2020, which will henceforth be referred to as the year that shall not be named, was a pretty weird year in terms of anime, to say the least. Several high profile anime productions were stalled due to the pandemic and forced to reschedule, from the second season of The Promise Neverland to high-profile feature films like the recently released Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time and the forthcoming US theatrical premiere of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.
Spring 2021 is awash in new releases, with over 50 new anime series set to premiere across the rest of the year. As with so many things in life, an overabundance of choices can lead to a feeling of estrangement and paralysis, even for the most savvy of anime watchers. Don’t sweat it — we’re here to help you sift through the field of options and pluck out the best new series to follow.
Here’s our list of the 10 of the most exciting anime to watch this season.
Fruits Basket: The Final Season
The final season of Fruits Basket is sure to be the most emotional one yet — and that’s saying something for a show that regularly interrogates childhood trauma, adult loneliness, and the mortifying ordeal of being known.
Last season concluded with idealist orphan Tohru Honda discovering the true nature of Akito, the head of the mysterious Sohma family. As the “God” of the zodiac, Akito wields great power and influence over the Sohma family members, especially those who are afflicted with the curse. Essentially, they’re forced to comply with Akito’s biddings, whether they like it or not.
Determined to break the curse they’re under — for everyone involved, but especially for scorned Cat of the Zodiac, Kyo, who will be basically imprisoned for life after graduation — Tohru must dive deeper and figure out how to unravel the ties that bind the Sohmas together. Previews of the upcoming season promise some love confessions, stolen smooches, and teary moments. Will Tohru be able to break the Sohma family curse? Word’s out on that, but one thing’s for certain: Fruits Basket: The Final Season will probably make us all cry. —Petrana Radulovic
Fruits Basket: The Final Season premieres on April 5 on Crunchyroll and Funimation. The first episode is available to stream now on Funimation.
Godzilla: Singular Point
This spring couldn’t possibly be a more fortuitous season for Godzilla fans, what with the highly anticipated premiere of studio bones (My Hero Academia) and Orange (Beastars) anime series Godzilla Singular Point just days apart from the release of the latest live-action American film Godzilla vs. King Kong.
Not to be confused with Polygon Pictures’ trilogy of anime films (Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle and Godzilla: The Planet Eater), Godzilla Singular Point features an all-new cast of characters and original story, penned by Toh Enjoe (Empire of Corpses, Space Dandy) and directed by Atsushi Takahashi (Doraemon the Movie 2017: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi). The series also features Eiji Yamamori, known for his work on such anime classics as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises, as the designer for the series’ kaiju. Will the King of the Kaiju reign triumphant in this new incarnation? There’s only one way to find out. —Toussaint Egan
Godzilla: Singular Point premieres on Netflix in Japan on March 25 and will be available to stream worldwide later this year.
Joran The Princess of Snow and Blood
Joran The Princess of Snow and Blood might sound like a riff on Toshiya Fujita’s 1973 period revenge drama Lady Snowblood, but the premise is far more supernatural. Directed by Susumu Kudo (Tokyo Babylon 2021, Ghost in the Shell: Arise) and written by Rika Nezu (Saint Young Men) and Kunihiko Okada (The Girl Who Leapt Through Space), the anime is set in an alternate history version of Japan in 1931 where a mysterious energy source known as the “dragon vein” has gifted the country miraculous technological advancements and a clandestine order of executioners know as “Nue” works on behalf of the Tokugawa shogunate. The series follows Sawa Yukimura, a young woman with blue blood and supernatural abilities, who embarks on a campaign of vengeance against the Nue for murdering her family when she was a child. —TE
Joran The Princess of Snow and Blood premieres April 6 in Japan and will stream this spring on Crunchyroll.
Megalo Box 2: Nomad
Gearless Joe returns in the highly anticipated follow-up to TMS Entertainment’s 2018 Ashita no Joe tribute Megalo Box! And from the trailer, he’s a looking a bit worse for wear in the seven years since he became the champion of the Megalonia boxing tournament. Megalo Box 2: Nomad sees the return of series director You Moriyama, along with series writer and composers Katsuhiko Manabe and Kensaku Kojima. If the series is anything like its 2018 predecessor, Megalo Box 2: Nomad is sure to be one of this season’s most exhilarating and beautifully animated action anime. —TE
Megalobox 2: Nomad premieres April 4 in Japan and will stream on Funimation.
