Hey gang. It’s the last day of the year. 2018 is in the bag, and we are done with it.
Really not sorry to see this one go, if I’m being honest.
So, instead of doing an anime review today, I wanted to take a bit to kind of reflect back on the year, and maybe look ahead with a bit more or a positive vibe than I’ve had. Maybe. Probably not.
Not really a positive kind of person.
2018, obviously, was not a good year for me. To be fair, it was one of the worst years of my life. You guys already know that, of course. Well, most all of you. There’s a few who might not know why.
Back in March, my girlfriend of 23 years, Patrica, lost her battle with cancer, and passed away. Thankfully, it was a very quiet passing. She was not aware of what was happening. More or less, without getting into it all, she went to sleep, and slipped away.
I have pretty much been a wreck every since.
Now, I don’t want to dwell on that, cause that’s really depressing. For me, anyway. Not like I need the help. I could probably make Marvin the Android feel good about his life if I cared to.
Please, somebody, get that joke. I’m gonna be really bummed if nobody does.
It’s hard to talk about a lot of this stuff, though, cause that pall is kind of hanging over me, and even the good aspects of the year, feel kind of pale because of it. Still, it hasn’t been a completely terrible year, and there’s been more than a few things that have been good.
Gonna try to focus on those. Please ignore the soft sounds of sobbing.
Yeah, okay, look, I need to make jokes about this, okay? It’s about the only way I actually can deal with it. So, smile, nod, and ignore everything else, yeah? This’ll be less painful for both of us if we do that.
Real bundle of sunshine, that’s me. Like a rainbow made of puppies.
Hey, let’s talk about anime. That’s a subject we all love.
This past year, I watched a hell of a lot of anime. Some of it was really good. Some of it was really bad. Most of it was just okay. A few surprised me by being better than I expected. A couple gave me a new standard for terrible.
Starting at the bottom, Ayakashi and Gyo became me examples of just how bad anime can be. The first for being the equivalent of a four year old trying to explain The Avengers, and the second for just being one of the dumbest things I have ever seen. I mean, attack of the killer zombie fish with robo-legs, that fart the world to death.
I don’t know how that even got made. It feels like somewhere, somebody should have slapped the shit out of whoever was pitching it. Just, over and over again, until they learned their lesson. That any time they had an idea, to shut the fuck up about it.
Now, I’m a known defender of SAO as being not the worst thing ever made. Sure, the show has long had faults, but overall, it’s nowhere near as bad as it’s billed. Ayakashi and Gyo, on the other hand, really are, even objectively, terrible. So, yeah. That will now forever be my argument anytime anyone brings up SAO as being he worst thing ever.
Gyo. Shut the fuck up.
Better than those, but still pretty disappointing to me, was Nanana’s Buried Treasure, a show that couldn’t decide what the fuck it wanted to be about, who the bad guys were, or how physics work. It wasn’t unwatchable, but it did require a certain level of willful ignorance to enjoy. Which was still better than the melodrama riddled, possibly pro-incest disaster that was Myself;Yourself. Cause once you hit the incest button, you’ve kinda hit the bottom, really.
Granted, neither of those shows pissed me off the way Magical Girl Site did. That show. Christ.
Look, I really enjoyed the deconstruction of the magical girl genre that Madoka Magica pulled off, but that was largely because it was done with intelligence, consideration, and heart. Magical Girl Site is like somebody shitting their pants, and asking you to think of it as Madoka Magica. Everything about it ended up pissing me off. While I wouldn’t say I hated it, I certainly didn’t like it.
Really, though, I think that’s about it for stuff I actively hated, or just found tiresome and dumb. Not bad considering how many shows I actually watched. Unless I’m forgetting one. I do that sometimes.
A good bunch of the stuff I watched just left me lukewarm. Shows like Btooom!, that had a lot of potential, but kind of wasted too much of it on cliches. B: The Beginning, a show that was half intense murder mystery, half shonen superhero battle, and would have been fucking amazing if it had left out that second half, almost amazed me.
