Now that 2018 is officially over, it’s time for our yearly foray into annoying everyone with our questionable opinions, the Best of Anime 2018 post. As with last year, this year’s iteration will continue being written by one writer. Through a complete hiatus from blogging and other real-life obligations that made this year my busiest yet, I still managed to watch approximately ~80 series this year, and while I won’t guarantee total objectivity (like such a thing exists), I’d say I’m generally well-informed about whatever I’m wrong about. That said, I will be attempting to take a multitude of picks across the spectrum for each category to make up for the lack of a second opinion. What this means is that you may not see as many repeat winners this time around as you would otherwise, so mileage may vary here more than previous years.

Continuing from last year, there are numerous categories in the following areas: Production, Miscellaneous, Genre, and Notable Others. Due to lack of series candidates, the lack of involvement of specific writers that specialized in certain categories, and/or the belief that I may not have watched enough shows to make an informed decision about specific genres, some categories have been omitted from previous years. This includes the Soundtrack, Plot Twist, Underappreciated, and Exceeded Expectations categories. Added back to this year’s post are the Animation (tweaked to include overall visuals) and Disappointment categories.

Encoding and videos for the OP/ED/Song categories were done by Xumbra, who will be retiring from encoding following his many contributions over the last decade. So here’s a shout out (thanks!) for him and everything he does for the site behind the scenes, especially in regards to not only this post, but the PVs that you found in each of the seasonal previews as well. It goes without saying that Xumbra will be missed, as will all the cage jokes that came with him. Included at the end are the final results of the Reader’s Choice Poll.

Disclaimer: As always, disclaimers abound. Please keep in mind that “best” is subjective. What’s best for us isn’t necessarily best for you, and that’s perfectly fine. This list shouldn’t be taken as some kind of inviolable truth, but rather the opinions of a guy who had too much time on his hands and spent it conjuring up a list of picks based on all the anime they watched. Naturally, my choices will be influenced by my own tastes, experiences, and personal impressions, and these are just recommendations, nothing more and nothing less. Before you go bashing one of my choices, please make sure you’ve at least given the series a chance so you may know where we’re coming from. Aside from that, we ask that you respect our opinions and the opinions of others in the comments, just like we respect yours. Thank you.

Disclaimer #2: The choices in this post are not reflective of the opinions of all Random Curiosity writers. They are solely the opinions of myself (Zephyr), save for where otherwise noted. Thank you for your understanding.

Note: For a show to be considered, it has to have met the requirements outlined in the Reader’s Choice Poll. For OVAs/movies, the additional requirement is that it’s been either released on BD or DVD, so that viewers outside of Japan have had a chance to watch it.



Visuals and fluid movement. It’s all about the quality of what we see on screen and what impressed us the most. To a certain degree, character designs and overall art style fall into this category too.

Known for their ability to produce breathtaking visuals, Kyoto Animation comes up big with yet another winner in Violet Evergarden. Critically acclaimed and much discussed—Violet Evergarden stole the hearts of its viewers with its dramatic story, memorable soundtrack, notable heroine, and amazing visuals. The series likely would’ve succeeded even without the visual prowess of KyoAni behind it, but having such stunning backdrops only made the Evergarden experience that much more special, especially when it served to emphasize the world’s different locales and the many stories that came from them. Rounding out the category are a variety of series that either impressed in a similar manner (overall visual excellence), provided its own unique artistic style, or had fluid movement reflective of tremendous effort being put into its animation.

Honorable Mentions: Free!: Dive to the Future, Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Kaikou, Mahoutsukai no Yome


As the somewhat polar opposite to what’s on the surface, here we’re looking at depth and what captivated us from start to finish. You don’t need amazing visuals to tell a good story, so it’s about the original material (if any) and the screenwriter’s adaptation of it here. Good cliffhangers that keep you on the edge of your seat week after week suggest the series is doing something right, whereas filler-esque showings don’t.

As with any year, picking a memorable story was a difficult task. I came into this post with Steins;Gate 0 in mind on the merits of its dramatic plot twists and time-travel shenanigans, and ended up putting it as the winner here for a few days. After some careful consideration and discussions with others however, I have come to the conclusion that there were better overall candidates, and 3-gatsu no Lion Second Season replaces Steins;Gate 0 here as 2018’s new best story winner. It wasn’t as flashy as many of the other series here, but that’s the beauty of 3-gatsu no Lion Second Season in a nutshell—it didn’t need it, choosing to forego theatrics and thrills with personal tales and a singular focus on its characters. Through Rei’s continued climb as a Shogi player, Hina’s dealings with the bullies at her school, and Yanagihara’s continued fight as the last hope of his generation, this was a series whose characters provided all the drama and development needed to keep you invested, culminating in an emotional payoff that rivaled that of many other candidates here. Ultimately though, this was a year where many of the series were very close however, and it’s important to note that many of the honorable mentions could’ve won this category depending on personal preference—including heartwarming series like Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, the crime thriller Banana Fish, the magical Mahoutsukai no Yome, and the tear-inducing Violet Evergarden to name a few.

