This year is started on a low note with the whole pandemic thing going on. In the early days of the pandemic, hundreds of promising spring and summer shows were pushed to October. Now the shows are finally airing, and the anime fans are spoiled for options. The Fall 2020 anime season is now in full swing, and you can watch all of the best offerings on streaming services. We’ve got everything from soothing light fantasy and queer schoolgirl to cyberpunk crime thrillers and sheer psychological horror. Since the summer drought, Fall 2020 is full of new anime to watch!
The best ones available on the streaming services are a combination of retro throwbacks, romantic comedies, and big shiny powerhouses. There’s something for everyone in the lineup, from mysteries to musicals. I’ve been watching more than a dozen season premieres so you can watch best from the rest.
1. Jujutsu Kaisen
The series follows Itadori Yuji, who is very average as a high school boy, except that he is incredibly athletic. So much so that he doesn’t want to take part in athletics. One day, his classmates unintentionally unseal a finger that attracts evil spirits called Curses to their kindergarten. Yuji can not escape the curses; he is able to take out the finger, but eventually, he is a conduit for the powerful Curse to which the finger belonged. He then is captured by a bunch of sorcerers who fight against Curses and say he is consuming another finger of the curse in order to get rid of the world of heavy Curses once and for all because Yuji does not lose control of himself by a spell. The scheme entails murdering him, too. The anime for Jujutsu Kaisen is adapted from a manga series that runs alongside series like One Piece, My Hero Academy, and Demon Slayer in Weekly Shonen Jump. And it seems like there are high hopes for the series, particularly with the pretty amazing team working on it. MAPPA (Dorohedoro, Zombie Land Saga, Yuri on Ice) is an anime series, directed by Sung Hoo Park (God of High School) and written by Hiroshi Seko (Mob Psycho 100, Dorohedoro, Vinland Saga). It all seems to be the perfect mix for a grim horror-action series.
2. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
The follow-up to InuYasha’s all-time favorite fan, it’s awesome to write about the sequel to Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon in the grim year of 2020, 15 years since the last anime adaptation! Creator Takahashi Rumiko’s flagship girl power overflowed this time with Yashahime pursuing the daughters of Inuyasha and his brother Sesshomaru. The twins of Sesshomaru, Higurashi Towa, and Setsuna, were separated when they were four years old during a forest fire. Towa escapes into a secret tube that carries her to modern-day Japan while Setsuna remained in the feudal period to become a demon slayer under Kohaku. Meanwhile, InuYasha and Kagome’s quarter-demon daughter, the tritagonist Moroha, wander the feudal lands as well as the bounty hunter. The three of them will be taken together on adventures over time. Yashahime is a series with a lot to live up to as an unforeseen sequel to a cherished classic and is already pulling hard on those nostalgic strings, practically in certain ways, thanks to the greater orchestral music of Wada Kaoru’s returning composer. We’re all going to have to wait and see how it will live up to the strong fan hopes, but for now, all the indicators point to Yashahime receiving a lot of love and attention with Takahashi’s participation, the plot structure, and the characters that are both closely connected to the history of the series while changing it enough to open up new possibilities, and good production standards all over that will ideally contribute to the succession.
3. Fly Me to the Moon
This wholesome rom-com skips the “will they, won’t they” back and forth of other shows in the genre, instead of concentrating on two young lovebirds who get married until they really meet each other. When the bookish Nasa and enigmatic, but loving Tsukasa are married, they get to know each other over time by furnishing their apartment together, exploring their desires, and desperately attempting to express their honest feelings to each other. This anime is also positively filled with pop culture references from both Japanese and Western media, so if you’re a committed anime fan, you’ll find plenty of familiar gags in the cute shenanigans that make up Tonikaku Kawaii’s plot. Then what the heck are you asking for? It’s not like Truck-kun is going to get you if you hurry in too soon.
4. Ikebukuro West Gate Park
As the title suggests, Ikebukuro West Gate Park is set in Ikebukuro, a fashionable area of Tokyo regarded as one of the epicenters of otaku and youth culture. The tale follows the energetic twenty-something punk of Majima Makoto, who finds himself swept up in an ongoing turf war between the G Boys, a gang run by his old classmate Ando “King” Takashi, and rival gangs. While Makoto doesn’t want to pursue the G Boys himself, after his girlfriend Rika was killed by an unknown gunman, he’s allied with them in search of revenge. Needless to mention, IWGP’s got some serious Durarara!! Vibes with his street gangs and Ikebukuro environments, and he’s looking to be a fun series that combines underworld intrigue and action with a lot of personalities that get us happy!
5. Burn the Witch
Tite Kubo’s most popular work is arguably his urban fantasy series BLEACH, so it only makes sense that his new outing, Burn the Witch (a film based on his 2018 one-shot manga), continues the theme by creating a vision of Reverse London – a side of modern London that few people know, infested with deadly dragons that can only be managed by specially trained witches and wizards. This entire anime is just about an hour-long, so it can’t do anything more than setting up its world and main characters, but it’s a refreshing return to form for Kubo and potentially contributes to more material for this season. We’re looking forward to seeing where this is heading!
6. Moriarty the Patriot
About as many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes as there are soul-sucking tragedies in 2020, not counting those from the medium of animation. But Yuukoku no Moriarty does things a little differently, concentrating instead on Holmes’ everlasting archnemesis, William James Moriarty, sharing the story of how he became a “crime consultant” who rids the shadows of crooked nobles in Victorian society. Honestly, after the colossal disappointment, the Woodpecker Detective’s Office had caused, we wanted a sexy anime boy detective show that didn’t dissolve into an aimless mess halfway through – and Yuukoku no Moriarty is here to remedy that. It’s clever, gorgeous, and relentlessly exciting, much like its lead diabolical character.
