Here are our Japanese-language reporter Seiji’s top picks for the hottest new stars of the upcoming anime season!

The thing about the anime industry is that you can never quite predict the next smash hit. 2017 saw an extreme come-behind success in the form of Kemono Friends, a fun romp through a safari of anthropomorphic animal girls produced on a shoestring budget. 2018 had Yuru CampΔ (Laidback Camp), a heartwarming show where cute girls went camping. And 2019 had…that anime where the protagonist’s mom comforted passersby on the streets of Tokyo?

Our own Japanese-language reporter Seiji is well-known for his passion for animation, and now that the end-of-year festivities are over it’s time to look ahead to the future. 2020 has an exciting spread of established series for dedicated otaku, as Haikyuu!! To The Top will continue the sports journey of volleyball hopeful Shoyo Hinata, and the aforementioned Yuru CampΔ has a sequel on the way too.

Seiji is excited for those shows, of course. But the true excitement lies in new, never-seen-before anime! That explosion of discussion and ardent new fans is impossible to predict. As such, our favorite Otaku Aniki has compiled a list of brand new anime which he thinks are the most likely to make a big splash in 2020. Take it away, Seiji!

1. Eizouken ni wa Te o Dasu na! (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!)

▼ Three girls try to make an anime, and chaos ensues.

“First up is Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, which feels prepped to become an instant fave. Its director, Masaaki Yuasa, is a highly praised director not just in Japan but worldwide due to his work on the American cartoon Adventure Time.”

“You can sense the high-octane pacing and artistic flair that defines Masaaki Yuasa’s work just from watching the trailer. The images themselves are fantastic! Just like you’d expect from his works, watching the trailer is exciting enough to make your heart leap. The trailer makes it look like they’re putting those resources from the NHK to good use.”

2. Dorohedoro

▼ Smoke-powered sorcerers, a post-apocalyptic setting, and an amnesiac lizard-headed protagonist!

“Next up is a similarly safe bet, Dorohedoro. The story involves a man whose head has been magically transformed into that of a reptile, and follows his journey to regain his true face and memories. Its animation will be key when it comes to conveying the solemn world from the original manga, but as MAPPA (studio behind Sarazanmai and Yuri!! On Ice) are handling that side of things we should be able to rest easy.”

“[MAPPA] did good work in expressing the gravity of Dororo‘s world, and the wild lunacy of Kakegurui came out great, too. The harsh mood in the trailer reminded me very strongly of Akira. And overseas fans seem pretty excited for this one, too!”

3. Koisuru Asteroid

▼ Star-struck heroine Mira promises to find a planet named after Ao, whom she met as a child.

“Ugh, everyday life is tough enough! I don’t wanna watch grueling things in my anime, too!’ There’s an oasis for people like this: the Kirara-kei genre, or slice-of-life. Kirara-kei anime are populated with cute, chattering, giggling girls, and this season’s offering is Koisuru Asteroid.”

“Production will be handled by Doga Kobo, the masters of cuteness, and the show will be directed by Daisuke Hiramaki, who drew all manner of adorable girls in Wataten!: An Angel Flew Down to Me. A perfect match for any Kirara-kei cravers! Can it hold a candle to Yuru Camp△?”

4. Muranase! Seton Gakuen (Form a Pack! Seton Academy)

▼ A human boy. The human girl he has a crush on. And their…pack of animal companions?

“Between Kemono Friends and Beastars, furries (people who love anthropomorphic animal characters) are going through a real surge in popularity for some reason. 2019 even brought us Hataage!: Kemono Michi! And in the coming season we’ll have more furry fanservice in the form of Muranase! Seton Gakuen.”

“They announce things like “war” and “a battle with everyone’s lives on the line” in the trailer, but they can’t fully hide the show’s true easygoing vibe. Studio Gokumi, who excels at this kind of show, are producing it, so no worries there. Maybe this anime will be a huge success, and draw in a lot of converts!”

5. Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumeishitemita. (Science Fell In Love, So I Tried Proving It)

▼ Hypothesis: These two characters are in love. Now where’s the proof?

“Nothing about the production team behind this one really stood out to me, but I did think the setting for Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumeishitemita was something special.”

“There’s a naive scientist man and a scientist woman, and they decide to date in order to prove the existence of love… Doesn’t the setting alone get your heart racing? Plus, Himuro — the heroine — is really cute. So long as they don’t ruin the mood set by this trailer, this could be a big hit.”

6: ID: Invaded

▼ Twisted dreamscapes and bloody memories abound in this detective series set inside killers’ minds.

“If you can call something a dark horse regardless of whether it’s popular or not, the original anime ID: Invaded makes the cut. You can sense its potential just from looking at its staff lineup. Ei Aoki of Fate/Zero is directing — which might catch your attention. On top of that, the script is written by Otaro Maijo!

Otaro Maijo’s name has been heard all over literary circles since his recent Akutagawa Prize wins. He’s done all manner of work since his beginnings as a manga artist, and now, at last, he’s turned his hand to anime!”

Seiji has read plenty of Maijo’s novels, and is fond of their huge scope and the closed-perspective narrative; according to him, the protagonist in ID: Invaded has a particular “Maijo” flair to his dialogue. While he wouldn’t be surprised if this anime didn’t catch on with the otaku public, it’s the show he’s most interested in out of the current 2020 Winter line-up.

Which of these six shows are you planning to watch? Did Seiji miss any gems you’re especially excited for? And what established series are you dying to catch up with this year? Let us know in the comments! Personally, I’m counting down the seconds to Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! and Dorohedoro, as well as the new Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime!

Top image: YouTube/TOHO animation チャンネル
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[ Read in Japanese ]