With the Anime Trending Awards 2018 drawing closer, we should take this time to appreciate all the anime that have come this far. It’s been a wild year with hyped-up action scenes, LGBTQ representation, whacky mechas, idol zombies, and smashing receives. Kick back, relax, read up on your favorite reviews, and have fun at the upcoming awards! We’ll see you there!
A Place Further Than The Universe
YoriMoi is the kind of anime that offers great enjoyment without feeling like a shallow slice of life entertainment. Although the ending feels a bit lackluster, the journey that leads to it is an incredibly beautiful one, one filled with laughs and emotional tears. It’s highly recommended.
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion
The art style is coarse like last season’s MegaloBox, but Angolmois adopts this papery-film over the visuals that makes it feel like you are immersing yourself in a story from a bygone era. The Late Middle Japanese spoken throughout the episode is refreshing to hear from the Modern Japanese that we are so used to hearing in most animes. The plot is also of interest, since the so-called “defenders” of Japan are a bunch of exiled convicts who were literally sent to their deaths. I’m a bit excited to see how each convict’s “skill set” as a pirate, ex-retainer of the shogunate, or merchant can contribute to defending Japan, even though all of them clearly have some kind of motive to escape from this hellhole.
Attack on Titan S3
I can safely say that this season is incredibly adapted, beautiful, and the overall best season to the entire Attack on Titan storyline. And I’m speaking of the anime, not just the story it is adapting. As a manga reader, you would think I have no room to react when I know all the plot twists that were to come. You would be wrong. Even when knowing EXACTLY what would happen in the future, every twist and turn still sends chills and raises goosebumps all over my arms and legs. That is a testament to Wit Studio’s ability to not only do a story justice but to actually enhance it beyond the reader’s expectations.
Banana Fish’s ability to craft a relationship, three-dimensional characters, and a complicated story with twists and turns around every corner successfully provides the LGBTQ community an anime to be proud of that no longer falls under a genre of fanservice and fetishization. It is a triumph so powerful that it managed to even nab the title of first LGBTQ couple in the Anime Trending seasonal couples’ awards.
Bloom Into You
Following the footsteps of Citrus and Kase-san, it’s a well-made adaptation of a yuri manga. The technical aspects are well-done; the pleasing art – the backgrounds are especially lovely and eye-catching – is complemented by music that conjures a magical and dream-like atmosphere. Best of all are the characters and their complex feelings, which provide an unexpected depth to the romance department. A second season is sorely needed.
Since its debut, the visual and animation quality of Citrus managed to remain consistently strong. That quality must have been a bit of an initial surprise for both fans of the manga and the yuri genre in general, but in a good way. It’s not that the PVs gave off the impression that it would be subpar, but a yuri anime getting treatment this good? And following last season’s less-than-exemplary Netsuzou Trap? It feels celebratory, relieving, and impressive. The yuri content might not be to everyone’s taste, but this is definitely a yuri anime that’s hard to ignore.
Darling in the Franxx
If there was an award for an anime that soared and burned (ironically matching the theme of the show), this would be it. Studio Trigger delivered an amazing premise and world accompanied by their signature mind blowing animation, and who can forget one of the biggest waifu controversies of the season? But alas, all good things come to an end and it came too soon for Franxx. An exposition episode that gave away all of the well-built mysteries, rushed closure for the characters that we grew to love, and an arbitrary ending that copied Gurren Lagann quickly burned the popularity of this show to the ground. But that shouldn’t discredit the amazing start that the show, and I feel like it’s worth mentioning for that alone.
With such a strong plot, it goes without saying that the characters are also fleshed out really well. From Sugimoto to Lt. Tsurumi, all the characters have a distinct motive as to why they want the gold and how they want to use it. Some want the gold for more personal reasons, while others wish to fuel battle tendencies and bring back jobs during the post-war period. As a result, you can’t exactly label each character a “hero” or “antagonist”, or “good”/”evil”. The lack of proper labeling creates an interesting dynamic between characters that messes with the audience’s moral compass and makes us wonder who to keep rooting for.
Grand Blue Dreaming
Iori resembles many freshmen I know: he’s desperate to start fresh, make a good impression on the people around him, and survive his first year of college with fantastic grades. Obviously, this plan goes completely kaput the moment he’s lured astray by alcohol and the typical college shenanigans that are a far cry from anything a highschooler can pull. This includes showing up to orientation with a hangover and being nude, cross-dressing without shame with the intention to mess with someone and doing just about anything to get those club funds. And that, is something I can get behind.
The story is a bit of a letdown, but the badminton matches provided a good enough reason to tune into the show week after week. Finely animated, and even rotoscoped in certain parts, the episodes are a joy to behold. The players move with impressive fluidity, and the sounds that accompany their movement make me feel like I’m right beside the court – the sound of shoes scraping against the court surface transporting me back to my primary school days. Meanwhile, the exchange of smashes and swings create excitement akin to that of a fight scene, and some of the showdowns offered the kind of genuine hype I seldom get from action anime these days.
