Caitlin, Peter, and Mercedez check in on the 2021 Spring season!
Date Recorded: May 9th, 2021
Hosts: Caitlin, Peter, and Mercedez
0:01:39 DON’T TOY WITH ME, MISS NAGATORO
0:05:24 Tokyo Revengers
0:08:15 Pretty Boy Detective Club
0:12:41 Those Snow White Notes
0:12:51 *Naruto and Your Lie in April Spoilers*
0:18:38 Osamake: Romcom Where The Childhood Friend Won’t Lose
0:20:20 MARS RED
0:21:16 Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway
0:28:05 Combatants Will Be Dispatched!
0:29:59 Super Cub
0:40:25 Shadows House
0:45:51 I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level
0:53:59 The World Ends With You
0:57:05 Vivy: Flourite Eyes’ Song
0:58:42 To Your Eternity
1:02:47 JORAN THE PRINCESS OF SNOW AND BLOOD
1:04:50 Fairy Ranmaru
1:09:43 86 EIGHTY-SIX
1:12:02 Let’s Make a Mug Too
1:12:48 Farewell, My Dear Cramer
CAITLIN: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about the middle of the spring 2021 season, which may be the busiest season yet, at least maybe for me. My name is Caitlin. I am one of the managing editors for Anime Feminist and a reviewer for Anime News Network, and today I am joined by Peter and Mercedez!
PETER: Hi, I’m Peter. I’m an associate manager of social video at Crunchyroll and an editor at Anime Feminist.
MERCEDEZ: Hi, I’m Mercedez and I am also a contributing writer at Anime News Network, as well as an editor and a freelance localization editor, too.
CAITLIN: Just got a lot of irons in the fire.
MERCEDEZ: I’m so busy. Please save me.
CAITLIN: I’m trying!
MERCEDEZ: [Laughs] I would like sleep as a treat.
PETER: And we’re also expecting you to watch all these seasonal anime.
MERCEDEZ: God, so many anime this season! Why?
CAITLIN: And there is a truly absurd number of anime this season. And we are going to talk about—not all of them, but a good chunk of them, because most series at least someone on the team is watching.
As usual for seasonal podcasts, we’re going to start at the bottom of our rankings in the digest with Red Flags and work our way all the way up to the very tiptop. This season, our one Red Flag that team members are watching is Don’t Toy with Me, Nagatoro, which I haven’t touched, although—
CAITLIN: —the screenshots I’ve seen on Twitter actually have looked pretty charming.
MERCEDEZ: [Hums skeptically]
CAITLIN: And Mercedez and Peter, you are also watching them.
PETER: You said they looked heartwarming?
PETER: Oh, charming? Okay.
MERCEDEZ: I would not call this show charming. [Chuckles]
PETER: It’s the chaotic evil version of Teasing Master Takagi-san, I think. It does have heartwarming moments in it where Nagatoro is kind of protective of the main character sometimes, but those would be good scenes if the scenes where she wasn’t relentlessly bullying him didn’t exist, probably.
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] I have to admit I don’t know if I actually like this show, or if I’m watching it because I cannot help myself.
PETER: [Chuckles] It is fascinating.
MERCEDEZ: I feel like I’m doing some sort of field study of bad depictions of Japanese girls. Because when Nagatoro… I think her first name’s Hayase. I don’t think they’ve said her first name yet, but I’ve got the deep Nagatoro cuts.
PETER: Oh, no.
MERCEDEZ: The facts.
CAITLIN: It was like the first episode they said it.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. When she’s just a girl who’s not bullying this poor child to tears, she’s okay. But when she and her horrible friends are bullying him or when the show gets strangely horny, that’s when I’m like…
CAITLIN: Oh, it’s always horny.
PETER: Yeah, I wouldn’t say “strangely horny” because horny’s kind of the point, right?
MERCEDEZ: Right, yeah.
CAITLIN: This is a fetish show.
PETER: Well, my understanding is the manga was originally straight-up hentai.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, God.
PETER: It was a hentai manga, then it was reworked into something that could be published in a non-hentai magazine or something, and then that’s what the anime was based off of.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] That explains everything!
PETER: This is like a porn with the actual pornography removed.
MERCEDEZ: Because everything in this weird, alternate version of high school Japan, everything is sexual. Handwashing! There was a handwashing scene that I was… I had to close my computer because I was like, “I don’t think I’m old enough.”
MERCEDEZ: It stopped short of a Brazzers logo at the bottom right. And I was just like, “This is so uncomfortable! Is this teenage boy okay? Is there a school counselor? Where are the teachers?” And they’re nowhere, because in Nagatoro, no one is allowed to get help or have dreams. [Chuckles]
PETER: I think some of the teasing’s fine, but other scenes, she’s literally collecting his tears to make tear martinis like that guy from Hannibal.
PETER: She has a handkerchief, and it shows his tears soaking into the handkerchief.
MERCEDEZ: And yet, I cannot dig myself out of the trash heap to stop liking this show, because I’m like, “Maybe she’ll get better.” I really believe she will.
PETER: It is very well produced. Of course.
MERCEDEZ: It’s quite gorgeous.
PETER: The animation’s great. Background art’s great. Directing’s great. OP’s a banger.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, man, the ending is so colorful, and I like it quite a bit.
CAITLIN: All right, let’s keep moving—
PETER: [amused] Let’s stop dwelling.
CAITLIN: [Chuckles] —and talk for a second about Tokyo Revengers, which I personally am on the verge of dropping. It’s fine. There’s just so much other anime, and Hinata really does seem like just a MacGuffin. I asked someone who really liked the manga, “Does she become a real character?” And he’s like, “Well, she inspires him.” And I’m like, that’s not… No, not what I’m looking for. That was the wrong answer.
PETER: I have enjoyed what I’ve read from the manga, but I do have to say the only real fist-slam-on-the-table moment I had when reading it was… the main character, Takemichi, he brings up to her brother, the police inspector, he’s like, “What if I just told her that she’s in danger, and that way she avoids the situation?” He goes like, “No, you can’t tell her that!” [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Why? Why?
PETER: [through laughter] I assume because it would ruin the story, because then she wouldn’t get in danger!
CAITLIN: He told him that?! I mean, but able to survive!
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, he’s like, “If you told my sister, that could mess up the time stream.” Yeah, I don’t know. He basically said that could create a time paradox or something, but that’s—
CAITLIN: But that—
PETER: That’s what we’re doing!
CAITLIN: You already did!
PETER: I don’t know why it would be safe to tell the younger brother that he can travel through time and then that guy becomes a time cop, but he can’t tell her because that would be the easy way to save her life, probably. His excuse is she might think he’s crazy, they stop dating, and then he can’t stay close to her and keep her safe.
CAITLIN: That’s so fucking artificial.
PETER: Yeah, a little bit.
CAITLIN: It’s like, “Uh… uh, why can’t…? Uh…”
PETER: My understanding, though, is late game, he’s not just saving her. Eventually it becomes like he finds out that all of his friends—pretty much everybody he meets gets fucked up by being in the same environment as this gang, the Toman Gang.
CAITLIN: [ironic] Wow, really? Gangs aren’t good for you?
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s like he’s trying to save all of his friends, and then it really gets complex with him going back and forth through time. And I think it really leans into all the guys being extremely hot later on. The primary fanbase in Japan is women, from what I understand for Tokyo Revengers.
CAITLIN: Yeah, that’s not terribly surprising. From what you’ve said, I do appreciate that it doesn’t seem to be totally romanticizing gang life. It’s like, “Yeah, no, eventually this is going to ruin you,” because delinquent anime and manga tend to romanticize it, I feel like.
But yeah, no, Hinata is an issue, is a real sticking point. And I just don’t like it as much as most of the other stuff I’ve been watching.
PETER: That’s fair. Busy season.
CAITLIN: So, then, moving on to Pretty Boy Detective Club.
CAITLIN: I have it under my name on the sheet as “Get It Together, Funimation!” because the Roku app still doesn’t have subtitles on episode 2.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, wow!
PETER: Oh my God.
