Vrai, Peter, and Mercedez look back at a sequel-heavy 2021 Summer season!
Date Recorded: October 5th, 2021
Hosts: Vrai, Peter, and Mercedez
0:02:14 The Great Jahy Shall Not be Defeated!
0:04:28 Girlfriend, Girlfriend
0:05:08 The Case Study of Vanitas
0:05:41 Remake Our Life!
0:08:20 Fena: Pirate Princess
0:13:40 Sonny Boy
0:19:18 Kageki Shojo!
0:22:32 The aquatope on white sand
Sequels and continuing series
0:27:01 Tropical Rouge! PreCure
0:30:02 To Your Eternity
0:31:33 Tokyo Revengers
0:35:24 That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2
0:37:03 My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom X
0:39:54 Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S
0:51:18 Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. This is our summer 2021 retrospective. My name is Vrai Kaiser. I am the managing content editor for Anime Feminist. You can find my freelance work on Twitter @WriterVrai, or you can find the podcast I cohost about trash media and engaging with why media fails over @trashpod. And with me today once again are Peter and Mercedez.
PETER: Hello, I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an associate manager of social video at Crunchyroll and an editor here at Anime Feminist. On Twitter I’m @PeterFobian.
MERCEDEZ: Hello. I’m Mercedez and I am also an editor here at Anime Feminist, as well as a journalist for places like the Anime News Network and But Why Tho? And I am also a Japanese-to-English localization editor, proofreader, and QA. You can find me on Twitter @pixelatedlenses.
VRAI: So, if you are new to our retrospective format, what we do is usually we take our premiere digest, we start from the bottom, and we work our way up.
Because this is such a sequel-heavy season and it also has some shows that have weird timing, we are actually going to skip over anything below Feminist Potential that we don’t have updates on from the midseason podcast. So if we don’t mention it, you can go back to our midseason and either listen to it or read the transcript, and we’re feeling the same way about it that we were then more or less, because, y’all, there are so many sequels.
Also, as a side note, we won’t be discussing Heike Story this podcast. We are holding that off and counting it as part of the Fall, so you will hear about it then.
With that said, let’s get started! The first title we wanted to check in about was The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated, which, Mercedez, you were kind of not sure about last time, but I hear you have warmed up on it a lot.
MERCEDEZ: I think everyone who reads my reviews is probably very happy that I did. I was very worried last time, I believe, because Jahy in her child form has a shirt and only a shirt and some crocs. And I am proud to say that for once anime is not trash because thus far nothing sexual has happened to her when she looks like a child! It’s great. It’s a revolutionary new thing called giving children autonomy, and it’s great.
There’s been a few hiccups. It actually hasn’t been a largely sexual show. It’s just really the misadventures of a 20-something who happens to be a demoness trying to survive on Earth, which is a vibe that I think everyone can relate to. Even the bath episode that they had recently wasn’t really sexual. There was a moment where a character falls into a character’s breasts and it makes some weird noise.
But Jahy’s pretty good. And I didn’t expect to actually like this. I expected to come down a lot harder on the show. But it’s pretty solid.
MERCEDEZ: It does not have feminist potential. But that’s all right.
VRAI: It’s okay. Sometimes people just want a fun ensemble comedy that’s not too yikes-y, you know?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. And for a show that has its main character, when she’s in her actual adult form, in essentially pleather Daisy Dukes and some straps that cover up the important parts, it actually doesn’t lewd her at all, which was a shock. But that’s great. That’s what more anime should probably do.
VRAI: [Chuckles] Yeah, and if people are excited about it, it’s just going straight through to 24 episodes, right?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s gonna be two cours. I don’t know if it’s gonna be back to back or if it’s just gonna be straight 24. But yeah, it’s going to be 24 episodes and it’s great.
VRAI: Nice. Well, that’s good.
Also wanted to touch on Girlfriend, Girlfriend. I didn’t get around to watching it, but Chiaki did. It’s probably not going to be on our recs list, but she had a good time watching it in terms of… I think she described it as… It’s Taco Bell. It is trash food, but it’s maybe the healthiest version of the trash food that you could be getting.
I know that while she definitely had the ongoing caveats that she talked about in her three-episode, she ended up watching it all the way to the end and having a good time, so maybe check back on her writeup there, and if that appeals to you, that’s basically the experience all the way through.
Let’s see. Case Study of Vanitas we’re not going to talk about because I love it, it’s feelings, Noe is my son, but it’s basically doing—it’s continuing to do the stuff that it was doing in midseason. No more assault stuff to worry about. My God, is it beautiful at being erotic and not just fanservicey. But it’s staying the course, basically. So we’ll look forward to talking about that at the end of next season—er, actually, no, in winter, when the second cour starts up.
That jumps us up to Remake Our Life, which, Mercedez, you really liked.
MERCEDEZ: I really liked this, and I did not expect to like this because around episode 8 it took a sharp left to a second timeskip and didn’t give closure. I sometimes think closure can be a really good mechanism in a series. You don’t always have to have closure because a lot of times in real life you don’t.
But what it ultimately ended up doing was maybe what the millennial dream is: you time-travel, you learn from your lessons, and you do actually become the better person. I don’t think it did it flawlessly. But it did it well enough that I actually secretly think this might be the best show I saw this season, because it was pretty heartfelt. In the end I was like “Oh, okay.” I’m on the floor typing my review for ANN, crying because I was like “Oh, this is actually pretty good!” It’s actually really good. It’s definitely a finale. I don’t know if we’ll get the light novels in English. I would love them.
