This week: the charms of Laid-Back Camp, academic feminism, and Japanese feminist vloggers to follow.
Yamamoto discusses her current work, future projects, and her dedication to depicting raw, authentic female sexuality in opposition to typical fanservice.
Jennifer traces the history of stories about otaku and how those stories have gradually come to embrace a more normalized portrayal of otaku life and female otaku.
Dee, Peter, and Amelia check in with this season’s shows at the halfway point.
We’re highlighting series marketed to women. This week: shoujo!
New Anime Season Is Killing It With Shows About Ordinary Girls (Kotaku, Cecilia D’Anastasio)
Praise for Laid-Back Camp and A Place Further Than the Universe as shows about the adventures of non-stereotypical teen girls focusing on their friendships with one another.
Lots of shows about women are caricatures of what women are like and what women do, presenting some idea of “glamour” that, actually, looks a lot like falling in line with the beauty and lifestyle standards peddled by Cosmo ads. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week, anime streaming service Crunchyroll’s co-founder revealed that women make up half of Crunchyroll’s subscribers and, incrementally, more shows are being made for women. I wonder if that’s because, in addition to dramas and fantasy anime, Crunchyroll also simulcasts shows like Laid-Back Camp and A Place Further Than the Universe, which offer something that, to me, feels unique: A positive and adventuresome vision of female friendship.
The Top 10 Otome Games Available in English (Anime News Network, Anne Lee)
A brief intro to the history of otome as a genre and some suggestions of quality games that are legally available for English-speaking players.
The single unifying aspect of all otome games is romance. Whether you’re racing to stop a coup d’etat in a steampunk version of England or uncovering the mysteries of a bizarre world populated by talking pigeons, all otome games revolve around the protagonist eventually falling in love. For the most part, otome games are intended to be played multiple times, so that over the course of each character’s story (or “route”), you’ll see the whole story start to piece together. Often, there are even secret characters who won’t unlock until you’ve played everyone else’s route!
There are many otome games that offer intricate storylines in addition to juicy romance, but there’s also plenty of silly fluff out there. There’s an otome game out there for nearly every interest! Just five years ago, I would’ve been hard-pressed to come up with 10 otome games available legally in English, but now I can curate a list of only the best to recommend. Here are 10 of my personal favorites to get you started.
DOUKYUUSEI STAFF ROUNDTABLE: SHOUKO NAKAMURA X AKEMI HAYASHI X YUUICHI FUKUSHIMA (Sakuga Blog, Good_Haro)
An interview with the director, animation director, and producer of the gentle BL film Doukyuusei about the production process.
Nakamura: I remember Fukushima asking me how much longer we’d be doing layout checks for and I’d answer, “just one more week” – I think we did this about ten times?
Hayashi: Production-wise, we were just taking the number of cuts that still needed work and dividing them by the remaining days we had. I don’t know how many times I looked at the target for a day and went, “yeah, that’s not happening.”
Fukushima: Even knowing where Nakamura and Hayashi wanted to finish on a given day, I could usually tell when things weren’t actually going to make it (laugh), so I always had to be thinking about ways to counterbalance the workload. But even once I’d compensated for something, I still had to keep a close eye on the status of things. I think this production was the most numbers-intensive (in terms of scheduling) I’ve ever worked on.
Nakamura: Really? I always thought you were just that detail-oriented (laugh). You’d always be calling me over to ask how the numbers looked.
Laid-Back Camp, a (Happy) Story of Solitude (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)
On Laid-Back Camp‘s Rin and how the show respects her desire to do things on her own and the happiness she gains from solitude.
Something about this moment—and this whole mini-arc—was just so nice, to the point where my heart was still warmed several days later. And it got me thinking about why it was so nice—obviously, Laid-Back Camp is meant to be soothing as a whole, but there was something about the portrayal of Rin’s introverted adventures that was particularly soothing to me. It’s rare that solo activities are shown in a positive light, when you think about it: often the group is presented as the better place to be, and people who do activities or hobbies on their own are seen as a little bit odd.
From team sports to online fandoms, there’s often a sense of community expected and embedded in our enjoyment of things—you could call it an ancient instinct to find safety in numbers and acceptance as part of a group, if you wanted to get anthropological. But the reality is, that doesn’t work for everyone all the time, and sometimes people need their space. And though it’s not something I’ve really thought about before, Laid-Back Camp has made me realise that we don’t often see media telling us that this is okay.
A salaryman is left blinking in the dust left by the #MeToo charge (The Japan Times, Kaori Shoji)
The anonymous account of a middle-aged man complaining that the openness resulting from #MeToo in Japan has “ruined” his life.
Even then, 実感なかった(jikkan nakatta, it didn’t sink in). I didn’t know any colleagues who harassed women. I myself have never harassed a woman. 自分は関係ないと思ってた(Jibun wa kankeinai to omotteta, I didn’t think it had anything to do with me), until my wife said that maybe she could 告発 (kokuhatsu, accuse) her former male boss of セクハラ (sekuhara, sexual harassment) over an incident that happened when she was 28.
I laughed and said, おばさんの言うことなんて誰も聞きたくないよ (Obasan no iu koto nante dare mo kikitakunai yo, No one wants to listen to an old woman). I meant it as a 軽い冗談 (karui jōdan, a light-hearted joke), but then I saw her face.
She was looking at me like I had turned into a bag of 生ゴミ (namagomi, wet trash) left out overnight where the crows could pick at it. What happened next was pretty bad.
