And so we have reached the end of the Summer 2019 season. I have to say, I was wrong more often than not in my predictions about what I would enjoy from the season. There were some surprise hits and some surprise flops. Some were OK at first and then just crashed later. Given the sheer volume of anime I decided to try this season, that isn’t exactly surprising. Just like the round-up at the beginning of the season, I will focus solely on anime that premiered during summer 2019 (so no Demon Slayer, MIX, Fruits Basket, etc).

Overall, the data looks like this:

Below, you’ll find the list of shows I watched in alphabetical order. It will be spoiler free, so feel free to read on if you’re curious. I’ve highlighted my top five anime of the season as well as which ones I ended up dropping. Let’s see how we did.


Are You Lost?

Much to my surprise, I never ended up dropping this one (probably because it was my only Tuesday show in the end). What originally appeared to have way over-the-top contrived fan service eventually turned into something fairly entertaining (well, entertaining enough). It can’t be placed in the survival anime hall of fame or anything, but they provided some interesting little situations and tidbits about surviving in the wild (assuming any of it is true, I didn’t bother checking). I’m not sure it could have survived as a full length episode, but the short form half episodes were a good way to entertain myself for 12 minutes.

Unfortunately, I can’t really recommend it, especially considering the fact that they didn’t finish the story. At best I can say if you’re really bored and don’t expect too much, you might be entertained enough by it.


Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest

Arifureta

This anime probably contains some of the worst CG I have seen in a long time. And what’s worse is, they use it on the giant monsters and weapons, making it that much more obvious how bad it is. Everything is super shiny and just off-putting. At one point I wasn’t sure if he was throwing hand grenades or Christmas tree ornaments.

The story is middling at best as well (admittedly, the later episodes are much better than the early ones). From what I understand, they really rushed and butchered the source story from the Light Novel, turning it into something almost unrecognizable. Fans were unhappy with this. It wasn’t so bad that I felt the need to drop it, but I definitely wasn’t rushing to watch it every week. If you can get past the first several episodes, you might find something worth hanging onto. Just be prepared for disappointment, LN fans.


Astra: Lost in Space

This anime was quite the ride. I expected a lot after the incredible pilot, and for the most part, they absolutely delivered. It was a fun mixture of mystery, sci-fi, and “the bonds of friendship” all rolled into one. It was well supported with crisp visuals, exciting music, and a great voice cast.

It wasn’t perfect. There were some odd lull moments and strange twists that kind of take you out for a moment, but each episode seemed to end with a strong hook to pull you right back into the story; not once did it feel like it was trying to string the audience along for a ridiculous ride.

Based on all of the above criteria, it earned a place in my top 5 anime of the summer 2019 season.


BEM

This anime was probably my biggest surprise hit of the season. It feels almost like a nostalgia trip back to the 90’s when Batman: The Animated Series was airing on television. There are strong Gotham vibes and magnificently ridiculous enemies to go along with it.

While it does apply a basic “monster of the week” formula to it’s episodes, BEM quickly establishes an overarching arc for the main characters to keep you anchored. As they fight these monsters, there is still a clear goal that they are aiming for and it stays at the forefront. This, combined with the varied enemy designs, keeps the episodes from feeling repetitious and gives you a reason to care about the heroes.

This anime was an instant love for me, and I always looked forward to watching it. I know it hasn’t finished yet thanks to the delay caused by the KyoAni fire, but it has also earned a place in my top 5 anime for summer 2019.


Cop Craft

Cop Craft

Cop Craft is a buddy cop adventure comedy set in a fictional city that sits right outside the gates of another world. And it’s a mostly fun story to watch. I say mostly because there is an arc towards the end that feels like it came a bit out of left field; for those couple of episodes the personalities of the characters feel off and the story doesn’t carry with it the usual underbelly crime atmosphere that makes Cop Craft so entertaining.

This anime sits somewhere in the upper middle of the scoring bracket. With the interesting story and entertaining characters, it manages to deliver a better than average experience, but it never really reaches anything that could be called great (unless we’re talking strictly character design and OP, because it excels at both). Still, what it does deliver is entertaining enough to recommend a try.


The Demon Girl Next Door

This is an anime where the demon girl must defeat the local magic girl and break her family free from the curse of poverty. As you can imagine, that poverty (combined with a shocking lack of athletic aptitude) puts our protagonist at a huge disadvantage. Luckily, the magic girl is nice and is willing to help her out.

