Winter 2023 Three-Episode Check-In

It’s proving to be a fantastic season for girls in fantasy stories, whether they’re falling in love (with each other) or just trying to survive. Come on down and check how some of the recent anime offerings are progressing!

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Anime Feminist’s Top Picks for 2022

From romance to horror, seinen to shoujo, here are the stars that shone brightest from the past year.

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Oops! All Isekai! January ’23 Roundup

Phew, okay, is that it? Was that January? Bye, I guess! It felt like you didn’t stick around for long!

2023 has hit the ground running. Here’s what I got up to this month:

On AniFem

It is once again premiere season! I took a lighter workload this time round, and just covered…

Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill – not necessarily much nutritional value, but a fun light snack.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement – tonally inconsistent to the point of being baffling rather than entertaining.

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale – to be fair, this one’s not an isekai in the portal fantasy sense. But it is a fantasy shoujo romance dealing in some power dynamics that are fraught to say the least.

Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Fall 2022 – while we’re getting swept up in the new wave of content, let’s not forget to look back at the staff favourites from the previous season.

And don’t forget Patreon!

Everyone gets early access to my first blog post of the year, and from tier two upwards you get a short piece of fiction writing every month!

Content to Enjoy

Settle in for a journey through history… or, at least, the way various film and TV makers represented history in the media of 2022.

I always enjoy Mike’s “appropriately unhinged recap” videos, and I do love how they get more elaborate and less hinged each time. Tune in this month for a rundown of Gossip Girl seasons one and two, icons and time capsules of late ’00s teen drama.

This month I learned about “Scamilton”, an illegal performance of the hit musical Hamilton by a Texas Christian group who er… made some adaptational changes.

Your Body is a Haunted House: Hiron Ennes on the Discomfiting Tradition of Medical Horror – the first book I read in 2023 was Hiron Ennes’ Leech, a gothic sci-fi body horror extravaganza whose inspirations are so nicely explored in this article here. Doctors are scary, sure, but simply having a body is a terror of its own!

Orientalism and Occidentalism in Anime – stereotyped treatments of “the East” in the scholarship and pop culture of Europe are worth unpacking, but so too is the treatment of “the West” in Japanese media, all of which carries its own historical, social, and artistic baggage.

Book Releases: LGBT YA Books of January – June 2023 – I’m still doing my best to keep up with upcoming releases, and resources like this are always helpful! Give them a look.

#LoveOzYA Reads We Can’t Wait For in 2023 – and closer to home, here is a list of some of the Australian books in the pipeline this year! What’s that An Unexpected Party anthology they mention at the end, hmm? That sounds interesting…

For the song stuck in my head this month, I’m revisiting a classic.

February’s just around the corner, and 2023 is keeping on keeping on. I’ll see you over there!

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Otherworldly Bodies: Non-human Non-binary Characters in YA Fiction

Originally presented at the Young Adult Studies Association online conference, November 2022.

Transcript: Hello YASA, wherever you are in the world! My name is Alex, and I’m recording today from Ngunnawal country. In this paper I’ll be presenting some work from my recently submitted doctoral thesis, which examined non-binary representation in YA through the lens of mythology-inspired fantasy. Specifically, today I’m going to talk about an issue that crops up when representing groups like non-binary people in fantasy, or other speculative fiction: the idea of the non-human non-binary character. This potentially dallies with a lot of negative conceptions, but I argue it’s also potentially a very playful space to explore gender identity outside of the confines of contemporary realism.

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Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Fall 2022

From hobby shows to historical fantasy, check out the team’s faves from last year’s stacked final season!

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Premiere Review | Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill

What’s it about? Twenty-seven-year-old Mukoda finds himself summoned to a fantasy world, but quickly discarded when his special skill is revealed to be “online grocery” (not very good for saving the kingdom, you see). However, as Mukoda discovers, this absurd ability comes in handy: it allows him to access an online shop from back home in Japan where he can order food and cooking equipment. Mukoda wants to keep this under wraps, but soon attracts the attention of a legendary magical wolf with an insatiable hunger for ginger pork.

