Stínolez’s Year-in-review (2021)

Jan 10 · 14 min read

It’s the beginning of a new year, and like everybody else I’m looking behind and wondering how I was able to survive 2021. We were all constantly back and forth between lockdowns, and I was in my home office basically all year, with a small kid at home and a second one born during the summer, while trying to furnish our new home and planning the garden and everything around the house. To cope with all these crazy shenanigans, I watch tonnes of anime and read a lot of manga. In this piece I’d like to turn back and look at everything I’ve watched this year. As it’s quite a long list (ordered alphabetically within each season it started airing) I won’t be spending too much time on each show, but that might vary depending on the impact the show had. Now, without further ado, let’s begin…

Dr. Stone: Stone Wars — This show — not taken too seriously — is a great fun. The wide cast of characters gives the chance for everybody to find their favourite one and jump on the Steam Gorilla for the ride. (7 / 10)

Laid-Back Camp Season 2 — I already mentioned it in my winter season review, but the release schedule of this show couldn’t be any better. With almost every country in a lockdown, it took you out of your isolated place and transported you into rural Japan on camping trips with a bunch of cute girls. Also, my two years old daughter approves of this show! (7.5 / 10)

Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table — I don’t remember details from the first two seasons of Log Horizon, but I still had a good time enjoying the company of interesting characters I know I cared about six years ago when the second season aired. (7.5 / 10)

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation — Rudy as the main protagonist is a shitbag. From the beginning you won’t like him and you shouldn’t. But he slowly goes through changes, experiencing things he didn’t have in his previous life and it slowly starts to turn around his character and make him bearable. It sets you on a journey, which continues in the second cour in Fall season. (8 / 10)

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2 Part 2 — I wasn’t too keen on the first season, but in the end I was happy I gave the show another chance. Each new arc is longer and more complex than the previous one, so you have a chance to understand the character’s motivation better. Likewise, the world building is getting more intricate and further deepening the show. Also, it has Echidna in it. (8.5 / 10)

Redo of Healer — This series is something you should definitely avoid, especially if you’re sensitive to extreme violence, rape, slavery, both physical and mental abuse, genocide, and probably every other fucked up thing you can come up with. (1 / 10)

So I’m a Spider, So What? — This series almost felt like two different shows slapped together. You have the fun and interesting part about a girl who is reborn as a spider (completely dominated by the Aoi Yuuki’s performance for subs viewers), and the other part about the rest of her class which I couldn’t give a flying fuck. What further added to the confusion was that each story happened during a different time period, which was subtly hinted at later in the season, and basically killed any hope of those two somehow connecting one to another. The production and CGI problems in the last few episodes were the final nail in the coffin. (4.5 / 10)

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies moved to a Starter Town? — Despite this show not being an isekai, it sure feels like it. Lloyd’s inferiority complex might be reasonable,but not realising how powerful he is only highlights how big of an idiot he is. Nevertheless it was fun sometimes, so it gets a passing grade if you shut your brain down. (5.5 / 10)

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 — The second season was a let down — especially in the second half. Despite this show being a power fantasy isekai with low stakes, when it finally looked like the decisions Rimuru made, based on his previous life as a human, bit him in his ass, he invalidates everything by miraculous deus-ex-machina. (6 / 10)

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter — A case study about anime fanservice would probably have less fanservice scenes in it than this show. Just skip it. (3 / 10)

The Promised Neverland Season 2The Promised Neverland simply ended after the first season and the second one never happened. It was a rushed and incomplete mess, with the season finale having the quality of a highschooler’s powerpoint presentation. Don’t bother with this. (2.5 / 10)

Combatants Will Be Dispatched! — Being disappointed by this series is an understatement. It might be partly because I set my expectations way too high, hearing it’s from the KonoSuba author, but I despised the main character so much that I frowned almost every time he opened his mouth. (4 / 10)

Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro — After the first three episodes I wrote an extensive article about this show as a part of the First Impression series we do each season. My opinion on that show didn’t change much, it definitely isn’t for everybody but in the end, it was quite a competent show. (7 / 10)

Full Dive: This Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier than Real Life! — This show had a great opening episode, but it set expectations too high for the show to climb and reach. It was mostly uninspiring from the second episode onwards. (5.5 / 10)

Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway — Ahead of each season, I read synopses on Anichart to see what to watch and this one honestly sounded quite tacky, but in the end it was a tasteful coming of age story about a girl who ran away from home and a salaryman to give her shelter, support, and the hope she needed. (8 / 10)

How Not to Summon a Demon Lord Ω — I’m not sure why I stuck with this show. It’s a degenerate piece of trash, but a few funny moments made me finish it. Will I watch a third season if it’ll ever be made? Probably… (4.5 / 10)

