To celebrate the end of the year, the staff of Sequential Planet will be listing their favorite things from 2019! Below are some of Kila’s favorite picks of the year.
Series of the Year: Sarazanmai
This series has felt like one of the best-kept secrets of 2019 – so few people stuck around for longer than the odd first episode but those who did may have been surprised by the amount of emotional depth in this series. But then, this is an Ikuhara series after all. If you’re familiar with the director’s earlier works such as Mawaru Penguindrum and Revolutionary Girl Utena, then you’ll know that his works are highly complex and thematic – Sarazanmai is not an exception to this rule, though it is perhaps one of the lightest in terms of tone.
The series follows three high school boys, who after being turned into kappas are forced into a mythical battle between opposing magical creatures. For many people, it might be the huge hits of the year such as Demon Slayer or big franchise continuations like the new seasons of Attack on Titan or the reboot of Fruits Basket, but for me, I fell in love with this original, quirky series about connecting with others.
Honorable mention: The Promised Neverland
This anime almost snagged the title of Anime of the Year for me, but just missed out to the above Sarazanmai. The Promised Neverland’s opening song was never one I was able to skip whenever I watched an episode and it’s the perfect combination of symbolic imagery and super catchy music which fit the psychological tone of the show completely. Have a listen to the above video if you want to see what I mean!
Honorable mentions: Carole and Tuesday – “Kiss Me” by Carole & Tuesday (Nai Br.XX & Celeina Ann)
Movie of the Year: Avengers: End Game
You knew it was coming – let’s face it, Avenger’s: Endgame is the conclusion to one of the most hyped-up arcs in the last ten years or so, completing the final phase of this version of the Marvel multiverse. Did it live up to the hype? Mostly, I’d say. I had a few complaints but overall this was a fitting end to the series.
I may have preferred the more down-to-earth and low key story of Spiderman: Far from Home later in the year but Endgame lived up to what it had promised it would be – a movie event.
Honorable mentions: Spiderman: Far from Home, Frozen 2.
Best Performance: in Bill Skarsgard in It Part 2
Bill Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise the dancing clown in the adaptation of Stephen King’s much-acclaimed horror novel is nothing short of brilliance. Something about the way he can twist his facial expressions, his unique way of speech and just the aura he exudes in this role make a character that could border on the silly becomes genuinely terrifying. It’s a characterisation you’re not likely to forget once you leave the cinema and really showcase how talented Bill is.
Show of the Year: The Umbrella Academy
This was honestly a tough decision and Good Omens almost won top place here, despite it being a series I had been waiting literally years for. But the adaptation of The Umbrella Academy came as such a surprise, it just had to be placed here. I’d read the comic series by Gerard Way way back when it was first published and I would never have imagined it could have been adapted into a television series so long after it initially debuted (and to my knowledge, went largely unacknowledged to mainstream audiences).
Not so, the television series produced by Netflix. Somehow this series managed to take the best elements of the original comic’s quirkiness, combine it with a killer soundtrack, script and a cast which brought the story to life in a way the comic never quite managed to achieve. Over the course of it’s ten episodes, it made me laugh, cry and invested me completely in the characters whether they were a violinist struggling to find their place in an abnormal family or a hitman with a cartoon mask. And that is why this series was my top show for 2019.
Honorable mention: Good Omens
Game of the Year: Kingdom Hearts III
Okay, so this is probably going to be the most biased entry on the list, purely because I’m a long-time fan of the Kingdom Hearts series and have been waiting over ten years for this game to be released! Admittedly, I also haven’t played a lot of the other big AAA games that released this year so my options are somewhat limited. But Kingdom Hearts is a series extremely personal to me and one of the first video games I played avidly so I feel like it probably would have still pushed its way to the top of the list.
I won’t go into much detail-wise about the plot but I’ll say that this game felt very much like an ‘end of an era’ game to me, much like Avengers: EndGame did – seeing how the characters have grown, split apart and come back together again really brought together all the previous games in the franchise. Graphics and gameplay were amazing and a vast improvement on the previous mainline games (even if I prefer the controls of flowmotion slightly better in Dream Drop Distance). Still, some welcome additions of Disney and Pixar work like Toy Story, Monsters inc (yes, even Frozen was a good addition I’ll admit) helped the series still feel both fresh and relevant to those players who had enjoyed the series since it first began in 2002.
Whilst it’s likely this won’t be the last we see of Kingdom Hearts, this third mainline game in the series was one worth waiting for.
Honorable mentions: Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Untitled Goose Game