So 2018 has come to a close and 2019 is already well under way. And boy, what a year for Anime 2018 was.
Honestly, it was one of the best years I’ve had for Anime in a long time, and I found many new shows that have the honour of receiving a spot in my favourites, a couple even managed to break my all-time Top 10.
Even though there were still plenty of big disappointments, and some downright terrible shows, I think it’s safe to say that, for me at least, 2018 was a quality year filled with many memorable and great shows.
I’m a little late in getting this out, mostly because I wanted to dwell on the choices for this list a little bit more and also because I hadn’t had a chance to watch a lot of shows that I really wanted to watch.
This was also originally supposed to be a big long Awards post that broke everything down into categories like I do every year. But since a ton of Anibloggers, including myself, got together at the end of last year to create our own Aniblogger Awards, I figured I’d just do a Top 10 list this year instead.
I’m not lazy. I promise.
Also, it should probably be obvious, but I didn’t watch everything in 2018 and there are likely ton of shows that would have probably made this list if I did watch them. If you have any recommendations though, please throw them my way!
Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that lengthy preamble out of the way. Here’s my Top 10 Anime of 2018. Enjoy!
10. Attack on Titan Season 3
As I’ve said many times on this blog in the past, Attack on Titan has always been a bit of a mixed bag for me in terms of quality. The first season, while a fantastic action flick wrought with tension and satisfying pay offs, was very lacking in terms of actual characterisation and development. And the second season, which did an excellent job of changing up the game by focusing more on the narrative, the characters and making big, shocking reveals of the mysteries that had been teased and built up over the course of the series, felt very slow paced and lacking in the high adrenaline action of the first season.
But Attack on Titan Season 3 manages to improve on both of its previous seasons by combining the best elements of each of them. The story has moved away from titan slaying in favour of a more human story about conspiracy and corruption, while still managing to include plenty of over the top action scenes and sudden character deaths that made the series such a hit to begin with. And the characters, the majority of who have been severely underdeveloped, all finally started to become more fleshed out with their motivations and personalities explored further.
Attack on Titan has never been as exciting as it is now, and with the second half of this season due later this year, I have no doubt that what’s coming next is going to be something really special.
9. Goblin Slayer
Goblin Slayer is a series that was unfortunately the victim of a lot of backlash due to its violent content and its brutal depiction of a character being raped in the first episode, but I’ve already discussed this controversy in a previous post, so I’m not going to regurgitate my thoughts on that subject here.
Instead, I’m just going to explain why Goblin Slayer is a series I enjoy. I just really like edgy, violent stuff, and there are often times where I just want to turn my brain off and watch something brutal and bloody unfold, and Goblin Slayer provides that.
It’s also just really entertaining seeing how the Goblin Slayer himself goes about uniquely killing the goblins during each bloody encounter. It surprisingly doesn’t get old, and with a second season on the way, I’m excited to see what the series has to offer in the future.
8. Dorei-ku The Animation
I’m a real sucker for survival game and battle royale stories in Anime, and Dorei-ku managed to provide me with a very unique twist on this type of narrative in 2018. The series revolves around characters facing off against each other in a variety of challenges, with the loser becoming the winners slave, who then must obey their every command. And as a story, it works surprisingly well.
Despite being a full length series, Dorei-ku manages to take this simple idea and continues to use it in as many creative ways as possible, which keeps it exciting the whole way through. The mind games are unreal and the way each character goes about screwing everyone else over is just so entertaining to watch.
It’s definitely not the smartest Anime out there, and the story often wavers from being really awesome to ending up completely stupid. But it works. It works really well in fact. And I love it.
7. Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS
WIXOSS is one of my favourite Anime franchises of all time, and the first entry in the series, Selector Infected WIXOSS, remains in my Top 10 to this day. So naturally, I was very excited for this new, and supposedly final, season in the franchise. And boy, did it pull out all the stops.
Not only did it end things in a conclusive way, but it introduced a whole bunch of new ideas to the series to keep things interesting all the way to the end and it turned the fan-service up to eleven by bringing back the original cast from Selector Infected WIXOSS! As a fan of the series, it was such a treat to see these familiar faces again and watch them affect the narrative of the Lostorage series.
It never wound up being quite as good as Selector, but Lostorage ended up being a very worthy successor to it and did a fantastic job in tying all of the franchises loose threads together in one of the best series finales I’ve seen from a longrunning show in quite some time. The fact that this series remained so good, and so consistent, after four seasons is nothing short of a miracle.
And I think it goes without saying that I wouldn’t mind another WIXOSS series in the future. In fact, I welcome it.
6. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is yet another series that’s always been one of my all-time favourites for many years, and you’d think that after 4 story arcs of crazy, wacky and extremely inventive ideas and some of the best storytelling to come out Shounen, that the Mangaka would have started to run out of ideas.
But nope. He just kept going it seems, because Golden Wind is fantastic so far and if anything is the most creative and interesting entry in the series to date. Honestly, I thought that Jojo could only go down after the amazing and near-perfect series that was Diamond is Unbreakable, but it seems I’m already being proven wrong.
