Dee, Vrai, and Peter look back on the summer 2017 season. Vatican LOLs, 18wtf, Abysscourse, Princess Principallin’ around, and more!
Date Recorded: Sunday 1st October 2017
Hosts: Peter, Vrai, Dee
0:00:37 Overall impressions
0:03:58 Classroom of the Elite
0:07:11 Welcome to the Ballroom
0:08:47 Convenience Store Boys
0:08:58 Knight’s & Magic
0:09:47 Altair: A Record of Battles
0:10:07 Vatican Miracle Examiner
0:17:23 Battle Girl Highschool
0:17:52 Restaurant to Another World
0:18:20 Elegant Yokai Apartment Life
0:21:40 The Reflection
0:37:45 Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun
0:46:15 Action Heroine Cheer Fruits
0:51:10 Made in Abyss
1:10:24 Princess Principal
1:17:49 Saiyuki Reload Blast
1:19:16 Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul
1:21:05 Sakura Quest
1:24:08 My Hero Academia
Summer 2017 Premiere Rankings
Summer 2017 Mid-season Check-in
DEE: Hello, and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist Podcast. I’m Dee Hogan, a writer and editor for AnifFem, as well as the owner of the friendly neighborhood anime blog, The Josei Next Door.
VRAI: Hey, I’m Vrai Kaiser, I’m an editor and contributer for Anime Feminist. You can find me on Twitter @writervrai or follow my other podcast @Trashpod.
PETER: I’m Peter Fobian, I’m an associates features editor at Crunchyroll and contributor and editor at Anime Feminist.
DEE: And today we’re taking a look back at the Summer 2017 anime season, talking about what we liked, what we didn’t, what we’d recommend to you lovely listeners and everything in between. We have a pretty good-sized list of shows to get into today, but before we do I wanted to ask for overall opinions. How did the summer season treat you? Vrai? Peter?
PETER: Summer was really interesting. I think it had a lot of shows that had really high highs and really low lows. I don’t think any show was super consistent, actually. You get shows like 18if, Ballroom to an extent, had really high highs but very low lows. And then some of the other shows like GAMERS! and Aoyama I really liked certain parts, but there were dips.
Some of them are based on my personal taste, as far as animation, and other ones as far as problematic content. So I felt like week to week I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get. So it’s a been a very exciting summer in that regard, I guess.
VRAI: This is probably one of the first—if not the first—season I’ve been following more than two shows, so that’s been interesting. But I feel like most of the shows I chose to stick with and didn’t drop within two episodes, I wound up being very happy with watching all the way through even if they weren’t universal highs. So I’m good. I’m also sad because apparently the… AnimeStrike is now where good yuri goes to die, people. And it’s depressing me.
DEE: Yeah, AnimeStrike is kind of a bummer. But, the good news is the really good stuff still does get traction, because I do know there’s some buzz about the shows on there this past season, so that’s nice.
VRAI: That is nice.
DEE: I… I think I’m kind of with Peter. In a way I was kind of disappointed by this season because there’s usually a show that jumps out and takes me by surprise and is just like this happy “I had no idea this was going to be awesome and I freaking love it” kind of series. I didn’t have any of those this time around.
The stuff at the top of the list that we felt pretty good about after the first episode, I continued to feel pretty good about, and there were a few disappointments. I think there were more disappointments than pleasant surprises this time, which was a bit of a bummer.
VRAI: Yeah, I think that’s fair.
DEE: And like Peter said, there wasn’t a lot of consistency. There was one show that I would say was consistently very good, and technically that was a carry over. It was Sakura Quest and we’ll get to it eventually.
But yeah, I am also ready for Fall. There’s a lot of hype in some of the new shows, partly because I’ve read some of the manga they’re based on so I know there’s good source material there. I’m hoping for another surprise, something that will jump out at me and just make me very excited.
But before all of that can happen, we need to run down the stuff from this season. So, like we did for the midseason, we will go through the list of rankings we had posted after the premiere week, and we’re going to start with the yellow flags because we sort of watched more of these than we did the harmless fun shows. We’ll go through those one at a time. So at the very bottom of the yellow flags list was Classroom of the Elite. Peter, did you… I know you were watching it at the end of midseason, did you end up finishing it?
PETER: Yeah, I finished it, yeah. Vrai, were you the one who said that you thought the whole thing was going to surround around Horikita having to learn that she has to work with others? Umm, yeah, that happened.
VRAI: Yeah, called it.
PETER: It was kind of an admittance that she couldn’t work on her own if she wanted to reach A, she had to accept allies. It wasn’t too encouraging what happened to her.
I think the whole season was trying to establish what’s up with Ayanokoji. Because there’s kind of a twist at the end, which I think actually does make him a more interesting protagonist ’cause you’re really not… I think I’ve said a couple times before that he’s a very unreliable narrator. And it turns out there was a reason for that.
The ending was pretty definitive, so I assume it’s one of those “and now you go read the manga” kind of things, or in this case, I think it’s a light novel. But yeah. It was basically just… The limited amount of time they were working with the show didn’t really let them do too much, and it was very fanservice heavy. So, I think all of it was just trying to get them to hook you into reading the light novels.
I am kind of interested in Ayanokoji’s subplot, now, so, in that regard, I guess it worked. But… I don’t know. I guess I don’t have too much to say about the series besides that.
DEE: Not necessarily something you’d recommend to people?
PETER: [groans] Probably not.
PETER: I can’t… Yeah.
DEE: That’s an answer in and of itself.
VRAI: Would I be correct in assuming from your tone that “learned that she can’t work alone” is tied intrinsically to “realizes she has the doki-dokis for the main character dude”? Because that’s usually how these shows work.
PETER: Oh, yeah. She gets turned into a tsundere at the end over Ayanokoji. But I guess it turns out he is this heavy manipulator type, so…
VRAI: Huh. All right, that’s mildly interesting.
PETER: Yeah. So, he was spending the whole time trying to get her to admit that she needed allies, when, in fact, he was doing that for his own benefit, because he doesn’t think of anybody as allies, ’cause I guess he… I’m not sure… I’m not sure what he wants. That’s still unclear. But he was basically manipulating everything behind the scenes as it was happening. That kind of thing.
DEE: Okay, so—
PETER: So, I guess if you… I don’t know. It wasn’t… I didn’t see anything in that show that really made me think, “Oh, this is really good.” I’m sort of interested in what they’re trying to do with Ayanokoji, but the whole sort of setting that he exists within and the stuff that they’ve done with the other characters, and the fact that they spend the majority of their time during dialogues literally just resting the camera directly on a female character’s chest… There isn’t much else to really go on as far as wanting to continue with that series. Yeah.
DEE: Yeah, I’m not, uh… I don’t think I’ll be going back to it. But thanks for reporting it.
VRAI: Yeah. Thanks for taking that bullet.
DEE: I think the next few… I think we’re gonna skip through quite a few of these. The next one was Welcome to the Ballroom. I gave up at three episodes. Peter, I think you were the only person who was still watching when we did our mid-season. I think Vrai and I had more or less dropped it.
PETER: Yeah. After convention season, I had a lot of catching up to do, ’cause I got a month behind on all the anime since I was also working for expo.
DEE: Yeah, same.
PETER: So, I spent the last couple weeks spending my weekends bingeing anime to catch up with everything, and I reached Welcome to the Ballroom, and just realized I had no good will left for that series. So, I just… and the things I’ve seen since have made me think that that was a very good decision.
VRAI: Truly, this is the anime that was worth the tragic loss of a human life.
PETER: Oh, that’s dark.
DEE: Sorry, what?
PETER: The animator from episode two or three, he died while making that episode.
DEE: Oh, geez. That’s… I mean, it does have beautiful animation, so I guess he can be proud of that? But… whoa.
PETER: The animation is really good in that show. Well, in bursts. So, I think besides that, it’s actually pretty inconsistent as far as the animation quality. But just the content is so… It’s so bad. There’s no redeeming qualities to the story.
DEE: Yeah, I think LossThief on Twitter… .If anyone wants some takes on it, he’s been keeping up with it. Almost hate-watching it, I think. And it has not made me want to go back.
PETER: I don’t know anyone who’s watching it that’s not a hate-watch at this point.
DEE: Yeah, which is unfortunate, ’cause that first episode really had me excited, but yeah. It’s one of those disappointments of the season. Oh well.
Next was Convenience Store Boys, which—Convenience Store Boyfriends; I always write that down wrong. Which I said was criminally boring. None of us watched it, correct?
DEE: Okay. And then the next one was Knight’s & Magic. Peter, you were keeping up with this at one point. Did you continue, or no?
PETER: That’s one of the ones I didn’t get around to. And I guess that kind of… I really got clued in to how much I enjoyed certain series based on whether or not I ended up catching up to them. I liked what I was watching of Knight’s & Magic, but I guess I didn’t find it as engaging as even some shows that I dislike in many ways more than Knight’s & Magic.
I liked what it was doing. I really… I don’t think there’s anything bad about the series, really. Especially if you’re into mecha. But there wasn’t enough personal interest that I had to end up getting back into it with the time I had.
DEE: Sure. And I think sometimes that just happens. Listeners, if any of you finished it and it’s something worth recommending, hit us up in the comments of this podcast post for sure. The next was Altair. I don’t think any of us watched that one, either, past the premiere.
PETER: Yeah. I watched the premiere. It didn’t feel like I wanted to watch episode two. [laughs]
DEE: Okay. Yeah. Again, listeners, if there’s anything of value, let us know. But we can’t watch everything. We’re only mortal. So, yeah. We’ll skip over that one as well.
Next on the list is Vatican Miracle Examiner, or, as I’ve been calling it on Twitter, Vatican Bros.
VRAI: [excited] Vatican Bros!
DEE: Vrai, would you like to start us off in the conversation on this? ‘Cause I know you and I finished it.
