Spring 2021 Anime Season Impressions Part 1

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

The Spring 2021 anime season decided to come back swinging with even more anime than the infamous Winter 2021 season. It was almost exhausting to watch so many, but there was a lot of anime that was quite fantastic! It will be some of the best anime we will be seeing this year. Even the worst anime of the season aren’t worse than Ex Arm and Redo of Healer. That’s why I’m going to split this one into two parts due to how many shows there were to cover. As usual, this is only covering the new anime of the season. No returning series and I’ll only cover anime reboots if they are important in some way shape or form. No rankings this time either. I’m giving my 3+ ep impressions on these shows in terms of what genre they are in. Animation is a medium of storytelling, and anime is very good at going in different directions with their stories. Let’s start, shall we? 


Sports


Battle Athletes Victory Restart (Funimation)

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Based on the manga by Yuki Nakano, this new iteration/reboot of the fan-favorite series is directed by Tokihiro Sasaki and is produced by Seven. Let me ask you a question. Remember in the Fall 2020 season there was that great Higurashi sequel reboot thing that got people to talk about Higurashi again? Well, this one will get people talking, but for all of the wrong reasons. This reboot is not good. It’s not only bad at setting up what kind of plot we are getting into, but the characters are also flat, cookie-cutter, and the animation is easily some of the worst this season has to offer. For a show that’s going to be about intense athletic challenges, the animation is very basic. No weight is put behind the movements and you think they would make the sports stuff look exciting and thrilling. It comes off like a show that was made because they made a deal to make it to keep the rights of the property more than any real passion behind it. Also, while this show may aim at a female audience, it sure loves to have a ton of male gaze elements like looking at character’s butts, and it is more interested with the yuri baiting than telling a more followable story. Also, since one character has prosthetics, couldn’t they have made it appear like something that wasn’t looking like they pulled some pantyhose over one arm and leg? Oh, and this show doesn’t earn its political space drama either. No one gives a rat’s behind about this world or the main story. Eh, either way, Battle Athletes Victory Restart is easily one of the weakest shows of the season, and the only thing it will get people talking about is the original anime from the 90s. 







Burning Kabaddi (Crunchyroll) 

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Burning Kabaddi is a sports anime based on the manga by Hajime Musashino. It’s directed by Kazuya Ichikawa and produced by TMS Entertainment. I always look for a sports anime with a unique hook. For example, this is a sports anime where the sport in question is Kabaddi, which is full-contact tag. That sounds great! Too bad that this is one of the cheapest-looking anime of the season. It doesn’t have the best animation and for a sport that I said is a more aggressive tag, then that’s a huge problem. It doesn’t help either that this is by a studio and director that are busy with other projects. Unless said otherwise, it sounds like this anime got the short end of resources. The voice acting is decent, and some of the leads are amusing, but it doesn’t stand out. It makes me wonder if this project went to someone like Studio Mappa. The animation would have been better. Even then, it has a severe case of “been there done that” in terms of its story and characters. I was honestly looking forward to this anime, so it makes me sad that it wasn’t better. It’s, at the very least, earnest in its execution that I can’t fully hate it as much as some other anime this season. 





Farewell, My Dear Cramer! (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the manga by Naoshi Arakawa, this anime adaptation was directed by Seiki Takuno, written by Natsuko Takahashi, and produced by Liden Films. Unfortunately, this is yet another sports anime this season that suffers from major production issues. It’s a show where the visuals are at some points decent, but keep leaning into the wholly mediocre territory. For a sports anime about running and kicking a ball, it all feels so stiff and lifeless like Battle Athletes. The character designs look so wonky. A friend of mine described it as if they were given the eyes and lips of a fish, and I can’t unsee it that way now. At first, it looks like they were going for a more retro-inspired design for the characters, but it’s not gone far enough to warrant the “retro” vibe, and then there are some weird inconsistent designs. It doesn’t help that it’s hard to know who is the real main character of the show. Due to it being a team of girls, it keeps shifting between the ones who play a more important role in the story. I get why they keep focusing on so many, but with how slow-paced the progression of the story is going, it doesn’t seem like we are going to know anytime soon who is the main focus, and the story isn’t good enough to care about who wins, and that’s a shame. I love the drama angle of how popularity is dropping for women-driven soccer, but that needed to be the focus, not watching the team of the story fail and deal with intensely smug champion teams. I’m so bummed that this one isn’t better, because I was hoping to find a soccer anime that I could love, but this sure ain’t it. 

Bakuten! Aka Backflip! (Crunchyroll) 

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Oh my goodness! We have an actual good sports anime this season! This original anime is directed by Toshimasa Kuroyanagi, written by Toshizo Nemoto, and produced by Zexcs. This is the sports anime of the season that has everything the other sports shows are lacking. You have beautiful animation that masterfully matches fluid and expressive 2D animation with CGI, likable and hugely memorable characters, and a story with stakes that are just big enough to keep the story moving forward, but doesn’t treat the experience like it’s the end of the world. It has incredibly wholesome energy with the story, music, and character chemistry that makes for easily one of the best shows to watch of the Spring 2021 season. 






