Expectations for anime being released in 2018 reached all-time highs as the genre continues to grow in popularity. Studios are being given bigger budgets to work with and there’s more content being produced than ever before. Naturally, not all of it is good while other series are knocking it out of the park.
Judging what is the worst and best anime is difficult. There are countless genres in Japanese animation, and not all of them resonate with fans. Some are into super ecchi and Yuri material, while others are into mecha and shōnen. Even within these niches, there is commonly a divide as to what constitutes as the best and worst. In keeping things simple, only shows which received legitimate criticism ended up being listed on the worst side of things.
Some of the runners-up for the best anime so far in 2018 who didn’t make the list (but deserve to be recognized) include: Cells at Work, Phantom in the Twilight, Island, Overlord season 3, High School DxD season 4, Golden Kamuy, Megalobox, and Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits.
With so much anime content now available through paid and free streaming, it’s hard to know which ones are worth watching. From Crunchyroll and FUNimation to Netflix and Amazon Video, there are some top-notch shows which are a must see and too many anime series' that were absolutely the worst.
30 Worst: Citrus
The “hype” and expectations were high regarding Citrus, and the otaku community seems to be divided on it like Star Wars fandom is with The Last Jedi. Fans either loved or hated it, with the haters being very outspoken.
Adapted from the manga series written and illustrated by Saburouta, Citrus is a Yuri (girl love) story about two step-sisters named Yuzu Aihara and Mei Aihara. While this may seem surprising to some audiences, Yuri is a commonly told story in Japanese culture. Negative reviews mostly focused on the anime consistently being boring and flat.
29 Worst: Tokyo Ghoul:re
Tokyo Ghoul is loved by many anime fans, but they weren’t too thrilled with the sequel Tokyo Ghoul:re. Many claimed it butchered the manga source material while lacking action displayed in the first series, often leading to boredom. Tokyo Ghoul:re is an anime adaptation of the manga written and illustrated by Sui Ishida.
Upon its release, the inter-web went nuts proclaiming their hate for the new series. With poor animation and English dubbing, it’s not surprising Tokyo Ghoul:re is hailed by critics as being one the worst anime of 2018.
28 Best: My Hero Academia Season 3
Starting off as a niche anime in 2016, My Hero Academia has blown up into one of the hottest series airing now. It’s become so popular that the series was picked up by Cartoon Network for its Saturday night Toonami programming, ranking second in views (just under Dragon Ball Super).
In a world where humans have Quirks (special powers) heroes are needed to combat the steady rise in villains.
My Hero Academia follows a new generation of heroes learning to overcome personal obstacles and a failing hero system. Toonami is currently airing season 2, and season 3 can be found on FUNimation and VRV streaming services.
27 Worst: Magical Girl Ore
Many assumed Magical Girl Ore would be in the same style as other “magical girl” anime series, much like Sailor Moon. Whoa, were we all wrong. Crushing sparkling tropes and nostalgia, the series is a more than a little on the weird side.
Adapted and based on the manga series by Icchokusen Mōkon, Magical Girl Ore is about a junior high school student named Saki Uno who finds out she has magical girl powers. Sounds normal right? The twist, however, is that her magical form is that of a buff man wearing a cute girly outfit.
26 Worst: Darling In The Franxx
In what should have been a standard mecha anime series, Darling in the Franxx disappointed a great many fans towards the final episodes. Created by Studio Trigger, who has made many a popular anime in the past, the series was criticized for being a copy of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
It also didn’t help when the decent character development and storytelling went out the window towards the finale, leading fans to disown the entire series. Darling in the Franxx takes place in a post-apocalyptic future and is about kid pilots trained to fly mecha to protect what remains under the control of humanity.
25 Best: Attack On Titan Season 3
The first season of Attack on Titan featured some of the best anime visuals and storytelling writing, not seen since the days of Cowboy Bebop and Akira. Season 2 was a tad more on the fanservice side, but season 3 is off-the-hook spectacular.
