[News] Anime Matsuri Moves to Silence Vlogger with Cease & Desist

Have you ever heard of the Streisand Effect? It’s named after the time movie star Barbara Streisand attempted to suppress photos of her Malibu home, leading to the unintended result of those photos becoming even more widely disseminated.

The same goes for why we’re talking about 2015 sexual harassment accusations in 2018. John Leigh, a showrunner for Anime Matsuri—the 7th largest anime convention in North America—is digging up his own accusations by attempting to silence a vlogger who talked about them. It’s a bad look at any time, but especially during the #MeToo era. It’s also an unusual choice considering this scandal was all but forgotten. But, since John Leigh is still talking about it, we’re going to as well.

[Feature] What The Royal Tutor Says About Privilege

Nobody can deny that Bruno is a very smart prince. Out of all the exaggerated personalities showcased in The Royal Tutor, his is certainly the most intellectually inclined. He reads for fun, got a 100% on his tutor Heine’s exam, and of course he wears glasses, the all-purpose sign of an intelligent anime character. But what makes Bruno special is his hyper-awareness of the invisible forces that have allowed him to devote so much time to the pursuit of knowledge.

[News] My Anime List defends rewrite of contributor’s anti-Nazi article

There’s a nasty stereotype that anime fans and Nazis are closely related, as indicated by the number of virulent alt-right trolls with anime avatars you’ll find in any Twitter cesspool. This unfortunate connection all came to a head for My Anime List contributor Reuben Baron when he discovered his November article, “10 Anime And Manga About Kicking Nazi Ass,” had been rewritten in a gentler tone toward Nazi anime characters. The new article was titled “11 Anime And Manga Featuring Nazis.” Baron, who happens to be Jewish, was understandably upset. “If they care more about offending Nazis than offending their own writers, and not even telling them when their work is being edited almost beyond recognition while still keeping our usernames on the byline, then good riddance to their Featured Writers program,” he said. My Anime List, which receives 120,000,000 page views a month, launched their Featured Writers program in 2015 to highlight voices in the anime community. Writers post lists, anime reviews, and informal opinion pieces. Baron’s original article was published on November 29, 2016. It passed editing with one small change—his My Anime List editor asked him not to use the term “alt-right” as a synonym for neo-Nazi, a terminology quibble taking place at other similarly large op/ed sites. In Baron’s original piece, which can still be viewed in a Wayback Machine archive, he included an introduction with his own opinions on Nazis. “We do not accept Nazis. Nazis suck,” Baron wrote originally. Baron has previously written articles poking fun at Judaism and the presidential candidates, and said that topics like religion and politics were not off-limits, as far as he knew. So he was surprised to revisit his article on January 17 and discover a completely different piece of writing. “When I asked my editor why this happened he apologized to me but said it was beyond his control and that someone was ‘really upset’ about the article so they had to change it,” said Baron. Baron also shared a screenshot of the communication with his editor, shown below: Baron told Anime Feminist that the new article doesn’t follow the spirit of his original piece at all and in fact included a new addition to the list, Rudol von Stroheim from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, described as “an unusually positive portrayal of a Nazi soldier.” “They also added a semi-heroic Nazi character onto the list, which does not fit with my original intentions at all,” said Baron. Anime Feminist reached out to My Anime List for comment, and heard back from the site’s parent company, DeNA. Tomoyuki Akiyama, Corporate Communications Manager, told us that My Anime List articles can be updated by an editor at any time. “Articles posted on MyAnimeList are subject to being edited after publishing for quality purposes… The MyAnimeList team, however, regrets that the policy has not been made clear to their writers. In order to make this policy clearer to writers they plan to both update their day-to-day guidelines, along with emailing directly regarding the policy,” he said. Akiyama also confirmed that the reason Baron’s article was edited was because of an internal concern, not a reader complaint. In the screenshot, Baron’s editor tells him somebody was “really upset” about the article. It turns out that was somebody inside My Anime List. “The team did not recognize the way the original article was written as content that helped many users enjoy anime, and did not see the subject matter as anything that should be treated lightheartedly,” Akiyama said. It’s a sign of the times we live in that the phrase “kicking Nazi ass” is no longer uncontroversial enough to be considered lighthearted. Instead, apparently, we have to hear “both sides,” which included the addition of a more positive Nazi character. It’s no wonder Baron wasn’t informed, because, as he told Anime Feminist, he would not have wanted his byline to remain on such an altered piece. My Anime List writers take note: it’s website policy for your article to be edited at any time to better reflect the site’s mission, whether you agree with it or not.

