Fall Anime 2021 season is upon us and that means a whole new crop of anime shows have started their runs. With this year’s anime scene already going strong thanks to some unique new series like Wonder Egg Priority, and returning favorites like My Hero Academia 2021 has been a great year for anime. And if our early impressions turn out to be accurate, the fall is gonna keep the medium going strong. So, without further adieu, here are some quick thoughts on some of the anime we’ve been watching in this our Fall Anime 2021 Review Round-Up!
Yashahime: Half-Demon Princess Season 2
Synopsis: Picking up where last season left off, this season finds Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha in search of the means to defeat Kirinmaru after being defeated by the villain at the end of last season. The trio of heroes now searches the land looking for the necessary items to forge a blade that will allow Towa to stand toe to toe with their adversary.
What works: Opening our Fall 2021 Anime Review Round-Up, this series strength is in how it accurately recreates the feel of classic shonen anime. Long-time fans of the genre who long for simpler times of cool super attacks and comical antics will enjoy what this series brings to the table.
Where It Stumbles: As with most art that serves as homages to earlier days, this focus on the past serves as both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Episodes that end up going nowhere thanks to ridiculous throwaway lines at the end and plots that linger on are just some of the aspects of older anime many of us are ok with leaving in the past that this series sees fit to bring along with it.
Synopsis: An asteroid bearing an aggressive alien species has crash-landed on earth. With the aliens becoming enraged at the sound of music, the art form is promptly banned from practice to the general public. However, a group of individuals known as Conductors, with the help of their assistants the Magicarts, fight the alien menace empowered by music. Now, the newly minted Conductor Takt, along with Magicart Cosette, and friend Anne travel across America on a journey to New York City to reach the home base of the Conductors.
What works: As my current favorite anime in this Fall 2021 Anime Review Round-Up, Tack Op.Destiny checks every box I could ask for from an action anime right in the first episode. Animated by MAPPA(Jujutsu Kaisen) everything about this show’s visual presentation is delivered with all the considerable skill the production company has become known for. The fights are flashy and whenever Takt sits behind a keyboard the animation manages to make the protagonist’s fingers dance across the keys as exciting as when Cossette is swinging her sword. And while the visuals astound, the early impressions of the characters are nearly as strong. Each of our three lead characters brings a strong personality to the party and the story, only three episodes in, has laid down some strong groundwork for future growth.
Where it stumbles: The show’s two key elements at this point are its slick action and the abundant presence of classical music. If you aren’t looking for one or both of those, so if the thought of anime battles opening to the strains of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” makes you cringe, then this one may not be for you.
Takt Op.Destiny is streaming on Crunchyroll.
Synopsis: In this entry in our Fall 2021 Anime Review Round-Up we are introduced to a world where humanity lives in underground colonies linked together by a network of caverns and passageways called The Labyrinth. In this world, people are broken up into two classes: Workers and Markers. Workers’ lives are much like our own. They go do their jobs day in and out as they do their part to maintain the colonies. Meanwhile, Markers explore The Labyrinth in search of new routes and rare resources. In one colony, a young girl named Memempo dreams of joining the ranks of the Markers. But her father Gagumber insists that ten is a little young to face the dangers of The Labyrinth. But when an unexplainable kaiju attack threatens the colony they live in Gagumber may just be forced into a change of heart.
What works: The unique setting and colorful characters are this series greatest strengths. The world beneath the rocks that Sakugan presents viewers with feels interesting and how the residents of this world traverse and interact with the world are cool to watch. The characters are just as interesting as their setting as there seem to be lots to learn about them, as well as the circumstances that motivate their actions.
Where it stumbles: Anime is rarely a quiet medium. With emotions often being expressed with as many decimals behind them as possible, fans are used to hearing a fair bit of yelling in their favorite series. However, this series takes it to a whole other level. The series main duo yell far more than they talk, as the father and daughter bicker and fight at a near-constant rate. If angry shouting isn’t an acceptable default form of communication for you steering clear of this one might be a good call.
