2020 was a troubling year for most industries, including Japan’s beloved anime sector. Due to restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many shows got postponed. Despite this, 2020 still proved to be an exceptional year for anime, from releases like the much-anticipated Attack on Titan: The Final Season to the record-breaking blockbuster Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train. While many of the most hyped releases offered continuations and conclusions to many years of storytelling, some new adaptations also demonstrated great potential to be the next big anime series. Let’s look back and talk about the best anime debuts the industry had to offer in the past year.
Adapted from the Shonen Jump manga of the same name, Jujutsu Kaisen follows the life of protagonist Itadori Yuji, who starts as a normal boy with exceptional physical prowess before being whisked into a world filled with supernatural beings and powerful sorcerers. On his journey, he’s accompanied his eccentric teacher, Gojo Satoru, and his classmates, calm Fushiguro Megumi and confident Nobara Kugisaki.
It’s a typical shonen manga, but what sets Jujutsu Kaisen apart is its genius writing and top-tier animation. Author Gege Akutami keeps us on our toes through foreshadowing and well-written characters. The production studio MAPPA and their star-studded crew of animators, from director Sunghoo Park to key animator Shingo Yamashita, amplify the story’s emotional highs and lows with impeccable and well-directed animation sequences. It’s an exceptional blend of a solid and intriguing plot, an interesting cast, gut-wrenching angst, and breathtaking animation. For fans of the shonen genre, this is a definite must-watch.
Moriarty the Patriot
Conan Arthur Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is one of those source materials that has received countless adaptations, from movies to TV shows, but what makes Moriarty the Patriot different is, instead of following the story through the lens of the titular character, we view it from the perspective of the iconic villain, William James Moriarty. The show’s author Ryosuke Takeuchi offers questions on the meaning of justice in a society rife with discrimination and class inequality, which is quite timely and still applicable in today’s context. Add on great character designs by Hikaru Miyoshi and Production I.G.’s smooth animation, fans of the mystery and thriller genre will find many to love.
Great Pretender is great for those looking for a more light-hearted show to offset the present’s tough realities. The story follows Makoto Edamura, a young con man taken under the apprenticeship of criminal mastermind Laurent Thierry. While most anime seeks to adapt the source material, Great Pretender elevates it through a catchy jazz soundtrack, fast and loose pacing, snappy humor, unique yet stunning and colorful animation, and director Hiro Kaburagi’s masterful direction.
These are only three of the many amazing shows that debuted in the last year. It just goes to show that even in a time of great hardship, creativity can flourish. Anime debuts are often overshadowed by the release of sequels of more popular anime, but give them a chance, and you might just find your new favorite series.
1st and featured image from https://pixabay.com/photos/japan-tokyo-train-manga-anime-1558640/
2nd image from https://pixabay.com/photos/art-street-tokyo-japan-japanese-4951534/