CAITLIN: And you might be sitting at home saying, “Why don’t you just watch it on another app, Caitlin?” I’m like, “Well, because I go, I check Pretty Boy Detective Club, I see the subtitles haven’t been fixed, and then I watch another thing I’m behind on, because I’m always behind!” So, I want to watch more of it, but Funimation won’t fucking get it together. This is a callout. Get it together, Funimation.
PETER: Or else.
CAITLIN: Or else I won’t watch this anime that I wanna watch! But Peter and Mercedez, you are both watching it, this says.
CAITLIN: How’s it going?
MERCEDEZ: I like it. I like it a lot. It is a bit like a cake with fondant and sugar sculpture and no cake inside to some degree.
MERCEDEZ: But that’s a cake I’ll eat. Just really wish we could stop talking about the child’s legs for like five seconds, please.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh yeah, I hate that.
MERCEDEZ: Could we stop? Please, I’m begging you.
PETER: I hate the whole… They’re always waxing philosophic about keeping their youthful vigor and shit like that, and I’m like, “You’re 12.” [Chuckles] “I don’t think you have any concept of what it’s like to lose your childlike optimism or, I don’t know, your boyishness.” It seems so weird that that is a concern for them when they’re 12.
MERCEDEZ: They’re 12 but they’re rich, and maybe when you’re rich time just works differently. For all we know, these children could be 10,000 years old. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Some of— [Chuckles] Like Hatoko! [Laughs]
MERCEDEZ: Like Hatoko, yeah. Yeah, like these 10,000-year-old rich children who go to the fanciest school Japan can offer talking about Voltaire. Like, child!
MERCEDEZ: Child, please!
CAITLIN: I mean, having worked with some third-year middle schoolers, a lot of them do get pretty cynical pretty early.
PETER: That’s sad.
CAITLIN: It’s sad. So, what I’ve seen around the internet is that it is a show that has a very easy trans reading. It is unfortunate that we don’t have any actual trans members of the team on this episode. [Chuckles] But tell me more about that, because that has not happened yet, from what I’ve seen.
MERCEDEZ: I really love what it has to actually say about masculinity and, in quotes, “boyhood,” because when it started and it gave the three rules for the Pretty Boy Detective Club, which are, first, be a boy, second, be pretty, third, be a detective… which, love that. It’s very… you know.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Nice and straightforward.
MERCEDEZ: I think the 1 and 2 should be flipped, actually. It’s like “Be pretty, be a boy, be a detective.” It follows the title. I thought Nisio Isin was gonna be like, “You gotta be a cis boy, because that’s all I care about.” And, it turns out, being a boy is what’s in your heart, which… Okay, I’ll take it. I love it.
And Mayumi pretty quickly just dresses masculine. That’s just how she comes to school. And in that case, Mayumi is presenting as a boy, and it’s great, and we love it. And there are times Mayumi presents as a girl. But when they go to the casino, Mayumi’s presenting as a boy, and it’s never questioned, because Mayumi’s part of the Pretty Boy Detective Club. And it’s just great. Claps to Nisio Isin for that, because he could’ve fumbled it, and he might still.
PETER: [Chuckles] Yeah, it’s not too late.
MERCEDEZ: It’s never too late.
CAITLIN: Yep. Not until the final credits roll.
MERCEDEZ: It feels good, though. It feels quite genuine, so I’ll take it.
CAITLIN: All right. And then I accidentally jumped over Those Snow White Notes, which I like to describe as kinda like if Your Lie in April didn’t have Manic Pixie Dead Girl.
MERCEDEZ: [aghast] She’s dead?
MERCEDEZ: What?! [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Sorry. Sorry for spoiling a nine-year-old series.
PETER: We were in the call early, and we were just talking about shows, and I don’t know why, but we kept mentioning character deaths for some reason, and every time, Mercedez was surprised, like Jiraiya…
MERCEDEZ: I did not know that Frog Grandpa died.
CAITLIN: Oh, no! I didn’t know that either!
MERCEDEZ: Oh, well, now you know.
PETER: [crosstalk] What the heck? How does nobody know? Okay, well, I’m sorry. Spoilers, by the way.
CAITLIN: It’s okay! I don’t care about Naruto.
PETER: But yeah, Your Lie in April’s pretty much about the girl dying.
CAITLIN: Yeah. So, Those Snow White Notes has a lot of similar themes, except that nobody is going to die for the sake of the male character, except for his grandfather, who’s already dead, so…
MERCEDEZ: Oh, well, that’s okay. Ooh, that might’ve come off quite callous, but that’s okay. Is that the one with shamisen?
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Why am I not watching it, as a shamisen player? This is the same way I felt about Kono Oto Tomare.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I don’t know, because it’s really good!
PETER: I don’t know.
MERCEDEZ: Okay. Got it.
PETER: Actually, it kicks ass. The music especially is so good. You know how shows like sports anime and interest anime are always kind of about getting more people interested in the medium or the subject of the show? This series knocks it out of the park.
I was like, “Yeah, I like the Yoshida Brothers. They’re cool.” But I didn’t have any strong feelings about the samisen [sic]. And then this show, the sequences… They really let the instruments speak for themselves, and I’m like, “Wow, samisens kick ass. This music is so good.”
MERCEDEZ: I guess this has gotta go on the watchlist, because I missed the koto anime when that came out even though I play koto, so I gotta get on my shamisen.
PETER: Also, the OP is by the Burnout Syndromes, with a samisen in it.
CAITLIN: No, they changed it!
PETER: Yeah, yeah. The second one, I don’t know what the hell they’re doing. But the first one was Burnout Syndromes with samisen. And then the ending is Yoshida Brothers. The opening and ED are very good.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I don’t know why they changed the opening, because it was so good.
PETER: [crosstalk] Very good. Yeah.
CAITLIN: [Chuckles] The shamisen going so hard. And now the new one is just nothing. It’s just a generic J-rock song.
MERCEDEZ: Who knows, right?
CAITLIN: It’s fine, but it’s not like super good.
And I like the characters in Those Snow White Notes. It’s definitely a very melodramatic show; a lot of characters giving really impassioned speeches. But it is very sincere. I like the club members. I like the dynamic that’s forming. For some reason I can’t remember anyone’s names in this series.
PETER: Yeah, same. [Laughs]
CAITLIN: So, the main boy is trying to teach them all shamisen and he’s a really bad teacher.
PETER: Yep. Of course.
CAITLIN: And… what it has to say about the relationship between people and their music. And they talk so much about finding your own sound and what that means.
PETER: How do you feel about Umeko?
CAITLIN: I mean, she doesn’t seem like a good mom.
PETER: [Laughs] All right. Yeah, I feel like she is not great at being a present mother figure, but I do appreciate that she’s, in her own way, trying to mastermind a way to make sure her son flourishes in what he’s good at, kind of out of a family pride thing, but also just because she’s like, “He’s talented and he is going to succeed, even if I have to drag him all the way to success.”
CAITLIN: She’s a very powerful lady, and I appreciate that.
PETER: What an introduction to the show.
CAITLIN: Yeah, just knocking down her runaway son’s door.
PETER: Hired two spec ops guy to knock down his door and flashbang the room, so she could make a dramatic entrance.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, wow. Okay, yeah, gotta watch this, then.
PETER: Yeah, it’s an entrance.
CAITLIN: Now, I have a question, though.
CAITLIN: In the newest episode, they say that horsing around together naked is a guy thing.
CAITLIN: Is this true, Peter?
PETER: Oh, yeah, I thought that was so funny because I’m like, “Isn’t this what guys usually assume girls do in the bath?” I can say, just from my onsen experience, no. I’ve never been to a bathhouse where any of that shit went down.
PETER: So, sorry. I don’t think anybody does it.
MERCEDEZ: I was gonna say, my image of guys at a bathhouse is just a bunch of men sitting in hot soup water, just chilling out. [Chuckles]
PETER: Yes, that’s pretty accurate, yeah.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Old men.
MERCEDEZ: Just chilling and probably not making eye contact, because you’re enjoying the onsen for yourself.
CAITLIN: Maybe sneaking peeks at each other’s junk.
PETER: Wow. Okay.
CAITLIN: Just out of curiosity… That’s what I’ve heard is that guys all… they’re just like…
CAITLIN: I’m sorry.
PETER: Trying to take a measure of where they stand in the group or something, you mean?