[History] Noa’s Imposter Syndrome in Patlabor

Welcome to Anime Feminist History, in which contributors take turns choosing an older anime series and examining a character, plot point, or scene under a feminist lens. This week, Lauren kicks off the column with a look at Noa Izumi in 1989 mecha show Patlabor! If most giant robot anime are based on masculine stereotypes, Patlabor is based on a feminine one. Usually, mecha are intended as weapons of war, but Labors (as their name implies) were originally intended for municipal tasks like construction and keeping the peace. Of course, we wouldn’t have much of a conflict without the Patrol Labor team using their Labors for the most ridiculous slapstick reasons possible. One of the biggest repeat offenders is Noa Izumi, an energetic, enthusiastic young policewoman who simply adores her “Pat-chan.” Nobody ever expects Noa to be a cop. It’s always played for laughs when Noa informs people (usually men) that she’s actually the pilot of that giant Labor standing over there. Noa’s position as a female protagonist also makes light of the trope that a woman needs to be twice as good as a man to get the same role. Ota Isao is a hothead who is often demonstrated to be laughably incompetent as a Labor pilot but he still has the same job and status as Noa. Usually, Noa’s okay with that. Even if Ota also gets to pilot his own Labor despite her being the one who constantly has to pull him out of scrapes, at least Noa can rest assured that she’s more competent than her teammate in every way. That is, until episode 36, “Noa’s Adventure,” when during target practice, Noa discovers that Ota is twice the marksman she is. He certainly has more experience with shooting—while Noa is hesitant to use her gun within city limits and risk harming the residents, Ota’s temper usually ends up getting the best of him. In “Noa’s Adventure,” it seems to Noa that everyone on the PatLabor team is growing and gaining skills except for her. So when she spots 10,000 yen bills floating downstream on her way back from a food run, she opts not to notify her unit about the potential police case. Instead she sets off by bicycle to apprehend the culprit herself. It’s a sweet episode that shows how much Noa’s teammates worry about and care for her when she doesn’t come back, especially the normally antagonistic Ota. But the major lesson of the episode is that Noa’s insecurities were all in her head. She doesn’t get so much as a slap on the wrist from the chief. And as Asuma points out afterwards, Noa already proved herself in spades during her pivotal battle with the Black Labor. Nobody doubts that she belongs on the team. Noa’s doubts in this episode show her falling into a common trap for high-achieving women—Imposter Syndrome, or the feeling that you are a fraud fooling everyone with a veneer of competence. It’s easy to see why Noa might feel this way when she’s so often treated as an equal to somebody as bumbling as Ota. When you have to be twice as skilled as a man to be considered as good as him, it’s hard to feel like you have any talent at all. Back in 1989 when Patlabor was created, it was more realistic to imagine a future with giant robots than one where women were treated equally all the time! But they were right; issues like Imposter Syndrome are just as critical to discuss today as they were then, especially for women. We still have to worry about whether we’re perceived to be as good as men doing the same thing. We still feel the pressure to keep our professional skills sharpened and stay ahead of the pack, especially as we get closer to an age when employers begin to assume we will become less career focused. Almost three decades later, Noa’s concerns are sadly still relatable, making this 1980s mecha anime surprisingly relevant to women working in the 21st century.   Thanks to our generous patrons we have committed to paying all writers in 2017! However, we are still a little short of the $800 in pledges we need to be able to do that and are relying on you to help us hit that goal by December 31st. Almost half our patrons have pledged just $1 which adds up to a massive $80 every month, it’s an enormous help and appreciated more than you might realise. If you appreciate our work, believe in paying content creators fairly and can spare just $1 a month please become a patron today! 

