Dee, Caitlin, and Peter check in on the 2020 Spring season!
Date Recorded: May 16th, 2020
Hosts: Dee, Caitlin, Peter
0:01:26 SING “YESTERDAY” FOR ME
0:09:28 The 8th Son? Are You Kidding Me?
0:14:26 Princess Connect! Re:Dive
0:38:36 Tower of God
0:43:26 My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
0:50:13 Wave! Listen to Me!
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, the managing editor at AniFem. You can find all my writings on my blog The Josei Next Door, and you can also hang out with me on Twitter @joseinextdoor. And I am joined today by fellow AniFem staffers Caitlin and Peter.
CAITLIN: Hello, I’m Caitlin. I am an editor and writer for Anime Feminist, as well as my own blog, heroineproblem.com (“heroine” with an E), and a reviewer for The Daily Dot.
PETER: I’m Peter Fobian. I’m a producer at Crunchyroll and an editor at Anime Feminist.
DEE: And today we are tackling the midseason check-in of the spring 2020 anime season. It’s been kind of a weird season, to say the least, with a lot of shows going on hiatus because of, you know, The Unpleasantness. But we still have a decent chunk under our belts.
And this is kind of a unique season in that folks are watching stuff all across the board, it looks like. A lot of the time the lower-rank shows, as it were, don’t have a ton of people watching them. But we’re going to be starting in that Red Flags category with Sing “Yesterday” for Me.
CAITLIN: Oh, am I the only one watching… Oh, no, Peter…
DEE: I guess Sing “Yesterday” was just a Yellow Flag. My bad.
DEE: Okay. Well, we didn’t really have a lot of Red Flags this past season. It’s been kind of chill in its own way. So, yeah, Sing “Yesterday” for Me is where we’re gonna kick things off. It looks like both of you guys are watching this one, yeah?
CAITLIN and PETER: Yeah.
CAITLIN: I am, in an unusual move for me, watching it at least 50% for the sakuga. It’s just such a beautiful show. The animation is very fluid and expressive. And it really captures the ‘90s. I spent half of the last episode that I watched just looking at the textures on the tatami mats in the rooms just like “Yeah, that actually looks like tatami.”
CAITLIN: Because here’s the thing: Rikuo is not an interesting protagonist. Rikuo is boring, to put it bluntly. He’s a very standard disaffected male protagonist—and I talked about this in my three-episode review—who has trouble caring about things.
And to the show’s credit, it doesn’t seem like it’s the girls who are teaching him how to live, so much as him hitting a point in his life where he’s just like “I can’t continue on like this” and trying to figure out how to pick things back up and how to get back into his passion for photography. So yeah, it’s not totally a Manic Pixie Dream Girl show like I was worried about. But it’s still… Rikuo’s whatever.
PETER: He’s definitely around a lot, being that he’s the main character, unfortunately.
DEE: So you’re not into Rikuo as well, Peter?
PETER: I just feel like I’ve seen the character a million times. I don’t expect any new developments here. I think by the end, it’s just gonna be like Welcome to the NHK or something where he kind of turns his life around, maybe gets a real job like, I don’t know, directing traffic or something and realizes that… I don’t even know. Or I guess he wants to become a photographer. So at least he’s got an interest, which is a lot more than a lot of guys in this kind of situation in anime. And then there’s just a bunch of girls kind of…
PETER: Yeah. Oh, that’s exactly the word I was looking for. Yeah, orbiting around him like the sun, who are all passingly interested in him or extremely interested for no discernible reason. I was encouraged by the fact that Chika did not seem… I was worried she’d be the newest member of the Doesn’t-Know-Why-But-Wants-to-Date-Rikuo Brigade.
CAITLIN: She was just leeching off an ex-boyfriend.
PETER: Yeah, obviously they’re friends or something. And I guess she was DTF. But she didn’t want a relationship, especially when those two girls showed up at his house. She’s like, “Oh, I should probably get out of the way.”
DEE: “This is too complex for me.”
CAITLIN: It just occurred to me that maybe when this was originally written in the ‘90s, Rikuo wasn’t such a well-trod character type.
PETER: Yeah, I think so.
CAITLIN: Because when I think about it, most of those types of characters, they became… I mean, they existed in the ‘90s, but not quite as… He’s like the blueprint of it, and they became more of a thing in the aughts.
PETER: Yeah. So he’s the progenitor and never got his own series? Wow.
DEE: I watched the first episode, it looked real pretty, and I had no desire to see any more of it. Should I assume that the high school girl who was pursuing him, that that has continued to be a thing?
DEE: [sarcastically] Yaaay! Okay.
PETER: It is good that they all have their own universes outside of Rikuo and their own shit they’re getting through. All of them have their own subplot, so it’s not just like they’re all there to just facilitate his personal growth. They are also getting over their own shit, which is interesting and probably the reason I’m watching.
CAITLIN: High school girl, whose name is escaping me at the moment…
CAITLIN: Haru. Thank you. I just also want to point out to those not watching that her ex-boyfriend shows up and he has a fedora and a goatee.
DEE: [Laughs] Oh my God.
PETER: He’s a lot cooler than Rikuo, too. [Chuckles]
DEE: Oh no.
CAITLIN: He has the fedora and a goatee, and he manages to be cooler than Rikuo.
DEE: [Chuckles] Well, you know, in the ‘90s, a fedora and a goatee was cool, right?
DEE: No, never? Okay, sorry. Sorry, goatee-fedora wearers of the ‘90s.
PETER: He was the progenitor of goatee-fedora.
DEE: Yeah. But that was kind of why I begged off of it. I was like “Oh, this has the feel of an age-gap romance-type story,” where even if Haru got her own arc, that was still where it was going, and I just have no desire to watch that play out in my fiction. Don’t date people who are minors. Come on, Rikuo.
Anyway, anything else you guys want to say about that one, or should we keep jumping up the list? So are you guys enjoying it? I honestly can’t tell.
PETER: I am.
CAITLIN: I am. I’m enjoying it enough. Okay, so I made kind of a mental ranking, where it’s like, would I still be watching this if I didn’t have so much free time on my hands? Because I am technically unemployed right now. So, for Sing “Yesterday” for Me, I probably would have dropped it if I didn’t have so much free time, but it’s fine. I enjoy it. It doesn’t make me upset. It’s just something pretty to look at for 20 minutes.
PETER: Yeah, I think it’s got a really cool mood, great visuals, and atmosphere. And I think Haru and Shinako are both really interesting, and I’m interested in seeing where their plot goes. It’s just Rikuo is the protagonist, and his story is well-worn. So, I’m gonna enjoy it, but I think my overall retrospective on the series is going to depend on what happens with Haru and Shinako, basically.
