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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Panning the Stream: Summer 2017 Midseason Review

Beating the heat with some cool summer series.

I’m writing this fresh off an Otakon Anime Convention whirlwind of a weekend, and dear readers, I am T-I-R-E-D. The thought of catching up with and writing 2-3 paragraphs on 11 series sounded so exhausting that I wound up dropping two of the shows I was still kinda on the fence about just so I could make the post shorter (I still talk about them a little, though). As I said after my June beach vacation, there’s truly nothing like a week away from your regular schedule to help you trim the ol’ watchlist.

Even with those dropped shows, my queue is still pretty packed thanks to sequels and surprise successes. Lots of variety too! Hit the jump to find the nice comedy, smart spy drama, or sprawling fantasy that sounds good to you.

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Rule of Three(ish) Review: Summer 2017 Anime Digest

Are you not entertained?!

Waiting on slowpoke Gamers to air its third episode meant a whole bunch of shows had already made it to their fourth, hence the “ish” in that title. Ah, well. Just means more tasty content for you dear readers, right?

I’m not sure this is what I’d call a “good” season, but it certainly is a fun one. Pleasant surprises, ambitious messes, exquisite piles of trash, and (sigh) Welcome to the Ballroom rule my summer watch list. While several of them could fall off a cliff in a hurry if they aren’t careful (and some maybe already have?), overall I’m having a pretty good time. Hit the jump to see who’s gaining ground and who’s falling behind 3-4 episodes into this wild, wacky season.

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Panning the Stream: Summer 2017 Premieres Digest

Let’s see what sort of treasures we can excavate this time!

A girl wearing a miner's helmet shines her light on a stone relic

I’ve been hard at work writing and editing the full-length premiere reviews for Anime Feminist, so you’ll have to excuse me if the write-ups for my digests have gotten smaller along the way. Writing lots of words about a few series means fewer words about a lot of series, it turns out. The good(?) news is that I actually watched the shows on Amazon Strike this time around (I signed up for the free trial so I could help AniFem–and yes, I feel dirty about it, too), so they’re included for once.

The categories are a little different this time because there were only a couple of shows that “wowed” me but a whole bunch that fell in a “let’s give it a couple and see what happens” range, so I adjusted accordingly. Overall, the Summer premiere week started slow, peaked in the middle, and finished with a rollercoaster of “pleasant surprise” crests and “utter garbage” valleys. I wound up with a lot more balls in the air than expected. Here’s hoping we can all catch a few good ones as they come down.

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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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