2018 in Anime – What’s A Geek! Highlights!

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 CastlevaniaNetflix 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.

Devilman Crybaby

Watch Devilman CrybabyThat’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.

Violet Evergarden

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

Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashior Wotakoi is an anime adaptation of a webmanga series that had its humble beginnings in the site Pixiv, drawn and authored by Fujita. Wotakoi is a romance/comedy anime that begins with Momose Narumi starting her new job. She’s walked through the office by her senior and bumps into her childhood friend, Hirotaka Nifuji, who happens to work there as well. She then invites Nifuji to drink after work where she vents all her frustrations about hiding the fact that she’s an otaku while trying to maneuver life as an adult, especially in the area of romance. She doesn’t mind revealing this to Nifuji because he is an otaku as well. Nifuji then says “Why don’t you find someone who’s accepting of the fact that you’re an otaku?” from there on you probably understand what follows.
Wotakoi serves as a breath of fresh air for those who are used to watching rom-com anime/manga that focuses on high school characters. The story focuses on office workers who are around their late 20’s and it shows a more mature take on romance unlike the needlessly drawn out, roundabout romances you find in high school romance stories. The main couple gets together on the first episode. That’s mind boggling for someone who’s watched certain series where it takes a season or more for the main couple to get it through their thick skulls that they like each other.
It’s quite obvious that the target audience is otaku. Its humor and references do stem from different aspects of otaku culture. It will mention games, anime/manga, and conventions often. So if you’re not quite into that scene you may feel lost at times while watching. The anime is well animated, the OP is very catchy and will ear-worm you if you marathon it, and the
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

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.

Every episode contains some form of hi-jinks that happens that serves as the center for all the comedy magic that this anime brings. The voice acting work is great and really adds a lot in the delivery of the jokes. The beautiful rendition of Star Spangled Banner from the soundtrack got me cracking up when I heard it.
Early warning, this anime’s comedy isn’t subtle. Most times the humor is low-brow and crass. It also uses a lot of visual gags such as drastic changes in art style and out of this world facial expressions. But Asobi Asobase does its gags in the best possible way. While watching, I had to take a break once in a while or I would’ve had to be hospitalized for lack of oxygen due to a serious laughing fit. The comedy is a steaming pile of garbage but in the funniest, best possible way. Asobi Asobase is a comedy anime that’s great to watch if you need a pick me up from having a bad day.

Boku no Hero Academia (Season 3)

Boku no Hero Academia found itself as anime adaptation after being in the iconic Shounen Jump magazine. My Hero Academia tells the story of a world where most of the population started to possess powers, or Quirks. These range from superhuman strength, to mind control. And in this world exist Midoriya Izuku, a teenager who ends up having the same powers as his idol, All-Might. We’ve written about the anime before, and I’ll say it again: heroes come in different forms, shapes, and sizes. And Boku no Hero Academia shows this more this season.
This is the third season, so needless to say you need to watch the previous seasons to understand what’s happening. However, this definitely deserves a spotlight in our highlights list because of that one fight scene. Fans of the show will know this, and people about to watch should anticipate that clash of fists. Otaku Twitter blew up with cheers towards this fight scene – not just because of the animation, but because of how it followed-through with its escalation.
Studio Bones’ animation did justice to this much-awaited battle, and it really brought out the impact and power behind every hit. Another battle towards the end of the season finally showed how Boku no Hero Academia could pull off a good fight scene. This matters, especially to me, as a well-choreographed fight scene with smooth animation can really showcase the power behind Quirks, which remains a highlight in the series.
This season also introduced new characters that I cannot wait to see more of in the next season. It’s a shame that next season will not be until October 2019. But no doubt, if it’s anything like this season, or better, it would be worth the wait.

Cells At Work

Cells at Work started as a manga by Akane Shimizu. It’s about anthropomorphized cells inside the human body. It re-imagines the structures of the human body to more relatable imagery such as cities, factories, and offices. Likewise, the anthropomorphized cells are given personalities and quirks that fit their job/function. Simple enough, right? And while the anime doesn’t exactly scream top-tier, the subject matter it tackles does make it an oddity worthy for you to check out.
Each episode focuses on a certain function or part of the human body as well as potential harms that can afflict it. The animation is okay. There are times where it uses CGI but it blends in well with the rest of the art style and isn’t jarring. The soundtrack isn’t stand out. But whatever Cells at Work lacks in any other aspect, it makes up for in its accurate depiction of the human body. There have been people coming out and praising Cells At Work for being accurate in its description of functions of cells.  It’s not a stretch to call Cells at Work the most educational anime of 2018!

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.


Too lonely for Isolation Too weak for Strength Too scattered for Stillness So I sold my soul to the devil

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