Vrai, Toni, and Peter try and fail to keep their discussion of a packed-to-the-gills season to a reasonable duration!
Date Recorded: May 13th 2023
Hosts: Vrai, Toni, Peter
0:01:59 KamiKatsu: Working for God in a Godless World
0:03:46 Heavenly Delusion (Tengoku Daimakyo)
0:11:56 The Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts
0:18:40 My Live Story with Yamada-kun at Lvl999
0:20:55 MASHLE: MAGIC AND MUSCLES
0:22:34 Magical Destroyers
0:24:45 Dead Mount Death Play
0:27:47 The Dangers in My Heart
0:34:23 Why Raeliana Ended Up at The Duke’s Mansion
0:37:52 Otaku Elf
0:38:53 Hell’s Paradise
0:44:00 A Galaxy Next Door
0:44:52 Oshi no Ko
0:52:36 Insomniacs After School
0:54:40 Yuri is My Job
1:03:34 Skip and Loafer
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF: The Anime Feminist Podcast. My name is Vrai. I’m the managing content editor here at Anime Feminist. You can find me, sort of, kind of, on the hellsite and occasionally on Mastodon @WriterVrai. Technically, I suppose folks who are part of the Patreon may recognize them from our bonus episodes, which you can get for a mere $5 a month if you want to hear the team’s spicy thoughts on Made in Abyss. But for the first time on the main feed, we have, joining us, new team member Toni, as well as seasonal mainstay Peter.
TONI: Hi, I’m Toni. Go by they/them pronouns. You can find me on Twitter at @poetpedagogue. I’m not actually a poet but… thought it was a cool name. I am now a contributing editor at Anime Feminist. I would say most of my responsibilities are going to be toward podcasting. But yeah, happy to be here.
PETER: And I’m Peter Fobian. I’m a manager of YouTube content strategy at Crunchyroll. And I’m @PeterFobian on Twitter.
VRAI: All right, and this is our midseason podcast! For those of you who haven’t joined us before, what we do is we start at the bottom of our premiere digest, which will be linked in the show notes, and we work our way up. We don’t cover ongoing shows and sequels on the midseason because there is simply too much to talk about, but we will make sure that we talk about them if you come back for our season wrap-up, which is when we get more into the meat of ongoing shows that we’ve been watching in the background.
So, starting from the bottom, we will try not to spend too much time on these series. In fact, we don’t really need to discuss this at all on a content level, but I would like to shout out KamiKatsu: Working for God in a Godless World. It is still fully a Pit of Shame series on a content level. But if you are somebody who is interested in titles that are production disasters, this is an all-time example. Oh my God, it’s melting in real time and also Megumi Ogata is there.
PETER: Well, is it a disaster or are they just hardcore memeing?
VRAI: No! I refuse to believe that. Peter, never attribute to evil what stupidity will answer.
PETER: I don’t know. I know the author of the original work has a tractor as their Twitter banner now, so…
VRAI: You know what? If they’re leaning into it, I salute them. It is a trash garbo show, but boy, am I watching it.
PETER: Yep. It’s entertaining in its own way. It’s its very own special thing.
TONI: For those of y’all who are not aware, the tractor is a reference to… there’s an episode where there’s a character who’s riding a tractor, and they just have a filtered image of a real tractor just driving along and with an anime face on the person who is driving it.
VRAI: It’s rotoscoping, it’s bad artifacting meets really stiff animation. It’s so much. But again, if you are going for the production disaster elements, please do be aware that this is a show that has a lot of content around sexual assault, sex slavery, a “funny pedophile character” … It’s not a good show. Yeah, that’s all I have to say about that.
Moving up to things that are also kind of yikes but at least have more going on… Toni, you are currently the only one keeping up with Tengoku Daimakyo, which is also known as Heavenly Delusion in the official translation of the manga.
PETER: Yep. Which has been coming out for a long time under the title Heavenly Delusion, so…
VRAI: [sarcastic] Thanks, Disney.
PETER: I’m current on the series as well, though.
TONI: Glad to hear we’ll have two perspectives on this mess. Because it’s a mess, and I feel like it’s a very controversial mess because a lot of people really like it, but I am of two minds about it. If you go back and you read the three-episode digest, you’ll get a lot of my general feelings about the show, especially the body swap. So if you want to read that, feel free to. But the general gist is that it is a messy choice that could go either in the direction of just being a total disaster that ruins a show or just interesting explorations of gender fluidity. The problem is that Kiruko or Haruki… (I cannot remember all the different things they go by; it’s too much.) They are consistently subjected to gross sex stuff that I just really wish they weren’t, and especially from Maru. Okay, so when I first watched the sister body swap episode, after the trauma backstory… They’re co-protagonists. His name is Maru. And yeah, they normally have this really fun, silly, just kind-of-ribbing-each-other dynamic where they’re just kind of constantly making fun of each other, and I really enjoy that. But after the sister body swap episode, their dynamic got a lot more gross because Maru’s reaction to it was weirdly possessive and basically… And when I first watched it, I was extremely grossed out because Kiruko just told this really horrendous, terrifying story of being forcibly put into another body, of his sister, and Maru’s reaction is basically like, “Oh, wait, that means I can’t get it in, can I?” to be vulgar, which is like… yikes.
But at first, I was like, “Okay, well, you know, it’s a messy reaction to a messy, weird situation that no one would actually deal with. Fine.” But then Maru starts, over and over again, trying to nonconsensually kiss Kiruko. It had already happened before, but it just gets ramped up. At one point, Kiruko kind of offers to let Maru fondle her breasts as kind of a joke kind of ploy to get Maru to do something dangerous. And then Maru takes it way too far and way too seriously. And the way it’s framed is really interesting because it’s from Kiruko’s perspective and you’re seeing Maru be like a creep from her perspective, but the way the soundtrack is and the way the framing is makes it seem like it’s done for laughs. And then Maru gets sexually assaulted, himself. So, this show has a problem with sexual assault that I really was not expecting from the first couple episodes and is really starting to destroy my enjoyment of it. And I’m really worried about the direction the show is heading. It’s really not fun to watch characters who are nonbinary or quoigender be subjected to this kind of violence without the show seeming to have any idea what to do with it.
The other characters, right, like… The school storyline is really… I find it to be the more interesting part of the show in some ways, because it seems to be exploring gender fluidity in a way that seems almost like… On one hand, it feels very warm and showing gender and sexual fluidity as just a natural part of growing up and also not confinable by authorities because the authorities are trying to confine it and they’re failing, or at the very least they’re noticing it and they’re kind of like “What’s going on here?” But also, I’m concerned that it’s going to go… it’s starting to feel a little bit like Queer Child Zoo. Like how some people critique certain “cute girls doing cute things” shows of being like Girl Zoo, this feels a little bit like Queer Child Zoo where it’s a bit voyeuristic in a way that I’m starting to get a bit concerned by. But I also think it reframes the Kiruko storyline in a really interesting way, so I’m just of two minds about it.