Honorable Mentions: Banana Fish, Mahoutsukai no Yome, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, Steins;Gate 0, Violet Evergarden

Opening & Ending Sequence

Whether for its originality or ability to showcase what a series has to offer, opening sequences are always fun to watch. We tend to look forward to new ones and the songs that will be featured in them, and sometimes get a glimpse at what’s coming up in the show too (for better or worse). Here, the focus is on the sequence itself, even though the song may play a part in making it memorable.

Unlike opening sequences, endings don’t strive to draw the viewer in and get them psyched up about the episode that’s coming up. Instead, they’re an outro to what you’ve just seen and may highlight a specific aspect/emotion of the series, though sometimes they’re completely irrelevant to the actual story and are just an outlet for sheer fun/comedic value. Whichever the case, there are certain sequences that we enjoyed more than others.

[flv:Best%20of%20Anime%202018/Violet_Evergarden_OP.mp4 Best%20of%20Anime%202018/Violet_Evergarden_OP.jpg 355 200] Violet Evergarden OP [Official MV]

It seems like just yesterday that TRUE made her stage name debut with the opening theme to Buddy Complex. It’s been a gradual and much deserved rise to stardom for her since, as she followed up with themes to series like Hibike! Euphonium and Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans. Despite her many memorable compositions, her theme for Violet Evergarden arguably comes in as her best, showcasing the strength of her vocals while also demonstrating her ability to diversify into different types of compositions. The song’s lyrics being a perfect representation of Violet’s journey only serves to sweeten the cake, combining with a simple, yet breathtaking sequence to make this an opening that I didn’t dare to skip and re-watched multiple times on a weekly basis. That said, I’m admittedly biased toward this song given the opportunity to hear it performed live just a few weeks ago, so mileage will definitely vary here. As with previous years, this category will likely be known more for the omissions I had to make due to pick limitations more than anything—including the openings to Beatless, Full Metal Panic: Invisible Victory, Grand Blue, Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara, Yuru Camp△ to name a few.

Honorable Mentions w/ [Official MV]:

[flv:Best%20of%20Anime%202018/Sora_yori_mo_Tooi_Basho_ED.mp4 Best%20of%20Anime%202018/Sora_yori_mo_Tooi_Basho_ED.jpg 355 200] Sora yori mo Tooi Basho ED

Sometimes simpler is better, and in the case of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho this holds especially true. The sequence itself isn’t much—it’s just a montage of moving images with no character movement or complex animation—but it does everything it has to, providing one of the catchiest themes of the year while tying it to heartwarming (see “adorable”) backdrops that made you reflect fondly on the episode you just finished and the series as a whole. Notably, you’ll note that none of the characters or penguins are ever shown alone, and there’s much to be said about how a fitting ending sequence that compliments the show does so much more than one that just looks good or has a song with powerful vocals. With that said, there were many great ending sequences this year, and like with the opening sequences, this category will likely also be known more for the omissions I had to make—including the endings to 3-gatsu no Lion Second Season, Hataraku Saibou, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara, Steins;Gate 0, Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii to name a few.

Honorable Mentions w/ [Official MV]:


With the sequences covered, the attention is now on the actual songs. Insert songs are also up for consideration, with the only real criteria being that it’s something we never got tired of listening to. There’s no bearing on if it was created specifically for a series or even if the series was any good, we’re simply picking some of our favorite songs that were featured in an anime.

[flv:Best%20of%20Anime%202018/Uchiage_Hanabi_INS.mp4 Best%20of%20Anime%202018/Uchiage_Hanabi_INS.jpg 355 200] Uchiage Hanabi – “打上花火” (DAOKO × 米津玄師)

When it comes to the best songs, some of the themes I often find myself remembering are the openings to Kakumeiki Valvrave from 2013. The series wasn’t the greatest, but it managed to bring together legendary vocalists T.M.Revolution and Mizuki Nana for not only one, but two of the most notable duets in recent memory. It goes to show that you don’t have to have a great series to have spectacular themes and this is a category I love because it lets me mention and look for themes that may have been overlooked because it was in a series that was disliked or otherwise unpopular. With that in mind, it’s only fitting that this year’s winner is a duet that also comes from a movie that never met the high expectations placed upon it. I couldn’t mention the theme in last year’s post because the BD/DVD didn’t release until this year, but now that is has, I get a chance to share one of my personal favorites from the past few years, and the duet by DAOKO x Kenshi Yonezu really speaks for itself—especially once you hit 2:40 and the song’s climax kicks in. Rounding out the category are a series of themes that follow a similar pattern of coming from underwhelming or underappreciated series, and here’s hoping that with the variety of songs I picked here, at least one song here manages to catch your eye or make you interested in either the show it came from or at least the soundtrack behind it.

