Low birth rates, preventing suicides, and Abe’s pro-Imperialist connections.
Chiaki Hirai dives into the pros and cons of body-changing manga as a source of identification in a medium with very little trans representation.
As part of our new “perspectives” category, Angely Mercado describes how she was drawn to Lady Eboshi’s strength of character despite her status as an antagonist.
The AniFem crew and guest Natasha look back on this surreal coming-of-age/queer romance series.
What shows have let you down after a promising start and vice-versa?
The Mystery of Why Japanese People Are Having So Few Babies (The Atlantic)
A nuanced examination of how irregular pay and overbearing corporate expectations, compounded by cultural assumptions about gender roles, are hurting marriages and birth rates.
In a culture that places such an emphasis on men being breadwinners, this has serious implications for marriage and childbearing. Men who don’t have regular jobs are not considered desirable marriage partners; even if a couple wants to get married, and both have irregular jobs, their parents will likely oppose it, according to Ryosuke Nishida, a professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology who has written about unemployment among young workers. About 30 percent of irregular workers in their early 30s are married, compared to 56 percent of full-time corporate employees, according to Kingston. “Japan has this idea that the man is supposed to get a regular job,” said Nishida. “If you graduate and you don’t find a job as a regular employee, people look at you as a failure.” There’s even a tongue-in-cheek Japanese board game, Nishida told me, called “The Hellish Game of Life,” in which people who don’t land a regular job struggle for the rest of the game.
Women seeking full-time work frequently find themselves in irregular jobs too, which also has implications for raising a family, since the hours are unpredictable and the pay is low. But it is more of an obstacle for marriage if a man doesn’t have a good job—roughly 70 percent of women quit working after they have their first child, and depend on their husband’s salary for some time.
The second half of an interview conducted by Dai Sato. Some of it is stuff that’s come up before, but there are some intriguing new tidbits.
— As you mentioned earlier, you were a young lady working to manage on your own in the animation industry, which meant your first work was a turning point.
Yes, and even though I don’t like to place a whole lot of focus on my being a woman, of course being tasked with directing was a huge turning point.
— Are there ever times that you look back on your previous works?
I don’t do that at all, actually. (laughs) When you start to look back on previous works, doesn’t it all become a bit scary? I start to think “Aren’t I going to die soon?” thinking about the years passed since. I feel like when I’m working on something, I’ve already checked it to death in the process. I always work to the absolute best of my ability on everything, so I really don’t need to look back on it anymore. (laughs)
MADE IN ABYSS EPISODE 2 & 3: DEEP TIES (Isn’t it Electrifying?)
An analysis of the risks of the show’s supposed meritocracy, and how Riko is motivated by her relationship to her mother.
Which is the point, really. Most of the Abyss’ legends are steeped in human failure. Lives lost are numbers; no one remembers the name of people who have died in the Abyss. The only things that do matter are the tangible items retrieved, and the people who brought them back. A legacy can only continue on the backs of the living. But no one will remember the dead ones – they are just as mysteriously lost as the treasures of the Abyss themselves.
Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers Week 3 (Heroine Problem)
Featuring the start of the somewhat notorious series Boys Over Flowers.
I was sixteen or so when Boys Over Flowers first came out in English, and after a couple volumes I realized the main love interest wasn’t Rui, who was decent despite consorting with scumbags, but the violent, stupid, bullying Doumyouji. That was the first time I realized that sometimes shoujo promoted romances that I simply couldn’t get behind.
The series starts relatively low, since the romance has yet to really kick into high gear. Tsukushi is tough and resilient in the face of vicious bullying, and make no mistake, Doumyouji stops at nothing short of emotional terrorism. He does little himself, instead resorting mostly to using his wealth and social standing to incite their classmates to violence like attempted gang rape. However, when she stands up for herself, she reminds him of his abusive older sister, causing him to become enamored of her and have his staff kidnap and drug her in order to give her a makeover.
A manga written by Moyocco Anno with an accompanying short film (which is publicly available).
Titled, Yoiko no Rekishi Anime — Ohkina Kabu (Kabu) (Rough translation: History Anime for Good Children — Giant Turnip (inc.)), the roughly ten-minute short reflects on the history of Studio Khara from the eyes of Moyoco Anno. Those who have seen the 2014 short anime series, Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki — Insufficient Direction, will recognize the character design style.
