2020 certainly had its moments, with plenty of ups and downs. Unfortunately for many, last year was filled with a lot of downs. However, there were many stories of triumphs too. We take a look at the five biggest news stories regarding anime last year, and how big of an impact it had for the anime industry.

5 – Anime and Manga Piracy Sites Going Down

Several big manga and anime piracy went down in 2020. This is mostly due to anime and manga companies suing hosting sites, as well as Japan implementing stricter copyright laws. The biggest of which are referenced in the image above. With the revised copyright law taking effect yesterday, January 1st, 2021, expect more piracy sites to go down. The revised law also goes after “leech sites” that aggregate and provide hyperlinks to pirated media.

4 – The rise of legal streaming services and Free YouTube Anime

And with the fall of various big piracy sites, many legal ways to watch anime online have popped up. 2020 has seen the surge of streaming sites, with Netflix leading the fray. The streaming service has released a lot of anime titles in their library, and even commissioned a few exclusives. Meanwhile, over at YouTube, several free anime channels have popped up, as well as continued their free anime services. These include Muse Asia and Ani-One.

3 – Kyoto Animation Arsonist finally arrested and charged with murder

The KyoAni arson which killed 36 people and seriously injured many others was the biggest anime news story of 2019. And after a year of recovering inside a hospital, local Japanese police finally arrested suspect Shinji Aoba. And just a couple of weeks ago, prosecutors finally charged him with multiple accounts of murder. Police finally arrested Aoba last May after extensive treatments, as he also suffered severe burns during his arson attack. However, when police told him that he killed 36 people and hospitalized 33 others in the act, the suspect seems to not feel any remorse at all. When presented with the number, he merely stated “Oh, is that so?”  (“Sou nan desu ka?”). Aoba remained unaware of how many people he killed during his treatment, as he also suffered 3rd degree burns during the ordeal. He admitted that he really thought only two people died in his act. But with Aoba admitting that he wanted to kill as many people as possible, as well as not feeling any remorse towards his actions, the suspected arsonist might get some heavy punishments from the law.

2 – Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train’s Box Office Dominance

Many expected Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train to be a hit in the box office, but few people expected that it would become the biggest Japanese movie yet. The movie has overtaken Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in box office sales, and is now the biggest  Japanese box office success in history. The Hayao Miyazaki film has sat at the #1 spot for over a decade, earning 31.68 billion yen, and that includes revival screenings. However, Mugen Train reached the crucial 30 Billion Yen milestone a lot faster than Spirited Away. The Ghibli movie took 253 days to reach the milestone, while Mugen Train took only around 80 days to reach that goal.

Normally, Mugen Train’s box office dominance would be the biggest news story of the year. Unfortunately, 2020 isn’t a normal year at all, and the #1 anime news story is also the #1 mainstream news story for the year. Yes folks, 2020’s biggest news story is (as expected)…

1 – COVID-19

Well, what else would #1 be? The virus has shut down animation production, delayed anime premieres and manga releases, cancelled events and concerts, infected seiyuu, musicians, and anime staff, and of course, killed millions around the world. COVID-19 has shut down society and affected governments and economies. It’s not just Japan which suffered, but the rest of the world. Hey, AFA was cancelled because of the pandemic. It had led to this “New Normal,” and it has gotten many of us scrambling for a vaccine.

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