Winter 2018 Anime Thoughts

With the close of the Winter 2018 season, the staff at Beneath the Tangles have decided to look back at the previous season and ask the following questions: What was the biggest surprise of the Winter 2018 season? What was your favorite series?

With all that in mind, we have an amazing and varied staff – so I can’t wait to see what everyone enjoys! Check them out below:


What was the biggest surprise of the season for you?

The biggest surprise for me came in the form of Sanrio Danshi (Sanrio Boys). What I was expecting was a series that plugged Sanrio products as a form of marketing tie in series. What I got was a serious show taking on gender norms, bullying, self-hatred, and how we view ourselves. It tackled issues high schoolers see on a regular basis and reminded male viewers that interest in cute things is nothing to be ashamed of and does not detract from who you are as a person. It was an enjoyable series that I looked forward to weekly which was very unexpected.

What was your favorite series of the Winter 2018 season?

Is it a cop out to mention the same series twice? Sanrio Danshi was a fantastic series that I would happily recommend. It was engaging, the characters were interesting, the animation was well done, and the message it promoted was excellent. As I said above, I was surprised how quickly it became my favorite series as I was kind of expecting it to be one big plug to sell me Sanrio products. Boy was I wrong and the feels – were so real and so engaging. Definitely consider checking it out.

Sanrio Danshi (Sanrio Boys) can be streamed legally at Crunchyroll.

Medieval Otaku

What was the biggest surprise of the season for you?

My biggest surprise this season is a close contest between A.I.C.O. Incarnation and A Place Further than the Universe.  In the end, bio science fiction and action beat out a travelogue which alternates between drama and comedy by turns.  Netflix is turning out some great anime, and I have to give them credit for A.I.C.O. Incarnation.  Our heroes’ perilous journey through a canyon filled with a blob-like biological hazard makes for a very unique setting.  And, a show so sanguine about the value of every human life–even those in a vegetative state–contains a message desperately needed by our death and pleasure obsessed culture.

What was your favorite series of the Winter 2018 season?

For me, this is another toss up, but beauty, drama, and depth of character (After the Rain) must triumph over Cool Japan, comedy, and lovable characters (Dagashi Kashi).  After the Rain, which is offered for viewing by Amazon, stands as the most beautiful show to air this season.  It was interesting to see how the relationship between Kondo and Akira developed from a romance to a friendship helping them both regain their first love.  Shows showing a movement from friendship to romance are far more common; yet it is not uncommon for people to seek romance when they have distanced themselves from their raison d’etre.  Who could not love a show which examines this topic with such beauty, sensitivity, and a healthy dose of comedy?



What was the biggest surprise of the season for you?

This was a great season for slice-of-life. Laid-Back Camp may be head of the pack, presenting something so wonderfully iyashikei that it won over many who would not normally be fans of such shows, but other slice-of-life shows this season also kept up well. The one that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and how it became one of the shows I looked forward to most was How To Raise A Mummy. This charming little show starts out about a boy who ends up taking care of an absolutely adorable miniature mummy (seriously, Mii-kun is the single most adorable thing this season), and that alone would have been nice on its own. From there, later episodes expand towards his friends and classmates and gives them cute little critters of their own to take care of, and the show becomes a feel-good story about a group of friends having fun with their pets. It’s not all fun and games, though, as the show does go into more emotional storylines, which serve to round out the experience. If that sounds like your type of show, check out all the adorableness you can handle on Crunchyroll!


What was your favorite series of the Winter 2018 season?

Two shows dominated this season by being absolutely perfect at doing what they do. The aforementioned Laid-Back Camp is one of the best iyashikei shows this side of ARIA, and in a lesser season would have easily taken the “favorite series” title. However, this season also gave us A Place Further Than The Universe, a show that absolutely nails coming-of-age character drama (with a side of adventure). Picking one over the other is honestly unfair because the two shows aim to fulfill very different purposes and they each execute their own purpose masterfully. In the end, though, A Place Further Than The Universe just manages to take the top spot, with a strong cast of characters that feel like real people (even the supporting cast) and some devastatingly powerful emotional scenes, as well as its ultimate message of stepping out and going on an adventure. Also, it’s an original series, so it has no source material to work off of and had to present a strong self-contained story on its own, something it managed to do incredibly well. I also must admit that, as someone who’s loved directer Atsuko Ishizuka’s previous adaptations and wanted to see her get more work, to see her take the helm of an original anime and knock it out of the park gives a great sense of fulfillment in its own way. If you want to see why it seems like everyone and their mother is praising this show, check it out on Crunchyroll!

Oh, and while you’re there, check out Laid-Back Camp, too, because that show is also ridiculously good.

Dr. Steve

The eponymous Dr. Franxx in a moment of true genius.

What was the biggest surprise of the season for you?

