Vrai, Peter, and Dee try their best to wrap-up the thematically dense Fall 2022 season!
Date Recorded: January 8, 2023
Hosts: Vrai, Peter, and Dee
0:01:58 My Master Has No Tail
0:06:37 Do It Yourself!
0:10:41 Raven of the Inner Palace
0:18:25 Chainsaw Man
0:23:19 Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury
0:31:11 I’m the Villainess so I’m Taming the Final Boss
0:38:02 BOCCHI THE ROCK!
0:48:47 Akiba Maid War
Sequels & Carryovers
0:58:35 SPY x FAMILY cour 2
1:02:49 Pop Team Epic Season 2
1:04:24 Mob Psycho 100 III
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF: The Anime Feminist Podcast. This is our fall 2022 wrap-up, where we go back and check on the most recent seasonal anime and see whether or not they stuck the landing. My name is Vrai. I’m the managing content editor at Anime Feminist. You can sort of find me on Twitter @WriterVrai, where I post freelancing stuff, or… you can join our Discord, basically, at this point. I’m not on social media a lot right now. And with me is Peter and Dee.
PETER: Yeah, I’m Peter Fobian. I’m a manager of YouTube strategy and content at Crunchyroll and an editor here at Anime Feminist.
DEE: Hi, I’m Dee. I also go here. You can find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Mastodon @joseinextdoor. I’m trying to expand my social media presence in case Twitter implodes tomorrow. That having been said, I’m still mostly active on Twitter, so follow me there and you can hear me dissolve into a puddle in real time as Pokémon ends in the upcoming months.
VRAI: [Chuckles] Aw! Ah, bud. You can do it.
DEE: I am simultaneously ready for a finale and incredibly not ready for a finale. It’ll be great. That’s not what this episode’s about! Continue.
VRAI: No! All right, as I mentioned, this is our season wrap-up. If this is the first time you’ve joined us for one of these, what we do is we go from the bottom of our Premiere Digest and work upwards. Sometimes shows move around in where they’d be “categorized,” quote-unquote, from their first episode, but it’s easiest to have a static list that people can reference back to.
So, for our season end podcast, we also cover sequels, which means we are going to be skipping right to the Neutral Zone with My Master Has No Tail, which, Dee, you finished. I think you are the only one on the cast who finished it. I had the best intentions, but I’m just gonna read the manga.
DEE: Yeah. I wasn’t the only person on staff who finished it, but yeah, I’m the only person on call who did. Yeah, My Master Has No Tail, what we finally called “Tanukigo” on staff because it’s the tanuki rakugo show! And it was an easier shorthand than whatever I could have come up with [for] Master Has No Tail.
Anyway, I like this show a lot. I was a fan of the manga going in, because this series is custom-made for me. It is a historical fantasy comedy about a tanuki doing rakugo. Somebody worked on this in a studio and went, “This show is for Dee. We made this for her. Here, have it!” [Chuckles] Which I appreciate.
There’s not a whole lot, as far as content consideration type stuff: pretty much everything I mentioned in the three-episode check-in and that got talked about briefly on the podcast at the midseason. The back half is pretty unobjectionable. I think there’s some mild fanservice in one episode, but it’s very sporadic and very mild, yeah. Otherwise, I think the back half of the show is where the manga really found its stride and I thought the anime did a nice job of adapting the material.
It’s not a super-duper dynamic adaptation, and I will continue to say that I think the rakugo performances probably could have been better done. But also, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju set an absurdly high bar for what I think rakugo performances in anime should look like, so maybe that’s unfair to My Master Has No Tail. But I did think the—
VRAI: Although, speaking of…
DEE: Uh-huh? Oh, yeah, Ishida gets… It’s almost a meta joke. Akira Ishida, who played the lead in Rakugo Shinju (and absolutely nailed it out of the park; best performance of a very terrific career) … he’s one of the four masters who are major characters in the second half. And it’s kind of a meta joke, like his character is kind of the old grump of the group, and I love it! He doesn’t get to do a lot of performance work, but it was good to hear him in a rakugoka role again. And I know that they intentionally cast him in that part. I know that was like an inside anime joke. So I appreciated that.
No, the back half is… it expands the cast. You get more of Bunko’s backstory and history and the lineage of that rakugo performance line, the Daikokutei family. And I think that expansion of the world, and especially Bunko as a character, is really where the series takes off, because it’s fun up until that point, but at that point, the relationships between the characters really start to solidify, you start to see Mameda coming into her own as a performer.
I would love for this to get a second cour. I don’t think it would, but I would love it if it did because I’ve continued to keep up with the manga and I really, really like the arcs that come after… The Four Masters arc, I really enjoyed, and then everything that’s come after that, I’ve also really, really liked. So, if you enjoy this at all, I would recommend the manga, 100%. At this point, it does kind of function as an adaptation for the manga. That having been said, they do find a satisfying stopping point. Even reading it, I was like, “Oh, this is where the anime’s going to end,” and I was right. So, yeah.
Again, there’s a little bit of fanservice. There’s one character who’s grabby towards Mameda, and it’s played off as a joke, and it happens like once in the anime and like three times in the manga over the course of like eight volumes. So it’s very sporadic, but obviously it is something to keep in mind.
But if that’s not an automatic dealbreaker for you, I think this is a really fun series about the tension between the past and the present and how art and entertainment can create connections between generations, individuals, different cultures. Those are all throughlines in the story in addition to it just being a very charming and fun little fantasy comedy series about a tanuki learning rakugo from a fox spirit. So, yeah, I like this one a lot. Even if you don’t like the anime, go read the manga. It’s fun. Okay, The End. [Chuckles]
VRAI: I am looking forward to reading the manga. I am. Nice.
All right. Well, that’s a good primer on that one, which moves us up quite a few more paces to Do It Yourself!! I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this one. I quite liked it. I thought it wrapped up in a very pleasant, relaxing sense. It’s a good hobby show.
I think one of my favorite things about it, ultimately, is—I think I mentioned this on the midseason—the fact that it is a series about doing things by hand and analog things that isn’t “Grr, kids on their phones these days.” It very much embraces technology in a sense of “Technology is great. Technology opens up a lot of new cool things we can do, including crafting,” but also it’s like, “If you have this time because of the convenience of technology, what do you want to do? What brings you happiness?” And I think that’s a really nice sweet spot.
And also, the back half, I think, really eases off on the funny klutz stuff, which I’ve had a little… overdone in the first few episodes. So, that was nice, too.
DEE: Yeah, I finished this one. This one was when I quasi-dropped halfway through the season, just because I was keeping up with a lot of shows and I went on holiday and got busy. I did come back to it and finish it. It was nice. I don’t think it’s one that’s necessarily going to stick with me. But yeah, it’s nice.
It’s one of those… There’s some girl hobby shows where I’m like, “Even if you’re not really into that genre, I think you might like this.” With DIY, I think you need to like that genre at least a little bit because it’s very much that. But it does a very good job within that genre of “chill out and learn a hobby” type shows. So, yeah.
And I think you guys covered all the more critical aspects of it in the midseason, so, probably just direct folks to that. I don’t think there was anything new that cropped up in the back half that would need to be discussed in detail here.