VRAI: I think… I did finish the series. I’m not sorry that I finished it. Definitely, after that first arc, it kind of became a case of diminishing returns, especially as it started to introduce elements where I slowly started realizing, “Oh my God, this is a less well-executed version of Descendants of Darkness, an anime from 2005.”
DEE: And a manga from, I believe, the mid-90s.
VRAI: Late ‘90s, yeah. Early 2000s.
DEE: Bit of a classic of the genre, which I vaguely remember watching with a friend, but I don’t remember a lot about it. Yeah, I think Vatican Bros… I think they hit us with their wildest arc first. Which was maybe not the best way to tell your story. [laughs]
That said, I had a really fun time start-to-finish. It was pretty consistently absurd, and the last episode was kind of good? Which surprised me. There were moments in the last episode where I was like, “This is kind of legit.”
It hit actual human emotions in the final episode, which it had not really done up to that point. It was mostly just a sequence of hilarious jokes, like “Watch out for snakes!” and “cocaine-bows” Which, you know. Check out the Vatican Bros hashtag if you don’t mind spoilers and you want to know what I’m talking about.
VRAI: [fighting laughter] The police were only invented three years ago! [wheezes]
DEE: Yeah, it was delightfully stupid. And I would say in terms of feminist value: zero. But I don’t think there was anything about it that was actively… that would pull me away. There are no female characters, really. And that kind of sucks, but it means that there’s not a whole lot in that regard. And then there’s a lot of really unsubtle gay subtext.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s kind of what ended up bumming me out is that… I apologize, because by the end of the series, I was like, “This isn’t like what Descendants of Darkness did,” an anime I love very much. And I’m sorry for [unintelligible] that.
But I think Vatican Bros was very procedural, and a show like this that’s very camp and short-run kind of needs to invest us in the melodrama of the characters, not the melodrama of the spectacle, because that has inevitable diminishing returns. But, by the end, I didn’t feel sufficiently invested in our two main leads to really feel like I… like there was some kind of catharsis of emotional achievement, even if it was totally over-the-top.
DEE: Yeah, I… They did not do a great job with… The characters were pretty flat for the most part, because it was pretty much just them solving the stupidest mysteries you can think of.
DEE: So, it was… Again, it was worth a laugh, I think. Frequently, I got a good chuckle out of it. I’m gonna be real with you—if there’s a season two, I’d be happy. I’d watch it. [laughs]
VRAI: Would livetweet season two. It’s a very good anime to livetweet. [laughs]
DEE: Yes. But it’s not one… I don’t think it’s gonna make… It’s not gonna make my feminist recommendations for AniFem when we do our writeup. And it’s one of those shows where I’m like: “if you like goofy camp, you’ll probably have a good time with it.” But it’s not top tier outside of the first four episodes, which I think are a thing of beauty.
DEE: So, yeah. That’s where I ended with it. I enjoyed it. It was… Again, it was one of the shows on my list that I think I enjoyed the most because it was sort of… It was consistent in that it was consistently stupid, and I kind of appreciated that.
VRAI: There is something to be said for that.
DEE: So, that was Vatican Bros. Next on the list was Gamers. I kept saying I was gonna go back to it, and then I heard it pretty much turned into a love pentangle… And I sort of just didn’t have the energy for that, so I never went back to it. Peter, did you end up finishing that one?
PETER: [emotionless] I finished it.
DEE: Cool. What were your thoughts?
PETER: Well, for one thing, it was… Yeah, it was a pentagon that turned into a hexagon three-fourths of the way through with the introduction of Chiaki’s little sister. It… I remember we had concerns that the male characters seemed to have motivations outside of relationships whereas the girl characters were basically created in relation to the male characters. And I think that was largely resolved in that all the characters are actually only concerned with romance and that’s the entire show, actually.
DEE: Ah. Okay.
PETER: So, I do feel like the girls got an equal treatment, at least over the course of the show, which I guess makes it more forgivable. I personally am not super big into the “horrifying series of misunderstandings that leaves everyone crushing on and also distrusting everyone else.” But I did find some people who started following the show specifically because of that. So, I think that’s just a personal taste thing.
The last episode in particular… I think they wrapped it up pretty well in the penultimate episode. The last episode was actually more what I wanted the series to be, at least the first half of it, because they spent a lot of time talking about games, and Aguri’s kind of like a straight man to everybody else liking games. Because she said games are dumb and they cost too much money.
And then everybody has to defend video games, and then at one point they’re talking about if DLC is evil or not, and Aguri is pretty convinced that it’s bad, and so Amano has to convince her that DLC is actually worthwhile sometimes.
PETER: So… There’s a lot of references and jokes. It was really good. So, if the whole series had been like that, I think it probably would have been one of my favorites. Although, in the last half of the episode, they spent a ten-minute segment… They were at an onsen, and of course, they spent the entire time in the girls’ side of the onsen. And that… I think all of the fanservice in the show was concentrated into that single scene. It was really, really bad.
I don’t know why you would put all of your fanservice in the last half of the last episode of a show, because usually I feel like that’s something that they use to pull people into a property. But it was probably the grossest scene in the entire show, and that was kind of the majority of the last half of the last episode, and that’s how they closed out the series.
DEE: Gosh, it kind of leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
PETER: Yeah, so, I thought the series had something to say. It turned out it was just a dumb rom-com. Which is fine. Then the last episode peaked again, and it hit its lowest point ever at the very end.
So, based on that, I don’t think I can really recommend anybody who’s concerned with fanservice to get into the show, because, guaranteed, if you decide to finish it, it’s just gonna slap you in the face right before you’re done.
DEE: Yeah, that’s frustrating. Otherwise, could they… Could viewers conceivably stop at the end of the penultimate episode and call it a season? Did the last episode just kind of feel like “fun” filler?
PETER: Yeah, the last episode was definitely extra. So, you could stop at episode 11, where finally everything’s resolved and you get the feeling everyone’s gonna be okay.
DEE: So, if you’re into wacky rom-coms, I guess that would be the way to do it.
PETER: Just skip the last one. It’s unnecessary.
DEE: Okay, so that was Gamers. The next two, I don’t think any of us watched. Battle Girl High School? Again, we reviewed the premiere, and really didn’t have a lot to say about it. And then Dive, the new swimming boys show. I don’t think any of us got into that either.
No? Okay. Again, listeners, any of these shows… If we’re skipping over them and you’re like, “No, guys! Why did you skip over that? It was good!” let us know in the comments so other readers and listeners can know that as well.
Restaurant to Another World—Peter, did you end up dropping that one, or did you keep with it?
PETER: I dropped it. I think I pretty much… I think I was on that direction when we first talked about it. It’s a fine show. I’m just not into the food stuff, and I think it probably would have been better if it was 12-minute episodes instead of 24.
DEE: Yeah, that was sort of where I was at the end of it too.
Okay, yeah. So, we’re… Again, we’re jumping through this “Harmless Fun” category pretty fast. The top of the “Harmless Fun” list was Elegant Yokai Apartment Life. Vrai, Peter, I don’t think either of you ever got into that one, yeah?
VRAI: No, that was definitely one that I was… I liked the premiere and I kept thinking, “I should watch that,” and then I didn’t.
DEE: Mm-hm. So, I… We put a little spreadsheet together, listeners, to give each other an idea of what we are going to be talking about today, and I have this one listed as “dropped” with the number 12 next to it, which is weird, because that technically means I finished the season.
But it turns out it’s two-cour, and there’s a lot of stuff coming this Fall that I want to watch more, and I just never… It never really got me to fall in love with it.So, if it had just ended at 12, I would have been like, “Yeah, I watched it. It was fine.” But since I know it’s gonna be two-cour, I’m done. I’m not going back to it at this point.
It was basically fine. It was really clumsy. It kept… Every time I thought it was trying to do something good, it would do it in a way that was either really on-the-nose, or didn’t quite hit the point it was trying to hit in terms of some of its messages about the main character dealing with some of his past trauma.
Or, there’s a three-part finale arc to the first cour that is about a misogyny demon, kind of? And it possesses one of their teachers, and there’s kind of an interesting twist to it in that the main character, Yuushi, thinks that… sees this guy as kind of a victim, but everyone keeps telling him that the reason he was possessed was because he was open to these feelings, and so when Akine, the badass exorcist girl, steps in and throws the demon out of him, it turns out the guy’s still kind of a misogynist.
And so the point of the story is… There’s these elements of… Not everything is an outside force, and it’s more than just saying a spell to fix everything. But it just… it didn’t do it very well. And it’s hard to explain without going into a lot of detail about why it was clumsy and sort of uncomfortable, but yeah.
It was always trying, and it just never was quite able to be what I think it wanted to be, so… It was okay. I mean, if you’re really into yokai shows, you could do a lot worse than Elegant Yokai Apartment Life, for sure. But it’s not something that’s getting a glowing two-thumbs-up from me.
VRAI: That’s too bad.
PETER: Not a bad way to pass the time.
DEE: Yeah, it wasn’t. And, again, it has these moments that are kind of nice, and then it just… It’s just very clumsily handled, I guess is the way I would describe it. So, yeah. It was a fun 30 minutes a week, but I don’t really think I’m gonna miss it since I’ve decided not to keep up with it this coming season.
And that is the end of “Harmless Fun.” Now we’re getting into shows that I think we’ve all kept up with a lot more and we’ll probably have a lot to say about them. The bottom of the “Feminist Potential” list—”Feminist Potential” being shows that we didn’t see clear-cut feminist themes, but there were elements that we thought might end up heading in that direction, so we popped them to the top of the list.
And the bottom of this one was The Reflection, the sort of Stan Lee collaboration with Studio Deen, and I am blanking on the director’s name. He’s—
DEE: —fairly well-known. Yes! Thank you. So, I actually did end up bingeing that one, but it’s not finished, because it started two weeks after everything else, so we still… I believe it’s gonna be 12 [episodes]. Don’t quote me on that, though. I believe the final episode will be next Saturday, but we couldn’t really wait.
PETER: Yeah, if it is 12, they have a lot to do in the last episode.
