Wicked Anime’s Must-Watch Winter 2018 Anime
It’s 2018, which means another year of anime is now upon us. This winter season is greeting viewers with iconic returns, more of those “isekai” plotlines, and some fun action titles. But this winter season’s biggest export to anime fans is — no doubt — a plethora of the cute! Cute babies, campers, mummies, ramen aficionados, and even albino lizard gals! It’s as if we have unearthed Rule 35: if it exists, we can make it cute
With that, the folks over at Wicked Anime are here to present you with the best (and most adorable) titles of Winter 2018 that you should absolutely watch!
Andrew’s Pick: Laid-Back Camp
You know what one of the worst things in the world is? … Camping. You know what the best anime show this season is? A show about a group of girls that like to go camping. Now, even with my ultimate disdain for sleeping outside on the ground, the ladies of Laid-Back Camp sure do get a thrill out of it and I certainly love to watch them enjoy it!
In this show, Nadeshiko meets a new “friend,” Rin, while traveling to see Mt. Fuji and falls asleep on the side of the road. New to her environment, Nadeshiko wakes up in the middle of the night stranded and Rin reluctantly helps her out at her camp site. While Rin is a kind of person who likes to camp on her own and experience nature in it’s solitude as a pro, Nadeshiko wants to learn everything she can about camping and nature while hanging out with her new friend. This leads her to join the Outdoor Activities Club at her new school and also learn that her new friend, Rin, is also at her school… though not in the Outdoors Club. We now get to learn as the audience, what camping is like in Japan and how to properly do it as being told by these high school girls. It doesn’t really get much simpler than that!
Why it’s Great
When you mix the concept of animated media and the theme of everyday life activities (this time camping), throw in some educational points and finish it off with adorably charming anime girls, it more often than not pumps out a really interesting piece of art! For this show, what we get is a grand tour of everything camping and learning Japanese camping rules and manners of survival in the great outdoors! It’s actually quite fun! It has certainly convinced me that I should try camping in the outdoors of Japan in the midst of Fall.
The animation is pretty to look at with some really lovely person-to-person reaction shots of the characters interacting with one another, accompanied by some funny gag humor and charming dialogue. The characters designs look great as they hold that anime-esque charm while also keeping the designs unique and less recycled as you often find among other anime shows. The spoken dialogue is well-written and intelligent as the characters really feel like friends and also speak with real camping knowledge and advice. The story also does a great job so far of keeping the most interesting characters to the front of the show and keeps the supporting cast as support. I do hope, however, that the other characters get a bit more screen time so that they possibly can break out of their support role and keep the show interesting on their own if need be.
Each episode holds my total interest, even though I’m a stick-in-the-mud about camping, and I actually enjoy learning about what the characters enjoy, even if I already know most of the camping rules to begin with.
To finished off, I feel like this show is the one show in my list that I jump to as soon as it comes out. Each release gets me excited to see what the characters do next, even if it’s just more camping. Maybe camping actually looks fun? Maybe I stay because the characters are fun and appealing? Either way, I plan to stick with this one to the end and I give it very high praise! #CampingLife
Jonstar’s Pick: Darling of the Franxx
In the distant future, the world has been brought to ruins. Humans live within a mobile city to protect themselves from the dangerous Kyoryu that lurk on what’s left of the planet outside. The guardians of this mobile city are child pilots, or “Parasites,” who pair up in male/female partnerships and take control of giant robots called Franxx to fight the Kyoryu. Hiro was one of these children trained from birth to pilot a Franxx, but never really made the cut, as he and his partner could never quite sync. On the fateful day of his exile from the city, the mysterious pilot, Zero Two, shows up in the city. She is a known dangerous pilot who has never kept one of her partners alive for more than three flights. Hiro is suddenly saved from his exile, as Zero Two chooses him to be her new co-pilot in the battle against the outside monsters, her “darling.”
Why it’s Great
If there’s ever a new show out created by Studio Trigger, there are two absolutes: the show will have major sexual overtones and Wicked Anime is going to talk about it! Studio Trigger and A-1 Pictures have teamed up for the production of this show (fittingly, considering the team-based manner of the show itself). They have created a show so unique that while it may not be the best show of the season, you must give it at least a couple of episodes.
Darling of the Franxx is probably the most unique take on a Mecha series since Evangelion. If you watch even the first episode of this show, you will quickly realize the allegory they are setting up with the robots and their pilots within this series. The female gets in a skin-tight body suit and bends down into a compromising position so that the male co-pilot can read the computer display on the back of their head and grab the pilot controls sticking out of the her hips. It’s alright, get your middle school giggles out now. The show presents this really weird metaphor between piloting the Franxx robots and sex. There’s evidence that the children pilots in the show barely even know what kissing is, yet in order to pilot the Franxx, the partners have to have this bearing-all kind of connection with one another and they all have these different attitudes about it. Some kids seem selfish and proud about how they pilot, some are innocent and quiet about their skills, some are happy with their partners but also want to partner with another . . . you see where they’re going with this? I may be getting too hung up on this for just a preview article.
Darling of the Franxx is so unique in it’s presentation, there is no way that I’m not going to talk about this one. Here’s the thing about Studio Trigger, they don’t care about long expositions that paint a big picture to set up the world they’re introducing you to. They literally just kick your butt out the door and say “Best of luck!” This isn’t a bad thing, at least not for me — I am quite comfortable in accepting fantasy worlds as they are with little to no introduction to them. In this show, there’s barely anything that we know about the world before we’re introduced to a rather large cast of incredibly diverse characters. There’s something to behold with each one of the character designs, including the unique look of each one of the Franxx. Finally, in Studio Trigger fashion, the animation is smooth and shows off some really eye-catching key poses of the main cast. The robot fights bring on that old Gainax feel with that new comfy and simple design element that Studio Trigger brings to the table for every show. If you enjoy Trigger’s work, you’ll find enjoyment out of this series. If you like that anime pervy stuff . . . yeah, it should be at the top of your list this season.
Evan’s Pick: School Babysitters
Recently losing their parents in a plane crash, high schooler Ryuichi Kashima and his toddler brother Kotaro find themselves living with the chairwoman of Morinomiya Academy. The chairwoman has one stipulation for them having a residence in her place: when not in class, Ryuichi must work at the high school’s daycare center as a babysitter. What starts off as a simple gig winds up being an eye-opening experience for the Kashima brothers, as they bond closer whilst befriending fellow students and toddlers.
Why it’s Great
School Babysitters is a solid half-hour of adorable hilarity in each episode. How the kids react to Ryuichi and his babysitting cohort Usaida brings forth a sort of realism to the anime realm. Toddlers can be cute, annoying, and very rambunctious, and this anime captures that perfectly with a hint of cartoonish antics. However what makes School Babysitters stand out is the relationship between brothers Ryuichi and Kotaro. Knowing they only have each other, the bond the Kashima brothers have is surprisingly strengthened with the addition of new kids and students in their life. Instead of having their time pulled apart due to the chairwoman’s stipulation, it instead grows stronger with the aid of the new people in their lives.
As someone who recently became an uncle, I pay close attention to these types of shows to see how I could possibly mold my niece into a fun and good person. While it may sound crazy to say such a thing, the fact of the matter is I see her future self in these characters. Right now she is close to the level of infant Midori, who just reacts with extreme cuteness to everything around her. Soon I expect her to be like the giraffe-loving Kirin, who loves her stuffed animal more than anything else in the world. However one must prepare for the rebellious phase, such as how Taka presents himself towards his older brother (albeit not going the route Hayato does with initiating punishment). So naturally, I take note of these characteristics and hope to implement what I learn from this show onto my skills as an uncle.
With that being said, School Babysitters is a very cute and often silly show that portrays raising kids in a different sort of light. You’ll laugh when the toddlers goof off or how the students chase after them on a cold day to try to take advantage of their warmness. Then suddenly you’ll cry when Ryuichi tries to call his parents when Kotaro gets sick, only to realize there won’t be a voice on the other side of the line. (Yeah, it’ll hit you right in the feels when you’d least expect it!) But take it from a manly man who loves cute things when I say that School Babysitters will make you feel warm and fuzzy from start to finish!
Derek’s Pick: Junji Ito Collection
This series brings the illustrations of manga artist Junji Ito to life in a series of short stories. Each tale seems to have its own voice and personality… each account incites different feelings of wonder and discomfort. It has an unmistakable creepiness, but the use of light and realism in the illustrations keep you from looking away. And where I’m not the most well-versed anime-niac, so to speak, I can’t help but think of Hitchcock whenever I try to describe this. My suggestion? Turn the lights off, turn the volume up, and get ready.
Why it’s Great
The best part about these stories is how relatable they are. The narratives range from a kid and his classmates, to a set of amateur filmmakers. The collection has even touched on the family dynamic and even the concept of simple dreaming. Everyone can relate to at least one aspect of any of these themes. Whether you know someone with the appeal of the “Fashion Model”, or you’ve secretly wished you could cast “Souichi’s Convenient Curses”, there is something that will resonate with you. And once you begin to relate to the story, the trap is set; you’re sucked into the twisted path that keeps you glued to the screen in awe.
