AniTAY’s Spring 2021 Sequel Guide

Arcane
Arcane
Mar 30 · 15 min read

From baskets of fruits, to lands of zombies.

Header credit: Stanlick

After the absolute deluge of Winter (largely caused by continuing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic), Spring 2021 brings us much fewer titles, but no fewer heavy-hitters. From the highly-anticipated conclusion to Fruits Basket, to the totally-out-of-nowhere Hetalia World Stars and sequels to cult hits Megalobox and Zombie Land Saga (oh, and My Hero Academia is here again too), we’re here as usual to bring you our thoughts on their predecessors and whether these shows are worth the time you’ll need to catch up. (Except for Hetalia, because we have no idea!)

In alphabetical order:

Fruits Basket: The Final

Presented by TheMamaLuigi

Studio: TMS Entertainment

Genres: Drama, Romance, Comedy, Shoujo, Slice of Life

Why You Should Catch Up:

The complex, tragic, and endlessly intriguing tale of Tohru Honda and the Sohma family reaches its conclusion in Fruits Basket: The Final. Following up on the status quo changes that the latter half of the second season wrought upon its characters, this finale sees Tohru, Kyo, Yuki, and the rest of the Sohmas reckon with the fallout that the family head Akito’s actions cause and have caused. The end of the second season saw Tohru’s close friends get entangled in the history and drama of the Sohmas, setting the stage for a season of conflict, resolution, and change both personal and collective. As Tohru reckons with her feelings, romantic and otherwise, towards Kyo and Yuki, will she be forced to choose one over the other? Will the two men resolve their differences for the good of the girl they love? And, most importantly, will Hatsuharu ever find a shirt with sleeves (I hope not)? All these questions and more will be answered as the widely beloved re-adaptation of Fruits Basket reaches its surely stunning finale!

Now, I’ve made it no secret that I love Fruits Basket. Both its first and second seasons were my anime of the year in 2019 and 2020, respectively. No series better captures how empathy begets connection and connection begets growth. With Tohru as its centerpiece for these ideas, the series explores the traumas that define us and how we work to redefine ourselves through the eminence of others. Its emphasis on love in all its various forms reminds us that we are not alone, and that’s a special thing. Tohru’s empathy towards every person she comes across collides with Kyo and Yuki learning how to love and love genuinely. It’s a commentary on our collective pasts — how we cannot let them dictate our futures, but we must learn from them, nonetheless.

Fruits Basket’s exceptional understanding of its characters and the gentleness with which it handles their often extremely traumatic issues reinforces these notions of connection and redefinition. For a family so defined by tradition, by curses that seem impossibly binding, the disruptive force of Tohru’s radical empathy is one that not only brings out the good in others but encourages them to grow on their own terms. No character is slighted in Fruits Basket — everyone blossoms into fully developed, always already changing people. Each may have their role to fulfill within the anime’s larger plot, but they also maneuver within those roles, asserting their individualities, their power as people. And, thus, the show asks us to do the same.

Watch Fruits Basket because it’ll make you bawl. Watch Fruits Basket because it’ll laugh in hysterics. Watch Fruits Basket because it’ll remind you that things will be okay — we have each other, so let’s go eat somen.

Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

  • Fruits Basket (2019) and Fruits Basket 2nd Season — 50 episodes total (20 hours approx.)

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll (subbed), Funimation (dubbed)

Hetalia World Stars

Presented by AoiYamamoto

Studio: Studio Deen

Genre: Comedy

Why You Should Catch Up:

Everything old is new again!

Before girls became boats and men became swords, we had countries anthropized as handsome men. Eleven years ago, Hetalia — Axis Powers became a hit with anime viewers all over; for a few years, you couldn’t hit a convention without seeing cosplays of Italy, Japan, and Germany hamming it up. A second season followed, along with a movie. For a while, the manga, licensed by Tokyopop was out as well. Then, as all fads do, Hetalia fever faded away to make room for the next big trend.

Now, just in time for its tenth anniversary, we have a new season. And, in even more good news, the original voice cast is back! (though it might be interesting to see who Funimation casts for the inevitable dub). As someone who’s watched everything and even read the manga, I can’t wait to see how they update this for the post-Trump age. Afterall, the world has changed a lot since the last time Hetalia aired. Studio Deen is handling the production and staff from The Beautiful World and The World Twinkle return, as well.

Now, a quick summary: What is this show?

For those new to the franchise: this is a series in which Italy and company team up in a time of crisis and figure out how to solve the Coronavirus pandemic.

