Chatty AF 31: Fall 2017 anime mid-season check-in (WITH TRANSCRIPT)

By: Anime Feminist November 19, 20172 Comments

Vrai, Caitlin, and Peter check in with 18 anime of our Fall 2017 premiere digest. Listen to find out our biggest surprises, disappointments, and guilty pleasures of the season along with our top recommended sequels!

SPOILERS: for most of the shows named

0:00:14 Intros
0:07:35 Garo -Vanishing Line-
0:10:48 TWOCAR
0:12:59 Juni Taisen: Zodiac War
0:20:25 Infini-T Force
0:20:34 Blend-S
0:22:27 Anime-Gataris
0:31:07 Tsuki-Pro
0:31:22 Just Because!
0:33:32 Dynamic Chord
0:33:32 Black Clover
0:38:41 URAHARA
0:44:41 Kino’s Journey
0:51:54 Girl’s Last Tour
0:58:22 Recovery of an MMO Junkie
1:08:08 Code:Realize
1:14:15 Land of the Lustrous
1:26:09 The Ancient Magus’ Bride
1:33:24 Outro

Recorded Sunday 12th November 2017

Music: Open Those Bright Eyes by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. My name is Vrai Kaiser. I’m a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist. You can find me on Twitter @WriterVrai or cohosting another podcast @trashpod.

CAITLIN: Hi, I’m Caitlin. I am a contributor and editor for Anime Feminist, as well as running my own blog, I Have a Heroine Problem.

PETER: I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an Associate Features Editor at Crunchyroll and a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist.

VRAI: And this time, we have gotten together to do our usual midseason check-in. For those of you who are just joining us for the first time, now that the anime season has generally had time enough to air six episodes of every show—I don’t think any of us are watching anything that’s only aired five—we are checking in with our mid-show thoughts and impressions and if it’s the same or different from the premiere reviews that we published on Anime Feminist. 

Neither of you were involved in the three-episode check-in that we did on the site as a sort of text roundtable. That was Amelia and Dee. So if you want to check their opinions a couple episodes back, you can do that on our site as well. 

I’m going to be going up our list of Red Flags, Yellow Flags, Harmless, Feminist Potential, Feminist Themes. We’ll go from the bottom up, and we’ll start with the lowest show that people are watching.

I was watching Konohana Kitan, which is better known as the yuri fox girl show. I wound up dropping it after five episodes. I wanted to give it a shot because it seemed… you know, it’s…


VRAI: Yeah. No, yeah, that is entirely why.


VRAI: That is entirely why. You gotta call me out like this. [laughs] And it is, for the most part, pretty harmless. The trouble with it is that it opens with a forced strip and bathing scene, because she gets to the bathhouse and they take her in and get her her uniform and clean her up to start working at the job, which of course involves holding her down, tearing off her clothes and scrubbing her against her will, rather than telling her to do it herself, because this is fun. [sarcastic] This is a fun, healing-type show.

It does kinda leave a sour taste in your mouth, but after that, it does level out and become extremely functional. The couples are cute. There’s a tomboy character and sort of a bishoujo character, who’s sort of haughty but also sparkly. 

And there’s actually a nice thing in episode three where it actually handles a sexual harassment subplot pretty well. The bishoujo girl gets felt up and made uncomfortable by one of the patrons, and all of the other female members of staff come and support her and throw the guy out and make sure to comfort her afterwards and tell her it wasn’t her fault. And that’s legitimately nice. I liked that episode.

PETER: Was not expecting that kind of subplot out of that show, actually. That’s pretty good.

CAITLIN: Yeah, I sort of dismissed it as standard yuri for guys.

VRAI: It kind of is, is the thing. There will be standouts like that, and like most BL and yuri shows the secondary couple is always way more interesting than the main one, so anything I saw that was revolving around those two was pretty good. There’s an episode that’s—I swear to God—an homage to the “Nanami’s Egg” episode of Utena, which is weird.

CAITLIN: [laughs]

VRAI: But it also does the thing that yuri made for men does—which is extra weird and sad because I believe this manga was written by a woman—in that the camera takes a lot of time and excuses to expose the female characters’ bodies.

[sarcastic] It’s just a coincidence that this takes place in an onsen, so all of the important emotional conversations should take place in the hot spring, you guys. It’s a total coincidence that that happens.

But that nudity and eroticism is never in service of their feelings for each other. This is very chaste yuri, and I hate that disjunction because it makes it feel very fetishistic, so it bummed me out. And then by episode five, the show was starting to get away from cute couples’ shenanigans and introducing wacky comedy side characters, at which point I kinda noped out.

PETER: Yeah, it seemed like its formula was work by day—it’s a day cycle—and at the end of the day they all bathe and then they talk and that kind of expands upon the events that happened during the day. But it’s basically a big “all of them are naked” scene.

CAITLIN: Right. Because chilling out together and talking in the bath is not… It’s not totally unreasonable, but if it’s the only gazey part of the show, then…

VRAI: Yeah, it definitely feels like an excuse for the gaze, rather than this is just a slice-of-life thing.

PETER: I think you could definitely tell, just based on how the camera’s handling it. There’s some scenes where they’re all in the water, so you only see them from the neck up really and everything else is indistinct. And then there’s the shows where some of them are sitting out of the water, or for some reason the rest of them are risen out just enough so you can see their cleavage or something like that. 

I remember the last episode of Gamers! did that, where they channeled all of the fanservice for the entire show into that last episode when they were in the onsen and the camera just spent like zero time on the characters’ faces while they had a four-minute conversation. So, there’s degrees. I basically stopped watching after episode one, but I was reminded of the Gamers! scene because of just where the camera was going the entire time.

VRAI: Yeah. It’s not the worst thing. Honestly, the gazey bits were background enough that when the show was doing its rom-com thing I was able to put it aside, but I was just so Not Here for any of the other cast members. 

But if there is any other yuri that you are looking for—and this is not a quality example—this is the show you watch if you have watched all the other yuri on the planet and you desperately need another yuri show to watch this season! It’s fine. It’s functional.

PETER: A completionist, is what you’re saying.

VRAI: Yep.

PETER: Gotta get all those…

VRAI: That’s all I’ve got on this one.

CAITLIN: And that is enough for a lot of people I know to have them watch it. They just need gay girls and that’s really the main requirement for them.

VRAI: Yeah. And, well, I will say we put it initially in the Red Flags because of that forced strip scene in the first episode. I would say it moves up to Yellow Flags. The gazey camera is still an issue, and, like I said, it bothers me because it’s coupled with a very chaste romance, so it feels like it’s sexualizing the girls without honoring their sexuality. But it’s not as gross as that first episode has the feels of.

CAITLIN: Good to know.

VRAI: And Peter, you are the only one watching Garo: Vanishing Line, yes?

PETER: I believe so, yes. I’m not up to current right now, so I don’t have the very up-to-the-date information, but I think if you watched episode one, which I think all of us did, you pretty much got a good idea of—

VRAI: [crosstalk] I didn’t…

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I did not.

PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, you didn’t? Okay. Well then, never mind. It’s a very ‘90s action anime, which is very weird. Garo is a huge franchise of mostly unrelated stories. There’s a tokusatsu element and an anime element, and all the animes are only very tangentially related by, like, there’s always a knight and a summoner and one recurring character, Zaruba, who is voiced by the guy who sang “Head Cha-La” in Dragon Ball Z

VRAI: Nice!

PETER: Always. Yeah, he’s the one recurring character with the same voice actor each time. Very weird. Last one was more fantasy, Garo: The Animation. This one is leaning really heavily into… The main character’s a huge, meaty guy, and he rides a talking motorcycle, and there’s also a lot of very voluptuous women in it. I thought you wrote the summary of the first episode, Vrai.

VRAI: I did. I did, yeah. And my experience with it was… That sort of ‘90s meathead-and-kid dynamic is one that I like, and there were some fun ‘90s things in there and some nice animation, but, boy, was it awfully misogynistic to every female character it introduced.

CAITLIN: That’s what I’ve heard.

VRAI: Is that still true?

PETER: As far as gaze, yes. They introduce—her name escapes me—another character who’s like a… She has interactions with Sophie, which aren’t too bad from my perception, and I feel like the series is trying to be pretty self-aware. 

They have one episode where they go to a ball, and Sword is wearing a button-up shirt, but it’s like the buttons are about to pop off. I don’t know if you’ve seen the screenshot. It’s the thing where the buttons stretch but you can see his skin between each button because the shirt can’t contain all of his muscles.


PETER: And recently, they got invited into his man cave, which, of course, there’s female pin-ups on the walls and he’s got a punching bag and a weight set in his room.

VRAI: Yeah, holy shit, does the drooly perv thing not hold up well. [heaves a shuddering sigh]

PETER: Yeah, he still does that. Yeah. The whole praying to Buddha—

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] It’s like a “Remember when men were men” sort of thing?

PETER: Yeah. I feel like it’s trying to be tongue-in-cheek, but they could’ve just successfully probably not put it in and it would’ve been just as good. I’m mostly in it for the action and some of the goofy stuff. But yeah, basically if you didn’t like what you saw in the first episode, then that’s the whole ride.

VRAI: Yeah, it’s a shame because it feels like it wants to be a ‘90s throwback, but rather than taking the things that were good about the ‘90s show and updating the parts that have aged poorly, it just brought it all forward.

PETER: Mm-hm.

VRAI: Gotcha. So, that is all of our Red Flags that people are actually watching. 

That moves us up into our Yellow Flags, the first of which was Two Car, which I dropped after two episodes, and I was the only one watching it. I talked about this more in depth in our three-episode check-in post, so I’ll keep it brief here. 

