2021 Spring Premiere Digest

By: Anime Feminist April 16, 20210 Comments
Azusa and Laika from I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years

The latest shower of premieres brought us a huge bouquet of new shows to watch!

Which shows do you review? 

We don’t review shows that are direct sequels, shorts, or for 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 31 titles over the past two weeks.

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.

A red dragon sitting in front of a cottage. The owner of the cottage is staring up at it bewildered. Subtitle text reads: Um... what can I do for you?
I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level

How do you write the reviews?

While Chiaki took a much-needed break, Mercedez, Lizzie, Vrai, Dee, and Alex tackled the season together. The titles were divided by each reviewer’s preferred workload and 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.

Kanata and Shelley grasping hands in a shake
Battle Athletes Victory ReSTART!

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!

Gauma leans over a railing with his hand in a V-shape before his eye, while Yomogi and Yume look in, puzzled, behind him.

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!

A blonde girl hugging onto a pink-haired classmate, who is trying not to drop the cup in her hand. Subtitle text reads: Kindred spirit!
Let’s Make a Mug Too

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 Spring 2021 Premiere Chart for the legal streaming sites carrying each series. Check to see if a show is available in your region!

Spring 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.

Feminist Potential

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.

  • Farewell, My Dear Cramer (Episodes 1-2): A lady-led sports series with a focus on its characters’ soccer goals (ba-dum tish) that challenges the idea that women’s soccer is less competitive than men’s; also features an imperfect-but-earnest female mentor who wants to help shape the next generation.
  • Let’s Make a Mug Too (Episode 1): A hobby show with a surprising throughline about grief; all-female cast and a protagonist motivated to reconnect with the memory of her mother.

It’s… Complicated

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.

  • Battle Athletes ReSTART! (Episode 1): Reboot of a ‘90s sport series with a prominent disabled athlete and lots of yuri subtext, but also a looooot of butt shots
  • 86 EIGHTY-SIX (Episode 1): Spec-fic dystopia that juggles a lot of big ideas criticizing military abuse, classism, and homogenous societies, but its push for diversity suffers from only having one brown character who immediately dies.
  • Fairy Ranmaru (Episode 1): Fantasy about beefy magical boys swooping in to save women from their problems; heavy fanservice; fumbled handling of online harassment in ep 1; “it’s good to get mad” and dunking on the creepy side of moe in ep 2.
  • JORAN THE PRINCESS OF SNOW AND BLOOD (Episodes 1-3): “Hell if we know” might be a better category for this pulpy historical fantasy and spy revenge thriller starring a cast of flawed, powerful women. The series might be anti-fascist (or not); might center on diverse female relationships (or might lean into “madonna/whore” and “competitive vixen” archetypes); and it might include a genderqueer character (or not) who might also be super evil (or not). Mysteries abound! Later episodes include CWs for child sex trafficking (not shown) and the forced outing of a possibly genderqueer character.
  • ODDTAXI (Episodes 1-2): A slow-burn mystery series about an insomniac walrus taxi driver listening to his passengers’ personal problems while the police search for a missing high school girl. Heavy on conversations about modern society, especially art and Internet culture, though the commentary is a bit directionless so far; also hints of impending violence.
  • Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- (Episodes 1-2): While the protagonist is more strong-willed and layered than she initially seemed, it’s still unclear if this time-travel series about an A.I. singer will use its “android rights” storyline as a progressive or regressive metaphor (or if it will use it at all).
  • The World Ends With You: The Animation (Episode 1): This RPG adaptation about teaming up to survive in a parallel world rejects toxic self-reliance and promotes equal partnerships, though it needs to develop its main female character to avoid falling into a “saintly girl saves sad boy” pattern.

