2020 was not only a great year for anime but a great year for anime movies. Popcorn at the ready, people - we’re counting down the top 10 anime movies of 2020!
10. Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai: The Clouds Gather (Twittering Birds Never Fly)
- Aired: February 2020
The big screen is no stranger to adventurous bedroom antics. If three Fifty Shades movies just didn’t quite satisfy you, perhaps The Clouds Gather will do a more ample job of walking up and down your spine in high-heeled boots. The story of a powerful CEO and his battle with power harassment. Harassment of what, however? His employees? His customers? No; Yashiro, a closeted masochist, uses his power to make others abuse him.
After hiring a bodyguard who he takes an interest in, Yashiro and Doumeki begin their adventure through the wonderful world of Yaoi BDSM. Despite the rather raunchy topics on display in this movie, the overall theming is much more subdued. After all, this is more a character piece as opposed to a smut film. Fans of Yaoi or fans of character explorations should give The Clouds Gather a chance.
9. Kimi wa Kanata (You Are Beyond)
- Aired: November 2020
The Isekai boom has long since ended but Kimi wa Kanata seeks to breathe fresh life into the genre. All the staple tropes are present at first glance. A girl has feelings for her childhood friend - check. She attempts to convey those feelings but unfortunately has a nasty run-in with Truck-kun - check. She awakes to find herself not splattered across the sidewalk, but instead, in a magical new world - check.
However, the world to which Mio is transported is unlike any seen before. A world teeming with interesting characters and things to explore. Usually, Isekai anime have the benefit of multiple episodes with which to enrich their world but, due to the time regulations of the movie industry, all of your favorite Isekai tropes are compacted into one bitesize chunk. Any fans of Isekai anime should be sure to keep an eye out for You are Beyond.
8. Pokémon Movie 23: Coco (Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle)
- Aired: December 2020 (Japan)
It can be difficult to keep track of the ever-growing series of Pokémon movies. Everyone has their favorite and it seems no-one can agree on which should stand at the top of the list. The older movies will always have a place in our hearts while the newer movies have improved on both storytelling and animation quality. However, we do not blame you for losing interest after the one where Ash tries to sleep with a Latias.
That is why Coco is a breath of fresh air for the Pokémon movie sphere. Not only does it contain the most advanced and beautiful animation yet seen in a Pokémon movie, but it deals with the new theme of a human raised by a Pokémon, as opposed to the other films’ themes of the bond between human and trainer (think of it as an extended episode of ‘The Kangaskhan Kid”). While a great movie, similarly to several other entries on this list, it was released very late into the year and so there are still a lot of people yet to watch it. For those people, rest assured that Zarude is a much less creepy father than Entei ever was.
7. Digimon Last Evolution Kizuna
- Aired: February 2020
Let’s keep the nostalgia train chugging along with another childhood favorite - Digimon. After Digimon Adventure Tri was released to mixed reviews, fans were ready for a true Digimon finale featuring a grown-up cast. Ten years have passed since the original adventure as this movie focuses on Tai and Matt’s University life (yes; we will be using the English names, the train is in full motion at this point).
This is a great movie for all the nineties kids out there. We grew up watching Digimon Adventure and dreamt of emulating such a fantasy. Then as we grew into teenagers, Digimon Adventure 02 aged up the original cast as well as included several newcomers. Now, as many of us have either graduated or will soon graduate from University, the time has come to say goodbye to our childhood. In a way, Agumon and his pals represent that lost sense of childhood whimsy all adults must one day experience. That isn’t to say that only hardcore nineties kids can enjoy this movie. For adults, it offers a window into the past and for children, it fills them in on what’s to come. Who would have thought the franchise that brought us the Digi-Rap, would have such a profound message?
6. Shirobako Movie
- Aired: February 2020
Set four years after the original Shirobako anime series, here comes the Shirobako Movie! Tasked with the creation of a new theatrical anime project, Aoi Miyamori must do her best to ensure that the movie goes off without a hitch. Not only this, but she is also paired up with new colleague Kaede Miyai, as the two work together alongside the rest of the Musashino Animation team, to get the job done as best they can.
The gaining of a theatrical release can oftentimes lead to wild and outlandish plot developments, to convey to viewers that this piece will differ from its original series counterpart. While the Shirobako Movie does its best to create an interesting storyline, it also does a great job of using the original cast. The original series saw the MusAni studio on its last legs as Aoi attempted to revive it. Here, it is great to see the company up and running and Aoi still doing her best every day. The Shirobako Movie is a great anime that deals with a lot of serious and mature topics similar to the original series, while still retaining a lot of charm and whimsy.