PETER: Official power ranking?
MERCEDEZ: [through laughter] Oh my God!
CAITLIN: Yeah, that. Basically, yeah, that. That’s a good way to put it. [Laughs]
PETER: All right, well, if that’s going down, it went completely over my head, so…
CAITLIN: Let’s move on. We really can’t… We need to put that down.
MERCEDEZ: Oh my God.
CAITLIN: But Osamake, you are watching, Peter. Is there anything interesting going on with that one?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, tell us about it.
PETER: Main character’s a child actor. Something traumatic happened and he quit. I think the whole, what’s it called, Osamake: Romcom Where a Childhood Friend Won’t Lose… It turns out that all of the love prospects are his childhood friend, so I think that’s what it means. No matter who he gets with, it’s going to be a childhood friend.
It is very… I don’t know. All of the backstories with all of them are pretty wild. It’s Doga Kobo, so I’m waiting for the whole thing to fall off a cliff at any moment, but so far, it’s been pretty entertaining.
CAITLIN: The animation is rough for Doga Kobo, though.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, I’ve been thinking it’s not been up to usual… There’s not smears everywhere like you usually expect from Doga Kobo, right?
I don’t know if I have too much of an opinion yet. I did appreciate there was the big scene where he confesses his love for one of them, and then she rejects him, and the other girl got rejected because she was just present and then the other romantic interest, right?
And then, the next episode started with all of them staying home from school and screaming into their pillows over how they could never face the public again because all of them got rejected in some way, which I felt that really hit. I thought that was a good scene. So, we’ll see if it can keep that energy or really gets into some awful romcom tropes.
CAITLIN: All right.
PETER: It’s Doga Kobo, though, so…
CAITLIN: Yeah. We’ll check in at the end of the season, then. How about Mars Red?
PETER: [strained] Uh…
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] That’s always a way to start.
PETER: I don’t know. I don’t really have much of an opinion on the show. Honestly, I really find myself looking at my phone a lot while I’m watching this. I feel like Dee and Vrai really like it, so I don’t really want to trash-talk it. I just don’t know what the appeal is, and it feels like nothing is happening. It’s trying to do worldbuilding or something, but I don’t think I’m really getting a better understanding of the world.
And just some sad things happen… Like, one of the guys meets a sex worker, and I’m like, “Oh, she’s gonna die.” [Chuckles] He meets a sex worker, and they have a nice conversation, so she’s gonna die. And then she dies. [Chuckles]
I don’t know. I don’t know where the story is trying to go. They are vampire hunters. There are vampires. Maybe there is a big, evil singular vampire, but I don’t know what the show is doing, to be honest. I’m sorry if this is super brutal, but…
MERCEDEZ: Sometimes that’s just what it is.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I mean, I’m not upset. All right, and then, up next we have Higehiro, which…
MERCEDEZ: Caitlin, why are we still watching this? Why are we still watching this? Why?
PETER: [crosstalk] Wow! Both of you are watching it and I’m not?
MERCEDEZ: Wow. Why?
CAITLIN: I feel like—
MERCEDEZ: Why are we still watching this? [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: I feel like I am just constantly being kept off balance by it.
CAITLIN: I feel like I’m being teased, like “Oh! Oh! I’m gonna be bad. I’m gonna do a bad thing.” I’m like, “Don’t do the bad thing.” And they’re like, “Nope! Didn’t do the bad thing, but I might do it later! And now I’m gonna do a good thing.” And I’m just like, “Urgh!”
MERCEDEZ: Yoshida has all of the makings of a really good guardian or good uncle, but this show viciously wants them to do it. And I’m just like, “Please don’t!” [Chuckles] “Please don’t do this to me. She’s a child! Please don’t. Stop, no!” I hate it! And yet, much like Nagatoro, I cannot stop myself, and I don’t know why!
CAITLIN: I feel like they throw in just enough goodness in each episode.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. It’s like Horny Yahtzee, the roll of the dice every time. I don’t know how it’s gonna come up.
CAITLIN: I feel like you can buy Horny Yahtzee at the store.
MERCEDEZ: You probably can.
PETER: My impression—I think I watched the first two episodes or something—was that the main character, he’s a good guy and he would absolutely not do anything bad. In fact, he seems to be doing all the right things. But the show doesn’t know what the right thing is, because it’s constantly… with the camera angles and stuff, so the people making the show assume they’re gonna get together from the outset, even if the story is like, “Oh, no, that would never happen! Aren’t you reading?” That kind of thing.
CAITLIN: Right, and meanwhile, it has developed a harem element. Called it. Because all the girls are in love with him.
PETER: Of course.
MERCEDEZ: This incredibly average 20-something-year-old man.
CAITLIN: Yeah, I saw the opening theme song, and I’m like, “Oh, this has got harem written all over it.” But yeah, he is a genuinely nice guy.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah! But the show… The show wants them to.
CAITLIN: I think he really wants to do the right thing by Sayu.
CAITLIN: And I do feel like the story’s going to end with them getting together, which will make me upset, and I can see it coming. I can see that cliff coming up ahead, and I just keep going!
MERCEDEZ: I’m worried that the show is actually too smart for its own good. And I’ve heard that bandied about. I haven’t read the novel, because it’s not legally available in English, and also, I just don’t want to mess up my Japanese by reading something that might harm me.
MERCEDEZ: But from my understanding, I’ve been told by people that seem to want to defend it—which, nothing wrong, I understand liking stuff—that it actually is too smart for its own good sometimes and that it thinks it’s subverting things, but it sometimes plays them a little too straight. Which makes me very worried, like I said, for this game of Horny Yahtzee wherein a 20-something-year-old man may be continually propositioned by a high school girl who clearly has sexual trauma and just needs a therapist and a hug from an adult who has set boundaries.
And so, who knows where episode 12 will bring us once we get there? We’ve still got six whole weeks left. Who knows what could happen?
CAITLIN: Because it really understands that treating this as a sexy, sexy situation is really messed up, because Sayu is vulnerable, she is traumatized, she’s incapable of consenting to a sexual relationship with Yoshida in so many ways. And I really, really like the scene with Gotou where they had Yoshida basically leave for a few minutes, and at first I thought Gotou was gonna be like, “What are you doing? Get away from him.” But then it turned into a conversation where she’s like, “Do you feel safe? Do you really feel comfortable in this situation?”
MERCEDEZ: And Sayu at some point, she jumps to the wrong conclusion and thinks she’s gonna get kicked out. I think that’s episode 4 when that happens. That doesn’t happen. And this is a child who has deeply been clearly hurt, and I commend the show actually for showing this is a teenage girl for whom sex has been used against her. It never comes out and says that outright. There’s never a moment where Sayu says, “I was sexually abused.” But it’s very clear. You can read that clearly—
CAITLIN: I mean, that one sex scene was very, very uncomfortable.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Yeah.
CAITLIN: You could see that she was not having a good time.
MERCEDEZ: It wasn’t great. And I actually commend the show for talking about that, because in real life that is a big thing going in Japan right now, dealing with the sexual trafficking of young girls, especially teenage girls, and the harm that’s done to their bodies. So I’m actually quite glad that the show is taking an angle of “This is not a good thing to happen to a young girl, especially a child”—because teenagers are children, right?
But it is weird that there is just this simmering sexual tension, and I don’t want it. [Chuckles] I don’t want it. I don’t want it. Caitlin, why are we watching? [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Because we want to hope! Because—
MERCEDEZ: And I do. I do.
CAITLIN: [begins to speak, falls into chuckling]
MERCEDEZ: I so desperately want to hope.
CAITLIN: Because like Makoto Naegi at the end of Danganronpa, we refuse to give in to despair.
MERCEDEZ: No, absolutely. Not gonna give in to despair. I do think it’s gonna come out realistically. I do think it’s actually gonna come out… good. Why did I have an ellipsis after that? Good. Firm.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] [Chuckles] You know why.
MERCEDEZ: Let’s make it firm. It’s good. It’ll come out good.
CAITLIN: We just were sitting there hoping that it’ll make the right choices.
CAITLIN: All right, let’s move on. Peter, you’re watching Combatants Will Be Dispatched, which I watched the first episode of and found it very mean.
