[AniFemTalk] Characters of color

In last week’s post on the themes and motifs of Yuri!!! on ICE director Sayo Yamamoto, a commenter rightly pointed out: I feel like it might be more clear to emphasize that Michiko & Hatchin‘s cast is composed of Black, Latino, and diasporic people, rather than just people of color broadly? Anime with 100% Japanese (and thereby 100% not white) casts is pretty commonplace, and Michiko & Hatchin is remarkable re: racial representation primarily for its dark-skinned characters and Japanese character(s?) in an international setting. Excellent point! With this in mind, and in light of the weekend’s events in the US and resulting activism, let’s talk about black and brown characters in anime and manga – bonus points for examples of positive Muslim representation!

[Feature] Beyond Yuri!!! On ICE: The themes and motifs of Sayo Yamamoto

Yuri!!! On ICE might’ve been one of the best things about 2016. I know that’s is a low bar, but roll with me. It engaged viewers inside and outside anime fandom alike, it offered one of the most positive portrayals of a queer relationship I’ve ever seen in anime, and – most importantly – it’s offered me a chance to talk about Sayo Yamamoto, a director whose works have until now struggled to gain attention despite their high quality. While Mitsurou Kubo has gotten a completely earned bevvy of praise for her hard work writing the story for Yuri!!! on ICE (thanks in no small part, I would suspect, to her availability on social media), any familiarity with Yamamoto’s past works makes it clear that this is very much a joint effort. While many anime directors might not have the same recognizable stamp on their work as the western conception of a (usually film, usually auteur) director, there are exceptions. And Yamomoto, now with three full series under her belt, is proving herself to be as easy to spot as Kon, Watanabe, or Ikuhara.

[AniFemTalk] Manga in 2017

Last week we talked about our first impressions of anime in 2017 so far, but what about manga? Which ongoing manga will you continue to read in 2017? (Through legal means only, please) Which new manga licences are you excited about? Which (legal) online manga readers do you recommend, in English, Japanese or other languages? Which manga do you wish more feminist fans would read in 2017? Which manga author do you hope more feminist fans discover in 2017? Self-promotion on these posts is permitted and even encouraged, especially if you are analyzing anime, manga, Japanese pop culture or fandom from a marginalized perspective! Please only include one link per post, but you can put up a different link every Monday if you like. If you’ve already done a blog post on your thoughts on manga for 2017, by all means include it below!   Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems. 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! 

[Editorial] What’s feminism got to do with Nazis?

“What’s feminism got to do with Nazis?” Since we posted our first news article, which detailed how major site MyAnimeList edited a Jewish contributor’s explicitly anti-Nazi feature weeks after publication to make it more sympathetic to Nazis, a handful of people have asked this question. This is not a real question asked in good faith. This is a rhetorical question, posed in order to criticise our decision to post this article. It is a silencing tactic. “Feminism has nothing to do with Nazis. Why are you getting involved in something that’s not your place? Stop using your site as a platform for your personal politics.”

My Anime List defends rewrite of contributor’s anti-Nazi article

There’s a nasty stereotype that anime fans and Nazis are closely related, as indicated by the number of virulent alt-right trolls with anime avatars you’ll find in any Twitter cesspool. This unfortunate connection all came to a head for My Anime List contributor Reuben Baron when he discovered his November article, “10 Anime And Manga About Kicking Nazi Ass,” had been rewritten in a gentler tone toward Nazi anime characters. The new article was titled “11 Anime And Manga Featuring Nazis.” Baron, who happens to be Jewish, was understandably upset. “If they care more about offending Nazis than offending their own writers, and not even telling them when their work is being edited almost beyond recognition while still keeping our usernames on the byline, then good riddance to their Featured Writers program,” he said. My Anime List, which receives 120,000,000 page views a month, launched their Featured Writers program in 2015 to highlight voices in the anime community. Writers post lists, anime reviews, and informal opinion pieces. Baron’s original article was published on November 29, 2016. It passed editing with one small change—his My Anime List editor asked him not to use the term “alt-right” as a synonym for neo-Nazi, a terminology quibble taking place at other similarly large op/ed sites. In Baron’s original piece, which can still be viewed in a Wayback Machine archive, he included an introduction with his own opinions on Nazis. “We do not accept Nazis. Nazis suck,” Baron wrote originally. Baron has previously written articles poking fun at Judaism and the presidential candidates, and said that topics like religion and politics were not off-limits, as far as he knew. So he was surprised to revisit his article on January 17 and discover a completely different piece of writing. “When I asked my editor why this happened he apologized to me but said it was beyond his control and that someone was ‘really upset’ about the article so they had to change it,” said Baron. Baron also shared a screenshot of the communication with his editor, shown below: Baron told Anime Feminist that the new article doesn’t follow the spirit of his original piece at all and in fact included a new addition to the list, Rudol von Stroheim from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, described as “an unusually positive portrayal of a Nazi soldier.” “They also added a semi-heroic Nazi character onto the list, which does not fit with my original intentions at all,” said Baron. Anime Feminist reached out to My Anime List for comment, and heard back from the site’s parent company, DeNA. Tomoyuki Akiyama, Corporate Communications Manager, told us that My Anime List articles can be updated by an editor at any time. “Articles posted on MyAnimeList are subject to being edited after publishing for quality purposes… The MyAnimeList team, however, regrets that the policy has not been made clear to their writers. In order to make this policy clearer to writers they plan to both update their day-to-day guidelines, along with emailing directly regarding the policy,” he said. Akiyama also confirmed that the reason Baron’s article was edited was because of an internal concern, not a reader complaint. In the screenshot, Baron’s editor tells him somebody was “really upset” about the article. It turns out that was somebody inside My Anime List. “The team did not recognize the way the original article was written as content that helped many users enjoy anime, and did not see the subject matter as anything that should be treated lightheartedly,” Akiyama said. It’s a sign of the times we live in that the phrase “kicking Nazi ass” is no longer uncontroversial enough to be considered lighthearted. Instead, apparently, we have to hear “both sides,” which included the addition of a more positive Nazi character. It’s no wonder Baron wasn’t informed, because, as he told Anime Feminist, he would not have wanted his byline to remain on such an altered piece. My Anime List writers take note: it’s website policy for your article to be edited at any time to better reflect the site’s mission, whether you agree with it or not.

