It’s a new year, and a new winter anime season is upon us. There are at least 37 new shows launching, plus 13 that are continuing from the fall 2018 premiere season. So with that much to sift through, we highlighted some that might be interesting for anime fans and non-fans alike. Many of these shows are available for viewing internationally a day after they air in Japan, thanks to streaming services like Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Amazon.
If you like One-Punch Man or want similar themes with less parody and more emotional devastation
Mob Psycho 100 (Season 2)
Middle schooler Shigeo Kageyama has a meek presence and inconspicuous look, so he’s nicknamed “Mob” because people think he looks like a background character. But Mob is actually an incredibly powerful psychic. He finds an unexpected mentor in Reigen, who Mob doesn’t realize is a con man who isn’t actually psychic. The series follows Mob as he tries to better his life through earnest hard work by not using his powers and the subsequent trouble his powers cause him.
The original season of Mob Psycho is one of the best shows of the decade. It has great humor, emotionally devastating character arcs, and gorgeously animated psychic-powered action scenes. This new season continues to adapt the manga series by One (who also created One-Punch Man), and it sees the return of a lot of the original staff, including director Yuzuru Tachikawa (Death Parade), writer Hiroshi Seko (Ajin and Banana Fish), and animation studio Bones (My Hero Academia and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). Judging from the first two episodes, it doesn’t feel like they’ve been away from the show for over two years. The show already looks like it has some of the best animation of 2019.
Season 2 of Mob Psycho 100 will stream on Crunchyroll (subtitled and dubbed) starting on January 7th and on Funimation (dubbed). The season’s first two episodes will also be showing in theaters on January 5th.
If you liked Attack on Titan but want less despair
The Promised Neverland
Grace Field House orphanage is located on a picturesque green estate surrounded by lush forests, and it’s home to 37 children and their caretaker Isabella. Aside from rigorous daily testing, the kids have free rein to do whatever they want, so long as they don’t go too far into the forest or to the gate that connects them to the outside world. One night, two of the oldest kids, Emma and Norman, sneak out to the gatehouse and discover that the children aren’t being raised to be adopted. Instead, they’re meant as food for the demon-like creatures that run the world outside of the orphanage’s walls.
I’ve been reading the manga since it started a little over two years ago, and it seemed like an anime adaptation was bound to follow. The kids not only approach their problems intelligently, but the antagonists are smart as well. It’s made this an incredibly suspenseful series that really never lets up, even when things are going the kids’ way. I would wager if you are someone who liked Attack on Titan but fell off of it because of how bleak it can get, The Promised Neverland is probably what you are looking for. It is similarly existential in its horror, but it’s much more hopeful in its outlook.
If you like samurai, demons, and probably body horror
Set in Japan’s warring states era, the story follows Hyakkimaru, a wandering samurai and demon slayer, who was born missing all of his limbs and many of his internal organs. When he was born, his father, a feudal lord, offered 48 demons different parts of his son’s body in exchange for power. Hyakkimaru is saved by a doctor who crafts prostheses for him to use, and when he is old enough, he sets out to kill the demons that took his body so he can get it back, piece by piece.
Dororo is based on a late-1960s manga and anime series of the same name by legendary artist and animator Osamu Tezuka. This new adaptation has a great staff behind it: it’s being animated by MAPPA (Yuri!! on Ice, Zombieland Saga), and it’s directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, who directed the classic Urusei Yatsura and more recently, Neo Yokio. The writer who is adapting the series is Yasuko Kobayashi, who did amazing work adapting Attack on Titan for all three seasons and all five of the recent series of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Dororo starts airing on January 7th, and it will stream on Amazon Prime Video (subtitled).
If you like The Adventure Zone or less gritty fantasy settings
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
A middle-aged man in Tokyo dies after protecting a co-worker from being stabbed, but then he discovers that he has been reincarnated in a fantasy world as a lowly slime monster. Thanks to a strange ability given to him as part of his reincarnation, he’s able to devour almost anything he comes across and gain new abilities from what he eats. He decides to use his new abilities to make the world more peaceful.
There has been a glut of shows involving a normal person being transported into a different world, and they mostly seem to be taking advantage of the popularity of series like Sword Art Online and Overlord. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, which started in fall 2018, initially seemed like another follower. But from the first few episodes, it became apparent that it has a lot more to it than a silly-sounding title / conceit, including a lot of heart. Rimuru, the titular slime, becomes an incredibly overpowered character, but not a force of nature, in part because he has such small-scale goals, like creating a peaceful place for monsters to live. That mainly involves just acting like a supportive, experienced co-worker who is helping out a subordinate.
If you like college dramas, running, or Haikyu!!
Run with the Wind
University student Haiji convinces his underclassman Kakeru to come live at his old apartment building with other classmates from their university after he catches him running away after stealing food. Then Haiji announces that the building’s 10 residents are going to take part in the Hakone marathon, a team relay that takes place over two days at the start of every year. Although Kakeru was an elite runner in high school, he learns that aside from Haiji, everyone else in the building is completely new, not just to marathons, but to running.
Like Slime, Run with the Wind started last season, and it was surprisingly good. It’s really not as much about running as it is about this motley crew of college guys coming together as a group, and helping each other strive to improve together, which starts to affect their lives and their self-images. The show is also fantastically animated by Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Haikyu!!). The animation is often subtle, like the ways each character’s running style reveals their personality. It’s definitely a show to catch up on if you missed it last season.
Run with the Wind is currently 11 episodes, and it streams on Thursdays on Crunchyroll (subtitled).
If you like urban fantasy or supernatural mysteries / thrillers
Boogiepop and Others
Female students start disappearing from Shinyo Academy. Police and faculty believe they’re just runaways, but gossip among the students suggests an urban legend, a death god / spirit called Boogiepop, might be involved. Student Nagi Kirima isn’t satisfied with either explanation and looks into what’s really going on.
Boogiepop and Others is the second Boogiepop anime. The first aired in 2000, and it was an original story. This new show is an adaptation of the first light novel in the Boogiepop series. The big selling point for this series, though, is that it’s animated by Madhouse (One-Punch Man, ACCA, Hunter x Hunter, A Place Further Than the Universe), under the direction of Shingo Natsume (One-Punch Man, ACCA, Space Dandy). It’s written by Tomohiro Suzuki (One-Punch Man, ACCA). Boogiepop seems like it’ll be a combination of the two great shows this combination has already produced: the action of One-Punch Man along with ACCA’s thriller machinations.