Chatty AF 207: 2024 Spring Mid-Season Check-In (WITH TRANSCRIPT)

By: Anime Feminist May 26, 20240 Comments

Alex, Toni, and Peter check in on a number of eyebrow-raising romances and some science fiction series with big but as-of-yet unrealized potential.

Episode Information

Date Recorded: May 24th, 2024
Hosts: Alex, Toni, Peter

Episode Breakdown

0:00:00 Intros
Red Flags
0:08:31 Mysterious Disappearances
Neutral Zone
0:11:36 Train to the End of the World
0:16:54 Tonari no Yokai-san
0:18:14 Kaiju No. 8
It’s Complicated
0:26:26 Tadaima, Okaeri
0:36:19 Spice and Wolf: MERCHANT MEETS THE WISE WOLF
0:40:34 Jellyfish Can’t Swim in the Night
Feminist Potential
0:50:39 YATAGARASU: The Raven Does Not Choose Its Master
0:53:02 Whisper Me a Love Song
0:59:06 A Condition Called Love
1:08:43 Outro

ALEX: So I want you all to know that what I say next does not reflect any sense of violence I have against real kids: I want to kick this toddler over the fence. I’m sick of this kid!


PETER: Yeah, PBS: Perfect Baby Syndrome.

[Introductory musical theme]

ALEX: Alright! Hello, everyone, and welcome to Chatty AF: The Anime Feminist Podcast. We look at Japanese pop culture through an intersectional feminist lens, and today we are turning our microscope on the spring 2024 season. I’m Alex, one of the managing editors here at AniFem. I also write fiction and write about fiction. You can find me very sporadically on Bluesky @arhenderson. And I am joined today by Toni and Peter.

TONI: Hey, everybody. I am Toni. I am a contributing editor here at Anime Feminist. You can find me on most platforms @poetpedagogue.

PETER: I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an editor here at Anime Feminist, and I am @peterfobian on Bluesky.

ALEX: Alright, so welcome to the spring season, where the train schedule is truly apocalyptic and Omega is more than just a watch brand. As always, the industry is producing an untenable amount of anime every season, so we can’t cover everything, and I’ve narrowed things down to a handful of titles, some voted by our patrons and some added to the mix that we felt like were worth digging into. If you, listener, want to help influence the rundown of these seasonal coverage episodes, you can head on over to

Also, as always, we’re using our Premiere Digest to determine the order that we talk about these shows, starting at the bottom and working our way up all the way towards Feminist Potential. The Digest categories are based on our early impressions of the shows, so they do have the potential to potentially move around during their runtime, but we’ll keep them in that original order just for clarity.

Having said that, though, we’re actually doing something a little different this time. Toni, do you want to tell us about Dededede… Oh, my God, what’s it called?

TONI: Dedede-de De-dedede? Bobobo-bo Bo-bobobo… No. No, no. Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction? Yes.

PETER: Was that a Bobobo reference?

ALEX: Yes!

TONI: Yes, it was, Peter. Yes, it is.

ALEX: [crosstalk] I think we’re just scatting at this point.

PETER: [crosstalk] Wow, love it.

ALEX: [Chuckles]

TONI: Yeah, so we’re gonna be having a premiere review of this show coming up pretty soon, but we’re waiting until Episode 1 comes out to do an official premiere review. The reason we’re doing that is that this is actually Episode 0. So, for some reason—I don’t know why—they decided to shift a side story from, I’m assuming, somewhere in the middle of the manga to the beginning. So it opens with the story of one of the characters’ dads, who is this depressed manga editor, and he’s kind of dealing with the aftermath of the invasion eight years later. And it’s a very strange way, I think, to shift things around, because I also read the opening chapter of the manga and I have to admit I like the opening chapter of the manga much, much, much more.

PETER: Same.

TONI: The manga actually opens, almost within three pages, with a panel where characters are talking about how they wonder whether everything is just conspiracy caused by the American military-industrial complex, but maybe that’s just a crazy thing. And if this show— The mangaka could not make it any more explicit that this is an allegory for the Okinawan military base that America put after World War II. There’s absolutely no way that it could make it more explicit, right? After that, it shifts into this everyday life, you know, the girls just kind of being thirsty for boys, blowing off tests, various things. And then one of the girls just says— The girls are kind of looking off in the distance and talking to each other. We don’t know what they’re looking at, and they’re talking in the most horny conversation in the universe. And then we see this thing they’re looking at—it’s a spaceship—and then it’s the title drop. 

And the contrast between the spaceship, the horny conversation, leading to a title drop, is just the most perfect way to start the series, right? Just this beautiful blend of goofy slice-of-life with something very sinister and dark going on in the background, with a critique of the American military-industrial complex. Just [Pats chest] chef’s kiss. Mwah!

This premiere, though, is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen. [Chuckles]

ALEX: Oh! Oh, no. [Chuckles]

TONI: It’s very depressing. It’s beautiful but… and it’s well done. It doesn’t quite capture to me the absolute astonishing beauty of the manga panels. My issue with it is that it introduces a whole bunch of… It’s kinda like the G-Witch prologue, only without the political intrigue of the G-Witch prologue.

PETER: That’s a good comparison, yeah.

TONI: A bunch of characters that aren’t actually going to really matter in the course of the series, right? Well, and even in the G-Witch prologue, the characters matter a little bit more than in this one, right?

PETER: Yeah. I can say, just to your earlier statement… I think I’m like seven or eight volumes in. It’s been a long time since I read it, but I have no recollection of these events at all. So I am not sure where in the manga, if it even is in the manga or somewhere else, maybe an online-only chapter, that this event occurs, so it is very out of place, yes.

TONI: It is a such a weird way to open the movie [sic]! And I know that the movie also has an anime-original ending according to Crunchyroll. So, could be anime original. Who knows? But it does leave me wondering whether— Normally I’m a huge Reiko Yoshida fan. I love her work on… Well, I like her work on A Silent Voice, but I adore her work with Heike Monogatari, where she makes very respectful additions to the source material in ways that I think add to it. But I’m concerned about whether this adaptation is going to really appreciate what makes the manga special tonally and substance-wise in its allegories about the Okinawan military base, which, as my friend who’s an Okinawan indigenous scholar has talked about, led to many women going missing, water supplies being poisoned, you know, all sorts of horrible, adverse reactions. And very similar to Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, you know, you’re expected to just have everyday life go on as usual in the midst of this ridiculous thing popping up in your backyard.

PETER: Yeah, it’s a lot of trying to live a normal life in the face of total annihilation and ennui and a lot of cynicism about whether, say, going to school has any meaning if you’re not even sure you’re gonna live long enough to have a career, that type of thing.

TONI: Yeah. Oh, oh! So relatable nowadays, honestly. [Chuckles] My kids often feel that way when I… in my teaching. Yeah, no, so, I don’t know. I feel like this is one to look out for. I think this is definitely one where… I think my feelings about the show are really going to ride on that second episode and seeing whether and how they adapt the first chapter of the manga, because they better do a good frickin’ job, because it deserves…

PETER: Yeah. I think this is Episode 0 because it is something they put out of order, and I’m hoping they just pick up at Chapter 1 on Episode 1 after that. But yeah, we’ll see.

