[AniFemTalk] Your 2016 recommendations

We’re changing the format slightly for these, asking a specific question each week as well as inviting general discussion. For the first post of 2017, the question has to be: what do you recommend from 2016? 

  • Which anime or manga from 2016 would you recommend to other feminist viewers, and why?
  • What are your problematic faves from 2016, containing feminist themes or characters in an otherwise not-so-feminist text?
  • Which blogs did you come across that more of us should be bookmarking?

Self-promotion on these posts is permitted and even encouraged, especially if you are analyzing anime, manga, Japanese pop culture or fandom from a marginalized perspective! Please only include one link per post, but you can put up a different link every Monday if you like. If you’ve already done a blog post on 2016 recommendations, by all means include it below!

 

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  • Brainchild129

    On the manga side of things, I was so surprised that a manga called Everyone’s Getting Married was easily the most explicitly feminist manga I’ve saw all of last year. The premise is a fairly simple one, but one that suggest anything BUT feminism: a businesswoman wants to settle down & get married, but she falls for a popular newscaster who supports her but doesn’t want any sort of commitment. I really admired how it handled Asuka’s choice and how it handled her romance with Ryu. Asuka’s choice is precisely that – a choice, not something forced on her due to incompetence, harassment, or societal expectations. She simply wants to recreate her happy home life of old & defends that choice against those who would view it negatively. Her romance with Ryu is also well-handled. They don’t fight and snark like so many badly written romances, the kind where the authors confuse antagonism for sexual tension. Here the tension comes from their natural chemistry and mostly mutual compatabilty going against their mutually exclusive relationship goals. He actually respects her, and in the moments where he does cross the line, she makes her anger plain and he actually backs off and shows remorse. It really feels like the sort of manga we haven’t seen over here since Tokyopop brought over manga like Happy Mania and Tramps Like Us.

    I also feel like we saw some interesting, shockingly progressive, and extremely woman-friendly manga coming out the world of seinen last year. Amongst my manga-reading & reviewing friends online, Complex Age became something of a sleeper hit because of how it approached the heroine’s age affected her love of cosplay, how she interacts with other (often younger and more traditionally ‘cute’) cosplayers, and her struggling with hiding it from the more conventional, judgemental, and adult part of her life. Then there’s stuff like Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan, which mines a lot of sympathetic humor and character from the very real and occasionally unpleasant parts of puberty. Most people got into that one thanks to the animated short that aired last spring, but the manga is still worth checking out.

    It’s also encouraging to see the continued, slow-burn success of more shoujo and even josei manga, works such as The Ancient Magus’ Bride, A Silent Voice, Orange, Yona of the Dawn, and especially Princess Jellyfish. Sure, most of them were riding on the coattails of popular anime adaptations or had the advantage of finding an audience over time via Crunchyroll, but each success in those genres paves the way for the next. Princess Jellyfish’s success was especially encouraging considering its license was conditional; Kodansha only licensed it up to a certain point, and any future volumes would depend on its sales. Considering that each new omnibus landed on the NYT bestsellers list during its debut, I feel confident that it’s not going to struggle as much in the long term as other conditional licenses like Gundam: The Origin or VInland Saga did.

    Finally, if you’re looking for blogs to link and you don’t mind my tooting my own horn, I actually have a manga review blog of my own: The Manga Test Drive (http://mangatestdrive.blogspot.com/
    ).

    • Ayanami

      I need to check out some of those manga recommendations, thanks.

      The Galko-chan anime is really must watch due to it’s ~3 min/episode length. I loved that the characters often talked about sex like I remember REAL kids talked. I actually loved the fact that many conversations completely crossed cultural lines. There was one question a guy asked to Galko-chan “what’s the first thing you do when you walk into a mall?” and it’s supposed to reveal how you feel about sex. Back in my totally white rural American middle school, we had a very similar “test”. It’s little details like that that really made me love this series.

  • Snap Wilson

    Favorites from the past year, problematic and otherwise:

    Re:Zero
    Yuri On Ice
    Erased
    Drifters
    KonoSuba
    The Seven Deadly Sins

    Not made this past year, but I discovered them this past year, and really liked them.

    Gangsta
    Usagi Drop

    I am still an anime novice, mostly watching whatever my wife likes or friends recommend. Always looking for good recommendations. I mostly prefer tense, dramatic, action-y stuff, which is something I think that anime tends to do very well at its best, but willing to try just about anything (I enjoyed Wake Up Girls, for example).

    • Moke

      I’m working my way through Re:Zero at the moment. That show is seriously addictive! I’m waiting for my wife to catch up now. It has a few slightly dubious moments with Rem & Ram but it’s mostly really good!

    • rugose-appendage

      +1 for Usagi Drop. It’s a really sweet portrayal of the good bits of parenting. Or what I presume are the good bits, seeing as I’m not a parent myself.