Basically, it has a really big cast that’s pretty samey, the camera’s still super gazey, and while I thought that the two main characters having a crush on their teacher wouldn’t be an issue because they shipped him off in the first episode, then it turns out that the prize for the girls winning the Grand Prix is getting to go and compete on the Isle of Man, where their teacher went—

CAITLIN: [crosstalk; jeering] Boo!

VRAI: —which meant I was going to have to deal with this for a long-ass time, and I wasn’t here for that.

CAITLIN: Boo! It’s always disappointing, because every time a sports show with girls comes out, I’m like, “Maybe this will be the sports show featuring women that I’ve been waiting for, where it’s not explicitly for men and it’s not super heteronormative, fanservicey, or moe or something like that.” And every single time, I’m disappointed. Every single time.

VRAI: There was enough in the first episode that put me over to the second one, and then I just realized that this would only be pain. This was only pain.


PETER: Hopefully we’ll get a Teppu anime at some point.

CAITLIN: [faintly] Someday. Someday.

PETER: But Two Car, it gave me kind of Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club vibes, and that anime put me to sleep. You said all the characters kinda looked the same?

VRAI: Well, it’s this thing where all of the other racers have a gimmick, so naturally the first thing they do is break up all of the racing teams into separate parts so you can’t tell them apart by their gimmick anymore and then don’t distinguish their personalities, so you have all these characters on screen, and it’s like, “Who the fuck are you people?”

PETER: Oh, great.

VRAI: Yeah. Good choices. So, that’s Two Car. Next is Juni Taisen, which you and I are both watching, Peter.


VRAI: It’s so dumb!

PETER: It is. It’s good. [laughs]

CAITLIN: You guys talk about that show so much in the chat that I had a dream about it the other night, and I have not watched a single minute of it. But somehow, I’m dreaming about it.

VRAI: [laughing] It’s so dumb!

PETER: It’s very honest, I guess, with what it is. For the first three episodes, it had this rote formula where you got introduced to the first character, they gave you the backstory, and then that character gets killed at the end of the episode. I knew they would mix it up eventually, but it kind of… 

All the characters they introduced were, I think, the ones that people liked, so they’re rapidly killing off all the characters that anyone would like for any reason. I know a lot of people were fans of Boar, just because she was a hot yandere woman, or Monkey because—

VRAI: [crosstalk] She had a quality aesthetic.

PETER: Yeah. Or Monkey, because Monkey was the only person who was in any way compassionate or human. And maybe Niwa, because she was a homicidal Ochaco from My Hero Academia. But—

VRAI: You’re right, this show has killed off the majority of its women, early on. [laughs]

PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, is that it actually? I think that’s it.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Thank you, Nisio Isin.

VRAI: [sarcastic] Thanks for that.

PETER: Are there any women left? I think that was it.

VRAI: There’s Tiger. There’s Tiger.

PETER: Oh, yeah, Tiger. Everybody likes Tiger, of course.

VRAI: She’s fun. She’s very fun. She’s also a drunk woman in a bikini and very little else.


VRAI: [crosstalk] But I like her.

PETER: [crosstalk] Gosh, she’s voiced by somebody interesting, too. I forgot. This actually has some very interesting voice actors in it. I love that the psychotic bunny is voiced by Bakugo. That is just the best.

VRAI: Empowered bunny man is the best anything ever! And I love him.

CAITLIN: [laughs]

PETER: Yeah, the bunny… That was just a brilliant character design, I think.

CAITLIN: That part, I… [falls into laughter]

VRAI: He’s so good! He’s so good! He’s so good.

PETER: My favorite part of the opening is they cycle through a bunch of snapshots, and one of them is a pair of high heels and you’re not sure if that’s Boar or Bunny. You have no idea. It’s just glimmering red heels on feet, and then it could pass on to somebody else and you never know. I can’t remember if one of them is specifically wearing red or black.

VRAI: Hard to tell since, again, they do kill Boar off really early. [laughs]

PETER: Yeah. Obviously, the series is out to do something, but at this point it’s hard to say what it’s out to do.

VRAI: It is trying to say a thing about war, very clumsily, in fact, so clumsily that it doesn’t bother me that it thinks it’s deep. It’s more I wanna pat it on its head and say, “Oh! Oh, you think you’re people. You think I’m here for your deep statements about humanity and the nature of war, and not to watch these very stylish, silly character designs murder each other in creative ways. That’s cute.”


PETER: The fights and character interactions I think have been interesting. I don’t think it’s been awful, as far as the fanservice thing is.

VRAI: I mean… the—

PETER: The first episode and now Tiger, I think, are the worst it’s gotten.

VRAI: Well, it’s interesting because the women are definitely more sexualized than the men, but it feels less obtrusive because the male designs are also really outlandish. Not just empowered bunny man, but the designs are all very stylish and outlandish, and a lot of them feel deliberately sexual, muscle-y, whatever.

PETER: Yeah. And with Bird, you almost get the feeling that her entire costume was just to make people think that she didn’t know what she was doing. Although, with Tiger, you definitely got some camera angles.

VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah. Oh, for sure.

PETER: [crosstalk] Like when she went on the horse? Yeah.

VRAI: I have seen her cameltoe in greatly drawn detail.

PETER: Yeah. But I don’t know. It’s goofy.

VRAI: It is kind of a bummer that as of the halfway point, they do seem to be killing off their cast in reverse zodiac order, which kills the tension a little bit.

PETER: Yeah, so if the next episode, if Snake and Dragon… I think Dragon’s gonna try to destroy Snake’s body or something so they both end up going up or something. If that happens, it’s pretty much like the ending has been predetermined.

VRAI: Which is a bummer because Nezumi is a piece of shit and I hate him.

PETER: Yeah. I mean—

VRAI: He’s the most annoying teen character ever.

PETER: Yeah, he’s definitely setting him up to have some sort of really crazy power at this point, too, because he seems to be able to teleport or something. A bunch of people who’ve met him have said they remember him, and he spends a lot of time sleeping, so I think he has dream powers or something. 

So, I’m thinking the whole setup is that Nezumi has some sort of obscene power that gives him a huge advantage and he was gonna win with that the whole time. Also, he was asking after Sheep, so I’m pretty sure he’s after Sheep’s old-timer grenade, and that’s how he’s gonna take out Ox at the end or something like that.

VRAI: I’m less concerned about how he’s gonna do it as the fact that he’s had a lot of long monologues about how everybody who’s striving for ceasefire and peace is a fucking moron because fighting is the only way that the world can change, which… okay. It’s like one of those Big Lebowski things where you’re not wrong; you’re just an asshole.

PETER: Yeah. I did think what he was saying to Horse, I kind of agreed with. He basically said, “Just hiding in the safe, you’re not gonna get anything done. You’re just gonna die.” And he said, “Those corpses running around seem more alive than you are.” Just from a perspective of creating change, not necessarily even fighting, I was like, “That’s pretty good.” But his whole argument with Monkey was not endearing. [laughs]

CAITLIN: I have a question.

VRAI: [crosstalk] All of these characters are soldiers! Yes, please go on.

CAITLIN: I have a question. Do the subtitles for this show mix the Japanese words and the English words, or are you guys just…?

VRAI: Yes, it’s weird.

CAITLIN: That doesn’t… That is irritating. [Laughs]

PETER: I don’t know. They…

VRAI: [crosstalk] It’s kind of inconsistent.

PETER: Yeah, I think some of the early names for them were like Hare instead of Rabbit. And you hear him saying Usagi, but then they call him Rabbit now.

VRAI: [crosstalk] No, it’s just straight inconsistent in some episodes! [laughs]

CAITLIN: [bewildered] Why?

PETER: Yeah. I don’t know.

CAITLIN: [whimpers]

PETER: [laughs] I don’t even notice it, really.

CAITLIN: If I were watching that show, that would probably irritate me so much. I would have to walk away. I don’t know.

VRAI: It doesn’t help that also all the characters are puns on their sign. Like the monkey warrior’s name is Sharyu. The rat warrior’s name is actually Nezumi. But then also, they sometimes refer to them by their zodiac names—by the Japanese one. I don’t know what’s going on with the subtitle team, but it’s happening.

PETER: Yeah, Bird is named Niwatori; Boar was Inounoshishi. So, all of them have animal names.

CAITLIN: Those are just straight-up the names of the…

PETER: Yep. Sharyu’s probably the most mix-up they got, which is not much.

VRAI: [whispers] Not much.

CAITLIN: All right.

VRAI: We’ve talked too much about these beautiful dumb show that is the season garbage fire. [laughs]

CAITLIN: [laughs]

VRAI: If you’re here for garbage, you’ll like this.

CAITLIN: All right.

VRAI: None of you are watching Infini-T Force, right?

PETER: [crosstalk] Nope.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Nah.

VRAI: The show that’s a crossover that nobody knows the fanfic for?



PETER: I didn’t know.

VRAI: Peter, you’re watching Blend-S, yes?

PETER: A bit. I’ve been dealing with a lot of clips. I can’t really say that I’ve watched a full episode.


VRAI: Shall we skip over it, then, because that—

CAITLIN: Have you been making all the memes?

PETER: Oh, yeah. I definitely made an article which was basically just 20 Blend-S memes in a row, and it was pretty popular. I might do a part two, just based off of all the responses I got, which were “Just clip more of them.” [Laughs] Everybody just linked me to their tweet of their own.

CAITLIN: Right. I haven’t seen any discussion of the actual show. Just memes.

PETER: I can talk about what it’s about, I guess.

VRAI: [crosstalk] Honestly, um…

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I mean I watched the first episode for the preview guide.

PETER: Yeah.

VRAI: I know that Dee was watching it. You can check in with her opinions of it at the three-episode mark. It seems like a show that I don’t want to get into too much on half-knowledge because it seems like it’s doing some neat, interesting things and also some “Oh, God, bad” things.

