I don’t necessarily think these entries are the very best of 2018 anime, especially when it comes to those like Happy Sugar Life, which I love but which are distasteful and way over-the-top with themes of violence and sexuality. These 10 are simply the animes I enjoyed the most of 2018. Warning: I may have to give some spoilers to explain why I liked each anime. Additional note: the order here reflects my rankings of the anime as a critic. At the end of the post, the list is presented in the order of my personal enjoyment. Both lists go from high ranking to low.
1. Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 1: Scored 8.2
Historia’s story was what I enjoyed most in the SNK manga (or what I’ve read so far). I actually expected her to listen to her father, become a titan, and try to eat Eren, only to have him fight back and make them enemies. As you know if you saw the anime/ read the manga, you know this didn’t happen. When I read the manga, I felt an overwhelming sense of vicarious empowerment when Historia gave her lines about rejecting the ideas of becoming God, obeying her father, and killing Eren to “save humanity.”
Historia and Ymir are my favorite characters not counting the main trio (and of those, my favorite is Armin). It’s impossible to communicate how I felt when Historia took that step to independence and self-direction in episode 7 of season 3. It was a grand feeling, being so inspired as I saw the scene animated, and heard the words of Historia voiced by Shiori Mikami.
To her father, she said, “God, my ass! That’s just a copout so you can manipulate other people. I’ve had it! I won’t let you kill me.” And to Eren, who whines about not being able to die when it could save humanity, Historia said, “Exterminate the Titans? Who the hell wants that bullshit?! If anything, I’m starting to hate humanity! Let them get wiped out by Titans! I am humanity’s greatest enemy! Do you get it? I’m the worst girl who ever lived!”
Of course, Historia did indeed do the “wrong thing” for the humans within the walls, but I’d rather see her doing the wrong thing and staying true to herself than doing the “right thing” and sacrificing her friends and her sense of self just to be “a good girl.” It was also great to hear a character say what I think all the time– the whole “fuck humanity and let them die,” sentiment. (I don’t hate individual people but I hate the human species sometimes.)
There are many other reasons to like season 3 of Attack on Titan besides just the parts about Historia. The series as a whole has a solid, well-structured story, good art, excellent sound, and outstanding characters. Shingeki no Kyojin is an anime that for sure deserves its popularity.
2. Violet Evergarden: Scored 8.0
For this one, my enjoyment was 8/10 at most compared to the near 10/10 with the previous entry. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or anything. I must admit that it’s a great production, with outstanding art, excellent sound, excellent characters, and a good story. What I enjoyed most about Violet Evergarden was hearing the seiyuu cast, in particular Ishikawa Yui as Violet. The themes of becoming independent and assertive, and moving past grief, were touching.
I know I had a lot to say about Attack on Titan, but most entries will be short like this.
3. Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Scored 7.8
This is one series where my enjoyment was at 9/10, so it was difficult giving it a critic’s rating just under 8.0. That aside, I loved Bloom into You because it’s the best and most serious yuri series I’ve seen in quite a while, and it has a variety of good LGBTQ characters. Furthermore, even though the character of Sayaka Saeki was kind of a bitch toward Yuu, I loved her story and how she embraces her orientation when her ex insults her. For more on why I love Yagate Kimi ni Naru, see my rant about it here: Why Yagate Kimi ni Naru is an Outstanding Yuri Show.
4. Steins;Gate 0: 7.8
Unpopular opinion: when compared, as a whole, to the Steins;Gate anime, Steins;Gate 0 is not really that good. I’d still say my enjoyment was at about 8/10 though, because I got to hear all my favorite seiyuu again and see those classic characters reanimated with even bettter quality. Since Makise Kurisu is out of the picture for the series, that means my favorite character becomes Ruka. It was great to see that character again. They were so beautiful! And in the future, they looked really hot and bad-ass! (I refer to Ruka as they.)
