Reflection of Anime 2018
Hello everyone and Happy belated New Years! It look a while, but are excited to present to you our Reflection of Anime 2018! It has been quite a long time since we have last done something like this, and it’s bigger and better than it has ever been thanks to everyone coming to together to get this done! I would like to extend a special thanks to Aplus and Berry for their assistance of figuring out how we should format this. And of course I would also like to thank the team for their hard work! Cheers to 2019!
This article includes every writer on our team who was active in 2018. We hope you will enjoy our reflection on both our coverages and the shows we have watched throughout the year! Maybe you will find some you overlooked or catch your interest!
Who Covered What 2018
- 2018 Hiatus: Aplus
- 2018 Newest Additions: Midnight (Spring 2018), Fuzzy(Spring 2018), Shadow (Spring 2018), Ruru (Fall 2018)
- Semi-Hiatus: A Writer does not pick up any new shows, but continues on-going coverages
- Carry-Over Titles are color coded by the season it premiered.
- Click the Title to view our coverage
- Dropped Titles have been excluded
- Only Completed Reader Requests are included
Hall of Fame
We Promise It’s not just My Hero Academia
Boku no Hero Academia
My Hero Academia
Oki: I feel like this one might seem strange to some, and completely expected to others. There were many anime this year that made me feel excited and engaged, but My Hero Academia actually reminded me why I love to watch anime in the first place. Most of us found anime thanks to that one shounen, Dragon Ball Z, or Yu Yu Hakusho, or Naruto. I think all of us can relate to our first shounen and how it made us love the genre. Boku no Hero Academia really brings feelings of nostalgia and happiness for me. How am I not supposed to put this in my ‘amazed’ category when it’s able to remind me just why I love the genre? Hero Academia lands in my Hall of Fame because of how authentic it is.
Shadow: My Hero Academia at it again, showing us all what a great shounen can be. Even with it being the third season, the story continues developing characters who already had an arc, showing that their growth doesn’t just stop there. There is so much more to be told about these characters and the world that they live in.
Midnight: My Hero Academia is always a pleasure to watch and season 3 was no exception. It took every chance it could to shine in every way possible. Be it with amazing fight scenes, deeply emotional moments or straight up comedic fun. I can think of so many great moments from the third season that listing them here would take far too long but I’ll mention it here and i’ll mention it again later. All for One’s theme, the fight between All for One and All Might. The dramatic repercussions and the character growth from this fight alone. It makes season 3 really stand out.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
Nikolita: Never did I think we’d see another season of Cardcaptor Sakura, for whatever reason. But I was psyched to hear that Clear Card-hen was being released and was determined to watch it, even if my main reason for doing so was nostalgia. (I was in my early teens when the original CCS aired.) Although CCS is, to me personally, a show aimed at younger viewers, as an adult I still enjoyed it. Produced by Madhouse, Clear Card-hen has amazing visuals and a beautiful soundtrack. Best of all – the original Japanese cast returned to participate in Clear Card-hen! Score! I was a little disappointed with where the series ends until a reader told me that the show is just following the manga. Now I’m looking forward to more source material because hopefully it will lead to additional seasons of CCS.
Shadow: THIS WAS MY FREAKING CHILDHOOD. So needless to say when I heard it was getting a continuation, I started spazzing out. It’s like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen in years and I was more than happy to dive back into such a memorable anime for me. It was also exciting to find that they used all the same voice actors for the roles, which made me even more nostalgic. Also seeing my very first OTP together again was one of the biggest blessings this year. While the ending distressed me a bit due to it being open ended, it was still a great nostalgia trip.
Eva: When Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card announced it was getting an adaption, it quickly became one of my most anticipated titles of 2018! Aside from the outrageously criminal way they finished up, (it shouldn’t be legal to do such a thing, our hearts couldn’t handle it!!) it was such a treat to be showered with nostalgia, and have the opportunity to witness how much our favourite characters and our two love birds have grown, they did hell of a job of taunting us with the sheer amount secrets, all which kept us clinging to the edge of our seats, anxiously waiting to find out exactly why everyone is keeping such tightlipped about it. While the ending drove us all insane, I don’t regret watching it because I still enjoyed every second of it!
Nikolita: I think what intrigued me the most about Island was that it always kept me guessing. The cast of characters was relatively small, but trying to figure out their relationships with each other and trying to figure out where the time travel fit into the plot was fun. Was there really more than one Setsuna or was he just a reincarnation? What was up with Rinne? What was soot blight syndrome? There were a few twists along the way that I wasn’t expecting, such as the jump forward in time for a handful of episodes, plus the ending was a bit of a surprise. Island had a huge dash of mystery, with a little romance and a sprinkling of comedic fanservice, and if you like shows about time travel I definitely recommend watching this one. Island gets my vote for Anime of the Year.
Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
Run with the Wind
Eva: Although Kaze ga Tsuyoku is an on-going series that will be carrying over into Winter 2019, it is quickly making itself a true contender of being one of, if not the best sports anime I have ever watched. Based off a novel that already has a live-action film adaption, Kaze ga Tsuyoku takes us by storm by its compelling story of a group of young men herded into joining a Track and Field team for the sake of running the Hakone Ekiden! It is incredibly well written, with fleshed out characters who and will undergo one hell of an amazing character development, one who I am already nominating as one of the best character growth of the season. It is a hilarious and heartfelt story that will have you cheering for each individual member’s success in no time! So if you haven’t started watching this already, don’t put it off for too long! This is one of the must watch titles of Fall 2018 and Winter 2019!
Shadow: I wasn’t sure what to expect from a sports anime just about running. And while yes, running isn’t exactly the most exciting sport to watch, the fact that they chose to focus more on the characters and their growth was probably the best thing the series could have done. All the characters feel like solid and real characters dealing with very real problems. It’s a slower anime than the typical sports anime, but it lets you really get into the mindset of the characters and show you what they’re dealing with and also how the show isn’t completely dedicated to the sport. It’s more of a thing that brought these characters together in the first place and I’m absolutely loving it.
Ruru: This is hands-down my anime of the year. Of everything I’ve watched, nothing else even comes close! I went in with high expectations that were totally exceeded. I can’t say much that Eva hasn’t already, but I have been blown away with the characterization shown. Everyone’s motivations are so believable and easy to sympathise with that I find it almost impossible to pick a favourite. I don’t think I’ve ever been as dismayed by a series taking a break as I was by this one. Seriously, just watch it.
Fuzzy: Having never seen Ashita no Joe or Hajime no Ippo, Megalo Box was a shot in the dark for me. However, unlike most shots in the dark, this one paid off completely and with excess with a stellar cast, excellent directing, and a gritty art style to die for. The soundtrack was easily one of the best I’ve heard all year, adding the ideal amount of hype into emotionally charged fights that may move you to tears. TMS Entertainment has given us a wonderfully entertaining anime which I highly recommend, which sticks to the sporty formula while adding its own Megalo spin to it.
Berry: Knowing the praises for Ashita no Joe, even having not seen it, that was enough to make me check out Megalo Box. Playing into the underdog story as well as adding a cool twist to boxing, what I loved the most was the mature and old school vibes I got from this show. This definitely felt like something that could have aired awhile ago but it still has that fresh feeling. A great art style and engaging story left me excited for an episode each week so I could cheer on our Team Nowhere.
Eva: I am not a fan of boxing, mainly because it’s brutal to watch, yet I still decided to give Megalo Box a shot. While it was pretty hard to watch at times, I absolutely loved it. All it took was the first episode to fall in love with the gritty old school style, a sick soundtrack and great characters and writing. I loved how it was less about the egos and more about the tenacity. It was exciting to watch Gearless Joe build a name for himself by performing as a traditional boxer, while his opponents stuck with their gears. Megalo Box is a show that certainly packs a punch, and is a show you should absolutely watch!
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
A Place Further Than The Universe
Shadow: I thought this series would just be about cute girls doing cute girl things. However, this show as quick to prove that there was much more to it than that. I absolutely loved the energy in the animation and characters and each one brought something interesting to the table. I felt such genuine emotion in all of the characters and their circumstances and how they bounced off each other so well. Just watching the girls go on a once in a life time journey was a spectacle and even to the point of being moved to tears. This show is definitely worth the watch.
Berry: Even though this show aired almost a year ago, it still moves me now. Even thinking about it makes me smile. The sense of adventure and the inspiration in it drove me to look at life a little differently and also gave me the drive to go out and try new things. I felt so attached to these girls and cheered for them, felt for them, was in awe with them, and even sobbed with them. This show really became important for me and makes me sentimental just talking about it. I love these girls, I love the whole cast of characters and I love how inspirational they all are. This show is really special and while there was some competition, Yorimoi is my Anime of the Year.
Pop Team Epic
Pandora: You never know how much a show can make fun of everything in 12 episodes. This show made fun of everythings and put as much work as possible into to it. The flip book( featured on the last pic), the different animation studio from across the world, and just all the time making all the jokes. Damn, everyone. The French guy in the middle still looks like he could be an arsonist still, I’m just saying, his face looks like it. I think they flipped everyone off at this point, entire animation world and everyone else. I generally enjoyed the show, except when they were making fun of stuff I didn’t understand. I still laughed even though I didn’t understand.
Hall of Shame
The shows that disappointed us
Darling in the Franxx
Eva: For most part, everything was fine until the aliens attacked. DARLING in the FRANXX started off as a weird show that either completely turned people off, or reeled people in. But it’s TRIGGER, what do you expect? They are always going to push the boundaries and do something crazy. And their collaboration with A-1 Pictures was no exception. And in the beginning, I liked this show, a lot, so it was disappointing to see it deteriorate from Episode 10 until the every end. It was around then when they started to rush relationships, teen pregnancy (yes you read that right), amnesias and just about threw everything out the window when they decided the aliens should attack during what should have been the most critical moment for the characters’ and their development. I think a lot of us agree it was then when the show started to go downhill. It was frustrating to see how a lot of things were ignored, along with the new discoveries that never properly followed up on nor explained or sometimes even used, and repetitive conflicts that should have already resolved to boot! Darling in the Franxx was not the worst show, but it was one hell of a disappointment.
Fuzzy: As a huge fan of Studio Trigger, Darling in the Franxx was my most anticipated show during it airing season. I was a bit skeptical at the cast of teenager characters, as it reminded me of Kiznaiver which was a hit or miss, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. The show was quite solid at first, with a mysterious setting and Zero Two being a wonderfully amusing character to watch on screen. The traces of Gurren Lagann and Trigger’s best work could be found underneath the action scenes, but I couldn’t help but feel as if it never truly came together to become anything as close to the hype and epic scale of Trigger’s best works. It had the ingredients, but something was missing. I didn’t realize what it was, but when Trigger threw aliens at my face, I knew that definitely wasn’t the answer. Add in the fact that certain characters were straight up ignored, pushed from the spotlight into side character status, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about the show anymore. Even Zero Two lost much of her charm by the time the show ended, failing to keep touch with what made her so refreshing early on. In agreement with Eva, it wasn’t a horrible show, but it was most definitely a huge disappointment to me.