CAITLIN: You know, it’s chill in a way that I kind of need right now.
PETER: Yeah. It reminded me of Kids on the Slope.
DEE: Just in terms of the tone and pacing of it?
PETER: Yeah, like the coloring, the atmosphere, the tone, the music, that kind of thing.
DEE: Gotcha. Yeah.
PETER: So it’s very—what’s the word for it—nostalgic. Yeah.
DEE: Yeah, no, that makes sense. Okay. Well, with that somewhat lukewarm recommendation, let’s keep jumping up the list.
Okay, well, Millionaire Detective is delayed. We only got like two episodes. There’s not really any reason to talk about it. Appare-Ranman! is tragically delayed, and we’ve got a three-episode check-in about that.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] That one hurt.
DEE: That one did hurt. It is a flawed series, but I was having a lot of fun with that one. But we have a three-episode check-in out for folks who want to see where we were when it went on hiatus. And hopefully it’ll be back once it’s safe for the animators to do so.
And then the next one up… Peter, you’re the only one on here who is watching The 8th Son, but my understanding is it actually has changed up a bit since the last time we checked in with it. So did you want to talk about The 8th Son? Are You Kidding Me? for a little while here?
PETER: God, what can we talk about? It’s kind of all over the place, but I feel like it’s slowly consolidating on what’s going to be its main plot later on, which has been sort of foreshadowed, which is a conspiracy plot that goes on later, which I guess is kind of Bookworm-esque in how it’s just about how nobility back in the day really sucks ass.
PETER: Yeah, it had that obligatory “when he was a kid growing up” that took like three episodes, and then him becoming important, which was another two episodes. And I think the last two episodes have probably been the strongest of the series because it’s just more daily life stuff. And I think that’s what revealed that this series is kind of willing to poke fun at its own protagonist, which I think is very important with isekai series where the main character is completely overpowered.
DEE: Oh, yeah, no, you have to have a sense of humor if you’re gonna make that work in any fashion.
PETER: And it has to be a good one, unlike Overpowered Hero, as well. Like, they enter a fighting tournament where magic isn’t allowed and Well just gets taken out in the first round almost instantaneously because he’s completely out of shape, since he’s got overpowered magic and…
DEE: [crosstalk] Does everything with magic? Yeah.
PETER: Yeah, spends the rest of the episode basically sleeping off the beating that he got and—
DEE: [Chuckles] Oh no!
PETER: Yeah. It’s revealed that he had made everybody a cute box lunch, since he didn’t think that he was gonna make it very far in the tournament anyway.
PETER: Yeah, it was kind of cute. He made little egg versions of everybody.
DEE: Aw! I will say, I only got a couple episodes in, and then they murdered— Sorry, spoilers, I guess. They killed the beautiful wizard in episode 2, and I was like “I don’t know if I really want to keep committing to the show. I’m already watching a lot of stuff.”
But I will say one thing that kept me around for at least a couple was that Well was… he was not a dirtbag protagonist. He seemed like a nice guy. It sounds like that’s pretty much stayed the course, like he looks out for the people around him and is not your standard shitty or just totally boilerplate isekai protag.
PETER: I think a lot of isekai protags are like that. You get the same thing with Death March to a Parallel World Rhapsody and (what was it?) Something of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar. Both of them are basically that same archetype. I think what separates 8th Son is that it hasn’t really taken great lengths to sexualize any of the female characters around him.
DEE: Oh, that’s good.
PETER: Yeah, there’s no slaves…
DEE: The bar that we’ve set into the core of the Earth has been cleared.
PETER: And this is gonna sound weird, but it’s also introducing some interesting male characters, which I think is unique for this type of series, since it’s usually the protagonist, the villain, and the protagonist’s harem of women, and then just men aren’t a big deal outside of that. The royal mage is this really buff wizard guy who… They go to slay a dragon together, and the first thing he does is does a magical girl transformation sequence into his magical armor.
DEE: Oh, that’s fun.
PETER: [crosstalk] He wears a sheer muscle shirt at all times.
PETER: Definitely something that distinguishes 8th Son. There is some weird stuff, like the girls want to become his concubines, mostly as a way of climbing the social ladder. I don’t know. Just them becoming his concubines feels kind of weird. I feel like they’re all really young, and I don’t even know if any of them know that that might have to involve sex at some point, which gives it sort of a weird edge. But it’s weird that that was included. I feel like they could have just not done that.
DEE: Yeah, but you know, harem. Got to be there, right? Got to tick that checkbox.
PETER: Yeah, I guess that’s why it felt weird, because it felt like an obligatory harem, like the series is almost going like “Let’s get this out of the way. He’s married to three women. And then there’s stuff that I want to do, which is about Well making box lunches and nobles sucking,” is kind of what it felt like.
DEE: Yeah, it definitely sounds like it’s not boring and it has a sense of humor, so that’s good. I don’t think it’s one I’ll necessarily come back to, but I am curious to hear your thoughts about it at the end of the cour, like where the story ends up going. Because Chiaki’s commented on it, too—because she’s watching it as well—and she was like, “Yeah, I’m actually having fun with this one now. I wasn’t expecting to.” So, that’s good to know, that it’s an enjoyable 20 minutes a week at least.
Okay, Tamayomi is next. I’ve dropped that one. I did a three-episode check-in on it. It just wasn’t very interesting, so that was that. We’re not watching Shironeko Project or Shachibato.
So now we get to my surprise favorite of the season, smack in the middle of our list—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh my God!
DEE: Princess Connect Re:Dive.
CAITLIN: I love this show so much!
DEE: I was gonna say, are y’all enjoying this one as much as I am?
PETER: Very much. Yes.
DEE: Peter’s mostly just been trolling Chiaki with Karyl images in the group Slack for this one.
CAITLIN: And I’ve been trolling Chiaki by changing her name in the Discord.
DEE: To various Karyl nicknames and things. Yeah.
PETER: I couldn’t believe Chiaki actually thought— I was like “Oh, dang, Karyl’s dead.”
PETER: And Chiaki thought that I was— I was like “No one is gonna die in this series, Chiaki. I don’t know why you think that.”
DEE: I’m pretty sure this is not the kind of series that is going to murder characters. Yeah, Princess Connect is… It’s just really fun. A couple seasons ago, when Cautious Hero came out, in episode 2 I was like “This is giving me Slayers vibes, and it’s way too early for me to be hype about that, but I kind of am.” And then Cautious Hero fell on its face and that sucked.
Now we’re halfway through Princess Connect, and I am going to say again it gives me Slayers vibes in a way that I really enjoy. It is four goofballs going on adventures together. And I think it’s a very warmhearted series, because it’s by the KonoSuba writer, correct? He was involved in it somehow.
CAITLIN: He’s the director.
