Vrai, Chiaki, and Peter check in on perhaps the most unremarkable season of anime since the inception of this podcast!
Date Recorded: August 20th, 2022
Hosts: Vrai, Chiaki, Peter
0:02:19 Black Summoner
0:03:48 Uncle from Another World
0:08:07 Parallel Word Pharmacy
0:10:16 My Stepmom’s Daughter is My Ex
0:12:33 My Isekai Life
0:13:35 Call of the Night
0:19:17 The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting
0:25:00 TEPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Laughing til You Cry
0:26:58 Shine On! Bakumatsu Bad Boys
0:29:37 RWBY: Ice Queendom
0:36:41 YUREI DECO
0:41:23 Lycoris Recoil
0:48:06 Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer
0:53:33 Tokyo Mew Mew New
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF: The Anime Feminist Podcast. My name is Vrai. I’m the managing content editor at AniFem. You can find me on Twitter @WriterVrai or the podcast I cohost that’s currently on hiatus, @trashpod. And with me today are Chiaki and Peter.
CHIAKI: Hi, I’m Chiaki Hirai, one of the editors for Anime Feminist. You can find me at @Chiaki747 or @AnimatedEmpress on Twitter. You’d think the locked account is hornier, but I’m live-tweeting Harem in the Labyrinth on my public.
PETER: Nice. I’m Peter Fobian. I’m manager of YouTube strategy and content at Crunchyroll and an editor at Anime Feminist, and my Twitter is @PeterFobian.
VRAI: All right, and you are joining us for the summer 2022 midseason check-in podcast! This season (spoiler alert) is kind of terrible! But we have endeavored to slog our way through for all of you at home to see what there is that’s at least fun if not top tier.
We’re doing something a little bit different this season. We got some feedback about folks feeling disappointed about this or that show not being covered on the podcast. And so, as a way to help us try to figure out how to better spend the limited time the team has in a way that also meets our listener and reader needs, we have started putting up a seasonal poll for patrons where y’all can vote on the three shows that you would like most to hear about on the podcast.
So, join at patreon.com/animefeminist for $1 and you too can help make sure that we cover the show that you really want to hear about on our seasonal podcasts.
With that in mind, we are going to hit the ground running and see what is what. With the bottom of our Yellow Flags category… Actually, before we do that, Chiaki, you said you’d watched Black Summoner. Is there anything interesting to talk about with that? Is it still doing slavery stuff?
CHIAKI: The dude is absolutely a sociopath, and I mean a sociopath. So it’s worse. It’s gotten worse. I don’t like him. I’m watching it because of course I am.
PETER: [Chuckles] “I hate him. I’m watching it.”
CHIAKI: Yeah, no, it’s… I have brain worms. Anyway… No—
VRAI: Is there a catgirl in it?
CHIAKI: No, there isn’t actually. Yeah, there’s no catgirl. But no, this guy literally wakes up one morning, goes, “You know what I’m gonna do today? I’m gonna go buy myself a slave,” and that’s what he does. No remorse. Nothing. Anyway, yeah, moving on.
VRAI: Yeah, so it’s just as bad as the first episode seems like it was going to be.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Worse. It was worse.
VRAI: All right. Worse.
PETER: Yeah, I thought he actually had better characterization than most isekai guys because they’re usually just Blandy McMilquetoast and he was kind of a goofus, but yeah, then he bought a slave.
CHIAKI: Yeah, usually they have the impetus of “Oh, well, she’s being tortured or something; I need to rescue her.” No, he straight-up said, “I need myself a slave. I’m gonna go buy one.”
VRAI: [deadpan] Very cool.
VRAI: All right, moving away from our very populated Anime Was a Mistake section this season and all the way up to the bottom of our Yellow Flags category with the first of our patron poll requested titles… Chiaki, you were brave enough to go and watch some more episodes of Uncle from Another World, a show I did not care for. How are you doing?
CHIAKI: So, just [to] keep people’s expectations in mind, I have only watched four episodes, and that is all that is available on Netflix right now. The next episode is due out August 31.
VRAI: Ah, yes, for folks at home who may not know, in the US market Netflix is airing this weekly but they aired it on a two-week delay, so the episodes available in English are slightly less than have aired in Japan.
PETER: [deadpan] Oh, neat.
CHIAKI: So there’s been a long gap between the last episode I watched and the next one coming up, actually. Generally… I mean, we get a new cast member in episode 2 who’s a woman. [She is] Takafumi, the guy’s, old childhood friend… She kind of finds out that the uncle is with them. And she’s okay. She kind of brings some balance to the show rather than just having it be about two dudes who are nerds trying to hustle their way through making money on YouTube.
The uncle continues to be quirky to the point of frustrating, and he is insufferable. So, unless you really, really love retro Sega references, it’s kind of a slog to watch him at all.
They do introduce the elf and the ice maiden from the isekai, and the show becomes kind of like… It’s weird because it’s an isekai anime within a slice-of-life anime, I guess. It’s not like a slice-of-life isekai anime; it’s… you’re watching people watch an anime in an anime.
VRAI: Yeah. And my deal with the premiere was definitely that it didn’t feel like there was a significant stylistic difference between the extremely brown real world and the even more brown isekai world, and it was very boring to look at.
PETER: Wait, did they do the foreign country filter on Isekai World?
VRAI: Yeah, they did.
PETER: Oh, God! [Chuckles]
VRAI: My only other question is Childhood Friend Girl: does she look a little bit closer design-wise to the two dudes or does she also have the extremely anime girl features?
CHIAKI: She’s got a little bit of the more anime girl features, but she’s a little bit more down to earth than the fantasy people. And the joke with her is when she was in elementary school she was an early bloomer and also super masculine and was a bully and was a complete shit—a complete shit. And so, Takafumi was friends with her in elementary school but totally considers her as more like a bro rather than a girl.
VRAI: Ah. Oh. Exhausting.
CHIAKI: I will say that this show does, with the uncle, hit the core double-standard of anime where if you’re an insufferable, clueless jerk you get a free pass as long as you’re a hot girl. That’s kind of the base of the humor that a lot of it pulls from, because you’re watching the uncle suck so much and then you see some of the women in the show also take on some of those traits, and it’s like, “Oh, but that’s funnier and cuter because they’re cute.”
