For today’s article, I thought I’d get back to a more “traditional” approach with a “year in review” covering my thoughts on some of the 2020 anime series that I’ve seen, and giving each one a rating / grade based on what I thought of it.
Welcome to “12 Days of AniTAY 2020”, a writing challenge in which I look to have an article a day for 12 days leading up to Christmas, all centered in some way on anime or anime-related topics. You can find re-posts of my 2018 and 2019 series (posted originally on the late TAY and AniTAY Kinja sites) now here on Medium.
Given the length, I’m actually just going to cover the first half of the year (more or less) in this article, and finish up in my next one. (I promise this time.) Note that all opinions here are my own, and not necessarily endorsed by the rest of the writers and crew here at AniTAY, and they’re not all going to be super in-depth. For organizational sake, I present them separated by the seasons they started in (with an exception for a continuing series from 2019), roughly by starting date.
Ahh, Koiseru Asteroid. Another Cute Girls Doing Cute Things (CGDCT) show from Doga Kobo. This one for me was pretty middle-of-the-road. Only minor levels of yuri-bait (unlike some past contenders that were substantially over the top such as Uza-Maid). The school “earth sciences” club, in which the former astronomy and geology clubs were combined due to low members and budgeting (or whatever), going on trips together and each learning about the other’s interests. The main character who didn’t realize her one-time childhood friend was in fact another girl until they’re re-united at this new school, and now the pair wants to find an asteroid together. I mean, it was fun, and aired just a couple months after I’d purchased my own telescope (not that I’ve been able to use it much or get the best out of it when I have — very disappointing at a time when Jupiter and Saturn are at like their closest apparent convergence in 800 years, but I digress). But as I said, it was a perfectly acceptable, perfectly average CGDCT. Rating: C+
Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki Nisatsume
The second season of a comedic short introducing viewers to the Nagoya region’s differences from Tokyo and elsewhere. Fun, definitely good that it’s a short. There’s going to be a third season, too, so it must be popular enough. I did think the first season was a little funnier though. Rating: B
A short about the girls of the Outdoor Activities Club going on a stamp rally around town to introduce the new girl to more local places and things to see. It was fun, but it wasn’t quite the tide-me-over until Yuru Camp Season 2 that I was hoping for. Rating: B+
Isekai Quartet 2
Ahh, now we’re talking. Our favorite isekai-d characters return — now with Tate no Yuusha. More hijinks, a Valentine’s Day episode, I love watching chibi-fied versions of the characters have to deal with high school life. Also fun, seeing more of the side characters from their original series cameo to play roles as well. Season 3 can’t come soon enough. Rating: A+
Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (carryover from Fall 2019)
I’m a big fan of Fate, and I’m a player of Fate/Grand Order, which this series is based on. So getting a full series out of one of the storylines was nice, although somewhat peculiar that they’re still making the storyline *before* this one into I think a set of movies. A nice look at a Gilgamesh who’s not just in it all for himself, the adorable Ana, Rin Tohsaka as both the goddesses Ishtar and Ereshkigal (if there’s one thing I liked better than Rin, it was a blonde Rin), and Taiga cameo’ing as minor deity(?) “Jaguar Warrior”. And Merlin getting knocked on his butt by Fou:
Anyway, a great adaptation of the game’s storyline, with some great humor. Even if I kept being reminded of Patrick Stewart’s rendition of the Epic of Gilgamesh in “Darmok”, and created a whole series of screencaps for it. Rating: A+
Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei shitemita.
“Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove It” — A fun little story about a pair of STEM doctoral nerds who insist on trying to empirically prove that they are in fact actually in love with each other. Some fun comedy, and a cute science bear to explain some of the concepts being mentioned, made it a late pick-up watch for me. Seemingly has plans for a second season, which I’ll definitely look into. Rating: B+
Dropped: A Destructive God Sits Next to Me — I tried this one for about half the series, and really, it just got repetitive with the jokes, and I didn’t think they were that good anyway. Rating: D
Let Us Not Talk About: The DanMachi S2 OVA. It flubbed the landing so bad at the end that just, wow. So terrible. Rating: D-
Not Watched Yet: The Madoka spinoff
Ahh, Spring. The season when COVID forced scheduling to go to hell in a handbasket.
