Dee, Lauren, and Peter look back on the Spring 2018 season!
Date Recorded: 30th June 2018
Hosts: Lauren, Caitlin, Peter
0:01:19 Umamusume: Pretty Derby
0:08:19 Lupin the 3rd Part 5
0:09:43 Cute High Earth Defense Club HAPPY KISS
0:11:34 Tada Never Falls in Love
0:13:43 Magical Girl Ore
0:21:10 Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-
0:23:54 Yotsuiro Biyori
0:26:58 Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
0:31:46 Last Period
0:42:01 Gundam Build Divers
0:44:21 Gegege no Kitaro
0:45:34 PERSONA5 the Animation
0:54:41 Wotakoi: Love is Hard for an Otaku
0:59:40 Libra of Nil Admirari
1:02:05 Golden Kamuy
1:12:13 Amanchu! Advance
1:12:56 Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
1:13:30 DARLING in the FRANXX (soon)
1:14:53 My Hero Academia
1:19:19 Steins;Gate 0
1:20:24 Record of Granclest war
1:21:55 Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line
DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee, the managing editor at AniFem. I also run the anime blog, The Josei Next Door, and you can find me on Twitter @joseinextdoor.
LAUREN: I’m Lauren Orsini. I contribute to Anime Feminist, and I also have my own blog, Otaku Journalist, otakujournalist.com. But most of the time, you can find me on Twitter, @laureninspace.
PETER: Hey, I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an Associate Features Editor at Crunchyroll, and a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist.
DEE: And today we are doing our season retrospective for the Spring 2018 season. There were a lot of shows and a ton of sequels. So, I think we’ll just get right into it.
As a reminder to folks, we put out a preview guide at the beginning of the season. And we ranked the shows based on the amount of feminist-relevant potential we think they might have, or the things we think feminist-minded viewers might be concerned about. So we’re gonna use that list for the podcast. We’ll start from the bottom, which would be “Red Flags,” and then we’ll move our way up.
Most of the “Red Flag,” “Pit of Shame”-type shows we are not… none of us are watching. So we can just skim right up to “Yellow Flags,” which is Umamusume: Pretty Derby, or as I think everyone is calling it, “Horse Girls.” And it looks like all three of us watched this one, yeah?
LAUREN: Yeah, to the end.
PETER: Wow. All three of us finished? Wow. Good job, P.A. Works.
DEE: Yeah. I know. They hooked us. They hooked us with their horse girls. So, what did y’all think?
PETER: It was okay.
LAUREN: It was a lot of fun!
DEE: Peter sounds a little bit lukewarm.
PETER: Yeah, I mean, I thought it was pretty funny at times. They were pretty good at injecting humor into scenes. I think my favorite character is probably Gold Ship for that reason.
LAUREN: Same here.
DEE: Gold Ship was wonderful.
PETER: Usually the “lol, random” character, I don’t… I think is just a poor attempt at humor, but it seemed like they were also trying to make some deep anime cuts in there. Like when she was hammering those logs into the side of a hill, that was a freakin’ Hajime no Ippo reference. I have no idea who thought of that, but they deserve some sort of medal.
I thought… I think it was pretty well-executed for what they were doing. At the end of the day, it was hard to sympathize with a lot of their goals, ’cause the characters felt really two-dimensional, given the story they were putting out, and the absurd premise of horse girls that race and then get to do an idol concert if they win. I think it was a really good job.
LAUREN: I liked it for the same reason I liked Love Live. It was just really fun to root for these girls as they go towards their goals, and, of course, it’s really fun to ship them.
DEE: [laughs] That is true. I feel like Suzuka and Special Week were about as canon as a couple can get without being actually canon. You know what I mean?
LAUREN: Mm-hmm. It’s really “like mother like daughter” with Special Week, there. She loves having two moms.
DEE: And the show is really cute about that too, the whole way through. “Oh, it’s nice that you have two moms.” And everybody’s really supportive. I mean, one of the moms is dead, so it’s not perfect. But it’s also anime, so the odds of you having two living parents are exceedingly low.
Yeah, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the horse girls. I’m admittedly very hard-up for a lady-led sport series that doesn’t just relentlessly sexualize the characters, and Horse Girls was that. It was a sports show about these characters who were athletes who were trying to achieve their goals, and they had respected rivalries and big races against different kinds of opponents, and there was no… I don’t think the camera ever framed them in a sexualized or objectifying way. I mean, there’s the crappy groping joke that keeps coming up with their trainer, which sucks.
LAUREN: Even in the end!
PETER: Yeah. The last scene.
DEE: Even in the end! Ruined a perfectly fluffy ending by bringing up that terrible “joke.” But even in that, the framing of those scenes, as bad as they are, it’s never really… It’s played for comedy, bad comedy, but not for titillation. Does that make sense?
LAUREN: And the idea is, allegedly, he’s really trying to see if they’re good athletes.
DEE: Yes. Again, bad joke. But I do at least appreciate that the show treats its characters like athletes, not like fetish objects for the audience, I guess, is how I would say that.
LAUREN: Yeah, which is fascinating, considering the whole reason to cross a girl with an animal is… conceptually, you’d think that would make them easier to objectify.
DEE: Yeah, I thought it was gonna be a fanservice-y show going into it.
I guess… I mean, P.A. Works as a studio doesn’t tend to do a ton of stuff like that, which I do appreciate about them, but I was expecting that. And even… They had a beach episode, and I was like, “Oh, no, it’s a beach episode,” and it was… There was a part where they actually had to swim for their training, and they were in athletic swimsuits.
PETER: Yeah, I was gonna bring that up.
DEE: I was like, “This is so nice!”
PETER: I was holding my breath, and then they were all wearing athletic gear, and I was like, “Oh, wow. Really?” That was pretty encouraging.
DEE: And, again, the camera. There’s never any creepy zooms or anything like that. I appreciated Horse Girls for being a nice sports show with moe leanings, I guess is how I would describe it.
PETER: Yeah. I think that when the camera did that most was probably when they did the butler cafe. When it was the biggest in-universe point where they were supposed to be… where anybody was making a big deal out of their physical appearance was when the girls were dressed up as butlers.
DEE: Oh, I do remember that. I thought that was kinda cute.
PETER: Yeah, I mean I think that was funny. That was good. Yeah. I also think it had… probably my favorite subplot in the story was the whole sports injury thing, which I thought was an interesting thing that’s not often done. I mean, we just got After the Rain, which… that was part of the story, but I don’t think it really delved into the sports injury part of it very deeply. I guess I have to say, “getting back on the horse,” don’t I?
DEE: I mean, you had to. It was right there.
PETER: So I was kind of disappointed with the end result, where he’s like, “Oh, both of you made a promise, right?” Then they were magically fixed. But I appreciated them addressing that, especially because the real horse, Silent Suzuka, got injured during a race… Of course, the real Silent got put down…
PETER: So that made me super nervous when she got the real-life injury. But I thought that was a cool kind of subplot that they did that you don’t often see in sports anime.
LAUREN: Yeah, in sports anime, frequently, that’s the beginning of the end. An injury. I’m thinking of Kuroko’s Basketball; Yowamushi Pedal. Somebody gets injured and then they become less relevant.
DEE: Yeah, so having her work through that and come back from it was, like you said, a unique arc. And a good one, too. If you’ve got people watching the show who are athletes… I think having those kind of inspiring arcs are really nice, too.
So, yeah. Horse Girls was surprisingly nice. It’s not necessarily a show I’m gonna want to come back to again and again or anything like that, but I enjoyed it all the way through, I think I would say.
PETER: Yeah. Good for idol fans, but pretty good regardless.
DEE: Yeah, the thing is, I don’t even think of it as an “idol show.” I think of it as a “sports show” because of the different narrative beats it hit, and the fact that the concerts kind of just get ignored after about episode three. They’re like, “Yeah, we don’t actually give a crap about the concerts either,” was the way I felt about the idol elements of it. Maybe you guys disagree with that.
LAUREN: As someone who likes idol shows, I just loved watching them work towards goals the way that you frequently see. The teamwork involved in that, and the shipping potential in that…
DEE: Yeah, that’s a good point. I guess there is some… There’s definitely some crossover between the beats that idol shows hit and the beats that a lot of sports series hit. Umamusume made that crossover happen.
I guess we can just keep moving up this list here. The next one I have tentatively marked is Lupin the 3rd Part 5. Peter, I know you were watching that at the midway point. Did you drop off?
PETER: Yeah. I mean, I intend to finish it. There’s really nothing about the series that made me want to quit it, it was just a time and effort kind of thing. I had too many shows to keep up with. Something had to drop.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, I hit the end of the first Ami arc, which I think was five or six, and I felt like the show was over. I just never had any real desire to go back. I was like, “Oh, I finished an arc. Cool.”
LAUREN: I didn’t start it because I haven’t seen a lot of the old Lupin, and I’m wondering how is it as an entrance point?
DEE: Tough for me to say, because it’s not my entrance point, but I haven’t seen any of the old stuff. I’ve only seen The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and then I watched Part 4. Most Lupin series are… You can pretty much just jump right into them.
If I was gonna give you a starting point, I would say that Part 4 is a little bit more entry-level friendly, and I kind of just enjoyed the aesthetic of that one better as well. But, yeah. If you wanted to just start with Part 5, I don’t think there’s any real reason you couldn’t.
LAUREN: Good to know.
DEE: Especially if you’ve lived in the anime-verse and have a general idea of who the characters are.
Okay, none of us were watching Dance with the Dragons or Fist of the Blue Sky, so we can jump up… Just real quick, I want to mention this ’cause it didn’t get mentioned in the midseason, really. I did… Cute High Earth Defense Club HAPPY KISS, which was the spinoff to the Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE series, which I loved so much. I dropped HAPPY KISS halfway through.
