No use crying over cracked eggs. Vrai, Mercedez, and Alex perform a postmortem on the most potentialful disasterpiece of 2021, Wonder Egg Priority!
Date Recorded: July 1st, 2021
Hosts: Vrai, Mercedez, and Alex
0:03:09 Finale expectations
0:06:57 Production woes
0:19:38 For teenagers or about teenagers?
0:35:35 Trans readings in script vs visual direction
0:41:04 Portrayal of suicide
0:49:24 Frill and the Accas
0:55:37 Only Accas can exposit
1:01:26 The Sawaki conclusion
1:03:46 In the end, was it all worth it?
VRAI: Hey there, AniFam. Just hopping in ahead of the episode to let you know that the discussion for this episode veers into some pretty intense content warnings. So, just as a heads-up, we will be discussing suicide and suicidality, sexual assault, including corrective rape, transphobia, misogyny, self-harm, fatphobia, and predatory men, and rape apologia. So, please, please take care of yourselves. If you’re not up to listening to this now or ever, that’s okay. Take care of yourself.
Hey, so how do you like your eggs?
MERCEDEZ: Well, so, I actually can’t eat eggs, but I do like that sunny-side-up egg in the frying pan emoji.
ALEX: I’ve been really enjoying poached eggs on toast recently.
VRAI: I like them to be full of complex metaphors about trauma that eventually careen into a ditch and implode.
ALEX: Oh! Wow, how do you cook that?
[Intro theme plays]
VRAI: So, we promised you a podcast, listeners at home or readers of the transcript, and damn our eyes, this is the Wonder Egg Priority postmortem, a phrase we haven’t used since Darling in the Franxx came out.
ALEX: Oh, no.
VRAI: The folks that are on the cast today… There is me. I’m Vrai Kaiser. I am the managing content editor and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can find my freelance work on Twitter @WriterVrai, or you can find the podcast where I cohost studies of trashy media @trashpod.
MERCEDEZ: And what’s cracking…
MERCEDEZ: …everyone. My name is Mercedez, and I am a soon-to-be contributing writer: I have a lot of feelings about Super Cub. And I’m also an editor here at Anime Feminist, as well as a freelance journalist for Anime News Network and all-around cool person.
ALEX: That is very true.
MERCEDEZ: You can find me on Twitter @pixelatedlenses, where you can come and harass me about all of the hot takes I’m going to drop in this episode. Come at me, bro.
VRAI: Don’t do that. Be nice to Mercedez. She’s the nice person on staff!
MERCEDEZ: And anyone can access my DMs, so come on in. Ruin my day. I’ll fight back.
ALEX: Oh, no!
VRAI: No! No!
MERCEDEZ: Look, I’ll poach you. I’ll fry you up.
MERCEDEZ: I’ll do it, I swear.
ALEX: And I am Alex. I’m also a contributions editor here at AniFem. And in my other life, I am a PhD candidate getting to the tail end of a thesis about young adult fiction. So you can find me tweeting about a hilarious mix of academia and books and anime @TheAfictionado.
VRAI: I’m going to do my level best to steer this podcast so it is not just about the finale that we are only a couple days out from and feeling very raw about.
MERCEDEZ: And by a couple days, you mean… The finale aired June 30th. [Chuckles] We are a day away. [Chuckles]
VRAI: Yeah. The regrets are fresh.
ALEX: Yeah, this egg is freshly cooked.
VRAI: But I do want to acknowledge, briefly, it existing, and ask the two of you what, before it aired, did you expect or hope for from that extra episode when it was announced?
MERCEDEZ: So I’ll go on and say I expected a finale. I didn’t expect a sequel hook. I expected to see Mr. Sasaki get the punishment he deserves. I expected to find out about what Dot, Hyphen, and the one schoolgirl bug girl with the really long name, what their deal is. And spoiler: didn’t get any of that.
ALEX: I don’t know what I expected. It feels quite surreal to be at this point, honestly, because I feel like we—“we” as in the AniFem team, but also “we” as in broader community conversation about this—have been having this discussion for like six months of our lives now, going, “Well, look. We’ll just have to see how it ends. We’ll just have to see if it sticks the landing in the finale.” And now here we are at the finale, and it kind of doesn’t feel real.
MERCEDEZ: And it’s weird too, because I wasn’t expecting a double-length finale.
VRAI: And we didn’t get one! [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. And I should say, transparency, I have been reviewing this episode-by-episode, week-by-week on the website But Why Tho? So, I have a very clear memory of each episode because I had to watch them multiple times for my reviews. And so, when I saw it was a double-length episode, my typing fingers got real eager. And then I was like, “The audacity to do a second recap episode!” As if in my wildest dreams Wonder Egg Priority isn’t there like a shadow.
ALEX: [Chuckles] As if we could have forgotten any of this?
MERCEDEZ: I mean, how am I going to forget a show that messily talks about the trauma of young AFAB teens? I’m not, because I’ve wanted a show like that. I’m not gonna forget it. And as messy as it was, I was really hype. And then you get to the finale. And you’re like, “What?”
VRAI: Yeah… Yeah.
MERCEDEZ: And I should say, you should never end a finale and your first thought be “Dang, I’m glad I didn’t pay for that!” That was my first thought. I pay for Funimation Premium. Gotta support the industry, but I was like “Dang, I’m glad I didn’t pay for Wonder Egg.” And that’s not a good feeling to have.
ALEX: Oh, my goodness. No.
VRAI: Yeah, I feel like I maybe thought certainly that there was no way even an hour-long finale—which I just expected it to be regular length—but even an hour-long finale wasn’t going to be able to wrap up all the loose ends that it introduced at the finish line for some reason, but I guess I’d kind of hoped that Ai would have some kind of confrontation with Frill and that we would have some closure there and that maybe it would be about all the girls rallying together and going forward on their graduation.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I also didn’t expect the finale to look like poop. And I’m sorry for saying that. I know multiple members of this team. At least one was hospitalized. It looks bad. And it looks bad because it was still rushed. And I think that’s also what soured the finale, is you cannot untangle it from the fact that this was made under crunch, that people were harmed in making this finale. People were harmed in making previous episodes. You can’t untangle that. But it looks like poop.
VRAI: Yeah, so, for those who were not following this series very closely, or who maybe watched it but weren’t in the Sakuga or Anitwitter bubble that was really following it closely and all the production details and stuff, I want to give a couple of basic rundown things of the disaster that was Wegg. So, this was a show created mostly by some very talented newcomers. The director is Wakabayashi Shin, who has mainly been a key animator in the past. I have personally found that when key animators step into series directors’ roles for the first time, a lot of times the show will look real good and maybe get a little lost on the plot element, and the strength of the staff around them tends to see how well that irons out on the whole.
So, the series composer was Nojima Shinji, who is new to anime but had previously done a lot of work in live dramas. And a lot of the animators are also these extremely talented young people who are really eager and passionate about this anime-original project, don’t have a lot of other stuff on their resume necessarily. And this show set a very dangerous precedent, in fact. I’m very afraid to see what happens from here because, as we know, the industry has been heading towards a crash for a long time now. I think with the state of conditions, animators get focused on a lot, but it’s really everyone in the industry except for maybe possibly the very, very top people, and even them, they have a raw deal. But Wonder Egg employed a lot of overseas animators via Twitter networking. And that’s a new door that I can see future productions just leaping on.
