Greetings! I’m back after a semi-long layoff. February has not kind to me in terms of time but i am glad to be back. We have now reached the next part of my 2018 Anime Retrospective. Here I will continue a few more noteworthy series. These series either wowed us with gorgeous animation/music or blew our minds with amazing characters and stories. Of course I would certainly include series such as Laid Back Camp, Bloom into You, and Hinamtsuri on this list. Since I talked about these in detail already in earlier installments, I won’t talk about them again here. Instead I am going to discuss a few more series which resonated with me and the anime community. I’ll admit i had the hardest time writing about these series. This is not because it was hard to come up with things to say about these series, it was difficult to find the right words to discuss why I enjoyed these series as much as I did.
A Place Further from the Universe
Where did this series come from? A look at a series synopsis for A Place Further Than the Universe gives the impression that this series is a story about four girls going on an adventure to the unknown. And while one component of the narrative is the adventure that the four girls go on, that is only a small portion of the beautiful narrative that this series has to offer. A Place Further than the Universe gave us an emotional story about four characters who all ended up on a journey of self discovery. It reminds us that taking risks and seizing opportunities can lead to life changing events.
The series has probably one of the most beautiful stories that I have seen in anime and is another case of an amazing deep and thoughtful narrative packed into only 13 episodes. In that time we not got only get to meet and know 4 awesome characters but we also get to see them go through a journey which changes all of them. This journey is full of laughs, tears, and awe inspiring moments. The narrative is aided by absolutely gorgeous animation and a soundtrack which perfectly captures the emotional experiences and wonders that these characters are experiencing. A Place Further than the Universe doesn’t resort to over the top events in it’s story nor relies on a shock factor to get it’s point across. The series tells a natural evolving and relatable coming of age story. While few of will probably ever end up at the edge of the world that doesn’t matter. All of us can appreciate the journey that the four girls went through because really at the end of the day they were searching for what many of us are searching for at some point. A Place Further from the Universe is truly one of the best series to come out in recent memory and deserves all of the praise that it has received.
The people we meet, places we go, and things we experience all change us in some way. The travels and tribulations that we go through have a big part in who we are. Violet Evergarden is a series about just that- how people and experiences can shape or change who we are. This is not an uncommon theme for a narrative, however Violet Evergarden takes this idea and presents in a way that touches the soul. There is both a larger narrative and many smaller ones to be found in this series. The larger one is of course Violet’s journey as she tries to discover really how to live and how to feel. The smaller narratives are of course the stories of the people she meets along the way. The series seems simple, Violet meets and helps people and each of these people teach her something along the way.
The brilliance is in the series ability to execute this idea. Over the course of an episode, you are not only introduced to a character but you also come to understand them and feel for them. And feel for them you do. Their joy, optimism, regret, and loss are all conveyed to near perfection. In turn you also get to see the change in Violet’s character as well. It is certainly an effective narrative. The powerful performances of the actors (The English dub is absolutely superb), the gorgeous sweeping soundtrack, and the breathtaking animation all contribute to the overall awesome experience. I will proudly admit that I laughed, jumped for joy and cried at this wonderful series. If you are looking for a series which showcases the best that anime has to offer then look no further. Violet Evergarden meets that requirement and then some.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
If there was a series that ever defined the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” it would be this one. I don’t think anyone expected to get the great character driven piece that we got with Bunny Girl Senpai. The series does a masterful job of telling intimate stories of dealing with the insecurities that we all face in life. Each of the characters in the story is trying to figure something out, something about themselves and the world they live in. What really adds to the special nature of the series is the added supernatural elements to the story. These elements actually aid the story by adding additional weight and context to the issues that the characters are facing. Many would brush off such stories as over the top teenage drama but adding additional consequences really adds weight to the story.
The series also boasts some of the wittiest dialogue that I have ever seen especially between Sakuta and Mai our main characters. The two have almost an immediate chemistry and that dynamic only improves as the series progresses. This isn’t just restricted to our main protagonists either as each new character introduced also adds to the wit and charm of the series. And speaking of the couple, the two would easily win my pick for anime couple of the year. Mai and Sakuta have a chemistry rarely achieved especially in such a short narrative. The series also doesn’t neglect it’s core romance once the arc is concluded, it shows our main couple continuing to grow along side the events of the narrative and in some cases in conjunction with it. Bunny Girl Senpai is a series which takes tropes that we have a million times before and adds some spice to it. It succeeds because it manages to humanize it’s characters in an insanely short amount of time. It uses and succeeds in using it’s supernatural elements to convey messages that we all can relate to and manages to do so without collapsing under the weight of the stories it tries to tell . It is no surprise that this series became a favorite from last year and I feel it could stay around as an all time classic.
