[Links] 20-26 February 2019: Double Standards for Marginalized Creators, Working Conditions in the Anime Industry, and Criticism of My Hero Academia Drama CD

By: Anime Feminist February 26, 20190 Comments
Mob Psycho 100: a grown man in a suit kneeling to talk to a black-haired grade-schooler wearing a backpack against a stark white background

This week: double standards for marginalized creators, an update on working conditions in the anime industry, and criticism of a recent My Hero Academia drama CD.

AniFem Round-Up

[Creator Spotlight] Every Page With Love and Care: Kaoru Mori, historical fiction mangaka

Sinclair August details Mori’s career and her fondness for maids, women’s stories, and lavishly detailed costumes

[Feature] The Fractured and Famous: Celebrity Culture and Control in Perfect Blue

Priya Sridhar links Satoshi Kon’s first feature with the real-world industry it continues to reflect, in Japan and around the world.

[AniFemTalk] What can modern isekai learn from the 90s?

The industry has largely shifted away from 90s isekai about young women coming of age. What could the modern isekai learn from those classics?


Beyond AniFem

What It’s Like To Write About Race And Video Games (Kotaku, Gita Jackson)

Jackson writes on the intense backlash her articles receive even when simply touching upon the subject of race and representation, and that criticism of art does not equate to hating it.

Sometimes in fandoms, “passionate” can be a euphemism for “needs some fucking chill.” Our all-encompassing love of something can make us resistant to having conversation about how it could be better, or how other people might experience it differently than we do. It can be easy to see any critique or complication about something we like as offense. If you read media criticism as saying nothing is ever good enough, then it can be easy to accuse every critic of being perpetually offended. In actuality, many things are good. It’s just that nothing is perfect. Engaging with media we like, in all its mess and complication, is what makes it better. It can even make your connection to a piece of media stronger.

Sometimes I fear that when I write about race some of the angrier commenters think I am some grand arbiter of what can or can’t be in a game. In truth, I’m only a person who has opinions, just like you have opinions. They might be opinions you’ve never considered before, and I know it can be hard to be shown an aspect of something that you never had to see before. Hell, I’ve long said that I don’t play or like competitive games, but here I am logging onto Apex as much as I can because I love it so much. Listening to each other and thinking critically about the things we like only makes our fandoms stronger.

Yakuza 3 Remastered Has Removed A Transphobic Sidequest (The Gamer, Izzy Doherty)

Said sidequest involved a pile of stereotypes from dehumanizing language and the character in question potentially sexually assaulting the protagonist.

According to series producer Toshihiro Nagoshi, all of the game content involving Michiru has been removed because the social atmosphere of Japan, and the world as a whole, has changed a lot since 2009 when Yakuza 3 was first released. In an interview partially translated by Twisted Voxel, “some things that were considered OK at the time are not as good as the current moral values,” and the Michiru questlines are a part of the game that has not aged well.

Sega’s controversy involving the leaked ending of Catherine: Full Body, which many said contained transphobic elements, could also be a factor in this decision.

‘My Hero Academia’ Short Draws Ire Over Sexual Harassment Claims (Comicbook, Megan Peters)

A recent drama CD for the series includes a sketch that involves Bakugo and Torodoki being frozen by a villain, stripped and ogled.

The drama CD is set after the “Provisional License Exam” arc and follows characters like Izuku and Bakugo as they encounter a stranger. The newcomer is hostile to the students, and he uses his body-controlling quirk to freeze the latter along with Shoto Todoroki.

Stopping the pair, the villain cuts open Bakugo’s shirt with a box cutter and does the same to Todoroki. The various summaries say the baddie ogles the minors and comments on their toned bodies, a fact that makes Bakugo label the villain a pervert. This upsets the bad guy who says he will have to take his plan further than expected. He reveals his desire to make Bakugo and Todoroki strip and do lewd poses with one another in public, but Izuku is able to interrupt the devious plot before it goes too far.

Shōjo Across Media (Springer Link)

A recently released book of academic essays focusing on the history of shoujo and its influence.

