Anime NEWS

The Con Artists’ Color Awards 2018

The Con Artists want to wish you a Happy New Year!!! Thank you for following along with us on our little corner of the internet. This year we all came together to give awards out to shows we thought were deserving! We hope you have fun reading this, and please continue to follow along with us on our anime journey!

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Scott – Red Awards
Best of 2018 A Place Farther Than The Universe

Coming out of nowhere to take the top spot, it’s the story of four girls trying to get to Antarctica, and it is incredible. Great character drama, a perfect balance of serious and funny, and a strong grounding in reality make this show a standout. Plus the team’s chemistry is just so solidly written.

Most Pleasant Surprise That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

This is a show that I had no expectations of, with a title like that, with a “guy sucked into an MMO” premise, this should’ve been completely forgettable. Instead, it’s engaging and fun, with solid action, attention to worldbuilding, and a plot I can’t wait to see more of. It almost took the top spot, but the show’s occasional pandering to the male gaze holds it back from true greatness.

Worst of 2018 Hakyuu Houshin Engi

I was ecstatic that 1999’s Soul Hunter was going to get a remake. It was an underappreciated gem that could certainly use a larger budget to animate its interesting world. Unfortunately, the remake is a nearly unwatchable mess, not because of its animation (which is solid) but because of its incoherent story and terrible pacing.

Most Disappointing Darling in the FranXX

Trigger. Is gonna make. A mecha show. !!!!!! . They’re gonna fight laser dinosaurs, you guys! And, somehow, they screwed that up, making a show that is neither focused on the mecha aspects, nor particularly well-written on the character front. The plot, which starts with a lot of potential, turns out to be kinda garbage. Whattaya doin’, Trigger?

Most Incredible Twist in a Show No One is Ever Going to Watch, and With Good Reason Lost Song

Generic fantasy, fairly low-budget animation, a largely forgettable and by-the-numbers plot, this show has everything needed to never, ever be remembered by anyone (decent music aside). Too bad it had a seriously impactful plot twist that I didn’t see coming, and which legitimately made me reconsider the entire plot of the show up to that point. The show is not worth watching, and that’s a bit of a shame.

Most Beautiful Backgrounds Ancient Magus’ Bride

In addition to some of the prettiest animation in general this season, the backgrounds can be truly stunning. Iceland and the forest near Elias’ house when the Fey visit it stick in my mind as my favorite examples. It’s a good show even besides that, if a bit slow and with its own share of other minor problems, but it’s worth a watch.

Best Single Song Caligula

The show may have squandered its interesting premise by episode two, its characters may not have been as fully developed as they needed to be for a plot of this kind, the ending might be totally cliché – but MAN is episode one’s “Peter Pan Syndrome” an incredible song! Seriously, go take a listen.

Best Sound Design Grancrest Senki

Grancrest Senki has a lot of things to like. It’s a serious swords and sorcery anime in a genre dominated these days by parodies and comedies. It has solid characters, powerful character arcs, and satisfying conflicts. The visuals are top-notch, and the music fits the show well. But for my money, the visceral, bass-heavy, larger than life sounds, usually in combat, give it even more bang for the buck.

Most Forgettable Last Period

Seriously, you guys, sooo forgettable. I think there were some mildly funny parts?

Most Charming Hakumei to Mikochi

This show feels like what would happen if Studio Ghibli made a Borrowers anime. And yes, I know that The Secret World of Arietty exists, but this is so, so much better. Its soft backgrounds and colors, consistent costume and architectural design, and inventive little vignettes make this show a real treat to watch. It’s a particular kind of magic that can make the relatively ordinary lives of tiny humans going about their ordinary lives so engaging.

Most People Attacked by an Orca Whale Golden Kamui

Did you see that guy get pulled off the beach by an orca whale?! How does that even happen?

