After much deliberation, the writers of AniTAY have once again managed to compile a list of our recommendations for the current anime season. From the massive piles of good and mediocre to the ugly, goblin-like atrocities, we have slain the goblins and retrieved and polished the gems of the season for everyone’s reading pleasure.
Fall 2018 was a tough season for us. This was due in part to the wealth of excellent shows currently airing. However, it was perhaps even more difficult to decide which shows would not be making the list, as there were definitely a couple of contentious decisions. I hope that our lovely readers will find that this article reflects our effort to achieve the best of both worlds when possible. Some of you are probably geniuses who already know better than us which shows you should watch. Thanks for the click. For the rest of ye faithful waiting to watch anime until you get some AniTAY recommendations, thank you for joining us again.
- As always, we have omitted continuing shows and sequels. Only new stuff here. Check out our fall sequel guide below.
- Similarly, only shows available for legal streaming are considered.
- We have included a ‘where to watch’ section. You’re welcome. Just keep in mind that our listings are based off availability in the United States.
- Goblin Slayer is not on this list. Please send your complaints to AniTAY admin Dexomega.
Now, without further ado:
Boarding School Juliet
Written by: TGRIP
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Students from two rivaling countries attend Dahlia Academy Boarding School, each of them belonging to one of the two dorms representing their home country: “The White Cats” and “The Black Doggies.” Leading the first-year factions of each dormitory are Juliet Persia and Romio Inuzuka (get it?), respectively. While the two have been bitter rivals for years, the story begins with Romio confessing his longtime love for Juliet, who reciprocates his feelings after being impressed by his determination. The series follows as the two try to make their new relationship work, while doing their best to keep it secret from the groups the two have devoted their lives for.
Why You Should Be Watching: This is an anime rom-com that has learned from the mistakes of the many shows that have come before it, and while not perfect, Boarding School Juliet is miles better (and engrossing) than it has nearly any right to be. Aside from one scene that is completely different in tone from the rest of the series, so much so I’d just add a “hang on, this is just a one-time thing” tag to it, the first episode does a great job of showing what makes the series a good watch.Instead of a will-they-won’t-they relationship, the two leads actually get together in the first episode, and the rest of the series is about them figuring out how to make said relationship work without screwing their lives up. The two leads are genuinely interesting, with Juliet trying to prove that women in her society can and should take on leadership roles, and Romio wanting to show that his home country and its people deserve respect. The visuals and animation are never weak, and in a few great places even showcase some well-choreographed and animated fight scenes. The entire cast of supporting characters is great too, thanks to top-notch voice direction and some recognizable voice actors bringing their A-game.
Along with a great assortment of characters, the show’s story, pacing, and humor are all good too. Each episode never feels like it’s wasting time, thanks to solid character development for everyone on screen, world building of the two countries, the school and the town it’s located in, and the politics of the two factions and how they work. Best of all though is the comedy, which range from physical slapstick to just characters having perfect reactions to the situations they find themselves in. A good example of this is when Romio tears down a statue and goes HAM with it on two groups of students that inadvertently destroyed a present he was trying to give to Juliet. In short, Boarding School Juliet is one of the best comedies of this season, thanks to two leads who are genuinely interesting characters, a relationship that’s rather sweet, and a story so well timed that it can keep you engaged one moment, and laughing out loud the next.
Recommended by: Gugsy, Kinksy, TGRIP
DOUBLE DECKER! DOUG & KIRILL
Written by: Koda
Genre: Action, Comedy, Police, Sci-Fi
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, FUNimation
Spoiler-free Synopsis: In the shadows of the city-state of Lisvalletta, a highly addictive and lethal drug called Anthem runs rampant, granting its users their wildest desires as well as extraordinary powers. The Lisvalletta police department combats Anthem cases with its specialized SEVEN-O Special Crime Investigation Unit. SEVEN-O agents operate in a special partner system called “Double Decker”, pairing the agents off into teams of two. One such team is the veteran Doug Billingham and his partner Kirill Vrubel, a young and naive officer who was recently transferred to SEVEN-O to fill the spot left by Doug’s last partner.