Since the 2000s, the Japanese word shōjo has gained global currency, accompanying the transcultural spread of other popular Japanese media such as manga and anime. The term refers to both a character type specifically, as well as commercial genres marketed to female audiences more generally. Through its diverse chapters this edited collection introduces the two main currents of shōjo research: on the one hand, historical investigations of Japan’s modern girl culture and its representations, informed by Japanese-studies and gender-studies concerns; on the other hand, explorations of the transcultural performativity of shōjo as a crafted concept and affect-prone code, shaped by media studies, genre theory, and fan-culture research.

While acknowledging that shōjo has mediated multiple discourses throughout the twentieth century—discourses on Japan and its modernity, consumption and consumerism, non-hegemonic gender, and also technology—this volume shifts the focus to shōjo mediations, stretching from media by and for actual girls, to shōjo as media. As a result, the Japan-derived concept, while still situated, begins to offer possibilities for broader conceptualizations of girlness within the contemporary global digital mediascape.

As Reconstruction Progresses, 3.11 Survivors Find Hope in Telling Their Stories, Embracing the Past (Savvy Tokyo, Alexandra Homma)

Survivors of the 2011 tsunami speak out about their memories during the still-unfinished reconstruction process. Includes links to support relief and reconstruction.

“I couldn’t do any volunteering work after the tsunami,” says Aya Yokozawa, a guide and a Rikuzentakata-native, known as a kataribe — locals who are now openly retelling and sharing the stories of the tsunami.

“I just couldn’t bear the thought that I may find the body of a person I knew, a classmate or an old friend. For years, I didn’t want to face the reality and I didn’t do anything to help — which bothered me immensely. I was just emotionally paralyzed.”

Working in Tokyo at the time of the disaster, Yokozawa learned about the tsunami from the news. The endless waves of water engulfing areas where she used to play as a child looked just too unreal through the screen. Rikuzentakata, a small town famous for its beautiful white sandy beach before the disaster, was completely wiped out in just a few hours, leaving 1,604 dead and 202 still missing to date. It was the worst affected city in Iwate Prefecture.

Inside One Man’s Trip to the Idaho Camp Where His Great-Grandparents Were Held During World War II (TIME, Gina Martinez)

The short documentary is included in the article along with production information.

Lachman tells TIME that the main reason he wanted to participate in the documentary was so that he could feel a connection to his ancestors. After watching his great uncle Samuel Shoji’s testimony at the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, he said, he felt compelled to learn more about what his family members lived through. But his mission gained a timely aspect, too, as it progressed: Lachman’s journey took place amid debate over whether then-President-elect Trump’s plans to create a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries was ethical, a debate that drew comparisons to Roosevelt’s 1942 move. In December 2015, then-Republican candidate Trump told TIME that he did not know whether he would have supported or opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

What should Japan’s next step on same-sex marriage be? (The Mainichi)

A panel of statements from a gay activist, a lawyer, and a former policy chief for the LDP.

I think that in Japanese society, sexual minorities such as homosexual people are not recognized as equal and seen as living in the shadows. As the lawsuits seeking equal marriage rights proceed, we are considering launching a nationwide campaign of same-sex couples submitting marriage registrations to their local governments. Those registrations would be turned down, but we would like to make our number and needs known through the demonstration. But many people are reluctant to join because they fear their names and faces will be revealed to their local communities and relatives. That means they fear being known as gay a very great deal.

I am a gay person. I never thought that being gay is wrong, but when I was young I had to keep lying to people around me and it was tough. I thought, “I cannot live in Japan,” and tried to go overseas. Please don’t let us think that we cannot be happy unless we go to foreign countries.

Working Conditions In The Anime Industry (Kotaku, Brian Ashcraft)

A self-reported survey that shows incremental improvements over 2016.

Around 1,500 people were sent questionnaires, and the association received replies from 382 individuals. Out of those 57.6 percent were men and 41.4 percent were women. The average age was 39 years old, with the average for men being 42 years old and the average for women being 35 years old.

Out of those who replied, 97.6 percent were Japanese citizens and 1.6 percent were citizens of other countries and 0.8 percent did not disclose their citizenship. Out of those polled, the average years of experience was 16.3 years.

As NHK reports, the questionnaire polled them about their salaries, working hours, days off and more. Have a look at some of the results below. Some of the answers are compared with previous surveys.

