For today’s article, I thought I’d once again take a “year in review” approach covering my thoughts on the 2021 anime series that I’ve seen, and giving each one a rating / grade based on what I thought of it.
Welcome to “12 Days of Anime 2021”, a writing challenge in which I look to have an article a day for 12 days leading up to Christmas, all centered in some way on anime or anime-related topics. You can find last year’s stories at this link over on Anitay, as well as re-posts of my 2018 and 2019 series here on Medium. Big, big thanks to Stanlick for creating the header image outline template.
Given the length, I’m actually just going to cover the first half of the year (more or less) in this article, and finish up in my next one. Note that all opinions here are my own, and they’re not all going to be super in-depth. For organizational sake, I present them separated by the seasons they started in when applicable, roughly by starting date.
Tenchi Souzou Design-bu
So I’ve already covered this in my original Early Impressions article for Anitay, and then with my follow-up earlier this series. I won’t belabor too much more on it, other than to say, it was cute, it was fun, it was mildly educational. Rating: B-
Yuru Camp△ Season 2
Aww yeah, now this is the good stuff. Three years between seasons was too long to wait. Featuring more adventures with the Outclub, Nadeshiko taking her own first solo camping trip, Rin’s holiday solo trip, and a joint Outclub-Rin expedition, this season easily kept pace with, if not surpassing, the first season. Speaking of mildly educational, I’m involved with Scouting with my son, and there were days (especially when I did outdoor leader training right around the end of this season) when I wanted to just set up clips from this show for the Scouts and go “…here. here’s some good camping advice” :D Asaka and Eri Sasaki return to again do the opening and closing themes, respectively, and now I really need to get back to reading the manga, because it’s such a great series. Rating: A++
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (Jaku-Chara Tomozaki-kun)
Man, this show. I expected to end up hating it at some point, and I never really did. While it may be a bit compressed, seeing Tomozaki actually starting to put the pieces of real relationships together by actually working on them, and sometimes deciding that he doesn’t want to follow certain pieces of advice because it makes him feel like a fraud, was actually rather refreshing. At least, for the single season we got, it did make some of his interactions with the main girl who’s ‘coaching’ him, frustrating at the end. Like, seriously, can’t she work with him on that, instead of just being ruthlessly whatever it “takes” in terms of trying to build relationships? Anyway, there’s an OVA I need to watch still, and I could see myself watching a second season if they brought one. Rating: B
So I’m A Spider, So What? (Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?)
Oh man, this show. I loved most of the story, so much that I’ve started reading the Light Novels (got up through Volume 5, which is I think roughly where the series ends as well). I mean, I’m all up for listening to Aoi Yuuki talk to herself, and she did a killer job at it. However, there were some serious animation problems along the way. I’d love another season, but they really gotta get that animation straightened out. Rating: A for story, C for animation, call that a B+ overall.
The Quintessential Quintuplets Season 2 (5-toubun no Hanayome ∬)
Man, this season moved some stuff along. Like turning the potential harem into sister v sister (v sister v sister v sister) contention. And the Nino Train:
All that, and an Ichika heel-turn for a while, too. And yet, this is still NOT the most blatant harem show I’ve seen this year (not even just the most blatant one with HanaKana in it — more on that next time). Rating: A-
Cells at Work Season 2 (Hataraku Saibou!!)
More HanaKan, but no harem. Also, not enough actually of HanaKana’s Red Blood Cell, in my opinion. Cute bacteria were great, but, I dunno. I was kinda bored. Rating: B-
Speaking of disappointing. There were a lot of good things going on in this show. I saw many people who didn’t like how the last several episodes spent some more time fleshing out some of the side characters, but I mostly didn’t mind that. What really bugged me though was, in the middle, Kyouko discovers a masochistic kink, with a side of making Izumi be the abusive one towards her. A story arc that engendered some heated discussions on the Anitay Discord. I know some folks are all “don’t kink-shame”, and/or glad to see BDSM-style stuff brought out a little more in the open, and while I can see that, I think what bugged me was how she was forcing Izumi into it, and worse, essentially foisting it off on those around them at times by having him treat her terribly while in public. It’s an element of, is Izumi really consenting to it, or just feeling forced to go along? And the public (and we the viewers) weren’t expecting nor consenting in being essential participants in what looks from the outside like domestic abuse. Rating: C-
Yatogame-chan Season 3 (Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki Sansatsume)
It started off as a cute little short with information about Nagoya and the surrounding areas, but it’s really gotten kind of confusing on who some of the participants are, and I totally lost the thread. Sadly, I won’t be following any further seasons, which is a shame, cuz the first and into the second season started off cute and fun enough. Rating: C
Non Non Biyori Nonstop
So, full disclosure — I didn’t watch this as it was airing, as I hadn’t watched the previous seasons yet. I did however watch those this year, along with this season, and, well, I loved it. It’s a great slice-of-life show, and if you liked the original season, I think you’ll like this. If you haven’t seen those, well, you should. Unlike the second season, Non Non Biyori Repeat, this season even advances in time, giving Renge the chance to experience even more growing up. Rating: A
DROPPED: Cells at Work! Black: I watched the first episode, and between that and the second season of the original, I just wasn’t feeling the show. Maybe I’ll come back later and pick it up, but not sure. Rating: Incomplete.
