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The Best Anime Of 2019


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Jen Bigby



Joined: 20 May 2013
Posts: 112
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:52 pm Reply with quote
Jose Cruz wrote:
Maybe anime critics are becoming like live-action film critics? Those guys tend to not put popular movies on best of the year lists because they are popular.


For all the years I've browsed ANN, I don't think it's ever really changed all that much. A lot of the staff picked Yurikuma Arashi as the best anime of 2015. The Mega Poll had One Punch Man lightyears ahead of everything else as the top anime, and Yurikuma was way far down the list nowhere near the top. There's also been plenty of shows the staff disliked for moral reasons like Shield Hero that the forums loved and argued with them over. I wouldn't say it's anything new or unique.
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Probablytomorrow



Joined: 04 Aug 2019
Posts: 120
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:24 pm Reply with quote
Well, I watched the rest of Shield Hero, and it's seriously hard to pick something to complain the most about.

Maybe my problems with Shield Hero center around its obsession with power. In my opinion, it glorifies the pursuit of power above universal rights to life or liberty. Every relationship in the show seems based around power dynamics to me, around a “might makes right” value system. Nobody is beholden to the law, but instead to whomever has the power. This show’s philosophy, as I understand it, is that the world just needs the right person to get all the power, and then everything will get better.

To me, the show frames far, far too many of its conflicts and problems as ones with specific people to blame for each of them. Malty, the king, the heroes, the pope, etc. A conflict can never be framed as an internal one, or an honest misunderstanding, or an accident, or even an unconscious bias - It’s always a specific person’s personality. Maybe this is different in the books, I wouldn’t know. Since the show is so focused on finger-pointing, it never establishes a clear, consistent stance on what is actually right, on what fairness looks like. It never establishes equality as a good thing. It’s only strength versus weakness. It’s all about who’s got the power at any given moment, and about who has the power to enforce their particular morals.

I don't begrudge anyone enjoying the show. There were enjoyable details and moments to be found. But the story itself was just utterly miserable to me.

Oh, and, uh, I'd personally rank it as one of the worst of 2019.
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Tanteikingdomkey



Joined: 03 Sep 2008
Posts: 2245
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:58 am Reply with quote
I had not thought about that at all...but yay shield hero absolutely has a might makes right power structure in it much more then general actions shows.

For all that myne and the king do, they actually can't lock naofumi up because he is the shield hero and they do need him at the end of the day.

To be fair I would say that there are some misunderstanding that naofumi and other actually are able to talk through, but yes most things are resolved by might makes right or the queen comes back and reassurts her power over the situation.

Maybe season 2 with the implication of multiverse battles will address this or make it less promint but probably not.
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SailorTralfamadore



Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 497
Location: Keep Austin Weeb
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 1:54 am Reply with quote
Jen Bigby wrote:
Jose Cruz wrote:
Maybe anime critics are becoming like live-action film critics? Those guys tend to not put popular movies on best of the year lists because they are popular.


For all the years I've browsed ANN, I don't think it's ever really changed all that much. A lot of the staff picked Yurikuma Arashi as the best anime of 2015. The Mega Poll had One Punch Man lightyears ahead of everything else as the top anime, and Yurikuma was way far down the list nowhere near the top. There's also been plenty of shows the staff disliked for moral reasons like Shield Hero that the forums loved and argued with them over. I wouldn't say it's anything new or unique.


You're ignoring that there have been years that the popular favorite and many critics' favorites aligned, as with Yuri on Ice in 2016. Also in 2015, OPM was still on many critics' top five lists; I wrote one that year and I had it as no. 4. If you look at the various critics' top fives and also look at each year's top five in the mega-poll, there might be one mega poll pick the critics weren't as into but overall there's a lot of overlap.

The only big "conspiracy" is that critics list what we like. As with most people, sometimes that's going to be a really popular thing, sometimes it won't be. I bet if you personally went through your own list of favorite anime, whether of all time or in any given year, not all of them would be popular shows. Critics are fans like anyone else (no one goes into media and especially anime writing for the pay lol), and if we pick something lesser-known, it's not to "spite the fans," but to expose more people to a thing we love and think they might, too.

This is also true with live-action film critics, btw. Nearly every "best films of the year" list I read this year and in past years, there were quite a few films that also did well at the box office that year. And if you read their reviews for lesser-known films or TV shows they liked, it's nearly always full of a desire that the thing was more popular. They wouldn't feel that way if they were just trying to be edgy and buck the trends.
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Zac
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ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
Posts: 7912
Location: Anime News Network Technodrome
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:44 am Reply with quote
Jose Cruz wrote:
Maybe anime critics are becoming like live-action film critics? Those guys tend to not put popular movies on best of the year lists because they are popular.


To add to what SailorTralfamadore was saying - there is no distinction between "Fan" and "Critic" except critics often have an education in media and love to write, to the point where they've dedicated a piece of their life - or their entire career - to articulating their thoughts. It is not two tribes - we are all people sharing our subjective opinions - just like you are. The only distinction is the size of your platform, which you could have yourself if you put the work and dedication in to writing and sharing.

