21 finest anime of 2021 to date

The autumn anime season is in full swing with thrilling new reveals like Naoko Yamada’s The Heike Story and Platinum Finish premiering alongside returning favorites like Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Lupin III: Half IV, and JoJo’s Weird Journey: Stone Ocean! With absolutely the deluge of superior and thrilling new anime pouring out this 12 months, it’s affordable that a number of the 12 months’s finest might need slipped off your radar. To that finish, we right here at Polygon HQ put our heads collectively to create an inventory of a number of the finest anime to return out this 12 months to date.

From main titles like My Hero Academia and Megalobox 2 Nomad to extra area of interest titles like Odd Taxi, Uma Musume: Fairly Derby, and Pui Pui MolCar, listed below are 21 of one of the best anime sequence to air to date in 2021. Time to play catch up.

Beastars (Season 2)

Picture: Orange

Beastars tells the story of a wolf who needs to have intercourse with a rabbit, however worries he’ll devour stated rabbit. I believe it’s a metaphor for puberty. Although it might be a cringey, misguided exploration of race. Possibly it’s holding a magnifying glass to sexual violence on campus. Or maybe it’s a coming of age story a couple of technology of younger folks disconnected from their dad and mom by quickly altering norms. Frankly, I’ve stopped caring about what it’s about.

I do know that is gauche amongst critics, however for me, Beastars works once I give up making an attempt to make a one-to-one connection between our world and its metropolis of attractive teenage carnivores and herbivores. I benefit from the present finest once I take its inner logic by itself phrases. In that approach, Beastars is like Romeo and Juliet. An attractive, violent, and infrequently irritating story of star-crossed lovers saved aside by society. And just like the works of Shakespeare, Beastars will be contorted into no matter else you need it to be. —Chris Plante

Beastars season 1 and a pair of can be found to stream on Netflix.

Blue Interval

Picture: Netflix

Yatora Yaguchi is a delinquent to most, however surely, he’s an earnest man. He will get good grades and has a thriving group of mates, however he’s bored by his stagnant life. After being impressed by an upperclassman’s massive lovely portray, he begins to review artwork. Nonetheless, as someone who was at all times profitable with out an excessive amount of effort, he’s shocked by the quantity of labor he has to place ahead to develop into a grasp of the humanities. He struggles whereas evaluating his work to his classmate’s, however doesn’t surrender, as he discovered a pastime that he actually has ardour for.

Whereas the animation in Blue Interval isn’t something notably phenomenal, the story it tells is relatable to anybody who has artistic hobbies. —Julia Lee

Blue Interval is offered to stream on Netflix.

Fruits Basket: The Closing

tohru standing with yuki and kyo against a setting sun in Fruits Basket

Picture: TMS/8PAN/Funimation

Fruits Basket lures viewers in with the promise of a cute story a couple of household that turns into animals after they’re hugged, then completely disarms with boatloads of generational trauma. Within the final season, all of this begins to culminate, as plucky orphan Tohru Honda tries to interrupt the curse binding the Sohma household to domineering family head Akito. However as a result of that is Fruits Basket, everybody has their very own share of trauma, Akito included. The emotional ultimate season of Fruits Basket reveals that every one shouldn’t be what it appears relating to Akito. When the large second occurs, it’s a sweeping emotional catharsis for everyone. Have tissues available. —Petrana Radulovic

Fruits Basket: The Closing is offered to stream on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

The Heike Story

Biwa strumming her instrument in The Heike Story

Picture: Funimation

Produced by Science SARU (Maintain Your Palms off Eizouken!) and tailored from Hideo Furukawa’s 2016 translation of the Japanese people legend Story of the Heike, director Naoko Yamada’s (A Silent Voice) The Heike Story follows the story of Biwa, a younger orphan gifted with the ability of prescience who’s taken in by Taira no Shigemori, the eldest son of the highly effective Taira clan, and is haunted by his personal visions of loss of life. Predicting the downfall of the Taira clan, Biwa bears witness to the myriad misfortunes and tragedies that befall the clan however nonetheless refuses to help them out of retribution for her father’s loss of life. With lovely Ukiyo-e-esque backgrounds, an evocative rating by composer Kensuke Ushio, and an emotionally riveting script penned by by Reiko Yoshida (Violet Evergarden), The Heike Story is among the most lovely anime to premiere this 12 months. —TE

The Heike Story is offered to stream on Funimation.