VRAI: Not that I… There’s the one really bizarre scene of the little robot watching Jobko and Purin having a fight in the bath and waxing about the poetry of youth, that is bizarre and never comes up again. And it’s not like the bathing scenes are sexualized, so it’s just this weird scene.
PETER: I hate that robot.
PETER: Never funny and just kinda weird and leery.
DEE: I was on the robot’s side at first because I felt like Purin was treating him like shit. “It”? It doesn’t really have a gender, right? It’s a robot.
VRAI: It’s a robot.
DEE: It’s a jellyfish robot. But then in the back half, it felt like it was hovering in weird ways, and I was like, “Mm, I don’t know what this character is now.” But it finally got its upgrade, so, good for it.
VRAI: It’s not quite the robot from Flip Flappers but it could have been, was the feeling I had.
DEE: [crosstalk] No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It wasn’t. Yeah. Yeah, there’s… Yeah, the back half, there’s quite a few bathing scenes. They’re not framed in a leering way, but there were definitely moments where I was like… There’s some scenes where it’s like, okay, you’re using the bath as a time of intimacy and quiet where Purin can let down her guard a little bit, and I think that makes sense thematically. Then there were definitely times where I’m like, “Did you have to set this scene in the bath? Did you have to do that, DIY?” So, your mileage may vary with that. Overall, it didn’t really bother me. But yeah.
VRAI: Yeah, fair enough.
DEE: Yeah, that’s all I got. [Chuckles]
VRAI: Yeah. All right. Reincarnated as a Sword, none of us on here are watching it. Chiaki’s discussion of it in our work Slack was pretty much “Yeah, it is what it is,” so basically nothing new to report since the short commentary she had on the midseason. I think we can move on from there, because there’s a lot to talk about.
DEE: [crosstalk] I think it’s—
VRAI: Go on.
DEE: I think it’s getting a season 2, I think Chiaki mentioned. So, there will be more of it and maybe she’ll have more to talk about when that drops.
VRAI: Nice. But there is a lot to talk about with Raven of the Inner Palace, so I want to kind of hustle onto that. It doesn’t have an ending, Dee.
DEE: Yeah, I was kind of surprised at the way it sort of just stopped. And I don’t know if that’s because they didn’t actually… Because I thought they were going to try to blaze through seven light novels in 13 episodes. Maybe they didn’t adapt the whole thing, or maybe it intentionally ends sort of open-ended. I won’t know until all the novels are out in English, and I will be reading them, which is my way of saying I do recommend the show despite it kind of just stopping.
DEE: They wrap up the major arcs, but there’s kind of an overarching story with her and the emperor that it feels like there was supposed to be something else there, some conclusion to… I want to call her Jusetsu because that’s what they say, but it’s Shouxue, I believe?
DEE: Yeah, because the series uses the Chinese names in the subs but the characters use the Japanese pronunciation of the kanji. So, Jusetsu, Shouxue, whatever you want to call her. There’s a lot going on with her, and we get kind of a big reveal in the back half about the god, effectively, that she works with and gets her powers from, and it’s a big reveal and then… Yeah, it definitely feels like there’s a few episodes missing.
But again, that having been said, I really enjoyed this series. I really, really liked it and I’m excited to read the light novels and I’m curious to see if there’s more to the story or if the concept is like “There are things in our lives that we can’t necessarily control, and we do the best we can within the boundaries of how we exist.” And maybe that is the point of the series and so there isn’t going to be a tidy conclusion to some of the plot points we learn later on in the show. So, maybe that’s the point. I’m curious.
VRAI: Yeah, maybe. I would, if I had to take bets, guess that it’s an incomplete adaptation. It does the thing that I’ve seen a lot of incomplete adaptations do over the years, which is where they find sort of a… It reminded me of the end of the Land of the Lustrous anime, where they find a place of emotional closure for Shouxue, where she kind of comes face to face with this fact that she’s both afraid to rely on people and afraid to be alone, and sort of ties that up… not concludes it, but reaches a place of growth for her that’s really satisfying.
But also, it’s leaving a lot on the table with her relationship with Gaojun, where it’s kind of turning into a love interest territory. But I did enjoy how much effort the show places into developing their friendship without… There’s a sense of attraction between them, but it’s not like, well, the friendship is a transitory state to when they decide to smooch. It feels important that they have this mutual care for each other, and I really like that about the show.
DEE: Yeah, me too. And I really like that there’s a pretty big moment shortly past the midway point where they basically realize that Shouxue’s role was supposed to be equal to the emperor and then patriarchy happened and she got shuffled into this consort role where she was… not her specifically, but the line of Raven Consorts were hidden away. And Gaojun comes to her and goes, “Hey, that’s wrong, and you should have that power that your role is supposed to have.” And effectively, they meet as equals, and then it’s really after that that I think their relationship starts to develop into more of a romantic area.
So, I really liked that point in the story where they really made a point of going, “We’re trying to remedy some of these…” The whole show is about remedying the crimes of the past, right? Like, the oppressions and the inequalities and the wrongs that had happened with the previous generations and trying to find a way forward that is more equitable. And watching the show grapple with that within the confines of “We still live in a society where there’s a lot of people who would disagree with that,” I think it’s very interesting to watch and I like the way the show approaches that, because I don’t think it’s easy and simple and I appreciate when media tries to talk about that.
VRAI: I do think it runs into a little bit of trouble… and I assume that this comes up more in the light novels, because in prose you just have more room to develop this kind of stuff. But I think it occasionally stumbles on the fact that your love interest is the emperor who nominally has unilateral say on everything.
And obviously, the later episodes try to get a bit into “Well, there’s other power play considerations going on here” and the potential of a coup if you go too far, but I think, especially in that first half, sometimes you face up with the question “Well, why can’t he just fix…? Why can’t he just say, ’Okay,’ fix things for specific people, even?”
DEE: Yeah. You know, and maybe it’s just I’ve watched a lot of Chinese-inspired court fantasy-type stories and knowing what I do know about… and I took some courses on dynastic history, so, knowing what I know about that time period, I went into this with the context of: the emperor has a lot of power but still has to get things passed through various ministers and you’ve got to keep the aristocracy happy. And it’s not “The king can do as he likes,” necessarily. You can go tyrant mode to an extent, but you have to get rid of a lot of people along the way. It gets bloody fast!
VRAI: Fair! [unintelligible due to crosstalk]
DEE: And Gaojun… that’s obviously not how he wants to build his line. I mean, that’s kind of how his line starts but that’s not where he wants to go from there.
PETER: Well, it’s the starting point.
DEE: Yeah, it is the starting point, and so I think that it’s that repeating the mistakes of the past and then going, “Wait, how do we not do that anymore?” So, that didn’t necessarily bother me because I was like, yeah, no, you have to jump through a lot of hoops to make actual lasting changes to the culture and the legal system and what-have-you.
Again, I hope there’s more in the light novels because I would really like to see where the story was taking those themes, or, you know, season 2 would be great, small studio that did this show.
VRAI: Yeah. I’m not holding my breath but I’d like it. Apparently… I mean, it seems like it did okay. At least, it kept popping up on the Most Watched roll on the Crunchyroll homepage.
