Welcome, welcome, to the Sping 2021 Anime Awards, where I, Jacob, Friendly Overlord, Ov, whatever you call me, is your host. I won’t lie, this post went through a few different takes before I arrived at this, but I think it’s the best I can do.
As some of you might know, this was my first season actively keeping up with anime in a while. I used to a few years ago, but then I fell away from anime and never got back into the swing of things. The blog now gives me an excuse to do just that. Now I can watch anime for long periods of time and call it “work.” It’s quite a good perk, really.
So, how do these awards work? Well, it’s where I’ll give out completely legit awards, completely backed by professional opinions (my own) to anime series that did certain things this season. Whether those things are good or bad, we accept all anime on the Side Of Fiction Anime Awards, alright? And these may be mostly the series I’ve watched. Unfortunately, I’m human, and we need sleep, food, and money, so I can’t watch every anime. Sad really. I will throw some other things in there too, though.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
What? Are you surprised we have normal categories here? I can’t come up with all of them, and this whole post isn’t just satire; I’ll have you know. I take this somewhat seriously. This was probably one of the hardest picks—lots of good boys this season. Yoshida from Higehiro was very close, so was Shin from 86. Both best boy contenders, but for reasons you’ll see for the next award, I decided to give it to Iruma. Fushi was close, but he’s not exactly a “he.” If I had a best orb award, Fushi would get it.
Firstly, Iruma Goes to Demon School is just a really good series. Has a great season 2. Fun to watch, charming, breaks out into song, the whole deal, but that alone won’t grant you best boy. Iruma is a pretty solid best boy already. He’s super kind, has a somewhat tragic backstory, funny, has good reactions, looks great in a dress, all the points your best boy needs.
But what really upped Iruma this season was the few episodes he hit his evil cycle. For a short wonderful time, the adorable Iruma went full-on bad boy, and it was great. Not only was it a good change of pace, but it also showed us what Iruma could be like if he had confidence and learned to stop being so passive.
But above everything, I loved how regardless of his evil cycle, Iruma was still Iruma. He still helped everyone who needed it, and the entire reason he did anything in that arc was to help his friends. If that isn’t best boy material, well, I really don’t know what is. I award thee!
There was really only one pick here, wasn’t there? I wouldn’t be surprised if Sayu sweeps the best girl of the year, really. She has a bit of everything. First of all, just look at that smile. She’s absolutely precious, and I’m reminded daily that people would kill to protect her. A little aggressive, but fair enough.
But the only reason people feel so strongly is because of how well-written she is. Higehiro, despite a few hiccups, has a very good plot, and Sayu is at the center of all of it. What looks like it could be a bit of an iffy “hold on, Japan” anime is actually a very mature story about a girl who learns to value the self-worth she had forgotten after months of being on the street.
It’s an incredibly wholesome anime that will restore your faith in humanity, and that’s all because of Sayu. I mean, Yoshida too, but I don’t want best boy and girl to be from the same series, and Sayu definitely beats him. Even the age gap aspect is handled pretty well. Seeing Sayu grow and realize how precious she herself is, is a big reason why people like her. Just looking at her makes you happy, and for that reason, I grant thee best girl.
I love anime, you love anime, but we all know anime is weird. This is an award for when that weirdness doesn’t pay off, and there’s only one series I can think of that’s deserving, and that’s Koikimo.
I am not here to tell you whether this series is good or not. Truth is, I haven’t seen all of it. But what I can tell you is that the whole plot revolves around an older man who constantly harasses a minor in order to earn her love, even though she repeatedly calls him creepy and makes it very clear that she isn’t attracted to him.
Higehiro almost went down this route, but Koikimo decided to turn it up to 11. This is an example of an anime that makes some people think the entire medium is creepy, so I grant the insufferable blonde guy and his series this award!