Why You Should Be Watching: DOUBLE DECKER! is one of the season’s most purely entertaining shows. On the surface it is an enjoyable and somewhat goofy buddy cop series, but the show holds some surprising depth and is able to switch between being light-hearted and serious with ease. Each of the members of SEVEN-O have their own personal reasons for joining the team, with many of these reasons involving their desires to right the wrongs of their world. Some of the heavier topics the show tackles include things such as class inequality. On top of that DOUBLE DECKER! is also a surprisingly progressive show, particularly in the field of LGBTQ+ representation. Not only are all of the Double Decker teams same-sex with at least one of these pairs being romantically involved with each other, but several characters in the show have gender ambiguous appearances, and transgender issues play part in some of the characters’ backgrounds. Even more refreshingly, the show never exploits these aspects of its characters like several other anime have done. It doesn’t fetishize this part of them, it is just something they are and the show treats it like anything else.
The cast themselves are a really fun bunch who have phenomenal chemistry with each other. They will often pull pranks and other such jokes on each other just for the hell of it. Additionally, they each have their own little quirks and eccentricities that make them unique, but the most eccentric character by a wide margin is SEVEN-O’s leader, Travis Murphy. He has this weird need to give everyone in SEVEN-O a nickname, often for some of the most tenuous reasons. On top of individual nicknames, he has a blanket term for all the women who work at SEVEN-O, “Travis’ Angels”, an admittedly rather chauvinistic phrase that Travis finds charming as all hell, but none of the women are having any of it.
In addition to the wonderful characters, DOUBLE DECKER! has some of the season’s best action scenes, with many of the rampaging Anthem users giving us some highly entertaining battles, as well as one of the best overall visual looks, especially in the character design department. Overall, DOUBLE DECKER! is a great way to spend time, whether you are watching purely for the show’s spectacle, or for its deeper messages.
Recommended by: Koda, Thatsmapizza, TGRIP
Iroduku - The World in Colors
Written by: RockmanDash12
Genre: Slice of Life, Drama, Magic
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Iroduku follows Hitomi Tsukishiro, a shy girl who grew up in a future setting and lost her sense of color when young. One fateful day, her grandmother Kohaku uses some unknown magic and sends Hitomi back to the past (which is our present day) in the hopes that Hitomi can figure out how to live a more colorful life.
Why You Should Be Watching: Iroduku, is simply put, beautiful: PA Works has crafted one of the best-looking TV anime out there. From the stunning backgrounds to the crisp character designs, the attention to detail put on display in this show’s presentation is insane, and the visuals alone make this show worth watching. The rest of the show holds up as well, as the premise is fascinating and the show acts as a nice introspective look into Hitomi’s life. The character interactions are nice, there’s enjoyable slice of life and it’s a pleasant watch overall. Although it’s been almost painfully slow with story progression, the way the show is building up implies this should change soon.
Recommended by: Koda, Protonstorm, Rockmandash12, Stínolez, Thatsmapizza
Written by: Requiem
Genre: Shounen, Action/Adventure, Evil Puppets, 90s
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Spoiler Free Synopsis: When Masaru Saiga’s father dies, he is left as the heir to a massive fortune. Unfortunately it also makes him the target of scheming relatives who send mercenaries to either kill or kidnap him, as the case may be. Even worse, they attack using giant, powerful marionettes as weapons! Luckily for Masaru, he has allies: Narumi, a gentle giant with hardcore kung fu skills who got involved by chance; and Shirogane, a mysterious beauty who wishes to protect him, and can also wield a powerful marionette. Thus begins a tale of puppets, curses, action, and family.
Why You Should Be Watching: The first thing you should know about Karakuri Circus is that it springs from the mind of the creator of Ushio & Tora, which for some of us is all the selling point it needs. The same spirit and aesthetic that made U&T such a fantastic show are present here in Circus, but it stands on its own, distinct from its more famous sibling. The source material is from the 90s, and it feels like a 90s shounen series, but only in the best ways.
The show has mostly solid animation and stellar action sequences, with the unique concept of the characters fighting using giant puppets making for especially interesting fights. The show’s biggest strength, though, is its characters. The creators did an excellent job getting you to care about the show’s main trio, and to root for them. Child characters can so often be annoying, but Masaru is endearing from the start, making it believable that others would risk themselves to help him. Narumi and Shirogane are also a joy to watch, especially with each other, as they’re essentially polar opposites who nevertheless complement each other well. The design of these characters is a standout feature as well; the whole show has a distinct look that is infused with energy and color.
