Dee, Vrai, and Peter check in on the Fall season, from plucky princes to rollerblading tokusatsu heroes.
Date Recorded: November 14th, 2021
Hosts: Dee, Vrai, and Peter
0:02:47 Visual Prison
0:05:05 takt op.Destiny
0:12:36 Muteking the Dancing Hero
0:19:28 Lupin the 3rd Pt 6
0:23:51 Irina the Vampire Cosmonaut
0:29:01 The Faraway Paladin
0:31:20 Digimon Ghost Game
0:36:17 Banished from the Hero’s Party
0:38:57 Taisho Otome Fairytale
0:41:30 The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window
0:44:20 Komi Can’t Communicate
0:49:27 Blue Period
0:52:38 Ranking of Kings
0:58:26 The Heike Story
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, one of the managing editors at AniFem. You can find most of my writings on my blog, The Josei Next Door, and you can also hang out with me on Twitter @joseinextdoor. And I am joined today by my fellow AniFem staffers, Vrai and Peter. If you would like to introduce yourselves?
VRAI: Hey, I’m Vrai Kaiser. I’m the managing content editor here at AniFem. I’m tired. [Chuckles] You can find me freelancing on Twitter @WriterVrai, which is where I post all my stuff I do outside of AniFem, or you can find the podcast I cohost about what makes trash and failed media interesting over @trashpod.
DEE: And we appreciate you joining us, Vrai, despite you recovering from a cold, so thank you for being here.
VRAI: Gonna try so hard not to cough for you in the edit, Peter.
PETER: Aw, thank you. And I’m Peter Fobian. I’m social video at Crunchyroll, and I am an editor here at Anime Feminist. On Twitter I am @PeterFobian.
DEE: And today we are looking into the Fall 2021 season. It’s our mid-season check-in. There are so many shows this season, really just an absurd number of shows, shows for days. So, we—
VRAI: It’s silly, is what it is.
DEE: It is quite frankly too many anime. And because of that and because we want to have time to talk about some of the ones higher up on the list, because there is some discourse today—saddle up on your disk horses—we’re going to go ahead and skip everything from Yellow Flags down; partly because Peter’s the only one watching anything from that down, and we talked with him beforehand and he said things are pretty much going the way they were prior, so there’s no real reason to talk about them. So we’d rather focus on the stuff further up our list.
And these are based on the way we categorized the shows at the premiere review. So, obviously some things will have changed and shifted, and we’ll talk about that as the episode progresses.
VRAI: Probably worth noting also that normally we record these the weekend that they go out, but because of scheduling things we will be a week early, so a new episode will have come out by the time this podcast airs. Sorry.
DEE: Yeah, that’s a good point. Hey, we do not have to apologize for that. We’re very busy people. And it’s fine. Everyone’s always a week behind anyway, so it’s all good. Yeah, so if we don’t talk about something that happened the exact week that this episode dropped, that is why.
Okay, so we’re going to start from the bottom of the Neutral Zone. No one on this call is watching Waccha PriMagi, so we’ll skip that one. I… [Chuckles] …am still watching Visual Prison—
PETER: Very curious about this one.
VRAI: I’m gonna get to it! I don’t know why I’m not watching it.
DEE: —for reasons that are hard for me to personally fathom. Well, I know why: it’s a musical with vampires. That’s why.
DEE: Most of the yellow flags that I mentioned in episode 3 have kind of gone away, but they were still true at the time, so this is probably a yellow flag show. There’s some subtextual twincest in one of the episodes. It’s weird. It’s extremely “of the genre,” but it’s weird. And one of the vampires is perpetually 12, because vampires. So that’s not terrific. But I like the other stuff going on.
I wish it was campier. It comes out the gate with them singing out of sword microphones and they have angel wings and they’re dropping out of helicopters, and I was like, “Yes! This is ridiculous. Feed it to me.” And it has toned itself down to be more about a visual kei band getting together. And it gives the characters arcs, which is good, but also it grounds it, and I don’t want it to be grounded. I want it to be buckwild.
So it is slightly disappointing for me because of that, but we’re getting into the actual music tournament arc, and there’s some bad blood—[chuckles] bad blood—between a couple of the bands. I didn’t do that on purpose.
PETER: A likely story.
DEE: Well, you know, it is me.
So I’m hoping that they’ll up the melodrama as we start to dig into the actual contest part.
One kind of cool thing to note, which I think I touched on briefly in the three-episode as well: two of the characters have feminine names, Eve and Elizabeth, and the subtitles refer to them as they/them. There has been no discussion of this in-show, but it is kind of neat to see.
VRAI: More they-pires!
DEE: Yeah, more they-pires. Add ‘em to the list. So, yeah, it is vampire musical trash, and if you’re into vampire musical trash, you’ll probably have an okay time. I wish it was sillier, but I am still watching it, and some of the music I enjoy. So that’s Visual Prison.
Tesla Note, nobody on here is watching. Okay, takt op.Destiny, I dropped at 5. So I’m only like one episode back as of recording this. Peter, you’re still keeping up with it. What are your thoughts on this one?
PETER: I actually discovered it’s “Takt Opus Destiny.” That’s the “op,” I guess. Is that a thing: “opus” can be called “op”?
DEE: I wasn’t aware of that, but apparently.
PETER: Okay. Yeah, it seems like people are pretty split about this show, whether they really like the interactions between the main characters or absolutely despise them. I am in the “I think they’re fun and kinda buckwild, kind of cartoonish” camp, so I have been enjoying the show. It seems like they’re setting up a lot of the stage for later events, so it’s kind of cooled off in the most recent episodes and it started introducing a lot of different—what are they called?—Musicarts.
DEE: Musicarts. Yeah, that sounds right.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. So they’re just throwing a bunch of characters at you.
PETER: Which is fine, because I guess that’s better than them just not meeting anybody for a long time, which is what happened in the first three or so episodes. Yeah, I don’t know if I really have anything like, dangerous notes to the show, and it’s pretty much kept up with its initial promise. I’m a little bit worried about how things are gonna roll out with Hell, because she could be a problematic character for sure.
DEE: She’s like the one person of color in the cast, right? Well, non-Japanese person of color. Sorry, I should specify.
PETER: Yeah, she’s like the only named person with brownish skin, yeah. And she’s kind of a homicidal maniac, maybe. So, yeah, not great. I don’t know quite what they’re planning with that one, but she seems to be the evil Musicart.
DEE: I found her enjoyably evil, but yeah, character design-wise, there is that element of “Really, the one brown person is going to be the evil one?” That seems like a mistake.
PETER: I mean, I do think her character design is great. And I also appreciated her over-the-top killer wheelies fighting style.
DEE: I will never deny that the animation in the show was really good. I was liking it okay. I didn’t love the main characters, but I didn’t dislike them. And then Caitlin mentioned that it was going to be a gacha game, and the very next episode, we lost the mentor who was traveling with them, who I liked despite being a bit of a semi-problematic queer character. I liked them and they went away, and then they dropped in like three new Musicarts, and then I couldn’t unsee the gacha elements. And it took me right out of the show.
