It’s time for my top 10 anime of 2020. It’s been a great year for anime, even better than last year. I gave a lot of good ratings this year, and I’m excited to give some very strong recommendations.
Last year, I don’t think my top 10 was very good. I didn’t watch much and I didn’t watch Astra Lost in Space then, which easily would have been number 2 on that list. This year, I finished a total of 25 new anime. I could have finished more, but I think this is a good number, and the ones I was interested in watching have basically no chance of making the top 10 anyways, so I think now is a good time to write it.
Keep in mind this is my list. If you want, make your own top 10.
10 Asteroid in Love
Do you ever just have multiple interests that you want to write about, but can’t decide on one? That is the feeling I got from Asteroid in Love. The protagonist, Mira, met a boy named Ao when she was a kid and made a promise to name an asteroid after her one day. Advance to high school and she reunites with Ao, who turns out to be a girl. They want to join the astronomy club only to find out it’s been merged with the geology club.
This anime is a relaxing slice of life about high school girls with either a passion for space or for rocks, and is even educational sometimes. There is some drama, but it isn’t really serious, and usually gets resolved pretty easily. What really makes me enjoy this show is how cute and relaxing it is, and I can really see the author’s passion for space and rocks. Both groups take interest in each other’s passions, which is really heartwarming to see. Both groups get involved in activities regarding their passions such as going to a museum or space center.
If you are looking for a cute slice of life anime that aired this year, I would definitely recommend Asteroid in Love.
You can stream the show in sub and dub on Funimation, and in sub on Crunchyroll and Vrv.
9 Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle
The hardest part about making a good comedy based on a gimmick is that it gets stale after a while. That was my main concern coming into this anime, but I ended up enjoying it a lot throughout. The anime follows a princess who was captured and held hostage in the demon castle. But instead of the princess being treated poorly, the princess terrorizes the whole castle. She just wants to sleep comfortably, so she frequently escapes from her cell to find materials to make it more comfortable to sleep.
“I just want to sleep comfortably” seems like an idea that would get boring after a while, but somehow they were able to consistently make this anime hilarious. The anime just gets more and more absurd, as her escaping becomes something that all the demons expect, she finds new ways to totally mess with these demons.
Overall, Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is one of the most hilarious comedy anime I’ve seen in a while. Being able to keep the comedy feeling fresh and amazing use of visuals to add to the comedy made this such a satisfying anime to watch.
You can watch the show in sub on Funimation.
8 Somali and the Forest Spirit
I don’t think I’ve seen an anime that was able to be this wholesome and this anxiety-inducing at the same time, but here we are. Somali and the Forest Spirit is about a small human girl named Somali in a land of non-humans, a land in which humans are despised. She is taken care of by an emotionless Golem, who treats her like a daughter, and in return she treats him like a father.
Part of this anime is extremely wholesome, with Somali getting involved in various situations in which the emotionless Golem has to make less rational decisions in order to take care of the problem child, and slowly start to realize he has emotions. The other part of this show is it’s emotional core. The Golem is rotting away and wants to find some humans to return Somali to, but he has to protect her identity so she isn’t hunted by the non-humans.
Even when the show is being extremely wholesome, there is always the sense of dread that something could go horribly wrong. And there are times when it does start to lean in that direction. Even still, it’s a great anime about parenthood with strong writing and amazing background art. I watched this in English dub and I was especially impressed by Somali’s English voice.
You can watch the anime in sub and dub on Crunchyroll and Vrv.
7 Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club
My history with Love Live is a bit mixed. I’m not a big fan of the original series, School Idol Project. The drama was poorly executed and the comedy was overdone. I didn’t really like any of the characters and was left thinking the show was just average. I really enjoyed Sunshine though, which greatly improved upon it’s drama, and the stakes made me feel genuinely invested. The comedy was also improved a bit.
With Nijigasaki finished, I can safely say this is my favorite Love Live. The first thing I need to note is the visuals. The art style is so much better than the off-putting designs of the original series. The animation is also fantastic. There is so much expressive character animation. Performances look the best they ever have, sometimes making it hard to even tell it’s cgi.
What really impressed me the most was it’s more grounded approach to drama and comedy. It’s got some amount of Love Live absurdity mixed in, but it isn’t overbearing at all. Drama tends to be more grounded, and the execution is really solid. There were some episodes that were weaker than others, but it’s best episodes were some of the best in Love Live, and overall it was a great show to watch. I hope there is a season 2 because I would love to follow these characters some more.
You can watch the anime on Funimation in sub.