As it progresses, Circus gets, well, weird as hell, but you should go along on this ride because the characters and their relationships keep the show anchored even as the story gets kinda nuts. If you’re a lover of classic shounen, or really action-based anime of all kinds, Karakuri Circus comes highly recommended.
Recommended by: Gugsy, Koda, Requiem, TGRIP
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Written by: Gugsy
Genres: Supernatural, Drama, Romance, Comedy
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Spoiler Free Synopsis: Sakuta Azusagawa is a second year high school student living in a world where Adolescent Syndrome is a mysterious affliction that affects certain young adults in different ways, hence the name. Sakuta has had his own issues with Adolescent Syndrome, but while spending time in the library, he sees a beautiful girl walking around dressed as a bunny girl. This is Mai Sakurajima, who it turns out is essentially becoming invisible to more and more people. Sakuta sets out to help Mai in her predicament and will come to help out many others with their issues.
Why You Should Be Watching: First things first, the cover art, the title, and even that synopsis above all seem to point to Bunny Girl being a certain kind of show. However, when you really delve into Bunny Girl, it actually is reminiscent of a few other shows which are pretty well known in the anime community: the Monogatari franchise and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. Like Monogatari, Sakuta will come to help multiple girls but everything that has already happened before still has an impact on each subsequent arc. It does not totally reset like other LN or VN titles might, which gives what happens in each arc more importance, and the full story a lot more depth.
Secondly, like those other two franchises, the character interaction and dialogue take center stage in Bunny Girl. Characters have natural conversations and enjoyable banter, which strengthens the dynamics of the cast as a whole. Isin-level dialogue this isn’t, but the back and forth between Sakuta and the girls, but particularly Mai are the highlights of show.
Now a lesser show would struggle with the in’s and out’s of this Adolescent Syndrome, usually by over-explaining and losing direction of the show at large. Fortunately, Bunny Girl has so far given just the bare minimum of what’s necessary and is instead letting the cast take the spotlight and carry the show. Bunny Girl might never reach the excellent heights of Monogatari and/or SNAFU, but those are excellent shows to emulate, and so far it is not disappointing.
Recommended by: Gugsy, Kinksy, Koda, Protonstorm, Requiem, Rockmandash12, TGRIP
Run with the Wind
Written by: RockmanDash12
Genre: Sports, Drama
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Run with the Wind follows Kakeru, a former elite runner in high school. Alienated by peers and gambling away his future, Kakeru finds himself in a bad place, stealing food to survive. While Kakeru is running away, Haiji, a fellow runner, persuades Kakeru to live in his apartment, the Chikuseisou. Why? Because with Kakeru, Haiji now has 10 members, enough to create a running team to compete in the Hakone Ekiden marathon, one of the most prestigious running competitions in the nation. However, the others living in the Chikuseisou are complete novices and didn’t know that living in the apartment means you have to be a part of the team. Cue a drama about running, teamwork, and learning how to trust others.
Why You Should Be Watching:
Made by Production IG with many of the staff from Haikyuu!!, Run with the Wind shares a lot of elements with that show that make it great: like the fantastic production values, an intense soundtrack, and stellar characters. That being said, Run with the Wind is more character- oriented than Haikyuu!!: more of the episode is about being a team with their interactions being the focus of the show. The interactions are engaging, the comedy of the show is on point, and it’s a fun watch week to week. Fair warning however, while the show had a great sprinting start during the first few episodes, Run with the Wind has been a bit measured with story progression, a slow-burn building up character relations and showing the mundanities of training over and over. But like a marathon runner entering their next quarter of a race, it’s starting to pick up the pace.
Recommended by: Koda, Protonstorm, Rockmandash12, TGRIP
Written by: Thatsmapizza
Genre: Action, Tokusatsu (think Power Rangers), Sci-Fi, Mystery
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: When Yuta woke up, he found himself in one of his classmate’s house with amnesia. To add to Yuta’s troubles, an old computer in his classmate’s house begins asking him to remember and fulfill his mission, but only he can hear the computer’s voice.After a quick trip to the doctor and sleeping, Yuta tries to acclimate to his daily life, but fate has much more in store for him.
