16 Best Anime TV Shows And Movies In 2018
By GameSpot Staff on
These were the best anime shows and movies of 2018. What were your favorites?
This year has seen Netflix purchasing and releasing original anime to their streaming service, continuations of fantastic anime series we’ve seen before, and some exciting and brand new properties. Whether you’re joining alongside Midoriya as he trains to become the greatest hero of all time, witnessing the tedium of office work life which will make you want to scream, or have front row seats to a world of boxing, where people now wear mechanical gears to punch even harder; 2018 has been an incredible year in anime.
Shows like Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia have come back in style, with major reveals and character moments and both arguably being the best seasons of their respective shows to date. Even Sword Art Online has come back stronger than ever, ditching Kirito for a new protagonist and opening itself up for a new audience. If you’re not a fan of sports, there’s a certain charm to the way a sport is handled in anime, and Hanebado! could lead to you respecting badminton like never before, while Megalo Box will get you rooting for Gearless Joe and feeling every single punch. Of course, there are still plenty of new anime that were adapted from manga, like A Place Further Than The Universe, and that will make you wonder how many untouched gems are out there.
With so much amazing anime in 2018, it was difficult to limit our list. Check below for our choices for The Best Anime of 2018. When you’ve finished, let us know what we missed, and what anime you think should have made the cut, and let us know why! Then, check out some of our other end-of-year lists, such as the biggest anime to look forward to in 2019 or the biggest comics to read in 2019.
1. My Hero Academia: Season 3
After just three seasons, My Hero Academia has already become one of the greatest Shonen anime and manga of all time. The world of My Hero Academia is one where most of the population are now born with "quirks" giving them certain powers, which has turned many into heroes and others into villains. The show closely follows Izuku Midoriya, a quirkless boy whose dream is to be a great hero. He’s given the opportunity thanks to the greatest hero of all time passing on his powers to Midoriya.
The third season of the show is its strongest yet, with Midoriya--who’s still in the hero training academy UA--finally taking on true villains and being forced to make life or death decisions in order to save civilians. This season is filled with some of the largest events the show has seen so far, and the repercussions as a result. But, in the face of all of this, it’s the characters who stand out the most, as UA is filled with students and teachers who are genuinely a pleasure to spend time with. My Hero Academia stands out not just as a great anime, but also one of the greatest superhero stories ever told. -- Dave Klein
2. Kakegurui - Compulsive Gambler
Originally premiering in Japan in 2017, Kakegurui - Compulsive Gambler didn't come to Netflix in the U.S. and other western countries until February 1, 2018. The wait was definitely worth it though, as Kakegurui is a delightfully tense look at what might happen to a school if a transfer student turned out to be a little bit of a psychopath.
The series takes place at Hyakkaou Private Academy, a high school for the wealthy elite that trains its students for the hardships of the outside world by forcing them to gamble. Winners get special privileges, while losers are called dogs or cats (depending on gender) and forced to act like animals. Ryōta is a loser, but his luck changes when Yumeko transfers into his class. Although she's beautiful and acts rather shy, Yumeko secretly has a maniacal appearance and passionate fascination with the thrill that comes with gambling. She's very intelligent too, even able to outhink her opponents in games of chance.
Yumeko takes a liking to Ryōta, and looks out for him in exchange for his knowledge in how the academy's rules work so she can abuse the system to challenge people she shouldn't. Kakegurui follows the duo's systematic destruction of the academy's traditions, all while Yumeko and the opponents she goes up against make some of the most horrific facial expressions ever seen in an anime. They're terrifying to look at, but also kind of fascinating. Good luck trying to look away. -- Jordan Ramee
3. B: The Beginning
B: The Beginning is one of a slew of original anime Netflix approved for 2018. This suspense anime contains a mixture of science fiction and fantasy elements, as well as some mystery. Our primary characters are detectives with individual quirks who are fun to watch interacting with each other as they expertly solve the case of a serial killer. And when the conflicts ramp up, the anime contains some excellently animated and exciting action segments--from car chases to fantastical duels--which further elevate this show. Netflix has renewed B: The Beginning for a 2nd season, and for good reason. -- Dave Klein
4. School Babysitters
In School Babysitters, high school first-year Ryūichi Kashima and his preschooler younger brother Kotarō become orphans and homeless when both of their parents die in a plane crash. However, the chairwoman of a nearby prestigious academy, who's son and daughter-in-law also died in the crash, adopts the boys and enrolls Ryūichi at her school. She only has one condition: during breaks, lunch-time, and after-school hours, Ryūichi must help out in the club that watches the children of the academy's teachers.
