Here we are ready to celebrate the best anime 2021 gave us.
2021 was definitely not the year most people were hoping for after 2020, yet for me it marked a return to my blog that I love. While I didn’t watch as many anime as I hoped and I haven’t caught up on some of the bigger hitting shows (particularly when they have previous seasons I hadn’t finished), I did enjoy consistently watching and reviewing anime each season once again and so I am going to reflect now on the best anime 2021 had to offer (from the selection of anime I watched).
Keep in mind that the choices below are entirely my own opinion and I am aware that there are other anime I’ve yet to watch. As always I encourage my readers to leave their choices in the comments below and join me in celebrating another year of anime.
Why celebrate the best anime 2021?
It is sometimes very easy as a reviewer or even just someone who watches a lot of anime to become jaded or judgemental and it is always good to remember why you fell in love with anime in the first place. It wasn’t because that first anime you saw was perfect but rather because it spoke to you, excited you, made you feel something.
Hopefully you still smile when watching anime – even ones that aren’t so great.
Fruits Basket – The Best Continuing Anime 2021
No surprise that Fruits Basket will join the list of best anime from 2021 that I am celebrating. Honestly, whether it was a new title or a continuing one, Fruits Basket Final Season was everything I could have wanted and even with the super-long epilogue of an ending I still feel so glad that after so many years from the original anime we finally got to see this whole story animated.
And it was worth the wait.
This story made me cry and smile and really connected with the characters and it was absolutely the cathartic emotional viewing experience I needed in 2021.
Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song – Best Original Anime 2021
Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song wasn’t perfect but for an original anime it came with a sci-fi story that worked and a solid lead character whose growth really made the journey feel worthwhile. All of this with some truly beautiful visuals and moments scattered throughout its 13 episode run that really just made you feel the love that must have been poured into its creation.
It ended up being one of my favourite anime from the year and given the hit and miss nature of original anime definitely proved to be one of the better ones. It really felt like someone had thought it through from start to finish and if you are curious about the creation of this anime reading about the process they went through is actually kind of interesting.
Anyway, Vivy is definitely one of the best anime 2021 had to offer in terms of being an anime that consistently made me smile just to watch it and it left an impression. I know that some viewers were less charmed by it but for me it hit all the right marks and where it fell short it didn’t seem to matter all that much while watching.
Horimiya – Best Romance Anime 2021
Okay, if I was truly honest I’d give best romance to Fruits Basket but I decided I wasn’t going to duplicate titles on this list. So that leaves me with Horimiya (because I certainly wasn’t going to give it to Koikimo and I just didn’t watch that many romances in 2021).
And Horimiya has some very solid moments that mean it isn’t exactly out of place on a best anime 2021 list. It’s just a case where despite having interesting characters and potentially interesting plot points the story very quickly skewed toward standard with the two main characters losing a lot of what made them interesting along the way.
That said, Miyamura was one of those characters I really just enjoyed spending time with throughout the season. I really could have cried when he got his hair-cut.
Saihate no Paladin – Best Isekai Anime 2021
I know, I’m opening up a whole pile of controversy by going with Saihate no Paladin for best isekai anime of 2021. I know it isn’t the most popular and I know that the slower nature of the story hasn’t got the mass appeal of others in this genre. But I also know that this is the story that will stick with me and that Will is a character I care about a lot more than a lot of isekai protagonist so for me making Saihate no Paladin the best isekai anime 2021 had to offer was a pretty simple choice.
But to be fair, I will throw a mention to Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation which has also managed to do a pretty excellent job in developing flawed characters. I don’t like it as much but I can definitely see why some people are holding it up as the best isekai and I’m certainly curious enough that I’m going to keep watching even though protagonist Rudeus really annoys me sometimes.
I’d equally like to give a shout out to Tsukimichi Moonlit Fantasy which for a comedy isekai actually still managed a fair amount of world-building and was surprisingly entertaining.
Still, for the start of what seems to be a truly epic tale, Saihate no Paladin is the place to be and honestly I think the slow pace won’t feel quite so slow if you were binge watching rather than seasonal weekly watching.
