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Previous years: 2016, 2017, 2018
My motivation has been lower than ever this past year, as evidenced by the fact that I’m posting this in April. 2019 was a pretty sad year for me in terms of reading, but I’m hoping to fix that up this year (not that the current state of the world is helping much). You may notice the lack of pictures; it's because I honestly can't be bothered. Maybe I'll add some later.
Mob's adventures continue.
There’s not much to say about season two that I haven’t already said about season one. I will say that Reigen and Mob’s reconciliation after he’s revealed as a fraud is probably my favorite scene in the series, and I think the anime did it justice. I’m excited for season three (which I suspect will be the final one).
OPM returns to television, animated by a new studio.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! I was already concerned when J.C. Staff took over animation for season 2, but I held out hope that they would at least try to replicate Madhouse’s animation style going forward. Those hopes have been thoroughly dashed.
It's a real bummer, because this arc was one of my favorites in the manga, and I really like both Garou and Fubuki as characters. I doubt I'll be watching the anime going forward; I'll stick with the manga instead.
Undead idols try to make it big.
This show was the big thing last year, so of course I watched it this year. It was pretty funny, although I haven’t watched enough idol anime to really appreciate the parodic aspects of it. Gets a lot of points for character design.
Three middle school boys who can transform in kappas try save the world.
Any show of Ikuhara’s is bound to be held to pretty high standards; Sarazanmai met those standards, although it didn’t exceed them. Compared to his earlier work, I liked Sarazanmai more than Yurikuma, but less than Penguindrum and Utena.
My greatest complaint is that, much like Yurikuma, Sarazanmai tries so hard to be allegorical about everything that the plot ends up all over the place. People have voiced this complaint about Penguindrum too, but I think that Penguindrum did a pretty solid job of keeping track of its symbols and themes and integrating them into a single, cohesive storyline; Sarazanmai did not. That being said, the characters were very likable, and the animation and soundtrack were phenomenal.
Imagine Dragon Ball, but fucked up.
Read the first hundred chapters or so of the manga when I was fourteen, but only got through the first two arcs of the anime, so I decided to finish it up. I’m pretty shocked that it took me until now to really appreciate this series, I guess that back when I first read it it sort of got buried among all the other shounen I was into at the time. But there’s a lot of awesome stuff in this series; the character writing is incredibly strong, and the plot does a lot of unique things for a shounen. And despite having an all male main cast, most of the female characters are handled pretty well (not that it’s a particularly high bar).
If I had to pick something to complain about, the long explanations of character abilities and battle strategies got boring pretty quickly. And as with most shounen, any fights that lasted more than one episode (or 2 chapters) were a total snoozefest. The chimera ant arc was particularly guilty of this, although it was totally worth it just for Meruem and Komugi’s relationship. The conclusion of their story was probably the most powerful scene of the year; I liked it so much that I went back to finish the chimera ant arc in the manga as well, which was even better. Currently working on the dark continent arc; considering Togashi’s activity this year, I should have plenty of time to get caught up.
A research psychologist tries to help her patients by entering their dreams.
Super weird movie. The visuals were amazing though, and I really like that the love interest wasn’t conventionally attractive.
Mechas and martians and fire (oh my!)
It seemed like this movie was all anyone was talking about at the end of this year. I was fine with that though, because the movie was pretty enjoyable. Galo and Lio’s relationship was awesome, as was the music and visuals. I was a bit disappointed in the female characters department; Aina didn’t interest me at all, and the two girls I did like, Heris and Lucia, played comparatively small roles.
The alien reveal felt really random and tacked-on, but I guess this is Studio Trigger we're talking about.
I can’t believe I watched this movie at the beginning of the year… 2019 has felt unusually long. Anyway, I don’t like Spiderman, Marvel, or even superheroes in general; with that taken into consideration, I enjoyed this movie about as much as I could ever imagine myself enjoying a movie of this nature. The animation and visual effects were great, I actually liked most of the characters, and there were some funny moments. Bonus points for having a great female villain.