But it’s actually a really good show that’s just about one young man kind of figuring it all out. And that’s actually really nice to see. I know a lot of anime are about young men. But in this case, it’s a young man who, like, we see him cry, we see him emote, and that’s actually quite nice.
It was just really good. It was really good. I feel like I’m not doing it justice to how I felt because I still think about it weeks after it aired, but it was really good. And I encourage everyone to watch it.
VRAI: You mentioned some fanservice in the first half. Did that taper off in the back half of the show?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, once it got real sad, it tapered off for sure.
VRAI: [Chuckles] I can’t be sure with anime sometimes.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, episode 8, when it got real sad and I was like “I don’t really know what’s happening,” fanservice pretty much dropped out. Which I think was good, because it does a decade-long timeskip in its final arc that really eliminates any fanservice as a possibility because then it’s just adulthood. [Chuckles] But it’s good.
Yeah, I was actually really thankful that the character that had kind of been the focal point of fanservice, which I think people online were trying to convince me like, “She still has agency!” and I was like, “I don’t know if she does,” she actually shifts into a different position in relation to the main character, and it kind of is actually interesting. I wasn’t expecting it. So, yeah, light on the fanservice in the last half, heavy on the tears.
VRAI: Let’s go ahead and take a moment to talk about Fena: Pirate Princess because I think, based on the first few episodes, “It’s Complicated” is definitely where it would go. So, Peter, you haven’t had a chance to talk about anything yet. Do you want to start with your feelings? Or shall I get mine out of the way first, because I dropped it three episodes in?
PETER: Give me the tough one, eh?
VRAI: Yeah, you’re welcome.
PETER: Actually I also have kind of mixed feelings about it. Nick actually put it as his worst anime of the summer season, which I thought was maybe a little harsh, but I did agree with his reasoning for that, where he said, I wish the series would just play to its theme and let itself be fun.
Coming in, I was kind of expecting—and I think the first couple episodes kind of promised—a sort of fun pirate swashbuckling-type romp where they go on adventures and try to find Eden, Eldorado, whatever the hell it is. I’m not sure anymore.
But it’s become really navel-gazey with a lot of backstory for characters I don’t really… Like, I don’t care what Abel’s sad backstory is even if the episode was really pretty. And they’re doing a lot of talking about what Fena is, which I feel like they don’t need to do that much. And I think talking about what Fena is, is kind of preventing the story from actually developing her.
So I’m hoping that at some point, it just goes, “Okay, now we’re in the final arc where we’re all rushing to the place and we’re gonna do a lot of fighting and cool action stuff and have fun and maybe Fena gets to, I don’t know, show off some ninja tricks she learned or something, do something cool.”
But yeah, so far it’s been a lot of mystery, which I did not expect, and I think as a consequence Fena has just remained this focus character who hasn’t really gotten to do too much except to get captured.
VRAI: Yeah, which is a bummer. I know I definitely dropped it because I don’t mind if a female character ends up in peril or needing to be rescued early on in the show or what have you, because growth is a thing and that’s fine, but it felt like the show was constantly stalling on getting started on her getting to do any growth. And also her love interest sucks. I really hate Yukimaru. I did not enjoy the comedy slapstick stylings.
I know that Dee has been having a good time overall watching the show but [is] kind of frustrated with it not living up to its potential. She talked a little bit about how the show is theoretically doing some interesting stuff with how the antagonists either see Fena as a demon or a goddess, and then all the good guys are the people who see her as a complicated person. And that’s something, but also she keeps getting sidelined and damseled in her allegedly own story, and there’s not a lot of female characters who matter.
And apparently a bunch of them may or may not get killed off, so…
PETER: Oh, yeah, that was my least favorite one of the series. Yeah, I pretty much agree with the… I mean, at the same time, it’s really fun to watch still. The anime is gorgeous, and I feel like watching it is almost nostalgic because it feels like it’s from the ‘90s or something, where anime just had a lot of people working on them and it was kind of unusual when one had budgetary or staffing issues—or maybe not unusual, but that was something you’d actually recognize about the series rather than expect.
I have not identified a single cut corner in this series. It’s gorgeous. So, in that way, I just kind of feel like I don’t have to constantly be reminded that anime often has production issues for various not-great reasons, watching this show. So, in that way, I have enjoyed it a lot.
VRAI: Yeah, it definitely desperately wants to be an Adult Swim anime from like 2004. That is very much the vibe I got from it.
PETER: [Chuckles] Jason DeMarco said, “Give me a classic.”
VRAI: [Chuckles] But I’m glad it’s at least a fun time, even if it seems to also have a very loose grasp of the Girl Power thing it thinks it’s going for. So, we’ll check back in on it when it finishes and see if it manages to right the course to some degree at the end.
PETER: Would that be in our fall midseason? [Chuckles]
VRAI: I don’t even know, because it’s weird. Why did it have to premiere at such a weird time?
PETER: So many anime are doing that this season.
VRAI: We’ll figure it out.
PETER: I think I have to watch the whole thing before really forming an opinion on it—whether it’s something I enjoyed that got a slow start and meandered for a bit, or just never hit what it looked like the series was going to become because it was a bunch of really cool pirate stuff starting off.
VRAI: Well, on the subject of shows that nailed their landing, Sonny Boy was really good.
PETER: Mm. Kinda nailed the landing.
VRAI: Well, okay, so I think the last… I’m not upset in that I think the last episode doesn’t counteract any of the themes of the show. I think it’s unnecessary in that a lot of the stuff it… So, the show climaxes in episode 11. It’s this really beautiful series about the terror of growing up and learning to have agency and feeling like your life is predestined for you and also optimistic nihilism because nothing matters, there’s no meaning, and isn’t that beautiful, because we all manage to find each other in this moment.