A massive monster suddenly appears in the middle of Yuta’s hometown and starts destroying it. Hearing the voice from the computer, Yuta rushes over to the computer and fuses with it to become Gridman. Gridman dispatches the monster, but where did it come from, why was it wrecking the city and who exactly is Gridman?
Why You should Be Watching: Simply put, SSSS Gridman is a loving homage to the old tokusatsu shows of yore whose attention to detail and direction is too fun and interesting to pass up.
By far what gripped me the most about Gridman is its pervasive sense of mystery that permeates throughout the show. Gridman’s use of fog and shot composition creates this air of dread and mystery that would be more at home in a horror movie rather an action show where a superhero beats up goofy looking cartoon monsters. This air of mystery is so gripping because it adds an extra layer to all the events that makes you want to know the reason all this cool superhero action is happening.
While Gridman has an excellent hook to keep me coming back each week, the show has some of the best action scenes of all the animes out this season. What makes the action in Gridman a cut above the rest is how much weight and momentum Gridman and the monsters he fights have during each action scene. This weightiness of each movement makes every single hit and action feel so impactul that it’s hard not to scream “hell yeah” whenever Gridman lands a decisive blow on a monster. Plus, the sound design and the music used in each fight is phenomenal. I got so hyped up during the first monster battle because the show played its opening theme at the right time to make Gridman’s finishing move feel significantly more awesome than it actually was. The team behind Gridman knows how to make a fight scene so hype-inducing that I can’t get wait to see what action scene they’ll create next.
Gridman is one of the most gripping anime series this season. The mysterious air to its world adds extra layers to all the scenes in the show that I can’t stop speculating where the show is going. Plus, Gridman has some of the best action scenes this season that are too fun to pass up. If you aren’t watching Gridman, you’re missing out on some fun times.
Recommended by: Gugsy, Kinksy, Koda, Requiem, TGRIP, Thatsmapizza
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken)
Written by: Stínolez
Genre: Fantasy, Shounen
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Sacrificing himself, 37 year old Satoru Mikami is killed by a passing robber. His wish not to die triggers his reincarnation into a fantasy world. There, free from his ordinary, stale past life, he’s reborn as a slime monster with unique abilities.
Why You Should Be Watching: We can already hear the cries of disbelief about why we’d be recommending yet another fantasy isekai show - a formula which we saw already way too many times, but yet in this case it works somehow. It’s true that the main protagonist acquired unique skills during the process of reincarnation and became overpowered as in many other shows before, but instead of using it to conquer the world, becoming a dark Overlord or building his very own harem, he’s simply using his powers to make the world a better place. This approach puts the show in a positive and more laid back light. The story is focused, straightforward and lighthearted. The whole premise of the main character being a slime is entertaining and the natural progression makes it work - what he simply does out of boredom and learning how to operate his body in episode one will pay off later in the series.
All the comedic parts hit the right note, the show is not taking itself too seriously as things progress and while it certainly isn’t innocent, compared to its others in genre, it’s pretty mellow on the ecchi scenes.
Recommended by: Kinksy, Koda, Requiem, Rockmandash12, Stínolez
Zombie Land Saga
Written by: Koda
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Idol, Music
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, FUNimation
Spoiler-free Synopsis: In 2008 the life of high school girl and idol fan Sakura Minamoto is tragically cut short in an unforeseen accident. Ten years later, she finds herself back in the world of the living thanks to being revived from the grave by an eccentric and borderline crazy music producer named Kotaro Tatsumi. Now you might be wondering how he accomplished this. Come on. Haven’t you seen a zombie movie before? Well there you go then. Kotaro has enlisted Sakura, along with six other lovely living dead girls from different time periods, to help save the Saga Prefecture with...an idol group.
Why You Should Be Watching: Zombies and idols are both concepts and genres that have become extremely played out by now. Miraculously, by combining the two together, Zombie Land Saga manages to breathe new life into both at the same time. Much like with other franchises that combine two seemingly at odds concepts with each other, such as Monster Musume, Umamusume: Pretty Derby, or School-Live!, Zombie Land Saga excels at using the strengths of both of its identities to great effect.