MERCEDEZ: And using and abusing. [Chuckles]
VRAI: Boy howdy! So, the series was notable for the first half of its run—in fact, most of its run—for almost filmic-quality animation. It is a gorgeous-looking show for most of it. But it just couldn’t hold. Even though the show had fairly careful production planning for almost two years before it got going for airing production, the pandemic happened, and that’s not their fault. But this team of newcomers seemingly had no way of knowing how to work on their feet and curtail their plans, which became this snowball effect of crunch and worker abuse and, I think, abusing that passion in particular until it imploded with this final episode that… Allegedly, according to a comment on Bilibili, which is where a lot of animators talk about their work on various shows, this show was going into second key animation five days before air. And oh, it looks bad.
MERCEDEZ: I will say this show at times is breathtakingly beautiful. It reminded me… and I’ve only seen GIFs and clips. It reminded me a lot of Perfect Blue and Paprika in some scenes with how it feels incredibly filmic. There are tracking shots. There are these gorgeous, big, dynamic-angle shots. And this finale… Oofah-doofah! Oof! Doofah!
VRAI: There’s compositing issues. There’s not really a lot of striking storyboarding in a show that’s known for it.
MERCEDEZ: The most glaring one, ironically, is Neiru looks so off model that I was like “Did they introduce a new character?”
ALEX: Oh, no.
MERCEDEZ: “Oh, it’s my girl Neiru.” [Chuckles]
VRAI: Oh, no. Oh, Neiru. So, I wanted to just talk about the girls and their character arcs as sort of a mix, before we get into the theme things. Did we want to start with Neiru? Because I feel like, boy, this show did her dirty.
MERCEDEZ: I think we should because I think Neiru is one of the show’s most fascinating characters. Well, all the girls really are, right? All of the girls are.
VRAI: [crosstalk] I love these girls.
MERCEDEZ: But Neiru is unique in… And we talked about this before we started recording. Neiru to me is unique in being the significantly darker-skinned character. She’s also the character who has the most mysterious, fantastical backstory. She literally was created, not in the sense of, you know, we’re all created because we’re a collection of genes. She was scientifically engineered and grown, which sets her apart in a lot of unique ways, but it also creates a lot of problems.
VRAI: Like an othering. Like there couldn’t just be a brown-skinned Japanese person who was born from parents.
MERCEDEZ: Right. And you have the fact that she’s Japanese, but it’s brought up quite a few times that she doesn’t look all the way Japanese. She’s clearly of different heritage, which is not a problem because—spoiler alert, fans of fictional Japan—there are people who are of multiple heritages in Japan who are Japanese, Neiru included, and you know, there’s real-life people. But that gets brought up a lot, and so you have this instant othering with Neiru, and the show never really tackles it in a good way, and I would argue it kind of deteriorates the further it goes along.
And y’all, I don’t know how to feel about it. I have big, complex feelings about it. And I’m sure the crowd who came after me for Nagatoro is going to come after me again for this. But I don’t like it when the dark-skinned Japanese character is the weird one, because that happens in real life in Japan. If you are a dark-skinned person in Japan, even if you are a Japanese national and both of your parents of Japanese heritage, you get singled out. And I don’t like that! I don’t like it at all.
VRAI: It’s never okay, but it’s especially glaring in a show that is purporting to be about social oppression that hurts teen girls.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah! And I know we’re avoiding getting too into the finale because—
VRAI: Oh, no, we can talk about the fact that she’s a fucking robot. Not a robot. She’s an AI.
MERCEDEZ: So, there’s this thing that already happens to Asian, specifically Far East Asian, specifically Japanese girls in fiction and sci-fi, where there has to be some quirk to them. Either you’re in a schoolgirl uniform and you’re like 42 or you have some sort of magic or fantasy element. You can never just be a Japanese woman in a lot of media. And I mean, I am saying this from the perspective of a Black person, and I’m saying it from the perspective of the Magical Negro trope and how that crosses over into different ethnic groups.
But then you have Neiru, who literally cannot be human. The one dark-skinned girl on this show doesn’t even get humanity. And I had to sit with that yesterday because it happens a lot, but in this show… Oh, what is that meme? It’s like Tyra Banks, the “We were cheering for you!” I was hoping that Neiru would get—after she had to euthanize her friend—that she would get something! And no, it turns out Neiru isn’t even really who we think she is, because you can’t be brown and be a real, fully formed human. It sucks! Sucks!
VRAI: And after they drop that little piece of backstory at literally the last ten minutes, we never see Neiru… I mean, there’s that tiny little scene of her and Frill sharing a body, which I thought that was potentially kind of nice. I would have really liked a story where Neiru and Frill were foils of one another and had conversations. But it’s nothing. We don’t see Neiru coming to terms with this or making that decision. It’s nothing!
MERCEDEZ: And that quite in itself is quite fraught. And I’m sure someone out there is going to listen to this and be like “Mercedez, you’re reading way too deep,” but I don’t care. I’m a feminist. It’s what I do.
VRAI: [crosstalk] I’ll fight them. I’ll fight them for you.
MERCEDEZ: It’s very fraught to me that Neiru, the explicitly darker-skinned character, shares a body with a character that is close to what people assume—and I’m going to use this term—Japanese whiteness. She is sharing a body with a character that is close to what people might perceive as a good mix of Japanese and whiteness. Frill has hair that typically a Japanese person would not have. Frill’s hair is auburn, kind of red. And Frill’s features could be perceived as Frill being created in the image of a mixed-heritage Japanese girl.
And I find it really troublesome that Neiru of all the characters, who was created in a test tube essentially, shares a body with the character that is furthest in appearance, that literally is a polar opposite of her. And we don’t have enough time to get into that. Maybe I’ll write something about that. But I found it really unsettling, and I was like “Oh, I don’t like this. I don’t like this.” And it’s sad because Neiru’s a really good character. She’s a really powerful character. And I think they didn’t know how to handle what they wanted to do with her.
VRAI: There’s something that happened that I come back to a lot when I’m writing, and I think I kind of put my finger on it a couple years ago when I was writing about Doki Doki Literature Club, but a lot of shows, and media in general, when they’re written about marginalized experiences by people who are not marginalized in particular, or even just not of that marginalized group, where they have good intentions but they never assume that the people they’re writing about might be in their audience.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. And I will say, the interesting thing about Wegg, Wonder Egg Priority, is that— Wait, did I just call it…? Yeah, Wegg, yeah.
VRAI: Yeah, Wegg. We all call it Wegg.
MERCEDEZ: … is that I don’t really actually know who the demographic for the show is, but it does feel like a seinen. It reminds me a lot of Madoka, and that’s very fraught in and of itself. But I’m not saying that cis men can’t write about young women. Absolutely, I actually think they should. I think that they should understand the horror of being a teenage girl. I’m sorry, I can’t pronounce that word. I hope no one… Please don’t. I hope no one out there misunderstood. I said “horror.” I have trouble pronouncing it. I didn’t imply that—
MERCEDEZ: But I think they should understand the terror that exists when you turn 13, until you become a legal adult in your society.