Fantasy/Isekai

Full Dive (Funimation)

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Based on the light novels and manga by Light Tuchihi, this anime adaptation was directed by Kazuya Miura, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by Studio ENGI. This was advertised as a dark comedy take on the VRMMO anime series like Sword Art Online, but this one has a devilishly solid gimmick. The VRMMO in this anime is so realistic that there are no traditional game gimmicks and so on. It’s pretty much a game that drops you into a hard mode crafted by From Software and the teams behind those obtuse adventure games. Sadly, for as great as the first episode starts, the rest of the show, so far, has failed to live up to that first episode. It seems more comfortable explaining the more “realistic” elements of the game itself than doing something fun with them, and the characters aren’t that interesting. It also loves to slide into mean-spirited dialogue and interactions, but not balance it out to where we are rooting for anyone. The main character is dull and has every right to be mad at how he got conned into buying this game, the female lead is irredeemably awful, and it doesn’t have that flow or execution that makes anime like Konosuba work. It’s trying very hard to reconcile the game with the real world, but it’s neither fun nor interesting to be in this game world. Maybe it will get better, but when you start with such a strong first episode, only to flop hard in the second and third episodes, it makes me not want to watch the rest to see what happens. Maybe I will give it an episode or two more, but so far, it’s easily one of the biggest disappointments of the anime season. 




I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the light novels by Kisetsu Morita, this anime adaptation is directed by Nobukage Kimura and was produced by Revoroot. Yes, it’s another isekai, and yes, it is about an individual who died of being overworked. That’s why I was curious to see how they take the “I maxed out my level and now have god-tier powers, but all I want to do is be left alone.” angle the marketing made it out to be. On one hand, I think it is a smarter show than its very obvious all-woman harem elements offer. It does dive into how the lead makes sure none of her now newly adopted family members (who are of course cute monster girls) don’t make the same mistakes as she did back in the real world. It also does its job of being a cute fantasy-comedy as it has some very solid jokes. I’m just not pulled into the overall story yet. I think it’s because it feels like they took the premise and halted it for cute harem shenanigans, and while we now have two spirit girls, a dragon girl, and a clumsy elf girl, I have seen better versions of these characters before. I think it’s not hitting it out of the park fully, and maybe I’m just thinking about how Taoteba Last Dungeon and Konosuba took more advantage of their premises by the first episode. Still, I don’t hate this series, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I decided to drop it after another episode or so. I at least think the characters hold up the plot more than most isekai shows. It’s cute and harmless, and sometimes, that’s all you need. 

The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent (Funimation) 

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Based on the light novel series by Yuka Tachibana, this adaptation is directed by Shota Ihata, written by Wataru Watari, and produced by Diomedia. I was first hooked on the premise of a regular working-class woman who gets swept to another world, only to find out she was swept to this world by accident with the real “chosen one”. It’s something I haven’t seen tackled in a lot of isekai, and I fell for this show even more once she decided to sit back and do her own thing. She didn’t want to save the world or deal with some demon king, but instead, she wanted to make potions. Sei Takanashi, our lead character, ends up making the world she is in a better place by simple actions of healing and helping out the individuals that would otherwise get looked over in other isekai stories. It does have a male harem element with three guys that may or may not be crushing on her all at once, but it doesn’t feel as skeezy as other anime with these types of setups. It’s a slow burn, but it’s a burn that has been worth it. 

Dragon Goes House Hunting (Funimation) 

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Based on the manga by Kawo Tanuki, this adaptation is directed by Haruki Kasugamori and is produced by Signal. MD. You would think with a premise about a dragon wanting to find his own home with the help of a demon lord real-estate agent it would have a limited range in humor and writing, but it’s a show that knows how to expand on its setting and isn’t stuck on the elevator pitch of a premise. It’s got a great dynamic between the dragon and our real estate agent, and it uses every situation with getting the dragon a new home to have some kind of expansion on the world, the characters, or the story. It might not have the best animation since it feels like it wants to stay heavily on model due to how detailed the characters are, the show does do a good job transitioning to more comedic animation, and the jokes are funny! It’s a show that was an early favorite this season, and I’m so glad it feels like a fully realized comedy and fantasy anime. It’s probably my favorite comedy this season since shows like Combatants Must Be Dispatched have underperformed. 




Other 

Blue Reflection Ray (Funimation) 

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Based on the game developed by Gust, this video game adaptation is directed by Risako Yoshida, written by Akiko Waba, and produced by JC Staff. It’s boring. It’s supposed to be this dramatic battle royale anime with powers that revolve around girls teaming up with other girls and being defined by emotions. It does a really bad job at explaining how it all works, the characters are pretty forgettable, and I had a hard time remembering the names of the two leads. The art direction looks nice, but there is a real lack of movement. Characters will stand around to drag out scenes, and I know this is typical for anime shows, but it feels so restrictive and with such a distinct visual style, it only makes the stiffness stand out even more. There could have been a really interesting way to tackle this story and world, but I gave it the three-episode rule, and well, I won’t be watching any more beyond that.








Pretty Boys Detective Club (Funimation) 

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Based on the novel series by Nisio Isin, this anime adaptation is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, Hajime Ootani, written by Akiyuki Shinbo and Shaft, and produced by Shaft. Well, with a name like Pretty Boys Detective Club, you have to assume it’s going to be a very pretty show, and boy howdy does it have some of the best visual eye candy in terms of this show’s visual presentation. Great designs, fluid animation, and stylish visuals carry this entire show. The impressive visuals also carry into the writing of the show that is fairly dense with the first three episodes’ storyline of helping a girl find a star in the sky. It turns from a solid mystery of a heartbroken girl to the girl having the eyesight to see something she wasn’t supposed to see. It takes a huge leap, and while the dialogue is a bit much and some of this is familiar ground, if you are looking for something like a mix of Ouran Highschool Host Club with some bonkers detective work, then this will easily be the show for you! 




Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song (Funimation)

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This is an entirely original anime by creators Tappei Nagatsuki and Eiji Umehara. It’s directed by Shinpei Ezaki, written by the creators, and produced by WIT Studios. Vivy is a wildly ambitious sci-fi story about time travel, the commentary about man and machine, and morality. The story about a futuristic AI being sent back in time to prevent a robot uprising that kills the human race in the future is some truly compelling stuff when you realize who this AI has to team up with to save humanity. The other side of the equation is the first AI android who the future AI goes to find doesn’t believe this super AI from the future is telling the truth. The real drama and driving force are the different ideals of the two AIs as they try and fix the past so the future doesn’t unfold into bloodshed, but then small wrinkles come up from time to time that throw a wrench into the situation, and it makes for an extremely compelling story. I wish it was dubbed because the future AI talks way too fast and it’s hard to keep up with the subtitles at points. Otherwise, it’s one of Spring’s most intriguing anime. 






Odd Taxi (Crunchyroll)

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This is a very cool original anime this season. It’s directed by Baku Kinoshita, written by Kazuya Konomoto, and produced by OLM Inc, and P.I.C.S. It does have a manga, but it was an original series first and foremost. This is a mix of a drama, a thriller, and a slice-of-life anime about the world that revolves around this lone walrus taxi driver and the storylines that spin-off of his encounters with both familiar faces and new individuals. It’s an anime I can’t quite compare to many that are out these days or not right off the top of my head. It’s like someone took the tone of something like The Wire or Fargo and mixed it up with Zootopia and Beastars with the designs from Animal Crossing. It’s an anime that truly stands out among the pack from not only its visuals, but its low-key story and perfect writing. I want to see what happens with all of these characters to see how the mystery around this missing girl unfolds and how these stories interact and finish. It’s an anime that was made with my kind of sensibilities. If I was ranking these anime individually and not by genre category, it would easily be in my top five. I highly recommend people check out this show because it hooks you within the first episode and doesn’t let go. 



Slice of Life

Super Cub (Funimation))

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Based on the light novel series by Tone Koken, this anime adaptation was directed by Toshiro Fujii, written by Toshizo Nemoto, and produced by Studio Kai. So far, from what I have seen, there is a real polarizing reception to this show. You either love how low-key and slow it is, or you find it too much of a slow burn to get through. I’m in the middle. I do like it due to how low key it is, but it is a touch too slow. The writing can also come off as making the lead character, Koguma, a touch dafter than she is. The CGI is also hit and miss as it doesn’t always blend well with the 2D characters or backgrounds. However, something about this show just clicks with me. I love the low-key vibes, I like the 2D visuals, the interaction between the leads, and the calming music. It reminds me of an indie game where all you do is drive around and listen to the music and just have a no-stress time. It won’t be for everyone, and I wouldn’t consider this a top 10 anime of the Spring season, but at least it is what is advertised and it doesn’t fall apart like Full Dive and Combatants Must Be Dispatched




Fairy Ranmaru (Crunchyroll)

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Hey, look, another original anime this season. This one is produced by Studio Comet, written by Jo Aoba, and directed by Kosuke Kobayashi and Masakazu Hishida. At first, I was enjoying the abstract dumbness of this one. A bunch of hot men who come from different fairy clans comes to earth to help clients expel the toxic and negativity in their lives via abstract combat. Within the combat encounters, the men transform in extremely horny ways into their fairy forms. It’s a dumb trashy anime that could have worked. I love the music, the transformations are delightfully horny to give the middle finger to male-focused fanservice. And yes, this isn’t the first anime to do such a thing, but it’s so rare, that it’s delightful to see it when it does happen. I like a lot of the little ideas about the leads and how the rules work. However, it’s a hot mess and it doesn’t always blend. It seems like it’s always at the edge of going down the right direction with its content but then doesn’t go far enough. I wish it went full dumb, but it also wants to be about something. I don’t know if I want to see what happens next after the three episodes I watched. If you like dumb but sincere anime, then, by all means, watch this one, but I can easily list a few other shows that go all the way with their fun dumb premise that do it better than Fairy Ranmaru



Shadows House (Funimation)

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Based on a manga by Su-mat-to, this adaptation is directed by Kazuki Ohashi, written by Toshiya Ono, and produced by CloverWorks. Okay, before we continue, let’s get the joke out of the way first, this is where all the resources that were for The Promised Neverland Season 2 went after the Neverland committee simply gave up on the second season. Anyway, Shadows House is a great show! I love the mystery behind this world of shadowy individuals, living dolls, and the commentary that can be picked from not only the environment but the dialogue and the ideas at play here. The dolls are rather complex characters, and their dynamics with the Shadows are really interesting to watch in motion. It has nice animation, the designs are distinct, and the writing has kept me invested in this show, which is why I’m going to so far, stick with it. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Winter 2021 Anime Season Impressions

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

So, here we are, a new chaotic year, and I am now going to start doing these seasonal anime impressions more regularly. Maybe I’ll even do a best to worst ranking of them all after the season is over! So, the same rules that we used in the previous listing, will be used here. These will only cover the new anime of this season. This won’t cover returning series from last year. No reboots unless there is something extremely noteworthy about them, like Higurashi: When They Cry New or Yashahime. Now then, let’s get started!