Honorable Mentions:Rise” (Harukana Receive EP1 Insert), “Anno Domini” (Mahoutsukai no Yome EP8 Insert), “Button” (ReLIFE: Kanketsu-hen OP), “Gate of Steiner” (Steins;Gate 0 EP23 ED), “Won’t Forget You” (Tokyo Ghoul:re EP24 Insert)



Branching away from strictly picking series and focusing on some specifics is the idea behind the miscellaneous section. The first one is our favorite character, who won his or her way into our hearts for whatever reason. The criteria here is somewhat loose, but with numerous options in a single series, multiplied by almost a hundred in the past year, it’s actually quite difficult to pick one above all others. Be that as it may…

Talk about having a boat load of notable characters. We had All Might: the literal symbol of peace, the man at the center of one of the most memorable scenes in anime this year, and a guide just trying passing the torch to the next generation. We had Okabe Rintarou: the man whose journeys through time were just as notable as the physical and psychological pain he had to overcome. We had Violet Evergarden: the heroine who grew leaps and bounds with each new experience while showing us a beautiful coming of age tale. We also had the “immortal” Sugimoto: the man whose exploits in Golden Kamuy made the series much better than I ever anticipated given his raw skill and his always hilarious interactions with Asirpa. All things considered, Ash Lynx pales to the other characters when it comes to the magnitude of their feats, but there’s something refreshing about a character who was just a regular human, but managed to carve himself a place in a world filled with nothing but guns, drugs, and illegal trafficking. This was a kid who grew up as a child prostitute and sex toy for a mafia boss but used the time and resources he was given to lead a gang at 17 and take the fight right back to him. Add in some run ins with the triads and other local gangs, and this was someone who just didn’t have any business accomplishing anything close to the things he did. Yet, despite losing friends and getting injured multiple times in the process, he persevered and made Banana Fish one of this year’s most thrilling shows as a result, making him a character worth remembering for his exploits and the relationships he had with the rest of the cast.

Honorable Mentions: All Might (Boku no Hero Academia 3), Okabe Rintarou (Steins;Gate 0), Sugimoto Saichi (Golden Kamuy), Violet Evergarden (Violet Evergarden)


This may be part of a plot twist or something you see coming a mile away, but we’re concerned about the impact the death has on the story and us as viewers. Well-executed screenplay leading up to it may play a big part, but there are also cases where a character dies so suddenly that we’re left in complete disbelief. In both cases, it’s the lingering impression we’re basing our selection on.

Show Death Picks ▼



Action, action, and more action! The action genre ranges anywhere from shounen-crazed series to war-filled mecha shows. For battles, choreography plays a huge role, so that was definitely taken into consideration.

With League of Villains’ rise and the continued decline of All Might on the horizon, you knew heading into Boku no Hero Academia 3 that this was the season where things would really start to go down. What many anime-only viewers didn’t realize was that it would culminate in not one, but two especially amazing fights—the first of which yielded one of this year’s most memorable moments. Without going too much into spoilers, let’s just say that a certain smash involving the United States was involved, and it’s likely that you heard people talking about how crazy it was to see it play out even if you weren’t watching the series at the time. Following things up an epic clash between sworn rivals only added to the adrenaline rush, and this was an action packed season for the ages as the symbolic torch passed from one generation to the other. Interesting enough, many of 2018’s notable action series candidates revolved around old school mecha combat, meaning that one’s mileage would have varied considerably for this genre depending on your affinity for them.

Honorable Mentions: Banana Fish, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Kaikou, SSSS.Gridman


Emotion-filled romance at its finest. The relationship between characters and the emotions involved are the appeal, and the main criteria for selecting a series here. A sentimental story is always good, with tear-jerking scenes being a plus. This is the series that had the best romantic mood from the character interactions to the big confession.

2018 was interesting in that many of its romances were atypical in presentation or pairing choice. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni and Mahoutsukai no Yome had protagonists with large age gaps, and the latter starts off with one partner literally buying the other off the black market. Darling in the Franxx and Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai were the more traditional candidates in this regard, and it was hard picking a winner because each series had its own appeal despite a few having elements that some may have found… disagreeable. With that said, I came in expecting to pick Koi wa Ameagari no You ni on the basis of it being a romance story that wasn’t so much about the romance between its protagonists as it was their interactions pushing them to rediscover old passions. What I ended up settling on instead was Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai and it’s a choice that came down to me feeling that the series was the most consistent in its narrative and natural in its romantic developments. For all the appeal Mahoutsukai no Yome had in its magical backdrop and all the dramatic buildup Darling in the Franxx had with its romance, the former felt more like a fantasy with romance added on and the latter actually suffered from being a bit over dramatic, with a certain episode literally driving some of its viewers crazy. Tada-kun felt like the series that represented the genre the best as a result, although there are definitely arguments that can to be made against it. When you get down to it, I think its this category that ends up being this year’s most difficult to agree on, and you’d really be hard pressed to find any actual consensus here given the fact that many of the genre’s candidates also crossed into other genres.

