Otaku USA Magazine
These Anime Best Boy Contenders for 2021 Are… Unexpected

Shinji Ikari - Evangelion

When you think of a pick for Best Boy, you think of wholesome shonen heroes, right? Kids fighting their way up through the ranks for hope and glory. Or for their demon sister. Or to become Hokage. But… and stick with us… what if Moriarty?

2021 has given us some interesting contenders for the title. Two are returning characters… well, technically three are if you count English literature. But we still think these lads deserve consideration as you compile your lists. What do you think?


Kotaro Tatsumi

Kotaro Tatsumi - Zombie Land Saga

ZOMBIE LAND SAGA‘s shouty sunglasses-haver keeps getting better and better. He was a Best Boy contender in his first season for obvious reasons. For one, he’s voiced by Mamoru Miyano, which makes him a shoe-in. But he’s also unexpectedly supportive, and we learned he’s got a bit of a sad past.

ZOMBIE LAND SAGA REVENGE just amped up our opinion of him. He’s been changing as we gain more information on what Franchouchou is really for. Or maybe he’s changing for other reasons. There are hidden depths to this weirdo, and we only hope we’ll get to hear his full story before this franchise closes out.


William James Moriarty

William James Moriarty - Moriarty the Patriot

He’s a consulting criminal, and one of the most famous villains ever written. He’s also, in our book, a strong Best Boy contender for this year. Though that’s less to do with Arthur Conan Doyle and more concerning his role in Moriarty the Patriot.

Together with his brothers — the other Jameses Moriarty — he helps the lower classes of Victorian England escape their oppression. It just happens to be through carefully planned crimes. It’s an interesting take on the character, and one that puts him on a similar footing to his eternal rival, Sherlock Holmes. Through this lens, he is ultimately a compassionate person, but in a way that doesn’t necessarily translate. Except instead of being standoffish and unemotional, he plots lovely crimes.


Shinji Ikari

Our 2021 Best Boy picks are... kind of weird. But we stand by them.

Hey, kiddo. You’ve had a long, weird run.

In the final Neon Genesis Evangelion movie, Shinji Ikari has one hell of an odyssey. As the world around him fights, he drops through a dream space that — eventually — brings him some closure. It’s more surreal and strange than any of Eva before, but really puts a cap on the whole story. Especially maintaining the idea that Shinji is the avatar of series creator Hideaki Anno exploring his depressing and his place in the industry.

Thrice Upon a Time lets us see Shinji coming to terms with his life and his role as an Eva pilot. As always, it is for him to choose at the end what this world becomes. This time around, it’s heartwarming to not only see Shinji find a world that really will make him happy, but also see Anno telling us in his own way that he is happy.

Who are your Best Boy picks for the year?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.