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

The God of High School Episode 13: Recap and Review

Jin Mori in his Monkey King form in episode 13 of The God of High School
Jin Mori in his Monkey King form

Episode 13 – ‘God/God’

In the final episode of the first season of The God of High School, Jegal becomes a God. His only opposition is Jin Mori, Han Daewi, and Yu Mira. Jegal attacks Mira first, tossing her into Daewi. The two put up a valiant effort, but ultimately they fail. This episode was always going to be a showdown between Jin and Jegal. Angered by the attack on his friends, Daewi, Mira, Ilpyo, Seungah, and her sister, Jin erupts. He uses pressure points. However, it’s not enough. Jegal still has the use of his Charyeok and uses an energy spear to try to kill Jin. Daewi takes the hit, triggering Jin’s ascension to God’s status. I had always assumed that Jin would receive a Charyeok like everyone else. It turns out that he’s a God, the Monkey King. 

Journey to the West has inspired anime for decades, most notably the Dragon Ball series. Unlike most series, Jin is directly inspired by Sun Wukong. He makes use of the Nyoibo, changing the size and shape while swinging it with good effect. Jin dominates Jegal, delivering a devastating lighting strike. Jegal morphs into a grotesque monster, attacking Mira, Daewi, and Jin. Ilpyo joins them. Activating their Charyeok, Mira, Daewi, and Ilpyo join with Jin for a group assault. Jegal disappears, leaving a shard of the key behind. Our trio gets their wish. Jin wishes to restore the physical bodies of the fighters. The rest of the episode sets up the next season. Jin, Daewi, and Mira will head to Seiten Taisei’s homeland to get his memories back. 

What will Jin face next?

Ilpyo is the guardian of the key and must travel the world to collect all the pieces. Finally, Jin’s “grandfather” is still trapped by the Nox. The episode ends with him wishing Jin luck against the Gods, fate, and himself. It’s unclear what that means, but I think that Jin’s grandfather will become the final villain. The God of High School joins Tower of God as a manwha adapted series that made an impact this year. The God of High School did have its issues. To many of the details have been left out of this season. Why are “the Six” so powerful and who are they? Why was the United States involved? How does the Charyeok system work? There were also pacing issues. Many episodes had too much going on at once, which made it confusing. Regardless, The God of High School was a good anime series, and I look forward to the next season. 

The God of High School Episode 12: Recap and Review

The God of High School Episode 12: Recap and Review

Jegal Taek rises to God status in the God of High School episode 12.
Jegal Taek rises to God status

Episode 12 – Fox/God

Sang Mandeok summons a God to destroy the world. Park Mujin calls off the God of High School tournament. Fearing that things are getting out of hand, the US government fires nuclear weapons towards Seoul. It’s an act that disregards the innocent lives that will be lost. Jegal Taek and Park Ilpyo continue their fight, Jegal consumes Ilpyo releasing the key. With the appearance of the most sought after “key,” things devolve into chaos. The Six, the servants of God, and Jin Mori all scramble for the key. Jin ends up the victor. Park Mujin teleports all the “children” to a safe place. Ilpyo gives Jin the “key,” telling him to protect it from Jegal. 

Jegal arrives at the location Park Mujin teleported Jin and the others. He asks for the location of the key, but Daewi and Mira refuse to help him. He decides to kill them. Daewi and Mira activate their respective Charyeok. Off-screen, Jegal defeats Mira and Daewi. Jin and Jegal fight. Meanwhile, Jeon Jaesan of The Six teleports all the citizens of Seoul away from danger. Seeking revenge for his grandson, Jeon uses his “alchemy” to destroy the nuclear weapons, changing them into a statue. He also summons what looks like a meteor, causing an explosion. Jin and the others are teleported back to Seoul where they see the dead God. Taek gets the key from Jin and consumes it. He then is reborn, growing from an infant, then sprouts angel wings, and finally ascends to a godly form.

The God of High School leave a lot out

Jegal Taek gets some backstory in episode 12 of The God of High School. Taek is purchased by a rich old man, although it’s not clear if they are related. Raised with the binary view of “winners and losers.” It’s been unclear exactly how the key can be used which is confusing. Park Ilpyo was supposed to be the key, instead, he possessed the key. The God of High School has failed to give the audience important information. Who are the Six? What are their powers? Who is Sang Mandeok, the Nox, and why do they worship this God? Another issue is the constant jumping back between fights can be distracting. Sometimes it works, as it did in episode 10, but it’s the biggest issue this series has. Overall, I love The God of High School but trying to cram too many chapters into 13 episodes was a bad idea. 