Horimiya, a present whose namesake comes from combining the names of its two central love pursuits, Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura, is about as darling as you’d count on a present named after its two lovers to be.

The present follows Hori, a accountable massive sister and assured scholar with mates, and her budding romance with Miyamura, a shy and quiet loner with a secret edgy look outdoors of highschool. (We be taught he has tattoos and piercings!) In different shojo, it’s not unusual for a narrative to take total seasons for the love pursuits to carry palms, and may not even present a kiss. In Horimiya, we see them fall for one another in a matter of episodes. This tempo permits the debut season of the present to rapidly transfer away from exhibiting simply Hori and Miyamura’s relationship, and provides us area to study all the opposite folks of their life. Extra time, we see the as soon as lonely Miyamura develop a loving and supportive group round him.

Horimiya doesn’t do something outstanding or groundbreaking; It’s simply actually nice to observe. The characters draw back from intense battle, and embrace idyllic friendships that overcome battle with no complete lot of improvement. Positive, there isn’t some form of massive, satisfying decision like there’s in a present like Fruits Basket, however you’re additionally spared the tears. What’s extra is that you simply actually don’t need to sink all that a lot time into, with an entire story beginning and coming to a detailed after only one season. Enjoyable and lightweight, Horimiya was only a rephrasing summer season snack of a look ahead to me. —Ana Diaz

Horimiya is offered to stream on Hulu and Funimation.

Jujutsu Kaisen

Yuji Itadori and Aoi Todo fighting together in Jujutsu Kaisen

Picture: MAPPA

Jujutsu Kaisen was the breakout anime success of 2020 and continued robust in 2021. The story follows the younger Yuji Itadori, a good-hearted faculty boy who sooner or later eats an precise finger, which served as a vessel for a robust demon known as Sukuna. After consuming the finger, Itadori will get taken in by the questionable, however highly effective mentor Gojo Satoru, who assembles a Naruto-like forged of three central characters who work collectively to defeat the monsters often known as curses of their world.

Jujutsu Kaisen is a present that performs with the tropes of shonen anime. Whereas different reveals prefer it are inclined to give attention to super-human protagonists who magically energy up simply when the going will get tough, Jujutsu Kaisen begins with Itadori’s personal weak spot and him begging for the demon inside to avoid wasting him.

The present begins off a bit sluggish, however pays off to those that spend just a bit extra time with it. The characters — and its women especially — are offered with care, and the three primary characters develop an endearing dynamic paying homage to siblings who like to select on one another. Sticking round will present a few of Studio Mappa’s best work, as later battle sequences are a number of the finest animation to return from the studio but. Mainly, Jujutsu Kaisen is the proper present for long-time shonen followers who’re searching for one thing that isn’t afraid to enterprise off the well-trodden paths of its predecessors and conjure up one thing a little bit bit darker, a bit stranger. —AD

Jujutsu Kaisen is offered to stream on Crunchyroll and HBO Max.

Laid-back Camp (Season 2)

Picture: C-Station

Presumably dubbed essentially the most comfortable anime within the final decade, Laid-back Camp’s second season delivers as an ideal observe as much as its first. Rin nonetheless loves tenting by herself, however she slowly continues to divulge heart’s contents to her new gang of mates at her faculty’s tenting membership.

It’s nonetheless an excellent, comfortable slice-of-life anime about ladies going tenting. It sticks to its roots as a semi-educational present, and this season offers enjoyable appears into some cool areas of Japan. —JL

Laid-back Camp season 2 is offered to stream on Crunchyroll.

Megalobox 2: Nomad

Gearless Joe preparing to enter a match in Megalobox 2 Nomad.

Picture: TMS Leisure

The second season of Megalobox is a far darker, somber, and extra melancholic underdog story than the satan could care angle of the primary season. Set a number of years after his victory at Megalonia, the champion fighter often known as “Gearless”Joe is a far cry from after we final noticed him; hooked on painkillers, preventing nameless cage bouts for chump change and,most distressingly, alone. Nomad is a worthy successor to the great motion and character-driven drama of the primary season; a rousing story of a champion’s precipitous fall from grace and subsequent revival right into a fighter far stronger and extra decided than ever earlier than. —Toussaint Egan

Megalobox 2: Nomad is offered to stream on Funimation.