Eva: Honestly, as much as I wanted to love this show, let’s be real here: Hugtto Precure was a hot mess. It was a series overflowing with potential, but they blew it due to the lack of focus, poor pacing, neglecting characters (*Hana being the sole exception to this), and questionable writing. By the time it looked like they were starting to find their stride again, it was too late, the damage has already been done. And even after what I thought to be an incredible comeback, they were lazy with finale, and ended the show in such an inexcusable way, it infuriated me. When I think about how turbulent journey covering this show through its of highs and lows, I am amazed I actually managed to cover it until the very end. I don’t regret it, since there were times when I certainly felt it was worth the patience, but the lousy finale crushed my heart. I genuinely thought they would be able to be able to wrap things up properly. The worst part about it, was knowing how they absolutely had the time to address certain things that needed to be cleared up, but instead they chose to sweep under the rug, and ignore it altogether. This is why even though Hugtto Precure did have some of good moments, this isn’t a series I would recommend. There are far better titles like Heartcatch, Go! Princess Precure to pick from.
Mahou Shoujo Ore
Magical Girl Ore
Midnight: I can’t tell you how many times I considered dropping this series. The premise is really sound which is why I picked it up in the first place. The execution left much to be desired though. The comedy was awkward, the jokes often fell flat and there was just a lot that didn’t translate well to a western audience. There was a small bit to salvage at the end, the plot twist was interesting and executed really well actually but it wasn’t enough to make the beginning worth it. Much less the absolute mess that was episode six. I can’t bring myself to ever think i’d recommend this trainwreck to anyone, if you want a comedy magical boy series go watch Binan KouKou instead and save yourself the headache.
Satsuriku no Tenshi
Angels of Death
Nikolita: I am not a fan of almost everything from the horror genre; however every once in awhile I find an exception to this mindset. Berserk (2016) and (2017) were two such exceptions, and I was hoping Satsuriku no Tenshi would be the third. But after watching this title I was left a little disappointed. What had started out of the gate as a strong contender soon faded into repetition, boring dialogue and a lifeless main character. I was most interested in the bond between Rachel and Zack but Satsuriku no Tenshi took forever to showcase the strength of that bond, and by the time it did I was already bored with the show. I did consider dropping Satsuriku no Tenshi but didn’t want to leave Midnight hanging and I also wanted to find out whether Zack and Rachel were eventually able to leave the basement dungeon alive, so I stuck with the series until its end. I will commend Satsuriku for having a unique premise and decent music, but that’s about it.
Berry: As much as I love horror, even I know that finding a good horror can be really rare. Angels of Death had a cool start and a cool concept but ended up being really disappointing for me. There wasn’t much there that was worthwhile for me. Rachel never did anything to stand out, probably because of her personality and I didn’t really start to slightly care for her until the end. I guess I could say the same for Zack. The show was mostly slow and boring but I think the worst part were the laughs. And my god there was a lot of laughing, mostly with Zack and that one chick and my god was the laughing terrible. I really hate using this word but I think this is a good example of “edgy”. It was trying too hard but didn’t do much. I didn’t care about anyone and I really don’t even know what the point was for everything. Really, what was the point?
Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai
Tada Never Falls in Love
Eva: I came into Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai with a lot of excitement and anticipation, but in the end I found myself disappointed. It was ridiculous how long it took to finally see some meaningful interactions between Mitsuyoshi and Teresa. It wasn’t until the last few episodes we finally start seeing Mitsuyoshi’s perspective and following him on his journey of coming to terms with his feelings. But in all fairness, Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai had a very different approach to their love story, one that I strongly believe would have benefited with more episodes under its belt. The writers approach’s to the subject of the love was both realistic and refreshing. Together, we the audience, and the characters learned a lot about “what is love?” through the eyes and experiences of others. However this method came with a hefty price, of sacrificing air-time that could have been spent fleshing out Teresa and Mitsuyoshi’s love story. While Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai is a cute show, but it is one I won’t be coming back to, nor is it one I would recommend to someone who wants to watch a romance. Sure the main couple is incredibly adorable and you will absolutely fall in love with them, but given how they never bothered to fully explore their relationship left me with a broken heart.
Berry: This is the biggest disappointment of the year for me, and the worst show I somehow made myself watch until the end. Hanebado was pretty special to me because it was a female sports anime that didn’t rely on fanservice, or wasn’t just a moe show. It looked like the real deal and the first few episodes were a strong start that had lots of potential, and amazing animation to boot. But then what happened was the show completely going off the rails with terrible inconsistent writing and unlikeable characters. The animation remained stellar but nothing made sense, plot points went nowhere or were built up and handled simply. Most of the characters didn’t matter, and Ayano had to be the most unlikeable piece of crap character I’ve seen and yet there was a happy ending for her? Fuck this trainwreck. I’m just sad because this show had so much potential but ruined itself.
Eva: I covered this show for 4 episodes and ending up dropping it for the exact reason as Berry had listed. Very quickly I realized just about every rival was going to be a stuck up despicable egos, and I wasn’t here for it. It was frustrating, especially coming into this feeling excited to see another competitive sports title revolving around female athletes. Rivalry is fine and all, but there is only so much we can stomach watching insufferable characters was not what I had hoped for.
Persona 5: The Animation
Berry: I know I shouldn’t have expected much but Persona 5 is so special to me, I wanted to believe that an anime for it would work. And you know, it can work, but when dumb decisions are made with what limited number of episodes there are, of course it won’t work. Persona 5, the video game exudes so much charm and personality and yet none of that could be seen in the anime. Persona 5: The Animation is nothing but a shell of its source material, taking out the style and charm from its characters and setting and making it so…bland. The anime didn’t give me the same joy the game did, and it just proves yet again that maybe video games shouldn’t get an anime adaptation. Just go play the game, or watch a walkthrough online.
Ruru: Totally agree with Berry on this. I loved the game, and contrary to all common sense I was silly enough to think that the anime adaptation might be worth watching because there’s so much to work with. There’s no reason that it couldn’t have been good, but it’s like they didn’t even try. And I think that’s the problem with video game anime adaptations in general; adaptors seem to feel like they don’t even have to bother making something halfway decent. Characters are pared down or gutted when if anything, anime is a perfect chance to showcase additional development. Which is a shame. So much wasted potential here.
Shadow: I’m not sure what I expected from this show, but I did expect it to be at least decent like the Persona 4 anime and I didn’t even get that. I knew the anime wouldn’t be better than the game, but I had hoped for a fun and nicely animated retelling of the game I loved. They rushed almost every scene, added scenes that made little to no sense to the story overall, the animation was terrible, all the characters felt like cardboard cutouts, good shot compositions were nonexistent and everything just felt so soulless. This anime didn’t even feel necessary. Sure, they added some cute scenes, but those scenes alone don’t make up for the time I felt like I wasted watching this train wreck. And it pains me to say that about a series I really enjoyed playing.
The shows that surprised us!
Aggressive Retsuko (2018)
Ruru: I don’t know that I’d call it “hidden”, per se, because it was pretty popular, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this one! I’d heard of the older Retsuko shorts before and been intrigued so I went into the Netflix incarnation expecting to find something cute and light to binge on, and it certainly is that, but I also ended up getting so invested in Retsuko’s struggles. The whole thing was absolutely spot-on about the frustrations of office life and workplace politics, and all of the characters are good fun in their own way (Washimi and Gori are senpais of the year). For anyone who’s ever been stuck in a dead-end office job, it’s super relatable watching and I’m very glad it’s getting a second season!
Shadow: Upon first glance, you wouldn’t expect this anime to be as good as it is. Sanrio did a fine job creating such a relatable character and environment, capturing how it is in a job you’re not satisfied with. I couldn’t help but laugh along and shout how relatable everything was. Watching Aggretsuko was such a fun experience and it shows that simple animation can go a long way if you have great characters and a good plot.
High Score Girl
Berry: With Netflix’s evil clutches stealing this anime, I didn’t bother looking for the episodes of High Score Girl when it was airing. Netflix just put up the show and I binged it all and left incredibly surprised with it. It was a really charming and fun little show about video games, with also a little romantic story. As a video game fan myself, it was really fun looking at the history of the games, as well as watching the arcade scene when arcades used to be a thing. It’s a nostalgic feeling that older video game fans will understand, and makes me wish I was old enough to go to arcades and play with other people. The characters are also really likeable and the romance was adorable. I think people really slept on this show because of it being full CG, but I think the CG gives it its own charm. It really was something that caught me by surprise and I happily await the OVAs in March!
Pandora: I loved High Score Girl! I’m not old enough to understand all the game references, but I learned a lot from looking all of them up. I wish I was smart enough to play fighting games. I can’t remember the controls. I have Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice for Xbox, but even when I get past the tutorials I can’t remember all the controls, it’s too much. It’s amazing how they remember all the controls and stuff for that, esp in 6th and 7th grade.I also liked how the developed the love story. At least the characters were aware of themselves, which I liked. Finally, I agree with Berry, everyone ran away because of the CGI (those people got me dying, look at the plot before the animation, then if you can’t stand the animation you may stop).
Eva: Idolish7 was the sleeper hit of the season, and completely blown all expectations right out of the water. The rich story and extremely well written characters takes us onto a dramatic roller coaster of emotions, it made us all cry, laugh and even scream. It is an understatement to say Idolish7 has raised the bar for all idol themed shows, and is without a doubt, the best idol show I have ever watched. It was everything I ever wanted from shows like Utapri, Idolm@ster Side:M, and we finally got it in the best form possible. The forces that drove the series were the plot, the characters, and of course, the music! It was tough road, but together they were able to overcome it, and blossom into a beautiful flower thanks to incredible writing. It is a show I will always come back to watch again, and if you’re hungry for a good music story, I promise you, Idolish7 will not disappoint.
Shadow: As someone who really liked Uta no Prince-sama (except for 3rd season onwards), I stood with the idea that all other idol shows were cheap rip offs of it. BOY WAS I MISTAKEN. Idolish7 turned out to be much more than the typical idol show. All the characters have a lot more depth to them than what they initially are perceived as. Not to mention this show show cases the characters almost equally as opposed to Utapri where it was pretty obvious there was some favoritism going on with how they presented the characters. This anime honestly surprised me by how good the character development and plot were and I can’t wait until the second season!
Berry: It’s hilarious that three of us were so surprised by this show, but I guess it really goes to show how oversaturated and bland most idol shows can be. I knew Idolish7 was a popular game, so I went into this show just expecting a cute show to pass the time. But I got way more than I wanted and I’m not complaining at all. It’s surprising how strong the writing is with both the characters and the plot to where I really care about it all. I was really emotionally invested and I had a lot of fun with the show. Without a doubt it’s the best idol show I’ve seen and it proves that idol shows can actually be good.
Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi
Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits
Eva: I have always considered Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi to be one of the hidden gems of the Spring 2018 Season. For a long time, it was overlooked by many. It is a show with delicious food, emotional and heartwarming stories, and endearing characters. It takes you both on a journey of laughter and tears, and is one to be remembered! In fact I loved it so much, I rewatched she episodes from the very beginning every week, and couldn’t shut up about it. Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi was that show that gave me so much joy and excitement, I found myself hoping it would be Monday sooner. I am also so relieved this show even got twenty-six episodes to work with, because good lord, thirteen episodes wouldn’t have done this show justice. It is the type that has a lot more to it than meets the eye. Was it perfect? No, but we got ayakashi, a badass heroine, intriguing characters, charming male leads, oh and it was exactly what I have been craving for for years. Although it has a very slow start, don’t sleep on this series and give it a chance! It is the type of series that has a lot going than what you see on the surface!
