Vrai, Chiaki, and Peter look back on the spring 2019 season!
Date Recorded: 6th July 2019
Hosts: Vrai, Chiaki, Peter
0:02:18 We Never Learn :BOKUBEN
0:03:55 The Helpful Fox Senko-san
0:06:32 YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of This World
0:08:43 Wise Man’s Grandchild
0:13:21 NAMUAMIDABUTSU! -UTENA-
0:16:55 Midnight Occult Civil Servants
0:20:40 Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu
0:34:48 Fruits Basket
0:40:12 Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
0:44:57 Fairy Gone
0:47:04 Black Clover
0:49:50 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
0:51:40 Rising of the Shield Hero
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. My name is Vrai. I’m an editor and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can find me on Twitter, @writervrai, where I post all the things I do as a freelancer around the internet, or you can find the other podcast I cohost, @trashpod. With me today to look back on the Spring 2019 season are Chiaki and Peter.
CHIAKI: Hi, I’m Chiaki Hirai, and my day job is covering Japanese-American news in San Francisco, in California. Aside from that, I guess, I’m an editor for Anime Feminist. And you can find me @chiaki747. It’s a locked account, but feel free to send me a DM requesting access.
PETER: And I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an associate producer at Crunchyroll, and a contributor and editor at Anime Feminist.
VRAI: All right. Now, normally Dee kind of default ends up leading these season podcasts, but she is on a well-deserved vacation, so I’m filling in for her. And that means this is gonna be kind of a weird one, because life kicked me square in the teeth and I dropped almost everything I was watching from Spring, so this is gonna be a lot of me asking you two how it went, and nodding.
PETER: I’ll just have to imagine you nodding as I’m talking.
VRAI: The nodding is heavily implied.
PETER: All right. Okay.
VRAI: Now, both of you have been watching… We’ve taken to, in our more recent episodes, just for the sake of saving time, kind of skipping over the lowest-tier shows. The “Red Flags” and “Anime Was a Mistake”s on our premiere guide. But you two have watched both of them, so I’m gonna go ahead and give you a couple minutes to let me know if there was anything monumental that changed over the rest of the shows. You have ten minutes.
Let’s start with BOKUBEN: We Never Learn.
PETER: I feel—and correct me if I’m wrong—but I don’t really think it did anything egregious beyond the stuff that it did in the first half of the season. So, I just have to say… more of the same.
CHIAKI: I feel like the beginning was a little stronger, especially with it keeping everything to Yuiga’s classmates. Now that we’ve entered the second half, they kind of started also saying, “But what about these older people, like your teacher?” And I feel… I feel it was better when it was focused on the two girls who were actually his classmates.
PETER: Oh, yeah. There’s a college girl who’s introduced, and I don’t think they’ve established that his teacher really likes him, but he’s gotten into questionable situations with her.
PETER: But, you know, everybody falls in love with the main character, so I assume that becomes a plot point sooner or later.
VRAI: And it just kinda stopped, didn’t it?
PETER: Yeah, the last episode just felt like a normal episode of BOKUBEN, and then I guess that was the last episode, because that’s what Wikipedia said was the last episode of the series. But, they announced a season two, which I think is happening Fall, or… next year? I don’t remember. Season two is definitely next.
CHIAKI: Not too far off.
PETER: Yeah, I don’t know anything…
VRAI: All right. Now, because… God, I can’t not pay respect to this incredibly ill-advised thing you did, Chiaki. You binged all of Senko-san.
CHIAKI: Because I felt this was something I should do, just so that…
PETER: [laughing] My major contribution.
CHIAKI: I feel like I’ve contributed.
Um, yeah. No, it’s… It’s more of the same. Exactly what you reported in your episode one review. It’s essentially just an overworked guy who comes home and relaxes with a fox girl. Overall, I feel like it’s wholesome, but it keeps playing the “But she’s 800 years old so it’s okay” card. To the 9th episode, 10th episode, they’re still saying, “But she’s 800 years old.” Like, we get it.
PETER: They have to keep reminding you, ’cause she looks like she’s eight to twelve, right?
CHIAKI: Yeah. Yeah. Even the older-looking fox that shows up, the big-boobed one, who’s literally spilling out of her kimono, is a tiny little thing. And I’m like, “Goddammit. Why couldn’t you just be tall? You could have been the one refreshing character.” No. They’re also a child. With boobs.
VRAI: No, no. They’re really 800.
CHIAKI: But they’re all 800. Yeah. Or something.
VRAI: I was following the watch thread you did for that series, and it’s just…
CHIAKI: [cracking up]
VRAI: I die. When a show so clearly knows that what it’s doing is repugnant, but it’s looking you dead in the eye and saying, “No it’s not. It’s fine.”
PETER: I can’t imagine being high and sitting through those post-credit segments where it’s first-person perspective and Senko is talking to you directly.
CHIAKI: Oh, yeah! Yeah, no. I was just like, “Okay, well, I’m too relaxed for this.” My regular job kicks me in the ass, so there was that element where I’m like, “Man, this guy is me. And I would appreciate somebody cooking and making sure I feel okay when I get home.” But at the same time, I don’t want a child doing that.
VRAI: Right, yeah.
VRAI: It’s like a show that so easily could have been wholesome, except that it’s gross. That was definitely the feel I had the first episode.
CHIAKI: And never loses that.
VRAI: Cool! “F,” as the kids say.
All right, how about YU-NO?
PETER: What hasn’t YU-NO done?
CHIAKI: Uh, yeah. I mean, suicide.
PETER: Lots of suicide themes, sexual assault. Uh… Lots of problematic relationships with him and older women. There’s sex.
CHIAKI: Oh, also just how graphic it all is.
PETER: Yeah. It’s definitely a show where it’s just all the drama is women suffering and the main character has to save them from the suffering, and also sexualize them.
PETER: That’s the show. Yeah. And time travel, I guess.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I… It kind of sprung the whole… I will say that the whole crux of the story, they revealed in episode eleven or twelve… One episode before it finishes up the season. This cour. And I felt like, “Wow, you just gave away the entire plot, and then you erased your protagonist’s memory.”
VRAI: That’s really cheap.
