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Best anime of 2018 - According to The Verge

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Best Anime of 2018




Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/13/17468604/best-anime-of-2018-netflix-crunchyroll-amazon

  • Cells at Work! (July 7th)


In Cells at Work! the inner workings of the human body are transformed into a sprawling city, where red blood cells become delivery people who transport boxes of oxygen to the apartment where a cell lives. White blood cells, meanwhile, battle monstrous versions of germs and viruses.


The series revolves around a specific red blood cell named, well, Red Blood Cell. She is fairly new to her job, and is particularly bad at getting where she’s supposed to go for her deliveries. This often leads to her running into unsavory bacteria or viruses, as well as White Blood Cell, and the two soon develop a close friendship.


The interesting way the show chooses to depict the human circulatory and immune systems is a major part of its appeal. Platelets, for example, are shown as groups of kindergartners who work together to repair damage to the city’s structures, since platelet cells are a third of the size of normal cells. It’s likely the most I’ve ever learned about biology from anything outside a biology class.


  • Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (April 8th)



Karen, a university student in a near-future Tokyo, gets talked into playing virtual reality games and soon gets obsessed with an MMO called Gun Gale Online — in part because she has a complex about being tall and her avatar is very short. While playing, she befriends a woman named Pitou who convinces her to team up with a friend for a new squad-based battle royale mode (similar to Fortnite or Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds).


The show is very action heavy, often focusing on accuracy when it comes to the tactics and mechanics of combat and firearms, but still gives story and character moments priority. Seeing Karen grow as a player inside the game and as a person outside of it is really enjoyable to watch — even if you don’t really care about battle royale games.


  • My Hero Academia: Season 3 (April 7th)



This season is the start of a big shift in the series, with some major action scenes, important turning points, and long-awaited moments. The existential threat of the villains becomes more real as All for One starts to make moves, and we finally get to see what his protege Shigaraki will be like once he’s out of his mentor’s shadow — and how Midoriya plans to make One for All his own.



  • Lupin the 3rd Part 5 (April 3rd)



Lupin the 3rd, a gentleman thief version of James Bond who’s been around since the 1960s, has gone through a number of different interpretations over the decades — some serious, some campy. Still, some fundamental things remain the same, including his supporting cast: Jigen the curmudgeonly sharpshooter, Goemon the monkish samurai, Fujiko the sometimes ally sometimes rival femme fatale, and Zenigata the ICPO detective tasked with arresting him.


The 24-episode series has a number of one-off episodes that allude to older versions of the show, including when it was more slapstick or more action-focused. This new series’ main draws are the four arcs set in the modern day, which tie together a season-long narrative about technology. It’s a surprisingly nuanced arc that involves hackers tracking and surveilling Lupin, which turns into a game that the whole world ends up playing. It also introduces a Facebook / Google analog called “Shake Hands,” touches on how Facebook has amplified extremism in places like Myanmar, and the dangers of predictive AI. It’s not only a great series, but a perfect introduction for newcomers — and demonstrates that the character of Lupin the 3rd is as relevant today as ever.



  • Aggretsuko (April 20th)


Aggretsuko is a surprising show, and not just because you don’t expect Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, to make a character that’s not all about being cute. It’s more surprising because of how brutally it portrays the hardships women have to deal with in the workplace and in society in general. But it also shows that, despite these daily hardships, you can find ways to make things better.

In a review by Dami Lee, she explains how important Retsuko’s relatability is.

The fact that a Sanrio anime is both acknowledging these inequalities and portraying fantasies of taking the easy way out is incredibly refreshing, because it validates so much of what goes unspoken — or at least, underexplored in mainstream media — about female anger and when and how it is allowed to be expressed. The show’s best moments are rooted in painfully relatable realities: like when Aggretsuko daydreams about calling out a lazy supervisor, or when an annoying salesclerk follows her around the store relentlessly until she feels pressured to buy some socks. (In Korea, overly attentive salesclerks have become so ingrained in the culture that some stores have color-coded baskets shoppers can use to indicate whether they want help or not.) In so many aspects of Asian culture, the pressure to be polite can be suffocating, and Aggretsuko’s death metal karaoke jams lamenting all of these societal ills is a much-needed catharsis. 


  • Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (April 12th)



Wotakoi follows an office worker named Narumi Momose, who hides the fact that she’s an otaku in her public life because it’s led to issues in past relationships. When she starts a new job, she runs into an old childhood friend, Hirotaka Nifuji, who accidentally outs her as an otaku to some of their co-workers. Those co-workers, Hanako Koyanagi and Taro Kabakura, are not only secret otaku as well, but have been in a relationship since high school, which their co-workers also don’t know about.


Wotakoi is a romantic comedy, although it tends to favor comedy over romance. Generally, the show mines the attempts of balancing work life, personal life, and hobbies for humor but never in a way that feels like it’s punching down at the characters and being unnecessarily critical of them. The humor makes the characters endearing and charming, which makes you more invested when things get serious.


