A huge stack of premieres, schoolgirl exploitation, and anti-consumer behavior.
Tone deaf and a waste of a potentially powerful premise, but unlikely to murder anyone’s children in their sleep.
Sweet, simple, and straightforward, but also over-stuffed with characters and hard to tell what its overall purpose or tone will be.
Abysmally slow-paced, but could be a nice, easy-going, quiet show if that’s your thing.
The season’s strongest case for “yup, it’s okay.”
Cute club tournament show. Shame about the panty jokes, transphobia, and looming Trinity Syndrome.
It’s really bo-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Wants to be Free! and fails on basically every level.
A little underdeveloped, but sparkles with future potential and imaginative visuals.
Maybe…don’t try to make a fun-time battle anime about thinly veiled WWI.
Complete(ly amazing) campy garbage.
The dark fairy tale Best in Show contender.
The other Best in Show contender, though this one is a sports/slice-of-life series.
Just smell that contempt for queer and female audiences wafting off it.
Sincere, energetic, and spotlighting the good that women as fans can do.
Some good direction and bad decisions average out to something distinctly okay.
Really solid action premiere with some jarring moe elements.
Good promise continually shredded by bad execution and some seriously worrying narrative choices.
Sexualized elementary school students. ‘Nuff said.
Checking back in with the most promising Spring titles now that the season’s over.
Has the usual LN adaptation warning signs, but is also pleasantly sincere thus far.
How’s this typhoon of new titles hitting you, AniFam?
Dragon Maid’s reverse-isekai formula manages to hit home on the experience of living in a foreign country.
One final element about life as a foreigner in Japan – one that the show gets so, so right, and that I assume applies to expatriates in any country – is the absolute necessity of having a space and friends who you can cut loose with. Tohru is, and will always be, a dragon. She may live among humans and even pass as human if you don’t look closely, but she will never be human. She is singularly devoted to Kobayashi and is committed to spending her life with her, but she also needs time to relax from human standards and be a dragon. This is where her friends come in – the moments where she can “play rough” with Kanna, Lucoa, and Fafnir, without worrying about human frailty, are some of the show’s most joyful moments. Playing a dragons-only game of dodgeball, frolicking in a wide, grassy field with Kanna, and racing at the beach are essential to Tohru’s joy and well-being.
“KADO: The Right Answer” Should’ve Been a Dating Sim (Crunchyroll)
KADO was an okay sci-fi, but it seriously missed its calling as a gender-balanced dating sim.
It has all the hallmarks of a VN adaptation: the main character, Kojiro Shindo, is hypercompetent in his field and a constant source of admiration despite being fairly bland in personality; the early plot is quite talky and concept-driven, but the important plot twists come down to how far Shindo’s relationships have progressed with his potential love interests; and the show’s ending plays on each of those relationships without quite playing on a happily-ever-after with any of them. In other words, KADO the anime gave us the Neutral Ending.
The ending to KADO was alright, but anyone can tell you the Neutral Ending is the least satisfying one in a dating sim. We’re not here for your vaguely-considered themes on communication and cultural exchange, KADO, we’re here for the smooching! And also the pretty great CG body horror, if I’m being honest. Fortunately, we need not leave it at that. Let us peek through the veil at the Visual Novel that might have been (and might still be, TOEI, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down here).
As we mentioned in a previous link dump, corporations are currently working more effectively than the Japanese government to provide support for queer citizens/employees. This is from the company’s own website, of course, so take it with a grain of salt.
For co-founder Annika, the emergence of officially-recognized LGBT groups in Japanese companies is an important step in the campaign for greater social equality.
“Setting a corporate example is very powerful in Japan. In a society that traditionally values a certain level of collectivism, it can be challenging for individuals to enact social change on their own. When respected homegrown companies like Rakuten move behind a cause, they can push societal change and combat stereotypes in a very pervasive way. As a company, we are in a unique position to make positive change.”
Are Japanese Corporations Truly Turning Their Attention to LGBT? (Takurei’s Room)
A more critical and probing look at corporate efforts, and how the supposed dedication to inclusion might or might not work in practice.
Japanese companies conducting business at the Tokyo Games have adopted an anti-LGBT discrimination clause in their “procurement code”, stating that “Discrimination towards LGBT individuals is banned, and their rights must be respected.”
However, is this clause enough?
Mr. Matsunaka claims that the clause lacks any specific details, and as such, many companies have sought his council, claiming that “they are unsure of how to carry out the policy”.
Saiyuki is one of the biggest action series to find explosive popularity with a female audience (even if it often failed in showing great treatment to its female characters). Our own Dee gives a pretty amazing recounting.
Saiyuki is too gleefully ridiculous, both in terms of world-building and staging, for me to take it too seriously or champion it as A Great Classic That Everyone Should Try. Frankly, if you read “a jeep that’s actually a dragon” and didn’t at least crack a smile, you probably should have walked away right there.
Even so, with its raging battles, skewed sense of humor, smokin’ hot anti-heroes, and willingness to dive head-first into sensationalized but nevertheless sincere explorations of trauma, depression, community, and identity, it scratches a particular itch and does so very effectively. Saiyuki is intense and bombastic, as overloaded with bullets as it is with feelings. It’s stylish, heartfelt, top-tier trash, and I can’t wait to roll around in it all over again. Lock and reload, gang. It’s gonna be a blast.
