Best Anime Couples in 2021

best anime couples in 2021

As 2021 came to a close I realised that while I’d watched more than a handful of romances I was a bit stuck as to who I thought the best anime couples for the year were. Largely because while some stories ended up not being so bad there were plenty of couples that didn’t really click for me.

Still, here are my five favourite anime couples from 2021 and as always I’d love it if my readers would throw their choices in the comments as that will help others find some cute anime couples to watch. That said, there will be some spoilers below for those who have not finished the anime.

Number 5: Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Rudy and Eris)

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation

Are they the cutest anime couple of 2021?

I’ll be the first to admit technically these two aren’t an official couple even at the end of part two despite getting physically more intimate than many anime characters get ever in an anime. However, Eris and Rudy have been together for a long time and endured a lot, particularly after the two found themselves flung to a totally different continent.

What I like about the two in Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is that they are just two kids growing up and they make mistakes and they don’t know how to comfort the other even when they want to. I loved the scene after Rudy had met with his father and Eris wanted to help him but was completely flustered as to how. I also enjoyed seeing Rudeus’ reaction after he used his demon eye to finally beat Eris in a match and then how guilty he felt for feeling proud.

As much as there are some elements of Jobless Reincarnation that continue to put me a little bit off-side, the relationship that has grown between these two isn’t one of them because it really feels like a relationship that would have grown from the situation they’ve been through.

Number 4: Horimiya (Hori and Miyamura)

Horimiya episode 5
Cute anime couple

Initially I loved the meeting between Hori and Miyamura and the way the two felt very comfortable being themselves around each other. They were on the fast track to being one of my favourite anime couples of all time. And all things considered, they are still pretty adorable together however Miyamura loses so much of what seemed to define him early in the series and Hori, for some reason, occasionally asks him to verbally abuse her and it is clear he isn’t very comfortable with it.

If that situation had been handled with a bit more sophistication than perhaps these two would be higher on my list of anime couples from 2021 but as it stands Horimiya ended up being close but not exactly what I was looking for in a romance. As it stands though, it is an anime romance that is worth watching as despite its short comings there’s some genuinely good moments and you can see that while some of the ideas don’t get fleshed out in the anime that they have great potential.

Number 3: Taishou Otome Fairytale (Tamahiko and Yuzuki)

Taishou Otome Fairytale Episode 3
Best anime couple 2021?

How does love start anyway? In Taishou Otome Fairytale it starts with a boy being crippled and sent away from his family and a girl being bought from her poor family and sent to marry him. That could have been the start of a pretty stagnant relationship of carer and patient but instead it was the start of a truly adorable anime couple.

Tamahiko and Yuzuki really are perfect for one another. Her positive and optimistic attitude brings him out of his depression and awakens the caring side in him that tries to stop her from overworking herself and reaches out to her when she’s in trouble. This anime has so many cavity inducing moments it would be hard to list them all but pretty much any moment where the two get to be together and have a moment to be honest with one another is enough to make your heart beat jump a little.

If being cute was enough to sell a story that Taishou Otome Fairytale would definitely have won in 2021 but as it stands these two are only number 3 on the list for cute anime couples.

Number 2: Banished From The Hero’s Party (Red and Rit)

Banished From The Hero's Party Episode 8

2021 must be the year for anime couples that do more than just hold hands and blush at one another. Banished From The Hero’s Party gives us Red and Rit and while the anime itself was kind of meh the relationship between these two characters was anything but.

Rit encounters Red after he has set up his apothecary shop and decides to move in with him (to help of course) because she was already in love with him from when the hero’s party had helped her to save her kingdom. The two progress from living under the same roof to sleeping in the same bed, sharing a bath together and are generally far more physical than we normally get in these generic fantasy stories. Though that alone wouldn’t be enough to secure them the number 2 spot.

Where these two really do shine as an adorable anime couple is in their mutual trust and respect for the other and their skills. Red used to travel with the hero’s party and has a vast array of skills and knowledge even if he wasn’t the strongest warrior. Rit on the other hand is a powerful adventurer in her own right. Both of these characters understand the others strengths and weaknesses and they come through for each other when it is needed. Now that is a cute anime couple.