Mars Red – Best First Episode of an Anime 2021
You know how every year there’s an anime where the first episode just takes your breath away and then the rest of the series utterly fails to ever make you feel that way again? Yep, Mars Red was 2021’s offer for an anime that opened with a dramatic and interesting premise all delivered in a slow and almost theatrical manner.
By the mid-season it was clear the story was dragging its feet and direction was being lost. At no point had the characters managed to move us the way they had in the opening scenario and there was just so much that felt unnecessary. And then the ending kind of happened and I think most of us forgot Mars Red was even a thing.
And yet, that first episode deserves to be celebrated. If only the rest of the series had managed to be equally as moving.
Mieruko-Chan – Best Friends In An Anime 2021
Okay, I really just wanted to put Mieruko-Chan on the list for best anime 2021 and I knew that I couldn’t really say it was the best horror because while it does have some awesomely creepy ghost designs and some genuinely tense scenes, it really isn’t all that horrific. It certainly doesn’t make the list for best comedy.
But what it does do, and does better than so many other anime, is create a genuine friendship between protagonist Miko and best-friend Hana. Too many anime declare two characters friends and have them go through the motions of being friends but it never really feels real. Miko and Hana on the other hand are a true joy to watch together with great friendship chemistry.
I would love to see more friendships like this one and honestly I’d happily watch another season of Mieruko-Chan just to see more Hana/Miko moments.
Heion Sedia no Idaten Tachi – Best Antagonist in an Anime 2021
I kind of ended up disappointed with Heion Sedai no Idaten Tachi despite it opening on a real high note with its psychedelic colour-scheme and fairly interesting concept. The lack of ending hurt it more than anything else and maybe if the story continues I’ll get back on board. However, I do have to celebrate an anime giving us antagonists who are dynamic and interesting characters in their own right and who have hopes and dreams and react to the changing situation in a sensible manner.
No Sailor Moon villains here who essentially rinse and repeat the same plot over and over again losing every one of their lackeys before confronting and being defeated by Sailor Moon. Nope, the demons of Heion Sedai no Idaten Tachi think things through and when the ship starts sinking some of those lackeys know when to cut and run. Those who stay try to turn the situation to their advantage or to at the least ensure that their species survives.
It’s kind of interesting having villains who you actually want to know more about rather than simply waiting for them to get snuffed by the ‘good guys’. Then again, calling the Idaten the good guys might be a stretch as well because they are more a force of nature rather than in any way overly concerned with saving anyone.
Anyway, the end result is that Heion Sedai no Idaten Tachi definitely gave us the best antagonist in an anime during 2021.
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent – Best Relaxing Anime 2021
Finally, my favourite anime to just relax and switch my brain off while watching in 2021 goes to The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent. While the story is kind of slow and everything is very easy for Sei (the main character) there’s a genuine sense of calm that comes from watching this story and it is pretty enough with some great character designs for the male cast and honestly I just had fun watching it.
I suspect that this will become an anime I binge later on when I just need to shut out the noise for awhile and there’s something to be said for the perfect anime to relax to.
That said, everything about the anime is pretty ordinary and maybe that’s exactly what I needed in 2021.
What are your picks for best anime in 2021?
So those were my choices for best anime 2021 for various reasons but I’d love to know what my readers watched and enjoyed this year. Be sue to leave a comment sharing you best anime 2021 and why.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
21 thoughts on “Celebrating The Best Anime 2021”
Irina the vampire cosmonaut i think is ahead of vivy
I haven’t had a chance to try that one yet.
maybe I’m basic, but kimetsu no yaiba wasthe best anime for me in 2021 also has one of the best 1st seasons I think for an anime as well. Judging from the manga it only improves as well
To be honest, I never really remember what aired when, and I tend to forget shows and kick myself for it later, but here I go:
Best Continuing: How could it not be Fruits Basket? This was a really, really good adaption, and while there were episodes where the drama overdid it for me, they were few. Great show.