Proudly Black, Fat, Queer and Making a Home for Myself in Cosplay (Autostraddle, Briana Lawrence)

Lawrence has been cosplaying since 2002 and shares her experiences, good and bad, in the community.

I didn’t want to comment on it at first, because I didn’t want folks to think I was ungrateful for their support. These were people who had been there for me from the beginning of my fandom journey. They cheered for me as I dealt with a whole host of commenters who felt more like those random monster encounters in RPGs. We had history together. There was this fear that lingered in the back of my mind that people would think I didn’t appreciate them. But I realized that some were forgetting the and in my character bio. I’m black and queer and fat and a woman. There were those who were separating each of those labels.

Sure, some people were all smiles and you’re such an inspiration when I told off some jerk online who criticized my weight, but those same folks were suddenly uneasy when I brought up race. Even positive, uplifting hashtags like #28DaysOfBlackCosplay were met with, “Um, excuse me, I’m curious about what you’d think if I started 28 Days of WHITE Cosplay.”

I’m exaggerating. It was definitely less civil than that.

Thread: On the tendency for marginalized creators to be held to much higher standards than white straight cis male ones


Beyond AniFem

Some really good meta from you this week, readers.

I actually recently discussed this very thing on twitter, so I'll paraphrase it here! The Twelve Kingdoms (novels and anime) is my favorite isekai and basically one of my favorite narratives of all time. It really challenges and defies the "might-makes-right" power fantasy most modern isekai seems to love. The female lead, Youko, is a pitiful, formerly powerless girl who is tossed into an alternate world where she's given incredible power, but her journey is about realizing she was a scared and empty person who was constructed her entire identity around pleasing other people, and vowing to change that. Freed from having to conform to the expectations of her sexist father, she grows more confident, but also grows bitter and distrustful after being betrayed and attacked. But rather than getting a hot slave, she fights her literal inner demon and declares that she's not going to use her bad experiences as an excuse to lash out at others. Even when she gains a position of power, it's complicated by those who want to use her as a political pawn, so she abandons her power for a time to go join a grassroots rebellion to topple a power-hungry despot. She learns how to take responsibility, combat power imbalances, and matures. She faces her own weaknesses, and the narrative actively defies the idea she 'deserves' power, she has to prove she can handle it responsibly. I think modern isekai could learn a LOT from how the Twelve Kingdoms handles nuance, makes its characters struggle, really engages in the politics of its world, focuses on the oppressed and gives them agency.

For one thing, they can learn not to be so generic. People will make fun of some of the 90s ones for all being the same premise, but I think even some of those arguments are petty and trivial. I remember an anime magazine reviewer lambasted Yona for being too much like Fushigi Yuugi. (Which to me, came off of misogynist and racist given the claims and feeling, but that's a whole other argument.) Fushigi Yuugi is a manga first, and Haruka is a game first, and while both are quite similar as far as "is an isekai with historical, Asian setting (Chinese, Japanese, etc), they're wildly different no matter which version it is. Same for Magic Knight Rayearth, Escaflowne or even something like El-Hazard. I really miss the fact that there were so many female-led isekai, but it bugs me even more now that the male-led ones are becoming so vapid, when they're not being generic. The fact that a reviewer had to point that Shield Hero basically makes its universe work like a MMO, even though it is a fantasy world, really says a lot about the level of imagination, effort and low-level world-building going into most of these LNs and their adaptions. That gets more wild when you look at what starts as a maybe decent LN and each adaption gets worse in its attempt to pander to the right-wing, anti-SJW kind of otaku. Happened with Goblin Slayer, and I feel the weird, inconsistent changes to Shield Hero are probably a reflection of the same. (And again, at the expense of any form of effort, or even charm and personality.) In the 90s isekai, I tended to enjoy the romance and harem elements. They weren't always handled well, but I was engaged by them. Even when it was creating a shipping war or making me mad. And while I may not ever grow to like Miaka, I still found Fushigi Yuugi entertaining for a long time. I do think that as the times become more progressive, it probably is getting easier for creators to include queer and other elements, but I do also recall there being more brown characters in 90s and early 00s content, and nowadays. . . well, I think the shift in modern moe has a lot to do with the lack of brown (esp. female) characters, or the even more narrow tropes and visuals they're allowed.

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