Other reasons why it’s great? Well, for one… haven’t you always wondered what would happen to your daughter if she turned into a porcelain doll? I never knew I had that worry until I saw what could happen. Would you end her suffering? Would you keep her alive? Trust me, the porcelain doll even evolves like an evil Pokemon. Tough choice. What if you could make voodoo dolls? What would you do to them? Bury them like a hibernating animal? Souichi too! As you can see, while there is creepiness to the illustration, the narration provides its own sensory uneasiness. But nothing will make me more uneasy than the Fashion Model’s second row of teeth… enough said.
I’m disappointed that there have only been 12 episodes and two OVAs confirmed, but then again, I don’t know the source material. While asking friends about this series, the ones who recognize the name immediately light up and start asking if I’ve read certain stories. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the series brings, but at the same time this is making a non-manga reader interested in getting into manga. If the print is as beautifully horrifying as the anime, I’ll need another shelf on my bookcase. Until then? The lights are off and the volume is up.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (written by Evan)
You can’t tell from this writing, but there are tears of joy running down my face over the return of Cardcaptor Sakura. One of the very first anime I fell in love with back in the day, the adventures of Sakura, Li, Kero-chan, and the rest of the cast was one of the highlights of my after-school routine. Despite some of the hatred it got when it aired on Kids WB, I even have fond memories of the Cardcaptors English dub, especially with Matt Hill (who also voiced the tall Ed in Ed, Edd, and Eddy) as the cool and beloved Keroberos. And yeah, despite them trying to hide it from the kids, I always knew about the Toya/Yukito relationship. (I wasn’t THAT stupid back then!)
But now, twenty years later, the keeper of the Clow Cards returns with a brand-new task at hand. All of Sakura’s cards have mysteriously gone clear, and a new batch has appeared. So as it was with the original series, Sakura, Li, Kero, and the camera-totting Tomoyo set out to capture the cards with courage and determination at their side. And yes, it’s the exact same formula as the show from the ’90s, but consider that a good thing.
You see, the original Cardcaptor Sakura set the standards of how to do a successful magical girl series, so much so that I actually consider it the greatest anime ever made. It was cute, funny, action-packed, philosophical, and always entertaining. This new Clear Card arc is more of that formula, albeit with a fresher coat of paint. Tomoyo is still making crazy outfits for Sakura to wear, Kero continues to have a hardcore sweet-tooth, and older brother Toya still acts dumb around Sakura’s antics despite knowing exactly what’s going on (hence why he’s always got so many part-time jobs, so as to keep an eye on her).
What makes this new Cardcaptor Sakura stand out most is that it reunites every cast and main crew member from the original 90s version. Because of this, the series has this sort of aura around it, as if each person involved has taken the most precise care to make sure not to muck up the legacy the original has. Ergo, it looks and sounds exactly how a new Cardcaptor Sakura should, in a way that makes it feels like it never left us to begin with.
If you have never watched the original Cardcaptor Sakura, you can catch it on Crunchyroll and Hulu. It has aged gracefully, unlike most anime released twenty years back. And if you still crave for more adventures with Sakura, Li, and Kero, then by all means continue on with this new Clear Card arc. With all the terrible things happening in the world, we can at least thank the stars that we have our favorite Cardcaptor back in action!
Dagashi Kashi Season 2 (Written by Jonstar)
Our favorite small town candy shop is back! If you enjoyed the calming sensation you got while learning the history on really old traditional candy in Japan that you can still find for sale in some places in season 1 of this show, well then, you’re in for a treat for season 2!
Dagashi Kashi Season 2 nearly picks up where it left off, give or take a couple months. Kokonotsu finds his little shop looking a tad run down after not seeing that candy-obsessed Hotaru around for a while, so he starts to get a little lazy and careless. But alas! She swiftly returns, as if there would be a show without her, and we pick right back up with her challenging Kokonotsu’s knowledge of the candy within his shop. Alongside our main characters, we have Saya and To running their coffee shop, and Kokonotsu’s dad somewhere not in the candy shop where he’s supposed to be!
While some complained about the change in the art style when the season was initially being advertised, it’s honestly hardly noticeable in the actual episodes and reminds me exactly how the first season was, maybe with even more production value. Better yet, now this show has be broken down into smaller, bite-sized pieces (candy pun!) and creates shorter candy segments than we had from season 1, which could also contribute to it’s production quality. Some may consider the episode length a bad thing because they enjoyed the full-length episodes and what they had to offer, and some enjoy the shorter version due to having to watch 17 other shows at the beginning of the winter anime season.
If you want more Dagashi Kashi like all of us here at Wicked Anime, this will satisfy that sweet tooth!