Favorite Media of 2018

Yes, it’s finally that time of the year (see 201020112012201320142015, 2016, and 2017) when I take a look back at my favorite media from the past 12 months. As always, this is not a “best” list, but instead a survey of some of my favorite media that released in 2018 that I consumed over the past year. I don’t take in everything, so there’s absolutely tons of things that I haven’t gotten to experience yet that I might like even more than what I have listed here (and I might even make some updates over the coming weeks). The purpose in me doing this is to take some time to look back at the year, and remember all the great games, shows, movies, etc. that I really enjoyed. Each category is made up of an alphabetical top 5 (a “favorite 5” if you will), followed by a few honorable mentions.

Favorite Games
I think more than any other year, I had a bit more trouble putting this list together — and it has nothing to with the quality of releases this year. It’s in part because I didn’t play that many 2018 releases, which is partly explained by the fact that I got a PlayStation VR in the summer, and so spent a while playing a lot of older VR games on that platform. It also doesn’t help that Nintendo didn’t release much that I was particularly excited about this year. And of course, as always, there’s still loads I need to play. And where’s God of War? I really enjoyed it when I started playing it, but never got around to finishing it (got to about 10 hours), and I haven’t felt the urge to return and finish it — I think it’s a good game, but it just didn’t excite me as much as it did others. Also, I’m sure that if I would have played Yakuza Kiwami 2 it would be included, but after already playing Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and 6 this year, I wanted to take a break (but as you can tell, I love that series so much). Super Smash Brothers Ultimate makes my top 5 because I have so much fun bringing my Switch to work every day to play a few rounds with colleagues at the end of the day (I don’t particularly want to play it alone at home).

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4)
  • Dragon Quest XI (PS4)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (Switch)
  • Yakuza 6 (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: A Way Out (PS4), Far Cry 5 (PS4), Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (Switch), Hollow Knight (Switch), Into the Breach (Switch), Lightfingers (Switch), Magic: The Gathering Arena (PC), Onrush (PS4), Quarantine Circular (PC), Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4), Spider-Man (PS4), Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Switch), The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (PS4), Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)

Favorite Mobile Games
I don’t play a lot of mobile games these days, and it all happens on my iPad (except for Pocket-Run Pool, which I did play a lot on my phone), but I still had a lot of fun with these games. To be honest, my top game would be Gorogoa, but it officially released in mid-December of last year, so I don’t include it. For Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, I only played the first few chapters on mobile, but ended up buying it on Switch and continuing there.

  • Alto’s Odyssey
  • Donut County
  • Florence
  • Hidden My Game by Mom 3
  • Pocket-Run Pool

Honorable Mentions: Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, Reigns: GoT

Favorite Board Games
This is a new category, and the only one where I’ve decided to cheat a bit in terms of time of release. After getting rid of my entire card/board game collection when I left Japan, this is the year that I finally got back into playing regularly and building up a new collection. I feel like I didn’t buy enough games that were released in 2018 proper to just share that, so I’m sharing favorites that were released in 2017 as well. There’s tons more I’d like to play from this year though, and I expect them to hit my table in the coming months.

  • Breaking Bad: The Board Game
  • Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
  • Gloomhaven
  • The Quest for El Dorado
  • Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

Honorable Mentions: Deadwood 1876, Founders of Gloomhaven, Keyforge: Call of the Archons, Kingdomino: Age of Giants (expansion), Magic: The Gathering, The Legend of the Cherry Tree That Blossoms Every Ten Years

Favorite Movies
As with last year, with all of the old movie marathons I do, I tend not to spend that much time watching new movies, and so my list isn’t as fleshed out or exhaustive as it could be — going through what came out this year, I already have an incredibly long list of things I want to watch (and I expect I’m going to love Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse when I see it). But in terms of what I did watch that came out this year, here are my faves.

  • Mandy
  • Mary and the Witch’s Flower
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  • The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl

Honorable Mentions: Apostle, Annihilation, A Quiet Place, Batman NinjaBird Box, Black PantherDeadpool 2, Flavors of Youth, HalloweenHereditary, Incredibles 2Ready Player One, Sicario: Day of the SoldadoSolo: A Star Wars Story, Summer of 84, Teen Titans Go! to the MoviesWon’t You Be My Neighbor

Favorite Movies of the 1980s
Last year I watched a crazy amount of movies from the 80s (from 1985 to 1987), and so thought it would be fun to list top 5s for each of those years. This year, I only recently started marathoning films from 1988, but here are my 5 faves for the year.

