Best anime of 2018
- [Winter 2017/18] A Place Further than the Universe
- [Fall 2018] Bunny Girl Senpai
- [Winter 2017/18] Yuru Camp
- [Spring 2018] Hisone & Masotan
- [Spring 2018] Hinamatsuri
- [Fall 2018] Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5 (still airing)
This list was incredibly easy to make. Throughout the year I tried to give everything a chance, ending up covering forty series, including all of the ones people seemed to like on reddit. In the end, this year had many good shows I could recommend, but only two stood out as truly great: A Place Further than the Universe and Bunny Girl Senpai.
I’ve written at length about Antarctic Girls and a little on Bunny Senpai, and in those posts I wrote about the problems of the series. Neither of them are perfect – Bunny Senpai has the insufferable physics explanations, and Antarctic Girls tries too hard to jerk tears on the smallest things. But both were surprising shows that outperformed my (low) expectations of them.
Antarctic Girls in particular made my year early on, and I still hum the insert song every so often. I think it’s one of the best portrayals of friendship in an anime series, even if the individual characters are relatively forgettable. The girls’ relationship carried more and more weight as the show directly addressed different questions relating to friendship from the perspective of each character. This approach to friendship-building seemed very artificial at times (e.g., Singapore episode) but it seemed to work in the most important moments, making things like Hina’s episode (ep. 11) feel so raw, real, and emotional. And although most of my posts about Antarctic Girls were just complaining about flaws, I absolutely love this show.
Best opening/ending song + sequence
I love watching great anime openings and endings, and I think it highly enhances the anime-viewing experience. I’ve watched the second opening to Nichijou over a hundred times by now, and remember the English broadcast of DBZ fondly by its insane rap opening which seems badass even so many years later.
I try to judge OPs/EDs by (1) how memorable they are, (2) their quality, and (3) how much they enhance the show. And though I write this down, I actually go by a kneejerk “man, that was good/bad” rather than thinking about it actively.
Anyway, the winner is: Hisone & Masotan ED
Hisone & Masotan was an incredible series with such interesting characters but marred by an indecisive plot. The cute/ugly designs of the characters caught my eye, but their quirky, colorful personalities made this show shine. This ending highlights just how expressive the characters are with their stupid dancing and horrible butchering of the French language, and makes them all the more lovable.
There was a ton of good OPs and EDs this year, with few outright bad ones. Some honorable mentions:
- Lupin III: Part 5 ED
The opening is amazing, but this ending is even better. If I didn’t like Hisone & Masotan so much, I’d easily hand over number one to this sexy celebration of Fujiko Mine.
- Devilman Crybaby OP
Another great lyric-less sequence with interesting animation. Unfortunately I didn’t like the show…
- Tadakoi OP
Animation syncs great with the upbeat music. Really heartwarming, though predictable, show and it shows in this opening.
- Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight OP
The first five seconds are so damn good. Might say the same for the show itself too.
- Sora yori mo Tooi Basho ED
Even though this is a bit of a slideshow, it fits perfectly with the song and emphasizes the friendship of the main characters. Also really catchy song.
Also gotta give props to Darling in the FranXX for a good ED that pulls off the amazing move where the music starts playing right before the end of the episode. It makes the nonsensical garbage cliffhangers seem a lot cooler than they are.
2018 was a year filled with letdowns. From the incredible hype machine of Violet Evergarden to the sub-par adaptations of some of my favorite manga (Golden Kamuy, Grand Blue, and Hinamatsuri) to the horrible reddit threads about Darling in the FranXX, there was a lot to be sad about. Unfortunately, there was one moment that completely outshines the rest: A Certain Magical Index III: Episode 6.
I wrote about the trainwreck that was Episode 10, but didn’t write about episode 6 because there wasn’t anything contentious to say. People online were talking normally about episode 10, but even reddit couldn’t find anything good to say about episode 6. The whole season has been a rushed shitjob of an adaptation, so much so that some light novel readers have been trying to explain the story in every episode thread.
Episode 6 starts off by killing off one of the characters for no reason at all. Then, all the characters start fighting for no reason at all. Characters walk in and out of scenes inexplicably with random roles, spewing random dogshit from their mouths as I try in vain to put the pieces together in my head. The worst part of it is how I can see the skeleton of a beautiful, badass story buried deep beneath the layer of J.C. Shit.
Index/Railgun was the series that motivated me to start blogging in March 2009, with the blog name “Mikotoism”. Looking back almost ten years later, this one episode has made me feel some regret at that. To think that one day my beloved series would be torn to such tiny shreds, indistinguishable from pure garbage… This might have been the worst, most disappointing episode of anime I have ever watched.
Best anime I watched that didn’t air this year
I watched a bunch of anime this year in my goal to clear out the top 100 on MAL, and I’m almost there… if I don’t count sequels and adaptations of manga I’ve read. (I really only have Ghost in the Shell and Rainbow left.) Quite a few of the shows I watched made my top 20 list! And instead of making a post like last year, I’ll just list the new additions:
- #3: In This Corner of the World 
One of the best movies I’ve ever watched, and by far the best anime one. Beats Grave of the Fireflies at its own game.
