2021 for sure is going to have some excellent anime offerings. Some you might already be chomping at the bit for, some might have flown under your radar, but either way, throw them all away if they’re not on this list! (kidding, please watch whatever you love, but check out what we think is going to be good too?)
The big one to watch this year! The story of the first African Samurai in the Sengoku period, a confidant and friend of the legendary Oda Nobunaga, a figure who already has way too much anime about them. The real-life Yasuke originally came to Japan in service of Jesuit missionaries, but impressed Nobunaga with his strength and fluent Japanese, and went on to fight many battles in service of the daimyō*. But this show has mechs and magic too! Just in case you forgot it was an anime.
The project is helmed by LeSean Thomas, notable for working on tonnes of fan-favourite cartoons such as Kim Possible, Ben 10, Batman Brave and the Bold, and, very importantly, Black Dynamite and The Boondocks (the first two seasons, the best two), and will feature the incredible LaKeith Stanfield as the voice of the titular hero. This is the kind of dream project that brought us legendary shows like Samurai Champloo and Afro Samurai! If there’s one title you keep an eye out for in 2021, Yasuke should be it.
*This information comes from multiple historical accounts that sometimes don’t match up (as history is wont to do), so we encourage you to do your own research, too!
Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time (Cinemas)
“Bye-bye, all of Evangelion.”
That’s the line Studio Khara and Hideaki Anno fed us last year when they finally dropped the release date for the final film in this ambitious quadrilogy, and really, this ambitious series, because this isn’t just the end of the Rebuild films, it’s the end of a saga spanning twenty-six years!
Whether or not this film will deliver on all the promises made, all the mysteries set up, all the delays, the 26 years of crazed fandom, and the eight years since the last movie (did you know Anno said in 2008 that movies 3 and 4 were meant to be released simultaneously?), remains to be seen, but either way, this movie will finally, hopefully, let Shinji and the rest of the Eva pilots rest (and US). Haven’t they earned that?
Beastars Season 2 (Netflix)
Even though it fumbled the bag in the final few episodes with that strange plot-swan dive into the tiger mafia and animal trafficking… The first season of Beastars was still really exceptional, when it was about the high school drama, power dynamics and prejudice. The Drama Club performance was the highlight of season one and no one can tell me otherwise. If the second season has more of that, and drip feeds us more clues about the secret killer on campus, it could be even better than the first season.
SK8 The Infinity (AnimeLab)
Kick-flipping off the massive success of sports anime at the moment, we have an original contender from Studio Bones, a skateboarding show! Skaters who compete in “S” race down an abandoned mine, and “beef” with the other competitors in intense boarding battles. (Let it be known that the official blurb for this show placed the word “beef,” in quotation marks, I found that funny and I think we should all appreciate it). If you’re a fan of Free! definitely check SK8 out, as they both have the same director, Hiroko Utsumi.
Wonder Egg Priority (AnimeLab)
With a goofy name like that, how could your interest not be piqued, right? What is the wonder egg? Why is it being prioritised? What is wondrous about it!? The original anime by CloverWorks, who worked on the incredibly popular Promised Neverland and Bunny Girl Senpai shows, looks very cute, but has already tackled some heavy in its first episode. After finding a “magical egg” from a gacha machine in an abandoned arcade, main character Ai’s reality starts blending with her dreams in unexpected, sometimes horrific ways, channelling her social anxiety and loneliness. If you like horror and some gritty subject matter, this is definitely one to watch.
BONUS: Devil May Cry (Netflix)?
Adi Shankar announced in 2018 that he and Netflix were working on a Devil May Cry anime, that would connect to the fantastic Castlevania series that the two of them have been producing for a few years now. Since then, the only crumb, the morsel, the smidgeon of news we’ve got on this is seeing Dante’s sword, Rebellion, in the background of a Castlevania episode. If we put this show on this list, I believe we can manifest it into coming out this year, after all, we wouldn’t lie to you and say to expect it in 2021 if it’s not coming out in 2021, so if it’s here it must be coming!