I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has hardly been the year we were all expecting! With the pandemic raging on throughout the year resulting in lockdown after lockdown, job losses aplenty, and the tragic loss of many lives, there’s been very little to celebrate this year.
However, during these darkest of time, it’s been more important than ever to find joy in the little things and, despite the overabundance of worry and anxiety that this year has brought, there has been a number of great anime, manga and games released to help take our minds off of the madness and tragedy unfolding all around us.
With that, today on the Otaku Rabbit Hole, we’re here to celebrate the very best that the year 2020 had to offer and send the year out in style! Please keep in mind that this selection is just my personal opinion, and may vary significantly from your own. However, if you’re looking for a few new titles to help ferry you into a (hopefully) more cheery 2021, then please stick around!
From all three categories, this one is probably the most difficult to nail down, especially seeing as 2020 has been jam packed with incredible titles that players have come to love.
However, for me, the game of the year came down to three titles in particular: The true MVP of lockdown – Animal Crossing: New Horizons; the best iteration of a top-tier JRPG – Persona 5 Royal or the stellar, narrative-infused rogue-lite that can rival the best the genre has to offer – Hades.
While all three titles have something truly incredible to offer, and I sank an ungodly amount of time into all three this year, ultimately, my final decision boiled down to the impression each game left on me long-term, and for that reason, I have to give the win to Persona 5 Royal.
Vanilla Persona 5 needs no introduction, as it is one of the most stylish, slick and satisfying JRPGs of all time, with a cohesive art direction and stellar soundtrack that masterfully tie together with a fun and satisfying plot to steal hearts and kill god – you know, just standard JRPG faire!
Despite that, I’ll be the first to admit that vanilla Persona 5 never quite sat well with me, despite being a long-term fan of both the SMT franchise and Persona. However, this all changed this year with Persona 5 Royal. This definitive version of the Phantom Thieves’ story came with a number of small quality-of-life changes that enhanced the already solid experience, while also adding new characters, new personas, new social links and even a whole new semester to enjoy – what a treat!
Ultimately, the release of Persona 5 Royal means there are very few reasons to revisit vanilla Persona 5 with this definitive edition, and with upwards of 100+ hours of content in a single playthrough, you’ll more than be getting your money’s worth with this incredible JRPG that’s my game of the year!
RUNNERS UP: Hades, Animal Crossing: New Horizon
So, this is a difficult one, as I’ll admit that anime has taken a back-seat with me this year, and, I must admit, there’s not been a great deal that’s caught my attention this year by way of anime.
While I’d love to sing the praises of Digimon Adventures (2020), or Burn The Witch, sadly I’ve not got around to watching either of these anime yet.
However, the one anime that successfully caught my attention and didn’t let go was Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story!
Magia Record follows new protagonist Iroha Tamaki as she searches for her missing sister – a sister only she can remember – in Kamihama city, a city where magical girls have begun to congregate.
The series once again amazes visually, employing the off-key visual style that helped cement Madoka Magica’s identity almost a decade ago.
Without venturing into spoiler territory, Magia Record leans fully into the dark magical girl tropes that its predecessor helped to define, and it does so very well.
If you’re interested in hearing my first impressions of the series, then you can check out THIS article. However, let it be known that for fans of magical girls, fantasy and of the original Madoka Magica, you should definitely check out Magia Record – my anime of the year!
RUNNERS UP: Digimon Adventures (2020), Burn The Witch
2020 has been a pretty great year for manga. And why do I say this, I hear you ask? Because I’ve read more manga this year than I would have thought humanly possible!
Whether it was the the action-packed epic that is Jujutsu Taisen or the sweetly touching A Man and His Cat, this year has had its fair share of great manga that people of all tastes could sink their teeth into. However, while the winner has received a few compiled manga prior to 2020, it’s continued to serialise this year, so I’m giving it the win on a technicality, and that winner is Blue Flag.
Sweetly poignant, Blue Flag follows a group of four friends in high school. Taichi is a small guy whose best friend Touma is the star of the baseball team. All the girls love him, and he’s the most popular guy around, something that hits Taichi pretty hard, as he’s not exactly winning any popularity contests himself, especially with the ladies. However, his world starts to change one day when he runs into the adorable and softly spoken Futaba, who confesses that she has a crush on Touma, and Taichi decides he’ll do everything he can to help her in her quest to woo Touma.
I won’t spoil the plot of the manga here, but know that if you’re a fan of romance manga with stunning art, then Blue Flag should be a must buy for you – it’s certainly become a firm favourite of mine! Just remember that the course of true love never did run smooth!
RUNNERS UP: Jujutsu Taisen, Phantom Seer, A Man And His Cat
And with that, we’ve rounded off both another trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, and another year! I hope you guys have a great 2021 and that next year is a far better one than 2020 (shouldn’t be too hard!). Until next time, keep it weeby everyone!
DISCLAIMER: ALL CREDIT FOR THE IMAGES USED IN THIS REVIEW IS GIVEN TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS.