Dee, Chiaki, and Peter check in on the Fall 2020 season, from demon girls to sleepy gremlins!
Date Recorded: November 7th, 2020
Hosts: Dee, Chiaki, Peter
0:02:33 Our Last Crusade
0:03:51 Assault Lily Bouquet
0:06:19 Ikebukuro West Gate Park
0:10:58 Higurashi Gou
0:13:40 Dropout Idol Fruit Tart
0:14:13 Warlords of Sigrdrifa
0:19:34 TONIKAWA: Over the Moon for You
0:21:01 Moriarty the Patriot
0:24:02 Maeasetsu! Opening Act
0:24:34 Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
0:27:04 JUJUTSU KAISEN
0:32:43 I’m Standing on a Million Lives
0:34:19 Dragon Quest: Adventure of Dai
0:35:35 D4DJ First Mix
0:37:42 Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
0:42:57 Talentless Nana
0:47:09 Iwakakeru! -Sports Climbing Girls-
0:49:52 MAGATSU WAHRHEIT
0:53:04 Akudama Drive
0:55:48 Adachi and Shimamura
0:58:18 Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
1:03:01 Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle
1:07:05 Gymnastics Samurai
DEE: Can you guys hear a weird noise in the background on my end, or are we good? Because my cat is ferociously sneezing on the other side of the room, and if that was coming in, I just wanted to let everybody know what it was. But if you can’t hear it at all—
PETER: [crosstalk] I did hear that.
DEE: You can, okay. Folks at home, my cat is ferociously sneezing. He caught a kitty cold this week.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Mrow!
DEE: He’s fine. He’s just sneezing. [chuckles] And of course he decided to have a sneezing fit in the middle of the recording. [laughing] And now my other cat is checking up on him, and he’s getting mad, and now they’re fighting. I love that.
CHIAKI: Okay, honestly, this is the show of the season.
DEE: Yeah, I’m going to just narrate to you guys the drama happening in my living room, and that’ll be the rest of the podcast. Sorry, folks at home! We are now doing a cat podcast drama.
PETER: Catty AF.
DEE: Catty AF! Yay! Good job, Peter.
PETER: Thank you.
DEE: You got us there.
[Opening theme plays]
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, an 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 my fellow AniFem staffers Chiaki and Peter.
CHIAKI: Hi, I am Chiaki, one of the editors for AniFem, and you can find me at @Chiaki747 or @AnimatedEmpress on Twitter. One’s private and one’s a shitpost account. Have at it.
PETER: And I’m Peter. I’m a producer at Crunchyroll, editor at Anime Feminist. My Twitter is @PeterFobian.
DEE: And today we are checking in on the Fall 2020 season. It is our midseason spectacular. The timing on this one is a little awkward just because of our schedule, so we’re not 100% at the midseason, but we’re a few weeks out from three-episode, so we figured this would be a good time to check in on shows.
We’re also recording on a Saturday, and a lot of shows drop on Saturday and Sunday this season, so if we seem like we’re a little bit behind by the time you guys listen to this, that explains why. But we are going to tell you all the cool things that we can tell you about the shows we have seen.
So, we’ll use our premiere digest ranking’s organization system to get going here as, if you’ve never been on one of these calls, that’s how we do ‘em. We’re gonna start from the bottom of our list, which looks like… We’ll go real quick through the bottom, just if there’s anything new to announce about the show since the three-episode check-in. For Red Flags, we had Our Last Crusade and Assault Lily Bouquet. Peter and Chiaki, you’re both watching Our Last Crusade? Is this correct?
DEE: Is there anything new to say about it since the three-episode check-in?
PETER: I believe it was Red Flags because there was the bath scene in the first episode. Was that the major concern?
CHIAKI: No, you also had the stare-at-the-butt introduction for one of the characters.
PETER: Oh, yeah.
DEE: Wasn’t it just relentless fanservice?
CHIAKI: Yeah, it was relentless fanservice, and, as I said in the three-episode review, it kind of died down.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, it did.
CHIAKI: It’s become much more of a typical action, shounen-y, romance Romeo-and-Juliet story. It’s a little contrived, in my opinion. But it’s not terrible.
PETER: If anything, it’s too cute now. But yeah, I do feel it’s that phenomenon where I think it just frontloaded a lot of fanservice to get in new fans and then became not like that.
DEE: Yeah. So, probably more of a Yellow Flags type show, but it doesn’t sound like it’s doing anything dramatically, excitingly different than what it was doing in the three-episodes check-in.
PETER: Yeah. Just super contrived. Just the most by-the-numbers fantasy series I’ve watched in quite a while, I think.
DEE: So, probably not a whole lot to say about that, and we can just jump forward.
I know basically nobody’s watching Assault Lily Bouquet. I think Mercedes might be keeping up with it, but she’s angrily watching it, so we can skip past that one, too. Lot of thigh shots and some assault-based comedy, from what folks have told me. So, yay.
All right, we’ll move up into the Yellow Flags, then. Peter, we actually didn’t talk about Noblesse in our three-episode check-in because you are the only person on staff watching it.
PETER: What the heck?
DEE: How is it from that first episode?
PETER: I think it gets a lot better. It definitely helps if you watch the OVA beforehand. But even barring that, I think the setup of the series becomes pretty obvious once you’ve watched a couple episodes. I don’t think it’s too complex. I actually think it’s been pretty fun and cute. There’s a subplot going around where all the villains started making friends unknowingly with members of the good guy’s squad.
DEE: Oh, I love it when that happens. [chuckles]
PETER: Then a conflict came up, and everybody was very surprised to see the enemy on the other side, and now everybody’s hedging on whether they should fight each other or not. Some of the villains are evil-evil, but the hacker guy made friends with the kid with glasses when they were doing competitive hacking or something. Then they had an IRL meetup over coffee, and it was really cute. I’m having a lot of fun with it now, actually. I think it’s gotten a lot better.
DEE: Cool! That’s good to know. It’s one of those seasons where it’s so packed, I don’t know if I’m going to have time to try anything that I didn’t try right off the bat, but I definitely won’t take it totally off my list, since it sounds like it— Is it a vampire show, or am I making that up?
PETER: They are not vampires. They’re…
PETER: The only difference between them and vampires is they don’t drink blood. Everything else about vampires is pretty accurate, though.
DEE: So, they’re just supernatural immortals, then?
PETER: Yeah. I don’t quite know yet, but I think their job is to protect humanity. From what, I don’t know. And the Union is trying to use their powers for evil or something like that.
DEE: Huh. Okay. Well, sounds like it’s one that’s not necessarily done anything concerning, so if folks were interested in it… And then, yeah, like you said, I’ve heard you pretty much have to… watching the OVA beforehand, which I think it’s all on Crunchyroll, so…
PETER: Yeah, it is.
DEE: Yeah. Would probably be a good idea, because I know a lot of people who tried to watch that first episode were just lost, like “What the hell is this?” So, yeah, checking out the OVA would probably be a good plan.
Okay, so no one’s watching King’s Raid, because why would you? Ikebukuro West Gate Park… Chiaki, you went ahead and dropped that one because it was very… How did you describe it? “How do you do, fellow kids?” Right?
CHIAKI: Yeah, “How do you do, fellow kids?” I don’t understand why any youth will ever watch that show. It’s sponsored by DARE!
PETER: Are you serious? Is that a joke?
PETER: Okay, okay. [chuckles]
DEE: I don’t think DARE exists anymore.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] DARE dissolved.
DEE: I bet some of our listeners are like, “What the fuck is DARE?” [chuckles] “You old people!”
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] “Don’t do drug, kids!”
DEE: “You old people with your DARE programs.” Yeah, that was the sense I’d gotten from the little bit I watched of it, too. So, good to know. Nothing else really to say there.
