The recent controversy around Logan Paul’s decision to film the bodies of the dead in Aokigahara forest has opened up discussion about Japan’s mental health crisis and the ways in which a lot of western culture has diminished, fetishized, or othered that issue. Makoto Kageyama, a former volunteer at Aokigahara, was kind enough to speak with us about their experiences living with mental illness, how the mentally ill are treated in Japan, and how those issues are depicted in anime.
We first encountered Masaki through his video “5 Things You Didn’t Know About LGBTQs in Japan” in which he debunks popular myths about the real history and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in Japan. We linked to it here on AniFem, then started checking out his other videos and social media. Learning more about Masaki, it became clear that he could give us insights into the experience of being not just queer, but a queer activist and self-identified feminist in Japan. We knew we had to interview him, and he was kind enough not only to agree but to respond in both English and Japanese so that we could open this discussion to a wider audience. It’s been a goal of AniFem since the start to showcase the voices of people talking about their own communities, and we are thrilled to be able to start here.