Dee, Chiaki, and Peter look back on the Fall 2020 season!
Date Recorded: January 1st, 2020
Hosts: Dee, Chiaki, Peter
0:01:26 Our Last Crusade
0:04:56 Higurashi Gou
0:08:46 Warlords of Sigrdrifa
0:11:33 TONIKAWA: Over the Moon for You
0:14:11 Moriarty the Patriot
0:19:22 Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
0:19:51 JUJUTSU KAISEN
0:25:18 I’m Standing on a Million Lives
0:28:46 Gal & Dino
0:31:07 Dragon Quest: Adventure of Dai
0:39:01 Wandering Witch
0:41:56 Talentless Nana
0:48:08 Iwakakeru: Sports Climbing Girls
0:48:59 Magatsu Wahrheit
0:51:34 Akudama Drive
0:55:30 Adachi and Shimamura
0:57:30 Yashahime: Princess Half Demon
0:59:40 Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle
1:02:13 The Gymnastics Samurai
Sequels & Carryover
1:08:43 HAIKYU!! TO THE TOP
1:09:30 Golden Kamuy Season 3
1:10:03 Healin’ Good Pretty Cure
1:10:20 With a Cat and a Dog Every Day is Fun
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, one of the managing editors 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.
PETER: And I’m Peter Fobian. I’m a producer at Crunchyroll and editor at Anime Feminist. On Twitter I’m @PeterFobian.
DEE: And today we are covering the Fall 2020 season retrospective. We’ll be getting into all the shows we touched on at the midseason point, let you know how they did here down the stretch.
We are recording this on—where I am, anyway—a snowy New Year’s Day. My cohosts were responsible and partied lightly last night. I was not, so I’m hurting a little bit today, folks at home. But it won’t affect anything. This will be a perfect and wonderful podcast.
Okay, so, we do have a lot of shows to cover, so we will get right into it. Peter, is there anything you wanted to say about Our Last Crusade, which was the bottom of our Red Flags list, that you’re the only person— Oh. No, Chiaki, you watched that one, too. Sorry. Do you guys have anything to say about that one that wasn’t covered at the midseason, or we can just move on from it?
PETER: I don’t know about Chiaki, but I kinda dropped it at the midseason point. It was… Yeah. We’re the only ones talking about it, but I don’t know. I just ran out of juice for it.
CHIAKI: I watched all of it.
PETER: Oh, wow. Cool.
CHIAKI: It’s more of the same, more or less. I feel like the longer the show runs, the more it feels like the war that is so central to this story is totally meaningless. No one is ever actually trying to kill each other. I’m like, “Are you guys actually enemies, or is this some really, really weird lovers’ quarrel going on here?” It’s not even a lovers’ quarrel because Iska and Alice are totally just teaming up 80% of the time rather than actually fighting each other.
DEE: Okay. And it just ended, right? Or does it have a second cour?
CHIAKI: It’s definitely promising a second season. There’s no resolution, but the cour is over.
DEE: Okay, so, more of the same. I know it was never really something you would recommend. You were just kind of watching it.
CHIAKI: If you got into it, you got into it. That’s it.
DEE: Yeah. Okay. Well, then we can move right along into the Yellow Flags category and up to Hypnosis Mic, which I think ended up being the silly trash show that the few of us who were watching it enjoyed.
I lowkey dropped this at episode eight because the middle act is kind of a slog. But then both Chiaki and Caitlin told me that it got really fun pretty much right after that, so I was like, “Eh, okay. I’ve got a free evening. Let me see how this goes.” I immediately got sucked into the actual rap battles that take up the final arc.
The show continues to be ridiculous and pretty sexist, but it is so silly that it just kinda slides right off me. I can’t really get upset about it. So, I had fun. It was not a recommendation that I picked this year for our recommendations article, but I had a good time with it. I giggled a lot. I enjoyed the music. So, it was what it was. How about you, Chiaki?
CHIAKI: No, yeah, I just enjoyed watching the music videos. I didn’t watch it watch it, but it was definitely a show that I had on a second screen while I was doing other work. And I think this show finished out in a good way, even though it just promises a season two at this point.
DEE: It’s another one that teases a season two or “Go play the game,” I guess. But I still enjoyed it. Parts of the cast just did nothing for me, but then other parts of the cast I really enjoyed. The Matenro team with Doppo and Hifumi were delightful. I think everyone is in agreement that they are boyfriends, whether the show wants to admit it or not.
So, yeah, it was fun. I enjoyed it. It’s one where… Try the first couple episodes. If you enjoy it, keep watching; if not, it’s gonna just keep being that. It’s ridiculous, so… Yeah, it’s fun.
Okay, Chiaki, next up is the— Higurashi; the “new” or “reboot” or whatever they’re calling it. You watched that all the way through. Oh, Peter, you did, too. Okay, yeah. I’m the only one who never got into it.
PETER: [crosstalk] I dropped it.
PETER: I mean I didn’t catch up on it. I wasn’t gonna watch it over the course of the season, but I had some spare time, so I think I got up to episode six and then never got any further, not through intentional choice. It’s just what happened, I promise.
DEE: That happens, yeah. Okay, Chiaki, regale us.
CHIAKI: Yeah. So, if you go back to the midseason check-in, I was saying that it was a very difficult show for me to get through, especially because of some of the psychological horror elements and the gruesomeness of the first arc. But I feel like the later arcs now have settled to be a little less extreme, so it was a lot more watchable for me.
At the same time, the latest arc’s end just left me going like “What the heck just happened?” And I know that Higurashi’s supposed to have that effect on people, but I’m coming as somebody who has read some of the wiki articles and followed up on “Okay, what actually happens?” and spoiled myself, and I’m still—
DEE: So, you have some background context, yeah.
CHIAKI: Yeah. And I’m still going like, “What the heck just happened?” [chuckles]
DEE: Mm. That’s not a great sign. Is it a two-cour? Is it continuing into the winter?
CHIAKI: According to Funimation, it’s only 13 episodes. And it’s hit the 13 episodes, so I’m not sure. Oh, but it did promise for “Next time on Higurashi, we’re starting the next arc,” so I’m guessing they’re gonna have a second cour. I don’t—
DEE: Oh, yeah, so there must be winter… Maybe it’s split or maybe it’ll just kick right back up here in a minute. Okay, so maybe there’s a chance that the things that are confusing will come back around and you’ll understand what’s going on eventually.
I know Higurashi’s a big, twisty mindfreak a little bit because I’ve seen the original, which… It’s been a long time. I would tentatively recommend it, but it’s been so long that it’s a very hesitant recommendation, just because I don’t have it fresh in my memory. But, yeah, I’ve heard some mixed things about the new one, but if you keep up with it, you can come back and let us know how it continues and if those mysteries and confusions start to unveil themselves going forward.
Okay, anything else on that one? Anything folks should be aware of other than, obviously, the violence, and I know there’s some moe-fied camera-angley infantilization-type stuff here and there… although I know the show is also sort of engaging with that, or at least the original did.
CHIAKI: Well, I didn’t feel it was as pronounced. I feel like the show overall is just trying to go for shock value.
