Every three months brings about a new anime season in Japan, and with it, around 40-plus new shows. And thanks to streaming services like Crunchyroll and Funimation, most of these new series are available to stream internationally within 24 hours of an episode airing on Japanese TV. Given the number of new shows, even in normal times, it can be hard to figure out which series you might be interested in checking out.
The 2020 fall anime season presents a unique situation, as earlier delays in productions due to COVID-19 led a number of big shows that were slated to run during the summer to reschedule to air in the fall. Other major productions that were already scheduled for the fall managed to avoid production delays and are rolling out as scheduled. The next few months are so jam-packed with big-name shows that this fall could go down as the best cour in history.
So in order to help you decide on what you might want to watch I’ve highlighted eight of the most interesting shows. We’ll continue to update this post as availability and streaming info is announced.
An original series and joint production between animation studio Pierrot (Naruto, Bleach, Tokyo Ghoul) and video game studio Too Kyo Games, Akudama Drive is set in a peculiar and highly developed country where the decline in political power and policing has led to a rise in areas full of criminals called Akudama. The Akudama strive to live their lives true to themselves, and as they start gathering in the same place their aesthetics come into conflict.
The partnership between Pierrot and Too Kyo Games has produced an interesting mashup of a scenario written by Kazutaka Kodaka (the Danganronpa series), original character designs by Rui Komatsuzaki (the Danganronpa series), and director Tomohisa Taguchi who directed 2017’s Kino’s Journey and two of the four Persona 3 movies. Whether the series will be good remains to be seen, but given the people involved and the look of the world in the trailer, it’s certainly going to be pretty wild.
Akudama Drive will stream starting Oct. 8 on Hulu and Funimation.
Golden Kamuy, season 3
Saichi Sugimoto, a former soldier during the Russo-Japanese War, finds himself panning for gold in Hokkaido when he learns of a trove of gold hidden somewhere on the island. The treasure once belonged to the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, but was stolen by a single man and hidden. He was arrested, but rather than telling anyone where the treasure was he tattooed a code on the skin of 24 other prisoners who managed to escape. Teaming up with a young Ainu girl Asirpa looking to avenge her father who was murdered by the thief when he stole the gold, they try and find all the prisoners or collect their skins before the other groups looking for the treasure (including the thief’s co-conspirators, and a rogue Japanese army battalion) get them first.
Although fairly serious sounding Golden Kamuy’s tone is actually closer to that of a Coen Brothers movie (more Fargo/The Big Lebowski than No Country for Old Men) as there are very serious things going on, but there is often a silliness to it that comes from just appreciating how weird people can be. One moment you’ll have a gruesome fight scene, then by a chill cooking scene where they are childishly joking about poop, followed by a moment learning about Ainu culture. It manages to find a balance between these disparate tones from scene to scene as though it were perfectly natural. With only 24 episodes so far it’s easy to and worth catching up on before the new season starts.
Haikyuu!! To The Top 2
What makes Haikyu a beloved series is that it is not really about volleyball, it’s about how volleyball can explore the lives of and connections between the players. Each match is an opportunity to learn about new characters joining the Karasuno High School volleyball team, what motivates the players, and how their skills and differences challenge them all, pushing them to grow as players and as people.
This second half of the series’ fourth season returns as Karasuno has just survived the first day of the national tournament. Unfortunately now finding themselves against one of the favorites to win the whole thing, Inarizaki High School, led by high school All Japan level setter Atsumu Miya and his identical twin brother Osamu Miya. In particular this match with Inarizaki has great moments built around Kageyama and Atsumo who are equally skilled as setters, but in different ways with completely conflicting philosophies. It’s a particularly thrilling match on the comic page, and should be even more so animated.
Haikyu!! To The Top will stream starting Oct. 3 on Crunchyroll.