VRAI: [Groans] Oh! Tired.
VRAI: This show makes me tired.
CHIAKI: Yeah, it’s insufferable.
VRAI: Okay. Let’s move on then. My God, you really absolutely stepped on the landmine for this season. I don’t think we need to talk much about Parallel World Pharmacy, except that I think you mentioned the most recent episode has a skin lightening subplot.
CHIAKI: Yeah. This is pretty typical with Asian cosmetics as well as European aristocracy, basically lightening your skin, especially because you’re upper class; you don’t have to work in the field, so it’s been traditionally like, if you have white skin, you’re more affluent.
Yeah, it pulls from there, and the plot point was Pharma, being from modern times, recognizes that old whitening cosmetics used lead to achieve… you know. And so, he’s like, “Oh yeah, stop using that white makeup because you’re gonna die. Anyway, here’s the actual white makeup that won’t kill you.”
PETER: “Please stop spreading lead on your face.”
VRAI: Is the…? Because this was one that our premiere review said, well, it more at least has stakes and characters than some other isekai sludge type series. How’s it doing with the lady mentor and just generally keeping up being engaging?
CHIAKI: Kinda just there in the back… I mean, they’re supporting him at this point.
PETER: He’s the absolute smartest guy. Nobody could possibly compete with how intelligent he is, so everyone else is just supporting his genius, basically.
CHIAKI: Yeah. And I’ll even say that it’s fairly low stakes overall, I think, for the first half of the season. There was that sort of phantom threat somewhere in the background saying, “Well, if people find out that you’re super gifted, the church might come and try to kill you or something.” But that actually doesn’t really kick in until the most recent episodes.
PETER: Yeah. It’s literally just like “They found out you’re so powerful that you’re a threat to the church. So, they want to get rid of you, because you’re so powerful.”
VRAI: Good to know.
My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex.
VRAI: Is it fully leaning into the “We’re not technically related but we’re sort of evoking the incest taboo” type series? Is it…
PETER: [Briefly starts to speak]
VRAI: Go on.
PETER: That was like episode 1, man.
PETER: They lean right in.
VRAI: Oh, I know. I also know that… Meru noted that it has a little bit better character writing than you might expect from a show that’s so upfront about its tropey premise.
CHIAKI: Mm-hm. I will say that Yume, the girl, the sister, is going through a lot of teenage growing pains, I guess, like “Oh, how does this work? I’m trying to grow into being my own person.”. There is a little bit more character development, I think, and they even try to stick Mizuto with other girls occasionally.
But it all ultimately really does come to “Oh, yeah, these two step-siblings are living together and realizing that they kinda still like each other a lot.” It’s more like they stopped dating each other after graduating middle school because they just simply lost that flame and now they’re slowly trying to remember what that flame was because of all the… Yeah. It’s exactly what you think it is, I guess.
VRAI: I mean, I gotta say, as step-sibling romance series go, this one seems… It’s not like it’s A Couple of Cuckoos. This seems pretty “They dated long before their parents were ever interested in each other and they are only starting to live together now as teenagers.” They don’t have that Westermarck effect thing going on. So, I can’t get that worked up about it.
CHIAKI: Yeah. It’s funny. I mean, it’s entertaining. It’s a show.
VRAI: It is a show. And it’s not gross? I guess what I mean as “gross,” like how’s it treating her specifically and her whole teenage-ness?
CHIAKI: I think it’s pretty fine. I don’t think there’s anything too problematic besides the premise of the show.
VRAI: Yeah. Rock on.
All right. I’m gonna skip over My Isekai Life unless there’s something notable you…
CHIAKI: It is the most boring fucking show! Holy fuck!
CHIAKI: Can I just say? Can I just say? You know, there are two shows with slavery and there are two shows with slimes that are isekais this season, right? Right?
CHIAKI: And this is the other slime isekai show (that shares with Black Summoner), and I would say if Kelvin from Black Summoner was toast, he’d be the buttered toast that landed butter side down.
CHIAKI: And Yuji in My Isekai Life is like the unbuttered, untoasted slice of Wonder Bread.
VRAI: [Laughs] All right.
CHIAKI: Okay, yeah, I’m done.
VRAI: You got it out?
VRAI: We’re good.
VRAI: All right, let’s give you a chance to rest from carrying this podcast ‘pon your catgirl shoulders, because our next title is Call of the Night. So, actually I haven’t watched any more of the anime. I noped out of that, but I did pick up the manga, and before I get into that, Alex left some notes because they have kept up with it even though they could not be here for the call today. So, if I may read their comments in full because they made me laugh. Ahem.
“This show is driving me up the wall. Picture me, clamoring the castle walls like Dracula. Woven through this potentially beautiful look at loneliness and depression and the reasons we end up feeling cut off from the daylight world, it’s always muddied by the show’s other nonsense.
“Episodes 5 and 6 are a great example of this. They introduce an exhausted office worker suffering under an abusive boss who demands her time and energy, and she puts her head down and suffers through it because she thinks this is adulthood and it’s just the way it has to be. All alone in the middle of the night, she’s offered freedom and a new perspective by running into a vampire. It would be uplifting and interesting social commentary, except that it’s all tangled up in a dumb fanservice-filled plot about Nazuna giving massages in a skimpy nurse outfit.
“The camera continues to slice up the female characters into sexy angles, including the 14-year-old girl. The uncomfortable sexual innuendo surrounding Nazuna’s relationship with protagonist Kou, who is 14 for some reason…”
Alex continues: “The show switches rapidly between highlighting that he’s young and naïve, and highlighting the sexual connotations of blood-drinking. The yuck factor of this combination is outweighing the potentially interesting thematic stuff, which I know is exactly what I said in the three-episode review, but unfortunately, things have gotten worse rather than better.”
CHIAKI: Can I just mention…
CHIAKI: … that in the latest episode they introduced six more vampires?
VRAI: See, I love lady vampires. I do.
CHIAKI: And, and, and it’s more of the same, of what was just stated?
