Well, would you look at that! 2020 is more or less over and not a moment too soon! So let me just sit back and recap on all the films, movies and more that I was fortunate enough to enjoy this year. Hopefully you lot will find something worth checking out from my thoughts of what I deemed an “Otaku 2020 Review”.
So I’m just gonna tip toe around the whole pandemic, bush-fire, Carole Baskin crap show that was 2020 and just dive right in to what I managed to do articles of this year.
Must Watch Film:
‘Zombie For Sale’ is the first zom-rom-com to have emerged from Korea and the only one that comes to mind after the 2013 American film – ‘Warm Bodies’. This fantastic addition to the genre, reminds me of the comic style of ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Making it completely rewatchable and enjoyable time and time again. Released from Arrow Video on DVD and BluRay, you can also catch it over on Amazon Prime. Hopefully this film will make it to film festival screenings next year when the pandemic allows.
A special mention has to go to Third Window Films for their release of ‘Melancholic’. Another fantastic film, that follows the midnight executions that go on in a run of the mill Japanese bath house. I still have to write this review up, but its a film well worth mentioning and is available to buy now over on their website. http://thirdwindowfilms.com/distributed-films/
If Asian film and subtitles just aren’t your thing, then don’t fret as ‘Becky’ has you covered. This film puts Kevin James in a role I never would have imagined he’d play. Having just escaped from prison, Kevin plays a Neo-Nazi that is on the hunt for a key he hid in the foundations of a house years ago. How and why he did this, well I have no idea. But I do know – that the action was astounding! With a very resourceful and anger driven teenage girl lurking in the woods, its Kevin’s character that is in the most danger! Definitely a film for the action lover in your life. http://comicbuzz.com/becky-review/
Another film I have enjoyed myself this year is the follow up sequel to 2016’ Train To Busan – Peninsula. Another zombie action flick that held its own against its predecessor and had some superb driving sequences from his youngest co-stars. Although already out on DVD and BluRay from Studio Canal, I hope to catch this film next year in the Japanese Film Festival at my local cinema and I advise you all to do the same if you get the chance.
Check Out This Manga:
It’s the hit anime and manga series of 2020, which although it made its debut in Japan back in 2016. It has since caught the rest of the World by storm in the last 12 months. With the manga series just after ending, if you can’t wait for the final volume to be released – you can always download the Shonen Jump app onto your phone and read all the manga you want for just €1.99 a month! And that includes ALL of the old and latest chapters from Demon Slayer, Dragon Ball, Boruto, Jojo and more!
Another notable manga that I have enjoyed this year, has been The Promised Neverland (also available on the Shonen Jump app!). Which is another series that has since finished, so you can binge it now over on the app.
Notable Anime Releases:
This series certainly caught me by surprise this year, Cop Craft is only a short 12 episode series but was jam packed with action from start to finish. It was a mix between Men In Black meets Lethal Weapon, certainly a show well worth introducing to those skeptical of anime. Definitely one worth mentioning to your co-workers to entice them over to the nerdy side. http://comicbuzz.com/cop-craft-the-complete-series-review/
Next up is the isekai, ‘The Rising of the Shield Hero’ season one. Now this one was quite interesting in the fact that the hero in this show was brought into the world as one of four heroes. However due to only having a shield and no weapon, he was more or less cast to one side with zero help and left to level up on his own. Other mad shit happens along the way, he gathers an unusual party but also manages to do his bit to save people as best he can. I haven’t enjoyed an isekai as much as this, since I watched Log Horizon. Well worth checking out both shows, as they each have a new season coming our way in the new year ! http://comicbuzz.com/the-rising-of-the-shield-hero-review/
