Chatty AF 20: Summer 2017 anime mid-season check-in (WITH TRANSCRIPT)

By: Anime Feminist August 20, 20179 Comments

Dee, Vrai, and Peter check in with the summer season Listen to find out our biggest surprises, disappointments, and guilty pleasures of the season!

Episode Information

Date Recorded: Sunday 13th August 2017
Hosts: Peter, Vrai, Dee

Episode Breakdown

00:00 Intro
01:40 #17 Classroom of the Elite
06:16 #16 Welcome to the Ballroom
10:19 #15 Convenience Store Boys (but not really)
10:45 #14 Knight’s & Magic
15:02 #13 Altair: A Record of Battles (also not really)
15:27 #12 Vatican Miracle Examiners
19:03 #11 Gamers!
24:09 #10 Battle Girl High School (not really though)
24:31 #9 Dive! (apologies)
25:09 #8 Restaurant to Another World
26:39 #7 Elegant Yokai Apartment Life
28:59 #6 The Reflection
33:53 #5 18if
39:28 #4 Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun
43:58 #3 Action Heroine Cheer Fruits (so sorry)
45:24 #2 Made in Abyss
51:46 #1 Princess Principal
59:51 Outro

More On This Season

Summer 2017 Premiere Rankings

DEE: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. I’m Dee Hogan, a writer and editor for AniFem, as well as the honor of the friendly neighborhood anime blog, The Josei Next Door

VRAI: Hey. My name is Vrai Kaiser. I’m also a writer and editor for Anime Feminist, and if you put my name into Google, you can find me writing about cartoons and all sorts of things.

PETER: I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an Associates Features Editor at Crunchyroll, and a contributor and editor and Anime Feminist. @peterfobian on Twitter.

DEE: And today we’ll be doing our mid-season check-in for the Summer 2017 season, talking about the shows that are doing well, the ones that are maybe not living up to expectations, and the ones we’re only a little embarrassed to admit we love. Vatican Bros. I’m talking about Vatican Bros. We’re always talking about Vatican Bros. Seems like it.

Now, this podcast is a little different from our others, as all three of us are coming to you from a hotel room in Washington DC. It is the third day of OtaCon and everyone is very tired. So, hopefully this will translate into quality content you can all be proud of. Or, at the very least, enjoy.

PETER: Stream-of-consciousness podcast.

VRAI: The pain is real.

DEE: So, let’s start talking about series. Now, in the past, the way we’ve done this is taken the top ten from our premiere rankings and discussed them. But, this season’s a little odd, because a lot of the “Harmless Fun” shows were also not very interesting to us, so we’re not watching them. Meanwhile, the “Yellow Flags” category, despite some problems that we’ll talk about today, have proved to be entertaining and interesting and we’ve kept up with them. So, rather than just cover our top ten, we’re going to start with the bottom of the “Yellow Flags” category, with Classroom of the Elite. Peter, I think you’re caught up with that one.

PETER: Yeah. Am I the only one still watching it?

DEE: I’m waiting for it to do something sufficiently interesting for me to come back to it, is all.

PETER: Well, nobody’s dead yet, so…

DEE: Boo. I say, “Boo,” sir.

PETER: Yeah. I’m not quite sure what to say about the series yet, ’cause I don’t know where it’s going yet. I know I elaborated a bit in a piece that I wrote for Crunchyroll where I think it has some really interesting stuff that it’s setting up with the premise where they’re in this school where they have to earn these points to pull ahead of the other classes, which I guess means they’re all gonna become diplomats and high-powered lawyers and stuff like that. It’s 100% conversion rate to university or to a job.

So, those are the stakes, but nobody really knows the rules. You don’t know if cheating is permitted so long as you don’t get caught, ’cause there’s cameras everywhere. And they set it up where you’re not sure if you’re supposed to have an antagonistic relationship with the school or not. It’s just kind of like they’re spending a lot of time making you more uncertain rather than setting anything up. So, at this point, we almost don’t know where we are.

DEE: Does it still think it’s smarter than it actually is?

PETER: I mean, it’s hard to say, ’cause they haven’t really gotten into anything yet, so…Once there’s a plot twist, I could maybe kind of make an assessment about how clever the writing’s gonna be in the future. But they’re doing a lot of setup so far.

They did do a kind of unexpected thing with the really cutesy, I-want-to-be-friends-with-everyone character, which I liked. Although, they have…I think episode two was the pool episode.

DEE: That didn’t take very long. Which was also the episode where they went on to tie what’s-her-face up…The antisocial girl’s need to trust people more with implications that she should act more traditionally feminine, and I wasn’t there for that.

PETER: Well, I think people are pushing her in that direction. I can say that she has not yielded an inch on that front and has accomplished some of her goals.

DEE: She is definitely the best character.

PETER: Yeah, I’m probably the most curious about her. Although, actually, the nice girl is becoming a little more interesting now. I’m hoping she doesn’t just kind of end up in a different kind of stereotype, but, again, still impossible to say. I don’t know how the series is going to be 24 episodes instead of 12, because we’re halfway through the season…

DEE: And it hasn’t decided to do anything yet.

PETER: Yeah. Nothing’s really happened yet.

DEE: Yeah, hopefully. Well, keep us posted, ’cause it seemed like an interesting premise, at least. So, I’m very curious to see how they deal with those ideas of…I guess classism, almost. “Claw your way to the top no matter who you hurt to get there.”

It seemed like the sense of the first episode is that way. Is that we’re it’s going, or are they fighting the system together? I guess you don’t really know at this point though.

PETER: Yeah, I’m not sure. We still don’t know anything about the main character. I am glad they emphasized that social interaction is definitely his weakness. At numerous points, they give him tasks to do things, which he absolutely fails at, ’cause he speaks in a monotone and doesn’t know how to relate with other people. So, he actually is just watching the girls do most everything.

DEE: It’s good they called that out at least. I just thought it was bad characterization, but it’s part of how he interacts with people.

PETER: I don’t get the impression he’s a Gary Stu, but a lot of people have got that.

DEE: He is secretly good at kung-fu.

PETER: He is. You get the feeling he’s there with a purpose. I tweeted that, “I think the premise is very similar to Kakegurui except with very different executions.” I guess you get…I don’t know what the name of the main character in Kakegurui is.

DEE: [Unintelligible] protagonist. That guy.

PETER: No, it’s–Jabami.

DEE: Oh, Jabami, the actual protagonist. Okay.

PETER: You get the feeling that both of them were these assassins that were sent to destroy the schools that they’re supposed to go to. It’s just…One of them is a lot more flamboyant and the other one is…I’m not even sure what it is yet.

VRAI: I do kind of hope Classroom of the Elite deals with the fact that it’s a school system that works on dehumanizing its students who don’t perform, and Japan has very high suicide rates around high school acceptance et cetera.

DEE: Yeah, it feels like it could be making some social commentary, but we’re not sure what that commentary is at this point.

