Tuesday’s Top 5: Female Anime Characters from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

In 2016 Yatorishino from Alderamin on the Sky took out my top female character. 2017 saw a tie between Hina (March Comes in Like a Lion) and Uraraka (My Hero Academia). This year the choices were really tough because there are some really solid choices as 2018 has given us some amazing female character. Here are my favourite female characters from the year but I’d love to know who your favourites are.

Honourable Mentions:

This year’s honourable mentions go to Nanami from Bloom Into You and Priestess from Goblin Slayer. These were both great characters and in prior years they probably would have earned a spot on my list. However, there were so many great characters this year so while I’m giving both of these characters a mention they haven’t made the top 5.

Number 5: Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card

Sakura has always been a great female character. While Clear Card wasn’t the strongest anime, Sakura’s character is still a fairly solid female in an anime. She is a strong character who faces some incredible challenges but remains sweet and optimistic. When I was young, I really admired Sakura and I think if I was still a kid I would have absolutely loved her in Clear Card. She definitely belongs in the top 5 list even if she doesn’t take it out like she would have once upon a time.

Number 4: Red Blood Cell from Cells at Work

This one probably shouldn’t be a surprise. Our favourite directionally challenged Red Blood Cell is all kinds of adorable but more than that she’s also driven and dedicated. For all that she freaks out when getting lost, at the sight of germs, and is inexperienced at her job, she’s also the one who sounds the alarm about Cancer and continues to do her job in all conditions. The most charming individual blood cell from a show full of truly charming characters.

Number 3: Yuu from Bloom Into You

It was a hard toss up between Nanami and Yuu for the spot on the list, but Yuu is the character who has grown the most over the run of the series. She’s learned a lot about herself and Nanami during the course of the show and by the penultimate episode she’s finally realised what she wants and is ready to take action. It has been a wonderful journey with Yuu this season and she definitely deserves recognition for being a solid female character this year.

Number 2: Sakurajima Mai from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

If only she had more screen time. Mai has been an amazing character. Sure, she was technically being rescued by Sakuta who is the main character, but she never lets herself be out shined on the screen. Mai is a solid character and highly entertaining. With the help of some well written dialogue and a great support cast, every scene Mai is in shines. Though that brings us back to wishing there was just more time where Mai was on the screen and not being sent away for some job or another.

Number 1: Hina from March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2

For the second year in a row Hina takes out my favourite female character, though this year she isn’t sharing the honour. She’s an adorable bundle of courage, resilience, and just solid character development and writing. If you ever wanted a character who could bring sunshine into your life just by being on screen, Hina is definitely your girl and I am hoping for more of her at some point because she is one character I can’t get enough of.

And that’s the list for 2018 of amazing female characters. That said, there are plenty that didn’t end up on my list so I’d love to hear who your favourites were.

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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 1054 MADE IN ABYSS: RIKO
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Duos of 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

There’s only one thing better than a great character and that is a great duo. A pair of characters where the chemistry just works, the timing in their dialogue and reactions are spot on, and seeing the two interacting is enough to carry any scene they are in. This is my list of top 5 anime duos from 2018 and there are some incredibly great pairings here. My only real limitation was the characters in the top 5 couldn’t be part of my favourite couples from the year. As always though, I’d love to know your picks so please share in the comments below who some of your favourite duos were.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mention for Ash and Eiji from Banana Fish. After taking out best couple I couldn’t have them on this list as well, but let’s be honest, they really deserve a spot. The only question would be whether I think they could have beaten the number one on this list and that’s a tough question. Also, an honourable mention to Keika and Tanmoku from Spiritpact who were fantastic together, however the introduction of a third character into the mix in season two kind of disrupted the duo for a bit so they ultimately didn’t get a spot in the top 5.

