A new year means a new anime season, and this one promises not to disappoint. If last season brought a number of exciting adaptations into anime form like Jujutsu Kaisen and TONIKAWA, this Winter 2021 anime season is filled to the brim with sequels to some of the biggest anime properties of recent years.
If that wasn’t enough, Japanese theaters are set to receive an onslaught of anime films in the next few months, provided a new state of emergency isn’t imposed on Japan as a result of rising cases of COVID-19. The next two films in the recent rebooted adaptation of Sailor Moon, titled Sailor Moon: Eternal, will be joined by what is undoubtably the most anticipated anime film of the year at the end of January: Evangelion 3.0+1.0. The latest Seitokai Yakuindomo movie is out now having released in Japanese theaters on 1 January, and Gintama: The Final, Princess Principal: Crown Handler, Aria the Crepuscolo, and Doraemon: Nobita’s Little Star Wars 2021 are all set to release before the end of March.
Whether the experience you’re after is on the silver screen or the TV screen, several exciting anime are set to release this Winter. Here are the most anticipated upcoming TV anime for the Winter 2021 anime season.
Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World From Zero- Season 2 Part 2
Ever since the first season of Re:Zero aired in 2016, the story of Subaru Natsuki’s sudden transportation to another world, where he falls in love with and becomes a companion of the silver-haired Emilia, has inspired audiences around of the world and remains one of the most popular anime and light novel properties around today. The first part of season 2 brought our main cast into the Sanctuary, the resting place of Emilia, the Witch of Greed, and ‘home’ of demi-humans discarded by society and unable to leave due to the barrier. The series was far removed from the action-heavy first season, with the entire 13-episode run taking place within the confines of the village and a single looping time period that sees Subaru desperate to free the people trapped in the Sanctuary and Rem and the others at the Roswaal mansion.
Where it succeeded, however, was in delving deep into Subaru as a character and crafting a story of self-love in a genre defined by power fantasies. This continuation of the story is easily one of the most anticipated shows of the upcoming season, while also a personal highlight from the upcoming season.
Following a delay as a result of COVID-19, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World From Zero- Season 2 Part 2 starts on 6 January, with the entire season streaming exclusively on Crunchyroll.
Beastars Season 2
Another highly anticipated sequel airing during the Winter 2021 anime season, Paru Itagaki’s beloved manga is a personal favorite of many of the staff here at OTAQUEST. This story, set in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals and in the school of Cherryton Academy, centers on the intimidating but actually well-spirited Legoshi. The first season kicks off with a herbivore student being murdered in the night, with Legoshi becoming the prime suspect despite being anything but aggressive. He falls in love with the dwarf rabbit Haru, and the series follows the story of their love and the lives of the people of Cherryton Academy as it tackles themes of adolescence, social diversity, and the exploration of, ironically, human nature.
Season 2 promises to continue adapting the recently concluded manga, with Studio Orange and much of the staff that worked on the original series returning to work on the show. With the love many have for the manga and the original series of the anime, perhaps the most disappointing thing about Beastars is that most people outside of Japan will have a long wait for this latest season. While Beastars hits Japanese TV screens on 7 January, the show won’t be available in other countries till Netflix releases the anime in its entirety on the streaming service in July 2021.
The Promised Neverland Season 2
— 『約束のネバーランド』公式 (@yakuneba_staff) December 20, 2020
Another highly-anticipated sequel for the upcoming Winter 2021 anime season (spotting a trend yet?), The Promised Neverland became a fan favorite ever since the first season of the anime aired in January 2019. Thanks to a strong opening episode that instantly sold the premise to new audiences, the popularity of the series has only grown both inside and outside of Japan, as witnessed by strong sales for the manga, this latest anime season, and a recent live-action adaptation.
In The Promised Neverland, a group of children live a seemingly ideal life at an orphanage, but their home is little more than a farm, with the kids the livestock being raised to feed demons. Learning this, they escape, and have been on the run ever since, trying to find a way to end this cruel cycle and the reign of the demons. This story is set to continue in season 2.
As with season 1 of the anime, season 2 of The Promised Neverland will stream on Funimation from 8 January.
Cells at Work!! and Cells at Work!! Black
With a continuation of the mainline story and a new adaptation of a popular spin-off, Cells at Work is back in animated form (and after a long hiatus) with two series this Winter 2021 anime season.
Cells at Work season 2 is a continuation of the 2018 anime series of the same name, a unique concept that reimagined the human body and the various complex systems that make up a person’s bodily functions and anthropomorphized them into a living, breathing workforce. You have the red blood cells transporting oxygen and more around the workplace, platelets protecting against injury, white blood cells fighting against invading bacteria and viruses, and more. Each story in the series reinvents various tasks the body undertakes on a daily basis as an entertaining action story, with the first season being a surprising success for the amusing and entertaining way it brought the human body to life. Expect more of this with season 2!
