This fall brings passion projects by big-name creators, long-awaited adaptations, and some unexpected surprises!
Which shows do you review?
We don’t review shows that are direct sequels, shorts, or for very young children. 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. That left the team with a whopping 30 titles over two weeks and change. Because it won’t be made available until the 21st, Komi Can’t Communicate will be added to the digest retroactively.
While shows may change category as they continue to air, for ease of reference this is the order that will be used when discussing shows on our midseason and wrap-up podcasts.
How do you write the reviews?
Mercedez, Lizzie, Vrai, and Alex tackled the season together, with Chiaki and Dee popping in to pinch hit. The titles were divided by each reviewer’s preferred workload and choice. Caitlin pitches in on the Anime News Network Preview Guide, 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.
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!
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. We also tweaked the name of our “Harmless Fun” category recently, as that name failed to encompass titles like To Your Eternity, which aren’t notably progressive or harmful but also don’t really count as “fun.”
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!
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 2021 Premiere Chart for the legal streaming sites carrying each series. Check to see if a show is available in your region!
Fall 2021 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.
Premieres that so far seem to be addressing progressive ideas or themes and executing them competently. Please check individual reviews for more detailed content warnings.
- The Heike Story (Episodes 1-5): A gorgeous adaptation of a historical war epic with a strong focus on the domestic sphere of family life and women’s positions in Heian-era Japan.
- Ranking of Kings (Episode 1): Retro-style fantasy series focusing on a gentle-hearted Deaf prince who faces stigma as a candidate for king both because of his disability and because he isn’t considered “manly.”
Similar to the above category, but in addition to all those possible feminist themes, the show may be biting off more than it can chew or in danger of fumbling its chosen themes.
- Blue Period (Episode 1): Hobby-style anime about teen artists embracing their authentic selves and striving toward art school; major sympathetic trans character who is repeatedly deadnamed.
- Komi Can’t Communicate (Episodes 1-2): Sweet rom-com about a former chuuni helping a socially anxious girl make friends; includes LGBTQ+ representation that’s both well-meant and a bit of a mess.
- The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window (Episodes 1-3): Tragically hideous adaptation of a beloved BL ghost-hunting series; the exorcism powers lean heavily on consent and assault metaphors; while the series appears to frame one lead’s possessiveness of the other as deliberate horror, it’s difficult to predict if that will carry through.
- Taisho Otome Fairy Tale (Episodes 1-2): A charmingly sincere historical rom-com that walks a tightrope between “two marginalized people finding comfort with each other” and “perfect wife fixes sad disabled boy with love,” and it’s just too early to know which direction it will fall.
Very little to warn folks about, but also not a ton of progressive ideas to chew on so far either.
- Banished From the Hero’s Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside (Episode 1): Fantasy series about a former knight trying to live a slow life; some cleavage-heavy character designs but nothing too disastrous in how it treats its female characters.
- Deep Insanity THE LOST CHILD (Episode 1): Clunky, ugly sci-fi about chasing down the source of a post-apocalyptic illness.
- Digimon Ghost Game (Episodes 1-2): Spooky, fresh and atmospheric new standalone entry in the franchise.
- The Faraway Paladin (Episode 1): A reincarnation isekai that clears the admittedly low bar of “not being gross about its child protagonist having an adult brain.”
- Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut (Episode 1): Fantastical Cold War AU about a human and a vampire falling in love during the Space Race.
- Lupin the Third: Part 6 (Episodes 0-1): Lupin meets Sherlock in an entertaining addition to the long-running franchise that’s mostly harmless save for some brief Fujiko fanservice.
- Muteking the Dancing Hero (Episodes 1-3): Peppy, colorful tokusatsu with a diverse cast about fighting tech billionaires; has some simplistic “new technology bad, old technology good” undercurrents.
- SAKUGAN (Episodes 1-2): Father-daughter adventure series that so far screams “Made in Abyss meets Gurren Lagann without the sleazy bits.”
- Selection Project (Episode 1): Idol competition show with a chronically ill heroine.
- SHIKIZAKURA (Episode 1): CGI mech suit anime with a by-the-numbers feel.
- takt op.Destiny (Episodes 1-2): A gorgeously animated show about using the power of music to protect humanity, but the main characters just don’t have any spark.
- Tesla Note (Episode 1): CGI disasterpiece about a high school ninja and a theatrical spy.
- VISUAL PRISON (Episode 1): Gloriously camp battle royale amongst vampire idols.
- Waccha PriMagi! (Episode 1): A by-the-numbers but wholesome magical girl series directed by a Sailor Moon alumnus.
Premieres that weren’t actively hateful at the premise level, but still raised some noteworthy caveats or concerns.
- Muv-Luv Alternative (Episode 1): Gratuitous hyperviolence and twisted alien designs aren’t necessarily ill-fitting in a gritty sci-fi war story, but visually disturbing. The sexualized pilot suits women wear in the show betray Muv-Luv’s adult visual novel pedigree, but very little else of that baggage seems to carry over.
- My Senpai is Annoying (Episode 1): A competent office rom-com that unfortunately has a protagonist that looks like a child, plus some boob fanservice.
- PuraOre! ~Pride of Orange~ (Episode 1): A show about ice hockey and idols wrapped into one; mostly just confusing, but has some tasteless “female coach living vicariously through her cute young students” jokes that don’t bode particularly well.
- RUMBLE GARANNDOLL (Episode 1): Mecha series about oppressed otaku fighting the militaristic government; has some annoying subtext where the female lead is the “battery” for the male lead’s mech.
- The vampire dies in no time (Episodes 1-3): Slapstick comedy about a vampire hunter and his paper-tissue-tough vampire assistant; later episodes include a transphobic sight gag and a predatory gay character.
A whole lotta yikes.
- AMAIM Warrior at the Borderline (Episode 1): A mostly by-the-numbers mech series whose setting is predicated on the idea that immigrants infiltrated Japan to take it over.
- The Fruit of Evolution: Before I Knew it, My Life Had it Made (Episode 1): Another fanservice-heavy power fantasy isekai; soul-crushingly dull and unfunny.
- Mieruko-chan (Episodes 1-2): A horror-comedy blend intent on sticking the camera up the heroine’s butt
- The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat (Episodes 1-2): Enjoyably stylish but keeps intruding with fanservice of very young characters.
Pit of Shame
These shows need to go to their room and think about what they’ve done.
- Platinum End (Episode 1): Latest venture from the Death Note creators with every ounce of misogynistic edgelordery you might expect.
Editor’s Note: This article was edited after publication to move Komi Can’t Communicate from “Neutral Zone” up to “It’s Complicated”