Honorable Mentions: Darling in the Franxx, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, Mahoutsukai no Yome


A lot of good series out there depict an emotion-filled story where the romance comes secondary, if at all. Strong depictions of friendship and in challenging situations can really draw a viewer into the story and start making them sympathize with the characters. It’s a bit of an all-encompassing genre, but only a handful of series really pull viewers in with their screenplay.

Given how well 3-gatsu no Lion handled drama in its previous season, it reasoned that its second would do the same. What I didn’t expect was a season that did things even better than the first, and this was a season that built on existing foundations by supplementing its shogi focus with a more personal touch. By showing Hina’s dealing with class bullies, Yanagihara’s position as the last hope of those he used to play with, and Souya’s own personal burdens—we were shown a new side to the drama behind their respective lives and gained a new found respect for the characters and the situations they’ve had to overcome. More importantly, we were able to see how Kiriyama decided to make himself available to either help or just listen to their respective problems. It goes to show just how much he’s grown throughout the series and 3-gatsu no Lion’s Second Season wasn’t so much about the drama as it was a story of the growth that’s come from it. With that said, there were many quality dramas in this year’s repertoire, with Violet Evergarden coming in as a very notable second here.

Honorable Mentions: Banana Fish, Megalo Box, Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara, Violet Evergarden, Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou


When it comes to science fiction, a futuristic world with advanced technology, robots, space travel, and superhuman abilities is the usual connotation. However, that’s not the only setting that fits this genre. Sometimes all a series has to do is play up a single sci-fi aspect and do it well to go down as an excellent sci-fi series.

There’s a bit of irony in the fact that in a year we don’t have any mainline Gundam series, we ended up getting a ton of mecha series that utilized the same old-school mecha combat and/or political intrigue mix that Gundam was known for. This was a great year for a particular sub-set of Sci-Fi fans as a result, though viewers of the original Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu would likely disagree with the inclusion of the franchise’s “modern remake” as a series worth watching (compared to the original). Either way, Steins;Gate 0 comes in as this year’s easy pick for best Sci-Fi, and there’s not much to say here that hasn’t already been said by others. Its predecessor was one of the best series we’ve had in the last decade, yet Steins;Gate 0 occasionally managed to match and sometimes exceed the drama and excitement of the original, while introducing a new timeline that was arguably even darker than the original. The fact that many viewers loved the series despite already knowing how some things would play out showcased just how exceptional the series was, and this was truly a treat for fans of the franchise and the genre in general, giving us a real benchmark on how to make a good time-travel story. In terms of omissions, A.I.C.O. Incarnation comes in as a series that’s worth at least mentioning, as it was better than I thought it would be despite having its share of pacing and developmental issues. With the likely increase in Netflix original content in the future, it’s important not to go sleeping on releases from them given the tremendous investment they’re putting into original content.

Honorable Mentions: Darling in the Franxx, Full Metal Panic: Invisible Victory, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Kaikou, SSSS.Gridman


The best horror shows are those that incite visceral feelings of shock, fear, and pulse-pounding dread. Gore is not a necessity for this genre, as there’s always psychological thrillers that are just as gripping if not more. However, those that can provide both an unsettling atmosphere and a good scare are even better.

Ah yes, goblins. Those nasty little things that look a lot worse than they actually are. They’re just trash for the low level adventurers to take care of aren’t they? Yeah well, that’s how things would normally be. If you’re in the Goblin Slayer universe though, you’ve got something else coming—poisonous arrows, endless torture, and all sorts of brutality to be exact—and I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t expect anything like what I saw those first few episodes. I can’t imagine goblins the same way I did before as a result, and even if I could, I don’t think I’ll be getting that heavy metal accompaniment out of my head anytime soon. I suspect that my impressions of the series won’t be as high years down the line given that much of the series’ initial shock value played a large part in its enjoyment, but for now, the fact that it managed to do what it did on its initial run makes it a winner for this category in my book—narrowly inching out underappreciated crime thriller Banana Fish. I’ll say, this would’ve been a very interesting category had Shingeki no Kyojin Third Season finished in its entirety to count for this year.

Honorable Mentions: Banana Fish, Devilman Crybaby, Megalo Box


Where science fiction seeks to explain the remarkable happenings of its universe via technology and logic, fantasy is less concerned with that. Wizards, dragons, and Tolkien-esque adventures are what usually come to mind, but those aren’t mandatory. As long as the focus is less on what makes the world tick and more on using magic and wonder to tell a story, it’s probably a fantasy tale you’re looking at.