86 snuck up on this one, but it just barely got beat out by Vivy. To Your Eternity was so close too, as I’m a sucker for plots about humanity, but I couldn’t do it over Vivy. Vivy is about an idol AI that lives through 100 years in order to prevent AI and humans from coexisting because if they do, a war will break out, resulting in the death of humanity. Doesn’t that sound fun?
To prevent humans and AI from loving each other, Vivy rewrites certain parts of history. She stops bills from getting passed, prevents AI from committing suicide so humanity doesn’t think they have souls. It’s not the most unique story in the world, but plots about sentient AI always get the gears in my mind turning. I just love thinking about it.
And Vivy handles it in a really cool way. Usually, the issue is with AI being accepted as human. Vivy flips this by making AI already on equal footing, but that’s the event that causes human extinction, not the lack of coexistence. So it becomes a story about an AI that actively tries to prevent her kin from being treated equally. Add that in with time travel, and you have an incredibly fascinating plot. I grant thee to Vivy.
I had very high hopes for this series. I thought I would finally see a cute Rom-Com where the childhood friend actually wins. But Osamake here decided that that wouldn’t happen. You see, I wasn’t specific enough about wanting a childhood friend to win. Osamake pulls a switcheroo and makes every love interest a childhood friend.
While I can’t say the anime is lying, it sure pulled a fast one on all of us. But really, I’m not even mad. It got my attention. What I didn’t really like was the series itself. It’s weird. It’s a bunch of convoluted events that are tied together with unlikeable characters. The best person in the show is actually the male lead, Sueharu, but most of the girls suck so bad, you’ll just wish he ends up alone.
Really, the anime isn’t that bad. It’s just weird, and I like to joke about it a lot for shattering my dreams. But the fact remains that it’s just ok, and for a series I had a lot of high hopes for, it really did disappoint me. I sadly award thee!
It was between 86 and Vivy for this one, and as much as I’d love to give it to my robo-idol girl (I almost did), I have to give this one to 86. I feel like Vivy has a better and more imaginative story than 86, but only slightly. What tipped 86 over was that I felt it did a better job than Vivy overall. Just a bit.
86 hits every note right. It feels like it knew what it wanted to do better and really drove the point home. They took the concept of racism, took it to a very extreme example, decided we needed killer bug robots, and made a fantastical character-driven story I won’t forget anytime soon.
It’s action-packed, it’s an emotional rollercoaster, it has phenomenal characters, it will have you on bated breath, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. It comes in, does what it wants to do well, and leaves. Until season 2, that is. Which I look forward to. I award thee!
This was a tricky one to think about. I could have given it to Vivy. Higehiro was real close since both leads were contenders for best boy and girl. But, I think if we’re to go based on all characters in a series, and not just one or two, then I have to give it to 86 yet again. This anime uses its characters incredibly well. That’s the entire point of the series.
86 aren’t considered people, so when they die, they aren’t counted as casualties—a war without loss. The character’s lives are the entire driving point for the show’s story. And loads of those characters die, let me tell you. It’s not a spoiler because it just happens a lot. Take your pick at who will live, really. There’s some who say those death don’t have enough impact, but that’s the whole point. 86 aren’t people, right?
Really, the characters as a whole are great. They are work wonderfully, all have complex emotions, and make the story as a whole. As for the leads, they’re all good. Shin was almost best boy. Come the next season, he may be. Lena would have been best girl in a season without Sayu. She is a literal angel. She’s a good person in a society of racist sociopaths, and seeing her grow to realize her own bits of unconscious racism as she grows along with the 86 is incredible. 86 just nailed this department. I award thee!
I’m not one to jump on the Sayu and Yoshida boat. I don’t think they should be a couple. It goes against the moral of the story. Shin and Lena are great, but they’re technically a ship as of now. Osamake, every character except for the little sister jack of trades girl sucked, so that really only leaves me with one possibility, but it’s a good one either way.
Nagatoro and Senpai are incredibly cute. Ok, they aren’t a thing yet but come on. They will be. For all the bullying and all the uncomfortable moments the series has towards the beginning, these two are actually a great couple, and I think that’s what people miss. I talked about it a bit here, but shameless plug aside, the two help each other out a lot.