Critics tend to watch much more media than your average person, out of curiosity and necessity - and when you do that, it opens you up to a world of creativity far beyond just Disney remakes, Marvel movies, the MAL top 10, and whatever Crunchyroll/Funimation product has the biggest social media marketing budget. There's plenty of good stuff among the most popular shows and films of the day - I love a lot of it myself without question and I watch pretty much all of it with an open mind - but the divisive and, in my opinion, self-serving notion that "critics pick things to spite the REAL fans" reads almost like propaganda to me. Let people like what they like - it's all subjective in the end, and popularity or box office shouldn't factor in to a list of the art you personally enjoyed the most.
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Probablytomorrow



Joined: 04 Aug 2019
Posts: 120
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:09 pm Reply with quote
Tanteikingdomkey wrote:
but yes most things are resolved by might makes right or the queen comes back and reassurts her power over the situation.


This is probably splitting hairs, but I don't think the pattern changes when the queen returns. She doesn’t even enforce her own court ruling. You’d think that two people who (apparently) single-handedly caused a pan-national incident and threatened the entire world would be dead to rights, but it turns out that the rule of law ranks below Naofumi’s and/or the queen’s personal inclinations.

Edit: Sorry, you're right, @yuna49. I'll stop.


Last edited by Probablytomorrow on Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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yuna49



Joined: 27 Aug 2008
Posts: 3475
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:15 pm Reply with quote
A couple hundred shows were carried on US services in 2019, yet at least half this thread is about just one series. Why not go discuss this in the Shield Hero thread rather than here? There hasn't been a new posting in that thread since the summer. It's really pretty tiring to see all these posts about a show I never watched nor had any interest in.
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dragon695



Joined: 28 Nov 2008
Posts: 1377
Location: Clemson, SC
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:44 pm Reply with quote
People keep demanding that we justify why Shield Hero is the worst of 2019, so I’ll take a crack Razz

So much has been said about how “this is how it is in this world.” Such specious reasoning defies belief. This is fiction. It can be changed at the whim of the author. This ridiculous argument that things are the way they are because of in-story established mechanics instead of rational choices made by the author is nothing short of pure sophistry. It’s all an attempt to rationalize a thin veneer of credibility to cover up a rotting cesspit of misanthropic tropes and self-pity. We are told that we can’t ascribe motives to the author nor can we critique the transparent didactic plot devices without being accused of identity politics. Nonsense. Art is expression of both shared and personal cultural values—it is inherently political. Be it garbage LNs, Ghibli anime, or The Sistine Chapel, the work reflects upon the artist: it is an expression first and foremost. It speaks of your character.

For Shield Hero, the author made rational choices about what they choose to showcase; in this case, their grievances are lined up like a well-ordered strawmen ready to be toppled by the anointed stand in. But not before weaving vast narratives of contrived self-pity to wallow in. What the author lacks in Logos, they have in Pathos and Ethos in spades. They know their audience. I can at least give credit where credit is due, yet it is employed in the absolute laziest manner possible. Ultimately, it is easier to construct these strawmen with scapegoats than engage in thoughtful introspection of their own roles or critique the actual societal problems. That, too, is a rational choice.

Which is why Shield Hero falls flat for me. The visuals and animation are decent, which is about all I can say for it. The writing is mediocre, which is actually magnitudes better than the web novel. I have to hand it to the editors and anime staff who managed to take the flaming garbage heap that was the web novel to correct the scores of literary mistakes and remove some of the most toxic elements, but ultimately a house built on flaws is flawed. It is misogynistic. The princess was created precisely because the author has low regard for women. She is a carefully constructed strawman whose actions are like a veritable check list of otaku perceived grievances against women that crossed them. The other male characters outside of team Naofumi and villains likewise behave in ways that check off obvious otaku grievances against males that crossed them. Practically all of the characters are paper thin and show little growth. All without even critiquing the slaves he gets and how they are played. It is quite frankly an orgy of lazy tropes that serve no discernible plot purpose other than to titillate the viewer in the service of pure revenge smut. It is almost the equivalent of those angst-ridden Naruto fan fiction pieces written by a 14yo boy you’d see get lampooned back in the day. I mean you could give yourself alcohol poisoning playing a drinking game with this one.

The real turn off for me is that Naofumi never really faces any consequences for behaving poorly; he never really accepts responsibility because the author feels that if you’ve been treated poorly, the world and everyone in it owes you respect. And if you don’t get it, then you are entitled to get it by force. But heaven forbid you show anyone else a shred of respect. It is just one of those things that rubs one the wrong way.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t take itself seriously, but it does. I just got fed up watching it near the end.

That is why it is definitely the Worst of 2019 despite being popular.
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Tanteikingdomkey



Joined: 03 Sep 2008
Posts: 2245
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:45 am Reply with quote
@dragon695

Ok even if I don't totally agree with you, I can totally understand where you are coming from and appreciate that you didn't say something that is out right wrong, or (at least to me) hyperbolic.

I still think there are way worse anime out there, but most people don't go searching out all the anime to get an opinion on them, or hate watch something so, its totally understandable if its the one you liked least.
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