Feminist anime recommendations of 2016

Now that the winter premieres have aired and most people have figured out what they’re watching this season, we’re starting to look back at which shows from 2016 deserve a second glance. We had been talking internally about our feminist recommendations of 2016, and some of the team wanted to go into a bit more detail on some of their favorites. We talked about three kinds of recommendation: Feminist-friendly favorite (you would recommend it to a feminist friend with no caveats) Problematic favorite (you would only recommend it to a feminist friend with caveats) Surprise favorite (you expected it to have caveats, but actually would recommend it without) Here’s what a few of the team thought – let us know your picks in the comments!

[AniFemTalk] Your winter 2017 first impressions

We reviewed, ranked and categorized most of the premieres of the the season for feminist viewers – now have your say. Which anime from the season do you expect to keep up with to the end? Which new anime have you been most surprised to enjoy? Which new anime did you expect to like but found disappointing? How do you think the sequels compare so far to their previous seasons? What do you think of the shorts you’ve seen? Self-promotion on these posts is permitted and even encouraged, especially if you are analyzing anime, manga, Japanese pop culture or fandom from a marginalized perspective! Please only include one link per post, but you can put up a different link every Monday if you like. If you’ve already done a blog post on 2017 premieres, by all means include it below!   Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems. 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! 

Winter 2017 premiere rankings

Another season of premieres reviewed! I have never found a season as disheartening as this one. It was five painful days before I finally found something to enthusiastically recommend, and I credit Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju for reminding me in that time of the heights anime can reach. It felt like a constant process of my bar for quality being lowered and lowered again, then occasionally spiked back up to where I had forgotten it could be.

[Review] Scum’s Wish – episode 1

When she starts high school popular Hana is delighted to discover that her longtime crush is her homeroom teacher. She considers herself lucky until realising he has feelings for someone else, the beautiful and elegant music teacher. Hana finds solace in another student, attractive Mugi, who has been in love with the music teacher since she was his home tutor. Together, each can pretend that the other is the person they really wish they were with. They look like enviable high school sweethearts to the outside world, while they hide their true motivations from all but each other. SPOILERS: General discussion of the episode

[Review] Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid – episode 1

Miss Kobayashi, a developer, wakes up one morning to discover she invited a dragon to come and live with her as a maid while blind drunk the night before. The dragon, Tohru, can either appear as full dragon or mostly human with just a hefty dragon tail behind her, and must adapt to such human customs as “washing laundry without using your own saliva” or “cooking something other than your own tail”.

[Review] Hand Shakers – episode 1

Tazuna understands machines and can fix anything from cars to electronics. Visiting a university professor to fix something as a favour, he finds the professor’s room empty with a mysterious hospital room adjoining his office. Drawn to the hospital room, he finds a girl lying in a bed who wakes up and takes his hand. Her name is Koyori, and if he doesn’t keep hold of her hand she will die – easier said than done when they’re being chased by people attacking them with magical, destructive powers.

[Review] ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. – episode 1

Jean Otus and his younger sister live in an apartment building she manages as part of their family’s business, while Jean goes out to work as a federal inspector. On hearing the announcement that his department will soon close down, he goes on one last business trip to check the records in a branch office of ACCA, the organisation running essential services for the 13 districts it covers in the Dowa Kingdom.

[Review] Gabriel DropOut – episode 1

Gabriel is the highest achieving angel in her graduating class, who are descending to earth to learn more about humanity by attending schools as regular students. Gabriel sets up her own apartment and begins school and volunteer work with the best of intentions… until she discovers online gaming, which transforms her into a fully fledged trash character.

[Review] elDLIVE – episode 1

Chuta Kokonose is a middle school boy who has always had a voice in his head. It talks over the voices around him, and he inadvertently replies to it, meaning he often appears to be distracted or talking to himself. He lives in a muffin shop with his aunt since his parents died and tries not to interact too much with other people – not difficult as he has a reputation for being a bit weird. One day he’s helping out at the shop when he’s surrounded by a beam of light. The light transports him to a spaceship housing the space police elDLIVE, where they ask him to join the force and help capture bad aliens.

[Review] Idol Incidents – episode 1

Schoolgirl Natsuki Hoshina is singing in her village when the leader of the Heroine Party invites her to join the party and run for office – via auditioning for the Idol Dietwomen, a group of women who enter politics as idols. While training for the election, she practises with the well-respected Idol Dietwoman Shizuka Onimaru and deals with mudslinging from her opposition in the election.

[Review] Spiritpact – episode 1

Keika You’s ancestors were apparently famous exorcists, acknowledged by the emperor. Their status has fallen over the centuries and now Keika works part time in fortune telling, part time in computer repair. Broke with no family, partner, house or car, he dreams of being reincarnated when he is killed by a truck. However, rather than being reincarnated or accepting his death, exorcist Ki Tanmoku tries to convince him to become his ghost partner and help him rid the world of evil spirits.