Winter 2021 Anime Season
January 4, 2021 6:00 PM - Subscribe

A new year, a new you, a new season of anime. AniChart. MyAnimeList

Over 50 series (including new, returning, sequels and shorts), a considerable increase in shows compared to the Covid-blighted seasons of 2020.
posted by ardgedee (33 comments total)
A show that's slight but fun is "Oh! Egyptian God!" on Crunchyroll; it isn't appearing in the winter season lists, but it started in early December and is worth checking out. Each episode is only about 6 minutes.

This seasons' isekai is not promising. There's the second season of "That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime", which hopefully will not be as fan-servicy as some of the extra episodes that had come out between the first season and now. Re:Zero second season continues (about which I'm pretty meh). Mushoku Tensei is a LN and manga (both with spinoffs) that oscillate wildly between some pretty sturdy adventure storytelling and some pretty obnoxious fanservice -- I've enjoyed the manga but mostly because it allows me to skim the cringey shit that's probably going to be awfully in-your-face on video. "Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?" is about a Japanese hikkikomori who gets reincarnated as a spider, the manga is a lot of fun but it's also awfully grotesque since it's about spiders and the various stomach-churning things spiders gotta do (even when they're OP magic-wielding spiders) and there are very few appearances from humans, considerably fewer in which humans successfully engage with spiders, so I honestly have no idea whether the anime will have the slightest bit in common with the LN or manga since the showcard features cute girl-eyed spiders and a broad cast of people hanging out with them. "Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi" is a pitch-black revenge fantasy, full of cynicism and no small amount of rapiness, I'm giving that one a miss. "Ore dake Haireru Kakushi Dungeon" uses fanservice as a plot mechanic and that's about all there is to say about it.

Non-isekai that look more interesting: "Tatoeba Last Dungeon..." is a silly story based on the JRPG trope that there's the one town where you start the game because the quests are easy, and the other place just before the last boss that you can only reach after you've appropriately built and buffed your player character. The first episode is out now and threatens to be more fanservicey and haremy than I remember the manga being, but hopefully they tone that shit down because it'll get in the way of a genuinely fun albeit short-lived series.

The second season of "Cells at Work" will be hopefully as good as the first one. And "Cells at Work BLACK" is going to be either amazing or horrible, possibly both.

"Ura Sekai Picnic" is intriguing. The manga didn't hold my attention but the worldbuilding was very good and there was more depth to the story than what you'd assume from a cover image of women toting guns.

"Tenchi Souzou Design-bu" might be good, might be trash. I like the premise of an animal design studio enough that I want to see how it plays out here.

Anyway, for all that, I'll probably only end up watching three or four shows, like I usually do.
posted by ardgedee at 6:33 PM on January 4, 2021

I read the first volume of "Cells at Work BLACK" Curious how that'll translate to the screen.

Some folks on twitter are a little salty about "Skate-Leading Stars" ("why make up a skating sport when hockey is right there?"). I haven't heard anything about the new volleyball show, but it will be interesting to compare it to Haikyuu.

As for returning series, Jujutsu Kaisen has reeled me in and I hope the new opening and closing songs are as good as the ones in the first cour.

I've been reading the Beastars manga, but only watched a few episodes of the first series; I need to catch up so I can watch the new series.
posted by mogget at 7:53 PM on January 4, 2021

Looking forward to seeing at least the first arc of Horimiya animated.

Dreading Log Horizon S3 since it is still DEEEEEEEN!

Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? is apparently based on the LN where they simultaneously follow the MC's human classmates unlike the manga where that's left out for some reason. As a manga reader this means I'll get to see the other half of the story - though considering how long the manga has gone focusing only on the MC without her even interacting in the slightest with her classmates I wonder how well that will actually work.

And of course Higurashi is continuing - looking forward for some answer arcs.
posted by charred husk at 8:26 AM on January 5, 2021

> Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? is apparently based on the LN where they simultaneously follow the MC's human classmates unlike the manga where that's left out for some reason.

The manga is pretty dense -- the MC's got a nonstop internal narrative so the chapters tend to be very wordy whether or not anything's happening. The editor and/or mangaka probably decided that it was better to just focus entirely on the MC rather than try to split the narrative where they might have to spend too many pages for one side or the other just to keep their timelines in sync.
posted by ardgedee at 2:44 PM on January 5, 2021

I'm just... trying out a lot of things this season. I probably need to drop a few, just to have time to watch everything.

