Entertainment

The Best Anime of 2019

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
'Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba' | Ufotable
'Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba' | Ufotable

There's arguably never been a better time than now to be a fan of anime. As a multi-billion dollar industry, the once-niche cultural export has morphed into a worldwide phenomenon, its impact and reach seen and felt in nearly every facet of contemporary animation. With as many options as are afforded to viewers nowadays -- not mention the decades-worth of content accessible through streaming services like Netflix and Hulu and Crunchyroll -- it's also never been trickier to keep up with all the new releases within a single year. 2019 had so much to offer in the way of anime, from remakes of venerated contemporary and cult classics like Boogiepop and Others and Dororo, to hotly anticipated follow-up seasons to shows like Mob Psycho 100 and One Punch Man, to brand-new shows that blew us away. Instead of wasting your time sussing out some crappy new series, read this highly curated, obsessive list of the best new anime of 2019. 

Looking for more anime? Head over to our lists of the best anime from 2020 and the best anime of the 2010s. For even more recommendations, check out our picks for the Best Movies of 2019 and the Best TV Shows of 2019.

one punch man s2
J.C. Staff

24. One-Punch Man (Season 2)

Release date: April 9
Director: Chikara Sakurai
Animation production: J.C. Staff
The comic-heroic saga of Saitama, a self-proclaimed "hero for fun" who possesses the absurd superhuman ability to defeat any adversary with one punch, was an near-instant hit among anime aficionados for its outlandish animation, breathtaking fight scenes, and unflappable deadpan humor. Ever since the first season of One-Punch Man premiered and blew everyone's face off in 2015, fans have been eagerly anticipating the next, and after a four year wait, it's finally here. Fans and critics of the first season were curious as to how the switch between production studios and staff from Madhouse, who chose instead to produce this year's Boogiepop and Others, and J.C. Staff would affect the overall quality of the show's animation. To be sure, the absence of director Shingo Natsume and the deft talents of animators as Sejoon Kim and the legendary Yutaka Nakamura are certainly missed here, but considering the season's tortured production and limitations, J.C. Staff still manage to deliver a serviceable follow-up that strives for the over-the-top bombast and comedy of the first season and misses by just a hair. Still, more One-Punch Man is still more One-Punch Man, and if you're a fan of the series, it's certainly worth riding out this season if only to bathe in its flashes of awesome spectacle.
Available on:VIZ, Hulu

midnight occult civil servants
Liden Films

23. Midnight Occult Civil Servants

Release date: April 7
Director: Tetsuya Watanabe
Animation production: Liden Films
Miyako Arata is a young civil servant newly transferred to a seemingly inconspicuous department in the Shinjuku Ward Office. Though led to believe his job will be a mundane and bureaucratic one, the unsuspecting Arata soon realizes that the responsibilities of his new role are anything but. Assigned to the Nocturnal Community Relations Division, Arata and his coworkers Sakaki Kyouchi and Himezuka Seo are tasked with acting as liaisons between the world of humans and the world of the "Anothers," otherworldly beings imperceptible to those who lack an intuitive aptitude for the supernatural. With a likeable cast, engrossing moment-to-moment drama, and an aura of mystery complete with a handful of surprising twists and revelations, Midnight Occult Civil Servants is an entertaining urban fantasy-meets-workplace drama well worth carving out the time to watch.
Available on: Crunchyroll

mix
OLM

22. MIX: Meisei Story

Release date: April 6
Director: Odahiro Watanabe
Animation production: OLM
Adapted from Mitsuru Adachi's 2012 ongoing shonen baseball series, itself a semi-sequel to Adachi's 1981 series Touch (which received its own critically-acclaimed anime adaptation in 1985), MIX: Meisi Story centers on the journey of two step-brothers, Touma "Tou" and Souichirou "Sou" Tachibana, who, following in the footsteps of Touch's Tatsuya Uesugi, aspire to lead their middle-school baseball team to win the national Kōshien baseball tournament. Though not entirely apart from what one would expect from a run-of-the-mill shonen sports series, MIX shines among its contemporaries on the merit of its charming cast, beautiful animation, and inventive implementation of fourth-wall breaking transitions and tongue-in-cheek narration. Tou and Sou's dogged determination to see their way to victory is earnest and inspiring in a way not unlike that of a season of Pokémon -- not surprising, given the fact that MIX's main writer, Atsuhiro Tomioka, is known for his past and ongoing contributions to several seasons, films, and specials of the Pokémon series. If you're looking for a wide-eyed fun, inspiring, and visually impressive sports anime this year, and aren't necessarily game to try and catch up on over a hundred episodes of Ace of the Diamond, MIX: Meisi Story is a perfect choice.
Available on: Crunchyroll

