Mecha Series Ranking Fall 2021

And so the Fall season of 2021 has come to a close! An explosive season with TEN mecha series being broadcast along with many movies airing in theatre. Well, since we can’t really watch the movies outside of Japan just yet, and they’re a different type compared to seasonal animes, so we’ll only look at the 9 tv series and 1 ONA that were broadcasted from 1 Oct to 28 December. Here is what I think about the good, the bad and the ugly of this season (which is my opinion only):

#1: Megaton Musashi

An unexpected Blockbuster by Level-5

Megaton Musashi is an anime based on a video game that was delayed for close to 5 years! And with the past track record of mecha anime by Level-5, we didn’t expect something so amazingly bold and exciting!
Megaton Musashi depict a brutal war between the last remaining humans and an invading alien race. The youths of a false city stand-up in their giant robots to liberate their planet in fiery battles.
The anime is amazing from both story-telling and the visual department. The characters are likeable, engaging and relatable. The animation are gorgeous as expected of OLM studio (who did Shinkalion). The music is also another great addition as Musashi no doubt has the BEST opening this season – this year even. Musashi has been green lit for a 2nd season in Summer 2022. Can’t wait!

#2: Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z

Solid sequel with a brand new direction

As a series to continue the legacy of Shinkalion, Shinka Z has a lot to live up to, and guess what, they did it again! Shinkalion Z knew they had to be fresh and unique, and they took it in strides.
A new conflict start with a brand new cast, this time with a deuteragonist setting. Shin and Abuto are great main characters with even better development than the og cast. With new Shinkalions which are basically upgrades of their original counterparts, the series take us into a really really surprising direction that noone saw coming.
As usual, music and animation are still as solid as the original. The 3D could use a bit more dynamic action and some post-finisher poses, but overall very good. And of course, Shinka Z still has a very long run ahead, so expect more choo-choo awesomeness!

#3: Muv-Luv Alternative the Animation

A challenging passion project

Muv-Luv Alternative – the Visual Novel that is well known as one of the most if not the most popular of all time, finally receives an anime after 15 years. After two other spin-off series from the same franchise got an anime, this project is expected to be a gigantic challenge, even harder than Demonbane or Robotics; Notes.
There are many obstacles that the staff has to tackle when it comes to the series. And so the anime was made with a lot of issues present, but you can feel the passion of the staff when it comes to animating the TSF – the giant robots of the series. Not gonna lie, the series was saved by amazing 3D work by Graphinica and badass music by the one and only Evan Call.
All-in-all, the major problems are at the start of the series with some very rush episodes lacking character development for the side characters. With a VN like Alternative, rushing is inevitable however. Fortunately, the story regain a reasonable pace at the mid-point of the series. And the visual and audio aspect was perfectly done. Season 2 is also announced for October 2022 and that’s where the fans expect to see some major breakthroughs!

#4: Kyoukai Senki

Sunrise Beyond bringing 2D back

Sunrise Studio is probably the only studio in the industry that can proudly say “We can animate mecha with hand-drawn 2D animation”. And this season Sunrise Beyond show us how it’s done with Kyoukai Senki.
Story-wise, Kyoukai Senki feels very Code Geass with its settings. Japan divided and conquered by 4 foreig major economic blocks and its people living in misery. Our protagonist – Amou – is a normal teen that likes machinery, suddenly found himself between a war between the Resistance and the foreign armies, oh and also in the cockpit of Kenbu – a combat mecha – along with an advance AI – Gai.
The story and character of Kyoukai Senki is above average but nothing too impressive or groundbreaking. You can predict what’s gonna happen since it’s a very typical Sunrise Real Robot show. But what’s awesome is the animation. Kyoukai Senki is the ONLY full 2D anime this season and the combat looks amazing! The 2nd season is coming in April so look forward to that!

#5: Rumble Garanndoll

Awaken your dream and passion

Rumble Garanndoll aka Gyakuten Sekai no Denchi Shoujo is quite a meta series aimed at young adults who recently got a taste of the “real” world and society. It deals with the dreams and passion we have when we were young. Being a hero, an idol, and being protected by adults.
Japan is invaded (again) but this time, by an alternate Japan that is still in Showa Era and ruled by a militaristic reign. The alternate Japan, called the Shinchu Army, aimed to suppress Otaku culture – animes, games, idols, etc that they believe are weakening the Japanese fighting spirit. Hosomichi – an uncaring guy that just goes with the flow – is caught in a struggle between the Arahabaki (the Resistance) and the Shinchuu Army.
The story is the highlight of the series, with an extremely relatable main characters. A fair bit of people will definitely see themselves in him, me included. The series address to “broken passion” mentality that some hold when they graduate into the workforce and the real world. It’s a very interesting series to follow. The animation are also very good, with the mechs being SD proportion instead which kinda add to the unique charm of the series.