I thought it was 11 really good episodes that are beautifully, artistically designed. And even when it wasn’t emotionally impactful, it was always sort of intellectually interesting. On Twitter I compared it to the 2003 Kino’s Journey, which is about the highest compliment I can pay this kind of show.
VRAI: And at the end of episode 11, it kind of has this setting-off-on-a-journey finale and they play the theme song and it’s full of feelings and my heart was full, and it’s a perfectly good ending to the show.
And then episode 7 [sic] is set back in the real world. I have seen some people say that they liked the more bittersweet element of it: you know, we weren’t able to change anything, but we still chose to come back to the real world, and there’s value in that. And I can see getting that out of the show, and I respect that. I think that I prefer the more open ending of 11 because everything that happened in 12 was kind of implied, but it just didn’t feel necessary, I guess.
PETER: Yeah, that’s my feeling. I don’t feel like the last episode did anything that I felt like I needed to see after the episode before it. I felt like the ending of the penultimate episode was literally like a perfect ending for the series.
I don’t think I really liked how the final episode centered things around Nagara. I don’t know, I kind of got the feeling, before, that the series was about all of the characters. But in the end, it really kind of centered it around Nagara specifically needing to overcome his Shinji Ikari moment or whatever, where he decides to struggle and live and be optimistic and everything, rather than that just being all the characters fighting against their own emotional inertia.
I mean, he is the main character, I guess, but before that, it felt like more of an ensemble cast and everybody had their own sort of perspective looking at this. And then at the end, it’s mostly just about Nagara having to deal with it.
VRAI: I guess it’s about him letting go of his crush, which was an ending I respect. But yeah, I also prefer that in 11 it ends on this strong note of saying goodbye to the ensemble, and the fact that Nagara has a platonic friendship with Mizuho is the real central relationship of the show is really cool.
PETER: But then, in the last episode, I got the feeling, when she walked away, they were never gonna see each other again. They were just like, “Yeah, we remember each other,” but it almost felt like it said they needed to not use each other as crutches or something. I got the feeling that they were kind of saying goodbye.
VRAI: Oh, yeah, definitely. But I just mean in general you see basically no shows that really emphasize a platonic relationship between a boy and a girl.
PETER: Yeah, that’s true. I think in a lot of shows Mizuho would have gotten an upgrade to girlfriend after stuff happens. But that’s true.
I also didn’t like how in the final episode— I think one of the cool things about the penultimate episode was it kind of showed you the positives of the crazy world they were into. It’s messed up, but especially with Rajdhani, he really loved that world. And I felt like their leaving was stronger for the fact that you could have the perspective that it was a good place for this uncertainty of the real world, almost. The world they left is a more uncertain and scary place than the one that they were leaving.
And then in the episode after that, it kind of established that everything had gone to shit, and their leaving was definitely the right choice because everybody else was super fucked. And that just felt like it undermined them really stepping into an uncertain future, the last episode.
VRAI: I didn’t super get that impression. It sounded like Rajdhani was still quite enjoying his life. He had just also changed shape and become something else, which was where his character arc was going anyway. But yeah, it really brings the focus down someplace else than where we had been escalating and escalating, which I can respect artistically, but I didn’t need it.
PETER: Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s just how I feel about the last episode. [Chuckles] I didn’t need it.
VRAI: Yeah. But yeah, Sonny Boy is really freaking good. Let’s see what… I’m actually a little bit behind on Kageki Shojo still.
VRAI: I haven’t watched the last three episodes. So, Mercedez, you go.
MERCEDEZ: Yes! Kageki Shojo was really good. It’s really, really, really good.
VRAI: Did it end in a good place?
MERCEDEZ: It ended in a good place. It did something that I actually like, which is ended in a good place that would allow for “Kageki Shoujo: The Second Curtain.” That’s what I’m calling the second season—it’s gotta have a little tagline—because we don’t know if there’s a second season. There’s more manga; there’s a lot more they could do. It ended in a place that allows for a second season but also was an ending enough that you can imagine what might happen, say, when they do the graduation performance.
I liked it. I really liked it. I think it was a great ride the entire way through. It’s not perfect, but I think people have to stop looking for perfection in media, because it’s never going to happen, because it’s made by humans, and we by proxy are not perfect creators.
What I think it did well was I think it told a shoujo drama that also felt very true to life. And I actually really found myself really anticipating it every week and [getting] really excited. The last three episodes, I think, are the strongest because they really show off a few different characters, and there’s some queerness in it, which is great. I mean, it’s queerness that actually is more tangential to a character than it is overt queerness. But that’s good. I really liked it. I think it’s a really great show and I think it’s one of the standouts of summer 2021.
VRAI: I think there is definitely a marked shift from when it changes over from the seinen run to the shoujo run, and I think the shoujo stuff is engaging with less fraught topics but also seems surer of itself as a character drama. And I think that’s a certain tradeoff, and I respect it trying to swing for the fences in a respectful way. But as we discussed at the midseason, it was a mixed bag, so I kind of like it going the route it does.
MERCEDEZ: And I will say—actually ironically, because one of my bigger issues was how they handled Ayako’s disordered eating. And she, my girl, my precious child, gets a second swing at the end, and it’s actually a really beautiful episode that talks about realizing in the moment that someone was in love with you that also happens to be your same gender.
And it’s this really beautiful moment that empowers her. She uses the power of this queer love that her friend had for her prior to coming to Kouka to give this really stunning performance—I mean genuinely stunning, kind of breathtaking, very dramatic performance—that I didn’t know was gonna happen and the voice actor certainly carries, and it’s a really powerful moment. And so I think Kageki Shojo fumbles it a lot less once it moves away from melodrama into just mundane, day-to-day drama.