CHIAKI: Yeah, and I’m like, “Okay, so now I’m gonna know exactly what’s going on. Am I really gonna be watching this for another 13 episodes? Because I really don’t know if I am.”
PETER: Yeah, it looks like it’s 24, now. I can’t imagine… We’ll see how this next season goes, if I have enough spare time to go with it. Otherwise, I might just go, “Okay. That was a cour.”
VRAI: “I did my duty. It’s fine. There are new shows.”
CHIAKI: [crosstalk] I might keep going.
PETER: If it restarts from zero, that’s just like, “Oh, God. The whole plot over again, huh?”
PETER: That is very, uh… What do you call it? Visual novel-y, though.
CHIAKI: Mm, true.
VRAI: Yeah, it sounds like the author of Higurashi was influenced by this and then did it in a way that wasn’t extremely excruciating. I don’t actually know that for sure. That is just the impression I get being familiar with his works and hearing about this secondhand.
PETER: Somehow, I watched this but not Higurashi, so I’ll take your word for it.
VRAI: All right. Cool story, bro. And sis.
All right, let’s move on to… I think Wise Man’s Grandchild is actually the bottom of the “Yellow Flags” category, so… Both of you watched that. How did it wrap up?
PETER: Surprisingly wholesome. The show, it looked like it was gonna be a harem isekai and it never went there. There’s a plot point where the other main character always had a romantic interest. They’ve decided to start going out. He asked to marry her. They talked to her parents… No, they wanna date, and her parents say, “No, you gotta marry her,” and he went, “That sounds good.”
CHIAKI: “All right.”
PETER: Then they talk to his parents, and… Yeah, they’re kind of an official couple. Some of the female character designs were pretty, uh…
PETER: Bodacious. Yeah. And I think they had a hot springs scene where the women got really grabby with each other in the second half of the series, but overall, it’s…
PETER: Yeah, that was the worst it ever got. None of the female characters really seemed interested in the main character, except for the one who was his canon love interest. So, it was a lot simpler in that way.
CHIAKI: But I will note, yeah, definitely, the camera focusing on the boobs, the, you know, especially the boobs, just became really apparent once the rest of the cast was kind of introduced and they start doing things.
PETER: Yeah. I won’t say… It wasn’t fanservice-y situations, but the camera was very male gaze-y. Except for the hot springs. That was definitely fanservice.
CHIAKI: But back at the mid-season check-in, I was complaining about how the rest of the cast really had no showtime whatsoever. So I guess this is like the monkey paw wish, where they start immediately after I said that to have more roles and have more action, and more development in the story—which I was really happy for—but it came with the male gaze-y camera.
VRAI: Oh no. The struggle is real.
PETER: You can’t have something good without also getting something bad.
VRAI: [cracking up] Because it’s anime.
VRAI: So, with the low, low bar that isekai has set, this one is not too bad if people are looking for something in the genre?
PETER: As far as isekai go, yeah, pretty clean.
PETER: As clean as you usually get with isekai.
CHIAKI: I wouldn’t feel anything wrong with the villain’s motivations or anything, right? I’m not missing anything there?
PETER: No, just seems like evil Victorian politics shenanigans, and he wanted to “The Count of Monte Cristo” everybody, so…
PETER: Yeah. Kind of more developed than you usually get from a villain in isekai as well. Usually it’s just a demon lord or something. This guy definitely had a well-deserved revenge plot going.
CHIAKI: That’s true.
VRAI: Wow, I miss shoujo isekai so much.
PETER: This is as close as you’re gonna get.
VRAI: [groans] Okay! Moving up to something else depressing: ROBIHACHI. I dropped this halfway through, because as much as I loved the gay mafia, I really wasn’t here for how nasty and mean the show was being to them, particularly Yan. Peter, you finished it. How’d it go?
PETER: ROBIHACHI? No, I didn’t even start it.
VRAI: Oh my God. It was just me! It was just me and Dee!
PETER: Yeah, just you.
VRAI: So, I’m sorry listeners. I don’t think I have anything new to report that Dee didn’t already sort of touch on in her midseason. It just… Robby continued to be terrible, except that the show really wanted you to believe that he was actually one of those sort of savants who’s kind of doofy but he says the right thing and actually he’s a little bit cool. And he’s really not. He’s just kind of a womanizing sleazebag.
And the gay mafia was stupendous, but it really got a lot of mileage out of being… out of Yan’s unrequited crush and getting “lol, creepy” points out of that, and I just can’t. I’m old and I can’t deal with that. So, here’s to you, gay mafia. I wish you were in a better series.
PETER: Like “Rotten Robby.”
VRAI: Oh, God. Robby was so bad. I even liked Hachi. Literally every—the female—there was a lot of male gaze-y fanservice stuff in the background, not much worse than Space Dandy, but I just hated Robby so much. He poisoned the entire show for me.
VRAI: Yep, it was a bummer. NAMUAMIDABUTSU!
PETER: Sex and Buddhism.
CHIAKI: You mean, the other Utena show?
VRAI: [laughing] The worst.
CHIAKI: I guess I’m the only person that watched this?
VRAI: It was just you! Have a go.
CHIAKI: Oh, man. Okay. Um, it was a whole lot of nothing. I mean, as the whole… I said throughout the entire series, it’s hot boys doing things and you get to enjoy it. You started getting plot midway through and it became somewhat more action-oriented, but at the same time…
VRAI: It was mostly about…
CHIAKI: It was just… I think it’s more the pacing that’s just jarring, because you have all of this, “Oh, well we don’t actually need to do anything badass or save the Earth or anything. We’re just gonna enjoy convenience store food. Or go to the zoo.”
And, you know, once the plot picks up, you’re like, “Where did this come from? Where is this drama coming from?” And it immediately resets to humdrum, everyday slice-of-life stuff. And I’m like, “This is too much whiplash for me.”
Overall, I feel like it had a nice message to it. There are some Buddhist elements as far as being able to just let go and observe. How to be a good person versus actively trying to change things; whether you can change things in life, and when it’s just time to accept it. It does ask some okay questions as far as religion goes.
Oh, and the villain of the series… One of the villains, at least, has an okay redemption. And stuff like that. So, that was nice.