DEE: Oh, that’s unfortunate, because the original definitely has some shock value moments but most of the time it feels like it’s serving a purpose. Again, I’m talking on a very fuzzy memory of it, but…
PETER: The maid café is A Choice.
CHIAKI: Kinda similar. It’s not so much they’re trying to be shocking to be shocking, but I also feel like some of the decisions or the directions they’re making in this new anime is specifically because people are expecting those same beats from the first, original anime, and they’re like, “Nah-ha-ha! We’re changing it up just so that we’re gonna keep you guessing.” And I’m kinda like, “Okay, this is really keeping my guessing.” [chuckles] I have no idea what’s going on.
DEE: Yeah, well, I guess you’re continuing to come back for more, so they’re doing something right, I suppose. Yeah, so just, I guess, keep up with it—I mean, if you want to—and let us know, if you do, how it turns out.
Okay, so next up is Warlords of Sigrdrifa, which I continue to be pretty sure I’m not pronouncing right, but that’s all good.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] That was correct.
DEE: Oh, cool, okay. I ended up dropping this one. I fell off at about the midway point. I got busy, we were doing a watchalong in addition to all the other shows I was watching, and I just didn’t have time for it.
They pretty heavily death-flagged a character and then followed through on it. It was not surprising in the least. And I think you can heavily foreshadow a death and have it still be impactful when it happens because you’re basically building a sense of dread and then “Oh, please don’t actually do the thing.” I really felt nothing when this happened and I definitely was supposed to, and that’s the moment when I went, “Okay, whatever enjoyment I was getting out of this show when it was lighter, now that it’s gotten more serious, I’m clearly not invested enough in it for it to hit.”
So it ended up just falling by the wayside when I started getting busy with other stuff. Chiaki, you finished it, though.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I mean, I just finished it for the sake of finishing it. I definitely felt the same sense of “Yeah, I guess that happened. All right, I only have a few more episodes. Let’s just go for it.” Kept one eye on it while I was doing other things and…
DEE: A ringing endorsement.
PETER: [chuckles] I was gonna say, yeah.
DEE: Other than some of the fanservicey stuff and, again, obviously it’s a show that has some violence, though I don’t remember anything particularly graphic…
CHIAKI: Fanservice goes away in the final arc.
DEE: Okay. Well, that’s good at least. You’d hope once the show gets more serious that it’s not gonna throw in a bunch of random butt shots or something, because that’s just bad storytelling.
CHIAKI: Overall, it just goes ham, though, with how serious everything is.
DEE: Oh, like, to the point where you really can’t take it seriously? It just comes across as cheesy?
CHIAKI: Or melodramatic, I guess.
DEE: Oh, okay. Sure, yeah.
CHIAKI: One thing that I kept kinda giggling about was how the world leaders kept coming in at the final arc going like, “We’re gonna have to win against these Norse gods.” And I’m like, “You guys are doing absolutely nothing. You have been sitting in that bunker for this entire cour.”
CHIAKI: Sitting inside the bunker going like, “We gotta defend huma—” “You guys are not doing anything.” And then at the very end, they’re like, “Yeah! We saved humanity!” Like, “You guys did shit.” [chuckles]
DEE: I mean, that sounds about right, though, right?
CHIAKI: That’s true.
DEE: They were managing. They were coordinating from the sidelines.
PETER: Zordon status.
DEE: [chuckles] Okay. So, Sigrdrifa doesn’t sound like one that you would recommend at this point. Yeah, it was fine. It doesn’t really do anything for either of us by the end.
Okay. Tonikawa is next on the list. Peter, you did end up finishing that. I know Mercedes really enjoyed this one. How did you find it all the way through?
PETER: I thought it was kind of a decent sitcom. I gotta admit I was kinda flagging near the end and the conclusion just sort of happened, and then the series was over, so I don’t know if I’d give it a strong recommendation, but I think it was fine.
I know there were a lot of concerns about it being Abe-nime or something like that where it’s really trying to push people to get married, but I didn’t really get that vibe off of it. I didn’t think Tsukasa was pushed into gendered roles as far as their marriage dynamic worked. She cooked for Nasa, but he cleaned up after himself and, at least from my perception, did a number of things that I think would normally fall into the stereotypic woman’s role. So, I think it was more equal in that regard. I don’t even think they talk about having kids.
It’s more about: they’re two people getting to know each other and they have a fighting game tournament with people from a bathhouse or something like that. Weird situations like that.
DEE: I mean, they’d have to have sex before they could have kids, and last I saw, they were still nervous about holding hands. [chuckles] So… Did that get a little bit better? Because the level of nervousness between these two people who clearly liked each other and were married always felt over-the-top and silly to me.
PETER: Yeah, I’d say the character progression that happened in the series was them holding hands without making a big deal out of it anymore and kissing without either making a big deal out of it. Or asking permission first.
DEE: That’s nice. I appreciate the focus on consent. It’s still wild to me that a show where the characters get married in the first episode and clearly are into each other from day one is taking that long; is still somehow a slow-burn romance. [laughs]
But it sounds like it was pleasant. It sounds like it was one of those where you knew pretty early on if it was for you or wasn’t, and for the people it was for, they really had a nice time with it. So, that’s good. I don’t wish poorly of Tonikawa. It just wasn’t my thing. Anything else you want to throw in there about it, or…?
PETER: That just about does it. I don’t know what the series’ long-term plans are, just because it’s kind of a “nothing happening” type series, but it was fine.
DEE: Yeah, like you said, kind of a sitcom, romcom-style thing. Okay, well, then we can move on to our next show on the list. Chiaki, did you finish Moriarty the Patriot? I know you were watching it.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Yes, I did.
DEE: Okay. How’d that turn out? I know the early half was really hit or miss for you.
CHIAKI: Yeah. Well, just to quickly go back to Tonikawa very briefly, Mr. Boop just ended, so just check that out instead. [chuckles]
DEE: No, you are obligated to get a Mr. Boop reference in here.
DEE: Which, ever since you made that reference, I’ve seen other people referencing Mr. Boop, but I haven’t made any effort to find out what it is because I enjoy the mystery.
DEE: So, I do know that it’s a thing other people know about, though, so… kudos.
CHIAKI: So, Moriarty the Patriot. The second half— I think there’s a few more episodes left, but because it’s the end of the year, it’s pushed off to the new year now.
PETER: Taking a week break or something.
DEE: Oh, okay.
CHIAKI: Because it’s still at 11 episodes and I guess that there’s one more short arc left. Right after the midpoint, they reveal the Moriarty boys’ secret plot or the grand scheme that they’re gonna do to end the aristocracy, and it’s basically “keep exposing really bad nobles who are cartoonishly evil to the masses” and then driving up hysteria so that it causes people to riot, and that way it causes a revolution in Britain. Which I feel like, “Okay, you’re just gonna keep committing crimes until there’s mass hysteria. That’s… That’s a choice.”
DEE: Dogs and cats, living together! [brief pause] Sorry, you said “mass hysteria,” so…
CHIAKI: And if the show literally just went with Moriarty encouraging crimes just to do that, I felt like that would have been a very poor use… it would have been a little bit more boring. Luckily, they introduced Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, which is nice in that I like the fact that they’re using the dashing Dr. Watson rather than the comic relief Dr. Watson.
CHIAKI: And Holmes is depicted as a complete train wreck.
DEE: [chuckles] So, he’s depicted as Holmes.
CHIAKI: Yeah, but he’s not the “Mm, yes, I’m very brilliant.” Well, he is also very brilliant, but he’s completely a mess. Just falls asleep with cow’s blood all over him and goes, “Oh. Shoot. I guess I should clean myself up. Okay, whatever.” And he’s the perfect counterpart to William James Moriarty. But also, this show now contains two extremely smug assholes trying to solve crime at each other.
DEE: [laughs] Which, I mean, could be entertaining in its own way, depending upon your tolerance for smug assholes, I guess.
CHIAKI: Yeah. So, it’s kinda fun. I’m enjoying the chemistry they’re brewing. I’m not sure if it’s gonna become a full-blown rivalry or if they’re gonna be flirty boys trying to commit crimes at each other—er, Moriarty’s gonna be committing crimes at Holmes and trying to go like “Hey! Are you sure that I’m the culprit? Because I’m not the one killing people.”
DEE: Yeah, this is one that I keep looking at and going, “This sounds like it could be really interesting, but at the same time, I’m not sure I want to invest the energy because it also sounds like it could be a huge disappointment.” So, I’m glad you’re watching it and are continuing to fill me in on the details.
Maybe it’s getting a second cour. I’m really not sure. I didn’t look up everything that’s carrying over. I know there’s a decent number. But I also know you’re keeping up with the manga, so I hope you will keep letting me know how Moriarty the Patriot is doing and if it fulfills some of its potential, because it sounds like it has some potential to be an interesting story, both in terms of some of the social commentary—even though it is pretty ham-fisted, from what you’ve told us—but then also just in terms of being an entertaining, trashy detective show.
Yeah, it sounds like it’s still ongoing and developing its personality, so maybe not a lot of conclusions to draw yet but something to maybe check out. Does that sound about right?
CHIAKI: I guess so. I haven’t read the second volume via manga yet, because last I checked, it wasn’t out yet on the Jump app. So, I can’t really do a comparison as closely as I’d like. But as I said in the last podcast, the manga feels a little bit more fleshed out, and I’m just hoping that whatever is in the manga is way better than the anime at this point.
DEE: Hey, and if it is, you’ve got yourself a Versus article, possibly.
DEE: So, we’ll see how it goes. We do kinda need to move on, though, because we’ve still got a lot of stuff to talk about. Okay, I think this is gonna be real quick. Chiaki, once again, more monologue time. You finished Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear.
CHIAKI: It’s nice! It’s cute!
DEE: It was nice? Yeah?
CHIAKI: All right, we can move on.
DEE: Is that basically it? [laughs] Kinda kept doing what it was doing from the early episodes. Another one like Tonikawa where if you liked it, you liked it, and if you didn’t, eh, it was fine. Just nice and cute. Okay. Good to have some of those on the schedule.
Next is one we are all watching, so we can talk about this one for a bit. Jujutsu Kaisen, which is also continuing into next season—that one I know for sure—so we’ll be able to talk more about it in the coming podcast as well. How are y’all enjoying Jujutsu Kaisen? The second half went some directions I wasn’t expecting it to go, so how are y’all feeling about it?
PETER: I mean, I read the manga, so I know everything that happens.
DEE: That’s true.
PETER: I was curious. I knew all of you were riding pretty high on it, and I was curious what the introduction of—God, what his name—Toi? The scar-face guy.
DEE: Oh, the main baddie.
PETER: No, no, no. The one who claps his hands. The one who introduced himself by saying, “What type of girls are you into?”
DEE: Oh, that guy.
PETER: I was wondering if that would ruin the vibe for a lot of people.
DEE: No, not really. I mean, it made him obnoxious, but I also think he’s supposed to be obnoxious.
DEE: And to me he was more obnoxious in a way that teenagers can be and they will probably get their shit straightened out. He’s not Mineta. He’s not sexually assaulting people, you know? So, I found him obnoxious and I wanted him to get his butt kicked, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker for me.
At this point, my biggest issue with the back half of the show was the first half set me up for an ensemble-cast exorcism, action-horror-comedy series that I was very excited about; and then the second half pulls Yuji completely away from the other characters we established into this other arc with this new character, who I think might not be in the show anymore. I think he might be done as of the end of this cour. And I’m trying not to spoil things for people who are listening to this.
And it started to lose me a bit because I felt like a lot of the things that I really liked about the show and what pulled me in were suddenly just gone. Primarily Nobara, but also just that group dynamic that we lost, and it became a much bleaker show in the back half in a way that I wasn’t quite expecting it to. So, I struggled with it.
I think it was trying to tell a worthwhile story about the damaging effects of bullying and how it can push people into drastic directions, but at the same time, I think it went so hard and so fast in some ways for pure shock value and… torture porn’s not the right word, but sadness for the sake of sadness, I guess. Tragedy porn—that’s kinda what I’m thinking of—in the second half.
And I’m still here because I think we’re moving someplace new. This arc seems like it’s wrapped up and we’re moving someplace else, but the show is in danger of losing me here just because it took away a lot of the things I really liked about the first half.
How about you, Chiaki? Have you read the manga as well?
CHIAKI: I stopped just around where the Kyoto kids came over. So, I was like, “Mm, all right…” Actually, I can’t remember exactly where I dropped the manga. It was around here, where the first cour ends. I did get to the end of the cour at least. That much I remember. As you said, it feels like I’m about to start losing interest again, so maybe this was the reason why I dropped the manga as well, where I’m like, “Mm… It’s not exactly what I was bargaining for.”
PETER: Well, I can say if your concerns surround certain characters not being around anymore, your prayers are soon to be answered. I don’t know if that’s a big spoiler.
DEE: It feels like they’re angling us back to Yuji going back to the school and them finally getting to this…God, I think it’s gonna be a tournament arc, which is difficult for me, but we’ll see how they do it. But, yeah, it feels like they’re getting ready to reintroduce him to the main cast again, and I think that will go a long way towards hooking me back into the story. Because I like Yuji; I just— This is sort of a longstanding issue with a lot of protagonists, is they are…
PETER: The least interesting character? [laughs]
DEE: And I wouldn’t even call him the least interesting. I think his conflict is— It’s just a very familiar conflict for him, and so I think having those other pieces… I found him more interesting when he was able to bounce off of Megumi and Nobata; and their interactions with each other and the way they saw the world differently. So, I think Yuji is more interesting when you put him around other people that he can bounce off of. And I think that’s true of a lot of stories, honestly.
I hope the next arc will be what I think it’s going to be and will be able to pull me back in. So, I’m still watching. It’s still kind of a tentative recommendation, but I’ve had some concerns in this back half, so we’ll see how it does going forward.
Chiaki, do you want to add anything else or should we move on?
CHIAKI: I think we can move on.
DEE: Okay. I did just— Okay. Peter, you’re watching—did I mark that right?—I’m Standing on a Million Lives. How did that shake out? I know at the midpoint you said it looked like maybe it was gonna start doing some worthwhile things in terms of giving its female characters fully fleshed out arcs, but we hadn’t gotten very far into it yet.
PETER: I think there is the primary romance—or at least it’s become pretty obvious that he and the blonde girl are gonna probably end up together at some point—but the other girls do not seem interested in him whatsoever, and each of the girls at some point got their own big triumphant moment that was in no way influenced by—God, I can’t even remember what his name is—Yotsuya?
CHIAKI: [chuckles] That’s a good indication.
[Chuckles all around]
PETER: Yeah. And they were all pretty good. They got their own dramatic music insert. The narrative was obviously leading up to a moment where everything was going to rest on whether or not they could figure out a way to defeat an enemy or solve a problem or something, and then they think of something themselves. One time it even made a joke that Yotsuya’s like “I’m here to save the day!” and then they’re like “Oh, no, we figured it out, dude. You’re good. We didn’t need you.”
DEE: [laughs] Okay. I do kinda like that. Does he get better? Because I know early on, he was kind of a misanthropic little shit.
PETER: Well, I think it ends with what’s supposed to be an arc about more of his character development. The third quest they’re on ends up lasting the rest of the series, and it ends one episode before the series concludes. And they get to ask a question at the end of each of ‘em, and I think the glasses girl asks, “Is this like a video game? Is this a virtual world?” And the god/gamemaster guy goes, “Oh, no, it’s not. Every time there’s a decision, worlds split. There’s infinite worlds and this is just another possible world based on random chance.”
So, they realize that Yotsuya has— As part of the quest, he killed some people, so he realizes he actually killed some human beings and has an identity crisis.
DEE: Oh, wow. Okay.
PETER: Yeah, they go back to the real world and he’s thinking to himself, “Am I a murderer? This isn’t fun anymore.”
DEE: Is that where the show ends?
PETER: A little bit.
DEE: Damn! [laughs] This season is full of shows with non-endings!
DEE: That’s bonkers.
PETER: It’s all in the real world. It introduces what I think is going to be the next guy to join the group. Yotsuya has to do some stuff… I guess he’s involved with the yakuza or something, and Yotsuya’s working through realizing that he killed real people over the course of that episode, and that’s how the series concludes. So, a very strange ending.
DEE: That lowkey sounds fascinating. Without an ending, I wouldn’t go to it, but if it gets more seasons and keeps going in that direction, it could be a decent show. I wasn’t really expecting that. That’s kind of exciting. So, maybe one to keep an eye on if it gets a season two and can keep exploring what it’s doing with its characters.
PETER: Yeah. I want to show you the clips at some point of… All of them are very clippable moments, the girls pulling off their big move in the series, because they’re pretty lit, actually. So, maybe I’ll share ‘em later.
DEE: Sweet! Yeah, that could be fun. Okay, okay. Moving on, moving on, because I really don’t want this episode to be eight hours long for the folks at home.
Gal & Dino is the next one on the list. This was technically a spring show, but it got delayed because of COVID, and it took ‘em a while to come back, so they came back this fall. I hadn’t been keeping up with it, and then at the end of the year, I popped into the chat and asked if there were any shows I hadn’t watched. I just never even tried it. I just got busy with other stuff. And Vrai was like, “Well, if you’ve never tried Gal & Dino, maybe give it a try. I think you might like it.” So, I did.
The first half is anime; the second half is live action. Well, the first half’s kind of mixed media. They do some little short CG segments and things like that, too. The second half really didn’t work for me at all. It’s a lot of meta jokes using famous Japanese TV personalities. Which is fine. I don’t have to be the target audience for this show, but I don’t know who they are, so I didn’t get the joke.
So, I ended up skipping the second half and just watching the animated segments, because the animated segments are absolutely delightful. It’s a very nice, chill comedy about this gal Kaede and this dinosaur that she invites into her house as her roommate one night when she gets drunk.
And he’s adorable. I really can’t oversell how cute Dino is. And it’s got some nice little continuing arcs about her and her best friend and her senpai at the convenience store, and then her “ex-boyfriend,” but is probably her boyfriend again now. It’s just a really nice comedy.
I recommend it as a short because my preferred method of viewing is to just skip the live-action segments, but I would say try ‘em, and if they’re working for you, cool; if they’re not, then you can just skip ‘em. But, yeah, Gal & Dino was a very pleasant surprise here at the end of the year, and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys pleasant comedies and cute dinos because, you guys, he’s so freakin’ cute! I now have a screenshot gallery of Dino reactions, and I’m very excited about using them.
So, yeah, that’s Gal & Dino. I recommend. But we can move on from there because there’s not a whole lot to dig into. It’s just nice. Chiaki, you finished Dragon Quest?
CHIAKI: Yes. Well, it feels like there’s gonna probably be a second cour to this. It’s an epic ‘90s shounen manga after all. I guess I’ll note one thing to keep in mind: Pop, Dai’s compatriot in his adventures that joins in midway through the season, is an older teenager boy from the ‘90s, so of course he’s gonna be perverted.
DEE: Ugh. Yeah.
CHIAKI: Which is the low point of the show. He’s kinda sexist. He’s first sexist and then he gets horny.
CHIAKI: And it’s like, “Really, my dude? You are the only reason why this show kinda sucks sometimes.”
CHIAKI: Otherwise, though, I really like this show. Dai’s teacher, Avan, is a very non-typical hero. He’s this guy who looks like a nerd with glasses, but he’s also a really strong actual hero. And they introduce Maam toward the latter half of the series, once they set out on their adventure. Maam is also a girl who uses a gun! She’s fighting and can cast magic. It’s pretty cool to see her in action. She’s not always damseled. She does get damseled, actually, which is also kind of unfortunate. But when she is in action, it’s pretty good. And the villains are also very, very shounen.
DEE: [scoffs] Yeah.
CHIAKI: Once they get defeated, they immediately become supportive of Dai.
DEE: Of course.
CHIAKI: “Okay, well, you defeated me. That means that you’re very strong, so I’m gonna support you even though we’re, like, mortal enemies.”
DEE: Mm-hm. So, not perfect. Sounds like it’s a very classic shounen in terms of both things it does well and things it doesn’t do so well, yeah? Is that a fair assessment?
DEE: So, folks at home, if you know your dealbreakers and you know what you like, then you’ll probably know if Dragon Quest is something you want to check out. But it’s nice to know that it’s been a fun show for you, for sure.
CHIAKI: Oh yeah!
DEE: Okay, next one up. I do want to spend a little bit of time on this one, though probably not too much. D4DJ. It has not technically ended, because it’s on a weird release schedule. We’re like eight episodes in, probably nine by the time this episode drops.
CHIAKI: Yeah, nine just dropped today.
DEE: Yeah, nine dropped as we’re recording this. So, we won’t have watched that one yet. And that’s the only reason I didn’t recommend it for the Fall season, is because it’s not finished yet. I really, really like D4DJ, and I was not expecting to. It was nowhere near my radar. It is an extremely charming music show about four girls making music together in a club. I’m having a good time with it. How about you, Chiaki?
CHIAKI: Yeah, as I mentioned before, this is also really informative about DJing.
DEE: Yeah, I’ve learned a lot, too, which is fun.
CHIAKI: Yeah. And I just love the energy this show has.
DEE: It has a really good energy. It has kind of an offbeat sense of humor that I very much enjoy. Like the part where they ask the one girl about the plushie. They’re like, “Hey, so I’ve been meaning to ask what’s with the stuffed cat?” And she’s like, “Oh, yeah, this is Mogumo.” And there’s just dead silence for five seconds as they stare at her, waiting for her to say more. And that’s all she’ll say, is just “This is Mogumo.” And then they just move on. Like, “Okay, that was weird and I approve of it.”
So, it has a silly sense of humor. The animation looks very good, both within the dance sequences and then—
DEE: —just the character animation.
DEE: Yes! I had to take a video of the eating scene because I was like, “This is incredible! This looks so good,” and it was just delightful to watch.
So, I had not realized that D4DJ’s directed by Mizushima Seiji, who is known for directing the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime and Concrete Revolutio and those kind of shows. D4DJ feels very much outside of his usual range, but I can totally feel his offbeat sense of humor coming through, and I do enjoy him a lot as a director. So when I saw that, I was like, “Maybe that is part of the reason why I like this show,” because I’m not usually into cute girl music shows.
I also think it’s nice. There’s really no caveats. There’s no unnecessary fanservice. There’s a couple of bathing scenes, but they’re just taking a bath. It’s not like the camera’s leering at them or anything. And I can’t really think of any warnings there. It’s just, again, a fun show about four girls making music together. And I enjoy hanging out with them each week, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the cast expands going forward.
CHIAKI: Actually, one thing to add here. This feels like an idol show, right? Because it’s a group of girls getting together and performing?
DEE: It does, but somehow it doesn’t, and I don’t know how to explain that. As I’m going to continue watching, I’m gonna try to figure out why it doesn’t feel that way to me, because the general tone of idol shows usually keeps me at arm’s length, which is why I don’t watch them.
And, again, that’s not a knock on idol shows. It’s just it doesn’t vibe with me personally. But there’s something about D4DJ that really does. It works for me. I find it very charming, kinda like Zombie Land Saga in terms of “it just clicks.” What were you going to say, though, Chiaki? Sorry, I cut you off.
CHIAKI: I feel like this show is especially focusing on the girls… they control their own creative output, as compared to—
DEE: I do really like that, yeah.
CHIAKI: Compared to how idols a lot of the time feels, even if it’s a school idol club anime, at the end of the day, you kind of know or feel that those girls are part of a production that’s oriented toward the idol industry. And D4DJ, even though this is an anime being produced by probably hundreds of thousands of dollars…
DEE: Oh yeah, it’s part of a multimedia franchise. But I think I know what you mean. There’s such a focus on putting the songs together and the creative processes as they all work out what they want to do with each new number, that I think that focus on the actual process of making the music and their experiences that go into that gives it a different feel than a lot of idol shows do. I really like it.
CHIAKI: I appreciate that, yeah.
DEE: I’m gonna keep thinking about exactly what it is about it that works for me while other shows that are more in its vein don’t, and maybe I’ll be able to come up with a more concrete answer as we go. But, yeah, again, I would recommend this one to people who like idol shows and like music shows, and I would recommend it to people who maybe have a harder time with them but enjoyed a show like Zombie Land Saga;stuff that’s a little more offbeat. I think it has a lot of charm. So, yeah, I recommend it.
And we can jump past the next two because none of us kept up with The Day I Became a God or By the Grace of the Gods. And we can move into our It’s Complicated category, which is big, and we are gonna have to sprint a little bit here. But we’re gonna do it. We’re gonna make it. Peter, you finished Wandering Witch.
PETER: I did.
DEE: How’d that turn out? I heard it got silly.
PETER: Ah… “Silly.” Hm.
DEE: Ridiculous? Kino’s Journey sheep scene.
PETER: Yeah, I’d say the second half, they stopped doing serious episodes. I can’t remember where the one where “there’s the little girl and her family gets murdered” one happens.
DEE: Oh, Lord. Okay.
PETER: I don’t want to say this series is silly or anything like that because it definitely got real bad. I think the worst episode was probably one where somebody wants to time-travel backward to save her childhood friend, and it turns out her childhood friend was the one who murdered her parents and was this big psycho killer, and very gruesomely murder the girl on screen. Lots of blood.
DEE: Wow. Wow! Okay. Content warning for that, for sure.
PETER: Yeah. I don’t know what sort of drama they were going for in this scene. It was honestly worse than anything I saw in Higurashi. So, there’s that. But then the second half of the series is more goofy, which at that point… I don’t know. I feel like the series had already done so much weird stuff that made me not trust it that I couldn’t appreciate it trying to be tongue in cheek anymore. I definitely say the second half is safer content, for sure. It seems like the series was either, at best, kind of fun and, at worst, very bad in just about every way it could be bad.
DEE: Another ringing endorsement!
PETER: [crosstalk] Politically, thematically, narratively, visually. That kind of stuff. Yeah, and then the last episode was this weird thing where she met… Everyone remembers the self-love tweet that was going around.
CHIAKI: [bursts into laughter]
PETER: She meets—
DEE: Yes! Doesn’t she, like, fuck herself, basically? Sorry to be lewd, folks at home.
PETER: No, she goes to a world where… It’s not really explained. In the beginning of the episode, she shows up and there’s a bunch of different versions of her: one that’s obsessed with having a bigger chest than everyone else, one that’s a jerk, one that’s a nerd, one that got turned into a slime. There’s like 16 or 17 of them. And there’s an evil one that wants to do battle, but then they reconcile and they all write their adventures into a single book, and apparently that’s how she ends up writing her book, The Wandering Witch. And then it teases a second season by her running into a character who says, “Oh. I didn’t know at the time, but I’d be journeying with them later.” And then it just kinda falls off.
DEE: So, continued to be extremely, extremely up and down. I think I will not be coming back to it, although the second half being lighter does make me a little bit more interested in it. But, yeah, bit of a mess all the way through, sounds like. And obviously some pretty heavy content warnings, which we also discussed in the three-episode check-in. So, that’s Wandering Witch. [chuckles] Let’s keep going.
We have Talentless Nana next, which all three of us watched. And who wants to kick us off on this one? I’m worried with Talentless Nana that we could fall down a hole and end up talking about it for a solid hour because there’s a lot going on. I found it to be very entertaining pulp. I mean, we jokingly called it Murder Hero Academia, and then Chiaki corrected me that it should be Bokusatsu no Hero Academia.
PETER: That’s good, yeah.
DEE: [chuckles] But I enjoyed it all the way through. It’s definitely kind of ridiculous at parts with some of the narrative twists and leaps they make to explain, like, “how Nana got away with this one,” especially in the middle.
But I like the way the show was definitely challenging Nana’s worldview and, especially in the back half, really showing how she was abused and groomed for this position and taken advantage of by adults to turn her into this assassin. And she starts questioning that towards the end of the show. And then a big thing happens that I can’t spoil for the folks at home in the final episode, that’s pretty damn devastating. And then the show just ends!
DEE: It just ends. And I got into like every group chat I was in, and I was like, “What the hell!” Okay, Talentless Nana!
PETER: That’s a good manga commercial, right? [chuckles]
DEE: It’s a really good manga commercial. I started just frantically googling to see, “Well, there has to be a second season, right? There has to be an announcement. They wouldn’t just end there. That’s terrible!” And that’s ultimately why I ended up not tagging my name on it on our recommendations post for the fall, is because with that kind of a non-ending, that’s an adaptation choice that kind of makes me angry. So, I couldn’t quite recommend it because of that.
But it’s definitely caught my eye and I’ll probably be reading the manga now. I think it’s on Crunchyroll manga. Which, for folks at home, if you didn’t know, Crunchyroll has a manga app. It’s free to read if you’re a Crunchyroll member.
PETER: I remember we were just talking when I saw you all conversing about reading Nana, and somebody mentioned that it was still Flash. I think the next day the HTML version of the manga reader launched.
DEE: Okay, good. They knew. They knew people would be flocking for the Talentless Nana content, so they got it fixed up. So, yeah, I definitely would say it’s one that caught my attention. It’s one I enjoyed every week. The ending frustrated me.
Content warnings for violence. I think there’s some sexual assault–type stuff in one of the arcs. It’s more implied or threatened than anything that actually happens.
It’s definitely pulpy murder trash to a point, but I do like the way it develops its core cast, and I’m curious to see where they go with it, because I think it could turn into a “Nana turns on her handlers and works together with the other people on the island to take ‘em down,” and I’m really curious to see if goes that direction.
How did you guys feel about it? Anything else you want to add?
PETER: I think you pretty much summed up my feelings about it pretty well. I’d read the manga back in the day. I think I was up to the big twist, but I didn’t want to give anything away—or I didn’t even know they would reach it, to be honest. So, I had a lot of fun reading it. I think the anime adapted it pretty well. I don’t really know where it goes from here, though, so I can’t recommend it past this point. It was a good romp.
CHIAKI: So, what I did was start up the manga right after where the anime leaps off.
PETER: Oh, nice. Cool.
CHIAKI: And I feel like the cour of the anime ended exactly where it needed to end. I feel like what happens from then on becomes… not a very different story, but it starts going into a very different arc. And so—
PETER: Yeah, it could definitely end up accelerating from this point so fast that you couldn’t really find another ending point.
CHIAKI: Yeah. So, I feel like they did a good decision to end there even though it is technically a terrible place to end; but also, I think it was a good cutting point.
DEE: I have to assume that they think they’re getting a season two. The way they did it felt like “Oh, there’ll be more. Don’t worry. We’ll get you more.” So, we’ll see.
CHIAKI: So, yeah, I am excited to see more if it comes out, and if not, I will keep reading the manga, I guess.
DEE: Yeah. And I guess one other point I want to make is… You know, I did say content warnings for violence, but one thing I like about Talentless Nana is… There is quite a lot of murder and violence in the show. It doesn’t revel in it, though. It’s not necessarily graphic. That’s not the focus of the show, is suffering teens. It’s more the tension aspect and the cat-and-mouse game and, again, Nana’s path from this child soldier to wherever she goes from here, because it feels like there’s gonna be a pretty big turning point.
CHIAKI: I feel one good thing about the show is the kids dying… I honestly don’t feel as bad about them dying.
DEE: [laughs] There’s a few of ‘em. There’s a lot of ‘em where I’m like, “They didn’t deserve that.” But some of them, you just never got to really know that well either, and I think the show is intentionally made that way. It’s not trying to get you attached to them and then make you sad. Well… Not entirely, anyway.
You know what, we probably shouldn’t dig too much deeper into this, but I did just want to put a mark on it as far as… It’s not graphic gore, violence when I say that. It’s definitely there, but it’s not a show that’s reveling in that.
Okay. Next up is Iwakakeru: Sports Climbing Girls. You guys both finished this one. No, Peter dropped it but, Chiaki, you finished it.
CHIAKI: Yeah. Peter, did you have anything to say before you dropped it or…?
PETER: I couldn’t keep up with it. It was very bland, so…
CHIAKI: Yeah, it feels kind of bland. The final arc has a rival character who is teased at from the very beginning, Kurusu. She is so shrill, it is annoying to all hell. But whatever. I finished it. It was okay. Whatever. [chuckles]
DEE: Okay. So, that’s Iwakakeru, I guess. We can move right along. Magatsu Wahrheit. Peter, did you end up getting through this one?
PETER: Yeah, I finished it.
DEE: I thought it fell off the rails in the end.
PETER: Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of the late-game twists.
DEE: [Sighs] Yeah. I really don’t want to spend a lot of time on this one. Basically, it ends up being a prequel to the mobile game, so unless you are playing the game, I really can’t recommend this to anybody, because it sort of has an ending, but it really is just a big setup for whatever happens in the game that it’s based on.
Two good things about it is… it does have a fairly diverse cast and they are treated pretty well. I mean, there’s no fanservice of the lady characters and there’s a Black character, who I kept thinking they were gonna fridge, but nope, he made it all the way through. I was very proud of him. And he’s just treated as a member of the cast. I appreciate that, as well. There’s no stereotyping or anything there. In fact, he’s like their steady-handed leader, which is nice.
And the other good thing I’ll say about it is it did kind of make me want to play the mobile game. I got to the end and I was like, “I kinda want to know what happens now.”
Otherwise, there’s some late-game twists that make a lot of the stuff that we saw building up to it feel pointless. And then it ends up being pretty pro-imperialist. And the one gay-coded character—who was played a little bit creepy but was ultimately leading the good guy team, so it was “Well, you know, that’s kinda cool.” …Yeah, it turns out he’s the secret traitor villain. So, that sucked!
PETER: Yeah. Yeah, I was not a fan of the Jade twist.
DEE: No, didn’t love that.
PETER: [crosstalk] Or pretty much any of the twists in the last two episodes.
DEE: Yeah. It was careening off the rails and then it just fell off of them at the end. I finished it more out of a sense of “Well, there’s only two episodes left. What the hell, I might as well knock it out for the podcast.” I think that’s all I want to say about Magatsu Wahrheit. Definitely, I would say, my biggest disappointment of the season. I was expecting a lot more from it based on those early episodes. Womp womp.
PETER: You don’t get a sense of completion out of it.
DEE: Yeah. No, not at all.
PETER: [crosstalk] I do want to say I did like the final fight between the two main characters because—
DEE: Oh, it looked great. Yeah.
PETER: And, I don’t know, I felt like they kinda needed it, given their background, and we weren’t gonna get it because they were forced to work together despite one of them hating the other for a very good reason. So, I was glad I finished it, so I got that, but everything else was very disappointing to me.
DEE: Pretty unsatisfying, yeah. Okay, next up is Akudama Drive. So, the ones coming up, we have recommendations written out on the site right now for them, so I am gonna lowkey point people towards those, as well, because of time constraints here. Also, Akudama Drive’s another one that we could probably do an entire episode, so maybe something to put in our back pocket for later.
It starts as a big action spectacle, and it continues to be that all the way through. It has a lot of style, and the big action scenes look really good. But I had said early on that it felt like there was some social commentary in the background, and that moves into the foreground in the final arc in a lot of dramatic ways.
It’s hard to talk about without spoiling a bunch of stuff, and I do want our listeners to be able to experience it for themselves, I think. But the show goes pretty hard on anti–police brutality, very Defund the Police, some criticisms about the arbitrary nature of who’s considered a criminal and who’s not and how those labels impact people.