PETER: Anime director. Yeah.
DEE: Oh! Okay, okay, that’s totally different then. So it has, kind of, the comedic timing that KonoSuba had, but I couldn’t get into KonoSuba because the characters were just relentlessly shitty, especially to each other, in a way that I did not enjoy watching.
But Princess Connect… I mean, Karyl’s a big tsundere cat, but they all genuinely care about each other and look out for each other. And it’s just fun to watch them go on goofy adventures looking for food and meeting like these, I assume, characters from the mobile game. I didn’t know you could do a gacha-style mobile game this well.
DEE: The way they’ve just introduced a couple of characters and done a little one-off story. And I think it being a comedy helps because you don’t have to get really deep into everybody’s backstories. You can just have a murder hospital episode, and there’s a few characters there who are terrifying, and then you can move on to a different story and it’s fine because you’ve got this cast kind of keeping everybody together. The llama girl came back, which made me very happy.
CAITLIN: Oh, she’s so good!
PETER: Did you two not watch Last Period?
DEE: I dropped off a few episodes in. It did not charm me as much as I wanted it to. But I know you liked it a lot, yeah.
PETER: I feel like Princess Connect has big Last Period vibes in the way it has the central cast introduce these other mobile game characters, except that one is clearly saying that gacha games are awful, which is an interesting marketing move.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, I remember that. I can’t remember what exactly soured me on that one.
CAITLIN: I mean, I just completely forgot it existed. Just straight up. He said, “Oh, didn’t you watch Last Period?” I’m like, “What?”
PETER: It’s got Wiseman, too.
DEE: That’s why I stuck with it as long as I did, was for Wiseman.
DEE: But anyway… Yeah, I think with that one it was that there was a lot of fanservice really awkwardly shoehorned in, and it turned me off enough that I never came back to it. With Princess Connect, I’m not gonna say there’s no fanservice, because there is some.
CAITLIN: Pecorine’s boobs are bouncy.
DEE: Yeah, Pecorine’s boobs are very bouncy. But it really doesn’t bother me because it’s very minor. And it’s just so… Oh, what’s the word for it? It’s very playful. You know what I mean? It doesn’t feel like somebody’s like breathing heavily and being like “Boobs!” It’s just like “Tee-hee!” And that doesn’t bother me as much for whatever reason with fanservice. Like, I get it if it’s a dealbreaker for folks at home, but it doesn’t bother me at all.
CAITLIN: And mostly, they bounce at times when boobs would bounce.
DEE: This is true.
CAITLIN: Maybe more prominently than real boobs would, but boobs bounce. It’s a thing.
PETER: You’re saying it’s not Highschool of the Dead, is what you’re saying.
DEE: They’re not trying to escape from her chest, no.
CAITLIN: No, that’s Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. [Chuckles] Antigravity boobs. [Chuckles]
DEE: Yeah. But yeah, I would say other than the minor fanservice, some of the minor characters that you meet along the way wear some absolutely ridiculous outfits. But I liked it that they kind of called it out in the murder hospital episode. They were like [baffled] “Why is she dressed like that?”
PETER: I love the new princess who’s dressed like a cow. That was a good character design.
CAITLIN: Yeah. [Unintelligible beneath crosstalk] costume.
DEE: The whole group of animal-themed adventurers with Rima the llama leading the party was great. And we’ve actually got a two-part arc coming up, so I’m curious to see how that ends.
CAITLIN: I hope it doesn’t get more serious. That was my feeling at the end of the last episode, where I was just like “I really hope we’re not gonna start getting into drama speckled with comedy,” because this show could just keep doing what it’s doing for its entire run and I would be so happy with it.
DEE: I don’t mind if they want to raise the stakes and add… because the show begins with Yuuki being sent down to this world with some kind of mission that… Is it “Kokkoro”?
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Kokkoro.
PETER: [crosstalk] Kokkoro.
DEE: Because they call her Koroster, so I’ve been calling her Koroster in my head. Supposedly they have some mission they’re supposed to be on, although all they’re doing right now is looking for delicious food with their friends.
I don’t mind if the show raises the stakes because, again, as far as Slayers vibes go, Slayers has moments where it gets pretty intense. Like, they’re fighting demons and the action gets pretty wild. But at the end of the day, it’s still gonna be a comedy with a happy ending, and so I’m fine with that as long as they don’t drop the goofiness entirely.
CAITLIN: I just—
DEE: The only other thing I wanted to— Sorry, real quick, Caitlin. I meant to say this at the beginning of the episode. Totally forgot. Folks at home, we are recording this one… Our release schedule was a little weird this time around, so this episode is gonna go up when most of the shows are on like episode eight. We’re recording this a week prior, and I think most of us probably haven’t watched the newest ones that dropped today. So, we’re talking right at the six-episode mark for pretty much everything. Just wanted folks at home to know that this is a true midseason for us even though it’s coming out a little bit later.
Anyway, sorry. What were you gonna say about Princess Connect?
CAITLIN: I want Yuuki to stay a complete helpless baby the entire time.
DEE: [Chuckles] And just periodically get eaten by wolves?
CAITLIN: Yeah. He got eaten by a Digimon this time! Were-Garurumon just kind of showed up.
PETER: Oh, that’s what it reminded me of!
CAITLIN: If that wolf had been wearing jorts, it would have just been Were-Garurumon.
PETER: I made such an ugly noise when the thing got shot by an arrow and accidentally let him go and he just flew directly into a tree.
DEE: And Yuuki’s so chill about it that I felt genuinely bad for him in the hospital episode, because he was starting to freak out. And we were meant to feel bad for him at that point, I think. But most of the time when he gets—
CAITLIN: He’s very moe.
DEE: Yeah. But most of the time when gets picked up by wolves and dragged off, he just has this look on his face like “Eh.” And so, I don’t feel bad laughing about it because he doesn’t seem too fussed.
CAITLIN: Like “Well, this is happening now.”
PETER: Very durable.
DEE: Yuuki’s extremely durable, yes.
PETER: Made to last.
DEE: Which is good, because he is kind of a punching bag who just occasionally powers up the girls. I guess he’s basically a battery, is the sense I’m getting, which is an interesting take on a male protag.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Wow! Objectification.
PETER: Yeah, in episode one, I was like “Wait, this is cool” because he did the power-up and I was like “This is gonna go one of two ways. It’s probably gonna go, ‘Even though he’s an idiot, he can somehow one-shot enemies if he gets very sad for the girls getting in peril or something.’” But then he just powered up Pecorine, and she blew up the entire army by herself, and I was like, “Oh, wait. This is lit. This is cool.”
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, I’m sorry, Caitlin. I meant his special power is basically that he is a battery for the other characters.
