My Anime of the Year 2021?

Before we get into this super long post where I’ll talk bout anime that I really liked, I’d like to mention that Geoff from Mother’s Basement published a video yesterday that is great. I mostly agree with him and figured that it’d be worth pointing out that this post was scheduled for today and written last week and yesterday (today for me) I added this section here because frankly Mother’s Basement is among my favourite YouTubers (post on that soon-ish) and I love the way with words he has and how he expresses his views. “I wanna be like that when I grow up!” is something I never said before but I mean it when it’s about his review style and his knowledge. Yes, he is not the Messiah of Anime or anything like that. BUT he truly understands what makes works like Sonnyboy or Odd Taxi so fantastic and in his latest video he asks if it’s even possible to dictate an “Anime of the Year” or how you should even approach that. He also says that most bloggers’ and YouTubers’ “Anime of the Year” posts and videos are really just recommendation lists… and yes, that’s essentially what this post is. I highly recommend watching Geoff’s video! I scheduled this post for today but his video aired yesterday and when I watched it, I had to add this section to the beginning of this post because he says what I try to say a lot better than I do, which is amazing. He also talks about other things on his channel, so I can recommend checking that out. More importantly, though, he really was able to touch on why I don’t like Award Shows all that much in a way that even I couldn’t have explained better. What I mean by that is that my opinion on the matter is too complicated for my own head to express but Geoff just did it so easily… Woah!

From Uramichi Oniisan

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about my favourite shows this year in no particular order. The “Anime of the Year” title is bullshit and I hate Award Shows because you can’t just award something like that title to one particular show when every show can be measured by its impact or its score or different aspects and there isn’t one true winner. “Award Shows make it easy for themselves by having some committee deal with the decision but in the end, who are those experts anyway? They don’t understand how great my taste in games is, right?” /s – But you get my point. It’s stupid and hence I’m a bigger fan of “personal GOTY” or “personal Anime of the Year” lists that different people submit and their readers can submit their own stuff and everyone just shares opinions while they toast together at how shitty everyone else’s opinion is. 

From Aquatope

Hey, we can talk about how 12 Minutes and Kena: Bridge of Spirits weren’t too great but still got nominated for “Best Indie Game” even though there were plenty of other games in 2021 that were better and “more Indie” in another post – because I like arguing! Today, we’ll talk about my Anime of the Year 2021! Obviously, I haven’t watched all of them but I watched a lot of good ones. So here are the ones that really left a big impression on me.

From Sonny Boy

For starters, Sonny Boy still makes me think about it all the time. It’s a show about a school that drifts away into another world. Inspired by Lord of the Flies, it follows students that try to survive in an ominous world, except they don’t have to survive. They can’t die, after all, they don’t starve, and some of them have strange powers that allow them to fly or make things appear. It’s an interesting setting and the worlds that Sonny Boy explores are intriguing. The animation genius behind One Punch Man, Studio Madhouse, really showed what they can do in a show that wasn’t an adaption but an actual original story. Sonny Boy features not only a unique art style, interesting creative decisions, and relatable characters but it also has unique perspectives on life and a philosophy that I absolutely adore. It’s a great show, really!

From Mushoku Tensei

If you were to talk about the best animation and/or adaptation, you would be able to talk about a lot of different works… and Jobless Reincarnation or Mushoku Tensei would be on that list for sure. In my opinion, the animation in Mushoku Tensei is the best that I’ve seen in a long time – potentially ever since Mob Psycho 100’s first season. The amazing spell effects and the incredible choreography of most of the fights in both the first and the second part of the first season were amazing – and as someone who’s currently up-to-date with the manga and who’s actually now reading through the light novel, I can assure you that it’s a great adaptation! Yes, a lot of people complain about this being “just another Isekai” or “gross” but those people suck and they have shitty opinions because Jobless Reincarnation’s light novel started airing when Isekai wasn’t a thing. Or rather: Jobless Reincarnation was one of the first stories to touch upon this subject and while a lot of people may find some aspects of it problematic, they don’t realise that the show isn’t about some guy’s heroic journey but rather about his second chance at life and his chance of living life to the fullest, something that is expressed well in the show with him trying to make an effort and being a better son, friend, and human. Highly recommend watching it!