Kind of a weird cross between a cute(ish) comedy where a single dad lives in fear that his cute young daughter (who is not always the sharpest crayon in the box) will learn he’s in fact a mangaka known for ecchi series rather than the salaryman he pretends to be, mixed with an ongoing, some years in the future mystery that ended each episode. Overall fun, if occasionally predictable, with the wrap-up of said mystery being a slight subversion of what it appeared like it was heading towards originally. Rating: B+
Nami yo Kittekure
Waitress is drinking in a bar. Waitress drunkenly consents to be recorded ranting about ex boyfriend who screwed her over. Recording is played on the radio, waitress in horror crashes her way into the studio, and somehow winds up landing a gig as a radio host. Hilarity, hijinks, and turtles ensue. I went with this one after seeing a blurb about the synopsis, and seeing that it was being done by studio Sunrise (who amongst many other things, did Cowboy Bebop). And I’m glad I did. Definitely one of those ones where I kind of want a second season, although that might be pushing it too far. Rating: A
Gal to Kyouryuu
Gal & Dinosaur. Somehow, while drunk one night, a gyaru stumbles across an anthropomorphic dinosaur, bringing it back to her apartment. Hilarity & hijinks DEFINITELY ensue. Based on a manga that I should definitely give a chance (if it’s been translated), this anime also had little short segments switching from 2D to 3D animation, and then the second half or so of each episode was given over to live-action storylines. Which for the first few episodes, got especially weird. (In a good way, but weird.)
But thanks to COVID, I was able to finally finish this series literally only a few hours ago. I’m massively hoping for a season 2. Rating: A++
Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta…
An isekai with a female main character. Killed(?) and reincarnated somehow as the “villainess” in her favorite otome game, the new Katarina Claes sets out to change her fate. In doing so, she unwittingly (and unknowingly) transforms the other characters into *her* harem in the process of trying to prevent herself from being killed off whenever the game’s heroine will presumably “win.” Some great comedy, reasonably well-paced plotting for a single series… and then they announced a forthcoming season 2. Not having read the light novels, while I’m sure there’s plenty of plot left to go around, where it ended up left me feeling like, “okay, but what’s next?” and worried that it could be very repetitive. Anyway though, that’s not the first season’s fault at all, so: Rating: A
Yesterday wo Utatte
An interesting choice from Doga Kobo. Not another CGDCT series, but rather a look at adult and adult-ish relationships. I liked most of it, although had concerns when HanaKana was announced as one of the female voice leads (HanaKana never wins the love story is, or ought to be, a trope), it was going well until the very very end. Again, a show that didn’t stick the landing. Supposedly, there was a bunch of source material that got cut between the second to last scene and the last scene. Which is unfortunate, because while I was okay with the second to last scene being reasonably realistic, cutting the material showing how the character got from point A to point B in the last scene made it feel rushed and unrealistic instead. Rating: B+
Houkago Teibo Nisshi
Now *this* was a more traditional Doga Kobo CGDCT series. Fortunately, without even the slightest hint of yuri, though. I mentioned this in yesterday’s music article, as being another series like Yuru Camp, where the total absence of stakes, along with the fun happenings, made it a great “comfy” show to watch and just be chill with. Rating: A
Fruits Basket 2nd Season
So, this is my first experience with Fruits Basket. I’m definitely enjoying it, seeing the different characters grow and develop, and their relationships change, along with finding more depth in certain places. Although some of the bits with Yuri and the student council kinda drive me nuts. I’m eagerly awaiting the 3rd season (maybe the conclusion?). Rating: A
P.A. Works does an anachronistic (somewhat) “Wacky Races” kind of show, in which our two main characters have accidentally wound up in America, and decide to participate in a cross-country race to win the money to get back home. Definitely one I looked forward to, especially by the time it came back from its COVID-induced hiatus. It plays with many of the tropes, but doesn’t really lean into them in the ways you might anticipate (in a good way). Rating: A+
Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai?: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
Kaguya-sama: Love is War, season 2. Our favorite characters return, and we get some new ones. In many ways, it was fun seeing some more growth out of some of the other characters, but on the other hand, it felt like Kaguya herself had BADLY regressed into idiot mode fast. And it needed more insanity from Love Detective Chika, Agent of Chaos in my opinion. Rating: A-
More from our favorite demon friends(non-GabDrop edition). For a comedy series, this second season felt like it needed a little more comedy to keep up with the madcap first season. Rating: C+
Not Watched Yet: Tsugu Tsugumomo, Fugou Keiji: Balance:Unlimited, BNA
Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the second half of 2020 (possibly including some non-2020 series that I also watched during the down time). Until then…