Anime is becoming more and more popular, and it’s easy to see why. The massive number of anime genres provide options for any viewer to enjoy, and the unique humor and interesting plotlines provide a refreshing mix-up from the television series Western viewers are used to. Yet, for some, it can be difficult to know what to watch and where to start. Even dedicated anime fans sometimes get lost.
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There are plenty of new anime series out there with options for just about any viewer’s taste, and the best anime 2021 gave to the world can be streamed on either Hulu, Funimation, or Crunchyroll!
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Updated on April 6th, 2022 by Tanner Fox: 2021 may be over, but, given the incredible amount of anime series that debuted over the previous year, there’s no reason to move on from it just yet. From unbearably adorable slice of life series to heartbreaking wartime tragedies wrapped up in a mecha series similar to Mobile Suit Gundam, 2021 saw the debut of more than a few anime offerings that shouldn’t be missed by fans.
While 2022 will feature long-anticipated releases such as the second season of The Rising of the Shield Hero and the sixth season of My Hero Academia, 2021 was full of can’t-miss content.
Combatants Will Be Dispatched – Available On Funimation
Looking for a light-hearted and goofy fantasy adventure? In All Combatants Will Be Dispatched, an evil organization is close to world domination and looking for new lands to conquer. Their genius scientist creates a machine that will send Agent Six and his new android partner to a new world to spy and prepare for an invasion. Unfortunately for Agent Six, he walks right into a raging battle between a human kingdom and the Demon Lord’s forces.
Will he be able to collect enough Evil Points to purchase the gear he needs to survive? This anime is silly, charming, and full of fan service, making it great to sit back, relax, and laugh at.
Blue Period – Available on Netflix
A critically-acclaimed manga series adapted by Seven Arcs, Blue Period tells the tale of Yatora Yaguchi, a popular student who excels at nearly everything and is desperate to find another avenue through which to challenge himself. He discovers the world of art and dedicates himself to becoming a master painter, though he seems to lack the effortless talent he wields in almost every other area of his life.
A drama slice of life series, Blue Period is often compared unfavorably to the manga, but it remains a beautiful and enthralling adaptation nonetheless.
The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent – Available On Funimation
A 20-year-old woman named Sei works in an office—that is, until she’s whisked away to a fantasy world where she’s supposed to banish dark magic as a Saint. Yet, Sei wasn’t the only Saint summoned, and so she gets pushed to the side, which is just fine by her.
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After opening a successful business, she thinks her life is set, but what happens when the other girl isn’t up to the task? This fantasy slice of life anime mixes up the typical anime formula to provide viewers with a unique experience.
HoriMiya – Available on Hulu & Crunchroll
An amalgam of the two feature characters’ names, Horimiya is a romance anime revolving around the budding relationship between the timid homebody Kyokoy Hori and the timid boy with a dark side Izumi Miyamura. While it doesn’t do much to escape from genre norms, it’s an adorable single-season series that fans of slice of life romance series will thoroughly enjoy.
While Horimiya mostly focuses on the two main characters, it also places a not-insignificant emphasis on their classmates and friends and the relationships they share with those around them. All in all, while not groundbreaking, it’s a great example of the genre at its best.
The World Ends With You: The Animation – Available On Hulu & Funimation
This anime literally has it all; it’s replete with mystery, epic plot twists, a bit of romance, action, a unique art style, a killer soundtrack, and more! Join Neku as he wakes up in what appears to be a video game with no memory, a cute partner asking for his trust, and beings called Reapers sending creatures called Noise in their direction.
The World Ends With You: The Animation is highly creative, masterfully created, and will keep fans guessing right up until the end.
Wonder Egg Priority – Available on Funimation
Wonder Egg Priority is an original anime series produced by CloverWorks, a studio best known for its work on 2018’s Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. Beautifully animated but utterly bizarre, the series Ai Ohto who, shortly after a tragedy, comes to possess a mysterious egg that hatches a human. Ai is tasked with protecting this human and embarking on a series of strange adventures that may result in the resurrection of her deceased best friend.
Very emotional and undeniably odd, Wonder Egg Priority may not be for everyone, but its unique premise and eye-catching style warrant a watch.
Mars Red – Available On Funimation
Fantasy and video game anime are all well and good, but some viewers prefer super serious and dark anime with a dash of vampirism thrown in for good measure. Luckily for these fans, Mars Red has what they need.
