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Yata’s 2021 Anime Year In Review / Top 10

And just like that, another year’s over. 2021 was one hell of a mixed bag for me personally, but as far as anime’s concerned, it seems like one of the most productive years for the medium in recent memory. You have to look at the big picture, though; half the reason this year was so unforgiving in its deluge of output was due to pandemic-delayed series finally seeing the light of day. Factor in the industry trend of increasing quantity (I tried over 100 anime this year—that’s a first), and if you were bored by anime in 2021, you must not have been looking hard enough for stuff to enjoy. There was plenty of it.

…And a lot of forgettable filler, as the laws of proportionality would have you suspect. The following rundown aims to cover all of them, starting with the premieres I curiously tried for an episode or two but nonetheless dropped. After those I’ll do the same for shows (and movies) I finished, with my top ten picks each receiving their own dedicated entry. Everything before the top 10 isn’t individually “ranked” per se, just grouped how I see most fit to illustrate the impressions they left. Those groups need names, and keeping these tiers aligned to a theme helps get the point across better, so this year, let’s go with uhhhhhh quotes from that one A/C Repair skit. Why? Why not? It had to be something.

Without further ado, let’s send out the year with the little diligence I have left and a boatload of sass.

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Yata’s Top 25 OPs of 2021

Hi, everyone! Yata here, and welcome to the second of my three late-year posts as we wrap up what anime had to offer us in 2021. If you missed my Top 10 EDs of 2021 list, make sure to give that a glance, and of course stay tuned in late December or early January for the grand finale: my Top 10 Anime of the Year and general 2021 Recap.

But before that, I said we’d keep the theme song trend going, and I intend to. You either love it or hate it—this annual list of my favorite OPs has been a feature of the For Great Justice-sphere since even before the site’s inception, and in recent years I’ve dragged myself through anisong hell by attentively marathoning every single OP from that calendar year just so I can say nothing slipped by me.

By my count that left me with just over 200 openings to slog through for 2021, and slog through them I did; the OPs that were amazing this year were amazing, but they weren’t particularly abundant, meaning I kinda had to pad out the bottom half of the 25 with some personal pleasures as opposed to only rewarding crowning artistic achievements. The number’s part of the brand, though—I refuse to change it at this point.

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Yata’s Top 10 EDs of 2021

Hey, everyone. Yata here. Last time I logged in to post, spring had just sprung, but in the months since, mostly for work-life balance-related reasons, myself and Haru thought it best to put lengthy For Great Justice projects on hold.

Up front, I’ll confirm that hiatus from seasonal coverage will probably continue into 2022, but I still feel motivated to give our readers and friends something after all the radio silence, so my annual wrap-up material—my Favorite EDs, Favorite OPs, and Year in Review/Top 10 posts—will still arrive as usual, spaced out every few weeks before January if all goes well. To kick it all off, why not get the shortest one out of the way first?

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Spring 2021 First Impressions

Hello everyone, and welcome back to For Great Justice! A couple brief weeks ago, Yata delivered some overdue final verdicts on the winter season solo, and with the turnaround to the start of spring being so quickly in tow, it’s once again just him covering this batch of first impressions.

But fret not—whether it’s due to prior COVID-delayed shows seeing the light of day or an unrelated uptick in interesting titles, this spring is stacked with hit sequels, reliable adaptations, and promising anime-original works alike, boasting one of the largest crops of Potentially Not Garbage synopses I’ve seen yet in my six and a half years of seasonal coverage.

Below are my first impressions on thirty—yes, thirty—premieres, and since the field is so large this time, I’ll give you an added bonus and tier-list them. Best of the best first, rest and the worst afterward. Keeping the explanations concise, here’s what I intend to watch this spring and why. A hellish schedule has never looked so heavenly.

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Winter 2021 Final Thoughts

Yeah, I know, would you believe it? For Great Justice lives! Everything looked on the upswing heading into 2021, and a truly stacked season—arguably the most stacked season in this industry to date—gave us plenty to anticipate, only for illness (not COVID at least) to sideline our writing for the full extent of January and into February.

Thankfully the writing was the only thing we fell behind on: we continued to watch the new titles and hyped sequels, we just didn’t have the time to gush about them at length…until now. Or rather, one of us will; like me or hate me, this is a Yata-only rundown, but I somehow completed a personal record of fifteen series this winter. The quality wasn’t quite as crazy as the quantity, but there were still several standout shows. Which ones faltered along the way? Which ones ended with their hype intact? And what was my Anime of the Season from this diverse cour? The answers to all that and more below. It’s overdue. Let’s catch up.

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Yata’s Top 25 OPs of 2020

I vowed to not spend 11 months procrastinating this time around and let the record show I meant it. The winter 2021 premieres are already trickling out, but before I dive headfirst into those, there’s one piece of 2020’s unfinished business to attend to (well, regarding anime, that is). You either love it or love to hate it: the annual rundown of my favorite opening theme songs is back, on schedule for once, and it’s in peak form as it’s ever been.

