Boy, those words above from an episode of TV that’s 40 years old (and set in a war almost 70 years ago) really sum up the feeling that I’m sure pervades most of the world as the horror that 2020 has been comes to a close. So, to bolster our spirits, let’s take a look ahead at the anime scheduled to come in 2021.
Welcome to “12 Days of AniTAY 2020”, a writing challenge in which I look to have an article a day for 12 days leading up to Christmas, all centered in some way on anime or anime-related topics. You can find re-posts of my 2018 and 2019 series (posted originally on the late TAY and AniTAY Kinja sites) now here on Medium.
Just looking at Winter 2021 and the planned schedule, lord, the sequels are coming thick and fast. Just on my list of (planned, eventual) watches are Re:Zero 2nd Season Part 2, Yuru Camp Season 2, Quintessential Quintuplets 2, Cells at Work 2, Yatogame-chan 3, That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime season 2, Log Horizon(!!) season 3. And that doesn’t count the spin-off Cells at Work Black (which is also on my list), nor new seasons of The Promised Neverland, Beastars, Uma Musume: Pretty Derby, Show by Rock, and World Trigger (none of which are on my list).
Looking further ahead, which is less certain on dates, or even if they’ll make it into 2021, are sequels for How Not to Summon a Demon Lord, The Slime Diaries spinoff, Rising of the Shield Hero, My Next Life as a Villainness, Fruits Basket’s final season, Kaguya-sama, potentially Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (my bet is, after the KyoAni fire + the COVID delays, this doesn’t make 2021, or at best makes it way late), Rental Girlfriend, Science Fell in Love So I Tried to Prove It, Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out, Demon Girl Next Door, Zombieland Saga, and Isekai Quartet, just to name a few.
The New Series
New series are often harder to quantify in advance. Looking ahead, I see several isekais (main character is transported to another world, often but not always via reincarnation). So I’m a Spider, So What? is definitely going on my list, though, for the voice cast alone (Aoi Yuuki and Eri Kitamura jump out, now that I think about it, reuniting Madoka and Sayaka again). On the other hand, there look like some by-the-book, formulaic ones coming along, too, that I’ll probably give a miss. I see some school romance-y type shows, probably worth looking into (certainly the kind of thing that I might watch with my wife if it’s any good). Plenty of fantasy stories coming up next season for sure, but I’ll be looking for more slice-of-life/comedies, so Horimiya is currently parked on my “plan to watch” list, unless I hear/see something to change that opinion.
I’ve never done much in the way of seeing anime movies in theater; the fact that I saw two in 2019 was a distinct aberration. Depending on release dates and theater availability, the Fate/Grand Order Camelot arc movies would be something I’d like to see (eventually, even if not in theater), and supposedly there’s another Prisma Illya movie coming, although I still need to get through the series and first movie before that point. Somewhere in the future (maybe not 2021) they’re supposed to release a Yuru Camp movie, which, unless it’s a “recap” movie, would be on my “must watch” list.
I almost called this “home video releases,” because I am an old. But just taking a peek at pre-orders on the major sites for US releases, in no particular order, we have KonoSuba season 2, Ascendance of a Bookworm, recent seasons of Bang Dream! and Food Wars and Attack on Titan, Fruits Basket Season 2, more releases of long runners like Boruto, DBZ, Fairy Tale, and One Piece, Bofuri, Fate/Grand Order Babylonia, and Koiseru Asteroid. Personally, I’m only interested right now in KonoSuba, and whenever it comes, Isekai Quartet 2. I’d love to be able to get the Fate blu-rays, but they’re in Aniplex pricing hell, which is right now, only limited editions available for pre-order, 2 parts to it, and they’re currently at $120 and $100 each. It’s a pretty steep price tag. (You know it’s bad when they do a re-release of Sword Art Online as a single collection, and you’re impressed it’s “only” $160…)
The State of Anime in 2021
So, some things that will be interesting to watch for in this upcoming year. First of all, I believe Kyoto Animation is looking to get back into “the swing of things” in 2021 — I know COVID delayed (again) several of their film releases, along with undoubtedly pushing back whatever their next TV series is. I want to say it was possibly Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid season 2, or another sequel, presumably under the theory that getting out a sequel with a “guaranteed” fan base might go easier than doing something all-new.
In streaming news, Funimation announced just the other week that they would be purchasing streaming competitor Crunchyroll. As someone with a yearly subscription to each, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on — how soon will this sale/merger happen? What will be the end result — a single service, two services, etc.? How much will it cost me — I’m not necessarily averse to “two services at one cost” if the cost is less than I’m paying now for them separately. A big concern is, will there be any improvements in streaming / websites / apps after the merger. I generally use the Playstation apps for both services, and have used the websites (moreso Crunchyroll, as my Funimation subscription is much more recent) a lot less, but I’ve seen many many complaints about both, and in my own experience, the best I can say about the apps is that they’re “serviceable.” Also, what’s going to happen with Sentai/HiDIVE? Will they still be on VRV with Crunchyroll until that licensing agreement runs out? Will they go off on their own again? And a sneakier question — Funimation is part of Sony now. Aniplex is also part of Sony (I think it may be “under” the Funimation umbrella now, although I’m not sure, could be the other way around, or both are siblings under the same Sony division). Does this mean that more Crunchyroll shows are going to be consigned to Aniplex pricing hell? Setting all that aside, with less competition in streaming services, will that lead to a decrease in coverage of the shows airing in Japan, as there will be one less service (presumably) competing for viewers and thus trying to grab as many shows as possible to look better for subscribers.
Another thing to keep tabs on is the state of anime conventions and expos in 2021 — how many shift back to in-person, how many stay online, how many adopt a newer hybrid approach? Similarly, how will our ‘local’ anime stores do? I know the one I go to a few times a year (usually, although sadly not this year — but I *did* make at least one internet purchase from them to help keep up the support) seems to be surviving, but that could quite possibly be “just barely.” Hopefully, we can start approaching more ‘normality’ in terms of our living and shopping, which will help local businesses substantially. But there’s always that concern of, how many survived the initial hit, only to be slowly but mortally wounded? (Or, how many might succumb with another wave of closures?)
The biggest one of course is, while we have vaccines starting to be rolled out, will there still be additional “waves” of COVID-19 infection that affect all of the above areas — production of anime, conventions, in-person shopping, ability to see films in theaters, the works.
So, lots of things remain to be seen, but it does feel like 2021 is already looking up from 2020 (not that after 2020’s second half, it had anywhere to go BUT up). Let’s hope that turns out to be the case. In the meantime, I’ve had fun writing these articles, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading at least some of them, and I hope you’ll come back for tomorrow’s finale, in which I promise to not be terribly serious about things (or at least, about everything).
At this point, I also want to thank Kev, Dil, and all the editors and folks who set up and run this site, along with my fellow “writers,” after the previous home on Kinja went away. And thanks to all those who’ve encouraged me through this writing challenge, because it’s nice to have words of encouragement to keep one going trying to finish that next article at 2am (or 3am) so it can be ready to be published ;) You all are really, truly, the greatest.