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Oki: I still don’t understand how a show that basically boils down to ‘japanese man becomes a very powerful slime that women love to put their boobs on while he saves the world’ appeals to me as much as Slime Isekai, but boy does it. By the time we even get to the ‘isekai’ portion of the show it’s not something I mind. There are slow paced sections where very little happens but it’s unlikely when you watch Slime Isekai you’ll find yourself having a terrible time. There are always jokes, be it through lamp shading or genuinely funny hijinks, and the action is usually worth the wait as well as the plot. I probably won’t enjoy an Isekai as much as this for a long time.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
A Place Further Than The Universe
Shadow: Out of all the anime I watched in 2018, this one had to hit me the hardest. Who knew a story about girls going to Antarctica would be so heartfelt. Each girl had a different reason to go either to show the world that they were wrong, just for the heck of it, to make her youth more fulfilling and even to just hang out with friends. There’s a certain charm and energy that this anime exudes that inspires you to go out and do things you imagined doing but never did just like this group of girls. Not to mention how hard this series can hit you in the feels. I tear up in a lot of anime, but there are very few that actually make me outright sob.
Eva: Violet Evergarden is a heartfelt story of the journey of a girl who all she knew was the life of a child soldier who fought in a brutal war. We follow Violet on her journey of discovering a new purpose in her life as a ghostwriter of letters, developing a will of her own, and finding the names of the emotions she once could not identify, including her Major’s last words to her, “I love you”. From start to finish, Violet’s journey and the and the stories of those she worked with captivated me, and there wasn’t a single episode where I didn’t cry like a baby. Even though I just about every episode, it is definitely a show will absolutely revisit again and again in the future. I look forward to the film coming out in 2020!
Best Character Development
Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
Eva: When I came across this category, immediately Kakeru was the first person to come to mind. This guy is an awkward penguin who didn’t really know how to socialize with others, had a habit of being a debbie-downer, and imposing his selfish desires onto others. But incredibly, Kakeru got his shit together, and learned how to properly step up to the plate and help coach the others, starting with Prince (Akane), and now Shindo. Although Kakeru is still learning, the result of his first breakthrough was so rewarding, I have to hand this to him.
Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan 2
Pandora: This show had an interesting development with Saiki at the end. He tries to hide that he is a psychic, but he realizes he can’t hide it from people forever. So he knows he might have to tell different people when the time comes. He also realizes he’s not as hard as comes off to be and he enjoys the people he hangs out with regardless of how annoying they are. He wants to help people in the world and he has technically been saving the world by stopping it from exploding for 5 or 6 years.
Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara
Berry: The whole point of Irozuku was for Hitomi to grow out of her shell and that’s what she did. She started off as an extremely quiet and withdrawn girl, having no interest in people or magic. Getting sent to the past and being put in this strange situation was what she needed to grow as she slowly opened up to her new friends and gained a new appreciation for life and magic, bringing color back into her life literally and metaphorically. Her development was slow but in the end she became a much more open, loving, and most importantly, a much happier person. I feel like a proud mama!
Boku no Hero Academia Season 3
Shadow: If there was anyone deserving of the crown of best character development from My Hero Academia, it would be Bakugou. I absolutely hated this guy in the first season and it wasn’t until he stood up against Shigaraki and proclaimed that he would never join their side because he wants to win like All Might. THAT was the moment my view of him started to expand and see him as not just a hot tempered kid, but someone who truly looks up to All Might and his heroics. His character is pushed even further when he reveals that he actually feels guilty over All Might’s retirement and for the first time tells Izuku off all people his of insecurities. Even his relationship with Izuku is starting to change for the better, especially when he is finally starting to see the problem with his crass attitude.
Best Group Dynamic
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
Nikolita: This might seem like an odd choice for this category, but if you think about it I think it’s a fair suggestion. Aside from Akiho Shinomoto, the new transfer student to Sakura’s school, everyone in the picture above has been friends for several years by the time Clear Card-hen starts. There’s best friends Sakura and Tomoyo, Syaoran (not pictured above) and Sakura who like each other a lot, Chiharu and Takashi who pretend to argue with each other over Takashi’s love of telling outlandish stories, and Sakura’s friend Naoko who shares Sakura’s love of cheerleading. These friends virtually never fight with each other and all they support each other, no matter what the other person is going through. If only we were all so lucky as to have the same group of friends growing up alongside us. :3
Shadow: I absolutely LOVE this group of silly boys. I can’t even say I dislike any member of this idol group. While in Utapri, there were definitely a handful of characters that I just could not stand and I feel like that affected my view of the group as a whole. But that isn’t a problem with these guys because all of them are such interesting and lovable characters. Not to mention that all of them have a certain amount of depth to them that adds more to them than typical anime character stereotypes. I came to love how much they supported one another, learned to trust one another and grew closer despite all the hardships and miscommunications they went through as they all strive to become inspirational idols.
Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
Run with the Wind
Eva: I’m probably spamming this show at this point, but how can I not? It is the group’s amazing chemistry and support for one another is one of the main foundations that makes this story so amazing. None of these guys had any plans or intentions of joining the Track and Field team, nor did they ever imagine they would be training together to qualify for the Hakone Ekiden! They are a team of misfits, yet all of them are good people who doesn’t look down on anyone (except for Kakeru until he was knocked off his high horse). Yet despite all odds, the team has come together, each finding their own drive motivating to pursue the dream that everyone claims it out of reach.
Ruru: Yep, as far as I’m concerned, no other series this year touched this show’s group dynamic. Everyone manages to hold their own as an individual without getting lost in the crowd, which is especially impressive for a relatively large main cast. And despite that individuality, they manage to band together to become an amazingly supportive and cohesive team (after some speedbumps). You feel a real sense of pride seeing every character progress in their own way – I never thought I’d get so emotional seeing someone shave a few seconds off their time. They are all best boys.
Berry: These girls are a riot. Starting out new lives as zombies with a bunch of girls you don’t even know is crazy enough so it was rough for them in the beginning, but watching them come together and becoming friends was such a joy. They have such a fun dynamic with each other and probably because of their situation, they were able to become great friends. Their banters and hijinks were hilarious, and while sometimes they can bash heads, they all come together as friends. I love the sister relationship between Lily and Yuugiri, the professional one between Ai and Junko, and whatever it is whenever Tae bites someone (usually Junko). But mostly I love how they work together whenever Kotaro puts them in the craziest situation, because they’re idols, and idols work together!
Pandora: I literally died of laughter when they scare the president of the pharmacy company so bad that she can’t remember the performance, that’s real teamwork right here. Also, they have so many different backgrounds from different time periods and from different livelihoods, for them to become friends is amazing.
Midnight: Honestly, the girls of Franchouchou are such a strange group that it’s odd to see them get along so well. That’s what makes their friendship perfect though, they all come from different times and different walks of life and most of all they are all idols and all zombies. They accept one another and their strange quirks and care for one another deeply. I adore watching them together from everyone to sitting and bathing their feet in a foot bath to singing on a collapsing stage. These girls will stick together through and though till death do they…wait a second.
Fuzzy: Mamoru Miyano channels his inner maniac into perhaps his most insane role yet, which is surprising considering he’s voiced the likes of Light Yagami and Okabe Rintarou. Zombieland Saga wouldn’t have been the same or had even happened if not for the shenanigans of Koutarou Tatsumi himself. He could be seductively charming in one minute, and sarcastically screaming in the next, walking a thin line between unbearably annoying and amazingly endearing. However, between his bouts of of absolute insanity he was the emotional support holding the idols of Zombieland Saga together, earning him a spot as my best boy.
Darling in the Franxx
Midnight: While darling in the Franxx had a lot of writing issues in it’s second half and even more so as it reached it’s conclusion, I feel I need to stop and give a shout out to the one who was always emotionally grounded. The one who deserved better, Goro. He was always willing to put himself second for the happiness of those around him, he acted as an anchor for the group most often and was a generally kind and good person. He was an absolute sweetheart to everyone and that’s why he’s my best boy of 2018.
Shadow: While my bias may be Iori, I can’t deny the fact that Nagi definitely deserves recognition as the true best boy in Idolish7. I was honestly annoyed with him whenever he spoke at first and he antics were just downright BIZARRE. However, my feelings did a complete 180 after Idolish7 blew one of their big performances and Nagi did his very best to encourage them and raise back their spirits. And boy did he continue to shine afterwards with his genuine care for the group and offering mature advice when the members needed it. Nagi is truly a good boy deserving of being a best boy of 2018~
Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
Eva: Oh the struggle to pick best boy is real, but it would be injustice if nobody mentioned Shindo! This precious cinnamon roll who must be protected from the cruel world is the that the one that played an instrumental role for bringing the team together. It all started with him choosing to train hard to qualify for the Hakone Ekiden because he wanted to, which led into motivating many of the others to follow suit. And he doesn’t stop there, despite being a very busy university student, he is dedicated to their goal, and founded the team’s Fan Club in attempt to help fundraise so they can afford buying a team uniform and whatever gears and equipment they need to improve their training. His presence and commitment to the team and big heart is what makes him best boy.
Captain Tsubasa (2018)
Ruru: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you have watched Captain Tsubasa and your favourite character isn’t Hyuga, you’re fucking your life up. To be honest, Hyuga might be one of my all-time Best Boys, and I’m very happy with David’s interpretation of the character. He is basically a JoJo character, after all. He’s so extra and he’s never not posing and I love him so much, he’s my angry son. Special shoutout to the time he ran away to Okinawa without telling anyone to kick balls into the ocean during a tropical storm.
Nikolita: Setsuna gets my vote for Best Boy. He’s a very well-rounded character, someone you’d want dating your daughter. He’s a flirty romantic, but he’s still charming. He looks out for the best interests of others, especially Rinne once he becomes attached to her. He knows Karen is attracted to him, but he still helps her develop a plan to get away from her father and figure out what happened to her mother who disappeared mysteriously years earlier. Yet he’ll still get distracted by a pretty girl showing a lot of skin because hey, he’s a guy and he’s only human. ^^;; And when he falls head over heels for his girl Rinne, he literally travels through time and space to be with her. *fans self* Now tell me that kind of devotion’s not attractive.
Berry: Ash Lynx is a fighter. He’s tough on the outside, he’s a great leader, he’s a sharpshooter, and he has an IQ of 200 but even with all of that he’s still a kid traumatized by the horrible abuse he endured. When he’s with Eiji, he can be weak and fragile and talk to him about things he couldn’t with anyone else. He’s also friendly and has a good heart and for a gang leader, he is really fair which is why so many follow and respect him. Ash has a lot of sides to him that I love, both strong and weak, and watching his journey through Banana Fish made me hopeful this kid could find his happiness. And in a way, he did and he deserved it. I really felt for him for all the crap he endured, and admired his good heart under that fierce lynx visage and loved his relationship with Eiji, making him my favorite boy of the year.
Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi
Eva: I absolutely adore Aoi. She is a tough cookie who despite being cast into an incredibly disadvantageous situation, she refuses to give in and fights for the alternative solution. Although she is compassionate and understanding, she isn’t a pushover, and won’t allow the petty actions of others, or the odds not being in her favour dissuade her from her goals.
Christa / Historia
Attack on Titan
Oki: I’ll fight the lot of you over this one mate. Christa, now known as Historia, is probably my favorite character in this show. Though later there are things that underwhelm and distort my view of the series, this pristine blonde waifu is the inspiration for much of my love for the series. Her episodes made Season 3 shine and I nominate her for eternal best waifu.
Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara
Shadow: I was honestly torn super torn between recommending Kohaku and Historia because I love both of them so much. Thankfully I was able to dodge a bullet thanks to Oki. I felt like Kohaku needed to be mentioned as best girl one way or another because holy crap she was the heart and soul of Irozuku. If not for her, the anime would be a little too dull without her happy-go-lucky personality and cheerful demeanor. However, throughout the anime, Kohaku has proven herself to not just be the genki girl, but also a strong emotional support for Hitomi. She as extremely wise and knowledgeable for her age and fought tooth and nail to get Hitomi back home. Her main goal is to make people happy with her magic and it hit me so hard how much she regrets not being able to help those closest to her. But she never gave up and was the catalyst to helping Hitomi get her colors back. She truly is deserving of being best girl in Irozuku.
Midnight: If you’d told me at the beginning of the year that my best girl was going to be a zombie, i’d of told you that you were drunk. That is exactly what happened though, from when she woke up at the end of episode one and it only took off from there. She became the leader of Franchouchou and shined in every single episode, she’s strong but kind. Rough but caring and it’s a perfect mix of traits that make her enjoyable. It’s hard to pick a ‘best’ girl in a series with such wonderful characters but for me at least, Saki skyrocketed to first place rather quickly.
Fuzzy: Without a doubt my favorite of Zombieland Saga’s magnificent cast, Saki accomplishes quite the feat of standing out. From the very moment her zombie persona evaporated away and her biker gang history returned, I knew she was amazing. From her Biker Leader glare that could send shivers down the spine of anyone in Japan, to the endearing smile that backed up her friends when they needed her, Saki is a zombie idol with such a roaring personality that it’s hard to not gravitate towards her.
Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai
Berry: Bunny Girl is successful for several reasons and one of them is its characters, and one of my favorites was Mai. There’s so much to love about her but what I love is how extremely kind she is. She may have the stoic face, but the love and warmth she expresses to Sakuta and the other characters is real. I love how she supportive she is of Sakuta, never being the jealous girlfriend but instead being calm-headed and understanding, and most of all very mature. She understands the situation and does her best in her own way to help, even if it includes taking time away from her boyfriend. I especially loved how sweet and caring she was with Kaede, coming over to make food, spending time with her, and even bring her old clothes to give her. Mai can have a sharp tongue but she’s a very genuine person with a good heart and good head on her shoulders, making her my girl of the year.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
Nikolita: I had initially been inclined to pick Sakura Kinomoto as my Best Girl, but in the end I feel like Tomoyo was the better choice. She’s the yin to Sakura’s yang, Sakura’s cousin and best friend who is just THERE to support Sakura in any which was she can. Of course, having tons of money makes it a lot easier for Tomoyo to help Sakura, but Tomoyo is so purehearted that you know she would move Heaven and Earth for Sakura even if she didn’t have a lot of money. Hey where can I get a best friend like Tomoyo?! I think it’s also worth mentioning that it’s canon that Tomoyo has unrequited romantic feelings for Sakura, but she is able to put them aside and support Sakura in her growing relationship with Syaoran. Pretty selfless for a preteen if you ask me.
I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP!
Midnight: This couple is beautiful, lovely and I am still here mourning the lack of a happy ending for these boys. Ash and Eiji are complete opposites, but as they say, opposites attract. Their personalities clash really well with one another, there is a deep level of caring between them and while the show never fully comes out and says that they are a couple. It’s immensely obvious, even if you aren’t aware of the manga’s history as a famous boys love story. They both want to take care of one another and protect one another and it’s beautiful to watch, plus, watching this cute little innocent Asian boy totally sass a Gang Leader with zero fear is brilliant.
Berry: This ship is so beautiful and just thinking about them makes me emotional. It’s insane how these two have changed just by meeting each other. They each have different lives, different cultures, languages, and mindsets, but they strike such a strong friendship that soon affects them greatly. The love and support of each other is so genuine that sometimes it could be painful, thinking “What’s really best for him?” Like Midnight said, the show never really says if they really loved each other platonically or romantically, so it’s really up to anyone’s interpretation of their relationship. Personally, I found their relationship to be romantic, but whatever type of love you think it was, there was love no doubt.
Inuzuka x Persia
Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet
Shadow: Holy crap these two are adorable. Inuzuka is adorably pure and he just has such a strong respect and love for Persia, it’s honestly touching. And while Persia doesn’t start out with as strong of feelings for Inuzuka, she is clearly watching him and falling for him as she gets to know his silly and devoted self more and more. I also love how much the the two trust and support each other. Even willing to go to far lengths to protect each other while keeping their relationship secret from the entire school.
Iori x Tsumugi
Shadow: I know they’re not canon but I don’t care! This had to be my OTP of the year and the only ship this year that made it into my top 10 ships of all time. This ship had me at “Spoil me sometime.” Stop it Iori! And while it may seem like he’s just taking control of managing, I feel like it’s more like he is trying to give Tsumugi the means to be more confident in herself. And he just can’t help but want to help those he feels has hidden potential (mostly because of his brother) and he doesn’t know how to express it properly. They also seem to bounce off each other pretty well when talking about ideas for Idolish7. I just want to eventually be able to go through the episodes and take screenshots of them whenever they’re standing next to each other lol.
Oodanna x Aoi
Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi
Eva: There were a lot of ships I loved this year, but for me, Oodanna and Aoi will always have a special place in my heart. What makes this couple so special to me is how everything about their budding romance is built up by the little things that matters most. Things like simply having faith in each other, playful banters, eating meals together, simply being there for each other, and best of all, the treat each other as equals. Despite being Aoi being Human and was brought into a world where danger lurks at every corner, Oodanna doesn’t coddle her as if she’s a defenceless child. Instead, he empowers her, willing to compromise, and respects her resolve, even if it’s something he may not agree with. Always waiting on the wings of the sidelines, Oodanna lets Aoi do her thing, and will take the initiative to step in times where she hesitates to lean on someone else. He is in this for the long haul, and his efforts has certainly paid off with Aoi’s becoming more conscious of her feelings towards him.
Sakuta x Mai
Seishun Buta Yarou
Fuzzy: Bunny Girl was not a show I expected to be anywhere near mediocre when I was first met by its preview. However, it quickly proved me wrong from the very first episode, introducing me to a couple with near perfect chemistry. The snarky Sakuta and the cool Sakurajima Mai bounce off each other in dialogue with such grace, Mai greets every sarcastic quip with an equally deadly verbal cut. Akin to Senjougahara and Araragi from the Monogatari series, these two manage to pull off the sarcastic conversations while still clearly displaying their affection for one another. By the end of the series, there isn’t a shred of doubt that the two hold each other dear, no matter how many deviant comments Sakuta might make.
Eva: This ship is such a treat. Sakuta and Mai’s relationship are one of those couples’ whose relationships just is super genuine who’s chemistry goes through the roof! I can’t think of any other ship that had the kind of sparks these two had, they are in a league of their own. Due to the type of personalities they have, their playful banter, witty conversations and how openly affectionate they were with each other, it was pleasure to watch. If you are craving to watch a romance where a couple are super direct about their feelings, you really need to watch Seishun Buta Yarou just for these two.
Berry: Fuzzy and Eva basically said all I love about these two. It’s so rare to find an actual couple in anime that communicate with each other to avoid misunderstandings. I’m glad they take the time to speak with each other constantly whenever a situation comes up, and I love that there is complete trust between them. I also feel that they’re both very equal in their relationship. Sometimes Sakuta can get his way, sometimes Mai does, sometimes Sakuta is dominant, and sometimes Mai is. They just have a really good chemistry and share a genuine love with each other, and it’s so refreshing to see in an anime.
Setsuna x Rinne
Nikolita: My immediate pick for this category was Setsuna and Rinne, but then the little devil sitting on my shoulder said Which Setsuna? Which Rinne? xD Which I won’t answer because I don’t want to spoil the show for anyone, but if you watch Island you’ll see what I mean by the end. Anyways, both characters in this ship have their flaws but throughout the course of the series they both display great character development, with bonus points going to Setsuna for being an overall well-rounded main character. Together Setsuna and Rinne are cute, romantic, playful yet supportive of each other, and they were a fun couple to ship.
Sakura x Syaoran
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
Nikolita: How da fuq can you NOT ship these two?? I mean look how fricking cute they are! Fans of the original Cardcaptor Sakura who shipped Sakura and
Li Syaoran way back then will be excited to see the romantic moments between these two in Clear Card-hen. Yes I still have to remind myself that they’re kids, but Sakura and Syaoran are both mature for their age and clearly care for each other and their blooming relationship. Plus Syaoran is adorable when he’s blushing about Sakura. ;D
Shadow: HOW CAN I NOT TALK ABOUT MY VERY FIRST OTP?! This ship is very close and dear to my heart as they were my childhood ship. This season made me SO happy with the amount of Syaoran x Sakura scenes. Just seeing them get even closer was a treat and the fact that the two care so much about each other is touching. And it’s hilarious how both get so flustered over attempting to put a title on their relationship. What a couple of dorks~ Though it pains me to see how much Syaoran is suffering by keeping secrets from Sakura and just how much he wants to protect her and her happiness. Clamp, please, just let these two babies be happy…
Boku no Hero Academia 3rd Season
My Hero Academia Season 3
Fuzzy: This year, Studio Bones did what they do best with their absolute hit My Hero Academia. From its first season all the way until now, My Hero has proven itself to be a top tier shounen anime, stealing the spotlight whenever it’s airing. A critical component to its success is no doubt the work that Bones has put into animating the already stellar source material. The fights of season three were of no exception to Bones’ dedication to awesome sakuga, with Bones going absolutely PLUS ULTRA during the most high stakes battles we’ve seen from the show yet.
Midnight: I’m going to have to second Fuzzy on this one, the animation in season 3 was absolutely stellar. Studio Bones has always gone above and beyond when animating, but it really shone through during some critical fights in season 3. In particular, the fight in episode 4 between Midoriya and Muscular in particular really stands out in my memory as something that blew me away with it’s animation. All Might vs All for One was also amazing in the way it was animated.
Shadow: Studio Bones really knows how to bring 10/10 to the animation department and they never cease to bring their S game when it comes to My Hero Academia. You can tell that they go Plus Ultra on animating this series because of all the detail that goes into bringing the characters to life. From the camera movements to the jaw dropping character animation. Don’t even get me started on that panning shot during Izuku and Muscular’s fight. Because that shot is like borderline impossible to nail completely and Bones just hit it out of the park. The Izuku vs Bakugou fight was also next level and really went all out on that fight with the animation.
