As if anyone cared, here's my personal list of top anime of 2008.
I'd say "best" anime, but "favorite" is more accurate. I can't imagine how to be objective about this. We all have our own likes and dislikes. Even adding up points in various categories -- animation, story, characters, etc. -- seems pretty bogus to me.
I'd at least say that all the shows on my list are good anime. I have left out lesser shows that I enjoyed, such as Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, and Hakushaku to Yousei. I don't think I'd call any of this year's shows a masterpiece, but Natsu no Sora, Eve no Jikan, and Kannagi all have a chance, and Toradora is getting better and better.
Here's the list, followed by my comments on each show. The first few may be in order of preference, but I find it hard to put shows in a firm ranking order. (Click photos to enlarge, mouseover for captions.)
Mahoutsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto - Natsu no Sora
Eve no Jikan
Vampire Knight Guilty
Xam'd Lost Memories
Nijuumensou no Musume
Michiko to Hatchin
Mahoutsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto - Natsu no Sora -- This was widely ridiculed for its photo-realistic backgrounds, simplified drawing, and angst. Those were three of the things I loved about it, lol. I watch dramatic art for the emotions, and this show gave me a delicate symphony of them. Along with strong visual style and a unique ending.
Eve no Jikan -- A little gem of a series. Real science fiction with real characters and subtle feelings. A deeper take on the humanity of robots. Great pacing, sound, and voice-acting. Fukuyama Jun is excellent, for a change, and we hear Tanaka Rie, Yukana, Satou Rina, Itou Miki, and Sugita Tomokazu, as well. Young director Yoshiura Yasuhiro has a future. Check out his previous one-shot OVA, Pale Cocoon.
Kannagi -- A minor masterpiece of comic moe by bad-boy director Yamamoto Yutaka ("Yamakan"). Excellent animation, with great visual comedy and a wonderful performance by Tomatsu Haruka as Nagi. And another great OP from the hand of Yamakan, like the Lucky Star OP and the Haruhi ED.
Toradora -- As we enter the second half of this series, it just gets better. Characters you can care for, stumbling through their lives together. I had no idea this show would be so good. Not your ordinary harem comedy. Great voice performance by Kugimiya Rie as the Palm-top Tiger.
true tears -- I was completely captivated by Takagaki Ayahi's performance as Noe. The bittersweet story also worked for me. And Nazuka Kaori's Hiromi was deep and strong.
ef melodies -- I love the extravagant Shinbou Akiyuki visual style. I think it adds to the richness of most of the shows we see it in. And I enjoy Oonuma Shin's version of Shinbou more than Shinbou's own work. I didn't think melodies was quite as powerful as memories, but it was very good.
Vampire Knight Guilty -- I enjoyed the first series, but Guilty took it to a higher level. There was a lot of fine voice work in this show, even if the star, Horie Yui, didn't seem to me to get the character right. But this is one case where having read the manga didn't turn me off the anime. An interesting dark shoujo take on the vampire genre.
Candy Boy -- Subtle feelings and not-so-subtle yuri. Nabatame Hitomi and Yuzuki Ryoka create a beautiful world of comedy and emotion.
Macross Frontier -- There was a lot to like here -- setting, music, female characters -- but the story began to slide off-track as the series progressed. I felt as if the writing was rather aimless. Alto seemed to have no feelings, and that made it hard to build a story. But I think this show will be the springboard to stardom for Endou Aya (Sheryl).
Kurenai -- It started so promisingly, with good characters and an interesting situation. But it bogged down halfway, and when the protagonist started making clearly stupid decisions, it was hard for me to maintain my suspension of disbelief. Great voice work by Sawashiro Miyuki (Shinkurou), Kuroda Takaya (Renjou), and young Yuuki Aoi (Murasaki).
Xam'd Lost Memories -- I'm not a shounen fan, but I am a fan of science fiction. Stylish, with a great OP. And outstanding voice work by Sanpei Yuuko (Nakiami), among others. The story and the world make sense to me.
Nijuumensou no Musume -- Another show that started promisingly and then meandered off into strange byways. The early episodes gave us a unique story and setting in 1950s Japan. Hirano Aya was great as Chiko, but the story started going in circles and the character didn't develop. I loved both the OP and Hirano's ED.
Tytania -- A classic, slow-developing space opera on a grand scale, with characters whose emotions and motivations are gradually filling in.
Michiko to Hatchin -- A unique setting in Brazil, and characters that do seem to develop. Some of the comedy leaves me scratching my head, but it is always exciting to see what unusual situation will come next, and how it will affect the main characters' relationship.
Kurozuka -- The story lost force for me as it progressed beyond its strong early thrust, but the wonderful pace and look of it continued, and the voice work of Paku Romi and Miyano Mamoru was superb. I am probably in a minority when I say that this also has one of the top OPs of the year, with the driving techno-punk of Maximum the Hormone.
Some of the most popular and highly rated shows of the year were in genres or styles I have trouble appreciating, so I probably undervalue them. Soul Eater, Gundam00, Code Geass, Kaiji, Shakugan no Shana -- most of those just seemed shallow and boring to me.