AniBitez: Winter 2021 Anime Part 1

We’ve entered Winter 2021 with an exciting lineup of anime awaiting us! If you’re wondering what to watch or don’t know where to start, check out our AniBitez to see what our staff think of the airing anime!

The Winter 2021 Anibitez will be split into two parts. Check out the Winter 2021 Anibitez Part 2!

2.43 Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Club: Will this set itself apart from Haikyuu?

Image: Funimation

2.43 Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Club follows the story of two high school volleyball players who have not seen each other since kindergarten. Kimichika Haijima was previously the star setter at his Tokyo high school, and he had been ostracized from his old school due to his toxically competitive conduct with his teammates. He has now come back to the countryside with Yuni Kuroba, but remains distant. 

From the first episode, the Haikyu!! comparisons will be inevitable because Kimichika appears to be a blond copy of Haikyu!!’s Kageyama. Overall, the show seems to go in other directions. As of right now, Kimichika is caught between the guilt of his previous conduct and his desire to compete, so I wouldn’t really consider this as an underdog story like Haikyu!!. David Production is animating this series, and they are most known for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, so I would be interested to see where the show goes when the action happens during the matches. There were also some obvious BL undertones sprinkled in the first episode such as the characters blushing many times throughout the first episode. I am not convinced that it will go anywhere, but there are elements if that is something you are looking for. I feel like the Haikyu!! comparisons will hold back critical reception, but the show will need more than its initial episode to see if it breaks the mold. 

By: @Nick

Attack on Titan Final Season: It was me all along, EREN! 

Image: Funimation

After a riveting season 3 that revealed all the plot points, we enter the final installment of the series. Only this time, season four of Attack on Titan begins with a time skip and a complete change in perspective. Instead of Eren and the Scouts, the new season (so far) focuses on Reiner Braun, the Armored Titan, and the Eldian Warrior Unit, which fights for the Marleyan government. Marley’s technology is falling behind the rest of the world, who have developed anti-Titan weapons. As such, Reiner and his superior Zeke Jaeger set their eyes to retake Paradis Island with the help of the Warrior Unit and the Tybar family. What awaits them is not a surprise on Paradis, but a surprise right in the heart of their own country. 

Whew! That’s a lot to digest! It’s no surprise that Attack on Titan Final Season dives back into the world’s complicated lore and characters. But even with the change in studios, there is no real compromise to anything so far. The story is still delivered similarly to WIT studio’s style, where important plot points and suspense hooks are agonizingly drawn out. Character designs and animation still retain their integrity, though with a bit more CGI for the Titan scenes. My only criticism is that the opening is not as invigorating and flashy as the previous seasons, but it’s a minor factor. I hope that MAPPA can continue to deliver the same kind of hype as WIT did all those years ago. 

By: @Agnes

Back Arrow: What was I expecting when I came into this show?

Image: Funimation

Looking back, I cannot remember why I chose to cover Back Arrow for Anibitez Winter 2021. Was it because a few high-profile Sunrise people contributed to a vaguely interesting story? Possibly. Back Arrow is about the fantasy world of Lingalind, which is enclosed by a series of Walls. The inhabitants of Lingalind revere the Walls as “gods” because every handful of years, the heavens will rain down these extraordinary metallic bands that grant a user a mecha known as a Briheight. One day, a man is sent down by the heavens with a Briheight. He does not remember his name and shocks the world by saying, “I come from the other side of the Walls,” thus embroiling himself in a conflict that strives to understand their relationship with the Walls and the Briheight. 

Almost immediately, I was hit with Code Geass vibes. Most of the mecha units, the world’s dynamic color schemes, and whacko character designs are examples of SUNRISE’s past success. But that’s where the similarities end. Back Arrow has semblances of a political struggle within Lingalind, but it is largely outshined by the grandiose entrance of a naked man who has amnesia. It’s a very typical anime plot that’s strung along with big-breasted girls and a clueless sidekick. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but maybe Back Arrow will appeal to me later down the line. We’re only one episode in, so Studio VOLN might have something up their sleeve. 

