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Dated 26 December 2018: Golden Kamuy and SSSS.GRIDMAN are among the best shows of the year

Asirpa
This is the sort of happiness you can only achieve by eating animal brains.

Some questionable publicity concerning some really jarring 3DCG got Golden Kamuy off to a bad start, but the strength of its source material pulled through. I'm one of those people who believe it's better to watch an anime first before reading its source manga, so basically all of the second cours was new to me. I'm told that the show truncated quite a bit of material in order to reach the second season's climax (and that it also cut out scenes that would have otherwise included more 3DCG animals). And what a climax it was. Basically, without going into spoilers, CRAZY SHIT HAPPENS, and there are real payoffs regarding characters that the viewer has gotten to know over the course of 24 episodes. With so many strong episodes this season, the second cours of Golden Kamuy is even better than SSSS.GRIDMAN.

Akane
It turns out Akane was the show's real protagonist. P.S. Spoilers.

Hopefully, word has gotten out by now that Studio Trigger did an excellent job with SSSS.GRIDMAN. I was a bit hesitant going in, since Trigger does falter somewhat frequently, and I was entirely ignorant of the GRIDMAN franchise. In fact, I'm ignorant when it comes to the entire genre, for that matter. Basically everything I know comes from posts by @TheIvanhobe on the Twitter. It turns out SSSS.GRIDMAN is satisfying even for viewers like me. I can only imagine how stoked people who recognized the various callbacks and references must have been. I should probably point out that while I put the second half of Golden Kamuy over SSSS.GRIDMAN, I find SSSS.GRIDMAN to be better if you compare its 12 episodes to the full 24 episodes of Golden Kamuy.

Shirase
That is one blue sky.

I should also mention that while I regard SSSS.GRIDMAN and Golden Kamuy to be among the best shows of the year, both were surpassed by five other shows from earlier in 2018. At the very peak is Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than the Universe), an anime that even The New York Times recognized as being one of 2018's best. I put Hinamatsuri not too far behind, and then (for pretty different reasons), Hanebado!, Yuru Camp△, and Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight. Overall, a pretty good year for anime. I can't claim that Winter 2019 looks ready to compare with Winter 2018, but maybe there will be some surprises coming up again as well.

Dated 25 September 2016: Looking forward to autumn 2016 anime

Kogane
Who's ready for more BBK/BRNK faces?

There are a surprising number of shows I'm interested in scheduled for autumn 2016. Most of these are sequels of some sort, but there are a few new properties that have caught my eye. Notably, I've yet to do any concerted investigating into the upcoming season, so the following only include titles that I noticed at some point and deemed worthy of preemptively annotating in my anime spreadsheet.

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Dated 5 January 2013: The problem with best of lists

Kurugaya
"How can Little Busters! be #20 on the 2ch end-of-the-year poll?!"

The onset of winter brings a deluge of "best of" lists ranking shows from the past year in terms of quality and enjoyment. Let's face it, it seems every anime blogger and his kid sister puts out an annual tally come December and January. (Even I do something similar.) However, a simple perusal of these lists quickly reveals there is typically no consensus among them. And why should there be? It's all a matter of opinion. Nevertheless, some readers seem to readily take offense when Someone Is Wrong on the Internet. They will incredulously exclaim, "How can GIRLS und PANZER be the number-one show of 2012?" They'll complain their favorite show ranked too low. The jaded ones may insist that voters only picked such-and-such show because them kids don't know no better—not like Old Sport who has watched anime since he was from the womb untimely ripped.

Niconico screenshot of Little Busters!
Because 269 people voted for it, that's how.

Why does a need exist to "correct" a contrary viewpoint concerning cartoons? Perhaps there's an underlying need for vindication through third-party agreement, or maybe it's driven by desires to disassociate themselves from other anime fans. It makes me wonder how insecure people have to be to challenge the position who-knows-what anime places in this-or-that poll. After all, aren't the most vocal critics only attacking other people's taste in order to make themselves feel superior? I'm at a loss trying to identify any meaningful alternative reason. It seems to me a rational person would understand that matters of opinions are, well...purely subjective, making the instigation of such arguments rather pointless. Then again, I suppose complaining about anime is as legitimate a hobby as watching it.

Dated 29 November 2009: Best Girl of the Year, 2009

Shimizu and Goro
Shimizu is a peach.

Are "Best of the Year" lists premature at this point considering December hasn't even started yet? Normally, I would say yes, but for 2009 Girl of the Year honors, Shimizu Kaoru from Major has boat raced them all. This is an easy win for Shimizu because I'm giving her an unfair amount of latitude in defining what "of the year" even means. Were I to strictly consider only 2009 appearances in making this judgment, it is possible—perhaps even likely—someone would surpass Shimizu for top honors. (Aoba from Cross Game, that's who.)

Shimizu
The fan service in Major gets completely out of hand.

However, followers of the five-season, one-hundred-twenty-plus episode baseball epic Major enjoy the unique privilege of seeing its characters mature from very young children to adulthood. We see Kaoru grow up just as we see Goro grow up. Shimizu is not just a "childhood friend" in the typical anime sense. Most of the time we're just told someone is a childhood friend character and we're expected to fill in the blanks with what we know of the trope from previous broadly drawn stereotypes.

Shimizu and Miho
How this got past the censors, I have no idea.

This is not the case with Shimizu. We meet Shimizu when Goro meets Shimizu, and by the time she describes herself—years later—as a childhood friend, we're almost surprised to realize Shimizu has been with Goro all this time. Part of this surprise is because she does not wake Goro up in the morning. Nor is she is a substitute for a missing parent. And she is not a devoted slave. This is not to say Shimizu is 100 percent realistic, but she's still a very sweet girl and far superior to the typical cookie-cutter osananajimi stereotypes.

Shimizu rounds third
Shimizu rounds third and digs for home.

So maybe it isn't entirely fair to weigh five seasons of character development against competitors that may have only got to play a single inning, but sometimes a single up the middle with nobody on and the outcome still in question ends up being worth just as much as the attention-getting walk-off home run. True, Shimizu still needed to take three bases back when I called the 2009 Best Girl of the Year shot in April, but I knew she'd be safe all the way.