It’s a comedy that carries very little suspense or intrigue. It’s just fun to watch the demon girl struggle to improve herself every episode with help from the very person she’s supposed to defeat. It’s simple, but I found it incredibly entertaining. It filled the purpose of a show that’s just “nice to watch.” Call it relaxing joke time or whatever you will, this is the kind of anime you watch when you just need something light and easy.


Demon Lord, Retry!

With so much isekai anime being pumped out, there are bound to be some clear losers, and this one falls into that category for me. It started out incredibly average and all went downhill from there. The story got steadily more bogged down in weird scenes that felt unnecessary and the character development was seriously lacking. Any emotional moments felt forced rather than earned. It simply never managed to give me a reason to want to care about what I was seeing.

Combine with all of that subpar animation and anything else to really give it umph, and you have exactly what we were presented. I wanted to like it; isekai is one of my favorite genres for better or worse. But you can tell there is a real lack of effort being put forth for this one. Eventually, I dropped it because a show with 12 total episodes felt like it had entirely too much filler.


Dr. STONE

For me, this anime is exactly what it looks like to ride the middle. The story is fine, the characters are fine (for the most part; there’s a lot of yelling and obvious tropes are super obvious), and the setting is fine. It never really reaches heights outside of mediocrity. It’s a shame considering the absolute marketing blitz that this show received.

I am willing to admit that I am just outside of the target audience for this one. Much to my surprise, it manages to be one of the most popular shows airing from week to week.

By the fifth episode, I had zero motivation to continue. Like I said, I didn’t hate it. There was just nothing about it that really managed to pull me in and make me want to watch it. It often feels like they’re simply trying too hard to be cool, if that makes any sense. Because of this, I decided to drop it. It really just isn’t for me.


Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?

This anime makes it painfully obvious that it takes a lot more than simple ecchi to make a show interesting or watchable (especially when the ecchi is mostly on the lighter side). It starts out fairly strong. While the story isn’t the most innovative or interesting, the characters are fun enough to carry it. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough, especially when they introduce one of the most annoying characters to grace any anime (and let their annoyance exist for far too long).

About midway through, it all seems to lose it’s way and one of the least interesting arcs seems to get caught in a loop that just won’t stop. It very quickly put me off when episode after episode continues to not really resolve anything. Cute anime girls that you want to protect or not, the frustration is real. After the seventh episode I was done and had to drop it.


Fire Force

While I may not have enjoyed Dr. STONE, I am thoroughly enjoying what Fire Force has to offer. It’s a strong mixture of action/fight sequences, interesting characters, entertaining premise, funny comedy, and fantastic visuals (plus some of that fan service). It’s unique and exciting to watch it slowly morph from these strange weekly monsters to a much bigger conspiracy.

I was iffy about this one going in based on the pilot, but it quickly picks up and runs as it slowly reveals the mystery behind what’s happening in the city. So far, it hasn’t slowed down, giving the audience something new and exciting every week without just overwhelming us with a bunch of new ideas and concepts like, say, a FATE series (seriously, those shows leave me out of breath trying to keep up sometimes).

It’s a multi-season anime, so I haven’t seen everything it has to offer, but just in the confines of summer 2019 anime, it has earned a spot in my top 5.


Granbelm

I wanted to like Granbelm, I promise I really did. But the pilot was probably the best thing about this anime for me. What initially looked to be an interesting premise slowly morphed into something a lot more generic feeling with very little soul. I had a hard time finding a reason to care, and eventually decided that it wasn’t for me. The anime never felt like it was able to put everything quite in focus.

The mech fights were definitely cool, and the squatty little robots were an interesting design choice. I was impressed that they didn’t look like clunky 3D models when we were watching the mech fights. But besides the design of the mechs, there was nothing that could really set it apart as anything special. By the time I stopped watching, it felt more like noise on screen than anything else.


Hensuki: Are you willing to fall in love with a pervert, as long as she’s a cutie?

