Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a while since our last post, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed the holiday season. With another year and another decade having reached its end, it’s that time once again for us to take a look back at our favourite things from 2019 in the Otaku Awards.
This year was an absolute feast for the otaku community with a constant stream truly tantalising treats throughout 2019. Whether it was some of the best anime in recent memory, or games that wowed and amazed, it would be hard to not find something great from the past year.
Now then, on this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, let’s take a look at some of our favourite anime, manga and games from 2019. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
The anime industry in 2019 was subject to astronomic highs and crippling lows. Despite the incredible anime that fans devoured whole, the entire year was somewhat tinged with melancholy following the arson attack on Kyoto Animation in July that tragically claimed the lives of 39 employees.
Despite such a horrendous act of senseless violence, the anime community rallied behind them to help rebuild, forming a true community spirit in a truly heartwarming display of kindness and compassion.
Now then, I’m sure you’re all dying to know our favourite title from 2019’s anime lineup, but first, let’s start with an honourable mention.
If we were including anime that started in 2018 but ran through to 2019, then Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5 would probably be in stiff competition for that coveted top spot, but instead, we’ll include it here as an honourable mention.
While there’s a tonne of other anime we could list off here as honourable mentions, it’s time to get to the main event.
Our anime of the year will hardly come as a surprise – it’s the runaway success, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba!
As far as shonen anime goes, we here at the Otaku Rabbit Hole are pretty huge fans of everything from Naruto to Soul Eater, and Demon Slayer is one of our absolute favourite shonen anime from the past few years.
Combining humour with heartbreak and bucket-loads of action, Demon Slayer is a treat from start to finish. Best of all, its distinct art-style gives it a unique sense of identity, and it’s one of those rare anime that far exceeds the manga thanks to that very art style, which truly makes the animation pop.
Whether you loved it or hated it, you can’t deny that Demon Slayer has class, and we’re happy to award it our anime of the year!
We get through a lot of manga here at the Otaku Rabbit Hole (more than we should probably admit), but there’s only a select few that have really made an impact.
While there have been a few this year that stood out for better or for worse, our absolute favourite is one that’s in its infancy, having only a single translated volume to date. That manga is The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life.
Following the recent trend of manga and light novels with absurdly long names, The Alchemist Who Survived is a precious manga that follows Mariela after she awakens from a protective sleep that lasted 200 years.
Now finding herself in a world quite unlike the one she knew, she simply wants to live out her days in peace, mixing the occasional healing brew and other alchemical goodies to help sustain her peaceful lifestyle.
This manga is one that honestly resonated with us immediately and hit all the right notes. It’s light-hearted, fun and has the promise of something incredible in future volumes. The fact that there’s only one volume currently in English goes a long way in describing how impressed we were with this series, and it’s one we recommend keeping an eye on from now on!
This past year has been packed full of amazing game releases from massive AAA titles like FromSoftware’s excellent Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, to the amazing indie meme machine Untitled Goose Game. Literally, a single week wouldn’t go by in 2019 without another potential Game of the Year contender stepping into the spotlight.
While getting to enjoy a plethora of impressive games is never a bad thing, it meant that nailing down our game of the year was an absolute nightmare. Obviously, we couldn’t get our hands on every game this year, but before we jump into our game of the year, let’s take a look at our honourable mentions.
Code Vein is a game we tried out for the first time this Christmas after getting it as a gift, and it’s a travesty that we waited until now to get our hands on it. Who doesn’t love anime vampires with Dark Souls gameplay? Well, after only a short time with the game, we’re pretty huge fans already and can’t put it down.
While we’ve yet to wrap up our Code Vein playthrough, keep your eyes peeled, dear reader, because we have a few things planned for Code Vein coming soon!
Controversial but excellent, Pokémon Sword and Shield is a pretty great game from 2019, but its entire existence is hampered by all the drama surrounding its launch. It was a fun and fresh new entry in the beloved franchise, while still holding firm to its roots, even if that was sometimes to its detriment.
Regardless of where you stand on the whole “Dexit” issue and your opinion of Game Freak’s dubious practices this year, Pokémon Sword and Shield are excellent Pokémon games in their own right. We covered the game in-depth earlier this year, so if you’re interested in hearing our full thoughts on the game, then please check that out.
[Click HERE to check out our Pokémon Sword and Shield Review]
Now for the main event – and we’ve cheated a little here. Our game of the year is actually two games, both from the same series: Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland and Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout.
If you’ve been following the Otaku Rabbit Hole for any time, then our love for Gust’s and Koei Tecmo’s saccharine-sweet Atelier series will come as no surprise, and in 2019 we got not one, not two, but three brand new games for fans of the series to enjoy.
We went back and forth between both game’s over and over, comparing them against one another to try and see which would come out on top, and ultimately, they’re both incredible games in their own right, each complete with their own unique charm, which makes them both worthy of our Game of the Year.
Atelier Lulua is a classic-style Atelier game, complete with fantastic music, arguably some of the best turn-based combat in the series and a story so sweet that you’ll be needing a trip to the dentist. This game is the definition of what makes the Atelier series so appealing and has kept the series alive for so long. Atelier Lulua is a true love letter to fans, all the while providing a fantastic, yet accessible, experience for players new and old.
[Click HERE to check out our review for Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland]
While Atelier Lulua refines and perfects the classic formula, placing itself among the finest entries in the series, Atelier Ryza sets out to redefine the series and steer the games in a new and exciting direction. While change is scary, in the case of Atelier Ryza, this gamble pays off, as it is one of the most impressive JRPGs to be released in recent years.
Taking the Atelier formula and combining it with a new and exciting battle system, reminiscent of Final Fantasy‘s ATB system, and a crafting system that’s both addictive and intuitive, Atelier Ryza is an absolute dream to play.
Gust and Koei Tecmo have been pumping out the Atelier games for the past 20 years, and for many, despite their unique charm, these games have offered very little incentive to pick them up. This year, however, both Atelier Lulua and Atelier Ryza have completely changed the game and easily deserve the praise they’ve both garnered.
With Ryza having achieved the greatest sales to date of any game in the Atelier series, it’s obvious that Gust is doing something right, and that something is what helped earned these games the number one slot for our 2019 game of the year.
[Click HERE to check out our Review for Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout]
With all that being said, thanks again for joining us on this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, and we hope you’ve enjoyed your time here. If you did, that’s amazing, and please consider sharing. If you didn’t, then please get in touch and let us know why. We would love to hear your thoughts! Thank you all once again and, until next time, keep it weeby everyone!