Same format as last year: my top 5; my honourable mentions; my regular mentions; and my dishonourable mentions. No fancy intro. Let’s just get right into it.

5. Astra Lost in Space

Astra Lost in Space

Astra Lost in Space (Source: YouTube)

Was this high school space adventure perfect? God no, especially given its penchant for falling back on gendered tropes. But it knew exactly how to manage its twists and tell a compelling, mostly sensible tale throughout. That’s not nothing.

4. Cannon Busters

Cannon Busters

Cannon Busters (Source: Netflix)

Again, not a perfect show, but one that deftly balanced out its ultra-violent action with comedy and pathos. Plus, it had the best OP of any series this year.

3. Kakegurui xx

Kakegurui xx

Kakegurui xx (Source: Random Curiosity)

Kakegurui‘s sequel series wasn’t as compelling as its first season, but more Yumeko Jabami is always a good thing. Yes, it was disturbing and at times deeply grotesque, and barely any of the “gambling” in the show resembles actual gambling, but does that even matter when a show is so deliciously entertaining?

2. The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland (Source: YouTube)

One of the two truly great shows on this list. The Promised Neverland is a psychological horror masterpiece that knows exactly how to build and release tension, craft compelling and complex characters, and construct a hostile and terrifying world. Even if the story goes off the rails in the announced second season, we’ll be talking about this first season for years to come.

1. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (Source: Minna Stream)

The premise of this show sounds dumb as balls: two top students at an elite high school are too stubborn to admit that they’re in love with each other, so they devise all sorts of mind games to make the other confess their feelings. But holy hell, does it work like gangbusters. It’s a show with impeccable comic timing, acted, directed, and edited to perfection. I’m so glad this is getting a second season.

6. Rilakkuma and Kaoru. Just one honourable mention, and it’s this charming but slight stop-motion animation show about a young woman who lives with a pair of sentient teddy bears.

7. O Maidens in Your Savage Season. Compelling and eminently watchable for much of its run, but thematically a total trainwreck by the end. Further thoughts here.
8. Double Decker! Doug & Kirill (OVA). Not much to say, really. There have been better OVAs and worse OVAs.
9. Hi-Score Girl (OVA). I liked where this pushed the plot, and I liked the introduction of Ono’s sister. But the show still skates by too much on video game nostalgia.
10. Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi Target Attacks? I didn’t expect to like this show at all, and while it’s ecchi trash, it’s still pretty funny. Shame about the interminable school arc, though.

11. Cop Craft. I debated about whether this was a regular mention or a dishonourable one, and in the end, I have to put it here for completely squandering its premise and also featuring some of the lowest-budget animation work I’ve ever seen. By the end, the action scenes were basically slideshows.
12. Aggretsuko (Season 2). Again, I can’t say this was a disaster, but it was so thematically confused and full of weird messages that I have to admit that I kind of hated large portions of it.
13. Ao-chan Can’t Study! “Daddy wants daughter to fuck” is not the funny joke this show’s writers seem to think it is.
14. Fire Force. It started out awful, got even worse, then dramatically improved, and then just got boring. So much beautiful animation wasted on nothing.
15. The Ones Within. One of the least competently told and most unsatisfying anime stories I’ve ever experienced. The fact that I literally couldn’t differentiate between three of five male main characters (all angry teen boys who yelled a lot) should tell you all you need to know about this disaster. Stay far away.

How Clumsy You Are, Miss Ueno. Every single sketch in this stupid show is about a girl trying to get her crush to drink her urine. I’m not making that up.

Carole & Tuesday; Granbelm

That’s all for now. As for what looks good this year, I’m excited for Beastars and Hi-Score Girl II to finally come West, and Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! and Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove It look rad.