The new year is in full swing, and no matter how dire the news looks, at least we can take comfort in knowing there’s an insane amount of great animation out there and coming to you in the near future. And it’s easier to get your hands on than ever. In the age of streaming, there has never been as many anime and adult-skewing animated shows so accessible to fans old and new, meaning there’s a plethora of new shows for people to discover, as well as old shows saying their last goodbyes.
With the winter season almost over, there’s a whole group of new shows hitting the streaming services and networks that we cannot wait to see. Add to that the shows returning later in the year, and 2020 is promising to be an exciting year for animation fans.
With that in mind, we’ve prepared a list of the most exciting shows you should definitely keep an eye out for in 2020.
Launched: March 5 on Netflix
Why We Can’t Wait: Dracula is dead, long live Alucard! After last season ended with the shocking death of the main bad at the hands of vampire hunter Trevor Belmost and Dracula’s own son Alucard, this season will see the world’s remaining vampire leaders grappling to fill the power vacuum and take control of the human livestock previously under Dracula’s control. This season promises to introduce plenty of new characters and lore from the Castlevania canon as well as original creations, and of course, some of the most brutal fight scenes in recent animation. With its third season just landing on Netflix, it’s about time Castlevania is recognized as one of the best video game adaptations ever made.
Debuts: March 19 on Netflix
Why We Can’t Wait: Cowboy Bebop writer Dai Sato takes on Altered Carbon in this anime-feature spin-off of the Netflix Original live-action sci-fi series. Set on Planet Latimer, the film features former soldier and investigator Takeshi Kovacs, who takes “the worst job ever” protecting a tattoo artist working for the yakuza. The original live-action series, based on the novels by Richard K. Morgan, holds a 75% Fresh Tomatometer score averaged over two seasons; Joel Kinnaman starred as Takeshi Kovacs in season 1, with Anthony Mackie taking over the role in season 2 after the character is again resleeved, and Will Yun Lee appearing across both seasons as the original Takeshi Kovacs (or “Kovacs Prime”). Why can’t we wait for this animated expansion of the Altered Carbon universe? Watch that trailer again.
Debuts: March 13 on Netflix
Why We Can’t Wait: Though comparisons to Disney’s Zootopia are inevitable, the upcoming adaptation of the popular manga, Beastars, is definitely not kid-friendly. In a universe populated by anthropomorphic animals, tensions rise between the carnivores and herbivores of Cherryton Academy after an alpaca student is brutally murdered. At the same time, a timid wolf called Legoshi must navigate a world where your entire life has been determined by being born into a certain species, as well as his new set of complex feelings for Haru, a dwarf rabbit with a bad reputation. Beastars is complex and rich – a murder-mystery, a high-school drama, a coming-of-age story, and a romance all in one.
Debuts: April 1 on Crunchyroll
Why We Can’t Wait: For years fans have been anticipating an anime adaptation of Tower of God, one of the most popular South Korean webcomics out there, and it is finally almost here. The anime deals with a mysterious tower with unique and strange environments that grants all sorts of wishes and powers to explorers who reach the top. Two kids decide to climb the tower one day, and find that it is more difficult than they ever imagined. The webcomic resembles the movie Snowpiercer, with its elaborate world-building, stunning action, and its tackling of heavy themes like classism.
Returns: April 3 on DC Universe
Why We Can’t Wait: Harley Quinn, the DC Universe hyper-violent, hyper-vulgar, and hyper-funny animated series starring one fantabulous Harley Quinn, was one of the best surprises of 2019, a show that followed Quinn as she broke up with Joker and tried to find her own way as a villain in Gotham. The show, much like the recent live-action movie starring Harley, is an offbeat take on the Batman mythos, with an off-the-chart jokes-per-minute ratio and a foul-mouthed and silly exploration of serious ideas that nevertheless will have you caring deeply for its titular character.
Returns: April 2020 on Funimation
Why We Can’t Wait: One of the strangest and most criminally slept-on anime series from last year, No Guns Life is a gritty, cyberpunk thriller very much in the vein of Blade Runner, only it is set in a future where a war has turned many humans into cyborgs. It centers on a private detective with a literal giant revolver for a head, who gets involved in a conspiracy that could shatter society as he knows it. The show’s wild premise pulls you in easily, as does its dark metropolitan aesthetic, compelling stories, and — have we mentioned the character with a gun for a head?! Of course, expect tons of visually-inventive action, and an intriguing mystery.
Debuts: May 8 on Hulu
Why We Can’t Wait: Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland has developed a new animated show,and it promises to be as vulgar, violent, and hilarious as the ultra-popular Adult Swim series. The series focuses on a family of aliens forced to live in Middle America who will have to determine if Earth is awful or simply awesome – they also find that it’s very easy to kill a lot of people accidentally in this world. That the show already has a two-season order before it even premieres only serves to make us more excited for more Roiland shenanigans. What Futurama is to The Simpsons, Solar Opposites could be to Rick and Morty.
Returns: October on Hulu
Why We Can’t Wait: The Promised Neverland was the rare show that masterfully blended science-fiction, mystery, and bone-chilling horror in one of the most impressive debuts of last year. Taking place in a secluded orphanage, the series follows a group of young orphans as they discover the dark and sinister truth behind what happens to kids who are “lucky” enough to be selected for adoption. The show boasts a cast full of adorable kids you’ll instantly fall for, sinister caretakers you won’t trust, and a terrifying atmosphere that makes Hereditary feel like a kids movie. Season 2 is coming up in October, making this the perfect watch for Halloween.
Returns: Fall on Hulu/Funimation/Crunchyroll
Why We Can’t Wait: When Attack on Titan premiered all the way back in 2013, it instantly became one of the most talked about anime of the year. Viewers were entranced by its macabre dystopian world in which humanity is brought to near extinction by man-eating titans, and Titan crossed over into the pop culture mainstream. The show had gruesome violence, an intriguing story filled with mystery, compelling characters, and surprising twists – no wonder it was dubbed the Game of Thrones of anime. After three violent, surprising, and emotional seasons, we finally know what lies beyond the walls that protect humanity, which fundamentally changed what we knew of the show. Now that we’re headed into the fourth and final season, the possibilities are endless for Attack on Titan to get one kick-ass send-off.
Debuts: TBD on Adult Swim
Why We Can’t Wait: Junji Ito is one of the most celebrated names in Japanese horror, so an anime adaptation of his classic manga, Uzumaki, is cause for celebration. The show follows the citizens of a fictional city plagued by a supernatural curse involving spiral patterns, which soon turns deadly as citizens start meeting gruesome deaths. The show is part psychological horror, exploring a town going insane, but also provides some very creepy body horror sure to have you squirming when it eventually hits our screens.
Debuts: TBD on Amazon Prime Video
Why We Can’t Wait: After the success of The Boys in live-action, we can’t wait for more hyper-violent yet darkly-funny superhero stories, and Amazon’s animated adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible comic book series fits the bill perfectly. Featuring a star-studded cast that includes the voices of Mark Hamill, Steven Yeun, and J.K. Simmons, Invincible follows a teenager who is the son of the most powerful superhero on the planet, and who soon discovers his father’s legacy may be less than heroic. Despite its colorful nature and visuals, Invincible is notorious as a graphically violent comic, so expect a lot of animated blood when the show premieres later this year.