Dee, Vrai, and Peter look back on a packed season with plenty of sparkling gems and solid sequels!
Date Recorded: March 29th, 2020
Hosts: Dee, Vrai, Peter
0:01:53 Uchitama?! Have you seen my Tama?
0:04:38 Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun
0:12:35 Somali and the Forest Spirit
0:17:21 BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.
0:21:56 Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story
0:37:08 If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die
0:43:21 Smile Down the Runway
0:48:58 Keep Your Hands off Eizouken!
0:55:16 The Case Files of Richard Jeweler
1:03:10 HAIKYU!! TO THE TOP
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, the managing editor at AniFem. You can find all my writings on my blog, The Josei Next Door, and you can also hang out with me on Twitter, @joseinextdoor.
And I am joined today by fellow AniFem staffers, Vrai and Peter.
VRAI: Hey! Everything is right with the world. Dee’s back in charge with the season podcasts.
DEE: Ha ha.
VRAI: ‘Sup? I’m Vrai Kaiser. I’m a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist. They/them. You can find me on Twitter, @writervrai, where I post my stuff and also tweet about Yu-Gi-Oh, or you can find the other podcast I cohost, @trashpod.
PETER: I’m Peter Fobian. I’m a producer at Crunchyroll and an editor at Anime Feminist.
DEE: Everything is pretty much definitely not right with the world. We are recording this the same day that we are publishing it, so, folks at home, also know that. But, the one thing that was right with the world is we had a really good season of anime.
So we get to talk about some good shows today, which is very exciting. We also have a lot to talk about, so we’re gonna skip the preamble, and jump over some of the shows lower in the list.
Folks who have never heard one of these before: welcome. The way we do this is we go through our premiere digest, where we loosely categorize the shows, and we just kind of work our way up from the bottom to the top.Again, we’re gonna skip a lot of those bottom shows, because most of us weren’t watching them, and we have a lot of other stuff to talk about.
I thought I was gonna come in here and say a few things about Number 24, the rugby show, but the final two episodes are delayed until April, so maybe I’ll pop in for the spring season to talk about that. So we’re actually gonna be starting with Uchitama, which… I think I’m the only person on this podcast who watched it. Is that correct?
VRAI: Yeah, I tried it out, and there was nothing wrong with it, but it just wasn’t hitting me right, so I didn’t keep up with it.
PETER: I didn’t watch it.
DEE: You didn’t watch it? Yeah. So, the first episode is not indicative of the rest of the show. The next two, I think, give you a better idea of what it is, which is a silly, kind of weird, but overall really good-hearted sketch comedy show. And the… It’s about these animals who go on adventures and get into scrapes, and sometimes the stories are extremely chill, and sometimes they’re buck-wild, and sometimes there’s musical numbers for no reason.
It’s… I ended up enjoying this one a lot. This was definitely a good season for “hang out and chill with some nice people” shows, and this was not my very favorite in that category, but it was definitely up there. It was also… It doesn’t necessarily have any heavy feminist themes to talk about. It was a nice “Harmless Fun.” It very much fits in that category—kind of series.
But a couple of things I did really like about it is: there’s one episode where they meet these cats who work at an adoption facility, and put on shows that are the equivalent of a takarazuka-style variety special, and the main cat… You never find out if they are a boy or a girl or if they’re actively neither. The characters aren’t sure, and their decision at the end is like, “Oh, well, it doesn’t matter. They’re just who they are.”
VRAI: That’s nice.
DEE: But in the course of that, Bull, the adorable himbo of the cast—who we know has a thing for cats; he has a crush on one of the main female cats, Momo—and then he falls for this other cat, this takarazuka cat. And he explicitly says he thinks this other cat is a boy, and he loves them. And I thought that was really just a very casual, quiet way of being like, “Bull’s bi.” That’s fun. [Laughs] So, he is a catsexual, I guess.
VRAI: [Laughs] He’s a good boy. This tough boy.
DEE: So it was one of those shows where it didn’t do anything, you know, outwardly progressive, but there was also never really anything in it that made me roll my eyes or groan. The girl cats… There’s only a couple of them, but they’re both great. Momo’s secretly a badass, which is super fun.
I’ve been talking about this one for too long for a “Harmless Fun” show, but I really liked it, and I would recommend people check it out if they want just a chill, silly comedy about cats and dogs getting into scrapes.
And then the next one on the list, which I think all three of us can talk about… probably one of the top shows of the season, I would say, was Toilet-bound Hanako-kun.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, Hanako-kun is definitely I’d say tied for my favorite with Eizouken.
DEE: Mm-hm. I think it was my favorite of the season. I would say Eizouken was the best of the season, but I think Hanako-kun was my favorite.
VRAI: It’s unbelievably gorgeous. What a breathtaking show, and it’s so… I love how it balances its comedy. Its characters are so endearing. It really does quiet sadness without feeling like overbearing tragedy porn. It’s just an excellent ghost story.
DEE: Yeah, it definitely has a bite to it. I appreciate that its characters are messy 9th and 10th graders. They are by no means perfect people. Some of them are actual garbage children.
DEE: [Laughs] And others are… I have adopted Kou. I’ve also adopted the garbage child. I’m blanking on his name. What’s the garbage child’s name?
VRAI: Mizuki… ?
DEE: Mitsuba! Mitsuba. Yes, thank you for the… the “M” got me there.
But it’s… yeah, it’s a really good… I’ve described it as “a supernatural shoujo wearing a supernatural shounen as a hat.” It is technically a shounen, but it has a lot of the same plot beats to it that you see in a lot of the… It kind of reminds me of a supernatural-boyfriend-style shoujo in some ways.
I like that genre in both categories. I like the “normal girl,” quote-unquote, hanging out with… getting involved in the spirit realm and trying to navigate the supernatural powers around her with what little bit of… ‘Cause obviously she’s outclassed as far as having special powers, but she finds different ways to kind of come into her own. And I like that Nene has agency throughout.
She gets rescued by Hanako a lot, but Hanako rescues Kou a lot, too. So it doesn’t feel damsel-y; it just feels like Hanako does a lot of rescuing, if that makes sense. And it’s just… The cast is very endearingly messy, which I appreciate that the characters have some sharp edges to them, and how they interact with each other and are trying to work through their various insecurities or traumas.
VRAI: I will say the one downside for me is—I like Mitsuba. He was really annoying when he first got introduced.
DEE: Oh, yeah.
VRAI: And then—
DEE: He’s intentionally grating at first.
VRAI: Uh-huh, and then they reset that when he shows back up again. So you have to deal with him being grating, twice.
DEE: [Laughs] Yeah, he’s kind of a shithead, but I like where it looks like they’re taking him. I will say this is the one series this season where it ended and I immediately got on my manga app and favorited the volume that I think I can pick up to see where the story goes from here. I am on board with Hanako-kun. Looking forward to seeing where this continues.
VRAI: Hard same. I hear that the reason the last episode feels a little weird is… I see why they picked it, ’cause it’s a nice book ending, but apparently that story came before the Mitsuba arc that they were doing.
DEE: Yeah, they shuffled the order of events around a little bit, which I think was a really good adaptation choice for a one-cour series. That point feels more like a stopping point than, I think, leaving Mitsuba in this mirror realm kind of thing.
VRAI: Yeah, it totally makes sense… but, boy, it really is a great advertisement for the manga, isn’t it?
DEE: Yeah. Andou Masaomi did a phenomenal… I mean, he’s always… He’s a good director. He just is. And you can tell he had a lot of… I think he had a little more of a free reign on this one, to kind of do his thing with it, and he did a really good job.
PETER: Wait. So, the plot arcs with Mitsuba, and the picture and then Mitsuba in the mirror realm are reversed? Is that what you’re saying?
VRAI: No, no. The last episode with the fish kingdom came before—
DEE: Yeah, the mermaid princess was supposed to come before that second round of Mitsuba and [audio cuts out] stuff, but—
PETER: [Crosstalk] That makes more sense. Yeah.
DEE: —the anime opted to flip it, because then we could kind of end on this point of Nene and Hanako kind of being like, “No, we want to be there for each other and we don’t want to cut ties with one another yet.” So, it was a good idea, I think.
VRAI: Yeah, it makes a really solid, bow ending that I approve of.
DEE: Yeah. I think my only minor criticism would be: sometimes I do think the show goes a little too hard on the… Nene’s insecurities with her body are very relatable, but I think the show harps on them more than it needs to.
DEE: So, that does irk me from time to time. Especially the episode previews that are done in manga style, which Funimation does a garbage job of actually translating.
VRAI: [Frustrated] Yup!
DEE: [Laughs] But a few of them can edge into territory of being… not fanservice-y exactly, but bawdy comedy in a way that I don’t find amusing. But it’s super minor. That would be the only teeny, tiniest of caveats. Overall, I think, the show does a really good job with the material, and, again, these very messy teenage characters dealing with supernatural happenings.
PETER: It’s like, done done, too, right? No announcement for a second season of anything like that?
DEE: Not that I’ve heard.
DEE: I don’t know how well it did. They definitely… There’s more. The manga’s ongoing. There’s definitely content, I think, for a season two. Don’t 100% quote me on that, but I think they’ve probably got enough. So, maybe everyone should go watch it.
VRAI: Yep. Yep.
DEE: ‘Cause it was great. I liked it a lot.
PETER: Yeah. Cool. Yeah, the only thing I was… I guess… Is Mitsuba dead dead? ‘Cause it seemed like in the arc before that, they… Mitsuba’s ghost was destroyed, and then they just, like, made a new one, so this new one is literally just an artificial Mitsuba.
DEE: It’s unclear, because Hanako’s twin is also kind of a liar, so he says… He basically says that they destroyed Mitsuba and he created a clone version of him.
DEE: But he has so many of the same mannerisms of the original Mitsuba that it almost feels like he just got a memory wipe. It’s not clear. Kou has decided he’s going to save him one way or the other, which is so sweet and I wish Kou nothing but the best.
VRAI: [Passionately] My heart! My boy!
DEE: Kou is probably the only character in the cast who is top-to-bottom just a sweet guy. And I… Yeah, so I hope he can protecc Mitsuba in the long run.
PETER: No garbage detected.
DEE: [Laughs] Exactly.
VRAI: He is pure and good and so he has picked the most garbage to protecc.
DEE: But yeah. I would say it’s unclear whether Mitsuba was well and truly destroyed, or if… I’m blanking on Hanako’s twin’s name, but if his twin…
VRAI: I wanna say it’s “Asame,” but I don’t think that’s right.
PETER: “Asame” does sound right. It was Tsukasa and Asame, right?
DEE: Tsukasa is Hanako’s twin brother, and Hanako’s name was “Amane.” So, you guys were close.
PETER: Ah, okay.
DEE: Amane. But, “Tsukasa,” yeah.
He… I mean, he clearly likes screwing with people, so I’d say at this point it’s a little unclear whether this is a new Mitsuba who is just gonna sort of develop the same habits of the old one, or if he would ever be able to actually regain those memories and the relationship he had with Kou. So, that’s one of the many reasons I want to read the manga and see where this one goes.
So, yeah. It’s a good supernatural show. I would definitely recommend this one. I know it’ll be on our recs list at the end of the season as well when we get that out.
Anything else we wanna say about that one, or can we move on?
VRAI: We can move on.
DEE: Okay, next up is Somali and the Forest Spirit. Peter, did you end up finishing this one?
PETER: Yeah. I got through it yesterday.
DEE: What were your thoughts on this one?
PETER: I actually thought it was a lot like… I don’t know why I was thinking of it, but No Guns Life? I think just Big Monster Dad and Small Problem Kid that Monster Dad must protect. Something like that?
DEE: [Laughs] Yeah. Yeah, the… I can see what you mean by that. The tone is very different, but that sort of same structure is definitely there.
PETER: Yeah. I think I was… I enjoyed the series. I wish it had gone a little bit harder into… I really liked that bird girl arc, and some of the earlier stuff when they were traveling around… It kind of got… It had a real Kino’s Journey-type feeling, where they were running into unique cultures. You kind of got one-to-three-episode characters that were important.
And it was kind of this really… The world was innocent-looking, but kind of had teeth beneath it? I feel like that’s when the series was at its strongest.
PETER: I mean, the cute Golem Dad stuff was alright, but I felt like the series got really good during certain arcs, and then was just kind of fun and innocent the rest of the time.
DEE: Yeah, it definitely had its sort of peaks and… I wouldn’t say that it ever had valleys, but it had episodes where you were like, “That was fine,” and then it had others that were really good.
DEE: Any time it dug into the… The episode with the witches I really liked as well, where they did the flashback to the witch encountering the humans on the island, and the show engages with prejudice in a way that I think is really… It’s really complicated, and pretty well-thought-out, I think, in terms of the way both communities sort of perpetuated these prejudices against each other. The humans came in being the racists, but they were vastly outnumbered, and now they’re the ones who are being hunted to extinction, and there’s animosity on both sides that you see during the bird girl arc especially.
And I think the way the show engages with that in its fantasy setting is well-done. I think a lot of shows really struggle with those kind of vibes, but I think this one does a good job of showing cross-community hatred over generations, and how prejudice can fester, and things like that. So, anytime it was exploring those elements, I was really locked into it.
I think it’s biggest weakness is that Somali is not really a character.
PETER: Yeah, kinda like Demon Daughter. It’s like, you’re cute—
DEE: [Crosstalk] Yeah. I never saw that one, but yeah. She is… She doesn’t really… She goes through so many traumatic situations, and then she’s just immediately Fine on the other side of them. And it feels like they’re really just… She’s more of a device that the other characters can kind of interact and react around. And everytime I thought they were gonna make her more well-rounded, they would kinda pull back.
That was my biggest gripe with the final arc, was that Somali goes through this horrifying experience, and then when it’s over she’s just cheerful and fine and normal again. I’m like, “Mm. She’s like five. She would be reacting in some way to what’s been going on around her.”
PETER: Grandma tried to eat her. Yeah, I’m gonna get over that.
DEE: Yeah, right? It was this horrifying betrayal, and then her surrogate dad goes into monster form, and there should be some kind of reaction to that and there really isn’t.
So, I think the show’s biggest weakness is it… Maybe if I went into it from day one knowing Somali is basically a device or a symbol, then it wouldn’t bother me as much. But I thought she was gonna be a character like the other characters?
