[Links] 13-19 November 2019: Sonic Comics, Abuse of Workers, and That Death Stranding Memo

By: Anime Feminist November 19, 20190 Comments
chibi Main from Ascendence of a Bookworm looking, confused, toward a chibified Priest

AniFem Round-Up

[History] FAKE and the Found Family: The ’90s BL cop drama that influenced a genre

M.E. Laut spotlights the classic romantic cop drama and how its emphasis on found family and the importance of communities made it stand out from other BL.

[Feature] My Roommate is a Cat Provides Comfort to the Socially Anxious

Latonya Pennington looks back to the beginning of the year and the soothing pet anime that offered a gentle, nuanced portrait of grappling with grief and social anxiety.

[AniFemTalk] What are the best parody anime or manga?

Parody is a dime a dozen in isekai right now—but what’s the best parody series overall?

Beyond AniFem

I read every Sonic comic by Ken Penders, and they’re wilder than you could ever imagine (Medium, Bobby Schroeder)

A longread deep dive into Penders’ run on the English-language Sonic comics and the incredible basket of yikes that came with it.

After Robotnik’s death, some of the civilians started to distrust the freed “Robians” (roboticized Mobians who were formerly Robotnik’s mind controlled slaves), including Sonic’s family. Penders wanted to do a generic oppression allegory for a couple issues. As part of this, one of King Max’s first orders after returning to the throne was to have all of the Robians rounded up and executed. He called for genocide.

Following stories would try to explain that Max wasn’t thinking straight due to the effects of a curse. But even when he was healed, Max was mad at Sally for disobeying his order. You know, his order to commit genocide.

This tension between Sally and her father quickly became a running theme. Sally stomped around the castle complaining about how her dad never told her anything or let her make any decisions of her own, but the cool and rational Max simply told her that father knows best. He was incredibly controlling over her life, forcing her into a loveless political marriage with Antoine at two separate points, and eventually started forbidding her from even leaving the castle. For years, Sally was largely out of the action because her dad said she had to stay home and be the princess. Instead of rebelling, she simply gave up.

Later, in Knuckles #29, Sally heads to Angel Island to ask the Brotherhood for help. Along the way, Penders squeezes in a scene where Sally decides to rationalize her father’s earlier call for robot genocide as “pragmatic,” and says that she should never have doubted him.

Can the Japanese community save Little Tokyo from gentrification? (KCRW, Steve Chiotakis)

The goal is to buy a building that can offer rent-controlled spaces to businesses established within the community as the future metro drives up foot traffic.  

In an effort to save these businesses, the Japanese American community  started the Little Tokyo Community Impact Fund. Little Tokyo residents and business owners aim to put together at least $2 million and collectively buy a local building. They would charge below-market rents to selected tenants.

This started in early 2018, when a group of people met in the living room of Steve and Patty Nagano’s Little Tokyo apartment, and came up with the idea for the fund. 

“We were talking about what can we do to deal with all of this gentrification,” says Bill Watanabe, who heads the fund and is founding executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center. “And the mantra that we came up with was, ‘If you don’t own it, you can’t control it.’”

Gender-based dress codes run deep in Japan firms, unveil discrimination: survey (The Mainichi, Nakagawa Satoko)

The survey was put out following the protests over rules requiring women to wear high heels at work.

In the additional comment section, a person explained that their company demands “men have black hair and women have brown hair that does not stand out,” as well as “men wear long pants and women wear skirts.” Another respondent said their company only allows “women to wear silver uniforms and men to wear navy uniforms.” A person at a company with no uniforms said men are forced to wear black garments while women have to wear either pink dresses or ones with floral patterns.

While 45.7% of respondents answered such regulations are determined by the rules of employment, 26.3% said dress codes are set by office regulations stipulated under such rules of employment. Up to 19.4% said some kind of punishment would be carried out if employees failed to abide by these rules.

When asked if it is necessary to have regulations on workplace fashion, 54.9% of respondents said “rules should be kept to a minimum,” greatly exceeding those who answered “there should be some sorts of rules” at 14.7%. But when asked how they feel about gender-specific dress codes, 36.2% answered “it cannot be helped,” well over the 12% who said “it doesn’t make sense.”

Death Stranding’s Depiction of Queerness is Hamfisted and Creepy (No Escape VG, Trevor Hultner)

A breakdown of the now infamous queerphobic memo found in-game and its implications.

According to folks who have played the game (see: the Waypoint Radio episode on Death Stranding), Sam Porter Bridges may well be asexual himself. He has a touch phobia stemming from an apparent trauma in his past called aphenphosmphobia, and he bruises exceptionally easily when people touch him, which leads to the general sense from him that he would absolutely not like to be touched. But a touch phobia and allergy does not necessarily make Sam ace; many folks are touch or sex-averse and aren’t.

And if all we got was this shitty memo about asexuality and a character who is more or less ace doing stuff like making deliveries, killing spirits from the astral plane, and rocking a baby in a big mason jar back and forth til it stops crying, I don’t think a lot of people would have a problem with it. But the problem is that in the course of the game, people try like hell to hug him, touch him, give him a big ol kiss, all without his consent. No matter how much he explains himself, people keep trying to push his buttons. And honestly? That’s more fucked up than anything.

It’s a perfect representation of the absolute lack of give-a-shit many non-ace (and to be honest, non-queer) people display towards us in general. We explain ourselves regularly, explain what we want, what we’re about, what we like and don’t like, and in return we get ignored. If y’all make bad shit about us without us, we get mad, and then all of a sudden, we’re the bad ones! Why are we yelling? Why can’t we just be nicer? It happens like clockwork.