Actually, before we start, a couple of these anime will have content warnings before my short 3+ episode impression of them, so please be wary about that, and if you are disturbed by any of these warnings, then skip them and move to the next one. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Worst

Redo of Healer (HiDive, VRV)

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Content Warning: Rape, abuse, racism, violence, sexual violence, and homophobia 

Based on the novel and manga by Ryo Tsukiyo, this adaptation is directed by Takuya Asaoka, written by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, and is produced by TNK. Well, to the shock of no one, this is the worst anime of the season. On a moral level, it’s a repugnant revenge fantasy that has rape, homophobia, racism, and every red flag you can think of for an anime. It’s made for edgelords that don’t see anything wrong with the main character thinking rape is a proper revenge tactic. It is an anime with a time travel gimmick, but since the writing and storytelling are not good enough to distract me from the other minefield that is time travel, all I’m stuck wondering is why didn’t the main character, instead of doing all of this awful stuff, not just go back in time to a point where his abusers weren’t alive, or go back in time and kill them before they were born. Heck, if you are going to become a power fantasy since you can pull up the cheat sheet of powers and abilities, why not just create a past where you didn’t become the healer, and just live on your merry way? Instead of doing something more straightforward, this unlikable dumpster fire goes out of his way to “get back” at the abusers in a way that still makes him an abuser. Even if Sentai Filmworks wasn’t showing a censored version of this anime where they cut/edited out the sex scenes, the show isn’t all that great to look at. The fantasy world designs have all been done before and better, the characters look generic, and the music doesn’t stand out. It looks “better” than the worst animated show of the season, Ex Arm, but at best, Redo of Healer looks only okay. Also, for everyone crying about how people need to watch the uncut version, well, no they don’t. All the uncut version does is show the sex scenes, and since a lot of this show is full of assault, abuse, and rape, no one needs to watch them. Plus, if you wanted to watch porn or in this case, hentai, then go watch it! There are continent-sized amounts of hentai on the internet that you don’t have to justify watching. Seriously, the defenders of this show have been nothing but trolls who think this show is the best thing ever and go after anyone who doesn’t like it. When the novel and manga don’t have releases in the west due to a real lack of market value and no real audience, then maybe it was a bad idea to make an anime you are going to have to show censored, and then use an entirely different site or wait for uncut blu-rays to watch in full. The ratings for this show are dropping, the viewership is dropping as of writing this editorial, and it’s no wonder. Even if there was something good to say about the show, like the actors for Flare and Bullet are doing great with such garbage material, it wouldn’t matter. The exhausting nihilistic and toxic world, writing, story, and characters ruin anything it has going for it. For some reason, if you like this show, fine. Keeping liking it, but if you go after and harass anyone who doesn’t like it, because they don’t like it, then you are not worth anyone’s time. Redo of Healer is easily the worst anime of the season. 

Ex Arm (Crunchyroll, VRV)

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Considered dead on arrival, this anime adaptation is directed by Yoshikatsu Kimura, written by Tommy Morton, produced by Visual Flight, and is based on the manga by HiRock and was illustrated by Shinya Komi. What do you get when you hire a director who has no animation experience, doesn’t bother to learn how animation is produced, works with a studio that hasn’t made anime before, relies too heavily on motion capture, and then has the giant brass cajones to think this was going to be the next big science fiction hit? Well, you get Ex Arm. While Redo of Healer is more morally repugnant, it is, at the very least, competently made on a production side of things. You knew everyone there was going to go in and adapt every hateful aspect of that anime. Ex Arm on the other hand went headfirst into a brick wall with no helmet on, thinking that it was going to be the next hot stuff. Well, it did become big and popular for one reason, its incredibly terrible CGI animation. This might be the worst CGI animation I have ever seen in anime. Lifeless, emotionless, stiff, and it’s 100% amateur hour from top to bottom. You can even tell when this show uses ugly white light circles to cover up that the people working on this show did not know how to do anything but animate CGI models like they were bashing action figures together. It’s an embarrassing front all around, and even if it had the proper animation team behind it, the writing falls flat, the characters are forgettable, the designs aren’t interesting, and due to the awful reliance on motion capture technology, the action sucks. What’s worse is that Ex Arm cuts out aspects of the story for no reason. So, yeah, have fun watching an incomplete story. If Redo of Healer wasn’t the worst anime overall, then Ex Arm would be the worst anime of the 2021 season. At the very least, Ex Arm is a perfect candidate for bad movie nights, and that’s all it does right. 

Scar on the Praeter (Funimation)

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Content Warning: some suggestions of incest.

Our first original anime of the season is directed by Shingo Suzuki and produced by GoHands. We have yet another anime that is filled to the brim with pretty boys looking edgy and cool, and maybe a touch too much in world jargon mumbo jumbo to make you feel invested. Anytime I have tried to talk to someone about this show, I don’t remember anything outside of the gaudy 3D visuals, and while the main characters look better than in Handshakers (a previous anime from the studio), they are still overly designed and they almost blend into one another. The action is disjointed and janky with fights that feel very unsatisfying. It’s a show that easily goes through one ear and out the other, and that alone is shockingly bad. I don’t know who at GoHands keeps getting funding for these original projects, but just because you are an original anime, doesn’t mean you get off with a free pass because it’s rare to find original anime not based on something. It also has a light homosexual subtext, which is fine, until the first episode introduces the main character’s younger adopted brother who may or may not want to make love to him. Seems like you can’t get a GoHands anime without some creepy incest or sexual context. If it was more memorable, I would probably put it in the mediocre category, but since it just feels like a nothing show with a confusing world, weak animation, disappointing fight sequences, and entirely forgettable characters, it’s in the worst spot. 