Sakugan is streaming on Crunchyroll.
Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut
Synopsis: It is the height of the space race and nations are striving to put a human being into space. But with the technology still experimental, and no one wanting the embarrassment of having one of their brave pioneers die in space, one country has decided to send someone more expendable. And so they have recruited Irina to be the first to slip the surly bonds of Earth. After all, she’s just a Vampire.
In this world, Vampires are a real and recognized minority. Due to receiving the blame for a plague that once ravaged the earth, the Vampires have become ostracized and the target of the modern myths we all know about them. For this reason, not only is her government willing to use her as a guinea pig, but most of those around Irina treat her with indifference, if not outright hostility.
What works: When I discovered this entry in our Fall 2021 Anime Review Round-Up I knew nothing about the show except the title. I assumed it would be some goofy fish out of water anime story full of jokes and visual humor. Turns out it is actually about racism and the depths systemic propaganda can turn people’s opinions against others. While this was a surprise for me, the show has demonstrated a magnificent ability to explore its core themes while also taking the time to flesh out its main cast into real characters.
Where it stumbles: This is one where the only problem someone could have with it thus far is if you just aren’t into what it is delivering. While it’s only four episodes in, those episodes have been crafted with skill and care. The series has even managed to avoid any heavy-handed analogies to real-world communities thus far, sparing it from looking exploitative of the suffering of those communities.
Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut is streaming on Funimation.
Synopsis: After a past catastrophe rocks Japan, the country finds itself under the control of a new authoritarian regime that has censored any form of entertainment it deems unacceptable. Now a few rebellious hold-outs fights for freedom using the Grannadolls. Mechs that are powered by their pair of pilots’ shared passions.
What works: With the giant mech genre largely shifting lately to a grittier, more political look at war with giant robots, this entry in our Fall 2021 Anime Review Round-Up looks to bring the goofiness back into the scene. While its plot remains rooted in the struggle against political oppression, its cast of often clownish characters keeps the action fun and light-hearted.
Where it stumbles: While the show’s more humorous approach to its subject matter sets it apart, I feel like it sometimes leans a bit too far into the goofiness for its own good. Some moments go so far into the bizarre that the show sometimes feels more like an incoherent drug trip than an actual narrative.
Rumble Garannadoll is streaming on Funimation.
Banished From The Hero’s Party, I Decided To Live A Quiet Life In The Countryside
Synopsis: When a fantasy world is plagued by an army of evil a hero rises to fend off the monsters. But when Red starts to fall behind the rest of the hero’s party in terms of strength, one of his fellow party members forces him to leave for the sake of the group. Now, Red lives a quiet life as an apothecary in a small village on the fringes of the kingdom.
What works: This entry in our Fall 2021 Anime Review Round-Up is the hardest to call at this point. Only three episodes in, the show has brought a quaint and humorous fantasy slice-of-life energy that I am enjoying. However, there are hints that Red’s past life will soon be catching up to him. So while it’s delivering its story in a fun way now, what is to come could change the show radically.
Where it stumbles: The biggest issue some may have with this series is the inclusion of some fairly needless fan service. In the second episode of the series, Red is reunited with one-time ally Rit. An amply busty young lady whose outfit comes complete with an impractically short skirt and spaciously sized boob window. While it hasn’t shown anything too racy for its TV-14 rating when Rit is present the show doesn’t miss many opportunities to remind you of her generously drawn figure. This feels especially noticeable as no one else in the show’s quiet little town dresses in a similar style, making the attention given to Rit all the more noticeable. If this sort of presentation is a problem for you this show may be one you want to pass on.
Banished From The Hero’s Party, I Decided To Live A Quiet Life In The Countryside is streaming on Funimation.
And there you have it. Our Fall Anime 2021 Review Round-Up. This is just a sampling of the many anime series that are getting started with the change of the seasons. I hope this list helps you find a series that you might enjoy!