VRAI: So squarely middle-of-the road hot boys show, if people are looking for that.
CHIAKI: It looks really nice. That’s what really sold me. That’s what kept me watching.
VRAI: Those boys. They’re pretty.
CHIAKI: They are.
VRAI: All right. Next up the list is MIX. Peter, you’re the only one on this cast watching it, and you dropped it!
VRAI: We’re sorry. It was a bad season.
PETER: I just got bored of… It was kind of a baseball series. I’m not usually too into sports anime, but it kind of had a cool slice-of-life thing going on, but then all the slice-of-life stuff became, “Who’s gonna date the main character’s sister?” And everybody is basically saying to her stepbrother, “You get first dibs on her because you’re her stepbrother.”
PETER: And he keeps insisting he’s not interested, but it seemed like the show is going in the direction where they were gonna date? Apparently this is a thing that that particular author does, I have been told. So, I just… I dunno. It seemed like she had no purpose in the show except to be the eventual romantic interest of her stepbrother, and yeah.
There wasn’t enough “anything else” to keep me interested, and that was kind of a very weird dynamic that just… It wasn’t even that it was so bad that I didn’t want to watch it; it just kept coming up over and over and over again, and it was either baseball or that. There was nothing else to keep me.
VRAI: “I’m not here for pseudo-incest or baseball!”
PETER: Slice-of-life just because slice-of-pseudo-incest, so… No thank you.
VRAI: [inhales] All right. So. Midnight Occult Civil Servants. I didn’t intentionally drop this so much as it was the first casualty of my watchlist. I only made it through the first three episodes. Peter, you also dropped it. Chiaki, you finished it?
CHIAKI: [hesitantly] Yeah. Um…
CHIAKI: Yeah, you were kinda right. Not a lot goes on. I just kinda finished it because I just wanted to find out what happens. It really does end up being [that] the Occult servants don’t have any real power, for the most part.
PETER: Oh, they kept doing that? They never resolve a single thing? [laughs]
CHIAKI: Yeah. They even pat themselves on the back, like, “Hell yeah!”
PETER: “Good job today, running into Pandora and then just being fucking existentially terrified and running away.”
CHIAKI: Yeah, like, “Goddamn, yeah! We’ve saved your sister.” And it’s like, “Actually, you did jack. Your sister was just returned to you. They just handed your sister back after the demon was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t need your sister, actually. Here you go.'”
Actually, the demon didn’t even acknowledge that they wanted the sister back. He was just like, “Oh, well, that’s screwed up. All right. I don’t need you.”
PETER: He used her for an experiment, the experiment failed, and then he just… He’s like, “Well, I don’t need her anymore. You can take her back.”
PETER: “Wow, we saved her!”
CHIAKI: Yeah, and they’re like, “Yeah!”
CHIAKI: The final arc of the story introduces other… sort of an antagonist civil servant team who’s actively like, “I’m gonna actually ghostbust these ghosts.”
VRAI: [chuckles] Okay.
CHIAKI: And he’s really extra in terms of wanting to kill every single supernatural being that comes by his way. Arata, being able to speak to them, kind of has more of an emotional investment and tries to say, “No, maybe we don’t need to kill everything we see.” And everyone teams up and has a heartfelt moment and the day is saved. Great.
VRAI: Did Huehuecoyotl get some closure? ‘Cause I just want them to have a good time. I care about nothing else.
CHIAKI: Uh, yeah. They and Arata were able to have a moment together. They go to a special place for the two of them. It’s kind of sweet.
VRAI: All right, that might be enough to get me to go back to this eventually.
PETER: It is… I don’t know if we mentioned this last time, but… What did they end up calling… ?
PETER: Yeah. Kind of, like, just does a lot of straight-up evil shit. The reason his sister was kidnapped was because…
CHIAKI: He basically referred…
PETER: Yeah, Kohaku engineered the whole thing so that his sister would get kidnapped, because I guess he didn’t like the fact that he was paying attention to his sister. Or something like that, right?
CHIAKI: Yeah, and he legit just gets called out for it, and he’s like, “Yeah, well, whatever. You got her back, right?”
PETER: Ah, well, at least he calls him out. [laughs] [crosstalk] “That wasn’t very cool of you to do.”
VRAI: [crosstalk] As a fan of Q, I can roll with that kind of shit.
PETER: Okay, fair enough. I’m just gonna stop right there.
VRAI: “Extremely chill, mortal, chaotic-neutral supernatural being who has the feels for them” is my shit.
PETER: All right. Well, that’s definitely what’s going on.
VRAI: Cough. All right, well, it sounds… Yeah, boy, what an incredibly “meh” series.
VRAI: That moves us out of… Well, no, we’ve been into “Harmless Fun” for a minute here. But next up on the list is one I actually finished: Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu, which I freakin’ loved.
VRAI: This was just a bucket of soothing every week.
PETER: Hell yeah.
CHIAKI: I’m glad you did.
PETER: My girl stayed strong ’til the end.
VRAI: Believe in her. It was so… It was so nice. I feel like this show has a… such a good grasp on social anxiety, and I know a lot of autistic readers have written in to say that they also really found some powerful touchstones with Bocchi. And I think the show has a really good grasp on anxiety and otherwise not being able to read social situations without making… without either being very on-the-nose about it, or making those characters the butt of a joke.
It’s just really gentle and reassuring and kind of laughing with these characters, but also really believing in them and their ability to find coping strategies. And it was just really nice and healing to watch every week, and apparently that’s just me in my old age is: I want to watch nice kids have a nice time.
PETER: So many friends. Can’t believe how many friends she made.
VRAI: [emotionally] So many friends! I believe in her.
PETER: My girl Bocchi also got a smartphone before the end.
VRAI: She did!
CHIAKI: Hell yeah.
PETER: Everything’s coming up Bocchi.
VRAI: This is definitely… I really… It didn’t quite make our rec list because it wasn’t done yet, but this is definitely one I pushed for to go on our family-friendly list that I think you could show this to a middle-schooler and it would be perfectly good and appropriate.
CHIAKI: So… I’m sorry I dropped this. So, it’s over now?