PETER: [crosstalk] Do they play baseball?
PETER: Do they play baseball?
CHIAKI: No, not yet. They haven’t started playing baseball. But it is a choice, it is literally a choice that all of these girls are cozying up to a 14-year-old boy.
VRAI: Yeah. That is… So I picked up the manga and I was only able to get the first volume by this midseason. I might get a few more from the library. I didn’t hate reading the manga, which covers about the first four episodes of the anime.
It has basically the same issue that I ran into with My Dress-Up Darling about the fanservice, where it is still technically… you know, it’ll have a thigh shot or whatever, a closeup of Nazuna’s socks or her shorts, but it’s a small panel that takes up a sixth of a frame rather than an entire full camera frame that is on screen for five seconds and you do not control the pace.
So, it is, I think, a lot more palatable in that sense and I can see why it’s easier for folks to get past that stuff to get into the stuff that Alex kind of touched on, about this feeling of isolation and loneliness. And I think reading the manga, it comes across more clearly why… it’s in the anime; I can see it… but in the manga, particularly why people cotton to Kou as ace-coded.
But yeah, I simply cannot get past the 14-year-old thing, because if you had made Kou 17, I think that this series would work because he would be on the cusp of adulthood, he could still be sort of sheltered, and you have this girl who’s a little bit older only by like two or three years, but it seems like it’s a world of difference because it kind of is at that gap age. And she drinks beer, but she’s still immature about certain things, and I think that that give-and-take would work if he was that three years older.
But he’s not just 14; he’s a really young-feeling 14, and it skeeves me the hell out. And I think it really gets in the way of what is interesting about the series thematically, and it makes it feel just kind of fetishy instead.
CHIAKI: Yeah. I will note one thing is that a lot of delinquency starts for Japanese youth around middle school. Not sure how it is over here in the States, but kids getting out of their homes and just hanging out at midnight at train stations and picking fights, that kind of starts in middle school-ish, later middle school. So, Kou’s about that age where he would go into that mode if this were such a show.
At the same time, I also do feel that, given the emphasis on the romantic and the sexual themes of the show, I would feel so much more comfortable if Kou was even in college. And [unintelligible due to crosstalk].
VRAI: Or even if they characterized Nazuna a little bit younger. Because obviously, she’s an immortal ancient being, but she could be like an older cool senpai. But instead it feels more like Shinji and Misato. The gap feels that wide. So, I don’t know, it’s frustrating. But I’m gonna give the manga a little bit more of a chance and we’ll see how it go.
CHIAKI: And I’ll just say that, yes, I am lambasting the central premise of the show, but also, I am still watching it and this is one of the shows that I am overall enjoying.
VRAI: It’s very pretty, and it has those vampire ladies.
CHIAKI: Yeah, and I ignore Kou. That’s all I do.
VRAI: [Chuckles] Wise. All right.
This was also a big request on our Patreon poll, which is Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting. How you guys finding it?
VRAI: Peter, do you want to go ahead?
PETER: I don’t really know if I have too much to say that’s very productive. Maybe I fell into the… I don’t know what to call this. Like, a well of hope that I think a lot of people had that it might be a Househusband-like anime that actually got animation.
PETER: But I feel like that was also probably just… if you came with that expectation, you did it to yourself, and I am talking about myself. [Chuckles]
So, yeah, it’s weird because I don’t really get a yakuza feeling off of any of the yakuza characters. All of them are just very young, attractive guys who should probably be male idols and often act like male idols to varying degrees. And it has a lot of hijinks between them, so it does have the dad stuff between him and… I forgot the girl’s name… Kirishima and…
PETER: Yeah, Little Lady. That’s what he calls… Yeah, yeah.
PETER: Yaeka, yeah. So, it does have some of that, but there’s just a lot of weird stuff, like them doing a boy band thing for a little while that really just kinda confused me.
CHIAKI: Literally, literally an entire episode dedicated to them becoming YouTubers.
PETER: Yeah, so I’m pretty sure this type of show has its own audience. I just came in with false expectations, maybe based on the title.
VRAI: Yeah, I mean, my hang-up with it was it really seems like it’s uncomfortable being a yakuza show. And it is the most… You know, I touched on this in my premiere, but there’s been a lot of shows about the yakuza of being secretly cuddly or cool or some degree of softening element. Which, you know, we in the US have that with mafia stuff. I’m not here to pick that fight today. But this show specifically seems so uncomfortable with the fact that it’s about the yakuza at all. It’s weird.
PETER: Yeah, I find the same thing weird because I think… I read… There was that thing that came out recently about the average age of the members of the yakuza being over 50. They’re old. [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: They’re a dying breed. They’re a dying breed.
PETER: Yeah. And all these dudes are just super young. Even Househusband, I think, is kind of an unusual case. So, yeah, it’s a strange genre that has suddenly started to appear.
VRAI: Well, Kazuma Kiryu. I maintain it’s here because Kazuma Kiryu.
PETER: Yeah. But I mean, that dude looks… He is not like a young, kinda hot guy like…
CHIAKI: Started out that way.
VRAI: No, he’s a hot dad that everyone wants to bang.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, he’s definitely hot, but he’s not the same type of hot as Househusband or Kirishima in this show.
CHIAKI: Yeah, for this show… I mean, the dudes do… they are yakuza when the plot calls them to be yakuza. They do have that Sicko Mode button that they press sometimes. And I do think that overall, this show is very, very fluffy for what it could be, and I think it wouldn’t work otherwise.
VRAI: Mm, that’s fair.
CHIAKI: It exists in this very state that it has that balance of a guy who will literally kill you but he’s learning to love for the first time by—
PETER: To protect and attack.
CHIAKI: —protecting a small child. One thing I will note: there is a gay tattoo artist in the cast who is a very stereotypically gay guy. So, he does kind of flirt around with Kirishima a lot. They’re friends, but he’s extremely flamboyant, is one thing I will note.
VRAI: Gotcha. And is the family stuff good?
CHIAKI: Family stuff? Oh, yeah. I mean, yeah, it’s the most wholesome family you could ever expect, but the dad is just the head of an organized crime family.
