Dee, Chiaki, and Peter look back on a season with a lot of mixed bag recommendations!
Date Recorded: April 16th 2023
Hosts: Dee, Chiaki, Peter
Pit of Shame
0:02:01 ONIMAI: I’m Now Your Sister!
0:08:47 TRIGUN STAMPEDE
0:09:56 Tomo-chan Is a Girl!
0:18:24 Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire
0:21:57 Chillin’ in My 30s After Getting Fired from the Demon King’s Army
0:23:40 NieR: Automata Ver 1.1A
0:24:16 The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague
0:28:07 HIGH CARD
0:30:55 Farming Life in Another World
0:31:55 Campfire Cooking in Another World with my Absurd Skill
0:32:40 Buddy Daddies
0:35:14 The tale of outcasts
0:35:32 The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady
0:40:05 Kaina of the Great Snow Sea
0:45:04 Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte
0:48:32 Technoroid Overdrive
0:52:55 Ippon Again!
0:57:19 The Fire Hunter
1:03:45 Lupin Zero
1:04:16 VINLAND SAGA SEASON 2
1:05:09 In/Spectre Season 2
1:06:13 D4DJ All Mix
1:07:50 Bungo Stray Dogs Season 4
1:08:13 BOFURI Season 2
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF: The Anime Feminist Podcast. I’m Dee, one of the managing editors at AniFem. You can find most of my writings on my blog, The Josei Next Door, and you can also hang out with me @joseinextdoor on Twitter, Tumblr, and Mastodon kind of, sort of, when I remember that I have one.
And I am joined today by my fellow AniFem staffers, Chiaki and Peter.
PETER: And I’m Peter Fobian. I’m a manager of YouTube strategy and content at Crunchyroll and an editor at Anime Feminist. On Twitter I’m @PeterFobian.
DEE: These episodes are going to age hilariously if, like, five years from now Twitter is still kicking [chuckles] and we’re all like, “You know, that dying website, Twitter.”
Anyway, this is the winter 2023 retrospective. And as we usually do with these, we will be starting from the bottom of our Premiere Digest list and working our way up.
This one’s a little unusual. We usually try to keep the same people on the wrap-up and the retrospective, but Caitlin is finally honeymooning, happily, overseas. And Cy unfortunately has had some… has been feeling ill, so went ahead and took this one off. So, send your sympathy flowers to Cy and your jealousy flowers(?) to Caitlin. And Chiaki and I are here to pinch-hit for the two of them. Which, I guess that is as good an entryway as any into starting near the end.
Ooh, okay. Let’s go ahead and talk about Onimai because I know there was a lot of discourse around it and Chiaki, I think… Oh, you and Peter both finished it. So, I think starting there probably makes the most sense. None of us kept up with Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, which is another one that I know some of our audience members were curious about how that shook out. But it sounds like it just was not watchable. [Chuckles] So… But I guess Onimai was. So, Chiaki, Peter, would you guys like to untangle that one, maybe in a five-minute period if possible?
CHIAKI: You have anything particular to say, Peter, or should I just go?
PETER: I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. In the midseason, Caitlin basically just directed people to read your writings on it and referenced your Twitter for the watch threads. So, probably just let you go.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Sure, okay. Yeah, and if you’re curious, everything except for the last three episodes are on watch threads on my Twitter @AnimatedEmpress. But the show is absolutely, I feel like, a trans show and worth watching. It’s kind of that horny and messy pile that you sometimes get with the second puberty phase of just coming out and transitioning.
The big problem with the show absolutely is that, no way getting around it, it’s an all-ages story set in middle school but it’s really written for an adult audience, so the humor, the visual appeal is kind of… it leans heavy on the cheesecake, which I think a lot of people take issue with… And, you know, fairly so, because it’s sexualizing, in a sense, middle schoolers.
But at the same time, I feel most of the show isn’t about that and most of the show is really just about Mahiro starting over their life and being able to grow as a person in a way that they weren’t able to. One particular thing of “Why age back to middle school?” I think it’s poetic in the sense that Mahiro kind of lost their way in middle school because their little sister overtook them at that age and they’ve been a mess ever since. So, being able to restart from that age kind of helps them really get a second chance at life.
Overall, a heartwarming story. The finale of the show was actually, in the manga, something that would have happened around episode 6 or 7 of the anime, so they really kind of pushed it off. And I think that is creatively a good choice. I thought that would be the case as well, as soon as I saw that they didn’t get into it that episode, chronologically. Yeah, I think it’s a fun time, visually good. Any other thoughts, Peter?
PETER: No, I think you described it pretty well. I can definitely see… It basically is kind of the same problem with me as… I hate to make this comparison, but Mushoku Tensei, where it’s like an older dude is now in a middle school–aged person’s body and having, well, much less sexual, more romantic interludes with other people who are effectively mentally half their age. But yeah, this one, I definitely could also see a lot of moments where there was different reasons why it would be set in middle school, as you said.
And I mean, it’s not even about my perception. I’ve seen a lot of trans people saying different moments really resonated with them. So, it’s just kind of a mixed bag, as you said.
CHIAKI: And I think, you know, it’s not— There is that sort of shipping, the romantic angle that is kind of pushed through this, but overall, I feel it’s also a lot of just accepting Mahiro as one of the gals is the more important perspective rather than, like, “Oh, Mahiro is young again and is able to court young girls in middle school that they would not have had the opportunity to court if they were themselves at their normal age.” Which, I’ll also note, I think, just going by the math, they would have been like 19 to 20-ish, 19 to 21 maybe, even if they were at their actual age. So it’s not like they’re an adult in their 30s like Mushoku Tensei.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, but… Ah, mm…
CHIAKI: But still. But still.
DEE: If a 19-year-old showed an interest in a middle schooler, I would want to get that 19-year-old away from the middle schooler.
CHIAKI: Fair. Yeah.
DEE: So, that is still an adult and that is still a huge, huge, huge maturity gap.
CHIAKI: Yeah, no, that’s fair. But I will just say that the relationships aren’t really the romantic side most of the time. It does seem mostly like friendship.
DEE: Mm-hm. Well, I can’t speak to this one at all, so I will just hear from you guys and say that I… yeah, the sexualization stuff I saw in screenshots was too much for me. And I think that is extremely fair if it is too much for folks at home. But I also understand how we can find resonation and value in complicated media. So, I’m glad for the folks that this one was able to resonate with. Anything else we want to say on that?
CHIAKI: And just to echo, yeah, the sexualization is absolutely the one huge negative point that I will have to stress over and over again.
DEE: Yeah. Well, and you said in the manga it’s not really like… that the anime kind of upped the skeeze factor. Is that accurate?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Yeah. It absolutely did. But also, looking at it, the author of the manga was fully going, “Hell yeah, let’s go!” with the adaptation. So, it’s not like the author was like, “Oh, no, they made it horny.” It’s like, “Yeah, this is part of my artistic vision,” even. So, like, mm, okay.
DEE: Okay, so, yeah. So it’s not even as simple as “Well, maybe just go read the manga instead.” Okay. Well, definitely a messy one. I think that’s as good a place as any to end on that one. There’s probably no neat way to tie that one into a bow.