VRAI: Yeah. It’s all about how it sticks the landing at this point, basically.

PETER: It’s all a mystery, still.

DEE: Well, keep us posted for sure.  Next on our list is Welcome to the Ballroom. Possibly, for my money, maybe my…the most disappointing show of the season. I got three episodes in, and just…the kind of relentless sort of insistence that the female characters be sexualized and you focus on their boobs and they’re stuck in these situations where people are ripping off their clothes…for comedy, just sort of eroded all of the good work being put into the animation, and I just gave up on it three in. What about you two?

VRAI: I’m gonna be honest. I really enjoyed the premiere, and then I kind of fell behind a little bit, and hearing you both talk about the next two episodes…I didn’t want to break my heart after liking the premiere so much.

DEE: It was such a nice premiere, yeah.

PETER: Yeah, I feel like the show…I can’t remember the last time I saw a show that looked so good that was so hamstrung by its story, ’cause I get the feeling that the animators on the project are very passionate about it, ’cause it’s a chance for them to do something new and unique, and we do get really good moments like–I can’t remember what his rival’s name is–when he’s dancing alone in his room and they got some really…Actually, it’s mostly his rival that gets the good dance scenes.

DEE: Yeah.

PETER: ‘Cause later on, he gets pissed off and he turns into this firey demon while he’s dancing.

VRAI: Oh, that’s cool.

PETER: A lot of really imaginative stuff that they do. Although, even then, you can kind of see that they’re working with a bunch of constraints, ’cause they have a lot of really apparent 3D CG with dancers that are in the front of the screen, so there’s these explosive moments of animation, and then a lot of the other stuff is some very obvious corner cutting.

But, yeah, I think the story is also just really unimaginative, and I really don’t like how they treat any of the female characters. I’m not gonna remember a single name today.

VRAI: It’s okay.

DEE: I’ll try to pull up some lists as we go.

PETER: The main heroine, the love interest…They just sort of treat the female part of each dancing couple as a vehicle that is driven by the man, and the hope of the female characters–this includes the new one, they’re setting up this new rivalry–is just that they can be a good enough vehicle that they get a good driver, or something like that. So, all the girls wanna be sports cars so that they can get the best car drivers, or something.

And everything sort of rotates around that dynamic. There’s this one point where the main character gets the opportunity to dance in a competition because his rival–well, now he’s his rival–hurts his leg, so they try to sneak him in and see if they can get him to dance the routine without anybody noticing.

But…There’s no way it could have worked, and his teacher sort of threw him into that situation, and the girl is very upset about this entire situation, ’cause she wasn’t told about the guy’s injury, ’cause they threw this guy in to dance with her without telling her, and then everybody just sort of yelled at her afterward for being pissed off about it. So, she goes, “I’m not gonna dance with him anymore. I’m gonna dance with this new guy who’s interested in dancing with me.” And they say, “Oh, she’s throwing a fit.” It’s like, “No. Her trust was betrayed. She was criticized for being insulted by this and she decided to pick a new partner, and you just assume she’s throwing a hissy fit and eventually she’ll get back to normal.” I can’t think of a situation where I thought there was any good plot around the female characters.

DEE: That’s very…That’s too bad.

VRAI: Yeah, it makes me…It very much makes me not want to pick it up again.

PETER: Yeah. The whole series…It’s like a “get the girl” kind of thing. The whole reason he’s dancing is to dance with her.

DEE: I got that vibe early, and I was like, ‘Well, you know, depending on how they play it, as long as she also has her own goals and there’s some decent development there, it’s fine if it’s functionally kind of a romance at the center.” But then she never really…Her goals seemed to be about the male characters, like what you were saying. And that just wore me out very quickly. That is a shame.

Okay, the next show…I’m just kind of going up the list on our rankings. The next show on our list was Convenience Store Boys, which I tried to get put in the pit of shame because that’s how bored I was while watching it for the premiere review. But it really wasn’t that bad, so we put it in the “Yellow Flags.” I don’t think any of us are watching that–

VRAI: Oh, god no.

DEE: –and we can skip right over it. Good. Yeah, you couldn’t  pay me to watch more of that show. The next one on the list, though…Peter, I do believe you were keeping up with, which is Knight’s and Magic. And in the premiere reviews–Vrai, you wrote the one for that.

VRAI: Yeah, it was very much a show that struck me as: “This is a perfectly fine premiere for the most part but I see all of the light novel red flags.”

DEE: Yeah. So, how has that progressed? Has it been pretty solid, or…?

PETER: I’m a little bit behind now, but last I checked in with the series, it hadn’t done anything super bad. There’s this dynamic where all the female characters really wanna hug Ernie, ’cause he’s really cute. And I don’t even know. There was a duel between a man and a woman. They designed this new mech and she was gonna be the pilot of it. They were doing this test run and they do a skirmish. And I guess the guy was supposed to be the best knight. And he almost wins, so even though she’s–Literally, the advances already made revolutionize…I can’t think of a technological jump similar to what he did to the machines they had. And I sort of felt like it was a cop-out that she lost anyway. But, I mean, it’s kind of a small thing.

VRAI: It’s mild annoyances like you wish that they did more with those characters, but it’s not like they’re being actively awful to them.

PETER: Yeah. Besides that, it’s just kind of a…Yeah, they really haven’t done anything bad. The show’s kind of interesting if you’re invested in the premise. I think Lauren’s super into it because mecha.

DEE: Yeah. I think the way Lauren described it was: “It’s a giant robot show if you squint, so here I am!” I did get people…People did tell me later something apparently unclear in the novels that they skip right over in the tv show. He dies and is reborn, and apparently he doesn’t remember being an adult male who had this entire life before. He just has this innate sense of how to robot, which does away with a lot of the underlying sense of “creep” that I had in the premiere. Because I super wasn’t sure–

VRAI: If it was gonna be like…if he was actually a 30-year-old business man hanging out with teenage girls.

DEE: Teenage girls, yeah.

PETER: Well, they do…In the first episode, they cram a lot. Apparently the first episode is two volumes’ worth of content.

DEE: Yeah. I heard they rushed through a lot of stuff.

PETER: Yeah. So, I’m really not clear as to what awareness he has that he is the reincarnation of a 30-year-old software developer from Japan.

VRAI: That premise is so…It’s like a sad, wilting appendix to the rest of the story.

DEE: It’s…Yeah. It’s kind of hilarious that it was like, “Well, we just need a good reason for him to be really good with giant robots.”

PETER: I think the distinction with a lot of isekai, though, was the person that he was before was very successful and admired by the people around him.

DEE: That’s true. Yeah.

PETER: Very passionate about his…both his job and–yeah.

DEE: He loved his job and he loved his hobbies.