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: Creepy perverted actions, mentions of rape, softcore porn, voyeurism, masturbation, and suggestions that the lead does watch illegal porn. 

This anime from the newly formed studio, Studio Bind, is based on the light novels by Rifujin Na Magonote. It was then adapted into a manga by the same individual. This anime adaptation is directed and written by Manabu Okamoto, with gorgeous music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa, and character designer Kazutaka Sugiyama. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful anime on the list. it’s in the top five. It looks incredible from the designs, the colors, the fluid animation, the consistent character models, and it’s a visually stunning overall package in the presentation department. This sucks for one reason, and one reason only, because the main character is intolerable and unlikable. I have heard that there is a long-term play with the lead’s arc, but when the story is about a 30-something loser who gets kicked out from his home after running out of money, dies when he’s struck by a truck, and is reincarnated with all of his memories into the mind of a kid, it’s a really insufferable and sometimes extremely uncomfortable part to sit through. The lead does get better and does learn to change his perverse ways, but when the anime dabbles a little too much into it, it’s a tall order to tell people that it gets good later on. So far, it is getting better, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that this anime put everything into making a stupidly stunning show, but then have a wildly problematic lead character whose whole redemption arc is going to be a slow crawl to being a better and somewhat less perverted individual. Luckily, it does seem like it is going to get better, but I won’t blame anyone for wanting to drop out after that first and second episode. Even with every great emotional moment, every bit of gorgeous animation, and every great song, a crummy lead (with some very problematic issues that people online are too easily ready to wave aside, which, you know, don’t do that) can still drag your series down. It doesn’t help that the 4th episode revealed the dad to have had an affair, and back in his training days, assaulted someone. So, yeah, for once so far, Rudy was not the biggest scumbucket in the show for one episode. Still, I’m hoping for the best, because this is still a decently impressive first anime from a brand new studio. 

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter (Crunchyroll, VRV)

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Content Warning: sexual sequences

Based on the novels, light novels, and manga by Meguru Seto, this anime adaptation is directed by Kenta Onishi, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by Okuruto Noboru. This power-fantasy harem comedy is in the worst category for multiple reasons. Its RPG elements are reliant on the main character getting pleasurable satisfaction from the women he interacts with. The fantasy world itself looks like a more mediocre Konosuba, and the animation is just okay, which is a problem if you want some softcore fanservice. The side characters are constantly unlikable, and for a fanservice show, it doesn’t go far enough to be fully titillating. It kind of knows what type of show it is so it’s not trying to be deeper than it is, but by the 3rd episode, I’m already seeing way more “likable” characters than our male lead, and this entire time, I was just thinking about how I would rather be watching Konosuba or Princess Connect: Redive. It has some funny jokes, but they are too few and far between in this somewhat mean-spirited world where being a noble has its own hierarchy system, and that just doesn’t make sense to me. They also try to add in some drama, and it simply doesn’t work. I’m too distracted by how horny this entire show is, and you want to introduce drama? No thanks! The stakes feel artificial due to the lead’s over-powered abilities that they just don’t rely on 24-7 because, well, they don’t give a good reason. Oh, and it does yet another sibling character wanting to have lewd fun with the lead when they are brother and sister. I’m getting so tired of anime and their flipping incest fetishes. Stop doing this! Oh, and it also has weak RPG game elements despite it not being an isekai. Boring! 

Mediocre

Gekidol (Funimation)

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This is an original anime from director Shigeru Ueda, written by Keiichiro Ochi, and produced by Hoods Entertainment. It’s another idol anime (big shock), but since it’s coming out during a season with more than just one anime being about idols, it’s going to be tough to stand out, and even tougher to be good. Well, sadly, I didn’t like Gekidol. It has such a weird dark turn with the base of the plot, and then it turns into every yuri trash anime that you can think of with the same batch of characters, dialogue, and weak fanservice. The dark setting doesn’t get brought up a whole lot, since you know, everyone forgets when a huge chunk of your city is just, you know, gone. It’s starting to pick up with it focusing on some of the other characters, but it’s a little too late for that, and to just not 100% explain where the cyborg girl came from, and how losing a huge chunk of your city didn’t do more damage to everything else makes for a mediocre experience. It’s a show that’s aimed in too many directions, and outside of some decent animation, there isn’t much else that stands out about this show. 

I★Chu: Halfway Through the Idol (Crunchyroll or CR through VRV)

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Hey, look, another idol anime. It’s time to buckle up because there are a few of them this season. This anime is based on the rhythm game by Liber Entertainment Inc. It’s directed by Hitoshi Nanba, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by Lay-Duce and Twin Engine. What do you get when you have 15+ lead characters? Too many! It was sometimes hard to remember their names, their designs, their quirks, and outside of some of them having some kind of hobby, they are cardboard cutout stereotypical male anime leads. It becomes such a problem that some of them seem to bleed into other characters, and end up sharing the same personality traits. It’s all too much for an anime that’s also really boring to watch. Outside of the principal of the school in which they are all enrolled wearing a giant bear costume and riding around on a segway, and a third episode introduction to a cross-dressing idol, this show doesn’t offer much that other idol shows aren’t offering in spades. It’s even too harmless to be offensive or have something wildly problematic about it. In some way, that’s the charm of this series. It’s too harmless to be bad or enraging. It’s at best and at worst, forgettable. Maybe you will get more out of it than me, but you can only throw so many pretty boys my way and expect me to be invested. 

