2018 only has a little over a week left before it departs, leaving behind a huge year for anime. We’ve seen a LOT of major mainstream shows return for new seasons but we’ve also had some low-key shows come up and stake their claim to the spotlight as well. This column is going to talk about my PERSONAL best and worst shows I’ve seen from this year.

Obviously, I can’t rank and rate every show that came out because I am only one man and cannot watch it all by myself. Plus, I only watch shows that interest me based off of their premise. If there is a show I didn’t talk about in here, it’s simply because I didn’t watch it for one reason or another. It could be that I didn’t watch the previous seasons, or it just didn’t interest me from its initial offering. Feel free to add your own personal entries in the comments section below!

So, to start off, what shows did I watch this year? Here’s the complete list:

Violet Evergarden
Citrus
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
Karaki Jouzu no Takagi-san
Beatless
Boku no Hero Academia III
Steins;Gate 0
Tokyo Ghoul:re
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii
Attack on Titan III
Banana Fish
Happy Sugar Life
Hi Score Girl
Sword Art Online: Alicization
Fairy Tail: Final
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

I’ll do a quick comment on all of these shows but first, we’ll just jump right into the big moment here. What was my favorite show out of this entire year?

SHOW OF THE YEAR

Well… I will say that out of all of these shows, two of them battled it out for my number one spot… and I’ll give you a hint. Neither of them were sequels nor were they considered mainstream titles! So that eliminates shows like Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online, Steins;Gate 0 (GASP!!!), and Fairy Tail right off the bat.

Yes… you read that right… Steins;Gate 0… the continuance of my favorite anime of all-time, was NOT my anime of the year!

It boiled down to these two shows: Violet Evergarden and Banana Fish. With that being said. The anime which took home my coveted number one spot of the year was….

Violet Evergarden

I feel like this is 2016 all over again. By that, I mean an anime that came out at the very beginning of the year was the one that ended up being anime of the year for me. Of course, in 2016, that honor went to Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED). Here, It goes to Violet Evergarden.

I will admit that this show started off slow. So slow in fact that I almost considered dropping it because I was getting pretty bored of it. I began to stockpile episodes without watching them, saving them for a day where I needed to kill some time. I almost considered moving them all to the Recycle Bin but I decided to go ahead and give it a chance… and I immediately proceeded to slap myself for even considering on dropping this show.

Yes… Violet is a very monotone character with little emotions but she was that way by design. She was a war tool who knew nothing but battle and she lived her life through orders from her commanding officer. Adjusting to civilian life and learning about emotions was a foreign concept to her but she got to travel the world and experience all of this first-hand. The show became about experiencing the tragic lives of others and seeing Violet grow to understand what human emotion truly was. Then, her past came back to haunt her but here she was… someone that had grown into something more than a war tool. A human being with sentient thought. Although the story is unfinished, it was simply a well-told story with breathtaking visuals. Kyoto Animation really did an amazing job with this show and to think that this was a Netflix exclusive, it meant that this show really set the bar high for that platform.

Banana Fish can’t be discounted. While the premise of that show is INSANELY different than Violet Evergarden, it gave me the same joy of wanting to see more and more of it. The difference here is that Banana Fish hooked me from the very start. I didn’t need to contemplate watching this show on a weekly basis… I simply dove right in as soon as the episode came out. So why did a show like this not make my number one spot?

Simple… Banana Fish was more about a compelling, action-oriented story where you expect some shocking moments to happen. Some of the moments in the show felt more like plot devices that were nothing more than an eventuality rather than something that felt natural or unexpected. The show had a great premise and a wonderful story mixed with great action but I still felt that the show had its flaws. That’s not to say Violet Evergarden didn’t have flaws, but Violet Evergarden connected with me on a more emotional level than Banana Fish did. That’s why I picked it.

Both shows are must-watch, in my opinion, though.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR

With the Show of the Year out of the way, what was the worst anime that I watched this year? Just like with Show of the Year, this one came down to two shows: Beatless and Tokyo Ghoul:re.

The winner (or is it loser in this case?) is….

Beatless

Beatless initially hooked me because the synopsis painted a picture of an amazing concept. Any show that’s about artificial intelligence, I’m all for… unless it’s poorly executed like Beatless. I gave this show a chance… I really did, but the difference between Beatless and Tokyo Ghoul:re is that I didn’t drop Tokyo Ghoul:re before it got to the halfway point of the season. As of this writing, Tokyo Ghoul:re still has one more episode to go but I’ve seen enough to where I could probably write a scathing review of it simply for all of the obvious problems with the show.

Beatless, on the other hand, I can’t write a full review because I refused to finish it. An action anime that focused a lot on boring slice-of-life situations was slow-paced enough as it is but then it decided that every 4-5 episodes, it would take a one-week break and throw in a recap episode. Not to mention that the show couldn’t even finish out the season. It pulled a God Eater and aired the last four episodes (or was it six? I can’t really care too much to remember the exact number) SIX MONTHS later. It had to take a six-month break to finish its season! I know how the anime industry operates with budgets and outsourcing, and almost but not quite slave labor but that’s still not a good look for a show that does nothing to really get you interested outside of its catchy opening theme song.

When the opening is more entertaining than your actual show, you know something is wrong.

In the case of Tokyo Ghoul:re, it’s the obvious: a piss-poor adaptation of the source material. On the bright side, at least they followed it this time, right? The original Tokyo Ghoul had some parts that were rushed and some parts that Pierrot took liberties with. Root A was just a “welp.. let’s just forget the manga exists and do our own thing.” This was a very bad idea because now when Tokyo Ghoul:re started airing, they followed the manga so things that happened in Root A (like Hide dying and magically being alive again) made ZERO SENSE to an anime-only watcher. Even manga readers were left baffled and confused!