I don’t think… Is there anything in the Red Flags category? Peter, the only one you finished was Ningen Fushin, which I… Hey, y’all, I don’t do the premiere reviews anymore, so, a lot of these shows, if I didn’t watch them, I have no idea what they were about. Is there anything worth mentioning about that one, or did it pretty much stay the course from the midseason?
PETER: Nothing worth mentioning about Ningen Fushin.
DEE: Cool! Let’s hop up. How did Trigun Stampede shake out, Peter?
PETER: I actually… I never caught up with this one after I had a two-week vacation and was catching up, but I didn’t hit this one. I couldn’t really say how it ended. I’m not really sure if I would say anything had changed from our previous discussion regarding the topic at all.
DEE: [crosstalk] Okay. Did they announce season 2 or were people just hoping they were going to announce a season 2?
PETER: A final phase was announced to be in production, whatever that means. So, maybe a movie, an OVA or season 2 or something else. But yeah, they’re gonna keep it going in some capacity.
DEE: So, they’re probably planning to finish adapting… Because this is an adaptation of the manga, correct?
PETER: I think certain points have been closer to the manga, but it is yet again its own thing.
DEE: Oh, okay. Well, I mean, you know, that’s kind of a cool way to do it. Was probably a disappointment for people who were hoping for a straight-up manga adaptation. [Chuckles] But, you know, different iterations of the same kind of concept. So, pretty much, listen to the midseason if you want to hear about that, it sounds like?
DEE: Okay, cool! We can skim right past that one.
Hey, we can get to one that we’ve all watched: Tomo-chan Is a Girl! This was one where I was about ten minutes into the first episode and thought, “I think I hate this. I think I want to stop watching.” But I decided to push through because Caitlin had said that by the end of the first episode she was fond of it. So I pushed through, and then by the end of the first episode, I was like, “Wait, no, I think I like this.” [Chuckles]
And I think that second reaction was the appropriate one because it took me most of the first episode to figure out that the show doesn’t actually think Tomo needs to be more feminine, [but] that Tomo can be herself. It’s not that Tomo wants to be more feminine; Tomo feels like she has to be. In the early parts of that first episode, I was like, “Wait, is this what the show wants Tomo to be?” And then by the end there’s other characters being like, “No, I think you’re cool just the way you are. You don’t have to change yourself if you don’t want to.” And that ends up being more the throughline, start to finish.
So, this one is definitely not perfect. I mean, there’s certainly some hiccups along the way. But overall, I enjoyed this as a romcom about a tomboy kind of figuring out that it’s okay to be a tomboy. So, what were your thoughts on this one?
CHIAKI: I just want to say ditto. And also, Sally Amaki just hits it out of the park.
PETER: Oh yeah. Great work doing her own dub for the English version.
DEE: Wait, wait, who is this?
PETER: Sally Amaki as Carol. She voiced herself in Japanese and English for the…
DEE: That’s so cool! I did not know that. Oh, that’s awesome. Good for her! Yeah, the supporting characters, especially in those early couple episodes where the show is sort of… I think it knew from the start that it wanted to be a show about how Tomo doesn’t have to change, but those early episodes are really into her feeling like she has to and kind of making fun of her a little bit for that in a way that can lean into mean-spiritedness at times. So, having Carol and Misuzu around to just be the best trash friends really kept those early episodes fresh for me.
And then, you know, as it continued, I got a better feel for Jun and Tomo and their relationship and became invested in their story as well. But the supporting cast in this one is really a lot of fun, and Carol is terrific. So, that’s awesome to hear about the voice actor.
PETER: Yeah, what I had said in the midseason was my pet theory was that the person just kinda… it was a 4-koma, so they kinda just made a comic where I think they just wanted to use this as like a gimmick for laughs and, over the course of the series, kind of developed the actual story idea and maybe retconned a bit, because my feeling was that Tomo’s character was much more solidified after they’d done the flashback arc. And maybe that’s when the premise of “Oh, no, Tomo doesn’t need to change; she was just following some bad advice” kinda… It all came together to make the end narrative.
But as with you, early on, I think a lot of my attraction to the series was with Misuzu and Carol being so freaking funny before they started to do better things with the Tomo/Jun romance.
DEE: Yeah, and I think there were… I mean, I do think it probably took the writer a little while to figure out how they wanted to juggle those elements. But I think there are definitely seeds from the first episode, which is why I stuck with it, because there’s that scene where she’s talking to her senpai in judo club, whose name escapes me at the moment. But that’s in episode 1 where she’s like, “Yeah, I don’t know…” She’s kind of telling him her problem and how she feels like she should be girlier, and he’s like, “No, I think you’re really cool as is. I don’t feel like you need to change.”
And then even the second episode, which I think is the roughest in terms of it does that whole arc where…
PETER: The skirt thing?
DEE: Yeah, the part where Tomo gets groped on the train and Jun is upset about that and reacts in a way that is very, I think, realistic to a teenager but unpleasant to watch, where he kind of shames her for the way she’s dressed, but then later in the episode walks it back and is like, “You know what? I shouldn’t be policing what you wear.” But then, that is also the one where she tries to go without wearing shorts under her skirt and is super uncomfortable about it.
And I think that’s the roughest episode in the stretch, but even in that one, there’s signals throughout it that the writer knows that the kids aren’t correct. Does that make sense?
DEE: So, I think that was what helped me get through those early episodes, and then that really becomes the throughline the further you get, to the point where by the last episode I was tearing up a little bit at the two of them having this conversation about—I guess the second-to-last episode—about wanting this to be like a relationship of equals and Jun liking Tomo as this somewhat masculine girl and that being A-okay with both of them. And I was like, “Oh, this is really sweet actually! I’m happy for these kids.”
So, yeah, this one worked out for me. I’m glad to hear you guys had a good time with it, too.
CHIAKI: And just to let you know, I mean, I used to read the manga back when it was first starting to publish. And this started out on Twitter.
CHIAKI: So, you can probably tell, yeah, absolutely, the very first iteration of Tomo and Jun were kinda one-shot, “This is the joke” kind of setup. And as popularity picked up and the series got an editor and it became published, I think that’s when you really had that development behind the scenes, in the writers’ room. And the anime production team took the finished product so they could work that from the beginning better. So I think—
DEE: Mm-hm. That’s true.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I think, overall, it did kinda get created… everything solidified later on, but yeah, definitely shows that.
DEE: Yeah. So, definitely one I could see where if folks dropped at the beginning because it wasn’t jelling with them or it left a bad taste in their mouth, I totally get it.
But ultimately, I think it kind of knew what it was doing and got to a place that was a lot more… I hesitate to say “progressive” because I don’t think that’s quite… I don’t… There was an article that was like, “Tomo-chan is a trans story!” and I’m like, “It’s not that, so I don’t know why you would tell people…”
So I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I do think that it has some nice stuff to say about the way especially teenagers try to cram themselves into expected gender roles in relationships and how you shouldn’t have to do that and you don’t need to do that. So, leading to this happy ending for the two of them, I think, was a nice way to tell that story for the target audience. So, yay!
Okay, anything else on Tomo-chan, or shall we move on?
PETER: Just for manga fans, I recommend checking it out because the manga does some really cool stuff to pack narrative into four-panels that’s really neat, so definitely read the manga.