PETER: Yeah, it’s even got the dead mom subplot, very single-dad anime structure, except that the single dad is Kirishima because her dad is very busy running a criminal organization. I should have said, probably, that I do like the father–daughter elements. I think those are done pretty well. It’s very cute. So, that part is… yeah, no complaints.
CHIAKI: Oh, and the other thing about the Sakuragi family is that they’re supposed to be criminals but they don’t seem to be doing any crimes.
CHIAKI: When they actually do yakuza-like stuff like beating people up and busting into people’s offices, it’s usually because the people they’re busting into are awful people themselves.
PETER: Yeah, everybody’s moving in on their turf. They don’t seem to be doing anything on their turf, but people keep moving in on it, so they gotta fight ‘em.
CHIAKI: Yeah! It’s like they’re not actually doing any crimes; they’re just being nice!
PETER: “Just stay off our turf,” yeah.
VRAI: Moving on, is there anything to add about Teppen since you covered it in our three-episode reviews?
CHIAKI: Oh, wow, this is such a weird show. I hate that I like this show.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It sounds weird.
CHIAKI: I hate that I like it. It’s weird, but it’s really well-written. I’m still hung up on the fact that it’s not hilarious. I was hoping for a hilarious show because it has “Laughin’ til You Cry” in the title, and it’s not making me laugh.
PETER: It’s about comedians, right?
CHIAKI: It’s about comedians, and the writing is so surreal. Like, episode 4 just… or no, episode 5 was it, or something? There’s an entire episode spent on a bus where it’s like you’ve entered the Twilight Zone. It just happens. And then they don’t follow up on that.
Then there’s an entire episode where they foreshadow with the biggest fucking Chekhov’s gun ever and you know how it’s going to end at the end of the episode. And you’d think, “Oh, well, that was a very chaotic episode. I bet everything’s gonna be fine the next episode.” No. No, they carry it on to the next episode. The gag keeps going even though other gags have not.
It’s so wild. I like it. But I hate that I like it.
PETER: [crosstalk] But it’s not funny? [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: But it’s not making me laugh.
PETER: All right. Interesting.
VRAI: Fair. Yeah, I mean, I’ll be honest, I am heavily considering giving it a look because anime that are committed to being extremely weird is my thing.
PETER: Mm. Banger opening, too.
CHIAKI: The opening’s nice. I think I’ve gotten tired of it after [obscured by crosstalk].
PETER: [crosstalk] Literally, my first joke question when you started talking about it was “Does the opening hold up?” [Laughs] Thanks for answering that without my asking.
VRAI: We will move on up the chain, then. Has Bakumatsu Bad Boys gotten better or worse—
VRAI: —is my question to you two.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Okay, cool.
PETER: Yeah. I remember I messaged about Akira and… who’s the crossdressing…?
PETER: Yeah, yeah, how they have this thing where both were sort of stepping out of their gender roles and all that in whatever-era Japan. And it’s just the scenes between them are getting just more and more salacious, basically. He’s just kind of being a sexual creep to Akira now, like demanding kisses in exchange for information and stuff like that. It sucks.
And also, the main plot has devolved into: main character thought brother was dead, turns out brother was just adopted by Bad Guy and wants to kill the main character now, which is something I feel like I’ve seen in shounen seven or eight times and was not good the first time.
CHIAKI: Let’s just also say that the thought-to-be dead brother is so fucking prominently featured in the opening.
CHIAKI: And the big bad guy has yellow hair and his little brother had yellow hair! You could see this coming from ten miles away. And it’s like, “Oh my God, his brother’s the bad guy?” It’s like, “No, no, fuck you. Fuck off.”
PETER: When somebody has a dead brother, I’m just like, “Oh, well, the brother’s definitely gonna show up and be evil.”
PETER: You just need to say, “My brother, who I loved, is dead,” and I know that that’s gonna…
VRAI: And we never found the body.
PETER: Chekhov’s dead brother.
CHIAKI: Yeah. [Chuckles]
VRAI: Well, so this has hurtled down from neutral way down into Red Flags! Good to know. And this one, definitely, if you had been interested in it, even with the caveats, definitely check out Chiaki’s write-up because there are a lot of things, including: the AFAB character who is presenting male is a classic case of “is this way because of sexual assault,” among other things.
CHIAKI: Yeah, and they don’t really touch on that ever since then, ever since that one hint that that’s why Akira’s like that. And also, I feel that in the most recent episodes, they are really hammering down that Akira is a girl, not a boy.
PETER: Basically, just a character for Katsura to bounce off of, which is pretty much the worst possible thing they could have done.
VRAI: All right, that’s depressing. Let’s move on to RWBY! [Chuckles] RWBY: Ice Queendom. Folks are really eager to hear about this. How’s it going?
CHIAKI: [Sighs] Why do you all like RWBY so much?
VRAI: You say as though you didn’t, after watching a couple episodes of this anime, immediately binge all of the original RWBY.
CHIAKI: [embarrassed] Shut up! Anyway…
CHIAKI: I feel like this show really needed to not have the first four episodes. I mean, they should have just junked the first four episodes or rewrote the whole thing. The fact that the triple-feature first episode, the extended first episode, condensed the entire first season of the original into an hour was an admirable attempt, but it left anyone coming in new confused, right? And then episode 4 starts up, and it’s the same thing.
If you’re coming in, even if you’re not a new viewer, it just suddenly starts in medias res of Ruby infiltrating Weiss’s dreams. And that’s the whole story of RWBY: Ice Queendom, which is: Weiss has fallen under a spell and is trapped in her dreams and the cast needs to wake her up. And so the first four episodes essentially is just fumbling with shoddy structuring of the story that you just do not know what’s going on anymore.
And finally, around episode 5 is when you’re like, “Oh, okay, I’m kind of starting to get what’s happening.” And it finds firm grounding around episode 6. The most recent episode, they finally made more headway, episode 7, and it feels like I’m watching a cohesive story now, finally, which shouldn’t be happening halfway into the cour. I should be impressed way earlier if I wanted to keep at it.
VRAI: Right. And also, as you mentioned in the Slack staff chat, focusing on Weiss means you have to do a lot of the really tiresome “she grew up prejudiced” storyline stuff.
