Spring is when the cherry blossoms bloom, and with its arrival comes the blossoming of the Spring 2021 anime! If you’re pondering which anime to check out for this season after a stacked Winter 2021, read through our AniBitez to see if anything catches your fancy!
The Spring 2021 Anibitez will be split into two parts. Check out Part 2 when it is ready!
86 EIGHTY-SIX: The unsung soldiers
In the world of 86 EIGHTY-SIX, the Republic of San Magnolia and the Empire of Giad war against one another with unmanned drones. The truth, however, is that the former’s drones are piloted by people from the secret 86th district. These pilots are not recognized as people by the Republic’s military, save for the young and compassionate Major Vladilena “Lena” Mirizé. One day, Lena is reassigned from her current squadron to be the Handler of the infamous Spearhead squadron, which has caused its previous Handlers to retire, be reassigned, or even commit suicide.
I’m not familiar with the light novels that 86 EIGHTY-SIX is based on, but the themes of ethics, humanity, and discrimination, while not novel, make this adaptation a potentially strong title. As of this premiere, however, I’m not completely smitten yet. The reasons for the 86’s treatment and the Spearhead’s high Handler turnover rate remain unanswered questions (although the difference in hair colour between the 86ers and the rest of the Republic provides a big hint for the former), and I would’ve appreciated having more context to chew on. Having said that, the episode does well in establishing the disdain that the 86 and the Republic have for each other, notably with Lena receiving cold and mocking responses from her initial squadron despite her genuine kindness.
Combined with good production values, Lena’s likability, and the well-established camaraderie of the Spearhead squadron’s members, this premiere provides a solid impression, but I hope that the show can go beyond that.
After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway: My roommate is a high school girl!
After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway follows Yoshida, a disgruntled office worker who summons enough courage to ask out a coworker he’s been crushing on for five years. Unfortunately, his confession was rejected, so he proceeds to drown his sorrow in liquor. That same night, he finds a runaway high school girl named Sayu Ogiwara. To get a place to sleep for the night, Sayu attempts to seduce Yoshida, but her advances are promptly rejected. However, Yoshida still agrees to grant her shelter in return for doing all his housework.
Going by the first episode, we know Yoshida is somewhat impulsive but has strict morals and principles he adheres to, but the bar is, admittedly, pretty low for not having sexual relations with a teenager, the anime clarifies that he isn’t one who would, which is good, I guess? Sayu, on the other hand, is a cheerful and vibrant girl despite her circumstances but also has misguided ideals seen with her incessant need to repay favors with her body.
While watching the episode, I couldn’t help but notice how much effort was put into the overall production. For one, the voice actors did an excellent job of replicating each of the characters’ personalities and demeanor quite well in the anime, and its production quality further enhanced the viewing experience. The animation is fluid, the visuals are crisp and vibrant, and the character designs are pretty accurate to the manga. Overall, while the anime plays around with a dangerous subject matter, the first episode still succeeded in meeting my expectations.
Blue Reflection Ray: I’ll just wait for the soundtrack release
Image source: Blue Reflection Ray official Twitter
Blue Reflection Ray has two scenes that I love. One of them involves a sad but beautiful piano melody backed by strings, while the other features the rousing orchestral piece used in the first half of the anime’s trailer. Both pieces are worthy of a JRPG — which is apt, considering that the anime is based on one.
Aside from the music, there’s little else that’s positively noteworthy about this magical girl show, save for some supernatural scenes that involve the anime’s urban setting becoming overlaid by various colors and designs, as if they had transformed into a literal work of art. Outside of those scenes, as well as one satisfying second of a character spinning her sword, the only visual aspect that stands out is the sense that the character models seem off.
As for the premise, the only thing I understood was that two mysterious girls are sucking energy out of troubled girls. The main characters are easier to comprehend: long-haired transfer student Ruka Hanari is awkward and quiet, while her short-haired roommate, Hiori Hirahara, is energetic and eager to help others but has a tragic past involving her older sister. Unfortunately, the show struggles to establish Ruka’s social awkwardness well, with a couple of moments leaving me baffled instead of empathetic. With all these issues, Blue Reflection Ray’s premiere offers little incentive to stick with the show.
Combatants Will Be Dispatched!: Like KonoSuba but not as good
Combatants Will Be Dispatched! is a comedy anime based on the light novel series by Natsume Akatsuki, who also notably created the popular comedy series KonoSuba. The anime follows Combat Agent Six, a member of the Kisaragi Corporation — an evil megacorporation hellbent on world domination. This corporation also seeks dominion over other planets and, to do that, its leaders send Agent Six (after a quick dice roll) and his new AI partner Alice to conquer the nearest habitable planet.
Natsume’s sense of humor comes across quite well during the first episode, as the characters (Agent Six in particular) act exactly how a typical character in KonoSuba does. The episode’s format is also quite similar. Upon landing on the strange planet, Agent Six and Alice are immediately welcomed by bloodthirsty monsters. Instead of working together to resolve their issue, the two immediately get into an argument until one of them has their way.
