Please note that this is not a Top 10 Best Anime of 2018 list. Rather, this is a list of the best anime I watched in 2018, as in it doesn’t have to have aired in 2018 to make it, only that I had to have finished (a majority of) it in 2018.
Last year, I discussed a, quoting myself, “anime renaissance” that I had back in 2016 after watching basically nothing in 2015. I surprised myself with how much I had watched in 2017, as it rivaled the quantity of anime viewed in 2014, my most since getting back into anime. 2018 is a different story. I viewed 37 anime this year, my lowest since 2015. Of those 37, 13 of them were films and one-episode OVAs, those of which do not qualify for this list (if so, this list would be full of films). So, I had 24 anime titles to work with for this list.
It was a little scattershot, but I think it turned out pretty well. Not quite scraping the bottom of the barrel. I’m not sure if I should be so proud of that. Nevertheless, the list begins.
10. Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!
We’re only scraping the bottom of the barrel a little bit with this one. Just a tad.
I hesitate to put this on my “Best of” list as I’m not actually too fond of it. What it does have up on others that could be included here (i.e. Violet Evergarden, Bunny-senpai) is that it overachieved my expectations of it. I have a bit of a fondness for it because it’s, at least according to MAL averages, kind of a shitty show to many. For me, it’s a decently enjoyable and, in some fashion, underrated title.
Almost a callback to my old taste in anime—back in 2013 or so—where I enjoyed light romantic comedies that highlighted hijinks over drama. I still enjoy these types of shows today, only I can’t really get over how trite they are (as well as the lack of meaningful development of relationships). KonoBijutsubu is something of a nice blend of old tastes within new eyes.
It’s a little dull, as I myself have said of it, but there are nice moments sprinkled within that have made me want to continue my experience with these middle school kids within their art club. The manga its based on is still currently being translated, and I will eventually get to reading that. If one is in the mood for a light, but somewhat impactful slice-of-life-esque experience, this is a decent pick.
9. Boku no Hero Academia (Season Three)
The non-use of the official cover image is intentional. I just like this image.
And a quick shout-out to Karandi of 100wordanime anime for agreeing to collab with me on this series. Go check her out! She updates, like, thirteen times a day!
I really liked the first two seasons of Boku no Hero Academia. The second season was better than the first, which I think suffered a little too much from the clichés of the genre. With those expectations set, I was hoping the third season would be even better. Unfortunately, it ended up slightly worse than the first season.
Not without some good spurts, the third season spent a little too much time dragging things out and focusing on the things I found ultimately inconsequential. The first… eight episodes, if I recall, were so dull that I almost wondered if the show would ever come out of it. This is part of the problem: the third season was very up-and-down quality-wise all throughout. Some episodes were phenomenal, but they were smashed in-between large gaps of very “meh” episodes.
What was good about the series—including various development of characters and basically anything to do with All Might—saves the season from being a complete disappointment, as well as having it make this list. That doesn’t mean the third season of this popular franchise won’t have the stigma of being underwhelming attached, however.
8. Aho Girl
The funny thing here is that while I enjoyed this series tremendously, I almost considered not putting it on this list. It’s just too stupid, like the entire series’s existence isn’t meant to be real. There are many aspects about this series that are so juvenile that I almost sneer at it from the clouds above, my mighty ego higher than all.
What makes this series so appealing to me is that, from what I can tell, it gives zero shits. All of the characters are made to parody various aspects of comedy material and partake in many situations that would absolutely never happen in real life. Watching this, I could feel my inner anarchist, resting deep within, wanting to dance its way into reality and have me shitpost everywhere just for the hell of it. That’s kind of what Aho Girl is: a shitpost.
All of the characters are pretty stupid—that being the main female’s shtick. The most practical of the bunch isn’t even really used for anything, as the series knows that wouldn’t be wise. She’s the straight-man role, only to be used sparingly. Watching the stupid characters play off each other is what makes this show great. It’s among the best pure comedy anime I’ve seen in a long while, and all it had to do was be fucking insane and juvenile.
7. Amaama to Inazuma
The irony is not lost on me that I go from an insane satirical comedy to a wholesome and pragmatic slice-of-life.
Sweetness & Lightning is a cozy little anime about eating food and spending time with your family. It’s so simple that the inevitable formulaic nature dawned on me pretty early on. Despite this, I looked forward to the interactions between the characters in this series. Well, I enjoyed the daughter character, because she’s
a popular archetype a sweet and hyper kid. This may not seem like much, but when the other characters consist of “generic male hero except a dad” and “docile teenage girl,” one takes what they can get.
By the end of the series, there was a nice sense of camaraderie between the characters (outside the father-daughter couple) that I started to care more about their reactions to the experiences rather than the experiences themselves. And the experiences, well, it’s basically that food is the best thing ever and brings everyone together, while other conflict occurs but is saved by food. Everything about this series revolves around food in an everyday way. I was kind of shocked by this going into it.
The most I can really say is that the series is very cute. It does well within the wholesome nature of human interaction (with food as the catalyst) to create empathy and relatable experiences. I’m no father myself, but I could find myself thinking about what I would do if I were in the position of the father character when things got a little tense with his daughter. The series must be doing something right if I’m imagining myself within it at any point (outside of wanting to insert myself to slap people silly).
6. Romeo x Juliet
I knew this anime existed some time ago, but I never thought I would actually watch it. I was prompted by a certain incident concerning a friend of mine and decided to give it a shot, knowing they were fond of it. I can see what they see in it.
While I would still argue it isn’t a great anime (sorry, friend), there is a lot of creativity and heart put into this two-cour piece that I wouldn’t have expected looking at it from the surface. Many times I’m one who sees a remake or retelling of any classic tale as a red flag. It took quite a while for me to be able to accept that things can be redone well, or that retelling may provide some interesting conclusions.