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level — Sometimes an isekai needs good characters, chill atmosphere, and not too many fucks given. Azusa kills each day a few slimes to earn a few coins to live her relaxing life and maxes out her level as a side effect. It was never her intention to be the strongest, so that fact alone doesn’t affect her and she still keeps her usual chill and relaxing demeanour, which directly translates into the overall feeling viewer gets from the show. (6.5 / 10)

Joran the Princess of Snow and Blood — What started as a super interesting show devolved over the course of the season into a predictable mess. Nevertheless, it was still pure visual orgy on the screen. If you study or are interested in animation, watch it for that purpose, otherwise I’m not sure I can fully recommend it. (6 / 10)

Let’s Make a Mug Too — Short series about a pottery club. There is really nothing more to it, it’s nothing special, but it’s a new idea and you might learn something new. (6 / 10)

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S Short Animation Series — Series of two minutes short stories from the world of Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. It leads to the second season in Summer, and is easily skippable, but on the other hand it’s only about 30 minutes in total. (6 / 10)

The Slime Diaries — One of the good things on That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is its wide range of characters, where everybody can find at least a few they like. The Slime Diaries is a slice of life exploration of its cast. It isn’t essential for the main series, but it’s a nice change of pace. (7 / 10)

Those Snow White Notes — I love music anime, especially well thought out and put together like Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life. Those Snow White Notes is very similar and even inspired me (as a beginner woodworker) to try to build myself a DIY shamisen — if that ever happens. If you enjoy listening to traditional Japanese music, you’ll probably love this show. (8.5 / 10)

To Your Eternity — Even after all this time I’m torn about this show. It had a great production, but not all the stories were a hit. Probably what made me question the show the most is the formula each story had and shared between each other, where mostly the only things to tie them together was the main character who was not that appealing to me. Despite all that, I enjoyed most of it, so you might try it for yourself. (7 / 10)

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun Season 2 — I started watching the first season expecting a kids show, but was pleasantly surprised to get great comedy. Second season continues rolling with the same speed and I loved it. (8 / 10)

Drug Store in Another World — The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist — After many power fantasy isekais, we are now entering the era of a slow slice-of-life isekais. I’m generally a big fan, but not of this one. It was just one dimensional bullshit, a cash grab to ride on the wave of genre popularity, but what drove me up the wall was the potion-making stock animation used in each episode, sometimes even twice.No thank you! (3.5 / 10)

Fena: Pirate Princess — This show had so much potential and I really enjoyed the journey they went on in the first half, but that was basically all invalidated by the last few episodes. What a let down. (4 / 10)

Girlfriend, Girlfriend — Imagine taking a trash can outside, pouring petrol all over it, and then lighting it.That’s basically the show. Total clusterfuck, incompetent and stupid. (2.5 / 10)

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom — Another isekai with a different spin.In a sense, it reminded me of Log Horizon. I’m looking forward to the second season coming soon. (7.5 / 10)

I’m Standing on a Million Lives Season 2 — I barely survived the first season and seeing the second one continue being boring as the first one, I didn’t have the will to push forward. Don’t even start it, not worth the time investment. (dropped after the first episode)

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid SKobayashi’s second season still has the cutest small dragon in the history of anime, maids, otakus and lewd dragons. It’s still a fun and chill show. If you liked the previous season, you probably have already seen this one as well. (7 / 10)

Mother of the Goddess’ Dormitory — I was wondering if this show was similar to Miss Caretaker of Sunohara-sou and I wasn’t disappointed, in a really bad way. It was a similarly exploitative anime, full of unnecessary ecchi tropes, and not worth anybody’s time. (3 / 10)

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X — After the first season I didn’t think I needed another season of this show, but the cast convinced me otherwise. It was fun and I’m looking forward to the movie. (7.5 / 10)

Peach Boy Riverside — This show was a colossal waste of my time. Not only was it aired in messed up order for no apparent reason, but overall the show lacked, well, everything. It wasn’t a particularly pretty show, most of the characters were flat, and the story didn’t go anywhere. I might have changed my mind if I’d watched it in chronological order, but it wasn’t that inspiring to give it a second chance. (4 / 10)

Remake Our Life! — The shows where you can redo your life have a certain charm for me. Everybody has at least few things they’d do differently given the chance. This one had likeable characters and an interesting setting. (8 / 10)

Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles — In the averageness of this show, only one minor detail stood out. Our main character is a boy born in a different world, living his life until seven when his mind is filled with memories of a different person, a 20 years old college student from Japan, and now they both share the body. Despite most of the story having almost nothing to do with it, we still get occasional glimpses into how both personalities interfere with each other and slowly merge together. (4.5 / 10)

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 Part 2 — Compared to the first part of the season this one was way better. I enjoyed the introduction of the other Demon Lords and the expectation of Walpurgis night kept the tension high. (8 / 10)

