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Dated 5 January 2011: Autumn 2010 season wrapup

Ika Musume and Nagisa
Ika Musume terrorizes Nagisa.

Autumn 2010 had a number of surprises. I never would have predicted my top three shows from this season. In fact, three months ago I would have been surprised to learn I would watch two of the top three at all.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume [1-12] > Shiki (12-22) > Detective Opera Milky Holmes [1-12] > Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt [1-13] > Amagami SS [14-25] > Detective Conan (591-600) > Heartcatch Precure! (34-45) > Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (11) > To Aru Majutsu no Index II (6-7) > Yosuga no Sora [1-12] > Psychic Detective Yakumo [1-13]

Shinryaku! Ika Musume takes the top spot by the strength of its comedy and its No Bad Episodes achievement. I didn't have much interest in the show initially based on its description, but toward the middle of the season I decided to give it a shot because of the near universal praise I encountered for it. I'm glad I did, because Ika Musume is a solid show. I only wish there were more episodes.

Y'all know Megumi is right, right?

Shiki took me by surprise by embracing B-movie staples and running with it. I can't actually claim that Shiki is "good," but when it hits its marks it is wildly entertaining. If you like yelling at idiots for their stupidity and watching villagers storm castles with torches and pitchforks in hand, then Shiki is for you. Plus it's bloody! Even for a vampire show! I almost want to give it the top ranking for autumn 2010, but there were a few lackluster episodes in the mix holding it back. Its first OP and second ED are unquestionably this season's bests, though.

Just so you know, this is a great disguise.

I wasn't really expecting to enjoy Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, and only started watching it so I could claim to be watching three detective shows this season. However, after an unimpressive start (everyone seems to loathe the first episode), it proved to be a fun series that continued to push the envelope; some of the things Detective Opera Milky Holmes did were really...inappropriate, but it was never dirty. An unexpectedly funny series, I've heard Milky Holmes described favorably as "the next Galaxy Angel." Now, it ain't that good, but I could definitely go for more episodes of these idiots.

Chuck, Panty, and Stocking
Panty and Stocking put Chuck to work.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is as good as you've heard, but it never really resonated with me. There were some really amazing moments and a lot of good episodes, but I can't help but feel Gainax could have done more with the show. Even the Gainax Ending was not as outrageous as it could have been. It's no The Melody of Oblivion ending, for example. I'm probably the only person in the world who feels Panty & Stocking wasn't daring enough, though.

Don't worry, he has it coming.

I liked Amagami SS because of its gimmick, but ultimately Potato-kun just didn't have enough charisma to carry the show. It's a nice enough romantic comedy, but nobody who missed it should feel as if they've missed anything important.

Ran, Conan, and Kogoro
Ran is always so well dressed.

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. Nothing important changes, and the show remains as good as ever. For that reason, I suppose curious readers may be able to rely on its position in these season summaries as a baseline or control group of sorts for pan-season comparisons.

Erika is the best girl in Heartcatch, but she ain't no Girl of the Year.

Heartcatch Precure! is all right, but I don't like it as much as its predecessors. I suppose viewed as a whole, it is better than Fresh Pretty Cure, but the best Fresh moments are a lot better than the best Heartcatch ones. I know Heartcatch Precure! is very well regarded among many anime fans who don't typically watch Pretty Cure. I wonder if they rank the show so highly because this is the only Precure they know, or if they rank it so highly because Heartcatch has certain unique elements that other Pretty Cure season do not have. If the latter, perhaps it is these differences that I don't care for—differences that cause me to view Heartcatch unfavorably in comparison to past seasons. Or maybe I'm just tired of watching weak magikal girls fight bad feelings every week.

Kirino and Ruri
Kirino hassles Ruri.

