2018 Spring Premiere Digest

By: Anime Feminist April 14, 20180 Comments
A girl with horse ears and a tail, wearing green sweats and carrying a red pennant with the number "2" on it, grabs the hand of another horse-girl wearing pink sweats and holding a pennant with the number "1" on it. The two appear to be running forward together; both look happy.

Another season is upon us, which means a new parade of premieres to watch and review! Now that we’ve gone through every available show, it’s time to gather them all together and see how they stack up.

Which shows do you review? 

We don’t review shows that are direct sequels, shorts, or for young children. Anything not licensed and/or immediately available (‘sup, Netflix) is off the table as well. This left us with 30 eligible premieres in about 13 days.

A fat gray cat launches himself at a blonde teen boy in a school uniform, while a dark-haired teen boy in a cafe apron stands behind them, taking a photo on his smartphone.
Premiere week pouncing on the staff.

How do you write the reviews?

AniFem staffers CaitlinDee, and Vrai divvied up the long list of titles to tackle. We don’t always like or dislike the same shows, or to the same extent, but we respect and support one another’s positions and critiques.

Once we have more funding, we aim to set up our own version of ANN’s Preview Guide, to give our readers a range of explicitly feminist views for each premiere. We’re a long way off that funding goal, but it’s been a personal wish of ours since launch and we hope to make it happen someday.

A girl and a boy in fantasy clothing look up at a red "X" pinned to the top of a pole.
“X” marks the spot for hidden gems of new series!

What do your reviews focus on? 

This varies by writer to some extent (some of us are more focused on visuals, others on narrative, and so forth), but as a feminist site it’s of course essential that we raise any issues of feminist interest. When you read an AniFem review, you’re likely to learn about female character designs, queer representation, analogies to real-world marginalization, and so on. If you think we missed something, please comment under the review and let us know!

Kokoro the Yakuza giving a thumbs up and smiling
And give your faves some love in the comments, too!

Why do you categorize them?

The purpose of these reviews is to give you, our readers, enough information so you can decide for yourselves whether or not to watch a show. There’s greater access to anime than ever before, and we want to help you find anime you can truly love, without wasting your time on a show which contains an automatic deal-breaker, be that fanservice, homophobia, the sexualization of children, and so on.

Individuals can find value in the unlikeliest of places, and we will never lead a boycott of a particular show, but we want to make it easier for you to get the most out of your limited time. In our digest, feminist merit takes precedence, with overall narrative quality coming second and personal preference a distant(ish) third.

Shows containing feminist themes are at the highest end and those containing anti-feminist themes are at the lowest. We expect some disagreement and welcome debate, so if you have any objections to our lists then by all means let us know in the comments!

A young man wearing glasses and a yukata kneels in front of a chalk signboard in front of a traditional Japanese wooden building. The man is smiling at a chubby orange cat wearing a red ribbon around its neck, who looks pleased.
What’s on your menu this season?

The following titles are organized by categories, then alphabetically. Note that, because of the way premiere dates are staggered, we’ve had the chance to watch multiple episodes of some series. To give you a fuller picture of how much information we were working with when creating these rankings, we’ve marked how many episodes of each show we’ve seen.

Feminist themes

  • Golden Kamuy (Episode 1): A historical fiction about a Russo-Japanese War veteran and a young Ainu woman; the Ainu culture is reportedly well-researched and respectful in the manga source material.
  • Libra of Nil Admirari (Episode 1): An otome VN adaptation about a female protagonist trying to take control of her life; the male suitors are thus far bland but respectful.
  • Wotakoi: Love is Hard for an Otaku (Episode 1): Lady-led romantic comedy about working adults that depicts the gap between how male and female otaku are perceived by society and the pressures placed on women to appear “normal”; other than a few off-putting boob comments, the series treats its female characters well.

Feminist potential

  • MAJOR 2nd (Episode 1): Young male protagonist dealing with expectations and entitlement; supporting female cast features talented athletes with their own goals and motives.
  • MEGALOBOX (Episodes 1-2): Protagonist is an undocumented citizen fighting his way to the top in the boxing ring.
  • PERSONA5 the Animation (Episode 1): A story of rebellion against institutional oppression featuring a young man who was punished for defending a woman against her assaulter. (Fair warning: The original game has serious issues regarding female and queer representation, but we don’t want to punish the anime for something it may not include.)

