Sex workers, misogynistic marketing, and inhumane conditions for animators.
Guest author Ashley Glenn discusses how the manga deals with actual issues faced by queer couples, such as coming out and dating past high school.
Guest author Zeldaru analyzes Machi’s arc in Interviews with Monster Girls as she decides to become a scientist studying dullahans, and the issue of furthering understanding without feeling the need to “cure” non-normative bodies.
The last summer premiere. Has potential to discuss discrimination but might also end up being lazy and cobbled together based on stock tropes.
The watchalong continues, now with more Griffith.
A handy condensed list, so you can eyeball the potential issues with each premiere (plus an episode or two) and decide what you’re eager to watch.
Yuri On Ice‘s creative team finally confirmed the show’s central romance. What’s your take on creator input? Most important, least, or in between?
WELCOME TO THE BALLROOM – EPISODE 2 (Sakuga Blog)
Kazunori Mizuno is one of the most recent cases of animators dying tragically from untenable expectations and deadly working conditions in the anime industry. While he died some months ago, the revelation that it was partly due to trying complete work on both Boruto and Ballroom is new.
The other point worth noting is that this happened to a production that is by itself rather healthy. Unlike most projects that have barely no lead time, we know for a fact that was in active production many months ago…but that’s obviously not enough, as this tragic event shows. That Mizuno was tasked to work on a solid production doesn’t matter when it was subcontracted to a messy studio and he personally had to keep on worrying about other projects, consistently devouring what should have been his sleep time. In an industry that majorly functions through freelancing, everything will be broken until virtually every studio, company, and project is sanitized. This is the reality of systemic issues, which are inescapable in this medium where every creator is linked. If studios manage to become more self-sustainable then we might get to the point where tackling individual cases is truly effective, but unless we get to that point, no project subcontracting work is safe.
i-D Meets: Tokyo’s Genderless Youth (YouTube)
Interviews with several members of the Genderless fashion movement.
While Japan’s queer community struggles for legal rights, ongoing social ostracization (particularly for queer men) has resulted in a high popularity of anonymous sex—often provided by sex workers who have nowhere else to go. (This one is kind of a harrowing read, y’all.)
And did [the sex workers] all identify as straight?
They all present as straight in the bar. Two of them identified as bisexual in interviews, but many think, This is how I need to understand my situation or else I cannot do it. Some people simply cannot be gay. So everything they say you have to take with a grain of salt.
Tell me about cultural acceptance of prostitution in Japan. It’s a conservative culture, no?
Not necessarily. It’s definitely traditional, but also pragmatic. It’s understood that people would visit sex workers. Traditionally, gay people have been less able to live their lives openly. They’ve had no choice but to get married, have children and live a so-called “traditional” life. So they use bars like these as an outlet for their sexuality.
The first part of a deep analysis on The Eccentric Family and how it approaches…well, just what the title says.
Right from its opening lines, The Eccentric Family establishes Kyoto as a city inhabited by three groups—tanuki, tengu, and humans—with clearly defined traits and domains. Through first-person narration and character dialog, we’re given a general idea of how each group thinks, feels, and acts. The series then proceeds to spend two seasons quietly but systematically tearing those assumptions apart.
As the story progresses, it challenges its characters’ strict ideas about identity by depicting a variety of individuals who either can’t or won’t adhere to the group they belong to, blurring the boundaries both within and between the three spheres so that it becomes less and less clear what it means to be “a tanuki” or “a tengu” or “a human” at all. Through its colorful world and unique individuals, The Eccentric Family asks us what makes us who we say we are—and wonders how we’d find that answer in the first place.
Despite claims that women don’t read comics and/or that diversity isn’t wanted, the current chart toppers are manga and western comics about women.
My Lesbian Experience is indeed a painful book, as Nagata recalls her battles with eating disorders, cutting and social alienation. Accepting her sexuality (Japanese culture isn’t as pro-gay as all that hentai and yaoi might have you believe) and a paid-for sexual encounter begin to help her find her place. It’s both an irresistible memoir and a beacon for others who are struggling with similar issues. And once again, for young comics readers who are dealing with issues of identity and acceptance, its right in the wheelhouse.