Basilisk and Classroom Crisis were both shows that had a good premise, and some interesting characters, but never really seemed to do anything with either. While one is a ninja driven Game of Thrones murder fest, and the other is about space rockets, both just sort of meandered about, before wrapping up with an ending that was almost satisfying, but not quite.
Actually, Juni Taisen falls into that category, as well. I had totally forgotten I had even watched that one until I looked at my list. I mean, it’s right here, on the other half of my monitor from the word program I’m writing this in, and I still forgot about it. So, that should tell ya right there. It wasn’t awful, but it certainly wasn’t memorable, either.
You can add a bunch of others to that, too, like Girls Beyond the Wasteland, which I can remember nothing about now without going and re-reading the review. Or And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online, which I only remember enough about to know it kind of annoyed me, but not enough I ever actively stopped watching it. I forget why now.
Somewhat above those were shows like Non Non Biyori, a show that literally goes nowhere, and does nothing, but manages to be cute, sweet, and heart felt despite that. When you can make a whole show that has no substance, and make it good, then yeah, that’s better than a show you literally can’t remember anything about.
Waiting in the Summer manages this as well, with it’s science fiction romance comedy plot. I enjoyed it, and felt the ending was very well done, which is always great. It certainly wasn’t deeply original or anything, and it leaned on cliches a bit too heavily, but it did stick the landing, and that counts.
I guess Sagrada Rest and Kokoro Connect technically manage that as well, but looking back on both, whatever my impressions at the time was, I find them both to be sort of forgettable now. I recall I disliked how infallible the main lead of Sagrada was, and outside the eerie voice work done for the mysterious creature giving the kids a hard time in Kokoro, I don’t really remember much about it outside the basic premise.
So… yeah. They didn’t stick with me. Somewhat forgettable is better than completely forgettable, though.
There was a few shows that surprised me, like Gamers, One Week Friends, and Kotoura-san, as being way better than their gimmick rom cam nature would imply. ACCA proved to be a rather thrilling little ride, while Yuri On Ice was a visual treat with a great story. Wandering Son was a well done look at the struggles of the transgender, while Amagi Brilliant Park successfully made me enjoy it’s rather daft concept.
There was some other stuff in there. Never mind all that, though. Let’s talk just about the shows that blew me away, or surprised me with how complex and deep they were.
Fractale hits the bottom of this list. A much more well rounded set of characters, deep mythology, and some rather horrific questions raised by the show kept me deeply invested, and while the ending felt a little like a cop out, it was overall a very compelling story about morality.
Made in Abyss was… shit… Mitty feels. Abort. ABORT! Too many Mitty feels!
Fuck. That show was way better than I expected, and way darker than I was prepared for. Great, but… holy fuck.
Happy Sugar Life. Now there was a show about really crazy damaged people fucking each other up even worse, that was strangely compelling, gripping, and yet, heart felt, and in a really twisted way, very sweet. It was one of the stranger things I’ve seen in a while, but definitely a show I will never forget.
RElife ended up being my favorite as far as romance comedies went, though. I won’t say it’s my favorite rom com anime ever, cause My Love Story exists, but out of what I watched this year, it was the one I certainly laughed at the most, and enjoyed the most. Like with all rom coms in anime, it had a gimmick, but somehow, it just surpassed all that to be an amazing treat.
Then there was World End. Yeah. That show wrecked me. Like, straight up wrecked me. I can see why some people might be harsh on it, but for me, it really was just one of those things where I felt it, and I admit, I cried my eyes out by the end. It was great, and while there were things about it that hurt me, I loved it.
Hoseki no Kuni. Man. What a deep, beautiful, amazing story. I’m still hoping we get another season of that. I want another. I want more of that strange world, and those amazing characters, and everything that goes with it. I don’t know for sure if it’ll happen, but I really hope so. Out of everything I watched this year, this is the thing I want more of the most.
