Winter 2019 is an interesting season for me specifically because it feels like the polar opposite of last season. Last season there were all these big mainstream titles that got everyone really excited and me really depressed because I didn’t give a fuck about any of them. This season there are relatively few big mainstream releases, but a wealth of highly promising titles geared towards a smaller audience. Making me do a complete one eighty and jump for joy as I drool over this immense list of shows that I’m really excited to check out. To put it differently: if fall 2018 made me realize I just wasn’t as much into anime anymore as I used to be, winter 2019 is re-igniting that love for the medium..real freaking fast.
And so because of this rather large shift from last season, where last season I took to writing my list with a good deal of reluctance and a distinct lack of enthusiasm, right now I am excited as all hell and pumped to share with you all the shows that I am excited to check out this season and which you might, potentially, enjoy as well.
However, because there are so many shows I am really stoked to watch, going over every single one of them would make this list a monumental effort for me to write and for you to read. So instead I picked seven shows that I want to talk about in more depth with the rest getting brief mentions in advance.
Also because of this rather large schism between me and a good chunk of the anime community that I’ve noticed as of late I’ve decided to do things a little differently this year. Rather than ranking my list in order of least to most anticipated I’ve decided not to rank them at all and just place them in arbitrary order. This is because I’ve noticed recently that these lists have become increasingly about me and my taste and less and less about which shows might actually be worth checking out. So, this time I’m just listing the stuff that seems promising to me and you can decide for yourself which ones seem more promising than the others. There is however one exception to this rule and that is the number 1 spot which is most definitely my most anticipated anime for this upcoming season. The reason for this is that I have been hyping this show for months now and so not placing that at the top spot would really not fool anyone.
So, with that out of the way let us dive into what for me is looking like an absolute treat of a season. For many of you it will probably be a bit different and likewise I cannot guarantee that any of the shows that are of interest to me will also be to you. But my hope is that at least some of them you might end up finding quite enjoyable.
Before we get to the main list let me point out a good number of shows that might also be worthy of your attention. The reason they didn’t make it onto the list proper is not because I don’t think they will end up any good. But rather because, for one reason or another, I don’t have all that much to say about them prior to airing. But they certainly do all seem like very promising shows so by all means, go check them out if any or maybe even all of them sound like something you would enjoy.
Let’s start with the two big sequels this season: Mob Psycho 100 – season 2 and Kakegurui – season 2. While I personally enjoyed the latter far more than the former, I am excited for both and if you enjoyed the original of either or both of these shows you should be too. Also, if you’ve not gotten into either of them…you really should. Because trust me everyone needs GAMBURU!!! In their lives.
Next up we have Girly Air Force whose premise reads like “what if Arpeggio of Blue Steel but planes” and I am enough of an Arpeggio fan for that to sound quite fun to me.
Endro is also on this list because a show about four girls destined to defeat the demon king who then go “fuck this we wanna drink tea and re-enact scenes from K-on” is something I never knew I wanted in my life until I got it.
Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki Atama no Ue or as I like to call it “He and his Cat” is here because I really freaking love cats and since my lifestyle doesn’t really allow for any pets, I’ll just have to vicariously life my perfect pet owner live through a fictional character. Also, I have a feeling this show is going to be much more emotionally investing than the promotional material makes it seem.
Lastly the Boogiepop Phantom light novel series is getting a new adaptation which should be of particular note both to fans of the original anime (such as myself) and those interested in urban fantasy and supernatural horror alike.
And now for something completely different…the actual list. Because yes believe it or not…this was just the warmup.
7. The Magnificent Kotobuki
Genre: adventure, sci fi, slice of life
Director: Tsutomu Mizushima
Writer: Michiko Yokote
Premiere date: January 13
I love anime that’s complex, challenging and really requires me to invest heavily emotionally and ponder the many ideas and the themes of what I’m watching. But sometimes I just want to sit back and let a show wash over me without having to think too much. Just a simple story that I can take in and enjoy and then move on with my day. I believe this is that show for me this season. Even moreso than He and his Cat which, as I said, I’m expecting to get rather emotional rather quickly. This show however really seems to be a very lighthearted slice of life show with some cool aerial dogfights thrown in for good measure.
The premise also sounds quite unique, focusing on an all-female squad of fighter pilots trying to make a living in a barren wasteland. It sounds all rather bleak but if the PVs are anything to go by it will be anything but. The thing that might turn some people off though is the fact that it is a full CG anime and that is still something that a lot of people have problems with.
However, if you don’t mind that aspect of the show and you are looking for a simple anime that’s just fun to watch without requiring anything from the viewer…this would be my recommendation for this upcoming season.
6. Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka
Genre: action, fantasy, seinen
Director: Hideyo Yamamoto
Writer: Makoto Fukami (source) Norimitsu Kaihou (adaptation)
Premiere date: January 12
This is another series that I expect to be able to enjoy without having to think too hard but in a very different manner. Where with The Magnificent Kotobuki the series strikes me as a very sweet and innocent show with this one I’m fully expecting every episode to be a complete massacre!