I’ve read the original Romeo & Juliet a couple times in my life, and there were a few things I immediately caught while watching this anime adaptation. However, from the very first minute, I knew this would definitely be an anime first and an English play second.
The story is almost a grand epic of opera-esque proportions. (Kind of like the play.) Kingdoms and some magical force that keeps everything stable. It almost gets too crazy to be at all serious, but there’s a nice atmosphere to it at all, as well as adequate build-up, that ensures at least partial believability. Many characters are at least tolerable and their motivations feel real. I think as a romance, this anime is somewhat faulty, but as an action/adventure, it’s really good. Give it a shot, regardless of one’s knowledge of Shakespeare.
5. Asobi Asobase
This series is kind of like Aho Girl, except there is a much heavier focus on Le MeMe FaCeS. This is the case early on, anyway, with the series continuing to devolve into much darker territory.
What made this series more intriguing to me was how ruthless it was in its range of comedy. Some jokes are downright disgusting, while some were bathed within irony and satire. Whether juvenile, witty, dark, or obscenely creepy, this series is kind of unpredictable. The heavy dose of kooky faces in the first few episodes made me hesitant, but it eventually grew on me, as this series did. Every episode was just a thrill to watch, mostly because I wasn’t sure what they’d do.
I also liked the fact that this series was willing to do away with a mostly empathetic nature that basically 99% of anime employ. This series is pretty apathetic, with the main trio constantly backstabbing one another for personal gain on an episodic basis. This darkness immediately becomes an interest point for those wanting something outside the typical accidents and ignorant goofs that a lot of comedy anime rely on. A lot more of the humor in Asobi Asobase is predicated on a girl’s selfishness or laziness or whatever else.
It’s definitely not for everyone. The style of comedy can be a little unnerving and may disgust people, at worst. Putting it all together, I think there’s more than enough here to qualify it as a recommendable viewing for most, though perhaps more for veterans. I certainly enjoyed it quite a bit.
Anzu makes this series what it is. I don’t even care about anyone else (not actually true). Anzu is the absolute best.
Anzu is an amazing character who starts off as a dumb “I’ll show you!” rival character who stands no chance against Hina. She eventually becomes a completely developed character thanks to hobos who teach her the value of companionship and an optimistic look on life. Damn it, why couldn’t they have made an entire series about Anzu and the homeless folks?
Outside of Anzu, the series is pretty okay. Not usually funny (anime is almost never funny to me anyway), but pretty charming in its weirdness. I tend to like weird things. Within this weirdness is a wholesomeness that transcends this series from a pointless comedy to an impactful message of interpersonal relationships and growing up. And then they ruin it with comedy. Oh, that’s a problem.
I really think this anime would be much better if they cut down on the comedy. As it didn’t, there’s a lot of missing potential for something completely impactful—the comedy taking one out of the mood for cheap giggles. It’s still a pretty good series despite this, only it could’ve been bigger, stronger, and faster, too. It’s the seventh member of the Kapodaco Top 10 Best Anime Viewed in 2018 List™. Get it? Cheap giggles? You’re not giggling anyway.
I won’t say much here because anything I could say would basically be repeating what I said in my initial thought post.
I watched this show for the first times many, many years ago. I rewatched it for the first time this year. Normally, rewatches don’t count for these lists, but if it spans a decade, I’m willing to overlook it.
There’s a lot of energy to this show, a lot of chaos. A common theme to this list so far is that these shows have been insane or different in an extreme fashion. FLCL basically has this down to a formula. It has a lot of symbolism throughout that makes reference to a lot of general human anxieties… and is really weird. Enjoyable and deep; the only argument is how deep. It’s pretty good.
2. Devilman Crybaby
Netflix also has a huge stigma around it for me, for whatever reason. If it’s exclusive to Netflix, that probably means it’s shitty. It always makes me hesitant. With Devilman Crybaby, my risk was rewarded.
I had heard two things about this anime going into it: sex and violence. It is rampant in both of these aspects, which, honestly, made me even more skeptical of it. What I wasn’t aware of was just how methodical this series is. Storytelling seems to be a real selling point with this series, though that shouldn’t really surprise me with its manga adaptation. A real focus for the anime is hinting at bigger things, with a lot of biblical messaging and the impact of higher powers on humanity.
More than anything, I think Devilman Crybaby is interesting. There’s quite a bit I thought about as the series went along, especially near the end. And on the topic of its ending, it completely threw me off guard. Everything I would’ve expected from any other anime happened in the exact opposite fashion. The nonstop sex and violence end up being something of a somber point in it all, and that’s fascinating.
So, essentially, this anime is much deeper than the murmurs make it out to be. One could definitely call it pretentious, though personally, I find it to be engaging and wonderfully thought-provoking. I just like series that take chances. It makes me feel better when I decide to take chances.
1. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
The undisputed winner and the incredibly obvious choice for #1 on this list. This has become one of my favorite anime ever and, with some level of exaggeration, is better than everything ever.
I mean, there’s almost nothing wrong with it. It hits home for me in a lot of ways. The characters are all lovable and play off each other wonderfully. It feels real. It feels relatable. It feels like people actually had a story they wanted to tell. It’s wholesome and emotional and riveting. I adore it so much and it’s a great piece of fiction.
Go watch it. If you’re not satisfied with the heaven-high expectations I’m placing into your thought process, you’re probably just not trying hard enough. In any case, I love the series, and I think anyone struggling with the burden of dreams will, too. What’s there to lose?
The rating for these titles and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.