Number 1: Fruits Basket the Final Season (Tohru and Kyo)

Fruits Basket Final Season

After three seasons Tohru and Kyo finally ended up together in Fruits Basket. Not that it was too much of a surprise given Tohru’s declaration of being a cat fan way back in episode 1, but still with her timid nature and Kyo’s general lack of social skills it is still kind of a small miracle that these two ever progressed.

And it was so worth the wait. It was one of those moments where you weren’t sure whether you should be smiling, cheering or crying as these two adorable characters finally overcame so much emotional baggage to just let themselves be happy and with the person who makes them happy. What makes these two the best anime couple is that they are just such deserving people and they also have had the benefit of two previous seasons to do a lot of the groundwork for their relationship. 11 or 12 episodes doesn’t seem to be quite long enough to really delve into a deep romance.

Anyway, Tohru and Kyo are definitely my choice for best anime couple in 2021 and are pretty high on my list for best couple ever. But I’ll turn it over to the readers now.

Who are you favourite anime couples from 2021?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Is It Okay To Enjoy An Anime When The Characters Act Questionably?

Questionable Feature

Are characters under some obligation to behave in an ‘appropriate’ manner in order for their stories to be enjoyed?

At first I thought the answer to this question was obvious. Of course characters in a story couldn’t all act in a way that necessarily matched the morality of the society that produced them (or individual groups within that society). To start with, we’d never have any villains ever again, unless you think someone chewing gum too loudly is villainous in which case perhaps we could have a plot about young teens ridding the city of petty annoyances.

However, when I stop trivialising the question I realise what people are actually asking is whether or not the protagonists, or the characters the audience is asked to sympathise with and somehow connect with, should behave in what someone believes is an appropriate manner?

More than that: Is it wrong to enjoy the story when they don’t?

Spoilers for Tensura 2, Horimiya and Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation.

image editor output image1319632001 1639250042333

As an anime fan who writes on the internet, I’m well aware that some commentators, reviewers, and groups can be quite vocal and vicious with their criticism. Not just of an anime they personally didn’t approve of, but of people who watch and/or enjoyed that anime.

Whether they accuse people watching the showing of being perverted, degenerates, idiotic or a whole range of other unflattering words, they cast judgement on anyone who would dare to find enjoyment in something they found offensive.

And you know, while I fully support their right to be offended and to choose not to watch what they don’t want to watch, I don’t support name calling or shaming people for what they enjoyed or liked to watch given someone else enjoying an anime doesn’t hurt anybody in the slightest.


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What I find even stranger finding a character decision to be a little questionable, or even outright morally wrong, doesn’t actually make the story worse by default. Certainly, it might rub you the wrong way and maybe it will throw you out of comfortable viewing mode and you don’t want to stick around.

That’s fine. I had a friend who felt that way about Terror in Resonance. She didn’t want to watch a story where the ‘terrorists’ and their actions were being given some justification. Didn’t want to stick around to find out why they were acting as they were or even to find out if the anime ultimately did condemn them or not. Her choice. But you know, she didn’t call me sick or a degenerate because I was fascinated by the story and the characters and wanted to know what lay behind their actions. I wasn’t pro-terrorist, but I did want to see what the overall story wanted to say.

I’m pretty sure they only caused this much damage once.

Three of the anime I’ve watched this year have had moments where the main characters have had me seriously blinking and wondering about their decisions and all three cases I mostly enjoyed the series they were in. I fully understand that one of them seems to have passed without comment by the community at large, another had a brief flare up of words and then slipped away, and the third seemed to really bring out some strong opposition and almost as vocal a defence.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 – Not So Controversial

Part of me wonders why there hasn’t been more discussion around Rimuru’s actions in Tensura season 2. I mean, I guess part of it is the fantasy world is very removed, it is a second season so people are more or less acclimated to the series, it clearly isn’t intended to be taken actually seriously, etc, etc…

Yet, when faced with the death and injury of some of the people in his city of monsters Rimuru very quickly makes a call to transform into a demon lord in the hope of bringing them back to life and will gain the power to do this by literally slaughtering the entire opposing army.

slime s2 9
Nope – you are going to die.

