The second part of our Q&A responding to questions from our Twitter followers! (You can find the first part here.) This time the questions are all about anime. Listen to us talk about our favourites, disappointments and guilty pleasures from the Fall 2016, Winter and Spring 2017 seasons and beyond.
Date Recorded: Saturday 29th April 2017
Hosts: Amelia, Dee, Peter, Vrai
01:34 Anime viewing habits
04:58 What kind of anime are you drawn to?
12:04 What is your favorite show that has aired since you started up? – senpai;notes @senpainotes
16:44 Of all the anime/manga your readers recommended, which ones did you like the most? – Sephyxer @Sephyxer
22:01 What’s your favorite guilty pleasure anime from the past 6 mos? (Bonus: try to convince us to watch it by pitching it like an infomercial) – Ebonne B @SableSteel
30:27 How often do you guys legit enjoy problematic anime? – Scott A @greenteasamurai
34:21 What anime have you really wanted to like but been unable to, and why? – Talewind @spiritskyes
47:01 What series has come closest to flawless and in the same breath, what have you seen that is the most irredeemable? – William Dunn @thedunntist
52:02 What other shows do you most look forward to writing on, whether it’s a current/upcoming show or a classic? – senpai;notes @senpainotes
AMELIA: Hi and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. My name is Amelia; I’m the Editor-in-Chief at Anime Feminist; and I’m joined today by Dee, Peter, and Vrai. If you guys would like to introduce yourselves?
DEE: Uh, hi, yeah. I’m Dee. I’m a writer and editor for AniFem as well as the contributor liaison and organizational wizard. I also run The Josei Next Door, a friendly neighborhood anime blog, and you can hang out with me on both Twitter and Tumblr @joseinextdoor.
PETER: I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an Associate Features Editor for Crunchyroll and a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist.
VRAI: I’m Vrai Kaiser. I’m a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist, and you can find all the places what I do things by throwing “Vrai Kaiser” into the Googles. K-A-I-S-E-R. You know, I love talking to the people. So come see me.
AMELIA: Okay, and today is the second podcast recording for our six-month anniversary for Anime Feminist. I probably could have said that better. [excitedly] Anime Feminist has been around for six months. Hooray! But—
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yaaaay!
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah!
DEE: [crosstalk] Huzzah!
AMELIA: We’ve recorded one podcast where we talk about Anime Feminist and our experiences working with it and building up the community around it, and our plans for the future. But we also had a lot of questions when we put this out to Twitter, asking us about anime and our opinions about anime, which is shocking. So we’re gonna go through those today.
So, just before we start, just quickly, I wanna ask each of you what your usual anime viewing habits were before joining AniFem because I think, Vrai, you didn’t really watch very much.
VRAI: Well, no, usually… I kind of go in cycles. I think most fans who are into anime for long enough do. But before I got involved with the site, it was very much: maybe I’d pick up an older show that I had meant to watch back in the ’90s or early 2000s, and just hadn’t gotten to. And then maybe if I heard of one or two shows a season that were particularly interesting to me, then I would pick that up. Like, you know, I watched Yurikuma Arashi and then nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, and then I watched Yuri on Ice.
AMELIA: Right, so actually taking part in AniFem, you’ve started watching more currently airing stuff.
VRAI: Yeah, just in terms of—partly to write content for the site, and then partly just because it’s fun. It’s nice to have a community of people that I like that are talking about it. And I want to be able to take part in those conversations, so it just behooves me.
AMELIA: And then on the other end of the spectrum, I think, Peter, you were watching [chuckles] pretty much everything airing before because of your work with Crunchyroll.
PETER: [crosstalk] Right.
AMELIA: So has that changed at all since joining AniFem?
PETER: I don’t think so. Yeah, I do—
AMELIA: [crosstalk; laughs] Yeah I didn’t think so.
PETER: —weekly features on Crunchyroll. So I watched just about everything, at least to a certain point, and I tend to keep up with quite a few series per season. So I felt like I had a pretty good base to start writing for Anime Feminist.
AMELIA: And Dee, how about you? Have your viewing habits changed at all with anime?
DEE: Uh… no—well, they changed when I started my own blog—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah.
DEE: —God, like three years ago. Which was when I made the awesome decision to watch every premiere, and—
DEE: —And then go from there. And so I’ve done my best to keep up with that with AniFem because, kinda like Vrai said, it is continuing to be a good thing for me to keep up with lots of the new shows.
One thing I will say is: I have gone back and revisited older stuff more than I was beforehand. I’ve kind of… where I used to maybe watch—God, like 10 shows a season, even though I maybe wasn’t that into the bottom three, now I’ll trim some of those bottom shows off and rewatch… like, right now I’m going through The Story of Saiunkoku, the delightful shoujo that the time forgot.
DEE: And part of that is to refresh myself on some older material that maybe I can get a good article out of, or just to have that fresh in my memory. So I have gone back to the older stuff a little bit more since I started—since we started with AniFem. But I was already watching a bunch of the new stuff, so that’s continued.
AMELIA: I think it’s been the other way around for me. I was watching all the new airing stuff when I started my personal blog—that was last January—and so I’ve watched every new premiere since the Winter 2016 season, and I’ve stopped watching older stuff. So I’ve stopped going back-catalog because I just don’t have time anymore.
So I’m really hoping as AniFem grows and I have less of the day-to-day running on my own shoulders, I can actually start watching more back-catalog. But at the moment it’s very much “currently airing anime,” and very little else.
I also just want to ask, just to cover this before we get into the anime questions: What kind of shows are you drawn to? Like, what draws you to an anime? So Vrai, [chuckles] I know you were talking earlier about how you’re drawn to… to the trash of the world.
VRAI: [laughs] Yeah, I love, basically… Well, my favorite anime is Gankutsuou, so… Is it gay? Is it surreal? It’s probably for me!
AMELIA: We’ll discuss Flip Flappers later.
PETER: [crosstalk; laughs] Yeah, yeah.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Which I haven’t watched and keep meaning to. It’s on the schedule, I swear! But otherwise, I do like series that… I hate series that feel really calculated and kind of slimy in that way. But if a series is just a dumb concept done whole-heartedly, I’ll probably watch it. I love that kind of sincere—that sincere doofiness.
AMELIA: And Peter, how about you?
PETER: That’s a really hard question, actually. Uh…
AMELIA: I know, I’m sorry, I’ve sprung this on you. [chuckles]
PETER: There’s a lot of elements that I like. So, if stuff has one or more of these elements, then typically I can really get into it. Stuff like shounen where it has really strong emotional narratives, especially single-character focus, I think are really interesting. Strong use of visual metaphor, specifically when it comes to anime and not manga. I love arthouse series as well, just to see what animators can do and how they can portray a lot of that stuff visually.
And anything that has cognitive spaces in it. Like Flip Flappers, Paprika… a little bit of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju… where it does a lot of stuff, like, allegorically in these unreal environments. I think it’s just ’cause I was a psych major, I find that stuff really cool. And, like, cyberpunk as a genre.
AMELIA: And Dee, how ‘bout you?
DEE: I like a lot of things? I have a wide umbrella. I don’t know. Um… I got into shoujo, like, a lot, when I was growing up, and so that has always been near and dear to my heart. Although I tend to come down a little bit harsher on it, I think, because the good stuff is just the best out there and then the bad stuff has all the things I really hate.
