This is, I believe, the only time I’ve been behind on an anime of the year post – and I don’t just mean within this current iteration of the blog, but including all the deleted years worth of content too. I feel bad about it, but I also don’t really care. It’s here and if you care at all about my opinions then you don’t mind it being a little late especially with how many times I’ve explained why this blog was so slow all year; from losing my fucking home thanks to shitty people and direct threats of being shot to death from those same people to loads of social drama thanks to VRChat as I’ve mentioned already. Besides, today is my birthday so there you go my present to all 5 of you.
Also, a day before I planned to post this and had finally finished aside adding images I managed to be banned from twitter for a long-ish period of time from what was ironically the least rule-breaking thing I’ve posted in a long time because their awful computers just randomly decide things apparently. And the thing is a few people that I know read my stuff follow me on there and follow my posts being made via that as well, and I’d want them to know this and other posts even got made so I had to wait until the ban was lifted to post this which made it much much later than it already was.
If you follow me on twitter (I keep it locked up so you probably don’t, but just in case) then follow https://twitter.com/SenCheesecake – the account isn’t used for anything and won’t add to your timeline but I am on very good terms with this Senator in the Dark Assembly and they will lead you to my new account if the need ever comes up again.
Anyway the last year or so has been rough, and like I explained in the awards post, a lot of things I wanted to really try I didn’t get to. However, I do feel very solid on these choices (well the top 4) regardless and nothing else that came out would have likely trumped any of these so I don’t think having to PTW so much this year impacts it at all because what I did watch was pretty strong stuff. The only shows that may have changed it were the few comedies I really wanted to see and never got to (or only saw a couple episodes of), but the comedy anime just didn’t do enough to help distract from my emotional and mental state so I couldn’t keep up with it at all.
5. Chihayafuru 3
I originally didn’t want to include it as it didn’t end in 2019 nor did a majority of it air during 2019 and is still on-going but it got, what, like 10 episodes in by the end of December which is 90% of a modern show (even though it luckily is a full season, so still plenty to go) so I decided to put it here afterall BUT no higher because over half the show wasn’t even in the right year. However, even just the episodes that were were all fantastic as always with this series. I don’t think I can think of a single episode I’ve truly disliked of any Chihayafuru season, not even the intro episodes for the new characters in season 2 (albeit they, as characters, took awhile to grow on me and I still don’t like the girl one much at all).
Season 3 continues the story, the fantastic and emotionally powerful karuta matches, the very mild hints of romance (becoming far more than just that this season, finally), and of course the heavy focus on natural character development and growth – and it does it all just so fucking good yet again. Even with shows I love its rare that one this long could possibly be as perfect as it is and yet it maintains that quality from the very start of the very first episode years ago to the most recent episodes now all while being about a fucking niche memory game with cards and some teenagers. Not to mention it has impacted the real world pretty heavily in terms of Karuta; the viewership of real world tournaments and the master & queen matches have skyrockets, children and teenagers looking to learn to play/join a team have risen dramatically, and even globally the sport has caught on in niche areas in other countries. This isn’t some coincidence, even the official Karuta organization says it pretty much is entirely thanks to this show and manga, and for this show to have literally saved a VERY near dead sport and turn it into a big thing (for what it is) again is just incredible and for once would be a proper time to call something fictional actually “important”.
That really isn’t talking about the show though, I suppose, but I mean it’s season 3 – what do you want me to say? It’s fucking great and the Master is finally a character and fuck he’s hilarious and, well, it happened in an episode this year but really the romance aspect finally just exploded. I really love this whole fucking series so much and every episode I find myself thinking back over the whole thing even back to the goddamn wonderful childhood episodes the entire series started from (and the show is bringing up heavily again lately) and its such an emotional experience EVERY episode. It’s just such a special show and if it weren’t for under half of it airing it would be higher on this list – don’t be surprised if it shows up on my 2020 one too.
4. Boogiepop & Others
I wanted to put this higher, in fact I was thinking AOTY. I’m a massive fan of this series, it’s one of my favorite things that I never have a reason to bring up or think about; the first adaptation years and years back has always stuck with me (even the English dub commentary tracks, which I watched just as much as I rewatched the show which was a lot of times, with the most memorable thing being them talking in the final episode about how Touka’s dad looks like Fred Durst), Boogiepop has always been both one of my top favorite character designs and top favorite characters in general, classical music will never be the same after Boogie’s love for whistling Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg as her own personal theme song whenever she was coming, and the story is always such a well put together completely overly complex mess of ideas that actually works really well and is extremely interesting, intriguing, and engrossing.