I technically did not drop any shows this season, but I only watched one episode of Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. I watched episode 11 to see what all that KUNKA KUNKA jazz was about. Man, that Kirino is a total bitch. There is no way I'd be able to watch a full season of anything with her in it. (Bear in mind that I'm an unapologetic Asuka fan, too.) I never had any interest in the show because its most fervent fans are all siscons; that's gotta mean something whether or not the show's actual content justifies that label.

How about you go to a hospital, Kuroko? How about that?

I only watched episodes six and seven of To Aru Majutsu no Index II because I heard they were Kuroko episodes without any Touma speeches. I'm oddly fascinated by Kuroko's old woman voice, but I still have zero interest in the show.

Turbo Genki Akira is the Best Girl in Yosuga no Sora.

I accidentally watched all of Yosuga no Sora. I watched two of the episodes towards the middle of the season because I heard a harem-anime protagonist actually managed to have sex. If you know anything about anime, you'll understand this is a shockingly rare occurrence, especially so early in a season. I was hoping the show would be another School Days, but it turned out to be an R-rated version of the Amagami SS gimmick. Once I learned that, I backtracked through the earlier episodes to find out how everything started. By then I had watched half of the show and figured I'd keep watching since Haruka was apparently going to run the table. Man, Sora was an intolerable bitch, though. She and Kirino should hang out—at like the bottom of a lake. Anyway, if you want to know what happens but don't feel like waiting for the uncensored Blu-rips, just watch one of the omake EDs; they spoil basically everything that happens in the show.

Even Kirika didn't wear the same outfit every single episode, Haruka.

I finished Psychic Detective Yakumo on general principle, but found it pretty boring. It wasn't very Bee Trainy for a Bee Train show. I also wished Haruka had more than one outfit.

Bridgette L. Satellizer, probably
The Eva Series? It's been completed?

I have a feeling I'm not going to be watching as much anime this year, at least not as many of these 13-episode throwaway shows. That said, I do hope Freezing will have DARK MAMIKO. Speaking of Noto Mamiko, Kimi ni Todoke 2 is a lock, and everything about Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica sounds pretty good with the exception of the SHAFT X SHINBO part (which probably sounds pretty good to most people). Naturally I'll continue watching Detective Conan and Pretty Cure and anything Gainax churns out, even if it might cause me to buy and then itasha the fuck out of a Subaru.

Dated 19 April 2011: Winter 2011 season summary

The real antagonists in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica are trolls, not witches.

Despite my disdain for SHAFTXSHINBO, Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica (at least what I've seen of it so far, as the remaining episodes were pre-empted due to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami—they're expected to air in a few days) is really good. [Update: The final two episodes did have some surprises. The rating remains unchanged.] Whether it's good in spite of SHAFTXSHINBO because of Kajiura Yuki and Urobuchi Gen isn't so much important as the fact that they took something which I had fully expected to be unconventional, made it so, and still managed to impress. Although I did not enjoy Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica nearly as much as its true fans did, it was still easily the best show I watched from winter 2011, admittedly not a very difficult feat when the runner up probably only placed as high as it did thanks to the Hanakana Distortion Field.

Ichika and Charles
Infinite Stratos needed more Full Frontal Bageena Char.

Infinite Stratos was by no stretch of the imagination a good show, but it was fun to watch. Curiously, it's often the male protagonist that makes or breaks harem comedies, not the bevy of girls themselves. Thankfully, Infinite Stratos does well on both fronts. Potato-kun is mostly unobjectionable, with neither an overpoweringly "strong sense of justice" nor a timid adversion to girls, the two most common flaws of the typical harem comedy putz.

Charles and Ichika
There ain't no way Ichika owns that many books.

Unfortunately, not having those two flaws means Potato-kun needs some other character flaw to be the excuse why he doesn't trophy fuck love all the girls during the course of the show. In Ichika's case, he's a moron. It works out, though, because nearly every girl in his harem is also a moron. This is probably why Charles is so popular, as she's the only girl in the harem who is neither dumb nor crazy. Okay, she did pretend to be a very unconvincing boy for a while, but she gave that up after a few episodes, and the only reason other people bought that act is because the entire school is filled with complete idiots.

