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With each coming season of anime, I find it harder and harder to decide which new series premise I am most interested in, often the descriptions don’t do justice to the anime’s and fail to entice me to press play; I never know where to look to get a headstart on each new series, so with the coming two-part guide I will hopefully help you navigate the anime waters of 2020.

All of the anime in this guide have been watched in the original Japanese with subtitles so I am unable to comment on the English dubs for each show if they are available. As a personal rule, I have watched at least the first two episodes of each series to get a solid idea of each series direction but in many cases, I have watched more than that as you will see.  

In Part 2 of the guide below you will find my picks from where you will find a life or death phone app, a girl who does not want to get hurt, a murderer detective, a dragon obsessed sorcerer and a group of people who live to count.


Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defence

Released Date: 08/01/2020
Current Episode Available: 5
Available on: Animelab

When starting to arrange the list of anime for this upcoming article, Bofuri among my selections. Having seen some shorts from the show I was not too drawn in and the ongoing VRPG anime trope was beginning to grow thin for me. But yet here we are and honestly, I am glad that this show ended up on this list.

The show’s premise sounds simple enough, a Japanese high school student tries out her first virtual reality role-playing game, New World Online. Being scared of getting hurt in the game she chooses to place all of her stats into defense, and I mean ALL of them. On my initial viewing, I was finding it hard to see how interesting this premise could be, could watching a character with such a focus on defense be fun? At first, my pessimistic outlook seemed to find a basis in the opening scenes but Bofuri quickly won me over not only with some truly laugh out loud comedic moments but also truly capitalising on the video game setting.

Through this focus on defense, Maple begins to find ways to defeat enemies with her defensive choices as well as finding truly game-breaking mechanics that make her character near unstoppable even against other players. Not only was this an interesting development but the game’s developers also making in-game changes to some of the exploits Maple has found in the game, is a true reflection of modern online games.

In the 3 episodes that are currently available Bofuri does a fantastic job at not only building its supporting class of characters but also growing the world of New World Online to show a depth that is often missing from the settings of VRPG based animes. If you enjoyed Sword Art Online or even the Rising of Shield Hero then Bofuri is an obvious choice for your anime queue. 


Darwin’s Game

Released Date: 03/01/2020
Current Episodes Available:
Available on:

A high school student finds himself hurled into a world of high stakes when a mysterious phone app called Darwin’s Game is installed on his phone.

When reading through the upcoming releases for the winter period, Darwin’s Game was not too high up on my list and once more when seeing the 47 minutes run time of the opening episode I believed I was going to waive my 2 episode minimum for reviewing each series. That same night I ended up watching all available episodes of the show and immediately adding the series to my queue.

Darwin’s Game is an app that sets you in real life encounters against other players with these encounters not ending until one player has either surrendered or dies. Players of Darwin’s Game are all given unique abilities called sigils that can range from Invisibility to being able to control plants. The show centres on Sudou Kaname who is thrown into this violent world after the mysterious disappearance of a friend. Sudou is learning to survive with this new perspective on the real world, forging friendships in unlikely places and striving to find his sigil.

As with all animes, Sudou’s sigil is unique and results in making himself the target of players across the game. Darwin’s Game takes advantage of the longer running first episode to truly establish the world and the cast of rogues that survive and succeed with this life. Darwin’s Game has quickly become one of my favourite animes of the season and I am looking forward to seeing the range of sigils that will be featured in the show.    


ID: Invaded

Released Date: 05/01/2020
Current Episodes Available: 6
Available on: Animelab

ID: Invaded is one of those animes that needs you to be at 100% to watch and I realised this pretty quickly when I started this towards the end of a several hour anime binge. With this realisation, I promptly paused the episode and went to bed and came back the next day to give it my full attention.

In the world of ID: Invaded there is a specialised detective organisation that can track down serial killers through devices that find their ‘intent to kill’. Once this intent to kill is found a virtual world can be created that will provide clues to any agent that descends into it, otherwise known as a ID-Well. While in the Well, the renowned detective’s (Narihisago) avatar Sakaido can explore the killer’s subconscious for clues and information that is vital to stopping them.

