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Pat Baer's Top Animes Of 2021

Get animated with Pat Baer!

Pat Baer is a comedian currently living in South Carolina who you may have seen at various PAXes with his panels Pat Baer’s Anime Club, The Improvised Postmortem, and League of Heels. You also may have encountered him on Twitch, where he builds Gundams and LEGO. He hopes to move back to NYC in 2022.

2021 was another year where I stuck with only a few video games, but watched a lot of anime. And once again the fine folks at Giant Bomb let me share a list of my favorite anime of 2021! If you like your lists in video format, I’ve got you covered here: click!

Honorable mention goes to The Faraway Paladin, which starts as a slow and patient exploration of what it means to be given a second chance at life, but by the end of the season is just another decent isekai.

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10. Remake Our Life!

What if you could turn back the clock and change your future? That’s the opportunity presented to Kyoya, a guy who once chose the safety of business school. But now he’s given another chance to live his dream at art school and is working with the people he knows will become huge stars in the future. It’s not all wish fulfillment and everything doesn’t go the way he originally imagined. Bonus points go to the studio for licensing era appropriate music for some key scenes.

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9. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 (Parts 1 and 2)

This is a hard show to properly summarize, as this season really is a story in two parts. The first half takes place before the final events of season 1, and is as light and fun as you’d expect from this unique take on the modern isekai subgenre (isekai meaning “different world”). But towards the end of Part 1, the shit hits the fan and this show transitions into a more traditional isekai. Our cute slime friend Rimuru has always been strong, but by the end of the season he’s incredibly overpowered and a vicious (if not justified) killer. The show still has charm and humor, but it’s become a far darker affair.

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8. The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent

Sei has been summoned to a fantasy world, but she’s not alone. And it’s decided that the other person summoned is the saint, which leaves Sei with nothing to do. She eventually finds her place in the world, and it becomes clear that her ability to make strong potions and her gift for healing magic is proof that she’s the real saint. But really, this show is about romance, not fantasy. There are incredibly attractive men in this show, and they’re all interested in Sei. And she is not used to the attention. Be it a knight who’s never shown his emotions, a mercenary who’s not careful with his words, or a mage who’s probably more interested in Sei’s secrets- everybody wants to spend some time with her. My only complaint is that the show often gets bogged down in the plot instead of focusing on the romance.

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7. Non Non Biyori Nonstop

Spoiler: the third and final season of Non Non Biyori stuck the landing. It wasn’t until 2021 that I became interested in this quant slice of life about a group of girls living in a remote Japanese town. All of them are wacky but believable, like a grounded version of Azumanga Daioh. Renge, the youngest and by far best character in the show, continues to steal every scene she’s in. Non Non Biyori Nonstop even managed to do the impossible: introduced and then focused on new characters that I actually cared about. Few shows can pull that off.

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6. Tokyo Revengers

What if you could turn back the clock and change your future? That’s the opportunity presented to Takemichi, a guy who once chose to abandon his middle school friends and has regretted it ever since, especially when he learns his old girlfriend has recently died from gang violence. The biggest problem for Takemichi is that knowledge of the future doesn’t help make him better at fighting teen gang members, many of whom look and fight like grown adults. The brutal action, surprisingly complex plot, and out of nowhere humor blend together pretty perfectly.

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5. I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level

It’s your typical story: a woman dies from overwork and is reborn in a fantasy world. She chooses to live alone for many years, and kills slimes for food money. But over time, not only does Azusa become powerful, she also starts interacting with the work around her. A cute fantasy slice of life, this show proves that a family can be an immortal witch, two dragon apprentices, a clumsy elf, two slime daughters, and a foul mouth teen ghost.

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4. Horimiya

He’s a bland loner but outside of school he’s a handsome guy with hidden tats and piercings. She’s pretty and popular but is really a homebody who helps take care of her little brother. When the two of them meet and learn each other’s secrets- it’s actually not that big a deal. Horimiya isn’t about the mask we wear. It’s really about the highs and lows of young love, and how messy it can be for everyone involved. The supporting cast is varied and complex, and the show manages to treat some fairly heavy moments with respect. It’s a coming of age love story that’s fun to watch.

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3. How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom

Look, almost half my list features a main character who was either summoned or reborn in a fantasy world. But those other main characters are incredibly overpowered compared to Souma, a college student who wanted to go into civil service. He becomes the King of a country in debt and dealing with a soon to come invasion. And him taking the throne causes internal strife in the country. The show focuses on the practical side of ruling a kingdom, showcasing Souma’s problem-solving skills and it doesn’t shy away from acknowledging his use of propaganda. Part 2 is out this season, so I recommend getting caught up with this unique isekai.

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2. Super Cub

A slow, patient, beautiful series about a girl whose life changes the day she buys a Super Cub (basically somewhere between a moped and a motorcycle). Koguma lives alone and doesn’t do anything outside of school. Not only does her commute become much easier, she’s able to move around her town freely and she even makes friends at school with other girls interested in Cubs. As Koguma’ s life changes, the background music in the show becomes more lively and animated as well. You’re really routing for her to grow and to start enjoying life. This could have easily been my #1 this year, but there’s a series of events that happen at the end of the show that are a little too fantastical for my liking and keep Super Cub out of the top spot.

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1. Laid-Back Camp Season 2

This cozy slice of life has everything you need: excitement about camping, traveling to historic Japanese landmarks, eating crazy good food, the addition of an adorable little sister to the crew, a huggable store mascot, and a surprising reference to a 90s anime classic (which I won’t ruin here). From solo camping to a big birthday camping trip, the girls once again prove there’s no wrong way to camp- unless you go winter camping without knowing the temperature!