This has been the first year (since 2012, and, boy, does that feel like an age ago now) that I’ve made a conscious effort to watch a good percentage of seasonal anime. I do feel that, as an aniblogger, it’s important to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the anime world and that keeping up with seasonal shows is a good way to do that. But, blogging aside, it’s also so much fun to be part of the conversation and to share memes, news, and theories with other anime fans. That’s difficult to do if you’re only watching the most ancient and/or obscure shows out there!
Anyway… I managed to watch 30 of this year’s anime. I know that that’s a pretty paltry figure to some, but I’m not in the habit of dropping shows, so I prefer to only pick a handful per season that I know beforehand that I’m likely to enjoy. In the following post I attempt to collate what I loved (or loathed) about the 30 shows that I watched this year.
Author’s note: if you feel that an anime has been unduly underrepresented, chances are, I didn’t see it. See the bottom of this post for a list of the shows that I did see this year. If you’re looking for something a bit more comprehensive, check out The First Ever WordPress Anime Awards. This features an impressive collection of categories and nominations put together by a team of brilliant bloggers (including yours truly)!
Ty’s Top Five Anime of 2018
5. A Place Further than the Universe
This anime has everything going for it: a heartwarming story that taps into its viewers’ desire for adventure, an adorable cast of characters with great chemistry, high production values, and… penguins! But what I enjoyed the most about A Place Further than the Universe was how it managed to explore themes like loss, finding your place in the world, and stepping outside of your comfort zone while still being good, lighthearted fun.
4. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind
I’m a new addition to the JoJo fandom. That said, my fire for this wacky franchise burns just as big and bright as that of any decades-old fan! I’ve loved each entry into the franchise more than the last and Golden Wind is shaping up to be no exception. What I’ve most enjoyed so far are the relationships that Bucciarati’s crew have with each other! Are they friends or do they merely tolerate one another as colleagues? It’s anybody’s guess! All that’s missing is a villain to rival the likes of DIO or Yoshikage Kira…
3. Banana Fish
This anime was like an abusive lover I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. Every week it would make me fall harder and harder for its broken yet beautiful characters, only to subject them to continual loss, abuse, and betrayal. Saying that, I will always remember fondly the rest and healing that Ash and Eiji found in each other as they made the other’s soul their home.
Hinamatsuri offered up some of this year’s best: best characters, including the deadpan Hina and the middle-school-age bartender, Hitomi, best comedy, e.g. Hina celebrating Nitta’s promotion by throwing him a… funeral?, best fight scenes, the likes of which could rival even Naruto’s, and best melodrama, like Anzu bidding goodbye to the community of homeless men who took her in. I think it’s safe to say that Hinamatsuri surprised everybody with just how great it was, not just me!
1. Ty’s Anime of the Year – Run with the Wind
I’m yet to finish Run with the Wind. Even so, I’m content to call it my Anime of the Year. I just love the chemistry that the show’s characters share. Even though the residents of Chikuseisou are all so different, in terms of their backgrounds, interests, and dispositions, they laugh together, worry about each other, and teach one another important life lessons. I feel like I learn a lot just by watching them, like the value of slowing down and taking in your surroundings and how to face up to reality.
Ty’s Top Five Stinkers of 2018
5. The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Magus’ Bride’s inclusion on this list might surprise you. Admittedly, it’s beautiful to look at, to listen to, and manages to weave into its story an impressive amount of existing folklore. That said, the relationship between Chise and Elias always made me uncomfortable. The fact that he bought a vulnerable, traumatised young girl on the proviso of her becoming his wife and that he attacked her on several occasions made their relationship feel more like that of slave and owner than that of two loving equals…
4. Free!: Dive to the Future
Free!’s allure is simple and easy to understand: young men get moist. You’d think it’d be pretty difficult to take a concept like that and muck it up, yet Dive to the Future did just that. With fewer races, our beloved quintet split up, and more new characters than you can shake a stick at (or realistically remember), Dive to the Future just wasn’t as much fun as its previous seasons.
Mei and Yuzu’s relationship appalled me. No, not because they were step-siblings (though that is pretty grody), but because Mei repeatedly forced herself on Yuzu (who, not only failed to consent to this, but was clearly unsure of her sexuality) before quickly brushing her off. I’m probably not alone in thinking that this kind of portrayal of a gay couple is not just outdated but unwelcome in this day and age.