Incorporating a Game of Thrones feel while keeping to the manga adaptation, Attack on Titan season 3 is a wild ride full of action, suspense, coup d'état, shocking revelations surrounding MC’s, and humanities unstable future. Attack on Titan can be viewed on Cartoon Networks Toonami or streamed on FUNimation and VRV.
24 Worst: Today's Menu For The Emiya Family
Cash grabs exist in Japanese culture too, and Today's Menu for the Emiya Family is the Fate/Stay Night franchise’s 2018 version. In a lousy attempt to tap into another genre, the series places the original voice actors and characters in a world where they learn how to cook.
Anime fans give SAO flack for their latent spin-offs, but it seems the Fate/Stay Night franchise found a way to push the envelop even further.
Theron Martin from Anime News Network sums it up best by stating, “Imagine if the cast of Game of Thrones or Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suddenly switched to participating in a sedate cooking show.”
23 Worst: B: The Beginning
Not every Netflix Original anime released in 2018 was a success. Expectations were high for B: The Beginning, which is probably why most found it to be a disappointment. With a lack of character depth and a choppy story, it let a lot of anime fans down.
The animation looked good, however, and critics have stated the characters get fleshed out more around halfway through the first season. With so many top-rated anime shows available, B: The Beginning just doesn’t make the cut.
22 Best: Steins;Gate 0
Steins;Gate 0 is a direct sequel to Steins;Gate (2011), continuing on an alternate timeline (worldline beta) established in the original series. The show is chalked full of character development, suspense, cuteness (tu-tu-roo), and some cheap action sequences. But don’t hold that against the show, as Steins;Gate 0 is all about great storytelling.
This is my favorite anime series from this year, so far. The only catch is you must watch Steins;Gate (season 1) first before diving into Steins;Gate 0. The series is currently airing on VRV and FUNimation.
21 Worst: Tada Never Falls In Love
There’s nothing wrong with coming-of-age and slice-of-life anime series. Sadly, Tada Never Falls in Love is more boring than entertaining. The show has horrible pacing issues and a lack of comedic relief, making it almost a grind as opposed to an enjoyment to watch.
Produced by Doga Kobo and directed by Mitsue Yamazaki, Tada Never Falls In Love fails to be a proper romantic comedy. Its only saving grace is the stunning artwork, but it’ still not enough to save the series from the chopping block.
20 Worst: Basilisk: The Ōka Ninja Scrolls
Basilisk: The Ōka Ninja Scrolls is a reboot and an adaptation from a 1950 novel which heavily influenced many aspects of anime storytelling. Nothing about this version, however, makes it worth watching.
The scenes are choppy, the animation is weak, and the story jumps all over the place.
Audiences without knowledge of the original source material will be lost, and those who are will be severely disappointed. Basilisk: The Ōka Ninja Scrolls is not worth wasting one’s time on.
19 Best: Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Anime fans weren’t thrilled with the first episodes of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations when it first aired in 2017. Since then, however, the series has picked up its pace and improved its overall quality.
Recent episodes have involved tons of fan-favorites from Naruto while focusing on the next generation and their prominent years of training. Character development is consistent, and the action is worth watching, making Boruto: Naruto Next Generations a popular shōnen anime to check out. The series is almost 70 episodes in, but still binge-able. Watch Boruto on Adult Swim Toonami, Crunchyroll, and VRV.
18 Worst: Pop Team Epic
Specifically written and designed to obliterate standard anime tropes, the series is a hit or miss for fans. The part where Pop Team Epic really fails is becoming something more than a spoof of other anime series.
Spaceballs is a direct spoof of Star Wars, much like Monty Python and the Holy Grail makes fun of every Medieval story ever told. And yet, they each had something unique about them which made them great. Pop Team Epic contains some funny moments but lacks proper structure and creativity.
17 Worst: Gurazeni
Sports anime continue to grow in popularity each year, with Gurazeni focusing on baseball. Unlike Big Windup! and Major, the series isn’t interesting for casual or die-hard baseball fans.
