Dee, Mercedez, and Peter look back at the mega-packed Spring 2021 season!
Date Recorded: July 18th, 2021
Hosts: Dee, Mercedez, and Peter
0:01:55 DON’T TOY WITH ME, MISS NAGATORO
0:06:26 Tokyo Revengers
0:07:16 Those Snow White Notes
0:13:27 Pretty Boy Detective Club
0:18:50 MARS RED
0:22:12 Super Cub
0:27:54 Shadows House
0:32:26 I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level
0:39:54 The World Ends With You
0:41:51 Vivy: Fluorite Eyes Song
0:47:30 To Your Eternity
0:53:18 Fairy Ranmaru
0:56:51 86 EIGHTY-SIX
1:00:50 Let’s Make a Mug Too
1:04:35 Farewell, My Dear Cramer
1:07:32 ZOMBIE LAND SAGA REVENGE
1:08:01 Fruits Basket
1:08:29 So I’m a Spider, So What?
1:11:44 Tropical Rouge! Pretty Cure
1:11:50 Thunderbolt Fantasy
1:12:06 Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun
1:12:39 Way of the Househusband
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, one of the managing editors at AniFem. You can find a lot of my writings on my blog The Josei Next Door—not all of them, because I’ve been bad at updating. And you can also hang out with me on Twitter @joseinextdoor, that I do update more regularly than my blog at this point. And today I am joined by fellow AniFem staffers Mercedez and Peter.
MERCEDEZ: Hi, my name’s Mercedez and… Oh, God, I totally forgot how to introduce myself, but that’s all right, because it’s been too long.
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh no! [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: It’s Sunday, whatever. I am a Japanese-to-English localization editor, as well as a staff editor at AniFem. And I also write online about anime a lot for Anime News Network. And you can find me on Twitter, where I’m probably talking about my new keyboard I got.
DEE: Peter, how about you? Are you also excited about your keyboard today?
PETER: I first got a gamer keyboard a long time ago, so I’m just happy that we got a new member of the fold. Welcome. Welcome to gaming keyboards.
DEE: [crosstalk] One of us! One of us!
PETER: Yeah, so I’m Peter Fobian. I’m associate manager of social video at Crunchyroll, editor at Anime Feminist. And my Twitter is @PeterFobian.
DEE: And today we are doing the season retrospective of the packed spring 2021 season. As per usual, we will start from the bottom of our Premiere Digest list and work our way up. There are a lot of shows, so without much preamble, we’re just gonna dive straight into these bad boys, and hopefully we’ll have a little bit of time for sequels at the end. But we’ll see how it goes.
Okay, so, under our Red Flags category, y’all are both watching Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro. So how did that shake out?
MERCEDEZ: Okay… [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: I think we’re gonna have two very different opinions, so I’ll let Peter go first. I’ll see where he goes.
PETER: Ah, wow, do I have an opinion about Nagatoro? I don’t think it was as bad as I thought it was going to be. It transitioned from her picking on him to this… I don’t want to call it an antagonistic relationship. Her friends started hanging out, and they realized that it bugged Nagatoro when they would do stuff with him without her or get in compromising situations with him, so it kind of became her friends picking on her a little bit. Maybe “teasing her” is a better word. So in that way, I thought it leveled out.
But then in the end, it introduces the art club president, who I guess her character is that she is a very respected young artist who draws exclusively self-nudes.
MERCEDEZ: It’s a lot!
DEE: [baffled] Okay!
PETER: And that transitions into the final arc where they’re trying to help him beat her in an art competition; otherwise she’ll close down the club by drawing a bunch of cosplay pictures of Nagatoro. Yeah, it really threw a curveball there at the end. But I do think that the concerns about it being exclusively bullying porn were somewhat overstated. Yeah, that’s it.
DEE: That’s your glowing endorsement of Miss Nagatoro.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, I don’t know if it’s an anime that I know anybody… I don’t know what type of person you recommend Nagatoro to.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Yeah, that’s a good point.
PETER: Sort of afraid to explore that. But yeah, I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would.
DEE: That works. Mercedez, how about you?
MERCEDEZ: I really liked it!
MERCEDEZ: As the person who went in hard and was like “Oh, I hate this,” I really liked it! [Chuckles] I really liked it and I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe that spring 2021 just had nothing else capturing my attention—which is a lie.
But I like that she actually grew out of just being a bully and that they kind of actually had a good relationship. I saw this described somewhere as horny shame chicken. And honestly that is kind of what the show is because once it gets past her lowkey sexually assaulting him for humor, which is not funny—that’s not funny at all—then it grows the plot a little.
And I actually ended it, and I was like “You know what? If there was a season 2, I think I would watch it.” And that’s not what I was expecting to end my time with the show thinking. But I was like “I kind of dig it.”
PETER: Yeah, she grew a lot from originally just collecting his tears.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Oh my god, I forgot that she collected his tears on a handkerchief!
PETER: [Chuckles] Yeah, I will say it did know how to be funny. A lot of her anime references are really good. And I do think it did equalize a bit with Senpai noticing that if he could get up the gumption to get a bit romantic with her or start asking her about relationship stuff or maybe imply that he would try to kiss her or something, this facade of being an untouchable bully fell away pretty quick and she’d get hella nervous. So, there was some equity there.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, it did get good. I will say perhaps the weirdest part of this was the art club president doing exclusively self-nudes. Which I was like “You know what? I didn’t need that in 2021.” I couldn’t have predicted that. I was like “Was that in the manga?”
MERCEDEZ: But I was just like “Wow, not what I expected.” But yeah, Nagatoro? It’s kinda good.
DEE: Well, I’m glad to hear that the characters grew. And it sounds like maybe the manga artist realized, a little bit in, that the story needed a little more legs under it, so it went some better directions that went forward. Not one I will be checking out, but I am glad that you enjoyed it.
DEE: I guess we can move on. Peter, did you want to say anything about Tokyo Revengers? You’re the only one watching that one.
PETER: I think it’s pretty good. It’s a very interesting time travel story. I probably said that the first time, so I don’t know if anything’s really changed.
DEE: Mm-hm. Is it continuing into the summer?
PETER: Yes, it looks like it’s gonna be a two-cour.
DEE: Okay. Okay, cool. Well, then we can stop back in at the end of summer, which is looking to be a lighter season, and maybe we’ll have more time for sequels in the podcasts and you can keep us posted on if it does anything new or especially noteworthy. But it sounds like if you liked it early on, it’s staying the course, so that’s cool.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah. It’s really in the trenches, so I do feel like I have a hard time describing it without any sort of resolution. So, yeah, I’ll check in.
DEE: [crosstalk] No, that makes sense. Yeah, okay, no worries. We can jump right to the next one, which all three of us, it looks like, finished. That was Those Snow White Notes, the shamisen show.
DEE: Any opening thoughts on that one?
PETER: I have ending thoughts.
MERCEDEZ: Ooh, yeah. Yeah.
DEE: I was all geared up to recommend this one in our season recs, and the ending was such a downer. And not even like a “We found a good stopping point and we may never make any more anime, but it’ll feel okay just watching this.” The ending is a bummer note, and nothing is really resolved, and I don’t think we’re getting a season 2 at this point. So, that kind of soured me a little bit at the end.
MERCEDEZ: The ending reminded me in a weird way… Follow me. Play with me in this space. It reminded me of the ending of Talentless Nana, in which everyone is sad and there’s no resolution and you’re like, “Well, I guess we’ll just never get more of this, huh?”
DEE: Not quite as bad of a cliffhanger as Talentless Nana; didn’t punch me quite as hard in the stomach. But no, I totally get what you mean in terms of that lack of resolution, that feeling of, okay, how do I recommend this to people, knowing that it is not only unfinished, but, unlike some other shows that we’ll get to later on the list, doesn’t even end at a good stopping point? Which is really unfortunate.
MERCEDEZ: It just ends with a boy who’s just shattered.
DEE: I know! And the thing is I think it’s a really good series. I was really impressed with this one. I’m just sad with the way it ended.
