[Links] 17-23 January 2018

FRANXX discourse, LGBT coming-of-age, and Taishou fashion.

AniFem Round-Up

Winter 2018 premiere digest

Here’s a list of every premiere we covered this season, along with general content warnings for each.

[Perspectives] My road to finding better Latinx representation in anime

Angely Mercado discusses her experiences with Latinx anime characters, from caricatures to more nuanced, rounded heroes in more modern shows.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 38: DEVILMAN crybaby Retrospective

Peter, Vrai, and Anime Nostalgia host Dawn talk about the Netflix hit and the juggernaut franchise of Devilman.

[AniFemTalk] What’s your Winter favorite so far?

We’re getting on toward three episode marks. How’s the season looking?

 

Beyond AniFem

Your Body is Not Your Own: Darling in the FranXX and Sexual Agency (or the Lack Thereof) (Mage in a Barrel)

A discussion of how the potentially subversive goals of FRANXX are currently undermined by the way it frames its characters and their lack of agency.

To conclude, it’s not merely the existence of these factors in Darling in the FranXX that upsets me. It is the fact that, in a show that without doubt must eventually become about its characters discovering their sexuality and taking agency for it, those same characters are afforded so little sympathy or respect. Their emotional suffering, which is so tightly woven into the sexualities they have no control over, is only a reminder that they have been written into a show that (again, presumably) wants to give them sexual agency as a fundamental part of its structure but at the same time has no qualms about objectifying them by shot framing, manipulating them into humiliating circumstances, and pushing the cinematic portrayal of their humiliation to maximum.

In short, it makes me deeply uncomfortable. That final shot of Ichigo’s heaving body, her gasping as if following a sexual encounter, conflates her emotional pain with sex appeal—and it put a knot in my stomach. For me as a viewer, it was horrible. If the adults of Darling in the FranXX have reduced the children they oversee to nothing more than puppets whose sexuality (metaphorically or literally) can be used to fight a war, then the show itself has similarly fetishized the characters’ sexuality for the purpose of entertaining its audience. It puts the audience in the place of the in-universe adults and dangles the sexuality of its characters before our eyes and says, “You like this, right? This is what you want these characters for?”

Gankutsuou and Responsibly Portraying a Teen Crushing on an Adult (Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, Vrai Kaiser)

A discussion of Gankutsuou in contrast to After the Rain, and how the former walks the line between respecting its young protagonist’s sincerity while also being aware that its older lead is predatory.

But crucially, that’s not all Gankutsuou is. As a story about growing from a child to an adult, it also places importance on layering in information and context outside of Albert’s experience: things that when, looked back on from adulthood, both preserve the sincerity of Albert’s feelings but also strip the proceedings of their romanticism. And that’s part of what makes it such a dynamic work of art, no matter the viewer’s age.

The story doesn’t just stay in Albert’s perspective—we often see the Count alone, plotting how he tends to manufacture his interactions with others in order to heighten their suffering. He is always a sinister figure, and we are forced to always consider his interactions with Albert in this light: no matter how kind or open he seems, or even if there is a grain of truth to what he says, he is manipulating a child for his own ends, with little to no regard for that child’s feelings—except for how they benefit him. We are never allowed to forget that this is a predatory relationship, and that no matter how much special insight Albert thinks he’s getting, it’s a calculated trick.

One of Gankutsuou’s smartest choices was to keep this relationship a purely emotional one. Outside of a few momentous hand-holdings, nothing physical happens between Albert and the Count. And the one time it threatens to is an absolutely crucial point in the story as an adult viewer. I mentioned above that there’s a point at which the story switches from Albert as a pawn to Albert as redeemer, hinging on eventually coming to view the Count as a tragic figure. The turning point in that arc is the only moment at which a physical relationship seems possible.

The Comedy Lesbian: Oosawa Yuu’s Feelings (Flip Flapping!, Kelira Telian)

An introduction to the comedy/stalker lesbian stereotype, and how Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles first plays into and then potentially averts the trope.

At any rate, episode 3 has two big breakthroughs. First, Koizumi acquiesced to going to a restaurant with Yuu, but due to how it was set up, they couldn’t sit together. This forced Yuu to experience the ramen, not just the ramen as an adjunct with being near Koizumi. Later on, Yuu finds Koizumi collapsed on the sidewalk (due to hunger), Yuu carries her back to her apartment, where she proceeds to prepare several homemade ramen dishes (using instant ramen as a base). By experiencing the ramen Koizumi enjoys, but without Koizumi’s presence, and making ramen for Koizumi, Yuu for the first time sees Koizumi as a whole person, not just the object of her crush. Koizumi, for her part, is warming up a bit to Yuu. She leaves a mess of ramen shop coupons in Yuu’s locker as thanks for the ramen Yuu made for her.

While Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san is not a romance show, the fact that it doesn’t fall into the easy Comedy Lesbian trope is a breath of fresh air. The type of show it is lends itself to that kind of characterization, and “Yuu likes Koizumi but they are both girls haha!” is a lot easier than “Yuu likes Koizumi and learns to express that in a healthier manner”. Here’s to hoping the show keeps this up, and even if Yuu doesn’t get the girl, she’ll at least have lots of good ramen. And you know what they say, the path to a girl’s heart is through her stomach!

Helping LGBT people live the way they are (Inquirer)

A coming-of-age ceremony for LGBT young adults was held just after the mainstream event, hosted by ReBit—an organization founded by trans man Yakushi.

ReBit began helping LGBT students find jobs in 2013. The group provides information on topics such as the hardships they may face and the companies that are more understanding toward sexual minorities. It also hosts events at which students and working people can exchange information. They also conduct seminars for companies.

The activity started based on Yakushi’s experience. He once worked at an online advertising agency after graduating from Waseda. Before entering the company, he had applied to more than 40 companies. Yakushi revealed his gender identity to all the companies, saying he wanted to work as a male. Some companies accepted Yakushi’s request and made encouraging remarks, but he also had to face harsh responses — at one company, Yakushi was told to go home soon after an interview started, and at another company, an executive asked Yakushi a question at the final screening process, saying, “Can you give a birth to a baby?”

The experience made Yakushi realize the necessity of supporting students in their job search.

Manga cafes and capsule hotels shift focus to female-friendly features (The Japan Times, Takuya Iida)

Several businesses realized they could make a great deal more money if they offered accommodations that catered to female clientele.

The cafe lets people to enjoy drinks and snacks while reading various comic books and magazines of the genre as well, allowing them to access the internet for gaming and to watch videos on a pay-by-the-hour basis.

Hailey’5 Cafe in Shibuya opened in last August. Its operator made an effort to ensure his establishment threw off the dark and oppressive image of the typical manga cafe, a decision the manager said led to a higher-than-normal ratio of female customers.

It offers small, private rooms that users can lock with a key card. The spaces are all nonsmoking, sound-proofed and allow temperature and lighting levels to be controlled individually, with aroma oil provided for free.

Your name. showed me, that I am transsexual (Spoilers) (Starkev)

A personal essay from a German blogger about how Your Name helped her come to terms with her gender identity.

I want to talk about my favorite moment in the film, when Mitsuha finally realizes that she wants to be Taki. She is standing in front of a mirror, looking into her face and she starts crying. She thinks about the date, she organized for Taki with his colleague, on which Taki has a crush on. But Mitsuha wants to participate in that date. She is the one who actually wants to date Taki’s colleague. That’s when I felt: “Woah, that’s relatable”. She even cuts her hair and afterwards she looks more like a boy. I realized, I felt a bit like her. I’m living a life, I don’t want and I am having a body, I don’t want. Just like Mitsuha. All at once, I understood something, but I wasn’t quite sure yet what I understood.
It wasn’t until the next day that I came to fully understand that I wanted to be female. Someone on German AniTube uploaded a video about her feelings about your name..The thumbnail has a nice gag which translates to “Why doesn’t it feel right?” and I saw that thumbnail, where Taki in Mitsuhas body is touching her breasts the whole day in my subscription feed on Youtube. Sometimes I thought: “I would like to do this too”, but not in a lewd way, I just wanted to have breasts. That was my finale confirmation that I am transsexual.