Just kidding. It’s a comedy series about how the main character, Italy, goes through life and lives through different events in world history. I suspect that this new season will be more of the same. It’s pretty easy to keep up with if you haven’t seen the previous seasons nor the movie. The only plot that I remember from the previous seasons is that it takes place during incidents in WW1 and WW2, Italy (or Italia as the show calls him) is kind of an idiot, Germany is the strict big brother, and that Japan, in one season, made a Gundam. Also, Greece liked cats and France was the Playboy. Another thing I remember is that it is a short, with each episode only five minutes long. I’m a sucker for comedy anime, and I have my own fond memories of Hetalia, so I’m definitely watching this! The summary that I’ve read so far setting up this season only says that ‘something strange will happen.

For fans of this series, saying that something strange will happen is an understatement. I’m looking forward to whatever memes this series might bring with new fans. Perhaps a manga company such as Dark Horse or Yen Press could relicense the manga into omnibuses(hint hint).

I am always on the lookout for short anime as well so this fits the bill, as well. Sometimes, one just wants to watch something short and sweet. History lovers would like this show as well for its look at the past.

How Not to Summon a Demon Lord Ω

Presented by: Doctorkev

Studio: Tezuka Productions/Okuruto Noboru

Genres: Isekai, Fantasy, Ecchi

Why You Should (Not) Catch Up: Yet another tired isekai anime, this time with a questionable ecchi twist. Why this was greenlit for a second season, I’ll never know. In fact, scratch that; it’s to pander to cat girl/elf girl/loli girl/librarian girl/enormous mammary girl/slave girl fetishists. It seems there are a lot of those hiding in the dark, damp corners of anime fandom. You know the type, cowering in those dank basements that smell of stale Doritos, sweaty cheese, abandoned dreams and quiet desperation.

Main character Takuma Sakamoto was one of these socially inept hikikomori morlocks obsessed with the MMORPG Cross Reverie, whose sole life occupation was to roleplay as OP “Demon Lord Diablo.” What do you know? One day he is mysteriously summoned into his videogame world by two fetish-tastic NPC characters who planned to enslave an all-powerful Demon Lord to their collective will. Unfortunately, due to his equipped OP in-game ring with the power of “Magic Reflection,” the summoning rebounds and instead irrevocably enslaves these two young, nubile, and scantily clad maidens to his will, complete with immovable metal slave collars clamped around their necks.

Now Sakamoto (using his “Diablo” alter ego as a cover name) must “hilariously” navigate a painfully generic fantasy world with his two horny slave girls despite never once before conversing with a member of the opposite sex. Maybe he’ll find a way to free them… but does he really want to? In common with rigid genre conventions, Diablo keeps adding yet more stereotypical girls to his harem, despite his complete inability to express his thoughts or opinions. Clearly these girls care not for his mind, only for his colossal demonic masculine appendage.

If you like problematic anime that focuses on and fetishises slavery, then here’s the perfect barely-adequately animated garbage for you to slowly lose your soul to. It’s not all bad. Sometimes the off-colour humour hits, but it’s rarely laugh-out-loud funny. The fact that the upcoming second season is co-produced by the studio that gave us Winter 2021’s risible Hidden Dungeon should cause any potential viewer to pause, back away slowly, then break into a sprint headlong towards something more edifying. Hey, isn’t Shield Hero coming back soon?

Time To Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

  • How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: 12 episodes (5 hours)

Where to Catch Up: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Nomad: Megalobox 2

Presented by Arcane

Studio: TMS Entertainment

Genre: Action, Sports, Drama, Punk, Sci-Fi

Why You Should Catch Up:

Megalobox came directly out of nowhere in 2018 as a weird, retro, sci-fi spiritual successor to Tomorrow’s Joe, right down to the chosen name of its main character Its utterly incredible mix of phenomenal direction and production value, well-replicated nineties aesthetic, and gripping story pulled straight from that era but with a modern cyberpunk twist propelled it to become one of Spring 2018’s massive hits. Oh, and its futuristic soundtrack is banging.

Megalobox was very quickly compared to Cowboy Bebop, and that comparison alone should give you an indicator of how most people reacted to it. In my own review from the time, I gave the show a perfect score (in fact, later I called it the best show of the entire year besides Lupin III Part V) and said that it was almost hard to talk about because highlighting any one aspect of it over another would end up giving me the feeling that I was doing anything I failed to mention a massive disservice.

