If you think about, 2020 should have been a boon year for UK anime fans being cooped up indoors due to the COVID pandemic meant more time to watch anime! In theory at least. Plenty of new titles were released during the new with some real corkers as well as glut of new films and some classics getting the HD treatment for the first time, whilst online streaming continued to be a major force for those with tighter budgets.

Also in 2020, US distributor and streaming giant Funimation bought out our very own Manga Entertainment which should mean quicker access to top titles acquired by them, though they are more keen to drive people towards their streaming service. Speaking of which, Funi also acquired Crunchyroll in December, which might have the biggest impact yet on how we access anime in the UK.

Sadly for humble reviewers like myself, COVID’s arrival meant Manga ceased to send out review titles on disc, instead directing us to view their new releases via the Funimation streaming service but not all of us were able (or willing) to add this cost to our monthly outgoings, hence the paucity of new Manga releases reviewed on this – and other – sites across the internet, and a drop in anime reviews in general on this site.

Thankfully, MVM continued to supply us with discs and rental services like Cinema Paradiso helped make up my reviewing tally for the year, along with personal purchases, and even my first ever anime experience in the cinema! This will also explain why many prime titles are absent from my list for this year and for the foreseeable future, which you know would have been included otherwise.

So, without further ado, here are my personal Top Ten titles which received a UK release in 2020 and as usual agree or disagree as is your wont.

 

10. Star Blazers – Space Battleship Yamato 2199/2202 (Manga Entertainment)

The classic Sci-fi series from the early 1970s with echoes of Star Trek and strands of DNA later found in Star Wars was given a modern make over and finally made its way to UK shores this year. The titular Space battleship, under the command of gruff Captain Juzo Okita, traverses the galaxy to protect earth from an attack by the Garmilians but politics and betrayal seek to hamper them. The real hero is young tactician Susumu Kodai who continues the fight in the sequel. Epic and influential.

Read the full review HERE

 

9. O Maidens In Your Savage Season (MVM)

Mari Okada is a prolific writer in anime, able to turn her hand to many subjects, with her strengths being slice-of-life dramas. This title may seem like another tale of schoolgirls with issues, except for one crucial difference – they are obsessed with sex! Not the most boundary-pushing of shows on this topic (see Domestic Girlfriend) the exploits of a group of innocents in a school book club trying to understand the ways of the libido is handled with charm, sensibility and of course, controversy.  

Read the full review HERE

 

8. Penguin Highway (Anime Ltd)

Japan do the quirkiest coming-of-age stories and we are all the better off for them. This one, as the title implies, involves a village where a penguins suddenly appear at the same time a huge sphere of water does. 10 year-old science fan Aoyama and friends are keen to find out why. Rich in symbolism, esoteric storytelling, and joyous whimsy, this is a tale about how we can’t apply logic to the way life turns out, but we can make it a better place through understanding. And penguins.

Read the full review HERE

 

7. Anohana – The Flower We Saw That Day (MVM)

The second entry this year for Mari Okada, and yes it is a slice-of-life drama, this time about a group of friends who never got over the death of one of their gang when they were children, and need closure for their guilt and unresolved feelings to move on as teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. Less sex obsession and more teary confrontations make this a compelling look at our coping mechanisms in the face of tragedy and why friendships need to be trusted. Emotional yet resonant with lashings of typical anime quirks.

Read the full review HERE

 

6. Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai (MVM)

More existentialist drama disguised as a harem comedy drama, pitting taciturn student Sakuta Azusagawa having to crack the case of Puberty Syndrome among a group of girls at his school. From teen actress/model Mai Sakurajima becoming invisible to since boffin Rio Futaba splitting into two people, and his own sister Kaeda losing her memories, Sakuta has his work cut out for him. It seems growing up really is hard to do, especially in Japan, if anime is to be believed.

Read the full review HERE

 

5. After The Rain (MVM)

2020 seems to be the year of the teen drama in anime as we have another schoolgirl arriving at an emotional crossroads in her life. Akira Tachibana has fallen in love with her boss, Masami Kondo, at the restaurant she works at – no big deal except she 17 and he’s a 45 year-old divorcee single dad! Instead of scandalising this contentious scenario, we are privy to seeing all of the possibilities played before a conclusion is reached, yet it is not the one you might expect. A provocative yet nice little series.

Read the full review HERE

 

4. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Manga Entertainment)

Drinking almost always leads to regret – just asked Kobayashi, a 20-something computer programmer who meets a dragon during a boozy night and invites it to stay at her flat. The next morning, the dragon, named Tohru, adopts a maid persona and turns up on Kobayashi’s doorstep ready to repay her for her kindness. More dragons follow in this silly but relentlessly funny tale of an unusual but touching bond forming between human and dragon.

Read the full review HERE

 

3.Attack On Titan Season 3 Part 2 (Manga Entertainment)

Like Proud Mary, this franchise keeps rolling. Season 4 (and the last) has just arrived on Japanese TV whilst we Brits are left playing catch up with the second half of the third season. Many lingering questions are finally answered and the history of the creation of the Titans is revealed, yet our courageous heroes are still far from out of the woods in their war against the towering behemoths. It is remarkable how e have come this far and yet this series continues to hit new strides.

Read the full review HERE

 

 2. Cells At Work (MVM)

The human body is a fascinating thing though most of us don’t give a second thought to how it works, we just are glad it does and take it for granted until we get sick. So, of course there is going to be an anime in which the internal workings of our bodies, namely blood cells and other important microscopic bodies, are going to be turned into living beings that keep us alive. And it’s not just for comic value either, there is plenty of medical education provided too.

Read the full review HERE

 

No. 1

Weathering With You

(Theatrical/Anime Ltd.)

For yours truly, 2020 was the year I finally got to see anime on the big screen! After years of being overlooked, my local cinema actually screened an anime film (albeit for one night only and just the one screening), making this an opportunity I just couldn’t miss. And it came literally two weeks before lockdown too!

However, it is not just for this reason why Makoto Shinkai’s latest blockbuster sits atop this list – though admittedly it does help – Weathering With You is a truly magnificent film, and I might be in the minority of possibly preferring it to the acclaimed Your Name. The story revolves around teen runaway Hodaka Morishima arriving in Tokyo during a heavy rain season where he meets Hina Amano, a young girl with the unusual ability to control the weather.

Visually stunning and emotionally arresting, this is Shinkai’s most ambitious work on an artistic front whilst his ability to touch the audience and retain a fantastic element that doesn’t undermine the sentiments of the story is sublime. Simply magical.

Read the full review HERE

 

So, what shows did miss out on a spot in the top ten this year? Outside of a couple of Manga releases I didn’t get to review (at the time of writing, some are subject to delays therefore might appear on my 2021 list instead), the aforementioned Domestic Girlfriend proved enough of a surprise to warrant consideration whilst Masaaki Yuasa’s delightful Ride Your Wave and the tantalisingly titled I Want To Eat Your Pancreas were two films that also just missed out.

And that is the list for another year. Join me again at the end of 2021 to see what new treats hit UK shelves – that I am afforded the chance to review – and impressed me enough to make the grade in MIB’s Top Ten.

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is the Man in Black saying Sayonara!

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