Hypnosis Mic: Division Rap Battle - Rhyme Anima
Hypnosis Mic (aka HypMic) is a fascinating multimedia property about a world where all weapons have been destroyed, and rap groups from different parts of Tokyo battle each other over territory and fans. The idea started in 2017 as rap groups turned battles into albums, and fans voted on which group won. The songs are performed by the voice actors for each of the characters, and are often written by Japanese hip-hop artists and producers. From there it expanded into a number of manga about the different groups, stage plays, tours, and a mobile game.
The anime series is being made by A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Persona 5 the Animation, Kaguya-sama: Love is War) with Katsumi Ono directing. Ono directed most of the Symphogear anime serieses which are known for mixing vocal musical performances into the action set pieces. And so it’ll be interesting to see if he brings any of that to how they animate the HypMic’s rap battles.
Hypnosis Mic: Division Rap Battle - Rhyme Anima will stream starting Oct. 2 on Funimation.
The series follows Itadori Yuji, who is fairly normal as high school kisd go, except he is extremely athletic. So much so that he doesn’t want to participate in sports. One day his classmates unwittingly unseal a finger that draws malevolent spirits called Curses to their school. Unable to fight off the curses, Yuji consumes the finger in an attempt to draw them away, but instead becomes the vessel for the powerful Curse the finger belonged to. He’s then captured by a group of sorcerers who fight Curses and propose, since Yuji doesn’t lose control of his body to the curse, that they have him consume the Curse’s other fingers in order to rid the world of powerful Curses once and for all. The plan also involves killing him.
The anime for Jujutsu Kaisen is adapted from a manga series that runs in Weekly Shonen Jump alongside series like One Piece, My Hero Academia, and Demon Slayer. And it seems like there are some high expectations for the series especially with the pretty impressive team working on it. MAPPA (Dorohedoro, Zombie Land Saga, Yuri on Ice) is animating the series, with Sung Hoo Park (God of High School) directing, and series composition by Hiroshi Seko (Mob Psycho 100, Dorohedoro, Vinland Saga). It all seems like an ideal combination for gritty horror-action series.
Jujutsu Kaisen will stream starting Oct. 2 on Crunchyroll.
Osomatsu-san, season 3
The closest thing I can compare Osomatsu-san to is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s a show about laughing at terrible people who fail to achieve anything because they are too busy being horrible to each other. Although instead of Always Sunny’s gang it’s six adult identitical sextuplat brothers who live at home with their parents, have no jobs, or education, and spend most of their money gambling or drinking. Throw in cartoon logic, absurd humor, ridiculous and sometimes surreal animation from animation studio Pierrot (Naruto, Bleach, Tokyo Ghoul), and you get this very strange and hilariously self-aware series.
Osomatsu-san will stream in October; earlier seasons are available on Crunchyroll.
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
In the midst of a forest fire young half-demon Towa gets separated from her twin sister Setsuna, and while searching for her stumbles into a tunnel that takes her from feudal Japan to present day Tokyo. Ten years later, Towa now in high school, the tunnel reopens and the sisters are reunited, but Setsuna no longer remembers Towa at all. Joined by their cousin Moroha, the three girls go on an adventure between the two eras to try and recover Setsuna’s memory.
Yashahime is a sequel, although maybe more of a spin-off, to the Inuyasha anime series of the ‘00s. Although the original was adapted from a manga by the legendary Rumiko Takahashi, Yashahime is written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, who wrote the anime adaptation of Inuyasha as well as wrote Gundam Wing. The series is also being handled by other staff that worked on the original series and the same animation studio Sunrise (every Gundam series, Code Geass). While she’s not writing it, Takahashi was involved in designing the new characters.
Unrelated to the original series I think even on their own the story and characters sound interesting. My hope is that even if you aren’t familiar with the original it seems that they take an approach to this series similar to the one used by Boruto, the sequel to Naruto about Naruto’s kids. By it telling a story that can stand on its own, that just so happens to focus on the next generation of characters. Where having knowledge of the original provides better context, but isn’t required.