PETER: Yeah.

VRAI: Like having the main ship be a grown-ass adult and a 16-year-old.

PETER:I don’t know if she’s actually… I was gonna say that my main problem with it is the guy who owns the store is very leery at all of the girls. But I don’t know if there’s any sort of returned affection by any of the girls toward him.

CAITLIN: That’s still…

PETER: [crosstalk] I’m just saying I wouldn’t call it a ship.

CAITLIN: I mean a 25-year-old should not be hitting on a 16-year-old.

PETER: Yeah.

VRAI: Like I said, I think at this point I would like to discuss Blend-S maybe for the season finale, but since we don’t know, I don’t wanna tell tales out of school, you know.

CAITLIN: Right. Okay, that’s fair.

VRAI: So, let’s table that for now. Listeners, please go check out the three-episode check-in roundtable and get at least some idea of whether the show is for you. Which brings us to Anime-Gataris, which I think I am the only one watching, yes?



VRAI: So, this show is cute. It’s also just aggressively positive to the point where it’s a little annoying sometimes.


It’s an Anime Club show, and sometimes it’s really on point at capturing that boundless, uncomplicated enthusiasm you have for just discovering anime and anime fandom in a big new way when you’re in high school and have some disposable income, and all the new ways that you can like it. It’s really good at doing some of that. 

There’s an episode where one of the dude club members has a crush on one of the other girls, and he doesn’t want to be like one of those dudes in romance anime who miss all the signs, so he completely overreads her text and interprets stuff that’s not there. And shit like that is like, “Oh, this is on point. Yes.”

And also, the characters are just really sweet. This is a big, gooey, sappy love letter to anime, and there’s a lot of speeches about how anime connects people across the world—

CAITLIN: [laughs] And it does.

VRAI: —and we can all come together through love of anime. And it feels really sincere, genuinely sincere, and it’s nice. Those bits are nice.

It also can be kind of shitty in a low-key way. There’s fujo bait between the two male main characters. One of the girls ships them. But also, then, the girl’s homeroom teacher is a walking, talking gay stereotype, and the show does not seem to see any disjunction between these two things. 

The camera isn’t super horrible, but once in a while, it can be kind of “shiny boobs and thigh gaps” leery, which is a bummer because I do really like these girls and their friendship. The Ojou-san character is just really nice and wants to use her boundless amounts of money and super-competent butler to help people get to know more anime, which is amazing and good.

It also purports to be a magical girl series. There’s a talking cat and the main character found an apparently magical beret in the first episode, but we’re halfway through now, and that’s gone nowhere.

CAITLIN: [laughs]

VRAI: Absolutely nowhere. And also, Show, if you’re gonna have a big speech from one of the characters about how they have to keep the anime club open because anime really speaks to the outsider and the downtrodden… Look, I know that real high schoolers aren’t really equipped to notice that anime is shitty to minorities most of the time, but it doesn’t mean I’m dying any less. Which is the flip side, is that it’s so enthusiastic about anime that it sometimes feels like a commercial.

PETER: I don’t know how they could talk of any sort of… considering it’s made by a studio. I don’t know if they could really get into some of the issues with anime production. It’s kinda like, where would that come from?

VRAI: Well, even when I was in high school and in my most blindly affectionate love of anime, I didn’t like fanservice shows. None of these girls ever talk about the fact that they’re uncomfortable with female characters have triple-E tits and bending over. That never comes up once. It’s just, “Anime is great all the time, forever. Every anime is great, you guys!” Which goes from realistically endearing to kind of “Come the fuck on. What world do you live in?”

CAITLIN: Right. Well, it reminds me of that Kotaku article from a while back where the person was talking about how fanservice is regarded, and she had trouble finding Japanese fans who had an issue with fanservice, which is absolutely not… 

There are definitely people in the industry and there are fans who do not like fanservice. I have sat down and talked to them before, and they have said that they don’t like fanservice. So, they exist. But I think it’s not as much of a point of contention as it tends to be out here.

But, yeah, it is a point that pretty much any show that involves women, anime tends to handwave away without worrying about “Oh, there’s some stuff out there that is written more to appeal to men than to women, and it has these elements that women might find alienating.” 

And honestly, they tend to refer more to the stuff that is designed to appeal more to men because that is what they are expecting their audience to be more familiar with. Like stuff like Shirobako, they’re making a moe anime. 

Anime-Gataris, I’m assuming, doesn’t spend a lot of time referring to shoujo anime because not a lot of shoujo anime is being made today and the primary audience for Anime-Gataris is probably not going to be as interested in shoujo as it is going to be in a lot of the moe and fanservice shows, as well as general audience.

VRAI: Mm-hm. There’s definitely a lot. This is one of those shows that seems to think referencing titles with the names slightly changed is a joke and not just a reference.

CAITLIN: [groans] That’s…

VRAI: I kind of hate that.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yeah. Reference is not humor!

VRAI: [crosstalk] “Yuri!!! on Nice” is not a joke!

CAITLIN: [crosstalk, clapping with each word] References not jokes!

PETER: [crosstalk] So, it’s like Scary Movie 3 or something?

VRAI: No, no. They’re literally just… The most creative one is “The Circumstances of a Happy Vuvuzela” or something, which is a Haruhi Suzumiya joke.

PETER: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

VRAI: But it goes all the way down to Yuri!!! on Nice.

PETER: Nice.


CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Nice!

VRAI: [crosstalk] Anime-Gataris, that’s not a joke!

PETER: [laughs]

CAITLIN: Yeah, stuff like that is just designed for people to get satisfaction of “Hey, I know that!” and feel like they’re an insider.

VRAI: Yeah, and maybe it’s me wanting too much from this show to want it to tackle in any way this idea that you can be disappointed by things you love and how you recover from that, which is definitely something I experienced, maybe some of the first times, in high school. And because the show has moments of being so emotionally on point to life, I want more from it, but I don’t think it’s ever going to do that.

PETER: That would be really cool. I would be honestly surprised, though. I’m just happy, from my perspective, with it putting some stuff in anime clip form that is just reality. I even remember one episode they talk about how the international market is a massive component of the anime industry now, which is something that Redditors who—I don’t even know where they get this—constantly say is not true and that international market is not a consideration for production companies or anything like that.

CAITLIN: They just say that because they don’t want it to be tainted by filthy American feminists and SJWs. [dryly] Because Japan doesn’t have that. Feminism doesn’t exist in Japan.

VRAI: [laughs] [crosstalk] What? No.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk; dryly] Progressives don’t exist in Japan.

VRAI: “Oh, I’ve read too many articles about how society itself discourages progressivism among young people because they’re afraid that they’ll never get jobs with companies. We can’t go down that road.”

CAITLIN: [laughs]

PETER: Yeah, let’s make that argument entirely about capitalism. Great.


VRAI: Yeah. It’s very helpful to… Anyway. Yeah, so that’s Anime-Gataris. It’s fine. It’s not very deep, but it’s sincere. I kinda like it. [Laughs] I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of dropping it, but then it’ll do something cute and I’ll stick around for another episode.

PETER: Cute and sincere.

VRAI: Yeah. So, nobody is watching Tsuki-Pro because why the fuck would you, which…

CAITLIN: There are so many boy idol shows this season.

VRAI: There are! Nobody’s watching Dynamic Chord either. Spoiler alert.

PETER: [crosstalk] I hear SideM is the real shit.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Everyone’s watching Idol Master SideM.

PETER: Yeah.

VRAI: Which, I guess, moves us up to Just Because. Am I the only one watching this, too?

PETER: Think so.

VRAI: Oh, God! Eventually other people will talk. Listeners. I’m…

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] We don’t have to go super in- depth into these things, especially if we want to save some time for the good ones.

VRAI: [crosstalk] For the big one. Yeah, we might want to.


VRAI: Briefly, Just Because: It’s a slice-of-life about high schoolers in their final semester of school. Sometimes it’s really good at hitting the melancholy of not wanting to regret anything and dealing with the fact that there are things you really love that you might not be able to do as an adult professional. 

And sometimes, especially in the last couple episodes, it struggles with maintaining the balance of that and dips more into love miscommunication shenanigans that I hate. It’s been doing that in the more recent episodes, and it’s bumming me out. Also, the animation is sometimes nice in closeup shots and sometimes Oh My God Bad. Oh My God Bad.

PETER: Yeah, I heard they’ve been having production issues.

VRAI: I posted a screenshot of a really bad shot on my Twitter. It’s astonishing! Just blobs. Just blobs.

PETER: [laughs] Like, is this Girls’ Last Tour here?



VRAI: Worse.

PETER: Worse than Girls’ Last Tour? [laughs] Wow.

VRAI: Yeah.

PETER: That is a statement.

CAITLIN: Hey, I like Girls’ Last Tour.

PETER: I mean, but they are blobs.

VRAI: They are blobs.

CAITLIN: They’re intentional blobs.

PETER: Yeah.

VRAI: Just Because, in fairness, is less blobs and more blocks. Featureless blocks that stand in space.

PETER: All right.

VRAI: It probably says something that I really don’t like slice-of-life high school romance shows that only seem to understand that heterosexuality exists, of which this is definitely one. But I like these kids enough to keep hanging out with them for a while longer. So, if you like slice-of-life, this might be an exceptionally well-written one.

PETER: Yeah, I’ve been hearing good things about the story, so I plan to check in on it at some point.

VRAI: Dynamic Chord, nobody’s watching it. Black Clover. Peter, you’ve seen this one.

PETER: Oh, yeah!

CAITLIN: [Laughs]

PETER: So, there’s definitely been some—

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I know that goofy shounen is kinda your shit, Peter.