“IN THE BEGINNING, WOMAN WAS TRULY THE SUN”: HAIKARA-SAN GA TOORU AND EMERGING FEMINISM IN THE TAISHOU ERA (Through a Glass)

A primer on a historical anime exploring how women pushed back against social roles through fashion choices.

Haikara-san ga Tooru immediately establishes itself as an intrinsically revolutionary curio for the modern girl, protagonist Benio and her cohorts striving to rectify the sense of inequality plaguing Japanese women and their projected fate of growing into the living embodiment of chaste femininity. Once a pejorative couched in derisively slighting those adopting western fashions coined by journalist Ishikawa Yasujiro, eventually the titular ‘haikara’ (ハイカラ; high collar) took on positive connotations [1], comparable to the flapper movement in which social change facilitated girls to go against archaic strictures and regain a highly subversive mode of individualism. Benio herself is a coarse figure representative of the movement, maligned by those of the old guard as she swigs sake at seventeen, engages in skirmishes with thugs, and holds more of an interest in kendo as opposed to perfecting tea ceremonies and passively accepting arranged marriages rooted in tradition; domesticity spurned. Time is instead spent honing distinctive qualities that matter, Benio’s generation blurring boundaries of what the quintessential Japanese woman ought to be through looking beyond the familial institution of the 1920s. Armed with defiance and candour, this new woman paves the way for a form of emerging feminism during the Taishou era.

Hello, I’m Queer and I Like Darling in the FranXX (Jakitauji, Jakiba)

A protest against the assumption that, because FRANXX thus far focuses exclusively on heterosexuality, it could only possibly be appealing to straight people.

Discussions around gender and sexuality in relation to Darling in the FranXX is therefore only going to be a natural occurrence. I’ve personally haven’t been bothered much by how the show has gone about handling these topics as of now. Whilst I can easily see why many elements of DarliFra is problematic to people, I’ve so far found it to be an intriguing look into how society values worth based on sex and how sexuality can be forced upon teenagers by those societal structures. Ironically enough, I don’t think I would be as intrigued and enjoy those elements as much if I was still identifying as a cishet male. I think I would’ve just seen it as an entertaining fan-service romp, with the characters going by the “natural order of things”. In that respects, I’d love to see the show explore and acknowledge different forms of sex and sexuality. I think it’d be interesting to see how this world and these characters would react in those situations after having their idea of what sexuality is ingrained into them.

Despite my thoughts on it, looking around online at discussions about DarliFra has thrown up some troubling elements. I’ve seen people absolutely despise it for the depictions of these elements, which is fair enough. Where I take issue is the underlying notions that DarliFra, alongside other pieces of art, are specifically only for one particular group.

What We Really Need To Talk About When We Talk About Logan Paul (April Magazine, J Maraan)

On how Logan Paul’s behavior in Japan, even beyond his video of Aokigahara, perpetuates a dehumanizing view of Japanese people as accommodating entertainment for westerners.

Whether these incidents occur in Tokyo or Seoul, they spring from the same underlying attitudes. All too often, Asian people of all ethnicities not perceived as equals to Westerners, thanks to Western media’s long tradition of reducing Asian cultures, languages, and bodies to props for entertainment. Unfortunately, new media influencers like Logan Paul reinforce these distorted portrayals, creating a negative feedback loop that exacerbates the issue. Additionally, Youtube employs a business model that rewards creators based on quantity of views rather than quality, which incentivizes the mass production of problematic content.

Paul has a net worth of about $15 million, and even more in dedicated fans. Coming from this place of wealth and privilege, this man is in a position to use his popularity for good. But instead, he chooses to abuse his power by degrading other cultures. His behavior is extreme, but whether he likes it or not, he acts as a representative of his people. As a content creator at the forefront of what has become a global platform, he has the social responsibility to be respectful to other cultures, especially when staying as a guest in a foreign country. With so many impressionable young fans who look up to him as a role model, he needs to be conscious of the influence he wields and must be held accountable for his actions.

The Culture of Alcohol in Japan vs. in America (Yatta-tachi, Bill Curtis)

A largely light-handed look (underage drinking and alcoholism are covered but how these things affect women/rape culture is not) at the evolution of laws and cultural ideas about general drinking culture between the two countries over the past century or so.

