This week: living as a disabled person in Japan, high death rates for Vietnamese immigrant workers and students, and a retrospective on .hack//sign.
A siscon show whose most defining element is that it’s really boring and visually hideous.
Teens are forced to have sex to save the world; the actual sex is mostly obscured, and a lot of the prospective female characters look awfully underage.
Despite the strong puppet-battling fantasy premise, manages to be less than the sum of its parts.
A fluffy straight rom-com with uneven pacing and some stapled-on fanservice.
A cute, family-friendly monster-befriending fantasy show.
A list of our premieres in bite-sized form, with links and content warnings.
Vrai chats with guests Devin Randall and Masaki C. Matsumoto about personal histories and thoughts on BL.
We want to know what sorts of topics readers are interested in, to hopefully incorporate them more in future.
How I Learned to Love the “Damsel in Distress” (VRV, S.R. Westwood)
An article about coming to appreciate Anthy Himemiya’s strength and agency.
The girl who isn’t like other girls often “wins”. The guy gushes “you’re nothing like those silly, shallow other girls.” In Utena, Anthy’s villainous brother Akio tries this angle, telling Utena that it must be hard to be friends with Anthy. But as Anthy says “all girls are Rose Brides. That is, being the “different girl” is a false escape from a world that hates women—notice how Akio thinks Utena would make a “pretty princess” if he could clip her wings.
Misogynists like Touga—the head of the student council which duels among themselves for control of Anthy—and Akio are written as despising femininity, seeing it as synonymous with weakness even as they desire to own it for themselves. Akio describes it as being a “living corpse,” and Anthy plays the part of the “sexy lamp”—a near literal object. Anthy plays that role and seems to believe it—that her prince can only be a man, because only men or those who have taken on a male role can have agency. Of course, the girl not like other girls lives on tenuous of male approval a state that puts her in just as much of a cage as all other women.
Breaking the ‘girl code’ and internalized racism (April Magazine, Vi Nguyen)
A discussion of the harm of internalized racism, specifically as it pertains to Asian-American communities.
Unfortunately, our internalized racism can also lead us to disempower other minorities with our actions. Recently, a video recording surfaced of an Asian American woman sitting at a table with a group of African Americans. Despite being told that the table was private, she told the African American woman and her group to “shut the f*** up,” and didn’t leave despite being asked to do so. In the end, the African American group attending the event was asked to leave while she was allowed to stay.
Afterwards, the video went viral, and she was called out by multiple news outlets as well as by several members of the African American and Asian American communities. Her internalized racism was reflected in her word choice and actions, singling out the African American group over groups of White Americans, and treating them more poorly. In this way she was asserting her assumed superiority over her African American counterparts by implying she was more deserving of the table.
Family of idol who committed suicide sues production firm (The Asahi Shimbun)
The family alleges the young woman took her life following threats and power harassment from her employers.
Omoto’s family claims that the reasons for her suicide were the heavy workload and repeated power harassment by the production company’s representative director, Takahiro Sasaki.
“On the morning of the day she died, Honoka said she was scared to see the president,” said Omoto’s mother and plaintiff, Yukie Omoto, 42, at a news conference after filing the lawsuit on the same day.
The plaintiff also claimed that Sasaki demanded Omoto to pay a “100 million yen” ($890,000) penalty if she left the group.
The company has denied making such a demand, as well as legal responsibility over her death.
Ladies & The Law: The Case That Recognized Hostile Workplace Sexual Harassment (Savvy Tokyo, Vicki L. Beyer)
Employee K. was harassed into forcibly resigning by a male coworker and successfully sued in a case that also established employer responsibility to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
Nonetheless, the Fukuoka District Court was convinced that H.’s behavior in spreading rumors about K. to damage her reputation and force her out of the company constituted an infringement of her rights to bodily integrity, liberty, honor, life, reputation, and privacy. The court went on to say that K. had a right to a non-hostile work environment, and H.’s behavior also breached that right. Once the court acknowledged K.’s rights and H.’s breach of her rights, it followed that H. had violated Article 709 and therefore owed damages to K.
Perhaps even more ground-breaking, the court held that the company had a responsibility to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Effectively this meant that the company’s attitude of “this is a personal problem; work it out between yourselves” was unacceptable. Finally, the court determined that by forcing the female employee to be the one to resign, the company had failed to treat men and women equally as required by Japan’s Equal Employment Opportunity Law (which had only been enacted in 1986).
Vietnamese interns, students die in succession in Japan (The Asahi Shimbun, Ari Hirayama)
The article reports a high number of suicides among Vietnamese students and workers in Japan due to hostile working conditions, among other factors.
Amid the increase in the numbers of foreign students and technical intern trainees in Japan, many have died due to overwork, failing health or pressure in their daily lives.
Experts say that it is necessary to improve the working environment and take more support measures for foreign trainees and students in Japan.
Of the three technical intern trainees whose tablets is at Nisshinkutsu temple, one, who was doing a painting-related job, killed himself on July 15. He left suicide notes to his company, his younger brother who was also living in Japan and his family in Vietnam.
The messages read, “It’s painful because there is violence and bullying.”