Ichika and Charles
What's that fishy odor?

Anyway, Infinite Stratos was an amusing, harmless diversion and was pretty fun until it decided it needed a plot towards the end. Instead of the Final Battle against MacGuffin, they should have devoted the last three episodes to a footrace or an extended game of tag.

This is the best reaction shot of the entire series. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Kimi ni Todoke really took a dive with 2nd Season in my view and dipped below the Detective Conan Line during the middle episodes because it upset the precarious balance of misunderstandings and heartfulness. Basically the entire season dragged out due to terribly painful communication problems. It made me wish the show was about Ume instead, or maybe Yano falling in love with Pin. (It's not a spoiler, okay? It's right there in the OP!) Thankfully, Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season pulled itself together during the final three episodes. Pity the entire season couldn't be that good. Had it been, then Kimi ni Todoke Second Season would have been as good as, well, Kimi ni Todoke First Season.

Ai Yori Aoshi volumes 17 and 16
Ai Yori Aoshi volumes 17 and 16.

Somewhat unexpectedly, finishing Kimi ni Todoke S2 makes me wish for a third season of Ai Yori Aoshi—one that follows the manga instead of jumping all over Creation. The final volumes of Ai Yori Aoshi really deserve a lot better than the lackluster impression the two inconsistent anime seasons left behind. They may have to animate Aoi's bra in the series climax with CGI, though. (Ha ha. "Climax.")

Take Fractale easy.

Viewers seem fairly divided on Fractale, particularly with regard to its ending. Much as I postulated when describing my early impressions of the show, the way I see it, there are two camps: Those that care about its pedigree and subsequently chose to watch Fractale critically, and those who just wanted to enjoy themselves because anime is still a hobby. That latter group likely enjoyed Nessa's turbo-genki moments quite a lot more, and even if there might be a Hanakana Distortion Field at work, they presumably enjoyed the show more as a whole.

Phryne and Nessa
How did they end up in the ending to Heartcatch Precure!?

This is not to say Fractale doesn't suffer from a host of problems. Personally, I felt all of the fighting and battle scenes were comically bad, and a lot of things (especially towards the end) didn't make any sense. I was also somewhat crestfallen to learn Phryne wasn't just acting stupid—she really was an idiot. It's because of these problems that I don't rank Fractale higher among the winter 2011 shows. Nevertheless, it was still pretty good overall, and including an audio cameo by Nausicaä herself towards the end to bookend the visual references from earlier in the season was pretty nice, even if I totally missed it.

If you advance this scene frame by frame you can catch
the exact moment Ran's heart breaks. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. As I mentioned before, Detective Conan is basically my control group when it comes to ranking shows. Each season of Detective Conan is about the same and typically as good as any of its myriad previous seasons. This remained true during winter 2011, although I would like to point out the "Tear Drops" OP totally messes with the heads of Shinichi + Ran 'shippers.

Kumojacky and Cure Marine

The end of Heartcatch Precure! was all right, even though Cure Blossom remained mostly useless. Probably the highlight for me was Cure Marine suckerpunching Kumojacky in the face on general principle before he could launch into an idiomatic, vaguely evil speech.

Cure Rhythm
More punching, less baking.

Suite Precure is decent, but nothing really special unless you care about voice actresses. Koshimizu Ami, Orikasa Fumiko, Toyoguchi Megumi, and Mitsuishi Kotono are all on board. In fact, I should probably check Danbooru for what I'm sure must be copious amounts of seiyuu_joke parody/crossover fan art.

I dropped Freezing not because it was exploitative, but because it was kinda retarded. I can't wait for the second season of Seikon no Qwaser, though. (No, seriously.)

I was intriqed by Ri♡ -Rainbow Gate!- because it was Highlander with card battles, but I think I lost interest after two episodes beause Rio's hair sucks.