DEE: Oh, that’s good to know. Check out the manga for a slightly different version of the story.
Okay, I guess the next one we can touch on is Revenger. Peter, you finished this one. Is there anything else to say about it? I think, based on some of your comments, it went a little off the rails, but correct me if I’m wrong there.
PETER: I wouldn’t say it went off the rails. It just kinda… I don’t know. He revengered. He did it.
DEE: [Chuckles] He sure did revenger all over the place!
PETER: I don’t know. It was kinda like… What was that anime from… I think it was last year, with the crow woman?
DEE: Mm! Joran.
PETER: Yeah, yeah.
DEE: God, what a disappointment that was. Yeah!
PETER: I don’t think it was… It definitely didn’t… It wasn’t as interesting as Joran starting off, but it kinda just took the same course where it’s like big villain reveal, kills villain, has that samurai ending where they get stabbed in the back after you think everything resolved, and roll credits. I don’t know. It’s… We talked about [how] there’s a lot of problematic subplots in the middle of the story and then it just kinda had a very generic close. So, yeah, not much to say.
DEE: So, Urobuchi had to get paid some extra money to fund his puppet adventures, is what I’m hearing.
PETER: Ah, perhaps. That could be the reason.
DEE: [Chuckles] All right. Well, we can move on to the next one on the list, Reborn to Master the Blade. I believe this was the one we were lovingly referring to as “Murder Baby” in the chat. Is that correct?
CHIAKI: Yep. “Murder Baby” stays “Murder Baby.”
DEE: Okay! [Chuckles] Pretty much stayed the course? Anything worth…? Did you enjoy it? Let’s start there.
CHIAKI: I enjoyed it. It was fun. Nothing to really write home about, I feel. The more it got away from the initial premise of a literal bloodthirsty baby and more like teenage girls who want to kill monsters, want to kill God… Yeah, it’s a show. [Laughs]
DEE: Does it have an ending? Or is it like a light novel adaptation that just sort of stops?
CHIAKI: Absolutely kinda… It ends on a major point. It’s like “We beat the bad guys!” kind of moment. But there’s certainly, like, “And there’s more bad guys coming.”
DEE: “But our journey continues.” Got you.
PETER: Does it lean— My one problem with the series— I mean, the series was pretty much just like “Main character fucks up villains for fun.” But every once in a while it would do a weird scene where she’d be looking in the mirror and, because it’s a reincarnated 80-year-old man or something, go like, “Man, I’ve turned into quite the looker” or something like that. Does it stop doing that?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] No.
PETER: I feel like it was harder to maintain the illusion. [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: It kinda keeps going with that, which is like the one unfortunate thing about this show. It’s like, why did we even need that extra bit of storytelling? It’s not really utilized, aside from the occasional gag of “Oh, look at these kids that I would treat as my grandchildren. Also, look at my breasts. They are nice and big now.”
I wish that wasn’t part— And coming from me, as one of the biggest adherents of… I love TSF stories and I want more of them and I want them constantly. This show absolutely did not need it. It could’ve just been anyone with a bloodlust to kill God, and it would have been fine.
DEE: No reincarnation needed, huh?
DEE: Yeah, that’s a lot of the… I’m assuming this one’s based on a light novel based on the extremely long title. [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: It is.
DEE: And it almost feels like that’s just the hook you have to put in them because that’s the trend right now. And some of them utilize it in kind of interesting ways, and so many of them, it’s like it didn’t even need to be there. They just kind of are immediately just characters living in a fantasy world and the reincarnation element does not matter. So, this, it sounds like, is kind of in that secondary category, huh?
CHIAKI: Yeah. Like, there are moments where Inglis will be like, “Oh! This is completely different from my time when I was alive” and “This was the case then, and this is how things worked for me” and blah-blah-blah. There’s moments where the reincarnation bits make sense to point out or add intrigue. But I think the biggest problem is Inglis being an 80-year-old hero king on the inside is wholly unnecessary.
DEE: Mm-hm. So, sounds like if you like that style of story, then that one might work for you; otherwise, probably nothing much there for you.
Speaking of isekai light novels (I think this is an isekai. Maybe not. Maybe it’s a straight-up fantasy), Chillin’ in My 30s After Getting Fired from the Demon King’s Army. Chiaki, you finished this one as well. Thoughts?
CHIAKI: Yes. So, this is not an isekai; it is a fantasy, a fantasy story. It’s about… You can read the first-episode review probably, but it’s about Dariel, who is exiled from the Demon King’s army and finds work at a local village and becomes the head of the village, marries a girl.
The problem with the show was that from episode 1, it was boob joke o’clock. And so, there was a lot of that. But I will report, Marika, who is Daniel’s wife, who is like 99% of the show’s boob jokes, is the only person with the boob jokes. Everyone else is… It’s Everyone Loves Raymond except it’s Dariel. And surprisingly, a heartwarming ending, but you still have the fanservice. It’s more of a comedy series rather than a real drama. It was nice for what it was. And yeah, just fun. Just fine.
PETER: [crosstalk] Surprisingly not bad.
DEE: Okay. So, you liked it but nothing particularly memorable or… surprisingly not bad. Is that what you said, Peter?
PETER: Yeah, yeah.
CHIAKI: Yeah, surprisingly not bad, I think, is the perfect way to put it.
DEE: A glowing recommendation.
Okay, we are entering the Neutral Zone, and I kind of want to skim through some of these. Peter, it looks like you watched a decent number of these. NieR: Automata is one of the ones I would have liked to talk about, but I’m pretty sure that one’s on hold, isn’t it? Like, they haven’t finished it yet?
PETER: Yeah, I feel like since the midseason there’s been two new episodes because it’s been on a hiatus two or three times.
DEE: Okay, we can sit on that one then and maybe touch on it again once it comes back from hiatus, like for real for real.
PETER: Yeah, it’s on episode 8 right now.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, I think there have been illnesses at the studio or something. Maybe not. Maybe that’s just a rumor.
PETER: I just know that among Aniplex there were several delays that I believe they said were COVID-19–related.
DEE: So, that’s one we can touch on later. I guess we can touch on (I know this was one that, again, AniFem audience members were curious about) The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague. I dropped at three episodes not because I hated it, but I kinda just got a feel for what the show was going to be and didn’t necessarily want to keep up with that for a full season. It was fine. It was just a little too, like, chill (ha-ha) for me. [Chuckles]
DEE: And there was an element where when he got hot and melty, he melted into a child, and I found it just a little bit creepy. And it was just enough to make me go, “You know what? There’s other stuff out there to watch.” So I fell off of that one, but it looks like you guys both finished it.
Any thoughts on the final? Did it pretty much stay the course, so if you liked the early episodes, you would continue to like it? How are we feeling about that one?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Good news.
DEE: Good news.
CHIAKI: He does it again.
DEE: Ah! Nope.
CHIAKI: [Chuckles] He melts.
PETER: He does.
DEE: Hate it when I’m right.
PETER: Well, I mean, I did like the early episodes, but by the end I was just kinda… I don’t know. It just kinda got a little boring because it was the same kinda cutesy… Like, they’re blushing over the same things they are in episode 12 as they were in episode 1.