PETER: Yeah. It’s basically like if you ever wondered how KonoSuba would be if it didn’t have its ace production team working on the anime, I think now we know. I did learn—I just want to throw this out there—that apparently this was the first work by the KonoSuba author before he did KonoSuba, and he was hiding it or something.
MERCEDEZ: This is the KonoSuba guy?
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Oh, that explains a lot.
PETER: But then Nagatsuki, the Re:Zero guy, I guess he and the KonoSuba guy are friends, and it came up that he’d written this thing before, and I guess he encouraged him or told the guys working at the publication company that he had this other book in the wings, which eventually made this become public, so that’s why it was released after KonoSuba.
That explains a lot to me because… I personally enjoy KonoSuba, even though, yeah, it’s very mean. But this one is more mean, less funny, and much rougher round the edges. And I thought maybe KonoSuba was just a flash in the pan, but I think maybe he just got a bit better at what he’s doing. So, that explained a lot to me.
MERCEDEZ: I feel like, knowing that, the message of this show, at least from episode 1, to me was “Your friends should not encourage everything you write to get published.”
PETER: [Chuckles] That, yeah, true. It would’ve been great if this one never saw the light of day, I think. I’m not really enjoying it, to be honest.
PETER: I’ve got a lot of anime that I’m considering dropping this season, which is pretty unusual for me, and I think this is one of the ones at the top of my list, to be honest.
CAITLIN: That’s it for Yellow Flags. Now, everything from here on is perfect, right?
MERCEDEZ: I mean, this next one we’re about to talk about is perfect. Absolutely. 100%.
CAITLIN: That would be Super Cub.
MERCEDEZ: Yes! Can do no wrong.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] [Chuckles] Tell us about Super Cub.
MERCEDEZ: It is— Whew! It is so good! So, first of all, excellent motorbike propaganda. I now need to ride in the rustic, rural Japanese countryside. But it’s just a really thoughtful show about a girl coping with her depression and figuring out ways to find usable hours in her day and open up her world and move through the trauma that is depression.
It’s really, really heartfelt. It’s beautifully scored. At times it’s just breathtakingly gorgeous animation. There’s a lot of use of atmospheric sounds that I really like that accent just how lonely Koguma, our main lead, is. A lot of the sounds around her are piano and flute and nature sounds. And it’s just really, really…
Granted, I know it’s not going to be for everyone. I know not everyone likes slice of life, but it is maybe one of the most thoughtful slice-of-life series I have ever had the honor of watching—and reviewing. And I just really love it. I really, really love it. It makes me cry every episode.
MERCEDEZ: It’s really good. [Chuckles] Like, protect this child. It’s so good. And she has a friend now! And her friend is also lonely. Because I think being a teenager is a very lonely thing, realistically, I think. It’s a very difficult, liminal stage to be in, and I like that this is a show that doesn’t beat around the bush with, yeah, sometimes being a teenager is very depressing. But there is always a way through. It’s a very deeply optimistic show. It’s also pretty. Yeah.
CAITLIN: That’s nice. Yeah, I felt like I wasn’t going to get into it, because I’m kind of iffy on slice of life to begin with and I just am not interested in bikes—or motorcycles, I should say. Bicycles I like.
MERCEDEZ: Definitely, it is not for everybody, and that’s fair, but I think it’s really, really something special. And I’m just gonna say it: it’s the top anime of this season.
PETER: On a scale of 1 to Laid-Back Camp, how slice of life is it?
MERCEDEZ: Oh, it’s full Laid-Back Camp.
PETER: 10 out of 10?
MERCEDEZ: 10 out of 10. We watch her cook meals. We go with her on bike rides. We go with her to the home goods store, to Japanese Lowe’s and Home Depots. It’s good! It’s Laid-Back Camp but on bikes.
PETER: Maybe I’ll drop Mars Red and Combatants and I’ll just watch the Super Cub anime.
MERCEDEZ: It’s good stuff.
CAITLIN: All right, so the next one, I’m very much enjoying. Peter, join me in talking about SSSS.DYNAZENON—
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] What is this about?
CAITLIN: —which just dropped something awesome in this last episode. Very exciting development.
PETER: I think it’s hard to say what it’s about. It’s an anime about tokusatsu, I guess.
CAITLIN: So, Mercedez, are you familiar with SSSS.GRIDMAN?
MERCEDEZ: No. [Laughs]
CAITLIN: Okay, well, this is the follow-up to Gridman.
PETER: There’s this guy at TRIGGER named Akira Amemiya who really loves tokusatsu, and this is just his love letter to tokusatsu, part two.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, that’s nice.
CAITLIN: So, the way that, honestly, I like to put it, because I’m not a big tokusatsu person—
CAITLIN: —but I love Gridman and I’m loving Dynazenon because it’s just got such a distinct directional voice. It is in a lot of ways—and I’m not the only one saying this—it reminds me a lot of Evangelion but less depressing. But in the sound design and the atmosphere, it’s got a very, very strongly Evangelion feeling.
CAITLIN: Yeah, no, it’s a really hard series to describe, because it is very unusual. And I loved Gridman except that it had some real issues with fanservice, which ended up resolving, but there was an episode where they go on a field trip to a beach of some sort that had some unpleasant amount of gratuitous titty shots.
So, here’s the thing: Dynazenon also just had a swimsuit episode, where they go to a water park, and there was no gratuitous titty.
CAITLIN: Dynazenon has almost no fanservice. This last episode had some shots of the lady Kaiju Eugenicist Mujina’s thighs, but it was very understated, and she’s got pretty nice legs. [Chuckles] Nope, that’s… So, I’m really, really enjoying Dynazenon.
MERCEDEZ: Well, hey, that sounds good.
CAITLIN: I think having a larger ensemble cast that is all controlling the robot has been a really interesting contrast.
MERCEDEZ: Wait a minute. So, they all control a robot? [Chuckles] Is it like Voltron?
PETER: Yeah, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, okay, okay, okay, okay. Okay.
CAITLIN: They all have a different piece that they control, and then they can combine to fight kaiju.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, so it’s like Pacific Rim.
PETER: Uh, I think Voltron would… Is Voltron the one where it’s different types of vehicles? No, that’s the one where they’re all lions, right?
CAITLIN: Voltron, they’re all tigers. Lions?
PETER: Yeah, I think it’s lions. Which is the one where it’s a boat and a plane and a car and a T-Rex? [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Power Rangers? Oh, God. [Chuckles]
PETER: Power Rangers, they were all dinosaurs.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, I don’t—
PETER: There was one dinosaur, but the rest are cars or vehicles or some sort.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] The point is that they all combine.
CAITLIN: [Chuckles] But it’s also very, very strongly character based.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, nice.
CAITLIN: Mostly teenagers, but there is Gauma and Koyomi. Peter, did you know how old Koyomi is?
PETER: Is that the guy with the hair in front of his eyes?
PETER: I knew he was an adult, but I don’t know how old he is.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I looked it up. He’s 33.
PETER: Jesus Christ. Wow.
PETER: Who is this girl hanging out with him, this middle schooler…?
CAITLIN: That’s his cousin!
PETER: Okay. And both of them are hikikomori?
CAITLIN: What I really love about Koyomi’s design is that they really sell that it’s not just that he has a haircut, but that he just hasn’t had a haircut in a while. They really express that very well with how it curls out at the bottom.
But yeah, all of the character stuff has been really great. I’m really, really enjoying it. Do you have anything to say about it, Peter?
PETER: I can say I was really into Gridman, and this one is not grabbing me in the same way.
CAITLIN: Oh, because it doesn’t have fanservice?
PETER: [deadpan mumbling] Yeah, that’s the reason.
MERCEDEZ: [through laughter] Oh my God!
PETER: There was this air of mystery in Gridman about what’s happening that really pulled me in, and I think the action sequences I liked better as well. This one, I’m just not sure what it’s trying to do yet. I remember the hook for Gridman came super early with… God, I can’t remember the purple-haired girl’s name.
PETER: Akane, yeah, where you’re like “What’s up with…?” And there this “She’s a friend, but also their enemy” type thing. This one… I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. Gridman was really good, same team… But I’m just wondering when or if the other shoe is gonna drop and we’re gonna find out what’s going on.
