This week: visual novels with sexual content under fire, #WeToo, and spousal abuse (Content warning for sexual assault).
An overview of Kamatani’s career, only one of which (Nabari no Ou) has currently been localized in English.
How, despite being made to sell toys, SB tackles issues of toxic masculinity and stigma around liking “girl stuff.”
Amelia, Caitlin, and Peter talk about how this season’s going now that it’s reached the halfway point.
We want to make a better experience for our readers; improving disability accessibility is the next step.
Whisperings of a Rose (Interview with Kunihiko Ikuhara & Chiho Saitoh) (Patreon, Tuxedo Unmasked)
A recent translation of an interview originally published in 1997.
Saitoh: I’m interested in finding a way to use the whole body to express meaning, which probably has something to do with my love for ballet. Even the slightest adjustment to the movement of a hand or the neck, and the whole feeling can change.
Ikuhara: Exactly! There’s a whole world of meaning lying within Chiho’s pictures. I felt that if all this going back and forth could bring out just a little more of that nuance, it’d be worth it. I wanted to fight with her. Or really, maybe I just wanted to spend more time together with her. (laugh)
Saitoh: Compared with the female characters, the male characters were typically approved in the first round. I was robbed of that little pleasure…! (laugh)
Ikuhara: Not at all. I wanted to make Chiho happy, so I made sure to put a lot of male characters in, introduced her to the Takarazuka Revue (a favorite of hers), and made a shojo/opera-esque story. The main character is even a beautiful girl in men’s clothes!
Me Too becomes We Too in victim-blaming Japan (The Japan Times, Kurumi Mori and Shoko Oda)
Because shaming is more culturally predominant and reinforced, the hashtag was shifted in Japan so that survivors could show visible solidarity with one another.
A group of activists, including Fukuhara and Shiori Ito, launched #WeToo Japan in February after deciding on the need for widespread support, saying it goes beyond the self-identification of victims in the Me Too movement started in the U.S. last year.
“By using ‘We Too’ instead, we show greater solidarity. We are letting victims know they’re not alone and that we listen and support, making it easier to speak up,” Fukuhara said. “Since Japanese society has some sort of prejudice against victims, it’s difficult for women to raise their hands and say ‘Me Too.’ ”
Their cause has struck a chord. According to organizers’ estimates, a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered in Tokyo last month for a protest over sexual violence with the slogan “I Will Not Remain Silent.” The protest, which attracted people from their 20s to 70s, was organized by women over various social media platforms.
TOEI ANIMATION’S MISMANAGED ATTEMPT TO IMPROVE ANIME’S WORKING CONDITIONS (Sakuga Blog, kViN)
Toei’s new policy forces staff members to take vacation days and reduces overtime hours, but didn’t address any elements of the production process that originally led to overworked, mistreated animators.
Since they’re not that foolish though, Toei’s executives did account for something along these lines happening. Their answer? Telling the staff that they shouldn’t concern themselves with quality dips on their work and to prioritize their rest. While there’s obvious truth to that, in the end that also came across as insulting, somehow upsetting their employees more in their attempt to calm them down. There are various reasons why that simply doesn’t cut it; for starters, purely professional ones, since creators don’t want their names to be attached to subpar work. But more importantly, there’s a sentimental factor to all of this. Everyone who sticks to anime production for a long time does so out of love for the medium, because otherwise it’s not really worth it. Telling someone like that to accept work they feel is undercooked because their boss wants them to spend a couple days home and expecting them to smile back is outrageous.
Shinya Asanuma Dedicated Himself to Learning About Ainu to Make His Designs True to Life! (Crunchyroll, Peter Fobian)
A short interview in a series talking with Golden Kamuy’s production team.
What parts of this project were particularly difficult?
The research, definitely!
Usually, I’ll use the original work as well as materials provided by the production team. But sometimes you’ll run into things where that’s just not enough… Also, sometimes even if you have a photograph, it’s not clear enough to use. In those cases, I just have to talk with Mr. Noda, the original author, or speak with the supervisors… This time, I had a dedicated supervisor who dealt with the Ainu culture, as well as a round of checks by the original author. Both of them had to approve it… It was pretty nerve-wracking.
Valve planned to expurgate racy visual novels with anime-esque visuals, possibly due to a barrage of complaints from a single conservative organization hiding behind feminist buzzwords. Valve has since pledged to “reassess” the situation, with final decisions pending.
While NCOSE seemingly appears to be a feminist organization, the group was originally created in 1962 by Christian and Jewish clergy members who feared children were accessing adult material too easily. The organization has been praised by Evangelical Republican Rick Santorum, and its former president Roberts Peters once blamed gay marriage and mass shootings in America on a “post-Christian society” that strays from “Judeo-Christian faith and values.”
More recently, the organization has worked to remove Cosmopolitan from Walmart’s shelves, arguing that the publication reinforces the idea that women and young girls are “sexual objects.” Whether NCOSE will turn its eye to more gaming retailers beyond Steam remains unclear. It certainly gives developers like Potvin reason to be afraid, however.
“As a queer developer whose income is from sales of [Mutiny!!], I was left wondering if I was about to be out of a job,” she told The OP. “We are looking into ways to manage the issues between now and the release of our next game.”
