It’s a lovely season for surprises, mess, and surprisingly compelling mess.
Category Archives: Alex Watches
Anime Feminist Recommendations of Winter 2023
This season had plenty of shows we liked, but only a handful that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
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.
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.
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?”
Filed under Alex Watches
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.
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.
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!.
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!
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.