Glancing Upstream: Spring 2017 Retrospective and Review

Hot sequels, cool tutors, and. Um. Kado.

This is a sparser list than usual, jam-packed with sequels but relatively light on everything else. I took a vacation in early June where I didn’t have time to watch anime, and lemme tell ya, that week away really puts into perspective which series you’re invested in and which you’re just watching for the sake of having something on the TV. At the end of that week, three series were on the cutting-room floor, which I think is the first time my Midseason and Series Review posts have differed so dramatically.

It was the kind of season that started strong and then kind of petered out, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some great showings along the way (mostly in the form of sequels), a hidden gem or two (mostly in the form of The Royal Tutor), and a show that just… um… what? Hit the jump to learn more about that last one, as well as overall thoughts on all the others, too.

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The Royal Tutor – Episode 12: “The Last Lesson”

Concludin’ ain’t easy.

A series that began with comedy and surprises ends with drama and predictability, and I can’t say I’m too happy with that shift. It’s not an awful finale by any stretch, and there are some worthwhile ideas and a few nice scenes built into it, which we’ll talk about at the end so I can finish on a positive note. But it’s so darn boilerplate compared to the offbeat, effortless charm of the first 10 (and even moments of 11) episodes. It’s hard not to approach this episode with disappointment and a dash (or two) of salt.

…Er, as that intro suggests, this is the most critical commentary I’ve written in a long while. If you enjoyed this episode and don’t want me to yuck your yum, then now’s your chance to close the window and go read something else. I promise I won’t hold it against you. The rest of you are welcome to join me as I do my best to explain where this anime-original ending went awry.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

The Royal Tutor – Episodes 10-11: “The Professor I Don’t Know”/”The Pair’s Promise”

Flawed but Feelsy.

In the big lead-up to our grand finale, Count Rosenberg shows his claws, the boys show off their growing maturity, and Heine… shows himself out the door?! Sensei, say it ain’t so! Amidst cleaning shenanigans and princely sleuthing, our protagonist’s long-buried past at last comes to light. And it is… well, underwhelming, to tell the truth. But it’s also full of Teen Heine and Teen Viktor Having Emotions At Each Other. So. Y’know. Win some, lose some, eh?

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

A Dream of One’s Own: Finding a home outside femininity in Chihayafuru

Cards against gender conformity.

Chihayafuru is one of my all-time favorite anime series, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when Kodansha announced they’d licensed the manga for an English-language digital release. While devouring the first volume, I once again fell in love with this endearing, intense, emotional rollercoaster of a sports series about three friends in the world of competitive karuta–and was also struck for the first time by how insightfully Chihaya’s childhood arc depicts the plight of the “tomboy.”

Sometimes wrenching but ultimately inspiring, Chihayafuru’s first volume quietly challenges traditional gender norms and offers the hope of a supportive community to anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t quite fit society’s gendered expectations of who they’re “supposed” to be.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

Site Update: Tip Jar & Beach Week

I mentioned this in my Royal Tutor post the other day, but for those who missed it: I’m on my way to Florida for sun, sand, and fruity drinks with li’l umbrellas in them! This means no Royal Tutor commentary this week (I’ll roll episodes 10-11 into a single post), although I do have an article submitted to another site so there’s a chance it’ll go up while I’m gone. Either way, I have some Tumblr goodies in the queue to keep you entertained, and I’m sure you’ll see me on Twitter in between naps, too.

In the meantime, a little announcement: I’ve finally joined the ranks of those no-account panhandling creatives and set up a Tip Jar! If you like the work I do–whether it’s the episode commentaries, the seasonal check-ins, or just those High Quality and Insightful Tweets–and can spare a few bucks, I’d love it if you’d consider tossing ’em my way!

But first, a few details and some anticipated FAQs:

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The Royal Tutor – Episode 9: “The Price of the Past”

Yippee ki-yay, class.

After spending the past few episodes easing us into a more steady blend of goofy and serious, The Royal Tutor ups the ante once again with an action-packed tale of kidnappings and rescues that’s as surprisingly intense as it is utterly ridiculous. This episode really shouldn’t work, and there were times when I feared it wouldn’t, but by the end I was giggling and applauding in delight. This series is uniquely, unapologetically itself, and I’m so very glad for that.

Click here for the full post on Anime Evo!

Like Its Pint-Sized Protagonist, “The Royal Tutor” is More than Meets the Eye

Weekly posts couldn’t contain all my Royal Tutor love, so I wrote an article about it for Crunchyroll, too! All Heine all the time always!

When The Royal Tutor first came out, I had zero expectations. It looked like a fairly standard pretty-boys show, which can be real hit-or-miss, and “an adult teacher who looks like a child” didn’t sound like a promising starting point. Happily, the premiere immediately charmed me with its poker-faced protagonist, liberal use of chibis, and refusal to take its sparkly princes seriously. The Ouran High vibes were strong with this one, and I was cautiously optimistic.

By the second episode, I was hooked, and not just because the series was silly and cute and the characters were all good, good boys (although that sure didn’t hurt). The Royal Tutor also impressed me with the way it quietly wove in themes about judging people by appearances. Between all the chibi antics, the series argues that first impressions are often deceiving, and people are rarely who they initially seem.

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!