DEE: Yeah, that was the vibe I was starting to get from it. And they weren’t doing enough with the side characters to keep it fresh. So, maybe that changed.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh yeah, side characters are boring.
CHIAKI: Side characters are all the same, too. They do the same bit that they’ve been doing since episode 3.
PETER: Fox girl can be funny. But that’s about it. But yeah, they all have similar relationship dynamics, very chaste. So, by the end, I was just kinda like, “Okay, nah, I’m not going to expect much from this.”
But yes, in the final episode he gets a fever and turns back into a kid, except this time, because he’s turning into a kid or something, he trips on her and lands on top of her on the bed, and she’s got this huge blush on her face. And it’s not framed very well if you’re looking at directorial intent. You know what I mean?
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a weird time to have that moment with them. Maybe you should have it when he’s in his adult body. That’s weird.
PETER: Yeah, it’s a weird, creepy moment to end things off on.
CHIAKI: I also was about to drop this show at like episode 6 because it wasn’t really doing anything. But I saw that AniFem listeners wanted to hear more about it, so I just powered through it. Really nothing much. I guess (what’s his name?) Himuro’s little sister is introduced at episode 8 or 9-ish.
PETER: Oh, yeah, yeah.
CHIAKI: That’s one new thing. But aside from that…
PETER: I feel like she—
DEE: That’s too bad.
PETER: —has a crush on Fuyutsuki as well, and I was wondering if they were going to get into a fight or there was gonna be some sort of competitive element, you know? But even that, she just kinda stayed out of his way even then, so she wasn’t a fly in the ointment or anything.
DEE: I mean, I guess that’s a good thing. I think that would have been worse if it had been the other way around.
PETER: Yeah, I was about to say it sounds kind of problematic, but also it would have been some form of conflict as well.
PETER: So, I have mixed feelings about that, yeah.
CHIAKI: Also, I still can’t tell: are Fuyutsuki and Himuro dating or not?
PETER: Yeah, that’s the other thing.
CHIAKI: I cannot tell. After 12 episodes of them doting on each other, I still cannot tell if they’re actually dating or not.
DEE: They don’t want to put a label on it, you guys! Just…you know.
CHIAKI: Okay, okay.
PETER: That’s gonna be like that one G-Witch comic where she wakes up one day and they’re married and neither of them know what happened.
DEE: Well, may they happily be not-dating for another 24 episodes off-screen. Okay, so that was Ice Guy.
Next one we can talk about, I guess, is High Card. I have very little to say about— I finished this one. I had a good time. It’s just pure popcorn action flick.
I mean, I could definitely… There’s elements of it you could definitely pick into from a feminist perspective in terms of some of the stuff it’s trying to do with found families. There’s one female character in the main group whose whole thing is she gets possessed by a sexy sword. [Chuckles] So, I would by no means call this a model of Feminism (TM) material.
I also was kind of annoyed that on the surface the cast looks pretty diverse but then the one brown person on cast is the only character who doesn’t get a focus episode. So that kind of sucked because… And he has cool plant powers! I was excited to learn more about Vijay and we didn’t get anything. Now, we are getting a season 2 on this one, so they do have time to expand the supporting cast, which is good, and I hope they do.
Yeah, I had a good time, but again, it is pure popcorn. It is fluff. That’s pretty much where I was with High Card. It was kinda nice to have a show I could just sort of turn off my brain and enjoy some action sequences involving magic playing cards.
PETER: Yep. Good animation, cool suits. Some of the powers are pretty fucked up, like the guy who can… just whatever his hand passes through turns into marbles, including human bodies. So, a little bit of body horror maybe.
DEE: I was wanting more of the powers to be like that, to be that level of wild.
PETER: Yeah. I know what you mean.
DEE: And there’s definitely some that—are bizarre in just how specific they are. But most of them don’t get quite that ridiculous, although the bajillionaire who just has piles of money around and then transmutes them into items that are worth that amount is pretty fantastic! I did sort of laugh when that came up.
PETER: Not very helpful if you’re not rich, but yeah, that’s a cool power.
DEE: Oh, no, no, no. This is definitely one of those shows that, like… on the one hand, the main character is a scrappy up-and-comer trying to help out the orphans because he grew up poor, but then the show has such a major— And it’s kind of critiquing that hyper-rich lifestyle, but it also has a major hard-on for that hyper-rich lifestyle, so… Again, very, like, Hollywood action flick in a lot of ways, I think.
PETER: Reminded me of Kingsman.
DEE: Yeah! I got the feeling that that was maybe one of the influences of the creator in terms of cool dudes in suits, explosions go boom, kind of slick element to it. So, yeah. Fun one. I’ll be curious to see how season 2 shakes out. I will probably stick with it because it’s nice to have that.
Chiaki, the next two on the list you watched, and Peter, you watched one of them. They have very similar titles: Farming Life in Another World and Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill. Anything you wanted to say about either of those, or did they pretty much kinda stay the course?
CHIAKI: I can’t remember if Farming Life… the introduction to the first-episode review, I don’t remember what was said on it, but it does kind of become a pseudo-harem show. So, just making sure people know that if they don’t know what they’re heading into.
Was kind of a nice ending. You know, it ends with a childbirth. It was all cute, it’s nice, whatever. But overall, yeah, a bunch of girls end up joining Machio’s farm, and they all farm together and live the pastoral life. It’s fine. Whatever.
DEE: Campfire Cooking?
CHIAKI: Good doggo. Best dog. Anything else, Peter?
PETER: The slime is cute, too. He adopts a slime.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Slime is cute. The slime is the cutest, yes, that’s true.
PETER: [crosstalk] Little slime baby. Names it Sui. Slime is a very good character.
DEE: [crosstalk] But nothing really to add— Nothing really to add past the midseason?
PETER: They introduced the goddesses, who I think…
PETER: I don’t know. It’s just dumber. Yeah, all of them demand the dude send them snacks all the time or, like, beauty products and stuff, so… [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: Total gremlins.
PETER: Not quite sure how to feel about that. It’s probably fine. But yeah, besides that, he just cooks a lot of food for his dog and his pet slime.
DEE: Okay then! So, if you’re interested in this chill-out show, Campfire Cooking is there for you.
Peter (and this is a shame), you’re the only person on the call who finished Buddy Daddies. I… There was a lot of other stuff I was more interested in early on, so I just never got around to getting back to it. How did that one wrap up? Did it finish up okay?
PETER: Yeah, I don’t know how spoilery I should get. Um…
DEE: None? Try to keep away from specifics. You could say something like “It has a downer ending,” but don’t tell me specifically what that would mean, if that makes sense.
PETER: It does get a little dark, and it kinda gets into, like, do people who live their lifestyle… should they be raising a kid like that because they’re endangering the kid just by their association with the kid? There’s sort of this implication that there’s no way that they can leave the lifestyle—but then it has a happy ending. So, spoilers: they did.
PETER: I don’t want to get too into the… I mean, I feel like the big spoilers are in where it gets into the dark part. But I think ultimately they just wanted to have a girl and her two dads living happily ever after the end, so that was the main thrust.
DEE: Did you like it? Would you recommend it to folks, or…?