MERCEDEZ: I binged it over three days, because I came to it very late in the game, and I was like “Okay, I missed out on the koto anime. I have to watch the shamisen anime. I play shamisen. I’ve gotta do this.” And it’s really beautiful. And then his mother just breaks his trophy, and you’re like “That’s a lot.”
DEE: Yeah, his mom went from “flawed, not very good mother who’s kind of trying in a weird, sideways direction” to just being straight-up terrible in that final episode.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. She was like lovingly neglectful, almost in a black humor way, and then she just went straight-up abusive.
DEE: And she was pushing him in ways that I disagreed with but that were sort of sympathetic, like she missed her dad and wanted his music to continue and she wanted her son to live up to his potential. And she wasn’t doing it in the right way, but it still felt like it was her trying to interact with family members. And then the finale was like “Oh, I don’t care what your reasons are now. You’re the worst.”
MERCEDEZ: When he cries in that finale, when he breaks down and all the sound drops out except for him sobbing, I was like “I don’t know if I can finish this episode.” And then I looked and I was like “Oh God, there’s still so much of this episode left!”
DEE: I thought for sure there’d be another. I was like “Oh, this one must be 13.” Nope. [Chuckles] It was not!
MERCEDEZ: Good show, hard to recommend. [Chuckles]
DEE: Yeah, I would love us to get the manga, but even then, I feel like without the shamisen performances, it would lose a large part of what made it so good, that it was a really terrific adaptation. So I’m just gonna keep praying for a season 2 because I really want to see where this goes.
I was really impressed with the adaptation, with the performances. I really liked the characters, the whole cast. I thought it handled its female characters pretty well. I mean, the mom sucks, but she’s supposed to. And I enjoyed his classmates. I liked that one of his club members was casually gay and nobody made a big deal about it, and I thought that was nice. So overall, it was pretty good.
Peter, what are your thoughts? I know you said you had ending thoughts. Anything else?
PETER: You two summarized it pretty well, but yeah, I feel like it was one of those endings that just tries to put you to such a low point, you have to buy the manga to get some sort of closure and make yourself feel better, which feels kind of manipulative, almost.
DEE: Little bit.
PETER: And I liked Umeko to start off. She was kind of misguided and very fabulous, which I thought was a good combination. But it turns out… Yeah, I guess the end just revealed none of it was for him and it’s actually all about her and she actually sucks. I mean, that would have been great if it wasn’t just part of this sadness death spiral in the second half of the last episode.
PETER: I’m also on the same kinda places you are, thinking about a potential manga when the music was so good in the anime, I can’t imagine the story without the Yoshida Brothers playing samisen.
MERCEDEZ: Right! I was gonna say, how are they going to put the Yoshida Brothers in a manga? They can’t.
DEE: [Chuckles] You’ll just have to get a Spotify playlist going and just be ready to throw on some music while you’re reading it.
MERCEDEZ: I mean, that is a solution.
DEE: That’s the optimal way to read the manga if it ever gets an English release. Or if you read Japanese, get the Japanese volume.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] It has an English release, y’all.
DEE: Does it?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, it’s digital. Kodansha has been cranking them out. It has a digital release available right now.
DEE: You’re correct! I had no fricking clue! Yeah, you can get up through volume 8. Okay! You know what? I’m gonna put that on my list.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, Kodansha started cranking them out right in March. So yeah, you can get them.
DEE: Oh, that makes me happy. Okay, well, that’s good to know and something to keep in mind. If you did end up watching it and are into it, Kodansha is releasing it in English, which I had no idea. Thank you, Mercedez, for this illuminating news.
Do we want to move on?
PETER: I do want to just end by saying I would recommend the series. Just after Setsu’s last performance, you can just kind of shut it off.
DEE: That’s a good point.
PETER: Because nothing really happens after that that leads to anything. But the rest of the series is definitely worth it.
DEE: It’s really a terrific music club show. I think it does really good stuff with the characters. It kind of gives me Chihayafuru vibes, which I worry is me overhyping it a little bit. But again, I wanted to spend more time with these kids and watch them grow and progress in their music careers, and so, maybe I’ll have to do that in written form.
Okay, our next one is Pretty Boy Detective Club, which I guess you both watched to completion. So, how was that?
PETER: I honestly actually got really bored with most of it. At some point, I was like “I’m not even sure why I’m watching this anymore, except that Shaft made it and that’s why I’m watching it.” I thought the two middle mysteries just had nothing going for them.
And he really leaned into that loli joke, as well, from the beginning of the series. Yeah, they say “loli,” it feels like, triple-digits number of times over the course of that series. It becomes the thing they make fun of that character by. They just call him a lolicon. You meet the girl that he’s engaged to, who actually… I liked her a lot. [Chuckles]
I reached the last story arc, which I thought was somewhat interesting. And it didn’t really have a resolution, but the last episode had this really good sequence where… What’s the main character’s name? It’s been so long.
MERCEDEZ: Is it Mayumi?
PETER: Anyway, she’s getting menaced. And the whole sequence made me think “What if Shaft made JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? Would it be better?”
PETER: But it was really good. When the guy’s talking over her shoulder, that was some crazy visual stuff they were doing. It was really scary. So, I guess I’m glad I watched the series just to get that three-minute sequence in the final episode.
MERCEDEZ: I kind of feel like Pretty Boy Detective Club is a bit like a donut with gold leaf and every fancy edible thing you can put on it. It’s a donut, so donuts are good, but did it really need gold leaf? Did it need gilt and stuff decorating it?
It’s a very opulent show, but I have to agree. The first case, really good. The second one, mm… The third one, I was like “What are we doing y’all? I’m so confused. Who knows?” The fourth one—
PETER: Yeah, the painting one was like “Why is this happening? What’s the purpose of this investigation, even?”
MERCEDEZ: The fourth one I almost wish had been done a little bit more, because I was like “Okay, this could have been actually interesting,” but then it kind of just putters off. And then the last case is really interesting because it has all these beautiful sequences, and it’s really good, and there’s a monologue about friendship, and I was like “Oh, I’m here for this.”
And it’s really flowery, but it’s also Nisio Isin’s weakness that everything… I assume that Nisio Isin is male. I actually don’t know.
DEE: I’m pretty sure.
PETER: He is.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. I mean, everything he writes hits this point where it’s really opulent and flowery but it’s ultimately not really memorable. And I say that as a huge fan of Kizumonogatari. But a lot of his stuff has these ups and downs, and this show, when it’s good, it’s good; when it’s not, you’re just like “Well, at least it’s pretty.”
PETER: Yeah, the last arc had a villain, too, which I liked.
MERCEDEZ: I like when there’s villains. I like what it has to say about gender, in roundabout ways. I think that’s really neat.
DEE: Actually, let’s pause real quick on that—and we probably shouldn’t spend too much time on this, because we do have a lot more to go through. So I caught the first three episodes, and so I got a sense of the protagonist’s sort of gender fluidity. They started dressing as a boy. Did that go anywhere in particular? Was it explored at all, or was it just kind of an element of the story?
MERCEDEZ: I mean, Mayumi, I feel like her name— And I’m gonna say “her” because she does refer to herself as “her,” though she dresses and they say she has the heart of a boy. Which, I love that it opens up “boy” as a gender, that “boy” is not locked to your genetics. That’s great.
I mean, Mayumi dresses and presents male most of the show except for one really bad scene near the end where Mayumi is naked and getting a massage, and you’re like “Why is this here? What was the point?” And it fanservices her. And I say, this show really loves one character’s legs.
DEE: [crosstalk; dryly] It sure did, huh?
MERCEDEZ: Loves to show his legs. And it gets worse. And I’m sure the FBI’s got me on a watch list.
DEE: [pained] God.
MERCEDEZ: It gets worse. But they treat Mayumi really respectfully. And I’m here for it. And at the end, they’re like, “Yeah, Mayumi’s one of us. Mayumi’s one of the Pretty Boys.” And that’s really good!