DEE: So, I guess that tells you something about HAPPY KISS. It is… So, they lost their series composer, and I know that scriptwriting in anime is collaborative, and I can’t guarantee that Michiko Yokote not being on the project—I can’t guarantee she had that much influence on it, but I do tend to love her writing, and for me, I could tell there was something missing, and for me, anyway, it definitely felt like it was her. Her ability to write this amazing back-and-forth, stupid, wonderful dialogue.
LAUREN: Yeah, I loved the first two, and I started watching this new one… I saw that the characters were different and I was just like, “Eh.” I’m not… I don’t want to invest in new characters when I have so many other things I could watch this season.
DEE: Yeah. There were certain things about it I kind of liked. There was an element of the two rivalry teams—like the bad guys and the good guys—knew who each other was in and out of school, as opposed to the first season when they didn’t know each others’ identities. And a couple of them are friends and have been friends this whole time, and it leads to… It reminded me of those old Looney Toon cartoons where the coyote and the sheepdog will punch in and fight each other and then punch out and go home together. It kind of led to that sort of a dynamic, which was sort of fun.
But the one-off episodes, they were just kind of bland. Just fell flat for me. And I wasn’t having fun, really, so I kind of just dropped off. Nothing about it I would warn people away from, but it was kind of disappointing given how much I enjoyed Love. I feel like the screenwriters not having Michiko Yokote on hurt the rhythm of the series a bit. So that was a little bit of a bummer.
And then let’s just keep climbing up this list. I guess I’m just gonna keep talking, because the next show that we can discuss here is Tada Never Falls in Love. Spoiler alert, for folks at home—I don’t know how much I should go into this. I’ll keep it vague.
PETER: It’s end of season. [chuckles]
DEE: It was fine. It was… Caitlin talked about this in the midseason so I won’t go too deep into it. There is one just absolutely insufferable supporting character. Otherwise the cast is nice. Some of them I liked quite a bit. A few of them were just kind of there and it felt like the show didn’t need to have as many characters as it did. It probably would have worked better as a movie. I’m not sure they really had enough story for a full 12—was it 13? It might have been 13 episodes.
It was a nice little school rom-com type show. But it’s something I think I’m gonna forget about, and I ended up being disappointed with it because I was really excited to see the director, Yamazaki Mitsue, get her own work. And she’s not credited as the original creator, so she may have been working off someone else’s story, so maybe I can excuse it for that. But I thought it would have a little bit more pizzazz. And it looked really nice. It looked great. But the writing was just sort of by the book.
LAUREN: This might be a spoiler, but did he fall in love? Did he do that?
DEE: That is a spoiler. The title is a lie. He does, indeed, fall in love.
LAUREN: I knew it!
DEE: Yeah. One thing… I mean, I don’t think we ever really thought it would happen, but I know there were some folks watching, myself included, who were kind of like, “Maybe Tada actually doesn’t fall in love and the show is playing with rom-com tropes by not actually having them get together.”
Yeah, no. It’s kind of a Roman Holiday sendup, is basically what the series is. And it’s fine. I watched it all the way through. I looked forward to the new episodes, but it’s not something I’m ever gonna go back to, so… There was an entire episode narrated by the cat that was wonderful. So, you know. Episode three. Check that out.
PETER: I love Garfield.
DEE: I look forward to seeing what else Yamazaki does, because I do still think she’s a very good visual director for sure, but I was a little sad that her first original project wasn’t more striking, I guess.
Next on the list is a show that I dropped but the two of you kept up with, which is definitely, I think, one of those sort of messes I’m curious to hear you guys talk about. Magical Girl Ore.
LAUREN: I reviewed this for Anime News Network, so I was there every week sharing my opinions in real time, and I was very disappointed. What about you, Peter?
PETER: I don’t know if I ever had any kind of expectation around the show, so I don’t know if it would be accurate to describe myself as disappointed. It was very confusing at times. I wasn’t quite sure what the show was trying to go for. It had that great episode where they completely ignore the story entirely to destroy…
LAUREN: I hated that episode.
PETER: Why does everybody hate that episode?
DEE: [laughs] Amelia hated it too.
PETER: I liked that episode.
LAUREN: They parody… The conditions under which anime is made. I thought it was unsuccessful. I gave it a “D” on Anime News Network, and Peter liked it.
PETER: Yeah. What does that say about me, I guess?
DEE: Different comedic tastes, in that.
PETER: I kind of liked the twist with the villain. I thought it was… He was kind of a non-villain. I think that was the best part of the show, because all the romance stuff was really problematic with all the—Sakuyo and then the other girls—Prisma? I don’t remember their names.
LAUREN: Yeah, the Prisma Idols. The girl with silver hair was predatory toward the girl with gold hair.
PETER: Was she predatory?
LAUREN: Yeah. There were two different situations.
PETER: Okay. Yeah, it was the same dynamic where it was just the kind of hopeless het and then the other girl who loved her who was probably wasting her time.
LAUREN: I just can’t believe that happened twice. That these two idol groups… one girl is gay for the other girl and shows it in a very uncomfortable way…
DEE: And they just did it again?
LAUREN: [sighs] Okay, here’s what bothers me about Magical Girl Ore. I did go in with some expectations, Peter. I thought it was going to play with gender in an interesting way. I mean, when they turn into magical girls, they turn into men. And that changes the way the world sees them. That changes the way they see themselves and the way they see each other. I thought that was going to have implications for their relationships. And it really didn’t.
After a while, characters stopped being shocked that magical girls turn into men. It’s just a thing. At first, people were very surprised. They’re like, “Wait. Magical girls… are men?” And then later, it’s like, “Oh yeah, they’re magical girls. See? Look at the muscles.” And the implications about their dicks and stuff.
LAUREN: So that was what was disappointing to me.They had the potential to say something interesting about gender, and they kind of just left that on the table. Additionally, I felt that Magical Girl Ore fell into the trap that a lot of parodies do, where it was trying to parody something and became the thing it was trying to parody.
Even with the villain turning out to be a non-villain, just the arc of the ending turned out to be very formulaic for a magical girl series, to me. There were so many things left on the table. I really wanted to know who Cyborg Fujimoto was, how Saki’s parents fell in love, what her dad’s connection to cyborgs was… there was just a lot that they left. They wrapped up exactly as much as they could get away with wrapping up.
PETER: True. I never really saw anything that made me think it would do anything it was trying to do very… I don’t want to say “intelligently,” but I don’t know if it was making an effort to do that, so much as joking around. I do get what you’re saying where it kind of becomes the thing you’re parodying.
LAUREN: My optimism destroyed me, you’re saying?
PETER: Yeah, probably.
DEE: [laughs] I think I get where you came from, Lauren, though, because I really went into it with… I got three episodes in. I went into it with zero expectations, figured I would maybe make it through the first episode. And I actually, despite a few cringeworthy moments in terms of it being very bad about gender stuff, I actually thought the first episode was wacky fun that was…
Vrai wrote about this too in their premiere review. They were like, “I’m sort of tentatively hopeful. This feels like it could be kind of a wacky gender comedy.” Which, as long as those don’t get mean-spirited, Vrai was like, they can be kind of fun. And that was where I was hoping it would be.
And within the next episode—and that first episode—there were so obviously characters who were… The older guy who was crushing on Saki when she was in her masculine form, and then you knew her friend had a crush on her. So it was like, “Maybe this show will go some fun places with that.”
Within the next episode and a half, it was like, “Oh, no, we’re gonna go with predatory lesbians and molestation jokes.” And then I was deeply disappointed, because I was like, “Oh no, this show is just really mean.” And that was why I dropped it was early as I did. So I get where you’re coming from, Lauren, in terms of why you didn’t like it.
LAUREN: I thought it was mean to the viewer. There were a lot of jokes that were, “Do you really think we’d do that?” Or “Who asked for this in the script?” And it just felt insulting.
I remember there was one where Saki’s mom and the fairy, Kokoro, are moaning at each other, and there’s imagery of a train going into a tunnel, and then they widen out to show them giving each other back massages or whatever. It doesn’t matter. But they’re like, “Wow, I can’t believe you guys assumed that.” Or “what an idiotic thing to put in the script.”
I mean, I guess it was very silly, but I didn’t ask them to put that in the script, and they’re just making fun of me watching it?
PETER: Yeah. I think when I hit the tentacle scene where Sakuyo declared her love for Saki and then Saki was just like, “Well, that makes me uncomfortable,” and she’s just like, “Well that’s not gonna go anywhere.”
LAUREN: And peep on her while she was changing.
PETER: Yeah. They never do anything with the Mohiro thing, where he seems to be attracted to her in her male form either. Mohiro just continues to not be a person. And that becomes a joke actually. Where he never speaks, he just makes these weird gasping noises the series translates for him.
LAUREN: Yeah, he has no voice.
PETER: Yeah, it’s just… And I guess he actually loses his voice at the end, which… I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a second-level joke ’cause he never really talked in the first place, but I guess now he can’t sing, or something.
I guess I liked the villain subplot. I thought it was funny that he was like a Creamy Mami fan who came to our world to find magical girls, didn’t find any, and created his own, and wanted them to be successful idols. I just didn’t have expectations for the other parts of the series, so I found something to like, I guess, is the difference.
DEE: Yeah, so, overall it doesn’t sound like this would be a recommendation. Peter, it sounds like you kind of enjoyed it but not necessarily something you would recommend to our listeners?
PETER: I think I found something to enjoy about it, but I really can’t think of a person who that kind of thing is really… who that would appeal to, I guess. Which is really damning. Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t imagine a scenario where I would go, “Oh, you should check out Magical Girl Ore.”
