Anime We Can't Wait to See in 2021

From the upcoming 'Neon Genesis Evangelion' and 'Demon Slayer' movies to a bunch of excellent-looking series.

Evangelion 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time, asuka with eyepatch
'Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time' | Toho
'Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time' | Toho

This year has already given us plenty of exciting new anime to work with, like the genre-upending Wonder Egg Priority, the incredible and absurd Sk∞ (aka Skate the Infinity), and the back half of Season 1 of everyone's new anti-shonen favorite Jujutsu Kaisen. Even so, there's so much on the horizon, TV and movie-wise, that it can be a job itself to take in and keep up with it all. Instead of combing anime wikis, leave the heavy lifting to us: We'll be regularly updating this story with the new anime we can't wait to see in 2021. Though some of the year's most anticipated releases, like Adult Swim's beautiful-looking Uzumaki limited series and Netflix's Spriggan adaptation, have been pushed back to 2022, there's no time to be disappointed with such a bright calendar ahead.

Also recommended: The Best Anime of 2021 and The Best Anime of 2020

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S (Available July 7, Crunchyroll)

The return of Kyoto Animation’s vibrant anime adaptation of the fantasy comedy Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid—about an office worker who finds herself living with a dragon named Tohru after helping her on a drunken night out—is greatly anticipated, though its arrival is bittersweet. The second season’s status was left unknown for a time after original director Yasuhiro Takemoto was killed in the 2019 arson attack on the studio. Takemoto will be credited as director, though Tatsuya Ishihara, director of the excellent Nichijou, has taken up the reins of the series.—Kambole Campbell

Sonny Boy (Available July 16, Hulu & Funimation

From Shingo Natsume, the director of the storied first season of One Punch Man, comes the original anime Sonny Boy, a sci-fi survival series about a group of middle-school students transported to another dimension. Reunited with MADHOUSE studio on animation production, the show will be written and directed by Natsume, with character designs from Hisashi Eguchi, who did the same for the legendary Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue. The crew is crammed with talent, and the result already looks to be completely wild.—KC

Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (Available July 22, Netflix)

An adorable coming-of-age love story set over one summer, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop pushes two socially awkward teens, Cherry and Smile, into a meet-cute over haikus. The animation is delightful and bright, reminiscent of Masaaki Yuasa's trippy perspective and sketchy line play, with a screenplay by Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Wolf’s Rain), score by Kensuke Ushio (Devilman Crybaby, Space Dandy, A Silent Voice), and directed by Kyouhei Ishiguro (Your Lie in April). Altogether, it's this summer's sweet romance, following films like Your Name., Weathering With You, and Ride Your Wave.—Leanne Butkovic

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (Available August 8, Netflix)

It's been a long wait since December 2019 for more Witcher content, and 2021 is loading up for the one-two punch of a prequel anime film in August and Season 2 of the Henry Cavill-starring series in December. Animated by South Korea's Studio Mir (The Legend of Korra), Nightmare of the Wolf follows Geralt's similarly constituted no-fucks-given Witcher mentor and bath taker Vesemir who abandons his crappy life as a nobleman's foot servant to go and—classic!—find his destiny on the Continent.—LB

Shaman King (Available August 9, Netflix)

A big shonen battle manga written by Hiroyuki Takei, Shaman King had already been animated back in 2001, but Netflix has acquired the rights to this reboot from Bridge (Fairy Tail) that aired in Japan in the spring. Come August, watch along as Yoh Asakura (once again) dukes it out for shaman supremacy during the once-every-500-years Shaman Fight for the ability to contact the Great Spirit in order to shape the world in whichever way he pleases.—LB

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (Available August 13, Amazon Prime)

For the last time: Get in the fucking robot, Shinji. The long-awaited conclusion to Hideaki Anno's revisitation of his groundbreaking Neon Genesis Evangelion is finally coming to the US this year (it was released in Japan on March 8), surprisingly making its streaming debut on Amazon Prime. It will pick up where Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo left off, revisiting the final battle between humanity and angels, after previously being delayed three times: twice because of COVID, and another because of Anno's involvement in 2016's Shin Godzilla.—Emma Stefansky

Fena: Pirate Princess (Available August 14, Adult Swim & Crunchyroll)

Living for the past 10 years on the remote island she washed up on, Fena is an orphan in the 18th century British Empire and about to be married off, until confidantes of her mysterious father come and pull her out, revealing her true nature. Basically, Fena's gonna be a pirate warrior. From director Kazuto Nazakawa (Samurai Champloo, Terror in Resonance, B The Beginning) and Production I.G., this Adult Swim x Crunchyroll team-up seems like a lot of swashbuckling fun.—LB

Blue Period (Available October 21)

