Some really interesting links this week on what it means to be “Other” while living in Japan, and spotlights on some quality women in anime (real and fictional).
A contributor makes a case for the strong lead and good, good queer subtext under the surface of this fanservice-fest.
Throwback posts are for linking essays on older shows that you might’ve missed – in this case, an article about Re:ZERO’s indulgence of a male savior fantasy.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure might predominantly be a show about beautiful men and their fashion muscles, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t women worth spotlighting too.
Disability and the experience of being a disabled person aren’t necessarily done often or well in anime – so let’s spotlight the good and unpack the bad.
The horrors of Fukushima awakened both virulent racism against perceived ‘foreigners’ (minority groups) living in Japan, as well as a movement newly aware of the need to campaign all the harder for human rights.
Hate speech in the form of vitriolic racist abuse on social media remains prolific. Some Zainichi Korean women who have become visible in the anti-racism movement even report being the targets of stalking at their workplaces and in their neighbourhoods. This has spurred activists and sympathetic politicians to advocate for legislation specifically addressing the problem of online hate speech.
Activists worry that the deep roots of discrimination in Japan go beyond hate speech. In Tokyo’s 2016 gubernatorial election in July, former Zaitokukai leader Makoto Sakurai garnered around 110,000 votes. Though only a fifth place ranking, and slightly less than two percent of the popular vote, Sakurai went on to found the far-right Japan First Party the following month.
Towards a True Children’s Cinema: on ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ (Bright Wall/Dark Room)
On how Totoro breaks from the traditional “hero’s journey” structure mandated in popular film, and succeeds.
My Neighbor Totoro is a genuine children’s film, attuned to child psychology. Satsuki and Mei move and speak like children: they run and romp, giggle and yell. The sibling dynamic is sensitively rendered: Satsuki is eager to impress her parents but sometimes succumbs to silliness, while Mei is Satsuki’s shadow and echo (with an independent streak). But perhaps most uniquely, My Neighbor Totoro follows children’s goals and concerns. Its protagonists aren’t given a mission or a call to adventure—in the absence of a larger drama, they create their own, as children in stable environments do. They play.
An account of the author’s experience living in Japan as a Black woman, and how she was often read as male because of Japanese standards of femininity.
What was happening here? No one had prepared me to deal with this, but I had my own theories as to why people were so confused. Physically speaking, I was so outside their standard definition of femininity. Most of the Japanese women I met had fair skin and spent a fair amount of time trying to keep it that way.
Fairness suggested beauty, aristocracy and grace. Darkness suggested peasantry, hours of toiling in the fields and blue collared farmers — most of whom were male. Since I was tall and liked doing pushups in my living room every day, I realized I had the build and the complexion of a man who tilled soil all of his life. But these theories would not help me in the classroom. The kids continued to question.
A news item to celebrate the recent election of Tomoya Hosoda as a councilor in Iruta.
In a profile for Out in Japan, Hosoda explained that he will be working for LGBT rights as well as improving the lives of the elderly and disabled.
He said: “For me, coming out is just the starting line.
“It is now time to build a foundation for the people who need to move forward. Some walls can not be overcome by one person. We have to work together, and help each other out.”
Legend of the Overfiend (Urotsukidoji) – Dicks Fall, Everyone Dies (Trash & Treasures)
A podcast retrospective on the infamous granddaddy of the tentacle porn subgenre. It…it’s actually kind of a boring movie, as it turns out?
Finding Yourself in Fandom (Uncanny Magazine)
An essay on the experience of being a person of color in geek circles.
Discussing race and identity has never been easy for me; my childhood heavily emphasized assimilation and “not seeing race.” The irony is that despite (or perhaps because of) the many problems regarding representation in fandom and geek culture, it’s in large part because of my participation in fandom that I’ve at long last found my footing in exploring what it means for me to be Asian American, and reconnecting with my roots as a Filipina.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE IDOLM@STER SIDEM’S ANIME STAFF? (Sakuga Blog)
It’s always nice to see titles go to up-and-coming female directors. Even if it’s an A-1 joint with some foreboding production issues.
Miyuki Kuroki taking up a directorial position comes as no surprise; she was my #1 prediction not only due to her well documented love of Jupiter, but her recent venture as sub-director in Occultic;Nine felt like a stepping stone being used to prepare her for bigger things.
Scum’s Wish: Tainted Teenage Love (Anime News Network)
On the fact that while Scum’s Wish might come from the same mold as End of Evangelion or Flowers of Evil, but it maintains far less of a clinical distance from its cast and their struggles.
Most importantly, Scum’s Wish is not out to criticize. It doesn’t intend to coldly analyze its characters, to indict or humiliate them, or to study them as nostalgic artifacts from the writer’s bygone history. Hanabi, Mugi, and Sanae are actively trying to navigate the stormy waters of young adulthood, and Scum’s Wish invites its audience to take that journey with them in the present tense.
Finding a family in Japan’s foreign drag scene (The Japan Times)
Drag is a complicated subject in the Western queer community, and this article interviews only foreigners who’ve carved themselves a place in Japan’s drag scene – but while this article feels a touch incomplete, it’s also intriguing as a look at intersections of Otherness.
Even if drag is not always feminist, it definitely has a radical side to it for Judd. He has been attacked several times on the streets of Osaka because of the way he dresses. Once, a man crawled between his legs with a camera while he was waiting at a station. However, he is adamant that incidents like these will not stop him dressing in drag.
On the contrary, he says: “Definitely it wouldn’t stop me from doing shows. I have actually done shows about it, about rape and abuse. Those experiences kind of blend into the work I do.”
But doing drag is safer here, the three agree, than in their own countries.
My Favorite Anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Little Anime Blog)
One writer speaks about what Puella Magi Madoka Magica has meant to her as a queer anime fan.
Before I moved to different kinds of theory in college, I had mere ideas of what my sexuality and identity meant to me as I grew into an adult. Suffice it to say, as I am still an otaku today, anime was one of the ways I figured out a lot about myself and what I was feeling before I could critically analyse it. For me, Magi Madoka was one of those series that shifted my thinking.
BONUS: The Sparkling Heart of Darkness: Madoka’s message of hope for mature audiences (Little Anime Blog)
If we take Madoka as a psychological horror, its problematic nature becomes less surprising. Le’s response conjures the practicality of horror as a means of exposing ourselves to our deepest fears, about the world around us and ourselves. Insignificance, an inability to free a terrifying world from suffering, underpins Madoka’s leap into becoming a magical girl on the promise of a granted wish from Kyubey. It’s a grim truth that wishes can only come true by giving up something of oneself.
— AniFem (@AnimeFeminist) March 20, 2017
We asked about portrayals of disability on Twitter as well, and got some great answers.
@AnimeFeminist As someone with Asperger’s my favourite depiction of disability in manga is “With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child”.
— Ian Wolf (@ianwolf) March 20, 2017
— Dre (@dre_lasana) March 20, 2017
— Peter Fobian (@PeterFobian) March 20, 2017
— to the girl almighty (@blusocket) March 20, 2017
An interesting take on My Hero Academia! Any thoughts on quirklessness as disability? https://t.co/VjbhWNoZnY
— AniFem (@AnimeFeminist) March 20, 2017
There are, as always, thought-provoking comments on the original post itself too, so feel free to join in the conversation!
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