So I said recently that I hate Best of the Year kind of conversations, so in response to that, I wanted to instead do something different to cap off the end of the year. So here is a list of things from various categories that I don’t necessarily think is the best thing this year, but my favourite things from 2018.
First off, games. Or at least the few I played this year that were released in 2018.
Destiny 2: Forsaken – Even though I’m now quite possibly never going to pick the game up again, Destiny 2’s equivalent to the first game’s The Taken King did indeed become just that, an expansion that took a game I was struggling to find a desire to play and, well…make me play it a bunch again. The expansion may have had its issues with me, the biggest one being that the level cap for the raid was too high for me to really get to (I still haven’t started Last Wish, may never at this point), I still definitely enjoyed my time with the expansion, regardless of whether or not it might just be the last piece of Destiny as a whole I ever play.
Far Cry 5 – I may have enjoyed my time with “Westboro Baptist Member Murder Simulator 2018” more than I should have. In the end, it ended up being the game that I played during a heavy down period in December and just ate up hours while I was in a party with my friends just shooting the shit. Just the pure joy in running around with a dog and a cougar just mowing down waves of religious crazies with an American flag wrapped spiked baseball bat, it couldn’t have been better for me. Well…not counting the absurd ending.
MLB The Show 18 – As I wrote earlier this year in an article, I’m still truly amazed the amount of time I spent with a baseball game this year and intend to do around March when the new game comes out. It became THE podcast game for me, a game that wasn’t too demanding of my attention, but had a lot of grinding and questing I could do to fill the completionist hole in my heart, whilst also taking in a ton of audio content with the various podcasts I listen to on a regular basis.
Monster Hunter: World – I was so happy that this game ended up being more than I ever could have asked for. I took a real risk purchasing this game, as I’m not usually all that keen on games that can be quite difficult both to play and to learn. In fact, the first time I tried playing it, I ended up dropping it around Anjanath, because it was indeed too hard and all my friends were so far ahead, they weren’t really willing to help me catch up, as it would slow down their own progress. So I ended up putting it down, tried to get through Mass Effect: Andromeda (what a mistake that was) and then eventually came back. It not only became a great game for me, but quite possibly my favourite game that I played that was released this year. The game is rewarding, has a beautiful universe and has the single best cutscenes in the game. Yes, I’m talking about the Palico cooking scenes.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – I’m sure this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to people, after all it’s Game of the Year on a lot of people’s lists. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s the greatest thing from this year, but it was certainly worth the price of admission. While it starts slow and has a less than stellar path to the very end, the bulk of the game is a testament to how far we’ve come as an industry. The game is pure console polish, quite frankly one of the best made console games ever in terms of technical aspects. There’s something in this game for everyone.
Tacoma – I really enjoyed my time with their last game in Gone Home, so I was excited to finally get a chance to play their space station story. It was certainly a lot more stressful than I expected and yes, they do continue to play the lesbian angle in their games, but while a lot of anti-SJW types took the opportunity to take a shot at this game, I think they were too quick to jump at it. This game (if you want to call it that, it’s certainly up for debate) has a really intriguing story with some characters that are indeed interesting. I just wish they’d make a game where I actually see the fucking characters, what is it with all these interactive novel games that show no one’s faces?! I’m looking right at you, Firewatch.
The Jackbox Party Pack 5 – I don’t know if I’ll ever stop loving these party packs, but for a moment I wasn’t sure I’d find one that could eclipse the second and third editions. But this newest game has at the very least brought out the best game that Jackbox has ever released: Patently Stupid, a game where you draw inventions and present them Powerpoint style to your friends. That game has made me and my friends laugh hard than we ever have before.
Second up, is anime. And no, anime boobs and butts do not count as single items, as much as I want them to.
Amanchu! Advance – Very few shows this year that I watched a second or third season of this year really carried the same level of quality or more than the previous season. Amanchu’s second season really gave me a double dose of the comedy, drama and overwhelmingly ridiculous facial expressions that I loved the first time around. Add another great character in Kokoro, and the show got much better.
