Now we get to the second part of this 2018 Anime Summary. This can be seen as individual awards, where I will pick the Best, and the Worst, as well as Runner-Ups. It will divide as Individual awards, Production Awards and Character Awards. Get on board for a tour around the town now, shall we?
Best First Episode
Hisone to Masotan
It’s a shame that the show goes of the rail later on, but the first episode had me hyped up for all the right reasons. Simple but striking and expressive designs, a story about a girl and the dragon that doesn’t take itself seriously, and whole lot good humor to go along. It’s refreshing, original and serves as a (brief) statement on Osada’s worldbuilding skills. She always a write who has original concept, I can give her that.
Runner up: Revue Starlight
Worst First Episode
Mahou Shoujo Site
I had watched a fair share of dull and outright terrible premiere last year, but only with this show that I feel physically barfy. This first episode tries to hard to be another edgy, grim, dark moe show but because it has no understanding to character writing at all, everything happens on screen is a string of physical abuses for a sake of abuse. I myself enjoy dark show but I can’t tolerate this trash.
Runner Up: My Sister, My Writer – please die down this Imouto trend bullshit.
Best Single Episode
SSSS.Gridman – episode 9
This episode comes pretty late in the year (I believe it was in December) but since there it claims this slot handily. This episode relies heavily on symbolism and on its visual strengths that the more you look back to it (or the more you rewatch), things start to unravel itself and become much clearer. It has many single striking shots, like the moment where Akane jump off the crane remains one of cinematic highlight for me. The way all of her friends reject this perfect world also triggers Akane’s final redemption arc.
Runner Up: Revue Starlight – episode 7 – A beginning of Banana’s arc. An episode that changes the direction of the show, at the same time doesn’t betray what came before.
Most Pleasant Surprise
Behold. I didn’t expect Asobi Asobase to be that kind of show at all, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Asobi Asobase first appeared as a typical cute girls doing cute girl show quickly turns itself over and delivers what for me as one of the most hilarious show for years. Special shout out for its trolling OP that allure you to its attractive designs before showing its hands mere minutes later.
Runner up: SSSS.Gridman – Trigger show about a bunch of robot and tokatsu that I have no knowledge about? Turn out to be a legit great show
Well, really, what a missed opportunity. This show has a lot of heavy lifting, that is for sure, and it falls hard by big expectation. The pacing is totally off for one thing and White Fox clearly struggles to merge all the different routes from the VN in a comprehensive way. The main plot point happens way too late in the game, characters (especially side villains) don’t have much screen time at all. It ultimately feels underwhelmed, and it does one grave sin a sequel has to avoid: it somehow brings down the brilliance of the original as well.
Runner up: Irozuku – great premise, gorgeous art and well-thought themes but it has no real plot whatsoever
P.A.Works (Sirius the Jaeger, Irozuko, Uma Musume, Maquia)
While I would say that I’m not totally impressed with PA Works shows this year, I still admire it for something completely different. In the last few years, it’s great to see P.A Works has slowly created their own studio identity, putting more original works with consistent production values. Just in 2018, they produced 4 shows (quite a good number if you ask me), 3 of them were original: Maquia, Sirius the Jaeger and Irozuku. It’s a encouraging sign to see a studio that has control of its titles, it’s even more impressive that those shows have solid production from start to finish. Now, the writing could be improved but for their sheer efforts, they deserve to win this award.
Runner Up: Kyoto Animation (Violet Evergarden, Free 3, Tsurune, Chuunibyou the Movie – Liz and Blue Bird)
Well, Devilman has this one in its bag. Yuasa’s style always has dynamic and expressive animation, and this one follows up that tradition well. Unlike your usual blockbuster action shows, Devilman experiments with its camera angle, art designs and well, animation. Some of the combat sequences are inspiring and the character animation is expressive, especially on their gesture. It might not be the most consistent animated show, but its high is so extraordinary that it claims the top spot by a wide margin.
Runner up: Hisone to Masotan – the simple character designs allow expressive facial expression and heaps of crisp movements.
Best Art Design
This category includes both character designs, background designs and the general art style of the show. Maquia tops this category with a drop-dead gorgeous designs, from the different settings to the character designs themselves. There’s lots of details putting into the settings that make it rich, cozy and totally have a life of its own.
Runner up: Violet Evergarden – each episode it explores one setting: from mountainous village to tropical setting. Each character has rich costume designs and it’s one rare show where the extras got their own character and costume designs.
Best Visual Composition
This award is for show that relies on visual choice: whether it’s a shot placement, the layout or composition to tell its story. Gridman is a masterclass of such techniques. Not only the visual choices fit to to theme of the show (you can see how it places the characters against the large kaiju monsters in the background to depict the scale), it also informs the dynamic between characters from the cast.
