The Best Animes of 2021


Elyse Brill , Photography Editor

Although 2021 was riddled with delays and reshuffled calendars in every aspect of entertainment, anime has grown an immense amount of popularity. Online school is the best time to catch up on some of your favorite animes. Here are the best shows to keep you entertained until school is back in-person!


Release date: January 10
Director: Hiroko Utsumi
Animation production: Bones

Sk8 the Infinity is equal parts radical and ridiculous. Filled to the brim with emotional acuity and gentle, good-natured humor, its visuals are high energy, splattered with vivid and contrasting colors. It depicts a group of hardcore skaters participating in a secret, no holds barred skateboarding competition in an abandoned mine. The show has emotional grounding through the relationship between Reki Kyan, a high school sophomore, and new Canadian transfer student Langa Hasegawa. Like the best sports animes, Sk8 the Infinity highlights the interesting rapport between competitors and allies alike, with implicit tension between Reki and Langa as the former deals with feelings of insecurity about how quickly his close friend picks up new skills. Unlike many other animes, the protagonist is not preternaturally gifted, and the show finds compelling characterization through the hardships that come with hard-won talent through a lot of practice. Filled with robot skateboards, skaters dress as matadors and ninjas, incredible voice casting, and a journey through insecurity, Sk8 the Infinity is a phenomenal feel-good anime.

Where to Watch: Funimation, Amazon Prime Video



Release date: April 11
Director: Tsutomu Hanabusa
Animation production: Studio Puyukai

When part-timer Takemichi is hit by a train, he is magically transported 12 years into the past, bringing him to his life as a 14-year-old crybaby delinquent. Given this second chance, Takemichi is determined to not only carve out a better path for himself but also to prevent the future death of his middle school girlfriend, Hina, at the hands of the Tokyo Manji Gang. Throughout the gritty and twist-filled series, Takemichi travels between the past and present only to discover that each new crisis he diverts in the past leads to another tragedy in the future. While the time travel mystery gives the show a strong hook, what makes Tokyo Revengers a must-see is its compelling character development. In order to change the future, Takemichi becomes deeply involved with Tokyo Manji, developing complex relationships with its members, such as the child-like, but ferocious leader Mikey and the mature-beyond-his-years Draken. A perfect blend of high-octane action and heartfelt character drama, Tokyo Revengers is quickly establishing itself as one of the best modern shonen series.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, HBO Max



Release date: October 3, 2020-21
Director: Sunghoo Park
Animation production: MAPPA

The story follows high school student Yuji Itadori as he joins a secret organization of Jujutsu Sorcerers in order to kill a powerful Curse named Ryomen Sukuna, of whom Yuji becomes the host and houses a demon inside him. Jujutsu Kaisen’s magic appeal lies in its knowing embrace and subversion of genre tropes, letting the audience think they’re in on what the show’s planning before veering sharply off course. It plays with the familiar elements of battle shonen as its supporting cast of characters articulate themselves as the common fighting tropes. Their ability to express feelings during battle gives a fun twist to explaining all of their abilities.

Where to Watch: Funimation, Crunchyroll, HBO Max



Release date: January 9
Director: Masashi Ishihama
Animation production: Cloverworks

An isolated and intense young man Izumi Miyamura doesn’t receive much positive attention from his high school classmates, nor does he try to. This all changes in a chance encounter with his popular classmate Kyoko Hori outside of school, where both discover that their first impressions of one another couldn’t have been more wrong. Kyouko Hori is a popular high school girl, who, despite her ostentatious appearance, excels in academics, has a family-loving character, and acts like a different person outside of school. Though the manga on which the anime is based has been running for years, Horimiya wastes no time in building the romantic overtures between the two, focusing on the emotional consequences of their relationship rather than merely the step-by-step buildup. It’s a double-edged sword, as its breakneck pacing can feel disorientating. But it is salvaged by its elliptical approach to storytelling, viewing Miyamura and Hori’s burgeoning relationship as a collection of different moments rather than a will they/won’t they courtship. As a result, it feels like a more naturalistic, but no less touching, approach to romance.

Where to Watch: Funimation, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu



Release date: January 13
Director: Shin Wakabayashi
Animation production: Cloverworks

Wonder Egg Priority follows 14-year-old Ai Ooto as she fights to protect the souls of dead teenage girls housed within the eponymous “wonder eggs.” The high quality of the show’s animation proves immediately striking, full of spectacular, high-flying, and allegorical action. Wonder Egg Priority details how girls are preyed upon under specific social structures, leaving them vulnerable. It uniquely displays imagery and visual language used to portray the girls’ reclamation of their own agency and their retribution against their abusers. It combines this with various dreamscapes and nuanced characters, mixed with thorny meta-commentary on the narrow line between publicizing and discussing such traumas and exploiting them.

Where to Watch: Funimation



Release date: September 25
Director:Koji Masunari Katsuya Asano
Animation production: Seven Arcs

Yatora Yaguchi is perceived as a delinquent to most, but in actuality, he’s an earnest guy. He gets good grades and has a thriving group of friends, but he’s bored with his stagnant life. After being inspired by an upperclassman’s beautiful painting, he begins to study art. However, as somebody who was always successful without much effort, he’s shocked by the amount of work he has to put forward to become a master of the arts. He struggles while comparing his work to his classmate’s, but persists due to his newly discovered passion for art. While the animation in Blue Period isn’t anything particularly phenomenal, the story it tells is relatable to anyone who has creative hobbies.

Where to Watch: Netflix



Release date: March 27
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Animation production: Bones

The continuing adventures of Izuku Midoriya, a boy born without powers where that is the norm, have become reliably entertaining in their mixture of memorable characters with expansive world-building, and attention to every mundane detail. The show’s fourth season depicted both an incredibly high-stakes battle with the villain Overhaul and his creepy yakuza henchmen and a whimsy school festival. Season five picks up once again at school, through the battle between classes 1A, full of our protagonists and favorite characters, and 1B, determined to prove that they’re not just “the other class.” It’s told with exciting animation that brings to life the dynamic and chaotic paneling of Horikoshi’s manga. Though confined to the school grounds, it’s fun to see the clash of its student body’s diverse, imaginative, and hilarious array of powers.

Where to Watch: Funimation, Hulu



Release date: September 22
Director: Various
Animation production: Trigger, Science Saru, Studio Colorido, Kamikaze Douga, Production I.G., Kinema Citrus, Geno Studio

Star Wars: Visions is a collection of animated short films presented by widely known anime creators. It offers a new, diverse perspective on Star Wars, allowing a talented group of directors and animators to play around with form and their own perceptions of Star Wars. Many of their short films happen to overlap. However, in its best moments, Visions feels like an open playground for a group of animators who don’t often get to take the lead on projects as high-profile as this one.

Where to Watch: Disney Plus