It’s an abrupt decision given barely any digestion time, eagerly accepted by Rimuru’s followers, and acting upon with frighteningly swift and efficient brutality. This wasn’t a war. It was barely even a fight. It was open slaughter.

While some argument might be made that it was in retaliation for an act of heinous violence by the human army first, there is definitely a discussion about how proportional the response was particularly given no effort was made at a peaceful solution or simply defence. Rimuru went from harm-no-human to kill-every-member-of-the-army in less than a single episode and the audience seemed to largely be expected to support or endorse his actions.

Now would Rimuru have had any success at finding a peaceful solution?

Given the extreme hatred the church had of monsters and the callous attitudes of the nobles leading the army it seems unlikely.

Did every single soldier need to die? Were they all fanatics with a monster hating mentality or were some just soldiers who signed up to protect their country and feed their family who were ordered to march out? We’re not supposed to ask.

Is Rimuru right to pursue a resurrection of his people at the cost of all these souls? Again, we’re not supposed to ask. We’re supposed to be hoping a miracle occurs and not actually looking at the cost of it.

Does enjoying this mean you are a horrible person who would support genocide in real life? – That’s a firm no.

I actually did enjoy this sequence though I felt Slime missed out on the opportunity to really explore the moral quandary here. Then again, people don’t tune in to watch Tensura for moral quandaries that might lie therein. They watch to see Rimuru bounce about, enjoy being held by various women, and occasionally devour monsters while getting another power-up.


Horimiya – A Brief Splash

When I’d only watched the first 3 episodes of Horimiya for my watch or drop post, I started to see a few arguments and comments online regarding a particular line by Horimiya that some people found homophobic. Basically, Hori tells Miyamura that if he leaves her it wasn’t allowed to be for a guy.

Horimiya 7
Not a character reaction to the line – just representative of some of the online comments.

Now, whether people in the thick of this one who were watching week to week found it was a little more intense, from my point of view there seemed to be a whole bunch of people voicing their opinion one way or the other as to whether the character was homophobic or not and then it just kind of disappeared off my radar. While there might still have been comments in my twitter feed connected to it, I didn’t really notice.

I actually didn’t have too much of a conflict with Hori’s statement. It was ridiculous and illogical but I think she was genuinely flustered and it wasn’t something she repeated or reinforced – more something that was blurted out in the heat of a moment and then the story moved on.

Now, while her ‘no guys’ statement could definitely be seen as reinforcing standard relationship views and excluding other communities (and it would probably be more offensive to people who had life experience here) it didn’t feel to me like the anime was pushing an agenda and more that a teenage character in the anime had said something that wasn’t great in one of her less than amazing moments.

Actually, Horimiya caused me more concerns with Hori herself encouraging her boyfriend to verbally and at one point physically abuse her. Largely because if removed from the sweet premise of the anime with two characters who genuinely care for each other, Hori could get herself into an actually abusive relationship if her partner took advantage.

Again, the anime wasn’t taking this darker view of the issue or trying to encourage people to act in a particular way, but you could certainly view the series and that aspect of Hori in a concerning light. Again, while I definitely thought about the issue, considered the implications outside of the anime for people in the real world, and I did wonder if perhaps the anime could have just left that part out, I also continued to enjoy watching Horimiya.


Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation – Ouch

Gear up your pitchforks and placards or get your best defence slogans ready because this one caused a stir. I’d raised my own concerns about some of the creepiness of Rudy in my watch or drop post and placed this one at a maybe for completing.

I wasn’t concerned whether anyone else enjoyed it or not but for me Rudy as a character wasn’t someone I was finding it easy to get behind so while there were a lot of aspects to the story I kind of enjoyed, I was a little conflicted. That said, I’ve now finished Jobless Reincarnation so have read a number of other reviews of the series. They are diverse to say the least.

Jobless A 3
I don’t think the internet waits for later, Zenith.

