2023 Summer Premiere Digest

By: Anime Feminist July 19, 20230 Comments
a woman in a pink kimono surrounded by blooming cherry blossoms

While it can’t match spring’s bounty, summer has a few gems to offer.

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; series that are dropped in batches (the binge/Netflix model) won’t receive are a premiere review but are eligible for recommendations at end of season. 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.

Shiori accidentally presents her powerpoint...completely upside down.
My Tiny Senpai

How do you write the reviews?

Lizzie, Alex, Vrai, Cy and Toni split the majority of shows, with Chiaki stepping in to pinch hit. The titles were divided by each reviewer’s preferred workload and choice.

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.

Boxxo, the vending machine, thinking hard in the abyss, status effects: 3 damage! 5 damage! he is taking damage!: What else is there?!
Reborn as a Vending Machine, I Now Wander the Dungeon

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!

close shot of Sajo. "A guy who insistently chases after you, if one were to think normally, that is creepy."
The Dreaming Boy is a Realist

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!

Vermilio, one of the four lords of the demon realm, looks on in shock at the very human Helck.

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

Summer 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.

  • My Happy Marriage (Episodes 1-2): A young woman finds unexpected space to heal from her family’s abuse when she’s traded into an arranged marriage.
  • Undead Murder Farce (Episodes 1-2): A period piece and supernatural mystery with a critique of imperialism built into its hook.

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.

  • The Gene of AI (Episodes 1-2): Transhumanist sci-fi story with a promisingly subtle start; has an explicitly non-binary (robot) character but women are mainly mothers or romantic interests.
  • The Most Heretical Last Boss Queen: From Villainess to Savior (Episode 1): Has potential to question genre and gender roles as all villainess isekai do, but may or may not get bogged down in its questionable love interests.

Neutral zone

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

Yellow flags

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

  • Am I Actually the Strongest? (Episode 1): Competent isekai with a few “horny baby” jokes that hopefully don’t nod to further weirdness around female characters.
  • Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout The Animation (Episode 1): Its heavy use of a thigh-level leering camera is even more disconcerting when the narrative loudly insists it’s a PG adventure story.
  • AYAKA (Episode 1-2): By-the-numbers “orphan with elemental powers and secret family legacy” urban fantasy series; mentor character’s alcoholism is the main joke of most of Episode 1 and all of Episode 2.
  • Dark Gathering (Episode 1): Has a pleasantly campy Halloween vibe but the female characters outside of the main cast are either demonized cannon fodder or sexualized victims.
  • The Dreaming Boy is a Realist (Episode 1): Allegedly about a pushy guy finally taking the tsundere’s word and backing off, but the conceit requires her to have been won over by that past pushiness.
  • The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses (Episode 1): The titular girl’s nearsightedness is pretty much a vehicle to put her in accidental compromising positions.
  • Liar, Liar (Episode 1): Gambling series with strong knock-off vibes; persistent fanservice.
  • Sweet Reincarnation (Episode 1): Tonally-dissonant isekai in which a guy who just wants to cook desserts is trapped in a Very Serious political fantasy; features some “isn’t it funny that we forced this boy to dress as a girl?” jokes.
  • Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (Episodes 1-2): While the first episode is a searing take on corporate exploitation, the show takes on more of a wish fulfillment vibe from second episode onward, while its uncomfortable treatment of women remains.

Red Flags

A whole lotta yikes.

  • Classroom for Heroes (Episode 1): Sexualizes and sidelines the female co-lead from the word go in what’s supposedly her storyline.
  • Level 1 Demon Lord & One Room Hero (Episode 1-2): Odd-couple fantasy sitcom; fanservice ramps up even more in Episode 2 complete with an extended shower scene, the Demon Lord transforming into a scantily-clad schoolgirl, and the Hero being chased around by a nude woman.
  • My Tiny Senpai (Episode 1): Office rom-com whose female lead is simultaneously a nurturer for the protagonist but also a lovable ditz at her own job and the subject of multiple sexual fantasy sequences.

Pit of Shame

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

  • Synduality Noir (Episode 1): Sci-fi game adaptation heavy with normalized toxic masculinity and date rape jokes.
  • TenPuru (Episode 1): Fanservice fest with a focus on non-consensual groping.

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