VRAI: Mm-hm. Yeah, it’s one that I’ll go ahead and tell y’all at home, we’re planning to do its own podcast on, and y’all can’t make me watch it until it’s over and I have to do it for that. So, it’s okay; we’ll sort of peel the skin off this thing once it’s over and we can see where it ended up. But yeah, it sounds like a lot.
TONI: I really just… I just really want my boy Tokio to be okay. I really want him—er, them… I don’t know what their gender is. It’s not clear. But I want them to be okay, I want them to be happy, I want them to kiss that other boy and for them both to be happy ever after, but I don’t feel like that’s gonna happen.
VRAI: This doesn’t seem like that kind of show.
TONI: No, it feels… This is very Made in Abyss!
PETER: I was going for… I was thinking more Wonder Egg perhaps, because I feel like a lot of the concepts that it first brings in seem to point toward some sort of greater awareness of the themes that they want to introduce in the story, but the further it gets, it seems like… I think the entire subplot around Kiruko being a boy put into his sister’s body is like “What if a man could be sexually assaulted?” was the author’s brilliant idea for that character as some sort of environmental horror. Yeah, and I do think a lot of the worldbuilding is really interesting, on both sides of the story for me. Definitely elevated by the really great production it’s getting in the anime as well. But also a central tenet of the story that I think is really one of the focus pieces is the camaraderie between Kiruko and Maru, which… I mean, I’m ahead of the manga, at which point I’m kind of not feeling it anymore because Maru is just kind of relentlessly trying to nonconsensually kiss or grope Kiruko at this point, and it’s like retroactively… I watch the anime now and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, they really have a good back-and-forth, but…” and just knowing it’s going to… what we’re seeing now is not an exception. He’s not course-correcting after finding out that Kiruko, I guess, maybe identifies as a man. He just keeps leaning into this “I’m romantically interested in you” even though Kiruko has made it clear that they don’t feel the same way. So, it’s hard to enjoy their kind of buddy dynamic even at this point in episode 6 with the latest event at the hotel. And I’ll just… Spoilers, but it gets worse and worse.
TONI: Yeah, that hotel scene really ruined the show for me. But I already kind of spoiled what happens in it, so I’m not gonna go into it any more. But yeah, this show is a lot. You know, imagine that you’re on a road trip where you have to rely on somebody else and that somebody else is aggressively trying to sexually assault you every day. [Chuckles] That sounds not fun, and yet that’s supposed to be the dynamic that we’re buying into as like a fun, silly comedy thing. And usually the sexual assault is played for laughs, and I hate it.
VRAI: Yeah, that is rough. So, we’re gonna have to put a pin in that for now and keep it moving right along. This next show is The Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts, which did not have an episode check-in because it aired a lot later than the other shows. Toni, you watched some of this one, although I gather it was very not for you.
TONI: Okay, here’s my thing about it. It really is doing that shoujo protagonist who is very kind and empathetic and self-effacing and doesn’t believe in herself but then she has to have somebody who believes in her and protects her, even as she believes in everybody else and supports them. So it’s kind of lesser Tohru vibes, you know, because I loved… I think Tohru’s a fantastic protagonist, but this is like her but without any of the things that make Tohru interesting. My problem with the show is really just… The central conflict of the show is that she is a human in a beast world where the beasts effectively have this hierarchical nation-state that is above the human nation-state and forces the humans to sacrifice a human to them once a year, which… So, there’s a clear hierarchy between these two countries or these two societies. And yet, it really wants to do that fantasy racism thing that a lot of these fantasy racism shows love to do, which is to say, “Oh, can’t we just get along if we see that they’re like the same as us? Colorblindness!” or color biasedness, whatever term you want to use. But that’s not how racism works, and especially when one society is clearly exploiting the other. And watching this character just be incredibly self-effacing the whole time and be totally okay with being consigned to a palace, and her fighting back is just cute, I guess, and she has to kind of be told that she deserves to not be literally eaten… It’s not for me! It just really isn’t.
TONI: And I’m somebody who likes— [Chuckles] Yeah. I don’t know. And I don’t think it’s interested in that psychology in the way that I’ve heard, for example, Ancient Magus’ Bride is, like the psychology of such a character.
VRAI: Yeah, I think, of the monster-fucker series, Ancient Magus’ Bride is probably the most strongly written character one. I would also say… I said it when Sugar Apple Fairy Tale was doing its nonsense, and I will say it again now. Of the Magus’ Bride also-rans (I guess, let’s call them), I still remain weirdly fond of Tale of the Outcasts, even though I still need to finish it, so, grain of salt. But from what I’ve seen, which is about two-thirds of it, it does a lot— It has a slightly better grip on doing the whole “Yes, this is a fantasy about being a frail young protagonist who is being protected by this very strong monster who is terrifying to everybody except for you.” But it has, I don’t know, I feel like, a little bit less gross about it and a little bit more thoughtfulness, and it is at least trying to cut its “Oh my God, fantasy racism with demons” with classism and some other thoughts and using positions of women in society. So, it’s still doing all the shit, but if that is the kind of itch you’re looking to scratch for, I think it might be a better one than this.
PETER: Yeah. It’s interesting because I remember when Ancient Magus’ Bride was coming out, Dee and I especially came down pretty hard on the ending of season 1. And now we’re getting this glut of new shows and you can’t help but go like, “Man, Ancient Magus’ Bride was really doing a lot of stuff really well.”
VRAI: Well, and I mean, in fairness, Ancient Magus’ Bride, I also fell off of it because it is such a good character show that is strongly written and thoughtful enough that you can’t really just brush over the power imbalance, which it kind of tries to do. So, yeah, I feel like I understand more getting frustrated with it versus a show where it’s like, “All right, this is the archetype we’re doing, and either that appeals to you or it does not.” You know?
PETER: Yeah, I think a weakness in a lot of these that I found is they just really don’t feel like there’s anything interesting about the girl because they’re just perfect, and kind of alarmingly young-looking in all of them, too, given the relationship dynamic that they’re setting up, whereas Chise had much more to offer in terms of actually being the main character. It’s like it was a character piece rather than just a story about a dynamic that they liked with a character who was really just going to, I guess, unapologetically perform emotional labor for the monster guy.
TONI: Yeah, this show feels a little bit less like the character is actually doing any important emotional labor for the beast husband so far, and more just like she’s kind of…
PETER: Coming in like a whirlwind to the monster court?