Japanese society also enables these drinking practices by being so damn safe all the time. Japan has an extremely robust public transport system, which means drunk driving incidents are very rare. And if a businessman passes out in a puddle of barf on the train or on the side of the road, as they frequently do, they’re unlikely to be attacked, harassed, or stolen from. You could never expect that level of safety in a big city in the US.

But all these years of drinking take their toll. According to a 2003 article from the American Psychiatric Association, the rate of alcoholism in most developed countries is declining, but it’s actually getting worse in Japan. The thing is, they’re not doing a whole lot about it. In America, there are rehab centers just for alcoholics and hospital space specifically for alcohol abusers. Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups are well-known. We treat alcohol like a drug.

In Japan, they don’t. Most hospitals don’t dedicate more than a couple beds to people with addictions, and there are very few rehab centers. Most Japanese people don’t consider others to have a drinking problem unless they get violent. This Japan Times article refers to a 2013 survey by a Japanese Health Ministry research team which states that, at the time, about 1.09 million people in Japan were alcohol abusers, but only 40 to 50 thousand were receiving treatment.

 

AniFem Community

Everybody has a few stand-out faves for this pretty healing-themed season, plus a few major disappointments.

What's your favourite show so far? A Place Farther Than The Universe. I'm really enjoying its adventurous feel that fully understands that every step is as strong as the destination should be. It's made me think long and hard about who I am. It's also worth discussing here, as there's a cast of well developed women in important positions (the expedition group of adults is mixed, though Yuzuki's mother was problematic as a parent, we couldn't deny she was clearly an excellent producer etc). What's got a three-episode try, only to disappoint? I was really enjoying School Babysitters, but the creepy jokes making its way into the 3rd episode made me feel uncomfortable. But Violet Evergarden's boring me like few other shows do. I'm not impressed by anything but the visuals. The constant infantilising of Violet grates me the wrong way, and the other background characters are terribly trite. What looks promising, but you're maybe not sure yet? Record of Grancrest War has been surprising me. It's a bit fantasy vanilla, and there's some fanservicey shots and premises, but thus far, Siluca is one of the most righteously powerful women in the genre. I'm constantly on edge that she's going to be damsel'd for our hero Theo to be heroic, but it's not happened yet. She's been more than capable on the battlefield, and outside she runs rings around everybody with her smart political mindset. What show totally surprised you? In a good way, Märchen Mädchen. It feels cautiously problematic in its camera angles, but thus far I've just completely bought into its magical feeling and Hazuki as a main character. Something about the way she's written is very believable, and I can super relate to her. In a bad way, did anybody else see Darling in the FranXX's 2nd episode? Gosh, I feel like somebody needed to tell the director we get your sexual references. They went waaaay too far making their point, and I doubt they have the nuance to pull off a meaningful message out of the premise.

-What’s your favorite show so far? This is a strong season for me overall (I'm watching 13 shows at the moment), so it's hard for me to decide from the new titles, but I think Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc is a good balance of nostalgia and making the series feel fresh again. Also the art is gorgeous. -What got a three-episode try, only to disappoint? School Babysitters. It seemed like a cute, harmless show and then suddenly they introduce a pedophile character played for laughs, and that threw me so badly that I dropped it before the episode was over. Kokkoku has a lot of potential story-wise, but after that sexual assault threat at the end of episode 2 I've been putting off watching episode 3. I'm debating whether to give it another shot, or wait until the season is over to see if it's worth continuing. -What looks promising, but you’re maybe not sure yet? Devilman Crybaby. I've heard both a loooot of hype and a loooot of potential issues with this series, but I'll probably get around to it at some point. -Which show totally surprised you? Sanrio Danshi like others have said, but also IDOLISH7. So far both are shows about Good Boys with zero toxic masculinity and good character work. IDOLISH7 also has really good music, which you would think would be a given for music-themed shows but this is hands down the best I've heard from the genre (at least from the shows I've seen). Not to mention that in general this seems to be an anime season where there's been several shows that involve instances of men openly complimenting other men's appearances without it being made into a joke or Gay Panic.

 

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