2. Tokyo Ghoul:re 2nd Season
My relationship with Tokyo Ghoul is a fairly casual one, I kind of enjoyed its first season and its manga is a solid 7/10. Even so, the latest entry into the franchise was a big disappointment. The break-neck speed at which its story progressed, fights played out, and characters were introduced and then killed off made it impossible for me to follow. I spent the handful of episodes I watched going: “What’s going on?”, “Wait, who is that?”, and “Should I care?”
1. Black Clover
I’m, by no means, Black Clover’s biggest fan. The show’s protagonist, Asta, grates on my nerves. Its side characters aren’t much better. Not to mention that I wasn’t able to recall what happened during each episode, as I was so disengaged and disinterested in its cliched story. But, instead of continuing to complain about it to anybody who would listen, I simply dropped it, making it the first show I ever dropped. Not exactly an accolade to be proud of!
Ty’s Top Five Most Memorable Moments of 2018
5. Chise Flies Back to Elias (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
Sure, I may not ship Chise and Elias, but that doesn’t stop me from loving this scene, which is, let’s face it, absolutely breathtaking! The OP song, with its powerful, otherworldly vocals, made this scene all the more magic!
4. Return of the Mad Scientist (Steins;Gate 0)
As much as I loved getting to see a more serious side to Okabe, that didn’t stop me from letting out a massive cheer when he donned that iconic lab coat once more! Maho’s obvious confusion over his sudden (and slightly alarming) change in character made this scene all the more entertaining!
3. JoJo’s Bizarre Dance Scene (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind)
This is the weirdest shi* out of context! Three dudes busting some serious dance moves while a disembodied head writhes on the end of a fishing hook. But that’s about the entirety of this scene’s context right there! Doesn’t make it any less weird, huh? Definitely one of the oddest scenes of 2018!
2. It’s Your Turn (My Hero Academia Season 3)
All Might is the very embodiment of strength, hope, and heroism. So to see him bruised, battered, and broken after just barely besting HeroAca’s big bad, All for One, is an extremely shocking image that’s hard to forget. You can’t help but share in Deku’s trepidation during this moment as he contemplates the enormity of the task ahead of him: becoming the next symbol of peace.
1. Banana Fish Finale
Neither words nor my ugly cry face can capture the potency of this scene! You desperately wanted things to work out for Ash and Eiji, but we all knew, deep down, that this was the only way things could end… That certainly didn’t make it any easier to watch! One character finally finds peace while another (completely unaware of the fact) loses the love of his life… *Sob*
Ty’s Top Five Characters of 2018
5. Okabe Rintarou (Steins;Gate 0)
During Steins;Gate 0 Okabe leapt through time literally thousands of times, reliving the same traumatic events over and over again, all on the off chance that this would save his girl, his best friend, and the world. Few anime characters can match this level of heroics!
4. Red Blood Cell (Cells at Work)
Red Blood Cell is clumsy, directionally-challenged, and unsure of herself. But during Cells at Work’s, surprisingly touching, finale, her bravery, hard work, and persistence saves the day. Red Blood Cell gives this clumsy, directionally-challenged, and unconfident girl hope that I, too, can make a difference with the same can-do attitude!
3. Akira Tachibana (After the Rain)
Akira’s one-sided crush on her (much older) boss, Kondo, might have been doomed to fail from the start, but you’ve got to admire her single-mindedness! Instead of dithering over her feelings for 12 episodes, she relentlessly pursued Kondo, even going so far as to bond with his kid, ask him on a date, and try to find common ground. Akira’s persistence makes her a heroine you can’t help but want to cheer for!
2. Anzu (Hinamatsuri)
At first Anzu is the kind of precocious, spoiled brat that you just love to hate. But after a short stint on the street, during which she learned the value of hard work and of community from a group of kind-hearted drifters, she’s an almost entirely different kid, one who moved me to tears! Hinamatsuri was one of the funniest anime of the year, but, thanks to Anzu, it was also one of the most moving!
1. Izuku Midoriya (My Hero Academia Season 3)
I’ve already waxed lyrical about this lovable dork. Deku’s adorable, down-to-earth, and has come a long way since the show’s start. Check out this blog post for more reasons why I love him!
Ty’s Top Three Openings of 2018
3. Kiss of Death (Darling in the FranXX Opening 2)
2. Fighting Gold) (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind Opening 1)
1. Mission! (Cells at Work Opening 1)
Ty’s Top Three Endings of 2018
3. Grow Up Shine! (Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Ending 1)
2. Ref:rain (After the Rain Ending 1)
1. Red (Banana Fish Ending 2)
Ty’s Top Three Ships
3. Ichigo and Ikuno (Darling in the FranXX)
Sure, Ikuno’s romantic feelings towards Ichigo may have been one-sided, however, it was still awesome to see a canonically gay woman in a mainstream anime. I thought Ikuno was extremely brave for confessing her feelings to Ichigo, given that she already knew how she felt and that the world in which they lived favoured male/female partnerships. The way Ichigo gently let her down, while still comforting her and validating her feelings, was also immensely sweet.
2. Sakuta and Mai (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny-girl Senpai)
It’s not often that we see such a healthy, mature relationship in an anime, let alone one in which both parties involved are high-school-age. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Sakuta and Mai are affectionate, give each other the space that they need to pursue their own goals, and don’t explode with jealousy should the other so much as glance at another member of the opposite sex. Gee, I know many real-life couples who can’t do this much!
1. Ash and Eiji (Banana Fish)
Ash and Eiji were from two very different worlds – the former called the violent slums of New York City his home, whereas the latter lived a comparatively peaceful, sheltered life in Japan. Yet Ash and Eiji accepted each other’s differences. Not only that, but they celebrated them and used them as a basis with which to better themselves. Ash helped Eiji to become more bold and Eiji brought out a gentler side to Ash. Eiji’s friendship also gave Ash hope, for the future and in humanity. Banana Fish might have been action-packed and full of twists and turns, but it was the relationship between these two young men that had me tuning in each week.
Ty’s Top Three Friendships
Because friendships are no less important and integral to anime than romantic relationships!
3. Silence Suzuka and Special Week (Uma Musume: Pretty Derby)
You might remember Uma Musume as being that weird horseXgirlXidol show. Crazy concept aside, I just loved the adorable friendship between Silence Suzuka and Special Week! The way in which these two girls challenged and cheered each other on made this, otherwise unremarkable, show surprisingly touching.
2. Okabe and Mayuri (Steins;Gate 0)
The lengths that Okabe and Mayuri go to for each other are astounding! During Steins;Gate 0 alone, Mayuri travelled through time, leaving behind all she knew and putting herself at great risk, all in order to save the woman who Okabe loved. And Okabe made countless, consecutive time leaps in order to save Mayuri – again. These two may not be in a romantic relationship, but they will, time and time again, without so much as a second thought, put the other’s needs and safety before their own.
1. Chio and Manana (Chio-chan’s School Road)
If you and your bestie haven’t choreographed your own dance, like these two have, you ain’t worth squat!
That concludes my year in review. If you read the entirety of this blog post (which is likely my longest yet) hats off to you! But, before you go, let me know: what did you think of this year’s anime? Which stood out to you and for what reason? And what are you most looking forward to next year? Happy New Year to all of my awesome readers! I hope that it’s one chock-full of blessings!
The Anime I Watched in 2018
- A Place Further than the Universe
- After the Rain
- Attack on Titan Season 3
- Banana Fish
- Black Clover (dropped)
- Cells at Work
- Chio-chan’s School Road
- Darling in the FranXX
- FLCL Progressive
- Food Wars! The Third Plate: Totsuki Train Arc
- Free!: Dive to the Future
- Gintama.: Silver Soul Arc
- Gintama.: Silver Soul Arc – Second Half War
- Grand Blue
- Iroduku: The World in Colors
- Itou Junji: Collection
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind
- My Hero Academia Season 3
- Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny-girl Senpai
- Run with the Wind
- Steins;Gate 0
- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
- The Ancient Magus’ Bride
- Tokyo Ghoul:re
- Tokyo Ghoul:re 2nd Season (dropped)
- Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou Kyuudoubu
- Uma Musume: Pretty Derby