Yumekui Merry didn't suck, but I dropped it after the first episode because I wasn't interested. I heard it gets better later, but I still suspect Merry might actually be a boy.

Sister Layer
Cosprayers Line.

I dropped Wolverine after a single episode because it was God awful. Congratulations, Wolverine, you are easily WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS. All you need to know about the show is that in the first episode, a group of people flying around with jetpacks bent on attacking Wolverine with rifles decide to all fly close enough for him to gut them with his claws. Then later on Wolverine breaks one of Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion. Look, I'm okay with his indestructible skeleton and canonical ability to regenerate from a single remaining drop of blood, but c'mon.

Final tally: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica > IS: Infinite Stratos > Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season > Fractale > Detective Conan > Heartcatch Precure! > Suite Precure | Dropped: Freezing > Ri♡ -Rainbow Gate!- > Yumekui Merry | WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Wolverine.

Dated 10 May 2011: Do well in the Pretty Cure minor leagues and maybe you'll make it to The Show

Erika and Tsubomi
Erika and Tsubomi spray on some clothes.

I figured out why I have low opinions of Cure Blossom and Cure Rhythm: No game faces. When a Cure goes through her transformation sequence, she gets a battle costume upgrade and some fancy charm points. But in most cases, the transformation doesn't just change a Cure's appearance; it also changes her personality, or at least her demeanor. This didn't happen with Cure Blossom in Heartcatch Precure! and it doesn't really happen with Cure Rhythm in Suite Pretty Cure now.

Cure Black and Cure White
"Go ahead, make our day."

Contrast this with, for example, Cure Black and Cure White who announce with authority their readiness to whoop some ass, both during their transformations and while powering up their finishing attacks. Yukana going off about Pretty Cure's "beautiful souls" is basically the best smack talk in all of anime.

Cure White
Cure White gets pissed.

Honoka is a sweet kid, but Cure White will boot you upside the head if you annoy her. Cure Rouge from the Yes! Precure 5 crew yammers on about her purity a little too much, which admittedly is not an especially effective threat, but her soliloquy does signal some serious beat downs on the way that would be out of character for Rin.

Cure Black, Cure Dream, and Cure Bloom
These are some pretty smug-looking veteran Cures.

Even a complete ditz like Nozomi knows the score. When she's transformed into Cure Dream, it's Game On. Hell, Cure Dream doesn't just have a game face, she has a freakin' War Face.

Cure Dream
I recommend backing the Hell away from Cure Dream. She's psycho.

When Cure Dream announces a finishing move, you know someone is about to get fucked hard core:

[Puts her hands in front.]
[Dramatic pause.]
[Unleashes searing energy beam.]
[Obliterates target by ramming it face first.]

Cure Dream doesn't play.

Cure Sunshine
Cure Sunshine
"I get to transform into a GIRL!" [Turns hair blond.]

This kind of thing didn't happen so much in Heartcatch Precure! and doesn't occur often in Suite Precure either. I can't take Cure Sunshine as seriously because she is all smiles during her transformation sequence. I'd have my doubts about the whole crew were it not for Erika's willingness to sucker-punch people in the face while she's transformed as Cure Marine.

Kanade falls on her cake. Did I say cake? I meant ass.

However, Cure Rhythm is basically just Kanade in a white dress instead of an apron. Hell, I bet her battle costume even smells like cake.

Cure Black, Cure Bright, Shiny Luminous, Cure Windy, and Cure White
Cure fire team in wedge formation.

Even Shiny Luminous has a game face. Shiny Freaking Luminous! Shiny Freaking-Thirteen-Year-Old-Girl-with-Zero-Offensive-Abilities-Not-Really-a-Cure Luminous. Good bluffer, though.

Cure Muse and Cure Rhythm
"Cure Muse, Cure Muse, how do I work this thing?" [Points berthier belltier at own face.]

