Winter 2019 has had its ups and downs throughout but regardless of my final thoughts, I had a lot of fun this season. There was always something to look forward to and as some shows faltered, others rallied. While I know some shows are ongoing and some have not yet aired final episodes (and in the case of Boogiepop wa Warawanai I’m just hopelessly behind), this is my final standings for the Winter season.
In the listing I’ve commented on where the series was at the mid-season point in the list and whether it has moved or not but if you want to see my mid-season thoughts they are here.
Hopefully you enjoy and remember the results of the reader’s poll will come out later today.
- Boogiepop wa Warawanai
- Domestic Girlfriend
- Grimms Notes
- Kaguya-Sama: Love is War
- Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka
- Meiji Tokyo Renka
- My Roommate is a Cat
- Run With The Wind
- Sword Art Online Alicization
- The Morose Mononokean
- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
- The Price of Smiles
- The Promised Neverland
- The Rising of the Shield Hero
Number 15: Boogiepop wa Warawanai
Previously placed at position 13. It didn’t even deliver the little that was expected.
I was vaguely hopeful that this one would improve, but realistically I’m struggling just to convince myself to finish watching it. It has continued to be a meandering mess and while some have enjoyed the mystery I’ve mostly just found it frustrating.
Not aided by ugly visuals and characters that are pretty bland, there’s very little compelling me to keep going with this but I will finish it at this point. I kind of feel I past the point of no return a while a go. Still, if I wanted to pick the series on my watch list that I most regret watching, Boogiepop would be it.
- Episode 1: Leaving the Audience on the Outside in Boogiepop
- Episode 2: Boogiepop Begins To Reveals Its Secrets
- Episode 3: Disorderly and Dull, Perhaps the Worst Things for a Story To Be
- Episode 4: The Sprouting of a New Imaginator in Boogiepop
- Episode 5: Weak Introductions To Characters We’ll Never Know
- Episode 6: Beward the Dull and Languid Pacing
- Episode 7: The Interesting Premise That Just Keeps Putting Me To Sleep
- Episode 8: Things Finally Seem to be Popping Along
- Episodes 9 and 10: The End of the Imaginator and The Start of a New Arc
- Episode 11: An Enemy of the World
- Episode 12 and 13: Pop Goes the Fear Ghoul?
- Images from: Boogipop wa Warawanai (2019). Dir. S Natsume. Madhouse. 2019.
Number 14: Grimms Notes
Previously placed at position 15, Grimms Notes continued to underwhelm.
While it would be nice to say that it managed to pull its narrative and characters together, mostly I just felt this one oozed wasted potential until the very end. Not that there weren’t some fun moments along the way, but it just never felt satisfying to watch.
It isn’t all bad news with some of the character moments being cute enough and having a simple ‘save the story zone’ plot each week. Even if the main story line felt hopelessly underdeveloped and the themes unexplored, it wasn’t as if this ever became unwatchable.
- Episode 1: This Fairy Tale Oozes a Lack of Imagination
- Episode 2: The Fine Art of Not Explaining Things
- Episode 3: In The Absence Of Direction, Make Your Fate
- Episode 4: Are Destiny and Fate Really All Just Written?
- Episode 5: The Death of the Dream, the Birth of a Despairing Villain
- Episode 6: Every Episode Makes Me Question Their Motives More
- Episodes 7 and 8: The Outlook is Grimm
- Episode 9: This Story is Getting a Little Grimm
- Episode 10: In The Absence of a Reasonable Argument, Rely on Sophistry
- Episode 11: Alice The Disciplinarian in Wonderless Land
- Episode 12: I’m Left Not Disappointed As I Expected Nothing
- Images from: Grimms Notes. Dir. S Shizutaka. Brain’s Base. 2019.
Number 13: Sword Art Online Alicization
Previously at position 10, how this has fallen.
I was disappointed when Sword Art Online Alicization was only managing position 10, and yet honestly I can’t say this has gotten any better. If anything, the faults with the pacing, character motives, exposition, and just idiocy have gotten worse to the point where I’m honestly wondering whether to keep going with episode reviews when it continues or whether to just let this one go and review it once they finally finish it.
