Weekly Round-Up, 3-9 January 2024: New Animation Studio, Netflix Viewing Numbers, and “Grown-Up” Magical Girls

By: Anime Feminist January 9, 20240 Comments
a pallas; cat

AniFem Round-Up

Fluffy Paradise – Episode 1

The cute animals and soft vibe mesh awkwardly with the protagonist’s God-given mission to discern whether humanity is irredeemably racist.

Ishura – Episode 1

A dark fantasy show that will live or die depending on how much it decides to center its traumatized heroine.

Gushing Over Magical Girls – Episode 1

Leaves one with that “am I on a watchlist now” sort of feeling.

Chained Soldier – Episode 1

The second show this season that falls on its face trying to build a domme-focused fantasy series.

Delicious in Dungeon – Episode 1

Easily the most anticipated show of the season, and it does not disappoint.

My Instant Death Ability is Overpowered – Episode 1

That ability worked too well, because this is dead on arrival.

The Demon Prince of Momochi House – Episode 1

There’s potential and it’s always nice to see more fantasy shoujo, but its leads need to develop some more depth quick.

Sasaki and Peeps – Episode 1

What should be a slam dunk concept is shredded by terrible pacing and an overlong runtime.

A Sign of Affection – Episode 1

Sweet, beautifully made, and it’s exciting to see the detail paid to the heroine’s use of sign language.

Solo Leveling – Episode 1

The premise has great potential as a satire on capitalism, but the protagonist is basically a void of charisma right now.

The Unwanted Undead Adventurer – Episode 1

There’s overbearing internal monologue, and then there’s this.

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic – Episode 1

Probably the best isekai premiere of the season so far.

The Strongest Tank’s Labyrinth Raids -A Tank with a Rare 9999 Resistance Skill Got Kicked from the Hero’s Party- – Episode 1

It’s nice to see a ‘kicked out of the party’ show that lacks the mean, petty bitterness often laced into the microgenre.

Tales of Wedding Rings – Episode 1

The main couple’s very sweet chemistry is held back by a bucket of fanservice.

Mr. Villain’s Day Off – Episode 1

A bit repetitive, but it’s got an excellent comedy writer backing it up.

The Foolish Angel Dances with the Devil – Episode 1

Mixes extremely weird comedic decisions with an exceptionally fun lead—though the final scene leaves a significant stain on the proceedings.

7th Time Loop: The Villainess Enjoys a Carefree Life Married to Her Worst Enemy! – Episode 1

A promising start with a fantastic heroine if somewhat lackluster visual presentation.

Chatty AF 198: The Boy and the Heron Retrospective

Vrai, Cy, and Toni discuss Miyazaki Hayao’s latest (last?) movie, its callbacks to his career and themes, and Robert Pattinson.

What’s your most anticipated Winter 2024 anime?

Even a slow season always has a few gems.

Bonus Podcast (with Transcript) 2023 December: A Vista of Visual Novels

Dee, Caitlin, and Vrai reunite to talk about some of their favorite visual novels, all of them a beguiling bundle of messiness.

Beyond AniFem

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What Happens When Magical Girls Grow Up? (Anime News Network, Christopher Farris and Monique Thomas)

On the glut of “grown up” magical girl shows and what separates the effective from the cynical.

Nicky: The imitators prove my point that making something both subversive while still feeling interesting and original is a pretty difficult trick to pull off. The best takes often need to be familiar with the genre to not feel like a cheap knock-off. I’d say the same about sentai heroes, who are kind of magical girls’ brother. Both genres are highly structured and have a particular set of tropes, but it’s not enough to joke about it if you’re doing it all from the outside; there has to be a level of sincerity to make the audience feel “in on it.”

So something like Magical Girl Site or Gushing Over Magical Girls didn’t work for me, but something like the super weird Magical Destroyers which is all about otaku culture and feels like a ’00s love letter. It did everything crudely and bizarrely because it was having a blast with it.

Chris: It’s the difference between simply dressing up in the livery of something perceived as cute and innocent for shock value and earnestly playing with its genre conventions. That leads to more successful Madoka-likes, such as my beloved Granbelm. That one takes some of those base elements, adds stuff like mecha, and runs in different, but still solidly defined thematic directions.

