We are now four months old, the winter season is well underway, and it is time we got back into the swing of things! To keep these posts regular they will be under new management effective immediately, so you can expect them every Tuesday without fail… starting next Tuesday.
To give the new owner a clean slate to start from, here are the links from the first week of February only:
[Feature] The Powerful Women of Trigun
A tribute to the women of the Trigun manga and their role and agency in the story by long time reader and new contributor Elena M. Aponte.
[Discourse] Why aren’t problematic translations fixed?
A look at the small but important change between the sub and dub of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and how translations often come with heteronormative assumptions.
[AniFemTalk] Yuri anime and manga
In light of the Dragon Maid dub, a discussion on readers’ favorite and least favorite things about the Yuri/GL genre.
Victory on ice: why Yuri!!! on ICE deserves to be Anime of the Year (Little Anime Blog)
Elisabeth O’Neill responds to the debate over Yuri!!! on ICE’s win in the Crunchyroll year end poll, arguing in favor of the show’s merits beyond the so-called ‘yaoi effect.’ “Such accusations only prove a despicable ignorance of the full extent of the show’s reach and impact. Straight and queer people of all genders, pro figure skaters, fans and newcomers to the sport were communicating, befriending and supporting each other, and continue to do so now as we ride the shockwaves of Yuri!!! on ICE the cultural phenomenon.”
January 2017 update: What’s with all the hate against Yuri!!! on ICE? (Frogkun.com)
Frog-kun also had a view on this issue. “I liked Yuri and Victor as much as anyone, but their relationship was actually the least compelling part of the story for me. There were so many other things that made this anime so great to watch, like the attention to detail and the colourful characters, but this all gets ignored when the show is dismissed as “fujoshi bait”. It seems like yet another case of online anime fans getting sniffy at shows that have a vocal female fanbase. I’m saying this even though some parts of the Yuri on Ice fandom freak me out, if I have to be completely honest.”
My Tsundere Life (Heroine Problem)
Our own Caitlin Moore relates her personal history with the tsundere archetype and her feelings on how it has evolved. “The media I consumed growing up – Clarissa Explains It All, Animorphs, horse novels, a huge variety of Disney movies, and so on – showed me how to be a kind girl, a smart girl, an empathetic girl, even a tough girl – but there seemed to be nothing out there for a weird, awkward, temperamental girl. I felt like I was wandering through life without a guidebook, until one day I discovered Ranma ½.”
The Worlds of Natsume Ono (Anime News Network)
Rebecca Silverman works to nail down exactly what it is about the work of Natsume Ono, author of the manga for currently airing ACCA: 13 plus an extensive back catalog, which draws you in. “What is it that is so appealing about her work? I would say that at the very least it is the air of complex simplicity that she imbues both her stories and art with, a deceptive quality that makes you think you’re barely reading anything before you realize that you’ve actually been given a lot to ponder. With her loosely interconnected tales on themes such as love (both romantic and platonic), luxury, and belonging, Ono creates intertwined worlds both interior and exterior that we can relate to, even if we don’t quite realize it at the time we’re reading.”
Tokyo’s Underpaid Animators Find a Home Thanks to Crowdfunding (Otaku USA)
Matt Schlev visits the dormitory for low-income animators crowdfunded by the NPO Animator Supporters. “Douga-men (so they’re called, regardless of gender) make about ¥200 ($2) per frame. New animators can manage about 200 to 300 frames a month, meaning they take in less than $600. Not only is that less than a month’s rent in west Tokyo, where most anime studios are centered, it’s well below the city’s minimum wage. It may sound unbelievable, but making less than a part-timer at McDonald’s is a very real scenario for many newbie animators in Japan’s anime industry.”
Creative Spotlight: Kunihiko Ikuhara [Part 4] (Crunchyroll)
Brandon Teteruck gives an overview of Ikuhara’s latest work, Yurikuma Arashi, and its goals of cultural critique. “Ideologically, Yurikuma Arashi is a work that opposes the notion that a romance between two girls is simply a phase of adolescence, rather than their corporeal desires for a sexual relationship. An accepted perspective in contemporary Japanese society is that even if two girls become romantically involved, they are simply practicing for when they do enter a heterosexual relationship later in life. However, women that openly identified as homosexual were often met with social disdain and their same-sex relationships were no longer considered acceptable.”
Scum’s Wish is a Disturbing Anime About Lovers Who Love Other People (Kotaku)
Cecilia D’Anastasio talks about her favourite anime of the season, which happens to be an AniFem favourite too. “This might go without saying, but Scum’s Wish is extremely NSFW. Sexual scenes are drawn with a rare fidelity to teenaged romance. Sometimes, awkward questions break up these scenes, making them even feel even more real. It’s at times uncomfortable, but never porny.”
Scum’s Wish Offers a Mature Take on Sex and Sexuality (IGN)
Miranda Sanchez is also enjoying Scum’s Wish, and offers her take on its appeal. “It’s painful watching Hanabi and Mugi pretend they’re getting intimate with someone they can’t have. Scum’s Wish commits to the couple’s damaging relationship fully, and doesn’t skip on showing the rippling effects of their choices. Three episodes in and the psychological and emotional costs of their actions are already starting to show.”
One for Japanese speakers! Long-running show Downtown DX, starring A-list manzai duo Downtown, recently aired an episode featuring gay, cross-dressing and transgender people talking about their identities and experiences. No tragedy here – this is a show run by comedians, most of the people on stage are also successful professional comedic talent and they talk frankly about everything from post-op sex to the costs of cosmetic surgery. There are some problematic moments, especially when straight host Matsumoto goes for the easy gag, but also some satisfying moments such as one gay man chastising another for his judgemental attitudes towards drag queens, or a transgender woman getting to meet a crush of hers.
(Note: Unfortunately there’s no way to watch this legally in most countries, though if you think there might be in yours we encourage you to use the Japanese text above to search for a legal version.)
Alt Manga, Queer Manga: Telling Our Own Stories (Okazu)
A lecture that yuri expert Erica Friedman gave at the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies is now on YouTube for you to watch in its entirety! Too often amazing lectures on Japanese pop culture go unrecorded and inaccessible, so this is a great opportunity.
When we talked about why problematic translations remain unedited, our commenters began a number of thought-provoking discussions on what the practical considerations might be, the history different companies have of changing or not changing lines, and considering alternatives to the slur ‘trap’ to describe the kinds of characters given that label. There are still questions left unanswered, if you have any thoughts please get involved!
There is also some great discussion under last week’s AniFemTalk post about yuri anime and manga – if you’ve been meaning to read or watch more yuri, there are some enthusiastic recommendations in these comments, plus plenty of scope to add more. It’s a broad, rich topic which deserves much more attention than it receives.
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