I’m kind of in the camp of… I guess I’m in the middle camp. I did not like or dislike the characters, but I got busy, and if you’re not doing something to keep me coming back, then I’m going to drop you. So I went ahead and said bye to that one.
But yeah, I would say there’s nothing really… There was a little bit of fanservice in episode 5 that was kind of irritating, especially absurd outfits that the characters are wearing. But it’s mostly staying the course, so I don’t think we need to spend too much more time on that. Anything else you wanted to say there?
PETER: I do want to say the MOBA thing wasn’t like something they ambushed people with. They did announce that. In the MAPPA event where they said, “We’re making this anime next season,” they said it’s in partnership with a gacha game.
DEE: Oh, sure, I believe you. I just didn’t know that, personally, and then once I found out, I was like, “Oh, no, I can’t unsee it!”
PETER: Okay, I just wanted to establish that that was the way it was from the jump. It wasn’t like they were just like, “Hey, this cool anime. Actually, it was a gacha game the whole time!”
VRAI: So it was always cynically motivated. We want to establish that as a baseline.
PETER: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, even if not, I think I could have looked at the monsters and go like, “Those look like gacha enemies.” They’re just all kind of the same theme and based on different animals.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, that’s the drawback, but I’m kind of interested to see if there’s a plan, because there have been good gacha anime. There have.
DEE: No, there have.
DEE: There have been like two. But they do exist. You’re right.
PETER: [Chuckles] About two, yeah.
DEE: Honestly, let me know how this one ends, because this is one I could see myself coming back to, but I didn’t want to commit to it because I just don’t have a lot of confidence in it right now.
PETER: For sure.
DEE: Keep me posted.
PETER: I will.
DEE: Okay. Shikizakura, we’re not watching. Selection Project, we’re not watching. Sakugan, Vrai and I both dropped like a hot potato at episode 4.
VRAI: I only have room in my heart for so many shows that decide to be randomly homophobic in episode 4.
DEE: Yep! [Chuckles]
VRAI: And this wasn’t one of them.
DEE: And we’ll get to that soon, too. But Peter, you’re keeping up with it. After episode 4, how’s it been? Because I did talk extensively about episode 4 in the three-episode check-in, because it was such a tonal change of pace that I kinda had to. How’s it been since?
PETER: So that was the one where they met—oh God, what’s her name?—Zebatuptah or whatever.
DEE: Yeah, and the evil bisexual.
VRAI: Yeah, the Misty–Fujiko mashup joined the cast.
PETER: I do want to say, after that episode I’ve definitely— Well, she might be joining in the next episode, actually. She just disappeared after that. It was very weird. But I have been noticing that Gagumba is kind of leaning into the more shitty thing, and I think they’re trying to make— I thought the story was about both of them being deficient in some way but together they make a complete team. But it does seem like Gagumba just needs to fix himself.
There’s the next episode, they have to repair some sort of station, and it’s Memempu and that weird police guy who turns out to be a geologist or something, and they both nerd out together about science, and Gagumba feels left out or something and gets really mean. And that wasn’t fun. That’s really kind of a jerk move.
And then in the next episode, they introduce their hacker person, who I guess has double prosthetics for hands, who seems to be all right. And now I think the girl’s joining the cast. It hasn’t been anything extreme from Gagumba since, but I definitely notice he’s leaning into being kind of like a stick-in-the-mud jerk rather than a coequal member of this team where both of them are idiots.
DEE: Yeah, and it feels like the narrative knows he sucks, but unless you’re going to push him to change… I didn’t want to spend time with him anymore unless I knew that they were going to…
PETER: He’s gonna learn his lesson and become a good dad?
DEE: Yeah, he’s gonna grow, yeah, grow. And they could be angling for that, especially if the next couple episodes also have him sucking.
VRAI: But I could also easily see him becoming that kind of crappy dad who comes through in a pinch and so it’s fine that he has these faults.
PETER: Yeah, it’s whether he’s gonna get fixed or just be the City Hunter guy where people just put up with him forever.
DEE: Yeah, and that’s something that frustrates me in a lot of anime, where it’s like, “Well, he sucks, but you know what, he saves the day so he can keep on sucking.” And there’s just so many anime I could be watching with likeable characters instead. Which, speaking of, unless there’s anything else we wanted to say about Sakugan…
PETER: I’ll keep you up to date as things develop.
DEE: Thanks, I appreciate that. Speaking of likeable characters, we’re moving into Muteking the Dancing Hero. Vrai, you are also caught up on this one, yes?
VRAI: I am! As of like 20 minutes ago. [Chuckles]
DEE: Hell yeah. I’m so glad you caught up because I needed you to watch the most recent episode. Talk to me! You haven’t had a chance to really chat much yet this episode.
VRAI: I really like Muteking. It has the animation budget of a ham sandwich, but it’s got heart. [Chuckles] I think it’s—
DEE: And I think as far as storyboarding and directing goes, it covers for the fact that it’s not particularly dynamically animated very well.
VRAI: Yeah, no, it’s got those vivid colors. I really like how casually diverse it is, especially because it’s a kids show. It’s nice to see that kind of vibrant world.
I was kind of worried watching the first two episodes… I mentioned that the early going had this “New technology is scary and bad, and old retro stuff from the ‘90s is good.” And the later episodes have kind of moved away from that, where it’s leaning harder into being about corporatization as this deadening force of culture, which—
DEE: Yeah, like gentrifying sameness. Yeah. Honestly, I think it’s kind of a good commentary, and I’m enjoying that part of it a lot.
VRAI: Seeing the giant buildings with the Q on them, I was like, is this about Uniqlo slowly eating away at the market of Harajuku?
DEE: Could be!
VRAI: Because I know that that is a problem people have!
DEE: Yeah. No, yeah, I really like the way the last few episodes have been so much about “Our city used to be so bright and diverse, and now everything is the same because this one corporation is running and controlling everything.” And I’m like, “Take ‘em down! Take ‘em down, Muteki!” Yeah, I’ve enjoyed that element a lot.
VRAI: Yeah, I really enjoy… This most recent episode, it was quite the turn to realize that Vivi used to be Freddie Mercury.
VRAI: [Chuckles] I will be pissed if they kill her off before the end of the show.
DEE: Yeah, I was gonna say, can we talk about Vivi-nee? Did you want to summarize her character for folks at home, because this last episode pretty well canonically established her as a trans woman, right? We watched her transition via backstory.
VRAI: Uh-huh! Yeah, so Vivi-nee is this local arcade owner that has been a background character sort of mothering this local group of outcast kids that Muteki knows.
DEE: Yeah, and bringing in Muteki, too. And has really from the beginning, I would say, been very positively and fondly depicted.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, she’s not in the earlier episodes much, but she’s a very positive presence. And then, in the most recent episode, when Muteki is trying to put together a new song so that he can level up and beat the bad guy, he wants to seek out this mysterious MC who vanished one day, and he hears about this great baseball player who then became this great MC who looks like Freddie Mercury—
DEE: MC Bay Bee! I love the name.