- #8: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 
Oozing with style and ridiculousness, Battle Tendency is Jojo at its best and freakiest. Later Jojos (anime) don’t carry the same feeling of desperation and impending doom, and they clearly suffer from it.
- #11: Hunter X Hunter 
Irons out all the flaws of the manga (hiatus, too much text, poor drawings), producing the best battle shonen series. Its spot at the top of the MAL rankings is no joke.
- #16: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju 
A long, slow, and rewarding drama. Like its subject of rakugo, this show is a masterwork in storytelling.
Also, Antarctic Girls/Sora yori mo Tooi Basho hit the #7 spot. A really great year for me, even if I didn’t like a lot of the airing shows. Here’s my updated top 20:
- Made in Abyss
- In this Corner of the World
- Eureka Seven
- Welcome to the NHK
- Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
- Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure S1
- Perfect Blue
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Hunter x Hunter (2011)
- Seto no Hanayome
- The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Clannad After Story
- Shinsekai yori
- Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes
- Code Geass
Bold: new series
Colors: different tiers
Nothing about this episode makes any sense. This is total shit.
- Touma sees blood and gets pinned down by… a FLIGHT ATTENDANT?
- Then he gets shoved into the bloody, gory room??
- Captain says “I need to protect the passengers” and then goes back to doing not a goddamn thing while a terrorist is strangling a girl RIGHT NEXT TO WHERE HE STABBED A CREW MEMBER???
- Terrorist manages to get away and HIDE ON A FUCKING PLANE??? How the fuck do you hide on a plane?
- Terrorist threatens to kill EVERY PASSENGER, ONE BY ONE!!! And all he has is a bone knife?
- Normal high school student defeats terrorist with one punch…
I don’t usually get angry after watching anime, but this was atrocious. At least it wasn’t as bad as episode 6, though…
This series is sitting at 3/10 right now. I have to finish it, though, or I’ll be betraying Mikotoism forever.
I got around to watching all the anime adaptations of Spirit of Wonder (by Kenji Tsuruta of Emanon fame) this week, and I have to say… MAL reviews and scores for these are really low. At first, I thought this was just a matter of taste. The stories can be super slow (think Aria), and it’s not really your typical sci-fi fare.
But after reading reviews for the Scientific Boys Club OVA, I think people are just missing the point. I wrote my own review about it (giving it an 8/10), but I want to write down a few more notes on it here.Read the rest of this entry »
I’m at episode 5 of Bunny Girl Senpai, and it has been the distillation of everything I liked about the Monogatari series. The conversations between the characters in Bunny Girl Senpai aren’t just filler phrases like in your standard rom-com. I wouldn’t call the conversations clever, but they’re interesting, and often unpredictable. At the same time, there isn’t any of the artistic bullshit that SHAFT likes to pull with Monogatari. I thought I liked that stuff, but now that I’ve seen it removed, it feels so distracting and detracts from the actual content.
I can’t give the series full points, though, because the science-y explanations for the supernatural stuff are so long and boring.
As someone who works in physics, hearing an explanation of Schrodinger’s cat is like hearing grandpa’s favorite war story for the hundredth time. I don’t want to sit through a poorly translated version of what an anime character has to say about this thing I know far too well. But what’s worse is how it appeals to the (dumb) view of science as this strange, esoteric thing that could almost be supernatural. When Futaba talks, I get that the point is to lend an air of mystery and intrigue, not credibility. But when I listen to this stuff, it carries none of that connotation because it’s simply not exotic to me.
On the flip side, I have to give the series props for drawing inspiration from physics concepts. Even though they muck up the explanations, at the core there’s definitely a connection. For example, Schrodinger’s cat and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics say that nothing is determined or “real” (there’s a double meaning here, I think) until it is measured. I think it’s cool how they translated that into Mai disappearing unless people remember her. It’s very sci-fi, and more interesting to me than the more symbolic stuff from Monogatari.
The problem is that despite their own disclaimers, they use the physics stuff as a straight-up explanation of the plot points, which is totally wrong. It feels a little demeaning to be told that a basic concept that I’ve learned explains some mumbo jumbo in an anime.
(it was shit)
Today, I happened to look at the MAL page for the show, and the four top reviews give it 3/10, 1/10, 1/10, and 1/10. I don’t want to say “look, told you so” because there’s no point to that – everybody already knew it. The thing that confused me for the longest time, though, was how the weekly episode threads on reddit had so many supportive and optimistic comments.
I feel like the lesson to be learned here isn’t that DitF was a great show with a bad ending, but rather that the opinions on reddit threads are totally biased towards the most ardent fans. After all, what could a critic say except “wow, that was shit again.” The only “valuable” discussion around such weak, shitty writing would come from people who think it actually means something.
Darling in the FranXX reminds me of Guilty Crown, back in Fall 2011. That wasn’t mecha, but it was… mecha-lite in its sci-fi vibe. But it was mysterious waifu girl meets boy and blah blah the world, just like DitF. Back then, it was stupidly popular too, but got its fair share of hate from the start. I can’t imagine how bad the senseless fanboying could have gotten if Guilty Crown didn’t have three giant series in Fate/Zero, Hunter X Hunter, and Future Diary looming over its head.
…actually, I guess I now can.