Anime Review

The Con Artists’ Color Awards 2019

The Con Artists are excited to say, “WHOA DAMN IT’S 2020!!!” Thank you for being a part of our reader base! This year we all came together to give awards out to shows we thought were deserving! We hope you have fun reading this, and please continue to follow along with us on our anime journey! Please note: All of us wrote our lists in isolation. Any similarities are as much a surprise to you as they are to us!

conartist_profile_scott

Scott – Red Awards
Best of 2019 Demon Girl Next Door

It was a tight race between Demon Girl Next Door and Fruits Basket, but the comic misadventures of newly minted demon girl Yuko and her (self-proclaimed) arch-rival magical girl Momo have really won me over. The show is adorable, the characters are memorable, and it had me laughing a lot. There’s even some drama that’s woven in pretty well, with hints of more to come. If you watch one show from this year, make it Demon Girl Next Door.

Most Pleasant Surprise of 2019/Most Unique Premise Kemurikusa

I don’t know what I was expecting when I tuned in for Kemurikusa, but whatever it was, I was wrong, in a good way. Taking place in a bizarre reality that’s only quasi-explained, the show focuses on a small group of characters trying to move through it and survive, with dwindling resources on all sides. Every character has a set of unique abilities, with teamwork crucial to survival. It’s an excellent example of the triumph of writing over visuals, because the chunky, clunkily animated 3D models certainly aren’t what carries it.

Worst of 2019 The Cost of Smiles

When I was going through the list of shows I’d watched this year, I had a moment where I stared at the words The Cost of Smiles and thought “wait, what? There was a show named that?” Honestly, that’s all you need to know.

Most Disappointing of 2019 Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon S2

I really enjoyed the first season of Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon, and also the Sword Oratorio side story, so I was looking forward to a second season. *Deep sigh* Well, I got what I asked for, and now I want to return it to the store. With the focus shifting away from dungeoneering and the interactions of the “main party”, combined with the show trying to fit in three different story arcs, everything felt rushed and uninteresting. I’m not sure I’d bother to watch if more was made.

Most Wasted Potential Fire Force

By episode three, I was sure this was the start of something amazing – incredible visuals and fight choreography, good characters, and some genuinely emotional moments. By episode six, I was all but done with the show. What happened, Fire Force? Did all the good writers suddenly quit, and whoever was left insisted on including Tamaki? Ugh.

Most Feel-Good Moments Kanata no Astra

This show about future high schoolers getting lost in space and having to find their own way home has a lot going for it. Good visuals, a solid premise with a mystery that keeps you guessing, interesting characters that break away from tropes and really develop. For my money, though, the show’s strongest points were when the characters came together to accomplish something, or for one of them to overcome a personal obstacle, or two of them became closer. Rarely this season was I more invested in seeing a group of characters succeed, and feeling great when they did.

Lowest Stakes (but that’s OK) Senryuu Girl

Sometimes you don’t want drama, or a complicated love triangle, or wrenching heartache in your romance anime. Sometimes you just want two characters to grow closer to each other, with everyone else gently helping them out. Senryuu Girl is the perfect anime for those times.

Best Sequel Mob Psycho 100 II

Few sequels live up to their source material (see also Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen). Mob Psycho managed an engaging, action-packed second season that still made time for the development of its core characters, in major, meaningful ways. If you’ve seen the first season, don’t wait – the second is worth every minute.

Best Side Characters Fruits Basket

Tohru herself is delightful, but Uo and Hana steal every scene they’re in. Who wouldn’t want a tough-talking reformed delinquent and a terrifying modern-day witch as their besties?

Most Likely to make you feel Queasy Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka

I knew things were going to get rough in a show where the premise is “what if magical girls fought alongside the military”, but I didn’t really expect them to get torture-porn rough. The show doesn’t just show the dark side of modern governments and terrorist organizations, it fairly revels in it, with characters being dismembered and tortured regularly. Not recommended for the faint of heart, or really for most viewers, since it wasn’t very good.

Most Beautiful Visuals Shinkegki no Bahamut: Manaria Friends

While the show itself is a decent contender for “most forgettable”, some of the visuals it offers up are easily the most beautiful this season. Every location at the school, especially the library, is filled with character and detail. A scene with a piano sitting in a field of flowers will probably be my only memory from this show, but in a way, that’s fine.

