This Week in Anime
The Best and Worst of 2018
by The TWIA Crew,
Another year of anime has come and gone, leaving so many memories in its wake. This week, Nick, Micchy, Andy, and Steve break down the highs and lows of their 2018 experience.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Not Safe For Work warning for content and language.
Hey, Steve. Micchy and Andy are stuck marathoning Baki while we get to relax over the holidays. Now's our chance to talk about them behind their backs.
Finally it's their turn to suffer. Nothing for me to do but sip on this nog. Ahhhh~
HEARD U WERE TALKIN SHIT?
OH. Uh. Hi.
Look, if you thought you had vanquished the Heybot! menace, then I got news for ya pal.
And here I thought I got assigned Baki as a gift from Hobo Father Christmas.
Well hmm, this isn't usually how this works. But I suppose while we're all here—and I know this sounds crazy, but bear with me—maybe we should talk about anime?
This is entirely too many people to talk about one show tbh.
I thought we were gonna make a nativity with Micchy in the manger, but I suppose we could talk about anime instead.
I'm going to pretend you didn't say that. I suggest we all look back at this whole year of anime, which certainly had its ups and downs!
Some downs more recent than others...
I think we've thoroughly documented the lows of 2018.
Now let's not forget that 2018 kicked off with an instant classic in DEVILMAN crybaby! Man, that was early in the days of our Netflix dump tradition, so it's hard to believe that it premiered less than a year ago.
Yeah, let's start with the good stuff, for the sake of all our sanity. And wow it does not feel like Crybaby came out this year. 2018 has been a trip. Kinda funny how maybe the first anime I watched this year ended up being one of the year's best.
In hindsight, 2018 kinda blew its load early. Like there are very few things that could even come close to topping Crybaby this year.
My brain keeps trying to tell me it was the best of 2017, but I think that's only because it doesn't want to admit 2018 peaked so fast.
It's the Masaaki Yuasa magic.
For reals tho, I was a little late to the Crybaby train, but I'm damn glad I made time to catch up on it between all the other anime this year. Yuasa's vision of the '70s classic managed to feel new and relevant while also retaining much of the original's spirit.
I hate spiders and I still love Miki-2.
I hate monster girls and I still love Miki-2.
No monster girl will ever be as bad as any of the weird little sisters you ended up watching.
But yeah, DEVILMAN crybaby is the kind of singular creation that comes along so rarely, and I'd recommend it to anyone who can stomach the sheer amount of blood & fucks it features.
There are just a few moments out of the entire year that stuck with me as hard as moments in Devilman. Both Yuasa-original stuff like the heartbreakingly gorgeous motorcycle scene at the end of episode 9 and the choice to go all-in on the original manga's ending. It's necessary viewing imo.
and of course:
Ah yes, Bob Epic Team.
I fuckin' swear PTE didn't happen this year. It feels at once ancient and timeless.
It definitely feels more like an anomaly where our universe briefly intersected with another one than an anime that aired on television.
That's because it's still airing right now.
Andy, how dare you.
Bkub will not stop until all anime is corrupted. And that's probably for the best.
I'm willing to embrace this future if it means Netflix dumps will now have a required amount of Pop Team Epic.
Though in the case of ImoImo, I'm not sure you can corrupt something that was already evil incarnate.
If it means more legendary segments like Hellshake Yano, I'm all in favor of infinite Pop Team Epic. Just man, what a work of art. A straight adaptation of Pop Team Epic would've been weird enough, but it went above and beyond in sheer creativity, showing that there can be an art to shitposting.
Seriously, it's incredible that they managed to make the anime adaptation work as well as it did, embracing the anarchic aesthetic completely by letting the animators just go hog wild.
It has completely raised the bar for 4-koma adaptations, by which I mean it has already traveled to the future, murdered all the competition, and buried the bodies so deep that we'll be digging up the offal for years to come.
And let's not forget that horse racing special it had where Heybot was a My Little Pony. Truly, PTE was the pinnacle of cursed.
No actually, I'd like to forget that.
c o l l e c t i v e l y f o r g e t t i n g t h a t
Too late, I'm already making arrangements to have that played at all of our funerals.
Speaking of forgetting, I almost forgot to mention a show that totally took me by surprise this year: Garo -Vanishing Line-
Man, that's one of the shows I regret not finishing. Someday, though!
Vanishing Line didn't quite make my top five, but I gotta give it credit for taking the basic premise of Garo (knights hunting supernatural manifestations of human folly) and turning it into an indictment of techbro-driven late capitalism.
I completely missed the boat on Vanishing Line. I never finished the original Garo: Sex Dad, and for some reason that stopped me from checking this new one out.
There are certainly more consistent shows, but few things this year have stayed with me like watching the "villain" of the show realize his escapist tech utopia was built on top of a literal foundation of corpses.