LAUREN: I actually put it as my worst of the season for the Anime News Network.
PETER: Oh, wow.
DEE: I could see that, especially ’cause you had to watch it every week. If I had been forced to continue watching that show, I probably would have put it there too. So I get that, for sure.
The next one I wanna touch on real quickly… It looks like Lauren and I did our best with it and then just kind of fell off. Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-… I got about seven episodes in. I didn’t dislike it, I just couldn’t care at a certain point. And I’ve been really busy this—I almost said “year,” because it’s been a really long spring. And so it was kind of just one of those going, “I could go back,” and then going, “No, I’m just not invested.” And I ended up dropping it because of that.
What about you, Lauren? It looks like you got about five episodes in?
LAUREN: Yeah, it had a good intro. I love stuff about cooking. And of course the main character was a very good cook and surrounded by handsome, supernatural men. But I feel like there’s a lot to choose from if you want that kind of story.
DEE: Yeah, I think that’s true. To me, Kakuriyo… It’s one of those where I’d be tempted to see what the manga was like, because I don’t know if part of it is maybe it was just blandly adapted. I reached a point where I was always down for seeing what Aoi was up to, and some of the friends she made at the end, and any time her fiance, I guess, showed up, I was like, “I really don’t care about this relationship.”
LAUREN: Yeah, it was a weird power dynamic there.
DEE: Yeah. It was an uncomfortable dynamic.
LAUREN: He kind of owned her, right?
DEE: She was trying to pay off a debt, so “indentured servitude” maybe? And then if she couldn’t make her—I don’t know. It’s a supernatural romance so it was inherently problematic, as a lot of them often are.
Some of them will make it work within the premise, and I thought this one did a good job of making sure Aoi was very capable, very independent; she stood up for herself. I liked her. I just felt like the show wanted me to get into her romance with the dude, and it never earned it for me. I found him, at best, boring, and at worst, unlikeable.
LAUREN: It has the shortfalls of Beauty and the Beast.
DEE: Yeah. I think that… Again, I think sometimes, the story… obviously, there’s an inherent issue in those stories, which we talked about in the premiere review as well. So, you kind of have to work extra hard to get people to go in for that relationship. I think there are ways to do it. I think Kakuriyo thought it was doing that. It seemed to just assume that I was gonna be on board with this relationship without really putting in the legwork to get me to go, “Oh, I could see this.”
LAUREN: She was a really spunky heroine. A real self-starter. Sometimes that can be enough to be like, “Oh, look how capable she is.”
DEE: But I don’t know. It just didn’t really work for me. Kind of sounds like you were in the same boat. So, that’s too bad. I had that happen a lot this season. This season was a little bit disappointing for me, because there were a lot of shows I thought I was gonna be into, and then they kind of fell off along the way about halfway through.
Fortunately, the next one on this list was not one of those. This one was a happy surprise. Yotsuiro Biyori, or, as I like to call it, “Laid-Back Cafe.” Lauren, you finished this one, too?
LAUREN: Yeah. I mean, how could I not?
DEE: [laughs] Yeah. Well, what are your thoughts on this one?
LAUREN: Everything about it should have been boring. It’s just four guys. They’re cute, and they cook. But it was just so calming and so comfortable to come back to every week.
DEE: I think it had a really good sense of humor, too, which always helps me. A lot of those… It’s like if an iyashikei—like, healing-style show—is gonna keep me, it’s because the humor is really good. Otherwise, I’ll start to lose interest.
‘Cause, like you said, nothing really happens. They had customers who came in, and sometimes they had problems and they’d help them with their problems, and sometimes they’d get backstory episodes. And it was really just day-to-day living at this charming little Japanese teahouse with these four good boys.
LAUREN: And their cat. Don’t forget!
DEE: And their wonderful cat who they loved very much. And it was just nice. It was like a refreshing, cool breeze once a week. I don’t think there was ever anything in it that I would consider a caveat for our listeners. Can you think of anything on your end?
LAUREN: Not at all. I was just thinking of when the aunt and her daughter go there, because they saw… This would be nothing less than five stars on Yelp, this cafe.
DEE: Heck yeah. Well, you know, there’s always that one person who’s like, “No I’m gonna give it a one-star review ’cause it was really far from my house.”
LAUREN: Actually, that’s the only way to review this show. If I had been doing it weekly for Anime News Network, I would have given it my weekly Yelp review.
DEE: [laughs] That would’ve been great. I would have loved to have seen that.
Yeah, but it was one of those where I didn’t have to worry about it each week, which was really nice. And it existed in this world that I wanted to live in, where… The main characters, like I said, are these handsome, good-looking boys. I think this thing—I think this ran in a josei magazine initially, so it is kind of appealing to young ladies in that regard.
But I thought they did a really good job of having a lot of female characters who would move in and out of the story. And I want to say, other than the high school kids, obviously, I think they were all career women, who were working hard at their jobs and were coming to the cafe to get a break.
God, I loved the arc with the middle-aged guy who loves sweets and cute stuff and is extremely moe and just respects his lady boss so much. And I loved that Yotsuiro Biyori existed in that very low-key progressive world that I also would like to live in more and more nowadays.
LAUREN: I loved when the boys were reading shoujo manga.
DEE: That was so cute! I forgot about that. They all got super into it. I was like,”Heck yeah. That’s how they get ya.” It was just a really nice little slice-of-life comedy, and I appreciated it every week. Sounds like you kind of did too.
DEE: Yeah. It was nice. This is one… I recommended this in our actual writeup recommendations post, too, and so I will say it again for the listeners: Yotsuiro Biyori, definitely recommended.
Next up on the list. Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. Peter, you finished this one?
PETER: Yup. I mean, the last episode just came out today, so I’m gonna watch it. But I’ve kept up with it, yeah.
DEE: Oh, my fault. I guess we could’ve scheduled this differently. Well, barring it completely face-planting in the ending, what are your thoughts?
PETER: I mean, there’s really only one ending. That the two of them fight, Llenn wins, and then they meet in real life. That’s what’s gonna happen.
DEE: Peter’s calling it now, folks. He hasn’t seen it, just so you know.
PETER: Literally the only new thing to happen.
DEE: It’s not a spoiler. It’s a prediction.
PETER: Well, if Llenn loses at this point, it’s gonna be bad ending, because that means Pito’s gonna kill herself in real life, so that’ll be bad.
DEE: Oh God. Sounds like Gun Gale got intense.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, uh… a little bit. I mean, I think it’s really fun. It’s probably the funnest thing that Sigsawa’s written that wasn’t directed by one of the greatest anime directors of all time.
I don’t think it’s really done anything bad, and it’s a lot of combat stuff, so if you’re not into combat stuff, it probably won’t appeal. It’s basically just a lot of girl gamers fighting each other in Sword Art, or, I guess, the Gun Gale game in the Sword Art universe. They make some references to Sword Art proper, and it’s just this weird death pact kind of thing.
It’s… the… Pitohui is this idol that Llenn likes. They meet online, have no idea who each other are in real life. I think Pito figures out who Llenn is ’cause she wrote a fan letter to the idol, who is the player of Pitohui, and I guess Pithohui’s a little crazy—that’s the point I’m most hoping they do something with, since she’s an idol. And it seems like she has a lot of trouble with real life. It kind of implied that she’s not really able to keep up with being that cute, innocent, chaste image that all Japanese idols have. And so she goes to Gun Gale Online to shoot people, go nuts, and have fun.
And I think she’s… There’s something else there too. I think she’s maybe depressed or something like that. She had the original Sword Art Online but didn’t log in before everybody got trapped in the game. And kind of wishes she had been trapped because it was a life-or-death situation and that would have been exciting. So now she’s decided that she’s gonna be in this squad jam, it’s this battle royale in Gun Gale, and if she dies, she’s gonna kill herself in real life, or something like that.
But she made a promise to Llenn earlier that if Llenn ever kills her, they’ll meet in real life. So, Llenn says she’s gonna kill her before anyone else can so that she doesn’t kill herself and they can meet and talk about it, or something like that. And that’s the plot.
DEE: That got very intense.
PETER: Yeah, Pitohui’s very intense.
DEE: Yeah, I got that sense. I caught two or three episodes of this. It didn’t really do anything for me, so I let it fall by the wayside. I did see some screenshots… You can speak to this. Are there canonical queer characters in this? ‘Cause I saw some people on Twitter getting very excited about that, but sometimes Twitter treats headcanon as canonical representation, and I don’t want our listeners to go into this expecting something that’s maybe there but very implicit. Which is also fine, but, yeah. What’s the…?
PETER: I have seen Twitter calling it the “lesbian death pact anime.” It really… It seems more like friendship between Pitohui and Llenn.
Llenn’s friend, Fukaziroh, makes a lot of jokes to that effect. At one point, Llenn’s gonna die but then she comes in and picks her up and just talks a lot of shit and goes, “Hey, cutie, you think this world has love hotels?” Or something like that. And then they drive off. So she kind of acts like that—a handsome guy picking up a girl, and she was pretending she was driving a sports car instead of a military jeep or something.
DEE: Yeah, I got you. So there’s undertones but not necessarily… It sounds like it’s mostly treated as for fun.
PETER: Yeah, in fact, the only references to romance, really, are M does love Pitohui, although you don’t know if that’s reciprocated, and while he’s talking to her, he gets emotional. I think he’s gonna walk away so he stops her by kabedon-ing her, and then Llenn kind of thinks, regretfully, that her first kabedon was from a guy who was talking about how he loved another girl. So that was the one reference to any kind of romance in the series. Basically besides that it’s just girls having fun playing video games.