I'm looking forward to some sequels, in particular the final (I think) chapter of Nanatsu no Taizai.

And, I actually thought that Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi sounded interesting, just based on its official blurb. Argedee is making it sound like the same basic plot as Shield Hero. I hope it's not as rapey on screen as is being suggested. So many possibly interesting stories seem to get ruined by that.

I'm going to try sitting with some popcorn and seeing just how bad of a train wreck Ex-Arm ends up being. There's an interesting enough meta-story around the making of the show, that I almost think it deserves its own FPP.

And, I'm definitely noping on out of that spider thing.

(I'm must seem like I'm pretty down on stuff, but I'm actually quite glad that there's a lot to choose from right now. )

A few that I'm taking flyers on: Jaku-Chara Tomozaki-kun, Horimiya, and Wonder Egg Priority. I expect to drop at least one of these, but I'm surprising myself by being a bit more interested in romcom and slice-of-life shows this time around. Maybe it's 2021-fueled optimism? :)
posted by Citrus at 10:34 PM on January 5, 2021

> I actually thought that Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi sounded interesting, just based on its official blurb. [...] I hope it's not as rapey on screen as is being suggested.

I haven't read either of the LN, but the manga version of Kaifuku Jutsushi... is a hell of a lot darker than the manga version of Shield Hero. It opens with a revenge rape, then a time-skip backwards to a couple dozen pages of the MC being pointlessly tortured (viscerally, not just psychologically tormented), and that's all just for setting the scene before the story begins. Hopefully that shit is toned down for video, but who fucking knows? There's not much left after taking out the misogyny and occasional homophobia.
posted by ardgedee at 5:08 AM on January 6, 2021

Has anyone done an isekai where someone comes back as a truck?
posted by RobotHero at 8:39 PM on January 10, 2021

First episode of Cells at Work Code Black was fantastic if horrifying. Glad I don’t smoke, holy shit.

Slime really lost me in the second cour so I’m not hoping for much here. It was great when it was basically Civilization: The Anime or an Overlord Paragon playthough, but the last several episodes devolved into DBZ-style “Oh yeah?! Well I secretly have even MORE power!!” I’ll still give it a shot but definite back-burner. If I’m going to spend time on problematic isekai it needs to be either Konosuba levels of funny or Overlord levels of...something. Total commitment to the core concept, I guess.

Nobody’s mentioned that Promised Neverland S2 is airing. The first season was about three episodes too long but it was absolutely fantastic for the first half. I have no idea where they go from here but I’m willing to give it a shot.

Has anyone done an isekai where someone comes back as a truck?

The closest would be Isekai Transporter (MC drives a truck) or the Reborn As A Vending Machine light novels. Neither are what you mean, but people have been asking for something like this long enough that it will probably happen eventually.
posted by Ryvar at 10:42 AM on January 12, 2021

I was about to mention Isekai Transporter. Anime studios rarely look outside Japan for material (the mangaka is Thai, the story's set in Thailand), but I really wish they would try adapting that. I expected a one-note gag comic but they do an interesting job with the world building and touch on the sort of psychopathy that would be needed to be Truck-Kun's driver.

The second story arc of Slime is unnecessarily complicated (the story explodes in all directions through over half a dozen POVs) and considerably darker than the first arc, all to build up to a grand climax you saw coming from miles away. I'm watching it just to watch it, expectations set low. The production quality seems to have slipped too, characters were going off-model in the first episode.

The second season of Cells At Work seems to have been taken up by a completely other production studio. The art style and animation styles are different, the production makes choices that feel out of character with the first season. So far I'm underwhelmed. Haven't watched the Code Black series yet but it's in queue.

(I can't remember the US titles for most of these so I'm winging it, sorry.)

Isekai Spider came out better than I expected but the big anime girl eyes are endlessly annoying. It has the feel of a B-list studio working with an A-list budget; lavishly produced but so many details and directorial choices seem off. The story is almost entirely focused on the spider, the interlude with the other characters seem to be mostly there to provide a break from the nonstop monologue; there are a lot of character introductions but otherwise there doesn't seem to have been a point to their six-minute vignette.

Mushoku Tensei is impressively big-budget. Not as bad as I expected, but weirdly seems even more determined than the manga was to focus on the MC being an irredeemable incel pervert. Which bothered my wife less than me; I wonder if it's because the show is pretty ruthless about how unsavory the dude is being? We'll see if the show ends up outstaying our welcome.