ALEX: Mm. Okay, that sounds fascinating. Interesting. Alright, well, that has shown up a little bit out of our…

PETER: Literally yesterday. [Chuckles]

ALEX: Literally yesterday, in the middle of when everything is up to like Episode 6 and 7. So we’ll just see where that ends up and talk about it as needed on these seasonal episodes. Back to our regularly scheduled programming, though. Next, we want to talk about Mysterious Disappearances. Toni, how is this one going?

TONI: I like so much about it. I’m so happy to say all of the problems that I talked about in the premiere review are more or less gone. You know? The fanservice slowly declines over the course of the show until now it’s basically nonexistent. Sumireko, the protagonist, remains wonderful, and she’s really taking an agentic role, doing investigations, being the head of the investigations. And the irritating male co-lead gets put on a bus, which I appreciate. And he’s basically gone for this middle section of episodes.

ALEX: That’s the same thing you said about, um…

PETER: Araragi, yeah.

ALEX: Okay, that seems to be a tried-and-true method of improving shows. [Chuckles]

TONI: I’ve really loved reading Rebecca Silverman’s reviews on ANN. I would just want to shout those out because she’s really going into how it’s building on folklore traditions in a similar way to [how], say, Otherside Picnic is, and I think that it’s doing a really good job of respecting the origins and how folklore transmutes itself over time and stories combine and diffuse.

And also, it’s just got this very casual exploration of queerness that… I mean, there’s some irritating characters. There’s the bathhouse girl who has to be trying to cop a look at the boobies of the women in the bathhouse. But she fails to, and also it does not lead to any particular fanservice moments, which is astonishing because usually that sort of character is almost always the audience surrogate for weird horny bros. But other than that, I mean, the school that Oto goes to is kind of this spoof of the Maria-sama Watches Over Us school, only the girls are actually horny, which I appreciate that they are so horny, and I love that for them. They just want to know what sex is like, and especially lesbian sex. They’re lovely.

The most recent episodes have been a really interesting exploration of using ghost stories to explore social issues, which is always my favorite way for supernatural stories to use their folklore. I mean, that’s why I love Monogatari. And I really felt the most recent episodes elevated the show with their explorations of grief and social abandonment, how do people cope with that, which seems to be the theme of this show, is how do people cope with social abandonment and the different ways, I mean, lashing out, trying to change society through this punitive view of justice or forming very intimate bonds that can sustain you but aren’t quite enough, you know?

ALEX: That’s good. That’s good to know! Awesome. The next stop on our journey today, if you’ll permit a very obvious train pun, is Train to the End of the World. I am interested in this one but very behind on it. How’s it going? How’s it tracking?

PETER: Apparently I stopped just before the part that most merits discussion. I think I landed on Episode 6 or 7 with the zombies, which did include— I don’t know if this is— I see there was a note about fanservice. I know it had the thing about the zombies’ heads exploding with panties, which was a gag I didn’t really need.

ALEX: Oh. Uh… [Chuckles]

TONI: I think you’re just one episode behind, Peter. So you’ve seen the panties gag, right?

PETER: Yeah, yeah. I did appreciate when Shinonome did the lewd 18th-century poetry to get the zombies to explode. I felt like that was a much funnier…

TONI: I think it was excerpts from DH Lawrence.

PETER: But I don’t— I don’t know if that’s— Is that the fanservice that you had made the notation about?

TONI: Yeah.

PETER: The panty flashes that… Okay.

TONI: It was the panty flash, which I didn’t find particularly horrible. It was like, okay, well, it was literally less than a second and not framed in a way that’s particularly titillating. But then again, maybe I just have bad taste. And then…

PETER: I mean, it wasn’t egregious, just kind of disappointing.

TONI: Yeah, it was just kind of like, really? We didn’t need that. The thing I didn’t like with… The episode afterwards, I felt, was kind of slapdash. It was very self-indulgent and pretentious to me. Like, it was clearly trying to rewrite Alice in Wonderland using goofy anime tropes and the joke of the show that is the anime show that is clearly far too mature for its target audience. But it ended up feeling like there were things that were not deeply enough explored, like at the very beginning of the episode all the girls’ most horrifying memories… they were force-fed them Asuka-in-Evangelion-style while they were passing through a station. But that only lasts for literally ten seconds before they go right through the station. 

But then that’s brought back in the middle of the episode to give Nadeko [sic] some big, dramatic moment where she can build on the lessons she learned from that horrifying trauma and show how she’s grown from it, but it feels completely and utterly unearned. And it still is feeling a little bit like the show is giving Nadeko [sic] short shrift, and I’m kind of getting frustrated about it because I really want to see her get more development as a character.

PETER: Yeah, it does seem to really want to return things to the status quo every episode. I remember being kind of… I got kinda whiplash after the mushroom episode because Shinonome really goes through it and is subjected to some pretty traumatic terror over that course but still manages to literally save everyone’s lives, gets almost no thanks for her efforts, and then in the next episode they almost belittle her because of it, because they don’t want to switch up the relationships dynamic too early… is the only reason I could get for the back-to-the-way-things-usually-were response after all of that had happened. I felt bad for her.

TONI: Yeah, especially given that she then ends up getting almost a little bit damseled, right, with the… Though I have to admit some of those scenes of her, especially when she was fluffing up the dog and just being like, “I’m gonna call you Anthony now!” I was like, “Oh, my God, I love you!” [Chuckles] I just ate those up.

PETER: [crosstalk] She’s my favorite character.

TONI: She’s wonderful.

PETER: I think her voice work is really good, too. I think it’s… Is it Hina Kino, I think? I remember, when she screams when that dude just falls over dead, I instantly went, “Oh, that is Hinako [sic],” who is just, like, the worst character on that show [Asobi Asobase]. She is very good at screaming into a microphone.

TONI: Wait, is she the dumb one? Is she the really dumb one?

PETER: Yeah, the rich girl. I think she’s basically kind of the main one. Yeah.

TONI: Yeah. I do appreciate that energy with the show. I like the show when it lets the girls be a little bit more gremlin-like. Oh, I suppose I should mention the fanservice thing. So, the fanservice in the most recent episode… Nadeko [sic] is put… If I remember right, it’s Nadeko who’s put in multiple outfits that are quite revealing and does not seem to enjoy it and is kind of force-stripped to be put in those outfits by these pig creatures that used to be humans but… like pig people. Don’t love that!

ALEX: Alright. We will pull the train whistle and keep on going along. Next up, we have Tonari no Yōkai-san, for which we have a report from Dee. This one is just kind of nice and chill, is kind of the general consensus around this one. It’s exploring themes of tradition and modernity and found family and loss and grief and the passing of time, especially with the characters who are supernatural and immortal. And it’s doing a pretty thoughtful job of all these things. The characters are likable and fairly well-rounded, but I think it’s kind of suffering a little bit from… it’s in the same genre as things like Natsume’s Book of Friends and Eccentric Family, which are very, very good, and this one’s just fine. [Chuckles] So Dee says, “The genre and themes are solidly in my wheelhouse. It’ll expect to be one of those shows that I like well enough and then forget about soon after finishing it.” A point to mention, as well, on here is that there is a young girl with a crush on a centuries-old tengu. But there’s no indication the crush is reciprocated, so Dee hasn’t given it that much thought and much fuss. Which, you know, fair enough. We’ve all had a crush on a centuries-old tengu. That’s just like a normal adolescent thing that everybody goes through. So thank you, Dee, for those notes.

