End of Year 2018: Favorite Animated Work


#24

They’ve all been called out already, but I’ve gotta give my own shout outs to:
A Place Further than the Universe
Bloom Into You
Yuru Camp
and
She-Ra

All four are good enough to be, like, my top animated show of the year, in most other years–working out the ‘order’ I’d put them in has been super difficult. (I realise that ordering stuff is, like, hardly necessary or whatever, but my brain kept trying no matter what I did, so…)

A Place Further than the Universe takes the top spot–I’ve seen, like, so many ‘girls hanging out’ anime - slice of life is pretty much my favourite anime genre - but The Antarctica Show is easily one of - if not the - best I’ve ever seen, and also a show I’d happily recommend to literally anyone. There’s an incredibly powerful scene in episode 11 that really drives home exactly why I love it so much:

(Including the clip mainly for illustrative purposes–I’d advise that anyone who’s thinking of watching the show just goes ahead and does it before watching this! It’s the culmination of a big emotional arc, and while it’s still fantastic out of context, I wouldn’t want to rob anyone of getting to experience it for the first time in that proper context!)

After that it’s Bloom Into You - I already loved the manga, and it’s genuinely a perfect adaptation, that elevates the already-fantastic source material, as Yuri_Librarian’s thread explains - then Yuru Camp - a truly wonderful iyashikei series, and the perfect counterpart to the more frenetic A Place Further than the Universe - and then finally She-Ra, which is easily one of the best Western cartoons I’ve seen in years. I absolutely can’t wait for the second season! (which, uh, please announce a second season!)


#25

For TV Series:

  • Yuru Camp/Laid-Back Camp
  • A Place Further than the Universe
  • Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
  • Hinamatsuri
  • Devilman Crybaby
  • Pop Team Epic
  • Aggretsuko
  • Zombie Land Saga
  • Skullface Bookseller Honda-San
  • Bloom into You
  • OK K.O.
  • Steven Universe
  • Craig of the Creek
  • Hilda
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
  • The Dragon Prince
  • Castlevania

and as for movies there weren’t as many but the few i saw i really liked:

  • Liz and the Blue Bird
  • Spider-man Into the Spider-verse
  • Lu Over the Wall

I’ll elaborate later. But that’s a good list for now i think


#26

Contemplating writing something more focused on a show or three, but for now I have used an extremely scientific process to narrow down my top… 4? anime per season this year. With bonus reductive descriptions!

Winter

  • A Place Further Than the Universe - Friends go to Antarctica.
  • Laid-Back Camp - Friends go camping.
  • Slow Start - Friends go… to school?
  • After the Rain - Friends gactually it’s about a high school girl falling in love with her manager at work but the description kinda makes it sound skeezier than it is.

I Guess Technically Winter “Season” But Not Really

  • Devilman Crybaby - There is no easy way to describe this.

Spring

  • Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku - (Adult) Nerds go to work/dates/Comiket.
  • Hinamatsuri - Yakuza member ends up taking care of a girl with psychic powers.
  • Comic Girls - It’s Slow Start except the friends also draw manga.
  • Amanchu 2 - Friends go scuba diving. From the creator of Aria.
  • (Another season of My Hero Academia)
  • (Also Gun Gale Online was pretty good, too)

Summer

  • Encouragement of Climb S3 - Friends go mountain climbing. Again.
  • Harukana Receive - Friends play beach volleyball.
  • Hanebado - People don’t seem to like Badminton but they play it anyways.
  • Cells at Work - What if anime people lived inside your body and were keeping you alive?
  • (I haven’t gotten around to watching any Revue Starlight or Planet With yet.)

Fall

  • Bloom Into You - Yuri coming of age.
  • SSSS.Gridman - Giant monsters! Robots! Transformers and Evangelion references!
  • Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai - Diet Monogatari. Opens with a verbal exchange between two characters that’s more or less quoted from Bakemonogatari, sans anybody having a stapler in their mouth.
  • Zombie Land Saga - Idols from various time periods get resurrected to form an all-zombie idol group.

All Seasons All the Time

  • Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family - Fate characters get drawn being happy while wearing casual clothes in soft lines and every shade of pastel humanly possible as they cook or play beach volleyball.

#27

So, I totally only discovered this today (like, actual Xmas present) but after watching it, I’ve decided that Interface is the best animated thing I’ve seen this year.