She said I was unfit to be a father to our 10-year-old daughter and that Japanese men had no idea how to be ちゃんとした人間 (chantoshita ningen, proper human beings).
We didn’t speak for a week after that. We rarely have conversations that are unrelated to 日常茶飯事 (nichijō sahanji, day-to-day matters) anyway, but this time I got the feeling that she was fed up.
Day 15- Siobhan Sullivan (28 Days of Black Anime, Destiny Senpai)
An interview with Crunchyroll’s global social media strategist.
SS: Right now, I’m observing that the makers of all forms of media (TV, film, etc.) are finally realizing that depicting the black experience is energizing an entirely unique ovation of excitement from fans — black and non-black alike. It only makes sense that in 2017, Neo Yokio was one of the most discussed anime series of the year. I hope this fosters more black creators using the anime medium to tell their stories, since now, many of them have grown up watching the medium and appreciate its truly unique qualities.
As for working in the industry in the West, I foresee a greater need for PoC individuals. Their experiences are needed to develop the truest tapestry of anime fans and it is extremely valuable to companies who are trying to serve every type of anime fan there is.Bottom of Form
Shiage and Women’s Flexible Labor in the Japanese Animation Industry (Feminist Media Studies, Diane Wei Lewis)
An academic article about women’s role as unsung laborers in the animation industry. Note: requires a site subscription to read in full.
For much of the history of anime, women were in charge of shiage (finishing), the tasks of inking, coloring, and cleaning up drawings. Despite its seemingly minor contribution to the creative process, shiage reflects important historical transformations in anime production, since compared to other aspects of cel-style animation, it is more subject to the influence of technological innovations as well as labor redistribution. In the late 1970s, animation work took on special appeal due to its associations with creativity, media consumption, and leisure culture. Advertisements for animation work in women’s magazines reflected this changing image. These ads presented shiage as a creative hobby and a form of self-cultivation. This phenomenon shows how the convergence of production and consumption in “prosumption” supported new forms of value extraction and labor exploitation, both for the animation industry as well as for opportunistic companies that positioned themselves between would-be workers and studios.
A response from the producers of MMO Junkie distancing themselves from Yaginuma and ending their working relationship with him due to his anti-semitic comments.
It has come to our attention that a series of Tweets under the handle, @yaginuma_san, apparently made by Mr. Kazuyoshi Yaginuma have included anti-Semitic comments. SIGNAL MD wishes to make it clear that it is strongly opposed to and deprecates anti-Semitism and all forms of racism or discrimination.
Mr. Yaginuma was director of the anime “Recovery of an MMO Junkie” produced by SIGNAL MD, has never been our company member and is no longer employed by us.
Assuming the comments which appear under the Twitter handle @yaginuma_san, were indeed made by Mr. Yaginuma, they are not linked to his role as director of “Recovery of an MMO Junkie” and are not supported by SIGNAL MD.
Girls and Women Getting Out of Hand: The Pleasure and Politics of Japan’s Amateur Comics Community (Committee for the Revival & Promotion of Shoujo Manga, Rachel Thorn)
A reworking of an early-2000s essay on BL culture and Japanese fujoshi.
I’m often asked about this paper I wrote in 2003, because a lot of people are interested in what we used to call yaoi and now mostly call “Boys’ Love” or just “BL.” I’ve had it uploaded to Academia.edu for a while, but there’s something sketchy about that site, and I don’t like that people need to make an account and log in just to download my work, so I’m putting a copy here. I was hoping to embed a PDF reader on this page, but I haven’t figured out how to do that in a blog post, so all I can offer is an inelegant download link to the PDF. (I thought about posting it as HTML, but I’ve had trouble in the past with people copying and pasting whole essays of mine into their own websites and presenting it as original material.)
This paper–based on field work, interviews, and library research–is fifteen years old, and if I were to revise it, there are some things I would tweak, but I think my central arguments stand up pretty well today. I hope you enjoy it.
LGBT/Q & Feminist YouTubers in/from Japan and Queer Japanese Musicians (Twitter, Masaki Matsumoto)
A list of Japanese feminists and queer creators you can support on YouTube (several are Japanese language only).
???????????????? BLについての一人のゲイの意見 A gay man's opinion about yaoi/BLhttps://t.co/hvXzsmdePB
*I'd appreciate subtitle contributions! pic.twitter.com/Q04GVOXdwU
— Masaki C Matsumoto (@QueerESL) February 19, 2018
Be sure to check out our Twitter and talk page for some great shoujo suggestions!
the Holy Trinity for me pic.twitter.com/y2lj2FiC9D
— anime wife's girlfriend (@uuoonii) February 20, 2018
Onii-sama e/Dear Brother.
A work of indulgent camp genius, it's shoujo cranked all the way up to eleven (and then some!). Plumbs some unexpectedly nuanced depths while maintaining a rich cinematic aesthetic. pic.twitter.com/isHAtdNUtV
— pop team nana. (@nanairocosmos) February 20, 2018
This one was tough because as a teenager I was a very picky reader. Skip Beat stayed number 1 for years until Akatsuki no Yona happened. Those two are my favorite manga. My favorite anime is Utena. The ones I want to see adapted is Basara (properly&its entirety)&Crimson Hero. pic.twitter.com/D6eHOOBBhF
— ThatNerdyBolivianx (@LizzieVisitante) February 20, 2018