An increasingly frustrating and underwhelming watch full of babble about things that barely make sense even in the context of the story, and characters who essentially break the rules of the world at will, it all just became fairly tiresome to watch this season.
- Alicization Episode 1: SAO is Back, But Does it Work?
- Alicization Episode 2: He’s Back in the Game
- Alicization Episode 3: Oh Look, A Shiny New Sword
- Alicization Episode 4: Kirito is Back
- Alicization Episode 5: Asuna’s Turn
- Alicization Episode 6: In The Absence of Action, We Get Attack of the Talking Heads
- Alicization Episode 7: Can Eugeo Find the Confidence to Be Independent?
- Alicization Episode 8: How Does Kirito’s Belief in Himself Cause Success?
- Alicization Episode 9: Discover the Noble Spirit Hidden Within A Would Be Swordsman
- Alicization Episode 10: Warning Labels and Defeating Taboos in SAO
- Alicization Episode 11: Why More Time Isn’t Helping This Story
- Alicization Episode 12: Short Battle Followed By Attack of the Exposition
- Alicization Episode 13: SAO Now Presents the Information Dump To Defeat All Information Dumps
- Alicization Episode 14: Fire Meets Ice Before the Tower Climb
- Alicization Episode 15: Harsh Comparison of Experience and Naive Ignorance in Battle
- Alicization Episode 16: They Came, They Rode An Elevator, Now They’ll Fight
- Alicization Episode 17: They’ll Need Teamwork If They’re Going To Make It To The Top
- Alicization Episode 18: A Frosty Reception After A Clash of Ideologies
- Alicization Episode 18.5: Recap
- Alicization Episode 19: The Story of Brainwashing and Exploding Eye-Balls
- Alicization Episode 20: The Friend Turned Foe
- Alicization Episode 21: The Power of Friendship Strikes Back
- Alicization Episode 22: Anime Characters Should Not Review Their Own Episode
- Alicization Episode 23: Empty Promises Preceding Empty Actions
- Alicization Episode 24: And Apparently We’re Done For Now
- Images from: Sword Art Online Alicization. Dir. M Ono. A-1 Pictures. 2018.
Number 12: Kaguya-Sama Love is War
Previously and still position 12.
For a comedy anime it wasn’t bad. It isn’t really my style and to be honest outside of the occasional moment where the characters really clicked there were a lot of times where watching this was just kind of empty. Still, the visuals, animation and sound design of this one were pretty fantastic so I can’t fault the production in the slightest.
However, ultimately, if I’d stopped watching this one it wouldn’t have mattered. There was no compelling reason to keep going and while I can see why it appeals to some, it really isn’t speaking much to me.
- Episode 1: A Comedy About A Broken Philosophy on Love and Romance
- Episode 2: The Tools of War – Phones, Vacations and Love Advice
- Episode 3: Solid Visuals, Great Music, Average Most Everything Else
- Episode 4: All’s Fair In Love, War, And Welcoming Parties
- Episode 5: The Battleground of Love Advice, Volleyball and Umbrellas
- Episode 6: It Isn’t Paranoia When She’s Really Threatening To Kill You
- Episode 7 and 8: The Love War Flat-Lined
- Episode 9: Is It Terrible If I Call This Episode ‘The Cold War’?
- Episode 10: Passing the Olive Branch
- Episode 11: No Love, No War, No Real Interest
- Episode 12: Heartfelt Moment Undermined by ‘Humorous’ Conclusion
- Images from: Kaguya Sama: Love Is War. Dir. S Omata. A-1 Pictures. 2019.
Number 11: Endro
Previously placed at position 14, this one actually was kind of charming fun.
Despite the pastel colour scheme and cute girl antics, I actually did find this one entertaining from week to week. There were some moments that really just shone for both the story and the characters proving you really can take something fairly standard and make it shine if you put enough love and effort into it.
Honestly, this isn’t going to be something I watch again but if you like cute girl stories or just want a fun slice of life/comedy that has an adventurers setting thrown in, this is actually really cute and entertaining. The only reason it didn’t get higher up my list is because I’m just not that into cute girls and some of the friendship sequences made me roll my eyes hard.