  • Akira
  • Coming to America
  • Die Hard
  • Heathers
  • They Live

Favorite TV
I think my biggest discovery and love this year was the treasure trove of international crime dramas on Netflix (like The Break, The Chalet, The Forest, and Trapped, among others). Although not included in my top 5, they made up a lot of my favorite viewing this year, but I still enjoyed a lot of other things.

  • Cobra Kai
  • Everything Sucks
  • Jack Ryan
  • Killing Eve
  • The Terror

Honorable Mentions: Altered Carbon, Better Call Saul, Black Mirror: BandersnatchBodyguard, Castle Rock, GameCenter-CXGLOWHannah Gadsby: Nanette, Lost in Space, Norm Macdonald Has a ShowSaturday Night Live, Star Trek Discovery, The Break, The Chalet, The ForestThe End of the Fucking World, The Good Place, TrappedUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Westworld

Favorite Anime Series
I definitely watched less anime this year than last year, and it was pretty easy to come up with a top 5 — but these really are all series that I highly enjoyed.

  • Devilman Crybaby
  • High Score Girl
  • Ito Junji: Collection
  • Lupin III: Part V
  • The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These

Favorite Web Series
Not much changed since last year, I still enjoy the same series, although I’m now including the Nintendo-produced “Let’s Play” series featuring comedy duo Yoiko (GameCenter-CX‘s Arino and his partner, Hamaguchi).

Honorable Mentions: People Make GamesShut Up & Sit Down

Favorite Music
As the years go by, so does the reduction in new music that I end up spending a lot of time listening to, to a point where I have more trouble filling up this category. There is a lot that comes out that I enjoy, but I just listen to the albums a few times, and then never end up revisiting them, which makes it hard to say that they’re favorites. I do listen to music constantly (“no music, no life”), but it’s very eclectic, spans decades, and I’d say this year I’ve developed more of an obsession for classic jazz (hard bop). But here are albums that came out this year that I did really like.

  • Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (John Coltrane)
  • DJ-Kicks (Mount Kimbie)
  • Strangers in Dub (Burt Kaempfert Meets De-Phazz) (De-Phazz)
  • The Beatles (White Album) [Super Deluxe] (The Beatles)
  • The Pool (Instrumentals & Remixes) (Jazzanova)

Honorable Mentions: All Nerve (The Breeders), Do the Get Along (Holly Golightly), MassEducation (St. Vincent), Sparkle Hard (Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks), The Pool (Jazzanova), The Sunshine Beat, Vol. 1 (Tahiti 80), Time ‘n’ Place (Kero Kero Bonito), Woman Worldwide (Justice)

Favorite Comics
Each year I feel bad that I’m not reading more independents when it comes to English-language comics, but yeah, what I read regularly is the super-hero stuff. And this year again, the majority of my sequential art reading happened more on the French-language side, as I continue my weekly (sometimes more) visits to the library to pick up books new and old.

  • Action Comics/Superman
  • Batman
  • Doomsday Clock
  • Mister Miracle
  • The Green Lantern

Honorable Mentions: Dark Nights: MetalG.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, HawkmanHeroes in Crisis, Justice League (as well as Justice League Dark and Justice League Odyssey), The Punisher

Favorite BDs
As mentioned above, my comics love these days continues to be on the French side (bandes-dessinées), as I continue to catch up on releases, reading through series. So because of that, I’m not reading as many new releases as I normally would, but these are still all books that came out this year that I really enjoyed. (The series name is followed by the book’s title or number.)