PETER: In the dark part, there was one twist that came in and complicated things, but the ending just felt super predestined, like that’s the only way it could have ended. You know what I mean?
DEE: Did they kind of handwave away the problems in favor of being like “Yeah, but don’t worry about it. Happy endings for everybody” kind of thing?
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, she never found out her daddies used to be professional killers or anything like that. So, they just get to raise their daughter up. They have one of those time-lapse endings where you get to see her go to high school and all that. So, it’s a pretty sweet ending.
I guess if you liked the early episodes, just know that it does get a little brutal for two episodes or something, if that would scare you away. But otherwise, it’s a lot of cheery dad stuff with a bit of sad dads.
CHIAKI: Just making sure… Gets brutal around where? Like, midseason, end…?
PETER: I think the penultimate episode and the episode before that is a big dark arc leading up into…
DEE: To the finale.
PETER: I guess it would even be the last episode, yeah. Yeah, even the last episode. Just the last half of the episode, after, everything’s resolved and they get to be happy again.
DEE: Good to know.
We are moving right along. Unfortunately no one on this call finished Tale of the Outcasts. Vrai was trying. They weren’t able to finish it, but they said that it kind of just… midseason-ish, nothing new really to report there. So, we’ll skim that one.
We will talk about The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady. I had fun with this one. How about you guys?
PETER: It was fun, yeah.
CHIAKI: [happily] Gay gay homosexual gay.
DEE: [Laughs] I did enjoy how explicitly romantic it got at the end. So, folks at home, if you’re looking for a queer romance, Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady. It is about as canon as you can get!
So… There is kind of an element of… which, I just always feel like we have to asterisk this stuff. For political reasons, there is an adoption that happens late in the game where they are legally sisters. But it is… It reminded me very much of… So, Edo era and even in modern Japan to a lesser extent, it was not uncommon, if you didn’t have any male heirs, to adopt your daughter’s husband into your family so that that would become your male heir. And so, you were technically siblings but also married but not. It was just like a loophole for getting a male heir into the family.
And that is effectively what they’re doing in this situation as well—except, I mean, it’s not a male heir, but it has to do with handling the throne. So, honestly, it barely registered to me, but then I saw some other folks talking about it, and I was like, oh. Okay, yeah, I could see why that might bother some people! But it’s pure politicking. And it gives them a good excuse to continue to be in the same room together, going forward, because they’re functionally married as far as I’m concerned.
Any other thoughts or concerns that we want to bring up? Overall, I did like this one. And it does have an undercurrent of anti-classism, because magic is kind of like technology. It’s limited to the upper classes, and the main character wants to make it available to everybody. And so, that’s a main thread of the story, too. So, it’s got some nice messaging throughout it as well.
Not a ton of caveats, I feel like. A little teeny bit of fanservice here and there but not much by any stretch.
CHIAKI: Yeah. I feel like, you know, as far as Al… I hate him. I hate him so much.
DEE: Mm, the main character Anis’s brother, right?
CHIAKI: Yeah, Anis’s brother. I hate him so much, but he is such a complicated and solid villain when you think about it. So, perfect job as a villain.
DEE: Mm-hm. I’ve also heard from light novel readers that the anime is basically the best iteration of the story. Like, it did a really good job of trimming down some of the unnecessary worldbuilding stuff and focusing on the main characters and—rushes the final act a little bit but, honestly, I didn’t have any issue with it because by then I felt like I had such a good grasp on the characters that I didn’t need to spend a ton of time on what was going on through in their heads because I understood who they were at that point. So, yeah, I liked it.
Peter, anything else to add?
PETER: It was fun. It did feel, yeah, like the plot points were coming at me super fast a lot of the time, but I’ve definitely seen worse executions of that sort of thing. Really gorgeous animation, too. Should mention.
DEE: Yeah, it does look really good.
PETER: Uncommon for isekai series, or usually reserved for the most popular titles, like Mushoku Tensei. [Chuckles]
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] Is this—
CHIAKI: Was this not a heavy hitter?
PETER: What do you mean? As far as popularity?
CHIAKI: Like what people were expecting to be a hit, because I thought that people were looking forward to this one.
PETER: I don’t remember it making many waves beforehand or coming from a particularly popular or highly anticipated property.
PETER: So, yeah, yeah, this one honestly surprised me. I watched all the initial episodes and episode 1 of this looked really good, which is why it stood out to me. And then of course, it turned into a pretty good series. So, yeah.
DEE: Yeah, so I think we’d all say, you know, enjoy that one, folks at home, especially if you like a fun fantasy series. And again, as Chiaki said, gay gay homosexual gay! [Chuckles] Good for you, MagiRevo.
Next one on the list, Kaina. I don’t want to spend too terribly much time on this. I dropped it around… I dropped it at 8, which is a weird number to drop. Usually, if I get past the halfway point, I’m gonna finish it. I was really starting to enjoy this one. I felt like I was starting to get a better handle on the characters and the politicking in the world. And once we got the main trio together, I thought the story was clipping along at an interesting pace.
Two things happened. One, I went out of town, so I hit that thing where you’re gonna fall behind on stuff if you’re not careful. And I also hit an episode where… The show would be so good and then they would throw in some romcom bullshit. And that was the one where they’re having a genuinely good heart-to-heart in a sauna, basically. And then right at the end, she gets excited and throws up her arms and the towel drops off and he sees her naked. And I was like, “Why? That didn’t need to be… in the… You ruined the moment, story!” There was no reason for that except somebody was like, “This needs to have some romcom bullshit in it.” [Chuckles]
PETER: That is totally my theory, that Nihei’s editors, some Gríma Wormtongue guy, going like, “The kids will not watch it unless she flashes him at some point.”
DEE: Yeah, clearly! Clearly, we have to include an “Ah, you pervert!” slapping scene every four episodes, or nobody will stick with this. Which is a bummer, because, again, a lot of the other stuff I was really into about it.
I liked the way they were developing her as a character. She kind of started as a damsel in distress, but I felt like they were building her up into more of a political figure with some… “spunk” is not the word I want but it’s the word I’ve got in my head, so we’ll just go with that.
But yeah, so that scene ended the episode, and then I got super busy with a bunch of other stuff and was out of town. And I just, ending on that sour note, was like, “I’ll just watch other stuff. I don’t need to come back to this.” So I didn’t finish it.
Peter, did you end up finishing this one up?
PETER: Yeah, I finished it. And to your point, yeah, I think Nihei went through like four manga before you ever saw anything like that, so I do think there’s been sort of this mainstreaming process with his art that might be the result of getting some influence from some editors. Or at least that’s my hope. I hope it’s not coming from him. But as far as the ending, it just kind of finishes out the plot in that they’re going to be attacked by the bad nation.
DEE: Mm-hm. Okay, so it’s not… Oh, gosh! The manga is only a couple volumes long and still going. So…
PETER: Yeah, might be the same time, yeah. But after that, I think they announced a movie? A movie is how they’re going to do the next part, something like that? Which is going to be… Now that the bad guys are defeated, they want to band everybody together and find this legendary source of water so that all of them can survive. And maybe it’ll reveal more about the weird ecosystem that they’re in.