Okay, but enough about Amazon.
Plus on a purely aesthetic level, it's maybe my favorite thing MAPPA's ever made. That whole finale is bonkers.
That finale features triple axolotl vore, and if that's not worthy of recognition then I don't know what is.
Yeah, that sounds like Garo alright.
Speaking of which, 2018 was a strong year for vore. We got more Attack on Titan, Slime Isekai, and probably the most explicit one, Dragon Pilot.
I say this a lot but I still don't say it enough: god bless Mari Okada.
And what a year for her in particular! We also got her directorial debut, Maquia, which I know made at least three of us cry in the theater for two hours straight.
Boy do not get me started on Maquia. If I was judging purely by how much of my body weight was shed in tears, that film would be my #1 with a bullet. There are few things as cathartic and mortifying as crying in the back of an arthouse theater while three old ladies on a knitting club field trip sit right in front of you. And for that experience I am very thankful to Mari Okada.
I'm gonna pretend that story ends with the knitting club turning around and handing you a tiny Maquia they made during the movie.
I mean, it's pretty wild that anime movies screen in enough places now that we got to see it. If you told me five years ago that I'd be going to theaters for this stuff on the regular, I would've laughed in your face.
Yeah I was about to say, it's really freaking cool how we're getting all of these theatrical runs for anime films. Even if a lot of them are limited, this is above and beyond anything I grew up with. And I hope it continues to expand!
I sadly didn't catch Maquia but I fully agree. I managed to see multiple anime films at a local theater in the midwest. That's astounding and I hope whatever black magic the industry is working continues to work.
Besides Maquia, I'm so grateful I got the chance to see quite possibly my favorite film of the year in theaters—the exceptionally gorgeous and exceptionally gay Liz and the Blue Bird.
Unfortunately, I never got around to seeing that one during its run. I missed out on a lot this year, since I missed The Night is Short Walk On, Girl too. I really should make time for more films, because there's nothing quite like watching a movie in a room with a bunch of other anime fans.
Oh yeah, Night is Short screened this year too! I saw it in 2017, so I completely forgot to put it on my list, but seeing it at a con with a room full of anime nerds was easily one of my best theater experiences ever.
Oh right, we did see that together! AnimeFest 2017 was wild.
Night is Short is wonderful and I know it's technically a 2017 film, but Devilman is barely a 2018 thing, so I'm more than willing to call it a wash and declare Yuasa the best director of the year.
I couldn't possibly complain about that assessment.
Pshaw. Y'all with your fancy artsy movies with subtitles. The REAL best viewing experience of the year was seeing the MHA movie in a theater packed full of the most hyped fans I've ever seen.
I can second this, and I know the kids are gonna be alright when I see them that happy to be watching anime.
Hell, MHA in general just had an explosive year. Between the movie and season 3, it was a smorgasbord for my Bakugo-stanning heart.
Yeah, season 3 really went some spine-chillingly great places. And a lot of them were on Toga Street.
I'm not fond of the fact that season 3 ended on naked buff Tintin. Now whenever I think about MHA, this is the image that pops into my head.
Oh don't worry, you'll get your fill of Tintin next season. Y'all anime-onlys are in for a ride next fall.
That's just what I love to hear.
Though as powerful as MHA was this year, I can't say it's my favorite either. That title was unexpectedly usurped by this wonderful cat and his terrible mouth.
Nya. (TL: "yes i wholeheartedly agree.")
Hell yes Mizukami and his horrifying monster cat.
And let's not forget the maid voiced by Heybot!
Planet With manages to do more in 13 episodes than most series can do in 50, and does so while absolutely nailing both its themes and character writing.
I talked about Planet With so much this year and I still feel like I could go on about it for another five columns, just discussing what it has to say about violence and empathy, but I'll just say that nothing—not Crybaby or A Place Further Than the Universe or Gridman—managed to hit me like Planet With's finale. I will die for Mizukami.
I wish I could bear to watch Planet With. Unfortunately, I'm still too traumatized by Heybot! to listen to that voice for more than two seconds.
It's a highly idiosyncratic show that won't work for everyone, but even if it doesn't, you can always READ SPIRIT CIRCLE.
It's def one of the year's best, but I wanna circle back to A Place Further Than the Universe for a moment, because I think its climax also deserves praise for being able to induce Pavlovian tears in me with a single screencap.
I too tear up when I look at my work email on Mondays.
I too tear up when the penguins are not on screen.
Atsuko Ishizuka had been on my radar for a while, so I'm really glad she finally got to direct something unequivocally excellent.
It was a nice surprise that we got a show about high school girls that actually cared about who they are as people. And penguins. I cannot overstate how important Penguins are to me.