PETER: Yeah, and you don’t get the impression that he was dysfunctional, or had any social issues or anything like that, and it was portrayed as kind of a tragedy when he died. There were a lot of people at his funeral. So, it’s not like…It is escapist in that he gets to live out his dream of piloting a mech, but it’s not like this guy couldn’t work in the real world and now is in this other world.

DEE: So, it’s a little different from a lot of isekai light novels because of that, it sounds like.

VRAI: Well, and I’ve heard part of the…some of the articles and things I’ve read about the appeal of it is that he’s just so enthusiastic and the enthusiasm for the mechas is kind of contagious with everybody around him, and so that sense of a protagonist who really loves what they’re doing and then gets to do it. So, that’s nice to have.

PETER: Yeah.

DEE: Sure.

PETER: It’s like a portrayal of the positive effects that fandom can have in magical mecha isekai.

VRAI: And, you know, we definitely need more stories that are about nerd hobbies being productive and positive things rather than “this is why you’re an outcast,” which is how a lot of the light novels, I think, tend to frame it.

PETER: He invites people into his fandom as well, which I think is very important. He wants other people to share in his enjoyment, so I think that it’s kind of like a really feel-good show actually.

VRAI: That’s nice. That’s good to know.

DEE: Maybe I’ll come back to it at some point. I’m watching a lot of shows this season, so who knows. The next one–I don’t think any of us are watching this, but I don’t want to skip any titles if people are following along in the premiere review…Are any of us watching Altair?

VRAI: No, I dropped “Fantasy World War 1” straight off the bat.

DEE: Yeah, I…The first episode really did nothing for me, so I didn’t keep up with it. Same. Nothing? Okay. So, we can jump over that one. We have a premiere review if anybody wants to read some first impressions on it.

VRAI: Don’t.

DEE: [Laughter] Okay. The next show on our list is Vatican Miracle Examiner.

VRAI: The best show of the season!

DEE: What Vrai and I have affectionately been calling “Vatican Bros” to the point where we just made a hashtag for it, because I couldn’t find an official Twitter hashtag, and so…

VRAI: [Laughter] No, because this is such a good show!

DEE: I just started using “Vatican Bros.” I don’t know in terms of feminist relevant content, if there’s much we can say about it. It’s…It’s not good, folks. It is a trashy show about two Catholic priests solving “mysteries,” and I put quotation marks around that, even though you can’t see it from here.

VRAI: I think we all heard it.

DEE: It escalates in some truly imaginative and just…It’s one of those shows that has…It’s so just all-in on its own mild insanity, I guess, in terms of plot twists and development of its storyline, and I…It’s probably the show I’m most excited for each week, because it’s just so freaking goofy. But it’s not good. I would recommend you try it if you like trashy stuff with a nice homoerotic undertone, because the two priests are probably dating.

VRAI: If you were a fan…If you want something that’s a throwback to the era of Descendants of Darkness, like that early 2000s kind of Catholic-sploitation, vaguely homoerotic, [unintelligible] aesthetic, this is that. This is that reborn and carried forward in time almost 15 years and it’s beautiful. It just…I love it so much. It’s my exact kind of trash.

DEE: Yeah, so it’s…Again, I don’t…There’s really not any female characters.

VRAI: [Crosstalk] No, they’re mostly–

DEE: –so we can’t even talk about it from that angle.

VRAI: They wind up either dead or as props.

DEE: If it ends up doing something canonical with the fact that the priests do kind of seem to be priest-married, I guess…

VRAI: Well, there’s certainly a love triangle going on at the moment.

DEE: It does seem that way, yeah. So, if they do something more explicitly canonical with that, there could be a conversation there. Especially when you’re dealing with Catholicism and the priesthood, which is its own bag of–it’s own can of worms.

VRAI: [Crosstalk] Yeah, this show doesn’t know how that works.

DEE: Well…I will give them credit…They at least touch on some of the corruption and power imbalances and things like that within the Church, but it’s done at a very kind of high-level, hamfisted kind of way.

VRAI: And also weirdly tone-deaf in certain moments. Who would have thought that?

DEE: Yeah, it can be. It’s a show. It’s a show. Give it a try if you want to watch something just kind of ridiculous and have a fun time every week. Otherwise, I can’t recommend it from a feminist angle, but it’s kind of a guilty pleasure, so, that’s Vatican Bros for me. Anything else you want to add to that, Vrai?

VRAI: No. I just love it so much.

DEE: Yeah. We’re having a good time with this one. Peter, you’re not watching Vatican Bros, right?

PETER: No, but I saw a screenshot of somebody looking at…I think Santa Claus was looking in their window or something, which–

DEE: Mary killed us.

PETER: Now I’m very curious about the series.

VRAI: That sure was in episode two. It is…Again, it escalates in amazing…I don’t want to spoil the experience, so I won’t even talk about it.

DEE: It’s true. It’s a beautiful ride. But it’s ridiculous and great. I’m looking forward to watching the new one once the con’s over. Okay, next show on the list is–this is the top of the “Yellow Flags” category, and that is Gamers. Peter, are you mostly caught up in that?

PETER: Yeah.

DEE: Okay. I haven’t seen the one from this past week, ’cause con travel. But otherwise I’m caught up. I’m not sure if I’m gonna keep up with it or not. What are your thoughts on it?

PETER: The first episode I thought…It set up a lot of bad situations but it dodged all of them. And I just…I liked some things about the first episode. Then the second episode was really good.

DEE: Yeah, the second episode I really liked.

PETER: ‘Cause they really…You have this perception of Uehra that they really kind of immediately defy, and turn him into a really likable character. And the whole…His relationship with–I don’t remember her name–the pink haired girl…But, ever since then, it seems to be about how the girls…Basically all they are is interested in the guys, and that is their characters.

DEE: Yeah. Yeah, that’s…’Cause the first two episodes do a really nice job of giving you a little bit of a…I guess not a super deep dive into Keita, but the second one definitely gives you a deep dive into Uehara, and so you spend the first two episodes kind of getting to know these guys who are both gamer fans, but have very different approaches and the way they interact in school. And then they kind of bond over that, and so getting a feel for how those characters tick in the early chapters is really nice. And my thought was, “Okay, so every episode, we’re gonna get a zero-in on one of these characters.” And we kind of get that with the girls, but, like you said, there’s not a lot of angles and depth to it. It’s all pretty much how they relate to one of the two main guys.

PETER: Yeah. They did the episode that was focused on the main girl. What’s her name?

DEE: Tendou. Karen Tendou.

PETER: Tendou. That’s it. And the whole episode was just about how she’s obsessed with Amano. And how Amano’s basically ruined her life because she can’t get anything done because all she does is think about him. And I don’t…That was the whole episode. I don’t know. I was shocked they spent 24 minutes on that.

DEE: A part of me…A little part of me…I liked that to a point because I think that a lot of people in high school, when you do fall hard for your first big crush, it does get to a point where it’s distracting and it’s hard to really focus or think about much else. So, I…In a vacuum, that was fine. The problem for me was that the other girls have similar storylines. Chiaki, who I really liked when we first meet her…She’s the other hardcore gamer who–

PETER: “Seaweed?”

