[Links] 15-21 November 2017

History lessons on queer comics, troll culture, and Black men’s connection to Dragon Ball Z.

AniFem Round-Up

[Review] Anime Supremacy! is the SHIROBAKO sequel you’ve been waiting for

A review of a recently translated novel about the interwoven lives of three adult women working in the anime industry.

[Feature] Princess Mononoke as a force of nature

On San as a heroine who represents vengeful, nature-aligned womanhood in the face of the oppression of male-dominated society.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 31: Fall 2017 anime mid-season check-in

Caitlin, Peter, and Vrai discuss their feelings on the new season now that it’s reached its midpoint.

[AniFemTalk] Positively depicting sex and sexuality

Let’s dig into that thorny issue: how can media tackle sexuality without being exploitative?

 

Beyond AniFem

Why Black Men Love Dragon Ball Z (Kotaku, Gita Jackson)

An interview-focused article with several now-adults and professionals for whom DBZ was an important part of their life.

Emotional intimacy is something that men struggle with, black men arguably moreso than others. “So many black men live as if our lives are tombs,” Cassius editor at large Darnelle Moore wrote in an article for Ebony. “Our emotions, aspirations, longings, anxieties, complexities, mistakes, failures and imaginations are buried along with our truest selves. We are denied the ability to heal, to lead healthy relationships, to make amends for our errors, to be intimate, to be fully human, to be alive.” Although Dragon Ball Z may attract young black boys because of the flashy fights, it can also help them learn more about how to process their feelings.

“Especially as a black queer person, I never knew how to embrace my feelings,” Edwards said. He remembers turning to Dragon Ball Z when he lost a relative at a young age. In the show, characters die all the time, even Goku. They’re grieved by their loved ones, and then usually come back via some convenient plot device. In a weird way, this helped Edwards cope. He didn’t think that his dead relatives were going to come back, but he understood that death was a part of life and didn’t negate the good memories he had with them while they were alive. Two years ago, when his father died, Dragon Ball Z and its sequel series Dragon Ball Super helped him to process his grief. “It really helped me better understand how to better deal with those kinds of things. It just helped me become a better person. … Wherever my dad is, he would be proud of me and all of my hard work.”

Creepy or Kind: Recovery of an MMO Junkie and exploring boundaries in relationships (Hag’s Un-profound Adventures in Writing and Opinion)

An attempt to tackle the potentially problematic behaviors of MMO Junkie’s male love interest in the show’s first half.

And back to the show a final time. I think ultimately Yuta’s problematic behaviours are cumulative. Alone, looking someone up online isn’t a problem. Alone, hanging out at a place you saw a pretty girl isn’t really a problem. In fact, I can think of many male and female characters in anime and manga who do this type of thing, now that I think about it. The girl on the train, waiting for senpai after soccer practice, blah blah blah. But when taken together as a package, I can see why some audience members, especially those who are have dealt with iffy behaviour, might think “hang on, this guy is a bit invasive.” Now, I can’t say “no, he’s not” because this is very much about individual interpretations of human social patterns. If I said that, the person would find it insulting and dismissive. Instead, my goal here was to write out the scenario and explain how I saw it, because I’m talking from my own individual interpretation of patterns. All I can say is that for now, I don’t think that what Yuta has done has put Moriko in any distress except for lovesickness, and when I watch MMO Junkie all I see is a cute romance between two people who hide their true natures from each other.

89-Year-Old Japanese Grandma Discovers Photography, Can’t Stop Taking Hilarious Self-Portraits Now (Bored Panda, James Gould-Bourn)

Kimiko Nishimoto’s photography is fantastic, and an excellent emotional pick-me-up.

She didn’t get into photography until she was 72 years old. Her son was teaching a beginner’s course and so she decided to enroll, unaware that she was about to awake a passion and a talent she never even knew she had. She instantly fell in love with photography and set about snapping various quirky and comical self-portraits. She had her first solo exhibition ten years later, at a local museum in her home town of Kumamoto, and now she’s about to have her work exhibited at Tokyo’s Epson epsite imaging gallery. Titled “Asobokane” – meaning “let’s play” – the exhibition will feature previously unseen work from the octogenarian artist, so if you happen to be in Tokyo between December 15, 2017 and January 18, 2018 then be sure to check it out. Think you’re too old to try something new? Think again.

Shimura Takako and Instable Identities (AniReminiscing)

A short, personal piece about the relatable elements of Takako’s two most famous manga, Sweet Blue Flowers and Wandering Son.

