This week: the effects of white foreigner fetishization for Asian American students in Japan, anti-Blackness in the cosplay community, and bad behavior by male Love Live! fans in Japan.
Caitlin Donovan outlines the growth of Tsubaki’s comic chops and her track record of parodying and critiquing gender roles.
AniFem’s Caitlin Moore explains how the costuming in Code: Realize reflects character growth, and how rare it is to see anime heroines in pants.
The watchalong reaches some quality backstory and suffers through Lobelia, again.
Let’s celebrate pride with some good canonically queer series.
Anti-Blackness in the Convention and Cosplay Community: An Interview With Cluelessxbelle (Black Nerd Problems, Oona Sura)
An interview with prominent Black cosplayer Cluelessxbelle about discrimination in cosplay coverage.
Black cosplayers have been analyzing and unpacking what seems to be blatant discrimination within the con world for years. There is frequent internalized doubt at the constant marginalization within a community that is founded on the acceptance of ALL people, especially those who have been bullied or cast out for being “too different.”
The excuse that “there aren’t many Black or dark-skin POC cosplayers at geeky events” doesn’t cut it anymore (it’s not accurate and it was never a justification). Black nerds HAVE BEEN a constant in the geek world. From podcasts, to media outlets, to animators, illustrators, authors, to music groups, the list goes on and on and on how much Black creatives have influenced the wide expanse of the nerd world.
In the summer of 2017, blerDCon, a convention founded on the principles of diversity and inclusivity, hosted its first convention; a breath of fresh air in the con scene that largely ignores its Black audience. It begs the question on why do we need this kind of representation? Well, because conventions and popular media sources choose to shun its Black attendees frequently, and the solution has been to create spaces where marginalized humans are accepted.
But why do Black cosplayers consistently get the most flack for doing what every other person does at an anime convention?
Everything You Need to Know About the Utena Musical: Bud of the White Rose (Anime News Network, Empty Movement)
A rundown of the new Utena musical, recently released on video.
When Nanami yelled at the audience to clap harder, I knew it was the best version of Utena‘s first arc I’d ever seen. I can’t emphasize how well this production captured the essence of RGU; they had everything down, even to the postures and inflections. Juri was the elegant panther we knew so well, her voice a growling purr that broke when she clutched at her chest where her locket would be. Miki was the naive young duelist conflicted about his sister and his struggle to be with or possess Anthy. Saionji stole the show whenever he appeared, with his over-the-top angst countering Touga’s languid manipulations. As for Nanami, I’m still not convinced that she didn’t just manifest into reality to play herself. Utena‘s bravery and confusion and determination made me love her more than ever. Wakaba was the true hero of the show, her friendship spurring Utena on to take herself back after Touga’s victory. And Anthy was captivatingly cold, wearing a smiling mask of humanity and keeping her distance from the world until the moment Utena finally broke through to her.
BLACK MAGIC WITH KMSXCO (Sartorial Geek)
A podcast interview with maker of cute, scary products Andrea Gilletti about embracing anime and other nerdy passions.
Andrea and I chat about not being boxed in to just one thing. It’s okay to love horror and Disney villains and Sailor Moon and My Little Pony. One of our favorite things is when companies and brands combine seemingly-unrelated fandoms to create something new and unique. Case in point: KMSxCO.
If you love Halloween and cute things, please check out KMSxCO and KMS Black Magic all over the Internet.
Female Otaku Ask To Avoid Male Love Live! Fans On Japanese Dating Service (Otaku Magazine, Julian Gnam)
The male Love Live community has been guilty of repeated harassment and inappropriate behavior in convention/fandom spaces.
What kind of “troubling eccentric behavior” is being referenced in the announcement? When live viewings of Love Live! Sunshine!! were ongoing late last year and earlier this year, the official Love Live! website issued four warnings addressing the behavior of the series’ fans. Concerns included inter-fan disputes which could cause legal trouble, respect for the personal space of Love Live! voice actresses, and fans engaging in trespassing and illegal photography in the series’ hometown of Numazo.
In one instance, a fan who received chocolates from a Love Live! cast member was assaulted and robbed by other fans. In another instance, a Love Live! fan overturned a rack of magazines and stomped on them when he didn’t receive a special prize for showing up to an event.
On fetishization of race (English version) (Susumaru & Sachinosuke’s America: Real Talk)
A discussion of how “foreign looking” Americans are fetishized in Japan, and how that bias does harm to Asian-American students studying abroad, particularly young women.
During one of my meetings with the homestay agent, Mr. T, he revealed something flabbergasting. In response to my concern about the strange coincidence that all the students who had experienced a downfall with their host mothers were Asian women, Mr. T let me in on the industry’s standard practice in an attempt to deny the possibility of racial discrimination. He said that his company and its competitors routinely survey the potential families’ racial preferences for their future guests, and typically, half of them indicate preference for white guests (and some even say “white guests only”). Mr. T was trying to “prove” that the host families were not racists, because they did not insist on receiving white guests.
As dumbfounded and infuriated by the revelation that my institution had been unknowingly complicit in such a racist practice for years, this information was an important piece of the puzzle I was trying to solve: What really went wrong for the students?
