Another season is in the books, and now it is time I do my usual quarterly Winners and Losers segment. 2018 brought big changes to the anime industry in ways that has never been seen before, both good and bad. On the good side, Anime Strike is no more as their double paywall is no more, and the money saved there can be used to get a HIDIVE subscription that will remain at $4 a month through April 2020 for those who sign up before Monday. And then Netflix is increasing their presence with the influx of Netflix Originals that don't even air on TV, complete with dubs for each of those shows. On the flipside, Netflix refuses to do simulcasts outside Japan, and hey even did it everywhere outside the US for one of their shows that was ready to go. But in any case, the lineup has gotten bigger and bigger as it used to be that anime was having a hard time trying to survive. Now, the industry is thriving.

WINNER: Crunchyroll
No question that Crunchyroll owned the season as thanks to the end of Anime Strike, Sentai couldn't license as much stuff as in the past while Amazon is reduced to having their Noitamina show, their two Animeism shows, and one or two others. Netflix is now their biggest competition, and even so their catalog is significantly bigger. In any case, they snapped up most of the great shows this season with A Place Further Than the Universe, Laid-Back Camp, Darling in the FranXX, and the continuing shows in March Comes in Like a Lion (on Aniplex's behalf) and Ancient Magus' Bride. Never have things been better for Crunchyroll ever since they partnered up with Funimation.

WINNER: Funimation
And on that note, Funimation continues to be strong themselves with a huge simuldub lineup and some of them being among the best shows of the season. About the only thing wrong here is their choice of simuldubs as they opted to bypass simuldubs for A Place Further Than the Univers and Laid-Back Camp in favor of show like Citrus, Junji Ito Collection, and Pop Team Epic (and the last one was especially mind-blowing one since Sentai was supposed to have the license to that show). In any case, Funimation did a great job with their simuldubs having fully adapted to the process to handle that many shows a season.

LOSER: Amazon
After a year-long experiment into the poorly thought-out anime streaming service called Anime Strike, Amazon wised up and pulled the plug on this channel, freeing all American anime fans of the dreaded double paywall and giving them the same service as the rest of the world outside Japan gets. This was motivated by Amazon's poor performance with their Prime Video service and with Anime Strike one of the poorly performing channels that the decision was made to put an end to it. Pretty much, the writing was on the wall that Anime Strike wouldn't last like this when it prices out the ones most likely to subscribe to it. Now that Anime Strike is no more that their only exclusives are titles that are picked up by the Japanese branch for exclusive rights worldwide. Moving forward, they will have at least three such shows every season with their Noitamina deal and the two Animeism shows, but it won't be the big catalog that they had when they had a partnership with Sentai. This season, Amazon's catalog consists of After the Rain, Beatless, Killing Bites, and Kokkoku, and while After the Rain is great and Kokkoku is pretty solid, the two Animeism shows were busts.

LOSER: Sentai
With the end of Anime Strike, Sentai is now running on scraps as their biggest financial backer is no longer helping them pay for licenses. They had 8-10 shows a season with Amazon paying off the majority of the licensing fees during the last three seasons, but with that dried up Sentai has only six shows with none of them having high profiles. They have Hakumei and Mikochi, Mitsuboshi Colors, Dame x Prince, Takunomi, Pop Team Epic, and Seven Heavenly Virtues, and not to mention Pop Team Epic is a shared license with Funimation apparently having the home video rights having done a simuldub for that show, while Seven Heavenly Virtues is a five minute short and Takunomi is a half-length show. Tough times are ahead for Sentai as they are scrambling to fill the void left by the end of Anime Strike, but on the bright side they are due for a huge increase in their HIDIVE subscription as the money previously used for Anime Strike can be used on a HIDIVE subscription instead.

WINNER: Netflix
This was a huge season for Netflix as not only is their catalog expanding by leaps and bounds, but they are also on the production committed for a number of shows. This season's catalog for them consists of Violet Evergarden, Fate/Extra, Seven Deadly Sins: Revival of the Commandments, and (at this time it remains unclear if they have it or not, but the lack of a simuldub is a strong indication) The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. season 2. Violet Evergarden is one of the most anticipated shows of the season, and unfortunately the Americans got shut out of it until the spring even though the dub is ready to go and the rest of the world is getting it. And their catalog from previous seasons are finally uploaded as Kakegurui, Children of the Whales, and the second half of Fate/Apocrypha have arrived. And then there are four shows Netflix is on the production committee for in Devilman Crybaby, B: The Beginning, A.I.C.O. Incarnation, and Sword Gai as unlike the other Netflix Originals, these shows are not getting a TV broadcast and they are released all at once on premiere day. Quite a huge season it was for Netflix, but much to the chagrin of those who want to watch everything as they air because they still refuse to do simulcasts outside of Japan. While the production is a reasonable excuse for not doing simulcasts, that's not the case with Violet Evergarden.

