2018 has been a funny year for anime and for your truly in reviewing the new releases that make it to UK shores. A number of great shows came our way, including a few classics that had hitherto remained in license limbo, but the overall quality of these new releases was variable to the point I found it difficult to compile a definitive list of ten true standout titles – in fact, I didn’t think I would have ten titles for contention at all until a late run of great shows saved the day.

It goes without saying that I am indebted to the fine folks at Manga, Animatsu and MVM for supplying me with the latest additions to their catalogues and to Fetch Publicity for providing me with titles from Sony Pictures to review. What they choose to licence is whatever they feel will best appeal to the mass market and it is the nature of the beast that they won’t always coincide with a reviewer’s personal taste.

Review discs of releases from other companies like All the Anime are out of my reach (unless I purchased them myself) meaning some major new titles escaped my attention, whilst some of the big hitters in the cinema never made it to anywhere close to me so the big film releases are also absent here.  

This is not a complaint just an explanation as to their absence from my list and why it might seem lacking to some readers. This also applies to the presence of second seasons among my final choices but they are also there on merit.

So, without further ado, here are my personal Top Ten titles which received a UK release in 2018 and as usual agree or disagree as is your wont.


10. Skip Beat (MVM)

Probably the biggest surprise for me in how much I enjoyed it and that it remained a contender given some of the hot properties on release like My Hero Academia and Yuri On Ice!!!. 16 year-old Kyoko Mogami dotes on her childhood crush Shotaro Fuwa as he becomes a pop idol yet Sho only sees Kyoko as a maid. A furious Kyoko gets her revenge in a unique way – by entering showbiz and becoming a star in her own right. It’s a zany yet enriching look at the highs and lows of the Japanese entertainment scene.

Read the full review HERE


9. Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga (Manga Entertainment)

The original TV adaptation of Kazue Kato’s manga from 2012 was forced to take a detour from the source material to complete its run as the manga was ongoing. This second series corrects this by continuing the story from the exact point this divergence occurred to offer a completely different ending. Rin Okumura has just been exposed as the son of Satan and his classmates are distrusting of him as they are sent on a mission to Kyoto to  prevent an evil spirit from reawakening. A great return for a fun series.

Read the full review HERE


8. Grimoire Of Zero (MVM)

A fantasy show that offers something a bit more original and different from the multitude of similar titles flooding the market at the moment, this was another stealth surprise. In a world where witches and humans are at war with each other, a third race, the Beastfallen, cursed humans turned into animals, are outcast. A witch named Zero needs a bodyguard and hires a Beastfallen to join her on a mission of great import. It’s sword and sorcery with fresh characters, a decent story and deft mix of action and comedy.  

Read the full review HERE


7. Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress (Manga Entertainment)

From Studio Wit who gave us Attack On Titan and the director of Death Note comes this original anime TV series set in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies run wild and the only way to travel between the man made fortresses is via souped up steam trains but corrupt forces are at work. Politics, class prejudice, betrayal, blood and gore action, violence and steampunk invention are all thrown into the mix for this highly entertaining and superbly animated cynical fantasy horror romp.

Read the full review HERE


6. Big Fish & Begonia (Manga Entertainment)

This is a slight cheat as it comes from China not Japan, thus shouldn’t really be classed as anime per se, but it was released by Manga so it earns its pass on that technicality. An exquisite looking fantasy film based on a classic Taoist fable, this often convoluted tale is set in a world beneath the sea inhabited by magical beings. A girl name Chun accidentally causes the death of a human man on the surface so she has him resurrected as a red dolphin in her world leading to problems among the denizens. Overly ambitious story wise but gorgeous to look at.

Read the full review HERE


5. Lu Over The Wall (All The Anime)

Masaaki Yuasa is fast becoming a leader in abstract anime and this psychedelic riff on Miyazaki’s Ponyo is his strongest and most affecting work to date. A mermaid named Lu who likes to dance pops up on the surface of the sleepy coastal town where teenager Kai and his band play their music. The elderly residents think Lu will bring disaster to the town which Kai disputes until a misunderstanding ruins everything. A joyously quirky romp with a serious message wrapped up in a garishly coloured presentation.

Read the full review HERE


4. Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto (Manga Entertainment)

There is always one student who is too cool for school and in this instance it Sakamoto. Level headed, resourceful, unflappable, suave and empathetic, if there is a weakness to the envy of the boys and idol of the girls it has yet to be found. This collection of wacky incidents both in and out of school puts our indefatigable hero in a numerous difficult situations he manages to overcome with aplomb, flair and often incredulous ways. A one note joke for sure but one that works every time.

Read the full review HERE


3. Attack On Titan Season 2 (Sony Pictures)

One of the biggest franchises of recent years returns for a second run but not to answer any lingering questions but to pose some more, indicating this story is far from over. The threat from the Titans shows no signs of abating as their evolution continues, introducing us to a new simian like Titan that is capable of speech! Yet this is not the most shocking revelation from this second season, which at just 12 episodes, feels like a cruel tease when there is still so much at stake.

Read the full review HERE


2. Mob Psycho 100 (Manga Entertainment)

It is surely the dream of many people to have psychic abilities, whether to read minds, move or control objects, or predict the future. Shigeo Kageyama is an Esper but doesn’t get too excited about his powers in case he loses control of them and causes a major catastrophe. Unfortunately a nefarious gang wants Shigeo’s powers for their own evil needs. From the creator of One Punch Man, comes another doleful anti-hero adventure rich in satire and action packed laughs.

Read the full review HERE

No. 1

Higurashi – When They Cry



Perhaps it is a sign of the times that my top pick for 2018 is a title that was originally broadcast in Japan way back in 2006! Maybe the old ones are the best after all! This grisly psychological horror was subject to many licensing issues which prevented it from getting a UK release until MVM finally fixed that this year. It’s reputation as a sinuous an involved drama with horrific violence grew in the interim yet it is fair to say it not only lived up to it but it was with the wait.

The basic premise is the residents of the sleepy rural village of Hinamizawa are caught in a cycle of repeating timelines, each one ending with someone going mad and killing the others. Don’t let the dated, patchy artwork fool you this is heavy stuff. Included in this entry are the excellent an chilling first two TV seasons which are canon, whilst a third release of OVA adjuncts are largely best forgotten. Classic it may be, still effective it definitely is.

Read the full review HERE


There have been stronger year end lists than this one but I get what I am given and whilst this may be the best of a bad bunch summary of 2018 for my tastes I have no qualms about my top pick. It just goes to show that quality storytelling is timeless. I know fans of modern franchises might be disappointed at the lack of support (I know Yuri On Ice!!! is considered the mutt’s nuts by everyone, but personal taste is a funny thing.

Join me again at the end of 2019 to see what new treats hit UK shelves and impressed me enough to make the grade in MIB’s Top Ten.

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is the Man in Black saying Sayonara!