Home ACN Team Picks Anime of the Year - 2021

ACN Team Picks Anime of the Year - 2021

The year is almost over (thankfully) and if something good came out of it, it was the amount of decent anime titles that we got. Starting with continuations of popular titles such as Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer, and Jujutsu Kaisen, to the new adaptations and original series, each season had something to offer. We in the Anime Corner News team (and our helpers) took the time to sit down and pick some of our favorites – for no particular reason other than that we liked them. Everyone who took part provided a few sentences with the reasoning and we hope that you will enjoy reading them as much as we liked writing about them.

Here’s the list, without a particular order:

Blue Period – Georgia

Whether it’s a movie, book, or anime, the texts that stick with me the most are always the ones that elicit a strong emotional response. 2021 was full of fun and interesting anime titles, from Sk8 the Infinity to Odd Taxi. But none affected me as much as Blue Period. While it can’t compete with the likes of Demon Slayer in terms of animation quality, its writing more than makes up for its visual shortcomings. Well fleshed-out characters, and relatable and grounded storytelling combine to create a truly beautiful series. Thus, it’s my personal pick for Anime of the Year.

©︎ Tsubasa Yamaguchi, Kodansha / Blue Period Production Committee

Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song – Eric

Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- incorporates the best of both worlds when it comes to anime—beautiful fighting animations and a wonderful story. Arguably WIT Studio’s best work since Attack on Titan, Vivy is a marvelous sci-fi original anime that a lot of people will look back on ten years from now and wonder why they never watched it when it was airing. With some of the best storyboarding you’ll find in modern anime, Vivy checks off on everything that an anime fan could possibly love about a series.

©Vivy Score / Aniplex, WIT STUDIO

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation – Jakub

When I was told to pick my anime of the year I was torn between two titles. One part of me wanted to pick the epic, action-packed part one of Attack on Titan‘s final season, and the other part, the compelling world of Mushoku Tensei. Now that the first season of Mushoku has ended, the choice seems simple. I thought that I was over my isekai phase but Mushoku Tensei proved me wrong. It is surely the best isekai I’ve ever seen, and the way it builds up Rudeus’ character is simply amazing. It’s not only a tale featuring an epic fantasy world, it’s a tale about forgiving yourself and learning how to move forward. The story is simply amazing, and the characters are lovable. The amount of thought put into world-building is insane, and the size of the world is impressive. Top it off with breathtaking visuals and a great score and you’ve got the anime of the year! I simply cannot wait for more as my impatient self already went through all available English volumes of the light novel.

© Rifujin na Magonote / MF Books / Jobless Reincarnation Production Committee

Kageki Shojo – Westin

An anime that really made an impact on me in 2021 was Kageki Shojo. From the outside, it didn’t seem like the show would amount to too much, seeming like just some run-of-the-mill slice of life anime. However, the show constantly impressed me from episode to episode and captured my heart in ways that few forms of media this year have done. Kageki Shojo built a very human narrative about chasing one’s dreams and introduced some incredibly compelling and interesting characters along the way. Its story was also one that was very mature, bringing up and discussing serious topics in a very tactful and thoughtful manner. It’s a combination of many aspects of storytelling done to such a marvelously outstanding degree that elevate this show to such a high level. That this anime is as memorable to me as ones that boast raging titans or flashy jujutsu sorcerers is a testament to the show’s quality. Thanks to some brilliant writing, wonderful characterization, and stellar storytelling, Kageki Shojo is a prime example of how even the simplest of stories have the capacity to exude excellence in spades.

©Kumiko Saiki, Hakusensha / Kageki Shojo Production Committee

To Your Eternity – Carla

To Your Eternity was one of the most creative and beautiful stories this year. The overall aesthetic, the heartfelt music, the unique story, charming characters, and even the epic opening song by Utada Hikaru – all of it contributed to the amazing journey that make up this anime show. Something about it is so melancholic yet so captivating. One may even call it a roller coaster ride/train wreck of emotions. Nevertheless, watching it was an unforgettable experience.

