Mystery fiction can be very interactive. Even if the story goes ahead without the viewer's input, we still can see the same clues that the main characters have seen and try to figure out the answer to the plot we're watching before the series ends. There are many kinds of mysteries: from the mostly realistic detectives following killers to the supernatural that may involve investigations into the past and even other dimensions. But they all have one thing in common: there's something that the main characters don't know and they have to figure it out before it happens again or it will have bad consequences for everyone involved.
Every season, anime brings us some amazing mystery series. Between those that are based heavily on Japanese culture and history, and those that are influenced by western mysteries, we always have a hard time choosing which ones are the best of the year. But after a lot of consideration, here we have the five mystery series that we hope you didn't miss in 2019 because they were amazing to watch.
5. Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin (Midnight Occult Civil Servants)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2019 – June 2019
Due to the appearances of different supernatural creatures in Japan, the government decided to expand their police force and created the Nocturnal Community Relations Division in Tokyo to make sure any problems caused by the “Anothers”, as the creatures are classified, are dealt with. Arata Miyako can speak with the Anothers, and that's the reason why he is recruited to the NCRD in Shinjuku to help the detectives solve the cases that are piling up on their desks. While, at first, Arata is not quite sure what the NCRD does, soon he is running all over the district to keep the peace between Anothers and humans without the humans knowing about it.
Although most of the cases in Mayonaka no Occult Koumin are self-contained, there’s also a bigger mystery around the Anothers and their relationship with humans and between their species. There’s also an interesting subplot between Arata and Huehuecoyotl and how this relates to Arata’s past life as the legendary exorcist Abe no Seimei. If you like mysteries as well as learning more about myths all over the world, Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin is just for you.
4. Kakegurui XX
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2019 – March 2019
Kirari Momobami, the president of the student council at the prestigious Hyakkaou Private Academy has been quite entertained by Yumeko Jabami’s search for the ultimate thrill in gambling, but still feels that things at the school could be more fun for her. So she decides to create a revolution in the school by putting her position in the Council up for grabs in a school-wide election where the only way to get votes is by winning bets. However, unknown to most students, it’s not just her position at the school that is on the line, but also her role as the head of the Momobami clan, and the children of the branch families are not ready to let her give that honor to just anyone.
Although when people think about Mystery Fiction they think about a murder or crime mystery, there are other kinds of stories that also revolve around trying to find an answer to a driving question that makes the plot move forward. In the case of Kakegurui XX, there are three big mysteries: What is Yumeko’s relationship to the Momobami clan? What is Kirari’s real motivation behind the "election gamble"? And why do the Momobami clan’s adults let her do what she wants? And while we may not get the answers to all those questions in this season, we still get enough clues to want to know even more.
3. Kanata no Astra (Astra Lost in Space)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2019 – September 2019
In 2063, school trips have become a bit more exciting than in the present. After all, now students have the chance to go to outer space for said trips. For eight high school students and a ten-year-old girl, it's the chance of a lifetime and they are all very excited until they somehow end up teleported more than 5,000 light-years away from Earth. While they manage to find a ship, which they name the Astra, they still have to figure out how to get back home and why they ended up so far from their original destination. Led by Kanata Hoshijima, a decathlete who dreamed of becoming a space explorer, they try to survive as they “planet-hop” from one planet to another trying to get back to Earth.
Astra Lost in Space is a very interesting mystery that proves that you don't need a murder in the first five seconds just to make people intrigued. There are betrayal, secrets, and a lot of questions raised by almost every action the team takes, and they are in danger not only because they're just high school students who suddenly have to be a space ship crew, but because they are pretty much cut out from getting any help. So if you're more into mysteries built around conspiracies rather than murder, Astra Lost in Space is for you.
2. Mo Dao Zu Shi 2
- Episodes: 8
- Aired: August 2019
Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji are still investigating the demonic arm they keep heavily guarded, but many factors are making their research complicated. Wei Wuxian needs to keep his cover as a crazy member of the Lanling Jin Clan to live in the Cloud Recesses, while Lan Wangji has realized that the arm may be contained, but evil is not just limited to that one body part. So they still have to figure out how how to stop it and find all the answers as to why Wei Wuxian started in the path of demonic cultivation and if he is truly redeemed from his evil past.
Chinese animation and manhwa have been taking the world by surprise, and Mo Dao Zu Shi 2, as well as its prequel aired in 2018, is a very good example of why. The character design is gorgeous, the animation very fluid, and the story will capture you and pull you into a web of intrigue, reincarnation, betrayal, and redemption. There are a ton of plot twists, each more surprising than the previous one, and the final answer may shock you. Mo Dao Zu Shi is an amazing series that deserves to be watched at least twice so you can get every little detail in the complicated plot.
1. Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2019 – June 2019
Atsushi Nakajima has found his place in life working with the Armed Detective Agency, despite all the dangers that their investigations may bring them. But there are still more problems hidden in the past of some of the Agency members, as the story returns to the past, after the three-way mafia war that ended up with the death of the Port Mafia boss. This is heavily linked to the first cases that Osamu Dazai and Chuuya Nakahara investigated, and as they remember those days, their past comes back to haunt them in the present.
Bungou Stray Dogs has been a consistently great mystery series that manages to put together one-episode cases with a longer, darker conspiracy, as well as a very good balance of stories of the past of the main characters together with what is happening in the present. While this may sound like a very difficult task to manage, the creators of the series have succeeded in giving us a great mystery that we can't wait to see continue forward.
Whodunnits may be the most popular mysteries, but they’re not the only ones. And here we have a good mixture of different ways in which a studio can give their audiences a great mystery because 2019 had a great crop of stories within the genre.
But we have a question that only you can solve: Which series was your favorite Mystery anime in 2019? Is it on the list? Do you agree with their placement? Or is there one we missed and you want to talk about? Please, don’t forget to let us know in the comments below!