Golden Wind still has a ways to go before it wraps itself up, so it could just be off to a strong start. But given the series track record, I’m confident in saying that it’ll be another top tier Shounen series by the time it ends. Araki really is a genius, and I hope we get a Part 6 adaptation in the near future.
5. My Hero Academia Season 3
Is this even a surprise to anyone who follows me? Of course the latest season of My Hero Academia is on this list. And man, what a season it was.
It ups the stakes of the narrative significantly by finally fully introducing the main antagonists and our heroes are thrown into a dire situation almost immediately. The fights have never been better either, and this season arguably had the two best fight scenes of 2018, with my favourite being Deku vs. Kacchan Part 2. That fight alone shot this series straight into the 9’s for me and is a shining example of everything that a good Shounen should strive to achieve.
And with a fourth season right around the corner, it doesn’t seem like this juggernaut of a series is going anywhere any time soon.
And I honestly couldn’t be happier.
4. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
If there’s any Anime series that completely shattered all of my expectations, it’d most definitely be Bunny Girl Senpai. I went into this series assuming that it was going to be both incredibly juvenile and stupid due to its absurd premise and racy promotional poster. But instead, it ended up being one of the best written and heartwarming shows of the year with its incredibly unique narrative and its extremely relatable cast of characters.
I’ve seen a lot of people negatively compare this series to the Monogatari series, claiming it to be nothing but a “cheap copy” of it, due to its focus on the main character dealing with girls who’s lives are thrown out of whack due to a supernatural phenomenon that’s taken root inside of them. And while I can definitely see the similarities between the two, I don’t think it’s fair to compare them, nor do I think that Bunny Girl Senpai is “worse” than Monogatari. In fact, I’d argue it’s better, because it cuts out all of the bullshit philosophical dialogue that was never interesting in favour of just getting to the point and actually developing the characters and defining their relationships with one another.
Unlike Monogatari, Bunny Girl Senpai isn’t trying to make a bold statement about the nature of humanity or the world, it’s not trying to explore pretentious ideas and it’s not trying to analyse itself. It’s simply trying to tell a story and build a relationship between it’s characters. And I’ll take the latter any day.
It’s a very honest and sincere series that resonated with me on a level I never expected it to. It’s fantastic.
And I can’t wait for the movie.
3. Sword Art Online: Alicization
It’s Sword Art Online! Surely this must be a joke!
Nah. I’ve already been over why Alicization is such a fantastic series several times now. Not only does it address many of the criticisms that have been thrown at Sword Art Online over the years, but it manages to do so while telling an emotionally charged story with some of the highest stakes we’ve seen since Aincrad.
The series also does a fantastic job exploring the theme of what it means to be human through the newly introduced side character, and ultimate bro, Eugeo, an artificially created human within the virtual world that Alicization takes place. It’s not the most unique theme in the world, but Alicization has done a fantastic job exploring it nonetheless and if it keeps following the novels like it has been, it’s going to be something really special by the end.
2. Happy Sugar Life
It was really tough for me to pick the number 1 spot between this one and my final choice, but in spite of it being in second place, I’d say that Happy Sugar Life more or less ties with my number 1 choice for the best Anime series of the year.
Have you ever experienced that feeling where you just couldn’t stop watching an Anime series? Where you’re so hooked on the story and the characters that you just can’t stop watching it and end up marathoning the entire bloody thing in a single day? It’s something that I rarely do these days, no matter how into a series I am, yet I was so hooked on Happy Sugar Life that I did just that. I watched the entire series in one sitting.
Not only does the series tell an extremely unique and well written story with a fanastically emotionally complex cast of characters, but it does so while commenting on a variety of taboo, real world subjects, such as paedophilia, emotional manipulation, the effects of psychological and physical abuse and being overly dependent. And it manages to explore these themes in an extremely respectful and nuanced way that a lot of these kinds of series often fail to do.For the sake of not spoiling such an amazing series, I don’t want to get too in depth.
Happy Sugar Life is a one of a kind series that stands out from just about everything else the medium has to offer. And it’s now one of my all-time favourite series.
1. Magical Girl Site
Like I said above, deciding between this and Happy Sugar Life for my Anime of the Year was an incredibly difficult decision to make, as both are absolutely fantastic series that have earned a spot in my Top 10.
But I decided to give Magical Girl Site the slight edge, simply because of how much I related to it on a personal level and how much it means to me.
I made no secret of it in my post about the series earlier this year, but I went through a lot during my teenage years, and much of what I went through still affects me to this day, although thanks to my amazing wife and the support of those around me, I’ve started to rise above it all and become a stronger and more confident person.
Magical Girl Site is a series that perfectly embodies my journey of self-improvement. From the initial era of being the victim who was powerless do anything, all the way to finding that special someone who’ll always have your back and who’s there to tell you that you’re someone and that you can you anything against all odds.
And on top of all that personal stuff, it’s just a really good story in general, with fantastic characters, unique ideas and fantastic tension all throughout. Is it super edgy? Sure. Is it a little over the top with it’s shocking scenes and maliciousness? Yeah, a little.
But is it good? Heck yes it is. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best thing of 2018. Period.
Madoka can step aside.
What were your Top 10 Anime of 2018? Let me know!