Oki:Absolutely, the animation in season 3 was exactly why I put it in the top of my list. There’s nothing better than shounen anime that can live up to the stellar and heartfelt message of its manga. While the animators thinned up several female characters and made them a little lacking, once again their action animation leaves me breathless. A generation of animators has been born because of the work on Season 3, and I can’t make any better argument than simply watching the amazing thing that was created this season.
Hakumei to Mikochi
Hakumei and Mikochi
Nikolita: This title used a really neat style of animation, IMHO. Mixed in with the regular animation were black and white stills and flashbacks, plus some limited CGI…. and everything blended together really well. Seriously. For a show about tiny people living in nature alongside talking animals, this show is really pretty. The characters look like they were drawn almost what I’d describe as a chibi style, but because they’re meant to be tiny humans they don’t look out of place or misshapen. And there are so many beautiful scenic shots too ~ /happy sigh
Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara
Iroduku: The World in Colors
Shadow: Holy crap was this series GORGEOUS. All of the effects were just so mesmerizing and just the transition from black and white to color was always so great to watch. Not to mention they always tailor the color palette to the mood and atmosphere of the scene. If you can take away just one thing from this anime, is that it’s beautiful. PA Works did a FANTASTIC job animating the special effects making the overall experience so much more spectacular.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni
After the Rain/Love is Like After the Rain
Berry: Wit Studio is known for making stellar-looking shows, but it was really different with After the Rain. Instead of their crazy sakuga with their more action-packed shows, they took a much more subtle approach but with the same stunning quality. Fitting its calm and romantic atmosphere, the show was always clean with bright vivid colors and what I really enjoyed was that they used certain visual effects to match the mood of the scene, adding a layer of depth to it (sparkles, bubbles, etc). Even the backgrounds themselves were a treat to stare at. Even something like the rain was gorgeous, and looking at the title of the show there’s plenty of rain to gawk at.
Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3
Attack on Titan Season 3
Shadow: It’s Attack on Titan, how can the animation NOT be good? Wit Studio is at it again with another strong season in the character animation department. Especially with the chase scene between Levi and Kenny. I actually got goosebumps watching it and immediately replayed it several times after I saw it. Even in smaller scenes, there is a noticeable amount of care that goes into the animation with a sense of detail that isn’t completely necessary but it makes it even better. And I think everyone just loves watching the characters zip around in the maneuver gear.
Ruru: I think this season of Attack on Titan is a testament to the power of good animation. The show had some problems for sure (which is not to say I didn’t have fun with it – still salty about that random hiatus also), but as long as they don’t phone it in on the animation, it will remain an enjoyable watch. It’s dynamic, it’s fluid, it’s detailed – everything is there, and that’s so important for such an action-packed show.
Fuzzy: Wit Studio has always blown it away with their Attack on Titan adaptation, never failing to stun the community with mind boggling animation sequences. If there was ever an anime to benefit from great animation, it is Attack on Titan, with its numerous chase sequences, titan on titan combat, and of course the 3D Maneuver Gear. The 3DMG alone gives the animators so much freedom to go absolutely nuts with their whims, and it clearly shows. The Levi and Kenny chase scene as Shadow mentioned is one of my favorite pieces of animated work ever, and I will never fail to bring it up should a conversation steer into animation discussion.
Favourite Opening Theme
Ace Attorney Season 2: “Never Lose” by Tomohisa Yamashita
Ruru: This season’s Ace Attorney is almost as mediocre as its predecessor (though the anime-original cases are definitely worth watching for any fan of the franchise), but I am loving the OP. It took a little while to grow on me, but after a few listens I think it’s my favourite of the year. I almost feel like you could play it in a club and it wouldn’t feel too out of place (disclaimer: I haven’t been in a club in about 4 years and I hated it even then, so I could be horribly wrong) It’s awkward (so much autotune omg) and out of place for the feel of the show, but that sort of adds to the charm for me. Plus it surely must be the first anime OP/ED to contain the phrase “fake news”, and I think that has to count for something.
Banana Fish OP 1: “Found&Lost” – Survive said the profit
Midnight: I had to basically flip a coin between this and Ababana Necromancy from Zombieland Saga, but ultimately, while they are both great openings I had to settle on the one that was stuck in my head for days after it played behind the climactic fight of the series. The song is amazing, it really gets your blood pumping and the visuals are fantastic. The action and subtle bits of foreshadowing sprinkled throughout the opening makes it a joy to listen to and watch. While it’s not as fun as Ababana, it fits the show and it’s very catchy and that’s what put it over the top as my favorite opening of the year.
Happy Sugar Life: “One Room Sugar Life”, by Akari Nanawo
Berry: This opening is one of my favorites because of how well it captures the feel of the show. The singer’s voice is bubbly cute but the instrumentation is erratic, the visuals are sweet but eventually get distorted, and the lyrics of the song follow with this distortion and touch on Satou’s twisted perception of love. The art direction is my favorite part though, with the mix of the regular art style, the childish chibi of Shio as an angel, and those 3D hands that look out of place but adds to the creepiness, especially when they hold Shio like a doll. It all comes together so well and ended up being very memorable for me.
Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara: “17 Sai“,
Shadow: I absolutely ADORED this opening to bits. Not only did I love the song, but the opening sequence that accompanied it was just AMAZING to watch. This had to be one of the only openings where I could bring myself to skip (though I did end up skipping it later in the season because I was too curious about what the episode held). PA Works did an amazing job on the visuals with the amount of fading from black and white to color and just the overall tone.
Nil Admirari no Tenbin: “Tandeki Mirage-ism”, by kradness
Eva: I went through all the OPs of the series I watched this season, and this one is the one that raises eyebrows, mainly because the song is so fun and upbeat, which couldn’t be a bigger mismatch with the show itself. In fact the mood difference is so jarring, I was stunned they even included it in the first episode (and frankly, they really shouldn’t have). But as each week went by, I quickly found myself sitting through it to watch it because the song is so addicting to listen to. It’s a fun bop that makes you quickly forget just how dark this series actually is.
Favourite Ending Theme
Banana Fish: “Prayer X” by King Gnu
Berry: It was honestly really hard choosing between the first or second ending from Banana Fish because they’re both so good, but Prayer X ultimately is my favorite. It probably has to do with the genre of music. The ending theme perfectly captures the loneliness, sadness, and pain of Ash both in the lyrics and in the visuals. His walking alone, him submerging in water, and him curled up like a child reminds you that he is a child but he’s going through pain every day. It’s really melancholic and powerful, and it’s perfect. Also, the way the show would end an episode by playing the beginning of the song in the last seconds was perfection and made it even better.
Banana Fish: “Red” by Survive said the Profit
Midnight: It was a tough choice between this and backing Berry for the first ending, there is something about this song that resonates with me though. As I listen to it, I feel a profound sadness. Perhaps it’s the heavy emotions and feelings I associate with the second half of Banana Fish. The way the song would often play over heavy scenes as the ending of the episodes played out. Honestly, I think the most wonderful thing about this song is the way it’s sung in near perfect English. It’s a generally good song and always worth a listen.
Captain Tsubasa (2018): “Moete Hero” by Yuko Sanpei
Ruru: I feel like this is sort of cheating because the actual song is from the 1980s, but it’s one of the most iconic anime songs of all time and this updated version completely does it justice. Something about this song just gets you pumped about watching boys kick balls around for 20-odd minutes, which is maybe more ideal for an OP than an ED, but I’m just glad they kept it in the adaptation at all. I know the lyrics by heart and I can’t help but sing along practically every time I hear it. I love both 2018 renditions, but I went with the first ED rather than the second ED (they’re the same song, just remixes) because it’s a little bit truer to the original OP song and it makes me happy.
Kaze ga Tsuyoku: “Reset” by Taichi Mukai
Shadow: MAN I LOVE THIS ENDING. Just like my favorite opening of the series, I will always let this ending play whenever I reach the end of the episode. I love the very soft almost sleep inducing intro before it picks up, almost as if telling the listener to keep striving towards their goals. Very reminiscent of what this anime is all about.
Violet Evergarden: “Michishirube” by Minori Chihara
Eva: Man this was a tough choice for me! I was torn between Kaze ga Tsuyoku’s Reset and Violet Evergarden, but luckily since Shadow mentioned it, I decided to nominate one of Violet Evergarden’s ED. This song really pulled all my heartstrings more times than I can count, always during the most heart-wrenching scenes.
Best Original Soundtrack
Kaze ga Tsuyoku
Composer: Yuki Hayashi
Eva: There were some amazing Original Soundtracks this year, but Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru’s music is something that is always playing in the back of my mind, (and I mean, litterally). Simply put, it’s gorgeous and has an excellent combination of playful, relaxing, dramatic and uplifting pieces, all overflowing with emotions. But most of all, it beautifully capture the spirit of the series, conveying the efforts of the boys’ the blood, sweat and tears to train hard to silence the naysays who claim only the chosen ones can run. The way it touches the heart is what always has me coming back for more, making it one of my favourite soundtracks I have listened to this year.
Shadow: This is probably the only soundtrack from this year I will sit down and listen to on repeat. Though honestly, Yuki Hayashi’s soundtracks are always on point, such as with My Hero Academia, Haikyuu and Kiznaiver. All of his tracks have a very distinct sound and emotion to them and boy does he nail the emotion. There were a couple tracks from this soundtrack that hit me right in the feels by just listening to the music that reflects the boys’ struggles, genuine emotions and will to keep pushing through. Not all music can do that and for that reason I can only praise Yuki Hayashi for yet another awesome soundtrack.
Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight
Composer: Yoshiaki Hujisawa
Berry: My favorite part about Revue Starlight was its OST. Because this show is a musical and is about theater, it’s expected for the music to be one of its strong suit and it delivered. It did well accompanying the typical slice of life moments, but really brought out its strength in the more serious scenes, and of course the Revues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the insert songs but hearing them while following the lyrics made me love the show even more. Each song perfectly captures the emotions of each girl and adds even more to their character than what I thought, since some episodes didn’t translate the songs. It shakes me up how perfect they all are. My personal favorites are “The Star Knows” and “Hokori to Ogori (Pride and Arrogance)”. Of course, the seiyuus deserve praise for their fantastic performances as well. And don’t even get me started on the different versions of the ending theme.
Boku no Hero Academia s3
Composer: Yuki Hayashi
Midnight: All for One’s theme, that’s honestly all I have to say. A villain theme among villain themes, a piece of music that stands as one of my top two villain themes in all of anime. Of course, this is My Hero. That’s not the only great track among the season 2 soundtrack. “Combat Licence.” is a wonderful bit of music, of course these are just additions to an already strong list of musical pieces. Everything always matches well with the scenes. Of course, I can’t talk about My Hero Academia’s soundtrack without mentioning it’s opening and ending themes as well. “ODD FUTURE by UVERworld” might be one of my favorite openings since “The Day” back in season 1. Overall it’s a strong soundtrack for a strong anime.
