The healing power of MMO Junkie, gender-variant characters, and looking back on 2017.
Mitch Finzel discusses the basketball manga and its variety of able-bodied and wheelchair-using characters.
January 2017, the time AniFem wrote about a Nazi apologist editor on MAL.
February, when Chatty AF had its inaugural episode.
Vrai talked with Lustrous’ anime and manga editors about the decision to use “they” pronouns for the series’ canonically genderless characters.
March, we had a pro-moe piece, a magical girl-critical one, and talk about fanservice.
April, Vrai and Dee started helping with premiere season reviews.
Out of the badlands, the show’s back to its mixed bag of quality adventure, feels, and occasional contrived nonsense.
Let’s give hardworking translators their due.
May, extra feature month—including a pretty definitive article about the slur “trap.”
June, watchalongs started during a quiet month.
LGBTQ politics in Japan, gay marriage, and sex education (Masaki C Matsumoto)
Excerpts from an interview Matsumoto sat for with a UK student.
First and foremost, the acronym LGBT has gotten currency in mainstream media. Many people now know what it means or at least have heard of it and have a vague idea of what it is. The downside to it is that the LGBT politics usually gets reduced to either an economic concept to identify a newly found market. or interpersonal mannerism that gives rise to shallow allyship. Second, Twitter has become widely popular in Japan especially among young people who want to stay anonymous, which means many queer people can talk about their sexualities and gender identities on Twitter. Especially these two years, as far as I know, there has been a surge of queer Twitter users who voice their opinions and share their experiences and feelings, not just activists or activisty folks but also ordinary queer people, giving diversity to the online queer community. Third, and this is a bit dangerous to the advancement of the LGBT politics but, conservative, neoliberal politicians are starting to make alliances with LGBT organizations and startup businesses. The force to co-opt queer causes by the right wing is creating a political fissure among queer communities.
ETOILE, A RACE CASE OF GENDER NON-CONFORMANCE IN ARSLAN SENKI (All Hail Haruhi)
An article on a transmasc secondary character in Arslan.
It is only much later in the story that we find out that Etoile has a lot more to his identity than that of a slave, soldier or zealot. You see, Etoile was assigned female at birth, meaning that his current gender identity is different to the one expected of him based on his sex at birth. This is highlighted at various points in which his tale and Arslan’s intersect, with the crown prince unknowingly interacting with a female-presenting Etoile on one particular occasion. However given that little is ever said on the subject, knowledgeable characters freely gave their own interpretation on Etoile’s identity. Indeed many viewed him as a man when not aware of his past, while those in the know call him ‘tomboy’ rather than the man he sees himself as. It is also worth mentioning that none of these commentators were able to recognize his clear discomfort when forced to present as a girl.
When it almost seemed as though the subject would never be properly addressed, the final episode in the series dedicated a not-insignificant portion of time to air Etoile’s own understanding of his gender identity. It it is through conversation with Arlsan’s inner circle that he is able to finally express that, yes, remarks on his supposed femininity do in fact bother him.
Book Review: ‘The Nakano Thrift Shop’ by Hiromi Kawakami (April Magazine, Marisa Jue)
A review of a slice-of-life style novel by established author Kawakami.
While reading the novel, I was really struck by its tone and immediately began to brainstorm how to best describe it. Unfortunately, the best I can do is to say that The Nakano Thrift Shop is just so… Japanese.
How unhelpful of me, I know.
What I mean to say is that the novel contains everything that I have come to associate with Japanese literature and film. It has a kind of quiet, self-contained atmosphere. When there is dialogue, it’s not forced or overly scripted, but rather takes a random and organically rambling path. Centered mainly around the single stage of Mr. Nakano’s little thrift shop, there isn’t much “action” plot wise. Instead, the focus is on slowly revealing more and more about the characters, peeling back each layer of their outward personalities with each repetition of their daily routine.
Whatever Happened to Welcome to the Ballroom? (Anime News Network, Nicholas Dupree/Jacob Chapman)
Jacob and Nick break down the many, many failures in Ballroom’s adaptation choices, from unlikable characters to the worst gender politics.
So here’s where I’m thinking “Oh, people were excited for Chinatsu because she represents a shakeup in this show’s odd gender politics. These two will have to learn to work together as equals.” But it turns out to be the exact opposite scenario. Tatara needs to cowboy up, and Chinatsu needs to be tamed. She even wants to be tamed, as made evident by her overbearingly tsundere attitude toward her milquetoast new partner, where she literally says he isn’t aggressive enough for her, and being considerate isn’t her thing. Tatara needs to be more manly. Chinatsu needs to be more feminine. Those are the lessons they’re going to learn. And honestly, the most bothersome part of this isn’t that it’s grossly sexist or anything (although it’s certainly that as well). It’s that it’s such a boring conclusion. The show is romanticizing relationship dynamics that are decades out of date even in Japan. It’s celebrating conformity to something that most people (thankfully) don’t even expect from a partner anymore.
Afflicted escapists: MMO Junkie, mental health and identity (Little Anime Blog, Elisabeth O’Neill)
On the way MMO Junkie treats the world of online gaming as a healing experience.
Gaming is only one way of forging and reforming connections to others, especially when submerged in the international hodgepodge of MMOs. But it is a legitimate one, hampered by decades-old fears of video games encouraging violence and otherwise antisocial, basement-dwelling behaviour. It can be a buffer for transition between a healthy social life as an anon, and as your far less customisable flesh and blood self. Through gaming, Moriko realises that the people who play Fruits de Mer are the same as the guy behind the counter at the convenience store, sometimes literally.