Nicky: Granbelm is a great example because it’s not only about magical girls but also a mecha and magical battle series ala Fate/stay night. It somehow takes all those things and makes them feel original again by having some stellar character writing and presentation. Not to mention its kick-ass theme song!

It’s one of the only “diet” shows I’d say tastes just as good as Madoka. It’s got a unique flavor.

Chris: This has been your perennial reminder from This Week In Anime to watch Granbelm!

It’s another confirmation that, like the successes of the aforementioned Princess Tutu, a series needs good fundamentals to work within that genre space. Granbelm has its fair share of tragic turns and shocking moments, but it never feels like it’s pushing its “magical girls for adults” setup as a pure gimmick. That should apply regardless of whether a series is subverting expectations for drama or comedy value.

Nicky: Again, the same applies to parody or less serious takes, too. What’s a dark, funny, and super-erotic series that’s goofy and sincere? Why, it’s my old friend, Fairy Ranmaru. It’s magical boys instead of magical girls, but it’s keen to explore drama, society, and sexuality while playing with the genre’s tropes. What a beautiful and bizarre show. I covered part of it with Jean-Karlo a ways back, but it still holds a special place in my heart.

Popular animator breaks silence on MAPPA’s working conditions (Dexerto, Tulisha Srivastava)

Chansard recently worked on One Piece and Jujutsu Kaisen.

A Twitter user translated the interview where the interviewer asked Vincent why he doesn’t want to work for MAPPA anymore. Vincent replied, “I don’t want to support a company that ideologically doesn’t care about working conditions. Go asked me, and I like working with him. He also doesn’t want to work anymore for Mappa.”

Furthermore, when the interviewer asked to choose between Studio Bones or MAPPA, Vincent picked Bones while Dourian picked the latter. Between Wit and MAPPA, Dourian again picked MAPPA, while Vincent chose Wit.

He is standing his ground and sharing his dislike of MAPPA’s poor working conditions that restrict their creative freedom, thanks to the time crunch. Although the interview isn’t officially translated yet, it will be shared later on, where he talks about the studio in detail.

An Anime Insider’s Take on the Netflix Engagement Report (Anime News Network, Miles Thomas Atherton)

Breakdown of the 2023 viewership data finally released by Netflix.

If you’ll allow me the indulgence of returning to the Pareto Principle for a moment, it’s fascinating – though not at all surprising – to see such a massive distribution in viewership across these films. Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata is a beloved director in his own right, but his best-performing film on Netflix, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, only drew 10% of the eyeballs of his contemporary’s number one film. Whereas the gap between Toonami’s most-watched and least-watched titles, for example, was typically no more than 20-30%, the delta in viewership between Totoro and My Neighbors the Yamadas is more than an order of magnitude.

This example exposes one of the challenges with streaming: the seemingly endless choices one has for consumption means that, even with careful curation, most of the titles brought to the platform will die on the vine. No matter the quality of the content – and it’s hard to argue that even the lowest rung of Studio Ghibli fare is anything less than exceptional – there’s not enough time in the day or interest to fully exploit any catalog. From your perspective, having Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and The Wind Rises available for streaming may be non-negotiables regarding the Ghibli catalog. But for Netflix’s sake, outside of the positive press of the initial announcement, they would have benefitted just as much to only get the top dozen films, even at the same price.

Survey: 30% of teenage sexual minorities avoided school (The Asahi Shimbun, Chinami Tajika)

The survey of 10,449 respondents included 459 current teenagers.

Fiscal 2022 statistics released by the education ministry show that 3.2 percent of elementary and junior high school children nationwide refused to attend school. The figure for high schoolers was 2.0 percent.

The rate for sexual minorities in the latest survey was upward of 10 times of what is considered standard.

In addition, 38.8 percent of respondents in the 10-19 age group said they had been bullied during their student days.

The study also looked at the damage caused by verbal abuse as well as sexual and other types of violence. More than one answer was allowed for this question.

It found that 13.9 percent of all respondents had been “victimized by physical violence,” while 11.5 percent ticked “sexual violence.”

