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2019 Anime Yearly

Anime of the Year 2019

2019 marked the continuation of the industry’s sequel fever, with high-profile franchises (such as Attack on Titan, Boku no Hero Academia, One Punch Man, etc.) dominating the conversation with their highly anticipated returns. Still, a few brand-new titles impressed fans as well, particularly Ufotable’s stellar adaptation of shounen manga Kimetsu no Yaiba, which is arguably the year’s most iconic show. This was also the first year in which I was able to experience a whole slew of anime adaptations for manga that I’d already read, including Kaguya-sama, The Promised Neverland, Dr. Stone, and the widely acclaimed Vinland Saga.

To look back on this year of anime, I delved into my favourite character, episode, OP, ED, etc. (plus a few miscellaneous categories) and finally came up with a list of my top 10 anime for the year, ranked in order from least favourite to AOTY.


BEST OPENING


“MUKANJYO” by Survive Said the Prophet (Vinland Saga)

Honourable Mentions

  • “Kaen” by Ziyoou-vachi (Dororo)
  • “Inferno” by Mrs.GREEN APPLE (Fire Force)
  • “Gurenge” by LiSA (Kimetsu no Yaiba)
  • “Wild Side” by ALI (Beastars)

BEST ENDING


“Stand By Me” by the peggies (Sarazanmai)

Honourable Mentions

  • “LIFE” by Rude-α (Dr. Stone)
  • “Torches” by Aimer (Vinland Saga)
  • “Kago no Naka no Bokura wa” by AIKI (Hoshiai no Sora)
  • “One Step Closer” by INTERSECTION (Fruits Basket)

MISCELLANEOUS


Most Creative – Mob Psycho 100 II

Honourable Mentions

  • Beastars
  • Sarazanmai
  • Dr. Stone
  • Carole & Tuesday

Best Narrative – The Promised Neverland

Honourable Mentions

  • Vinland Saga
  • Attack on Titan 3 Part 2
  • Mob Psycho 100 II
  • Kanata no Astra

Most Entertaining – Kaguya-sama

Honourable Mentions

  • Dr. Stone
  • Joshikousei no Mudazukai
  • Mob Psycho 100 II
  • Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia

Most Visually Impressive – Kimetsu no Yaiba

Honourable Mentions

  • Mob Psycho 100 II
  • Beastars
  • Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia
  • Fire Force

Most Disappointing – One Punch Man 2

Honourable Mentions

  • Nanatsu no Taizai 3
  • Fire Force
  • Carole & Tuesday
  • Boku no Hero Academia 4

BEST EPISODE


“Discord ~Choices~” (Mob Psycho 100 II, Episode 5)

Honourable Mentions

  • “Midnight Sun” (Attack on Titan 3, Episode 18)
  • “Hinokami” (Kimetsu no Yaiba, Episode 19)
  • “The Light of Dawn” (Vinland Saga, Episode 14)
  • “Let’s Go Home” (Fruits Basket, Episode 24)

BEST CHARACTER


Askeladd (Vinland Saga)

Honourable Mentions

  • Kaguya Shinomiya (Kaguya-sama)
  • Maine (Ascendance of a Bookworm)
  • Kyou Souma (Fruits Basket)
  • Garou (One Punch Man 2)

TOP 10 ANIME


10. Ascendance of a Bookworm

Studio: Ajia-Do | Source: Light Novel | Season: Fall

Maine’s tale is one of the gentlest and most thoughtful takes on isekai in recent years (and perhaps ever). In the age of single cour anime and endless sequels, slow burns like this are becoming more and more of a rarity, but it’s refreshing to see such unconventional twists on one of the most popular and overdone genres. Ascendance of a Bookworm achieves a delicate balance between its slice of life and fantasy elements, and spins a tale that is as touching as it is human. Maine is an endearing heroine, her relationships are fleshed out, and the inklings of lore and supernatural intrigue beautifully frame her personal arc.


9. Fruits Basket

Studio: TMS Entertainment | Source: Manga | Season: Spring

The second anime adaptation of this legendary shoujo manga has already proven itself as a worthy title; it fixes some of the previous anime’s blunders and demonstrates a fine grasp of what makes the source material such a beloved and enduring work. There are a lot of character introductions and expository moments, but the cast and world are interesting enough to maintain interest. By this first season’s end, we’re already treated to a highly rewarding climax packed with development and emotional weight, and I can’t wait to see how everything comes together in the next couple of seasons.


8. The Promised Neverland

Studio: CloverWorks | Source: Manga | Season: Winter

The Promised Neverland’s first story arc is possibly one of the best I’ve ever read, and this anime adapts it in its entirety. Some of the suspense and thrill is lost in translation, but it still stands as a strong reinvention of the shounen formula. Isabella is undeniably one of the year’s best written villains, and our main trio is also memorable and well-developed. Following arcs will see a shift to more action/sci-fi-type beats and, honestly, the story becomes a lot more tropey once it moves away from Grace Field. This is the narrative at its freshest and most innovative; thankfully, the production is also solid, establishing this as one of the year’s best.