  • I really enjoyed watching short anime in 2016: there’s a lot of great experimentation going on in many of them. In the interests of brevity I’ll just comment on one of those, “Tonkatsu DJ Agetarō” (12 9-minute episodes on Crunchyroll). The gimmick is the central character learning to DJ by applying the lessons from his father’s tonkatsu shop, so expect a lot of food-related character names (“Grand Master Fry”, “DJ Oily”) and cooking-based metaphors. The art style is very different from the bog-standard anime look, much more reminiscent of an American alternative comic, and to the best of my recollection the show is pretty free of fan service and typical anime tropes. It’s not an explicitly feminist work, but it treats its female characters with respect, and the underlying theme of the whole show is a very inclusive one, namely the power of music and dancing to bring people together no matter their age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, or station in life. The only major flaw of the show from my perspective is that (ironically) it needs more music–it recycles a relatively few tracks and could use some more variety.

  • Robert Black

    My pick for best anime of the year was Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, which doesn’t really have a feminist theme unless you want to consider Miyokichi as a tragic figure who can only be defined by men. The second half of the story, which starts this week, might be more promising, as it will include Miyokichi’s daughter Konatsu, a single mother who wants to be a part of the male-only world of Rakugo.

    I’ve just started watching Izetta: The Last Witch, which has two strong female leads but subjects them to a lot of cheesy fanservice. Does that make it a problematic show?

    The girl-power show of the year has got to be Flip Flappers. I’d also recommend Time Travel Shoujo, which encourages girls to take an interest in math and science (something I do in my own writing).

  • Ayanami

    I guess out of “feminist” series that not many people are talking about here, I’d go with Flying Witch. By all accounts this should have been a dull slice of life snooze fest that I should not have liked. Instead, it turns out that it’s completely devoid of both fanservice and moe cutesy crap and also thanks to this show I’ve discovered that I am an old lady grandma at heart. It’s a slice of life show that’s just as much about witchcraft as it is about gardening and cooking and canning and lazy cats. Not explicitly feminist per se, but it would very possibly appeal to the older lady crowd, a demographic very largely ignored by anime.

    As for problematic anime… I guess Berserk? And I can mean “problematic” by a couple different ways. Horrible CG or gratuitous threats of sexual assault? How about both? But…. It’s still Berserk and it’s still just a great example of dark fantasy anime, warts and all. On the plus side, Farnese is easily the most interesting female character in the whole series, and she’s introduced here. On the minus side, she’s nearly raped by an evil ghost horse shortly after her introduction. Yea.

    OK, so now that I think about it, maybe the 1st 2 parts of Kizumonogatari are a better “problematic” favorite of 2016. The fanservice is tinted through the viewpoint of the very teenage, very hormonal male lead, which makes it far more palatable as something actually story-relevant and not shoehorned in. Also, the movies begin at the chronological start of the series, so they make for a decent jumping in point for those who have always wanted to try the series but were intimidated by all the different titles. If you can get past the boobs, Monogatari is a very talky and quirky and stylish and entertaining coming of age tale (and this applies to most of the characters involved, not just the often-obnoxious male MC).

    • Peter Kovalsky

      Every episode of Flying Witch feels like a warm hug.

  • Moke

    I loved Wagnaria/Working!!! – which I found through Anime Feminist. It’s utterly bonkers and very funny. It rarely drifts away from feminist principles and I’d happily recommend it to anyone who has a slightly warped sense of humour.

    Problematic wise I’ve been working my way through Fairy Tail. Yes, I know it’s not from this year but shut up. It’s a weird one. The early episodes use threat of sexual assault _constantly_ and it’s awful but the show seems to recognise it as a problem. It starts moving away from it quite early. Similarly, there are a lot of semi clothed women in the series… but most of the men are similarly objectified. One of the male characters has a nervous tic where he takes his clothes off without noticing. So… at least it’s equal objectification…

    • Ayanami

      I’ll admit to being a closet Fairy Tail fan myself. Yea, there’s a bunch of fanservice, but it’s usually played for humor and USUALLY not creepy.

      The thing that I like about Fairy Tail is the wide variety of women in the show, all with differing personalities. Some of them of stupid strong, some of them are weak, some act traditionally masculine and some feminine. One character might drink like a sailor while another is a book worm. It’s rare to find a show that spans such a diverse array of female characters.

      Hell, there’s even an overweight character. Although most of her screen time is a one note joke, with her telling others not to underestimate fat chicks as her battle cry. I don’t know if that counts as a win or not…

  • John Clark

    I thought Flip Flappers and Sound Euphonium were amazing. I really loved Flip Flappers.

  • Petréa Mitchell

    Hello! I write a weekly column about simulcast science-fiction* anime for Amazing Stories‘ blog. My best-of-the-year/Hugo Award recommendations post has just gone up here.

    My top recommendation from a feminist perspective among the shows I watched would be Re: ZERO, for its deconstruction of the otaku wish-fulfillment protagonist, starting from Emilia’s speech about how she is actually not obligated to let Subaru be her stalker.

    For the best moment this year in an otherwise problematic show, I’d pick Shizuru’s focus episode in BBK/BRNK. Probably the best moment for neurodiversity I’ve ever seen in anime.

    * In the bookstore sense of the category, so including fantasy, alternate history, horror, etc.

  • Canary Paint

    “Re:Zero kept getting me to like it, then annoying me, but never quite enough to completely write it off.”

    This is the concise explanation of my entire time watching it that I would not have been able to express.