The sheer spectacle of watching a bunch of idols whose bodies can fall apart at a moment’s notice alone is a well of great comedic potential the show visits often. The show is even better at doing comedic wordplay and visual gags, weaving multiple jokes into the things the characters say and do. This is such a unique experience that it can be divisive, but for the people who this style of comedy clicks with, it’s absolutely hilarious.
On top of the comedy, the characters are highly entertaining, and they have some shocking depth to them. There are some standout characters in the cast, especially the former biker gang leader Saki Nikaido, the former child actress Lily Hoshikawa, the LEGENDARY TAE YAMADA, and Kotaro himself, but the cast is at its strongest as a whole, with each of the characters being able to play off each other in sometimes really clever ways. In a year where the idol genre has had to get really creative with some of its newer entries, the game studio Cygames has managed to somehow capture lightning in a bottle twice.
Recommended by: Gugsy, Koda, Rockmandash12, Stínolez, TGRIP, Thatsmapizza
(Note: Our honorable mention section is reserved for shows that had significant support but at the same time significant push back during our debates. In order to represent both sides, we include both pro and against opinions for our honorable mentions.)
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
Written by: TGRIP (for), Gugsy (against)
Genre: Slice of life, comedy, short form
Where to watch: Crunchyroll
Spoiler-free synopsis: The day to day, real-life experiences of working in a Japanese bookstore, as experienced by a skeleton named Honda-san.
Why you should be watching: While this may not be most amazingly animated show of this season (expect something that’s just one level above Inferno Cop), and although its style of humor might not be for everyone, if you’re someone who’s ever worked in retail this show will probably speak to your soul in a way few anime do. Honda-san knows exactly what it is, which is why it never overstays its welcome. In its brief time it just hits you with one joke after another, most of which land pretty damn well thanks to spot on voice acting and facial expressions that make great use of the limited style of animation. Along with the jokes, Honda-san also provides a look into book retail you almost never see in any media (albeit through the lens of Japanese retail), and also gives a look into the experiences the source material’s author (the eponymous Honda-san) went through, from the person behind the counter, to the person writing the books that would come to be on the shelves. Also if you’re a Kadokawa fan, you are in for a shitload of references…
Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: Honda-san falls back into that most tried and true of anime comedy style, Manzai. You may not recognize the term, but you have definitely seen an anime comedy that relies on this style. Manzai relies on two different people: a “funny” person who does things, and the “straight man” who is then tasked with reacting and delivering the punch line. It’s famous for a reason, it works (sometimes), it has worked for a long time, and will continue to be used widely. The problem though is that for someone with a taste of Western-style comedy, Manzai is repetitive. Incredibly repetitive. Every single joke is this exact same tried and true way. It’s reminiscent of laugh tracks in Western sitcoms, in that if you didn’t get the joke in the first place, the laugh track will tell you that whatever it was, it was funny. It’s a virtual LAUGH NOW sign. Now, Manzai can work in certain anime comedies. Shows like Nichijou, Lucky Star and A Certain Scientific Railgun, to name a few, deftly utilize Manzai in certain situations for laughs. But you’ll notice that these shows also have a lot of other things up their sleeve to keep you interested. Nichijou is a case study of so many different styles of comedy, sometimes all at once, Lucky Star is no slouch itself in the many different ways it can get you to laugh, and comedy isn’t even the main focus in Railgun. Unfortunately, Honda does not have what these shows, and others before it, have. It has its routine and it sticks to it, to the detriment of the show as a whole. In a seven minute anime short where this style is essentially repeated every thirty seconds the exact same way without variation, it is tiring beyond belief. Honda has some funny insights into the manga industry but after even just one episode, don’t be surprised if you’re tired and/or bored because of its repetitive style of comedy.
Contributors in Alphabetical Order:
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If you enjoyed this article, please check out our collaboration from last season here:
Additionally, the AniTAY podcast has an episode from early last month where we previewed the Fall 2018 season and made guesses about which shows would be good/bad. Were we totally off the mark? Find out:
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