The story that follows may be one of the cutest anime series of 2018, as Ryūichi spends his days looking after his expressionless brother, the loud-mouthed Taka, twins Takuma and Kazuma, polite Kirin, and adorable Midori. School Babysitters loses its focus once, when it devotes an episode to the love rivalry between the tsundere Maria and kind-hearted Yuki for Ryūichi's affection--which isn't nearly as entertaining as the rest of the show. Other than that small hiccup though, the anime will leave you smiling ear to ear for most of its run-time. There are emotional moments too--such as Ryūichi trying to deal with the grief of losing his parents while staying strong for his brother--but this is primarily a feel-good series. -- Jordan Ramee
5. Zombie Land Saga
In 2008, everything is going well for Sakura Minamoto. She's about to start her second year of high school and begin pursuing her dream of becoming an idol singer...and then she's hit and killed by a passing truck. 10 years later, Sakura is resurrected as a zombie alongside six other girls from various Japanese eras, and the eccentric necromancer that brought them back to life wants the seven to become an idol group.
What follows is a bizarre mixture of tropes from both the idol anime and zombie horror genres. But it's hilarious to watch, especially for the initial episodes. Then the show starts diving into fairly serious backstories of each idol group member, and that's when Zombie Land Saga becomes really special. There's plenty of stereotypical stuff you'd expect from an idol show--like overcoming personal fears and learning to trust your friends--but there's a lot more too. Most notable is the show's eighth episode, which does a phenomenal job acknowledging transgender identities and accepting people for who they are.
Zombie Land Saga isn't for everyone, but people who haven't been a fan of idol anime in the past should give this series a chance. The group of girls do several performances that aren't idol pop, including death metal and a rap battle. -- Jordan Ramee
6. Attack on Titan: Season 3
While some may have fallen off of the Attack on Titan bandwagon after the slower-paced Season 2, Season 3 once again ramps up the pacing to a break-neck speed, with almost constant revelations as the show progresses. In a blog post, Attack on Titan creator Hajime Iseyama explained he was unsatisfied with the pacing of this portion of his manga, and requested that it be sped up for the animated version. This decision pays off in a big way, and what we find are major military and government secrets being revealed, more about the world outside and the way titans work, as well as a plethora of incredible battles for our viewing pleasure. -- Dave Klein
7. Megalo Box
In the futuristic setting of Megalo Box, the sport of boxing has evolved to incorporate a mechanical "gear" boxers equip to increase their power, defense, and punching speed. We follow Junk Dog, a down and out boxer who regularly throws fights in order to make money and help pay off his managers debt to the mob. Dreams of proving himself, and a chance encounter with Yuri--the current Megalo Box champion--lead to him applying for the prestigious Megalonia tournament--but with the gimmick that he’ll fight gearless, with the new moniker "Gearless Joe."
While I wouldn’t place Megalo Box on the same pedestal as the boxing manga/anime "Hajime no Ippo," it’s a blast to watch Gearless Joe as he fights to work up the ranks with the constant threat of the mob on his and his managers’ back if they lose. It’s a true Rocky-style story, with an underdog working to climb his way to the top thanks to an unlikely chance he was given. -- Dave Klein
Based on a series of web shorts that introduced Sanrio's "Aggressive Retsuko" a few years ago, Aggretsuko's full length anime debut on Netflix was by no means a sure thing. Sure, the title character, a disgruntled but good-natured red panda who hates her job and doesn't know what to do about it, is adorable and relatable. But does the show's main gimmick--that mild-mannered Retsuko takes to karaoke bars by night to spew shrieking death metal--really have the legs to support a whole show?
