2018 has been such a fantastic year for anime that it can be really difficult to sort through all of the available series to find the best of the best. It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone, delivering so many fantastic anime series along the way.
We already know that the anime streaming landscape will look very different in 2019, with Funimation and Crunchyroll going their separate ways while Netflix and Amazon attempt to expand into the market. We’ll likely be seeing a lot more original series produced by the various streaming platforms in the coming years. While that might be less ideal for people who only want to stick to one streaming service for their anime needs, it’s pretty great for the quality series we’ve been receiving – at least so far.
To help you with your anime viewing needs, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten anime series of 2018. Strap in, and get ready to unwrap this lovely pile of anime gifts.
10. Double Decker! Doug & Kirill
Before My Hero Academia, there was another superpowered anime that, while popular, never quite became widely known enough to support a long-term run. Tiger & Bunny stood out as an original project that worked as a typical crime-fighting superhero show while also having interesting things to say. It dealt with the issues surrounding getting older, what it means to do the right thing, and the extreme end of capitalism’s march to commodify everything – even superheroes themselves. While that series has been inactive for several years, the show’s creators stepped up to produce Double Decker! Doug & Kirill, a new series that keeps Tiger & Bunny’s ethos while introducing us to a world of drugs, fantasy gadgets, and a cast of loveable dorks.
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill tells the story of Kirill a low-level police officer who dreams of becoming famous. Through a series of events, he winds up being reassigned to the special Double Decker unit that specifically tracks down those who use and distribute the illegal drug known as Anthem. Each member of the unit has a partner, and Kirill teams up with Doug, a veteran officer with big dreams of his own. As the two get to know one another, they must also track down the major Anthem distributor in the city.
From that description alone, Double Decker! Doug & Kirill might sound like it has tired premise, but that would be misleading. The character designs all have a fantastic stylized flair to them the keeps episodes visually fresh and interesting. The rookie cop teamed up with an old-timer cliché gets shaken up by both Kirill and Doug having very disparate goals when it comes down to why they became officers in the first place. Their differing priorities and methods mix poorly and often subvert audience expectations for comedic effect. Beyond Kirill and Doug, the plethora of strange quirks each supporting character in the series possesses make the show a ride worth taking.
9. Banana Fish
A popular manga released in the 80s, Banana Fish stands as a major piece of LGBTQ+ media representation. The anime series, produced by Amazon, tells the story of Ash Lynx, a 17-year-old boy from New York City who managed to rise through a life of crime to become a successful gang leader. A chance encounter entwines his fate with Eiji Okumura, a visiting 19-year-old student from Japan. Between all of the shootouts, gangster warfare, and the ever-growing danger posed by the mysterious “Banana Fish,” Ash and Eiji develop a romantic relationship that makes up the heart of the series.
Banana Fish has a lot of interesting things to say about male relationships, both platonic and romantic. It spends a large part of its runtime building up friendships and rivalries between the characters. How exactly those are built and how men connect with one another for better or worse stands as the central theme of the show. Around the edges, there’s a compelling crime drama about gang warfare and a mystery about who or what Banana Fish might be, but often those feel shunted to the side in favor of spending more time connecting the characters together so that they can be ripped apart for maximum emotional trauma during a later part of the story.
The best way to describe Banana Fish might be to say it stands as a work of flawed genius. The repeated use of and overreliance on rape as the only depiction of sexual intimacy really hold the series back from being the thorough examination of masculinity it seems to desperately want to be. The complete lack of meaningful women in the series except as props to be abused or killed also presents a pretty uncomfortable aspect. While Amazon's adaptation of Banana Fish does a lot of things right and manages to be an interesting adventure, it’s less savory qualities stand out and hold the series back from rising higher on this list. It certainly isn’t for everyone.