Number 5: Ryuichi and Kotaro from School Babysitters

It is a slightly unusual choice for a duo list but these brothers are fantastic together. Kotaro is awesome as the toddler younger brother and Ryuichi is a delight as a concerned older brother. Neither of these characters comes off as too clingy but their scenes together are always sweet and heart warming and they are just adorable.

Number 4: Kirito and Eugeo from Sword Art Online Alicization

While Asuna may be left fairly high and dry this season, Kirito isn’t flying solo. No, he’s working side by side with Eugeo who has turned into a surprisingly fun character and the interactions with Eugeo and Kirito remain my favourite part of this new instalment of SAO. This is kind of what I think they should have done with Klein way back in the Aincrad arc but I can kind of understand why they didn’t. Looking forward to more Kirito and Eugeo moments in the new year.

Number 3: Banba and Lin from Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

Your typical odd couple, these two work beautifully and are an absolute delight in a show about hitmen and murder. Individually, both characters are fun enough and fine, but when you put them together with their opposing views and contrasting skills you get something really special. Banba brings out the best in Lin and Lin certainly helps to keep Banba fairly level. I know this anime flew a little under the radar for some viewers so if you haven’t checked it out, and you don’t mind a bit of violence, then this one might end up being great fun. It is certainly worth checking out for these two characters.

Number 2: Red and White Blood Cell from Cells at Work

Alright, you knew these two were going to make an appearance. They are adorable and every moment when they are together is delightful. Whether White Blood Cell is rescuing Red from a germ, Red is telling White about her day while they drink tea, or even seeing the young versions of them in training, these two characters are just pure bliss and they work perfectly together.

Number 1: Sakuta and Mai from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

They had to be the number one. From their very first episode together, the interactions between Sakuta and Mai charmed their audience and in an anime full of strong writing and interesting characters, nothing beats scenes with these two together. The back and forth dialogue, the give and take nature of their conversations and barbs, and just their general awareness of one another make these two an unbeatable duo from 2018.

That’s my list of best duos from the year and I’d love to know who some of your favourites were.

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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 1053 MADE IN ABYSS: REG
NENDOROID NO. 1053 MADE IN ABYSS: REG

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Villains of 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Realistically 2018 was not a good year for villains. And by that I mean we didn’t really get anyone who stood out as a well crafted or particularly interesting villainous character (at least none in the shows I was watching). Most of the time there either wasn’t a villain, the villain was more a force of nature or some kind of larger problem and not a person, or the villain was kind of lame. So no Makishima (Psycho Pass) type characters that just made me want to discuss them and their motives. It is a shame considering this is my first yearly top 5 villain list and it is going to be pretty ordinary. I guess we can just cross our fingers and hope for some better villains in 2019.

That said, I’d love to know who your favourite villains were in 2018 so please leave me a comment below.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mentions this list go to Cartaphilius from The Ancient Magus’ Bride who was almost a good villain and then somehow just kind of became fairly lame. I really wish they’d done more with him given the build up he got. And Sagawa from Kokkoku who again seemed like a really solid bad guy and then… well I’m not sure I ever understood his motive in the first place so I can’t say whether or not he got his wish.

Number 5: Milza from Record of Grancrest War

It is probably a sign of how weak I found villains this year that I even considered Milza. He started out as a fairly strong character but ultimately he was far too arrogant and his plans were pretty flawed. Theo and his army got the best of Milza at every turn and all and all he ended up being pretty disappointing. Still, he was the main antagonist for a lot of the series and it was pretty satisfying seeing him defeated.

Number 4: Carnival from Lostorage Conflate Wixoss

Another villain that just doesn’t hold up. Carnival has more or less become a lackey in the latest Wixoss entry and other than stirring the pot a bit their presence in the series is fairly forgettable. Which is a shame given Carnival could have been a great antagonistic character with just a bit more effort put into them. In terms of villainous attitudes, Carnival definitely wins.