From Fumetsu no Anata e

A show that made me sad and had me on the brink of tears was Fumetsu no Anata e aka To Your Eternity. It’s a show that follows an immortal being that is supposed to adapt to its surroundings. It’s a show about that being’s journey through the world that is accompanied by sorrow and suffering. Everywhere, the young Fushi goes, death follows. This show isn’t about a happy-go-lucky world where happiness is just around the corner – but you really want it to be that kind of show. You watch it and you see that Fushi is happy and that he’s got a chance at a good life now but then life fucks him. If you pair that great storytelling with Takeshi Takadera’s (FLCL, Bounen no Xamdou and others) sound design, you get something in return that is both incredibly sad and incredibly beautiful. The soundtrack of the show, especially, is potentially better than Attack on Titans – and yes, I know, I’ll get lynched for voicing that opinion but I don’t care. And well, Kenjirou Tsuda (Yamabiko in Sonny Boy, Shiki in Tsuki ga Michibiku Isekai Douchuu, Tatsu in Gokushufudou, Orsted in Mushoku Tensei, and Yasuda in Hirimiya) is just an amazing voice for the narrator of the show as well as Kansatsusha, the “Black Hood”, who has his own motivations. Great watch for sure!

From Odd Taxi

It’s hard to narrow down the best show of the year but Odd Taxi probably would be the show that was made the best? I’m not sure if the impact or the score was the best out of all shows in 2021 but I can say for sure that the cinematography in that anime is amazing and that you should watch it. Odd Taxi follows a vast cast of characters in their daily lives with Odokawa Hiroshi, a taxi driver, in the centre of it all. A girl vanished and because of that a lot of people are under suspicion, searching for her, or trying to make people hush away but Odokawa is just a taxi driver who somehow gets entwisted into this whole mystery and whose goal in life is really just to earn money for the people that supported him as a child. The show also features anthropomorphic animals but that’s not an issue because they’re the most real beasts of characters that I’ve ever seen with their nuances and metaphors. The show is amazing. The score is on-point. The writing is “based” as the youngster say and honestly, it’s probably the most binge-worthy show that came out in 2021.

From Arcane

Arcane obviously was also really binge-worthy – so much that it aired in three acts á 3 episodes so that people were left wanting more each week… and it was amazing. I loved it. Is it anime? Fuck that question. Of course, it is because Avatar is, too! The music (fucking Sting and PVRIS?!?!), the writing, the characters, the universe, the animation, everything! – It was amazing. The show has some open ends as well, which is why Season 2 is gonna be highly anticipated. The writing just leaves you wanting for more. Sure, if you don’t know League of Legends, you won’t notice Warwick’s appearance in the show (tho non-canon) and you may not understand why Teemo is so amazing but those points are irrelevant to the actual plot because they’re easter eggs for fans of the universe. The show is watchable without any prior knowledge of League or its lore, especially considering that it’s non-canon, and I can really recommend watching it! Like seriously? What are you doing? Go now!

From Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen was probably one of the best-choreographed shows this season and introduced an amazing soundtrack to a franchise that I wasn’t aware of. I didn’t know about the manga so this anime came, saw and won. It just won. Everyone loved it. The people that didn’t love it don’t matter. The show is great, seriously, and I can’t believe that I nearly forgot about it but after checking if this show came out this year, I realised that yes, I’m an idiot. I had to insert this show here but since this post is super long, I can’t go into more detail. Instead, check out my JJK Appreciation Post where I talk about why JJK is amazing – in detail. ;)

From Horimiya

Horimiya also was great. It’s a show whose manga left me wanting more for ages and whose premise is relatable and amazing. It’s about Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura, “two students that couldn’t be more different” who end up getting along really well and eventually even going out. The premise may sound silly but in the end, it’s about appearances and the whole issue with what you’re allowed to express in Japan’s society and what is considered to be “not okay”. Miyamura is shy while in public but dresses completely differently in private. Meanwhile, Kyouko may be stylish at school but is completely down to earth at home. Naturally, they’re all people but I loved the way that that struggle was presented in the manga and later on – this year – in the anime adaptation. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s at times even realistic and hit close to home with one of my earliest relationships. It’s a show that I found incredibly great and that had some of the best moments (goosebumps!!!) this year and while it may not be the longest at 13 episodes it certainly is one of the best romances this season.

From Ousama Ranking

Laid-Back Camp’s second season may be the cosiest show but Ousama Ranking may is probably the cutest and most adorable show that came out this year and it has some dark plots which are amazing! It’s one of the greatest shows of 2021 in terms of its dark plot points and intricacies. The cutesy and child-like art style covers really well for the eeriness in the show and while Prince Bojji is both deaf, tiny and weak, you just can’t help but feel like cheering him on and watching his journey to becoming the best king there is. Ousama Ranking is still airing but I can’t help falling in love with it with each and every episode that comes out and honestly, I just love it. I’m a fanboy. Guilty! But it is really good, go watch it. I mean, the opening just makes you feel excited. The art style is adorable. The world is interesting. The characters are cool and their motivations are unique. Mitsumata is probably the best character in the show alongside Prince Bojji and you can “fight me” if you think otherwise because both of these characters are fucking “based”. And yes, that’s the second and last time I’ll use that word in this post.