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Sushma – Green Awards
Best of 2018 A Place Farther Than The Universe

This show is FANTASTIC. All the characters, humor, emotional moments, and the research done on what it would take for an Antarctic expedition just come together perfectly. It had incredible writing wherein female characters actually act and speak like real females. I can’t name another show that has such a thing. There are many times in my life as an anime fan that I want to give up on this medium. A Place Farther Than The Universe reminds me why I keep watching. The expedition of those four young women to the farthest reaches of the earth made me laugh, made me cry, and made me fall in love with anime all over again.

Most Pleasant Surprise Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight

I went into Revue Starlight thinking that it was going to be a reimagining of Kaleido Star. Instead I got a Revolutionary Girl Utena homage full of cool metaphor song battles and a mysterious talking giraffe. This show kept me excited episode after episode and took a well worn “all girls school drama” and turned it into something thoughtful and fun. While it had its flaws it was a fascinating watch from start to finish. It also features the best pun name of all time for one of its characters. Check it out!

Worst of 2018 Hanebado!

Sports anime should be easy. The formula is well worn and it’s usually just up to the writers to come up with compelling characters to draw you in. Hanebado! screws up the sports anime formula by using bait and switch with the lead characters, but that’s not what makes it terrible. Lead character Ayano is revealed to have traumatic feelings toward badminton due to being abandoned by her mother. The show gives us not one but two young women who go through abandonment and justifies the whole affair as “growth”. It never ties up any of the trauma it sets up, it never explains how badminton works before throwing you into pointless tournaments, and its terrible or forgettable cast of characters is the trifecta on this hellfest of a show.

Most Disappointing Darling in the FranXX

Trigger why?! Just whhhyyy?! I was excited for FranXX given its pedigree. Trigger dropped the ball hard on this one by having unlikeable characters, dumb plot points that go nowhere and zero (2) coherence in its themes. FranXX had so much potential to be good due to its influence from The Giver and the other neat ideas it threw around. All that was a waste and the show hates on the one sympathetic homosexual character like there’s no tomorrow. It’s just offensive. This show was quite bad and I could not be more disappointed in how it all turned out.

Most Excruciatingly Boring Card Captor Sakura – Clear Card

I really should learn to just not be excited for anime sequels. I wanted to love this show. I personally think CCS is the most tight and well thought out creation CLAMP has ever made. It’s also the only one where the there isn’t an epic tragedy and the two people who love each other actually get together, so maybe I’m biased. That aside, CCS – Clear Card is…very dull. The whole show makes sure everyone around Sakura knows more than she does, so she becomes a passive player in her own story. In addition to this the whole plot moves slow as molasses and everyone’s just way too rich. This show is too dull to be a kids show and too unrelentingly boring to live up to the fun of the original CCS.

Honorable Mention – Most Likely to Make Me Yell Out My Feelings with My Gal Pals Aggretsuko

This is kind of a cheat because I think Aggretsuko aired earlier in Japan, but it only came to Netflix this year so I’m counting it! This show is so funny and it hits home hard for all of us trying to make a living, socialize, and just navigate adult life. It has a great cast of characters, a caustic wit (Fenneko is beautiful), and had me yelling for a season 2 immediately after I finished it. There’s a Christmas Special out for it now (Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas) which you should definitely check out.

Most Likely to Make Me Wonder How Onion Cutting Ninjas Snuck In Maquia – When the Promised Flower Blooms

Why did I let myself watch this on the plane? My husband and I watched Mari Okada’s beautiful movie on the plane ride to Scotland for our honeymoon. It was free and it was there and why not? I made it most of the way through the film until the end hit me like a ton of bricks hollowed out and loaded with uranium. I just started crying right there in my seat and couldn’t stop for at least 3 minutes or so. I must have looked insane when the poor stewardess asked if I wanted a beverage. No ma’am…I don’t need a beverage. I have one made out my tears, thank you. Maquia is beautifully animated and tells a powerful story about motherhood. While it does have plot flaws and the sense of timing is oddly portrayed (weird pacing) you really should not miss out on this movie.

