2021 Summer Premiere Digest

By: Anime Feminist July 21, 20210 Comments
Ai and Sarasa from Kageki Shoujo dressed as Marie and Oscar from Rose Versailles against a background of roses

This summer’s a strange one, with a few particular standouts and several shows coming late to the party. Let’s see what’s happening!

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 22 titles over about two weeks. This season’s late entries—The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace, The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!, and Fena: Pirate Princess—will be reviewed individually once they air and discussed on the seasonal podcasts.

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 boy at his desk reading manga. subtitle: Study! and more manga!

How do you write the reviews?

Mercedez, Lizzie, Vrai, and Alex tackled the season together, with Chiaki popping in to pinch hit. 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.

A young woman looking cranky and confused at a laptop
Godzilla Singular Point

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!

A man and a strange bunny like girl in a sailor fuku fist bump as a blonde haired girl sits between them.
Peach Boy Riverside

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 this season, 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!

a student sitting at a desk looking at holographic cubes. subtitle: it's positively strange. I can't explain this phenomenon.
Sonny Boy

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

Summer 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.

  • The Aquatope on White Sand (Episodes 1-2): Stars two well-characterized female leads bonding over their shared motivation to protect an aquarium; may or may not be yuri.
  • Kageki Shojo!! (Episodes 1-3): Story of girls at a Takarazuka-inspired drama school that touches on sexism and trauma, including fatphobia and child sexual assault.
  • Sonny Boy (Episode 1): Horror-tinged isekai exploring authoritarianism and social conformity.

Neutral Zone

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

  • D_Cide Traumerei the Animation (Episode 1): A stylish CG anime about a confused teenage boy trying to figure out the mystery of his brother’s death while also fighting monsters with his new abilities.
  • Godzilla Singular Point (Episode 1): A new anime incarnation of the classic monster franchise with a fun cast.
  • Night Head 2041 (Episode 1): Psychic SFF meets a world where thinking about anything not grounded in fact is illegal. Too bad this premiere is ultimately boring, despite the hints of fascinating world building within.
  • RE-MAIN (Episodes 1-2): A fun and bittersweet story of a high school boy recovering from a car accident and dealing with his amnesia while trying to remember his love for water polo. Brief depictions of harassment and stalking from his future teammates that falls off quickly.
  • Remake Our Life! (Episode 1): An exhausted twenty-something gets a second chance at happiness when he wakes up a decade younger; has the makings of a really great show, but might just end up as “live the life you want” wish fulfillment, which is perfectly okay. 
  • Scarlet Nexus (Episode 1): An extremely okay video game adaptation about a generic boy protecting people from strange organisms called “Others.”
  • Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles (Episode 1): An isekai about another wunderkind who may or may not wind up with a harem. He fights good. Completely inoffensive, but also not that inspirational.

Yellow Flags

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

  • The Case Study of Vanitas (Episodes 1-3): Homoerotic steampunk vampire shenanigans; extremely gross nonconsensual kiss in episode 3 and some potentially uncomfortable “collaring” imagery on the one brown character.
  • The Detective is Already Dead (Episode 1): A confused show that isn’t sure it wants to be a mystery or a romantic comedy starring a middle school boy who whines a lot and stares at his co-lead’s butt; mild nudity and graphic violence.
  • Drug Store in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist (Episode 1): Zany comedy about isekai shenanigans that devotes much of its first episode to sexist “crazy girlfriend” jokes.
  • The Duke of Death and His Maid (Episode 1): Sometimes poignant romance about a man who can’t touch the woman he loves, but her “teasing” him wanes into harassment frequently; mild fanservice.
  • The Dungeon of Black Company (Episode 1): A mediocre premiere that firmly believes Capitalism is best, with a protagonist who’s deeply unlikable and a dragon monster girl that needs some clothes.
  • Girlfriend, Girlfriend (Episode 1): On paper it’s a neat polyamorous rom-com, but the jokes rely heavily on Comedy Abuse and pressuring one partner repeatedly out of her comfort zone.
  • How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom (Episode 1): Another subpar isekai about a male protagonist being instantly competent enough to govern a kingdom; colonialist undertones.
  • Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan (Episode 1): Has all the makings of a genuinely funny dark comedy about adults trying to survive and thrive… if it grows the plot past Uramichi misanthropically making jokes about hating life to the children in his care.
  • Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- (Episode 1): A comedy isekai that’s a bit mean-spirited but mostly harmless—until it uses the words “master” and “slave.” It’s a different context than our own real-world history, but still feels unnecessary in an otherwise solid premiere.

Red Flags

A whole lotta yikes.

  • Battle Game in 5 Seconds (Episode 1): Battle royale anime with heavy fanservice and poor treatment of its female cast.
  • Peach Boy Riverside (Episode 1): Moments of hyperviolence and gratuitous fanservice take what would probably be a “Yellow Flag” show into Red territory in an otherwise mildly interesting European spin on a Japanese folk tale.

Pit of Shame

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

  • The Honor Student at Magic High School (Episode 1): All incestual pinning, no substance, with a go-nowhere premiere that requires heaps of investment in the main series to even remotely like it. The few bits of worldbuilding and magic we get aren’t enough to save this one.

Anime was a Mistake

We had to make a whole category for pedophilia and slavery apologia, and this is it.

Editor’s Note: This article was edited after publication to add Battle Game in 5 Seconds and tweak the placement of Realist Hero.

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