Dee, Caitlin, and Peter share their thoughts on how the Fall 2018 anime season is shaping up. Detectives stumble, zombies take center stage, and a few otherwise excellent shows could really stand to cool it with the distracting T&A.
Recorded: Saturday 10th November 2018
Hosts: Dee, Caitlin, Peter
0:02:58 Goblin Slayer
0:03:15 As Ms. Beelzebub likes it
0:04:15 That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
0:05:14 ZOMBIE LAND SAGA
0:19:11 Run with the Wind
0:34:27 Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood
0:35:11 Hinomaru Sumo
0:36:57 Anima Yell!
0:39:38 Release the Spyce
0:40:20 The Girl in Twilight
0:43:55 Boarding School Juliet
0:49:00 DOUBLE DECKER
0:56:35 Bloom into You
0:59:52 Sequel shout-out
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. And I am joined today by fellow AniFem staffers, Peter and Caitlin.
CAITLIN: Hi, I’m Caitlin. I’m a writer and editor for AniFem as well as a writer for various corners of the internet.
DEE: Is that it? ‘Cause that was—
CAITLIN: That’s it.
DEE: It was so anticlimactic!
CAITLIN: I really don’t feel like doing the whole thing today. I dunno why.
PETER: [laughs] An abbreviated version. Okay.
PETER: And I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an Associates Features Editor at Crunchyroll, and a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist.
DEE: And this is our mid-season fall check-in, where we take a look at the currently airing shows and talk about how they are shaping up. Folks at home, if you’re familiar with these podcasts—we’ve been doing them every season for a while now—we are gonna do things a little differently today.
Normally, we start at the very bottom of our premiere digest and we just work our way through basically every show that anyone on the recording has been watching. However, the podcasts tend to run really long because of this, and Peter is watching everything. So, to kind of cut down on the run time and avoid forcing Peter to monologue at us for like 30 minutes, we’re gonna do something a little different this time.
Peter, anything below the Harmless Fun category—so, for folks at home who are looking at our digest list, that is anything below ZOMBIE LAND SAGA—is there anything there that you are particularly excited about; that you think we should be watching and we aren’t? Or have any of those shows done anything surprising since the first episode that’s worth letting listeners know about? If the answer is “no,” you can just skip ’em. No need to talk about ’em.
PETER: Uh… I wouldn’t say any of them are doing anything where I’d say you absolutely have to watch them. I’d say maybe a couple are better or worse than you might have been led to believe based on the first episode preview that we did. That being Ulysses, because Ulysses had a pretty tame first episode, I think.
DEE: Yeah, and Caitlin came back from the three-episode check-in and was like, “Oh, God, no. No, no, no, no, no.”
CAITLIN: Basically, I was like, “I have to see this thing through so that I can honestly say ‘This anime is awful. Don’t watch it. Never watch it.'” And I did. And I was correct. And I hated every second of those other two episodes.
PETER: Yeah. It went down a dark hole there.
PETER: The first one was just a bunch of kids making a promise to each other and then… [laughs] Yeah, that was probably the high point.
CAITLIN: If you’re curious, you can read my three-episode preview.
DEE: Yeah, it’s in our check-in post.
PETER: Goblin Slayer, I’d say if you made it past the first episode, there really hasn’t been any of that sexual violence since, but based on what I know of the series, that might not last. So, at least to the halfway point of the series, it’s been pretty good since the first episode.
DEE: Everything else has pretty much held steady?
PETER: Beelzebub‘s been a mixed bag, I feel like I should mention. There was some… I think we said it cut some fanservice in the first episode, but it was kind of a fluffy show.
DEE: It was pretty tame. It was just like “somebody was naked,” yeah.
PETER: Yeah. I guess it sort of continues on the theme. It introduced a character who’s this big guy who’s kind of intimidating that doesn’t talk. He communicates with cards that he writes, and he’s really into cute stuff, and they have kind of a little Sanrio Boys subplot going on there.
But then they also introduce a demon who… She’s so nervous to run into other people that she constantly has to go to the bathroom, which is literally—
DEE: [wearily] Oh, God.
PETER: Yeah. I’d say it got more extreme on both ends by having good and bad material in it.
DEE: Okay. Yeah, I had a friend who thought I might… who got to the demon guy who likes cute things and was like, “You might like this show. It’s kinda got some elements that you enjoy.” And I just haven’t had the chance to check it out.
DEE: So. Bit of a mixed bag. That’s good to know.
DEE: Is that kind of the high points? Everything else pretty much has been doing its thing?
PETER: Yeah, pretty much everything else is… Oh, I should probably mention Slime has had some fanservice since… I know the first episode, it was pretty—past a single sentence, it was pretty tame, right? Since then, he’s met some elves who are all very bodacious, so there’s been a lot of girls holding the slime and resting certain things on top of the slime while holding him. Uh, so…
DEE: [amused] Peter, just say “boobs.”
PETER: Yeah, yeah.
DEE: I wanna hear you use the word “boobs.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that.
PETER: Yeah. There’s a lot of boobs.
PETER: I think there’s a scene where literally it’s just him surrounded by elf boobs. It’s the slime and then the rest of the screen is cleavage.
PETER: Yeah. I mean, that’s the extent of it, but at the same time, it’s like, “Yeah, we’re going in that direction, too.” So, I feel like the unaware should be forewarned: there are lots of boobs.
DEE: That’s fair to know.
CAITLIN: Alright. Good point.
DEE: Okay! Let’s get into the Harmless Fun and up categories, where more of us are watching the shows there. Starting from the bottom, just because alphabetical order works that way, ZOMBIE LAND SAGA. We are all watching this one, yes?
PETER: Absolutely. Anime of the season.
DEE: [crosstalk] I am having— You think it’s the anime of the season?
PETER: Definitely, if I were to joke about that, I would say yes.
DEE: It’s been consistently really fun, and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s one that I haven’t really had to worry about. I’ve just been able to just sit down and giggle at it every week. I don’t think… They even had a Hot Springs Episode, and I don’t really remember there being anything particularly fanservice-y. There’s some nudity but it’s not really sexualized, you know?
DEE: They’re just naked in a bath. And then it turns into a whole wacky comedy zombie routine, which is delightful. So, I’ve been pretty pleased with it overall.
PETER: Yeah. I think the third and fourth episodes were kind of a little boring.
DEE: Well, especially compared to one and two, which were just so, so good.
PETER: Yeah. But then five was right back to the high points that [it] wanted to hit, and six wasn’t so much funny, but it was a heavy exposition episode, which is… I don’t know, it still had some good jokes and maybe some stuff to think about, actually? I don’t know if you watched the latest episode.
DEE: I have. I think Caitlin’s one behind, so we won’t get too deep into it.
CAITLIN: I haven’t watched episode six yet.
