[Links] 11-17 October 2017

The last few premieres, Shirobako, and the return of the vagina-boat artist.

AniFem Round-Up

[Review] My Girlfriend is a Shobitch – episode 1

A surprising amount of sex-positive potential marred by a leering camera and horrible side characters.

[Review] Inuyashiki – episode 1

An adult male wish fulfillment fantasy where all women and teenagers are ungrateful obstacles.

Fall 2017 premiere digest

Snapshots of all our premiere reviews in one place.

Feminist anime recommendations of Summer 2017

The team’s favorites from last season.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 27: Fushigi Yugi watchalong – Episodes 8-14

The watchalong continues as the show hits its stride (and a few low lows).

[AniFemTalk] Your Fall 2017 watchlist

Now that premieres are over, what are you planning on watching?

 

Beyond AniFem

Land of the Lustrous is something special (Nemuro Memorial Hall)

On the unexpected humanity of the show about person-rocks.

Humanity in a show about person-like rocks may seem contradictory, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. ‘Humanity’ isn’t about DNA. It isn’t about flesh and blood. The separation of “what it means to be a person” from “what it means to be a human” really isn’t a distinction we need to make. Whilst I cannot remember nor find where I read it, the idea that if we were to discover rational life on Mars, they too could be human is probably correct. Nier;Automata also manages this. Throughout playing it you will never meet a human animal, but the humanity within the androids and robots that form the characters of that game are undeniable. They may have different requirements, different capacities, and different conceptions of the world but they are still emotional, rational, thinking beings. Even as they struggle under the oppression of humanity’s history.

The characters in Lustrous are similar. They are constructed out of, partly, inorganic material. They are thinking rocks. They shatter. They melt. Yet they can survive and be rebuilt. Pieced back together from the crystalline fragments of their previous whole. They are gems shaped like androgynous children. Waif-like and wiry. While they certainly fit within ‘traditional’ androgynous expectations, which can be frustrating as a general trend for gender nonconforming characters, that also allows their underlying immortality all the more horrifying. The body horror they can live through is simply brutal. A reminder that they definitely are something Other. They aren’t human.

Walking My Second Path in Life: Volume 1 Part 1 (J Novel Club)

The club announces its first novel with a female protagonist.

Fie, first princess of Daeman, finds herself isolated and stranded in the foreign Kingdom of Orstoll all by her lonesome – effectively having been wed off as a dowry gift in accessory to her sister, Princess Fielle’s marriage. Trapped and isolated in a small back garden that once used to be a storehouse, Fie lives her days without purpose, and eventually without food – after the only member of her entourage, the chef, resigns. Just as Fie was about to give in to despair, she finds a pamphlet advertising a squire’s test for the Royal Knights of Orstoll – beginning her journey of friendship, hard work, and guts, along with masquerading as a boy to walk her second path in life. What will Fie find along the way?

Japan’s Persecuted ‘Pussy Boat’ Artist Vows to Fight On (The Daily Beast, Lizzie Crocker)

After being charged with obscenity for making vagina-based art (in the same country that has an entire penis festival), Megumi Igarashi will be disputing the ruling.

The project was titled Deco-man—“man” being an abbreviation of manko, Japanese for “pussy”–and featured small pussy boats, a pussy lampshade, a remote-controlled pussy car, a pussy smartphone case, and so on. Authorities confiscated her cellphone, laptop, and other belongings, and Igarashi would spend, in all, 30 days behind bars.

In May 2016, a Japanese court found Igarashi guilty of obscenity and fined her ¥400,000 (at the time, around $3,600). The 3-D data she’d distributed was deemed “obscene,” according to a draconian 1907 law, because it could have been used by recipients to create an arousing sex-toy replica of her vagina, the court said in its ruling.

Her Deco-man works, however, qualified as art under Japanese law because—unlike the 3-D data of her vagina—the pussy boats and other sculptures could not be used to turn people on.

To Court Workers, Japanese Firms Try Being More Gay-Friendly (The New York Times, Jonathan Soble)

Japan’s queer community is increasingly fighting for visibility and having more success being recognized by companies than the government.

Vibrant gay clubs operate freely in big cities here, but it remains relatively rare for people to come out to their families, let alone their co-workers and bosses. While surveys show the public is evenly split on gay marriage, organized political campaigning on the issue is still marginal. The government, which is dominated by conservatives, has mostly steered clear of the issue. Gay marriage has received no serious political debate.

“As far as the law is concerned, homosexuality doesn’t exist,” Professor Suzuki said.

Acceptance of this “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach is declining, however, as younger people insist on living more openly. Japan is also facing a painful shortage of labor, largely the result of low birthrates and limited immigration. That shortage is forcing employers to compete harder to attract workers, and advertising tolerance appeals to young people generally, not just sexual minorities.

Kento Hoshi, a 23-year-old law school graduate, has seen that competition firsthand. He pitched his idea for Job Rainbow, an employment website aimed at gay people, in a business contest sponsored by Japanese tech companies two years ago. He won 10 million yen, or about $9,100, and set up the site with his sister.

What do I call the opposite of whitewashing? (Empty Movement)

For the first time in 15 years, the internet’s oldest Utena fansite will be adjusting images in its gallery in order to restore new official art of Anthy to her proper skin tone.

In the fifteen odd years I’ve processed and cleaned Utena art, I have to my recollection never deliberately altered my final product from the original.

However, the degree to which the new Anthy (and Akio) chibis are lightened makes them not even recognizable as dark skinned, and it’s with that in mind that I’m altering them somewhat to correct this. As you can see they’re still a bit pale; I didn’t want to change them so much that a cursory glance at them would tell what I’d done unless they were side by side. Thanks @aulac and folks in the Discord for their feedback.