VRAI: Yeah, it’s… It’s a gag manga, so there’s other stuff. It introduces a new character near the end, that I’m sure there’s more stuff with, but the anime feels complete. It goes from the beginning to the end of their first year of school.
CHIAKI: Hmm. Okay.
VRAI: Yeah, so it’s… You could make more, but I don’t really feel the need for more. I will say the teacher… Thank God they dropped the stuff with the teacher, because that was such a weird addendum thing.
VRAI: And then she just wasn’t in there for the back half.
PETER: Yeah. They just kind of took the focus off, which is fine.
VRAI: Yeah. It was fine.
VRAI: Yeah. It was fine. It was better. So, yeah. I’d recommend putting this… If you ever had some time and wanted to unwind, it would be good on… It’s a good watch. But it’s not one of those shows where I’m like, “No. Seek it out. Finish it. Right now.”
PETER: Top-tier comedy slice-of-life.
VRAI: Just nice.
None of us are watching Cinderella Nine. None of us are watching AFTERLOST. Sarazanmai, the other show I finished.
PETER: Wow, we all finished it.
CHIAKI: What a show.
CHIAKI: Everyone on staff.
VRAI: Hell yeah. It’s an Ikuhara show. Hell yes, bury in me Sarazanmai! [laughs]
PETER: It is the only Ikuhara show I finished, so…
CHIAKI: It’s my first Ikuhara show.
VRAI: You are like little babies.
PETER: I learned a lot. Yeah.
CHIAKI: I did watch -UTENA-.
VRAI: [groans] That was the last time you get to make that joke, so I’m gonna let it go.
PETER: Yeah. After now, it is verboten.
VRAI: It is verboten. You’re banned. You’re all banned.
Okay, well, I… Actually, that’s probably good for the purposes of this podcast, ’cause, you know, I’m a big old Ikuhara geek, except I still haven’t seen Penguindrum, a.k.a. “the heterosexual one.” So, for me, this was, you know: “Inject it straight into my veins. I’m so incredibly here for this.” But, how are you two feeling, as people who don’t normally Ikuhara?
CHIAKI: It started off with… At least, in my approaching this show—and I think it’s kind of culturally understood that when you watch this show, you know who Ikuhara is, so you’re on the lookout for a lot of what people say, even if it’s your first show ever with him…
So, everyone was telling me, “Oh, you’re gonna be crying. You’re gonna see symbolism.” And I was actively looking for it. Like, going through the first watch. And there was a lot to notice. Definitely a lot of pausing. A lot of reading. A lot of examination. A lot of talking. So, it was definitely a show that made me think a lot more than what I would normally do for other kinds of anime.
VRAI: That’s cool. And did you, in fact, cry?
CHIAKI: You know I don’t cry.
VRAI: I know. You are a woman of iron.
VRAI: Fair enough.
PETER: Yeah. Went in an unexpected direction.
CHIAKI: I’m sorry.
VRAI: Peter, why’d you finish it, though? Peter, why haven’t you finished Utena, though?
PETER: Why did I finish… ? Uh, sorry, uh…
VRAI: Sorry. Off-topic, off-topic.
PETER: I think I got 10 episodes in… And life happened to me. That was last year, or the year before.
PETER: You had a good time with this. That’s good.
PETER: It was definitely a lot of fun. It felt very breakneck all the time, ’cause I think they were really putting a lot into an 11-episode series. That is one thing I can say about it. It felt like it was going very fast, and it felt like they were probably going faster than they wanted to be going, but it never felt like they were fucking up because they couldn’t keep up with their own pace. You know what I mean?
PETER: So, in that way, I’d almost say it was kind of impressive to watch, because it was obvious that they were keeping up with something that could have easily been 12 or 13 episodes to give certain parts of the plot more breathing room. I thought, generally, the characters got good stuff. I never really got back on board with Enta.
VRAI: [flatly] Okay, I guess I have to fight you in a parking lot, now, Peter, for my son.
PETER: Yeah, no, I mean…
PETER: I totally understand liking Enta. I just didn’t. I was just like, “Uh, you’re kind of a creep, I think.” [laughs] But he did have his moment at the end.
Definitely liked Toi’s subplot. And that was fortunate for me, ’cause I think the ending really kind of focused on him. He was the surprise main character, I guess.
So, that ending, when they were playing the opening sequence thing, was really cool. Also, the scene on the boat. Yeah, those were really, really good. If that’s Ikuhara, then I need to actually catch up. Geez.
CHIAKI: I really definitely thought I liked Toi the most, out of the three.
VRAI: Toi is a good, sweet boy. And he deserves the world. And I believe in him. And they’re all my children. Yeah, I am going to try and have all my feelings as concisely as possible now.
I think Utena‘s never really going to be in danger of being unseated as Ikuhara’s magnum opus, just because he got time to explore his large cast so thoroughly and come at his themes from so many angles and they just… He’s… Every show since then has continually had a shorter and shorter running time, so he has to make them denser and denser, which, in some ways, makes them interesting in new ways, but it also kind of curtails what he can do with it.
Watching Sarazanmai, I definitely got the feeling that it is… the effort putting into practice everything he learned from making Yurikuma Arashi—which I really like. I do. I’ll go to bat for Yurikuma, but it does take about a quarter of its running time to figure out what the hell it’s doing, which turns a lot of people off. Those first two episodes are dire.
PETER: Yeah. Holy shit.
CHIAKI: Yeah, I dropped that one.
VRAI: Yeah. It’s good. It’s worth going back to, because once episode four kicks in, it’s like, “Oh, this is what it’s doing. Oh, okay. It knows what the hell it is now.” But a lot of people didn’t get that far, and I… That’s fair, because the first couple episodes are really off-putting.
Whereas Sarazanmai is kind of touching on some similar themes. Not exactly the same, but… Coming sideways at some similar ideas that Ikuhara keeps coming back to in his work. And it knows how to craft a much tighter, more streamlined narrative within the time that it’s been allotted. And it’s kind of impressive to me to watch how much he has grown and absorbed through the process, as an artist.
I just… I respect the hell out of Ikuhara. He’s not a perfect creator, but I dunno. He’s one of anime’s auteurs, who I feel like consistently challenges himself rather than…. A lot of directors who are like that get really stuck into their weird tics in a way that becomes completely alienating at a certain point in their career, and he has few enough works that it consistently feels like he’s iterating in new and interesting ways, which I love.
