[AniFemTalk] Shows meeting expectations post-premiere

Premieres are a tricky business: production teams do their best to look spectacular in terms of animation, intrigue, and (depending on the series) fanservice in hopes of getting viewers to stick around for Episode 2. But that “best foot forward” approach can be a double-edged sword, as viewers find themselves disappointed by a show that veers in a different direction from what the premiere seemed to promise.

  • What premieres have you loved but found yourself dropping in subsequent episodes? What was the tipping point for you?
  • What shows did you drop after a lackluster premiere only to hear later that the show turned out great?
  • What elements are deal-breakers to you?
  • Do you prefer going in blind or taking a wait-and-see approach to new shows?

 

At this stage, we have raised enough money to be able to pay for contributed posts, behind the scenes admin, and audio editing for weekly podcasts. Our next goal is to pay the editors who have worked on AniFem as volunteers since before launch, making enormous contributions for no pay. Help us pay them for their work at a rate of $15 an hour by becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month!

  • alecksis

    I only really started watching GAMERS! and Kakegurui, and I haven’t dropped either of them which is unusual. I’ve found I’m most likely to drop a show around episodes 3-5 just out of boredom and then wait a few seasons to see what stuck with people. I have a huge backlog from past seasons that I watch instead of keeping up with currently airing anime.

    As far as deal-breakers, I guess I only have two? Usually boredom, as I mentioned. I have a really high tolerance for fanservice, but too much fanservice or general poor characterization of women combined with anything less than an otherwise utterly stellar story and animation quality just bores me (GAMERS is unfortunately heading in this direction). But also, my other hard deal-breaker is graphic depictions of rape and sexual assault. I was really enjoying Drifters a few seasons back, but the rape chamber scene sent me spiraling into PTSD flashbacks so that was fun…?

    • rugose-appendage

      I was also concerned by the last episode of GAMERS. I liked it when it had unique characters dealing with the challenges of interacting with others with similar-but-never-identical interests. Then in the space of an ad-break all the girls developed an inexplicable interest in attracting boys and that was All That Mattered To Them.

      • alecksis

        I started feeling a little wary in the second episode when they inserted the fanservicey title cards, and Tendou started acting inexplicably lovesick… but this past episode was so frustrating, with two love triangles forming between five characters. W H Y . It’s really frustrating that more and more the show is pandering to the straight male demographic rather than sticking to its initial promise of a cute, gender-balanced, comedic slice-of-life show about playing and loving games.

        • rugose-appendage

          Oh yeah those title cards. They did concern me a bit, but sometimes that fanservice stays just in the title cards. We might not be so lucky 🙁

          • alecksis

            Honestly I have a really high tolerance for fanservice when I’m expecting it. I mean, some of my favorite shows are No Game No Life and Soul Eater. With GAMERS, it just seems to be creeping in at the edges, like “maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t~~” But the overall impression I’m starting to get from the show as it goes on is “Oh, we don’t mean GIRL gamers ha! ha! ha!” That’s super disheartening to me.

  • rugose-appendage

    I dropped My Hero Academia after the first 10 episodes, but later loved it when I picked it up again. (Ten episodes is definitely taking liberties with the definition of “premiere”.) I think it didn’t do such a good job of characterising its cast at the start as it did later on. But some AniFem editors gushed about S2 on Twitter, and now I’m loving how the ridiculous shounen fights are actually kinda relatable.

    • Gastón Trombotti

      Something I like about BNHA is that it lets the other characters beside Deku grow and do stuff with on their own. A lot of other shounen shows have the secondary characters just making time until the main character shows up to end the fight

  • JohnClark
    • ImaniToo

      If you don’t mind, would you share what made it a favourite? I think I tried this one if Kizumonogatari is the first instalment. I lasted about 15 minutes or so. I gritted my teeth past this scene but could not stay past the first conversation. It appeared to be nothing more than stereotypical male wish fulfilment and I had to bail.

      • 0utf0xZer0

        I’d rank Bakemonogatari in particular as my third favourite anime after EF: A Tale of Memories (which has a leg up because my girlfriend was cosplaying a character from it when we met) and Hyouka.

        Bakemonogatari is the first installment and came out in 2009, 2016’s Kizumonogatari is a prequel
        released after multiple sequel anime (due to development hell, Kizu is actually one of the earlier novels). Bake opens with a clip show of events from Kizu including a bullet time panty shot that became iconic, Kizu’s version is extremely audacious attempt to one up it.