Best Camera Work in an Anime Attack on Titan Season 3 – Episode 1

I mentioned this on the podcast for the End of Cour – Summer 2018 but it still deserves an award. AoT S3 features an amazing sequence where Levi fights Kenny and his goon squad when they first appear. The camera sits in front of action as you watch Levi spin, slide and do a bunch of physics defying movements to dodge bullets. It 150% obeys the “Rule of Cool” and had my blood seriously pumping. You can watch it here: on YouTube

The Absolute Worst of 2018. What Were You Thinking? SSSS. Gridman

It’s not a good year for Trigger in my eyes. Gridman is a very bad show. It has uninteresting characters, poor plotting, a psychopath of a villain that the show seems convinced you should feel bad for, a stupid nostalgia grab contrivance to plot elements, and an exposition dump in the middle of the show because they couldn’t get the full plot out properly. But wait, I’m not done! There’s garbage deus ex machina powers and a plot about false Gods and creations that makes no sense whatsoever, and the show is convinced its super deep. Have I covered it all? Gridman is dumb on so many levels and the sheer audacity of how it tries to disguise its terrible aspects as nostalgia just had me irritated. Take a break Trigger…I know you are better than this.

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Dan – Blue Awards
Best of 2018 A Place Farther Than The Universe

This show offers a perfect blend of humor, drama, and emotion. The characters are a blast to watch, and the scenery is gorgeous. Everything is just so well-rounded that it creates a wonderful experience for anyone interested in taking a trip to the ends of the world.

Most Pleasant Surprise Hakumei & Mikochi

By breaking up its full-length episodes into smaller vignettes, Hakumei & Mikochi gives you glimpses into the everyday lives of tiny folk and their animal neighbors. It’s a light, fluffy show that’s relaxing to watch, and offers some fantastic music besides.

Worst of 2018 Violet Evergarden

This show isn’t awful, but it’s the one that frustrated me the most. For all its visual polish, the story is a slog and the characters fail to make any impact. After awhile it became bland and predictable to the point where I was finishing it out of obligation rather than enjoyment.

Most Disappointing Megalo Box

A cool premise and aesthetics that hark back to Cowboy Bebop might’ve been enough to get me interested in this show, but it wasn’t enough to keep me hooked. It just didn’t have the human element to make me invested in the struggle of its characters, and without a strong story for them to navigate, they just lost me.

Most Relatable Aggretsuko

While I’ve never worked a job quite like our metalhead red panda friend, watching this show feels affirming. It’s smart, sharp and seriously funny, making it a perfect show to help vent the frustrations of a long workday. Also, Miss Washimi is a secretary bird, and that is delightful.

Most Obviously Created to Annoy Dan Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight

Anime that takes on traditionally Western/European-style stories can offer a fascinating lens through which to view familiar settings and events. This show, however, cannibalizes European history and mythology to create the ultimate light novel trifecta of pandering, sleaze, and nonsense. It now lives in the dark corners of my brain and will not die.

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Brendan – Beige Awards
Best of 2018 Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight

THE TOP STAR! This is a tough call because Sora Yori is an excellent show in many ways: electric cast chemistry, delightful situation comedy, authentic drama, gorgeous backgrounds, the list goes on. In contrast, parts of Revue Starlight seem much rougher around the edges. The interactions among the much larger cast often struggle to achieve the depth necessary to float the show’s ambitious crescendos, the art tends to be a little more flat, and there’s an entire episode based on a continuity failure, but, oh boy, if you want spectacle…
Maybe my issue with Sora Yori is that it’s too real. I absolutely love Megumi’s send-off and Shirase’s New-Year’s address, but they’re the sort of thing I feel like I can only appreciate in doses. I could watch girls with medieval weapons sing-fighting each other on stages that react to their subconscious(es) under the watchful eye of an enigmatic giraffe all day – especially if the bouts result in some sort of character growth (which they often do).