Nagatoro is good at heart, she just enjoying teasing and doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings, so she often comes on too strong. Senpai is far too passive and acts like a doormat to everyone, but is also a kind, gentle person. Through their relationship, Nagatoro learns how to understand herself better and become a more gentle person. Likewise, Senpai learns to stand up for what he believes in. They both are exact opposites but have enough in common that they don’t kill each other. They help each other grow and become better. If that’s not a great couple, I don’t know what else is. I award thee! And I never said “healthiest couple,” ok?
While I can’t speak to anything that may or may not happen later in the story, Lena and Shin are nothing but a ship now. There is little to no romance between them, and the two have never even seen each other face to face. They’ve only talked. That in and of itself is, I think, really cool for their shipping potential, but honestly, they’d just make a great couple.
They’ve both already helped and relied on each other at multiple points throughout the story. Lena with helping Shin face his past and keeping him safe, and Shin giving a surprising amount of emotional support to her. There’s certainly something to grab onto in terms of their romance, and they both seem good for each other.
But beyond all that, I just love what they would stand for. Their entire relationship would be blasphemous to the Republic, and Lena would disrespect her entire people, but I don’t see the problem. She should. For a story about a bunch of racists, I can’t think of any better couple than one that bridges that gap and accept each other for who they are. For the wonderful people they’ve grown into regardless of where they come from. I think Shin and Lena would grow a lot together and be a bit of a symbol of hope in 86’s wartorn story. For that, I award thee!
Now there wasn’t too much competition here. Zombie Land Revenge’s opening, “O Saga, Cry With Me!” is a certified bop 9 out of 10 experts agree. Much like the first season, this opening has very little to do with the actual series. None of our zombie idols ever fly through the sky in fighter jets, sadly.
But that doesn’t stop it from having not only having great, smooth visuals, but like many songs from the series, it won’t get out of your head anytime soon. It’s great. Go listen to it. For an anime all about idols, it better have good music, or else it would be failing a pretty important area. I award thee! And if this didn’t exist and wasn’t so perfect, To Your Eternity would have grabbed it up. It was right there. Amazingly, Koikimo’s OP slaps as well.
I was pretty close to giving this one to Iruma as well. It has a great and very thematic ending. SSSS.Dynazenon would have gotten it if the visuals were a bit more interesting. Like 15 seconds of it is looking at a washing machine, for god’s sake. But the best of everything was Shadow House’s “Nai Nai.”
This is one of those times that I’ll tell you to just go watch it. The music isn’t only fitting and super catchy. It is timed absolutely perfectly with the visuals. It one of those rare examples where the visuals aren’t just there. They’re made for the song. You just don’t get endings like this often, and for that, I award thee! I’m also just a sucker for the style of the art too.
To Your Eternity is grabbing this one. Probably would have expected it to have more by now, huh? Truth is, it was close, but of all the anime I know of this season, To Your Eternity has by far the best music. Even more than Zombie Land Saga Revenge, which is all about music. And zombies. This kind of has a zombie too, huh?
The first episode uses music wonderfully, and I expected that to be its peak, but the truth is, I still don’t think it reached it yet. The entire series has fantastic music that only helps the wonderful atmosphere of the entire story. It’s one of those rare anime series where the music pops out at me instead of fading to the background. And as I said, the opening was really close to winning another award. I award thee for thy effort!
Best First Episode!
To those of you paying any attention around the start of this season, this pick won’t be a surprise. Vivy has a decent first episode. I would actually say Nagatoro does too. 86 as well. Higehiro is good at setting its story. However, there’s one that stands above the lot.
I’m not overstating it when I say you could make an entire anime film just based on the first episode of To Your Eternity. It has wonderful music. It has great atmosphere. It has intrigue. It has good world-building. It has good characters. It brings out emotions. It’s hard for any series to make people cry, let alone for one episode to do it to so many.