DEE: And we try not to spoil things for our listeners, anyways, so we won’t dig too deep into it. But, yeah, no, I agree with you. I think they’re starting to do some legwork in terms of developing the cast, and the whole idea of what an idol group is. I’m curious to see where it goes. And, again, it’s also consistently very fun.
Miyano is Miyano-ing as hard as he possibly can.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh my God.
DEE: As their dirtbag manager.
CAITLIN: They just shove him in a booth and watch him go. Have you seen the picture of him cosplaying the manager?
DEE: No, but I am unsurprised that he did.
CAITLIN: It’s just him. It’s just him.
PETER: Oh, those were two promotional videos, where he, in character, while cosplaying as Tatsumi, went on a long, three-minute rant. There’s two in the series. You can find them on YouTube.
DEE: Oh my God. I should watch those. I’ve seen a lot of stuff with him behind the scenes where he just seems to be having a really good time. There was some cute stuff that came out of Yuri on Ice with him cracking up about JJ—’cause he was playing JJ at the time—and… Yeah, he just seems to always be having fun. And I love that. And I love his performances, so…
CAITLIN: Yeah, no, he’s great. There’s a reason he’s one of the tops in the industry.
DEE: Yeah, and I think he’s made a character who would have been completely insufferable otherwise as sort of an enjoyable asshole. I still want him to get some comeuppance, but he has been much more fun than I expected him to be early on. ‘Cause he is kind of a jerk to the girls.
CAITLIN: Oh, he’s awful.
PETER: Both he and the series have been very good about that, I think, though. The way he vocalizes the character, you’re just like, “Oh, this guy’s being a jerk right now.” And then he’s been getting his ass kicked a lot more, which I really appreciate. When Saki threw the pitch, [laughs] and I guess shattered his bone? I don’t know.
DEE: [through laughter] Yeah!
PETER: The baseball went almost all the way into his flesh, so…
DEE: It was amazing. And then he just gets whacked with a baguette. No, they’ve been…
PETER: Kicking his ass?
DEE: Yeah, there’s been more of a back-and-forth between him being kind of awful and then them not really letting him get away with anything either, so… And also, sometimes ruining his plans. So, I think the balance in the past few episodes has made it a lot more fun, too.
CAITLIN: Saki has been incredible the whole time.
DEE: She’s so good. Yes.
PETER: Best girl.
CAITLIN: How she managed to turn whiteboard marker into spray paint…
DEE: [laughter] Saki’s wonderful.
CAITLIN: This show has a really, really sharp sense of humor. It’s not my favorite anime of the season because I do think after the first couple episodes it started going into the idol stuff and that’s not really what works for me, but when it is just going wild, it has just so many sharp gags, and it doesn’t always go where you expect it. Like in the hot springs episode, when Sakura’s head just sort of [popping noise] popped off. [laughs] You’re like, “Oh!”
CAITLIN: “That’s not what I thought was gonna happen at all!”
DEE: That was so good. Anytime they really play into the fact that, “Oh yeah, we’re zombies and we’re sort of just awkwardly-stitched-together Frankenstein monsters.” It mines it for really good humor and low-key funny horror, I guess you’d describe it. And I appreciate that about it.
DEE: I think we’re all just enjoying this one.
CAITLIN: The reason I’m behind is because I had a couple of weeks where I was like, “Do I really wanna go down this road?” ‘Cause life is short and I drop shows like hot potatoes the moment that I am not sure if it’s gonna be worth my time. But I’m glad I decided to… And until that moment in the hot springs episode, I was like, “Uh, I don’t know,” but then I’m so glad I didn’t get spoiled on that gag. Sorry to people who are listening who I did spoil that for.
DEE: You definitely did, yeah. [laughs]
PETER: It’ll still be funny when they watch it.
DEE: It’ll still be funny. There’s more after it that we didn’t talk about that will keep it going.
CAITLIN: It was just unexpected and wonderful and was like, “Okay, we can keep going here.”
PETER: Yeah. I do have to say: episodes three and four, I was kind of thinking I might drop the series if it continued on this course; which is why five was so good. And I felt like I was holding my breath before the episode started because I was really worried it was gonna become kind of mediocre.
DEE: Yeah. I think they’re hitting a balance between the zany comedy aspect and the more traditional “group of people learn to work together to put on a good show” sort of idol genre as well, and it’s a good blend. I’m not usually into idol shows—and, again, there’s nothing wrong with them; it’s just typically not my thing—but this one has caught me.
I also feel… I don’t know if you guys knew this, and I just wanted to mention it real quick: they revealed the voice actress—’cause at first they didn’t; they kept it a secret for the first couple of episodes—of The Legendary Tae. It’s Kotono Mitsuishi. So, it’s The Legendary Sailor Moon, basically.
PETER: That’s why she’s legendary.
DEE: Just. Just making groaning noises and rooster calls, and every time she does everything, knowing that it’s Kotono Mitsuishi just makes it that much better. It’s a very good meta-gag, and I appreciate that.
PETER: Yeah. The same reason Tatsumi’s so much better ’cause it’s Mamoru Miyano. Just knowing this legendary voice actor’s making burping noises… [laughs]
DEE: It’s so good. Yeah, it’s a silly show that I think is having a good time. And, like you said, I think it is trying to actually develop the characters and tell a story on top of being silly. So, I’m kinda curious to see where it goes with that. Yeah, so that’s ZOMBIE LAND SAGA.
Next one up, we’re also all watching: SSSS–I did say four? Yes–GRIDMAN. So, what are our thoughts on GRIDMAN?
PETER: I really like it. It might actually be my favorite anime of the season.
CAITLIN: It’s really excellent. I watched it just before sitting down… I can’t… For whatever else is going on, there’s so much stuff that the show is doing right, but the last couple of episodes… The one that came out today, I haven’t watched, and I’ve only seen the first six minutes of episode five, but starting with episode four, the fanservice just really ramps up real fast.
PETER: I feel like that was the episode, though. I watched today’s episode, and it didn’t have any. So, I think that—
CAITLIN: That’s good. [pauses] Well, did it have feet?
PETER: Not to my recollection.
DEE: Caitlin’s pretty sure someone on staff has a foot fetish.
CAITLIN: Yeah, no. Episode four was specifically foot fetish fanservice.
PETER: I mean, you get all types at Trigger. I’m pretty sure that’s how they arrange their cubicles.
DEE: By fetish? I buy that.
Yeah, I’m enjoying it too. The most recent episode… Well, I shouldn’t say “most recent,” because this will go—we’re recording this on a Saturday. There’s a new episode that dropped a couple hours ago, so I haven’t seen that one yet, but the Obligatory Swimsuit Episode was…
DEE: That camera is so skeevy.
CAITLIN: It was so skeevy! Oh my God.
DEE: Like really skeevy. Very voyeuristic in a way that was extremely off-putting for the rest of the show. It didn’t even really fit in with what was… There were a few times where it was more specifically from the perspective of “one of the guys was turned on because the girl he had a crush on was in a swimsuit” or something like that. But half the time, there was nobody else around. It was just the camera just leering at these teenage girls.