No, seriously, 2020 was a really good year for OPs overall, so much so that it made the usual slogwatching every opening to debut in the last calendar yearsurprisingly manageable. Some assaults to my faceholes snuck through as always, but for once the issue wasn’t what to add so that I’d reach 25 worth praising, but what to cut. I’ll address some of those bubble entries in a minute, but more importantly, I need to recap the criteria for what’s eligible and valued on these lists:

  • The OP must have debuted in 2020. It can be from a show that premiered before 2020 or that will continue airing after, but the OP in question had to debut this past year.
  • I don’t need to have seen a show in order for its OP to be eligible on the list, but recognize I’m inherently biased towards those I have seen since I’m able to parse additional context from them. OPs of long-running shounen adaptations, kids’ shows, and idol hell tend to be absent here for that reason.
  • Movies are also excluded; these are just OPs from TV anime and ONAs.
  • My rankings are somewhat arbitrarily based on music composition, audio production, lyrics and delivery, visual production, audiovisual sync, originality, and pretty much any other metric you could think of. Some of these aspects are weighed more than others based on what I feel the OP in question was trying to accomplish, but I don’t give these individual metrics ratings of their own during the ranking process. The pros and cons of each still ultimately come second to my personal enjoyment.
  • On that note, never forget that the following is all just my personal opinion. You’re entitled to disagree and I expect that you will. If you decide to reach out asking where X or Y is, just remain civil and don’t act in bad faith. I certainly welcome you responding with your own favorites.

You ready? I’m ready. Let’s get this countdown started!

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Yata’s 2020 Anime Year in Review / Top 10

The end is near, oh, thank God, the end is fuckin’ NEAR. Every year I whine “waaah this year sucked, yadda yadda, on to next year,” but uh, holy shit, 2021…please, I’m begging you, no new viruses, alright? Maybe some slightly more competent political leadership while we’re at it? My expectations are still low, but for as long as the current situation remains a thing, I’ll be using the free time I get to stare at a screen and watch cartoons. That’s just what we do around here at For Great Justice, and if anything made 2020 bearable, it was the one-two pick-me-up of watching anime—some fantastic, others horrendous—and then chatting about them with my pals online.

With a new year (and an absurdly stacked winter season) on our doorstep, it’s time to reflect with one final article on what 2020 meant for anime. Some might define it by pandemic delays, others by a smattering of sequels that brought magnificent closure to huge franchises. For me, breakout original productions mostly stole the show, but we’ll get to those in due time—first, I’ve gotta explain what exactly I’m doing here.

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Yata’s Top 10 EDs of 2020

It’s Yata, back for the third month in a row with takes about anime themes. What do you mean, “already?” I told you there wouldn’t be a huge wait this time around! What do you take me for, a liar? My record speaks for itself: I may be wrong about things, but I never intentionally lie. It’s for that very reason you should be able to trust that I ain’t bullshitting you: these following ten anime EDs are my favorites the medium gave us in 2020.


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Fall 2020 Mid-Season Thoughts

Hey y’all! Welcome back to For Great Justice, and today it’s time for our final seasonal update of 2020. At the end of December, we’ll have some awards pieces to run and our thoughts on these seasonals’ final acts will be included there instead of a separate article, as has been the case in years past. In the meantime, this is a Yata-only updateHaru’s swamped with work right now, but I took one of his shows upon myself in order to cover every seasonal I’m caught up on. That doesn’t include Love Live Nijigasaki right now (I fell way behind) or Adachi & Shimamura (which everyone’s been telling me is their AOTS, so I figure I’ll give it a second chance soon), but the rest of the notables from this fall are covered below. What’s standing out? What’s falling apart? Why is this season so incorrigibly 7/10? All of that ahead! Let’s run ’em down!

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Yata’s Top 25 OPs of 2019

It’s here. I did it. It’s late, sure, but it’s done and done early enough that I won’t necessarily set myself further behind schedule. You wanted it, you asked for it, and now, 10 months late and almost totally irrelevant, I return with a Top 25 OPs post for the year 2019.

Why did it take so long? Well, I typically do the annual OP list when I get a lull of work in the winter, but this year I got a pandemic instead, and that led me to pursue more ambitious projects in my limited free time, If I had, you know, died, I didn’t want my last creative exercise to be this. Don’t get me wrong—I still love anime themes as an art onto themselves, but the ones 2019 had to offer were perhaps the overall weakest batch I’ve seen from a year in a while. And no, I didn’t “miss the good ones,” I watched every OP available on them databases as research. It was a grueling time.

The only thing that could make it more grueling is if it’s all for naught, though, so fuck it, you’re here, I’m here, let’s run down my favorites.

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