Winter 2018 premiere digest

Another season of premieres watched and reviewed! Now that we’ve gone through every new show, it’s time to get ’em all in one room and see how they measure.

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. This left 28 eligible premieres in 11 days.

A teen boy in a black suit lays on the floor as four toddlers clamber on top of him, along with a plush giraffe.
Dramatic reenactment of the review team getting tackled by new shows.

How do you write the reviews?

AniFem staffers CaitlinDee, and Vrai divvied up the bulk of the reviews, with Amelia swooping in to help out us poor Americans by covering Violet Evergarden. 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 close-up of a teenage boy holding a camera to his eye. Another teen boy is reflected in the lens.
We watch everything, so you don’t have to!

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!

A girl in a casual T-shirt holds up her hands as if miming claws and grins gleefully. She appears to be sitting backwards on a couch and a TV is behind her.
Rare footage of a staffer preparing to pounce on a new favorite series.

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 girl with long hair wearing a winter coat holds a pair of chopsticks in one hand and a cup noodle in the other. Her eyes are squeezed shut and she is chewing happily.
Time to dig in to some tasty winter shows!
WINTER 2018 PREMIERE DIGEST

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

  • A Place Further than the Universe (Episodes 1-3): A cast of realistically written young women who inspire one another and work together to achieve their goals.
  • DamePri Anime Caravan (Episodes 1-2): Practical female protagonist navigates political schemes and idiot pretty-boys in an Ouran High-esque harem comedy.
  • Sanrio Boys (Episodes 1-2): A blatant toy commercial that nevertheless actively engages with (and criticizes) the pressures society places on boys to hide their emotions and reject things perceived as being “too girly.”

Feminist potential

  • Laid-Back Camp (Episodes 1-2): Relaxing comedy that focuses on female characters and friendships that feel genuine and grounded instead of calculated or infantile.
  • Record of Grancrest War (Episodes 1-2): DnD-style fantasy with a clever female protagonist calling the shots from the shadows; Episode 2 features an assertive female warrior; the women’s outfits show a lot of skin, but there’s no fanservice, at least.
  • Violet Evergarden (Episode 1): Former child soldier learning to connect with her emotions and assert her will in a post-war world; could develop into a triumphant character arc, or slump into a tale of weapon-turned-waifu.

Harmless fun

  • Hakumei and Mikochi (Episode 1): Fantastical slice-of-life starring two female leads with an easygoing friendship.
  • How to keep a mummy (Episode 1): Cute pets being cute to low stakes.
  • IDOLiSH7 (Episode 1): Follows a male idol group full of basically good boys and their female manager who’s talented while still having room to grow.
  • Junji Ito Collection (Episodes 1-2): Horror short stories with a varying degree of success in portraying women; a lot of body horror.
  • Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san (Episode 1): A middle-school rom-com that doesn’t do anything particularly problematic or progressive.
  • Mitsuboshi Colors (Episode 1): Family-friendly comedy about three likably bratty elementary school girls.
  • Pop Team Epic (Episodes 1-2): An absurdist comedy series starring two pop-culture-savvy schoolgirls.
  • School Babysitters (Episode 1-2): Cute boys taking care of even cuter toddlers.

It’s… complicated

  • citrus (Episodes 1-2): A potentially engrossing yuri melodrama hampered by repeated sexual assault and adaptation choices seemingly designed for a straight audience.
  • DEVILMAN crybaby (Episodes 1-10 (we binged)): Gory exploitation that does have thoughts about queerness and adolescence but also takes advantage of women’s bodies, both through leering camera angles and violence; a pale-skinned demonic character being revered as godlike by a native Peruvian tribe; comes with a laundry list of content warnings.

Yellow flags

  • Beatless (Episode 1): Follows a scantily clad female-coded robot designed to serve her male “master,” but the fanservice is minimal and the characters (especially the little sister) are likable enough.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX (Episode 1): Mecha series that has the potential to challenge its heteronormative premise, but sporadic fanservice and casual sexual harassment don’t leave us super confident that it will.
  • Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (Episode 1): An ensemble murder mystery with only one female character who didn’t immediately die; several worrying issues around a cis male crossdresser.
  • Katana Maidens ~Toji no Miko (Episode 1): Battle maiden series that goes through the fanservicey motions with far less bite and discomfort than usual.
  • KOKKOKU (Episodes 1-2): Supernatural thriller with a capable female lead who’s immediately surrounded by dudes; a fanservice-heavy ending theme, but none in-show; in Episode 2, there’s the threat of sexual assault, though nothing happens.
  • Maerchen Maedchen (Episode 1): An all-female magical girl series with a lot of nudity and cheesecake shots, including of its youngest characters.
  • Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles (Episodes 1-2): Food porn that looks like everyone is having an orgasm while eating, but isn’t as skeevy as many examples of the genre.
  • Slow Start (Episode 1): Plastically manufactured to be pwecious, with jiggle physics and an emphasis on how young its teenage leads look.

Red flags

  • After the Rain (Episode 1): A high school girl is in love with her middle-aged manager who has far more of an interior life than she does; the fantasy caters to the narratives preferred by predatory men.
  • Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (Episode 1): Boilerplate isekai power fantasy; readers of the source material warn us that many of the female characters in the protagonist’s future harem are literal slaves.

Pit of shame

  • Killing Bites (Episode 1): Sexual assault, a lead whose best recommendation is “he’s not a rapist,” and lots of objectification of high schoolers.

Anime was a mistake

 

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