Of course, this is a purely personal experience, but even for me as a transgender person, the transgender part of wandering son was never what was the most relatable. Nitori Shuuichi is a character I care about deeply, but I’d struggle to personally call her relatable. Fumi similarly is a character that I love deeply, but she’ll never be as relatable to me as A-chan looking and finding her own identity throughout the Manga or Takatsuki constantly questioning themselves. I’ve been on the search for an identity for almost all my life and in times where I was questioning my gender and identity as a whole, Takako Shimura not only introduced me to LGBT characters in popular media but much more importantly, taught me that I’m not on my own. That’s why I consider both of Wandering Son and Aoi Hana to me my favorite works in Manga.

NETFLIX’S ‘NEO YOKIO’ IS RIFE WITH TOKENISM (Wear Your Voice, Donyae Coles)

A dissection of the roles and voices given (or not) to the Black and brown characters of Neo Yokio.

Black people don’t get to just be in high society, we must be the best. Kaz isn’t just a Black guy in this world, he’s the best Black guy. He’s number one (sometimes two) on the eligible bachelor board, he’s who people turn to solve their problems.  He is literally magical. He is exceptional.

And no other Black person meets that standard in Neo Yokio.

Of the other Black or Brown people of color that we meet, two are Helenists and literally want to be a white person, one is a nameless shopkeeper, and other three are strippers and a singer. These are not ideal depictions of people of color. It reinforces the idea that alternative Black people want to be white and that we’re only good in the entertainment and service industries. Except for Kaz. Because he’s exceptional.

Watching this show, I get that there’s this idea of parody, of something that is maybe a bit whimsical and zany about it. Of course, no one in Kaz’s family looks or sounds like him because this is a bat-shit magical version of New York where nothing makes sense and the points don’t matter. I get that.

When Koenig and the team of writers envisioned this world, when the Japanese directors and animators came on to give it life, how this show would intersect with race probably wasn’t on the forefront of their minds. Which is why these issues are so glaring.

Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 11 (Heroine Problem)

This time requesting reader feedback on the series thus far, and reaching the end of some pretty gnarly series (but starting some good ones).

Nothing reeks of creepy sexual politics so much as a father trying to control his daughter’s sexuality, which is exactly what the final arc of Demon Love Spell is about.

For a moment, let’s take Demon Love Spell at its word and accept that instead of just giving in to being pressured, Miko genuinely wants to have sex with Kagura in a way that is normal and healthy. (That’s not the case, but oh well.) Her father’s response is to let them move in together, but to also curse Kagura’s dick so he can’t do much of anything at all. Now, Kagura’s power is weakening, even though he’s gotten by fine up until now with groping, kissing, and having sex with her subconscious (ew). For some reason, that’s not enough now.

Miko’s father’s motivations make, frankly, little sense. He’s let Kagura live in their house, go alone on a hot springs vacation with his daughter, and now is allowing them to move in together, but still makes a last-ditch attempt at policing his daughter’s sexuality. He ignored her discomfort up until now, but now that she finally is, he’s trying to stop it. It’s creepy, and it deprives Miko of sexual agency, now that she was ready for it within the narrative.

Rurouni Kenshin Creator Charged With Possessing Child Pornography (Kotaku, Brian Ashcraft)

Watsuki has confessed, though possession of child pornography reportedly only carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to one million yen (roughly $9,000 USD).

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, investigators discovered several DVDs that showed nude under-15 year-old girls at Watsuki’s Tokyo office. Similar DVDs were also reportedly found at his house.

Yomiuri Shimbun adds that during another child pornography case, suspicions that Watsuki had purchased illicit DVDs featuring underage girls surfaced.

Watsuki is quoted as telling authorities, “I liked girls from the upper grades of elementary school to around the second year of junior high school.”

Tokyo single father takes on paternity harassment with case against Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. (The Japan Times, Magdalena Osumi)

Wood, the complainant, claims that his employer reassigned him to lower-paying work after he took his right to paternity leave following the birth of his child (to whom he had to prove biological relation).

Wood filed a petition with the Tokyo District Court last month, demanding that the brokerage withdraw the suspension. The company acted believing he would be unproductive as a single parent, which is not true, Wood said.

“It seems to be a very clever move for the company to leave me in a very precarious position; not being a full-time resident of Japan, my visa is dependent on my salary,” he said of the unpaid leave.

Yoshitatsu Imaizumi, Wood’s lawyer, said the petition is focused on the right to take paternity leave and that under the law, both women and men are entitled to leave after the birth of a child.

The firm, however, says otherwise.

“Our company has been actively supporting its employees who required time off for paternal leave and has done the utmost to grant Mr. Glen with this opportunity,” a company’s spokesman, who requested his name be withheld, said by telephone.

How Fandom Made Queer Manga Possible (Yuricon, Erica Friedman)

A transcription (with slides) of Friedman’s recent Harvard presentation about the intersection of the queer community and manga.

The late 1990s into the early 2000s saw a boom in anime and manga. Tokyopop [xxiv] standardized the size and price point of manga.