DEE: So I think I hold it to kind of a high standard because I do like it and it’s been a part of my life for so long. [sings] I am fantasy trash!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeahhh!
DEE: So if you have a story with a fantastical setting or elements, as long as there’s nothing gregiously awful about it, I’ll probably stick around.
AMELIA: Have you watched Re:Zero yet?
DEE: I caught the first episode ’cause I watch all the premieres. And…
[AMELIA and PETER laughing in the background]
DEE: …what I heard from other people about it made me think it is not a show I would personally like. [crosstalk] I’ll put it like that!
VRAI: [crosstalk] That’s a very diplomatic answer!
AMELIA: That’s very diplomatic and accurate, I’m sure. It’s entirely fair.
DEE: Yeah, I dunno, I kinda like… I tend to gravitate—again, I tend to like good shoujos, I tend to gravitate towards historical fiction. I love the kind of surreal arthouse-type stuff Peter and Vrai were talking about just because they do tend to give you a lot to think about, which is fun. So even if I’m not really emotionally dedicated to it, there’s still something there that I can kinda latch on to.
And then just to see how different people present the world. Yeah, I think I tend to gravitate towards stories that are a little bit outside of my own experience. So for a long time, I really had no interest in anime that took place in high school. But now that I’m far enough removed from high school, there’s some interest in that, you know, the adolescent experience, I guess.
AMELIA: I think I’m again kind of opposite. [laughs]
DEE: Well and it really depends. I’m much more likely to watch a show with high schoolers if it’s a comedy. Like, if they’re goofing around—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Ah, yeah.
DEE: —like Tanaka-kun is Always Listless, Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun; those are great.
DEE: Because they’re so silly and they capture that sense of absurdity… of “absurd importance,” I think is how I described it in this essay I wrote about Cute High Earth Defense Club Love.
VRAI: [crosstalk; fondly] That show…!
DEE: That is part of, like, the high school experience. So yeah, I like comedies too, quite a bit, again, as long as they don’t do anything… as long as they’re kind of warm-hearted, I guess, really—
VRAI: [crosstalk] As long as they’re not Love Tyrant, is what you’re saying.
DEE: Yeahhh, pretty much. So, yeah, I don’t know. I have a wide umbrella. I like a lot of different stuff. It’s just kinda, like, certain elements have to come together to catch my eye, I guess.
AMELIA: Yeah. And I think I’m… I guess I’m a little bit different to all of you, because I really don’t like the surreal stuff very much. [chuckles] I’ve watched Utena; I don’t like it that much.
I appreciate and respect what it does as a story, and I appreciate its place in fandom history, and I think it’s the right place, but… [sighs] I don’t think I could watch it again. I watched it once, as a group, and that was wonderful because it was as a group. Watching it on my own, all 50-whatever episodes, would be just too much for me.
DEE: [feigning defensiveness] Thirty-nine.
VRAI: And a movie.
AMELIA: [laughs] It felt like 50!
DEE: Oh no!
AMELIA: I tend to be more drawn to the stories that are very tightly about character development. I love seeing underdogs overcome their internal obstacles. Shounen is kind of made for me a lot of the time. I like those quite straightforward stories, like anything can be happening around these people, but are they growing as people? Or if they’re not growing, is it an exploration of the human experience? such as it is.
So I guess on one end of the spectrum you’ve got something like Scum’s Wish, which is all about nuance and complexity and humanity and flaws and problems. And then on the other end of the spectrum you’ve got something like Naruto. And they’ve both touched me in very, very different ways. But those are the kinds of things that I tend to be drawn to. So that context then is—
VRAI: Can we also agree that “Did Sayo Yamamoto make it?” is a quality of immediate approval?
PETER: [pained] Ooh…
AMELIA: [laughs] Oh?!
PETER: This is gonna get good later. [laughs]
VRAI: Oh, right, yes. I have to fight you in the street. I forgot.
DEE: [cracks up]
PETER: Okay. If that’s what’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] [laughs] I’ve only seen Yuri on Ice, so I can’t comment on that.
DEE: [crosstalk] I kinda feel that way about Ikuhara as well. I’m like, “Oh, Ikuhara made it? A’right, let’s give this—let’s stick this out.”
VRAI: [unintelligible under crosstalk]
AMELIA: [crosstalk] The moment you said “Ikuhara,” I just winced. So…
PETER: Let’s fight on Tokyo Tower like in X.
VRAI: Oh, ohh, the CLAMP phase that I had!
AMELIA: “Had.” Past tense. [laughs]
VRAI: If they’d settle down and tell a concrete story again, I could probably sit down because I would know it would end!
PETER: Well, Cardcaptors is coming back, so you’re good.
VRAI: Oh, I’m there for that.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yes.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah. Everybody is.
AMELIA: On which common ground we can move on to our questions. [laughs]
AMELIA: So we had some great questions from people on Twitter that have really made us think. Certainly, there’s… absolutely there were questions that I wasn’t expecting, and I’m really interested to hear what you all have to say.
So the first one—a nice simple one to start with—from @senpainotes on Twitter: “What is your favorite show that’s aired since you started up?” Who wants to step in with that?
PETER: I would probably have to say, uh… since AniFem started up?
PETER: That was like, mid-summer, right? Or late summer, end of fall?
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Uh no, I—
DEE: [crosstalk] Pretty much—
AMELIA: It would be the autumn season. So the Fall Season.
PETER: Okay, okay. Then, I probably have to go with Flip Flappers because it had most of the things that I described in the previous question.
PETER: Really strong character narrative with the main character. I love that, like, Evangelion self-actualization type story. That’s my kryptonite. I have to watch it if it’s got that and it does it really well. It has the visual metaphors in the cognitive spaces it does really well. And Pablo, all they do is backgrounds and environments, so they did some super crazy stuff.
The animation was off-the-chart and really well-directed and I just thought it was super charming. Had a few problematic elements but, I don’t know, I just was looking forward to it so much every single week.
VRAI: Uhhh… it’s Yuri on Ice. [laughs] Of course it’s Yuri on Ice. I’m a huge fan of every series that Sayo Yamamoto has directed. She only does that once every four years or so, thus far, so it’s like An Event for me every time she comes out with a new series.
VRAI: And beyond that, it’s just a really strong character narrative, which I tend to prefer over plot-driven stuff. It looks beautiful; it’s very gay. And just on a personal note, it was a series that became kind of a Date Night thing with my partner, so it was a very special… just time and place thing.
AMELIA: Yeah, I’d agree with that. I mean, Yuri on Ice is my answer. I re-watched it so much as it was airing. I thought of… every week, I thought of new blog posts I could write about it—[mutters] I haven’t written about them—
AMELIA: —But I thought of things I could write about every single week. And also, again, on a personal note, it’s one I’ve actually been able to share with a very old friend of mine. We’ve known each other, goodness, 22 years? and she’s never watched anime with me, and I was able to show her this anime and she loved it. She keeps sending me Yuri on Ice fanart that she comes across on Pinterest.
VRAI: [crostalk] Aww.
AMELIA: And it’s just really nice to have that relationship with someone that I’ve known for so long and has never shared this hobby with me. Yeah, Yuri on Ice, absolutely. [pause] Dee?
