The Listless List: Top 5 Anime of Winter 2019

The Winter Anime Season of 2019 is finally coming to a close, and with the Spring season already kicking off, what better time for me to reflect on the past season and talk about the shows I thought were the best..

So… Let’s do just that!

As always, these are just my own personal picks and as such there’s a high chance that they may not reflect your own picks.

Also, I haven’t seen everything, so there’s also a high chance that something that could have made this list if I did watch it, did not. Because I didn’t watch it. Sorry, I’m only human and I don’t have the ability to watch everything. I sure wish I did though…

Anyway…

5. Kakegurui x x

Those of you who know me well enough should already know that I’m a huge fan of hot Anime chi- I mean… Psychological Thrillers… And I’ve previously praised the first season of Kakegurui on this blog before, so much so that I actually awarded it with the number 1 spot on my seasonal list for its respective season.

And seeing that this second season of Kakegurui is almost as good as the first, it’s only natural that it managed to get a spot in the list for this season. In fact, the only reason it isn’t at the top is because this so happens to be a really exceptional season this time around.

Simply put, Kakegurui x x is just more Kakegurui. More characters pushing each other to their absolute breaking points. More interesting and unique game scenarios. And more sadistic goodness in the form of the series’ protagonist, Jabami, who remains as entertaining and fascinating as ever.

Kakegurui has never been the smartest show in the world, especially when compared to Kaiji, a show that it’s often weighed against due to a surface level similarity in premise. But Kakegurui doesn’t need to be smart to be a good time. While the series lacks depth, it makes up for it through its creative scenarios, over the top characters and outstanding presentation.

So yeah, like I said before, if you don’t fancy waiting for Netflix to stop holding the show hostage and release it, find it through other means. It’s worth breaking your morals to do so. Honest.

4. Date A Live III

It’s still hard to believe that after all these years we finally have a third season of Date A Live. Much like the long awaited third season of A Certain Magical IndexDate A Live III had become a bit of a meme in the Anime community, and seemed like one of those sequels that just wasn’t going to happen. Ever.

And yet here we are, nearly half a decade later, with a third season. And oh boy was it worth the lengthy wait.

It’s like the series never left. The cast are as varied and entertaining as ever. The story remains hilariously wacky and absurd, yet completely freaking awesome and badass at the same time. And it’s just a really fun, energetic, over the top harem battle series. Like it’s always been.

Much like KakeguruiDate A Live has never been the smartest or most well written show in the world. But it’s fun. It’s so damn fun. And that, combined with fantastically choreographed action scenes, an entertaining cast of top-tier waifus and some genuinely hilarious, wacky and awesome nonsense, makes this third season one of the best shows of the season.

Let’s hope that fourth season doesn’t take quite as long to come out as this one did.

3. Mob Psycho 100 II

Over the years that I’ve written for this blog, I’ve never kept my distaste for One Punch Man much of a secret. But for those who didn’t know, I never really cared for it. I’d go as far as saying I disliked it. Quite a bit. The show was beautifully presented, with it’s amazingly drawn source material playing a large role in that, but narratively One Punch Man always felt incredibly flat and boring to me. The fight scenes looked amazing, but there was never anything at stake. There was no real struggle for Saitama. There was no danger. No threat. No challenge. No real personal conflict for him to overcome. And as such, there wasn’t really any kind of compelling character arc attached to him or the battles he went through. It felt like a massively missed opportunity.

But Mob Psycho 100, a series created by the same author, managed to tell a similar kind of story, while also managing to include all of those things I listed above that were missing from One Punch ManAnd while looking just as good visually. Heck, I’d argue it even looked better in some ways.

And this second season more or less did the exact same thing as the first season, only everything is improved tenfold. The visuals are a massive step up from the first season, which is really saying something because they were already some of the best the medium of Anime had to offer. In a world where even some of the “worst looking” Anime can still look pretty damn good, it’s hard for the visuals of a show to genuinely surprise me any more. Yet, there were several scenes in Mob Psycho 100 II where I was shocked by how incredible they looked. Much like the first season, and One Punch ManMob Psycho 100 II really has set a new bar for Anime visuals, particularly during its jaw dropping fight scenes which are honestly just spectacular.

But of course, visuals aren’t everything, and thankfully they aren’t the only thing Mob Psycho 100 II has to offer. It also has plenty of powerful character drama behind its amazing presentation, and Mob’s story remains as compelling and engaging as ever, with some of the most emotionally impactful scenes to come from Anime this year. And the fight scenes are so damn hype.

Mob Psycho 100 II continued to surprise me and I’m glad it managed to do for me what One Punch Man failed to.

2. Rising of the Shield Hero

Was this really a surprise to anyone who knows the slightest thing about me?

Yeah, I like Shield Hero. I like isekai shows. I like edgy shows. And I’ve defended Shield Hero ad nauseum since the controversy kicked off back when it first premiered at the start of the season.

