Fall 2017 premiere digest

Another season of premieres watched and reviewed! Now that we’ve gone through every new show, it’s time to get ’em all in one room and see how they measure.

Which shows do you review? 

We don’t review shows that are sequels, shorts, or for young children. Anything not licensed and immediately available is off the table as well (lookin’ at you, Children of the Whales and Robomasters). This left 24 eligible premieres in nine days.

A young woman lays on a bed, curled up, her arms wrapped around a body pillow with a cat face. Sunlight streams through the open window, casting her partly in light, partly in shadow.
The review team’s plans for the rest of the weekend.

How do you write the reviews?

AniFem staffers Vrai and Dee wrote the majority of the premiere reviews this season, with some much-appreciated help on the busiest days from Caitlin. We don’t always like or dislike the same shows, or to the same extent, but we respect and support one another’s positions and critiques.

Once we have more funding, we aim to set up our own version of ANN’s Preview Guide, to give our readers a range of explicitly feminist views for each premiere. We’re a long way off that funding goal, but it’s been a personal wish of ours since launch and we hope to make it happen someday.

a girl in glasses, a heavy coat and no pants holds up her hand in the middle of a banquet hall
We swear we don’t force Vrai to write about the trash. They volunteer for it.

What do your reviews focus on? 

This varies by writer to some extent (some of us are more focused on visuals, others on narrative, and so forth), but as a feminist site it’s of course essential that we raise any issues of feminist interest. When you read an AniFem review, you’re likely to learn about female character designs, queer representation, analogies to real-world marginalization, and so on. If you think we missed something, please comment under the review and let us know!

a small child leaning toward a television in awe
Watch all the things!

Rankings out, categories in!

We’re doing things a little differently this season: Instead of ranking the shows in numerical order, we’re just going to group them into categories (“feminist themes,” “harmless fun,” “yellow flags,” and so on). Shows within those categories will be marked with bullet points instead of numbers and listed in alphabetical order.

We opted to change the format for a couple reasons. One, because the numbers felt overly simplistic, more like a checklist than a nuanced exploration. Second, because at a certain point the rankings became meaningless. We were pitting shows that tackled different feminist-relevant issues against each other, as if one had to be “better” than the other instead of just “valuable in a different way,” and it was no fun. As with our season and year-end recommendations, we want the good stuff to exist side-by-side, rather than on arbitrary ladder rungs.

It’s our hope that this new format will more effectively achieve our goal: giving you, our readers, enough information so you can decide for yourselves whether or not to watch a show. There’s greater access to anime than ever before, and we want to help you find anime you can truly love, without wasting your time on a show which contains an automatic deal-breaker, be that fanservice, homophobia, the sexualization of children, and so on.

Individuals can find value in the unlikeliest of places, and we will never lead a boycott of a particular show, but we want to make it easier for you to get the most out of your limited time. In our digest, feminist merit takes precedence, with overall narrative quality coming second and personal preference a distant(ish) third. Shows containing feminist themes are at the highest end and those containing anti-feminist themes are at the lowest. We expect some disagreement and welcome debate, so if you have any objections to our lists then by all means let us know in the comments!

Two young men stand at an apartment balcony. The brunette on the right is wearing a hoodie and looking at the redhead on the left, who is holding a chubby white cat. The cat is wearing sunglasses.
Alas, none of these shows are as cool as this cat.

FALL 2017 PREMIERE DIGEST

Feminist themes

  • Ancient Magus’ Bride: Despite some concerning elements in its premiere, the series at-large is about a female protagonist recovering from child abuse, gaining confidence, and learning how to wield and exercise her own power and agency.
  • Code: Realize ~Guardians of Rebirth~: Shares a lot of similarities with Ancient Magus’ Bride in terms of feminist-relevant themes (agency and recovery for its female protagonist), but this one has a Dapper Steampunk Corgi in it.
  • Land of the Lustrous: The cast of gems is all agendered; focuses on carving an identity for oneself.
  • Recovery of an MMO Junkie: A rom-com centered around a sweet, supportive couple and starring a 30-year-old female gamer; also plays around with gender norms, albeit somewhat shallowly.

Feminist potential

  • Girls’ Last Tour: All about the relationship between two girls, but they’re a bit too cutesy to feel real.
  • Kino’s Journey -the beautiful world-: Features a non-gendered lead (though the subtitles are currently inaccurate); contemplative and interested in exploring human nature. “The world isn’t beautiful; therefore, it is.”
  • URAHARA: All-female cast and female creative team; not a lot of stakes; seems skewed for younger audiences.