CHIAKI: Yep. So, all of this is essentially a retelling of “Briar Rose.” She is a princess trapped in her own self-doubt, blah blah blah. She’s not good enough, but also she was raised kind of racist against Faunus, the furry people. And so there’s a lot of that in how the antagonists attack the other characters in the show.
VRAI: Are you going to watch it to the end? Are you enjoying it now that it’s found what it’s doing, or are you just kinda getting to the end?
CHIAKI: I’m gonna see if they figure out… If they finish up the story within the next two episodes or so, I’ll probably see what’s up for the next arc in the finale. If they finish everything up within episode 8 or 9 and they do some kind of epilogue thing, 10 through 12 or whatever, I’d be interested to find out more. If they drag this on for the full cour, I’ll probably bow out because I don’t have the patience for this.
VRAI: Anything to add, Peter?
PETER: Ah, not really. Having not watched the original RWBY, I feel kind of unqualified to talk about New RWBY because I feel like a lot of it relies on points of comparison, which I just can’t make. Animation Good.
CHIAKI: Yeah, no, animation is good. They do get really good ending cuts. The artist that they’ve hired is… Like, Kei Toume and Range Murata have done end cuts for them you can tell that—
PETER: Does that mean that piece of art after the ED that they…?
PETER: Oh, dang! I was leaving it before that. I need to look back now. I love those. I love it when shows do that.
CHIAKI: There’s some really good art there. And you can tell, you can absolutely tell that Shaft threw money at this. There was no expense spared.
PETER: Yeah. Oh, I should have known that because Shaft always, always, always does that. Shaft loves to do that. That’s a Shaft thing.
CHIAKI: But yeah. And I will definitely say, if you’re an OG RWBY fan, you’ll probably like this more and enjoy it being flashy and interesting. But if you’re coming in new, seriously, just start episode 4. It’ll be confusing for you if you’re coming in new, but don’t worry about it: there’s nothing to get.
VRAI: Yeah, RWBY is such an archetypal show. And listen, RWBY was not my bag, but I was a Red vs. Blue fan for a long time, so I do not say that with any knock on people who are into RWBY. But it is, especially the early going, a very archetypal show, so I feel like you could chuck yourself right in and get it.
PETER: Yeah. I think Monty Oum really wanted a vehicle for fight scenes.
PETER: Yep, and it definitely fulfilled that purpose, for sure.
VRAI: All right, so, none of us are watching Phantom of the Idol, and there wasn’t a lot of requests for it, so we did not check in on that one. Same with Extreme Hearts.
Dee left some notes on Chimimo because she is still really enjoying it. Her notes are: “So the jokes about mundane hells and heavens are generally very fun and relatable, like the hell of not being able to get a plastic bag to open at the grocery store or the joy of finding a surprise snack you’d forgotten about in your purse. The only downside are the occasional weight and dieting jokes, but it’s a pretty light touch on those.”
So, it’s still continuing in line basically with what she had written up in the three-episode review. And the nice thing about that… it’s a very soft little show, but it’s divided into two mini-eps, so it’s very digestible in small bites, which is nice. It’s a show that would get lost, I think, in a strong season, but here it’s pretty much the only standard-bearer for really nice iyashikei. So if that’s what you’re looking for, something really cute and kind of chill and sort of funny, I think this one is worth looking at.
Moving on up. This brings us into the It’s Complicated category, where I have finally done my share of the work and watched some things.
PETER: [crosstalk] Vrai’s time.
VRAI: [Chuckles] Yurei Deco is a show. I still have no confidence that Dai Sato is going to nail the landing. That said, I think that it has gotten a lot stronger now that it has moved away from the linear narrative of the first three episodes and into being an episodic detective story. The detective episodes are much better at not being didactic and doing a little bit more of a “Hm, really makes you think.”
The show’s still a little bit in love with “Analog, good” and romanticizing that to a small extent, but it’s gotten a lot better about not doing “the kids these days and their phones” type stuff and having a slightly more balanced view of “technology is a useful tool, but you don’t want to get too buried into it”; and touching on episodes about false information and how easy that is to spread online and rumors and why are they such an enduring part of human society.
I like that Hack is agender even if Hack is also a desperate bid to make a new Ed.
VRAI: They’re so fun.
PETER: I literally wrote down something like “Hack is ‘We’ve got Edward at home.’”
VRAI: [taken aback] Oh!
VRAI: It’s mean, but it’s true.
VRAI: It’s really pretty and I won’t regret watching it all the way to the end. I think it’s fun. It definitely has the air of a kids’ show in the level at which it’s writing its thematic stuff. I don’t think it’s coming for Den-noh Coil’s crown anytime soon, as far as—
CHIAKI: Hard to top that.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah. And in fairness, Den-noh Coil had two cours, but it was also a much more grounded human show about augmented reality and the future and legacies of digital footprints—and Den-noh Coil’s good. We have a watchalong about it. Y’all should listen to those and watch it.
But yeah, I think that if you are braced for the fact that this might all fall apart at the end, it is an interesting episode-to-episode ride. What do you think, Peter?
PETER: I was pretty much the same. I read your write-up where you were like, “Man, it sure is talking about a lot of complex stuff, and there’s no way to know if it’s gonna land on its feet or not.” I am kind of expecting it to go full Deca-dence, where it’s like, “Everything will be okay if you just appeal to authority” at the end or something. “And then the authority will change because that’s how this works.” So, we’ll see.
In the meantime, it’s got really strong Kaiba vibes to me, which I am enjoying a lot.
VRAI: It has that similar color palette.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And Cat-Man is very good.
VRAI: Ah, love Watson. And you know, Finn is GNC as fuck and that’s cool.
PETER: I really liked the detective agency. All of them are really good characters.
VRAI: Yeah, they’re fun. I will say the other thing that does bother me about this series is it feels like its emotional beats are really flimsy. For a series that is about technology and humanity and should theoretically maybe be about transhumanism a bit, it is really lackadaisical about how it treats the death of AI.
PETER: Oh, with the architect’s ramen?
