With the best anime of 2018 behind us, the time to look ahead now that the 2019 winter season of anime, which runs from January until April, has officially begun. Sifting through the many streams of legal, streamable anime that debuts each season is a chore — where to begin, especially if you’re a newcomer? For those returning for another season, or those hoping to jump into anime for the first time, we went ahead and made a nice list of what we are going to watch. You’ll want to watch these, too.
We can’t make any guarantees; who knows if a really good unknown show will leap into our arms and announce itself as the best anime of the year? But we’re willing to gamble. Here are several of the new and returning titles we’re excited to watch this season, along with where to watch them.
Mob Psycho 100 (season two)
The second season of this highly acclaimed anime, originally from the writer of One-Punch Man, is one that fans have been waiting for since the first season ended back in 2016. The show follows a kid whose outward appearance is so plain that his nickname, “mob,” is a joke about him being a background character. As it turns out though, this is just a facade to hide his extremely strong psycho-kinetic powers. Just like One-Punch Man, Mob Pyscho leans into some of the most often used tropes and cliches in anime and make fun of them to hilarious effect, or even use them in unexpected ways which is sure to make it one of the funniest anime of the season. - Austen Goslin
Premiers Jan. 7 on Crunchyroll | VRV
The Promised Neverland
Few new shows in the last several years have been as anticipated as The Promised Neverland thanks in large part to the fervent acclaim of the manga on which it’s based. The story follows a group of orphans who find out that their idyllic orphanage, where the one rule is that they must never venture outside the grounds, actually serves a darker and more horrifying purpose.
The manga follows the main characters on their quest to keep the other orphans safe, while also steadily revealing more and more about the series’ strange dystopian world. Based on the early trailers, it appears that the anime will leaning heavily into the suspenseful plot of the manga, taking the show almost into horror territory with its beautiful but creepy art. - AG
Premieres Jan. 10 on Crunchyroll | Hulu | HIDIVE | VRV
Quintessential Quintuplets follows a boy with high grades who is hired to tutor five sisters who each struggle academically in different ways, and all slowly fall in love with their tutor. It’s a ridiculous plot and almost the exact, word-for-word situation you would make up to make fun of most romance anime. But by trading out the normal snark these kinds of series rely on, Quintuplets looks to subvert through earnestness.
In the original manga, the protagonist is mean, jaded, and believes that the girls, whose personalities all break from manga tradition in one way or another, are doomed to fail. But, as each quintuplets’ personalities begin to come out, and the main character starts to get to know the sisters, they begin to develop interesting and nuanced relationships.
It’s hard to say whether or not the anime will be able to pull off the extremely difficult task of slowly growing these characters’ relationships while also being fun to watch, but if it’s half as good as the manga has turned out, Quintuplets will definitely be worth watching. - AG
Premiers Jan. 10 on Crunchyroll | VRV
Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Kaguya tells the story of two genius-level students, each near the top of their class at a prestigious Japanese prep school, as they try to trick the other into confessing their affection. While the premise alone is enough to help the series standout, the original manga stood out as one of the funniest, currently running series, mostly thanks to the tone shifting on a dime from the students’ incredible brilliance and scheming to the crushing awkwardness of a teenage crush. This back and forth won’t be easy to nail in an anime, but based on the teaser from A-1 Pictures, the studio behind Your lie in April and Black Butler, the series looks to be in good hands. - AG
Premieres Jan. 12 on Hulu | Crunchyroll | Funimation | VRV
BanG Dream! (season two)
Bang Dream! returns with a new season and a fairly different look. Instead of being solely focused on the main band, Poppin’ Party!, the second season brings in the rest of the characters we know and love from the mobile game, Bang Dream! Girls Band Party!. (Yes, it’s a lot of exclamation points!) Season two has also shifted from traditional 2D animation to CG without losing much of the artistic style that made the first pop.
The focus on other bands is what makes this season so appealing. While the first season focused on the fairly normal band, this season finally gives the goth band (Roselia), the punk band (Afterglow), the idol band (Pastel*Palettes) and the … circus band (Hello, Happy World!) some screen time. Episode one has dropped as of writing this and a bulk of the episode was made up of scenes of the different bands performing their iconic songs, which we have no issue with. If you’re interested in cute anime girls and idol music, this is the show for you this season. - Julia Lee
Premieres Jan. 3 on HiDive
Kemono Friends (season two)
Japari Park is the place to go to meet new people, thanks to a magic that’s turned the animals into anthropomorphized girls. In season one of Kemono Friends, Kaban, a human girl, finds herself in the park with a case of amnesia, and the animal friends are determined to help figure it out. While the CG style might be off putting to most viewers, the wholesome stories about these cute animal girls will definitely brighten your day.
This is also the series that brought about Grape-kun, the humboldt penguin at the Tobu Zoo in Japan who fell in love with Hululu, the humboldt penguin from the show. A cardboard standee of various Kemono Friends characters were placed in matching pens at the zoo and Grape-kun never wanted to leave Hululu’s side. That’s how you know this series is good: even a real life penguin loves the girls. - JL