VRAI: Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for season 2—which we don’t have to do for Aquatope on White Sand because it has carried right on into the second cour. We have 13 episodes now. It’s really good.
MERCEDEZ: It’s really good. Episode 12 made me weep like a child. It is really good. It’s just really good.
VRAI: It is impressive how… I like the first episode of the new cour, but it is impressive how the first 12 feel like a complete story that you could just take on its own if you wanted.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, and I think that’s actually really quite artful that it’s like that, because the first 12 episodes… Because I’m still reviewing Aquatope, one of the things in episode 13 there’s this different energy, because we’re not at Gama Gama Aquarium anymore, so, the kid gloves have kind of been taken off.
Kukuru is clearly older. I don’t really know how much time ahead episode 13 is because it has this sense of timelessness that this could be a matter of a year, this could be a little bit longer… I get the feeling it’s a little bit longer only because clearly some of the other folks from Gama Gama had been working there for a minute.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s a couple of months to a year.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. It’s interesting though, and it has this different energy. The first cour is very much so… I guess I should say the first half is very much so about Kukuru and Fuuka as children. And this new one is very much so about them as adults, or at least as young women, and it’s really good. It’s a really good first episode.
I like that Kukuru goes from being director to schlubbing it in the PR department, which she hates, she hates. She doesn’t get it. I really liked Chiyu in her episode. I liked that she is still kind of snotty and kind of stuck up a little about… you know, she gets to work with the animals, but Kukuru from her perspective has always had these kid gloves on and has been playing with these animals, kind of gets put in her place from her perspective. It’s a lot of good, complex stuff happening, and I’m really hyped to see where it goes.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s definitely got that Shirobako energy in this second half, where it’s about young women entering the workforce and all of the shit work that comes with that and the frustrations when your dream isn’t immediately wonderful.
MERCEDEZ: Very much so. And it’s still a beautiful show. Episode 13 was gorgeous. I wish I knew a better term than “magical realism” because I do realize that the phrase “magical realism” is quite fraught when used outside of, if I’m correct, a Hispanic context.
VRAI: I tend to use “fabulism.” I find it’s a good, broader umbrella.
MERCEDEZ: Okay. I appreciate that. Yeah, the fabulism aspect is yet to be seen in episode 13. We haven’t seen the little… oh, I think it’s a kishimuna [sic]? I don’t know, the little fish-head-eating god. We’ve yet to see that return and the magic of Gama Gama, but I’m really excited. Aquatope is where it’s at. It’s probably not gonna be gay. But, well, that’s okay.
VRAI: You hold that ship in your heart. It’s a good ship.
MERCEDEZ: I am sailing the Seven Yuri Seas on the SS Fukuru or Kuka. Take whichever pairing you want, people. I’m sailing the seas. I might be the only person sailing the seas at this point. But I’m still here.
PETER: They really lean the hell into that thing, and then they just slap you with “I’m your big sister.” I think they’re on seven or eight times now where you’re like, “Oh, but are they actually going to do it?” and then she’s like, “I’m like your big sister, right?” You son of a bitch.
MERCEDEZ: Then they had the audacity to be like, “Oh, Kukuru, you had a twin that died at childbirth!” You’re like, wait, okay, okay, so is Fuuka gonna step in and be the twin she didn’t get, or are they gonna kiss? I don’t really know at this point, but it’s good stuff. It’s a good story just about young women, at least at base. But if I have to hear the word “sister” again, I’m gonna flip a table.
VRAI: [Chuckles] Yeah, no, respect.
That gets us through the new premieres of the summer season. Let’s get into sequels! Oh, how do we want to do this? I guess let’s start at the bottom and go up.
Peter, that’s too much to cover. But in a minute or two, is there anything you’d like to say about Tropical-Rouge PreCure, a show I really liked and simply have not had time to watch?
PETER: Well, to be honest, I kind of fell off, too, because I don’t even know how long the series is going to be. And when you’re—
VRAI: Probably about 50. That seems standard.
PETER: Yeah, I guess that’s the PreCure standard. But when you’re staring down the barrel of that many episodes and there’s no end in sight, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it. You know what I mean? Unless it’s literally your job.
But yeah, I can say that recently they had a pretty outstanding episode, which I think was 29. Sakuga Blog did a really good piece on how it had this new… I think they call them “generational talents director.” I think it was specifically a “her,” but don’t quote me on that, actually. Just read the Sakuga Blog piece, it’s good, please.
And I can definitely see they’re heading into some late-game stuff with them talking about the Legendary Cure, which was, I guess, the first Tropical Cure or something like that. It’s not quite clear yet. It’s definitely still doing the thing it was doing early on, being funny, having good action. The girls [are] great.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Still slaps. Still slaps.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, for one, am very happy that the mermaid ended up being able to become a Cure, too.
PETER: Yeah, there is kind of an area where the character who provides the power to the magical girls, usually a mascot but not always, is able to contribute. But I think they had a really good character arc with… God, I can’t remember her name right now.
MERCEDEZ: Princess Laura, Cure La Mer, the best. Shoutout to my girl.
PETER: Oh, that was a good story arc. She was hanging out with the humans and kinda got jealous of their feet, and then was able to run around and punch bad guys with the rest of the girls, which was very good. Chef’s kiss.
MERCEDEZ: Very good. Very good.
VRAI: All right, so if you like PreCure, you’ll continue to like PreCure.
PETER: Oh yeah. Shocking. [Chuckles]
VRAI: It hasn’t taken any extremely weird late-game twists.
