20 years of Utena, a deep dive into Japan’s political landscape, and LGBT interviews.
Anne Lee highlights one of manga’s most influential artists, Machiko Hasegawa. Sazae-san popularized the 4-koma and was considered an early feminist work.
Meli Taylor analyzes how Princess Tutu’s story pushes back against expectations in fairy tales, complicating roles like the damsel, prince, and villainous woman.
Advice from a few longtime professionals on how to break into writing about anime.
Now that Banana Fish is getting an anime, what other classics should be adapted?
Retrospective of a Revolution – 20 Years of Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Okazu, Erica Friedman)
A retrospective on the main versions of Utena in honor of its anniversary.
The themes of Utena are the same themes of any fairytale. A prince comes to free the princess from her bondage. The prince engages in duels to posses to princess. But, we’re supposed to understand that the rules of fairytales are not entirely applicable. That Utena, a girl, wants to be a “Prince,” i.e., that she want the agency herself and not be rescued but to be the rescuer is presented as a flipping of the standard. On the cusp of the 21st century, female viewers asked “What’s so amazing about that?” Women had already spent a century fighting for agency. It didn’t seem particularly revolutionary itself.
Revolutionary Girl Utena is all about prisons. Coffins, and relationships and schools that we wrap around ourselves to keep us from having to deal with the real world. Literal floating coffins populate the movie manga. Utena herself is found by Touga as a child laying in coffin in a church…and of course, Ohtori itself is presented in the shape of a keyhole Kofun tomb.
And the fairytale comes with a Greek chorus. The Shadow Girls provide commentary, gossip, insight and Macguffins in the form of news “extras.” Relevant, irrelevant, digression, derailment and diversion, they all ended up being meaningful…even the bits that made no sense.
Women’s Stories: LGBT Edition (English) (Women’s Stories: Japan)
Interviews with three different LGBT people of various ages and experiences.
I’ve only come out once by saying “I’m a lesbian!” We did a class assignment that involved introducing a partner instead of the usual self-introduction so I told my classmate I was gay. They replied, “We’re at an arts university. Aren’t there quite a few people that way inclined?” I’m sure they didn’t mean it in a malicious way but I was a bit disappointed.
I upload my artwork onto the internet so I guess friends that see that must know that I’m queer but I haven’t come out at home. Whenever the subject of same-sex marriage comes on the news my Dad laughs at them and makes comments like, “That’s gross” and uses words like “homo” and “lezza”. On top of that, one of my friends ran away from home because he’s gay. His Dad said to him, “If you’re gay then I don’t care if you die.” That really scared me and it’s made me think I definitely won’t tell my parents. Since I haven’t come out to them it also means I don’t show them my art. I’m sure they must wonder what on earth I’m actually making.
700 Students Attend LGBT Job Hunting Event in Tokyo (Nijiiro News)
The job fair featured 24 major companies that are dedicated to supporting LGBT workers.
It is easy for LGBT job hunters to become distressed, unable to imagine a future for themselves due to a lack of visibility of LGBT workers. They also risk being harassed during interviews. According to a 2015 phone survey conducted by DENTSU, around 7% of the Japanese population identifies as LGBT. This year, there are an estimated 30,000 newly-graduating job hunters.
28 year old Yakushi Mika of the non-profit organization ReBIT, which sponsored the event said, “Connecting thoughtful companies with related parties will increase the number of options where individuals can work, and will allow them to work and live as themselves.”
Largely statistics-oriented, this tracks platforms and incidences where children and adolescents have been preyed on via social media.
A record number of minors were victims of crimes such as child pornography and prostitution through social media in the first half of 2017, police data showed Thursday.
A total of 919 people under 18 fell victim in the January to June period, up 30 from a year earlier and the highest number since comparable data became available in 2008. Female high school and junior high school students accounted for nearly 80 percent of all victims, according to the National Police Agency.
More than 30 percent of the total, or 327 victims, used Twitter, while users of online services that enable them to communicate with multiple persons simultaneously increased.
An agency official said there has been a rise in the use of Twitter because it allows users to obtain multiple accounts anonymously.
“The number of child victims is on the rise and the situation is alarming,” NPA chief Masayoshi Sakaguchi told a news conference. “We want to actively take preventive measures through public-private collaborations.”
A SILENT VOICE: ANIME FEATURE REVIEW (Black Girl Nerds, DY)
A spoiler-heavy review of the film timed with its latest theatrical re-release.
This protagonist is an interesting and bold choice as most stories choose a likable character everyone can root for. But no, Shoya’s unlikable and practically the villain at the beginning of the film. He caused harm to an innocent person for no coherent reason. But you know what, this is real. In real life people are three-dimensional and everyone has done things in their past they are not happy about. So, I applaud the creators not following the safe, common route.