6 Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story
I’m a huge fan of the original Madoka Magica series. It’s a dark magical girl series with some great characters, amazing twists, and a lot to think about. The spinoff Magia Record seems to not be very well-received, but often times sequels or spinoffs come with expectations, and if not met, won’t be met with a good reception. I came into the spinoff with an open mind and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It follows a group of magical girls who chase after rumors in Kamihama City to figure out the mysteries behind them. The protagonist Iroha is trying to search for her sister who the whole world seemed to forget, and she can’t seem to remember her own wish that lead to her becoming a magical girl.
Just like the original series, the visuals are fantastic, especially the labyrinths, and the music is just as good as Yuki Kajiura’s other works. The drama was done pretty well, and I ended up enjoying these characters quite a lot.
It’s hard to say that you will like this show if you liked the original Madoka Magica, because it is a different series, but it’s still a worthwhile show on it’s own merits. Unfortunately, it left off on a cliffhanger, but a season 2 was announced, which I’m greatly looking forward to.
You can watch the anime in sub and dub on Funimation.
5 Brand New Animal
Brand New Animal, or BNA, is a new anime by studio Trigger. It’s about a beastman who used to be human, named Michiru Kagemori, moving to Anima City to escape the discrimination she faced. Anima City is supposed to be a safe city for beastman, but in the shadows lurks darkness, and the city isn’t as safe as one might think.
Beastman are essentially humans, except they can transform into beast-like forms. They feel pride in the fact that they are beastman, and want to show that without discrimination. The show tackles many important real world topics like racism, religious brainwashing, the corrupt healthcare industry, and how awful material conditions and systemic injustices are what lead to high amounts of crimes among minorities.
This show tackles these issues with a surprising amount of nuance, and is a show I feel you can find new things to analyze on rewatch. I even wrote a blog on it’s themes of systemic racism. The show also has a good amount of comedic moments, which are really well done, and sold even better through the expressive animation. As expected of a Trigger anime, the art and animation are amazing.
As the show aired on Netflix, it came with an English dub, which was quite great, with the protagonist being voiced by Cherami Leigh, my favorite VA. Also, Jackie, who was voiced by Erika Harlacher had a hilarious voice that I couldn’t get enough of.
The anime is streaming on Netflix in sub and dub.
4 Talentless Nana
Talentless Nana surprised me. The first episode introduced a simple concept. There are kids with super powers who are sent to an island to hone their abilities to fight the mysterious “enemies of humanity”. The first episode is a huge bait to reveal that this anime is actually like Death Note and Danganronpa combined. There is a traitor on the island, which leads to some really cool mind games that take into account the powers certain characters have.
While it did start out as a show with crazy mind games, with me wanting to see how the protagonist would come back from always being put in a disadvantaged position, over time it began to show it’s true colors as an anime that examines the morality of it’s characters and the people who put them into this situation. Special powers can be considered good or bad depending on the person, but it’s ultimately about how these powers are used. Some of the characters are genuinely great, while others are pretty messed up. But you also have to take into account the surrounding circumstances that might lead to each character’s moral compass.
Towards the end, it turns into an emotional rollercoaster that examines the humanity of it’s characters, and will have you feel them in spite of their circumstances. Whatever you might feel towards its character initially, you may end up changing how to feel about them at some point and redirect those feelings towards someone else.
This anime was phenomenal and it sucks that it had to end on a cliffhanger. I hope it gets a sequel, but if it doesn’t I will likely read the manga.
The anime is streaming in sub on Funimation.
3 Great Pretender
Great Pretender is easily one of the most consistently praised anime this year, and it’s pretty obvious why. It’s freaking good. The show follows a group of con artists, except they only scam rich assholes. The protagonist Makoto Edamura gets dragged into schemes of the con artists, which are simply really damn entertaining. Each con is full of crazy twists and turns, with nonstop baits that make the show unpredictable.
The show has a surprisingly solid emotional core. Each of the main characters has their own issues and backstories to go along with it. Each arc focuses on one of them, while also mixing in a bit of political commentary. Despite the illegal activities of our characters, you can’t help but root for them, because their enemies are huge pieces of shit, and ultimately our main cast ends up doing a lot of good.
The visuals of this anime are fantastic. Amazing character designs, expressive character faces, and some of the most gorgeous background art I’ve ever seen in an anime.
The dub is also quite an achievement in diverse casting. There are a wide variety of characters from different countries, ethnicities, and races, and the dub cast is just as diverse. The show starts out in Japanese with English subs, then switches to English. Different characters have accents to match their ethnicity, while in some situations, the voice acting is done in their own language, such as French or Chinese. I feel this adds to the immersion of the show.