        IMO the franchise’s success is built on a combination of indulgence (of which the fanservice is part) and sophistication, with the balance between the two varying wildly from arc to arc. Some of the arcs tone the fanservice back drastically, adopt the POV of a female character, or both. Others… not so much.

        Kizu’s opening 15 minutes are not the best demonstration of this. If you want to understand the show’s without being driven insane by the more grating elements I’d suggest the opening two episodes of Bakemonogatari. It’s the original, it left a deeper impression on me than the others (Hitagi Senjoughara ranks among the most memorable anime characters for me, despite not being my “type”), and both the indulgence and sophistication are on display in a way that I reckon is far less grating than in some other arcs. And if you can’t spare 50 minutes this youtube rant actually provides a pretty decent overview of why it works in about a minute:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzocnfLccs8&t=314s
        (relevant section at 3:17 to 4:24)

  • Snap Wilson

    Yona Of The Dawn had a fairly good first three episodes or so, including a flashback episode that was positively heartbreaking given the current events of the show) before somebody decided that the main character’s primary male companion wasn’t acting like enough of a lovesick creeper, and the object of her affection (who wound up killing her father) was suddenly played like a dimwit for laughs. I bailed.

    • Caitlin

      You’re missing out on probably the best action-adventure shoujo series of the decade. Seriously.
      Does Hak act like an asshole early on? Absolutely. He’s trying to scare Yona off from following him and posturing as a creepy dude. It’s not really okay, but he stops pretty shortly afterward. From there, it’s mostly him struggling with wanting to keep Yona as the princess who needs protecting, while she’s working to become a warrior who can care for herself. Hak, like Yona herself, has a lot of room to grow and receives a lot of development! He’s always a snarky asshole and completely in love with Yona, don’t get me wrong, but not in a gross way.
      Su-Won’s airhead act is just that: an act. It suits him strategically for certain people not to take him seriously or consider him a real threat. Trust me, the cogs are turning inside his head.
      I really encourage you to give it another shot. The whole series really impressed me.

  • Lossthief

    This season’s biggest disappointment (so far) is definitely Ballroom for me. While I wasn’t wowed by the first episode, it seemed like a decent setup for a sports series, and I was interested in seeing such a different sport animated with the kind of energy that Haikyu!! had.

    But sin then it’s been stumbling pretty steadily downhill. On a technical level it’s still nice, but I never feel like I really have a sense of the characters’ movement or physicality when they’re dancing. Most of all I just really, really hate Sengoku. He’s a pretty terrible teacher who doesn’t get called off on his actions nearly enough, and the way he treats Shizuku, his main female student, is just downright insulting. I’m not to the point of dropping it yet, but I’m way less excited to see the rest now.

    My first drop of the season right now is Love & Lies, which I didn’t exactly have high hopes for, but I was thinking it could at least be entertaining melodrama from the premise. Instead it was just really rote, boring romance with the blandest blank slate of a main character I’ve seen in ages. I dipped out after the secondary love interest spent an entire conversation in only her underwear.

    I don’t know that I’d call it a good surprise, but I did end up picking A Centaur’s Life back up after ducking out of the premiere. It’s still got all the problems and questionable content from that first episode, but it’s….interesting? I guess that’s the most neutral word for it. It’s dealing with some decidedly weird subject matter in some head-scratching ways, but I’m never bored watching it. Confused, baffled, and maybe a little shocked, but never bored! That’s worth something, I guess.

  • Violet CLM

    Before I started watching Higurashi, I knew that it was told across multiple arcs. This quickly came as a relief, since it suggested the characters in the first episode were so boring because they would quickly be disposed of and replaced with new sets of characters.

    (I was wrong. They grew on me a bit, but still the story in that show is more interesting than the characters.)

    Yuru Yuri‘s first two episodes do a great job of setting the scene for most of the jokes in the show and introducing all the main characters, but it’s striking, in retrospect, how much more sexual they are than every other episode. Some of the remaining creepier elements are also deemphasized fairly quickly even in the rest of season 1.

    I initially dropped Girls und Panzer partway through episode 1 because it was taking too long on the girls side of the equation, but eventually picked it back up again… turns out the action just took a little bit to get started, that’s all.