- Episode 1: Another Cute Girls Beat Demon With A Time-Warp Twist
- Episode 2: The Important Qualities Of An Adventurous Leader
- Episode 3: Now We’re Searching For Fortune and Glory – And Cats
- Episode 4: They Went On Vacation And Somehow Saved The World
- Episode 5: A Princess in Pursuit of Her Hero
- Episode 6: The Sickly Sweet With A Lot Of Heart
- Episode 7 and 8: The Princess, The Hero and Everyone Else
- Episode 9 and 10: Apparently They Do Grow on Trees
- Episode 11: Sometimes Endro Gets It Just Right
- Episode 12: A Time For Choices
- Images from: Endro! Dir. Kaori. Studio Gokumi. 2019.
Number 10: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Previously position 7 there’s just no denying the second cour was ordinary.
After slowly warming up to the show in the first cour, the second cour that aired during Winter 2019 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was overwhelmingly average. Now source readers will pull out the ‘it gets better’ cards as well as explain that some bits were skipped over, but none of that changes the fact that the anime is most definitely average.
There were some cute moments and character encounters and a few fairly awesome moments in the occasional fight, but a lot of this second cour was sitting around talking, or introducing characters we were never given a reason to care about who effectively had their problems solved with minimum effort. It remained light and fun to watch but had absolutely nothing to hook the audience or to convince me this would ever be worth watching a second time.
- Episode 1 – Strictly Set Up
- Episode 2 – So I Ate A Dragon and A Snake And A Bat Thing…
- Episode 3 – Submissive Wolves and Buff Goblins
- Episode 4 – Dwarven Blacksmiths and Giggling Elves
- Episode 5 – Past Wrongs and Future Destinies
- Episode 6 – The Importance of Pacing To Build Tension
- Episode 7 – Miraculous Survival of the Slime
- Episode 8 – 3 Ways Slime Is Exploring Endings and Beginnings
- Episode 9 – Watch The Slime Playing with Powers and Defeating Ogres
- Episode 10 – Slime, Ogres and Lizardmen; The Coming Conflict Looks Colourful
- Episode 11 – The Worst Way To Learn the Skill of Diplomacy
- Episode 12 – How Even The Best Laid Plans Can Be Derailed by Idiots
- Episode 13 – War: Crushing March of the Overpowered Monsters
- Episode 14 – The Fitting End of the Orc Lord Courtesy of the Slime
- Episode 15 – The Accidental Creation of a Slime Nation
- Episode 16 – Can You Catch More Demon Lords with Honey?
- Episode 17 – That Time The Powerful Slime Decided To Dabble in Diplomacy
- Episode 18 – The Slime, The Demon Lord and The Flying Sharks?
- Episode 19 – That Time We Defeated a Catastrophe Without Really Trying
- Episode 20 – Well It’s Been Fun, But Now We’ll Count Down Until The End
- Episode 21 – Who Would Have Thought That All You Need Is A Dog And Unlimited Power?
- Episode 22 – That Time We Found a Fairy Who is a Demon Lord?
- Episode 23 – That Time The Show Ended And The Audience Wondered Why?
- Episode 24 (Extra) – And Then Shizue Stole the Anime Right Out From Under Rimuru
- Episode 24.5 (Padding) – Now Worth The Slime
- Images from: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8Bit. 2018.
Number 9: The Price of Smiles
Formally position 5. Okay, I was being optimistic.
It is almost scary how on the nose my prediction for this series was at the half-way point. I suspected we had a show that would simply kill off its characters towards the end and in the lead up to the final episode we had one prominent character death an episode all to serve the ‘war is bad’ slogan this anime seemed to want to plaster onto almost every episode. That doesn’t mean it was terrible. There was actually a lot of promise along the way. It just never quite delivered.
Still, there have certainly been worse mecha anime over the years and while the ending was foolishly optimistic and naive, much like the main character, I can’t say I’m upset with it. While The Price of Smiles never managed to break into being something truly good, it certainly skated along the edges of it and kept me hopeful throughout.
- Episode 1: Smile and the World Smiles With You – Maybe Not
- Episode 2: The Will To Keep a Smile Shining
- Episode 3: You Mean There’s People on the Other Side of a War?