Okay, next on the list, which we weren’t able to get a three-episode check-in out on it, I don’t think… If we did, it’ll end up going up late. But it is Hypnosis Mic, which I described as the comedy of the season after the second episode killed me so hard, I literally ROFL’d and had to pause the TV. Chiaki, you’re keeping up with this one, too?
CHIAKI: Yes, I am. The most recent episodes are finally re-introducing people to what the central conceit is. It’s been alluded to in the first episode, like they’re going to have all the rap boys battle each other out so that the people up top can stay in power.
But they’re finally analyzing who these guys are rather than just doing episodic “Hey, look at these guys!” They even introduced what kind of raps they do in the most recent episode. So, I feel like it takes a little while to get into where you feel good about the show, like you know what’s going on. But it’s been a fun ride either way. Nothing makes sense. [chuckles]
DEE: Yeah. It’s kind of inherently ridiculous, and I think it depends on who’s storyboarding and who’s directing each episode, because some of them seem a lot more self-aware about how ridiculous the show is while others do not.
I don’t think we ever officially mention this in any of our reviews because we didn’t know about it at the time, but it’s probably worth noting that one of the voice actors did blackface, and it was terrible and a real bad thing that he did, so, just letting folks know that that is a background piece to be aware of with this show.
For me, since it’s just one voice actor in a huge cast and no one involved in the production side had anything to do with it—it wasn’t related to Hypnosis Mic at all—I’m able to still watch the show while thinking, “Hey, fuck that guy,” to the dude who did that. But obviously, everybody’s threshold levels and stuff are different, so, letting people know out the gate that that is an issue on the production side of this show.
CHIAKI: It is unfortunate that the person in question is Ichiro, the main guy of the Buster Brothers.
DEE: Yeah. Well, especially because I found out after their focus episode, and I was like, “Oh, I like this guy. He’s a good rapper. This is fun.” And then I found out that about him and I was like, “Damn it!”
PETER: He is the titular Hypnosis Mic, right?
DEE: They all have Hypnosis Mics. That’s how you—
PETER: I thought that was that guy’s name, the one who did the blackface.
DEE: No, it’s just Ichiro. He’s Brother Number One. They’re the only people’s names I can remember because their names literally just mean “first son, second son, third son.” So, they’re the only ones I can remember!
CHIAKI: I can’t tell Jiro and Saburo apart, though. They’re like a set.
DEE: Saburo’s the hacker, I think. I think that’s it.
CHIAKI: I’m not even sure.
DEE: You know what? It’s not important.
CHIAKI: I’m a Doppo stan, by the way.
DEE: [chuckles] Okay. Yeah, for me it’s been kind of up and down. The episodes that are more self-aware about how inherently silly the whole concept is, I think those are the better ones. When it starts to play itself more straight, I start to lose interest a little bit. But the raps are fun—not always good, but fun. It’s a very energetic show. The way they do the kinetic typography and everything for the raps and stuff is pretty cool. So, I’m still keeping up with it.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Yeah, that is amazing work.
DEE: I’m not as over-the-moon delighted with it as I was in the first couple episodes, which I kind of thought would be the case. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be able to maintain that for a full cour. But I haven’t seen the most recent episode, and like you said, now that we’re getting into the actual competition and them engaging directly with this fascist government, I’m kind of curious to see where the show goes from here. But we don’t need to spend a ton of time on Hypnosis Mic. ‘Tis a silly show.
Let’s move on to Higurashi Gou, which, Chiaki… Wow, you’re the only person here who’s watching that one still. I watched the first episode and it really didn’t do anything for me, and I really liked the original Higurashi. But the new one I just… It felt like a lackluster version of the original, so I was like, “I don’t need to keep up with this.” But you are, yeah, and you’re enjoying it pretty well.
CHIAKI: Yeah. I dipped into the original series, which is on VRV, I guess, just to compare.
DEE: And HiDIVE. Yeah.
CHIAKI: Or HiDIVE, right. I feel the original had more character, definitely. It was definitely a lot more animated, or not as done straight.
CHIAKI: I’m still enjoying it. I haven’t actually formally watched Higurashi before, so this is my entry into it, and it’s doing well as an entry to this franchise.
DEE: [crosstalk] That’s good. Yeah, I’m glad to hear that.
CHIAKI: Production values are pretty snappy, so it’s fine. They are getting into the Angel Mort section, the second arc. The waitress costumes are very revealing.
PETER: Oh, no.
DEE: Oh, okay.
CHIAKI: It’s not played to be absolutely nothing but fanservice. The framing isn’t lewd, but it’s still very apparent.
DEE: Yeah. But they’re still wearing scantily clad maid outfits. Yeah. I gotcha. So, definitely something for folks to keep in mind, and obviously, the violence and gore aspect of it is a content warning that’s maybe not feminist-relevant necessarily, but something for folks at home to be aware of.
CHIAKI: The ending of the first arc was definitely very difficult for me to watch, as somebody who does not like psychological horror that much. [chuckles]
DEE: I’m surprised you’re sticking with this one, then, because Higurashi is very much a suspense horror show.
PETER: Yeah, that’s the premise, right?
CHIAKI: Because all of my girlfriends so far have loved this show and have told me to get into these visual novels, and I feel like I might as well.
PETER: Oh, okay.
DEE: [chuckles] So, you’re going to power through it. Yeah, I remember you were like, “I have to keep taking breaks.” You were basically live-tweeting it, and it was like, “Oh, Chiaki! Why are you doing this to yourself?”
PETER: Yeah. I get it now, though.
DEE: Yeah. No, no, no, I am glad you’re enjoying it as much as you can, given that it’s not necessarily your genre. But power to you for keeping up with it, for sure. Anything else on that one that you feel like listeners should know about, or should we skip on ahead? We’ve got plenty of stuff to talk about.
CHIAKI: I think we’re good.
DEE: Okay, cool. None of us are keeping up with Dropout Idol Fruit Tart. Mercedes wrote a phenomenally scathing review of it—and she’s like the nicest person I know, so if she’s destroying your show, something has gone terribly wrong—for our three-episode check-in, so take a look at that if you want. It made me laugh a lot.
PETER: She’s a major idol fan, too, so…
DEE: Yeah, she loves idol shows and she was like, “I’m so mad at this show!” And the review is hilarious, so, yeah, I thought it was great. But yeah, check out our three-episode if you want an update on that one.
So, the next one on the list is Warlords of Sigrdrifa, which I probably butchered the pronunciation of, but I’m doing better than I was at the beginning when I would try and then just immediately start doing a Swedish Chef impression. Chiaki, you and I are both keeping up with that. Peter popped into it and then popped out again, it looks like. I wrote the three-episode check-in, so, Chiaki, I’m going to let you take point on this. How are you feeling about Sigrdrifa?
CHIAKI: The action isn’t as enchanting as it was in the first episode for me. It’s just becoming a “cute girls doing cute things, except it’s warplanes” kind of show for me now. Also, I’m noticing that it’s gotten considerably hornier in these recent episodes.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah. It definitely has.
CHIAKI: Butt-slapping and all that. Butt-slapping men, mind you… which was kind of hot and funny, but also, “where did this come from?” is my question.
DEE: Yeah. I briefly touched on the fourth episode in the three-episode check-in just because it dropped the week before we published the three-episode, and I was like, “I have to talk about this one, because the fanservice suddenly is there when it really hadn’t been up to that point.”
Yeah, it was such a weird episode because there’s things about it that I absolutely hated. Like, some of the leering camera angles on the girls when they’re in their swimsuits. It’s obviously contrived. There’s a really shitty joke where one of the girls… They’re in the planes, and basically, they’ve got the center stick. And she makes some comment about, like, now she can’t get married, and I was like, “Wow! That is shitty on a lot of levels, this joke that you just made.”