Admittedly, even on a full night’s sleep I was lost in the complexity of the show and was struggling to understand some of the finer points presented in the detective series. This may be intended by the creator to grow mystery in each episode and to make the impact of the reveals larger, or I could just be slow on the uptake. While this show was heavy on content and information in the opening episodes, there was potential for a compelling story hidden amongst the contrasting CGI world of the ID-Well. Narihisago/Sakaido quickly becomes an interesting and likeable character, after it is revealed early on that you need to be a killer yourself to enter the Well it quickly adds questions and depth to the past of the character making me eager to find out more.

Despite the strength of the leading character, the supporting cast mostly falls by the wayside and so far has not been given the time to grow. While the show does require the viewer’s full attention it is easily repaid with the stunning visuals of the ID: Well which contrast well with the traditional anime style of the real world. ID: Invaded does well to make viewers return for the next episode with narrative choices fitting for a crime series and even though I am hesitant to add this show to my weekly rotation, I will be returning to it when I have the time to dedicate to it and give it the attention it deserves. 


Sorcerous Stabber Orphen

Released Date: 07/01/2020
Current Episodes Available: 5
Available on: Animelab

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen is a reimagining of the beloved Orphen series that was initially released in 1999. Did I know this prior to press play? No. Does it change how much I enjoyed the opening episodes? No.

The series follows the former promising sorcerer of the Tower of Fangs, Orphen as he continues his life away from his former order after a freak accident that turned his sister Azalie into a dragon. Sorcerous Stabber Orphen picks up years after Orphen’s departure from the Tower of Fangs and has turned to a life of money lending and debt collection. But Orphen could only run from his past for so long as his path crosses with the dragon form of Azalie while trying to scam money from a wealthy family.

Orphen is not your traditional ignorant lead character, his understanding of the situation that Azalie is in and the unfaltering determination to save her leads Orphen to both working with and against his former companions at the Tower of Fangs. But from here the opening episodes subvert expectations by making some interesting decisions with several of its characters. I am unfamiliar with the original anime but I am excited to check out the original once this series is completed to find out if this is a direct remaster or more of a reimagining for the series.

The narrative of the story has already stepped away from traditional Anime tropes enough to keep me on board for the coming season. The magic of Sorcerous Stabber Orphen also brings an artistic style to the show that would be at home within the realm of King Arthur and Merlin which I have not seen in recent anime series outside of the VRPG genre which grants more room for Sorcerous Stabber Orphen to stand on its own two feet in the winter anime period of 2020.



Released Date: 08/01/2020
Current Episodes Available: 5
Available on: Animelab

Plunderer may be the most unique idea of any of the anime I have watched for this guide. Imagine a world where your life revolves around counting something. It could be the amount of times someone has said you look good, the amount of miles you have walked or even the amount of times you have been rejected by a potential romantic partner as is the case for one of the lead characters. This count is branded on your body magically and can go up or down based on the rules of your count, if someone’s count reaches 0 they are dragged into a dark abyss, there are many other rules to the count but that is enough to get a foundation.

Plunderer centre’s on Hina who has been tasked by her mother in her dying moments to find a legendary ace, a war hero from 300 years ago that was told to have supernatural powers. Through Hina’s journey, the audience is introduced to a range of characters with their own counts, learning more about how people deal with lives that revolve around the count.

Hina soon meets the Legendary Ace, the Red Baron, also known as Licht but he does not live up to her expectations. The opening episodes of Plunderer do a fantastic job at setting up the world and the rules that its people live by. In the opening three episodes we meet a range of characters from different walks of life, the 3rd episode even heavily steps away from Hina’s story to bring in several new characters on the military side of the narrative, this may feel like filler at points but it does a great job at humanising the military that has been shown in a poor light early in the series and expands the world once more.

Plunderer is honestly my pick of the anime winter 2020 season. If you only have limited space for a new anime series I would highly recommend that you dive straight into the unique world of Plunderer

If you have missed the first part of this guide, please check it out HERE for more Winter anime previews.