AniFem Round-Up, 22-28 December 2021: Difficulty as Accessibility Issue, Aggretsuko Season 4, and Year-End Lists

By: Anime Feminist December 28, 20210 Comments
A man in Sengoku-era dress looking exaggeratedly distressed at the stoic woman beside him

AniFem Round-Up

Re:Zero’s critique of Nice Guy Subaru and supposedly selfless love

Bray Lawrence examines how Subaru’s time loop powers drive him to view Emilia less as a person and more an object to be won, and how his arc centers around challenging that behavior.

The Sound of Depression: Liminal Spaces, Sound Design, and Super Cub

Mercedez analyzes how Super Cub uses sound and visual design to convey its heroine’s struggles with depression and her journey toward self-acceptance.

What was your favorite anime of 2021?

Yup, it’s that time already.

Beyond AniFem

Difficulty in Video Games is Accessibility (Can I Play That?, Vanessa)

Framing difficulty options as a matter not of reducing challenge but calibrating the challenge of play to a wider variety of players.

When we talk about difficulty as an accessibility feature, we’re not asking for worlds to be wholly devoid of challenge, engagement, or the core mechanics — we’re asking for solutions that can be adjusted and catered for many people. On the topic of ‘core mechanics’ and ‘designer vision’, there has yet to be a philosophy that actually says ‘if you’re not the best at the game you don’t deserve to play.’  Challenge is a subjective topic for me, I like to add challenges on my own terms. 

For some, the challenge is learning the different ways you can beat a game you love, or playing once on normal, then again on hard.  By viewing difficulty through the lens of accessibility, it opens a world of evaluating not just how to make your game available to as many people as possible, but also critically looking at how your game is held together. How can difficulty be parsed?  

People will often propose, for example, something like ‘if we lower their health too much, it will make it too easy’, but rather than look at it as a detriment, it can be viewed two different ways:

What is the end goal of lowering the health?  Who is this change for?  

Is the health in a more manageable difficulty too low, or is the health overall across all modes too low? How will players know it has been lowered? Visual cues? Numbers?

BLog: I Think Our Son Is Gay Vol. 1 (MJ Lyons Writes)

Mini-review of the healing slice-of-life manga.

Okura mentions in I Think Our Son Is Gay Vol. 2 that publishing the manga gave him courage to come out to his mom, which is wholesome. I don’t believe I Think Our Son Is Gay could be written by anyone other than a gay guy–or the mangaka mother of a gay son, which would be rad. Even if Hiroki’s life is a little more idyllic than the probably gay teenage experience, the reference points are just too specific, and it still confronts issues that impact probably gay kids. Plus there are moments where, even if it’s nothing catastrophic, Tomoko feels overwhelmed about being a parent in certain situations, trying to do her best to support her kids while also acknowledging the harder reality they might face. The fact that a loving mother of a probably gay son could pick this up and see a loving mother of a probably gay son dealing with very real life situations gives me hope for all the probably gay kids out there.

Chocolate maker in central Japan thrives with many disabled staff in workforce (The Mainichi)

Quon chocolate pays its employees 50,000 yen a month, more than ten times what they would receive from a welfare facility.

But as he learned more about it, he discovered that chocolate was the perfect sweet to be created by “disabled people” because the process is easy to follow with a clear objective in mind.

As the company makes pure chocolates without adding any oil, it requires handwork to temper chocolates with varying temperatures depending on the kinds of cacao, which the company has delivered from some 30 countries, Natsume said.

“Even if we fail, chocolates can be melted again,” Natsume said. “Unlike bread or other sweets, chocolates adjust to people who make them,” he said, adding that there is no rush to make the products.

“If there are people with differing abilities, I don’t want them to adjust. Instead, I want them to remain as they are and be considerate of each other so we can work as a team like putting the pieces of a puzzle together,” he said.

Aggretsuko season 4 should inspire everyone to unionize their workplace (Polygon, Petrana Radulovic)

Season 4’s narrative deals heavily with new management’s downsizing of senior employees.

A good portion of Aggretsuko has always been focused on Retsuko’s worklife. The first season dealt a lot with her feeling jaded towards her job and frustrated with Director Ton’s frankly rude treatment, while season 2 juggled exasperating co-workers. Seeing the characters commiserate about workplace politics isn’t atypical, but with the fate of their jobs in the air for once, the stakes are more dire than just dealing with a gossipy deskmate. None of them are happy about this situation, and the main takeaway seems to be that they can’t really do anything about it.