The horrific mass-murder at a care facility for the intellectually disabled revealed a sense of the deeper antipathy and disgust many in Japanese society feel for those living with disabilities.
Ishiji, 49, has undergone hardship since she was young. In the past, people felt entitled to say to her, “Stop speaking in a condescending manner. You are supported by taxpayers’ money,” or “Be thankful.”
The day before handing out the flyers, she and her friends agreed to stop if they are harassed.
Part of Ishiji’s defense posture owes to the fact that antipathy toward those with disabilities is not unique to Uematsu, who had even received approbation online for the murders, with user comments such as: “A great job!” and “(His deed is) worth winning (the government-sponsored) People’s Honor Award.”
When shoujo is good, it is very very good, and when it is bad, it’s horrific. This series will tally multiple series by a set of recurrent troubling tropes and see how they stack up.
I have three criteria for picking series: They must 1) be licensed in the US, 2) available in full at my local library, and 3) have the main character involved in a romantic relationship.
When doing projects like this, I tend to be systematic so that I don’t get overwhelmed by options. I’m starting by working alphabetically through Viz’s Shojo Beat catalog, starting with Beauty is the Beast and Black Bird. Every week, I will add a new series, until I hit my weekly capacity. At that point, series will be replaced after completion. Each volume will receive a score based on how many incidences there are of abusive behavior, working from the list provided by The National Domestic Violence Hotline. I also include date of publication and Japanese publisher, to see if there are identifiable patterns with that.
Tokyo’s new ‘JK’ ordinance takes aim at schoolgirl exploitation (The Japan Times)
Outlawing joshi kosei services hasn’t ended the practice, just changed the venue. Broader measures and counselling services are part of the next step.
After calling on a “JK rifure” (reflexology) shop claiming to offer pseudo-therapeutic bed-sharing or massage services, a reporter waited inside a room rented in a building used by a range of businesses. The uniformed 19-year-old who arrived at the door said she attends college in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
After agreeing to answer some questions, she said she had been working at a family restaurant during high school but decided to go down the JK path because she makes much more money this way.
“The pay is totally different. You have to be an idiot to work in a regular job,” she said.
But when asked about her future, her gaze dropped.
“I don’t have dreams,” she said. “I wonder if it’s okay for me to continue with this kind of work.”
The importance of telling uncomfortable stories (Otaku Journalist)
History can be selective, and that can be a dangerous path that leads to erasing stories of the oppressed.
Finally, I asked the museum proprietors about it, an older man and woman who have both lived in Cass their whole lives. Turns out, even though the lumber company employed black people in the least desirable jobs, they did not provide housing for them, and historians did not think the black part of town, with its small, rickety houses, was worth preserving. Eventually that whole part of town, which was on the lowest elevation, washed away in a 1980s flood, and the entire black population, I was told, “moved away.”
Fortunately, the curators still had their memories, and told me some colorful racist anecdotes about Cass right after the town’s school integrated in the ‘50s (believe it or not, West Virginia was one of the first states to desegregate schools). But when I asked about why the black residents weren’t part of the historical exhibit, they explained that “Colored Bottom” had its own church, its own stores, and for a while, its own school, so it probably had its own photos, too. Unfortunately, I can’t find even a mention of this part of the town when I look online. This is a part of history that makes people uncomfortable, so it’ll probably just be forgotten.
Few to no support structures are in place for children with language difficulties, leaving the task up to private groups or individuals.
An increasing number of foreign nationals have been coming to Japan to work, with many bringing their families as well, says Yoshimi Kojima, associate professor in educational sociology at Aichi Shukutoku University. Children in those households need support in learning Japanese.
An education ministry survey shows that as of May 2016 there were 43,947 children — including 9,612 Japanese — across Japan who were in need of support in learning the Japanese language. Aichi Prefecture had the most such children in the fiscal 2016 survey.
Children with language difficulties often stop attending classes and are susceptible to delinquency, Kojima says. The problem is not visible and public support is still lacking as their parents come from a minority and have no voting rights.
Bonus: For the anime industry, the streaming revolution is both a blessing and a curse (Los Angeles Times)
An excellent all-around article on the effect of Netflix and Amazon muscling into the streaming game with a lot of money and not a lot of concern for consumers.
The streaming giants “are looking to gain subscribers. We’re a brand-building company,” [Viz vice president Brian Ige] said.
For fans, the plethora of streaming options can create a headache since services frequently negotiate exclusive deals for the most popular shows, resulting in a highly segmented market.
“Normally, competition is good for consumers,” said Christopher Macdonald, publisher and CEO of the Anime News Network, an industry news site. But anime buffs — many of whom are young with limited disposable income — are now forced to make hard choices or shell out more money in order to catch all of their favorite titles.
“The loser is the consumer, unfortunately.”
It’s always great to hear from Japanese fans on feminist issues. This particular tweet is on content in Shonen Jump, with a focus on the sexualized discomfort of the female characters.
— 中 (@kanakanakana35) July 4, 2017
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