The Best Anime Moments of 2019
The Best Anime Moments of 2019
Best Moment: The Gang Makes a Music Video (Carole and Tuesday)
I could have chosen Mob's glorious and cathartic explosion in Mob Psycho 100 2, or Canute finally embracing his role as a future king in Vinland Saga, but while those were some terrifically exciting moments of anime awesomeness, nothing brought me more joy this year than seeing Carole, Tuesday and their friends come together make a profoundly terrible music video for their song "Hold Me Now". If movies like Ed Wood and Dolemite is My Name have taught me anything, it is that nothings warms the cockles of my wretched critic's heart than when a groups of earnest dorks out everything they've got into making art that is, by most metrics, hilariously misguided. Come for the true-to-life cheesy, effects and overambitious direction, and stay for the good friends being good to each other. There's also a drunken grifter robot that oversees all of the shenanigans, and how could you possibly want to miss out on that?
Best Moment: Mafuyu sings “A Winter Story” (Given)
You could describe Given's first season as a story built entire around the lead-up to and resolution of this single scene, so getting it right was paramount to making Given work. Given doesn't just get it right; it delivers the most unforgettable scene of the year. All of the sadness and anxiety that's been boiling just underneath the placid surface of Mafuyu's face suddenly, loudly erupts into an emotional torrent drowning the audience both in and outside the anime. It's a singular moment of pure uncut catharsis, translated masterfully into a rousing rock song dripping with the pain and anger of loss. I've used music as therapy so many times, and there's truly something unquantifiable in its ability to transcend both words and thought. It lets Mafuyu find his voice, and more importantly, it frees up enough space in his heart to finally let Ritsuka in.
The Mermaid Sisters perform “Galactic Mermaid,” (Carole & Tuesday)
For all of the great performances in Carole & Tuesday, this is the one that will likely wind up being most remembered. Really, can anyone who saw this performance honestly claim that their jaw didn't hit the floor once they realized what the lyrics actually were? Based on their costumes and precedent established by earlier performances on Mars Brightest, I knew that something weird had to be coming, but a torrent of profanity sung in perfect a capella harmony still caught me completely off guard. I cannot think of a more stunning or memorable scene in any anime I saw in 2019.
Best Moment: Breaking Free (The Promised Neverland)
After a season's worth of mental chess, the children of Grace Field House finally outwitting their caretaker and breaking free was easily one of the highlights of the year—though manga readers know their adventures have just begun. After the initial horrific discovery that aliens live outside their safe home's borders—and that the fate of every child is to one day be eaten by them—the extent to which Emma, Ray, and Norman go to keep up the façade of carefree, naïve children while secretly planning their impossible escape provides tension at every turn. Even when Mother, their caretaker, is clearly onto them, she plays along as if nothing's wrong, making her a formidable foe. It's satisfying to see the kids succeed, despite devastating setbacks along the way.
Best Moment: The Autoscorers Return (Symphogear XV)
Symphogear's a series that's never been above crowd-pleasing, and for its apparent swan song, it pulled out all the stops. Concepts and characters and lore from across all five seasons came back in surprising, effective ways to set up an ongoing series of showstoppers, and none were as jaw-dropping as the return of the third season's villains: The Autoscorers. Notably the only group of seasonal bad guys to never see any form of redemption, these dangerous dance-a-trons had remained popular with fans purely because they were so good at being bad. So when Phara's sword appeared out of nowhere to stop Vanessa, there was much rejoicing. The fine folks at Satelight definitely demonstrated a knowing take on the characters after all these years, referencing Micha's memetic posing or giving Garie, favoritest of the fan-favorites, the most focus and screen-time. The regrouped robo-girl gang barely made it half an episode before being killed off for real this time, but it saw them go out fighting to help someone for once, and gave them the proper send-off they hadn't really gotten before. And they cleared the way for another jaw-dropping twist in the return of their big bad boss Carol, showing that Symphogear XV was just getting warmed up by this point.
Best Moment: Sheria sacrifices her magic to help Wendy (Fairy Tail the Final Season)
A lot of shounen series talk a good game when they go on about “friendship” and “companions” and all that, but few manage to live up to it in the way that Fairy Tail does. That may not be surprising given that friends and family is the major theme of the series, but it still makes for plenty of powerful moments when someone gives their all (literally) for those they care about. Ultear did this several seasons ago, so it's only fitting that she be present when Sheria does the same to save Wendy's position as a wizard. The only way to defeat DiMaria is to have Ultear use a spell that will deprive someone of their entire magic store, essentially rendering them plain old human, and Wendy is ready to make that sacrifice in order to protect everyone. But Sheria, though not a member of Fairy Tail, can't let her best friend and de facto sister do that, so she secretly has Ultear cast the spell on her, allowing Wendy to retain her powers and go on fighting. It's an unlooked for and powerful gift, and Sheria does it because she loves Wendy and knows how important being an active member of Fairy Tail is to her. It's a testament to their relationship and a beautiful, albeit bittersweet, one at that.
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