CAITLIN: Right. I’m choosing to trust it because Gridman was so spectacular. And yes, I do feel like now that we’ve had Gridman and Gridman just did so much stuff, it threw so many things that you didn’t expect, that now that Dynazenon is having this similar atmosphere, it feels a little bit less unexpected.
PETER: Yeah. If Gridman hadn’t happened before Dynazenon, I’m not sure what I’d think of the show.
CAITLIN: Right. But I’m still feeling it. The character writing is really charming. And yeah, I agree the kaiju battles aren’t as good, but that’s not the primary thing that I’m watching it for.
PETER: Oh yeah, it’s definitely got a lot of good points. I do like the characters. I just think that, one, the action sequences and, two, the plot has not pulled me in in the same way that Gridman did. But again, this is post-Gridman, and so that could change. And I’m sticking with it. I’m just wondering what they’re trying to do this time around.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I think it’s gonna do something interesting, and I’m not gonna spoil it, but the thing that happened at the end of the latest episode got me very excited.
PETER: Okay. I think I’m one behind, so I guess I’ll have to check it out.
CAITLIN: It is not a callback, but a direct connection.
PETER: Oh, okay, because they said it takes place in the same world, so I was like, “Akane’s head?” [Chuckles] But I guess I’ll find out.
CAITLIN: Yeah, we’ll find out.
Speaking of mystery box shows… Shadows House.
PETER: Love it.
CAITLIN: Which is one of the best shows of the season. Another show that Mercedez is missing out on!
MERCEDEZ: I’m so busy. I just finished editing a very big video game.
MERCEDEZ: I am so tired. [Chuckles] Don’t you drag me like this, Caitlin?
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I kid! No…
MERCEDEZ: Lay off. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Mercedez, I want you to take as much rest as you need and also as much as you want.
MERCEDEZ: Yes. And I’m about to move internationally, again. [Chuckles] Like, ugh!
CAITLIN: Yeah. Well, Shadows House is excellent.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] What’s it about? Tell me about this show.
CAITLIN: So, Shadows House has been about a house of—
CAITLIN: —a family of Shadows who have these Living Dolls, who—
MERCEDEZ: Oh, oh! I don’t like dolls. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Oh, no, they’re not like dolls. …These Living Dolls, who I’m pretty sure are just brainwashed humans—that seems to be the popular theory—who basically function in private as their maids and then when they’re out in public as their faces.
CAITLIN: The Shadows don’t have any facial expressions, so their Living Dolls show their facial expressions. And there is definitely something rotten in the state of Shadows House going on.
MERCEDEZ: Okay, so now that’s intriguing.
CAITLIN: Yeah. Apparently, a lot of stuff happened in the most recent episode, which I haven’t watched yet.
PETER: I think this is my favorite anime on Funimation this season.
CAITLIN: It’s definitely up there.
PETER: By far. As the resident Shaft liker, I’d say I kinda wished they’d got their hands on this show, since Shaft fucking loves shadow puppets and half the cast of this show are living, breathing shadow puppets. And by that I mean, Mercedez, they are pitch black human beings. You can’t make out any of their features. They’re just an outline of a human with…
CAITLIN: It’s like a silhouette painting.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] That’s cool.
CAITLIN: Or not painting, but you know what I mean.
MERCEDEZ: I feel like—
PETER: Their servants act as their faces because you can’t see facial expressions, because they’re just an outline.
MERCEDEZ: I feel like what this is becoming is propaganda to get me to watch Shadows House, which, okay, okay, it’s working. [Chuckles] It’s working.
PETER: And when the Shadows get pissed off, they emit soot that can turn into monsters, so obviously these…
CAITLIN: Very Miyazaki, too. Very Miyazaki-like.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, that’s true. Actually, yeah, it’s like a really fucked-up Spirited Away.
MERCEDEZ: Okay, more propaganda to get me to watch this, okay.
PETER: Yeah, I thought you’d like that.
MERCEDEZ: I feel directly targeted. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: It’s just the honest truth, Mercedez.
PETER: It’s such an interesting show. There’s so many levels to how weird and fucked up it is. First of all, these servants are definitely brainwashed humans. And they have to act as the faces. They have to stand next to the Shadow and make expressions for them so that people know what their emotional experience is, which is messed up. And they have to clean all the house of all these monsters, these soot beasts and stuff.
And you’re wondering, what are the nobles, even? Are they people who messed with the dark arts or alchemy and became this way? Are they demons? Why are they pitch black?
CAITLIN: There’s this very sinister Debut thing.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Well, they definitely drink poison, and that’s how they become the Dolls.
MERCEDEZ: God, this show sounds so cool! It sounds so cool!
CAITLIN: There’s the voiceless Dolls. There’s so much stuff going on that we do not understand. And the main characters are so charming. Emilico and Kate, and also all of the Living Dolls.
MERCEDEZ: Well, looks like I’ll be adding that to my watchlist.
PETER: Good. It’s very good. It’s a little on the cutesy, which, again, I think was maybe a studio decision, but…
CAITLIN: But it’s cutesy but also sinister.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Cute stuff can definitely—
CAITLIN: Which really works for me.
PETER: Yeah, what do you call it? It can really elevate horror if everybody’s really innocent-looking and stuff.
CAITLIN: The characters are all named after characters from horror movies, Vrai noticed, which I would not have noticed because I don’t really watch horror movies. [Correction: Dee noticed it; Vrai helped connect the names to the media.]
CAITLIN: I think the thing that really, really clinched them being brainwashed humans for me was when Emilico was saying that they have different abilities when they wake up. One of them was able to read, and she wasn’t. So, it’s like, oh, that just means that in their life before they became Dolls, one was taught to read and one wasn’t.
PETER: Yeah. She learned how to read and then was turned into a Living Doll.
CAITLIN: So, yeah, there’s a lot of mysteries that I’m looking forward to learning more about. Just really pretty. Both themes, bangers. Great opening. Great ending. I love how the ending synchronizes with the sound and the image. Yeah, Shadows House is definitely one of the top shows of the season.
Let’s see. No one is watching Seven Knights Revolution. No one is watching Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent because it’s boring. Killing Slimes for 300 Years. Vrai is feeling salty about this one.
MERCEDEZ: I can’t tell if I like it or not. I think I do, but I think I don’t.
CAITLIN: Okay, so, you should drop this. You should drop this and watch Shadows House instead.
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] Oh my God. I love the notion of being reincarnated and just choosing to do absolutely nothing and then getting swept into not being able to chill to the max because you’ve got your little found family. But I do not like the busty elf. [Chuckles] I do not like the busty elf at all.
CAITLIN: Why don’t you like the busty elf?
MERCEDEZ: Because Halkara is just… Ah, geez. She enters a room breast-first, and it bothers me because she deserves so much more respect. But she’s just fanservice galore sometimes. And I don’t even think she notices it. She’s just a victim to the isekai. [Chuckles] I don’t like her.
I don’t feel strongly one way or the other about this series. I read the novel a while ago. It’s okay. But that’s just me. It’s okay.
CAITLIN: Any thoughts, Peter?
PETER: I think it’s pretty fun. Definitely agree with all the elf stuff.
MERCEDEZ: She’s just so boobalicious. God! Poor girl.
PETER: I wish Dee was watching it, because I think the main character might be ace rep, because in 320 years she’s had zero interest in getting into a romantic relationship at all. It’s definitely got the homophobic trope where the elf is interested and she’s like, “Get away from me,” but on the other end of that, I just don’t think the main character’s interested in having a relationship with anyone.
MERCEDEZ: I will say that’s the immense appeal of Azusa, is that she is just an ace witch who is immortal and is perfectly happy.
PETER: “I do not want—” And that’s how that sounds. Yeah.
MERCEDEZ: When there’s not the gross “Ew! Halkara’s a lesbian” humor, it’s fine. When they’re not like “Aw, gross, Halkara keeps throwing herself at her,” because that’s gay, when it doesn’t go into that, it’s fine. But it is a shame that that exists. But that’s also in the novel. From my memory, it’s actually worse in the novel, because you’re fully inside of Azusa’s perspective, so…
PETER: Oh, so she’s literally going like, “Gross, a lesbian”?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, pretty much. I don’t know if the word “lesbian” is ever used, but she does the “Gross, I don’t like girls. Gross! Stop.”