While this isn’t the first foodie fantasy—Restaurant to Another World and Delicious in Dungeon spring readily to mind—Campfire Cooking puts in the work to make this concept feel fresh and fun. While it has its share of familiar isekai plot beats, this premiere manages to exude a certain charm that kept me interested. Maybe even hungry for more!

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Premiere Review | Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World For My Retirement

What’s it about? After falling off a bridge, recently-orphaned Mitsuha wakes up in a strange place and realizes she’s developed the ability to jump back and forth between worlds. Thinking about what her deceased older brother would do in the situation, Mitsuha plans to use this “cheat code” to earn money and ensure herself a comfortable life both on Earth and in the fantasy realm.

Since yesterday’s female-led fantasy adventure was such an absolute minefield, I’m pleased to announce that this one is more straightforwardly stupid.

To be fair to Saving 80,000 Gold, it’s not like there’s nothing to like here. It has, as we say in Australia, a red hot go at executing its ideas. But mostly it falls flat and suffers from the inability to pick a consistent tone, making it a bit of a baffling watch—as well as one with some unsettling ethical implications.

Read the full review on AniFem!

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Premiere Review | Sugar Apple Fairy Tale

What’s it about? Five-hundred years ago, humans defeated fairies and forced the magical folk into servitude. Now, fifteen-year-old Anne aspires to be a magic sugar artisan like her deceased mother, and sets off towards the capital to try and prove her skills in a kingdom-wide contest. But the road there is treacherous. Needing a bodyguard, Anne turns reluctantly to the fairy markets, where she buys a dark and mysterious warrior fairy named Shall to protect her.

This is a compelling premiere perhaps… er… undercut by one key, fraught aspect of its premise. Let’s address that elephant in the room first, shall we?

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Twenty-Twenty-Through: December ’22 Roundup

Obligatory I can’t believe it’s the end of the year! end of year post! Once more, dear friends, it’s been a weird and wild ride. There has been plenty of lows in 2022, but there have also been plenty of highs:

Exciting Things I Achieved this year:

  • Handed in my PhD!! At time of writing this I’m still waiting on results, so examiner feedback will officially be a problem for 2023 Alex. But the biggest share of the work is done.
  • Got two short stories published (hilariously, within about a month of each other, even though that’s not the timeline on which they were written)! You can read ‘Legs’ and ‘Coast Roads’ for free online.
  • Ran an independent writing workshop! I put together eight sessions for a local queer organisation and introduced a small group of interested students to the ins and outs of different aspects of writing. Because we secured a grant, I got paid for my time and we were able to offer this workshop for free. All going to plan, a collection of the attendees’ short stories will be going to print next year!
  • Helped run a queer book club at my uni! I kicked things off with three months of fun, discussion-worthy novels and got everyone (well, the dedicated few who consistently turned up—you guys rock) to read Loveless, One Last Stop, and Cemetery Boys.

And hey, I’ve been writing:

All in all, I hope to say that things are looking up, and that there will be many exciting things to share here in the coming twelve months. I hope the same is true for all of you, and I hope that you all managed to get some sort of rest in that strange liminal space between Christmas and New Year.

On the blog

Queer YA Spotlight: Where You Left Us squeezing in one last spotlight post for the year, showcasing Rhiannon Wilde’s gothic-ish tale of two sisters figuring out a family mystery (and their own issues).

The Best Books I Read in 2022 – from fun rom-coms to funky sci-fi, check out my favourite novels from the past trip around the sun! These are always really fun posts to curate, so I hope you all enjoy them.

The Best Anime I Watched in 2022 – from hobby shows to fantasy adventures to… uh… very serious yakuza dramas… here are my favourite anime series from this year.

On AniFem

Girls Doing Stuff: Agency and Motivation in Girls’ Hobby Shows – chill hobby series make up some of my favourite anime, but was it about them that appeals to me so deeply? Read to find out!