VRAI: This is the part where I make my token gesturing at Ikuhara and we move on.
ALEX: Well, actually can I… You’ll forgive me for a short segue. That raises a really interesting point, because I was sitting with the finale thinking. I’m like, at some point in the trajectory of this show, it felt like the vibe changed. And I was trying to put my finger on why, and I think it has something to do with [how] there is a very marked difference that is not always obvious but can become very uncomfortably obvious between shows that are about teenagers—and particularly teenage girls—and shows that are for teenage girls. So, if we look in, for example, the world of novels, something like The Lovely Bones is about a teenage girl who also has terrible things happen to her. But it’s not marketed as young adult. It’s not marketed as children’s fiction. It’s marketed to adults, and it’s also written in a different way and kind of deals with adolescence in a different way, in a more detached way. And of course, there’s a complicated argument to be had about how teen media, relatively speaking, isn’t written by teens, so there’s this complicated idea of the adult gaze and the hidden adult, but children’s lit scholars have been arguing about that for 50 years, and that’s not our business today.
But it makes me think of, for example, something like A Place Further Than the Universe, another short anime series. And they’re very different genres, but they are both about female adolescence and relationships and all that sort of stuff. But Universe to me felt much more like it was trying to speak to a teenage audience as opposed to looking at teenage girlhood from afar as kind of like an interesting philosophical content. So, it felt much more like it was trying to be relatable, trying to speak with an authentic voice, trying to assume that maybe teenage girls will be in the audience and speak to them, whereas Wonder Egg, particularly at the end, it had its moments. It had a lot of moments where I was like, “Oh, yeah, this really resonates.”
I am not a teenage girl right now, obviously, but I was one for a while. I was like, “Oh, yeah, this speaks to that experience. I think if a teenage girl was watching this, she would feel seen and she would feel like she was being listened to.” But especially towards the end, it hits this point where it’s like “Oh, no, this is adults standing around, talking about adolescence over the heads of the actual people that it’s about.”
MERCEDEZ: And It’s fascinating you say that, because that’s actually a really good way to get into a character that I did not like but came to love, which is Rika, who I think actually really embodies the ability to have a show that speaks to the teenage experience from a teenager. I should say I hated Rika at first. I feel like that’s a very harsh thing. And what I had to do was I really had to unpack why I didn’t like her, and I think a lot of it was because I saw a lot of my own experience in her.
VRAI: Well, and also she’s rampantly fatphobic that first time she shows up.
ALEX: Yeah, there is that. [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, but then I got to thinking and I was like, “Yeah, but a lot of teenage girls are fatphobic because teenage girls are told to hate their bodies.” Right? And not that it gives an excuse for fatphobia, but…
VRAI: No, but I know what you mean.
MERCEDEZ: But it does give a reason, and when I looked at it from that angle, I was like “Actually, Rika might be the best character on the show,” because Rika is a real-life teenage girl. She’s just 2D. But Rika is not a nice girl. At first, she is not nice. The girl that she is trying to save, Chiemi, she inadvertently causes her death by starvation, which is horrible but a real thing that happens. And I guarantee you as a former high school teacher, I had a girl pass out one day because she was eating natto three times a day. That was her food.
ALEX: Oh, no.
MERCEDEZ: That is not enough to sustain a growing body. And as a proud fat person—who, yes, I do like to eat food and I love my body—I will tell you, you have to love your body. And Rika inadvertently causes her death. And Rika’s not a nice girl. But Rika is also, like a lot of teenage girls, hurting.
VRAI: Yeah, and she’s a junior idol. She had internalized all of that because that was her one route to success. And this really horrible nightmare consequence of what most people would think of as a casually mean comment makes her start to think about these things. And I feel like Rika has a complete arc, and her episode about her and her mom is the best episode of the show.
MERCEDEZ: It made me sob, that episode. And I should say, for as much as any of us are ragging on the finale, Wonder Egg Priority is a very powerful show. And its power is in these four girls, is in Rika, Neiru, and the other two girls who we haven’t talked about. But Rika’s episodes are really good. They’re really powerful. They feel genuine. They feel the most genuine out of any character in the story. Best girl.
VRAI: The crucial thing about Rika is that her episodes… She has a complete arc, like I said, so her episodes open wounds and then close them again, which I don’t think anything else in the show does.
ALEX: That’s a really good point, yeah. Because as I’m sure we’ll get into and we have already touched on with Neiru, the thing that drives me the most bonkers about this show is that it has so many beautiful moments and so many great ideas, and any of these four characters could potentially be the main character in a fully fleshed-out story just about what’s going on with them. And Rika, I think, now that you’ve mentioned it, maybe is the one who gets the most closure and the most cohesive arc, where she kind of is on a quest to redeem herself and deal with her own bullshit that has happened to her but also she has put out into the world, as well.
And she has those moments of… she’s suffering with self-harm, but she manages to kind of come back from it. I would question if… I mean, she seems okay at the end, but the moments where the friend comes back to life, but then they vanish, and then the bug girls come down and traumatize everyone all over again, I would question whether those signify closure. But aside from that, I feel like you’re right. I feel like Rika is the one who does… She starts in a really awful place as kind of an awful person, but she reckons with that quite head on, and it’s very rewarding.
MERCEDEZ: I think what I like about Rika is that Rika’s story, Rika’s end, isn’t that Rika’s fixed. It’s just that she’s learning how to cope better. And actually, I’ll give Wonder Egg Priority credit: they don’t really fix anyone. No one leaves the show— Mm, okay, well, maybe Ai… But maybe that was parallel-universe Ai. But no one leaves the show completely happy. They’re gonna grow into adults who still have to work at it, like Rika’s gonna be a decade older and still having to work at that. And I actually really admire the show for portraying a more authentic look at, like, when you have trauma and you’re living alongside mental illness, it doesn’t just go away. Even if you were quote-unquote “healed and cured…” which I use scare quotes because I don’t think that those are kind ways to look at people who live with mental illness, myself included, because it’s not a problem like a broken shelf. I’m not an Ikea item. I’m a person.
MERCEDEZ: But I think it’s actually really quite earnest that they show, yeah, Rika still has to work. She’s going to have to work at this for the rest of her life, probably. But there is a way through. And I’ll give the show credit for that.
VRAI: Both of the other two girls, Ai— Episode 12 is a hot fucking mess for a lot of reasons, but I think that there is a catharsis and a hopeful conclusion in that Ai, by protecting her parallel world self, is able to see how far she’s come and forgive herself and let go of her survivor’s guilt, essentially.
MERCEDEZ: She gets resilience, which is a term that is used a lot in therapy and counseling. And her ability to now bounce back, which I didn’t have, is actually really beautiful to witness. It did make me cry.
