Thursday, January 7, 2021

Anime Report 2021

We made it into 2021! It's been very serious and intense around here recently, so I'm going to liven things up a bit today. It's time for some weeb talk.

2020 was not a great year for a lot of things, but it also wasn't particularly great for anime. Aside from some new seasons of older series there wasn't really much to talk about. The originals were few and far between and the ones being raved about were mediocre at best. Even those older series with new seasons were fairly limited in that there was merely a handful of them. Just like everything else, and for various obvious reasons, the year didn't produce a sizeable amount from bigger studios. Suffice to say, there just wasn't much in the way of anime in 2020.

But how is 2021 shaping up? Surely there is some new material on the way to make up for the lack of new stuff last year? Well, there usually is a bounce back after a dry year, and it looks like 2021 is no different. There are quite a few series to talk about.

So let us go into some of the more interesting series coming this year. Whereas 2020 had very little, 2021 s hoping you forget that.

First is the Winter season, usually the lightest season of the year, actually has a few returning series of interest to many viewers, and some new ones. We will start with some of the highly anticipated returning series first.

These aren't unknowns by any stretch of the imagination. The final season of Attack on Titan just recently started, and the next season of The Promised Neverland and Dr. Stone are just about to begin. These have been highly anticipated for some time now.

I don't keep up with Attack on Titan, so I can't be certain of what it is doing, but being that it is one of the most popular series of the '10s means many should be looking forward to it. MAPPA is also a studio that knows what it is doing, which means they should be more than capable of finishing the story that has been going on for so long.

Promised Neverland is a bit of a mystery to me. I read the entire manga so I know how it ends and can definitely tell you it will not reach the conclusion with season 2. However, I also do not know what it will cover since there is only one place I can see this set of episodes ending and it will require much faster pacing than season 1 to reach that point. Either way, it should be a treat to watch as it was to read.

Meanwhile, Dr. Stone's manga is so far ahead that I can't even begin to imagine where season 2 will end, but I can say that the material it is about to cover is some of the best in the series. Those who enjoyed the first season will find much more to enjoy with this one.

On top of those three, the highly popular Seven Deadly Sins has returned for another season, as has Beastars and Log Horizon. And this is still the first season of the year.

But that isn't all that is returning. Those are merely the most popular returning series. Other series continuing in the winter include the recent Jujutsu Kaisen, the highly anticipated season 2 of World Trigger, and the next part of Osomatsu-san season 3. As far as returning series, there is no shortage of them ot watch this winter.

However, there is actually some new stuff to talk about, which isn't that common for a winter season. There are in fact two I wish to mention before moving on.

First up is a new project from Bones entitled SK Infinity. Because it's Bones it also looks really weird. This appears to be a throwback to the old extreme sports fad from decades back since the plot is one of skateboarders finding an abandoned mine and having downhill races in it. There they settle beefs and have heated battles. It wouldn't be anime if it wasn't weird on some level, but taking a subject like this that hasn't been used or really addressed in so long, and by a studio like Bones no less, makes it something worth keeping an eye on.

The second series starting this winter is Studio VOLN's Back Arrow. There isn't much known about this one aside from the pedigree behind it and that it looks to have mecha featuring in it. The series has a very familiar beginning with an amnesiac awakening in an outskirts village, but beyond that we don't know much else. And that helps make it more exciting.

Once again, this is still just the winter season.

Now we are heading into spring where the first heavy hitters usually show up. So what do we have this time that we didn't last season? A lot. The problem here is that there is so much interesting material that I don't have enough space to mention it all.

So I will just talk about what interests me or any readers the most. That's still quite a bit, though.

The first is the ever-popular My Hero Academia with season 5. I shouldn't have to say why this is so popular or even what this is, but I can say that this season will basically cover the calm before the storm that is currently happening in the manga. This season should adapt everything up to the beginning of the current massive arc in the manga that has just wrapped up. Bones are also using additional staff to put out a third movie this year, which means there will be plenty of MHA activity in 2021. I'm still personally hoping for an adaption of the My Hero Academia: Vigilantes spin-off manga, but the year is still young. Who knows what will come out of this massive franchise next? It's not going to be over anytime soon.

The most anticipated new series is easily To Your Eternity by the creator of the very popular A Silent Voice. This is a very different series from that far more grounded one, being more of a sort of metaphysical fantasy adventure series starring a spirit that can become other creatures and absorb their essences and memories. I can't really say much else that wouldn't involve spoilers except that Brain's Base really has their work cut out for them on this one. You're going to be hearing a lot about this one very shortly.

Another big one is the new anime adaption of Shaman King, the old Shonen Jump manga from back in the day. The series has had a tough legacy from an anime adaption that crafted its own ending to a manga that was canceled under questionable circumstances to taking ages to ever actually getting a proper ending. Those who enjoyed this series have had a very rough ride. This adaption, however, promises to actually adapt the entire story for the first time. 