And, again, this is not a show that… It wasn’t like this is a show that we started from episode one that was like, “Yeah, this is gonna be a show with fanservice you roll your eyes at,” so you go, “Well, that’s not great, but it’s there, so if I’m here, I’m here for it.” It just came in kind of out of left field and was very off-putting.
CAITLIN: It just smacked you in the face with Akane’s tits. It just took you by the head and just shoved your face right into her cleavage.
DEE: Whether you wanted to be there or not.
DEE: So, there was that. There was also some kind of icky stuff in that episode about one of the guys being a little bit flabby, and everybody giving him crap for it. And it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it was a little discomforting.
PETER: Poor Utsumi. Especially ’cause he’s got a crush on Akane and I think she was one of the girls pinching him.
DEE: Yeah, but he liked it when she did it, so… [laughs]
PETER: Oh, okay.
DEE: She was touching him. Of course he liked it.
CAITLIN: ‘Cause a girl was touching him.
DEE: And there’s always that space for… I thought the early episodes did a pretty good job of low-key being like, “Oh, these are teenagers who are attracted to each other,” and so there’d be the occasional camera angle that was more specifically from one of the characters’ perspectives, noticing the other character as they adjusted their seating position or something like that.
But this episode took it into the realm of… I can’t even say that you’re doing this for a thematic purpose about exploring teenage hormones or something. It was just fanservice, and it was unpleasant.
Otherwise, though, I do enjoy it. I think it’s got really good atmosphere and cinematography. It’s much more restrained than your typical Trigger show. I was looking forward to coming on here and going, “It’s Trigger without the bullshit!” And then that episode dropped, and I was like, “Well, just kidding. It’s still some bullshit.”
PETER: But less bullshit.
CAITLIN: I think the first episode was probably the most interesting episode just from a cinematography and atmospheric perspective. It’s one of those series where the first episode does something really unusual and attention-grabbing and then the rest of the series is less unusual, but, you know… You’re still there for it. It’s not bad. It’s just a little bit less innovative.
But it’s really… Yeah. I really enjoy it. I really like Rikka. I really like the [cracking up] Neon Genesis Junior High School students.
PETER: Yes. They’re great.
CAITLIN: Borr, in particular, voiced by the amazing Aoi Yuki, is awesome.
DEE: Very fun character.
CAITLIN: Yeah. Just sitting there calling everyone out for their stupid high school bullshit.
PETER: I really like the villains, too, to be honest. I really like Akane, and I don’t know… You figure maybe Alexis is manipulating her, but at the same time, it seems… I don’t know. Their back-and-forth is really fun and cute.
DEE: Mm-hm. Yeah, yeah.
PETER: You’re wondering, “Are they real friends?” ‘Cause in the latest episode, she’s out for a while and you get the scene of Alexis just sitting home in the room, wondering if she’s okay. [laughs] I don’t… It seems like they’re just best friends and it’s kind of ridiculous how easy it is to root for them, too, even though they’re killing people.
DEE: Yeah, it’s the kind of dynamic where the villains are as interesting and fun as the protagonist, if not more so. And I feel like we used to see that in anime a lot and we don’t see it as much anymore. So it’s a really enjoyable breath of fresh air. ‘Cause we’ve been—Caitlin and I—have been watching Escaflowne together—rewatching it—and it’s the same thing there. The antagonists are really fun, so this has that same feel to it. It just makes the whole show more energetic and exciting, I think.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I like to joke that Alexis is an occasional Chatty AF guest. Alexis, my friend. Just, you know, “Your friend and mine, Alexis.”
CAITLIN: She’s actually surprised. She’s actually, you know, an evil robot. Bet you didn’t know that, Dee, when you were talking to her about Ouran.
DEE: I did not. I am shocked. Shocked and appalled.
DEE: Do we have any other great reveals about Gridman to bring up, or should we jump to the next show? Which we are also all watching. The bottom of this Harmless Fun category is popular.
CAITLIN: Well, they’re fun.
PETER: And harmless! Well, maybe not this next one. Actually… I don’t think Gridman was, and probably not Run with the Wind, either.
DEE: Well, as of the first episode, that was the category we were in. Yeah, I mean, I would bump Gridman down to Yellow Flags because of some of the skeevy camera nonsense. But otherwise, I think Zombie Land Saga still fits in here pretty comfortably.
PETER: Yeah. I’m not sure about Run with the Wind either.
CAITLIN: Run with the Wind, I think, is borderline.
DEE: It’s borderline. It’s… You know. Which is the next show, by the way: Run with the Wind. How are folks enjoying this one?
CAITLIN: I like it a lot, with just the one female character who is not a character.
PETER: Oh, yeah. God.
CAITLIN: Which bums me out.
PETER: Every time she’s there, I just brace for impact, ’cause it’s just gonna show all the guys just leering. Cycle through all ten of them. Just going like, “Oh man, a girl! A high-school girl!” All these college guys.
CAITLIN: I don’t care about that so much.
DEE: There’s a few that were unphased, but yeah. Some of them are way into her.
And the freshman… It doesn’t really bother me, ’cause I’m guessing she’s a junior or senior, so there’s probably only a two-to-three-year distance between them. But there’s one of the… The older guy who was specifically looking for a job and was particularly interested in her… I was like, “Oh, that’s not good.”
CAITLIN: Yeah. I feel like fetishization of high-school girls is really common in anime. Going back to Gridman for a second. The episode with the YouTubers.
PETER: Oh, yeah, yeah.
CAITLIN: They were all like, “Oh, we’re college students. We’re going on a group date with high-school girls.” And the Gridman characters are first-years. I just… I feel like that’s such a common thing, the fetishization of high-school girls.
DEE: It is, and it’s icky.
CAITLIN: It is. It is icky. I have read articles about women who got groped when they were in high school every day on the train and then the moment they graduated and they stopped wearing their uniform, it never happened again.
DEE: Yeah, so that’s… Folks at home, if you’re like, “Why do you guys care about stuff like this?” That’s why! Because it actually does bleed out and is part of the wider issues, so…
CAITLIN: Art imitates life imitates art.
DEE: Yeah. Back and forth. And the thing… To Run with the Wind‘s credit, I don’t think the camera is skeevy towards her. She just doesn’t have a personality, and I keep thinking they’re gonna develop her as an actual character, and no. She’s just The Girl.
CAITLIN: She has no personality other than… She is not shown to have any personality, any interests, other than just being there to cheer on the guys and motivate the guys. Even in Haikyu, Shimizu—the manager in that show—she didn’t have a whole lot of personality; the guys all drooled over her; but at least she was there to do a job.
CAITLIN: Hana in Run with the Wind, she does nothing. She just stands there and smiles and is cute and tells the guys how great they are.
