The Winter 2021 anime season has certainly come out swinging, with outstanding sequels for favorites like The Promised Neverland and Beastars, as well as hot new properties like Horimiya and Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. One thing that we’ve noticed so far is that these anime are absolutely killing it with their background art, especially three of them in particular: Kemono Jihen, SK8 the Infinity, and Wonder Egg Priority. So, if you’ll allow it, we’d like to gush for a while about the beautiful worlds that the animators of these shows create with their minute attention to detail. Please come join us!
This urban fantasy tale of yokai-human hybrids protecting the unsuspecting public from evil members of their own kind crafts a realistic modern world through its depictions of Kabane’s backwoods hometown and the Kemono office in Tokyo. Kabane’s hometown is appropriately old-fashioned, painted with muted colors that reflect how his family mistreated and shunned him for much of his life. Even the dirt in the fields is textured to show the indents from the hoe used to till it.
As for the Kemono office, we can’t get over how cute the kids’ room is! Shiki and Akira’s beds are situated in little cubbies above small living areas, and there’s a round hole cut out of the dividing wall so they can talk to each other. They’ve each decorated their half of the room to suit their own tastes: Shiki’s features loud posters and a metal bulletin board covered in license plates, while Akira’s is decked out in feminine pastels and curtains. When Kabane moves in, they just put up a hammock in the middle of the room. We hope he gets his own little space to call his own soon!
SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity)
SK8 the Infinity takes place in sun-drenched Okinawa and explores the fictional underground skateboarding competition known only as “S”. The S courses themselves are exciting – winding down jagged mountain paths and through rickety abandoned warehouses spotted with rust – but we’re especially big fans of the more mundane environments. Reki’s tiny bedroom is plastered with posters and stickers strung up on a line with binder clips, his workshop has its own dedicated tools and unfinished sketches tacked up on the walls, and the skate shop where he and Langa work has recognizable drinks in the fridge and a special cubby hole for the little fox/chihuahua thing that the owner keeps as a pet. This level of personalization to each space gives a lot of unspoken depth to these characters, to the point where you can tell so much about each person just by looking at the places they call their own!
Wonder Egg Priority
Speaking of heavily personalized spaces, the psychological drama Wonder Egg Priority shows off its protagonist Ai’s uniquely decorated home right in the OP. She adjusts her rainbow-patterned flip-flops on the balcony, where a plant rests on a cinderblock next to the bottle of water that’s used to keep it healthy, and quietly eats her morning yogurt while crouching on a chair in her mom’s cramped kitchen. When we see her room in the anime itself, her elevated bed is covered in a little dot-patterned tent and the storage underneath is also shielded with a somewhat clashing green plaid curtain. All of these details underscore the idea that Ai feels trapped in her current life and hides herself away with a number of different coping mechanisms. The few things she can control, like straightening out her sandals and saving the souls resting in the wonder eggs, are her only way to relate to the world at this point.
We also love the otherworldly plants and carefully planned out underground shelter from The Promised Neverland Season 2, the broken-down corridors from Cells at Work: Code Black, and the bombed-out warzones from Attack on Titan: The Final Season.
What did you think of our overview? What are your favorite background art details from this season? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!