5. Shingeki no Kyojin: Chronicle (Attack on Titan: Chronicle)
- Aired: July 2020
With the final season of Shingeki no Kyojin well underway, it can be upsetting to feel as though you have missed out on the bandwagon. Sure, you could always watch the original series in their entirety, but by then, the final season would have concluded, and the hype will have died down. A lot of the fun of watching a sparkly new release is the community aspect of it all. Scouring forums after each episode airs and discussing advancing plot points with friends or strangers across the internet.
The higher-ups at the Shingeki no Kyojin head office seem well aware of this fact as they bring us this anthology of major plot points across the entire Shingeki no Kyojin timeline. All 59 episodes are condensed to give newcomers and returning viewers, all the necessary information required for watching the final season. While not technically an original movie, Chronicle is a love letter to fans for supporting Shingeki no Kyojin all these years. With the series winding down, it can be nice to reminisce over the journey we have all been on together.
4. Violet Evergarden Movie
- Aired: September 2020
An original sequel to the anime series of the same name, The original series saw “Auto Memories Dolls” and in particular, Violet Evergarden, serving a variety of different clients. However, one such client named Gilbert taught Violet about the many intricacies of love. Scolded by Gilbert’s brother for living in the past, Violet struggles to forget about the man who taught her everything.
Violet Evergarden was a very touching anime and this sequel does not disappoint in evoking several strong emotions. We all have that special someone who has taken up a permanent residence in our subconscious, tethering us to the past and preventing our progression. For those struggling to let go, the Violet Evergarden movie may provide a great deal of encouragement.
3. Made in Abyss Movie 3: Fukaki Tamashii no Reimei (Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul)
- Aired: January 2020
Dawn of the Deep Soul follows our heroes’ descent down the perilous Abyss. Upon arriving at the fifth layer, with only one blocked path available to advance to the sixth layer, Riko and Regu must weigh up what sacrifices have to be made to continue on their adventure. Made in Abyss has already proven its longevity now bring us the third of its theatrical releases. The original series is a wonderful adventure with a very unique concept and the movies only expand on this.
Despite its kid-friendly exterior, Made in Abyss is a very adult anime with a lot of mature themes including violence and body horror. Do not be fooled by what you see on the tin. Made in Abyss is an anime that the entire family can be traumatized by! It’s never too late to get into an anime series so pick up the original from episode one and let us know what you think of the movie once you’ve watched it!
2. Fate/stay night Movie: Heaven's Feel - III. Spring Song
- Aired: August 2020
Fate/stay night made waves with the long-anticipated, final of the three movies, and adaptation of the third route of Fate/stay night; Spring Song. Fate as a franchise can be daunting at first glance. With multiple releases spanning series, movies, games, and visual novels, each with its unique characters and plot developments, finding one’s way down the rabbit hole is not as simple as simply picking the first release.
“Ok, so first you gotta watch Fate/stay night the original series released in 2006. Then you need to watch the movie released in 2010. Then you can watch the updated fate/stay night but DON’T watch it if you love Saber because it favors Rin. Then you just end world hunger, destroy capitalism, stop on your right foot DON’T FORGET IT, and finally, you can watch Fate/Zero.” Although difficult to get into, Fate as a franchise has amassed millions of fans across the globe. So much so that this was not the only Fate movie released this year! The Fate/Grand Order Movie set in Camelot was also released to critical acclaim. Really, with all the media on offer, there is no excuse to at least watch one of them.
1. Kimetsu no Yaiba Movie: Mugen Ressha-hen (Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train)
- Aired: October 2020 (Japan)
This should be a surprise to no-one. Kimetsu no Yaiba struck such a chord with fans that, for one month, it outsold One Piece in manga sales (something unheard of). Needless to say, a movie tie-in that expands canonically on the original storyline, was positively poised to rake in the yen. However, we’re sure nobody could have predicted this movie to surpass Spirited Away on the box office, to become the highest-grossing movie OF ALL TIME in Japan!!
Infinity Train has yet to release in the West but we felt it garnered an exception for the impact it left on not only the anime community but for appealing to non-anime fans as well. It’s just a great movie and the fact it is animated (a stigma those not in the know usually link with childishness) has made little to no damper on sales. Without spoiling the plot too much, the movie is a direct continuation of the final episode of the original series. After being tasked to investigate a series of disappearances about a mysterious train, Tanjiro joins the flame Hashira, Kyoujurou Rengoku, as the two do battle with one of the twelve Kizuki. We at Honey’s are on the edge of our seats for a subtitled release set to debut sometime this year!
Wrapping up, while technically not a movie outside of Japan and instead, three twenty-minute episodes, we felt it necessary to at least give Burn The Witch a passing mention. A dragon conservation fantasy peace set in a stylized London with a great message about animal rights just couldn’t be overlooked.
2020 was a tough year for all of us so hopefully, this list assured you that it did have some light amidst the darkness releasing so many great anime movies. Let us know your favorite anime movie of 2020 down below!