Cells at Work!! Black is something a little different. While the core concept of a human body reimagined as a workplace and society remains, this series is much darker: the body in this story is far less well-maintained than the body in the main series. Blood cells are crusty with cholesterol, stress hormones are everywhere, ulcers and fat are everywhere… and that’s just the start! This makes Cells at Work!! Black a darker interpretation of the original formula. With the manga being a modest success, it’ll be interesting to discover how this concept will translate into animated form, and whether two Cells at Work series airing at the same time will feel overwhelming.
Cells at Work will begin airing on 9 January, while Cells at Work!! Black will air from 10 January. Both anime will stream exclusively on Funimation.
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars
The popular Shonen Jump manga adaptation of Dr. Stone is set to continue with a second season hitting Japanese TV screens this January!
Now that Senkuu and his friends have settled into life in the Stone World thousands of years after the world was petrified by a blinding flash of light, the slow rebuilding of humanity has brought with it two rival camps battling for survival in this new world: Senku’s Kingdom of Science and Tsukasa’s Empire of Might. As the name of this new season suggests, a battle between these two camps is the central focus of this new season, with a number of new characters also joining the roster for the battle and beyond.
The length of the new season, and whether this latest season of Dr. Stone will adapt the series beyond the Stone Wars arc, remains to be seen, but it certainly won’t be a show to miss. Dr. Stone: Stone Wars will stream exclusively on Crunchyroll from 14 January.
How about anime that aren’t sequels? Horimiya may be the show for you.
This romance anime is centered on two characters that hide their true selves from one another and the world. Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura are two people with completely opposite personalities, or so they thought, until one day they run into one another outside of school, looking and acting far different to their in-school personas. This act, unable to be truthful about who they are to other people until being discovered by accident, brings them closer together as they learn more about these other sides to their personalities, forming a close friendship, and possibly more.
It’s a sweet concept that, with the team at CloverWorks at the helm including Masashi Ishihama, director of the Persona 5 anime, could become a strong non-sequel hit in a season dominated by familiar faces. Horimiya premieres on Funimation from 9 January.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2
An isekai series with a title like That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime may sound like parody, but the show was a massive success when it first aired for being an entertaining and unique romp through a fantasy world. This Winter 2021 anime season sees the show return for a second outing.
Continuing on from where the first season of the anime left off with the Jura Tempest Alliance growing further, the team will now meet the animal kingdom of Eurazania while reuniting with King Gazel. However, tensions between monster and human races are growing, and a greater enemy is on the horizon.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 will air in two parts, with the first part airing as part of the current anime season. The subbed version of the show will stream on Crunchyroll from 12 January.
The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬
The Quintessential Quintuplets was a surprise hit harem anime when it aired in 2019, and now the show will make a return to screens as part of the Winter 2021 anime season.
The series has a rather standard harem set-up, admittedly, with a poor high-school student named Futaro Uesugi taking on a private tutoring gig that turns out to be five of his classmates who happen to be quintuplets. None is academically gifted and they all are on the verge of flunking out of school as a result. Where this series stands out, and the reason the show has earned itself a major following both inside and outside of Japan, is that the show avoids falling into fanservice and cliche and creates a genuinely heartwarming romantic comedy with a large cast of likable characters. This will remain the focus of season 2 as the adaptation of the popular manga which recently came to an end will continue in animated form.
As with season 1, The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ will be streamed on Crunchyroll following its Japanese premiere on 8 January.
Wonder Egg Priority
— TVアニメ「ワンダーエッグ・プライオリティ」公式 (@WEP_anime) December 16, 2020
If you fancy an original anime this Winter 2021 anime season, an anime that isn’t an adaptation or a sequel to a popular property, why not check out Wonder Egg Priority? This CloverWorks-produced original anime has a unique concept and stands apart from the rest of the shows airing this season with its sci-fi concept.
Wonder Egg Priority tells the story of Ai, an introverted girl whose fate is forever changed when she acquires a Wonder Egg from a deserted arcade. That night, as a result of picking up this Wonder Egg, dreams blend into reality, and as other girls obtain their own Wonder Eggs, Ai discovers new friends and the magic within herself.
Details on the show beyond this are few and far between, but the trailer for the anime introduces an intriguing works to discover, while the strong staff list suggests the show is in good hands. Shin Wakabayashi will serve as director on the show while Her Blue Sky animation director Saki Takahashi is serving as character designer and chief animation director on the show. DE DE MOUSE and Clammbon bassist Mito are also serving as composers for the anime.