As much as I would’ve liked to pick Violet Evergarden here on the basis of its alternative history and beautiful backdrops, when it comes to being the best representative of the genre, Mahoutsukai no Yome was just a better fantasy. With magic playing a core part in everything and a world that was essentially a fairy tale at times—albeit sometimes with a darker twist—Mahoutsukai no Yome ticks off the fantasy checklist like few others have in the past few years. Adding in a romantic undertone between its protagonists only served to heighten that fairy tale vibe, and this was a fantasy that made full use of its magical backdrop to develop its respective subplots and leave its viewers in awe of the author’s imagined world and their representation of creatures such as fairies, phoenixes, and dragons. To say that Mahoutsukai no Yome was a magical experience—pun intended—would be an understatement, and while 2018 was sadly lacking in quantity in the fantasy department, I’m glad that between this, Overlord III, Violet Evergarden, the ones we did have ended up quite enjoyable.

Honorable Mentions: Lost Song, Overlord III, Violet Evergarden


The ability to make you laugh until you cry – that’s probably the number one criteria when selecting a comedy of the year. From everything to sheer stupidity, quirky characters, and timely comedic pauses to perverted fun, elaborate setups, and witty jokes, it’s the lighthearted nature and humorous entertainment value of these series that we love.

As they say, the early bird gets the worm. 2018 was notable for having almost all of its best comedies arrive in the first half of the year, including early winter sequels like Dagashi Kashi 2, Osomatsu-san 2, Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan 2. While sequels were plenty and just as funny as their predecessors, it’s the newcomer in Hinamatsuri that takes the cake as this year’s best comedy. I mean, to start off with a whole Terminator introduction sequence and psychic powered beat down of an entire organization? That was comedy gold. Add in quality voice acting from Nakajima Yoshiki and Tanaka Takako, some deadpan humor, slapstick routines, satire, and black comedy? Yeah, things only got better from there. You could get a ball of laughs from pretty much every show here though, so you really couldn’t lose when it came to comedies this year—especially given that there were so many candidates I expanded the Honorable Mentions past their usual 5 just to include them.

Honorable Mentions: Asobi Asobase, Dagashi Kashi 2, Hoozuki no Reitetsu 2nd Season, Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san, Osomatsu-san 2, Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan 2, Zombieland Saga

Romantic Comedy

The romantic comedy genre separates itself from the individual romance and comedy ones by teasing us with potential relationships but never quite settling on one. Instead, the enjoyment comes from the character interactions themselves, often – but not always – in harem-like scenarios.

You thought this was just a series about a girl wearing a bunny suit didn’t you? You thought wrong. OK, well technically the girl is a a big part of the story, but the bunny suit—jokes aside, the rom-com genre has gone through some rough times over the past few years, and Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai comes in as the series that bucks the trend a bit. With a lovable cast of characters mixed in with all kinds of Sci-Fi/supernatural shenanigans, the premise may not have been anything we haven’t seen before, but how they put everything together made the series special in its own way. This was a show whose characters just clicked from the very beginning, luring us into its world by starting off with one of the most ridiculous confessions in recent memory. With each arc came a new focus character that just added to the chemistry of the cast and this was a show that I made sure to save time for just to see its witty character interactions. Having a catchy opening only made things better, and in ways, the series takes after Monogatari and Oregairu in some regards. Given how much I loved the aforementioned, I think you can tell how much fun I had watching Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai to mention them in the same sentence, and this was truly an example of how important it is not to judge a series by its cover, as what we got was a rom-com worth remembering and one of the better shows of the year period.

Honorable Mentions: High Score Girl, Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii

Slice of Life

A laid-back series with no reliance on heavily gimmicky plot devices nor a constantly progressing storyline is what this genre stands for. The character interactions themselves in an otherwise “normal” setting are the highlight, along with any incidental humor that results from them. A lot of times, they’re just really cute and innocent happenings, and that’s exactly what makes a good slice of life series.

As with previous years, slice of life comes as the most loaded category of the year, giving us over a dozen candidates worth watching. Despite the many candidates, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho arrives as this year’s easy winner, sending us over to the far reaches of Antarctica to deliver a feel good story for the ages. Hands down one of this year’s best series overall, we followed our main quartet as they took a plunge into the unknown and came back with tears in our eyes as they used the expedition as an opportunity to overcome personal challenges and bring closure to their respective pasts. This wasn’t just your average slice of life where you followed a cast around and occasionally laughed along with their shenanigans. It was a series that made you invest in its characters and think about taking a moment to appreciate the simpler things in life. At the same time, it was almost like a challenge to its viewers, telling us that it was OK to step out of our comfort zones and do something different once in a while—judgment or silliness be damned. All the while, it did an amazing job showing the inherent beauty of nature while showcasing the difficulties of setting up camp in a place as inhospitable as Antarctica, and there really aren’t enough words to say how well Sora yori mo Tooi Basho worked as both a slice of life and something much, much more. Yuru Camp △ comes in as a very close second on the merits of its similar focus on enjoying the simpler things in life and rounding things off are notable omissions—which include Miira no Kaikata, Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san, Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori, Slow Start, Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san, and Zombieland Saga to name a few.