TONI: Exactly. Like she’s kind of this disruption to the space. Which, I guess is, again, where that Fruits Basket comparison could work, but without any of the interesting… It always feels like, “Oh, no! A human is here! Oh, wait. She’s a nice girl! That makes it better.” Or alternatively, “Oh, no! A human is here! We must…” And then the king takes her and hides her away and protects her, which is just very rote and uninteresting in terms of how it is representing fantasy racism.
VRAI: Honestly, we could do an entire podcast on the everything that is fantasy racism. But today is not that day, because it’s a continual problem in a lot of media and there’s just been a spate of them in anime recently.
For now, we will leave that aside and head up to My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Level 999. Alex is still keeping up with this one. I ended up dropping it not because I hated it, but just too much other stuff. And their sort of check-in opinion is: it’s nice. It’s good when it’s good, basically, but there are these frustrating background elements. In their three-episode check-in, they talked about the fact that it was setting up… Yamada’s younger sister is jealous of Akane and wants to sort of muscle her out of the guild. And of course, we have two female characters; they have to be in competition. And so, that plotline ends up with them becoming friends, which is great, and clearly this is a lonely little girl who wants friends. But on the way to that, the younger sister basically sets Akane up to be cornered by a stalker, and the show kind of plays that for comedy. And that kinda sucks. I have heard from folks in the Discord that eventually the manga does even out and find its footing and it just kind of stays in those stronger moments it’s exhibiting, but I just don’t have the patience to wait for it to get there, and I imagine some other folks might feel the same in such a strong season, which is a shame. Peter, any thoughts to add?
PETER: Yeah, that kind of summarized it. And now that little sister is friends with Akane, I think she is now invested in her getting together with Yamada and has done things like push her into them, which knock them both over and hurt them, to set up romcom-type goofs. So, I’d say it’s good that they’re friends but also, it’s getting very tropey and hammy right now. Overall, I would say I enjoy the show and I like a lot of characters, but I would really like if we could know anything about Akane herself besides the fact that she’s just a real nice girl. I feel like we know more about every single character in the show. There’s just a lot that should be developed where it feels like it’s sliding into a more tropey area now, although it’s encouraging to hear that other people say it gets better later on. I’m going to keep watching it regardless.
VRAI: Right. Rock on. Mashle and Magical Destroyers are both shows that had sort of vague glints of being anti-authoritarianism or anti-authority sometimes, for a second, so I wanted to just check in for a brief second to see if there was anything interesting going on with those, especially because I really hated Magical Destroyers. I hated it a lot.
PETER: Mashle… I mean, the whole structure is just so that he has people to fight. That’s it. It’s got nothing to say. And it’s got one gag, which is Mash surprises people by being really strong and beating up a wizard guy. That’s really all that happens in that show. Oh, and it’s just wholesale ripping off Harry Potter. There’s a sorting hat unicorn skeleton; they have different houses; they call things almost the same thing; they have Quidditch, which is called Duelo.
VRAI: Look, if people are so desperate to not read another book that they want to watch an anime version not written by a TERF, so be it.
PETER: Yeah, I guess. Yeah, you could say it is Harry Potter except rather than becoming a cop he’s beating up cops. So, it does have that going for it!
VRAI: I guess there’s that. Is Magical Destroyers still id fic?
TONI: [crosstalk] Does it have muscles, though?
VRAI: Oh, it doesn’t have muscles.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, he uses hamstring magic as a high source of energy.
TONI: [crosstalk] Why is it called Mashle: Magic and Muscles?
PETER: He has no magic but he is extremely fit, so he just punches wizards and knocks them out or slaps their spells aside or flies his broom by kicking his legs so hard that he levitates. That kind of thing. That’s the joke. That’s the only joke.
VRAI: All right. And Magical Destroyers? Anything? Is it still just relentless “Here’s all the things that I think are cool and anime and now they’re in my anime”?
PETER: I need to catch up a bit on it. It is kind of doing this… (I’ve seen it done before; no examples come to mind) where it’s kind of like “This is…” [Sighs] How do I even describe it? Like, people kind of think otakudom is weird, but there is something to be said for the passion people find in these various interests. And they hyperfocused on different ones like guys who like doing model race cars. I think what it’s shooting for is the idea that in an effort to promote the idea of normalcy or to be a functioning member of society or a model citizen, you have to give up these passions and be normal and not be able to feel this kind of passion for this kind of frivolous hobby, away from real fixation.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Oh, so, weaksauce Complex Age. Okay.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, it’s trying to do that, and it does seem genuine in that desire.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s fair.
PETER: I think it just is… It’s really weird. I am kind of just enjoying how early Gainax-y it feels. But that’s kind of a me… [Chuckles]… well, me and a lot of people that I know appreciate that kind of aesthetic and drive. But I don’t know if I could say the show has anything truly substantive in it, and it definitely does a lot of weird/kind-of-problematic shit, so…
VRAI: Has it introduced any women who aren’t sexy magical girls?
PETER: Um… Pretty much all the otakus are guys except for the girls who are magical girls. No, there were some girls at the one magical girl’s, like, sex drug cult.
VRAI: [deadpan] Oh, cool.
PETER: But besides that, yeah, not too many ladies outside of that.
PETER: There’s something going on with the magical girls and the villain woman, but that’s kind of TBD right now.
VRAI: Right. All right, let’s leave it then, because we gotta be moving along. We’re almost at the 30-minute mark here. I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World. That’s nothing.
Dead Mount Death Play I want to spend just a second on because I managed to write the entire premiere review not realizing that this was an adaptation of a Narita work, who folks at home may know as the author of Baccano and Durarara!!, which explains some things and also piqued my desire to keep up with it. And I will say, I am enjoying it. I think that he has a real skill for writing characters who are very archetypal but making it feel refreshing. I will say, I’m very proud of him. His stories are just relentlessly heterosexual, but for this one he’s discovered that lesbians exist. Now, the only way he could think to introduce these lesbians, who, by the way, are the woman who runs the bar and also gives these assassins their assignments… it’s her and she’s dating her two bodyguards. The only way we could learn this information was to see them in their lingerie doing foreplay in the bedroom. It’s the only way.
VRAI: But, you know, I’m glad for her and her two girlfriends. They’re fun! That’s the thing with this series, is all the female character designs are annoying (they’re really annoying), but the characters themselves are a lot of fun. Misaki, in the premiere review, I sort of called her discount Yuno, which is unfair upon reflection. She’s more like if Amane Misa was written by an author who wasn’t a relentless misogynist, so she’s kind of ditzy but really strong… kind of thing. Very violent. It’s sort of doing something— I don’t know how far it intends to lean into it, but it’s definitely got an element of “We’re hanging out with these assassins and killers, but the cops are much more bloodthirsty and callous” kind of thing going on. We’ll see how much it sticks to that, but… I don’t know, I’m really enjoying it.
PETER: Yeah, I’m curious how anti-cop it’s going to be, because the cops definitely have not been nice guys so far.