This is an anime that’s not only amazing all around, but an anime I feel you could show to people who aren’t super into anime, and they would still enjoy it.
You can watch the anime in sub and dub on Netflix.
Do you like historical settings? Appare-Ranman is the anime for you. I feel that whenever you watch a P.A. Works anime, you know it’s a P.A. Works anime. This anime carries all of the energy and eccentricity you’d except from the studio.
The anime follows a mischievous, yet genius engineer named Appare Sorano, who wants to do whatever he wants, which often gets him into trouble. He eventually drags his caretaker Kosame Isshiki along his crazy hijinks, which involves taking a boat and leaving Japan. A ship brings them to the states, and they are stuck there due to lack of money. Appare decides to enter the trans-continental race, which has a huge money prize, but for him, he just wants to show off his engineering genius.
The wild-west setting, filled with outlaws and gun fights is already appealing enough, but it’s eccentric cast of wildly designed characters really drew me into the show. I cared about each of the racers. There are other plot points related to each of the characters and the show ends up going in a more surprising direction that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Everything about this show was a blast. The race, the characters, the action, and the visuals. It can be a bit predictable, but that doesn’t really matter when it’s fun regardless.
Just like Great Pretender, I feel this is quite an achievement when it comes to diverse dubs. The characters are quite diverse, and so are the voice actors. I feel the historical American setting, along with the appropriate accents, makes this a show you absolutely should watch in dub, similar to anime such as Baccano!
You can watch the anime on Funimation in sub and dub.
Deca-Dence is anime of the year. I have no qualms or reservations in saying this. Deca-Dence is a masterpiece! In the show, we are introduced to Natsume, a girl with a prosthetic arm. The anime takes place in a destroyed earth where these monsters called the Gadoll attack, and have to be fought off by a group of human-like warriors called the Gears, while the humans have to hide inside the giant mobile fortress called Deca-Dence.
Natsume wants to prove herself by joining the power and fighting against the Gadoll. But instead she is made to clean the guts of Gadoll off the side of Deca-Dence. There, she meets her boss named Kaburagi, who’s a grumpy dude who’s lost all hope in life.
But after the first episode, the show takes a super subversive twist. I don’t want to spoil the show, as it’s a twist I think everyone should experience themselves, but I do want to touch on some of it’s themes. I will try to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers.
The show touches on the exploitative nature of capitalism, though the corrupt system the humans are subjugated to. Natsume, due to her prosthetic, isn’t valued by this corrupt system. But her active attempt to prove herself in spite of her disability inspires others, such as Kaburagi, to snap out of their apathy, and desire to create a better future for everyone. Natsume’s story is an inspirational one, about fighting the power. Even if she doesn’t know how the corrupt system is screwing her over, she still fights to prove herself to everyone.
The show’s portrayal of disabilities is some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s done with tact, and it’s nicely tied into the themes of the show. It has an impact on her, the relationships she makes with others, and how she is treated by her peers.
The show is ripe with political commentary, and there is stuff to dissect in each episode. I would really love to go more in depth, but it’s pretty much impossible without spoiling.
The visuals are quite fantastic in this anime. The character designs are nice, and the ones introduced later on are very unique. The animation is phenomenal. The characters, especially Natsume, are ultra expressive. The action scenes are amazing. They are very fluid and give a great sense of perspective. The way they fight by floating around in these bubbles to get around enemy attacks and find weaknesses is so freaking cool to watch.
I watched most of the show in dub, but had to switch to sub to watch the last two episodes in time for this post. I have to say the dub is quite fantastic. Trina Nishimura captures that spunk and expressiveness of Natsume perfectly. Kaburagi, voiced by Gabe Kunda, sounds really cool, and I would love to hear more from him in the future.
I’ll say it again. Deca-Dence is a masterpiece. It’s rare we get such unique and subversive anime originals, but I’m so glad a show like this exists. As someone who’s become pretty political recently, the themes of the show really resonate with me, and I hope they can inspire others too. I can’t recommend this anime enough. I implore you to give this a shot and to recommend it to others.
The anime is streaming on Funimation in sub and dub.
This year was seriously a damn good year for anime. There were from great shows from this year that I’m surprised didn’t even make it onto the list. This goes to show just how great the quality and the variety of anime we got this year. While not every show was a smash hit, there was more than enough for a wide variety of audiences. I feel like in this top 10 alone, there is enough for fans of almost any type.
Next year is also looking strong, so I hope the new anime of next year lives up to the hype.
Thanks for reading this post. If you liked any of these anime, let me know. And tell me what new anime were your favorites from this year.