Here are my rankings for the first half of Summer 2019.
This has been a great season for me, a lot of these could be in top 15-20 for the year. As usual, all standards for artistic merit are completely subjective and arbitrary.
Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo O Maidens
Aikatsu Friends (62+)
Kanata no Astra
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san S2
Re:Stage! Dream Day
Star Twinkle Precure (22+)
Enn enn no Shouboutai
Cannon Busters (1-2)
Vinland Saga (1-5)
Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e (1-2)
Carole and Tuesday (1-13)
Cop Craft (1-5)
Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru (1-4)
Okaa-san Online (1-2)
Joshikousei no Mudazukai (1-4)
Sounan Desu Ka (1-2)~
is as effortlessly funny as it is brutally well-observed. It's is a painfully true-to-life depiction of the high-school experience, sparing no one. Everyone is ignorant and insecure in their own way, only suffering under different set of circumstances and social expectations. I also appreciate that it depicts pedophilia as something that is genuinely damaging, not a mere annoyance.
Every member of the literature club is now fully realized enough to carry a story all by herself, and yet the way these stories intersect consistently elevates all of them, emphasizing the shared nature of their pain. It's always a treat to run into a character drama this rich, perceptive, and compassionate.
My only major issue with it right now is that it doesn't feel like it's directly building towards any sort of plot that could be resolved within just this season, but I’m loving this thoughtful and unabashedly messy ride. Symphogear XV
has been the best season of one of the best anime franchises. It's one of those pieces of media that carries itself with such an massive amount of confidence and self-satisfaction that it absolutely would not work were it even an iota less masterfully delivered as it is. There's plenty of opportunities for it to fuck it up, but it's nailed every impossible trick so far. Granbelm
has unexpectedly has become my premiere action vehicle of this season. Its fights are engaging and thrilling, and stay coherent even with all the lazer beams that end up on screen at some times. I love how smoothly the show incorporates its more emotionally-driven conflicts into the mech fights. Its conversations about the difficult compromises of life, how difficult it is to improve yourself, and how to deal with power and trauma have been some of the sharpest of the season, rivaling that of O Maidens
. This also might be the best voiced show of the year.
The only reason I can't yet put this at the top is that it's too
intense at times. It loses some emotional grounding and the characters are not as sympathetic as they could be. Still, I'm really curious and slightly nervous about how it's going to walk the tightrope between being too nice and being too mean going forwards from here. Given
is looking to not just be a satisfying band drama, but also a thoughtfully executed romance. Unlike O Maidens
, the characters are portrayed as young men who are beyond the insecurities of high-school. The tone and use of layouts have been excellent, it's got smart visual storytelling, the dialogue is refreshingly honest. The group’s conversations about music possess an easy naturalism, selling the substance of its cast through their divergent but mutually sympathetic perspectives.
Unfortunately, its technical limitations come through clearly. Sometimes, it lacks the tonal specificity to really evoke any sort of mood or atmosphere. And it could really benefit from more intricate character acting. But the writing and direction are good enough to carry the show above its production issues. Machikado Mazoku
consistently makes me squirm in joy over how stupidly adorable it is. But it's also a bit frustrating because it could be even better if it aimed higher. It hints at a legit plot, themes, and relationship development that it could really build on. It only needs a little push to elevate itself above simply good CGDCT and into get into the upper echelon for the year. But maybe this latest ep might've started a real change in the status quo, and maybe this show will actually get up there. Aikatsu Friends
S2 represents the essence of what it means to be Friends — what it means to be friends, to means to care for someone deeply, and to love someone with all of your heart. This, too, is Aikatsu. Astra
has been a pretty even course. It offers an energetic and polished series of space adventures, tied together by the theme that kids are great and parents suck. It has mostly been just a series of urgent plot beats, but it looks like it's going to have a major change to its status quo now. Even if it doesn't, it should remain a solid episodic adventure. Takagi-san
S2 has been a nice reprieve from all the depressing and problematic shit that I watch. It's clearly building to the leads holding hands, and there is absolutely no chance it'll do more than that. (Hell, it might not even do that.) But it's fine, it has its place in my rankings. Star Twinkle
has been a perfectly competent kids' cartoon, although it'd be nice to see it do something more dramatic and ambitious. Dr. Stone
is starting to show cracks. It seems like just another shounen anime where the main character is only ever challenged physically. Everyone letting Senku do all the thinking for them makes me thinks this isn't the kind of show that's going to have any actual character development for anyone. I like its depiction of science for the most part, but I hope it picks up narratively because I'm slowly running out of interest. Fire Force
feels like a show that is trying to rise above expectations of a shounen action anime but is forced to adhere to genre conventions for whatever reason. I really do love this show's direction and style, and the writing is pretty interesting at times. It smartly delves into the inherent tragedy in its premise and how different people deal with trauma. But it also resolved the latest arc by having its protag literally yell "I'm a hero" and wins for no reason other than he's the fucking hero. I feel like this show does more good than bad, but when it is bad, it's fucking awful.