The main character, Swindler, has a fantastic character arc. I loved her. She ends up being a really good hero. The show has a lot of women both shitty and not shitty, but I don’t mean that in a way that I think that they’re shitty characters. I like that there were lots of different female characters with lots of different ideals and moralities, and it didn’t really make a statement about “Women be like this” because it had female characters all across the board. And I like that in the second half that they really became the main characters.
I was really, really happy with Akudama Drive. When the finale ended, I sat there a little bit gobsmacked and was like, “Damn!” It built to a really, really good finale, so I was very high on this one. Peter, you finished it as well.
PETER: Yeah. I felt like it pulled off what Deca-Dence promised.
PETER: Because Deca-Dence ended very disappointingly for me and I thought that Akudama Drive really— I already voiced that the penultimate episode I didn’t really like and I felt like they were really building toward a character arc with the female executioner that didn’t really complete in any way.
DEE: Yeah, they leave that vague. I do agree with you there. Very open ended.
PETER: But I felt like everybody else—maybe not—almost all the characters got a really satisfying character arc. The politics and themes of the series were very clear and good. We don’t get that combination too often. And the ending was really dramatic, probably had some of the best sequences of the series, so it really stuck the landing.
DEE: Yeah. It went places I did not expect it to, but then once we got there, I was like, “Oh yeah. That was what you had to do. That was where it needed to be.”
So, yeah, definitely a lot of graphic violence, although the current Funimation cut is the TV version that had pretty significant edits, as far as censor bars and stuff.
PETER: Oh yeah, very Terra Formars, where they had to shield half the screen in black so you couldn’t see what was going on.
DEE: Yeah, there were some places in the back half where I was like, “Whew! This must be pretty brutal!” And again, there’s a fair number of content warnings, so I do want to direct folks to our recommendation on the website just so you’re aware of those. But, yeah, overall, I was really impressed with this one. I’m fiddling with writing an article about it. We’ll see if anything actually comes of that. And I think it would be possible to do a full episode on it because I think there’s a lot of stuff you could pick at about it. So, yeah, it was good.
Okay, next up is Adachi and Shimamura. I’m the only person currently listening—not listening (I mean, I guess you guys are listening, but…) [chuckles]—on the podcast (there we go; I got there) who watched this one all the way through.
It has a non-ending. It’s a slow-burn romance that doesn’t give you a conclusion at all, and that was ultimately why… There were a lot of reasons why I decided not to tag my name to the recommendation for this, but the lack of a conclusion really killed this one for me. The adaptation, I think, made some choices to intentionally slow things down. Based on what I know about the source material, they could have hit a point where we got to something more satisfying for these characters, but they just kinda dithered.
When it’s good, it does a really nice job of depicting depression and anxiety for these teen girls. I think it does a really good job with Adachi realizing that she is extremely attracted to Shimamura and not knowing really how to engage with those feelings and being terrified of “If I tell Shimamura, what will happen?” in a way that I think is really relatable, especially for queer teenagers.
So, when it’s good, I think it’s really good—but, as we’ve noted before, the camera work is really skeevy in a lot of places. There’s some places where it’s clearly Adachi thinking about Shimamura and it’s conveying the fact that Adachi is very horny, because she is. But there’s a lot of places where it’s just thighs and crotches for the sake of thighs and crotches, and it takes you out of it and it kinda sucks.
So, at this point, I would lean towards recommending the light novels, which are now starting to come out in English, because I do think there is some good stuff in there; I think the adaptation made some poor decisions along the way. And boy howdy, is it a slow burn, so just be aware of that. It’s not one I can recommend at the end of the day, but I think it’s doing enough good that I would maybe direct people to the light novels instead.
Okay, so, moving on into our final trio of shows. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon will be carrying over into winter, so we can talk more about that one later. We’re all keeping up with it, yes?
PETER: Eh… I don’t know anymore.
DEE: Oh, okay. You’ve fallen off?
PETER: [crosstalk] I don’t know if Moroha’s good enough to make me want to keep watching the show.
DEE: So, my thing with Yashahime is it’s definitely a show for a younger audience. It is geared towards, I would say, probably 12, 13. And I don’t want to knock points off of it for that, because I would have eaten this show up with absolute delight when I was 12-13 years old.
I wish I’d had more shows like this running [when I was a kid] about these three badass female characters who have these really good friendships and sibling bonds that they’re starting to develop, and they go out and they hunt demons and they get power levels, and they’re not sexualized at all; they’re treated really well. I wish there was more of that when I was that age.
So, with some notes about some of the horror elements maybe being a little scary for some kids, depending on the kid, I would happily give this to a preteen, early teenager. I think they’d have a great time with it.
I’m struggling a little bit to keep up with it. I kind of wish it was dubbed because I think it would be a nice one to have on in the background while I was doing other stuff.
PETER: It’s Viz, so it’s almost certainly getting dubbed.
DEE: Oh, no, I mean, it’ll get a dub eventually, but it doesn’t have one right now.
CHIAKI: They did announce the dub, right?
PETER: Oh, yeah, I think they did.
DEE: Okay, cool.
CHIAKI: The unfortunate thing is that Miroku’s voice actor died right after that.
DEE: Passed away really recently, yeah. Yeah, it’s sad.
Personally, there are times when I find my attention wandering, because it is an episodic monster show. But I really appreciate it for existing and I want it to do well so that more shows like this exist.
How about you guys? Peter, it sounds like you’re losing steam, and I think that’s fair. Chiaki, where are you with this one?
CHIAKI: I’ll just undersign what you just said.
DEE: Okay. Cool. Well, that’s easy, then. We can move along to Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle. Chiaki, I just talked a lot. What are your thoughts on Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle?
CHIAKI: Sleepy Princess is the “Mood” show of the season, definitely. I think we’ve said this multiple times, at least in the chat, and definitely in the recommendation article, as well. It is a relatable and also very wholesome show that’s just nice to chill out to. A lot of people were definitely saying, “How do you keep this premise going for a full cour, for a full-length anime?”
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, that was my concern.
CHIAKI: And the fans of the manga kept saying, “No, no. You’ll care about these characters.” And I’m like, “Yeah. Okay. I totally get it now.” I love how everyone here is a complete and utter goober.
DEE: Yeah. They’re all goobers. It’s great. I think the back half did a really nice job of developing the cast and their relationships to each other. Even Syalis, who is a total gremlin, genuinely starts to care about the folks in the Demon Castle, and they start to care about her.
And it continues to have really good comedic timing, but it also has a beating heart under all that, where the show is engaging a little bit with the idea of fantasy and fairy tale archetypes and feeling like you have to fit this particular role. And then Syalis comes in and makes no effort to fit that role. And I think that encourages the demons to also realize, “We don’t have to be these cackling, evil overlords. That’s not who we are,” and that they aren’t at all.
I hope it gets a season two. If not, I’m probably gonna pick up the manga because I would like to see where it goes with that. And also, it’s funny and nice and I like hanging out with the characters.
So, yeah, it wasn’t a particularly complex story, but there really weren’t any caveats to it other than some comedic slapstick violence that’s pretty weightless, all things considered. Yeah, it was just nice. It was a nice show to watch each week. I looked forward to it. Sounds like you did, too.