My Hero Academia season 5
We named the fourth season of My Hero Academia one of our favorite anime of last year, describing it as, “[the series] at both its darkest and its strongest, as it further explores the complications of a world where nearly everyone is super-powered.”
The fifth season of MHA will kick off with the Joint Training Arc, which sees Class 1-A and Class 1-B’s students pitted against each other in a series of team battles that demonstrates just how much each class has grown. In the wake of All Might’s retirement and Endeavor’s fraught new role as the new Number One Hero, the fifth season of MHA will likely see Izuku Midoriya and the rest of U.A. Academy’s Class 1-A face new challenges and even more terrifying villain as Hero society grows more precarious with each passing day. Season 5 promises to bring exciting new revelations to questions left by the end of last season, as well as the series’ 100th episode. —TE
Studio Trigger’s SSSS.Gridman was one of the most satisfying and surprising anime favorites of fall 2018, reinvigorating Tsuburaya Productions’ long-dormant tokusatsu prpperty Denkou Choujin Gridman (better known in the US by its westernized adaptation Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad) with a intriguing character-driven plot and dazzling animation. With the return of the staff of SSSS.Gridman including director Akira Amemiya, scriptwriter Keiichi Hasegawa, character designer Masaru Sakamoto, and composer Shiro Sagisu, SSS.Dynazenon is the next installment in the “Gridman Universe” franchise and continues the story of its 2018 predecessor — although the “how” exactly yet remains a tight-lipped secret. Nonetheless, we remain excited to see where this new anime pushes the series going forward. —TE
SSSS. Dynazenon premieres April 2 in Japan and will stream on Crunchyroll.
The World Ends with You: The Animation
The 2007 Nintendo DS game The World Ends With You remains an eccentric cult favorite among Square Enix’s venerable JRPG catalog, a sartorial-focused action roleplaying game inspired by Japanese youth culture and street fashion. With a long-awaited sequel, NEO: The World Ends with You, slated to come out sometime this year, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the series via studio Domerica (Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo) and Shin-Ei Animation’s (Doraemon, Crayon Shin-chan) latest anime adaptation. The game’s characteristic art style is stunningly rendered, executed through an artful blend of 2D and 3D animation that brings Tetsuya Nomura and Gen Kobayashi’s original artwork to life. —TE
To Your Eternity
Based on A Silent Voice author Yoshitoki Ōima’s manga of the same name, To Your Eternity follows a mysterious amorphous immortal being sent to Earth by an even more mysterious force, embarking on a personal journey in search of knowledge and meaning while assuming the form of those with whom it forms a strong emotional bond. But what does this being have to do with the story of lonely boy and his companion wolf in the North American Arctic? Well ... that would be telling, wouldn’t it? With a robust and eclectic staff including director Mashishiko Murata (NARUTO Spin-Off: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals) and script composer Shinzo Fujita (Parasyte -the maxim-), not to mention a theme song courtesy of Kingdom Hearts singer Hikaru Utada, To Your Eternity resembles a strange and elusive hybrid of John Carpenter’s The Thing meets 2005’s melancholic supernatural drama anime Mushishi. —TE
To Your Eternity premieres April 12 in Japan and will stream on Crunchyroll.
LeSean Thomas’ (Black Dynamite, The Boondocks) latest series Yasuke is easily one of the most intriguing new anime to come out this spring. Based on the real-life story of a former slave-turned-samurai retainer of Oda Nobunaga, the series boasts a who’s who of behind-the-scenes talent, with director Takeshi Koike (Lupid the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine) contributing design work, LaKeith Stanfield (Get Out, Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) providing the voice of the lead character, and musician-producer Flying Lotus contributing the score for the series. With animation credited to studio MAPPA (Jujutsu Kaisen, Dororo, Dorohedoro), Yasuke has all the makings of a stunning production and we can’t wait to see the series has in store for audiences when it premieres on Netflix. —TE
Yasuke premieres April 29 on Netflix.
Zombieland Saga: Revenge
While idol anime might not be appealing to all anime fans, Zombie Land Saga is the idol anime for everyone. All of the girls are from various time periods and died, but they were brought back alive to be zombie idols. It’s fun to learn about their different backstories, while sticking around for whatever weird scheme they have cooked up to promote their group. It has a delightful amount of slapstick humor every episode, leaning into the zombie genre, whether it’s limbs detaching or makeup smearing off, revealing their zombie appearances to their human fans. —Julia Lee