Japanese worker abuse cases growing at U.S. military bases (The Asahi Shimbun, Shigeo Yoshimura)

Because these facilities are technically governed by Washington, it’s difficult for Japanese offices to receive news on their workers’ health and safety.

A postal facility employee, one of the two women ordered to work late at Camp Zama, was repeatedly verbally threatened, demoted for no reason and finally had to be hospitalized.

At a day-care center in Naval Air Facility Atsugi, a female worker was improperly reassigned and told that she faced punishment as she was suspected of leaking information.

She took a medical leave but a survey by the union revealed that her supervisor from the U.S. military was responsible for the information leakage.

Viewing a succession of abuses as “a universal issue,” the labor union began talks with the Japanese Defense Ministry–the ostensible employer of those working at U.S. military facilities in Japan–in October on behalf of laborers victimized in the five most serious cases among other abuses.

AnimeNYC Event Report, Pt. 1 Yuri Licenses (Okazu, Erica Friedman)

A list of yuri and yuri-adjacent projects being translated into English.

On Viz‘s plate this week saw the release of Makoto Hagino’s A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow, a slow-burning romance in a seaside school’s aquarium club. You can read a preview of the English volume on their website!

The Yuri OVA Fragtime premiered at AnimeNYC and, at the beginning of the showing, Pony Canyon read a statement from Sentai announcing that they had licensed the animeSeven Seas followed up with an online announcement that they have acquired the Fragtime manga for digital and print release. I will do a review of Fragtime later this week. I did not enjoy it.

Seven firms disciplined over abuse of foreign trainees (The Asahi Shimbun, Itabashi Hioryoshi)

The listed abuses included withholding pay and setting unreasonably long hours for workers.

Among other cases, a Gunma Prefecture company failed to pay four trainees a total of 500,000 yen, while another allowed an intern to drive a forklift without a license, leading to the worker being injured in Nagano Prefecture.

As of the end of 2018, there were about 330,000 technical interns in Japan. A record 9,052 trainees fled from their assigned workplaces that year, with the number of such cases increasing since 2012.

In an effort to improve the situation, the agency and the ministry has already banned 11 companies and private operators from accepting new trainees and revoked permission for three trainee management organizations to operate.

Transgender woman mocked, outed without consent on TV (The Asahi Shimbun, Ito Hiroki)

The program interviewed the woman normally, only to out her as trans via narration added in later.

The show, titled “Shumatsu chigumaya kazoku” (weekend Yamaguchi family), had a segment in which a “tarento” (talent) visits local shops and residents with unusual names, without an appointment.

The woman was interviewed by the celebrity-led crew when she was changing the oil in her car while wearing work clothes.

The talent spoke to her, asking what she was doing. Then she was asked, “Are you a woman?”

“Are you often told that you are unusual?” the talent added.

There a voice-over narration began: “In fact, this person has a secret.”

Infographic: 6 Facts About Gender Equality in Japan (Unseen Japan, Jay)

Six recent Japanese surveys about gender inequality, from the Girl Scouts of Japan to the World Economic Forum, translated and made into infographics.

The most detailed and recent study on the subject of media depictions of women in Japan was a survey by the Girl Scouts of Japan. (The full survey in Japanese is available from the Girl Scouts of Japan site as a PDF.) Entitled “Written Report on High School Girls’ Relation to Gender,” the survey collected data from 524 high school age women; of those, 313 were Girl Scouts, and 211 were not.

The results were startling. A full 62% of high school girls surveyed said they have experienced or seen sexism or gender-based bullying. Of those, 49% said they’d witnessed discrimination in the media. Other sources of discrimination were the Internet (46%), public places (30%), school (18%), one’s partner (13%), home (9%), and juku or cram school (6%).

The Final Days Of Japan’s Most Incredible Arcade (Kotaku, Alexis Ong)

A eulogy visit to the multi-tiered arcade modeled after Kowloon Walled City.

Over the years, photographers documented its chaotic facade and day-to-day life inside the city. It was sometimes called “the city of darkness” because most of its inhabitants did not receive natural light. To outsiders, it was a place of unimaginable crime, poverty, and inhumane living conditions. At its peak, it was described as the most densely populated settlement in the world. But to those who grew up in the Walled City, it was a tight-knit community of families, co-ops, and small businesses. Many residents had nothing to do with crime: The Walled City was simply home.

Its reincarnation as a Japanese arcade was also a nod to its role as a place of community. Even today, Japanese people flock to arcades to escape from reality, or immerse themselves in larger-than-life experiences that can’t be had at home. On a mundane level, the arcade is still a place to hang out with friends, go on dates, or simply be alone. On a larger scale, it’s a refuge for both old and young who seek human connections in a digital world.

AniFem Community

Y’all brought us a few classics and a bright bushel of modern contenders too!

Does Ouran High School Host Club count as a parody? It definitely rifts on shoujo tropes, though I can't personally pin down anything it's a direct parody of (reverse harem in general?) I like that the humor is accessible both to people "in the know" and not in the know. I also appreciate that its cast members are actual characters rather than just hollow parody shells. I think both of these elements are key to making a great parody series -- it should be enjoyable for a wide audience and it should have a heart of its own. Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is another good, more recent example in the same vein as Ouran. I wouldn't say I'm a fan of the genre since I don't really seek it out, but I have enjoyed the few I've come across.
The first season of Cute High has to be my top pick, though calling it just a magical girl parody feels like selling it short! There's a lot more to it, including an episode with one of the best depictions of depression I've ever seen, and at least two which take direct shots at the anime industry with the fearlessness of a show that expects to never be renewed.

(Then it turned out to be so successful that it was renewed anyway, and later seasons didn't have the same bite to them.)

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