ALEX: Yeah. I’m always like, forget about episode 12. But if we’re considering Ai the main character and her character growth the main thread of the show, then that episode where she protects her parallel self, that’s the climax. That’s the finale. They’re contentious because they’re a bit schlocky, and you might ask, “Is it ethical to make a monster-of-the-week show about abusers?” But the thing that I have always found fascinating about the whole Wonder Killer aspect, and obviously why it appeals to Ai at the beginning, is because it is a way of externalizing this very internal conflict. You can see why it calls to her so much.
She’s like, “Oh, my God. I have not been able to do anything. I couldn’t save my friend.” She’s internalized the guilt. She’s like, “It’s my fault she died, even though I had nothing to do with it and couldn’t have done anything.” She’s like, “No, no, but if I fight these monsters with a sword and rescue these girls, then I will be a hero, then I will be able to save my friend.” And the series kinda unpacks that and kinda goes off the rails with it because then it brings in Frill and it gets complicated. We will get to that momentarily, but bringing that all—
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] I think up until then—
ALEX: Sorry, what’d you say?
MERCEDEZ: Oh, I was gonna say up until then it’s really great.
ALEX: It is really great, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Because what teenager…? You know what, I’m actually going to amend this. What person who has suffered abuse, especially physical abuse, which leaves an invisible scar on you that you really never get to get rid of, what person doesn’t wish that they could defeat it? And this is my personal opinion. I don’t mean defeat in that hokey way of “I’m a survivor,” because I don’t think that works for everybody. I’ll be candid: it doesn’t work for me. It’s never going to work for me. What person doesn’t wish they could beat the manifestation of the shadow of a horrible thing that someone chose to do to them? Especially if you’re a teenager. Golly! What life would be if you in your dreams got to defeat the manifestation of this horrible thing that was forced upon you? And I think that’s actually the cool thing that Ai discovers, is Ai can help other girls defeat this by being the hero. And like you said, it does kind of go off the rails, but when it’s on, it’s on, and it’s really good.
VRAI: But what frustrates me is that, at the same instant that episode 12 is providing this very clearheaded sense of closure, it fucks the entire series right off its head because at the 11th hour, it introduces the fact that parallel Ai’s Wonder Killer is about her fears of this person that he’s not really like, which throws doubt on literally everything that has come before.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, it does.
VRAI: It’s poison for the series thematically.
ALEX: Yeah. But… Mm.
MERCEDEZ: And I think we’re gonna get into that more when we talk about what the finale’s overwhelming message is, which is that teenage girls who are suicidal are manipulative.
VRAI: I don’t want to linger on it—
MERCEDEZ: We got to talk about Momoe, though, before we get into that because that’s going to be a conversation.
VRAI: We don’t have to linger too long on Momoe because fuck knows I’ve talked it to death on Twitter. Momoe is my precious trans girl, and I will protect her. I think hers is… because she has that moment of catharsis, too, where she proudly accepts her gender, she rips open her shirt to reveal her flat chest and trans-colored sports bra because she’s trans!
VRAI: And she defeats a transphobic Wonder Killer, has this lovely moment with Kaoru, who… I love him. Please protect him from the writing.
ALEX: Yeah. [Chuckles]
VRAI: And then immediately after that, we do the Frill-and-company reveal, and it’s so cruel. It’s so cruel.
MERCEDEZ: Oh my God. I forgot immediately after, Momoe gets trauma.
VRAI: Uh-huh. At least with Rika, she has an episode or two to revel in having that breakthrough with her mom before she gets retraumatized horribly because this show is vicious.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. During the recap it shows Momoe getting traumatized, and I forgot that her mother was like “Here’s some chicken, sweetie, for dinner,” and Momoe couldn’t eat it because her Wonder Pet was a crocodile, and because crocodiles share genetics with chickens, they do taste like chicken. And that shattered me all over again, because I was like “Oh, yeah, her reward for being happy in her gender was trauma.”
ALEX: Yeah, and it comes so directly after it that you almost can’t read it any other way. I don’t know what they intended, but at this point intent kind of doesn’t matter because I don’t know what they intended about a lot of things, but they have said some things.
MERCEDEZ: It had the same vibe as when trans women on Twitter get told “Welcome to womanhood” as if that’s a kind thing to say.
ALEX: [Laughs] Oh no!
MERCEDEZ: It had that exact same vibe, and I’m calling out every single person listening who’s ever told the trans woman that.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Do it. Do it, do it, do it.
MERCEDEZ: Do not tell a trans woman that. That is not the sweet thing you think it is. It’s highly insulting. And what you’re saying is “Welcome to being a lesser person in society” rather than celebrating them living as who they are. Don’t tell trans women that. They suffer through enough on a daily basis, Lord knows. Don’t do that to them.
VRAI: Life being a trans person is shit, and trans women have it the worst.
MERCEDEZ: It had that vibe of “Welcome to womanhood, Momoe. Here’s some trauma.”
ALEX: Here’s the thing. Potentially, in a show that had more space and perhaps had given itself time to tease out these thematic threads instead of kind of jumbling them all together as the cat’s cradle that it becomes at the end of the show, it could be potentially really interesting to be like, “Hello, welcome to girlhood. It’s lovely for you, but it’s terrible structurally.” And that is represented by these insectile Grim Reaper figures who show up and enforce the trauma of adolescence upon you.
But those are representatives of a structure that we need to critique and combat and defeat as we come together as friends and all that. That could be really interesting. But in some ways, I do feel like it kind of was what the show was going for. But again, it comes back to that issue of the actual system of the eggs and the Accas is not actually ever critiqued in the way that I think we were all expecting and hoping it to be, which is certainly a choice.
VRAI: I do want to acknowledge the whole script-versus-visual-direction tension, because people pointed out, I think, fairly— I think I stand firm in the opinion that Momoe is very clearly telegraphed as trans. She is transly trans, wearing a trans flag. But it is fair to note that it almost feels that you can make an argument that the boarding and direction is doing that in spite of the script, almost, because those are all visual cues at the same time that you have the absolutely most hackneyed trauma checklist backstory for Kaoru imaginable. It’s not just that he gets misgendered. It’s not just corrective rape. It’s also corrective rape and pregnancy!
MERCEDEZ: I… Okay, this is such a weird tangent. Roll with me. When that happened, I flashed back to the television show… I believe it was an episode of Maury, which, for listeners who aren’t Americans, it’s trashy daytime TV.
ALEX: Is that the… like “You are the father!” That one?
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yep, that’s it.
MERCEDEZ: Oh no! I’m so sorry that that’s what that’s known for, but yes. I want to say it was Maury. It might have been Oprah. There was an episode of American daytime TV when I was younger, and I’m just going to say it directly. Warning: it is a very transphobic thing they did, of “This man got pregnant,” and that was the segment. And as a child, I didn’t understand what trans was. I didn’t understand that transgender was something anyone could be. I lived under the understanding of a binary. But I’ll never forget this episode was talking about “Wow, a man who got pregnant!” And it never mentioned that trans men can get pregnant. But they’re still men. And that’s what it feels like Wonder Egg could have done, like “This man forced himself on a male student who he was trying to force to fit into a certain gender,” even though Kaoru is best boy.