DEE: That’s a good sign. Yeah, I think it was a solid adaptation. I liked some of the visual decisions they made. There’s a lot of people standing around in the room talking, but that’s also what the story is. So, yeah, I recommend it and I’d like there to be more of it. The end. [Chuckles]
VRAI: Same! Housing Complex C, you basically covered all of. We don’t need to talk about that.
DEE: I covered the whole thing in the three-episode review. Moving past.
VRAI: You did. Ah, Chainsaw Man! Peter, do you want to talk for a minute? Chainsaw Man’s a lot.
PETER: Oh, I’m trying to even remember what we talked about last time to see if there’s any other developing points we could discuss, or if it was just like, yeah, we got it.
VRAI: Chainsaw Man’s better when it’s an ensemble show. There. That’s my main point about the second half, because, man, the middle bit started to be kind of a slog, because Denji is a well-written character, he has understandable trauma, and he kind of fucking sucks in some ways. So, the show’s a lot more engaging to watch when he is, like I said, part of an ensemble.
And also, getting away from him as the point-of-view character means we’ve also gotten away from… 95% of the female characters we’ve introduced are framed through trying to manipulate Denji with sexual favors, which is only good for the show. So now the cast has also expanded a bit. We get to see characters—
PETER: [crosstalk] And are attracted to him.
VRAI: Uh-huh. And, yes, in other ways.
DEE: Yeah, things can linger longer. I don’t know what you guys are talking about. I don’t go here. [Chuckles] I have decided not to watch Chainsaw Man, because I’m a hipster. Adjusts glasses.
PETER: [deadpan] Wow, so cool.
DEE: [Chuckles] No, there’s a particular… Vrai basically said, “It’s kind of like Devilman Crybaby. So if you liked that, you’ll like this,” and I went, “I didn’t like that, so…”
PETER: Oh, really? I didn’t like Devilman Crybaby but I really like Chainsaw Man, so I don’t know if you can take that advice.
DEE: [crosstalk] Okay. Well, yeah.
VRAI: It’s less relentless than Crybaby is.
DEE: I think if I ever give Chainsaw Man—I’ll give it a try in manga form, but honestly it reminds me of something like Berserk, where it’s not something I particularly enjoy watching but I really like hearing people who are enthusiastic about it talk about it. So, I would like to sit down with fans of Chainsaw Man and have them narrate the entire story to me… [Chuckles]
VRAI: Dee, we will do this for you.
DEE: [crosstalk] … around a campfire. I think that would be the best way for me personally to experience Chainsaw Man.
PETER: Are You Afraid of the Dark? style.
VRAI: The manga’s not a bad way to go, honestly. I think the anime has been quite pretty. It’s certainly very shiny. But it just… It’s like CLAMP, right? You just can’t replicate Fujimoto’s paneling at a certain point because he’s so good at creating this sort of breathtaking detail work.
PETER: There’s literally some manga panel stuff that you cannot do in anime, like stuff outside in the gutters and whatnot. Some of it’s unadaptable to the anime medium. So, you can only get that through the manga, for sure. They did their best trying to do it in the anime, but you’re not going to get the same thing. Also true of Land of the Lustrous actually. Just some manga-medium-specific, really cool stylistic things that Haruko Ichikawa did. You just can’t adapt to anime, so they have to either get really creative or just not do that.
DEE: Or just do it like a straight-up… Yeah. Which is one of the things that makes the Lustrous adaptation, is I think they did get very creative with it in ways that worked in the other medium. I love an adaptation that takes chances and tries to do something different because I don’t think an anime needs to be a shot-for-shot of the manga. There are people out there who would disagree with me. [Chuckles] But yeah, so… That’s neither here nor there. Let’s circle back to Chainsaw Man. Do you guys think…? So, they’re gonna adapt the whole thing, right?
VRAI: Oh, definitely.
PETER: Almost certainly.
DEE: [crosstalk] I don’t know if there’s been an official… Yeah. So, this might be one where we maybe want to have a Retrospective at some point and really dig… It feels like a diggable series. Am I incorrect about that? It feels like there’s a lot you could talk about, yeah.
VRAI: Definitely. It’s a series that I like, especially now that it’s starting to get into the part where the series really hooked me and I wasn’t just kind of gritting my teeth through it because I was in lockdown. They introduced my favorite character, the Angel Devil. I love them. And it’s just… I don’t know. I bet this will be three cours, if I had to guess.
PETER: I think we’re about 30 to 40% of the way through the manga right now—well, at least part 1 of the manga since they have the part 2 now.
VRAI: Yeah, but part 2… Denji’s not the protagonist of part 2, so…
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that’s completely separate. I’m sure they’ll adapt that eventually, too. But yeah, I feel like where we are with Chainsaw Man right now is where we were and maybe still are with G-Witch, which is like there’s a lot going on and we’re in the middle of this huge narrative buildup and it’s kind of hard to discuss the execution of things and how it all gets laid out because a lot of it just hasn’t been done yet—or I guess it has, but it’s not in the anime yet, so it’s not really at a good time to discuss.
DEE: That’s a terrific segue because the next show on our list is Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury. Vrai and I finished the most recent episode right before we recorded this episode. Holy shit! That’s all I can say. I don’t want to spoil things for folks at home, but holy shit, that finale! I just said “Oh shit” so many times! [Chuckles] Oh, man!
VRAI: This is my anime of the season. I love it so much.
DEE: Anime is good! And every time The Witch from Mercury, I’m like, “Yes. This is why I got into this medium. This is why I can’t quit this medium.” God, I just… It’s just a riveting piece of fiction. [Chuckles]
PETER: It’s crazy how Gundam stays relevant, too. Every time they do something really off the wall like this, I feel, is how they have survived as a franchise.
DEE: Yeah, this is very… I mean, I haven’t watched a lot of Gundams, but this feels very different from every Gundam that has come before it? And people who have watched more Gundam could probably fact-check me on that.
PETER: Definitely some of the more recent Gundams, I think, have tried to incorporate some sort of more modern military content, possibly in critical ways, into their storylines. But then, every once in a while, they do these interesting genre pieces like G Gundam, or probably the most infamous would be Gundam Wing since that one was hugely successful and very atypical for Gundam up until that point, I believe. Don’t come after me, Gundam fans.
VRAI: I mean, yes and no. Whatever the Gundam purists will tell you, Tomino himself is like, “Oh, yeah, doujin artists and fujoshi kept Gundam alive.”
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Basically recognizing and catering to their female fans especially, because that’s a considerable portion of the Gundam fandom.
VRAI: But it is incredible how Witch from Mercury is on the one hand, at the end of episode 12, almost entirely setup, but also a complete sort of arc. We reach a big turning point in Miorine and Suletta’s relationship at the end, and then also it does a really good reversal in the places where the two of them are with their parents, basically, where they’ve swapped positions by the end of cour. Which—
DEE: The whole show is a lot of parent–child relations, and that final episode hits that hard across the board. So, again, since we’ll be dropping this episode like same-day, I don’t want to get too deep into it. And we’ve basically already promised that this show’s gonna have a Retrospective at some point. It feels like one that there’ll be plenty to talk about because there’s a lot of background politics and, like Peter was talking about, military critique type stuff. There’s an interesting angle in terms of disability technology and how technology can be used in ways that are both beneficial for people and then also to murder, to do the murders, so many murders.
