Winter 2021 Anime Picks & Early Thoughts

I’m doing better with anime this season than I have the past few years even, keeping up (or regularly catching up in bulk) with loads of shows rather than only being able to watch a couple and being at like episode 2 when the show is near the ending already. The reason? I’m not sure, but I can say all the good shows this season are definitely at the very least a part of why, so lets talk about them. I actually like everything I even tried.

Ura Sekai Picnic

Since seeing the title I’ve had a feeling this was a play on “Roadside Picnic” – and once you actually watch the show it’s absolutely clear that it is. If you’re not familiar with that book, you might know the fairly popular PC game series S.T.A.L.K.E.R. which is also directly inspired by its basic premise and setting – either way it basically deals with another world (in that case a fictionalized version of the aftermath of the nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine), the creatures within it, the mystery of the place and everything in it, and a lot of collecting “artifacts” to sell to researchers. Ura Sekai Picnic is basically a mix of a lot of Roadside Picnic and a good dose of Blue Reflection. I really like it so far from the premise alone and the theories I already have about the ‘other side’.

When I say a “lot” of Roadside Picnic I mean this is basically 100% it aside being cute girls and (so far) more lighthearted – but practically everything, no, pretty LITERALLY everything about the “other side” in this show is identical, even down to the same artifacts being around that can kill you and you can’t see them at all so they, just like in STALKER/RP, carry around bolts to throw to detect them. Any theory of it being “maybe” inspired by Roadside Picnic isn’t worth mentioning because it just IS. The only change aside the cast and tone is the cause of the monsters specifically and the fact that the place isn’t overrun with bandits and military units. Oh right, they even call the place The Zone. Episode 1 is a “oh this seems a lot like it”, but episode 2 really just says “No, yeah, this is literally Roadside Picnic.”

What I’m trying to say is this show is great because it’s VERY literally STALKER with girls.

Attack on Titan Final Season

I can’t use a screenshot it would be spoilers no matter fucking what it was!

Amazing as you should expect by now from this series that started out as a “lets laugh at this really stupid shonen” to one of the best put together pieces of fiction ever. I don’t know how they plan to finish things in only 16 episodes unless “Final Season” has “Final Season part 2” which will be ridiculous, but I’m still excited. The one ‘negative’ I can say is that season 3 had these INCREDIBLE cliff hangers EVERY episode making you feel so strongly that you NEEDED to see the next episode ASAP. This time the episodes end on good exciting notes but it lacks the oomph of the huge twists/reveals that last season would end EVERY SINGLE EPISODE ON. Still fucking cool though and we finally get to see titans against conventional weaponry. Every episode has been fantastic so far.

I’ve heard there are lots of complaints about the CG and Mappa’s overall work with this, but I think it’s totally fine. The general art is fantastic and they mimic the style very convincingly, and honestly the CG work is done far BETTER than before – just, yes, they do use it a little much. However, it really hasn’t bothered me at all. Not saying it’s a good thing but it really has not detracted whatsoever for me from the show because even when it’s there it’s done totally fine.

I still am blown away by what AoT has become.

Horimiya

Sadly fewer and fewer shows like this are coming out these days even though they’re some of my favorite, so I was pretty excited to watch this even if I completely forgot for weeks that it had even started. I did finally get to it though and it starts with Fango asking his students to go to the beach with him so he can ogle them and a real cute not-Ritsu and the lead girl (Hori) is voiced by fucking Tomatoes, so I was glad to have finally remembered and a little upset at myself for almost missing this one.

Beyond those things, it really does fall right into some of what I like most for my stories, right off the bat there’s great character chemistry and really sweet moments as well as a few big steps you expect to be things hinted at now and coming up 8 episodes later that are dealt with in the very first 24 minutes. I really like this so far after the first few episodes – fun characters that are a mix between very typical for this style of story yet just unique enough and sort of a mix of not just romantic stuff but also a lot about connections and coming of age stuff, really nice art style, fun comedy especially between the two dudes that everyone thinks are homos, sweet moments, this great formation of the chemistry between Hori and Miya (and Miya and the friend group) that feels a bit more natural in how it happens and the pacing of it than usual, its got all the things (so far) that I want and yet have not been being made lately. Definitely one of my favorites of the season right now.

Back Arrow

Gorou Taniguchi returns! One of my all time favorite anime is GunxSword by Taniguchi, and of course there are plenty of other titles of his that are great to just outright amazing too; some you might be more familiar with would be the obvious Code Geass, Maria The Virgin Witch, Planetes, Active Raid, etc – and every single one is so unique while being within the boundaries of more conventional ideas (and usually having pretty ugly mech designs). Every show he makes is so fun and entertaining as all hell and very much “its own thing” and this feels like yet another one of his shows in every possible way – you could easily guess this is a Taniguchi anime just from watching an episode or even a random clip or something. I mean it starts out with a naked guy from space turning into a mech and girls dressed like they’re cowboys.

Cells At Work BLACK

I really like this, probably more than the main series – which is how I figured I’d feel if they ever animated this. It’s just so much more interesting than a nice slice of life to see how MOST people’s bodies actually are and how the stupid decisions most people make impact them such as smoking or drinking, rather than happy go lucky days of cute cells. Also the white blood cells in this body are FAT TITTY LADIES. It comes off at times almost like a PSA which is both annoying and really intriguing at the same time, but I do think the way it is more blatant about them being inside someone and self aware of that kind of doesn’t come off as good to me as in the normal series which obfuscates it at least a little bit. Also going on about erections for an episode was just weird, aside all the penis stuff though (and including it, actually), the show is pretty dark with loads of death and chaos – it really is totally different than the normal show and is pretty messed up most of the time as a sort of showcase of how fucked up you’re making things for your body when you don’t take care of it.

Cells At Work 2

It’s just more Cells At Work – which is still great, but like I said, I’m actually enjoying BLACK way more, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love this too. Still as fun and enjoyable as always and this time we get to spend more time with a lot more of the other cells and such too. Hearing HanaKana again is also wonderful.

SK8 The Infinity

Initial D with skateboards! There have been a lot of Initial D style shows without cars – even one that was all bicycles that almost nobody watched (no, not yowamushi pedal which is nothing like it and is a shitty shounen for kids, but this bad boy right here – OverDrive – which I very much recommend.) I also absolutely love the stupidity of what they think skateboarding culture is like. The way they use the dual leads is also pretty cool, you get a guy who is already really talented at skating and then you’re introduced to a guy who never even heard of it – but turns out he’s great at snowboarding and because of that he gets right into skateboarding and uses his skills as a snowboarder to give a twist to his skate style while also giving a good excuse to go over the basics of skating (and even making skateboards somewhat) for the narrative and having some real silly moments. Several cute anime moms too. I’m loving everything about this already. There’s even an EVIL SUPER PRO SKATER voiced by fucking Dio.

ALSO THEY DRIFT THE FUCKING SKATEBOARDS.

Wonder Egg Priority

Feels like someone took Persona and mixed it with Blue Reflection (somehow that came up twice this season) as it’s a mix of this shut-in girl fighting to save other kids from trauma (to save her dead? friend) in some kind of other-world with her fighting within herself through doing so as well. It’s interesting and has nice animation, with an art style similar to KyoAni – which means you get to see something that looks pretty without putting up with everyone looking like K-ON clones and a watered down story where they remove characters for being male and thus not having high merchandise potential. I like it so far. She also has a keyblade made of one of those multiple colored pens.

Yuru Camp 2

Yuru Camp is back and not with another awful pointless mini-episode series, but a true sequel and, well, it’s more episodes of the girls going camping and talking about camping. Fun, relaxing, comfy as ever.

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