Whether you’re looking at new releases or returning series, 2021 proved a great year to be an anime fan. Both the fall and spring seasons brought exciting shows to look forward to, hardly giving viewers a chance to take a breath before diving into the next story. What were some of the best anime series of 2021?
‘Attack on Titan’ The Final Season Part 1
Since its premiere back in 2013, Attack on Titan has become one of the best shonen anime around — and the first half of its final season is one of the strongest outings of 2021.
Attack on Titan Season 4 flipped the script on the show’s narrative, pushing Eren Jeager to become just like his enemies in order to defeat them. The outing opens with a battle between the Survey Corps and Marley, during which the lines between good and bad grow incredibly blurred.
Attack on Titan Season 4A sets the stage for an epic finale in 2022, and that’s exactly why it’s one of the best anime series of 2021. Its battle sequences and political storylines left viewers looking for more. And fortunately, we won’t need to wait long to dive back in.
‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean’
It’s no secret that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is among the biggest anime out there, and its latest outing continues its long-running legacy. Stone Ocean dropped on Netflix at the beginning of December, and viewers quickly began calling it one of the best anime of 2021 — as well as one of the best chapters of JoJo’s.
Like Attack on Titan, JoJo’s left fans eagerly awaiting the next chapter of the anime. There’s no word on when Part 2 might arrive, but Jolyne Cujoh’s opening act left an impression — one that demands an epic follow-up.
‘Komi Can’t Communicate’
Komi Can’t Communicate hasn’t commanded the same amount of attention as series like Attack on Titan and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean. However, the new anime is unique, emotional, and worthy of being considered one of 2021’s best releases — even if it doesn’t fall into the action/adventure genre.
Komi Can’t Communicate tackles topics like social anxiety and mental health in a way that’s refreshing and charming. Its approach to Komi’s struggles sparked enough interest to get it renewed for season 2. It’s clear this show is relatable for many viewers, and it’s definitely a standout from the past year.
‘Demon Slayer’ Season 2
Following the success of its Demon Slayer: Mugen Train movie, Demon Slayer kicked off its second season in Fall 2021. The anime rehashed the events of the recent film in its second outing, but it also delved into new territory with its Entertainment District Arc. And although that will continue into 2022, it’s already become one of this year’s best releases.
Demon Slayer continuously proves it can balance action-packed moments with emotional stakes. Tanjiro’s missions with the Demon Slayer Corps throughout the Mugen Train and Entertainment District Arcs walk that line well. The series’ latest episodes pack a powerful emotional punch while keeping viewers engaged in all the fight sequences. Hopefully, it will continue to succeed on that front heading into 2022.
‘Star Wars: Visions’
It’s not every year viewers see Star Wars mixed into a list of best anime, but 2021 made that combination possible. Star Wars: Visions debuted on Disney+ in September, delivering a lineup of nine stories from various studios — each of which expanded upon the lore featured in the popular franchise.
Add in the stunning art styles showcased throughout Star Wars: Visions, and it’s certainly one of the best anime from 2021. Perhaps Lucasfilm will grace us with similar projects down the line.
One Piece is likely to find itself on a list of best anime during any given year. However, 2021 is particularly special. That’s because the long-running series celebrated its 1,000th episode.
One Piece’s big milestone was greeted with enthusiasm from longtime fans, who felt it served as a proper love letter to the story. The anime recently entered one of its best arcs, so it’s no surprise it’s ramping up excitement. In fact, it could find itself on some best-of lists for 2022 as well.
Other best anime series of 2021
Above are just some of the best anime series to air throughout 2021, but they’re far from the only ones worth celebrating.
Although not quite as epic as the show’s fourth season, My Hero Academia Season 5 proved a compelling addition to Deku’s story — and it gave fans some insight into the series’ villains. With the anime setting up a high-stakes battle, it’s probably safe to say My Hero Academia Season 6 will find itself on a number of best-of lists in 2022.
Jujutsu Kaisen is also rapidly becoming one of the most popular anime series currently on air. Technically, its first season premiered back in 2020, but episodes continued dropping into 2021. Studio MAPPA has done an impressive job animating Gege Akutami’s story, which already sets itself apart from similar manga and anime.
That’s just scratching the surface of impressive anime shows to premiere in 2021. With any luck, 2022 will have a similarly impressive lineup. Check out Crunchyroll and Funimation for each season’s latest.