But then there’s also just… And this is what I really like about this show. I love that they started it with the school setting because I think it really gave them time to develop the cast and set the characters up just as kids, as kids going to school, and now we’re gonna start throwing them into what a lot of people think of when they think of Gundam, which is the big action setpieces, the wars, the battles.
And so, having that baseline of who they are and how this will change them is… it’s what is really keeping me locked into this, because I’ve sometimes struggled with Gundams because I feel like they throw you into the fights very early and there’s that sense of “Why am I invested in this battle?” So, I really like the pacing of Witch from Mercury thus far and am really excited to see where… excited and terrified to see where it goes from here!
PETER: Yeah. I mean, they’ve straight-up transitioned from “These are wargame duels where no one gets hurt” to “You have to kill someone this time.” Yeah.
VRAI: I mean, I think plenty of people who watched the episode 0 that was composed mainly of infodumping and war crimes and then came to episode 1 and were like, “Whoa! That’s a tonal whiplash”… Good news: we got back around to the war crimes.
DEE: We did circle back around to war crimes. It’s true. [Chuckles]
PETER: I love Suletta’s mom. I think she is… Moms are definitely an underutilized archetype in anime, and she is just a super fascinating character. And a lot of the time, she seems like a terrible person but also maybe a good mom. It’s like only history can really [unintelligible due to crosstalk].
VRAI: Between Makima and Prospera, this season was good eating for compelling evil women. Evil’s probably a bit strong for Prospera, but she is shady.
PETER: Yeah, it’s kind of hard to tell without knowing her motivations and whether she’s… It’s hard to tell whether she’s manipulating Suletta or completely believes in her to the point where she always knows when she’s going to step up and do something. You know what I mean?
VRAI: It hasn’t been confirmed yet, so I’m gonna go ahead and say I’m sticking with the theory that Suletta’s a clone and her actual child is in the robot, and that’s why she’s able to treat her a bit callously.
DEE: I have heard that. I have heard that floated. Time will tell.
PETER: It’s definitely an anime favorite, as well, putting somebody’s ghost in a robot that someone else has to pilot.
VRAI: Well, because Aerial talks. Aerial talks to Suletta, and I feel like that thread gets stronger throughout this season.
DEE: Oh yeah, there’s a strong implication…
PETER: [crosstalk] There’s many voices though, correct? She always says, like, “You guys” and seems to be responding to multiple people whenever she’s talking to the gun bits. So, I’m wondering if there’s many spirits or something or, I don’t know, multiple Sulettas in there or something.
DEE: The robots is people.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Multiple people. So I’m saying Aerial’s plural, I guess is what I’m…
VRAI: [Chuckles] Could be. But yeah, watch this one. Oh my God, it’s so good! Like Dee said, this is why I watch anime! Oh my God, it’s good. I’m gonna feel really bad if it flops the ending!
PETER: [Chuckles] Yeah, season 2.
VRAI: But right now it’s so good!
PETER: [crosstalk] And there’s always the production concerns with the series, as well. I’m glad they’re doing a split cour rather than continuous. It seems necessary.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, it seems like there have been some scheduling and production issues, so having a cour off seems like a really smart idea. Yeah, I live in terror that they’re going to completely, completely beef it on the ending because we’ve all watched enough anime to have a lot of stories of shows where we’re like, “Oh, this is so great!” at the midway point and then… I think we could name a few from just this year alone.
VRAI: Yeah, put a pin in that thought.
PETER: Oh man, that’s gonna… Yeah, because we’ve, especially in the past two years, gotten some big burns, like Wonder Egg and then Ranking of Kings. And I would really like this one not to follow in their path, yeah.
DEE: Yeah, those were the two at the top of my memory as well, like, oh, we were so high on the shows halfway through them and then what happened?
PETER: Also, if the show’s doing everything right, yeah, how did it come to this? And it does feel like G-Witch is really doing everything right.
DEE: I think we should turn “wegging” into a thing we say, like “I hope that show doesn’t wegg it!”
VRAI: I support this.
DEE: So, we all recommend The Witch from Mercury with the asterisk that we really hope it doesn’t wegg it at the end!
VRAI: Dee, I gave up on I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss.
DEE: That’s fair.
VRAI: Maybe I’ll pick up the source material.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, that’s fair.
VRAI: You finished it, though.
DEE: I did finish it. I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is one of those shows that just has a lot of elements that I really enjoy in fiction, so even though it was not a particularly good adaptation, I still had fun with it, start to finish. I like proactive female characters who take the world into their own hands. I like fantasy comedies.
I really enjoyed the second arc. The first one, I had read, so I think that also helped because I’d read the first couple of volumes of the manga. So, I’d read the first arc of the story, so even though they were rushing through the material, I had all the background pieces that I could kind of fill in the gaps.
The second arc, I really enjoyed. It took place at a school. Aileen went crossdressing heroine route, which I am a softie for, even though I know there’s a lot of problems with those particular storylines. And I think because the story itself was a little more simple than the first and third arcs… because the story, it’s basically the first three light novels, from what I could tell, and so I think of it as like three different arcs. It didn’t feel rushed. Four episodes felt like about the amount of time they needed to tell that middle arc, and so I was really starting to enjoy it at that point.
And then the third arc was also just like they had to barrel through a lot of the politicking and the backstory and introducing a new character, and you get to know them and something happens and then you learn more about them and then Aileen wins them over, and it’s just whiplash-inducingly fast. So, it lost me a little bit again in the third arc, even though in broad strokes I basically liked what the story was doing.
I think the biggest problem with this adaptation is because they had “And this happened and this happened and this happened” sort of pacing… Aileen is still very charming and enjoyable. And some of her friends are, too. Some of the supporting cast who don’t have to be there a lot, I think they’re able to quickly show you why they’re an enjoyable character. I think [for] the adaptation what really hurt was… Claude, his relationship with Aileen never really clicked. So, one of the reasons I think I enjoyed that middle arc better was because he’s not really in it—or he is, but they’re separated from each other, so you’re getting kind of two different storylines.
When they’re together, they have this kind of tsundere push-and-pull, which, if you want that to work and not have it feel like one of them is always kind of bullying the other end in an awkward power dynamic kind of way, you have to take time to really show how that relationship functions.
And, again, having read a little bit of the manga, I think it works better when there’s time to flesh out their relationship, because they kind of intentionally push each other’s buttons in a way that I think is more intriguing and fun to watch and you get why they like each other when you have more time with it. But in this, there were definitely some moments with Claude where I was like, “You just come across like a possessive boyfriend who’s too pushy,” you know, like the pushy, possessive shoujo romantic hero who I’ve never liked. So, I had a hard time with Claude.
I could not recommend the adaptation. I’ve heard good things about the light novels. I know people who have read the light novels who are pretty high on the material. So, maybe try it that way instead if you did find the bones of this enjoyable.
I will say the ending theme absolutely slaps. I think it’s my favorite ending theme of the year, and that’s a high bar to clear. So, it’s got that going for it. [Chuckles] So, yeah, that’s I’m the Villainess from my end. Peter, anything to add?