PETER: To be honest, I read the manga and it’s not my favorite thing in Shonen JUMP. It does have… I’d rather talk about something I’m noticing about the anime, which I actually think is really cool. So, the manga is very fast-paced and focuses mostly on fighting. It’s very fairy tale–esque. The story is more of a vehicle to get them to the next fight, and the guy really likes drawing fight scenes, and there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily. 

But I’ve been noticing that Pierrot has actually been slowing down the story a bit and putting a lot more scenes with character development in them, which has been kind of amazing to me to watch. 

The main girl is Noelle, who uses water magic, and she’s introduced early on. She, like Asta, joins the reject squad. Even though she’s part of one of the richest, most powerful families, she’s part of the reject squad because she can’t attack with her magic, which… I’m not a super fan of this dynamic. Basically, her magic is technically obeying her, but she can never hit with it, because she’s unconsciously afraid of hurting people. Which is something she has to overcome over the course of the manga, and she does eventually. 

But they cover that…you see—she gets introduced with the rest of the Black Bulls. But there’s a couple scenes with her before that in the anime where they have her interacting with her older brother, who’s an antagonist in the series, basically with him calling her worthless and an embarrassment to the family.

CAITLIN: Wow, rude.

PETER: Yeah. She wants to join in the tasks that you have to do to become a Magic Knight, but he’s just like, “You’re gonna get in just because you’re rich.” So it covers the privilege that the nobles get, her personal desires, and her relationship with her family beforehand. And there have been a couple scenes like that so far, which is what I thought has been impressive, which is just a difference between anime and manga. Something I feel like people should be aware of, especially if they enjoyed the manga.

CAITLIN: Does the main character hit on her constantly, still?

PETER: No. The issue with the series regarding the main character and romance is that the opening scene of both the anime and the manga is him asking the nun who raised him to marry him.

CAITLIN: That’s weird.

VRAI: [crosstalk] Ew.

PETER: Which, apparently, he has pursued so much that she just casts spells at him to make him submit now before he gets out of control these days. So, that’s uncomfortable. And it’s the source of some jokes later on. There’s a romantic misunderstanding because somebody thinks he likes somebody else, because he says, “I’ve got somebody I like,” but he’s talking about the nun, of course. [mutters] At least he’s loyal to the nun, I guess.

I can’t say the series has the best female representation. Noelle is mostly a healer and has just learned to attack at the point where I’m at in the manga, which is like chapter 80. The other main female that’s introduced is a drunk woman in a bikini.

CAITLIN: [sarcastic] Cool.

PETER: Another one is a tiny girl who uses Cotton Magic, who’s actually super overpowered, but she spends all of her time eating. She really only fights people if they take her food, but then she instantly crushes them, so that’s kind of funny. And then—

VRAI: So, it’s kind of a typical shounen?

PETER: Yeah. And both girls like Asta, and they not-quite-fight over him. So, that’s the female representation that you get.

VRAI: [sighs]


PETER: Yeah.

CAITLIN: So, yeah, pretty typical shounen.

PETER: Yeah. The anime’s doing some cool stuff. I don’t know if they’ll change up that dynamic at all. I’m not getting my hopes very high. But it’s kind of harmless fun if you don’t mind what you usually get from shounen, which is usually female characters not doing a whole lot.

CAITLIN: If you like shounen, you’ll probably like this show, it sounds like.

PETER: Yep. And the animation’s good. So, I—

VRAI: Has the main character stopped screaming every line?

CAITLIN: [laughs]



VRAI: So, if you did not care for that in the pilot, you’re not going to enjoy this.

CAITLIN: I didn’t watch it, but someone said that his speech quirk is that he just yells at the end of every line. He’s like, “Blah blah blah blah blah… AH! Blah blah blah blah blah… AH!”

PETER: Yeah, his voice goes up at the end of sentences. It’s a quirk, I guess.

VRAI: [crosstalk] Well, nothing wrong with a—

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] It’s like how cats say, “Nya!”


VRAI: So, it is to shounen as Kotonoha Kitan is to yuri: if you’re desperate for another one, this’ll do you.

PETER: I don’t want to go that far. I do wanna say I am seeing encouraging things from Pierrot. My hopes are not so high that I think—I think this is where I’m going with this—that I think that it’s going to really change a lot of the issues that I had with the manga, but I actually prefer it to the manga at this point. I think it’s got a more developed story. It’s just whether they’re gonna decide to make any character decisions to equalize the cast at all, is a thing.

VRAI: Okay. Well, that moves us into our top two tiers, Feminist Potential, starting with Urahara. Peter, I know you’re caught up on this one. Caitlin, you were watching it. Did you have a chance to catch up?

CAITLIN: No, I did not have a chance to catch up, when I was playing catch-up. So, the thing is that I have issues with getting overwhelmed and then avoiding things. So, I fell behind in anime this season, got overwhelmed, so every time I was like, “Oh, I should watch one of the new anime,” I went and played Persona instead. [laughs]

PETER: I mean that’s like an anime.

CAITLIN: [laughs] It is. It’s basically just an interactive anime.

PETER: They’re gonna make an anime.

VRAI: It’s like Anime-Gataris: it wants to be about uplifting oppressed people without actually admitting that oppressed people exist! I’m very salty about Persona 5.

CAITLIN: Understandably so. But anyway, I have not caught up with Urahara, and it is not for lack of interest. I do want to say that what I did watch, it feels very much like a kids’ show.

VRAI: Yeah, it airs at noon, I believe, so I believe it is for younger audiences.

PETER: Um… We’ll see…

CAITLIN: I’m not saying that to its detriment, but the hyperactivity, colorfulness, has an internal logic but is still random and weird… It feels very much like a show aimed at 12-year-old girls, which is great. Which is great, and honestly probably makes me more inclined to watch it because God knows 12-year-old girls need more shit aimed at them that is not weird and regressive.

VRAI: It wasn’t a show for me, but it has been very heartening to read about the production side. It’s got a mostly female production crew. They have talked in interviews about the fact that they wound up rewriting scenes, even, because they wanted to focus on the girls’ friendship and each of them getting to show off their skills and the different ways they were skilled. It seems like it really wants to be a good show for young girls, which I think is great. I just don’t want to watch it.

CAITLIN: There you go.

PETER: I think that definitely shows. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s actually done some pretty cool stuff. I’m a fan of the aesthetic just because it’s very weird and quirky. But some of the character things they’ve been doing is they really focus on creativity and also the things that go around that, and also the characters, each having their own personalities which have good and bad aspects and how they support each other.

So, Mari, the one with the two pigtails, is usually their leader, and she runs the store mostly, but they talk about how she gets overwhelmed by new situations, but when she’s comfortable, she takes over. So, when the aliens first attack, she’s kind of panicking, but now that they’re more used to defending Harajuku from these Scooper attacks, she’s more confident in herself and is more proactive in fights. 

But early on, I think Kotoko says that to Rito in a conversation, basically saying: “This is how she is, so we need to support her until she’s acclimated to this new situation.” And they find different ways of making her feel more comfortable, even though she’s on the verge of panicking sometimes.

They get into Rito’s creative process and how she used to draw for herself, but now she gets anxiety over what other people think of her art and her reasons for drawing and her concerns over whether she’s good enough, that kind of thing. They had a subplot with Kotoko, too. So, they’re getting into how each of them creates differently and their own individual issues, which I think is pretty neat.

Also, they just turned a corner where I don’t know if this is where the series might get a little Madoka-esque.

VRAI: Oh, I kinda hope not.

PETER: Something happened. I don’t know quite how to… Should I just spoil it, I guess or…?

VRAI: Try to talk around it if you can. I know we’ve talked about some spoilers, but we like these to be accessible for people who are looking to what shows to watch and haven’t necessarily seem them yet.

PETER: So, kind of a creepy thing happened, and it was somewhat based on insidious actions by one of the characters in the group.

VRAI: Oh, this is the science thing. I saw a clip of this on Twitter. Yes, I think I saw this.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I have not, though.

PETER: [crosstalk] That was involved in it. Kotoko being the zombie nurse?

VRAI: Yeah.

PETER: That’s involved in it, but something happened. That last episode actually ended in a cliffhanger, and you’re just like, “What does this mean?” because it’s kind of a huge thing, and I honestly don’t know where they’re going with it, but it could be a slightly darker turn or more serious turn for the series after it’s been kind of bubbly so far. So, they could be getting into more serious writing now that they’ve established how all the characters are and how they interact.

VRAI: Let me correct myself, I guess. I don’t think it’s bad if the show gets serious. It’s not like… fucking adolescent—

PETER: No, I definitely get you. Like if they went full Madoka, I probably wouldn’t like it, but—

VRAI: Yeah, Madoka as stand-in for emotional suffering porn, which nobody needs another show about young girls who suffer. We don’t need that!

PETER: [crosstalk] I meant more as a sudden, unexpected turn to a more serious and maybe philosophical plot. That kind of thing.

VRAI: Which might be interesting.

PETER: I like it.

VRAI: Time will tell, I guess. That’s cool.

PETER: Yeah, the next episode will probably tell.

VRAI: I am rooting for this show, for sure. To speak of the polar opposite: hey, there’s a Kino’s Journey remake going on!

[laughs nervously]

The original Kino is one of my top 20 anime of all time, and this is not that.

PETER: Hm. [laughs]

VRAI: You are caught up, I know.

PETER: Yeah.

VRAI: I tentatively planned to catch up, but something had to give, prepping for this podcast, and it was Kino, so I’ve only seen the first three episodes.

CAITLIN: Yeah, I watched four episodes, and by the fourth episode, I realized I was not engaged at all. [laughs nervously] So, it’s like, “Oh, maybe this is a sign that I should probably deprioritize this show.”

