A lot of stellar anime have graced our screens this year. Here at Goomba Stomp, we’ve tried our hardest to keep up to date, but naturally, catching them all has been impossible. We saw some doozys though, and of them, these are our ten favorites!
A Place Further than the Universe (Matthew Ponthier)
Wanting to break out of routine and do something special and memorable is a very human desire that many of us have felt at some point to some extent in our lives. A Place Further than the Universe takes that concept of “stepping out of your comfort zone” and amplifies it to the nth degree. Specifically, whatever the longitudinal and latitudinal degrees are for Antarctica.
This is a story that is as much about self-discovery as it is about taking that first big step into the great unknown. It’s about the importance of forging real, tangible bonds with others. It’s about reiterating the age-old fact that your dream will never come true if you never even try to put the effort in to do so. Watching Kimari and her friends embark on this journey, grapple and come to terms with these lessons, then grow from them isn’t just beautiful, it’s downright inspirational.
A Place Further than the Universe is a hallmark example of how the anime medium can be used for more than just plain entertainment. It’s a tour de force that delivers on each and every story beat and is sure to resonate deeply with individuals from all walks of life.
Attack on Titan Season 3 (Mike Worby)
The third season of the cannibalistic giant fighting series, Attack on Titan, took a surprising turn as it shifted the battle focus to other humans, rather than the massive foes for which it’s known.
While this may initially have been a tad off-putting, all doubts were put to rest in the second episode alone, where a tense and frantic Levi escaped an ambush from the new anti-personnel squad in one of the best sequences of animation you’ll see all year.
Even if all of the political talk grew a smidge long in the tooth as the season went on, no season of Attack on Titan has offered as many answers, or filled in as many gaps in the mythology as the most recent pass has.
Now, with the “Battle for Shinganshina” arc right around the corner, it looks as though Attack on Titan will keep going strong with maybe its finest season yet. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Citrus (Shane Dover)
Citrus is a yuri romance which forms quite a mature love story. Whilst the series does have a decent share of fan service, the layered and often quite depressing love story overshadows it as the season goes on. Yuzu, the main character, also fills a fairly rare style of character in a ‘gal,’ and with professional assistance in regards to both the ‘gal’ culture and food, the show has a lot of attention to detail.
Yuzu’s journey through confusion to determination as she explores strange new feelings dives through jealousy, sexuality, sexual assault, and blooming relationships. Even through the dramatic tension, the show finds plenty of opportunities to be lighthearted, funny, and adorable. Citrus comes highly recommended to all interested in the yuri genre, and even romance plots in general.
Devilman Crybaby (Mike Worby)
The year’s silliest named anime, Devilman Crybaby, is not a spin-off of Devil May Cry, but the tone and content of the show do not put that assessment too far off the mark.
Netflix’s anime series focuses on Akira Fudo, a boy who manages to battle invading onslaughts of demons by taking their powers into himself. He is both aided and opposed by his friend/rival Ryo Asuka, whose motivations always appear sinister, even when he seems to be helping our hero. Smallville fans, think Clark and Lex, and you’re pretty close to the mark.
Though the ambition of the series, which features a trio of rappers, some of the most audacious animation ever, and one hell of a take on the end of the world, can be a bit much to take in over 10 episodes, there’s absolutely something to be said for a series that wastes so very little time getting to the point.
Goblin Slayer (Mike Worby)
Few anime premieres, or premieres of any kind really, created as much controversy as the brutal first episode of Goblin Slayer. With beast on human rape, the massacre of the seeming main characters, and a host of savage violence, it isn’t hard to see why the initial episode courted so much chatter. However, if you follow the first season through, you may find a lot to love in Goblin Slayer.
For one thing, the sexual assault element of the series is not just here for shock value. Goblin Slayer uses the threat and occasional follow-through of rape to make very serious points, while also motivating its female cast from time to time. Still, if this little write-up is firing the warning triggers in your head, or sounding a bit icky, I’d suggest skipping the series, as this element can be very disturbing.
Outside of the brutality, Goblin Slayer also succeeds by alternating between embracing fantasy tropes and turning them on their head. While it might seem a bit silly to think that the gods of this world are little more than folks playing Dungeons and Dragons, the balls of a show like this, to even attempt such an out there idea, are admirable as hell.
Hinamatsuri (Paul Palumbo)
The best thing about Hinamatsuri is how many plates it juggles at once. The main story focuses on Hina, a telepathic, dimension-hopping middle schooler with a bored worldview, dropping unexpectedly into the life of Nitta, an up-and-coming mafia member. Shenanigans abound as the two adopt the most spiteful father-daughter dynamic imaginable. It balances perfectly the genuine scenes of emotion with the snarky ones about how miserable the two make each other, all the while throwing in plenty of jokes and perfectly timed one-liners. The wacky, self-aware comedy style is perfected as the show takes itself just seriously enough to mean something, while freeing up every once in a while to throw in some jokes.
But when Hinamatsuri gets bored of one dynamic, it simply creates another to explore. It will completely ignore Hina for a while to focus on Anzu, another dimension-hopping telepathic tween who has been adopted by homeless men rather than wealthy mafia elite. When that comedy well has run dry, Anzu will be adopted by another family and the show will explore the comedy there. Hinamatsuri stays in one scenario just long enough to get bored with it. New characters, stakes, and scenarios are constantly forming to keep the show moving. Hinamatsuri doesn’t limit itself at all; if Hina’s constant monologue of apathy gets too prevalent, it will switch over to different characters experiencing a different arc that only sometimes interacts with the titular character. It’s a hilarious show with a delightful cast that’s definitely worth a watch.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (Paul Palumbo)
The 5th part of the JoJo series really puts the emphasis on bizarre. It focuses on the young Giorno Giovanna, who fits into the Joestar family tree like a square peg jammed into a round hole, in his quest to rise to the top of the Passione criminal gang in order to seize control and stop it from doing the most immoral deeds. To do this he joins a whole crew of psychopaths and gets in a bunch of fights with other psychopaths, each wielding ghostly apparitions called “Stands” that come with strange powers.