DEE: Yeah, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding. I thought the backgrounds… Polygon’s people animation has gotten a lot better. They’re still not the best CG studio. But gosh, the background artwork was gorgeous. Really liked the soundtrack, really liked the world that was getting built around them.
There’s some kind of interesting environmental elements to it in terms of them trying… You know, they’re running out of a water source, and so everybody’s fighting over this, and how the different, like, “nations,” I guess(?), are trying to grapple with that. And I really, really enjoyed that about it. So, maybe one I could maybe see myself coming back to, but possibly in manga form instead of anime just because it’s quicker that way! So… [Chuckles]
PETER: I would also want to mention, they beat the evil king but his country’s still around, so I imagine they’re gonna work together. And as part of that, I think Amerote, that really cool badass female knight on the bad guy’s side…
DEE: She was cool. Yeah.
PETER: … is probably gonna come around to some sort of redemption arc in the movie.
DEE: I got the sense her boss was kind of cackling villain, but she did not feel that way. It felt like she was just trying to do the best she could for her people, so I was curious to see where her character went, yeah. So there’s definitely some good stuff in there. I just… My ability to put up with the BS gets a little bit smaller every month that I get older.
DEE: So, that was kind of my sticking point with that one.
PETER: No, that was a bad scene.
DEE: Yeah. But sounds like if you can get past that, then there’s some interesting stuff in here, and I do think it’s one that builds well on itself. I think if you can stick with it, it gets better and more engaging as you go. So, something to keep in mind, for sure.
Oh, wow! Okay, next one on the list is Endo and Kobayashi Live! Chiaki, Peter, you guys didn’t watch this one, huh?
DEE: Okay, I guess I get to monologue.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] I don’t watch good shows.
DEE: [Chuckles] I guess I get to monologue for a minute here. Yeah, I wound up enjoying this one quite a bit. It is— Trying to think of what to talk about from the midseason without spoiling too much.
There’s some meta elements in it, because the idea is two people in the real world are playing a visual novel, and then one of the characters in the visual novel starts to be able to hear them commenting on the game from outside. And so, they start to communicate with them, because one of the IRL girls is super into the quote-unquote “villainess” character who’s like a big tsundere and she’s like, “She’s just misunderstood! If people just knew what was going on in her head, then they’d love her as much as I do!”
And so, she kind of ends up being that communicator for them. Like “wouldn’t it be nice if there was a character in this world to cut through everybody’s inability to communicate and help them talk to each other?” So I really enjoyed that aspect of it.
And then it also does some really nice stuff in the final arc about how connecting with fictional characters can impact people and maybe give you a boost on a bad day or some confidence because you can resonate with them for this or that reason, and especially in the case of characters who are maybe not the most popular characters in the product—you know, the bad guys. And as a lifelong Team Rocket lover, I can understand that. [Chuckles] So, it’s a very sweet story.
It definitely comes with… There’s a lot of nods to problematic elements in visual novels that the story doesn’t necessarily engage with, but it doesn’t also criticize. Which, that’s more in the early part of the series than the end. Like, there’s a route with a kid who’s basically a middle schooler and there’s a route with a teacher, because visual novels, that’s not uncommon. And the show doesn’t do anything with that, and in fact it does sort of quietly reject that because it nudges both of those characters towards relationships with age-appropriate people. And they never have a romantic relationship with the protagonists. But there’s also not a moment where the characters are like, “Hey, that’s super messed up!” So, your mileage might vary on how it handles those elements.
But overall, I thought it was a very charming shoujo series that kind of plays with the way people interact with fiction and fictional characters, and so I liked it a lot! So, I would give that one a thumbs-up for folks who are interested in the premise, for sure.
CHIAKI: I should check that out actually.
DEE: Yeah, I think you would enjoy it. I will say, it is… what’s the word? “Relentlessly”? That’s not… “Aggressively”! It is aggressively heterosexual. It is one of those where there are boy–girl pairings as far as the eye can see. But I found the couples pretty cute and there’s a big focus on communicating with each other and looking out for each other instead of it just being like one person protecting the other, so I thought those elements of it were really sweet as well. Yeah, so, not a flawless series, but a nice charming one, and I do like to see a good shoujo on the schedule.
Moving up to our final trio of new shows: Technoroid Overdrive. Chiaki, you were hollering about this one a little bit in the Slack.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh my God.
DEE: How is… Should I watch this? Pitch me!
PETER: [obscured by crosstalk]
CHIAKI: Okay, so, just to clear up any confusion, it does indeed end with “the androids sing and dance and cure racism.”
CHIAKI: So, it does have that going against it.
DEE: Oh, I took a sip of water at the worst possible moment! [Laughs]
CHIAKI: [Chuckles] But—
DEE: [crosstalk] Okay! So we cured racism with song! Continue.
CHIAKI: But I will say this is probably even more cyberpunk than Cyberpunk Edgerunners. And I would like to see the mobile game—
DEE: [crosstalk] Though my understanding is that’s not hard to do. Boom!
CHIAKI: That’s true.
DEE: Got ‘em.
CHIAKI: But— [Chuckles]
DEE: How do you mean?
CHIAKI: Just the setup of this show being… You know, and I mentioned this early on in the three-episode, but this is a show with the backdrop of ecological collapse and sentient androids facing sort of subhuman treatment. You know, they ride in the back of the trains and all that kind of stuff.
DEE: Oh, okay! So, not subtle.
CHIAKI: Yeah. It does ramp up the anti-android hate towards the end of the series, as there’s a whole B-plot of whether androids deserve autonomy and recognition as sentient beings or not, which feeds into the A-plot, which is the boys want to pay their electrical bills so they want to sing and dance and become top performers so that they can make money.
Overall, it does do a huge lore-dumping starting episode 8 or 9-ish. And from there, it just goes off the rails in terms of “Wait, what happened? I thought this was about idols. No, it’s not about idols. It’s about a revolution within the androids. And what the f—?” [Chuckles] It was pretty wild. I liked it. It was fun.
DEE: Yeah, I can’t decide if I want to try this out at some point or not! You’ve definitely piqued my interest on a show that I really was not interested in at all. So, I will say that. I do like a cyberpunk that goes buckwild at the end. So…
CHIAKI: Mm-hm. It’s not guns-blazing buckwild, but it’s this weird, like, “Wait, what do you mean the androids are actually built from this?”
DEE: Mm-hm. So, it sounds like it swerves a lot harder into social commentary than maybe it seemed like at the beginning. Is that fair to say?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] In a sense. In a sense, yes. But the overall story is still kind of fluffy at the end. That, I will say. It’s not hard-hitting. The androids’ rights thing isn’t front and center. It’s very subtle, I think.
DEE: Oh, okay. But then they sing a song and everything’s fine. So, maybe a little oversimplified.
CHIAKI: They sing a little song, and they win their freedom. And…
DEE: Oh boy. Oh boy.
CHIAKI: They do a time skip. I found out there’s a mobile game for this (of course there’s a mobile game for this) that takes place ten years later. So this is actually a prequel to the mobile game.
DEE: Huh! Okay. Interesting.
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] And so, this explains why the mobile game is the mobile game. And I want to play the mobile game now.
