[Links] 8-13 March 2017

Discussing gender roles in Japan, Re:ZERO, 90s anime trends, yuri anime, and more!

AniFem Round-Up

[Discourse] The problem with the dark magical girl genre

A discussion of trends in the magical girl genre, particularly the changes that came after Madoka’s explosive popularity toward shows looking to capitalize on, well, the suffering porn element.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 3: The Re:ZERO Triangle

Three of AniFem’s contributors sat down to discuss Re:ZERO (two fans, one….slightly less so). While there’s plenty to talk about, this episode zeroes in (no apologies) specifically on the show’s central love triangle.

[AniFemTalk] Funimation and #FujoshiLife

Funimation’s attempt to spotlight fujoshi fandom and BL ended with a mighty backlash, but the issue remains a complicated one. Did the event spotlight fetishizing media and hurt the queer community? Does ending it silence an attempt to celebrate women’s interests in fandoms as well as the queer men who also enjoy BL?

 

Beyond AniFem

Sexual assault in Japan: ‘Every girl was a victim’ (Aljazeera)

A fantastic, thorough article on the problem of public groping in Japan, how society blames the victims, and new efforts to combat it (content warning for graphic discussion of assault).

According to Ogawa, groping-related violations are too often downplayed by society as a “nuisance”. It was only when she started writing about these crimes, she says, that she discovered that what she had experienced was sexual assault. “What was shocking me the most is that I didn’t realise that I was experiencing indecent assault,” Ogawa says.
Japanese society focuses on telling women to be careful, how to dress and to travel in women-only carriages – which are mainly available during peak hours on weekday mornings – Ogawa says. “They are telling women to protect themselves, to be careful, but no one tells the men not to do it,” she says.

LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA TV: EPISODE 9 (Sakuga Blog)

Both a look into how the industry can force animators to cut corners, and a recognition of the hard work of assistant chief animation director for Trigger, Rie Ishige.

Yet despite working with a different crew, it’s still men that have overwhelmingly controlled the series so far; all directors and actual storyboarders, almost all animation directors, and a proportion of key animators oscillating around 20~40%. Only this latest episode is around parity levels when it comes to the animation (with tons of female supervisors assisting the production), and this happening when Trigger isn’t in charge is no coincidence.

Forgotten Realms: The Isekai Boom of the 90’s (Heroine Problem)

“Isekai” – the “protagonist journeys to another world” genre, had a major heyday in the 90s within the shoujo genre. This article spotlights both the well-known titles (Fushigi Yugi, Escaflowne) and some of the more obscure (Red River).

The main difference between isekai then and isekai now is the intended audience – 25 years ago, it was a staple of the shoujo demographic, rather than today’s escapist playgrounds for young men. Ordinary young women were pulled into alternate worlds where attractive young men told them they had a special destiny to fulfill. They went on grand adventures and usually – though not always – fell in love along the way.

Ghost In The Shell: Worse Than We Thought (The Nerds of Color)

A breakdown of the 15-minute preview of the Hollywood Ghost in the Shell remake due out this month. It….does not look promising vis a vis that whitewashing problem.

Well, yes it is whitewashed because Scarlett Johansson does not belong in the role of the Major, but man it gets worse. From the sneak peak footage I saw, it looks the Major is originally Japanese. Let me explain. It appears that the character is in a nearly fatal accident. This accident causes her body to be rendered useless, but her brain is the only thing that can be salvaged. So this Japanese woman whose brain is recovered is transferred into a body, or Shell, that just happens to be Scarlett Johannson’s new body. Now her name is “Mira.”

The Evolution of Anime Research feat. Helen McCarthy (Tofugu)

A podcast interview with Helen McCarthy, influential researcher and author of the Anime Encyclopedia (one of the more comprehensive guides available circa 2000).

When Japan Had a Third Gender (The New York Times)

Jumping off from a newly opened showing by the Japan Society of traditional woodblock prints to discuss the spectrum of gender roles that existed in Edo Japan (though it’s not a terribly deep dive – the best part of the article is the featured art).

The art in the exhibition ranges from lively snapshots of daily life to uninhibited portrayals of desire. A screen shows several wakashu surrounding a Buddhist monk, teasingly holding down his hands, plying him with alcohol and tickling his feet, suggesting foreplay before male-male sex. A young woman asses a love note to her wakashu lover behind the back of an older artist who is signing his name to a painting. A wakashu dreams of sex with a famous prostitute, while another woman tenderly covers him with a jacket.