DEE: That is good. Yeah, I had a hard time with this one early because I was like “Look at this great thing it’s doing on top of all this other stuff I don’t like.”
MERCEDEZ: And now, was that necessarily Nisio Isin’s intent? I don’t know. This is the same man that made toothbrushing sexual in one of his novels. Who knows? But I also think it’s really great that you can lend a reading of genderqueerness to this. I think that’s really good, and if that speaks to someone, great, I’m glad.
DEE: No, that is good. Okay, that’s probably enough on Pretty Boys. Let’s move on. Peter, did you need to say anything about Osamake?
PETER: I dropped it.
DEE: Okay. Easy enough, then. The next one up is Mars Red, which… Peter, did you finish this one to completion, too, or did you drop this one?
PETER: I couldn’t do it, man.
DEE: All right, that’s fine. I really like this one in theory. I finished it. I don’t regret having watched it. I think I would like to keep an eye on the creative team because I think they had some interesting ideas as far as presentation and stuff, and I would like to see what they did with other works.
There are some weird pacing issues, and ultimately, it is not memorable, I would say, but I do not regret watching it. And I have a fondness for supernatural stories that are sort of grounded in history and using those fantasy elements to talk about history, so I liked it from that perspective. But it didn’t treat its female characters very well.
MERCEDEZ: Is this the one with vampires?
DEE: Yeah, this is the one with vampires in Taisho Japan.
MERCEDEZ: Oh! Why didn’t I watch that? Oh, probably because there were too many shows this season!
DEE: There were a lot of shows this season. And if it sounds interesting, check it out. It has a decent stopping point ending. It’s based on a manga, so “our journey continues,” kind of, but it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or anything. There’s a decent stopping point for it.
I wish it had done a little more with its female characters. They were mostly victims or love interests, and there wasn’t a whole lot more to them than that. But along the way I was… Yeah, it’s hard to describe without digging into all the nitty-gritty, and I don’t think we need to spend that much time on it.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, fair, fair.
DEE: Don’t regret watching it. I would have a hard time recommending it other than if the description I just gave of vampires in Taisho-era Japan makes you go, “Whoo, interesting!” Then yeah, check it out. It is slightly pretentious in a way that I enjoy, personally, and there’s a lot of theatrical references throughout because some of the characters are thespians! So, yeah, glad I watched it, but not one I would be buying on DVD or anything.
MERCEDEZ: Fair enough, fair enough.
DEE: Yeah, that’s Mars Red.
Oh, boy. Hey, guys… Oh, no, we actually can skip Higehiro because it looks like you gave up on it halfway through, Mercedez. [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: I just got too busy, and I could not shake the paranoia that the adult man was gonna do the bad thing. I don’t think he did the bad thing, but I was worried he was gonna do the bad thing.
DEE: My understanding of the ending is that it’s basically a “Let’s wait until you’re 18.”
MERCEDEZ: [horrified] No, he did the bad thing!
DEE: “And then maybe we’ll look into having a relationship.” I could be misunderstanding that. I didn’t watch it myself. So folks, if I’m wrong, say so in the comments.
Peter, do you want to say anything about Combatants Will Be Dispatched?
PETER: I have one thing to say, yeah.
PETER: So, today on July 18, the official KonoSuba account announced that more anime is in the works, so we should all be excited about that.
DEE: [Chuckles] That has nothing to do with Combatants, except I think they share an author.
PETER: Yeah, same author.
DEE: Okay. So, more KonoSuba for people who like the author’s style when it’s done better, I guess, based on what I understand about Combatants?
PETER: That’s what I was implying, yeah. [Chuckles]
DEE: Okay. Good to know! Nobody watched Cestvs, because why would you. None of us watched Burning Kabaddi. I gave it a try, and I dropped it for the same reasons that Vrai mentioned in their three-episode check-in review, so you can just read that if you are interested.
Next on the list… Mercedez, you gotta try to keep it to a minimum here. Talk to us about Super Cub.
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] Okay. It’s really good. It’s really, really good. Cried my way through almost every episode. Really beautiful depiction of depression for teenage girls. A very grounded depiction. I know people feel very contentious about the last three episodes, especially because there is a scene where the main character says, “My Super Cub is coming to get you,” as her friend lays in a creek getting hypothermia. I do now know it was different in the novel, that they call the authorities. I think it was a perfectly fine scene. I really liked it.
I think everyone should watch Super Cub. I stand by… It’s one of the best anime this season, one of the best this year, for sure. Just really liked it.
See, I can contain myself.
DEE: I’m so proud of you! No, that was great. No, I knew you really, really liked this one and were talking about writing an article about it and stuff, so I definitely wanted you to talk about it. It’s just I keep looking at the list and getting nervous about how many shows we have to talk about.
MERCEDEZ: Hey, same. That’s okay.
DEE: And given that summer’s gonna be quiet, I think I probably will go back to Super Cub. I watched the first three and felt like I just got a good feel for what it was gonna do and was like “Okay, I don’t need any more.” But if it expands the cast and does some other things with them, then I might go back to it.
MERCEDEZ: It’s worth spending time with. I actually think this is one of the few slice-of-life anime that if people aren’t into that genre, they should really check out. I think it’s really good to recommend to people who don’t actually like the genre itself.
DEE: Mm-hm. Definitely based on those first three episodes, as far as being kind of a mood piece, it hit its notes pretty well. I would say don’t binge it, because I think it’s one that you’re supposed to kind of take your time with.
MERCEDEZ: Exactly. Exactly, yeah. Let it marinate.
DEE: Yeah. But if you’re looking for something to watch over the course of the next season, if you’re having a hard time putting stuff on your watch list, Super Cub is there for you.
Okay, next up is Dynazenon. Peter, you and I both— Well, sorry, [punctuating whole title] S-S-S-S.DYNAZENON. Peter, you and I both watched this one. I feel like we could gripe about it for a bit because we were both a little cold on the ending. I’m sorry Caitlin’s not here to talk it up more. Did you have summary thoughts on it?
PETER: I think out of the success of Gridman, they just wanted to do a lot of different things and decided to do all of them, and as a result, none of them were good.
PETER: It felt like every aspect of the story, like the main two characters (I don’t remember. It’s been too long. I forgot everybody’s names), like the whole 5,000-years-ago backstory, like the nature of Kaiju, the interconnected worlds, the series didn’t have time for any of them, so none of them got developed, and then we got this really shitty ending where all of the Kaiju Eugenicists just did a heel turn and decided to be [Bleep] and then get [Bleep] and then—
DEE: So many spoilers! Peter, so many spoilers! Technically people are listening to this without having seen the shows! We’re not doing a great job with spoilers this episode. It’s fine. Peter, we’ll just have you bleep out like half of the audio in this one.
PETER: Okay. Ooh, I get to try bleeping.
PETER: I think even the part where they thought they had won and suddenly everybody’s sad, which was, I guess, an admittance that the world does suck without Kaiju or something, and then they kill the last Kaiju… I’m just flabbergasted at what the show was trying… I don’t know what it was trying to do.
DEE: Yeah, I agree. I think it had too many balls in the air and really struggled to weave them together. Throughout, from start to finish, my biggest issue was I never felt like the giant robot Kaiju parts had much of anything to do with the character arcs. I felt like I was watching two different shows. And I thought the character story—the character drama—was really good and culminates in that incredibly well-done episode 10, dreamscape memory episode, where you get a lot of closure for all the characters’ individual stories. I thought that was really well done.
And then we got two more episodes because we had to have more robot battles, because it is technically a robot battle show. And that was when I felt like it really started to crumble on its own ideas, because it just didn’t seem like it knew what to do with the Kaiju and the Eugenicists. And maybe this is a setup for the next SSSSSSSSS season [chuckles] that they’re going to do.
But yeah, I agree. I did not find the last two episodes even a little bit satisfactory, to be honest. I liked the emotional closure of episode 10, and then it kind of crumbled after that for me, too.