13 episodes down and none of the singsong goons take the local Pretty Cure team seriously. Given that Cure Rhythm and Cure Melody keep getting bailed out by a free agent Cure, it's no wonder even the scrub bad guys feel confident screwing with these rookie Cures. Yeah, go ahead and try that weak shit on Cure Egret, Bassdrum. She'll jack you up.

Cure Pine
Even Cure Pine had a game face. CURE PINE.

Maybe I'm just being impatient. It took Buki a while to get going too. But feel free to tear that apron off anytime, Kanade.

Dated 28 June 2011: Early nominations for 2011's Girl of the Year

Shigeno Kaoru
Spoilers: Kaoru won't win this year.

Halfway through 2011, I propose the following tentative nominations for Girl of the Year. I'm providing this update so characters from shows that ended during 2011's first half don't get overlooked by the myopia that seems to set in each December.

Shigeno Momoko
Go on, Momoko, bitch those jackasses out.

As a former winner (2009), Shimizu Kaoru from Major would normally get an automatic nomination for returning in the OVA epilogue, but she's inelligible because it came out December 2010. Unfortunately, this means I also can't nominate Momoko from the same OVA. Momoko first appeared in Major season one as Goro's kindergarten teacher and has been a regular part of the series ever since. She definitely deserves recognition for her contribution to the best baseball anime of all time. (Neither could have won in 2010, by the way, as Aoba from Cross Game had that title locked up nearly from day one.)

This usually means someone's about to get fucked.

Mouri Ran gets a nomination because Detective Conan is as good as it ever was. As long as the series continues to air (or the franchise continues to churn out OVAs and movies), Ran will get a nomination by virtue of being a long-suffering sweet kid and one of anime's All Time Babes. Actually, I say "as good as it ever was," but this year it might be better than ever. It's still really good at least.

It helps that Minami has awesome hair.

Minami from Moshidora adds to the growing list of nominations from baseball anime. Minami's initial contribution to Moshidora is a gimmick, but it's an interesting one, and both Minami and Moshidora continue to grow over the course of the season.

Hana and Katja should get their own show when Qwaser ends.

Hana from Seikon no Qwaser II carried the show during its early uncertain episodes, and I'm not just saying that because part of it took place inside her ass. Hey, that's two characters nominated now for Hikasa Youko (best known for her role as Mio in K-On!).

Charles is from fork-lovin' France.

It's a pity Houki didn't have much to offer in IS: Infinite Stratos, otherwise Hikasa Youko might have managed a hat trick. At least Infinite Stratos doesn't walk away emptyhanded, though. Its very popular Charles easily gets a nomination even though she unconvincingly tried to disguise herself as a boy initially.

Also for being a magikal girl King of the Battle.

Homura from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica gets a nomination for her indefatigable [SPOILERS. DECLASSIFY IN 30 YEARS].

Itsuki, Erika, and Tsubomi
Erika is kinda smug sometimes though.

Erika from Heartcatch Precure! manages a nomination for 2011 despite not receiving one in 2010. Although she's the first Pretty Cure to be nominated, Erika arguably only gets the nod because of the relatively weak field so far in 2011 and for being the most generally liked character in Heartcatch Precure!

So there you have it. Note, however, these are only preliminary nominations for 2011, and the field could change dramatically depending on how the rest of the year plays out. No doubt, this field is also limited by the relatively few shows I've followed this year. But before anybody says anything, nobody from Ano Hana gets in. Not even close.

Dated 22 July 2011: There are too many mahou shoujo in Pretty Cure All Stars DX3

Cure Black, Shiny Luminous, Cure Mint, Cure White, and Cure Rouge
Here we go again.