VRAI: [Laughs] Yes, it’s so good! And then we find out that this is all Vivi’s backstory. And it’s not… It’s not even overtly clumsy. It’s one of those things where I feel like you could have been a little smoother than this, but it’s not hateful really or anything, and it doesn’t even really talk about her transition. It just talks about “Here are the things that she did when she was presenting as a guy, and here she is now. And anyway, that’s how that is.” It’s very matter of fact about it.
DEE: Yeah, yeah. Which, honestly I appreciated the sort of nonchalant “Yep, this is her life and everybody’s cool with it.” Especially for a show that’s generally been pretty family-friendly and is, I would say, geared towards… maybe not geared towards a younger audience but open to a younger audience, absolutely. I think that matter-of-fact normalizing of “Yeah, sometimes people transition presentation. And she’s Vivi.” I appreciated that and I would love to see that in more kids’ shows.
VRAI: I don’t know if it’s a mistake or if it was some kind of clumsy attempt to hide this twist that went bad, but it is weird that her skin tone looks lighter in her flashbacks.
DEE: I noticed that too, and I don’t know if it just has to do with the wig and the costume, if that just makes the skin tone look different. Yeah, I noticed that too and I thought that was interesting, but I have no comment to make on that. If anybody at home wants to…
VRAI: Same. I’m just observing it.
DEE: Yeah. But yeah, this past episode, I was worried they were gonna spin and make her an alien, because she clearly had some connection with the evil corporation who are aliens, almost certainly, right? They’re aliens.
VRAI: They’re aliens.
DEE: Yeah. So I was like, “Aw, they’re gonna make the trans character an alien. And she’s really cool, but still, that’s not great.” And so then this past episode, we found that that was not the case. I loved that. But I really hope she doesn’t tragically die, because they could save her—
VRAI: I’ll be mad.
DEE: Well, we know she’s sick. But we don’t know if they’re gonna… It feels like there could be a “Let’s save her” storyline, as opposed to “she tragically dies so the next generation can come into their own as musicians.” So, fingers crossed, Vivi makes it to the end.
But yeah, I have been… You know, Vrai, I love my goofy, sincere, family-friendly anime, and Muteking is filling the ClassicaLoid hole in my heart, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot, so…
VRAI: Oh, I’m so glad! It’s such an unassuming little show. I feel like not very many people are watching it because it looks like that and it’s based on an ‘80s comedy sentai, but I really like it.
DEE: It’s delightful. I’m so glad you’re watching it with me because this was one where I’m like, “I’m so glad I get to talk to Vrai about Muteking!” It’s wonderful.
VRAI: I do need Suteking to do something soon, because I am dying. What’s his deal?
DEE: Yeah, what are you up to, pretty blond boy? Yeah, I’m sure we’ll find out at some point. Narratively, it feels like they knew what they were doing from the beginning. I mean, whether or not that means it’ll come together is up for debate. But it feels like we set up these characters early and we’re going to tell you what their deal is eventually.
I do also hope they do something with Muteki’s sister soon, because right now she’s just wandering around telling everybody the truth and nobody’s paying attention to her.
VRAI: And then she comically falls off something.
DEE: Yeah. She’s very clumsy. I like her, but I do want her to interact with her brother, so I hope we get more of her as well, because there’s not a ton of female characters in this. There’s a few but not a ton.
Yay! Okay, that was Muteking. I’m glad we got some time to chat about that one, because I like it a lot.
DEE: Yay. Go watch Muteking, kids at home. Unless you’re worried about Vivi. Then wait until the end of season and we’ll tell you if she ends up being okay.
All right, next on the list is Lupin the Third Part 6. I am caught up. Peter, you are watching. Vrai, you’re not marked on this one, which is surprising.
VRAI: I simply have not had time, and Blue Jacket and I have a dicey relationship sometimes. So I’ve enjoyed what I’ve watched, but it just hasn’t been priority, you know?
DEE: Well, Vrai, he’s Green Jacket again, so it’s okay.
VRAI: [Exclaims skeptically]
DEE: Because Lupin, what is chronology? Nothing. Doesn’t matter.
VRAI: Nothing. It’s a fool’s errand!
DEE: Peter, how many episodes in are you?
PETER: I’m behind. They just disappeared from the UK.
DEE: Okay, so you’ve just watched the first couple. Okay, folks at home, I’m going to use a swear. I fucking love this series right now. [Chuckles] Sorry I used a swear.
DEE: I know, shock and awe. We’ve never used a swear on this podcast, ever.
PETER: Still PG-13 so long as we don’t get a second one.
DEE: That’s right. I burned our one. Damn! [Chuckles]
So, I’m really enjoying this. It is extremely self-indulgent. Every episode so far has been written by a different person. We just got into a multi-parter, so I’m assuming all the parts of that will be written by the same person. I mentioned in the Slack that some of them were big anime names, like Mamoru Oshii did episode 4. And then, I forget the guy’s name, but he’s been in anime forever. He was working on Princess Knight and Tiger Mask back in the day. Did episode 3.
VRAI: I mean, that makes sense because this is the big 50th anniversary bash. So, self-indulgent seems correct.
DEE: And I wouldn’t say it has a Space Dandy vibe, because—you don’t have different animators and directors on it, but that sense of “We’re gonna give everyone a chance to do a fun, episodic Lupin story” is definitely woven into it. And I haven’t watched a ton of the older Lupin, but I do think the newer stuff tends to do the one-off, short episodes really well. So I think they’re playing into their core creative team’s strength with that, as well.
The other episodes, I thought they were being written by newcomers, but they’re actually being written by fairly well-known Japanese mystery novel writers. I did a little research before going in. So they’re bringing in people who don’t necessarily work in anime, but Lupin’s been around forever, so they probably enjoy it.
And starting with Sherlock Holmes, classic crime fiction has been woven into this show. The most recent multi-parter (the first episode of the multi-parter dropped the day we’re recording this; the second one will be up by the time this goes out) is: Lupin time-travels, kind of, we think? And he’s basically—
VRAI: Oh, that’s established.
DEE: Yeah, I mean, you can do whatever you want in Lupin. It’s a big sandbox. It’s great. But [he time-travels] to an Edogawa Ranpo novel, so the inspectors and thieves from that are showing up throughout this episode.
Which, you don’t have to know that. The episode is still enjoyable without that. But that extra level of… Like I said, it’s very self-indulgent! Mamoru Oshii’s episode was like a send-up to a Hemingway short story that I’d never even heard of until this episode. And then I went and read it and was like, “Oh yeah, no, I see the parallels here.” It feels like they just said, “Go have fun.” And you can really feel that in the show.
I have nothing to say about it from a feminist-relevant perspective. I think the way they’re handling Fujiko so far has been… I mean, there’s a little bit of fanservice, but it’s Fujiko. That’s her thing. But I feel like it’s handling her and her relationship with the guys really well. I think the most recent episode introduced some supporting characters who… I mean, they’re holding hands in bed, wearing bathrobes and blushing at each other, so I’m gonna go ahead and say they’re lesbians, which is neat.
And yeah, I’ve really enjoyed it. You know, any time you start a new Lupin, you kind of flip a coin to see who’s going to be working on it, and so far, I’ve had a really good time with this batch. So, I would recommend it, Vrai.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Nice!