DEE: “Seaweed,” yeah. She…When she first gets introduced in the story, she and Amano kind of become friends because they bond over a lot of the games they both like. And then they end up getting into big fights because she is just so freaking sick of sexualized moe girls in games to the point where she prefers Western games because there’s less of that in there. And I really like that they included that perspective, ’cause I don’t think you see that a lot. But then, the second half of the episode is basically her developing a crush on the guy and changing her entire appearance to make him think she’s cute.

PETER: Oh, yeah. He makes an offhanded comment about how she’d look good with short hair, so she comes to school the next day, and her hair’s short.

DEE: Yeah, and she’s hiked up her skirt and has gone full “cute girl,” which…On the one hand, the guys are kind of doing similar things. Amano feels like he needs to have practice talking to girls, so he can be on Tendou’s level. He talks about how he doesn’t feel like he’s worthy of her, and then Uehara basically was kind of an awkward nerd kid in middle school and then decided to completely revamp his personality and appearance when he got to high school, which is kind of nice to see, because you don’t see that with guy characters nearly as much as you do with girls, so that gender swap there was kind of nice to see. Those things are still important to guys, you know? Those quote-unquote “shallow issues,” which they’re not necessarily shallow, but people tend to think of them that way.

So, on the one hand, the guys do have that element of a lot of things in their lives are driven by wanting to be popular with girls or wanting a particular girl to like them, but there’s other elements of them. And, with the girls, I don’t feel like we get anything else to their characters other than that, you know what I mean?

PETER: Yeah. I think I’m in about the same spot. If I start seeing interesting stuff coming out of the female characters, I think my opinion of the show would radically increase, ’cause everything else there is good. It’s just I don’t know whether I’m going to get anything interesting out of basically half the cast. So.

DEE: Yeah, and that’s my…They feel like the kind of characters who could be really interesting, and it’s just like the author doesn’t know how to write them in a way that doesn’t immediately relate them to the fact that they like some guy, basically.

So, I don’t know if I’m gonna keep up with it or not. But I might give it at least one more. Just to see.

PETER: Something’s got to break soon.

DEE: Yeah. So, we’ll see how that goes. Okay, the next on our list is our “Harmless Fun” category. We’re not watching the vast majority of these, but I’ll rattle off the titles real quick. Battle Girl High School was…I think Amelia actually did the premiere review for that. It was fine. It was magical girls. I’m not watching it. Either of you?

VRAI: I didn’t even watch the premiere.

DEE: I think it’s on HIDIVE, so it’s a tougher one for us to track down anyway. The next one was Dive, the new shounen boy show, which, again, it was fine.

VRAI: Eh. I was honestly kind of creeped out by the fact that…No, that’s unfair. One of the things you can see about Free! is that…You know, we talked about this before off-mic that the characters look older. They look like adults. The boys in Dive look like 14-year-old boys, and it’s creepy.

DEE: Yeah. That element of…That sense of fanservice in it when they’re young, too. Yeah. So, none of us are watching Dive. Restaurant to Another World–did you give that one a second try, Peter?

PETER: I dropped it, I think.

DEE: I know Vrai kind of wanted to claw their eyes out.

VRAI: Sorry, what were we talking about? [Laughter] With that one…I got a couple of episodes into it. It’s really okay. The second episode does…They bring in a lady adventurer character who I really liked. It’s just…It’s one of those shows where it’s very slow-paced and it doesn’t really have a central storyline. It’s kind of just these vignettes. I think if it was a ten-minute series I would enjoy it. ‘Cause I’d watch it once a week and be like, “Oh, that was a nice little restaurant thing” and that would be it, but twenty-five minutes was too much.

PETER: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just not for me.

DEE: Yeah. I’m the same way. I gave it a couple and I was like, “This is alright, but it’s just not necessarily something I want to come back to.”

PETER: There are a lot of Japanese shows like that. What’s the one about the female worker who goes to restaurants and…?

DEE: Oh, Wakakozake.

PETER: Yeah. I kind of get that feeling off of it, where it’s kind of about the food and the experience of the food. That just doesn’t connect with me, personally. So, I don’t…It doesn’t reflect badly on the show for me. It’s just not my area of interest.

DEE: Yeah, I’m the same way. So, give it a try, folks, if you want some shows. There’s nothing in it that I feel like I need to warn you away from necessarily. I mean, there is a lot of naked dragon lady in the first episode, so there’s that. It’s a little fanservice-y. But the second episode looks fine. Top of the “Harmless Fun” category is Elegant Yokai Apartment Life. I have kept up with that. Did either of you ever go back to it?

VRAI: No, it’s one of those where I enjoy the premiere and I’ll think, “I should watch more Yokai Apartment Life” and then I promptly forget about its existence again.

DEE: That’s fair. I like it. It’s proven to be better than I think I was expecting it to be. It’s a little more…There’s more meat to it than I thought there’d be in the first episode. The main character is kind of dealing with the suppressed grief of his parents’ deaths, and then kind of finding this new family and community in this apartment full of yokai and ghosts and exorcists and other people sort of connected to the supernatural world. And then kind of him being sort of angry that he had to grow up so quickly because of the loss of his parents.

So, there are elements within the story and it’s definitely willing to go to some dark places, because people don’t become ghosts because they had a happy, fulfilling life necessarily. It’s clumsily done, and the animation’s pretty middle-of-the-road. I’m enjoying it, though. And there’s not…There’s one character who’s your sort of typical adult lush woman who gets drunk all the time and wanders around in a tiny bikini or naked or whatever. But she’s hardly in the show. And other than her there’s really nothing about it that I would…I mean, content warning for child abuse depictions. But other than that, it’s harmless fun. So, I would keep it in that category for sure.

PETER: One question, ’cause I did drop the show.

DEE: Sure.

PETER: So, he said that ghosts are created by unfortunate happenstances.

DEE: Seems to be that way, yes.

PETER: So, the boy and the dog…

DEE: It’s…Oh, man. That’s episode three and that’s the one where I went, “What the hell, Yokai Apartment Life?”

PETER: It was alchemy, right?

DEE: It was alchemy? Yes. Spoiler alert, folks. It was alchemy. No, it wasn’t, but it was intense. They do kind of go into that in the third episode too. So, that’s the end of “Harmless Fun.”

Now, we’re getting into the shows that I think the three of us are all watching pretty regularly. So, this part of the conversation should be more of a chat. Bottom of the “Feminist Potential” list…”Feminist Potential” is the category where there’s not necessarily overt feminist themes, but there’s some possibility there that there could be. The bottom of that category was The Reflection, which came out a little later than everything else, so it doesn’t have as many episodes running. Vrai, you did the premiere review for that?

VRAI: I did, yeah.