WRITERS’ RECOMMENDATIONS OF 2019
Berry: With a story about gangs and drugs, you can expect this show to have lots of action. Banana Fish became one of my favorite shows of the year for many reasons whether it was because of the music that perfectly captured its urban setting, the interesting plot about what Banana Fish was, the really cool action scenes, or the strong relationship between Ash and Eiji. I liked the themes it touched on as well, and it wasn’t shy to talk about these things but it was done tastefully and realistically. The world of organized crime and corrupt politics is an ugly and brutal world and the show didn’t pull any punches showing that to us and how it can greatly affect people. The show had a really cool style to it and the characters were so interesting that I was engrossed in all of it, leaving me with an empty feeling when the show came to an end.
Midnight: Banana Fish is an interesting series in that I can see why it wouldn’t be for everyone. A lot of the themes are heavy and could be highly triggering to people, which is why I can’t recommend it for everyone but if you can stomach the heavy themes in the show it is most definitely worth a watch. There is a perfect balance between episodes packed full of action and episodes of down time to let you cool off and get to know the characters and the situation better. A great story with engaging characters, it most definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite anime of 2018 in general.
Boku no Hero Academia
My Hero Academia
Oki: Really, I hate to sound like a broken record here. While I’ve only fully watched about seven of the new anime in 2018 in full, I’ve watched almost every shows the first episode and found myself underwhelmed. But My Hero Academia pulled me into its action and filled me with a literal sense of adventure. I watched several other action shows but none really came as close as the breathtaking and heartwarming Hero Academia to capturing the essence of what it is to me to be an anime fan.
Shadow: You wanna talk about action? My Hero Academia is the anime that surely sports some of the best moments of action. While the fights themselves may be simple in certain aspects, but the fact that so much emotion and relevancy is put into those fights make them that much more memorable and important. Every fight isn’t just one character punching each other until one is knocked out, but it’s also a battle of ideals and which ideal will shine through at the end. There’s just something about how the story is told that My Hero Academia is just able to capture the hearts of many.
Nanatsu no Taizai: Imashime no Fukkatsu
The Seven Deadly Sins: Revival of the Commandments
Shadow: A story that involves a kingdom under siege by demons and can only be stopped by a band of misfits that go by the title of the Seven Deadly Sins? Count me in! As a fantasy adventure fan, I found this world of magic, fairies, giants, demons and a whole lot of action a great treat. It was the type of story I had been looking for. I love most of the characters and all of them bring something interesting to the table. While I do believe the first season was a better thrill, the second is still a strong season with a lot of twists and turns. And while the animation definitely dips at times, it really goes above and beyond during certain certain scenes. Especially the fight between Meliodas and the Ten Commandments.
Asobi Asobase: Workshop of Fun
Berry: This is a show that took me completely by surprise. On a surface level, it looked like a typical “cute girls doing cute things” show with a sweet OP, along with its soft art style and color palette. What followed in the first minute was a slap to the face, literally. It was cute girls playing games, but these girls have the shittiest personalities. With vulgar language, grotesque and exaggerated expressions, and obscene humor, Asobi Asobase ended up being one of my favorite comedies of all time and my favorite of 2018. It had me dying of laughter from beginning to end with its weird situations and I’m glad I gave it a chance. You really can’t judge a book by its cover or else you can miss a gem like this one.
Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama
As Miss Beelzebub Likes.
Eva: Adapted from the 4-koma manga, Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama is the literal definition of fluffy hell. This light-hearted romantic comedy is entirely driven by the incredibly power of fluff, one that not even the demons themselves fully embrace. And that is very much where a lot of the humour stems from. We have their reputable demons who are actually cinnamonrolls who too pure for this world, especially Mullin and Azazel. If you’re looking for something simple, cute and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, the pastel world of Beelzebub-jou no Okinimesu mama is the one for you!
Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
Shadow: I had a sneaking suspicion this would be good and boy was I right. Despite the really Americanized artwork, this anime has a lot of charm to it. Most of the comedy comes from Honda-san’s reactions to over the top customers ranging from a yaoi fangirl screaming over the fact she found the book she had been looking for to having a conversation over the phone about what was in a shounen magazine that could have been borderline hentai. All the characters are hilariously adorable in what they have to put up with in their line of work and lots of fun cameos of different manga titles. A short easy series to watch if you want something funny and simple!
Ruru: I second this one! Between this and Aggressive Retsuko, it’s been a solid year for workplace anime. Personally, I didn’t mind the art at all – I wouldn’t have loved it for a full-length series, but for a short I think it’s perfect and really captures the spirit of the whole thing. I also thought it was really interesting (and sometimes mildly painful) to get a Japanese person’s perspective on western weebs in Japan; with that and the lore dropped on bookselling in general, it’s probably the show I learned the most from this year! I don’t think I’m the only person who wants to quit their job and work in a bookshop after seeing this.
Oki: If this anime had not been a short, I might have been full time for awhile in this season. I loved Honda-san and have only seen half of it, but that is enough to know just how crazy I feel about it. Gosh, if comedy always caught my attention the way that Honda-san did I would be able to watch more of it. I think the genre that Honda-san embodies, the ‘abnormal looking but actually average worker’ genre is really fun for me. Part of why the shows can make us so interested has to deal with the fact that a skeleton is freaking out over explaining yaoi. Some things are too pure for this world.
Midnight: I knew from basically the first episode that this would become my new favorite comedy anime. The moment the truck hit Sakura in the first episode I was in stitches and it only got better from there as the other girls regained their personalities. It was nothing like what I expected from the promotional materials and that’s part of what made it brilliant. The writing, the voice acting [from Mamoru in particular] and all of the gags were constantly on point. There was a small hiccup in my enjoyment near the end, but ultimately it came back quickly as I knew it could and cemented itself as not just one of my favorite shows from 2018 but one of my favorite comedy anime of all time.
Eva: Zombieland Saga was able to successfully dupe all of us into setting it up to look like it another zombie show, but instead they delivered with the best twist of all catching pretty much everyone by surprise. I remember when we all started watching it, we really didn’t want to spoil each other the element of surprise, so writers like myself and Shadow who hate zombies, horror and gore, we were given the signal that it was safe to watch without actually spoiling what was going to happen. And sure enough, there was no way to prepare myself. I laughed so hard, I couldn’t breathe, and that was very much the tradition there on forth. It has been a long time since I’ve watched a comedy that made me laugh that hard, so Zombieland Saga was a real treat I recommend everyone to watch!
Shadow: I wasn’t even planning on watching this at first because I’m a baby when it comes to horror. But after some coercing, I gave it a shot and I am SO GLAD that I did because this anime had to be one of my absolute favorites this year. I became so invested in the characters and their backstories and how it tied into their current lives as zombies. The songs were solid and just seeing the girls overcome their past tragedies and move forward as zombies was a hilarious and heart-warming spectacle to behold. While I didn’t really enjoy the last arc all that much, it was still a strong series that I can’t recommend enough.
Fuzzy: Zombieland Saga was hilarious, from the shenanigans of the Legendary Tae Yamada to the endless screaming of Tatsumi, it came together to be an incredibly wholesome and entertaining package. Each of the zombie idols came together for the show’s funniest moments, Saki’s biker glare, Sakura’s floating head, Yamada gnawing on Junko, the fiasco at the athletic competition. All of these moments made the show impossible to watch without a smile on your face, and solidifies Zombieland Saga as one of my favorite comedies this year.
Cells at Work!
Berry: By far one of the most creative shows of this year was Cells at Work. My god I loved this show a lot. It was so fun seeing how they represented the human body as if it were a normal human society with delivery workers, rockets to make the body sneeze, and the different personifications of the many cells that make up our body. Platelets being tiny adorable kids? That killed the internet. The show could be really educational but made it really fun and engaging, and most of all really funny. I found myself laughing at the white blood cells killing a bacteria senseless all covered in blood, Red Blood Cell getting lost and getting herself caught in something insane, and all the other wacky hijinks that happened. Great show with a great concept.
Pandora: I loved Cells at Work. I watched it twice because my friend wanted to watch it. I laughed and it was surprisingly accurate in medical manner( coming straight from anatomy one and a nursing major). They really made the cells human and esp very cute. I loved Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell’s relationship. It was so cute and I loved it. They helped each other out and they were always worried for one another.
Chio’s School Road
Pandora:What a gem. I literally laughed my brains out, it’s comedy gold, but definitely more of a situational comedy. She always ends up in so many situations when she tries to avoids something, and she always tries to use her videogame knowledge and it always works. Some of the episode surprised me. I was suing my friend’s smart TV and I decided to watch this show because it’s funny. Mistake.I was laughing, but they had so many sexual jokes like buying a BL magazine and Kabadi jokes with lesbians. My friends roommate would walk in at all the bad parts, so bad( I’m laughing so hard right now)
Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara
Iroduku: The World in Colors
Shadow: I loved this show from beginning to end. While it may be too slow for some people, I honestly enjoyed the pacing and just seeing the characters flourish and develop. Each episode had something that would hook my interest and desperately want to know what will happen. Just watching Hitomi bond with both friends and family was really touching. The group dynamic was a fun one and I enjoyed just seeing them grow in their relationships with one another and bounce off of each other where I couldn’t hep but get invested. I can’t commend PA Works enough for all the heart and beauty they put into this series.
Berry: Irozuku is a beautiful show both visually and story wise. I loved the concept of a girl going to the past to bring back color to her life. While bittersweet, it was a really uplifting story that brought a smile to my face in the end. It tells how strong the support of family and friends are, and most importantly the love from them as well in order to have a “colorful” life. It was fun watching Hitomi learn this as she hung out with her friends and made wonderful memories that made her grow. The dynamic of Hitomi and her friends were great and the romance was also a nice touch that had me invested as well. To top it off, PA Works did a great job animation-wise with the colors of their world, and the drawings.
B: The Beginning
Nikolita: I had originally watched B: The Beginning on my own before I took over the back third of it for Berry in the Summer 2018 season. During my first watch I really enjoyed B: The Beginning, marathoning it over the course of 2-3 days. When I re-watched it to blog about it, I found some flaws in its presentation which dampened some of my initial enthusiasm for the show. However overall I still feel like this is a solid show, with great voice acting, awesome animation and at least one engaging plotline. If you can multi-task and pay attention to multiple storylines at the same time, I recommend giving B: The Beginning a watch.
Nikolita: How does one describe FLCL? Comedy? Drama? I went with fantasy first and foremost because like its predecessor, FLCL Progressive is anime on acid. Aliens who can transform into cars, people who sprout objects from their heads, and a pair of cat ear headphones which anchors itself to its host’s head by drilling through the skull. Yep, sounds like FLCL. I still prefer the original series over FLCL Progressive, but for an anime which has a fifteen+ year gap between its first and second seasons, I think that Production I.G did a pretty good job trying to capture the spirit of FLCL with FLCL Progressive. If you like weird anime that don’t make much sense, FLCL Progressive might be worth a look.
Seishun Buta Yarou
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Eva: It’s a shame I couldn’t cover it beyond episode 3, but man this has to be one of my favourite titles of the year. Cleverly written, engaging characters with great chemistry, Seishun Buta was definitely one of the strongest titles to come out of the Fall 2018 season. When I first watched it, Sakuta personality was a bit loss to me, but he quickly grew on me. His witty sarcasm and being a genuinely good person that has a no shit policy greatly entertained me. The creative use of the Quantum Theories. Adolescent Phenomena led to ‘The Cat in the Box’, ‘Laplace Demon’, and various others mysterious situations that always left you hungry for more!