VRAI: Mm-hm. You know, it kind of sucks that the one brown-skinned character so far is the extremely violent, emotionally dead cop. But, you know. Yeah, I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying this one.
PETER: Same here. Yeah, it was very unexpected. It seemed super edgelordy isekai at the beginning, but then you find out that the necromancer skeleton is kind of just a nice dummy boy who wants to make little children’s ghosts happy [Chuckles] in a very unexpected turn of events. I have no idea what the overall story is reaching for yet, what the objective is. I don’t know where any of this is going.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s… I mean, I assume it’s something to do with Polka’s family. I should have known that this was a Narita work when there was a character named Polka Shirahama! [Corrects self] Shirayama [sic]. But yeah. And it’s two cours, so there’ll be time to find out.
All right, moving on. Dangers in My Heart. I am so annoyed that this has turned out to… After he realizes that he likes her in about episode 3, it basically drops the murder fantasy shit that was my biggest complaint with the opening. What a singularly unpleasant five-minute opening this series has. But from there, where the series is at now, it’s kind of cooled down into “He’s an edgelord in that he’s written an embarrassing chuuni wish-fulfillment isekai novel in his notebook, and he wants to go to the job fair day at the coroner’s!” It’s extremely relatable, frankly! [Chuckles] It’s embarrassingly relatable!
TONI: Not the coroner! [Chuckles]
VRAI: It’s so cute.
PETER: It’s a stable career.
VRAI: My partner, who did most of a degree in that field, responded with “It’s really boring, actually!” The thing that I do want to shout out with these later episodes other than… is I think it’s trying to do something really interesting with sexuality in terms of… You know, there are a lot of series, right, about teen romance that break down either to “They’re really G-rated and fluffy,” which is a great thing to have (those are really nice shows and I like them), or… shows that are about sex and horniness are often really sleazy fanservice fests, right, that are about the male gaze to the point of being kind of dehumanizing to the female characters, when there’s a male protagonist. This series in the last episode or two has really tried to tackle this anxiety that Ishikawa has about… So, one of his classmates tells him “Oh, I knew I had a crush on this girl because I couldn’t jack off to her anymore.” And so, he starts getting anxious, like, “Oh, no, I thought I liked this girl, but I’m still having fantasies about her. Does that mean I don’t really like her? Is this just teenage horniness?” And I’m like, “Oh, child!”
And even though we’re really trapped in his very limited perspective, I feel like the writing itself, partly maybe because it has a female author, has really smart character writing for the women, and you really strongly get the sense throughout that these two both like each other; they’re just bad at conveying it in very different ways that are at cross-purposes. It’s really sweet and nice. I think after Skip and Loafer it’s my favorite boy–girl romance that’s going on this season, and I’m very offended about it!
VRAI: [Chuckles] It’s nice in that a lot of times when you have tall, sort of confident, flirtatious girl – small, shy, and awkward boy romances, a lot of them traffic in big age gaps, like Sachi’s Monstrous Appetite or Beauty and the Feast or even Call of the Night to an extent (although that… mitigating vampire circumstances). This one, they’re classmates, so it’s still kind of got that dynamic to it but it doesn’t have the uncomfortable undercurrents, which is nice. I will say the most recent episode, which is 7 at time of recording, does have an entire eight-minute bit dedicated to boob jiggle, which I didn’t love.
TONI: [groaning] No!
PETER: That’s a considerable portion of episode.
TONI: That’s a lot.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s like… Yeah, it’s “Oh, no! Oh, no, track-and-field day.”
PETER: Oh. Okay.
TONI: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting thinking about what you were saying earlier, about the dichotomy between these very male-gazey romances and then these very cute and fluffy ones, because when I think about— I really do wish there were more shows that would acknowledge that sex exists and is actually a really interesting topic in romance without it becoming hypersexualizing. And, by the way, we don’t have to include this, necessarily, depending on how I set me up. But when I think of something like My Dress-Up Darling, right, it really treads the line, it really walks the line between having certain moments where… most of the time really staying true to “Sex exists and is on these teenagers’ minds and is part of the reason that they are dating each other,” and then it just slowly veers off course. And I want more shows that are able to walk that line more effectively.
VRAI: Toni, have you watched Yamada’s First Time yet? Because you’d really enjoy it.
TONI: Oh, I’ve watched about five episodes of it, and I definitely really enjoy it.
VRAI: But yeah, no, it’s a great example, because I was actually going to bring up My Dress-Up Darling because that’s a series where I really enjoy the manga but I had to drop the anime because the fanservice feels so leery. Whereas with Dangers in my Heart, there is a little bit of boob nonsense in a couple of scenes but it feels… It’s annoying but it doesn’t feel skeevy, necessarily, if that makes sense. You know what I mean?
TONI: Yeah, yeah.
VRAI: It’s like, okay, this is happening, yeah, but it’s— I don’t know. I think it comes closer to doing the thing that people always try to say about shows like these, with debatable amounts of accuracy, whereas we’re just observing the character being horny. It’s not about leering of the objective camera, if you will. And I think because this series so frequently will go episodes at a time with no fanservice at all, I think it is coming closer to hitting that sweet spot.
I don’t know. It’s nice. There’s a fat character and she’s adorable, although I wish the poor thing wasn’t constantly having diet anxiety. But I don’t know, it’s a nice show. In fairness, all the other characters keep telling her she’s very cute. So, that’s nice.
PETER: That’s good. I’ll check it out.
VRAI: All right, that is enough time to spend on that one. We are going to hop up and do a very quick check-in on Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion. Lizzie… Peter, I know that you mentioned you are current on this, right?
PETER: I’m probably an episode or two behind at this point.
VRAI: Eh, close enough.
PETER: Okay. [Chuckles]
VRAI: So, Lizzie watched five episodes, and they checked in that it’s definitely… They were really struggling with the fact that the animation continues to be pretty rough and pretty stiff. It feels a lot more restrained than the manhua, which they’re a fan of, although there is a queer-coded hairdresser character in episode 3 that’s apparently a lot more restrained and respectfully handled than in the source material, which is nice. And there’s some good chemistry between the main couple. And we’re kind of moving into a conflict after the main hook of “She has to avoid her death flag as a reincarnated character.” But I think their ultimate takeaway was this is unfortunately one of those female-oriented series that is good and worth reading, but maybe you should just go to the source material. Which is too bad. There are too many of those.
PETER: Yeah, I don’t know if I have too much to say on it now. I’m kind of used to them not receiving the best adaptations most of the time. I think Raeliana really just has some more dynamic scenes where that sort of issue with production really shows more, like a ball where everyone’s dancing, that kind of stuff. I do also like… It’s Nick, is the like, I guess, hairdresser, fashion consultant, cosmetologist who saves Raeliana from an evil countess by sneezing and saying “Bitch” at the same time, several times.