Honorable Mentions: 3-gatsu no Lion Second Season, Grand Blue, Hataraku Saibou, Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san, Yuru Camp △

Category Defying

Also known as the Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita Memorial Award, this is the category for those shows that deserve to be on this list, even if we don’t have a clue where they should go. Many series cross into multiple genres, which is why you see shows being featured in multiple categories in this section. These series defy genre. They twist and squirm, evading our attempts to label them and are just themselves, as well as good. This is the category for shows that deserve recognition, even if we aren’t rightly sure what they were.

So imagine you’re hiding a treasure you don’t want anyone to have. You’re planning to grab it once you get out of prison, but until then, you figure it’s best to leave a map for yourself so you don’t forget where you put it. It seems straight forward until you decide that the best way to make sure the map doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to tattoo parts of the map to the backs of a bunch of other convicts. Now we got a bunch of people going around skinning people so they can piece together the map. Add in a really, really old Hijikata Toshizou and a man who claims to be immortal, and there’s no way a show like this would work, would it? Yeah, I didn’t think so either—that is until I watched Golden Kamuy and loved every minute of it. For whatever reason, the show just works despite its ridiculous plot line and array of over the top characters. There’s an adventure to be had here—mixed in with a ton of plot twists and the occasional poop joke—and while it avoids being neatly described by just a singular category or genre, don’t let that or the occasional use of terrible CGI fool you into thinking that this show isn’t worth a try. Rounding out the category is Free!: Dive to the Future, which warrants a mention on the merits of it being a series that wouldn’t have otherwise been mentioned *due to the omission of the sports genre from the post.

Honorable Mentions: Free!: Dive to the Future*

Notable Others

Biggest Disappointment

The pitfall of excessive hype and anticipation for anything is the disappointment that results when things don’t meet expectations. With regards to anime, this is doubly true when a series has precedent established by its original and a sequel falls incomparably short. At times it’s only a small letdown, but sometimes we’re left wondering what we did to deserve sitting through it. We’re not looking for the worst series of the year here, but the biggest disparity between expectations going in and way the series turned out.

You know a show’s bad when I had to bring back the category just to mention it here. Tokyo Ghoul:re was just that bad and it’s a real pity considering that its first season was actually tolerable coming off the heels of the disaster that was √A. Sure, there were problems with pacing resulting from a clear decision to end the season on a very particular part, but it wasn’t bad enough that things couldn’t be salvaged with a proper second season. In hindsight, I don’t know why I expected they’d actually do things right here given the series’ adaptation history, but I suppose that I couldn’t have predicted just how big of a train wreck we’d get. To suddenly try and go through the rest of the series in a mere 12 episodes? To say that this was an insult to fans of the franchise would be putting it lightly. If it were some other line of work, people would be out of jobs for the kind of half-assed adaptation we received, and there are no words to express the disappointment that I (and likely many others) felt with how this series and franchise as a whole was handled. I would’ve rather have had no adaptation than see what we ended up getting here—a steaming pile of trash that left non-manga viewers lost and wasted everybody’s time. Rounding out the category is Beatless, a series that actually picked up toward its latter half to the point where it was arguably worth watching, but disappointed nonetheless in its initial build up and the lengthy investment required for its ultimate payoff. Amanchu! Advance comes in as a near inclusion, as the sudden incorporation of the supernatural and fairy-tale elements made it a sequel that paled considerably to the original.

Honorable Mentions: Beatless

And Finally…

Best Anime 2018

The be-all, end-all of the year. This pick is always a hotbed of controversy, so here’s the exact criteria we used to make it: if we were to meet an anime fan for the first time and they were to ask us to recommend a show that aired in 2018, what would it be? Without knowing the person’s tastes, we would naturally default to the show that did the most things right, one that had wide appeal and deserved it, that had superb animation and told its story well, and above all else, that we enjoyed. The winner of this category should be a high anticipation show that supremely deserved it, or a dark horse that blew everyone out of the water. This is subjective as hell, but you can find a list of our best picks below.

As with previous years, the best narratives tend to be my best picks as well, and 2018 ends up the same in this regard. What is surprising however, is that I’m not picking the series I put for best story (3-gatsu no Lion Second Season) and I’m also passing on other top genre candidates and popular series like 3-gatsu no Lion Second Season, Boku no Hero Academia 3, and Violet Evergarden. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho was just that special. No, it didn’t have anything flashy, any supernatural twists, and the world wasn’t at risk of imploding if the protagonist failed to do what they needed to do. What it did have was an uncompromising vision and the most heart. This was a series that knew what it wanted to show and how it wanted to show it. Rather than relying on anything excessively dramatic or superficial, it let nature speak for itself—showing off its inherent beauty while never forgetting about its potential dangers. All the while, it gave us an unforgettable journey with a quartet that weren’t particularly special by themselves, but came together to become something more and conquer a place where few have gone to before. This was an tale of self-discovery, success, and overcoming obstacles. It was a challenge to its viewers to enjoy the simpler things in life, while not be fearful of stepping outside one’s comfort zone regardless of the potential ridicule or judgment. More importantly, it was a series whose emotional payoff was second to none, resulting from heartwarming and genuine interactions that showcased not only proper character development, but emphasized how much dedication was put into the series. This was a series that was truly memorable in many ways and the fact that it initially aired a long time ago in the winter yet still remains a fond memory is just another testament to that.

