Best of 2019 – Anime Awards
Welcome to AllYourAnime.Net’s fourth ever Best of the Year Anime Awards! We’ve reviewed every season over this past year, giving us the confidence to pick out the titles that shone above the rest and are worth going back for if you somehow skipped over them. These are the titles that deserve to be remembered past 2019, exemplifying the best the year had to offer.
Below you’ll find the awards broken down into seasons, with winners for each and a couple runners-up that were too good to ignore outright. At the end only one of the four seasonal winners will be crowned Best of the Year. We also have a couple personal awards to dole out as well. So, without further delay:
(Note: only TV anime were considered for these awards.)
Best of Winter 2019:
Linny: What pushed Run with the Wind to the top of the Winter season (and has allowed it to appear on TWO Best of the Year lists!) was its unique approach to the sports anime genre. Not only did it stand out by featuring a cast of college aged characters as opposed to the more popular high school setting, it also had all kinds of personalities and insanely varied physical abilities. From top form runners, to characters winded from the start, Run with the Wind ran the gamut with its cast, making sure everyone stood out. With a somewhat uncommon sport to back it all up and a mature approach to the genre, Run with the Wind offered something above and beyond most sports centered anime. Whatever common tropes it featured, like a disgraced ex star, it seamlessly wove these into the story, breathing new life into them with the help of its other more novel aspects. If you haven’t checked out this gem of a show and would like to experience a more restrained take on sports anime, I would urge you to do so immediately.
Linny: Comedy lovers were delighted when Kaguya-sama: Love is War debuted this winter, offering up a rather ingenious take on teenage love and romance as a pair of very unusual and peculiar love birds play a game of cat and mouse to see if they can force the other into admitting their feelings first. And it’s not just the two main characters that sparkle as Kaguya-sama has some of the most adorable and sympathetic comedic support characters who often steal the spotlight for themselves. If you want to see young love go through unusual hurdles and crafty teenage mind games, then bear witness as two very gifted and talented teenagers decide that love is a war and that only one person can win. Kaguya-sama may not have been crowned Best of the Winter, but it’s absolutely a title not to be missed.
Tom: The Promised Neverland wowed Shonen Jump readers back in 2016. It’s first arc gripped audiences as Emma, Ray and Norman uncovered the horrific truth surrounding their lives at Grace Field House. The three set about planning an escape, one hindered by the ever watchful eye of their “Mother’ who won’t allow the children freedom quite so easily. While the manga has largely dipped in quality since that arc, the anime adaptation manages to capture most of what made Neverland so popular from the get go. Due to a few niggling missteps and some cut/adjusted content, Neverland’s anime doesn’t quite manage Winter’s ‘Best of’ title, but remains a must-see for anyone who hasn’t yet experienced the manga’s triumphant opening.
Best of Spring 2019:
Tom: Revisions follows a groups of high schoolers thrust into the middle of a battle between two warring factions from far in the Earth’s future. The series toys with the ‘Jumped at the Call” hero trope via Daisuke Dojima, a young man suffering from a hero complex based upon events from his childhood. He’s irritating, but designed to be so, challenging the concept of the eager hero as he’s gradually forced to realize that perhaps his friends have more of a role to play in the survival of mankind than he does. Revisions is a generally enjoyable Mecha series, but one that botches its ending, with its last couple episodes feeling like they might have been rewritten to course correct from a darker ending. Revisions ending up as Top of the Spring season perhaps speaks to how weak the season was overall, but it’s still worthwhile as a fun watch for any Mecha fan.
Tom: Shield Hero rocked the Spring landscape in large part due to its controversial first episode. Our titular hero, Naofumi, is summoned to another world along with three other heroes from three separate Earths. Together they are to act as saviors of the land against the forces of darkness. But Naofumi’s journey hits a road bump when the princess of the Kingdom accuses him of Rape. A false rape accusation acting as the first act turning point was already a bit dicey, and wasn’t at all aided by Naofumi becoming jaded and cold enough to take part in the local slave trade. Criticism was hurled on the series for making false rape accusations a major plot point, especially at a time when society is looking more towards believing victims. Still, Shield Hero never went quite so far as to become a vehicle for raging misogyny, and managed instead to offer an adventure/character journey that guides Naofumi from the darkness of mistrust and betrayal and back into the light of friendship and faith. Outside of its controversial opening, Shield Hero is by and large prime ‘junk food’ anime. It takes the Isekai genre, adds a bit more nuance, but overall weaves an exciting tale with likable characters and dramatic developments that may be a tad edgy, but otherwise remains a compelling watch near every episode.
Linny: I’ll be honest, the Spring season was dry as hell, hence why a short form series managed to worm its way to the runner up spot. Ao-Chan Can’t Study! is a bit of a risque comedy featuring a high school girl traumatized by her father’s profession as an erotic writer. As she experiences her first love and the resulting sexual awakening that adolescence brings, the show uses that setting to then serve up plenty of comedy and romance through sexual tension and plenty of good old fashioned misunderstandings. Its humour has its moments and it’s fun to see a female protagonist struggling with her more bawdy desires instead of your typical horny male lead, but it does get predictable and monotonous at times, so proceed with simmered expectations.
Best of Summer 2019:
Linny: Ever so often, an anime comes along that has you laughing until your sides hurt. These types of comedies have one thing in common; they put really extreme or unexpected spins on more common situations but what makes them truly shine is how specific and unique their takes can be. Wasteful Days of High School Girls was that show and the hands down must watch comedy of its season. It put the focus on high school life through a really unusual group of girls whose quirks may be familiar aka idiotic, otaku, and so on but with new life breathed into them with one of a kind gags that are sure to leave an impression on any comedy lover who gives it a chance.
