*There used to be a website called anime academy. It was awesome!!!! This is not what this post is about!*

Has your favourite anime/movie/song ever won an “of the year” honour? Are you like a lot of people, the type that recognizes highly awarded works to be good and enjoys them but your personal favorite is either some bizzare indie thing no one else has heard of or something most people didn’t consider “fancy” enough for the distinction? I bring this up because I asked around and no one ever admits to having the top rated stuff as their favorite.

pretty derby
I’m just kidding, Pretty Derby isn’t even nominated

Ok so more specifically, I watched and read a whole bunch of best anime of 2018 lists and felt rather under represented. Sure I’m a weirdo with weirdo tastes. I’m very used to my favorite pieces of entertainment not having broad appeal. And with anime, it’s even worse since I watch very little seasonal stuff and most of my favorite anime of 2018 came out in 2014. Still it’s telling that the top spots were well liked by most people I spoke with but not more.

It seems that these types of lists are either the creators personal choice or a normalized average. Meaning they tend to be everyone’s second or third choice giving them a decent overall score rather than exceptional individual scores. They’re the middle ground or the very publicized shows everyone has at least heard about.

It’s sort of pointless to dwell on the specifics when you consider that Best in this case means no one’s worst. Most o.k.! So why do we even bother to put these lists out and why do I always read them? We just love a popularity contest don’t we?

MHA poll
I bet I know!

Well to me, they’re a great way to get an overview of the state of anime fandom. After reading tons of these I manage to come up with two conclusions, in 2018, all anime was either action Shonen. Ok I’m exaggerating. But, In every compiled list I saw (by this I mean listings that used votes and not just the author’s personal choice) 80% of the categories were won by either My Hero Academia, Black Clover (inorite!), Boruto (my autocorrect keeps wanting to change that for burrito), Attack on Titan, Devilman crybaby with frequent mentions of A place further from the sun and March comes in like a Lion 2 and occasionally Yuru Camp. Aside from Crunchyroll, I have not seen much about Violet Evergarden which was surprising.

I’m very happy to see the success of March but otherwise there seems to be certain homogeneity in these anime. Even with all the hype violet evergarden and megalobox seem to have largely come and gone. Obviously I’m not talking about us anibloggers here. Our exposure to anime is way beyond the average fan. But those who care enough about anime to vote in these online polls do have some commonality of tastes.

The only downside to that is that it creates a sort of feedback loop. You see, most of the time when you stumble upon a website asking you to vote for anime of the year, first you’ll have a bunch of choices. You won’t necessarily pick the best, you’ll pick the one you’ve seen, *or have heard of…* Most people don’t bother with write in choices. So you just end up with best of lists that might as well be ratings charts.

you guessed it… they are all taller than me

Then when readers find those lists, those are the shows they now know about and are likely to seek out. This boosts ratings and recognition even more. In response, studios start to produce, finance and advertise more series in that vein, so those are the shows people are most likely to hear about and watch and so on.

I’m not teaching you anything here. Neither am I complaining exactly. I love My Hero Academia, I’m glad it got made and is generously budgeted. But I also like variety and weirdo shows a lot. Anime landscape is one of the most diverse in part because of how notoriously cheap it is to make coupled with an almost complete lack of oversight. It’s a market where normalization isn’t as necessary for survival. Happily this seems to apply to distribution as well and subtitling is hardly a consideration.

But that won’t necessarily hold true forever. Most of the truly innovative premises in 2018 were confined to short programs. There weren’t that many risks taken unless you count Darling in the winter season and there’s no need to open that can of worms again.

I would open a can of puppies anyday!

All of this is to say that I’m really I’m really glad you guys are there. It’s because of you that all the “smaller” shows still get some recognition. For the seasonal bloggers who take the time to report on series no one seems to be watching. You’ve made me add so much stuff to my list I probably wouldn’t have noticed at all otherwise. And in 5 years or so I will get around to watching it!

And I’m also glad for bloggers like me. Who bother to report on shows that are long past their prime and no one has talked about in forever. I know those posts don’t tend to be that popular. Believe me, I know! But well, I really like them and I’ve discovered so many series that have become favourites this way. Like Time of Eve and Humanity has Declined…

Humanity has declined
do you work in a law firm too?

And also to awesome readers who make watching suggestions. So far you guys have not steered me wrong!

I understand that more mainstream sites and media on anime will focus on already popular shows because that’s how you bring in the bigger audience so I think it’s awesome that there’s a place for everything else.

As often happens this post started out as one thing and ended up as something else entirely. So of the yearly lists are fine but they don’t represent me. And thankfully you guys are still here for all the weirdos like me who can’t wait for the next big budget sports mecha anime! It will be the best in so many ways!

of course it exist!

30 thoughts

  1. I feel that one’s anime tastes don’t really matter. If you enjoy anime, you enjoy anime. The people I know personally enjoy anime don’t lie many of the series that I enjoy and there are some cases where the reverse is true. Anime of the Year and other awards are kind of a fun thing but not something I take too seriously. It s cool to see what people vote but if I disagree with the choice, I don’t feel left out or alienated. I will admit if something is popular I will generally check it out due to curiosity but if I don’t like it I drop it. The fact that someone is willing to say, “hey I like that show instead” is not weird- it actually makes me respect them more. I guess my point is that in my mind it’s perfectly fine to go against the grain on something like picks for favorite anime.

  2. As you and some others know, I’m definitely that one guy who’s tastes are outside of the mainstream because I like so much obscure stuff. Hahahaha! I was just having a little talk about how far out of the loop I am with the newer anime and how award shows are extremely overrated (yes, including the Oscars and Grammys). The last thing I can think of that I liked that won an award as far as anime is concerned was The House of Small Cubes, but I didn’t watch that until roughly a decade after it existed and won an Oscar for Best Animated Short (it was made by a tiny studio called Robot Communications and it beat out PIXAR’S entry that year). Besides that, I guess I’m weird with the random obscure things I like.

