2020 Fall Premiere Digest

By: Anime Feminist October 14, 20200 Comments
A pink-haired young man holds out his arms and smiles wide. Behind him it says "Upper" on each side in a bright comic-book-style font

If Summer was thin, then Fall’s made up for it by being absolutely packed to the gills with titles of every stripe!

Which shows do you review? 

We don’t review shows that are direct sequels, shorts, or for young children–although this season featured two “not really but sort of” sequel-spinoffs that tested that rule. Anything not licensed and/or immediately available is off the table as well, though we do our best to offer premiere reviews for “Netflix jail” shows once they become legally available.

Because this season included a lot of titles rescheduled from Spring, we reviewed a staggering 25 titles over two weeks. Fall titles that were not available when this post was put together will be added in later.

Raizel dramatically uncapping a pen

How do you write the reviews?

This season, new staffers Mercedez, Alex, and Lizzie jumped onto the review scene alongside Vrai, Dee, and Chiaki (and did a pretty great job, if we say so ourselves!). The titles were divided evenly and by the reviewer’s choice. Caitlin pitched in on the Anime News Network Preview Guide this season, so you can see her take on the new shows over there.

Once we have more funding, we’d like to change our current model to provide a wider range of perspectives on more episodes. We’re a long way from that goal, but it’s been a personal wish of ours since launch and we hope to make it happen someday.

Leo stands with his arms raised, looking confident. He his shirtless and wearing a sports bra above very toned abs.
The Gymnastics Samurai

What do your reviews focus on? 

This varies by writer to some extent (some of us are more focused on visuals, others on narrative, and so forth), but as a feminist site it’s of course essential that we raise any issues of feminist interest.

When you read an AniFem review, you’re likely to learn about female character designs, queer representation, analogies to real-world marginalization, and so on. If you think we missed something, please comment under the review and let us know!

Close up of a girl surrounded by sparkles. Subtitle text reads: "Th-that's an amazing talent!"
Talentless Nana

Why do you categorize them?

The purpose of these reviews is to give you, our readers, information to help you decide if you want to try a show. There’s greater access to anime than ever before, and we want to help you find series you can truly love, without wasting your time on a show that contains an automatic deal-breaker, be that fanservice, homophobia, the sexualization of children, and so on.

Individuals can find value in any series, and we will never lead a boycott of a particular show, but we want to make it easier for you to get the most out of your limited time. In our digest, feminist-relevant themes and ideas take precedence, with overall narrative quality coming second and personal preference a distant(ish) third.

Premieres that seem to contain progressive themes are at the highest end and those featuring regressive ideas (or out-and-out hatefulness) are at the lowest. We expect some disagreement and welcome debate, so if you have any objections to our lists then by all means let us know in the comments!

Yuzaki Nasa giving a thumbs up as he promises to exceed his namesake and soar beyond the stars.
TONIKAWA: Over the Moon for You

I found a show I’m interested in! Where can I watch it?

This will vary depending on where you live, but you can browse Yatta-Tachi’s Fall 2020 Premiere Chart for the legal streaming sites carrying each series. Check to see if a show is available in your region!

The girls of the Hanamiya Climbing Club!
Iwa Kakeru! Sports Climbing Girls

Fall 2020 Premiere Digest

The following titles are organized by categories, then alphabetically. Note that, because of the way premiere dates are staggered, we’ve had the chance to watch multiple episodes of some series. To give you a fuller picture of how much information we were working with when creating these rankings, we’ve marked how many episodes of each show we’ve seen.

Feminist potential

Premieres that so far seem to be addressing progressive ideas or themes without also having any significant caveats we need to tell readers about.

  • The Gymnastics Samurai (Episode 1): An eclectic blend of sports drama, gentle father/daughter tale, and wacky comedy; one character is an undocumented immigrant; hints at possible explorations of queerness in future episodes. 
  • Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle (Episodes 1-2): Comedy series with a trash heroine that pokes fun at and occasionally subverts fantasy and fairy tale archetypes, especially those surrounding the damsel in distress.
  • Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon (Episodes 1-2): Next-gen follow-up to Inuyasha with three female leads and a focus on estranged sisters; includes discussions about gender roles.

It’s… complicated

Similar to the above category, but in addition to all those possible feminist themes, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.