If the first Pretty Cure All Stars Deluxe movie was the home run derby, and Pretty Cure All Stars DX2 the all star game, then Pretty Cure All Stars DX3 is the benches-clearing brawl. There are simply too many Cures (and Not Cures) for one movie. 21 by Nozomi's reckoning, which is surprisingly accurate, given that Nozomi only has 10 fingers. (Three Max Heart characters, two Splash Star characters, six Yes! characters, four Fresh characters, four Heartcatch characters, and two Suite characters. This total excludes Kaoru and Michiru (who appear, but get shafted from the movie once again, relegated to gawking from the peanut gallery with Bunbee), Cure Flower (who also has a cameo), and the Suite Precure characters Cure Muse, Cure Beat, and Cure [SPOILERS] who had not been introduced yet when the movie was released.

Cure Rouge, Cure Moonlight, and Milky Rose
One of these is not like the others.

As a result of this massive cast list, All Stars DX3 is not as good as the previous two Pretty Cure All Stars movies. Most people seem to like the first movie the best. I'm not sure if I do or not, but I do believe DX2 had a better narrative. Despite only being 70 minutes in length like the two previous movies, DX3 seemed too long even though it split a lot of this time switching among four separate settings.

Cure Rhythm and Cure Egret
Get Cure Egret to show you how to stick a landing
before the next movie, Cure Rhythm.

Dividing the Cures up into teams was a good (and necessary) idea, but not entirely effective. Really, what Toei should have done—and what it needs to do if Toei intends to make more All Stars movies in the future—is select a small handful of characters for the movie and focus exclusively on them. Whether this means All Stars DX4 (Pretty Cure Team Up 1?) will feature only the Splash Star and Fresh Cures, for example, or possibly only feature the "leader" main character Cures, I can't say, but it would make for a better movie despite the risk of disappointing fans of the omitted Cures who may have to wait who-knows-how-long before they get their turn. The team-up idea is basically what DX3 does by dividing the characters into multiple camps, but by making time for all of them it really made time for none of them.

Cure Dream
Guess what happens to people who don't get
out of Cure Dream's way. Go on. Guess.

Probably the greatest casualty of this megas crowded movie is, unlike the two previous installments, I am unable to identify the most telegenic attack. At least there is no clear winner. If pressed, I'd have to nominate either the scene where Cure Dream does that thing where two people exchange blows while leaping past each other and the winner refuses to turn around until the loser falls, or the one where she plows through a giant pile of grunt suits, with an honorable mention for the MARBLE SCREW MAX that Cure Black and Cure White execute while in midair. Speaking of which, I noticed the Cures that are able to fly conveniently forgot about this ability when it would have quickly resolved their predicaments. Eh, wouldn't be the first time.

Dated 1 January 2012: 2011's Girl of the Year

Miki and Producer
Consolation prize.

Choosing the Girl of the Year for 2011 shows how views held at the mid-year mark can change months later even without much additional information. As you may recall, the initial front runner was Homura from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, with Charles and Ran looking to place and to show. However, after another six months of deliberation, I think I may need to reconsider my choices.

Cure Marine
Cure Marine is proof All Stars hazing works.

Going through my initial recommendations, Erika from Heartcatch Precure! does even better in light of how uninspiring the entire cast of Suite Precure♪ has been. Nearly all the Suite Precure♪ characters are all right. (Not Cure Muse. Cure Muse is straight-up terrible.) However, they are so underdeveloped. Even Buki and Miki from Fresh Pretty Cure have more personality than the Suite cast. And the Suite Cures all seem to make such terrible choices. Not that Erika was a sound voice of reason in Heartcatch, but Erika at least had a lot more verve than any of the current crop of Cures, so the things she did were almost always entertaining, even when they were ill conceived. Nevertheless, while Erika certainly makes the Suite cast look bad, it's not enough to win her Girl of the Year.

My copy of Management is twice as thick.

As far as I can tell, Moshidora was wildly unpopular, but I thought it was pretty good. It's rare for a show to get better with every episode. I might be looking at this through baseball goggles (they're like instrument goggles, okay), but Minami from Moshidora easily deserves a Girl of the Year nomination. She doesn't have enough to win, but you can't expect someone to go to the Koshien and win Girl of the Year in the same year, can you? Nobody is that good. Oh, wait. Aoba from Cross Game did that just last year.