VRAI: That and the little… the Nue. It was like, “Oh, that’s a little sad, I guess. Anyway, moving on.”
PETER: Yeah, maybe that’s what bothered me about the ramen episode. It just felt like they introduced what should have been a very important character that just gets murdered real quick, and they don’t even have time to contemplate the machine’s death who was potentially the architect of the entire city.
VRAI: Yeah, its death mainly serves to further the ongoing mystery. There’s no moment for like, “Oh, this was a new friend we made and a sentient being who has been here literally since the city was formed.” It felt weird.
PETER: Who had hobbies and interests and a joie de vivre and all that. Yeah, that is messed up.
VRAI: I’m just keeping my expectations so very low for this, so I’m not mad at it, I guess, but I no longer expect it to be revelatory or mind-blowing in any sense.
Lycoris Recoil, a show I would have dropped in a season that was better.
CHIAKI: I like guns.
VRAI: Yeah? Do you like guns, do you like girls?
CHIAKI: It’s better than Gunslinger Girls.
VRAI: That’s true, but that’s a low bar.
PETER: I don’t know. I felt like Gunslinger Girls at least had some respect for the inherent horror of what they’re doing.
VRAI: Yeah, but in kind of a weird, fetishy way.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, definitely, for sure. But my main problem with Lycoris Recoil is it is about orphan girls being turned into child soldiers and regularly shows them getting brutally killed. A bunch of them die in a train station bombing from a terrorist. One gets hit by a car at high speed and then four dudes get out and just fill her body with bullets. It’s gruesome shit.
And then the rest of the time, it’s just Chisato and Takina…
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Tee-heeing around.
VRAI: [crosstalk] They go shopping for panties because God forbid this girl wear boxers.
VRAI: I hated that episode.
PETER: [crosstalk] And shooting rubber bullets because they don’t want to hurt nobody.
VRAI: Yeah. Alex had hopes for this one that it might have anything to say about the fact that these girls are tools of state-sponsored murder. It does not. This is just a “girls with guns, guns cool” type show. And maybe it has a few nods towards “killing is bad,” but in a very platitudinous sort of way.
I will say, after the most recent episode, my vibe on this series… which, to be fair, in the moment-to-moment, has been engaging and fun to watch. It’s very pretty. And also, what’s interesting to me is that it’s clearly somebody’s baby because the director, the series composer… this is his first head director and it’s his first time as series composer. He’s had a really long, storied history as a key animator and an animation director, but he’s never stepped into these roles where he’s directing, he’s in charge of the story. Clearly this is this dude’s baby.
But mainly, after the most recent episode, my vibe is: “Why isn’t this show about Mika and his Magneto ex?”
PETER: Oh, yeah, yeah. That was actually one of the… I was like, “Wait, this is compelling? I did not expect this at all! What’s going on here?” I hope they don’t just drop it.
VRAI: He’s going to have to kill him before this series is over.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yep, I feel that way. That was completely out of left field for me. I didn’t think they’d go that direction. I thought it was literally a one-off joke about… you know, they’re just like, “Oh, he’s meeting another guy. Is he gay? We shouldn’t pry.” And then you’re like, “Oh, no, wait.”
VRAI: They dropped a line or two about it early on, but it was in that kind of way where it’s like, “Well, I have no faith in this going anywhere.” And then it did. But yeah, I do love Gay Child Soldier Dad and I want the show to be about him instead.
PETER: Yeah, that is my greatest point of interest in the plot doing anything at this point.
CHIAKI: I do think that the… I mean, the terrorist guy isn’t really that interesting, but I’m hoping that they make him more interesting as we hit the end of the season.
PETER: Yeah, because he was part of the boy equivalent of Lycoris [pronounced like “licorice”], right? Or Lycor— I don’t know how you’re supposed to pronounce it.
CHIAKI: Lycoris? [pronounced Li-CORE-iss]
PETER: Yeah, yeah. They had a boy’s program and he came from that, right?
VRAI: LilyBell or something like that?
PETER: Oh, yeah, LilyBell.
VRAI: You know, to this show’s credit, I am invested in Chisato, enough that I will keep watching to the end, I think, because I like her.
PETER: Yeah, Chisato and Takina are great. I think they’ve made them both really charming and interesting, and the stuff they do is really cool. It’s just the world surrounding them doesn’t match that vibe, you know?
CHIAKI: If they weren’t assassins.
PETER: Yeah, so I get why people are really attracted to the show based off those two and their dynamic, for sure.
CHIAKI: I do appreciate those two. I am entertained by this show, and I am thinking about reinstalling Payday 2, but…
PETER: Good soundtrack.
CHIAKI: Yeah. But overall, I recognize all of these issues you guys point out and totally agree.
VRAI: This is the kind of show that has a solid core and many things to like about it, but also a lot of secondary things that absolutely would have made me drop it before now, like the fact that we have the quote-unquote “older woman” who’s maybe 25, who drinks a lot and can’t get a date!
PETER: Thank you.
VRAI: And the tiny gremlin who’s always barefoot in a way that starts to seem a little sus with her giant, oversized sweater and the “you have to act in a prescribed feminine” manner; and we have character designs who are GNC as fuck and even a fat character, but they all belong to the state-sanctioned murder organization or have two seconds of screen time, and our two lead girls are appropriately normatively feminine. And I’m cranky and old and tired.
PETER: Yeah, thanks for… My least-favorite trope maybe is the Christmas Cake Woman. I hate that so much every time. I just yell at my screen every time that thing appears. It sucks.
VRAI: But yeah, I don’t mean to leave it on such a crabby note because…
CHIAKI: Hey, hey, okay… Good note, good note: man, those pistol shooting motions, man.
PETER: Yeah. Crazy sakuga.
CHIAKI: [Sighs appreciatively] Ah!
VRAI: Yeah, the show directed by the animation veteran looks very genuinely quite nice and it’s well-choreographed and well-boarded, and that’s—
VRAI: That’s few and far between this season. You know, at least you can come here and get it and not Engage Kiss, a show that is gross.
PETER: Yeah. I feel like if there weren’t so many scenes of teenage girls being brutally murdered, I would really be way more positive about this show, actually, because then it could sell to me the fact that the villain is zany and that the mistress of the Lycoris organization means well and is doing the best for Japan and stuff.
