This week: some very heavy topics including anti-disability bigotry and homophobia, child welfare laws, and a structural analysis of Attack on Titan.
Did you miss any of our reviews? You can see a full list here, with feminist-relevant content warnings.
Alex Henderson discusses the messy but often effective metaphors of Yurikuma’s lesbian bears, walls, and social stigma.
A beautiful period piece that assumes familiarity with Edo period mentalities and history and seems content for now not to challenge those views.
The series shifts from kids playing VR pranks on one another to some quiet, melancholy episodes on AI awareness.
We Tried To Uncover The Long-Lost ‘American Sailor Moon‘ And Found Something Incredible (Kotaku, Cecilia D’Anastasio)
An investigative journey through licensing Sailor Moon, the supposed Power Rangers-style pilot that failed, and the early days before the ’90s anime boom took off in the US.
I wasn’t the first person to call Toon Makers asking about the pilot. Solotoff said that he receives two or three inquiries every month from Sailor Moonhunters hoping to track it down. Eventually, he just stopped responding.
Even if Solotoff didn’t have the video I coveted, I wanted to ask him more about the show. “It was a time when ‘politically correct’ became ‘politically correct,’” he said. “We just wanted to keep the flavor of Sailor Moon and make it something where people who had no idea what it was could identify with these characters.” Solotoff recalled designing Sailor Mercury’s character to be a red-headed girl in a wheelchair. “We created a flying machine for her when they went into the animated world,” he said.
One actor for this American Sailor Moon was a cat who played both Luna and Artemis, Sailor Moon’s talking feline guides. Working with cats on-screen is notoriously difficult. “They drugged the cat so much it kept peeing on everything,” Solotoff said.
Reflection on Attack on Titan: How the narrative failed its characters (Lady Love and Justice)
Part of a series of essays examining the narrative and thematic shortcomings of Attack on Titan from the early manga to present. Contains heavy manga spoilers.
Historia and Ymir were nuanced queer characters whose relationships were fleshed out well. I do believe Isayama put care into crafting their initial arcs and developing them.
But then we run into a problem. A problem that eventually we run into with every character in AOT. Isayama stops caring about them. After their initial big arcs or moments in the spotlight or backstory reveals, he just doesn’t know what to do with these characters anymore. So they completely disapppear from the manga or fade into the background only to matter again when he decides to kill them off for some cheap shock moment. Either that, or they just exist to further the narrative of how the military is cool and we have to exterminate all our enemies and blablabla.
Because he ultimately cares about that narrative far, far more than he does giving these characters the full stories that resonate, make sense and are effectively paced. He’s completely willing to undo all the character work he did previously if it means he can be edgy or impress his ideals on the reader.
Critics: Book on killer of disabled people sends wrong message (The Asahi Shimbun, Naoto Iizuka)
The self-confessed killer’s book contains accounts of his childhood, details of the brutal killing, and his beliefs that disabled people should be killed. Critics worry that allowing the book’s publication will spread and normalize the killer’s ideas.
Hiroyuki Shinoda, editor-in-chief of the publisher’s monthly magazine, Tsukuru, defended the decision to release the book, saying it also sheds light on why the incident occurred and proposes measures to prevent a similar tragedy by printing interviews with family members of the victims as well as the insights of psychiatrists.
“I feel a deep sense of crisis as I see society fast forgetting the incident because the news media have not scrutinized it,” Shinoda, 66, said.
The book is partly based on Shinoda’s 70 or so exchanges with Uematsu via e-mail and interviews since July 2017.
In the articles carried in the magazine, Uematsu was unwavering in his attitude toward disabled people, arguing that “mercy killing should be accepted for people who are incapable of communicating with others.”
The magazine had previously sparked controversy by printing the memoirs of death-row inmates.
Opponents of the book, many of them parents of disabled people, said the project would “give a wrong message to society.”
In June, Takashi Sasaki, a professor of welfare for the elderly at the Junior College of the University of Shizuoka, visited the Tokyo-based publisher and presented about 2,000 signatures of people opposed to the release of the book.
601 cases have been reported over the past year since sexual assault laws were broadened, which also brought visibility to the issue and possibly encouraged those who might not have reported otherwise.
The Penal Code revision came into effect on July 13 last year, changing the Japanese term for rape to one that translates directly as “forced sexual intercourse, etc.” and eliminating a requirement that the victim needs to file a criminal complaint before a case can be prosecuted. The definition of rape was also broadened to include male victims.
A crime was also newly established to target parents or guardians who abuse their position to conduct sexual acts on children under the age of 18, even if such acts are not accompanied by violence or threats, along with a crime covering indecent acts by guardians.
According to the NPA, males were the victims in 29 of the 601 recorded rape and incapacitated rape cases in the first half of the year, and there were 27 cases in which the crime covering victims in the custody of perpetrators would apply. The number of cases in which people were apprehended over the newly defined crime of rape reached 535, or 104 more than during the same period the previous year. Another 23 were apprehended for sexual offences as guardians. In 14 of those cases, the victims were either adopted children or stepchildren, and nine were birth children.
5 Female Mangaka Who Should Be Recognized (The Mary Sue, Princess Weekes)
With Rumiko Takahashi’s Eisner win, here are five more female artists whose work also deserves to be lauded.
One of the biggest name in fantasy and romance, Yuu Watase is most know for Ceres: Celestial Legend and Fushigi Yugi. The former is a supernatural series about a girl named Aya who finds out she is is the reincarnation of a celestial maiden named Ceres who was kidnapped by her human “husband,” who has also been reincarnated into Aya’s twin brother, Aki. The series has really dark moments, but also is a really interesting commentary about relationships between men and women. Fushigi Yugi is about two best friends, Miaka Yuki and Yui Hongo, who find a strange book in the library that transports them both into a world that resembles medieval China. Yui gets sent back, but Miaka is stuck in the world and must survive a bloody and devastating war. It was a huge gateway into fantasy manga and has remained deeply popular.
Remembering Magical Princess Minky Momo (Yatta-tachi, Astra W)
A history of the magical girl series Minky Momo and its legacy.
So, what is her magic? While other mahou shoujo characters would only transform into a powered-up or the superhero alter ego, Momo transforms into… real world professions!? Really. In order to help people, the princess is granted the magic to become the more grown-up version of, among others, a nurse, a theme park ride programmer, a bride (with wedding gown and bouquet), a singing contestant, a policewoman, and more. Though, there are some professions that may be stranger than others.
The Sea Momo’s power is later expanded so that her transformations are no longer limited to professions. Additionally, she can also casts magical spells.
In terms of Momo being a magical princess, the character has been compared to its predecessor, Sally the Witch. Sally is a princess from a magical kingdom who uses her power to help people around her. The 1966 show is considered the pioneer of the mahou shoujo genre.
A small press release/review on Okada’s emotionally intense new film.
As a result, one of the best things Okada does in Maquia is not only focus on Maquia’s growth from an insecure child to a powerful and mature woman, but also examine how we preserve and transform culture, while also passing it down to the next generation. This is executed incredibly well through the metaphor of the Hibiol, but also through the ever changing relationship between Maquia and Ariel. How do we protect the things that can be easily forgotten? Pass on knowledge and customs? Fight the passage of time that inevitably outlasts everything we try to do to remain the same? Okada deftly weaves these questions into the fabric of the movie, and it results in one of the well developed stories I’ve seen from her to date.
Japan beefs up child welfare measures after abuse death (The Asahi Shimbun)
The change comes after the death of five-year-old Yua Funato, who was killed by parental neglect and malnutrition in March. Two thousand welfare workers will be added to the existing number.
Announcing the emergency measures on Friday, Japan said it would also order local authorities nationwide to confirm the safety of all preschoolers, relying on the help of law enforcement officials, if necessary.
“The government will work as one to create a society that protects the lives of children,” its top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told a news conference.
Three weeks before Yua died, her mother had refused to let welfare workers see her at the family’s apartment in Tokyo, the head of the local authority in Japan’s capital said.
He said the workers did not insist on seeing Yua because the family was no longer under official supervision, and they wanted to build an amicable relationship with the family, which had recently moved from the western prefecture of Kagawa.
Despite rights enshrined in child welfare law, children in Japan have no independent advocate or representation, unlike other developed countries such as Britain and the United States, leaving their well-being in the hands of welfare workers.
Slavery is our problem, too (The Japan Times)
The 2018 Global Slavery Index defines slavery as “the use of threats, violence and deception to deprive an individual of the ability to control his or her body, to refuse certain kinds of work or to stop working altogether.” That definition affects over 40 million worldwide.
Japan’s performance is troubling by other measures as well. The Global Slavery Index has a “Government Response Index” that totes up such measures as support for survivors, the criminal justice system, coordination among agencies, addressing risk and attention to the supply chain. Its rating is CCC, better than only Iran and North Korea within the region. The index also notes that more than half of the Group of 20 countries have not formally enacted laws, policies or practices to stop business and government sourcing of goods and services produced by forced labor. Sadly, Japan is among those 12 countries.
While Walk Free is to be applauded for shining a light on this appalling practice, critics challenge its definition of slavery and the methodology of its research. The lack of a single, accepted definition means there is always room for debate and distraction. Expect too complaints about cultural imperialism and insensitivity.
We must not allow ourselves to be sidetracked. The index makes clear that slavery is not “someone else’s problem.” We are all connected to the trade and we must be alert to the ways in which we enable and encourage this appalling practice. Supply chain transparency is a critical step in this process. Consumer awareness is as well. The Global Slavery Index is an important contribution to this growing consciousness.
Japanese Parliamentarians Discussing LGBT Education
(Content Warning for lots of homophobia)
Keep those faves coming—we can’t watch every show, so we love hearing about hidden gems from our readers.
— Peter Fobian (@PeterFobian) July 24, 2018
REVUE STARLIGHT OR AS I CALL IT
— Atelier Tess✨Jibun Boshi! ~Winter break writing~ (@Melphis__Amekia) July 24, 2018