Wow! It’s not 2020 anymore, and we’re still here! We hope that you’re still here too!
Let’s be honest, it’s been a rough year for all of us due to the various amounts of things going on in the real world, but that doesn’t mean that it was all bad either. We hope that you’ve at least had some good moments that have stuck out in your memory which will hopefully push some of the worst things out of your mind when looking back upon the year.
Unlike the past anniversary posts and in the same spirit as last years (which I will get into more detail about shortly), this one will be brief and condensed, sort of showcasing what will be upcoming throughout the year, celebrating some successes, and throwing out some announcements as well.
Okay, so here’s the thing: this was initially supposed to be a “Top 10 Anime of 2020” post. I had every intention of doing that, but then someone made a dumb joke about 2020 and 20 anime and I am also dumb, so I resonated with that and ran with it. So here we are now. You have made it to General Tofu’s list of 20 great anime series from 2020 – congratulations!
I was absolutely not about to rank 20 different series, so what I have instead done is that I have organized them by the season that they initially released in. I have also not necessarily organized this as a list of only the absolute best anime – there are definitely shows that I watching this year that I have rated higher score-wise than some shows that appear on this list. I am quite sure that plenty of the shows that did not make the cut for this list have been talked about to death on other end-of-year posts, so y’all probably don’t need to hear about some of them again on this one. Instead, I focused on picking shows that I would readily watch again, because I felt that that would be a more enjoyable list to compile, honestly. The list is pretty beefy already, so for the sake of brevity, let’s get this show on the road!
Recently, I’ve been on the vtuber train and saw the release of a new Hololive vtuber named Pavolia Reine. Something in her 2D anime-inspired design was exceedingly familiar but I didn’t quite remember until she revealed the artist who made her look was IIDA Pochi. This particular mangaka has a specific style that I knew well from her manga series Ara Naru Mono or The Demon Who Became My Sister, and it reminded me that I hadn’t talked about this series before on here. So why not now?
While Ara Naru Mono is a slice of life, it definitely has an undercurrent that makes it feel much darker. The series follows Yuu, a 14-year-old boy who grows up orphaned from his parents who passed away while he was young, and being constantly tossed from one relative to the next, as his family despises him as an outsider. Yuu finally finds himself being taken care of by his unsociable but generally amiable uncle before said uncle mysteriously falls into a coma and is hospitalized. Upon checking his uncle’s things, Yuu finds a summoning circle and accidentally releases an eldritch demon who grants him a wish in return. Never knowing a loving family, Yuu wishes for the demon to be his older sister and thus begins their life together.
As another selection from the Mystery Garbage pool, we ended up watching We Rent Tsukumogami, a slice-of-life historical mystery show. If you haven’t heard of it before and don’t know what a Tsukumogami is, then you’re exactly in the same boat as we were.
This show packs a lot of decent surprises, in that not only is the show pretty well-done for what it’s made out to be, but it also does a serviceable job at providing a lot of decent storylines and integrating its characters into the story without making the show boring or uninteresting to watch. Plus, you get to see a talking comb! Who doesn’t love that?!
We ended up enjoying the show rather a lot and hope that you might give We Rent Tsukumogami a chance after listening to our discussion of it!
Anime openings and endings (commonly abbreviated as OPs and EDs respectively) have become a staple of most anime in modern days, so it makes sense that the discussion continues to resurface, as there continues to be more and more anime released every year, which in return means more and more openings and endings are released as well. This is a different sort of era than what anime used to be, even from a decade ago, with most anime having the same opening or ending song for more than one season of a show. Even before the 2000s years of anime, OP/EDs specifically were relatively scarce in shows and were vastly different than the ones that we encounter today in terms of song genres, types of openings they are (instrumental or vocal), and most obviously the types of animation processes used in these music clips as well.
So initially, Tofu added Romeo x Juliet to our rotation because the opening theme is a redone version of “You Raise Me Up” and it was one of the funniest things imaginable. Imagine our surprise when it turns out to actually be a pretty freakin’ great show (unless you’re Matt)!