5. Darling in the Franxx: 7.6
I loved the hell out of this show, every last second of it! But I do understand it has some big problems with story and structure, which is the main reason it couldn’t get into the 8s category. Anyway, this may be a boring opinion of popularity, but I enjoyed Darling in the Franxx so much because of Zero Two. She is deifnitely my 2018 waifu. I got a bit obsessed with her character. It had nothing to do with the fan-service– actually, that was slightly annoying. I just love Zero Two’s personality, and I empathize with her situation of being the black sheep.
6. Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san: Scored 7.4
Yet another case of enjoyment ranking at 9/10 and my critic side being unable to give it a score in the 8s category. Well, everything in the 7s category is still good, just not excellent. The main weaknesses of Takagi-san were the poorly executed story and the low-budget art, but to make up for that, sound and characters were excellent!
What I enjoyed most was, well, the same thing Takagi-san enjoyed most. That is, seeing the hilarious reactions of Nishikata when he is teased or tricked, and his silly attempts at trying to get back at Takagi. Like most fans of the show, I was also amused seeing the cuteness of Takagi, and the way she came to “like” Nishikata. I think they have a good future together. Please watch this anime if you haven’t. It is gold, in terms of comedy and slice-of-life.
7. Devilman: Crybaby: Scored 7.0
I watched this as soon as it came out for the shallow reason that it was rated TVMA on Netflix for violence (oh, and nudity). I don’t know what’s more perverse, watching something just because there is silly anime nudity, or watching something just because it’s sure to be gory. Well anyway, the latter is why I started Devilman: Crybaby. As the series progresses into something significant than a gore-fix, I started expecting more quality story-telling and character development. I felt a bit disappointed, to be honest. My enjoyment ranked only about 6/10 for this one.
I didn’t know anything about the history of Devilman when first I watched it, and I didn’t know it was directed by Yuasa Masaaki. Afte re-watching it with that knowledge, I appreciated the series more, and added it to my top 10 of 2018. I still can’t say it was very enjoyable for me with the vague conclusion it had, but it qualifies as a 7/10 Good because of its classic story and mostly understandable, realistic main character. And yeah, the death and violence was pretty awesome if you’re one like me who needs that fix (in anime only).
8. Saiki Kusuo Psi Nan 2nd Season: Scored 6.8
My high level of enjoyment would have me rate this as show in the 8s or 9s, but let’s be honest, the art is average at best and there is no clear story or structure. That aside, Saiki K has excellent voice-acting and songs, and characters that are a bit weakly built but absolutely hilarious. This show is one of my favorite recent anime comedies and I am still so happy it got a second season. I’m not even sure what I loved most about this show. It had me laughing constantly with the sheer absurdity and/or stupidity of the situations and the characters.
9. Happy Sugar Life: Scored 6.6
This is a messed-up show about very messed-up people, so stay far away from it if you are sane. (Oh, unless you just want to watch it for the yandere– in that case, enjoy!) As someone interested in psychology as well as dark shows, I had a good time watching Happy Sugar Life. I’d put my enjoyment at about 7/10. My favorite thing about it was psychoanalyzing the characters and trying to predict what they would do next. I also really do love the insane levels of yandere power.
The best thing about Happy Sugar Life, though, and its only morally redeeming feature, is the way Satou finally realizes Shio’s life is worth more than her own satisfaction. She sacrifices herself to save Shio, in the end. It almost made me cry.
10. Skull Faced Bookseller Honda-san: Scored 6.4
Like Saiki K Psyi Nan 2, this show is absolutely hilarious and well worth watching. The only reason I gave it a 6.4 was because of the horrible animation, which might not even count as animation. Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san is still a great comedy, especially if you’ve worked in retail and merchandising. It’s also educational about how bookstores and businesses work. Finally, it’s full of references to other manga (and anime). I found all those aspects highly entertaining.
(Here are those entries ranked in order of personal enjoyment)
- Yagate Kimi ni Naru
- Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san
- Shingeki no Kyojin 3 (part 1)
- Darling in the Franxx
- Saiki Kusuo Nan 2nd Season
- Violet Evergarden
- Steins;Gate 0
- Happy Sugar Life
- Skull Face Bookseller Honda-san
- Devilman: Crybaby
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list. Jya, ne!