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order): 3-gatsu no Lion Second Season, Banana Fish, Boku no Hero Academia 3, Golden Kamuy, Hinamatsuri, Mahoutsukai no Yome, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, SSSS.Gridman, Steins;Gate 0, Violet Evergarden, Yuru Camp △

Best OVA/Movie 2018

The same as above, except for the not-regularly-broadcasted offerings. These aren’t covered very often on the site, but we’ve each had the pleasure of watching enough to find some that really caught our eyes.

In a year that didn’t have a masterpiece in the same vein as last year’s Kimi no Na Wa, I felt that for the most part, many of the candidates here were similar in terms of their overall impact and excellence. Personal preference plays a bigger part here compared to other years as a result, and with the expectation that there won’t be any real consensus on a best OVA/Movie, I settled on Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarou as my personal pick. There were pacing issues, questionable developments, and the dramatic style was reminiscent of Okada Mari’s previous works—but when you consider that it was her debut directorial work, it was promising start in terms of its setting, general plot, and animation/soundtrack accompaniment. I don’t think it wouldn’t have won this category if it were in any other year, but credit should still be given to a movie that was generally solid and worth watching, if not just to see the gorgeous world she created as the movie’s backdrop. Also, the fact that it wasn’t stylistically the same her previous works—there were less plot twists and dramatic flair—showed a willingness to diverge from her usual formula, making her future works something worth looking out for. Aside from that, you couldn’t really go wrong with any of the other good/great candidates here, with Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower giving us yet another (but perhaps the best) take on the Fate/stay night universe, No Game No Life Zero giving us another exciting glimpse at a universe we may never get to revisit (where art thou, second season?), and ReLIFE: Kanketsu-hen giving us a heartwarming—albeit delayed and brief—conclusion to what was a great and underrated series.

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order): Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya: Sekka no Chikai, Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower, Liz to Aoi Tori, No Game No Life Zero, ReLIFE: Kanketsu-hen

Reader’s Choice – Favorite Anime 2018

Your choice for 2018. With everyone allowed to pick up to five series, we have a pretty nice spread of results. In exchange for finding out if there was one series that everyone would’ve picked with a single vote, we have a much better idea of the other ones you enjoyed. The top choice is still pretty unquestionable though, since it was good enough to make it into the majority of your top 5 picks.

The Top 5:
Boku no Hero Academia 3 – 6.2%
Violet Evergarden – 5.49%
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho – 4.83%
Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai – 4.63%
Goblin Slayer – 4.23%
Here are the full results.

The votes have been tallied and Boku no Hero Academia 3 comes in as the Reader’s Choice for Best Anime of 2018. Given its popularity and the fact that this season gave us two of the franchise’s best moments—that’s saying something given how many great moments we’ve already had the previous two seasons—it’s not a particularly surprising win, and I don’t think that many will have too many qualms with at least putting it in their top 5 or 10 regardless of personal preference. Rounding out the remaining spots are other popular picks in Violet Evergarden, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, and Goblin Slayer—all of whom really speak for themselves as series that were great throughout their run and deserve their many accolades. Ultimately, there wasn’t much in terms of surprises, although I didn’t expect Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai to garner as much votes as it did and in the opposite sense, I had expected both Steins;Gate 0 and SSSS.Gridman to fare better than they did.

Reader’s Choice – Favorite OVA/Movie 2018

Your OVA/Movie choice of 2018. As mentioned in the disclaimer above, the choices here were restricted to what’s been released on BD/DVD so that viewers outside of Japan have a chance of watching them and making an informed decision. It didn’t make sense to restrict such offerings to a small pool of voters this year and not have it up it for consideration in 2013, so if you wanted to vote for anything that premiered in theaters, you’ll get your chance next year.

The Top 5:
Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower – 12.0%
ReLIFE: Kanketsu-hen – 6.46%
Violet Evergarden: Kitto “Koi” wo Shiru Hi ga Kuru no Darou – 6.24%
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya: Sekka no Chikai – 5.07%
Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch – I, II, and III – 4.79%
Here are the full results.