And I just love that this show is about… I don’t think it’ll be out by the time this podcast goes live. I wrote a big, long article about the themes in this show that I think is still in edits for Fanbyte. It’ll probably show up in the link dump once it’s actually out, but I love that this is about the commodification of desire and also the exploitation and silencing of queer male couples in non-BL anime; and about adolescence, because all Ikuhara anime are about adolescence; and about being allowed to have ugly, messy emotions. And I love that Enta is so thoroughly what I was like at that age.
And also that the show lets these kids be messy disasters without excusing them and really pushes them to grow, and I love the OT3 ending. Fight me. And I love that it’s a musical because I love musicals. And it’s… I love Reo and Mabu and the entire thematic Everything going on with that plot.
CHIAKI: I love those final musical moments.
VRAI: Oh my God! They literally become a guiding light to the future! The elder gays light the way to the future for the baby gays!
VRAI: And I died!
PETER: I’ve never seen anime called out that hard before. The scene where he’s like, “Oh, if I told you I loved you, I would explode and die.” That’s just the rules of anime, isn’t it?
VRAI: Dee made a tweet episode two when the soiya dance first premiered that was like, “Ikuhara got so mad when people started saying that Anthy and Utena are just friends when they’re so clearly not that every show since then has been him losing patience and getting less and less subtle, with both fingers raised.”
PETER: Yeah, that… You call those guys “friends”… I dunno. You got problems.
VRAI: Just bros… And then their rings are connected like engagement rings and I died. [squeals] [laughs] It’s a good show. Also—
PETER: I really wanna read that manga.
VRAI: Yeah, the prequel manga. It sounds really sweet and nice. I’ve also… I don’t normally… I’m kinda neutral on dubs. I usually… I think they’re fun, but I don’t usually seek them out unless I’m really invested in the show and I want to see it again from different actors’ perspectives. The Sarazanmai dub is super good. It’s really good.
PETER: Oh, God.
VRAI: I don’t know if there’s something going on on Funimation’s end, but at recording, I checked earlier this week, and they’ve only dubbed the first eight episodes, but the localization writing for the music is really good. The acting is incredibly on-point, especially for the kids. It’s stellar, honestly. It’s one of the best dubs I’ve heard in a while.
So, if dubs are your thing and you’re… I always get a knee-jerk, secondhand cringe reaction when music has to be translated, just because there’s so many extra considerations. It’s not the actors’ fault, it’s just… It doesn’t sound right. But they nailed it in a really impressive way.
PETER: Yeah, they just announced… Carole and Tuesday, they’re just not gonna dub over the singing at all. They’re doing the entire dub thing, and when it’s singing, it’ll just be the Japanese voice actresses, I guess.
VRAI: I feel like for a lot of shows, that’s the easier choice because it’s so hard.
VRAI: So, extra super-duper kudos that the translated songs are good, and also… Let’s say that Toi’s English voice actor sings better than the original one.
VRAI: God bless him, he can’t sing.
But, yeah. I was never not gonna love Sarazanmai, but it’s nice to report that I love it more than expected, and if you haven’t watched it, what are you doing? What are you doing?
PETER: You’ll always have the The Peggies.
VRAI: Heck yeah. Good music. Just good music all the way through.
PETER: That’s my favorite ED this year. Easily.
CHIAKI: Oh, yeah. No, I was singing that ending with my girlfriend.
Okay, well, I’m gonna go and cry in the corner now because I love this anime so much and nothing else this year will be as good as Sarazanmai was. But we have a few more things that we still need to talk about, so up the list we go to Fruits Basket.
PETER: In the last episode, one of them turned into a snake and crawled into Tohru’s clothes.
VRAI: Oh, yeah. They introduced Ayane, did they?
PETER: Twice. Yeah. Uh, I’m guessing that there is a lot of anime left. 36 episodes or something, maybe? How many cours was the first show?
VRAI: The first show was two-cour, but it also had an anime-only ending that didn’t get… I think it only got halfway through the manga. It’s been a long time.
PETER: So, if this is Fruits Basket: Brotherhood, then it could easily be three or four cour, right?
CHIAKI: I’m pegging it at four-cour.
PETER: Okay, wow. So, I’m guessing it really has to… I think it kind of hinted at where things are going, where Tohru first meets… Oh, what’s the guy’s name? The head of the family.
VRAI: Uh… Akito?
PETER: Yeah, so you’re starting to see that they have very messed-up relationships with Akito, mostly, it seems. But it’s very slice-of-life-y right now. Everybody talks about how this thing really hits deep, and I guess I’m just waiting for it to throw a punch at me? I guess.
CHIAKI: I feel like there’s… The whole foreshadowing is always there from the manga, at least. So, I think it’s pulling fairly well from the source material. At least, personally speaking. I unfortunately have not watched the original two-cour anime, so I can’t really do the comparison to this version.
VRAI: I mean, I watched the original, but I haven’t been keeping up with this one, so… As I understand, it’s… The original anime highlighted the slapstick a lot more because that’s what the director, where his talents are… God, it’s a shame that he’s a shitstick.
VRAI: Oh, yeah, he sexually harassed a voice actress and then drove her out of the industry when she turned him down. And it breaks my heart because I love Jubei-chan and Animation Runner Kuromi and also fuck that guy.
PETER: Oh no. Jubei-chan?
VRAI: Yeah, it’s a bummer.
PETER: Yeah, that sucks.
CHIAKI: Overall, I feel the tone of the entire series is okay. It’s modernized.
VRAI: Oh, yeah? Have they… ?
CHIAKI: From the slapstick. As well as… I know it’s supposed to take place in late-90s, early-2000s, supposedly…
PETER: What’s modernized?
CHIAKI: I know TVs are flatscreens, I see DVD players…
PETER: Ah, so just some of the technology around.
VRAI: So it’s been Banana Fished? It’s not like… .
PETER: [crosstalk] I didn’t know if you meant the humor… They still have the joke where they have the student council president saying, “You can’t wear girls’ clothes!” And then the cow guy drags the student council president to the bathroom to prove that his hair is naturally white. You know, that kind of stuff.