With Manicures and Makeup, Japan’s ‘Genderless’ Blur Line Between Pink and Blue (The New York Times)

Another look at the “danshi” movement within Japan, at least partly because I wanted to show you the NYT’s description of anime. This one is particularly interesting is how some of the individuals interviewed still espouse gender essentialism/homophobia in spite of their style choices.

The unisex look for men has also been popularized in the Japanese cartoon form called anime, and by members of popular boy bands.
The term “genderless danshi” was coined by a talent agent, Takashi Marumoto, who has helped develop Toman’s career. Mr. Marumoto recruits other androgynous men for fashion shows and contracts as potential models, capitalizing on their social media followings to market to fans.

What a 90s Anime Taught Me About Gender Fluidity (Vice)

A personal essay on the author’s relationship to Ranma ½ growing up, what it meant to her, and how it might read as a piece of trans media (personally, as a nonbinary/genderqueer person, staff writer Vrai wanted to know exactly where those springs Ranma was so upset about were located).

I was interested to know if Finn had had a similar experience to me, mainly that she realized later on that this show might have played a role in helping her discover who she was, so I contacted Finn to ask: Did Ranma ½ play a role in your journey towards coming out as trans?
“I read and saw a lot of media in that general vein, those kinds of webcomics and mangas and cartoons and animes that are trans-adjacent but not actually about being trans. Where gender is fluid and maybe that’s good but maybe it’s also a curse or a joke. Alternately called ‘forced feminization’ stories or, more crudely, the what-the-heck-happened-to-my-genitals genre.”
It wasn’t until recently that I realized just how much Ranma’s gender fluidity and the subsequent homoeroticism present in the show are vilified. I only remembered that this show sometimes had a girl in it that liked girls. It also had a guy who was forced to be different gender every time he was splashed with cold water.

Interview with Rakugo Shinju’s Creator: Kumota Haruko. Part 1 of 3 (Through the Painting)

The first part of….well, exactly what it says on the tin, largely dealing with how Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju author Haruko Kumota got into the industry.

Kumota: Then I heard my friend, who was a manga artist, say “since these are their launch issues, it’s fun in that you can draw what you want”. With well-known magazines, the readers read the works with their impression of the magazine in mind. On the other hand, with magazines that haven’t established a brand yet, I think you can get your works to be read as they are.
Because of this, I wasn’t sure what target audience I was writing Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju for. In the end, I’m glad it was with ITAN. Even now, you can’t really say whether ITAN is a seinen or a shoujo magazine: it has its own unique flavor. That’s why I thought men who like rakugo or older audiences might read it without reservations. Were it published in another magazine, I wonder if the image would be completely different…

Where to watch yuri in English online, free and legally (Okazu)

Erica Friedman lists the legal streaming services she can access in the US and names some of the yuri anime available on them.

Viewster is a trove of forgotten Yuri treasures. Their library includes Strawberry Panic!, Maria Watches Over Us, Aria and some other random things I’ve liked over the years, like Murder Princess. ^_^ Viewster claims to be available worldwide.
Rating: B-  The catalog is hit or miss, but they often have stuff you can’t find anywhere else.

 

Community

On Wednesday, March 8th, we went on strike in solidarity for A Day Without a Woman:

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.

 

Thanks to our generous patrons we are now able to pay all writers! Next we need to be able to pay members of the team for their work behind the scenes, especially their time spent editing the work of paid contributors. If you appreciate our work, believe in paying people fairly and can spare just $1 a month please become a patron today

  • rubi-kun

    After not having luck with pitches, I went ahead and posted the Red Turtle article I pitched here a couple weeks ago on Letterboxd if you’re interested in reading (spoilers): https://letterboxd.com/rubi/film/the-red-turtle/1/

  • Blair Gilbreath

    The first issue of Ranma 1/2 I ever read had Ranma performing femininity — while recognizing it as a performance — in the very first scene. Being agender, it stirred something in me that I didn’t understand at the time, but I knew I liked it.

    Ranma is, first and foremost, a hetero romcom, and being female-bodied part of the time gave Ranma a way to relate to the “tomboy” Akane and her discomfort with traditional gender roles. But at the same time, 12-year-old me interpreted Ranma as another agender person, able to switch back and forth easily because he wasn’t overly male or female to begin with. Ranma didn’t set out to represent trans, queer, or agender people; but by showing characters who inhabited a gender that they didn’t identify with, or who only did with qualifications, it resonated with what I felt about my own gender identity.