The anime is mainly voiced by Megumi Hayashibara as the narrator and voice of Old Lady and Kouichi Yamadera as the voice of Old Man.
“HOW DO PEOPLE SEE ME?”: MIYAZAWA YUKINO AND THE LOOKING-GLASS SELF (Through A Glass)
Looking at Kare Kano’s lead character through the lens of philosophy and social expectations.
A key constituent of the looking-glass self is that public opinion reflects how others perceive themselves, Yukino’s individual schema elevated by her peers’ adoration. The second approach involves the Miyazawa family, establishing triple take instead portraying Yukino donning a worn sweatshirt and glasses. Distanced from the group-orientated façade of ‘tatemae’ spinning alongside the gears of social necessitation, she is able to unwind at home sans restraint within the refuge of ‘honne’ (本音と建前). Yukino candidly addresses the cavernous gulf between both images via frenetic imagery accentuating the desire to be revered by those around her, elevated high into the sky and beyond – quite literally looking down on her peers. When openly berated by her siblings regarding hidden exertions, negative traits listed a far cry from earlier’s positive accolades, Yukino explicitly alludes to the 本音と建前 distinction stating “if I don’t drop my guard at home, I get tired”.
The second half of Dee’s exploration of The Eccentric Family.
In short, Benten defines herself as positive and multiple while the Nidaime defines himself as negative and null. Yet there’s an awful lot of similarity in those differences as well. Both struggle to (or are unable to?) establish a single affirmative identity because none of the ready-made labels fit who they want to be. And, when they do attempt to define themselves, Yasaburo denies them those labels, as he initially insists Benten is a human (although in Season 2 he does seem to have accepted her position as Akadama’s successor) and teases the Nidaime for saying “tengu-like” things.
Perhaps most importantly in a story with “family” in the title, both exist just outside the three Kyoto spheres. They lack a proper supportive community, with only the tenuous (if not outright hostile) bonds with Akadama, Yasaburo, and one another to keep them anchored to the city at all. Lost as they both are, lacking not just a group but a solid sense of self entirely, it’s no wonder they’re simultaneously drawn to and repelled by each other.
Bank of the Ryukyus to Allow Joint Home Loans for Same-Sex Couples (Takurei’s Room)
This will mainly serve couples who have taken advantage of a couples registration with limited availability, though others may be able to apply.
Joint home loans are useful in that they allow a couple to combine their annual income in order to increase the amount that they are allowed to borrow. Regarding the bank’s efforts to implement an equal system that benefits sexual minorities, Kameshima Takashi, an assistant in the Sales Management Department, explained “We wanted to create an environment where many customers are comfortable coming in for a consultation.”
After several highly publicized deaths, a concentrated effort is being made to reduce the number of victims lost to suicide.
Her group launched the online consultation service “Moyatter” four years ago. About 80 percent of the people who get in touch are girls and women from 10 to 19, she said.
Via the website they express feelings of loneliness or their hope to die. Wherever possible, especially in cases relating to possible abuse and bullying, they are referred to doctors and support groups as appropriate.
“To help sort out the feelings of young people who are troubled by something, you have to spend time with them,” said Jun Tachibana, head of Bond Project, an NPO supporting young women. “They need a place where they can clearly express a desire to die.”
This week’s pieces led to some great conversations among readers.
Chiaki included some clarification on her TSF manga piece (note that this is a whole thread, so please click through).
I did attempt to identify this, in that the genre assumes biology dictates gender. I do agree, it's one of the most unrealistic aspects.
— Chiaki Hirai (@Chiaki747) July 28, 2017
Meanwhile, Angely’s Lady Eboshi article triggered an avalanche of Miyazaki nostalgia.
Totally makes me want to revisit Mononoke; she's a great example of how anime as a whole does the 'villains you empathise with' thing well
— Laurence Green (@LaurenceTGreen) July 29, 2017
I really should rewatch Mononoke at some point. Fortunately I'll have the chance to do so soon at the cinema. 🙂
— The Pirate King ☠🚀 (@arcadiagt5) July 30, 2017
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