Most Toxic The Rising of the Shield Hero

Oh, Shield Hero. I’m conflicted about the show, since it has some interesting worldbuilding and strong visuals. There’s absolutely no conflict in how strongly I dislike how the show wants me to identify with the main character. No, that’s OK show, I don’t think that magical slavery is the path to true love, or that women making rape accusations are scheming liars. I liked the adventuring, but I felt gross whenever the main character has to interact with anyone. On the balance, there are better isekais out there, so maybe just skip this one.

Most Educational Dr. Stone

Shockingly, I actually had more than one title vying for this spot, thanks to Afterschool Dice Club. As much as I learned about some pretty cool board games that I definitely want to try out, this one has to go to Dr. Stone for having a surprisingly solid scientific grounding. I may not be able to build a working cell phone from raw materials after watching it, but I learned a lot about various raw materials and processes to extract, convert, or combine them. Thanks, Senku!

The “REAL” Best Show of 2019 Symphogear XV

You know you love it.


conartist_profile_su

Sushma – Green Awards
Best of 2019 Carol and Tuesday

Yes, this series has flaws. The second half is a little shaky and meandering and the reveal of Tao and Angela’s origin is terrible, but you know what?! This show wins anyway. I love Carol and I love Tuesday. They are two girls who help and support each other. There’s a fun cast here and some beautiful visuals/imagining of a terraformed Mars. There’s so much diversity in the people that inhabit this world and there’s a wisdom to the story. This show understands music, the music industry, and the dangers of letting art be guided by autonomy. Watanabe really dug deep into Western music and the influences are everywhere (along with fantastic English singing). The research done for this show is admirable in so many ways. Most importantly, my husband watched this show with me and it made him want to pick up his guitar and perform in front of a live audience again, after his depression caused him to stop doing that for years. Great job Carol and Tuesday. You remind me anime can transcend the clichés.

Most Pleasant Surprise of 2019 Kanata no Astra

Okay so…I expected this show to be pretty good. I had read that the manga was well paced and succinct, so when the anime announcement for Astra came around, I was optimistic. Holy wow, was I not expecting to love this cast and this journey as much as I did. These kids were fun and subverted my expectations (Aries, when did you become the best character?!). I was sad when this show was over, because I wanted more time with these characters, and the plot kept me on my toes with a fantastic mystery.

Worst of 2019 Price of Smiles

Wow show…what on Earth happened? There was so much promise here and then it devolved so fast. The art got ugly, the motivations got thrown out left and right, there are too many secret bases and WHY DON’T THE MOTHER AND DAUGHTER EVER GET A MOMENT?!!? A ceiling falls on her…a CEILING DAMMIT! I hate this show so much.

Most Disappointing of 2019 Fire Force

I was already concerned when this show as written by the same guy as Soul Eater, but even I couldn’t foresee this level of failure. Who wrote Episodes 01 and 02?! Speak now my good sir or madam because your efforts are appreciated and missed. This show derailed so hard it wasn’t even funny. The strong emotional premise and cool fire infused martial arts gave way to a mess of a plot, a harem, and lucky ecchi. Yes, you read that right. Go look up Tamaki…at your own peril.

Highest Production Values Shinkegki no Bahamut: Manaria Friends

Hot damn, the art is amazing in this show. Episode…04 (the one with the piano) is jaw droppingly pretty, but all the other episodes don’t disappoint either. This show didn’t go anywhere, and some moments in it are cringe-worthy, but it’s always nice to look at. Props to the all artists involved in this project.

Best Villain Isabella (Promised Neverland)

Isabella is strong, kind, loving, intelligent, and is gonna sell your 12 year old ass to the black market as demon food. This woman is terrifying. More than once, I was given a mini heart attack seeing her show up and thwart our hero trio in their attempts to escape the farm. It isn’t just that Isabella is all the things in my first sentence. It’s that she has conviction. She believes what she’s doing is just and a form of love towards these kids. That makes her deadly and frightening in that blood curdling kind of way.

Best Use of Sound Isabella’s Lullaby (Promised Neverland)

My mind was blown when they dropped the in show background for this song. It’s a song weaved into the very fabric of the show so when Isabella’s character shifts in Episode 12, I felt like a massive Chekov’s Gun had just been fired. It doesn’t hurt that the song itself is beautiful and sad and just…perfect.