VRAI: He best boy!
MERCEDEZ: Kaoru is a boy. We here at Anime Feminist are firmly in that corner. But instead it was like, “Oh. This boy who was once… insert—” I don’t know if they ever deadnamed Kaoru God, if they did…
VRAI: They did not. But there is the uncomfortable lingering issue that early on they establish only girls can wind up in the Wonder Egg space, and it’s like… [Hums skeptically]
ALEX: Which, again, yeah, would be an interesting thing to unpack, of “Hey, here’s this…” Well, I was gonna say here’s this magic system. But as we know, it’s not magic; it’s sci-fi. Here’s this system that supposedly has these gendered rules, that raise these questions of… Well, okay, this is another cruel system that obviously operates on a so-called biological binary. Hey, if we had more space, that would be a really interesting thing to explore more deeply. It’d be like it affirms some people, but it is also, again, structurally terrible because it holds Girlhood, registered trademark, as a certain set of traits, and if you don’t live up to those, you kind of fall through the cracks.
MERCEDEZ: Right. And I think that’s why it made me think of that that very trashy episode of daytime TV, because I remember that episode centering on the mystery—and I’m putting “mystery” in scare quotes because it was an incredibly transphobic thing, even at that time—the mystery of “Ooh, this man can get pregnant!” and centering it as—and I cannot remember the gentleman’s name—but centering it as if this is some weird, freakish (to use a word that I believe was used in the show) incident. And the same treatment is what Kaoru was subjected to. We don’t need to see that Kaoru was correctively raped to understand the trauma that he went through. And it feels particularly cruel, because Kaoru is one of two trans characters, that we see him being raped and equated to being female when he’s not. I don’t know how to unpack that, once again. I have a lot of big feelings. But I think what I’m trying to get at is I just don’t know if they handled it right. I don’t know if they did. I don’t like that they did kind of parallel Kaoru as being secretly female and that’s how he was able to access the Egg World. I don’t like that, show. Trans men are men.
VRAI: Yeah, I don’t know. I feel a little uncomfortable insofar as… is this just because it’s the issue that hits close to home for me? because Wonder Egg from day one basically has always been pretty blunt about just mining trauma for content, from that shot of Koito’s feet in the garden onward. But there’s something about this one that felt uniquely cruel, and I think maybe it’s partly personal. But I think following Momoe’s triumph to, literally less than two minutes later, her horrible, scarring trauma that she never begins to recover from.
MERCEDEZ: And I suppose in a roundabout way that feeds into the question of this show’s view on trauma in teenage girls, especially when it comes to suicide and suicidality, which I guess I’m just gonna toss it out here. I’m gonna say trigger warning, that this is a necessary thing you have to talk about with the show, is suicide and suicidality.
VRAI: I mean, we’ve already gone deep into the content warning pool. I’m just going to put a general warning on the post.
ALEX: Yeah. [Chuckles] This show has an absolute laundry list of content warnings.
MERCEDEZ: And I want to say there’s something interesting about Wonder Egg Priority being made during the pandemic. And I’m pulling these from different articles. I’ve done a little bit of research on this. And it was something I was aware of as a teacher. The suicide rate in Japan has by and large dropped. It is, I would say, to some degree, a racialized trope against Japan that they’re just the most suicidal, because I hate to tell you, you know who sits behind Japan? It’s the United States, because capitalism is a lotus eater that will destroy all of us. But that said, one troubling thing that has happened is that suicide attempts and completed suicides amongst teenage girls have gone up. And I can’t help but inexplicably link that not only to the pandemic but with what is happening in Wonder Egg Priority.
Of course, I’m not saying that the show caused it, but that by nature of having teenage girls, it is hard not to think about the real-world situation of… 851 teenage girls attempted suicide last year, and a lot of those, unfortunately, were completed death by suicide. Now, a lot of that is social tension. A lot of that is it is difficult to be a teenage girl. A lot of that is severe depression. And a lot of G7 countries, America included, do not deal well with mental health. But it’s fascinating in a show like Wonder Egg Priority that they work so hard with the messiness of suicide, only to land on, I guess, the notion that the character’s suicide who really kickstarted these events was used as leverage. That gets me mad.
VRAI: Yeah, so let’s talk about Koito.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, let’s do it.
ALEX: Okay, so, to use the official analytical language, this gave me the shits.
ALEX: Because this show begins… Before anything else… Okay, even if the show goes off the rails, I’ll maintain that that premiere, that first episode, is quite spectacular. You can almost watch it as a contained short film, except that it ends on a cliffhanger and goes on to other stuff. But it grabbed me so hard because it spoke to some deep part of me where… Unfortunately, I almost lost someone to suicide when I was younger. They’re alright now. But it was a very harrowing experience, and I really connected with AI in that first episode, and I kind of knew in my bones that if this premise were presented to me at that age, if someone came up and said, “Hey, you can fix this. You can cure depression and prevent suicide and reverse suicide if you fight some monsters,” I would have been like “Yes, sign me up. Where’s my sword?”
And then just that idea, too, of not really knowing what happened but still feeling guilty, of Ai having that complicated relationship with Koito where she wished she had been less standoffish and she wished that she had done more, something that’s always more obvious in retrospect. And so, having that thematic thread carrying her through and being her motivation was really powerful. And then to get to the end, and the solution to the mystery… Well, first up, we get the gut punch that Koito doesn’t remember her anymore, which, again, if it had given it more space, would have been really interesting.
It could have been like, “Hey, this is the other side of this kind of Faustian bargain you’ve made. You can get them back, but they’re not going to be how you remember them, and they’re not going to say thank you to you.” That would be really interesting because it would play with the survivor’s guilt and the being a hero and all that. But it doesn’t. So that was the first annoying thing. And then, the absolute… I think it’s poisoned the show for me, because the absolute ending to that is this little handwave, a voiceover from… I think it’s the teacher. I think it’s Sawaki, but I don’t actually know. It’s some guy.
VRAI: I think it is Sawaki. Because it’s flashing back to “This is what he told her at the art gallery.”
ALEX: Right, okay. I didn’t even— I was too— I was seeing in red at this stage, because yeah, the solution to this great emotional mystery that has been Ai’s entire motivation throughout the show from minute one is “It was her fault. She was the one who came on to me. She was a troublemaker, and she killed herself by accident during an attention-seeking stunt.” And that’s the end.
VRAI: Not just— No, no, no, no, no. Not just an attention-seeking stunt. She fell off of the roof while she was threatening to jump and loudly accusing Sawaki of having raped her.
MERCEDEZ: And y’all, y’all, I gotta come untethered for a moment. I gotta let loose. I find it particularly disgusting that the show took this stance in a country where teenage girls are bargained for as sex objects, as companions, as toys, as pornography, as characters in manga. I found it so disgusting that Koito is just a temptress. [Takes on a mocking defensive tone] She’s just accusing a good man, who… you know, he has family. He’s got a niece. He’s a good teacher. You don’t want to ruin his life. She’s accusing a good man of doing a rape.