DEE: Um… is it—okay, so… I would say that Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju probably doesn’t count because season one started before AniFem kicked up. Is that fair?
AMELIA: [crostalk] No no no, go for it.
VRAI: [crostalk] No no, you can count it.
AMELIA: You can count it.
DEE: ‘Cause I can name a different show if you guys want me to.
AMELIA: You can name two shows if you want. We’re not gonna be that rigid with the rules.
DEE: Yeah, Rakugo Shinju. It was… season two I might have even liked better than season one because I was very attached to the—more attached to the characters, I think. ‘Cause in season one I was still trying to figure out what the show was doing.
And then with season two I had a better idea, so I just latched onto these sad, wonderful, complicated, flawed people. And so it was like, not only was it really interesting on an intellectual and analytical level, but it just punched me in the feels every week. So Rakugo Shinju would be the one I would name, if it counts. [crosstalk] With season one airing before AniFem.
PETER: [crosstalk] It does.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] If it doesn’t count?
VRAI: [crosstalk] It does.
AMELIA: It does count. But if it didn’t count?
DEE: If it didn’t count, then it would be ClassicaLoid.
PETER and VRAI: [laugh]
DEE: As far as “favorite show that has aired since AniFem started.” I look forward to… I looked forward, ’cause, tear!—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Oh, it’s ended!
DEE: [crosstalk] —season one is over. Season two will happen. So, I’m doing okay.
AMELIA: Oh, has it been confirmed?
DEE: It was just, every Saturday morning I would wake up just so excited to be able to watch this zany… again, this warm-hearted comedy, that was very silly and just completely went all-in on its weirdness and had a great time, and it was a blast. So, yeah. Favorites would be those two. Which are about as different as you can get, I think.
AMELIA: [laughs] I think so.
VRAI: I don’t know how you watched Rakugo week-to-week. Like, I binged it, and that was painful enough.
AMELIA: It was painful. [chuckles]
VRAI: Ahh, it’s such a good show, but just the tension of… I don’t think I could do it.
AMELIA: Yeah, there were a couple of ending—episode endings in season one. And I was new to anime again. I hadn’t ever watched anime week-to-week before. This was my first experience, watching anime week-to-week. And yeah, there were a few later in the season where I was just like, “This is why we don’t watch anime week-to-week!” Was what I was thinking. So.
AMELIA: Okay. “Of all the anime or manga your readers recommended, which ones did you like the most?” And that was from @Sephyxer, if I’m pronouncing that right?
And I just have to step up and say: Our readers recommend really great-sounding anime and manga to us all the time and I read every single one of them and think: “Oh, that sounds really good. I’d really like to watch this” or “I’d really like to read this.”
I just don’t have time at the moment. If it’s not going to become AniFem content in some way, or if it’s not related to my freelance writing, then I just can’t justify the time right now. Again, I hope that’ll change in months, years to come. But I’d love to know what you guys have picked up on.
VRAI: I don’t think anyone’s ever directly recommended me anything. At least among our community.
AMELIA: They may have in comments.
VRAI: [crosstalk] No, yeah, at least not on my pieces, I don’t—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Okay.
VRAI: Oh no wait, um… somebody recommended something alongside Eroica, that sounded interesting, but I haven’t had a chance to give it a shot yet. [pause] This is not a helpful answer.
VRAI: Somebody else, carry on.
AMELIA: Anyone else?
PETER: Okay, I don’t know if I’ve gotten any recommendations from readers specifically, but I did have a good story about… it was related to Anime Feminist. I think it was—it actually came up in a Twitter argument. So something positive coming out of a Twitter argument. It’s like the only time in the universe that’s ever happened.
PETER: So, somebody was—I can’t remember quite what the context was, but they were basically complaining about anti—they were complaining about SJWs. So, great foundation for a discussion.
And over the course of conversation, it got really weird, it was pretty heated, but once, off-handedly, the person just added an extra tweet at the end of a string that said that they were really pissed off that Wandering Son was taken of Crunchyroll. And I was like, “I never heard of that.” So I ended up looking it up and it was on Crunchyroll. I don’t know where they got the impression it was taken off. Maybe it was off briefly or something like that.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It was.
PETER: And I was just like, “Hey, it’s still on there,” and then they’re like, “Oh well, it’s really good. You should watch it.” So I was curio—I read the premise, I was like, “This sounds really good! This person was literally just complaining about SJWs, and this sounds like it’s about a trans kid.” And I watched it, and it was fricking amazing. [laughs]
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, it’s really good.
PETER: So I tweeted the guy back later, and I was like, “This was really good. Thanks for recommending it to me.”
PETER: And we had a short conversation about it, which was pretty positive and… yeah, I was just really surprised that it came with that kind of thing. Wandering Son’s really good. I recommended it myself. Anyone who likes A Silent Voice, it’s very similar to that. Especially if trans issues are important to you.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It—it’s got—
PETER: [crosstalk] It’s a really amazing series.
VRAI: It’s something where I need to visit the anime, because I have a few side-eye things about how they maybe wrapped up that last episode there that I can’t write about yet. Anyway, the manga’s really good! [laughs]
PETER: Yeah, the ending was a bit… I felt like they just found a cut-off point.
PETER: I’m a little afraid to read the manga right now ’cause it got really… like, real. And it’s one of those series you have to prepare yourself for.
VRAI: Yeah, it’s, um… I could talk Wandering Son spoilers, but people… maybe don’t… want me to.
AMELIA: I haven’t seen it yet, so…
DEE: That’s a podcast for another day, right?
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah. Yeah.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] It absolutely is. [pause] Dee, how about you?
DEE: I tend to get… instead of—and this is more from The Josei Next Door than from AniFem specifically—I don’t tend to get a lot of recommendations. What I will get is people saying, “Hey have you seen this? And if you have, what did you think about it?” And a lot of the time I have, ’cause I’ve seen a lot of stuff, or I’ve tried it and it wasn’t for me, or whatever. But sometimes titles will come where I’m like, “No, I haven’t seen that, but that sounds neat!”
The thing is, I… because I do have such a big backlog, I’m really bad about picking up recommendations even from my friends.
VRAI: [wincing] Same.
DEE: Because I do have a lot of other stuff that I’m sitting on, and it’s like: Well I know I wanna get to this too. So I kinda add it to the queue and then sometimes I just forget about it.
DEE: Vrai can attest to this, to give kind of a non-anime-related example. It took two years and five people telling me to listen to The Adventure Zone podcast before I finally picked it up.
DEE: And then I finally did, and they were right! It was great! I love it! [laughs; crosstalk] But that’s how long it took me to finally go “Okay, fine.”
AMELIA: [crosstalk] You had two years of episodes to listen to!
DEE: I had, like, three by that point. But yeah, it’s one of those things where—it’s like you almost have to just keep peppering me with it and then I’m like, “Fine, just to shut you up, I’ll try it out.” And then I try it out and I like it.
And because of that, because I did have multiple readers ask about both Princess Jellyfish and Natsume’s Book or Friends, I was like, “Okay, fine, I guess I’ll push ‘em up my queue since sooo many people like ‘em.” And they were right; they were great; and I like them both a whole lot.