DEE: Okay, well, if you like that… It sounds like it’s definitely ship-able, based on what folks have—what I’ve seen on The Twitter, so I wanted to get your take on that, too, before we moved on to Last Period. Again, Peter, you’re gonna be the only one talking about this. I got a few episodes in and dropped this one as well.
DEE: But you finished it and liked it a lot, didn’t you?
PETER: Yeah. I thought it was really fun. Mobile game anime are getting weird, man. This one… I don’t… It said “the story continues in the mobile game” at the end of the last episode, but it did have a good ending, so that’s fine. But I’m wondering if this is actually the story in the mobile game, ’cause if it is, that is just absolutely insane.
It’s the characters going around to fight Spirals, but they’re not really fighting Spirals, they’re fighting these Team Rocket wannabes called “Wise Man.” They’re not even really fighting Wise Man, they’re really just making anime and video game references, and kind of in a very cynical tongue-in-cheek way, where they’re talking about the ways that the industry can be really, really, really shitty.
There’s one episode where they randomly get rich in one episode, and then two episodes later, two of them have spent all their money but Haru, the main character, still has all his money, and they’re in a fight with Wise Man, and he can’t get a good pull from their gacha person and he spends enough fortune to… they bought a couple mansions, each, and that’s how the other guys ran out of money. He spends all of that money trying to get a single five-star, and has a nervous breakdown.
DEE: Oh my God.
PETER: And they have a hot springs episode where they’re trying to save the hot springs, so Shouko…
DEE: Yeah, I saw that one. Kind of made me roll my eyes.
PETER: You didn’t like that one? I thought it was funny.
DEE: Well, I thought the joke about how “our tourism town isn’t getting enough people so we should set an anime here so people will come out to it for the anime tie-in events”—I thought that was pretty clever. There were some pretty decent little jabs within that.
But it did that thing that a lot of shows do that irritates me, where it’s like, “We’re gonna call out the fanservice so that when we put in the fanservice you know that we don’t really mean it.” I know, but you’re still shoving boobs in my face. You’re still sexualizing these characters. Just because you know that’s what you’re doing doesn’t make it not fanservice.
And I almost… I think I find that more obnoxious than just people going, “Yeah, no, that’s what this is. It’s a fanservice show.” ‘Cause at least then you’re upfront about it.
PETER: Yeah, and in other episodes they just have the fanservice without the tongue-in-cheek, so they didn’t even go that far. So, I did… I wrote that in my end-of-season thing. That was probably its biggest failing.
But, I thought a lot of the jokes landed pretty well. There was a Kemono Friends episode where I guess the cute kemono friend was a boy who was really cute, and they were trying to make him quit so that they could fill his job with attractive girls to drive tourism, even though the boy was driving tourism. So they mobilized everyone democratically, got people to sign a petition and eventually pressured the mayor to go back on the decision to fire this tour guide, which I thought was just…
LAUREN: [incredulous] What is this show about?!
PETER: I couldn’t tell you. Every episode…
LAUREN: I thought you said it was a phone game!
DEE: It’s based on a mobile game. It’s a fantasy story about these lovable losers who are trying to save up money. Essentially, that’s the premise. So they go on missions to different towns to try to help them fight these monsters called Spirals.
LAUREN: Yeah, I mean, I got that part.
DEE: Yeah, no, that’s just window dressing almost. It’s really just…Every episode from what I can tell is an excuse to parody something.
DEE: There was an entire episode that parodied Higurashi. Higurashi! Which came out 15 years ago.
LAUREN: Yeah, but it’s still so good. Now I kind of wanna watch this, ’cause this sounds so bizarre just listening to you talk about it.
PETER: I do actually recommend it. It’s really good.
DEE: Yeah, it’s pretty wild. From the episodes I saw—I kind of enjoyed it, and I just—I have a lot on my plate and it fell by the wayside, but it was one that I could have seen myself going back to, so, yeah. Last Period is a pretty wacky comedy.
PETER: There’s three fanservice episodes, but the rest of it is actually really clean. There’s three episodes where they do a lot, but then the rest of it, they seem to be avoiding it, so, yeah. It’s a little hit or miss, but mostly hit.
DEE: Cool. We still have a lot to talk about, so I do want to just keep this moving here. This next one, we’ve all seen, so I feel like we’ll probably chat about it for a bit. HINAMATSURI.
LAUREN: Yeah, this was one of my favorites of the season.
DEE: Same here. I looked forward to this one every week. Maybe the show I looked forward to the most every week. I laugh pretty regularly when I’m watching comedy, but it’s chuckles. HINAMATSURI had me cackling almost once a week. The timing of the jokes, the facial expressions. Everything about it just comes—it came together perfectly. It’s just a really, really well-made comedy. And I adored it. Peter?
PETER: Pretty much same. I came into this season not thinking that anything would even get near Golden Kamuy, but HINAMATSURI is definitely in competition for the number one spot for me. Basically what you said: a really supremely-well-put-together comedy series.
It did a lot of unique stuff. The animation was way better than it had any right to be. It was better than it ever needed to be to execute any of the jokes. It just had that… it was like icing on the cake. And I’ve never seen a comedy series that I think deserved a second season more. Especially with the way they left it off. It almost felt like they were trying to set up a sequel, which I am now praying happens.
DEE: I thought there would be a season two announcement at the end, with the way they ended it. So, I think they’re hopeful. I don’t know how well it’s doing as far as numbers go, DVD sales and things. But fingers crossed. The manga has been licensed by One Peace Books. I think the first volume comes out in August. So, if folks are interested in more Hinamatsuri, we do have that available in English pretty quick here, which is great.
Yeah, I guess we should… We put it in our Yellow Flags, and I think we, for the season recs, I think we all listed it as a “Problematic Fave.” It’s not perfect. It’s got… It’s so hard to describe Hinamatsuri because I feel like when I explain it to somebody it sounds like it’s gonna be really bad, but the way it’s put together mitigates any of the potential issues.
LAUREN: Yeah, it walks this very fine line, doesn’t it? If it teeters a little to one side, it would be downright offensive. If it teeters to the other side, it’s just this depressing show about everything that is wrong with the world. But somehow it was in the middle. It managed to be funny and even heartwarming sometimes.
DEE: Yeah, so, I said this in a tweet three episodes in–and I think there were some episodes that pushed against this a little bit more than I had expected, but overall I think it kind of held true—there’s this sense that the adults are all kind of a mess, and they’re all kind of selfish and irresponsible, but you don’t really get the sense that any of them have genuinely ill intent.
I mean, this is a show where you’ve got a bunch of 12-year-olds hanging out with yakuza and… living in a homeless community, and these situations that in real life would probably be very dangerous. And because of the way the show presents them, it’s sort of inappropriate but ultimately harmless. You feel okay laughing about it because you know that the girls are never in any genuine danger.
Sexual assault doesn’t exist in this world. The kids worry about it, but the adults… It never even crosses anybody’s mind. And it’s one of those things that I don’t think I realized how much I needed that in a comedy like this until it happened. Because so often that happens and it just sours the experience. “Oh, now there’s a genuine threat. Now I’m not having fun anymore.”
So when Hitomi ends up in a bar by herself, and the response is, “Hey, you should make me a drink.” And she’s like, “Well, I don’t know how.” And the guy’s like, “I’ll teach you how to make a drink.” And that’s the comedy. It’s perfect. You feel okay laughing about that, because it’s not like anyone’s in genuine danger from that.
LAUREN: Yeah, there are actual life-and-death experiences in this show. Survival situations. And yet they still come across as light and funny.
DEE: It helps that most of the girls have superpowers. You know that worst comes to worst, they can explode anybody. But, again, there’s never really that fear or that genuine threat, and I think that helps make the inappropriate humor… It keeps everything very light, which I really appreciated about it.
I think it runs in a seinen, so some of the stuff in it, where I’m like, “Well I wouldn’t necessarily want a kid to know about that”—it’s not a series that’s targeted at 12-year-olds. It’s targeted at an older audience to giggle at: “Oh, look at these goofy, irresponsible adults and these kids getting into scrapes” kind of thing. And I think it hits that balance really well. It’s also sometimes really sweet and heartwarming, like you said. And it swings between the two modes very deftly.
PETER: Yeah. It’s even smarter for that reason. There’s a lot of… I’ll use a volleyball analogy. You know where the one player sets it up for the other one to spike it? They do that with jokes, where the girls would… any sort of set up where the girls were about to be sexualized or you’re gonna endanger a 12-year-old, but instead of spiking the ball, they just do something completely unexpected and you start laughing.
Then you start to trust the series for that reason, ’cause early on you’re just like…There’s three or four situations in the first episode where they could have sexualized Hina, or she’s going into this dangerous situation. You think the series is about to get dark. And they just take a U-turn, do something completely unexpected with it, and it’s so funny, and you realized that they could have done the easy thing, but they didn’t do that. It’s better for it.
DEE: They went the full silly—they swerved and went for something kind of different. Yeah, I reviewed the first episode and I spent the whole time constantly tense, waiting for that shoe to drop and then it never did, and I’m like, “This is great! I’m having a very good time!”
PETER: Yeah. It kept it up.
DEE: Yeah. I appreciate the wacky family hijinks that go on in that show, and it sounds like we all did. Like I said, it’s not perfect. If minors in peril—I think that’s how Vrai worded it—if that’s something that is going to bother you no matter what, then stay away from it. But I think it balances its elements in such a way that you can go in and just laugh and have a good time.
Okay, so the next one… Lauren, I saw you just put a little check mark in this box. Gundam Build Divers, you’re watching that one?