Next up is what I would class as a reverse isekai. Where the magical creature instead ventures into the ‘real world’ in search of peace. ‘Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid’ is just full of laughs, and also has an interesting take on the lead character. Although addressed as Miss and is indeed female, the way the character is portrayed you could easily change the genders. She acted much like I would imagine an adult Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran HighSchool Host Club would, so it looks like I have found my anime counterpart once again! There are also talks of a second season coming our way in 2021 for Miss Kobayashi, and there is plenty of manga available now in the franchise from Seven Seas Entertainment to keep us going until then. http://comicbuzz.com/miss-kobayashis-dragon-maid-the-complete-series-review/
Okay I have two more anime releases well worth mentioning. Let’s begin with ‘The Promised Neverland’ from Anime Limited. This anime wasn’t long throwing you into the deep end when it comes to watching it. I got so hooked after Season One ended, that I got the Shonen Jump app and read all of the manga from start to finish. Now I will admit, Season Two next year is going to be very action packed! There is a lot to fit into the storyline, but it is just one of those shows where you can connect with the characters instantly as you both find out the dark truth about their world at the same time. Anime Limited have also done a wonderful job when it came to the packaging and cover arts. http://comicbuzz.com/the-promised-neverland-season-1-review/
Last but certainly not least – we have Season One of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. I haven’t seen an anime with so much hype surrounding it since Season One of Attack on Titan! Once again, this is another show that when I finished watching it, I went and read all of the manga. And it was so satisfying! I could find zero flaw, even in the show. It was just so entertaining and the sword battles were among the best I have seen since Bleach and Claymore. I loved the old time, feudal feel to the show and the various personalities throughout, the hardships they all fought against and Tanjiro’s sheer determination to help his sister Nezuko. Also, Nezuko is my Best Girl this year. All I want now are the figures for them all. Fingers crossed we will also get access to the film shorthly, hopefully via Crunchyroll or Funimation.
Although not an anime, 2020 was the year I finally managed to finish watching Samurai Jack! Thanks to Manga Entertainment UK who released the complete saga on Blu Ray back in December 2019, the fifth and final season ended Jacks’ story that we have all waited for ever since the show ended abruptly back in 2004. This collection is well worth investing in and the story plus animation even holds up to this day – http://comicbuzz.com/samurai-jack-the-complete-series-review/
2020 has definitely been the year I have streamed most of my anime. Fruits Basket Season Two is still my obsession, with Season Two Part One getting a physical release sometime around February 2021. For the last few months though, I have solely been watching it on the Funimation app. If you haven’t seen it already or have preferred the manga, I can assure you this adaptation comes straight from the manga pages and is sure to make you weep. It’s emotional no matter what episode you end up watching.
Other shows I have watched on the app this year include: Demon Slayer, The Promised Neverland, Fire Force, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, How Heavy are the Dumbbells you lift and currently, the final season of Attack on Titan. January is also looking to be a packed year of even more anime to watch, with several second seasons to shows I am highly looking forward to returning to. Funimation has been a must have app on my phone this year, alongside the old faithful Crunchyroll – which I just finished watching ‘Is It Okay To Pick Girls Up In A Dungeon?!’, as well as ‘Mysteria Friends’.
Another streaming service that came online this year, has been ‘Screen Anime’. Launched back in May by the people behind Anime Limited and Scotland Loves Anime film fest, it was a way of getting through the pandemic in a time that was going to clash with the yearly anime screenings up in Scotland. They offer a monthly service which includes four filmes and a series each month that you can binge. They have also included film premieres before they got a physical release, including ‘Ride Your Wave’ and ‘Lu Over The Wall’. Its a subscription well worth checking out and supporting, with a very affordable cost of under £4.00 a month. However it is only available to view in the UK and Ireland at the moment.
