A Cruel Angel’s Thesis Revisions: April ’23 Roundup

It’s been a crunchy month of cold weather, hot tea, and spicy, spicy thesis revisions. But darn it, I did ’em! They’ve been handed in and are, all things falling into place, en route to the final stamp of approval they need before it’s DONE-done. Wish me one final bucket of luck!

I got to do a bit of blog writing this month, but (much as I want to jump in and show my work off, ha) I’m going to stick to my plan of taking May off. I know, this place will look so desolate and devoid!! But it will give me some breathing room to find my groove again and stack up a nice queue for June and beyond.

For now, though, let’s dive in and see what I published this past month:

On AniFem

Aro/Ace Representation in Anime and Manga, Part 2 – the concluding round of this great discussion, of which I’m very proud. After setting the scene and talking more broadly about aromantic and/or asexual coding and characters, we zero in and talk about Mine-kun is Asexual and Is Love the Answer?

Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Winter 2023 – before we head into the new stuff, make sure to check back and read about our favourites from last season!

As for the new premiere reviews, here’s what I covered:

Alice Gear Aegis Expansion – allegedly an epic sci-fi, not that you’d be able to tell from watching the first episodes…

Insomniacs After School could be a very tender story about isolation and mental health, but could also be a “quirky girl pulls boy out of sadness hole” romantic fantasy.

MASHLE: Magic and Muscle – it’s called the Magic Realm because it is a world that has magic!

Otaku Elf – a goofy premise that’s carried on surprisingly solid, endearing character writing.

Skip and Loafer – an earnest, adorable coming-of-age story about a nervous overachiever moving to the big city.

Yuri is My Job! – gremlin protagonists and genre commentary? Sign me up!

Web fun

“Oh, it flopped” is common terminology in media criticism, but what does that actually mean—and does it mean that the work in question had no impact and no creative worth? Brendan of Wait in the Wings breaks this down specifically in the context of Broadway musicals and opens up a really insightful discussion. (Have I shared this one before? You’re getting it again. It’s a good ‘un)

Shiki is a delightfully chilling anime that I haven’t seen in years, but was happy to revisit with the help of Bess here. She goes into what exactly makes this show so scary, from the way it uses light and sound to draw us into the characters’ claustrophobic emotional states to the psychology behind the clash between townsfolk and vampires.

With so much anime in the world, how do you pick what to watch? Well, one answer to that is making an algorithm that picks for you. As this fella has explored, this leads to mixed results, but there’s always some interesting history to unearth and something insightful to discuss.

The Promising Return of the Australian Teen Onscreen – despite the coming-of-age story being a pop culture staple, media that depicts a uniquely Australian adolescence has been relatively few and far between; though that might be changing.

What Role are You Playing? Communication, Queerness, and Neurodivergence in Yuri is My Job! – in honour of the anime coming out, let’s revisit Vrai’s great piece on the many-layered miscommunications that underpin this series.

How Zines Paved the Way for Asexual Recognition – in honour of Ace Awareness Day, let’s revisit this article chronicling some of the history of asexual self-expression in self- or indie-published collections, some going back as far as the 1970s.

Looking Back on Newtype USA 15 Years Later – Kennedy reminisces on the rise and sudden fall of one of the most prominent and iconic English-language anime magazines, and how it serves as a time capsule of its era.

‘Daisy Jones’ and Hollywood’s Fictional Band Problem – what exactly goes into making real music for fake bands, and, most importantly, convincing the audience that this music is enough to rocket said band to stardom?

Speaking of music, here’s the song stuck in my head this month: it’s the opening theme to Otaku Elf, but it’s also a great, funky little tune (and music video) in itself!

And that’s all for now! I’ll see you all in a little while. Take care out there, okay?

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Spring 2023 Three-Episode Check-In

It’s a lovely season for surprises, mess, and surprisingly compelling mess.

Read my thoughts, and those of my co-staffers, here!

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Anime Feminist Recommendations of Winter 2023

Prince Sieg standing in the courtyard of his fancy fantasy school, looking up towards the sky. Chibi versions of Endo and Kobayashi pop in speech bubbles around his head

This season had plenty of shows we liked, but only a handful that stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Read the full post here!

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Premiere Review | Insomniacs After School

What’s it about? Nakimi Ganta experiences insomnia, awake all night in a spiral of anxieties and exhausted when he’s at school during the day. Looking at his seemingly happy-go-lucky classmates, Nakimi assumes he’s the only one who’s going through anything like this. However, when he attempts to take a nap in the school’s abandoned (and apparently haunted) observatory, he finds an unexpected kindred spirit in a freewheeling, upbeat girl named Isaki.