PETER: I’m hoping for a plot twist where… I feel like it’s impossible for none of the guys to drop out. I feel like one of them has to drop out. So, I’m wondering why… If she could run, she is in high school, so she could join her track team, run once, get a record, and then be one of the ten people to run. But I doubt that’s gonna happen.
DEE: I would love… that would be… That’s the thing. Every time she shows up, I’m like, “Okay, is this the episode where we find out what her deal is, and why she’s doing this, and what her relationship with Haiji is?”
PETER: Probably nothing.
DEE: And it’s like, “No, I guess we’re not gonna do that.” And so I don’t know if we’re ever gonna find… We’re at the halfway point now, so who knows.
CAITLIN: No, it’s a two-cour. So we’re a quarter-way.
DEE: It is! Oh, that’s nice. That’s exciting. That… We have a lot more. They might actually get to her. We might actually find out something about this girl, then.
PETER: [cracking up] This mysterious girl.
DEE: That’s fun.
PETER: Yeah. There was just one scene where she’s… They say… What is it? One of them says, “Can’t you run along with us?” or something like that. She’s like, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” You’re in better shape than half of them! One guy’s a chain smoker, the other guy’s never worked out a day in his life.
DEE: Yeah, one of them… Prince runs in jeans. He runs in jeans!
CAITLIN: [laughs] I just love his shirts so much.
DEE: Oh, yeah. [laughs] I love the one that just says, “Why.”
CAITLIN: I’ve been watching this show with Jared. And Jared and I have made a couple of ill-fated attempts to get into running together, and every time it shows Akane just face-down on the grass, unable to move, he just… Both of us are just like, “Yes! That’s me!”
DEE: Yeah, I feel like we spent a lot of time harping—not “harping”—rightfully, I think, criticizing the way the show is utilizing its one female character, but otherwise, I really, really enjoy it. I wasn’t… Episodes two and three I was a little bit shaky on, but then I think four is when Prince kind of talks about how… They start to really dig into the aspect of “this is a community and we’re trying to support each other and push each other and do something different here.”
And I think that as it’s giving us more insight into the guys and why they are continuing to do this with Haiji, I think it’s gotten a lot more compelling each week. And also it looks beautiful, ’cause it’s Production I.G., and it’s… I don’t know if it’s actually the animation team behind Haikyu, but it looks like ’em.
CAITLIN: It’s the character designer.
DEE: Okay, it is the character designer, then. And then Production I.G. typically does good animation, except for whatever the hell happened to Welcome to the Ballroom. But it looks really good. The character… What’s the word? The character animation is very expressive and you get a feel for everybody even when they’re not necessarily talking.
I think it’s handled its—I mean, we’re probably not the best people to have this conversation, but—I think it’s handled its one Black character really well, too. You don’t see a lot of Black characters in anime, and I like him quite a bit.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I like how he speaks Japanese well. And this is something that I, personally, have found relatable as someone who lived in… First of all, I like that he actually comes from a country. Not just “Africa.”
DEE: [crosstalk] Musa. I was trying to remember his name. Yeah, he’s from Tanzania. Right?
CAITLIN: Yeah, he’s from Tanzania. Things like: he made one of the T-shirts and he forgot a character in it, so it says “Hakone Eki” instead of “Hakone Ekiden”; or he doesn’t really know Prince very well just ‘cause Prince uses a much more advanced vocabulary. [laughs]
DEE: So he was like, “I usually just kinda zone out when you’re talking, ’cause your vocabulary is pretty intense.” Yeah, there’s some… I think they did a good job of… He doesn’t feel like a stereotype of a foreign character, so it’s a lot more authentic. It’s that sense of, “No, I can speak the everyday language, but if you’re gonna start talking politics at me, it’s not gonna work.”
CAITLIN: Yeah. Peter, I know that you were sort of not so sure about Haiji?
PETER: Oh, yeah. I’m gonna bring up this at some point.
CAITLIN: I like most of the characters. I’m a little disappointed because I thought the character Yuki, the guy with the undercut and the earrings, was, “Ah! I don’t know why you are starting to act like you’re actually going to do this.” He came across, through his look and his relationship with Nico-chan Senpai, he really came across like he was gay early in the series.
DEE: A lot of the queer folks I follow on Twitter who are also watching Run with the Wind said the same thing. They were like, “This guy’s gay! He has to be gay.”
CAITLIN: And then he… They started showing him aggressively heterosexual: showing him at clubs trying to chat up girls, drooling over Hana, and it’s like, [disappointed] “Aw, come on, guys.”
But yeah. It’s got a really good ensemble cast. Who’s the other one that I was gonna say that I really like? I dunno. I like all of them. I like Shindou. He seems like a really sweet guy.
DEE: Yeah, no, I agree. I think the whole cast is pretty much enjoyable to watch. And they all have kind of different dynamics, and I think the show does a good job of giving that sense… Again, we’re only six episodes in, and I feel like I have a pretty good feel for all of the characters, and there’s ten of them, so…
CAITLIN: Oh! I remember what I was going to say. When we were talking about the art and the animation… One thing that I really liked is that they all have… There’s a unified art style to it, but they all have very distinctive faces. Their features are different from each other, which is always nice to see in anime, ’cause sometimes things can get kind of sameface-y, or you go the Yowamushi Pedal route, which is totally wild, and the characters all look like they should be in different series.
Which… there’s nothing wrong with that, but I really like… You could kind of see this in Haikyu, too, but since that was based on someone else’s art, less so… The characters in Run with the Wind have very distinctive faces and builds and that’s always really cool to see in a series that can get kinda sameface-y. “Series.” I meant “medium.” Agh, I keep saying the wrong word!
DEE: It’s okay. You’ll get through it.
Okay, Peter, you wanted to talk about Haiji?
PETER: Yeah, I just… I feel like I have a very unhealthy relationship with this anime because every time someone objects to Haiji, I immediately start rooting for him, because fundamentally I do think his plan is unreasonable, which I guess is fine, but also basically the way he’s gotten everyone into it is just straight-up extorting them.
Like, he threatened to kick one person out of the house. In the last episode, he demanded… Basically, everybody quit their jobs to do this thing that he wants to do, and I know one guy is specifically trying to find a career, and if he puts his life on hold for six months and then he’s trying to apply for jobs and they see a six-months gap between college and him starting a job, they’re gonna think he’s just a bad candidate; probably not even interview him. So…
CAITLIN: I mean, that’s… The Japanese post-college job recruiting season works differently from it does in the US. It’s a much more formalized process.
PETER: But he’s supposed to be opting out of that during the training phase. I dunno. I feel like Haiji is just an asshole, and the way the series is framing him as “not an asshole” is disingenuous.
CAITLIN: I mean, I don’t necessarily agree that it’s framing him as “not an asshole.” I am… I have not made up my mind on Haiji. I think he is complicated. Which is good, right? It’s good to have a character who is complicated and you’re not really sure sort of… You know, a quarter of the way through, you can’t totally… You can see the merits of him, but you can also see the problems with what he’s doing. I think he’s an interesting character.