I probably said enough about this one in the Round-Up I did at the beginning of the summer season. It really just was an overall terrible experience watching this anime (and I only watched the pilot). The animation hurt my eyes (and got progressively worse as the episode progressed – holy god that basketball match) and everything from the writing to the ecchi (the core of this anime) felt incredibly forced and…childish? I say childish because it feels like the writing of an inexperienced middle schooler when it comes to odd fetishes: pure uninformed fantasy.

You would be better off looking somewhere else for your entertainment. I dropped this one after the pilot.


How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?

How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift?

Of all the things I expected to see in the cute girls doing cute things (CGDCT) genre, weightlifting and working out was not one of them. But that’s because I was a damned fool. This anime has everything but a deep plot (something that was never expected out of any anime in the CGDCT section of anime), from international rivalries to knock off celebrities. You want a cute sensei? It’s here. Delicious looking anime food? Yep. What about actual workout information? In spades!

And if you thought workouts by Gilad were entertaining, just wait until you meet Machio. He’s the new Mr. Steal-Your-Girl that can go from a slim fitting track suit to intimidating muscle mass in less than a second. He’s the embodiment of every man’s wishes: looking trendy in athletic clothes but at the same time just always wishing they were naked.

Honestly, if you can get behind funny, entertaining and educational television, you really should try this one.


If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord

If It's for My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord

There are cute girls doing cute things, and then there’s this anime, which seems to have made a level all on it’s own. Every single move that the protagonist Latina makes is absolutely perfect. I know it. You know it. All the characters in the anime know it. Everyone is enthralled with her, waiting to see what perfect little thing she’ll do next, even if it’s just delivering a tray of drinks.

Her guardian, Dale, is obsessed with protecting and loving her, and it’s obvious why. She earns every single bit of the praise and gifts that he showers upon her. His life’s work used to be his passion; now it simply serves as an anchor to keep him far away from her at the most inconvenient time (which is any the time). If you want to sit and watch an anime with a giant silly looking grin on your face for twenty minutes straight, turn on an episode of this anime and join the cult.


Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II

Listen, barring some disaster, there was no way this show wasn’t going to make my top 5 for the season; I’m incredibly biased and aware of it. If you’ve watched the first season, you know exactly what to expect. We continue to follow the adventures of Bell Cranel and Familia. The same great art, folksy music, exciting combat, and fun lore all still exist.

They did change the formula up enough so that it doesn’t feel like a repeat. Surprisingly, the majority of their time is spent outside of the dungeon. This season focuses more heavily on character drama in relationship to each other than the previous season. We aren’t just trying to watch Bell grow as a person anymore; we’re interested in how the world is reacting to the now famous Little Rookie. And honestly, the new formula works (for the most part). It allowed for a lot more on screen development of these characters than I anticipated, but I liked it. I do hope they will return to deep diving in the dungeon for the already announced third season for next summer.


Isekai Cheat Magician

The best way I can describe this anime is that it’s an even less exciting and more average version of this year’s Wise Man’s Grandchild. There is nothing new or groundbreaking to be found here. Average art. Average Music. Average Characters. Average Story. Average, average, average. This anime also seems to highlight the fact that Average is a spectrum; while some average anime are still decent to watch, this one falls into the “not really worth your time” category of average.

I didn’t like what I was seeing; I also didn’t hate what I was seeing. I can only describe how it made me feel in one word: un-enthused (which I’m pretty sure isn’t actually a word). I can’t say you have bad taste if you like it just like I can’t say you have good taste if you like it. I can only say that you definitely watched an anime…yep….

Because this anime is the entertainment equivalent of the flavor of water (not good or bad…just “not”), I had to drop it and I can’t recommend it one way or another.


Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note

Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note

Oh look, yet another Fate universe anime. Honestly, I shouldn’t complain. I’ve only ever seen Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, so it’s not like I’m actually fatigued by the series. The only reason I’m watching this is because the main character was one of my favorites in Zero. And honestly, it’s a lot better than I expected. There isn’t any sort of Grail War happening in this one. This is more akin to a supernatural Sherlock Holmes (with a lot more mystical reasoning). The mysteries were fun ideas, and the characters were interesting for the most part.

However, like every other Fate anime (from what I’ve gathered), there is a lot of mind fatigue as you start getting into it. They continuously flood your mind with a barrage of universe-centric phrases, ideas, and concepts. While it may be easier for Fate veterans to consume, for filthy Fate casuals like myself, it was exhausting to keep up, especially in the beginning. You’re almost better off just accepting that you won’t follow the deep intricacies of everything. This does make the mystery solutions a lot less impactful since they follow a logic that sometimes I could not.