Most Pleasant Surprise Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny-Girl Senpai

Started this one up on a lark, but it turned out to be pretty good – full of likeable characters trying to find solutions to interesting problems.

Worst of 2018 Between the Sky and Sea

I’m not sure what I was expecting going into a show about young women fishing in space, but it wasn’t accidental god-app-based shenanigans. Dropped after ep 1.

Most Disappointing Harukana Receive

I just wanted to watch a show about tall girls in skimpy outfits playing beach volleyball. I was hoping that the showrunners would consider the fanservice opportunities inherent in this premise to be sufficient, but I couldn’t bring myself to hit play on ep 4 after the previous episodes had stooped to including a bunch of cringe-worthy yuri-bait. Calm down, guys – jeez.

Fastest Drop Three-way Tie – Chio’s School Road / Slow Start / Goblin Slayer

The first episode of Chio’s School Road begins with the high-intensity OP, which I watched to completion before I decided that the show was going to involve more violence and fan-service than I usually like in my comedies. I closed it before watching any of the show proper, but the OP was 90 seconds.
Slow Start, on the other hand, led with a prologue scene, in which the premise of a main character who missed a year of school and is supposed to be worried about whether people will catch on is immediately sabotaged by her looking abnormally young for her age. Also, another character’s ponderous mammaries had their second gratuitous close-up at about the 75 second mark, prompting me to close it.
I actually dropped Goblin Slayer over a year before it aired, when I read a couple chapters of the manga before putting it down with no intention of picking it back up. I’ve got a dark streak, but not that dark.

Biggest Missed Opportunity Hoshi-iro Girldrop (Pop Team Epic)

Midway through the previews for Pop Team Epic’s show-outside-the-show, they tease the possibility of the female lead’s idol group veering into heavy metal. They totally should have done it.

Most Distressingly-Timed Eyecatch Hakyuu Houshin Engi

After what felt like enough densely packed plot developments for an entire first episode, the eyecatch happened. I immediately turned to the friend I was watching it with and told him to hit pause so the progress bar would pop up and we’d know whether the episodes were 45 minutes long.
They are less than twenty-four minutes long.
That first eyecatch is eighteen minutes in.

Most Meh Cells at Work

Only watched about half of this one – if someone were to put it on, I’d watch more, but I’m probably not going to go out of my way to finish it any time soon. It’s kind of cute, and kind of educational, but it’s also clinical and episodic, so I don’t feel like I’m missing a whole lot.

Best French Japan Mignon (Pop Team Epic)

Revue Starlight gets a point for trying, but it didn’t stand a chance against the actual Francophones that somehow got dragged into this obtuse corner of bkub’s anime train wreck.

Best Advertainment Yuru Camp

The anime industry lowers the bar for recommending outdoor activities to otaku (e.g.: Encouragement of Climb, Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club) in this romanticization of reading by yourself in the woods. It’s cute, though – especially the cooking-with-your-friends-in-the-woods parts (and except for Aoi’s demented lip-fang – I appreciate yaeba as much as the next guy, but keep it in your mouth).

Best Use of Norio Wakamoto Pop Team Epic (Pop Team Epic)

Pipimi purchasing a new murder-mobile from an increasingly concerned car salesman easily tops anything Generalissimo Karellen was up to in Planet With (especially in the on-board onsen – what was up with that?)

Best use of Live-Action/Stop-Motion Bob Epic Team (Pop Team Epic)

Beating out Pop-Team-Epic-proper’s mind-blowing parody music video Let’s Pop Together (although I guess it helps if you’re familiar with the source material), the deliberately crappy segment of the show breaks out some ringers for an unforgettable performance that will give you a valid dialogue option for whenever you realize that you’ve been ignoring someone.

Do you agree with us? Disagree with us? Drop us a comment! See you (Space Cowboy) in 2019.

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