DEE: And I think that’s a really neat take on the genre of “Collect the Cute Girls Around You,” because Yuuki’s not so much the power fantasy. He’s just supportive. It’s like “I just want to support these badass ladies in any way I can, so I will make their powers stronger than they already were.” So, yeah, it’s a neat take on the genre.
It’s been a lot of fun. I think everyone on staff who’s watching it is enjoying it. So, we’ve been lowkey getting folks in the AniFem Discord to be like “Well, shit, now I have to try this show, too,” which has been fun. So, yeah, folks at home, again, as long as you don’t mind a little extremely lighthearted fanservice and some ridiculous costumes, it’s a fun show. I think you’ll have a good time with it.
DEE: Okay. Yeah, we’re taking a while on the bottom half here, which, I mean, it happens sometimes, but I don’t want us to go over. So, let’s move on to Listeners, which I don’t think I’m gonna have a— I could say a lot about Listeners, but I don’t really see the reason to— I just don’t see the point. But anyway, Peter, you’re behind. Caitlin and I are both watching it. Caitlin, what would you like to say about Listeners?
CAITLIN: So, the thing about Listeners is that it does feel very insubstantial and inconsequential. It’s not a great show. It’s not gonna be a show that’s gonna last in my memory for a long time. But I watch it. I enjoy it while I’m watching it. I laugh at some of the music deep cuts.
My mother-in-law lived in Seattle when the grunge era was just kicking off. So, the grunge episode, Jared was pointing out some of the really deep cuts that they had, like one of the first bands in the grunge era was called Honeyhut. And they met in a math class, which is why the math club met in a hut and… Did they cover themselves with honey?
DEE: I don’t remember.
CAITLIN: There was something with honey. But it was just a very elaborate joke for this bizarre reference that only people who lived in Seattle in this particular time or were super into grunge would get.
DEE: Yeah, I feel like there’s a lot of music references that whizzed straight over my head. And then there’s some really obvious ones, but as I’m not a hardcore music historian or anything like that, most of them… foof! I chuckled at the guys at the school just standing in the background smashing pumpkins. That got me laughing.
Yeah, my thing with Listeners is, like you said, it’s so insubstantial that I almost don’t feel… I think there’s a lot I could criticize about it, but I’m entertained every week and it’s so fluffy that there’s not enough to grab on for me to feel like it’s necessarily harmful, because it’s just air. [Chuckles] And I know that our job is to approach all shows through a feminist lens, but sometimes you’re tired and you’re just like “What’s even the point with this one?”
CAITLIN: Yeah, it’s like cotton candy.
DEE: It’s shitty that they whitewash their Jimi Hendrix stand-in. It’s shitty ableism that the kind-of-villains—but definitely the inhuman monsters or whatever—are called the Earless. There’s a lot of little things about it that bug me week to week.
PETER: What’s the guy’s name? The Kurt Cobain stand-in has a hole in their head.
DEE: Sure does!
PETER: And pointing a gun at her head is her pose.
CAITLIN: Yeah… It’s definitely pretty insensitive.
PETER: Yeah. That’s not really a reference. That’s just shitty.
DEE: I think somebody who was really into music wanted to make a show, and there’s a lot of earnestness and sincerity to the music element of it. But I would say that they did not put a lot of thought into other aspects of it. It very much has that feel of “Well, this will look cool, so that’s why we’re doing it.” I don’t think it’s malicious by any stretch, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still fucking up sometimes. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Yeah. It’s like it doesn’t put much thought into things like that beyond “here’s a reference” and doesn’t think about how insensitive some of those things can be.
DEE: Yeah. But again, it’s one of those things where it’s… Yeah, I just keep coming back to your word “insubstantial.” I keep watching it because I am entertained by it. But it’s hard for me to recommend unless you’re super into music. I think that would be the main reason I would recommend it to folks. If you’re really into music, Listeners, you’ll probably get a kick out of a lot of the references going on.
And the characters are… I like the cast. I like Mu and Echo, and I think their relationship is kind of interesting. I think Echo’s probably going to die at the end, but we’ll see. Or they’ll have to dramatically save him. I’m really curious to see what they do with Mu going forward because I think her character arc will have a lot to do with how I view the show at the end of the day, because I’m still not 100% sure what her story is.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I like the character designs a lot.
DEE: Oh, it looks really cool.
CAITLIN: Yeah, I especially like how the female character designs aren’t super idealized. Obviously, they’re very pretty, but they’ve got these kind of chubby faces and they’re built more like humans, like human women.
DEE: Yeah, I feel you.
CAITLIN: They don’t have super narrow waists or disproportionately big boobs. They have some meat on their bones.
DEE: Yeah, overall, the show has handled its female cast pretty well. I can’t think of anything egregious it’s done. I’m still kind of curious to see how Mu’s story will… like, if she and Echo have side-by-side stories or if she ultimately is second fiddle to him. So I’m kind of curious to see what they do with her story, but so far, I’ve not had any issues with it from that perspective.
CAITLIN: Yeah, at this point, honestly, I kind of think it might be more her story than Echo’s story.
DEE: Yeah, I kind of feel that way as well. But again, we’re halfway through and each episode has spent a lot of time with these other characters that they’re meeting along the way, so I just don’t know yet.
DEE: I guess we should point out that Anime Prince was 100,000% in love with Anime Jimi.
DEE: I mean, there were doves, and he said, “I love him,” and there was a big rainbow. And I was like, “This is not subtle.” [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Didn’t he say…? He didn’t say suki. He said “Aishiteru.”
DEE: [crosstalk] I think he used ai.
CAITLIN: Yeah, he used ai, which is serious business.
DEE: It’s deep love. Deep love. So, that was neat. [Chuckles] And I think we should probably move on to the next show unless there was something else you want to say about Listeners. Peter, I know you could not get into this one and that’s totally fine. I get it.
PETER: I can just basically say the feeling I get from the show is that Dai Sato worked on Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution and wanted to make his own Eureka Seven.
CAITLIN: That’s totally fair.
PETER: Yeah. I found the entire experience very underwhelming personally, but I’m glad you’re enjoying it.
DEE: That’s totally fair, yeah. Okay, let’s go on to the next one, which, Caitlin, you’re caught up on, I’m caught up on, Peter, you’re behind on this one as well… is Kakushigoto. Or… Yeah, it’s either Kaku Shigoto or Kakushi-goto. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to say it.
PETER: It’s both ways.
DEE: It’s both, right? It’s either. They’re both correct pronunciations, because the title is a pun. Anyway—
CAITLIN: Or, if you’re talking about the main character, Kakushi Gotou.
PETER: Yeah. A triple pun.