While To Your Eternity isn’t mainstream like other action or romance animes, it still stands tall in its own category. It’s a sad anime to watch, yes, but it also has so much more depth than that. The story of To Your Eternity stirred themes of love, growth, connection, loss, and grief. It emphasizes how all of these emotions and experiences shape us through our journeys. To Your Eternity‘s brilliant storytelling always delivered an impactful and meaningful way of saying that. Whether it be hope or sadness, or both.

© Yoshitoki Oima, Kodansha / NHK, NEP

Shadows House – Tamara

It sometimes feels like my anime-watching time is spent waiting for the next season of Attack on Titan, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the titles that will be remembered as a classic in the years to come. And it would be an easy choice to put it here, but something else managed to win me over this year and make this long wait a bit easier. And that something is Shadows House. I don’t know if it was the story, the characters, the animation, or the music, or perhaps all of these things that managed to contribute and make this anime a truly welcome surprise. The mystery aspect of it was one of its best-selling points, and everything else managed to complement it perfectly and make this one of the best and most refreshing new anime of 2021.

© Soumatou/Shueisha / Shadows House Production Committee

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation – Marko

My vote for the Anime of the Year for 2021 has to go to Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. Coming in with high expectations, Studio Bind delivered consistent quality for 23 episodes over 2 cours. It started as a classic isekai, but it showed why it’s one of the greatest in the genre with its impressive world-building and character development, with the obviously impressive production quality which was just objectively among the best this year. There were some shows that had elements I enjoyed more, such as Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song-, ODDTAXI or Ranking of Kings, but I can’t say any of them deserve the AotY title ahead of Mushoku Tensei this year.

© Rifujin na Magonote / MF Books / Jobless Reincarnation Production Committee

Love Live Superstar – Ken

Love Live Superstar had its own unique and refreshing approach compared to the previous installments. The band only has 5 members and the series is more inclined to the slice of life theme rather than the generic idol theme. Since there are fewer members, there is more exposure for each. As a result, the show made each character more substantial, appealing, and with more personality. Superstar also strayed away from the generic plot of saving the school and leaned more into becoming the best version of yourself as an idol. The songs are still as amazing and catchy as ever and the animated performances were the best by far. It was shocking at first how they break the norms of the franchise but Superstar managed to still deliver an impressive show and exceeded expectations. Overall, Superstar didn’t just break the Love Live tradition, it remade it and still proved that it holds up on its own, and that’s why it’s my Anime of the Year for 2021.

©2021 PROJECT Lovelive! Superstar!!

To Your Eternity – Kelly

In spite of the many amazing anime that aired this year, To Your Eternity is arguably unmatched in its execution of careful character development, skillful storytelling, and unique world-building that pulls your heartstrings right when everything is perfectly set in place. It’s much more than just a sob story. Through the perspective of an immortal boy who began with no purpose in life, this anime delicately explores what it means to be human and find beauty in the world even when you’ve lost everything.
From the smoothly animated and unique fighting scenes to the devastating tragedies, to the beautiful opening theme and animation sequence, To Your Eternity has everything that qualifies it to be Anime of the Year.

© Yoshitoki Oima, Kodansha / NHK, NEP

Aquatope on White Sand – Marvic

Aquatope on White Sand was very relatable for me, making it my anime of the year for 2021. The story revolves around two teenage girls, Fuka and Kukuru, who have different dreams. However, Fuka’s dream was already shattered, and Kukuru’s dream is now hanging on a thread. Together, they try to save a certain theme park that Kukuru holds dear.

The story shows that your journey in life must still continue even if you didn’t achieve your goal. Because if you rise up again and continue to live on, you can still find a new dream. Even if you made a wrong decision in life, you could do yourself a favor by finding a different path.

© Project Tingarla

And what was your Anime of the Year for 2021?

As you can tell, some titles appeared more than once. The results may or may not be what you expected to see, but this is a simple list of our personal favorites. What was your personal favorite?

The Anime Corner News team wishes you all a very happy 2022!

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