DEE: Yeah. It feels like it could very easily be two-cour, and I’m curious to see if they end up announcing that, or if it just very quickly ends. Peter, you watched this one, too?
PETER: Yeah, I just caught up.
DEE: Okay. What are your thoughts?
PETER: Very confusing. When I was speaking about inconsistency, I think I was speaking about The Reflection and 18if, mostly. I alternate between hating and really liking the animation—
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, same.
PETER: —I guess depending upon whether they’re putting a lot of effort into it. Some of the fight scenes, especially with Steel Ruler, are really well-animated. And they do some good character stuff too. But a lot of the time, other times, it’s hard to tell characters apart. They don’t bother drawing faces on them. It’s really bizarre the way they want to do it visually.
DEE: Yeah, the comic book aesthetic. I appreciate what they’re trying to do, it’s just that it’s very up-and-down as far as whether or not it works.
PETER: Yeah. I’m not quite sure what to make of the story yet, ’cause I feel like a lot of stuff is gonna… We just got hit with some revelations, and I think… But we can’t even appreciate the revelations ’cause we haven’t been given context for them yet. So, it’s like we’ve got a surprise about the villain last episode, and we have no idea what it even means, and probably won’t until the next episode. So, it’s kind of hard to get a good beat on it.
I found the series very confusing, mostly. I think there was some stuff to talk about as far as Eleanor and Steel Ruler have that connection in regards to their backstories where they were… I guess they suffered from really bad loneliness; were left alone. I guess Metal—or, Steel Ruler; I keep wanting to call her Metal Ruler—Steel Ruler was homeless as a child, and she just had kind of a bad life, which led to her joining the villains. Very Magneto-esque.
And I guess Eleanor had a similar backstory, and they kind of… Steel Ruler sees herself in Eleanor. But I kind of don’t like how both of those stories are in the context of just wanting to be acknowledged by someone else, because, with the male characters, you usually have some sort of higher-minded thing they’re pursuing or personal interest, and I feel like the two most prominent female characters in the series just want senpai to notice them, basically.
DEE: Well, okay, I do agree with you, and I think that if there were some female mentor characters, that it wouldn’t feel quite so much like “younger female characters reaching out towards dudes.” I think that’s one of the core issues. I will say, though, that I-Guy’s whole thing is he wants people to notice him for the first half of the story, so…
PETER: Yeah. Well, I mean, but that’s not “I want a person to acknowledge me.” That’s “I want everyone to know that I’m awesome,” kind of thing. I mean, it’s still emotionally codependent, but it’s not “I specifically need somebody to prop me up emotionally.” Which is the feeling that I got especially from that last episode with Eleanor.
DEE: Though, he kind of does. His team really does prop him up emotionally. The team that helps him with his robot powers. I see some reflections between him and—
DEE: Ah-ha! Between him and the two girls. And I do agree with you that I don’t love the way they’ve been handling Eleanor and Steel Ruler’s story for the past few episodes. I think they could still end up fixing it, but at this point it does feel very much like they just kind of want senpai to notice them.
PETER: Yeah, and I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I was under the impression that Wraith was a woman, and I thought it was interesting that the mastermind villain was a female—who I guess Stan Lee was the sidekick of? But that I guess seems to not be the case. I don’t know if that was just a voice acting thing, or if that was something they were intentionally trying to mislead us with. It’s kind of hard to tell with The Reflection.
DEE: I think the voice actor is a guy, but I think he has a higher-pitched voice, and so it was tough to tell. Yeah.
PETER: Kind of a Bond type.
DEE: And I did sort of… Yeah. So, yeah, I was a little bummed when the main villain ended up not being a lady, ’cause I thought that would have been kind of neat, especially because the story does set up Eleanor as the main “origin story” protagonist.
And I like the characters. I think they’re… The show is very confident. It’s extremely confidently written and directed, to the point where when there are these surprise twists towards the end that I don’t feel like they really hinted at, [but] I was able to sort of roll with it, because I was like, “Okay, well, you seem very confident in this story you’re telling, so yeah. Let’s go with this.”
It does some nice stuff in terms of giving a lot of character and plot out in a relatively short amount of time without necessarily feeling super-duper rushed; and it’s sort of trying to say some stuff about discrimination, but I don’t think it’s doing a particularly good job.
PETER: Yeah, the Evil Reflected are good.
DEE: Well, sort of. They… The thing they’ve started to hint at in the later episodes is that it wasn’t so much that people got hit with a light or a smoke but that, depending upon your mental state at the time that this event happened, you got those feelings amplified. So, if you were really angry or bitter, you had these negative emotions. Those got amplified by this smoke. Whereas if you were feeling pretty good at the time, it got amplified by this green light.
So, the idea there is that there’s some flexibility there, and that you can help people and then they would be able to move away from that. I don’t know if the show’s gonna do anything with that, but if they do, that would make the evil-good nonsense a lot more interesting and better, overall.
PETER: I think it’s kind of a director-versus-writing thing. ‘Cause I remember the episode that ended with Eleanor sitting in the park and then Steel Ruler appeared, where it did that lateral shot and then cut to credits, I was like, “Oh, that was a really good scene.” But when I thought back on it, ’cause I took a break at that point, I was just like, “That was really predictable.” So, it was like the writing was bad, but the way it was directed made the scene feel really powerful.
DEE: It’s really confident, yeah.
PETER: And the whole thing with the military responses to everything, it’s very Marvel in that regard. This is X-Men. So the military are just making the situation worse at all times, in very predictable and stupid ways. But I… Yeah. The show’s kind of selling it well, despite the fact that it seems like a lot of American comics I’ve read.
DEE: Yeah. It’s definitely interesting and, again, I don’t think it’s doing everything it wants to do as well as it wants to do them, but I appreciate it for trying. And I’m curious to see how it wraps up. It’s one of those where if it has a good finale… ‘Cause I binged seven episodes in the last two days, and I got kinda sucked into it, which I wasn’t necessarily expecting.
It’s got a reasonably diverse cast. It could be better. But I appreciate that, ’cause that’s not super common in anime. So depending on how it wraps up, I could see it end up being a surprise recommendation when we do our final write-ups.
So, I guess keep an eye out for that, folks, and we’ll see how it ends. But clearly we had a lot to talk about with it, so there’s definitely something of value here, as far as a conversation if nothing else.
PETER: Yeah. It’s a very unusual series. I agree, it really depends on how it’s closed out. The whole thing they’re doing with the Japanese magical girls… They have devoted a lot of time to them, and they have done nothing.
So, if there’s a real… Now they’re in a position to actually affect the plot in some way, so if something good happens with them, then I will appreciate the time that it took building that up. But if not, then I’m like,”Wow, that was maybe an episode’s worth of content that was just wasted.” So it really depends on the ending.
DEE: Yeah, well, fingers crossed they’ll land it okay. If nothing else, it’ll be a very confident mess. [holding back laughter] I can guarantee it will be confident.
Sorry, Vrai, we’re gonna talk about another show you’re not watching, so you’re gonna—
VRAI: No, no, carry on!
DEE: Go get a drink. Have a snack. Pet your dog and your cat, and… Sorry, folks. The next show on the list was 18if, which… woof. Peter, do you wanna start us off here?
PETER: Yeah, what do you even talk about? It’s so…
DEE: ‘Cause you’re the one who got me back into it, ’cause I basically dropped it and you were like, “No, there’s some really good stuff in the back half!” So, I picked it up again, and you were right! There’s some really good—I think some of the best episodes of the season of any show I watched were from 18if. But I think the worst episodes of the season of any show I watched were also 18if. So…
PETER: 18if was the spirit of the summer season, I think—
DEE: [crosstalk] I don’t know where to even begin.
PETER: Literally didn’t know what you were gonna get week-to-week. It could be a masterpiece. It could be the worst trash. Yeah.
DEE: Yeah. I thought Kakegurui was the only show with Russian roulette, but, uh… turns out this one was as well.
PETER: [laughs] Yeah. I encouraged you to get back into it ’cause the Koji Morimoto episode—number 10—that was… I didn’t think anything would be able to beat episode three, but I honestly don’t know which one of those two is my favorite now.
DEE: I think 7 was my favorite. The Wizard of Oz fairy tale one.
PETER: The 3D, chalkboard-y one?
DEE: Yeah, with the… God, that animation was phenomenal. I want to see an entire show done in that style. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about CG before, but it was gorgeous, and they told a very affecting story in 30 minutes, which I thought was—which, again, kind of like episode 3, I really appreciated in terms of—aesthetically, it was… Again, 18if has some really good moments, and episode beats, and occasionally, does sort of flirt with feminist themes, but in sort of a ham-handed way, I think.
PETER: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I think… Well, one of the problems with the series is a lot of the different episodes don’t really mesh with the connective tissue. Your favorite, actually, is one of the ones that I have the biggest problem with. I love the whole episode, but it didn’t really make sense or tie into the actual story regarding the witches.
Another one, probably the worst one, was the idol episode, where at the beginning of the episode, she gets stabbed by a fan eight times. And then she’s in this dream world, so you assume she’s in a coma or something like that, right? And she lives out her time as a witch. That was probably one of the worst episodes.
DEE: God, that episode was terrible.
PETER: So, he convinces her to turn her life around or whatever, because that’s what Haruto does, and she leaves and just goes right back to work. The stabbing is never addressed again. So, I don’t know if she just got better. I don’t know what happened with that, but… That’s just… It’s just such a weird show.
DEE: There were so many terrible things in that episode that talking about the plot not making sense is the least of my concerns.
PETER: [laughs] Yeah.
DEE: There’s… God, there’s assault and transphobia, and just… Ooh, it was bad. It was a bad episode of television. So it’s one of those where it’s like, I want to recommend four or five episodes to people just as standalone stories, and then be like, “You don’t have to worry about the rest. Just watch those.”
PETER: Yeah. The fact that they’re self-contained does make it very easy to just allow somebody… ’cause it’s four, five self-contained stories, and they don’t need to watch the rest.