This doesn’t really count as animation, but it’s Pokemon so I’m including it. Really dumb story but it gets a bit of a pass for being a kids’ movie. The CGI was awesome, the Pokemon designs struck the perfect balance between being somewhat realistic while maintaining the essence of their original design. The Bulbasaur scene was visually stunning. I also didn’t hate the acting, and the Pikachu character was surprisingly tolerable.
Transgender teens work at a maid cafe.
HXH excluded, this was probably manga of the year. A super cute LGBT story that gets surprisingly deep and tackles a wide array of issues. I also found the main couple to be surprisingly cute, which is kind of rare for me. Plus, adorable art, and lots of fun outfits to collect.
Despite not having the most original storyline, the manga sets itself apart from other wizard-in-training type stories by establishing clear and specific rules regarding both the legal and physical boundaries of magic. That, combined with the incredible artwork, made the series a really fun read despite the fairly basic characters.
I’ll always love One Piece, but the Wano arc has just not been doing it for me. I’m probably about ten chapters behind at this point, I keep trying to catch up and quickly losing interest. I don’t even remember this year’s major plot points enough to criticize them more specifically… we got Oden’s backstory, and a ton of foreshadowing for this giant cataclysmic war that we have yet to actually see. Overall, there’s been way too much focus on side characters and useless exposition. This story is supposed to be about the Straw Hats, dammit!
I really enjoyed seeing Mei Ling's backstory this year, she's probably the only prominent female character in the series that I don't actively dislike, and now that she has some character content I can even say that I like her a little. Not much else has happened this year; we still don’t know Ciel’s real name, what Soma is up to, etc.
Despite being one of the "big things" this year, I lost interest in this game pretty quickly. The problem with introducing other gameplay elements to a Fire Emblem game is that it makes the actual battles incredibly boring by comparison. I'd definitely like to return to it someday though, because it has great characters. I felt a little cheated by Crimson Flower; despite being undeniably the most interesting idea for a route, the execution was the weakest.
Various small pixel RPGs.
Decided to knock out a few more of these this year. Lisa is notable in that I've tried to play it roughly once a year for the past five years, and only now managed to actually finish it; the spider maze is a fucking nightmare. I quite liked Starbot and Paranoiac, but all the other games were incredibly bleak. At least Mermaid Swamp was actually scary, while Cloé's Requiem and Blank Dream were just... upsetting.
The Crooked Man, The Sandman, The Boogie Man, and The Hanged Man.
This was a fun series made by the creator of Mermaid Swamp and Paranoiac from the previous entry. The first game was a horror game, but the later installments felt more like adventure RPGs with the occasional creepiness. The Sandman was probably my favorite, it was whimsical and I liked Sophie as a protagonist. The last two games were still fun but not as interesting, and the voice acting could be downright cringeworthy at times.
I figured this deserved its own entry separate from the other "generally just a bummer" games, because it was very interesting and a lot more complex than a lot of other pixel RPGs in terms of length and content (it's somewhat comparable to OFF or Undertale in terms of gameplay). But YIKES, what a downer! I'm glad I played it, but I don't know if I ever want to again; it really tends to kick you while you're already down. The art was amazing though.
Like Danganronpa, but better.
Yes, uh... I really enjoyed this. For an indie game, it was way more creative and well-written than I ever would have expected. The characters feel like real people and not just walking tropes, which gives the story so much more emotional levity than other "murder game" stories. I'm really looking forward to the third chapter.
Another pixel RPG that was complex enough to deserve its own entry. I liked the meta storytelling style and the characters, although Ashe's constantly shifting loyalties frustrate me (I know that that's the point, but still). I'm hoping for a golden ending where nobody has to die, but I suppose I'd settle for one in which Noel, Claire, and Sirius are happy. Just like End Roll, this one had really impressive pixel art.