The first episode was actually published in December of last year, but there’s been a new episode roughly every month this year so I really think it counts more as a 2018 work. The latest episode was released two weeks ago.

Interface is a surreal journey through an alienated landscape with nods to influences as diverse as Totoro to René Magritte. Like I said, I only just watched all 30 mins of it so I haven’t really unpacked it, but I highly recommend it.


#28

A Place Further than the Universe is my fav of the year, no doubt. I wept to that shit.
Golden Kamuy is a close second. A very entertaining adventure, and pretty gnarly.
Hinamatsuri and Yuzu Camp were also really nice, and I’m also enjoying the Slime show right now.
Those are my favourite animes of the year, but there were other nice ones as well.


#29

Two more mentions: Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson and the anime High Score Girl that I just finished because Netflix put up a dub, appreciate how much it really gets into 90’s games in Japan. The scene where they bond over co-op Final Fight …tugged at my heartstrings.


#30

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is going to have to take the cake for me. The animation style and work itself is a joy to behold, but the story it told was uniquely touching and heartbreaking

Also, bonus points to getting hardboiled detective Nic Cage. We’ve needed this more than we knew.

I also really enjoyed Aggretsuko, being a metalhead in a cubicle. The characters were WAY too accurate.


#31

if it’s been mentioned already forgive me but I feel I must note that new cardcaptor sakura was the first half of this year and was, yknow, basically more of the same, but I love cardcaptor sakura, so I loved it


#32

Me, fall 2018: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai? I don’t need this ecchi nonsense.

Me, seeing positive reviews: I’m not falling for your Best Girl Waifu apologia.

Me, seeing more positive reviews: Fine.

Me, after two episodes: I WILL LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR YOU, MAI SAKURAJIMA. JUST TELL ME WHO TO SMITE AND THEY SHALL BE SMOTEN.


Spider-Man Into the Spider-verse

How? Just, how?

Everything you’ve heard is true. It’s as good as everyone says it is. My only quibble is that it’s not long enough for all the side-Spideys to have their own full-length feature. I want two hours of John Mulaney as Spider-ham!

Stop telling yourself it can’t possibly be this good. Set aside your intellectual cynicism. Just see this movie. See it. SEE IT.


#33

This year I decided to try seasonal anime viewing and ended up finishing 22 shows. So uh, this what I do now. I won’t talk about everything here - I’m glad a lot of them have been brought up already. What I will say is that the shows on this list are overwhelmingly positive and largely forward-thinking. That stuff is hard to make and this really is a time where it’s appreciated.

Honourable Mentions

  • Aggretsuko [Netflix] - It was fun seeing this crossover to non-anime audiences. Don’t forget about the christmas special!
  • GeGeGe no Kitaro [Crunchyroll, AnimeLab] - The 5th soft-reboot of a 58-year old kid’s horror manga, Kitaro 2018 actually has some things to say! As it’s set to run for at least 50 episodes, I’ll just highlight episodes 7 (school and workplace bullying) and 21 (modern Japan’s sanitised relationship to WWII).
  • SSSS.Gridman [Crunchyroll] - I won’t get to the last two episodes until I arrive back home next year, but Studio TRIGGER struck a motherlode of eerie mechs, high school ennui, and uncomfortable silences that had been lost since at least the late 90s. There’s still some of that TRIGGER ickiness but I’m happy that they tried something out and excited for what’s to come.
  • Revue Starlight [Hidive] - A near miss for my list, this is a deeply ambitious high school drama about the terrifying machinery of Japanese theatre that often went over my head and felt like it needed to be either twice as long or have half as many characters. Still worth checking out even for the uninitiated because of impressive stage fights, songs, that weird giraffe, and Nana Daiba.
  • Mitsuboshi Colors [Hidive] - Kids in elementary school having a good time in Ueno. Not really much to say about this one, but the writing is sharp and it doesn’t trust cops.