So, it’s one I would recommend for sure. It’s not one of my highest recommendations, especially since it’s an incomplete story at this point… They find a solid stopping point, especially for the golem’s arc.
The golem has a really interesting character arc, I think, in terms of going against what the laws of nature have said golems are supposed to be, and realizing he has emotions and wants the same as the other characters he’s interacting with. So, there are definitely characters arcs within the story. It’s just Somali, herself, is really the cute kid that everyone else grows around, I suppose.
But yeah. It was also beautiful. So, yeah. Definitely one to check out if you like fantasy stories with a little bit… that are sweet, but with some darkness laced throughout.
DEE: I think the next one is BOFURI, unless you wanted to talk about Infinite Dendrogram at all, Peter?
PETER: I guess I can… I dropped Infinite Dendrogram, Plunderer, and Sorcerous Stabber Orphen all for basically the same reason: fantasy series where nothing is happening and I didn’t get any feeling of stakes at all.
DEE: Womp, womp.
PETER: Yeah. Yeah.
DEE: So, well done, all three of you. Then I guess BOFURI definitely is our next one.
VRAI: It’s a nice show that I liked.
DEE: Vrai, I know you finished it to completion. Peter, did you, as well?
PETER: BOFURI? No, I didn’t catch up. I plan to finish it. I just had to catch up on a lot of anime and I figured you two would like this one, so…
DEE: I feel that. Yeah, no, that was probably a good call.
Yeah, BOFURI is one that surprised me. I ended up looking forward to it every week. It was one where it’d be like… It would come out halfway through Wednesday, so I’d watch it Thursday mornings. I’d be like, “Yay, it’s BOFURI day!”
It’s just… It’s a nice show about girls playing an MMO together, and Maple’s lowkey a big weirdo, and I love that about her. She’s lowkey terrifying. She keeps developing powers that would normally be villain powers. And boy howdy, does she love to eat things.
But the fact that it’s set within an MMO makes it really fun, because she can, you know, devour other players whole, and it’s just like, “Oh well, I’ll respawn!”
VRAI: Yeah, it’s… It is kind of fascinating how technically there’s no stakes for anything that’s happening, but it still feels very fun and snappy and easy to invest in.
DEE: Well, I mean, it’s the stakes that are the stakes if you’re playing a game, right? You want to finish in the top ten. So, in that regard, I think it’s… ‘Cause there’s a lot of PVP in this they do. So, I think in that regard, it plays like a really laid-back sports anime.
DEE: Where it’s like nobody’s gonna die because they lost the tennis match or the basketball game or whatever, but you still want your team to win. You still want your team to do well. And it helps that the animation for the action sequences is really good, so even though you know nobody’s gonna die die, you still want them to win and get the prize and whatever, because they’re clearly trying so hard.
VRAI: And this one also had a second season announced right on the heels of the finale, and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m down to watch more of this.”
DEE: Yeah. I think… And this is one where, again, the only minor caveat I would give is every once in a while, the camera has an angle that’s a little bit suspect. The robot transformation scene, there was one shot that was real super zoom-in on Maple’s crotch, and I was like, “Mm, that wasn’t necessary.”
VRAI: Especially since there’s one character who has an absurd boob window and then otherwise all the designs for the female characters are cute game designs, but not really fanservice-y.
DEE: Yeah, they’re not necessarily practical warrior outfits, but they’re playing a video game, so it doesn’t matter. You know? They look like the kind of cute outfits that you would pick out if you were playing a game with your friends and wanted to look cool. So, yeah.
Again, other than a couple of camera angles that I would occasionally be like, [disapproving ] “Mmmm,” overall it’s really good about treating its characters like characters, not sexual objects or whatever.
So it’s nice. It’s cute girls doing things in a way that I think is very enjoyable for a lot of folks, so… And, again, the action sequences are actually really well-done, so there are some adventurous elements to it in addition to it being really laid-back.
VRAI: Definitely one I would recommend if you’re looking for something soothing right now, and also perfectly appropriate for a middle-school-aged audience.
DEE: Yeah, it definitely is. It’s… A lot of the shows, I think, that we’ve gone through so far, you could show to preteens, and there’s not really a lot that I would really warn them away from.
VRAI: Yeah. Hanako-kun gets into some dark shit, like implied abuse and those kinds of things, but…
DEE: Yeah, but it’s the kind of stuff that, if I was thirteen, I would have gobbled up Hanako-kun.
VRAI: Oh, for sure.
DEE: So I don’t… To me, it’s a reasonable level of darkness for a middle-grade-to-lower-high-school audience, so…
Anything else about BOFURI? Shall we move on?
DEE: I think we dropped quite a few of the ones in this category here. There were a lot of “Harmless Fun”-y type things.
VRAI: And I feel like I said kind of everything I needed to say about 22/7 in the Midseason, so…
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, I remember you talked about that one. I listened to it after the fact.
Okay, so then I guess Magia Record would be the next one, yeah?
VRAI: It sure is half of a show. [Laughs]
DEE: No, but they officially gave us a season two announcement, so we know there’s another half coming.
VRAI: It would still be half a show even if they hadn’t announced season two.
PETER: In the last episode, I was like, “Did they just forget about the girl who turned into a witch and ran away from her friends?” ‘Cause it took them so long to catch back up on that.
VRAI: [Groans] Yeah, not Rena, but the other one. Kaede.
PETER: Then, like, five episodes later, they’re just like, “Oh yeah, she’s still around.”
VRAI: Yeah. I mean, the problem… The show continues to have the same problem it’s always had, is that it has too many characters. Arguably even for a two-cour show. Although maybe it can work it out.
PETER: Yeah, and none of them are as interesting as literally any single one of the original Madoka’s characters.
VRAI: I kinda like Yachiyo. I mean, she’s kinda still Discount Homura, but I like her.
It is very odd, this show. Because it seems like it wants to be for new viewers, in that episodes ten and eleven are dedicated to going through the same revelation from the end of the original Madoka series. And then the thing that is introduced for ongoing viewers early on is like, “Hey, how come these girls can turn into witches and turn back?” The answer is just basically: a character invented a thing so they could do that. Moving on.
DEE: [Shocked] Oh! Seriously?
PETER: Yeah. She just said, “It’s my de-witch-ification technique that I made with my super brain.” [Laughs] That [unintelligible through laughter].
DEE: [Amazed] Oh my God…!
PETER: She literally calls it “de-witchifying.”
DEE: [Delighted] Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
DEE: Okay, that’s dumb enough that I’m actually on board. I circled back around to… At first I was like, “Oh, that’s stupid,” and then I’m like, “No, no no. That is stupid. Thank you.”
PETER: Wasn’t that resolved at the end of the original Madoka, though? Is this in the Rebellion world, or the actual Madoka ending? Because I thought… It’s implied that they are somewhat aware of the fact that the Kyubey are actually wanting them to transform into witches, ’cause that’s what has that release of energy, which is what Madoka fixed when she became God, right?
VRAI: Yeeah, this can’t take place in the same universe as the TV ending, because that rewrote the rules of the universe so that the monsters worked differently.
PETER: So this is Rebellion, then.
VRAI: [Mutters] Fuckin’ Rebellion. [Normal volume] I don’t know!