Boogiepop & Others continues that trend, though this time sticking to properly adapting the mother of all Light Novels (yup, you sadly have Boogiepop to thank for all those awful LNs about fucking little sisters, because it was THE first series that brought light novels into the world as an actual successful concept…sad what they became after it) and so you get something less fucking strange, dark as all hell, fucked up, and uncomfortable as the old anime…okay, “less fucking strange, dark as all hell, fucked up” maybe not because it’s pretty much on the mark there if not at its highest, but definitely less fucking “not right” feeling as I never felt truly unsettled with this one unlike Phantom. Also, it isn’t pitch black 90% of the time like that was, thankfully. It covers a lot more philosophy and psychology this time as well rather than just being a bunch of metaphors and allegories, and as cliche and lame as it is to say, it’s a show that unironically really makes you think and spend time mulling over the concepts in each episode. It’s great in just about every way plus it has the ability to stick in your head and make you continue thinking about it and the things it brings up long after an episode ends. The writing is fantastic, the art is fantastic with a few budgety moments in animation early on, the cinematography and general directing is fantastic, and fucking hell Boogiepop’s voice acting is truly one of the best of all fucking time in all voice acting ever.
I love Boogiepop and this didn’t just “not let me down”, this set the bar higher than it has ever been for the franchise for me. Also this is the absolute most smug I have ever seen Boogiepop, even in the novels she’s not this fucking smug, it’s incredible.
3. Vinland Saga
I read the manga up to and through some of the endless farming (only stopping because I had caught up at the time and then never going back, kind of like how all my experiences with manga go) years ago so luckily I forgot LITERALLY everything which is unusual for me even if it’s been a long time. Amazingly enough the farming starts in like volume 5 of the manga (and lasts AS LONG AS THE FIRST 4 VOLUMES before finally ending the farming arc) – yet somehow they’ve made a full length season of anime for only the first 54 chapters and it came out amazingly well.
While it’s easy to assume a show about vikings is an action series this really is a character drama about Askeladd and another fantastic showcase of how much better a story can be when the main character isn’t the actual focus of the story at all. While Thorfinn, the actual “lead”, has some development he really only exists as a way for us to watch the story of Askeladd unfold in what the show itself even calls this entire season, “the prologue”, before telling his story and what all the battles did to him in the next season that is supposedly coming and then will end up a 90 minute film like everything else these days. Basically, while this obviously came first, if you want an easy modern example of what I’m trying to say, look at My Hero Academia. Askeladd is basically in the All Might role to Thorfinn’s Deku, which is also why MHA barely had a bad moment in the first 3 seasons because it was a show about All Might but without him being the actual lead, which is always a great idea and almost never fails to result in a stronger story with stronger lead and supporting cast members, and fuck it works amazingly here because Askeladd is goddamn top-tier and so is the story he pretty much creates with his own willpower throughout the season.
This is really one of those things that is way smarter and better written than you’d ever expect from something that is easy to look at and assume is going to be like Berserk, just mindless violence and nudity and sex and rape to sell it as “mature” – but instead you get something that actually is mature and this really heavy dark take on the reality of the times back then (while being psuedo-historical too, which is pretty cool) with a very focused look at the rather deep and meaningful growth and changes of the cast. Askeladd especially shines as one of the most well done characters of his type (and a very top-tier character in general) and he never lets up on that the entire season and, mostly thanks to him, the show is absolute fucking kino. Really, it’s all great but Askeladd just raises everything to another level and the voice acting for him and the directing and music usage was all fantastic at elevating the show and the character but what really does it is the writing behind him and the way the entire story leans so heavily on him to support it in a way that makes it feel like he’s making it happen himself.
2. Attack On Titan Season 3 Part 2
Attack on Titan began as a series that was one of the stupidest stories ever, with a cowardly writer who would immediately retcon the death of anyone if fans yelled at him enough (and seemed to do it yet again with an even more main character, though maybe this one was more planned out) and who had no idea of what he was doing when it came to writing – but it was also a fucking incredible action series and so much fun to laugh at. Even someone like me who would not stop shitting on it loved watching it, it was goddamn exciting. Since then it has evolved from “stupidest story ever BUT SHIT GETS FUCKED UP HELL YEAH” to this season featuring one of the most amazing twists I’ve ever seen in fiction and absolutely EVERYTHING not only finally coming together but doing it in a way that can only be described as perfectly. I mean LITERALLY everything, we’re talking shit from the earliest episodes of season 1 – from the huge to the small, absolutely every string he could tie he did (even stupid shit you don’t care about, BUT ITS FUCKING ANSWERED ANYWAY) and then he still threw a bunch more new giant ropes made up of a billion strings down alongside them so he could keep fucking going.
This wasn’t just “one huge twist”, it was twist after twist after twist after twist, even a flashback that was just more goddamn twists, and every twist was answered within the season before leading us to more things to later have twists about and to still be on the edge of our seats needing to find out more even after all these billion reveals and twists. Not just twists, but twists that were then given twists on their own twist that then was also twisted in some way further – sometimes even several twists on the same fucking twist. It’s fucking crazy and nothing is ever what it seems even after you learn the truth of anything it ends up not being the truth because of this or that other twist, I’ve really never seen something this goddamn insanely convoluted yet sensible and perfectly tied together that even after that CONTINUES TO PILE ON MORE with such fucking intensity.
In all of Attack on Titan as a whole – I mean literally all of it – if you think you understand or “get” anything from where a character stands or whats going on in the lore or plot or setting or enemies or allies or fucking ANYTHING even the smallest little detail of the dumbest little thing, well sorry but you don’t actually know SHIT. And the way every single episode ended on a note that hooked you like nothing else with a perfect cliffhanger and big twist or reveal and left you desperate for the next episode covered in goosebumps from some line in the very last seconds was just incredible and really not something I’ve seen done like this before; the directing is goddamn phenomenal.
