This week: the Kase-san OVA, the best couples, and Kyoto Sekai University elects the Mali-born Oussouby Sacko as its president.
A sweet, chill healing anime with handsome boys, a one-off career woman who speaks well to how the series will write its female characters, and a lot of food porn.
A Slayers-style “broke losers in an absurd fantasy universe” comedy poking fun at mobile games; a few potential pitfalls but a lot of great female characters.
Dull, ugly, and mean-spirited, particularly toward the teenage girls it’s ostensibly marketed to.
Not content to be sleazy exploitation about mind control slavery, it also thinks it has Deep Thoughts about all this.
A roundup of all our premiere reviews with content warnings.
The watchalong digs into virtue coding of whiteness and thinness and talks about women in competition (or not).
Everything’s premiered now—what’re you watching?
A lady-led romantic comedy about working adults who are also huge nerds.
13 amazing anime couples that’ll make you believe in love again (The Daily Dot, Caitlin Moore)
A love letter to some of anime’s best ships, including queer couples.
11) Tiger and Bunny: Kotetsu Kaburagi and Barnaby Brooks Jr.
The creators of the comic-inspired superhero show Tiger and Bunny say it’s up to fans to decide for themselves whether they think Kotetsu and Barnaby’s bond is platonic and romantic. Well, this fan has decided they’re in love, and it’s real and true and pure. When the series opens, Kotetsu, a widowed professional superhero, is struggling with aging and his declining popularity. To boost his ratings, his sponsors partner him with Barnaby, a new hero who is handsome, young, charismatic, and has the exact same powers.
At first the two squabble like children, but once they start to get along, their bond is inseparable. At the start of the story, the two are both enormously emotionally damaged, isolating themselves by clinging to loose threads in their lives. Their partnership helps both of them learn how to open up and trust someone else, saving each other as well as their city.
The ‘good witch’ who wrote Japanese classic Kiki’s Delivery Service (BBC News, Sakiko Shiraishi & Yvette Tan)
The author behind the original Kiki’s Delivery Service book received an award for excellence in children’s literature.
The biennial award is presented to an author whose “complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature.”
“I had no idea I could have [such an award],” Ms Kadono said at the award reception.
“It is such an honour… being read by many people, all over the world.”
Yet the acclaimed author says her stories do not belong to her, but rather, her readers.
“The significance of storytelling is, once it is handed to readers, it becomes theirs,” said Ms Kadono.
“[And as] you read and read, you create your own dictionary in you. And those words will be your strength through your life.”
Seeing your dysphoria in someone else’s story. Inside Mari and me. (Medium, Brooke Holden)
A discussion of how Inside Mari reflects the feeling of dysphoria.
Seeing my dysphoria and pre-transition angst mirrored with eerie accuracy was extremely difficult. Reading this manga felt like I was reliving all of it and it took a LOT out of me to get through it. I consider it to be one of the most important transgender related works out of Japan. It is not my place to make assumptions about the authors life, where they might go, and who or what they might be. We all have to find our own paths. I was able to overcome my internalised transphobia and self hatred. I am healing the scars of my masculinity. I just hope that the author can find healing too.
What MEGALOBOX Gets Right That Ready Player One Gets Wrong (Crunchyroll, Chad Landon Smith)
On franchise updates and how to synthesize the appeal of the original while making it relevant.
I really do think all of that is rooted in the desire to project all of one’s anxieties and fears of a future where our leaders will destroy the world, but instead of being one of the people who simply dies in the resulting devastation, we imagine ourselves in this “awesome” post-destruction wasteland where we can rage against the existential forces that brought us here and become someone better in the process. I think that sort of fantastical anxiety is just as relevant now as it was then. As a kid, I really did think there was going to be some sort of nuclear war between Russia and the US, and yeah, if it came I wanted to be that wastelands warrior ninja with an AK-47 shooting Soviet Kung Fu zombies. The faces involved have changed, but many of those same anxieties still exist in many people’s minds given current political developments.
This also recasts that underdog rivalry. Junk Dog isn’t just the “little guy” looking to prove his worth in a world where fame and the like have more clout than actual skill. He’s an undocumented non-civilian who can’t get a real job or real boxing bouts because of his “illegal” status. That his rival isn’t just the most renown boxer in the world, but also the “chosen one” of the woman who runs the corporate hierarchy behind boxing, turns it into a struggle between social and economic classes. That anxiety that worked in the 80s is being recast 30+ years later into a scenario fitting for our times.
In Homogeneous Japan, an African-Born University President (The Asahi Shimbun, Motoko Rich)
A discussion of both how Mr. Sacko became a Japanese citizen and president of Kyoto Sekai University and the difficulties faced by Black foreigners living in Japan.
Twenty percent of its student body comes from abroad, much higher than the 4 percent overall ratio of foreign students in Japanese higher education. Sacko said he hoped to raise Kyoto Seika’s level to 40 percent within a decade.
“I think he will help shrink the distance between Japanese and foreigners,” said Chihiro Morita, 18, an illustration major from Hyogo Prefecture.
Other black residents of Japan said Sacko could help improve race relations in a country where performers still appear on television in blackface.
“The fact that he has been placed in such a prominent position will have a significant impact on how we’re perceived,” said Baye McNeil, a Brooklyn-born black columnist for the English-language Japan Times who has lived in Japan for 13 years.
