Who said geeks had a hard time geeking out in 2018? If anything’s, we had difficulty with all the things we can do in 2018. Part of this will be 2018 in anime, as What’s A Geek! staffers Chad and Emile give us a quick preview on some of their highlights for the year. What exactly can we consider as anime that made our 2018, well, special? And what do you think we should’ve included in the list? Let us know in the comments!
2018 in Anime!
Castlevania (Season 2)
Readers who’s had a habit of streaming shows will know Netflix is on a roll. Be it original series, actual “archives” of past shows and films, or even adaptations. In the case of Castlevania, Netflix stuns with its second season. Fans and newcomers of the franchise will find delight in this adaptation of the hit series. Netflix takes viewers on a roll in this anime take on Konami’s hit side-scroller. Fans will definitely notice the story being based on Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (2005) and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (1989). Art style appears to be based on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. However, references only start there. In fact, fans acquainted with the series will find delight in tiny Easter Eggs throughout the anime. Meanwhile, newcomers might just find themselves reaching for a console to play.
The story follows Trevor Belmont in his quest to defend Wallachia from the ever-popular vampire, Dracula. In this regard, the adaptation does take a lot of cues from the hit series. Sypha Belnades eventually joins Trevor in his journey. In this season, fans finally get more of Adrian – Dracula’s son, also popularly known as Alucard – as he accompanies the two (2) protagonists. Aside from spectacular battles and impressive narrative, Netflix did a pretty good job capturing “essential” Castlevania elements. You get the gloom and the dark atmosphere from the games, and an interesting take on the soundtrack. Take these elements and combine them with a good take on the narrative, and Castlevania turns out to be quite the enjoyable experience.
Aggretsuko serves as an absolute stroke of genius on the part of its creators, the Sanrio Company. Folks from the company have been marketing Hello Kitty and her kawaii brand since the 1970s. Granted, kids still love Hello Kitty to this day. However, we all know a lot of OG Hello Kitty fans reached adulthood. So what did Sanrio do? Why, introduce Retsuko. For the unacquainted, Retsuko is a cute red panda in her mid-20s working a corporate job in a Japanese trading firm. And for older anime fans, this struck a chord.
Retsuko was truly an avatar of many of us who are working thankless jobs and difficult adult tasks. We see her struggle to navigate social ladders, unreasonable superiors, and challenging expectations. Everyone has their own way of unwinding and with Retsuko, it’s some sick death metal. We get to rage with her against troubles of daily life, but then suck it up and go on as normal. Yeah, Aggretsuko talks of Retsuko’s hidden rage over the troubles of everyday life. And honestly, it’s kind of resonating.
Of course, normal is never enough. We cheer for Retsuko as she takes the small, episodic steps to become a more holistic Retsuko: from making female friends at work and understanding horrible bosses to tackling office romance and being a kinder friend. There’s so much to unpack here and everyone should get this kawaii, death-metal loving OL a chance.
Watch Devilman Crybaby. That’s really it, unless you really, absolutely, cannot stomach gore and sexual content. The Netflix anime serves as an adaptation of Go Nagai’s Devilman from the ’70s. Masaaki Yuasa did an incredible stylish take on the adventures of high-schoolers Akira, Kyo, and Miki in a world being changed by the appearance of ancient devils. The first episode alone had heroes look at a crazy underground orgy that turns into an acid-fueled neon-colored bloodbath. And when Amon the devil tries to possess Akira, the “crybaby” somehow gains influence over the devil. As a result, he’s gained the body of the devil with a heart of a man. Yeah, a devilman.
The story escalates out of Akira’s control, bursting out of his simple Tokyo neighborhood. I do no justice to the series trying to explain the rest in words. It starts out very Monster-of-the-Week but then it grows into a conflict that no one can escape. The series art direction is further propped up by an excellent soundtrack, featuring some of the sickest anime raps this side of Zombieland Saga.
Gratuitous visuals aside, there several food for thought in this anime to consider. Themes of friendship, compassion, and morality are often discussed in between the bloodshed. If you’re a fan of the social, “us vs them” themes of Astroboy or the X-Men, then they will likely resonate just as well with Devilman Crybaby. It’s a grim series that forces us to face the worst and the best us.
Kyoto Animation somehow keeps topping itself every year. 2018’s Violet Evergarden serves as its best masterpiece (for now). The first anime to be simulcast on Philippine Netflix, Violet Evergarden follows former child soldier
Saber Violet Evergarden. In this story, she struggles to adjust to a post-war society. Set in a pseudo-European world, Violet slowly adjusts from a life of conflict and military structure to a peaceful, civil one by signing up to be an Auto-Memories Doll. In the anime, this translates to a ghostwriter for people can’t write or who have trouble with expressing themselves.
Violet’s journey throughout the continent is the crux of her story. As a young soldier, Violet never learned social norms we all took for granted. She was a blank slate; a doll dressed up in fatigues to fight other men’s war. It’s thus the great irony that an unfeeling, emotionless girl is placed in an occupation where human emotions and feelings become paramount to success. We see her grow to be more human with every assignment she gets.
Although the first three episodes are a bit dragging with world building and necessary exposition, the emotional hooks ramp up with every episode. Stories talks of the survivor’s guilt of a veteran, unfulfilled expectations, the writer’s block of a playwright, and the daughter of a war widow. The topnotch production adds to the experience with an almost completely orchestral soundtrack and cinematography that almost literally makes every frame a museum-class painting. We can all learn what it is to be human from a girl who’s humanity was stolen by war. We might even learn what love truly means.
Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otakus
cast of voice actors is star-studded. Familiar names such as Tomokazu Sugita (Gintoki, Kyon), Sawashiro Miyuki (Fujiko Mine, Celty Strulson) and Kaji Yuki (Todoroki Shoto, Eren) adorn the voice cast. This anime is very much well worth a watch if you’re into romcoms!
Asobi Asobase is a comedy/slice of life anime adaptation of a manga series by Rin Suzukawa. The series focuses on three middle school girls: Hanako, Olivia, and Kasumi. These three classmates form the Pastimers Club and their “club room” is where most of the anime takes place. As you’ve guessed, the anime doesn’t exactly have the kind of story progression you’d expect from other anime. It really just focuses on the daily life of the characters. However, that doesn’t mean the anime is dull or anything.
Boku no Hero Academia (Season 3)
Cells At Work
Zooming Into 2019: Here’s To Better Anime
Anime this 2018 arrived in all sorts of, uh, scales. Granted, comedy did appear to take a spotlight in our 2018 in anime list. However, there does appear to be some interesting titles we can wait for this year and in other years to come. For instance, Jay Oliva’s adaptation of Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo’s Trese will be arriving soon. Not only that, but a plethora of manga, light novels, and visual novels appear to be in slate for full-on anime adaptations. 2019 surely readies itself for a year we’d all want to wait for.