So of course it was going to make it somewhere on this list.

It’s some what become the punching bag of the morally righteous, with the very same people who were stamping their feet at the shows more questionable themes continuing to watch it, week by week, turning the activity of watching the series into a public flaw finding exercise on Twitter. And I don’t think it’s really all that fair.

Yeah, the show has some questionable themes, including a false rape allegation and slavery. But I feel that, in those two cases specifically, that the show is justified in including them in its story, and both serve narrative purposes beyond mere shock factor. The false rape allegation in particular, is something that happens far more often in the real world than any of us would like to admit, and it’s a real world topic that is rarely addressed in any media, let alone Anime. And while also being a solid representation of the topic, it also serves as a motivator for the protagonist and has a lasting effect on his character by directly influencing some of the decisions he makes later in the story.

And that’s just one example of something that Shield Hero, in spite of its controversy, does right. It also has a fairly interesting setting, with a ton of cool and unique ideas. It has some excellent characters, and does a fantastic job exploring their mental state, particularly that of the protagonist. And hey, it doesn’t even look that bad either, although I’ll admit it’s one of the less visually appealing shows of the season.

Rising of the Shield Hero isn’t a perfect show, and it’s not a show for everyone. But it’s a show for me, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day. I love it, and I look forward to the second half next season.

1. The Promised Neverland

Surprise surprise, right?

Unlike a lot of people who I talk to regularly, I’d actually read the Manga for this series, and have been a fan for quite some time now, so I wasn’t surprised by the big twist at the end of the first episode that completely shocked everyone and had the show immediately winning over the majority of the community.

But with that said, I was still moved by it anyway, because seeing the Manga come to life and this adaptation doing it justice in every way possible, to the point that it managed to surpass it, made it feel as though I was experiencing it all for the first time.

And it only got better and better from there. Every episode was a roller coaster of emotions and tension. Every episode was impactful and hard-hitting. And every moment of this show was a real treat, from start to finish.

With some of the best writing to come from Anime in recent years, a fantastic set of characters that the series does an excellent job connecting you to emotionally and some truly wonderful visuals, The Promised Neverland is not only the best Anime of the Winter season, but also a strong contender of the best Anime of the Year. And it’s getting a second season next year!

People always ask me why I’m so drawn to Shonen Jump stories and The Promised Neverland, while not your typical Jump fare, is why. It’s Jump at its best. And I love it.

Share your favourites:

What were your favourite shows from the Winter 2019 Anime Season? Feel free to share yours in the comments!

13 thoughts on “The Listless List: Top 5 Anime of Winter 2019

  1. Hmmm, I’m still doling out the reviews for the season but if I had to say off the top my top few would be:

    – Kaguya, though that cooled off a bit toward the end.
    – Slime
    – Shield Hero
    – Eventually, Mob S2. At first I wasn’t super into it but it picked up a lot as it went on.

    I enjoyed several other shows, but these were ones that I consistently looked forward to watching each week.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not watching many serials (or I didn’t watch, I should say) from Winter because I’ve been doing other stuff, but my favourite of what I’ve seen is definitely Dororo. I’m looking forward to binging The Promised Neverland now that it’s over, though. I just need to set aside a day to do it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favourites were Mob Psycho and, surprisingly, My Roommate is a Cat. Shield Hero was the runner-up until around where Naofumi starts cleaning up the other heroes’ messes…sure, Curse Shield is cool and all, but it’s starting to devolve into “Naofumi repeatedly teaches people how to be better” (emphasis on “repeatedly” and particularly for Motoyasu/Myne). This only really became evident with the 2nd wave so I’ll keep watching, but (as of this comment) I’m only up to the part where Glass first appears so I don’t know if my opinion will change later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My Roommate is a Cat is a show I definitely need to watch more of. With my cat! It seems really adorable from what I’ve seen and funny too.

      And yeah, I don’t even disagree with what you’re saying. I don’t mind it all too much, but I can see how it would bother some viewers for sure.

      Like

  4. It’s refreshing to hear from a, hrmm, how’s to say “level headed,” manga reader and fan of The Promised Neverland. I’m glad you enjoyed this adaptation even if you knew the twists and turns on the way. Even re-experiencing an exciting plot twist or emotional moment can be fun the second time around, am I right? I’m super excited to see where the story goes next!

    As for Kakegurui, man, I am behind. I haven’t even seen the first! Hopefully I can change that. Same for Date a Live—I saw the first; it was alright. Maybe I’ll like the sequels more.

    Cheers to a fantastic winter season!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like to think I’m more levelheaded than the average fan of the Manga, since a lot of them have tended to be rather nitpicky of the Anime and some of the changes to the art style and tone and whatnot (which I don’t think are even really changes tbh)

      And definitely! You need to check both out, theyre fantastic. Especially if you like fan-service type shows!

      Hope you enjoy next season!

      Liked by 1 person

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