Another season of premieres watched and reviewed! Now that we’ve gone through every premiere, it’s time to line ’em up next to each other and see how they compare.
Which shows do you review?
We don’t review shows that are sequels, shorts, or for young children. Anything not licensed and immediately available is off the table as well (lookin’ at you, Netflix titles). This left 26 eligible premieres in 22 days.
How do you write the reviews?
This time Vrai tackled the majority of the premiere reviews (like a rock star) with assistance from Dee and Amelia. 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.
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!
Why rank them?
As always, the purpose of these reviews is simply to give our readers more information so that you can decide for yourselves whether or not to watch a show. There is 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 rankings, 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 the order of this list then by all means let us know in the comments!
PREMIERE EARLY RANKINGS
Normally our rankings only consider the first episode of each show, but since premiere “week” stretched out to three weeks (thanks, The Reflection), we’ve continued to watch several (though not all) of these shows and had the opportunity to see if they improved or stumbled over a 2-3 episode span. In the interest of keeping our readers as informed as possible, while our reviews only provide in-depth information on the first episode, we WILL be considering later episodes in our rankings this time around. So if you see a show with a positive premiere review surprisingly low on the list (oh hey there, Welcome to the Ballroom), that’s likely why.
1. Princess Principal : (2 episodes) Focuses on relationships between women; female characters are clever and capable without being sexualized.
2. Made in Abyss : (3 episodes) A coming-of-age story about a well-rounded, adventurous female lead with a focus on her following in her mother’s footsteps. Loses a few points for brief (non-sexualized, but also unneeded) nudity in the second episode.
3. Action Heroine Cheer Fruits : (2 episodes) All-female leads inspired by female heroes; hard to tell if its yuri elements are sincere or a crass marketing grab at this point, but Vrai is hopeful.
4. Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun : (4 episodes) Gentle and affectionate toward its cast of weirdos; doesn’t mock or belittle the protagonist’s germaphobia. Stumbles a bit in the third episode due to a “fake assault threat” sub-plot, but the execution helps mitigate the damage.
5. 18if : (3 episodes) Weekly “witch” characters are complex and sympathetic girls often struggling against societal boundaries. Too bad their problems keep getting solved by the boy protagonist (although a girl is the one guiding him on these “rescue missions,” and he himself may not be “real,” strictly speaking? It’s unclear at this point). This one could go either way, but the potential is very much there.
6. THE REFLECTION : (1 episode) Promises to deal with themes of discrimination; features a lead female character and possibly a sympathetic female villain. Really hard to tell this early, honestly.
7. Elegant Yokai Apartment Life : (3 episodes) Mostly male cast with a friendly, talented female exorcist character and a focus on loss, healing, and found families; mild fanservice centering around an adult ghost in the second episode.
8. Restaurant to Another World : (2 episodes) There’s some fanservice featuring an adult dragon, but the focus on the father/daughter relationship between the two main characters, along with a fairly gender-equal cast (including a cool lady adventurer in the 2nd episode), helps balance it out.
9. DIVE!! : (1 episode) Mostly male cast; teen characters are drawn to appeal to viewers who like looking at abs, but the series avoids framing them in a sexual manner; might explore the protagonist’s dismissive behavior toward his girlfriend.
10. Battle Girl High School : (1 episode) Over-stuffed cast and generically staged magical girl series, but benign enough.
11. GAMERS! : (2 episodes) Gender-balanced cast of awkward, sympathetic teenage dorks (all of whom Dee would very much like to adopt); the camera does occasionally follow the protagonist’s gaze as he ogles the female lead.
12. Vatican Miracle Examiner (a.k.a. “Vatican Bros”): (3 episodes) Over-the-top, campy murder mystery; might be homoerotic; pretty dismissive of the few women around. Content warning for child abuse and assault in later episodes.
13. Altair: A Record of Battles : (1 episode) Only lady thus far is set dressing–but more to the point, why did they make their fantasy action show about WWI and their Turkish lead blonde and European-looking?
14. Knight’s & Magic : (2 episodes) Rings a few alarm bells, particularly the female characters who seem to mainly exist so they can admire the male protagonist and likely form a love triangle, but remains mostly harmless.
15. Convenience Store Boyfriends : (1 episode) Bland people blanding blandly at each other; female characters’ only real purpose is to fall in love with boys.
16. Welcome to the Ballroom : (3 episodes) Female characters with diverse personalities and body types, but they lack motivation unrelated to the male characters. There’s also a lot of fanservice and sexualized shots of the women in Episodes 2-3, along with an assault “joke” in the third episode.
17. Classroom of the Elite : (2 episodes) May decide to use its premise to explore oppressive social structures, but it’s dull, predictable, and heavy on the fanservice in its second episode.
18. Chronos Ruler : (2 episodes) The time-manipulating premise and familial focus sound great on paper, but clumsy narration, disjointed animation, and grating characters (one of whom implicitly threatens to sexually assault one of the others in Episode 2) kill the fun fast.
19. Love and Lies : (1 episode) Dull and pedestrian when it’s not totally tone deaf (it’s a show about straight couples being persecuted by their government, so… yeah).
20. In Another World with My Smartphone : (2 episodes) Despite a charming first episode, it turned to fanservice and harem stuff pretty much from the first frame of Episode 2.
21. Fastest Finger First : (2 episodes) Doesn’t just sideline but relentlessly sexualizes its main female character, particularly in the second episode; also included a transphobic “joke” in its premiere.
22. Fox Spirit Matchmaker : (1 episode) Honestly, all we can remember about this one was some bouncy kitsune boobs in the first scene and nigh-incomprehensible narrative pacing and framing.
Pit of shame
23. A Centaur’s Life : (2 episodes) Fanservice, queerbaiting, and an unironic use of the phrase “reverse discrimination.”
24. Hitorijime My Hero : (1 episode) An adult high school teacher is going to fuck his 15-year-old student.
Anime was a mistake
25. Angel’s 3Piece! : (1 episode) Sexualizes actual fifth graders.
26. My First Girlfriend is a Gal : (1 episode) Dehumanizes women, contains relentless fanservice, and features a lengthy monologue about how hot grade schoolers are.
The highs have been hit and the barrel has been scraped. Sounds like another season of anime has well and truly begun. What are you enjoying so far? Any happy surprises? Or maybe some not-so-happy ones? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Editorial Note: Minor edits were made to this article to clarify if something happened in a later episode and not the premiere itself.
Dee and Vrai wrote this together! Yay teamwork! When they’re not working for AniFem or rolling around in the pulpy goodness that is this season’s Vatican Bros, Dee (@joseinextdoor) writes about anime and manga at The Josei Next Door and Vrai (@writervrai) writes about anime, American cartoons, and quality trash vampire fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories.
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