We all know that 2020 was quite a year, and that’s putting it lightly, but now that 2021 has rolled in like a knight in potential shining armor, we can focus on some of the good things that 2020 brought. I’m talking about anime! Here is your chance at finally catching up on all the anime you might have missed while you were busy waiting for Cyberpunk 2077 to finally come out or Gacha-ing away at Genshin Impact. We hope you enjoy Anime For Humanity’s favorite staff and community picks!
Aggretsuko (Season 3)
For those that aren’t familiar with this musical comedy anime: the premise is about Retsuko, a 25-year-old single red panda. Retsuko is a young adult that is miserable in her accounting job and is struggling to navigate the various relationships in her life due to social anxiety. She takes out her frustrations and discontent by going to karaoke every night and singing death metal. When we asked our community why this anime is a must watch, they responded with how relatable and real the characters are. Watching Retsuko try to deal with the people around her and the circumstances surrounding her life can be an inspiration and motivation to push for change. One member described this season in particular “made me think about how I can take charge of the things in my life rather than let things happen to me or hope things will or won’t happen.” For many people, it can be difficult to maneuver: a work/life balance, a productive work environment, or relationships with healthy boundaries. Throwing social anxiety in the mix is an added challenge. We hope this show can provide the much-needed comedic relief and reinforce the belief that these struggles are just part of the journey, and like most things in life, they can be overcome!
Attack on Titan (Final Season)
This dark fantasy anime needs no introduction, but for the sake of those that haven’t seen it yet (but really really should), we’ll give you a taste of what this show is all about. Attack on Titan is set in a dystopian world where humanity lives in walled cities that are meant to protect them from the threat that resides outside the walls. This threat is posed by large cannibalistic and human-like creatures called Titans. The story follows a boy named Eren Yeager and his friends as they strive to end the plight of the Titans that has plagued humanity for so long. Along the way they experience many twists, turns, and harrowing truths. To save you from spoilers we’ll spare you further details, but trust us on this: if you like excitement, adventure, plot twists, cliff hangers, and that Game of Thrones-esque character lifespan, you’ll love this anime. What made this season stand out and particularly realistic to one member is the concept that “nobody is right and everyone does what they think is best, even if there is no best option.” This is the case for many crossroads that we are faced with in the span of our lives. Often, we are forced to choose between options or make decisions where there is no right answer. The world isn’t black, white, or even gray: it’s a Technicolor array of vivid shades and hues and guess what? That’s ok.
Beastars is a fantasy drama about an anthropomorphic society of animals that are trying to coexist alongside one another. There exists a massive cultural and psychological divide between the two main groups of herbivores and carnivores. The main character, Legoshi, is a 17-year old gray wolf in high school. Legoshi, although tall and fearsome in appearance, is quite timid and quiet in demeanor, really embodying the idiom “looks can be deceiving.” On the other hand, we have another main character, Haru, that is a dainty and delicate looking dwarf rabbit, struggling to have others not treat her as a fragile object. Throughout the anime, we see the various themes of anxiety and insecurity, privilege and societal expectations, and finally good old-fashioned teenage angst and romance. Overall, Beastars is a classic take on the tale: Boy meets Girl, Boy likes Girl, Boy might want to eat Girl? Ok so maybe not so classic.
BNA: Brand New Animal
Seems like 2020 was the year of anthropomorphism in anime and here at AFH, we were a big fan. BNA is a Sci-fi anime about Beastmen (humanoid animals) coming out of hiding and revealing themselves to humankind (I’m sure you can guess how that goes…) The two groups are divided and often hostile towards one another, signifying the overarching themes of discrimination and bigotry. Michiru—the main protagonist of BNA—is a young teenage girl that suddenly starts turning into a tanuki Beastman. Fearing for her life and seeking answers, she runs away to a safe haven for Beastmen, Anima City. There, she encounters Shirou, a wolf Beastman (looks like wolves are also popular this year), and together they set out to unravel the mysteries behind Michiru’s transformation while running into more questions and secrets. What makes this Noir-esque anime a must watch according to one community member is the “beautiful art style, action scenes, and lovable characters, especially the main character, Michiru.”
This short and palatable anime is only 10 relatively short episodes (around 23 min each), making it great for those that don’t want to make a long commitment. Out of the anime on this list, it’s definitely lesser known, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable! Drifting Dragons follows the crew of the Quin Zaza, a dragon-hunting airship. Dragons are plentiful and used for all kinds of trade (and delicious recipes) in this semi-feudalistic world. This zany show is worth the watch because it grapples with interesting characters and the flaws that comprise them in a fun and light way, making the entire series digestible (pun intended). When asking our community to describe the feel of this anime, they answered “this series is one part Steampunk, one part Miyazaki, and one part Melville (Moby Dick).”
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
This was one of the most critically acclaimed anime of 2020 and a must watch! The series is about a girl by the name of Midori Asakusa that loves anime so much she wants to create it. Through inky fingers, tired eyes, and a little luck, she sets out with two others that love anime, Sayaka Kanamori and Tsubame Mizusaki, to create a club for anime making called Eizouken. The three girls all have strengths and skills that contrast and compliment each other, making them the perfect partners to make their dream flourish into a reality. The beauty of this anime and what made it resonate with our community members is that “It captures that teenage exuberance and wonder in art and creation that we often lose in the minutiae of daily adult life, the value of different ideas and perspectives on a single common goal, and it doesn’t shy away from showing the struggles of the process while still building towards that euphoria of seeing the goal achieved.” There’s a dreamer in all of us, lying in wait as a dormant spark, or blazing alight in a feverous glory. No matter what life throws at us, those dreams have a way of making themselves known. While some would argue “knowing” is power, the girls of Eizouken, would tell you the real power is in the “doing.”
Now that you have some great suggestions for anime, get to watching! We know that it suddenly being 2021 is by no means an end-all cure-all for the loneliness, woe, isolation, and tragedy that comprised, at least to some extent, much of 2020. Many of us felt disjointed, displaced, distant, and in disarray. It felt like we lost so much and gained so little. That may be true to some extent, but hopefully, this experience has made it easier to appreciate the good that DOES exist and grasp at the light that does shine through the fog. I don’t think we’ll be taking the little things like eating out, spending time with friends and family, or simply going for an unencumbered stroll for granted again. With 2021 here, we can look back to all the struggles we’ve overcome, all the challenges we’ve survived, and all the problems we’ve persevered through. Now, it’s time to look to the future. A future filled with hope. A future filled with promise. A future filled with goals and dreams. A future brimming with love.
Author: Eleeka Zolfaghari