Wonder Egg Priority will stream exclusively on Funimation from 13 January.
Another original anime airing this season, and another highly anticipated series thanks to the names of the people involved, is Vladlove, Mamoru Oshii’s first TV anime directorial work since Urusei Yatsura.
Luckily for us, we already know the anime is going to be an enjoyable experience. While the official premiere of Vladlove isn’t until next month, the first episode is free to stream over on the Vladlove YouTube channel. Mitsugu Bamba, a high school student who frequently donates blood, stumbles upon a girl who appears to have come from abroad that looks faint and starts destroying the blood bank. As it turns out, she’s a vampire, and this proves to be the conceptual basis for the slapstick school vampire comedy that Oshii has returned to TV anime to direct.
Vladlove will premiere in Japan on Amazon Prime, Hulu and Bandai Channel on 14 February, with a streaming service for the international release yet to be confirmed beyond the YouTube release of the opening episode.
While Netflix has a packed schedule for upcoming anime in 2021, only one of these shows is confirmed to release during the Winter 2021 anime season: High-Rise Invasion.
Described by Netflix as an ‘unhinged and gory-death game manga’, the story of the original High-Rise Invasion follows high school student Yuri Honjo, who finds herself lost in an ‘abnormal space’ where countless skyscrapers are connected by suspension bridges, and where ‘masked figures’ slaughter people at will. To survive, she has to kill these masked figures. Yuri is determined to survive in this irrational world, no matter what.
Netflix anime productions have typically leaned into adaptations or original anime with a more action-oriented premise, or have been based on popular and well-known properties. On this front, this series fits comfortably into Netflix’s wheelhouse of anime co-productions, but still has potential to be an enjoyable experience. High-Rise Invasion will stream worldwide on Netflix in February 2020.
Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table
Log Horizon is back! But Database is not!
It’s almost surprising to see the anime return after all this time. While the light novel franchise of the same name has been ongoing since 2010, after two anime adaptations in 2013 and 2014, no further anime based on the franchise have been produced in the intervening years. That’s set to change this month with a third season in production to air on 13 January.
Log Horizon is set in a world where 30,000 players of the MMORPG Elder Tales have found their real world transformed into a fantasy world taken straight from the game they all know and love. This new season continues where season 2 left off one year on from the initial event that brought them all into this fantasy virtual world, as fracturing alliances threaten the peace the platers have formed in this new reality.
Whether the show continues to engage players as it did when it first aired in the mid-2010s remains to be seen, but Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table is set to stream on Funimation from 13 January.
SK8 the Infinity
Get ready for "SK8 the Infinity", a brand new, original anime from the all-star team featuring Hiroko Utsumi (Director), Ichiro Ohkouchi (Series Composition/Screenplay), Michinori Chiba (Character Design), and Animation Production by Bones! 🛹 pic.twitter.com/KWOXpafh9L
— Aniplex of America (@aniplexUSA) September 20, 2020
An original anime from Free and Banana Fish director Hiroko Utsumi and animated by Studio BONES? And it’s about skateboarding? Sure, I’m on board.
SK8 the Infinity follows Lexi and Ranga in a modern-day world different from the one we’re familiar of. Leki is a second-year high school that gets caught up in ‘S’, an underground skateboarding circuit taking place in an abandoned mine. Ranga has just returned to Japan from Canada and also gets dragged into the situation despite having never skateboarded before. These races are extreme, with no rules, with racers who’ll do anything to win, and even with AI racers that all compete together in skateboard racing battles.
Assisting Hiroko Utsumi on the show is Ichiro Okuchi as series scriptwriter, Michinori Chiba taking on the role of character designer, and Ryo Takahashi who is handling the music for the series. It’s a unique concept, with the anime streaming exclusively on Funimation from 10 December.
Yuru Camp Season 2
Winter is cold, but that doesn’t mean the anime need to be! Warming up the Winter 2021 anime selection is the second season of Yuru Camp.
Yuru Camp is a slice-of-life anime centered on a group of girls with a passion for camping who often visit various places around Japan. There’s little more than this basic premise, but the appeal of this show stems from how welcoming and lovable its cast of characters are. The atmosphere and tone of a show about a group of friends wandering and camping in the Japanese countryside has a level of warmth you can’t help but embrace. It’s laid-back entertainment of the best degree, and more of the same is more than welcome.
Although it has yet to be officially announced, considering Crunchyroll were in charge of simulcasting the first season of the anime, don’t be surprised if the company also streams the show following its Japanese premiere on 7 January.
So I’m a Spider, So What?
Think the slime anime, but instead of a slime the main character turns into a spider as they’re transported to another world, and you have a rough idea of what to expect from this Winter 2021 anime.
