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6 must-watch anime arriving for the 2021 winter season

A slate of new and returning shows are set to premiere

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Dr, Stone holds his temple and looks dreamy Image: TMS/8PAN

Every three months we get a fresh anime season, and with each one comes a flood of new shows. This winter 2021 season is no different, with 43 series set to premiere, plus an additional five continuing from the fall. However with so many options for what to watch it can be difficult to figure out which shows might be of interest to you, especially if you want to keep up with what’s new, but have a limited budget to spend on subscription streaming services like Crunchyroll or Funimation.

So in order to help you decide on what shows you might be interested in, I’ve constructed a list of six of the most interesting anime this season.

Beastars (season 2)

The first season of Beastars was one of the best shows of last year. The combination of high school drama, murder mystery, humor, and an incredibly well-realized anthropomorphic animal society, along with some of the best 3D animation and cinematography, came together to to produce a show unlike anything else. As grey wolf Legoshi wrestled with who he is as a carnivore, unsure if he was in love with or simply wanted to eat dwarf rabbit classmate Haru.

Season 2 looks to further ratchet up the drama now that Legoshi and Haru are more open about their confused feelings for each other, and with the disappearance of Louis, the head of the drama club, as he finds himself in a literal lions’ den. And yet I’m possibly most looking forward to seeing how animation studio Orange builds on and one-ups its work from the first season, which was already in a league all its own.

Beastars season 2 begins on Jan. 7 in Japan. The show will stream on Netflix outside of Japan in July.

Cells at Work!! (Season 2) & Cells at Work! Code Black

Cells at Work returns with two different shows at the same time. First, a direct sequel to the 2018 series by David Productions (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Fire Force), that continues the story of anthropomorphized cells that exist in a healthy human body carrying out the jobs they perform in the body (ie: red blood cells are delivery people transporting oxygen and CO2 to and from the lungs). The first season was surprisingly educational and humorous, and that also managed to address more serious afflictions like cancer with the right amount of deference and drama.

Code Black is a spinoff animated by Linden Films (Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Hanebado!). A new cast of anthropomorphized cells navigate a different body that has lived a more unhealthy lifestyle than that of the one in the original Cells at Work. Given the subject matter is dealing with a body that is explicitly less equipped to handle the onslaught of viruses and bacteria the series seems likely to be more dramatic and less comedic, but just as educational as the original.

Cells at Work!! season 2 will simulcast on Funimation beginning Jan. 9. Cells at Work! Code Black will simulcast on Funimation as well beginning on Jan. 10.

Dr. Stone: Stone Wars (season 2)

After the entire world is petrified in a wave of light, modern day super science high schooler Senku wakes up in the year 5738 to find a world devoid of modern civilization. After discovering how to unpetrify other people he sets out to rebuild civilization through science, but begins to butt heads with powerful teenage martial artist Tsukasa over their conflicting philosophies for how to rebuild the world. As Tsukasa sees no need to bring back the corrupt old world and its adults. In season two the inevitable conflict becomes an all out war between Senku’s Kingdom of Science and Tsukasa’s Empire of Might for who will rule the future stone age world.

Dr. Stone is a surprising combination of the shonen action formula (ie: Naruto, Dragonball, etc.) and science education. With the show’s drama often coming from Senku and friends trying to recreate a bit of modern technology with primitive materials and means in order to overcome their obstacles in their way. And in doing so, shows how even the simplest things like glass or noodles are incredibly advanced and hard to make despite how commonplace they are to us now.

Dr. Stone: Stone Wars will simulcast on Crunchyroll and Funimation beginning Jan. 14.

Laid-Back Camp (season 2)

It’s been two years since the first season of Laid-Back Camp aired and introduced the world to the joys of cold weather camping in Japan’s suburban Yamanashi Prefecture. It was the perfect relaxing slice-of-life show with delightful characters, great scenery, and chill music. Where the most dramatic thing came from having trouble lighting a compact charcoal grill, which was easily solved by getting another camper’s assistance.

The new season continues to follow Rin, Nadesco, and friends as they go on new chill camping adventures throughout the region. There isn’t much to the show, but finally having more of this charming and warm show is good news for everyone.

Laid-Back Camp season 2 starts on Jan. 7 in Japan. The series will air on Crunchyroll later this winter.

The Promised Neverland (season 2)

After 11 year old Emma and Norman discover their peaceful orphanage is actually a farm for raising human children to feed to demons, they set about trying to escape with the help of their friend Ray who’d long been waiting for them to catch on. The first season of The Promised Neverland tracks the growing tension as they work to not only escape themselves, but at Emma’s insistence also bring along their siblings, the other 37 orphans. It’s a season full of amazing twists and turns as Emma, Norman and Ray are incredibly smart, but equally so are their adversaries.

Season 2 finds the escapees outside the walls of the farm for the first time, with only some vague clues from the mysterious William Minerva to guide them through a demon-controlled world full of unknown horrors. With the main staff from the first season returning, and the original manga’s writer Kaiu Shirai joining to help with the scripts, it’ll be interesting to see how the series adapts from the psychological horror of the series’ introduction, to this more action oriented part.

The Promised Neverland season 2 will simulcast on Funimation beginning Jan. 7.

SK8 the Infinity

The series follows Reki, a second year high school student who loves skateboarding, and Langa, a student who has just returned to Japan from living abroad. Reiki is quick to befriend and introduce him to “S,” an extremely dangerous skateboarding race that takes place in an abandoned mine nearby. Despite having no skateboarding experience Langa finds himself more and more involved in “S” and the wild characters that take part.

Sk8 Infinity is an original series from director Hiroko Utsumi (Free!, Banana Fish), writer Ichiro Ohkouchi (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Lupin the Third Part 5), and with animation by BONES (My Hero Academia, Mob Psycho 100). It’s a combination the likes of which we’ve never seen before especially given the subject matter. And simply based on the trailer it seems like the series will be utterly fascinating and bananas in the best ways.

SK8 the Infinity will simulcast on Funimation beginning Jan. 9.

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