LAUREN: Yes. And I will be watching it until the end, but that doesn’t mean I would recommend it to everyone. Definitely if you’re a hardcore Gundam fan, you should be watching it, ’cause there are really deep cuts in the references to older shows. In fact, I have a column on my site for Gundam fans, gunpla101.com, that’s just about pointing out all of that. I have Tom Asnible on Twitter writing that. But you asked me before this podcast if I would recommend it to you as someone who likes Gundam Build Fighters, right?
LAUREN: And I’m not sure I would at this point. Because what was great about Gundam Build Fighters is it had this really powerful drive on behalf of its characters. The main character really wanted to catch up with his dad and become the best Build Fighter, and here the plot is… We’ve got this bland protagonist who is interested and excited about exploring an MMORPG about Gundam. That’s the whole story, really. “Let’s see what kind of cool things there are to do in this fictional game.”
DEE: So it doesn’t really sound like there’s a narrative arc. It’s more just episodic adventures?
LAUREN: Yeah. And so if you’re a hardcore fan, you’ll be watching it to see “Oh, wow, they referenced that really old show. I feel seen.” But what’s interesting is in the second half, which is going to continue this summer, it could get better, because the villain is actually a guy who wishes we would go back to the world of Gundam Build Fighters.
DEE: Oh, okay.
LAUREN: He’s unhappy with the change. Just like a lot of viewers are, like me. The villain is very relatable, and that’s a real twist that could change how I view the second half. So, you know, check in with me later.
DEE: Yeah, for sure. I’ll be curious to see how it works out at the end and if it’s something you recommend by the time you get to the finale, ’cause I did enjoy… I enjoyed Build Fighters. I’m watching Tri right now. I’m not liking it quite as much, but I’m still having fun with it. So I’ll be curious to see if Divers ends up being something you think I should check out or not.
Okay, and then, I guess the next one… Peter? Listeners, we have a chart where we marked which shows we were watching this season. The next one on my list is Gegege no Kitaro. Peter has written the letter “D” and I don’t know what that means.
PETER: Dropped. Stopped. I am not against picking it up later. It’s just like Lupin, I kind of…
DEE: There were a lot of shows.
PETER: I fell off. Maybe I should have put an “F” for “Fell off.”
DEE: Yeah, I just wasn’t sure what that meant, so I thought I would double check.
LAUREN: Yeah, I thought maybe you gave it a D?
PETER: Nah, nah, nah.
DEE: Harsh. I thought people were liking this one.
PETER: Yeah, I liked it pretty good. I think it’s fun. Doesn’t really have any problematic content. It’s got capers. Pretty good animation, all things considered. It’s probably an anime… Could you show it to kids? I think so. I think it’s that good—is it called “child horror?” I can’t remember. It’s spooky stuff that kids can watch.
DEE: Yeah, that was the sense I got from the first episode. That it would be kind of a family-friendly ghost story.
PETER: Yeah. And there’s action and jokes, too, so it’s got a bunch of stuff to like. I think it was a fun show, but yeah. Just like Lupin. There was a lot to keep up with this season, so there had to be sacrifices.
DEE: Yeah, there was.
I think that takes us out of the “Harmless Fun” category and into our top groups here. So, as far as “Feminist Potential” goes, we had a couple of shows here. PERSONA 5 the Animation. Peter, I think you’re the only one of us who was watching that one. So, sorry, you have to keep talking.
PETER: I thought… I was kind of disappointed early on, ’cause it didn’t really do anything new with the series. In fact, it copied even more than it should have from the game. A lot of the fights literally just have the in-game graphics where they do the all-out attacks and stuff, which…
DEE: I heard they kept in some of the shitty stuff, too, like the predatory gay dudes, I believe is how I would describe them?
PETER: Yeah, they left those in. Sure did.
DEE: [sarcastically] Good job.
PETER: I was like, “Okay, well, if you’re gonna copy the game directly and not add stuff, at least you can take out the bad stuff.” They didn’t do that either.
Near the end of the series, they did include one scene that I’m pretty sure was anime-original, which was actually a scene between Makoto and Ann where… One of the things that drives Makoto to your group is Ann calls her useless, which is something that people have been doing to her for a long time, and she gets really pissed off and ends up doing something really reckless that drives a plot point and ends up getting her to join the Phantom Thieves.
And that’s kind of… It was a good thing in the game, but in the anime, later on, I guess Ann felt bad about the thing she said when Makoto ended up being a really useful member of the group. Really dedicated to the cause and everything. So they have a conversation later where she apologizes and then Makoto says, “I think we’re pretty similar.” And they have a talk about the bad things they said to each other and forgive each other and decide to be friends. Which I thought was a good scene.
DEE: Yeah, that’s a nice addition.
PETER: Yeah, the one good addition. Also they made my OTP be canon OTP in the anime, so I got that. Besides that, it’s pretty much the same as the game. Good opening.
DEE: Okay. So I guess: game fans, check it out. It’s hard. We’ve yet to have anyone talk about this anime who hasn’t played the game, so we still don’t know if it’s accessible if you aren’t familiar with the game or not, but I guess maybe give it a try if it sounds okay to y’all.
PETER: Yeah, I wonder that a lot.
DEE: It’s running into… It’s two-cour, right? It’s running into the summer as well?
PETER: I believe so. Yeah.
DEE: Well, if things take turns, keep us posted in upcoming podcasts.
Next one. This was a big hit this season. It looks like Lauren has not watched this one.
LAUREN: Not at all. Sell me on it.
DEE: Me and Peter. Well, here’s the thing. The next one is MEGALOBOX. Peter and I both finished it. I know a lot of folks online were real high on it. I think Peter and I are maybe in the minority here. We were sort of underwhelmed by the finale. And I don’t know how—it’s one of those—I don’t want to spoil things, but…
PETER: I feel like you have to, because the bad part is it had a bunch of build up to nothing. The ending was the bad part, right?
DEE: I think what got me with MEGALOBOX is in the first six episodes, there were a lot of these social commentary elements. The main character is an undocumented citizen. There’s even a little cross in his car that has Spanish writing on it. Or, I guess it’s in his trainer’s car.
So, it feels like they’re drawing some connections as far as immigrant populations and coming from a place where you don’t have much, and how he’s able to fight his way up. He doesn’t wear the gear, so there’s this element of privilege and having to work your way up having that handicap.
And then at the halfway point he fights a guy who was in this horrible war overseas, lost both of his legs, comes back, gets prosthetics, fights his way back into the ring. So there’s a lot going on. I got to the midway point and I was like, “I think this series is a commentary on America even though I don’t think it takes place in America.”
And then the second half is really just “Punch Man Punches Other Man.” So, I felt like it was gonna go some place with all that stuff, and I felt like it never really did. And so I kept wondering if maybe I had just missed something? So, listeners, if you see the full picture of MEGALOBOX, please let us know in the comments. Because I would like to know if I am missing something and if there’s a way for me to appreciate this.
But it felt like they threw it into the story more as window dressing than as something they were actually gonna do anything with, and I ended up being disappointed with it because of that.
PETER: Yeah. I dunno, even the aspects of the story that they included outside of the setting were underserved. Yukiko’s subplot was just this confusing nothing. She basically existed to be betrayed by Yuri so he could… whatever her ambitious goal was, instead of doing that, punch another guy, because that was more important. But you find out her ambitious goal was just getting a military contract while trying to maintain this absurd moral high ground that the gear that she’s making is not a weapon, even though she’s selling it to the military to be used as a weapon.
What the hell was any of that? Were they trying to… First of all, it was basically saying, “Yeah, you two had an agreement, but toxic masculinity is more important.” But also, even… She’s just being… I guess she’s Google. She’s just trying to pretend she’s this freedom fighter who just wants military contracts. What was her subplot? What was it supposed to be? What was its point besides just contributing bad stuff to the story?
DEE: Yeah, and they kept framing it as, “Oh, she had another thing she wanted to do and just had to get this first step done before she could move on to the other stuff.” We never… There were a lot of very poorly-defined subplots in the story. Yukiko’s, obviously. Yuri… Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think we ever really learned much about him.
DEE: I felt like I got to this finale, and they really wanted me to be rooting for him as much as I was rooting for Joe, and I was like, “I don’t know anything about this guy.” I have no idea other than that he likes to fight. That’s all I know.
And so it made it really hard for me to—’cause again, in that middle arc where you meet… I’m blanking. The war vet who comes back to boxing. You get so much of his backstory and motivation and his history, and those fights were really good because I ended up cheering for both of them.
PETER: Yeah, that’s true. He got… I was more supportive of him than I was of Yuri. I didn’t know who Yuri was, but I knew who that guy was, and why he was fighting. Yeah. So true.
DEE: Yeah. So it’s like we get to the final arc and they just expect me to give a damn about Yuri, and I’m like, “I really don’t. I don’t understand your motivation for teaming up with Shirato in the first place. And now I kind of understand why you’re pulling back from that, because you really wanna punch this guy, I guess, but I don’t know enough about your history to know why that would be important to you. “
As opposed [to]… I know enough about Joe. I understand Joe’s history and why he is motivated to get in the ring and why he does what he does—and I don’t know with Yuri. And, again, that same thing with Yukiko. It felt like there was more there that just got left on the cutting room floor. But it made the final arcs fall flat for me.
I mean, I do love that the internet has decided that Joe and Yuri are a couple now. I think there’s enough in-story… ‘Cause, Peter, I told you afterwards, I was like, “Is this a love story?” ‘Cause if this is a love story, I guess I can kind of get behind it, but that’s the only way I can read this in a way that makes it resonate, ’cause otherwise I’m just not really sure… Maybe I missed something? Listeners, please let me know. I would love to appreciate this show more than I did. And maybe because of the way I watched it, I missed something.