From Slime Tensei

Since I love Isekai stuff, I cannot omit the greatness that RE:Zero’s second season was or the amazing animation and writing in Slime Tensei’s second season. Both of these shows were plenty cool in all sorts of aspects. Slime Tensei probably was more to my liking because of the fact that it gave me just what I needed: Slime Tensei all year long. What I mean by that is that the show gave me Season 2 Part 1 in Spring, Slime Diaries in Summer, Season 2 Part 2 in Fall, and OVAs in Winter. It’s the year of the Slime, everyone! That aside though, it was a bit hard for me to get back into RE:Zero because of the fact that the first season was so long ago. The animation, voice acting, soundtrack, the writing, and the struggles of our favourite car model were amazing in RE:Zero but I had to read the synopsis of the first show to be up-to-date again so that I can binge both parts of Season 2. And yeah, both shows are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but they are just honourable mentions on this list because they’re second seasons of already established works and because – while they’re great – I’m not sure if I only love it because it’s that franchise or because it’s great. 

From Attack on Titan

The same thing goes for Attack on Titan’s “Final Season” which was good in some parts, bad in others, and it just left me confused and puzzled at times because it just didn’t explain stuff too well. Why is this part now relevant? Why is this being shown to me? Why am I still watching this? Yes, it was fucking epic at the end there… but the end was open because this isn’t the final season. We got rickrolled. Fucking hell. I mean, not literally but you get what I mean. They dragged it out and omitted some parts and tried to get people riled up by announcing the end of the show when it wasn’t the end of the show yet. But who cares? Everyone loves it, right? Mimimi…

From My Hero Academia

And obviously, I had to watch My Hero Academia’s latest season but while the fights were great, I lost a bit of interest in the anime actually because I’m up-to-date with the manga and – mild SPOILER ALERT – compared to the next sage this current one is kind of lame. Yes, it was fun to see the characters’ growth in both classes at the beginning of the season but they stretched that arc out for way too long only to then continue with the Endeavour Agency Arc instead of the My Villain Academia Arc which made plenty of people upset. This was obviously done so that they could then launch a filler episode in the middle of the season where they tease the new non-canon movie… Yes, why? And then the arc that everyone wanted, came but it was way too late and a bit too short really. It felt as if they cut out on a lot of the world-building and made this arc weaker than it was in the manga. The story takes a darker turn because of this arc and yet this arc in the anime is portrayed like any other arc, if that makes sense? I found it hard to put MHA or Attack on Titan on this list. I guess I mentioned them now but technically they are not here. I just know that people will lynch me if I don’t mention those.

Uhm, JoJo: Stone Ocean is a show I have yet to watch. I’m sorry. The same goes for Heike Monogatari, Blue Period, and Platinum End. The latter is too edgy for me right now so… yeah… but I heard great things about the former two.

From Kumo desu ga, nani ka

I also can’t conclude this list without mentioning Kumo desu ga, nani ka? or Wonder Egg Priority. Two shows that were phenomenal but different? Wonder Egg Priority is amazing. Watch it. Go for it. It’s on similar levels to Odd Taxi and Sonny Boy, in my opinion, but I can’t talk about it because of spoilers and trigger warnings and I wouldn’t know how to touch on the show without taking away what makes it so great. Kumo desu ga, nani ka? was great but sadly lacked what made the manga great. The grinding, the struggles, and so on were omitted because the anime adapted more of the light novel which sadly covers the uninteresting characters a lot more. It’s a bummer but whatever. Other honourable mentions would include Beastars’ second season, Uramichi Oniisan, the second season of Zombie Land Saga, My Senpai Is Annoying, Komi can’t communicate, and many more. 

Last and certainly the least: If I were to talk about the worst show that came out this season, then I’d probably mention two: Ex-Arm is probably the worst show produced. Ever. Meanwhile, Redo of Healer is highly problematic because of the way that sexual assault and revenge fantasies get fetishized in it. Those two were the worst. Don’t watch those.

In the end, there were many great shows this season and a lot of bad ones but two shows were the worst of them all and while it’s hard to say what show is the best show of the year, it is incredibly easy to point to these two and say that they fucking suck. Instead of arguing about which show was the best, we can agree on this and leave it at that. Hope you enjoyed this post here. If you made it to the end of this post, you’re a champ. Thanks a lot for reading! This was 3k words long btw!?! Like WTF?! Right!? Super long post! But I do hope you enjoyed it. Did I forget any anime that you wanna recommend? Leave a comment!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

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