DEE: It does. Yeah. I think episodes 3, 7, 8, and 10 were the standouts for me.
PETER: Yeah. I’d agree.
DEE: And, God, the finale was this weird, weird rollercoaster and I don’t really wanna get into it too much on here because I think I would almost have to go line-by-line to explain why it was so bizarre.
But it’s trying to do something kind of empowering? And just doesn’t know how to do it. So, there’d be one line where it’d be like, “Hey, it’s okay to feel feelings or make mistakes. You don’t have to beat yourself up about that forever.” And I’m like, “Cool.” And the next line would be like, “Times have changed and men are basically women’s servants now.” And I’m like, “Oh, this is not good. This is sexist on multiple levels.”
So, it was… Yeah. It sure was 18if. If nothing else, I would say watch those few episodes for sure, ’cause they are very good and they are kind of self-contained stories.
PETER: I think the conclusion was their idea of what feminism was is catty girl-talk, and they said, “Haruto, stay out of this. We don’t actually need you.” When the thing that drew all of them together was just wanting to see Haruto one last time, or something like that. He did become the central figure.
DEE: But had almost nothing to do with the finale. It was… Yeah, it was this weird blend of, “Oh, we’re doing this for ourselves,” and it’s like, [skeptical] “Yeah, but, at the same time, are you?”
PETER: Yeah. I think they were trying to defy the damsel-in-distress narrative, but, like you said, they just had no idea what they were doing, so they kept alternating between the women kind of… I don’t know what they were trying to convince the villain of, to be honest. ‘Cause the message seemed to alternate with every line, I agree. You almost had to go line-by-line to figure out what the hell they were trying to say, because the whole meaning of the last episode changes minute-to-minute, and it just… It doesn’t go anywhere.
DEE: Yeah. It’s a big mess. And there’s some stuff in it that I really liked. There’s kind of a… ‘Cause, spoiler, folks, the big villain is literally Eve from Adam and Eve. She’s the first witch. And she wants to destroy the world, and the other witches decide to get together to convince her to stop, and Haruto, the apparent protagonist, really doesn’t do anything, which I thought was kind of great, but…
So there’s moments throughout it where the characters kind of… They same some things, and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s a really nice and important thing for people to hear,” like Eve kind of blaming herself for being tricked, and being like, “Well, clearly I was the bad one,” and they were like, “No, you were tricked. It’s okay. The fault was on the person who tricked you.” And I was like, “Okay, that’s kind of getting into victim-blaming. That’s not too bad.”
And then, the next line would be some sort of catty or sexist joke that was very tone-deaf. And so I don’t know what to do with 18if.
PETER: Yeah, it’s just a confusing ending.
DEE: It sure was a show.
PETER: [laughs] Yeah. It was just like a million signals coming at you from a bunch of different directions. Yeah, it felt really weird.
DEE: It sure was a journey. I will say that for it. The middle act was very dull and bad, but it sure was a journey.
So, yeah. 18if. Don’t think I would recommend the entire show to folks, but there are a few episodes there that you can watch as standalones, and I think you would get a lot out of them. So: 3, 7, 8, 10. For sure.
PETER: All really good. Highest recommendation of those four.
DEE: Yeah. So, I guess that’s the best we can do for that up and down series.
Okay, next one on the list. All three of use, I believe, finished this one. Clean Freak Aoyama-kun.
VRAI: I watched this one!
DEE: Hooray! Welcome back to the conversation, Vrai. [laughs]
DEE: Would you like to talk?
VRAI: [laughs] I don’t know if I remember how.
DEE: [laughs] What did you think of Aoyama-kun?
VRAI: God, I really liked this show. It’s… I tend to not watch shounen or sports anymore because I really don’t have the investment in me for long shows, so this was a really nice surprise in that it did all of the things I really like about early shounen.
It had a cute cast of ensemble characters with a lot of character-focused comedy episodes. It had an interesting hook that it actually treated respectfully. And then it ended before it could actually do the tournament arc that it was threatening about, and I was here for it.
And, honestly, I’ve liked… I think the only episode that I found a little bit disappointing was the beach episode. Otherwise, I found it pretty good-to-great for just about every episode in terms of… It’s a rare comedy show that I actually laughed at instead of just smiling now and then.
It gave me warm fuzzies and despite the fact—despite spending most of the show on tenterhooks waiting for it to do the thing anime do, it never really betrayed me in any significant way.
DEE: Can you expand on that a little bit, in case folks are coming into this… ? Vrai did write a piece on Aoyama-kun for the site, for folks at home. But can you kind of talk about what… Yeah, just go into that a little bit.
VRAI: Absolutely. Yeah, because the gimmick of the show sounds absolutely horrible from an outside perspective. It’s about a soccer team, and their ace player is really, really good because he has germophobia and has structured his whole life around not letting people touch him, and it’s made him very good at The Soccers.
But it’s never played as a joke, actually, in execution. This takes place in a very understanding world where nobody makes fun of him because of the mechanisms that he’s developed to get around his mental illness. It’s just a very gentle character comedy that hits a few sour notes, but for the most part, is really kind and understanding and has a good, nice cast of characters I like.
DEE: I think that covers it. I found with this one a little bit diminishing returns on the back half.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s fair.
DEE: I kind of feel like it moved around… There’s an episode in the middle with a manga author that I thought was kind of brilliant, and then I think the one right after it was the one about the basketball girl, who… The show does do a little bit in terms of fanservice-y stuff, so for folks at home, if that’s an absolute dealbreaker for you, then… It’s very minimal and it’s mostly the occasional boob jiggle, but it’s there, so it’s worth mentioning. But I really enjoyed the basketball episode, because I liked that character.
And then… I don’t know if… Every episode focuses on a different character, so how much you enjoy the episode will have to do with how much you enjoy that character. I’m not sure there were really any focused ones after that that I was really here for as much as I was, so I found the back half a little bit… My enthusiasm waned, but that could just be me.
VRAI: Yeah. I think it helps that I binged, so I got kind of behind. So I binged the back half. So, for me, watching it all together, the episodes… And you’re definitely right. From eight to 11, those are definitely the weakest episodes in the show. And then I thought the finale had a really good joke. [cracking up] A really good joke-twist that I enjoyed.
But up to then, there’s definitely… There’s the boob jiggle stuff. There’s the beach episode, which is where I found the boob stuff actively annoying and a bit, “Ugh, really? Are we doing this?” And then there’s the episode where Aoyama tries to help his soccer friend make up with his girlfriend, which is on the one hand nice, because it’s the first episode where it makes Aoyama a character and not this untouchable mysterious figure that everybody else reacts to—
DEE: Yeah, I really liked him in that one, ’cause it turns out he’s kind of goofy. And I liked that it was like, “Oh, Aoyama can be goofy, too.”
VRAI: Right. I liked that, but also, at the same time, it’s like, [sarcastically] “Women are so mysterious! What are you gonna do?” Which is kind of sad.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, it had a little bit of that in the back half, which… Maybe that’s what tamped my enjoyment of it. That having been said, I still think it’s a good show. I liked what you were talking about. I liked how it was able to be… It was nice to its characters, and it was very understanding about Aoyama’s mental illness, and so I definitely appreciated that about it.
Peter, do you have anything to add? You’ve been kinda quiet.
PETER: I generally agree with the sentiment. I think the problem that I had with the series… I mean, overall, I really enjoyed it. I think the reason I got diminishing returns was that, to compare it to another show that was somewhat similar, Tanaka-kun is Always Listless—
DEE: [gasps] One of my favorites!
PETER: It did a really good job of slow-burn introducing the cast, but it still kept the cast pretty small. I felt like it hit a really good number, and then it just sort of stopped and stayed there. But Aoyama, it’s literally a new character every week. Sometimes multiple characters every week. And then some of them you never see again or are never addressed again.
So, it feels like they just keep expanding this cast to the point where you can’t keep track of all the characters anymore. And it’s hard to really see the ones that you like very often. ‘Cause I felt like the ones that I liked early on didn’t get screentime anymore, ’cause they kept throwing these new characters at me who I either liked or felt lukewarm about.
DEE: Yeah, I kind of agree with that. When they introduced—I wish I could remember her name—the basketball player—
DEE: Odagiri. Thank you. I remember at that point being like, “Oh, we have a really fun core cast now, ’cause we’ve got a couple of fun female characters, we’ve got Aoyama and his teammates.” And then, like you said, they kept doing these sort of zero-in episodes.
And on the one hand I like the idea that everybody has a story and that sort of focus on telling all those stories. But yeah, it was one of those… I like these other characters. Why am I not hanging out with them?
PETER: Yeah. I really liked Odagiri’s subplot as well. I think that was one of the ones where I really started appreciating how the whole series is outside Aoyama looking at him, and you don’t really have access to his thoughts.
And that one is sort of very prominently put out, ’cause everyone thought he had a crush on Odagiri, but it turns out that, for some reason or another, he’s able to high-five her without getting really afraid of germs. So, he invites her to stuff so that when he scores a goal, he can high-five when he scores a goal just like everybody else.
DEE: That was so sweet.
VRAI: My heart.
PETER: That was a really… Probably one of my favorite subplots of the whole thing, and I think that was, to me, the biggest strength of the show. But after that, it was just more and more and more characters.
VRAI: Yeah. Maybe that’s what made the finale so strong to me, is that it comes back to Zaizen, who we started with, and it’s like, “Oh, yes! The characters I like!” Yeah, I think you’re right about that.
DEE: Yeah. It does circle… And there are moments in the other episodes where it will focus more on that central cast, and those tended to be the higher points going forward for me, so… Yeah, it was a fun little series. I’m not clamoring for more, but I enjoyed it. I would recommend it to folks. I think it did a lot of nice things.
PETER: At this point, “more” might just mean more characters, [laughing] which means you get less of the ones you want.
