Disney+’s Exclusive Anime Are an Odd Fit for the Company

In October of last year, Disney+ announced plans to stream anime globally on its platform. Only four have been announced so far; two aired in the Summer 2022 season while two have yet to be released. Those anime are Summertime Rendering, Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall and Tatami Time Machine Blues and Twisted Wonderland.

The first two titles are currently streaming exclusively on the Japanese server of Disney+ but have yet to be brought over Stateside. But now that some audiences have gotten a chance to familiarize themselves with the shows in question, it’s left many scratching their heads as to why these shows in particular were chosen for Disney’s streaming platform.

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Summertime Rendering Combines Horror With Fanservice

In Summertime Rendering, Protagonist Shinpei returns home to a seemingly peaceful island for the first time in years to attend his childhood friend’s funeral. He soon learns that her death was no accident and gets involved in a mystery that puts everyone around him in great danger. With the addition of R-rated films like Deadpool and TV-MA shows like Daredevil, Disney+ is no longer a stranger to graphic depictions of violence or sexual themes. What they do still seem to be averse to, however, is the sexualization of minors — and unfortunately, Summertime Rendering has a lot of it.

Ushio is almost always seen wearing a swimsuit, so much so that it’s become something of an iconic look for her. Her younger sister, Mio, doesn’t fare any better as she’s subject to frequent panty shots throughout the series. She also gets hit by the clichéd and worn-out trope of being accidentally walked in on while showering. Both girls are still in high school, with Mio being one of the story’s younger characters. In other words, Summertime Rendering has the two things that almost every non-anime fan thinks every anime has: violence and the sexualization of minors. Suffice it to say, it may not be the best entry point for many viewers — especially parents looking for something wholesome to watch with their kids.

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Tatami Time Machine Blues Is Not a Standalone Series

Tatami Time Machine Blues is the upcoming sequel to 2010’s The Tatami Galaxy. While the entirety of The Tatami Galaxy is currently available for streaming on Funimation, it is not available on Disney+, making it yet another poor entry point for new fans. There’s also a spin-off film titled The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl, which is also unavailable on Disney+ but is currently streaming on HBOMax. While the film does share a universe with The Tatami Galaxy, it focuses on a completely different plot and is not necessary for viewing Tatami Time Machine Blues, although it is a neat addition for fans of the series.

Both The Tatami Galaxy and The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl have received a TV-MA rating, which should give a good idea on what kind of rating Tatami Time Machine Blues will receive once it’s officially released in English. But unlike Summertime Rendering, the main cast for this series are all college-aged, so the mature themes that are explored don’t seem as inappropriate. Really, the main issue with this show’s addition to Disney+’s catalogue is that it’s a sequel that necessitates watching a series that isn’t available on the same platform.

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Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall Is Neither Standalone Nor Free of Fanservice

Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall is meant to be a reboot of the original Black Rock Shooter anime rather than a direct sequel. With that in mind, it isn’t wholly necessary to watch the original 2012 series to understand what’s going on here, making it at least more accessible than Tatami Time Machine Blues. That said, it would still benefit audiences to gain access to both the original series and OVA, much in the same way that all of Disney’s other reboots are viewable alongside their original iterations.

Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall’s other main problem is similar to Summertime Rendering: the sexualization of young girls. The title character in particular wears very little clothing, consisting of just a bikini top and incredibly short shorts. While Black Rock Shooter’s outfit has always been known to be relatively revealing, her original design at least gave her a long coat to give her some level of modesty. This iteration ditches the coat for a scarf instead.

Other characters like Dead Master and Strength, who had more conservative designs in the past, now sport new fanservice-laden designs. Dead Master wears a tight, full bodysuit that shows ample cleavage and practically hugs her slim figure. Strength’s clothes are literally in tatters that show a lot of skin, particularly in the chest and crotch areas. Looking at the main promo image with Black Rock Shooter front and center will likely be enough to deter many parents, even if the show manages to avoid a TV-MA rating.

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Where Star Wars Visions and Twisted Wonderland Stand

Star Wars Visions and Twisted Wonderland have an advantage over the other anime listed in that they’re IPs owned by Disney, so much of the shows’ contents get approval from the company itself. They’re also both based on massively popular existing IPs, so there was already a built-in audience to appeal to. So unsurprisingly, Star Wars Visions fits in just fine with the rest of the library already available on Disney+ and a second season has already been confirmed to be in the works.

Twisted Wonderland, on the other hand, draws inspiration from classic Disney works instead of being directly related to them. It takes place in an all-boys magic high school that the player is magically transported to. It features a lot of nods and easter eggs to classic Disney films. The mobile game has proven to be massively successful in Japan, so much so that official merchandise has started popping up in Tokyo Disneyland. It was also heavily promoted in this year’s Anime Expo and D23 Expo.

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Twisted Wonderland‘s anime adaptation has yet to be released, but it is unlikely to draw many parental concerns, despite it gaining some renown as “that Disney game where the villains turn into hot anime boys.” The game itself is very tame, earning it an “Ages 4+” rating on the Apple app store with an E10+ rating on the Google Play store. The boys in-game are also not actually alternate versions of popular Disney villains — they merely draw influence from them, with some even drawing inspiration from the “good guys” like the Sultan from Aladdin or the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Time will tell if Disney+ will make good on its word to eventually bring these third-party anime titles to the west, or if they’ll end up backing out. There’s also the possibility that these titles may be censored or cut. Regardless of what Disney intends to do with the currently announced batch of anime, Disney+ has already stated that it has plans to dip more into the anime market in the future. But whether or not they will continue this venture with oddball third party titles or using their own IPs remains to be seen.

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