Also deeply impressive was Yona of the Dawn, a show I had avoided watching for many years, for reasons I can’t even remember now. Having seen it… wow. That show was amazing. Yona’s transformation from spoiled princess to warrior, and the many morally gray areas the show walked in were gripping, intense, and thrilling. The comedy was brilliant, the characters unforgettable, and just everything about it was great.
Children of the Whales was also a really good show. Completely different from the other ones I really enjoyed, mind you, but a very compelling show, with rich characters, a deep world mythology, and plenty of great twists and turns. Definitely a show I wouldn’t mind seeing a second season for, at some point.
Now, that just leaves me with one show that I think made the biggest impact, surprised me the most, and I think, maybe even helped me the most. Violet Evergarden.
I can’t even think about this show without getting a bit misty in the eyeballs. It’s also impossible to describe in any brief way. It’s gorgeously animated, with insanely detailed character designs, breath taking music, and a plot that, I must admit, was oddly cathartic for me.
Several of you recommended this show to me, on several occasions. So, I really owe you guys a big thanks you for that. I didn’t watch it until in July, months after Patrica had passed, and I’m glad I waited till then. I don’t recall when it aired, but I am glad I could watch it all the way through. It helped me deal with my grief, in so many ways. It was like I was being given permission to feel what I was feeling, being told it was okay for me to be so hurt, and angry, and everything. It was, in every real way, a show that did, and continues to, help me keep going. Cause I’ve watched it a dozen times now, and I don’t wanna say this show saved me, but damn. It sure as hell did a lot to keep me together.
That’s a big thing. An anime that did all that for me is a big thing. So, yeah, it was the best thing I watched all year, and it was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. I don’t know that I’d be as okay as I am without it.
Now, there was one other show I watched this year, but I never wrote a review for, because I could never figure out how to even begin tackling it. That was Kill la Kill. I wanted to review it, but, I still don’t know where to start with that one. It’s so damn deep, and complex, and it throws cliches out there, then just straight up murders them. It was one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever watched, but, the way I write reviews, I couldn’t figure out how to talk about it. Not and do it any kind of justice.
If you haven’t seen it, you should. It was really good.
I watched a bunch of anime films, this year, too. Patema Inverted, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, Your Name, and Redline are all anime films that absolutely top the charts for me as must see movies. Sure, they all have their faults, but all of them are so beautiful, or original, or just plain clever, that they hold a special place for me as something I was glad I watched, and have watched several times since.
In the case of Redline, I bought that fucking thing immediately, cause it was so out there, crazy, cool, and fun, I couldn’t not.
So, hell of a year for me in anime.
Did a good bit of writing, too. I half ass created a world that I’m now so invested in, I wanna do something with it, but can’t seem to find the time. I started a thing, called it Wonderland, and now have an indie press publisher express some possible interest in it. We’ll see where that goes next year. I may have to stop sharing it here, though, cause, hey, publishers kinda tend to frown on that.
Still, that was awesome, even if it goes nowhere, ya know?
I’ve kind of half way gotten back to work on the second War Witch novel. It’s hard to work on it, I admit, because Patricia was such a big part of that world setting, and that story. She helped create the world of The Mythic Age, helped me with the plot of War Witch, the characters, and even fleshing out the Gods. Half of that entire world was her, so working on it now, it’s still hard, but I am trying to. Cause she’d want me to.
I got another thing I may be able to talk about some later on. We’ll see. I don’t know for sure what’s gonna happen with it right now. It may be a thing, but it may not be a thing. Time will tell. Either way, next year is shaping up to be a big one for me as a writer, or at least, it’s trying to. It may yet. That’s be cool.
So, overall, worst year of my life, but in some strange ways, also a really good year. It’s weird how that happens. How life can do that. Give you so much bad, but still always have some good sprinkled in there to keep you going.
I am still going, too. I’m still here, and I’m still doing the best I can to be my usual, sarcastic self. Maybe bring a bit of joy to others, if I’m having a really good day.
Yeah, it’s been a rough one, guys. But, I made it through. And you know what?
See you next year.
Which, will be Wednesday, but, ya know, still, that’s a fun thing to say.
Oh, shut the hell up.