More premieres! Featuring my far-and-away pick of the season. Like last time, I have a quick sum-up of the review and a link to the longer one if you want a more detailed breakdown.
It’s that time of year again! I’m absolutely crushed under the weight of the premieres this season–good and bad. Here’s the first batch, summarized in a sentence with links to the longer review, and you can look forward to more in the coming week.
Neo Yokio—an anime-style Netflix miniseries written by the lead singer of Vampire Weekend, steered by the executive producer who was also behind Metalocalypse and Superjail!, and starring Jaden Smith—was released this Thursday to great…well, there were a lot of tweets about it, anyway. The series revolves around Kaz Kaan, an exorcist and member of the “neo riche,” as he battles very relatable concerns like purchasing a tuxedo that’s slightly the wrong shade and having to clear out a dead relative’s house in the Hamptons. Some have defended the series as satire, some have embraced it as camp, and some have settled in to watch the garbage fire secondhand.
This was not a series to be watched alone, so I enlisted fandom academic and acerbic wit (and, full disclosure, my partner) Dorothy Kingswood to help me truck through all six episodes. The experience left us four hours closer to death; hopefully our discussion will shed some light on the baffling fumble of execution that is Neo Yokio.
Made in Abyss is frequently one of the most breathtaking shows of the season (you might recall Dee’s glowing premiere review), juggling gorgeous cinematography and dark fairy tale elements with a grim but (thus far) not hopeless narrative. Its young lead, Riko, is an endearing sometimes-crybaby who never gives up or lets her fear get in her way; and the show has also played with gender fluidity, featuring two nongendered characters whose designs contrast feminine-coded presentation with masculine-coded pronouns (a shy child who wears dresses and uses the politely masculine “boku”; a fuzzy bunny-person who wears pink and uses the casually masculine “oira”). Even when it’s frustrating, I’ve never wanted to tear my eyes away.
Unfortunately, it’s also a show whose flaws are all the more glaring in comparison to its moments of excellence. Discussing those flaws offers a unique challenge, however, as many of the show’s failings are cloaked beneath a layer of in-narrative justification; in other words, it makes sense on the surface as to why these things are happening in the plot. But no media exists in a vacuum, and justifying a trope doesn’t stop it from playing into broader harmful trends.
CONTENT WARNING for nudity and discussions of sexual harassment. SPOILERS for events in Made in Abyss Episodes 1-9.
Summer is turning to fall, and so we return to those garbage vampires of my heart doing….actually, remember the World Tour part of Interview with the Vampire that was wisely cut from the film? Yeah, this is that again; except that Lestat is the Dashing Hero who actually knows a single scrap of something that he refused to tell Louis and…no. No, no. I can’t get into this yet. Now is not the time. But soon, dear readers. Very soon.
As Dream Daddy continues to enjoy considerable well-deserved acclaim as well as a booming fandom, I found myself thinking of other western dating sims that flew a bit more under the radar. It’s certainly no crime that DD’s young writing staff garnered the producorial support of the Game Grumps, allowing their sweet, sincere game further reach. But there are also other, earlier western dating sims who’ve tried to write more inclusively—going at least as far back as Hanako Games’ Magical Diary in 2011. Today I want to spotlight Date Nighto’s 2016 game Hustle Cat, which won my heart with its low-key but empathetic romances and fantasy elements. And also, its literal cat people.
I hosted an analysis of Wandering Son, one of the very few anime and manga to focus on the experience of growing up trans in Japan, and was joined by some special guests: including ANN’s Jacob Chapman; Rachel “Matt” Thorn, who translated the WS manga, and Youtuber Cayla Coats. I’m very proud to have been able to facilitate and take part in the conversation that ensued.