ALEX: [Mocking] And accusations can ruin a man’s life, don’t you know?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah! And I’m gonna say this— I will tell you as a teacher, I heard stories of… There was a school in my city that a man was found to have been recording fifth and sixth graders in the bathroom. You read into that. And he lost his job, temporarily.
ALEX: Oh. Only temporarily?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. I don’t think he can maybe teach in that city anymore. He did not lose his license.
ALEX: [Sighs] Oh, dear.
VRAI: Oh my God.
MERCEDEZ: And I mean, look, America has issues with the same thing, too. Don’t you dare listen to this podcast and think your country doesn’t, at all. But I find it particularly egregious in a country, in Japan, where this topic is not handled at all in a responsible way to the victim, to the children who are hurt, that the show went with Koito as a temptress and “Yo, grown man can’t help it if a young pretty thing comes on to them. But it’s not his fault, because he didn’t do the bad thing.” It is disgusting. And it’s gonna taint the show. It’s gonna take the show forever.
ALEX: It is.
MERCEDEZ: This is its legacy.
ALEX: And as a writing decision, too, it pisses me off, because up until… And again, it comes to that question of “Who is the audience and who is the narrative voice?” because up until a certain point, it really does feel like the show is about giving a voice and giving agency to the girls, the young people who are systematically silenced. And then you get these not one but two instances, possibly more—but I’m thinking of Koito and I’m thinking of Frill—two instances where these adult male characters in positions of power, both because they’re adult men and because they’re teachers and they’re professors, whatever, they are the ones who suddenly get the voice in the story and they narrate the motivations of a teenage girl and they explain them to us. And we’re meant to take that as narrative truth, I think. Again, if we had had more time, if they had thought about it, if they had brought it up earlier and more deliberately, there could have been a question of “Okay, well, is Sawaki telling the truth? What’s Koito’s side of the story?” But they don’t give it time. And likewise, they don’t give Frill a voice in the narrative. So we just kind of need to take it as face value everything that Acca says, that this is all Frill’s fault, that Frill is why girls kill themselves actually, it’s a robot, it’s fine.
MERCEDEZ: And Frill is such a fascinating character because never do Acca and Ura-Acca recognize the fact that they have abused this AI who has gained sentience and sapience. They abuse her into the cycle of “hurt people hurt people.” Whether or not they want to admit it, they created Frill in the image of…
ALEX: The perfect girl.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, they did a “God when he created the earth” kind of story, right? They created her in the image of a perfect 14-year-old girl, which we don’t have time to unpack. [Speech inaudible due to crosstalk]
ALEX: [crosstalk] [Chuckles] No! And neither does the show. The show does not give itself time to unpack that.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. But they gave her humanity and they’re mad when, after her being given humanity, which must be incredibly overwhelming for an AI that was born yesterday, they are mad that after doing that, and after… It’s hinted that when they take her down to the punishment coffin, that that’s not the first time they’ve abused her. Because she says, “Not again! Please don’t put me in here. It’s dark and I’m scared.” This is not the first time that she’s been put in the punishment freezer. But they gave her humanity and now they’re mad when, after mistreating her, she, a teenage girl, doesn’t understand how to cope with those feelings and lashes out in the only way she can because she’s scared.
ALEX: And again, it’s the framing. It’s about the framing. It’s like “Hey, that sure sounds like something a villain would do.” But we don’t get Frill’s side of the story. And we don’t get that we don’t get the Kyubey moment or the Akio Ohtori moment, where the narrative turns around and says, “Hey. That’s not good. Let’s have our protagonist actively critique this, realize this is wrong, and then fight against it.” It doesn’t happen.
MERCEDEZ: Because real talk, if this had been a double-cour, you know who the villains would have been? It would have been Acca and Ura-Acca, because that’s who the villains are really in my head. None of the events of the show would have happened if, I don’t know, they hadn’t abused their surrogate daughter and mistreated her and created a situation where Frill wasn’t able to cope with her humanity. None of this would have happened if they hadn’t have been horrible!
ALEX: Yeah, and then they make the eggs as well.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, and they do it to other girls! [Chuckles] It’s horrible.
VRAI: And the real bastard of a sticking point here is that the show does know that they did a bad thing by locking Frill in the box. And I think people latch on to that. It’s like, oh, they’re unreliable narrators. God, if I hear the word “unreliable narrator” one more time, I’m going to use smack something!
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Yeet my brain to Mars.
VRAI: Something but not a living being. And I think the show does want us to know that that moment, they did a bad thing. I think we can say that, given the framing and the sadness of it all. But the bigger thing is that, yeah, they did a bad thing and they messed up, but also aren’t they sad? Aren’t they sad men?
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Y’all, I’m so tired of men.
ALEX: [Laughs] Which, none of this is to say that men or even male characters are inherently awful or untrustworthy.
ALEX: Again, it’s…
MERCEDEZ: It’s framing.
ALEX: It’s the framing, and it’s, again, that question of “Are you trying to speak to teenage girls and lift them up onto a platform where they can see themselves as the protagonist, or are you just like using them as a funky narrative device to explore some ideas you think are cool?” And I really feel like it’s the latter. With the way that the dynamic shifts so much that Ai is not discovering things and solving the mysteries at the end, she is standing there listening to adult male characters with systemic power telling her their version of the truth. And the writing has her go, “Oh, okay,” and take it as face value. And so we are then meant to take it as face value, I feel, because Ai has been our window into the world this whole time. She’s our first main character.
MERCEDEZ: And, once again, it is miraculous that that’s the choice that was made because real-life Japanese society is really struggling with the… I mean, let’s make it clear. All of the countries in the G7, we all have some ghosts, and they are rattling the doors, they are shaking the trees, and they’re coming back to haunt us because we refuse to deal with the way that we treat teenage girls, who are, in my personal opinion, some of the most victimized people on this planet. We refuse to deal with it.
But it’s weird to me that that was the choice that they went with, given Japan’s current struggles with sexual assault and adult men, that they went with the “You know, it’s okay to listen to a grown man who did horrible stuff’s opinion because… [Chuckles] I guess he’s got good advice for these young, vulnerable children?” I don’t know. And it’s not all men. It’s not, because there are a lot of men out there that are abused, and I think there is something to be said about “Hurt people hurt people.” There are a lot of abused men who reenact that abuse because they were not given the ability to get healing. And that’s tragic. But this is not that.
VRAI: Yeah. And Stars Align is right over there if you want to look at a grounded, modern-day show about how society hurts young boys. And that show is good! It’s satisfying even though it’s only half a show!
MERCEDEZ: Like I said, I think in a double-cour Acca and Ura-Acca would have gotten a reckoning. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s gonna happen, and I don’t foresee Wonder Egg Priority getting a second season, at least not while it’s still relevant.
VRAI: Here’s the thing. I don’t know that they would, because the show gets all the way up to its moment of truth, where Ai is searching for the truth and realizing that maybe things are not as they seem with the Wonder Egg system. And so it comes to the make-it-or-break-it moment where it has to say, “This system is bad. And who can we hold accountable for that?” And it looks to its male characters, the Accas and Sawaki, and it says, “Well, look, men have done bad things in power. But really, I want you to see their humanity,” because Sawaki in episode 12, as the Wonder Killer, talks about his frustrations and his angers and how he spends more time on his art, basically, than taking care of students, which would be a valid character arc in a different show, except Sawaki’s a fucking creep!