So, that’s Sleepy Princess. That was recommended by basically the entire team, so I would say definitely check that one out, especially if you like fantasies and comedies and mashing the two together.
Last one on the list is The Gymnastics Samurai. Peter, did you end up finishing this one as well? I know Chiaki did.
DEE: Okay, cool. So, we all watched this one. It was my Problematic Fave pick of the season, mostly because Britney continues to be a rough queer stereotype who periodically shows up. I mean, the cast is friendly with them, but the show uses them as a punchline a number of times in a way that is uncomfortable. And fortunately, she—them—isn’t in the show all that much, so it’s not constant nails on chalkboard there.
But the main trio and the main story I ended up really enjoying. I thought the final arc was very satisfying for the show. I liked the way that it all came together into these different stories about comebacks, because at first it felt like a lot of threads just thrown to the wind and the show felt very disjointed. By the end of it, I think they tied it together in a way that was satisfying and heartwarming and I liked the found family aspects. So, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. How were you guys on it?
PETER: I don’t know. This felt more like my personal quibble than a criticism of the series, but I just never felt like the gymnastics aspect of the show was compelling. All my favorite episodes—
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh, no, it wasn’t. [chuckles]
PETER: —were about the daughter and the found family part, really. Every time it got back to the gymnastics part, I just groaned. I don’t know how interested the series was in it, and maybe the theme that it was going for didn’t click with me either, but I found that part really hard to get through.
And as it leaned more toward gymnastics in the ending, I became a little less interested, except in the aspect where they’re trying to get Leo back and stuff. That was fine. But the competition, it just never interested me.
DEE: I thought Rei was the strongest character and story, overall. I thought Leo ended up having a really nice arc, too, about burnout and expectations that I ended up enjoying quite a bit there—and finding people who would accept him and not necessarily put his value as a person on his ability to perform ballet. So, I really enjoyed that aspect of it.
I ended up liking Jotaro’s storyline in terms of being… He was coming back from an injury, but it was also about him in his own way moving past and coming to terms with his wife’s death. And it’s downplayed a bit, but it’s there at the end in his story arc.
I do agree a lot of the gymnastic stuff felt a little bit tacked on, like they felt that they needed a hook and that was their hook. Tetsuo’s arc, I don’t think— I don’t think Tetsuo needed to be in the story. He’s kinda supposed to be the rival character, but Jotaro’s ultimately competing against himself, so I don’t think he was necessary to the story.
So, yeah, it’s definitely imperfect. There’s definitely some bells and whistles that could have been trimmed off and made it a stronger, more cohesive throughline. But I ended up caring about the gymnastics in the end because it mattered to the found family story that was at the heart of the story. So, overall, I really, really liked this one.
A lot of shows did not stick the landing this season. I thought this one had a very good conclusion. And, yeah, I do agree with you in terms of the show’s flaws, but I think that its strengths outweighed them for me anyway. Chiaki, how about you?
CHIAKI: I think a lot of people were expecting some kind of magical realism from this show at the very beginning.
DEE: Yeah! It had those vibes early on.
CHIAKI: Yeah, and it plays out to be totally not, except I guess it kinda still is. It’s kinda still out there. And so, I enjoyed those elements a lot. But, again, like you guys were saying, when it gets into the nitty-gritty of “This is how competitions for gymnastics work,” I’m just like, “Okay. Yeah, sure. Jo’s getting points. Great!”
PETER: [chuckles] So many points.
DEE: Some sports shows are about the sport, and some sports shows are about the characters and the sport is just a vehicle through which the characters grow. And I think that Gymnastics Samurai was much more the second one.
CHIAKI: Yes. But I wish that there was more interplay between all the characters, including Britney, even. Britney, I feel, could have been fleshed out more, but while they’re on the sidelines and thus you don’t have to see them as much, also, you never actually see them as a full character, which is unfortunate.
DEE: Yeah, I think there was potential there that was not explored. And then to top that off with some of the jokes they made about Britney being big and buff with a deep voice and able to shout really loud but also having these feminine mannerisms, it felt like they were making fun of them more than not, so it was a little rough.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah. I really didn’t like the kid being afraid of driving with Britney.
CHIAKI: Oh, yeah. Mm-hm.
PETER: That came in right at the 11th hour. I was like, “Why did you do this? You were so close.”
DEE: And Britney throughout is proven to be just a nice acupuncturist who sometimes gets shouty, so it’s not like this show is ever like “This kid’s fears are founded.” But, yeah, the fact that they had to throw that in there at all… It was like, “Come on. You don’t have time to explore queerphobia, so maybe don’t include it.”
DEE: So, like I said, not a perfect show, no. But with those caveats in mind, Chiaki, I know you recommended this one as well, too, right?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] I endorsed this one. Overall, I had fun, so, good.
DEE: That’s good, yeah. And I definitely felt some feelings along the way, which is always nice.
Okay, we are over [time], because of course we are. Usually, we spend some time here talking about sequels and carryovers. Peter, I think you’re with me. Haikyu!!: still good. I’m not sure there’s much more we need to say about it at this point because if you’re watching it, you’re watching it, and if you’re not, you’re not. But it continues to be probably my favorite Shonen Jump series. Promised Neverland is up there.
And that’s all I can say about Haikyu: Watch it. It’s good. There’s very little bullshit. It’s mostly just a very good show about volleyball dorks playing volleyball, and I like that a lot.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, I didn’t want to say anything going in, but Inarizaki is lowkey one of their best matches ever, because it has everything.
DEE: It was really good, yeah. I had a good time this season, and I’m looking forward to them continuing to adapt it. The manga has finished, so they can wrap it up, probably. Production I.G always does great work. So, Haikyu!!: still good. I don’t think we need to say much else.
Peter, you finished Golden Kamuy. Is there anything you wanted to say about it here at the end real quick?
PETER: New season was absolutely amazing. Some absolutely wild twists. And they introduced a grandma-age lady who may or may not end up fighting with them later, who is super badass.
DEE: Oh, that’s cool.
PETER: So, I’m pretty excited about that.
DEE: I’m gonna get to it. Probably, eventually. I tried to start it, and I realized I didn’t remember who frickin’ anybody is because they expanded the cast so dramatically at the end of that last season and then they split everybody up, and I’m like, “God, I don’t remember who you are anymore!” I was struggling to get into it because of that, but I do plan on catching up eventually, so, glad to know there’s a badass old lady to look forward to. That’ll definitely encourage me.
PETER: She’s very good.
DEE: Okay. So, I think that’s it. Anything else? Or should I play us out?
CHIAKI: Oh. Dog and Cat. Animated series of the season.
DEE: Oh! Yes, With a Cat and a Dog, Every Day Is Fun is a two-minute short that continues to be fantastic, and it’s continuing into the next season. Everybody should watch it. It’s very cute. It’s very good and fun.
PETER: [amused] Season two!
DEE: I love that it has a season two.
DEE: Okay. Is that it? Are we good?
PETER: I think we’re good.
DEE: Hooray! Okay. Thanks for sticking with us long this time, folks. We always go long on these. I don’t know why I ever think we’re not going to.
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