Harmless fun

  • Black Clover: Screechy protagonist won’t take “no, I won’t marry you” for an answer, but otherwise a fine paint-by-numbers shounen.
  • Just Because!: Strongly introduces its female characters; unclear how much their goals will end up being about the boys they are/n’t crushing on.

Yellow flags

  • Anime-Gataris: Homeroom teacher’s an over-the-top gay stereotype, but otherwise it’s sweet in its depiction of otaku enthusiasm.
  • BLEND-S: Pokes fun at cute-girl moe archetypes; adult manager won’t stop flirting with one of his high school servers.
  • Infiniti-T Force: Only two women: the depressed heroine has potential to come into her own as the story progresses, but the other is a villain motivated by her desire to bear her boss’s child.
  • JUNI TAISEN: ZODIAC WAR: Gender-balanced cast with sexualized designs that are somewhat equal-opportunity, but the women’s outfits do tend to be more revealing than the men’s. It’s trashy and it knows it.
  • TWOCAR: Focuses on female partnerships; the camera is heavy on the boob/butt shots; both lead girls have a crush on their teacher (but he’s shipped off almost immediately).

Red flags

  • GARO -THE VANISHING LINE-: Cute meathead/kid dynamic drowned out by a framing that’s either leering or attempting to murder/assault all of the female characters.
  • Inuyashiki: An adult male power fantasy that depicts every female and teenage character as an ungrateful, selfish monster.
  • King’s Game: Begins by butchering a woman for manpain; the nasty tone never lets up and kills the fun.
  • KONOHANA KITAN: Yuri undertones marred by fanservice and a forced strip scene played for laughs.
  • My Girlfriend is a Shobitch: Cute central couple and potentially sex-positive message ruined by fetishistic, sexually harassing “comedy” side characters.
  • SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD: Features a passive female protagonist and a scene with a vampire boy that’s drenched in sexual assault metaphors.

Pit of shame

  • Dies Irae: Hey, maybe don’t depict actual, historical Nazis as cool pretty-boys?

Anime was a mistake

  • A Sister’s All You Need: Pretends it’s mocking its siscon-loving lead while playing out his fantasies for the audience in full, excruciating detail; bonus homophobia.

 

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

Dee and Vrai wrote this together! Yay teamwork! When they’re not working for AniFem or finally sleeping after nine days of endless reviews, Dee (@joseinextdoor) writes about anime and manga at The Josei Next Door and Vrai (@writervrai) writes about anime, American cartoons, and quality trash vampire fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories.

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  • GreyLurker

    UQ Holder is one I’ve enjoyed the start of. Yes it’s a sequel to Negima, so it hit’s you full force Fanservice inside of 2 minutes, after that it takes a bit of a different turn. The Fanservice moment is Vampire Eva remembering the good old days. It’s been 80 years since the 10 year old teacher had a harem all his own and Eva is now in a full grown adult, despite her Vampire loli status of the previous series. She is a school teacher and raising the Grandson of her one time 10 year old teacher. She also serves as kind of the Last Boss for any kid thinking they can leave this small town and go to the big city.

    Needless to say no kid has left this small town in a while.

    There is some action, some blood, bit of reigeous fury and secrets revealed and in the end a boy and his mentor head off on a journey.

    What I found interesting is the mother/son relationship between Yukihime (Eva’s current alias) and Tota (our main character). The two have only been together for 2 years but the relationship seems fairly storng. Tota’s clumsiness in giving giving her a gift speaks valumes. And of course it takes an extra step at the end that ties the two together a little more.

    It’s still tied to Negima so I’m sure I can expect more Fanservice (and indeed the OP pretty much promises it) but I like this character dynamic between Tota and Yukihime.

    Problematic show: Yes?
    Clearly going to be Shonen Action
    Eva (who frankly was one of my favorite characters from Negima) as a grown up and mentor to our young hero.
    Promise of Lots of different Immortals (and different forms of immortality) which is something I’ve always found interesting
    Magic is now a part of the world and available in App form

    worth at least 1 or 2 more episodes to see where it goes

  • alecksis

    This is such a great looking season and it’s so heartening that people are seeing some potential even in a red-flag show like “Shobitch.”