Berry: This was a show I didn’t expect to like. What I thought would be a shallow harem show ended up being a fantastic and interesting drama touching on many subjects. Puberty Syndrome was pretty fascinating and the different ways it could manifest was interesting. Each arc had its own obstacle and it was a joy watching Sakuta and the other characters get to the bottom of it. The chemistry among the characters was one of the best things, and I like some of the subjects they dealt with (bullying, family bonds, self love) but what made it better was the dialogue being really natural and smooth. The show is a lot more fascinating and mature than it looks and ended up being a really great watch.
Shadow: This show was a RIOT. Another show I didn’t expect to like as much as I did. Who knew that powerful, terminator-like, psychic little girls would be not only hilariously adorable to watch but also hit you right in the feels at times. Not to mention the yakuza were also involved. And I must say, these had to be the nicest yakuza thugs I’ve ever seen in anime. The way the characters bounced of each other was so fun to watch, especially when they just couldn’t take each other’s crap anymore. Comedy was on point and I think this show just loves making the characters suffer for hilarity’s sake at times. But at the end of the day, it was always in good fun. Well maybe not for Mishima…
Fuzzy: Hinamatsuri was quite the special show, something that hooked my interest with its deadpan and slapstick humor. Bottom line, the show was absolutely hilarious, there wasn’t a single episode where I felt disappointed, and the skits were always top notch. But perhaps what made Hinamatsuri special was when it drifted away from the comedy, and into something a bit deeper. Particularly, Anzu’s interactions with the homeless in the show were both moving and heartbreaking to watch. The telekinetic battles between hardened warriors were also endlessly entertaining, and surprisingly well animated. Definitely a great recommendation for supernatural comedies!
Slice of Life
Miira no Kaikata
How to Keep a Mummy
Shadow: I didn’t know what to expect coming into this series but I’m so glad I watched it. This series is just BEYOND ADORABLE and I just couldn’t help but smile in every episode. It’s honestly like watching cute pets interacting with one another and this show just feels like a pallet cleanser. There are a lot of interesting side plots that happen as well (not to mention the last few episodes just go from 0 to 100 suddenly) and some intriguing world building. But if you just want to relax after a hard day, this anime is just for you!
Eva: Oh my god, this has to be the purest and most adorable show of the entire year. If you need something fluffy, lovable, adorable and something to brighten up your day, look no further than Miira no Kaikata! Dive into the world of charming characters and their otherworldly companions that will melt your heart!
Ruru: I actually sort of forgot I watched it until I saw it mentioned, but oh my gosh what a sweet show this was. I was just expecting a nice show about a tiny mummy which was enough to have me sold, but the fact that it segued into a “cute mythical creatures doing cute things” anime was even better. Definitely a stress reliever!
Oki: I, Oki, was able to sit through an entire Slice of Life show this year. I cannot explain how rare a feat this is- slice of life normally makes me yawn my eyeballs out. But this mummy show is genuinely so pure and heartwarming. There is nothing in this show that frustrates me, all of it makes me laugh and smile. Every now and then people just need an anime that’s this fuzzy feeling.
Berry: Babies are cute and so is this show. It’s a really simple and fun show about toddlers being toddlers and people taking care of them. It was a good dose of cute and wholesome each week watching these kids go to the zoo, go to festivals, being good for Santa, and fighting over superheroes and witches being real. And of course plenty of crying and snot. While the show could be cute and fun, there were also some genuinely emotional moments with our main pair. The show touched on what family can be, and while it can be a little broken or different than what people expect, as long as you have people around you that you care about, they can be your family too.
Shadow: Holy sheesh this anime was cute. But not only was it cute, it felt like it definitely had a lot of heart. Especially in the first episode where I couldn’t help but tear up because of the amount of relateability. And while the kids could be a bit too bratty at times, at the end of the day, it was still an adorable and fun watch. Especially when it would focus on the bonds between family and friends. And being a sentimental sap when it comes to those two topics, my heart was stolen by this show.
Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san
My Neighbor is a Vampire
Berry: I didn’t know if I would end up liking this show but dammit I did. I’ve mentioned that I’m not a big fan of CGDCT shows but this one was a really fun and cute watch. There were typical episodes like culture festivals, Christmas, and going to the beach but what I liked about the show was the vampire twist to it. The struggle of wanting to go buy anime merch but not wanting to get burned by the sun, not knowing how to cook human food because all vampires eat is blood, or the fact that said vampire is scared by ghosts. Watching a vampire’s daily life in the modern world was hilarious and really fun so that was enough to keep me tuned in. Also, the endearing characters and artstyle was a big plus.
Captain Tsubasa (2018)
Ruru: Okay, so it’s no Kaze ga, but I have been having a great time with the latest incarnation of Captain Tsubasa! If you’re looking for a serious sports anime, it’s not for you, but David have put together a solid, tongue-in-cheek show that is probably the best non-manga introduction to the franchise to date. The animation isn’t going to be winning any awards and there are a few “budget saver” episodes (which to be fair is almost unavoidable with a 52-episode run), but the visual direction is perfectly over-the-top and flashy, exactly what the extremely silly story needs. It’s well worth a go! Just don’t expect much in the way of suspense, because Tsubasa is not generally in the business of losing.
Free! Dive to the Future (Season 3)
(Free! Starting Days is something you must watch before starting this season!)
Eva: It goes without saying this season had a bit of a shaky start, and started to stall out in the middle due to the prolonged Ikuya-Drama. It was around that time I started losing interest in watching the show, but luckily, I stuck with it, because once that was done, the fierce competition to the global stage finally begun, and that’s when the series finally found its stride again. This season revolved around the boys (who are now in university) figuring out what they aspire to do as they embark on the next stage of their lives. Best of all, we were given quite a fitting end to make us very excited for what will be in store for Season 4 in 2020, which will be just on time for the Sumer Olympics in Tokyo. So compared to how last season ended, I am excited to see how things will play out in the next season, especially when we have some fearsome competitors like Albert and Kaede in the mix!
Shadow: I was honestly surprised by how much I liked this series. Especially how I wasn’t really feeling the first episode. However, something just kept me interested and wanting to know what would happen. This series was praised by how it was essentially a love letter to the tokusatsu and original Gridman series. The clunky CG of the monsters and Gridman were very reminiscent of the people in the monster outfits in live action. Lots of twists and turns through out this series and even if you’re not familiar with the tokusatsu series (like me), you’ll still find this series a fun one to watch~
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
Berry: I can’t tell you how much I hate Sword Art Online, so what a surprise that this show was good and that I even gave it a chance. Maybe not a huge surprise because this story was written by another author. Namely, the author of Kino’s Journey. Because of that I gave this show a chance and I ended up liking it. It’s not perfect, the plot got a little weird but the show was pretty fun to watch because of its presentation. The actual game of Gun Gale Online looked really awesome and I love that it felt like a game, whereas the original SAO just felt like any other fantasy setting. It was cool checking out the game mechanics, the Battle Royale, and the strategies the players used. But another thing I loved was Karen/LLENN. Her complex with her height was relateable and was something I could understand even though my problem is that I’m shorter than the average woman. I liked her calm demeanor as Karen, and the intense crazy one in-game as LLENN. Like I said, there were some hiccups in the show but it was still an enjoyable and surprising watch.
Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight
Berry: For me, this is probably the biggest hidden gem, sleeper hit of the year. Most people were turned off by Revue Starlight simply because it gave the vibes of a Love Live-esque show. And how completely wrong they were. With its gorgeous presentation, the show dabbles with a bit of surrealism and symbolism to showcase the harsh nature of competition as well as the dreams and wishes of these girls, and what they believe is right even if it comes with some self-sacrifice. Each girl has her own aspiration but they all share one common thing. When you think the plot of the show is going one way, it brings a twist that adds another layer of depth to it and changes everything, leaving me with my jaw dropped. This show amazed me from start to finish and this is definitely something I would recommend everyone to watch.
Happy Sugar Life
Berry: As controversial as this show was, it was one hell of a ride. As exaggerated and sometimes stupid it could be, I think Happy Sugar Life did really well as a horror title. The synopsis is enough to make anyone uncomfortable, but the actual content goes even further. There were moments where I had chills and was horrified, upset, and disgusted enough where I actually wanted to vomit. It did pretty well handling the cycle of abuse (physical, mental, sexual) and how it affected its characters to lead them to their unsettling actions and twisted perceptions of love. The further the show goes with you getting to know the characters, you start to wonder who really is the “good guy”. The show had its ups and downs but it made me squirm in my seat. And for a horror show, that’s a good thing.
Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes
Holmes of Kyoto
Eva: Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes is among some of the few shows I was pleasantly surprised about. In fact it charmed me so much, despite only getting around to watch and decide to cover it 3 weeks after it premiered. It was truly a fascinating experience of learning about all sorts of unique antiques and their backgrounds, as well how to identify what makes the genuine articles, or forgery. While it may sound boring, it’s actually quite fun to watch! But what made me become invested in this show weren’t the mysteries, but rather the two main leads Aoi and Kiyotaka (Holmes). It was the depth of their characters, and the chemistry between them was how I came to adore this show in the first place. I especially enjoyed Aoi’s growth, and the way she handled her feelings towards Kiyotaka. But when it comes down to the mysteries, I have to be real here, it is actually the the show’s greatest weakness. I get this is supposed to be light-hearted, but still it was a bit of a hit and miss, mainly because many of them would were either boring, or just painfully predictable, or a combination of both, (with the exception of one case that was really well done and was epic to watch! It’s a bit of a shame we didn’t get cases like that). So if you’re looking for mystery with a lot of drama, unfortunately you are not going to find it here. But if you’re willing to overlook the (for most part) uneventful mysteries, and want to watch something short and sweet with a tease of romance, Kyoto Holmes is definitely worth a shot!
Mahou Shoujo Site
Magical Girl Site
Midnight: Magical Girl Site was downright uncomfortable to watch at times, which as Berry said is good for a horror anime. It took the concept of the ‘Dark’ Magical Girl series and pushed every boundary it could think of. From severe emotional, physical and mental abuse for most of the main cast. The pending doom of the world, and Aya’s brother…just Aya’s brother. This in and of itself wasn’t enough to make it stand out though, what made it stand out to me was the performance of Ryusei Nakao as Nana. Any scene that Nana was in just made my skin crawl and his rendition of the opening in her voice was enough to make me want to throw myself under the covers. Ryusei has always been a brilliant Seiyuu for characters that are supposed to make your skin crawl and Nana was no exception. It’s an intense watch, the ending of the anime is a little weak but that doesn’t dampen the horror of the rest of the show.
Tokyo Ghoul Season 3
Pandora: This show had me dying from the get go. I don’t take horror too well and this was my palette cleansing show. All the killing made me uncomfortable, but the thing that made me uncomfortable is the CCG( anti-ghoul organization). The ghouls killing people made me uncomfortable, but the CCG finding innocent ghouls who are not exactly killing humans made me hella uncomfortable. The CCG is terrible organization as its whole or maybe the people in it are cancerous. That second picture, the guy is extremely cancerous and his servant is just as terrible as he is. They torchure ghouls awfully and treat them all like they don’t have emotions.