7. The Day I Became a God
The acclaimed graphic novel adaptations just keep coming! The Day I Become a God is a Primary Joint based on high school student Narukami Youta who is busy studying for his university entrance exams and a mystical girl called Hina, a self-proclaimed omniscient goddess who has seen the imminent end of the universe in 30 days and decides to spend the rest of her life with Youta in what will be a summer full of memories. As a Maeda Jun / Key translation, the same artistic powers behind Angel Drums, Little Busters, and CLANNAD, there’s certainly a lot of hopes for The Day I Become a God based on that legacy alone, so at least we know the music is going to be amazing! We’re hoping it’ll take two courses to really shine, but hey, it’s definitely an anime that many hold their eyes on for the special combination of light-hearted moments and monumental emotional drama with a sprinkle of the supernatural that made Key’s previous adaptations so special.
8. Golden Kamuy Season 3
Saichi Sugimoto, a former soldier in the Russo-Japanese War, finds himself in Hokkaido when he hears of a gold trove hidden somewhere on the island. The treasure once belonged to the Ainu, the tribal people of Japan, but it was looted and concealed by a single individual. He was captured, but instead of asking someone where the treasure was, he tattooed a secret on the skin of 24 other inmates who tried to escape. Teaming up with the young Ainu girl Asirpa seeking to avenge her father who was murdered by the robber when he stole the gold, attempting to catch all the prisoners or gathering their hides until the other parties looking for loot (including the thief’s co-conspirators and the dishonest Japanese army battalion) have them first. While the tone of Golden Kamuy ‘s sound is very serious, it is probably similar to that of the Coen Brothers movie (more Fargo / The Big Lebowski than No Country for Old Men) when there are quite serious stuff going on, but there is also a silliness that comes from just appreciating how strange people can be. You’ll have a bloody battle scene one minute, then a chilly cooking scene where they’re playing about faeces, preceded by a moment of learning about the civilization of Ainu. It manages to find a harmony between these disparate sounds, from scene to scene, as if they were completely normal. With just 24 episodes so far, it’s easy and worth catching up before the new season begins.
9. Higurashi When They Cry
Speaking of terrifying curses, this season will also host the much-awaited revival of Higurashi: When They Scream. Based on the psychological horror graphic novel series of the same name, the plot follows Maebara Keiichi, the son of a successful artist who has recently relocated to the village of Hinamizawa in the countryside, making friends including Sonozaki Mion, her twin sister Shion, Ryugu Ren, Furude Rika, and Hojo Satoko. However, after learning about the annual Watanagashi Festival, he has been somewhat paradoxical about the so-called Oyashiro curse that has been connected to many murders and disappearances in the last four years. It seems like his new home and friends may be a lot more sinister than they seem. As a reboot/remake of a classic visual novel that already has a fairly well-considered anime adaptation from the mid-late 2000s, fans and newcomers are dying to see where this version is heading and how it’s going to be different, particularly considering that the core vocal cast and the composer are coming back. Having the latest character designs of Watanabe Akio’s Bakemonogatari success has definitely already captured our attention, and if this series is receiving the complete Fruits Basket remake treatment, it could be a terrible surprise for all!
10. Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai
This retro-style performance is a revival of the 1991 anime of the same name, all of which are part of the Dragon Quest video game series. Little here is really innovative – a spirited boy raised by monsters goes on a journey with a motley group of heroes to kill the Demon Lord – but the presentation is so perfect that you can’t help but enjoy it. Akira Toriyama’s timeless art style, which defines the look of Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, and Dragon Ball, really puts you in a fantasy mood, particularly given the crisp clarity that modern animation techniques allow. If you’re in the mood for an uplifting anime to take you away from our own increasingly disappointing world, give this a watch!
11. Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
If you’re a fan of Kino’s Trip, Violet Evergarden, or Kiki’s Delivery Service in particular, Majo no Tabitabi would be right up your alley. Elaina is a freshly minted witch who journeys around the world, intersecting occasionally with the lives of those who seek her assistance or support. It’s a beautiful film, courtesy of the relatively new studio C2C (which is also responsible for the surprisingly well animated Harukana Receive and WorldEnd) that makes the world sound even more mystical and vibrant. That said, this anime isn’t afraid to go a little darker than you might anticipate, showcasing adult concepts like slavery, grooming, and issues that can’t be fixed by the strength of friendship alone. If that kind of complex solution appeals to you, Majo no Tabitabi should surely be on your watch list!
12. Akudama Drive
Anime industry veterans Studio Pierrot don’t do original shows too much, but Akudama Drive has already proved itself capable of being among their finest productions, at least in terms of visuals and plain, uncut hype. It’s set in a neon-drenched cyberpunk version of the Kansai city, where civil war has ripped civilization into shreds and gangs of criminals run the streets. There’s no such thing as a lot of deep character growth here (so far, anyway), but that’s not really the point – the point is to lose yourself in the exciting EDM beats and go along for the thrill ride, and fortunately, Akudama Drive is utterly superb. You’ve got to give this one a try!
13. Adachi and Shimamura
It’s unusual to see a modern anime that portrays women’s romantic relationships as serious love stories instead of just a “fanservice” or “step” (seeing you, Hibike Euphonium), so this season we’re especially excited about Adachi in Shimamura. The main characters are leaner high school students who meet every once and a while on the second floor of the gym to play ping pong and talk, but over time they grow to know that they may really love each other. Their interactions are so truly awkward and sweet, particularly their bike ride in the rain of the first episode. We’re expecting big stuff from this show