In this anime, a spider is reincarnated into a fantasy world in the body of a dungeon spider and follows her adventure as she tries to survive in this new universe. The main character, the unnamed spider, must rely on her human knowledge and positivity to survive, eventually meeting new people who will be with them on their adventure. The series is far more tongue in cheek than you may have come to expect from the genre, but that’s far from a bad thing considering how enjoyable initial trailers and a 10-minute preview of the opening episode of the show have been.
As a Crunchyroll Original, this anime will stream exclusively on Crunchyroll from 8 January.
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki-kun
Tomozaki Fumiya doesn’t fit in as much as he wishes he did and initially is unsure how to change it. Unlike the games he plays, there’s no rule book to guide him or strategies to master, and it can almost feel like real life is impossible for him as a result. Maybe with the help of someone else, like Aoi Hinami, he can find some guidance and gain the life experience he needs.
The concept may sound a little played out on paper, but the original light novel and later manga adaptation are both well-regarded with a successful English release from Yen Press for both releases.
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki-kun now has to cross a further frontier into animated form, with a team over at Project no. 9 leading the anime project. The series will stream on Funimation following the anime’s premiere on 8 January.
2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team
The latest anime project from David Production, directed by Yasuhiro Kimura with series composition by Yosuke Kuroda, is a manga adaptation of 2.43 Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team by Yukako Kabei, and hopes to fill the gap left open by the conclusion of the Haikyuu manga (and current pause in the anime adaptation of that series) when it premieres during the Winter 2021 anime season.
Kimichika Haijima was a member of a strong junior high school volleyball team in Tokyo, but after getting into serious trouble with the team, he moves to his mother’s hometown of Fukui, where he spent his childhood, and is reunited with his childhood friend, Yuni Kuroba. They had once been friends, but a fight before their middle school graduation ended their friendship. The two of them start school at Seiin High no longer friends. They both join the volleyball team, made up of the hot-headed captain Aoki, the 193 cm vice-captain Aoki, as well as second-grader Kanno, who is allergic to sunlight and always wears long sleeves and long pants. The team wants to aim for one more shot at the nationals, but their prefecture only gets one slot in the tournament, pitting them against the talent of Fukuho Tech.
2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team looks like an enjoyable sports anime for the upcoming season, and will stream exclusively on Funimation from 7 January.
Non Non Biyori: Nonstop
More Non Non Biyori is never a bad thing, and this Winter 2021 anime season is promising just that.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Non Non Biyori is set in the rural village of Asahigaoka, a village so small the entire school across all age groups is made up of just a handful of students who all share the same classroom. The series picks up when Hotaru, a Tokyo-raised kid, moves to the village, and soon has to adapt to life far-removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. The anime itself spends the rest of its runtime across two seasons, OVAs, and a movie telling a heartwarming story of friendship in rural Japan between a likeable cast of characters.
This third season of the anime brings a new character into the village, shifting the dynamics of the group as they all work to make this new student feel welcome in their unique rural life. I can’t wait for more.
Expect new episodes of Non Non Biyori: Nonstop weekly following its premiere on 11 January on HiDive.
World Trigger Season 2
— アニメ「ワールドトリガー」公式 2021年1月9日(土)深夜1時30分〜放送開始！ (@Anime_W_Trigger) November 28, 2020
World Trigger Season 2 is a welcome return for the anime since the first season aired in 2014. It continues the adaptation of the popular Jump Square series.
This sci-fi action story is set in Mikado City. Creatures from another world, known as ‘neighbors’, attack Mikado City and take humans back with them, wreaking havoc in the process. The story of the series follows Osamu Mikumo, a member-in-training of the Border Defense Agency defending against these attacks, who comes into contact with a humanoid neighbor in disguise known as Yuma Kuga. Mikumo therefore decides to work to hide Yuma’s true identity from the Border that would seek to hurt him.
World Trigger Season 2 will continue this story when it streams on Crunchyroll from 9 January.
With a number of exciting sequels, adaptations and original anime airing in this upcoming Winter 2021 anime season, this list still excludes a number of potentially exciting upcoming titles.
The Gekidol anime project is an intriguing mixture of idols and theater, starting as a Comiket project and now receiving both an anime based on the project’s central theme of a girl joining a theater troupe that brightens the world by performing using 3D hologram technology (fitting in this COVID climate, eh?), and a second anime titled Alice in Deadly School based on a play found within the Gekidol universe.
Ex-Arm is a Crunchyroll Original airing this season that’s unfortunately gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons.
Otherside Picnic is everything I could want by being a yuri science fiction anime, based on the light novel of the same name being released in English by J-Novel Club.
Whatever your interests, this upcoming anime season will have at least one show that will pique your interest.
What will you be watching?