Top Ten Anime, Manga, and Movies of 2020

Jujutsu Kaisen

I’ve heard about Jujutsu Kaisen, but I thought it was just another demon manga/anime series. Considering my history with anime (Yu Yu Hakusho and Demon Slayer), I should have known not to prejudge based on tropes. Regardless, I Iove this series. It’s still in the middle but I like the world building, characters, and animation so far.

Jujutsu Kaisen Episode 1: Recap and Review


Tower of God

Manhwa (Korean comics) has become an important source for anime adaptation. Tower of God was my first exposure to the series by Lee Jong-hui. The story centers on Twenty-Fifth Bam. Trapped with his friend Rachel underneath the mysterious Tower, he follows her into the Tower. Bam encounters challenges on each floor of the Tower as he searches for Rachel. The first season is phenomenal, ending in a shocking cliffhanger.

Is Tower of God Good?


Deca-Dence

Deca-Dence is a series set in the distant future, insect-like creatures called Gadoll have forced humanity towards extinction. I had no expectation for this series, so it was a surprise when Deca-Dence turned out to be far more sophisticated. The series was full of twists and turns, while making a critique of capitalism. Its themes are topically for 2020, and it was one of the most original anime of the year.

Deca-Dence Episode 1: Recap and Review


Pokemon: Twilight Wings

One of the biggest surprises of this year was Pokemon: Twilight Wings. A seven episode limited animated series, set in the Galar Region, the short anime series follows the citizens of Galar. Despite the short length of the series and each episode, Pokemon: Twilight Wings was impactful. All seven focused on side characters expanding the Pokemon universe through the eyes of Galar citizens. Pokemon: Twilight Wings was an emotional series with great animation.

Pokemon: Twilight Wings, a short anime series based on Sword and Shield games


The God of High School

I was excited about The God of High School from the moment they announced it. I wasn’t disappointed. Like Tower of God, it based on the series created by Yongje Park. While the series doesn’t reinvent the wheel, there are enough surprises to keep you interested. The God of High School balances humor with high octane action.

‘The God of High School,’: An instant hit


Burn the Witch (Manga/Movie)

The most expected manga for me was Tite Kubo’s Burn the Witch. The series also released a movie of the same name. Both cover the same material, but I preferred the anime. We’re introduced to the principal characters, “Noel and Ninny, the world of Reverse London, and it all ends with a battle with an ancient dragon, Cinderella.” With the addition of music, sound effects, and explosions, Burn the Witch is a unique experience when animated.

Burn the Witch Episode 1–3: Recap and Review


Kimetsu no Yaiba : The Movie – Mugen Train

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie–Mugen Train is the first film from the Demon Slayer series. A direct sequel from the anime series, the film retells the Mugen Train arc. Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke join the Flame Hashira, Kyojuro Rengoku in investigating disappearances on the Infinity Train. The movie centers on the themes of humanity and accepting death. Once again, Tanjiro emotional intelligence stands out.

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie–Mugen Train Review


Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep

I can’t wait for the Made in Abyss series returns. In the meantime, Abyss has produced three movies. The first two were recap movies, with Dawn of the Deep telling the Ido Front Arc. Made in Abyss continues to flush out the harsh universe, as Nanachi, Reg, and Riko head down towards the center of the Abyss. Like the Demon Slayer movie, using a film to tell an arc is proving to be a wonderful decision.

Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul, Recap and Review


Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro follows Kaiman, a man with a lizard head, as he tries to find the one magic user that cursed him. Kaiman also has amnesia, making his search even more difficult. Dorohedoro is an odd series with a strange world. Each character has unique designs and powers to match. Dorohedoro is a stylised violent series with a intriguing mystery at its center.

Dorohedoro Episode 1 Recap & Review


Haikyuu!! To the Top

I wasn’t into anime sports series until Yuri on Ice. I was so impressed with the series I wanted to give another popular sports anime a chance. Haikyuu!! To the Top is the fourth season of the volleyball anime. It separates Hinata and rival Kageyama as they develop apart. Hinata learns more about volleyball without playing and Kageyama sharpens his skills with Japans best. Once reunited, Hinata, Kageyama and the rest of Karasuno battle in the Spring Tournament.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 1: Recap and Review

Pokemon Twilight Wings: Episode 7 Recap and Review

Leon and John at the Stadium in episode 7 of Pokemon Twilight Wings
Leon and John at the Stadium

The final episode of Pokemon Twilight Wings, Sky, opens in the hospital where it all began. Leon’s Championship match has arrived and because of John’s letter, all the kids from the hospital get to attend. On his way to the Stadium, John sees Leon lost on a mountain top. He asks the driver to stop. Elsewhere, the children are excited, however, Chairman Rose has no idea where Leon is. Meanwhile, Leon asks for a ride, with the winds being so powerful the driver tells Leon to ride Armorgaw without the taxi. 

