This week: a production assistant seeking union help for 300+ uncompensated overtime hours, a highlight of Sayo Yamamoto’s work, and a law recognizing the Ainu as an ethnic minority in Japan.
Miss one of our premiere reviews? They’re all here, with updated content warnings.
The team’s favorites of the winter season, including sequels and carryovers.
More anime tie-in games are getting translated than ever—any stand-outs?
Law recognizing indigenous Ainu enacted (NHK World-Japan)
The law names the Ainu as a recognized ethnic minority in Japan.
The law stipulates for the first time that the Ainu are an indigenous people, and calls for the creation of a society in which they can take pride in their heritage. It also holds the central and local governments responsible for promoting measures to achieve the goal.
It calls for establishing a subsidy program for regional revitalization aimed at helping local authorities implement projects to promote Ainu culture.
It also calls for deregulation to make it easier for the Ainu to gather wood in state-owned forests and catch salmon in local rivers, as part of efforts to help them conserve their cultural traditions
Bloom into You and Exploring Asexuality (Crunchyroll, Natasha H.)
An essay on the nuances of Yuu’s character arc.
Yuu often spends her time determining if she truly “loves” Touko, because her actions aren’t based off a need for physical intimacy, and at first, even a romantic one. It is a harrowing depiction of someone who is possibly aromantic or asexual and struggling to fit themselves in society’s established definitions of what it means to be in love. Are we motivated by love to help someone? Does being in love mean that we need to constantly get riled up by the physical presence of that person? If romantic affection isn’t present, then are we just being “kind?” Is there truly no one that makes us tick as an individual, no one whom we determine as special, and thus no one who makes us special in return?
If Bloom Into You continued going down this path, it could almost be misconstrued as a story about how Yuu is considered a ‘broken’ individual, that her feelings are inadequate, and that her anxiety is nothing but a symbol of how girls should just “get it together.” Luckily, Bloom Into You goes beyond that. Yuu teaches us that in spite of being asexual, there is nothing inherently wrong with being so. You can still live a fulfilled relationship where you seek affection and validation. The show shoots down the theory that either Yuu and Touko are girls that need fixing or help for their perceptions of falling in love. Rather, Bloom Into You focuses on how the two use their relationship like any other healthy couple would: to learn more about each other and progress towards self betterment. This is particularly powerful for Yuu, who struggles with the concept of love daily. A kiss does nothing for her, but through being with Touko, she can learn to love herself a little more and understand the desire to help and be with someone.
LOVE ME FOR WHAT I AM (FUKABOKU): A SWEET DRAMA THAT EXPLORES JAPAN’S GENDER LANDSCAPE (Anime Herald, Ashley Hakker)
An article on the found queer family of this currently unlicensed title (reminder that Seven Seas has a licensing survey every month).
From the start of its second chapter, FukaBoku had me mesmerized. It wasn’t simply that the cover and setup had “tricked” me with the promise of indulgent BL before switching it for gritty LGBT drama, but rather that it gracefully layered one under the other and let them run concurrently. The series is a rare instance of true representation of LGBT readers. Its scenario of an ‘Accepting Queer Family’ forming among the staff at Question! Provides a relatable parallel what many real-life LGBT people find themselves doing out of sheer necessity. At the same time, relatable conflicts and challenges fill nearly every panel. The raw emotion of these are made palatable to even the most casual readers, though, by its sugary coating.
Possibly the greatest challenge to exposing the greater world to FukaBoku is convince readers that there is so much more than what the cover hints at. I cannot deny that I saw this cover several times in my social media feeds for several months, and simply passed it over because it failed to stand out. At a glance, it looked like so much other content that I was already reading.
Before Yuri!!! On Ice: Sayo Yamamoto’s Legacy (Tumblr, Anime Boston)
A short primer on Yamamoto’s other works and where to find them.
In Fall 2016, queer figure skating anime Yuri!!! on Ice made history. But long before this anime became a global hit, series director Sayo Yamamoto was shaking up the anime industry.
Since her directorial debut at 25, Yamamoto has been bringing her unique style to anime series you might not even know she was responsible for directing. Panelists (and prolific Yuri!!! On Ice fanfiction authors) Songbird Sara and Magrathea shared some of the highlights of her career.
Episode 105 – Dr. Miriam Wattles (UCSB) (The Meiji at 150 Podcast)
A podcast on the historical and modern use of art as activism in Japan.
