Studio A-1’s teenage mecha show, Darling in the FRANXX, was one of the most anticipated series of the winter 2018 season. With a post-apocalyptic setting, thick psychosexual symbolism, and mecha action scenes directed by Studio TRIGGER’s Hiroyuki Imaishi, there was a lot to look forward to and a lot of room for thoughtful exploration of adolescent sexuality and gender relations.
However, fans hoping for that thoughtful exploration were quickly disappointed, as the show didn’t seem interested in challenging expectations at all. Darling in the FRANXX purports to have something to say about sex, gender, and adolescence, but as illustrated in the “battle of the sexes” plotline in the episode “Boys x Girls,” thus far it only rehashes outdated stereotypes and an antiquated “boys will be boys” attitude.
“Once upon a time…” Those first words of the opening monologue of Revolutionary Girl Utena captivated me. It spoke of a place far away in the familiar language of fairy tales and archetypes, but with a princess who wanted to be a prince. Whoever this girl had been, here was a story about her trying to shape her future. “So impressed was she that she vowed to become a prince herself one day. But was that really such a good idea?” In the series, the monologue gets revisited again and again as it gets interpreted and reinterpreted, and every time it repeated itself, I learned more about how stories have power.
Sometimes life is tough, and all you want to watch is something gentle and soothing, like a cat video in show form. Anime has a whole genre for that—iyashikei, or “healing” shows. This season in particular has a lot of iyashikei, from Laid-Back Camp to How to Keep a Mummy. Winter’s starting to draw to a close, so let’s offer suggestions for folks looking for more gentle content.
Vrai, Caitlin, and Dee take a look back at Sayo Yamamoto and Mari Okada’s Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine! The team discusses the show’s unique place as the only Lupin property with a woman in the director or head writer’s chair, Fujiko’s uneven portrayals across time, and how the series pulls no punches in discussing sexuality, identity, and who controls women’s stories. Caitlin extols a straight relationship based on mutual respect, Vrai has a lot of feelings about their (really awful, really tragic) son, and Dee brings the thoughtful questions.
At first glance, Ristorante Paradiso and After the Rain bear remarkable similarities. Both are anime adaptations of manga series written by women that center around a May-September romance. Both star a young woman and a middle-aged divorcee. Both even feature characters who work at a restaurant together! So why does Ristorante Paradiso leave me with the warm fuzzies, while After the Rain just leaves me feeling vaguely skeevy?
Fumi Yoshinaga’s ongoing manga Ōoku: The Inner Chambers traces the events of medieval Japanese history with one big twist: the Redface Pox has killed most of the men in Edo, leaving women with the power of the shogunate.
Gatekeeping stinks. So let’s turn it around and talk about how we can welcome folks into our own AniFem community, whether that means helping new feminist-minded fans find anime and manga they’ll enjoy, or helping more established fans look at anime through a feminist lens.
Part 2 of the 4-part watchalong of Kill la Kill with Amelia, Vrai, and special guest Miranda Sanchez! Fashion gets an unfair shake. The StuCo is Good, but Satsuki is Best. As for Nui… maybe you don’t want to hear out thoughts on Nui.
Hyouka was an utterly plain series. It was easy to assume it wouldn’t stand out beside any other high school slice-of-life show. Within that plainness, however, the series presented itself in subtler ways compared to its contemporaries of more defined fantasy and slapstick comedic genres. Hyouka’s “normalcy” helped it present a very grounded take on high school life, carefully depicting the flaws and struggles of its main characters without reducing them to archetypes.
In late 2017, ATLUS announced they would be re-releasing Catherine with a new addition to the cast. Her name is Rin. She’s a new love interest for the main character, Vincent, and the website heavily suggests her story will be one deeply tied into trans identities. Little is known about the character, but already the public has ATLUS under deep, and well-deserved, scrutiny.
Following up on last week’s discussion of shoujo, this week we’re spotlighting series marketed toward adult women: josei. By far the genre that gets localized the least frequently, it houses some of anime and manga’s greatest stories.
Part 1 of the four-part watchalong of Kill la Kill with Amelia, Vrai, and special guest Miranda Sanchez! In this first episode, the team talks about the polarizing fandom reactions to the series—and has some polarizing reactions of their own. TRIGGER slaps the audience with a bucketful of aesthetic. Ryuko is Good Actually. Too bad the series keeps embarrassing her for titillation.
My Hero Academia is one of my favorite series in recent years. Thanks to its compelling, lovable cast and exciting world-building, it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had with shounen and superheroes. Regrettably, though, it’s not entirely free of some of the most frustrating (and typical) shounen stereotypes that frequently undermine its strong female cast.
Spring 2018 will be bringing us a bounty of shoujo and josei-oriented series telling women’s stories. Often, though, these series can be drowned out by their shounen and seinen counterparts. So this week and next, we want to highlight content marketed toward women.