July marks the start of the Summer 2019 anime season, which will continue until the end of September. There aren’t too many heavy hitters in the US this summer (with the likes of Food Wars: Season 4 and My Hero Academia: Season 4 scheduled for the fall), but there are still quite a few excellent titles to enjoy and a couple of surprise gems as well.
In the following guide, we outline the eight anime you should consider adding to your queue this season. We’ve chosen shows and movies that debut in US theaters or premiere on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hidive, Prime Video, Netflix, or Hulu during the summer.
We’ve done our best to keep this guide as diverse as possible, but most of the best anime this season are based on Weekly Shonen Jump manga or pull from shonen tropes, so expect to see a few similarities in terms of narrative structure. This is the first time a movie has made one of our guides, though, and we’ve included two brand-new original anime series that aren’t based on any existing light novels, manga, or video games. So yes, you’ll find a lot of shonen stories here, but there’s sci-fi, coming-of-age slice of life, magical girl, mecha, and historical fiction as well.
If your itch for more anime isn’t satisfied by the time you finish this guide, consider checking out our other anime guides for 2019. The links to each are listed below. We also covered Anime Expo 2019 and have compiled a list of our 10 favorite anime and anime-like games seen at the convention, nine of which are scheduled to come out this year.
2019’s Seasonal Anime Guides
Perhaps the most anticipated title in the Summer 2019 lineup, Dr. Stone is managing to meet the high expectations that fans have had for it. Dr. Stone is yet another Weekly Shonen Jump series in the evolving shonen demographic that wants to see more introspective characters that solve problems without fighting, incorporate darker themes in their stories, and have more nuanced villains. Think along the same lines as The Promised Neverland.
The story of Dr. Stone begins in the present day, with average-performing but physically fit high school student Taiju confiding in his best friend, science-loving Senku, that he’s going to confess to Yuzuriha, the girl he’s had a crush on for five years. However, just before Taiju is able to express his love, a strange light shines over the entire Earth and encases every human in stone. As time passes, Taiju is able to stay conscious through his desire to confess while Senku simply counts the seconds. 3,000 years later, the two manage to free themselves. The two decide to work together to find a way to undo everyone else’s petrification as well as recreate every scientific breakthrough that mankind has ever made in order to rebuild their society.
In terms of anticipation, Fire Force is right up there with Dr. Stone. My Hero Academia fans who are anxiously awaiting Season 4 will most likely enjoy this firefighting shonen series, which contains plenty of superpowered battles and an easy-to-love protagonist with aspirations of being a hero. Plus, the animations for Fire Force–especially when fire, flames, or sparks are concerned–are absolutely gorgeous to look at.
Created by the author behind Soul Eater, Fire Force takes place in a world where a strange phenomenon has affected certain individuals. Those in the first generation affected eventually spontaneously combust and become mindless demonic Infernals, while the second generation can control fire, and the third can produce fire and are flame-resistant. Shinra Kusakabe is a third generation able to channel fire through his legs to move at supersonic speeds. Blamed for the death of his mother and younger brother, who died in a house fire, Shinra joins an elite firefighting unit that subdues Infernals in order to find the one responsible for his family’s death.
Astra Lost In Space
Where to watch: Funimation
Despite all the buzz around Dr. Stone and Fire Force, Astra Lost in Space is shaping up to be my favorite anime of the season with one of the strongest opening episodes I’ve seen in any science-fiction TV series. In the span of a single episode, the series establishes the personality of all its characters (all of whom I deeply love already), sets up an intriguing storyline, and builds a futuristic setting without any clunky exposition. It’s incredibly rare for a science-fiction or fantasy story to handle world-building so well in a first episode, and it gives me high hopes for the rest of the series.
In the year 2063, a group of high school students is set to begin summer camp–which in the future means staying on another planet without adult supervision for five days. After being dropped off, however, a mysterious sphere attacks and transports them into space over 5000 light years away. Managing to board an abandoned spacecraft, the group quickly realize they are months away from reaching their home sector of space and only have enough food and water for a few days. In order to survive, they’ll need to jump from planet to planet and scavenge for supplies on alien worlds they know little about.
Carole & Tuesday
Where to watch: Netflix
After premiering in Japan, the long-awaited Carole & Tuesday anime is finally coming to the US this summer. A musical comedy, Carole & Tuesday is a beautiful collaboration of Eastern and Western art, featuring enchanting Japanese-style animation and magnificent performances by talented English-speaking singer-songwriters. The series is helmed by the director behind Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy and features a diverse cast–including a black woman as one of the two stars.
