[Links] 12-18 July 2017

Positive trans representation, what’s up with the isekai boom, and abuse in shoujo.

AniFem Round-Up

[Review] My First Girlfriend is a Gal – episode 1

It’s worse than you’re thinking. Much worse.

[Review] Classroom of the Elite – episode 1

Totally unsurprising, but with future potential.

[Review] GAMERS! – episode 1

Unexpectedly charming with a few red flags.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 15: Berserk watchalong – episodes 1-6

The start of a new watchalong: the 2016 Berserk series. This one inevitably is going to tackle very dark and potentially triggering subject matter, so please take care.

[AniFemTalk] Manga readalong candidates

We’re into our second watchalong now, but what about manga?

 

Beyond AniFem

Yuragi-sō no Yūna-san Stirs Controversy Over ‘Sexual Depictions’ in Shonen Jump (Anime News Network)

We featured commentary on this spread last week, and here’s a further write-up. The article’s tone takes an…interesting turn into whether depicting sex in general in Shonen JUMP is acceptable rather than the specific issue of the sexualized humiliation on display here (rather, protesting this portrayal of sexuality=banning all sexuality).

Lawyer Keiko Ōta encouraged parents to not let their sons read Shonen Jump. She said that “depicting sexual harassment as pleasure is a problem.” Gender studies professor at Osaku University Kazue Muta said that people are learning from a young age that seeing females as sexual objects, ignoring a partner’s protests, and then engaging in naked sexual acts is normal.
On the other hand, some net commenters said not letting boys read Shonen Jump is a poor choice. They believe that seeing erotic images is a necessary part of growth into adulthood. One commenter said, “It’s a nuisance that you want to force your own disgust for sex onto children and also onto society.” Lawyer Yamato Satō agreed with that sentiment and expressed concern about excessive censorship.

Princess Debut and The Essence of Feminine Game Design (Zeal)

An examination on what codes a game as “feminine,” and how the same basic game mechanics can wind up praised or dismissed depending on their gendered coding.

Both reviews mention playing the same songs over and over, but one says “addictive” and the other says “tedious.” One sounds energized, and the other sounds bored. If challenge in videogames means frequent and repeated failure, then yeah, Princess Debut doesn’t have much of it. And I understand the satisfaction inherent in a sudden release of frustration. But to call the game “easy” (rather than accessible, or inviting) is to place it on a value scale where the frustration-release cycle is an ideal, and Debut fails to achieve it. There’s an unspoken expectation that games exist to be beaten, to relinquish their rewards in response to your relentless, focused exertion. Princess Debut, it seems, doesn’t put up enough of a fight.

What’s the appeal of those “stuck in another world” fantasies? Some Japanese bloggers explain (Fantastic Memes)

A critical examination of the isekai boom and what its readers have to say about the reasons behind its success.

As you might be able to guess, it’s not a worldview that I personally share. In fact, hearing that isekai stories are critiques of modern Japan only baffles me because life in the fantasy world usually seems far worse than Japan for everyone except the protagonist. In some web novels, slavery is widely practiced. In the popular web novel aptly named Slave Harem in the Labyrinth of the Other World, the protagonist himself buys girls as his sex slaves. One could perhaps argue that buying a slave harem is a more plausible way for an unpopular guy to go about things than having numerous girls randomly fall in love with him… until you remember that in the slave harem stories, the slaves fall in love with the protagonist. It’s weird and creepy no matter how you spin it.

Breaking Barriers: The Role of Academia in LWA and MHA (Isn’t it Electrifying?)

On barriers of entry in academia and how the shows’ different societies privilege certain groups or characters (and why).

An institution dedicated to teaching isn’t the only requirement for breaking down these barriers. Both shows recognize their protagonist’s faults – young adults who have never had the luck to be born with abilities to naturally overcome those barriers. Akko is inept at magic and spends most of the show attempting to perform basic spells like riding a broom and transforming into animals. Midoriya on the other hand, was born without a Quirk, and despite being given one from the greatest Hero himself, cannot handle it and often risks his life to use it. Neither fit very well in their school, despite having excellent mentors. Subjects are tougher for them to grasp; activities are harder to perform. But the reason they are the protagonists is not just because of their social status. It’s because they both share an intense love for their career and are more passionate about its future than anyone else.

TOKYO STREET FASHION and CULTURE: 1980 – 2017 (Google Arts & Culture)

A meaty museum exhibit exploring changes in Japanese fashion and how it connects to cultural changes.

As if counteracting the DC fashion of the first half of the 1980s, the focus toward the end of the 1980s was on maturity and stability, rather than on youth and change. The bodikon (body-conscious) and shibukaji (Shibuya Casual) trends appear. The bodikon fashion symbolizes an era of female ascendancy, a time when ‘Hanako-san’ (a woman like the women depicted in Hanako magazine) puts her energy into both work and play in the same way as men, and Shibuya Casual symbolizes the passing of the torch from the shinjinrui (new breed) generation to the dankai junior generation as the young people who drive street fashion.