So, on that end, there was a lot of things about it I didn’t like. But then at the same time, that episode was absolutely ridiculous, and the dudes in loincloths slapping their asses and the pretty boy falling to his death—but he’s fine—over and over again… It ramped it up to this level of absurdity that I’m very into, so I couldn’t get as annoyed about that episode as I wanted to. But I feel like the next episode, too, they introduced a new character whose outfit is absurdly revealing.
DEE: And just some lazy… I mean, she’s basically wearing jean shorts that are like bikini jean shorts, which sounds extremely uncomfortable, for one, and for two, I don’t think people wear shorts that short, for the most part. And the camera work in episode five was kind of lazy. I haven’t watched six yet because it just came out today. As we’re recording this, it dropped, so…
CHIAKI: Neither have I. But it sounds like story-wise they’re finally getting back on track after five.
DEE: Yeah, they’re sliding back into… Well, they’ve got a big mission coming up. And that was the thing. Episode five was basically a “calm before the storm”-type episode setting up for whatever the final push will be as they’re trying to take out these pillars. And I’m here for it.
I think it firmly belongs in the Yellow Flags category now. I would move it out of Harmless Fun because of the fanservicey type stuff that it’s been doing. But I do enjoy it. For the most part, I find the dialogue pretty snappy. I like the characters. I think they have more personality than your standard, milquetoast cute girls.
And every once in a while, it’ll do something I really, really like. Like, I really liked the way episode three took a turn into the more melancholy realities of war and how the Valkyries have a dual job of both fighting these pillars and also giving the other soldiers hope. So, I enjoyed that about it, as well. It’s definitely “problematic fave” territory, but I’m liking it a lot more than I thought I would.
CHIAKI: Yeah, that was a pretty good look into the bigger lives of everyone in this world. I will say, one thing about Claudia is that her father was really into Japan. Here’s this European white girl who comes to Japan and she’s wielding a katana and studying in the dojo, and I’m like, “Really? She’s like the total weeb? We already have Miyako, who’s pretty Japanese on her own.” I felt like, “Why is she like that?”
DEE: I don’t have an answer for you. [chuckles]
CHIAKI: I’m just sitting there going like, “Why are you like this?”
DEE: Yeah. I thought the joke there about how she comes to Japan expecting all the guys to be stoic samurai and all the women to be this really feminine, perfect model of the gentlelady type, and then it’s not that at all… I thought that was kind of funny because it was very much: somebody visits a country once and comes back with these really generic concepts and then passes it along to their kid and their kid’s like, “Wait. That’s not actually what it’s like here at all!” I thought that element of it was kind of amusing. But yeah, I don’t know why they wanted her to have a weeb background, but they did, so… you’d have to ask the creators.
CHIAKI: That’s true.
DEE: Let’s go ahead and move on. Peter, do you have anything to say about Tonikawa that we didn’t say up till the three-episode check-in?
PETER: Probably not. It’s maintaining the course. I think it’s a little bit better now because… I think everybody was not liking how they were being very bashful despite the fact that they were married. I think it’s starting to move past that a little bit. They’re smooching regularly now, and the anime exclusively calls it smooching. That’s just the translation decision.
PETER: But yeah, they’re going to go meet his parents, and they’re on their honeymoon, so I think it’s actually trying to develop them into where they’re more comfortable with the marriage. Which I think is nice, because if it was 100% about them going, “Is it really okay to sleep in the same bed as my wife?” it would be kind of a weird, awkward 12 episodes. So, there’s progression, I guess is what I wanted to highlight.
DEE: Yeah. Well, that’s good.
CHIAKI: Is it better than Mr. Boop?
PETER: I don’t know what that is.
CHIAKI: Okay, never mind, then.
DEE: Sorry. Somebody at home thought that was good. [chuckles] Sorry, Chiaki.
PETER: Yeah, comment if you know what Mr. Boop is.
DEE: I dropped it at three, and Caitlin was actually nicer to it in the three-episode than I probably would have been, but we’ve got other stuff to talk about. I’m not gonna get into it. Folks, if you want to know our thoughts on Tonikawa, the three-episode check-in’s probably the best place to pop in and look at that.
Moriarty the Patriot. Chiaki, you are keeping up with this one. This is one I thought about going back to, because I heard it got a lot better after the first episode, but I just haven’t had time. How it’s going since then?
CHIAKI: I feel episode two and three are possibly a fluke.
DEE: Oh no.
CHIAKI: Unfortunately. So, it’s a good show, overall. I feel episodes two and three really set up the premise into making you like the Moriarty boys a little bit more than what you got in the first episode.
I really do not understand why they did the first episode. It does not tell anything about what the story is really going to be about, which is putting an end to the upper class—or at least putting an end to corruption in the upper class. I’ve been reading the manga. Hint, hint: please check out the Shonen Jump cast that we’re going to be recording in about a month.
DEE: Hey-o! [chuckles]
CHIAKI: And the manga picks up right at the start of episode two. And then it’s been following the same sort of story, but the anime, I feel, is making a lot of artistic decisions—or however you put it. They’re changing things around, and it doesn’t work as well half the time.
DEE: Oh, they’re reorganizing the content. I gotcha.
CHIAKI: Or reorganizing character motivations…
DEE: Oh, wow. Okay, so, it’s a lot of adaptation differences, then.
CHIAKI: Yeah. And it’s also got some… As Vrai said in the first-episode review, William James Moriarty is way too perfect. [Episodes] two and three, they’re kids, so you get that bit of character development where they’re still young and they’re gaining their drive to doing whatever they’re doing as adults. Once an adult, William’s just perfect and he’s not interesting again. Episode four on, I’m not enchanted by him anymore.
DEE: Ah, that’s too bad. Yeah, so kind of a bland protagonist. So, at this point, you would hold off on recommending it. Does that seem fair to say? [unintelligible beneath crosstalk] keeping up with it?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Yeah, I mean, I’ll…
PETER: Manga’s better?
CHIAKI: Yeah, I’ll try to keep up and see how it goes, but I feel it’s going to settle back into the bland territory at this rate.
DEE: That’s too bad. Yeah, because I knew it started to get a little bit of hype after that episode two/three two-parter, so that’s too bad. But maybe it’ll dip back in there. So, you can hopefully be on the season finale podcast and we can check in and see how that one shook out.
CHIAKI: That means I have to keep up with all the anime I’m watching.
DEE: I know! There’s so much. It’s very difficult.
DEE: I’ve found myself culling stuff not even necessarily because I hated it, but I didn’t love it and there was other stuff to watch. We’re going to get to one of those in about half a second here.
Next one on the list is Maesetsu, which was the manzai comedy show. Mercedes did the three-episode check-in for it. Folks, check that out. She’s pretty high up on it. I gave it a try. I found it aggressively unfunny [chuckles], so, I dropped it, but comedy is very much a Your Mileage May Vary. There wasn’t anything in it that I hated, so maybe worth giving a try, especially if you enjoy Cute Girl-style shows and cute girls hanging out and following their dreams and all that good stuff.
Next on the list is Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, which I have officially dropped after three episodes. I didn’t dislike it. Maybe I got through four episodes. Anyway, I didn’t dislike it. I just found it kind of running on Goof Troop Time where I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to be near the end of the episode. No, I’m only 15 minutes in. That’s weird.” [chuckles] So, I went ahead and dropped it just for that. It wasn’t really charming me. But I know a lot of people who are really enjoying this one. And how are you doing with it, Chiaki?
CHIAKI: It’s nice. Yeah, no, it’s definitely Harmless Fun. Nothing really weird going on. I will say it was a little weird of them to mention that her panties will never get soiled. That’s the—
DEE: Yeah! That started an episode. That was weird. Otherwise, it’s been just cute Harmless Fun type stuff.