DEE: Yeah, maybe so. I don’t know. Anyway, yeah, I think all three of us pretty much liked it. Again, I feel like we spent a lot of time at the end there criticizing it, but I do want to highlight the fact that we all enjoyed it.
VRAI: Yeah, very much.
DEE: Nice show.
VRAI: It was definitely in my top three of the stuff I watched this season.
DEE: Mm-hm. Speaking of top three, we are in our top three shows left on this list before we slide into—real quickly, we’ll talk about sequels and carry-overs at the end.
But these were our shows with Feminist Themes. These were shows that we said, right out the gate, they looked like they were going to be addressing feminist-relevant issues, topics, et cetera.
So, the one at the bottom of the list was Action Heroine Cheer Fruits. It was on HiDIVE. We told you in the mid-season that none of us had been able to keep up with it. Vrai, I do believe you get to monologue for a bit here. Make up for lost time.
DEE: When you didn’t get to chat below. ‘Cause I think you’re the only person who finished it—or, who got to it.
VRAI: Yeah, I binged the entire thing yesterday, which was—
DEE: [impressed] Well done.
VRAI: [breathlessly] Yeah. It is an intensely “okay” show, is I think how I would put it.
DEE: [amused] Okay.
VRAI: It is… I am not sorry that I watched it from beginning to end. I wouldn’t say… If you are outside of the US and you are already have HiDVE that you’re using to watch other shows because you aren’t shackled to Strike like those of us in the States, it’s not a poor investment of your time, but it’s also not like, “Yes, go and seek this out.”
Because it’s… In case any of you… Since we haven’t talked about it in a long time, it’s a show about these girls who… these girls end up putting on an impromptu Sentai show, basically for one character’s little sister. And then that blossoms into “We are going to put on a Sentai show to try and save the local theater.”
It’s got more than a few connections with Sakura Quest—at least as I understand Sakura Quest—in the same idea that in this world, every city has a hero or Sentai team for marketing purposes. The worldbuilding really isn’t very good. Nor is it gone into particularly.
And the moments where the show actually focuses on the club of girls coming together and working on the show is really fun and really endearing and it did continue to remind me of Samurai Flamenco in a way that I really liked. The problem is that there’s a big, long stretch in the middle where the show gets kind of lazy and is just a “girls in clubs” show. It kind of gets saggy and real trope-y and just plugs the very basics of the conceit into “Here’s a club episode! Where we do things! And there are shenanigans.” And it’s not very interesting, because these characters are all a little bit two-dimensional.
It also caught me at the beginning that the first episode had a lot of yuri stuff in it, and that kind of faded away, unfortunately. The first maybe four episodes had a lot of really strong bait-y stuff that didn’t really go anywhere.
And then there are two members of the club, the president and vice president, who might actually be dating? They have a speech during the vice president’s introductory episode about how you’re so cute and you’re my prince and you’re the only one I feel that way about, and then they continue to be blush-y and cute at each other in the background, but it’s not really a thing that’s focused on ever again.So, it’s not entirely bait, but it’s also not the strong focus that I thought it might be from the premiere.
So, yeah, the moments that are nice are very nice. It has a character who is a wheelchair-user and she’s treated well and as an equal part of the team. She’s the composer and the choreographer and by the end of the show, they have clear plans to incorporate her in the show on the stage, as well, with her chair. So, that’s nice.
DEE: Yeah. That’s cool.
VRAI: It’s an aggressively “okay” show that had some nice things in it. It’s fine.
DEE: [faux excitedly] But Vrai. But Vrai. Does her wheelchair turn into a giant robot?
VRAI: It does not. It does not. I’m sorry.
DEE: Well, let me tell you what happens in The Reflection. [laughs] Sorry.
VRAI: [through laughter] It cannot compare to Wheelchair Robot.
DEE: That’s one of my favorite things, partly because it’s a great design and also Lisa’s a great character. I realize we hadn’t mentioned the awesome mecha in Reflection, so I had to bring that up real quick.
VRAI: No, no. That absolutely should be brought up and celebrated. And I mean… That’s about all there is to say about Cheer Fruits. The animation is pretty cheap. The designs are pretty generic. I might have had a higher tolerance for it as well because I don’t watch a lot of “cute girls do cute things” shows, so the tropes were also less tired for me.
VRAI: So, it’s fine. It’s fine.
DEE: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like if you like shows about cute girls doing cute things then it sounds like it would be a nice addition to that lineup.
VRAI: Yeah, for sure. It is kind of disappointing that the first episode has a lot about these girls thinking about becoming professionals and emulating this female heroine that they really liked. And that kind of goes away except for one episode kind of late in the game. Which is too bad. But, ah well.
DEE: It was all right.
VRAI: Yeah. It was all right.
DEE: All right! Well, it’s okay. That works. So, yeah. Action Heroine Cheer Fruits.
Next on the list is Made in Abyss. Who wants to start talking about Made in Abyss?
VRAI: Please don’t make me start. Please, please don’t make me start.
DEE: I think we’re all a little bit exhausted about talking about Made in Abyss. This is one we’ve discussed in our slack group quite a bit, and then it’s on Twitter, and we had a blog post go up the other week about it. So, if we sound a little fatigued, listeners, that’s probably why.
It’s… I guess I’ll start. I think it is a very well-made series. It’s gorgeously animated. It’s got a very detailed and rich world. I think all the characters are really well-crafted, sympathetic if not outright charming individuals who you grow to care about and root for. And that their relationships are very… “believable” isn’t quite the word. I get concerned for them and I want them to do well and stay together.
I was very emotionally invested in this series. I really liked the cast. I really liked a lot of things about it. And I think because of that I have a hard time talking about it critically, and it definitely does some things that aren’t good.
Some of those things, I think, are just not good things. There’s a lot of nudity. And… I shouldn’t say “a lot.” That makes it sound like they’re naked all the time, and it’s maybe 50% of the episodes somebody gets naked.
PETER: It’s unnecessary.
DEE: Yeah. A lot of it is unnecessary. Sometimes it feels like it’s trying to make a point about “the manmade” and “the natural,” which is a running theme throughout the series. That having been said, it’s overused to the point where it starts to feel skeevy at times, so even the scenes that are honestly kind of sweet and cute or well-handled, there’s this constant feeling of, “Oh God, what are you gonna do with this?”
It never really gets… I don’t think it ever really sexualizes the characters, it’s just that the sheer volume is difficult. It can be difficult to deal with.
VRAI: It’s never as overtly sexualized as I think a lot of we’re used to in anime, but there are definitely… I’ll talk in a minute, but I think on this specific point, it definitely hit a point where there had been…
By sheer preponderance of how often the plot arbitrarily decides there must be an occasion to get naked, I started to feel like, “Okay, you’re sliding this under the radar, but this still feels a little fetish-y.” To the point where tropes that would have otherwise been harmless, I started to feel like, “Are you getting off on this? Why do I feel weird and skeeved about this?” Especially the scene where Riko is unconscious and Reg has the, “Oh no, I walked in on the naked girl!” joke from like a billion harem anime, and I hated it.
DEE: Yeah. I think you described it once as “a beautiful piano concerto where every so often somebody would just slam on all the keys and then go back to the concerto.”
Yeah, I think that, to me, is definitely how some of the nudity… There’s a lot of kind of… How do I describe this? “Bodily functions,” I guess. And, again, some of it comes back to this idea of the story being a harsh fairy tale, sort of like, “Okay, no, when you go on adventure stories, there’s going to be a lot of pain and sometimes you’re gonna have to pee,” and things like that. But, again, it’s overdone to the point where it starts to feel, like you said, kind of fetish-y at times. Yeah.
VRAI: Who—all right, who do I have to accuse of having a piss fetish? [laughs] At a certain point.
DEE: Yeah, and it’s just that feeling of—God, I got that way with—this is a weird comparison, but when I was reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, anytime somebody gets scared, they pee their pants. And I remember at a certain point being like, “This happens a weird amount of times.”
PETER: Ah, yeah.
DEE: And I get that you’re trying to be, you know, “death isn’t glamorous and fights aren’t glamorous,” but you’re doing this a lot.
PETER: I’m so happy you brought that up, because that’s something that I noticed when I read that book series.
DEE: Oh, good. It wasn’t just me.
PETER: It was like “wetting yourself and knees popping” all the time. Everybody’s knees popped whenever they did anything.
Yeah, but after a while, you’re just like, “Why does this keep coming up?” You’re not trying to do anything with it, but you’re fixated on it. And it’s really bizarre.
DEE: Yeah. Again, it’s one of those things where, when used in very small doses, I think it can make a point. And I think the series—again, I’m worried that as we’re talking about this, it’s gonna sound like every five minutes somebody’s stripping down or peeing their pants or something, and that’s not the case. Most of it is very good.
It’s just these bursts that kind of jump out at you, and the thing is the story’s… I think it’s very immersive and it pulls you into this world and you can really get invested, and so those moments actively throw you out, and so they stand out more because of the fact that the show is so good otherwise.
VRAI: Yeah, I think I started coming off as somebody who fucking hates this show, because every time I get on Twitter, I’d end up talking about the things that bother me because they stood out in such stark contrast to all the things in the episode I really like.
Like, it’d be two minutes of 20 minutes that I thought were really good, but they were so jarring that I ended up laser-focusing on them and talking about them. And then people started telling me that I was wrong to be criticizing at all, so I got really stubborn about it.
PETER: That’s been popular lately, yeah.
PETER: [sarcastically] Just don’t criticize it.
VRAI: But in general I did really like this series. There are some… I also really like all the characters. It has two non-gendered characters that I thought were handled really well and I love them. And Nanachi is my child and I’m going to adopt them now.
DEE: Aw, yeah.
VRAI: Although it just came down to this issue of: the show lost my trust. So, it’s—it lost my trust, and it is probably a testament to how good a lot of the show was that I continued to watch it even though I no longer trusted it. So using the piano concerto metaphor… I eventually reached this peak where I was so keyed up and nervous and waiting for the next “bang” that it became harder to enjoy the music.