10 - Golden Kamuy [Crunchyroll] - This show cares deeply about its setting and Ainu culture, but also is a hyperviolent black comedy with an inexplicable humanist streak. Don’t let the first episode fool you into thinking this is The Revenant, because Golden Kamuy has an impressive emotional range.
9 - Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 2 [Crunchyroll] - Despite being a puppetry-based Taiwanese co-production this is the most anime entry on this list. Written by Gen Urobochi, this reeks of Fate Zero and stars a bunch of selfish jerks who love swords and talking about philosophy, though it’s much more palatable as it’s much more self-aware and doesn’t resort to fridging someone every three episodes. And in case you haven’t seen goddamn the character design is ridiculous and incredible.
8 - Zombieland Saga [Crunchyroll] - A great comedy that makes me kind of bummed about idols and kind of jazzed about zombification. Again I’m out of country and haven’t seen the final episode but this got big and I would love to see more of this.
7 - Laid-Back Camp [Crunchyroll] - The other show that blew up this year, Laid-Back Camp isn’t quite my favourite outdoorsy-slice-of-life show of 2018 (competition was fierce) but it had some great character dynamics. Rin is one of the best characters of the year, for sure.
6 - Asobi Asobase [Crunchyroll] - Absurdist middle school comedy where everyone is crude and mean and it bites them in the ass. I know that’s out-of-keeping with the rest of this list, but through some mysterious blend of fantastic comedic acting and pure surrealism, it’s not overbearing.
5 - Hinamatsuri [Crunchyroll] - Another comedy that walks an tricky line rather well (this time it’s psychic preteen girls working for/with/against the yakuza), though Hinamatsuri is a bit more predictable and overall more consistent. Weirdly heartwarming.
4 - Planet With [Crunchyroll] - Planet With is very much a battle shounen, but at only 12 episodes, it’s expeditious enough to get around the pacing issues that I tend to have with the genre. Given its scope and the size of its cast, I’m still not sure how it works as well as it does - maybe it helps that this is another one of those big-hearted shows.
3 - Encouragement of Climb Season 3 [Crunchyroll] - A slice of life show about mountain climbing that happens to be pretty intelligent about relationships while also having a lovely art style. Crunchyroll has inexplicably lost rights to season 2, which makes this a harder recommendation than it needs to be, but it’s impressive what this show can evoke within its 12-minute runtimes.
2 - Bloom Into You [Hidive] - It’s good, it’s gay, it’s probably being overlooked because it’s on Hidive and I’ve spent too much time on this list already so I can’t elaborate further except to say that I really hope that this kind of show becomes the norm in the future.
1 - A Place Further than the Universe [Crunchyroll] - Plenty of people here and elsewhere have talked about why it’s so good, so I’ll just say that yeah, this was the show that got me to watch currently-airing anime. Those hundreds of hours I spent this year watching TV anime? That’s all this. Thanks, folks.


#34

It didn’t start this year, but it has had a few episodes (certainly some of the oddest episodes, for sure) this year. Petscop is something I’ve become fascinated with this year. If you don’t know what it is, it essentially starts out as a fictionalised Let’s Play of an obscure, seemingly unfinished old PS1 game that quickly veers into stranger territory.

It nails a lot of things that I love: hauntology (i.e. uncannily warped visions of the past - peculiarly “haunted” rather than simply nostalgic / satisfyingly pastiched), the tendency to use old games to explore the odd imagination / fears of childhood, etc. It’s really good.

The fact that it’s constantly going above and beyond to be more than just a CreepyPasta sort of thing is admirable: what little we see of the surface game is pretty well-designed (in terms of puzzles and that), the world and how it’s presented to us throws up constant questions and constant mystery. Beats me when it’ll end, or even if it will.

Reading through theories gives me something to do if I ever find myself bored and feeling like checking 'em out, too.


#35

Oh dang i forgot to mention Batman Ninja

while the standout animated movies for me this year were Liz and the Blue Bird and Spider-man Into the Spider-verse Batman Ninja is just a ton of fun.

I would say don’t go in expecting anything earth shattering. But it was fun to see kamikaze douga do an entire batman movie in the style of their CG openings for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure set in an alternate past japan with giant mechs???

Also they did Pop Team Epic another one of my favorites this year so please enjoy this batman ninja ad done in the Pop Team Epic style


#36

Aggretsuko is easily the best animated show I watched all year, but there were two others that I perversely enjoyed.

Neo Yokio is my exact sense of humour. It doesn’t telegraph any of its jokes, it just delivers ridiculous lines one after the other. It’s a brutal take down of consumerism masquerading as a celebration of it. I laughed so much.

Baki just came out. Giant muscular men causing each other horrific injuries. I binged the hell out of it. It’s toxic masculinity incarnate. I realise we’re supposed to reject this… but sometimes I love it!


#37

There is a movie called Batman Ninja? I need this.