LOSER: Aniplex of America
Aniplex of America has been losing their leverage when it comes to licensing as they have a philosophy of wide exposure. The ball got rolling during the past spring when Re:Creators and Saekano Flat ended up exclusively with Amazon, and now it has reached a new low with Darling in the FranXX being snapped up by Funimation seeing that Aniplex of Japan had been steadfast in regards to giving their licenses to anybody else as indicated with the refusal to allow Funimation to renew licenses for their shows. And their other show that they haven't licensed is Fate/Extra, which is a Netflix exclusive show. They should be licensing it in due time, but for now it's not on the table. As for their licenses this season, they have Record of Grancrest War and Slow Start, both disappointing shows, with Grancrest being one of the season's biggest disappointments.

WINNER: Madhouse
Last year, Madhouse had only one anime show premiering in 2017 in ACCA: 13-Territories Inspection Dept, and that was in the winter season before going without a show the rest of the year. This season, they came back in full force producing three of the season's best shows in A Place Further Than the Universe, Overlord II, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. All three of them hit it out of the park against expectations going to show just how much of a powerhouse this studio has been. No question they are big winners this season.

Wit is a small studio, so understandably so they haven't put out many anime shows. But things are changing as this season, they put out two shows as The Ancient Magus' Bride continues, while their other show is After the Rain, which is a beautifully done romance. With Ancient Magus' Bride, that show had the perfect animation style to go along with the rich storytelling, while with After the Rain the animation made a huge difference as it's one of those rare shows where the artwork does most of the talking rather than the dialogue. Hats off to Wit for their wit.

LOSER: Gokumi
Gokumi isn't known for being a heavy hitter when it comes to anime studios as their art style just feels too subdued compared to the likes of the big boys. That said, this season they produced two shows and they are both stinkers. There's Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, which is decent for those who love the cute girls doing cute things kind of shows, but it's repetitive and ultimately not worthwhile beyond the first few episodes. And then there's Toji no Miko that was a huge disappointment with flat storytelling, numerous cliches, and plot holes. They can't all be winners, but the least they could do is make something worthwhile like they did with Yuki Yuna and Tsuredure Children. Nevertheless, this was a very underwhelming season for them.

LOSER: Hoods Entertainment
There are studios that will have good seasons, and studios that will have bad seasons. And then there's Hoods Entertainment that did a poor job on their show of the season in Marchen Madchen. It ended up getting delayed due to the guys there not getting their acts together, and the end result is that the show's final two episodes ended up getting pushed back. At least other bad shows from lesser studios get their stuff out on time, but Hoods dropped the ball.

WINNER: Cute Girls Doing Cute Things Lovers
This season had an unusually large number of shows involving cute girls doing cute things. This season featured A Place Further Than the Universe, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, Laid-Back Camp, Slow Start, Mitsuboshi Colors, Toji no Miko, The Ryuo's Work is Never Done, and Takunomi (alright, I'm kind of stretching it with the last three, but the point is there were lots of these kinds of shows, more than a season usually carries). If you were in the mood for some cuteness and sugary sensation, this season had a lot, and then some.

WINNER: Slice of Life Shows
While the majority of shows every season are slice of lifes, this season it was particularly more prominent. So running off the list, there's A Place Further Than the Universe, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, Laid-Back Camp, Sanrio Boys, Citrus, Slow Start, Idolish7, Mitsuboshi Colors, School Babysitters, Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru season 2, The Ryuo's Work is Never Done, Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san, Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line, After the Rain, How to Keep a Mummy, Dagashi Kashi 2, Takunomi, and The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. season 2, that to go along with the continuing shows in March Comes in Like a Lion season 2. Pretty much, they owned the season, more so this time around.

LOSER: Shorts
Shorts have been a prominent part of the seasonal lineup, but for the most part they were in short supply this season. The only shorts that actually got streamed are Mitchiri Neko and Working Buddies, and both aren't exactly traditional anime shorts. And the only other shows that streamed that are less than full length are the half-length shows Dagashi Kashi 2 and Takunomi as TBS opted to fill its second time slot with two half-length shows this season. It's a bummer that there weren't many of these kinds of shows, but it is what it is.

This season, NHK had three shows in Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card and the continuing shows in March Comes in Like a Lion and Classicaloid. March Comes in Like a Lion and CCS instantly puts them in the winners circle seeing that in previous seasons, they have had at most two shows.