Shaman King probably doesn't need an introduction, especially to anyone who frequents places likes Wasteland & Sky, but here it goes. This is a series about spirit warriors who team with souls of the departed in order to set balance to the world and become the Shaman King. It's quite a big series, in many ways. Needless to say, everyone is going to be keeping their eyes on this one, especially since the series has so much intrigue and history behind it.

But that isn't it for spring. We've still got more to go through.

There is also the spin off to the mega popular SSSS. Gridman entitled SSSS. Dynazenon. It isn't a sequel but a spinoff to the Tsuburaya and Trigger tokusatsu anime, and will undoubtedly be talked about all season. I wish I could say more about it, but there hasn't bee much revealed. The Gridman anime was a sequel to both the original 1990s tokusatsu and the US adaption entitled Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad (hence the "SSSS" before the "Gridman") but Dynazenon is a complete mystery. Nonetheless, the same team should create a similar quality of series. But we will see.

Next might be one you'll brush off, but I suggest giving a chance to. This is an adaption of the new manga by the creator of Fairy Tail, EdensZero. The reason I suggest giving it a chance is because it is much different than his previous popular series, in fact closer to the creator's first series Rave Master in that it is much more of a typical quest series. Most of what you might not have enjoyed in Fairy Tail simply isn't in EdensZero.

So what is it about? EdensZero is a planetary adventure series that doesn't rely on the power creep formula of Fairy Tail but on discoveries on alien worlds, new hazards and mysteries, and battles that rely on ingenuity and spirit beyond constant powerups. It is much more of a traditional adventure series, so be sure not to sleep on it. Hopefully the anime adaption can do it justice.

Third is one I've been waiting for since I first discovered the manga, and that is Tokyo Revengers. The best way to describe it is the time travel thriller Erased only with delinquents and a lot of fist fighting. It starts as the main character nearly dies and is transported back to high school where he falls in with a rough crowd. He soon learns that to save the future he will have to rise in the ranks of a certain gang i order to change the future. As long as he isn't killed by his enemies first. It's a dramatic series with much hotblooded action and twisting time travel that will keep your head spinning but is never confusing. Here is hoping the anime adaption gets it right.

But that isn't it for spring. Somehow there is still more to talk about. Lastly, there are three more series to round off the season.

There is Godzilla: Singular Point, a combination of 2D and 3D animation and the first proper Godzilla anime series to ever include such a thing. There isn't much info aside from character designs being done by the creator of Blue Exorcist and the involvement of Godzilla alum Eiji Yamamori, but what else is there you really need to know? It's Godzilla.

Then there is Mars Red, an original series taking place in 1923 about vampire hunters solving the rise in vampire attacks. There isn't much else known about it but the previews have made it look quite interesting.

Lastly we have Cestvs: The Roman Fighter. It takes place in 54 AD and is about an orphan slave learning how to be a pugilist and learning to fight for his freedom. This one is based on an old manga from 1997, so it should be quite the experience. Japan has gotten into the habit of giving anime adaptions to older series that never got them, so it should be a treat to see what exactly they do here. Nonetheless, it looks to retain the flair of the original art.

And that's finally it for spring. Again, I could mention more, but eventually this post has to end. There is another half of the year to talk about, after all.

However, from this point on it is impossible to tell just what is going to be released when. This means I can only tell you about series that have not yet been scheduled but are due for this year. Unfortunately, it means I'm going to also have to skim a lot and a pick and choose here too.

The first I want to mention is the long awaited adaption of Naoki Urasawa's Pluto. This is a cyberpunk adaption of an Osamu Tezuka work only altered to fit in with Urasawa's high octane thriller style. It's not a long series at only 8 volumes, and the adaption won't be long either with hour long episodes which also number 8. The original story was sort of the original shonen tournament arc, however Pluto changes it into a mystery. A serial killer is seeking out and destroying the seven great robots of the world. Only our protagonist Gesicht can find the murderer. The catch? He is one of the targets. Get ready for an explosive ride.

Next is Sakugan, a mecha adventure based on a novel. In this humanity has moved underground in colonies in the distant future. There a father and daughter team go exploring, both for riches to survive and to see if they can find her long lost mother. From what I've heard this seems like a much more classic approach to mecha that we haven't seen in a long time, and one we have been hoping to see. It is a series to keep your eye on.

Then there is Chainsaw Man, a bizarre gonzo adaption of a Shonen Jump series that just ended mere weeks ago. It is off-kilter, hyperviolent, and unpredictable, which is probably a good fit for a studio like MAPPA who specializes in capturing the more bizarre aspects of the source material. Expect a full adaption, no matter how long it takes. I'm honestly not sure how this will air since it is probably one of the most violent series that has ever run in Shonen Jump. Nonetheless, most will be watching this one with keen interest.

We have a few more to go, but I wanted to focus on one anime in particular before we mention the rest. It is a series no one expected coming, but was highly welcome when it was announced. That would be the upcoming anime of Getter Robo Arc.