VRAI: Everybody needs a fantasy gay best friend, I guess!
PETER: He handles the countess well so Raeliana can go elsewhere and continue on her mission. I do think the story is a bit more interesting. What should I say? There’s a lot more set-in conspiracy that she’s working through than a lot of the villainess stuff (where it’s very gamified in the beginning of those, usually), which has kind of pulled me in more than the other ones. I haven’t really read the… I think it’s a webcomic. I think I got that right.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah, it’s a webtoon.
PETER: Okay, so I also can’t… I’m not sure how great the art is on that one. Maybe I’m really missing out. But so far, as far as “reincarnated as the villainess” stuff, I’d say it’s pretty comparable to some of the other ones I’ve seen so far, and maybe I’m a bit more interested than I was initially in other ones like Villainess.
VRAI: Yeah, so, if…
PETER: I guess they all have “Villainess” [obscured by crosstalk].
VRAI: [crosstalk] Nah, yeah, I’m with you. So, if folks want a villainess anime that’s maybe a little bit more dramatic, courtly intrigue, it might be worth checking out if they don’t mind slightly stiff animation, or at least checking out the source material, because we like to see things for girls do well!
Otaku Elf is… There is not a lot to report on this one, except Alex and Chiaki are both really enjoying it. It’s a nice show. It’s… Koito, who is the assistant, manages to get her own friend so that she can show off her gremlinliness, which is nice. Her relationship with Elda continues to be really warm and pleasant, but it’s more like older woman and niece rather than a shipping, age-gap sort of thing. And it’s also got some speckled bits of history lessons about Edo-era Japan and some stuff about Kansai as well, so if you’re interested in gentle comedy with a tiny, tiny bit of edutainment on the side, then this might be a good one. It’s one that looks really nice. I just simply have not had time! That is where that one is at.
Ah-tah-dah, moving up the list… Hell’s Paradise is… so much. [Sighs] It’s so much. Peter, do you have quick thoughts on this one?
PETER: Yeah, I guess. I mean, I’ve been enjoying it so far. I think its author has kind of specialized in short manga in Jump or stuff that just gets canceled quickly. So, I think Hell’s Paradise is a pretty… well, a very short manga as far as Shonen Jump titles go.
VRAI: [deadpan] In that it’s 13 volumes long?
TONI: [Hums in alarm]
PETER: Yeah, it’s like a self-contained— I guess [it’s] about as long as Demon Slayer, actually, right? So, a similar length. I have no idea how long it’s gonna go on since I haven’t read this one ahead. But I am kind of interested in the deuteragonal relationship between Sagiri and Gabimaru. I have been very nervous at several points about her just becoming someone that he needs to constantly protect while she sorts through this issue that you only see in female characters where they don’t want to fight because they’re worried about killing people, which none of the male cast suffer from, in a combat series. But episode 6, I think she kind of got to step up, and I hope they maintain that momentum rather than just making it sort of like a reminder that, oh, she can fight if she absolutely has to.
VRAI: And I mean, in fairness, I think… you know, my bar for Shonen Jump battle series is on the fucking floor, but I think that this series is at least trying to keep her and Gabimaru’s stories parallel with the sense that he also is very troubled by the amount of killing he does and just did a lot more of it before her and had already reached the place that she gets to by episode 6, which is nice. I like that they have a completely platonic relationship, which I think will hold firm. I don’t know. It’s nice. I like that he’s a wife guy. A lot of this is just restating my three-episode stuff, but… And it’s the most “my bar is on the floor” thing ever, but I appreciate the effort that Sagiri’s character arc… It is her mentor dying and, I think somebody in the Discord said, with his dying breath saying, [Assumes a laboring voice] “I realize now the gender essentialism is wrong!”
PETER: [Unintelligible due to crosstalk] [Chuckles] Yeah. I mean, it is kind of standout. One of the things you can appreciate about Kaiju No. 8 is that the main character’s like 32, and in this one the main character is happily married, just trying to get back to his wife, who he loves very much. That kind of stuff really stands out when like every single other main character is like a 12-to-14-year-old boy who usually has a crush or is just completely unaware that sex is a thing that happens, one of the two. So, that is refreshing in its own way. And I do like Sagiri a lot, so I’m hoping that she gets some more spotlight time. And I do think this series has some interesting ideas with this crazy island it’s put together and (what do they call them?) the hermits or the travelers that are on it. I think it’s got some big Buddhist themes that it’s building upon. And generally, I found stories where they’re searching for the… I think there might be a better component to the story in that they’re kind of being Suicide-Squadded onto this island for (I can’t remember) Emperor or Shogun wanting to get the Elixir of Life, the absolute criminality of the premise, and how they might circle back on the reason why they’re all on the island and maybe some kind of justice in all of this chaos. You know what I mean?
VRAI: I do also golf-clap for the anime, that even though Yuzuriha has the flashy, revealing kunoichi costume, the anime doesn’t do a lot of skeeve with it, which is nice. And I really like Nurugai. She’s precious and adorable, and it’s nice to see a Sanka character depicted. Whenever anime does stuff with indigenous Japanese peoples, that’s always really cool, I think, and I want to protect her; she is small.
PETER: Yeah, I’m really interested in what the series has planned for Nurugai.
VRAI: I haven’t read all the manga, but I am sort of reading ahead a little bit. I think the anime is currently halfway through volume 3, and I’ve read through volume 4. This anime is doing something with gender, but I’m not sure whether it’s good.
PETER: [Chuckles] Yeah, I think that’s the feeling. There’s definitely gender stuff happening. It’s just… is it going to be good gender stuff or bad gender stuff?
VRAI: So, I think, because we’re running a little late, we’ll leave that for now until we get to the end of this. I assume it’ll adapt the whole thing. I don’t know. It’s MAPPA.
PETER: Most likely.
VRAI: So, we’ll just put a pin in that for now.
A Galaxy Next Door is still adults talking through very tropey things like adults?
PETER: Yes, yeah. Dee pretty much described the whole thing. It introduced a super problematic premise but it couldn’t have happened to more nicer, communicative people. They’re talking through their feelings. Essentially, he’s become kind of like her magical slave, but they’re both trying to find solutions and keep each other’s feelings in mind and maintain [an] open line of communication, and they’re very considerate of each other. So, despite the fact that they’re in this really problematic situation, both of them are just being the best people they possibly could, and it’s very interesting and touching to watch them work through problems like that. Also, his two younger siblings are really cute.
VRAI: Rock on. Good for them. Toni, you’ve not got a chance to talk for a minute. So, Oshi no Ko, how’s it going?
