Top 10 Shocking Anime of 2018

Most anime choose to take the safe and simple route to success. They choose characters, storylines, and art styles that don’t rock the boat, but have stood the test of time and won’t scare any potential audience members away. But sometimes, an anime takes the more difficult path and goes out of its way to bamboozle its viewers with something they’ve never seen before.

Today, we’re going to explore ten shows from the past year that shocked the anime community in one way or another. Whether the stunts worked in their favor or they ended up crashing and burning into a pile of terrible MAL ratings, these shows certainly made an impression on us. Let’s check out the Top 10 Shocking Anime of 2018!

-- Spoilers Ahead! --

10. Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 (Attack on Titan Season 3)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: July 2018 – October 2018

The first season of Attack on Titan left a lasting impression on viewers, cementing itself as an action-packed survival horror story with a bombastic soundtrack and larger-than-life characters. That said, for a show with such a unique setting, its worldbuilding left something to be desired.

That all changes in season 3, where we unearth the dirty secrets and corrupt dealings that have been silently going on behind the scenes this whole time. It’s shocking in the best kind of way since revelations like the hidden royal family and Levi’s upbringing with Kenny add to the richness of the world rather than contradicting it. And if you watched the special scene that glitched its way into episode 12’s credits, you know that part 2 of this season is going to get very real very fast.

9. Steins;Gate 0

  • Episodes: 23
  • Air Date: April 2018 – September 2018

The original Steins;Gate from 2011 was a unique exploration of time travel that showed how mad scientist Okabe struggled with which friends to save when presented with multiple contradictory timelines. Okabe took his responsibilities seriously, but he was still a gregarious and witty guy with a good sense of humor.

This sequel, on the other hand, puts him on the first suffer bus to Depressionville. We see our beloved Okabe as a husk of his former self, haunted by the death of his friend Kurisu. Because he meddled with the natural order of time, he feels responsible for her death and tries to atone for his sins by giving up his scientific experiments and closing himself off from others. He’s going to need lots of help from the rest of the cast to make it through this one.

8. Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: July 2018 – September 2018

Standard writing advice says that you should try to grab your audience’s attention in the first few moments of your storyline so that they’re intrigued enough to give the rest of it a chance. Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight takes this advice and runs with it so far that it’s practically in space by the end of its first episode.

We’ve got an all-female theater troupe reminiscent of the Takarazuka Revue, but they have secret auditions that are officiated by a talking giraffe and involve fighting with deadly weapons to secure a higher spot in the ranks. Girls are leaping twenty stories in the air, balancing on high-wire trapezes, shooting arrows at each other... what exactly are we watching!? You’ll just have to tune in for the rest of the series to find out!

7. Mahou Shoujo Site

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: April 2018 – June 2018

If you thought that Madoka Magica was the highest point of magical girl suffering, Mahou Shoujo Site begs to differ. In just the first episode, our poor protagonist Aya Asagiri is subjected to the full spectrum of despair, including but not limited to: bullying, domestic violence, suicidal thoughts, rape, and the murder of a stray cat she was looking after. When a magical pink gun suddenly appears in her locker at school, she finds herself entangled in a magical girl war that sprung up from a mysterious website that seems to grant supernatural powers.

If you can muscle past the shock value, you’ll find some intriguing messages about the struggles of young people living in a society that forces them to hide their true feelings. But since the shocking aspects are just there for their own sake, rather than to serve the story in any kind of meaningful way, it’s hard not to think of Mahou Shoujo Site as a flash in the pan.

6. Happy Sugar Life

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: July 2018 – September 2018

Don’t you just love cute little kids in anime? They’re so charming and sweet, and the adults just can’t help but pinch their cheeks and swear to protect them from harm. Well, Shio from Happy Sugar Life is just about as cute as they come, but her adult guardian is the farthest thing from protective.

Satou is a high school girl who looks sweet and loving, but she is actually a highly dangerous yandere behind closed doors. She keeps Shio trapped in her apartment and gaslights the girl into accepting her controlling and abusive behavior as normal. Anime can cover some very dark topics, but Satou’s attempts to brainwash a child she kidnapped into being her loyal plaything are just sickening.