This is a very grounded, quiet premiere that holds a lot of potential and a lot of room for fumbling the ball. How it fares will depend on a couple of key things: how it handles its love interest, Isaki, and how it handles the theme of mental health and isolation that underpins the whole premise.

Read the full review here!

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Premiere Review | Otaku Elf

What’s it about? Koito has just turned 16 and taken on the role of miko at her family’s shrine. But the goddess she has to attend to is a little unconventional: she’s Elda, a 621-year-old elf summoned from another world, who wants nothing more than to spend her days playing video games and painting figurines.

If this show had been a one-trick pony, relying solely on the goofy juxtaposition between Elda’s ethereal elegance and her geeky hobbies… well, it would have been fine, but that joke would have gotten tired pretty quickly. Otaku Elf is not content to do that, however, and seems to understand that it’s endearing character dynamics and deeper themes that keep a story like this afloat.

Read the full review here!

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Premiere Review | MASHLE: Magic and Muscle

What’s it about? In a world where magic is commonplace, Mash is Not Like Other Kids by virtue of having no magic powers at all. But Mash has something else, something that might just be more powerful than the most intricate, legendary spell: he’s BUFF.

Fantasy allows us to ask exciting, imaginative “what if?” questions, like “what if this guy punched a wizard in the face? Would that be funny or what?”

Read the full review here!

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Premiere Review | Yuri Is My Job!

What’s it about? Determined to be loved by everyone she meets and to eventually land herself a comfortable life married to a rich man, Hime puts on a cute, angelic façade. When she stumbles into a job at Liebe Girls Academy, a café where the wait staff roleplay as dainty young ladies from an old-fashioned girls’ private school, Hime should be right at home. But try as she might, no matter how much effort she puts into acting adorable, she can’t charm her co-worker Mitsuki—who claims to despise Hime as soon as she switches off her sweet, elegant work persona.

Oh, there’s some fun to be had with this premise. Firstly, there’s something delectable about Hime’s greedy self-awareness, and how she’s determined to use the traditional expectations of cuteness and femininity to her social and financial advantage. There’s also potential for some great meta commentary and satire in Café Liebe, where the wait staff are quite literally performing an idealized girlhood. Likewise, the staff are play-acting sugar-coated, sanitized tropes of intimacy and affection for an eager audience—riffing on relationship dynamics familiar from a long history of Class S and so-called “pure” yuri.

Read the full review here!

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Premiere Review | Skip and Loafer

What’s it about? Mitsumi moves from a tiny town in Ishikawa Prefecture to bustling big city Tokyo for high school, with grand ambitions of graduating top of her class, studying law, and saving rural Japan from decline. Despite being so sure of her life goals, Mitsumi’s first day of school doesn’t exactly go to plan. But a laid-back, sweet-natured boy steps in to help her—so maybe, even if things don’t stay perfectly on track, they might just end up okay.

Skip and Loafer is cute as a button. This premiere is characterized by gorgeous backdrops and naturalistic animations, punctuated now and then by some truly fantastic Goofy Faces and cartoony flourishes that take us inside Mitsumi’s strung-out headspace. She’s immediately an endearing female lead: a nervous overachiever who’s not defined by her anxiety, and who balances “competent and smart” with “hot mess” in a believable and funny way.

Read the full review here!

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Premiere Review | Alice Gear Aegis Expansion

What’s it about? Inspired by her personal idol, Nodoka sets out to become an Actress: a young woman capable of wielding high-tech weapons and fighting the aliens that threaten humanity.

HIDIVE’s blurb for this series throws all sorts of cool concepts at you: alien invasion! Mech suits! Humanity fighting for its survival in the battlefield of space! If all that gets you hyped up for some sci-fi action, you’re probably going to be… a little disappointed. Alice Gear Aegis Expansion tosses about 30 seconds of space-mech-fight at you in its opening moments, then snap transitions into 22 minutes of zany slice-of-life shenanigans in a setting and art style that brings to mind New Game!.

Read the full review here!

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Podcast | Ace/Aro Representation in Anime and Manga – Part 2

Join me, Dee, and Cy as we return to our discussion of asexual and aromantic coding, and dive deep into the works of Uta Isaki!

Listen to the episode here!

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