Fans have plenty of time to get excited about a good, up-and-coming series. An optional first step is for there to be a good manga that people would like to see animated. After that comes various announcements about what phase of production the anime is in. Following that, there are the months of waiting. Then, there's watching the first few episodes and liking where things are going. Finally, there's getting through the whole series and drawing conclusions about how it was. Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn't always a positive one. There's always the chance that some unforeseen hiccup on the production side of things will screw things up and generate something of a defective final product. For all the personal investment that goes into a highly anticipated anime, seeing it ultimately flop is one of the worst feelings.
There was plenty of good anime in 2021, but not all of them could live up to their initial hype. Some of these series may have shown promise at first. Some of them were continuations of older series that made old fans hopeful. Some of them had big names attached to them that should have suggested a high-quality product. In the end, however, many of them turned out to be real stinkers for one reason or another. Here's a look back at some of the year's worst offenders.
Fena: Pirate Princess
Fena: Pirate Princess was an anime original series, so nobody knew what to expect of it. However, the gorgeous art and animation, decent worldbuilding, amusing characters, and cool action sequences suggested that viewers were in for a fun time. Seeing the main crew go on a grand adventure in search of the mysterious Eden was enough to keep people hooked and wanting to know more about the story each week.
Unfortunately, the final arc couldn't quite live up to everything that had been built up. The series suddenly leaned hard into a fantasy element not obvious throughout the rest of the series. Looking past that, the core themes and ideas of Fena's character arc of becoming her own person and making her own decisions was undercut by the final plot twist. Flaws like this leave a sour taste in audiences' mouths.
Yashahime: Princess Half Demon
Yashahime had a ton of expectation going into it. It's a sequel series to Inuyasha following the adventures of the main cast's children, specifically Sesshomaru's and Inuyasha's daughters. People were hoping for this series to feature a return to form and a reintroduction to their favorite old characters from the original series. When there weren't that many elements from the original series in Yashahime, many fans felt as though there was something sorely missing from the spinoff series.
With that said, Yashahime does accomplish the basics for a good sequel series. It changed the stakes, introduced new and interesting characters, and avoided telling precisely the same story as before. Even if its strengths aren't quite at the level of its predecessor, it's still a decent enough anime in its own right. The choice to love or hate it will depend on what audiences are expecting to get from this series.
The Promised Neverland Season 2
TPN has one of the strongest starts to any anime series. The premise of hyperintelligent children using their wits to escape brain-eating demons is a fairly unique one. Additionally, the series had an engaging mystery element, beautiful art, and complex worldbuilding. All of this is coupled with a poignant message on the morality of eating other living beings whether for survival or pleasure. The manga had all sorts of decent plotlines fans were hoping to watch in motion.
Unfortunately, the anime couldn't give the fans everything they wanted. Season 2 either highly condensed or entirely skipped several important plotlines and characters. This truncation seemed to be an effort to fit the rest of the series following the first arc into 12 episodes, which was impossible to do in a satisfactory way. If the anime had spread out the story over at least two more seasons, it may have worked out better.
Wonder Egg Priority
Wonder Egg Priority shows what happens when new creators with an original IP are given a chance to shine. The series follows four teenage girls who use magical-girl-like powers to fight the inner demons of other teenage girls with suicide-related issues. Its visuals and sound design boast a movie-level quality throughout, but what's really impressive is the characterization. WEP has its characters deal with sensitive and complicated issues like cutting oneself and abuse in relatable ways.
Unfortunately, things start to go wrong after the halfway point. The story became an overcomplicated mess, characters started to lose their reliability, and, worst of all, the series concluded with two recaps and many unresolved plot threads. That being said, the series still had a strong beginning thanks in no small part to all the talented people involved in its production. It's worth checking out if only to see what the first half gets right.
For a series created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the minds behind Death Note and Bakuman, Platinum End was not the masterpiece fans were hoping for. To start with the positives, the art is amazing, the voice actors give good performances and the soundtrack is nice to listen to. Unfortunately, these aspects alone can't elevate this series to the same level as the authors' previous works.
Even when not being compared to Death Note, an admittedly unfair comparison, Platinum End has several problems that kept it from being a quality series in general. This supernatural battle royale tried to be as edgy as possible but offered nothing of substance in the process. The protagonist had little agency or initiative, which ultimately undercut the moment where he finally does something of great significance. Problems like these exist in the original manga, but the anime sadly does little to alleviate the issues.