Spring 2021 Anime Season
March 9, 2021 4:43 PM - Subscribe

Holy crap it's that time already. Place your bets! AniChart. MyAnimeList.

48 new (or sequel) full-length series, 7 new short series... maybe the anime industry is coming out of the doldrums.
posted by ardgedee (19 comments total)
"Spider" and "Back Arrow" continue, which makes me happy. Both are good, albeit in different ways and for different reasons.

On the isekai watch: "Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou Desu" is about a Japanese woman who gets isekai'd along with another woman; the MC gets disregarded because the other one is cuter, so she decides to have her best life. This is adapted from a shoujo series, and in shojo LN/manga "The MC gets disregarded and decides to have her best life" is a genre all to itself, so while it shouldn't suffer from the T&A-emphasized adaptations that other isekai have had, it could still end up annoyingly treacly. "Marimashita! Iruma-Kun 2" is hopefully as good as the first series was. "Tensura Nikki: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken" is one of many spinoffs of the "Reincarnated as a Slime" series, all of which (including this one) are pretty lightweight slice-of-life or comedy series. "Slime Taoshite 300-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level Max ni Nattemashita" has nothing to do with "Reincarnated as a Slime", it's about a woman who gets isekaied, and after developing god-tier powers from living for centuries killing slimes decides to have a laid-back life. "Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu Ω" is the second season of a relatively threadbare story about a guy isekai'd into his favorite RPG as a demon lord.

Oh well, since "Spider" continues, I'm happy.

"Super Cub" sounds interesting: A high schooler finds something to live for after buying a Super Cub motorbike and riding through the countryside. The production is, unsurprisingly, underwritten by Honda.

Most excited about "Zombieland Saga" season 2. And Thunderbolt Fantasy season 3, even though it's not appearing in AC's or MAL's listings.
posted by ardgedee at 5:07 PM on March 9, 2021

A lot of people complain about the overabundance of Isekai but what really bugs me is the sheer number of new series that overtly use video game mechanics and tropes. Friends, it's possible for a fantasy world to just... not have experience and level grinding and player classes and HP/MP. Even if (especially if?) the show in question is based on an actual video game.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:58 PM on March 9, 2021

A lot of isekai is explicitly based in gaming worlds, though, as the places the MCs get transported into. A few of them are even franchises of real RPG games, underwritten by the game companies. So having the mechanics and tropes makes sense there. For that matter, my understanding (admittedly via "white boy explains Japan to you" type things, so I'm eager to be corrected) is that western-style high fantasy became big in Japan primarily via "Zelda" and subsequent JRPGs rather than novels or manga, and the continuing success of JRPGs in console and mobile gaming has made game mechanics a natural part of the milieu. If nothing else, the appearance of a slime saying, "I'm not a bad slime" is an in-jokey pop culture reference as reliable there as, I dunno, making a "Ghostbusters" or "Terminator" or "Jaws" reference, and that's a callback to "Dragon Quest".

Setting aside the stories explicitly set within game worlds, the use of game mechanics varies a lot qualitatively. Some stories use them to good effect, (minor spoiler) like in "So I'm a Spider" where the fact the MC can view her and others' stats and to some extent edit her abilities, while her fellow isekaied classmates don't or can't, is a plot point. At the other end of the spectrum many stories just use them as a cheap form of exposition, so you can be relieved to not have to face pages of explanation of how the MC can now punch God in the face.

So I want to say I'm tired of it but I guess my real feeling about it is I find a lot of uses of it tiresome but sometimes it works.

(Sidebar: One of the more interesting isekai manga currently is "Isekai Munchkin", in which the MC gets dropped into a literal Dungeons & Dragons world rather than a literal JRPG. His only cheat is, instead of a status board, the tome he lifted off the goddess that transported him, which contains effectively the DM Guide and Player's handbook and character sheets. Being otherwise extremely underpowered even by the norms of the world's NPCs, he claws his way through using his secret knowledge and occasionally playing by Air Bud rules. If you've ever been a DM, think of the most annoying player you've had to deal with, the one who never cheats but also only plays lip service to the spirit of the game. That's this guy. The author makes sure that having what amounts to divine knowledge rarely provides more than a marginal advantage in any situation, so even with the usual MC plot armor the story stays tight and interesting. Also the indulgence in D&D tropes rather than JRPG tropes feels like a breath of fresh air in what's otherwise a pretty rote pulp swords & sorcery manga.)
posted by ardgedee at 6:08 AM on March 10, 2021

Yeah, but, Shadows House. Shadows House! Beautiful art and intriguing story.
posted by charred husk at 6:18 PM on March 11, 2021

Anything to watch with my 13yo? No sexism or overt ecchi, please.
posted by signal at 7:22 AM on March 13, 2021

For the Spring season it's too early to tell, unfortunately. We've seen recently that some animation studios are happy to append gratuitous fanservice to the squeakiest-clean source material, and it's still three weeks until those series begin airing.

My recommendation for now is to keep an eye on Anime Feminist, where the reviewers usually take pains to note which shows have adult (or adult-ish) content.

You could re-ask in the Winter 2021 thread and people can make recommendations from what's currently showing on the US streaming services.
posted by ardgedee at 12:29 PM on March 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm not too optimistic about this season just from descriptions, aside from Zombieland Saga 2, but maybe there'll end up being a few good shows with all- or nearly-all female casts.
posted by one for the books at 3:15 PM on March 13, 2021

> Anything to watch with my 13yo? No sexism or overt ecchi, please.

As ardgedee said, it's too early to tell with the new series coming in the Spring season. But Back Arrow is continuing from Winter, and I think it's a worth a try - it's a fun old school mecha series, kind of like if Gurren Lagann and Code Geass had a love child, minus the Gainax / Trigger male gaze fan service stuff. Jujutsu Kaisen, wrapping up at the end of Winter season, is another recommendation, if you and your kid are into supernatural battle shonen. Some characters say stuff that might be considered sexist but they're acknowledged meatheads who are put in their place by other characters.
posted by needled at 8:04 AM on March 14, 2021

Oh, forgot the second season of Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is in the spring season, too. I've recommended this one to other folks to watch with their children and got the thumbs up. You will need to start with Season 1, though. It's a fun school comedy which aired on NHK's Educational channel.
posted by needled at 10:19 AM on March 14, 2021

"Iruma-kun" is very good, although I recommend prescreening one or two random episodes before watching with your 13yo. While the overall premise is one of accepting people and making friends, and everything is very cartoony, it is set in Hell and there are characters like succubi and incubi (though the eroticism is about as explicit as it would be on a US prime-time sitcom, and is played for laughs). There are plenty of families in the US who wouldn't have a problem with the show but I'm certain there are also plenty of families who would.
posted by ardgedee at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2021

Anything to watch with my 13yo? No sexism or overt ecchi, please.

I like the looks of Sayonara Watashi no Cramer, which is a girls football (soccer to you yanks) story about the usual rag tag bunch of misfits becoming champions. It's based on a manga, which is available from Kodansha Comics if you want to check it out.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:00 PM on March 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm not sold on Cramer's thing where people can phase their face through fences. I understand it's supposed to be like erasing part of the eyeglasses in profile, but it's a bit much.
posted by RobotHero at 6:54 PM on April 6, 2021

Okay, I really enjoyed the first episode of ODDTAXI. It feels like the parts of indie comics that I like.
posted by RobotHero at 7:50 PM on April 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

So far Vivy is pretty good. As best I can tell, the premise is basically 'What if we had an idol contest using vocaloids, but instead 1v1 singing competitions, contestants were eliminated in 1v1 debates (which frequently turn violent) on the robot uprising spread across 100 years?'
posted by pwnguin at 2:28 PM on April 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’ve been enjoying Vivy Quite a bit. I’ve Been Killing Slimes Was also fun, but a heavy fan service episode with a new character introduction has turned me off, hopefully it won’t continue, but it was a disappointing turn. So I’m a Spider continues to be fun. I actually broke down and started reading the light novel, which has too much redundant internal monologuing. That is the basic premise of the spider portions of the anime, but editing has them not saying the same thing three different ways in succession. So mission accomplished for them. I’m a bit meh on The Slime Diaries But that may have just been my mood during the last episode. Pure slice-of-life/comedy. The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent has been interesting so far, though it would be nice if the MC had to try a little harder.
posted by TheJoven at 8:01 AM on April 27, 2021

> I’ve Been Killing Slimes Was also fun, but a heavy fan service episode with a new character introduction has turned me off, hopefully it won’t continue, but it was a disappointing turn.