  • Hinamatsuri (April 6th)

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One night, a midlevel yakuza named Nitta sees a large, strange egg-shaped capsule materialize in his apartment. In it is Hina, an emotionless and deadpan middle school-aged girl who is also a superpowered telekinetic weapon from the future. Almost without Nitta realizing it, he ends up taking care of her like a daughter, and Hina starts to live a somewhat normal life.

While Hinamatsuri has a strange concept, it’s actually a pretty grounded comedy show, especially as the larger cast starts to form around Nitta and Hina. Since the show makes the superpower aspect so tertiary to the characters and their relationships, you start to forget about them until they suddenly become part of a beautifully animated visual gag. (In general, the show has some of the best animations of the year.) There is a fluidity to both the action scenes and the smaller moments that helps to add a lot pacing and setup for the humor.


  • Megalo Box (April 5th)

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Taking place in and around a wealthy futuristic city, Megalo Box is about the sport of Megalo boxing, where fighters have powered exoframes on their upper bodies that augment their strength and speed. The series follows a boxer who initially goes by the name Junk Dog as he tries to work his way up from making money by starting fights in the slums outside the city. He wants to take part in Megalonia, a tournament made up of the best Megalo boxers.

The show harkens back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, thanks to its cyberpunk aesthetic and themes that touch on a lot of the class struggle. The show has a sort of fuzziness to it that is meant to imitate the appearance that anime shows had when they were upresed for DVD releases. All the design choices cumulatively make Megalo Box feel that is simultaneously like a recently unearthed relic and timeless.




  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (April 4th)


Set in a far future where the human race has spread out across the galaxy, the story revolves around two major powers that have been at war on and off for generations: the Galactic Empire, an autocratic empire based on 19th century Prussia, and the Free Planets Alliance, a capitalist democracy that’s full of bureaucracy. Your glimpse at these two countries comes mainly through two young military geniuses: Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire and Yang Wen-li of the Free Planets Alliance.

They are more like rivals than antagonists, but each is so compelling in their own right that either of their stories could have been its own series. Reinhard is attempting to amass enough power in the Empire to overthrow and clean up the corrupt regime of the current Kaiser. Yang only joined the military so that he could pay for college to become a historian, and he is continually relied upon for his skill and level-headedness.


What seems like a potentially dry rah-rah military show becomes a surprisingly interesting look at the politics and minutiae that surround war and how pointless it can be. It does this by taking a big-picture view of the whole situation; for instance, it shows the Free Planets Alliance governing body debating the war before a majority decides that they need to continue the upcoming election campaign as a distraction. We then see how that decision trickles down to Yang and the orders he’s given by his commanding officer, which they both know are futile in the grand scheme of things. 


  • Devilman Crybaby (January 5th)


I was, unfortunately, more familiar with the Devilman series than the work of animation director Masaaki Yuasa made prior to Devilman Crybaby (aside from him being the anime director who made that one wild episode of Adventure Time about the food chain). But from that alone, it was clear how perfect he was for the job.

The show’s amazing animation bombards you with a lot of spectacle, as Megan Farokhmanesh discusses in a review:

Its lurid use of sex and violence are not simply gratuitous, however; they’re a tool used to demonstrate the overindulgent, sometimes disgusting nature of being human. The show also uses them to play with your expectations, veering from over-the-top sexual images of bouncing breasts and moments of humor to shocking scenes of someone getting devoured by a demon. And though it has buckets of blood to spill, Devilman Crybaby never stops being shocking, and it’s willing to go pretty far to prove its points about how needlessly violent and cruel people can be.

But the real strength of the show and its story are in the quieter moments. It’s there where the truly memorable and important things happen and where it has a lot to say about humans and humanity.


  • Laid-back Camp (January 4th)


Laid-back Camp is a show about high school girls who go camping in the winter.

That’s it.

Don’t expect it to be a deep show with lots of drama or any stakes (aside from the ones you use to pitch a tent). They just go camping to different real-world campsites in Japan, and you learn a surprising amount about camping.

It’s incredibly charming and relaxing, and sometimes that’s all you need after a long day.  


  • A Place Further Than the Universe (January 2nd)


A thing I’ve started to do over the past few years is pay attention to what animation studio Madhouse is doing. It tends to make really stellar adaptations of manga (i.e., One Punch Man, ACCA, and Hunter x Hunter). But it also occasionally makes its own original shows, which somehow tend to be even better, like A Place Further Than the Universe.

The show is mainly about two high school girls, Mari and Shirase, who live in a suburb of Tokyo. Mari realizes she’s been wasting her youth by not really doing anything, which is when she finds $10,000 in an envelope (which happens to belong to Shirase). Shirase explains that she’s going to use the money to join an expedition to Antarctica, which is where her mother disappeared three years ago while leading the previous expedition. Shirase’s determination leads Mari to want to help, and she goes with her.


To describe the show in one word, it would be “genuine.” Everything feels very real, from how they use their cellphones to how hard it is to get to and even live in Antarctica. It grounds everything, allowing for sometimes drastic shifts in tone from dramatic to comedic or from heartwarming to tragic.

Edited by Moodkiller
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