Hortensia Saga (Funimation)

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Based on the smartphone game by Sega, directed by Yasuto Nishikata, written by Rintarou Ikeda, and produced by JC Staff, this new fantasy anime sure doesn’t do a lot to make itself stand out. It was also bad timing for the first episode of this show to air during the US capitol being raided by terrorists because the anime starts with an evil red-colored army storming a blue-colored castle with a mission to kill all of the royalty in there. Anyway, I’ll say that I least like this anime more than that awful King’s Raid anime from last year. Hortensia, at the very least, looks better and while looking clunky at points, has better action. It looks cleaner, the music is better, but outside of that, there isn’t much else there. It has some decent characters, and the third episode introduces the most likable one of the bunch so far. All this anime does is makes me want to go and play Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Because when I can get that kind of experience from a video game, why would I invest my time and energy into this anime that is failing to grab me? Anyway, Hortensia Saga is just more forgettable fantasy anime fluff with slightly average animation and a generic plot and world. 

Average

Vlad Love (YouTube)

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Content Warning: blood, sexual suggestiveness.

An original anime that’s written and directed by anime legend Mamoru Oshii? That should be incredible. It’s also co-directed by Junji Nishimura and produced by Drive. At first, I was finding it hard to gel with the premise, being a bit too chaotic with its jokes. It slings jokes at you with such intensity that it becomes too much. It’s a yuri romantic comedy about a high school girl who has a fetish for donating blood, who gets involved with a vampire. It’s a bit much due to how high octane it is. It makes more sense when you realize that Oshii worked on the anime classic Urusei Yatsura and Patlabor, but it doesn’t have the cohesive world and characters. It’s also just trashy with its fanservice. However, it has chaotic energy that not many shows have, and its visual style, while using a few too many comic-book-style split screens, at least has a style to call its own. The rest of the series will debut on YouTube this month, so we will have to see what happens with everything past episode 1. 

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (Funimation)

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Based on the light novel and manga by Yuki Yaku, directed by Shinsuke Yanagi, written by Fumihiko Shimo, and produced by Project No.9, this is a self-help harem comedy. Most of the time so far has been spent making sure our main male hero is improving upon his social skills and how he is seen on the inside and outside, and I respect what the anime is going for with how they are approaching the subject matter. Granted, some of it feels very superficial and Queer Eye-ish, but I guess sometimes, you need to be pushed into the deep end to hit the ground running. I think my only real issue is that the gaming lingo is awkward as it never sounds natural. It sounds better than the male lead in the first episode when we get to episode 3, but still. I’m also worried about how the other girls in this show are going to react to the lead, Tomozaki, and at least from the three episodes I watched, they are all going to be different and want to be friends or more with him for different reasons. I don’t know, I just don’t feel strongly about this title when the much better Horimiya is doing everything better and it looks better as well. I’m cautiously curious as to where Bottom Tier Character is going, but who knows if I will want to stick through with the entire 12 episodes. 

Idoly Pride (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: Death

This anime is based on a multimedia Idol project by CyberAgent, which has a manga written by Hiroki Haruse. The anime is directed by Yu Kinome, written by Tatsuya Takahashi, Yasuhiro Nakanishi, and produced by Lerche and CAAnimation. Well, even though I wouldn’t say I like any of the Idol anime this season, at least Idoly Pride had an interesting hook to it. Sadly, I wish I could say that the Idol stuff was just as good as the base hook. On one hand, I love the tragic romance aspect of our lead character, who was goaded into being the love interest’s producer while she became an Idol. It has a real tragic twist, but an interesting supernatural element, as she comes back as a ghost to make sure her producer does well at his job. There is a lot of gold that could be mined from this premise, and there are story elements that could work very well to make this a great story. Too bad that’s not the focus. It’s about our male lead putting together another Idol group and having them be big hits. That means we are instead going to focus on 10 girls who so far have really basic personality traits, and their designs are just different enough that you can tell them apart. The Idol stuff is fine, but I just hate how it’s having to hustle to be the main focus when there is a much better tragic romance/drama on the show’s lap. I guess that’s what happens when you are just another Idol project. Still, some interesting elements are being put into the formula, like the younger sister of the now-deceased female lead is a part of this new group, and so on. Still, I can’t say if I’m committed enough to sit through the Idol beats just to get to the small more interesting drama beats. I still prefer it to the other Idol new animes this season.

Good

Skate Leading Stars (Funimation) 

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Directed by Goro Taniguchi, produced by J.C. Staff, written by Noboru Kimura, and based on the manga by Chiaki Nagaoka, this anime came into the winter season with a hurdle to skate over due to it being constantly compared to the one other famous ice-skating anime. So, on its own merits, I do think Skate Leading Stars does stand on its own feet. It’s more interested in competitive skating and team coordination among its multitude of attractive anime boys. It is one of those anime that introduces maybe too many characters, as this anime is supposedly going to have 15+ main characters, and while they are different enough, are still too many to focus on so far for a satisfying story. I’ll say this, they are at least different enough and so far, don’t share personality traits like I★Chu: Halfway Through the Idol. Otherwise, it’s a solid sports anime with some decent animation and likable characters. 

So I’m a Spider, So What? (Crunchyroll, VRV) 

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Based on the light novels and novels by Okina Baba, also based on the manga written by Gratin Tori, this anime adaptation is directed by Shin Itagaki, written by Okina Baba and Yuichiro Momose, and is produced by Millepensee. Out of all of the fantasy/isekai anime of the season, So I’m a Spider had the most creative premise as a lonely gamer girl, along with her classmates being swept up into another world. The catch is, our main character reincarnated into a spider, whereas her classmates had better luck as humans and so on. I was excited to see an isekai fantasy anime that was from the perspective of the animal world. It’s not like the anime doesn’t tease that aspect, since half of the episodes so far are about our spider hero making her way through surviving this harsh world as a monster you usually see in the first dungeon of a video game. While its CGI is noticeable, the models used for our spider hero is very expressive, and once you realize that this was the same studio and director behind that notoriously awful Berserk adaptation from a few years ago, then that’s impressive to see how much better this show is overall in visuals and storytelling. However, my biggest complaint is that it’s taking a bit too long to set everything up. I keep preferring the spider side of the story compared to the more generic humans side, but the show sometimes seems to lean more on progressing the humans more than our spider hero. It’s frustrating because the show also adds in generic RPG stat elements, and I just don’t care about that stuff. I don’t get why fantasy anime can’t just be fantasy anime without the RPG elements. Sometimes they are used well, but rarely have I seen an anime use them well. They keep teasing these other spider characters, and yet we still haven’t seen them, and honestly, this show might be the one I have the shortest patience with in terms of the shows I like this season. I love the premise so much, but it keeps struggling with who to focus on, and I just want to see the spider’s shenanigans. It also doesn’t help that the main lead is loud with her constant self-narration. Still, I’m wanting to see where the story goes and the action is great. I just can see this one easily sliding into my most disappointing anime of 2021 if it’s not careful. 

Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist (Crunchyroll, VRV)

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Content Warning: some episodes may have suggestively lewd visuals

Based on the manga written by Aho Toro, this anime adaptation is directed by Hideaki Oba, written by Ayumu Hisao, and produced by Platinum Vision. I know this isn’t anyone’s favorite due to the chunky art style and clashing tones for a horror/comedy anime, but I find myself enjoying this mix of comedy and horror. What gets me is how the weird diseases the characters are encountering are mixed with some form of social commentary. The stories are so far creative and fun to watch. By episode 3 they have introduced some other members of the main cast, and while one of the characters has a trope I hate seeing in anime, I do love the other new male lead they introduce. It’s an anime that’s easy to get into, and it’s creative enough for me to probably commit through the entire season. 

2.43 Highschool Boys Volleyball (Funimation)

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Content Warning: Suggestions/mentions of suicide

Based on the light novel by Yukako Kabei, the manga by Aiji Yamakawa, this sports drama is directed by Yasuhiro Kimura, written by Yosuke Kuroda, and produced by David Production. While you may wonder if you are getting a similar experience as the smash hit Haikyuu, well, you are not. This is a more grounded male-centric sports drama about our two leads Yuni Kuroba and Kimichika Haijima. It’s full of gay tension between them as well. The show is more about the drive to play, and the philosophy behind the sport in general. It’s also really melodramatic and it’s a bit of a rough sit for the first episode due to how unlikable Haijima is. That’s not even counting the dramatic baggage that Haijima has with him when the show begins. It’s gotten better now by the third episode, but your mileage may vary with how you will invest your time with this show’s story. Still, it’s a good sports drama, and if you need an alternative Haikyuu, then go watch this show! Oh, and the opening song is a real banger!

The Best

Otherside Picnic (Funimation)

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Based on the novel and manga by Iori Miyazawa, directed by Takuya Sato, and produced by Liden Films and Felix Film, this anime is also based on  Roadside Picnic, an eerie female-driven horror drama anime that has our two leads Sorao and Toriko exploring a place known as the Otherside, where dilapidated buildings are conquered by nature, and creatures from supernatural tales reside. It’s a show that captures a real intimacy and offbeat friendship between the two women with some pretty nice-looking animation, quiet humorous moments, and an unsettling atmosphere once they cross over to this new world. Some of its use of CGI is clunky, but it looks better than Ex-Arm by continents. It’s not just a supernatural anime either, as the first three episodes dive into the mindset of both of the leads and the characters with whom they interact. I was a little confused about a few things in the first episode, but I’m having a fantastic time going through this journey with our heroes. Oh, and if you want a horror anime this season, this is the one to watch. Just don’t watch it late at night as I did. 

Back Arrow (Funimation)

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We have ourselves an original giant mech anime this season, which I am super happy about! It’s directed by Goro Taniguchi, written by Kazuki Nakashima, and is produced by Studio VOLN. It stands out from other giant mech shows with the evil imperialist empire having a more Chinese-dynasty look, whereas other villages and towns so far in this show have used more wild west fashion choices. I can’t tell if this will be any more substantial than just being a fun giant mech anime, but I’m fine with that, honestly. We don’t need every giant robot anime to be so melodramatic and bogged down by philosophical arguments. Sometimes, you just want to see giant robots and feel like a kid watching Toonami again. I do like the overall cast, except for the main side characters so far. Something about how they are constantly willing to ditch the main hero on a dime makes them a bit hard to grasp as to whether I should hate them or like them. Still, I enjoy this show so far. I might not have it in my top 10 by the end of 2021, but I think it’s one of the better shows of Winter 2021. 