If these girls weren’t constantly getting murdered, these orphan child soldiers weren’t just brutally dying on screen all the time, I would… it’s like, okay, there are positive vibes because it’s more of a comic-booky good-versus-evil thing where there aren’t dead bodies in the streets.
VRAI: All right, we are getting towards the last ten of the podcast. Let’s do our last two. Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer. I couldn’t make myself watch this. Caitlin is behind and she was the most excited for it on the team. How are you guys doing?
CHIAKI: Okay, just to make sure, I dropped it at three episodes, and brah, you convinced me to come back to it for this podcast.
VRAI: I begged you. I said, “Please. Please, please. It’s all I can do to catch up on these other shows for the podcast. Please, Chiaki, it’s my hour of need.” And for this I owe you.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I mean, Shinonome comes on to the scene. He’s very thirsty for Asahina’s sister. That’s something to look out for. He’s kind of a pest. But don’t worry about him too much, because…
PETER: [Laughs] He doesn’t remain a problem too long!
CHIAKI: But yeah, I feel like people who are expecting something with more levity might be shocked to find out that this is a show that does have character death, quite gruesome in some cases. So, do watch out for that.
Still… I’m not sure. I’m not sure. It feels like all of what’s happening in these last few episodes is supposed to have taken place over a longer period of time so that I can develop a closer relationship to these characters. But it feels like they’re just introducing characters left and right, people are dying, and I’m just like, “Was I supposed to care about that person?”
PETER: Yep. Yeah, I remember during Hangetsu’s death scene I was just like… I think he was introduced either the episode before or that episode, and—
CHIAKI: Two episodes.
PETER: I did not feel like there had been enough time for me to really… And I wondered, since both this show and Planet With move so quickly, I’m wondering if that’s just a Mizukami thing. But either way it’s really making me appreciate the power of a good director, because I felt like Planet With’s story was moving so quickly but all of the beats felt really good. And in this one it just feels like they’re going a mile a minute; I can’t develop attachments to anything.
CHIAKI: You have Asahina’s sister going like, “I think I loved him,” and it’s like, “You gave no indication that that was the case!”
VRAI: I’ve seen some people saying that this is one where, even though the anime makes a couple updates—takes out some of the panty shots thankfully—it’s still one where if you’re curious about the story, you should just go pick up the manga. Does that ring true to you guys or…?
CHIAKI: Yes? Yeah…
PETER: Is the manga available? I don’t even know.
CHIAKI: I have no idea.
VRAI: I don’t…
CHIAKI: I mean, it will for me!
PETER: [crosstalk] Can’t you read the manga?
CHIAKI: I can read, yeah.
VRAI: I mean, it was released in English legally. I don’t know if it’s still in print. I guess what I could say with more confidence is if you’ve liked the premise of this but felt let down by the execution, you can always watch Planet With instead. It has a Blu-ray now.
PETER: Yeah, for sure. I do want to say… I can’t remember if this was really a component in Planet With, but something that I want to say I really liked about this story so far is they have this thing with Yuuhi’s grandfather where he was abusive, and he basically abused him… It came from grief, I think, of Yuuhi’s mom’s death or something. He locked him in his room. I think he literally chained him up or something like that because he was afraid of Yuuhi dying, as well.
But that’s super fucked up and the series recognizes that, and then his grandfather’s dying, so he goes to visit him and his grandfather basically apologizes. He said, like, “I realize what I [did] to you is monstrous. I’m sorry.” And he did not forgive him, and the show did not fault him for not forgiving him.
VRAI: That’s nice to see.
PETER: Yeah, a lot of time in anime, it acts like it’s the responsibility of children to forgive their parents for fucked-up things that they did to them out of love. It absolutely does not do that and goes, like, “Even if you love somebody, sometimes they do things you can’t forgive, and it’s perfectly fine not to forgive somebody.” And I thought that was a really good message. It does ring a bell with Planet With. It’s been a while. I can’t remember if they had a similar subplot. But I was thinking about that.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] There were some parental strife in Planet With, yeah.
PETER: Okay. But that’s good.
VRAI: Ah, update: Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, the manga is out. It’s ten volumes by Seven Seas. So you can read it if you are interested. Because yeah, it’s an interesting premise and it feels like the series engages with the topic of trauma in interesting ways, and Samidare is cool.
PETER: I feel like this series is also very aware of shounen tropes and pokes fun at them a lot, which is fun to see. I felt like if the comedic timing was a bit better, a lot of the jokes would have really landed for me. But yeah, manga might be great.
CHIAKI: Yeah, overall, there are things that I recognize would be interesting in the show as I watched it, but then it’s executed so poorly. I am just, like, playing mahjong on the side.
VRAI: Which is a shame.
All right, last one, we almost made it: Tokyo Mew New. So I know that Meru is still really vibing with this, and as they brought up in the three-episode review, they’re a big, longtime fan. They were really nostalgic about this.
I am somebody who read the manga when Tokyopop did their translation—so, you know, grain of salt—but by the time 4Kids did their hatchet job of Mew Mew Power, I was in high school, so I didn’t even have the buy-in of nostalgia to the edited version like I do with Yu-Gi-Oh! and I never really looked up the original anime. So I’m coming at it from a slightly different place.
That said, this really feels like a nostalgic highlight reel. I have had fun watching it. I think that the scenes with the girls are still really fun. It looks better than Sailor Moon Crystal; it has some of the same problems I have with Sailor Moon Crystal. I like whenever it’s doing friendship stuff. I hate every single dude in this show. They all suck. Well, the dessert guy can stay. He’s okay. But…
CHIAKI: Nah, they suck.
VRAI: And it does have this thing that I find interesting, and I think that is affecting the texture of the show, in that the five girls are all voiced by brand-new actors. Either this is their first role, or a couple of them had smaller parts in Cue, that voice acting anime. And meanwhile, the dudes are all voiced by these mind-blowingly veteran actors.
