2021 Spring Premiere Digest

The exciting and harrowing storm that is New Anime Season is passing, leaving us to settle into the wave of new stories as they unfold over the next 13 – 24 weeks.

Here you’ll find all the AniFem reviews (including mine) in one place, organised by their potential. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the team’s hard work!

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Premiere Review | I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level

What’s it about? Witnessing her death from overwork, a kindly goddess takes pity on Azusa and reincarnates her as an immortal witch in a peaceful, pastoral environment. Azusa is determined to live the slowest, chilliest life possible, gathering herbs, gardening, enjoying the countryside, and slaying the occasional slime for resources. After three-hundred years of killing low-level monsters, however, she becomes the most powerful witch the land has ever known—and once word gets out, every hero worth their salt wants to challenge her.

Slimes feels like a love letter to those of us who play fantasy RPGs on Chill Mode: avoiding the main quest to collect every single flower in the compendium, raising cows instead of slaying dragons, and finding escapism in just living a day-to-day pastoral life in another world. After literally working herself to death in an office, Azusa takes her new slow existence in stride, and is understandably distraught when challengers start appearing at her door threatening to turn her life into an action-adventure game when she’s content playing a farming simulator.

Read the full review on AniFem!

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Premiere Review | The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent

What’s it about? 20-year-old office worker Sei finds herself suddenly transported to a fantasy world, summoned as the “holy maiden” who will save the world. Except the mages accidentally doubled their order, and summoned two young women from Earth… leaving Sei declared as the spare who must now make her own life in this new, magical world.

Isekai series have become associated with power fantasies, usually of the teen, cis, masculine variety. Saint’s Magic Power, with a listless twenty-something as its heroine, represents a different kind of fantasy, but it is one nonetheless: the power fantasy of getting a job without qualifications or a complicated interview process, of having a “knack” for a new skill and picking it up quickly, and not having to tie your hair back when you do lab work.

Read the full review on AniFem!

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Premiere Review | Let’s Make a Mug Too

What’s it about? Himeno and her father move to Tajima City, Gifu prefecture, to start a new business and a new life. Himeno soon learns that her new home is famous for its pottery—and that her mother was a renowned ceramic artist when she was alive. Inspired by her new classmates and eager to get in touch with the art form her mother loved, Himeno resolves to join the school pottery club and learn the secrets of clay.

Let’s Make a Mug Too is a slightly odd duck: the animated portion of the “episode” only goes for about 15 minutes, but the short is accompanied by a live-action travel show segment that brings the runtime to a traditional anime length. The series is a tourism tie-in for Gifu, and both the fictional and non-fictional halves of the show take care to paint the locale in the most lovely, calming, historically-intriguing light possible.

Do I want to explore tree-lined old streets looking at antiques now? Maybe. Mostly, though, I want to talk about the unexpected emotional undercurrents that I think will really elevate this cute little hobby show.

Read the full review on AniFem!

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Premiere Review | Dragon Goes House Hunting

What’s it about? When a young dragon fails in his dragonly duties and does not live up to the fearsome expectations of dragonkind, his family kicks him out. Left all alone in a world full of people that want to slay him and harvest his horns and tail, our protagonist is lost and defenceless… until he seeks out the elf Dearia, who specialises in fantasy real estate. Can they team up to find the perfect nest?

Content considerations: parents kicking their children out of home

In a market so saturated with Generic European Fantasy Adventures that it’s practically dripping, it’s nice to see new series that really try to go niche and plumb the depths of more mundane, less-explored aspects of these settings. In this case, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the ins and outs of the fantasy real estate market. We get a glimpse of it in the premiere as Dearia tours a pair of slimes through a nice, cosy cave, complete with a snazzy little brochure and conversations about the magic energy of the place (the “vibe” of a property is always important, after all).

Read the full article on AniFem!

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Non-binary Finery: March ’21 Roundup

Me setting off to buy floral button-down shirts

You know what, I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with something poetic or funny to say to sum up March, but sometimes a month just passes by with relative peace and ease, and that’s worth celebrating even if it doesn’t generate many words. Here are some blog posts!

On the blog:

Something Like Euphoria – a big weird post about the big weird (joyful) experience that is gender

Otherside Picnic and Groundbreakingly Goofy Queer Fiction – must a story with queer characters be “good art”? Is it not enough for a pair of lesbians to fight monsters while making silly faces?

On The Anime Herald

Together, Alone: How Laid-Back Camp Shows Companionship Through Technology – far from buying into the Nature vs. Tech dichotomy, my favourite camping show instead explores how smartphones and instant messages can be used to enjoy The Great Outdoors and build relationships

On Anime Feminist

Tropical Rouge! Precure – Episode 1 – the new Precure series bursts onto the scene in a splash of colour, making me question the ethics of selling makeup to children but appealing deeply to my inner seven-year-old’s Mermaid Phase

Bookchats: Gideon the Ninth punches through my reading slump.

Content round the web

A detailed breakdown of what exactly is so wrong with Sia’s directorial debut—here called “vanity project” as it really ought to be. Jessie discusses the problems creators can face when attempting to represent a marginalised group they do not belong to, particularly if they want to represent the entire group allegorically through one character instead of treating that character like an individual person.

A tour through the history of themed restaurants, from haunted cabarets in Bohemian Paris to American family diners banking on racist caricatures to the modern pop-up fandom eateries of today.