So, those would probably be the two recommendations that stick out as ones that I’m really happy that people kind of pestered me with them until I finally did get to ‘em.
PETER: And then you had seven seasons of Natsume to watch.
DEE: Well, I’m watching it with a friend and we’re catching up together, and it’s been fun. It’s a gradual process, but it’s been really enjoyable
VRAI: [crosstalk] In fairness—
DEE: [crosstalk] So yeah, dear…
VRAI: Yeah, you did do that to me with Rakugo and then I got to say “You were right, you were right, you’re very right.”
DEE: Vrai and I pester each other with stuff until we watch it, basically. So.
AMELIA: Okay, next question. “What’s your favorite guilty pleasure anime from the past six months? And bonus: Try to convince us to watch it by pitching it like an infomercial.” Thanks Ebonne B., @SableSteel. [laughs]
I’m gonna plead English-ness and say I have no idea what an infomercial’s supposed to sound like, so I’m gonna skip that. Any of you guys want to answer this?
DEE: I haven’t gone first yet. Um… in the last six months? [shamefully] Akiba’s Trip. It was—
DEE: —and I can’t pitch it. I can’t pitch it to anyone. I can sort of explain to you why I like it.
DEE: But I get to: “And then they have to strip people to save the world!” And then everyone walks away and I’m like, “Oh no!”
DEE: So I can’t…. like, it’s got problems that I will never attempt to justify. But it’s very bright, and optimistic, and I really enjoy the characters, even though the show doesn’t always treat them as well as it should.
AMELIA: You put up screenshots of a Yu-Gi-Oh parody? Was that…?
DEE: There are two amazing things about Akiba’s Trip. The first is that the second episode, they fight… the bad guy is a literal militant nerd gatekeeper, and the whole point of the episode is: “Don’t keep people out of the fandom. Everyone started as a rookie. You should be nice to them so the content will survive.” And I was like, “Yes! This show is good.”
DEE: And then… and then I think it’s like episode 8 or 9 or something, is the best Yu-Gi-Oh parody I’ve ever seen. It was incredible. Like even if you don’t wanna watch the whole show, [through laughter] just watch the Yu-Gi-Oh episode, if you watched Yu-Gi-Oh as a kid. It’s amazing.
And that’s one of the few episodes where the bad guy’s a dude. And so the person they stripped to save the day is a guy. So that happened sometimes.
AMELIA: Episode 8, you say? [laughs]
DEE: Episode 8 or 9, I don’t remember the exact number. But somewhere in the back half.
AMELIA: Just flick through ‘til you find something that looks like Yu-Gi-Oh.
PETER: [crosstalk] That’s a pretty good pitch.
DEE: [crosstalk] But I… I really like it.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] That’s a pretty good pitch, yeah!
DEE: That was my guilty pleasure.
AMELIA: Vrai, what was yours?
VRAI: [wincing] I can’t even defend the fact that I’m still watching Seven Mortal Sins.
VRAI: It’s so bad! It’s bad and it’s porn and like, my best foot forward is: “Hey, do you miss the times in the mid-2000s where the ecchi series featured characters who all looked like adult women instead of underage girls? This show may be for you!”
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Wow.
PETER: [crosstalk] Its opening theme is titled “Whatever happened to Queen’s Blade?”
VRAI: And oh my God, the ending series—the ending song has this raspy dude trying to do bad club banger music, and I laugh so hard?
DEE: That premiere was kinda hilarious.
VRAI: Yeah, and there comes a certain point where it’s like, you can only laugh so hard at the hilarious pentagrams and the light bars because it is very non-consensual groping-heavy in a way that I know would make many people rightfully uncomfortable. And I’m sure there’s an element that’s just me going: “Oh, this is an entirely female cast that might have a… that might have yuri in it, and I’m very, very gay.”
AMELIA: Okay. But not underage girls, is your pitch there?
VRAI: [frantic] No, yeah, yeah, no.
VRAI: “Look, adult fanservice!”
PETER: Also, if you like those Fullmetal Alchemist alchemy circle coasters, you’ll love this anime as well.
VRAI: Oh, my God! Like the fact that the censorship is so blatant, and so lazy? It’s amazing.
AMELIA: Peter, what was your guilty pleasure anime?
PETER: When I first read the question, my immediate thought was Tanya. And then I thought about that for a while and I was just like: “But were there problems in Tanya?” And I feel like, when I heard the premise I’m just like, “This is going to be a problem.” But then it wasn’t? So…
AMELIA: Is there nothing that you’ve watched in the last six months where you’ve been like, “No, this is something I can never write about for AniFem”?
PETER: Uhhh, not really. I’d have to say, if I were… if I was talking about guilty pleasure…
PETER: It would probably be… maybe Kemono Friends. Yeah. Honestly—okay, I have to pitch it, right?
PETER: I did watch it. It is just so bizarre. ‘Cause it is—like, it’s got the lowest budget I think in… but [it’s] gotta break some sort of record for low budgets in anime. Entirely 3D-CG. It’s like a kid’s show, basically, but there’s, I don’t know, something about it is just really appealing, the way they act.
And then there’s this undercurrent of this potentially horrific post-apocalyptic dystopia that they’re wandering through. While it’s all these cheery girls talking about making friends and stuff.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Oh, Hatoful Boyfriend.
PETER: Uhh… Yeah. A little bit, yeah. Well ‘cause it’s… there’s so many theories about it now that it’s hard to really get into. It’s kind of like this slow-burn that’s existing in the background this whole time. And then the voice acting is really good, too. But a lot of it is just watching 3D models clipping through their environment [chuckles] and stuff like that.
Oh, and the soundtrack’s amazing, ’cause when they fight these, like, really poorly rendered 3D blue orbs, it’s got this house techno playing. It’s the same music Blade slays vampires to.
PETER: I can’t describe—this series is an assault on the senses and they’re… I shouldn’t like it, but I do, and I guess that’s why it’s a guilty pleasure. Also, I can’t do it like an infomercial. I literally failed an interview because I wasn’t able to do that, so. I’m not gonna talk like I’m trying to sell you a set of knives or anything.
AMELIA: Okay. Well, my answer—I mean, I echo what you all said, I can’t defend it. My show notes literally say “Twin Star Exorcists and I can’t convince anyone to watch it, because it is terrible.” So…
DEE: [laughs sympathetically]
AMELIA: It has… the selling point of it for me is that the relationship between the two stars of the show—the twin stars themselves—is one I particularly like, and I’ve only really seen otherwise in something like Nodame Cantabile, where the two have kind of professional ambitions that they push each other to achieve. And it’s quite a specific dynamic and it’s one I haven’t seen replicated in many places.
And the idea is that as soon as one of them starts kind of achieving, the other one sees that goes, “Ah, I need to work harder,” and then they kind of get a little bit more ahead and the other one sees that and goes “oh no I need to work harder.” [laughs] That’s the dynamic that I really quite like. You see it in shounen all the time between male characters; you don’t often see it between male and female characters, let alone those who’re expected to eventually be romantically involved.