#38

I figured out my top anime of 2018 a while ago so I might as well post it here! I picked my favorite 4 shows per season and then added an extra six shows on top of that for a total of 18 shows for 2018. Except that is quite literally not how the math works out and I already like my list as it is so it’s actually 22 shows! Here they are:

Winter

  • A Place Further Than The Universe
  • Laid-back Camp
  • Pop Team Epic
  • Mitsuboshi Colors

Spring

  • Comic Girls
  • Hinamatsuri
  • Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
  • Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair

Summer

  • Planet With
  • Revue Starlight
  • High Score Girl
  • Dropkick on my Devil!

Fall

  • The Girl in Twilight
  • Bloom Into You
  • Ms. vampire who lives in my neighborhood.
  • Zombie Land Saga

Bonus Six

  • Hugtto! Pretty Cure
  • Encouragement of Climb Season 3
  • After The Rain
  • Kokkoku
  • SANRIO BOYS
  • Hakumei & Mikochi

I extremely do not have the energy to do proper write-ups for all the shows plus, lots of stuff has been said about most of the entries on my list already! But I will say this; I always try to find one show every year since I started watching anime seasonally with a catchy OP and watch it to completion and this year it was Kokkoku. The opening sequence is easily one of my favorites and the show is kinda good too!


#39

Spider-Verse is pretty great. I don’t have much to say about it that hasn’t already been said, but wow is it colorful and dynamic, with a very good story to boot. Still kinda can’t believe it exists.

Glad to see so many shout-outs to Bloom into You in here, as it seemed to slip under the radar otherwise. I rarely watch anime while it’s airing, but this was a must-see, even not having read the manga, as overt, sincere same-gender romances don’t come around very often. Again, don’t have much to add, but this was so consistently stunning week after week. The care and thoughtfulness is so evident in the storyboarding and direction, and I also want to shout out the incredible soundtrack from none other than Michiru Oshima, which really ties together the feeling of being immersed in these characters and their relationships. The show’s deliberate approach really gets at the feeling of learning who someone is while falling in love with them, and learning about oneself as well.

Here’s something that hasn’t been mentioned yet: Kase-san and Morning Glories (Asagao to Kase-san), a 50+ minute OVA, and another romance between young women. Boldly, the OVA starts with Kase-san and Yamada already dating, a statement of sorts that this is about an overt romantic relationship, and that relationships stretch far, far beyond a confession. This OVA is also gorgeous, with great use of colors, impressionistic backgrounds, and fun character animation (watch for the sprouts from aspiring gardener Yamada’s head). The story is unapologetically fluffy and sweet, but beneath the surface there’s a surprising amount of depth, really getting at issues like body image and sense of self-worth. There’s an undercurrent of disbelief, shared by both Yamada and the seemingly more confident Kase-san, that their relationship really is so mutually loving, which is especially compelling because their own insecurities and self-worth issues feel so real. Even though both of them are shy in their own ways, they start to gain an understanding, and realize that what they have is really special.

And finally, there’s Liz and the Blue Bird, which has received some mentions. This is my favorite animated work of the year, and it’s also one of my favorite movies of a very good year for film. While still relying on subtext rather than the overt Bloom into You and Kase-san, it feels really genuine instead of cynical like subtextual works sometimes are, depicting love between two women with remarkable intentionality. This movie is absolutely stunning, a fully immersive fusion of ultra-meticulous animation and storyboarding with incredibly detailed sound design along with excellent music from Kensuke Ushio. Naoko Yamada knows how much weight the smallest gestures and movements can carry, and the nature of animation means that body language can’t be taken for granted, but has to be precisely crafted. The attention to detail has thematic purpose, carrying across how compelling every single gesture is when you’re in love with someone. Liz and the Blue Bird is about what it means for someone to be special, what it means to be special to someone, and how to see that someone as a whole person.


#40

Putting my hat in for Spider-Verse. Other people have covered it and I’ve written about it already elsewhere on this forum. I’ve seen it four times and counting in theaters. 'Nuff said.


#41

I’d like to give a shout-out to OK KO! Let’s Be Heroes, a show I did not like at all when it first came out. But as it grew, it also grew on me, and now it challenges Steven Universe as one of the most fun, thoughtful shows going.

If nothing else, I usually roll my eyes at “this easter egg proves X and Y are in the same universe!” stuff, but OK KO! managed to link virtually every major American animated show ever with its epic crossover episode (and if you count video games, there’s a link to Katamari which links to Mario which links to pretty much everything).