‘My Girlfriend is Shobitch’ and what we teach teen girls about sex (Otaku Journalist, Lauren Orsini)

On the promise and real-world basis of Shobitch’s first episode (whether or not the rest of the show bears it out).

As a teen girl, I learned for the first time that my body was not my own. If I didn’t put the right clothes on it at school, I could be sent home to change so I wasn’t a “distraction.” But the mall gave me a contradictory message, as all the stores predominantly sold girls my age crop tops and low-cut dresses, all of it made from cheap, nearly see-through fabrics. Women’s magazines showed me how different outfits, makeup, and workout routines would make me “sexy.” They showed me “50 ways to please” my man. TV shows like the OC taught me that my virginity was the best “gift” I could give a guy, and if I didn’t, I was cold, and if I did, I was slutty.

As time went on, the messages contradicted themselves. When I was 14, I was walking with my mom when a trio of construction workers wolf-whistled at me. As I smiled and waved at them, my mom scolded me. But a couple years later, when I was walking alone and ignoring a man who said hi and asked me to smile, he began shouting that I was a cunt. It was confusing.

Is there anything more perplexing than being a teen girl? You look at your new body and it feels startlingly removed from your identity. You’ve seen curves like this in advertisements, as a product to buy or sell. They certainly don’t mesh with your own perception of yourself.

LGBT groups, educators call for diversity in school uniforms (Japan Today)

The proposal is to allow blazers and a choice of pants or skirts for all students based on their personal needs.

The lack of choice creates an uncomfortable and possibly traumatic situation for students who have female physical traits but identify as male, or vice versa.

Anri Ishizaki, head of Fukuoka Rainbow Educational Networks, told a symposium held in the city in southwestern Japan to discuss the issue that the group received precisely those kinds of concerns from students.

“School uniforms could consist of blazers (for all students), with a choice between pants and skirts, ribbons and neckties,” proposed the 33-year-old, who was born with female characteristics but does not clearly identify as male or female.

WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A GAY STUDENT IN JAPAN? (South China Morning Post, Julian Ryall)

Students are at high risk of being outed by their teachers and have no support structures for advice.

According to a survey conducted by the education ministry in 2013, more than 600 students had spoken with a school official because they felt uncomfortable with the gender listed on their all-important family register at birth. That number, however, is believed to be a fraction of those who are experiencing gender issues but who are too afraid to come forward.

“LGBT has only recently become an issue in Japan and there have been a number of high-profile public awareness campaigns and events that have been featured on TV, so things are changing here,” said Cunningham.

“It has been the same in schools; the authorities have come up with some good ideas, but they have just been implemented horribly,” she added.

The guidelines that are being issued are not requirements of schools or teachers, so they have no power, says Cunningham. Teachers who are also of a sexual minority are wary of becoming involved in the campaign for fear of being “outed” themselves, while other teachers are reluctant because they have insufficient understanding of the issues and are being given no support by education authorities.

“Teachers are getting information but no training and not enough time, effort and money are being invested into getting teachers on board,” said Cunningham.

The Real Shirobako: Talking with an Average Anime Production Assistant (ANIME NOW, Sarah Nelkin)

Comparing the anime version of the job to the (anonymous) real-world version.

Lake works closest with not the director, but the episode directors, as well as the animators she relies on to provide the in-between frames. The person above her in the company hierarchy is the person called the “Desk,” who is basically the manager of all of the production assistants. The Desk takes orders from the producer, who manages the budget and gathers the talent for a project.

Because different artists have different sleep schedules and have other jobs besides the requests given to them by Lake’s company, the frames for a project might be completed in the morning or at night depending on whether an animator is an early bird or a night owl. Because of this, when the production schedule is tight, she can find herself heading out to pick up frames any hour of the night or day.

The Asian American Women Writers Who Are Going to Change the World (Electric Literature, R.O. Kwon)

Highlighting the writing and political effort of four prominent Asian American writers in a roundtable format.

Kwon: I know I’m not the only person who admires you all for being writers who try visibly and actively to be forces for change, and for good. What advice do you have for other writers who want to be more politically vocal?

Wang: I think a good way to start, and a good practice for me to continue, is to amplify other voices, particularly those of marginalized people who are being directly affected by this new administration. Retweets can seem simple, but I feel they’re also really important to do. And for people who aren’t used to talking about politics on social media, it’s also a way to not have to try to compose something eloquent and new.

Nguyen: That’s what I would say is key, is to support other writers’ work, and to be part of that community. Community is what we need and what is going to get us through these time. We have to be active in it, and do our part. I know it’s not always easy to speak up. In my classes, I don’t force students to talk if they tell me they’re really introverted. I want them to know they can speak up in different ways. For example, I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood as one issue in academia. Academia is not the most welcoming place for mothers, even though it seems like it should be. So I’ve often kept that part of my life hidden, and then I realized that wasn’t doing any good. I was just reinforcing the idea that mothers should not be mothers in academia. And so I thought, Okay, this is another aspect of life where, if I step up a little more, and try to be more open about it, visible, maybe I can help somebody else.

 

AniFem Community

There’s a wide spread of shows on people’s watchlists this season. Keep ‘em coming.

I'm really looking forward to watching Land of the Lustrous and the Ancient Magis Bride unfold throughout the season--I've been looking forward to those two since well before their premieres and even coughed up the cash for an Anime Strike subscription to watch LotL. I'm also considering giving Urahara and MMO Junkie a shot; the former because I tend to love anything that's visually creative or innovative and the latter because it sounds really fun and sweet based on what the Anifem team has been saying about it. I am working through the Strike backlog this season, though, (Princess Principal is REALLY charming) so I'm not totally sure how many new series I'm going to keep up with.

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