Sex Ed 120% Part 1 and Part 2 – a podcast chat about an under-the-radar edutainment manga that aims to address the gaps in Japan’s sex ed curriculum with humour and surprising inclusivity.

And don’t forget Patreon!

For my Tricky Tricksters tier and up, I’m pushing past my nerves and posting excerpts of the new creative project I’m working on! This month, you get to meet Protagonist #3 of The Doorways Book, and finally get a first peek at one of these titular mysterious, magical doorways.

Things to Enjoy on the Internet

In superhero stories, “saving the world” often means making sure the world does not get changed. While this stems from the serialised format that kicked the genre off—resetting the story at the end of the episode/comic book so they can be enjoyed in any order—this has the knock-on effect of making modern superheroes into conservative figures who keep the status quo in place, while attempts at social change or questioning power structures are marked as villainous.

T’is the season to be horrified by the oppressive terrors of patriarchal systems and gendered violence! Here, Maggie compares the original Black Christmas against its 2019 remake/reboot and how the latter updates and plays on the core themes. Pairs nicely with This Ends at Prom‘s podcast episode on the same topic!

“If I Was Born as a Girl…” Transfeminine Desire in Stop!! Hibari-kun – a retrospective on a goofy 1980s rom-com that quite accidentally became a queer icon by virtue of treating its “boy dressed as a girl” heroine with compassion and respect.

Does Toradora! Hold Up Today? – short answer: yes! Long answer: this romcom gets much of its staying power from its strong characters and its focus on their growth.

Please Start Reading Books for What They Are – an evergreen post imploring reviewers—whether professional or personal—to take the genre and demographic context of a work into consideration and to meet the novel where it lives. i.e. maybe don’t complain that the plot of a children’s book feels uncomplicated or that a romance has a neat, happy ending.

Making Up and Making Waves: How Tropical-Rouge! PreCure Rewrote Narratives of Femininity and Fairy Tales – magical girls, cosmetics, and the fairy princess aesthetic have long gone hand in hand, but Ayumi Shinozaki argues here that 2021’s Pretty Cure instalment takes a refreshing approach to these topics.

Answerman: What Happened to Shoujo Anime? – shifting market niches and the notion that girls “grow out of” animation are among the reasons that we’re seeing fewer shoujo adaptations, even though this demographic retains a hungry audience.

Revisiting the Popularity and Cultural Context of Vampire Knight – take a blood-splattered, lace-clad walk down memory lane to the distant year of 2008, and see why this gothic shoujo melodrama serves as a perfect time capsule of the fantasies being sold to teen girls at the time.

I know I posted a Tom Cardy song a couple of months ago, and I really don’t like to double up, but the dreadful truth is I’ve had this one on loop in my brain since the start of December. Please enjoy a very silly and deeply compelling tale of the Old West.

And that’s all for now, and all for the year! I’ll see you all very soon for yet more adventures. Stay safe out there, one and all.


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The Best Anime I Watched in 2022

Here we are, another trip around the sun and another list of anime recommendations! While nowhere near as prolific as some people (I admire the dedication!) I feel like I managed to keep up with a solid set of seasonal shows this year, wired in once more by my work for AniFem and the coverage of my fellow staffers. Note as in previous years that some of the material in these personal reviews is adapted from my season recs over on the site. Make sure you give those articles a read, and keep an eye out for the staff’s forthcoming recommendations from Fall 2022 and from the year overall!

I also dug into a bit of my “classics” backlog, watching some older, iconic shows for the first time. I won’t cover those here, though: it’s difficult for me to add anything to the convo around Neon Genesis Evangelion other than “it was good! It was weird! Shinji is my son!” and I already wrote up my feels about both seasons of K-On! here.

Without further ado, let’s get into my personal faves from 2022, from hobby shows to fantasy adventures to… crime dramas? Technically? Well, see for yourself…

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