The writers of Gurazeni know their stuff, especially when comparing the Japanese leagues to MLB. The story, however, lacks what it takes to hook an audience. Visuals are also weak, earning its spot on our worst anime of 2018 list. With so much good sports anime content available, Gurazeni is a bust.
16 Best: Aggretsuko
Netflix continues to produce top anime content, with many casual anime fans and otaku’s going head-over-heels for Aggretsuko. The show is about Retsuko, a 25-year-old single anthropomorphic red panda. She has learned adulting stinks, especially when you work in an office as a woman whose boss is a male pig.
To relieve her stress, Retsuko enjoys karaoke — hardcore heavy metal karaoke.
You might recognize Retsuko’s character, as she was first introduced on TBS through a series of animated shorts which ran from 2016-2018. Aggretsuko can be found only on Netflix.
15 Worst: Slow Start
Adapted from the four-panel manga series by Yuiko Tokumi, Slow Start had potential but lives up to its title too much. The flow of the anime is set to a crawling and brutal pace, meant to show how difficult it is to earn someone’s trust.
Rather than paying the audience off for their time spent investing in the series, it remains bland all the way through to the finale. To make matters worse, a major plot point which drove the MC to make certain decisions was never resolved. Don’t waste your time because the title says it all.
14 Worst: Fist Of The Blue Sky Regenesis
Focusing on Kenshiro Kasumi from Fist of the North Star, Fist of the Blue Sky Regenesis is an adaptation from the manga written and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. What should have been a cool 1930s streetfighter anime, was somehow produced as a cheap knockoff of the classics.
From extremely poor animation to a weak story, Fist of the Blue Sky comes off as a cash grab. The character development is non-existence and because of the horrible CGI, the fights aren’t worth sticking around for.
13 Best: Banana Fish
Not to be left out of the anime game, Amazon Video stepped up their original produced anime content in 2018. Adapted from the popular manga series written and illustrated by Akimi Yoshida, Banana Fish takes place in New York City following the Vietnam War.
The show tells its story through the eyes of Ash Lynx, who’s a gang leader with a secret the mob boss doesn’t want to get out. Packed with gritty action and enjoyable characters, Banana Fish is an anime series worth checking out. It’s available to watch via Amazon Prime.
12 Worst: Real Girl
Real Girl is another series with massive amounts of potential, especially since its written by a woman and published in a magazine directed towards women. Critics tossed the anime adaptation out the window, however, mostly because the two main characters lacked depth or purpose behind their thoughts and actions.
Adapted from the manga series written and illustrated by Mao Nanami, Real Girl has more than a few issues. It leaves a lot unexplained, and is very trope-heavy.
11 Worst: Made In Abyss
Anime critics were quick to trash Made in Abyss, but a few came around as the series continued to grow on them. It’s a horror type of tale, but without all the gore. It’s more about the suspense created through the plot, to which many fans weren’t about.
Because of the backlash surrounding Made in Abyss, it makes the list, but I suggest watching it for yourself before passing judgment. The anime series does have a niche target audience and isn’t a complete failure.
10 Best: Hinamatsuri
Destroying common sci-fi tropes, Hinamatsuri is a cute and funny anime. The story is about a yakuza man named Nitta who takes in a mysterious telepathic girl (Hina) who happens to suddenly appear in his apartment one night.
In not taking itself too seriously, Hinamatsuri makes a mockery out of being a yakuza member with dad jokes and great one-liners.
If you’re looking for an anime series to numb out on and laugh, this is it. Hinamatsuri can be found on Crunchyroll and VRV streaming services.
9 Worst: Sword Gai: The Animation
I had high hopes for the Netflix Original series, but overall Sword Gai: The Animation felt like a soggy potato. Main characters aren’t fleshed out before getting wiped off the planet and the choppiness in the story leaves audiences feeling frustrated.