Next up, a different kind of supernatural creature. We have Kaiju No. 8, which seems to be kind of a big Shonen Jump blockbuster for the season. How is that going?

PETER: Well, I am current on the manga, so I have a bunch of… I know what’s going to happen mostly, so I’m curious what Toni’s fresh eyes have seen from the series.

TONI: Okay. I mean, I’m mostly enjoying it. I’m a bit miffed that we’re getting into kind of just regular old battle shounen territory with the most recent episode, where it’s just like, oh, there’s a big battle with a big kaiju that makes a bunch of little kaiju and then all the characters have these different… Cut away to this character fighting a kaiju; cut away to that character fighting a kaiju. And I’m just like, oh my God! Why am I watching this?

ALEX: [Chuckles]

PETER: Well, that’s basically my big complaint with this series. I think a lot of shounen MCs in particular kind of get their edges rounded off, and I really feel like that happened at high speed with Kaiju No. 8. Kafka… You know, his big things are he’s middle aged, and he is kind of used to the team because he knows much from—

TONI: [crosstalk] Not—

ALEX: [crosstalk] Middle— Sorry.

TONI: Not you calling someone 32 middle aged!

ALEX: Can I just interrupt you for a second— does he qualify as middle aged?

PETER: Everybody perceives him as middle aged in the series, is what I’m saying.

TONI: Oh, my God.

ALEX: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, certainly by the standards of…

PETER: [crosstalk] I’m older than Kafka, so I don’t share their feelings. But yeah…

ALEX: Okay. Just wanted to… [Chuckles]

PETER: They’re like, “Oh, man, you’re so old.” But his big advantages are he’s knowledgeable about kaiju because he worked a menial labor job cleaning up kaiju, which turns out to be super valuable, right, which I thought was a cool angle. Not so important, as he just becomes someone capable of punching kaiju to death. And yeah, then they kind of just— I don’t know. The fact that he’s older than everybody else kinda just becomes a running gag. So, I didn’t like that. 

Also, yeah, I feel like the whole setup of the series is they’re like soldiers fighting these giant kaiju, but that doesn’t make for a very dynamic battle so they’re almost forced into this scenario where you learn that characters are main characters because they actually don’t use a gun; they use a melee weapon because that’s more dynamic. And then, if they use a melee weapon, how do they fight a big kaiju? So most of the kaiju start being more human sized. So they’re just fighting, like, demons with melee weapons after a certain point and it takes less military working together, just people having big duel-type fights. So, it becomes very just standard battle shounen fare after that and does some other unfortunate things.

TONI: That’s really disappointing, because that’s one of the things I really liked about the first two episodes. I especially liked when Kafka turned into his kaiju form that was deeply inhuman, right? But then suddenly after that, all we ever see is the humanoid kaiju form of him, and I’m like, “Really? I liked seeing him turned into a giant, horrible monster.” That was interesting, right, to think about what would you do if you have this absolutely horrific thing that’s inside of you always trying to escape, that is part of you now. That’s interesting.

But yeah, and in terms of gender stuff, I wasn’t quite as bothered, I think, as you were, Peter, about Kikuru needing to kind of get saved during her arc, because I found it kind of intensely relatable and also it’s very heavily foregrounded that she protected all of her classmates in a really meaningful way. Oh, wait. That’s what— Wait, no, it’s what you were mentioning, Alex. That’s right. You were the one who mentioned that to me. I wasn’t just bothered as you.

ALEX: Oh, yes, yeah. So, I made a note, yeah, that when I read the first couple volumes of the manga, I was kind of annoyed that this teenage girl protégé kaiju fighter is set up as being the best ever. And I’m like, that’s pretty cool. She’s obnoxious but she’s a young woman who’s a professional at this. And then it’s like, oh, of course, she’s set up as the one to beat, basically, so Kafka has to save her. Immediately, she is knocked out of her depth and he has to save her. Which, you know, it makes sense as a stakes-establishing thing that you’re like, “Alright, here’s the best in the biz. Oh, no! Something that even they can’t deal with has happened.” And so the protagonist gets to establish their chops. Fair enough. It just… Yeah, it had that bit of a gender dynamic that annoyed me, that it was just like, “Here’s this girl. Aw! She thinks she’s hot shit but she has to just be rescued.” You know? 

There’s other female characters who… Well, actually, maybe we’ll return to this point later in the series, Peter, but I, for example, thought it was very cool that his… not mentor but his friend, who he’s aspiring to catch up with, she’s a woman. So she’s this very competent female character. I’m like, “That’s cool. I sure hope that this is not going to establish a pattern where he admires all these professional kaiju-fighting women and then he has to save them or outdo them to prove his shounen protagonist chops. I sure hope that’s not gonna happen.” I don’t know if it does, because I’m not keeping up with this one. But that feels like something that will be talked about further down the line if that is the case.

PETER: [deadpan] Certainly sounds possible, doesn’t it?

ALEX: Yeah, okay, I’m feeling very cynical about your tone. [Chuckles]

TONI: [crosstalk] Ominous.

ALEX: That’s not filling me with hope!


PETER: It also served… At least in the first case with him rescuing her, I think it was maybe more out of need to have her narratively be brought into the fold of people who knew that he was able to transform into a kaiju. So that one didn’t bother me. I read very hyper-aware of that when I’m reading any new shounen fighting series these days. It’s just something I’m very keyed in on, usually. So on that one, I kind of realized there was some utility there because they kind of needed an excuse for him to have transformed in front of her without her just instantly killing him or trying to kill him immediately. But yeah, I am kinda pretty low on the manga right now, so…

TONI: Well, at least it’s not JJK.

ALEX: Well—


ALEX: Ah, dear. Sorry, people who sincerely like shounen who listen to this show. We’re often quite— It’s often not that impressive in terms of the things that we want to talk about, both as critics through the lens that we are critics through and also just our personal taste. Maybe it’s because we’re all middle aged.


TONI: I promise there are—

PETER: Well, in that case, that could certainly be it, yeah.

TONI: I promise there are battle shounen I like! Okay, there’s one battle shounen. It’s called Chainsaw Man. But that counts!

PETER: Okay. Oh, does that count? I like a lot, then, yeah. I mean, I love some Naruto, some Hunter × Hunter, man. Love that stuff. One Piece has its positive points, but Chainsaw Man, yeah, masterpiece. Love it. The first arc only of The Promised Neverland, very good.

ALEX: Does that qualify as… Oh, I was gonna say— That is definitely a shounen. I was gonna say, does that qualify as a battle shounen? Have they got those kids out here just fighting people? Probably. [Chuckles]

PETER: Mm-hm. They’re just fighting with their brains in that series.