The God of High School Episode 11: Recap and Review

The God of High School Episode 11: Recap and Review

Park Ilpyo using his Nine-Tails Charyeok in episode 11 of The God of High School
Park Ilpyo using his Nine-Tails Charyeok

The God of High School episode 11 opens by telling the story of the Nine-Tails. The fox spirit lived in heaven during ancient times, attaining power after a thousand years of training. The Nine-Tails became the guarding of God, however, his power eventually caused God to fear him. So God orders the fox’s execution. Outraged, the Nine-Tails used its power to destroy half of heaven, then retreated to Earth, vowing to seek vengeance. Ilpyo and Jin continue their fight. With his new powers, Ilpyo has become swift and powerful. He beings to overwhelm Jin but seem to be in pain from the transformation. 

During the bout, Jin realizes that Charyeok isn’t about “borrowing someone else’s power,” as you’re still fighting with your “mind and body.” Ilpyo conjurers multiple fire foxes and attacks. Jin appears to summon his Charyeok, a thunder wielding God of some sort. It’s not clear who it is or whether it’s a Charyeok. Regardless, Jin defeats Ilpyo with a whirlwind. The God of High School continues to surprise or does it? I didn’t expect Park Ilpyo to become the “Key” (although this episode suggests that he may not be), but once his Nine-Tail Charyeok was revealed, I thought he would win the fight. 

Elsewhere, Park Mujin assumes that Mandeok is still planning something. This “something” is Jeon Jugok. He becomes a demonic like being that consumes others increasing his powers. Ilpyo attacks Jeon, hoping to save, Seungah and Ryu Hyeonbok. Jegal interferes, claiming that he will not allow Jeon to take his “prey (Ilpyo).” In the process of defeating Jeon, Jegal costs Seungah her leg and Ryu his arm. Ilpyo is horrified and becomes enraged. He releases his Charyeok and knocks Jegal out of the window. Meanwhile, Park Mujin declares “The God of High School is over.”

The God of High School Episode 10: Recap and Review

The God of High School Episode 10: Recap and Review

image of Ilpyo is the "Key"
Ilpyo is the “Key”

Episode 10 – Oath/Meaning

The God of High School episode 10 reveals who the “key” is. If you’re like me then you assumed who that person was likely to be and would have been wrong. Park Mujin and the Nox organization have been seeking this key for most of the series. The key is supposed to have the “power to challenge God,” so Park wants to use it and Nox wants to destroy it. Most of us assumed that Jin Mori, the main protagonist, was the key because of his power and our general assumptions about the main characters. For the key to be someone else was a surprise but a pleasant one. Park Ilpyo is the “key,” a noble fighter that was inspired by Mori’s grandfather. We discover that Ilpyo wants to use his wish to heal his cousin that was left paralyzed by Jegal. 

In flashbacks, we see that Jin’s grandfather, Jin Taejin, told Ilpyo to teach Mori a couple of things. He does just that when he and Jin fight in the semifinals. He starts off taunting Jin, critiquing his fighting style, and besting him in close combat. Mori overcomes each of these limits by using the techniques of Mira and Daewi. Just when you think that Jin is going to get the comeback victory (in most series he would), it’s his apparent defeat that triggers his ascension to the Key. The God of High School is turning out to be more than I expected. The animation in the episode, specifically during the fight between Jin and Ilpyo was well done. You could see all the movements and they didn’t feel rushed. 

How will Ilpyo handle being hunted

While all this was happening when saw battles between Nox’s Sang Mandoek and Park Mujin, saw the skills of The Six member Seo Hallyang (accompanied by music), and witness “God” fall through a gate in the sky. All this was visually stunning while being action-packed. The drumming from Hallyang’s Taiko drum corp added to the atmosphere. A thorough explanation of the powers in this series is still desired but The God of High School certainly features creative abilities. I often criticize this series for being too fast-paced but The God of High School episode 10, proved that they could balance many things at once. Making Ilpyo the Key was an unexpected outcome, I wonder how he will fare now that he’s become everyone’s target. 

The God of High School Episode 9: Recap and Review