[Feature] Kino is the non-binary protagonist we deserve

Kino’s Journey (2003) is one of the great classics of anime: directed by the late Ryutaro Nakamura with his characteristic eye for negative space and eerie, melancholy sound design, the series is a quiet but purposeful sequence of short stories ranging from the fantastical to the mundane. All of them are about human nature, and as Kino meets various people, we learn a little more about why Kino is on that titular journey. There’s one more thing, too: Kino is an agendered character.

[Discourse] Catherine, Trans Identities, and Representation in Japan

In late 2017, ATLUS announced they would be re-releasing Catherine with a new addition to the cast. Her name is Rin. She’s a new love interest for the main character, Vincent, and the website heavily suggests her story will be one deeply tied into trans identities. Little is known about the character, but already the public has ATLUS under deep, and well-deserved, scrutiny.

[Feature] DEVILMAN crybaby, legacies of queerness, and diversifying remakes

DEVILMAN crybaby has been tearing up the internet since it dropped a few weeks ago, sparking conversation about its use of sex, violence, horror, and taboo to tell a story about love and the end of the world. Not an inconsiderable amount of that discussion was centered around the series’ queer representation. What do you do with a series that features sympathetic representation while also killing queer characters off, and does it make a difference that everybody is dying?

[Feature] Land of the Lustrous, singular “they,” and the politics of subtitles

Land of the Lustrous has proven to be a sleeper hit of the Fall 2017 season, with its beautiful melding of CG and traditional art, creative direction, likable characters, and penchant for cliffhangers. It also made minor waves by deciding to refer to almost the entire cast with neutral “they/them” pronouns. In an industry that has historically elected to choose binary pronouns for characters who aren’t gendered or are gendered ambiguously in the original text, this marks a small but important—and most crucially, conscious—shift.

[Feature] The challenges of a queer immigrant and the shortcomings of A Certain Marriage

At first glance, A Certain Marriage by Ruri Kumashika is an attractive addition to the expanding collection of LGBT-oriented comics coming out of Japan. It tells the story of Saki Honjo, a Japanese woman who moved to Los Angeles to join her high school girlfriend Anna Abel, and their journey toward marriage. A bitter-sweet story, A Certain Marriage delves into the beauty of gay relationships and the discrimination LGBT people experience. The story, however, ultimately fails to delve into the challenges queer immigrants from Japan face living in America.

[Perspectives] The quiet revolutions of contemporary Japanese queer novels

As a Southeast Asian, there are days when I wonder if my feelings are real and worth caring about. Where I live, videos blare about what it means to have a family and to be proper husbands and wives. Heterosexual families are the default unit in Asian societies, and going against them is considered not just sexually deviant but morally wrong. You are not contributing to society. You are not making children. You will dismantle everything society has built up. You are evil.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 21: Wandering Son Retrospective

Vrai does a deep dive on the anime and manga of Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko) with special guests Associate Editor of Anime News Network Jacob Chapman, YouTuber Cayla Coats, and manga scholar and professional translator Rachel Matt Thorn. [Please note that Rachel began to use this name after the recording of this podcast and is therefore referred to as Matt throughout this episode.]

[Feature] An Analysis of Magical Sex-Change (TSF) Manga

Let’s get something out of the way:I’m about to talk about some problematic stuff. Some of it is pornographic and graphically violent. So I’m flagging you all with this content warning. I’m going to be talking about issues with gender dysphoria, rape, and sexual harassment. Also, given the topic features characters who change their gender presentation throughout the story, I’ll be referring to each character as how they originally presented, unless they self-identify otherwise in the story after their transformation. This article also contains NSFW images. All right? Let’s go.

[Feature] How Girl Friends reflects a real queer experience

As a queer woman, I find that a lot of queer literature isn’t really made with my perspective in mind. Often times, it feels like most of the queer female media is made for men’s enjoyment and depicts unrealistic or frivolous relationships between women. When I found the manga Girl Friends, I was not only excited to see a yuri that seemed made for me; I also felt as though I related to the girls on a very intimate level because of the authenticity presented in their relationship. SPOILERS: Detailed discussion of the Girl Friends manga

[AniFemTalk] Gender non-conforming characters

Last week Dee wrote a piece on how Chihayafuru handles main character Chihaya’s experience of femininity. We are here taking ‘gender non-conforming’ in the broadest sense possible to allow us to discuss a spectrum of presentations, from simply appearing as a ‘tomboy’ as Chihaya is in her childhood, to switching between gender presentations like Kuranosuke in Princess Jellyfish, or presenting fully as another gender as Isabella does in Paradise Kiss. The purpose of this post is not to discuss how characters do/don’t/might identify, but on how characters who visibly challenge social norms of gender presentation are meaningful to you.

[Discourse] ‘Trapped’ by fandom: The very real harm of calling ‘trap’ a genre

Recently Juné, a yaoi manga publisher, included the word “trap” as part of their marketing (in a tweet that has since been deleted, but we have a screenshot below). On Twitter, Anime Feminist rightfully pointed out how bad that was, referencing GLAAD’s inclusion of “trap” as a slur and linking to an article about problematic translations. Seeing all this, the fit of rage I felt as a trans person was massive. This rage only built upon seeing Juné’s (non)apology. What they said is fundamentally wrong and ignores just how hurtful the “trap” mentality is. CONTENT WARNING: Brief mention of sexual assault, suicide statistics, and murder

[Interview] Masaki C. Matsumoto, queer and feminist activist

We first encountered Masaki through his video “5 Things You Didn’t Know About LGBTQs in Japan” in which he debunks popular myths about the real history and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in Japan. We linked to it here on AniFem, then started checking out his other videos and social media.  Learning more about Masaki, it became clear that he could give us insights into the experience of being not just queer, but a queer activist and self-identified feminist in Japan. We knew we had to interview him, and he was kind enough not only to agree but to respond in both English and Japanese so that we could open this discussion to a wider audience. It’s been a goal of AniFem since the start to showcase the voices of people talking about their own communities, and we are thrilled to be able to start here.