Kaguya-sama: Love is War
A-1 Pictures

21. Kaguya-sama: Love is War

Release date: January 12
Director: Mamoru Hatakeyama
Animation production: A-1 Pictures
In the "contest" of romance, the person who falls in love first -- or "catches feelings" as the kids say nowadays -- is the loser. Or at least, that's the premise of A-1 Pictures' Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War. Adapted from the popular ongoing manga of the same name, Love Is War follows the story of Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya, two genius-level students attending the illustrious Shuch’in Academy, who quietly harbor feelings for one another. So far, so boring. But there’s a twist: Due to an ill-fated combination of entrenched class consciousness, emotional immaturity, and toxic adolescent pride, neither Shirogane or Shinomiya will acknowledge their feelings for the other. Rather than healthily process these emotions and talk things out like, y’know, adults, Shirogane and Shinomiya instead elect to orchestrate an elaborate series of public situations to force the other to confess their feelings first in a bid to save face. The result is a romantic comedy infused with the intensity of a psychological thriller that’s equal parts hilarious and infuriating for all the right reasons.
Available on:Crunchyroll, Hulu, FunimationNow

boogiepop and others
Madhouse

20. Boogiepop and Others

Release date: January 4
Director: Shingo Natsume
Animation production: Madhouse
The latest anime adaptation of Kouhei Kadono's influential early aughts light novel series, Boogiepop and Others, is an anthology swirling around Boogiepop, a vigilante alter-ego of high schooler Touka Miyashita that possesses her body in moments of mortal crisis in the fight against a cadre of otherworldly creatures with ties to a shadowy entity known only as the Towa organization. As a series, Boogiepop and Others could be best described as a slow-burn supernatural mystery thriller dotted with adrenaline-spiking sequences of horror, action, and suspense set against a backdrop of stunning metropolitan vistas. As an adaptation of not only the first novel in Kadono's series, but several of the series' other celebrated entries such as Boogiepop at Dawn, Boogiepop Returns: VS Imaginator, and Boogiepop Overdrive: The King of Distortion, the series is a must-watch for longtime fans of the Boogiepop and an ideal point of entry for anyone new to and curious about the franchise. If that's not enough to move the needle, the series is being produced and animated by the same director and team responsible for 2015’s satirical superhero smash-hit One Punch Man.
Available on: Crunchyroll, FunimationNow

fruits basket
TMS/8PAN

19. Fruits Basket

Release date: April 6
Director: Yoshihide Ibata
Animation production: TMS/8PAN
Natsuki Takaya's Fruits Basket is a perennial favorite among fans of shojo (i.e. 'young woman') manga for its charming slice-of-life storyline, empathetically rendered characters, engrossing relational dynamics, and earnest, offbeat humor, and the series' early '00s television adaptation even more so. This year's reboot, produced by TMS Entertainment and directed by Yoshihide Ibata (Kill La Kill, FLCL Progressive), is a meticulous and loving take on the source material that champions its dedication to telling the original manga's story in full. Fruits Basket follows the story of Tohru Honda, a hardworking and optimistic high schooler who is taken in by the Soma clan, a reclusive family whose members each carry the reincarnated spirit of an animal from the Chinese Zodiac. While balancing the demands of school and her new role as a surrogate member of the Soma clan, Tohru grows as a young woman while inadvertently facilitating the growth of each of the members of the family, tightening bonds that vacillate between the familial and romantic. 2019's Fruits Basket is a disarmingly endearing romantic comedy with just enough twists on the formula of the genre to pull in newcomers while satisfying longtime fans of the original.
Available on: Crunchyroll, FunimationNow