CHIAKI: Absolutely PG, yeah. Yeah, no, it’s nice. The girl’s just getting to expand her family in the isekai. They help out orphans. They raise chickens. It’s cute. It’s nice. Nothing else to report.
DEE: Yeah. The vibe I got from it was it’s kind of that isekai iyashikei—which is a lot of words to throw at listeners—but that style of getting transported to another world and then just chilling and building a found family and having a nice time.
Yeah, there was nothing about it that I disliked. Definitely, in a weaker season, I think I would still be keeping up with it, because it was pleasant enough. But I had this problem with it where I kept watching it and going, “I really wish this was just the second season of Bofuri,” because the concepts are really similar, but I think Bofuri has a lot more energy and a broader cast and does it a little bit better.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I was going to say, if you like Bofuri, this is nice.
DEE: It’s definitely in the same vein. I think the question will just be if you’ll be satisfied by it or you’ll be like me going, [inhales through teeth] “I’ve seen it done better really recently, though, so…” I think that made it a little bit of a trickier sell for me. But, again, nothing that I would necessarily warn folks away from, so if you like those “chill out in another world,” video game-style stories, it’s totally nice. Yeah, definitely give it a try.
Okay, next one on the list, we are all watching Jujutsu Kaisen, which I think is going to end up being my surprise fave of the season, even though I know we’re only halfway in.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] The OP slaps!
DEE: The OP does slap, as does the ED.
PETER: [crosstalk] And the ED slaps.
DEE: Yeah, I was going to say both the opening and ending are really good. What do you think about the stuff in between the opening and endings, Chiaki and Peter? Peter, you’ve been super quiet.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Wait, there’s a show?
DEE: Yeah, sorry. Chiaki, there is a show in between the music videos.
PETER: You just watch the first minute 30 seconds, then you skip to the end, Chiaki?
DEE: Well, you said you don’t like horror and gore, so maybe that’d be the optimal way to watch Jujutsu Kaisen.
CHIAKI: I mean, this is for me a lot more fun. I tried to read the manga, and it just got really gory. Jujutsu Kaisen, at least, I can look away and keep the show going if it gets too much for me.
DEE: That’s true.
CHIAKI: So, I get to hone in just on the story bits, and for me, that’s perfect. I like this show a lot.
PETER: Are you okay with body horror?
CHIAKI: [sighs] Yeah, I mean… Yeah, sometimes, usually. I’m doing all right with the show.
PETER: All right, because I know there’s distinct categories, but somebody later on, their power’s literally body horror, so I don’t know if that’s going to be…
DEE: Something to let people know. I really feel like Vrai should give this one a try. I know their list is packed, but I feel like especially the horror and body horror elements and the gore and stuff, the ghost story elements, I think that is extremely up their alley.
I’m really surprised at how much I liked this one, because I really had a hard time with the first episode and did not think I was going to come back to it. But it had enough buzz around it that I was like, “Yeah, well, I didn’t hate it. I’ll give it another one and see how it goes.” And pretty much immediately, I liked it a lot better and have been really enjoying it.
The horror and action, it’s really well done. First of all, it looks beautiful. It’s really genuinely intense. We were three or four episodes in, and characters were losing limbs and possibly dying, and I was like, “Well, I know they’re not actually going to die, but this is pretty serious and I don’t know how this is going to shake out.” I think it’s well done. It so far has treated all of its characters really well.
It’s a Shonen JUMP series, for folks at home who don’t know. So far, I don’t think it’s had any of what I would consider your standard JUMP Bullshit. [chuckles] I really appreciate that about it, because that’s usually what pulls me away from JUMP shows eventually, and I think this one is doing a really good job with its cast. And it has a really good sense of humor and doesn’t feel the need to lean into gross jokes, like shitty sexism-type stuff that a lot of series in the shounen-action category will.
So, again, if you can handle gore and body horror, there’s not a lot of feminist-relevant concerns with this one. I think it’s more just the violence aspect. Yeah, I like it a lot, so I’m excited to keep up with this one.
PETER: Yeah. I think Jujutsu Kaisen’s in my top three Shonen JUMP series right now. I think Shonen JUMP’s doing a lot more mature stuff than usual right now, kind of experimenting with darker stuff, gorier stuff like this and Chainsaw Man in particular.
DEE: It’s an interesting one because it’s starting to hit some of the same kind of beats, like… they go to a school—they have a supernatural school; they have a teacher who’s teaching them how to use their powers; and they’re fighting villains, and there’s kind of a Big Bad who’s growing in the background and is doing some pretty heinous shit [chuckles] in cafés—and I won’t say anything else past that.
And now, they’re in kind of a training arc right now, so it hits the beats that you would expect in a JUMP series, but the way it does them is very different. Yuji’s training with the haunted doll that hits him when he forgets to pump it full of energy is hysterical. It’s taking a lot of those well-worn beats, but it’s executing them in a way that reminds me more of a shounen that might run in a Gangan Fantasy magazine, like something more in the line of a Soul Eater or a Fullmetal Alchemist, which is more my speed anyway.
So, yeah, I am impressed by this one, and I’m curious to see where it goes. And I hope Nobara gets more screen time, because she’s great.
PETER: Yeah, she does. Kugisaki, I think, was one of the things that initially attracted me to this series because she’s just like… One of the things that I thought was really tragic about Sakura was she had that Inner Sakura/Outer Sakura thing where there was her public face, and then on the inside, she was kind of like a shitty little kid. But Kugisaki is very aggressive and being exactly the way she wants to be and not caring what you think about her, and that’s—
DEE: Oh, she’s a total shitlord and it’s great. And one thing I really like about her is she’s not depicted as cute at all. It’s not even just a matter of “Well, they don’t sexualize her,” which is a low bar. But I think it’s very rare to find a primary shounen female character who’s not only not sexualized—you can find that in other series, and that’s great—but is also almost actively presented as not being cute at all. She is a gremlin, and it’s great. [chuckles] I enjoy her a lot.
So, yeah, I am curious to see what they do with the whole cast and expanding on them and moving forward. We should probably move on, but yeah, I’m liking it a lot and it sounds like we’re all enjoying this one, which is excellent. So, cool.
Peter, do you have anything to say about I’m Standing on a Million Lives since the three-episode, or is it pretty much doing its thing?
PETER: I have been somewhat surprised in the way that it’s— Normally, with these kinds of series, it’s just the main dude and then all the girls who are there to bounce off the main guy and inevitably be attracted to him and be his harem. I kind of don’t feel like that’s the direction this series is going in.
In a recent episode, Hakozaki, the Knight Girl, she had her own moment. You find out she’s got a backstory about being kind of physically weak, and now she’s in this world where she has to be a fighter who has to be physically strong. I guess she wanted to get into pharmaceutical science or something. And she had this whole character arc where she figured out how to get around her issue without basically any input from the main guy. In fact, all he really did was deliver commentary on why the cool thing she did was cool.
PETER: You know, like the standard “Oh! They did this! That was really smart for this reason.” I mean, it could inevitably wrap around to that, but I think for now I’ve been surprised at how the series seems to have a plan for each of the girls narratively.
DEE: Well, that’s good, because one of the concerns was that it was just going to turn into your standard “trapped in a video game” harem-style series. Yeah, definitely if you end up keeping up with that one, let us know how it wraps and if it did a pretty good job of fleshing out the whole cast.
PETER: Oh, yeah. I’ll definitely report on where it’s ending at the season-end podcast, for sure.
DEE: Cool, cool. Chiaki, do you have much to say about Dragon Quest: Adventure of Dai? I’ve heard it’s nice. I haven’t heard much past that, though.
CHIAKI: Yeah, it’s really nice. It’s cute. The monsters are cute. All the good guys are really, really cool, and I like them. They’re very relatable and fun and nice people. All the bad guys are bad guys. Very pedestrian.
DEE: Very straightforward, yeah.
CHIAKI: Yeah. If you want to chill out this season, go right ahead and pick it up for a fun adventure story. It’s kind of like Magical Circle Guru Guru, but a little bit more traditional in the sense of adventure fantasy storytelling.
DEE: Is it a family-friendly one? I got that vibe from some of the early stuff I heard about it, but…
CHIAKI: It’s very family friendly. Just for reference, Dragon Quest: Adventure of Dai was probably 1989, 1986, just around when Dragon Ball was starting, so it’s kind of the same pedigree as far as storytelling goes.
DEE: Okay. That’s good to know, so if folks are looking for stuff to watch with their kids or younger family members, that’s an option, perhaps.
Okay, next on the list we’ll talk about real quick is D4DJ, which I guess is on a biweekly schedule. I should’ve done some research on this before we got into this. It might be an ONA instead of a TV show. I’m really not sure, but it’s on a weird schedule, so only two episodes have come out so far, so we didn’t even have it in our three-episode check-in.
I’m kinda liking it. It’s a cute-girl music show, but I think the focus on mixing songs and putting your own spin on existing music… I like the cast and I like the concept, and the fact that it only drops every two weeks makes it easy to commit to. So, I’m sticking with it for now, at least. I’m kind of curious to see how the three-episode goes.
There’s no fanservice in it. Some of the costumes are a little silly, but it’s a music show. [chuckles] That’s not exactly surprising. But yeah, it’s not something that I’m over-the-moon excited about, but I’m having a fine time with it. Again, there’s only two episodes, so there’s not a whole lot to talk about at this point.
CHIAKI: Same deal. I think a friend of mine who’s a DJ was impressed by the show, saying that watching that one section in the first episode of them interlacing music together was more informative than 90% of DJ tutorial YouTube videos out there.
DEE: [laughs] So there you go. You can learn some cool knowledge from this show, as well. The power of anime. Excellent.
Okay, let’s go ahead and move on, then. Chiaki, you’re the only one watching The Day I Became a God, which I initially had on my radar because it’s PA Works and Jun Maeda and it seemed really interesting.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Oh, shoot! I’m sorry, I dropped that one.
DEE: Oh, you did drop that one. Okay, okay. Well, we do have a three-episode check-in on that one, folks, so if anybody wants to take a look at that, go ahead and do so, but I guess we don’t really have much to add to it at this point. Same with By the Grace of the Gods. We’ve got a three-episode check-in, but we haven’t watched anything past that.
Okay, so next up is [chuckles] Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen people collectively drop a show quite as quickly as they did Wandering Witch. Peter, are you still keeping up with this one?
PETER: I am, yeah.
DEE: Okay, I am not 100% caught up. I went ahead and gave it one more after episode three, which is where a lot of people said “I’m done.” And episode four was in the similar vein of exploring an unhealthy, abusive, harmful situation that led to tragedy and violence without any particularly satisfying conclusion to it. I definitely liked it more than episode three because Elaina shows up basically at the tail end of everything and there was nothing she could do to prevent it, so her being fairly passive during that one makes more sense.
But I just don’t— I’m not even— I know some people who were criticizing Wandering Witch for the fact that it was presenting these situations at all, and I’m like, “If you want to explore injustice and say that ‘this is unjust and messed up,’ and you’re not romanticizing it, I’m fine with that. I just don’t necessarily want to watch it, because I can just turn on the news.” [chuckles]
So, that was my thing with Wandering Witch. I don’t have the energy to watch a show that’s not going to give me a more— I like fiction for the possibility of betterment, I guess is how I would describe it. I like those satisfying endings where things improve and injustice is addressed and things like that. I don’t necessarily want to watch bad things happen in my fiction, so I’m pretty much done with it.
How has it done since episode four? Has it swung back around to doing more hopeful stories, or is it still kind of grim?
PETER: I think only episode five has come out. I don’t think episode six has come out.
DEE: I thought six dropped this week, but you might be right, yeah.
PETER: Is it on Saturdays? It might have been literally today.
DEE: It’s a Friday show? Anyway, it’s not important.
DEE: Okay, you might be behind one.
PETER: Yeah. Well, to answer your question, yes. Episode five’s kind of lighthearted. Fran shows up again. I guess Elaina runs into the city where Fran is a teacher at… It’s Hogwarts. The kids [Unintelligible due to crosstalk].
DEE: [crosstalk; snorts a laugh] Okay, sure.
PETER: And Fran figures out she’s there and then has her students chase Elaina on broomsticks all day. I don’t really know why, but she spends three days there. Fran is fine that episode; doesn’t do anything weird or messed up.
DEE: Okay, cool.
PETER: Besides siccing her kids on her for a whole day. That was weird but in a funny way, not in a “Why the fuck would you do that?” kind of way. So, I think it definitely is capable of doing more lighthearted stuff. I imagine it’ll be a mix later on.
But I feel like when it tries to do deep stuff, it kinda doesn’t know what it’s doing. The writing’s just weird. When you were describing episode four— I couldn’t figure out why the woman had amnesia. Was it just a consequence of the spell for narrative convenience? Or—
DEE: Yeah, they said that basically there was a trade-off with the spell where in order to do it, she also had to give up her memories. But it’s a line.
I think some of the issues—and I haven’t read the light novel, so I can’t say 100%—it feels like some of the issues are just adaptation problems. Where in a light novel, you have more direct access to characters’ thoughts and you’ve got an easier way to just exposit about things, I think the anime is maybe struggling to put that to screen. I actually have the first light novel, so at some point I’m going to read it, and then I’ll have a better idea of if it’s a problem with the source material or the adaptation itself.
But I do agree that it’s definitely messy, and I think sometimes they try to cram a little too much into a single episode. I haven’t 100% dropped it. I just don’t know if I’m gonna go back, because there’s a lot of other stuff I’m enjoying better. And, again, with some of the episodes being so frickin’ bleak, I’m not sure I want to roll those dice every single week in The Year of Our Lord 2020.
PETER: For sure. I don’t know if I’m really enjoying it. I wouldn’t call it hate-watching either. I’m just maybe morbidly curious about where all this is going. I’d say that’s it.
DEE: Yeah, I definitely never hated it, and I was definitely curious to be like, “Okay, well, what’s the endgame here? Is Elaina going to have a character arc, or is it just going to be all totally disconnected short stories?” I don’t know if I’m going to put the effort into it, but if you end up sticking it out, I would love to hear how it comes together.
PETER: It’s on my rotation, and I have not felt an urge to drop it yet, so I’m pretty sure I’ll stay the course.
CHIAKI: Just call me if she ends up fighting an army of feral sheep.
DEE: [laughs; singing] Mmm, whatcha say?
DEE: Okay, we have a lot to go and we don’t have a lot of time to do it, so we’re gonna need to lightning-round a little bit here. Talentless Nana, we are all watching. I would describe the show as trashy suspense, but in a good way. [chuckles] I’m having fun with it. What about you guys?
PETER: Yeah, I’m more interested to see how it was adapted since I read it when it was coming out on Crunchyroll Manga way back in the day.
DEE: Okay, so you— Has it finished?
PETER: I’m not sure. I wasn’t keeping up with it, but I definitely read like the first third to second half, and I think it was up to chapter 86 or something, so probably to the end of the anime.
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh, wow.
PETER: I don’t know. It’s very Monster of the Week, except the monster is a, like, Damien, superpowered child that she has to kill.
DEE: And the cat-and-mouse elements of it with her and Kyouya and her trying to get away with murder… But really, she hasn’t—other than the first couple episodes, the story’s kind of gone in a different direction, rather than her just picking a kid to kill every week, which I was worried it was going to be for a while. I much prefer her and Kyouya tap-dancing around each other and now… the cute kid whose name I can’t remember.
PETER: Sheep girl?
DEE: With the healing powers, yeah.
PETER: “Inu” something, right? Because they call her a good dog.
DEE: Yeah. I am curious to see how it all shakes out. It’s one of those where if I think too hard about it, it kind of falls apart from a logic perspective. But that’s fine. You’re not supposed to with this one. Like I said, it’s kind of trashy suspense and I’m enjoying it.
PETER: Very Death Note-ian.
DEE: Yeah, but I don’t hate the characters. I actually kind of like the cast. Even Nana, I’m interested to see where she goes. I do feel like the story—especially with Kyouya and some of the other students clearly being genuinely decent people—I do feel like eventually it’s going to need to hit up against that wall of: “You keep saying they’re all so dangerous, but they don’t seem to be. Why do we need to take them out as teenagers?” With Nana being used by this organization…
If it never goes that route, if it never starts examining that and then fighting back against the power structures, I think it would fall apart quickly. But I get the sense it’s heading that direction, slowly but surely.
PETER: Yeah, same.
CHIAKI: So, from what I’m hearing from people reading the manga, that is how it goes, and that is the main reason why I am keeping up with this show. I know things are supposed to get better. I just don’t know when. And so, the cliffhangers are real for me because I don’t know if people are going to wind up dead or if she’s finally going to turn around. I think that’s the biggest suspense for me here, right now.
PETER: I do appreciate the idea of when that comes to pass, she’s going to have to confront the fact that she killed a bunch of people who probably weren’t as bad as she thought they were. So, there’ll be a moral reckoning for her.
DEE: Yeah. Although the creep who blackmailed her into being his girlfriend did suck.
PETER: Oh, yeah. That guy’s fine. [chuckles]
DEE: I mean, I’m not going to say he deserved to die, because that’s pretty harsh, but I did not feel bad when she killed him. Yeah, for sure. Again, it’s another one… content warnings for violence and… not really fanservice, but a little bit of weirdness, like the healing girl has to lick your wounds clean, so it gets a little strange sometimes because of that.
PETER: Well, that’s how they introduced it, but then you see her not licking people, so… maybe the author—
DEE: [crosstalk] I think she always does. I think it’s her saliva. Anyway, sorry. We can’t get into that discussion because, again, we have so much to talk about that we haven’t yet. So, any other concerns that folks want to bring up with Talentless Nana, or should we go ahead and move on?
CHIAKI: I’m good.
DEE: Okay. I was the only one who gave the new Love Live! a try. I really wanted to like it. I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t get into it, and I don’t want to get into it on this podcast, so just go read my three-episode check-in about why it ultimately let me cold.
Iwakakeru, the sports climbing girls show. I dropped it at three because it was doing— It was another one I really wanted to like, but there was a predatory lesbian in episode two and there was a bunch of fat shaming in episode three. And it’s not a significant chunk of each episode, but it was enough that the sports aspects weren’t good enough to keep me there despite the annoyances. So, I went ahead and said farewell to that one. But the two of you are still keeping up with it, yeah?
PETER: Yeah. I feel like the latest episode, not the one from today… You know what I mean.
PETER: The last episode I watched— I was pretty cool on it, but it was so ridiculous that I think it kind of won me over again. They’re at a competition, so you get to see a lot of the girls, the ones that they’ve been talking up, get to show off. They have got this really assholish male announcer guy who talks about how there’s one solution to all these puzzles, and you get to see him get dunked on by all the girls who are better at climbing than he is.
PETER: It’s a funny dynamic. He’s got ridiculous hair, too. And just the way it does it… It is kind of Keijo-esque, where there’s one girl who they call the Jaguar, and she does a vault or something—you leap to the next handhold—and you hear a jaguar yell when she does it.
PETER: And then they introduced the muscle girl, too, and I don’t think they did anything bad when they did that.
DEE: Yeah. It’s not been bad on fanservice, necessarily. It’s just some of the camera angles are suspect, like “Let’s just put her ass in the front of the frame, just ‘cuz. There’s clearly no other way we could have framed that.”
CHIAKI: Yeah, overall, it really does focus on the women’s bodies a lot in this show. And sometimes it makes sense because you want to show off—
DEE: They’re climbing.
CHIAKI: Yeah, you want to show off that they’re very toned and defined for their sports. But also, at the same time, I feel sometimes the character design and framing is suspect.
DEE: Yeah. Again, it was one of those things that would not have been a dealbreaker for me except that it was multiple things piled on top of each other for me with that one, and I just got annoyed with it. I might come back to that one, because I do like sports anime. But it’ll really depend on how some of the other shows I’m keeping up with continue to shake out as the season goes, because the rest of the list that we’ve got here, I’m still enjoying a fair bit.
The next one up is Magatsu Wahrheit. I am caught up on that one. It started a little late. I feel like it’s a little bit of a sleeper this season because it dropped so late that I think not a lot of people checked it out. But I know you, me, Caitlin, and Vrai—sorry, “you” being Peter—are all watching this one, and I think we’re all pretty into it. We’re interested in where the story is going to go and everything, yeah?
PETER: Yeah, yeah. I think the first episode might have made it look like a much grimmer affair than it actually turned out to be, too, so that might have turned some people off. They’re just like, “Oh, this is gonna be like Aldnoah.Zero. I’m just gonna be sad the whole fucking time I watch this.”
DEE: Yeah, it’s done a good job of— It’s definitely about a… I don’t know if “authoritarian” is quite the right word, but definitely an oppressive society that is ignoring the people who need help the most in the outskirts of the cities, and this rebellion organization that’s trying to help folks out. But they’re also weapon smugglers, so I think there’s a question of exactly what they’re doing with those weapons that they’re smuggling out.
PETER: I thought it was for revolution.
PETER: I thought it was for revolution. That, or just to kill monsters.
DEE: Yeah, it’s kind of a combination, but we don’t know where they’re all going and who they’re working with, because they’re working with some nobles, we’re starting to find out. So, I am curious to see how it all spirals.
So far, it’s been a pretty smart political thriller, which I’ve enjoyed about it. Political fantasy, which you don’t see a lot of. I think usually with fantasy stories, it’s all adventurers going out and fighting monsters. You don’t necessarily look at the government structures in a nuanced way. So, I think the way it’s telling the story is really interesting. The villain is kind of a one-note soldier monster, but they at least gave him a backstory, so it’s got that going for it, I guess.
It’s kind of tough to talk about because there’s only four episodes, but I’m really interested in what it’s doing with its cast and story and the different narrative threads it’s weaving together. This was another big surprise that I’m really curious to see where it ends up going from here. And I would say it’s definitely toeing that line where bad things happen and some characters die, but it’s not suffering porn. It’s handled in a way that I think is really restrained. There’s losses, but there’s wins, so I think the way it’s pacing itself is really interesting.
PETER: Yeah. It’s not like every person [where] if they died it would be super tragic ends up dying and it’s super tragic. It introduces some characters where it’s just like, “This person’s in peril. If they die, won’t it be so sad?” But then they end up saving the person, and you’re like, “Okay, thank God.”
DEE: Yeah, it’s balanced, which I appreciate about it. Okay, so, yeah, that’s Magatsu. Really hoping we can come into that one at the end of the season and be like, “Yeah, it was great! Everybody should check it out.” We’ll see how it wraps.
Next up is Akudama Drive. Peter, you’re keeping up with this one, as well, yeah?
DEE: I would also describe this one as fun trash, although there are hints at something a little bit deeper every so often. But it’s very much a cyberpunk dystopia punchy fight. How are you enjoying this one?
PETER: I’m liking it. I mean, it’s pretty brainless to me. It’s just really stylistic hijinks with these superpowered criminals doing… I don’t want to call it a heist. It’s kind of a heist. Lots of heist stuff going on right now.
DEE: There was a train heist! It was great.
PETER: There could be something to this whole authoritarian… whatever’s going on with Kanto.
DEE: Yeah. There’s something weird going on with Kanto, and then the Kansai government is… I mean, the fact that none of the characters have people names—they’re just defined by their roles or their crimes—kind of tells you that there’s something going on here. And it’s another one where, kind of like Magatsu, there’s not a whole lot I can dig into right now because it feels like we’re mostly just being given hints and mysteries.
But I’ll be curious to see if, at the end, it goes somewhere clever with everything that it’s doing or if it’s just a backdrop for punchy fights, which, again, are excellently staged punchy fights. No complaints on that front. I’m enjoying it. I just don’t know what it’s doing yet.
PETER: The animation is serviceable, but it’s really the designs and stylistic stuff that I think is…
DEE: It’s the designs and the storyboards, I think, that really make the action sequences pop. A good storyboarder can make up for some shortcuts in animation in really interesting ways. Like, the fight in the hotel was just so cool.
So, yeah, I’ve been liking this one, and it feels like it’s definitely divided up into acts and we’re heading into the next act. And the characters, I’m becoming endeared to, which is good because I was worried that them all being awful, murdering criminals, that wouldn’t happen; but I am starting to find them kind of endearing in their own terrible ways.
PETER: It really reminds me of… Did you ever watch Smokin’ Aces?
DEE: No, I haven’t seen that. [brief pause] Maybe I have. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Live-action movie… I’ve seen it. It’s just been a long, long time. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
PETER: At the beginning you’re just like, “Oh, this is just going to be like everybody gets into a hotel and starts killing each other.” And that’s kind of what happened, but also, at the end you find out everybody’s cute and you care about them.
PETER: Well, most of them, you care about them. So, yeah, that’s kinda what’s up here.
DEE: Yeah, I feel Akudama’s veering us in that direction a little bit. It’s another one where checking in at the end will give us a better idea of what it’s doing.
Okay, I’m the only person in the group watching Adachi and Shimamura, so I’ll try to be quick here. Not a whole lot to add from the three-episode check-in at this point, honestly, so I’d probably just direct you there.
The series still has some issues with this leering camera. Adachi is extremely horny for Shimamura in a way that is very realistic to a teenager who’s afraid to admit that they’re very horny for their friend. And I appreciate that about it. And so, sometimes the camera is very specifically from her perspective, and that’s fine. That doesn’t bother me. But then, other times it’ll just be like, “Have a butt. Have some thighs,” and it’s distracting in a way that’s really irritating.
Otherwise, I’m mostly enjoying it. There’s a supernatural element with this space girl that I’m very here for, and I’m really glad that element is in it because I think without that, this would be kind of a sleepy, extremely slow-burn school romance and I would struggle to keep up with it because of how much of a slow burn it is. But the supernatural elements that are sprinkled throughout it are sort of interesting, and I’m very curious to see how that’s going to weave in with the two girls’ main story.
It also touches on depression in a way that I think is really good. I think both the girls are kind of depressed, but Shimamura in particular will have some little monologues and visuals that really show you how she’s kind of disconnected and struggling to feel things around her in a way that is really well done. So, yeah, it is a slow burn and the camera can be kind of obnoxious, but overall, I think it’s a pretty good show, and it’s another one where I’m curious to see where it wraps up at.
And that’s Adachi and Shimamura. I would say if school love stories aren’t really your thing, then I think it’s going to bore you to tears. [chuckles] But for me anyway, the elements with the space girl and then some of the deep dives into the girls’ psychologies and anxieties has kept me sticking with it.
PETER: Damn, I gotta watch this now. Shit.
DEE: Yeah, I would say give it a couple episodes to get going, for sure, because the first one I wasn’t as sure on, but two and three I liked a lot better.
Okay: Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, the Inuyasha sequel. This episode’s going to go over, but let’s do our best to keep it as close to the hour as we can. Peter, you’ll just have to cut some of our asides and tangents.
PETER: Like the cat sneezing, are we going to have to cut it?
DEE: Aw! Poor Rio’s going to get left on the cutting-room floor. Poor boy.
Yeah, so, Yashahime. I will say one quick thing, and then I’ll let you guys talk. I could not really get into Inuyasha when it was on TV. Didn’t hate it, but it was really just a show I sometimes watched while I was waiting for Fullmetal Alchemist to start.
DEE: Yeah, again, wasn’t something I ever despised. I just never really liked it. There was a lot of other stuff I liked better. I am enjoying Yashahime a lot. So, how are you guys feeling about it?
PETER: I had the same experience with Inuyasha, first of all. I would describe Yashahime as kind of a hot mess. A lot of the time I don’t really know— I guess now I know what the story’s about. It’s about making it so Setsuna can finally get a good night’s rest, which, you know, I can empathize with.
DEE: We’ve got two sleepy princesses this season.
PETER: It’s so scattershot, though, that a lot of the time I’m just going, “What the hell are they doing?” But Moroha is so entertaining that I really feel like half the reason I’m watching it is because of just the character Moroha. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a character carry a show this hard.
DEE: Moroha is fantastic. Every second she’s on the screen, she steals it.
CHIAKI: She’s like every good quality of Inuyasha and Kagome rolled into one.
PETER: Yeah, that’s a good way of saying it. It’s like a really successful combination of those two characters.
DEE: Yeah, she’s delightful. I do agree: I feel like they overloaded themselves with goals and premises early on, because they’re trying to track down the butterfly to get back Setsuna’s memories and dreams, but then there’s also Roothead who they still have to deal with? Or not Roothead, it’s… Kirinmaru, right?
CHIAKI: [unintelligible due to crosstalk]
DEE: No, Kirinmaru, the demon who’s opposed to Sesshomaru.
PETER: [crosstalk] The big dog.
DEE: Again, I didn’t watch a lot of Inuyasha, so I don’t know all the lore on that end. They’re supposed to defeat him, but they would also have to defeat Sesshomaru because the two are… it’s a balancing act, basically. But they don’t want to have to kill their own dad, and so they’ve decided not to do this, but it seems like they might eventually have to because Kirinmaru might try to destroy the world or something. And then there’s something with the girl trapped in the tree, who I think is Rin? Is that her name?
CHIAKI: Probably Rin.
DEE: It’s probably Rin. We’re not 100%, but it does kind of look like her. Something going on with her. I felt like [in] episode three it was like, “I felt like you guys had a premise, and now you’ve made it four premises,” which makes me wonder how long this show’s going to run. And since then, it’s really been one-off demon-hunting adventures with the three girls, and I’m having a good time with those one-off adventure stories.
PETER: Oh, that’s cool.
DEE: Yeah, I like the cast. I like the main trio. There’s nothing about it that gets on my nerves. It’s fun. It’s a fun monster-hunting show. It’s a shounen with three female leads, and I’m extremely here for that!
CHIAKI: I really appreciate the emphasis on the girls leading, because they’re not just “typical” girls. You’ve got Towa, who’s quite possibly nonbinary at this point, given her presentation and how she treats her relation to being a girl in general.
DEE: Yeah. And Towa even talks in the second episode about how you’re expected to be feminine and how that’s not really her thing, but she’s like, “Well, maybe I should be, because that’s the easiest way to get around in this world.”
PETER: It’s very textual.
DEE: Yeah, it actually addresses it, which I thought was really interesting. Yeah, I would definitely say that Towa is not comfortable with the gender roles of modern-era Japan, for sure. I like that about it. You’re right, they’re not your cute-girl archetypes. They’ve got personality and flaws and moxie. Yeah, I really like it. So, yay, Yashahime. Another pleasant surprise this season for me, for sure. Anything else you guys want to say about that one, or should we move on?
PETER: Moroha Best Girl.
DEE: Moroha Best Girl.