  • CentaurusTerre d’angoisse
  • Il faut flinguer Ramirez – Acte 1
  • La jeunesse de ThorgaleLe drakkar des glaces
  • Retour sur Aldébaran – Épisode 1
  • Tyler CrossMiami

Honorable Mentions: Alix SenatorLa Puissance et l’Éternité, Amazonie – Épisode 3, CarthagoLéviathan, Journal d’Italie – Hong Kong 2 OsakaI.R.$Les seigneurs financiersMutations – Épisode 1

Favorite Podcasts
My list of podcasts has changed a bit this year, with my top 5 now including two new gaming-related shows I started listening to this year (Kinda Funny Games Daily and Kotaku Splitscreen). After skipping the second season of Serial, I quite enjoyed this year’s 3rd one. For Retronauts and What a Cartoon, these I don’t listen to regularly, but instead check for episodes with a topic I’m interested in. And I really do wish Noclip would release more episodes of its excellent podcast (just as good as its video documentaries).

  • 8-4 Play
  • All Songs Considered
  • Kinda Funny Games Daily
  • Kotaku Splitscreen
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour

Honorable Mentions: Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Monocle 24: The Stack, Noclip, On Margins, Retronauts, Serial, The AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook, What a Cartoon

Thrillin’ and Chillin’ in October

Over the past month I did something a bit different from the recent movie marathons I’ve been doing. Instead of focusing on a year or a particular creator, I did an all-out horror fest, mixing movies with TV series (I didn’t necessarily watch all of the episodes yet, but I did for most of them). With 27 titles, it made for the most intense October viewing experience I’ve probably ever had, and it was fun too — I can definitely see myself doing this again next year.

Below, a list of all the horror content I took in throughout the month — you can also find all the posts under the “October 2018” category.

  1. 1922
  2. Apostle
  3. Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 2)
  4. Bone Tomahawk
  5. Castlevania (Season 2)
  6. Channel Zero (Season 3)
  7. Down a Dark Hall
  8. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
  9. Ghoul
  10. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
  11. Hereditary
  12. Hold the Dark
  13. Into the Dark: The Body
  14. It Comes at Night
  15. Malevolent
  16. Oculus
  17. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
  18. Summer of ’84
  19. Terrifier
  20. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  21. The Endless
  22. The First Purge
  23. The Haunting of Hill House
  24. The Purge (TV series)
  25. The Purge: Election Year
  26. The Ritual
  27. Winchester

Fall 2017 Anime Season

Following a couple of seasons that left me with pretty much nothing I wanted to watch, I’m excited for the start of the fall anime season because there are a few things that I’m at least interested in checking out. Based on what I saw listed on AniChart, here’s what looks interesting to me.

Inuyashiki
I’m a big fan of the manga series (by the same creator as Gantz), and I’m quite excited to see it animated, as there’s potential for some fantastic visual sequences. The fact that it’s part of the Noitamina block is a good sign too, since most of the recent series I’ve enjoyed have come out of it.

Juuni Taisen
Something to do with 12 warriors fighting in a battle royale tournament. The trailer makes it look slick and action packed, so I’ll give it a try.

Garo – Vanishing Line
Don’t know much about this series, but the trailer makes it look pretty good animation-wise, and the description is intriguing enough. I’m at least curious enough to watch the first episode.

Houseki no Kuni
The descriptions sounds kinda insane — about a new kind of lifeform that is gem-like who fights moon dwellers — but the animation in the trailer is gorgeous, so that makes me want to give it a chance.

Infini-T Force
In celebration of Tatsunoko Productions’ 55th anniversary, this is a CG series that looks like it’s bringing together characters from G-Force (that I loved as a kid) and Casshern. I’ll give it a shot.

Sherlock Hound

I was in the mood to start watching another old anime series, and remembering how much I enjoyed watching Future Boy Conan last year, I dug up another old Hayao Miyazaki series in the form of Sherlock Hound (or Meitantei Holmes). Miyazaki only wrote/directed the first 6 episodes before moving on (because of issues with the Doyle estate that halted production for a while), but I’m looking forward to going through all 26 episodes. I just watched the first episode this morning, and it’s deliciously Miyazaki in style and tone.

Samurai Gourmet

This past Sunday I binged the entire season of Samurai Gourmet, a new series that was just added to Netflix. It’s a Japanese series that tells the story of a 60-year-old man who just entered retirement, and starts enjoying his post-work life through the lens of simple joys that he rediscovers, which pretty much all resolve around eating good food, while enjoying a good beer. I love this show to death — I think it’s because I’m completely going to be this guy at that point in my life (and I already tend to enjoy food the way he does). This is one of my new favorite series, and I really hope they make a second season.

Saturday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade

I was thinking this morning — Saturday morning, to be exact — how I missed the event nature of Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid. Sure, it’s awesome to have everything on demand now — I never watch anything that airs live these days, unless it’s something that’s newsworthy or event-like (like when I watched the Oscars recently) — but there was something special and exciting about waking up on Saturday mornings and getting to watch a bunch of cartoons, at a time when you didn’t have 24-hour cartoon networks, or even much airing at any other time (I think after school cartoons started being a thing more in the late 80s and 90s). So I’ve decided to create my own Saturday morning cartoon block — the “Saturday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade” — in which I’ll rotate 4-5 shows that I’ll watch as a block on Saturday mornings. I’m not including any anime, because those shows tend to be more adult-oriented and not really the kind of thing I want to watch first thing in the morning — and besides, anime was never part of the Saturday morning cartoon experience for me. My launch lineup is going to be comprised of the following series: Samurai Jack, Star Wars Rebels, Tangled (which debuts later this month, but the TV movie that aired last week was great), Trollhunters, and The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show. Join me!

Why Is Yasuharu Konishi’s Drama BGM Often Used in Variety Shows?

The title of this post is literally the name of the new compilation that brings together highlights from Yasuharu Konishi’s drama soundtrack work over the past decade — the joke is that it often ends up being used as background music in variety shows as well. I quite like the Debusen soundtrack he did last year (even though I’ve never watched the series), and so I imagine this is something I’d quite like too. You’ll find more details on the release in this post over at Tokyo’s Coolest Sound. Also of interest, this new compilation by DJ Hasebe, Butter Smooth – Tokyo 90’s Groove, which Patrick says is Shibuya-Kei centric.

Japan’s Game Preservation Society

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There’s a fascinating short documentary streaming on NHK World right now covering the work of Japan’s Game Preservation Society. Called “Game Preservation – The Quest,” it goes through all aspects of their work, from collecting, restoring, and also sharing — and it also has great animated pixelated sequences between sections, produced by Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya (Cave Story, Kero Blaster). Part of NHK World’s Inside Lens series, it will only be available online until December 11, so watch it while you can (the web stream didn’t work for me, but I watched it through the NHK World app on Apple TV). Found via Gamasutra.

Preview of 2017 Winter Anime

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Although I’m still pretty busy watching the series that I mentioned being interested in my 2016 fall anime post, I’m already curious and excited to see what’s coming up next. Thankfully, AniChart already has a pretty good look at what we can expect to see during the 2017 winter season, and here’s what I’m already thinking I’ll be checking out (based on what little info I have).

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ku
I’m pretty much just interested in this based on the overall art direction. It does sound like a neat political drama set in an alternate reality. Could be uninteresting, but I’ll check out the first episode.

Granblue Fantasy: The Animation
I’ve never played the uber popular mobile game this is based on, but I like the character art, and I’m curious to see what this is like. I don’t expect I’ll be watching a lot of it, but I’ll definitely be checking out the pilot.

Onihei
There’s very little info on this series — and especially no trailer or screenshots yet — but the description sounds interesting to me, of a historical drama set during the Edo period, following a main character who goes after robbers/arsonists.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
I’m still in the process of catching up on this series, watching the first season, and still really enjoying it. The second season that started in the fall continues over winter.

There are also three anime movies I’m interested to see: Gyakusatsu Kikan (Genocidal Organ), Hiruna Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari (a film Christophe Ferreira is involved in), and Lupin the Third: Chikemuri no Ichikawa Goemon.

Update: Here are my thoughts after watching the first 2 episodes of ACCA, Onihi Hankacho, and Granblue Fantasy The Animation.

Till He Dies

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If you’ve watched the excellent documentary about Studio Ghibli, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, then you already know that director Hayao Miyazaki isn’t the easiest of people to work with/for, and a recent NHK documentary shows that, well, he hasn’t changed much. This Kotaku article does a great job of sharing some of the highlights from the program, which also includes Miyazaki learning to use a computer for animation, and some talk on a new feature film he’d like to make.