TONI: Well, towards the end they fight with their fists, too, so…

PETER: Oh, and guns actually.

ALEX: Unleash those kids. Let them go feral. Okay, moving to a completely different genre, Tadaima, Okaeri

TONI: [crosstalk] Speaking of feral children,

ALEX: —or, as I have been calling it…

PETER: [Chuckles]

ALEX: [Laughs] Or as I’ve been calling it, the Omegaverse domestic bliss simulator. You did the premiere review for this one, Toni, and bounced off it quite hard. Just as a quick refresher for the folks at home, can you remind us what you didn’t really like about it?

TONI: I didn’t like that the show seemed to be so interested in exploring this weird allegory for societal oppression that didn’t seem to have any actual depth to it, through the Omegaverse stuff, but then seemed completely utterly uninterested in exploring actual experiences of homosexuals except for as a domestic bliss simulator. And then also, I hated that the toddler, as Caitlin pointed out later in her three-episode review, is just so utterly perfect as to be uninteresting. And also, just nothing happens in this goddamn show. There’s no… And the characters just feel like cardboard cutouts. Any good slice-of-life slice of life show, the characters have to feel interesting. And these do not.

ALEX: Mm-hm. So, yes, all of that definitely. And as you said, as well, yeah, Caitlin gave this a very low score for toddler characterization in her professional opinion. The upshot of all of this is that now I am the one on staff watching this show and feeling very underqualified to talk about it! But by God, I’ll do my best.

Fun detour for context: Omegaverse began in English-language fanfic, often tied up with erotica, and not always but sometimes associated with werewolves. Hence, “alpha” and all that. Which, the concept of alpha wolf has been debunked long ago, but let’s not let something silly like actual science get in the way of a kink meme, right? And then here’s Tadaima Okaeri, which is an original piece of Japanese fiction that is extremely chaste and has nothing to do with werewolves—unless there’s a big twist coming in the second half, in which case, ooh, that would be exciting. [Chuckles]

But anyway, I bring this up because the genre context is always interesting, but also it kind of seems like the show is expecting the audience to know that context. It’s running on a lot of assumptions. For example, it assumes I think the toddler is cute, and I don’t. I think the toddler is incredibly annoying. [Chuckles] Same as you, Toni. But more pressingly, it’s operating on a lot of assumed knowledge and just dropping these concepts and terms without really offering any kind of explanation for them, like Alphas and Omegas and mated pairs and going into heat. And it just doesn’t tell you what these things mean, either in a showing way or a telling way.

And that raises a question for me about who this show is for. And I don’t mean that in the way of, like, “Ew, who would watch this?” I mean it like it’s clearly operating within the shared language of the subgenre and assuming the audience already speaks that language, which means that if you’re not already familiar with the tropes and the setup of an Omegaverse story, you are left very confused. But I feel like, and I am purely speculating here, that if you were big into Omegaverse, you might find this show very boring and unappealing and would be asking, why is this so weirdly sanitized? And where are the sexy bits in this set of tropes that comes from erotica and kink? The A/B/O stuff makes a really odd set dressing if the actual sexual aspect of it isn’t being addressed. Does that make sense?

And that’s important because, as you said before, Toni, the worldbuilding being so undercooked means that we end up with this really strange setup where the show realizes that it can’t just be fluffy all the time, it needs to have conflict, but doesn’t want to do anything to dark, so it gestures very vaguely in the direction of Omegas being this oppressed group that’s ostracized by society. But it never shows this on screen, so we don’t really understand why or what that means, and so your brain tries to fill in the gaps with your own knowledge of real-world marginalizations, and the whole thing starts to feel like a really uncomfortable half-baked allegory. 

Like, there’s a plotline where the Alpha husband’s family are all like… they’re all about traditional values and they don’t initially accept the marriage. So okay, it’s like, is anti-Omega sentiment like homophobia? But then again, there’s all this stuff about how people normally marry within their own type and only Alphas get to live in the nice suburbs. So, is it a class thing? Is this like a caste system, even? And then you have to ask, Omegas seem to be the ones who can get pregnant and raise children, so is anti-Omega sentiment just misogyny? In this world where men and women exist, do we also have this third group that gets all the sexism? I don’t… Like… [Chuckles] I’m doing the thing that I always do in my bad isekai reviews, where none of the characters actually hook me so I’m forced to focus too hard on the worldbuilding, and then I think too much about it, and the whole thing crumbles to dust.

TONI: I’m just gonna say, one of the things that most confuses me… it’s like, I was always under the impression that part of the entire point of it, Alpha and Omega, is that Alphas have sex with Omegas and it’s a kink BDSM power thing. So I was always confused with this whole “Alphas only date Alphas; Omegas only date Omegas or marry Omegas.” So I was like, wait, what?

ALEX: Yeah, if they gave me any worldbuilding about what any of this meant, then I would be more… not on board with it, but I would be more willing to pick up what it’s putting down. But yeah, so it’s like… I have a very cursory knowledge of these tropes, and similarly to what you did, Toni, I watched this with somebody who had more of a knowledge than me, and he was equally confused. He was like, “Well, this usually means this, but I have no idea what it means in the context of this particular world.” And so, yeah, I’m just like, okay, so what is an Alpha? How do you tell someone is an Alpha by looking at them? They mention pheromones at one point, and I’m like, “Okay. So… But you’re not… Huh?” Anyway. Yeah, we made a joke. We’re just like, well, but how do Alphas— Alphas, Omegas, they seem to be very gender essentialism/top–bottom coded, so we were like, “How does this society function? Surely two Alphas who are two tops can’t actually have sex with each other, because how would that work?” [Chuckles]

TONI: Oh, oh, Alex.

ALEX: These are real questions! These are real questions that I have!

TONI: I was literally just gonna say—

ALEX: It’s not explaining shit to me!

TONI: Like, have we seen Omega society yet? Is it just like a whole society of people just bumping purses? You know? Is it like—

ALEX: We haven’t, no. So, the main character, the wife husband—

TONI: [Chuckles]

ALEX: —who, by the way, has another baby and is pregnant, and they just skip over that completely. God. And they’re just like, “Ah! He went into heat and was kind of sick and had to take medicine for a while, and then is pregnant!” I’m like, “Wait. So did they fuck off screen? When did that happen?” Anyway, now they have an adorable annoying toddler and an adorable annoying baby also, is the upshot of all of that. And I just— [Chuckles] And I hate— I feel so mean saying this. I am not anti-baby by any means.

TONI: [Laughs]

ALEX: Babies are fine, they’re just tiny humans. They’re just doing their thing. It’s fine. So I want you all to know that what I say next does not reflect any sense of violence I have against real kids: I want to kick this toddler over the fence. I’m sick of this kid!


PETER: Yeah, PBS: Perfect Baby Syndrome.


ALEX: He’s like— Well, see, this is the question that I have. I’m like, this kid is way too smart for a two-year-old. But now I’m like, oh, is it because he’s an Alpha, and Alpha babies are super precocious? I don’t know! I don’t know anything.

PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, definitely don’t— I haven’t associated domestic bliss with anything I’ve heard about the Omegaverse, so I was very surprised by the concept behind this.

ALEX: Yeah, and… I mean, certainly for the first Omegaverse anime, it makes sense to do one that is very, for want of a better word, family friendly.

PETER: [crosstalk] [Chuckles] I don’t like the use of “the first.”


ALEX: Maybe it’ll end up being the only, but I don’t know, maybe it will hold the door open for the next one, that will actually be a bit better? I don’t know.

PETER: Double Alpha.

ALEX: [Chuckles] So, anyway, that was a long journey to say that I don’t think the show is very well put together and it is very confusing in its attempts to talk about social oppression and marginalization because, again, it’s kind of vaguely gesturing towards this idea, this quite dark idea, that, like, oh, Omegas are treated so badly in society and to be born an Omega is to just hate yourself. Like, there’s a point where someone makes a comment. They’re like, “Oh, if the baby’s an Omega, maybe it’d be better to just terminate the pregnancy, you know?” And I’m like, “Excuse me! If you’re going to just drop really severe things like that, can you give me some context if we’re going to try to talk about marginalization and prejudice?” But it’s like, “No, look at the little baby! Isn’t he cute? He’s holding a toy!” I’m like, “Get that baby out of here and explain the worldbuilding to me!” But that’s not what the show is going to do. [Chuckles] So, that’s Tadaima Okaeri.

On to something that’s actually about wolves. [Chuckles]

PETER: Alright.

ALEX: Peter, how’s Spice & Wolf? I’m going to go recover from all of that.

PETER: I’m not sure if I have too much to say. I mean, what hasn’t been said about this series already for the past 15 years? It’s much talked about, much praised. But you know, it’s always been undercut. Even though the relationship between Holo and Lawrence is very— I love a lot of their dialogue. I love the way their relationship works, where they kind of have this transactional sort of film over it, where it’s kind of precocious how whenever they mean they value the other one’s presence or trying to compliment them or something, they always kind of put it in terms of monetary exchange, how they owe each other various things for certain services rendered and all that, which is very cute, but undercut by the fact that Holo has taken the form of a 15-year-old girl and Lawrence is in his mid-20s. So, I mean, we all knew about that already pretty much unless you’re really coming into this super fresh. 

So, I mean, until— I think I’ve only watched the first five or six episodes of the original series. I don’t know how far it gets, so I don’t really even know how long this has to go before it’s breaking into new territory. I imagine that was the intention of making this anime, because they wanted to remake it and actually continue with the storylines that the other anime never got to. I’m not sure if they took any creative liberties with the original one like, say, an original Fullmetal Alchemist type thing. I feel like nothing has significantly changed enough that any prior criticisms don’t stand.

TONI: Yeah.

ALEX: Mm-hm.

TONI: Okay.

ALEX: Quick general question. Is Holo keeping her clothes on? Or is she finding more excuses to get naked every episode?

PETER: I wouldn’t say— Not every episode. It certainly starts out with him finding her in his wagon, lying naked in all the furs. I believe— She transforms into a giant wolf, which I think destroys all of her clothes in one of the more recent episodes, but I believe that she quickly finds something to cover herself with again, or he throws his coat over her really fast, something like that. So, I think outside of the first couple episodes, it doesn’t really make a great effort to find excuses to make her naked over and over again, although she is kind of flirty with him, so I wouldn’t say it goes to great lengths not to sexualize her either.

TONI: This is a very, very esoteric question, but does the economic theory feel vaguely neoliberal, lefty or like… I don’t know. Will this make me want to pull my hair out as somebody who is very interested in, say, Marxist economics? [Chuckles]

PETER: I don’t believe… I think the approach is purely from a hyper-fixative historical fascination, similar to something that you’d get out of a Kaoru Mori–type work. I think they’re just really interested in that time period and how people lived. I don’t think they have any particular opinions or want to qualify whether what they’re doing is superior or inferior to anything we’re doing today, or maybe even a knowledge of the things like Marxist theory that they might compare these economics against. They just are maybe even basing… Especially with Spice and Wolf, I think they probably are basing some of the plots off of actual things that happened, like this change in the value of certain types of currency based on the quantity of true silver that it had in it. It seems like something that actually probably happened so they’re adapting it to the narrative. So, yeah, I don’t think they’re trying to make any statements in regards to anything that happens.

TONI: Oh… okay.

ALEX: Well, back to the modern day, next we have Jellyfish Can’t Swim in the Night, which… Remember how I said earlier how things might move up and down in the Digest? This one’s sprouted a few red flags.

TONI: I despise Koharu with such a passion. She’s such a poorly written character. Well, I don’t know if she’s poorly written so much as just, like, “What the fuck is she doing in this show?” sort of thing. It was like, this sort of person definitely exists…

ALEX: Yeah, that’s a really good question.

TONI: … but she should be in more of a psychological horror show, not in this cute, fluffy show about aspiring idols.

ALEX: Yeah, so, for context, folks… Ah, I hate that I even have to say this. So, I was having a thought watching along like, “Oh, it’s kinda nice that the little bits of intrusive fanservice from the first couple episodes… they’ve really tapered off.” And then this happened, where… What are they…? Kiui and Kano are away on this training course, trying to get their motorcycle licenses, which is cool as hell. Good for them. And then there’s this… I don’t know how old she’s supposed to be, but there is this older woman there who talks about how she’s had all this plastic surgery to look the way she wants and she’s had a boob job. And one of the first things she says to Kiui, when they’re just hanging out, she’s like, “Hey, what cup size are you?” And then Kiui’s kinda like, “Weird thing to ask me,” but Kano has no problem with her. 

And the long and short of it is the three of them end up in a bathhouse hanging out, where this grown woman is like, “Hey, yeah, here are the medically enhanced boobs I have. Boing-boing! Have a look at them. Have a feel.” And they’re like, “Ooh, interesting!” And it’s fucking weird and gross! [sarcastically] It’s okay, of course, because she has a throwaway line where she’s like, “Oh, you guys are still in high school. I hope this isn’t a crime.” So, you see, they acknowledge that it’s gross and probably illegal, so it’s fine to continue with the boob joke. So out of nowhere. No idea what it adds to the story. I felt very, very uncomfortable!

TONI: It’s one of those things that makes you suddenly mistrust a show, right? It’s one of those things where you’re just like…

ALEX: Yes! Exactly.

TONI: “I don’t know if I can trust this show to handle anything anymore.” Right? This show is starting to go in interesting directions with certain darker ideas, about, like, being a hikikomori, with Kiui, right?

ALEX: Yeah, and her sort of social anxiety and bullying and things like that.

TONI: Right. And then this happens and it makes me be like, “Mm… I don’t know if I’m ready for this show to go anywhere heavy again, because they did not handle this very well, and so can I trust it very much else very well? I don’t know.”