- Episode 4: Rare Case When Naive Heroism Doesn’t Win The Day
- Episode 5: The Desperation of Both Sides in a War
- Episode 6: Where Will Yuuki Find Her Smile Now?
- Episodes 7 – 9: You Can Only Smile For So Long
- Episodes 10 – 11: Not About Who is Right, Only Who Is Left
- Episode 12: Bringing Back Smiles Through Over-Simplification
- Images from: Egao no Daika. Dir. T Suzuki. Tatsunoko Production. 2019.
Number 8: Domestic Girlfriend
Previously in 6th position.
Right, so you get what you expect when you keep watching a melodrama and as the story progresses they have to push to increasingly forced and silly methods to up the ante. That said, there is a certain delight in watching this train wreck unfold and while I wouldn’t say I actually like any of the characters, I kind of am curious about where they will ultimately end up.
This one somehow manages to be trashy without actually being trash and while it isn’t great it is also something that is hard to stop watching. While the occasional scene pushes the sexual content a little further than I’d like and the basic premise and the idea of teachers and students dating isn’t something I’m thrilled about, I can’t say that this is actually a bad watch. Not really one I’d jump to recommend but one that I’d honestly have to admit I’ve been enjoying despite the many complaints I might muster about it.
- Episode 1 – And He Thought This Was a One Night Stand
- Episode 2 – The Growing Bonds That Join These Characters
- Episode 3 – Why Not Prepare Popcorn For This Fantastic Drama?
- Episode 4 – Good Intentions; Questionable Activities: How Will This End?
- Episode 5 – The Rumour Mill Surrounding The Easy Girl
- Episode 6 – When In Doubt, Just Pile on More Characters and Stir
- Episode 7 – Domestic Dramas and More Mundane High School Problems
- Episode 8 and 9 – Making Choices and Hearing Truths
- Episode 10 – Natsuo, If You’re Going To Lie, Cover Your Tracks
- Episode 11 – Foolish Hearts and Foolish Choices
- Episode 12 – Fuelling Fiction Through Pain
- Images from: Domestic Girlfriend. Dir. S Ibata. Diomedea. 2019.
Number 7: The Rising of the Shield Hero
Previously in position 4.
I’m honestly pleasantly surprised that this one has remained as entertaining as it has. With Sword Art and Slime both plummeting in the ranks during the Winter season it seemed isekai fantasy was taking a serious downward turn. While there are plenty of points against Shield Hero in terms of pacing and at times characterisation, I’ve mostly had fun watching it and continue to look forward to how it rolls out this story.
While this one might also take a downward turn as it moves into a second cour, I’m kind of hopeful of this one just keeping things moving. And while the fights remain fresh, the story doesn’t linger for too long on any one part, and Naofumi continues to be an interesting character to watch, I’ll probably keep enjoying this even though I would hardly call it great.
- Light Novel Volume 1 Review
- Light Novel Volume 2 Review
- Light Novel Volume 3 Review
- Episode 1: What To Do When the World Turns Its Back On You?
- Episodes 1 – 3 With Arthifis
Number 6: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka
Down from position 3.
I kind of knew this one probably wouldn’t hold in the top 5 for the season but I was hopeful. A dark magical girl story that actually seemed willing to deal with the trauma a teenage girl would face if forced to fight to save the world and watch companions die? It is a good idea and at least provides some kind of grounding for the violence rather than just being opening gratuitous in killing off young characters grotesquely.
However, the execution both from thematically and in the delivery of the narrative have been somewhat lacking and once again we’re left with a show that is more concept than delivery. The over the top torture segments also don’t help to ground this as anything more than something trying to be sensationalist when actually there’s a reasonable attempt at exploring trauma and PTSD buried here but alas the show can’t give it the time or weight it needs between the other ideas it wants to cram in an a desire to imperil Asuka’s classmates. I didn’t mind this but I kept wanting more from it and by the final few episodes it was clear that it wasn’t going to deliver.
- Episode 1: What Happens When a Magical Girl With PTSD is Drawn Back Into War?
