From comedy to superheroes to post-apocalyptic shows, this year has been great for anime fans. However, what gained the most traction online with fans was creating fantasy pairings between two characters in their favorite series, a practice commonly known as shipping. Often the characters within these fictional romantic pairings never take it to the next level, but that doesn’t stop the fandom from rooting for them. So, before 2019 gives us new hopeless pairings to obsess over, let’s take a look back at the seven best anime ships of 2018.
Katsuki Bakugo and Shoto Todoroki (My Hero Academia)
My Hero Academia takes place in a world where 80% of the population has superpowers, or Quirks. Teenagers who want to become heroes must complete an intense training program, such as the one offered at U.A. High School. The prestigious school accepts students from across Japan so they can learn from the world’s best heroes — Katsuki Bakugo and Shoto Todoroki are two such students.
On the surface, it might be hard to see why fans ship Todoroki and Bakugo. Bakugo’s arrogant, explosive nature clashes with Todoroki’s aloof personality and makes him difficult to be around. As you can imagine, their common goal — to be the number one hero — brings these issues to the forefront, making it difficult for the pair to work together.
So, when the unlikely duo ended up as partners during the Quirk Training Camp’s test of courage, MHA fans were pleased to finally see the pair get along. They even let their guards down around one another, with both of them shaking with fear as they walked through the woods. But it was during the Provisional Hero License Exam that their relationship took a huge step forward when Bakugo sympathized with Todoroki’s feelings about his tragic past, proving he does have a sensitive side and giving us hope this ship will take sail someday.
White Blood Cell and Red Blood Cell (Cells at Work!)
Cells at Work, basically an anime version of Osmosis Jones, premiered this summer, and the internet went wild over its two main characters, White Blood Cell, aka U-1146, and Red Blood Cell, aka AE3803. The anime takes place inside a human body and follows the countless little characters that keep our bodies healthy. AE3803 spends her days rushing to get her deliveries finished, unaware of the many dangers await her. Luckily, she’s not alone. There are trillions of cells willing to help her out, including White Blood Cell, U-1146.
The two blood cells met when they were young. As a myelocyte, U-1146 saved AE3803 from a dangerous bacterium and protected her until help arrived. After the adult cells killed the threat, the young cells promised to meet each other again as grownups. Unfortunately, U-1146 doesn’t remember the girl he saved back then, but his protectiveness over AE3803 remains intact. He even assists her during her deliveries by killing any bacteria that gets in AE3803’s way.
Mikasa Ackermann and Captain Levi (Attack on Titan)
With characters dying left and right in Attack on Titan, it’s difficult for fans to make ships. Luckily, there’s Mikasa Ackermann and Captain Levi, the two strongest soldiers in the Survey Corps. But their strength isn’t the only thing they have in common.
Their shared hatred of the Titans (and several humans) has made working together a breeze; they’ve even formed a friendship. Often seen fighting off Titans and protecting the rest of the squad, Mikasa and Levi also share a bloodline that solves some of the anime’s greatest mysteries.
Season 3 saw the strength of the duo’s partnership on full display as they — along with the Survey Corps — attacked the Reiss family‘s Underground Chapel to rescue Eren. While Levi duked it out with Kenny, Mikasa lent her support by cutting down Kenny’s minions. They were so in sync they took down their targets in no time. It’s no wonder fans refer to Mikasa and Levi as s Humanity’s Strongest Pair.
So far there haven’t been any romantic undertones to Mikasa and Captain Levi’s relationship, but fans continue to ship the two. Even going so far as to create a fan-based fictional canon where they’re a couple, RivaMika. While chances are slim for this ship to officially become canon, it’s undeniable that their background will play an essential role in the future.
Zack Foster and Rachel Gardner (Angels of Death)
Angels of Death follows Rachel, a young girl who finds herself trapped in the basement of a building. Having no idea how she got there, Rachel looks around for clues of her whereabouts and comes across Zack, a bandage-covered man wielding a scythe. Zack first inclination is to kill Rachel, but he quickly loses interest and instead becomes her friend. Now the pair must find a way out of the building before they’re killed.
Never has an anime serial killer captured the hearts of fans as easily as Zack. He goes from a ruthless murderer to Rachel’s friends — and becomes our white knight. Rachel’s intelligence was what initially attracted Zack; her quick thinking has helped them survive several traps. But Rachel also views Zack as a human being, not a serial killer. It’s why Zack protects her from other criminals, even going so far as to risk his life — well, that and the need to keep his oath to kill her.
Rintaro Okabe and Kurisu Makise (Steins;Gate 0)
The time-traveling series Steins;Gate returned this year, but, instead of a continuation, Steins;Gate 0 explores what happened before the original’s final episode. The series follows mad scientist Rintarou Okabe, the unexpected inventor of the Phone Microwave, a mobile device that sends history-altering emails to the past. Naturally, this leads to Okage visit Akihabara Radio Hall to give a lecture on time travel, which serves as the perfect opportunity for actual scientist Kurisu Makise to challenge Okabe’s pseudoscience. The heated debate that follows ignites a romantic spark between them.
Kurisu and Okabe disagree on many topics but become friends anyway, with Kurisu providing Okabe emotional support. But Okabe just can’t help but meddle with the timeline. Okabe’s tampering erases Kurisu’s memories, including her feelings for him, and leaves their love one-sided. Despite this, Kurisu still has a subconscious connection with Okabe — thanks to their heated exchanges and the passionate kiss shared. Even with the confusing time travel elements, murders, and emotional rollercoaster rides, Okabe and Kurisu are one of the best ships of 2018.
Ash Lynx and Eiji Okumura (Banana Fish)
The unexpected shōjo hit Banana Fish not only features a queer relationship at its core, it also has one of the best ships of 2018. Taking place on the rough streets of New York, Banana Fish follows Ash Lynx who, despite his handsome exterior, is a ruthless killer.
But why wouldn’t he be? Raised as the adopted heir and sex toy of one of the most dangerous mafia bosses, Ash quickly learned the ropes of the business and became a gangster. But when he meets Eiji Okumura, a 19-year-old Japanese college student reporting on street gangs, Ash finally experiences love.
Throughout the series, Eiji gets into trouble with several gang members. Fortunately, Ash, who has taken a liking to the college student, saves him every time. Their relationship blossoms, and Eiji insists on assisting Ash in uncovering the mysteries of the banana fish drug.
The countless dangers they face during their travels deepen their friendship — with each willing to die to protect the other. Not only that, Eiji’s innocence and honesty sparks a change in the aggressive Ash, changing his feelings towards life and giving him a new purpose: to be with and protect Eiji. We can only hope their label-transcending relationship will open the door to similar stories in shōjo anime in the future.
Sōma Yukihira and Erina Nakiri (Food Wars! The Third Plate)
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma follows Sōma Yukihira as he battles other culinary students on his quest to rise to the top of Tōtsuki Culinary Academy. Rival student chefs engage in action-packed food battles that’ll make you want to jump through your screen and taste what’s on the menu. But one of the school’s most intense rivalries is between Sōma and top-student Erina Nakiri.
Renowned for her “God’s Tongue,” Erina views herself as superior to all of her classmates and often looks down on Sōma due to his diner background. Surprisingly, Sōma doesn’t dislike Erina — he just wants her to admit that his food is good. But when Erina loses her way, it’s Sōma who helps her remember her initial goal as a chef, leading the former rivals to become friends and each other’s support system.
In the latest season, we finally got to see Erina get flustered around Sōma — and get jealous of the other female characters who got close to him. The romantic feelings are there, but between how dense Sōma is and Erina’s stubbornness, fans decided to ship them just in case this never takes off.