And I also think with media, especially media created by men, there is kind of a low level of day-to-day or benevolent sexism that we all shake hands and agree to just roll with because we need to fucking watch something. And because the show dropped the ball in a couple really key places with regards to the nudity, with regards to Riko’s agency as the protagonist…
I stopped trusting it, and all of a sudden things that I assuredly would have forgiven in other shows, I started being really, really… I started really slamming down on this show hard for, because I no longer… It had lost the right to me to give it the benefit of the doubt.
PETER: Yeah. Well, I think, also, the higher the quality of a show, the more disappointing its setbacks are as well. I think that became kind of apparent with some of the more problematic stuff that arose with My Hero Academia this season. The show is so good most of the time that whenever it’s bad, it really stands out.
And it’s more disappointing, too, because you really… If something’s bad, you can just write it off a lot of the time, but if you really love something and it disappoints you, that sucks. Because you want to keep engaging with the media and you don’t want to have something in it that makes you fall out of love with it. And I feel like that’s probably sort of what you’re describing with Made In Abyss.
VRAI: Yeah, definitely. Sort of this… Stuff like the fact that Riko is the one who can cook on the team. Which is fine. It makes sense in [the] narrative because she’s been to school and she’s learned all these cool things about what’s edible down there and she’s the survivalist.
But then framing keeps happening that’s—framing is the problem with this show—but then framing keeps happening where, oh, she’s not shown actually hunting or skinning or doing any of the ugly things of survival. She’s sittin’ around the campfire with a pot and then at the end they’re joking about how… [disappointed] Hanachi and Reg joke about how they definitely need to keep her along because she’s the one who can cook.
And I would totally forgive this as just “it makes sense in-narrative,” but also I see what you’re doing, Show, and I don’t like it.
PETER: Yeah. There’s a good comparison with that, I think, to Golden Kamuy. There’s an Ainu girl in that one who’s one of the main two characters. I wish I could remember her name right now. But she cooks. She’s the cook on the team.
And she makes a lot of really good food, but she catches the food. It shows her skinning the food. And then usually Ainu eat weird parts of the animal like eyeballs or brains or something like that, and she’ll share that with the main character who’s more traditionally Japanese. He’s from Osaka or something. I can’t remember. I probably got that wrong.
So she’ll go, “The eyeball’s the best part. Here, eat it.” And he’s like, “I don’t really want to.” So, you can… With that framing, you can see that she’s a consummate survivalist and she knows how to prepare an animal. First kill it and then do all the steps and preparation, rather than just, “Oh, she’s really nice in the kitchen.”
VRAI: Yeah. That’s all I wanted was a little more of that.
DEE: I thought they did some—and, again, it’s been a while since I watched the first few episodes, obviously. A whole ten weeks or something. I thought that was in the early episodes, though, is they would kind of show the characters catching and skinning and actually making their meal.
VRAI: It definitely was in the first few episodes, which I guess is what made it weird for me that it drops off in the later ones. It’s also, to be fair… The biggest thing that made me distrust the show’s handling of Riko was a thing that was invented for the anime. And I feel like it’s only fair to the manga to say that.
There’s a big moment where Riko is about to face down a monster and, rather than fighting it on her own or fighting it with Reg, she gives the moment over to Reg and lets him save the day, and that’s not… That was an anime-only edition.
And I think it throws off a lot of what the manga seems to be trying to do, which is where Reg and Riko obviously work best together as a team and they need each other, and maybe they trade off moments where they each have the spotlight. But because the anime made that one decision and then ends the adaptation at that one point where it’s an arc focused on Reg, what we end up with is an anime—
DEE: [crosstalk] Well, Nanachi.
VRAI: Fair. On Nanachi, but one where Riko is unconscious for all of it. We end up with, just looking at the anime on its own, this great setup where Riko leads us into the abyss and it becomes this vehicle to explore Reg and his feelings and how he explores the world. Which I genuinely think isn’t what the manga’s going for. It’s just how the framing of the anime ended up creating the trajectory.
DEE: [hesitantly] I disagree.
VRAI: No, no. Yeah, please.
DEE: I see Riko’s story existing side-by-side with Reg’s. I think it… I think what they’re kind of going for—and I hadn’t really thought about it in these terms until I just kind of saw a throwaway reference or something on Twitter—just in reference to the characters and their roles, we see a lot of the cave raiders have these relics that they wield that make them powerful. It’s their weapons.
And when you look at the way the story goes and Riko and Reg’s survivalist training, it’s a lot of Riko coming up with a plan and then telling Reg what to do, and then him executing it. And I think that, in a way, Reg is technically a relic. So, I think the show is building it up in the sense that she’s sort of wielding him as a battle master, almost. Saying, “Go here. Do this. Attack this. This is how we are going to fight this thing.”
I really like that. And I know the idea of the boy being the fighter and the girl not being the fighter kind of falls into some gendered tropes, but, I mean, as someone who’s not a fighter, as someone who would, in that situation, be more of a planner, I like characters like that.
And so, if it… If there were no female fighters in the series, I would have a problem with it. Or if the series had set Riko up at the beginning as this physically ferocious character and then just sidelined her, I would have a problem with it. But I don’t think it did either of those, because Liza and Ozen are badass ladies. Who we know. And there’s this sense that if Riko can survive to adulthood, she could become that.
I really like her character. I like their relationship. And I feel like I have enough stories—I feel like there are other stories that exist with badass female fighters as the protagonist that I don’t necessarily feel like not having Riko be that is a problem.
VRAI: No, no. I guess the part… It’s not that Riko can’t fight. It’s that, in a show that’s only 12 episodes, we lose track of her entirely for almost a quarter of it.
DEE: That is unfortunate. Again, I think with Made in Abyss, one of the reasons why I give it a little bit of leeway in terms of that, is I know it’s an ongoing story. I know that this is not where anyone’s arc ends, that there’s still a lot going on with these characters.
So, the fact that Riko does kind of get sidelined for a little bit at the end doesn’t really bother me because I feel reasonably confident that she’s going to come back into focus. And if she does not, then yeah, I’ll come back and be like, “That sucked. They didn’t do right by this very good character.”
But I find her grit and determination incredibly inspiring, maybe especially because she’s not necessarily someone who can just throw fireballs or wield a giant axe. The fact that she doesn’t necessarily have superpowers and is still willing to go on this journey and overcome some debilitating things that happen to her. I really like her, and she’s, to me, kind of an inspirational character. I would love to have the amount of mental fortitude that Riko has.
VRAI: Yeah. There is never a moment when I stop loving Riko. There are moments when I think the way her actions are framed, the way it frames what she gets to do, don’t always treat her with the respect that I think that character deserves.
And part of this is me just looking back and saying, “All right, it could be years”—because there are only six volumes of the manga, it could be years before we get another anime [season]. So to a certain extent, I want to judge this based on “All right, what if this is the only 12 episodes we ever get? What if this is the only 12 episodes anybody ever gets to see?” And to that end, it’s… It’s kind of disappointing.
I have heard that the next arc of the manga does feature Riko more prominently. And, like I said, looking at it as a whole, what the manga is trying to do, swinging back and forth between giving each of our now-three protagonists a time in the spotlight, I think that’s fine.
DEE: Mm-hm. And I sincerely hope we get more of the anime, because I think it’s a beautiful production. And, again, I am just very invested in these characters. The finale got me to… I tear up somewhat regularly when I watch anime. It is very rare for me to just straight-up cry. And they done got me.
VRAI: [wavering] Nanachi!
PETER: That ending. Yeah. That was so bad.
DEE: I know. They done got me. So, I mean, again, it absolutely has problems and there are definitely some pitfalls I think you noted, Vrai, that it could fall into. I don’t feel like it has yet. So, it’s flawed. It absolutely has its problems. But to me there’s something to be said for a show that can pull me in like this and invest me emotionally, and I know that makes me less objective than I could be otherwise, but I really like it, and I want more of it.
VRAI: No, I… I don’t want to be an asshole who says “Stop enjoying this thing because it bothers me in some ways.” I get it. It’s very good at pulling a person in emotionally. It’s very good about doing a lot of things, and that’s… For me, personally, it makes me sad that now I can’t stop noticing these things in some ways.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah. I understand.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. There was some give-or-take in how the portrayals went, ’cause I’m aware of the thing you were talking about where Riko had more of a prominent role in that fight in the manga, but they also apparently cut out some problematic stuff as well.
For me, personally, what bothered me about the part when she was without Reg for a little while was it seemed like she didn’t have the same survival-savvy that she usually did. She falls into a couple of traps there and gets into a really bad situation… Where I was kind of hoping that Reg would just wake up and everything was fine because, of course, she knows what she was doing. I guess that didn’t happen.
VRAI: Yeah. It feels like the only time the anime ever punishes her for being impulsive and exploratory, and the only moment where it pulls that give-and-take between their personalities out of balance. Because there’s no reason for her to get up and move in that moment, at first.
PETER: Yeah. And she apparently knew about the creature, but she still fell into its trap. That kind of stuff. I think we can all agree we definitely would watch a season two, though. It was very good
VRAI: [crosstalk; excitedly] Season two! Season two! Season two!
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, we’re clearly all… I think we’ve talked about this for 15 minutes and we should probably move on. But clearly we’re all very invested in it. So, it’s gonna be my problematic recommendation of the season, for sure.
VRAI: For sure.
DEE: And I really like it. So I hope we do get more. Okay, we have to move on. Let’s get to our top show from the premieres, which was Princess Principal. I finished it. Vrai finished it. Peter?
PETER: I never got around to it. I know both of you were watching it, so I will watch it at some point, but I think I’m about halfway through right now.
DEE: Okay, well if you need to go get a drink and a snack, Vrai and I will take this one. Vrai, do you want to start?
VRAI: I love this show! I love this show so much. I think it has a few structural problems where the… It’s told achronologically, which doesn’t always work, and the ending is a little bit abrupt, because it’s 12 episodes, and it definitely bit off more than it could chew.