PETER: Mm-hm. Yeah, and actually, I think they’re starting to develop some stuff with the villain, which might be pretty interesting. I don’t want to necessarily say “queer” yet, but… And not like the very rough history of magical girl queerness and villainy, but like she might have a semi-tragic backstory, which I guess is pretty fraught in and of itself. But I think they’re definitely trying to humanize her through that rather than borrow visual aesthetics to indicate she’s a villain.
MERCEDEZ: Mm. Okay, okay.
VRAI: Okay. All right, To Your Eternity, which I hear kind of fell apart towards the end. I, once again, have simply not had time.
PETER: I think “fallen apart” is a strong word. I definitely think that its production was still pretty good—above average, I’ll say—as far as the seasonal anime you’d watch. It just didn’t maintain that level of majesty that it had in maybe the first six or seven episodes and especially episode 1. Its final episode was every bit as good as episode 1, both from a narrative, sound design, and animation quality perspective.
I thought they found a really good place to end it, or at least ended until we get season 2 next year. It’s hard to talk about the series itself because its premise is very loaded, and just describing what happens is essentially spoiling the fate of many characters that Fushi encounters. So, I’m never quite sure how much I should tell people. But I think it’s a very interesting story structure. Oima is really galaxy-braining with this series.
VRAI: It’s one of those Big Feeling series about how death gives life meaning, and that’s not a ride everybody wants to take, but it is valuable to be out there. I’ll probably circle back around to it at some point. And we are getting another season, eventually, maybe?
PETER: Yeah, I think next year they’re picking it back up.
VRAI: Okay, anything to say about Tokyo Revengers or Slime season 2?
PETER: Tokyo Revengers. I guess I gotta say Hinata definitely just kind of… She shows up occasionally, but she’s kind of like the precipitating incident. You can’t time-travel without having to save a girl, right? That’s the only reason.
PETER: That’s not even resolved, but it expands into this big gangster tragedy that happened. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. The main character Takemichi’s trying to fix this really bad event that happened 12 years ago that really negatively affected everybody in the lives of… They’re like a yanki kind of youth gang, so I don’t really want to villainize them. They eventually become yakuza or something like it, and the way they do business is kind of informed by that in the present, assuming they’re even still alive, depending upon which character you’re talking about.
I definitely think that the show becomes one of those series where it’s all boys and the boys have these very emotionally resonant relationships with one another, which definitely appeals to a certain kind of viewer. It’s a lot of Takemichi really soulfully respecting the rebellious spirit of a lot of these other boys, which I think is definitely what has caused the series to develop such a big following among women.
VRAI: It’s very homoerotic. I got you.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, it’s definitely got that going for it, and I, myself, have really enjoyed how it’s developed. It kinda had a huge cliffhanger in the end, and I don’t think they’ve said anything about a second season yet. If it ends where it ended, it’s really brutal. But I can definitely see how that would successfully sell some manga because people would want to know what the hell happens after that crazy moment.
VRAI: I feel like there’s something to be written about Tokyo Revengers’ prominence in a world where Yakuza, the franchise, is very popular, and there’s kind of this Yakuza and Househusband—and this kind of cuddly yakuza fiction boom. But I’m just spinning thoughts idly and I have nothing more to say to that because Tokyo Revengers was not for me.
PETER: Yeah. I do think there’s something to that, although I would say Tokyo Revengers is actually maybe even a bit harsher because a lot of the content of the story is when they’re still kids and they’re kind of just rowdy. They definitely are dealing with a lot of brutal stuff, but it’s very like… I don’t know if I’m just gonna reference a series that people are unfamiliar with, but Shonan Junai Gumi, the predecessor to Great Teacher Onizuka, that kind of thing.
And then when it goes to the future when they’re all official gangsters, everyone seems to be fucking miserable. And it gets really dark because I think at that point they’re fully criminals and are usually led by some kind of… I don’t want to say “a malignant force” among what is essentially kind of a malignant organization, but being in these positions and having to do the things they do has really ruined their lives.
VRAI: Right, which is an interesting contrast from some other…
PETER: Socially and morally, some of these guys are hollowed out and miserable, and that’s why Takemichi feels like he really needs to save them.
VRAI: Well, I guess we’ll see if it gets more made. I keep saying that I wish shounen anime that doesn’t care about female characters would just not have female characters in it and then I would respect them just infinitely more.
PETER: Like New Game! but for boys?
MERCEDEZ: Vrai, be careful. Don’t curl that monkey’s paw. Don’t curl that monkey’s paw.
VRAI: No, you’re right.
MERCEDEZ: Uh-uh. Uh-uh.
PETER: Shonen Jump announces its first girl-less series.
VRAI: Okay. Yeah, so, Reincarnated as a Slime season 2. Was this the one with the genocide or have we moved past that?
PETER: Yeah, we have part 2 of the one with the genocide. So, yeah. Rimuru is a war criminal now.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, no.
PETER: But nobody thinks that in this series. What he did was what he needed to do, right? It was absolutely necessary. He’s still a lovable slime who just wants the best for all of his friends, even though he killed like 10,000 people who had surrendered to him and then used their soul to cast infernal magic.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, Rimuru, no.
PETER: Yeah, but they defeated the bad guy, so everything’s great.
PETER: It putzed around for a long time. I think three-fourths of the series was just them talking about how they were going to kick the bad guy’s ass, but then in the last three episodes they had a lot of fighting. It was a very weird season for me. Slime Diaries is where it’s at, though.
VRAI: Okay, gotcha. So if you’re disappointed with Slime proper, maybe give Slime Diaries a go instead.