PETER: Well, I mean, even if we know his motivations, that doesn’t excuse any of his actions.
CAITLIN: Well, yeah.
PETER: Like, Anakin Skywalker. If you know his backstory, he’s still Darth Vader. He still killed those kids.
CAITLIN: I mean, yeah. Cool motive, still murder. You know, we can… I mean, I’m saying that I don’t necessarily… I don’t know whether or not I would consider him a good guy or not. So, you know, I don’t really mind having unclear feelings on this one character.
PETER: Mm-hm. Especially with Prince, he basically said, “Either run or you’re homeless, and I know you can’t afford to get a new place, so you’ll be homeless and I don’t care.” That’s how he got Prince to run. That’s why Prince is running. Because, if he doesn’t run, he’ll be homeless.
CAITLIN: Yeah. Listen. He does some shady shit.
PETER: That’s villain shit.
CAITLIN: But… [laughs] I’m not… I just… He does some shady shit, but he also does some stuff that he really likes, like he is legitimately a really good trainer when he’s not totally strongarming them.
He’s got talent as a coach. He doesn’t make Akane feel bad. Yes, he strongarms Akane into it. I’m not making excuses for that. Right? But, at the same time, when Akane is running, he’s very, very encouraging. He’s like, you know, “You’re doing it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes at this point. It’s just awesome that you are doing your best with it. Just keep going. Don’t stop.” You know?
DEE: [sing-song] ‘Cause if you stop, you’ll be homeless~!
CAITLIN: [laughing] No!
DEE: Sorry, I get where Peter’s coming from. I’ve kind of… Because I think the strength is the rest of the cast and I find Haiji to be kind of charming even though he isn’t… I don’t like him.
CAITLIN: He is charming.
DEE: I don’t know. It’s… I have a complicated relationship with him as a character. ‘Cause if he was a real person, I would be super pissed off at him, but as a character in a series about an unlikely band of athletes coming together as a team to do the impossible, I find him fun. I find him kind of a fun character in that context.
CAITLIN: Well, Dee, you just took everything I was saying and then you said it in two sentences, so there you go.
DEE: [laughs] You’re welcome?
And I’m kind of curious to see how the series goes with it, because I do want them… I think there have been moments when they have kind of called him out for being an ass. And I would like them to push that harder and for Haiji to have a moment at some point where he goes, “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” And then maybe at that point they’ve decided, “Well, we actually do wanna do this for our own reasons now.”
But I do think that you have to have some moment where Haiji realizes that he was being a rat bastard to them, because I don’t know if his character works in a grander scope without that element of him realizing that what he did was wrong, so…
DEE: I do concur with you about that one, Peter.
PETER: Yeah, that’s why… An aspect of my ideal scenario where Hanako ends up running is also that somebody ends up quitting, because trying to get people to do shit that way doesn’t actually work and doesn’t ever have good outcomes. So, if Need a Job Guy, or Prince, just says, “Oh, I actually found a new place, so fuck you forever. I’m never talking to you again, Haij,” and then they need a new person, and Hanako’s just like, “Hey, I could actually run the whole time. Did you know I’m on the track team? You just need to be on a track team and I have a record.”
So, I feel like that would… Everything magically coming together would not be good for the show; and I guess since it’s two-cour, it couldn’t magically come together. But I feel like if it works for all of them, then that’s really weird. I mean, I can nitpick more, but yeah.
DEE: Yeah. I think overall it sounds like we’re all in it. We’re invested. So we’ll be sticking around to see where it goes from here.
PETER: I’m still watching it for some reason, so, you know.
DEE: [laughs] Yeah, I’m curious to see where it takes the story. I think it’s based on a novel? So, those are always fun, too. We don’t get those all that often. So, we know there’s a full, complete story somewhere, which is great.
Okay, next one on the list. We talked about that one quite a bit. Peter, real quick: you’ve been watching Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood. I know Vrai really has been enjoying that one. Is it still cute vampire gay shenanigans?
PETER: Yeah, it’s pretty harmless. They’ve expanded the cast. A lot of the cast are also pretty heavily coded from my admittedly not-expert perspective as… yeah. It hasn’t really betrayed us in any way to my knowledge.
DEE: So, still a fun little show?
DEE: That’s good! I guess we don’t really need to talk about it then. If you enjoyed the… That was kind of what Vrai said in the three-episode check-in too. They were like, “If you enjoyed the first episode, you’ll keep liking it. If you didn’t, there’s nothing new here.” So…
PETER: Yep. Stays the same.
DEE: Okay! Simple enough. The next one you’re watching, Peter, that Caitlin and I have not… I watched the first episode of this: Hinomaru Sumo. How’s that one doing? I thought the first episode was fine. There wasn’t anything that I needed to warn people about, but it looked like a pretty standard boys’ shounen sports series. So…
PETER: I mean, more of the same. [laughs] There is a kind of thing going on, potentially… I’m pretty sure it’s turning around. They introduced the student council president, who is a girl, who has it out for the main character because it turns out her older brother is that karate guy who he destroys in the first episode.
DEE: Oh, okay.
PETER: So, she thought her brother was a really cool delinquent, even though she’s the head of the student council, and she doesn’t like that he got embarrassed by the main character. So, she kind of has a vendetta against him. And I don’t know if it’s sort of, kind of portrayed in the best way. But it’s turning around. She’s obviously going to become the girl who is their… What’s that called? What’s that role that girls always take in sports series?
DEE: The manager?
PETER: Yeah, the team manager. I mean, she’s student council president, but she’s kind of organizing and… Yeah. That same kind of archetypical role, I think, is where she’s gonna end up.
DEE: Okay. So, the series isn’t treating her poorly, I take it? It’s just pretty standard fare.
PETER: Yeah, she just sort of came off like… I dunno. She’s the main female character in the story and just came off like a brat who wanted to ruin this guy ’cause he made Onii-chan look not cool, so now it’s just like, “Oh, that’s not very good rep.” And it is turning around, but, yeah, could be better. Past that, hella shounen sports series.
DEE: Yeah. That was definitely the sense I got from it, too, so… Alright, good to know. Anima Yell! You talked about this one at the three-episode check-in, and it sounded… This is one that I’ve had low-key on my watchlist and just have not gotten around to it because it’s been a wild season for me. How’s that one doing? I know as of the three-episode, you were pleasantly surprised by it.
PETER: Uh, yeah. I really… I dunno. I feel like this would normally be a show that I’d probably drop just ’cause it’s kind of along the lines with Ms. Vampire–I guess it’s a good season for those types of shows–it kind of just every once-in-a-while hits you with a really good joke, one that you wouldn’t expect given the structure.
I think it’s much funnier than Ms. Vampire. Past that, it’s pretty “girls form a club and do a thing.” It’s worth… We mentioned in the three-episode, everybody was making a point about the romance subplot. I guess a girl comes to them because they’re the cheerleading squad and she wanted them to cheer her up, completely misunderstanding precisely what cheerleaders do.