Spy x Family: Disarming the Myth of the Nuclear Family – in this comedy series, a spy, an assassin, and a telepath masquerade as the mid-century ideal of the perfect wholesome family, revealing the whole thing as a farce in the process.

America’s Sweetheart: Thoughts on WandaVision – an analysis of where the MCU’s first TV show falls down, chiefly in how it bends backwards to make its protagonist “likeable” at the expense of letting her be morally ambiguous, messy, and interesting.

Wellness for the Self, Wellness for the World: Healin’ Good Precure – a review of 2020’s Precure offering and how it tackles issues of climate change and self-care with nuance despite (or maybe because of) its kid-friendly delivery.

Yuri!!! on ICE and the Revolutionary Portrayal of Queer Slavic Representation – a personal essay about how the positive depiction of Viktor subverts both the stereotypes that usually follow Russian characters around in media, and Russia’s cultural homophobia.

Archivists are Trying to Chronicle Animal Crossing: New Horizons‘ Incredible First Year – there’s no denying that AC:NH was a big part of a lot of people’s pandemic experience, but how does one keep a historic record of a video game like this?

Why Do The Oscars Have a Limited View on Anime? – Best Animated Feature is usually a “lazy” judging category reserved for the latest Disney/Pixar blockbuster, with the occasional token nod to Studio Ghibli. With more anime films coming out in US cinemas, is there potential for a shift?

Anime Versus Rural Australia: A Retrospective – a memoir about a writer from Wagga Wagga discovering Pom Poko and FLCL as a kid, and finding an unexpected resonance between both works and his feelings about his small-town childhood.

March’s “song that’s stuck in my head”

Feeling devious? Looking glamorous? Perhaps… mischievous? And polyamorous? Bop along to this one with me.

And that’s a wrap! I’m back in Premiere Review Town next month, so there will be no big blog posts until May. Take care, everyone!

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Otherside Picnic and Groundbreakingly Goofy Queer Fiction

As a yuri adaptation starring college-aged characters and located squarely in the realm of genre fiction, Otherside Picnic is a rare beastie: while more and more are cropping up, yuri anime remain relatively thin on the ground, and the majority of titles are romances set in high school. The Otherside Picnic novels merely existing, and doing well enough to get a TV adaptation, is an exciting proof of concept, spotlighting that these stories are out there and there’s a definite place for them. With all this riding on it, there was a bubbling need for Otherside Picnic to be exemplary. As well as, of course, fans of the novels waiting eagerly to see the stories they loved come to life, there was an undercurrent of tension, a field of crossed fingers. A chorus of hushed voices saying “please let this be good.”

And you know what? Otherside Picnic is good. But maybe not in the way I expected nor “needed” it to be at first.

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Together, Alone: How Laid-Back Camp Shows Companionship Through Technology

In Winter 2021, Laid-Back Camp’s cast of teenaged camping enthusiasts returned to our screens and to the lush scenery around Mount Fuji. Rin, Nadeshiko, and the rest of their friends set out for a second season of outdoor activities, with all the essentials in tow: tents, tarps, portable stoves, woolly blankets, cup noodles, and… smartphones?

In a show so in love with the great outdoors, the frequent presence of cell phones may seem like an oxymoron. After all, Nature and Technology are often presented as an incompatible dichotomy. So much of the language around camping, hiking, and holidaying in general—in advertisements, pop culture, and conversations where your parents worry that you’re working too hard—emphasize the idea of “switching off” or “disconnecting.” Yet phones are never far away in Laid-Back Camp—in fact, they’re integral to the story and to the growth of relationships between the characters.

Read the full post on Anime Herald!

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Something Like Euphoria

There is a scene in Alison Evans’ Euphoria Kids where one of the protagonists faces a conundrum I’m sure is familiar to a lot of trans people, especially those caught in between “still figuring it out” and “coming out”. The boy—as he is called throughout the novel, as he has not found his true name yet—has to fill out a medical form. This requires, of course, his legal name. But his friend, Iris, suggests that maybe he can make a note for the doctor to only call him by his surname—he’s keeping that, after all, no matter what he discovers his first name to be. It’s a small thing, but it’s a revelation for the boy and in the moment it eases his mind.

On the train home, they have this little exchange, from Iris’ perspective:

I ask the boy, “Do you know about gender euphoria?”

He shakes his head.

“I think, when you smiled after realising you could just use your last name, that might’ve been it.”

“It’s just like, good feelings? About gender?”

“It’s like… the opposite of dysphoria.”

He stares out the window, watching the shops go past. “I’ve only heard of gender dysphoria before.”

“I found out about it a while ago, but yeah. I thought I should let you know.”

He smiles, lost in thought.

(Evans 2020, p. 200 – 201)


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Premiere Review | Tropical Rouge! Precure

What’s it about? The wicked Witch of Delays and her minions have laid waste to the mermaid kingdom beneath the sea, and now have their sights set on conquering the human world. Laura is sent to the surface by the mermaid queen, on a mission to find the legendary Pretty Cures—magical warriors with the strength and shining spirit needed to defeat evil! When she meets an energetic girl named Manatsu, she’s initially not impressed… but Manatsu might just be the motivated, big-hearted hero she’s looking for.

Usually, we don’t cover children’s programming here at AniFem, but the euphoria of Precure being legally available—and simulcast no less!—and the sheer vibrant joy of this premiere is just too great to ignore.

Read the full review on Anime Feminist!

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