PETER: Yeah, I don’t even know what Rebellion undid. Would Mami still be alive if that was the case? What universe is this taking place in?!
DEE: Okay, so, based on just the little bit I’ve seen from some other folks talking about this, it is a totally other AU. This is an alternate universe, and so you don’t need to worry about the original series.
PETER: Oh, cool.
DEE: Which, I guess a bit belated, folks at home: [through laughter] spoilers for the original Madoka! It’s okay. They won’t have context for it.
VRAI: It’s a decade old now.
PETER: [Crosstalk] So this is literally a Madoka-less Madoka.
VRAI: I mean, it is, but it’s not? Because there’s so much fanservice with Mami showing up.
DEE: By “fanservice,” you don’t mean in the traditional term.
VRAI: No, sorry, I meant “fanservice” in a non-sexual sense.
PETER: [Crosstalk] Service for fans.
VRAI: Where it’s just like, “Hey, it’s that character y’all like!”
PETER: That just feels weird though, if it’s not set in the same storyline. Madoka could literally not exist in this world, which… It might still be necessary for Mami to still have her head.
VRAI: I mean, I’m not—
VRAI: I’m not mad at it. I’m not mad at that. Because I think there is so much you can do with what they’ve done with magical girls as a concept. This is doing what a lot of franchises do, where you take a very closed story and do a complete rewrite on the mythos to make it a broader cast and a more action-oriented setting.
PETER: Yeah, I guess so.
VRAI: For me, the issue is more that the show has had some really good character arc stories. I really liked some of the individual… Sana, the invisible girl arc. I thought that was really nice, Dead Lesbians aside. But it’s got the problem that it comes from a mobile game, where you can write these really nice individual character arcs, but the main plot feels like it’s puttering and going nowhere because you have to keep those main story updates going ’cause you gotta get that continual engagement.
And the first… I’ll say, they could be doing something with this, because the first half here ends with the Wings of Magia secret organization or whatever is arguing for essentially magical girl supremacy? Which is certainly a take.
VRAI: But they’re up there arguing, “Isn’t it kind of bullshit that we’re being used and trampled on?” Which is arguably the thesis of the entire first series in a way. But then you’ve got all this [quietly] very loaded [louder] lines of stormtrooper imagery.
PETER: Yeah, when she was explaining it, I was like, “Oh, so the Wings of Magia are the good guys?”
VRAI: Right. Exactly.
PETER: They’re trying to unionize magical girls.
PETER: [Laughs] So that’s actually something I was a little concerned about at the end. I was thinking… Are they going to remain the bad guys, or are we going to learn that all of this is a front for something else? Which kind of felt bad.
VRAI: Yeah, ’cause all of the very brainwash-y threatening energy is at odds with, “Yeah, it is bad that magical girls are being treated like shit and disposable objects.”
PETER: Yeah. “The Kyubeys literally want you to turn into a witch because that prevents the heat death of the universe by putting little girls up as a human sacrifice, and we’re going to not make that a thing anymore.” [Flatly] Oh, they must be stopped.
DEE: So it sounds like this could break really bad.
VRAI: It could.
DEE: Or end up doing something really interesting.
VRAI: And I guess what makes me… What I’m kind of interested with it about is some of those individual character arcs have some interesting thoughts—and also, not that it guarantees anything, but I believe the two scenario writers this time around are women.
DEE: Yeah, they are.
VRAI: That’s… I don’t know. I’m interested to see what it does.
DEE: Yeah, I fell behind at the midway point. Not because I disliked it, I just was watching a lot of other stuff. I got busy. I was traveling for a couple weekends, and then I had to catch up on things. And by the time I… As I was catching up, it was like, “Oh, now I’m two episodes behind. Oh, I’m three episodes behind. Eh, maybe I’ll just wait on it.”
So it sounds… I might catch back up for whenever season two happens. I’ll have a few weeks to think about it, and maybe by then the full dub will be out, so if I wanna watch it while I’m half-asleep, I can. [Chuckles] Which is always a nice option to have as well.
Okay, so I guess we kind of just have to put a pin in Magia Record and see how the second half turns out, since it sounds like this one doesn’t even really have a stopping point.
PETER: Whenever the second half is.
VRAI: Yeah, the rise of magical girl supremacy, and also our knockoff Madoka and Homura couple who have been separated.
DEE: Oh no!
Okay, well, I’m glad you got a season two announcement then, because this was one that I know you’ve kind of been saying all along, Vrai, that it was only one cour. It was not gonna be able to pull it all together. So, hopefully with that second cour, they’ll be able to tell the complete story and maybe do something interesting and unique with the franchise. So, definitely one to keep an eye on, I would say.
Cool. So, the next one on the list did not get a season two announcement. We’re entering our “It’s Complicated” category. This is In/Spectre. Which, Peter, I know you finished. You liked this one quite a bit, yeah?
PETER: Yeah. Before this season started, I read a lot of the manga, and I think a season two would be very weird, because after this, it kind of goes into a lot of sequel-volume mysteries. A season two would definitely be kind of a very slipshod, micro-story-per-episode series probably.
DEE: Yeah, especially if… ‘Cause it is still an ongoing… The manga’s based on light novels, I think, and the light novels aren’t out in English.
PETER: Yeah, by the guy who did Blast of Tempest, I think.
DEE: Yes, it is. That’s one of the reasons I was interested in it when it dropped. The light novels are ongoing as well, so it’s probably one of those where if it ever does get a season two, it would be… Probably they’d have to wait until they had enough content to tell a proper arc.
PETER: Yeah. I don’t think there was enough manga, at least, after the anime ended to probably make a second season, so maybe.
PETER: I really like the story though. I think that the arc becomes very Death Note-ian.
DEE: [Laughs] Uh-huh.
PETER: And the way it kind of… I think the author did a really cool thing, taking a step back and asking, “Why are mysteries interesting and why do people talk about them?” Like, “What are mysteries?” as opposed to just… And “is trying to solve them actually useful?”
I mean, you know, if you’re trying to solve a murder, that’s useful, but is giving people an answer really what they want? Or is that useful to them? I think [that] was a really interesting take on this whole huge setup they did with the existence of Steel Lady Nanase.
DEE: Yeah, there’s been a few series this season… We’ve already talked about the other two, Hanako-kun and Magia Record, that have been engaging in kind of similar things that In/Spectre was, which is this idea of bending the truth based on what people believe. Like, rumors and… especially in the form of rumors or urban legends, and how that can shape the world itself.
And so the idea of Kotoko as sort of this… I mean, her job is basically Chief Bullshit Officer, right? Every case isn’t necessarily about “I need to expose the truth to everybody.” It’s about “I need to present a truth that will be acceptable to the people who I am talking to, and then we can shape reality based on that.”
And I think that is a fascinating concept… I don’t think it’s an accident that a lot of series are engaging with that nowadays, given the internet and…
PETER: Certain presidents of the United States…
DEE: Certain, you know, certain leaders across the world… And things like that. So, yeah, I thought the central concept was really good.
I think this is one of those shows that struggled… I think probably it was an adaptation issue. It’s based on these light novels that are very talky. That is this writer’s thing.
I saw Blast of Tempest. I love Blast of Tempest. I will fight… Blast of Tempest is very divisive, and I will fight people over Blast of Tempest. But it’s another one that has these long stretches of characters basically… You think they’re gonna have this big, epic throwdown, but it focuses really more on logicking and negotiating your way out of these different situations.
And I think that, in a novel… That can be very hard to adapt, because if you’re not careful, you’re just gonna have the camera on one person’s face for five minutes. You know what I mean?
DEE: And I think Blast of Tempest had the benefit of being an adaptation by director Andou Masahiro and writer Okada Mari, so it was a very, very good adaptation of a talky series.
PETER: I think that did have more action and high-drama moments in it, too.
DEE: It did, especially in the second half. But having not read the light novel or the manga—’cause I don’t think either are available in English—I don’t know how much of that was adaptation decisions, and how much of that was built into the original story.
PETER: Yeah, true. They definitely embellished the Kuro-Nanase fight a lot.
DEE: Oh, in this anime? Yeah. So I think the anime struggled a little bit during that Steel Lady arc, partly because they wanted it to fill the full cour.
So, I really liked the concept of this series, and I would like to hang out with these characters more, because I think Kotoko and Kuro’s weird relationship of “this is what happens when two tsunderes get together” is sort of fascinating. I wouldn’t call it a relationship you should emulate, necessarily, but I think it’s interesting to explore, in fiction, how they navigate their situation with one another. And yeah.
So I really liked the concept of this one. I think the adaptation drags here and there, but it really is just gonna depend on how much you as a viewer are okay with a lot of “people sitting at a table talking to each other for most of an episode” kind of stuff.
PETER: Yeah. I personally was hoping, when I learned that the anime was coming, that they would go full Araki with it, and just have straight-up Death Note-esque scenes. ‘Cause there is a lot of that “Galaxy Brain with other people” stuff.
DEE: Yeah, and there’s a lot they could have done, especially at the end of the Steel Lady arc when Kotoko is pulling out all of her different counter-theories to try to defeat this ghost that’s been created by people’s beliefs. Which is, again, such a cool concept. There’s a lot they could have done with the animation for that, and they really didn’t. I mean, they did a little bit here and there—it’s not as bad as it could have been. But I think it’s a little more stilted than it needed to be to really pop.
So, it’s one that I… I’m hesitant… I enjoyed it. I’m glad I watched it. It’s… Again, it’s one that I wouldn’t mind getting a hold of the light novels or maybe the manga, and seeing where the story goes from here, but I’m a little bit hesitant to recommend it to people unless that kind of verbal jousting is something that they’re interested in, with the understanding that it’s not… Because it’s anime, there’s not as much…
And the characters aren’t super-duper expressive. That’s another thing. The character animation during this isn’t super-expressive. So it’s not like those really good… ‘Cause that’s something that I think a lot of HBO shows excel at, is you put two really good actors in a room and just have them act at each other. And this isn’t quite… It’s not at that level. So I think you have to really like the central concept to be able to get into this one.
So, definitely give it a try, folks at home. If you’re not feeling it about three episodes in, probably it’s just not for you, and I think that’s okay. I think it’s just one of those that’s gonna be a little polarizing.
But if you did like it, you should totally watch Blast of Tempest, because it’s great.
DEE: And I will continue to fight for it.
PETER: Also, you can read the In/Spectre manga, which is very good. I love the arcs that occurred afterward, even though they’re smaller. They kind of stick with the same themes. It’s… I really enjoy it.
DEE: Yeah, the manga for that one is out in English, so if folks enjoyed it, or if they’re curious about it in a different medium, that might be another way to check that one out as well.
[Excited] Hey, Vrai, do you wanna tell us about Budokan?
VRAI: [Wails] Yeah…
DEE: Let me just get my big old box of popcorn here, and… alright, go.
VRAI: [Softly] So they didn’t get together, but I still liked it.
VRAI: I don’t… It’s… So…
DEE: Is it based on an ongoing story, or is it complete?
VRAI: It is. It is ongoing manga.
DEE: Okay. Okay.
VRAI: So, watching this show is a little bit like… You remember when Enchanted came out, and everybody was really charmed by how tongue-in-cheek it was, even though it essentially replaced “Getting married to someone the first day you meet is dumb” with “Falling for somebody after three days is totally reasonable”?
VRAI: It’s kind of like that, where it’s not… It has these little tongue-in-cheek moments of awareness about the idol industry and popularity polls and how some of these things are kind of stressful and some of these, you know, producers have screwed over this or that character.
But it’s not really… There’s a character who… She is stressed out because there are rumors out that she is seeing somebody, and that’s potentially hurting her career. And that’s a stressful ongoing thing for her character, and other characters have sympathy for her, but nobody turns around and goes, “Hey, maybe it’s fucked up that that happens.” Nobody’s like, “Hey, the Disney Corporation is a massive company that’s buying up all of our nostalgia and maybe their monopoly is a little scary” in the Disney movie.
VRAI: So it’s not really… You shouldn’t be watching this series if you’re looking for a hardcore critique, but if you’re somebody who’s always been like, “I want to get into idol series, but I’m a little put-off by how incredibly packaged some of them feel in terms of selling that dream,” I think this one honestly does a pretty good job of being like, “Yeah, idols are good,” but also making its characters feel like human beings rather than stock archetypes.
It spends half of the show pretty evenly split between the otaku characters and the actual idol group, and you don’t see a lot of them outside of work, but they feel rounded in a way where I was honestly pretty invested in them, which ended up surprising me more than anything.
And the… Eri and Maina are the main… sort of the main couple, and they never get together. The best the show can do for an emotional high is they finally get to communicate in the fan line about how much they mean to each other in this ongoing career, and I’m like, “That’s good enough, I guess?”
DEE: It’s a start. Again, if the series is still going on, then I guess that gives them a little more leeway, ’cause, you know, if you’re writing a slow-burn romance then you have to keep that burn goin’.
VRAI: Yeah, although the series does have a problem with having to put up contrivance after contrivance to keep it as slow-burn as it is.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, that’s often the problem with those kinds of stories regardless of what the gender dynamics are.
VRAI: Yeah, and it does kind of soften the blow a little bit that two of the idols are just happily dating and occasionally we’ll cut away to something that they’re doing, and it’s very sweet.
DEE: Oh, that’s nice. That’s good.
VRAI: Their whole conflict is, “We’re in a relationship, but we’re also in this group that’s a little bit inherently competitive, and so are you holding yourself back because you don’t wanna get ahead of me and potentially have that change the dynamic and the trajectories of our career?” And that’s kind of interesting.
DEE: Yeah, so navigating being romantically involved in a workplace situation. Yeah.
VRAI: Yeah, there’s some genuinely good, subtle character writing in this show, honestly. And the thing that continues to bring it down all the way through is Motoi, who is one of… I don’t even know that he’s necessarily Eri’s friend so much as a dude that’s constantly around. And he is basically there to embody the “the idol is my wife and I’m gonna marry her someday and I feel weird and possessive every time other people say they’re fans of her,” and I hate him.
DEE: Ugh. Yeah.
VRAI: Because it’s like… It’s one of those things–
DEE: Does the series hate him?
VRAI: Well, clearly all of the characters think he’s annoying, but also he continues to be allowed to exist kind of thing… You know? Sort of like—what’s his fuck?—Mineta.
VRAI: He’s like the Mineta of this show. Nobody likes him, but also he’s still here.