It’s still a satisfying ending on an emotional level, but it does… At least as far as completing an arc for Ange, I was okay with it. Because to me the show was always about Ange and Charlotte, and Ange learning to trust people, and so it got me like a big old sucker. And I love them. And I want these children to be happy.
But it does definitely have some pacing problems with the plot. But also: this anime was made for me. It’s got that very… I love when anime tackles Western things and Western aesthetics; and I like the spy stuff; I like the sort of Cloak and Dagger political-intrigue stuff.
I really liked all of the characters, and I liked that none of the underage characters had any fanservice attached to them, while the 20-year-old is the femme fatale. I liked the character-focused episodes. It’s a really cute yuri romance that I am here for. And, God, all my feelings.
So, yeah. This was definitely my pick of the season, moe sameface aside.
DEE: [laughs] Yeah, and we talked about the characters a bit at the midseason, so we don’t necessarily need to dig into that.
Yeah, I mostly agree. I ended up liking this one. I think if there was any series that was a surprise, it was Princess Principal. And, again, I don’t consider it a pleasant surprise because as soon as the first episode was over, I was like, “Oh, I think this is gonna be good.” And it continued to be.
It did its self-contained episodes very well, where it would focus in on one or two characters or one particular mission. I think it had a lot of semi-self-contained stories to tell about these people that were excellent. I wrote an article about one of the episodes, which was probably my favorite episode of any show this season, called “Loudly Laundry,” which is just 22 minutes of women supporting each other in the workplace, and it was wonderful.
I think where it struggled was in developing an overarching plot. You kept getting hints that there was gonna be one, but then there wasn’t ever really a clear antagonist. And then they threw in some new elements and forces in the final couple of episodes that kind of came out of nowhere.
VRAI: Definitely came out of nowhere.
DEE: And so as far as the overall narrative goes, I was—I ended the season going… If there’s not a season two, I feel like my feelings about this show will diminish over time because… I guess comparing it to Made in Abyss: Made in Abyss, I know that there’s more, so even though there were a few things about this season where I was like, “Oh, I didn’t love that,” I’m not fully ready to condemn it for that because it feels like the story could very easily remedy those things. It seems like it wants to remedy those things.
With Princess Principal, I don’t have that. So I do have to look at it as a complete, finished product. And in that sense, I finished the final episode liking the characters and happy for where the central character arc had gone, like you said, but very much with the sense that it felt like the first cour in a two-to-three-cour anime, where the first cour is about setting up the world and building the cast, and then the next cour or two would be following through on the ramifications of those early episodes and how these characters react to particular plot points or outside forces or things like that.
And so my final feeling was that it feels kind of… I feel about this one like I felt about Yuri on Ice. It feels unfinished. And so I’m sitting here like, “That was a great first season. Damn well better be a first season.”
That having been said, overall, I really liked it, even if the ending didn’t quite leave me as satisfied as I wanted it to. Very good. Would happily recommend it. Probably will be recommending it in various posts over the next few weeks. So, yeah. I agree with you there.
VRAI: Yeah. It’s definitely a case where, to me, character investment will always trump plot investment, but that doesn’t mean… You’re completely correct. It sets up this political intrigue that it never really goes anywhere with. And then the finale is like, [hurriedly] “Oh, fuck! Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, fuck! We have to do something with this to have a big final setpiece.”
VRAI: “Oh God. What do?” So it does… It definitely falls down on that front, and for me, I was so invested in that central romance and also in the ensemble cast becoming this found family, and I felt—
DEE: [crosstalk] I loved the cast.
VRAI: —like they did those elements really well.
DEE: It did. I feel like I zoomed in a little bit on the things I was left wanting more with at the very last episode. Again, the fact that I want more says something about the quality of the show and characters. I love them.
Even the fanservice in this show… It was fine. I thought it was kind of funny, ’cause it’d be Dorothy fluffing up her boobs so she could go distract a guard, and I kind of appreciate that cheeky, lighthearted—fictional characters don’t have agency, but insomuch as fictional characters can have agency, Dorothy was clearly fine with this. She was enjoying herself. And so it did not bother me, and there were moments where I honestly thought it was a fun, charming addition to the story.
VRAI: And it definitely helps, I think, that nobody ever touches her. Nobody… It’s always just the boobtastic dress. She flirts for a little bit, and then they get on with the mission. There’s never any sense that she’s in danger.
DEE: No. No, there’s never that sense. She’s always very much… Again, insomuch as a fictional character can have control, she is very much in control of the situation she is in. So, I… yeah. There’s an episode later where Chise’s talking about Dorothy’s “adult tactics,” and I thought it was funny. It got a chuckle out of me.
So, yeah. Overall, I really liked PrinPal, and I hope we get more at some point, ’cause there’s definitely more they could do there, I think.
VRAI: For sure.
PETER: 3Hz is two-for-two now, so hopefully every other season we’ll get a fun action yuri series with really good art direction.
VRAI: Yes, please.
DEE: I would be down for that. And good music, too. Geez, both of those shows have some good soundtracks.
That takes us to the end of the new shows for the summer season. We are definitely over time, but I don’t even care.
VRAI: [laughs] Go, go!
DEE: Let’s real quick… I think most of the sequels and carryovers, I think I’m the only person who watched them. So, we can go over these real quickly. I’ll save My Hero Academia for last, ’cause, Peter, I know you’ve been keeping up with that one as well.
Just real quick, the ones I watched… I watched Saiyuki Reload Blast because I am Saiyuki trash. I love that franchise. I got fully invested in this new arc, and I’m super bummed that I’m probably gonna have to wait another ten years for Kazuya Minekura to write enough manga for there to be more story to tell.
I liked it. I can only recommend it to people who have been a part of the Saiyuki franchise in the past and are invested and like it. If you are, then you’ll get a lot of good stuff out of this season, especially the back half was quite good. The animation wasn’t great, but Saiyuki‘s tough to animate because the character designs are so detailed.
VRAI: Those lumpy faces.
DEE: Yeah, and they’re very detailed, and that can make it trickier to do the animation. Especially for a pretty new studio. I forget the studio’s name, but this was kind of their first major project, I think.
But, yeah. If you are familiar with Saiyuki, if you liked it in the past, 100% watch the new season. Not a lot of… I will say Saiyuki does not have a great track record with female characters. There is a badass lady priest in this season who I fucking love. So it even gets some feminist-friendly points for that coming into it, which I’m happy to report.
And that’s really all I have to say about Saiyuki. I could gush. Again, I have a lot of… I have ten years of built-in affection for that franchise. But I don’t need to get into that here.
Other shows… I caught up with Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul. The first three-quarters were really good; were solid at worst and excellent at best. Just a really fun action-fantasy series with a nice, gender-balanced cast. And the last arc has been running off the rails. I haven’t actually finished it. I’m two episodes from the end, watching it with my roommate, and we just didn’t have time this weekend to wrap it up.
I have not heard good things. If it somehow brings things together, you know, I’ll throw it into the write-up recommendation post we do. I have a feeling that will not happen, but we’ll see. It’s kind of going in this direction where they’re trying to make me like the guy who was responsible for some genocide, and it started off like an okay subplot where it was like the main character has feelings for a guy she should not have feelings for, and I’m like, “Okay, you can do some cool stuff with that.” And then it kind of got to the point where I get the sense they want me to like him, and it’s not happening.
So, that’s a big mark against it at this point. Again, we’ll see how it wraps up, but…
PETER: That actually contextualizes a lot of the complaints that I’ve been hearing recently.
DEE: Oh, good. Yeah, I have not heard good things about the very, very end of it. There was a moment about three-quarters of the way through when things started running off the rails, where my roommate and I were watching it and getting kind of annoyed, and I was like, “Nice boyfriend you got there. Shame about the genocide, though.” [cracking up] Yeah, that’s kind of a dealbreaker!
It’s… yeah, it’s gonna end up being the biggest disappointment of the season, honestly, because the first half was so good and so fun and I was so ready to sing its praises. But we’ll see. I don’t want to condemn it ’cause I haven’t actually seen the finale, but I have a feeling it’s not gonna end well.
And then the other one I watched that neither of you saw was Sakura Quest, which was really good. It was consistently good. I think it got better almost episode-to-episode. It improved just as you got to know the cast and got a better feel for what the story was doing.
It is… I wrote an article about it, actually, so there’s my shameless plug. It’s kind of about people who don’t get their dream jobs, and what your life looks like after that. And how you can find happiness and satisfaction even if you don’t live out that childhood dream of being a famous actress or a racecar driver or a singer or whatever. And I really liked that about it.
I liked the way it developed its cast and the town and a lot of the little story arcs for each of the characters. There’s some really excellent—I mean, I don’t think I have any—I don’t think there’s any flags. I don’t think there was really any fanservice. There might have been a couple of questionably framed shots here and there, but overall it handled its five female leads who have this really nice, important friendship with each other. I think it handled it really well.
I think it was a good show, and I was kind of lukewarm on it at the midway point, and now I’m much warmer on it, clearly. I would recommend it happily to any of our listeners. I think it’s a good series, for sure.
PETER: Then I’ll try checking it out. I really wanted to engage with it. I feel like it’s doing a lot of cool things, just based on the articles I’ve read. Yours, and also Nick Creamer’s as well. He wrote a really good one about how it’s kind of about a lot of economic issues in Japan, and what a struggle it is to live out in these dying rural areas; sort of where they can go, what their future is. Which I think is a really important thing for a show to be about.
DEE: Yeah, and the second half explores that really well, too.
PETER: Yeah, I definitely felt… Even in the few episodes I saw, what you were talking about in your piece about them hitting these walls in their careers and trying to figure out what to do with their lives. So it’s about a lot of really good stuff, but I just could not connect to the characters.
DEE: It took a while. I think it was really not until a few episodes into the second half when I started realizing I was invested in them, and then the finale done got me. I teared up a little bit at the very end. They snuck up on me. It was an excellent finale.