PETER: I agree. That’s probably the best read on the ending. [laughs] “How did you and Dad get together?” “Oh, he put me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.”
DEE: Punched him so hard his spine snapped. [laughs]
MEGALOBOX was… I think the first half was really, really good, and then I don’t think it had enough. It either didn’t have enough time or it had too much time. I’m not sure. But I don’t think they spent as much time on the elements that were there early on in the final, and so it kind of fell flat for both of us.
PETER: Tragic, yeah.
DEE: So I ended up not recommending it and I thought I would, but oh well. Again, I know a lot of other folks who liked it. So if you like sports anime, I would say give it a try, and maybe somebody can pitch us an article that will defend the show.
PETER: Watch Hajime no Ippo instead, is my recommendation.
DEE: Yeah. So, that kind of brings us… I feel kind of bad about this. I put Major Second in these upper categories and then none of us watched it because it was more of a kid show and none of us were really drawn to the baseball series. So we won’t chat about that, but, again, listeners, let us know if you watched it and how it turned out.
Lauren, you did finish Wotakoi: Love is Hard for an Otaku, right?
LAUREN: Yes, and I recommend it, too. I liked it a lot. I’m surprised you guys weren’t watching it. Is it because it’s behind the Amazon paywall?
DEE: No, I have… whatever it’s called.
PETER: Amazon Prime?
DEE: Yeah, I have Prime. I.. I tried it. My thing with Wotakoi—and I will go over this real quick because I don’t really want to yuck anybody’s yum—I don’t think I have anything really against it. My thing with it is I felt like the characters were just cardboard cutouts that you were intended to self-insert into, as a nerd. And if you didn’t map exactly onto that character, then there was really no way to connect with them.
I’m not sure if that makes sense or not, but I just… They didn’t feel like fully fleshed-out individuals for me, so I got three episodes in and I kind of got annoyed with it and it just wasn’t working for me at all, so I dropped it.
But you liked it all the way through, so please. Tell us about it.
LAUREN: Sure. I mean, I was excited for this even before it aired, because I saw that it was one of the most popular things on Pixiv, as a manga. By a rookie author. By someone who was just like, “I’m gonna draw this in my spare time.” So I was really excited to see what was created outside of the writers’ room. Just somebody in their house.
And I thought there were a lot of hallmarks of this really genuine, authentic fandom that the creator was trying to insert in there. And it was merged with this very polished look, the way that each character is color-coded and stuff. And the animation was very smooth. I love the opening sequence. I’ve seen that gif so many times.
DEE: Oh, the opening’s great. Yeah, I like the opening a lot.
LAUREN: Yeah. Basically, it is two, followed by a third, heterosexual couple, and they’re geeks. That’s what makes it unique, but other than that… I mean, it’s pretty much standard stuff. And really when you see queer stuff, it’s just in a fetishized version. The two main female characters are always arguing which of their boyfriends would be a better top in a BL relationship. There’s no space for queerness outside of—
DEE: [crosstalk] Ugh, that’s cringeworthy a little bit.
LAUREN: —outside of BL.
DEE: Yeah, I saw some screenshots. I know one of the guys is really into yuri too.
LAUREN: He’s into moe.
DEE: Okay, maybe screenshots… I didn’t watch too far into… He was buying yuri volumes in episode two.
LAUREN: Oh, okay. I know that one of the girls was really into Hajimete My Hero, which was not a great BL series. I don’t think any of us would recommend that.
DEE: Yeah, I don’t think so either. And I guess that was kind of my thing with watching it was—for me, the characters felt kind of stereotyped, and in very broad strokes in the sense that, “Oh, the girls are into BL and cosplay because all girl geeks are into BL and cosplay, obviously.” And the boys were into video games and yuri because that’s the nerdy stuff boys are into.
And maybe this got better. It’s very possible this got better and it was just my impatience with the first three episodes. But then it would be things like you had the one guy who was really into video games. I have friends who are really into video games; they’re not into every video game. They’re into RPGs or strategy games or maybe a couple different genres, but not every single thing. They have no interest in shooters but they really like these other kinds of games.
And with… This is my bulk example. It was like, “Oh, no, he just likes all games.” And I can’t connect to that character because that’s not my experience with actual nerds. Again, it felt to me like you were supposed to self-insert into one of these people, and I didn’t. So that was my struggle with it.
LAUREN: I think over time they become… they develop these character beats. I love the episode where they all go to the amusement park and the two characters who are afraid of scary rides end up getting stuck in the car together, while the two characters who are just totally calm and having a normal conversation behind them are in a car together. And you start to see what makes each of these characters unique.
DEE: Okay, that’s good. I’m glad to hear that their personalities get further fleshed out as the series goes. So, Lauren, do you think you would recommend Wotakoi to our listeners, then?
LAUREN: Yeah. I think it doesn’t really go above and beyond in being a feminist fave, but I don’t think there’s anything that people would find offensive.
DEE: Well, other than the fetishization of—
LAUREN: Oh, of course, yeah.
DEE: Which you mentioned, so…
LAUREN: Yeah. I just thought it was fun as a character-based sitcom.
DEE: That’s good. I’m glad you liked it. I know Caitlin enjoyed it too. She’s talked about it periodically as well, so we’ve definitely got some staffers who enjoyed it, which is nice.
The next one on the list… I can keep this real short. I’m the only person who got a little bit into it. Libra of Nil Admirari. It was the season’s otome adaptation. I am the resident otome apologist and I couldn’t finish this one. So, that says something.
I was kind of into it. It’s sort of blandly put together, but I kind of… The central story was really neat and interesting to me in terms of: cursed books that possess people, and the power of fiction, and how that works and whether you should—there’s these undertones about, “Oh this story has given people bad ideas so we should burn the book,” and the main character’s like, “No, we need to preserve these. It’s not the book’s fault,” kind of thing. So there were these neat elements, and there ended up being some intrigue and some competing factions, and I was like, “Yeah, I can get into this.”
And then right around episode six, they had a one-shot episode about one of the supporting characters that featured a… the supporting character was a writer, and it featured an obsessed fan who was murdering people. Oh God, what was the…? Basically, the writer had written a murder mystery about a woman who was murdering the guy she liked’s suitors so eventually he would only be with her and become obsessed with her. And that’s why she did it, because he would always think about her.
So this was this horror story he wrote. Well, one of his obsessed fans ends up enacting this in real life, and it turns out the fan is, I guess, a trans woman? Either a trans woman or a gay man dressed in women’s clothing. It’s not clear because it’s very poorly done. It’s like… It was just the worst possible “evil queer person” stereotype. The way they drew the character was caricatured and awful. And I didn’t like the show that much, so there was not enough there to get me to work through that, so I dropped it like a hot potato. And I never came back. And that’s Libra of Nil Admirari.
DEE: I have nothing else that I feel like I need to say about that one.
PETER: It felt like going in… I was probably more interested in that one than I am in most otome. But, yeah, I lost [interest] after a couple episodes.
DEE: It had a cool premise. Bland characters. And then it did something real bad, and I was done. So. Yeah.
Next one on the list we can all talk about. We don’t really rank them 1-2-3, but it ended up being our top series because it started with the highest letter in the alphabet. And this was Golden Kamuy.
DEE: I’ve been talking for a while. Y’all can lead this conversation.
LAUREN: I can’t believe I slept on it for three weeks. People were still raving about it, so I was like, “Oh, I gotta watch this,” and I’m so glad I did.
DEE: I kind of did the opposite. I watched the first three. Was having a hard time getting into it. I couldn’t figure out what it was, I think, as far as what the show wanted to be. And I ended up basically dropping it, and I was like, “Well, I’ll check out the manga,” ’cause the production values were kind of killing me in the early episodes as well.
And then I decided to kind of go back to it on a whim and got completely sucked up in it. I can’t believe I almost dropped it. So, yeah, I am with you on that one for sure, Lauren.
PETER: I knew ’cause I read the manga, so…
DEE: You read the manga. Well, and I was like, “Oh, I’ll check out the manga for sure,” I just… Those CG bears, ya’ll.
LAUREN: I didn’t think they were that bad.
DEE: They got me. They were really bad.
LAUREN: I guess it’s because I heard about the CG bears before I saw them.
PETER: It was in the PV. I was like, “This isn’t a surprise, guys, shut up.” I was actually kind of angry that people were only talking about the bear when there was so much else to talk about. [laughs] It was like… There’s good stuff.
DEE: Yeah. Truthfully, I thought the production values were… The team doing the show obviously cares about it a lot, and I do not mean this as a slight against them. “Oh, they’re so lazy,” or anything like that. They’re, I think, a new studio, and they picked a very action-heavy, detailed series to do as one of their first works, and I think they were maybe a bit overstretched.
But the show obviously… There’s clearly a lot of love put into it, and I think it smooths out a little bit as it goes, or maybe I just got used to it. And then once I realized that the show is also a campy, road-trip comedy, the goofiness of the bears kind of fit in, and then I started to enjoy them. They’d show up and I’d be like, “Yay, it’s a bear!” So… Well-played, Golden Kamuy Animation Staff.
PETER: Yeah, I actually don’t know how the story does it. It has… I think if you want to say anything good about the anime adaptation, it’s that they managed to keep whatever magic is occurring in the manga still going; where there are scenes that are horrific but still funny, or they can just effortlessly transition from the scene where Sugimoto’s slowly pushing his knife into a guy’s chest to him and Asuka cooking a meal and him getting really grossed out ’cause he has to eat a fish eye or something.
And it just… It’s such a big tonal change, but it feels so organic that you don’t question whether it happened in the same universe; the same story. You just accept it and the… I didn’t ever get that kind of dissonance in the anime either. So, that has to be hard. That’s gotta be hard, doing something like that.