PETER: Yeah, you gotta end on Eva. You don’t do an Eva and then… Doesn’t make sense.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, and again, because to me, they never really quite knew how to weave the two elements of the story together, which I think Gridman did a much better job of bringing all of that together despite its crappy fanservicey flaws—which to Dynazenon’s credit, didn’t have those issues.
Yeah, I think they stretched themselves too thin and weren’t quite sure how to bring it together, so we got some weird about-faces at the end and some dangling plot threads. So, agreed, agreed. And I know a lot of other people liked it, so if you disagree with us, you are welcome to let us know in the comments.
Next on the list, which—ooh, Mercedez, you should check this one out if you have some free time: Shadows House.
MERCEDEZ: Is it scary? Is it scary, though?
DEE: No, it’s not. It’s a little…
PETER: No, it’s not scary.
DEE: It can be a little unsettling because it’s dealing with… in sort of a gothic sort of way.
MERCEDEZ: Okay, okay. Because that’s kind of why I avoided it, because I don’t like getting scared. And I do have a weird fear of dolls, and I was like “Ooh, this might have dolls in it.” [Chuckles] I don’t know.
DEE: Well, there are no dolls.
PETER: There’s no dolls.
DEE: And yeah, I would describe it more as a gothic story than like a horror. So, I think you’ll be fine. There are no jump scares.
MERCEDEZ: Okay, okay.
DEE: [Chuckles] Peter, what did you think of Shadows House?
PETER: I really liked it. I think the setting is super interesting. I like the character dynamics and how it weaves the aesthetic into the story and the mystery and all that. Once you get like three episodes in, you’re just like “Oh, there’s so much potential for this. There’s so many directions it could go.” It’s such an interesting world they made.
I think my big disappointment with the series was they spent so much time on that… What was the test thing they did? Like the Chuunin Exams for these kids?
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, the hedge maze. I can’t remember the exact name of the test. But yeah, to see if the dolls and their shadows were compatible, basically.
PETER: Yeah, that lasted so long, and it served to get the characters closer together so that they could become allies later on, I guess, but it didn’t really develop the story at all.
I liked it, but by the end, I really wish it had spent more time building out the world more, because you still don’t know almost anything about the actual Shadows House itself. Or I wanted more politicking and stuff and more set-building. I’m glad they did the thing down in the town below, the brief scenes, even though those were a little expository.
But I guess what I’m saying is the real strength of the story was this really cool setting and the power dynamics and stuff, and then we got like six episodes of this test. Now I know how people feel when they complain about shounen tournament arcs, I guess is what I’m saying.
DEE: [Chuckles] It didn’t bother me. I don’t remember how long it went. It probably could have been a little shorter, but I appreciated it because that was really when the cast expanded.
We kind of knew there were other people, but we hadn’t really met them yet. So that, to me, was a really good way to introduce you to all these major players and give you a feel for who they were and what their relationships were to each other before we got into the next stretch, where these characters are now more fully embedded in the house as actual members and can start to uncover these mysteries and figure out what’s going on upstairs.
So, I appreciated it because by the end of it, I really liked the cast, and now I’m not just interested in the mysteries; I care about what happens to these people. So, I thought the labyrinth arc was good for that. I get the argument that it went on for too long, but I thought it built the characters well.
And obviously, it’s also based on an ongoing manga. The last arc is anime original, but I thought they did a pretty good job of giving the characters something exciting to do that made sense for a season-ender without (A) ending on a downer note or (B) trying to write a full ending.
So, overall, I was really happy with this one. I would happily recommend it, and I really hope we get the manga in the English sometime soon.
PETER: That’s interesting. I felt like that last arc was very sudden. I did not know it was anime original. That makes sense to me now.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, they didn’t want to completely write their own ending, but my understanding is the way the manga goes, it gets into another longer arc that there was just no way they could do justice to in two, three episodes, so they built in this little mini-boss arc, which, again, I thought meshed pretty well with the show. It definitely has a little bit of a different vibe, but overall I enjoyed it. It gave Kate something to do, which was cool.
So, I hope we get more. I really liked it. I thought they did a good job with it.
DEE: Okay, cool. Shadows House, recommended.
Seven Knights Revolution, nobody watched. Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent, nobody watched. I heard that one became kind of a nice chillout show once you got into it, but I just couldn’t. I found it very boring, and really, I just thought the adaptation was not good; it was very flat. In theory, I think it could have been fun, but oh well.
Peter, you kept up with Killing Slimes for 300 Years. I can’t remember the whole title. I’m just gonna call it that. Any new thoughts, or did it stay the course?
PETER: We kind of established at midseason it had just sort of fallen into this sitcom thingy where it’s her group of girls that live with her. I don’t really think they added anything new in the second half.
I do want to say I thought the last episode was kind of bizarre, though, since Azusa gets a wild hair up her ass and decides to open a cafe at the house, and it becomes so popular that they all become overworked.
DEE: Oh no!
PETER: And then it turns around to a happy ending somehow from that, and I’m like “Isn’t that the exact opposite of the premise of the show?”
DEE: Yeah, I thought the whole point of the show was that you weren’t supposed to overwork yourself.
PETER: So, it was kind of like everybody comes together to make this cafe work, but they end up working from sunup to sundown. And I was just like “This seems like a lot of labor,” which is something Azusa’s allergic to.
DEE: Did they keep going in on the jokes about the one character who… Basically there was… I’m trying to remember the gist of it because it was kind of what made me quit. One of the side characters was basically in love with the protag, but every time she brought it up, the protag would be like “Gross,” and it just had a very homophobic vibe to it. Does that continue or does it drop off?
MERCEDEZ: Do you mean Halkara the elf?
MERCEDEZ: Who lives and haunts my nightmares?
DEE: Yes, the boob elf! Thank you.
PETER: I think her role became less about her being a lesbian and more about her just being a disaster.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Fair.
PETER: She’s just super dumb and always gets them in trouble.
DEE: So, they pulled back on that a little bit at least. That’s good. I’m not going back to it, but that’s good.
PETER: Yeah, she’s still a joke character but just because she’s kind of an idiot, I guess.
DEE: Mm-hm. Okay, well, good to know.
None of us kept up with Dragon Goes House-Hunting or Blue Reflection Ray.
We all finished Backflip!!. How did everybody enjoy Backflip. Or not enjoy Backflip?
MERCEDEZ: I liked it a lot. [Chuckles] I liked it a lot. And once again, I don’t know what that says about my taste. Maybe I just don’t have good taste.
DEE: No, I agree with you.
PETER: [crosstalk] I think all of us liked it, yeah.
DEE: I had a fine time with Backflip. When I was editing the transcription for the midseason, I think, Mercedez, you were the one who said that this show is not going to be remembered.
MERCEDEZ: [Laughs] Yeah.
PETER: [Chuckles] Wow.
DEE: But I get what you mean, though. Again, it’s not one that I’m gonna buy the DVD or be like “Oh my gosh! Everybody needs to go watch Backflip.” But if somebody was like “Oh, is Backflip good?” I’d be like, “Yeah. If you like sports shows, you should watch it. It’s nice.”
MERCEDEZ: And I should say I had a similar thought today where I was like “Wow, this is really good. It’s a shame that nobody is going to remember that show.”
And I’m glad that past me said that, because I also had the thought… You know, ever since 2016, I’ve been searching for the same chaotic energy that Yuri!!! on ICE brought us, and there has not been a show of that caliber where everyone’s just been real into this all-male— Okay, maybe Haikyu, but I don’t go there. But there hasn’t been that same energy.
And Backflip!! is maybe the first—hot take!—sports anime that kind of gave me a percent of that energy. And I was like “Oh, it’s just so nice to see a bunch of friends!” They’re all good friends. They love each other. They’re helping each other. It’s very good. They help their teacher move through his own problems. It’s just real good. There’s lots of food. I lived near Sendai, so it gave me some good vibes from that.
DEE: [Chuckles] That’s cool.
MERCEDEZ: I kind of stand by what I said. I don’t think anyone’s going to be talking about Backflip by the end of this year. But I do think if someone asked me, I would be like, “Oh, yeah, it’s good.”