Magical Sempai

I really wanted to like this one. Before the season started, I had this anime pegged as a contender for a season favorite. A buxom senpai who is hilariously bad at magic? What could go wrong? Turns out, a lot. I’ve said it already in this post, but this is additional proof that ecchi alone can’t make a series. The characters in this anime are the equivalent of dried toast. They have no soul. And when all your anime is attempting to do is put the head of the magic club in lewd situations, you need to have good characters to carry it.

The ecchi itself is ridiculous, even for the genre. The situations are so contrived that it pulls you out of the immersion more than anything. Honestly, if you are looking for that mindless entertainment that this genre looks to provide, you’re once again better off looking elsewhere. Someone tell Japan we want quality over quantity, please.


O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Talk about a surprise for the season. Just based on the description, you’d almost think this anime is fanservice focused, but you would be wrong. This anime provides a frank and open discussion of sexuality. Honestly, it approaches the subject in a way I never thought I’d see in an anime. It takes an awkwardly tough transition in life and lays it bare for all to see. They don’t try to cover it up with comedy or other coping mechanisms either.

After the stellar pilot, this anime continued to deliver. Just like growing up in the real world, the characters aren’t all experiencing perfectly rosy moments or completely happy endings. They learn what it means to be a close knit group of friends, happiness and pain. They learn what it means to begin to grow in ways that will start to pull them apart. Maybe it’s hitting a nostalgia factor, but it’s bittersweet to experience. It seems to hit all the right notes. And that is why it has earned a spot in my top 5 for the season.


The Ones Within

This one is a bit of a strange one for me. There were days where I loved it and days where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue watching. The concept is simple enough – survive, attract attention and earn your escape (win the crowd, and you will win your freedom).

The characters are a mixed bag of interesting and tired stereotypes. There weren’t really any who really stood out as memorable in the end. And that is really this anime’s biggest weakness. It fails to make an impact, even during what are supposed to be the emotionally powerful scenes; big mysterious reveals fall flat. They seem to have all the pieces necessary to make a really interesting anime, they just never quite seemed to put them all together. Eventually, I dropped it because of the poor execution.


To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts

To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts

I’m honestly surprised at how much I grew to like this one. Just based on the pilot, I expected a much shallower “monster of the week” approach. While it does have a variety of monsters to conquer, it spends the majority of it’s time developing the main protagonists; these protagonists help pave the way for the more complex emotions of the world to open up to the viewers.

The season did have some fairly uneven pacing. It all seemed to slow way down near the end when there was so much story left and so few episodes in which to tell it. It gave it a feeling of almost being rushed and not rushed at the same time. As expected from the slowdown, the story was left incomplete. Was it good enough to warrant a second season? My gut tells me no, but only time will tell.


Wasteful Days of High School Girls

Wasteful Days of High School Girls

This anime is the very definition of a “glow-up” for me this season. After the pilot it left me with one of my more pessimistic expectations for summer 2019, almost making me drop it after just one episode. Thankfully, I stuck it out and it turned into one of my favorite comedies of the season.

The jokes are very much high school sarcasm centered and sometimes they fly at you very quickly. To help you digest everything coming at you, each character’s personality is unique and distinct, bringing in their personal flavors of repeated one-liners and situation interpretations. It doesn’t create the deepest characters, but that isn’t what they’re going for anyway. This is meant to simply show you the lives of high school girls who lead subdued lives, especially by anime standards; there are no major goals or big events for them to overcome.

Not every anime needs to be groundbreaking. Sometimes the anime is good enough just for simply “being,” and for me, this falls into that category. It’s nice to just sit back, relax, and watch teenagers be teenagers.


And that, my friends, wraps up the Summer 2019 season for me. Overall, I can’t say it was a particularly remarkable season, but it wasn’t a dud. Hopefully the Fall 2019 season brings in a lot of good anime to enjoy. I honestly have no clue what to expect beyond Chihayafuru Season 3; I’m not knowledgeable or plugged in enough to know what else has already been announced.

What are your thoughts on this season? Anything stand out that I didn’t mention?

One thought on “Summer 2019 – Retrospective

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