From the final season of Attack on Titan to the return of Dr Stone and The Promised Neverland, could Winter 2021 be considered as the greatest season of anime ever?
For the entertainment industry, 2020 was pretty rough: theatres around the world closed their doors and big-budget series were delayed as production sets fell silent.
However, as we move into the new year, fans of anime have a level of hype, expectation and child-like excitement surrounding 2021 – in particular, the Winter slate.
From fantastic ongoing series such as Attack on Titan and Jujutsu Kaisen to returning fan-favourites like Dr Stone and The Promised Neverland, Winter 2021 is set to be a memorable season for anime lovers.
So, could this be considered as the greatest slate ever and how does Winter 2021 stack up against other recent seasons of anime?
The ongoing ‘God-Tier’ anime…
When considering how great this season is for anime, there is no other place to start than by talking about the ongoing series i.e., the shows that started in 2020 but continue with new episodes into 2021.
In the Chinese Zodiac calendar, 2021 is the year of the Ox. However, there are millions of people around the world who would contend that this is in fact, the year of the Titan.
The final season of Attack on Titan is arguably the most highly-anticipated anime of all time; all you have to do is check Twitter on a Sunday evening and you’ll see AOT dominate the trending page.
Considering the sheer scale of its fanbase, the incredible story that has been told over the last seven years and even the once-in-a-generation hype-train that we are all on board for, the final season of Attack on Titan provides a crucial foundation for the Winter 2021 anime slate.
However, Attack on Titan does not sit alone atop the anime mountain, with series such as Jujutsu Kaisen, Black Clover, Boruto and One Piece continuing to wow viewers.
In particular, Jujutsu Kaisen has been one of the more important series of the past 12 months. Before the anime premiered, there were concerns about pacing and whether the TV adaptation could live up to the standards of the manga; something that had split the Tower of God and The God of High School communities earlier in the year.
Thankfully, Jujutsu Kaisen managed to deliver on almost every front and can easily be considered as one of the best anime of this slate. So, with the series wrapping up over the next few months, it’s another solid reason why Winter 2021 could be the greatest anime season ever.
This Winter, we have also seen the return of multiple fan-favourite series, including Dr Stone, Re:ZERO, The Promised Neverland, That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime, Beastars and The Quintessential Quintuplets.
However, what is truly exciting about these series returning for new episodes is the variety of emotions and experiences that they have provided fans in the past.
Dr Stone is not only hilarious but it teaches the viewers about science in a fascinating and compelling style, making it one of the most educational series out there (anime or otherwise).
Then we have Re:ZERO, an anime that features some of the best character development and world-building that many fans have ever seen.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have The Promised Neverland. A series with arguably the most emotional storylines in the entire genre that somehow feels both full of hope and completely hopeless at the same time.
Whether it may be reducing fans to tears or fits of laughter, these series have provided and will provide hours of memorable entertainment. Therefore, to have these shows like these returning with new episodes has to be a factor when considering how great this season of anime could be.
New anime on the block…
Winter 2021 is not only stacked with fantastic ongoing and returning series, but also exciting new anime content; So I’m a Spider, So What?, The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter, Heaven’s Design Team and Mushoku Tensei are the ones that particularly stand out.
These four series may not be full of highly-detailed fight sequences or the character development that other big Winter 2021 anime may possess, but they are extremely fun to watch.
Whilst this may be somewhat of an obvious statement, having multiple new series that are both entertaining and enjoyable to relax to is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Therefore, this season not only has the big established series that draws global audiences, but also new gems that may have started their journey to becoming household names.
Now we come to the more interesting aspect of answering this question about Winter 2021: how does it compare to other great seasons of anime?
Whilst it may indeed be a subjective call as to what constitutes a ‘great’ anime season, there are several slates from the past few years that particularly stand out; Summer 2020, Summer 2019 and then in more general terms, 2006, 2014 and 2015.
In Summer 2020, most people were stuck inside under some manner of lockdown. However, the anime during this time was just fantastic. Not only did we have new series becoming instant-classics such as Tower of God, Rent-A-Girlfriend and The God of High School, but several fantastic anime returned for new seasons like Re:ZERO, Fire Force and Food Wars.
However, going back 12 months previous, Summer 2019 also delivered an anime season to remember. Multiple new anime titles premiered for the first time, with series like Demon Slayer, Dr Stone, Vinland Saga and Fire Force going on to become global successes. Other high points included the return of DanMachi and Black Clover, as well as the highly-anticipated debut of Given.
It should also be noted that there have been some incredibly important years for anime; times when we watched unforgettable series’ over 12 months, rather than across one particular season.
In 2006, anime fans were treated to the debut of Gintama and Death Note, as well as Nana and the first two seasons of Black Lagoon.
2014 then brought us the debut of Tokyo Ghoul, Akame ga Kill, The Seven Deadly Sins, Noragami and Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun. Whilst the following year was dominated by Death Parade, Assassination Classroom, Food Wars and One Punch Man.
A subjective call…
Of course, trying to argue that Winter 2021 is or is not the best season of anime ever is an entirely subjective call.
To certain viewers, the best slate may have been when their favourite series premiered or returned. For others, it could be that time when they first got into anime; binging anything and everything that grabbed their attention.
Whilst not everyone will agree with this opinion, I believe that the sheer volume of fantastic new and returning series as well as the global domination of the ongoing titles makes Winter 2021 the best season of anime of all time.
However, considering that the entertainment industry is still trying to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to be thankful that there is so much fantastic anime content available to more fans around the globe than ever before.
Have a comment on the Winter 2021 anime season or feedback on this article? Send an email or leave a comment below with your thoughts.
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]