DEE: Yeah, I mean, it would be on a shortlist of sports shows that are a nice time to watch, for me, for sure.
I typically really hate the arc where the character risks life and limb with an injury because this high school tournament is just so important to them. And I started to get kind of angry at Backflip at the end when it was doing that with the main character’s sprained wrist.
But I will give Backflip credit in that they didn’t idealize it or treat it like “Well, of course, you have to go out there and perform even though it might destroy you.” They had several conversations about it, and at the end the coach was like, “I still don’t know if that was the right call. I maybe shouldn’t have let you do that.”
So I appreciated that they put in the effort to show that it’s not a straightforward thing and that it really depends on the situation and the person. And maybe that wasn’t the right choice to make, but it was the choice that made sense in that moment.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. It’s definitely one of the more grounded sports anime. This was just a high school in Tohoku. This was just a bunch of kids who have a real passion for the sport, doing it together. And that’s really nice.
I will say I really liked the imagery around… When his sprain first comes up, it’s depicted as like rocks, like it’s stalagmites and stalactites growing from his wrist and radiating out, and I thought that was a really interesting way to depict the pain.
And then, yeah, everyone’s like “You know, you could never do gymnastics again. You can do this and it could be all for naught. You can do it and maybe something good will come from it. Or you can do it and something good comes from it, but you won’t be able to participate.” And I actually do like that it took the more realistic “You could end up like me, your teacher, where I can’t do anything. I can coach but I can’t actually physically do the sport.” And I was like “Okay, you got me, Backflip. You got me.”
DEE: Yeah, I think it grounded itself better than a lot of shows do in those arcs. And we’re getting a movie to wrap up the show, it sounds like.
MERCEDEZ: [Gasps] We are?
DEE: I believe that is what I had heard. Yeah, because it ends with them… I don’t know, spoilers, they make the inter-high or whatever, because it’s a sports anime and of course they do. And that’s where the anime ends, but I guess we’re gonna get a movie, presumably for the next part of the tournament. Well, so we—
MERCEDEZ: I didn’t know we were getting a movie. Yes!
DEE: Yeah, we’re gonna see it play out. And the animation throughout with the gymnastics, I thought, looked really good.
DEE: This is another creative team that I’m like “I want to keep an eye on this group,” because I thought they did a very nice job with this show, for sure.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] What a job. Excellent.
PETER: Yeah. Yeah, the whole production, it felt like every narrative development was very by-the-numbers. I don’t feel like I saw really anything I hadn’t seen a million times before. But I think it’s a clinic on how good direction can really elevate source material, because it was so gorgeous.
I also think the character writing itself was great because the characters were nice. But the narrative developments themselves were super basic. But I was like “Wow, this is so by-the-numbers, but I’m really enjoying it for some reason.”
DEE: Sometimes you don’t have to do anything new if you do the old stuff well.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. It’s all about the execution.
DEE: Yeah. Gosh, we spent so much time on Backflip! Anything else before I move on?
MERCEDEZ: It’s good.
PETER: [crosstalk] Said it all, yeah.
DEE: Yeah. It was good. I liked it.
Okay, The World Ends with You. Mercedez, would you like to talk about this one?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, and I’ll keep it short. This is an anime that has a real bad start. It is not a good opening arc. It’s really bad. And I say that as someone who really loves this franchise, but also from the perspective of someone watching it. The first three episodes: trash.
DEE: [Chuckles] And that’s where I dropped.
MERCEDEZ: And then episode 4, it just decides to become a really good video game adaptation.
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh! Okay.
MERCEDEZ: I don’t know why. Once it settles in, it becomes a really, really good version of the video game. It has to make changes because this is a dozens-of-hour video game with lots of content and extra story plot, but what it does stick in of the main story is cohesive enough that by the end, I was like “Yeah, this is real emotional, and this is really good!” And if you watch this ahead of the game, which releases next week—
DEE: Oh gosh, that’s right.
MERCEDEZ: Not this week. Yeah, on the 27th of July. … Then you would have enough information to pretty much go into the game. There’s some stuff you’re gonna miss, but I’m sure people who watched this probably picked up the game. But it actually becomes really good. And I actually really liked it, and I was really prepared to pan it because it had such a weak opening. It had such a rushed, really frenetic opening.
DEE: Yeah, it did.
MERCEDEZ: And it had already lost points because it doesn’t use any of the game’s music, which is really iconic and is this blend of rap and hip hop and R&B and EDM. And I’m sure there’s rights for why they couldn’t.
But what it does with the source material is actually really good. It really executes a lot of plot quite well, and I found myself really liking it in the end.
DEE: That’s good to know. I’m glad it found its footing after those first three, because I agree, I thought it had a very rough start. Well, maybe that’s another one I can go back to at some point.
Okay, we’ll try not to talk about this one for too long. Peter, Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song. I know we had different perspectives on this one.
PETER: Mm-hm. God, what do I say? I don’t want to be too much of a downer, but I just generally thought the show did not have… It was kind of antithetical to its own themes, which… [Laughs] How do I say that shortly?
It’s been a while, so I probably have forgotten a lot of minor points. I wrote down a note, though. I remember I read ANN’s review of the finale, the final bit with Vivy returning to her former self. Her going back to square one kind of divorced her from the context of the narratives which developed her into the individual she was, which dooms her to fail her original mission.
And in that way, the ending is kind of extremely dark, I feel, but also I just didn’t feel like many of the developments were that good in the first place, especially the dude who she meets like three times. I just did not get what that character was supposed to be at all. Because he loved his AI piano teacher so much, he became an anti-AI terrorist. It doesn’t make sense to me.
MERCEDEZ: Isn’t the show “If Hatsune Miku Gained Consciousness”? Or am I off base with what I think this show is?
DEE: I mean, it’s about an AI idol, but there’s a time travel element and a robot gets sent back to help her try to change the future. During these key chronological points, they try to change the event so that the human–robot war doesn’t happen in like 100 years, is the overall premise.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Hatsune Miku save us.
PETER: Yeah, also when they did the big reveal as to why the robots were killing people, I groaned. One, because it’s so hackneyed—it’s just how the AI always turns against people—and the other part was I guess the AI was saying “I’ve been trying to help humanity evolve, or that’s my mission. But with AI, they can no longer evolve because they rely on AI for everything.”
Which, one, I didn’t like, because it’s assuming humanity reaching the point where we’re able to live relaxed lives and we’ve automated everything… Basically, she just describes utopia, right? And she said, “This is bad, because people aren’t hustling anymore,” or something like… I don’t know. It was like anti–hustle culture. I really didn’t like that. Once humanity gets to the point where we can just laze about every day and there’s no pollution and AIs are doing everything, then that’s really awful, right? That’s horrible.
And also, her solution to that was “Kill humanity,” rather than just get rid of AI so that people have to start working again.
DEE: Well, I feel as if—she’s not going to get rid of AIs, Peter. She is an AI.
PETER: Well, she said, “My mission is to make sure humanity evolves. And as long as AI are there, I can’t do that.” How does that become “kill humanity” rather than “get rid of AI to force humans to continue to evolve”?
DEE: AIs are going to be the new humans.
MERCEDEZ: Oh my god.
PETER: Did she even say that?
DEE: Yeah. She basically did. She was like “The AIs are going to handle the world from now on. We’ll get rid of the humans, and we’ll effectively be the next stage in human evolution because humans created us.“
MERCEDEZ: It sounds like if Detroit: Become Human was an anime, and that’s a lot to take in.
DEE: Didn’t play it, so I don’t know if there are enough similarities there. I… [Sighs] We don’t have time to go into this.
DEE: We really don’t. We could probably spend an episode picking out what Vivy was trying to do versus what it succeeded at versus what it failed at.
I overall liked it because I think the broad-scope idea was that there are going to be people and forces who had their minds basically made up from day one that there was no way that AI and humans could coexist. And then every single story arc is to some extent about that coexistence and the emotional bonds—either between two AI or a human and an AI—to prove those thoughts wrong on a very micro level, and how Vivy grows based on her interactions with other people.