Sacko said he had not experienced racism in Japan but said he was treated differently simply because he does not look Japanese. Despite his Japanese citizenship, for example, he says he is automatically routed to lines for foreigners at the airport when he returns from trips abroad. “It’s not because you’re black,” he said. “It’s because you’re different.”
Fairy Tales and Flowerbeds: Messing with Genre in Revolutionary Girl Utena and Yurikuma Arashi (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)
Analysis of how the two shows explore genres in order to shift, question, and disrupt them.
Utena, introduced as a fairy tale, meticulously takes apart the usual fairy tale structure and points out the problems with it. Specifically, how this narrative forces people into restrictive roles. It uses the “a girl who cannot become a Princess is doomed to become a Witch” mantra to highlight the double standards women are trapped in, with no room for ambiguity. It presents a girl who seeks to be a fairy tale Prince to shake up the gendered conceptions of what exactly is “Princely”, and, not satisfied with simply critiquing the gender roles embedded in a statement like “a girl can never be a Prince”, rips the very fabric of the Prince archetype apart to reveal it as a false and damaging ideal couched in patriarchal concepts of masculine perfection that hurt boys as much as they hurt girls. The conventions of the fairy tale are turned upside down and then broken, symbolised quite nicely by the upended Disney Princess castle that hangs ominously above the duelling arena, only to turn out to have been an illusion the entire time.
Renowned bridal designer Yumi Katsura’s walk down the aisle to international success (Japan Today, Alexandra Homma)
An interview with one of Japan’s most influential fashion designers.
When Yumi Katsura opened Japan’s first bridal store in 1964, little did she know that she was launching a quiet revolution. Despite nearly two decades passing since the end of World War II, Japan in the early 1960s was still in the first stages of economic recovery. The bridal business was soaring; people were still humble about celebrations and very much tied to traditional norms. Western attire, especially bridal clothing, was far from popular — in fact, only about 3 percent of Japanese brides wore white wedding dresses. Most opted to wear time-honored kimono.
Having grown up watching her mother turn what began as a small community gathering into a dressmaking school for over 2,000 students, however, Katsura knew that change was possible. Inspired to take fashion — a subject she had studied at the prestigious Kyoritsu Women’s University and later taught at her mother’s school — to another level, she went to Paris in search of more knowledge and inspiration. Ironically, however, she found her true calling only after returning to Japan. In the early ‘60s, after an unplanned encounter and a shocking realization, she vowed to change the status quo for a very small minority by becoming Japan’s first bridal designer. Fifty-four years later, she is one of the most renowned Japanese designers with stores in Tokyo, Osaka, the U.S., France, Canada, China and more, and a long list of achievements she is yet to accomplish.
Kase-san and Morning Glories OVA will Melt Your ICY HEART (Twitter, Crunchyroll)
A short video promo discussing the production of the OVA.
Indian man dies in Japanese immigration detention centre in apparent suicide (The Asahi Shimbun)
Japan’s detention centers have been under scrutiny for their treatment of detained immigrants.
Japan’s 17 immigration detention facilities held 1,317 people as of Friday, says the justice ministry, which oversees them.
A government watchdog, activists and lawyers have criticised the detention centres over the treatment of detainees, medical care and how guards respond to medical emergencies.
Last year, a Vietnamese detainee who died at the same centre, northeast of Tokyo, was shown by a government report to have been left lying on the floor for hours before guards called an ambulance.
The head of the Finance Ministry has been accused of sexual harassment, and the Ministry has allegedly claimed it will work with any accusers who come forward.
“If the female reporters from the weekly magazine story exist, we would like their cooperation (in coming forward). Otherwise, we cannot hear the opinions of both sides on the matter,” he said.
However, the request is also garnering criticism. At the same committee meeting, Social Democratic Party lawmaker Mizuho Fukushima said the request for cooperation “can be taken as intimidation (toward the women who were harassed).” She also called into question the neutrality and treatment of the women during the investigation, saying, “Will they really contact a legal office hired by the Finance Ministry?”
“While Mr. Fukuda continues to fight against the claims, the psychological hurdle for a woman to come forward and cooperate with the investigation is high,” pointed out lawyer Juri Yukita, who belongs to a law office specializing in women’s issues and is an expert on sexual harassment issues. “Even if no one comes forward, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Fukuda is cleared of suspicion.”
There are some unexpected gems this season and a few titles that English-speaking fans are still waiting on (thanks, Netflix). Also, woof, those CGI bears.
Hinamatsuri is such good wholesome fun! I love me a badass psychic girl nd yakuza dad. Golden Kamuy was really intriguing too. I'm only sad that Dragon Pilot is being held hostage by netflix for now, I was really curious about that one. https://t.co/ZEmTlRUgd5
— Caitlin A.D. (@nevermore999) April 17, 2018
I know it's a short series but Space Battleship Tiramisu. It knows exactly how to balance its protagonist's character flaws with comeuppance so him being self-absorbed is hilarious rather than grating. Plus it has SPACE CHIHUAHUAS pic.twitter.com/OA1CrplIvc
— bojak90 (@bojak90) April 17, 2018
Surprisingly Uma Musume with Hinamatsuri, Megalo Box, Gegege no Kitaro all close behind in second.
— Tiana Rosa (@Pariah_Daisy) April 17, 2018