I was settling in to enjoy the show as something cute and comfy and then episode 3 happened. Ugh.
posted by needled at 12:43 PM on April 28, 2021

Midseason checkin:

Sleeper of the season is easily "Odd Taxi". It works outside of a lot of conventions in anime. It's film noir with funny animals, and that's a description that would turn me off too but they make it work in part by using the tropes of each advantageously in the other. So for example the types of animals are as much as anything else standins for class roles: The cute and charismatic ones (cats, noble-looking dog breeds) are at the top of the social hierarchy, and lower-class characters comment on how impossible it can be to get ahead without, basically, having come from the right families. The entire first half of the series has been piling on characters and weaving in storylines, and now in the second half they're letting everything play out. The voice acting seems to be done almost entirely by non-anime voice actors (an actual manzai duo performs the onscreen comedy team), so there's a naturalness to the speech and tempo that doesn't otherwise exist in anime.

"Back Arrow" has done something almost every week that makes us go "what the hell?" It has been at times a retro mecha and sentai anime, high fantasy adventure, political thriller, and tribute to past Trigger productions. So it's very good but also kind of difficult to get a handle on, in part because pretty nearly everything I would want to talk about is also a pretty nasty spoiler for somebody who hasn't caught up yet.

"Zombieland Saga" started slow but it's running at full speed now. The latest episode had Tae as a central character! And made it work! Go Tae, er Number Zero!

"So I'm a Spider" is continuing to be good. The production quality is so much better than when it started out, which is in contrast to most anime getting worse as the production team deals with deadline crunches. There are at least three story arcs running simultaneously right now though, and they don't really have time to cover them all.

"Thunderbolt Fantasy" is a pretty reliably mind-blowing half-hour each week. So while in some senses it's more of what it's always been, that's kind of what makes it good. It's a challenge to get people interested though because the back histories of the main characters are so tangled at this point that the only way to really get into it is to start at the first season.

"The Saint's Magic" is supposed to be about somebody who led a shit life of hard work and no recognition and has been reincarnated into a world where she can ride on cruise control with all kinds of recognition but the fact of that feels wrong to her. So the point is basically that she doesn't have to try harder, which is supposed to make the show a mellow half-hour of chill and bishonen with just enough narrative tension to keep your interest. I can get that this doesn't necessarily sit well some times.

"Super Cub" is another half-hour of chill. The production values are better, the mouse-quiet main character a little more disturbing; there's some unpleasant past that they hint at just enough for us to appreciate the situation she's in, but if they don't fill it in I'm inclined to assume something worse happened than the author probably intended. But it's all but literally a half-hour infomercial for Honda motor bikes (and accessories) so they're probably deliberately trying to use that as leverage to imply that having a motorcycle can liberate one from worldly pains.

"Dragon Goes House Hunting" is pleasantly silly. It's about a very wimpy dragon and an elf/demonlord/realtor helping him find a place to live. I'm learning more about Japanese real estate than I would have expected, thanks to the after-credits sequences.

"Let's Make a Mug Too" is supposed to be soothing fare but some of the characters are just too annoying.

"I've Been Killing Slimes" dropped a turd in the third episode. The others have been fine but now we have to keep worrying about when they'll drop a turd again. Bleh.

The "Slime Diaries" spinoff has considerably less fanservice than the main series. It's adapted from the gag manga about the time the main characters spend on their days off between big adventures and battles, so it's got a relatively rapid-fire setup-to-punchline tempo, but the lack of a story arc also kind of lays bare how tenuous the story setup was.
posted by ardgedee at 8:03 PM on May 16, 2021

The first episode showed technique for making a cup, but I feel like I haven't learned anything about making pottery since then.
posted by RobotHero at 9:05 PM on May 16, 2021

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