I think the story was much more interested in those small-scale relationships and bonds and how they impact people on an individual rather than on a global level. And it also feeds into Vivy’s growth as an artist as she tries to figure out what it means to truly sing or to write your own music.
I thought that that was a worthwhile exploration that was well done on a micro level in some of these individual arcs, even if things like the villain, the Big Bad, felt kind of tacked on and like “Oh, we just needed somebody to decide to destroy the world, so that’s what they did.” But I thought on that micro level, as far as Vivy’s story and her relationship with Matsumoto—which I found very charming and endearing throughout—I thought it worked well on those levels.
So, I thought in terms of its overall goals for Vivy herself, it had a nice story. As far as whether it was trying to make any broad claims about artificial intelligence or some sideways metaphor about diversity, I don’t think it really had any big ideas there, and so I think that if you were trying to look for one, it would have failed on that front.
Yeah, overall, I enjoyed it. I have a hard time explaining why, but hopefully I outlined it slightly better just now, a little bit. So that was Vivy.
To Your Eternity. Peter, how’s that going?
PETER: It’s great. I’ve read the manga, and I think it’s very kind of like… if you know everything that’s going to happen, I think it kind of loses a lot of impact, like the first read is the most important or something. So I don’t know. It would be cool if somebody who wasn’t familiar with every plot twist was able to talk about it, but I think it’s a really great adaptation. The animation’s gorgeous. The soundtrack is amazing. So, a very quality adaptation of the manga, which is fantastic.
DEE: Good. I’m glad to hear it’s done well by the source material. Maybe one day I will be—
PETER: [crosstalk] It’s also two cours.
DEE: Oh, okay, cool. That’s good to know. I may one day be in the headspace to try it. I was not at the start of this season, so I haven’t gotten to it yet. But maybe. We’ll see.
PETER: There are sad moments, but I think people really focus on the sad moments rather than everything else. It’s like “Oh, it’s just unending torment,” and it’s not that.
DEE: Okay. Well, that makes me a little more likely to check it out.
The next one… There might not be a whole lot of feminist-relevant talk about this, but ODDTAXI was kind of a dark horse surprise favorite this season, I think. Any overall thoughts on that one?
PETER: I thought ODDTAXI was the anime of the season, potentially anime of the year. It was great.
DEE: [crosstalk] Wow.
PETER: Very tight story. I rewatched episode 1 again because I was doing some work on it, and every single moment foreshadows something. There was not a second of the show wasted. I thought it was really good. The plot was really smart and funny.
DEE: Yeah, I agree it was a very tightly narrated, complete story. I have slight quibbles with the stinger ending, but we don’t need to get into that because it would spoil a bunch of stuff.
PETER: Oh, yeah. The very end.
DEE: And I think the journey for this one is a big deal for it. It’s definitely one of those that’s more… “speaks to the mind instead of the heart,” I guess, if we want to be cheesy about it.
I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the plot twists and trying to figure out what was happening with the noir-style mysteries and how all the different storylines were going to connect. I don’t think it’s one I’m necessarily going to go back to, because once you know how it ends, it’s not like I necessarily want to go back and hang out with the cast, I guess is how I would put it.
But yeah, from a purely technical level, it’s really well done. I don’t think there’s a lot of complaints you can make about the way the story comes together. I wish the female characters had had a little more to do. I thought… oh, the alpaca lady…
DEE: What? Shirakawa, right. Shirakawa ended up being kind of awesome; and I do appreciate that the show talked about domestic abuse in pretty sympathetic terms. There’s even a scene where one character tries to victim-blame her and the other one’s like “No, this is not her fault.” And I thought that was really nice, and then she kind of ends up being a bit of the hero at the end, which was cool.
But overall, it’s more a show about guys going out and doing things, so from a feminist-relevant perspective, I don’t think there’s a whole lot we can talk about there.
PETER: For sure.
DEE: But yeah, it was good.
MERCEDEZ: I am hearing “Add ODDTAXI to my summer catch-up.”
DEE: Oh, yeah, I would for sure give it a try. Again, the noir-style mystery storytelling might not click for you. It was a tough sell for me. I got about halfway through it and was like “Any day now I’m gonna figure out why people like this so much.”
MERCEDEZ: I’ll give it a try.
DEE: But it does come together really well. I think in the second half it fleshes out its cast in some ways that make it a little more endearing from a character perspective. And, yeah, good narration. Again, another creative team I’d be excited to see what they come up with next.
[Exasperated] Dear God, Joran is the next title on this list.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, no! [Chuckles]
DEE: I rage-dropped it when the genderqueer character just became a raging villain.
MERCEDEZ: [Gasps] Oh no!
DEE: And I was so here for the stupid plot twists until it started to treat its characters crappy, was really what it was. It was that, and then apparently they quote-unquote “killed” a character for Sad Points, basically, and I was like “This isn’t fun anymore.” This was supposed to be fun nonsense with umbrella crossbows, and it just got melodramatic and kind of crappy to the cast members that I was enjoying watching, with no real throughline for their characters, so I dropped it around 7.
Peter, from your descriptions each week, it sounds like it continued to swan-dive off that cliff until the very end.
PETER: Yeah, I read an interview where it seemed like the creator’s intentions really were kind of in that Lady Snowblood–type cult cinema era. So, of course, I think their intention always was to turn it around into one of those endings where everything is bad and life is suffering and that was the message or something like that.
PETER: But it really just did in the back half turn into this, rather than fun nonsense, bad nonsense where awful things were happening and there was no reason or logic behind it. I still don’t know why Suki even became evil. They never explained what the hell was going on with that character.
DEE: [crosstalk; annoyed] Just did.
PETER: Yeah, yeah.
DEE: [crosstalk] Just did. [Chuckles]
PETER: The ending is just a big letdown, too. Things happened for no reason, and I can’t even call them sad. It just kind of sucks. It’s disappointing.
DEE: Yeah, Joran was by far the most disappointing show of the season, for me anyway. So, I think that’s all we have to say about that one.
“Dear God,” Dee says again, Fairy Ranmaru is next on the list. We all watched this one. Thoughts? How do you untangle Fairy Ranmaru in, let’s say, three minutes? We’re gonna go over. It’s just happening.
MERCEDEZ: It’s messy and queer, and that’s what I like about it.
MERCEDEZ: It’s not perfect, but it is messy. And I like mess.
DEE: And it was canonically queer. There are smooches and I-love-yous in the final episode, so, folks at home, you’ve got that to look forward to with Fairy Ranmaru. It’s not just a bunch of subtext. It becomes text.
PETER: No arm in front of that kiss!
DEE: True story.
MERCEDEZ: I will say it did continue to be— I think it might have been Peter who said it was bulge forward. Or maybe it was you, Dee. Someone said it was bulge forward.
DEE: It is bulge forward. This is true.
MERCEDEZ: I feel like one of you two said it.
DEE: I’ve used the term. I don’t know if I coined it or if I stole it. But yeah.
PETER: Yeah, that doesn’t sound like— That sounds like you or Vrai, for sure.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Someone said it.
PETER: That’s great.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I mean, it definitely continues to be that.
DEE: Vrai and I have been joking about this. I binged this one this past week because I heard it ended well, so I was like “I’ve got some free time before we record. I’ll go ahead and give Fairy Ranmaru another try.”
It’s so much, all the time. And I feel like every time I pull at something it does really well in terms of every episode tackling a different social ill for young women in Japan—and can connect to worldwide issues as well—it’s like, on the one hand, it does that, but on the other hand, it is, um…
DEE: Where am I even trying to go with the sentence? It handles it kind of messily, like there will always be a… It also seems to have kind of a weird relationship with female sexuality. Or “why do these characters look like high schoolers in their day-to-day lives?” You didn’t have to do that. They’re clearly not high schoolers. They’re fairies of hundreds of years old or something. So why are they high schoolers sometimes?
MERCEDEZ: That is arguably the most inexplicable part of Fairy Ranmaru, is the choice to make them look like high schoolers when they could have just made them look like gorgeous adult fairy men.
