After a year 2018 which saw the rise of Netflix in Japanese animation, 2019 was the year of Wakanim which won the jackpot with Demon Slayer: . Kimetsu no Yaiba , the big hit of the moment.
In the list, we could have mentioned again the last season of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (available on ADN) but we will leave the place to the newcomers as the series was already present in the 2018 review. All right, let’s get to the headlines now.
As it is simply the best current series, it is difficult not to mention it. The new bow, marking the return to Shiganshina, returns to the basis of its original concept: survival. While finally giving us the answer we’ve been waiting for all along, namely what’s hidden in that damn cellar.
The ten episodes are thus devoted to the confrontation between the Exploration Battalion of Eren and the Titans led by Reiner and Bertolt. The programme features drumming rhythmic action, suspense, shocking revelations, tragic deaths and the ever-spectacular “sakuga” sequences. The previous bow had the merit of landing a little to give us a breather, but it was to better prepare us for this crazy climax. After nearly 60 episodes, The Attack of the Titans still doesn’t run out of steam. The mark of a future classic.
The series is available on Wakanim.
2019 was undoubtedly the year of Koyoharu Gotôge’s work, as his manga dethroned One Piece to the top of the Japanese sales charts. Which hadn’t happened in 12 years. A feat that we owe a lot to the animated studio Ufotable ( Fate/stay Night ) and to its high level production. The famous 19th episode, which left its mark on the retina of many spectators, is undeniable proof of this.
Like My Hero Academia , Kimetsu no Yaiba is not going to upset the genre because that’s just not its purpose. We are in pure shônen nekketsu: the hero has a mission, he fights monsters, gets stronger and we start again. The series stands out in particular by its endearing characters (the hero at the head) and its universe of feudal Japan populated by flesh-eating demons. The horrific atmosphere is clearly an essential asset that allows the title to stand out from the competition (it’s often quite gory!). All of this is magnified by the exceptional work of the animators and the musical scores of the always talented Yuki Kajiura. In short, success is well-deserved.
The series is available on Wakanim.
We have already told you the best of it and so it is normal to find the CloverWorks series ( Fate/Grand Order : Babylonia ) among the best of the year. It is, however, very difficult to talk about it without disclosing the surprises. Just know that the story is about how three children try to escape from their orphanage. No fights here, but psychological duels between prisoners and their captors.
With My Hero Academia and Kimetsu no Yaiba , the adaptation of the manga by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu is the third big success of Shônen Jump to benefit from a careful transposition into an animated series. Proof that the viewer has become more demanding when adapting his favorite manga. Good for us.
The series is available on Wakanim and DNA.
Another shônen! Yes, this top is somewhat oriented, even mainstream. But when they are of quality, it is necessary to underline it. That’s why, you will never see here a shônen of the Toei ( One Piece ) or of Pierrot ( Boruto ). Fire Force or Enen no Shouboutai in OV is the latest track from Atsushi Ôkubo, famous author of Soul Eater . We still remember the excellent adaptation by Bones in 2008. Otherwise you know what you have to do.
So certainly Fire Force is less exciting than the above-mentioned titles. Apart from its original universe of firefighters with fire powers fighting human torches, the story is very classic. However, the David Production series ( Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure ) is distinguished by its almost experimental staging reminiscent of Shaft productions ( Bakemonogatari ). And for good reason: most of the technical team comes from Akiyuki Shinbo’s studio. The mix is explosive and unprecedented for this kind of production.
The series is available on Wakanim and DNA.
Kazuki Akane comes back with a rather unexpected title: a sports shônen on soft tennis (tennis with a rubber ball in bulk) produced by 8-Bit ( Me, I’m reincarnated as Slime ). Contrary to what one might think, the author of Vision d’Escaflowne and Noein delivers here a personal work, very far from the clichés of the genre. It’s the nice surprise of the year.
Indeed, tennis is almost a pretext to evoke the torments of adolescence such as complicated relationships with parents and the search for one’s identity. Notably sexual, a rare theme in Japanese animation. The only drawback: the anime is composed of only 12 episodes whereas originally the double was planned. In spite of the terrible cliffhanger closing the last episode, there may never be a sequel. That would be most unfortunate.
The series is available on Wakanim.
The adaptation of Makoto Yukimura’s manga (already 23 volumes) was long awaited. Studio Wit ( The Attack of the Titans ) is in charge of this Viking story centered on the young Icelandic boy, Thorfinn, son of Thors, who has sworn to avenge his father’s death. You probably know the Vikings series with Ragnar Lothbrok. Vinland Saga is the “manga” version.
The manga was already very good and this adaptation does it justice. Animation, scenery and music, the team of Shûhei Yabuta ( Inuyashiki Last Hero ) did an exceptional job. We will notably retain the fascinating gallery of characters (Askelaad and Thorkell in mind) and the literally inhabited game of Thorfinn’s seiyû (Yûto Uemura who is also currently playing Suneater in My Hero Academia ). The anime closes the first arc of the manga, titled “prologue” (volumes 1 to 8), but for the moment no other season is announced. Given the popularity of the title, there’s a good chance it will come one day.
