2022 Spring Premiere Digest

By: Anime Feminist April 15, 20220 Comments
shikimori holding up two potential outfits, one masculine and one feminine

Spring brings a bustling bouquet of promising series!

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. This has been an unusually short premiere season, and so the team was tasked with reviewing a whopping 25 shows over ten days. Summertime Rendering is currently only streaming on Disney+ in Japan and will be reviewed when it’s made available elsewhere. Due to its later release date, A Couple of Cuckoos will be reviewed separately.

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.

Closeup of a tan-skinned elf with long white hair giving a thumbs up to the camera. Subtitle text reads: Don't worry! My hopes were low from the start!
Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer!

How do you write the reviews?

Mercedez, Vrai, Alex, and Dee took an even split of shows with Chiaki stepping into pinch-hit, while Lizzie took the season off to tackle real-world responsibilities. 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.

Hiyori grinning and saluting with a phone up to her ear
Heroines Run the Show

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!

Anya points at a TV with an image that says "Spy Wars." Anya says "I like this show."

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 girl holding out a form to sign, flanked by two other girls, a robot, and a wolfman
ESTAB LIFE: Great Escape

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 2022 Premiere Chart for the legal streaming sites carrying each series. Check to see if a show is available in your region!

Spring 2022 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.

  • Dance Dance Danseur (Episode 1): Ballet series with a male lead struggling against gendered expectations and toxic masculinity.
  • Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness (Episode 1): A grounded found-family story that subverts the typical “distant father/sweet daughter” gender dynamic and engages kindly with the topics of trauma, support networks, and self-care.
  • Heroines Run the Show (Episode 1): Very shoujo-feeling coming-of-age series about an athletic girl who becomes an idol manager to pay rent.
  • Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie (Episode 1): Rom-com about a girl protecting a boy that explicitly addresses and rejects many gender role expectations in cishet relationships.

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.

  • BIRDIE WING — Golf Girls Story — (Episode 1): Gets props for being a female-led sports series starring (scarily) competent adults, but runs the risk of mishandling heavy themes in the midst of its high-octane action.
  • The Executioner and Her Way of Life (Episodes 1-2): Yuri isekai about an assassin tasked with killing otherworlders; includes a clingy/obsessive subordinate but a fairly subdued example, feels balanced on an edge between moving and edgelordy
  • Fanfare of Adolescence (Episode 1-2): Horse-racing series that just might tackle the dehumanizing terrors of the idol industry and the pressures placed on female athletes in male-dominated fields… or might just end up being ship-teasy.

Neutral Zone

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

  • Aharen-san wa Hakarenai (Episodes 1-2): Laid-back comedy about a chill boy and a soft-spoken girl who struggles with social interactions; while the protagonists aren’t sexualized, the childish design of the female lead may be off-putting.
  • Aoashi (Episode 1): Solid soccer anime for fans of shouty shounen protagonists.
  • Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer! (Episode 1): A goofy fantasy comedy that has fun playing with genre conventions but doesn’t bring anything too groundbreaking to the table.
  • ESTAB LIFE: Great Escape (Episodes 1-2): Hypnotically weird dystopian sci-fi about girls who help their clients escape to better lives and explicitly rejects suicide as an escape.
  • Healer Girl (Episodes 1-2): Sweet-natured magical girl show about the healing power of music with an all-female cast; one girl’s (unreciprocated) crush on her teacher leans a little into uncomfortable stalker tropes.
  • I’m Quitting Heroing (Episode 1): Euro-inspired high fantasy that can’t decide if its protagonist is a comical trash boy or a sympathetic victim of injustice.
  • Love After World Domination (Episode 1): Strictly by-the-numbers but dependable rom-com comfort food with an enemies-to-lovers angle.
  • Love All Play (Episode 1): Perfectly acceptable boys’ high school badminton show. 
  • Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost (Episode 1): As long as you’re not thinking too hard about the socio-economic implications of the premise, it’s mostly just a one-note chill-out show about an idealized toddler.
  • SPY x FAMILY (Episode 1): Blends spy action movie with family sit-com for an entertaining and surprisingly warm romp.
  • Thermae Romae Novae (Episode 1): Bath-time fun in Ancient Rome.
  • Ya Boy Kongming! (Episodes 1-2): Cheerful music mashup of “fish out of water” and “rise to stardom” with a famous Three Kingdoms figure.

Yellow Flags

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

  • The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody (Episode 1): Hard to judge as it’s mainly prologue for something else; plays a boy chasing a girl who repeatedly tells him to leave her alone as cute/funny.
  • RPG Real Estate (Episode 1): Work-com about fantasy realtors; fanservice, including of an extremely infantilized character.
  • Tomodachi Game (Episode 1): Murder game anime with a heavy focus on psychological horror; several offhanded comments about female characters’ panties or sexiness that may or may not increase in future.

Red Flags

A whole lotta yikes.

Pit of Shame

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

Editor’s Note (4/15/22) : This article was edited after posting to update the details about Summertime Rendering’s release schedule.

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