DEE: And maybe they were trying to appeal to a teenage audience; they were trying to pull them in by making the characters younger. I do not know.
MERCEDEZ: Do they not know that gorgeous adult fairy men have appeal to every age range?
DEE: True story. Yeah, so stuff like that or… I mean, it’s very much an escapist fantasy about “Wouldn’t it be cool if these hot dudes just showed up to solve my problems for me?” [Chuckles] So I don’t know how to talk about this from a serious analytical perspective.
But it occasionally made me feel feelings, and I have to give it a lot of credit for trying to do something different and weird and bold and, again, very openly queer. So, good on you for that, Fairy Ranmaru. You are definitely a bit of a problematic fave for people on the team, I think.
I don’t know if I plug it as a fave myself, but I’m glad I watched it and I will continue to try to untangle my thoughts about it in the coming weeks, probably. It’s so fricking much! It was so much!
Yeah, Fairy Ranmaru. Any other thoughts?
MERCEDEZ: I think that’s about it.
PETER: [crosstalk] No thoughts.
DEE: Okay, cool. Another one that I feel like is complex and tangly—and maybe we should just sit on this one since it’s got a season 2 coming up—86. Mercedez, you did not watch that one, but Peter and I did. Peter, do you have any quick thoughts on it?
PETER: It was extremely good. People were talking about how well-directed some of the series were this season, and I feel like 86 was the best one.
DEE: It’s very well-directed. I have a feeling it’s incredibly well-written as well, in terms of… I just found out it took one light novel and stretched it into 12 episodes, and it did not feel stretched out.
PETER: Oh, wow.
DEE: I think they did a lot of work with the characters and different interactions and teasing out the scenes to build the cast, because when I was looking at the book descriptions—because I thought I’d maybe try to pick up the light novels—I was like “That was just one? That was just one book?” So, yeah, I was really impressed with this one.
It is not an easy watch, folks. It’s basically about genocide. So, it’s not always easy to watch. I think it does some really important things in terms of examining and really calling out privilege and looking the other way when you’re in a position of power and how that can lead to the proliferation of atrocious acts.
I would not call it a perfect work, but I think it was one of the most ambitious of the season and possibly the most… oh, I hate using the word “important,” but I’m using it again.
DEE: It does some really, really valuable stuff, and I hope it continues into season 2 and doesn’t fall flat on its face, because it’s toeing this really careful line between talking about saviorism and allyship, and I want to see what it does with it.
MERCEDEZ: That’s really fascinating because I’ve had the light novels since it came out, and because books always take time and I haven’t had time, I haven’t read it. But that’s really interesting to hear, and it makes me want to watch and read this series.
DEE: I would love to hear your feelings on it.
PETER: Yeah, same.
DEE: I will continue to say calling it a light novel feels silly because there’s nothing light about this series.
MERCEDEZ: And I find it doubly interesting that a series about genocide and, I’m going to assume, also nationalism…
DEE: Mm-hm. Racism.
MERCEDEZ: … is a light novel from Japan, a country— Maybe we shouldn’t get into the topic of Japan’s nationalism. But I find it interesting that that was made given how overt it seems like it’s talking about the topic. That’s really fascinating. Oh, yeah, I gotta read it, for sure.
DEE: Yeah. Again, I caution people with content warnings. It gets pretty heavy and it punches you in the gut regularly. But I was really impressed with this one. And I kept waiting for it to faceplant and it hasn’t yet, and there’s a season 2.
So, again, I would by no means call it perfect. I think there are certain elements of it that I probably don’t get to be the final say on, so I’m not going to try to make large value judgments about it. But yeah, I was really impressed with this one. I’m very excited to see what the second cour does in the fall. So…
DEE: We’ll see! It’s gonna keep juggling those flaming chainsaws, and hopefully it continues to not drop them. Any final thoughts, Peter?
PETER: What even happens in the second half? I have no idea where the story could go from here. [Chuckles] It seems so final, the end of the season.
DEE: Yeah, well, it ended on kind of a cliffhanger, so I’m hoping the characters are okay and we can go from there. Yeah, so, I agree with you. I don’t know where it’s going. But we’ll see, I guess. Yeah, that one I’m pretty high on and was probably—other than a sequel that we probably won’t have time to talk about—I would say it was my favorite of the season. Yeah, I was big on that one.
Okay, next one. Mercedez. You and I finished Let’s Make a Mug Too. I liked it. How about you?
MERCEDEZ: I liked it. But Dee, what does it say that in the back half I was like “Mm, the live action segments are a little bit more enjoyable than some of these episodes”?
DEE: Oh, see, I didn’t actually watch the live action segments.
MERCEDEZ: Oh! I love… I mean, they were your generic Voice Actors Doing Cute Stuff in real-life Tajimi City. I actually really liked it.
I don’t think anyone’s gonna remember Let’s Make a Mug Too, even though it will always live in my heart.
DEE: It’s getting a season 2, so…
DEE: There’s that. Yeah, I don’t know if it was split-cour to start or when season 2’s coming out.
MERCEDEZ: That makes sense because, I kid you not, this series is 34 manga volumes long. And I don’t know why it’s that long.
MERCEDEZ: But I believe it is 34 volumes long, which is too many mugs.
DEE: Yeah, that’s freaking my bean a little bit. [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: I’m sorry, it’s—
PETER: So many mugs!
MERCEDEZ: I’m sorry. It’s just 33, not 34.
MERCEDEZ: But I actually really liked it. I will say there was a weird episode that had some magical realism with eels, and I was like “I don’t really know if we needed this.” But I thought it was a really cute Girls Doing Pottery. The opening slaps.
DEE: It’s a nice opening, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: [Chuckles] That opening is so good. Yeah, it was good. It was good.
DEE: I think if it hadn’t been 15 minutes a week, I’m not sure I would have kept up with it. But it being a short—
MERCEDEZ: Oh, would’ve dropped it.
DEE: Yeah, I think being a short time made the commitment a little easier. That having been said, I actually quite liked the end. I think it touches on… With Hime, I think the stuff with her family is generally really good, and I kind of wish it was a show about her and her dad more than her and her clubmates because I found them less interesting.
MERCEDEZ: I liked Toko. I didn’t like the other two clubmates, though. I was just like…
DEE: Very much, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Like “God, Mika, please! Calm down.”
DEE: [Chuckles] I didn’t mind them. I just didn’t find them especially engaging. I thought the stuff with—again, Hime and her family; I thought her trying to connect to her mom—and then some of the stuff in the last arc with her getting into this art form and realizing she’s serious about it and genuinely wanting to win these awards… It felt very real and grounded in a way that I really appreciated in terms of her imagining herself winning awards then going, “No, no, no, no, no, you can’t let yourself do that!”
MERCEDEZ: It was really good. And I have to say I like where it ended. I like that she didn’t win. I think actually the show would have been really weak if she won. I like that Hime’s like “It’s just the beginning!” and it feels really good.
DEE: Yeah, I appreciated that too.
MERCEDEZ: And spoiler alert, I like that her dad breaks her project.
MERCEDEZ: Found that immensely funny!
DEE: I’d forgotten about that, but it was hilarious, yeah, because she wanted him to sit on it, and then he did and he immediately shatters it!
MERCEDEZ: Right in front of the shrine of his wife, her mother, it cracks! [Chuckles]
DEE: She’s looking on with a facepalm, I’m sure, somewhere.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I think if this had been 24-minute episodes, I probably would have dropped. But 15 minutes makes it really bingeable. And it’s really enjoyable.
DEE: Yeah, it had a lot of heart, and I think it found its footing a little bit more at the end when Hime started to figure out what she wanted to do. I’m not sure it needed a season 2, but I will start it and see how it goes.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it did either, but 33 volumes…
DEE: Can’t be wrong, right? [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: That’s a lot to cover.
DEE: Yeah. Okay, last show. And then, I don’t know, we’ll do a lightning round on sequels, and we’ll go over [time], and we’ll thank everybody for their patience.
