Winter 2021 SF Anime Preview

Yes, folks, 2021 is already hovering before us, like a gigantic overhang which is about to collapse on us in an avalanche of anime. The upcoming season features several delayed projects on top of the anime world nearly resuming its pre-2020 output.

In honor of the new year, I’m trying something new: instead of posters, I’ll give you direct embeds of the latest trailers, going for English-subtitled ones where possible. Titles will still link to official sites with a bunch more preview material.

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The premise: A mysterious man turns up in a land surrounded by an impenetrable wall, claiming that he came from beyond the wall. Also there is mecha combat.

Derivative factor: Original

The buzz: Many people are holding out hope for this one less on its visible merits and more because it shares a director, Taniguchi Gorō, with an enduringly popular series, Code Geass.

Premiere: January 8

Cells at Work! Code Black

The premise: Anthropomorphic cells struggle to keep a very unhealthy human body operating.

Derivative factor: Adaptation of spinoff

The buzz: If the original Cells at Work!, was too cute and upbeat for you, then maybe the grimdark version is your thing. (If not, see the returning adaptations section later in this post.)

Premiere: January 9

Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist

The premise: A doctor specializes in the afflictions produced by a peculiar psychosomatic disease which leads people to find parts of their bocy replaced by food.

Derivative factor: Manga adaptation

The buzz: Zany and lowbrow, whether you like this will depends on your taste (no pun intended) in humor.

Premiere: January 9


The premise: A technophobic high school student is killed in an accident, but his brain is preserved to become part of a superweapon.

Derivative factor: Manga adaptation

The buzz: The latest entry with the dreaded “Crunchyroll Originals” label is headlined by a team with zero experience in animation who have swaggered in announcing that they are going to show everyone how it all should be done. The awful promotional videos that have followed have already earned EX-ARM a feature-length takedown on Anime News Network. The general expectation at this point is that this is going to so completely terrible that everyone will have to check it out just so they can say they were there to see it.

Premiere: January 10

Gekidol and Alice in Deadly School

The premise: In Gekidol, the disappearance of several major cities is not enough to stop the system that makes young women compete for stardom, in holographic plays in this case. Alice in Deadly School is an adaptation of a play the Gekidol idols compete to appear in.

Derivative factor: Original

The buzz: For all the interesting possibilities inherent in the premise, Gekidol looks like a totally generic idol show and Alice in Deadly School looks like a cynical attempt at some extra cashing in.

Premiere: January 4 (Alice) and 5 (Gekidol)

Heaven’s Design Team

The premise: Biological designers work for the toughest client of all: God.

Derivative factor: Manga adaptation

The buzz: Looks like a decent office comedy if nothing else.

Premiere: January 7

Hortensia Saga

The premise: A young lord learns the truth about his vaguely medieval world while facing a rebellion and an influx of monsters.

Derivative factor: Video game adaptation

The buzz: Yawn. Yet another interchangeable fantasy mobile game adaptation; while nothing about it looks especially bad, don’t expect much from it.

Premiere: January 6

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation

The premise: An unemployed shut-in gets kicked out of his house, dies, and is immediately reincarnated in a fantasy world as a child with huge potential.

Derivative factor: Light novel adaptation

The buzz: And here is one of many basically interchangeable portal fantasy series. This is actually an older work that many of those interchangeable series are imitating, but that doesn’t give it anything to stand out from the crowd of its successors.

Premiere: January 10

Otherside Picnic

The premise: Two young women fall in love as they make expeditions into an alternate reality.

Derivative factor: Light novel adaptation

The buzz: Anime fandom isn’t sure what to make of this one, but allows that it might be okay.

Premiere: January 4

Redo of Healer

The premise: An healing specialist in an RPG-like fantasy world is tormented by his teammates until gets so good that he is able to turn back time four years and restart his career.

Derivative factor: Light novel adaptation

The buzz: As a grimdark revenge power fantasy, it stands a good chance of being the next Rising of the Shield Hero (remembered as “that incel anime”) or Goblin Slayer (which was not much better).

Premiere: January 13

Scar on the Praeter

The premise: An autonomous zone in Tokyo is policed by organizations with magical powers.

Derivative factor: Part of multimedia franchise

The buzz: While visually appealing, the people behind this are best known for an epically terrible show, so it’ll have a lot of resistance to overcome.

Premiere: January 8

So I’m a Spider, So What?

The premise: An entire class is reincarnated as humans in an RPG-like world, except for one unlucky student who becomes a low-level spider in a dungeon.

Derivative factor: Light novel adaptation

The buzz: Some potential, but mostly it appears to be borrowing bits and pieces of other shows in a setting we’re far too familiar with at this point.

Premiere: January 8

Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town

The premise: A would-be adventurer in an RPG world discovers that he far stronger than those around him in his new home.

Derivative factor: Light novel adapatation

The buzz: Throwing yet another overpowered protagonist into yet another D&D-inspired fantasy world with yet another group of mostly female companions is nobody’s idea of a fresh start after 2020.

Premiere: January 4

Wonder Egg Priority

The premise: A teenage girl gets an ultrarare collectible egg, but then a voice tells her to break it, and when she does, another girl emerges.

Derivative factor: Original

The buzz: This is going to be an odd one, but with very little advance information it’s hard to say if it’ll be a good or a bad sort of odd.

Premiere: January 12

And we have several continuing adaptations:

That is a lot to choose from, but if I had to pick one new show that I was most looking forward to seeing, it would be Otherside Picnic. Wonder Egg Priority is looking pretty interesting as well, and if Gekidol and Alice in Deadly School don’t get up to some kind of reality-bending crossover shenanigans, I will be exceedingly disappointed.

What are you looking forward to?

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