This article is part of our 2019 Rewind. Follow along as we explore the best and most interesting movies, shows, performances, and more from 2019.
2019 was a phenomenal year for animation, as decade favorites like Steven Universe continued to reinvent themselves after several seasons of success while new series, such as Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaibas, pushed the medium to new heights. But what wound up being our favorites in the final year of the 2010s? Hopefully, this list will serve as a compass to guide you through both familiar and fresh lands.
Disney Channel has produced quite a few fan favorites this decade, including Gravity Falls, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, and of course the revival of the 1980s animation classic DuckTales. Their latest animated series, Amphibia, is no exception. Created by former Gravity Falls storyboard artist Matt Braley, it is based on his numerous trips to Thailand as a child and is wholeheartedly a Disney Adventure film made for the small screen. Centering on Anne Bouchuy, a 13-year-old Thai-American girl transported to the fantasy world of Amphibia after she steals a magical music box, and Spring Plantar, a 10-year-old talking frog person who befriends her, each episode teaches life lessons to younger audiences while reminding older adults of their childhood spent watching Saturday cartoons. Amphibia is a bright and springy piece of animation worthy of being called a breath of fresh air among the more mature and serious-toned animated series of 2019.
24. Seis Manos
Created by the people who worked on the hit Netflix series Castlevania, Seis Manos is one of the hidden gems of 2019, a melting pot of genres, cultures, and animation styles that will also make you question why people aren’t making a bigger deal about it. The plot synopsis alone should be enough to catch your attention. The series takes place in San Simon, a fictional town set against the backdrop of 1970s Mexico, and centers around three orphans trained in Chinese martial arts who later team up with an American DEA agent and local policewoman when their master is mysteriously killed. Did I mention that this show is not for kids? Within the first episode, bones are broken, chests are ripped open, and limbs are cut off. Yeah, let’s make a note of that. Seis Manos pays homage to exploitation films of the 1960s and 1970s as well as Westerns, and of course martial art films, with well-choreographed action scenes that wouldn’t be a stretch to call them some of the best 2019 has to offer. If you missed out on this series, now is the time to correct it as we enter 2020.
23. One-Punch Man
On paper, One-Punch Man is perhaps the most ridiculous and straightforward of the series on this list, based on premise alone. A man who has spent several years doing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 squats, and who runs 10 kilometers a day now has superhuman abilities, including the strength to defeat monsters with one punch. But the series’ creator, known by his alias “One,” excels at making the series more than just a gimmick by filling the world with complex characters, power gags, and hilarious dialogue that is just as humorous as the bald and plain-faced man literally blowing away monsters the size of a city with a single punch. If it wasn’t for the lower quality of the animation associated with this season, One-Punch Man would be much higher on this list. But, make no mistake, season two still packs a punch.
22. How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” has never applied more to an animated series than How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?. In this anime series, a high school girl with an insatiable appetite reluctantly joins her local gym after gaining too much weight but ultimately gains some motivation to stay after becoming attracted to one of the gym’s trainers. As you can guess by the series’ title, most of the episodes consist of lifting weights and working out, but this is where the show shines. How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is perhaps the most informative and anatomically accurate animated series of the decade when it comes to how to properly balance your nutrition, how to get in a good workout no matter your location or your income, and, of course, how to properly lift weights. Along with the obvious gags and humor of working out for the first time while being surrounded by veteran lifters, How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Life? provides a lot of helpful information as well as an Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo. If your New Year’s resolution includes getting into shape and jumpstarting a healthier lifestyle, then How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? will be your perfect source of motivation.
21. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Not to be confused with She-Ra: Princess of Power, the 1980s spinoff of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is the superior show. It provides fairy-like visuals that are unique to the series, with great LGBTQ representation and diversity that doesn’t feel shoehorned, along with great story arcs that prove cartoons don’t have to be dumbed down for children to appreciate them. But the greatest strength of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power after four seasons of stellar storytelling is the bond between Adora, the hero of the story, and Cantra, her once friend but now enemy, fighting on opposite sides of a war.