For better or worse, an exactingly faithful remake so far.
Cool action, yuri shipteashing, and lots of thigh shots.
The premise is sexist but it’s too incredibly extra to take seriously.
Might be a nice change from video game isekai tropes or end up falling back into them.
A slick, gorgeous body horror action show.
Some fumbled fantasy racism metaphors, but mostly it’s just dull.
A bright, bubbly 90s throwback fantasy.
A trace of military propaganda, but the cast is solid.
Sweet, simple setup for a gentle rom-com.
Steeped in nostalgia but with cool new heroines for new viewers.
This season’s most aggressively bland isekai.
Watch it knowing as little as possible, if you can.
A beautiful, gentle, and cozy travel show.
Promising as a sports series but it’s still figuring itself out.
Needs more characters to keep the joke fresh, but charming as Hell.
Competent Victorian crime show but little else.
As you can see, there are plenty to choose from.
How Bloom Into You Defies and Reinforces Yuri Tropes (Anime News Network, Nicki “YuriMother” Bauman)
A retrospective on the beloved romance series’ highs and lows.
Comments and critical discourse often ignore the many ways that Bloom Into You features and forwards yuri tropes. However, a fair amount of the discussion surrounding this series focuses on one aspect it really should not: asexuality. Asexual people deserve quality representation in media. Some fantastic titles feature and explore it in a realistic and forthright manner, such as Our Dreams At Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare and Mine-kun is Asexual, but Bloom Into You is not their peer. From its inception, the series was labeled and advertised as a yuri story about two girls, both of whom exhibit sexual and romantic attraction to each other, falling in love. Despite her initial struggles with affection, Yuu is not asexual, nor is she demisexual or gray asexual/aromantic. The final volume attributes Yuu’s inability to fall in love to a character fault. In her shoujo manga-influenced mind, love is sudden and spectacular, like a flash of a lightning bolt, instead of a process requiring effort and dedication. Once Yuu matures and understands the complexities of love, she feels attracted to Touko and is assumed to be allosexual.
The proliferation of discussions about asexuality in Bloom Into You is likely exacerbated by TROYCA‘s anime adaptation, which covers the events from approximately the first five and a half volumes of the manga. By the anime’s conclusion, Yuu has not yet fallen for Touko, and although she arguably displays some romantic affection, she shows no signs of sexual interest in her. If one has not read the manga, it is a valid and understandable argument. We are often too quick and eager to see underrepresented identities even when they are not there, or when their portrayal is not positive. Sadly, even side character Maki, who is asexual, is not a genuine representation. The series describes him as an observer of others’ stories, unable to have his own because of his sexuality, or lack thereof. However, real ace/aro people can have meaningful lives and stories of their own that do not necessarily involve courtship.
The most frustrating repercussion of arguments speaking to the series asexual representation is that by focusing so much on this topic, we often miss some of Bloom Into You‘s best qualities. While the series is deeply entrenched in yuri traditions, presenting genre standard story arcs, set pieces, and characters, Nakatani actually manipulates and even challenges quite a few of these tropes in fantastic ways. Take Touko, for example. While she is the typical senpai archetype in design and history, her calm and controlled manner is a facade hiding a very vulnerable girl. It is an exciting play on the character. She struggles so much to fulfill the archetypical role that is effortless in other works, but it is a burden to her, not a natural ability, and she changes and learns to be more comfortable with her true self. Additionally, Nakatani’s slight manipulation of the “girl-meets-girl” story arc helps modernize the classic structure.
The Casual Gaymer: Nier Replicant and connecting with Queer history (AIPT, Trevor Richardson)
Reflecting on the powerful moment of recognition when a work’s queerness is “confirmed.”
A major theme of Nier and Nier: Automata is discovering an erased history and learning about your identity and how it has been validated or contradicted by that history. It can be a discovery that reifies your existence, but for both queer people and the characters of the Nier games, it can also be one that unveils the ways your people have been murdered, oppressed, or left to die. It can be one that reveals that, for better or worse, you are not who or what you thought you were. The potential for despair is only further compounded by the fact that these injustices have been erased to fulfill the agendas of the powers that be.
However, as with Emil, 2B, or Kainé, learning this history, celebrating these discoveries, or confronting these injustices may affect how I feel about my identity, but it cannot essentially change it.
Had I been alive in the ’80s during the AIDS epidemic, my government would have considered me as disposable as a malfunctioning YoRHa unit with no one to clean up the parts of my broken body. Time and again, I learn of another example in history in which living outside of the gender binary was an accepted way of life with its own vocabulary to match. Neither this cruelty nor this validation affect my sense of self, pay my credit card debt, or assuage my mental health issues. Like Nier and 2B, even when I learn about my history, it doesn’t change the fact that I have to move forward as I am, neither held back by its consequences nor whisked away by its affirmations.