DEE: Ugh. Yeah.
PETER: [Laughs] Who is inviting this guy?
DEE: Yeah, why do you keep bringing him along?
PETER: Literally who invited him?
DEE: [Laughs] Yeah, so… I mean, it sounds like it could be a worthwhile series. It’s a bummer that it ends in the middle of things, but we’re pretty used to that with anime. So, maybe something, like you said, worth it for folks who are interested in that genre or yuri-lite—I guess?—type of series.
VRAI: Very light yuri. Yeah.
DEE: Yeah, so that’s good. I’m glad you mostly enjoyed it, even if it was a bit of a rollercoaster for you.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, there are papers to be written. Not by me, because I don’t wanna deal with that.
DEE: No, no, no. That’s totally fair. I appreciate shows that, even if they’re not calling explicitly for revolution, if they’re sympathizing and humanizing with the characters over these unfair rules, I think that is a subtle way to critique something. So, I mean, I’m glad that that’s in the show at least, you know, to say, “Hey, you should maybe sympathize with these characters who are being forced into these shitty situations.” So…
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah.
DEE: So that’s… Yeah. Probably not one I will personally check out but, listeners at home, if that sounds like something you’d be into, it sounds like it would perhaps be worth your time.
Okay. So the next one on the list is Smile Down the Runway. Am I the only one who finished this, or, Peter, did you get through it as well?
PETER: I dropped it.
DEE: Oh okay. I actually ended up really liking this one. It has… The first few episodes are, I think, its roughest material. I think it’s still kind of figuring out what it wants to do in the early going, and it really wants to lean hard on, “Chiyuki is short, but she’s such a good model and it’s so inspiring to see short people onstage!” when she is the average height of women in Japan.
So she’s not even that short. She’s just short for a model. So I think it has kind of an inherently problematic premise in that sense. We’ve talked about that before, so I’m not gonna go off on it for that.
It ends up leaning more into Ikuto, the male character’s story, as an aspiring designer, as it continues. And we still check in on Chiyuki and she still has character beats and these little trials that she has to go through. So it is a dual story, but I think Ikuto is the stealth main-main character.
And he… The series… There’s one episode that’s really very powerful, where he’s having to figure out… His mom’s getting ready to get out of the hospital after a surgery that she needed to have that she’d kind of been putting off—and the healthcare system in Japan is much better than the healthcare system here in the US, as far as affordability, but they still don’t pay for everything, it turns out.
And their family has no money. So they’re having to figure out how they’re going to pay her bills when she gets out of the hospital, and Ikuto’s talking about maybe having to completely quit the industry because he needs to work all these part-time jobs, and he’s just getting started in designing and working in this big competition that this local design school does.
And the series hits a lot of those beats, and the way other characters kind of try to exploit him for that, like, “Oh, well, I’ll take care of your financial situation if you do this or that for me.” Things that he doesn’t necessarily wanna do to curtail his career or force somebody else who…
There’s another character who becomes kind of a third main character, Kyoko, who is a model, but wants to be a designer, and is kind of having to fight with her agent about the fact that she doesn’t actually like modeling even though she’s good at it. And so the arcs with them and her having to kind of prove herself…
And while the show absolutely needs to include— If they’re gonna have a conversation about diverse body types and making clothes for the average person kind of thing, it would behoove them, perhaps, to have more characters who are not conventionally attractive and skinny.
But one thing that it kind of ended up doing that I found sort of interesting—perhaps accidentally—was… Kyoko is the other model I mentioned who doesn’t particularly like modeling, but the one thing about it is she was really touched when she first started because she was like, “I always hated how much taller I was than everyone else, but here in this one field, that was considered an asset, whereas before I used to get teased about it.” And then you have the short news reporter, journalist, who never felt like she could wear clothes because she felt like she was too short to wear the really popular fashions.
Again, I don’t know if it’s doing this intentionally or not, but it does end up stumbling its way into a commentary about how beauty standards are so impossible across the board that nobody feels comfortable in their own skin. [Laughs] So, you have these conventional… You have Chiyuki, who feels bad because she’s short. You have Kyoko, who feels bad because she’s too tall.
And so I think that… The manga’s ongoing. The anime sort of finds a stopping place, but it’s not terribly… It’s not super-duper satisfying. It really is an advertisement for the manga. If the manga continues to push on that in other directions, I think it could be an interesting story. I think it could do some really good stuff.
But I still ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The second half, they get into this… They have this big contest and it rotates between Chiyuki and Kyoko, and Ikuto’s separate goals for what they wanna prove to the designers who are judging the contest, and yeah. I ended up liking it a lot.
It’s one that’s hard to recommend just because, again, it doesn’t really have an ending. But I think it is worth your time, yeah. I think if you can get over the first couple episodes, if you can get past the fact that it’s, you know, trying to tell this story about “This person who’s beating the odds because she’s a little bit shorter than an average model,” then I think it can be… It’s a very satisfying story. Especially because Ikuto’s arc is genuinely moving. The story with his family and him trying to follow his dream.
So, yeah. I ended up enjoying it.
DEE: Yeah, I don’t know if we’ll ever see the manga stateside or not, but it’s one that I’d probably take a peek at if I could, just to see what they do with some of the things they kind of touched on, and some of the ideas swirling around in it. So I think its heart is in the right place so far, just based on what I’ve seen in the anime, which is good.
Okay, next on the list is one that I think everybody on AniTwitter, at least, was watching, and that is: Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! Do we have anything else—
VRAI: [Crosstalk] Do we have anything else to say about Eizouken that other people haven’t already said?
DEE: Right? It good. [Laughs]
VRAI: It good.
PETER: Anime of the year.
VRAI: It’s really fucking good.
VRAI: Alright. That’s it. Movin’ on.
PETER: Yeah. I liked it. [Mutters unintelligibly]
DEE: [Laughs] Yeah, I’m not sure if I really have anything to add. I think… So I wasn’t here for the midseason. My one concern at about the midway point was I was worried that the story was… It was doing some really… It was a really wonderful love letter to animation, but it didn’t feel like it was spending a lot of time with its characters, because it was so focused on the club activities and what they were creating.
So I really appreciated that the second half in particular, you have some episodes that kind of go into the character’s childhoods, and how they met each other… Like, how Asakusa and Kanamori met each other. Kanamori’s background with her family’s little local convenience store.
I think that did some really good work to elevate this for me, because I was enjoying it, but I didn’t feel like… I need that kind of character-driven aspect. So if there is anyone at home who was mildly put-off by that, be aware that the series does a really good job in the second half of fleshing out the cast, and making them well-rounded characters, I think, by the end of it. I really enjoyed watching them and would happily watch a season two if we ever got one.
VRAI: Yeah, I know a lot of people were immediately like, “Season two!” and I’m like… I’d watch it happily, but I’m not sure it needs it.” You know? ‘Cause I feel like there’s that sentiment that Asakusa has that’s, you know, “there’s always more to do.”
VRAI: But the show ends with them reaching this very potent creative understanding when they have to rework the short that’s really beautiful and such a great note to end on.
DEE: I think, as a single-cour series, it has a satisfying finale. I don’t think it’s… There’s other shows on this list where we’ve been like, “Well, it could really use a season two so you could find out more about the characters and the story and everything.” This one feels complete. It’s one that could keep going, but definitely doesn’t have to.