DEE: It was…Is it fair for me to summarize it as: It was hard to get a grasp on exactly what it was doing, but it did seem willing to directly address issues of prejudice in an X-Men: Mutants-type way?

VRAI: Yeah. That’s about the shape of it.

DEE: Okay. Peter, do you…You’re keeping up with it?

PETER: Yeah. Although I don’t know if I have too much to say about it yet. It’s been a lot of…It’s very quiet, giving how much fighting there is in it. And just a lot of scenes…It’s weird, ’cause it’s by–oh god, what’s his name?–Nagahama. Same guy who did Flowers of Evil.

DEE: Yes! Nagahama.

PETER: And it’s like the same kind of rotoscope-y feel, but in Flowers of Evil, there’s kind of a lot going on in character dynamics, and facial expressions and stuff. But everyone’s wearing masks in this. So, I’m not…I don’t know what to make of it to be honest. I’m not quite sure what he’s trying to do yet. I have no idea.

DEE: Yeah. It feels…It’s kind of a slow burn and I’m curious to see how many episodes it ends up running, just kind of with the way…There’s a lot of threads. We’ve met a lot of different characters doing a lot of different things. But because we…It kind of feels like a Game of Thrones episode sometimes where you check in with so many different people that by the time the episode’s over, you don’t really feel like anyone’s story has advanced that far. Does that make sense?

That said, there are some things about it that I like. I’ve seen the first three episodes. I think we’re up to four at this point. The third episode features…Well, first of all, it does directly address there’s a lot of prejudice towards people who had the reflection happen to them. So, it is sort of addressing that idea of “everyone’s terrified of the things that’re different–or the people who are different.” And then the third episode features a disabled character in a wheelchair whose wheelchair turns into a giant robot and that was pretty great.

VRAI: That is amazing, is the thing.

DEE: I liked that a lot, and it’s got kind of a “very special episode” feel to it sometimes with the dialogue that is written. But I do appreciate that it is a series that kind of deals with the fact that she’s really cool and has a lot of things she wants to do with her life and her dad kind of tries to coddle and protect her because he thinks that she’s weak and needs to be handled with kid gloves all the time, basically.

So, I do agree…I do like that it deals with those things even if it’s a little clumsy in the execution.

PETER: Also, Stan Lee might be the villain.

DEE: The villain looks like Stan Lee, yes. Which is interesting. He also does the episode previews, which is…Every time his voice comes on, it sort of jars me a little bit.

PETER: Yeah. So that could mean that some of the narration is coming from the villain of the show, too, depending upon how they’re…There’s a lot of things they could be doing with that.

DEE: There are some…Yeah. There are some interesting…If they decide to go a “meta” route with Stan Lee being the head bad guy, that could be interesting. Though, I can’t…I’m not sure what the bad guy’s “bad guy” intentions are.

PETER: You don’t know what they’re trying to do.

DEE: No. They feel somewhat Magneto-esque, which would make them more sympathetic and kind of a grey area, I think. But I can’t…I don’t know yet. So…My biggest concern with it is…There was a line drop in the second episode where they said that people who have these powers were either hit with a light or a smoke–do you remember that happening?

PETER: Yeah.

DEE: They drop a lot of weird exposition just kind of randomly. And the way they framed it was if you got hit with the light, then you just got powers, but if you got hit with the smoke, you became evil.

PETER: Yeah. So there goes the discrimination.

DEE: Yeah, so if that is where they actually end up taking it, then the discrimination angle falls apart real fast. So, it’s not…It’s kind of hard to watch at times because the animation style is so just different. So, I don’t know how much more I will watch it. But I did get to three episodes just back-to-back, so there’s something there that’s interesting to me.

VRAI: Definitely the premiere had that element where it looked really good in single, very composed moments, and then the in-between stuff just looked kind of flat and painful and occasionally very hard to look at.

DEE: Yeah. I appreciate them trying to do something different, it’s just not succeeding all the time. So…But that’s The Reflection at this point. We’ll be able to check in a little bit better at the end of the season if we keep up with it.

The next show on this list is another one that’s frustrating me, and that is 18if. Peter, you’re keeping up with that one too, I believe? Or you caught a few episodes?

VRAI: I watched the first three and then I sort of…I don’t know that I’m down for “March of the Damsels,” even though there are so many good things in the lead-up to what will end up being a very frustrating conclusions every time.

DEE: Yeah. So, the thing with 18if, folks at home, is that every episode features a interesting, fleshed-out, fairly well-realized female character who then basically gets rescued by the main male protagonist.

So, on the one hand, you do have these well-written female characters, but on the other hand, the end of their stories tend to end up being, “Oh, I like this guy now, so everything’s better.”

VRAI: Yeah. “I’m going to get better so that I can meet this dude.”

DEE: Yeah.

PETER: Yeah. Not all the time, though. The second episode.

VRAI: Even her, she was like, “I want to leave this place so that I can meet you.”

PETER: Oh, did she say that?

VRAI: That’s her last line of the episode, yeah.

DEE: It’s super disappointing.

PETER: Nevermind. I thought it was kind of weird, ’cause I remember the last guy didn’t kill anybody. He watched. And, so, for the last person, he killed the guy while she watched, which I think is what they were going for. I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to say. It seems entirely dependent on who’s directing the next episode. ‘Cause we were all talking about how great episode three was…amazing.

DEE: Yeah, episode three was incredibly well-done.

PETER: Yeah. And in that one, the romance…It’s also kind of awkward, but it’s sort of contextualized around her not wanting to miss out on normal high school things, like dating a guy, before she dies. Yeah, it was really tragic. And then the next two episodes it went back to how the first two felt.

DEE: And they were much more clumsily handled, I thought. They tried to tackle eating disorders and did a very bad job of it.

VRAI: All it takes is for one dude to say he likes how you look, actually, and that will cure your eating disorder.

DEE: That’s kind of the direction it went, yeah. It just oversimplified itself. And I kept kind of hoping that there was gonna be some sort of reveal with the main guy, ’cause we’ve never seen him in the real world. Maybe he’s not real and maybe Lily is projecting this person to help people, or they’re projecting this person to help people. And that would put a very interesting spin on what is currently kind of a “March of the Damsels,” like you called it.

VRAI: I think I stole that from you.

PETER: Would that undermine the premise, though?

DEE: How do you mean?

PETER: It would be kind of subversive if he did, in fact, not exist. If they pulled a Final Fantasy X. But she’s still using him as a method of fixing these girls by making them randomly fall in love with this dude, right?

DEE: Yeah, I think…I don’t think it would get rid of the problems necessarily, but it would…I don’t think it would get rid of the problems necessarily, but it would put a much more interesting spin on it in terms of how people think narratives are supposed to go, I guess. Lily felt like she needed to create a male protagonist to help these girls. I think there’s, at least, a conversation I can have about that. Regardless of…I mean, again, it wouldn’t be like, “Perfect feminist representation!” but there would at least be some commentary there. And right now I’m worried that there’s not gonna be at all and it’s just gonna be, “Boy saves sad girls.”