Honestly, writing a “why” for this one is difficult because it’s hard to capture the way the show sells itself as instantaneously as it does. so my direction to you, the reader, is thus. Wait until nighttime. Turn the lights off. Put this on the best screen you’ve got with your very best sound system…and just watch the first episode.

I personally guarantee you won’t have any desire to stop there.

What You Need to Watch + Time to Catch Up:

  • Megalobox, 13 episodes (required)

My Hero Academia: Season 5

Presented by JaeCreative

Studio: Bones

Genres: Action, fantasy, comedy, shounen, Sci-Fi

Why You Should Catch Up:
My Hero Academia takes place in a corrupt superhuman world where Pro-Heroes have to use their quirks (superpowers) to fight crime and save the quirkless human population from devastation. The show follows Izuku Midoriya and his classmates from UA High School on their journey as they fight to become the world’s greatest heroes. From sports festivals where only the most tactical students survive to practical internships at Professional Hero Agencies, Class 1-A’s students form bonds and kick ass together as they face daily struggles in an ever-changing villainous society.

Although Midoriya is the main protagonist, the show offers a look into the lives of the side characters and provides steady development for everyone. The anime has a few childish moments, but they don’t take away from its virtuous plot. A hero is not judged on a person’s abilities, but rather their determination and willingness to succeed — you don’t need to be strong or pretentious to be a hero. It places you in a world where heroes can lose and face disgraceful consequences, where villains cause chaos for more than “just ‘because” reasoning.

From basic powers like invisibility and creating explosions to erasing quirks, rewinding time, harboring stress, and turning into a meatball, every quirk feels unique, diverse, and tailored to each character. MHA takes inspiration from other anime in the shounen genre such as One Piece, Dragon Ball Z, and Naruto but unlike those superpowered shows, when it comes to Midoriya saving the day, he doesn’t rely on his powers because he originally didn’t have any. Ittakes notes from its predecessors but never tries to be something it isn’t. The characters aren’t as overpowered as you’d see in other anime, and each hero (and villain) has their own weaknesses. Of course, heroes versus villains means good versus evil, but MHA never makes you feel like you have to pick a side, and it’s not a show where the heroes always win. The anime walks us through the daily lives of these high school students as they try to become stronger, braver, and better for the sake of everything in spite of themselves — making it worth the watch.

Time to catch up + what you need to watch:

Essential:

  • TV series: 25 mins (35 hours)
  • My Hero Academia S1: 13 eps (5 hours)
  • My Hero Academia S2: 25 eps (10 hours)
  • My Hero Academia S3: 25 eps (10 hours)
  • My Hero Academia S4: 25 eps (10 hours)

Optional:

  • Movies: 3 hours 9 mins
  • My Hero Academia: Two Heroes: 1 hour 35 mins
  • My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising: 1 hour 44 mins

Where to Catch Up:

  • My Hero Academia seasons 1–4: Hulu, Funimation, Crunchyroll, DVD/Blu Ray
  • My Hero Academia movie: Heroes Rising: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Starz, DVD/Blu Ray
  • My Hero Academia movie: Two Heroes: Amazon Prime, DVD/Blu Ray

SSSS.Dynazenon

Presented by TGRIP

Studio: Studio Trigger

Genre: Mecha, High School Drama

Why You Should Catch Up:

The 2010s weren’t great for the mecha genre, but one of the decade’s best entries for what was once an anime staple was 2018’s SSSS.Gridman. A glorious, understated series, it not only had a near-perfect blend of outstanding 2D and 3D animation, but also boasted great direction and writing, all the while paying homage and respect to not just the Ultraman franchise, but also to more familiar properties like Evangelion and even some unexpected places like a unique line of Transformers toys. Even if you’d never heard of Gridman before, this was a fantastic show that found a smart and surprisingly heartfelt balance between some emotionally heavy storytelling and giant robots fighting kaiju.

Which brings us to Dynazenon, which, despite being called a sequel, it’s hard to tell exactly what we should expect in the upcoming series. There doesn’t appear to be any returning characters, and the titular robot is completely different; all that’s the same is the creative team, from director Akira Amemiya to writer Keiichi Hasegawa, with the music being done once again by Shirō Sagisu. But I’m not worried too much, because if it’s even half as good as its predecessor, this could be another contender for anime of year in what’s already a great year for anime (and who knows, between this and the hidden gem Back Arrow, mecha shows might just be making a comeback in the 2020s…)

Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

  • SSSS.Gridman (12 episodes, about 4.5 hours approx.)

Where to Catch Up: SSSS.Gridman is available for streaming from both Funimation and Crunchyroll (the former of which has an excellent dub).

Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun Season 2

Presented by: Doctorkev

Studio: Bandai Namco Pictures

Genres: School comedy, supernatural, fantasy

Why You Should Catch Up: Iruma-kun is essentially “What if Harry Potter but the main character has no magic, though attends a Hogwarts-esque school anyway through the power of nepotism via his adopted grandad headmaster. Oh, and the rest of the pupils are demons rather than wizards, and if they find out he’s a powerless human then they will kill and eat him.” Don’t worry — it’s not as grim as that might sound, though titular character Iruma does spend much of the first season in constant, mortal fear of his life.

Cursed with genre-standard abusive, neglectful parents, Iruma is sent to work in back-breaking menial jobs rather than attending school. Rescued by an apparently kindly elder demon, he is offered a chance to be adopted and sent to demon school. The hapless Iruma has been conditioned never to disagree with anyone, sealing his fate. Lucky for him that Demon School is a fun, colourful place filled with crazy characters and wacky hijinks.

Iruma quickly makes two dumb but loyal friends, the initially threatening though ultimately subservient Alice Asmodeus (despite his name, he is a boy) and the diminutive whirling force of nature that is Clara Valac. If Clara is prime Best Friend material, imposing Student Council President Ameri Azazel with her imperious demeanour but squishy romance-filled heart is most definitely Best Girl. Severus Snape-alike teacher Kalego Naberius is hilariously forced to become Iruma’s furry, cute demon familiar.

Iruma’s comedy/horror-filled schooldays whizz by in a blur of lucky escapes, insane coincidences, and demented adventures. It’s a heartwarming, gently funny show with real heart. It may be aimed at kids/young teens, but anyone with a human (or demonic) soul should find this entertaining and fun.

Time To Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

  • Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun Season 1: 23 episodes (9.5 hours)

Where to Catch Up: Crunchyroll

Zombie Land Saga: Revenge

Presented by Stínolez

Studio: MAPPA

Genres: Comedy, Music, Supernatural

Why You Should Catch Up:

Zombie Land Saga scratches the right itch for either novice or veteran idol show watchers. Love Live series might be intimidating by the sheer number of seasons for new people wanting to experience idol shows, while for the experienced viewer, every new season can look like a reskin of the previous one and bore them to death. So, if you’re looking for a new experience, Zombie Land Saga will welcome you with open arms — or the a front bumper of Truck-kun.

The main selling point of this series is definitely its characters. The idol group is composed of seven girls, each from different places and even historical periods, raised from the dead as zombies. That alone allows for interesting comedic situations like a rap battle in an elderly home accompanied by the tunes of classical Japanese instruments, like shamisen. In this melting pot of a show, you have pretty much everything: a child actress prodigy, two former idols (separated by almost a generation), a normal wannabe idol girl, a yankee and rebellious biker girl, a courtesan from the Meiji era, and a mysterious last girl nobody knows anything about. Mix this with an overly energetic producer with his zombie dog and enjoy the ride.

Although characters are very important in any idol show, music is what draws people to this genre. What separates Zombie Land Saga from the others is its willingness to experiment. Not only does it contains the typical music you’d expect in any idol show, but it broadens its genre repertoire to already- mentioned rap and even black metal. It’s nice sometimes not knowing if they will go the standard or the unconventional route.

From a visual perspective, studio MAPPA brought its A-game. Every aspect of this series shows the love put into the art, from its character designs to backgrounds, even in the areas where other series rely upon 3D animation. The stunning visuals are the perfect cherries on top of already great cake.

Lastly, there is a small warning from me: there are two things to be wary about. First one is Koutarou — the idol group producer. His energetic and sometimes eccentric behaviour can be easily viewed as abusive, especially in the moments where he disregards any rights belonging to the zombie girls. I’m no lawyer, but I’m quite sure that no country in the world explored the possibility of basic human laws applying to zombies, so try not to read too much into it. Secondly, one of the characters was revealed to be a trans girl. It started a big discourse among many viewers, quickly followed by lots of hateful and transphobic comments on social media and community forums. You’ll be better off without following these so-called controversies and simply enjoy the show and characters for what it is and who they are.

Time To Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

  • Zombie Land Saga (12 episodes, 5 hours approx.)

Where to Catch Up:

Crunchyroll (subbed), Funimation (dubbed)

This is AniTAY, an anime and manga enthusiast website, run by contributors from around the world, united by a general enthusiasm for Japanese and Asian cultures. Please check out our other work, like our earlier Winter 2021 and Fall 2020 Anime recommendation lists.

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