DEE: Enjoy yourself. It’s just Full Fanfic. I mean, Lupin’s always been a fanfic, but diving straight into that deep end with the Ranpo and the Sherlock Holmes stuff. So I look forward to seeing how it progresses and what other writers they bring in on it, too.
VRAI: All right, I am tempted.
DEE: Do it!
Okay, next on the list, Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut. Peter, you are also keeping up with this one, yes?
PETER: Yep, I am.
DEE: I’ve been talking for a bit. Would you like to start us off on Irina?
PETER: Sure. Yeah, I’ve been enjoying it pretty well so far. I really like/am very confused by its kind of ahistorical… this is definitely the USSR and they’re talking about the United States, except vampires exist.
DEE: But they’re only kind-of-vampires. Sometimes they need blood, I guess.
PETER: Yeah, its pseudo-fantasy setting. I generally like the flow of the plot and the events. There was that thing with the girl being super interested in taking Irina’s physical I didn’t so much like.
PETER: And I’m really worried that they’re kind of infantilizing her now a lot with her angst about going into space. Because I feel like… I can’t remember the main character’s name. Potato guy.
DEE: Lev? Oh, he’s… I like Lev.
PETER: He’s fine, but I feel like his role now is doing emotional maintenance for her, which I’m not quite a fan of. I feel like that really kind of makes it seem like she’s unable to handle things on her own. I was hoping it would be more coequal and they would be forming a mutual bond where he was supposed to just be making sure she didn’t try to run away or anything, because UZZR is evil. But that’s just my general concerns based on a couple points in the story.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, I’m not sure I have… This is one where I think it’s really gonna depend on how they end it, so I’m not sure how much I want to… I feel like most of what Caitlin said in the three-episode check-in still holds true at this point. Like every once in a while it stumbles into these very obnoxious anime rom-com cliches, like you said with the doctor wanting to get her measurements. And then there’s a scene where she has a sip of alcohol and gets drunk and he has to take her home.
PETER: Oh, yeah.
DEE: But overall, I’ve enjoyed the two main characters’ relationships. I’m really enjoying listening to Hayashibara Megumi in a main role again. She always gives her characters lots of depth just via performance, which I love. Because I think Irina could have been… If they’d cast somebody who played her really squeaky or cutesy, I think she could have been, like you said—
PETER: Really obnoxious.
DEE: Obnoxious and infantilized and very tsundere. And I think Hayashibara plays her as somebody who is traumatized and is very young. We find out she’s only 17, which, don’t love that for the main romance.
PETER: Yeah, it’s not great.
DEE: But pushing past it… I mean, and they already had a power imbalance because she’s basically been taken captive for this mission.
PETER: Yeah, she’s a prisoner.
DEE: Yeah, and so, her also being young does not help. But I like their interactions with each other. I think when it’s not occasionally falling into clichés, I think it’s more grounded than you see in a lot of these slow-burn… I’m going to call it a romance because that’s what it feels like.
The politicking with the UZZR or whatever they call them is very interesting. And at this point, I need her to not die, so I’m apparently definitely invested. A couple episodes ago, I was like, “I don’t know how much I’m into the show. Maybe I’ll drop it,” and now I’m like, “But I need you to survive this. I need you guys to make it out. I need you guys to escape this terrible country. Please. Please be okay.”
So at this point, I’m definitely in it for the long haul, because I think the character writing has been just solid enough building on itself and with the plotting in the background, too, with the bad, fascist government, that I’m invested.
PETER: Walking multiple tightropes, which is actually harder than a single tightrope in this scenario.
DEE: It is. There’s so many tightropes. So we’ll see how it ends. And I would say at this point, I’d still keep it in the neutral zone. It’s had a few things that made my eyebrow twitch, but it’s not been awful.
VRAI: Is it still doing the weird mouth stuff?
DEE: No, not really. Yeah, I forgot about that from the early episode. Yeah, no, not really.
PETER: Oh, yeah, yeah. They cut that out mostly.
DEE: Yeah, every once in a while there’s a little bit of fanserviceyness with camera angles and stuff, but for me at least, it doesn’t take away from the character work that’s going on as well. So, maybe Yellow Flags. But yeah, we’ll see how it ends. That will be a big sticking point for this one, too.
PETER: Yeah. For the alcohol thing, I do want to say I didn’t like that, but then it actually turned into a good scene with the ice skating thing afterward and them having a mature conversation because they were uninhibited.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, they didn’t play into the clichés as hard as they could have, but I always roll my eyes when anime characters take a single sip of beer and get drunk. I’m like, that’s not how it works!
PETER: That’s not, yeah.
DEE: But anyway…
PETER: Vampire biology.
DEE: Yeah, yeah, we’ll just blame it on vampire biology. Absolutely. Because who knows how vampires work in this world?
Okay, moving on, moving on. Faraway Paladin. Peter, you’re keeping up with this one. I didn’t dislike the first episode. There was just a lot of other anime, so it kinda just ended up on the floor because of that. How are you liking this one?
PETER: I’m actually liking it pretty well. I wish it had gotten a better production. If it had gotten Mushoku Tensei–level animation, I feel like… The way Mushoku Tensei’s production is treating the anime like it’s some sort of mature fantasy with themes is what Faraway Paladin is, so if Faraway Paladin got that production, I feel like it would be a lot better. Because it’s handling a very slow, resonant story, and I think the production’s ambitious but maybe doesn’t have all the tools it needs to execute on that.
I do think it’s very good. I think Will is… he’s a very sweet boy. His parents are very great. And now he’s, at this point in the story, left the nest and he’s met a shitty, cute elf boy. And they’re going to go on adventures together now.
DEE: Oh no, you said he was shitty and cute. Now I want to watch this! [Chuckles]
PETER: He’s shitty cute. Melendor [sic] or something like that is his name.
DEE: I love me a good trash boy. [Chuckles]
PETER: He seems like a trashy elf boy, yeah.
DEE: Excellent. Yeah, I had heard really good things about the light novels for this for a while, and so it was kind of on my radar because of that. If the production’s eh, I might just check out the novels. But I don’t know. Let me know at the end of the season, and maybe I’ll come back to it.
PETER: I do need to bring up one scene, though. The low point was his dad, the skeleton dad, decides to get Will drunk for the first time or something. And then of course, they both get very drunk and he tricks Will into walking in on Mary while she’s changing clothes or something like that—
DEE: Ah, boo!
PETER: —as some sort of boyish rite of passage kind of thing.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, so that was the single bad scene, and Will definitely never wants to do that to a woman ever again. But it’s sad that it happened.
DEE: [crosstalk] Well, at least Will’s a good boy. [Chuckles]
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Will is like, “Why did you make me do that?”
DEE: God, that sucks, yeah.
PETER: It does, yeah.
DEE: Well, I appreciate the heads-up on that. But otherwise it’s been solid so far. Great.
Hey, Vrai, how’s Digimon Ghost Game? I’ve heard pretty good things.
VRAI: I really like it, and also it makes me sad.
DEE: Oh no! Okay. Explain.