Oki: This season is just as devilish as I could hope for it to be. Because of personal issues, it’s been hard to get through just because of how brutal and grotesque the show can be, but it wins this category for exactly that reason.
ReLIFE: Final Arc
Berry: I feel like this might be cheating because only it was only four episodes, and most of the development was done in the first season, but the relationship between Kaizaki and Hishiro is so good. While the first season focused on Kaizaki’s development and friendships, this short sequel focused completely on Kaizaki and Hishiro’s relationship. I always loved their moments together in the first season and maybe hoped for a happy ending for them. ReLIFE is a fun show because it was great watching Kaizaki grow and appreciate life more, as well as watching Hishiro grow into a happier person as well and no doubt it was Kaizaki that helped her. They have a great relationship and it was fun finally watching this relationship blossom into something more, even though I had to sit through emotional partings. I do wish this could have been more than four episodes but I was still really happy with the finale. The romance between Kaizaki and Hishiro was great, but ReLIFE touched on great themes as well and I’d recommend this show to everyone.
Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet
Boarding School Juliet
Berry: There’s already a Romeo and Juliet anime, but I like that Boarding School Juliet took a more fun and happier approach. It was clever to take the same formula and integrate that into a school setting with two opposing school houses. The romance happens the same as well with a secret love between the main pair, Romio Izuzuka and Juliet Persia. They both share a really adorable romance and Inuzuka had to be the most endearing guy of the year. He’s kind of an idiot, but he’s an idiot that has a lot of love for Persia and will do anything for her so there were lots of hijinks on his part. It was fun watching their escapades and how they would do regular couple things in secret. While there’s a cute romance, the show is also hilarious with its zany characters and fights between the two houses, that there’s actually some nicely animated fights too. Instead of a dramatic and depressing story that the original Romeo and Juliet is, you’ll get a good laugh out of it along with fun characters and a cute romance.
Shadow: MAN DID I LOVE THIS SHOW. I just really appreciate romance anime that start with the couple getting together early on (in this case the first episode). It leaves you with no questions of “will they or won’t they” and instead focuses on the problems that arise from being in a relationship and that they’ll need to trust and depend on each other to get through it. The romance between Inuzuka and Persia is really adorable and I just love seeing how the two bounce off each other with Inuzuka being a dorky, pure-hearted idiot who gets so emotional over the smallest things and Persia taking everything in stride but still supporting him through thick and thin.
Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
Shadow: I was already into the manga so of course I was going to be head over heals for the anime. All of the otaku related comedy and cameos were amazing and just watching all of the couples deal with their equally nerdy significant others was hilarious. It was also a breath of fresh air to have almost all the couples established at the getgo. While some of the dynamics were… questionable at first, by the end, you can definitely tell the strong chemistry between the characters and just how strongly they care about one another. I also really appreciated how the anime actually added some original scenes that actually helped to add to the relationships of the characters. Though I had wished best girl Kou was introduced earlier, it was still an overall hilarious romantic comedy that is sure to get a smile out of you!
Oki: Wotakoi won the romance category this year for the simple reason that I can relate to how everyone in the story feels. There are genuine feelings of angst, understandable dilemmas, and heartfelt moments where we can watch the love between two people grow. As a nerd in love myself, I can’t do anything but appreciate the sweet love story that Wotakoi tells.
Nil Admirari no Tenbin
The Scales of Nil Admirari ~The Mysterious Story of Teito~
Eva: People are quick to judge Otome Games adaptions and assume the worst, but Nil Admirari no Tenbin joins one of the few that I feel was done pretty well. It was one of the rare adaptions of an otome game where I found myself more engrossed in its story than the potential romance. Better yet, this adaption is plot driven, meaning they don’t waste any time on fanservice in this series, instead they focused on the characters and their stories, which is great because too many adaptions never go further than scratching the surface! Sure this adaption is not perfect, nor will it be the most memorable show you ever watch, but at the end of the day, it was something I enjoyed and I think it should be given a fair shot. Obviously, it goes without saying this isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy reverse harems, and are interested in a darker and more fulfilling story, led by a heroine who isn’t a doormat, this is definitely one of the few adaptions of an otome game that can be fun to watch.
Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion
Berry: While the anime had some issues, Angolmois was still a pretty cool watch. Historical anime always tend to talk about the Edo period, always talking about Nobunaga and such. But Angolmois caught my attention from the start because it was a story about the Mongol invasion of Japan, something that I’m not well versed in. The first few episodes were great but I do admit that the show suffered in the middle, as well animation-wise. But it started to pick itself up in the later half and got interesting to watch again. I liked seeing the military strategies between the Japanese and Mongols and the difference in strength between them as well. And as expected of a war show, it can get brutal. The show was a little bumpy but I think it’s still worth a watch, especially if you’re really into this kind of stuff.
Eva: It’s a shame I wasn’t able to watch as many titles outside of the shows I covered as usually do due to my schedule, but based on the ones I’ve seen and the ones I intend to get around to, it was a pretty solid year for anime, especially for Josei titles. Accompany the rise of various Josei series, I have also noticed many shows featuring or teasing romance consisted incredibly stable relationships. Shows like Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi, Wotakoi, Seishun Buta Yarou, Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes, to name a few, all featured couples who shared the traits of maturity, actively communicating with one another, having great conversations, and were rarely swept up in dramas of jealousies, misunderstandings and love triangles. I mean it’s not “revolutionary”, but tell me when was the last time we have had this many quality relationships in one year? Aside from 2018 fulfilling my hunger for a great romance, I really feel like this year of anime reminded me a lot of how I came to love it. It has been a long time since a show made me laugh as hard as Zombieland Saga did, or cry has much as I did for Violet Evergarden (when I binged-watched it: I cried for almost 6 hours straight, and was drowning in tears during Episodes 7, 10, 11), feel so passionately about a series like Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi (which can be seen by the sheer amount of words I wrote about it each week), along with shows raising the bar for series in its genre like Idolish7! So in all, it was a pretty fantastic year, and there’s a lot to be excited for coming in 2019!
Midnight: At the end of the year I realize that I didn’t watch as many anime as I should of. I feel like I missed out on a lot of titles, in the last day of 2018 I picked up “That time I got reincarnated as a slime“, I could sit here and lament about what I didn’t watch but let’s focus on what I did. Attack on Titan and Hero Academia are constant points of fun for me when the new seasons roll around and I can’t wait for season 3 part 2 for AoT and Season 4 for Hero in 2019. The blowout title of the year for me though was Zombieland Saga, I never imagined that I would adore it as much as I did and I am constantly following news eager for season 2. I can’t recall a series I was more excited to watch, I woke up every Thursday practically bouncing with excitement. Looking to 2019 there is a ton to be hype for such as Mob Psycho 100 Season 2, the new Fruits Basket adaptation. 2018 was a good year for anime and 2019 is looking to be even stronger!
Berry: For me, 2018 was a pretty good year for anime. There were quite a few that were stand outs, and in this year I was able to find some to be added to my absolute favorites like A Place Further than the Universe, Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight, and Banana Fish. I watched quite a bit of shows and a good chunk of them came from the Fall season, which turned out to be the best season to me and very surprising too. There were lots of huge surprises and I checked out some shows I never thought I ever would and ended up enjoying some of them. So there were lots of good things to choose from and I can list all the good ones but that would take forever. So 2018 was pretty fun when it came to anime, but it looks like 2019 is going to be even crazier so let’s hope this momentum continues into the new year!
Ruru: I think this was one of my best years for anime in a while, all in all! I didn’t watch as much as I would have liked to, but of what I did watch, the good:bad ratio was pretty favourable, with quite a few standouts that I anticipate sticking with me in the years to come like Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru and Captain Tsubasa (2018), and plenty more that I’m excited to catch up on in 2019, like Banana Fish, Megalo Box, and Seishun Buta Yaro. A surprisingly good year for shorts, too – I usually don’t give them a second look, but my interest was piqued by Aggressive Retsuko and Honda-san, and they ended up being highlights for me. Here’s hoping 2019 can keep up the momentum!
Shadow: I have to say that 2018 was a solid year for anime. While summer was a little dry for me, all the other seasons had more than 3 series that I got hooked on almost immediately that I would eagerly wait a week for to watch. My absolute favorites this year had to be Idolish7, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, Irozuku, Zombieland Saga and My Hero Academia season 3. There were definitely a lot of slow series that had a lot of underlying themes and interesting twists that piqued my interest and got me invested like Irozuku and SSSS. Gridman. There were just so many good titles that came out each season in 2018, hopefully 2019 will be just as good or better! I’m also grateful for a fun first year here on AAB!
Pandora: This year had plenty of good anime, that I didn’t watch. I enjoyed all the comedy animes that I watched like Saiki Season 2, Chio’s School Road, Pop Team Epic, Fooly Cooly Progressive, and Cells at Work. I just didn’t have to time to watch all the ones I wanted to watch. EEEE. This summer you gonna see me catching up on Tokyo Ghoul Season 4, Violet Evergarden, Gintama, Saiki Season 3, and others that I didn’t watch this season. Other than working, chilling with my family, and studying body parts, it will be me, my laptop, and a bowl of snacks and water.
Fuzzy: 2018 was quite the year for anime, and although I didn’t find another 10/10 to add to my list, I found plenty of 9s and 8s. Sleeper hits like Megalo Box and Zombieland Saga spiced up the usual lineup, adding their own complementary flair to the flagship shows like My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan. Perhaps the most notable feature of this year is the sheer number of titles I picked up even though I had little to no interest in them during the preview. Shows that seemed generic at first, quickly became something far more. Hinamatsuri and Seishun Buta Yarou in particular were shows I were planning on ignoring, but lo and behold they were both quite great shows. As an anime fan, I’m quite happy with how the shows were this year, and I’m very much looking forward to the next!
Oki: For me, 2018 was an incredible year of personal growth. I graduated college and got married! But 2018 was a wonky year for anime because of that: I watched the beginning of almost every anime that aired and then promptly dropped them all unless they were so mind-blowingly good that I could put off working on my thesis or my other responsibilities. I’m so glad I took the time to enjoy some of the best works: Slime Isekai has been a fantastic show, Hero Academia and Attack on Titan remain as good as I could hope for them and shows like Wotakoi and Miira no Kaikata were very unexpected happy highlights in difficult times for me. I think 2018 had some impressive moments that no one saw coming: Jeez, Zombieland Saga really is way more entertaining than it has the right to be. I think overall being able to cover shows like the above and say, Overlord, help me feel very fortunate in terms of being a reviewer. There are some gems in anime that are staying fresh and I’m hoping it’s a good sign for the industry as a whole, here’s to the anime of 2019!
Nikolita: 2018 was the year where I decided I was going to start taking a step back from AAB in order to start focusing on other creative avenues (though you’ll still see me posting occasional side projects), so I only covered a handful of shows this year. Thankfully I didn’t have to drop anything! 2018 was also the year I had to deal with a lot of loss, so I’m hoping 2019 will be a better year for me in many ways. Out of the few shows I watched and covered, Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen and Island were my overall favourites. FLCL Progressive proved to be almost as awesomely trippy as the original FLCL, and Hakumei to Mikochi was a cute show. Even if I’m not writing about it, I’m looking forward to seeing what will air in 2019!