[Links] 20-25 September 2017

By: Anime Feminist September 26, 20171 Comment
A young blonde woman outlined in a green glow cups the face of the girl carrying her, wearing a gentle expression

Historic feminist movements, LGBTQ resources, and Neo Yokio.

AniFem Round-Up

[Feature] Agency & Allies: Kaze Hikaru and the fight to be a woman with a “man’s job”

Lauren V. dives into this historical manga about a woman working to excel in a traditionally masculine role.

[Discourse] Who’s the Hero, Anyway? Made in Abyss, gendered tropes, and damaging narratives

Discussing how certain elements of Made in Abyss unintentionally reinforce the sexualization of young characters and falter in giving the female lead agency.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 24: Neo Yokio Retrospective

We wanted to get in on the conversation about Netflix’s latest American-made anime. We…didn’t care for it.

[AniFemTalk] Anime-inspired cartoons

Anime tropes increasingly influence western cartoonists, and those mostly American productions even selectively contract Japanese animators. Who’s doing it well, poorly, and otherwise?


Beyond AniFem

Japan’s women’s colleges grapple with shifting views on gender (The Japan Times)

Women’s universities are pushing toward policy changes that would admit trans women alongside cis students, though progress will likely be slow.

Women’s universities in Japan were established to provide equal education opportunities for women who were marginalized because of their gender. Today, many of these institutions place their focus on nurturing female leaders and empowering women who are still a minority in many areas of society, including politics and business.

The experience of learning in an all-women environment may also be of value to transgender women, university officials said, because if they are to live their lives as female they will face the same issues women face in a male-dominated world.

“For a long time, we’ve been taught there are men or women and nothing else. But the gender binary is no longer a true reflection of the reality,” Takahashi said.

“This is something not only for women’s universities. We need to learn how to understand gender in a way that reflects the reality. … I believe we are in the midst of establishing a consensus.”

The Banned 1910s Magazine That Started a Feminist Movement in Japan (Atlus Obscura)

A fascinating article on the history of women who did not initially consider their pursuit feminist, but rocked social circles by highlighting women’s voices and experiences.

More scandalous was a visit arranged by Otake’s uncle to the Yoshiwara quarter of the city, a red-light district that only men were supposed to frequent. A small group of women, including Otake and Raichō, spent the night in a high-end brothel, in the company of a courtesan named Eizan. The Seitō editors had little sense of the lives of women of lower classes, and the visit was meant to open their eyes to the problems faced by women of different circumstances. That is not how it was received when Otake told a reporter about it.

“Some key members of the ’Seitō Society’ have absurdly and outrageously been to the Yoshiwara,” one paper wrote. “They have gone so much on the loose that even men would have been put to shame.”

“They also write about iconoclastic and unconventional things,” the article noted, almost as an aside.

The newspaper reporters weren’t the only ones who thought Otake and Raichō had gone too far, though. The Yoshiwara trip in particular caused divisions among Seitō’s members. The magazine’s subscriber base had been growing, but after this incident, teachers, worried for their jobs, canceled their subscriptions so they couldn’t be associated with this group of wayward women. Mozume’s father forced her to resign (though she kept writing under a pen name). Yasumochi, who had been so important in the founding of the magazine, wrote to Raichō that, “In the earlier stage Seitō was indeed a heartfelt, trustworthy and distinguished magazine, but it has lost these good qualities …. Because of your thoughtless conduct, all these women have gained a bad reputation for doing away with past conventions and attempting things women have never done before.”

Neo Yokio’s Camp Is Hard to Enjoy Through the Transphobia (The Mary Sue)

A discussion of Neo Yokio’s failed social commentary, particularly in regards to its discussion on women, class, and trans identity.

By introducing a shenanigansy plot wherein Kaz’s cis male friend is transformed into a woman, the show opens the door to twenty minutes of walking into horrible stereotypes about trans women, including having the female-bodied, loudly male-identifying Lexy use his physical appearance to hit on a lesbian; or having Kaz tell Lexy not to talk because his voice “gives him away.” The latter plays on fears of trans women being subject to mockery or even violence if they can’t pass, and the former plays right into TERF ideology that trans women are “really” just men trying to get with lesbians.

DK: Don’t forget that it uses that male character, Lexy, as the speaker for nearly all of its “feminist” talking points–neatly keeping the voice located within the mouth of a Dude. In a better show, this would mean something, like that Kaz only listens to other men, but in this? He dismisses Lexy just as much as Helena, to no apparent ill effects for their friendship once the magic spell is reversed. (Ah, the good old reset button. Because the writers enjoy both gag-an-episode structures and ongoing arcs, and haven’t figured out where those things might be incompatible.)

VK: And then the episode has the gall to pretend it’s about Kaz being sexist to women and patronizingly tells the viewer that gender is a spectrum, not a binary. Fuck you, Neo Yokio.

….Actually that’s something of a distillation of the show’s problem. It knows how to parrot concepts but absolutely fails to grasp the contexts at play behind them. I mean, that classism.

Fushigi Yugi: Being Kind to Teens and Their Stories (Heroine Problem)

An argument for treating media created by and for women more kindly, especially when male-created and -targeted series are afforded a gentler approach.

