This week: a rec list of josei manga, an interview with an adult otome game localizer, and an anti-hate speech ordinance in Kawasaki.
Dee gives a post-mortem on the female characters of the franchise and how KH3 ultimately failed to deliver on the promise of giving them active roles in the narrative.
Marion Bea digs into the gender politics of the shoujo classic, where it’s okay to be a wealthy, powerful women but not if you actively wanted those things.
Chiaki, Miranda, and Vrai reach the end of the first half, discuss the language of ballet, and learn that Fakir was a Good Boy after all.
Now that the influential series is on Netflix (such as it is), let’s talk about it.
Our new recommendation home page, with an explanation of how titles are chosen.
Titles that deal broadly with gender or racial issues, or just have solid female-focused narratives.
Titles that either focus on queer romance or have a LGBTQ+ lead.
Titles that can be enjoyed with viewers ages twelve and under.
A Love Letter to Josei Manga Part Two (Black Nerd Problems, Carrie McClain)
A solid suggestion list for anyone looking to get into josei.
Reading, writing about, podcasting about, and sharing manga with others is a favorite pastime for me. As I noted in the first part of A Love Letter to Josei Manga: that after a while, I found myself wearing my grown woman panties and reading more of a specific genre. While Shojo manga has always and will always have a special corner in my heart for being my first genre of manga I ever read, Josei is the genre that has carried me through some heartbreak and real-life workplace drama in my adult years.
For those that need a refresher: What exactly is Josei? Pronounced “JOH-say”, it is what I like to call Shojo manga’s big sister. OR final form. Familiar with the manga genre known as Shonen? As in “Shonen Jump”? Shonen is to Seinen as Shojo is to Josei. Where Shojo’s targeted audience is somewhere between 12-18 years of age, Josei’s targeted audience targets the age group directly after that: adult women.
I like to think that there are three major differences that set Josei apart from Shojo:
1.) More mature most def more complex stories that touch on themes such as higher education, careers, and family life. The joys and pitfalls of marriage and children are popular subjects that often weave themselves into many different Josei manga.
Feminist scholar calls Japan’s gender problem “human disaster” (Kyodo News, Yuka Nakao)
Chizuko Ueno is a lauded feminist critic outspoken about the issue of gender equality in Japan. She gave a keynote speech for students entering the University of Tokyo in April.
The scholar said discrimination against women in Japan is the consequence of political mistakes in the past decades, and thus “a human disaster.”
As globalization changed the world, all societies looked to bring women into the labor market, requiring the domestic burden they traditionally carried to be transferred.
While Northern Europe and North America relied on care service in the public sector or cheap labor in the market, countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece, South Korea and Japan looked to a strong male breadwinner model.
The model, in which men earn a living and women tended to domestic and care duties, “privatized” unpaid work in which grandmothers were called upon to care for younger family members, Ueno said.
“But now, none of these options work in Japan,” she said, adding that “what has happened is that gender has become something functionally equivalent to race or class in other societies.”
How to Save the Anime Industry from Itself (Medium, Patrick Macias)
Part two of an interview with animation director Terumi Nishii.
Do you have anything else you’d like to say to foreign anime fans?
Every time I go overseas to an anime event, there are always fans that come to me and say, “I want to be an animator too. How can I become part of the industry?” At these events, I’m usually pretty polite and soft on these issues. But I think that if these young people really want to enter the anime industry, they can try, but they really need to understand the conditions: there’s no union for workers and there’s not a lot of protection.
I feel bad that I may have said things that would discourage aspiring animators from overseas. I didn’t really intend to do that. I just wanted artists who want to enter this industry to understand that the conditions are pretty severe right now. They should understand that before they try to enter this world.
I actually want foreigners to enter this industry to help to change it for the better. So I really do welcome them to enter this industry.
Kawasaki eyes criminal action for those who stir hate speech (The Asahi Shimbun, Shigehiro Saito)
The city has a large Korean population and has had an issue with hate rallies over the past decade, making them particularly aware of the need for this effort.