Harmless Fun

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

  • BACKFLIP!! (Episode 1): An earnest premiere that centers joy and the sport of men’s rhythmic gymnastics.
  • Blue Reflection Ray (Episode 1): A somewhat boring premiere that’s dull until it’s not that might appeal to fans of the genre looking for a slower pace show that might potentially become a bit more exciting.
  • Dragon Goes House Hunting (Episodes 1-2): A baby dragon, kicked out of home because he’s bad at being a dragon, must navigate the real estate market. Light-hearted comedy riffing on fantasy RPG tropes; mild fanservice from some topless harpies.
  • I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (Episode 1): A chill reincarnation isekai with an all-lady cast; quietly plagued by the “she looks like a cute teen girl but she’s really hundreds of years old!” trope.
  • The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent (Episode 1): Lady-led isekai about the “spare” summoned maiden making her own way in a new world; biggest crime is choppy pacing and a female lead isolated from other women.
  • SEVEN KNIGHTS REVOLUTION: Hero Successor (Episode 1): Fantasy and myth meet in an uninspired premiere that feels like a Tales of adaptation without the slick polish of that franchise.
  • SHADOWS HOUSE (Episode 1): An eerie, gorgeous gothic story about living dolls created to serve mysterious beings made of soot.
  • SSSS.DYNAZENON (Episode 1): A stylish mecha series where pensive character study meets giant robot dragon battles.
  • Super Cub (Episode 1): A thoughtful show about a girl and her new motorbike that touches on the intense loneliness of simply existing instead of truly living.
  • To Your Eternity (Episodes 1-2): An orb has been sent to observe life forms on Earth; as it develops its own identity the orb learns about a range of different human emotions. This show involves heavy focus on death, grief, and sacrifice.

Yellow Flags

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

  • BURNING KABADDI (Episodes 1-2): Series highlighting a normally denigrated South Asian sport (yay!); some homophobic jokes (boo!).
  • CESTVS -The Roman Fighter- (Episode 1): Technically centers on heavy topics like slavery and characters forced to fight to the death, but it’s told so poorly it’s kind of impossible to take seriously.
  • Combatants Will Be Dispatched! (Episode 1): A “comedy” isekai that spends too much time sexualizing every female character on the screen save for the deuteragonist, and ultimately, is a bit too slapdash in its execution.
  • Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway (Episode 1): Adult man meets teenage girl and makes the right choice to remind her that he’s an adult when he let’s her crash at his apartment in a premiere that has the potential to be more than the sum of its parts thus far… if it rises to the occasion. Warnings for sexualization of a minor, as deuteragonist Sayu is frequently leered at and shown partially nude in a few shots.
  • MARS RED (Episodes 1-2): Theatrical historical drama, but also there are vampires; just barely edged into “yellow flags” because its ratio of “dead” to “overall introduced female characters” sits at 2:3.
  • OSAMAKE: Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Won’t Lose (Episode 1): Its nice moments are drowned out by skeezy or annoying side characters and some real Nice Guy/Girl vibes in the “revenge” scheme.
  • Pretty Boy Detective Club (Episode 1): CLAMP School Detectives meets Monogatari in this premiere about a group of rich, middle school detectives who cause more problems than they do solve cases. Warnings for member Hyouta, whose legs are a regular topic of discussion in episode 1, especially when the camera needs something to leer at.
  • Those Snow White Notes (Episode 1-2): A teenage boy who loves to play the shamisen tries to find his “sound” again after the death of his grandfather. After a melodramatic premiere featuring an age-gap semi-romance, the show settles into focusing on family, school life, and music—although episode 2 does include slapstick of a mom hitting her son.
  • Tokyo Revengers (Episode 1): A time-traveling protagonist wants to save his ex-girlfriend and friends from a terrible fate so he travels back to his middle school days to change major events. There are concerns the ex-girlfriend is just going to be used as a plot device for the protagonist’s development with no characterization of her own.

Red Flags

A whole lotta yikes.

  • Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagataro (Episode 1): A rom-com that’s light on the romance, light on the comedy, but heavy on bullying and “teasing”, which just feels like more bullying. It might have potential to grow the plot in later episodes, but between the unnamed MC crying in episode 1 and his tormentor constantly being in his face, it’s none too certain.
  • Full Dive: This Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier than Real Life! (Episode 1): Protagonist gets conned into playing a ridiculously “realistic” VRMMO; heavy fanservice, including of the main character’s sister.

Pit of Shame

These shows need to go to their room and think about what they’ve done.

  • Koikimo (Episode 1): Adult man meets literal teenage girl win a show so full of red flags that whatever good exists is obscured by predatory behavior and a lack of awareness.

Editor’s Note (4/19/20): This was edited after publication to tweak the placement of To Your Eternity and to clarify what we meant by “caveat.”

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