The anime also does a good job of explaining its core concepts and plot points in one episode in a simple and straightforward way. Production-wise, the anime is pretty standard in terms of quality. The animation is fluid, and the visuals are crisp. While the character designs are quite simplistic, their facial expressions are funny and well-detailed.
All in all, the first episode of Combatants Will Be Dispatched! was okay. It’s hard not to compare it with KonoSuba as it follows its comedic formula to a T, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro: Takagi-san but in hardcore mode
There are only two types of people who watch Nagatoro. Those who like it or are intrigued by it, and those who despise it and won’t watch it again after the first episode. The anime follows the same formula as its predecessors, Teasing Master Takagi-san Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out, but the similarities end there. In short, Nagatoro will make you feel uncomfortable. If she doesn’t, then good for you, but not all of us are as thick-skinned. It isn’t easy to watch a one-sided teasing frenzy without feeling bad for the main character. But I have to say, the production on this show is surprisingly good in addition to Sumire Uesaka and Daiki Yamashita’s performances for bringing the characters to life.
Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro is a romantic comedy that follows first-year high school student Hayase Nagatoro as she bullies her socially-awkward senpai, Naoto Hachiouji. And yes, you read that correctly. It is a rom-com anime! Honestly, I don’t see any obvious hints of affection, but I am intrigued as to how it’ll develop into a more romantic one. On the surface, there is no way you can see their relationship be anything other than “Nagatoro just bullying her senpai until he cries.” Yet, she doesn’t join in with her friends in the bullying and stops when she goes too far. These are the small details that give me a glimmer of hope and with that, I shall look forward to each episode from now on.
Farewell, My Dear Cramer: Underwhelming animation can’t stop these girls from shining
Nozomi Onda is a talented soccer player who has been playing with a boys’ team. While practicing on a dark, snowy day, she tells her coach that she plans to do the same in high school. However, the coach tells Nozomi that instead of wasting her talents in an ill-matched environment with a large physical disparity, she ought to play in women’s soccer. If the women’s team feels underskilled to her, then Nozomi should prop them up. Make women’s soccer popular again, he tells her, because he believes that she can.
It’s a compelling introduction to Nozomi, who is also the protagonist of Farewell, My Dear Cramer’s (both the manga and this adaptation) prequel, but it turns out that she isn’t the only main character here. Sumire Suou and Midori Soshizaki, two rivals from different middle schools, are the other leads. They become teammates in high school, a situation which is all-the-more delightful because it happens not by coincidence, but because Midori reached out to Sumire and wanted to become her teammate.
Despite my disinterest in soccer, Cramer‘s likable main characters meant that I was greatly invested, even if the premiere’s switch in focus from Nozomi to the other two, followed by Nozomi’s reappearance later on, makes the initial experience a bit confusing. The characters’ strength is such that I can also overlook the below-average animation, although the sizable number of animation directors (generally not a good sign) involved with the show’s current two episodes on top of the production quality has me concerned about the behind-the-scenes situation.
JORAN: The Princess of Snow and Blood: A political intrigue that gives you the chills
JORAN: The Princess of Snow and Blood is an original anime featuring Sawa Yukimura, who runs a used bookstore and lives with a young girl named Asahi. Sawa is also an executioner for the Nue, a secret government organization that roots out dissidents and people against the Tokugawa, who have continued to rule an alternate Japan.
Sawa, whose real name is Sawa Karasumori, definitely has more to her than meets the eye. She isn’t one without emotion, but is a capable and cold fighter. That is what Nue needs though, because this anime’s most chilling moments are when people are killed in cold blood without a single hint of emotion. The ink-brush combined with digital animation techniques feed well into that dark and heavy atmosphere of killing within JORAN, especially when Sawa is often surrounded by the cold and blue winter. Perhaps what unsettled me the most is how this is a cardinal rule: Don’t trust anyone. Not your friends, not your colleagues, and not even your adopted or blood family. I do want to commend the production committee for putting thought into the cast, by finding voice actors fluent in English for the anime’s English lines.
Because of how chilling and dark JORAN is, it’s definitely not for everyone. It weighs heavy on your soul, but if you can live with it, it’s a good one to look out for even though I’m left wondering how JORAN can wrap up nicely within a single season.
Megalo Box 2: Nomad: Joe’s back and sadder than ever
Megalo Box is back after three years to continue the story of our fearless and gearless protagonist Joe. The first season showed fans Joe’s rise from being an underground fighter known as “Junk Dog” to the Megalonia champion known as “Gearless Joe.” This season, however, takes an unexpected and depressing turn to show our champion’s fall from grace. It’s been seven years since the last season, and things have changed drastically — Joe has been through a lot. He has abandoned his name and legacy to move from one ring to the next, fighting anyone he can under his new and more fitting moniker: “Nomad.”
