Written by: Nicole Castro
Published on: January 3, 2022 at 13:37 PHT (GMT+8)
Happy 2022! At this point, anime fans are already anticipating the many upcoming series that will begin airing this early January.
But for the binge watchers, this is their time to shine. No more waiting every week for the next episode. We need a good time, big time.
Without further ado, here are seven anime series from Fall 2021 (in no particular order) that are worth watching.
Disclaimer: This list does not include sequels that aired in Fall 2021 such as "86―Eighty Six―" and "Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation." Those deserve their own articles because we have too many feelings).
Recommended For: People who want to be surprised by an anime they didn't expect.
Plot: Miko Yotsuya (CV: Sora Amamiya) and her typical high school life get turned upside down when she realizes one day that she can see spirits...very vividly. Without any idea as to why she can suddenly see them now, she vows to protect her normal life (as well as her friends') as much as possible...by pretending not to see them!
Short Review: This series is something both anime-only fans and those who've read the original manga prior can agree is an anime well done. Comedy-horror is a fairly uncommon combination, with most series either slightly leaning towards more than one genre than the other. But Mieruko-chan stands out for being an amazing balance of both. The horror is seen in the detailed illustrations of the spirits that look like they could give the curses of Jujutsu Kaisen a run for their money. There's also great pacing per episode with a proper buildup of tension that will really make you feel like you're Miko at the edge of her sanity as she TRIES. NOT. TO. FREAK. OUT. Then, the comedy comes out with Miko getting more and more creative with her "I don't see anything" coping mechanisms.
But what really won fans' hearts is that this show had unexpected depth. We did not expect comedy-horror with a healthy dose of fanservice to make us happy-cry for Miko and the cast achieving character growth with a little bit of paranormal closure. It's like Natsume's Book of Friends but with a few cleverly placed panty shots.
2. Blue Period
Recommended For: People who are struggling with convincing their parents about their chosen college path and need inspiration.
Plot: Blue Period is an anime about high school students pursuing art as their career path (and the struggles that come with such a choice). Protagonist Yatora Yaguchi (CV: Hiromu Mineta) is a typical high school student who gets good grades and listens to his parents about making logical choices. But one day, he comes across the painting of an upperclassman who sparks his interest in art. He joins the art club and is mind blown by the skills of its members. Since his family is not wealthy, his only viable option is to apply for the Tokyo University of the Arts. But since it's the only affordable art school out there, he's in for the toughest competition of his life so far.
Short Review: The first reaction we had to Blue Period was "Finally! Anime is giving a detailed, highly realistic voice to the struggles of pursuing art!" Episode 1 does not mince words on how art as a career is not valued by society because it doesn't pay much. Both Yaguchi and the art club members are immensely aware that they won't survive on passion alone (see Ryuji "Yuka" Ayukawa's own story within the series). But also, Blue Period is honest that a life built solely on logical, economically practical choices is a life of not knowing yourself and instead knowing only the rules (which are made to be broken anyway). This series is labeled as part of the coming-of-age genre, and we say it did a great job making the struggles of modern high schoolers feel so real and seen.
3. Ranking of Kings
Episodes: 11 for part 1; part 2 airs on Jan. 6, 2022
Recommended For: People who want a lot of FEELS.
Plot: Ranking of Kings is a coming-of-age story featuring Bojji (CV: Minami Hinata), the first prince of the Kingdom of Bosse. However, many people think he's unfit to be the next king because he is small, deaf, and lacking in sword skills. But one day, he meets Kage (CV: Ayumu Murase), the last surviving member of the shadow clan known for their assassination skills. Together, they set out on a journey to train Bojji to develop his own unique fighting style.
Short Review: This show is drawn like a children's fairytale but has the plot complexity, political intrigue, and violence for more mature audiences (i.e. teens and up). Episode 1 pleasantly deceives you with the cute first encounter between Bojji and Kage, making you think this is like the anime equivalent of a Disney movie featuring a boy protagonist who goes on a journey to prove himself worthy of being the next king. We just want to remind you that this anime was produced by Wit Studio, the same company behind Attack on Titan. Expect Attack-on-Titan-level plot here with significantly less despair and much more hope in the form of Bojji. Oh, and yes, voice actor Yuki Kaji is back as Daida, also with Eren-Yeager-angst, also with father issues.
4. Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut
Recommended For: People who want an anime couple that really focuses on the "friends first" stage.