DEE: Yeah. This definitely sounds like a bit of an interesting mess. I would be very interested in someone pitching us an article on it maybe. So, you know, just nudge-nudge for folks at home who are interested in these topics. Anything else on that one, or should we move on to the next show?
CHIAKI: Let’s go.
DEE: Okay. Ippon Again. I don’t have a ton to say about this one except it was great and I really liked it! Do you guys have much else to add?
CHIAKI: So, I’ll just chime in real quick on this. I know a little bit about judo, mostly because I had worked on profiling Shihan Keiko Fukuda, the highest-ranking woman judoka in the world up until her passing, I think, in 2018 or so. And so, I don’t know judo as a sport, as a martial art as well, but I know Fukuda-shihan’s achievement of ninth dan, the sexism that kept her from advancing, and how women have to fight so much harder to be recognized in the sport.
It was just nice to watch the show to kind of get it on, technically, what kind of achievement it takes to be good at judo. So, it kind of filled out the other half of the story that I was missing and I grew a renewed appreciation for the martial art.
DEE: That’s really cool. Yeah, I can see how that background would feed into your interest in the series, for sure.
And this is not a series that is necessarily about… I mean, at this point are there male characters? [Chuckles] So it’s not necessarily engaging with that sexism, but the fact that it is a show about girls doing martial arts that does not sexualize them… I mean, there’s a couple of shots of them changing out of their gi after a match, but it’s very much just a neutral shot. I mean, they’re in sports bras. It’s not a big deal. It just feels very naturalistic, like in-the-locker-room type stuff.
So I really appreciated that about it, because it is hard to find a lady-led sports anime that doesn’t also kind of feel like it’s selling them as sexual beings, I guess, or idols at the very least. So, to have a show that is really focused on them playing the sport and developing relationships as athletes and developing their goals and their technical skills was just very refreshing.
And it doesn’t really have an ending because it’s based on an ongoing manga that’s like 20 volumes long or something. So, I would love to get more of this. Yeah, I just really enjoyed this one. I hope that it did well enough in Japan to justify more adaptations of lady-led sports series.
And it looks good. Like, I wouldn’t describe the animation as super flashy, but when it needs to make a match look good, it looks good. So, I appreciated it for that as well. Any other thoughts?
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] It conveys the drama. Yeah, it conveys the drama of a match very well.
DEE: Yeah, it is very well storyboarded. And then the animation pops when it needs to, I would say.
CHIAKI: And I hope that in watching this, even one more girl watching this feels like “Oh, I want to try judo, too.” I hope that’s what it inspires.
DEE: Yeah, me too. Go out and flip someone over your shoulder. It’ll be great.
DEE: [Chuckles] Peter, any thoughts on this one?
PETER: No, I never finished the series after episode 8. I never caught back up on it. But I’m glad to hear nothing— I mean, it was on a great course. Glad nothing really bad happened in the last four episodes. I’ll probably catch up on it at some point, but…
DEE: I would recommend this one for you, for sure, because you like a good sports series, and I think you would continue to enjoy this one going through the end.
PETER: Yeah, I was enjoying it. Had a good cast, so…
CHIAKI: Also, it’s a little gay.
DEE: A little bit, yeah.
CHIAKI: The teacher, the teacher.
DEE: The teacher in particular seems to mega-have a crush on the other coach. I would agree with that, for sure. Yeah, otherwise it’s mostly subtextual. But yeah, little bit of that in the background for those looking for it, because it’s a sports series. I mean, you can’t have a sports series without a little bit of shipping, right? Gotta get those shipteases in. So, yeah, Ippon Again, another pretty wholehearted recommendation for me.
And the last one on this list… I mean, we’ll probably touch on sequels briefly because I don’t necessarily want to end on a bummer, but The Fire Hunter was at the top of our list here, and it’s just a very rough adaptation. Not just in terms of animation.
I have a feeling this is a very interesting novel and I would be super into it if I was reading the novel. I also have a feeling it was a novel that was very difficult to adapt, no matter how you did it, and I don’t think this was the optimal way to do it.
In addition to… Like, God, I love the art style, but the animation itself is very rough. You can tell they just thought they were going to be able to do more with it than they were. So, it’s not like it’s storyboarded to have minimal resources. It is storyboarded as if there’s going to be some really kickass fight scenes, and then it’s a lot of awkward freeze-frame type stuff, or people and animals moving very awkwardly across the frame. So that’s a bummer.
But it’s also the way it tries to … There’s a lot of lore that it kind of just ends up infodumping on you. And the way it bounces… There’s effectively two main characters, and I would imagine in the book we’re kind of bouncing back and forth, chapter-to-chapter kind of thing. I don’t think the series does a very good job of gracefully weaving those stories together, so you do just kind of feel like you’re getting jerked from location to location.
As a comparison, I think 86 did this beautifully in its first season, where basically half of every episode was told from… Ilena? I’m gonna mess up names because it’s been a while since I watched it. And the other half was told from Shin’s perspective. And there was a cut in the center of the episode, and it was really well handled.
Fire Hunter is not that. [Chuckles] Fire Hunter is… I think it is really struggling to juggle all the stuff that is probably in the book. I would like to read it. I did finish the anime, but it was a struggle at times because I would find myself kind of zoning out when I was getting infodumped on, and then I would come back to it when it started to focus more on the characters in the moment and how all this is impacting them. So it was a very up-and-down experience and I don’t think I could recommend it at this point. But I would love it if the novel got translated!
Peter, any thoughts on this one?
PETER: Yeah, I agree. Especially near the end where they’re starting to introduce more concepts, like I guess gods are just walking around and shit, whereas before, they’d sort of refer to them like anybody would talk about the gods or something. Kind of like whatever they’re doing up in heaven, but it seems like they have emissaries down on Earth and stuff, you learn, because Akira Ishida shows up, working for the god.
DEE: [crosstalk] Of course he is.
PETER: So, you’re just like, “Wait. Gods are down here?” and there’s the insect people and it seems like it’s gonna be a sort of conflict. So…
DEE: Well, and I think a lot of it— And I can never get the sense how much of this is supposed to be taken literally and how much of it is: these are super rich people who have positioned themselves as gods because they have access to some kind of magic or technology or both that gives them these extra abilities and they’re lording it over everybody. Because there’s definitely an element of classism with the merchants and what we see in the outer villages and things.
So there’s a lot of— Again, kind of like Kaina, there’s a lot of fascinating elements surrounding the cast. I just feel like the adaptation does not do a good job of integrating all of that. And I suspect it would have been very difficult to do no matter what, because it feels like there’s a lot of worldbuilding that has to happen with this one. But it’s a rough adaptation, which is a bummer, because in concept I think I like this a lot. [Chuckles] I really wanted to like it more than I do.
PETER: Yeah. I think the fight in episode 8 looked good, but especially in the early episodes, it’s just kind of like… Yeah, you’re left very confused. It was just tragic because the art style is very nostalgic for me.
DEE: [wistful] I know.
PETER: So, yeah, I don’t know. I will watch season 2 for sure [chuckles], regardless.
DEE: I’ll probably stick with it. In for a penny, right? And when the story is about the cast, I like the cast. I think they’re fairly well-developed, grounded characters. There’s a good blend of male and female characters. Active female characters, which is nice. Akira is a badass fire hunter, which is cool to have around. So, yeah, I’m with you.