#6: Shikizakura

When the Sakura falls, a hero is born

Shikizakura – just like Megaton Musashi – was also delayed quite a bit due to real world reasons. And finally, we got the hero’s journey. If you think this a Super Sentai or Kamen Rider animated series, you’re not wrong.
Shikizakura follows Kakeru Miwa – the only survivor of a major catastrophe years ago involving Oni – creatures that devour humans. Eight years later, kakeru has a chance to stand up for himself and fight against the Onis, but there’s a catch: he has to unite with Ibara – a very powerful Oni.
Shikizakura is your traditional hero story. Where the hero must accept an evil within himself in order to execute justice, but along the way, his conviction shall prevail. Made as a tribute to the Tokusatsu genre and to promote the Nagoya province, the series did a very good job. It’s quite tropey but it was executed well. The animation is a bit mixed, with mediocre character model but amazingly done combat. The difference is like night and day, and the action really help reel the series back on its feet. The OST are also very nice. Very entertaining series to watch with a ton of references!

#7: Gundam Breaker Battlogue

Enjoy the cool battles! – Masami Obari

Gundam Breaker Battlogue knows what it is and did just that and left. The series is basically a fun fanservice for Gundam fans to have something while they wait for the next series. It’s short, the story is goofy but the animation and design is amazing.
The story is nothing to write home about. Since the length of the whole “series” is about 2 episode of a normal anime, they kept it short and get to the battle quickly. They feature some very interesting AI pilot – Mobile suits pair and with very cool action scenes directed by mecha master Masami Obari.
All-in-all, Breaker Battlogue is a visual experience. It manages to deliver the “fun” part perfectly.

#8: Eighty-Six 2nd cour

Would be great if we could watch all the eps

A seriously unfortunate miss this season. Eighty-Six first cour was an amazing adaptation with great production value. And the 2nd cour is well on the way to surpass the first, if not for it being hit with production issues and delays weeks after weeks.
The production quality however, is still pristine, and is the saving grace of the anime. The screenwriting was phenomenal, each episode has moments that get you pumped or send chills down your spine. The mecha action although extremely scarce was very well done by Shirogumi.
If it hadn’t been hit with delays, it could have easily been in the upper half of the season, but alas, it wasn’t. And we have to wait another 3 months for the last 2 episodes, which will seriously affect the viewing experience.

#9: Sakugan

Explosive start, mediocre finish

Sakuga could have been really amazing, if only it didn’t discard the excitement and emotion it set up in episode 1 and 2 for a Road trip the Animation anime. Sakugan started out with a very intriguing plot and so much potential to become a good family exploration mecha series. Unfortunately it didn’t manage to follow through.
Sakugan follows a pair of father and daughter on their way to explore the Labyrinth, filled with radically colonies, massive machineries and mysterious kaijuus. And instead of focusing on that part, the series turn into “solving personal problem” and “going camping” for most of the time.
Although there are some highlighting moments, it isn’t enough to revitalize the excitement I felt when watching ep 1 and 2. The series is quite dull and the mecha action are lacking. Although there will be a season 2, let’s hope they ramp up something spicy!

#10: Ancient G’s Frame (Dou Shen Ji)

Girl’s Last (Space) Tour, but without the mecha

This is Sakugan but worse. Ancient-G’s Frame is a chinese x japanese collaboration project that sprung out of nowhere. Nobody knew it was even in production and it just aired the next day it was announced, which is quite a rush. And the content is also true to that as well: rushed.
Ancient-G’s Frame show us a very promising setup. With some interesting concept laid out with quite a diverse cast. The things it introduce isn’t groundbreaking but still enough to catch our interest at least. However, that’s about the extent of what’s good about it.
The main mecha was absent for the majority of the series, most of the times it’s basically just the all-girl cast solving drama and other emotional issues. The action was very lacking and there’s not much conflict either. The 3D is quite mediocre except for one or two units. At least the music is good. There’s not much to say about the series because, frankly, nothing happened. The conclusion was abrupt and felt very anti-climactic.

And that’s it for Fall 2021. What a jam-packed season! Even so, we have some highs and lows, some ups and downs. But overall, we get quite an impressive season on our hand and who knows when we’ll get such a line-up again? Definitely a good season and a good year for mecha genre by a long shot. Looking forward to what next year will bring us.