped 93. Scamp is one who I would say has very selective taste. Digiboy also has very selective taste but in the opposite direction of Scamp who favors shows heavy on plot and what we might classically call “objectively good”, whereas digiboy needs his shows to have something special that is not necessarily what the average viewer would call “good”. Digiboy has dropped or put on hold more anime than he’s actually watched (437) I’m kinda in Digiboy’s vein but less selective. Then there is psgels who consumes and regularly rates and reviews loads of anime per season. His tastes are less selective than Scamp or Digiboy but his analysis may not be in depth as theirs. My personal pet theory is viewers like psgels have a smaller range of score they assign to an anime. Whereas Scamp might vote a show 4 or 5 out of 10 psgels might rate the same show 7 or 8 out of 10. I’m not entirely sure what this would do to the statistics, it depends on how high each is weighted. In addition I believe psgels style is more akin to how the majority of raters on MAL and such rate their shows.

        Anyway, enough brain crunching. I just realized I watched all the shows in the top 31 and then realized I watched even more than that and my brain started to hurt. I was trying to think of if I would make any substitutions to the list since I too tend to believe in the wisdom of the masses. (Which always gets my ire up when a review bashes the hell out of an episode of a show that will easily make the top 20 shows of the year.) Looking at the list…I would definitely replace Kamisama Dolls with something else like R-15, Blood-C, Kamisama Memo-chou etc. I’m curious about the Blood-C breakdown as it seemed to be rather contentious.

        In other news you should consider getting on twitter if you have the time. There’s a large following of bloggers and fans on thar. You could get to know the bloggers and such.

      • What do you think if I use the data on MAL to estimate the amount of animes dropped and seen by each each blogger (I presume that is there you got all the info from)? Would everyone have an account which they update regularly? That is probably the most accurate way for me to collect data for this, other than sending out a poll for everyone to fill in. I would love to collect the data and cross-check it with their websites, to see how many they have reviewed and how each distinctive shows are rated against each other. Maybe, I can tease out 3-4 different watching patterns to fit all the bloggers in:) Really like all your detailed breakdown of the other bloggers too. I will most likely use those as my starting point for this particular analysis!

        That’s also pretty amazing that you have watched all those 31. I still have only seen 1 (Madoka) so I am wayyyyy behind to make any intelligent comment in response to what you said! When i have some time over the next 2-3 days, I will give you the breakdown of Blood-C. It never got any mention in any of the blog rankings so I actually have not included this show in the ranking. I thought that these shows (#21-31) are so far away from the top of the ranking that I have I have not paid too much attention to. Granted, an episode in a show may not stand up on its own (either because of different director, budget, plot, etc) but that should not detract from the overall show. The main example I can think of is Gungrave. almost everyone seems to hate the first episode (and I guess rightfully so) but it’s still a good overall series:)

        I use twitter but very rarely. Thinking about MAL got me to start populating my anime/manga watching list now too. There is no way I will approach your numbers but hopefully I can make it high and comprehensive:)

    • Taka says:

      It may interest you that Anime Power Rankings just released it’s list of voting blogs. (65 out of 73) with some gender and region demographics.

      • That’s pretty cool.Thank you for letting me know! I will definitely have to follow that blog a lot more closely and see whether there is any relevant insight I can link back to any of my analyses:)

  3. alua says:

    I haven’t got much to say (or anything intelligent) but just wanted to say glad to see a post from you and looking forward to more, now that you’ll be getting some time off school and work. 🙂

    • Thank you very much for your comment! Writing a post again in half a year makes me re-realize how much I enjoy doing all of these analyses and post them on my blog. I will definitely try to keep this motivation going as long as I can,at least until the new school term begins:)

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