Fans were asking for a more authentic (ie., more like the Japanese consumers) experience, less Americanization.

Fans, who had come out in the 1990s in the post-AIDS, post-Ellen Degeneres world were naturally looking for representation in their media. Anime and manga companies were inevitably headed by straight white men, looked at porn and comedy as valid forms of representation, given the limitations of printing, distributing and sales of overtly LGBTQ content.

So we got stories like Angel Sanctuary [xxv], in which all the characters are bi (or perhaps pan)sexual, since they are not human. In Kizuna [xxvi], masculine characters have violent relationships and violent sex.

Your and My Secret [xxvii] is an example of what I consider to be excruciatingly unfunny gender switch comedies. The body switch is played for laughs, with more attention being paid to things like the boy unable to touch the breasts of the body he finds himself in, issues of superficial gender roles, rather than anything substantive.

What It Looks Like On The Dark Side of the Web (Medium, Felix Simon)

An in-depth interview with media studies scholar Whitney Phillip on the evolution of trolling.

However they define the term, people tend to place trolls on the periphery of the culture and say “These are the bad guys. They’re doing abnormal things. They are not like us.” For many, this “They’re the bad guys and we’re the good guys”-dichotomy is very reassuring. But the fact of the matter is that you actually can situate trolling rhetoric within this broader philosophical lineage that people in the West are culturally simmered in their whole lives.

For example the boundary policing of emotional expression, which is what subcultural trolling basically boils down to, is at the centre of the western worldview. Logic, rationality and cool, calm collectedness are rhetorical strategies explicitly privileged in the Western tradition. And those qualities also happen to be undeniably male gendered.

The converse, really any kind of emotional expression or sentimentality, is gendered female. And not just gendered female, but pathologized because it’s not idealized male gendered speech, and therefore something to push back against. This is normalised in our culture. Male-gendered communication is expected to look like this, female-gendered communication is expected to look like this. And male gendered-communication is what’s valued culturally. Trolling rhetoric fits into this cultural bias towards a certain kind of communication that values antagonism, that values delegitimisation of emotional expression and which, based on existing cultural norms, explicitly devalues women.

That’s the core of the problem why it’s so difficult to deal with trolls. If trolls really were the bad guy, the cultural outliers so to speak, things would be easy. But what the hell do you do if trolling is actually central to Western thought? What do you do then?

 

AniFem Community

There’s a great conversation going on in this week’s talk post. Definitely check it out.

Male gaze is inherent to the works made by cishet men. It's not just about camera work. It's an eye that holds the vision of patriarchal values: a tributary condition of domination culture, not a matter of conscious choice. Mulvey in her original essay even argues that the language of film itself was created by men for men and therefore male gaze is inherent to any work made using it. I'm not willing to go as far, but it's an important point to consider. Fanservice is a form of aggressive, deliberate sexualization (and objectification) that depending on a point of view can be seen as/linked/separate from male gaze. Ethical objectification in a patriarchal society is impossible similarly to ethical consumption under capitalism. Having said that, I believe in necessity to explore sexuality not grounded in masculinity, maleness or phallocentrism. Sexuality which puts masculinity and femininity on an even ground or prefers feminine subject to masculine. And lastly: not everything is black and white (though a lot is), there are grey areas and polarizing pieces of media. It's crucial to examine these to determine the factors responsible for such disparity in opinions, open a conversation and learn from the experience.

I feel like the male gaze v.s complete lack of sexual content is a false dichotomy. The anime industry and mainstream media in general tends to center the sexual perspective of straight cis gendered men to the point that sexuality tends to be falsely conflated with straight male sexuality. But there is tons of niche and independent media that tries to show sexuality from the perspective of women and queer men. One of the things I find interesting about erotic Josei manga is that it isn't just a gender flip of porn for straight men. Sex in media made for straight men tends to portray women as an object and men as a subject. The man is usually treated as a self insert for the presumed male viewer and is completely desexualized while the women is hyper sexualized in order to appeal to the presumed male viewer. Women's feelings and desires (both the audience and the characters) are treated as largely irrelevant. Josei does not simply reverse this script but avoids the script altogether. Both the man and women (or both women, Lesbian Josei gets even less attention in the west) are portrayed simultaneously as subjects and objects. The story forces you to relate to the woman as a person and not just as a sexual instrument to be used by the man. At the same time it doesn't assume that straight woman are disgusted by other women's bodies in the same way that straight male porn assumes straight men are disgusted by other men's bodies. Nor are male bodies treated as inherently non-sexual which most does by default. This doesn't mean that Josei doesn't have it's flaws there's plenty of badly written Josie out there. But I think it does provide a way to think about sex outside the limited stereotypical straight male perspective.

 

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