While it might seem like par for the course, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind makes itself unique among JoJo arcs in a few ways. For one, the stand powers are much less straightforward this time around. Instead of powers like “can fix things” or “punches really good,” Giorno has the ability to create life. The man can turn a suitcase into a frog, or even his own tooth into a jellyfish, which widens the playing field for all sorts of nonsensical situations and crazy battle strategies. For another, he’s the first JoJo who is acting upon the story rather than having it thrust upon him. All previous JoJo’s are dealing with bad situations, but GioGio stands alone as a man trying to accomplish his ambition instead of simply stopping the bad guy. It still follows a lot of the tried and true Joestar formula, but shakes it up enough to keep it fresh for new and returning fans alike. While it’s too early to say how it will rank in the JoJo lineage, it’s off to a promising start.
Megalo Box (Kyle Rogacion)
A good remake or adaptation should bring something new to the table. Megalo Box does just that. A reinterpretation of the classic Ashita no Joe, Megalo Box follows the spunky junkyard boxer Joe. The premise of the show is unabashedly simple: Joe fights for the sake of fighting.
Megalo Box helps prop up a rather simple concept with its fun cast and equally fun aesthetic. Set in a not-so-distant cyberpunk-esque future, the world of Megalo Box is one that feels grimy and lived in. The scuffed machinery, dusty air, and believable tech come together to create a world that abides by its own rules.
The sport of choice in this worn future is Megalo Boxing. Unlike normal boxing, Megalo Boxing makes use of mechanized frames called “gears” that adorn the boxer’s arms. Joe makes a name for himself as “Gearless Joe”, forgoing the need for gear and fighting his way to the top with his own strength.
Much like Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop, Megalo Box adopts a contemporary soundtrack to emphasize a specific tone. In Megalo Box’s case, it uses hip-hop and funk to great effect. The hypnotic melodies and thumping beats drive a current of forward-moving energy that moves in tandem with Joe’s rise to the top.
Of course, the main draw behind Megalo Box is the fighting. While the animation is far from perfect, it does a good enough job to convey the emotion and struggle of the characters. The lack of fluidity is more than compensated by how invested you get in whether or not Joe comes out the winner.
The grit and grime of Megalo Box’s stylish underdog story make it more than worthy of a watch.
My Hero Academia Season 3 (Harry Morris)
It’s no secret I love My Hero Academia. My frequent coverage of the series has been consistently glowing, and for good reason. Never have I witnessed a series so consistent in its quality, so jam-packed with miraculous characters, and so gosh darn entertaining.
Its third season is no exception, delivering a hefty helping of superb superhero shenanigans. From fending off the League of Villains’ brutal attack to a tense Provisional Hero License Exam, to All Might’s fabled face off with arch nemesis All For One, Izuku’s adventures bound from strength to strength throughout My Hero Academia’s third season. Anticipation is aptly built for 2019’s follow-up, which will no doubt continue raising the bar.
If you haven’t seen My Hero Academia yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice (unless you despise fun and ‘objectively awesome things’).
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san (George Cheese)
Sometimes, anime doesn’t need to be about mind-melting action or dramatic, over-acted plot twists. This is something that I, to be frank, have only recently learned in the last half a decade. It makes sense, though; in hindsight, I was naive to simply consider anime a source of adventure-fight-laser shonen stories. Anime can be many things, from a dynamic medium filled with dramatic, nuanced tales, to light-hearted comedic affairs ruminating on the woes of every-day life. Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san falls into this latter category.
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san follows the titular bookseller, Honda, and is based on the author’s own experience working as a retail assistant in a popular bookshop in Tokyo. Each episode is a tight ten minutes, often featuring two short vignettes of day-to-day work in the shop. Empowered with socially awkward interactions and strong voice-acting from the tight-knit cast (all drawn with horror-themed faces, perhaps due to author Honda wanting to ensure their anonymity), Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san masterfully blends cringe-inducing humor, situational goofiness, and a wholesome innocence to create a short-form anime well-suited to your own daily commute to work.
Yuru Camp (Kyle Rogacion)
The therapy of anime should not be discounted. Here at Goomba Stomp, we’ve repeatedly sung Yuru Camp’s praises, and with good reason.
Where other shows would be content to stop at “cute girls doing cute things”, Yuru Camp makes the effort to respect its subject matter. A great amount of care and attention goes not only into the act of camping but why people camp.
With its wonderfully endearing cast of characters, Yuru Camp covers a surprisingly broad spectrum of topics. The two main characters, Rin and Nadeshiko, bond over their two very different approaches to camping. Rin prefers the quiet solitude of solo camping, while Nadeshiko joyfully rushes into it with wanton abandon.
Over the course of the series, Rin slowly opens up to Nadeshiko and other newfound friends, realizing that camping can be just as gratifying with others. The main cast dynamic cultivates a wholesome sense of humor that keeps you grinning the entire time.
In spite of not having a “plot”, Yuru Camp’s strength lies in its carefully crafted sense of tone and mood. It’s easily one of the comfiest shows I’ve ever watched. The camping takes place during a brisk autumnal season, where the air has taken on a chill just shy of winter. A soft breeze rustles falling leaves in the Japanese countryside against a backdrop of gentle folk music. Yuru Camp takes life slowly and enjoys every moment, encouraging you to do the same.