CAITLIN: “But we’re both girls.”
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, well… Maybe if they were in a hot spring, it would be different, but in this case she’s just like “Ugh.” But then it’s only with Halkara, which I think is also what bothers me. Maybe it’s just because there’s too much anime, that’s why I have such middle-of-the-road feelings. But I don’t think it’s bad.
CAITLIN: It is time for Backflip!!, which is one of the true delights of the season.
MERCEDEZ: It’s so good. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: I’m going to say, because I’ve truly been enjoying Backflip, it’s not gonna be a super great and memorable sports series.
PETER: Oh yeah. That’s for sure.
CAITLIN: I put it in a tier alongside Gymnastics Samurai, where it is very, very nice and enjoyable and I will look back fondly on it, I’m sure, but: A, it doesn’t seem like a lot of people are watching it, unfortunately…
MERCEDEZ: It’s all right. I’ll keep it alive. I’ll keep it alive.
CAITLIN: And, B, it’s just not going to get a huge amount of attention after the series wraps either way. But it’s okay! That’s fine.
MERCEDEZ: I really like it, in large part because it’s set in Tohoku, which is really great, because… love an anime set in a different region of Japan. I like the bird imagery. I really like that that’s how they describe the movements of feeling like they’re soaring. I do think it’s a shame that no one is going to remember this, maybe even in six weeks, when it stops airing.
CAITLIN: Yeah. You know, people are going to move on after it, and that’s okay. It gives me, actually—maybe it’s just because I’m reading the manga right now—a little bit of Haikyu!! vibes. But the characters are softer around the edges, I would say.
PETER: Oh yeah, they definitely have a Karasuno-versus-Nekomata—the other team—a kind of dynamic where everybody has their parallel on the other team.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Nekoma. Nekomata is a mythological beast.
PETER: No, what are they called? Neko…
PETER: Oh, just Nekoma? Okay, okay. My bad.
CAITLIN: I think. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.
MERCEDEZ: I’ve never read Haikyu, so I don’t know.
PETER: Oh, you’d love it. You would really love it.
CAITLIN: Oh yeah, you would really like it. A lot of sweet boys there.
MERCEDEZ: [Laughs] Yeah, Backflip is good.
PETER: [crosstalk] Just saying, yeah, you would.
MERCEDEZ: I like that you both just were like, “Oh, yeah, Mercedez, this would be up your alley. We know your taste.” Backflip… It’s just good. It’s just good. I love it.
PETER: My general opinion on it is if I really look at the writing, it’s a mediocre, by-the-numbers sports thing, but the direction is really… It’s like a clinic on how direction and good animation can elevate its source material. The characters are surprisingly good, given the writing. In fact, the latest episode, the hide-and-seek one, I felt was unusually good for what we’ve been getting so far.
MERCEDEZ: It was really good.
PETER: Yeah, so, standout episode, for sure. But yeah, it’s pretty typical but well-intentioned, lighthearted, and just fucking gorgeous, ridiculously gorgeous.
CAITLIN: Just beautiful, beautiful. And I just rewatched Skate-Leading Stars for review purposes, and I gotta say, in comparison to Backflip, Skate-Leading Stars looks like absolute fucking trash because at the first episode Backflip threw down the gauntlet, like “We are showing you a full, uninterrupted rhythmic gymnastics routine.” In Skate-Leading Stars, you’re lucky if you get 10 seconds of skating at a time.
So, yeah, it’s good. They’re very sweet boys. I feel like the characterization is on the shallow side.
MERCEDEZ: See, I feel like they’re actually just quite normal people, and that’s actually really nice. As a former high school teacher, these are just the boys I taught [chuckles] at my all-boys school, and it’s great. Love ‘em.
CAITLIN: Yeah. Seeing them goofing around with the other team… I enjoyed the progression from “Oh, shoot! This other person has a very close interest to mine” and then during the hide-and-seek episode, they’re like, “They’re close, but they’re not quite the same.” It’s kind of like finding out that someone else likes anime, and then it’s like “What anime do you watch?” “Oh, I’m really into High School DxD.”
CAITLIN: But yeah, no, it’s a nice show. It’s a nice, relaxing time.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Lots of good boys.
CAITLIN: It is making me a little bit crazy. But yeah, Backflip’s really nice. It’s a good time.
And now it’s time to move forward to The World Ends with You, which I watched, and I was like, “I think I’ll play the game.”
MERCEDEZ: So, I think I’m the only person watching this, other than Lizzie. Here’s the thing: I really like it. I really like it. I have played all the versions of the game.
If you are an anime-only viewer, I don’t know how you feel, but I have to imagine you don’t really like it, because it’s very confusing. It throws a lot of jargon at you. There’s all these characters. It’s very frenetic. It really only slowed down in episode 4. It’s packing an entire dozens-of-hours-long video game, without even talking about the bonus content, into a 12-episode anime, and I just don’t know if that’s great. You know what? Maybe I don’t think that’s great, actually.
I think it’s really enjoyable. It’s subtly different from the game. It’s more in line with the Switch version of the game, which includes some content that links to the sequel coming out this year. But I don’t understand how an anime-only viewer would watch this and be like “Yes, I’m deeply invested in this series” without also being confused. That’s just my feelings on it. Don’t think it’s bad.
CAITLIN: It has the same issues as the Persona games, where there is a narrative but the structure just doesn’t really transfer to a linear…
MERCEDEZ: And I was hoping for more of a Persona 4: The Animation. Persona 4: The Animation is a pretty solid video game adaptation anime. The World Ends with You is trying to compress a game that uses a week cycle into three-episode arcs, and it doesn’t give you enough time to understand why you should care about any of these characters.
CAITLIN: It’s more of a Persona 5 anime adaptation than a Persona 4 anime adaptation.
MERCEDEZ: Which is a shame, because I think a lot of people are gonna to The World Ends with You—to TWEWY—only seeing this anime, and then they’ll go play the game. But I bought the game in ’08 and I’ve played it multiple times, and I invested a lot of my teenage personality into these characters, so I pretty much know what’s going to happen. But if you are someone who’s just coming to it, I’m pretty sure you dropped at episode 2, if you’re an anime-only viewer.
CAITLIN: All right, okay, we gotta keep moving.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I’m keeping it short. That’s all.
CAITLIN: There’s still so many anime!
MERCEDEZ Peter, why do you watch everything, Peter? [Chuckles] God!
PETER: It’s my job.
CAITLIN: [through laughter] It’s literally his job. [Chuckles]
PETER: They pay me the big bucks. [Unintelligible beneath crosstalk]
MERCEDEZ: You got three sentences for everything. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: All right, Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song. I think it’s an interesting show from the creator of Re:Zero. I like how they’re handling the time aspect where she’ll just be working quietly for a while and then Matsumoto will show up and be like, “Hey, guess what? I’m here to ruin your day again!”
PETER: “Matsumoto has entered the chat.”
CAITLIN: Matsumoto’s voice actor is also doing a great job. He seems like he’s having so much fun. I don’t know how much there is to say about Vivy except that it is doing what it’s doing and it’s doing it well. I haven’t felt surprised by it at any point. Yeah, no, it’s good.
PETER: Yeah, I feel like you kinda have to wait until the end to find out what the show’s… I think it’s gonna try to have A.I. politics, and you gotta wait to see if it’s gonna go full Detroit: Become Human or not.
MERCEDEZ: Oh no. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Detroit: Become Human, which is, according to David Cage, Blade Runner but this time you sympathize with the robots, which tells me David Cage does not understand Blade Runner.
MERCEDEZ: And remember. Detroit: Become Human: it’s not political, even if there is a Black Power fist. It’s not political, y’all. God.
CAITLIN: Nope, not political.
MERCEDEZ: [annoyed] David Cage.
CAITLIN: But yeah, no, I don’t have too much to say about Vivy, except that it’s pretty good.
PETER: I won’t know how I feel until it’s over, probably.
CAITLIN: Yeah. To Your Eternity, I am behind on. How’s it going, Peter?