But that’s where they’re wrong! It’s time for collective action! Unionize your workplace! Stand together against unjust layoffs, fight against workplace discrimination, and rally as one!

Now, I do recognize that the show (1) takes place in Japan, where, as the characters explain, workplace laws are very different (for instance, it’s nearly impossible to lay anyone off directly, so management ends up encouraging workers to resign instead); (2) follows an accounting department, a career path I know little about; and (3) is about talking animals, so my specific experiences are not necessarily applicable. But watching the workers receive unfair treatment — especially poor Kabae, who is denied time off to take care of her sick child, and told that she may want to consider being a stay-at-home parent if she cannot prioritize work over her family — lit a spark in me and made me super thankful for my own workplace union.

Let’s Go! Anime Criticism in 2021 (Isn’t it Electrifying?, wendeego)

Round-up of articles and videos from over the year (including our Alex).

A few days ago I wrote up a thread on anime criticism I enjoyed reading/watching in 2021. I didn’t want it to be lost to the winds of time, so I decided to make a copy here! Feel free to scroll down and check out whatever seems most interesting to you.

Best Otome Games of 2021 (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

A community and personal list of popular titles from the year past.

2021 might as well be called the year of otome with the sheer number of new releases we got this year! I have been playing otome games for years now and this is the first time Western otome fans have had so much variety, from rom-coms to fantasy to action thrillers, we have our pick of the litter. On top of that more publishers are dipping their toes into the wonderful ikemen filled world of otome (which may create a bit of healthy competition~).

While the number of English language releases are still nowhere near the number of otome released in Japan, it does make me hopeful that there will be even more great releases on the horizon in the future. So I also asked folks to share some of the otome games they’d love to see localized in 2022~

The opportunism of celebrating Nobel laureates as ‘Japanese’ despite foreign citizenship (The Mainichi, Yukinao Kin)

The criticisms center largely on Japan’s strict citizenship laws alongside its eagerness to claim citizens of Japanese descent from other nations when they prove to be famous and accomplished.

“To widen the definition of who is ‘Japanese’ when it’s internationally beneficial, and to narrow it when it’s not, is characteristic of Japanese society,” said Julian Keane, a sociologist and special lecturer at Showa Women’s University in Tokyo. An expert on the topic of “hafu” or biracial people, he has an American father and a Japanese mother.

Article 11 of Japan’s Nationality Law stipulates that “A Japanese national shall lose Japanese nationality when he or she acquires a foreign nationality by his or her own choice.” This means [Nobel Prize winner] Manabe legally stopped being Japanese when he became a U.S. citizen.

According to a study by Maastricht University in the Netherlands, as of 2020, 76% of countries recognized that a single person could have multiple nationalities. Cases like Japan, where people are forced to abandon their previous nationality, are extremely rare.

“Overseas, there is the fundamental idea that taking away one’s roots and identity demands extreme caution. In contrast, in Japan, the state easily takes that away from you, but when it comes to people who have made great accomplishments, they are emphasized as being ‘Japanese,'” Keane said.

It was the same when Japanese-British author Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, but only lived there until age 5. Still, a wealth of discourse tried to find something pointing to a certain “Japaneseness” in him.

TWEET: Excerpted comments from a director at Cloverworks about production/studio issues.

THREAD: Discussion of Urasawa Naoki’s decision to finally make his works available digitally, and the reasoning behind his reluctance.

THREAD: News on a recent protest against working conditions for college lecturers.

AniFem Community

If you’ve been holding off to see the best of the seasonal stuff, this is a great time to peruse people’s lists.

I will run with the ambiguity of the plural of series so that I can list Super Cub, Shadows House and Heike Monogatari.  For a sequel, I'll say Megalobox Nomad, less because it was my favorite to watch and more because it improved the most from the original season as a story.  Ascendance of Bookworm is definitely my most anticipated continuation for next year, even though I am pretty confident it will end before the parts I really want to see adapted happen.
Sk8!! I've said it before and I'll say it again, someone please give Hiroko Utsumi all the monies to keep doing whatever she wants to do.

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