Considering everything that’s happened this year to put us in a constant state of mind-numbing dissociative stress, you can’t be blamed for missing out on some new anime – especially since the lockdowns in early spring caused many delays and cancellations that threw the seasonal schedules out of whack. So here are some of our favorite 2020 anime that you may have missed the first time around. They’re sure to provide some much-needed escapism so you can momentarily forget about the real life grimdark storyline we’re existing in right now!
5. Maoujou de Oyasumi (Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle)
What’s a kidnapped princess to do while she waits for a hero to save her from her imprisonment in the demon’s castle? Well, she might as well try to get some shut eye. Princess Syalis couldn’t care less about the politics behind her capture – really, all she wants to do in life is sleep comfortably and not be bothered. She explores the castle in search of materials for fluffy sheets and pillows, going so far as to dismember teddy bear demons and ghost shrouds for her own comfort, until she eventually has all of the king’s minions wrapped around her little finger. If you’re looking for a lighthearted comedy that expertly plays on traditional fantasy tropes, this one is for you!
4. Runway de Waratte (Smile Down the Runway)
Shokugeki no Souma and Toriko did “shounen with food” and Kaguya-sama: Love is War did “shounen with flirting”, so it’s about time someone did “shounen with fashion”! Smile Down the Runway does exactly that, following aspiring model Chiyuki (who is too short to be a traditional model) and her clothing designer friend Ikuto (who doesn’t have the income to get started) as they prove their naysayers wrong and pursue their dreams against all odds. Fashion shows end up being just as intense as the most white-knuckle battles you can think of from action anime, and you find yourself rooting for these underdogs to succeed in an uncompromising field that doesn’t seem to welcome them. This is a great motivator for anyone who needs a little push to accomplish something in their life.
3. Nami yo Kiitekure (Wave, Listen to Me!)
During a drunken night out, 20-something waitress Minare Koda rants about her recent breakup to a random stranger. She wakes up the next day to find that her tirade is being played on the radio, since it turns out that the stranger just happened to be an executive for the network and he loved her spirited delivery. Thus, she gets strongarmed into becoming a host for an improv radio show, taking story prompts and acting out scenarios to the delight of her growing audience. This anime is a refreshingly realistic take on adult relationships and Japanese culture, featuring expressive animation by studio Sunrise and some particularly stellar voice work from up-and-comer Riho Sugiyama as Minare. If you’re going through a quarter-life crisis during quarantine, you’re sure to feel heard while watching Wave, Listen to Me!
2. Adachi to Shimamura (Adachi and Shimamura)
Wave, Listen to Me is for people who are tired of the clumsy flirting and misunderstandings that come from most romance anime, while Adachi and Shimamura is for people who can’t get enough of it. High school slackers Sakura Adachi and Hougetsu Shimamura only really know each other because they sneak out of class to play ping pong together on the abandoned second floor of the gym, but throughout their first year of school, they slowly open up and become closer friends. Of course, neither one of them can seem to realize that they’re actually in love with each other because of their abysmal self-confidence and inexperience with romance, but maybe enough indirect donut kisses and headpats will finally get these girls to confess to one another. Everything about this anime is just so cute, and it’s wonderful that yuri fans aren’t getting queerbaited for once.
This original racing anime by P.A. Works got absolutely screwed over by the pandemic, since it had to postpone its production after three episodes and had to wait over three months to continue. But if you give it a chance, you’ll see that it’s a boundlessly creative historical anime about a car race across America in the late 19th century, featuring colorful characters from all walks of life and a traditional Western/samurai movie plot with enough plot twists and hype action scenes to keep you engaged the whole way through. Do yourself a favor and marathon Appare-Ranman right away!
Be sure to also check out Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater, Arte, and Noblesse if you’re short on new anime to watch during the last days of this criminally long year. Let us know what you think of these shows in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!