A Good ‘Aul Book:
If you have attended any of the MCM Comic Cons in England over the years or just picked up your monthly Neo Magazine, you would be well acquainted with Cakes With Faces. A British company set up by designer Amy Crabtree, who has brought out many ‘kawaii’ alpaca and sushi hoodie designs over the years and whose stall has continuously grown over the near decade she has been trading at cons. She also has a superb YouTube channel that focuses on her trips to Japan and how you can organise your trip too! Which she has now put pen to paper and has created her very own travel guide! All thanks to her kickstarter campaign, the book is finally out and she has even done a second printing, so make sure to check out her website to order your copy today! http://comicbuzz.com/cakes-with-faces-your-guide-to-japan-review/
I have really been slacking on the comic reviews this year, but two very important franchises do in fact come to the front of my mind. Over the last year or so, I have been enjoying the weekly Critical Role nights but I am a long way off from being up to date on the current Campaign 2. The team behind the Mighty Nein and their DM Matthew Mercer have since teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to put their first Campaign to paper as a comic series. Thus the Origins of Vox Machina was released. However my eyes are solely set on the up-coming Mighty Nein origins stories that are set to be published next year, beginning with our own little sapphire: Jester. http://comicbuzz.com/critical-role-vox-machina-origins-vol-1-review/
Another comic series and company worth checking out, is Wolvenheart from Mad Cave Studios. This epic tale tells the story of not only Van Helsing, but the organisation he establishes to track down the evil demons that have emerged through various points in time. It’s time-traveling demon slayers in a nutshell. With appearances from the Queen of England, Dracula and the infamous – Queen in Black! Follow Van Helsing’s apprentice – Sterling Cross, as he travels throughout time to stop the destruction of the Wolvenheart Organisation! http://comicbuzz.com/wolvenheart-vol-1-legendary-slayer-review/
Graphic Novels worth checking out:
I have really come to love Katie O’Neills’ work in the last year. From her ‘Tea Dragon Society’ series to ‘Aquicorn Cove’ – it just brings me back to the types of books I used to read as a kid. However these ones are still capable of catching my grown-up imagination, by transporting me into a story filled with joy but also personal challenges for the characters. My favorite of which has been the ‘Tea Dragon Festival’ – http://comicbuzz.com/the-tea-dragon-festival-review/. A book and series that is well worth adding to your collection, and also makes as a lovely gift for younger readers. Truly this is one series I would hope to pass down through my family for decades to come.
My second graphic novel recommendation has to go to ‘The Magic Fish’ from Random House Graphic. This beautifully illustrated story combines some foreign fairy tales that I have never heard before and entwines them with the struggles that young Tién is going through. The only child of an immigrant family, that moved from Vietnam to America for a better life. Throw in the reality of knowing that he is poorer than his classmates, the amount of work and effort his parents put into their daily lives and the sadness he sees on his mothers’ face when she talks about returning back to Vietnam to visit her ailing mother. Tiéns’ native language is English and although he has dual languages to a certain degree, his parents native tongue will always be Vietnamese. It just adds an extra layer of communication complications, when Tién struggles to understand his own feelings towards boys but doesn’t know how to voice them to his parents. It’s a book I am miserably failing to properly describe, but is well worth picking up and reading! Please take my word for it! http://comicbuzz.com/the-magic-fish-review/
A Little Box of Sunshine:
Each month, without fail I have received my SoKawaii box subscription sent straight from Japan. With a different theme each month, it comes packed full of stationary, useful goods, cups, blankets, plushies etc. Delivered through DHL, it has managed to arrive within days of leaving Japan and does not rely on Japan Post at all. Which at the moment has not shipped to Ireland since March. Just check out my latest review of SoKawaii for their December box to find out how you can sign up and use my discount code: http://comicbuzz.com/sokawaii-december-2020-box-review/
Other noteworthy boxes include Nihon Box, which currently can’t ship to a number of countries at the moment due to Japan Post restrictions. So perhaps its best to wait until normal postal services resume before signing up for your crate. http://comicbuzz.com/nihon-box-march-2020-review/
Another service I found just recent enough, is Leannes Anime over on Facebook. Based in England, she can create custom anime mystery boxes for you, locate certain merch from Japan and is even working on getting a website made for the new year. With quick turn around, fast shipping and reasonable prices, she is well worth checking out for the anime figures and merch that she buys in. Make sure to check out her live videos as well for all the latest merch that arrives. http://comicbuzz.com/leannes-anime-demon-slayer-mystery-box-review/
And last but not least, I want to give a massive shout out to all the Irish conventions and their committee members, stall holders, attendees and guests that have had to cancel all their plans for 2020. Let’s face it, this year sucked in many ways! But outside of that, we all managed to slow down just a tad. To take an extra long breath and just deal with what was in front of us. There will be many more conventions in the future, we will all be extra excited to attend, to get out of the house and even leave our own county at long last! Imagine being able to go to Dublin for Dublin Comic Con and J-Con, to travel to Cork for Kaizoku Con, Galway for Akumakon and maybe even new conventions that haven’t even been announced yet. We will grace those trade halls yet again and we will not take it for granted when we line up to meet an overseas guest.
Here’s to 2021, even if it goes to s*** – at least there will be a new season of anime to watch!