rilakkuma and kaoru
Netflix

18. Rilakkuma and Kaoru

Release date: April 6
Director: Nobuyuki Takeuchi, Kunihiko Ikuhara
Animation production: MAPPA, Lapin Track
Rilakkuma and Kaoru follows Kaoru, the show's titular 20-something office worker, as she navigates the challenges of her job, home life, the expectations of her family and peers, as well as the vague but palpable experience of depression and ennui that accompanies young adulthood, all while taking care of Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori, two anthropomorphic bears that beginning living with Kaoru and her pet bird, respectively. The show is notable for being one of the most recent and prominent examples of stop-motion animation in anime, a technique too often marginalized to a niche within the anime industry, but no less expressive and impressive. A charming slice-of-life comedy with coming-of-age elements, both the series’ writing and animation are excellent. It's hardly surprising given that the former is credited to Naoko Ogigami, an award-winning Japanese comedy writer-director, and the latter to key animators such as Katsushi Bouda and Shigeru Okada, lauded stop-motion artists. At its heart, Rilakkuma and Kaoru is much like Netflix’s 2018 series Aggretsuko: taking the beloved mascot of a commercial brand and centering them at the heart of a sincere and affecting exploration of the inherent loneliness of young adulthood and the value of genuine, persistent friendships. For this alone, Rilakkuma and Kaoru shines as one of the best anime of 2019.
Available on: Netflix

aggretsuko
Netflix

17. Aggretsuko (Season 2)

Release date: June 14
Director: Rarecho
Animation production: Fanworks
Rarecho and Fanworks' Aggretsuko was a breakout hit when it premiered on Netflix early last year. So much so that we're now treated to yet another new season, this time filled with even more delightful surprises and twists than the first. When we last left Retsuko, our plucky metal karaoking red panda protagonist, it seemed as though she was in a pretty good spot between her work-life and actual life. Sure, her job as an accounting clerk still sucks and her love life -- or lack thereof -- may leave something to be desired, but Retsuko came out of the challenges of that first season a stronger, wiser, and more confident young woman willing to assert her worth, speak up for herself, and more willing to act on her own needs and desires. Season 2 finds Retsuko tackling new, albeit familiar challenges in the form of Anai, an aggressively hypersensitive intern under her tutelage, the intrusive helicopter parenting of her own mother who insists on her finding a partner and settling down, and a new love interest with a surprising background. An immensely satisfying continuation of the first, Aggretsuko Season 2 is one of 2019's must-watch series.
Available on:Netflix

dr stone
TMS Entertainment

16. Dr. Stone

Release date: July 5
Director: Shinya Lino
Animation production: TMS Entertainment
Concurrently running alongside Riichiro Inagaki's popular sci-fi adventure manga, the Dr. Stone anime follows the story of Senku Ishigami, a genius, leek-haired high school student with a passion for astronomy and space exploration, and his oafish, lovable childhood friend Taiju Ōki as they attempt to rebuild civilization in the wake of a mysterious event that transforms every human being on the planet into stone. A sci-fi action comedy that plays out like a post-apocalyptic mash-up of Andy Weir's The Martian crossed with Rick and Morty, Senku and Taiju embark on a quest to revive every human being on the planet and crack what caused their sudden affliction using nothing more than wits, brawn, guile, and pure ingenuity to science the shit out of this problem. From constructing shelter to distilling alcohol, building fires to forging gunpowder, every new discovery is as thrilling to witness in action as it is hilarious to hear explained to Taiju in Senku's dry, matter-of-fact wit. If you're looking for an anime that'll make you feel just a tad bit smarter for having watched it, Dr. Stone is the anime for you.
Available on:Crunchyroll, FunimationNow

babylon
Revoroot

15. Babylon

Release date: October 7
Director: Kiyotaka Suzuki
Animation production: Revoroot
Through and through crime procedurals feel like a rarity in anime, often mashed-up with either some supernatural horror or science-fiction element that asserts primacy over the comparatively mundane, but no less fascinating appeal of a straightforward mystery. Bablyon arguably follows in this vein, albeit while being principally focused on the drama of actual police work. Adapted from Mado Nozaki’s original novel series, the show centers around Zen Seizaki, a no-nonsense public prosecutor in a newly founded district west of Tokyo, ensnared in a sinister conspiracy involving an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company and a confederacy of political power brokers. What seems like a routine case explodes into a race against time to wrest control of this new district from its corrupt leadership and prevent the deaths of untold counts of people. Babylon is a suspenseful, surprising, and utterly enthralling crime thriller that’ll have you gripped at the edge of your seat by each episode’s end.
Available on:Amazon Prime