VRAI: In my heart, I should say that that joke isn’t okay, but it’s such an iconic moment.
PETER: Yeah, I hear a lot of people were waiting for that moment.
CHIAKI: I mean, I think a lot of the flaws with Ayane crawling into the shirt and all that kind of stuff… That is the leftovers from the original source.
PETER: [crosstalk] Very period.
CHIAKI: Which is unfortunate, but if you take it out, I think people are gonna be like, “Oh, they completely changed it,” as well.
PETER: I think that was one of the reasons why… God, I can’t remember anybody’s name in this show. He was angry at his brother.
PETER: He showed up that way. Yeah, Yuki. So, it was setting up that Yuki really hates his brother. Which, you know, understandable.
VRAI: Yeah… I mean, stick with it. This show always… This series has always kept me at arm’s length because it is so aggressively heterosexual in pairing everybody off, and then also its gender politics later on, but I fully bow to the fact that it deserves its label of “classic.”
PETER: Sure. I plan to keep up with it. It’s a… I find a couple things to like about every episode. So, I don’t think I’m in any danger of dropping it. And I know a lot of people who—again, I’ve said this a couple times—that are really invested in it. So I wanna watch it just for that reason.
VRAI: You keeping on with it, Chiaki, too?
CHIAKI: I don’t mind keeping watch on this, so… It takes me back.
PETER: Definitely some content warnings, but I think we already covered all that, basically.
VRAI: Yeah. If it’s gonna be that long, y’all won’t be seeing them in the season recs for a while, ’cause we don’t do that with ongoing shows. But, you know, I’m sure you can check back in here and folks will still be talking about Furuba.
PETER: Yeah, well, except when Dee and I really want to, ’cause we kind of do that anyway.
VRAI: [through laughter] Except for sometimes when the rules don’t apply.
PETER: But I just said Black Clover‘s still good, so… I win.
VRAI: You got it in there.
PETER: I got it in.
VRAI: All right. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. People seemed to sour on this, just from me watching it secondhand.
PETER: Oh, really?
CHIAKI: [sighs] Yeah… Peter, what do you think?
PETER: Well, I guess they… Yeah. I guess not in the last couple of episodes, but shortly after the halfway point, they introduced Lightning Boy, who… He’s introduced kind of molesting a woman on the side of a road, asking her to marry him. ‘Cause his thing is he wants to get married and have a kid before he gets murdered, because he doesn’t want to be a demon slayer and he’s pretty sure he’s gonna get murdered.
VRAI: Why is Miroku in this 2019 anime?
CHIAKI: He’s worse. [emphatically] He is worse!
VRAI: Oh, shit.
PETER: Yeah. At the very least, everybody hates him. Even the main character who likes everybody and always treats everybody compassionately. People look at him a certain way, where he knows that they have no respect for him and that they hate him. Even the main character looks at him like that. I can’t even remember any names today, so…
VRAI: What is this with the Mineta-fication of anime, where everyone has acknowledged that these kinds of characters are not okay, but rather than just get rid of them, we keep them in there and just have all the other characters say they’re bad, like that’s the same thing. Like, it’s such an attempt to have cake and also eat it.
PETER: You know which shounen does not have a Mineta character?
CHIAKI: I think—
VRAI: Go on, Peter. Uh-huh.
PETER: Black Clover. It’s Black Clover.
CHIAKI: [through laughter] God damn it.
PETER: Yeah. Actually, also Dr. Stone. But Black Clover as well.
CHIAKI: I’m glad.
VRAI: What were you gonna say, Chiaki?
CHIAKI: God, um… You know, I forgot. I’m sorry.
PETER: I ruined it.
CHIAKI: Just blew it. Oh! For as far as this show goes, I think it’s that character type is everyone is expected to laugh at how terrible they are, and now that it’s completely unacceptable, it’s like, “We still wanna laugh at them, so we’re gonna say they’re unacceptable and we can laugh at them.” Except they’re not. At all.
PETER: Yeah. Nobody has any respect for the character and they don’t treat them like a human, but they still get stuck with them on missions, so in that way, the character sticks around. Is that what you mean?
CHIAKI: And I feel like—you know, this is just me going off on what I wanted to see versus what I got, but, you know, the show did really well for a period as far as introducing more demons who aren’t out to murder everyone. And I was like, “Oh, cool.” If they got more spotlight on them, that would have been a much better story. But instead, they immediately say, “Oh, but they’re gonna go away now, and now you have Yellow Boy, who is going to be screaming at the top of his lungs, like that Black Clover guy until he gets better apparently.”
PETER: He never gets better. You just realize that him yelling is awesome.
VRAI: That sounds like Stockholm Syndrome, Peter.
PETER: It’s not. It’s a really good joke that you get after a while. And then it’s galaxy brain.
VRAI: [unconvinced] Okay, Peter.
CHIAKI: But yeah. He does not stop… Yellow Boy does not stop yelling, and I am still not over that. He’s… It’s just too much. And then even Boar-Head Guy, I feel, is kinda one-note, as far as, “I’m gonna kill every demon I come across.”
PETER: Everything that moves.
CHIAKI: Yeah, and I’m like, “God, can we have some normie-ass people who can kick ass?”
PETER: Yeah. Yellow Boy becomes very obsessed with his sister, too. Once he finds out that there’s a girl in that box.
VRAI: Oh, the Pokemon?
PETER: His Pokemon sister. He becomes very obsessed with Nezuko, and wants to date her even though she’s a demon, or something like that. At where I am in the manga, that’s just an ongoing thing. That’s what he yells about most of the time now.
PETER: Yeah. Yep.
VRAI: I assume this’ll be going on to a second cour?
PETER: Yeah, I think it was confirmed for a second cour. Or at least, the anime’s still going.
CHIAKI: Yeah. Haven’t watched it, but episode 14 is up.
VRAI: You’ve left this one at the door, then, Chiaki?
CHIAKI: No, I just haven’t had a chance to watch it. I was too busy watching Senko-san.
VRAI: [snickers] That is a damning indictment if I ever heard one.
VRAI: I feel like that’s all that needs to be said! Damn.
