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.
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.
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!
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!
FALL 2017 PREMIERE DIGEST
- 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.
- 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.
- Black Clover: Screechy protagonist won’t take “no, I won’t marry you” for an answer, but otherwise a fine paint-by-numbers shounen.
- DYNAMIC CHORD: No girls, but lots of boys having feelings.
- 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.
- TsukiPro the Animation: No women and no soul under the rampant capitalism.
- 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).
- 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.
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.