PETER: I’m, like, on volume 10 of the manga, so I have a lot of foresight. I don’t really want to spoil anything since that’s…
CAITLIN: Is it a solid adaptation so far?
PETER: Yeah, actually. The production value is amazing. The transformation animation is wild-looking. They got Utada Hikaru to do the OP somehow. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: I didn’t like it. I’m not into it.
PETER: You don’t like “Pink Blood”?
PETER: I love it. Even in the context of the opening? Or are you just…? I don’t know. Because there’s the song and there’s the opening.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I’ve never really liked that kind of pop music.
PETER: Phew! Are you telling me that you came onto a public podcast to say, “I do not like Utada Hikaru music”? That’s very—
CAITLIN: I like “Simple and Clean.”
PETER: Okay, okay.
MERCEDEZ: Oh my God, Caitlin!
PETER: Maybe they’ll put their pitchforks away when they hear that. [Chuckles] Pulling it out of the closet…
MERCEDEZ: [reluctantly] I guess I’ll tuck mine back away.
CAITLIN: I’m pretty sure my friend in high school would have murdered me if I didn’t like “Simple and Clean.”
PETER: Mm-hm. That’s the only reason, though. But, uh…
PETER: I have a weird time talking about To Your Eternity because I think it is an amazing story. I remember Jacob Chapman reviewed the first volume and said Oima, after doing A Silent Voice and then just reading the first volume of To Your Eternity, must be some sort of generational genius or something.
This story is pretty wild. It’s just super tough because it is very sad. So, if you’re down for that, it’s a pretty crazy journey; very high concept.
CAITLIN: I cried a whole bunch in the first episode.
PETER: You haven’t seen nothing yet.
CAITLIN: Oh, man! Oh, man! That first episode was really tough.
PETER: Yeah, literally doesn’t even clock anymore after stuff that happens later. You gotta really gird yourself for this.
CAITLIN: Oh, God.
PETER: Mm-hm. But I think it’s worth it. That said, I did— Well, I was reading it digitally, and that’s harder to keep up with. I might start buying the physical volumes now that it comes out. I’ll see how I feel. I was gonna say it’s worth it, but I also stopped reading it after a while. Maybe just read it when you feel safe. I don’t know.
CAITLIN: Don’t read it on the bus.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But the anime is definitely doing justice to the manga.
CAITLIN: That’s good. All right: ODDTAXI.
PETER: Love it.
CAITLIN: OddTaxi has been really, really great so far. It’s definitely another mystery box show. There’s so much happening. There are so many different moving pieces that I’m so excited to see how they come together.
PETER: Yep. Same.
CAITLIN: I love the dialogue. The dialogue is so well-written.
PETER: Very snappy.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I feel like a lot of anime has kind of perfunctory dialogue, and the dialogue in Odd Taxi is just really, yeah, snappy, almost naturalistic at times. And yeah, no, it’s really cool.
So, are you guys joining me on the theory that Odokawa is hallucinating everyone being animals?
PETER: What? I have not heard that theory.
CAITLIN: Oh, no?
PETER: No. I have not. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: I’m pretty sure he is just hallucinating that.
PETER: I would be surprised if that happens. I’ll say that. I don’t know. My prediction is that the missing girl is in Odokawa’s closet.
MERCEDEZ: I know so little about OddTaxi. I need to watch something.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] There’s something going on with that.
MERCEDEZ: I need to watch something about it, because it sounds like there’s a lot going on right then.
PETER: Oh yeah, it’s good.
CAITLIN: It’s a pretty wild show.
PETER: Is it Steve that said it’s like if the Coen Brothers made a furry anime?
PETER: I think that was him.
CAITLIN: Yeah. That sounds about right. All right, and then Joran.
MERCEDEZ: Can I offer up my spicy hot take?
PETER: Oh, please, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: I don’t think I like it.
PETER: Oh, God. Never mind.
MERCEDEZ: I don’t think I like it.
PETER: [Chuckles] Mm.
PETER: All right, well, we’ll respectfully disagree.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Peter’s like, “I don’t know if we can be friends anymore.”
PETER: I mean, I kinda get it. It’s so fast and twisty that it’s like: what is this show even doing? It’s so wild and at 100% speed at all times, I could definitely see you just going like, “What is this show even trying to do, other than fit 24 episodes into 12?” So, I get it.
I kind of appreciate that it’s turned up to the max. I think Joran has some interesting idea, at least for its late game, that it’s really trying to get to. And it’s just so wild and flamboyant. It’s doing steampunk, but it doesn’t suck like most steampunk does.
MERCEDEZ: I will say—and this is such a weird connection in a weird way to connect it—it reminded me of Yasuke, in the sense of it’s interesting to see an alternative Japan where they’re harnessing some kind of science-fiction/fantasy element into it that allows society to function a little bit differently. Because this is still very much so Japan of the 20th century, but it has these really neat worldbuilding elements that I’m into.
But yeah, Joran is just going at 100 miles per hour, and I am but one anime viewer in her late 20s who does not get enough sleep, so my attention span is, I think, not long enough to gather every nugget I need to take me into the next episode.
PETER: Mm-hm. Yeah, I get that. Things are happening in that show all the time, so you can miss a plot twist really quick, because there’s like three to eight per episode. So, I do get it. I understand.
CAITLIN: All right. Fairy Ranmaru, which has so much going on. This one, almost every member of the team is watching, which has not happened since we added all these new people. There’s so much. Oh my God. Just all the fairies and the transformations, and it’s so horny, and…
MERCEDEZ: It really is, though. It’s very… I don’t know who described it as bulge-forward, but it’s very—
CAITLIN: [Laughs] That sounds like maybe something Vrai would say.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I think it was Vrai. It’s very bulge-forward.
PETER: Mine was… I call it Mahou Mike.
MERCEDEZ: My God. Yeah, I do kind of like how messy Fairy Ranmaru is, because I do firmly believe the show is for everyone, but I do believe it’s for the gays, because it’s just wonderful and colorful and it’s a bunch of fairies.
CAITLIN: Bondage imagery and Buddhist…
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Fairy Ranmaru laid all its cards on the table in episode 1. We know what you’re about. We all saw that ending. We know what you’re about. There’s no secret.
I don’t think it’s perfect at everything. It certainly has made some missteps, but it is kinda nice to just see a show be messy and proud about that.
CAITLIN: Yeah, like the one with the actor boyfriend, where at the end it’s like, “Aha! He’s gay!” It’s like, did they turn him gay? Was he always gay, but a user and closeted?
MERCEDEZ: It felt real bad because the implication of “Okay, he has a girlfriend who is his beard…” That’s not great, because then you forcibly have outed him. But then the other implication of “This is just a prank” is still bad. [Chuckles] It’s not great, Fairy Ranmaru.
PETER: Just a prank.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, Fairy shouldn’t be homophobic. [Chuckles]
PETER: Yeah, it’s definitely like, I don’t think they fully grasp all the… I guess “messy” is the best way to put it. But it feels well-intentioned, and also, they’re reaching so high, it would be really impossible to nail it every time, right?
CAITLIN: Yeah, and then last episode we had Takara, the fairy who fucks.
CAITLIN: And Vrai brought this up in our Slack. There are some weird race issues going on with that because he has darker skin when he is transformed. He also grunts a lot more. I don’t think they talk a lot in their fairy forms in general, though. They mostly just get the battle done and then move on, but… yeah.
MERCEDEZ: But they do talk a lot. They sing an entire song. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: Yeah, no, that’s true.
MERCEDEZ: Unless it’s in their head.
CAITLIN: I honestly don’t know.
MERCEDEZ: They’re having an idol concert as they run around, bulge-tastically saving people.
CAITLIN: Bulge forward.
PETER: I got it the first episode, where he kisses the girl, which initiates a magical girl transformation sequence. I was like, “Okay, this is pretty lit.” And then it immediately launches from the transformation sequence into a musical sequence, and I’m like, “What the fuck is happening?” And then…
CAITLIN: It’s so great!
PETER: And then he drops in the liminal Madoka Land to have a concept battle with the villain. You’re just like, “Oh my God!”
CAITLIN: I love those Madoka Lands.
PETER: Yeah, it’s good.
