Greetings! My exploration of 2018 anime continues with a look at a few more series. Like the series I looked at in part 1, these series all something in common with each other. As we all know 2018 was a huge year for new entries in existing franchises. A lot of series made a triumphant return with some returning after almost a decade. For me, I got to see continuations of a few of my favorite franchises and that alone made my year. There were so many great returning franchises that of course it is impossible to discuss them all in any readable amount of time. However, these series were a return to glory for memorable franchises and were among my favorite from last year.

Full Metal Panic: Invisible Victory

I will start off by admitting that had never actually any of this franchise before 2018. When I saw the previews for this series combined with the online hype and the longtime desire to check out this series, I figured it was time to give the franchise a go. Full Metal Panic is an absolutely great franchise as I have previously discussed. So I won’t delve too much into what makes this series great. Invisible Victory does not disappoint in it’s continuation of it’s story. The latest season takes the tension and the drama that the series does so well and ramps up another notch. It also has major character growth for the one of the protagonists Sousuke and one on my favorite anime moments of the year in its final episode. Yes one could argue that the season was too short or shouldn’t of ended in the spot that it did, but for me that wasn’t an issue at all. I loved where the story went, the character development, and the fact that now we are on our way to the series’ climax. Up until this season the challenges that the characters faced were tough but manageable. With Invisible Victory, the odds are stacked against our characters with little hope of success. That is what makes the season so great is the way the stakes have been raised. I hope that the wait isn’t too long for the end of this story because wow it is damn good.

FLCL Progressive and Alternative

How can you follow up a series that is considered an all time classic? How can you take something that is so unique that it is hard to describe and follow it up a sequel? How can you do it well? These are all questions that we asked when the 2 new seasons of FLCL were announced. And honestly, we really had nothing to worry about. FLCL is one of the rare franchises in all of entertainment that can tell it’s story and it’s message in a mere 6 episodes. Progressive and Alternative both succeed in telling a bombastic, multi layered narrative while capturing the insanity of adolescence. Of course this atmosphere is aided by the absolutely amazing soundtrack by The Pillows who gratefully returned for the two seasons and one of the most fascinating characters in anime, Haruko. For me both of these series were absolutely brilliant. You were never going replicate the lightning strikes that the original series caused, instead you needed to give those series their own identity and that is something that both were successful with.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

The ever dreaded Sword Art Online franchise returned in 2018 with 2 new entries. And while the new season of the main story Alicization is certainly interesting, for me the pick of the two is Gun Gale Online. It really starts with the characters. In the series we finally get a protagonist that we can get behind in Karen/Llenn and an antagonist in Pitohui which can be menacing and a bit psychotic. The awesome battles and action scenes that SAO is known for is ever present but also you get a lot of characterization especially for our main character. The series finally explores why people game and why people would want immerse themselves in a game world. It is a well needed touch. There is a lot packed in this 12 episode series and while I certainly wanted more, I also didn’t feel cheated at all by the stories length which is something that is not commonplace for a 12 episode series. I will actually say that story of Gun Gale is probably my favorite in the SAO franchise and Karen/Llenn makes my list for best girls in anime.

Steins;Gate 0

 Yeah I am still working on my comprehensive post on the franchise and yeah it is taking me months to complete but finding the language to properly convey to you my thoughts on this amazing is certainly proving difficult. Steins;Gate is an absolute sci-fi classic and it would take an enormous effort to come up with a sequel (it’s not really a sequel but whatever) that would even come close to living up to the series. I will say that Steins;Gate 0 is certainly a worthy follow up to the classic franchise. The series manages to do something incredibly difficult with it’s narrative, telling a complete story while tying in to the events before and after the story takes place. The series asks a question- how did the characters get to the ending point of the original series? And in my mind it succeeded in answering that while giving us insights into many of it’s characters, introducing new memorable ones, and giving us the emotional suffering that we come to expect with the franchise including probably the most heartbreaking episode for me from last year with a certain couple. I will concede that the series is not quite as good as the original but for me the bar was so high that I’m not disappointed by that statement. Steins;Gate 0 is an absolute great follow up for those fans of the franchise.

My Hero Academia Season 3

Yes, I know. This show has been praised and discussed to death in recent years. It almost swept the Crunchyroll awards last year and is certainly drawing the ire of the hardcore anime fans who are sick of praising it. I however am not one of those people. The series is my mind just keeps getting better and better as it progresses. We had the best action sequence of the year in the All Might vs All for One fight. We came to like and appreciate characters that we maybe didn’t before. The narrative of the series keeps getting more and more grand, the stakes are always increasing, and the narrative keeps finding it’s groove. We also got to see more of how the world of MHA operates but in a way that feels natural. MHA found its footing in season 2 and now is running at full speed in season 3. We are now in the heart of it’s story and I can’t wait to see what comes next. I feel like we have something special with this series, something that we may not see again for a long time and the latest season is just another great entry in an amazing franchise.

A Certain Magical Index III

Ok come on, this one seemed a bit obvious for me didn’t it? This Index/Railgun universe has been one of my absolute favorites and to see the injustice of the way season 2 ended getting rectified finally is really great. And the season really hasn’t disappointed up to now. Fans have been treated to many great moments from a bad ass fight with Accelerator which is always worth the price of admission, Mikoto finally opening up a bit about her feeling to Touma (which was an absolute amazing scene), and Index being Index. For me to see more of the world of Academy City has been incredibly exciting. We got to really expand the To Aru world so far in season 3 and along the way getting to have more adventures with many awesome characters (It has been fun to see Itsuwa really get a lot of focus in the season). Again we have a series which is working it’s towards a grand climax and I am really curious to see where the narrative is going to go. I know many people have criticized this season of the franchise but for me it has been nothing but awesome to watch.

Over the last year, fans of many different franchises were granted their biggest wish, more content from the series they loved. There were a bunch of other series making their return that I didn’t discuss here such as Attack on Titan, Food Wars, and Seven Deadly Sins. These series certainly impressed me but these 6 that discussed here really stood out to me last year. I find myself again with a difficult choice, which series would I consider to be the best out of all these? On the one hand my loyalty to the Index/Railgun franchise runs deep, on the other there superb follow ups in FLCL, Steins;Gate 0 and Full Metal Panic. For me one of these sequels stands above the rest if by a small margin. That series is Steins;Gate 0. Steins;Gate 0 had the toughest task out of all of the franchises and excelled at what it tried to do. Seeing Okabe go through the journey that he did, see Mayuri take center stage and absolutely own it, and to laugh and cry (sometimes in the same episode) as much as I did compels me to pick Steins;Gate 0 as my returning series of the year.

What was your favorite returning franchise from 2018? Please take the poll below or on Twitter (@railgunfan75). You can also let me know your thoughts on Facebook (Railgunfan75’s Geek Blog). I am also on Instagram (railgunfan75_blog). Next time, I will look at the feel good series from 2018. Stay tuned for that! So until next time, this is Railgunfan75 signing off! Stay Geeky my friends!