Animal Design Studio turns out to be a gentle turn-brane-off-and-stare show. It's as much a workplace comedy as anything else. If you work in marketing, design, software, or any kind of professional consulting, the show might be painfully on the nose at times.

Boy from the Last Dungeon is thoroughly silly and entertaining. Another good turn-brane-off show, but with enough story to engage brane anyway.
posted by ardgedee at 12:50 PM on January 12, 2021

Drop what you're doing and watch Wonder Egg Priority.

Best show this season.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:55 PM on January 12, 2021

THANK YOU for the Wonder Egg Priority rec, I immediately fell in love with it. Super excited to watch more.

Also, I've been seeing Jujutsu Kaisen fanart everywhere, but I'm not sure if I'd enjoy watching it.. is there anything in particular that sets it apart from other shonen?
posted by Lurch at 6:33 PM on January 13, 2021

I've been enjoying Jujutsu Kaisen a lot. I think what sets it apart from other battle shonen with teenaged protagonists is that the adult characters are aware of their responsibility as adults with respect to the teenaged characters (e.g. Nanami, and even Ijichi). Actually the adult characters are really great, especially jujutsu sorcerer turned salaryman turned jujutsu sorcerer Nanami.

There are some beautifully animated battle scenes, and so far it's been an excellent adaptation. But I wouldn't recommend it to somebody who's not into battle shonen, and especially supernatural battle shonen.
posted by needled at 1:52 AM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Anime Feminist has posted their seasonal first-episode reviews.
posted by ardgedee at 5:34 AM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Quick question since I’m new to anime club/Fanfare Talk in general: would anyone be up for a 2020 seasonal anime in review/wrapup post? Should that go in FFTalk or main Fanfare?

I’m happy to do it if that’s appropriate/nobody else wants to. The past year’s must-watch for me were Dorohedoro, Akudama Drive, and honestly not much else.
posted by Ryvar at 4:53 AM on January 15, 2021

I had been thinking about this too. You should do it!

(I have some thoughts on the 2020 season, but I'll wait 'til there's a thread for it. ʕ•̫͡•ʕ*̫͡*ʕ•͓͡•ʔ-̫͡-ʕ•̫͡•ʔ*̫͡*ʔ-̫͡-ʔ )
posted by ardgedee at 8:47 AM on January 15, 2021

So I'm surprised that Otherside Picnic hasn't been mentioned at all here. I liked the manga, and of the series premiering it's setting and plot (based on "Roadside Picnic" and urban legends) is far more original than the usual repetition of video game fantasy and Isekai
posted by happyroach at 11:34 PM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Is anyone here having the problem we're having with Funimation where some episodes just don't stream? Eg, for us the second episode of "Cells at Work" and first episode of "CaW: Code Black" won't stream at all, the app appears to be treating them as missing files regardless of device reboots, router reboots, day of the week, etc. We're using AppleTV, fwiw.
posted by ardgedee at 10:08 AM on January 18, 2021

Heck with doing a 2020 wrap-up thread in Fanfare, it sounds like something that would make a good post on the blue.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:15 PM on January 18, 2021

No 2020 wrap-up can be complete without mention of Eizouken. I also really liked Id: Invaded and In/Spectre.

First episode of Wonder Egg Priority left me feeling annoyed and underwhelmed. I hope there's some kind of payoff in the next 2 episodes, as my impression of episode 1 is it's trying to do Ikuhara but failing.

There are A LOT of anime this season, but none of the first episodes have made a strong impression with me at this point. I hope at least one of them manages to pull me in with their second episode the way Zombieland Saga did, where I was a bit meh after episode 1 but was completely sold after watching episode 2.
posted by needled at 4:57 PM on January 18, 2021

My drops so far: Kemono Jihen (Dark, gross, and... boring.), Wixoss (I really liked the original. This... is not that.), and I tried to watch Ex-Arm. It didn't even give me enough to laugh at. It almost felt like they were trying to troll the audience. Or, maybe just Crunchyroll?

Favorites so far are Wonder Egg Priority and Horimiya. I'm also a bit surprised at how much I'm enjoying Mushoku Tensei.
posted by Citrus at 7:16 PM on January 18, 2021

After 3 episodes I think I'm in on for the rest of Back Arrow. It's like Code Geass and Gurren Lagann had a love child. And if Kamina and Ryuko (Kill La Kill) had a baby he'd look and talk just like the nominal main character. Not surprising, given the folks involved with this series.