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It’s 1923 and vampires have begun infesting Tokyo due to the illegal trade of an artificial blood source. Colonel Yoshinobu Maeda has been assigned the task of leading a unit of vampires to kill or recruit vampires in the city. Tragedy is no stranger to this anime.
Sonny Boy – Available on Hulu & Funimation
Sonny Boy has to be one of the strangest new anime series to have premiered over the previous year. When a classroom full of students shifts into a void-like other dimension, they develop preternatural abilities akin to superpowers and struggle to establish a sort of society in their weird new confines.
Taking more than a few notes from the Drifting Classroom horror manga as well as the classic novel Lord of the Flies, it can be tough to keep track of which way is up when watching Sonny Boy, but, for some, that’s the hallmark of an excellent anime series.
Shadows House – Available On Funimation
A family hidden away from humanity in a gigantic mansion has a strangeness about them; they are all black silhouettes and sometimes produce soot from their bodies. Each family member receives a living doll to be their servant and their face.
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The cheerful Emilico is one of these dolls. Newly created and learning about the meaning of her existence, Emilico stumbles upon something curious in the mansion but is told not to worry about it. Any fan of anime looking to get completely creeped out is sure to enjoy Shadows House.
Seven Knights Revolution: Hero Successor – Available On Crunchyroll & VRV
Epic heroes from a time gone by once fought the forces of destruction and came out on top, and their powers were transferred far into the future. Fairia, a successor of one of the hero’s powers, saves a boy named Nemo in an attack. Yet, during the battle, Nemo also becomes a successor. Unfortunately for Nemo, no one knows about the hero whose powers he inherited. As the present and past begin to collide, Nemo realizes he is in the center of it all.
This fantasy anime based on a video game definitely sticks with the typical anime tropes, but sometimes fans want something familiar but new to relax to.
86 – Crunchyroll
Giant robots and complex political theater sounds like an odd combination, and, given that mecha-centric media is typically reserved for Japanese audiences, 2021’s 86 seems like it may be a tough sell for some Westerners. However, shows like Code Geass and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans prove that hyper-political mecha anime can cross cultural barriers.
Featuring themes of fascism and racial divide, 86 takes place in a world in which a degraded race of mecha pilots must fight for an elite society that disparages them. It’s far from a relaxing or feel-good watch, but 86 is perhaps one of the most compelling anime to debut in 2021.
ODDTAXI – Available On Crunchyroll & VRV
Odokawa is a walrus taxi driver. After meeting several interesting characters in his taxi, he is then plopped into the middle of a mystery as the police and yakuza both think he had something to do with a young girl’s disappearance.
Join Odokawa as he traverses a bizarre city attempting to solve the mystery of the missing girl while a duo of corrupt cops chase him. This anime as unique as it is thrilling.
To Your Eternity – Available On HBO Max
When a sphere known only as It drops from the sky, a great adventure to experience and explore the depths of humanity begins. The sphere is able to take on the body of whatever is reflected in it and eventually takes the form of a wolf and gains consciousness. It then meets a young and badly hurt boy who has decided to look for his people. The only question is, how far can the boy make it alone?
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To Your Eternity is calm, captivating, and a little sad, and is sure to be a great anime for any fan looking for a deep experience.
Those Snow White Notes – Available On Crunchyroll & VRV
Setsu was taught to play the shamisen by his grandpa who, before dying, told him that, if he is only going to play what others have written, he should give up the instrument. After his grandpa’s death, Setsu moves to Tokyo, where his mother jumps back into his life. He meets a young girl who encourages him to create a shamisen club.
Those Snow White Notes is a masterfully created slice of life anime focusing on self-exploration and growth.
Tokyo Revengers – Available On Crunchyroll & VRV
Takemichi is 26 and always getting picked on, and he is constantly apologizing to his younger boss at work. A train is about to end his life when he has a flashback to the past where he attempts to save his middle school girlfriend from being murdered in the future. But, when he flashes back to real life, he isn’t dead, and the future has been rewritten!
What else can Takemichi change, and are there deeper designs than he realizes surrounding the murder of his former girlfriend?
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About The Author
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Forrest Brandenburg is a list writer for Screen Rant specializing in anime nerdism. Forrest graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in English Creative Writing and Communications and has backgrounds in Education and Leadership. His past work experiences include window washing, MMA personal training, Chinese food delivery, national communications coordinating, and more. Yet his real passions include fantasy novels, anime, beat boxing, electronic music, PC and Xbox gaming, and various outdoor activities specific to places like Colorado.
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