2020 is finally coming to an end, and while it was generally a horrible year for most of the planet, it was a surprisingly good one for the anime industry. This was a welcome development as anime fans were suddenly told the only way to save humanity was to stay home and watch anime as much as possible, which most of us were happy to do. I wanted to write a “J-List Anime Awards” post about the top anime of 2020, based on various factors. Let’s see if you agree with my choices!
How I Chose the List of Top Anime for 2020
To consider inclusion in the list, I considered the following points:
- Was the show popular while it aired, with fans getting excited to watch each episode and making memes about it?
- Was the show exceptionally well-executed by the animation staff? Did it live up to or surpass fans’ expectations?
- Was the show not forgotten immediately after its final episode aired? Usually, series are appreciated by fans yet get forgotten quickly as soon as the next season starts, which makes me sad as a supporter of the industry, and as an anime retailer.
The 14 Best New Anime of 2020
BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense
A remarkably charming anime that won many fans and has a second season coming in 2021. It’s basically a zero-stress relaxing anime about a girl who joins an online MMO community and maxes out her character’s defensive abilities…resulting in her becoming the strongest player in the whole game.
Kakushigoto: Hidden Things
A supremely well-executed anime by the creator of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei about a famous creator of off-color manga obsessed with hiding his true job from his daughter Hime. Features amazing colors and a unique animation style, it tells a well-structured story from start to finish.
Ever wondered what Suicide Squad would be like as an anime, set in one of the most compelling Cyberpunk worlds we’ve seen since Akira? Then make sure you give this quality show a watch.
A creepy/fun series about a boy who can transform into a giant dog-shaped plush creature, and a hot chick who gets inside him to do battle. I’m generally not a fan of series that focus on combat, but this was so fresh and weird, that I loved every bit of it. It also gave me a new fetish or two.
I’ve got a post about Gleipnir here if you want to read it!
HameFura: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
When a Japanese high school girl gets hit by a truck, the good news is she wakes up inside an otome game — a girl-centric “reverse harem” visual novel — called Fortune Lover. The bad news is, she’s the villainess of the game, and she knows that all the routes she could choose lead to her death or exile. To my great delight, fans embraced HameFura and had tons of fun watching it. We even have Hamefura 2021 calendars in stock!
The Day I Became a God
A new offering by anime writer Jun Maeda, who has torn at fans’ heartstrings so often before, in works like Charlotte, Air, Little Busters, and Clannad. A great series that fans (including this one) have had lots of fun with. If you haven’t finished the final episode yet, let’s watch it together!
What show was your favorite from this season? I really liked #UzakiChanWantsToHangOut. Fun comedy about two young people getting close to each other emotionally and a story that progressed! This scene was great.
— Peter Payne (@JListPeter) September 27, 2020
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!
A fun series about a busty and slightly annoying university student named Hana Uzaki who loves hanging out with her senpai Shinichi. While some negative people on Twitter got triggered by Hana’s appearance, it was really a show about two people getting closer romantically that was really enjoyable. It also gave us a new appreciation for chocolate mint ice cream.
What if you could load an app and choose a girlfriend you wanted to take on a date tonight? That’s the premise of Kanojo, Okarishimasu, and it was a really fun show to watch, generating tons of debate about who “best grill.” In the end, we all had fun watching it, and that’s what matters in the end.
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
One of my favorite series of 2020, this is a show about three high school girls who decide to make an anime and go about the process of learning the mechanics of how to imagine fabulous floating worlds and mecha to fly around them, and of course, how to secure funding and properly promote the animated work. The three girls represent the three founders of Studio Ghibli, making it a series all fans of that studio should watch.
Finally, what I consider to be the top anime of 2020 and the one that generated the most excitement and buzz among fans just has to be Interspecies Reviewers, the show that featured “adventurers” in a fantasy world who go on “quests” to brothels and write Amazon-style reviews about their experiences. It caused a lot of problems for Funimation, who canceled the show’s broadcast when they realized it was basically hentai in sheep’s clothing. To be fair, most broadcasters in Japan canceled the show as well.
The Best Continuing Anime Series
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax!
A beloved show with smart characters and dialogue gets resolved in a 100% satisfying fashion. No other girl could have won, in my opinion.
Kaguya-sama Love is War (Season 2)
Season 2 of the awesome anime about two people trying to make the other confess their feelings first. Ishigami-kun basically won the whole season.
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2
With the whole “Rem is sleeping this season” side-plot, I expected fans to be not as excited about the continuation of Re:ZERO, but they had just as much fun making memes about the new characters and the deliciously dark story. And rabbits, lots of killer rabbits.
Strike Witches: The Road to Berlin
The third season of our favorite anime about cute girls fighting WWII is as good as could have ever been expected, with a solid story, awesome characters we actually care about, and all the pantsu we could want.
Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie
If any anime can be said to have “won” the entirety of 2020, it has to be Demon Slayer. The hype around the movie, which got fans packed into theatres despite the special steps everyone had to take to be safe from COVID-19, was unprecedented, with the only comparison being Your Name back in 2016. Demon Slayer was positively everywhere in Japan in 2020, so popular that even people who never watch anime were lining up to go see the movie.
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