no guns life
Madhouse

14. No Guns Life

Release date: October 10
Director: Naoyuki Itō
Animation production: Madhouse
No Guns Life is a proud addition in the canon of action anime with ridiculous premises, answering the age-old question: "What if a cyborg had, I don't know, a giant gun for a head and was able to, like, punch things so hard they explode?" Adapted from Tasuku Karasuma's manga series of the same name, No Guns Life follows Juzo Inui, an amnesiac military cyborg-turned-resident private eye in a futuristic city governed by Berühren, a megalomaniacal weapons manufacturer, and populated by mechanically augmented humans called "Extended." After being enlisted to protect the life of a mysterious young boy named Tetsuro, Juzo takes the young ward under his care and mounts a one-man war against Berühren forces in their bid to ensnare the young Tetsurō for their own nefarious ends. Directed by Naoyuki Itō of the Overlord series and scored by Kenji Kawaii of Ghost in the Shell fame, No Guns Life may be known best for its combination of traditionally animated action set against CG backgrounds animated courtesy, of all things, Epic Games' Unreal Engine. If you're looking for gritty sci-fi action brawler with eccentric characters and thrilling action, No Guns Life is a sure bet.
Available on:Hulu

saiki k
Netflix

13. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K: Reawakened

Release date: December 30
Director: Hiroaki Sakurai
Animation production: EGG FIRM and J.C. Staff
Dropping at the last possible second of 2019, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K: Reawakened added a hilarious finale to the end of the year with its self-aware madcap antics. Picking up after its two-episode special that nearly destroyed the world, pink-haired former psychokinetic Saiki Kusuo learns that life isn't all that great without his powers, which, in the show's breakneck fashion (that includes its extremely brief intro theme), are quickly restored so he can go back to his life among his idiot band of misfit peers and parents, fellow clairvoyants, and rival brother. This is a gag show in its tightest form; this one-off additional season doesn't miss a beat and stands out as one of the funniest modern additions to the medium in a long time.
Available on:Netflix

vinland saga
Wit Studio

12. Vinland Saga

Release date: July 7
Director: Shūhei Yabuta
Animation production: Wit Studio
Adapted from Makoto Yukimura's popular historical fiction manga series, Vinland Saga tells the journey of Thorfinn Karlsefni, a legendary Icelandic explorer as he embarks on a perilous quest to avenge the death of his father. Initially set in the year 1002 A.D., the series follows Thorfinn's story from childhood to adulthood, maturing from a lighthearted boy into a harsh, relentless warrior until finally leaving to colonize North America alongside Leif Erikson. Drawing elements from real-life historical accounts, Vinland Saga is an intense and captivating fictionalized depiction of a fascinating, albeit under-discussed, chapter of European history: the Vikings. Beneath the heart-pounding action and impressive animation pulses a resolutely humanist theme of anti-violence and pro-human decency, with Thorfinn’s father Thors imparting him with the life lesson that every human being is fighting a hard battle and that no one is truly his enemy. Still early in its season, Vinland Saga has already secured its place as one of the year's best. 
Available on: Amazon Prime

fire force
David Production

11. Fire Force

Release date: July 5
Director: Yuuki Yase
Animation production: David Production
In an alternate steampunk universe of our own, the world is besieged by a mysterious epidemic of spontaneous human combustion, transforming otherwise mild-mannered humans into ghoulish supernatural creatures known as "Infernals." Shinra Kusakabe, a third-generation pyrokinetic with aspirations of becoming a fire-fighting hero, enlists as a rookie firefighter of the Special Fire Force, a semi-religious order of pyromancers dedicated to exorcising Infernals and defending Tokyo from their persistent threat. With an all-star production team of talent of the likes of chief animation director Hideyuki Morioka (Kizumonogatari), Hiroyuki Ookaji, Riki Matsuura, and Kazuhiro Miwa -- many of whom previously worked together at Studio SHAFT -- Fire Force is one of the most visually impressive and distinctive shonen series of the year. With starkly rendered background layouts, exciting fight sequences, and mischievous sense of fourth wall-prodding humor, Fire Force is this year's hottest (pun absolutely intended) new action anime.
Available on: Crunchyroll, FunimationNow

my hero academia
Bones

10. My Hero Academia (Season 4)

Release date: October 12
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Animation production: Bones
Studio Bones' flagship shōnen anime triumphantly returns for another season of super heroics and high action With the retirement of his mentor and the relocation of his peers in the wake of the League of Villains' latest attack, Season 4 of My Hero Academia finds young Izuku "Deku" Midoriya at a crucial turning point in his quest to become All Might's successor. Featuring nefarious new villains, startling revelations, and even more super-powered action, My Hero Academia once again asserts its claim as one of the best anime airing right now.
Available on:Crunchyroll, FunimationNow

blade of the immortal
Linden Studios

9. Blade of the Immortal

Release date: October 10
Director: Hiroshi Hamasaki
Animation production: Linden Films
2019’s Blade of the Immortal is the second anime adaptation of Hiroaki Samura’s landmark chanabra revenge series, intended to adapt the entirety of the original manga as opposed to the 2008 series’ truncated 13-episode run. Set in the feudal era of Japan’s Tokugawa period, the series centers on Rin, a young woman who seeks to avenge her parents who were slain at the hands of ruthless mercenary school of swordsmen known as the Ittō-ryū. Without the skills to face them on her own, she enlists the aid of Manji, a foul-tempered samurai cursed with immortality who must kill 1,000 evil men in order to earn his mortality -- and a peaceful death -- back. Directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki of Steins;gate fame, Linden Films’ Blade of the Immortal is an exquisite adaptation packed with scintillating blink-and-you’ll-miss-it swordplay, balletic gore, and artfully paced storytelling.
Available on:Amazon Prime

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Ufotable

8. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Release date: April 9
Director: Haruo Sotozaki
Animation production: Ufotable
Adapted from Koyoharu Gotōge’s ongoing Shonen Jump manga series, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba follows Tanjiro Kamado, a young charcoal merchant turned demon slayer, as he sets out on a journey of discovery and revenge to not only avenge his family’s grisly murder, but to find a cure for his younger sister Nezuko, who survived their family’s attack only to be transformed into a feral half-demon with an aversion to sunlight. Ufotable is perhaps best known for their work on the Fate franchise, a byzantine dark fantasy series renowned for its dazzling fight sequences and digital animation; fortunately, those qualities carry over to Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. While the show might not be as thematically-nuanced or poignant as, say, Dororo, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is an impressive shonen adventure series in its own right and is sure to appeal to any fan of Naruto or Black Clover and stands as one of the most well-animated fantasy chanbara series to come out this year.
Available on:Crunchyroll

dororo
MAPPA/Tezuka Productions

7. Dororo

Release date: January 7
Director: Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Animation production: MAPPA, Tezuka Productions
In the midst of a terrible plague at the height of Japan’s Warring States period, Lord Daigo Kagemitsu of the Ishikawa province makes a pact with 12 demons in order to save his region and secure a path towards a future of wealth and power for his region. In exchange, each of the demons collect on Kagemitsu's debt by taking body parts from his newly born son -- his limbs, his eyes, his tongue, his skin -- until the baby is rendered into a horrifying testament to his father's sins, a newborn that's only exposed muscle and bones. Years later, the boy, having survived his father's attempts to get rid of him out of shame, grows up to become an itinerant swordsman named Hyakkimaru with a prosthetic body, sheathed swords for arms, and the extrasensory ability to "see" demons. Adapted from Ozamu Tezuka’s original manga and anime from the late ‘60s, Dororo tells the story of Hyakkimaru’s quest to slay demons, regain his humanity, and learn to open up to other people in a time of immense cruelty with the help of his companion, an orphaned thief by the name of Dororo. Produced by Studio Mappa (Kids on the Slope, Yuri on Ice, Banana Fish) and directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi (Rurouni Kenshin, Hunter × Hunter '99, and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn), Dororo is an anime as viscerally violent as it is heartbreaking, and a series that should not be missed.
Available on:Amazon Prime

o maidens
Lay-Duce

6. O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Release date: July 5
Director: Masahiro Ando, Takurō Tsukada
Animation production: Lay-Duce
What's the big deal with sex? No, seriously, like what the heck is it? It's a question that's undoubtedly crossed your mind at one point or another in your life, and one that comes to dominate much of the protagonists' in O Maidens in Your Savage Season. As affecting as an emotional drama as it is a coming-of-age comedy, O Maidens in Your Savage Season is a disarmingly earnest and beautiful story of a group of young girls embarking on their own personal and perilous journey of adolescence into adulthood. The humor is clever without tripping over into egregious raunchiness, and the respective arcs of protagonist Kazusa Onodera and her friends are well-written and relatable. O Maidens in Your Savage Season may slip under the radar when compared to some of the more prolific anime series to premiere this year, but it undoubtedly deserves mention among this year’s best.
Available on: VRV