A Place Further Than The Universe – I don’t watch a lot of shows that I know will make me emotional, I try to stay away from those. But Yorimoi had that charm that I couldn’t ignore, even with the full knowledge that the show was going to do everything in its power to make me cry. And it pretty much succeeded towards the very end when one character ultimately finds something belonging to their mother in Antarctica where she died. It was a moment that took a long time to get to and carried the emotional weight all the way through. So many shows try to get you tearing up early, this one bided its time and succeeded.
Chio’s School Road – During a year where there just weren’t shows that were just plain ol’ funny, this show came out of nowhere with its absurd, Azumanga Daioh level humour, just killing my insides from excessive laughter and hurting my cheeks from too much grinning. Take into account that quite possibly my favourite moment all year in the Mananachio dance took place in this show, it’s hard not to say good things about it.
Comic Girls – This show was exactly what I needed when it came around. A good ol’ slice of life with cute girls, doing cute things and making me smile way too goddamn much. Couple that with Fuura-sensei, my favourite female character all year and you’ve got a show that (at least until Episode 11) was capable of pulling me out of the most depressing times I experienced during that season.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – Having literally just finished this show the day before I’m writing this out, I still can’t believe that when I started watching this show, I got a Monogatari level show instead of the harem anime I was expecting, not that I would’ve minded. But instead I got another show that eventually made me tear up, a show that really resonated with me on several occasions, taking normal high school problems and making them into something supernatural. Mystery with relatability, it worked phenomenally well.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime – I’m a sucker for isekai anime, I really am. No show did it better this year than Tensura and it’s still going on as we speak, another 12 episodes to go through the winter to watch. It’s truly amazing thinking that a show that technically has zero human characters has been such a treat to watch, filled to the brim with great characters and a story that is easy to follow and yet still rewarding. Just can’t get over the Shizu angle though, that was tough.
Yuru Camp – I don’t know if a show has made me smile and relax me as much as this show did. Flying Witch is pretty damn close, maybe these two shows are at equal footing, but Yuru Camp certainly has the recency effect going on here. If there was ever an anime I could suggest to you as your meditation anime, a show that will soothe your heart and soul, this is the one. Girls camping and smiling all the way through. It just warms you up.
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs – I’m a sucker for a good ol’ traditional harem anime. It’s pretty hard to find a good harem though, so many try, but so many fail from being a little too shallow, or trying a little too hard to be serious so they don’t piss off all the sensible people. This show gave zero fucks, it knew it wanted to be a silly harem anime and it went and did just that. You gotta give them props for sticking to their guns and not trying to haphazardly throw in more serious stuff to make them seem more legit, nope! Just over-the-top ecchi and comedy, nothing more, nothing less.
Next we’ve got films. And yes, there’s a bit of a pattern with the majority of them being Marvel films. I don’t hide my biases very well, you see.
Ant-Man and the Wasp – Can never go wrong with a decent action comedy in the MCU. Loved the first Ant-Man, enjoyed this one even more. More characters, higher stakes, a villain I actually took an interest in, and a giant Hello Kitty Pez dispenser. What else can you really ask for? Oh yeah, I suppose a massive post-credits scene works.
Avengers: Infinity War – I don’t think I truly understood how much this film actually meant until it was over. A culmination of over a decade of films I’ve taken the time to see and have fond memories of, and now it’s about to come to a close (well, for a number of characters). Sure, this is only the halfway mark, but man oh man did this film end on a note that had me truly realize that this wasn’t going to be a nice ride into the sunset, oh no, this was going to be an emotional roller coaster. So yeah, still impatiently waiting for the finale.
Black Panther – Admittedly, the sheer amount of bickering back and forth between the SJW and anti-SJW crowds really made it hard for me to get into this movie before actually seeing it. While I feel it’s a joke that this film is the top of Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic when it comes to Marvel films (cause y’know, politics), it’s still a great film that I had a lot of fun with at the time of watching it. It certainly gave me a villain I loved, a really strong supporting cast and some awesome sci-fi battles. It’s just a shame that politics and societal views had to skew my feelings about the film as a whole.