Number 3: Cancer from Cells at Work

Probably not a villain at all so much as a natural hazard, but Cancer from Cells at Work deserves a mention here. Such a great character considering the potentially dark subject matter here. They managed to present Cancer as a clear threat, as someone who was disruptive to the natural order and needed to be eliminated, while still managing to give them enough individual personality and desire to live to make them reasonably sympathetic. For a two episode character, Cancer had more characterisation than most the rest of the characters on this list. The only reason Cancer isn’t number 1 on the list is because I’m kind of uncertain as to whether villain is really the right classification for them at all.

Number 2: Dino from Banana Fish

Dino was going to take number one on the list. Not because he’s actually all that great a character, but because at least he really is a villainous scum-bag who was unwavering in their horrible endeavours. However, then the second last episode happened and we suddenly had a new final bad guy for Ash to fight, and then Dino did a last second random act of something that was probably just him trolling the other bad guy but might be considered a potential help to Ash so I kind of felt his credit as a villain was questionable when technically he saved the day (momentarily). It wasn’t the first time he’d helped Ash either. While his motives were always fairly repulsive, measured by his actions, Dino saved Ash on at least three occasions. Not much of a big bad when you keep rescuing the hero.

Number 1: The Goblins from Goblin Slayer

Which means, the number one spot on the list doesn’t go to a person but rather a whole species as depicted in Goblin Slayer. These green monsters are definitely not something you want to bump into unaware and you certainly don’t want them deciding to visit your farm. Considering the goblins in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime have been great fun to meet as characters, it is fascinating the contrasting view shown in Goblin Slayer. These inarticulate and vicious creatures will stab you, tear you apart, rape you, and use you as a literal shield against arrows. The show has wasted no time trying to show them in a sympathetic light but rather has only depicted them as something that must be stopped at all costs.

And that’s my list of anime villains in 2018. I’d love to know what made your list or who your favourite villain was this year so be sure to share in the comments.

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Karandi James
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ARTFX J PERSONA 5 DANCING STAR NIGHT 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: PROTAGONIST & MORGANA
ARTFX J PERSONA 5 DANCING STAR NIGHT 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: PROTAGONIST & MORGANA

Cells At Work Episode 14 Review

Cells at Work Episode 14

Another episode of Cells at Work came out and if you were just craving more relaxing, slightly amusing and slightly educational entertainment, then this episode is going to hit the spot. It is however short on platelet and red blood cell sightings so if that’s your main reason for enjoying Cells at Work you might feel a bit let down.

Cells at Work Episode 14

Still, this episode focuses in on an ordinary cell that is going about it’s usual day of cloning itself and generally feeling the drag of repeating the same task every day. Then he meets another cell that is wearing quite a distinctive hat. For the audience it is clear where this is going and yet there’s something still genuinely amusing about the interactions between the two as they prank the immune cells – and this also leads to really the only interaction we get with the Red Blood Cell and Platelets so I guess we should be happy that they take advantage of her general cluelessness.

Cells at Work Episode 14

As usual, once the episode gets rolling and we’ve met our characters the shoe drops and we have our problem to solve. I don’t think this one was as violent or as bloody as some encounters have been and the focus on the Killer T Cells who seem more interesting in beating the cells up rather than defeating them is potentially the reason for it, but it all works well enough.

Cells at Work Episode 14

Then, of course, we get our feel good ending and a final Red Blood Cell sighting.

If this had aired with the rest of the series it would be a pretty average episode. As a stand alone it works well enough and you aren’t really required to know anything going in because all the cells are introduced within the episode. That said, it isn’t terribly exciting as a stand alone. It works. It isn’t as cute or thrilling as some. And then it is over.

Worth watching if you loved the series or maybe as an introduction but not a necessary add on.

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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 1036 CELLS AT WORK!: PLATELET
NENDOROID NO. 1036 CELLS AT WORK!: PLATELET

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Mascot Characters and Pets of 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Previously I hadn’t done a yearly post for mascot characters and the closest I’ve got is my favourite mascot and pet character top 5 list written back in 2016. However, that isn’t really fair to some of the adorable mascot characters out there and 2018 had some great mascot characters.