Liz & The Blue Bird – Taking a Risk Where Least Expected (Yatta-Tachi, Matthew Li)
An early review of the Sound! Euphonium spin-off film, focusing largely on Naoko Yamada’s directing choices.
Liz & the Blue Bird isn’t a typical sequel film to a TV anime; in general, it’s more of an experimental film. Yamada shines in her willingness to take the risk and direct a film for the Euphonium franchise in the manner of an arthouse film. The feeling of imprisonment she creates is anything but comfortable and may even leave a sour taste for those not experienced with watching arthouse, but her desire to test her own abilities outweighs the possible outcome of being misunderstood. Throughout the film, she pays little homages to Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) by Belgian filmmaker Chantel Akerman.
Akerman’s film follows three days in the life of a widowed single mother who finds herself stuck in her apartment all day performing mundane chores, including waiting several minutes for water to boil. In many ways, the three hour long film is a tortuous watch, which makes the final twist in it all the more impactful (it’s become a landmark film among the arthouse circle). While the ultimate theme of Akerman’s voyeuristic film doesn’t transfer to Yamada’s, there is certainly one note taken from Jeanne Dielman: the sense of being caged in the same space for the entire duration of the film.
Mari Okada and writing with your soul bared (Otaku Journalist, Lauren Orsini)
A short essay about Okada’s recent biography and how it speaks to the creative process.
Throughout the book, Okada describes her peculiar habits born of anxiety, like peeling off her fingernails and refusing to bathe for days. In her 20s, she began dating somebody for the first time. “I was afraid of what would happen if he overestimated me… The answer I arrived at was to leave open the toilet door and do my business in front of him. If he didn’t hate me after that, then I could believe his affection was genuine.”
Just like showing her bodily functions to a romantic partner, writing about the most repulsive aspects of herself—the ugly side of anxiety—is Okada’s coping mechanism to deal with what she can’t control: in this case, readers’ reactions to the book. By drawing attention to the things she is most ashamed of, she’s trying to beat us to the punch.
Unfortunately, as Okada’s narrative continues, it becomes apparent that neither hiding yourself at home nor revealing absolutely everything is enough to control how people feel about you. After one of the first anime she writes for airs, Okada decides to (cue ominous music) read the comments
They Were Never Asking For It: How Trauma Shaped My Body Image And The Way I See Other Women (April Magazine, Tara Footner)
A personal essay on grappling with cultural and internalized misogyny from an author who lived both in and outside of Japan.
Most women explained that after having kids they were tired. Between taking care of the house and the kids, their partners’ sexual satisfaction took on a less important role to them. One lady said, “the mother’s focus shifts from the husband to the kids.” A few mentioned that some of their friends stopped finding their husbands attractive because they weren’t involved in helping to raise the children.
However, the most common reason was exhaustion from work and timing not matching up with desire, so in the end they became complacent about making a romantic effort and got used to a lack of physical connection with their partners.
With that in mind, a couple of the ladies rightly questioned whether this was solely a Japanese female phenomenon, or something most women experienced. Was it simply more culturally acceptable to promote sexualized role-playing fantasies when young, but then live a sexually inactive existence once the social expectations of marriage and children has been achieved?
On the contrary, the women I talked to did not consider sexual promiscuity or extramarital affairs acceptable at any age—even though it does happen with more frequency than most would like to admit.
When the man who drugged and raped you is your husband (The Asahi Shimbun, Aya Shiori)
A discussion of the problem of spousal rape in current-day Japan.
After the discovery of her pictures, the husband agreed to seek counseling. But he attended only one group session before quitting, saying, “There is nothing sexually morbid about me.”
The couple later separated.
At the family court, the husband admitted that he had laced her drinks and food with sleeping pills to annoy her as the couple drifted apart.
He testified that he did not realize the serious implications of drugging his wife, saying he viewed images on the Internet showing similar acts.
“My reaction (to such images) was a casual one, like ‘you can do that,’” he told the court.
He also admitted that he had brief thoughts of releasing lewd images of his wife on the Internet.
The wife lodged a criminal complaint against her husband around May 2016, but prosecutors decided not to indict in March last year.
Manga Publishing in Indonesia – Part 1: A Brief History of Manga Publishing by Elex Media (The Indonesian Anime Times, Halimun Muhammad)
A timeline of manga localization and publishing in Indonesia, from the 1980s to today.
Whein compared to other countries such as the US or Japan itself, manga in Indonesia are comparably very cheap, even though the price has risen several times over the years. Currently, for regular release, a single volume of manga is still sold for less than US$ 2.50. “Readers are very sensitive about price; even a raise of Rp 1,000 (about 8 US cents) will incite a lot of protests.” To keep the price affordable for Indonesian readers, Ms. Sari explained, the cheapest type of paper is used to keep printing costs down. Colored pages are also printed black-and-white; though, if only for the front pages, they could still be kept colored. Elex Media also no longer releases manga with dust jackets, which is a move appreciated by readers as they tend to damage or lose the dust jackets anyway.
For select, popular titles, though, Elex Media may release “deluxe” or “premium” editions with better paper. A recent example is the premium edition re-release of Fullmetal Alchemist, based on the Japanese kanzenban edition. Despite being two times more expensive than the usual manga releases, the premium edition has been selling well, according to Ms. Sari.
Thanks for your suggestions, AniFam. Please feel free to keep them coming as we work toward this new goal.