The answer, it turns out, is hell yes. The incongruous blend of adorable, Hello Kitty-style anime and outrageous death metal is surprisingly endearing. And when it all comes together in episodes like the rap battle between Retsuko and her literal pig of a boss, you'll be glad Retsuko has an outlet for all that rage. -- Mike Rougeau
9. Devilman Crybaby
The original Devilman manga was created in the 1970s, has received multiple anime and video game adaptations since, and served to inspire other major series such as Berserk.
Devilman Crybaby on Netflix is its latest adaptation, which did a phenomenal job being true to the original work while modernizing its setting. The story focuses on the relationship between Ryo Asuka, who’s discovered the existence of demons, and his best friend Akira Fudo, who uses the power of demons to transform into the titular Devilman. The show asks what would happen if evil were used to fight evil in graphic violent detail--all while telling a very personal story between two friends. It’s also worth noting the artistic style of this adaptation, which is both unique and a breath of fresh air. -- Dave Klein
10. Laid-Back Camp
Laid-Back Camp is a wholesome slice-of-life anime about a group of girls who love camping. The story primarily follows Rin and Nadeshiko, two high school girls who meet one fateful night when Rin is out camping alone and Nadeshiko is stranded after falling asleep at the campsite without a way to get home.
The experience leaves an impression on Nadeshiko who decides to join her school's Outdoor Activities Club so that she can learn how to camp. From there the anime diverges, with some episodes focusing on the experienced camper Rin going out on solo outings, and others following the hilarious misadventures of Nadeshiko and her two new club mates, Chiaki and Aoi, which also act as makeshift camping tutorials for the audience. If you aren't interested in camping before watching Laid-Back Camp, you will be by the end of the 12-episode series.
Laid-Back Camp is beloved for its laugh-out-loud humor and easy-to-binge episodes, but the storyline of Rin and Nadeshiko is the selling point of the series. Most anime would have the flamboyant Nadeshiko forcing the quiet Rin out of her shell, and labeling such a transformation as a good thing. Laid-Back Camp doesn't do that, and instead tells an adorable story of two very different girls learning to trust each other and appreciate their differences without forcing anyone to do something they don't want to do. -- Jordan Ramee
11. A Place Further Than the Universe
A Place Further than the Universe is one of the first anime to air in 2018 and it's also one of the best television series of the year. The anime follows four high-school aged girls--Mari Tamaki, Shirase Kobuchizawa, Hinata Miyake, and Yuzuki Shiraishi--who decide to try and join a research expedition that's going to Antarctica.
Each girl has her own reasons for wanting to go. Mari wants to make the most of her youth after being too scared her whole life to ever try anything hard, Shirase wants to find her mother who went missing in Antarctica three years prior and is presumed dead, Hinata wants to do something adventurous before taking her college entrance exam, and Yuzuki is an actress who's never had friends and wants to go with the three after they go out of their way to befriend her.
A Place Further than the Universe packs a tremendous amount of well-written humor, drama, and character development into its 13 episodes, telling a bittersweet story about four girls struggling to overcome their shortcomings as they attempt to achieve an impossible goal together. The anime's soundtrack is also some of the best musical composition for the year. A Place Further than the Universe is just one of those shows that anyone of any age can enjoy, so if you haven't added this show to your Crunchyroll queue, you absolutely should. -- Jordan Ramee
12. Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
Early in 2018, we saw Sword Art Online take a break from Kirito's adventures to instead focus on Llenn, the in-game avatar of Karen Kohiruimaki. Gun Gale Online takes place after the events of SAO, when VR is once again becoming popular as safeguards are put in place to stop anyone from being trapped inside a video game.
Karen is a shy university student who's very self-conscious about being much taller than the average Japanese person. Her best friend Miyu advises her to try VR in order to live as someone else, and Karen settles on the first-person shooter Gun Gale Online after the game assigns her a little girl avatar. Now going by Llenn, Karen shows a natural talent for FPS games and eventually finds herself starring in GGO's new battle royale mode as "The Pink Devil."