PETER: Yeah, I do agree that I thought the second arc was the best. And I do think I actually liked Claude most in that circumstance because I think a lot of how he ended up entering the story was somebody would, in a roundabout way, insult Aileen or Aileen would make it sound like somebody had insulted her and he just goes full girlfriend defense mode. And now I am like, “Oh, he does care, and he’s really pissed off that someone’s talking shit about his girlfriend,” because you know everybody at the school hates her because of weird political reasons. So, yeah, I thought that clicked.
It was definitely so fast, and I was not a fan of the third arc. Coming back to Raven of the Inner Palace, I feel like a lot of more media directed toward women that gets adapted, you’re either looking at something that covers the first arc, introduces the central conflict or premise to entice people to read the manga or the light novels or whatever and then quits, or something—this is kind of like a new thing that I think we’ve seen a couple times now—where it just speeds through all the material as fast as it can to get it done in a cour.
DEE: Yeah. And I think there is more material, but they sped through to get to what they thought would be the best stopping point. And I don’t think you have ended with book 2, with that second arc. I don’t think it would have made as much sense as an ending. I think the final confrontation between Aileen and the main antagonist in that third arc… I think it works with the story but, God, they needed more episodes for it. But yeah, you’re right.
That second arc, I think they do a better job of showing what makes Claude kind of charming because he’s just a big awkward dork who hasn’t spent a lot of time with other people and that’s why he is the way he is. And so, any time the series is able to let that breathe outside of some of his weirdness with Aileen, I think he makes more sense as a character. I really loved when he wrote her that extensive, flowery letter about how much he missed her and she basically did the text response of “K.” [Laughs]
PETER: [Chuckles] Oh, yeah.
DEE: Because she’s like, “I don’t know how to reply at all!”
PETER: Yeah, he really put himself out there. He stepped up to her challenge and then got slammed down.
DEE: I think that dynamic of their relationship, of Aileen is very proactive and will push his buttons but then when he responds in kind she doesn’t know how to respond (she’s like, “I don’t know how to do the romance”), is very fun and enjoyable. And then when they lose that, they lose a lot of the charm of what I think the show could have been. So, anyway, that’s Villainess Taming the Final Boss. I still liked it. I finished it. But yeah, I really wish it had had some time to breathe.
VRAI: Such a shame. All right, next, almost at the top of the list, we have Bocchi the Rock, a show that I ended up really liking even though it kinda almost lost me in the middle.
DEE: Yeah, I liked this one a lot. I feel like talking about it is a landmine, and I’m like “Do we have 30 minutes to untangle this show?”
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh wow. Complex feelings, huh.
VRAI: I think I can sort of sum up my thoughts sort of briefly. So, I mentioned at the midseason that I was kind of of two minds about it in that it could be really good and I love how creative it is in the medium (like, I’ve voiced my love for anime that does medium mixing), but also, it could feel a little too broad in a way that felt like it was poking fun at Bocchi more than with her at times, even though I don’t think that was the intention. Clearly, looking at the poor artist’s experience at a con recently, he is drawing from personal experience.
But I think that around the time they do their first concert, the show really clicked back with me because, in the same way as Zombie Land Saga, once it got some actual character relationships and some stakes around those where it believed in the emotional connections between these characters and that these characters care about one another, I felt like the humor was really reined in and moored to a more grounded place where even if it got really wacky I knew that these girls care about each other, they care about Bocchi and supporting her, so it didn’t feel as exhausting.
And also, I just think that some of the story arcs got a little better once Bocchi was able to… even though she’s still very anxious and has troubles with self-doubts, there is a clear trajectory for her character from their first concert up to the end of the series. I felt like that last four or five episodes was really, really good.
PETER: Really, I liked the creativity, as did, it seems, everyone, with all the ways it was showing Bocchi’s freakouts and really having fun with the medium. But it got to the point where I started to feel like it was really taking up a lot of time that I would have preferred to have been spent developing the narrative. And it did get to the point where I started to feel like too much of Bocchi was just anxiety as opposed to character-building.
So, in that way, I think in maybe the last third, I got a little annoyed at all of her anxiety sequences just because I felt like they were doing it because they wanted to do it, because they wanted to do something fun with animation, rather than they were doing it for narrative reasons or out of any consideration outside of, like, “Oh, I thought of a new fun way to draw Bocchi melting or exploding or glitching out or something.”
But overall… That sounds pretty negative. I did overall like the series. I like the narrative beats. I really liked all the bandmates. I actually wish they got a bit more time that was spent on Bocchi turning into infinity symbols and shit.
PETER: But yeah, I’d say overall it was a very good show, though. Don’t want to take that away from it.
VRAI: It sounds like you were a little, uh, split on it, Dee?
DEE: I have complicated feelings about this one and, you know, brevity is the enemy of nuance, so talking about it on a [seasonal] Retrospective might not be the best place for me to dig into this. I think the show did such a spot-on job of depicting mental illness but then it didn’t know how to grapple with the actual realities of mental illness, to a point where it started to bother me, especially in the back half. I mean, one of the characters is an alcoholic.
VRAI: Oh, yeah, that’s… Oof.
PETER: [crosstalk] Absolutely.
DEE: And not even like, “Yeah, she gets blitzed on the weekends but keeps it together otherwise.” Like, no, she is constantly drunk and expressly says, “This is my cycle of coping with life.” And I’m like, “Hey, this is really bad.”
But then, with Bocchi… In the first half, you get the sense that these spirals are happening in her head while she is going about her day-to-day life, right? So, Bocchi is full of anxiety but she is functional. Obviously, the anxiety is impacting her life in ways that she should find coping mechanisms and such.
The back half, she straight-up disassociates, and then we cut to the people around her and they’re like, “Oh, she’s gone. She has no memory,” and she’ll have no recollection of stretches of time. And that is when it stops being like “Oh, you have anxiety spirals in your brain” to “You might be in danger of harming yourself at this point.”
And the show does not know how to engage with that because… Like, I don’t expect the kids to be like, “Oh, Bocchi should be in therapy,” because they’re kids. As a high schooler who had friends who were definitely struggling with mental illness, none of us had those conversations. We just went, “Oh, yeah, that’s so-and-so. They’re stressed out” or “They’re sad today” or whatever. But the adults in their lives just ignore it, and it really started to dig into me in the back half, of “Somebody, please. Bocchi needs therapy.”
And again, I don’t think that’s what the show intended, necessarily. But it does such a spot-on job of showing severe anxiety that it put itself in a position where it started to have a responsibility to actually engage with that, and it was not at all prepared or interested in doing so. And so, there was this disconnect watching it where I was like, “This is fun” or “Oh, these scenes of Bocchi doom-spiraling are relatable to the way my brain works sometimes,” to this moment of “Okay, but if I think about this as an analyst, which is my job (unfortunately, sometimes), it starts to get kind of troubling!” [Chuckles]
So, that’s where I am with the show. It’s, like I said, complicated. Do we have 30 minutes? [Chuckles]
VRAI: Right. Yeah, yeah. I guess the dissociation scene, in particular… yeah, you’re right. It didn’t really stick out to me as I was watching. I wonder… Obviously, some of this has to be impacted by the approach to mental health in Japan, where you just deal with it. You don’t go to a… And that’s not to say the show shouldn’t take that opportunity to be like, “Hey, maybe you should get some help.” But I think it’s trying in its way, and maybe not enough, because of those scenes that hit on something real-feeling rather than exaggerated.