Megalo Box is easily one of the biggest surprises from last year. The series had a very cool and funky vibe to it and I was hooked on it from episode 1. This series was an underdog story with attitude. An old school animation style, insanely funky soundtrack, and a retro meets future vibe all give Megalo Box it’s very distinct fingerprint. The series also included many awesome things which adds to it’s successful formula. A battle against impossible odds, an underdog protagonist who must work for his dreams and an intense rivalry between two characters are all things that you find in this series. Megalo Box goes beyond many sports stories and it does this by injecting all of those elements into a type of narrative which is always entertaining to watch. This series puts all of it’s element together in a really seamless way. While the narrative may not be as strong or deep as some of the other entries here, this series is just damn good entertainment and for that it makes my list. I’m sure I am not surprising anyone with a statement saying that this easily the best sports anime of 2018 and perhaps one of the best that we have seen in recent years.
Darling in the Franxx
I fully expect to receive crap over highlighting this series. I will start by saying that this series is certainly not perfect especially in it’s final act. However, Darling in the Franxx did so much else right that I feel that it is worth discussing. There is good to be found with this series. DITF has some really interesting ideas and themes and for the most part especially in the early going it succeeds. The character of Zero-Two is one of the best new characters that we have seen in a long time. You never know what you are going to get with Zero-Two and it was clear that a lot of time was spent in crafting her character. The middle half of the series had some of the best episodes of the year. These episodes were so good that honestly I wasn’t bothered by the ending at all. In fact I tend to respect series/movies/that decide to/ go with such endings as they tend to be far more interesting.
The series does a great job with handling it’s relationships and balancing the small and large scale plot threads that exist in the story. Despite the stakes, the story about Darling in the Franxx is really about relationships and struggles we all go through when encountering them. It uses a totally bombastic setting yo get the message across but that setting only makes things more fun. Darling in the Franxx is certainly not perfect but for me it was damn entertaining and because of that it makes my list of top series from 2018.
There are of course so many more series that could be discussed when looking at 2018 but sadly it is impossible to really discuss them all. I honestly cannot remember a year that was loaded with as many great series as 2018 was. The series that I have discussed here along with the great romances, returning classics, and feel good series that I discussed previously are series which I will remember with great excitement. I feel like 2018 was a year which showcased all of the ways that anime excels an art form. You had series which were aesthetically pleasing to experience, series which showcase just how different and exciting anime characters can be, and series which demonstrated the diversity of topics and genres that anime can cover. There were so many stories which made me feel in the past year and I am grateful to have experienced them all. To me, 2018 was a very spectacular year for anime- one which will be tough to replicate.
That is all I have to say for now about my favorite series from 2018. I am almost finished with my look back at 2018. The final installment of my retrospective will look at the characters which we loved from 2018. Look forward to that coming soon. I also have recently passed my 5 year blogging anniversary and will be approaching 250 posts. I am looking to do something special for both of those things, maybe I will celebrate both in the same post. I am open to suggestions and requests from my readers so if you have anything that you would like to see, leave a comment below! Remember to show consideration and respect to those around you no matter what your differences are. It goes a long way. And of course stay geeky my friends!
I don’t fault you for including Darling in the FRANXX. In fact, it’s because I liked the first half so much — and adored Zero Two as a character — that I was so angry about everything from the VIRM forward.
Such potential up in smoke…
I certainly agree that the ending could have so more better. I certainly won’t say the ending was a highlight. At least it somewhat righted itself with the final scene. Even with that I would say that the first half and Zero-Two were both so good that the series was worth watching.
And as I mentioned in the post, I certainly found the ending interesting and give them credit for being so out there with it. It a mess certainly but interesting.
This is one of those ideas I should probably let go. The show’s over! But just thinking of all the different paths it could have taken to that (admittedly!) great last scene…
Paths that included Zero Two and Hiro standing up the oppressive APE…
Weaving a grudging partnership with the Princess and her Klaxosaurs, a relationship that could have helped her understand not all humans were like APE…
Offering Dr. FRANXX a chance to redeem himself…
Showcasing Zero Two’s transformed power through her relationship to Hiro…
Seriously, wasted potential is heart-breaking! Especially with such great raw material! This could have been another Gurren Lagann!
Or at least a Kill la Kill!
Absolutely. Any of those paths would have been worlds better. And yes I agree a good ending could of made it a top 10 favorite for me. Funny that you mentioned Gurren and Kill la Kill because both handled similar situations so much better. Those two are two of my all time favorites and the pedigree set that bar and it fell short. And that is infuriating because on the flip side it does great things with its story telling at times. I wonder if they were hoping for more episodes to tell the story honestly.