The proposed ordinance stipulates three stages to deal with hate speech offenders: First, the city mayor issues a warning against hate speech offenders to desist; second-time offenders will be ordered by the mayor to stop; and finally, the city government will file a criminal complaint against three-time offenders with police or prosecutors on behalf of victims, and also publicize their names and groups they represent.
It will be up to a court or other judicial authorities to decide whether a fine should also be applied.
The mayor is expected to consult with an expert panel over incidents deemed to be in violation of the ordinance before issuing a warning or order to stop.
The panel is empowered to allow offenders to defend their actions in writing.
“We need to give consideration to freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Constitution,” said a high-ranking city official. “City authorities should not be allowed to arbitrarily determine what constitutes hate speech.”
Hate speech demonstrations emerged as a serious social issue around 2013 in communities with large populations of ethnic Koreans and minorities, such as Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district and the Tsuruhashi district in Osaka.
In Kawasaki, hate speech rallies were staged in parks managed by the city government.
A law to crack down on hate speech was enacted in 2016, but it amounted simply to establishing basic principles for dealing with the problem and had no provisions for punishing violations.
Molly Lee – Porny Otome Game Translator – Interviews With Localizers (J-EN Translations, Jennifer O’Donnell)
Lee works with MangaGamer and spearheaded the first localization of an adult otome game.
Is there something you worked hard on that you think no one noticed?
Pretty much everything I sign my name to, really! I haven’t worked on anything that could be considered popular or mainstream, even within my own niche.
If I had to choose one project to signal boost, however, it’s Neighbor, developed and published by OTUSUN LAND. We’re a really tiny indie outfit championed by Ayane, a Japanese scenario writer who really, really wants to see all her otome games in English.
Neighbor isn’t an otome game, however—it’s a kinetic visual novel of the horror genre and a remake of one of Ayane’s first-ever titles. (Although, with its adult female protagonist and romance elements, one could make the case that it’s aimed more at a female audience.)
How to Grow Up Beautiful, Without Representation (Greatist, Julia Shiota)
The author discusses her outsider experience as a mixed-race child both in the US and Japan.
In the modeling and entertainment industry in particular, half-Japanese women are assimilable due to their “exotic” appearances, which means they have familiar features on their faces but their proximity to whiteness, a “safe” and culturally acceptable type of foreignness, adds to their allure.
As someone who is white and Japanese, I fit that colorist “mold”— but only after I reached a certain age. As a child in Japan, I was told I was an alien and that I should go back to where I came from. However, when I was in my teens and early twenties, I was stopped in stores there by female clerks who excitedly asked if I was a model.
I’ve had many conversations with other half-Japanese individuals who share similar experiences to me: ridicule, bullying, and teasing when we are kids, then when we begin to mature and look similar to models on the page — similar in the sense that we, too, look “exotic” or “foreign” — we are accepted.
We’re still as different as we were as children, but the difference has suddenly become desirable.
However, these experiences don’t discredit the privilege that being half-Japanese and half-white gets in Japan, nor is it anywhere near the type of racism and colorism that people with darker skin experience within Japanese culture.
Ibaraki to adopt ‘partnership declarations’ for LGBT couples (The Asahi Shimbun)
This is the first instance of a prefectural rather than municipal government instituting such a system.
If couples in which one or both partners are sexual minorities submit a “written oath” to the prefectural government, it will issue a “certificate of receipt” that they are recognized as equal to family members.
The certificate would enable LGBT couples to be treated as equal to opposite-sex couples in a number of situations.
For example, sexual minority couples with the document could get benefits when applying to move into public housing.
It would also give them the right to sign surgical consent forms for their partner at prefecture-run medical institutions as well as the right to visit their partner if one is hospitalized.
Video: A comedic critique of justifications given for whitewashed art.
Thread: A Japanese-language list of Dengeki Bunko’s yuri light novels.
Thread: “Biracial child” became a trending topic on Japanese Twitter due to a kimono ad.
Looks like everyone’s experiences run the gamut, from “kind of hated it” to “it was life changing.” Nice work, wherever you stand.