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Yeah, that picture of adult Ai that he painted? Y’all, I saw that again, and my soul has not yet returned to my body. I don’t know what’s inhabiting me right now to give this podcast, but it ain’t Mercedez, because my soul is in another plane of existence still. [Chuckles]
ALEX: Yeah, the handling of Sawaki is really frustrating to me, because, again, with that buildup and with that focus on Koito, I really thought it was kind of like, “Here is this central thematic thing.” I thought that what he represented was “Hey, in this dream world, abusive people look like monsters, but in the real world, he’s just a guy. He might just be nice. He seems nice. But what if, you know?” The tension was from that. And then it was like, “Ah, no, it’s fine. He’s fine.”
MERCEDEZ: And isn’t the monstrosity in that, in the real world, the people who abuse look like everyday, normal people.
ALEX: Exactly. They are. They’re human beings, and that’s the…
MERCEDEZ: They don’t go around in capes, rubbing their hands together like “Nyeh-heh-heh-heh! I’m gonna commit abuse!” If only they did, so we knew and could avoid them and could… And maybe this is me speaking from the heart, from my own personal experiences. If only we could see the people who would abuse us and avoid them. If only we could. Unfortunately, abusers look like you and I. I hate it. Because one of the things that grinds my gears is when people are like “Oh, well, they didn’t look like an abuser.” Yeah, they did, because abusers look like everyday people. That’s the horror. That’s the nightmare. They look like Sawaki. They look like Acca and Ura-Acca— Well, okay, maybe they don’t look like Acca and Ura-Acca, who gave up their bodies. They cracked them like eggs and they took the yolk only.
ALEX: [Chuckles] Ugh, that’s a visceral mental image.
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] But you know, they look like everyday people. That’s the nightmare. That’s the Wonder Killer that we all face. Right?
ALEX: Yeah. And that’s really what I thought the show was going for. But then it… And again, Frill! What’s going on with Frill? Nothing in any of my powers could have predicted Frill. We were all trying to speculate about what the finale and the ending arc would involve, and they were like “And also here’s a robot who’s evil and causes suicide.” And I think all of us collectively were like “Excuse me? She what?” [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: I really don’t like that the third-to-last episode is just us watching this AI robot get abused, and that’s supposed to be a plot point. I don’t like that.
ALEX: Again, it drives me bananas because Frill’s story is another example of one small aspect of the show that could be a show in its own right. It’s like a Frankenstein story of Frill getting vengeance. That’s really cool. Or even as a premise of a show. Here’s me pitching an anime right now. Okay, there’s some sort of AI in the system that is hacking into people’s brains giving them suicide ideation, and we are sending in some teen girls to fight it. But plot twist: the people who created the system also created the evil AI. What will we do? That could be interesting! That could be really cool!
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Oh no. Oh no, Alex. Alex! Alex, you just spoiled people on Psycho-Pass.
ALEX: [Sputters and laughs]
MERCEDEZ: You just spoiled people…
VRAI: How is she getting into people’s brains? There isn’t even sci-fi infrastructure in this world!
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] It made me think of, in a weird way, Serial Experiments Lain. That’s right, listeners. I’m cool. It made me think of Serial Experiments Lain, which if they had gone a route like that, where the girls were actually in the wire, if they had gone a route where there was actually a reason… Honestly, they could have just said this was all a dream and I would have been more okay. But if they had gone some way like that and then had them ascend and maybe hug Frill, because I think Frill just really needs a good adult and boundaries—which Acca and Ura-Acca, I guess, clearly forgot to code that in to give her some autonomy.
VRAI: Well, you know women. They’re just so naturally impulsive.
MERCEDEZ: It’s the uterus. Just drives women crazy.
ALEX: [Laughs] Sorry. I’m just thinking of all those Victorian newspaper things, like “Women can’t ride trains because their wombs will fly backwards out of them.” But I rewatched the full episode to get some screencaps.
ALEX: And I’m looking at it. I’m like, “What is this trying to say to me?” because, again, it’s such an interesting, potentially really feminist narrative of the hubris of trying to create and then control the so-called perfect girl. But it’s not from Frill’s perspective.
MERCEDEZ: You know what it’s trying to say to you? It’s trying to advertise lip gloss, because Frill every time does that…
MERCEDEZ: Let me see if I can replicate that [Smacks lips] noise.
MERCEDEZ: It just… Oh, God. Ooh, God, why?
ALEX: Yes, the most nicely animated lips in all of anime for some goddamn reason.
VRAI: And you want to know the last shit cherry on top of the sundae, is the fact that knowing how things end with Sawaki, it makes Rika’s dialogue in earlier episodes really cruel, because they put in Rika’s mouth all of the speculation about how Sawaki’s an abuser and all the men in this world suck. And it’s, I guess, supposed to make her look stupid and…
MERCEDEZ: Once again, I know I opened up my DMs and I know some of y’all are about to come for me for this if you hate-listen to Chatty AF, I guess. It makes me think of what a lot of especially anime Twitter and anime Reddit think about women. And I’m not saying all. There’s a very specific group I’m talking about. It makes me think a lot of what they think about women and girls who are a little too feminist and maybe a little too opinionated and stick politics into everything. What it makes Rika sound like is this trope that she’s sticking politics into it and she’s a misogynist and she’s just a man-hater, when, y’all, Rika opened up her third eye and saw the truth.
MERCEDEZ: Rika saw the truth about Sawaki, which is that he’s an abusive teacher who hides under the guise of being traditionally good-looking. And it’s never outright… “Rape” is never said in the series. It is talked around, but I don’t think the word “rape” is actually ever used. But he either sexually assaulted Koito or raped her. And that led to her completing her suicide. And Rika saw that parallel universe, and she saw the universe we’re in that that happened and said it with her chest. And then they just retconned it, and now Rika looks like what a lot of people—and I’m speaking specifically about cis men—in those kinds of insular groups will say about women: that she’s a misogynist and she’s a liar and she’s deceiving and she’s a bad woman.
ALEX: And she’s doing it for attention, and all of the dreadful things that also come with it and end up applying to Koito.
MERCEDEZ: And I suppose that leads us to wonder: is this series worth it?
VRAI: Yeah. Can the show possibly be recommended knowing how poisonous those last couple episodes are to the overall themes?
MERCEDEZ: Yes and no. Because I think what Wonder Egg Priority is trying to do, I think the frankness of the conversation it’s trying to have in a time where teenage girls… I mean, let’s be real. teenage girls have always not wanted things to happen to them. That’s just a part of history. The thought that women were submissive up until first-wave feminism is a lie. It’s a colonial lie. Teenage girls have always been vulnerable, but they’ve always wanted autonomy, and they should have autonomy.
