I don’t think I’ve ever watched as much television purposefully as I did in 2011. It was always there. It was on. However, I wasn’t really paying that much attention. I haven’t tried to be in front of the television at a specific time to watch a specific show since the final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender in 2008. Besides ponies, What other shows did I find so captivating in 2011?
I like Adventure Time more than I should. It comes dangerously close to being too spastic and too juvenile, but manages to fall just within my threshold for nonsensical, immature humor. Perhaps it is because Adventure Time is an interesting mix of the sword and sorcery adventure, and bizarre, awkward comedy. Sometimes it is sophomoric. Sometimes it is strange. Sometimes it hits. Sometimes it misses. Adventure Time isn’t afraid to make fun of the fantasy genera, or current pop culture, either.
Adventure Time is about Finn and Jake; a human boy and his magical, stretching dog-brother. Full-time adventurers, they split their time between fighting evil, helping friends, and simply wandering the Land of Ooo. It is pretty traditional fantasy adventure stuff. Often, their personality traits get them into trouble, and they frequently do more harm then good. Again, adventure time comes close to being one of those shows driven by the character’s constant bad decisions, but I think it works here because Finn and Jake are actually likeable characters
I almost find the supporting cast more interesting than the titular duo. Each takes what is a usually stereotypical role and changes it just enough to be cool. Evil characters are always trying to kidnap princesses, but none have ever been so socially inept, or a much of a creeper, as the Ice King. No princess has ever loved science so much as Princess Bubblegum.
The land of Ooo is interesting too, if you take the time to notice. It contains a spectrum of creatures from unbearably cute things to blood thirsty horrors. It also appears to have been built on the wreckage of a strangely familiar civilization. Burned-out buildings, junked cars, and tons of everyday items can be seen littering the backgrounds of nearly every scene.
Durarara is one of the more interesting anime I’ve seen in a while. It isn’t strictly about fighting. Instead, it is about human interaction, and the connections people make every day with their ambitions and actions; whether they know they are making them or not. It is truly character driven, and as the plot progressed over 25 episodes, I found myself really wanting to see what happens next.
Being from Japan, it, does involve high school students. Three friends: Mikado Ryugmine, Masaomi Kida and Anri Sonohara, each who have secrets they keep, but that directly affect their and each others lives. They, along with a small cast of other characters, try to navigate this web of connections as best they can, making their own moves, as well as being poked and prodded by others attempting to manipulate them. A common thread between them all is Celty Sturluson; the “Black Rider”. Celty is a Dullahan, a creature of Irish myth, which traditionally appears as a harbinger of doom on horseback, clutching its disembodied head. However, Celty has lost her head, and her memories. Now she works as an underground courier, which brings her into contact with each of others.
Durarara is unique in that almost each each episode is a story in itself, which is rare for anime. Usually these episodes feature a common event, and each character’s perspectives on it. Often, they characters intersect, but they don’t know it. Not every episode stands alone, though, and each furthers the greater story arc in some way or another.