Runner up: Kageki Shoujo Revue Starlight – the stage duels are something to behold, but the slice-of-life moments of it have some great flair visually too. Every choice the show make visually have its purpose. It’s one of those rare shows where you can turn off the audio/ subtitle and you can still understand exactly what been going on on-screen.
Best Voice Acting
Hina Kino – Hanako Honda (Asobi Asobase)
It’s easy to go overboard and overplay your character’s trait (as in the manager in Zombieland Saga), but it’s extremely difficult to pull off not only her crazy traits, but her insecurity as well. This young voice actress clearly has fun with this role: we can hear she doing mandrake scream, screeching her teeth and all sorts of crazy sound noise. But she also has range: it’s not just a simple shout-till-it’s-funny gimmick, she has the nuance and if the ED is any indication, her voice can be up for some heavy stuffs too. I’m sure will be looking for what she does next.
Runner up: Yume Miyamoto – Rikka (SSSS.Gridman)
Retsuko (Aggressive Retsuko)
Relatable is the name of the day here and Retsuko’s everyday struggles speak volume here because how real this all is. The decision to make her an anthropomorphic character makes her even more relatable. Doesn’t matter the race, even the gender, we all go through these kinds of situation in real life or at least feel too close to home here.
Runner up: Akira Tachibana (After the Rain)
Ayano Hanesaki (Hanebado)
Never before I have seen a character who keeps betraying her own personality to the point that we have multiple different personalities of Ayano during the show’s run, sometimes in the same episode. First appeared as shy and timid, she quickly becomes arrogant, spiteful, then quirky lovey-dovey and then just… something else. The eyes are the window of the heart. Ayano’s eyes shift safe from moments to moments she might as well be a daughter of the Phantom with 21 Faces
Runner up: Derrida (RErideD) – perfect example of useless main lead who has no single redeemable trait
The cast in Hinamatsuri is so rich that they kinda overwhelmed the main leads. Anzu and Hitomi in particular, shine in their respective arcs that sometimes I find it a shame that they aren’t the central stage. The others leave their mark in these episodes they are in and at the end of its run, you feel like you’re acquainted to the whole town full of nutcases and weirdos, but you can’t help but think fondly about each of them.
Runner up: A Place Further than the Universe
Positive Images of Female Characters
Akira Tachibana (Koi wa Ameagari no You ni)
A girl with broken dream finds burning passion again in form of love. Her crush intensity speaks well to the situation she’s in and she emerges to be one of the most well-developed high school girl in recent memories. This girl knows what she wants and won’t back down for the thing she loves.
Anzu & Hitomi (Hinamatsuri)
We have double pick, but they’re essentially different sides of a same coins. The trick is simple, establish their stocked traits and then push them out of their comfort zone, how they react then become their true personality. Anzu has gone through from being a delinquent to stealing and then becoming homeless. For Hitomi it’s from a model student into working in a bar and eventually buy a house and good at everything she does. All these are properly building up so never at once we feel that they don’t earn it, and it’s damn great that we see them grown right before our own eyes.
Asirpa (Golden Kamuy)
If there’s a single image of a feminist character this year, it’s Asirpa. More than strong on her own, she knows everything to survive, has a vast knowledge of wildlife, and open to her own feeling. She’s also the crossover between the old and the new Ainu culture, with modern viewpoint that both strive to learn new things without sacrifice the traditions.
Honorable Mention: Ton Baileu (Phantom in the Twilights)
she’s in my honorable list simply because I dropped the show midway, but from the material I saw, she’s more than earn her spot in this list. Independent, headstrong and at many times call out the mistakes the boys have, she’s one single great thing comes from this beaten road Vampire genre.
Negative Images of Female Characters
Madoka Kushitori (Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro)
She who brings the whole show down. She who has creepy affection of groping girls’ butts and is defined by her masculine behavior and big boobs.
The entire female cast in Hisone to Masotan
I’m torn to put this show down here. On one hand, Mari Osada has always addressed women condition in working environment in her world. This dragon pilot tale touches many of that aspect: a settings where it’s run by men and where girls’ feeling being manipulated so that they can *purely* pilot those dragons. And not in a satire manner but more of matter of fact manner. But ultimately what brings it down is that the show does nothing to deal with it. Hisone makes a string of half-ass decisions, girls fight about a boy and girls are still manipulated by men. Worst offender for me is when Hisone is forced to choose between her love and career in which she responses by do not choose anything. No, that mentality just doesn’t work at all.
Grand Blue’s female cast
“Grand Blue is silly and we shouldn’t take it too seriously.” Well, I understand the sentiment, but these girls in Grand Blue are a perfect example of a production of male’s fantasy, and thus, they are more like male’s objections. So of course all of these girls are smokely hot, some of them have boobs the size of basketball and most of them are attracted to main male. To the point one of them asks Iori that she wouldn’t mind if they have casual sex together. I’m not saying it’s unrealistic but this functions exactly as a boy’s wet dream.