In the coming seasons, I think this category could be a little tricky, but for this season, there’s absolutely no contest. To Your Eternity steps up and grabs this nonexistent award like it owns the place. That’s because it does. This particular place, at least. I award thee!
This is one award that I didn’t actually consider any of the big three for. To Your Eternity hasn’t ended yet, 86 does have a great ending, but not perfect, and Vivy’s finale is just alright. One series that actually had a surprisingly good ending was Nagatoro.
For a series about a young girl mercilessly bullying her senpai, you wouldn’t expect a masterclass of storytelling, and really that’s true. Nagatoro has fantastic character development, but as far as many of the actual arcs, they’re pretty hit or miss. There are some great ones, and there are some that feel like they drag a bit. That’s why the finale’s so good.
Not only does it keep the decent, fairly perverted sense of humor the series has, this is probably the biggest arc for Nagatoro and Senpai’s character development. Senpai gets a chance to face his past by duking it out in an art battle with Ms. Pres, making him a better artist, but also helping him realize his true feelings about Nagatoro: that he really wants to draw her.
This leads to an amazingly sweet episode that ends with a moment I think we’ve all been waiting for in the final seconds. The finale is Nagatoro in a nutshell. It’s perverted, it’s funny, it has a lot of character development, and is it sweet as hell. I award thee!
This is hard because I didn’t think any anime I watched was really awful, so I’ll do a joke pick instead. My real answer would probably be Osamake, but even that’s not bad. Anyway, I do want to take a special moment here to talk about the loser of this season, according to My Anime List, at least, Hyper Positive Yogoremon.
Do you think, uh, Otarou cares what people think? Do you he, or whatever a Yogoremon is, cares that the series has no ratings? Do you think Otarou cares that nobody has written any reviews or seems interested at all? No, Otarou doesn’t because Otarou is Hyper Positive.
So of everything you could take from this season, I want you to remember that. Not that you shouldn’t bully the people you love, and not that you shouldn’t be a racist. Not that you shouldn’t let underaged runaways into your home, and not that you shouldn’t chase after a minor’s love even if you creep them out. You need to remember to stay positive, just like Otarou. We could all use a little of that. Ok, joke done. Let’s talk about the best anime this season.
Iruma-kun Goes to Demon School: 1
Koikimo : 1
Osamake : 1
Positive Boi: 1
Shadow House: 1
Zombie Land Saga Revenge: 1
To Your Eternity: 2
Best Anime of Spring 2021!
Realistically, there were three possible picks: Vivy, To Your Eternity, and 86. I doubt that’s a surprise. It’s also probably not that big of a surprise when you see the standings. While it isn’t always going to be like this, for Spring 2021, the anime with the most awards is also taking home the biggest prize.
I liked Vivy, but I think it’s the worst of the big three this season. Honestly, if To Your Eternity was done airing, I would probably have given it best anime. It’s baffling how consistently good it is. As long as it remains great and the ending is good, I really see it being anime of the year, no contest. But, based on what was started and completed this season, 86 takes it.
At this point, I would just be repeating myself as to why 86 is so good, and I don’t want that. This post has already gone on too long. What I will do is a review for 86, however. To sum it up, though, 86 is short, sweet, to the point, hits every note right, and has great characters wrapped in a great story. Absolutely go watch it. That, To Your Eternity and Vivy. All of them are great. I award thee the highest honor!
Until Next Season!
And that wraps up the award show. We’re all done here for about, what, 14 weeks or so? Then I’ll be back. Things about this may change over time. New awards might be added. Some might be removed, etc. Still, of all the ways I could think to talk about the season as a whole, this was the best I could do.
Next season will also be put together a lot better. As I said at the beginning, I threw this together very quickly after quite a few iterations of the same post. There are like 5000 words you’ll never get to read. So stick around next time. It will be better.
This was a really fun season, and I’m glad I watched as much as I did. I had a blast.
Thank you very much for reading
What was your favorite anime this season? I’d love to hear.