I think the last episode was… I think a lot of shows this season, even the ones I really liked, like Princess Principal as an example, had kind of lackluster finales. Sakura Quest nailed its ending. It was really good. So, that’s probably part of the reason I’m so high on it at this point, too, is it was just consistent and good and ended well.
PETER: Thank you, P.A. Works.
DEE: Yeah, thank you, P.A. Works. Another great production. Kind of snuck up on me, and I ended up liking it a lot.
Okay, last sequel. Peter and I are both watching this one. My Hero Academia. We talked about this at the end of our spring retrospective, and I guess we’ll give it a few minutes here as well. Yeah, we’re just gonna be hopelessly over time. Folks at home, if you need to go get a drink and a snack, feel free.
DEE: Come back. Come back when you’re ready. We’ll still be here.
VRAI: Yeah, you kids enjoy. All I know about My Hero Academia is that I am apparently the fancy boy, according to an internet quiz.
DEE: Oh, Aoyama?
DEE: Whee! Aoyama’s fun. Peter, I’ve been talking for a lot. Why don’t you get us started with My Hero Academia?
PETER: Okay. Well, my reaction to it recently… I think this is where the story has really come to the part of it that makes it probably one of the best shounen that’s ever been written. Although right now I’m catching up on Hunter x Hunter and finally reading all of One Piece, so I’m beginning to see how heavy those three are. Those are definitely the top three for me.
My Hero definitely, I think, wins when it comes to… It’s definitely one of the top two when it comes to female characterization. Although there are some… If I had to identify three weaknesses to the series, I would say number one is Mineta. The existence of Mineta.
DEE: Oh, God, yes.
PETER: Then number two is that the female characters don’t really get combat roles. None of them really have a combat-related power and most of them are kind of support heroes.
DEE: Well, and some of them do have combat-related powers and they’re not really treated that way. I think Momo’s power of being able to pull weapons out of your body is pretty combat-oriented, but they don’t necessarily treat it in that regard. I think…
PETER: She’s definitely a strategist, though.
DEE: Yeah. I think Ochaco has proven in this arc that she can be a combat-oriented character. I mean, I agree with you, but I also think there’s kind of this sense of: they don’t necessarily give them that opportunity. I mean, that one girl can… Her skin secretes acid. That’s pretty combat-oriented to me.
PETER: She never uses it that way, right?
DEE: No, she doesn’t!
PETER: I mean, I like to joke that Momo has Bakugo’s power built-in except she can just secrete napalm from her body and use Bakugo’s power, thus making her Bakugo-Plus. But she never does that, so… I don’t know what the inherent difficulties of that are, or what.
But number three was brought up, I just noticed recently, in an article by Marian, who wrote that there’s really no female mentors in the series.
DEE: Yeah, I read that too. I think that by the time this podcast goes live, that should be on the links post that went up this past week, so definitely check that out if you’re interested. It’s a really good article.
VRAI: [crosstalk] I definitely put it in there, yeah.
PETER: Yeah, and some of these things do change later on, but we can only really talk about what is…
DEE: Though it is good to know that those things do change. I think that’s important.
PETER: Some of them for better or worse. I’ll… Mild spoilers. They introduce some more female heroes later on, but it’s a squad of catgirls.
DEE: Of course it is.
PETER: Which is not super-positive. I think some of the female [characters] get stronger moments. There is one really possibly good female mentor that’s introduced later on that I’m just discovering myself deeper into the manga. But that might not be until season four.
I do think that this season gave a lot of the girls their high moments. I have mixed feelings about the Ochaco fight, but I think that’s definitely a lot more than female characters have gotten in any other of the top shounen series. And I liked Momo’s redemption as well. I thought that was a very important moment for that character.
DEE: Yeah. It was nice having a character who came in expected to do really well and then struggled early on and kind of lost her confidence. Because I can relate to that a little bit. That was basically me in grad school.
So, I appreciate having that character, and sort of the pay-it-forward attitude of the series in terms of: somebody will inspire one person, and then that person will inspire somebody else. And so the way that arc played with that element of the story and that sense of heroism being something that’s almost contagious… I liked it. I liked that support network that was developed there. And Momo kind of re—what’s the word? Kind of re-establishing herself as a hero. As someone who can be a hero.
Yeah, I think the series handles its female characters pretty well. I mean, it’s not perfect, but I agree, it’s a marked improvement on a lot of series within this genre. And even series outside of it, truthfully.
And then there’s shit like Mineta. Where I’m like, “Why are you even here?” Every time he shows up, it’s that piano concerto and the slamming on the keys again. It’s… This season, I cooled a little bit on this arc. I think I liked the first half of this season two a little bit better.
PETER: The sports festival is really good.
DEE: The sports festival is really good. And this past stretch had its moments, but I don’t think I liked it quite as much as the previous stuff. But I’ve heard that the arc after this most recent one is also really good.
PETER: Yeah, it definitely ended in kind of an awkward spot. I’m glad they hit where they did in the last episode. I think that’s the best possible place they could have ended it without launching into the next one.
DEE: Yeah. It was a strong final episode, and there were definitely some good moments throughout. It’s just that, again, sometimes you do have to wade through a little bit of crap to get there. Overall, though, I really like it.
I think it is starting to bug me a little bit that the older female characters are all sexy. And, God, there’s this really bad conversation in one episode where two of them get into this stereotypical cat-fight of a younger woman and an older woman that I just hated. I remember that ended and I was like—’cause it was the cold open, essentially, and I was like, “Man, this episode better redeem itself, ’cause that was some shit!” And then the episode ended up being pretty solid, so I was like, “Okay, well, I guess you’re back in my good graces, My Hero.”
Overall, I really love the cast. It’s one of those… Kind of like Made in Abyss, where when those jarring moments happen, you’re like, “Oh, but you’re so close to being practically perfect.”
PETER: Yeah. I think one of the ways you can really tell a shounen is good is if you can just immediately identify what its major emotional narrative theme is, and with My Hero, I definitely think it’s about being a good role model; an inspiration.
And this is where I really think it just kicks Marvel comics and DC comics’ asses, where especially with Superman and All Might, where it’s kind of like… They do a lot of stuff with Superman not being able to be everywhere at all times. So, he can’t save everyone despite the fact that he has godlike power. And I felt like that’s… I’ve read some interesting comics that were about that.
But with All Might, I’ve never seen them really focus on how important it is that he be an inspirational figure and inspire others to heroism so that his influence can be felt where he can never be. In the story, Todoroki, Bakugo, and Deku all have in common that they idolized All Might as a kid, and that’s why they’re becoming heroes now.
And I think that narrative that you have to be a good role model and make sure that the next generation inherits these good ideals from you, if not your abilities, is a really important thing to say. And I think that is My Hero.
DEE: Yeah. I agree. I… Yeah. Again, there’s a lot of things I really like about this show, so I hope it can keep improving on those and maybe some of those sour notes can maybe go away a little bit. Overall, I like it. And it’s tough for me to get into long-running shounen, and My Hero Academia definitely has the character chops to endear me to it, so yeah.
PETER: It helps that it’s happening now, too.
DEE: Yeah, so I don’t have to look at a hundred episodes and go, “Oh boy. How do I get involved in this?” But yeah. It’s good. Do we have anything else we wanna say about that one?
PETER: It’s good.
DEE: Yeah. It’s a good show. Again, it’s not without its problems, so, you know, it’s a problematic rec, which is what we gave it last season, and that’s continued to hold true. But there’s a lot of good from that too. So that’s good to see.
That’s the end of my list. Do you guys have anything else you want to say about these shows? I mean, we’ve already gone an hour and a half. We might as well just keep talking.
VRAI: [laughs] We just live here now. No, yeah, like I said, everything I finished, I liked to loved. So, that’s a win for me. But it does help that I only watched four shows, so I can see why you guys found this kind of a disappointing season on the whole.
DEE: It was a bit of a rollercoaster. Yeah.
PETER: Yeah. I felt like I watched a lot this season because none of the shows really stood out so much that it reflected… If there’s some really good shows, I don’t feel bad about dropping other shows, or it makes me more inclined to drop other shows, ’cause I’m not getting the same emotional return. But I felt like this season was very lateral. So, I ended up watching a lot of stuff, I guess, to kind of fill the vacancy.
DEE: Yeah, I had a similar reaction in point. And then there were shows like 18if or The Reflection where it was like, “Well this has potential, so I’m gonna stick with it to see if it lives up to that.” And that was a bit of a mixed bag. And not complete either, since we haven’t seen the end of The Reflection yet.
But overall, it was fine. There were some strong showings, I think. So that’s nice. Fall is looking to be pretty intense. My watchlist might just explode from the weight of the number of shows that are going to be on it. So, we have that to look forward to for sure.
PETER: It’s stacked.
DEE: We’ll be hitting you up with premiere reviews. Gosh, probably by the time this goes up, we will be well into the premiere reviews, so y’all—
VRAI: [crosstalk] I will be in Hell. Ugh.
DEE: [positively] Well, we’ll be in Hell together. [laughs]
VRAI: That’s true. I’ll have you with me in the trenches.
DEE: Yes. We’ll keep each other going through the good and the bad. Hopefully more good than bad.
I think that’s gonna do it for us, yeah? Okay. That brings us to the end of another seasonal podcast then. I hope you got your bang for your buck, and we didn’t talk your ear off there.
If you enjoyed this episode of Chatty AF, we’d love it if you’d tell your friends or leave a nice review for us on iTunes. And if you really enjoyed it and want to help us make more episodes, please consider tossing a dollar or more to our Patreon each month. Your support really does go a long way towards making Anime Feminist happen, both in print and in your earbuds.
If you’re interested in more from the team and our contributors, please check us out at www.animefeminist.com, on Facebook @animefem, on Tumblr @animefeminist, and on Twitter @animefeminist.
And that is the show. Thanks for listening, AniFam! Let us know what you thought about the summer series in the comments, and we will talk to you again next week.
Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.