It is human to be uncertain how one’s identity fits with the rest of the world. It is human to have periods of desolation and loneliness, which can sometimes feel unfounded given being surrounded by people who care. It stands to reason that the people further isolated by their mental illness, psychological struggles or disabilities would be pulled towards a safe space to define that belonging, intentionally or otherwise. Yuta Sakurai, though he may seem more ‘together’ than Moriko, has his own stresses he’s been repressing for the sake of being an upstanding citizen. He created Lily as an identity through whom he could be carefree, and shake off the constant societal pressure not to cause trouble for others with unnecessary displays of emotion.
Queer Theory as a Critique of Society: the Closet and Gay Marriage (Masaki C Matsumoto)
A transcript of Matsumoto’s lecture on beginner’s queer theory at Aoyama Gakuin University.
There are so many benefits when you get married: visa sponsorship, hospital visitation rights, the right to medical decision-making for your partner, inheritance, child custody, financial security, healthcare, pension, etc. Gay marriage advocates often mention them.
But the filp side of good things about marriage is exactly bad things about being single. Why can single people not enjoy those benefits? One of the regrets that many queer people have from the AIDS era is that they were often not allowed to visit their friends in hospital rooms——not just partners, but friends. For many queers back then, the traditional family was not exactly understanding or accepting. For them, their queer friends were often just as important, if not more so, as their families. People sometimes have friendships that are stronger than romantic relationships or family ties. The advocates of gay marriage, however, seem to have forgotten the importance of friendship and what it means for queers, but have instead favored and embraced the traditional family values.
The fact that you can only access the benefits through marriage indicates that there are flaws in other social institutions such as the immigration system, medical guidelines, family laws, welfare and social security, which all favor married couples over unmarried couples and individuals. Advocates of gay marriage argue that the fix to those flaws is marriage, that benefits afforded through marriage alleviate, if not eliminate, the problems people may face because of the flaws.
What that ultimately means is that the more problems you face in other social institutions (i.e. the more marginalized you already are), the more attractive marriage becomes for you.
The Newest Addition To The Blend S Crew Offers A View Into Transgender Issues In Japan (Anime Now!, Kat Callahan)
A breakdown of Blend-S’s idol character, the female-presenting, AMAB Hideri, and how the character might be read based on current trans issues in Japan.
Okay, so let’s flip this and ask what evidence we have that Hideri’s gender is “girl.” I actually think we’re on stronger ground here. The first is that Hideri’s character is “idol” and not “otokonoko” (literally “male daughter”). There is really no evidence that the customers are aware of what seems to be the case, that Hideri’s legal “sex” is “male.” Hideri’s femininity is a pre-existing aspect of Hideri’s normal, everyday personality and identity. While it’s true that Hideri wishes to actually be an idol, the character that Hideri portrays acts as though she (the character) is already an idol.
Hideri does not appear to be a part-time “crossdresser” or a “drag queen” (the difference between the two often has to do with sexuality of the cisgender male individual and the purpose for crossdressing). Feminine Hideri seems to be the real Hideri. Hideri even says that Hideri’s parents are aware and disapprove, meaning there’s no attempt to hide this expression and identity. This may well be why Hideri’s response to the manager is, “can’t I just write girl on the application?” Of course, in Japanese, “male” and “man” as well as “female” and “woman” are written without the different forms we have in English, so it’s not as easy to say something like, “She was born male but is a woman” as we do in English.
Moriko’s Uniqueness: An Interview with “MMO Junkie” Anime Voice Actress Mamiko Noto (Crunchyroll, Mikikazu Komatsu)
Part one of a translated interview with Moriko’s voice actor.
We heard playing Moriko was a new challenge for you. Why was that?
Considering its setting, I think an animation work featuring a single female in her thirties who is a NEET as the protagonist is very new (laughs). In most of my career, I have played relatively introverted or normal girls. I recently had an opportunity to play an aggressive role, but I had never been cast as a character with this type of setting. So I thought it was a very fun role. I was able to pursue her directly, thinking like, “How about doing it this way?” or “If I do this, it may more sound like Moriko and can arouse the audience’s sympathy?” Of course, it requires performances with the opposite actors, too.
Taiwanese man facing deportation from Japan struggles to stay with same-sex partner (The Japan Times, Keiji Hirano)
“Mr. G” and other foreign nationals living with same-sex Japanese partners have no explicit legal protection and cannot marry, meaning the revoking of a visa can force a non-Japanese partner out of the country.
Yasushi Nagano, his other lawyer, said: “Considering his long-running stable life in Japan and his health, he should not be forced to separate from his partner. Their relationship should be protected by the constitutionally guaranteed equality before the law and the rights to the pursuit of happiness.”
The government argues that the deportation order is legitimate.
Several same-sex couples with Japanese and non-Japanese partners gathered for a recent meeting in Tokyo to support Mr. G. Many of them share the concern that non-Japanese partners may face deportation some day if their visas expire, even though they see themselves as de facto families.
A great thread with lots of supplemental material by both Thorn and others.
The responses to this week’s talk have been full of not just quality examples but even more quality clips. Definitely check it out!
The English dub of A Silent Voice has Lexi Cowden, a deaf actress, as Shoko. https://t.co/Ru2EVflc2G
— Rugose Appendage (@rugoseappendage) December 19, 2017
The CR translator who managed to preserve the rhyme scheme on the ClassicaLoid rap is kiiiinda my herohttps://t.co/WEXUwrr9Iw
— Joseifuru (@joseinextdoor) December 19, 2017
I'm not sure that the classic English dub for Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman is particularly *accurate,* but it's still HILARIOUS. https://t.co/M5hagGgQ27
— kawy 📚 (@kawy) December 19, 2017