Most WTF Moment Galactic Mermaid (Carol and Tuesday)

*Holds up a lighter
Sing on Mermaid Sisters….sing on. No words can describe your majesty.

Most Comfortable Environment Kono Oto no Tomare! S1 & S2

Okay, it took me a little time to take my curmudgeon hat off for this show. Now I think of it like the macaroni and cheese of anime. Everyone who comes to the Koto Club is healed emotionally (you can only join if your backstory is appropriately tragic) and the koto music (especially Season 2) is beautiful to listen to. All the characters are warm and loving and provide an environment I just want to relax in for 20 mins every week. I want to learn more about the koto instrument, and that’s a testament to how much the show has drawn me in.

Best Girl(s) Uo and Hana (Fruits Basket 2019)

These two ladies are the most wonderful people…ever. The shining force of their BFF energy with Tohru is wonderous to behold. If only all friendship was as magical as this. These two are caring, protective, and their motherly attitude towards Tohru makes me so freaking happy.

Best Boy Takeru Kinjou (Houkago Saikoro Club)

Fight me. He’s fatherly and supportive and heals souls with board games. He’s AWESOME.

Best Written/Best Drama Fruits Basket 2019

Having never seen the original anime and having never read the manga, I went in as fresh as can be. Wow, was I floored. The characters grew on me two fold and I felt like they did a great job showing how people need support from one another. I want a soft and fluffy Kisa.

Biggest Cinnamon Roll Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket 2019)

Oh Tohru…you delicate muffin, you beautiful cupcake, you soft soft cinnamon roll. You are so great. Go forth and heal all the people Tohru! I was amazed how much this character grew on me. Once again, props to the writing in Fruits Basket.

Best Thriller Promised Neverland

Sorry Brendan…I was hooked onto this show. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen to these kids, how they were going to escape, and how on earth they were going to outwit a force like Isabella. Episode 01 of this show was incredible and the stakes just kept getting higher.

Most Nauseating Moment Babylon Episode 07

My heart was actually pounding for the last few minutes of this episode. Clearly butchering people gives you street cred in the club or something, but seriously show, all you gave me was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was cruel and sick and…utterly awful. Jesus show…what is wrong with you?!

The Best OP Song “Kiss Me” (Carol and Tuesday) and “Touch Off” (Promised Neverland)

If you’ve been following along this year you already know how much I freaking love “Touch Off”. Those saxophones and the energy of that song are just amazing. “Kiss Me” on the other hand…snuck up on me. After a while my husband and I were just humming it to ourselves and when we finally heard the full version we realized…oh my gosh…we LOVE this song.
“Kiss Me” sung by Nai Br.XX & Celeina Ann
“Touch OFF” by UVERworld

The Real Bestiest that Ever Bested Symphogear XV

Let’s end with the “real” winner here. Lesbians save the universe with the power of song. Hands down the winner of all things. *Mic Drop


conartist_profile_dan

Dan – Blue Awards
Best of 2019 Carol and Tuesday

This series offers a great variety of awesome music, along with a beautifully realized world and a fun, diverse cast of characters. It’s a top-quality show produced by an excellent veteran creative team. Whether you’re looking for something uplifting, or want a break from the action, adventure and hijinks-focused filling up the broadcast schedule, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Most Pleasant Surprise of 2019 Demon Girl Next Door

I was initially skeptical of this quirky little show, but I have to thank Brendan for recommending it. The adventures of an inexperienced demon girl and her fitness-obsessed magical girl frenemy are worth some hearty chuckles.

Worst of 2019 Assassin’s Pride

Someone told me this show is better than it first appears, but I’m not about to find out. Obnoxious characters with poor motivations, bucketloads of expository nonsense, and character designs that grind my gears had me dropping this after one episode.

Most Disappointing of 2019 Dr. Stone

The concept of a youth rebuilding a fallen world through the POWER OF SCIENCE sounded like a recipe for a fun show. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the obnoxious, one-note main character or his annoying friend.

Best Ongoing Series One Punch Man Season 2

The continuing adventures of Saitama and his superhero buddies as they battle increasingly oversized villains is still a hoot. The introduction of a few new faces and a broader focus on the heroes keeps things fresh and fun.