I’ve been hyped for this show for a good while. It’s a completely unconventional take on the Magical Girl genre verging more towards military sci fi than anything you’d expect on daytime television. The story centers around the titular Asuka who was once the greatest magical girl that ever lived. But after losing her entire squad three years ago, she has moved away from the calling and now tries, as best she can, to live a peaceful life whilst fighting her own inner demons. Of course, that doesn’t last long as a new horde of the same monstrous beings she fought three years ago re-emerges and she is once again conscripted back into the army, once again waging war against these evil beings. But this time it’s not for country or glory. It’s to protect those she cares most about and to make sure that no one she has come to care for will die on her watch.
What I want out of this show is cool action and lots of it. But I am also interested in seeing how Asuka herself will develop over the course of the series. The synopsis heavily implies that she is suffering from PTSD and I’m interested to see how being forced back into the fray will affect that. I also find it interesting that she doesn’t fight for all of humanity or even basic concepts like justice as this is kind of a core ingredient of the magical girl genre. Instead she fights only to protect specific people. It’s an interesting little twist on the formula and I’m curious to see where the show is going to take that.
To be fair I’m not sure if this show will end up doing any of those things but even without all of that I can’t help but feel that this show will definitely be one of the more entertaining anime this season.
Genre: drama, fantasy, action, shonen
Director: Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Writer: Osamu Tezuka (source) Yasuko Kobayashi (adaptation)
Premiere date: January 7
Hardboiled, gritty and boasting lots of cool sword fights. This is the show for me this season. A quintessentially Japanese fantasy series with a protagonist who’s lost almost everything both physical and mentally.
The series begins with the titular character Dororo who’s taken in by a demon hunting Ronin by the name of Hyakkimaru. As a result of a pact his father made with several demons, Hyakkimaru was born with 40 body parts missing from his body. However, this pitiful creature would grow up to be the most powerful demon hunter to have ever lived. Hyakkimaru himself only cares about one thing: defeating the 40 demons his father made a pact with and getting back the body parts that were stolen from him. But his singular minded vision at life all changes when he meets Dororo. The little kid who could become his reason to truly live, or his ultimate undoing.
The original manga for this series was published in the late 60s and while there was a similarly titled anime in 1969, that series was a very watered-down version of the source material as the original material was simply too risky and disturbing for what at the time was a form of entertainment purely geared towards young audiences. However, times have changed and with the state of anime nowadays I believe this all new 12-episode adaptation can make for a much more faithful retelling of the original story as well as a phenomenal series in its own right. In fact, were it not for another series that took the top spot on this list this would have been my blind pick for best anime of winter 2018.
Of course, none of this is certain until we’ve seen at least some of what it has to offer, and we’ll have to wait for January 7 for that. But, based on everything that we do know about this series, I have to say this is without a doubt one of my most highly anticipated anime of this season and one that I have been looking forward to watching for more than a few months now. I honestly cannot wait to experience the story of Hyakkimaru myself and see him grow from a heavily disfigured outcast into a mighty demon hunter and see how his relationship with this destitute orphan is going to affect him and change his look at life. This has the potential to be one of this year’s best anime. And even if it’s not, everything that I’ve seen from this show makes me believe that this will be an absolute sight to behold.
Genre: action, sci fi
Director: Goro Taniguchi
Writer: Makoto Fukami
Premiere date: January 9
A typical Japanese teenager being transported to a different world is hardly a novel concept in anime nowadays. But what if instead of just one guy it’s a whole group of teenagers and what if instead of some stereo-typical fantasy world which may or may not be an MMORPG it’s in fact a desolate wasteland that is in fact not another world but rather our world 3000 years into the future. Now do I have your attention?
Revisions seems to be a bit of a fusion between the isekai and time travel sub-genres. Part monster slaying romp, part mecha action and with a time travel mystery plot thrown in for good measure. What really interests me though is the social aspect as the concept of one person being the fish out of water lends itself to a lot less exploration of group dynamics and social structures then you would get if you have an entire group of people in that situation. I am interested to seeing how each of the characters will deal with this unexpected and rather catastrophic turn for them. I also quite like the setting as we’ve had shows in barren wastelands filled with monsters but never as an isekai series and the mechs add yet another interesting angle to this setting which I hope will be explored in more depth over the course of the series itself.
That being said, I am not convinced this series will be anything more than just average and to me it feels like it is trying to do to many things at once, which might lead to the show failing at all of them. I am however fairly convinced that this show will be entertaining and fun to watch, if nothing else.
3. Kaguya-Sama - Love is War
Genre: comedy, psychological, romance, seinen
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Shinichi Omata
Writer: Aka Akasaka (source) Yasuhiro Nakanashi (adaptation)
Premiere date: January 12
Wait…Kerberos is interested in a high school rom-com? My god it must truly be the end of times! Well I don’t know about the end of times thing, but I can explain very easily why, for once in my life, I’m interested in a high school rom-com…Because it’s basically Kakegurui but with a romance twist. The similarities are so striking that I actually looked up if they were perhaps written by the same author. (turns out that’s not the case)
I am not expecting this show to be great or even good. But I am expecting it to be entertaining. Promising a series of increasingly convoluted mind games that our protagonists conceive to make the other confess their love first. In short, it’s a rom-com for people who would much rather watch a tense battle of wits between two geniuses than any kind of sappy romance story between two doe-eyed teens. In other words, this is the rom-com for me.
This is definitely not going to be a show for everyone and I fully expect the reception after its first episode to be very mixed. But I’m also fairly certain I’m going to really quite enjoy this series and maybe even stick with it till the very end. So, if you’re anything like me and a rom-com about two intellectual powerhouses making fools of themselves because they are both too afraid to admit their feeling for one another sounds like your cup of tea then this might well be something worth checking out. And if not…well there’s plenty of other promising stuff this season. Like the next entry on this list.
Genre: action, sci fi, mystery
Number of episodes: 12
Premiere date: January 9
If there was one anime that managed to stay under my radar for far too long it’s this one. Based on an award winning short from 2012 by Tatsumi – the eccentric director best known nowadays for the completely unexpected smash hit Kemono Friends. Like that series this one is completely CG and like that series I expect this one to be quite rough around the edges from a production standpoint.
The problem here is that the only substantial piece of promotional material out there for this show that can give us a glimpse of what to expect from it is said short. Thankfully Tatsuki was nice enough to upload it onto his own YouTube channel so that it can be watched by everyone at zero cost. unfortunately though, it does not come English subtitles embedded. That being said, even without the subs and the overall very rough animation, this was honestly a breathtaking experience. Had this been any other season this would have been my most anticipated anime of that season, hands down.
From the gut-wrenching opening scene to the pulse pounding finale, this brief thirty minute short managed to include a complete character arc for its main character that, even without understanding the finer details of the plot, was incredibly rewarding to watch.
The premise of this show is quite unique. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that’s eternally clouded in a red fog, the series follows a series of not entirely human girls as they battle against mechanical monsters known as mushi. The impression I got from this short is that it combines the heavy sci fi and hardboiled tone of something like Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! With an art style more akin to well…Kemono Friends. Again, it sounds really weird and it is, but if you give it time...it will entrance you. About two minutes in I was able to completely look past the production values as I was so immersed in this strange world and the people that inhabited it. Overall this was a phenomenal short and easily one of the best anime I’ve seen all year.
Of course, there is one major issue I’m gleefully dancing around here. Just because Kemurikusa made for a fantastic short doesn’t mean it will also make for a fantastic full-length series and I will admit I am afraid the series is going to run out of steam early and just slowly fizzle out instead of blowing me away from start to finish. But even with that in mind I am still hype as all hell for this and seriously cannot wait to watch it.
And now for the only one that is actually ranked as this is without a single doubt my most anticipated anime of this season!
1: The Promised Neverland
Genre: horror, adventure, mystery, drama, shonen
Director: Mamoru Kanbe
Writer: Kaiu Shirai (source) Toshiya Ono (adaptation)
Number of episodes: 12
Premiere date: January 10
A while back I picked up the first volume of a manga that I’d heard some good things about but really didn’t know what it was all about. By the time I had finished that volume I was completely wrecked and instantly wantd to read the next one. That manga was The Promised Neverland and having now read the 7 volumes that are available at this time, this anime adaptation is not a tentative recommendation like the others but a full on recommendation of the Kerberos Recommended variety. This show you NEED to watch. Not because I say so but because not doing so would be depriving yourself of what I can only imagine will be one of the best experiences you’ll have this year.
The story I’m not going to say anything about because I feel the less you know in advance the better the experience will be. So instead I’m going to throw in some staff names to make sure that if you were still on that fence…now would be the time to get off it right quick. So, the director is Mamoru Kanbe who’s previous directing credit was The Perfect Insider, a series that suffered from spotty writing in places but featured stunning visual direction. However, he also directed the incredibly obscure but absolutely fantastic two-episode mystery OVA Denpa Teki na Kanojo. Oh and he directed Elfen Lied so er…yeah…there’s that. Series composition will be handled by Toshiya Ono whose prior work includes Gatchaman Crowds, Tsuritama and one of the best shows of 2017: Land of the Lustrous. The opening will be performed by UVERworld who most recently did the opening for season 3 of My Hero Academia.
That being said The Promised Neverland has already been confirmed of only being 12 episodes in length and with the original manga still ongoing the chances of a complete story are practically zilch. But even with that in mind I can all but guarantee that this will be one of the most nerve-wrecking and heart breaking yet incredibly sattisfying watches of the year. And that is why this is my most anticipated anime of this season and why I once again re-iterate: please, do yourself a favor and go watch this series. I highly doubt you will come out disapointed.
And that’s a wrap for this list! It’s more than possible I missed some big upcoming show that will become the new big hit instead of anything I talked about but yeah…these are the shows I am most looking forward to. It’s a huge list and I am personally immensely looking forward to checking out all of them. 2019 is promising to be quite a good year for anime and I’m very curious to see how the next three seasons will perform in comparison to this one. Here’s hoping for an entire year with seasons like this one and may we all enjoy this wonderful artform for a long time to come.
See You Space Cowboys…