So you could go into this, and you’ll get a good, satisfying story about these three girls coming together to make art.
VRAI: I love them and I’m gonna miss them and it’s good. It’s really good.
PETER: I think Kanamori is a triumph of writing. I have never seen somebody so perfectly portray what it is a producer does.
PETER: It’s just this mystery job that nobody knows how it works in anime, even people who work in the industry, unless you literally directly work with producers.
PETER: Now you see what Kanamori does and you see the value of producers and you’re like, “Oh God, this job is essential.” And also the fact that Kanamori comes off as a very sympathetic and necessary part of the creative process rather than just some asshole who’s always trying to step on their dreams with practicality and stuff like that.
DEE: Yeah, I was worried at first she was gonna kind of be almost like a buzzkill-type character, but she ends up being integral. She goes out of her way. She fights for Asakusa and—Mizusaki? Mizusaki, yeah.
PETER: Yeah. Like, actually an inspiring character. When all they’re doing is pulling people back to earth and stuff, yeah.
DEE: She genuinely is. And I like that the series, in a sort of subtle sideways way, fights for better working conditions for animators, and, “no, we deserve to be paid fairly for our work,” and things like that. Kanamori yells at them about sleeping, which is good.
PETER: Yeah. I do like how it shows how hard the job is, and how unfair the conditions are as well. It didn’t need to do that, but it definitely did more than some other series which focused on anime creation.
DEE: I also liked… I’ll just make a real small point of this, ’cause we do kinda need to be wrapping up and getting into the tail-end here and I don’t think we have a ton more to say about Eizouken other than: it good.
I like the background diversity of the cast. I like that the few members… The few characters… I shouldn’t say “characters of color” because Japanese people are also people of color. Black and brown characters. We’ll put it like that. [They] are sympathetic. They end up being sympathetic characters. ‘Cause I was really worried… The most aggressive member of the StuCo is a brown girl.
DEE: And I was… It felt like they were setting her up to be the Big Bad for a few episodes. But then she ends up lowkey kind of supporting them and giving them heads’ up about what the StuCo is up to. She has… There’s that one episode where she kind of tags along to see what they’re up to, and she clearly respects Kanamori a lot. And I really appreciate that about her.
So if there was more to the series, I think expanding the cast would be a really good way to do that, because there’s definitely glimmers in the supporting characters that there’s a lot more you could go into with them. But yeah. I appreciated that kind of causal diversity of the story as well.
VRAI: Yeah. That would be at the top of my wishlist for season two is I wanna watch Sowande and Kanamori clash some more, because they’ve got such a “Everyone else is an annoying idiot, you’re the only one who’s playing on my level” thing going on, which I’m into.
DEE: Yes! Yes, they really do. It’s a respected rivalry bond that I ended up really enjoying by the end of it. So, yeah. I appreciated that aspect to it.
PETER: More about the sound designer, too. ‘Cause I feel like he’s just a member of the club now, but I think was introduced too late to get their own background episode where you fall in love with him, like you do with Misuzaki and Kanamori.
DEE: Yeah, his own arc. Yeah. So there’s definitely things they can do with it, but overall it’s a really, really good single-series show, if that is what it ends up being. So, happy to have it. Definitely a recommendation.
Vrai, would you like to tell us about Richard Jeweler, or as we’ve been calling it around the office, “The Adventures of Dick and Justice?”
VRAI: Please start asking Seven Seas to bring over the light novels.
DEE: Oh okay. That’s a recommendation right there.
PETER: That sounds like an endorsement.
VRAI: Well, I just… I don’t know if it’s just the fact that the world is on fire now, but I came back to this after kind of unofficially dropping it. I came back to it for the podcast after everything was awful, and it clicked with me a lot better than it had been before.
The middle stretch is this extremely soothing watch that I would end up enjoying a lot. It does a lot better job of starting to establish the recurring cast. And it continues to be a series that has its heart in the right place, if a little bit on-the-nosedly, I suppose, about wanting to introduce these issues about social issues, class consideration, gender inequality, and marginalized groups.
DEE: Yeah, it… That was definitely the vibe I got from it. I watched the first three episodes, and I just… tone and pacing-wise, I couldn’t really get into it, but I deeply appreciated what it was doing as far as its different storylines and things.
VRAI: The back half kind of ends up being more about Richard and Seigi’s relationship, which is where… Grain of salt with these things, because the light novels haven’t been officially translated, but I sort of ended up talking with some of the light novel fans on Twitter, and it sounds like the anime isn’t the best representation of what the light novels do well.
I know for example that a lot of folks piped up and said, including in the comments, that the light novels of the second episode with the closeted woman, did a lot more stuff where you spent more time with her, and you got to hear from the woman who had been her partner and spent more time fleshing that character out.
So I think there’s a lot of stuff like that, and I know folks were telling me that… So there’s this whole thing where Seigi has to go to England to help Richard with drama about his family inheritance, and they almost get married. And they exchange gems at the end.
VRAI: And somehow they don’t kiss.
DEE: Damn. Alright. Oh no, no, we never get the kiss, right?
VRAI: Yeah. Well… The weird thing about that arc is that it includes this, in the anime, very out-of-nowhere-seeming scene where all of a sudden, Richard’s like, “And by the way, I’ve never had a male lover!” And you’re like, “Alright. Bye.”
And it’s very… It’s predicated on Seigi misunderstanding, “Oh, so you broke up with your boyfriend and ran away to your family.” Which doesn’t make any sense because in the anime, they pretty clearly gendered this ex that he had as a woman visually and in language. And I guess some folks were talking about, well, in the light novel, these lines are written more as like him starting to say, “I’m not gay… Well, actually, I don’t know if I wanna say that. I’ve never had a male partner.”
DEE: Oh, okay.
VRAI: And things like…
DEE: So there’s more wiggle-room there.
VRAI: Yeah, and things like getting rid of a kiss during that emotional exchanging of important gemstones kind of thing… I don’t know. I guess the series is ongoing, but there seems to be more wiggle-room as to, “Might these characters end up getting together at the end?” Because it’s a series talking about progressive themes so much throughout.
DEE: Yeah, it seems more likely, I’d say. For sure.
VRAI: The anime just kind of ends. Its last episode is actually pretty impressive, ’cause it decides to end on this episode of Seigi’s abusive father coming back, and him dealing with shutting out all the people in his life, because his birth father is stalking him, and he doesn’t want this guy to contact anybody else in his life, and also he’s afraid of this feeling… “I want to hurt this guy. Does that mean I’m turning out just like him?” And it’s surprisingly deftly-handled.
DEE: That’s really good. Yeah, I mean, I would say the show typically tackled its more difficult issues very well, so I’m glad to hear that continued throughout.
VRAI: Yeah. But also the animation’s kinda stiff.
DEE: Yeah. It is.
VRAI: There’s not a lot to recommend in the anime, you know? Besides “it’s kind of a nice experience that just stops when it’s over. And it made me want to read the light novels.”
VRAI: So, please, everyone, start requesting those for me. [Cracking up] Do it for me.
DEE: [Laughs] Folks at home, Seven Seas has a survey every month. You, too, can help Vrai get The Adventures of Dick and Justice. But it’s called Richard Jeweler.