Originally a manga by Tsubasa Yamaguchi, Blue Period follows high schooler Yatora Yaguchi as he becomes deeply involved in the world of art, hoping to gain admission to the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts. Seven Arcs will be producing the animation, with Koji Masunari and Katsuya directing, and Reiko Yoshida (A Silent Voice, Violet Evergarden) writing.—KC

Komi Can’t Communicate (Available October 21)

Shouko Komi suffers from extreme social anxiety, making her largely unable to talk to others. However, her stoic appearance as a result of that anxiety, is perceived as refinement, making her highly popular while preventing people from actually getting to know her. Seated next to her in class, schoolboy Hitohito Tadano realizes her communication problems and resolves to help her. Based on the manga by Tomohito Oda, Ayumu Watanabe (Children of the Sea, Space Brothers) and Kazuki Kawagoe are set to direct, with Deko Akao (Noragami, Carole & Tuesday) handling series composition.—KC

Lupin III: Part VI (Available October 21) 

Little is known about the setting and story of the latest adventure for Lupin III, but a teaser trailer announced Part VI as a part of the series' 50th anniversary celebration this October. It’s been three years since Part V, which primarily took place in France, with the CG animated movie Lupin III: The First, released in the interim. Somber teaser aside, it’s pretty clear what to expect, seeing as how the Lupin formula still hasn’t gotten old yet.—KC

Chainsaw Man (Available Fall 2021)

The violent and darkly comic hit 2018 manga Chainsaw Man, written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto, is currently set for a highly anticipated adaptation by animation studio MAPPA. Set in a world where Devils, born from human fears, regularly terrorize the population, a young depressed man named Denji attempts to pay back his deceased father's debt to the yakuza by working as a devil hunter. When he fuses with the benevolent chainsaw devil named Pochita, Denji becomes a human-devil hybrid named Chainsaw Man, working for the government to kill devils in order to keep himself from being hunted, and impress his crush. The first look at the series gives us a good feeling that this adaptation will be inspired.—KC

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Season 2 (Available Fall 2021)

After smashing multiple Japanese box office records—toppling the likes of both Spirited Away and Your Name.—the film sequel to the immensely popular Demon Slayer series finally landed in the West earlier this year, making a considerable mark stateside. Luckily, we won't have to wait long to see what happens to Tanjiro, Nezuko, and the rest of the Demon Slayer Corps. after the movie's devastating end: A Season 2, covering the manga's Entertainment District Arc, was confirmed in early 2021. We're guessing we'll see it during the Fall 2021 season.—LB

Belle (Available TBA)

The excellent Mamoru Hosoda (the Oscar-nominated Mirai) seems to have a created a gorgeous new world, along with Wolfwalkers directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart and actual architect Eric Wong, for his new film, Belle, about Suzu, a timid 17-year-old in real life and the beloved pop star Belle in the virtual landscape of U. There, she encounters the Beast, a creature of unknown origin whom she befriends, though other users think of him as dangerous to U's ecosystem. Belle recently premiered in Japan and is expected to hit theaters in the US in time to qualify for the next Academy Awards.—LB

Bleach: Thousand Year War Arc (Available Fall 2021) 

Bleach, one of manga's Big Three along with One Piece and Naruto, had a marathon anime run, kicking off in 2004 with plenty of exciting early seasons and ending with an absolute dud in 2012 (though the manga kept going until 2016). Now, Bleach has a chance to redeem itself: It's coming back in series form for one more arc, the Thousand Year War. With very little announced aside from that it's supposedly premiering this fall, we're cautiously optimistic for the return of Ichigo and his big, big sword.—LB

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (Available TBA)

Already premiered in Japan and at the Annecy Film Festival, the next feature film from Ayumu Watanabe looks to be a bit less surreal than his frequently astounding Children of the Sea. Based on a 2011 novel of the same name by Kanako Nishi, the film centers on the daily lives of Kikuko and her mother Nikuko, who live in a houseboat in a small fishing town to which they just moved after Nikuko’s most recent heartbreak. Working with some of the same team as on Children of the Sea, with Kenichi Konishi resuming character design and animation direction and Shinji Kimura on art direction, this is set to be more low-key, but just as visually impressive.—KC

Mob Psycho 100 III (Available TBA)

We're going out on a limb here, backed by evidence of a single tweet from the official Mob Twitter account, to estimate that Season 3 of this incredible series about a boy with powerful telekinesis (that's Mob) and his mentor/sheisty small business guru Reigen will be back by the end of 2021. If we could be so lucky!—LB

My Hero Academia The Movie: World Heroes Mission (Available TBA)

The latest feature-length My Hero Academia spinoff adventure takes the young superheroes worldwide, as a group called Humanize seeks to “cleanse the world” of people with powers by killing them (so, almost everybody). Battling everywhere from France, Egypt and the United States to Singapore and Malaysia, Izuku Midoriya, Shoto Todoroki, Kasuki Bakugo, and the rest of Class 1A team up with pro heroes from around the globe to stop the coming threat.—KC

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