So far it's a fun old-school mecha show that's had some LOL moments for me with the shoutouts to the aforementioned older series.
posted by needled at 8:15 AM on January 23, 2021

Does anyone want to make a post about the new Ghibli movie Earwig and the Witch, solely so that I can complain at length about how bad it was
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:34 AM on February 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

So far my favorite is "So I'm a Spider, so what?" Which is the perfect example of levelling up in a rogue like crpg. And the main character's kinda desperate, kinda snarky running commentary is hilarious.
posted by happyroach at 2:30 PM on February 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was considering doing an Earwig and the Witch post, but it should probably wait until next month when the movie comes out on streaming and more people have a chance to see it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:17 PM on February 11, 2021

isn't it already on HBO Max? Or did I make that up? (I saw it on NHK in December so I have been rearing to go for a while now)
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:09 PM on February 11, 2021

Oh, apparently it is. Weird, when I looked it up online the release date was listed as late march for streaming.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:24 PM on February 12, 2021

Midseason checkin!

Things we're pretty reliably looking forward to each week:

"Back Arrow": A kind of a hybrid in spirit of Trigger at its best and 1980s mecha anime. The story is much better than you'd expect; and the world-building is rich. There's a feel of the story being the natural byproduct of somebody setting a bunch of people on a map and watching them work things out on their own rather than being guided by the author's hand, which is pretty refreshing when so many of these shows, even the better ones, have a feel of being dragged around to ensure certain plot beats happen or to recover when the story's begun to drag. Maybe the best show this season.

"So I'm a Spider...": This is a weird show on a lot of fronts. On the one hand the show seems to have a generous budget, it's considerably more lavishly produced than the usual isekai. On the other, there's a dearth of the sort of design talent and attention to details that usually comes attached with the money. Also, the animation quality has been improving rather than deteriorating. We're in this primarily for the MC's spirited mile-a-minute soliloquies/rants, because the segments involving the human characters tends to feel like padding.

"Horimiya": Just a bittersweet and weirdly lovely high school romance, with plenty of well-earned moments of sweetness and/or slapstick, and absent of most of the usual tropes. The women look more distinct from each other than is usual in anime and without voices as unnaturally high-pitched as anime usually has. Also maybe the best show this season.

"Heaven's Design Team": Kind of a workplace comedy, kind of edutainment about biology, set in the heavenly realm where God is the nightmare client of a creative team contracted to design new animals. It should be boring but it isn't and is more than occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.

"Suppose a Kid from the last Dungeon...": Silly and stupid. Everybody is stupid. The OP title character is also stupid but at least is earnest and kind. Could do with more fight scenes because whoever's making this is pretty good at comedic fight scenes.

"Anime Kapibarasan": Holy shit this is so intense, guys.

Things we watch 'cause they're there:

"Dr. Ramune": One of those Shonen Jump type stories where the characters are all drawn with gangly limbs and the main character is inexplicably aggro and annoying and sometimes you can only tell he's the good guy because he's the one with plot armor. Despite that and despite (or because of) the extremely weird (and always food-related) illnesses of his patients, it's been a good watch once we're caught up on everything in the must-watch list.

"That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime 2": I warned y'all, the story turns unnecessarily grim and unnecessarily forks in all kinds of unnecessary directions, and they apparently decided to compensate for this by upping the t&a content. sigh.

"Cells at Work!!" and "Cells at Work!: Code Black": The second season of CaW is just... not as good as the first season. There's a tryhard atmosphere around the production that's sapped away the easy-to-like nature of the first season. CaWCB is more interesting but like in "Slime" they tried to compensate for the grimdark stories by upping the tits and ass content. sigh. Anyway part of why this has slid down the list is simply because the streaming bugs in Funimation's app has locked us out of most of the episodes, and while Crunchyroll is also streaming both CaW series, they seem to only get updated whenever somebody remembers they were supposed to have done so weeks earlier.

Not Sure:

"Kiyo in Kyoto": Crunchyroll just started streaming this on Thursday. It's a low-key food anime set in a maiko dorm in old Kyoto. Each episode consists of three mini-episodes plus the two main characters gossiping about the food in the mini episodes. This would work a whole lot better as a weekly 8-minute short, because the minimal animation and voice acting and overall low-budget feel makes things feel monotonous long before the twenty-three minute mark. (The manga, incidentally, I can recommend; there's an actual story in it, at least until a few dozen chapters along.)