5. Poputepipikku (Pop Team Epic)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: January 2018 – March 2018

Pop Team Epic is such a singularly strange entity that there’s nothing else to really compare it to. Its devotion to complete insanity is admirable, especially with the constantly changing voice actors for the main characters and the nightmarishly amateur Bob Epic Team segments. Taken as a whole, it’s a shock to the system for both viewers and the anime world itself.

One of our favorite jaw-droppingly bizarre moments is the “Hellshake Yano” segment, which plays out as a series of pencil drawings being manipulated by two live-action actors in lab coats. It goes on for just a little bit longer than feels comfortable... and then goes on for a bit longer than that... but that’s kind of the whole point. You don’t just sit down to watch Pop Team Epic–it’s a full body experience.

4. Devilman Crybaby

  • Episodes: 10
  • Air Date: January 2018

Go Nagai’s original Devilman manga was already pretty violent to begin with, but its 2018 Netflix remake Devilman Crybaby punches the adult content up to 11. And even though that sounds like an insult, it really isn’t. Masaaki Yuasa’s deranged art style and the anime’s heart-pounding synthwave soundtrack make the carnage seem all the more surreal, putting the viewer in the same rattled state of mind that Devilman Crybaby’s world is slowly succumbing to.

We get our first taste of this anime’s signature brand of insanity with the Sabbath party in episode 1. Demons take over and it’s up to the newly possessed Akira to save the remaining partygoers by tearing the demons limb from blood-gushing limb. Silhouetted against the sea of corpses, he flashes a wicked smile full of fanged teeth. Well, that’s an intro we won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

3. Banana Fish

  • Episodes: 24
  • Air Date: July 2018 – December 2018

“Shoujo” may technically be the correct genre for Banana Fish, since the manga was published in a shoujo magazine and features a homosexual relationship between the two leading male characters, but make no mistake; this anime is a hardcore gangster drama and it pulls no punches in portraying the ugly reality of one teenager’s life after he escapes from the mafia.

Ash Lynx has lived a life tainted by sex slavery and the torture/murder of his older brother, and now he’s become a murderous gang leader for the sake of protecting the few remaining people he truly cares about. Through this expertly written story, we get to see Ash grow from this maelstrom of misery into a stronger person, all because of a new kid named Eiji who loves him just the way he is.

2. Goblin Slayer

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: October 2018 – December 2018

JRPG-style fantasy anime has become such a popular genre that we seem to get four or five each season nowadays. And since most of them follow the same predictable script, it’s difficult for these kinds of shows to shock us with any kind of bold originality. Cue Goblin Slayer, the Fall 2018 anime that shows us what would really happen if a band of overconfident kids tried to slay monsters by themselves.

The goblin horde quickly overwhelms the adventuring group, raping and murdering all but the horrified priestess cowering in the corner. Then a mysterious and powerful man clad in heavy armor storms the cave and reduces the goblins to lunchmeat. The priestess decides to join the Goblin Slayer as her only hope of survival, and their monster-massacring mission begins.

1. Darling in the FranXX

  • Episodes: 24
  • Air Date: January 2018 – July 2018

Studio Trigger has truly outdone themselves with Darling in the FranXX. This anime takes the basic structure of an apocalyptic mecha show like Neon Genesis Evangelion and uses it as a jumping off point to explore themes of teenage love, sexual attraction, and identity through the medium of doggy-style robot controls.

As if that weren’t enough, the final few episodes shockingly reveal that a secret alien organization was behind everything and moves the battlefield to space for a final climactic battle. And then Zero-Two turns into a planet-sized robot, and she and Hiro wander through space forever... and there’s a wedding... Trigger, we love you, but there is such a thing as too many plot twists.

Final Thoughts

Whether shock value added to these stories or just made them more confusing, we’re glad that they chose to take the path less traveled. By defying expectations and inciting strong emotions in their audience, these anime have made their mark on the anime landscape. We hope to see more shocking twists in 2019!

What did you think of our list? Were you shocked by any of these anime? Do you think it added or detracted from the story? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!

Mahou-Shoujo-Site-dvd-499x500 Top 10 Shocking Anime of 2018


Author: Mary Lee Sauder

After the hard-hitting East Coast lifestyle hit me a bit too hard, I started pursuing my passion as a writer in my cozy home state of Ohio. Aside from that, I spend my time cooking, cosplaying, collecting anime merch, and being an improv comedy actor. I also love sneaking alliterations and stupid puns into my writing, so be on the lookout for them! 😉

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