MERCEDEZ: It’s good.
CAITLIN: Yeah, and there are episodes that tackle like 30 feminist-relevant issues, like the manga writer who her editor keeps changing her series to moe, and the predatory loans where the girl is literally about to just sell herself into basically sex slavery to pay off a predatory loan, and… Ah! There’s so much going on with it!
MERCEDEZ: It’s messy. But I think it’s actually really refreshing to have a series that is messy, because sometimes creating in and of itself is a messy process.
CAITLIN: Yeah, no, it is messy in a way that I am totally fine with and actually really enjoy. So, yeah, Fairy Ranmaru is good stuff, but there’s just so much going on.
So, let’s move on to 86, which only Peter is watching. I want to watch it, but I just haven’t had time to catch up yet, because I am just barely keeping my head above water—
CAITLIN: —this season. So, Peter, how is that going? I read the first volume of the manga, and I wasn’t super impressed, because there was a lot of mech stuff that was really boring to me. But the stuff with the Eighty-Six and all that seemed interesting but also dangerous.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah. It’s got big Iron-Blooded Orphans vibes. Callum’s given every episode a 5 out of 5, I think. The production’s crazy, because it’s A-1 Pictures. But this seems pretty in their wheelhouse. So, visually it’s really stunning.
It’s really got some great Iron-Blooded Orphans vibes with the young ethnic minority kids in a mercenary troop trying to make their way when all these super rich people are using them as pawns in their big uber-wars. It’s got this really big racial element to the story that I don’t really feel qualified to discuss, but I feel like there’s a lot of room for them to really mess it up, but I think it’s trying to handle it as respectfully as possible so far. So, that’s definitely something to be aware of; watch out for.
It’s about the main character’s recognizing her place of privilege, and after coming to terms with what they’re doing to these people, she isn’t sure what she can or should be doing to help them. Like “How do you change society?” kind of thing. So, I don’t know where they’re going to go with that, but there are a lot of directions that could go.
I really like the 86 cast, and it’s definitely dodged some pretty bad stuff that could happen so far, like with the guys-spying-on-the-girls-taking-a-bath scene. And the dialogue’s very snappy. So, I’d say it’s a really gorgeous production, and it’s very—oh, what’s the word I’m looking for?—it’s very fraught, but interesting so far.
CAITLIN: All right. And then Let’s Make a Mug Too, Mercedez is watching.
MERCEDEZ: Oh my God. I love Mug!
CAITLIN: Let’s try to be a little quick with this one.
MERCEDEZ: The gist is that Let’s Make a Mug is really good. It packs a lot of feel-good content into 14 minutes of animated episode. I really like the live action, because I find it charming to see the four voice actresses just going around Tajimi City doing pottery. That’s real good.
No one is gonna remember this anime, except for me, because it’s what’s going to make me go to this city. But I do think it’s very feel-good, and sometimes you just need feel-good, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
CAITLIN: No, that’s fair. And then Farewell, My Dear Cramer, which is a very charming show with a lot of really great girls, that is tackling some very serious feminist issues about women in sports, and just looks like butt!
MERCEDEZ: Oh, does it look bad?
CAITLIN: Oh, it’s so bad!
PETER: Yeah, so, Liden is making three anime this season. They’re making—
CAITLIN: And they were making like four last season.
PETER: Yeah. Tokyo Revengers, Seven Knights, and Cramer. And I get the feeling Cramer is their tertiary production.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Which is unfortunate.
MERCEDEZ: That’s a shame.
CAITLIN: Yeah, which is unfortunate because it is so much more interesting than… At the very least, no one is watching Seven Knights Revolution.
MERCEDEZ: God, I hate that I had to watch it.
PETER: That one’s promoting a mobile game, though, right? So…
CAITLIN: [disappointed] Oh… Yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Still. [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: But yeah, no, the last episode I found more watchable than previous. They don’t even draw the pleats on the girls’ skirts.
MERCEDEZ: I just looked at a screenshot, and they don’t… It’s just a circle piece of fabric.
PETER: The voice actresses are doing a really good job, too.
CAITLIN: Yeah, Aoi Yuuki… She plays Nozomi, right?
PETER: Is that her name? I forgot.
CAITLIN: The black-haired one.
PETER: No, Aoi Yuuki is the one… the eyebrows, the twintails, the defense player.
CAITLIN: Okay, yeah. Yeah, they’re all performing their hearts out. And I read the prequel, Sayonara, Football, so I already love Nozomi. She’s a great girl, just out there to just fuck the system, out there going, “Row row, fight the power!” Her whole thing in Sayonara, Football is that in the middle of a game, she ties up her brother and then cuts her hair to pretend to be him so that he can play because she’s on a boys’ team. So, she’s great. I love her.
And I am enjoying the new team. They’re really starting to come together. The themes about how girls’ sports get treated like crap compared to boys’ sports are so relevant and so interesting. Their whole thing is [adopts a serious tone] “Well, the future for Japanese women’s soccer…” [Returns to normal voice] ended up being moot because their team started kicking ass shortly after the manga series started.
PETER: Don’t wanna say there’s causation there, but it’s a correlation.
MERCEDEZ: I suppose that’s what kinda makes it a shame, huh, that the animation is not great about this show that kind of has some important messages, it sounds like. Dang!
CAITLIN: No, that’s what’s so frustrating about it.
MERCEDEZ: Dang. Come on, get it together, anime studios.
PETER: It’s some real Anthony Burgess shit, I think, because Naoshi Arakawa—I guess we’ve come full circle—is the author of Your Lie in April, which was a mediocre manga that gets this lavish Aniplex production, that has been remembered [for] like a decade now. And then his categorically superior manga Farewell, My Dear Cramer is the third-string anime by Liden Films. It’s not fair.
MERCEDEZ: I feel bad that Farewell, My Dear Cramer is getting a lower billing than Seven Knights Revolution. Y’all pumped money into the wrong one.
PETER: Yeah, I’m really disappointed.
MERCEDEZ: Because I know a lot of people anticipated this, too.
CAITLIN: You think you’re disappointed! I wanted to cry! I’ve been looking for a good girls’ sports anime for so long!
PETER: I started reading this on Crunchyroll Manga like two years ago, I think, and I was just like, “Wow, I can’t wait for this anime.”
CAITLIN: [Moans, dejected]
PETER: And, yeah, it’s tough. I think the one problem with the manga, actually, was that a lot of the soccer scenes aren’t extremely readable, so you’re not sure which direction the ball’s going and where they are temporally a lot of the time. I just think Arakawa probably hadn’t done too many action manga before then, so that was kind of an issue.
The manga was still great, but I was just like, “I don’t quite understand what happened in this play.” But then the anime, it just does the same thing because it can’t afford to animate the sequence.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] So many speed lines. So many backgrounds that are just speed lines and the characters maybe moving an arm or a leg. The ball just sliding over the grass texture. Ugh, it’s so disappointing. I was on the edge of dropping it, but I did like this last episode, so we’ll see.
And they did a really bad job translating Arakawa’s character designs to animation, which, honestly, he’s not actually that good of an artist. They got these fish lips and cat eyes and…
CAITLIN: But they’re such good girls! And it’s such an important subject. And I don’t want to be too negative because people got mad at me for that.
PETER: Well, they are making the movie, so maybe since that is a feature, it’ll have higher production, so maybe there’s at least a silver lining here.
MERCEDEZ: One can only hope.
PETER: [crosstalk] Holding out hope for the Farewell, My Dear Cramer—I can’t remember what they’re calling it—movie. Oh, First Touch.
CAITLIN: All right. We’ve gone long. Dee is going to yell at me. [Chuckles] But that’s okay because there’s just so many anime, and we’ve talked about all the best ones.
MERCEDEZ: Mm? I don’t think you should say all the best ones. Don’t lie to the people. Some of these are bad! [Chuckles]
CAITLIN: But we talked about the best ones.
PETER: And we did not talk about the bad ones. We just talked about the best ones.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, okay. Okay.
CAITLIN: So, thank you for listening. Thank you for bearing with us for this super-stuffed season.
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MERCEDEZ: Vaccinations are feminist.
CAITLIN: That’s right! We are a pro-vax website.