Come with us and enjoy some of the last bright sparks of 2020’s anime!

A man so dedicated to anime that he got a 20,900 yen (US$199) haircut to look like a Demon Slayer character, our resident otaku reporter, Seiji Nakazawa, is always eager to help confused anime fans find a new (or old) show to pick up. This time of year, when most currently broadcasting series are up to their ninth or even eleventh episode, may seem like an odd time to make a recommendations list; however, this is exactly when most series have either proven themselves to their viewers or petered out on good ideas and animation.

Without further ado, here are the shows Seiji recommends you invest in to take you through the end of 2020!

1. Talentless Nana (Munou na Nana)

This is Seiji’s standout when it comes to interesting anime — while he had some reservations about the character designs and style, the twists and turns in the plot have kept him glued to his seat through every episode. He looks forward to each week it airs, so if you’re in the mood for an entertaining mystery with fantastical elements and an intriguing, multi-faceted lead character, this is definitely worth your time.

2. The Gymnastics Samurai (Taiso Zamurai)

“This one’s a tearjerker,” Seiji warns, “especially if you’re an old dude like me.” He describes it as a story where a washed-up older man finds his stride and makes a big comeback. This series has all the pumped-up determination of a Hollywood movie that celebrates an older male lead — a father, at that — and phenomenal animation from the relatively new studio MAPPA, who also produced Yuri!! On Ice, Kids On the Slope and Dorohedoro.

3. Adachi and Shimura

Now for something completely different! Adachi and Shimura is adorable, feel-good fluff with a yuri tint. Seiji is especially fond of Shimamura, the brunette in the picture above — “She’s so cute, it’s no wonder she causes Adachi’s yuri awakening” he says. Prepare for a truly mind-numbing amount of cuteness in every episode as the two girls grow closer and Shimamura’s approaches to Adachi get bolder.

4. Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina (Majo no Tabitabi)

Seiji likens this road-trip style anime to the ’70s series The Prince of Stars: Le Petit Prince. It’s fantastical, whimsical, and will transport you to a brand new world! Fantasy fans who love deftly-woven escapism should definitely check this one out. Join Elaina, the recently-titled Ashen Witch, on her travels through this gorgeous world and get lost in her peculiar magical adventures!

5. Warlords of Sigrdrifa (Senyoku no Shigurudoriva)

In the world of Warlords of Sigrdrifa, girls specially hand-picked by the Norse god Odin become Valkyries, who are like magical girls if magical girls also piloted personal planes. Valkyries are the only bastion of hope humanity has against the Pillars, unusual alien enemies determined to destroy all in their path.

You might expect Seiji’s focus to be on the Valkyries, but actually, what caused his tears to start flowing were the background characters: all the cannon fodder in the series are regular men, who offer up their lives to ensure the Valkyries can get close enough to the Pillars to destroy them. If he was going to award any series a prize for “Best Disposable Background Characters”, Warlords of Sigrdrifa would take home the gold in seconds. The series also boasts a script from Teppei Nagatsuki, the writer for Re: Zero, so you know you’re in for a gripping watch.

6. IWGP (Ikebukuro West Gate Park)

Ikebukuro West Gate Park, or IGWP for short, started as a series of light novels in 1998. Since then it’s had a live-action drama series adaptation and its own manga, but 2020 marks its first iteration as an anime. The anime is set in the modern-day, with various characters and arcs being adjusted and even removed as part of the change, which has lead to some outcry from fans of both the live-action show and the manga. Seiji, on the other hand, thinks it’s a great adaptation with some thoughtful messages for those living in today’s society.

7. Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Club

While Love Live! has enjoyed huge success throughout its first and second anime adapatations, Seiji would go so far as to say that Nijigasaki Gakuen is the cream of the crop, pick of the litter, the series that stands head-and-shoulders above its predecessors. In this series the girls are solo artists rather than a group act, and struggle with what it really means to work as a “team.”

It still has all the same heartwarming passion and gutsy shonen-manga energy we’ve come to expect of Love Live! as a franchise, so old and new fans of idol anime should definitely take the plunge.

8. The Day I Became God (Kami-sama ni Natta Hi)

Seiji starts out his recommendation here with one sentence: “It’s Jun Maeda.” Those familiar with Kanon, Little Busters! and Clannad will understand this as a promise and also a warning, but for those who aren’t it can count as something of a spoiler. It’s produced by PA Works studio and carries a fragile, delicate beauty much like Charlotte, which was also written by Maeda. Definitely watch at least until episode 9, and make sure you have some tissues on hand.

Seiji admits that his list this year is full of anime that brought him, personally, to tears. The only two that didn’t are Talentless Nana and Adachi and Shimamura! To be fair, though, Seiji is prone to getting weepy whenever anime characters do anything remotely cool, so keep that in mind.

This list doesn’t include mainstays like the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gyou anime and Jujutsu Kaisen, partially because Seiji hasn’t hit a real “wow!” moment within them as he has in this list, and also because he’s sure plenty of people will tune into those shows even without his recommendation. If you’re looking for a new show to try out, give one of these a whirl and let us know what you thought in the comments!

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