I’m probably going to stick with it, but it’s hard for me to recommend because I can see a version of this in my head that is Anime of the Year, and it bums me out that we’re not getting that version. [Chuckles] So…
PETER: True, yeah. Definitely, if it had gotten some— Well, who knows how good the storytelling would be? But even based on the animation in the opening, you could really see the potential of what the series could have been. So, doubly tragic.
But yeah, I don’t know, it seems like Akira might take Touko under her wing and train her to be a fire hunter, which sounds really cool as a potential future. And then the shit going on with Koshi’s younger sister really came out of left field.
DEE: Yeah! There’s a lot of mysteries still swirling around the cast. And if the story can stay focused on that and not get too in the weeds on whatever’s going on with the spiders and the gods and all these groups that are kind of on the fringes, I think it could be a very strong second season. So, we’ll see.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. I said early on this kind of reminded me of Princess Mononoke. And at this point, I think it’s kind of headed into Princess Mononoke’s second act, where there’s all these different factions obviously coming to a head. And I’m interested in what’s happening with the characters. So, there are indeed many aspects of the storytelling and animation that are very unfortunate, but I’m pretty much stuck with it at this point.
DEE: We’re both still here, so that has to say something about it, right? [Chuckles]
PETER: Yeah, for sure.
DEE: All right. Real quick, because we are, as always, going over on our wrap-up…
PETER: As is tradition.
DEE: Yeah, as is tradition. Real quick touching on sequels.
Vrai did want me to give a shoutout to Lupin Zero. Yeah, Vrai basically said if you like Lupin, it’s a really fun throwback, but it does not treat women well at all, like hilari-bad levels of it. So, they cannot in good conscience give it a recommendation on the site, but they did just want to say it’s kind of a problematic fave for them. So, if you’re a fan of Lupin, you can probably overlook that for some of the goodness between Lupin and Jigen specifically. So, Vrai wanted me to mention that.
Peter, did you want to say anything about Vinland Saga or In/Spectre?
PETER: Vinland Saga is doing really interesting stuff now. I haven’t read the manga, so I’m just experiencing the story for the first time in the anime, and they’re really kind of… I think it’s always kind of been about toxic masculinity and the nature of how we deify warriors and conquerors even though they’re all the worst people in the world.
So, it’s kind of like Thorfinn detoxing after season 1, where he was just a revenge-obsessed teenage edgelord, and also finding new meaning in his life. So, in that way, I think it’s been really good. And now he’s probably going to have to fight again, but from a completely different perspective of not wanting to kill anybody but needing to defend others. So, that’s cool.
I personally love In/Spectre. [Chuckles] I don’t know if I can recommend it too well, but it’s basically just supernatural, extremely horny Sherlock Holmes.
PETER: I really like Kotoko. She’s great. It had some of my favorite… It’s a bunch of short stories for this season, and a lot of my favorite subplots were in this one. So, season 2’s pretty great.
DEE: Okay. So if you liked season 1, season 2, it sounds like you’d have a good time with?
PETER: Maybe better.
DEE: Maybe better! Okay, that’s good to know because I was so-so on the first season, which is why I didn’t go back to it.
PETER: It really focused on his cousin or whatever. But I think in this one, they just do a lot of shorter stories that are more focused on the mystery or maybe the side characters, who are a mixed bag. Some of them are really charming; some of them I don’t really care about. Got a badass older lady in one of them. So, I think a lot of these subplots are more engaging than this weird overarching conflict they have with Kuro’s evil cousin.
DEE: Mm-hm. Good to know!
Chiaki, you and I both watched D4DJ All Mix. It’s also kind of a short story collection, so in a similar vein to In/Spectre season 2. I didn’t like it as much as season 1 because it didn’t have that necessarily clear throughline where you’re following the same characters. It bounces around between the different groups.
That having been said, I enjoyed pretty much all of the short stories. I had a good time with it. Did you also feel that way about this one?
CHIAKI: Yeah, total ditto. I feel like it needed more focus on the character-building. Instead, you have the whole “Let’s bring people back to the shopping center,” which no one really cares about the shopping center. We don’t really get to know who the actual shopping center is. And overall, yeah, it was fun. It was just entertaining. Good if you liked the first season and keep watching.
DEE: Yeah, I think if you liked the cast from season 1, you’ll get to spend more time with some of the other groups. And definitely, the story arcs, your mileage will vary based on how invested you are in each group.
It’s not a super memorable season. Season 1 cracked my top five that year because it was a rough year and that show brought me a lot of joy. I wouldn’t say season 2 did that, but like I said, still had a fun time with it. Not super memorable but definitely enjoyable. So, if you liked season 1, check out season 2. I think you’ll have a good time. Just go into it knowing it’s more like a collection of short stories than a novel, if that tracks.
I have been keeping up with Bungo Stray Dogs. It continues to be one of my favorite emotionally sincere, bombastic action set pieces. We’re getting a season— It’s effectively split-cour, so we’re getting a season 5 in the fall. So I’ll probably just save any shouting for when that’s done, because we’re like halfway through a big arc at this point. But continuing to enjoy that.
And then, Chiaki, you… I… So, Bofuri season 2. I enjoyed the first season a lot, and I was like, “I don’t know if I necessarily needed more, but let me watch the first episode and see where I am,” and I finished the first episode and went, “No, I’m good. I don’t need any more of this!” So, I stopped watching.
Did you enjoy season 2? Would you recommend it to folks if they liked season 1?
CHIAKI: Good assessment. Yeah, season 2 is entirely more of season 1 except without any of the community-building, none of the discovery. They add sort of a Pokémon aspect to it midseason, and then now they’re in, like, a PUBG setting. They keep trying to make new ways to play the game, to keep the game entertaining, but I don’t care about the game because Maple’s just gonna Maple the whole way through.
Nice to see the extended cast. All the other people in the show get sort of a spotlight this season. That’s the one nice thing about it.
Also, the game devs, the poor game devs constantly suffering and having to patch things because of Maple. They’re now their own characters, just on the sidelines going like, “Ah, crap, the game broke again. Now we gotta figure out how to not let Maple get away with it,” kind of thing.
But, yeah, it’s really… I think the core of the show was season 1. Season 2 is just kind of there at this point.
DEE: Yeah. It sounds like they don’t necessarily have a clear idea of where they want to take the story from here so it’s kind of just spinning its wheels a little bit?
CHIAKI: It’s actually… Here’s a good way to put it. It’s like you’re watching a Twitch streamer play Final Fantasy XIV.
DEE: Okay. So, if that’s something you enjoy then you’ll probably have a good time with Bofuri! But not much beyond that to hook people in, it sounds like.
DEE: Okay, well, that is good to know. I will probably just be happy with having enjoyed the first season. Sometimes I do that: I stop a show at the end of season 1 because I’m like, “I’m happy with that story. Felt complete.” So that was my mood with that one.
Overall, I think, not a bad season. Not a ton of super-duper memorable shows, but definitely a few ones that we enjoyed quite a bit and some good sequels. So, not a bad time at all!
Any final thoughts or should I play us out?
CHIAKI: Play it out.
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