And romance is an element of Twin Star Exorcists and it’s handled in a very… [uncertainly] positive way from my perspective? So they have one kind of older couple—older? like older than teenaged—they have one couple who, they become engaged and when they do, he comes out with this “I want to protect your smile” line, and she basically says, “No, that’s unacceptable, because I need to protect you and your smile as well.” So, just that kind of—
AMELIA: —Yeah!—that kind of foundation is through Twin Star Exorcists, and it underpins all the relationships I can think of in it, and so that’s something I really appreciated. But it… it’s not the tightest of shows, it’s like 50 episodes, 52 episodes, something like that. And they could probably have cut it down to a good 26 and it would have been exactly the same story. So.
I’ve heard the manga improves on it—I say “improves on it”; the manga’s the source material—but I’ve heard that that takes a stronger approach to it. I’m not sure. I need to read it. I’d like to. But it was something that I actually—I probably looked forward to that more every week than most things that I kept up with, and I kept up with it for a full year. So, [chuckles] that, uh—
VRAI: [crosstalk] Says somethin’.
AMELIA: Yeah, that is something, but I thought, so many times—like we’ve talked on AniFem about recommending favorites, and every time it came to recommendations, I would put down Twin Star Exorcists in some capacity and then I would delete it because I couldn’t possibly recommend it.
AMELIA: So… there’s my guilty pleasure.
VRAI: Ah, wait wait wait, was Seraph of the End in the last six months? Because holy shit.
AMELIA and PETER: [crosstalk] No.
DEE: [crosstalk] That was last year.
PETER: [crosstalk] A while back.
DEE: But yeah, that was definitely a guilty pleasure. Not the last six months though.
AMELIA: Not the last six months.
AMELIA: In a very related question: “How often do you guys legit enjoy problematic anime?” And that’s from Scott A. @greenteasamurai.
PETER: Pretty frequently.
DEE: [crosstalk] All the time. [laughs]
VRAI: [crosstalk] All the time forever.
PETER: I’d say three-to-five shows per season is, like, legitimately problematic, and I still watch them. Like last season, Dragon Maid had its issues; Interviews with Monster Girls was just a constant tug-of-war between whether it’s going to be about the characters or just this shitty, horrible harem situation.
PETER: Then before that… I mean, hell, Flip Flappers was problematic in some ways, too. So I’d say at least three-to-five [a] season are problematic, but I legit enjoy them, so. We don’t not watch that stuff.
DEE: Yeah, I feel like there’s very few things that are… that I go into and I go “There are no issues with this whatsoever. At all.”
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yes, exactly.
DEE: Like, that’s really rare. So, pretty much every show I’ve watched, there’s gonna be some moment where my eyebrow gives a little twitch and I’m like, “Mm, that’s not great.” But—
PETER: Even Rakugo.
DEE: Even Rakugo had, like—and very, very few moments in Rakugo, but… I will kind of defend those decisions, but I did not care for them. [chuckles] But no, overall, I think it’s hard to find a show that you’re like, “Well, there’s no issues with this; it’s perfect.” So, I think I enjoy problematic stuff pretty much constantly?
And there are certain things that will push me out of a show, where I’m like, “No, that’s my threshold. I’m not enjoying this anymore,” and then I stop watching. But… yeah, I enjoy problematic stuff all the time.
VRAI: Yeah, I think it comes down to a question of: “What is the problematic element and how much does that meet or does it over-weigh the elements of the show that you find valuable?”
AMELIA and DEE: Yeah.
VRAI: ‘Cause I’m a big fan of horror, so I’m all problematic stuff all the time. I’m reading Killing Stalking right now.
VRAI: The heights of problematic material! But yeah, that issue of “how much value am I getting out of this” versus “how much is it deleterious to the overall effect”?
AMELIA: Yeah, and I think everyone has specific deal-breakers as well. Like, I’m particularly sensitive to stuff involving fanservice; involving breasts. There’s a certain tipping-point past which you have to be a very rare anime indeed to win me over.
Something like the Seven Mortal Sins character designs: drop them into any anime and instantly I don’t think I can watch it. And everyone… that doesn’t bother some people. It certainly doesn’t bother Vrai, and I’m so grateful for it.
AMELIA: But everyone will have different deal-breaker issues, and they’ll have different deal-breaker tipping points. And so you end up watching stuff that’s problematic to somebody else, but for me it’s within my personal tolerance.
DEE: Yeah. I almost wonder if the things that are our deal-breakers are also things that the genres that we were drawn to over the years—’cause we’ve all been anime fans for a while at this point—
VRAI: [crosstalk] Mm-hm.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah.
DEE: —were things that were especially prevalent and we kinda just got sick of ‘em? ‘Cause Amelia, you were saying fanservice is a big thing for you, and I know you’re a big fan of the shounen genre, and that is a prevalent problem in shounen. My big thing is consent. And I’m a big shoujo fan, and that is a prevalent problem in shoujo.
DEE: So it kinda makes me wonder if part of it is, like, something you really want to enjoy and this thing keeps happening. And so it becomes an even bigger problem because of that element of it taking you away from something you’d like to like. [crosstalk] Does that make sense?
VRAI: [crosstalk] Uh-huh.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah, maybe. Listeners, chip in and let us know if you agree with that. That would be a very interesting discussion.
PETER: Yeah, that’s true. I think damseling, with me, just makes me wanna vomit these days.
PETER: I think every time a female character I like is just like this—they have to rescue her, in one arc or something? I hate it. I’ll just stop watching something because of that.
AMELIA: Okay, and that leads us very nicely on to the next question, which is: “What anime have you really wanted to like but been unable to, and why?” And that’s from @spiritskyes.
VRAI: I can start. I really, really wanted to like ACCA 13 because it’s—
AMELIA: [Sadly] Ohhh.
VRAI: ‘Cause it’s the same author as House of Five Leaves, which is one of my all-time favorites, just as a very quiet, little found family character drama with also a low-key romance, and I just adore it so much. And ACCA was just… a little bit too cold. Like, I couldn’t—
VRAI: I didn’t feel like I was being allowed to get closer than arm’s length to any of the characters and I didn’t feel like I really got why they liked each other either.
VRAI: So I was left with this fantasy world-building that I didn’t really care about and a very chill, slow-moving conspiracy plot that couldn’t hook me in. Because I will always take character writing over plot writing any day.
AMELIA: Right. That makes sense.
VRAI: And then, in a sense more on the terms of just outright problematic anime: I’m a fan of Attack on Titan, but I sometimes really struggle with that because I know that Isayama is overtly pro-imperialist. And knowing that and then seeing the pro-militarist themes in that anime can get very uncomfortable.
AMELIA: So that’s like: “What anime have you really wanted to like without feeling guilty, but been unable to, and why.”
PETER: It’s like listening to Kanye West music.
AMELIA: [laughs] And that is the only time those two comparisons will ever be drawn.
AMELIA: Dee, how about you?
DEE: This is a broad answer: like 80% of the long-running shounen, blockbuster series that everybody’s really into. I want to like the things that other people are liking and be a part of that conversation and I just… I tend to struggle with those because the arc-based format tends to lose my interest. If I don’t have a general idea of where the story’s going to end, I have to really like the characters and just wanna hang out with them, almost in a sitcom format.
DEE: And so if it doesn’t have that extra level of character hook there, I tend to just lose interest. Which is a pacing issue, to a point. And then a lot of the time they do this thing where they have these really good female characters… and then they just sideline them. And…
AMELIA: [chuckles] Yeah.