Plot: The plot is set in 1945 after World War II, with the Republic of Zirnitra (based on the Soviet Union) and the United Kingdom of Arnak (based on the United States) competing to be the next world superpower via outer space expansion. Since the dangers of space remain unknown, the Republic of Zirnitra makes use of Irina Luminesk (CV: Megumi Hayashibara), a vampire who they hope to use as a test subject to spearhead research into achieving the first human spaceflight. The young cosmonaut candidate Lev Leps (CV: Kōki Uchiyama) is assigned to be her handler, and so begins the development of their relationship.
Short Review: While this series doesn't have any jaw-dropping plot twists, we can tell the people behind this show gave it a lot of love with all the attention to detail. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous (they'll remind you of Taki and Mitsuha from Your Name falling from the sky and falling in love), the music fits the mood of the militaristic Soviet Union setting to a T, and the relationship development between Lev and Irina feels organic, equally romantic but also realistically restrained given their complex circumstances. If you're in the mood for a military anime that gives you boy-girl romance as its center, we encourage you to give this series a chance.
5. The World's Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat
Recommended For: Fans of the isekai genre who'd like to try a departure from the classic tropes mastered by Mushoku Tensei.
Plot: The protagonist is an old man who had lived his life as the world's greatest assassin but gets assassinated himself by the organization he served all his life. After death, he is reawakened by a goddess who promises to grant him a new life in a world of swords and magic, in exchange for granting her request to kill the Hero who will lead that world to destruction when they turn 18. Accepting this request, the protagonist is reincarnated as Lugh Tuatha Dé (CV: Kenji Akabane) and swears to finally live his life to its fullest as a human being and not as a tool.
Short Review: We'd say this series is an example of an overpowered protagonist done right. While many anime series suffer from convenient plot progression because the protagonist just gets everything done, this show makes having such a protagonist a fundamental requirement for its development. Lugh has to be powerful because the Hero is even more powerful than what their universe could imagine. He has to retain his memories from his previous life otherwise the assassination attempt will fail. He has the right to ask the goddess for the best set of skills possible in this new life because she was the one who made the request in the first place. The foundation is set and the mission is clear. What follows is an exciting-but-also-meticulously-planned journey of swords and magic with equal parts of not-so-planned harem fanservice.
6. Taishou Maiden Fairytale
Recommended For: People looking for a winning, feel-good anime couple this season.
Plot: The plot is set in late 1921, the 10th year of the Taishō era. Tamahiko Shima (CV: Yūsuke Kobayashi), second son of the wealthy Shima family, has his life turned upside-down after his right arm is paralyzed in a car accident. His father now deems him worthless, treating him as if he were dead and sending him to live in the mountains of Chiba, away from public eyes. One day, a girl named Yuzuki Tachibana (CV: Saya Aizawa) knocks on his door and says she was hired by Tamahiko's father to be her bride and live-in caretaker in exchange for paying her father's debt.
Short Review: This couple definitely reminded us of the Fruits Basket Tohru x Kyo dynamic, but set in the Taishō era and without zodiac curses. While this is definitely an arranged marriage, nothing about Yuzu and Tamahiko's relationship feels forced. There are no expectations from Tamahiko's father on how this relationship should progress, Tamahiko is understandably a pessimist with attachment issues and doesn't believe anyone could love him, and Yuzu is your typical yamato nadeshiko with excellent cooking skills but with a surprisingly more straightforward personality that feels like she belongs more in the 20th or 21st century. This is an anime for those who want to relax, feel good, and maybe sacrifice a goat or two so we can make a wish and have a love like this.
7. Komi Can't Communicate
Episodes: 12 (the 12th episode aired in Japan in December 2021 and will air worldwide on Jan. 6, 2022)
Recommended For: The introverts who want to relate to the social STRUGGLES and feel SEEN.
Plot: Komi Can't Communicate stars protagonist Shouko Komi (CV: Aoi Koga), a high school girl who suffers from extreme social anxiety to the point where she struggles to even say anything out loud. Since she barely talks, people end up assuming so much about her, like how she's aloof and just thinks she's too cool for everyone else. But classmate Hitohito Tadano (CV: Gakuto Kajiwara) gets a chance to see her for who she really is and helps her make her goal of making 100 friends come true.
Short Review: This anime was highly popular in Fall 2021 because of all the people who could RELATE. The comedy is deliberately exaggerated but drives home the point that many people are in many ways like Komi: highly anxious, afraid of getting social cues wrong, and constantly risking being misunderstood as snobbish and aloof when, in reality, they're desperately craving human connection. Watch Komi-san make her baby steps towards friendship and feel your own courage growing.
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