A staggering 52.8 percent of the 3,686 respondents who touched upon their experiences of being exposed to some sort of abuse and violence stated they had “never consulted” with others about their problems.

One-third of Japan’s unmarried adults under 50 have never dated (The Mainichi)

The survey consulted 1,200 single adults.

Among the respondents in their 20s, 19.4 percent of women and 23.7 percent of men said having a romantic relationship is a waste of time and money. The percentage was lower among older male respondents, but it was notably higher among female respondents in their 30s at 23.6 percent, rising sharply from 14.6 percent in the previous survey in 2021.

Among men of all age groups who do not want to marry, the top reason, given by 42.5 percent, was the financial strain of married life. As for women, 40.5 percent said they do not want to compromise their freedom and independence.

While 46.1 percent of all respondents said they want to marry eventually, the number has been on the downtrend, falling from 55.4 percent in 2017 and 52.6 percent in 2021.

Among the respondents in their 20s, 44.3 of females and 34.6 percent of males said they would only date someone for the purpose of finding a marriage partner.

Chainsaw Man Director Ryū Nakayama Establishes Anime Production Unit (Anime News Network, Egan Loo & Rafael Antonio Pineda)

We send our sincerest hopes that the cycle of idealism to overwork seen in Madhouse and MAPPA itself do not recur here.

In its job recruitment notice, Andraft says it is seeking contract or outsourced workers for a three-month trial period, with possible promotion to regular employee status after. The salary depends on experience and abilities, but Andraft offers a sample salary of 350,000 yen (about US$2,400) a month for an experienced worker, with up to 20 hours of overtime already factored into that salary amount.

Andraft has an office in the western Tokyo neighborhood of Ogikubo (near other anime companies), but remote work is allowed for those who live far from there. The daily hours are under the flextime schedule, although employees must work during a certain set of core hours. Previous industry experience is not necessary, as Andraft says it values those with a passion for creativity.

Billionaire Lovers Game Review – More Money, More Problems (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

A spoiler-free review of a rollercoaster experience.

The MC is the highlight of Billionaire Lovers. In fact, they are the main reason you should play this game. Their character arc is the thread that pulls everything together. At the start of the game, the MC is naïve and overly trusting of others. Someone who is an easy mark for folks looking to take advantage of them. But, after everything they go through they become much more shrewd about the world around them. Though in an interesting twist the MC never fully loses faith in others.

It’s a fine line to toe for a protagonist. But Ayacat is up to the challenge delivering a compelling arc, that also manages to impart an impactful life lesson for the player. I’d be lying if I said the ending of the game didn’t have me reevaluating my own life choices!

Ayacat knew what they were doing with the marketing, this game is the perfect honey trap. Billionaire Lovers feels like your run of the mill romance VN. It plays on our knowledge of romance tropes to subvert our expectations, in the best ways. It’s easy to fall for the deception, when there are beautiful CGs depicting the eligible bachelors at their most dazzling and fun, snappy, lighthearted dialogue.

VIDEO: Generational trauma and cycles of abuse in 90s eroge Suisenka.

VIDEO: The need to establish standards for accessibility in game development.

AniFem Community

There’s already a few eye-catching titles to look forward to.

I'm super excited for the Cherry Magic anime! I got into the manga recently, and it's a really sweet BL series. Hopefully the production values will be good, a lot of BL get treated pretty poorly.  I also just watched the first episode of Delicious in Dungeon and adored it! I love shows about food, and it had some great comedic moments as well!
Most anticipated: A Sign of Affection and Mr. Villain's Day Off Continuation/Sequel: Apothecary Diaries and JJK and I enjoyed High Card last year so I will pick that one up too. Backlog: Blue Eye Samurai and Frieren Surprise: Solo Leveling was alright -I was anticipating it a little- I watch a few more to see if that changes
Anticipated?  Ongoing adventures of the gremlin leading ladies: Frieren & Apothecary Diaries New: Delicious in Dungeon, Sign of Affection, Demon Prince of Momochi House, 7th Time Loop Not so sure the payoff is gonna be there, but anticipated.
The second season of The Dangers in My Heart no notes.

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