A new year and a new decade are upon us, so that must mean it’s time for all the “Top *” posts to come out. As I haven’t been watching anime and writing about it for a whole decade, my top five for the year will have to suffice. These are all anime that I wholeheartedly recommend trying that aired in 2019. I couldn’t bring myself to actually rank them, so here are my Top 5 Anime of 2019 (in no particular order).
MIX: Meisei Story
This anime managed to bring up my hype levels to almost max every single week, especially during the baseball games. I mentioned it several times in my full review, but the pacing and slow build they were able to accomplish in this anime is one of the things that impressed me the most.
Because it was a sequel to an old anime called Touch, it did it’s best to maintain the same feeling of an anime that aired in the 1980’s while still introducing some modern elements. The music, art style and pacing all felt straight out of an anime from years ago.
Even if sports anime (or just baseball) isn’t your thing, MIX might just hit that sweet spot of enjoyment for you.
Fruits Basket (2019)
Welcome to one of the hardest-to-digest anime of 2019 (at least for me). Over the course of the first season, it built layers upon layers of character and emotional complexity. Just when you think that you have a character’s motivation figured out, new problems are introduced. These characters don’t just have depth, they have DEPTH.
I did my best to convey the layers of this story in my full review, but I still am not sure I was able to really do the anime justice. This is one of those rare picks that I can recommend, but I can’t really explain why. It’s simply something that needs to be experienced to understand.
Even if emotionally charged character dramas aren’t your usual taste, I feel like you would be depriving yourself of something important if you didn’t at least try Fruits Basket (2019). I can’t wait to see what the second season has in store.
The Quintessential Quintuplets
I’ll admit, this is a selfish pick (but hey, it’s my list so I can be as selfish as I want). This anime is important to me for a few different reasons. One is it was the anime that finally tipped me and made me start reading manga. I needed to know what happened after the cliffhanger of season 1. Surprise surprise, the story still isn’t over (though we are finally in the endgame). Second, it gave me a real appreciation for harem anime that isn’t all about the ecchi, giving me a new genre that, turns out, I can really enjoy.
I had heard about the concept of a waifu war when I started this show, but my young anime self had always assumed it was most intense between waifus from different shows. This was the first large scale war I was able to witness where all the combatants were from the same show. Bonus points for them all being sisters, I suppose.
I can’t really say everyone should try this show, but if you’re try-curious about this one but hesitate because it’s a harem, maybe give it a try. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it. Read my full review if you want more details.
This anime style was a first for me. I hadn’t yet watched an anime where the story took place in ancient Japan. It carries with it a darker tone and a gritty story that is balanced by occasional lighthearted humor. I was fascinated. The heavy spiritual elements gave it that touch of fantasy and coupled perfectly with the combat and monsters.
They put a lot of effort into transporting you into this world. The art style, soundtrack, characters and storytelling all felt like they perfectly meshed with a feudal Japan. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it really is mesmerizing.
As a bonus, the entire story is condensed into a single 24 episode season. There’s no waiting for another announcement or needing to read the manga. And while the ending is far from black and white, it is a very satisfying conclusion to the story. You can read more about it in my full review if you want to know more.
Sneaking in at the very end of 2019 is Fire Force. To be honest, I’m surprised that a shounen anime impressed me enough to make this list; it isn’t my typical taste. But underneath the flashy fighting and fire scarred world was a story filled with interesting characters with interesting backstories and believable motivations. The premise might be simple, but when it’s supported by this cast, it really works.
It has a bit of a rocky start since it just kind of takes off full blast and starts throwing concepts and terms at you from the very beginning, but it really comes into its own after only a couple episodes.
Just about my only complaint about this one is that the fanservice can occasionally feel inappropriate for the situation. But it isn’t enough to really do much beyond pull you out of immersion for a few seconds and it isn’t pervasive throughout the whole show. This is the only one I don’t have a full review posted for yet, but it will be available next week.
And that completes my top shows for the year 2019. I’d love to know what your favorite anime from the year were. We had a lot of great anime, and 2020 already has some promising shows lined up. I’m excited to see where it goes.
Happy New Year, everybody!