PETER: Yeah, I think that technically occurs chronologically before Rimuru did the war crime, too, so if you ever watch Today’s Menu with Emiya Family, what that is to Fate, it is to Slime.
MERCEDEZ: I never thought there would be a day where I had the thought, “Wow, a slime broke the Geneva Convention.”
PETER: Oh, yeah.
MERCEDEZ: But here we are.
VRAI: I don’t know, I’ve heard some things about the Dragon Quest composer.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, yeah, that—
VRAI: That was a dark joke. We’re moving on. [Chuckles]
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, well, yeah. Mm, mm.
VRAI: Oh, yes… Let’s just move into another disappointment, which is the second season of My Life as a Villainess, and I did not care for it.
MERCEDEZ: Is it bad?
VRAI: It has a few fun episodes and moments, but boy, can you tell that it was a cash grab. I know that the light novels kind of… I don’t know if they get good again. But I know they find their footing in as far as the author invents, “Oh, there was a ‘Fortune Lover II’ that she never played, and now what will she do with this new plot at the Ministry?”
But this second series is just wheel-spinning nonsense where “Let’s redo the kidnapping plot and also let’s give a lot more spotlight to show Geordo and Keith, objectively the worst love interests in her polycule…” And the girls are extremely sidelined. I didn’t actually hate the new dude, Rufus, aside from the whole bed-pinning bullshit.
MERCEDEZ: Is this the series that has Serious Dick in it? Is that what his name was? Is this the one?
VRAI: That’s not how it’s pronounced, but yes.
MERCEDEZ: Oh no! Oh no!
PETER: A lot of kissing Catarina without asking first, either.
MERCEDEZ: Oh, no, that’s not great. That’s not great.
VRAI: The Keith shit and the season finale where he forces the kiss on her and then blames her for looking too appealing, I… fucking… why?
PETER: Yeah, he said, “You need to learn to be more careful around men,” or something like that. Like, oh, does she? [Chuckles] Maybe somebody else needs to learn something?
MERCEDEZ: Well, that just sucks. [Chuckles]
VRAI: There is a nice episode given to Nicol, who has been completely bland and featureless up to that point, but Alan, the best boy, is sidelined. There’s not really a lot of time spent with Maria or Mary—and I hear it’s better than the actual light novels for this stretch. I hear it rearranges some stuff in ways that’s at least more appealing and does some neat stuff with the side stories. But yeah, it’s a waste of time that actively detracted from my opinion of the first season.
MERCEDEZ: That’s really a shame that it went that way.
PETER: There’s a movie.
VRAI: Yeah, there’s gonna be a movie.
MERCEDEZ: God, who in the universe curled that monkey’s paw? Oof.
VRAI: It was very popular, Mercedez.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot capitalism.
MERCEDEZ: That’s who called the monkey’s paw, always. Well…
VRAI: All right, we gotta do the thing now. We gotta talk about Dragon Maid. Should I go first, because—
PETER: I think you want to.
VRAI: I do.
VRAI: I do. So, I liked season 1. I was one of the people in Camp “It has this troubling content, but on the whole I felt like there was more wholesome found-family stuff with our two moms and their daughter than there was creepy pedophile shit.”
MERCEDEZ: Same, same.
VRAI: And it was a very precarious balance. The Valentine’s OVA is the epitome of the two polar ends that are Dragon Maid, where there’s the “I need to bleach my skin off” section with the chocolate roofies and then there’s the really nice hot springs chapter. So that kind of set me on the edge a little bit, and then season 2 came out.
And by episode 3, not only had we had… Whatever, there’s jiggle titties. I can live with that. But once we had Kobayashi grow a dick, which made her magically horny, which then made her magically horny for her daughter when she was sitting in her lap, which I don’t…
Look, I’m sure people are saying that I am a triggered liberal cuck or whatever, but I feel mostly insulted for single fathers, that the mere presence of having a dick means that you want to bone your child every time they sit on you. Or indeed for dick-havers in general, who are apparently just raging rape machines constantly holding it down at every moment of the day. Or also, if we wanted, apparently not having a dick means that you can’t possibly be horny, for a woman. There are people who do not have dicks who are extremely horny, and I just…
And so, after I sat through that hell, I happened to be at a bookstore, where I opened the…
MERCEDEZ: Oh no, Vrai. Don’t tell me you opened the manga.
VRAI: I opened the most recent volume of the manga. And right next to what looked like a very nice story about Tohru and Emi working out their relationship and maybe some of the romantic tension that’s maybe there a little bit, there was a short story about Lucoa giving Shota tongue and spitting in his mouth.
VRAI: And then I decided: fuck Dragon Maid forever. It’s never going to get better. It’s only going to be me increasingly deluding myself that the gross parts will not be gross.
And I think there is this tendency that some people have where they’re… KyoAni went through a horrible tragedy. It is awful, and I am so glad to see them back on their feet and working again. And I really respect the culture that KyoAni wants to foster, where it spends a lot of time on teaching animators and providing support for them in terms of childcare, in terms of more reasonable working hours for the industry. I can respect the hell out of that and not need to champion the show that they’ve made.
And it’s also got the baggage that the first season, that I ended up liking and that downplayed so much of the gross shit, is the last work of a man who’s no longer with us, and so that’s haunting this new series.
Sorry, go ahead.
MERCEDEZ: I think it’s the two things can exist at once, right? What happened to KyoAni… I remember that day, because I was at my desk in Fukushima, Japan, watching the footage as the building burned. I vividly remember seeing the death count and seeing people. And so, it’s great that in this very literal, allegorical way they’ve risen like a phoenix from the ashes. KyoAni’s back and they’re doing it.