Takarazuka school tosses out outdated conduct rules for students (The Asahi Shimbun, Igarashi Seishiro)
The article specifically discusses rules for interactions between junior and senior students.
Among the unwritten restrictions that were long handed down but have already been scrapped are the “yoka-goto” (yokasei affairs) rules that force, for example, junior students to show a “yoka-gao” (yokasei face) frowning look with the corners of the mouth lowered in front of their second-year counterparts.
The regulations also demanded first-year students utter only such words as “yes,” “no” and “my apologies” when replying to older students, greet seniors from a distance in a loud voice and bow to Hankyu trains on which second-graders may be riding.
The education facility decided those customary rules are not necessary for nurturing proper stage performers. Although some students voiced opposition to scrapping them, the operator reportedly convinced them to change their minds through discussions on the issue.
What we talk about when we talk about ‘Ghost of Tsushima’ (The Washington Post, David Shimomura)
Discussion of criticism around the game and the backlash to it.
“[Reviews like those reprinted in Kotaku] center non-diasporic Japanese voices,” said Haru Nicol, a video game and media writer. “It centers [domestic Japan] as the one true Japanese voice and is used to invalidate diaspora Japanese voices who have different concerns and different worries about how they’re represented.”
The effect of this is the creation of a straw “authentic Japanese experience,” inaccessible to those who do not live in Japan, a standard those living abroad are evaluated against. Living in Japan would mean that a Japanese person would be a part of the majority culture. Living abroad, as many of those being harassed online do, they are unable to escape the fact as a minority elsewhere they must be a representative to Japanese culture, willing or not. And often, the form of Japanese culture that has been exported around the world has tied in one way or another to the image of the samurai.
Wandering Witch – The Journey of Elaina Creator Asks Anime Staff Not to Show Panty Shots (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)
The writer also discussed upcoming stories for both the anime and light novel.
Wandering Witch – The Journey of Elaina (Majo no Tabitabi) light novel series creator Jougi Shiraishi told Newtype in an interview that he had only one request for the anime staff: “Absolutely do not show underwear, please.” He explained that he wanted the anime to be seen by a wide audience and that he did not want to limit the appeal.
He stressed that this was his only major request, mentioning that seeing the anime staff face-to-face was “the most nerve-wracking” experience in his life.
Shiraishi expressed his pleasure with the anime, stating that concept designer Kazumasa Nishio‘s drawings were “magnitudes more beautiful and lush than what I was imagining in my head.” He also praised the work of the voice actors and the ending theme song vocalist ChouCho.
The interview also addresses some of the overseas reception to the anime’s trailers. Shiraishi said that he has seen comments from people from Asian regions like South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, China, and even from western regions like North America. He professed a deep fondness for overseas dramas, particularly from England, and has incorporated some of that appeal into Wandering Witch. “I hope that this aspect resonates with the overseas audience as well,” he said.
‘Realistic’ Game Environments Don’t Acknowledge Disabled People (Uppercut, Errol Kerr)
The proud declaration of realism is one often only acknowledging the abled.
Through exploring all of these games, I didn’t get to see people who look like me, and I didn’t get to see environments where I or any other disabled person could live their lives. Something that I feel abled people haven’t grasped yet is that sometimes, escapism for disabled people doesn’t need to look like wheelchair users doing amazing things, autistic people being exceptionally intelligent and also making tons of friends, or people with conditions that are considered life-limiting testing or breaking the barriers that are set in front of us. Sometimes, that escapism can look like seeing other disabled people that look like you, living their lives in spaces that include them, just… being.
In a space where accessibility in gaming is a very common topic, and where real-world access is a frequently-discussed issue, it’s important that your “real worlds” reflect the people who exist in them. To do that, your environments have to be designed for us to live in, too. While I can praise games for an increase in the representation of disabled people, I would encourage developers to look at the environments they construct and examine whether disabled people could feasibly exist in these spaces. If we can’t, there can only be a few reasons for that: either you have designed the in-game world to exclude us which should send a message in itself, or you’ve forgotten that disabled people don’t just stay at home. Whether it’s ramps, elevators, accessible vehicles, or even just remembering that accessible bathrooms exist, it would be nice to see a crumb of inclusion. In a world where games are genuinely praised for adding “realistic” details such as in-game horses having testicles that contract in cold weather (yes, really), developers creating these “realistic” worlds have no excuse to forget the disabled people in those worlds. And nondisabled players have no excuse to forget us, either.
VIDEO: Recording of the Black Animators Panel Series from MECCAcon 2020.
VIDEO: On antiblack designs in anime and pushback from Black creators.
TWEET: Info on rebooted magazine Monkey Business, which includes Japanese literature in English translation.
TWEET: TikTok on antiblack attitudes in anime fandom.
This is an unbelievably packed season, with lots of different picks for most intriguing!