This series from the MAPPA studio ( Banana Fish ) is one of the most ambitious of the previous year. It is still an adaptation but not just any adaptation: that of the very dark, even nihilistic eponymous manga by Osamu Tezuka dating from 1967 (and already adapted into an anime in 1969). The story follows the adventures of Hyakkimaru, a young man whose 48 body parts have been offered to demons, and Dororo, a young orphan. Together, they set off in search of the demons in the hope of restoring Hyakkimaru’s original body.
While modernizing somewhat the general design (of the characters in particular), this adaptation proves to be very faithful even in its greyish photography. Thus, Dororo denotes with the rest of the current production and seems out of time. The series is also a way to discover a manga classic, before of course looking at its original medium (and the other works of the master). In spite of a technical drop in its second half, Dororo is a genuine rough diamond to be seen imperatively.
Let us now turn to another series that we have been singing the praises of this year: Run With the Wind is based on a novel by the author Shion Miura about the preparation of a group of students to participate in the Hakone Ekiden, a 218-kilometre relay race in the…
You want to lose weight at the beginning of the year but it’s hard to motivate yourself to go for a run? Watch the series and running will become your new passion. That’s the strength of the work.
The series is available on Crunchyroll.
Netflix was the poor relation of the year with few really outstanding titles. However, Kengan Ashura will have saved the day with his uncompromising martial arts tournament. Broadcast in two parts, this adaptation of a manga never seen before in France is a sweet treat to be enjoyed without moderation.
The story is simple as it is a succession of clashes between fighters from all walks of life. But by no means is the script simplistic, as each fight has its own surprises. One thinks in particular of the one in the second part, which is truly hallucinating, between Imai Cosmo and Akoya. It will be good that his director quickly abandons Radiant to come back and do the sequel to Kengan Ashura .
The series is available on Netflix.
The last title of this review will be a novelty since no SVoD platform has broadcast it. With all the series broadcast every year, we can’t imagine missing this one (rights problem?). In this science-fiction shônen, high school students find themselves lost in space and must find their way back to their home planet. Aboard their ship, the crew began a long journey…
The strength of Astra Lost in Space is its mix of genres. In the same episode, you can go from comedy to thriller. The influence of Star Trek is obvious. For the space exploration side (we travel from planet to planet) but also for this tendency to go from one emotion to another. For lack of being able to discover the anime, the manga of Kenta Shinohara (5 volumes) is available in France at nobi nobi!
We could also have mentioned in this top: Mob Psycho II (Crunchyroll), One Punch Man 2 (ADN), The Rising of the Shield Hero (Crunchyroll), I am reincarnated as Slime (Crunchyroll), Mobile Suit Gundam : The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet (Crunchyroll) and Carole & Tuesday (Netflix).
This month of January will be an opportunity to discover two essential feature films in French theatres First of all, The Children of Time by Makoto Shinkai, awaited by the numerous fans of the director since his advent with Your Name in 2016. Even if this new film is a little bit less, Shinkai delivers here a great love story of which he has the secret, coupled with a new visit of the Japanese capital.
Then, the other event is the release in special sessions of the film Violet Evergarden – Eternity and the automatic souvenir doll from January 15th. As a reminder, we cited the series (available on Netflix) in the 2018 top. It is with a heavy heart that we will be able to discover this film just finished before the terrible fire ravaged the Kyoto Animation studios, causing the death of 36 people. Many thanks to the distributor Eurozoom for giving us the chance to discover the film in theatres.
On the series side, the winter season has just started and besides the fourth season of My Hero Academia which is entering its second part (still at ADN), you will have a choice. On Wakanim, it will be the new season of Haikyû ! To the Top (which will be cut in two parts), the adaptation of the manga Darwin’s Game (with a VF in the program) or the new original series of Ei Aoki ( Re:Creators ), ID:Invaded .
On Crunchyroll, you will have Somali and the Spirit of the Forest, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! by Masaaki Yuasa ( Devilman Crybaby ) and a “Re-Edit” of Re:ZERO –Starting Life in Another World- waiting for the new season. The bravest will be able to discover the continuation of Saint Seiya: The Knights of the Zodiac on Netflix from January 23rd.
For the rest of the year, many sequels will be on the program. In spring, we will have those of Re:ZERO , Kingdom and Sword Art Online . In the summer, it will be the turn of Fire Force, The Irregular at Magic High School and Danmachi . Finally, in the fall, The Attack of the Titans and The Promised Neverland will return. Without forgetting the sequels in the form of feature films with Made in Abyss and Kimetsu no Yaiba for which we hope to have screenings in France.