He called his brother and said, “I’m lonely. I’m drinking beer alone.” The next day, he was found hanging by a river.
The death certificate of a 31-year-old man who died in June ruled that the cause of death was acute heart failure. Another technical intern trainee in his 20s was found dead when his co-worker went to his room to wake him in the morning.
The short-lived, now-streamable .hack//SIGN might be the best gaming anime of all time (Polygon, Eric Thurm)
A retrospective on the proto-“stuck inside a videogame” anime and its thematic merit.
To be sure, there are lots of aspects of .hack//SIGN that feel almost quaint: The relationship players have to the idea of their characters dying, the near-taboo against looking up information about other players outside of The World, the almost-total lack of knowledge about the version histories of the game and who made it. Still, the question .hack//SIGN asks continues to resonate, between all forms of escapist media and online interaction: If we play games in part to escape our relationships in the “real world,” at what point do the people we play with become more important, and when do we become obligated to them? What is worth logging out for?
The answer, it turns out, is lesbian romance. Subaru and Tsukasa’s connection becomes the core of the show, founded as it is on their shared recognition of each other’s trauma and difficult life experiences. (Where Tsukasa is the victim of abuse, Subaru suffers from serious health problems and is paraplegic, playing The World as a way to experience motion.) Once Tsukasa has begun the hard work of processing what’s happened to him — and once Subaru has confirmed that she is interested in the real Tsukasa, independent of his gender — they agree to see each other in the real world.
Beyond “Canon Gay”: Introducing Queerness Quadrants (AniGay, Elizabeth Simins)
A proposed system of analysis that divides queer analysis along quadrants of literal/metaphorical and implicit/explicit queerness.
The idea of symbolic or metaphorical queerness is a pretty common one in queer theory and discourse, and tends to refer to ways other than queerness in which characters are alienated from mainstream society. For example, part-human characters (like vampires or werewolves) whose literal monstrosity can’t be totally concealed and who therefore live in fear of being discovered (or “outed”) can easily be interpreted as being metaphorically queer.
But the line between metaphorical and literal queerness is blurry: A male vampire with a human boyfriend, for example, would be both metaphorically and literally queer. His boyfriend would only be literally queer — but the story as a whole could easily fall into either category, or somewhere between the two. And there are other, less obvious ways metaphorical queerness can be conveyed, like with characters who are social outcasts for non-supernatural reasons, such as struggling artists, career criminals, and other people who live on the fringes of society.
Forced abortion, sterilization cases among deaf rises to 127 (The Asahi Shimbun, Yoko Tanaka)
Investigations of those affected by the post-war eugenics law began early this year, with new victims continuing to come forward.
After cases of forced sterilization made national headlines in early 2018, the federation launched an investigation among people with hearing loss in March, and contacted those concerned or their family members through the JFD’s prefectural member groups.
The latest results included 83 female and 26 male victims. In a number of cases, women were forced to have an abortion and then a sterilization procedure to prevent another pregnancy.
Of the 127 cases uncovered so far, 46 were sterilization operations on women, 26 were on men, 39 were abortions and 16 were cases where respondents did not know what type of procedures were taken.
Little documentation was found that indicated whether the surgeries were done in accordance with the eugenics law, or whether individual consent was given.
Learning what life in Japan is like for people with disabilities (The Japan Times, Magdalena Osumi)
The recent Lives Tokyo event was held in hopes of building public empathy among able-bodied citizens and opening new opportunities for disabled individuals.
In Japan, a law for people with disabilities obliges companies and government organizations to employ a certain percentage of people with physical, intellectual or mental impairments. The current target is 2.2 percent of the workforce at firms with least 46 workers and from 2.3 percent to 2.5 percent in national and local government bodies. But according to the labor ministry, people with disabilities accounted for just 1.97 percent of the workforce in 2017 at firms obliged to meet the target.
“The government does call for embracing diversity, but it is often in the context of offering a helping hand to those with disabilities, not viewing on an equal level. But I hope they’ll focus on promoting people’s strengths,” said Hikaru Wakimoto, 28, who came to the event looking for hints on how to improve communication and the working environment within her workplace.
Her organization, Tokyo Diversity Lab, offers programs enabling people to experience the world from the perspective of people with disabilities by, for instance, writing calligraphy in absolute darkness. Wakimoto works with hearing and visually impaired colleagues.
BONUS THREAD: A discussion of the relationship between anime, fandom, and fascism:
there's a really good & important piece to be written on the relationship between anime & fascism. but it'd be really long & complicated & not amenable to blanket statements re. anime's politics, or that of its viewers, or of japanese ppl as a whole.
— THE ENIGMATIC GAB 🕊️⚔️🚬 (@gabbomatic) October 16, 2018
We’ve gotten lots of great feedback and are definitely taking notes!
I'm always pleased when AniFem covers disability – though I do appreciate this depends on who pitches to them.
— Rugose Appendage (@rugoseappendage) October 16, 2018
I would love to see more manga related content. Like reviews or roundtables maybe even podcasts. I really loved the shojo manga podcast and the recent BL manga podcast.
— Hanna Paquette (@HannaPaquette) October 15, 2018