ALEX: Well, and that’s a pain because when this show is good, when it’s playing with some of its ideas, it’s really good. It has a really sweet and sincere and, I think, very real depiction of, when you’re young, but also wherever you are throughout your life, the kind of tension between wanting to be seen and understood versus the mortifying ordeal of being known and that tension between “Everybody, look at my art!” “Oh, my God, no one look at me, though. Jesus Christ!” and the way that the content you produce and the things that you create can get tied up in your self-esteem. It does a really good job of talking through that. 

And there’s a really— You mentioned, I think, how much you liked this episode, Toni. I think it’s Episode 5 or 4 where the girls go viral, but so then Mahiru, our main artist character, starts getting all these shitty comments, people being like, “Oh, the art’s kinda crap, though. Ah, it’d be really cool if they commissioned someone else to do the art for this. It seems very amateurish.” And despite the pep talks she gets and despite trying not to internalize it, it really eats away at her in a way that I felt was very… that kind of hit hard! You know? And it depicted the impact that that might have on a young person very well.

TONI: Yeah. I—

ALEX: Also, the show’s gay.

TONI: Yes.

ALEX: [crosstalk] Kinda. [Chuckles]

TONI: It’s very, very heavily implied that the two co-leads are going to get together or are in the process of getting together. I mean, for goodness’s sake, one of them basically says, “The entire reason I got a motorcycle license is just because I imagined how wonderful it would be to ride with you behind me.”

ALEX: Yeah! And there’s a really cute bit earlier where they’re rolling around in the snow, kind of goofing around, and Kano gives Mahiru a little kiss on the cheek. And then they’re both like, “Huh? [Chuckles nervously] Wow, that was weird. [Clears throat] Never… [obscured by laughter].” So, if it didn’t have a whole fucking scene in the seventh episode with this weird age-gap flirting boob nonsense—

TONI: Predatory lesbian.

ALEX: —I would be really excited! I would be really excited for the potential of exploring queer relationships and queer identity in this show. But now, as you said, Toni, I don’t know that I can trust it to do that in a way that is not weird. Or at the very least, even if Mahiru and Kano end up having the most beautiful little sapphic romance ever, the weird predatory lesbian age-gap boob-flirting thing is still gonna be in there!

TONI: We don’t even know whether that character ends up being a larger part of the show, right? Because it seems to me that Kiui… It’s unclear— There’s multiple ways of reading Kiui’s hesitance to meet up with this person in person, right?

ALEX: Mm-hm.

TONI: Like, on one hand, you could read it as Kiui… I think we talked about this on the AniFem Discord too. You could read this as Kiui picking up on the fact that this person is not good news, right? And probably she needs to do what she needs to protect herself from her—or at the very least, that this person is coming on to her and she is not interested, right? Which is the direction I hope the show goes with her, but at the same time, I also hope that it doesn’t pursue that any further because, quite frankly, in this show I’m not that interested in watching Kiui try to fend off some predatory lesbian. That’s not what I’m interested in watching.

ALEX: Oh, yeah. Well, just my question again of “What does it add to the narrative of the show?” What does this new character do for the themes and the… Like, it feels like if they do go into that, it’s going to be piling on more than it has the time to get into in a meaningful way. And yeah, such a late addition of such a… [Babbles unintelligibly] I’m losing my thread. I’m yucked out by it, and I am worried about where it’s going to go and how it’s going to be handled. So, you just continue…

TONI: [crosstalk] It was so wild.

ALEX: … while I cringe in the corner. You please continue. [Chuckles]

TONI: Well, it was just wild that during the scene where they’re fondling this lady’s boobs, it literally blocks out the whole screen and has it censored.

ALEX: Yeah!

PETER: Oh, no.

TONI: [crosstalk] Like, presumably as a joke. And I’m just like, “Really, y’all?”

PETER: I hope that’s not for the BD release or anything.

ALEX: Oh, God, yeah.

TONI: Oh, my fucking God, I hope not. Like, please do not make this like a Redo of Healer thing or whatever, where it’s like…

PETER: Mm-hm. That was the title.

TONI: …just pleasantly— What?

PETER: That was the title, yeah.


TONI: Yeah, you know, just… The fact that they had to do that, I think, speaks volumes about how inappropriate that moment is, right? If you have to do that— Not that sex shouldn’t be shown, right? I love a good sex scene. But if you censor it because it’s obviously borderline child porno, you know, then maybe don’t include it!

ALEX: But again, it’s fine, because she has an offhand line where she’s like, “Oh, ha-ha, I hope this isn’t illegal because you’re teenagers.” And I’m like, if you have… just don’t— It’s the classic thing of just “We’re going to have this character do something heinous but we’re going to have a little jokey joke about it to show that we acknowledge it.” And it’s like, that means nothing if you just uncritically continue to do the thing. Do you know what I mean? [Chuckles]

PETER: Yes, it’s just like, “I’m aware of what I’m about to do.” And you’re like, “Okay, great. [Chuckles] So, you know that you shouldn’t be doing it then!”

ALEX: Yeah, yeah, just like someone’s just like—

TONI: [crosstalk] Don’t you get that that makes it worse?

ALEX: Yeah, yeah, yeah! Because it means you thought about it and did it anyway! [Groans]

TONI: And then Kiui— I really hope that it doesn’t become this thing where Kiui has to hang out with her because she “needs to come out of her shell and embrace life” and this person, this creep, is going to help her embrace life. That would be the worst way that the show could further Kiui’s plot and this creep.

ALEX: God. Yeah.

TONI: [crosstalk] Do we want to move on? [Chuckles]

ALEX: Yeah, so, if we keep turning Jellyfish over, we’re gonna be here all day. So, look forward to the end-of-season wrap-up about that one and seeing where the fuck that ends up going. I’m afraid. And, again, pissed off, because the parts of the show that are good are quite good. And the parts of the show [that] are bad are deplorable! So that’s going to be fun.

[Chuckles] Next, we have Yatagarasu, which I don’t have… Okay. So the reason this one is so high on the list is because I was interested in how the first episode dedicated basically all of its runtime to the female characters, who, you know, can often get lost in the shuffle in these historical political pieces about succession and assassination and the looming specter of warring and kingship, and I thought it was neat that the show chose to open and introduce itself to the world by giving a spotlight to ladies and only visiting the male characters for a small section of the episode. And then, subsequent episodes completely flipped that ratio. [Chuckles]


ALEX: Which, like… It makes the pacing odd. There’s a lot of time passing. Characters will make references to how, like, “Ah, this kid’s been working for the Crown Prince for a month now,” and I’m asking, “What have the brides been doing for that month? Surely, they’re doing something and talking to each other and progressing as characters.” It’s weird. It places them sort of in limbo until about Episode 6 and 7, where they become much more directly relevant. And… I don’t know. I feel like it’s not as if the women are badly written or the show is uninterested in them. It’s just like different priorities. And the way they’re set aside is frustrating. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Crown Prince plotline. It’s cool. There’s intrigue. There’s sword fights occasionally. But the show really hooked me with this promise of giving a perspective to the women, and so every time it gives me an episode that’s like 20 minutes of dudes and 5 minutes of ladies instead of the other way around, which is what the premiere was, I get a bit annoyed, because I feel like it set me up with the wrong expectations. You know? 