VRAI: Is Funimation still fucking up the subtitles?

PETER: I can’t remember any pronouns that I’ve seen.

VRAI: Oh, so they’ve just moved it entirely to the ad copy for the dub referring to Kino with female pronouns. I’m coming for you, Funimation.

PETER: I don’t know about… You tend to catch those things much faster than I do anyway, because I’m not really looking for them.

VRAI: Right.

PETER: But, just based on my own perception, I have not noticed anything. I just haven’t noticed people using pronouns in reference to Kino. Usually, they call Kino “traveler” anyway. What do they say, toibito, I think? Is that it?

CAITLIN: Tabibito.

PETER: Tabito? I think that’s it.

CAITLIN: I think so.

PETER: So, yeah. Maybe they’ve cycled into that. They’ve also had episodes that Kino was not too involved in.

VRAI: Oh, that’s great. A show about Kino’s journey that Kino isn’t in? That sounds amazing!

CAITLIN: Yeah, they’re about the prince.

PETER: The actual light novel—

VRAI: I love this so much! This seems like a great new take on the series!

PETER: The light novels, Sigsawa actually did jump around to different characters a lot. Shizu is a character that Sigsawa wrote about a lot. There was this new character Photo, who’d appear in one episode. I think they just had one light novel story and it was just a one-and-done thing set in the Kino’s Journey universe. I mean, Kino’s at the beginning and the end, but doesn’t get involved in the story at all. And I know there’s some stuff about Shishou in the anime, as well, Kino’s master. But I don’t know. They’re probably gonna put that in the later couple episodes.

VRAI: Honestly, the more I talk with people about the new Kino and I get a lot of “Well, they did this in the light novel,” the more I realize that what I actually like is the 2003 anime and the smart choices it made to make it a more concentrated, thoughtful, and effectively chosen story. And boy howdy, the new one made a bad decision when it chose its episodes to adapt from a reader poll, thereby putting itself in direct comparison to the masterpiece original.

PETER: Yeah, I mean it’s hard to compare to the original in any kind of positive light. I have enjoyed some of the new stories that it’s introduced, but my preference lies in the first one, of course, issues aside.

VRAI: And lest people think, “Well, you’ve just got nostalgia goggles for the original,” I actually watched it fairly currently. When the first two episodes aired, I was watching it concurrently, so I did see the new adaptation of “Coliseum” before I saw the original one, and it still reads as bad—bad and rushed. 

And also, I think the new Kino thinks I’m stupid, because it has to explain everything, because why would you suggest things. I’m very angry about this! I’m sorry, listeners, I’m sorry!

PETER: They did have a recent subplot in the Country of Liars where it reminded me of… You know where Kino runs into those three men who are building and disassembling those railroad tracks?

VRAI: Mm-hm.

PETER: It was a plot like that where you get a larger reveal on where they all come from, and it introduces this really strange relationship these characters have. It kind of did that, but I did feel like it was more explainy. 

I actually think the strongest episode so far was the one focusing on Photo rather than Kino, although it might have been a little heavy-handed. I don’t know. I found some things that I like about the series, but I definitely understand, especially if you’re trying to compare it to the main series, how it might not measure up.

VRAI: The other reason I put off catching up is because… they haven’t gotten to Kino’s backstory, but I’m not confident that the new anime will handle it as well and amazingly as the original one did. Kino is a pretty rare example of a nonbinary transmasculine character who’s really important to me and a lot of people, and boy, do I not trust this new one.

PETER: They referenced that somebody asked Kino how they became a traveler in one of the more recent episodes, so I think they might be moving into it soon. But we’ll see. 

Yeah, that was my favorite episode of the other Kino. I remember when I first started the anime and I knew they were gonna be reproducing some of the stories rather than just doing new ones, I was just like, “Oh, that’s a really tough ask for anybody.” I almost wish they’d just stuck to new material.

VRAI: It certainly would’ve served it better.

PETER: Because it’s like an expansion rather than a reboot. All other issues aside, I feel like I would be more interested in that just because I would get more material, as well. But yeah, it’s tough what they’re trying to do.

VRAI: Caitlin, any more to add, now that—

CAITLIN: Not really. Like I said, I ended up spacing out for a lot of the last couple episodes I watched. I like the prince. The prince is cute. I don’t know.

VRAI: He has a talking dog. It’s rad.

CAITLIN: Yeah. I don’t really have… He’s cute, and he seems nice. I don’t really have anything more interesting to say about it. I didn’t watch the original, so…

PETER: He gets a daughter now, in the ship episode. Well, that’s not a—

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh, no! Oh, that’s right. I did watch the ship episode.

PETER: I think the Photo episode is worth watching, too. I thought that one was pretty good.

VRAI: At best, I think it’ll end up being like 18if last season where it’s standalone-y enough that you can say to people, “Here’s the couple good episodes, and maybe trash the other ones.”

CAITLIN: Wait, he’s basically a dad now. That means maybe I should watch Kino again.

PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, Anime Dad.

VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah, now he’s a hot dad! That’s for you. It’s your brand.

CAITLIN: [laughs] Just gotta keep going with that brand.

VRAI: That Hot Dad brand. 

Okay! Moving on, the next one is Girls’ Last Tour, which I think, Caitlin, you are the only one watching, so your time to shine. Go.

CAITLIN: And it is a show that I haven’t really been seeing a lot of discussion of, probably partially because it’s on Strike. But I think it is probably one of the more underrated series of the season, because when the production stuff was coming out, it was like, “Oh, this sounds kind of interesting,” and then I saw the character designs, I’m like, “Oh, my God, they’re just blobs! I am less interested now.” 

But I watched the first episode anyway and it was okay. I wasn’t super enthralled by it, but I did continue watching. And I did catch up specifically for the purposes of this podcast, just so that there would be someone who could talk about it. I actually ended up really liking it. 

The characters are, like I said, they’re blobs. [laughs] They are. They’re just past the level of moe blobs, and they’re just blobs. But the way they’re written is actually probably some of the more natural dialogue I’ve seen in cute girls anime. Their personalities aren’t boiled down to tropes. 

Their relationship and the way they talk to each other—they’re clearly two people who are very close, but in that way where it’s like they love each other, they support each other, they also piss each other off constantly, get on each other’s nerves. But they’re the only people they have in this landscape. 

And they have had a couple of one-shot outside characters. I don’t know if they’re really going to go into why this world is like this, but if they’re just going to leave it be. Either way is fine. But yeah, I ended up really getting into it.

VRAI: [crosstalk] That’s rad.

PETER: [crosstalk] I’d have to say it’s encouraging to hear you say that you didn’t particularly like the first episode, because I was entirely unimpressed with it. I remember seeing screenshots where… You know that fake label that somebody will put on clips from the show? It was all the drooling, and they said it was Mysterious Girlfriend X.

CAITLIN: [pained groan]

PETER: But if you say that it gets good after that, I’d probably be more inclined to pick it up. I am curious. Does it have anything to say, or is it just cute stuff?

CAITLIN: I think so. It’s looking more at having a purpose in life. Yu and Chito, the main characters, their purpose has not really been revealed. We don’t know why they’re out and traveling. There’s something about Chitose’s grandfather. 

But they are exploring this world, and it’s more like exploring ruins than exploring a post-apocalyptic society. They don’t have the technology to create these things anymore, so it’s a mystery how airplanes worked or how these huge cities were built. 

And the people they encounter are looking for their own purpose in this world. One of them makes maps in the old-fashioned way, traveling around and drawing where you go and then checking your map by going up to a high place. One of them has been trying to build an airplane for a long time because she caught a glimpse of another island, and there were still skyscrapers there, so she thinks there might still be people there. 

So, there’s definitely a lot of mysteries about the world… but finding reasons to live in this ruined and lonely landscape.

PETER: Okay. That’s actually sound pretty neat. I think I might be on board.

VRAI: It’s nice to hear that they… Because I didn’t super-care for the pilot, but there a couple glimpses of nice melancholy that I wanted to see the show build on, and I just never got to watching more. So, it’s nice to hear that it did trend in that direction.

PETER: What you describes actually sounds a bit like Kino’s Journey. [laughs]

VRAI: Yeah.

CAITLIN: It lacks the cities or the city-states in Kino’s Journey. They don’t find societies; they find individuals. And that’s something that I’ve been wondering. Where are all the people? Humans are social creatures. They wouldn’t just all be individual travelers. Some people would be trying to rebuild their own society. Where is that going on? What’s happening? But that’s not really something that has been…

PETER: [crosstalk] Explored?

CAITLIN: Covered. Yeah.

PETER: Okay. I will probably check it out, then.

CAITLIN: Yeah, I’d say it’s worth it.

PETER: You convinced me.

CAITLIN: Awesome.

VRAI: Good to hear.


VRAI: All right. That wraps up our Feminist Potential. We’re gonna go long, but—let’s face it—we always go long on the check-ins. [laughs]

CAITLIN: Yeah, it’s cool.

VRAI: Enjoy this extra half-hour of content, listeners. We didn’t really write them by number anymore. They’re just alphabetized, but still… So, next one is Recovery of an MMO Junkie, which I straight-up skipped because I hate the subgenre it’s part of. But you two are both watching it.



VRAI: [crosstalk] How’s it going?

PETER: [crosstalk] You want to go first, Caitlin?

CAITLIN: [laughs] I like it a lot. Even though I don’t play MMOs, there’s definitely a lot about Moriko that is very believable, that I feel as a 30-something who spends too much time online, myself. [laughs] Although, I do have a full-time job. But I feel like it really does a great job of selling a lot of things, and my friends have said that it is very true to how it feels to be playing an MMO. 

