2023 Spring Premiere Digest

By: Anime Feminist April 14, 20230 Comments
Ai and Ruby dancing

This is a season of meteoric highs and nightmare lows.

Which shows do you review? 

We don’t review shows that are direct sequels, shorts, or (generally) 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. Shows with late release dates will be reviewed separately from the digest.

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 mid-season and wrap-up podcasts. Please note that any shows released in batches/by cour rather than weekly will not be discussed on the mid-season podcast.

Koito and Elda standing against a spiralling backdrop. Their eyes are also turned into spirals and they both look giddy
Otaku Elf

How do you write the reviews?

Lizzie, Alex, Vrai and Toni split the majority of shows; since Cy is on medical sabbatical this season, Chiaki and Dee also stepped in to pinch hit. The titles were divided by each reviewer’s preferred workload and choice, tackling 30 titles in just 12 days.

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 Galaxy Next Door

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!

Ichikawa blushing and holding his face. "At least she wasn't creeped out"
The Dangers in My Heart

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, queerphobia, 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!

two cats grooming each other. I wanna quit my job, blow off all my responsibilities, and hang out with cats all day long!
Too Cute Crisis

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 2023 Premiere Chart for the legal streaming sites carrying each series. Check to see if a show is available in your region!

Spring 2023 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.

  • Skip and Loafer (Episode 1-2): Sweet coming-of-age story with an endearing, driven (and very anxious) female lead and a positively depicted trans guardian.
  • Yuri is My Job! (Episodes 1-2): Romance with a side of genre commentary/parody of Class S and “pure yuri” tropes led by an ambitious, savvy protagonist.

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.

  • Insomniacs After School (Episode 1): Might offer a frank discussion on mental health provided its heroine isn’t used to prop up the male protagonist’s arc.
  • Oshi no Ko (Episode 1): Searing critique of the entertainment industry shines through a problematic premise.

Neutral zone

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

  • A Galaxy Next Door (Episode 1): Storylines about art, overwork, and community support bounce up against a magic rom-com premise containing uneven power dynamics, but it works better than it should thanks to a strong focus on communication and consent.
  • Hell’s Paradise (Episode 1): Historical action-fantasy about convicted prisoners being sent on a dangerous mission; has a female co-lead.
  • Kizuna no Allele (Episode 1): Out of everything you can be online, making your show be about the biggest Kizuna Ai stan raises the question if this is a forced meme or not.
  • Opus.COLORs (Episode 1): 3D immersive art student enters a contest to reconnect with his estranged childhood friend.
  • Otaku Elf (Episode 1): Sweet supernatural comedy with two endearing female leads.
  • Too Cute Crisis (Episode 1): Aliens come to Earth to bask in the joy of cute animals.

Yellow flags

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

  • The Dangers in My Heart (Episodes 1-2): Teen edgelord is mostly just awkward with his crush, but some of his early monologues veer too close to actual violent misogyny.
  • Dead Mount Death Play (Episode 1): A reverse-isekai and murder game combo; so far the only female character is a “horny for murder” type.
  • Magical Destroyers (Episode 1): Fantasy about otaku being rounded up by the government; the only female characters are otherworldly magical girls in love with the hero.
  • MASHLE: Magic and Muscle (Episode 1): Some anti-establishment themes but mostly just misfired action-comedy silliness; promises to introduce a single female main character who has an obsessive crush on the lead.
  • My Home Hero (Episode 1): Messy representation of domestic violence overshadowed by a hilariously incompetent adaptation
  • My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 (Episodes 1-2): A hot mess college student pursues an autistic-coded gamer boy; they’re only two years apart, but the fact he’s still in high school makes her aggressive imposing on him uncomfortable. 
  • Tengoku Daimakyou (Heavenly Delusion) (Episode 1-2): Compelling and atmospheric post-apocalyptic with potential problems with fanservice, trans fetishization, and forced kisses in the second episode.

Red Flags

A whole lotta yikes.

  • The Legendary Hero is Dead (Episode 1): Fantasy series where the hero’s raison-d’etre is putting stockings and skimpy outfits on girls (with or without their consent). 
  • The Marginal Service (Episode 1): Supernatural cop drama with a hefty dose of romanticized police brutality.
  • Rokudo’s Bad Girls (Episode 1): Shy protagonist accrues a harem of bad girls via magical brainwashing.

Pit of Shame

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

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