I think it is trying to do that version of care with Bocchi in having her friends come together to watch over her and make sure she doesn’t get lost or to bring her back or to know where she is when she goes missing and to have that sort of “Look, nobody’s looking out for us, but we’re looking out for each other” kind of thing, which…
DEE: Well, and yeah. And again, the interactions between the teens, between the friend group, I really liked because I do like that sense of support and community. I would also maybe make the point that, hey, folks at home, it’s not your job as a 15-year-old to be in charge of your 15-year-old friend’s mental health.
VRAI: It isn’t. It isn’t.
DEE: [Chuckles] So, it is that element of I love the acceptance and support that her friends give her where they’re like, “Oh, we know you’re having a spiral right now. We’re gonna give you some space to work through that.” I like that of it. But again, the way they depict it is so severe and so… Again, she walks like halfway through the school and has no memory of that happening. She’s like, “How did I get here?” I’m like, “Oh, this is concerning, Bocch! Hey, kid!” So, the adults in her life just being like, “Oh, look at that sweet child,” it didn’t sit great with me, that particular aspect of it.
You know—and we’ve talked about this on other shows, too—I think there’s situational mental health where things like finding a hobby or a community can dramatically help your mental health and maybe you don’t need anything beyond that; maybe that was the thing you needed. I think that Bocchi the Rock depicts Bocchi in such a way that I am not convinced that music and friendship is all that Bocchi needs to live a healthy life.
So, yeah, that was where I was with this. I ended the show… I was still concerned for her, and I think I wasn’t supposed to be. So, yeah, anyway. I’ve talked too much about this. I’m sorry. [Chuckles]
PETER: It’s supposed to feel funny, but it is kind of like “Is Bocchi okay?”
DEE: Yeah. I feel like I overthought a lot of shows this season. And I don’t know where the line is in terms of depiction and responsibility of artists, and we could go in a circle all day talking about “Well, maybe it isn’t an artist’s responsibility to take a stance. Maybe the depiction is all that needs.” But I don’t know, when you’re writing stuff for young adults, I feel like there’s more responsibility there to nudge them towards healthy expressions and… Yeah.
VRAI: Nah, I get it. Like I said, I ended up positive on the show, but I think it is sort of a tangle and I have no justifications or excuses for Funny Alcoholic. That’s nothing! Why was that there?
DEE: Yeah, yeah. All that having been said, I am gonna cosign the recommendation for it! So, that’s where I am with this complicated show.
PETER: Yeah, if you’re listening to this, keep in mind that all of us like the show, actually.
PETER: Just… that, you know
VRAI: It’s complicated.
PETER: Yeah, it’s complicated.
DEE: Yeah, when I start— Yeah, I just need to turn my brain off sometimes. Anyway, we can move on unless there’s more you guys wanted to say about Bocchi?
VRAI: No, no, I think that’s all that we… Maybe if they… when they make a season 2 (this was ridiculously popular), we can do a Retrospective. So allow me to give you something perfect for turning your brain off, which is Akiba Maid War, a show that delights me.
DEE: Did you finish that one, Vrai?
VRAI: I did. I finished it a few hours ago.
DEE: Mm-hm. Peter, you knocked that one out as well, right? We all watched that one?
PETER: Yeah, I watched the whole thing.
VRAI: I had such a good time. Go on.
DEE: This was another one that I felt like… There were moments watching it where I was like trying to approach it critically, and I would have moments where I’m like, “Oh, this show is trying to say a thing.” And then the next episode I’d be like, “No. It’s not trying to say anything. It really just wants me to enjoy watching maids kill each other.”
And so I was definitely on tonally with this one where I wasn’t sure how I was expected to engage with it. I dropped it halfway through. And I did come back because other people were really high on it, and I ended up liking the final arc. So… Vrai, you liked it a lot, yeah?
VRAI: Yeah, I—
DEE: Talk about that.
VRAI: All right. [Laughs] Let’s go with that. Yeah, I think that you’re right: it’s not— So, my knee-jerk at this point is to compare any show that starts out with an absurd premise and [adds] a lot of good-looking action and then snowballs into something I really, really like to Akudama Drive. Akiba Maid War is not as smart as Akudama Drive. Because, getting into that last arc, which I really enjoyed, I think, yeah, if you try to… For a second there, I was afraid that it was trying to say something about structural violence, and I got a little nervous because it simply does not map.
This show works really well as long as it is about “We’ve taken the format of an old yakuza movie and we’ve overlaid ’90s otaku and moe culture on top of it,” and in the process of that, it sort of elucidates some interesting things about the way that women tend to be depicted in anime—and in moe descendants, shall we say.
I commented from the beginning that I think it’s really interesting that the actresses in this show get to use their lower registers and how rarely you get to see that. I think that this is a standout career performance for Reina Kondo, who normally plays really cute uptalk-type heroines. And her performance as Nagomi is so varied and her range is so good just on what she does with her voice. I think the show is worth watching solely for that and just giving these women a chance to stretch and play the kind of notes that they might not get a lot of, even if they’re working a lot.
And I think that is something that really stuck with me about this show and the fact that it’s moe and the “joy of servitude” stuff that went into maids… and then when the maid boom died, it, I think, turned into the slavery apologia we have now. That’s a whole conversation on its own, but… So it’s interesting to have that stuff, but there’s no panty shots and it’s not particularly fanservicey despite all these ridiculous outfits.
And the action scenes are really good. And you know it’s a good anime because it has a baseball episode. Maybe it’s just appealing to me because it has those throwback elements, too, but I think it’s so good at evoking a tone and an era and being smart in the way it mixes genres in a way that I feel like a lot of gimmick shows don’t think through.
So, yeah, by the end, even though there were parts where [I’m] like, “Oh, well, if I think about this on a grander, thematic level, it simply does not work. You cannot tell me that we’re dismantling the violence of the yakuza? And now we just have maid— You know what? I’m done. I’m done. Nagomi’s character ended in a satisfying spot and they’re a family. All right, we’re good!” And that’s where I ended up with that one.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah. I think I enjoyed it most when it was kind of being a satire. The baseball episode, I quite liked. I loved that Nagomi’s so dedicated to “No, we’re just gonna have a nice baseball game!” that everybody sort of buys into it and then just pretends that they didn’t do a murder on the field.
DEE: I really liked the one where the drill sergeant comes in, because I actually hated the first half of that episode, and then at the end when they’re like, “Hey, actually, to hell with this. That’s not who we are and that’s not who we want to be,” then by the end of it, I really liked it because it did feel like a pushback against corporate culture.
I think there’s a way to read this show as a pushback against cutthroat capitalism and this idea of “We don’t have to fight each other. We can kind of all be on the same side and enjoy the work we do for the sake of the work we do.” I also think there’s a way to read it as like the whole show is about women engaging in very unladylike behavior, and our finale is that we have scrubbed that from the world and now everything is sweet and sanitized. And that’s the reading that doesn’t sit great with me.
But does the show want me to read it like that? Probably not. Probably I’m just supposed to have a good time! And this is why being a feminist critic is tough, you guys! Because I just wanted to have a good time and I left the show going, “Well, hm, I could read it like this or I could read it like that, or…” Yeah. So, I had fun with it, but I’m not sure what I was supposed to take away from it, is kinda where I ended up.