For those who don't know, mecha as a genre was more or less solidified around the time Go Nagai created Mazinger Z back in the early '70s. He created the hotblooded pilot, the super attacks, and the over the top action the genre would be known for. The basic framework of mecha was solidified with him. However, it is when he worked with Ken Ishikawa to create Getter Robo that mecha as an idea was turned up to 11.

Ishikawa quickly turned Getter Robo into a powerhouse of its own as the first combining mecha that required multiple pilots and teamwork. He also cranked up the pulp influence by adding in lost races, mysterious alien energy, and plenty of action both in and out of the mecha that never slows down. It is a requirement that everyone in Getter Robo be hotblooded and functionally insane yet intensely heroic to deal with the otherworldly evil and cosmic horror they face on a constant basis. You can see Getter Robo influence from everything from G Gundam to GaoGaiGar to Gurren Lagann. It all started here with the original pulp mecha series.

Every anime adaption of Ken Ishikawa's manga has been entirely different (though no less great) from his original work, but has always maintained a high quality regardless of that fact. The reason the Getter name is beloved is because it has never had a bad work come out of it. That says a lot considering the franchise is near 50 years old.

Unfortunately, Ishikawa never got to finish the final manga instalment of Getter Robo, which is the above Getter Robo Arc, due to his sudden unexpected death in 2006 at 58 years old. So the original manga series never had an official ending, despite the fact it looked as if he was building to one. This is what makes this newly announced adaption so exciting since it can finally give closure to a series that deserves the chance more than any other.

Directed by the man who has handled the most Getter Robo adaptions, including the highly influential Getter Robo Armageddon, this anime of Getter Robo Arc promises to be what we've all been waiting for. And that is something I can't help but have excitement for.

All in all, 2021 looks to be a great year for anime. And that is only including what I'm mentioning here. There is still yet more.

So what else do we have? Well, quite a lot of sequels to very popular series. 2021 has new seasons of Kaguya-sama, Megalobox, Shield Hero, Fruits Basket, Thunderbolt Fantasy, two different Megazone 23 projects, the Patlabor EZY project, and the new season of the remake of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Then there is the Gundam Hathaway Flash project, a second Blame! movie, and a new Space Battleship Yamato film. The new Spriggan, Saber Marionette J, and Bean Bandit, OVAs are also due this year. 

Then there are other new projects without a defined release date such as Megaton Musashi, Orient, Shadows House, Despera, Rescue Academia, The Vampire Dies in No Time, and others that have yet to be announced for 2021.

Some of these might be moved back to 2022, for all we know, but it's already quite the packed year as it is. I'm not even certain if I will have the time to watch what interests me. This post has mentioned just over 40 projects for this year alone.

It looks as if Japan won't be stopping anytime soon, not with a 2021 this stacked. I can't imagine what else they have up their sleeve. The year has just started, and already it's looking much more interesting than last year.

So keep your chin up. There is much to come, and many more things to see. Here's hoping Japan can keep it up. We're due for some good times ahead. We just have to get there.


  1. Oooh, these sound good! I'm also reminded that I need to get caught up on the shows I was watching. Fell off the wagon when the baby was born and hubby's overtime ramped up, erasing our evenings. Hmm ... we have a ton of Shield Hero light novels ... read the novels ... or watch the show? Choices, choices ...

    1. There is no shortage of material. I didn't even cover everything that comes out this year in this post.

  2. Are these ones you'd recommend, then? I've got to say that a fair number of these don't look promising to me (though it could be a case of judging something unfairly by its cover--e.g. Edenszero appears to be doing the standard "anime girl with a bust as big as her head" thing that I loathe, Beastars seems kind of strange, and I'm automatically suspicious of something called the "Seven Deadly Sins"--why all the focus on vice instead of virtue? Isn't that a modern storytelling problem?)

    Of course I'd be happy to hear that's just my automatic suspicion talking, though this looks like far too much for anyone with a life to keep track of. (Apologies in advance if you somehow manage, and in that case I envy your time management or reading/watching speed! ;)

    1. Not all are personal recommends and I don't plan on watching nearly all of them. I don't like Attack on Titan, for instance, but I know many who do. Same with Seven Deadly Sins. This is a post to highlight how the industry itself is doing.

      EdensZero uses a lot of male and female cheesecake in costumes, but it doesn't have any overt sexual content aside from that. If that sort of thing bother you then you probably won't enjoy it, but it is otherwise a very engaging adventure series.

      For myself personally, I would second Blume and recommend Pluto, as well as Tokyo Revengers and Getter Robo. Those are known quantities in that I've read the manga for them.

    2. Ok, I was thinking it might be the case that this was more of an "update" than a "recommended" list.

      Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. Pluto, I highly recommend Pluto. It's great, just fantastic, one of my all time favorite mangas. I need to reread it.