So we reach the end of 2020. To say this has been a ride would be putting it lightly. But, it is a good time to reflect on something positive like the top anime of the year! It is honestly a pretty fun thing to look back at all the quality shows we got to see. And in part I like looking back and being surprised by some shows I didn’t recall as shows of the past year and thought were a couple years old already. No matter what happens in a given year it is always tough to pick just 10 shows. So many shows, movies, and ovas that came out left me wanting to put them in the top 10. But I simply didn’t have anywhere to put them.
This was a year full of disruption and anyone that was watching anime weekly knows this. Some shows got delayed a few weeks, a few months, and some had their airing date kicked back multiple seasons. But we still got a lot of great anime and I’m grateful for that. I don’t think the top shows of this season were lacking in comparison to previous years.
I’m glad though to look back on all these great shows. How good a year has been is really up to the individual and their personal preferences. I got a fair number of shows that suited my tastes, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. And as always this is a completely subjective list. I’m sure someone could breakdown a top 10 list of the most technically proficient shows with the best quality of writing. But I’m not going to be that person. This is completely about what left an impact on me. This is both about remembering the variety of shows we got this season and letting people know about series they might have simply missed.
10. Healin’ Good♡Precure (Winter)
Now here’s a show I didn’t quite expect to crack the top 10 when the year started. This franchise has actually had some legitimately great series. But the last few years it just hasn’t gotten me interested. This one is different. It has a strong main character with a pretty effective backstory. You want to see Nodoka grow stronger and fulfill her goals. For all she’s suffered, the girl still has her optimism and a powerful need to help others. There are some good action sequences in this show. Some not so good, but overall it does a nice job with the monster of the week formula. The supporting characters for our lead heroes are well handled. It has had some good villains to this point and the main rival for Nodoka is one that works because it is such a personal rivalry. Glad to see Precure stepping up.
9. Deca-Dence (Summer)
You always hope for an original anime to deliver and I’m glad this one did. Now the show did probably throw people off with some of the twists it revealed early about the setting. But I honestly enjoyed following along and finding out just what was going on with this world. It built itself up pretty nicely and by the end I was definitely signed up for whatever they were going to do to end it. I think the two main leads both got a fair amount of focus. They did try to let both of them grow. Mixed in with that we got a lot of good action. The weird elements still worked for me. This may be a one and done franchise. But in that case I’m glad the one season was really good. They knew what story they had to tell and managed to tell it.
8. The Misfit of Demon King Academy (Summer)
This was one of the better surprises of the year for me. I thought it had the potential to be fun, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it this much. One of the better examples of an OP protagonist that I’ve seen in a while. Anos manages to be badass, good, brutal, and fun all at the same time. He’s awesome, but doesn’t come across as disinterested in things. Also appreciated that it doesn’t devolve into a messy harem. It does let side characters have some happiness too. I honestly want to see more of this show and where the story would go from here. Every week I was looking forward to the next episode so certainly worth getting into my top 10.
7. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – Gou (Fall)
Having Higurashi back is a pretty big win in general. Although this season definitely wasn’t what I expected. But that’s not really my fault since they made this first part of the series mostly about misdirection and playing with expectations. Ending the first episode with the original series’ OP says it all. It would be higher, but at this point I’m still not sure where they are going with this sequel. Now that’s part of the mystery. At the same time though, I appreciated how deserved the ending of the original show was. So if they don’t handle it well and make doing this worth it then I can’t look at it fondly. Still, the quality of this show is good. Still don’t love the character designs compared to the original show. But they work. And they are capturing tension really well in this show and making me care.
6. Boku no Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Winter)
I didn’t think the movie would be the one cracking my top 10 list, but that’s how it went. Maybe it was the effect of seeing this in theaters, but even seeing it on the smaller screen was still a treat. Heroes Rising was a fun movie that really let the overall cast shine while still making it mostly about the main character. Deku doesn’t lack big moments in this movie. But it wasn’t just him that got to shine here. This was one time where they made good use of the main character fighting the main villain and everyone else gets the minions cliché. Because the minions were pretty darn strong so it required a great effort by the various young heroes. This gave fun, great visuals, and didn’t feel that out of place in the story.