DEE: Okay. Anyway, yeah. So, this is the show I keep forgetting I’m watching, but I like it while I’m watching it. Did that make sense? Because I’ll go to my watch list and be like “Oh, what haven’t I caught up on this week.” I’m like “Oh, shit! Kakushigoto! I should watch the new one.” And then I watch it, and I like it, and then I stop watching it, and I once again, the next week, forget I’m watching it. Like Listeners, it’s— You know what? I won’t say that. I think it’s more substantial than Listeners.
I think what it’s doing in terms of addressing family and grief and the ideas of what it means to be a real family, because the main characters… It’s a single dad and his daughter, and the mom died when she was pretty young. And there’s a lot of episodes that insert these little lowkey conflicts about people in town or folks on the radio or just social expectations of “Oh, you really need a mom around the house. Things aren’t right without a mom around the house.”
And I like that the show keeps pushing back against that. Either his daughter Hime will say something to the effect of “Well, no, I’m happy with it being just the two of us. I think we’re fine,” or in the most recent episode, which I’m not sure if you guys have seen this one yet… It dropped on Thursday, I guess. There was a whole arc about them getting a puppy. And Goto kept hearing people around the neighborhood being like “Hey, you really need somebody to stay at home and watch a dog if you have a dog. If you’re both off at school or work, then it’s not going to work out.” And he was like “Dammit! No! Hime wants this dog and we’re gonna make it work! I don’t care what other people say.”
So I like that element of it. I would not call it a perfect comedy. But I think the way it engages with the family dynamics is really sweet, and it has a good heart.
CAITLIN: Yeah, no, I pretty much agree with all of that. The comedy is not as sharp as I expected it to be at the outset.
DEE: Yeah. The jokes about the manga industry are really good, though.
CAITLIN: Mm-hm. Oh, the fact that no one wants to take on Goto as his editor, that he’s just such a pain in the butt to deal with. Yeah, no, the manga industry jokes are very funny. I also really enjoy the jokes where Hime is trying to figure out things with her little small-child understanding of the world, like she assumes they’re poor because they live in a one-story house when actually, no, they’re doing fine.
DEE: Yeah, they’re fine.
CAITLIN: Did they go into why they live in a one-story house?
PETER: It’s a replication of their old house or something. They had it built.
DEE: Yeah, he basically replicated their old house to be in the middle of the city, so they’d be closer to work and school and stuff.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I really enjoy that humor. And yeah, it’s a lot more poignant than I thought it would be. The first episode didn’t really give a lot of hints at that, other than “Oh, he’s a single dad who really loves his daughter.” But as it’s gotten more into his grief and missing his wife, I think it’s definitely gotten… I don’t want to say “more interesting,” because I enjoyed also the straight comedy, but it’s definitely taken on a different tone than I was expecting.
DEE: Yeah, there’s definitely a bittersweet undercurrent, and I’m still trying to figure out… They keep flashing forward to Hime as an 18-year-old, so I think she’s a senior in high school. And I can’t figure out if she and her dad became estranged from each other or if he’s dead, too. I’m still trying to figure out what happened in the interim there. I don’t know. Maybe her grandpa ended up taking her in for some reason.
There’s still that element of it where I don’t know if this is going to end with the two of them reconnecting or her just learning about a parent-figure who’s also gone from her life, which would be a heck of a punch at the end of a comedy series. So yeah, there’s that kind of mystery building up, as well, as to what happened between their life together as a child that we’re seeing in these snippets of her about ten years in the future or something like that. So I’m curious to see where it goes from there.
I guess as far as stuff to warn folks about: there is a very minor side character who is pretty much a gay stereotype. Other than one uncomfortable bit in the first episode, the show doesn’t really harp on it. The one other joke they’ve kind of made about him is that he’s apparently super into death metal. And when Hime wanted to learn how to play the piano, the first thing he taught her was this grimdark death metal song to play on the piano.
DEE: So, for the most part, the show handles him pretty matter-of-factly, but there is some stuff in the early going that’s a little rough. And then they have a housekeeper who comes a few times a week, and she is from… I want to say Indonesia. Is that right?
PETER: Indonesia. Yeah.
DEE: Yeah? She’s super nice. She doesn’t speak in broken Japanese. It’s not going hardcore stereotype there. Hime really likes her. Most of the jokes are just about cultural differences, like Hime will want to make yakiniku or something, and so she’ll make the Indonesian version of what would be yakiniku, like a grilled meat dish.
Most of it is fine, but every once in a while, there will be a cultural joke that veers into racism, like when she… There was a fortune telling bit that got a little bit rough, I thought. And obviously, I am not qualified to speak on the level of sensitivity of that story arc, as I am not from Indonesia. But listeners—folks at home—if you have any thoughts on that, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. And I did figure it was just worth bringing up as a point of concern.
Can you think of anything else we should let folks know about Kakushigoto if they’re interested in watching it?
CAITLIN: I just wish the assistant girl who in the first episode started grumbling about capitalistic patriarchy had continued a little bit more on that thread.
PETER: Needs more praxis.
DEE: [Chuckles] Oh, I will say that… In the three-episode review I mentioned that one of his assistants was basically like a hot ditz, and they’ve actually done a pretty good job of making her… She has more to her than that. She’s a little bit of a straight-man character in the office, and so I do appreciate that and I will take back that statement about her. The show has done a better job rounding out his assistants as these other characters that cycle around in the story with him.
DEE: Okay. Yeah, sorry, we keep spending a lot of time on these midway ones, so hopefully we won’t go too long. But we have a few here that we can skip right over.
Gal & Dino, none of us are watching. Digimon Adventure: none of us are watching. That one’s also delayed. So is Diary of Our Days at Breakwater. None of us kept up with Bungo and Alchemist. Sorry, Bungo and Alchemist.
Peter, do you want to talk to us about Tower of God real quick? Because we had that ranked as an “It’s Complicated” because it was just super hard to tell after the first episode what it was gonna do.
PETER: Mm-hm. I think it’s become very interesting. Are you two very familiar with Hunter × Hunter?
DEE: Yeah, I’ve seen the whole anime.
PETER: Okay, okay. So it’s like—
DEE: Sorry, I’ve seen the whole 2011 anime. I’ve never seen the original, the ‘90s version, but yeah.
CAITLIN: I’ve seen all of the ‘90s one but dropped out at Chimera arc in the current one.
PETER: That’s literally the best arc in shounen, period.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] No. We can’t do this right now, Peter. We can’t do it.
DEE: Yeah. We can’t have the Hunter × Hunter debate right now.
PETER: [crosstalk] Anyway, so you’re getting the big Hunter Exam vibes, right?
DEE: Oh, yeah—the early stuff in Tower of God, you are?