- Episode 2: Not Brushing Aside Trauma Makes For A Better Narrative
- Episode 3: And The Award For Creepiest Visuals of the Week Goes To…
- Episode 4: This Is Not How One Puts Together A Solid Plan
- Episode 5: Magical Trauma and Political Intrigue a Plenty
- Episode 6: Everybody Loses in a Magical War
- Episode 7: It’s Raining Magical Girls and Deals With Other Worlds
- Episode 8 and 9: The Dark Side of the Magical Girl Myth
- Episode 10: The Battle of the Magical Girls Begins
- Episode 11: Bring the Pain; It Won’t Stop These Magical Girls
- Episode 12: Magical Torture, Pain and the Unending War
- Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.
Number 5: Meiji Tokyo Renka
Formally in position 10 – nice climb.
While this one reeks of mediocrity in visuals and almost everything else, this is the anime I’ve gone back to again and again just to feel good and kick back and relax. There’s something incredibly fun and infectious about Mei as a character and the cast of guys surrounding her aren’t too shabby. The supernatural elements work well but it is Mei’s ongoing relationship with Ougai that really grabs your attention.
While I won’t say this improved as it went, it maintained its standard throughout and the characters are naturally charming enough to slowly make you warm to them and each episode feels just that little bit more fun than the last. Not one to be proclaimed a master-piece but for those who don’t mind the occasional reverse harem romp this one is certainly a fun time waster to fit into your viewing schedule.
- Episode 1: Alert! Time Travelling Heroine Surrounded by Pretty Boys!
- Episodes 1 – 4: Friendly Talks With Arthifis
- Episodes 5 – 9: Friendly Talks With Arthifis
- Episodes 10 – 12: Friendly Talks with Arthifis
- Images from: Meiji Tokyo Renka. Dir. A Daichi. TMS Entertainment. 2019.
Number 4: The Morose Mononokean
Previously number 8 on the list – this one exceeded expectations.
Season two of The Morose Mononokean continued to far outstrip season one and advanced the plot and character development in a way I’d been wishing the first season to but it just never got to. There is very little to complain about with this second season with almost everything being better than season one and the balance between yokai of the week episode and episodes developing the world and characters being pretty well thought out.
With cute yokai characters, conspiracies, blossoming powers and generally more supernatural fun, The Morose Mononokean ended up being one show I began to look forward to each weekend. The chats with Irina around the episodes were also a factor as watching a show is always better with friends, but honestly this one was a delight this Winter season.
- The Morose Mononokean Series Review
- Season 2 Episode 1
- Season 2 Episode 2
- Season 2 Episode 3
- Season 2 Episode 4
- Season 2 Episode 5
- Season 2 Episode 6
- Season 2 Episode 7
- Season 2 Episode 8
- Season 2 Episode 9
- Season 2 Episode 10
- Season 2 Episode 11
- Season 2 Episode 12
- Season 2 Episode 13
Number 3: My Roommate is a Cat
Previously number 9 on the list (that’s quite the rise).
If I was asked whether this got better as the season went on and whether that accounts for its rise, the answer would be a clear no. This isn’t a story that gets better. There’s a solid character journey for Subaru and one that I greatly appreciated which certainly accounts for a lot of its rise through the ranks, but what My Roommate is a Cat does brilliantly is deliver a fairly consistent performance. Tie in consistently meeting expectations week after week with concluding a character arc in a fairly coherent manner and My Roommate is a Cat might be decidedly average in a lot of ways but it was one that I found a very satisfying watch in the end.
This anime definitely demonstrates the power of simplicity in that it has a very simple gimmick with the cat narrating part of the episode from its perspective but otherwise the character count is low, the scenarios very low key, and things tie in together way too neatly for real life but in a way that makes for a fairly entertaining weekly watch. Not to mention, there’s a cat in it and apparently having a cat in it is something that makes a story recommendable.
- Episode 1: Adopt a Kitten, It Could Save Your Life
- Episode 2: If I Sit On It, It’s Mine – So Says The Cat
- Episode 3: The Beginning of the Journey For The Cat and The Writer
- Episode 4: From One Person To Another – Must Be A Conspiracy
- Episode 5: This Week Witness Happy Sparkles From Pet Ownership
- Episode 6: The Awkward Cat Belongs With An Awkward Human
- Episode 7: Finding Value In The Unexpected and Uncontrollable
- Episode 8 and 9: Dreaming of the Past and Protecting the Present
- Episode 10: The Quiet Joy of Sharing a Meal
- Episode 11: The Overnight Trip That Awakens Emotions
- Episode 12: You Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone
- Images from: My Roommate is a Cat. Dir. K Suzuki. Zero-G. 2019.