This went from a dumb fucking action show where you simply TOLERATED people talking only to see cool shit happen afterwards to nowadays being a show where the cool shit is something you tolerate to hear more people talk. It’s made such an intense turn since it began to now and it has done it unbelievably well, resulting in one of the most intriguing and suspenseful things the medium has ever seen. I honestly can’t think of another time I felt “I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS”, let alone “did that really just fucking happen?”, as much as this show makes me in my entire experience with fiction, it’s just incredible and it only can achieve that through having gone through the growth it has. It’s really astonishing, I can’t get across how fucking much I mean that.
I absolutely loved literally everything about 3 part 2 aside the fact they didn’t just call it fucking 4. I really mean that, I don’t think I have a single complaint and it was so good with such great story reveals that it retroactively has made AoT as a whole one of my favorite shows of all time and really across all mediums one of my favorite pieces of storytelling ever. I never thought a retarded action series I only watched ironically to laugh at would somehow evolve into one of the most well written, intriguing, nail-biting, insane, and beautifully complex stories I’ve ever been told.
Anime Of The Year
Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo
Everyone knows my extreme love for shows like this, so it probably isn’t that big of a surprise that this is my AOTY except for my endless praise of AoT3P2 a second ago. Not only is the genre my absolute favorite, especially when it’s actually about such a mature concept, but my love for Mari Okada’s writing is also no secret so, again, being both of those things makes this choice really super unsurprising.
Now while I’ll admit Araburu had little to probably absolutely no competition in its specific market this year, this is a show that would hold up in any year as one of the very best and honestly is probably one of my favorite coming of age shows I’ve seen in general since the early 00’s when this genre was in its prime. I’ve kind of gone over it a lot already so it’s difficult to get into it here without simply repeating myself from the “Best of 2019” post. I have a bit of a hard time doing that though without just copy pasting myself but I’ll try.
This show does so much that no other writer could really accomplish the way Okada does and it tackles these really personal emotions and stages of youth and what relationships and sex introduce into life once you get to that point in your own while doing it all in such a genuine and natural way. It achieves that feeling by being one of the most clear cut and direct coming of age stories out there; choosing to be more blunt rather than going with all the intricate metaphors and deep introspection of something like Honey & Clover, and in its simplicity it becomes that much more relatable, believable, and just so real for these girls.
It also fits the theme better by avoiding that; monologues about your empty refrigerator and digging into your own psyche and finding yourself is for when you’re in college and H&C is an absolute top-tier classic, but basically tackling the introduction of the massive complications that sex and feelings of love in your life bring is something that happens in a much simpler way earlier in your life and this gets it perfectly and in multiple styles through the multiple main characters and supporting cast. It covers so many specific aspects of it, not just “sex and love” but all sorts of things that love and sex can be impacted by like age (from both sides), questioning your sexuality (from both sides), social dynamics (from all sides), feelings of inadequacy (in a bunch of different ways), just everything. This is, as I continue to mention whenever I bring the show up at all, the type of show where a girl walks in on a guy jerking off and it’s not played up and exaggerated like a kiss in a shoujo manga nor is it a comedy bit or a HENTAIIII and a punch, its not even meant to make you chuckle but instead its there to create this realization in this character that sex has now become something relevant in her life and in the life of the guy she loves and that the purity of everything for the two of them is lost including within herself, which she realizes once she sees that train going to that tunnel – and that’s just the last couple minutes of the very first episode and it completely changes the world for her from that second on and the thing is she realized it the moment she left his house. It’s just fucking fantastic and the perfect way to have set this story off.
I just love it, I really do. It could actually help someone around that age that is wrestling (like mommy and daddy do in bed) with similar feelings actually grasp some new understanding of themselves that they might have to work a lot harder to reach on their own, it’s also very nostalgic in the most uncomfortable way given what time of life its about and yet, at least at my age now, it also is really refreshing to be reminded in this really heartfelt yet very authentic way of that aspect of youth and that tumultuous part of growing up. Mari Okada has really been doing amazing with these simple themed stories that focus on important huge elements of life without obscuring that theme much at all; both this and Maquia are these incredibly personal yet totally relatable-for-everyone stories told in very different ways themselves yet being about these seriously strong and meaningful themes around very simple inherently human things and she tackles them just goddamn wonderfully while capturing that intense human element.
Really, the main promotional image for it actually gets across a lot of what it is somehow – and so does the title – I guess that speaks even more to the whole thing about this being a simple and straightforward story yet doing it fucking phenomenally. And so that’s what we’ll end this on.
Superbly written. Thanks for your reviews they help me grasp ideas I can’t quite put into words in regards to anime and video games.
Hope your year goes well!
Thanks! I’m glad it can help you sort of get a more concrete view of your own thoughts, I think that’s an even bigger thing to find than just an opinion of someone else but a way to think of your own opinion in a new way. My year so far has actually been pretty goddamn terrible but it’s only February so we’ll see, I hope yours is good as well.