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it feels like just a big Hunter Exam, except that at the end you become God or something. Actually, an ANN review of the latest episode, I think, put it pretty well. Lately, it’s revealed that the Tower isn’t just a kind of amoral test, but it’s like an institution. And as the series is progressing, it’s revealing a lot of problems with this large institution that they’re all playing a part in.
DEE: I got some vibes from that with the Princess character in the first episode, but again, it was just impossible to tell if they were gonna do anything with that or not.
PETER: Oh, yeah, especially in the last two episodes, it’s really leaned into it. The Princesses of Jahad aren’t literally princesses. I guess Jahad was the first person to climb the Tower, and he kind of has this… I wouldn’t call it a harem, but all of his royal guard are women who he forces to take vows of celibacy because they could pass their powers on genetically.
PETER: And when he agrees to give you this power, he takes a pair of your shoes and puts it on this big wall of shoes that he has, if you remember that scene from the beginning.
DEE: [crosstalk] Creepy.
PETER: Yeah. And it’s definitely framed that way, like “this is weird.”
DEE: Okay. So it’s intended to not be a good thing.
PETER: Yes. And Anak, the little green girl, her mother was one of the Princesses of Jahad, fell in love with a guy who made really good chicken pies, and ended up having her, so I guess she broke the oath of celibacy. And it’s sort of implied that she was murdered. Their house was burned down. So, Anak got these powers illegally through her mother.
And since her mother… It’s implied she’s murdered. You don’t quite know what happened. But she basically just wants to kill all the Princesses of Jahad because it’s implied that one of the Princesses did it. So, she’s basically out on a vengeance spree against this institution created by the most powerful person in the Tower.
I think it’s really developing this world where this entire system is implied to be evil, but it’s all-encompassing, so everyone has to play a part in it. And just the snippets that we’ve got feel really insightful and interesting, and it’s building on a lot of the characters in interesting ways.
And I’m also surprised by just the sheer number of prominent female characters. Introduced so far, of the top five strongest characters, I think three or four of them are definitely women. And all of them have very prominent personal narratives, which are obviously going to be developed later on in the series as well. The more I watch, the more interesting and encouraged I am in watching more of the series and maybe even picking it up once the season ends.
DEE: That’s really good to hear. It’s one that—because that’s another one you and Chiaki are both watching, and your comments about it make it sound like something I kind of want to check out.
I just… The manhua has been running for ten years, and it hasn’t ended, and I just don’t know if I can commit to that kind of… [pained laughter] I don’t know if I can invest myself in another endless running action series. So, I’m hesitating to jump into it, but I do want to keep hearing about it from you, so that if I do decide to binge it at some point, I’ve got that.
PETER: Yeah. At the moment. I don’t know if anything as far as extensions or new seasons have been announced, so I imagine it literally might just be this season, and then maybe they’ll have to wrap it up in some way. I honestly don’t know anything about the production right now.
DEE: [crosstalk] Your adventure continues.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, at least if you wanted to get a taste with the anime, I feel like they’re probably going to try to make a concise story within the parameters of the season.
DEE: Okay, yeah.
PETER: Currently they’re moving through the first chapters at a pretty fast clip, but it doesn’t feel that way watching it.
DEE: [crosstalk] It felt okay? That’s good. Yeah, let me know how it is at the end, and again, if the first cour is a satisfying story, I’ll pick it up and binge it probably. So, awesome. Yeah, keep us posted on that one.
Next one on the list is my other favorite show of the season—this one just wasn’t a surprise like Princess Connect was—My Next Life as a Villainess, and we are all watching this one, yeah?
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yep.
DEE: Yeah. So, how are y’all enjoying Bakarina?
CAITLIN: It’s wonderful. It is a delight. It makes me happy every time I watch it. They’re all just very good girls and boys. Well, I don’t think all the boys are good, but…
DEE: No, Geordo sucks. And Keith needs to maybe work through his weird crush on his adopted sister. But yeah.
CAITLIN: Also, I really appreciate how, just being a kind person, Catarina has fundamentally changed who Keith was compared to in the original continuity in the game.
DEE: Oh, she’s had a huge impact on everybody’s lives just by virtue of being nice to them, being compassionate and reaching out a hand when nobody else would. Yeah, I love that her superpower is basically being extremely blunt and extremely kind.
PETER: And extremely hungry.
DEE: And extremely hungry. She does love her snacks.
CAITLIN: It’s all very relatable.
CAITLIN: Extremely blunt, extremely kind, extremely hungry.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, folks at home, if you’ve somehow not heard about this one—because I know it’s been getting a lot of buzz on The Twitters—it is… I honestly don’t even want to say it’s lowkey a bisexual harem. It straight up is a bisexual harem. Catarina admires both boys and girls, and it’s pretty obvious from the blushing and the characters, even some of their internal monologues.
I think calling it subtext is not even true. I think it is textually that she has suitors of… I don’t want to say both genders because there’s more [genders] than that, but in the context of the show, you know, guys and girls.
PETER: If you don’t think pretty much every character in the series is romantically interested in her, then you’re willfully ignorant. It’s all right there.
DEE: Yeah. Now, I’ve read the light novels. In the light novels, Sophia is more genuinely like a friend who kind of wants Catarina to hook up with her brother so that they can be besties forever. But I think the anime has gone a lot harder on the crush vibes from that, so if I was just watching the anime, that’s totally how I would be reading Sophia’s relationship with Catarina as well.
Yeah, I enjoy it. I like that aspect of it because… Caitlin, I think you’re with me on this. We’ve seen a lot of harem anime in our day—or reverse-harems, I guess, technically.
CAITLIN: I mean, both.
DEE: You know, it’s a play on the otome genre in a way that I really like, in terms of it cuts out… the evil rival lady character is gone and is just replaced by this sweet girl. And she keeps stealing all the romance flags from the guys on accident. She and Maria have gotten really close.
I’ve been really pleased with the adaptation, because the light novels have some lowkey—“homophobia” is not the right word—heteronormativity. The light novels have some lowkey heteronormativity in them via some of the internal monologues and stuff, and the anime has just completely gotten rid of all that. So I think the show is a lot more inclusive and just fun to watch, and you can just have a good time with it. Again, Geordo kind of sucks, but otherwise, it’s an easy one to get behind and just kind of chuckle with.
Any other thoughts on Villainess?
PETER: I am hoping that there’s some movement soon, because it sort of feels like it’s a very static situation in which… And it’s become apparent that she’s drastically changed the plot of the game. So, I feel at some point that a shoe needs to drop and there needs to be some sort of “So, what does this mean?”
I find the episodes entertaining, but I’m kind of wondering if it just becomes a slice-of-life at this point, because it’s setting up this whole dynamic where she’s in the position of the villain, and she’s basically made it so I don’t think, by any measure, anyone would consider her a villain anymore. So, what happens now?
