Another trip around the sun, another pile of anime recommendations! Read on to hear about my favourite series I watched in 2021, and see if there’s any you missed that you might want to check out.
My work at AniFem has been instrumental in letting me (or, making me) keep up with current releases. Many of these mini-reviews are edited versions of check-ins or recommendations I’ve written for the site—check out each season’s staff picks for even more good stuff that went beyond my personal radar!
As a yuri adaptation starring college-aged characters and located squarely in the realm of genre fiction, Otherside Picnic is a rare beastie: while more and more are cropping up, yuri anime remain relatively thin on the ground, and the majority of titles are romances set in high school. The Otherside Picnic novels merely existing, and doing well enough to get a TV adaptation, is an exciting proof of concept, spotlighting that these stories are out there and there’s a definite place for them. With all this riding on it, there was a bubbling need for Otherside Picnic to be exemplary. As well as, of course, fans of the novels waiting eagerly to see the stories they loved come to life, there was an undercurrent of tension, a field of crossed fingers. A chorus of hushed voices saying “please let this be good.”
And you know what? Otherside Picnic is good. But maybe not in the way I expected nor “needed” it to be at first.
As we march ever onwards into the first anime season of 2021, it’s time to give the new shows the old Three Episode Try. After a trio, how are these series faring? Well, head to AniFem to find out!
Otherside Picnic is a portal fantasy… in a sense. Though you might be able to call it an isekai by a technicality, it certainly doesn’t have much in common with other “transported to a virtual world” anime among its contemporaries. It might be more accurate to call it a portal horror, because the titular Otherside is so delightfully eerie; constructed entirely of sweeping plains, ruined buildings, and strange inexplicable shapes and “glitches” in the landscape.
It’s scary because of the cryptids and folkloric monsters who roam the grasslands, but the horror is present even before they take centre stage. A sense of bizarre dread is baked into the setting itself. The Otherside is a monster in its own right, and the aesthetic of the world masterfully sets the stage for the psychological horror that is to come.