PETER: ‘Cause she wanted help confessing her love to her academic tutor. They didn’t really get into whether or not it’s a problematic age gap. But she does… It is a woman, not a man, and the girls kind of just… They were talking about what boys like, and they just go, “Oh, well, I would want girls like that,” and since they didn’t make a big deal out of it, the girl was really relieved, I guess.
PETER: So, I think it kind of… A lot of people were saying that it was a very positive showing of a good experience coming out and not being judged or acting like it’s weird, just sort of they took it in stride and didn’t make a big deal out of it. And were supportive.
DEE: That’s cool.
PETER: So, I heard a lot of positive responses to that. I also think it does a really good job with… I guess Anima had a really bad experience, and now it’s showing that she has some anxiety about her social interactions. Whenever she thinks of how a situation should go, often it leads to her being abandoned by everyone.
PETER: And it’s kind of… I dunno. It’s played a little bit humorously, but it kind of shows you how your thought processes can go to a horrible place pretty frequently. And I think she’s sort of gaining confidence in her friendships, so she’s not gonna do that anymore. But that’s one of the other things I appreciate that the show’s been doing.
That’s probably talking a lot more about Anima Yell than really needs to…
DEE: No, it sounds like a nice show. Again, it’s been kind of low-key on my “to-watch” list and I just had to catch up on stuff I was still behind on from last season. I just haven’t been able to get into it yet, but… You’re selling it well. I’m gonna try to check it out.
PETER: Yeah. Funny, inoffensive, and I think it’s got a couple really good high points, so…
DEE: Cool! The next one on the list… At this point, I am gonna at least mention the shows as we get to them since we’re heading towards the top of the charts.
The next one was Release the Spyce. Caitlin and I both gave it the old college try, and… Wasn’t really doin’ much for us, I think. Does that track, Caitlin? I know you wrote the three-episode check-in, so if folks wanna kind of read up on it, that’s probably a good place for it. I didn’t even make it to three. I made it to two. So..
CAITLIN: Yeah. It’s just a “cute girls kicking butt” series.
DEE: Yeah. With, I think, some kind of troubling undertones with the way the villains are presented. Which, again, I’ll direct folks to the three-episode check-in post ’cause I think anything we talk about here we’ll just end up rehashing that since we haven’t seen anything past that point.
Next show on the list is The Girl in Twilight. I am the only one watching… Well, Vrai is watching it, but they’re not on the call. [crosstalk] I am keeping up with that one.
PETER: [Crosstalk] I thought this was from last season
DEE: No, that was Phantom in the Twilight.
PETER: Ohhhh. Alright.
DEE: I should come up with some kind of helpful mnemonic device, but Phantom in the Twilight was the one that—
CAITLIN: Wait, isn’t that the Zelda game?
DEE: [laughs, pauses, then says brightly] No!
DEE: Anyway. The Girl in Twilight, not to be confused with the many other series that have the word “Twilight” in them, is… There are a lot of things I really like about it. It’s kind of clumsy. The animation is kind of clumsy. The stories are a little bit smack-you-in-the-face-with-the-point, I guess. But they’re very enjoyable.
The central thread through pretty much every story is about these teen girls who maybe don’t quite fit the image that’s projected onto them. There’s a whole… And it’s set up into two-episode arcs for each girl to explore their character, and they get to level up at the end and access their superpowers, which is fun.
But one of the arcs is: they go to this alternate universe and every girl has to… Everyone has to get married at 16, and the girl has this big revelation about “I’ve just been letting other people direct my life and I’m not gonna do that anymore,” and then the next arc is kind of a similar thing where this girl who everyone just assumes really likes cute things because she’s kind of a cute, sort of soft-voiced person is actually really into superheroes and violent Westerns and things like that. So she has a little arc about being accepted for who she is and stuff like that.
So, I wanna be like, “Yeah, it’s a really nice, fairly straightforward story about female agency and friendships and girl power that’s maybe not super-nuanced but, you know, a good feel-good show for folks that you could show to your 12-year-old cousins or whatever.”
[frustrated] Except. For some damn reason. Every two episodes or so, they have to throw in some bullshit cheesecake fanservice shots, like skeevy-ass closeups on boobs out of absolutely nowhere, in a show that has nothing to do with it. It’s almost like someone at the studio made them add them! It’s really jarring, and it’s super frustrating because it’s so close to being a show that I could just be like, “Yeah, I mean, it’s not super… It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s really nice, and I’m having a good time with it.” And then the frickin’ fanservice that comes out of nowhere to just, as Caitlin said earlier, slap you in the face with a pair of boobs.
Yeah, so, I’m still enjoying it. Less so… Episode two through four I think were… Two and three were completely void of fanservice and were great. And then four and five started bringing in the nonsense again, so that hasn’t been so fun.
But I’m still watching it. I’m still in it as far as the actual narrative beats go, and the different alternative universes they go to are fun. I’m curious to see where the series takes itself, and I’m gonna keep watching. I’m just, again, frustrated at how close it is to being a totally-on-board recommendation. And is not. So… Womp, womp.
The next show is Boarding School Juliet. I watched the first three of that. It was an honestly pretty cute little rom-com that kept falling all over anime bullshit. I kind of thought I might come back to it, but there’s just better stuff this season, so I’m gonna watch that instead.
DEE: I mean, it wasn’t like I hard-dropped it. It was more like I just didn’t ever get around to watching the next episode. But I don’t see me coming back to it, which is too bad, because I think it was really close to being genuinely quite good. But I’ll, again, direct you to the three-episode check-in for more detailed conversation on that one.
Next up, Radiant. I got through the first three of this. I have not come back to it because Alma left the cast and I decided I didn’t care anymore ’cause she was so cool. But, Peter, you’re still keeping up with Radiant. How’s it going?
PETER: I’m very confused, ’cause it’s almost a 180 from the manga. Everything has been entirely different since he defeats the first nemesis. I think it’s really kind of been levelled-out. A lot of the really goofy or more emotional scenes have been made much more bland by the anime, which is disappointing. But the manga also didn’t give any backstory at all. So, we basically got half of an episode on “what’s her deal” that is not available in the manga at this point.
DEE: Oh, that’s nice.
PETER: [Alma] just kind of disappears in the manga and you don’t know anything about her or what she was doing or how she met Seth or anything like that. I don’t know when they were gonna get to that in the manga. Not much is translated yet.
Then everything since has been changed. I do think they’ve been doing some other stuff that’s interesting and added some good goofs to maybe compensate for it. I’m just kind of reeling from how different it is, to be honest.
I don’t know if there’s too much I can really say about it. I like Melie a lot. I dunno if she’s… How problematic the archetype where there’s a girl who switches personalities is, but, uh…
DEE: So she has a couple of different personas? Is it played up like the sort of stereotypical…
PETER: Her curse is when she gets super emotional, she turns into “Crazy Melie” which is a homicidal maniac.