Thanks guys, I'm feeling things now. Speaking of which, here's one that you probably wouldn't expect on a best-of list: To Be Heroine.
I can confidently say that nobody else will have that on their list.
Yeah, because only five people watched it.
i can't imagine why
Is this collateral damage from watching all of Heybot!? You can't watch Planet With but your brain allows this?
Look, To Be Heroine is about adolescent anxieties, reaching out to people in need, the evils of corporate greed, and also underpants.
Yeah like, we joke, but I went from being pretty dismissive of TBH to genuinely getting invested in it. It's not something for everyone, but I'm grateful it exists.
Every synopsis makes it sound like this mindless raunchy cartoon, but it also has a hell of a bleeding heart. And that's what I come to anime for! I love the medium for both over-the-top goofiness and sincere emotional drama, and that's To Be Heroine to a T.
Also I frankly don't see where Steve gets off scoffing at anything when he and I both watched a 15-episode Jeff The Killer self-insert romance fanfic.
It was 16 episodes, thank you very much. I love me some trash, and Angels of Death was some of the year's best. Completely bonkers premise with some sag in the middle, but it followed through in the end with spectacular trashy finesse. Also sometimes you just wanna hear Nobuhiko Okamoto swear a lot.
Now that I can respect.
Speaking of trash, this probably won't be what many people consider one of the year's finest ventures, but few shows were as consistently entertaining as Gun Gale Online, which like Angels of Death, is another anime about loving someone so much you have to kill them.
It sure was nice to get one good SAO anime this year. And nothing else.
Super awesome to not have any discourse tire fires, like SAO, or Goblin Slayer, or DARLING in the FRANXX. None of those things happened, nope nope.
Before we do, can I just give a shoutout to all this year's reboots? I know that sounds like garbage, but we got reimaginings of Devilman, Gridman, Kitaro, and Ashita no Joe this year, and it's crazy how good they all were.
Oh I will gladly talk about Kitaro instead of any of the garbage I sat through this year.
The show literally starts by immediately murdering a youtuber.
Meanwhile, Megalobox is one of those really awesome things that didn't make it on my top-of-the-year list but deserves to be remembered nonetheless. I feel like it fell out of the conversation pretty quickly after it ended, but it's too good to just let go like that.
Megalobox kicked so much ass. It's an aesthetic tour-de-force about dudes punching dudes. Simple, effective, and iconic. Absolutely one of my favorites.
Thankfully, it's on Toonami now and it really is a perfect fit for the block. It will probably still fall into some amount of obscurity, but I won't be surprised if I hear interviews with artists or athletes years down the line where it's offhandedly mentioned.
Also one of the year's best OPs.
The ED is nothing to scoff at either. I will stan Emi Nakamuri til the end of time.
Both are great but for pure musical effectiveness, nothing stands up to Gridman's ridiculous OST.
Man, how is anime so good?
I love anime.
I don't wanna say too much about Gridman since it just ended, and a lot of the magic comes from riding along with it, but holy crap Gridman. What a show. Anime is so good, guys.
Yeah, anime is so grea--
There's the answer to the Worst Of question. It's SisWriter. It was always destined to be SisWriter.
I dunno, Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody also aired this year, and that one had slavery going for it.
I feel like isekai slavery is going to be an ongoing trend in our miserable future.
Well, that's future TWIA's problem, not ours.
Isekai needs to get its shit together.
Honestly, I usually just watch things that I expect to pan out, so with few exceptions I've been fairly blessed by TWIA standards.
Yeah, I don't want to let the bad drag down what was overall a super-interesting year for anime. I feel like I didn't even get to cover everything that stood out to me in 2018. There was Kakegurui, the new FLCL series, Phantom in the Twilight, and by god I will find a platform some day to gush about the Macross Delta movie.
In the meantime, Nick, maybe you'll watch that copy of Batman Ninja I got you, because everyone deserves to witness bat bat monkey monkey batmonkey Batman Ninja.
Man, and I just caught up with Bloom Into You today, which ripped my heart out several times over, so I'm definitely not leaving 2018 wanting for more good anime to watch. And 2019 is shaping up to be ridiculously strong. Basically my feeling on this year boils down to my feeling on every year: there's just too much anime. Please help.
There really was too much! I almost forgot to mention Hinamatsuri, which was a delight every episode.
Same goes for Aggretsuko, which just dropped a Christmas special recently.
There was a ton of cool shit this year, and next year is shaping up to match it. Like I'm already hyped for The Promised Neverland to destroy y'all.
SARAZANMAI or bust, binch!
Please look forward to meeting my Pig Son in Kimetsu no Yaiba.
And a partridge in a pear tree!
Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year from all of us at This Week in Anime!
Be sure to share your favorite anime memories of 2018 with us in the forums!
discuss this in the forum (26 posts) |