The Aquatope on White Sand — P.A. Works studio makes pretty shows. I still have a vivid memory of how beautiful Iroduku: The World in Colors was and The Aquatope on White Sand isn’t exception. It’s a show about struggling in life, making hard and sometimes impossible decisions, and I really enjoyed it. If I’d have to give any sort of criticism, the second half was in my opinion almost unnecessary. It was still good, but the twelfth episode felt like a proper season finale and I’d be very happy if it had ended there. (7.5 / 10)

The Dungeon of Black Company — This anime tried too hard to be an edgy isekai fantasy comedy, and except for a few moments, it felt flat. (5.5 / 10)

The Honor at Magic High SchoolThe Irregular at Magic High School is in my circles a widely hated show. I didn’t have too many problems with it, as I never really thought that deeply about it. This spin-off is just retelling of the same story from the perspective of Miyuki and condensed into fewer episodes. Not bad, not particularly great. (7 / 10)

Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- — This isekai somehow clicked with me a little bit more than most of the average ones this year. I’m not sure if it was the character, the humour, or the fact that the goddess deemed the main character ugly and thus stripping him of his hero status and showing him at the very edge of the world, but it was an enjoyable watch. (6 / 10)

Banished from the Hero’s Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside — I’m a little bit surprised this isn’t an isekai, but as a fantasy anime it’s a full package. You have your fair share of fighting balanced with mellow moments, nice romance which goes beyond hand holding, and even characters overcoming existential crises. (7 / 10)

Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut — This show was a definite highlight of this season, maybe even the whole year. It was a chamber play: not many significant cast members, but it gave the main duo so much space to develop their characters and showcase the stellar world-building this anime had. It didn’t have a complicated story but that made it even more obvious how much thought was put into it. (8 / 10)

Let’s Make a Mug Too 2 — Second season of shorts about pottery club. Still the same as the first season. (6 / 10)

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Cour 2 — The second cour of Mushoku Tensei continues in the similar fashion and boy, certain parts of the show hit really hard. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. Rudy is still sometimes sleazy, but his growth is significant and I hope he’ll continue on the set path in the future as well. (8 / 10)

Muv-Luv Alternative — After I joined the AniTAY community I was persuaded to play the Muv-Luv visual novels trilogy. Alternative is the third instance. Seeing the last VN getting its adaptation before the first two was a little bit frightening, especially seeing it listed as 12 episodes only, but it was a pleasant surprise. It’s a very well made adaptation and we already have the second season confirmed. (7 / 10)

My Senpai is Annoying — This was a charming show. It’s quite rare to get an office romcom these days, so even the environment was refreshing. Despite the fact that I liked Takeda and Futaba’s pairing, I was more invested and interested in Kazuma and Sakurai, but it didn’t spoil the show too much and I had a good time watching it. (6.5 / 10)

Restaurant to Another World 2 — This second season continues directly where the first season ended four years ago. It isn’t an action packed fantasy, but rather a chill show, where the most interesting thing is to watch how characters from different parts of the world interact with each other. (6.5 / 10)

Taisho Otome Fairy Tale — I didn’t expect a wholesome and pure show based on the synopsis we were given at the start of the season. It was nice to see how the cheerful Yuzuki changed Tamahiko and how she was able to open and light a fire in his closed and blackened heart. (6.5 / 10)

Takt op.Destiny — This show was pretty. If not for that and the stellar fighting choreography I might have dropped it halfway through. It has a great concept and potential, same as Listeners last year, but with the predictable story and bland villains it ended as a good “tech demo”. (5 / 10)

The Faraway Paladin — One of the things which sets a great anime apart from an average one is a love put into the world and character building. This way a great show makes you care about the cast and anything happening will stick its landing in a more impactful way than in the case of an average show. In The Faraway Paladin, they made an effort to build Will from ground up, nurturing his relationship with his guardians until the crushing fifth episode. From then onwards, it feels a little bit like a different show, but it continues to expand on the set up by using everything already built. (8 / 10)

The Fruit of Evolution: Before I Knew It, My Life Had It Made — Yet another of standard isekai doing basically nothing differently to stand out from the crowd, although compared to others this one made me laugh a few times. (5 / 10)

The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat — In the abundance of isekais every season there needs to be some spin or something special about it to be memorable. The World’s Finest Assassin is not the case. It’s just a mashup of isekai tropes lazily put together to probably sell cute waifu figures in the near future. (4 / 10)

The anime year 2021 was an average year. There were some outstanding shows which I’ll remember for quite some time, but there was also a lot of garbage that I ended up watching. It might be a downside of me almost never dropping a show, so I have less time to watch quality series, but if you find one or two gems in the deepest pit of shit shows, it always shines ever so brightly.

If you read through until here, I’d like to thank you and wish a happy, or at least kind of a normal, year 2022. I might be back next year…

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