Halfway through the year 2021 when more people are getting vaccinated and going out and managers demanding that their peons go back to work in an office building with a shitty commute so they can have someone to lord over once again and everyone's trying to remember how to be social in public after being stuck inside for over a year of school or work...yeah this is the perfect time to drop a best-of anime list for last year. Maybe I'll add pictures later, but I wanted to get finish this list so everyone can agree with how right it is.
Others that didn’t make the cut or I didn’t watch too much of:
- Deca-Dence: Imagine being a NPC in a MMORPG with a story that never really ends. Heard the ending isn’t good but the little I have seen I liked.
- Adachi and Shimamura: a slow-burning lesbian schoolgirl romance with a weird girl who may or may not be an alien.
- Iwa-kakeru Climbing Girls: Shounen sports climbing/bouldering action but with various schoolgirls.
- Talentless Nana: Some kind of X-Men training school set on an island that quickly turns into Danganronpa 2.
- Our Last Crusade: The world’s dumbest governments send superpowered child soldiers to fight each other, but they keep dating in a neutral country instead. Can they find peace?
- Gleipnir: Surprisingly good fight scenes from the few eps I saw even though the show revolves around a crazy girl wearing a boy’s transformed flesh like a skinsuit to collect coins for an alien who keeps handing out superpowers like candy to various teens.
- Peter Grill: Nothing but trash but hey even I need a break once in a while.
Without further ado, let me introduce the...
Top 10 Anime of All Time of 2020
10) BNA (Brand New Animal)
Hey are you interested in yet another Studio Trigger anime? Do you like over the top action, giant corporations being evil alongside collaborating or enabling governments, thinly-veiled allegories for kids going through puberty and learning how to deal with their feelings, and a giant space monster from out of nowhere that pops in as the final antagonist? Well this anime has (most) of that. Set in a world where some people are born as furries and are exiled to the island of Anima City, the tanuki who was originally a human schoolgirl tries to find out who transformed her into a Beastman and how/if she can change back, while dealing with a sullen wolfman with a mysterious past. Also the ending theme is more relevant than you think to the story.
An anime-original Wacky Races where an eccentric inventor teams up with a cowardly samurai to build a racecar after the two of them are stuck in Los Angeles with no easy way of getting back home to Japan. Like a lot of anime (and other things) this one took a long hiatus as COVID19 hit and didn’t finish until next season. Evan Call’s music production especially helped elevate this show, giving the various characters and setting an interesting motif. Sadly this one dropped a bit in my rankings as the latter half of the show felt a bit too conventional after a very interesting start, and I would’ve liked to see more of the Thousand Three than the hints we got. And yet I still enjoyed it.
8) Kaguya-sama S2
More Kaguya and Miyuki playing mindgames with each other when they should just kiss already. Except now they threw in an election arc to introduce a couple new cast members and a sports tournament arc to add some depth to Yu’s character, who had mostly just been a blunt “straight man” until now. It might just be repeating a lot of notes from Season 1, but dammit they hit them so well and it’s one of the few shows that I find myself rewatching on occasion.
7) Jujutsu Kaisen
Another Shounen Jump manga that made the jump to the small screen with a banging soundtrack and incredible fight scenes. Punchy Naruto accidentally swallows the finger of an evil god while trying to save his friends at school, and ends up being drafted into working with Jujutsu sorcerers including inverse-Kakashi, slightly-older Sasuke, Sakura if she took up carpentry, a sarariman with a dull butcher knife, and more. Nothing super out of the ordinary shounen fare, but the team at MAPPA really put their back into the fight scenes, which makes me hope that they are giving their animators sufficient rest. (Ed Note: Apparently not!)
6) Nami wo kitekure! (Wave, Listen to Me!)
A very down-to-Earth show compared to others on this list. A restaurant shift-manager accidentally becomes a radio sensation after her drunken rant in the aftermath of a breakup gets played over the air by a smarmy producer at a station in Sapporo. Minare Koda is a hell of a disaster, and yet despite being essentially shanghaied into working as a radio host, she rolls with the punches and manages to make something of herself. The artwork isn’t bad either, even with the bear that she has to fight in the first few minutes of the show.
5) Somali and the Forest Spirit
Set in a fantasy world where humans have become an endangered species, almost literally eaten to extinction, a human girl named Somali travels with an unnamed golem who takes on the role of her father as they try to find some other humans to take her in, traveling across distant lands. It’s a relatively chill anime with some horrific scenes occasionally thrown in from various threatening flora and fauna that Somali stumbles across, but it fits within the world. Sadly the manga came to an abrupt end when the artist had to step back from drawing for his own health, so there won’t be a true ending, but I think you’ll enjoy it.
4) Majo no Tabitabi (Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina)
Literally just Kino no Tabi (Kino’s Journey) if Kino was a witch with a broom instead of a drifter with a talking motorbike, but that’s not a bad thing. Majo no Tabitabi is the story of a witch named Elaina who travels through different countries, writing a book full of notes on them like her inspiration, and the various characters she deals with: from weird puppetmakers, to dumb thieves, to lesbian witches, to wine-makers, and even her alternate self at one point. If you’re interested in a fantasy story without a ton of continuity and with yuri undertones, then you’ll love this show.
A talking lizard-man and his kung-fu gyoza master friend attempt to find the sorcerer responsible for giving him the head by introducing every sorcerer he meets to a face inside his mouth. Meanwhile the sorcerers have their own society full of masks, organs, and testing out their magic powers on the denizens of a large slum known as The Hole. It’s certainly one of the more unique stories I’ve come across. The artwork is a little rough, and definitely not for those squeamish about blood and organs and body horror. However, if you can tolerate that, you’ll find a very unique and interesting show that never quite goes where you think it will, in a good way.
2) Akudama Drive
An original anime from the original creator of Danganronpa who formed his own studio (Too Kyo Games). Several criminals (the titular Akudama) known only by their codenames and an unnamed office worker who got dragged into their group are hired by a talking black cat to rob a bullet train in future Kansai. This anime takes inspiration from several different movies like Blade Runner, The Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs, Ghost in the Shell, and throws them in a blender, and somehow they really made it work. There are no real good guys here, but you want them all to succeed in their own way. I don’t know if there’s a sequel in the works, but honestly everything they put down here is just fine, with a story arc that actually has something of an ending.
1) Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
It was really hard choosing the order of the Top 3 on this list, but when I think of what anime of the three that I would always anticipate the next episode after the last one ended, Eizouken was the clear winner. The story of a gremlin who loves drawing backgrounds and worlds, a rich diva who loves drawing people, and a tall girl who loves money and business, all coming together to form their own amateur anime studio in school. A microcosm of what it’s like to create an entire anime from scratch and bring it to life, while dealing with all sorts of problems that force the team to cut corners or work around various roadblocks. Yet despite all that, you see the various things that inspire Eizouken to become these creators of fantastical worlds in the first place: From Midori being a latchkey kid with access to her family’s Netflix account, to Tsubame trying to help her ailing grandmother walk, to Sayaka coming up with ideas to help her family’s business while not realizing that it was already doomed. All these experiences coming together to try and form some amazing art that others will see and enjoy, even if they don’t know it. Combine this with hints of a near-future setting and you have a great anime about anime that almost anyone can enjoy from start to finish.