Tom: Semi-educational anime aren’t anything new, but How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? certainly was the first of its kind to do such an incredible job of balancing that educational bent with fun characters, a bit of sexy fan service, and solid art. Dumbbells offers viewers not only exercise tips for the gym, but strategies and ideas for getting yourself in shape within the comfort of your own home. It’s largely thanks to its fun, quirky cast and the antics they get up to, that the series remains a fun watch even when you’re not raring to get yourself in shape and instead just want to enjoy Hibiki and the gang being a tad bit inept and goofy.
Linny: Magical Girl-centric shows are a dime a dozen, so Demon Girl Next Door gave the nemesis demon girl the spotlight instead. Demon Girl charms you with its clumsy but sincere demon girl lead, Yuko and endears her more and more to the audience as it follows her along her doomed, laughter inducing journey to take down her arch rival and bring back the glory that the demon clan lost. Pack in some unexpected heartfelt twists and you’ve got yourself a cute little show great for unwinding after a stressful day. It can get lukewarm and repetitive in parts though and that’s why it gets relegated to the runners up spot.
Best of Fall 2019:
Tom: Cautious Hero made the impossible possible. The entire premise is really a one-note joke: A typical, over-powered Isekai hero is overly cautious, making his journey to defeat the Demon King one of constant grinding and over preparing. It should be a dull series. But impressively this anime manages to find every nook and cranny within its singular goof, building out an entire, thoroughly funny, twelve episode run. It’s in part thanks to the series’ reaction face/’straight man’ Ristarte, who provides a near bottomless well of outrageous reactions that keeps Cautious Hero a top watch for the Fall season. There’s a misstep here or there towards the end, but overall Cautious Hero is a title you don’t want to skip out on.
Tom: Ascendance of a Bookworm takes the Isekai genre in a new direction. Slaying the Demon King? Pfft! Who cares!? Trying to get home? What’s to go home to!? But hey, this world doesn’t have books, let’s make some! Ascendance follows the story of a teenage girl reborn into a little girl’s frail body. As she comes to learn about the new world she’s been reborn into she makes the upsetting discovery that books are an absolute rarity. Unwilling to accept her fate, Main, sets about finding a way to make the medium she so loves a reality. The series does an incredible job of taking the basic Isekai building blocks, mixing a little easy going slice of life in, and crafting a story that feels unique, making it a breath of fresh air for anyone who wants a wildly different approach to the Isekai genre.
Linny: Vinland Saga takes you on a grand barbaric journey following the vicious Vikings through the eyes of Thorfinn, a boy out for revenge, and several others characters seeking power, with plenty of big reveals involving political intrigue and personal drama. However, a slow burner of a start and long build up to gripping characters and narrative might prove to be too much for some audiences., keeping it from Fall’s Best of spot. But the sheer animation on hand, and the eventual heights the series reaches make it a title you still shouldn’t skip out on either.
Tom’s Personal Pick of the Year:
Tom: 2019 was a bit of a tough year for new anime. The year was filled with a lot of duds. But I want to use my personal pick to call out what I’ve dubbed 2019’s ‘safe pick.’ Don’t have any big new anime catching your eye but still want something to veg out with? Iruma-kun is a perfect fit then. The series follows Iruma as a demon abducts him– and makes the boy his grandchild? Iruma must then attend demon school and try to live this new life without arousing suspicion, because see- Demons eat humans. It’s a fun shonen comedy with plenty of quirky characters, little offensive material, and feels fairly original in terms of story content. It’s not remarkable, suffers animation dips, and is never outrageously funny, but it’s one of 2019’s titles that’s perfect for when you’re stuck for what to watch.
Linny’s Personal Pick of the Year:
Linny: Just as Run with the Wind refreshed the sports anime genre by featuring a more mature cast, Stars Align mashed sports and slice of life to produce a very unusual show; a show that’s definitely not for everyone given that it touches upon various upsetting topics like child abuse and toxic parent-child tensions. However, for those seeking a somewhat sombre and almost realistic look at how life can be sweet one minute and horrifying the next, Stars Align is worth a look in. Unfortunately, the show ends on a very abrupt and extremely dark cliffhanger (mainly due to sudden production issues) and that might be a deal breaker for some. Nevertheless, Stars Align is something I must definitely point out to anyone in the market for an uncommon story.
And Finally: Winner of AllYourAnime.Net’s Best of 2019 Awards:
Best Anime of the Year:
Tom: There can only be one top 2019 anime and that title belongs to Wasteful Days without a doubt. It’s an outrageous comedy in the same vein as Daily Lives of High School Boys, but feels like it’s own thing thanks to hilarious characters bathed in their own brand of comedic antics. The series is hilarious from episode one and never gets old. Every character gets a chance to shine and no one feels underused by the end of the season. Heck, I was praying for a Season 2 announcement by the time the credits rolled and usually I’m done with an anime after 12 or 24 episodes. There’s a few missteps here or there, and a problematic joke or two, but the highs out weigh all the lows to an incredible degree, making this one comedy anime you simply cannot miss out on.
Linny: What can I say about this show that I haven’t already gushed about. Wasteful Days of High School Girls takes a class full of misfits and weirdos and turns them into frustrating, lovable characters that take the ordinary and turn it into rib-tickling mayhem comedy. The show dazzles with its ability to come up with the most random reactions to inane daily life situations and also being able to take one joke and rework it episode to episode. If you watched nothing else from 2019, at least make sure you go back for Wasteful Days.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment and let us know which Anime you feel are the best of 2019.