VRAI: So, there have been five episodes as of recording. It’s a really good, spooky monster-of-the-week show that I have enjoyed the heck out of. It’s a little intense for a kid’s cartoon. I think if I had watched it at eight or nine, it would have scared the crap out of me. They have a Halloween episode where there’s a jack-o’-lantern Digimon who is trying to make friends by going around and stuffing pumpkins on people’s heads and then carving the pumpkins while they’re on their heads!
DEE: I heard about that! That’s horrifying!
VRAI: It is! It’s a good, atmospheric, spooky anime that’s had really strong direction so far. It also doesn’t really have very much in the way of sakuga because apparently—I heard it from Kevin, who runs Sakuga Blog—the show’s production has allegedly been an absolute train wreck since before it even got going.
DEE: Aw, that sucks.
VRAI: Which, if this is meant to run 50 episodes, which is generally the common order for a Digimon series, it’s gonna crash and burn, I assume, and I’m guarding my heart for that.
And it makes me so sad because the Digimon Adventure reboot was bad. It was really bad, and I feel like the one thing we were all hoping from it is, “Well, it made a lot of money, so maybe they’ll pour that into this new series that is the first non-Adventure-related Digimon show in almost a decade, and maybe they’ll use this money to give that backing.” And apparently they haven’t because fuck Toei, they’re the worst. —Oh, there goes our PG-13 rating.
DEE: Oh no! We said “fuck” too many times. Well, now the lid’s off because we’ve got the R rating now, so we can say it as many times as we want. Hooray!
PETER: We let the genie out of the bottle.
DEE: That’s right.
VRAI: I’ll never not resent Toei in particular for having rainbow Twitter bio icons in June while simultaneously derailing one of their workers’ union reps by using the fact that they were using their chosen name and not their legal name against them. Toei’s the worst. Toei’s so the worst.
But yeah, no, Digimon Ghost Game so far has been a really good, spooky, atmospheric kids’ horror show. The only thing—it’s not even bad but it annoys me a little bit—is this is the first anime, at least… I don’t know about all of Digimon media, but it’s the first in the anime where there’s been a boy human who’s had a female Digimon partner, and it’s like some Nagatoro shit, and I don’t know that I care for that.
DEE: [Hums skeptically]
PETER: What? She picks on him?
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, how do you mean? She picks on him?
VRAI: She picks on him, and then by the end of her introduction episode, she’s in the corner calling him darling under her breath. And I’m like, I don’t like that. I don’t like romantic tension.
DEE: Between a Digimon and a person?
DEE: No, thank you. [Chuckles]
VRAI: No. And it’s a shame because he’s a very good, nervous boy voiced by Akira Ishida.
DEE: [Gasps] Nobody told me the main character was Ishida. Now I might have to watch this show.
VRAI: Well, he is the secondary boy. The main boy is fine, but the boy with the Nagatoro Digimon is like… So, he’s a super genius who came back to middle school to be a dorm leader because he’s a chuuni otaku who wanted to live out his school life, and he has a bandage on his cursed right hand and the whole ten yards.
DEE: Hell yes. Hell yes.
VRAI: It’s so good! He’s a great character!
DEE: Well, you’ve got me interested. Maybe I will attempt a Digimon. I’ve actually seen a decent amount of the original, but maybe I’ll attempt another one. So, cool! Anything else from that one that you wanted to let folks know about?
VRAI: Nope! The singular girl character has been treated fine, but nothing to stand out. So, yeah, I’ve been really enjoying it and I’m preemptively sad for when Toei cuts its Achilles tendon and leaves it to die.
DEE: Well, maybe it’ll get its production stuff in order and be okay. Fingers crossed.
PETER: World Trigger season 3, I think is… Is it supposed to be another one-cour? Which might leave Toei with three shows instead of four coming off the end of this season.
DEE: So that could help them out maybe.
PETER: I’m theorizing, yeah, they might be able to move people over. Or they might just start up a whole ‘nother anime and put themselves back up to four simultaneous productions. Who knows?
DEE: It’s Toei, so who knows? But fingers crossed that it doesn’t totally fall apart on you and continues to be a good time.
Okay, none of us are watching Deep Insanity: The Lost Child. I honestly know nothing about it, which is fine. Sometimes that happens.
Banished from the Hero’s Party. Peter, you’re watching this, and a couple other people on staff are as well. How’s that one going?
PETER: It’s okay. I definitely like that the main character is kind of shown to be valuable to the world-saving party because of soft skills. He can’t fight like anybody else can, but he’s good at talking to people, organizing things, cooking.
DEE: Oh, cool.
PETER: After his absence, they’re realizing that defeating the Demon Lord, their adventures become a lot more difficult when they don’t have somebody to make good meals or talk to normal people like another normal person.
PETER: You see them all suffering at their camp every day while he’s living his best life out in the middle of nowhere, running a little medicine shop.
DEE: Social skills important.
PETER: Yeah. I was originally down for him and his relationship with this other hero that he’d previously met, but it’s really deep into anime romance land where neither of them is willing to make a move, despite the fact that she’s basically screaming for him to do something, and he’s not doing it. I think they’ve tacitly agreed that he will ask her to marry him at some point, but they did it completely indirectly because they’re both cowards. I’m not quite sure how this works out. It’s just frustrating to watch. You know what I mean?
DEE: Yeah, the “We have to drag this out because once they get together, it’s over” kind of thing. And it’s like, no, it doesn’t have to be over! You can just have them be a couple. That’s fine!
PETER: Yeah, they’re shopping for her bed, and he gets two singles instead of a king bed. And the person running the shop calls him a coward, and then she calls him a coward.
DEE: Oh my God. So, she’d be fine with it and he… Yeah, well…
PETER: Yeah, and he gives her a bracelet and implies like maybe he’ll get her a ring later without actually saying it. She’s like, “Well, whatever you want to give me, I’ll definitely say yes.” [Chuckles]
DEE: Nudge, nudge.
PETER: And “shut the fuck up.” Yeah. So it’s kind of funny describing it this way, but I’m rolling my eyes constantly. I think I like the… It’s fun, though. It’s okay.
DEE: Okay. Yeah, that’s good to know.
PETER: [crosstalk] A nice show.
DEE: Yeah, a nice neutral-zone… Is it an isekai, technically, or just a fantasy anime?
PETER: I think it’s straight fantasy.
DEE: Cool! I am for them going, “You know what? This isekai element… It’s meaningless. Let’s just do a fantasy series.”
PETER: Well, and by straight fantasy, I mean slightly gamified, “everybody’s born with a unique skill” kind of thing.
DEE: Of course. Yeah…
PETER: And they have HP.
DEE: [exasperated] Oh my God!
PETER: [crosstalk] But there’s no guy from another world.
DEE: Okay, so, gamified but not an isekai.
PETER: Yeah. I’m sorry.
DEE: We take what we can get, right?
PETER: Yeah, every little bit.
DEE: Yeah. Okay, all right, let’s move on. I am keeping up with Taisho Otome Fairy Tale. Hoo, we don’t have the hour I would need to… In the words of John Mulaney, “We don’t have time to unpack all that.” [Chuckles] I… Hoo. Go read my three-episode, and it continues to pretty much hold true.
I really like what it’s doing with… I like the protagonist. I think it does a pretty good job of depicting depression and childhood neglect and the main character trying to work through that and develop a new family unit with other people who have been abandoned, including reconnecting with his younger sister and then his fiancée.
And the problematic baseline of the show hasn’t changed. It’s not going to.
There’s a lot I really like in it. I think it has a good heart, but it still continues to irk me that Yuzuki, the main female character, her role is really just to be sweet and help everybody else with their problems. And some of those other characters are female characters, so it’s not like she’s just saving dudes. But I wish it would do more with her, like getting more… She kind of got upset in the last episode because she thought maybe he was cheating on her, but they played it in that very “suffering wife who’s gonna look the other way” type thing, and I’m like, “no! Yuzuki…”
I would like her to just get angry or upset or miss her school friends, and the show won’t give her that range of emotion, and it’s very frustrating. And then every once in a while it spins into rom-com bullshit, although it’s been pretty good about avoiding that.
They introduced a new female character whose dad is an abusive piece of shit, and she’s looking after her three younger brothers. And she kind of sucks because she’s sort of exploiting him for his money. But I think she’s gonna get better in the next couple episodes, and she genuinely cares for her brothers. Just her home life sucks. So I’m curious to see what they do with that.
You know what, “It’s Complicated” is a good category for Taisho Otome Fairy Tale. I’ll tell you that. And so, I’m going to keep watching it because I like the production and I like the characters even though I wish Yuzu had more nuance to her. But yeah, that’s my short version of Taisho Otome Fairy Tale. Maybe someday I will try to untangle it in an essay or something. But yeah.
Okay, Vrai. Are you still keeping up with Night Beyond the Tricornered Window, or did you drop that one?
VRAI: Kind of, sort of. I want you to imagine, what if that last episode of Paradise Kiss was a whole anime?
VRAI: Because it’s technically a faithful adaptation, except that all of the stuff it’s cut—because I started reading the manga, listeners at home—all of the stuff it’s cut is all of the really crucial things that add a lot of depth and nuance and flavor.
Because this is a horror romance, right, so there’s a lot to do with the fact that the protagonist knows that this dude he’s hanging around with and working for is kind of a sketch dude who’s kind of possessive and shady. And the manga definitely knows that and is interrogating that seriously, but at the same time, it’s like “This is the only dude who understands these powers I have, and I feel kind of drawn to him” and all that stuff, but in a way that I find fairly well executed so far. Honestly, I think there’s definitely a podcast in talking about the manga, maybe for the Patreon ones we’re doing or something, if people are interested.
But the anime has cut a lot of stuff, including… Mostly what it’s cut has been extra cases between the quote-unquote main plot ones, but in those extra cases are things like “Let’s talk about my feelings about how you’re trampling all over my consent,” or scenes of us bantering back and forth and having a little bit more equal footing that make the protagonist seem like he’s a little less adrift and a babe in the woods about stuff, or scenes where he seems open to the idea of being with a guy in addition to being interested in girls, as opposed to just being annoyed when people ask if this dude is his boyfriend.
It’s a lot. It makes me so angry in addition to the fact that this is an ugly production that wouldn’t know sensuality if it slapped it naked upside the face.
DEE: [Laughs] Vanitas has taught us that anime can do erotica well, and now we’re mad that everybody else is bad at it.
VRAI: It’s so ugly, Dee!
DEE: I know. I dropped it halfway through episode 2, so I’m with you on that. I’m glad to know the manga’s better, because I’d heard good things about the manga, and I started the anime and was like, “I don’t get it.” But it’s good to know the manga adds nuance to their relationship and actually spends some time with it. So, it is unfortunate, but it is good that the manga exists in English, so if folks want to read it, they can.
VRAI: Yep, currently digital only but at least it’s out there.
DEE: Yeah, at least it’s out there. Shall we move on?
VRAI: Yeah, let’s. I’m depressed now. Let’s be depressed in a different way! [Chuckles]
DEE: Let’s untangle— God, okay. We’ve got about 15 minutes, and we’re gonna spend all of them and then another 15 on Komi Can’t Communicate.
Vrai, I’ve read the manga. Well, not all of it. I’ve read seven or eight volumes, whatever the library had. It’s not a series I would buy, but having it at the library, I enjoyed reading it with the understanding that with the anime coming out, I was like, “This is gonna be The Discourse Show, isn’t it? This is gonna be the one,” because there is some problematic shit in this baby. You’re caught up. What are your thoughts on it?
VRAI: I’m going to keep watching. I’ll say that, because I really enjoyed the production values. I think in general these are good kids that I like hanging around with. I do think there sure is something to the fact that it’s set this out as a school for freaks and weirdos and that’s where we have all this marginalized representation coming in.
Najimi is my child. Even if linking a character who is a trickster to having a fluid or uncertain gender is a longstanding transphobic trope, I do still love them and they are my baby, and it’s very funny to me that their gender is whatever annoys the person they’re talking to most.
DEE: The thing I really like about Najimi is, knowing teenagers, I feel like in a perfect world where transphobia didn’t exist, I could totally see genderfluid or agender teenagers just being like, “Yeah, today I’m a girl. What up? Tomorrow I’m a boy. What up?” And so I like the idea that Najimi exists in a perfect world where they can just be themselves and fuck with people, because gender is a social construct. But in the broader scheme of real-world context, yes, agreed, problematic depiction, yeah.
VRAI: And then Yamai happens and…
DEE: Ugh. There’s nothing I can save about Yamai.
VRAI: It’s so bad! I don’t even have words for how bad it is. And even that short, itself, felt in terms of animation and direction like it had escaped from a completely different anime. Yeah, it was so bad and so interminably long, and I did hate it.
DEE: Yeah, for folks at home who maybe haven’t seen the show and aren’t sure what we’re talking about, Yamai is a very stereotypical TV Tropes–esque “psycho lesbian” character. And it sucks. It sucks a lot, to the point of kidnapping Tadano and keeping him in her closet because he’s getting too close to Komi and then threatening to murder him. Yeah, it just sucks.
VRAI: That wasn’t even what bothered me as much as the weird close-ups of her catching and licking a strand of Komi’s hair and that kind of crap.
DEE: Yeah, that was super gross. That, I do not remember from the manga, so I think the anime team maybe went a little… And it could have been in the manga and I just don’t remember. I was hoping they would tone that stuff down because when Yamai isn’t being a total stereotype, I think there is a relatively awkward teenager with a crush buried deep inside of her. But so much of her characterization is into this over-the-top, incredibly creepy, predatory… yeah, like you said, licking hair and shit. It’s just bad. Yamai is bad, and she’s not going to go away, folks at home, having read the manga. In the manga, you can skim through her chapters; in the anime, you won’t have that option.
So, it’s a good adaptation otherwise, as far as animation and style and directorial stuff. But God, I really wish they had toned her down—or cut her entirely! But I knew that wasn’t gonna happen.
VRAI: Also, Netflix, I do hate you and it’s good to know you hate me back. Well, I knew that. That’s a dub joke.