And one of the things that I like about it is it really does nail the feel of falling in love with someone online, where there’s so much that you don’t know about this person and the details of their actual life, but you know who they are on a different level. You know their personality, you know their views and their thoughts and their feelings, and you connect that way and you want to know more about them. 

But you also can’t just come out and ask, necessarily, especially since my friend told me that some people in MMOs are really, really protective of their personal lives outside of the game. So, it’s not just something that you ask people about. I really like part, and Moriko is highly relatable.

PETER: Yeah. I have to say I like the MMO aspects a bit. I think it’s a novel premise for a romance, and usually you don’t see get that kind of stuff from the female perspective, as well. So, I like it for those reasons. I like that it’s an older cast, as well. There’s some stuff that’s definitely super convenient about the plot, but I don’t really mind because it’s kind of goofy anyway.


PETER: Go ahead.

VRAI: I have a… Sorry, go ahead. No, no, finish your thought.

PETER: Okay. I don’t like this will be too big an issue. Moriko’s dating this guy named Kowai right now, who I do—

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Koiwai.

PETER: Koiwai, who I hate so much.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Kowai means scary. [laughs]

PETER: Yeah, there was kind of a date rape joke that he made, I guess.

CAITLIN: Yeah, that wasn’t super cool. Not a fan of that.

PETER: She gets drunk and falls asleep during their date, and so he takes a picture of her while she’s unconscious and sends it to Sakurai, who’s the actual love interest in the story. And he’s just like, “Oh, look, she’s asleep and defenseless. What do you think I should do? Should I take her home? That’d be okay, right?” So, he sprints over to the house, and the guy’s like, “Oh, come on, that was obviously a joke.”

VRAI: [crosstalk] Fuck this guy.

PETER: [crosstalk] And it’s like, okay, I don’t care. Since you made that joke, that changes my opinion of you.

CAITLIN: Yeah, it’s like, “Let me in. I’m going to look around and make sure that you did not actually take her home and assault her.”

PETER: Yeah. I don’t know whether that’s supposed to be part of his goofy character or whether that’s supposed to contribute toward her getting away from him and eventually ending up in the central romance, because it’s kind of a predictable romantic show. I think it was uncomfortable stuff that was supposed to be uncomfortable. It just depends on how they play it in the next couple episodes. Other than that, I enjoy it. So, I think it’s good.

VRAI: I have two questions, both of which are probably unfair.

CAITLIN: [Laughs]

PETER: All right. [laughs]

VRAI: The first is, genuinely… I’ve definitely talked with people who have a concern that the title has this implication that her NEET-ness will be cured by falling in love with a dude. How well is it handling that?

CAITLIN: I’m not getting that sense right now. They’re showing the MMO as a legitimate way to connect with people, not just like, “Oh, she’s wasting her time with this online game. She needs to learn how to get back out there and reintegrate into society.” 

Now, at the same time, I don’t think it would be terrible to have her forming real-life relationships and striking a healthier balance. It’s the difference between the discussions on Tumblr where it’s like, “Are you demanding too much, or are people just being anti-recovery?”

VRAI: Mm. Yeah, definitely.

CAITLIN: Being the level of NEET she is, it’s not sustainable. It’s not physically or mentally healthy. And like I said, I do say that as someone who socializes a lot over the internet. 

Just to draw on a real-life example, before I met my current boyfriend over the internet and moved out to Seattle—not to be with him, just he happened to be here


—before that, he was a NEET. He was a straight-up NEET. He didn’t work; he didn’t go to school; he didn’t really go out a whole lot. 

And now that I came and I was with him, I was the one being like, “Hey, I’m tired of sitting around. Let’s go to the park. Let’s go out and get dinner at somewhere that doesn’t serve pizza. Let’s start actually cooking healthy meals instead of eating frozen pizza every night.”

VRAI: Madness. [laughs]

CAITLIN: So, I think, instead of being like, “Games are a waste of life and you should be living like a goddamn adult,” if it takes the tack of being, like I said, more striking a balance of living in the world as well as enjoying your online life, that would make me really satisfied with that direction, with that element of the show.

VRAI: And it seems like it’s going in that direction?

CAITLIN: I think so.

VRAI: Nice. And my other question is… Oh, sorry, Peter, did you have more to add?

PETER: Little bit. I feel like she’s moving in that direction because she’s being sort of forced to socialize, but I don’t think that it’s like, “I need to fix myself for him or anything like that.”


PETER: She even stresses out about how much it costs to put on makeup and get your hair cut and wear clothes outside. And it’s very often reinforced how great MMOs are, as well. So, I think it’s more about hitting a balance, and I haven’t seen anything yet to indicate that it will just be because she wants to better for her boyfriend or anything like that.

CAITLIN: Yeah, even when she goes out on dates, they talk about games. They legitimately talk about her interests, and he’s not putting her down. And when he’s talking about Sakurai, he’s like, “Oh, yeah, that guy is so into games.” So, I feel like it has a much more balanced feeling than this sort of story usually does.

VRAI: That’s good. It’s nice. And my other completely unfair question was “Has this show that’s ostensibly about gender play but really is kind of heteronormative introduced any actual queer or trans people?”

PETER: Nope.

CAITLIN: No. Uh, no.

PETER: [laughs]

CAITLIN: And that is definitely a blind spot of this show.

VRAI: It is why I hate the subgenre. [laughs]

CAITLIN: Yeah. No, I get it. I get it. I super do, and it is something that I am not wild about, but I also have the privilege of being able to shrug my shoulders.

VRAI: I mean it does sound like, as a hetero rom-com, it is a nice version of one.

CAITLIN: Yes. Even though Koiwai is trash.

PETER: Yeah, they sort of get into “You can be something besides yourself online, and whatever you want to do in the game, it’s what the game’s for, so you shouldn’t judge people who want to play the opposite gender or anything like that. If that’s how you enjoy it or that’s the sort of experience you want to get out of it, then you should do that.” And I think that’s about as surface-level as it gets, no deeper.

VRAI: Next, we’re going to talk about Code: Realize ~ Guardian of Rebirth, which is a very silly show that, Caitlin, you are also watching. [laughs]

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] It’s so silly! [laughs] Oh, gosh, that show… It’s so silly, but it’s just fun.

VRAI: It’s a sweetly silly show.


VRAI: It’s just over-the-top, but also sincere enough that it’s kind of endearing.

CAITLIN: Yeah. It knows exactly what it is. And it’s cool because I generally don’t get super into otome series because they tend to be very normative. But I like Cardia, a lot.

VRAI: [whispering] Yeah, she’s good.

CAITLIN: [laughs] I like that she gets to wear pants.

VRAI: Yes!

CAITLIN: How many anime can you think of where the main girl or any girls wear pants?

VRAI: And they’re cute pants. They’re jodhpurs.

CAITLIN: Yeah. It’s harder to think of than you would expect. Right?

VRAI: Yeah. And it is an otome game, so there’s still an element of the main girl is only interacting with hot dudes, and the only other female character in the series is the villain. But she’s way more developed and the other dudes are way more supportive and nice to her than I’ve seen with any other otome series I’ve tried. 

Otome series usually have that moment of “There’s something in the dude whose route you could be on that the main character connects with,” but it feels way more earned. Cardia feels like a character and not a cipher for the reader insertion. It’s nice, and I like her.

CAITLIN: Yeah. She is completely helpless in a way that makes sense, in the beginning, but she has a desire to become more self-sufficient. To get tougher, she asks Van Helsing to train her… [laughs]

VRAI: That’s a thing! [laughs] Because all these characters are weird, silly Victorian fanfiction.

CAITLIN: [laughs] They bear no resemblance to the characters they’re based on. Like Victor Frankenstein is very timid.

VRAI: He’s the moe mega, you guys! It’s amazing!

PETER: So, you’re saying it’s like Fate, where none of them are anything like their source material.

VRAI: [deadpan] No, I said I liked it.

PETER: [laughs dryly]

CAITLIN: Oh, shit! [laughs] Throwing shade at Fate. Anyway…

VRAI: Yeah, yeah, I’m gonna pay for that. [laughs]

CAITLIN: [laughs] Oh, no! All the comments!

VRAI: [laughs]

CAITLIN: Oh, the Fate fans are gonna come for you, Vrai! [laughs]

VRAI: [laughs] It’s fine. It’s fine.

CAITLIN: But, yeah. Or like Captain Nemo. [laughs]

VRAI: Holy shit. On the one hand, I wanna be like, “Oh no! This show introduced exactly one brown-skinned character who is also extremely flamboyant and queer-coded, and everybody talks about how annoying he is.” But also, I like him and he’s fun!

CAITLIN: The resemblance between him and Jules Verne’s classic character is, uh… the name.

VRAI: [laughs]

CAITLIN: That’s it. The name.

VRAI: Yep.

CAITLIN: [crosstalk] And he refers to making the Nautilus.

VRAI: He is just Dist from Tales of the Abyss, which I’m about. [laughs] So…

CAITLIN: Ah, man. This show, it’s so silly, but it’s so fun. The aesthetic is so ridiculous. It’s like steampunk London, but the way they make the city itself steampunk is they just stick a bunch of fucking gears everywhere.

VRAI: Yeah, there’s literally gears just on the horizon! “Hey, isn’t it kind of silly that there are these gears in the middle of a city that do nothing?” “Fuck you, more gears!”

CAITLIN: It has a steampunk Corgi.

VRAI: It does! Cardia is a little bit helpless in the beginning because Plot says so, but also then all the other dudes get together to teach her skills so she can be part of the team; and also, no one ever pins her down once.

CAITLIN: Yeah, no one’s like, “Oh, you shouldn’t do this. You’re a girl; let us take care of it.” She’s like, “I want to get more useful,” and everyone’s like, “Yeah, let’s do it. Okay!”