Shoya, as part of the amends he’s making before he commits suicide, visits Shoko for the first time since she transferred schools when they were younger. This is an important encounter, after all, what Shoya did to Shoko was the catalyst to all the bad that has happened to him – it’s “karma”. Shoko listens to what he has to say and, to Shoya’s surprise, what should have been an apology comes out as a request for friendship. If Shoko is open enough to hear him out, there’s a possibility he can be forgiven and if he’s forgiven then would he still need to take his life…?
Every Anime I’m Watching As Described Through My Neuroses (Otaku Journalist, Lauren Orsini)
Eight anime by way of personal examination.
I interviewed Kore Yamazaki, the creator of Ancient Magus’ Bride, at Crunchyroll Expo. It was one of the worst interviews of my life. Yamazaki kept deflecting my questions, or answering them in a way that felt more diplomatic than revealing. Later I found out from an industry friend that Yamazaki had been harassed pretty relentlessly by fans (particularly regarding her looks—and that was why she didn’t allow any photographs at CRX). This evasive interview wasn’t about my skills. I need to realize that more: Sometimes it’s not about you at all.
In Ancient Magus’ Bride, Chise is a girl who has never been wanted or loved. Only after a mage purchases her for an outrageous sum does she begin to see her own value. This is a Mary Sue story, but one with heart. I hope that while she watches world fall in love with her character through the anime, Yamazaki realizes she has given us something magical.
Identifying the ‘liberal’ in Japanese politics (The Japan Times, Philip Brasor)
A fairly dense article exploring what left-leaning politics look like in Japan’s currently very conservative political landscape.
This situation set off a conversation in the media as to what Japanese liberalism is. According to manga artist and conservative firebrand Yoshinori Kobayashi, only “stupid people” in Japan believe left-wingers are synonymous with liberals. Despite his own longing for prewar Japanese ideals, Kobayashi admires liberals for their dedication to “freedom,” which he thinks is the main philosophical pillar of liberalism. In an Oct. 7 blog post he admits to identifying more with the Japan Communist Party (JCP) — which he sees as being liberal, meaning centrist, and not “leftwing” — more than he does with the LDP or its doctrinaire brothers-in-arms Nippon Ishin no Kai. The JCP has abandoned many left-wing positions for a more practical stance.
“The JCP is changing all the time,” Kobayashi writes. “It no longer insists on abolishing the Emperor system or the Self-Defense Forces.” More significantly, the JCP is against neoliberalism and the free trade Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Kobayashi also opposes. “JCP’s policies are based on a nationalism that overlaps with conservatism,” he says, “while the LDP and Ishin support globalism and only call themselves conservatives.”
Kobayashi may be confusing liberalism with libertarianism, which, according to freelance journalist Tetsuo Jimbo, has no traction in Japan. In a discussion with veteran political operative Norihiko Narita on Jimbo’s website, Videonews.com, Jimbo says he thinks the late LDP Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa once represented the “liberal” wing of the party, though Narita makes the point that Miyazawa eventually became the standard bearer for what the media called the “new right” in Japan. Until the ’90s, the main opposition was the Japan Socialist Party, which was against the U.S.-Japan military alliance and advocated for a strict interpretation of the postwar Constitution.
Observing harmful trends among Japan’s youth culture and how they’re treated via an anime about aliens.
Throughout Denpa Onna the prospect of social reintegration for Erio proves to be an intimidating constant, a cultural ethos built upon the foundation of collectivist conceits unavoidable. Despite holding a desire to attend school with Makoto, it seems that Erio is unable to formally return to the education system with those involved presumably having espoused a negligent stance through allowing her to leave, a lack of accommodating initiatives available. Towards the anime’s end however Erio has displayed considerable signs of improving with regards to positive functioning, immersing herself in activities that would not cause a strain such as joining the local baseball team and conducting planetary activities in a safe, relatively distanced and clinical manner. While Erio’s trauma persists, aliens never far from view, through the aid of interpersonal support she is gradually coming back down to earth.
An update on how Abe’s women-centric campaign promises are progressing. Answer: not good.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made women’s empowerment a pillar of his economic policy as the workforce shrinks and the nation grays, but his decisive election victory Sunday failed to bring more women into the Diet.
Forty-seven women had been elected to the 465-seat Lower House as of 9:00 a.m. Monday, up slightly from 45 in the 2014 election. Five seats are pending.
In Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, women made up only 8 percent of the candidates versus more than 20 percent in some of the opposition parties.
This has been a quiet discussion week, but we’re still eager to hear more from y’all.