PETER: I think they’re going somewhere interesting with him.

DEE: I really hope so. Yeah.

PETER: Yeah. It’s hard to tell what sort of quality you’re gonna get, ’cause the best part of the show is also kind of the worst part of the show, ’cause every episode has its own director, and they just kind of get free reign, it sounds like. So, episode three was amazing, but you just literally don’t know what you’re walking into every week, and that’s kind of cool, but it also…Episode three set a high bar for everything else in the series.

DEE: It really did. So then the fact that the next episode was such a disappointment was compounded by the fact that it had done such a good thing the week prior.

VRAI: Which might…That might end up shooting itself in the foot for kind of a grand overarching theme, too. If it’s just every…If it continues being almost an anthology all the way up to the end.

DEE: Yeah. So, my hope is they’ll develop some kind of central arc, which they kind of are with the professor and his daughter who is almost certainly Lily. So, we’ll keep an eye on it. I’ll probably stick with it for a little bit longer just to get a feel for it.

VRAI: I’d love to find out that it does something interesting and go back and finish it.

PETER: I want to look up more of the directors, ’cause I think for a lot of them they’re not…With Space Dandy, it’s kind of a hall of fame of directors.

VRAI: Yeah, it’s a lot of big names, and I don’t know if that’s the case with 18if.

PETER: Yeah, in 18if, with episode three, that was his directorial review. He’d done key animation for Naruto and some other series, but I don’t think he ever directed an episode before.

DEE: Oh, wow.

PETER: So that was his first chance. And he did everything. He wrote it, he did the animation, and he directed it. So, it could make some names. ‘Cause I’m definitely interested in that guy’s future work.

DEE: Yeah, no, me too.

PETER: Fujiwara, I think it was. I’m going to follow him now. So if it’s kind of like this opportunity for a lot of people to kind of try out directing, we might be able to get a lot of cool names we could be interested in in the future.

VRAI: That’s a good point, yeah. Hopefully we do.

DEE: Next one on the list is another personal favorite of mine, Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun.

VRAI: Oh god, I love Aoyama-kun so much.

DEE: It has consistently surprised me in how charming and nice and sympathetic it is to its cast of lovable weirdos. Peter, are you keeping up with this one as well?

PETER: I might be an episode or two behind. The last one I did was about glasses guy.

DEE: Okay. Yeah, that was five. So, pretty close.

VRAI: I think we’ve both seen five but not six.

DEE: That is one I have in fact caught up on ’cause it aired early enough in the week. So, Vrai, let’s start with you. What are your thoughts here?

VRAI: I…This is definitely a show I went into with a lot of trepidation because I’m used to “comedy germophobia, har-har,” and I don’t…I’m still kind of disappointed in the translation choice for the name, to use “Clean Freak” instead of “Cleanliness Boy,” because I think that’s going to turn a lot of people off as far as the tone. Because the actual handling within the show is very gentle, and, honestly, in some ways more nuanced than I’ve ever seen as far as characters under that OCD/germophobia umbrella, and it’s also just such a sweet character drama that has a lot of weird archetype characters but wants you to laugh with them rather than at them. I like it so much. I don’t know if the piece I wrote about this show will be out by the time this podcast goes up, but yeah. I’ve got a lot of feelings about Aoyama-kun, and it’s good.

DEE: Yeah. It seems like about every season I get a nice comedy that sort of comes out of nowhere and surprises me, and last season it was The Royal Tutor and this season it’s Aoyama-kun for the same reasons you mentioned.

Peter, how are you doing with this one?

PETER: I’m enjoying it. I don’t really know if I have much to say about it. It kind of just moves around to different characters. I definitely…What you two covered. I definitely think it’s being positive in that way. Yeah, all I can really think to say is it’s pretty good.

VRAI: Yeah. It’s a nice little episodic comedy that does that thing where you’re like, “Oh wait. That was actually insightful and well thought out. Good job, cute show that I just watched for a giggle.”

DEE: I was wondering: is this gonna be a long-runner or is it just…Do we know?

VRAI: It’s based on a manga. I don’t know how many episodes they got for it thus far.

DEE: ‘Cause it’s definitely a show that I could see doing the things shounen do, where it starts out very neat and then tournament arcs happen.

VRAI: Oh, yeah.

DEE: It’s really not a sports anime though.

VRAI: Yeah, that’s true. It is much more slice-of-life than sports.

DEE: Yeah, it’s much more kind of a school comedy than a sports show.

PETER: Yeah, although I do…I was actually really impressed, ’cause I got that feeling that it was an emphasis on comedy and slice-of-life more than sports, but then when they do sports stuff, they actually have some really…I would be very interested in seeing that kind of animation in a sports series. Some really good 3D integration, like that shot he does at the end of the first episode, where they zoom in on the front of his foot with a soccer ball in front of it and they sort of zoom back and around the character to bring the goal into perspective before he shoots. And the soundtrack’s really good, and very sporty too.

So, I feel like when they do go into sports mode, they know exactly what they’re doing. So, it’s interesting how…I wasn’t sure if it was going to be sports or SOL just based on the fact that both were executed in very different ways that felt very at home with what they were doing at the moment.

VRAI: I will say that it hasn’t disappointed me yet but I am still keeping my eye on the fact that there’s this continual plot crux that keeps coming up of: Aoyama-kun is put in a position where he has to overcome…he has to push past his germophobia to do something on the soccer field. And I feel like it’s handled it well thus far, genuinely. But I’m constantly watching for it to turn the corner into, “You just need to try harder to get over it!”

I don’t think it’s gonna do that. I’m always worried. I understand there are a lot of shows where that does end up being the case though.

DEE: Hopefully Aoyama-kun will continue to handle its characters and subject matter with the sympathy and nuance it’s had thus far. And I know I’ll be finishing this one. So I know I’ll be coming back to let folks know how it ended up wrapping up there.

Okay, so now we’re getting into the “feminist themes” shows. There were a trio of them this time around, and these are shows that–again, based on the premiere, which is a limited amount of information–but we did see elements within them that felt more directly feminist-related, so we gave them the top category here.

Unfortunately, the bottom show on this trio is Action Heroine Cheer Fruits, which is only on HIDIVE for subscribers, and we just…There’s too many streaming services, I think. And we just had to kind of pick one that none of us have, and that ended up being HIDIVE. So, I don’t think any of us are caught up with it. I know, Vrai, you really liked the premiere?

VRAI: The premiere was decidedly my jam. And it’s a show that I fully intend to go back to and check up on it and see if it’s keeping up with that, but I’m just kind of waiting for it all to be there so I can binge it on trial. Sorry, ya’ll.

PETER: Yeah. I hear it’s like Symphogear. I hear it’s very similar to Symphogear.

DEE: Oh, is it? Does it end up being a Symphogear-style show?

