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Top 10 Sentai Filmworks Releases Of 2019

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There were a lot of good releases in 2019 but it was another year of paring back for Sentai Filmworks as they brought out just seventy-five or so titles during the year, some of which were multiple releases of by format/premium editions. 2020 by contrast landed at just a hundred releases, with things picking up again. We saw a lot of ongoing projects in 2019 such as more Haikyu coming out and the Dungeon show getting more releases. Some re-releases hit their stride with Book of Bantorra arriving or a big Di Gi Charat ultimate collection. But there were some good smaller titles as well and some neat things that really delivered. So check out the ten releases that top our list for the year from the distributor.

Rank Title
1 Wings of Honneamise: Whenever this release comes out it’s like Grave of the Fireflies. I must re-watch it. This film is my favorite film of all time, animated or live-action, and is basically the pinnacle for me in what I love in a work like this. There’s nothing new to this release that we hadn’t seen before, and we’ve seen a number of releases for it, but getting it back in print at a low price with a new packaging design was very welcome. This film may not be for everyone but understanding what went into it – and who came out of it and went onto so many other amazing projects is critical for understanding a large chunk of the 90s anime scene and beyond. Wings Of Honneamise
2 Land of the Lustrous: Land of the Lustrous is the kind of series that you don’t see very often. While there is a story arc to be had here with its focus on Phos and what happens to her – and it’s vastly interesting – the show feels more like the intent was to adapt the mood and atmosphere was primary intent here. There are so many relationships to explore deeper based on how Phos interacts with them as well as wanting to know more of how the world ended up this way, what the Lunarians are, and more. But what we do get is hauntingly beautiful in a European SF kind of way that really got me hook, line, and sinker for the whole run. It really needs to be viewed as a whole and to allow it to take its time to draw you in.
3 Godannar: Godannar features a really good story overall, some great characters, very well done voice acting in both languages and some sweet, sweet, fanservice-laden animation and character designs. The show doesn’t truly try to go big in a way because of how the villains operate, so it’s more about the cast themselves. There are drawbacks along the way and a few cringe-worthy moments, but for the most part it’s a pretty engaging series that does a whole lot right. With its focus on pairings and couples in order to pilot the mecha, and some unconventional relationships at times, it’s definitely trying to do something different and it makes me happy anytime it comes up in discussion as it’s one of those lost gems. Godannar
4 Bloom Into You: While a good deal of the payoff is in the smaller scenes toward the end of simple closeness, it’s a rare show that can really bring that kind of closeness to reality and make it feel real. Bloom Into You spends a good bit of time between Yuu and Touko yet at the end there’s this kind of ethereal feeling where you remember that love can change on a dime without notice and that you’re left wondering just how deep and real it is. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the relationship unfold between these two and how the supporting characters that got involved over time dealt with it as well, particularly with Sayaka. This is a meaningful series for many and Sentai did very right by it from start to finish, making it an easy recommendation.
5 Seitokai Yakuindomo: This series felt like it took forever to materialize on home video here after the first season landed in 2010 as it and the manga felt like the kind of raunchy comedies that would have seen quick pickups. The manga never materialized but the anime and its first film got a really nice thick collection at a great price that let fans just soak up the hilarity. It’s very episodic but it delivers some very amusing characters that under different configurations and groupings along the way builds to some really strong comedy. The dynamics are half the fun as we get this all-girls school turned dnito a co-ed one where the boys are definitely outnumbered.
6 Girls’ Last Tour: Small moments is something that dominates this series where we follow two young women after an apocalypse. With meager supplies and a small vehicle that they get around in, it’s a very strange and desolate project where there’s a lot of emptiness to it. A lot of quiet. Wide landscapes and tiny characters trudging through looking for food and the like. They do encounter others from time to time and engagement happens there, but thee’s a kind of bleakness to this that may not approach Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or anything, but it leans into that kind of desolation and does so with the kind of color styling that anime projects can do so well.
7 Hakumei & Mikochi: Some series you fall for not because of story but because of how utterly charming they are and the way they unfold. This series deals with the two leading characters and their lives in the forest where, tiny as they are, live rich and full lives interacting with everything and all the creatures. It’s definitely a slice of life piece as we follow their little adventures but it’s so beautifully animated and focusing wonderfully on the small moments and all the nature that it’s easy to get lost in all of it. You just want to immerse yourself in their world where things may not be truly simple but they’re connected and enjoyable to navigate.
8 Those Who Hunt Elves: A simple tale of people taken from home, thrown into a fantasy world, and are desperately searching for five fragments that will let them cast a spell to get back home. Of course, bringing a tank into a fantasy world that’s possessed by a cat makes for an enormous amount of fun but there’s more artillery than just that. The main problem that hasn’t aged well in some ways is that the fragments are tattooed onto five elves and this team is hunting them down. Okay, that’s not bad but in order to reveal the tattoo they have to strip down the elf. That doesn’t play in the same way today but if you slide past that and allow it to exist as a pure comedy, which it is, it’s an absolute delight.
9 Natsu no Arashi: I had struggled with this series when it was first simulcast as the weekly approach really didn’t work that great for me with it. But upon later viewings and this release in particular, everything about it just seemed to click so much better. It’s one of those shows that’s just strange in so many ways and that’s before adding in time travel and connections that don’t make a lot of sense for a good chunk of it. I loved the visual design of it and the way it allowed things to linger in the air rather than just being constantly busy and always moving and doing.
10 Human Crossing: This series is one of those projects that will never do well when it comes to anime fans in general, regardless of country of origin. But it is the kind of work that I’m drawn to as we get episodic storytelling about the basic lives of very different people. This is something that takes us into the basics of how a variety of people live in Japan and it’s absolutely delightful in its small and simple way. There’s no bit story here but just a look at people whose lives cross with each other without ever knowing it. This is true slice of life material as we see the inner workings of so many of them here.
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