That honor goes to Darling in the FranXX, which continued to set higher and higher bars for just how godawfully bad it could be. It’s a real pity, because the opening scene about the one-winged bird searching for a partner was beautiful in every sense, and raised my hopes really high before subsequent scenes dashed them into the ground, beat them into a pulp, dropped a pile of ACME anvils upon them, and finally nuked them into a sea of glass. Since I’ve shared my thoughts on the series itself elsewhere, let me highlight here the surprise outside the series, and that is that it garnered such a fan base despite being the anime equivalent of chewing screws. Oh, and apparently this person named Kim became famous for choosing a hairstyle based on one of the characters, which shows how much anime is starting to penetrate into the mainstream. So that’s good, I guess.

If your Lenten penance was not severe enough, you can stream Darling in the FranXX legally on Crunchyroll.

Whatever they’re paying the series’ landscape artists, it isn’t enough.

What was your favorite series of the Winter 2018 season?

That’s a tough call, because I enjoyed so many! While Star Blazers came close to being my favorite, A Place Beyond the Universe stood above the rest by virtue of its unique story (high school girls traveling to Antarctica), mix of pathos and humor, and the gorgeous scenery! It was really tough to choose a screenshot to use here, in fact, because there were so many landscape shots that were so amazing. The characters are drawn and animated very well, and yet at times I had the feeling that I was watching cartoon characters moving against actual photographs, so sharp was the contrast.

You willshould can stream A Place Beyond the Universe legally through Crunchyroll.


What was the biggest surprise of the season for you?

Years ago, my favorite genre of anime, by a long shot, was slice of life. But as anime evolved, and slice of life series did, too, I found myself generally disliking this style of anime. For me, it became too boring, too meaningless, and so I didn’t even give Yuru Camp, an anime in this genre, a chance this season. It seemed like more of the same. But the buzz surrounding the show filled my ears and I relented, and I am so glad I did. The series did what a lot of great slice-of-life series do: it made me “live” with the characters, as if I was one of them, as if they were my friends. It provided me a new favorite character in Rin Shima, she who calls ceramic dogs, “jerks” and only comes out of solitude with much reticence.  Through her eyes, we get so see the joy of nature, the beauty of Mt. Fuji, and peace of camping. I don’t know if I’ve ever wanted to visit Japan so much!

Yuru Camp can be streamed through Crunchyroll.

What was your favorite series of the Winter 2018 season?

It was a really good season. Besides Yuru Camp, I also really enjoyed Violet Evergarden and appreciated After the Rain very much. March Comes in Like a Lion was excellent, too, and may have been my pick had it been longer (it was preempted by the Winter Olympics). But instead, I pick The Ancient Magus Bride as my favorite for the season. The show moved in such unexpected ways: down arcs that I didn’t think it would go, by providing characterizations that were unanticipated, and by delivering on powerful messages about hope and forgiveness. It didn’t hurt that the show is so unique, from its color palette to its emphasis on western lore and religion. A beautiful series to look at and a beautiful one to think on.

The Ancient Magus Bride can be streamed through Crunchyroll.

What about you? Tell us your favorites from the Winter 2018 season!


11 thoughts on “Winter 2018 Anime Thoughts

  1. I really like Laid-Back Camp too! It’s actually a lot more relaxing than cute. You didn’t mention this one, but Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card has to be my favorite so far! I loved the original series, and this on is looking to be a lot better! ^-^

    1. I just started watching the original series! Hoping to get to Clear Card once I’m done with that. Thanks for the recommendation! – Dr Steve

  2. 1. I was at first surprised After the Rain got a top spot simply because of the controversy, but remembering the way it ended makes it seem like it wasn’t so much about what is initially proposed.
    2. I’m happy to see A Place Further Than the Universe popping up so often in this list, the show’s “climax” definitely had a big impact on me.
    3. Not a single mention of Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san? That had to be my favorite this season, the comedy and wit was so incredibly engaging every episode that I couldn’t have asked for a better release from schoolwork. Also it added at least 5 new songs for me to listen to!

    1. Re 3, I’m not familiar with this series, at least by that name. What’s it about, and where did it stream? – Dr Steve

  3. Everytime I watch the Magus Bride, I’m always wondering how much research they did in order to make beautiful landscapes that look like true British countryside with rock walls, even the trees and plants seem accurate. If you watch enough British movies and BBC, you begin to get a feel for it. Anyways most of the time humans like to create steorotypes and caricatures of other cultures but rarely take the time to approach capturing the place and feel the way Magus Bride does. What American or British director ever captured the ancient East and it’s mythology the way Magus Bride has captured the British countryside and it’s Celtic mythology? Of course it’s still a strain of Japanese filtered translation on Western mythology. Still.. what Japanese critic held in high esteem a film where the west tried to capture Samurai, Ninja and the Cherry Blossoms. I haven’t heard of any. Maybe you could educate me…..

  4. Surprisingly, no one liked Violet Evergarden

    I thought this anime was an amazing look at how healing can come from the seemingly imperfect, and also how in helping others, we help ourselves.
    It was , in many ways the best anime of the season for me.

    1. I would have liked to watch Violet Evergarden but unfortunately Netflix US didn’t even release the show until just a few days ago. It’s definitely a show I’ll have to visit at some point!

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