DEE: Oh boy.
PETER: She can only use defensive magic, but when she’s in her Crazy Mode, she’s really good at offensive magic.
DEE: So, she’s got a yandere buried inside of her. Or, I guess, she is just a yandere.
PETER: It’s hard to… You don’t know who the real one is, I guess.
DEE: Yeah, that sounds like it might… Definitely worth mentioning. Probably not the most tasteful decision.
PETER: Yeah. Now he’s learning how to do magic, so we really haven’t gotten to see too many of the series’ strengths. I think it’s still funny.
DEE: Do you know if it’s scheduled for one cour, or two? Because at this point, they’re at the halfway point, and it sounds like they’re still kind of in prologue mode.
PETER: I don’t honestly… I don’t know if they’ve announced the episode count, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it just became a long-running shounen series, since that’s what I believe the manga is. So, it could just become another Black Clover or Boruto or…
DEE: It is. Yeah, I dunno how well it’s doing popularity-wise, but…
PETER: Good. It’s a shounen series, so good.
DEE: It’s doing well? So… So, would you… As someone who dropped it at episode three because I was annoyed that Alma left, would you encourage me to go back to it? Or do you think it’s kind of whatever?
PETER: I’m not sure I could say. It’s really weird. Doc—I dunno if you were introduced to him—
DEE: I don’t think so, no.
PETER: He has a pig airship.
DEE: Yeah, I saw him in the credits, but I didn’t meet the character proper.
PETER: Yeah, he’s trying to win the affections of a woman who runs a cafe who… her father is a puppet on her hand? I’m not sure if she’s crazy or if her father was turned into a puppet? Or if her… I don’t know. I don’t know why her dad is a puppet on her hand. But… [laughs]
DEE: This sounds weird enough to be interesting to me. I do have a soft spot for just gleefully weird shit, so maybe I’ll come back to it and see how I feel about it when Alma’s not around anymore.
PETER: Yeah. Melie is pretty fun, too. She’s got cardboard cutouts in her room who are her friends, who she has tea parties with and stuff. [laughs] I dunno. It’s really weird. You can tell I’m having a hard time…
DEE: Kind of putting it into words.
PETER: Yeah, describing what’s good about the series, just ’cause it’s a bunch of kind of weird stuff. It’s definitely probably the weirdest shounen out there.
DEE: Well, and if it’s… Truthfully, Keiji Seishi—sorry, I think I said his name wrong—Kishi Seiji. There we go. Kind of sounds like a sneeze. [laughs] He’s the director on this one, and he does… He actually does weird, I think, very well. So that’s probably a good fit for him. So that does encourage me to maybe give it another try.
PETER: I’d say give it a shot.
DEE: I might check it out. Yeah, for sure.
PETER: See if you like Melie. I think her introductory episode was actually pretty funny, the way they did some Scooby Doo-type sneaking around and stuff, so I guess I could say it is really funny. I’m just trying to quantify it in terms of a normal shounen. Give it a shot, yeah.
DEE: Okay, yeah. I’ll check it out. Let’s move onto the next one, ’cause we… Despite our attempts to trim down our time, we are almost up at the hour and we still haven’t talked about Double Decker.
DEE: Which all three of us are watching, and, oh boy. So, I know Vrai and Caitlin, Vrai especially, were both very high on this one in the premiere and then the three-episode check-in. It seems like a show that was trying to say a thing about class-consciousness, and it had an episode that seemed to be pretty pro-union, and a pretty diverse cast. And so where are we now, guys?
CAITLIN: [restrained] Well. It was doing very, very well until the last episode, which was bad in a multitude of ways. [laughs]
CAITLIN: Pretty much every way that an episode can be bad, it was bad. ‘Cause there was the whole thing about Kirill’s sister, who…
DEE: Valery, I believe?
CAITLIN: Well. Kirill’s sister, Milla. Who had been missing for all those years, and then showed up, and then at Derek’s bar all of a sudden, and then Kirill goes to the bathroom, and: oh, who’s in the bathroom? Who walks up next to him at the urinal and unzips their pants? Milla! Who’s like, “Yeah, my name is actually Valery,” which is apparently, in Russian, a man’s name.
Just. It dropped the ball in so many ways. It’s just a rich tapestry of how not to handle this sort of situation.
DEE: Yeah, and then the way… Kirill was super chill about it, which was great, and then all of his coworkers were kind of terrible.
CAITLIN: And they were terrible in different ways! They were all terrible.
DEE: Yeah, they were… Yeah, one of them was mad because—I guess “Valery” is the name I’ll use—was keeping it a secret, and they were like, “they should tell Derick.” I’m gonna use “they” because I’m not clear on if the character is intended to be a trans woman or a crossdresser? It’s not handled well. So I could see it being super uncomfortable and bothersome for lots of people.
CAITLIN: It’s kind of the Nuriko paradigm. What is the least-crappy way to use the pronouns?
DEE: Yeah, but Fushigi Yugi has at least… It’s not an excuse, but was written in the early ‘90s.
DEE: [laughs] We should be past that shit. Anyway. So, it handled that very terribly, and then it did a very—what’s the word? “reductive,” I guess?—explanation for why Doug has developed class-consciousness and it involves fridging a young girl character for Manpain.
CAITLIN: That one instance made him… My hope with that is that it was Travis saying that, and Travis sort of made a guess, and Travis is an idiot.
DEE: Travis is an idiot, so… And that’s the thing. The show has done some stuff in the past where it set you up to think it was gonna go down a particular road. It looked like they had killed off the one Black character before the show even started, and it was just that Kirill was an idiot and misunderstood.
CAITLIN: [laughs] Oh, that was really great, Dee. You were so concerned about that.
DEE: I was! I was pretty… And I mean, I figured it out before Kirill did, but when it looked like he died, I was like, “Oh, awesome. Well done, Double Decker.” And then it turns out Derick’s fine.
So, it’s definitely done some kind of switch-up things in the past. Maybe it could? But the way it handled Valery was bad enough that I think we’ve lost some of our faith in the show. I’m gonna keep watching it, but folks should know that it took a bit of a faceplant in episode six or seven. I dunno, that one’s further along.
CAITLIN: I’m definitely gonna keep watching it. The thing… ‘Cause that episode was weak in a lot of ways. It was also just a very… It didn’t do anything interesting with any part of the situation. ‘Cause the fun thing about Double Decker, you know, it kind of tosses things up and does things kinda differently, and then this episode didn’t. So that was really disappointing, and… But I still want to see how it handles Max and Yuri, Boxer and Robot.
DEE: Oh, yeah. That’s the next episode. So, by the time this episode drops, I think that episode of Double Decker will be out, so we’ll find out if they’re gonna miss the football on that one as well.
CAITLIN: ‘Cause if they miss the football on that one, then… I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep watching it.
