The best of anime: 2018

Best anime of 2018

  1. [Winter 2017/18] A Place Further than the Universe
  2. [Fall 2018] Bunny Girl Senpai

Honorable mentions:

  • [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.

Biggest letdown

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.

This is from Ep. 7 because Ep. 6 can’t be summed up with a picture.

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 [2017]
    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 [2012]
    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 [2011]
    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 [2016]
    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:

  1. Nichijou
  2. Made in Abyss
  3. In this Corner of the World
  4. Eureka Seven
  5. Welcome to the NHK
  6. Shirobako
  7. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
  8. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure S1
  9. Perfect Blue
  10. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  11. Hunter x Hunter (2011)
  12. Seto no Hanayome
  13. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
  14. Clannad After Story
  15. Shinsekai yori
  16. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
  17. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
  18. Code Geass
  19. Gintama
  20. Gunbuster

Bold: new series
Colors: different tiers


Spring 2018 rankings: impressions

Wanted to just jot down my ranks for various anime this season, since I’m watching a ton of series. Not going to put much detail into any of these…

  1. Hinamatsuri (3 eps): 9/10
    Biased from my love for this series. I’m just as excited about the recently-announced US release of the manga, though!
  2. Hisone to Maso-tan (2 eps): 9/10
    This has been the shock of the season for me. What an amazing first two episodes. Bravo, Bones. Also, the best ED this season.
  3. Tadakoi (3 eps): 9/10
    Despite an overdone premise and characters that are far too over-the-top, it’s so creative with its storytelling, legitimately funny with its parodies and execution of even telegraphed jokes (Nyanko Big’s face gets me every time), and really sweet when it comes to romance.
  4. Saiki Kusuo S2 (14 eps): 9/10
  5. Megalo Box (3 eps): 8/10
    It’s been great so far, but only 1 cour for a sports anime is pretty rough.
  6. My Hero Academia S3 (3 eps): 8/10
    This is gonna go up. There’s no way this season can be bad with the content it’s going to cover.
  7. Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Encounter (3 eps): 7/10
  8. Wotakoi (2 eps): 6/10
  9. Golden Kamuy (3 eps): 6/10
    A 9/10 story meets a 1/10 animation studio. The worst part is seeing people defending the CG fire and bears. Go see your optometrist. Good lord.
  10. Izekaya Nobu (2 eps): 6/10
    Can’t tell if this is better in anime or manga form. Pretty average either way, though.
  11. Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory (2 eps): 5/10
    It’s been a long, long time. The whole feel of this show seems… retro and behind the times. It doesn’t seem like such an old formula will be able to stand with the heavy hitters this season.
  12. Darling in the FranXX (15 eps): 4/10
    The characters of this show piss me off to no end. It’s a crappy knock-off of Eureka Seven with unlikeable characters, uninteresting world building, and a feeling that everything that happens is utterly pointless. Just sticking with it because it’s the most popular thing right now.
  13. Mahou Shoujo Site (3 eps): 4/10 (dropped)
  14. Mahou Shoujo Ore (3 eps): 4/10 (dropped)

Still need to watch:

  • Steins;Gate 0
  • Gegege no Kitaro

Maybe:

  • Sword Art Online – Gun Gale Online
  • Lupin III: Part 5

Spring 2018 anime predictions, premonitions, and precognitions

It’s been a while since I’ve watched seasonal shows (Winter 2018 has been the first time in… 6 years? 7?). It just so happens that next season has a bunch of adaptations of manga I’ve loved and a ton of high profile sequels too. I figure that even though some of these are bound to flop, it’s an important time to record down the hype I’m feeling at the moment.

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top 20 anime

A wise man once said:

“One top 20 anime list is worth a thousand blog posts” -flomu

The same man also said:

“Judge a man not by his blog posts, but by the content of his top 20 anime list” -flomu

I’ve found it hard to talk about which anime are “good” and “bad” without any context. How can you trust my judgment of Shirobako when you don’t even know what I’ve seen before? What if I’ve only seen Berserk 2016 and Berserk 2017? Maybe Shirobako isn’t so good, then. At the same time, it’s overkill to have to look through my entire anime list — a top 20 should be good enough to tell you what I’ve seen and what I like. And here’s that top 20.

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‘Tis the Season of Worthless Anime

machine gun-fast first impressions of summer 2011 shows.

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