Best Use of Medium Demon Slayer

If you’re looking for some intensely satisfying fight sequences, Demon Slayer has your back. The effects and motion on display are beautiful to watch, and worth going back over a few times just to catch all the details and techniques on display.

Bless Your Heart, You Tried Babylon

I thought this procedural crime thriller would be fun, but Babylon bogs itself down with some really bad philosophizing and seriously questionable opinions on gender. At the least, I appreciate that they tried to do some editing and shot composition that could only exist in animation. It effectively creates a feeling of dread and anticipation, even if it’s clumsy as hell in places.

Most Oscillating Enjoyment Curve Demon Slayer

I really enjoyed this show, and I’m excited to see what they do with the movie coming out in 2020. However, between some of the overplayed characters and the show’s uneven treatment of Netsuko, I kept getting yanked around. Here’s hoping the next season finds a more solid footing.

Fastest Drop Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

It took me exactly one minute to decide this show wouldn’t be worth my time. I thought that it might at least bad enough to laugh through, but the moment the main character was introduced in her tactical maid outfit, I threw up my hands and noped it on out of there.


conartist_profile_brendan

Brendan – Beige Awards
Best of 2019 Fruits Basket (2019)

The care that has gone into retelling this manga-old-enough-to-drink (or at least the first third or so of it) is apparent in every aspect of its production (except maybe the temporal setting). Just a big ol’ heartwarming pile of high-schoolers trying to play the hands they’ve been dealt. As someone who isn’t familiar with the source material, I hope the story gets wrapped up as competently as it’s been laid out.

Most Pleasant Surprise of 2019;
Most Questionable English Subtitles
Demon Girl Next Door (Machikado Mazoku)

Ironically (given my pick for Worst), one of my few complaints about this one is that Momo’s backstory didn’t seem tragic enough. Overall, it’s a delightfully charming tale of ordinary girls becoming best frenemies while struggling to live up to unreasonable expectations. HiDive’s unusually loose subtitle job was occasionally off-putting, but usually succeeded in maintaining a casual atmosphere.

Worst of 2019 Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka (Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka)

The show whose first episode caused me to drop it the hardest. Pretty much the only redeeming feature that I remember from the first episode was the focus on how the protagonist’s PTSD affects her everyday life. The tragedy in the backstory was laid on too thick, the overall animation quality was substandard, and everything about the antagonists – both past and present – was atrocious.

Most Disappointing of 2019;
Most Egregious Fanservice
Fire Force (Enn Enn no Shouboutai)

As the first season went on, this one just seemed to drift further and further from the promise it showed in the first couple of episodes. I made it to the arc wrap-up in episode ten before deciding that the its overall plot wasn’t going to be enough to justify the treatment of its female cast. I’ll stand up for some questionable tone shifts, but not “lucky ecchi” in the middle of a fight to the death with a guy trying to immolate children.

Most Original Kemurikusa

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like Kemurikusa. Everything about this anime is a trip – if you can power through the male lead being overly excitable in the first few episodes and adapt to the low-budget CGI throughout, you might find yourself as enamored as I with this strange, gray world and the strange, colorful characters that try to survive in it.

Hardest Right Turn;
Best Vocalizations
Hitori Bocchi no Maru-Maru Seikatsu

With one glimpse of a hair antenna, Hitori Bocchi flips almost completely from character humor with a side of heartwarming drama to heartwarming drama with a side of character humor. I really like the drama, though – as well as the distressed squawks that Bocchi (and occasionally Sotoka) emit when surprised.

Most Subtle OP/ED Shift;
Most Direct Reference to Current Events
O Maidens in Your Savage Season (Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo.)

Of course, no anime is obligated to make changes to its OP or ED – this makes the times when it happens more memorable. While the changes to Hitori Bocchi’s ED can be seen coming (allowing them to be somewhat cathartic when they actually happen), O Maidens caught me off-guard by matching a character’s OP appearance with her in-show makeover (except for a flashback shot, because that would make even less sense).
Also: Fruits Basket could stand to date itself a little more (debatably), but an event near the end of O Maidens makes rather blatant allusion to the five demands of the 2019 Hong Kong protests (which had been compiled shortly before the show began airing). How well that bit will age has yet to be seen.

Do you agree with us? Disagree with us? Drop us a comment! See you (Space Cowboy) in 2020.

0 comments on “The Con Artists’ Color Awards 2019

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: