It’s hard to believe, but another year has passed. We’ve seen some downright excellent seasons of anime and some that were a bit leaner in terms of quality. On top of that there have been some excellent films and OVAs dropping throughout the year. A fun part of trying to determine a Top 10 list is figuring out what makes the cut and where all the quality shows were. It is a great chance to look back on the year and remember the highlights. 2018 really started off strong with great Winter and Spring seasons of anime. They set a standard that was honestly tough for the rest of the year to keep up with.
This is also a rare year where the films really demanded consideration for this list. It isn’t easy for these to crack into my top 10 lists normally since they have stiff competition. It is just hard for a film lasting an hour or two to compete with shows that get 12 or more episodes to flesh themselves out. And in this case I’m just going to consider series that had episodes in 2018 or may have hit theaters in 2017, but didn’t become available to be subbed and watched outside of theaters in Japan. If the first chance I had to talk about it was this year then you can bet it’s earning the chance to be on my list.
As always this is a completely subjective list. I’m sure someone could breakdown a top 10 list of the most technically proficient shows or movies with the best quality of writing. But I’m not going to be that person. This is completely about what left an impact on me. This is both about remembering the variety of shows we got this season and letting people know about series they might have simply missed.
10. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Winter)
I did not expect this show to be so good or to pull me in like it did. The very premise of a highschool girl falling in love with a middle aged restaurant manager seems ripe for failing in some way or another. Instead we got a show that treated the characters with respect. This series really took the time to make you feel the weight of this girl’s feelings. You got to see the nervousness, the awkwardness, and just the giddy excitement she felt. This show handled issues of significant sport injuries, how people deal with falling short of their dreams or having them potentially ripped away, friendships that drift apart, and yes the unease of this 17 year old honestly falling in love with a man in his 40s. This show was visually stunning, the music just elevated scenes, and especially early on it just wowed me.
9. Nanatsu no Taizai: Imashime no Fukkatsu (Winter)
I’d been looking forward to this season for quite a while. The Taizai franchise has worked for me in having really likable characters, interesting power sets, and quite the diverse cast in terms of species. This season is just where everything goes to hell for the main characters. A force far more terrifying than anything before hits and this whole season is about trying to deal with that. This season gives some great moments to support characters like Jericho and just further develops the Ban storyline more. That focus is a big bonus for this show since he is one of my favorite characters in the cast. This season continues to develop the world more and introduces one of the more awesome characters in the franchise. It was a lot of fun even if I liked some storylines more than others.
8. Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (Spring)
This show really surprised me. I didn’t expect to enjoy the SAO spinoff so much. However the exploits of the Pink Devil were surprisingly fun. Things did get a bit serious near the end, but for most of it the show was pretty well pure fun. Llenn was a really likable lead who had understandable motivations and issues. In an overall less serious situation than the usual SAO fare, this allowed for a bit more fun. You got to see various characters really differentiate themselves from their real world counterparts in terms of appearance. This show just came out strong with a first episode that had me hooked for the rest of the show. Visually the show was great to look at and the music was strong as I tend to expect from the SAO franchise at this point in time. Here’s hoping for another season.
I’m glad they did make this into a movie format. My thoughts on the movie say more than I can here. It is still shocking to me that my favorite incarnation of Emiya Shirou is from the Fate/Kaleid spinoff. With this being about 90 minutes long it wouldn’t have quite worked as a show. This movie had some enjoyable action, but also showed some great progression in Shirou. It was also Miyu’s movie, but this was primarily about Shirou becoming a person and deciding what was truly precious to him. This had great emotional moments, badass scenes, and good character growth. It was easily one of my top 10 anime experiences of the year.
6. Yuru Camp△ (Winter)
This was easily the most relaxing show to watch in 2018. There was nothing more comforting than sitting down, putting on Yuru Camp, and enjoying it. And all that is meant with the highest praise possible. There was just something comforting in watching these characters go out camping. The great thing was the variety of camping experiences. You got to see some solo camping with Rin, some paired camping with Rin and Nadeshiko, or just larger group camping. The show was pretty educational in explaining various camping gear, different types of sites, and even various camping meals that can be made. The OP/ED combo was one of the best for the whole year. With the OP you got a fun and upbeat intro and the ED was very calm and soothing. The characters were wonderful and it was just a great show. I didn’t want it to end.
I didn’t know quite what to expect from this one going in. The summary and the title didn’t quite sell me on this being one of the better shows of the season. And yet the end result was this show turning into one of the best of the year. It started off strong and delivered an emotional arc that made sure I’d be invested for the remainder of the show. Some arcs were more interesting to me than others, but they maintained a strong level of quality throughout. It was a show that tackled and examined some serious issues while infusing some supernatural elements to keep things interesting. The banter and personalities of the main pair just made sure I never lost interest. One of the more likable and entertaining anime couples of the year.
4. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Dear My Sister (Spring)
This was about as perfect an experience with this franchise as I could ask for. It was just a full hour of feel good moments with a great cast of characters. I just like this series as a whole. This was a nice condensed experience that focused on the connections between the main characters. A great strength for this franchise is how different pairs or trios of characters form out of this larger group. It isn’t just the same 3 or 4 characters spending time together, but connections being formed that go beyond grade, different schools, workplaces, etc. This was a cute and feel good OVA. Out of a lot of anime I watched this year…this was one of the best.
3. Boku no Hero Academia S3 (Spring)
It will be a shocking day when one of these seasons isn’t in my top 10 list. As usual this show just continues to deliver. I’m still extremely glad they decided to go the route of one or two cours per year instead of just trying to constantly be pumping out episodes. It really allows them to nail the quality. This season had one of my favorite showdowns of the entire show to this point and also pushed the story forward. The world really felt a significant change during this season. The previous seasons did progress things, but this one really changed the entire status quo. I’m excited to see where the show goes from here. But what I can say is that they really nailed the impact scenes with excellent animation and music. This was another excellent show and I had a blast watching it.
2. Fate/Extra: Last Encore (Winter)
This is one of those picks that perfectly reflects how this is an entirely subjective list. I know a ton of people didn’t care for this show or how they handled things. I do think that the attempt to make this show accessible for newcomers to Fate/Extra and good for players didn’t work. As someone who did play the game, I had an incredible time. It was so much fun for me to speculate about what was going on. I do think this is a show best seen after playing the game. But I think Shaft did a great job bringing their style to this series. The Saber for this show is one of my favorites in the franchise and seeing her in action was worthwhile. I honestly do think the story was an interesting one and built up nicely. I enjoyed the progression of the lead as a character.
1. No Game No Life: Zero (Winter)
Safe to say this left one of the biggest marks on me out of anything that came out this year. This film was just a powerful emotional journey from start to finish. It was essentially a prequel story for NGNL that established the setting and history of that world. The brutal history of that world was shown off and the battle to just create the world we saw in the main show was incredibly intense. In some ways it is tough to go back and rewatch something that was so darn intense. The movie looked great and had an extremely strong story. I cared about what was going on and what might happen to the main characters. Riku and Schwi were downright fantastic leads. This was a very intense ride that I won’t forget any time soon. It did more than enough to be my top pick.
This year started incredibly strong. Winter was a crazy ride whether it was from movies being released/subbed during those first few months or just the extremely high quality shows coming out. That was such a strong season that it just dominated my personal list for the rest of the year. Summer was a pretty lean season and Fall has a lot of longer term shows that are taking their time to build up since they’ll continued well into 2019. But Winter and Spring just threw everything out there. This season had very intense emotional picks, some mystery, action, and likable characters. Heck this year was a bit of a surprise for me in that some of those movies/OVAs ended up being some of the best parts of this year. Normally those options don’t quite crack the top 10.
I don’t know what 2019 has in store. There are some shows I expect to be right at the top of that year’s top 10 list, but we’ll have to wait and see. Here’s hoping though that the entirety of 2019 is overall strong. Some years are just going to be better than others, but I always hope there will be shows for everyone to enjoy. This list is very much about what stuck with me. There are weaknesses to plenty of the shows I got attached to this year. I’m also sure there are shows people would just put at the top of their lists that didn’t make my own. But it is fun to take a moment at the end of a long year to look back at what has come. I appreciate people taking time to read what I had to say about the anime of 2018.
Tags: Boku no Hero Academia S3, Fate/Extra: Last Encore, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Movie, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Movie: Oath Under Snow, Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? Dear My Sister, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, Nanatsu no Taizai: Imashime no Fukkatsu, No Game No Life -Zero-, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, Top Ten Anime Series of 2018, Yuru Camp
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