PETER: Now they’re not good. [laughs]
VRAI: Any last thoughts on that one before we leave it off?
PETER: No, I’m good.
VRAI: Okay. So, Dee was the only one watching Kono Oto Tomare!, so unfortunately we have no season-end reports on that one.
Fairy Gone was another less… It was less a decisive drop than a casualty of my watchlist and life. I made it about halfway through to about where you all were at the midseason, and just… As much as I kind of enjoyed the relationship between the two women, and was a little bit curious as to where that was going, the show just was continuing to be really clunkily-written, and the CG looked bad, and the exposition was so hamfisted and poorly woven-in, and it just got harder and harder to motivate myself to go back each week, so I kinda dropped it.
PETER: I probably said this already, but everything about it reminded me of Sirius the Jaeger, which… The more I watched, the more I felt that it was just exactly like Sirius the Jaeger. And I had a bad taste in my mouth from that anime, so I just kind of was like, “Well, maybe it’s not for me.”
PETER: Is there… But there’s nothing really problematic we can say about it?
VRAI: I have heard some rumblings of people having thoughts about, thematically, where the series went, as opposed… in the vicinity of “ends justify the means” and all that, but because I haven’t watched the back five episodes or so, I don’t really wanna comment on it. But it does seem like… I didn’t run into too many people who got to the end of Fairy Gone and were super jazzed about it, shall we say.
VRAI: And it’s gonna keep going. It’s got a second cour.
PETER: Oh geez.
VRAI: Yep. This is a show that needed two cours. Like most shows that I was just kind of middling-to-okay on, I realized it probably wasn’t gonna be gay, and then a lot of my enthusiasm kinda leeched out.
PETER: Maybe just a… Watch Sirius the Jaeger instead. [laughs] It’s 12 episodes. Has carnival vampires. Maybe the superior experience.
VRAI: Yeah. At least it’s fun and silly.
All right. Well, since this is the season end podcast, we get to do a quick stop-over with sequels and carryovers and shorts, for people who are watching any. Sadly, Dee, you are not here so we won’t be talking about Bungo Stray Dogs.
[flatly] All right, Peter. You can have two minutes. How’s Black Clover doin’?
PETER: Uh… Black Clover… The last episode was the first part… The chapter that it covers was when I started reading… I think it was a 120-chapter-stretch at midnight, and I read all of them until it was 5 AM and then I had to go to work because I could not physically stop myself. So I’m very excited about where Black Clover‘s going now.
VRAI: That’s cool.
PETER: Also it looks like maybe they’re gonna have a new OP soon, too.
VRAI: How many episodes is it into now?
PETER: 90, 91, something like that.
VRAI: Okay. So, like normal for shounen, but getting up there for people who just wanted to jump in.
PETER: Yeah. Yeah, I think… Assuming the manga… It feels like the manga might end soon. If it goes at the pace that it’s going, I imagine it would maybe cap off at 150 episodes. This is just me estimating. So, even then, it would still be one of the shorter ones.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s downright reasonable for the genre.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was more succinct than that, I think.
VRAI: No, Fullmetal Alchemist was 52 episodes, Peter, and it was great.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. There is—
CHIAKI: Well, that was after it was finished, so.
PETER: Yeah. But Black Clover‘s also great.
CHIAKI: But, you know, 90 episodes, I feel like… Peter, you sold me on this. I kinda want to give it another chance, but I stopped at episode two. That’s a lot of catch-up.
PETER: So, this is what I recommend now. If Asta is really bothering you, read the manga until you realize how good it is, and then it’s pretty easy to watch the anime.
CHIAKI: [laughs] Okay.
PETER: I watched the anime first, and then I just blazed through all the manga in less than a week. It was really, really good.
VRAI: Well, the Shonen Jump app is only two dollars. That’s real reasonable.
PETER: Yeah. It’s one of the greatest deals in I’d say any written medium, much less comics.
PETER: So, yeah. We are not… We don’t have any sort of partnership with the Shonen Jump app. Unfortunately not there yet.
VRAI: You just think it’s neat.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m just saying, this isn’t a sponsored ad or anything. We just really like… Or, I like the Shonen Jump app. So, it’s a good app.
Anyway. Yeah, Black Clover‘s good. Watch Black Clover.
VRAI: All right. How ’bout them there JoJo’s?
PETER: I think it’s nearing the end. There’s only one or two episodes left. They did a body swap, which they’re having a lot of fun with, ’cause… what’s her name? Trish? Trish switched bodies with the grossest guy. The gun dude. And, you know, they did all the usual body swap hijinks that you imagine they’d do. But they had a cameo and, besides that, it’s pretty interesting. I don’t know what the hell’s happening anymore, but I guess that’s peak JoJo, so…
VRAI: As somebody who has resisted starting JoJo for the memes at this point, because it’s funnier that I haven’t watched it, that pretty much seems like the case.
PETER: I’d say the one people really don’t make a big deal out of that I think is the best is Diamond is Unbreakable. I don’t know too many memes that came out of that one, but that one’s JoJo at the closest it could possibly be to Twin Peaks.
VRAI: I don’t like Twin Peaks, but I do like all the things that spun off from and were inspired by Twin Peaks, so fair play.
PETER: You would like Diamond is Unbreakable.
VRAI: Fair play. That’s the best argument I’ve heard so far. All right. Good job, JoJo. You keep being what you are. It’s good that JoJo exists, honestly. It kinda makes me happy to see it out there.
VRAI: Being good.
PETER: I really… I like the fandom, generally. They are very loud sometimes, but they’re also very cool.
CHIAKI: I mean, their costumes are loud. Everything about that show is loud.
VRAI: I mean, listen. For me, for the past couple months, self-care has been sinking back into Good Omens like I’m 15 all over again, so… I have no judgement for the JoJo’s.
PETER: Oh damn. I need to watch that.
VRAI: Hell yes you do. Oh my God! Okay, this is not… No. We can’t go down that road. I’ll lose all my feelings again.
PETER: This is an anime podcast.
VRAI: All right. So, one more time—and please make this as short as possible so that I never have to hear about this fucking anime again—Rise of the Shield Hero is finally over.
CHIAKI: It’s boring.
VRAI: Thank you.