This is by far the weakest lineup for MBS shows in quite a long time. They only premiere anime on Fridays and Saturdays ever since doing away with their Sunday Nichigo block a year ago, and this season they only premiered their two Animeism shows in Beatless and Killing Bites, and suffice to say this is their worst Animeism lineup in quite a long time. And Saturdays consists of three shows that aired earlier on Tokyo MX, so not much going for them on that station.

WINNER: Saturdays
For the umpteenth time, Saturdays own the season, and this season continues to carry the momentum from the fall season's Saturday lineup. Ancient Magus' Bride and March Comes in Like a Lion continue, while Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card and Darling in the FranXX are new, and then there are the kids shows and the long series as well. Other shows that aired this day are Classicaloid season 2, Takunomi, Sanrio Boys, Citrus, Slow Start, Silver Guardian 2, Spiripact season 2, and Pop Team Epic. To sum things up, Saturdays continue to be loaded, and for good reason as that's the most watch night of TV.

WINNER: Thursdays
The past two seasons were just flat-out brutal for the Thursday lineup, and a big reason for that is because Tokyo MX had only one premiere that day and the two other time slots were filled with delaycasts having aired earlier in the week on AT-X. That left the day with only three shows with the Noitamina block show (Dive!! for summer and Inuyashiki for fall), the one premiere on Tokyo MX (Gamers!! for summer and Just Because! for fall), and one other show on another network (Convenience Store Boyfriends on TBS for summer, one of the few times TBS didn't enforce their delaycast policy, and King's Game on AT-X for fall). This season, things are much different as not only are there now four shows on Tokyo MX, but all of them are premieres. The four shows are Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, Laid-Back Camp, Marchen Madchen, and Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody. The rest of the lineup consists of After the Rain and How to Keep a Mummy. So from the last two seasons, the Thursday lineup has doubled, but above all it has two of the season's best shows in Laid-Back Camp and After the Rain. The rest of the lineup didn't amount to much, but it's the fact that it's getting more shows than it has in the past that makes it a great day. That continues into the spring as the Thursday Tokyo MX lineup has four premieres once again with Tada Never Falls in Love, Comic Girls, Hisone and Masotan, and Doreiku.

LOSER: Wednesdays
The Wednesday lineup was just awful this season. The only new show that's being simulcasted anywhere on Wednesdays was Dame x Prince Anime Caravan, which goes to show how bad it was. Normally it has at least three shows, but circumstances left it with just DamePri. The only other new show is Violet Evergarden, and because Netflix has it that it's not being broadcast until after the season. And even though the rest of the world got the simulcast, they had to wait until the next day to watch it. Then there's the Kadokawa block and that was originally going to be for Butlers, but production issues forced it to be delayed to the spring, and instead of moving another Kadokawa show into its vacated slot, it was used for a rebroadcast of Bungo Stray Dogs. So running down the Tokyo MX lineup of Wednesday shows, it's DamePri, Youkai Ningen Beim (which isn't available for streaming anywhere), Violet Evergarden (which Netflix is not simulcasting in America), and rebroadcasts of Sword Art Online II, Bungo Stray Dogs, and Steins;Gate. I have never seen a day this empty and devoid of new shows with so many rebroadcasts taking up its time slots.

LOSER: Fridays
Unlike with Wednesdays, Fridays had a lot of shows and just about all of them are duds, or at least stuff that's not top-tier material with the majority of the stuff being low-quality stuff. The Friday lineup this season consists of Hakumei and Mikochi, Toji no Miko, Hakyu Hoshin Engi, Junji Ito Collection, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, Record of Grancrest War, Beatless, Killing Bites, Dagashi Kashi 2, and the short Working Buddies to go along with the continuing shows in Garo: Vanishing Line, Future Card Buddyfight X, and Bono Bono. Normally, it has a much better lineup with Animeism shows being among the most highly-anticiapted, but both Beatless and Killing Bites ended up being duds. The only worthwhile shows form this day are Hakumei and Mikochi and Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens as those two achieve what it sets out to do with the kind of shows they are. Running down the lineup, Toji no Miko has some pretty awful storytelling going on while failing to utilize its action scenes to support it, Hakyu Hoshin Engi just uses a way-too-simplistic formula for it to work, Junji Ito Collection goes to show why horror shows are usually bad and even for horror fans they didn't like how it was handled, Grancrest War has a badly rushed story, and Dagashi Kashi it depends on if the viewers liked the first season or not. Never have I seen so many duds on one day since it happened to the Saturday lineup of the Summer 2016 season.