5. Princess Connect! Re:Dive (Spring)
Honestly, I did not expect to enjoy this show this much. Didn’t know a thing about the mobile game it was based on and figured it would be forgettable. But this was one of the funnier shows of the season. Yet it also managed to have some really nice looking action and explosions. It takes the protagonist and makes him pretty fun. Starts out a total fool, but does develop as he goes along. All the main characters were likable to me and I wanted to see them build their bonds. While I can’t relate to the bug culinary focus they had at times…the rest of the show was good. There was some legit emotional moments in this. When it decided to get serious…it got serious. A comedy first, but not exclusively. Honestly this was too enjoyable for me not to pick it.
4. Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T (Winter)
I will say that this season had some ups and downs for me and it wasn’t on the level of Railgun S. With that being said, this show was still really good. The Frenda focused episodes were excellent, the action was still really good, and they did some nice work with the supporting cast. Honestly there were a lot of times I think the other characters stole the show from Mikoto. And not so much because she wasn’t doing anything well, but rather their stories were just that engaging. With that being said, Mikoto did get some epic fights in the second half. That second half was bounced around a bit due to Covid, but it was still great when they were able to release those episodes. The overall combination of action and story delivered and secured a spot in the top 5 for me.
3. Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Winter)
I have no problem letting Babylonia have a top 10 spot in 2019 and 2020. The half of the show we got in 2020 was excellent and captured the climax of the story. Honestly while the mobile game can have some pros and cons, this adaptation was top notch. It was a beautiful show that had so much good action, likable characters, and really tried to handle everyone well. It even made me appreciate some characters that I just didn’t like from other series before this point. The only things I can complain about is that I didn’t like the OP for the 2020 half of the season and the pacing could have been slower at points. But the visuals, action and story all came together really well. I enjoyed this show a lot and absolutely had to place it in my top 3 for the year.
2. Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 (Spring)
Sometimes sequels are everything you could have asked for. And that was definitely the case this time. It was really nice to get this show back. The comedy was as always on point. But they definitely continued to step things up with the overall story arcs going on. And holy smokes some of the more emotional episodes absolutely delivered. Iino Miko was a great addition to the cast and I like what they did with Ishigami. It still had a nice OP/ED combination, the visuals were still packed full of care by the animators, and it really didn’t let me down. The story really is just picking up from here and you can feel that. It didn’t take the crown for me this year. But absolutely Kaguya-sama was well worth a top 3 position this season.
1. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Bloom (Fall)
Honestly once I started looking back on the year this show just kept rising to the top. Every episode was a journey that I enjoyed a ton. Going into this I was worried the new animation studio might lead to a dip in quality. But it honestly was everything I could have asked for. Slice of life can sometimes feel relatively uneventful and that nothing really changes. But this season was all about paying off the character growth for all these characters. Every week had me laughing, smiling, and sometimes even getting a bit emotional. I just love this cast and this third season was well worth waiting for. It was always enjoyable and often great. Definitely my top anime of 2020.
Will just add a few extra categories here:
- My Best Male Lead: Anos Voldigoad (Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha).
- My Best Female Lead: Chino Kafuu (Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Bloom).
- My Best Supporting Role: Ereshkigal (Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia).
- My Favorite OPs: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Bloom (Tenkuu Cafeteria), Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 (DADDY! DADDY! DO! feat. Airi Suzuki), Princess Connect! Re:Dive (Lost Princess).
- My Favorite EDs: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou (Kamisama no Syndrome), Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Prover).
This year started off pretty well I think. The carryovers from the previous year and new shows helped things start off nicely. And really it never fully lost steam. Of course I remember seeing the Boku no Hero movie in theaters right before things escalated over here. But, even with all the disruptions I still ended up with top 10 shows from every season. Not all those shows finished when you normally would expect them to, but they did finish just fine.
Here’s hoping 2021 is a great year for anime. I’ll also accept just a good year for it as well XD. There are a lot of shows I was hoping to get another season that got them. So fingers crossed those shows deliver while a bunch of new ones completely catch me off-guard in a positive sense. I’m sure my top 10 list isn’t close to what others had, but I think that’s the fun of it. Overall quality can be judged on a certain objective level. But, I think enjoyment is just a personal thing. I hope everyone at least had 10 shows they liked enough to put in a top 10 list. Hopefully everyone has as great a 2021 as they possibly can.
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