VRAI: Yeah. Right, like that 30-second closer is just supposed to be like “You guys! Nagomi is doing good. Isn’t that nice?”
DEE: I actually really liked the 30-second closer.
PETER: Yeah, me too.
DEE: I liked that moment of… she’s in her 30s and she has survived this, she is disabled, she is very happy. I think that closer is really nice for her as a character and that idea of… She genuinely loved doing this. And that’s like the basis of the show, right, is she enjoys this job. And so, she genuinely loved doing this, and she just wanted to be able to do that. And so, the fact that she is able to do it, even as an older woman— Which, “older,” quote-unquote. She’s in her 30s. Which the show continually points out, like, “Oh, you can’t be a maid past the age of 30,” and they’re like, “Screw you! Anybody can be a maid if they want to be.” I love that element of it.
PETER: Pretty sure everyone who said that got killed by Ranko, so… [Chuckles]
DEE: And you know, I don’t know enough about the maid industry in Japan to know what it’s drawing on from that specifically, so I would love an article about this from somebody who is well-versed in this subject. I think there’s some cool stuff you could dig out of Akiba Maid War. I am personally not sure what I’m supposed to dig out of it. [Chuckles] But it was fine!
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah, I think there are very cool, cool, cool individual episodes and motifs, and I love the characters. A grand unifying thesis statement, it does not have, or rather, if you try too hard, it probably goes sour! [Chuckles]
DEE: But again, I would love to see that article because I think there’s probably something interesting that you could dig out of this that I am just maybe not quite seeing because I don’t have all the context. So again, if anybody wants to throw that at me, let’s do it!
PETER: [Chuckles] Yeah, I think I sort of had that feeling the entire time I was watching this show. I was like, “I feel like maybe the show’s trying to tell me something, but I don’t have a single clue what it could possibly be. I got nothing.”
I do think it did have a… P.A. Works, I think, has a tendency, much like Trigger, to kind of get lost in their own sauce, maybe in the beginning third to the middle of their show, where they kind of lose focus a bit before moving into whatever their central premise of their series is. And I feel like this show kind of made up for that weakness, maybe, by just being very adaptable to a sort of vignette structure, which allowed them to do a lot of the one-off episodes early on in the series before moving into the central… I don’t know what you’d call the main plot of… the revolution?
DEE: [crosstalk] The maid war.
PETER: The maid war, sure.
DEE: The maid revolution. [Chuckles]
PETER: Yeah, yeah. So, I do think, in addition to it being a creative idea, it was a good one specifically for P.A. Works to do.
DEE: Yeah, I love P.A.— You know, P.A. Works, props for just doing whatever the hell you want. I appreciate it. I don’t always like everything they come out with, but I generally respect them and appreciate them for doing stuff that is a little bit off the beaten path…
PETER: I was shocked that they’re doing Buddy Daddies this season.
DEE: … if nothing else. Yeah! I have to at least try it because P.A. Works. I gotta at least give it a try.
VRAI: Yeah. Shoutout to P.A. Works for filling the Manglobe-shaped hole in my heart. They’re really getting there.
DEE: Yeah, smash some genres together and just do your thing. And we’ll see what happens. So, yeah, glad the show exists even if I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it at the end of the day! [Chuckles]
VRAI: Fair. All right, shall we speedrun some sequels?
DEE: Yeah, that’s a good idea.
VRAI: I am shocked that I couldn’t stir up the enthusiasm to recommend Spy × Family by the end. I am shocked!
DEE: Yeah! First part was terrific. Second part was just… they just kinda got mired down in one-off episodes. It was never bad. It just wasn’t like… I didn’t come to it like “Hell yeah, Spy × Family” every week like I had in the first half. And I think the jealous secondary love interest for Loid is not a… I don’t think they handled that character as well as they could have. Not as poorly as they could have, either. But I just wasn’t particularly here for that storyline. I mean, it was a Wit show. Wit shows are always rougher in the second cour. I don’t know why. [Chuckles] Vinland Saga fans, watch out.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah, what did you say in the Slack? Studio Wit “make a show that isn’t dramatically weaker in the second half” challenge?
PETER: Maybe that’s why they just started handing off all their season twos to MAPPA at this point.
VRAI: Don’t do that to MAPPA.
DEE: They’re overworked enough as it is. No, I mean, I still enjoyed it. I would still recommend it. I just… I can’t [unintelligible due to crosstalk]. So, yeah. I liked it.
PETER: Not the same highs as the first part.
DEE: No. And you can just tell it was probably the part in the manga where the writer went, “Oh, this is gonna go for a while. Um, um, let me do one-off shots with some of the characters before I build up to another big arc.” And having read the manga, I know there’s another big arc after this that is very fun, and I look forward to the inevitable season 2 or season 3. I don’t know where we are. I don’t know how they’re counting the cours.
PETER: It looks like the boat arc is going to be a movie.
DEE: [crosstalk] Ooh!
PETER: And then they’re doing season 3 after that.
DEE: All right! I like that. Okay, cool. I look forward to more of it. It’s still a fun show. But yeah, the second arc just, I think, kinda got mired down in episodic stories rather than having a throughline.
VRAI: Yeah, I guess I should clarify that I did… Like you said, the show was never not enjoyable to watch. It never sank below “Yeah, I’m having a nice time watching Spy × Family.” But I guess at a certain point I did get sort of irritated that it was… Most shows that start their second cour with episodic one-offs that are fun at least end on a big three- or four-episode arc to bring it back together and land some emotional character beats, and that just didn’t really happen with Spy × Family, so I sort of felt like it was wasting my time padding out for the inevitable movie. And that was kind of lame. —No, cut that. That was kind of unfortunate.
DEE: It’s definitely a second cour that knows there’s going to be lots more, that they’re gonna keep adapting it, so there’s not really an attempt to find, like you said, an emotionally satisfying ending because they’re like, “Well, yeah, obviously, we’re gonna keep making more. So, don’t worry about it, guys.”
PETER: Yeah, I think they definitely kinda knew that they wanted to do the boat arc, which is a fan favorite and definitely something to look forward to for all the fans who maybe weren’t enchanted with the second season. That’s a movie, so the second season sort of suffered. I feel like the big problem with part 2 is there’s really no Loid–Yor development, and throwing Fiona in there just doesn’t really come to anything. They’re brought back to square one by the end of it.
DEE: It’s wheel-spinning. Yeah. Yeah, it’s long-running shounen wheel-spinning. There’s usually at least one arc in even the best of shounen series. [Chuckles]
PETER: Which is why they should have adapted the date night chapter, which they skipped for some reason, which [is] messed up and makes me question all the decisions that they made in making the anime personally, because that’s one of the best chapters.
DEE: [deadpan] Trust lost.
VRAI: Why do we not get to see Yor get shot in the butt in animated format?
DEE: [Chuckles] How dare.
VRAI: Really, Yor is so underutilized overall. That really started to bum me out in the second half.
PETER: Yeah, that’s like a Yor perspective chapter, too, because it’s Yor suffering and then every once in a while it switches to Loid trying to figure out what the hell’s going on and back to Yor again. Yeah, what the heck? See, that would’ve fixed everything!