DEE: So I get into these shows and I’m like, “No, I don’t care about this… about McBoyface who’s leading the story.”
DEE: “He’s not that interesting to me! What about these people over here? These people seem great.”
DEE: And so I think that those two things combine a lot of the time to the point where it’s like, [apologetically] “Well I tried, but, not so much.” And then, again, that’s 80-85% of them. ‘Cause then I also really liked Hunter x Hunter; I really like My Hero Academia right now. There are absolutely exceptions to that rule.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah, of course.
DEE: But a lot of those series. I wish I could be a part of the big fanbase for them, and I just can’t get into ‘em.
AMELIA: My answer is kind of the opposite. It’s the surreal stuff. So I mentioned earlier that I really struggled with Utena. Flip Flappers was heartbreaking for me, ’cause so many people that I like and respect value it, and so many people told me, “You have to watch this; you’ll really like this; it’s really feminist relevant; it’s got amazing themes, amazing character arcs; you have to watch it.” And I watched it all the way through and it just left me cold.
The last few episodes did… they slipped into a more linear narrative, I think, in the last few episodes. They slipped into a mode that was a bit easier for me to grasp and really engage with. But before that, it was honestly a good 8, 9, 10 episodes of just kind of convincing myself to watch the next one, because maybe then I’d really get it. But I know that was a big favorite for a lot of people, so I felt really bad that I couldn’t get into that one.
VRAI: Yeah, I feel like… yeah, I feel that way about Eureka Seven. So many people have rec’d that to me—“Ah, it gets good at 30 episodes in!”—and I just can’t… engage.
DEE: [sigh-laughs] Yeah.
VRAI: Can’t do it.
AMELIA: I mean, this is the issue we have with Re:Zero. Whenever I recommend it I say: “Okay, it’s really amazing from episodes 12 to 18, and those first 11 episodes get really good the second time through when you watch it.” So… [laughs] It’s a hard sell.
DEE: [crosstalk] That’s a big commitment.
AMELIA: We got Caitlin to watch it through once. I think she might do a re-watch, but not particularly willingly. So yeah, it’s a very difficult sell, that one. [pause] Peter, what was your anime you’ve wanted to like but been unable to, and why?
PETER: Okay, here we go. Uhhh…
[DEE laughing in the background]
AMELIA: Come on. Do it.
VRAI: We’re gonna fight in the street!
PETER: [mutters] It’s Yuri on Ice.
AMELIA: It’s Yuri on Ice.
PETER: Yeah, I… Out the gate, I really enjoyed it. And obviously it was such a huge thing that we were doing a watchalong in the Crunchyroll office. Everybody would get into the lobby—we have this huge 4K TV—every Wednesday at noon. They would all get lunch and watch it together. And I was doing that for a while. But as the series progressed, I just kind of fell out of love with it?
There were aspects that I really liked about the series, but just some of the narrative decisions really, really, really bothered me. Specifically, like, Yuri’s internal monologue undermining all of the actual actions he was taking that would have deepened his relationship with Victor.
And again, I don’t read too much BL so I’m not too familiar with their tropes and stuff like that, and I doubt I’m the target audience. But it seems like, just looking at it from a writing perspective, that… and I’m not like a denialist or anything… but the ending especially really pissed me off a little bit. Where it felt like it—she would always approach the gap and then Yuri would jump back, and the way she was doing it I couldn’t plausibly just say, “Oh, they’re kind of teasing,” or something like that.
And at the end I just I didn’t care anymore. At all. And now a second season’s coming and I’m kind of dreading it, actually, ‘cause I know it’s gonna be a big deal again and I doubt I’ll connect with it the way I did the first time.
AMELIA: Honestly, all the way through—I mentioned earlier that it was my favorite show that’s aired since we started. I absolutely loved it; completely engaged; completely immersed in fandom. The last two episodes left me cold and I haven’t watched it since. So, I do understand where you’re coming from with that.
DEE: The last two episodes very much feel like, “Oh shit, this is really popular. We should probably keep it open-ended and have a season two.”
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Exactly.
DEE: That’s kind of the way—and, again, I’m not gonna assume that that’s the case. I’m sure somebody who follows, like, the interviews and stuff could tell me that was not the case at all. But that’s the way it felt as far as narratively goes.
AMELIA: It did feel like stepping back, didn’t it? Because they had upped the ante every week consistently from Week One, and then suddenly they drew back. And I thought, “Okay, this is”—it was what, episode 11, and I was thinking, “All right, that basically resets the entire stage so that they can come back with a really big climax.” And then it was just quite underwhelming, for me.
PETER: Then Victor tells him to take initiative and kiss him, basically, and Yuri says, “Oh, will you be my coach again?”
AMELIA: Yeah… There are all sorts of completely worthwhile narrative reasons to do that. But the end result was that it left me a bit cold, so.
AMELIA: I sympathize. I don’t agree, but I do sympathize.
PETER: Yeah, and I hear a bunch of criticism of the series and all the denialist shit, which just drives me insane. And there’s so much pushback on the series that I feel almost bad about criticizing it. But there’s some elements that I just, like… personally, I’m like, “Why did you do that?”
AMELIA: I mean, just to be clear, when you say “denialist,” we’re talking specifically about people who are like—
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, people who watched it—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] “No, there’s absolutely no queer content whatsoever.”
PETER: [crosstalk] Yes.
AMELIA: And not people who—because there is an ambiguous reading, and if you want to read it as not a sexual relationship, for example, you can do that. It does allow that. And I think that’s the frustration with the last couple of episodes is it doesn’t close that down. It doesn’t pick a path and commit to it.
There are people who give quite reasonable criticisms of the: “They are definitely in a relationship; they are definitely romantically involved.” And I don’t want to completely shut that down. That’s not my perspective, but I also respect where those people are coming from.
PETER: Yeah, anybody who watches that show and says it’s completely heterosexual, though, is just… [crosstalk] out of their minds.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] And that’s the thing!
PETER: [crosstalk] They don’t know what they’re talking about, yeah.
AMELIA: That’s the thing. There’s a difference between an absence of clear homosexuality and saying, “It is definitely heterosexual.” So that’s kind of the line I’m talking about.
PETER: It’s like, “Why are you even watching the show?”
AMELIA: Vrai, do you have a rebuttal?
DEE: Yeah, Vrai’s been really quiet!
VRAI: [pained laughter] It’s, um… well, it’s—I’m legitimately thinking about—because it’s hard for me to… (A) It’s been a while since I watched it, but (B) I also feel so much—it’s one of those shows that I feel so much about?
VRAI: It’s one of those things that is… it’s one of those shows that definitely I would need to revisit to speak about critically, I think, because I feel so many ways about it, you know. It’s very special to me both in terms of how much I’m very into the themes that Sayo Yamamoto is working with, as well as how it related to my personal life.
I found it very interesting… in the way that it plays in response to BL tropes in general. Because that’s something she [Sayo Yamamoto] really likes to do when she works with a genre, is respond back to it and kind of play with the tropes.
I do… I do agree that it doesn’t necessarily commit in some of the ways that would have been perhaps most satisfying to somebody who’s not really attuned to that kind of thing in anime. Compared to a lot of shows that you would call “queerbaiting”—Free, I’m looking at you, and I’m not sorry.