Farewell, My Dear Cramer. Much has been made of the production issues with this one. I thought it evened out pretty well in the second half and looked, if not terrific, at least solid. I liked this one a lot, but it’s, once again, only half a series, and I keep waiting for them to announce season 2 and they haven’t yet, so it’s hard for me to recommend.
I’m more likely to tell you to just read the manga since it’s finished. And the story’s great. The characters are great. I like how messy and imperfect all the girls are, because I think so often with shows like this, we just get these cute, sweet, nice girls out to play the sports, and I like that they’re all kind of disasters. [Chuckles] It is refreshing.
Yeah, this was a big favorite of mine, despite the production issues, and I would love to read the manga and get the full story someday. How about you, Peter?
PETER: To be honest, I dropped it.
DEE: Oh, no!
PETER: Much more that I was just kind of crestfallen with the fact that it was so static. Although I did really like the work from the voice actors, so that carried me through a lot of it. I own a lot of the manga now. I’ve bought it digitally and physically now.
PETER: Yeah, it’s one of my favorite sports mangas actually. I can’t believe the Your Lie in April guy did all these great female characters in this sports team.
DEE: I know, right?
PETER: Yeah. But you saying that it leveled out in the second half makes me want to check back in on it actually.
And I don’t want to imply that me not watching it was in any way a reflection on the show itself, or the series itself rather, because it was a busy season.
DEE: It was.
PETER: And my quibble was not story- or character-related. So, I might check back in. I really love this manga. I think all the characters are so funny. It is so funny.
DEE: Yeah, I really enjoy it. I want to see how their club grows. And yeah, it’s another one that ends on a little bit of a downer, but they bring in a hopeful note at the end, and so, hopefully we’ll get the whole thing adapted. It feels like they want to adapt the whole thing, because they did the prologue as a film.
And the manga is complete. It’s being released by Kodansha in both digital and physical form. So, folks at home, if you try this out and you like the concept, but the production values are kind of killing it for you, you do have other options, which I will also be pursuing. And hopefully we’ll get more of it, and maybe Liden Films will have their team on track better next time around. Fingers crossed.
But yeah, good story, good characters. Again, that’s another one I feel like we could dig into this or that element of it to talk about what it’s doing with its cast, but I think that’s enough to say for now. Maybe someday we’ll do a full manga podcast on it or something.
Anything that folks wanted to say about sequels? ZOMBIE LAND SAGA, I think, had a really good second season. They got rid of the thing that sucked about season 1, which was the manager being an abusive piece of crap, and now he’s just a goober, and it’s kind of great. And there’s a weird stinger at the very, very end, but otherwise, I thought it was a really enjoyable season. I thought they improved on the first one and kept building the cast in really fun ways. So, big positives on ZOMBIE LAND for me.
And then Fruits Basket was good. It’s over. It ended, the whole thing. I cried like every episode, because that’s what Fruits Basket does to you. It will never be my favorite shoujo. I know a lot of people absolutely love it. For me, it’s more in the “like” category. There are certain things about it that have not aged well.
MERCEDEZ: Ooh, yeah. Ooh, yeah.
DEE: But overall, I think the adaptation, especially I think it hit the big moments well, so I was happy for that, and I know fans of the series really were, too, so that’s good.
MERCEDEZ: I’d like to speak for the spiders.
DEE: [crosstalk] Okay. Sure.
MERCEDEZ: I’d like to speak and tell you, I had a professional obligation to review this show, and I think I was too gentle with my ratings.
MERCEDEZ: Because I think—and I’m sure someone roasted me on a forum—I don’t think this second cour was good.
DEE: Well, it had multiple episodes without Kumoko in it, so yes, it wasn’t very good.
MERCEDEZ: See, I like Kumoko. I like her a lot.
DEE: No, me too. I love her. I think she’s great. I watched the show almost exclusively because the Aoi-Yuuki-as-a-Spider Hour was really entertaining. And everything that wasn’t that, was not.
MERCEDEZ: It was bad, and I gotta tell y’all, the last two episodes, when everything went into the CGI, y’all, people looked smothered and covered in butter 90% of the time. It was really bad. Everyone was glossy, like they were going to the beach to get a really crisp tan. And it just wasn’t good anymore.
DEE: Yeah, I think it fell apart at the end. I think it took a little too long to try to tie the two stories together, so there was a lot of spinning its wheels in part two. And then we finally hit the time jump at the end.
And dammit, if they made more I’d watch it because I’m here for Kumoko. I really am. But no, the second half was a mess production-wise and pacing-wise.
MERCEDEZ: It did get to a point where I was like, “So I’m a viewer. So what?”
MERCEDEZ: And I was just like “No, I don’t really think I’m enjoying this,” but I want to read the light novels because those are probably really good. But I just… I mean, Kumoko becomes a hot spider girl in the end. That’s gonna appeal to somebody.
PETER: Very happy for her.
DEE: I liked her better when she was a cute little spider. I’ll be real with you.
MERCEDEZ: I did too, though. As a monster girl fan, it just didn’t… I was like “No, I liked her as an actual monster, rather than a hot monster.”
DEE: [Chuckles] Agreed. And they took away her facial expressions, which was half the fun of her.
DEE: Again, if season 2 came along, I would at least try it out to see where the story goes and how they play Kumoko and all that, but…
MERCEDEZ: And I’ll also say, too, I think what also got me this season was—and I know this is from the source—I didn’t like the inclusion of a lot of the weird technology, like finding out—
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, the cell phones?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, and finding out that one of the elves definitely was a cyborg!
DEE: God, that—
MERCEDEZ: I was like “No, what?”
DEE: I think I blocked that out of my brain because I was like “What? No, wait, what?”
MERCEDEZ: I’m here to remind you definitely that the elf king definitely is a robot.
DEE: I definitely checked out a little bit during the last half of the second cour.
PETER: [crosstalk] He was a robot the whole time. So I’m a robot, so what?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, it’s just not…
DEE: Yeah, I would agree it fell apart, which is a shame because I was into it. And I still really like the main character, so we’ll see.
MERCEDEZ: I will say Tropical-Rouge! PreCure continues to be good, though.
DEE: Yeah, I fell behind on that one, but I’m planning to catch up.
And my final sequel note is: Thunderbolt Fantasy still slaps! The end-of-season twists had me cackling, and I’m so hyped for more. Everybody should go watch the puppet show. Gen Urobuchi living his best life.
PETER: Oh shit. Also, Iruma-kun season 2 is actually very good. I’ve been enjoying it a lot.
DEE: Oh, good. Yeah, I’ve heard that one was fun. I just never got into it, but I’m glad it’s still staying the course and having a good time.
PETER: Yeah, they’re spending time with his classmates, and you meet more of the teachers and stuff. It definitely gets more… I don’t want to say “Hogwarts” because that’s just sad. But I can’t think of another example, so, Hogwarts, I guess, yeah.
DEE: Expands the cast and story and everything. Cool.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. More characters to love.
DEE: That’s great. Anything else? We are very over. Should I…
MERCEDEZ: I’m just gonna say Way of the Househusband ain’t worth it. Ain’t worth it.
PETER: Ooh! [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Don’t. Nuh-uh. Go watch the live action.
PETER: Oh, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, don’t watch the Netflix anime. You’re reading the manga in color on Netflix, essentially.
DEE: You do get some good vocal performances. It’s another one I will say the casting is really good for it.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, the casting is good. But maybe play it and read the manga along with your viewing.
DEE: [Chuckles] Kon did the best with what she was told to do, but ultimately it is a motion comic, so it is what it is.
MERCEDEZ: That’s all.
DEE: Okay. And we’ll probably do a Netflix retrospective at the end of the season to catch up on the shows in Netflix jail.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh boy.
DEE: So if we want to talk about that one more, we can.
Okay, I think I’m gonna go ahead and play us out. Thanks to everyone for hanging in. It was a stacked season. I don’t know if there was a ton that we adored, but I feel like there was a lot of good, solid, watchable stuff in there, so there was a lot to talk about. Yeah, so that’s our show.
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