Whenever I helplessly watch my non-Asian students being ambushed by a pack of Japanese “consumers” during a “cultural exchange” event, I cannot help but think that it resembles a blind date of which only one party knew the purpose of the gathering. In a similar vein, I had a growing concern that the Japanese homestay service industry was basically a procurer that exploits the foreign visitors’ actual needs and Japanese people’s fantasies – however, the first party is kept in the dark about the latter’s motivation. In fact, Japanese college students are not the only ones who unapologetically fetishize my non-Asian students. During our social events with the host families, I heard several host mothers saying so-and-so was kakkoii (good-looking) about their own male guest (i.e. her pseudo-son) or someone else’s. If the matching process of host families and guests were freestyle like the International Coffee Hours, would the three host mothers have chosen an Asian girl?
‘Even Boys Can Become Princesses!’: Hugtto! Precure Anime Stands Up to Traditional Gender Roles (Anime News Network, Jennifer Sherman)
The new episode encouraged its male and female characters to break out of expected gender roles.
The story of the episode revolves around a fashion show. After an invite from male figure skater Henri Wakamiya, who is also modeling in the show, Hana’s classmate Emiru Aisaki decides to participate. Emiru is a girl who likes to play electric guitar and wants to be a hero, but her older brother Masato discourages her. The theme of the fashion show is “Girls too can become heroes!”
During preparations, Masato appears and says, “‘Hero’ is a word for boys.” He calls Emiru’s appearance in the show “inappropriate” and tries to take her away. Henri then appears in a dress and stands up to Masato, who says to Henri, “You’re a guy, aren’t you?” Henri responds, “I’ll have the appearance that I myself want. People set limits in their own hearts. That’s a waste of time and life.”
An article about historical comic 442, and how scrutinizing loyalty tests used against Japanese-Americans are relevant to the racial profiling and internment going on in modern America.
Then there was what’s known as the “loyalty questionnaire.” The survey asked many questions, but two questions in particular — numbers 27 and 28 — had major ramifications. Question 27 asked if one was willing to serve in the military. The following question asked if one was willing to give up loyalty to the Japanese emperor.
“I think the standard line, and also the one my grandfather said, was it’s like being asked the question, ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’” Sato says. “There’s no answer that doesn’t implicate you in some way.”
Japanese-Americans were thrust into a horrible situation: They were imprisoned without the option or means to defend themselves — their livelihoods stripped from them — and then a number of young men either volunteered for or were drafted into the military.
Sachiiro One Room Drama Cancelled Following Suspicion Manga is Based on Real Kidnapping (Anime News Network, Karen Ressler)
The series was cancelled in Kanto but will still play in the Kansai region.
The manga and drama’s story centers on a girl and her kidnapper. The kidnapper removes the girl from troubles in her former life and provides her with a taste of happiness. The girl starts to enjoy living with her kidnapper, and she vows to marry him one day.
In March 2016, a girl was abducted in the city of Asaka in in Saitama Prefecture and taken to Tokyo. Rumors have spread that the manga, which Hakuri began on Twitter in September 2016, was based on this incident. If it were made into a live-action series, the detractors claimed, it would be portraying the incident in a positive light and would be disrespectful for the actual parties involved.
Escaping Conformism and Keeping Individuality Alive (Nippon, Izumiya Kanji)
Examining the difficulty of expressing individuality in Japanese society, with a particular focus on how language related to identity functions.
The pecking order is heavily influenced by Confucian values, prioritizing seniority according to such measures as physical age, length of service, and years of experience. The essential first step in interactions between members of a mura is for them to figure out which ranks higher. This ranking will determine, among other things, the form of language that each of them will use in speaking to the other.
Japanese does not have a second-person pronoun equivalent to the English “you” that can be used when talking to anybody. Instead, people considered to be superiors are addressed with words that indicate their social role or occupational rank, such as sensei (teacher/doctor) or buchō (department head). Nor is there a single first-person pronoun corresponding to “I” or “me”; speakers switch like chameleons among different words, such ore, boku, and watashi, depending on their relationship with the listener. The emphasis is on obedience to superiors over the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and people are not encouraged to think or make decisions by themselves.
Japanese firms solidify LGBT policy (The Japan News, Atsuko Matsumoto)
Companies and the private sector are looked to as important parts of improving quality of rights for Japan’s sexual minorities, as companies hold considerable sway. Several large groups have moved toward more inclusive policies.
Akatsu stressed the importance of raising the awareness of every employee. “Not all of our 7,000 or so employees are on the same level” of understanding LGBT issues, she said.
Overall, however, corporate Japan’s efforts still lag behind those of other industrialized countries. A survey by the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) last year shows about 90 percent of its member companies and organizations were aware of the need to make efforts on LGBT issues, but less than half of them actually did so.
Under such circumstances, some young LGBT job hunters have had to give up on their occupations of choice and even had job offers revoked, according to Mika Yakushi, a founder of the nonprofit organization Rebit, which supports LGBT job-seekers.
We’re getting quality recommendations new and old (and a few people who maybe didn’t understand the prompt was for canonical queerness rather than headcanons). Keep ’em coming!
After Hours – A yuri manga with adult characters and lovely portrayal of admiration and support in a romantic relationship. pic.twitter.com/pTUpYrAfDW
— Rugose Appendage (@rugoseappendage) June 19, 2018
GUNJO., by Nakamura Ching. No question. Best manga ever. So good that it's in my top best things I have ever read list.
— Erica Friedman, 百合女王 (@OkazuYuri) June 19, 2018
This boy caught a merman!! This boy is a professional wizard is good, too. Also dokyuusei! And dragon maid….i have a lot whoops
— エリアナ (@elibean4) June 19, 2018
— Jordan Mulder (@itsme_mulder) June 19, 2018