The Winter 2021 season has come to a close and we are now already into the Spring season’s anime titles. However, looking back at Winter 2021, we have so many fond memories – from metaphorical giant-killing in Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) The Final Season, to malicious attempts to get in the way of other people’s happiness with 5-toubun no Hanayome (The Quintessential Quintuplets), to traversing strange worlds and dealing with all kinds of painful experiences with Wonder Egg Priority, the Winter 2021 season has kept us plenty entertained. That being said; however, it is time to ask (and answer) the most important question of any anime season – “Who is the best waifu?”
5. Yoshikawa Yuki – Horimiya
Horimiya has been one of those revelations for the romance genre this season and with good reason. The characters are all quite likeable in their own right, especially the main characters Hori and Miyamura; however, we’re zooming in on one member of the main friend group – the adorable, outgoing and cheerful Yoshikawa Yuki! She is one of Hori’s closest friends and copies her homework all the time.
While introduced as your generic “too much energy” friend, Yoshikawa sees a small window into her character develop when Horimiya explores her crush on close friend Ishikawa Tooru, who is being courted by the extremely shy Kouno Sakura. The contrast between Yoshikawa’s outgoing personality and her inability to communicate her true feelings has made her into quite a textured supporting main character, one who is relatable in so many ways yet still the classic anime bubbly personality.
4. Myulan – Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime) Season 2
Myulan is a powerful sorcerer planted in Tempest by the conniving Demon Lord Clayman, who has taken Myulan’s literal heart and uses it to manipulate her every move. She arrives in Tempest pretending to be a human sorcerer and eventually develops a relationship with the former bandit, Youm, who is something like a knight of Tempest. When Tempest is attacked by the human kingdoms of Falmuth and Ruberios, it is revealed that Myulan is a Majin deployed by Clayman to erect a barrier over Tempest to allow no cessation to the devastation that would ensue.
Youm falls in love with Myulan and when she reveals what she has done, he promises to stick by her and plead her case to Rimuru. Seeing that she was being manipulated, Rimuru creates an artificial heart for Myulan, which enables her to betray Clayman without worrying for her life. Her journey goes full circle when Rimuru deploys her to assist him in his plan to kill 10 000 humans and become a fully-fledged Demon Lord.
Her character design is perhaps one of the most interesting on this list, featuring black markings on her face that run over her eye, which is jet black except for the yellow iris; as well as emerald-green hair. She makes her way onto this list for being exceptionally powerful, but also someone who is willing to face the consequences of her actions regardless of the circumstance. Love the integrity, Myulan, we forgive you!
3. Emilia – Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World –)
While most of the Re:Zero fandom never would have doubted it for a moment, other people simply weren’t so convinced by any Emilia propaganda after the end of the first season. Be that as it may; however, the Sanctuary Arc in the second half of the second season of Re:Zero has simply been one of the greatest arcs in an isekai in recent memory because of the development of the half-elf Emilia.
We finally get to see what happened in Emilia’s past, fragments of her childhood and a hugely crucial part of her journey thus far. We see her laugh, but mostly, we see her fuss and cry. We almost see her give up, but with some support from Subaru and her friends, Emilia progresses through the trials presented to her, trials which she must overcome if she is to free the Sanctuary and all those who live in it.
Once she finally finds her tempo, Emilia goes from being scared, upset and unfit to rule anybody to being a positively calm, forward-facing individual who no longer runs away from her past or who she is. This season, we see Emilia begin to reintegrate the parts of herself she was trying to escape and she is now a sharper, more resolute Emilia. What’s that? Growth! She also thought that kissing Subaru meant that she is with child – we thought that was cute.
2. Nakano Nino – 5-toubun no Hanayome ∬(The Quintessential Quintuplets 2)
This is one of the stars of the list because of just how badass she is! Nino starts her journey as your run-of-the-mill tsundere character. In the context of her family, she would definitely register as the mean one; however, the second season of The Quintessential Quintuplets has been a complete ride from start to finish, especially for Nino, who comes to realise her romantic feelings for Futarou and begins to bravely, consciously and deliberately act on those feelings. She breaks the unwritten rules of romance anime when, instead of being disheartened by the fact that the protagonist didn’t hear her confession of love, Nino simply approached Futarou in a quieter place to confess her feelings again – without hesitation.
Nino’s growth in the second season of The Quintessential Quintuplets was about letting go of what used to be and embracing change. Up until the second season, Nino had been holding on to the dynamic she and her sisters used to have as kids. She even went as far as never changing her hairstyle because it was the one they used to rock as kids – back when it felt like they were all just parts of a whole. Nino has stepped up and embraced becoming herself, cutting her hair short to symbolize her growth, but also doing her level best to get what she wants while also being a brilliant romantic rival and support system for Miku, and an even more brilliant contrast to the villainous “all is fair” approach adopted by first-born Ichika. Nino has evolved beyond the boundaries of archetype and genre, making her own rules about how to engage with her romantic feelings and giving herself in to those feelings without reservation.
1. Kugisaki Nobara – Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen is one of two MAPPA productions that took the world by storm in Winter 2021. With its extremely well-done animation, gorgeous aesthetics, horror elements and shounen feel, it has raised the bar when it comes to the new-age battle shounen. Jujutsu Kaisen follows the shounen formula fairly closely. Shounen anime often has its main trio consist of two contrasting male characters and a female character who is left in the proverbial dust when it comes to spotlight, development or even likeability, but Jujutsu Kaisen left one of the greatest scenes in the entire show to Kugisaki Nobara, a character who is wholly different from the female main character in other shounen for several reasons.
Nobara is not a sweet, soft-spoken type – she is fiery, tough, materialistic, cynical and even violent; however, throughout the show, it has been great for her character to have frivolous, funny moments which she has often shared with Itadori Yuji. This brings us to Nobara’s greatest moment in Jujutsu Kaisen so far – her 2v2 brawl alongside Itadori against the Special Grade Cursed Womb: Death Paintings Eso and Kechizu! Nobara and Itadori’s friendship has been a highlight throughout the series; however, it climaxes with the battle in the last episode.
For context, Eso has the ability to spew highly corrosive, highly toxic blood at his enemy. He activates the ability Rot Technique Decay, which makes exposure to his blood cause a complete and total decomposition of the victim, unless Eso releases the technique. Nobara quickly assesses the situation and uses her Resonance ability on herself to target the two brothers and counter the decomposition, essentially holding them hostage while she is held hostage herself. Nobara and Yuji put their all into their respective fights before swapping opponents for a brief moment – a moment in which both sorcerers activate the fabled Black Flash, which gravely injures both Eso and Kechizu.
Nobara is extremely tenacious and her battle against the Death Paintings is not only proof of her exceptional ability, but of elite mentality – Nobara is not swayed by the fact that her opponents were flesh and blood humans rather than curses like Itadori is, which gives a lot of context to some of the things she said about being a Jujutsu Sorcerer all the way back in episode 2. Not only is Nobara a likable character, her actions have massive impact and she gets the spotlight like a good tritagonist should. For these reasons, Kugisaki Nobara is our top waifu of Spring 2021!
There were so many best girls in Winter 2021 that it was extremely difficult to choose. In a season of many highs, the characters made the experience even better, but there are only so many of them whose impact will reverberate beyond Winter 2021, perhaps into the coming decade, who knows! Some honourable mentions for our top waifus of Winter 2021 include Hori, because, yes; Maki from Jujutsu Kaisen as yet another awesome character from that universe and Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu (Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation) character Ghislaine – did somebody say abs? Do you disagree with our waifu choices? Drop a comment below and let the Waifu Wars begin!