carole & tuesday
Netflix

4. Carole & Tuesday

Release date: April 10
Director: Shinichirō Watanabe, Motonobu Hori
Animation production: Bones
By now, if you're an anime fan, you already know who Shinichirō Watanabe is, and if you don't, it's my pleasure to catch you up. The director behind such medium-defining works such as Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Space Dandy, not to mention 2017's Blade Runner Black Out 2022, Watanabe is widely celebrated as one of the anime industry's best directors working today, known for his love of music and penchant for anachronistic sci-fi premises. Carole & Tuesday, the latest series directed by Watanabe and the 20th anniversary project from studio Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, My Hero Academia, Eureka Seven), is a labor of love about, well, the labor of love; a sci-fi folk fairy tale of two young women's dream to make it big as musicians in a future where humans have long since colonized Mars, a world that feels both uncanny and wholly lived in. Minor pacing issues and questionable representation aside, Carole & Tuesday is a noble effort and ranks as, if not one of Watanabe's best, one of the year's best anime to date.
Available on:Netflix

the promised neverland
CloverWorks

3. The Promised Neverland

Release date: January 11
Director: Mamoru Kanbe
Animation production: CloverWorks
The Promised Neverland follows 11-year-old Emma and her best friends, Norman and Ray, three of 37 orphaned children who live on a mysterious walled estate called the Grace Field House. Under the watchful eye of their caretaker known simply as Mom, the children are afforded the best that life can offer. Gourmet meals, plush beds, immaculate white outfits, and ample play time while they wait to one day be adopted by a loving family. However, the quiet idyllicism of Grace Field is swiftly shattered when Emma and Co. stumble upon a dark secret which underlies the House’s very existence. Horrified by their discovery, the three conspire to escape with the rest of children into the outside world, as the machinations of both their caretaker and Grace Field’s mysterious benefactors move steadily to completion. With a premise that sounds like a cross between From The New World and Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, The Promised Neverland is an engrossing fantasy thriller with deft animation, savvy editing, and a taut atmosphere of mortal horror juxtaposed against a disquietingly cheerful exterior.
Available on:Crunchyroll, Hulu

sarazanmai
MAPPA, Lapin Track

2. Sarazanmai

Release date: April 6
Director: Nobuyuki Takeuchi, Kunihiko Ikuhara
Animation production: MAPPA, Lapin Track
Let's cut straight to the point: Sarazanmai is one of, if not the most bizarre, idiosyncratic, visually audacious, and thematically evocative anime to air in 2019. Describing just exactly what the hell Saranzanmai is to someone who has never seen an anime directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Pengiundrum, Yurikuma Arashi) is about as difficult as it would be to describe the concept of 'water' and what the hell it means for something to be 'wet' to an alien. But, put simply, the show follows three middle-schoolers -- Kazuki Yasaka, Kuji Toi, and Enta Jinnai -- as they are transformed into kappa, amphibious beak-faced demons, after releasing Keppi, the guardian spirit of Asakusa, from the statue containing him and accidentally insulting him. To return to human form, the three are tasked with exorcising "kappa-zombies," malicious poltergeists, by performing elaborate dance numbers in a liminal dimension to steal the zombies’ shirikodama, magical spheres representing human desire, by forcibly removing them from their anuses. That is the tamest, most perfunctory description of what Sarazanmai is about, and it only gets stranger from here on out. Ikuhara is known for writing shows with socially-conscious premises powered by avant-garde visuals laden with labyrinthine levels of subtextual depth, and Sarazanmai is no different. Even knowing that, nothing can quite prepare you for the surprises this show has to offer. If nothing else, know this: It is one of the most daring, earnest, and empathetic series to air this year, and save for having watched one of Ikuhara's works in the past, you won’t see anything else quite like it.
Available on:Crunchyroll

Mob Psycho 100 II
Bones

1. Mob Psycho 100 II

Release date: January 7
Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa
Animation production: Bones
Coming hot on the tail of the series' breakout debut in 2016, Mob Psycho 100 II carries the torch of its predecessor's pedigree as one of the most hilarious, kinetic, and aesthetically eclectic anime to air in recent memory, pushing that envelope even further in its second season. With most, if not all, of the original staff from the first season returning for this outing, including animator Miya Sato, whose masterful "oil on glass" animation has distinguished so many of the previous season's stand-out sequences, the adventures of layabout con artist Reigen Arataka, his formidably powerful protege, Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama, and their poltergeist sidekick, Dimple, continue to ramp up as Mob journeys through adolescence in the face of ever-more perilous stakes. Aside from its adventurous animation, whip-sharp comedic timing, and impressive action sequences, Mob Psycho 100 II is a touching coming-of-age story of the relationship between a mentor and his pupil, and how the two help each to grow into more mature, earnest, and better-adjusted individuals. Come from the pyrotechnics, stay for the waterworks.
Available on:Crunchyroll, Hulu Live

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, get Streamail for more entertainment, and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Toussaint Egan is a contributor to Thrillist.