Hana and Sasha
Go on, Hana, curse the bitch out.

Hana carried the second season of Seikon no Qwaser through its early lacklustre episodes. Carried it in her ass. [P.S. SPOILERS.]

Who are you going to believe, sweetheart? Me or your lyin' eyes?

Early in the year, it really seemed as if Charles from IS: Infinite Stratos had a legitimate change of winning. I suppose she did, but as I mentioned with regard to the OVA, the end of the series basically threw away everything that made Charles great. Instead, she just became another blushing simpleton in Ichika's harem. How things would have been different if she had been absent from the series' final scene! It could have played out otherwise unchanged, but for a brief cut away to Charles sitting quietly in her room, reading one of those books Ichika keeps around for show, maybe looking up curiously to ask, "What is that racket outside?" Alas, somewhere along the way the writers forgot what made her great. Charles doesn't win.

Makoto, Kotori, Chihaya, Ritsuko, Takane, Yukiho, Haruka, Producer, Hibiki, Ami, Miki, Mami, Azusa, Iori, and Yayoi
Say, do we have any cake?

Based on how much I like The Idolm@ster TV, you might expect one of the 765 girls to win this year. The truth is, I'm not even sure who to nominate. Idolm@ster relies very much on its ensemble cast, and as much as I like most of the girls individually, I like them collectively more. So, the first ever group nomination goes out to Chihaya, Miki, Takane, Ritsuko, Haruka, Mami, Makoto, Iori, Hibiki, Ami, Azusa, Yayoi, Kotori, and Yukiho. They don't win, though. I'm not ready.

It's a good year for horn hair.

Even though I'm still not entirely sure squids are eligible to win Girl of the Year, Ika Musume managed a nomination last year for being pretty much non-stop awesome. Unfortunately, the second season of Ika Musume spent a lot of time, well, treading water for the most part. In fact, I'm inclined to think the Best Girl in Ika Musume II isn't even the title character. Eiko has been a solid straight man throughout the series, perhaps because she doesn't rely on having some broadly painted quirk to define her. Of course, now that I think about it, Eiko's role doesn't even necessarily require a female character. Eiko could have been a teenage boy, and the only real change to the show would be perhaps not having Ika Musume sleep in the same bedroom. Nobody from Shinryaku!? Ika Musume gets a nomination, by the way. Not this year.

Homura and Charlotte
Hey, there's more cake over at Suite Precure♪.

If you've been paying attention, you've already figured out the heavily armed witch killer Homura does not win this year. There were two obstacles in her way. First, Homura is handicapped by my general dislike of SHAFT and Shinbo and the sophomoric fans they attract. Second, Homura's defining characteristic—or at least the one working most in her favor—is her indefatigable dedication. It's admirable, but even Homura can learn a thing or two about tireless devotion from this year's winner: Ran.

Believe it, baby.

Long-suffering Mouri Ran is 2011's Girl of the Year. Ran has always been good enough to win every year, but a relatively weak field for 2011 coupled with an especially good year for Ran puts her over the top. Ran's peculiar similarities to Homura also helped seal the win. I say "long-suffering," but not very much actual in-show time has passed for Ran. Like Homura, Ran is essentially trapped in time, doomed to absorb hundreds of failures, surrounded by death, and never achieving the peace she seeks with the one she loves.

Lifetime Achievement Award.

For over six hundred episodes and more than a dozen movies, poor Ran hasn't been able to catch a break, but thankfully, there was some progress in 2011. This year, Detective Conan was at least kind enough to offer her the Valentine's Day arc, the White Day arc, and very compelling London arc, all of which which combine satisfyingly in ways unexpected for a show as generally static as Detective Conan. Congratulations, Ran, 2011's Girl of the Year.