2020 was a big year for Crunchyroll as the company produced and launched seven original series, including three adaptations of manhwa from Webtoon, under its Crunchyroll Originals label. Reactions have generally been very mixed to these Originals so far, but of them have at least some aspect that makes them worth watching. Let’s take a look at all of the original series produced by Crunchyroll in 2020, ranking them from worst to best.
In 2030, a dangerous virus transforms humans into monsters known as “Gibia.” Sensui Kanzaki—an exiled Edo samurai—and his comrades Kenroku Sanada and Yukinojyo Onikura, time travel to a post-apocalyptic modern-day Tokyo. Sensui aids a scientist and other human survivors in finding a cure for the virus and save mankind from destruction.
Gibiate is an original anime series produced by Yoshitaka Amano. Before its airing, there was major hype for Gibiate. The series failed to live up to its hype due to poor CGI animation. However, what's frustrating about this entire series is the messy storyline that left several plot holes. Right from the beginning, the characters lacked common sense: they willingly accepted the strange time-traveling phenomenon, and as viewers, we were forced to accept these narrative fallacies. Several plot holes were “resolved” in the last two episodes with ridiculous conclusions that don’t make any logical sense. Gibiate is a disappointing series that isn't worth your time.
6. Onyx Equinox
Onyx Equinox is an American animated series created by Sofia Alexander. When the God of the Underworld, Mictlantecuhtli, starts stealing blood sacrifices from other gods, Quetzalcoatl decides to close the gates to the underworld. However, he can't do it himself since the gates are made from obsidian, a toxic substance to the gods. Quetzalcoatl makes a bet with Tezcatlipoca to find a human that will close the gates for him. The story follows a young boy named Itzel, the “champion” chosen by the gods to do the task.
A unique aspect of the series is its references to the Olmecs and the incorporation of Aztec, Maya, and Zapotec mythological deities. The mesmerizing and highly-detailed character designs for the gods paid homage to the relics and art at that time. Though the show is an “adult animated series,” filled with gore, profanity and sexual content, the series fails to bring forth quality character development for Izel and his comrades. One could argue that the constant bickering is a realistic depiction of how children would react when given adult responsibilities, but, to various viewers, the overbearing and childish whining in every episode makes the protagonists unlikeable and annoying, which greatly affected viewers' opinions on the entire series.
In/Spectre is a supernatural mystery series by Kyo Shirodaira. Kotoko Iwanaga is known as the “Goddess of Wisdom” who maintains order in both the human and spiritual realms. She falls in love with a guy named Kuro Sakuragawa, who possesses the power of near immortality and precognition after being forced to eat the flesh of two different yokai. The first season of In/Spectre focuses on solving the mystery of the Steel Lady Nanase.
There’s a ton of deductive reasoning dialogue in In/Spectre, which at times makes the structure of each episode a bit formulaic and dull. However, the humorous interaction between Kotoko and Kuro, who are complete opposites of one another, is enjoyable to watch. Kotoko shows her infatuation for Kuro in an almost yandere manner, giving the series a light-hearted tone to its serious content. So far, In/Spectre is the only Crunchyroll series renewed for a second season; hopefully, the pace of this show picks up in the next season.
The anime, Noblesse, is based on the South Korean manhwa written by Son Jeho and illustrated by Lee Kwangsu. The story is centered on a powerful noble named Cadis Etrama Di Raizel, who awakens from his eternal sleep 820 years later. With the help of his loyal servant, Frankenstein, Raizel adjusts to life in the modern world as a high school student. The anime series focuses on the second season of the manhwa, which is about the Union and the Nobles searching for Raizel.
If you are new to Noblesse, you have to watch the ONA before watching the series. If you don’t, you will end up being confused as to what is going on. Many faithful Noblesse fans were disappointed at the anime adaption due to the show cutting significant subplots and using a formulaic and predictable structure for the battle sequences. It’s also unfortunate that there wasn’t enough time to flesh out several key characters. Despite these concerns, the anime series was still enjoyable to watch because of its balance of humor and action.
3. The God of High School
The God of High School is based on the South Korean manhwa by Yongje Park. Mori Jin, a 17-year-old martial artist, participates in a martial artist tournament known as “The God of High School,” sponsored by a mysterious corporation. The winner of the tournament gets their wish fulfilled by the corporation.
The God of High School was one of the most hyped-up series of 2020 but received backlash due to how the main storyline unfolded. If you haven’t read the manhwa, you will have a difficult time understanding the overall plot because the anime failed to give thorough explanations for significant background content such as the three realms and the origin of the “charyeok,” the “Borrowed Power” system. Critics argued that the series should have focused on the tournament aspect only. There were so many significant subplots that the production had to cut out. Despite these flaws, The God of High School series delivered on the action, making the series quite enjoyable to watch.
2. TONIKAWA: Over the Moon for You
TONIKAWA: Over the Moon for You is based on a Japanese manga series created by Kenjiro Hata. On a snowy night, Nasa Yuzaki falls in love at first sight with a girl he sees at the bus stop. When crossing the street, Nasa almost gets run over by a truck, but the girl, Tsukasa Tsukuyomi, fortunately, saves his life. Nasa declares his love and asks Tsukasa to go out with him. She agrees to be his girlfriend only if they get married first. Nasa agrees, and on his 18th birthday, Tsukasa shows up at his apartment with marriage registration.
Tsukasa and Nasa act like inexperienced love birds, making every moment they share entertaining. Nasa is clueless when it comes to romance, and so he recruits his childhood friend, Kaname Arisugawa, to help him get closer to his wife, Tsukasa. Many scenes are cringe-worthy but adorable at the same time. Tsukasa and Nasa are such a cute couple, inviting viewers to daydream about having a similar relationship. The only downside to this series is that the supporting cast didn’t serve much of a purpose in moving the main storyline along, but even so, TONIKAWA is a series worth watching.
1. Tower of God
Tower of God is based on a South Korean manhwa by S.I.U. Bam spent most of his life in the dark until Rachel frees him. Rachel becomes Bam’s close friend, but one day, she decides to leave him for an opportunity to climb the Tower and be granted a wish. Bam decides to climb the Tower too, hoping to see Rachel once again.
The storyline felt a bit rushed, as evident in how we quickly surveyed past several fight scenes and game tasks. Several characters are introduced in the anime, but the episodes had little time in crafting them into dynamic characters. However, Tower of God did well in addressing the core parts of the main story. Crunchyroll's top original so far features some excellent action sequences and a music soundtrack that deserves a listen.