Most Promising Anime of the Winter 2020 Season

Graphic featuring Darwin’s Game, Magia Record and RikeKoi

It’s now January 2020, and to my shame I haven’t posted anything here since August last year. Time to change that as the Winter 2020 anime season is now in full swing, and while I find it a bit lacking compared to the last few seasons, there are still some fantastic shows you should be watching.

First up, we have Darwin’s Game. This series follows a high school student named Kaname Sudou who suddenly finds himself involved with a mobile app called Darwin’s Game, which proves to be especially dangerous when he realises there’s no way to quit the game. The concept is similar to other death game series like Battle Royale, Btooom! and King’s Game, and if you’ve seen more than one of those already, you’ll know the formula can turn out either perfectly, disastrously or somewhere in between.

So far, Darwin’s Game has been fun and the team behind it is great at building suspense. The characters are likeable and it hasn’t devolved into the oversexualised mess of a certain other death game show that I’ve already named. There’s still potential for everything to go downhill, but I like what I’ve seen so far and have faith in it.

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What’s Wrong with Arifureta?

Hajime, the protagonist of Arifureta

Readers of isekai light novels have been hyping up Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest for several months, and there was considerable excitement for its anime adaptation airing this season. That was, of course, until the first episode aired.

The Arifureta light novels have a score of 8.03 on MAL, which is reasonably high, and the manga isn’t far behind at 7.74. The anime also started off with a similar score, but it went downhill soon after the series started airing.

Most of the reviews are also negative, and it has received critical coverage from several prominent YouTubers in the anime community. General consensus is, it has become the dumpster fire of the Summer 2019 anime season. But what went wrong?

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First Impressions of the Summer 2019 Anime Season

A collage of anime airing this season (Arifureta, Dumbbell , Cop Craft, Fire Force)

Introduction

We’re now two weeks into the Summer 2019 anime season, and I have seen enough to say it has one of the best lineups of the last few years. We have a few long anticipated manga adaptations as well as some original series from a large variety of genres, and I’m watching nine currently airing shows.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest

The elephant in the room that I should address first is Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. This is an isekai light novel adaptation and is probably the biggest disappointment of the season. The source material has a cult following, so I was rather excited to see how the anime would play out, but I’m afraid the first episode was a bizarre, poorly directed, confusing mess.

Arifureta‘s anime adaptation begins in the other world, unlike the manga and light novel, and the show utterly fails to explain how the protagonist ended up in his situation. The show constantly uses flashbacks in poor attempts to explain what’s happening, and the CGI animation actually made me laugh out loud.

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