Bohemian Rhapsody – I really wasn’t sure what to think about a film designed to be a biopic about Queen, hell, any big rock band for that matter. I mean sure, there’s a lot of road stories and such that could be used, but would the care be there, or would it just be a cash grab? In the case of Bohemian Rhapsody, the care was certainly there. It wasn’t a movie that tried to bash you over the head with Freddie being gay, it wasn’t a movie focusing on his battle with AIDS, it was a movie about Queen as a whole. And I mean come on, that Live Aid scene was one of the coolest things I’ve watched in a long time.
Deadpool 2 – Between my friends, it’s a tough topic, because I vehemently state over and over that the second Deadpool is the funnier film and I stand by that. Is it better than the first? No, it suffers from weak villains and a meh story. But it’s a fucking Deadpool movie, so I wasn’t there for that. It was a constant gut-busting laughfest, full of offensive jokes, references, bathroom humor and constant fourth-wall breaking and pulling the rug out from under you. That’s what I watch Deadpool for and it gave that to me in spades.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – It’s funny because I never really watched Mister Rogers growing up. But this was a documentary I needed to see, as my interest in what made this man do the show for as long as he did, when most children’s shows are lucky to last 5 years, I needed to know. And I got beyond and then some of information on the show and the man, Fred Rogers. I had no idea the level care, love and dedication he put into that show, how he so delicately took real life subjects, serious ones, like Robert Kennedy’s assassination and was able to communicate these issues to children in a way that could be understood, it was absolutely incredible to me. I could suggest all the fun Marvel films I liked this year, but to be completely honest, if there’s one thing from this year I’d want you all to watch, it’s this documentary. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
Now I planned on doing a section on music, but after thinking about it for a while, I honestly can’t really do this topic justice. I don’t really adopt new acts to a massive degree anymore, as BABYMETAL is really the last act to get my attention to the point of listening to everything they have. Album-wise, I don’t really listen to full albums anymore, I just pick and choose songs that I enjoy while skimming on Spotify. And concert-wise? Well…I didn’t see any this year. So I really don’t have anything to give a massive thumbs up to this year. So instead, I’ll just give you a list of bands/artists that I listened to the most this year:
- GameChops (a collection of artists who do EDM covers of game music)
- MAN WITH A MISSION
- MYTH & ROID
- THE ORAL CIGARETTES
- Saint Asonia
- Twelve Foot Ninja
Side note…what the fuck is it with Japan and having so many acts named in all caps?!
And lastly, just a list of things that happened in general that I felt was really cool, whether I’ve mentioned it here or not yet. This is anything and everything, whether news stories, events, or things I did in general.
Alex Ovechkin Hoisting the Stanley Cup – I’m Canadian, so I’m a hockey fan by law. I love great hockey stories and you’ll always find them in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, but there’s always stories outside of that bubble I’m paying attention to. The biggest one for years was the Alex Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby debate. I couldn’t stand listening to my friends tell me Crosby was automatically the best because of championships (cause y’know, it’s a TEAM sport), but with Ovechkin not winning one of his own, what argument did I have? So for the 2018 Stanley Cup to go to the Washington Capitals, it was a hell of an emotional moment to see Ovechkin scream at the top of his lungs as he finally achieved the one goal he fought so hard every year for. It certainly helped that the music playing in the background was timed so perfectly. God damn I still get emotional watching that clip.
ConBravo! – A local anime/gaming convention I go to every year. This year marked my 5th year going and my 4th year participating in panels at the convention. I tend to run general discussions panels, getting to do a 2018 gaming panel with my friends and this year we also got to do our first pro wrestling panel, which was awesome, but a shame cause while there seemed to be a lot of interest, few people actually showed up, so we’ll likely never get to do that again (oh well, I got t-shirts for the memories!!!). But the biggest thing was running my yearly anime discussion panel, getting to do it with YouTubers Glass Reflection and Anime Uproar. Had a blast talking about anime with them and the fans who showed up, especially when I got to have a massive high-five moment with a fellow Isekai no Smartphone fan before the big YouTubers themselves shamed me off the panel (for 30 seconds). Might just be my favourite moment in a panel I’ve run at conventions.
Softball – This one was a hell of a moment for me this year. I’ve played regularly every year for the last 4 years, rec league softball. I’m usually on teams that are really bad, but I still have fun. This year was no different, I played on a team with co-workers and we finished the season 4-13. So when it came to the end of the season tournament, we were obviously in the last place seed and expected to lose pretty quickly. Except a funny thing happened, we won our first game to determine where we sat in the bracket, so we didn’t immediately play the best team at the start. Either way, we all looked at the bracket and realized that in order to win the championship, we had to beat in succession the three teams we’d never beaten all year.
The first team we’d always lose to, but it was close. And that game was an epic back and forth. We won the game by one run, awesome. Admittedly, I was disappointed, I wanted to lose so we could go home earlier, as the tournament started at 8:30 in the morning and it was a cold, rainy day. But we were in the thick of it now. The next team we played was the best team in the league, we never came close to beating them. So imagine our shock when we won by 7 runs. We’d never lost to them by less than 5 runs, and we just beat them by 7. Holy shit, we were in the finals. A 4-13 team in the finals?! Insane!
Now this had happened to me before, I played in a different league, our team went basically .500, winning half, losing half. We beat a team we normally lost to and got into the finals, but then we got smacked hard and lost. But there was an upside for us in this tournament final, since we went through the entire bracket undefeated (somehow), we had to lose to this final team twice in order to lose the championship. This team, like the previous one, we’d never come close to, they had guys who were way too good for this league, hitting home runs over the fence with ease. But I guess a mixture of fatigue and the weather had bummed them out, seemed they wanted to go home really bad, but we were so focused on going all the way now since we’d come this far, we were playing for keeps. And it was back and forth, back and forth until the final inning where we put together 6 runs and went up by five. As each out came, I kept thinking “All right, how do we fuck this up?”. But it never happened. No runs, no worries, we got three straight outs and we won the fucking championship.
If there is anything that meant more to me this year, it was this moment. The flood of childhood happiness that came out of me, man. I hadn’t won a championship in anything since I was 10 playing baseball in my small, countryside village. 20 years later, I’m holding a trophy again. It’s a weird feeling. But that weirdness went away pretty damn quick!
Steve Dangle Podcast LIVE – Like I said earlier, I’m a big hockey fan and a group on YouTube are my go-to for hockey-related stuff. Fronted by personality Steve Dangle, along with Adam Wylde and Jesse Blake, the Steve Dangle Podcast did a rare live event in a bar near the arena where a Toronto Maple Leafs game would be playing, so they did a show before the game and then it was party time while the game was going on. The show was fun, but meeting the gang in person was such a cool moment for me, as Steve specifically has been a major inspiration in keeping me going as an internet personality. And the Leafs won too, so that was an added bonus!
Thailand Cave Rescue – That was just the ultimate feel-good story for me. Something that you just assumed was going to end horribly, ended basically as positively as it could, minus the one rescuer who died during the process. But for everyone who was trapped in that cave to survive was an absolute miracle, quite possibly THE miracle this year. Was such a smile-inducing moment when it came to a close.
Tide Pods – I got way too much joy out of this entire ridiculousness. The memes, the “Don’t do this!” commercials, the sheer amount of videos and news stories about it, that stretch of time where you couldn’t stop hearing stories about the newfound laundry candy, I was on cloud fucking nine, dying of laughter. It was just so dumb…
Video Games Live! – So I kinda lied about not going to any concerts this year, because I totally forgot about this until going through my Facebook posts this year. What an incredible show that was, I’d never gotten a chance to see this show before and boy oh boy did I have a blast. At first, I thought it was going to be a meh show as a lot of stuff was either old games or newer stuff like Overwatch and WoW expansions that I really didn’t care much for. Then they broke out Kingdom Hearts with “Dearly Beloved” and then followed it up with Chrono Cross’ “Time’s Scar”. Those 6-8 minutes were perhaps the most blissful minutes all year for me, I’ve never felt so relaxed and happy. Then finishing it off with the Pokemon anime intro with Jason Paige (the original theme’s vocalist) was the best way to cap off what ended up being a great show.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s all I can think of from this year! At least that I can remember, I really need to start archiving things more so I don’t have to rely on my shit memory.
So what were some cool things that you enjoyed this year? Let me know in the comments below!