PETER: That’s the impression I got from how people are describing it.

DEE: The premiere had a very [unintelligible] feel and I was here for it. Yeah, so we might be able to give folks an update at the end of the season. If nothing else, maybe a quick subscription binge and then stop kind of thing.

VRAI: Yeah. Definitely my plan.

DEE: But at this point, none of us are able to keep up with that one. This gets us into our top two shows, the second of which is Made in Abyss. And I think all three of us are keeping up with that one. It was…I was over-the-moon in love with the premiere pretty much from the opening shot. So, I did the review for that one, and my biggest concern was that I had heard the manga had some unsavory elements, and with the characters being about 12, that becomes more of a concern than it would be if they were adults or even high school kids. So, how do we think it is handling itself going forward?

VRAI: I love it so much and also it makes me feel frustrated and uncomfortable a lot.

DEE: Yeah? Do you want to expand on that a little bit?

VRAI: Well, because…Well, in general, because I love those kinds of weird…This is the genre I like. It’s not even “weird fairytale dark stuff.” I’m super here for it. But also, the fact that the protagonists are 12 and the plot keeps coming up with reasons that they need to get undressed a lot. And it also continually has questions around the fact that the robot boy has human genitalia, and it’s the fact that it keeps coming up.

It’s one of those things where…There’s an episode where Rico passes out. She gets vomit on her clothes. So she has to take those off because they’re gross. And that in itself is a fine enough scene because it’s very unsexualized nudity and whatever. It’s fine. That scene, if it were by itself…But there’s just…It becomes this instance of…There’s this pattern, and this keeps coming up in only five episodes. And it’s A. why does the plot keep writing itself so that this has to keep happening? And it also casts scenes that would normally be “fine, whatever” in kind of a very uncomfortable light.

I keep watching it thinking, “Some asshole is jerking off to this.” It just makes me very uncomfortable in a show that I’m otherwise enjoying a lot.

DEE: These bursts of, I guess, “low-key creepiness” would be the way to describe it. Because, like you said, it’s not like it’s sexualizing the characters, but it’s just like, “Did you have to include that?”

VRAI: Yeah. It’s one of those things that would not be bothersome if it weren’t a persistent pattern.

DEE: Yeah. I see what you mean there. Yeah. I still like it. In some ways, it reminds me of Flip Flappers in that I feel like it’s really close to being perfect, and then those moments happen, and I’m like, “Mm, why? Why did you have to do that?”

VRAI: Right. The bar is otherwise so high that things that are not great but become that much worse.

DEE: Yeah, I think they become more concerning and more frustrating when the show is so close to being…I have no complaints about it, essentially. And I…Other than some of those elements you mentioned with them, I really don’t have any complaints about it.

VRAI: No. I’ve heard some people complain about the  monster design, but I think it works kind of with the uncanniness of the abyss. I actually think this is a case of CG simplicity animation doing quite well for itself.

DEE: And I love Rico as a main character.

VRAI: She’s so great.

DEE: I am a little worried the series is going to shift a little too much into being about Reg, and I think right now they’re balancing the two characters’ storylines very well. And Rico is adventurous, but not like “Strong Female Lead Trademark,” you know what I mean? In the sense that she still gets scared and cries easily, but then she goes out and she continues on with her adventure. So, yeah. There’s so much I like about it, but there are those elements where it’s like, “Well, I do have to mention to people that it’s got, every once in a while, this little layer of ugh to it.”

I don’t know. What do you think, Peter?

PETER: From what I’ve heard, they’ve already skipped several scenes that were very creepy in the manga–that creepy.

DEE: So, the anime is making a concentrated effort to improve upon the source material?

PETER: Yeah, it looks like they’re making a decision to not include certain parts of the manga, which would be somewhat problematic.

VRAI: Yeah. I have heard, allegedly, that the author has got quite a lolicon streak, which I am not here for in the most way.

DEE: Yeah. I don’t know…I haven’t been able to find any evidence to that.

VRAI: Hence “allegedly.” Strongly “allegedly.”

PETER: Well, even small things. They find those soft rocks or whatever, and in the manga, they’re called “boob stones.” But in the anime, they just don’t name them. They don’t bother. It’s easier just to not go through it.

I also like one thing in particular. The dynamic with Rico’s mother is very common among male characters but you never see that in females. Both for the person–

DEE: It’s very rare,  yeah.

PETER: Yeah. It’s the “my dad went away on a quest and now I’ve got to find him.” Hunter x Hunter, that kind of thing. And in this case, instead of a father it’s a mother, and it’s the daughter pursuing, and it’s a very action-oriented dangerous role, which I appreciate being afforded to a female protagonist. Which…That’s so uncommon.

DEE: Yeah. I love that. We talked about that a little bit in the premiere review comments, in fact. Some folks were talking about how rare it is to see that. They were trying to come up with other examples, and…

PETER: Not much.

DEE: There’s really not much. We were able to come up with female characters who wanted to follow in their mothers’ footsteps and it was more of an action-oriented role, like Soul Eater or Ouran High, but there wasn’t that element of that sort of, “Where are you, Dad?” kind of quest that comes up in shounen, like Hunter x Hunter, you mentioned.

And so I think…Yeah, having that quest put on a female character and her female mentor is really cool, and I like that a lot about it too.

Any other comments about Made in Abyss? I feel like that’s one we could go into a lot of detail about, but I don’t want to spoil things for people.

VRAI:  Yeah. I think there’s going to be a lot for us to talk about at the season end. But for now it’s just: I like it. There are some things that concern me a lot, but, god, I really, really like it.

DEE: Yeah, I’m the same way. Okay, and that brings us to number one.

VRAI: Did you mean “Best Show?”

DEE: [Laughter]

PETER: Speaking of Flip Flappers

DEE: Yeah, that actually is a good point. Speaking of Flip Flappers, from Studio 3Hz, the folks who brought us that, Princess Principal, which, I would say, was much like Aoyama-kun, one of the bigger surprises of the season, I think.

VRAI: Definitely.

DEE: We’re all keeping up with that one as well.

PETER: Yeah.

DEE: Your thoughts?

VRAI: I love it so much. It was made for me.

DEE: The sort of spy action?

VRAI: Yeah. It’s a spy action thriller about courtly politics–’cause I love stories that are about restrictive roles, especially for women, and how they function within that with a lot of agency. But then, also, it is basically Lupin and Baccano in a lot of ways. And then there is a cool, jazzy soundtrack. And also it is yuri, probably. It was made for me.

DEE: It’s definitely…Yeah, it’s definitely got some yuri overtones there that I hope they do something with.

VRAI: Yeah, I really don’t…That’s about the only thing that could turn me on the show at this point is if they dropped that and didn’t see it through. And I don’t think every show needs to end in a DaiDai Daisuke-like Flip Flappers declaration of love, but…

DEE: Yeah, if they were to drop it completely, it would be frustrating.

