The Best Seinen Anime of 2021 [Recommendations]

Seinen as an anime genre is often overlooked as it targets an older demographic tackling more mature content, especially by Western audiences, with the majority of hype every season falling on shonen anime like My Hero Academia. However, when good seinen anime lands, it usually hits hard, becoming some of the best anime shows like Monster or Cowboy Bebop. With that said, let us have a look at the top five seinen anime that 2021 had to offer!

5. Tenchi Souou Design-bu (Heaven’s Design Team)

If you have ever wondered how much thought God put into designing every animal and creature throughout the world, Heaven’s Design Team is here to show you! Shimoda, a new hire for the team, mediates between the design team and God to see creatures designs come to life. Portraying the inner workings of a rudimentary office job is typical of Seinen anime attempting to appeal to older audiences through portraying a parody of their working life; in heaven in this case.

Heaven’s Design Team is a simplistic comedy with some slice of life aspects like seeing the team of angels react to God’s vague requests for animals and the problems that arise with trying to make an animal that can exist on Earth. A running gag to this effect throughout Heaven’s Design Team is that of Tsuchiya to make unicorns a reality, despite all the issues in the way of approval due to the harsh realities of thinned air or osteoporosis, giving an educational side to the comedy of this anime.

4. Sentouin, Hakenshimasu! (Combatants Will be Dispatched!)

Seinen anime lends itself well to ecchi comedy, and Combatants Will be Dispatched is an excellent example. Our main character, Agent Six, alongside the android Alice, is transported to another world at the behest of his employer, the evil Kisaragi Corporation. With the aim of taking over this new world, Agent Six sets about forming a ragtag party to take on the Demon Lord’s Army on behalf of the Kingdom of Grace.

The comedy of Combatants Will be Dispatched stems from Number Six’s party, which includes Snow, a royal guard commander; Rose, a battle chimaera; and Grimm, a priestess of the evil god Zenalith. A prime example of this is seeing Snow recoil in horror as Number Six strives to strip down the demon general Heine to gain “evil points” that can be used for support from his employer. The comedy leans heavily on these ecchi elements making it stand out for the Seinen audience. Agent Six is a detestable main character, but that just adds to the laughs of this anime.

3. Hataraku Saibou Black (Cells at Work! CODE BLACK)

Cells at Work was an interesting show that showed the life of cells inside a healthy human body, dealing with the invasions of simple cold bacteria or other illnesses, and how the cells respond. Cells at Work! CODE BLACK! adds to this premise with a more sinister and adult tone. This time, the body of our cells is in constant turmoil due to an unhealthy lifestyle, with each episode acting as a PSA for the dangers of smoking, unprotected sex, and overconsumption of caffeine, to name a few.

Our protagonist, red blood cell AA2153, slowly begins to approach insanity over the difficulty of his daily tasks due to the dire state of his host body. Cue the help of white blood cell U-1196 who battles all the growing issues in the body, but there is some hope presented through the relationship between U-1196 and AA2153. The dire straights of Code Black are shown through the platelets, though, who in the original are cute and cheerful, are presented as sad, troubled, and dull in the face of increasingly unstable blood vessels, giving it a darker tone for a more mature audience. Nevertheless, Code Black is a fascinating insight into the world of biology through the medium of anime.

2. Shadows House

Horror fits the seinen genre well with darker themes appealing to an older audience. Shadows House does this excellently with the setting of a mysterious mansion of nobles in the mountains, called The Shadows, with a pitch-black appearance. Shadow children are appointed a Living Doll that attend their dark masters, having the face their Shadows could have if they weren’t so dark.

A disturbing atmosphere is built through Shadows House, with the animation quality bringing the darkness of the Shadows to life in an eerie manner. Our protagonist Emilico is assigned to the Shadow Kate, but her desire to learn more leads to tense situations as she finds out more about the mysterious darkness that makes The Shadows. The story of Shadows House also delves into the mystery of where The Shadows come from, giving the audience pieces at a time to figure out the answers.

1. Blue Period

A unique slice of life anime that tells the story of a delinquent turned artist after falling in love with painting, Blue Period has a lot of heart and shows how far passion can push someone to change their life. Yatora Yaguchi embarks on a journey to enter the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts, despite not knowing much about fine arts or official techniques.

Yatora’s coming of age story is endearing as we see how a delinquent transforms his life through a new passion. The characters around Yatora present interesting stories that add to Blue Period’s fascinating story arc, with the likes of Ryuuji Ayukawa, who invited Yatora to the Art Club and has a heartwrenching backstory as to why they have not followed their dreams due to family circumstances. Despite being set in high school, the motif and storylines of Blue Period are designed to be appreciated by a slightly older audience looking back. Blue Period hits hard and heavy, with Yatora and Ayukawa being the primary vessels for this as we learn more about their friendship. Blue Period is a standout among seinen anime from 2021.

Final Thoughts

Seinen has had a good year in 2021, with our top five showing the best of the bunch. Blue Period and Shadows House have shown how far animation can reach in quality, whilst Combatants Will be Dispatched shows how much room is still left for ecchi comedy amongst older audiences. So what have been your favourite seinen anime of 2021?

by Lewis Williamson