I really tried to convince myself not to buy this because I hate to support the continuing quality deterioration of a series I love, but I caved pretty quickly when I saw some of the character designs. I’m glad I bought it, and I certainly enjoyed it more than Let’s Go Eevee, but I still had a number of complaints.
Let’s start with the stuff I genuinely liked about the series: I liked many of the new Pokemon, especially Wooloo, Alcremie, and Galarian Corsola (the latter being the reason I chose Shield over Sword, despite the goofy-looking legendary). I liked Sonia and Raihan. I LOVED Opal (probably the highlight of the game, at least in the character department). I liked the designs for most of the other gym leaders, although none of them were particularly interesting otherwise. The character customization was on par with Kalos, aside from all the hats looking kind of stupid. The scenery in a lot of the towns was quite pretty. The trainer card system was really fun, although I wish there was a way to save your old cards (aside from just screenshotting them).
And now, the complaints. The wild area was stupid and lazy. Gigantamaxing was stupid (and lazy). Cooperative raids didn’t interest me at all. Poke jobs and making curry could have been fun, but they ended up being pretty lame. I didn’t really like the starters, and Sobble’s final evolution was such a turn-off that I had to pick Scorbunny instead. Of course, not being able to use a water type was fairly inconsequential, because the game difficulty was low; I played through the whole thing without ever using the Gigantamax feature, just to give myself a bit of a challenge. Team Yell really felt like a knock-off Team Skull and didn’t even do anything interesting. Dexit sucks, but it doesn’t affect me much since I prefer to use new Pokemon each game anyway. My primary issue with the game is that it does nothing new. After a slight change in the status quo with Sun and Moon, Sword and Shield just goes right back to the same gym leaders/elite four/champion system that has been in place for twenty years. It’s becoming dull. At least Sun and Moon tried to shake things up a bit, even if they weren’t exceedingly successful.
-Mob Psycho 100 continues to be visually stunning.
-Promare and Paprika certainly did not disappoint in this department.
-Honorable mention to Sarazanmai and Into the Spiderverse.
-Witch Hat Atelier.
-Honorable mention to End Roll and Witch's Heart for great pixel art.
-The entire Promare soundtrack was pretty killer.
-Rouge's theme from Witch's Heart.
-Chimera Ant arc ending.
-Honorable mention to Chikai and Toi's moment in Sarazanmai episode 9.
-Funniest read of the year definitely goes to Gokushufudou, which I couldn't bother to include but would definitely recommend.
-Honorable mention to Zombieland Saga and Hunter x Hunter, which both had some hilarious moments.
-Komugi and Meruem from Hunter x Hunter.
-Honorable mention to Atsuko and Kousaku from Paprika and Mogumu and Tetsu from Fukaboku.
-I'll also give another shoutout to Gokushufudou I guess. Woman-respecting spike!
-Sara and Joe from Your Turn to Die.
-Gon and Killua from Hunter x Hunter.
-Honorable mention to Galo and Lio from Promare (actually, maybe I should've put that in the romantic section... hmm...)
-Killua from Hunter x Hunter.
-Maybe it's cheating to put Reigen here two years in a row, but I'm doing it anyway.
-Honorable mentions to Toi Kuji from Sarazanmai and Ferdinand from Three Houses.
-Alluka and Komugi from Hunter x Hunter.
-Honorable mentions to Opal from Pokemon, Lily Hoshikawa, and Edelgard von Hresvelg.
-Any Hunter x Hunter scene with Hisoka being horny.
-One Piece's array of 20-chapter long flashbacks about characters I don't care about.
-Whatever the hell Hisoka and Illumi have going on.
-I must once again place Momonosuke here, I hate that brat. Kin'emon deserves a spot here as well just for being extremely dull.
-Palm from Hunter x Hunter. She's just as gross as Hisoka, yet doesn't even serve a narrative purpose.