TONI: I am enjoying Oshi no Ko. I wouldn’t say this is my favorite of the season, but it’s definitely one that I’m enjoying. So, I think I’m really enjoying the renewed focus on Ruby and Kana as characters. Ruby is continuing to be… I wouldn’t say, necessarily, “uncomplicated,” but her motivations are she wants to be an idol, and she’s living out that and the characters around her are trying to support her in that dream, and she’s kind of running into the challenges of the industry. And I am enjoying getting to watch the show allow her to indulge in that dream without pooping on it yet, in the way that you might expect it to, you know, given how wild the first episode was, right? Kana is one of my favorite characters in the show. I mean, I like all the characters, but Kana I find to be very complex. I think it’s interesting how she’s trying to work within these systems to maintain her integrity as an artist and that it takes seriously her intellectual engagement with acting and artmaking. I really appreciate this show and the way that it looks at performing arts in general. I would say Aqua remains kind of an edgelord. Definitely not my favorite part of the show, to be honest.
VRAI: I don’t care for him.
TONI: Yeah, he’s just kind of… I do care about him finding Ai’s killer because I care about Ai as a character. I thought she was fantastic. But honestly, I’m really much more interested in all of the women that surround him, who are often bisexual or at least implied to be.
VRAI: Oh, yeah, Ruby has a crush on several girls.
TONI: Yeah. I don’t know if she’s had a crush on a guy yet. I really don’t think she has. And not that that would invalidate anything, but it is very refreshing to have such a pretty explicitly queer female co-lead and also have it not be weird about it.
VRAI: I don’t know if I trust like that. She’s definitely—
TONI: Oh, okay. [Laughs]
VRAI: I do not know that they won’t turn around and call it admiration, you know?
TONI: Yeah, I don’t either. That’s absolutely true, though.
VRAI: Like, I want to believe!
TONI: There was definitely a boob-staring moment where Ruby was like, “Wait, I’m staring at this girl’s boobs. I must stop.” Which, it’s gonna be really weird if they try to rug-pull and be like, “Actually, that was just her viewing that person and thinking what a great friend she would be…”
VRAI: [crosstalk] No, no, no, it’s just that she’s—
TONI: “… and how amazing a model she must be.”
VRAI: [sarcastic] Toni, Toni, no, it’s because she’s jealous because of her own boobs. Don’t you see how women work? I’ve been burned many times!
TONI: I’m gonna be so mad if that happens.
TONI: But yeah. I like it. It’s fun. Production value is pretty high. Doga Kobo has not Doga Kobo’d it yet.
VRAI: Yeah, I’d cosign all that. I think it is an incredible line to walk, to really hammer home that this industry treats women and particularly young women like shit without saying that these young women we’re following are foolish or stupid for wanting to pursue these dreams. You know, it’s very couched in “Look, you need to know all of this and learn to protect yourself. But your desire to do this is still admirable and sincere.” And I don’t know, I really dig that. That is sort of what I’ve always wanted from an idol anime, is that honesty without being edgelord and shitting on these young girls, you know?
TONI: I feel the exact same way. Yeah. I think that for me… I find it intensely relatable as somebody who used to be a theater performer. And I had to stop because of all the things that the show is about. [Chuckles] Because of, you know, the industry’s inaccessibility to disabled people and objectification and forcing you to contort your body in certain ways and all the different things that the show critiques. So, I really love that. But it’s really lovely to kind of watch a character… to see a reflection of myself before I got kind of jaded! But also like, “I want to kinda protect you, Ruby! Ruby, just keep doing what you’re doing. But also…”
VRAI: “Be careful!”
TONI: I don’t think she’s entirely naive about the system.
VRAI: It is interesting that there is that cross-cultural connect, though, because there’s an interview that Akase [sic] did this week over on ANN where he talked about the fact that a lot of what he was interested in talking about [with] the Japanese entertainment industry is how much it’s about power dynamics more than anything else and the fact that there’s really no way for individual performers to advocate for themselves and it’s about company power dynamics.
TONI: Yeah, and it’s really pointed that the show is definitely not kind to its men in power. I mean, there’s occasional moments where a man in power will see a person being really talented and acquiesce to that person shining in the way that that person wants to shine, right, you know what I’m saying? But usually they are out to… It is very blanketly describing how those men objectify and traffic in and take advantage of these girls, while also not denying girls’ agency in how they respond and how they fight back, without being unrealistic. And that’s a hard line to tread.
VRAI: I am a little bit nervous that now that Aqua’s on a dating show, we are heading into, I believe, the arc that was at least somewhat inspired in response to Kimura Hana’s death. I’m a little anxious about that, but we’ll see.
PETER: Oh, yeah. I forgot. That’s one of the first things I ever heard about Oshi no Ko.
TONI: The thing is I like when the show goes really dark. I really liked the first episode, which was really grim.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It’s not that it’s dark. It’s that…
TONI: But I also don’t want it to become edgelordy.
VRAI: Well, it’s that her death is so recently in living memory. I feel like that’s a harder needle to thread than this general gestalt of issue. This was a specific and recent incident.
TONI: Yeah, it could feel a little too soon. A little too soon and a little bit too not really respecting her memory if it goes wrong.
VRAI: Yeah. We’ll see. Yeah. But yeah, on the whole, I think we’re both really, really enjoying it, and that’s another one that could easily fill an hour. We’ll see what folks are interested in! So many hours in a day.
All right, moving up to Insomniacs After School, which I am the only one who is still watching, and I am only doing it for you, folks at home. It’s not a bad show. There are still moments here and there where it comes back around to the mental health stuff, and at [those] moments it’s honestly still pretty compelling. Recently, he has to deal with this teacher who is slinging a lot of casual ableism at him, like, “Well, if you can’t sleep you should just work out during the day, and that’ll tire you out. And if you still can’t sleep then, it probably means there’s something wrong with you.”
And even though it seems like something that should obviously be wrong and he lashes out, it still manages to get in his head and just piles on this anxiety and stress about it. And she is talking about [how] part of the reason she can’t sleep is because when she lays in bed at night, her thoughts race and she has a lot of anxiety. And I really like those quiet moments where it is talking about these things in ways that feel very naturalistic. Sometimes there are cute cats. I enjoy their senpai, who I headcanon as a trans girl because I have a lot of time on my hands. Look, she wears knee socks and a choker and she works at a game arcade. I don’t know what you want from me.
But I think… The trouble is that it’s never a bad show. It looks really nice. They’re really nice kids. But there are these long stretches in between the things that make it special where it’s just going through the motions of being a grounded school anime and I’m bored, because I don’t dislike these kids but I’m not exceptionally invested in them as people just when they’re doing regular school things. So, yeah, I think for people who are especially into the genre, there is something here. It might be worth checking out. I’m personally just keeping up with it for work.
Yuri Is My Job, I have so many feelings, too many feelings about. Does one of you want to start?