There’s a lot to talk about with an anime adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet – how it plays around with the source material in interesting ways, how it sets itself apart from the original, how the language you watch the show in changes the entire feel of the series – and man, do we talk about it. We had some words about the show (and each other’s opinions about the show), so trust us when we say that this is an episode well worth listening to.
Forewarning for some, this is going to be a bit heavier discussion that deals with death, but it is uplifting in the end.
Many of my generation joke about how old we feel when there’s new Internet lingo we don’t know or some younger generation doesn’t know one of our favorite artists we listened to when we were in high school. It’s fun to joke about and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. However, the feeling of growing old is a very real thing. Visiting my own grandparents, my grandmother would discuss at length the struggles she faces as she grows more frail and watches those she was closest with pass on. It’s hard to accept the inevitability of growing old, let alone make the best of it.
Sanju Mariko is a story about this, dealing with the loss of your own ability as well as the loss of those around you, yet still finding a way to go on and enjoy life.
Specifically, I have a problem with watching anime from my backlog. Years ago, when I had just gotten back into watching anime in earnest, anime felt like a wide open world, filled to the brim with all sorts of series that I would jump at the opportunity to watch. Now, years later, the situation is exactly the same – there’s tons of shows out I would love to watch, and the list only continues to grow. That, unfortunately, is where the anime problem comes in. Unsurprisingly, as part of the Backloggers, I do have a bit of a backlog of anime that I would like to watch at some point in time. I’ve been able to chip away at it, to be sure, but recently, I’ve encountered this issue where I look at my backlog, and I internally just grind to a screeching halt. What do I even watch from this list? What do I dedicate my time to? How can I possibly choose something from all of this?
That, friends, is where my secret weapon comes in. What’s the best way to choose a show and chip away at your backlog?
The fall 2020 anime season has decided to be merciful to us – it has deigned to not be full of complete and utter suffering shows, unlike its predecessor, which is great. However, there was a price to be paid for this. There is now just too much anime! As a result, we…just go over a bunch of it and probably only hit about half of the shows that are actually airing this season. Kamisama help us all.
Unsurprisingly, with such a huge amount of shows airing this season (or with things just getting back to a normal fall season airing load), we’ve got a lot of great stuff to cover. We gush about how much of a mood Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is, the unbridled joy (or newly brided joy?) of TONIKAWA: Over the Moon for You, some surprising hits of the season such as Akudama Drive, Warlords of Sigrdrifa, and Moriarty the Patriot, and we even manage to get in some discussion about the surprising (and not surprising) additions to our drop piles, like Assault Lily: BOUQUET and Noblesse. This is a packed one, so strap in, get comfy, and enjoy the ride!
I’ve always enjoyed the idea behind a childhood friendship that turns into something more. I’ve felt I could relate to the idea of being friends but then feeling the boundaries and limits of that relationship lengthen into something else. It’s scary, too, which I think is part of the fun of reading them. There’s a fear that something changing may cause that something to break or be hurt, or the people involved equally hurt. It can be annoying when two characters play this constant pull back and forth and the reader is basically screaming at them to just finally make that last step. However, even when I’m pulling my hair out, I still feel a sense of empathy for that fear.
She is the Rokurokubi is definitely one of those stories. Set in a world where Youkai live in an unfortunate “separate but equal” place from humans, a human boy, Itsuki, and a Youkai girl, Natsuki, have been friends since childhood and go to school together on the Youkai side. A Rokurokubi is a type of Youkai that can stretch its neck indefinitely. And while that could make the boy and girl very different from each other, they couldn’t possibly be closer. Both of them love a lot of the same things, they hang out and do the same things, and constantly fight with each other like siblings. However, both of them are starting to realize their feelings are changing. As the series goes on, Natsuki’s friends try to help, but inevitably, it’s Natsuki and Itsuki who have to take that final step.