So, my criteria is that the character is more cute than annoying and is important enough to the plot of their story that removing them would actually hurt the narrative. They also need to feature heavily in fan art and merchandise. That means main characters are actually able to also be mascot characters. I know that other people will define it a bit differently and that’s fine, but that’s what I’m working off for my choices. And if you want to know why I lump pets in here as well it is because with some characters it is difficult to tell if they are a mascot, a pet, or both.

Without any further delays, let’s count down my top 5 anime mascot characters and pets of 2018 and then I’d love to know which characters caught your eye this year.

Honourable Mentions:

This time I’m giving honourable mentions to Sir Balgary from Record of Grancrest War (great potential character but too limited in appearance) and Navi from 100 Sleeping Princes (too annoying and fairly useless).

Number 5: Romero from Zombieland Saga

In case you are wondering, I do appreciate that I am choosing a character from a show I dropped. That said, the name alone is enough here to warrant a mention. In a story about zombies giving a shout out to a legend of the horror movie genre was an A+ move and one I definitely appreciated in the first episode of this series. However, I don’t have a lot more to say other than zombie dog with a taste for squid because honestly I didn’t hang around long enough with this series to really get into the character (so breaking my own criteria before we even really get into the list).

Zombieland Saga Episode 1 - Tatsumi

Number 4: Kero from Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card

Kero, or Cerberus, is the guardian of the Clow Cards (though apparently not that good at his job) and he’s been with Sakura since the beginning of her journey. He continues to play as her stuffed toy in Clear Card, coming under increasing scrutiny from her brother, still insatiable when it comes to sweets, and still just not quite as useful as it seems he should be when it seems like he’s needed but other-times surprisingly useful. That said, Kero remains an amusing member of the cast and one who is needed in a lot of scenes or Sakura would end up talking to herself a lot and that is not a good sign.

Number 3: Rimuru From That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime

While it has taken this show a fair while to grow on me, there’s no denying that the titular slime is an iconic character of the season and the year. Not to mention I would love to get my hands on a Rimuru plush because that would be just this side of adorable. With his internal monologue critiquing the world and reacting far more exuberantly than his exterior slime self, Rimuru has been a pleasant enough protagonist but his most valuable trait is that he just looks so cute (and when was the last time you saw a cute slime).

Number 2: Mii-Kun from How To Keep A Mummy

You have no idea how hard it was not to give this adorable let bundle of bandages take out the first place. Seriously if someone had floated the idea of ‘cute mummy’ prior to my seeing this series I would have asked them what planet they were from. And yet, How To Keep A Mummy gave us the single most adorable mascot character ever and it didn’t matter what Mii-Kun did, he was cute. I’d love pretty much anything Mii-Kun themed and honestly this character deserves to be in some kind of cuteness hall of fame.

Below my number one choice I’ve shared a tweet from the amazing Mel that actually combines my number 1 and 2 choices together. This absolutely made my day. 

Number 1: The Platelets from Cells At Work

Honestly, I don’t think it could have been any other group of characters. The platelets are cute and every scene they are in makes you tilt your head and go ‘aww’, even as they serve a vital function both in the ‘body’ and in the anime. Still, any platelet scene was just precious and clearly the writers knew that spacing them out beautifully so that you never had too much but got a continuous drip feed of adorableness. Given how easy this one is to cosplay and how cute people look in the costume, I’m expecting that we’ll be seeing platelets for a fair while to come. 


Right, so that is my list and now I’m turning it over to you: who are your top mascot characters and pets from 2018.

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Karandi James
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Play Asia Exclusive
Play Asia Exclusive

Tuesday’s Top 5: Surprisingly Good Anime in 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

I started this list in 2017 and unsurprisingly Spiritpact took out my top pick for surprisingly good show. The sequel didn’t have quite the surprise factor, though it was still pretty awesome.

