The new year brought us a quiet season with some hidden gems and stellar rom-coms.
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 22 shows over a mere seven days. Late releases such as Salaryman’s Club 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.
How do you write the reviews?
Mercedez, Lizzie, Vrai, Alex, Chiaki and Dee took an even split of shows this season. 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.
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 Winter 2022 Premiere Chart for the legal streaming sites carrying each series. Check to see if a show is available in your region!
Winter 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.
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.
- SABIKUI BISCO (Episode 1): Confidently weird sci-fi dystopia featuring fantastical climate apocalypse, pandemics, income inequality, and government corruption; it’s rife with potential for social commentary but unclear if it will focus on that or mostly be about cool fights; several female characters wear revealing outfits but the camera doesn’t leer.
- Sasaki and Miyano (Episode 1): A high school boys’ love (BL) rom-com about a boy who loves reading BL and his friend who has a crush on him; it’s a light touch, but it does contain undercurrents challenging gender norms, heteronormativity, and BL stereotypes.
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.
- My Dress-Up Darling (Episode 1): Rom-com about two good kids bonding over sewing and cosplay; explicitly pushes back against gendering hobbies but includes a fair amount of (mostly character POV) fanservice.
- Requiem of the Rose King (Episode 1): Gothic shoujo reimagining of Shakespeare centering on an intersex Richard III. Hits big on dysphoria and gender feels but has multiple shortcomings (please see the review for details).
- Tokyo 24th Ward (Episode 1): Three would-be heroes gain computer-gifted superpowers and argue about the best way to solve crime and inequality; brings up police violence and targeting of marginalized groups but could easily slip into “both sides”-ism; so far the female characters are all caretakers or damsels.
Very little to warn folks about, but also not a ton of progressive ideas to chew on so far either.
- Cue! (Episode 1): Chill, low-stakes idol-adjacent series about aspiring voice actresses.
- Futsal Boys!!!!! (Episode 1): A sports anime that fails to score, or make much of an impact at all.
- Orient (Episode 1): Standard shounen anime about childhood friends wanting to become warriors in order to liberate humanity from their demon overlords.
- She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man (Episode 1): Stiff-looking MMO isekai where a man is reborn as a cute girl rather than his grizzled character.
- The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest (Episode 1): Another generic isekai about an overpowered boy with his two friends wanting to become powerful warriors.
- Tribe Nine (Episode 1): Dystopian future gangs solve disputes with Extreme Baseball; includes isolated moments of disturbing imagery.
Premieres that weren’t actively hateful at the premise level, but still raised some noteworthy caveats or concerns.
- The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Episode 1): Fantasy “comedy” about a smarmy monarch that treats his peasant subjects as disposable pawns, celebrating his absolute power rather than offering any kind of critique.
- Girls’ Frontline (Episode 1): In a sci-fi future, gun-toting androids shaped like cute and sexy girls wage war. Skimpy character designs and the glorification/fetishization of literal killing machines make this a sometimes dissonant action series.
- In the Land of Leadale (Episode 1): Mostly a laidback reincarnation isekai but the premise involves “curing” the heroine of her disability.
- Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated as a Fantasy Knockout (Episode 1): Isekai about two guys, one reborn as a girl, fighting a supposed (and probably nonexistent) curse that makes them attracted to one another. The jokes waver between gender feels and potential homo/transphobia.
- Miss KUROITSU from the Monster Development Department (Episode 1): Workcom about the R&D unit creating sentai monsters; one monster has a man’s brain in a woman’s body (which distresses him) and is the subject of frequent fanservice.
- Rusted Armors (Episode 1): A terrible CG show about the sengoku period and doesn’t even care about the plot.
- SLOW LOOP (Episode 1): A slow-paced hobby show that’s just not as cozy or as engaging as others in the genre, and more importantly, seems to be setting up ship-teases between a pair of stepsiblings.
A whole lotta yikes.
- Akebi’s Sailor Uniform (Episode 1): A lushly animated but voyeuristic series about middle school girls (…and their feet).
- Love of Kill (Episode 1): Alleged rom-com that involves a hitman blackmailing a bounty hunter into dating him and being a general creep.
Pit of Shame
These shows need to go to their room and think about what they’ve done.
- Police in a Pod (Episode 1): Cop comedy with a focus on exercising petty authority, its source material is written explicitly as a recruitment tool by a former cop.
- World’s End Harem (Episode 1): Non-softcore porn about a global pandemic and how one dude must pass on his immunity by having sex with hundreds of “willing” women.
Editor’s Note (1/15/22): This article was edited after publication to add clarifying content notes