Winter 2018 – Ranking the Best from this Season

Winter starts to thaw and boy we got a sequel loaded Spring!

If Winter 2018 sets the tone for the quality of anime in this year, I guess we are off to a very good start. For whatever reason,  this season is quite diverse despite the preponderance of cute characters doing cute things. You want edgy violent shows? There’s Devilman – Crybaby. Dorama? A Place Further than the Universe and Violet Evergarden fill the brief.  Comfy slice of life? Yuru Camp will serve you the joys of camping. Also, these shows are somehow bound to experience commercial success, the thing which anime in 2017 sorely lacked.

There are also shows I intend to watch in the backlog (Kokkoku, How to Raise a Mummy and Gakuen Babysitter) but let us rank the shows I watch like I always do.

THE RANKING

  1. Violet Evergarden
  2. Sangatsu no Lion S2
  3. A Place Further than the Universe
  4. Devilman – Crybaby
  5. After the Rain
  6. Ancient Magus Bride
  7. Darling in the Franxx
  8. Fate/Extra Last: Encore
  9. Yuru Camp
  10. Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
  11. Karakai Jouzo Takagi-san
  12. Cardcaptor Sakura – Clear Card Arc
  13. Black Clover
  14. Citrus
  15. Sanrio Danshi

Shows to Consider for the Year-end Ranking: Violet Evergarden, Sangatsu no Lion S2, A Place Further than the Universe, Devilman Crybaby, After the Rain

Shows  I Consider Decent: Any show above Black Clover

Shows to Skip: Sanrio Danshi

THE RAMBLING

YURU-CAMP-2

Having read the whole of Violet Evergarden, I safely say that this belongs to the ranks of good Kyoto Animation shows that go beyond the cute. I still think it falls short of the greatness of Sound Euphonium, but I appreciate the studio’s efforts in creating heartwarming stories even if these sometimes fail. Also, Violet Evergarden cannot seem to mesh the concept of war and the heartwarming moments too well.  It felt like I am watching two different shows at the same time. Yes, this is heavily flawed but I guess the poignancy of the strong moments got me real good.

Sangatsu no Lion S2 is perhaps my true anime of the season in a way that this will likely be on my all-time list once it finishes airing. From a disappointment to a great show, this has gone leaps and bounds as compared to the first season. The only reason I put this in the second ranking is it settled on a rhythm now that the dramatic arcs have ended. Yes, a pretty personal taste but a major complaint anyway. I hope for a continuation.

If there is a show that I had zero expectation from the first episode and ended up as one of the best this year, A Place Further than the Universe surely caught me off guard episode  5 onwards. It is a fairly standard slice of life show with the power of friendship as its linchpin but damn, the drama hits hard to my heart. A Place Further than the Universe is the only other show in my seasonal watch that end me crying real good (episodes 11 and 12 it is). The characters are fully developed, which is something you rarely see in a single cour show. I am just glad that it will be a commercial success given the overwhelmingly positive response the show received.

All has been said and done about Devilman Crybaby but boy the direction of this show has gone way too dark. I know shows do not have to have a good ending but this is Shin Sekai Yori if Saki and Satoru were actually killed by the Squealer. I still think the show sagged a bit in the middle but the last four episodes are sick.

After the Rain is so good at everything except for giving us a definite ending. The anime prioritized the careful execution of the manga at the expense of the plot which hurts a little, but it gave way for some meaningful discussions about jaded adults and some lost dreams. This is actually good, great even, but Akira’s crush on Kondo was never resolved in the end. Go read the manga I guess?

Mild disappointment. That’s what I summarize Ancient Magus Bride in a nutshell. The thing is, the pacing is damn slow in from episode 16 that I pressed the playback at 25% faster than the normal just to finish an episode. The arc about Cartaphilus can be done in five episodes instead of like, eight and this show could have ended on a very strong note. It also does not help that the production values went south in the most crucial parts, which is a bummer to be honest.

Darling in the Franxx does not have an A-level type of writing but it is never boring. Anyway, episode 11 seems to take back on what made DarFla good and I love Mitsuru  the nuances between these characters. I am afraid the second half will be a bloodbath though.

Lastly, I was about to write off Yuru Camp as that generic SoL show this season but something struck me that this is actually an anti-thesis about the conventional “let’s  make friends and all shit then create dorama in episode 11 then end in a happy climax“. Rin remains a loner albeit she is not anti-social. No didactic lessons about the power of friendship and it gave what the viewer wants – camping. The real counterpart is not that good as compared to the anime but it made me consider go camping one of these days!

Yet I am still not the targeted audience for Yuru Camp though. I swear I doze off whenever the Camping Club is planning about something. Every Rin moment is a treasure though.

For the rest:

  • Shaft is the right studio to adapt Fate/Extra Last: Encore for its otherworldly visuals that it presented per episode. I got a feeling that ufotable will make the whole thing heavy-handed and A-1 Pictures will simply destroy the hell of its atmosphere. That said, I mildly enjoy the show for the same reason. Can’t Shaft remove these Monogatari tilts and Dutch angles like what they did to Sangatsu?! It has the best Saber and the most nondescript MC though.
  • Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens should have been the noitamina show this season not because of the themes but due to the fact that it could have benefited by trimming an episode or two. This was bloated somewhere in the middle, seriously. It was a shame since the first three episodes and the final four episodes are kinda awesome. I still do not see the Banba x Lin ship though.
  • Karakai Jouzo Takagi-san is good, but I am wondering if the Tsurezure Children format would have made this from ah-okay to great.  I mean, watching skits and the main couple is cute,  but I cannot concentrate on watching the same for 23 minutes per week. Yes, that is the only but fatal criticism I have for the show. Also, Takagi-san is Satan incarnate.
  • It must be nostalgia that I still keep on watching Cardcaptor Sakura at this point. The pacing is goddamn slow and we have to deal with half an episode Sakura dilly-dallying in her daily life. The action sequence remains cool but I think keeping the main plot for twelve episodes hidden is never good given how it wastes time for these cute but boring SoL moments.
  • Just when Black  Clover becomes good plot-wise, the production values fell apart. I still enjoy the hell out of it though. Asta is cute, so my opinion in this show is invalid.
  • I am not sure whether I liked Citrus or it is just me getting horny with these girls making out. Anyway, the show is never boring thanks to these ridiculous twists but I am not a fan of the abusive nature of Mei and Yuzu’s relationship in the middle of the show. Give Yuzu-chin a break! Harumin is the best girl though. Do not make her a lesbian, please? This is a trash, but not the kind of trash that ends up on a worst of the year list. It is just… you know. Something you cannot watch in a public place.
  • Studio Pierrot officially destroyed whatever is good in Sanrio Danshi. Seriously. How did they make a relatively girly show this stiff?
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2 thoughts on “Winter 2018 – Ranking the Best from this Season

  1. Violet Evergarden has a high rating overall, but I still believe it lacks some plot development. It tends to dwell a lot and I keep losing focus. Also I cannot seem to fully comprehend the visual design decisions that went into Violet Evergarden. The weird over brightness prevents the visual excellence from being truly memorable. This series is unfortunately a bigger miss for me than previous Kyoto Animation installments.

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    1. The annoying white filter aside, I think Violet Evergarden looks fine. There are moments of sakuga at par with previous KyoAni offerings, then you get frames that are really, really, annoying to the eye.

      As regards to the story, I sincerely think the episodic style suits Violet’s characterization well. That alone, I think is more than enough to justify its existence. Again, my major turn off with the show is the war themes that cannot seem to mesh well with its intimate moments.

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