VRAI: It’s very… I could accept a reading of it that is: she’s playing this game of “how much can you show while not calling the thing by its name and still have people deny it?” Which is interesting from a creative standpoint, but from a viewership standpoint it can be frustrating because there will always be people—even after Kubo came out and said, “Why, yes they did smooch on the ice that one time”—there will still be people who try to erase that reality.
So you kind of, to a certain extent: “How much do you need to be overt in those areas?” versus, in an ideal world, all things being equal, you could play something very interesting with just… “How does content shown relate to content spoken?”
Which I think was a similar problem with Yurikuma Arashi. They kinda wanted to play with the idea of “These are overtly sexual relationships that are calling each other friends,” but then didn’t ever really go anywhere with that.
So I think it’s a fraught and interesting issue. And… yeah, there were some—I felt like Yuri on Ice [was] trying to do a few too many things with 13 episodes. It probably had too many characters. But I—
AMELIA: It only had twelve episodes. I wish it had had thirteen. We could have had a banquet episode. That would have been amazing.
PETER: [crosstalk; goodnaturedly] Oh, God.
VRAI: I guess… I mean, in fairness, I’m—like, in my head, I’m always comparing it to “This is a much more narratively satisfying thing than No. 6, which only got 11 episodes and desperately needed twelve.”
DEE: [crosstalk] True.
VRAI: [pained] God, that poor show that I still love so much.
But no, yeah, I do not have time for people who say that the relationship is not heterosexual but also not romantic. Like, I could see that you could argue that maybe they are not involved yet, but the fact that the narrative is so clearly built to go that way… I just don’t have time for that kind of thing for a show that was such an event, that connected so many people, whether or not they’re normally fans of anime or not. It feels very important to me to preserve that element of it.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I really wish that they’d—
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, nobody can deny that. It, like, destroyed blu-ray sales. It was huge. It was—so many people watched; it won, like, everything in the anime awards—I don’t think anybody can say that it wasn’t a hit, for sure.
AMELIA: Absolutely. And like I mentioned earlier, it was one that I was able to share with an Anime Muggle—somebody who just isn’t familiar at all. So that was really meaningful for me.
Okay, let’s move on from Yuri on Ice ’cause we could fill a podcast with that.
DEE: Maybe someday we will!
AMELIA: Maybe we will!
“What series has come closest to flawless, and in the same breath, what have you seen that is the most irredeemable?” And that’s by William Dunn @thedunntist. I love his username.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, that’s… that’s a good one.
AMELIA: Okay, first off: series come closest to flawless. Does anyone have an answer that is not Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju?
DEE: [sings] Revolutionary Girl Utenaaa!
AMELIA: Last six months, last six months.
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh, does it have to be?
PETER and VRAI: [crosstalk] Does it say “last six months”?
VRAI: Because I’m pretty sure—
AMELIA: This podcast is to separate—ah, to celebrate our first six months as AniFem.
VRAI: So I can’t talk about Gankutsuou then.
AMELIA: You can in another podcast. For this one we’re talking last six months.
DEE: Oh… I just thought they meant in general.
AMELIA: I’m sure they did, but I’m refining it.
VRAI: [laughs] Then it’s Rakugo.
AMELIA: It is Rakugo, isn’t it?
DEE: [crosstalk] It’s Rakugo.
PETER: Uhh… yeah last six months, I can’t think of a series that was cleaner than Rakugo.
AMELIA: Yep. And we’ve already discussed why, so that’s great. Irredeemable from the last six months?
VRAI: Fuck off, Love Tyrant. Fuck off!
AMELIA: I’m gonna go beyond that. I’m gonna say Super Lovers.
VRAI: Oh, God, yes.
DEE: Oh, did that air? Did that air in the Fall? [crosstalk] I didn’t even—
PETER: [crosstalk] Season two was in… Winter I think.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Season two just finished.
DEE: I watched the first episode of that, ’cause I watch all the premieres, and then I noped out. So I completely forgot there was a season two airing last time around.
AMELIA: I have a very long draft somewhere of a post breaking down why Super Lovers is just the worst possible version of anime that has ever existed. Obviously I haven’t published it yet, but. [chuckles]
VRAI: Anime already has a problem with sexualizing underage characters. And I don’t wanna hear about consent laws. [sternly] Stop it, stop the comment, you’re typing right now, stop it.
VRAI: We do not need an anime, particularly a queer anime, that’s romanticizing grooming when there is already too much conflation between—
AMELIA: That’s exactly the problem. He’s underage. They’re technically brothers; they’re legally brothers. He’s—we see the grooming; it’s really appalling. We see his consent overridden time and time again. It is horrible.
And it got a second season, and that second season was made available where other shows have not been made available. So I just think Super Lovers represents the absolute worst of anime and of its distribution in the West. Anyone could top that? Anyone?
PETER: I can’t top it, though I do wanna shout out to Izetta.
PETER: That was another one that made me viscerally angry. [crosstalk] Where she was supposed to be a..
DEE: [crosstalk] Which one?
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Izetta.
PETER: The Last Witch? [crosstalk] I think that was the last six…
DEE: [crosstalk] Ohh, yeah, I forgot about that.
PETER: Yeah. Just, uh… she was supposed to be a character that everybody admired, but she was just constantly getting sexually assaulted by these other characters for comedy—for comedic purposes. And she was crying on screen and it was absolutely disgusting and I couldn’t believe that it was supposed to be comedy.
It was like—it’s a lot of tropes, but it was turned up to 11 in that series, and it undermined the premise of her character. So narratively it didn’t work. It just felt like they were just like, “This is what you guys want, isn’t it?” And I just… I was grossed out. That one was really, really, really bad. I literally saw that scene and I couldn’t watch anymore. I turned it off and I never picked it up again.
AMELIA: And I’ll give a shout-out to Armed Girl’s Machiavellism, which is currently airing. Which is the only anime in the six months we’ve aired—[catches self] we’ve “aired”?—in the six months since we’ve launched, it’s the only anime that I’ve watched and then come back to the group and said, “You guys, this is super offensive.”
And “offensive” is not a word I throw around very much; it’s not a word I use lightly. Armed Girl’s Machiavellism: absolutely offensive. It’s appalling. And I don’t—because it’s baked into the premise, there’s absolutely no way it can possibly improve. And that was my answer for this question before I remembered the existence of Super Lovers.
VRAI: [enraged groans]
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, I thought you’d go with Super Lovers. [chuckles]
AMELIA: Okay. Anyone want to add to that? Or…?
VRAI: [crosstalk] Nope!
PETER: [crosstalk] Everybody nice and angry? [laughs]
DEE: Yeah, I don’t think I… Again, I watch a lot of… I watch all the premieres, so I definitely have seen a lot of bad stuff, but I—
DEE: I’ve seen so much of it that I kinda just wipe it from my memory?
DEE: And in the last six months, I don’t think there’s really been anything that has…
VRAI: [crosstalk] Eromanga-sensei?
DEE: Anything that has stuck with me, that I’m like, “That is completely irredeemable; awful; I can’t even get through 15 minutes of it,” kind of thing. There’s been… again, there’s been some bad stuff, but nothing that really jumps out at me. [pause] I had an answer for this, Amelia.
AMELIA: Go on.
