Well my slim jims, another anime year has come and gone, so I guess I owe you lot my top ten from the 2019-2020 viewing year. Just to reiterate, this is just of what I watched this year, not what came out this year. I figure it worth noting that there was a much smaller pool of things to choose from this time around. For my 2018-2019 year there were roughly 77 contestants in the pool, whereas this time around we have about 32.
While it’s true that we did buy a house and move this year, I also had accrued enough of a review buffer (shows that I’d watched but hadn’t published reviews for) that I undertook a great and arduous endeavor. I watched Naruto. All nine seasons. All 220 episodes. That’s roughly 18 single-cour shows. I’ll be returning to more standard viewings for the 2020-2021 year, so hopefully its top ten will have a larger roster.
We still watched some dang good ones this year, and movies particularly stood out among the contestants. So, let’s get to it! Again, order is flexible.
Do you ever have those movies you watch, or books you read that suck you right into it and you don’t feel like an outside observer? This movie managed to do that, making it an emotional roller-coaster with stellar animation and music. Easily Fate’s best installment.
There’s something truly special about this show that I can only describe as KyoAni magic. Despite having no real plot, no real character development, no real stakes, it managed to be one of the most endearing, heartwarming, and feel-good comedies. Great for when you want something cozy and comforting.
You guys, I love art. I love it when people take risks and it pays off. Here’s a gorgeous CG anime about androgynous gems with bittersweet emotional development. Having an alternate take on the Coming of Age genre was such a welcome change of pace after slogging through so much predictable risk-free Naruto.
I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Land sakes, this was a masterful demonstration of how to do stupid comedy in a non-patronizing way. Comedic timing and voice acting are on point from start to finish, making it a stellar example of what Konosuba has to offer.
Remember that thing I said about loving art? Here’s another one. Bold stylization doesn’t impede dramatic visuals or storytelling in this ancient folk tale come to life. Studio Ghibli manages to tug at those heartstrings and fill you with wonder yet again.
Everything I’ve ever wanted from traditional fantasy. Deeply rooted in folklore with magic as a dangerous, mysterious force. All serving to grapple with deep emotional and psychological issues. Every episode was deeply touching.
Ignore the click-bait title, this surprisingly non-ecchi series is deeply emotional, philosophical, and real. Take the humanity and true-to-life representation of teenagers from Toradora and mix it with the philosophical and supernatural side of Monogatari. What you get is a sharp, witty, and deeply emotional series that makes you treasure those around you.
3. Re: Zero
Have you ever wanted the dumb, plucky protagonist of an Isekai to really just get what’s coming to them? I know I have. Then Re:Zero delivered on that promise and knocked the wind out of me with its deeply emotional moments and rattling twists that literally left me speechless. Very much a good representation of anime as a whole, for better or worse.
ART you guys. ART. KyoAni does it again, but in an experimental way this time. The behind-the-scenes amplifies how impressive this is. So much of the direction, sound design, music, is all very deliberate and artistic. It felt like a long-form Pixar short both in emotional resonance and human experience.
KyoAni knocks it out of the park. Same director, composer, and animation team as Liz and the Blue Bird. A heavy exploration of redemption and dealing with a lot of life’s real issues in an honest way. Big ol’ tears.
- Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (Parts 1 & 2) – A truly unique and wild ride that can only be described as “So Much.”
- Weathering With You – Makato Shinkai’s follow-up to Your Name. Gorgeous, but very much in Your Name’s shadow.
- Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll – A very beautiful period piece focusing on the bond between sisters.