Leon agrees and takes John along. As they fly, Leon convinces Armorgaw to fly faster. They finally arrive and Chairman Rose begins the show. Leon tells John that they will battle the next time they meet. Leon battles against Raihan, the Hammerlocke Dragon-type Gym leader. John cries as he witnesses an epic battle between the two. Raihan uses his Goodra, against Leon’s Aegislash. However, uses Surf but it doesn’t seem to do anything. Next up is Flygon verses Dragapult, which uses its signature Dragon Darts move. Dragapult’s is defeated by Raihan’s Duraludon. This sets up a final clash between, Gigantamax Duraludon and Charizard. 

The episode ends abruptly, however, it was the perfect conclusion for the limited series. While Pokemon Twilight Wings was never about Pokemon battle specifically, I’m glad it closed out with a brief but exciting battle. The ability for Pokemon to be more focused on a narrative that felt real, made me hope that future games might feature this level of attention to the story. Pokemon games have made strides in gameplay, but I never pay attention to the story that feels unimportant. Regardless, Pokemon Twilight Wings is an amazing animated series, that proves no matter the length and focuses of a Pokemon series, it can still be entertaining. 

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 6


Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 6

There’s a dark side to Pokemon. It illuminated through the Pokedex entries of many Pokemon. This particular dark element is best illustrated in the descriptions of the Ghost Pokemon. The Pokemon Cofagrigus entry reads in part that “People who approach Cofagrigus are swallowed and turned into mummies.” The Pokemon Lampent according to the Pokedex, uses spirits to “fuel its baleful fire.” It waits for hospital patients to die. 

Banette use to be a doll that came to life after being disregarded, it seeks the child that abandoned it. Even more shocking is Yamask, who’s mask is created from the “face of a human.” Ghost Pokemon take center stage in this sweet but spooky episode. Pokemon: Twilight Wings episode 6, Moonlight, centers around Allister. The very young Ghost-type Gym leader from Stow-on-Side, Allister hides his face behind a mask. This episode returns to the story of John and Tommy. 

After a falling out over their dreams of becoming Pokemon trainers, Tommy is hoping that he can make amends. He asks Allister for tickets to see Leon. However, Allister suggests apologizing in person. Together they sneak into the hospital, were Tommy apologizes. Meanwhile, Leon is finally given John’s letter by Chairman Rose. With one episode remaining Pokemon: Twilight Wings continues to tell touching stories. 


Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 5: Recap and Review

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 5: Recap and Review

Oleana surronded by employees in episode 5 of Pokemon: Twilight Wings
Oleana surronded by employees

After a delay due to COVID-19, Pokemon: Twilight Wings returns with “Assistant.” The fifth episode of the limited series follows Oleana. A secretary for Chairman Rose, as well as his companies, Macro Cosmos, vice-president. As a researcher, she invented the Dynamax Band. Oleana has been a recurring character in the Pokemon: Twilight Wing series, this time she takes center stage. In the past, Oleana is portrayed as working very hard, which impresses Chairman Rose. 

One thing you will notice is that Oleana’s appearance changes from her younger days as a scientist to today. She originally appears wearing large glasses, somewhat unkempt hair, and a turtle neck sweater. As the vice-president of Macro Cosmos, she has gotten rid of the glasses, wears more high fashion clothing, and high heels. Oleana is constantly endured with questions from employees and expected to solve them. When she finally attempts to take the rest of the day off, Chairman Rose arrives. He offers her a ride back to the office and she accepts. 

Oleana seems stoic but devoted to her job and Chairman Rose. She exhausts herself. Oleana is also devoted to the knowledge of Pokemon, as shown when she corrects the driver’s misunderstanding of Gigantamax vs Dynamax. Anyone that played the Pokemon: Sword and Shield know that Oleana is a villain, in Twilight Wings she is giving more nuance. 


Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 4

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 4

Nessa during the photo shoot
Nessa during the photo shoot

When Nessa was first revealed in a trailer for Pokemon Sword and Shield she became an instant fan favorite. Many fans created beautiful fan art. This latest episode of the Pokemon: Twilight Wings mini series focuses on her. After a defeat, her second loss in a row to Milo, Nessa is sitting in a locker room. Feeling down she sulks. Chairman Rose arrives noting that Nessa’s modeling career is going well. Rose suggests that she needs to choose between one.

The following morning Nessa tells her best friend Sonia what happened. Sonia tells her that it doesn’t matter what Rose thinks, only what she does. At a modeling shoot, Nessa recalls her childhood experience, petting a Feebas. As Nessa takes pictures with various water Pokemon, a school of water Pokemon, lead by Milotic begin to surface. Nessa dives into the water. She tells Sonia what happened with the Milotic.