Harmless fun

  • GeGeGe no Kitaro (Episode 1): Kid-friendly ghost story starring a courageous but clumsy female protagonist.
  • Gundam Build Divers (Episode 1): Energetic series about Gunpla; features a flamboyant adult calling themself “onee-san” who’s treated with respect; skilled female characters take a backseat to the male leads.
  • Gurazeni: Money Pitch (Episode 1): Down-to-earth sports series focused on financial concerns and retirement plans; the few female characters look to primarily serve as support for the men.
  • HINAMATSURI (Episode 1-2): Surprisingly sweet and silly found-family story about a girl with superpowers and her yakuza caretaker; there is some nudity of teen girls, but they’re shown from a distance and not sexualized.
  • Last Period (Episode 1): Absurd comedy with a range of fun, proactive female characters; some dumb fanservicey costumes and light boob jiggle.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (Episode 1): A political space drama starring a mostly male cast; no female characters have had speaking roles so far (but, based on the source material, they will in the future).
  • Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (Episode 1): Stars an action-oriented female protagonist, but the premiere doesn’t reveal much about the actual story or characters; your reaction may depend entirely on how you feel about pink.
  • Yotsuiro Biyori (Episode 1): Relaxing series about attractive men running a Japanese teahouse; premiere stars a young female customer focused on her career.

It’s… complicated

  • Kakuriyo -Bed and Breakfast for Spirits- (Episodes 1-2): Has the potential to break away from similar supernatural kidnapping-turned-romance stories thanks to an adult female protagonist who does her best to take charge of her situation.
  • Magical Girl Ore (Episodes 1-2): Features likable queer characters as part of its love triangle (quadrangle?), but sometimes sags into lazy, mean, or gender essentialist jokes around its body-switching gimmick.
  • Tada Never Falls in Love (Episodes 1-2): There’s an undercurrent about cross-cultural communication and the title suggests it may subvert rom-com norms (and feature an aromantic lead?)… but in Episode 2, one of the boys ogles the girls’ chests and another makes unwelcome advances.

Yellow flags

  • Butlers x Battlers (Episode 1): Dull and humorless; seems to think all its female characters are stupid and/or shallow (the one exception is an absent damsel).
  • Caligula (Episode 1): A male genius hero tells his classmates, “Wake up, sheeple!”
  • Cute High Earth Defense Club HAPPY KISS! (Episode 1): Tongue-in-cheek comedy about magical boys; while the camera doesn’t leer, they do spend a lot of time naked.
  • Dances with the Dragons (Episode 1): Several interesting female characters introduced, but one exists solely to be a supportive wife (and help deflect the ‘shipteasing between the two male leads); the light novel’s “dark” reputation makes future assault and victimization of women likely.
  • Fist of the Blue Sky: Regenesis (Episode 1): WWI period piece that already isn’t great in its portrayal of Shanghai and isn’t likely to get better; the two female characters are a small child and a love interest (ostensibly a gang leader, but not active in stepping up to the role).
  • LUPIN THE 3rd PART 5 (Episodes 1-2): Panty shots in Episode 1 and homophobia in Episode 2; cheesecake is characteristic of the franchise; happily, Episode 2 aggressively establishes that the seemingly underage Ami is a daughter-figure, not a love interest.
  • Real Girl (Episode 1): Has all the components of an interesting romance between two lonely people, but in the end it seems to boil down to “girls are mean and shallow.”
  • Umamusume: Pretty Derby (Episodes 1-3): Contains a tasteless groping “joke” in the premiere and an awkward game of Twister in Episode 2; past that, the series is free of fanservice and mostly focuses on the developing friendships and career goals of its female cast.

Red flags

  • Comic Girls (Episode 1): Cute girls doing cute things has relatable depictions of anxiety, but also groping, probably queerbaiting, and an underage girl pressured into drawing erotica.
  • Cutie Honey Universe (Episode 1): Fanservice of its teenage heroine; features a predatory lesbian villain; lots of jokes using queerness or assault as a punchline.
  • Devils’ Line (Episode 1): Had the potential to use vampires as a metaphor for Nice Guys being unseen predators, but instead opts for victim-blaming rhetoric and assault as titillation.

Pit of shame

  • Magical Girl Site (Episode 1): Its young female lead is physically and emotionally tortured, assaulted, and nearly raped in excruciating detail—and becoming a magical girl seems set to only make her more miserable.

Anime was a mistake

  • Doreiku the Animation (Episode 1): Features forced enslavement, misogyny, nudity, sexual assault, and mind control; also tries to pull a “who is the real monster” in a plot about a woman getting revenge on her rapist.

EDIT: This post was updated on 4/17/2018 to include Wotakoi: Love is Hard for an Otaku.

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