[Links] 1-7 November 2017

By: Anime Feminist November 7, 20170 Comments
A girl in a coat and scarf holding a steaming drink, looking at someone in her peripheral vision

Depressing news about the fight for gender equality, academic studies of BL, and hobby manga.

AniFem Round-Up

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

Chiaki Hirai discusses a real-world set story about a lesbian marriage that failed to research the actuality of that experience.

[Perspectives] Searching for neurodivergent role models in anime

Patricia Baxter describes three characters who reflect her experience living with mental illness and autism.

[AniFemTalk] Favorite female friendships

What are your favorite examples of platonic bonds between women?


Beyond AniFem

Unconscious bias holds back Japan’s female potential, head of international trade body says (The Japan Times, Noriyuki Suzuki)

No kidding, say feminists. But really, Gonzalez cites Japan’s veneration of long hours without respecting women’s expected roles in maintaining households.

Arancha Gonzalez, executive director of the International Trade Center, said Japan’s business culture that cherishes long work hours poses a challenge to women who have “unpaid” work — like taking care of children and parents — under their “disproportionate” household responsibilities.

“Japan has huge potential in women, potential especially in the area of the economy that Japan is not using fully,” Gonzalez said in a recent interview.

The International Trade Center, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, seeks to promote international trade and advance the role of female entrepreneurs.

Gonzalez stressed the importance of waking up to the fact that people, even if they think they are gender-friendly, often have gender bias without knowing it.

Eight years of Otaku Journalist, Part 1 (Otaku Journalist)

AniFem contributor Lauren Orsini counts down some of her most popular articles; here including an essay on BL and rape culture.

Eight years is an incredibly long time to have a blog. I’ve gone through four visual redesigns and countless directional shifts, in which I prioritize different topics. But I don’t blog in a vacuum and it’s always been my readers who have set the pace.

With that in mind, I’m going to take the rest of November to look at the 20 most popular posts of all time on Otaku Journalist, according to the Google Analytics tracker I first placed in the site code on November 14, 2009, and share my own insights.

Let’s get started with #20-16 this week. We’ll end with #5-1 on November 27.

Complex Age: A Hobby Manga Set in Reality (Yatta-Tachi, Crystal Holdefer)

A discussion of manga, all starring female protagonists, as the characters struggle to maintain their passionate hobbies in the real world.

Complex Age offers a new situation in hobby manga. Its main character, Nagisa Kataura, is a twenty-six-year-old with a “weird” hobby who is still trying to fit into society. Nagisa appears as an ordinary office worker to the outside world, but she’s secretly a cosplayer and a famous one at that. She is passionate about embodying the anime and manga characters she cosplays, and her hard labor and dedication have earned her a respectful reputation in the cosplay community.

However, to the rest of society, her hobby is unusual and childish, so she must keep it a secret. Yet as she tries to find a balance between the two parts of her life, the little incidents that she was able to brush off before begin to escalate and everything she’s worked so hard for is tested.

Zama serial-murder suspect used Twitter to prey upon young suicidal women (The Japan Times)

A pretty horrific account of the killer’s methodology preying on mentally ill young women. The article itself falls into talking about the killer’s supposed “soft side” as reported by neighbors.

According to investigators, Shiraishi created an account under the username “hangingpro” with a bio that describes a desire to spread the user’s supposed expertise about hanging. The profile photo shows a manga-like illustration of a young man wearing a necktie made of a hanging rope. The character’s neck and wrist show scars.

The profile adds: “I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM me anytime.”

One of the account’s tweets, posted on Oct. 21, discussed victims of bullying as well as those who have attempted suicide.

“Bullying is everywhere, in school and at work,” the post read. “There must be many people in society who are suffering after attempting suicides, though their cases are not reported in the news. I want to help such people.”

5 Ways Marriage Proposals And Engagements Are Different In Japan (Savvy Tokyo, Kiri Falls)

Not a thorough poll but rather a conversation with half a dozen Japanese women about their experiences.

While my survey was by no means exhaustive, two out of the six women I interviewed had proposed to their husbands. This was surprising. I have seen dozens of friends and acquaintances get engaged back home, and it is always the man who does the proposing. When a woman proposes to her male partner, it’s so unusual that it’s remarked upon.

Broadly speaking, it’s probably not all that common in Japan either. But the casualness with which both friends mentioned it – and the fact that neither are rebels against society – makes me think it might be less of a big deal here for a lady to propose to her man.

“It wasn’t a typical way to propose,” Miho confirms, while talking about how she asked her husband to marry her after they had had a fight. “But I sometimes hear of the same situation.” The woman asking, not the fight, she clarifies.

The Wonderful World of Fantasy: Uncovering The Ancient Magus’ Bride and Diana Wynne Jones (Part 1) (Crunchyroll, incomplexity)

A look at how world-building and magic create the bedrock for a coming-of-age story and character agency.

It’s important to note that Jones and Yamazaki are not concerned with using magic as a means to deprive characters of agency. Whereas many main protagonists in fantasy stories are marked by a prophecy or self-fulfilling quest, most of Jones’ characters and Chise are not weighed down by the burden of expectations. This does not mean that they don’t have responsibilities, but that they have to make active choices on a much more personal scale. It also doesn’t mean that these characters start off as self-realized individuals. On the contrary, they’re often used as pawns in the complex political world of the magical, betrayed by their own naivety and innocence. In Magus’ Bride, Chise is often led into quests she cannot help but be drawn to, simply because of her kindness and empathy, much in the same way Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle is tied up in a Witch’s curse due to her simple nature. The Ancient Magus’ Bride tackles this topic especially well with making someone like Chise the main protagonist.


The manga tries to grapple with feelings of isolation, queerness, and attraction via a magical sex change device, but fumbles the conclusion.

Ayumu and Mori are essentially stuck with each other due to being alone in the world, but those same circumstances are forcing distance between them. They can’t help but wonder if their relationship was ever going to work in the first place, but now they share an experience that no one else can understand. What does this mean for them? This is a fascinating central conflict within their relationship, one that makes the manga well worth a closer look. They are forced together, but also thrust into completely different worlds. They cannot understand each other, yet they must. However, for all the manga’s strengths, the ending stumbles a bit.

Japan drops by three to 114th in gender equality rankings by World Economic Forum (The Japan Times)

Japan is dead last among the G7, and estimates have the country taking two centuries to reach theoretical gender parity.

In recent years, women have made significant progress toward equality in a number of areas such as education and health, with the Nordic countries leading the fray.

But the global trend now seems to have made a U-turn, especially in workplaces, where full gender equality is not expected to materialize until 2234.

“A decade of slow but steady progress on improving parity between the sexes came to a halt in 2017, with the global gender gap widening for the first time since the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006,” the report said.

A year ago, WEF estimated that it would take 83 years to close the remaining gap.

But since then women’s steady advances in the areas of education, health and political representation have plateaued, and for the fourth year running, equality in the workplace has slipped further from view.


An academic exploration of the history of BL and the conversation between Japanese and Western cultures (in and out of texts).

In a more modern context, there is still a clear emphasis on the romantic appeal and sexual dominance of the West in BL manga. Kazuhiko Nagaike’s article “Elegant Caucasians, Amorous Arabs, and Invisible Others: Signs and Images of Foreigners in Japanese BL Manga” examines representation of racial others, particularly White people and Arabs in monthly magazines that serialize BL manga; Nagaike discusses the racial implications of the large presence of White (or mixed-with-White) and Arab characters in BL, particularly the ways in which they are consistently portrayed as sexually dominant—as the seme in, to quote Miyake, “the boys’ love/yaoi code of seme (active, stronger, penetrating character) and uke (passive, weaker, receiving character) pairings” (Miyake, 2013, para. 4.5; Nagaike, 2009, para. 9). Nagaike argues that this parallels larger sociopolitical ideas regarding the feminine East in opposition to the masculine West, framing White characters as “superior others” in BL works (2009, para. 15-16). In contrast, Arab characters, also primarily represented as seme, are inscribed as “symbols of eroticism by means of Orientalistic images of harems and polygamy” (Nagaike 2009, para. 20), certainly masculine, but still depicted in a mysterious, largely unchanging and feminized vision of the Middle East. This reaffirmation of Western dominance and representations of Orientalist ideas of Arabs in BL texts (not to mention the conspicuous absence and negative depictions of non-Japanese Asian characters and Black characters) demonstrate women’s romantic fantasies’ complex entanglement with racism, something which is especially critical to examine in the context of BL’s globalization: as Western fans read their own fantasies and desires into works depicting Japanese women’s fantasies and desires, problematic racial dynamics are reinterpreted through a more globally dominant perspective, and this creates new points of fan engagement and complications surrounding representation and power in BL fan cultures.

Ivanka Trump, a Media Darling in Japan, Draws Light Turnout in Tokyo (The New York Times, Motoko Rich)

A snapshot of how Ivanka Trump is viewed by Japanese audiences. Comments focused on her appearance as much as her statements, and Trump took no questions after her speech.

“She is a beautiful female leader,” Rena Hayakawa, 21, a political science major at Meiji University in Tokyo, said before the speech. “Her fashion is great. She is a role model for women.” Maina Tanaka, 33, a financial trade dealer, said that she appreciated Ms. Trump’s “fair views on politics and economy” and that she respected how Ms. Trump “stays positive and gorgeous.”

Mieko Nakabayashi, a professor of politics at Waseda University, said Ms. Trump’s glamour would draw attention to the cause of women.

“She’s not just an official, but also a princess of the president,” said Ms. Nakabayashi, who spent a decade working as a budget staff member in the United States Senate. “So that kind of celebrity is really liked in Japan.”

Ms. Nakabayashi added that many Japanese women were not yet conscious about the large pay gap between men and women. “Therefore, for the Japanese government, getting attention is really an important step.”

In her speech, Ms. Trump focused on initiatives in the United States, citing the president’s budget plan for paid family leave and his administration’s proposed tax changes, which she said would “put more money back in the pockets of hard-working Americans.”



AniFem Community

You all listed some great friendships (well, some of you listed romantic relationships as if they were platonic, but that’s an AniFemTalk for another day), and it’s been a pleasure to highlight them.

I think my favorite female friendships that come to mind are Nana and Hachi (Nana), the ladies of Amamizukan (Princess Jellyfish), and the trio of main characters from Himegoto. Nana and Hachi while they come from different backgrounds and have different experiences with family and love they still develop a deep friendship and support each other. The ladies of Amamizukan are all fangirls of various things that don't align with the others but they still accept their fangirliness and later support each other when they try to save their home. The college aged trio of Himegoto-Juukyusai...are two women and a fluid man, who each struggle with their gender and sexual identities and while their relationship becomes at times co-dependent they eventual find healthy expressions they're all happy with.


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