Most of the anime follows Llenn and her teammates' efforts to win in these battle royale matches, which span multiple episode arcs. GGO is a bit more lighthearted and has a more believable plotline than SAO, and it takes every chance it can to make fun of its predecessor for it. But at the heart of the show is a message of learning to love yourself, and how escaping into the fantasy of video games can empower the lives of both women and young girls. -- Jordan Ramee
13. Bloom Into You
If stories that focus on lesbian relationships are your thing, then you want to check out Bloom Into You. The same is true if you like analyzing art, as Bloom Into You uses cool POV shots and animation effects to create one of the prettiest series of the year.
Bloom Into You breaks a lot of the conventions of your typical yuri (genre that focuses on lesbian relationships) anime. The anime's main couple, Yuu and Touko, are both cute, but their relationship isn't the typical self-assured lesbian meets the shy girl who doubts her sexuality, something that's present in several other series within the genre. Touko, who acts confident, actually struggles to embody the image of what everyone expected her dead older sister to be. Yuu, who seems very shy, is quiet around people she likes because she has trouble experiencing feelings of love.
Yuu and Touko have an unusual relationship, but it's one that works for them. Bloom Into You addresses the struggles of growing up and trying to understand love, as well as disproving the myth that high school girls who like each other are just "going through a phase." The show is worth watching for that scene alone. -- Jordan Ramee
There have been plenty of excellent sports anime in the past few years, and that trend continued in 2018 with Hanebado. If you normally watch anime promos, you probably caught a glimpse of this badminton series, which captured a lot of attention for the detail of the girls' animation as they play. You can feel the underlying power reverberating through the swings.
Hanebado follows numerous characters, but primarily focuses on Ayano Hanesaki. The daughter of a star badminton player, Ayano is gifted at the sport, but she's abandoned by her mother after Ayano loses an important match in a tournament. Years later, Ayano is recruited to join her high school team once the captain notices her talent.
In your typical sports anime, this is where the protagonist would have repeated positive experiences with her new teammates and learn to love the sport again. Hanebado is not your typical sports series. Instead, it's a show about the mental and emotional damage that a parent's overbearing actions can have on their child. Do not go into Hanebado anticipating a purely positive experience, but you should expect a well-written and beautifully animated series that dives right into the part of sports that most anime in the genre never even acknowledge. -- Jordan Ramee
15. Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku
Not all geeks get to do what they love for a living. That's the main story behind Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku, an anime that focuses on four adults trying to live their own version of normal.
There's Hirotaka, a hard-core gamer; Narumi, a fujoshi who's also a fan of otome games and idols; Hanako, a cosplayer who loves dressing up as handsome men, and Taro; a pretty normal dude who just enjoys dabbling in anime or manga every once in a while. All four are invested in their personal interests, but feel the need to hide who they are while working normal office jobs. Hirotaka is also dating Narumi while Hanako and Taro are together.
Wotakoi addresses the hardships in being an adult that loves anime or manga, things that most of the world still deems weird and childish, while also showing the two couples navigate their relationships. The mixture of cute and serious blends together fairly well, and anyone who's felt nervous or uncomfortable explaining their passion for video games or anime to a family member or friend who doesn't partake in said media will probably end up relating to at least one of the conflicts the four main characters go through. It's a good watch, and you'll probably end up dancing to the anime's opening with every episode. It's super catchy. -- Jordan Ramee
16. Planet With
Stick with me on this, cause Planet With is a hell of a ride to try and explain. That said, the anime is one of the best to come out in 2018 and absolutely worth adding to your queue if you're a fan of mecha, science fiction, and action.
Okay, so Planet With is the story about Sōya Kuroi, a high schooler with amnesia who lives with a giant purple cat-like creature, named Sensei and who Sōya can understand, and a perpetually happy maid, named Ginko. His normal life is suddenly interrupted when mysterious beasts descend onto Japan, only to be stopped by seven men and women who can transform into giant armored beasts. However, when Sōya realizes that he and the seven heroes aren't exactly on the same side, he ends up fighting them and getting dragged into an interstellar war that has come to Earth. And then things start getting strange.
Again, I know the show sounds bizarre--even by anime standards--but it's an incredibly well-written story that's full of pulse-pounding action scenes and witty writing. Planet With's greatest strength is in how it breaks the audience's expectations of what's going to happen. This series isn't afraid to subvert genre tropes, making for one of the most unique watches of 2018. It's wild, but in the best possible way. -- Jordan Ramee