Best Original: This is the most drastic difference on the entire list. I’m guessing if I made a list of everything I watched, Vivy would appear somewhere in the low mid-tier. My own pick for best original would have to be Odd Taxi. A unique aesthetic, some of the smartest writing I’ve seen in years, great show. It’s become a cult classic, I’d say. A lot of people are saying it’s underrated: I hear that so often that I wonder if it can be true, but the mainstream does seem to ignore the show…
Best Romance: Definitely Horimiya (I know Fruits Basket is a romance, but I don’t think of it as one – I’m watching this primarily as a coming of age show, much like Kimi ni Todoke, now that I think of it.) Manga readers seem to be have largely disappointed by the Horimiya (though not to the point of calling it outright bad); I loved the show as it was; a really likable cast, down to the side characters.
Best Isekai: Probably Mushuko Tensei for me; the world building is off-the-charts. Early set-ups pay off later. It would be obvious, if the creepy aspects weren’t so distracting. Paladin is a strong contender, though. The emotional beats worked really well when it mattered.
Best first episode: Interestingly, while I could see that Mars Red had a great first episode, I didn’t actually get into it. Mars Red was a show that grew on me. I’d probably give this to Fumetsu no Anata e. That was quite a hard-hitting first episode.
Best Friends: No idea, so I might as well agree. Mieruko chan did do the friendship part really well (also the family part, I’d say – the casual everyday stuff really does feel casual).
Best Antagonist: Idaten really did have pretty good antagonists, so I might as well just agree. Not sure if I can count the Singular Point in Godzilla Singular Point? It’s not anything character-like; its a really involved SF concept, something I’m not used to seeing in anime (and something I appreciate as an SF fan).
Best Relaxing: I really did enjoy Seijo, and the genre was… not quite as well populated as I’d like. But I still think I’d give that to Super Cub; I had some minor problems with the show (for an advertising show, I’d really wish they’d paid more attention to proper safety), but the coming-out-of-depression angle was really well done, and I loved the main’s dopey grin when she realised she enjoyed herself.
Thanks for sharing your choices.
I expected most people would go for Mushuko Tensei over Paladin for best isekai but while I’m keen enough for more of Mushuko Tensei, Paladin is an anime I’ll be really disappointed with if there isn’t another season (sort of another Grimgar all over again because I loved that and then it just stopped).
I still haven’t quite gotten to Odd Taxi. I intended to catch up with that one given the positive reviews when it was airing but just haven’t found the time yet.
Jujutsu Kaiden was one of the best animes for me in 2022. Maybe best action? 😂
That is still on my list of anime to catch up on.
Well, I didn’t watch any of these anime in 2021 (I suspect I am really out of touch with the rest of the anime watching world!) so I can’t really comment! 😂 But I’ll be putting out my “best of” list for 2021 soon, so maybe you find some intersection with me there… 😛
I’ll look forward to reading the post.
The thing I liked about Idaten Tachi is that you had antiheroes squaring off against easily understood villains. After a while, all these pure lawful good heroes and evil just because they’re written that way villains get boring.
Idaten Tachi did take a bit of a different approach and the end result was quite interesting – or it would be if they actually end up finishing the story at some point.
Yeah? It would be interesting if the conflict eventually ended up with a negotiated conclusion with Idaten and Villains agreeing to specific rules.
It would at least be a bit different from the usual kill or be killed conclusions. Besides, the demons don’t seem to be too irrational and the Idaten really have no reason to kill them other than they threaten human existence so negotiations actually could happen (if they decided to bother). Then again, Ysley may have difficulty explaining his medical experimentation upon prisoners of war.
I think both sides have a bit of explaining to do.
Yeah the mass genocide caused by the demons is a bit of a problem.
You know what, let’s have the humans actually rise up and overthrow both groups.
I’m looking forward to binge-watching The Faraway Paladin so my vote for best isekai would have gone to Mushoku Tensei.
I’ve also not seen several more on your list so I’ve got some catching up to do in general…
There’s a heap of anime from 2021 I didn’t get around to and I don’t know that I will catch up in 2022. Still I enjoyed plenty of what I did watch.
Same, I’m so far behind, even when it comes to only counting what I have access too 😀
Though at least I am spoiled for choice when it comes to finding something to watch. Much better than having nothing new to watch.
It is a better problem, yeah 😀