Like, all the bride candidate characters are pretty prominent in the opening and ending credits, so I do have hope that they’re going to get more time and more plot relevance. It feels like it’s setting that up. It just hasn’t quite given it to me yet. So, the short review of this one is that the midpoint, that hasn’t quite happened yet… I don’t have too much to say about them at the moment, but I have my fingers crossed that I will have more to talk about with regards to these ladies at the end-of-season wrap-up.

And from there, we may as well fly along to Whisper Me a Love Song, hopping genres again completely. You had a question about this one, Toni.

TONI: [crosstalk] I have a question for you about this.

ALEX: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TONI: Yeah. So, Vrai described Himari in their premiere review as being so completely daft and unaware of how she’s coming across that she might as well be an excitable sea cucumber who walks among us.

ALEX: [Laughs]

TONI: Has she stopped being that?

ALEX: So, I have good news on that front.

TONI: [crosstalk] Or is she still that?

ALEX: [Chuckles] So, the good news is… Yeah, so two things to talk about here from the early part of the show. It starts with this big dumb miscommunication. We have moved past that. And in fact, we’re at a whole new status quo now where not only are the girls aware of each other’s sort of romantic feelings, but Himari has an arc where she has to be self-aware and has to sort of look deep within herself and be like, “Well, hang on. What is this feeling that I am feeling for this other girl? I’ve gone on this whole thing being like, ‘Oh, it’s love at first sight,’ but is it? Hang on. What are my feelings?” 

And she does get to a point where she says, “Yes, let’s try it out. Let’s try for a real, proper romantic relationship.” Because she’s worried as well. She has this whole thing. She’s like, “Well, I think I have a crush on her, but what if we go for a relationship and it doesn’t work out? I wouldn’t want to do that to someone that I care about, especially if it’s my fault because I’m leading her in the wrong direction by not being sure of my feelings.” It’s very sincere. She works through all of that, and they do… Most recent episode, we have hit a point where they’ve said, “Yep, let’s go out together. Let’s be girlfriends and just see how that works,” which is very sweet. And so, she’s… Yeah. So, through all that process, she’s less sea cucumber–like. [Chuckles] She’s been forced to have some interiority. She’s been forced to tone it down a bit. And she comes across as a little bit less dense because we’re seeing her thinking through things. So that’s good news if that was something that annoyed you about the early episodes. I can absolutely understand why she would tick people off. I find her a bit annoying, but I also have a lot of sympathy for her because I have also been very stupid [Chuckles] in my youth (and more recently) in terms of “But what are my feelings? What’s going on?” I mean, it’s a valid question, right? 

I’m glad that this and A Condition Called Love are right next to each other in this list, because they’re kind of in conversation with each other nicely, in that they’re both shows about teenagers trying to navigate relationships and being like, “Well, what is romantic love? How do I know that I’m feeling it? How do I know that I’m not just going to make a big mess of things if I try to pursue these feelings with someone I find interesting? Can someone please, please, please give me a nice instruction manual on how to date someone without causing trouble?” And I’m like, “No. There is no instruction manual that will perfectly work. If someone says there is a perfect instruction manual, they are trying to sell you something, and don’t listen to them.” [Chuckles]

So, yeah, Whisper Me a Love Song… it’s sweet. It’s a very… We’re going to talk about Condition Called Love in a minute. This one is obviously the gayer version of those kinds of concepts, and it’s a very fluffy and sincere take on it. It’s very like, what do we do to be happy? Getting past this point of trying to narrow down a very precise definition of romantic attraction and just being like, “Do you like spending time with this person? Do you want to cook for them? Do you think about them? Does being with them make you glad to be around and alive? Does it make the world a little brighter? Just don’t overthink it and just pursue that.” And I think that’s going to be what the second half of the season is. As well as some band drama. That’s kind of exciting. We lost Girls Band Cry in the licensing shuffle, but we have at least one other show about girls in bands getting up to shenanigans. So, Whisper is giving us that, as well, so…

TONI: [crosstalk] But do they cry?

ALEX: Do they… Yeah. There’s a little bit of tears. There’s a little bit of melodrama. There’s a love triangle kind of thing happening in the background, although not really a love triangle so much as one of Yori’s friends very nobly being like, hey, and going to Himari and being like, “Hey, I’m in love with this woman. Just a heads up. And I was content to just pine silently, as many a lesbian best friend has done in the past in these various genres. But looks like we’re all lesbians in this one, so, actually, hang on. I need to talk to you about this.” I don’t know, it’s kinda sweet. She’s not presented as antagonistic or anything, but she’s very straightforward, like “Listen, I care about this girl. And if you string her along and break her heart, I’m gonna be really pissed off. So, if you’re gonna do that, maybe just don’t date her and let me date her instead.” And that lights a fire under Himari’s butt to be like, “Actually, okay, yeah, I’m gonna go for it!” And then yeah, the poor pining best friend is like, [Takes on a pained voice] “Yay! I’m so happy for you both! Oh, God damn it!” [Returns to normal voice] [Chuckles] So, that’s a very interesting dynamic. [Chuckles] That’s a very interesting dynamic that I’m gonna, yeah, enjoy watching unfold. 

So, it’s sweet, you know? The main reassurance I have about this is that it’s moving along. I think, as I said in the three-episode check-in, some shows would be content to let this miscommunication, figuring-out-your-feelings shit go on for episodes and episodes, but [Chuckles] halfway through the series, they are solidly in a relationship, everyone knows what’s going on, we’re gonna move on to what comes next. So that’s good.

So yeah, its thematic pair this season is A Condition Called Love, which you’re also caught up on, Peter. How are you feeling about this one?

PETER: At the end there, I thought you were actually describing it when you were talking about “Oh, don’t overcomplicate it. Just see how you feel. Do you want to cook stuff for them and make them happy?” And I was like, oh, that’s literally the main character in this. That’s Hotaru just trying to go like, “Do I like being in a relationship? Oh, gee, I don’t know. This stuff sure is complicated.”

ALEX: Mm-hm! Yeah. Again, we have these two shows perfectly complementing each other. [Chuckles]

PETER: Which I think is the part that I like about it. I think by necessity the show has to spend a lot of time in her head, which can kind of make it harder, I think, to appreciate someone’s personal revelations, especially when they’re intellectualizing everything so much. But I think the show finds a good balance in portraying her unawareness of her own feelings and just this very detached sort of analysis of the things that are going on with these interspersed personal revelations where she’s like, “Oh, that is how I feel, isn’t it? I actually am doing this because I’m hoping he’ll smile or something because that makes me feel good. Oh, it does make me feel good, doesn’t it?” That kind of stuff, which is cute. I definitely like that, and I’m really interested in her backstory, whatever went on with her friends in middle school that I think has kind of led her to this sort of pulling back from romantic relationships. 