"Mushoko Tensei": Of all the isekai stories to get top-flight budget and production quality, why this one?The relentless pile-on of sex and voyeurism added too much cringe to what's otherwise a pretty solid adventure story. Unlike the manga, I can't easily skim past that cringy shit.

"Wonder Egg Priority": meh.
posted by ardgedee at 7:22 PM on February 27, 2021

Is anyone watching SK8: The Infinity? It's bonkers, but fun. Makes me wish I had learned to skateboard.
posted by mogget at 11:01 PM on February 27, 2021

No additional drops for me.

Unlike ardgedee, I seem to be able to handle or elide the "cringy" part of Mushoku Tensei. There's clearly a lot of context from the book that can't be fit into a 1-cour adaptation. But, the whole theme here is that someone who starts out being a crappy person on all manner of levels gets a second chance to rebuild who he is, and it's necessarily a slow process that happens - not always completely successfully - over a new childhood. This can still go wrong in a lot of ways, but I actually think that the storytelling here is strong in a way that I didn't expect it to be.

My actual favorites this season, though, are Horimiya and Wonder Egg Priority. But, man, WEP seriously should start each episode with a progressively larger trigger warning.

And, while I'm still watching it, there's something that's really bothering me about Ura Sekai Picnic. Basically, one main character is very much infatuated with the other. But, the converse side of that relationship is reading to me as one of a sort of abuse. Maybe I'm wrong, and this will go another way as the series continues. But, I'm feeling way more cringe from this show than any other that I'm watching this season.
posted by Citrus at 6:23 PM on February 28, 2021

> Unlike ardgedee, I seem to be able to handle or elide the "cringy" part of Mushoku Tensei. [...] the whole theme here is that someone who starts out being a crappy person on all manner of levels gets a second chance to rebuild who he is, and it's necessarily a slow process that happens - not always completely successfully - over a new childhood. This can still go wrong in a lot of ways, but I actually think that the storytelling here is strong in a way that I didn't expect it to be.

My problem is partly that the anime really revels in the MC's voyeurism. They can make the point without having to force the viewer to indulge as thoroughly as they're putting the dude on blast for. (Deliberately vague spoiler: There's a long story arc later in the LN and manga in which the MC does actually seem to develop maturity. And then an even longer story arc after that in which you finally understand that they'll forever dangle in front of you the promise of a high road yet to be taken. This is part of what's informing my reaction to the anime production. Well, that and a fair amount of crankiness that of all the isekai getting anime adaptations in the past few years, this is the one that gets the topline production.)
posted by ardgedee at 7:28 AM on March 1, 2021

What I'm still watching

Wonder Egg Priority: this is me screaming. I mean everything about it is is excellent, and it also seems to be treating things like bullying and harassment and sexual abuse in a different way than other shows do. But damn that's painful.

So I'm a Spider: a delight. The rapid info dumps of power-upsv works much better than the lists that dominated the light novels, helped by Kumoko's wonderfully high speed comic voice. By contrast, the human sections are bland and dull, which I suspect is part of the point.

Heaven's Design Team: animals are word, and vague clients are annoying. I'm enjoying the comedy of this very much.

Otherside Picnic: the translation from the LJs and manga is off here, moving things around and losing some if the impact. But I'm a sucker for Roadside Picnic style stores, and combining it with urban legends is good.
posted by happyroach at 9:15 AM on March 1, 2021

> Is anyone watching SK8: The Infinity? It's bonkers, but fun.

Yes! It's my turn brain off show this season, and I'm enjoying it very much. Except for the OP song that's been continuously playing in my head for a couple of days now ...

The ensemble cast is great, although Adam is a bit much. Hope he gets toned down a bit or meets some kind of spectacular end.
posted by needled at 5:33 PM on March 3, 2021

> Wonder Egg Priority: this is me screaming. I mean everything about it is is excellent, and it also seems to be treating things like bullying and harassment and sexual abuse in a different way than other shows do. But damn that's painful.

I think that's a large reason why I dropped the show. I'm just not in the right mind space for that kind of stuff currently. I want funny and sweet and fluffy and bonkers fun.

On that note I've really been enjoying Pui Pui Molcar, which can be watched on the Bandai Namco YouTube channel. It's amazing how much story can be packed into less than three minutes of dialogueless stop-motion animation.
posted by needled at 5:42 PM on March 3, 2021

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