7. Kaguya-sama

Studio: A-1 Pictures | Source: Manga | Season: Winter

In 2017, I fell in love with this manga’s fusion of mindgame-style stories (a la Death Note) with high school romcoms. The charm and hilarity carry over to this wonderful adaptation, which at times is elevated by excellent direction (see Episode 3). It never dwells too long on its jokes nor the awkward romance between our main duo; instead, it pays particular attention to who they truly are deep down and how their surroundings shape them and their relationships with others. It’s hands down my favourite comedy of the year, boasting a well-rounded cast, fantastic interactions, witty comedy and satirization, and a unique formula.


6. Beastars

Studio: Orange | Source: Manga | Season: Fall

Manga-derived stories reigned supreme this year, and Beastars was no exception. Tensions run high in this society divided between carnivores and herbivores, and a reserved wolf named Legoshi feels it more than anyone else. A recurring theme is how animals resist/give in to instinct, all framed by a shadowy murder and the uneasy ongoings of daily school life. The character writing is great, as is the visual presentation, courtesy of Studio Orange and their masterful CG work. Equal parts charming and quirky, Beastars is a great anime that should never be dismissed as a Zootopia clone.


5. Kimetsu no Yaiba

Studio: Ufotable | Source: Manga | Season: Spring

In my opinion, Kimetsu no Yaiba isn’t the best anime of the year, but it’s certainly the most important. The level of quality that Ufotable delivers is almost shocking, and it’s really a testament to how sound, colour and movement can elevate a story so far beyond its source. Tanjirou, Shinobu, Nezuko, and Kibutsuji are intriguing and fun to watch (especially for shounen standards), and just about make up for the cast’s weakest components (like Zenitsu and Inosuke, who are grating at best). The show never really puts pressure on the conventions of shounen storytelling, but it works magic within its confines.


4. Chihayafuru 3

Studio: Madhouse | Source: Manga | Season: Fall

It’s really a shame that bots dragged this show’s score down on MyAnimeList, as it’s easily one of the year’s finest works. In this third season, the story and characters continue to develop in unexpected yet satisfying ways, as our beloved main trio pushes adulthood. A good drama series knows how to derive its emotional value from earnest, believable character work, and Chihayafuru has always been one of the few shows to understand this. Taichi and Chihaya find themselves at a crossroads between their passion for karuta and their futures, and it’s both tense and moving to watch them maneuver their newfound dilemmas.


3. Vinland Saga

Studio: Wit Studio | Source: Manga | Season: Summer

Vinland Saga has held a special place in my heart ever since I read it all the way back in 2015. I was able to see the story with new eyes this year, thanks to this excellent adaptation by Wit Studio. Thorfinn’s pursuit of revenge is the series at its bloodiest and most gripping, as we’re treated to a host of viking clashes, political machinations, and vicious betrayals. Of course, Askeladd, who is my favourite character of the year, is at the epicentre of it all. Thorfinn’s dreaded nemesis is a fantastic character; complex, multidimensional, charismatic and downright diabolical, and he delivers memorable moments from beginning to bitter end. Action, suspense and adventure, this anime is a thrilling ride from start to finish, and there’s a ton of substance and heart to keep you thinking about it long after it’s done. Without a doubt, the best new anime of 2019.


2. Mob Psycho 100 II

Studio: Bones | Source: Web Manga | Season: Winter

Even in an already impressive winter season, the second season of this action-packed psychic anime was by far my most anticipated release of each week. Yuzuru Tachikawa’s directorial prowess is on full display here, from the mind-boggling battle sequences to the stylistic examinations of character psychology. Mob is pushed to his limit more than ever before, and both he and Reigen emerge as shining examples of brilliant character writing. Mob Psycho 100 has always been a fantastic series, but a few episodes into this sophomore season (around when Mob’s conflict with Mogami begins), it evolves into one of the medium’s most profound and impactful titles.


1. Attack on Titan 3 Part 2

Studio: Wit Studio | Source: Manga | Season: Spring

The top 3 of this list are all deserving of a #1 spot as they each excel in their own unique way, but Attack on Titan’s latest stretch of episodes is here for finally delivering what fans have been waiting for since the titan epic began all the way back in 2013. There was a lot riding on the elusive basement reveal, and fortunately, the twist landed extremely well; the story has now opened itself up and redefined its own aim, but not at the cost of a cheap cliffhanger ending. Of all of the characters, Levi shined the most this time around, being at the center of the spectacularly animated conflict with the Beast Titan, as well as the dilemma of saving Armin or his own leader, Erwin. The episodes revolving around these struggles are tense, gripping, and poignant, and they lead into a highly anticipated dive into Grisha Yeager’s past and the universe’s lore. The latter half of the third season just accomplishes so much in a meager ten episodes, but it never feels like it’s running through a checklist; the experience is as exhilarating, emotional, and wildly enjoyable as ever. For providing its signature thrill and spectacle alongside major narrative developments and rewarding resolutions a half-decade in the making, Attack on Titan 3 Part 2 is my favourite anime of 2019.

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