Wonder Egg Priority (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: symbolic and suggestive suicide

This is an original anime produced by CloverWorks, directed by Shin Wakabayashi, and written by Shinji Nojima. With a season of anime that has had shows like Redo of Healer, which tries to be dark and mature, but falls flat, Wonder Egg Priority handles its subject matter with creativity and respect. With a constant theme of losing someone to suicide, it needs to be handled well, and this show is handling it with a very careful hand. It’s a drama with characters who are trying to bring someone close to them back to life, but who knows if that will happen or exactly what the outcome is. It’s balanced out with some incredible action, vibrant monster designs, and some of the best animation of the season. By episode 3, the action starts to kick in, and it reminds me of something Studio Trigger or Science Saru would make. The designs of the “bosses” in the dreamworlds in which the action takes place are always exciting to see with how symbolic/Silent Hill-ish they can be. You also feel for the characters as the main three girls we have seen so far are all interesting and work well off of one another. I want this to stick the landing because we don’t often get original anime that are not based on pre-existing properties. You can also go through this anime with a comb and pick apart its symbolic elements that are worth looking into more. It’s easily one of my favorite shows of the season. 

Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moves to a Starter Town? (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: some suggestive elements from time to time.

Long title aside, this anime based on the light novel and manga by Toshio Sato, is directed by Migmi and produced by Liden Films. It’s a fantasy (not isekai) comedy that gives us a humorous main hero, who would be like if Saitama from One Punch Man didn’t know how stupidly strong he was. You see, the lead in this anime thinks he’s weak even though the village he is from is next to the final dungeon. So while he is considered weak while moving to a small kingdom to train and become a knight, everyone else is horrified of his powers and how humble and unaware he is of his strength. This alone has brought me three-plus episodes of laughter and fantastic character dynamics with some of the best comedy this anime season. The characters are all enjoyable, and the story by the end of the first episode kicks into gear and while it might not be a super unique fantasy tale, the premise and characters alone make up for it. You don’t have to be 100% unique. Sometimes, you just need to be executed well. 

Kemono Jihen (Funimation)

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Based on the manga by Sho Aimoto, this anime adaptation is directed by Masaya Fujimori, written by Noboru Kimura, and is produced by Ajia-do Animation Works. While I do think Dr. Ramune is a gem among the great anime of the season, Kemono Jihen is that gem polished to perfection. What a delightful horror/action/mystery anime with some rather engaging twists and turns. It might look like a typical shonen battle anime, but it has a lot more substance than most shows in these genres. Yes, it has young kids with powers, but with how the story has tackled them so far, it’s more mystery and horror than pure action. The encounters with the supernatural creatures so far also have some cool subtext and commentary about them. The opening song is just a fantastic banger. It’s an overall strong show with a strong cast, and I highly recommend it. 

Horimiya (Funimation) 

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Based on the manga by Hero, this anime is directed by Masashi Ishihama, written by Takao Yoshioka, with music composed by Masaru Yokoyama, and is produced by CloverWorks. This teen drama is probably my personal favorite anime of the season. I love every anime in this category, but Horimiya hit me hard with its themes about how we present ourselves when we are by ourselves and when we are in front of people. It’s a clever premise on how we sometimes wear masks to hide from everyone else. It’s an anime that understands having to deal with emotions, relationships, and other individuals in high school, and I find the romance between our two leads adorable and fleshed out. It’s an extremely healthy relationship as well. What’s even better than this show’s amazing visuals, baller opening, and incredible writing, it shows how mature it all feels. While it might be about teens, this show treats them like adults. It’s also heartwarming, funny, and it’s easily going to be in my top five anime of the year so far. I just hope we don’t get another Sing Yesterday For Me

Sk8 the Infinity (Funimation)

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This original anime is directed by Hiroko Utsumi, written by Ichiro Okouchi, and is produced by Studio Bones. There are a ton of reasons why this show is climbing up the charts as one of the best from this season. For one, you have the director of the beloved Free! and Banana Fish adaptations with Hiroko Utsumi. Second, you have an anime that is 100% stylized and one of a kind in a sea of anime that’s released this season. Third, it’s a sports anime with endearing characters, each having distinct and identifiable personalities, and you then give it to Bones to animate. Seriously, this is easily one of the best looking shows of the season. Not only that, but the skating sequences are a lot of fun to watch, the characters are interesting, and it has the right balance of both action and story-telling to make it all work. I am so happy that we are seeing some original anime knock it out of the park this season.

Heaven’s Design Team (Crunchyroll or CR through VRV)

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Based on the manga by Hebi-Zou and Tsuta Suzuki, this anime adaptation is directed by Soichi Masui, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Asashi Production, this is the Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle of the season. Not only is it educational with little moments where they talk about the real-life animals that they create, but the entire show is also all about them making said animals and the process of getting the tasks from God as to what to make. I love how the premise is that God got too busy making the earth and outsourced it to a freelance team of angels to handle the creation of animals. It’s constantly funny, creative, and there is a lot of heart and great chemistry between the individuals who are a part of this team. It helps that there are about three or so segments each episode, and due to the different challenges thrown at them so far, the show hasn’t gotten boring. It’s the right kind of show to watch when you need a good laugh, and it’s pretty much the best comedy anime of the new anime of this season. 

With that, we are my impressions of the new anime of the Winter 2021 season! 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!