VRAI: Well, it’s one of those things where it’s set up as a major character motivation for at least two members of the cast, so it would feel really not good if they…

DEE: If they just gave up on it entirely. Yeah. I do agree with that. Yeah, I…I feel like I don’t have a lot to say about it. It’s just a really good spy show with a lot of fun female characters. Peter, do you have anything you want to add to the conversation here?

PETER: Well, I was really surprised. I mean, when I first saw the world and the moe character design…

VRAI: Moe sameface. It’s death.

PETER: My eyes almost burst rolling into my head, but…It wasn’t until afterward that I found out it was written by 3Hz, and actually a lot of people on the crew of Flip Flappers. So, I don’t know if this is just their thing now: do series about moe girls that are actually really good and have very definitive yuri relationships. If they did that, I think they would be a pretty good studio.

VRAI: If they wanna make that their brand, I’m here for it.

PETER: And excellent backgrounds, as well. So, I’m pretty down for that. I also discovered the author, Ichiro Okouchi…He has written a lot. He’s doing DEVILMAN crybaby. He wrote both the Revolutionary Girl Utena novels. So, this kind of speaks well to me for the future. I hear the Utena novels were good.

VRAI: Well, they’re…They’re weird. They certainly do include a weird scene where Touga hooks up with Miki. That was a thing that happened that I can never forget. But, no, yeah. On the whole, yeah. They’re quality.

PETER: Yeah, and the Berserk movies, Eureka 7, so…[unintelligible] as well, He’s worked with Kyoto, a lot.

DEE: A pretty solid background, there, which hopefully means they’ll be able to bring it all together. I think if I had one thing that maybe I guess we could have a conversation about for sure is one of the characters kind of main things is she seduces/flirts her way into situations, and that’s Dorothy, and that’s kind of her main…not purpose, but one of her main strengths. She’s also a good shot. She’s their team driver. And she’s very good at driving. So it’s not like she’s a one-dimensional character, but that does come up pretty regularly.

VRAI: It’s…I’m actually kind of okay with it. First of all because of the whole “representation means variety.” You can have the femme fatale if you have other female characters who are doing other things. But also I think it’s very interesting and thoughtful of them that the femme fatale character is actually a 20-year-old pretending to be a high school student.

DEE: Yeah. Someone made a concentrated effort to go, “No, the character who’s using her feminine wiles is in fact an adult.”

VRAI: Yeah, so…I would definitely like to see her character expanded on, and if they don’t, I would be disappointed. But I’m not upset about her role in the team and how she’s been handled.

PETER: There’s some weird commentary. I feel like they’re being very playful with the fact that they’re using moe character designs in that way, ’cause she looks very…If you swap the hair, it’s the same character. I mean, there’s some chest stuff going on with her, but she looks almost like the rest of them. But she’s a 20 year old. “Oh, but I pretend to be in high school.” And you’re just like, “Oh, well you look the same.”

And then they make…I can’t think of anything but them pointing out the fact that the character designs all look the same in episode two, where–god, I can’t remember their names.

DEE: Ange and Princess, probably?

PETER: Yeah. She disguises herself, basically, just by putting on a wig that looks like the princess’ hair, and everyone is fooled. And I just…I can’t…I don’t know how to interpret that. But, yeah. Moe sameface is a thing.

DEE: [Crosstalk] There’s a little bit of a wink there.

PETER: So, it seems like they’re poking fun at their own character designs, which I appreciate, because that was my main problem with the show going into it. Because the moe didn’t…It seemed…I’m kind of used to it now, but in the beginning, it really did not jive with the punk background.

VRAI: It’s so jarring.

DEE: Well, it’s one of those things where if that’s just your art style, then okay, I can roll with that even if it feels out of place with the setting or the themes. But the other characters in the show don’t…It’s not like they all have that kind of chipmunk design. The older guys and the older women, too, to a somewhat lesser extent, have more detailed faces and stronger noses and features like that.

PETER: Realistic anatomy.

DEE: Yeah. So, the fact that the main girls are draw in this very…”calculated” is not the right word–at least, I think that’s being a little too harsh to PrinPal.

VRAI: “Marketable?”

DEE: Marketable. More traditional. More very well-known, what we think of when we think of a cute girl show or a moe show design, stands out all the more because of that. But the characters are so well written and the stories are so fun and well-animated, and well-paced, and it’s just kind of like, “Oh, it doesn’t even bother me anymore.”

VRAI: Yeah. The same with the goth loli fashion, which, at this point, it’s still dumb but I’ve just kind of rolled my eyes and accepted it ’cause they’re the only ones who have the short ruffle skirts while everyone else is in kind of period-appropriate clothing.

DEE: Oh, their school uniforms are sort of odd.

PETER: They’re steampunk outfits.

DEE: And it is. It’s steampunk London, so it gives them a little bit of leeway with how they want to design them.

PETER: I haven’t seen them in anything that I have not seen a steampunk cosplayer wear, so…

VRAI: Yeah. It’s just another one of those things where it’s like, “Okay. Y’all are on point, but everybody else is wearing long, Victorian dresses with the puffed sleeves.”

DEE: Like, “Oh okay.” So, there is definitely that element of making the main characters appealing to an audience that would want to watch moe/cute girl type shows.

VRAI: Suckering them in with really good writing.

DEE: Yeah! They got ya! [Laughter] But, yeah, overall, I really…It’s good. It’s a good, fun show and I would happily recommend it to people, I think. I think it’s doing a really nice job with its female characters and their relationships with each other.

PETER: It might be the biggest surprise of the season, honestly.

VRAI: Definitely.

DEE: It’s definitely up there for sure. So, hopefully we’ll be able to come back at the end of the season and talk about how it continued to be really good and fun and we had a nice time.

VRAI: Yeah, I think I’ve heard that it’s only going to be twelve episodes, actually.

DEE: I kind of had a feeling it was just gonna be a single cour, so hopefully they stick the ending and it ends up being lots of fun.

Okay, folks. Sometimes for these, we do talk about sequels. This time around, I think we’re gonna go ahead and pass ’cause we are at the hour mark. And some of us have to check out of our hotel rooms.

VRAI: The real-life con experience.

DEE: It is. It’s the…It is. You guys are experiencing the con with us right now.

So, we’ll check in with sequels and carry-overs at the end of the season, and we’ll let you know how those turned out. But that’s gonna do it for us today. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Chatty AF. If you like what you heard, tell your friends, and if you really like what you heard, consider tossing a dollar or more to our Patreon each month. Your support really does go a long way towards making Anime Feminist happen, both in print and in your earbuds. If you’re interested in more from the team and our contributors, please check us out at, on Facebook, @AnimeFem, on Tumblr, @animefeminist, and on Twitter, @animefeminist.

And that is the show. Thanks for listening, AniFam, and we will catch you next week.

VRAI: See you!

PETER: Bye-bye.

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