In this episode, Dr. Wattles sketches the political potential of artists and artistic production, from early manga artists in the Tokugawa period to activist artists today. We discuss early Meiji portraiture and changing women’s employments, editorial cartoons and manga critical of the government and society, and jail cartoons from an immigrant detention center outside Tokyo today.
Madhouse Production Assistant Says He Worked 393 Hours in One Month (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)
He is currently part of a union and in the process of collective bargaining over compensation.
The production assistant explained: “During crunch time, the most I worked was 393 hours a month.” The Japanese government’s proposed limit for overtime per month is 100 hours.
The assistant also spoke in detail about the circumstances that led to him being hospitalized due to overwork. “I was working on one of the later episodes of a series. The storyboards only got finished a month before the broadcast, so we had to compact a three-month production schedule into one month. During that time I would sleep at the studio for three days, only going home to have showers.
“It was around 7 in the morning when I was returning to my apartment one day when all the hunger, tiredness, and stress over all the things I had to do got to me and I collapsed on the road. A policeman who just happened to be cycling by called the ambulance for me. When I woke up, I was like, “Oh, overwork huh.” I had some IV dripped into me, paid the 10,000 yen ambulance fee, and then went home just like that.”
How a gay student’s suicide after being outed is helping Japan’s LGBT community speak up (South China Morning Post, Julian Ryall)
The tragic death has drawn attention to the lack of widespread education about LGBT issues among the general population of Japan.
Ken Suzuki, an openly gay professor in the Faculty of Law at Meiji University, said ignorance and a lack of education were the causes of the problem.
“I do not think that there has been an increase in the number of people being outed, although the incident at Hitotsubashi University in 2015 has made people realise that this is a serious problem,” Suzuki said.
“The cause is ignorance of sexual orientation because there is no education among college teachers, counsellors or students of what can and should be done,” he said. “Many people in Japan still see sexuality as a deeply personal issue, but in fact it is a public matter that involves public institutions – and only now is that being recognised.”
Rule of Rose is a Horror Gem That Deserved Better (Fanbyte, Vrai Kaiser)
Despite its flaws, the game also dealt with childhood abuse and other heavy topics with surprising effectiveness.
Jennifer’s antagonists throughout the game are her fellow orphans, who have banded together to form the Red Crayon Aristocrats and create a charter all the children are meant to obey: Diana is the oldest, entering puberty and two-faced in her interactions with the other girls; Meg hides behind her glasses and notebook, planning torments for children who don’t obey the Aristocrats’ rules; Eleanor is an icy onlooker, Amanda is willing to say whatever it takes to make sure she’s no longer the lowest on the ladder; and the mysterious “princess” of the society looms over all of them, represented as a porcelain doll.
Over the course of six or eight hours, the player is guided through a metaphorical landscape about the effects of abuse and how they ripple outward, with each successive chapter peeling back the layers of its undeniably cruel children to reveal their scars: Eleanor’s coldness masks parental abandonment; Meg is in love with Diana, who turns her confession into a backhanded public humiliation; and Diana suffers sexual abuse at the hands of the headmaster.
All of them are playacting at a social order because it gives them something to cling to in the face of their personal traumas, passing the buck of suffering down to the next unfortunate who hasn’t yet bought into the system they’ll be forced into as adults. Perhaps the comparison to Lord of the Flies, a story not so much about the brutality at the heart of all humanity but specifically about countering boys’ adventure stories whitewashing British Imperialism, is an accurate one after all.
Thread: A discussion of how fujoshi culture and its place is shaped by Japanese social norms.
Thread: Academic resources about shoujo.
Tell Us What To Tell Japan About Your Favorite Anime (Crunchyroll, Cayla Coats)
A survey asking for fan opinions on merchandise and upcoming series.
Hi there, it’s Cayla! About a year ago, my boss asked me to try and quantify the unquantifiable–anime fans’ tastes–through a survey. Our grand experiment got us quite a bit of interesting data, but it was a bit… impossible to nail down in an easy to read chart or graph. Now, twelve months wiser, we’re setting out once again to dive deep into the heart of what it means to be an anime fan. We’ve revived our survey from the dead and revised some of the questions, and it is now ready to see the light of day! Anime fans are at the heart of what makes Crunchyroll possible, and we want to share the love you all feel for your favorite shows with the world. The survey will be open for a week and once it’s closed, we’ll take our findings and publish them in a series of follow-up features with infographics and whatever other ways we can think of to illustrate the data in a cool, interesting way! Take the survey below and let us know about your anime favorites!
Lots of mobile game contenders, but some solid console outings too!