My Hero Academia (Season 5)

Picture: Studio Bones

Studio Bones’ breakout superhero motion drama returned for its fifth season as the scholars of UA Highschool had been thrust into ever extra precarious hazard with higher stakes. My Hero Academia season 5 offers closely in Endeavor’s restoration following his confrontation with the super-powered Nomu on the finish of final season, the hero Hawks working undercover to take down the League of Villains from the within, and Deku manifesting a brand new side of his quirk One for All as he delves deeper into the historical past of his predecessors and their connection to the villainous All for One. —TE

My Hero Academia season 5 is offered to stream on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Funimation.

Odd Taxi

Picture: OLM

Odd Taxi is, properly, odd. A slice-of-life thriller drama centered on Odokawa, a 40-something 12 months previous taxi driver who additionally occurs to be a walrus in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, who could or will not be implicated within the disappearance of a lacking lady. Regardless of how dire that preliminary premise could sound, the anime as an entire is an skilled mix of black comedy and irreverent banter; a sequence whose focus rotates by way of a forged of eccentric, offbeat, and above all achingly human characters whose lives intersect Odokawa’s personal in quest of their coronary heart’s need, whether or not or not it’s the illusion of real love or simply making an attempt to go viral on social media. Odd Taxi is a sequence it’s essential to completely make the time to observe and a robust contender for 2021’s most original and underrated anime. —TE

Odd Taxi is offered to stream on Crunchyroll.

Pui Pui MolCar

Pui Pui MolCar’s fluffy animals

Picture: Shin-Ei Animation

Pui Pui Molcar is among the weirdest and funniest comedy anime to return out in 2021. A stop-motion anime brief sequence set in a metropolis populated by gigantic, fuzzy guinea pigs with wheels for toes, the present consists of a sequence of skits following the Molcars on varied misadventures. From visitors jams to impromptu financial institution heists, rescuing cats or escaping a zombie apocalypse, Pui Pui Molcar is bursting with as a lot creativity as it’s real laughs. With every episode operating at slightly below or round eight minutes, it’s a superbly snack-sized, low dedication anime which may make for a good change of tempo if you happen to’re searching for one thing enjoyable to observe or if you happen to’re bored with your child consistently watching Cocomelon. —TE

Pui Pui Molcar is offered to stream on Netflix.

Rating of Kings

Bojji sitting contently on a stone ledge in Ranking of Kings.

Picture: Wit Studio / Funimation

Based mostly on Sōsuke Tōka’s manga of the identical identify, Rating of Kings is about in a fantastical world of swords and sorcery and follows the story of Bojji, the firstborn son and inheritor to the throne of his father, the highly effective large King Bosse. Regardless of his kind-hearted nature, Bojji is regarded down upon by his father’s courtroom and the dominion’s topics for being born deaf and mute. Just one particular person appears to grasp him: a shadowy creature often known as Kage who swears to help Bojji’s quest to develop into king by way of thick and skinny. After his throne is usurped by his conniving half-brother Daida, Bojji embarks on a journey in quest of a method to develop into stronger and reclaim his throne.

Rating of Kings is an beautiful coming-of-age fantasy comedy with loveable characters, a wonderful storybook shade palette, a totally engrossing story stuffed with peril and intrigue, and surprisingly spectacular battles. Bojji is hands-down the cutest anime protagonist in 2021, speaking depths of compassion and perseverance with solely a handful of utterances and expressions. In case you’re searching for an anime that may shock, thrill, and endear itself to you to no finish, Rating of Kings simply ranks among the many perfect anime the 12 months has to supply. —TE

Rating of Kings is offered to stream on Funimation.


Gagumber and Memempu staring at the Mark Bot “Big Tony” in Sakugan

Picture: Satelight

Set in a subterranean world populated by monsters known as the “Labyrinth,” Sakugan follows the story of Memempu, a treasured 9 12 months previous who yearns to discover the world outdoors the security of the human colonies and her father Gagumber, a former “Marker” (see: explorer) and mech pilot working as a lowly miner. After their house colony is viciously assaulted by kaiju, Memempu pleads with Gagumber to permit her to develop into a Marker and seek for the legendary place glimpsed solely in her desires. With no hope of deterring her ambitions, Gagumber agrees and joins his daughter on their quest for journey and solutions to the mysteries of their world.