DEE: But it was my entire life of watching anime and reading manga, not specifically the last six months. So, yeah, no, I think you guys have covered the big ones. They just… I tend to just try to purge those from my brain as quickly as possible, so they don’t necessarily stick with me.
AMELIA: Okay. Final question is from Senpai Notes—@senpainotes on Twitter: “What other shows do you most look forward to writing on, whether it’s a current or upcoming show or a classic?” We’ve been discussing classics this entire time. Which ones do you guys wanna write about most?
DEE: So, I’ve got a few. Most of them are like old shoujo or… God, I just, I love Chinese-inspired—or, I guess East Asian-inspired—fantasy series and I really haven’t had a chance to write about them. I’m rewatching Story of Saiunkoku right now, and I would love an excuse to talk about that show. Several times, if possible.
I have not rewatched The Twelve Kingdoms, ever. I saw it once, like 10 years ago, and I really wanna get back to it.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, that’s happening.
DEE: So I’d love to rewatch that, and then I’m sure there will be things in there that I can talk about. And then… God help me, I wanna talk about Fushig Yugi. [crosstalk] With y’all.
DEE: That might be more podcast than writing, but I think that would be a really fun experience as a show that’s very near and dear to my heart, even though it’s just riddled with problems, and I know that about it. So trying to balance those two—that emotional versus that more analytical side—would be interesting, for sure.
VRAI: There are things that will probably end up on the site. There’s a piece on Higurashi that I’ve kind of had on the backburner forever and will eventually write about, honest, I swear. There are ones that will probably never make it on there, like, “Hey, who wants to hear about my feelings about how frustrating the portrayal of gender is in Gundam 00?” The answer is nobody. Nobody would be—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] The answer is Lauren Orsini. What are you talking about?
DEE: Yeah, Lauren—I’m sure Lauren would be down for that.
VRAI: [laughs] As far as upcoming shows, I’ve really got my fingers crossed for Netsuzou Trap for the summer season. Because the premise seems to be “the set-up to School Days, but gay.” And I’m very curious to see if that is a trainwreck.
PETER: So it’s basically like: “what specific shows are we looking forward to writing about?”
PETER: Ooo, uhh… I don’t know of any classics that I wanna look back on and write, but I do know two shows that I’m very much looking forward to that I’m pretty sure are gonna be in my writing wheelhouse. The first is Ancient Magus Bride, which is…
DEE: Oh, yeah.
PETER: Which I am so looking forward to! It’s like… I don’t know if anybody… there’s probably a lot of people who—
DEE: [crosstalk] It’s great.
PETER: It’s like Natsume’s Book of Friends meets Harry Potter. It’s awesome. It’s so good. I have to force myself not to read it too fast because I don’t want the experience to end. That’s how good this frickin’ manga is.
PETER: And it’s very cerebra. It’s got a lot of magic in it, and a lot of heartfelt connections that people form with others, and the interactions between the real world and magic, and it’s just super, super good.
And then, I don’t know—the release date for this is still to be announced, but Violet Evergarden, which I think is like the only grand prize winner of the Kyoto Animation Awards?, for its light novel. Which basically means it automatically gets fast-tracked to being an anime. It seems like it’s out of their wheelhouse a little bit, but I don’t think they’ve ever released a bad anime. So…
DEE: [crosstalk] Which studio? Sorry.
DEE: Oh, okay.
PETER: [crosstalk] And they do—
VRAI: [crosstalk] What are your definitions of “bad”?
VRAI: That’s a discussion for another day.
PETER: I’m actually, I’m thinking back about the different things they’ve made so far. Actually they did like all those tedious like, Clannad, Air, kind of things. Maybe I’ll just ignore that half of their production and maintain my statement.
PETER: Or I’ll scrub it from the record. [laughs] But Violet Evergarden looks super good. I’ve read a bit about the premise and it seems really amazing. I don’t know if there’s some problematic elements seeded in there that have yet to reveal themselves, but I’m pretty excited about that one as well. So those are the two series I’m really looking forward to—not only watching, but probably writing a lot about.
AMELIA: I don’t ever read information about upcoming shows. I try to go into premieres really cold and know as little as possible, so that I’m not biased towards—
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, I kinda do that, too.
AMELIA: I mean, obviously everyone has bias, but if I’d read about Seven Mortal Sins before watching it, [chuckles] I think I would have gone in with a certain mentality. I think it just enables me to at least come in with a more positive mindset. So I have no idea about upcoming shows. I guess when Re:Zero’s potential season two airs it will be so good to this time have a feminist space to talk about it.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh yeah.
AMELIA: So that would—I mean, that would be amazing. I mean—
PETER: [crosstalk] Watchalong!
AMELIA: Somewhere that isn’t just my DMs on Twitter with Peter.
AMELIA: We had some really great conversations there that nobody will ever read because you can’t search for stuff on Twitter.
For me, I think I’d really like to talk about race more. I am mixed-race. It’s not something I’ve had too many spaces to talk about, ever? It’ll be really nice to look at more anime featuring brown people—’cause I’m not Black, and we’ve tried to kind of signal boost more Black fans who write about anime—and that’s not my experience. There’s some overlap, but it’s not the same.
At the same time, I don’t have the kind of cultural identity of somebody who is completely from another country, so… You know, my mother is an immigrant, so her identity’s been shaped by that. But I grew up in England and I just happened to be brown. So it would be really nice to look at characters who are brown.
I know it sounds really simplistic. But, for example, Planetes has some really great depictions of characters of color and also some problematic elements, which would be great to talk about. Michiko and Hatchin, I’m so looking forward to watching. I haven’t yet, I would really like to. When I do, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say on the racial side of things.
VRAI: I would love to hear about that, ‘cause I…
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah, me too.
AMELIA: I would really love to talk about it once I’ve seen it. Which I absolutely will some day. [chuckles]
The other thing is, I’d really like to talk more about shounen anime. And it’s something that we’ve deliberately not done because we have a lot of readers, and we wanted to cultivate a particular audience as well. We wanted to cultivate an audience who like shoujo and josei as well as shounen and seinen.
And I think there’s a risk when you start an anime site, it can kind of pigeonhole itself into appealing only to the demographics that enjoy shounen and seinen and don’t really have much time for shoujo and josei. And obviously that would have been completely contradictory to what we’re trying to achieve here. So we’ve deliberately not looked too much at shounen anime. But Naruto has been a huge influence on my life—probably more than any other anime, I think. And my—
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, me too.
AMELIA: —Yeah, and My Hero Academia is doing some amazing work right now and I really would like to look at that. So hopefully once we’ve spent a bit more time looking at—like, manga is a big concern of ours, so we really need to divide our time between manga and anime; but we also need to divide our time as evenly as possible between works that are specifically targeted at women and works that are more specifically targeted at men.
Regardless of what the consumer response is, the demographic targeting is quite prominent in Japan, I think. So we need to make sure that we’re kind of distributing that as evenly as possible. So when we do have more slots open up to talk about the more male-targeted anime, I would love to look at some of these shounen shows.
So that’s, ah… That’s all our questions answered for today. Thank you so much to all of our Twitter followers who submitted questions. We will definitely be doing this again, because it has been so much fun. Even over two podcasts, I think it’s been really great to just discuss these things.
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