I will also say… and I’m gonna call my past self out because I do like some of Coolkyousinnjya’s work. I think I said that at midseason. I was like, “Yeah, one of my favorite manga is by him.” I will say that the thing that also exists is a lot of his work is really gross. A lot of his work is very misogynistic and it’s also really transphobic. There’s no excuse for that. There’s just no excuse for that, and it deeply reflects—because I do believe Coolkyousinnjya identifies as a male—it really reflects this internalized and externalized misogyny and transmisogyny that is in a lot of Dragon Maid.
Dragon Maid is a sweet series, and I like the first season a lot. Dragon Maid is also a series in which we’re supposed to find it funny that an adult woman is constantly attempting to sexually assault and, by proxy of his age, rape a child. And that’s not a joke. That’s not funny. Nor is the first few episodes of Dragon Maid, wherein Kobayashi does gain a penis and all of the sudden almost commits bad sexual acts. It’s just not funny in 2021 or ever.
So I’m kind of with you, Vrai. It’s not great. It’s not great at all. And it really says a lot that Coolkyousinnjya keeps getting away with this and also keeps getting allowed to have anime made that his name is attached to that also keep doing this.
And this is all of his works. All of his manga is like this. The rule for a lot of his manga is like, and this is rather gross, the larger a character that he has drawn and written as female, the larger their bust is, the more sexual they are, which is gross. Throw that in the garbage.
And it’s a shame that Dragon Maid Season 2 kind of is like “Yikes: The Series.” I don’t know. It’s just not great and I have a lot of thoughts, too.
VRAI: I know a lot of people have mentioned that the stuff with Ilulu’s backstory is really heartfelt, and I believe that. I fully believe that. But it’s like once the scale tipped for me, I could never see the good parts of the series as anything but a flimsy scrim over this stuff that they are actively marketing and will never stop doing.
MERCEDEZ: And a lot of my issue, too, is people often say with anime, “Oh, well, they toned it down from the manga.” Y’all, that doesn’t make it better! That just means that the manga is out there, existing. And, I mean, Dragon Maid, they toned it down from the manga, a lot. They tone down a lot of the sexualization, a lot of the unnecessary fanservice. Because there’s fanservice that we enjoy.
VRAI: Right, there’s fun boob jokes in season 1 that are genuinely funny.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, but a fun boob joke is not Lucoa trying to Marshmallow Heaven Shota. That’s not funny. He’s a child. And I know someone out there is gonna be like, “Well, Mercedez, the age of consent in Japan is 13.” Fuck off with that! If that doesn’t… I’m sorry, am I allowed to say a swear? I don’t know if I could take that back.
VRAI: You can say a swear. You can say a swear, Mercedez.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, fuck off with that, though. It’s not funny. And it’s really a shame that… I know KyoAni. I’m sure there were things in place, like that they were already on tap to do season 2. But once that switch is flipped, you’re like, “Oh God. Oh God!” It really detracts from what could have just been a great story. And it’s a shame.
VRAI: Yeah. How about you, Peter? You made it all the way to the end, right?
PETER: Yeah. I’ll start off by saying, well, two things. First, I totally agree with you that the defenses for Dragon Maid were kind of psychotic. Just reading them, it’s like “What the fuck are you even saying?” where somebody would say, “I think this content is really bad. I don’t know why KyoAni made it,” and they’re like “Do you know what KyoAni’s been through?”
These are two entirely different subjects. And conflating them, it seems like you’re weaponizing what happened to KyoAni so that you get what you want, even though this is entirely unrelated to that, so I do not appreciate anybody doing that.
VRAI: Not so much psychotic as chuddy. The chud for days.
PETER: Yeah. Yeah, I actually am offended by people bringing that up in the context of criticisms toward Dragon Maid. So, that’s first off.
Second off, I really did enjoy season 2 of Dragon Maid. All the content around Ilulu, I’m definitely just like, “Get this character out of my face.” I can’t remember any part of the series that she was in that I really thought like “Oh, I’m so glad this character’s here.”
It did have good moments. I really liked the character development between Tohru and Elma. I thought they had a really great character arc in it. So, there’s definitely a lot of stuff that you can enjoy from season 1, but pretty much everything you two brought up is spot on with a lot of the weird shit.
Definitely, if they wanted, they could have cut out the entire dick saga entirely. It didn’t affect anything. It was like a quarter of an episode worth of content… You could have just removed it and none of us would ever have to talk about it.
MERCEDEZ: I don’t understand why it got put in. I don’t understand why, because surely, surely someone at KyoAni was probably like, “You know, this really isn’t great, in 2021 especially.” And I know they were working on it before, but someone had to have been like, “This is probably not really great. It’s kind of transphobic, and by ‘kind of’ I mean ‘a lot.’ And it’s just not great for anyone.” Surely that could have been cut and nothing would have been lost.
PETER: Yep, nothing would have been lost.
MERCEDEZ: It’s just a shame. And it’s a shame that someone out there is like, “Well, did you know that KyoAni went through a disaster?” Yeah, yeah, we do. But transphobia doesn’t get to exist because of a disaster. Sexualizing children doesn’t get to exist because of a disaster.
It really detracts from the fact that… I believe the death total was 36 people. So, 36 people were murdered! You don’t get to just leverage their lives as some weird social anime otaku currency so that you can have really offensive things in anime. I believe the kids say, touch grass. So, go do that, whoever out there is like, “Hm. Well, KyoAni rose like a phoenix from the ashes, so they get to have sexualization of children or weird jokes about genitalia.”
VRAI: Yeah, it bums me out.
