Podcast: Fushigi Yugi Watchalong – Episodes 8-14

My boys are back in town!

A chibi man with flyaway bangs wearing a tunic and prayer beads smiles wide and pulls off a mask that looks identical to his current smiling face. Next to him, a girl in a modern school uniform watches with bugged-out eyes, sweatdropping.

It’s Part 2 of the Fushigi Yugi watchalong with Vrai, Caitlin, and yours truly! This week, the series hits its stride as an engaging fantasy adventure and tackles some difficult topics, with… mixed results. Highlights include: Questionable decisions from teenagers, the introduction of my favorite anime character in the history of anime characters, and a pair of trash banditz I wasted years of my life not ‘shipping together.

Click here to view the show notes and download the SoundCloud file, or find it on iTunes and Stitcher by searching for “Chatty AF.”


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Panning the Stream: Fall 2017 Premieres Digest

Let the battle for a spot on my watchlist begin!
A blonde girl in a school uniform stands with her eyes closed and one hand stretched out to the side. Beside, her someone in a black suit and gloves stands, their face and most of their torso hidden by a tall stack of what appear to be blu-ray cases.

This. Season. Is. STACKED. Or, at least, that’s how it looks after a deluge of strong premieres. Six shows impressed me enough to earn a guaranteed three episodes, not including the four sequels I’m locked into; and honestly, in a normal season, at least a few of the fence-sitters would have been “guaranthreed,” too. I eventually had to start dropping stuff not because I hated it, but because I was terrified my watchlist would topple sideways under the weight of all those shows and crush me beneath it.

Point being, there’s almost certainly something listed below that will catch your fancy as much as or more than it did mine. So let’s dive right into ’em, shall we?

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Panning the Stream: Fall 2017 AniFem Premiere Review Digest

Crawling the dungeons for anime treasure.

A young man and woman dressed in fantasy garb face away from the camera; across from them is a small treasure chest and a giant, fluffy gold mouse. They appear to be standing in a dungeon.

I picked up another batch of full-length premiere reviews at AniFem this season. You’ll still get the usual Premiere Review On All The Things post later this week (once I’ve had a chance to sleep a little), but as has become tradition, I wanted to make these available in a nice digest post.

As has also become tradition, they’re organized by how highly I’d recommend them, from “a whole lot” to “not at all”:

  • The Ancient Magus’ Bride – A beautifully animated adaptation of one of my favorite ongoing manga series. That opening chapter sure is side-eye-tastic, though.
  • Recovery of an MMO Junkie – I found it super cute and charming, but YMMV if you’re bothered by its somewhat shallow handling of gender and sexuality.
  • Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ A fun otome VN adaptation with smart pacing, a solid plot, strong aesthetics, and good boys? Folks, we found The Unicorn!
  • Black Clover – A paint-by-numbers shounen fantasy series, but harmless enough.
  • DYNAMIC CHORD – A poorly plotted, cheaply animated, angst-riddled mess. I kinda liked it.
  • KONOHANA KITAN – A neat premise hamstrung by assault “jokes” and fanservice. Sigh.
  • SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD – The other otome VN adaptation. Almost hilaribad, but alas, not quite.
  • Inuyashiki – Better executed than a lot of the shows above it, but so viscerally unpleasant that I just don’t care.

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Podcast: Fushigi Yugi Watchalong – Episodes 1-7

I have been training FIFTEEN YEARS for this day.

A smiling brunette girl wearing a party hat and a school uniform holds up both hands in a "V" shape. Behind her is confetti and another image of the same girl, this time holding a long scroll with kanji on it.

Now that I’m recording Chatty AF podcasts on the regular,  I figured it made sense to host the links to those here on JND as well. This seems like the perfect place to start, as I am ridiculously excited for this new project.

I got together with Caitlin of I Have a Heroine Problem and Vrai of Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories to record a “newbie friendly” multi-part podcast series on an old problematic fav. Fushigi Yugi is very near and dear to my heart, and getting together with two of my favorite AniFriends to revisit and discuss it from a feminist perspective has been a super fun, supremely fascinating, and surprisingly emotional experience. I hope you’ll flip the page and join us on our ’90s isekai adventure!

To kick things off, the three of us take a trip down FY memory lane. Surprise! Everybody still loves Nuriko. Miaka and Tamahome have aged better than expected. Hotohori, though? Not so much.

You can click here to view the show notes and download the SoundCloud file, or find it on iTunes and Stitcher by searching for “Chatty AF.”

(Oh–and if you’re interested in my backlog, you can find the full list of episodes I’ve been involved in on my new Podcasts page. Happy listening!)


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Glancing Upstream: Summer 2017 Retrospective and Review

Replaying the slam dunks, swishes, and bricks of summer.

Sure, we’re neck-deep in Fall premieres, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pause to say goodbye to the summer shows! If you’re wondering why this took so long to go live, blame The Reflection: I got sucked into it and decided to wait to post the retrospective until the final episode had aired.

While this was an inconsistent, up-and-down kind of season, very sparse on shows I always liked, I somehow wound up finishing a whole bunch of them. I even picked up some previous “drops” along the way, with… mixed results, we’ll say. Not a ton of wholehearted recommendations, I’m sad to say, but if you’re interested in my summer season thoughts, you can either listen to the Chatty AF summer wrap-up podcast, or hit the jump for some written mini-reviews.

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Life After Failure in Sakura Quest

Roadblocks and scenic detours on the winding career path.

Since its very first promo video, Sakura Quest has been drawing comparisons to SHIROBAKO, and it’s easy to understand the impulse. Both are produced by P.A. Works, have similar character designs by Sekiguchi Kanami, and focus on five young women in the workplace. In a way, they’re also both about what happens after the credits roll on a typical high school anime, providing a refreshingly honest portrayal of the sometimes harsh realities of adulthood while still maintaining a relatively upbeat, optimistic tone.

Those “harsh realities” are where the two series diverge, though, because while SHIROBAKO focuses on what happens after people land their dream jobs, Sakura Quest is attempting something a bit trickier: what happens if they don’t? Can you still find happiness even if you don’t fulfill your childhood dream? What does life look like on the other side of failure?

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!


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Know When to Fold ‘Em: Princess Principal and the feel-good feminism of “Loudly Laundry”

Working girls working together? Works for me!

In case you missed me heaping praise on it in my midseason review, I’m pretty fond of Princess Principal. It’s an entertaining spy caper with an unexpectedly progressive core, not just because of its cast of capable, complex female leads and light yuri undertones (although all of that is pretty great), but also because of its central focus on tearing down barriers. Some of those barriers are literal, like the wall that splits alternate-history London into two warring nation-states, but most of them are figurative, dealing with the sharp social and economic divisions present in this world.

Many of Princess Principal’s stories discuss the hardships inherent in these divisions, such as the poverty that’s influenced many characters’ lives or the walls that prevented our two protagonists from being together. All of that is valuable, as it both shows how these barriers negatively impact individuals and helps explain why Princess Charlotte is so determined to change things. But it’s the upbeat and inspiring Episode 7, “Loudly Laundry,” that offers perhaps the show’s most nuanced depiction of inequality to date, asking our central cast to acknowledge their own privilege—and encouraging them to find a better way forward.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!


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