The beating coronary heart of Sakugan’s attraction, past the frilly mecha fights and breathtaking vistas, is the odd couple father-daughter relationship between Memempu and Gagumber who incessantly bicker with each other at each flip. It’s the story of a younger lady venturing past the security of her house to make her personal mark on the world, in addition to the story of a father who needs to guard his daughter all of the whereas understanding he has to provide her area to be taught and develop. It’s that bond and dynamic that secures Sakugan’s place as one of many 12 months’s finest anime; an journey shared between a father and daughter who’ve as a lot to be taught from one another as they’ve to show each other. —TE

Sakugan is offered to stream on Crunchyroll.

Sk8 The Infinity

Langa and Reki fist bumping in SK8

Picture: Studio Bones

The hard-working skateboarder Reki loves the S races — secret skateboarding races that happen at evening. These races are stuffed with hazard, and a number of the most iconic underground skate boarders settle their beef (sure, that’s the time period the anime makes use of) in S. Canadian switch scholar Langa is extra into snowboarding, however with the assistance of Reki, he begins skating and taking part in S. Battle arises because the creator of S is extra devilish than he appears, and Langa begins to outperform Reki.

Sk8 is particular as a result of its characters make it special. With its massive forged of nice characters (Cherry stans, unite!) and fascinating backstories, it’s the proper brief sports activities anime to fulfill any itch you’ll have in 12 episodes. —JL

SK8 the Infinity is offered to stream on Funimation.

Sonny Boy

High school students recoiling in shock and horror at a strange phenomenon that physically fractures the world around them

Picture: Madhouse

Coming off the industrial and inventive success of such reveals as the primary season of One-Punch Man and Boogiepop and Others, Shingo Natsume returns with an all new authentic sci-fi survival drama in Sonny Boy. The present follows a category of highschool college students who, on the cusp of summer season trip, are mysteriously transported to a different dimension seemingly divorced from area and time together with their faculty constructing. With no grownup supervision or clue as to how they acquired there, the scholars should try and create some sense of order out of the chaos if they’ve any probability of escaping this unusual world, not to mention discovering solutions. Add to the truth that a number of the girls and boys among the many group have instantly acquired unusual and highly effective new supernatural skills, and also you’ve acquired a powder keg of a state of affairs simply ready to burst. What actually units Sonny Boy aside although is its lovely settings and emphasis on the adolescent drama between its characters. Mari Fujino’s artwork route emphasizes daring shade contrasts to depict unique backgrounds, usually counting on pure black to simulate empty voids, and Hisashi Eguchi’s (Good Blue) character designs are paying homage to the anime of the ’70s and ’80s.

Past the floor comparisons to The Lord of the Flies or Kazuo Umezu’s The Drifting Classroom, Sonny Boy is an intriguing sci-fi thriller anchored by relatable coming-of-age tales centered on a forged of memorable and eccentric characters advised with considerable type, humor, and subtlety. —TE

Sonny Boy is offered to stream on Funimation and Hulu.

SSSS. Dynazenon

SSSS. Dynazenon robot bursting out of the ground

Picture: Studio Set off

SSSS.Gridman was one of 2018’s most exciting premieres, reviving certainly one of Tsuburaya Productions’ uncared for franchises into a superb animated love letter to all issues tokusatsu. SSSS.Dynazenon is an excellent continuation of the unique sequence, shifting focus to a different intrepid group of younger heroes led by a mysterious man named Gauma who should band collectively to battle an onslaught of devastating kaiju by way of the mixed would possibly of the remodeling mecha often known as Dynazenon. The sequence’ express connections to the Gridman universe are unfastened however tantalizing, opening up a slew of thrilling potentialities for shared adventures in future whereas establishing its personal tone and stakes aside from its predecessor.

SSSS.Dynazenon ranks as probably the greatest anime that Set off has produced thus far; a rolicking motion mecha sequence with explosive battles, lovely animation, and richly developed characters. —TE

SSSS.Dynazenon is offered to stream on Funimation.