Still, Joe’s fighting prowess hasn’t reduced much since we last saw him. He’s as swift and agile as ever and hits like a truck, as proven when Joe meets a promising opponent nicknamed “Chief” who, just like Joe, was previously a legitimate Megalo boxer. Watching the two fight was quite satisfying, reminiscent of the incredible matches seen in the first season which had steller direction and did a good job of making you feel as if each match was a grand event.
The episode also showcased the anime’s incredible soundtrack that’s just as good, if not better, than the first season and matches each fight incredibly well. The animation, on the other hand, has stayed exactly the same as the previous season.
Overall, the first episode of Megalo Box 2: Nomad was both interesting and entertaining once you set aside its depressing themes.
SSSS.DYNAZENON: Let’SSSS go!
Image source: SSSS Project official Twitter
As the follow-up to 2018’s excellent SSSS.GRIDMAN, SSSS.DYNAZENON (the “SSSS” stands for “Scarred Souls Shine like Stars” this time) has big shoes to fill. The good news is that the show is pretty good so far, although had I based this AniBitez on the premiere alone, there would also be a sizable “but” as a caveat.
DYNAZENON’s premise involves high schooler Yomogi Asanaka saving the life of a self-proclaimed kaiju user called Gauma, which eventually leads to them and several others battling a kaiju inside a robot. It later turns out that these kaiju are being controlled by another group of kaiju users called the Kaiju Eugenicists, who have some history with Gauma.
Like its predecessor, DYNAZENON has eye-catching character designs, good visuals and animation, and compelling conversational flow and storyboards. However, the show is also a notably more straightforward experience, as it doesn’t share GRIDMAN’s focus on mystery or a complicated villain. Instead, DYNAZENON places a greater emphasis on its protagonists, especially troubled female lead Yume Minami. It makes sense for DYNAZENON to not retread old ground, but while I liked the heavier ground-level focus and found myself intrigued by Yume, the lack of buildup for the kaiju battle in DYNAZENON’s premiere made the sci-fi aspect feel disconnected at first. Luckily, the second episode does a better job of interweaving the sci-fi elements and the non-action scenes while maintaining the show’s different direction. DYNAZENON still feels less impactful than its predecessor at the moment, but I’m enjoying it just as much.
Super Cub: A lovely, relaxing ride
Based on the light novel series of the same name, Super Cub is about a lonely and aimless girl who discovers joy when she comes across a second-hand Honda Super Cub. Aside from the anime’s key visual indicating that she will cross paths with two other similar-aged motorcycle enthusiasts later on, that’s all there is to the show’s premise.
As a leisurely paced slice-of-life anime, Super Cub, judging from its premiere, may bore those who need a plot or a more eventful experience. I’m usually one of those people, but instead of yawning from Super Cub’s premiere, I found myself busy taking screenshots or getting drawn into the anime’s world. Protagonist Koguma has a cute design with an interesting sense of texture, but the show also has another star in the form of its world. The backgrounds are lovely, detailed, and have a washed-out palette that, while more exaggerated than reality, imbues them with a sense of calm and grounded realness. The dull color palette also serves to reflect Koguma’s emotional state and makes the brief moments where she sees color in her world feel like the special moments they are meant to be. Visuals aside, the sound design is praiseworthy and is another key component to the anime’s sense of immersion.
Super Cub’s strong visuals are slightly marred by some instances of stiff 3DCG riding animation, but it’s not severe enough of a problem to ruin the experience. Plus, there’s a scene in which “Clair de Lune” plays, so all is forgiven.
The Saintʼs Magic Power is Omnipotent: That Time I was Summoned as a Saint but I Became a Researcher Instead
Source: Muse Asia
The Saintʼs Magic Power is Omnipotent is based on the light novel series of the same name, where office worker Sei is summoned to another world’s kingdom to be a “Saint” to save the kingdom in times of need. However, the ritual summoned another girl as well, who is acknowledged as the “Saint” instead. Sei doesn’t mind, and, to her joy, she starts learning about healing potions at the Institute as a researcher instead.
Call me biased, but I’m already in love with the anime. Sei isn’t someone who grumbles about not having a love interest right off; she grumbles about being bored. I love how she wants to be independent despite the fact that she could have relied on the kingdom for her daily needs, she instead practices how to make potions, day in and day out. She breathes and chews on knowledge as if it were air and food. The most admirable part of her is how she takes action to save her dying patient when everyone else is standing around, helpless and unsure. The episode’s pace is a bit jarring however because of how time is fast-forwarded via obvious signposting, but I suppose the anime wants to get to the meat sooner than later.
While my judgment may be a little early, I’m looking forward to how she forges her way in the new world, and, hopefully, she stays out of “Sainthood” for a long while.
That is all for AniBitez: Spring 2021 Part 1! Check out Part 2 here!