Now, I will make it clear, this is not my list of best anime from 2018. That will come once the Autumn season has ended and I can do my final evaluation of the shows. These are anime that I expected nothing from, or very little, and what I got was actually pretty decent. These shows surpassed anything I ever thought they would so even though they all still have a few rough edges, ultimately these are some fun anime to check out if you passed on them initially or looking at the name makes you want to run and hide.

When looking at the list below, I’m aware a lot of them come out of the Autumn season. That’s because of all the seasons this year, Autumn was the one I expected little from most of the shows (Spring and Summer had definitely lowered my expectations) and then there were just so many shows that I have thoroughly enjoyed. However, this list are the shows that surprised me by being good, so I’d love to know what is on your list for 2018.

Please Note – Potential spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week go to: How to Keep a Mummy and Run With The Wind.

Number 5: How Not To Summon a Demon Lord

For an ecchi filled harem isekai story about a guy who enslaves two girls on arrival (accidentally of course) this anime could easily be dismissed as trash. Those who dislike fan-service of any sort probably will dismiss it and move on as will those who by default dislike isekai stories. However, How Not To Summon A Demon Lord proved itself a fairly enjoyable romp full of interesting characters and some fairly solid magical fights. The fan service moments certainly pushed things to the limit at times, but the story being constructed was surprisingly good and they certainly paced things so that every time the thought of maybe calling it quits something very good would happen and draw me back into the story. Ultimately, I ended up really having a lot of fun with Diablo, Shera and Rem and I actually kind of hope this one gets a sequel.

Number 4: DAKAICHI -I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year-

Having read the manga of this one I was curious about its transformation into an anime and was expecting something so much worse. I’m not going to say it is all smooth sailing and there are certainly plenty of actions that would cross the lines some people have drawn for themselves, but this one has been a surprisingly fun ride. I really enjoy Takato as a character and even Junta has grown on me as the season has progressed. There are some incredibly sweet and touching moments and the more extreme aspects of the manga have been toned down (which will probably annoy those who wanted to see those scenes brought to life but I’m kind of happy with the alterations that I’ve noticed). All and all, I expected that my curiosity for this one would be short lived once it started and instead I’ve been falling more and more in love with this story since episode 1.

Number 3: Voice of Fox

Anime shorts don’t normally last long on my watch list so I’m really surprised that I’m not only watching this one but how high up my favourites list it is most weeks. Certainly not a perfect story by any means, it really isn’t wasting its time in each episode as it progresses what is a fairly competent and interesting story and a character who is fairly likeable. Sure, it could all go belly up in the final weeks and maybe I’ll change my mind about where on this list it should go, but considering I expected almost nothing from it, I’ve ended up really looking forward to and anticipating the episode each week. That and Hu Li’s singing voice is out of this world good. Would love an actual album of just that.

Number 2: Cells At Work

No surprise this one made the list. I kind of expected the show to be cute enough but get repetitive and dull. Instead, I enjoyed it each week and found the characters a true delight. Again, this anime wasn’t perfect by any means, but considering my expectations the silly smile on my face each week from the opening song on was very unanticipated. That and this show delivered on the cutest characters of all time (losing out only to Mii-Kun from How to Keep a Mummy), the Platelets. Yes, we all need more platelets in our lives.

Number 1: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

I almost did not watch the first episode of this one. I saw the title, saw the promotional art and I sighed. I avoided the first episode and watched other things. I took notes on what was going onto my watch list. And then I decided I’d give it five minutes of my time. This is now the top of my Autumn season watch list and has been pretty consistently my favourite show every single week of the season. Great characters, great writing, interesting plots, and pacing that never feels too slow or too rushed. While I will continue to make fun of their running animations, I love this show and it is one that truly convinced me that every show is worth trying (even if only for a minute).