CHIAKI: It’s boring. I’m just… You know, I watched it. I know there’s this whole drama behind how much it owns the libs or whatever, I guess, but it’s boring after the whole false rape accusations. Aside from that, it’s not a good show. And the only exciting moments are the bad moments.
VRAI: That’s… Yeah, I feel like that’s what everyone who’s had to sit through it has said is that, once you strip away the spicy controversy of “good guy slave owner Naofumi” and the false rape accusation bullshit, it’s just a really boring, badly told isekai.
CHIAKI: So I’m gonna stan my show, like Peter stans Black Clover…
VRAI: [sternly] Chiaki.
CHIAKI: Okay, I won’t.
PETER: Is it Isekai Cheat Magician? ‘Cause I’m actually kind of excited about that one. The PV… It’s a guy and a girl, both go back together, and they say, “Let’s fight together,” and then they bump fists, and I’m just like, “Oh, hell yeah.” [laughs] “You got me. Damn.”
VRAI: I respect that your horny id isekai show is better than this one.
CHIAKI: Yeah. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord is better than Rise of the Slave Owner. I’m sorry.
VRAI: Fair enough. All right. Let’s never talk about it again.
CHIAKI: Moving on!
VRAI: Bakumatsu. This was the sequel series to the one you were watching?
CHIAKI: To the original Bakumatsu. Yeah. It’s… It’s done. The story is finished off, everything is back to normal, everyone’s saved. Huzzah. I personally liked the first season more, because it was a little bit more historically… It had more historical events and character development.
The second season definitely realized that that wasn’t really sustainable. Which is fair, because the first season was kind of boring by comparison. And the second season amped up the more slice-of-life, character development… A lot of the other characters got more speaking opportunities and action opportunities, but at the same time, it kind of became a chaotic mess.
CHIAKI: And the motivations for all the characters were all over the place. It just… Everything kind of falls into place in the most forced way possible. It definitely ended because they needed to end it rather than…
VRAI: Than it was… yeah.
VRAI: Hmm. That’s… ‘Cause normally you see shows… It’s fairly common to see shows go from character to plot-driven, if they continue into subsequent seasons, but the other way around seems… Yeah, like you said, messy.
CHIAKI: It was funny, but definitely the new tone was kind of like, “Okay, are you guys gonna do anything?” And then when it does happen. It’s just like, “Oh, wait, wait. There’s plot now? Wait. Oh, it’s ending? Oh. All right.”
VRAI: Oh, I’ve had that experience. Mm. That’s… I’m glad it was a fun time overall?
CHIAKI: Uh, yeah. And, I mean, it just turns out to be mostly men having grand old times all the way through. There’s literally only two girls in the second season, I think, that have any speaking lines whatsoever for the most part. And they are, unfortunately, the pwecious ninjas, so…
VRAI: [disappointedly] Ah. Alas.
VRAI: That’s too bad, but I’m glad that it was worth sitting through anyway, huh?
CHIAKI: I got through it, yeah.
VRAI: [snorts] Fair enough.
All right, that brings us to the last one on our list, which is Dororo. I fully—and here’s the thing, listeners—I fully intended to… ‘Cause I got a little bit behind. But I fully intended to catch up and be finished. ‘Cause I, you know, I finished the first cour, and I really enjoyed it despite some of its drawbacks.
But then the last episode aired literally the day that I was planning to go back and binge the last seven, eight episodes that I was behind on. And I found out that the last episode ends with a timeskip to Dororo when he’s older, and all of a sudden, he’s taken on pretty feminine, conventional presentation, and that’s my automatic “fuck you” insta-drop button, so… I didn’t. Sorry. Peter, you finished it, though?
PETER: Uhhh, not quite. I think I’m about where you were. I watch the series in batches, partially ’cause I just do it when I can and also because I’m using somebody else’s login, to be honest.
VRAI: Gotcha. Legit, ’cause fuck Amazon.
PETER: Yeah. I should have updated it to say that I wasn’t up-to-date. But I intend to finish it.
VRAI: Yeah, I feel like there were a lot of interesting things that it was doing, and we have an article that we’re working on for the site right now where one of our contributors is talking about its portrayal of disability, which is, you know… fraught.
PETER: Was that a near-Freudian slip right there? An arti-kill?
VRAI: [laughs] Uh, no?
PETER: All right.
PETER: I believe you.
VRAI: Yeah. But I just… I can’t. I can’t go back to the show knowing that it kinda ends on that little “fuck you” of a button. That’s… I can’t.
PETER: Yeah, for sure.
VRAI: So, yeah. It’s kind of an anti-climax to end the podcast on. Sorry, listeners. But the summer season is looking really… No, yeah. Summer. Oh my God. What is time?
PETER: Summer season. Yeah, we’re officially in summer now.
VRAI: We’re in summer now, and it’s looking pretty good.
PETER: Yeah. I’m excited. Mari Okada anime.
VRAI: Heck yeah. Mari Okada anime. And magical girls and giant robots. And a shounen anime that I’m actually willing to watch more than one episode of.
PETER: Yeah. Oh, did you watch Granbelm? Shit’s wild.
VRAI: I did. Shit’s wild. I’m here for it. Uh, but yeah, that’s for a future podcast down the line. Maybe I’ll have watched more shows on that one.
PETER: Get excited.
VRAI: Well, thank you for joining us on this episode. I can’t believe we made it in under an hour on a season retrospective podcast. Go us.
CHIAKI: It was a dire season, though.
VRAI: It was. It was really… It was the season of Sarazanmai, and I guess some other things aired, also.
CHIAKI: I mean, Fruits Basket.
VRAI: That’s fair. And Fruits Basket. And Hitoribocchi. End of list.
PETER: Yep. The three.
CHIAKI: No other anime were shown this season.
VRAI: Some nice boys and nice girls had a good time. The end.
All right, well, thank you for joining us on this weird rollercoaster of a season retrospective podcast, listeners. If you liked what you heard, you can find more of our podcast by searching for “Anime Feminist” on SoundCloud, or if you want to find more of our stuff in print, you can go to www.animefeminist.com.
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Thanks so much for joining us, and until next time, let’s hope the next season is a better one. [laughs]