Every three months close to 40 new anime series are released into the wild in hopes of finding their audience. This season is packed with stellar anime vying for your attention. The Spring 2021 Preview Guide was proof enough with multiple series garnering near-perfect scores. If you're like me, there just isn't enough time in the week to watch absolutely everything and its literally my job to keep tabs on what's what. If you're still trying to whittle down your Crunchyroll queue to the cream of the crop, here are the five series you absolutely do not want to miss based on scientific data my impeccable taste.
Zombieland Saga is a unique entry in an already overstuffed genre, and you can read more about what makes a series about undead idols stand out from the crowd in Mercedez Clewis' excellent piece elsewhere on the site. The sequel continues Zombieland Saga's path of bucking trends by experimenting with what idols can and cannot do. While most of its brethren stick to a tried-and-true underdog formula framed around poppy tunes, Zombie Land Saga Revenge plays with its group musical flavor. Franchouchou blends hip-hop and heavy metal and allows its idols to use their raw emotional power to make the performances feel more authentic than manufactured. Also, the show is incredibly funny and never shies away from poking fun at itself. Plenty of words have been spent on Mamoru Miyano's scenery-eating performances, but only Zombie Land Saga Revenge includes a heartfelt sub-plot about an aging local radio celebrity with impossible hair and only rides on the hood of his car.
Idol anime might be a dime a dozen but series focusing on specific instruments are fewer and far between. Those Snow White Notes focuses deftly on high school-aged shamisen player Setsu Sawamura. Setsu is well-known in professional shamisen circles as the grandson of a Matsugorо̄ Sawamura, a player of great renown. Before his grandfather passed away, he refused to teach Setsu how to play his original composition. Instead, his Matsugorō tasked Setsu with discovering and creating his own sound, an idea foreign to younger player who considered his grandfather the be-all-end-all of shamisen playing. Thus, the stage is set for the adolescent to "get his groove back" by discovering what playing the shamisen means to him outside of admiration for his grandfather.
The coming-of-age story is helped in a large part thanks to fantastic performances by The Yoshida Brothers. The sibling musicians hail from northern Japan and specialize in the specific type of shamisen playing that is native to the region. Each episode of Those Snow White Notes has included a shamisen performance, with episode two's vocal-backed song being one of my personal favorites.
This tapir isn't the main character but I'm very fond of his design. The character design work in Odd Taxi is just one of the exceptional details about this series focusing on the seemingly mundane lives of animals in Nerima City. The characters are heightened by the banter-filled script by manga creator Kadzuya Konomoto. Essentially, the world of Odd Taxi feels natural despite the fact its inhabited by crimelord tapirs and gorilla doctors. The cartoonish approach also masks the dramatic intrigue where every character seems to play a part, be it corrupt cops, drug-stealing alpacas, or our insomniac tusked cabby. Odd Taxi has enough boiling underneath the surface to hold viewers' interest but it's definitely a slowburn. Don't expect a lot of big action pieces.
I've been telling about To Your Eternity for awhile now. I first came across it in the Fall 2017 manga guide and I've purchased every volume since. Now, Brains Base's animation doesn't quite live up to Ōima's fantastic artwork, but the streamlined designs allow for more expressiveness and fluidity. Perhaps more importantly, the emotional beats continue to hit like a sledgehammer. The series' first episode was a masterclass display of how to tell a compelling narrative in only 25 minutes. If you haven't checked it out yet, To Your Eternity follows a supernatural being sent to an Earth-like planet to observe humanity while experiencing its own evolution from a lowly rock to sentience to humanity. Of course to become human, one first has to experience the trials and tribulations of sentience. Fūshi's journey paired with expert world-building makes To Your Eternity appointment viewing for me. You're not going to want to miss it.
Tokyo Revengers wasn't a show that I initially thought was for me. It features some wacky Butterfly Effect logic that requires viewers to suspend their disbelief. I'm not one for uncovering plot holes as a form of criticism, but to enjoy Tokyo Revengers you just have to accept a few things you normally wouldn't. Once that hurdle is cleared, Tokyo Revengers is engaging blend of delinquent antics and time travel.
Watch as Takemichi has to relive the worst part of his life, and it's not just because he gets the crap beat out of him daily by a punch of punks. Middle school universally sucks for every person who had to deal with an influx of hormones, not to mention social posturing. But Takemichi's goal isn't to redo his teens and make a splashy debut as a popular kid; he's trying to keep his former girlfriend from becoming a human casualty in a gang war. I'm excited to see Takemichi evolve from a self-depreciating gofer to a genuine hero. Here's to his post-adolescent glow-up!
What do you guys think? Did I miss any hidden gems this season? Let us know which shows you're watching every week in the comments.
Sponsored Content: This article was sponsored by Crunchyroll as part of their sponsorship of the Spring 2021 Preview Guide. Although the article is sponsored, the sponsor has no influence on the content of the article; specifically, they have no influence on the shows we chose to list, nor on what we said about each show.
Check out all 37 shows of Crunchyroll's Spring 2021 Simulcast season here.