Updated to add Violet Evergarden at 3.5, because I forgot it came out this year. Whoops!
What up? I’m here with my
personal favorite original or non-sequel anime series of 2018. These may not be
the critically best shows of the year, but they were the ones I enjoyed the
most. This will also be a non-spoiler list, for those who haven’t seen them.
10. The Ancient Magus’s Bride
A young teenager is sold at an
auction to an old sorcerer, who takes her on as an apprentice – and his future
show started out with an OVA prequel that was one of the most beautiful and
enthralling pieces of anime I’ve ever seen. The series managed to take
that magic forward but struggled to do so as the time went on.
Nevertheless, it was still a marvelous and bittersweet adventure. The
best way I can describe it would be fantasy romance mixed with drama, but that
doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s a heartfelt journey, but one that is
very calming or relaxing. If you like stories about the magic, mythical
creatures, and nature, you will like this one.
9. Cells at Work
A new red blood cell tries her
best at her job, but the human body is a dangerous place. Luckily, she
becomes friends with a certain white blood cell, as well as other unique and
there was an award for the most educational series of the year, this would be
an easy winner. Beyond the lackluster synopsis lies an exciting and
informative series. Every episode follows red blood cell as she
encounters dangerous germs and viruses. The tone of the series is mostly
comedic, but there’s a lot of action as well. And all throughout the show
we’re given the pathological details of the characters, settings, and
events. Even doctors have praised Cells at Work for its attention to
detail and ingenious storytelling. Week after week, I found myself rooting
for the cells and feeling more appreciation for my own body’s functions.
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby
A horse girl moves into the city
to attend a racing academy, in hopes of becoming a professional horse
one came out of left field in the Spring, and no one expected it to be this
good. What started out as a gimmicky monster girl story quickly became an
intriguing tale of athletic competition and team camaraderie. It's a joy
to see horse girl Special Week grow as an athlete as she tries to realize her
dreams. There are moments of tense nail-biting action, heartwarming
friendships, and hilarious gags and callbacks. It’s just a well-rounded
original sports story with a unique twist.
Rin loves to go camping by
herself…until she meets Nadeshiko.
often rewatch anime, but this is one I find myself going back to. It’s
one of the most relaxing and informative shows I’ve ever seen. The
characters go camping, eat delicious food, and learn to appreciate
nature. But more than that, it’s also a tale of learning to enjoy things
with others, and how getting out of your comfort zone can sometimes be very
rewarding. It’s folksy, easy-going, and downright educational. But
at the end of the day, it’s fucking hilarious. Lots of witty quips and
physical gags. A great show to wind down with at the end of the day.
A girl with dreams of being an
idol suddenly dies…then gets her chance.
show really turned a genre on its head. I find most idol anime series to
be boring, or too cutesy. Zombieland Saga however manages to be not only
an idol show, but also unique and original. It takes a motley crew of
characters from different time periods, throws them together, and forces them
to become a cohesive musical group. All with the help of their eccentric
and mysterious manager, who gathered them together. Zombieland Saga also
has some of the strongest comedic moments of the year. I haven’t laughed
this hard at an anime in a long time. And even better, after it pulls you
in with the comedy, it hits you with some great themes about acceptance, trust,
and self-esteem. Throw in a hint of mystery, and you’ve got yourself a
Goblin Slayer (yes, that’s his
name) only kills goblins. Other adventurers laugh at him for it, but he
knows the true horror goblins are capable of.
might have heard of this one. The first episode made waves this Fall as
being extremely edgy and graphic. I can confirm, Episode 1 is one of the
hardest things I’ve ever watched in mainstream anime. It was unsettling,
and even depressing. Many people dropped the show after that, but I can
say that it became a very interesting and tense series, full of great action
and strategy. And within this hardcore action fantasy, lies a very
personal tale about an infamous but lonely adventurer. In contrast to
some shows about main characters who finally learn to cooperate with others, GS
is more about a solitary character’s journey as the people around him begin to
appreciate him more. Granted, it is very edgy at times and suffers from
some of the more eye-rolling anime tropes. Nonetheless, it’s a wild and
crazy ride that was very satisfying in the end. If you can get past
Episode 1, this series will be very rewarding.
Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime
A successful salary man is killed
and reincarnated as a slime in a fantasy world…where he becomes one of the most
powerful creatures in the land.
as a genre is rapidly becoming passé (if it isn’t already). So, it takes
a lot to set a show apart from the pack...which this one does well. Not
only does it have this air of One Punch Man, but the story also has a great
feeling of escalation. As Rimuru (the slime) encounters more races and
organizations, his reputation and following grows. The world unfolds, the
scale of story grows, and wider mysteries appear. I really like shows
that do that, and this one manages to do so without falling into the common
Isekai pitfalls. The show continues into 2019, and I’m excited to see
where it goes.
3.5. Violet Evergarden
An emotionally numb former child soldier returns home, where she starts working as an Auto Memory Doll – people who put the emotions of others into words.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried while watching tv or movies as much as I did during this show. That’s not to say that Violet Evergarden is really sad, but rather, it’s so emotionally beautiful. Auto Memory Dolls are, more or less, stenographers whose primary function is to faithfully interpret and document the emotions of others. Essentially the show is about this young soldier trying to understand things like love and loss – emotions that she has long since cut herself off from – by interpreting the emotions of others. Every episode we witness the pain and joy of the people she visits, all while following her on her own journey. The stories are both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and each one has a big effect on Violet. Watching her rebuild her heart brick by brick produces some of the most impactful and emotional scenes in anime I’ve ever seen. And beyond the subject matter, this show was without a doubt the most visually stunning show of the year. Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) is renown for the beauty of their products, and this one certainly lives up to the reputation. A feast for the eyes as well as the heart.
A former soldier learns of hidden
gold. He joins forces with a girl from a native tribe, and they start a
wild journey in search of the gold.
description is the bare bones synopsis, so let me just say, Golden Kamuy is a
wild ass ride. It’s got a huge cast, exciting action, hilarious moments,
delicious food, and a lot of suspense. It’s a rollercoaster of adventure,
set against the backdrop of early 1900’s Japanese wilderness. Sometimes
it’ll feel like you’re watching The Revenant, other times it’ll feel like a
damn cooking show. What’s most surprising is that the series manages to
hold itself together with all of this, and not collapse under its own
weight. There really is something for everyone in this show, especially
if you like wide-ranging stories where a lot of moving pieces come
together. It also helps that this series has what might be the best
villain I’ve ever seen in anime. It’s fucking good.
2. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
A high school student learns that
his classmate is sometimes invisible to others. Upon investigating, more
peculiar events occur.
short, this show is as if the sci-fi series Fringe was crossed with slice of
life anime. The long version, is that Bunny Girl Senpai is a great and
honest look at puberty and the stressful social situations young people find
themselves in. The main plot of the show is about fringe science
phenomena brought on by the emotions and bodies of teenagers. Someone
being invisible to others because people stopped paying attention to them,
someone reliving the same day because they’re emotionally stuck, etc. And
although the scientific justifications can sometimes be groan-inducing, the
overall story and metaphors are highly relatable. The characters also
have a lot of personality and chemistry. The interactions between the
main girl and guy are especially entertaining. And just when you think
it’s going to be another high school harem show, it pulls the rug out from
under you and drops you into a nuanced emotional situation. It’s simply
Place Further Than The Universe
Mari wants to do something
interesting with her life. She meets Shirase, who wishes to go to
Antarctica to find her mom.
was an easy choice for number 1, as it’s the greatest emotional journey I’ve
been on in years (anime or not). Each of the four main girls is on her
own quest for self-discovery, and seeing them help each other get there was
something I quickly found myself invested in. Each character is
compelling, sympathetic, and flawed. And the main cast’s chemistry
together produces some of the most fulfilling moments I’ve ever experienced in
media. There are lots of different kinds of cries out there, and this
show gave me the best “good cry” I’ve ever had. It destroyed me, then
rebuilt me. But it’s also funny! Right when you need it, it hits
you with a humorous exchange or gut-busting gag. I can’t recommend this
show enough. It’s a beautiful tale of searching for one’s identity, and
helping others do the same. Even if you don’t like anime, you’d should
watch this one.
So, that’s my list! How does it stack up for you?
What’s your list? There were some shows during the year that I didn’t
watch that I’m going to go back to, that might be in other people’s top ten,
but overall I’m very satisfied with my list.
I’m excited to see what new series come out in 2019!