LAUREN: I think it’s the setting. These characters have a really hard life, so when they do have a chance to have fun, they really go all-out with just amazing faces when they’re eating.
PETER: Yeah. I think it’s worth saying that there is kind of one problematic element, and I think it was the second-to-last episode. The hotel episode. I knew this was gonna happen, so going into this, I was a bit wary. There’s a trans serial killer who eats people to remain young forever. And I was like, “Oh no, this episode.” But then that became my favorite episode.
DEE: The murder hotel?
PETER: Yeah. I loved the kabedon that Ushiyama did. I loved that split panel where it showed where everyone was standing, like in a cross-section in the hotel.
LAUREN: Yeah, I paused on that, ’cause that was so cool.
PETER: Yeah, I really want to get to that in the manga to see… ‘Cause I bet it’s a double-page spread or something like that. I loved Ienaga, too, where she was just like, “Guess I’ll kill him,” and then [cracking up] just drops him into the death trap. It was…
DEE: Yeah, the thing is… Ienaga is her name right?
DEE: ‘Cause in the episode they just call her “The Proprietress” for the most of it, so I couldn’t…
LAUREN: Sometimes they call her “him.”
DEE: There was… Okay, I went back and watched the episode and paid very close attention to the Japanese. It’s complicated and it’s not well done. I want to make it clear that this is absolutely an issue, and if this was a dealbreaker for folks, I would completely understand. I think all three of us really enjoyed the series, but I get it.
The way the characters refer to her is: when they talk about knowing her in the prison, they refer to her as the “jijii,” which is Japanese for “old geezer” and it refers to men in general. So, when they shift into speaking about “this person we knew in prison,” they use that term. And then anytime they’re talking about her in the present day, they refer to her as “The Proprietress,” which is a gendered term. It’s “Ookami.”
And so the subtitle translation… They never use actual pronouns, but the subtitle translation kind of tries to walk that line, so when they’re referring to her in the past tense, they slip into “he” at one point; but by and large, they maintain the “she” which would come with the “Ookami.”
So the sense I get, and this is—not an expert on this subject. Folks at home, please let us know in the comments what we’re getting wrong here. My understanding is it is not super uncommon in Japan in the current day, even among trans folks… We have the manga The Bride Was a Boy, which the author okay’d that title and wanted that to be the title.
LAUREN: Yeah. Have you read that? Because she talks about, “When I was a boy,” which I know that a lot of people would find very offensive. If I said to a trans person, “Hey, back when you were this…”
DEE: Yeah, and it’s one of those things where different cultures are moving in different directions, and so I super don’t want to talk over Japanese trans folks in this situation. My understanding is that it’s still fairly common to refer to yourself in the past tense by what your presentation was at the time. So it’s not all that unusual…
The fact that Golden Kamuy does that, shifts between the two, I think is about as respectful as it can get, given the fact that this is a trans cannibal serial killer character. There is a long history of evil trans characters in media, so the act of having a trans villain is kind of inherently problematic because of that long history. Which, again, is why if this upsets folks, totally get it. You know, feel free to discuss.
If you can get past that, I think the series handles it about as well as it can. She’s gonna stick around. We’ll see more of her in season two, so we’ll get a better feel on… I’m kind of reserving judgement until I see how they handle her. But this is, like we said, kind of a wild, campy show about a lot of bonkers murderers, so she fits into the universe. But, yeah, it’s one of those things where it’s hard to talk about.
Again, I don’t think the three of us are necessarily the most qualified to discuss it anyway. So, it is something that I would encourage our trans listeners to weigh in on for sure, and how you saw her, how you felt about her, all of that. Let us know for sure.
PETER: Yeah. But outside that, it’s amazing.
DEE: I had a good time. Like you said, it is… It is so much more absurd than I think I was expecting it to be. Even a lot of the action scenes are ridiculous. I mean, the freaking orca whale that just jumps up on the beach and grabs a dude out of nowhere. I laughed until I about cried. I had to pause, because I couldn’t read the subtitles ’cause I was laughing so hard at that scene.
PETER: [through laughter] And he was so happy about it.
DEE: He was so happy about being tossed around by the orca whale. Yeah, it’s the weirdest show and I don’t know exactly how it works, but I love that it works, by and large. So, yeah. I enjoyed Golden Kamuy a lot.
I like the glimpses into Ainu culture that it gives. I think it’s so far been very respectful. I know there’s been a lot of articles about how much the creator researched this and talked to actual Ainu people and wanted to make sure they got it right, and I super appreciate that, ’cause you do not see Ainu culture in anime hardly at all, so…
PETER: Yeah, the production was very serious about it as well. I’ll go ahead and plug the work I’ve been doing. Crunchyroll’s been translating all the official interviews that they did with staff and cast on the Golden Kamuy website and we’ve been putting it up, it’s under my byline on Crunchyroll. And so I’ve been posting these things and reading all the interviews, and pretty much everybody who’s working on the project has gone to Hokkaido, went to an Ainu museum, went to an Ainu village, had tools demonstrated to them.
All of them read the manga and loved it, and they were… You get the sense that everybody is very serious about portraying Ainu accurately. That’s the throughline I’m getting from all these interviews, so just reading this, I got much more respect for the way the anime was made, ’cause it seems like they’re really paying a lot of attention to how Ainu are portrayed and try to make it true-to-life and respectful.
LAUREN: That makes me so happy. So it’s like we’re learning new stuff with Golden Kamuy.
PETER: Yeah. A couple of them said that they were happy to work on the anime because it was an opportunity for them to learn as well. So, yeah, you can definitely take something out of it. It’s a good series. A lot of the interviews are really good.
DEE: Yeah, I should check those out for sure, now that I… I finished the series two days before we did this podcast, ’cause I really just binged it on a whim this week. I was like, “Yeah, I should probably catch up on that one so we can talk about it” and ended up having a really good time with it. Asirpa’s great. …”Asirpa?” That’s kinda how they pronounce it in the Japanese but I don’t know if that’s… She’s so good.
So, yeah. I guess that’s Golden Kamuy. Anything else you guys wanna add? I feel like we gushed about that for a bit.
PETER: And we talked about a lot of the Asirpa-Sugimoto dynamic and how great Asirpa is in the midseason podcast, too, so…
DEE: That’s true. So we can direct folks to that for more on that central relationship. But, yeah, it would have been remiss for us not to talk about the trans character who shows up near the end, so I’m glad we spent most of our conversation time on that.
Okay, we are way over time, but we haven’t talked about sequels at all, so do we wanna lightning-round this, and I’ll give everyone three sentences or something?
DEE: All right, lightning round! We’ll start at the top and work our way down. Amanchu! Advance. Really loved it. Was planning on recommending it. In episode 11, they no-homo the main characters as hard as they possibly can with a whole line that’s like, “Oh, you’re a boy, so your feelings for her are obviously going to be different from my feelings for her because I am a girl.” And I don’t know if I’ve ever been that disappointed in a show in a single line of dialogue. It was awful. So, Amanchu’s great. Just stop at episode ten, season two, and you’re good to go.
Next. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. Peter, go!
PETER: It was… Maybe halfway through the story. They’re probably gonna make a new season, so… I liked what I watched, even though it got a super slow start. Kind of ended on a high point with a really great conversation between her older brother and her father, which I was not expecting. Came out of nowhere. It was seven minutes of dialogue that was really excellent. So, I’m actually now excited for the next season. So, high point.
DEE: Oh, that’s nice to hear. That’s the most positive review of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card I’ve heard thus far.
PETER: Yeah. I don’t know why people say they don’t like the ending. The ending is the part I liked the most.
DEE: Okay. The next one’s DARLING in the FRANXX. I might skip this one, because I think we’re planning on… The show’s not over yet, right? Am I correct on that?
LAUREN: Yeah. It’s not over.
DEE: It’s running late. The timeline on it is weird. So we can’t really talk about it in its entirety. And I think Caitlin’s planning a single retrospective because there is so much to unpack in that hot mess.
PETER: Yeah, we have to.
DEE: Lauren, real quick. I’m not sure if you’re gonna be on that podcast. Any lightning-round thoughts you wanna add to the FRANXX course?
LAUREN: Yeah. For a show that seems to be about encouraging reproduction, this sure destroyed my marriage for a while. Pretty much every fight in my house was about…John would be like, “Oh, they’re just trying to parody this idea.” And I’m like, “No. They are absolutely getting into conservative politics here.”
DEE: So he was desperately hoping that they were gonna go someplace with it and you were like, “No, John. You’re giving it too much credit.”
LAUREN: Yeah. For him, optimism was the big destroyer. And my hopes were already dashed. But we’re still gonna watch to the end.
DEE: Well I mean at this point, you’re already in for a penny, in for a pound, right? And yeah, I think we’ll discuss this in detail on a separate podcast.
Next one I have on the list was Hozuki’s Coolheadedness. I like it. But I’ve been very busy and I haven’t started the new season yet. I will get to it one of these days.
Next one. This is gonna be the longest of the lightning rounds. My Hero Academia Season Three. Peter. Go!
PETER: Oh, wow. Awesome. Stupendous. Fantastic. This stretch had probably its greatest episode and maybe one of the greatest moments in shounen anime. So you should definitely pick the series up if you haven’t already. It’s very good.
LAUREN: I love it. I mean even today, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s kind of a fluff episode, and even that just kept my attention the whole time. I love these kids and their hijinks, and how they all interact.
DEE: All right, my turn. I actually came within a hair’s breadth of dropping three episodes in.