VRAI: And it’s good. It’s a very, very silly show, but it’s a nice show. It’s really uncomplicated, and its attempts to be grimdark are cute.

CAITLIN: [laughs] It’s like “Aw! How cute! It thinks it’s grimdark.”

VRAI: It does. And also, the team mechanic was mentored by Doc Brown because you can’t tell me that’s not Doc Brown!

PETER: Oh, is that where that screenshot came from? Yes, that’s definitely Doc Brown.

VRAI: Uh-huh.

CAITLIN: I don’t know anything about the original character of Impey, so… I know he’s a Jules Verne character, so he probably talks a lot about the quote-unquote “science” behind his creations, but I don’t really know him other than that.

VRAI: [laughs] Yeah, so it’s a good, sweet show. It’s silly, if you’re looking for something that’s harmless but also fun and full of pretty boys and a nice female protagonist. It’s a good ‘un, surprisingly good ‘un. Yes?

CAITLIN: Yeah. I would recommend it.

VRAI: Yeah. I was definitely surprised, but it grew on me a lot.

Unfortunately, Caitlin had to go. We are very grateful that she was able to join us for as long as she did, so Peter and I will be finishing up the last two shows on our own. First one is Last of the Lustrous, which I am almost completely incapable of having any kind of objective distance on because if you shot a laser into my brain and made a show that was for me, it would be this show.

PETER: Dang. It just came straight outta your head.

VRAI: It did!

PETER: Well, thanks, Vrai! I really love this show, so I’m very thankful that you could be the origin point for this tremendous manga and anime.

VRAI: Yes, especially because you started reading the manga before I saw the anime, and yet this formed from my head. It’s really very incredible.

PETER: Yeah, it’s very strange.

VRAI: [laughs]

PETER: It’s like an M. Night Shyamalan movie where I introduce you to something that came from your head the entire time.

VRAI: [crosstalk] I know. It’s incredible.

PETER: That’s the twist at the end.

VRAI: Mm-hm.

PETER: I’ve been screaming about the manga since June, I think. But I’m—

VRAI: Yeah, you have been its primary cheerleader.

PETER: I’m blown away by how good the anime adaptation was. When it was CG, I was super nervous, although I have liked Orange’s work in the past, which is usually 3D integration into other anime. But they have knocked it out of the part with this one, I think. It is super good.

VRAI: Sometimes the grass is… I don’t know what it is this season, but a lot of grass is this weird, uncanny green color that kind of clashes with the bright designs of the gems. But aside of the premiere really, they’ve got a handle on it, and they’re really good at the visuals. It looks incredible.

PETER: Yeah, I think they were trying to replicate that first panel of the manga where Phos is lying in a field of really tall grass, and I don’t think it quite played that same way. It was a really intricately drawn panel. But past that… 

There have been a couple things that the manga could do that the anime can’t. Isaac was talking about one transition—I agree—where Lord Ventricosus first appears in her actual form. They’re having a conversation, Phos looks away in the last panel, and then you turn the page. And the next page is a full-page spread of Lord Ventriculus’s, Ventricosus—it’s hard to say—her full form.

In the ocean, all the backgrounds are matte black, so she really stands out, and it was very—Isaac said—arresting, which is a very descriptive word. So, there are some things where they can’t replicate it, but I feel like they’ve really taken advantage of color and some of the things that you can do in anime to create different visual spectacles.

VRAI: Yeah, I haven’t got a chance to get a hold of the manga yet. I want to, but… Another example I saw given was one where Kongo in the manga blows a dandelion out of frame, and then in the anime he blows and the camera zooms way, way, way, way back, and we see it drifting down. 

So, they’re definitely trying to think thoughtfully about how to adapt things for different mediums, which is really nice. You don’t necessarily see that with a lot of series that understand that different mediums work differently and sometimes you have to change things. 

Yeah, the spectacle is great and I love all these characters. They’re my children. They’re all trying their best.

PETER: And you can talk about the visuals all day, but I think the actual compelling aspect of it is the setting and the characters, too. So it really is a complete package.

VRAI: I find Phos kind of miraculous because they are, on paper, the bratty, obnoxious protagonist who wants to fight and gets in everybody’s business and just winds up being heroic because of Reasons. But in practice, they’re really, really endearing and they try their best and they’re a little bit full of themself, but they’re also sincere when they realize that, oh, other people have problems.

I’ve been spoiled a little bit, enough to know that this theme continues, but the fact that Phos themself is almost like a piecemeal, physical representation of everybody’s hope. I’ve grumbled, and I continue to be disappointed that everybody’s got the same body type. Yes, I know that there are narrative reasons for it. Stop! That doesn’t… Ah!

PETER: There could just as easily be narrative reasons that they don’t.

VRAI: Right. But at the same time, that disappointment aside, it’s very thematically smart about how it observes bodies and bodies as physical memory and this idea that gem shards hold this communal Jungian memory. It’s really good!

PETER: I haven’t heard about the manifestation of hope thing, actually. That’s new to me.

VRAI: Yeah, slight spoilers. Because the grafts have this… and that plays into… Phos is literally carrying everybody’s hopes and dreams because they’re the weakest, but also, they try the hardest and they’re the most daring, and I love them. I love them very much.

PETER: Oh, you mean with the sea people.

VRAI: No, I mean specifically with—spoilers, skip ahead 30 seconds—specifically with them getting grafts from other gems.

PETER: Oh, okay. That they can do that—basically, that that’s a thing?

VRAI: Yeah.

PETER: Oh! Mm-hm. That’s perceptive. And the thing is that Phos really hasn’t accomplished anything yet either, but is still trying, and it’s almost tragic because every time Phos has gotten into a situation to do something… I’d say their greatest accomplishment was basically just convincing the sea people not to sell them off. That was the big moment. 

But I think that makes you root for the character and really want them to be able to change, because their goal is absolutely… Everybody wants Cinnabar to be saved, of course. So, they’ve got a goal that everybody wants accomplished, and they’re absolutely ill-equipped to succeed in that goal, but they’re still trying and maybe some things might be steps. But it’s hard to even see progress, except in a few potential areas, I guess.

VRAI: Yeah, it’s definitely… Cinnabar is another example of… because they’re the tsundere stoic who is obstructive because of their own emotional issues, and that can so easily be irritating, but they also try. They are also try!

PETER: Yeah. Also, I think the whole setting is just this huge meditation on life and death, as well.

VRAI: Right, yeah.

PETER: Especially that conversation with Phos and Ventricosus, where Phos literally doesn’t understand the concept of death. What do they say? They think it’s equivalent to being lost, because I guess that’s how they view death is being taken away to the moon, but there’s still a possibility… I mean, they live forever, so they can always be found at some point. That’s a hope. But death is hopeless. So, it’s something that Phos couldn’t conceptualize.

One of the differences I noted in the anime, too, was one of the lines I really liked was taken out, I think, which was right before the graft was put on Phos. Rutile asks, “Why do you always act out?” And Phos was out of it, missing legs and everything like that. 

I can’t remember the specific line. I’ve been lending out the manga, basically since I finished it, to everybody. But it was something like “I guess it’s out of desperation because I want to help, but I’m unbelievably pathetic” or something like that. And they cut that line out in the anime. I feel like that was the line that summarized the character and the way the character acts out, as well.

VRAI: Yeah, they try. I will say I don’t know how I feel about the fact the race of agender people are the inhuman ones who never move and never change. [laughs] I don’t know how I feel about that, but the show on the whole is so good and these characters are all so well developed that I tend to forgive it a lot.

PETER: Oh, you mean as opposed to the sea people?

VRAI: As opposed to the sea people or… We don’t know anything in the anime at this point about the moon people, but yeah.

PETER: Yeah. Well, there is that one line where they talk about how the moon people just want the Lustrous because they’re beautiful and they want to wear them as jewelry. And they’re very warlike, so I think Ventricosus meditates upon what humans must have been like, which seems more of a criticism. 

I’m honestly very curious about what the sea people are like. I noticed that each race has its own pursuit, where the Lustrous are very about utility and contribution and the snails are very family-oriented—I don’t know what to call them—and the Lunarians are more about beauty and greed. 

So, I get what you’re talking about, where they kind of segment humans up, and the Lustrous are in this very unusual place. I think it’s going to come down to… there’s obviously more than meets the eye about how the Lustrous—well, actually, I kind of know how they’re made now—but what Sensei is doing, who Sensei is, and if the Lunarians are actually after the Lustrous for that, that could play into the nature of the Lustrous. But with the available information, yes, absolutely.

VRAI: Yes, and I am afraid—we both love this show a lot, and you know a lot more than I do, and I am already afraid that we’re going to spoil a show for the listeners that is very much… part of the joy is about how well it surprises you.

PETER: Yeah. God, the cliffhangers, every single episode.

VRAI: Yeah. Everybody on staff loves this show. Go watch it. It’s very nice. I’m sorry it’s on Anime Strike. It depresses me too.

PETER: Read the manga, too, please.

VRAI: Yeah, definitely. There’s only three volumes available in English, but…

PETER: Yeah, the next one’s coming out on the 26th, and I think in the next episode we’ll pass the third volume anyway, so pretty much from here on, it’s gonna be all anime. Nobody’s gonna know what’s coming.

VRAI: Oh, that’s nice. I heard you speculating that the anime would only go to the end of the third volume. But apparently, it’ll go beyond that, huh?

PETER: No, I thought it would blow past it. I think the very next episode is going to be the ending story arc of the third volume, which is… [exhales] It’s big. I won’t say anything else, but also—

VRAI: No, please don’t spoil it for me. [laughs]

PETER: Also, buy the manga, because we might get Haruko Ichikawa’s other manga translated if it’s successful, which would be really nice. She also wrote 25-Hour Vacation and Insects and Songs, which are both short story collections that are amazing, and I would like to read them in English, so help me out.