Number 2: The Promised Neverland
Remaining in second place.
I feel a bit bad for The Promised Neverland. Given the genre and style of story in almost any other season this one would have been a sure number one for me. Yet, opposite Run With the Wind that mostly didn’t rely on cliff-hangers to maintain viewer interest or suspense, I just can’t say that the gimmick filled Neverland is better even if I’m certainly enjoying it a lot.
The mark of a great story where I want to know what happens, where it keeps me guessing and theorising, and when the reveal is made it may not be what I thought but everything kind of clicks into place as all the anomalies and hints suddenly make sense even while a new mystery rises to be solved. The cast are charming, the setting thrilling, and all and all this one has been a delight to watch this season.
- Episode 1: The Promised Neverland’s First Episode Promises Much, Will It Deliver?
- Episode 2: Why Emma’s Lack of Compromise is Both Foolish and Brilliant
- Episode 3: How a Simple game Can Become Ominous
- Episode 4: The Best Way To Catch A Liar…
- Episode 5: The Friend of My Enemy Is… Maybe a Useful Information Source
- Episode 6: The Promise of a Traitor Times 2
- Episode 7: Playing With Fire (Or Trying to Deal With Sister Krone)
- Episode 8: After Making Us Wait, The Promised Neverland Is Going To Deliver
- Episode 9: The Promised Neverland Promises Yet More Pain
- Episode 10: Where to Without The Promise of Tomorrow?
- Episode 11: Someone Tell Ray That Self-Immolation Is Not A Plan
- Episode 12: The Great Escape
- Images from: The Promised Neverland. Dir. M Kanbe. CloverWorks. 2019.
Number 1: Run With The Wind
Maintaining first position.
While I never expected to like Run With The Wind that much, even with a fairly strong showing from The Promised Neverland, there just isn’t any reason to not make this my number one of the season. I’ve fallen in love with the team and through the final episodes I cried, I cheered, I cried some more and then I smiled through those tears in absolute delight. It really helps that every character had a moment to shine in those final episodes and each character journey felt like it was given time to draw to a conclusion. It was a lovely viewing experience and one I’m really glad I picked up.
Whether it was Shindo’s absolutely heroic actions during his leg of the race, the general camaraderie and support each member showed for the others, or the feat they accomplished together, there were just so many moments to celebrate. This anime is gorgeous, well put together and has just the perfect number of episodes to tell its story. For all that I do have some minor complaints, they are just that, minor. This is definitely my pick for must watch of the season.
- Episode 1 – Another character dragging others along in pursuit of their dreams.
- Episode 2 – The hard sell
- Episode 3 – As the wind blows
- Episode 4 – A wind of change
- Episode 5 – Scattered by the winds
- Episode 6 – No need to be frantic; It will all blow over soon
- Episode 7 – An opportunity to knock the wind clean out of their sails
- Episode 8 – The Downfalls of the Pursuit of Perfection
- Episode 9 – You Really Have To Step Back To See What’s There
- Episode 10 – How Run With The Wind Shows Us To Celebrate Effort Rather Than Achievement
- Episode 11 – Why Run With The Wind is an Oustanding Example of the Use of Sound
- Episode 12 – The Change of Seasons Welcomes a Changing Wind
- Episode 13 – Clearing the Air With The help of Friends
- Episode 14 – Facing Forward is Easier When You Know Someone Has Your Back
- Episode 15 – How Did They Make Me Start Caring?
- Episode 16 – The Moment Of Truth From All That Training
- Episode 17 – Should They Follow The Course Before Them?
- Episode 18 – May The Wind Be At Their Backs
- Episode 19 – They Are Three Runners Down With Seven To Go
- Episode 20 – Blowing Past Your Limits
- Episode 21 – Finding Your Own Wind
- Episode 22 – Running With The Wind And With Your Team
- Episode 23 – The Final Wind
- Images from: Run With the Wind. Dir. K Nomura. Production I.G. 2018.
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