NOT WATCHED YET:
So, there were several series I intended to watch, and may still get to some day, but didn’t this go-round.
Re:Zero 2nd Season Part 2: The simple answer is, I haven’t seen Part 1 either. The longer answer is, I got behind on the OVAs and movies, and just haven’t been motivated yet to try and catch up and finish, although I probably should.
That Time I Was Reincarnated As A Slime 2nd Season: Pretty much similar reasoning to Re:Zero — I haven’t finished the OVAs (there were like, a half dozen or something, seriously!) between the first and 2nd seasons.
Log Horizon 3rd Season: Yet another series where I’m behind. This one’s partially a casualty of COVID, as I was watching the original series with a friend who’s a big LH fan, and I haven’t felt like finishing without him.
Fruits Basket: The Final
Really, it was a fine conclusion to the whole thing. I know some people are unhappy that the primary antagonist of the whole thing seems to get off pretty lightly, but from what I read, that sounds like an issue in the source as well. Rating: A-
The Slime Diaries: That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime (Tensura Nikki: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken)
A more light-hearted set of side stories, mostly about Rimuru importing various Japanese festivals into his new country, along with just general daily life, farming, building, etc., mainly distinct from the main storyline (i.e., from that second season I haven’t seen yet). It was decent, but got a little repetitive. Rating: B-
Again, see my Early Impressions as well as the follow-up for more details. Started off well, but for me, it slipped a bit at the end. Rating: B+
Zombieland Saga: Revenge
So, I don’t “do” idol shows. Zombieland Saga is an exception. And this second season I think successfully carried on from the first without any drop in quality. We find out more about why the zombies were brought back. We get a fantastic two-parter with Yugiri’s backstory. We learn more about the reporter from the first season, and what he’s thinking. There’s one hell of an ending. Really, the only thing that’s missing was The Legendary Yamada Tae’s backstory, although she DOES get a whole episode of her own to shine. Rating: A+
I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (Slime Taoshite 300-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level Max ni Nattemashita)
Aoi Yuuki taking on another isekai. At least this time she gets to be human, albeit an immortal witch whose desire to just chill and have a peaceful lifestyle is eventually shattered when she discovers she’s pretty much the strongest person in the world after killing slimes every day for 300 years just to earn money. It was a nice little show for the most part, but the elf-girl got a little obnoxious, and the demon king’s yuri-creeping on the main character got a little old. It at least gave us something different in being both a female-led isekai, and while the main character is definitely over-powered, it’s also NOT the traditional power fantasy show either. But overall, it was just… fine. Rating: C+
Osamake: Romcom Where The Childhood Friend Won’t Lose (Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Love Comedy)
Casting Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Quintessential Quintuplets’ Futarou, amongst many other roles) as the lead role in a harem comedy at this point is practically a TV Trope unto itself. And here he is in another. Spoiler alert: The title is (presumably) true because almost all the harem members turn out to be childhood friends of his in different ways. It has some convoluted plotting by various characters and decisions that may or may not make sense. I watched the whole thing, and while it was better than Oresuki, that’s not the highest of bars, and it barely cleared it. Rating: D+
Ahh, now we’ve got something. Super super shorts to go with the then-upcoming Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid season 2. Great, cute, fun, and while I may be misremembering something I read, I think KyoAni also used it to give particular experience to some of their newer animators and such. Rating: A+
Dropped/Not Watched Yet: None. It was a light list for this season. Spider carried over, and this is when I started watching Non Non Biyori.
Tomorrow, I’ll return with the second half reviews. Hope you’ll return as well!
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