DEE: Agreed, agreed, yeah. [chuckles] Okay, next is Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, which, Chiaki, you and I are both watching. I don’t have a ton more to say about this one since the three-episode check-in. I snuck it into “Feminist Potential” kinda just to see if anybody would tell me to not, and nobody did.
DEE: So, it stayed there. My logic was: because it is playing with your typical damsel-in-distress princess narratives. It doesn’t really do anything with that. It’s pretty much just a goofy comedy about a little shitlord girl who— I shouldn’t say “little girl.” I actually have no idea how old she is. She’s probably like 16, because it’s anime. But this princess who just wants to get a good night’s sleep all the time. And it’s kind of the same joke over and over again, but because she’s always playing off other characters, I’m still enjoying the joke. I think it’s well executed. How are you doing with it, Chiaki?
CHIAKI: Yeah, I like how everything’s tied together. One-off jokes from episode two just kind of come back, like the shield that blows wind just comes back as an item that she has in her personal possession, that she’ll keep using. I like the continuity of the series a lot.
DEE: Yeah. It feels like a series of little sketches, but it’s also building the world as it goes, so you’re learning more about the Demon Castle and the different people who live there. I would say that Syalis is a pretty static character at this point and it’s more about the people around her, but I do like the way it’s building on itself.
I cannot believe this manga has been running for 16 volumes! I keep waiting for the moment where I get bored with it or the joke stops being funny, but, again, so far it’s been executed well enough that I’m continuing to enjoy watching this show riff on fairy tale and fantasy tropes and characters and expectations. Yeah, it’s fun.
I think we mentioned in our three-episode check-in the one point of concern was episode three had a joke where she was trying to get people to hit her pressure points, basically give her a massage, and she kept asking them to touch her body, and most of them freaked out about it because they were like, “What? No!” But the Demon King had this moment where it was like, “Oh, well, is this happening? I guess this is happening. Okay.” And it was played for a joke and nothing happened, and Syalis was fine.
But the question of “How old is anybody in this show?” lends that moment a little bit of discomfort, I think. Again, we don’t know because it’s a fantasy fairy tale, but that would be the one point of concern with this. Otherwise, it’s a lot of goofy jokes about a girl trying to get a good night’s sleep. Probably not Feminist Potential, but I would still recommend it as a fun 25 minutes a week.
CHIAKI: I’m definitely call it Feminist Mood.
DEE: Yeah, I think that’s fair. [chuckles] Especially in 2020, right?
DEE: “I’m tired! I just want a good night’s sleep.” I also think— Sorry, we’re going long. But one thing I do really like about it is Syalis is an absolute terror, but because— I think the show does a really good job of (1) keeping the stakes very low, because they’ve got a cleric who can just resurrect anybody from the dead, up to and including Syalis herself; and (2) I think that the way it balances the power dynamics keeps the jokes funny, because she’s terrorizing people but she’s also a prisoner in this castle.
So it feels a little bit more like she’s getting sideways vengeance on them for kidnapping her, but you never feel like she’s being terrorized, either. I think the balance there is really good and keeps the show light and amusing in a way that I really appreciate.
Okay, next on the list, Gymnastics Samurai. We are all watching this one. I’mma let you guys talk because I’m getting tired. What do you think of Gymnastics Samurai?
PETER: [inhales] Ah… It is… I don’t know what it wants to be yet. I—
DEE: It’s a lot of hats on top of each other, isn’t it?
PETER: Yeah, I really feel like they’re riffing on Yuri on Ice. I think I tweeted about how it’s like Yuri on Ice except Yuri is Weird Ninja Guy and nobody knows why he’s there. And he’s obviously very good at the sport that they’re doing, but nobody’s said, “Hey, are you interested in doing this sport?” even though at some point, I think it’s pretty clear he’s going to participate in the sport or maybe have to wear a wig for the main character and compete for him because he’s been narratively put out of the way or something. I don’t know.
DEE: That’s an interesting prediction. I think he’s an alien, still. That’s still my read on Leo.
PETER: I believe it. I just don’t know what his narrative purpose is or why he’s not— He’s going to do gymnastics at some point. It’s so clear. They’ve done so much groundwork for that. I think that the little subplot with the daughter and him helping her with the kids at school bullying her was good.
DEE: Yeah, I really like the fifth episode. I think the show does the family dynamics really well.
PETER: Yeah. I’m not sure if I care about or know where the gymnastics portion is really headed, though.
DEE: [chuckles] Agreed.
PETER: It’s more about just goofy people living in the household.
DEE: Chiaki, how are you feeling about this one?
CHIAKI: I’m still watching it, but I don’t know how to feel about it either. I guess you can talk about how it speaks to an increasing awareness of immigration in Japan—if you want to be all smart about it. But really, I’m just here going like, “Who are these people? They are all unreal.” [chuckles]
DEE: Yeah, it’s got this layer of… not surrealism exactly. Magical realism’s the closest term I can think of to talk about it, because there is this layer of unreality, from the weird bird that lives in their house to Leo’s whole thing where he’s literally running from what appear to be the Men in Black.
Yeah, it’s a lot of hats. There’s the sports story and then the family story and then this international kid-on-the run mystery that’s going on. It’s kind of disjointed. It’s like every episode works on its own pretty well, but when you try to link it to the others, it’s weird. It’s definitely a weird show, but I’m here for it. Again, I liked the fifth episode a lot. Six dropped today, so I’m curious to see if we go back to the sports this week or where we go this week.
PETER: What’s going on? [chuckles]
DEE: Yeah. What’s happening this time? I don’t know if it’ll all come together, but I don’t dislike watching it happen, so there’s that.
PETER: Remember when we all watched the premiere trailer and thought, “Oh, I can’t wait for this dramatic sports series…”
DEE: The Dad Sports Show, we thought. Now we’re just confused, but I don’t think necessarily in a bad way.
Did anyone want to speak to Britney’s character at all, or do we just want to direct people to the three-episode check-in for that conversation? Because I know Vrai talked about it a fair bit.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I don’t have anything really to say there.
DEE: Okay. Then just for folks at home who don’t know what we’re talking about, Britney is—we’ve been using “they” pronouns because we’re not sure—probably some layer of genderqueer, whose introduction is a little bit suspect, but then from the moment they are introduced, they’re handled pretty straightforwardly as an acupuncturist who helps out the main character. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but the fact that there is a trans… trans-esque character? It’s so hard to talk about when it’s vague like this.
CHIAKI: I mean, if you want to say trans… I feel, in terms of the Japanese culture of okama and that kind of stuff, I don’t really read them as trans, personally. I feel like it’s more like a stereotypical take on a gay man, a very effeminate gay man in Japan. That much I’ll say.
DEE: Sure. I think it was more the fact that they went by the name Britney that led me to think they were more on the genderqueer spectrum. But, again, you know more about queer culture in Japan than I do, so I will absolutely defer to you on that one. So, yeah, that’s Gymnastics Samurai.
All right, we definitely don’t have time to talk sequels today. Maybe we will in our season finale. But I think that wraps us up. Any final thoughts from anybody, or should I play us out?
CHIAKI: With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day Is Fun is the best short anime of the season. Watch it!
DEE: Oh! Yeah, I’m really enjoying that one! We never talk about shorts. It’s like two minutes long, folks, and it’s delightful. It’s very funny. The dog is a little cinnamon roll, and the cat is a piece of crap and I love him. [chuckles]
DEE: I love that monster cat! So, yeah, I would say check that one out, too. That one’s on Crunchyroll. We haven’t gotten a chance to talk about that anywhere else, but thank you for bringing that up, Chiaki. I’m enjoying that one, as well.
CHIAKI: Gotta watch out for the cat anime.
DEE: Heck yeah! And on that happy note, we will head straight into the outro here.
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