How I Got into the Anime Industry (Anime Now)

It’s always nice to hear from women who successfully broke into the industry, as history and possibly inspiration for younger readers.

Also, don’t be afraid to fail. Take every chance you can to speak with a native. If you fear making mistakes, you will never improve. It’s by making mistakes that you can learn what you need to improve on. If someone’s trying to teach you and you never talk to them, they won’t know what level you’re at, making your entire experience basically useless. Learning a language is 1/3 determination, 1/3 enjoying what you’re learning, and 1/3 sucking it up and accepting that, hey, you’re not ever going to be perfect, but you have to be willing to hold confidence in yourself and put yourself out there.
That also means, though, that you have to be open when people tell you you’re wrong. I once had a summer camp mate who was so sure of herself that the word “yoshi” was the casual word for “hey there.” I tried to tell her that it actually means “All right!” but she refused to believe me. I can only imagine what happened when she tried saying this to an actual Japanese person.

Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers Week 2 (Heroine Problem)

The second week of coverage, continuing with existing series and adding new titles, as well as some clarification on methodology.

Apparently my continued pursuit of this topic, along with my lack of more positive coverage of shoujo, has given some people the deeply mistaken impression that I am suspicious or disdainful of it and that I only read shoujo manga with this aspect in mind. In retrospect, I can see where that impression comes from. This has become something of a passion project for me. It’s a topic I consider deeply important, so it’s only natural that I give it a lot of focus. However, because of a number of factors, I haven’t written as much as I wanted to on other, more positive aspects of the demographic. In order to combat this perception, I’m going to include in these posts short essays about shoujo manga and my relationship with it that I hope will clarify things.
So let’s get one thing absolutely clear first: I love shoujo manga.

One of Japan’s First Mainstream LGBTQ Films Is a Groundbreaking and Delightful Success (Fusion)

Close-Knit is Japan’s first major mainstream film to humanize its trans lead and normalize the experience of trans identity.

Japanese pop culture’s insistence that trans women stick to comedy that can undermine them made it difficult for Ogigami to find someone to portray Rinko, who is wonderfully played by cis male actor Toma Ikuta. “There are some transgender TV stars like comedians and people accept them, but I couldn’t find any transgender actors in Japan,” she explained. “It’s still very hard for them to come out, and I couldn’t find any transgender actor as good as [Ikuta],” she said. “That was very a big problem. But I think he did a good job.”
In Close-Knit, Tomo’s character is initially reluctant to embrace Rinko as a mother, but Rinko remains compassionate, matter-of-factly explains aspects of her transition from time to time to help Tomo understand, teaches her to knit as a way to control and express anger, and cooks her delicious meals. Over time, and with Ogigami’s unique blend of sweet humor, Tomo accepts Rinko as the mother she never had.

‘Comfort women’ statues outside Japanese Consulate to stay for now, Hong Kong says (The Japan Times)

In the continued contentious discussion between Japan and South Korea, Hong Kong’s move marks broader global support for Korea. The article itself notes an apology and reparation efforts from the 1990s, but little about recent contention from Abe and others.

Activist Tsang Kin-shing said the bronze statues were a reminder to Japan of its culpability in forcing females recruited or captured from Japan, the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere to work in front-line brothels.
Reached by phone Thursday, a government spokesman said Hong Kong’s police have said the statues would not be removed. Tsang, a former member of Hong Kong’s legislative assembly, said he wants them to remain in place for the rest of the year.

 

AniFem Community 

The Berserk watchalong is going to step things up as far as engaging with problematic and difficult content. Glad to hear folks have faith in us.

 

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  • rugose-appendage

    Nice article about MHA’s portrayal of barriers to entry to institutions. I first started watching MHA hoping for a narrative about disability, and though I like it for other reasons, I don’t think it achieves a satisfying portrayal of disability. Hero training clearly discriminated against Deku because he was quirkless, but this was solved in the plot by Deku gaining a quirk, rather than addressing the structures which prevented him from becoming a hero. This isn’t an option for most disabled people, which is why I didn’t find it a very satisfying portrayal. I prefer portrayals which include realistic responses to disability.

  • Moni

    I’m disturbed but not surprised by the comments on the post on the shounen jump cover. Ranging from “where am I supposed fulfill my gross fantasies in without it?” To “it’s not real!!”. Honestly the academics comment is pretty sound but many men in the anime/manga community are extremely misogynistic and the type you’d avoid at a bar.

  • Moni

    It’s still a magazine geared towards minors though. Sex comedy can be done well, it’s just that the vast majority of them aren’t (tends to be pure girls getting into sexualized situations through accidents and not by their own agency).