DEE: Yeah. Yeah, if they do A Bad two weeks in a row, then I think we’ll all be sort of exhausted by it at that point.
CAITLIN: And then there’s just been so much setting it up. First of all, Maxine has the most… the gayest female character design I’ve ever seen.
DEE: [laughs] Sure. sure.
CAITLIN: I mean, like… In the opening, they’re standing together. It’s a very… not even a teasing way, but an intimate sort of gesture where, you know…
DEE: Oh yeah, they’re dancing and almost kissing and, yeah, no. It seems like they’re…
CAITLIN: And also that’s the ending, but in the opening, when they’re showing all the partners, Maxine is standing behind Robot, and Robot has her hand over Maxine’s.
DEE: Robot has a name, right? Why are we calling her “Robot?”
CAITLIN: Yuri. I don’t… ‘Cause she’s a robot. [laughs]
PETER: That’s also… Her codename is “Robot.”
DEE: She’s also a person. Okay, that’s also her codename. That’s a little more fair.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Also, yeah. I don’t know why I called… I’m switching back and forth.
PETER: In the ending, I would say that’s definitely kissing. Also Robot’s definitely grabbing Maxine’s ass in the ending sequence as well.
DEE: Oh, yeah. For sure.
CAITLIN: So if they fuck that up, and they’re like, “Yeah, no, they’re just really good friends,” then what the fuck are they even doing?
DEE: Such pals! BFFs. Yeah. Yeah, we’ll see.
CAITLIN: That would just be too demoralizing to continue on.
DEE: Hopefully they don’t. Hopefully they don’t mess that one up. That’s all I can say.
CAITLIN: And that would be too bad ’cause I really like the show. And I really like Pink, AKA the person who shares your name, Dee.
DEE: Deena. Well, not 100% my name, but, you know, fairly close. I don’t get a lot of characters who are even close, so that’s always fun.
Yeah, so, I mean, it can still pull itself together, but that was a pretty significant fumble halfway through the… I think halfway through? We don’t have an episode count on this one yet. So, we’ll keep an eye on it, and, folks at home, if you’re suddenly like, “Oh, no. I don’t wanna watch Double Decker anymore,” I guess tune in for the series finale and for the series retrospective podcast. We’ll keep you posted on that one.
Last show on the list. I will try to do this quickly because it’s just me and I don’t want to be monologuing for too terribly long: Bloom Into You. It took me a while, but every week, I warm up to it a little bit more. It’s really grown on me. I think it’s shaping up to be one of the best shows of the season.
It is really… I tweeted this out earlier today, too, because I realized I hadn’t really talked about this show at all, and it definitely deserved a little bit. Production-wise, it’s gorgeous, and the storyboards are really very excellent. I mean, it’s a super-quiet, kind of internally driven… I’m gonna just use the phrase “love story” ’cause I’m not 100% sure it’s a romance yet, between these two girls, Yuu and Touko.
And I had for some reason thought it was gonna be big on melodramatics. I think I’ve had people describe it as like a melodrama to me in the past. And it’s not. It’s a very understated series, but the storyboards do a really good job of conveying a lot of the characters’ internal situation through the visual language. Keeping things fresh and moving even when it’s really just two people in a room talking to each other. It looks really good.
The characters are really well fleshed-out and very unique to the genre of teen school romance stories, yuri or otherwise. Touko has a lot of insecurity issues with the person she really is and who she’s presenting to the world.
Yuu currently reads—and this is the one point—and I’m not even really calling it a criticism; it’s just something folks should be aware of—Yuu reads very strongly as asexual/aromantic. So, ace/aro.
I don’t think that’s the direction the series is taking her. I think she’s intended to be a late-bloomer or maybe even repressed kind of character, and I think they are eventually going to ease her into a more traditional allosexual romance with Touko. I could be wrong, but that’s the sense I get from the series.
I do know there are some ace/aro folks out there who have felt some trepidation from this series because they feel like it’s setting them up for a story that they’re not going to get, and that’s totally fair. But I think if you go in with your expectations tempered for it to be more of a slow-burn allo yuri relationship, I think you will be well-rewarded.
Again, the character dynamics are really, really well-done and very interesting, and they just feel like people in a way that is sometimes rare with stories like these. And it takes a little while to get that feel for it, I think. But now that I’m halfway through, I’m all in with it, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where they take the characters’ relationships and their individual stories of self-realization and all that.
So, yeah. Bloom Into You: Recommended. I was kind of lukewarm about it at the three-episode, so I’m trying to be a little bit louder about recommending it to folks now, because it has won me over at this point, definitely.
That brings us to the top of our list. Is there anything… We’re not gonna cover sequels for this one, folks at home. We will cover them in our season retrospective, which will probably be enormous. [laughs] Was there anything else y’all wanted to say before I play us out?
PETER: Golden Kamuy is so good.
DEE: Oh, okay, if we are gonna say something about sequels, watch Thunderbolt Fantasy. Puppets, ya’ll! Puppets.
CAITLIN: Then I have to jump in and say JoJo’s Part 5, after the first couple episodes, becomes newbie-friendly again, and it’s good. But Jousuke is still the better JoJo.
PETER: Jousuke’s 4, right?
CAITLIN: Jousuke’s 4, yeah.
PETER: Oh, yeah. Agree.
CAITLIN: Pompadour Boy.
DEE: [laughs] Okay, well, I dunno. Maybe folks will fight with you in the comments on that one.
PETER: Fight me!
CAITLIN: Yeah. Let’s go.
DEE: Aw, snap! You heard that, listeners! Invitation to our comment section to fight about who the best Jojo protagonist is.
PETER: So far.
CAITLIN: But anime-only, because I’m still holding out for Jolene.
PETER: Hell yeah.
CAITLIN: I have a good feeling about Jolene.
PETER: Yep. Same page.
DEE: Totally fair. Yeah, I might actually pop into JoJo for that.
CAITLIN: Wow, Peter and I are on the same page for once.
DEE: Oh, that happens sometimes.
But yeah, folks at home, if there are some shows we maybe are overlooking, and you feel like, you know, deserve some love, let us know in the comments. If there’s anything you’d like to chime in about the stuff we talked about today, also join us in the comments.
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And that’s the show! Oh, real quick. That’s not the show!
One more notice: Folks, we are dropping down to a bi-weekly schedule on podcasts. It’s purely a scheduling thing. We are a little bit… There’s not that many of us who can record these regularly, and we all have a lot of other stuff going on, and recording a podcast a week was… It just was getting to the point where it wasn’t feasible. And we were sort of worried that we were gonna end up dropping super-sleepy, half-assed episodes on y’all. So, we’re gonna go with quality over quantity and do these every other week. So, twice a month, basically.
So, you will hear from us again, two weeks from now. We will be starting a new watchalong format. We’re excited about it, so I hope you will check that out.
Take care of yourself, AniFam! And we will catch you in the next episode.
PETER: I got it: JoJo’s Bizarre Solidarity.