By: @Agnes

Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki: The game of life

Image: Aniplus Asia

Fumiya Tomozaki is the top player in a game called Attack Fams, but he decries the game called life. Fumiya’s view on life and “normies” earns the scorn of his classmate Aoi Hinami, a seemingly perfect student who also happens to be the second-best Attack Fams player. Although the two initially clash, Hinami eventually decides to help Fumiya change for the better through a series of goals.

Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki’s premise isn’t bad, but the premiere suffers from some notable stumbles. Having Fumiya and Aoi incorporate game terms while discussing life sounds neat, but by playing things straight, the dialogue sounds a little awkward. The gamer-speak in the show sounds additionally forced due to the repetition of hearing Attack Fams described as a “Godly Game” while life is a “shit game,” to the point where you could make a drinking game out of it. 

Meanwhile, Fumiya’s view on life brings to mind My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU’s Hikigaya Hachiman, but Fumiya lacks the latter’s wittiness and sarcasm and has no compelling or interesting traits of his own. If it weren’t for Aoi, who isn’t the manic pixie dream girl she initially seems to be, the premiere would be incredibly dull. Despite these key flaws, solid production values and the potential for the story to become noteworthy kept my impression of the premiere from completely tanking. The premiere isn’t great, but the show doesn’t seem to be bottom-tier material at least. 

By: @Melvyn

Cells at Work!!: The cells are well!!

Image: iQIYI

The Cells at Work franchise is back for a second season, with two exclamation marks instead of one. While familiar faces such as Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell show up, the absolutely adorable platelets steal the thunder in the first episode. We see their internal struggles, the training they go through, and the immense amount of teamwork needed to start healing wounds. It is a serious contrast compared to their more cheery image during the first season. We even get to know the “teacher” behind the adorable platelets’ functional education, showing there’s more to the platelets than simply being cute.

However, while the episode focused on the platelets, too many things were happening at the same time. While I understood that the platelets were facing a crisis in repairing the body, the bombardment of action and sudden appearance of the “teacher” left me feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to focus. Still, the disappearance of information boxes regarding new cells or situations, which were present in the first season, concerned me most. I had a hard time digesting information about the current situation without these written summaries. 

The episode wasn’t bad because of its comedic moments, but it also wasn’t as good as the first season due to the confusing presentation. I hope things clear up in the next few episodes or I might drop the anime despite my love for Cells at Work!

By: @Crystal

Cells at Work! CODE BLACK: Hell for the cells 

Image: Funimation

While the original Cells at Work! series follows a healthy body, Cells at Work! CODE BLACK shows us what happens to our cute little cells when we don’t take care of them. We follow a familiar sight, AA2153, a red blood cell starting his first day on his important job of delivering oxygen to the rest of the body. AA2153 is hopeful of his new job, but unfortunately, he receives grim knowledge that he has stepped onto an eternal battlefield for the rest of his existence. The body is in an unhealthy state, bought in by years of stress, smoking, alcohol, and other factors, and this setting serves as a stark contrast to the exemplary body in the original Cell at Work!. These poor conditions manifest into the setting as deep signs of poverty and decrepit buildings whose denizens are suffering from oxygen rationing. 

Despite this extremely bleak tone, Cells at Work! CODE BLACK is arguably funnier and more engaging than the original series, while still following real-world accuracy in bodily processes. Some of the funniest jokes within the first episode came from comparing and contrasting the introductions of familiar cells, but now they are shown thrown into a state of total war. This episode showcases the devastating effects of smoking on the body, and the cruel suffering leaves both AA2153 and the viewer the despair of not knowing if their sacrifices will be ultimately worth it. Cells at Work! CODE BLACK serves as a reminder that your cells are locked in an endless war for your sake, and you should show them your appreciation.