TONI: I love this show so much. This is without a doubt my favorite of the season.
VRAI: I love all these girls. They’re disasters.
TONI: It’s really, really explicit. I mean, it’s not explicit in the sense that Yano is canonically autistic, but it really is about neurodivergence in the sense that these are characters who process the world incredibly differently. And both of their ways of processing the world are kind of making them dysfunctional, right? Because they’re teenagers and they’re messy! And what I really, really love about this show is just how much they realize that they have to work together and talk about things to make it better. And it’s super interesting how the yuri cafe kind of provides a space for them to work through these feelings through using these tropes.
You could write a whole thesis about this through the lens of drama therapy and how playing these roles and trying out different ways of communicating that are from the stories that we’ve been told both sometimes really work for them to help them talk through their problems and then sometimes just makes it so much worse. And I find that incredibly compelling, just watching these characters very publicly trying to work through their feelings and also put on this performance. And as somebody who does emotional labor all day for my job and is constantly surveilled and gossiped about in various quarters as a teacher (I could get into that but I don’t feel like it), I also find that really compelling in how different kinds of ways of moving through the world are just seen differently when you’re in an emotionally laborious job and how certain people are just consistently pushed out of those kinds of jobs, not because they’re not competent and not because they don’t have emotional intelligence or whatever, but because people just lack empathy for certain neurotypes, for people who are autistic, because they’ve been conditioned to!
And I think the show is doing a really good job of critiquing that, especially with the main character realizing that she has to reject that wholesale in front of everybody if she is going to actually have a relationship with this other person. And I just think that’s so beautiful! I love that so much. I guess I’m spoiling it. Did I spoil it a lot? [Chuckles]
VRAI: It’s fine. You’re fine. When we do the finale, we try to keep things broad so that we’re not heavy spoiling shit. But for the midseason, I figure it’s a little more lax on it because the show’s not over.
I love them. This series is so catnip to me specifically that I feel myself… Whenever people very reasonably [say] the show is not for them, and I understand that and I feel that and that’s fine, and I’m going to fight them. No, you’re all fine. I love you. You’re fine. But it’s fake dating plus kayfabe plus meta-satire. I don’t know what more you want!
As far as Yano being canonically autistic or not, I think it’s one of those things, right? And I mentioned this on the Witch from Mercury pod, but you have those things where, especially with neurodivergence, you have characters where you have the diagnostic terms, you have characters who are meeting a very extensive list of criteria, and this is a major factor of their character, and it seems purposefully something they’re focused around. And then you have characters, who… they have this set of traits that fit into a semi-broad cluster, maybe even accidentally, that makes for a really good headcanon, which is where Suletta lives.
And I feel like Yano is very in that— She never gets labeled autistic. She isn’t diagnosed. But I just don’t know how you could be doing anything else with her character when so much of what’s going on with her is the fact that she’s blunt, she doesn’t understand double meanings, she can’t read the room, she’s very black and white and interested in fairness. I don’t know, as somebody who wasn’t diagnosed until adulthood and especially somebody socialized feminine (not everybody likes that term; I get a lot out of it), I get so much out of Yano’s struggle to learn to mask over the years. She’s one of like three really strongly autistic-coded characters who just hits me right in the feels. I love that this series in some ways is doing kind of the same thing that Magical Revolution of the Genius Young Lady and Reincarnated Princess [sic] was doing, where you have a character who doesn’t fall within the norms of ascribed femininity and is rejected because of that, and then you have the character who fully conforms to expected feminine behavior to a T and is possibly even more miserable! I find that kind of shit so interesting.
VRAI: So fucking smart! She hasn’t really gotten a focus yet outside of being an Enta-level stalker, but the fact that Kanoko is this character who is every pining gay best friend you’ve ever read in a manga, where you want to shake her and say, “You need to get over this!”
TONI: Yes. I really want Kanoko to get more focus. I’m really curious [with] Kanoko and the gyaru, what’s gonna happen, because there’s got to be something that’s gonna happen.
VRAI: There is!
TONI: I’m very excited for it. This series feels a little bit like you took all these different archetypes that I find really interesting and really messy and just are like… it’s almost like playing with Barbie dolls and you’re just like “Now kiss!” [Chuckles] and you smash them together and then see what happens! It really is like… but with this deep psychological complexity to each of these characters. And, you know, at first I was not super convinced by the adaptation’s dialogue. The adaptation, of course, is series-composed by the same person who did the back half of Flip Flap [sic], which, you know, was like, okay, not my favorite part of Flip Flap [sic], and Citrus. So, I was nervous, and I found the dialogue at first a little bit stilted, but I feel like around episode 5 and 6 it really fell into a groove where it was like, “Now we are writing super compelling, realistic dialogue,” and it just sold me, and I was like, “Okay, this adaptation knows what it’s doing.” At around episode 5 and 6, I felt very squarely this adaptation is… it’s gonna be good.
VRAI: Yeah. I was on board even slightly earlier with 4, when they did the flashback stuff and it really nailed that, and that really set my concerns at ease. That episode’s really— If you hit episode 4 and don’t emotionally click with it, this series just isn’t for you! It’s good. We have to move on. But I’m sure we could talk about this a great deal more. I’m really looking forward to where we go from here and also slightly nervous because the emotional arc that is starting out now with Yano and Hime is still ongoing and I don’t know that there’s a good break for it. So, we’ll see! We’ll see.
TONI: I really hope they— As you were saying, I really hope it gets a second cour or a second season or something.
VRAI: I need it! Will die!
TONI: It will truly be in the Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Land of the Lustrous, Bloom Into You category if it does not get. I will be like, [Growls]. Anyways.
VRAI: Skip and Loafer is… So, it’s a really good show. But because it moves at such a sweet and fluffy, unhurried pace, what would you like to add on top of the check-in?
TONI: On top of the check-in. Well, in the check-in I talked a lot about the kind of ways that the girls’ relationship has been, in the show, prioritized more than the romantic relationship, and I found that really compelling. I’m really glad to see Mika getting more development because I think that she represented this very specific way that women internalize misogyny to this point where everything that they do becomes about conforming to societal expectations of what a sexually attractive, desirable woman is, and they then judge everybody else by that same metric because it’s like “If I have to put in the work then you should have to put in the work” kind of thing, right? She’s definitely one of those kinds of characters that I find really compelling. But it is interesting, though, that we get this flashback and then it’s revealed that she used to be fat. And it has this very explanatory nature, this explanatory power, like, “Well, she was fat and then she dieted a lot, and now she’s thin, and she has all of this…” And I think it’s realistic in the sense that oftentimes doing that kind of dieting and all that stuff is really bound up in this and can be traumatic and really harm your psyche, right? And to feel the pressure and social exclusion to the point where you change your body that much from fatphobia would…
PETER: She definitely doesn’t seem happy after that.