DEE: Yeah, their subtitle program sucks. There’s a lot of on-screen text that just gets missed, and some of it is probably necessary to the story. So, sorry if you haven’t read the manga, and you’re like, what does that say? You’ll never know.
VRAI: Yeah, that is all I have to say about that, more or less, so I am going to keep with it because I like the other stuff enough.
DEE: Yeah. I will say the central relationship between Komi and Tadano and Najimi—having read the manga, if they stick faithful to it—I really enjoy their dynamic. I think it develops a really sweet back-and-forth between Komi and Tadano as it continues. It does some really nice stuff with social anxiety and being really sympathetic towards that and people working with Komi to meet her on her level instead of being like, “Well, just get over it,” which you see in a lot of shows as well.
There’s a lot of good in here, but again, yeah, then there’s the queerphobic shit. So It’s Complicated, as our category is called! And I will not blame anyone for dropping it. I had a feeling it would be a very up-and-down series for folks, and we’ll see how it goes, I guess. So, yeah, that’s Komi.
Okay, the next is Blue Period. Peter and I aren’t watching this. Vrai, you’re behind. Did you want to touch on that real quick?
VRAI: I’m an episode or two behind. There’s not really much to add that I didn’t cover in my three-episode because for the most part the production’s not where I wish it was, but I really like 85% of the manga. I think it is a really good hobby anime in terms of just sinking into what it does about art and art techniques and kind of demystifying art, even if it’s a little bit rosy about how college will definitely help you get a career. I think that—
DEE: [Chuckles bitterly]
VRAI: [Chuckles sympathetically]
DEE: Sorry. Sorry. That was my despair laugh. Keep going.
VRAI: [Chuckles] I think it has that thing that hobby anime need, where it just sucks you into the minutiae and really sells that intrigue—the manga more so than the anime. I think the anime is competent. The stuff with Yuka hasn’t really—
DEE: That’s the trans girl, right?
VRAI: She’s the transfem character, yeah, where she is decidedly like a transfem nonbinary character in everything about how she is written. But then the series decides to label her a crossdresser, which is just so clearly at odds with everything about how she presents.
DEE: Mm-hm. I’d be curious what the word in Japanese is and if that’s just a translation flub, because the terminology in Japan can be a little fuzzier than English. So, yeah, I’d be curious to see what the words are there, but I’m not watching it, so, sorry, continue.
VRAI: Right. No, no, you’re good. And it’s one of those things where… The main character being kind of shitty towards her is meant to be him sucking as a teenager, and he’s supposed to be moving toward getting better and more accepting of the people around him in general. That’s a lot of what this show is about. And I’m in favor of that, but also, it feels very… Shoujo was on this level 20 years ago. Get good, seinen and shounen.
DEE: Yeah, like “I get what you’re doing, but I don’t particularly want to watch it sometimes.” Yeah, I get that.
VRAI: Uh-huh. Yeah, so it’s a series that I enjoy, that frustrates me sometimes with that stuff, but yeah. Definitely if you’re interested in it and you can get the manga, go with the manga over the anime. The colors are nice, but… eh.
DEE: [Chuckles] Yeah, I dropped it after episode 1, because I wish it was a hobby anime, but I feel like it’s more about the need to make your passion into a career and that being… There was a whole conversation at the end of that first episode that made me feel the bad feels because I’ve been—we don’t have time to get into my shit on this episode—but working through that idea that everything you create has to also be productive and earn money and trying to disavow myself of that, and then that show kind of took me back to that place. So I decided not to keep up with it.
DEE: But it sounds like it’s got a lot for folks who that isn’t a sticking point for them, and I hope it continues to be good. Yeah.
Let’s move on to Ranking of Kings, which we are all watching.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Best show of the season.
DEE: I mean, it’s neck and neck with Heike, absolutely.
VRAI: Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting. Yeah, anyway.
DEE: Yeah, well, and Heike started early, so… But yeah, so, Ranking of Kings. How y’all doing with this one? I can’t think of any… I mean, I guess as far as content warnings for folks at home, there is a fair bit of child endangerment and ableism, but the show is not promoting—
VRAI: And genocide. Background genocide.
DEE: Oh, God, yeah, the background genocide. Thank you. But the show is not promoting any of those things. It is depicting them negatively or sympathetically with the main characters.
PETER: They bad.
DEE: Yeah, it bad. So, with that as our setup out of the way, how are you feeling about the show just in general?
VRAI: I love it so much.
DEE: It’s good, right?
PETER: Is it Studio Wit’s best anime ever?
DEE: I mean, so far I would be inclined to agree with you. It’s such an interesting blend of genres. I was goofing with Peter about how I think I love Domas after the latest episode, as of recording this, when he—spoilers, folks—after he knocks Bojji into a pit and thinks he’s killed him, he then cuts off his hand in penance because he’s loyal but he feels bad. And I was like, “This guy is so extra! I think I’ve circled back around to liking him.” [Chuckles]
VRAI: Oh, I still hate him, but he is very funny.
DEE: Oh, he sucks, but… I told Peter he thinks he’s in Game of Thrones but he’s not in Game of Thrones. I think he’s in Steven Universe and he just doesn’t know it. And the more I thought about that, the more I realized all the adults think they’re in Game of Thrones, but I don’t think they are. I’m pretty sure they’re in Steven Universe and Bojji’s going to save the world with empathy.
Because it’s such a curious blend of that grimdark high Western fantasy, like jockeying for political power and these incredibly creepy rituals going on behind the scenes where I guess you grind kings down to turn them into magic potions…
VRAI: I love the cannibal smoothie!
DEE: Yes, the cannibal smoothie, thank you. But at the same time, you also have this fairy tale-esque, almost family-friendly vibe with the artwork, with, again, Bojji just being a very sweet main character and… oh gosh, what’s his…? Kage, because it’s just “shadow.” Kage and their central friendship has this very sweet, sincere… They just care about each other.
And the way it juggles those elements without it feeling like going into suffering porn but still feeling like there’s stakes, it’s really well done. It is impressive the way it is balancing these different fantasy tropes and archetypes and genres and things, and blending them together and really humanizing all the characters. I thought the stepmom was just gonna be evil, and she ends up being one of my favorite characters by the end of her episode. I’m like, “Oh! You just really care about this kid and don’t want him to have to deal with being king.”
PETER: Everybody gets their flashback where they realize that Bojji is the kindest child ever and then they learn sign language just so that they can communicate him with because he’s such a good person. So that’s like four different characters’ backgrounds now. Works every time. I’ve been surprised a couple times. Daida is showing a lot of redeeming qualities after just being an absolute shitheel for the first, what, four episodes.
VRAI: Daida is the kind of little shit that I can get behind.
PETER: Yeah. And then, also, the assassin guy, you’re kind of maybe discovering he’s a good guy now, too. He’s definitely not dead, and his fight against the spear guy seems more now like a test to make sure that the spear guy… where his allegiances lie, depending upon what he said after the fight or something like that.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah.
PETER: Yeah, you get a lot of people seeming a lot harder, harsher, or more malevolent than they actually are, which I think is very interesting.
