Looking back at last year, and our amazing partnership with indie manga publisher Saturday AM, it is clear that we missed one crucial list to cap off the annus horibillis that was 2020.

Namely, our favourite anime series and films to rear their bright, pretty heads amidst all of the drama and trauma.

Hobbies are often a perfect way to retreat into oneself and get a bit of distance and perspective away from the external world, and we’d like to think that these beauts popping up helped quite a few people deal with the dread and find some joy.

If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, here are our top picks for anime series debuting in 2020. We hope you like them as much as we did.

Tower of God

Starting off as a simple story about a young boy in search of his missing friends, Tower of God is a (excuse the pun ) towering adaptation of the beloved Korean manga webtoon.

The boy, the bizarrely named Twenty-fifth Bam, soon finds a slew of mysterious friends on his journey as they all try to conquer the tower and its challenges. Speaking of the challenges, there are some truly strange and bizarre tasks and trials that wait in store for the characters, and they are an absolute joy to watch.

With crisp animation, a bizarre and delightfully uneven tone and enough twists to make a rollercoaster jealous, this one is an absolute must for fans of both the shonen and mystery genres and features an intriguing take on the rapidly stagnating deus-ex-machina style of shonen story progression.

Great Pretender

Taking cues from classic heavyweights like Cowboy Bebop, Michiko & Hachin and Lupin III, this gem of a show takes all of its inspirations and runs wild with them. A more grounded and realistic take on a heist/ caper story, Great Pretender centres its action on the convoluted, messy and often ingenious schemes of its motley crew of thieves of con artists.

Its a nuanced, impressive display of storytelling that doesn’t skimp on representation, realism, backstory and intrigue.

We thoroughly recommend diving straight into this one and going in with no expectations whatsoever. You won’t regret it.

Deca-Dence

So this show is at first glance about a humongous, titanic mobile city fortress kind of thing that kind of riffs off of the idea present in The Mortal Instruments series.

The roaming city was created to protect humanity from the advances of freaky, colourful and fearsome creatures and to ensure that this mission is achieved, the society living within the city’s armoured walls is heavily stratified and citizens are divided into rigid social castes.

This is… not the story at all though, and at the end of the first episode, there is an absolute whopper of a plot twist that will leave you reeling.

Just… watch it. The action is manic and so well animated and the story and concept is worthy of attention for its level of intricacy and emotional heft.

Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul

Released to little fanfare right in the beginning of 2020, this continuation of the incomparable Made in Abyss series is a pioneering example of the anime adventure genre and a truly heartbreaking exploration of naivety and growing up.

The anime series released in 2017 was a beautiful, harrowing and exciting adventure that saw two friends, Riko and Reg (and later Nanachi) take a journey down the Abyss. The Abyss is a gigantic crater that extends multiple levels and contains ancient technology, relics and creatures that can be found nowhere else.

This sequel film sees the trio enter the 5th layer, where the horrifying scoundrel Bondrewd and his acolytes reside in a long-abandoned ritual site left there by the ancient civilisations. Here they meet his daughter, Prushka, and try to convince him to let them continue on their adventure past the gate that lies at the layer’s centre.

Made in Abyss is incredibly gruesome, upsetting and disturbing while simultaneously being heartfelt, cute and joyous. We recommend it to anyone that is fans of Studio Ghibli, Shadow of the Colossus and Tomb Raider. (Just trust us)

Food Wars

We’ll keep this one short and simple.

Do you like Master Chef? Chopped? Do you like Anime? Do you like things that are so off the wall crazy that the smallest taste of Katsu Kare can send clothes flying off?

Congratulations there’s an anime just for you.

Set mainly at the Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, Food Wars follows Soma Yukihara as he endeavours to become the best damn chef the world has ever seen.

This show is insane, delightful, hysterical and it will make you hungry. Have fun!


What were some of your favourite anime series of 2020? Let us know and we’ll add them to this list!

- Dante Ludolf