The series jumps from one fight to the next, never cluing the audience in regarding an overall plot or characters worth getting invested in. When they’re not fighting, the pacing is horrendously slow. Netflix Original anime had some winners in 2018, but just as many losers.
8 Worst: Märchen Mädchen
In another magical girl anime gone ecchi and horribly wrong, Märchen Mädchen misses more beats than it hits. The series borrows from dozens of staple tropes while failing to make its own mark. Through its lack of creativity, the show quickly becomes predictable and boring.
Going ecchi in anime is fine, so long as the story and characters don’t end up playing backup. Instead of fleshing out its characters, Märchen Mädchen seems to only be interested in showing flesh.
7 Best: Crybaby
Devilman Crybaby was listed by many as a top anime to keep an eye on in 2018, and oh-boy — did it exceed expectations. Produced by Netflix, the series is based off Go Nagai's manga and directed by Masaaki Yuasa.
Only Netflix could get away with an anime this graphic, as Devilman Crybaby is a horror-based show with plenty of grown-up themes throughout it.
Some critics felt it strayed too far from the original source material, but as an anime only, many loved it. It’s gory, has a cool soundtrack, and characters worth investing time in. Devilman Crybaby is a Netflix Original anime.
6 Worst: The Master Of Ragnarok And Blesser Of Einherjar
Between time traveling to a supposed distance past with magical runes and a cell phone which can still make calls to the present, The Master of Ragnarok and Blesser of Einherjar fails to explain its overall premise. Add in bland characters and trope battle scenes audiences have viewed a thousand times over, and I recommend giving this 2018 anime a pass.
5 Worst: Satsuriku No Tenshi
Adapted from the popular horror video game and manga series written by Makoto Sanada, Satsuriku no Tenshi did not translate well into an anime series. With pull-your-hair out slow pacing and repetitive themes, the only thing this series has going for it is gore. And there’s not even enough of that.
The relationship between Rachel and Zach isn’t scary or creepy, it’s just flat out weird. I made it about four episodes in before finally calling it quits. In hoping for a thrilling horror anime, all audiences get is a waste of time.
4 Best: Violet Evergarden
Receiving a ton of hype before its release, Violet Evergarden proved to be a worthy investment of time. While not for everyone, the animation is stunning, and the story is powerfully told.
The entire season didn’t have a poor episode in it, and once it's over the show leaves audiences craving more.
For those who aren’t familiar with anime and its various formats, Violet Evergarden is a perfect introduction to a whole new animated world of storytelling. Violet Evergarden can be watched exclusively on Netflix.
3 Worst: Desu Māchi To The Parallel World Rhapsody
Featuring another ecchi anime without a decent story to fuel the series along, Desu Māchi to the Parallel World Rhapsody is a tale that’s already been told a hundred times. There’s nothing special about it and the humor is the only factor keeping it from being a total bust.
For reasons unknown, I watched the entire series, hoping at some point it would improve. Sorry to say, no such luck. If you want to watch something like SAO, then simply go back and watch the first season of Sword Art Online.
2 Worst: Caligula
Caligula is another common trope anime featuring the highly intelligent male, reminding the other characters throughout the series how smart he is. Maybe Studio Satelight missed the memo, but we’re not in the 70s anymore.
In another adaptation from a video game, it seems like studios aren’t trying as hard to create a decent product when the name will automatically sell. Perhaps over time, these practices will disappear. But to be honest, I’m not holding my breath. There’s always next year.
1 Best: Dragon Ball Super
Despite taking criticism, the Dragon Ball franchise continues to dominate in views and rankings (from the East to the West). Say what you will about this shōnen anime, the numbers don’t lie, ranking it as the most watched anime of 2018.
Personally, I’m not a huge Dragon Ball Super fan (don’t judge). But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the franchise or the current series. It’s a series many grew up on, serving as a gateway to other anime genres and content. Dragon Ball Super can be watched on Toonami, FUNimation, and VRV.