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 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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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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Panning the Stream: Summer 2017 AniFem Premiere Review Digest

Boldly going where… I go every season, actually…

A boy wearing headphones around his neck stands at the edge of a cliff overlooking a sea of stars

Like I did last season, I tackled some of the full-length Summer premiere reviews over at Anime Feminist. I’ll have my usual Premiere Digest out later this week to give you a quick run-down of All The Things, but for now I figured I’d put these in one easy-to-find place.

To keep things simple for anyone who’s wondering which shows they should check out and which they should sink to the bottom of the sea, they’re organized from Very Best to Literally The Worst:


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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!


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Fan vs Service: WorldEnd vs Hajime no Ippo

When bad frames happen to good people.

When I learned that this season’s new anime, WorldEnd (or SukaSuka), was based on a light novel about an adult man becoming a caretaker for a group of under-18 girls, I was understandably wary given anime’s less-than-glowing track record when handling age gaps and power dynamics. Fortunately, WorldEnd’s leading man, Willem, is (so far) completely uninterested in romancing the local teens. While 15-year-old Chtholly does have an obvious crush on him, Willem sees her and the rest of the girls as students, patients, or younger family members. He uses his power to help and guide, never to take advantage.

These are all good things, and a large part of why the pensive found-family story at the heart of WorldEnd has been so compelling to me. It’s also a large part of why a particular scene in Episode 2, “late autumn night’s dream,” stands out as so uncomfortable and out-of-place. Willem may not be a creeper, but some of the people creating him sure seem to be.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!