But I guess the inevitable thing to talk about is Hananoi, because I was pretty surprised… To prepare for this podcast, I read Caitlin’s first-episode review. I was pretty surprised how much grace she gave Hananoi—that’s not criticism—because personally, I was kinda getting some really creepy vibes off of him. I think she was wanting to see how the narrative treated it and believed that the narrative was kind of telling you that what he’s doing is not normal, which I do mostly agree with. But also, it’s been going on for half the season now, and I’m not sure what it’s trying to tell me anymore about his inappropriate behavior.

ALEX: Yes. So, he is interesting to me. I want to give a shoutout as well to Colleen of Colleen’s Manga Recs, who ages ago did a video, an analysis/recommendation of this series, which I watched before I watched the anime and I think helped me appreciate and sort of pick up what the show is putting down, because I think if I had not had a reassurance that, “Oh, this is really thinking about, this is taking these ideas apart and putting them back together,” I would have just been yucked out by Hananoi and just bounced. Because, again, he is interesting to me. I’m not sure that I’m always enjoying the show, but I’m always fascinated by it because it is such an exploration of kids who obviously have a worldview that’s not quite right, but you don’t quite know how to unpack it because you are also a teenager. 

Again, Hotaru, really relatable on that front, of just being like, “I just want to be a good girlfriend, you know? I don’t know how to do that, and I think this is what I’m feeling,” and then occasionally her boyfriend just says, like, just some wack shit, you know, to use the professional terminology for it. Like, I’m still thinking about, for example, that bit… She mentioned… she’s like, “Do you have any friends?” And he’s like, “Well, not really, because I would really rather be dedicated to just one special person, because, you know, if a building’s on fire, wouldn’t you rather save your resources and just try to save just one person?” And she’s like…

PETER: Dude, what the fuck? [Chuckles]

ALEX: Yeah, her and me being like, “Uh… okay.” And I think, yeah, it’s doing it slowly, but it is taking us to a point where it’s kind of contextualizing and unpacking. Like, he’s obviously got some sort of abandonment thing going on where he’s like, “I have to be the absolute most all the time; otherwise people will leave me,” And he also has some sort of thing going on where he’s like… [Chuckles] Sorry, I’ve got in my head that old video that becomes a meme where the lady’s like, “I don’t need friends; they disappoint me!” and then punches the air. He’s got some sort of thing going on where he’s like, “Everybody’s gonna let you down in every kind of relationship, so you have to find your soulmate and they will never let you down. And then you’ll be all good for the rest of your life.” And I’m like, “That’s not correct, buddy! That’s not a way to live your life.” 

But both of them together are slowly discovering, yeah, oh, sometimes a relationship is just like, being happy to hang out with someone, and you don’t need to be the absolute most and you don’t need to overthink everything and you don’t need to have this be like the incredible be-all and end-all, possessive “We are the only souls for each other in the universe.” Like, she’s coming to a point where she’s realizing more how relationships should work. I’m waiting for him to have that same realization, to be a little less intense and weird about it. So I don’t know. I feel like, yeah, midpoint, we are getting there. We’re not fully there yet. But I also feel like him getting there is what the story is about, so it may not happen anytime soon.

PETER: Well, it does feel like things are gonna come to a head with this new introduction of the guy from her middle school or whatever showing up and Hananoi having an extremely jealous and possessive reaction to that dude’s presence in her life, being her coworker.

ALEX: Mm-hm. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

PETER: So, I feel like that is eventually… something’s got to break there. Even though they talked about it and he’s just like, “Yeah, I feel jealous sometimes, and I don’t want to deal with it,” I don’t feel like that’s the end of it, necessarily.

ALEX: Mm-hm, mm-hm. That could be a good instinct, yeah, because… Yeah, especially… It’s gonna be interesting. I am excited to see this man make a friend [Chuckles], because he needs to— Again, the whole burning building thing. I’m like, “Buddy! It’s not that complicated. It’s not that deep. Sometimes you just have people you like to hang out with who aren’t your girlfriend. Do you have anything in your life except for your grandma and this girl, the latest girl you’ve imprinted on like a baby duck?” [Chuckles]

PETER: By intention, I would say he does not. By effort of his own will, I would say he specifically does not want to. These kinds of shows walk a fine line. I think it is important to show how compassion and a good support structure can help people work through whatever… I mean, they both have some past trauma obviously, his obviously being more severe or at least leading towards sociopathic tendencies. But also, I think at a certain point it’s just like a character’s behavior… my only advice would be “Seek therapy,” and I feel like he’s crossed that line at some point here.

ALEX: Mm, so the short review of that one is “We’ll see.” [Chuckles]

PETER: Yep. [Chuckles] We’ll see how it goes.

ALEX: [crosstalk] Which is a lot of what it is at the midseason. [Chuckles] But, you know, I wish these kids all the best. [Chuckles]

TONI: As someone who has not watched a single episode of this, it sounds to me like this is the sort of show where your tolerance for it is really going to depend on how much you are okay with watching a show where the male lead sucks shit.

ALEX: [Chuckles]

PETER: Uh… That could— I’m not sure. I think—

ALEX: Yes. There will be an element of that.

PETER: Yeah.

ALEX: He definitely sucks less than other protagonists/love interests, and I think a big part of that is the show being self-aware, being like, “No, no, this boy is not quite right and we are going to explore that.” So he does suck, but in a way that… You know, you have plenty of shows out there where the male lead/love interest just sucks and that’s how he’s supposed to be and that’s supposed to be fine for everybody, including the audience and the love interest. So, he’s a little different there, but yeah, he can be uncomf— I get quite a visceral reaction from watching some of these scenes because I’m just like, “[Grunts uneasily] Oh, no!” But yeah, so it’s not gonna be for everybody but, again, it is very interesting, and that’s the main thing that’s got going for it for me right now.

PETER: Yeah, I would say he’s not really abusive toward her. I think the worst thing he probably said was that one line when he’s in her house and her mom’s cooking them dinner downstairs. He’s just like, “I said I’d keep my hands off,” but he kind of implies, like, “You know, in this situation, I don’t know if I can control myself.” And you’re like, “Oh, shut the hell up.”

ALEX: Yes. There are moments like that. [Chuckles]

PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But yeah, most of it is just kind of unnerving in his attitude or the way he seems to feel. So, yeah. Like, some of the stuff you could… A different framing device and maybe a different soundtrack, and this could be building up toward a horror movie–type scenario.

ALEX: [Chuckles] Yes.

PETER: But we’ll see where it goes, yeah.

ALEX: We will see where it goes. That is going to bring us to the end of proceedings for the day! We have gone through a whole list. Exciting range of genres and highs and lows as usual. Thank you so much for listening, folks.

If you like this kind of thing and you want more of us in other podcasts, in feature articles, in reviews, you can head to And I mentioned before we have a Patreon you can check out as well if you want to help us keep the lights on and, as I said before, point us in the direction of shows you want us to talk about for these seasonal check-ins.

All of our socials can be found on our Linktree, which is And we have merch. We have cute T-shirts and mugs and all that kind of fun stuff. You can find that on the store link on our website.

Thank you so much for listening. Thank you and good night. If you’re going to catch a train, be careful where it’s going because there might be zombies and/or mushrooms. Just be safe out there, everybody.

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