Maybe it’s the fact that by the time they reached Episode 10, they blew through nearly SEVENTY CHAPTERS of the manga. Yes… that’s almost EIGHT VOLUMES in 10 episodes. The fight with Arima spanned Volumes 7 and 8 in the manga and they ended that in about half an episode. That’s breakneck fast pacing and it did zero favors to this show.

If Sui Ishida could just go to another anime studio and have them re-adapt this manga properly.. that would be fantastic but I doubt that’s going to happen. This isn’t Fullmetal Alchemist we’re talking about here, after all. There will be no Tokyo Ghoul Brotherhood.

QUICK RUNDOWNS

As for the rest of the shows I watched this year, here are some quick notes on them

Citrus

Mei! Mei! Mei! Mei! Mei! Mei! Mei! Mei! Mei!

Seriously, though. Good yuri anime. A LOT better than 2017’s Netsuzou TRap -NTR-. Still, got sick of listening to Mei’s name get barked every five seconds though. Watch it if you like Yuri shows.

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Manga is good, although slow-paced. That made me nervous about the anime adaptation and yeah… the manga just doesn’t translate well to television. Stick to the manga… it’s better.

Teasing Master Takagi-san

It’s a funny and cute anime at first but then the running joke of Takagi getting crapped on just gets old. I ended up dropping it because it just couldn’t hold my attention for the full duration. Good show to fill in some time gaps but not one I would recommend a marathon of.

My Hero Academia Season 3

I keep my ideals sorezore… *ahem*. Yeah… I’m in love with that UVERworld opening. Hell, I just like UVERworld period. Loved them ever since I heard Gekidou… the fourth opening to D.Gray-man. Oh, and the anime is fantastic, too though. Still don’t think it should have swept the Crunchyroll awards, but still a great watch! Gigguk is right on this one… it’s not a shonen anime… it’s a superhero drama with shonen tendencies!

Steins;Gate 0

Love Steins;Gate to death. I think I would have enjoyed this one more had I not played the visual novel first. This is a prime example of why I would prefer to watch an anime first and then read/watch/play the source material. Some of the best moments didn’t even make the cut and I couldn’t help but draw comparisons. Arkada of Glass Reflection has an amazing breakdown of why this adaptation failed in the way that it did. You should check it out. Despite the adaptation issues, I still think this is a must-watch for Steins;Gate fans.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

FANTASTIC SHOW! Why? BECAUSE NO KIRITO! Seriously, it’s amazing what happens when you take fresh, new characters, throw them into the SAO version of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, and just go to town with it. Compelling story, compelling characters, and great action was the result. This was the saving grace of the SAO franchise and it’s really sad that it took a SPINOFF to do that.

WotaKoi: Love is Hard for Otaku

Now THIS is what a geek romance anime should be. Anime otaku gets together with video game otaku and the two of them hang out with like-minded people from work. You’d think there would be clashes in their relationship over their interests but their relationship just works. It’s a really charming show that will put a smile on your face. Plus, all of those geek culture references! This is what geek romance should be and this show has set the bar high for this genre!

Attack on Titan III

To be continued in 2019….. ugh

Hi Score Girl

Wait? What did I say about WotaKoi setting the bar? Oh yeah… Hi Score Girl jumped it! So… the odd CG might turn some people off, but if you like geek romance heavily embedded into the 1990’s Capcom-dominated arcade scene, then this show will deliver more than you could ever expect! I don’t think it’s really fair to compare WotaKoi and Hi Score Girl because while they both have the same core genre, they’re presented in two completely different ways. Each one has their own unique charm but they do have one thing in common: they both showed 2017’s Gamers!  how it’s done!

Sword Art Online: Alicization

We’re approaching the halfway point of this show. Someone wake me when it’s over. Seriously, though… SAO:A hasn’t really held my interest all that much. Sure, there’s some good action in it but the action is very short-lived. Then there was that creepy rape scene that Reki Kawahara has to personally apologize for… yeesh. I don’t know… something about Alicization isn’t really doing it for me. I hope the second half gets better because this is painfully average… even by SAO standards

Fairy Tail: Final

It’s Fairy Tail. ‘Nuff said. This also serves as a reminder that I need to read the sequel manga. I still haven’t kept up with it.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

I have a feeling I’ll be including this in my Best of 2019 column as well. We’re almost 90 episodes in and I’m still highly entertained by it. I didn’t think an original Naruto anime could hold my interests and while they have adapted parts from the manga to stretch things, I’m still enjoying a lot of the original content. It’s just a fun anime to watch.

2019 AND BEYOND

Before I wrap this up. People often wonder what I’m going to be watching in the upcoming seasons. I won’t comment on them (that’s what my first reactions are for) but here’s a list of shows that I am locked in to watch starting next month in January. Some of these shows have not been confirmed for 2019 yet (hence the “and Beyond” part)

The Rise of the Shield Hero
Domestic na Kanojo
Revisions
W’z
One Punch Man II
Attack on Titan III-2
Hitoribocchi no Seikatsu
Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO
Boku no Hero Academia IV
Made in Abyss II
Mekakucity Reload
Black Fox

As more shows get announced/confirmed, I’ll check out them out which means this list should certainly grow.

That’s going to do it. 2018 had some big-time anime shows in it. I know a lot of people were excited for shows like Full Metal Panic IV, and Index III. Oddly enough, I saw season one of both of those shows but never really continued them. Hence why I didn’t watch them this year. I should go back and rectify that one of these days.

Hopefully, 2018 brought some great moments for you as well! I’ll see you next month as we kick off 2019!

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture.Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.