Each season dozens of anime air, but only a few come out on the top as contenders for the best anime of the year. From classics getting a second chance to a new trio's struggle for survival, 2019 had a lot to offer for anime.For IGN's best anime series award, anime must have completed airing their season in the U.S. in 2019 in order to be eligible. This means My Hero Academia's fourth season will be up for consideration in 2020.
Click through the gallery above or scroll down the page for the full list of nominees!
More Game of the Year Awards
- Game of the Year 2019
- Best PS4 Game of 2019
- Best Xbox Game of 2019
- Best Switch Game of 2019
- Best PC Game of 2019
- (see all awards)
Attack on Titan Season 3
After last season of Attack on Titan capped with a big political drama, it was great to see Attack on Titan Season 3 really dive into its gruesome action roots. Not only that, but this season is tighter with better animation and plenty of answers to some of our biggest questions. The lore of Attack on Titan is deeper, the characters and even the titans are more interesting, and stakes continue to climb with this excellent season.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
A slow burn at first, it took a few episodes for us to fully realize how special Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba really is. It’s set in Japan during the Taisho period (early 1900s) and follows the story of Tanjiro, a young man set on revenge against a demon who massacred his family and left his younger sister Nezuko a demon herself. Against all odds, Tanjiro begins training as a “demon slayer” with Nezuko by his side (usually contained in a box).Tanjiro never loses his kindness and empathy throughout harrowing, beautifully animated battles, which breathes life into all characters – friendly or not. Demon Slayer’s action sequences are, quite frankly, out of this world, each unique from the last and grounded by tension. The most dramatic scenes merge all aspects – music, animation, story – into a beautiful symphony of emotional spectacle, and the grandeur simply never gets old.
Dr. Stone is an explosive chemical reaction of fantasy and sci-fi that results in an extremely fun show about a modern-day genius awakening in a world without technology. It’s essentially an isekai in disguise, but while shows like Sword Art Online, ReZero, and Shield Hero are grounded in fantasy, Dr. Stone is instead built on a foundation of science.It’s fascinating to watch Senku and friends slowly move up the ladder of technology, and the show’s wild displays of scientific ingenuity are enough to make us want to get up, bust out some carbonated water, cilantro, lime, and honey, and try to make some cola.
Fruits Basket is an all-time great when it comes to shoujo manga, and its 2019 remake is an incredible reminder of why the story of Tohru Honda and the Sohma’s resonates so deeply with anime fans. It succeeds as both a feel-good high school romance comedy with an excellent love triangle dynamic, and as a dramatic tale of a family steeped in trauma, abuse, and darkness.
Its first season largely retells events that were already covered in the 2001 anime, but the improvements in art, animation, and a closer adhesion to the manga’s original story put it head and shoulders above what was already a classic.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
The buildup to a romantic confession in anime lives or dies by its drama, and Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is jam-packed with hilarious antics that blow most anime about a budding romance out of the water. Protagonists Kaguya Shinomiyua and Miyuki Shirogane are not only the leads of their school's student council and the smartest among their classmates, but they also have massive crushes on each other. However, they're both unwilling to confess their feelings and instead take to mind games and trick to get the other to confess.
Kaguya-sama also features great supporting characters including a great narrator who keeps track of the winner of each round. And though Kaguya-sama is set in a school and does play along with certain elements of it, the segmented sketch structure of each episode allows it to bypass a lot of the day to day logistics to let the comedy shine.
Mob Psycho 100 II
The shy, most powerful psychic Mob and his charming scam artist mentor, Reigen, return for an incredible second season of Mob Psycho 100. Similar to its first season, 8th grader Mob is still doing his best to understand his emotions without letting them overwhelm him so much that he explodes with power.This season features plenty of new enemies and returning allies and intensely ramps up the drama of Mob's relationships. Character growth for Mob and other characters is truly touching too, all while explosive season finale-worthy fights are peppered throughout. This season somehow manages to top the first season in just about every way, and we can't wait to see what's in store for Mob next.
The Promised Neverland
We’re going to try to remain as vague as possible here, because going into The Promised Neverland with absolutely no idea what to expect was one of the best moments of anime in 2019. Its first episode shocked us in ways we haven’t been shocked since watching Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni way back in 2006.
But what’s best about The Promised Neverland is that the show never lets up on that initial momentum, and despite it being a show with very little actual action, each episode is dripping with tension, building towards one hell of a climax that satisfyingly wraps up the season while also leaving us waiting with bated breath for what comes next.
Run With the Wind
Run With the Wind is different than your typical sports anime, and it shines because of that. Instead of focusing the majority of the anime on the action and technical aspect of the sport, which is marathon running in this case, the focus turns towards the members involved. Run with the Wind beautifully portrays the struggle of overcoming the roadblocks of life and pushing yourself to move forward. Watching an eclectic group of people come together is inspiring to watch as we continue to cheer them on for whatever comes next.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Mikami Satoru used to be a regular old Japanese office worker… until he was murdered and reincarnated as a Slime with extraordinary abilities in another world. It’s pretty ripe with isekai tropes, but That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime does it right, well, and even a bit differently. Instead of using his powers to become a hero set to destroy some great evil, Rimuru Tempest (Slime-san!), uses his intelligence and skills to create a safe haven for the monsters in the area, with the ultimate goal to create a utopia for everyone of all races – humanoid or not.
He befriends a village of goblins, an all-powerful tsundere dragon, expert dwarf blacksmiths, and more, and attempts to bring them all together in peace. Part action-adventure, part politics, part harem (but not too over-the-top about it), with plenty of heartstring-tugging drama and fourth-wall-breaking humor to get us through it, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is a wholesome treat.
This fantasy period piece is part drama, part action, and a whole lot of grief. When the news of a blossoming war between England and Denmark reaches a Danish settlement in Iceland, an old Viking is ripped from his peaceful hiding in order to protect the village.
Little does he know that his young son, Thorfinn, stowed away on his ship and they depart for a tragic adventure that will set the child on a bloody, painful path for revenge. Though the action in Vinland Saga is great, its characters and the dark paths many of them walk are what make this anime stand out.
Those are our nominees for the best anime series of 2019 – what are yours? Vote in our Player’s Choice awards below to name your choice!
Which anime made your list of nominees that didn’t make ours? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out all of our other Game of the Year award nominees as well as our picks for the best movies, TV shows, comics, and anime of 2019!