Nessa rides on the Milotic, as it jumps in and out of the sea. It’s suggested that the Milotic was the Feebas from her childhood. Inspired, Nessa storms into Chairman Rose’s office and tells his assistant she aims to be the “best Gym Leader and the best model.” She heads to the stadium promising to win.

Pokemon: Twilight Wings, Episode 3

Pokemon: Twilight Wings, Episode 3

Image of Hop (left) and Wooloo imitating Charizard, in episode 3 of Pokemon: Twilight Wings
Hop (left) and Wooloo imitating Charizard

The third episode of Pokemon: Twilight Wings, “Buddy” focuses on Hop and his Wooloo. Watching his brother, Leon compete in the League Championship Hop is transfixed. While studying the footage Hop ignores Wooloo. Frustrated, Wooloo leaves. Made insecure by Hop’s constant comparisons with Charizard, Wooloo keeps trying to breathe fire. It comically attempts to fly at one point crashing into the ground. Wooloo rolls into a pin containing other Wooloo. Gym leader Milo. He sends Hop’s Wooloo with the taxi driver back home. While in the back seat, Wooloo begins to cry remembering the close relationship between other Pokemon and their trainers.

Meanwhile, Hop rushes to find Wooloo. Screaming for Wooloo in a meadow he finds him in the taxi. He gives chase, apologizing and promising to reach the League with Wooloo. Pleased, Wooloo jumps into Hop’s arms. The taxi driver gives them a ride home. After the last episode and other Pokemon series, the emotional depth of Wooloo wasn’t surprising. However, It’s rare to see a Pokemon become jealous due to their training making a comparison to another Pokemon. It’s generally a Pokemon that’s in their line that causes insecurities. Once again the sutle expressions on Wooloo tell us everything we need to know about its state of mind. Pokemon: Twilight Wings is well done.

Pokemon: Twilight Wings, Episode 2

Pokemon: Twilight Wings, Episode 2

Bea spars with Machamp i episode 2 of Pokemon Twilight Wing's
Bea spars with Machamp

The second episode of the seven-episode Pokemon Twilight Wing’s miniseries, Training, focuses on the fighting Gym leader Bea. After a humiliating loss to Galar Champion Leon, she heads to the Wild Area to train. Bea is a young girl with grey hair and eyes. She’s an expert in Galar karate and appears to be quiet serious. She arrives in the dusty wild area. Accompanied by her Machop, Machoke, and Machamp she begins her training. First, they battle (off-screen) against a wild Rhydon.

The training consists of exercise, lifting rocks, long-distance running and even sparring with Machamp. Considering the fact that Machamp is a Pokemon capable of “moving mountains with one hand,” watching Bea spar with him was impressive. While resting in a cave, they become trapped. Without her phone (she dropped it) she explores the rest of the cave. Realizing that she’s been selfish, she finally learns to rely on her Pokemon. Together they manage to escape the cave.

Despite the short length of these episodes they manage complete an entire story arc. It’s not really necessary to know Bea’s entire backstory to see how determined she is. Throughout the episode, she changes. While I liked this episode, a small part of me wanted to see more battles. However, I think this series is supposed to focus more on the human characters. The Pokemon themselves feel more realistic. Looking at the emotions on the face Machop was particularly effective. Finally, the animation remains stellar making Pokemon: Twilight Wings a must-watch miniseries.


Pokemon: Twilight Wings Episode 1 Review

Pokemon: Twilight Wings, a short anime series based on Sword and Shield games

Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a seven episode limited animated series. Set in the Galar Region, the short anime series will follow the citizens of Galar. According to the Pokemon Company, the seven episodes will “show in detail the dreams of Galar’s residents, the realities they face, the challenges they must overcome, and the conflicts they must resolve.” Nintendo revealed last week that they will be adding new content to the Sword and Shield games through expansion packs. Coupled with an official anime and this new limited series, suggest that they intend on focusing this region a lot longer. Pokemon: Twilight Wings will feature episodes that run about 5 minutes each.

The first episode, “Letter,” takes place inside a children’s hospital. A boy named John wishes to see his favorite Pokemon Champion, Leon. He writes a letter to Chairman Rose to give to him during his visit. I wonder if the series will return to the characters more than once, but with the time limit I doubt it. I was left wondering if John got what he wanted or if Chairman Rose even read his letter. Despite the length of the episode John was quickly established as a sympathetic character. While his illness wasn’t clear, John’s inability to run was. I felt sorry for him as he struggled to climb the stairs to reach the roof. Japanese animators at Studio Colorido (Penguin Highway) did a great job with the animation. New episodes of Pokemon: Twilight Wings will be released monthly. You can catch the episodes on Pokemon TV or the official Pokemon YouTube Channel.