Welcome to Part Two of our 2018 Anime Awards! There’s plenty to get through, here, including our THREE Anime of the Year awards and a preview of 2019, but before we jump in, here’s another list of the competitors this year.
As with our 2017 Anime Awards, the 2018 Anime Review includes all reviewed shows that were aired (or uploaded to streaming services) at some point during this calendar year.
A Place Further Than the Universe | Aggretsuko | Attack on Titan (S3) | B: The Beginning | Bojack Horseman (S5) | Castlevania (S2) | Cells at Work | Comic Girls | Dagashi Kashi 2 | Darling in the Franxx | Disenchantment | Final Space | Food Wars (S3) | Grand Blue | Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens | Hanebado | My Hero Academia 3 | Persona 5: The Animation | Tokyo Ghoul:Re (S1) | RWBY (S5)
Best Anime Comedy Series 2018: Grand Blue
Quite surprisingly, this year has been super competitive for comedy! Cells at Work was a delight to watch, and Aggrestuko deserves a special mention, but this was a two-horse race between Japan and America. Disenchantment was a fantastic shot of nostalgia from one of the great minds of American animation, however Grand Blue felt like an exciting, new experience in Japanese anime comedy. Brash, rude and unforgiving, this comedic take on college/university life pulls no punches but still delivers that classic Japanese anime slapstick that we love!
Best Anime Action Series 2018: Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
There has been some really enjoyable action series this year, but few have been as cool and bountiful for action lovers this year as Hakata. With a fantastic mix of killers, this is a story that delivers fighting aplenty to a cool jazz theme and bustling city setting. Castlevania is another series that delivers plenty of cool fighting, while My Hero Academia will always be seen as a great fighting series, however the amount of action scenes and how cool a lot of them are makes Hakata a deserved winner.
Best Animation in Anime 2018: Darling in the Franxx
There was a fantastic mix of unique anime styles this year, along with some who took the anime stereotype to a new level. Attack on Titan delivered a visually stunning series in 2018, while A Place Further Than the Universe and Castlevania both stuck to tried-and-tested styles but added a unique sheen to create beautiful shows. Persona 5 deserves a special mention for its unique style, however Franxx is a deserved winner. A modern rarity in a mecha series that was almost, if not entirely hand drawn, Franxx is a gorgeous series full of flowing scenes and excellent fighting action brought to life incredibly well. You can feel the amount of effort that went into this series!
Best Anime Storyline 2018: A Place Further Than the Universe
This was another close one, with multiple series deserving it for different reasons. Attack on Titan deserves praise for its twist on the formula, while Bojack Horseman also deserves praise for its take on a dark plot. Darling in the Franxx should have won this for its expansive story, however Universe has just edged it. While these other stories hit it big on certain points, APFTTU delivers everything – character development, mini tales, globetrotting scenarios – and the fact that it is all rooted in reality makes it even more impressive.
Best Anime Scene 2018: Darling in the Franxx, Ep.6 Finale
A new award for 2018, highlighting those exceptional moments during the shows we’ve seen this year. Universe has countless heartfelt moments that deserve mentions here, however this award was a race between three contenders. Castlevania’s ‘glitching castle’ was a highlight for one of our favourite series of the year, while Bojack Horseman’s acting/reality meltdown was also very impressive. However, it was always going to be hard for a moment to take this award out of Zero Two’s clawed hands. A poignant moment that featured in our best anime episodes of all time, this emphatic conclusion thoroughly deserves this award.
Unexpected Anime Success of 2018: Castlevania S2
The first season showed promise, but ultimately it was just a tech demo. When season two was announced and I saw it was eight episodes, part of me expected the same thing again – a mild ‘stretch the legs’ series that would look cool but not work as a story. The fact that I have since considered an American animated series for ‘anime of the year’ shows how far off I was!
This show delivers everything you would want from a Japanese series – cool action sequences, plenty of humour, big worlds with ranging characters – and marries that with classic American quips done perfectly. The dialogue, perhaps helped by the lack of need for translation, is definitely the best I’ve seen in any fantasy anime this year, and the depth of story told in just eight episodes is very impressive, the series doing as much as it can while also not creating plot holes. A true gem of a series, I now have high hopes for future seasons of this!
Alternative Anime of the Year 2018: Cells at Work
Normal logic dictates that this should have been nowhere near anything concerning ‘anime of the year’. A show about the inner workings of the human body, portrayed by personified cells and narrated with a soft, motherly voice, sounds like the grainy, old videos you were forced to watch during your school days when the teacher would wheel the dusty monitor to the front of the room. Honestly, this series was going to win unexpected success, but we didn’t feel that award did this series enough justice.
In a summer 18 anime cycle including Attack on Titan and Grand Blue, Cells at Work was so low on my list that I didn’t watch it until 3/4 episodes in. However, after only the first episode it became clear why Cells was getting so much hype. Cells at Work delivers everything you could possible want from a light-hearted series, with great comedy and a healthy mix of vibrant characters, to boot. The fact that it is so impressive from a science point of view is just the icing on this beautiful anime cake!
Read our Cells at Work review!
Anime of the Year 2018: A Place Further Than the Universe
First of all, a huge shout-out to Darling in the Franxx, who came a close second for this award. While our champion might not have the box-office glamour of the bigger series this year, A Place Further than the Universe, which premiered all the way back in January, deserves it place as one of the finest modern interpretations of the ‘slice-of-life’ genre. An incredibly human series, Universe is a story about friendship that delivers plenty of heartfelt moments but also cushions that with thoroughly entertaining scenarios, meaning it delivers on that crucial entertainment point. Antarctica is displayed beautifully, helping to create a sense of wonder that runs through this whole series. If you missed this show earlier in the year, you simply must watch it!
Read our A Place Further Than the Universe review!
While there are some stories bubbling away about next year, as you might expect at this early stage much of the talk is about the big hitters set to air in 2019. Attack on Titan 3 part two will air from April, however there are plenty of big series hitting our screens before then, none less so than the second season of Kakegurui, the divisive Anime of the Year 2017 winner returning in January. Mob Psycho 100 also gets its second season at the very beginning of next year which, added to the scheduled release of One Punch Man season two later in 2019, signals the arrival of ONE, the acclaimed creator of both series’ manga, as his stories attempt to take over the anime-verse.
In terms of smaller titles – the next Universe, for example – that is yet to be discovered. However, there are a few names that stand out. Dr. Stone looks like a potential apocalyptic twist to the action anime genre, whilst Fruits Basket is a 2019 reboot of a popular (and slightly wacky) 00s romance that could do well! Other notable titles include Boogiepop, an upcoming psycho-thriller by production giants Madhouse (Death Note, One Punch Man, Overlord etc.), Carole & Tuesday, a sci-fi musical drama with legendary anime director Wantanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Space Dandy) on board, and perhaps most interesting, Isekai Quartet, a series in development that looks set to bring the universes of Re:Zero, Overlord, Konosuba and Saga of Tanya the Evil together in a hugely ambitious, chibi-style mash-up!
What we know for sure is that next year’s Cells at Work, or Universe, or Grand Blue Dreaming, are still waiting to be discovered!
We hope you are looking forward to 2019 in anime as much as we are! Remember to subscribe to The Culture Cove for all the latest anime reviews and recommendations as the shows land!