CAITLIN: I love that she is too stupid to realize that she has changed everything. She’s still all freaked out about all these flags, because she doesn’t realize that, no, everything is different now. She’s not going to get murdered or banished because everyone loves her. But she’s still freaking out about that. I don’t know. It’s just very sweet.
DEE: Yeah, she’s extremely oblivious to how much everyone around her cares about her. [Chuckles] Which is part of the charm of the story, I think. But yeah, so Villainess has been really good. I have a feeling I know where the anime is gonna end, and if they end it where I think they will, it’ll be a really good stopping point and it’ll feel like a full complete story, which will be great. And I’ll just sit over here sipping my spoiler tea beyond that, because I don’t want to give anything away.
PETER: I want to say I am really surprised by how popular it is.
DEE: I’m so glad it’s taken off like it has, because we haven’t had a lady-led isekai in ages. I mean, Bookworm, yes, but it’s a very different vibe. And so it’s been fun to see that subgenre kind of come back and people embracing it. So, yeah, it’s been great.
PETER: Yeah. Yeah, otome game adaptations, typically, they’re not the most popular anime, right?
DEE: Oh, no, they’re not.
PETER: [crosstalk] But this one has taken off. I’ve seen a very even gender divide as far as the fans, too. So, it’s been a very surprising series for me. Everybody seems into it.
DEE: I am so glad it’s popular because that suggests that we’ll get more stories, which would be… I welcome that with open arms.
PETER: Also, it has made my favorite ani-trends chart ever, which I don’t know if I shared that with you.
DEE: Was it the best couples? And like eight of the ten were Catarina and one of her suitors?
PETER: Yes. She occupies eight of the top ten couples of the season. [Chuckles]
DEE: It’s exquisite. She truly has a harem. Nobody can decide who the best one is. It’s fun to watch play out.
Okay, we definitely have to move on because the last two are complicated. Well, one of them is complicated for sure. And we need some time to be able to talk about them.
Next on the list: Wave! Listen to Me! We had put it under Feminist Potential. I would say it is definitely an It’s Complicated show at this point.
DEE: Does anybody else want to start us off, or should I jump into my extremely complicated feelings about it?
CAITLIN: I will talk about my own complicated feelings about it, if you don’t mind.
DEE: Yeah, go for it.
CAITLIN: So, in my first-episode review, my premiere review, I professed my love for Minare. Unfortunately, we have broken up, due to her being a homophobe.
DEE: Yes, she is.
CAITLIN: As the episodes have gone on, it seems like she is not only a homophobe, but she is a woman who declares that any guy who isn’t nice to her is probably gay because she is so hot, how could they not be attracted to her? So, Minare, not a nice person.
DEE: No. No, she’s a disaster-mess, and she’s also kind of shitty.
CAITLIN: Yeah. But I am also still enjoying the show. I have leaned into Minare not just being a disaster-mess, but an unlikable, not remotely nice disaster-mess. And instead of rooting for her, I am seeing how she is going to screw things up next.
I like all of the supporting cast. I’m so bad at remembering names today. Her roommate.
DEE: Is it Mizuho?
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Mizuho.
DEE: Does that sound right?
PETER: Yeah, that sounds right.
CAITLIN: Yes. Mizuho is lovely. I really enjoy the dialogue. I enjoy that not everyone is fast-talking, super verbose like Minare is. I like that most of the people in the show more or less talk like people. Their conversations feel like a conversation that a human would have. Like Mizuho, when she gets locked out, just chilling and chatting with this guy. That felt very human. Or what’s-his-face’s sister with the baby. I can’t do names today, guys.
DEE: Oh, yeah. I think he just goes by Nakahara in the show. But that’s who you’re talking about, her coworker.
CAITLIN: Yeah, Nakahara. Nakahara kind of sucks because he definitely tried to grab Minare’s butt while she appeared to be passed out, which… not cool, guys.
CAITLIN: But his sister seems really cool. And yeah, I enjoy watching all the characters interact and watching Minare be a complete disaster even though I can’t love Minare anymore. I’m sorry.
DEE: Yeah, no, I think that’s totally fair. Yeah, I almost dropped it after episode 3, which was the one where she goes on that big tirade about their boss and you find out she’s a big ol’ homophobe, and also that the show apparently wants to depict its one gay character as being predatory. I almost just turned it off.
And then the tail end of episode 3 has that really good, grounded conversation between her and Mizuho where Mizuho says, “You know, I appreciate what you did on the radio the other day because you’re shouting the things that most of us just keep inside. And it’s really cathartic to be able to listen to that.” And I was like “Shit. Okay, I actually really liked that conversation. I guess I’ll give it another try.”
And I think since then, I have gradually enjoyed it more and more as she’s gotten more into her radio gig and we get more of her in the studio doing her segments. And the show has gotten weird and surreal in a way I wasn’t expecting.
DEE: So, the further it untethers from reality, the easier it is for me to enjoy it. And again, I don’t like Minare, and I’ve reached a point now where I genuinely don’t know if I’m supposed to. I feel like we’re constantly making comparisons to Always Sunny in Philadelphia on this damn podcast, but in that, you’re clearly not supposed to like the cast. They’re supposed to be dirtbags. I don’t know—
CAITLIN: This might be more Seinfeld than Always Sunny.
DEE: Yeah. I think I’m supposed to like her and I don’t. But as the show’s gone on and we’ve gotten more into the other characters around her… There was another really good round of conversation between Nakahara’s sister and Makie Tachibana, the girl who is fleeing an abusive brother.
So you’ll have these moments of genuine human pathos with the other characters. And so, tonally, it’s really weird, but the weirder it gets, the more I’m willing to just roll with the tonal weirdness of it, because it starts to feel like it’s a feature and not a bug. But yeah, it’s a tough recommendation, because it is so all over the map.
And there will be long stretches of episodes where they just spend time making references to Japanese radio shows, which I’m sure if you’re into Japanese radio are really great. But it’s kind of like if there was a TV show in America about podcasts and they just kept making references to Night Vale and the McElroys. People who knew what that was would get a kick, and everybody else would be like “Am I supposed to be laughing? This conversation is boring to me. I have no idea who these people are.”
So, yeah, it’s been up and down for me. It’s complicated, but I will say that I think once I changed my expectations of it after episode 3, I was surprised to find myself enjoying it more as it went forward, because I really did not care for episodes 2 and 3. So, yeah, I’m gonna keep up with it.
Peter, what do you think about it?
PETER: I already had some opinions on this before the anime even came around, because I was scrolling around Crunchyroll Manga and I found out that we had a series by Hiroaki Samura. A big fan from Blade of the Immortal, so I was like “Oh, holy shit.” And I just couldn’t make any headway into the series. And I think my big problem with it was just that Minare doesn’t seem to have any agency whatsoever in the story.
