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…
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 Index, Date 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 Kakegurui, Date 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 Man. And 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 Man, Mob 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!