That’s not to say I think that the women are doing a bad job. I just think that at times their lack of experience shows, and sometimes in a good way where it’s a little more naturalistic; sometimes there are lines where you can tell they’re struggling. I think maybe it might be feeding into my general bad-feels vibe where I really want to punch Aoyama in the throat and push Quiche off a cliff.
CHIAKI: Just so we’re clear, I only remember Aoyama’s name and I actually don’t remember any of the other guys, like blonde boy and the other one.
VRAI: “Kish”? Quiche. I find it funny to reiterate that. This is not me putting the subtitles on blast, because I know that there was a lot of consideration [put] into nostalgia factors and fan spellings over the years with this series. But this dude sucks and he deserves to be remembered by the fact that his name is a pun for a pastry.
CHIAKI: I will say, who names their child Lettuce? Straight-up fucking Lettuce.
VRAI: [Chuckling] It’s mean!
CHIAKI: That’s like naming a child Sephiroth.
CHIAKI: I will point out one thing, and I’m sure most people who’ve seen this or are watching this are already aware, but Bu-Ling (Purin, I guess) is extremely the Acrobatic Chinese stereotype…
VRAI: Very much.
CHIAKI: …that I would like to point out as something that’s kind of held over and probably shouldn’t have. It should have been toned down considerably.
VRAI: Yeah, she feels like she’s from that same era as Shampoo in Ranma ½. And maybe part of it is the streamlined narrative, but she’s got a lot less going on than the other girls and… hm.
CHIAKI: Yeah. [With false cheer] She’s the happy-go-lucky monkey. Yeah! Okay! [Returns to normal voice] I’m like, cool. That’s… [Inhales sharply] The Chinese one is the monkey. Cool. [Sighs] Sure.
VRAI: Yeah, don’t… Mm. Yep.
CHIAKI: I’m just kinda watching it but I’m not exactly impressed. I’m playing mahjong while I watch this. [Laughs]
PETER: Is that your official rating scale? Like, how many mahjong games… [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: Yeah, mahjong requires concentration. If I’m playing Final Fantasy XIV, that means I can pause and generally watch, right? And then probably the worst is I’m watching something else on Netflix while watching the other show.
CHIAKI: But you know…
PETER: I’m eager to hear the full write-up about your rating scale.
VRAI: Very crucial.
I think the biggest impression this has left on me… The lack of impact on us aside, it really does seem to be hitting well for folks who are big fans of the original and want that nostalgia hit. It looks pretty. So, for that, I think it is doing the job it set out to do.
This has really emphasized the fact that there is no legal US release of the subtitled version of the 2000s Tokyo Mew Mew, and that sucks. Tweet at Discotek for them to license-rescue it, because we deserve more shoujo license rescues.
CHIAKI: More cat girls.
VRAI: And gay bird girls, I guess. That’s not really a trope, but I do like Mint a lot.
CHIAKI: Yeah, she’s good. Can’t get over Lettuce, though.
VRAI: No, that’s… And her animal is the porpoise! They’re really trying to make it cute, but it’s rough! Girl…
PETER: Feel bad for you.
CHIAKI: I’m sorry that you’re Lettuce.
VRAI: But I don’t know. And I’ll be interested to see whether this ends up just being the single-cour standalone or if they greenlight future seasons. It really feels like as I’m watching it, I just recognize these were clearly big moments in the original but we’re going so fast that I haven’t had time to let it sink in, and that makes me a little sad. I wish that I could point people towards “Here’s where you watch the 52-episode one.”
CHIAKI: I’m coming in fresh. I’ve never seen the original. And there’s no weird choppiness to it, at least for me. So, I’m watching it and digesting it.
VRAI: Yeah. I guess the last thing, to be more helpful and specific than just saying he sucks, Meru noted that Aoyama has some kind of possessive traits in their three-episode review, and Quiche in specific… I have enjoyed the character archetype that’s “the villain who flirts with the hero and they’re a little bit menacing, but that’s kind of what’s appealing about them.” He’s really hard on the sexual menace in a very grabby way that makes me uncomfortable. It is out of balance, I feel like, with what makes the trope work in this particular genre and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I feel bad leaving on such a dark note. My God, this season has been disappointing. You know what…
CHIAKI: Did we say anything good about any of these shows?
CHIAKI: Teppen. Okay, I said—
VRAI: We said some good things about some of them. Partially.
CHIAKI: Yeah, okay.
VRAI: Okay, but I’ve been playing Blue Reflection: Second Light and really enjoying that. That’s a good, gay magical girl thing. So, that’s my limp attempt to save this at the end. I’m really sorry, listeners.
If there is something we missed that you want to talk about or something you feel like you’re really enjoying this season, give us a shout in the comments. We would love to hear from ya. Otherwise, that wraps us up for the midseason. At least at the season end, we’ll get to talk about sequels, where we can finally talk about the best anime airing this season, Shadows House season 2.
CHIAKI: Oh, not Rent-A-Girlfriend?
VRAI: No. Not that one! You can talk about it.
PETER: You’re talking about it, though. [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: [Chuckles sardonically] Okay.
VRAI: All right, all right. That wraps us up for this one. Thank you so much for joining us, AniFam. If you liked what you heard, you can find more on the page and in your ears by going to animefeminist.com.
If you really liked what you heard, consider tossing us $1 a month on Patreon. It helps us to pay our contributors and our staff and to continue bringing content to you. And as I mentioned at the top of the series, become a $1 patron and you can help decide what we focus on discussing during the seasonal podcasts.
And finally, if you would like to get some cool merch for the progressive geek on-the-go, we have a store! If you go to animefeminist.com/store, you can find all kinds of cute designs on shirts, stickers, water bottles, the whole suite.
And until next time, AniFam: really consider looking at your backlog this season. Really give it a look.
CHIAKI: You know it’s bad when I’m on here.
VRAI: Yeah, actually, just everyone say thank you to Chiaki in the comments. That is what I need you all to take away from this particular podcast, is the incredible amount of work she has done.
CHIAKI: No, I mean, these are the shows that I normally watch. [Chuckles] You know it’s a bad season when you’re inviting me onto the show.
PETER: Thanks for eating all this trash.
CHIAKI: Mm, delicious!
VRAI: All right. Bye-bye.