2020 has been a year of unexplained occurrences. How long will we be stuck in quarantine? When will things return to normal? Just how many Netflix shows can you binge in isolation before suffering an aneurism? Don’t let your brain become soft! Check out these mystery anime of 2020 that will assuredly get your brain amped and ready for some deducing!
5. Darwin’s Game
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: January 2020 - March 2020
Let’s kick things off with Darwin’s Game. After receiving an invitation from a classmate to play the mysterious cell phone application Darwin’s Game, Kaname Sudou finds himself at the mercy of ruthless hallucinations. Not deterred by his seemingly deteriorating psyche, he continues to play the game until he is matched with an opponent who suddenly appears next to him. After said adversary begins to hunt him down with a knife, Kaname realizes that Darwin’s Game is not a simple cell phone game. It is a brutal fight for survival.
Survival of the fittest has never seemed so alluring. While Charles Darwin himself only used this terminology to explain animal evolutionary methods, here we are presented with a Hunger Games/Mirai Nikki style battle royale, where only the strongest will survive. Who in their right mind would strive to create such a barbaric application in the first place? I suppose you’ll just have to tune in to Darwin’s Game yourself to find out!
4. ID: INVADED
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2020 - March 2020
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of criminals? Well, the Mizuhanome System allows for this mystery to be revealed. Allowing those who use the technology to enter a virtualized world of the recipient, police begin using the technology to apprehend criminals. The only prerequisite is, to use the system, you must have also killed someone yourself. Such is the case for Akihito Narihisago - once a famed detective but wound up on the wrong side of the tracks. As he investigates a string of serial murders, will he find his culprit, or something far more sinister?
Id: Invaded has a very interesting premise and one deeply rooted in psychological theory. Using this technology to find the identity of a criminal (their ID) is one take away from this anime’s title. However, Id also has a secondary meaning. Freud spoke fervently on the duality of man, splitting the psyche into two parts. The first being the superego; the moral conscience guiding us to do what is right. The second is the Id; the innate, carnal, animalistic instinct within every human, that strives for hedonistic pleasure no matter the cost. The two must work in tandem to form the mind’s ego (a combination resulting in both personal happiness and third-person empathy). The writers must have enjoyed Freud’s musings too as Freud said an imbalanced ego would result in a higher possibility to commit atrocities. Let’s just be glad the writers hadn’t stumbled upon Oedipus instead.
3. Yuukoku no Moriarty (Moriarty the Patriot)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: October 2020 - December 2020
This one goes out to all the Sherlock and Buttercup Cucumberbatch fans out there. Arthur Conan Doyle’s work of Sherlock Holmes has been subverted in this anime adaptation, placing the spotlight on the antagonist of the original piece. Moriarty the Patriot details just how an intelligent and kind mathematics professor, found himself as the kingpin of a group set on burning down a world rife with proletariat ridden poverty and building a utopia from its ashes. As can be expected of any narrative featuring the famed detective Sherlock Holmes, mysterious are aplenty in this world.
However, for fans who thought the motives of Moriarty were in themselves mysterious, Moriarty the Patriot is here to clean up any misconceptions. Villains with clear motives are always more appealing than a final boss hellbent on “wOrLd DoMiNatIoN”. Through this exploration of Moriarty’s character, we are proposed with a very mysterious sense of moral ambiguity. Similar to movies like Joker, here we have a somewhat empathetic protagonist standing in firm resistance against the nobility, but that commits heinous acts of violence. When your hero is someone evil, just who are you supposed to root for?
2. Great Pretender
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: June 2020 - September 2020
Great Pretender follows the life of Makoto Edamura, a down on his luck swindler who, after a series of unfortunate events, has turned to a life of pickpocketing and scams. After Makoto tricks a seemingly naive tourist, he finds himself on the run from the law. For that was no average tourist, that was Japan’s Greatest Swindler, Laurent Thierry, himself. Wanting to prove himself to his new rival, the two embark on a quest of high-stakes fraud against the biggest mafia boss on the West Coast. With Makoto putting his skills to the test, he will come to discover the mystery of Laurent and his band of bamboozlers.
1. Kami no Tou (Tower of God)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2020 - June 2020
Trapped down below, living out his life in a dark and dampened cave, young boy Bam is one day visited by a girl named Rachel, who emerged from the light. Finally, with someone to expunge his loneliness, he grows closer to Rachel with each passing day. However, tragedy strikes when she decides to leave Bam, in hopes of climbing a fabled tower, said to grant whoever conquers its peak whatever they desire. Troubled, saddened but overflowing with conviction, Bam resolves himself to follow Rachel wherever she may go, and he too makes his way into the tower.
Tower of God is adapted from a Korean Manhwa of the same name. Rarely do Korean or Chinese comics see a big-budget Japanese release so when one does make it over, you can be assured it is something special. It’s great to see foreign works gaining the recognition they deserve and hopefully, anime like Tower of God pave the way for future pickups from foreign mangaka. The mystery of what lies atop this tower must have intrigued Japanese animators as they couldn’t help but immerse themselves in the story. Tower of God taps into everyone’s desire to uncover the truth. We have spent years on this planet simply wondering what else the Universe has to offer. Why not climb the tower and find out for yourself?
So, there you have it. These were five of the best mystery anime that 2020 had to offer. Let us know what your favorite mystery anime was this year and which mystery anime you are most looking forward to in 2021!