By: @Nick

Heaven’s Design Team: A zoologist’s fantasy vs PETA’s nightmare 

Image: Crunchyroll

Do you like animals? Do you ever wonder how animals survive? Well, look no further because Heaven’s Design Team is ready to make your realities come true! This comedy anime is about an elite team of designers and engineers who are responsible for populating Earth with animals per their client’s — good old God himself. A couple of angels are also assigned to this team as the mediators between the design team and their client, often getting “revelations” from God as a stamp of approval. What ensues is a hilarious segment of zoology with some corporate elements thrown in for a good measure. 

I find this show entertaining, as I can turn off my brain, eat some breakfast, and enjoy listening to cool animal facts and how they survive in the wild. All the characters are insanely quirky with their preferred “prototypes,” the art style is super comfy, and the educational segments are easy to follow. Concept-wise, I’m a bit hesitant to comment since there are some religious connotations woven in (i.e. God, angels, and creationism), which may counter the notions of evolutionism (i.e. Galapagos Island) that the show tries to portray. There is also a designer who solely designs animals in order to “eat them,” which can be seen as a quirky habit or something offensive. Either way, take this show with a grain of salt and have fun learning new things. 

By: @Agnes

Kemono Jihen: ‘Yer a hanyo, Dorotabo

Image: Muse Asia

Kemono Jihen is made out of very familiar elements. It has a world where there are offsprings between humans and otherworldly creatures, a main character who is shunned and feared for their background, and a story involving a chance to have a new life with strangers who will eventually become family. While this may sound trite on paper, the execution of the premiere strongly suggests that this is a show that will be worth your time. 

A detective from Tokyo has arrived in a rural village. Livestock are being slaughtered by an inhuman assailant. A boy named Dorotabo is shunned by his caretaker as well as other kids. Although it’s easy to predict what will happen in the second half of Kemono Jihen’s premiere, the first half’s gradual drip-feed of information and semi-heavy atmosphere had me paying attention. Even when events start to become predictable later on, the atmosphere and solid execution prevent the premiere from feeling stale, and the monster that appears at the end made me wish that Otherside Picnic’s premiere had at least something half as memorable as Kemono Jihen. While it’s odd that the young protagonist has a startling and unexplained efficiency in combat, and I worry that the change in scenery at the end of the premiere will cause the rest of the show to feel like more typical action fare, Kemono Jihen is off to a good start. 

By: @Melvyn

Laid Back Camp Season 2: The camp hasn’t ended!

Image: Ani-One

Looking back, watching Laid Back Camp was a great decision. Some of my friends gushed about how amazing Laid Back Camp was, but I never got to it until now. Once I watched the first two episodes though, I was addicted. And thus, I return for the series’s second season. 

Laid Back Camp Season 2 is a continuation of the first season, and the series is popularly known as “cute girls go camping.” The first episode features Rin’s past, where we see how she got started with camping, and reunites us at the end of the episode with the gang of the energetic Nadeshiko, dog owner Saitou, enigmatic Chiaki, and the slightly airheaded Aoi. With the second episode focused on Rin’s solo camping once more, I look forward to seeing how her camp on New Year’s Eve goes.

I love Laid Back Camp because it embodies the idea of “comfy” so well, and the warm, fuzzy feeling conjures images of a log cabin with a warm fireplace. Season 2 continues this comfortable atmosphere by showing us the five friends’ interactions amidst well-drawn backgrounds of nature. The new season also comes full circle to show us Rin planning to camp alone, like how she did so during the first season. If anything, Season 2 has me hoping that the girls will camp together more because it is that much joy watching them. Perhaps I should have my quilt wrapped around me and keep a mug of hot chocolate by my side as I watch more of Laid Back Camp Season 2.

By: @Crystal

Mushoku Tensei Jobless Reincarnation: Kyon gets isekai’d  

Image: Muse Asia

An unnamed 34-year-old shut-in is killed by a truck while trying to save some teenagers. He reincarnates as Rudeus, the baby of two former adventurers, in a fantasy world with his memories intact. Rudeus discovers that he is extraordinarily gifted in magic and, under the tutelage of the mage Roxy Migurdia, decides to give it his all in this second chance at life. 

While some of the spoilers I’ve read about Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation sounded intriguing, the premiere did not convince me that the show would feature a compelling story. The proceedings are mostly ordinary, with the exception of a hilariously random cutaway to sounds of Rudeus’ parents having sex. Fortunately for the show, this shortcoming is overcome by impressively high-quality production values and a certain voice actor.

The premiere grabs the eye from the very first shot, and it maintains its visual strength throughout. Outside of animation highlights like a wall-shattering blast of water and the healing of a felled tree, the show’s photography conveys the fantasy world’s warm environment well, in contrast to the gritty and cold atmosphere of the brief early scenes on Earth. The sound effects can be impressive too. But as good as the show looks, much of the premiere’s watchability is owed to Tomokazu Sugita, aka The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’s sardonic Kyon. While Rudeus speaks with Yumi Uchiyama’s voice, his thoughts are voiced by Sugita. Because it sounds like Kyon delivering the relevant lines, Rudeus’ less-than-charming perverted thoughts and unexceptional monologues become unexpected highlights. Basically, I came for the animation but stayed for Sugita’s voice.

By: @Melvyn

Otherside Picnic: Anime S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Image: Ani-One

An alternate reality where internet urban legends like the shadowy, mind-assaulting Kunekune exist alongside our own world. Accessible through certain doors (and elevators), it is in this “Otherside” that two girls, the reserved Sorao Kamikoshi and the energetic, Makarov-toting Toriko Nishina, first cross paths. With its abandoned-looking, post-apocalyptic aesthetic, and otherworldly nature, the Otherside brings to mind The Zone from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, despite various differences. Meanwhile, Sorao and Toriko’s attempt to retrieve an item for profit in the premiere’s second half is mildly reminiscent of the stalkers from those games and the Roadside Picnic novel the games are loosely based on. 

It’s cool to see a yuri anime with a S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-esque setting, but the Otherside doesn’t leave much of an impression in the premiere. More exciting supernatural encounters happen when Sorao and Toriko are behind doors instead of being on the plains of the Otherside itself, and the Kunekune’s amorphous appearance is rather unmemorable. There’s also a baffling lack of explanation about the Otherside, considering how Sorao and Toriko seem to take its existence for granted. I expected to at least find out if the Otherside is common knowledge or something that’s only known to urban legend believers. The premiere still entertains thanks to the natural interactions and solid chemistry between Sorao and Toriko, but it will be crucial for future episodes to not just expand on the characters’ backgrounds and Toriko’s goal, but to provide the Otherside with a stronger presence.

By: @Melvyn

So I’m a Spider, So What?: SPIDERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO! 

Image: Crunchyroll

Spiders are not my favorite critters. I cannot stand the sight of things with multiple eyes, eight legs, and a very furry abdomen. But in So I’m a Spider, So what? I find myself less bothered by the main character’s spider design and more focused on how she makes it out of that cannibalizing nest. As the title suggests, this show is about an isekai-ed student establishing herself in a new world as a spider of all things. Will she face “monstrous” prejudice found in the likes of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime? Most likely. Will she be any different from the thousands of isekai protagonists? That remains to be seen.

So far, I do like the show’s more reactionary comedy (thanks to Aoi Yūuki’s spectacular voice acting) and that the series focuses on her classmates also being isekai-ed as different humans, genders, or species. These are all very amusing to me as a watcher and presents a possibility that this series can be different. On the other hand, the set up of the story follows a too-familiar format of isekais where the character learns skills, gains resistance by fighting monsters, and gains an awareness far beyond that of their status. There are no actual stakes set in place to make her ascension urgent enough. So I’m a Spider, So What? doesn’t quite sell me as a standout reincarnation show, but it’s entertaining enough to keep me sitting in my chair. 

By: @Agnes

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter: It’s just as horny as I thought it would be

Image: Crunchyroll

In direct contrast to classic light novel tropes, The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter doesn’t actually give away the whole story in just the title.  In fact, the dungeon isn’t even where most of the story takes place. The show follows Noir, the son of a lower-ranked noble, who obtains a powerful skill in the titular hidden dungeon. This skill requires him to do pleasurable things in order to use it. His childhood friend Emma is more than happy to oblige, and the pair of them enroll in the hero academy to become adventurers. 

Having read some of the manga adaptation, I knew what I was getting into, and I had tempered my expectations accordingly. The animation, music, and voice acting are all satisfactory. I smiled at one or two of the jokes. It’s a generic fantasy setting and story with a few unique changes to help it stand out from the rest. In this case, the standout change is how gosh darn horny these teens are for each other. While not at the level of shows like High School DxD or The Testament of the Sister New Devil, I would not recommend watching this with polite company. Valuable animation frames are spent on boobie bounces, panty shots, and kissing scenes that zoom in at the end, focusing on a little bit of tongue and saliva, that linger just long enough to make the viewer feel like a voyeuristic third wheel. But take away these scenes, and you’re left with just another bland fantasy show.

By: @James

The Promised Neverland Season 2: Orphans on the run

Image: Funimation

The Promised Neverland Season 2 follows Emma, Ray, and the rest of the orphans who have escaped from the Grace Field House where they were secretly being raised as livestock for demon consumption. The second season opens up where the children are now thrust into an unknown world and are trying to survive while avoiding the demons pursuing them. For this new season, both the children and the viewers are left in the dark. The plants and fauna resemble life from the ocean and are unlike anything both parties have seen before. This ever-growing mystery is compounded with the demons themselves, who have cast aside their desire to remain hidden to secure their escaped livestock at all cost.

This season continues to drive the strengths from the first season into its initial episode, such as the tension brought on by the struggle of these characters who are nearly powerless against the demons hunting them. The children are hunted by the monsters inhabiting this strange world, but are also dealing with intelligent demons who we know nothing about except for their terrifying prowess.There are many mysteries that we were left with in the first season, and our first glimpse of the outside world makes us question even more. What is the demon society like? Are there other escapees or human survivors out there? I’m excited to see where this show is going to take us this season.

By: @Nick

Wonder Egg Priority: A priority watch

Image: Funimation’s Twitter Page

Wonder Egg Priority might be the biggest surprise of the season. 

The promotional videos for the anime gave me the impression that it would be a teen drama with supernatural elements, a little like Orange and Her Blue Sky, but with a heavier, A Silent Voice-esque atmosphere. Wonder Egg Priority’s quiet moments do have the tender interactions and weight that I enjoy in my dramas, and the subject of bullying and inaction towards it seems to be a central theme of the show. However, the first comparison that came to mind as I watched the premiere was the late Satoshi Kon’s Paprika.

Wonder Egg Priority’s premiere offers an unexpectedly trippy ride for about three-quarters of its runtime — a character emerges from an egg, an escalator leads to an unknown realm, and a sculpture seemingly sheds tears. The episode somehow offers drama, psychological horror, surreal fantasy, and even an action-adventure moment without feeling like a tonal mess. Visually, the storyboarding, animation, and crisp-looking characters, often shown in close-ups, made me wish I could enjoy the show on the big screen. The premiere isn’t a case of pure perfection, as the compellingly story-boarded opening minutes feeling a little rough due to the vagueness of the premise. But as a whole, it offers a unique and memorable experience that shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m eagerly waiting to see what comes next. 

By: @Melvyn

That is all for AniBitez: Winter 2021 Part 1! Check out the Anibitez: Winter 2021 Part 2 here!

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