Adventure is always a great genre to explore regardless of the medium due to its proclivity to having really awesome stories that are expansive and interesting at every turn. Unbound by the various realities of our particular plane of existence for several reasons, adventure shows always somehow speak to the child in us, or simply keep us entertained with their charm. Normally featuring characters on a journey, adventure anime is a highly regarded genre featuring its own diaspora of iconic characters; however, we’ll be focused on the shows that made quite the impact last year!
10. Karakuri Circus (Le Cirque de Karakuri)
- Episodes: 36+
- Aired: October 2018 – Ongoing
Masaru is a young boy who has just inherited a massive fortune after the death of his father. However, people are trying to obtain the fortune for themselves, by any means necessary and one day, Narumi saves Masaru from being kidnapped by strange assailants. He soon realises that these kidnappers aren’t human, but powerful wooden puppets and after having much difficulty in warding them off, Narumi has to admit that he might not be able to protect Masaru after all… At least, until Masaru’s watcher from France, Shirogane, makes an epic appearance with a wooden doll of her own – her special weapon, Arlequin.
Karakuri Circus seems to tickle that part in the brain of a veteran anime-watcher that takes them back to when they first started. There’s a particular sense of nostalgia that comes from watching this show that seems to permeate like the sweet aroma of coffee in the morning. That being said; however, it also seems to be playing a particular set of cards that we’ve seen before – but that’s what happens in the circus; the magician shows you your card. When you quite enjoy the card that pits the concepts of weaponised dolls, large family fortunes, fighting and mysterious silver-haired women, you find yourself attending the Karakuri Circus religiously.
9. Sword Art Online: Alicization
- Episodes: 16+
- Aired: October 2018 – Ongoing
Kirigaya Kazuto, also known as “Kirito”, is a well-known survivor of the Sword Art Online incident which saw 10 000 gamers trapped in the virtual reality world of Aincrad. After being fully rehabilitated and playing different games, Kirito now finds himself in an epic fantasy-like world with no real recollection of when he made a full-dive. There, he finds a huge pitch dark tree where he meets Eugeo, an NPC showing emotions like any human being would. Bonding with Eugeo, Kirito searches for a way to log out of his new environment, but he is bombarded with strange memories of playing outside with Eugeo and a certain blonde-haired girl – Alice. Not knowing how he has these memories, Kirito sets out to find out what is happening.
Third time's the charm for Sword Art Online as it finds a way back into the dangerous playing-field of being unable to log out of a videogame. This time; however, the story focuses more on the mystery of this Alice entity and creates the kind of environment that is similar to what we’ve managed to get a taste of in Sword Art Online’s previous titles, but strikingly different.
8. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind)
- Episodes: 39+
- Aired: October 2018 – Ongoing
The year is 2001 and Giorno Giovanna is a small-time crook looking to become a “Gang-Star”. Adept at his trade and bearing connections to the Joestar bloodline, Giorno also has a Stand called Gold Experience. His dreams begin to manifest when he meets Bruno Buccelati, a mobster of the gang Passione and a Stand-user himself. Realising how much they have in common, Giorno reveals his goal to Bruno: he seeks to reform Passione by overthrowing the leader. However, Giorno soon realises that the internal structure of Passione is made up of Stand-users, each with their own set of ambitions and abilities. Their goal of changing Passione seems easier said than done after all.
The long-running JoJo’s franchise continues to maintain relevance with its core fans and the general public with its Golden Wind instalment which combines the high-octane tendencies of stories featuring crime syndicates with the well-known JoJo’s flair. Also based on the events happening around one of the many Joestar descendants, Golden Wind did justice to its flagship franchise and gave us a little something to “Stand” on in 2018.
7. Piano no Mori (The Piano Forest)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2018 – July 2018
This story follows the development of two boys hailing from completely different backgrounds. Kai is a boy born to a prostitute who took a liking to playing the abandoned piano in the forest near his home from a young age. Shuhei on the other hand grew up with the piano forming an ever-present fixture in his life due to his lineage of prestigious pianists. The two soon cross paths because of their one bond – the piano.
Music anime have some of the most beautiful characteristics. Well, at the very least, such an opinion wouldn’t be unfounded after watching Piano no Mori. Some simple aspects of the show add to its charm – most notably the dichotomy or contrast displayed by the characters of Kai and Shuhei.
6. Goblin Slayer
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2018 – December 2018
Goblins are seen as lowly creatures, known for their ferocity, cunning and rapid rate of reproduction. Despite these facts, they’re often overlooked even as they raid rural civilisations to kidnap females of other species in order to breed. Adventurers simply turn to face more fortuitous pursuits. 15-year-old Priestess is commemorating her first day as a Porcelain-ranked adventurer, joining a band of enthusiastic young adventurers like herself to investigate a goblin tribe responsible for several disappearances. Their inexperience proving to be their downfall, Priestess’s entire squadron is brutally murdered and she resigns to her fate. However, the Goblin Slayer arrives just in time and destroys the entire goblin nest with minimal effort. Ranked a prestigious Silver, the Goblin Slayer allows Priestess to accompany him while he helps the Adventurer’s Guild with goblin-related issues. Together with Priestess, High Elf, Dwarf and Lizard-man, Goblin Slayer will not stop until every goblin has been exterminated.
Drawing from the fantasy elements we are very familiar with, Goblin Slayer burst onto the scene last year with a first episode that proved a little difficult to stomach for some. The show’s use of video game-esque structures in place in terms of the Goblin Slayer universe make certain things easy to understand without much explanation. The combat is also quite thrilling and if you’re a fan of RPGs, you’ll feel a certain itch develop as you binge this series. Time to pull out the health potions.
5. Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I Was Reincarnated As a Slime)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2018 - Ongoing
37-year-old Mikami Satoru’s life ends abruptly and violently when he is killed by a passing robber one day. In a strange turn of events, Satoru finds himself reincarnated in a fantasy world as a slime known as Rimuru Tempest. In this world, Satoru has access to a plethora of strange abilities, abilities which break him away from his old ordinary life and augment his adventures in a whole new world.
Isekai, our favourite beaten-to-death trope that can never actually ever die, saw itself firmly invigorated last year That Time a certain individual Was Reincarnated As a Slime. The characters of this series are quite interesting and given the mysterious circumstances under which Mikami Satoru found himself reincarnated grant this title quite an allure. Standing out as one of 2018’s most interesting entries, That Time I Was Reincarnated As a Slime is a great anime adventure series that Isekai fans should welcome with open arms.
4. Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than the Universe)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2018 – March 2018
Tamaki Mari has always had an intense curiosity about what lies beyond the reaches of the universe. Despite her curiosity, Mari has a crippling fear of the unknown and her anxiety about her own limitations which have kept her from chasing her dreams. Now, in her sophomore year of high school, Mari is determined to live her life; however, she remains plagued by uneasiness until she has a chance encounter with a girl with aspirations of her own. Kobuchizuka Shirase has been working hard to fund a trip to Antarctica, spurred on by her mother’s disappearance. Despite being ridiculed, Shirase is determined to head to this barren place to search for her mother and Mari, finding herself inspired by this resolve, decides to join her. The two soon become four as the bubbly Miyake Hinata and the polite Shiraishi Yuzuki join them on their journey south – their journey to a place further than the universe.
Showing the immense grit and determination possessed by three high schoolers, A Place Further Than the Universe is the type of title that drew on a certain trend in 2018 – that of the adventurous protagonist who also possesses a fair amount of moe. Is it because they’re young and optimistic? Perhaps; however, it is undeniable that shows like this don’t come around that often and when they do, they’re not always this good, nor do they go this far.
3. Hataraku Saibou (Cells At Work!)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2018 – September 2018
This is a story about the happenings inside your own body. According to studies, the human body is made up of about 37 trillion cells which work tirelessly every single day. A lot goes on inside the human body and each cell has a role to play, but imagine being able to look closer at these events and even the lives of the cells themselves… it’s your biology textbook – the anime!
Yet another memorable title from last year is Cells At Work, which brought us many cool things; like the Red Blood Cells’ fit, a bit of a shippening happening within fans featuring Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell, and of course, the cutest part – the Platelets! Cells At Work is a pleasurable watch, especially with the intention to simmer down at the end of a long day, or if you’re trying to learn something new!
2. Banana Fish
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2018 – December 2018
Aslan Jade Callenreese, also known as Ash Lynx, is a young runaway picked off the streets of New York and raised by the infamous mafia boss, Dino Golzine. Now 17 and leading his own gang, Ash comes into possession of a drug called “Banana Fish” – the same two words his brother, Griffin, has been muttering since his return from the war in Vietnam. Ash’s investigation is hindered when Golzine sends his men to Ash’s hideout to retrieve the drug. While Ash is at the bar, his friend, Skip, introduces him to Ibe Shunichi and his assistant, Okumura Eiji, a pair of Japanese photographers. The two are looking to report on American street gangs. They're interrupted by Shorter Wong, one of Ash’s friends, who warns them about Golzine. Soon after that, Golzine’s men storm the bar and kidnap Skip and Eiji. Now Ash must rescue them and continue looking into Banana Fish, but will his mafia connections do his investigation more harm than good?
This kick-butt gangster shoujo anime got its fair share of attention last year for various reasons – its pacey action mixed in with a bit of mystery and garnished with some romance was well-received last year. Many Banana Fish characters also quickly amassed fanbases of their own, which is a testament to the characterisation that happens throughout the series and over and above these elements, we’re still treated to an animation style that is beautiful yet also somewhat a nod to the series’ ‘80s origins.
1. Golden Kamuy
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2018 – June 2018
In Hokkaido, Sugimoto, a survivor of the Russo-Japanese war was also known as “the Immortal Sugimoto” during the war because of his tenacity in combat. Now he searches for riches in order to help the widowed wife of his dead friend who lost his life during the war. During his hunt for gold, Sugimoto finds clues alluding to a hidden stash of gold hidden by a band of criminals. He partners with a small Ainu girl who saved his life from the elements and together they race against time to find the stash before anyone else does.
Throwing in some history and a main character hailing from Japan’s original inhabitants, Golden Kamuy did something special last year in its story, characters and of course, its humour. The aspect which borrows from Ainu culture in order to have a greater sense of realism also happens to show anime’s immense potential in creating amazing stories using human history and a bit of imagination. The taste of overlapping, clashing cultures in the series contrasts a high-stakes plot and does really well to flesh out the Golden Kamuy universe. Not to mention just how badass its main characters and action are – Golden Kamuy stood out in 2018 as one of the best shows, and it shows.
Adventure anime have always been an amazing way to get sucked into a brilliant alternate reality where characters do amazing things alongside their friends; however, we can see that they go beyond that and have variation of their own. What was your favourite adventure anime of 2018? Drop a comment below and let us know exactly what you liked best about it!