DEE: [crosstalk] Don’t worry, Vrai. You’ll enjoy the movie.
DEE: It would have. We just needed that one episode.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. The ship arc is also the big Yor arc. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to that movie for sure.
DEE: Yeah. We have that to look forward to.
VRAI: Okay. I only need about 30 seconds for Pop Team Epic season 2. If you liked parts of season 1 but were kind of on “eh” on it overall, check out season 2. I feel like the team really learned a lot from their work on Gal & Dino, where season 2 has… it still has some of those hyper-shorts where we’re just slapping you in the face and then running away, but it feels a lot more controlled and considered about doing slightly longer sketches, that are interesting even when they’re not laugh-out-loud funny. There is a superb book-ending live action sequence with Shouta Aoi that is just a delight. Oh my God!
And the only thing that kind of drags is they had that official Final Fantasy money to do parodies that got to use the names and everything, and most of those feel a little bit flabby. Because it’s almost like “Well, we’ve got the money,” it feels like they’re not going as hard as they might on material that they just had carte blanche on and weren’t getting official approval for.
PETER: Yeah. If you like Final Fantasy XIV, though, you’ll like Pop Team Epic season 2.
PETER: If you’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV for the past ten years or whatever.
DEE: So Chiaki needs to catch up on this, is what you’re saying.
PETER: I think she has—or has at least been following all the Final Fantasy XIV memes like I have.
DEE: Okay, good. I’m glad she has that in her life, then.
VRAI: Also, Pop Team Epic says support your local union. That was a fun surprise in the last episode.
PETER: Oh, damn. Nice.
DEE: [crosstalk] Nice. Excellent.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s all.
DEE: Okay. Well then, the next up is Mob Psycho 100 season 3, the final season. I mean, I’ll just say this right now: I’m recommending it for the fall season. And there’s a very, very good chance I’ll be recommending it on my top-five year list.
I wasn’t super sold on it at about the midway point. The first arc is fine; it just wasn’t as good as season 2 was. Season 2 was tremendous. But I think it wraps itself up really, really well. The final arc with Mob… It was another one that started and I was like, “What are you doing with this? I’m not sure how I feel about this.”
PETER: Yeah, same.
DEE: But by the end of it, again, what it was building to was exactly what it needed to be building to, as far as Mob’s story goes. It’s a really good narrative about adolescence and the ugly parts of ourselves that we maybe want to pretend don’t belong to us, but that part of growing up is accepting that that is a part of us, and how do we deal with that rather than just letting it spiral out of control?
Mob and Reigen continue to be a surprisingly good parental-figure relationship. I think the show continues to do some really interesting things in terms of masculinity. Yeah, at the end I was very satisfied with it. I do think season 2 was the strongest, overall, of the show, but it brings it to a very worthwhile and valuable conclusion.
So, that’s where I am with Mob Psycho. How about you, Peter?
VRAI: I’m very excited.
PETER: Season 3 was like three mini-arcs, each of which I was very concerned about to start with, that had a spectacular ending, over and over again. The Dimple one, I wasn’t sure what it was going through; then the payoff was great. They had that weird episode setting up the alien arc, which then had a tremendous full-episode payoff that I was not expecting at all. It seemed like just…
DEE: It did. I do have to make one note: there is a joke in the… I loved that second episode until the post-credits. There’s this weird post-credits scene where one of the kids gets abducted by the aliens. And they basically have a rager and he wakes up covered in lipstick marks, and it’s very uncomfortable not only because… I mean, this would be uncomfortable no matter how old he is, but he’s like 14. So, didn’t love that. And it’s a one-off, very quick little joke in that episode, and I was like, “Oh. Okay, that’s not actually funny.” But it’s also unclear if that even happened or if it was just meant to be like a goof.
PETER: [crosstalk] A fever dream?
DEE: Yeah, like a fever dream the kid had. So, I don’t know about that. But I did have to bring that up because that left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of what was otherwise a just fantastically delightful two-parter about the paranormal investigation club.
But yeah, sorry, Peter. You were saying? So then the third arc happens.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. I think that one just had a really slow lead-up and it really felt like it was spinning its wheels, but then of course the finale was another spectacular emotional conclusion.
And as you were saying, the thing about us not wanting to accept certain parts of ourselves… I do kind of not like typically how a darker side of somebody’s can be portrayed as a different person, but One, as usual, just took it to the next level by saying, “No, Mob was trying to separate that as a separate entity because he didn’t want to accept that about himself,” and the whole idea was recognizing that it was part of himself and there’s just one Mob and then reaching acceptance, going 100% for real. So, stuff like that. It actually kind of reminded me of Celeste. Yeah, it was good.
DEE: All right. Yeah, so, that one we… continue to recommend Mob Psycho, right up until its finale.
PETER: [deadpan] So surprising, yeah. Mob’s still good. Wow. [Chuckles]
DEE: Well, for a show I soft-dropped three episodes into the first season, I continue to be very impressed at where Mob took its story and how much meat wound up being on those bones. And it was way more optimistic than I thought it was going to be at the start, and I really appreciate that, the warm core it found underneath some of the initial cynicism. So, good for you, One.
PETER: Always sticks the landing.
DEE: Yeah. Peter, did you want to talk at all about Golden Kamuy or Berserk? You were also watching those.
PETER: Golden Kamuy just got far enough to hit its most spectacular sequence in the entire manga in my opinion. And then of course they had the tragic death on the staff and are postponing the anime, I think, until mid-this-year.
DEE: Ah, that’s right. Yeah, that is sad.
PETER: [crosstalk] So, I think we can discuss at that point. Berserk is a remake of the three movies, so if you watched the three movies, it’s pretty much the same thing with maybe some additional content here and there. Not too much to say, except that Berserk is amazing and you should watch Berserk. No matter what way you want to consume it, it’s really good. And it is very disappointing that the major countdown announcement they were doing for three months was just for a Blu-ray and not for another season or something.
DEE: [Chuckles] Those teases. Yeah.
VRAI: Also, it is some nonsense that Berserk ’97 finally got rescued on Netflix except in North America!
PETER: [Chuckles] Yeah.
DEE: [Chuckles] Well, now we know what the rest of the world feels like a lot of the time with anime licensing!
PETER: All the time, yeah.
VRAI: Yeah, fair.
PETER: I try to keep that in mind whenever they get something nice that we don’t. I’m just like, “Dang. Well, good for you. But…”
VRAI: Yeah, I’m glad for them. I’m just sad for me.
DEE: That’s fair.
VRAI: Well, I have the DVD, but…
PETER: So, what was it last year? 2021, we got Nana. 2022, we got Monster. So maybe 2023, someone will rescue Berserk—or some other beloved ’90s-to-early-’00s anime that has been lost.
VRAI: [unintelligible due to crosstalk]
PETER: [crosstalk] All right. [Chuckles]
DEE: Yeah, this is continuing to be the AniFem Baccano! fancast. Always and forever.
VRAI: All right! Thank you so much for joining us, AniFam. Obviously, even cutting shows, we still ran a little bit long, so if we didn’t cover something you wanted us to or that you have more to say on a certain show, please do chime in down in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
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VRAI: All right, well, thanks for joining us, AniFam. And now I’m going to turn around and go back to reviewing premieres because anime simply does not stop.