This one has had the main character called a pervert and a paedophile and a whole bunch of other less than pleasant things. Viewers of the show have been called degenerate in some tweets and reviews, particularly if they dare to claim anything less than utter disgust with the title. And all of this because a reincarnated middle-aged man looks at girls?

Well, not really. He goes a bit further and there’s a few scenes that do hit me personally as being quite uncomfortable viewing even though the anime doesn’t want you to think about it. It really wants to play it off for laughs and usually has a slap-stick moment of Rudy getting kicked or punched afterward, though occasionally he just kind of walks away with a creepy grin on his face.

However, while there are those howling about this anime and its poor taste, there are also those singing its praises as being a different kind of isekai, for its world exploration, for the way magic is handled. And all of these aspects of the story are actually pretty praise worthy. So we have an anime that with the exception of several main characters and their treatment of women is actually pretty good but the way some of those men treat or talk about women is pretty… well let’s just go with triggering for some.

Basically, enjoyment of this one will depend where you land. I enjoyed the series but not as much as other isekai anime that I’ve previously watched and loved because I couldn’t form much of a connection with Rudy. I don’t like him and I don’t like some of his choices. Plus, that grin of his really does creep me out.

At the same time, I actually understand why people would drop this one and decide it wasn’t for them. Equally, I get those who accept that Rudy isn’t a perfectly nice human being who is always nice and respectful to others and just watch the anime for what it is and enjoy it. While I get these two groups probably won’t really see eye to eye, I also think that they can keep their criticism to the anime itself and not to the other viewers.

So, Is It Okay To Enjoy An Anime When The Characters Act Questionably?

I’d say absolutely. Sometimes characters who act questionably are needed to really make the audience consider their choices. Sometimes it drives the narrative. Sometimes it is just a throw away action that while it might open a significant discussion around how particularly ideas and groups are represented in stories, it isn’t actually the central point of the anime so shouldn’t necessarily be enough to condemn the entire rest of the story.

Of course, it is also okay not to enjoy the anime because of the questionable character actions. That really depends on your own tolerances, trigger points and experiences, and you’ll make the decision for yourself about what you did and didn’t enjoy and why.

But what shouldn’t be okay is taking an issue with someone else for enjoying something just because you didn’t. By all means, discuss your view, put forward your reasons, write your own article or make your own video explaining why something is a problem, but leave the name calling out of it.

Be sure to share your experiences with an anime where you haven’t necessarily agreed with the choices made by a character or a time when you got called out for enjoying something someone else found offensive. Let’s have an open and respectful discussion.

Images in this article from:

  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8bit. 2021.
  • Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. Dir. M Okamoto. Studio Bind. 2021.
  • Horimiya. M Ishihama. Cloverworks. 2021.
  • Terror in Resonance. S Watanabe. MAPPA. 2014.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Horimiya Series Review – Fascinating Anime Romance

Horimiya Review

Will Hori and Miyamura get their happily ever after in Horimiya?

As much as I am a fan of great action and horror, I must admit I’m also a sucker for romantic comedies, provided the comedy lands its mark and doesn’t take away from the sweet ‘awww’ inducing moments; so Horimiya seemed like an interesting anime to pick up.

This is definitely a by-product of many a rainy afternoon spent bingeing rom-com movies with my mother growing up and I will admit these stories are still great, feel good, popcorn entertainment. Sure, the genre relies heavily on coincidences and far-fetched overly dramatic moments but if the personalities work the emotional high when the end credits begin rolling is very real.

Basically, I jumped into Horimiya not necessarily looking for narrative depth. I was looking for characters I could care enough about that I wanted them to get to a happily ever after and I wanted to connect with enough to get taken on the emotional journey they are on. As such, Horimiya works pretty well as a romantic comedy and manages to mostly hit the right notes.

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Hori getting flustered (you'll see this a lot).
Image from Horimiya anime 2021.
Hori on the other hand gets flustered by everything.

Horimiya primarily follows the relationship that develops between popular pretty girl (at school), Hori, and the loner kid, Miyamura and the changes that both go through after they see beneath the surface of each other’s personas. The transformation is a lot more noticeable in Miyamura who comes out of his shell significantly and even does that standard symbolic hair-cut mid-season which coincidentally also reveals his heavily pierced ears to his class mates.