  • Adachi and Shimamura (Episode 1): Slow-burn yuri romance between two disaffected delinquents. The camera loves to linger on the characters’ legs, a gaze at odds with the otherwise whimsical and sweet tone of the show.
  • Akudama Drive (Episode 1): A cyberpunk dystopia action spectacle that seems to be critiquing the criminal justice system but also features a fanservice-heavy femme fatale character and possible racial stereotyping.
  • MAGATSU WAHRHEIT (Episode 1): Fantasy Oppression narrative about wealth inequality and fighting a totalitarian state; only one female character, crew usually writes harem shows.
  • Iwa Kakeru! Sports Climbing Girls (Episodes 1-2): A lady-led sports anime focused on rock climbing that lays the foundation for a solid narrative about female friendship and teamwork—too bad episode 2 features a predatory lesbian and an assault “joke.”
  • Love Live! Nijigasaki School Idol Club (Episodes 1-2): Two girls realize their passion for idols only to find out that their school idol club is being disbanded; while the usual caveats about idol stories apply, there’s solid potential for a thoughtful, earnest story about embracing femininity and cuteness as powerful, positive traits.
  • Talentless Nana (Episodes 1-2): A superhero school story with a twist. The premise involves “wiping out” a particular group of people, which could break good or bad depending on how (or if) the protagonist interrogates this mission going forward.
  • Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina (Episodes 1-2): An episodic travelogue about one young woman’s growth into both her power and legacy as a globetrotting witch; episode 2 features a sympathetic queer character; sometimes fumbled depictions of abusive or imbalanced relationships.

Harmless fun

Very little to warn folks about, but also not a ton of progressive ideas to chew on so far either.

  • By the Grace of the Gods (Episode 1): The problem is, almost nothing happened so there’s nothing that really makes this praiseworthy nor deserving of condemnation.
  • The Day I Became a God (Episode 1): A young girl claiming to be a god tells a teenage boy the world is ending, hijinks ensue; some weird jokes about “dating” the child, unclear if the show will be about pursuing a girl who’s turned him down.
  • Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (Episode 1): A fun adventure show with a nostalgic ‘90s atmosphere about a kid who wants to be a hero.
  • I’m Standing on a Million Lives (Episodes 1-2): Video game isekai that challenges the male lead’s terrible traits and contains minimal fanservice.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode 1-2): A high school teen stumbles into a world full of cursed spirits; the main female character appears at the end of episode 2, but it’s still too early to know how the series will portray her.
  • Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (Episode 1): A light-hearted VRMMO isekai about an overpowered girl in a bear kigurumi costume.
  • Maesetsu! Opening Act (Episode 1): Painfully unfunny show about standup comedy; infantilized character designs.
  • Moriarty the Patriot (Episode 1): Sherlock’s rival solves crimes and metes out vigilante justice. The first case involves CSA, implied offscreen.
  • TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You (Episodes 1-2): Cute-girl meets cute-boy meets Truck-kun in a sweet, fluffy rom-com with a plot that hints at supernatural elements. The gender dynamics are somewhat old-fashioned and episode 2 almost involves non-consensual kissing, but thankfully pulls back at the last moment.
  • Warlords of Sigrdrifa (Episodes 1-2): A sci-fi war story with strong action sequences about a group of likable (albeit somewhat archetypal and cutesy) female aviators. Plays up the air force as a band of lovable oafs, which might be aimed at softening attitudes toward the military.

Yellow flags

Premieres that weren’t actively hateful, but still raised some noteworthy caveats or concerns.

  • Dropout Idol Fruit Tart (Episode 1): A fluffy idol show soured by the way it jokes about the teen characters’ lack of agency; features Boob Nonsense.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry – NEW (Episodes 1-2): Both a sequel and a reboot of the story about a cursed village; episode 2 reveals a twist of the first series; gore, light fanservice. 
  • HYPNOSISMIC -Division Rap Battle- Rhyme Anima (Episode 1-2): Shaping up to be the comedy of the year, this over-the-top musical is so ridiculous that it’s often easy to forget the sexism built into its premise and the whiff of cultural appropriation that permeates some of its rap lyrics; this is not helped by one of the show’s actors very recently taking photos in blackface.
  • Ikebukuro West Gate Park (Episode 1): A show about gangs and cops helping the protagonist solve mysteries in Ikebukuro that wants to be cool, but is mostly just dull.
  • King’s Raid: Successors of the Will (Episode 1): A boilerplate European-style fantasy series with the same tired, flawed fantasy racism metaphors that have plagued the genre for decades.
  • Noblesse (Episode 1): An escaped genetic experiment falls in with a rich immortal who runs a school; stereotypical villain designs and backgrounded women, but mostly just dull and ugly.

Red flags

A whole lotta yikes.

  • Assault Lily: Bouquet (Episodes 1-2): Teenage girls fight giant robots. The camera loves their thighs, and the fanservice and predatory behavior towards the protagonist (played for laughs and titillation) amps up in episode 2.
  • Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World (Episode 1): A pretty average Romeo and Juliet story that would have been largely forgettable except for the constant fanservice.

Editor’s Note: This article was edited after publication to add digest links for The Day I Became a God, MAGATSU WAHRHEIT and Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club and additional details for HYPNOSISMIC and Wandering Witch.

We Need Your Help!

We’re dedicated to paying our contributors and staff members fairly for their work—but we can’t do it alone.

You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and every single penny goes to the people and services that keep Anime Feminist running. Please help us pay more people to make great content!

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

%d bloggers like this: