This week: child welfare laws in Japan, the mental block of buying a completed vs ongoing series, and the importance of a trans actor playing Shinji Ikari.
Rises above the low modern bar for the genre with an overpowered female co-lead, but the male lead is still the chosen one.
A harem anime trying to cover how dull it is by using kink for shock value.
A moe comedy with a cute central dynamic (newbie tsundere demon vs chill magical girl) but a lot of screeching.
BL music series with a soft, natural dynamic between the leads and beautiful direction.
Standard wish-fulfillment isekai with disastrous production woes.
Surprisingly sweet and charming, though unclear if they can keep it up.
A 50th anniversary production with a good concept marred by poor execution.
The most popular entries in the genre have problems writing active, well-rounded women, but that doesn’t mean they’re all like that.
Nonbinary actor Casey Mongillo’s excellent vocal performance brings the gendered subtext of Shinji’s anxieties to the fore.
It wasn’t until Casey Mongillo came on the scene that I got a taste of what a more explicitly queer and trans Evangelion would be like. Right away, Mongillo differentiates themselves from original Japanese performer Megumi Ogata and original English dub actor Spike Spencer. Where Ogata was a cis woman performing masculinity, and Spencer was a cis male performing as a character questioning their identity, Mongillo’s delivery captures the delicate interplay between the masculine and feminine aspects of Shinji’s voice and personality, bringing his bodily and gendered anxieties to life in a way those two classic performers couldn’t.
Mongillo’s voice has a waver to it, a subtle lilt that undercuts Shinji’s attempts at manliness, even as you can feel the creep of puberty infect even their lightest deliveries. This extends to Shinji’s attempts at living up to his father’s masculine ideal, as Mongillo’s shrill, high-pitched, scream desperately claws at some kind of toughness. Casey Mongillo’s exacting control of their voice is not new for professional voice actors, and it’s certainly not new for trans women, but I’ve never seen it utilized this particular way.
What Horror Games Can Learn From The Witch’s House (Fanbyte, Cass Ball)
How this indie horror game uses mechanics to create distance between avatar and player and explore cycles of violence.
Even when there aren’t imminent threats, you will sometimes leave a room and see a seemingly inanimate object move towards you. At every step, the game reminds you that the violence you enact will chase you, that your environment is following you, and that your actions have consequences. Ellen is only returning to the house to escape her illness, but now she has to face violent traps that don’t discriminate. Each trap is a reminder of all the violence she enacted to get to this point. With ghosts chasing her, how can she ever be free?
Some of the puzzles are changed in the extra difficult mode. One room that used to be a normal puzzle now contains portraits of Ellen’s mom and dad, and demands you answer a series of questions about the Witch’s past. The final question is, “Who’s asking these questions?” Although it does not matter if you choose correctly, the correct answer is “the house’s will.” Even though Ellen and the house are connected and Ellen thinks she understands the house, the house is asserting that it has something to teach her. This moment of distance between Ellen and the house mirrors the distance between Ellen and the player. This distance reveals that Ellen is caught in a web of trauma and abandonment, trying to move past her years of feeling unlovable through violence.
Reformers in Japan Push for Change to Outdated Surname Law (Unseen Japan, Alyssa Pearl Fusek)
Current laws, which have been in place since the 19th century, require spouses to share a surname.
The law in question is Article 750 of the 1898 Civil Code, which states that a husband and wife must share a surname upon marriage. While there’s no specifics on whose last name should be used, the majority tend to use the husband’s surname. Couples can only legally use their own surnames again one year after divorce. While many people, usually women, use their maiden name in informal situations, many want to retain their individual identities in marriage or a civil partnership.
It should be noted that Japanese citizens who marry a foreigner are exempt from this law, something opponents of Article 750 point out as unconstitutional.
The most active leader in this case is Aono Yoshihisa (青野慶久), CEO of Tokyo-based software firm Cybozu, who operates under his original surname at work, but is legally known under his wife’s surname Nishihata. The quest for change didn’t begin with him, however — efforts to change the law picked up steam in 2015 when three women filed a joint lawsuit on the grounds that Article 750 enforced discrimination and outdated gender roles. The Supreme Court struck down the lawsuit, with the presiding judge stating that the practice of same surnames was deeply embedded in Japanese family identity. One of the plaintiffs of that case, Tsukamoto Kyoko, burst into tears upon hearing the court’s ruling.
HOW DID FANS REACT TO THE DEATHS OF THE SAILOR SOLDIERS? (Tuxedo Unmasked)
A snapshot of reactions to the original airing of the Dark Kingdom finale.
Another – and perhaps more interesting – story comes from a fan-letter section in the same issue of Animage called “Mom’s Too!” In it, a 32 year old mother offered her opinion on the matter. She noted that in real life, people don’t die and then magically come back, so she was opposed to the idea of the Sailor Team so imply being “reset” and then coming back to life as if nothing had happened. She was concerned that her daughter would take away the opposite lesson: that people die and come back, that death isn’t permanent, and may lose out on the importance of life.
A short history of child welfare laws in post-World War II Japan.
Despite the new amendment though, it was still difficult for the centers to respond to such cases, and the organization itself was preoccupied with some fundamental changes in infrastructure and responsibilities as it dealt with a huge post-Occupation influx of families who saw the departure of one parent as US forces returned home and some unique cases in the 60s involving delinquent orphans and attacks directed toward children under custody. So ultimately, it wasn’t until some nationally famous incidents, one in 1969 and one in 1973, both involving violent crimes committed by adults who had been regularly abused as children, that the public started to see domestic child abuse as a serious problem.
Further drawing public attention to the problem of child abuse was a series of incidents spanning 1970-1976, where dead babies were being abandoned and discovered in the public coin lockers developed in 1964. Due to the combined pressure from these public events the Ministry of Health and Welfare launched an investigation into cases involving the abuse, abandonment, and murder (or attempted murder) of infants under 3, revealing 401 cases on record in 1973. A year later in 1975, a seminar was held to discuss the problems in the system and how they could be improved, and while many were brought up—from the diverse nature of cases, to problems protecting the rights of children—but until Japan agreed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 the organization was still unable to legally address cases of child abuse from a human rights perspective.
Bear Bodies (Unwinnable, Jeremy Signor)
An essay on desirable masculinity in games, and how the bear physique breaks molds.
Now normally, it takes a bit of a leap to queer videogame characters that aren’t intended to be gay fodder, but Capcom really leaned into the homoerotic subtext of their characters, even going so far as to make a professional wrestling game and turning the bear bait up to 11. Saturday Night Slam Masters is a quality wrestling game in an era that was flooded with poor ones, but it also very nearly gave you explicit permission to be attracted to its characters if you were gay and liked beefy guys. After all, its Japanese subtitle translates to “The Body Explosion.” Never mind that professional wrestling already stood at the cusp of being homoerotic without hardly any mental gymnastics. Intersecting it with videogame characters like Mike Haggar – who appeared in the game as the only crossover character on the roster – created, well, a body explosion. Just one that the developers may not have been envisioning.
Singer stabbed by stalker sues police for failing to act on threats (The Asahi Shimbun)
Mayu Tomita, still recovering from her injuries, claims the police failed to act despite her repeated requests for help.
The MPD later acknowledged in its review report that officers could not prevent the attack because they did not grasp the seriousness of Tomita’s situation. Their assessment at the time was that Iwazaki was unlikely to carry out an imminent attack.
But the officers’ misjudgment is not the only reason Tomita, along with her mother, decided to take legal action against the police department.
Tomita said that when she was recuperating in a hospital, officers asked her if she really had said that she “may be killed” during the earlier consultation.
“I absolutely did,” Tomita recalled replying.
Tomita said the more she learned about the police handling of her case through the review report, the more disgusted she became.
Tweet: A call for brown and Black scholars in animanga fandom—check the replies.
Thread: A summary of the Vic Mignogna deposition.
Thread: On the issues of manga cost and the mental block of perceived financial commitment
BONUS: An extremely cool Sailor Mars poi spinning cosplay
Let’s all take a moment to tip our hats to the under-celebrated writers in shounen.