So I’d love to know which anime have surprised you this year with how good they have been. Be sure to leave me a comment below and next week I’m going to look at my top 5 anime for visuals from 2018.

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Karandi James
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Cells at Work Series Review: They Are The Cutest Anthropomorphic Blood Cells You’ve Ever Seen

Cells at Work Episode 7

There was no denying that Cells at Work made a splash last season with its cute and boppy opening song, adorable cast of characters (including the unbeatable-in-the-cute-department platelets), and its weird mix of education and entertainment. This was an anime that caught a lot of the community by surprise and week after week it primarily delivered solid fun and cuteness. So after some time for the post-season high to wear down and another look at a couple of episodes, how does this one stack up?

Cells at Work Episode 8

Surprisingly quite well. Despite the sometimes copious amounts of text on screens explaining various fundamentals about cells or the body in general, the occasional bit of fairly rough animation, and the handful of episodes that focused on cells other than the super adorable Red Blood Cell, Cells at Work is pretty consistently entertaining. There’s a lot of imagination behind the concept and the way it is delivered and I know I’ll never feel the same way about hay-fever ever again after seeing how the body failed to cope with a pollen allergy.

Cells at Work Episode 4

Where this story works is that it keeps itself simple and true to its premise. The cells have jobs to do and each episode something comes along to disrupt the usual processes and then it needs to be dealt with. While this might sound repetitive, and one of my early worries was that this show would end up feeling repetitive, ultimately each new threat is executed in an interesting manner and the solutions are usually fairly entertaining to watch. Also, each of the cast brings something to the table.

Cells at Work Episode 12 - Platelet

It is really hard to talk about these characters without coming off sounding a little weird given we are in fact discussing various cells in the body. However, this anime did such an incredible job in humanising them and giving them what felt like real personalities within the confines of needing a drive to complete their job (no lazy blood cells here). The anime did such a great job with developing characters, sometimes in a very short span of time, to the point where many viewers even found themselves feeling a little sorry for the Cancer Cell after he’d been around just over an episode of time. That’s still hard to fathom but this anime actually succeeded in making that initial cancer cells being hunted down by the body’s immune system seem like a character we should have some sympathy for even as our usual characters sought its destruction.

Cells at Work Episode 7

Visually this anime has an interesting kind of look about it with the blood vessels being re-imagined as roads and pathways and a scrape becoming a massive explosion leaving a gaping hole in the world through which cells did in fact fall out and never returned (sad). Each cell type has a unique design in clothing and individuals within the cell type have defined enough features that you don’t confuse them. There are some interesting ideas about how the body reacts to certain situations with scenes going dark, the cells getting hotter or colder, or even the pathways becoming a desolate landscape during the heat stroke episode.

Cells at Work Episode 11

Basically it just works and it feels like the concept was well thought through. Does that mean there aren’t faults? Not really. None of these episodes are really anything more than simple meet cells in situation, introduce villain/obstacle, run around a bit, and then solve kind of stories. While their link to real health issues makes them a little more compelling and interesting, they are incredibly basic. There are also whole episodes where the focus cells aren’t ones I’m overly interested in and then I found my general interest waning.

Cells at Work Episode 9 Killer T Cell

Still, any episode with a platelet sighting (which is most of them) were plenty fine. Those cute characters need their own spin-off short anime right now and I will happily watch them do absolutely nothing except maybe drink some tea and walk down a stair case. Which for me, is pretty odd because normally characters not doing anything bores me but I just can’t imagine getting bored while watching a platelet.

Cells at Work - Episode 2 - Platelets

All and all, while this anime isn’t going to change the world anytime soon, it is a great deal of fun and one that is worth checking out. The episodic nature means you can watch one or two episodes and just walk away for awhile so perfect for busy people who don’t want to commit to a whole series. If you’ve watched it, I’d love to know your thoughts so leave me a comment below.

 

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NENDOROID NO. 979 CELLS AT WORK!: WHITE BLOOD CELL