However, Hori is also changed by Miyamura’s presence in her life and the relationship between these two sets off a chain of effects within the class and across a number of groups within the school so while the majority of the time focuses on the main couple we’ll see a number of characters navigating relationship drama across the 13 episodes.

Honestly though, I think Horimiya suffers from a little bit of clutter. The student council members, particularly Remi and Kakeru add little to the overall story and mostly just eat screen-time that could be better spent else-where. The love triangle (quadrangle) formed around Hori’s friends Ishikawa and Yuki definitely stretches coincidence thin and again adds a bit of bloat that the story didn’t really need.

Admittedly, I was a little more invested because Ishikawa and Yuki were at least closely involved with Hori and Miyamura’s story but again, it all just felt like a bit of distraction from the main plotline.

I’ll tie up my other negative observations about Horimiya and then we’ll jump to the positives, because there are a lot more positives than negatives for this series. In my watch-or-drop post after watching three episodes, I made the comment that some of the comedy didn’t quite land and that continues to be an ongoing issue for the anime.

The majority of the humour works relying on the reactions of characters to things and for the most part fits in with the story and adds a few laughs. Occasionally though there will be a set-up or joke that just leaves you wondering why it was left in as it clearly breaks the overall flow and adds nothing.

Don't mess with Miyamura - Image from Horimiya anime 2021.
Perfectly sound reasoning really.

The other minor negative, and it will depend on your view, comes from some of Hori’s requests as her relationship with Miyamura progresses. They could have actually explored this a lot more in a serious relationship story but in a romantic comedy, her requests that Miyamura speak badly to her and at one point he hits her, really didn’t sit well with me.

I think this was largely because these moments were played for laughs and also because it kind of came out of nowhere and about an episode later that part of their relationship disappeared altogether so they didn’t explore it at all. It just felt like a lost opportunity or as something that wasn’t really well thought out, thrown in for a laugh and then abandoned.

Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting a deep exploration of relationships from a rom-com but then why include it at all if you do nothing with it?


With those points out of the way though this anime is pretty charming. The chemistry between Hori and Miyamura is solid and scenes which focus on these two, particularly on Miyamura’s many visits to Hori’s home, are all pretty brilliant. The developing relationship from forming a friendship, to dating, to getting physical, through to being engaged and then graduating high school together all feels pretty natural because these two work so well together.

I also genuinely loved Miyamura’s interactions with Hori’s family as they essentially accepted him as one of the clan from the beginning.

Feel the serenity - Miyamura in Hori's living room. Image from Horimiya anime. 2021.
Miyamura remains the star performer and I’m thinking he’s going to be my pick for best male character this year (bold claim, I know).

Likewise Miyamura’s developing friendship with Ishikawa feels relatively natural, particularly after they get into a fight and then get over it. Other characters, like Sawada felt a little less natural as they intruded on the plot line, but still had some solid character moments throughout.

And while I may have found some of the other relationships stole time away from the main couple, the story does make an effort to give closure on most of these by the end. This is helped by the plot finishing with the graduation of most of the characters from high school as it gives a natural end point to part of their lives, but it is effective even if we’ve seen this kind of thing many times before.


Visually this anime is great to look at with solid character designs and great colour palettes to set the tone for each scene. It isn’t an animation heavy weight and there will be a lot of still background characters and lots of scenes with characters sitting and talking, but the focus here is on the relationship and not the action. That said, it doesn’t look cheap and nasty and most of the time scenes are animated rather than stills even if animation is minimalised.

Hori is not impressed - image from Horimiya anime (2021).
Don’t mess with Hori.

The music is fantastic throughout and definitely ties the story together. The final episode definitely used this to its advantage and drove a lot of the farewell emotions through the background music. Again, for those feeling critical, it is a ploy to tug at your emotions, but it was effective and given the use of music throughout the season, it didn’t feel like a sudden add on but more part of the overall production. I loved the OP to Horimiya and didn’t skip it throughout my watch.