There are tons of shows from the 90s aimed at boys that are at least as ridiculous as Fushigi Yugi that are viewed with nostalgia and fondness, not scorn. Shows like Outlaw StarG Gundam, and Dragonball Z are at least as ridiculous, but most fan discussion surrounding them are warm and affectionate. Doesn’t media aimed at young women deserve the same, or is Sailor Moon the only one that deserves such amnesty? There’s a rawness to Fushigi Yugi – everything is so much larger than life, every emotion so extreme. It’s messy and overwrought, but that’s how being a teenager often feels. Fushigi Yugi deserves to be celebrated for capturing that feeling.

So much of the world is devoted to tearing down teenage girls at every opportunity, and as an adult, an educator, and a feminist, I must strive to be better and act as a supporter for girls of all ages. That means supporting their stories. Fushigi Yugi was written by a 22-year-old woman, aimed at girls not much younger. It deserves more respect than I’ve been giving it.

8 Japan LGBT/Q resources in English | GimmeAQueerEye (YouTube)

As it says—the channel as a whole is recently launched but plans to provide English-language news on LGBTQ Japan as well.

Cosplay As a Nazi – Get Banned (Pop Culture Uncovered)

While the world is on fire, there is at least this. It’s definitely time to put certain Hellsing and Hetalia cosplays away.

The updated policy goes on to mention that this includes any satirical or ironic cosplays which appropriate Nazi paraphernalia or gear, and that anyone seen found wearing these cosplays or accessories would not only be ejected from the con, but would also be banned from Rose City Comic Con for life.

While one would think that this would be a decision that basically amounted to “duh, this is a good idea”, the impetus for this action by the convention management seems to be the appearance of a duo of cosplayers who’ve appeared at various conventions around the country dressed in Hello Kitty-themed Nazi SS uniforms (no, really). The appearance of these cosplayers was reported on in Women Write about Comics, and it was noted that they had also been asked to leave by the folks over at Emerald City Comic Con, after showing up there as well. One would think that they would learn from their first ejection, but apparently not.

Re: CREATORS Anime, Guest Review by Benjanun S. (Okazu)

In addition to discussing meta elements of how stories are told, the finale turned toward a wlw relationship. FINALE SPOILERS.

There’s some ambiguous relation between Alicetaria and Mamika, one scene of Meteora and Selesia engaging in a Pocky game. Then there’s an entire episode of Altair saving Setsuna from a second death (in slow-motion) where they hold onto each other and take up nearly all of the run-time hugging each other. It’s not as explicit as I’d like (please can’t they kiss?) but their episode is titled “I love you, too” which is as close as we can get to Yuri outside of specifically Yuri titles. Some clear homages to Puella Magi Magica Madoka, but happier and without the unfortunate implications of lesbians being emotionally unstable.


An interview with one of anime’s few prominent female directors on how she got started.

– There are many excellent directors, but not many are able to release a work in their twenties. With your work did you feel that there was anything specific to your generation, something that only you could have made at that present moment?

There might have been some haphazardness to it all. It may be that you can enjoy yourself more if you have less experience. Not calculating or planning too much.

There’s Chuunibyou isn’t there, where all you think about is the end of the world and yourself. During my twenties I wanted to get to the bottom of the Chuunibyou inside me (laughs). Sorry. Rather than my generation, I’m talking more about myself aren’t I?

The Tenacity of Traditions in Kino’s Journey (Crunchyroll)

A great show with introspective themes of stories, cultures, and cycles of behavior.

The final tradition is one that may be unique to Kino themself. Kino never stays in any one place longer than three days and two nights. Kino claims that everything important can be learned about a place in three days. To someone who wants to see as much of the world as possible, setting a pragmatic limitation like that makes sense, but the real reason is more cautionary than calculated. Any longer and Kino risks forming attachments, getting caught in the rhythm of the daily lives of town’s inhabitants. Among the sometimes dangerous cultures Kino encounters, the security this practice offers is obvious, but it also protects Kino from something else: the urge to settle down, trading the uncertainty of the road for a smaller world is a danger all its own. To stop and put down roots is the death of a traveler.

Japanese Idol Culture is Engrossing, But It Can Also Be Dangerous (Anime Now)

On the impossible purity standards of the idol industry.

Forbidding idols from having romances creates the perfect image of a woman for the fans, especially the male ones. Like Murasaki Shikibu in the Tale of Genji, there’s an idea that you are “raising” the idol you’re a fan of as time goes by. For example, a fan might buy a large amount of the same AKB48 CD so they can get serial numbers to enter in on the AKB48 General Election website to vote for their favorite girl. The more CDs purchased, the more chances to vote. This is why when Ririka Sato, a member of the AKB48 sister group NMB48, announced her engagement to a fan despite being only 20 years old, there was a huge fan backlash. Fans claimed that she had tricked them, and said that because they had “poured money” into her, so it was wrong of her to do so. They felt a sense of ownership over the young girl because they bought CDs that raised her up to be a star, ranking high in the election. Sato left the group soon after.

BONUS: Free Legal Consultation for LGBT Community (Fukuoka Now)

A phone line for any LGBTQ folks living in Japan and looking for legal advice.


AniFem Community

Some great discussion came in on this week’s topic, including some debate on when one should apply the label of anime-inspired versus anime. For what it’s worth, my decision (Vrai here!) to term Neo Yokio as “anime-inspired” was down to the American vocal cast, writers, and creator, as well as the fact that (to my knowledge) only some of the animation was completed by Japanese studios. The majority of the creative team was non-Japanese; hence, anime-inspired. But there has been excellent argument for the idea of including creative joint projects under the anime umbrella. As globalization opens more transnational collaboration, the lines of the definition are certainly becoming less clear.



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