Let’s end on a slightly happier note. I feel contractually obligated because we dunked on it just a little bit in our Madoka retrospective. I actually quite like Magia Record.
MERCEDEZ: How is it?
VRAI: So, it’s a mess because it’s based on a mobile game. And the only series based on a mobile game that’s ever not been a mess in my experience was Princess Connect, and we’ll see how season 2 goes. But the things it succeeds at I quite like.
I really enjoy Inu Curry’s take on the universe. I like that the ensemble cast means it’s kind of taking this tack of… If the original Madoka was this story about girls feeling very isolated by the system and how these miscommunications make them feel alone in this terrifying world until the end, then Magia Record is about: given the existence of this very unfair system, how do these girls begin to band together to fight it?
MERCEDEZ: Oh! Love a female friendship story.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, the really good parts of Magia Record honestly feel like the best parts of Rebellion.
VRAI: And it can be a frustrating struggle because the series at once is unwelcoming to newcomers because there’s actually a fair amount of appearances by the cast of the original series, but also, it feels weirdly repetitive if you know Madoka, because a big part of the first cour is that it builds up to the main character finding out about witches. So it’s this extremely bizarre push and pull where you kind of have this question of “Who is this for, then?”
But then you’ll have the first episode of season 2, which is about one of Homura’s rewinds, where they’re fighting the witch with the clotheslines, where they have this beautiful breakthrough that actually they’re much more powerful, the three of them, if they work together, and they go into it knowing that magical girls turn into witches.
But Homura goes after Madoka, saying, “Well, I’m going to go, and I guess, Sayaka, you can run and hide from this, but I’m going to go, and if you don’t come after me, then nobody will.” And so it ends on this beautiful note that they don’t have anybody but each other, but maybe each other is enough.
And episodes like that are just… They’re so good! And it’s at moments like that, individual character arcs, where Magia Record truly feels like a worthwhile experience and often a very beautifully animated one.
MERCEDEZ: Okay! Okay.
VRAI: So it can be frustrating in that through the first season you’re like, “Why are you introducing me to eight different girls? And I don’t remember any of these people’s names or what they do. I don’t know, but it looks pretty and I guess that’s enough.” And then there will be some character episodes that are genuinely good, and either that is enough to be satisfying in the sort of slurry mess that is the whole thing or it’s not.
The second season has only been eight episodes because I think there have been some production issues, but they are quite a step up from the first one. And there is going to be a third and apparently final season coming in winter. We’ll see how that does. It’s the kind of series that wouldn’t make my rec list in a strong season, but in a slightly more threadbare one, I would definitely give it a shout because I’ve enjoyed watching it even though it’s messy.
MERCEDEZ: Okay. But messy can be good and it sounds like, yeah, this is good.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, I really like seeing the rules of the Madoka franchise as run by two women creators. Obviously they’re visual artists first and foremost, but Inu Curry have been coming up with some really interesting thoughts. So yeah, that’s Magia Record. It’s doing its best.
MERCEDEZ: Aren’t we all, though.
PETER: Guess I’ll check it out.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah. We’re all doing our best on this witch labyrinth of a planet.
VRAI: I’ll be real: you could probably watch some of the episodes from the first season at 1.25 speed. That would probably be fine.
PETER: I feel like I’m gonna have to, to remember what the hell’s going on a year later.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, it’s okay. There’s only like five characters who actually matter.
PETER: Oh, good.
VRAI: You’re good. There’s not-Madoka, there’s not-Homura, and then there is… Yeah, fuck.
PETER: The OGs.
VRAI: Right. There’s the OG characters. There is the cult leader.
VRAI: Oh yeah, by the way, there’s a magical girl cult. Yeah, it invents this thing called Doppels, which is allegedly about how magical girls can turn into witches for short periods of time and weaponize that and it’s reversible, but obviously this is a double edge.
Like I said, there’s interesting ideas here. I don’t know if it knows what it’s doing. But it’s got a lot of ideas, and I can respect that in my fancy big-budget fanfic.
MERCEDEZ: I was gonna say, we stan a messy anime that might not know whatever is going on. We love it. It’s great.
VRAI: Yay. All right, well, we did it! It’s an hour. Good job, team. If you are wondering at home why we didn’t talk about Godzilla Singular Point or Beastars, once again, the Netflix anime will be receiving their own episode next year, so don’t worry about that.
PETER: Oh boy.
VRAI: It’ll be fun, Peter. I’m reading the Beastars manga. It never stops!
PETER: I see.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I was just gonna say if anyone wanted to know about Beastars, just go read Vrai’s tweet thread.
VRAI: It never stops!
MERCEDEZ: It’s a hoot and a holler, y’all.
PETER: Everyone’s looking forward to hearing more of my Beastars takes when we talk about season 2.
VRAI: Oh, yes. As I recall, they were very popular. [Chuckles]
PETER: Mm-hm. Oh, yep. Everybody loves my opinions on Beastars.
VRAI: [Laughs] All right, so look forward to that, listeners. And in the meantime, if you liked what you heard or read here today, you can find more from us by going to animefeminist.com. If you really liked what you heard, consider tossing us $1 a month on our Patreon at patreon.com/animefeminist.
I really cannot emphasize enough how much even that seemingly small contribution helps us to continue making new content on the page and in your eardrums. It’s so we can pay our editors and our transcriptionists and our contributors and do cool stuff like new recommendation pages and seasonal premieres. Really, we cannot do it without you.
And until next time, because oh Lord, it’s already fall—wow, what?—take a nap and then maybe watch some more anime.
MERCEDEZ: You could always watch Jahy.