  • ImaniToo

    1. Kill la Kill made my heart race in pleasure in the first half then slow to despair in the second half. I’ve never experienced such highs and lows. I am trying to create reasons to watch past episode 2. The tipping point was the accumulation of revealing costumes and gratuitous camera work from ep 1 and 2. The characters, story and action were everything I could ask for but I got so tired of having to grit my teeth past the objectification made at the female characters’ expense. Why, as an action show lover, do I always, always have to compromise. It happened in the latest Re:Creators ep as well — if it remains on the wordy tell not show end, one more gratuitous shot will tip me out. It’s exhausting.

    2. I picked up MHA after I heard/read the 2nd season raves. Totally worth it. The male characters remain the focus but they creators them all intriguing enough that they writers would have to do a lot to spoil things. (Please don’t.)

    3. Casual objectification of underwritten female characters that’s 100% male gaze in a weak story. I watched the first Rage of Bahamut season despite Amira’s and Joan of Arc’s disappointing arcs because they both had strong, intriguing starts, among a strong cast in general. In Ballroom, we barely get to know Shizuku before the writers let you know that they consider her to be little more than a chess piece in the man’s world of ballroom dancing, complete with the, “Ooops, caught you half-naked” scene. When there’s not much else happening around that but a by the numbers sports anime with occasional animation highlights why bother.

    4. I don’t go in blind lol. I depend on AniFem and ANN to navigate new season offerings.

  • Ayal92

    I had high hopes for Welcome to the Ballroom but it has really disappointed me. Shizuku is treated awfully, Sengoku is disgusting, I was promised there wouldn’t be cliche romance but lo and behold, cliche romance appeared as soon as episode 2 and I’m still not sure if the chubby teacher is a representation of body diversity or “look at this fatso”.

    My dealbreakers are blatant sexism, romantic subplots and moe art style and/or fanservice-y clothes in female characters when the male characters are drawn realistically.

    I prefer to have an idea of what the show is about before watching it. Better getting a bit spoiled than finding myself in a gore festival all of sudden.

  • Gastón Trombotti

    Re:Creators is a show that has an interesting premise and then the episodes proceeded to bore me. It’s still ruing and I haven’t checked out if the story picked up or something but the first few episodes where rely slow with just some glimpses of the promise

  • Atari

    Osomatsu-san and Touken Ranbu Hanamaru were two shows that had excellent first (and second in the case of Hanamaru) episodes but then changed either tone or focus to the point I ended dropping them. I’ve heard a lot of praise for Osomatsu-san, but the humor the show used after episode 1 got widely censored didn’t really work for me so I saw no point in continuing it. Touken Ranbu’s first two episodes satisfied my inner rekijo deeply, especially the episode focused on the Oda Nobunaga swords, but later on it dropped most of the references to the swords’ histories in favor of boring slice on life and constant hammering of “these swords really love the (audience self-insert) master a lot!!!!” which took me out of any possible engagement.

    Although I haven’t dropped it yet, Ballroom is also my biggest disappointment of the season (and that’s saying a lot considering I was looking forward to Vatican Bros like, unironically), even if I wasn’t particularly wowed by its premiere. The story and delivery is pretty dull, Tatara doesn’t really offer anything unique as a protagonist (Onoda from Yowapeda has him beat on the whole ‘smiling while sports-ing’ with a plus of magical girl song power-up), Sengoku is literal garbage and I hope he jumps off a cliff, the dancing “animation” leaves much to be desired, and most importantly, with every passing episode, the treatment of the female characters becomes more and more concerning. We started with a pretty strong-willed, no-nonsense Shizuku who occassionally showed a fun or sassy side, and four episodes later we’re left with this silent pretty doll that just gets passed around from one man to another without anyone caring for what she wants. She is featured prominently in episode six and yet has not a single line of dialogue. The same episode includes the men one-sidedly deciding on possibly switching partners without any input from the women they would be switching around. The guys could be dancing solo for all the importance they give to the girls.

    As for where I draw the line… I guess it depends a lot. So far I’ve strictly refused to watch Cross Ange because of what I’ve heard of its use and treatment of sexual abuse even though I’ve been pressured to give it a chance repeatedly. OTOH I watched the entirety of No Game No Life, also due to another person’s insistence, a show that, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have even checked out, and were it not for this other person’s insistence I would’ve dropped immediately (then I went on to have a sort-of fight with the person who questioned my ‘incoherent standards’ claiming Haikyuu had the same complexity and character depth -or lack thereof- as NGNL-). To be honest I’m not sure of where I draw the line, I think it’s easier for me to drop a show that bores me than one that offends me, but I also generally avoid shows that get pegged for blatantly offensive content (i.e. the aforementioned Cross Ange). I guess it’s a case by case situation.