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SYFY WIRE Who Won The Year (and Decade)?

The 13 best anime episodes of 2019

By Daniel Dockery
Who Won the Year Anime

If you're like me, you watch a lot of anime. And that's cool. Honestly, it's 2019 — it would be weirder if you weren't constantly watching anime. That said, watching a lot of something isn't great for remembering parts of it sometimes, specifically certain episodes. When I get done binge-watching something, I'm less likely to be like "Wow, Episode 11 was a masterpiece!" and more likely to announce "The chunk of the show that I watched before sleep took me was a very nice chunk."

So, to honor specific episodes that may have been lost to the binge, I'm gonna name the thirteen best anime episodes of 2019. Obviously, these are all the opinions of a man who may as well build an underground anime bunker at this point and might not reflect yours, but at the very least, I hope to provide you with a selection of some damn good anime.

13. Kaguya-sama: Love is War episode 10

Kaguya-sama: Love is War is a wonderfully refreshing show about two student council members that like one another, but refuse to admit it. However, rather than express this emotional guardedness through copious blushing and awkwardness, they try to dismantle each other psychologically, which is what you do as a teenager in love. Of course, there's a ton of awkwardness, too, but for the most part, it's mental warfare.

I choose Episode 10, not necessarily because it leaps above the rest, but because it encapsulates everything I dig about the show. It's funny, the interplay between the two leading characters is always on point, and it does a great job of advancing the overall arc of the season.

12. Black Clover episode 93: "Julius Novachrono"

Julius Novachrono, Wizard King, works really well as the goofy, unflappable leader, and it's great to see him constantly be a fanboy over the magical powers of others. However, don't let that fool you — in a fight, Novachrono can GO, and when faced with the leader of the Eye of the Midnight Sun, he gives us one of the most exciting battles in the history of the Black Clover anime.

11. My Hero Academia episode 68: "Let's Go, Gutsy Red Riot"

I'm not gonna lie, for a while, I wasn't really into Kirishima. It's not that I disliked him, it's just that he was overshadowed by other Class 1-A students like Iida, Momo and Todoroki. But after Episode 68, I'm totally sold on this dude and he's become my favorite character of Season 4. And all it took was a really, really great punch.

10. Aggretsuko episode 20: "Wonderful Life"

Season 1 of Aggretsuko was one of the best anime of 2018, so Season 2 had a lot to live up to. And it went above and beyond, maintaining the same sense of angst and humor, while finding even more emotional depth to mine. And it all came to a head with "Wonderful Life," an episode that played to all of the show's strengths. I never expected to have my heart torn out by the actions of a metal-singing red panda and her co-workers, but here I am.

09. given, episode 9: "A Winter Story"

Way too many people slept on given this year, and that sucks. It was a quieter show about music and tragedy and how people can grow together and apart, and I kind of want to shout at people about it on a street corner. But I'll refrain from that and instead post this clip from the ninth (and best) episode in which the band finally has a performance and lead singer Mafuyu debuts a song about a major loss in his life. Oh, you didn't think you were going to cry today?

08. The Promised Neverland episode 1: "121045"

Okay, so there are likely better episodes of The Promised Neverland in its debut season. But choosing one of those might lead to me spoiling part of the plot, and the best way to go into The Promised Neverland is completely blind about what's to come.

But I will say that the first episode has such an innocuous beginning that you're never really prepared for what comes next. It feels like what would happen if M. Night Shyamalan made an anime episode. Unbreakable Shyamalan, that is. Definitely not Lady in the Water Shyamalan.

07. Sarazanmai, episode 11: "I Want To Connect, so Sarazanmai"

My favorite new show of 2019 was Sarazanmai, which, in its early minutes, seemed to be mostly about butts and kappas and kappa butts. However, what follows is a stunning, emotional work with three wonderfully composed lead characters. In fact, it was so good that I began to worry that it wouldn't be able to stick the landing.

Luckily, episode 11 is a near-perfect cap to the arcs and themes of the story, and it made me want to immediately rewatch the whole thing when I was done with it.

And finally, Sarazanmai somehow had the best opening song AND the best ending song of the year. I posted the latter at the top of the entry, but here's the opening, too, because you deserve it:

06. Dr. Stone episode 12: "Buddies Back To Back"

The story of Senku, a genius teenager that wants to establish a Kingdom of Science and revive all of the people that have been petrified in stone for thousands of years, struggled to find an emotional core for a little while; it was mostly about how science is so, so cool. But Episode 12 managed to turn that around completely, cementing the friendship shared between the lead characters.

For a show with a protagonist that prides himself on his efficient use of science and his relatively cold approach to others, Dr. Stone has a lot of heart.

05. One Piece episode 870: "A Fist of Divine Speed - Another Gear Fourth Application Activated!"

It's been a big year for One Piece — the Straw Hats escaped Whole Cake Island, the Reverie began, and Luffy finally made his way to the land of Wano. So the best installment of 2019 would have to be something special, and "SNAKEMAN" definitely is. The latest transformation of Monkey D. Luffy provided a thrilling conclusion to his epic fight with the "unbeatable" Katakuri and was an animation tour de force.

04. Demon Slayer Episode 19: "Hinokami"

You know that episode when a really good anime becomes THE anime of the year? For Demon Slayer, that was episode 19. To watch the anime community explode in enthusiasm after it was released was a treat and it brought so many more eyes to Demon Slayer, a show that doesn't do a lot of new things with its genre, but everything it does do, it does really, really well.

03. Vinland Saga episode 1

For almost a decade and a half, Vinland Saga was the best manga to not have an anime adaptation. And when one was announced, I was instantly worried. But luckily, the Vinland Saga anime is as beautiful and brutal as its source material, and it hits the ground running with a debut episode that sets the tone (and the bar) for the rest of the series.

02. Pokemon Sun and Moon episode 144: "Alola's Strongest Z! Kapu-Kokeko VS Pikachu!!"


Sorry, I just had to get that out of the way. Also, while that was a great episode (#139), the biggest highlight of Pokémon anime in 2019 came five episodes later when Ash and Pikachu beat Professor Kukui and Tapu Koko. It was a beautifully animated exhibition match and it helped to cap off the Sun & Moon anime, a series that's been underrated from the start.

01. Mob Psycho 100 episode 25: "Boss Fight ~The Final Light~"

Gorgeous animation? Check. Rad fight scenes? Check. Incredible character work? Check. A tone that can easily jump from hilarity to surprising emotion in an instant without feeling jarring? Check.

Is Mob Psycho 100 a perfect anime? Actually, it just might be. And the second season took everything that worked in the first, turned it up a notch and added new, lovable components to boot. Long live Mob.