[Feature] How fan service can attract or repel an audience, and how to tell the difference

There’s a misconception that feminists believe any and all fan service is always bad. But in this feminist’s opinion, fan service goes wrong when it interrupts the mood of the show. Take Keijo!!!!!!!!, my guilty pleasure of this anime season, in which girls don skimpy swimsuits, study “asstronomy,” and use their ample buttocks to knock each other out. I love comedies and over-the-top action, and I knew instantly that I’d find this entire premise hilarious. I love that Keijo!!!!!!!! knows itself. It knows exactly why we’re watching and doesn’t try to be anything else. Sometimes fan service, defined here as the act of giving the fans exactly what they want, hits the mark. Keijo!!!!!!!! is one of those instances, dishing out exactly what it promised. The same goes for Free!, which advertises—and delivers—on plenty of male skin. And for an example of how fan service isn’t always sexual, let’s bring up a truly wild mecha anime, GaoGaiGar, which is undeniably gratuitous with its slick giant robot battles and rewarding explosions. Fan service can be exciting, sexy, fun, or all three—when it’s implemented well. I recently enjoyed Monster Musume, the unlikely and over-the-top tale of an everyman who is compelled to care for a menagerie of mythical half-women who are all crazy for him. It was a comedy, and often a surprisingly sexy one. Yes, I get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to watch a snake girl try on lingerie or meet a dominatrix spider lady, but nobody is going to go into Monster Musume without getting exactly what the show’s premise implies. Meanwhile, I was extremely put off by certain parts of God Eater. This video game series turned anime is known for its unusual, beastial enemy designs, its post-apocalyptic futurescape, and its stunning, almost painterly art. So I was extremely bothered by the anime’s constant visual focus on some female characters’ breasts. Major Amamiya is portrayed in the games and parts of the show as a competent leader and combatant, but we see more of her breasts than her face. I’m not saying that strong women can’t be sexy, but it seems as if the show is undercutting itself, leaving me pondering its jarring camera angles instead of immersing myself in its story. “Wait, didn’t you just say you liked Monster Musume, which was full of boobs?” Yes, but have we considered that there’s a time and a place for boobs, and a serious war drama isn’t it? When I use the term “fan service” in a derogatory way, it’s not because I hate fan service, far from it! It’s because I am critiquing the creator’s understanding of what type of content actual serves fans of a show. When the girls of Keijo!!!!!!!! flaunt their considerable assets, it’s totally in line with the story. But when an otherwise serious show suddenly points the camera at a female character’s panties, it’s saying several unfortunate things: The creators have no confidence in their product. It reeks of self-doubt on the storyteller’s part. “Don’t like our storyline? Let’s toss in some skin just in case.” The creators don’t know why we’re watching, and are hoping to compensate for that with unasked-for sex appeal, ultra-violence, etc. It’s tone-deaf. In the case of female skin, the creators may believe that this is the only way to make women interesting. “She’s a magic-wielding soldier from the future, but if you still think that’s boring, take a look at her boobs.” Imagine you’re watching Dragon Ball Z. Goku is launching into his Kamehameha attack and the camera goes closer, closer… until it lines right up at his crotch. To me, that would say “Fans, we realize this is a real yawn, so let’s throw in some sex appeal to spice things up.” This would be ridiculous because it would intentionally pull viewers out of the story. It would be ridiculous because Dragon Ball Z already HAS fan service—depicting the craziest attacks possible. Adding gratuitous sexuality on top of that would just take away from that. Fan service can often be the product of sloppy storytelling: give the fans what they think they want in order to compensate against larger issues. Not all fan service is bad. But the fan service that works for one show isn’t going to serve the fans of another. If I turn on Gundam, I want to see some robot explosions, complete with twisted metal carnage. And if I turn on Keijo!!!!!!!! and don’t see a “Butt Guillotine,” I’m going to be disappointed. Giving fans what they want is awesome. The problem is creators often don’t know what that is. This may seem like a surprising proposal from a Monster Musume fan, but it’s time for anime to stop relying on fan service as an all-purpose Band-Aid. It simply doesn’t work in every show. For me, the shower scenes in Izetta the Last Witch feel as out of place as if the characters in Yuri!!! On Ice punctuated their skating routines with Michael Bay style explosions. For fan service to be successful, it has to align with the audience’s expectations. What is a show advertising in its promos, its  opening credits, its first episode? Did we come to the show for a space opera and get butts instead? Did we come for butts and get a straight-laced period drama? Part of the reason AniFem exists is because there’s very little you can do to verify the absence of fan service other than watch the show, so some of the reviews here attempt to remedy that by warning fans in advance. That shouldn’t have to be the case! Certain art styles and storytelling cues should be enough to let us know who a show is for, and who is going to be completely put off by surprise fanservice. Of course, this means admitting that not every anime show has something for everyone—and being OK with that. I’d rather see shows go all out to please their intended audiences than dilute themselves …