And I think the fact that Wonder Egg is trying to address that and the messiness of trauma, I really respect, because trauma is not having a PTSD nightmare only. It is a complex amount of things. Sometimes it’s self-harm. Sometimes it’s laughing until you cry. It’s a spectrum, and I actually really appreciate that Wegg is trying to address that. But I think what ultimately puts me towards no is like, how am I going to recommend a show that essentially does rape apology and says, “Well, actually teenage girls are the problem”? How am I going to recommend that and still stick to my ideals? I don’t know, because there’s a lot of really good stuff. But I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t.
VRAI: Yeah. For me, I think at the end of the day, even with the complete shitstain of a finale, I am glad that I watched this show, but I don’t think I would, because… Really, there were parts of it that I found so valuable, episodes that are so good, and I really love these girls and my sweet boy Kaoru. But I don’t think I could in good conscience recommend it to somebody to just watch alone because when we all watched it as it was airing, we kind of had that group environment where we were all talking about together. And how can I say to somebody who’s coming afterwards, “Here’s a bucket full of trauma, and maybe a tenth of it is going to be resolved in a way that feels satisfyingly cathartic”?
MERCEDEZ: It was hard. This was not an easy watch for me and some things—and please don’t take this as me dissing anyone—some triggers that I thought were important to include in my review were edited out. Pretty much every week there was a content warning for suicidality and suicide, when rape was applicable, when sexual assault was applicable, parental abuse was applicable. But this show comes with a lot of triggers. If you are 20-something or 30-something and you’re still living with trauma that you’re working through, this show is really hard. This show is really hard. It might be one of the hardest anime I’ve sat through. Definitely one of the hardest I’ve sat through and been paid to review. Because it’s a lot. It’s a lot. And I’m kind of with you, Vrai. I don’t know if I could recommend this knowing it could hurt somebody.
ALEX: Yeah. I mean, honestly, like I said, the premiere I think will always hold a special place in my heart. It really made such an impression on me. And I feel like I would show people that and be like, “Hey. Here is this. It’s really cool.” Weird how this was a cool OVA and they never made any more episodes. But no, that feels facetious. It’s definitely a complicated one. I don’t know. I would say you know, “Hey, watch the first five or so episodes. Just try it out. Enjoy the art of it. Enjoy what it’s trying to do. But know that it doesn’t get there in the end.” All the way to 7? Oh, yeah. No, that’s true. That’s fair. That’s a really good episode.
VRAI: I’d say go all the way to 7 because that’s the Rika episode. Yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Hot take, I would say just don’t watch episode 13. Leave it at episode 12. Let that be how it ends, because I think that is a tighter story. And it’s a story that maintains the fact that abuse is bad, point blank. There’s no ifs, ands or buts. And the abuse of teenage girls is bad. But don’t watch the finale. Don’t. It’s half-recap anyway. You already know what happened.
ALEX: [Laughs] Yeah, it was pretty funny because I’m sure a lot of people did binge the show to catch back up, and then it gave them 20 minutes of recap. I’m sure so many people were like, “No, I— Hey! Hey! I’ve already been here. I’ve just walked through all of this.” [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: And I mean, for all of my fence-sitting, I’m about to rewatch it. Maybe not during a pandemic. Who knows? It’s a wild time. But I kind of want to watch it to see what they’re going to do with the dub and the choices that they’re making and how they’re narratively constructing the story in the dub. And maybe that’s a softer way to watch it. I imagine that actually it’s probably just as impactful in a lot of good and bad ways in the dub. I don’t know. I think that’s probably where I’m going to sit with Wegg. I don’t know. I think if you’re gonna watch it, watch it with a support group. Don’t binge it. I will say don’t binge this. Don’t, because you’re gonna hurt yourself. Don’t binge this.
ALEX: I think maybe appropriately enough for a show that was in many ways so messy, the answer that we come to is “I don’t know,” in the same way that the show presents a lot of issues where the answer is “I don’t know. You can’t fix it.” The answer to how do we make the show better is “I don’t know.” [Chuckles]
VRAI: Actually, at the same time—
ALEX: That’s also valid. [Chuckles]
VRAI: At the same time, my answer might be “Fuck this show.” I go back and forth.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] You know, I think y’all know I try to be real charitable to anime. Look, I sat through Nagatoro.
MERCEDEZ: Which, I mean, I have very different feelings now about that show, actually. I just like to joke about it, you know. But I like to be charitable to shows. But it’s not that I’m not being charitable to Wegg. It’s just that I don’t know. I don’t know.
ALEX: And God, maybe that’s what we have to wrap up on? “I don’t know.”
VRAI: Yeah, yeah, no, we’re a little— I mean, we had the technical issues, but we’re a little bit over. And actually, after we wrap up, I think, looking at our discussion as a whole, I’m going to just make some audio content warnings that, Peter, you can tack on to the beginning, because we do post this on the main page and people might not look at the content warnings. But yeah, so that was Wegg. Here you go. Here’s the podcast we promised you. I’m so angry. But this was a fun discussion.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] The opening and ending slap.
MERCEDEZ: I cry every time I listen to it.
VRAI: [crosstalk] I’m gonna repost the edit I did of the opening.
MERCEDEZ: It’s a do-it-yourself opening, so all four voice actors are singing. And when their voices rise together and join together and you realize that Ai Ohto is not alone on the floor… Y’all remember that Hillary Duff song “Let the Rain Fall Down”? That is me on the ground, but make it the Wegg opening. [Chuckles] Mm-hm. That slaps. Watch that. Watch that on YouTube. Watch it right now.
VRAI: Just that. And actually the opening is real perky and nice, and I like it. Yeah, so that was the Wonder Egg postmortem. We did our best with only an hour of time. God knows we could talk about this for an hour more.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] I think we’re about all to write an article. I’m sensing that we’re all— I think Alex is…
VRAI: I have already written a postmortem that may or may not be out by the time this podcast goes up.
MERCEDEZ: I know I’m supposed to be writing about Super Cub, but I’m about to draft tonight.
ALEX: Do that and then palate-cleanse with Super Cub.
MERCEDEZ: Okay, yeah!
VRAI: Write some shit about Neiru. I want to read the hell out of that.
MERCEDEZ: Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm! Okay.
VRAI: Yes, perfect! Thank you so much for listening, AniFam. If you liked what you heard, you can find more of us in your ears and in front of your eyeballs at AnimeFeminist.com. If you really liked what you heard, why not consider giving us $1 at patreon.com/animefeminist? Every little contribution really does help us to continue paying our contributors and continuing to bring new and exciting content on the page and in your earbuds. And for $5 a month you can get access to our patrons-only Discord, which is full of pretty good, chill people. It’s a nice space that we try to cultivate for folks to have safe discussions where they can talk about their love and issues with anime and manga. You can also find us on social media. We are on Tumblr at animefeminist and we are on Twitter @AnimeFeminist. Thank you so much, AniFam. And remember, apparently, you can’t make an anime without cracking a few actual human lives.
ALEX: [crosstalk] Oh no!
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Oh my God. You got this one. [Chuckles]
VRAI: [crosstalk] It’s a downer, but it’s where I’m at.
ALEX: [crosstalk] The story of Wegg is how to scramble an egg.