My general apathy towards slice-of-life shows, coupled with Harukana Receive‘s slow start, nearly resulted in me dropping this show. But the relaxing atmosphere ended up growing on me, and the volleyball matches were surprisingly engaging (and it’s not just because of the swimsuits). A very pleasant surprise.
IRODUKU: The World in Colors
I am actually incredibly happy that I held onto IRODUKU until the very end. By the last episode, I found the entire series to be incredibly touching. It is a story of not only Hitomi healing and changing as a person because of the people in the past, but a story where the people also changing because of Hitomi entering their lives. By the time the series end, it is bittersweet because people ultimately pull apart as the time slips by, but the people you meet will always change who you are and contribute to the final person you become.
Laid Back Camp
In what I like to call the season of comfy, Laid Back Camp managed to be the most memorable for me. What isn’t to love about a group of friends going on camping trips in winter Japan? This is one of the rare shows that you can just watch snuggled up in bed, heater turned up, and munching on some snacks without a care for the world. Or who knows? Maybe it will entice you to go camping and explore the beautiful nature that we forget too often. Go fishing, hiking, or barbeque, Laid Back Camp shows that you can enjoy them all! And maybe watch some anime next to a roaring campfire.
Magical Girl Site
Instead of beginning with a false sense of tranquility, Magical Girl Site delivers the dark content from the get-go. Although the show’s attempts to be shocking don’t always work out, and its main protagonist is a bit of a bore, it succeeds in being a memorable experience.
But, oh god… That first episode of MEGALOBOX. It screams of Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Akira vibes with its uneven lineart, Nujabes-esque music, and gritty color palette. There’s just something that’s nostalgic about seeing all these three elements smushed together in a plot about boxing and the widening socioeconomic gap between the slums and the inner city. Not only that, you have the badass underdog MC who is jaded by people constantly manipulating his matches in order to make some quick cash.
My Hero Academia
I am now quite confident to say that HeroAca is now the face of the modern shounen genre. Although I am not usually a big fan of the genre, this show manages to polish every trope to perfection and goes deeper into a simple concept than I ever anticipated. In the latest seasons, the stakes are ever higher and the fights are hype, and I can’t wait to see what Deku will do next to become the strongest hero. Plus ultra!
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
“There isn’t a guy out there who wouldn’t enjoy being bullied by such a hot older girl,” Sakuta tells Mai in one scene. “Is that a compliment?” she asks. “A shower of praise,” he replies. I can’t think of any other show that had me taking screenshots every episode due to the dialogue. While the drama’s quality varies from arc to arc, Rascal’s verbal exchanges and romance remain delightful throughout the course of the show.
Sirius the Jaegar
In the theater room, I was fangirling with Scorpio at the gorgeous visuals, the riveting music that kept us at the edge of our seats, and of course, the certain plot-twist at the end. There’s virtually nothing I can say that’s “bad” about this anime, even on the plot and characters. There’s a beautiful balance of politics, controversial issues, and diverse characters piled up in this anime that makes you feel like you’re watching Joker Game all over again, but it’s a lot more enjoyable with the vivid and fast-paced action scenes.
Watching the first episode of Steins;Gate 0 felt like being embraced in a warm hug, if that hug was made out of despair and sadness. All the emotions I felt from watching Steins;Gate were pulled from the back of my memories to the forefront of my thoughts in one huge wave of dispiriting nostalgia. And I loved it.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
Alternative GGO is a more flavorful take on the already well-known universe of GGO, featuring more weapons than just the simple sniper rifle and squads that are either highly experienced with combat IRL or IG. The first episode is jam-packed with vibrant action, smart strategies, and comedic antics that makes it almost a standalone show. There’s no Kirito taking up all the screentime to show off his cool new skill or his romancing with the current girl of the season. Instead, both LENN and M get ample screen time to show off their abilities as either the sort of DPS/decoy of the team or as the master strategist.
Violet Evergarden was set up as one of the most hyped anime to air during the winter season. It is produced by Kyoto Animation, a beloved anime production studio and is based on a short light novel series that won critical acclaim. Overall, it just looked beautiful. But to call Violet Evergarden hyped would not do it justice.
It far exceeded its status of a “hyped up” anime.
In my opinion, Tsurune is an underrated anime. Admittedly, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea with its slight technicalities, but I still recommend people to watch it because of how everything weaves perfectly together into a beautiful piece of work. It truly shines through as an anime showcasing teamwork, grit, dignity, and relatable struggles people go through not only as teenagers, but as adults too. To end off, here’s a saying that best sums up the anime: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go as a team.”
Zombie Land Saga
WATCH ZOMBIELAND SAGA