While there are definitely a couple of points I think could have been improved, Horimiya was a fun rom-com to watch with a great central pair. It doesn’t offer anything too new as we’ve seen characters finding out who they are, connecting with others and opening up through the final year of high school through an unexpected relationship before, but what it does offer it serves competently and entertainingly in a bright little package.

For those who like rom-coms with happy endings, Horimiya is one to watch. That said, I wouldn’t object to seeing more from these two in the future if the anime were to continue.

Images from: Horimiya. Dir. M. Ishihama. Cloverworks. 2021

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Watch or Drop? Horimiya Anime

Watch or Drop Horimiya
Hori-san to Miymura-kun

Watch or Drop? Rules

Rules modified for the Autumn 2021 season.

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. I’ll watch as much as it takes to make a decisionas to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.
Yes, we are playing for keeps around here.

Horimiya Anime First Impressions:

The Horimiya anime is a high-school romance slash slice-of-life anime with characters that are actually fairly well written and interesting (at least so far). Hori and Miyamura have some fairly good chemistry as these first few episodes take us through friendship and into somewhat stronger emotions and with the exception of the members of the student council, most of the supporting cast have so far been pretty delightful.

The student council members may be taking a few clichés too much to heart. So far the pace has been pretty good and it never really feels like we’ve come to a halt and visually it is pretty pleasing.

Series Positives:

Miyamura has been fantastic. When I first saw him in the classroom in the standard outcast otaku mode I had a moment where I was almost ready to just accept that this was going to be as standard as they come. However, from the moment he first makes Hori’s acquaintance in casual mode on he’s proven a fairly entertaining lead character. Hori has been a little less impressive so far because she’s currently stuck in the dense romantic lead trope, however there’s plenty of scope for her character to grow and I’m hoping the series utilises this as it continues.

The visuals in the first 3 episodes have been spot on. While this isn’t an animation marvel full of dynamic action, the use of colour and framing in this anime has so far been very nicely composed and it really adds to the overall impression of the characters and the story.

Finally, as I mentioned in the first impressions, the pace has been well used. We’re not rushing but we go from the characters meeting to a decent friendship within one episode as well as introducing the supporting characters and have Hori confessed to by one of the supporting characters. From there we just keep flowing forward and it feels very natural and is keeping me interested in where things are going.


Series Negatives:

Alright, it is a little generic. If you’ve seen boy and girl who both are a bit different at home to the way they appear at school who meet and become close before then this anime isn’t exactly treading new ground. Admittedly, it is doing its own version of this story and doing it well, but if originality is what you are looking for you probably won’t find it here.

The only other negative I have so far is Ayasaki who is apparently a member of the student council but is being shoved into some kind of role as a rival/antagonist even though there’s really not a lot of room or need for one in the story so far.

Maybe she’ll grow as the series continues or maybe she’ll remain the low point, however first impressions of her aren’t great as she resorts to tears in one scene to avoid accepting responsibility for her actions and then pretty much declares she’s going to ‘take’ Miyamura like some kind of possession even though she’s had like 2 encounters with him. With some more thought and better writing she could be a half-decent character but as it stands she’s the weak link in an otherwise pretty solid opening 3 episodes.

Ayasaki - She's starting something here.
Please leave, Ayasaki. Just get up and go away.

Fine, if pushed I’ll also mention that there’s a joke in episode one that just lands completely flat due to the subject matter and the fact that it is a comment from a teacher to a student that just seems completely out of place. However, outside of that mis-fire most of the humour lands provided you don’t dislike the usual anime girl slaps or flicks boy in face when she’s embarrassed or annoyed.


Karandi Excited Transparent

This was probably a super easy one to start with given it charmed me right from episode one. I am actually disappointed it isn’t finished already because I’d have loved to just binge the whole lot in one sitting. So yes, I’ll be watching the rest of Horimiya once the season is over and I’m looking forward to reviewing the whole series.

Update: Series review of Horimiya

Other Impressions:

Images from: Horimiya. Dir. M. Ishihama. Cloverworks. 2021

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James