DEE: Yeah, it has a very human, empathetic core, much like its main character. I mean, I feel like the mirror is probably unambiguously bad.
PETER: Oh yeah. [Chuckles]
VRAI: The mirror, who is definitely not the king’s first wife who got shoved in there and is mad about it.
PETER: Aw, shit.
DEE: Ooh! No, that wouldn’t make sense, though, because why would she want to kill Bojji? That’s her son.
DEE: Maybe deposed queen? I was assuming she was a deposed queen or somebody who had ruled and now was trying to get back at the country. But we’ll see, we’ll see.
Vrai, did you have anything else you wanted to add about that one? We are coming up on the hour.
VRAI: Not really. I will say, folks at home, if you watch those first two episodes and you’re like, “I’m not sure I can do this,” because those first two episodes are really heavy, it definitely balances out somewhat after that in terms of levity versus really emotionally intense content, which I’m glad of. I could not have done that every episode.
DEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think it’s done a nice job of, like I said, not going full grimdark, but there’s definitely stakes and it does not exist in the sunshiny world that the animation might make you think it exists in. And the way it plays with that contrast is really engaging. So, we’ll see how it ends. Hopefully, it sticks the landing.
VRAI: [crosstalk] We get two cours, so…
DEE: We do? Yay! Thank you!
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, is it two cours?
VRAI: We do.
DEE: Thank you, Studio Wit, for believing in this unique little show. So, yay! All right. Well, we’ll see how Bojji continues to grow.
All right, last one on our list is Heike Story, which is…
VRAI: We do.
DEE: We’re on like episode 9 on that one because it started early, so this isn’t exactly a midseason. But yeah, it’s great. Peter, your thoughts?
PETER: I have to say I am actually behind on this one. It’s hard to find a good time where I’m like, “I’m ready to watch Heike Story right now.” You know what I mean?
DEE: Mm-hm. Yeah, you do kind of have to be prepared for it because there’s a lot of characters, a lot of plot beats. I mean, we’re heading into the… This is not a spoiler because it’s based on an epic that was written hundreds of years ago. We’re getting to the part where everybody starts to die, so it’s heavy because of that as well. So, no, I totally get needing to be in the right headspace for Heike Story. Absolutely.
PETER: Yeah. So, with that being said, I’m only on like episode 4. I really need to play catch-up, especially because we’re nearing the end of the year. But that does not reflect on the show at all. It’s extremely good. The direction’s amazing. Pretty much love all the characters. I am somewhat familiar with the story, so it’s been interesting seeing how it’s being portrayed in this very unique fashion.
I don’t know, it’s one of those shows where… What was the last show we had like this, where it’s almost hard to talk about? Like, what can you say?
DEE: Yeah, it’s like “It good.”
PETER: Yeah, it’s like, “Wow, this is great. I wish I could say more about it.” Yeah.
VRAI: I’m somebody who always respected Yamada, but her stuff never really super clicked with me. I liked Euphonium, a one-season anime.
VRAI: But this is the first work of hers that I get the emotion of people being blown away by her stuff, because oh my God, I love seeing her do something with a more epic scope that’s got that very quiet, grounded, personal story, because she brings that personal to this wide scope of story. Oh, my God! It’s so good.
DEE: I really, really love the way they’ve decided to tell this, because I think anytime you come into an adaptation of something that has been done over and over again, it’s that question of “how are you going to do this differently or make this fresh?” And the way she’s decided to… I mean, we get some of the pitched battles and the politicking that are kind of the core of the story. But that’s not the focus.
The focus is really on the more quiet, domestic moments between the family members and the kids growing up during this wartime as their family and clan falls apart. And I think that decision to focus on that and Biwa as this character in the margins, not really belonging to any group, so able to sort of see every side of it, it’s a really, really smart, unique way to tell the story. And it also gives it sort of a feminist-relevant angle since so much of it is on what’s happening at the home front and how the female characters are feeling about all this. And yeah, I have been very impressed with this one.
VRAI: Yeah. I think I’m on episode 6, so I am also a little bit behind. But yeah, it’s just such a masterful production. And I am impressed, as somebody who is not good at keeping track of shows with big casts, how excellent the anime is at conveying character importance and relationship just through visuals and memorable designs, even if you can’t remember anybody’s name.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, no, the names can be difficult, especially because a lot of them are very similar, which was just of the time period. Yeah, it’s… It good.
The most—couple of recent episodes have been a little bit more about Biwa sort of coming to terms with who she is and how she fits into all this and what she can do. And so, I won’t spoil it since you guys are both behind, but I like those original elements, too, because Biwa isn’t part of the original epic. She (they? she? yeah, I’ll say she) is an anime-original character who’s supposed to be, sort of, the narrator of the tale of the Heike. And the way they’ve built her the past few episodes and her story— It’s just good. It’s just good. The End. [Chuckles]
VRAI: It’s so good.
DEE: I hope they stick the ending. You know, you watch some anime and you’re like, “This is art,” and I definitely feel that about Heike Story. And it’s so nice to see Yamada be able to just go completely arthouse, do what she wants, hog wild with this. I don’t think you’ve seen Liz and the Bluebird yet, Vrai.
VRAI: [crosstalk] I have not.
DEE: But I feel like Liz and the Bluebird was also Yamada—and it’s a very different, again, not epic in scope, very much a quiet school story—but I think that is also her being able to just do whatever she wants, and it’s also excellent. So I love that she joined with Science Saru for this one. And yeah, I hope it ends well. I hope I’m back here singing its praises at the end of the season.
VRAI: Also, this has nothing to do with the show being good at large, but I’ll never have another time or place to mention it. So, big shoutout to those two women who ran away from court to be lesbian nuns together. I love them.
DEE: Yeah, I do like the little—and this is very much a Yamada thing—the little subtextual nods to queerness in the cast, like the nuns who ran away together, the fact that the two flute boys… I’m gonna go ahead and say they’re a little bit in love.
DEE: You get that vibe. And yeah, I do appreciate her sort of weaving that in without necessarily… There’s a lot of other stuff she’s juggling, as well, but that acknowledgement is nice to see. Yeah!
Yeah, good shows. I feel like our top two this season are, so far, very, very strong. And then there’s a lot of complicated, messy stuff below it. Although I am going to, once again, shout out to Muteking and Lupin Part 6 as being good shit. Yeah. Okay.
Shall I play us out? And we can talk about sequels next season.
VRAI: Heck, yeah.
PETER: Sounds good.
DEE: I mean, at the end of season, not next season. That would be silly.
VRAI: I was with you.
DEE: Yeah. All right. Let’s do it. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Chatty AF. If you like what you heard, tell your friends about us. And if you really liked what you heard, we’d love it if you’d head over to patreon.com/animefeminist and become a patron for as little as $1 a month. We’ve got some new tiers and some new perks in the works right now, so you should go to our Patreon page and check those out. We’re very excited about those. And every dollar goes a long way towards making Anime Feminist happen both in print and in your earbuds.
And that is our show! Let us know how you’re enjoying the season in the comments, AniFam, and we will catch you next time.
DEE: [Imitates the Vaudeville seven-note fanfare] I do sincerely want every episode to end with that little play-out, but…