It feels like with the release of Fate/Grand Order, the Fate franchise has become more popular than ever before. This past year gave us multiple movies, a multi-season TV series in Fate/Extra (though this one didn’t fare as well), and additional announcements for adaptations based on two of Fate/Grand Order’s most memorable singularities. As such, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise when two of the top five picks here ended up being those two aforementioned Fate movies, and they’re understandable picks given that they were the two best theatrical Fate releases to date and also ones that managed to reach the most amount of viewers given their simultaneous worldwide subbed release in theaters. ReLIFE: Kanketsu-hen comes in as much deserved honorable mention and similarly popular series, coming together with another popular winner in Violet Evergarden: Kitto “Koi” wo Shiru Hi ga Kuru no Darou. The Code Geass theatrical remakes round out the list as the last of the top 5, and I’m admittedly surprised at how high it placed given the tendency for remakes/recaps to not be nearly as well-liked, though I suppose it does make sense given how popular its original was and the expectation that re-watching some of its biggest plot points would set things up nicely for the upcoming sequel. Barely missing on the top 5 by less just two dozen votes at 6,7, and 8 respectively were my own personal picks in Liz to Aoi Tori, No Game No Life Zero, and Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarou (a.k.a. Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms).

When it comes down to it, 2018 may be remembered not for its new adaptations or original series, but for the many quality sequels we received. 3-gatsu no Lion, Boku no Hero Academia, Dagashi Kashi, Full Metal Panic, Overlord, Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan, Shokugeki no Souma, Steins;Gate, and Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru were just some of the series that received sequels worth talking about this year, and it just goes to show just how well received their original counterparts were, how well their worlds and characters were made, and/or how well that particular staff of people work together. At the same time though, it does makes you wonder—in the face of all the new adaptations and the many original series we’ve gotten in between the release of these sequels, what is it that continues to make them successful? Is it just because the same (or similar) staff tends to carry over into sequels? It is just because good stories tends to have a easier time maintaining a certain level of quality, especially when it comes to adaptations? Or could it be indicative of a problem with the quality of the content being made now? Either way, I just hope that a fine balance continues to be had in regards to making sequels and trying out something new/original/innovative.

With that said, this was a year that didn’t really save its best for last, and many of 2018’s consensus top 5 aired in the first quarter (if not, the first half) of the year. 3-gatsu no Lion Second Season and Mahoutsukai no Yome highlighted the pack as Fall 2017 carry overs, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, Violet Evergarden, and Yuru Camp △ arrived in the winter, and Boku no Hero Academia 3, Hinamatsuri, and Steins;Gate 0 following up in the spring. There were a handful of successes in the summer (Banana Fish) and fall (Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai), with a sprinkling of some good/great OVA/Movies in a year that otherwise didn’t offer any real masterpieces in that regard.

Genre-wise, 2018 was highlighted by the usual quality offerings in Slice of Life, while rounding things up with a good selection of Action, Comedy, and Drama. Romance/Romantic Comedies arrived with their own large selection of candidates, though mileage definitely varied more than usual on those categories, making its quite possible that some series that appealed to some people didn’t even make it watch lists of others. Sci-Fi and Fantasy had their own share of picks as well, though the former had more appeal to the sub-set of fans that like mecha combat and the latter had three good/great series in Mahoutsukai no Yome, Overlord III, and Violet Evergarden, but didn’t offer much else. Aside from that, Golden Kamuy came in as a series that straddled multiple categories, with Banana Fish and Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai likely being two of the bigger surprises of the year along with multiple category winner Sora yori mo Tooi Basho.

All in all, I think 2018 felt different from previous years because it felt very easy to differentiate its better/best shows from the rest and to come up with my top 10. I suppose in that respect it means that we had a lot more shows that were not as great as a result, and admittedly, there were a decent amount of series that were lackluster in between the good ones that were mentioned above. I can’t quite say it’s significant enough to represent a trend or anything given the tremendous amount of personal preference that goes into this thing, but at the very least I can say that 2019 should at least have a decent foundation to start off with given the quality of 2018 carry overs like JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze, Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken, Shingeki no Kyojin Third Season, and the ever popular Sword Art Online: Alicization.

On a more personal note, 2018 was a year that saw me become so busy that I didn’t blog a single series at all. Unfortunately that’s not expected to change (in fact it’ll probably become worse due to additional job requirements), so it’s likely that my blogging hiatus will continue for the foreseeable future. I’ll attempt to watch enough to get this post set up for next year regardless and I’ll also be continuing my contributions to the previews (at least in regards to the OVA/Movie lists), but it’ll be more difficult to do compared to previous years, and it’s highly likely that I may not be able to watch the same number of shows that I have been, so I apologize before hand if I end up omitting a series next year that you may have felt was worth considering.

Looking forward to 2019, I think it’s safe to say that “optimistic” is the buzzword once again, and here’s hoping that the carry overs from 2018 will set up a good foundation for the winter season. Last but not least, I’d just like to take a moment to say thanks once again to everyone that continues to visit Random Curiosity, and I hope that the new year brings with it your continued visits and good fortune.