We probably won’t see the end of pieces on MLEWL for a while yet, given both its quality and relative rarity as a frank discussion of queerness and mental illness. But, in fairness, it’s a very good book.
I’m in awe of how raw and open and honest this comic is. Kabi is so straightforward about all her struggles, all her thoughts and feelings and all her reasons for the choices she made or didn’t make that it’s like you’re reading her mind. She’s opened up her heart and her brain right here on the page and when the words aren’t enough to tell you what she means, she’s drawn expressive and easy to follow illustrations to tell you everything her words cannot. The illustrations are just as filled with anxiety and nervousness and trepidation and a desire for love. They make the story incredibly easy to follow along with and relate to, even for first time Manga readers who aren’t used to the right-to-left reading style and visual cues. If you’re looking for an entry point into the medium, this is it.
Been There, Learnt That: Bullying Can Hurt So Much (Savvy Tokyo)
Stories from parents of bicultural children living in Japan on the struggles their children face in Japanese schools.
Coincidentally, the final story also involves bullying among soccer club members. Diana reports that it began in fifth grade with her son being ignored, and then escalated in eighth and ninth grade. “In Junior High they were ignoring him, calling him ‘gaijin’, leaving notes on his desk that said ‘you are useless and should die’…. The soccer coach benched him and ignored him, setting the tone for his teammates to do the same.”
Unlike the first two stories, the school was unsupportive when Diana and her husband tried to broach the situation. “It was like talking to a stone. It lasted one year until my husband threatened to go to the police. By that time our son had quit school in year two of high school.”
Books give elementary school pupils wider exposure to LGBT issues (The Japan Times)
The two offerings offer a potential source of education for children at points where the school system fails to address the topic.
Many pages are devoted to the experience of coming out. One woman, for example, talks about being accepted by her mother and friends after revealing that she was lesbian.
For others, it might take longer for people to understand, as in the case of one woman who describes how her mother told her she would be “cured one day” after finding out that she was a lesbian while in high school.
“It is important to have the books readily available at libraries and schools for when someone’s interest is piqued,” said chief editor Yu Iwashita.
Review: ‘Okoge’ (Takurei’s Room)
Despite being almost 25 years old, the film still speaks accurately to the experience of living in Japan as a queer individual.
The movie does an excellent job depicting the struggles, discrimination, and pressures faced by gay people in Japan. Topics touched upon include housing discrimination, the difficulty of coming out to/ being accepted by one’s family, and the societal pressure that forces gay men to get married to women while keeping their gay life a secret. Another significant issue is the need for Goh and Tochi to keep a low profile when they are on dates, just in case they were to run into someone they know.
Those of you living in Japan or in a same-sex relationship in Japan might be familiar with these problems, because for the most part, all of these issues are just as significant today as they were 24 years ago. Despite the age of the film, many of the issues that the gay characters go through in the film were unsurprisingly quite similar to the kinds of things that Taku and I had to be conscious of while living in Japan.
The request was denied under claims that the video has had a popular, positive response.
Seven female members of the Miyagi prefectural assembly on Friday asked the governor of the northeastern Japan prefecture to remove a tourism promotion video it is using on the internet, claiming it portrays women as sex objects.
The video, featuring a well-known model and actress in a kimono, showcases specialties and tourist spots in the prefecture but also contains some sexually suggestive scenes, including one in which the camera zooms in on her parting lips.
We had some great reader responses to the Monster Girls piece this week. It’s great to hear when people find content valuable to their lives.
Monster Girls as an anime trend are fascinating. It seems like a fetishized niche of 'exotic cuties' but quickly becomes disability politics https://t.co/EvMLKKBen8
— Mr Sneebs, Occult PI (@UncleAsriel) July 21, 2017
Great write up. This is one of the reasons why I really liked this show. This show felt relatable as a parent of child with autism.
— Sparkler Grrl (@ThankfulGrrl) July 23, 2017
At this stage, we have raised enough money to be able to pay for contributed posts, behind the scenes admin, and audio editing for weekly podcasts. Our next goal is to pay the editors who have worked on AniFem as volunteers since before launch, making enormous contributions for no pay. Help us pay them for their work at a rate of $15 an hour by becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month!