DEE: I stalled for almost the entire season, and then one Friday evening I went, “Okay, you know what? I’m gonna give it another try because everybody likes it and it’s nice to be able to talk about shows with my friends.” And then I immediately got sucked back into it and it was great. But the—here’s the thing about My Hero. The first couple episodes of this season was a lot of [exasperated] Mineta bullshit and girls getting sexually harassed and female characters getting treated like crap. And I got really annoyed with it.
When it’s not doing that, My Hero Academia, like you guys said, is great, and I love it. And so the rest of the season was excellent. But I think it’s gonna keep wearing on me. Every time it slides into the sexist stereotypes and the “harassment is funny” nonsense, it’s gonna lose me a little bit more every time it does it. So, that is my big thing with it. I am very glad I came back. I’ve enjoyed this season a lot since those first couple episodes, but I get it if people are like, “No, I’m done.”
PETER: If Mineta’s too much, then yeah.
LAUREN: Yeah, he’s not gonna go away. None of the characters… What I like is that the girls don’t take him seriously, but he is still there.
DEE: And the teachers don’t do anything about it. Bless his soul, Iida actually tries to stop him, and is the only boy in that entire pool of so-called heroes who actually tries to stop him from peeking on girls in the bathroom on their side of the wall.
PETER: Koda was the true hero for making an attempt on his life, I think.
DEE: Koda did good, and Iida is a good boy. He’s the best boy, and I’ll fight anyone in the street about that one. No, Mineta sucks.
Then again, you get these adult heroines and they have jokes about wanting to marry the teenage kids, which is not great. And they frequently get sidelined. And Momo builds a tracking device for them, which is awesome, and gets them costumes, which is awesome, and then the actual fight comes around and all the guys do something and Momo just stands there.
It’s little things like that that just… I want to just love this show wholeheartedly, and I’m so close to it. So these little things stand out all the more because of how much I just wanna love it, ’cause there’s so much good in here.
Sorry, I know I’m railing on a show that I genuinely enjoy, but I did come very close to dropping it, and I just kind of had to explain why.
LAUREN: Yeah, I feel like it’s easier to focus on the “everything but” about a show, you know? If something is really good then it’s even more worth criticizing, where if it’s a show we don’t like, we’re just not gonna spend time on it. Or care about it being better.
DEE: Yeah, and that’s my thing. I think it’s so close to being the complete package of a really excellent series about superheroes for a young adult audience, and so every time it does those things where I’m like, “Most of the time you’re teaching your audience really good, admirable things,” and then every once in a while this crap comes up and I just cringe. But overall, really good. Sorry. That lightning round went longer. But we had all been watching it, so I thought we might need to talk about it a little bit more.
PETER: I agree. All those things, I think, are gonna be things that poisons its legacy. Which really sucks. And I hope it gets better.
DEE: Yeah. I would like to… My hope is that… I loved that All Might’s mentor is a woman and we get flashbacks of her inspiring him during the big fight he has in this arc. I thought that was absolutely wonderful. That’s the kind of stuff I want to see more of. I just want to see more of that balance of women being able to inspire men in the same way that the guys inspire each other and also the ladies.
PETER: It’d be great if there was a hero like her alive, though.
DEE: Yeah. I mean, you’re right. But I’m focusing on that because I thought it was really good, and that’s a good place the show could build from and so I would like to see more of that going forward. That would be fantastic.
Next show on the list. Steins;Gate 0. I’m the only one watching it. It’s trash, but by God, I can’t stop watching. I get into the twisty time-travel mystery element of the stupid thing and I get sucked in. And it’s got a lot of the same light novel bullshit the first season had. So, I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anybody, but I look forward to it every week and I want to see where the heck it takes itself.
Also, one point I will give in its favor: the main character has PTSD and is dealing with grief for pretty much the entire series. And it doesn’t go away. It continues to crop up and he continues to have panic attacks and get ill with certain triggers. And so I appreciate the way the show is handling those elements, even if it also throws in some of the crappy fanservice and is really not good with Rukako, who is functionally a trans character, and the series just continuously misgenders her and it’s really frustrating.
But yeah, no, I’m watching Steins;Gate 0. Next, Record of Grancrest War. Lauren, go! You finished it, right?
LAUREN: Yeah, I sure did. I had to review it for Anime News Network, which is why I finished it. I did not even want it, but people voted for the second cour as well as the first, so I just kept going.
PETER: It’s mega-popular.
LAUREN: Basically it’s about a main male character who can do everything right. It’s a high fantasy. He conquers everything and becomes the emperor at the end. He has an advisor, a woman named Siluca, she’s a mage. She’s the most brilliant mage ever, and she’s also a very talented tactician and diplomat, and at first, she’s helping the guy, teaching him everything he knows. But then, it’s just how every movie goes, where the guy then easily picks up the stuff that has taken Siluca her whole life to learn, sweeps her off her feet.
So, this woman who was known for her silver tongue no longer has anything she… she is rendered speechless a lot of the time. He no longer needs her. She is just his bride after that.
DEE: [crosstalk] Ugh. I’m glad I dropped it when I did.
LAUREN: Also, a character loses her virginity and has to wear black at her wedding. BS.
LAUREN: In the beginning, we see her wearing white at her wedding, which gets broken up by high fantasy. But at the end, [sarcastically] “You can’t wear white anymore! What are you trying to do?”
PETER: I’m so glad I dropped it.
DEE: I feel like I dropped it at the exact right moment, so, hooray. Not a recommendation, I take it, Lauren?
LAUREN: No. Not at all.
DEE: Okay, and then the last one we have here is Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line. Go!
LAUREN: Well, I mean, I loved Yowamushi Pedal at the beginning.
DEE: Me too, yeah.
LAUREN: And I just am going with it on momentum. I like it best when it’s about Onoda because he’s a very gripping, ray-of-sunshine character who I just care a lot about. So, what I was really excited about and the only thing I’m gonna say about this is that I was so excited for the trans-coded character, Shinkai Yuto.
DEE: Yeah, you were talking about that in the group chat.
LAUREN: Yeah, so their gender exploration has really only occurred in the after-credit scenes, and I feel like you really have to squint for it. They will say to other characters, “Oh, you like feminine stuff as well?” And get really excited. But it’s really them misunderstanding different things. Onoda really likes shoujo anime, and Yuto thinks that they’ve found a kindred spirit and they have really not.
And it’s just… The reason I was excited at all is that the creator of Yowamushi Pedal, Watanabe, has said that later we’ll find out in the anime if Yuto wants to be a girl. That was the question that was posed to the creator. And he said, “We’ll see.” So I’ve been waiting for that, and nothing happened, of course. The End.
DEE: Aw. That’s kind of a downer note to end on. Maybe we should’ve wrapped up on My Hero so we could have all…
PETER: [crosstalk] Well, there’s one more…
DEE: [crosstalk] Peter, you’ll just remix it, right? It’s fine. Wait. There’s one more sequel?
PETER: There’s one more I wanna bring up. To Be Heroine started in the middle of the season.
DEE: Oh, that’s right.
PETER: And I wanted to watch some of that just so I could plug it. So I’ve watched three episodes of the four or five that are out right now and it’s… [breathes in] very weird. It’s got this crazy… It’s originally all in Chinese, I think, but when they translate it to Japanese there’s a real world and fantasy world this girl’s living in. And they made the fantasy world in Japanese and the real world is still in Chinese.
I feel like it’s a good and a bad anime depending upon which world you’re in. The real world is really interesting. She’s got this group of friends, and one friend… She was always hanging out with these two boys when they were kids. They would play fantasy games together where she’s a wizard and the guy’s a knight and the last one has a gun.
But I think one of her friends, during some sort of riot—so I guess there’s a lot of social unrest they haven’t really explored yet—his dad was killed and his mom was hit in the head, and ever since she’s been kind of not present. She’s kind of lost her optimism and her hope that… She thinks as she gets older she’s gonna be less and less happy, and this is…
DEE: This seems too real.
PETER: Yeah, this is… In flashbacks, while she’s in a fantasy world with these weird babies who fight by turning clothes into historical characters that fight each other called SpiCloth.
DEE: [laughs] That’s an odd swerve.
PETER: Yeah. It’s got really good animation at points and it’s really funny at points. It’s also got some problematic stuff. But I think the real life stuff is pretty good.
DEE: Fanservice is probably an issue, given the clothing element?
PETER: Uh… Not so… In the first episode…You can tell a guy’s not a SpiCloth because they wear underwear, which is the thing that keeps you alive. If your underwear is taken off you die. So he checks to make sure she’s wearing underwear. But after that, she’s got her winter outfit, so she hasn’t dressed down yet. She’s used her boots or her sweater or backpack. So not yet at least.
They do this bad thing in real life. She gets bullied by some people and the two boys show up to save her and then they both get their asses kicked and then this one girl shows up and beats the shit out of literally everybody there and she becomes one of their friends, who knows kung fu or something.
And there’s a fantasy allegory for all of her real-life friends in the fantasy world. The allegory for that girl is a baby who’s wearing female underwear instead of boy underwear, but also has a 5 o’clock shadow. So I guess they’re saying since she’s good at martial arts, in the fantasy world, she’s kind of like an okama or something? I don’t know where they’re trying to go with that, but I’m very worried.
DEE: Yeah, I don’t love that.
PETER: Yeah. The real life version is really good. So I feel like if you watch the real life portion of the anime, it’s got a lot. But the fantasy world keeps dipping into “please don’t do that” territory. But it’s interesting.
DEE: Maybe I’ll check it out. I haven’t given it a try yet. There was a lot going on this season.
I guess that’s it. Anything else you wanna talk about, or should I do the wrapup?
PETER: We should probably stop.
DEE: Yeah. We’ve been talking a long time.
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And that is the end of our show. Thanks for listening, AniFam, and we will catch you next week.