DEE: The official title is Richard Jeweler! [Through laughter] If you put “The Adventures of Dick and Justice,” Seven Seas will be very confused.
VRAI: The Case Studies of Jeweler Richard. I’m here for it.
DEE: There it is. There’s the official title for ya.
Okay, well, we have, of course, gone over time, despite our best efforts. And we haven’t even talked about sequels yet. And I kinda want to talk about sequels, so we’ll try to do this quickly.
I want to say that everybody should be watching Chihayafuru. I will continue to say that until the heat death of the universe, at this rate.
VRAI: It’s on the list! I promise I’m gonna get to it one day!
DEE: So, we finally got the show back after, like, eight years. And it was wonderful. And it was like it never left.
And this season did a really nice job of focusing on… We have an article on the site that folks should check out. We can link it to you in the post as well. This season really focused on the older generation, and having to play this sport even when maybe you’re not as fast or your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, and how you make those adjustments and continue to be competitive, and I really appreciated that.
One of the focal side characters in this season is a woman who has had a couple of children, and is in the midst of nursing one of them, and is doing karuta matches in between nursing her baby. And it does a really good job of sympathizing with her, but also… It grapples with her feeling like she’s failing her family by pursuing this dream, but then the show very overtly says, “No, you can do both of these things. You can juggle this. Your family is understanding and you don’t need to feel bad about it.” So I really, really appreciated that arc in particular.
Some shit went down at the end. I dearly, dearly hope we get a season four. I’ll be shocked if we don’t at this rate. They brought it back after eight years. The manga is reportedly winding down and getting really close to an ending, so I imagine we’re eventually gonna get the whole thing animated at this point. So, folks should catch up, and then when season four comes out, we can all get real emotional about it together, as we watch these karuta fools continue their journey.
It’s great. It’s such a perfect blend of exciting sports-type action and character arcs, and I love it. It’s great.
Speaking of sports series that are great, Haikyuu was this season. I think most folks at home have either heard of this one or are already watching it. It’s the volleyball dorks. Peter, you and I are both really into this one, I think?
PETER: Yeah. Yep.
DEE: Yeah. So, also: Haikyuu. Check it out.
There’s not much in the way of female characters, but there’s also not much in the way of treating the female characters poorly. Generally speaking, they’ve given them some decent character beats throughout that I appreciate. Every once in a while, there’s some goofy quasi-fanservice, but it’s really low-key. It is by far my favorite JUMP series and the adaptation is gorgeous, so… Anything else you wanna add about that one, Peter?
PETER: I think you pretty much got it. Haikyuu‘s good. Yeah. You should watch it.
DEE: Sorry for just, like, monopolizing and blazing through, but…
PETER: Yeah, it’s gonna… I think it’s on a break for spring, but it’s gonna come back in summer, and I think Karasuno’s next match is my favorite of the manga I’ve read so far.
DEE: Oh, that’s exciting.
DEE: That’s good to look forward to.
PETER: Also, it has a big moment for a female character, so…
DEE: Yeah, I noticed they’ve been kind of working in some other volleyball player female characters going forward, so I’m kind of curious to see what they do with that. That’s been nice to see.
PETER: Oh yeah. Tanaka’s love interest.
DEE: Yeah. She’s… I like that her team is hardcore, really-talented volleyball on the women’s side, because we haven’t had much of that. It’s good to have that in the background at least, even if they’re not focal characters.
PETER: [Crosstalk] Oh yeah, they have a better record than Karasuno or something like that. So that’s pretty funny.
DEE: Yeah, I think they’re like the number one seed or something. They’re in a better hotel, and they were kinda joking about it.
PETER: Yeah. The preview for the next episode is her backstory with Tanaka, right? It had Tanaka as a kid.
PETER: Oh, that’s good. Lots to look forward to.
DEE: Yeah, I guess there’s technically one more episode this cour, so this one’s not officially done.
PETER: I think so. I think it’s gonna be 13 and then they go on break. But hard to tell.
DEE: Yeah, I wasn’t super clear about that either. Either way, when there’s more episodes, I will watch them. Haikyuu is great.
The only other one I wanted to touch on… And, again, I’m annoyed that we really don’t have time to get into it, but I have been very pleasantly surprised by Radiant—and it never fails that when I find a shounen action-adventure series that I like, [cracking up] nobody else is watching it. Peter, you like that one as well, right?
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love Radiant. It’s very good.
DEE: Yeah. The second season definitely had some animation hiccups in the back-half that were distracting at points, but I really, really like what the story is doing. I think it’s… I want other shounen to look at Radiant and see the way it handled the climax for season two as far as: this is the kind of shit I want other big-name shounen series to be doing.
Because there are functionally three main characters by the final arc. I guess four if… You can count Doc as a main character as well. And the final big climax gives every single one of them something important to do, on their own.
Seth is still the main character and still kind of has the big climax. Which is fine. Lots of shows have a protagonist who has the big moment. But everyone else contributes and helps in some way. They’re not completely sidelined or turned into damsels or… “Ochahco” is so, so, so good. Did I say her name right? “Oh-ka-ho?”
PETER: I dunno… I think it’s… I actually don’t know. They say “Oh-ka-ho,” I think, but isn’t it… ?
DEE: It’s “Oh-ka-ho.”
PETER: Yeah, yeah.
DEE: No, I just said it funny.
PETER: Maybe that’s how it’s written ’cause it’s originally in French, right? So maybe that’s how it’s pronounced in French… Spelled in French, but pronounced in Japanese? And then localized? Yeah, it’s…
DEE: I have no idea, but it’s… Yeah, Ocaho is what they call her in the show, yeah. She is a character of color. She has a really good arc throughout the second half about exercising her own agency and coming into her own as a knight.
And it does some really good stuff with flipping your expectations about characters who you’re like, “Oh, this character seems like they’re a villain,” and then they’re not actually a villain. Because they’re very explicitly playing with the idea of the Evil Sexy Woman.
And I think Radiant is very smart. I think it can be a little on-the-nose with its anti-prejudice rhetoric, but I also think that being a little on-the-nose in a young adult series about something like that is totally okay.
Radiant is a big rec for me, I think. Animation hiccups aside, it’s one that I would love other people to check out if you like Shounen Jump series. It’s like that. It is a Jump-style adventure story and more people should be watching it, ’cause it’s legit. It’s good.
PETER: [Whispering] Please watch Black Clover, Dee.
DEE: [Laughs] I’ve tried, Peter! I tried. But there’s just so much yelling.
PETER: Read the manga, Dee.
DEE: And there’s fanservice in the early episodes that kinda put me off, so… [Reluctantly] I might keep trying. I… Yeah, we’ll see.
Peter, did you wanna talk about any other sequels, carryovers? We’re already over time, so if there’s anything else you wanna say, go for it.
DEE: I’ve been monologuing for a while.
PETER: You pretty much got it. Iruma-kun ended. It was good and you should watch it. But that’s pretty much all I wanna say.
DEE: Okay, good to know.
Any other final thoughts? Comments? Good jokes, bad jokes, from y’all, or should I wrap us up?
VRAI: Nah, play us out.
PETER: I’m jokeless.
DEE: Okay, I will pull out my tiny piano and I will play us out.
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