VRAI: Cool. All right, last one is Ancient Magus’ Bride. Mm, boy. We both like this show, I think, but you like it more unilaterally than me, so you go first.

PETER: I know you’re approaching it with a different perspective, but I wonder if that might partially be because I was first familiarized with the story through manga rather than anime. So, I don’t know if the manga told it differently or it’s just foreknowledge that makes me have a different opinion, or it could just be different perspective, as well. You seem focused on some aspects of the story that I think I’m kind of blind to anyway, like the dynamic between Elias and Chise.

VRAI: Yeah—and she gave me permission to talk about it on the podcast—but I’ve been watching this show with my partner, who is a survivor of abuse.


VRAI: And so, we do a lot of talk about how Chise is portrayed. We both really enjoyed the OVA, and honestly if I hadn’t liked the OVA so much, I would’ve dropped the anime by now. But there is this sense, at least in the first six episodes of the anime, which are the present-day ones, that I’m not sure Yamazaki… 

Yamazaki understands how abusive childhoods work, but maybe doesn’t necessarily understand what all of the nuanced effects of an adult survivor of abuse look like. Chise’s a great character, but in some ways her past feels like a reason for her to not be proactive and accept what’s going on around her. My partner specifically gave the example of… You know when they go to the artificer’s office in the second episode?

PETER: Yeah.

VRAI: And there’s that conversation where the artificer tells her, “Don’t worry about this. It isn’t your fault. It’s his fault, because he’s such a jerk and didn’t teach you anything.” And we, as the reader, are meant to take this as a comforting moment, but my partner mentioned that she would have felt really triggered in that situation because “Oh no, this is a situation where you’ve made the person who is in charge of my life look bad. How is this going to be bad for me when we’re alone?” and stuff like that. 

And also, the fact that, at least in the six episodes so far—I know that a lot of people have talked about how the fact that other people have expressed concern over Chise’s situation is supposed to be a sign of self-awareness, but it kind of feels like lip service to me, because none of these people are in a position to actually get Chise out if she wanted. The closest is the artificer—I’m forgetting her name, I’m sorry.

PETER: Angelica.

VRAI: Angelica is probably the closest one who would support Chise if she wanted to get away from Elias. But how is Chise supposed to get there on her own? She doesn’t know how. Angelica doesn’t visit their house. So, it’s really more of something that also sadly happens in real life where people talk to people and say, “You should get out of this; you deserve better,” but nobody actually offers to do the hard work of helping them with it. 

I really like Chise, I like Elias, I like Chise making friends with all the other people in the world. But every time the show turns to their relationship, it feels bad, man. It feels bad. I would even be fine with it if it were a Beauty and the Beast–style thing where Chise at some point gets away and has a chance to get some context and decides that, yes, this is a situation she wants to be in because she’s had a chance to see what her other options and she wants to stay with Elias and this family she’s found. But at least as I’ve gotten from talking with you about it, that doesn’t really happen.

PETER: Well, there is a scene later on where Christmas is coming up or something and Chise wants to get something for Elias, so she tells him to stay at the house and goes to London without him. 

And I think she meets up with either Angelica or the priest—I don’t remember who—because she’s trying to figure out… First of all, she doesn’t know what. What do you buy Elias? And she can’t have him around, because then he would be spoiled to the present, right? And I think they have some conversations about their relationship then. 

I don’t know if this is specifically the type of break you are talking about that you would like to see. I don’t know if Yamazaki really wrote it with the concept that… I definitely think there’s some intentional codependence there—actually, yeah, they’re definitely both codependent—but I don’t think she really conceptualized Elias as a potential abusive individual or thought about the inequity of power in the relationship in that way.

VRAI: I don’t get that feeling, because Elias is a character who I get the impression is trying to do what he thinks is best to be good to Chise, but that doesn’t mean that he’s good for her. And I think the effect of the manga not thinking about that is at some points it’s just a “You don’t understand our love” -type story with better writing than most of them, which bums me out. [laughs]

PETER: I’m curious as to what you’ll think of some future story developments. It’s starting off slower than I thought it would, I guess, maybe because I didn’t realize how far I was in before it started to change. I’m really in on the manga because the Chise story really resonates with me. That was the draw. 

So, it gets to the point—and I’ve told you about all this in the past, but I could just recap it really quick—how—

VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah, for the listener.

PETER: —she develops a lot more agency over the course of the story because of positive experiences she has helping other people. Part of the reason that she’s in the state she’s in now is because people have not been positive toward her and she’s never had a chance to contribute to the lives of others, as well. 

So, after—because Elias has a couple tasks he’s supposed to complete—after she plays a part in these and sees the positive changes she’s able to make in the lives of others, she becomes obsessed with these changes that she can make with others. And when she sees others in need she reacts, often to her own detriment, because using magic is destructive to her body. 

So, the power dynamic changes in that Elias has no way of controlling Chise and holding her back when she decides to go all-in on helping someone. He makes her make a promise and she breaks it at certain points, and he’s not used to interactions outside of negotiating, quid pro quo, like, “You complete a task; I’ll give you money,” or some other sort of… It’s very fae. 

So, it gets to this point where—maybe not even him—but you realize that he starts caring about her based on some of his own thoughts and strange phenomena that he’s observing about himself, which you’re just like, “Oh, you’re having feelings,” but he doesn’t get it. And he wants her to be safe because he cares about her, but he doesn’t really know how to tell her to protect herself more or consider her wellbeing while also looking to help others.

VRAI: Right. Yeah, it’s one of those things where in abstract I like all of that. But, getting back to the thing where she never has a chance to get perspective necessarily, all of that still grows on the basis of: “He needs me. Somebody needs me. I’m going to stay no matter what, even if it hurts me.” 

So, it’s all built from that premise that wasn’t very well handled at the beginning, which, again, bums me out because I do really like all of these characters. Watching it feels to me like… I see many stories this could be and work out a lot better. 

It could be a Beauty and the Beast–style story where Chise is on a little bit more emotionally stable ground to start with, and then her development is not nearly so dependent on feeling so bottomed out early on. It could be a kind of story where she starts out with forming those great platonic bonds that she does form in the series that I really like, before feeling like she can really talk to and bond with Elias and have the relationship that requires a lot more, because he doesn’t understand so much and relies on her so much emotionally. 

There is something to be said for stories about finding happiness by filling a role that somebody needs you. I like the movie Secretary a lot, which is about a depressed woman feeling like she can gain back agency and choice for herself by being a submissive in a BDSM relationship. But even in that movie she could always quit and do something else. Chise can’t go anywhere. She’s stuck, and there’s no real sense of choice, which later develops into all these good things, but it starts from such an ill-thought-out place. 

It kind of reminds me of Ah! My Goddess!, which is a manga that did a lot of really cute things as long as you ignored the skeevy premise.

PETER: Mm. Yeah. Elias, I think, did say, “You can leave whenever you want,” but that’s very different from being able to have emotional recognition of that, I guess. He did teleport her to London [laughs], and she lived in Japan, so yeah.

VRAI: And maybe I’m being harder on it because it has such a Western setting, and I feel like this anime gets graded on a curve a little bit because Western fantasy has been doing this shit better since the ‘70s. And I’m noticing it more because it takes up so much Western aesthetic.

PETER: Hm. That’d be an interesting interaction actually. I definitely get your concerns. I can’t really say if they’ll be addressed in the future.

VRAI: It’s so pretty, and I like Chise so much, and I like all the friends that she makes.

PETER: Yeah. And that’s definitely a running theme, is Chise discovering these new people and people in quandaries and then finding ways to help them. And she finds her own purpose in being able to help other people out, which she hasn’t had the opportunity to do until now, basically.

VRAI: I like that idea of following her personal journey, specifically.

PETER: This is a bit like her choice before, because I think Elias was just doing this as an obligation, and I don’t think he really gave any consideration to the fact that Chise might enjoy it or find meaning in it. But once she does, she really starts driving them both in that direction, to the point where somebody will approach Elias and say, “I would like this,” and he says, “What do I get out of it?” And then Chise ends up helping them for nothing because she just wants to see them happy, and that’s the only reason.

VRAI: I do wholeheartedly recommend that people try the OVA because I think that one is the best-thought-out version of what the story has become for a lot of people; what I hear a lot of people arguing for when they say that it gets better. The OVA feels like a more thoroughly fermented version of that that also takes the abuse element more seriously. It feels a little bit anime in the anime right now [laughs], but it’s quite good and it looks pretty.

PETER: It was very elegant the way they did that OVA, because I was wondering how they would both avoid it being entirely dark or invalidating the premise of the anime’s beginning. And I didn’t think they could have both, but they kind of did by having the story recontextualize itself based on her future experiences with Elias, which is really clever. That OVA was great.

VRAI: Yeah, it was good. So, it’s worth giving that at least a try and then seeing what your feels are on the anime. I think some people aren’t going to be able to bend over far enough to see where it’s going for as long as it’s looking like it’s going to take, but I think it’s worth a shot.

PETER: Yeah, there’s quite a bit of ground left to cover, so we’ll see how far it gets. Actually, I’m not sure how far it’ll get into the story or if it’ll reach some of those really impactful moments until later. So, even if it’s something that you’re not enjoying now, it might be a bit of a slog to get to the parts where she starts heading off on her own.

VRAI: Yeah. We have gone very long, but I think we’ve had some good, fruitful discussions. Thanks so much for joining me and thanks to Caitlin, who is no longer here, but thanks to her anyway. 

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Thanks so much for joining us, and we’ll see you next time. Bye!


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