          1. I hear that Anime started in Japan. I always thought that the Chinese and Japanese cultures were cool!

  3. I’m sort of impressed with the amount of attention Devilman Crybaby got, since it was a Netflix show, and Netflix shows fall outside the simulcast conversations. I’m convinced that Little Witch Academia and Hisone to Masotan would have gotten more views had they been in the simulcast loop – but when everyone watches the anime at their own pace the let’s-watch-it-together effects goes away. So kudos to Devilman Crybaby for breaking the curse. (I haven’t seen it yet.)

    Universe and Lion certainly deserve their mentions. My own favourite show of 2018? Hakumei to Mikochi. There were actually a few people besides me watching the show, so it’s not as obscure as Merc Storia, which I also enjoyed, but from what I can tell I watched nearly alone.

    It’s a good thing I give nearly everything a try, or I’d be missing a lot a stuff. For example, Shounen Maid. Poor boy’s mother dies, and his rich uncle takes him in, makes him wear a maid-outfit and clean his house. The premise sounded soooo much like fetish trash (and not mine) that I thought there’s an off-chance I’d really love it, but a much, much bigger chance that it’d just not end up be my thing. What I didn’t know: the boy’s a clean freak, and due to his life-style has grown up with a fierce determination to live according to he-who-doesn’t-work-doesn’t eat. Meanwhile the rich uncle is a lacksadaisical drifter, whose only serious when it comes to his job – a fashon designer. So when the boy insists to take a job of cleaning the horribly neglected house rather than just be taken in, the uncle makes him wear a maid costume he designed as a joke, but the boy takes it completely seriously, and they bond over this as they baffle each other. It’s such a cute, heartwarming show, with a lot of likable side characters, too. Few people triedt the show, and among those that did a lot of them found themselves bored. But I love the show with its caring oddballs growing closer. If I weren’t the type to try everything I might have completely missed this gem. Practically its only blogging champion I remember is Guardian Enzo from Lost in Anime. (If I hadn’t tried it anyway, I’d have been eternally greatful for the recommendation.)

    I think the last time a popular favourite was my favourite show of the year was in 2011 with Madoka (looking back, my favourite show of 2011 is now probably Hourou Musuko, though I still love Madoka a lot). When something like that happens its really weird.

    Shows I really like being popular darlings isn’t that rare, though. Last year, both Universe and Lion apply. Bloom into You as well.

    I’m actually pretty fond of Uma Musume, and I certainly haven’t forgotten the prize for a doughnut eating contest being a giant plush doughnut, which was one of the genius moments of 2018 (and Gold Ship was one of genius characters of 1028).

      1. because.moe says it’s only available on Funimation in Canada. It used to be on Crunchy, but I suppose it left after the Funi/Crunchy split…

          1. It really doesn’t seem a high priority show for anyone. I found it on amazon prime, but for purchase only (and I’m not sure it’s available in Canada anyway).

            I really wish the show were more available.

  4. Well, a lot of main stream anime news outlets/sites are shifting to a heavy Western “political agenda” view on anime. It’s actually a good thing to continue being separate from them.

    Although, big sites like Tokyo Otaku Mode and Honey’s Anime remained political neutral since they’re based in Japan (or at least as far as I notice).

  5. “A place further from the sun.” Really, Irina? Is this what they call “shock therapy?” A Place Further than the Universe still has the single purest, truest representation of friendship-evidenced-through-shared-grief that I’ve ever witnessed, in ep 12. . .also, my wife just returned from a trip home to the Philippines with a side trip to Singapore, and she says that the light show over the bay is every bit as spectacular as shown in the show. . .

    1. I mentioned it as one of the rare non shonen entries that got a bit more attention in reward posts… It’s still on my to watch list so I have nothing to say about the show itself but I heard nothing but great things.

  6. I do a mix of older shows and seasonal shows and I find the older more obscure ones get more interest. I don’t know if it’s because there’s more chance that people will have seen it or the nostalgia factor. The more niche the show the less competition on search results too. Turn the weirdo up to eleven and enjoy the hell out of it. The more engaged the reviewer the better the review in my opinion.

        1. Oh we are! I reviewed Ancien and the Magic Tablet as well as Lulu over the Wall when I saw them at movie festivals before wide distribution and no one read those. Stuff like Days and Gathkun was pretty much ignored as well. Even Arakawa pulled in a lot less views than average. People don.’t read my Natsume posts much either but I will not give up. Of course anything that even mildly looks like a cute boy show is going to get less views than if I published my grocery list. That’s just a given.
          Maybe I should publish grocery lists…

  7. I know what you mean. I like to write about games that are well past their primes, partly for the reason that they still deserve to be played and appreciated and partly because I’m still too poor to buy the hot new games and too unknown to get review copies. And series like Humanity Has Declined definitely deserve to still be watched, even though they’ve become obscure.

      1. They really are, one of my favorite old games is Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I love the adorable graphics and it’s an easy game! I never get tired of it!

  8. i mean, i kinda entered this blogging thing with the expectation that my taste was weird, so it’s not too surprising to me. i agree that it’s disconcerting when you write about a show and it feels like barely anyone is watching, but i dont think it bothers me as much as it used to. im trying to shift away from “people should like the things i like” to “here’s why i like this if you’re interested”. it’s why i dont really like the idea of the “in defense of” post because it almost sounds like “this is why you’re wrong not to like this”

    1. I agree. I have no issue with being the ONLY person who liked the second season of Black Butler – fight me! And I get that anime is still niche so for the great majority of peole it really only boils down to a handful of shows. Their loss

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