DEE: She’s very reactive. Yeah.
PETER: Yeah. And it frames like she is in a shitty situation, and an opportunity comes along that allows her to pull herself out of it and fix her shit and maybe become successful and find her calling, except that it doesn’t feel like any of it involves active decision-making on her part, and a lot of weird going behind her back by the producer guy as well. Like, the whole reason she gets into—
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, Mato also sucks.
PETER: Yeah. The way she gets in, to me, was just horrifying, the way her drunken ramblings were broadcast all across Hokkaido.
DEE: Yeah, it’s pretty awful.
PETER: Yeah. It just feels like she doesn’t make any decisions and a lot of stuff is done that she would never have agreed to, and that’s kind of how the plot moves itself forward, which is very squicky for me.
DEE: Yeah. I think that’s another element that they’ve improved on a little bit in the past couple of weeks. They’re starting to ask her to come up with segment ideas, and she’s actively reaching out to the studio in ways that she wasn’t early on. So I think in some ways, it is remedying that a little bit. But yeah, I agree that that also was very off-putting for me in those early episodes as well.
I wouldn’t blame anybody if they checked out around episode 3, to be honest. Yeah, I stuck with it mostly because, like Caitlin said, I have a lot of free time, and also, it was at the top of our list as far as potential-type stuff went, so I was like, “Ugh, I probably should be watching this one.”
But yeah, the weirder it gets… Now there’s some kind of an exorcism plotline, but I haven’t seen the latest episode, so I’m not sure how that’s going to resolve itself. The weirder it gets, the more I’m willing to kind of roll with its missteps, because it stops being grounded in anything similar to the real world.
PETER: Yeah, my prediction is this is going to be kind of like… what do you call it? This is how she’s conveying what happened on the radio later. So it’s not actually what happened, or we never get to find out what happens because we just get her story later on, which includes fantastical elements like the bear thing.
DEE: Oh, that’s an interesting theory. Yeah, we’ll see how that shakes out. I guess, folks at home might know by the time this episode drops. Let’s just leave it there. We’re running over time anyway. And we still need to spend at least a little bit of time on Art. Arte? Arte.
DEE: Here at the end. So, Arte was at the top of our list because it’s a historical fiction about a young woman who wants to be a painter in Florence, Italy, in, what, the 1500s, roundabout-ish?
PETER: Sure. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Yeah, just Renaissance.
PETER: [crosstalk] Renaissance, yeah.
DEE: Renaissance, yeah.
CAITLIN: They start talking about the pope commissioning a lot of art, and so a lot of the art is moving to Rome, which could be a hint about historical context. I don’t know. I’m not a historian.
DEE: Anyway, sometime around that period. And the first episode was very much about her fighting against the system. And in our three-episode review, I came in extremely lukewarm on it because it wants to ground itself in reality but it oversimplifies the realistic elements, and I think that’s a really bad way to do a story like this. You can either just go completely into the realm of fiction and the fantastical and keep it simple—and that can be fine—or if you’re going to ground it, you need to make it more nuanced.
I was really struggling with this one at episode 3. Much like Wave, I recalibrated my expectations for it, and I have found myself enjoying it more, the last few. And I think part of it is because the show isn’t harping quite as hard on the “Because you’re a woman!” type stuff as it was in the early going. I think expanding the cast, giving Arte more to do and more people to interact with has helped out a lot.
I like her courtesan friend. And the episode where she learned how to negotiate, I thought that one was really well handled as well, because it showed her taking the initiative and being proactive, which was really good. So, I’ve liked it better over the past few episodes.
It is not a progressive manifesto. It thinks it is. It’s not.
DEE: But I’m here for Arte as a character. I think she’s hardworking and doing her best and figuring things out, and so I can watch her do that. So that’s about where I am with Arte.
CAITLIN: Yeah. Yeah, no, I agree with pretty much everything there that you’ve said. It so very simplifies all the institutional issues because everyone’s being like “You can’t do this thing because you’re a woman!” It’s like, really? You’re acting like women did nothing!
But women have always worked. Women have always done certain kinds of labor. They weren’t just locked away inside the house all the time. And the stuff in one of the first episodes with Angelo’s sisters, where they just sit around and they do nothing.
DEE: [crosstalk] I hate that episode.
CAITLIN: And they expect him to do everything, because women do nothing. And eventually, after being inspired by seeing Arte pull a cart, he comes home and he’s like “How about you guys actually try doing something for yourselves once?” And he says it with this big smile, like it’s this big, inspirational new idea, and it was just so absurd.
DEE: Yeah, I hated that episode—also because, earlier, when he comes home, one of them even comments about how she’s been… They are actually working during the day. One of them was doing… I don’t remember what she said, but she sat down and she was like “Oh, God, can you rub my feet? I’ve been up on them all day,” doing some kind of a job. And I was like, okay, so it’s not like they’re just sitting around the house doing nothing.
But I do agree. I think the show has this understanding of women from that time period solely based on stories about the nobility, where maybe there would have been more of just overseeing a house because you were rich and you had money to have other people do work for you. But the actual peasantry, like the artisan kid Angelo’s family, they would have been doing shit. They would not have had the luxury of just sitting around.
So yeah, I think it has a bootstrap mentality that I do not care for. But as long as it doesn’t harp on that too hard and it’s just about Arte working, getting better at her job, I can enjoy it. So, that’s where I am with it. Again, it’s not gonna be like a Feminist Trademark (TM) Anime, but I like it at this point. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend it, but I wouldn’t warn people away from it. I’d just be like “Temper your expectations. It’s not going to do what you maybe hoped it would do.”
CAITLIN: No, for people who are looking at women who are trying to work in a traditionally male-dominated field, I honestly… I was watching it. I was thinking a little bit about the parallels with Miss Hokusai.
DEE: Yeah, I thought about that, too. Miss Hokusai, I think, is a better depiction. Yeah, it’s a lot more realistic and nuanced.
CAITLIN: Because Arte is like… You know, the men look at Arte and they go, “You can’t do this.” And then Arte works really hard, and she proves herself, and then the men respect her.
DEE: Yeah, that’s not how it works out.
CAITLIN: No, that’s not how that works out. It’s such a simplistic thing. And yeah, Miss Hokusai more indirectly talks about the barriers that O-Ei faces as a female artist in a time when female artists were rare and not having access to certain things and different people’s attitudes towards her. Anyway, watch Miss Hokusai.
DEE: Any other final thoughts on this one, or should we go forward?
PETER: Yeah, I’m good.
DEE: There are sequels and carryovers and things that we could discuss, but let’s go ahead and just save that for the end of season, where maybe we’ll be able to skim over some of these other titles a little bit more, depending upon how the season shakes out.
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