Star Wars: Visions

A sith lord wields a spinny lightsaber contraption in Star Wars: Visions

Picture: Disney Plus/Lucasfilm

Star Wars: Visions brings collectively seven studios and 9 acclaimed administrators together with Hiroyuki Imaishi (Promare) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost within the Shell: Stand Alone Complicated) to inform their very own tales within the Star Wars universe by way of the medium of Japanese Animation. The result’s an anthology of shorts that pushes on the boundaries of what audiences and followers have come to count on from the venerable sci-fi journey epic whereas tapping into the core animating ideas that make it some of the beloved sequence in cinematic historical past. Far faraway from the in any other case stifling homogeneity endemic all through plenty of Star Wars media post-Disney acquisition, the anthology boasts the form of tales you in any other case wouldn’t count on from everybody’s favourite area opera. There’s a bunny lady wielding lightsaber katanas, Tezuka-esque boy robots channeling the pressure, Sith clone youngsters cleaving Star Destroyers in half with super-powered sabers, and different stunning twists on acquainted Star Wars tropes and themes. Greater than that, it’s a self-evident product of a technology of animators paying homage to some of the influential film sequence of all time. From any approach you take a look at it, the Power is robust with this one. —TE

Star Wars: Visions is offered to stream on Disney Plus.

To Your Eternity

Fushi, assuming the form of a wolf, treads beside his owner in To Your Eternity

Picture: Mind’s Base

Many anime have related premises, however To Your Eternity stands out as the just one whose protagonist is an immortal, sentient orb — though Fushi doesn’t keep an orb for lengthy. After a mysterious creator sends the orb to Earth, it slowly begins to be taught from its surroundings, gaining consciousness and the power to remodel into no matter stimulates it. Evolving from a rock to a wolf and ultimately a boy, Fushi begins a heart-wrenching journey of self-discovery as he learns what it really means to be human, from the easy pleasures of consuming fresh-picked fruit to the methods grief and loss are woven into the material of existence. However all through all of it, the sequence by no means loses its sense of hope, discovering magnificence in life’s impermanence and reminding viewers that nothing is ever really gone so long as it lives on in your recollections. —Sadie Gennis

To Your Eternity is offered to stream on Crunchyroll and HBO Max.

Tokyo Revengers

Picture: Liden Movies

When part-timer Takemichi is hit by a prepare, he’s magically transported 12 years into the previous, when he was only a 14-year-old cry child delinquent. Given this second probability, Takemichi is decided to not solely carve out a greater path for himself however use this chance to forestall the long run loss of life of his center faculty girlfriend, Hina, by the hands of the Tokyo Manji Gang. All through the gritty and twist-filled sequence, Takemichi travels between the previous and current solely to find that every new disaster he diverts up to now results in one other tragedy sooner or later. However whereas the time journey thriller offers the present a robust hook, what makes Tokyo Revengers a must-see is its compelling character improvement. With a purpose to change the long run, Takemichi turns into deeply concerned with Tokyo Manji up to now, growing complicated relationships with its members, such because the child-like, however ferocious chief Mikey and the mature-beyond-his-years Draken. An ideal mix of high-octane motion and heartfelt character drama, Tokyo Revengers is rapidly establishing itself as probably the greatest fashionable shonen sequence. —SG

Tokyo Revengers is offered to stream on Crunchyroll and HBO Max.

Uma Musume: Fairly Derby (Season 2)

Special Week and Silence Suzuka in Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

Picture: P.A.Works

Uma Musume: Fairly Derby’s second season places a heart-racing anime twist on the true story of the Japanese racehorse, Tokai Teio. She’s a tough working horse lady who needs to be as quick as her mentor, Symboli Rudolf. Teio is a shoe-in for successful the triple crown, however an surprising harm journeys her up, making issues laborious for her.

With added drama and a smattering of very well-known voice actresses, Uma Musume’s creators handle to tug off an fascinating feat: they actually make you actually care concerning the horses. I realized a lot about actual life Japanese racehorses watching this, and a number of the episodes had me bawling whereas I cheered on Teio. They acquired me good. —JL

Uma Musume: Fairly Derby season 2 is offered to stream on Crunchyroll.

Zombie Land Saga Revenge

A group of zombie idol girls in kimonos staring down

Picture: MAPPA

Zombie Land Saga Revenge picks up the place the primary season left off, persevering with to inform the tales of the distinctive zombie ladies who turned idols. We lastly get to see the backstories for characters like Yugiri, the courtesan from the nineteenth century, in addition to discover out extra concerning the space of Saga. Saga, the prefecture of Japan that the idol group is trying to deliver life again to, appears to be beneath a curse inflicting unlucky accidents to occur to it, stopping it from ever flourishing. The ladies don’t surrender, although. Stuffed with snappy songs and slapstick comedy, Zombie Land Saga Revenge stays a must-watch. —JL

Zombie Land Saga Revenge is offered to stream on Crunchyroll.

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