Taking place in the future on a terraformed Mars, the anime follows the musical journey of the titular heroines: Carole Stanley and Tuesday Simmons. Carole is an orphan constantly moving between jobs she’s being fired from while trying to carve out a career for herself as a musician who plays keyboard. Tuesday is a pampered rich girl who’s fed up with her easy life and runs away from home to be a guitarist. Though the two are from completely different socioeconomic backgrounds, Carole and Tuesday forge a bond through their shared desire to create music and decide to pursue their dreams together as a singer-songwriter duo.
O Maidens In Your Savage Season
O Maidens in Your Savage Season tackles perhaps the most awkward part of growing up–learning about sex and managing sexual urges and thoughts–but does so in a pretty hilarious and relatable way. The first episode contains one of the funniest masturbation scenes I’ve ever seen, though I’m still trying to figure out if I was tearing up from laughter or because I could so easily empathize with the awkwardness of these teenagers as they shamefully try to hide their urges and kinks from others. Don’t be mistaken, O Maidens in Your Savage Season is good but it also jumps into the year or two in most people’s lives that we’d all rather forget. The story behind this anime is an emotional rollercoaster. For context, the writer also worked on Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day and directed/wrote Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season focuses on the changing relationships among the literary club at a high school after one of the members expresses a desire to have sex before she dies. After being spoken out loud, all of the girls in the club begin to realize they’ve–consciously or not–had the same desire. Of course, teenagers being teenagers, this want of sex is mixed with exploding hormones, a longing for acceptance by peers, and a yearning for love. In their pursuits to claim what they most want, these girls will break and mend friendships, awaken gay desires, forge healthy relationships (and a few unhealthy ones), and claw their way into adulthood.
Where to watch: Theaters
Studio Trigger’s theatrical debut, Promare, is coming to the US this summer. In GameSpot’s Promare review, I wrote, “Promare’s plot does stumble, most notably when it comes to how it builds its world and fleshes out the main cast, but it takes enough cues from what made Kill la Kill such a hit to then go out and tell its own take on why discrimination is bad and why everyone should learn to love their fellow person. Galo’s origin story of becoming a firefighting superhero is framed with over-the-top action pieces, comedy, and well-timed pieces of music, and though he delivers an incredible finishing blow in the epic final battle, it’s his evolving rivalry with Lio that gives the movie its satisfying ending.”
Similarly to Fire Force, Promare sees a subset of the population develop fire-based abilities. However, instead of devolving into mindless beasts, Promare’s Burnish are just regular people trying to live their lives and not accidentally hurt anyone. However, a subgroup called the Mad Burnish do enough damage that a special firefighting unit is put together to don mech suits and battle against the pyrokinetic terrorists. The newest member of this team, Galo, aims to extinguish all of the world’s fires and won’t stop until he’s saved his city from the Burnish threat. His actions lead to a confrontation with Mad Burnish’s leader, Lio Fotia.
An original anime series, Granbelm mixes together narrative beats from both magical girl and mecha anime to craft a story that looks good. I’m not a huge fan of the expositional dumps when it comes to explaining the lore of the world, but the action scenes are all pretty top-notch, and main character Mangetsu Kohinata has a great shonen protagonist battle cry.
Granbelm takes place in a world where magic was once commonplace. However, when humanity began abusing magic for war, seven mages gave their lives to seal all of the magic away forever. In the present day, Mangetsu Kohinata accidentally stumbles into the pocket dimension where all that magic is still stored and learns she’s one of the living descendants of the mages that sealed it away–and thus one of the few people in the world who can still utilize magic. Before she knows it, she is flung into a war between all the other living descendants where the victor will be able to claim the sealed magic for themselves. Each descendant is able to magically transform through the power they wield and summon powerful mecha to channel their unique abilities into more powerful attacks.
Where to watch: Prime Video
A historical anime, Vinland Saga will appeal to those who enjoy series like Dororo, 91 Days, and Golden Kamuy. Vinland Saga is a bloody tale that cleverly utilizes fiction to fill in the gaps surrounding King Cnut the Great’s real historical rise to power. Like other historical anime, Vinland Saga is a slow burn. But it’s a phenomenal revenge-focused narrative that takes its time to build up its world before jumping into the main story. Oh, and its protagonists are anti-slavery, which I shouldn’t have to point out as a big plus, but that’s just the reality of the anime industry right now.
Set at the start of the 11th century, Vinland Saga focuses on the expanding conflict between England and the Danish invaders (Vikings) that defined the time period in northern Europe. The anime actually begins with a prologue, utilizing its first several episodes to explain how protagonist Thorfinn became the skilled fighter he is in the main story, as well as why he has such a burning vengeance to kill his commander. It’s an excellent narrative choice that adds a hefty level of suspense for first-time viewers who haven’t read the source material. Go into this anime as blind as you can. You won’t regret it.