TONI: She does not! [Chuckles] And it’s interesting. I also think that without other fat characters, it does leave me wondering a little bit, like, is that really going to be the only engagement with fatphobia or just fat characters in general that we’re gonna get over the course of the show? But I know that’s such a minor thing, but it was something that I noticed.
VRAI: No, no, that stuck out to me, too. I have sort of a bugbear with ex-fat narratives maybe because my older brother is an ex-fat who still has a socially acceptable eating disorder where he freaks out if he eats more than a certain number of calories and has to run five miles a day or he’s unbearable to be around. And now it’s fucked up all his joints as he’s getting into his 40s. Anyway, this shit makes me angry. But when talking about narratives around fatness, I always try to be… in anime, I try to be cognizant that it’s in a different place. You know, fatphobia’s a whole different snarl in Western media, and there’s so few… We’re getting a couple more positively depicted fat characters, but I feel like this series so wants to be… It’s sincerely trying to be warm and empathetic, and it was cruel what happened to Mika, and responding to that has clearly made her unhappy and stymied her relationships with others. But yeah, at the same time, “It’s like, well, she used to be fat, so we don’t have to deal with fatness on screen now and a person being happy while fat,” you know?
TONI: Exactly, yeah.
PETER: I think she’s an interesting character for various reasons. I feel like even her interest in Shima seems more objective focused, like he’s the most popular boy and that is the reason she’s trying to attain him. But yeah, it does kinda get… I don’t know if there’s any greater plan for how her previously being fat is wrapped up in all this or it was just a component to this backstory that they’ve created for her to indicate that she’s transformed herself to a great degree. You know what I mean?
VRAI: Right, that she denies herself and that’s a key component of her character.
TONI: Yeah, and I think that on one hand, it’s realistic to have characters who never really fully grow in the way that they need to, to fully accept themselves. But I also feel like Skip and Loafer is not that show. [Chuckles] Otherwise, Skip and Loafer has been very much about characters who are trying to learn how to connect with each other in a more profound way and move past their biases and move past their social silos that confine them. That seems to be the overall theme to the show, is recognizing the ways how these ideas you internalized about yourself can harm your relationships with other people and then finding ways to actually connect by moving past those. We see that in a lot of the other characters’ arcs, and I find that really compelling and beautiful. And I just want to see that happen with Mika. I just want to see her… I feel like we’re starting to see that.
PETER: Well, yeah, she’s got that great relationship with Nao-chan developing now where Nao’s kind of become her mentor or something and Instagram friend. I think that was a really great direction to take Mika’s development.
VRAI: Feelings! Nao-chan is so good.
PETER: Since she recognizes so much of herself in Mika and kinda is just like, “I’m going to fix them.” [Laughs] Yeah. When you were talking about un-siloing yourself, I thought that was… the character who just basically said, “Yes, that is what I did,” Yuzu, I really like her for… It’s strange, because she basically just said what the concept was and that she had already accomplished it and that she was a popular kid in her other school, had realized that hanging out with popular kids, she just had to act a certain way, which didn’t feel true to herself, so she specifically changed schools so that she could seek out a friend group where she could be more genuine, and that’s why she ends up with the main cast. It’s just like, “Yes, this is the concept, and I am the first to achieve this goal.” But for some reason, I found that very, I don’t know, great about the character, that she just kind of flatly stated that that’s what she’d already done. I like her a lot.
VRAI: It’s a good show. And it’s one of those shows where the writing is so good and kind and thoughtful, you keep finding yourself reaching for more things that it can do. And that’s valid. And also then you have to balance that with just appreciating the lovely things we have at our hands.
PETER: Yeah. I hate Narumi, though.
PETER: The actor guy who keeps trying to force Shima to become an actor in the acting club or the play club or whatever that club’s called and outs him as a child actor after he explicitly said don’t do that. And I feel like he’s supposed to be a jokey, fun character, but he just seems like an asshole to me.
TONI: This show and queer characters. This show and queer characters, right? I admittedly have not watched episode 6. I wish that I had before this, because I feel like I would have a lot to say about the weird camaraderie between cis women and trans woman and trying to navigate misogyny and transmisogyny and the complexes between those two things, which sounds like that’s where the arc with Mika and Nao is going. And hearing about that makes me super fucking excited because that’s something I think about a lot. But I think that, like you said… Is his name Harumi?
PETER: Narumi, the glasses guy.
TONI: Yeah, glasses boy! At first when I watched it, I’m like, “Oh, my God, he is me! He is me!” And I’m like, “Oh, no. He is me. Oh. Oh, no. Oh, no.” [Chuckles] It’s a little bit, like, “Oh, God, this is like me through a funhouse mirror and also not super-duper developed in the ways that I wish that he was,” because a queer, genderfluid character like that could be such a compelling character if taken seriously in this kind of grounded slice-of-life comedy show, right? But—
VRAI: I mean, I’m sure that he also has a secret deep backstory. We just might not learn about it for six more volumes. But I mean, these are all not invalid things but, I think, very small things because the show is so good.
VRAI: Would you two agree?
TONI: Yeah, absolutely!
PETER: It’s literally so nice and sweet, it’s painful, almost. It’s like achingly sweet show.
TONI: Yeah. I mean, even everything I was saying about Mika and Harumi [sic] (God, I keep forgetting his name, but anyways…), I still find it compelling. I still find all of that stuff compelling. It’s just messy and I actually like mess, and I’m curious to see where the show goes with those elements. I just want it to go in a nice way. [Laughs]
PETER: I think strong feelings come from strong investment.
TONI: Exactly. I just want these kids to be okay. [Chuckles]
VRAI: Yeah, so, do give this one a watch, folks at home. We are way too fucking long. It’s fine. It’s fine. All right.
VRAI: [Sighs] All right! Well, that is our check-in on an extremely packed season. Thank you so much, AniFam, for joining us. If you liked what you heard, you can find more from the team by going to animefeminist.com, where we have articles and podcasts for your perusal. If you really liked what you heard, consider going to our Patreon or our Ko-fi. They are both /animefeminist. Patreon is where we pay for our daily costs and where we are able to pay our hardworking editors and transcribers, pay to keep this content up. And Ko-fi is where we do our aspirational goals for things like merchandise designs for our store, which we have, by the way, at animefeminist.com/store, or paying our contributors more because they all really deserve it. And every little dollar from y’all at home really helps.
You can also find us on social media. We are on Twitter, Tumblr, and Mastodon at Anime Feminist, and we are also on Instagram @anifemsite. Come find us and tell us your thoughts. What are you watching? Is there something you’re really feeling about that we sort of glanced over or didn’t have time to cover? Please do tell us. And if not, we will catch you next time, AniFam.