This week: the main romance of Banana Fish, suggestions on how to oppose fascism, and the stigma against single mothers in Japan. And a kitten, because this has been a rough week.
Nikki Flynn discusses this eroge’s embrace of consent, communication, and multiple types of first sexual experience: queer and straight, gentle and rough, experienced or mutually inexperienced.
Rianne Torres recounts revisiting a series that was once her favorite, reconciling it through a feminist lens, and how neither the “feminist checklist” nor completely uncritical consumption are helpful approaches.
The watchalong reaches the series finale and looks back on the experience of Ouran as a whole.
Between the ANN forums and a white supremacist rally planned to take place near Otakon, this is a fight right in our backyard. What can we do to fight back?
Potential White Supremacist Rally Aligns with Otakon Weekend in DC (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge)
The rally will take place approximately a mile from Otakon.
Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler submitted the application on May 8 and expects approximately 400 White nationalists to descend on Lafayette Square Park to host a “white civil rights” rally. The application’s initial approval means that the date and location aren’t currently booked by another party. NPS is required to be “content neutral” when approving applications, according to NPS spokesperson Mike Litterst.
Otakon organizers are aware of the rally coinciding with the convention. Staff wrote on Otakon’s Twitter account:
To all of our fans and Members: We would like you to know that Otakon is aware of the proposed rally which would take place 2.1 miles from our event, and the concerns raised by our members. We are carefully monitoring the situation as it develops.
More than Friends, More than Lovers: Exploring Ash and Eiji’s Love (Otaku She Wrote, Marion Bea)
An in-depth breakdown of the central romance of Banana Fish and its influences.
It can’t be denied that the stories in both films couldn’t be more different than Banana Fish: My Own Private Idaho is… it sure is a movie, and it features an unrequited love. Maurice focuses on the sexuality and the passionate romance of its protagonist with two very different men. However, regardless of the path they ended up following, both films depict relationships that are based on strong friendships.
Hugh Grant’s character loves Maurice romantically, but he does not desire a sexual relationship. Like I’ve mentioned before, in Banana Fish, Ash and Eiji’s love is not presented as sexual. With My Own Private Idaho, Ash loosely shares some similitudes with Phoenix’s character–a broken man who’s sexually exploited and longs greatly for his best friend.
But perhaps most notable is the apparent impact and influence of films like Midnight Cowboy (1969) on Yoshida. I’m about to spoil the hell out of Banana Fish and all the mentioned movies, by the way.
On writing about cartoons in Hell World (Otaku Journalist, Lauren Orsini)
One personal record of reconciling writing about pop culture with the fact that the United States is increasingly turning to fascism.
There is no roadmap for where we go from here, but I know the answer isn’t black and white. The solution won’t be a total retreat into subculture writing nor full-time rage. I think it’ll be a little different for everybody reading this—what we can each contribute, the ways we can support each other in a world that has gone off the rails.
Additionally, I think fandom will be a part of what saves us. What’s incredible about conventions like Otakon is that even when there are 30,000 people in one spot with all the differences that come with that, there’s still at least one shared interest we all have in common. Its very existence refutes what the Nazis next door would have us believe—that some people are so different, they’re not even the same species. We know that’s flat-out wrong.
I’ll be sticking to fandom moving forward, but don’t think for a second that I’m not angry, that I’m not fighting. But like Mancuso concludes, there is a point to all this: “Pop culture doesn’t exist to save lives, but it can be a reminder that every single life is as valuable as your own. Just think to the last time a piece of art truly moved you, and realize there’s a good chance it moved someone half a world away.” I want to believe that still, so I’ll keep writing.
School uniforms go unisex as Japanese schools seek better fit for LGBT students (The Japan Times, Megumi Iizuka)
While a few schools offer students the opportunity to choose between skirts and slacks, others are moving toward a more uniformly masculine-leaning unisex outfit for the benefit of student who don’t wish to out themselves.
Anri Ishizaki, who heads FRENS, a nonprofit organization supporting LGBT people, said trying to fit all students in gender-specific uniforms can be a burden to sexual minorities who are afraid to come out.
“Some students are embarrassed and cannot concentrate on their studies because of uniforms. In some cases, they stop going to school,” said Ishizaki.
“Although uniforms are not the only factors tormenting them, it is a significant element as they are required to wear them all the time,” added Ishizaki, noting that offering students more options is likely to provide “a sense of ease.”
In 2014, there were 606 cases of consultations related to gender dysphoria, according to a survey by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry covering elementary, junior high and high schools across Japan.
Solidarity in Suffering – Magical Girl Site (YouTube, PedanticRomantic)
On the series’ cruelty and how it particularly applies to the brutality of living as a young trans person, and how watching characters survive that can provide comfort.
Individuals worry about their names and pronouns being respected, as well as issues like pension payouts differing depending on one’s gender.
Takamasa Nakayama, who works in Tokyo, said people were always suspicious that he was using someone else’s insurance card before he had gender reassignment surgery and changed his family registry. Nakayama also welcomes the added social security support.
“There are cases where health conditions worsen because people want to avoid the hassle of going to a hospital. This will be helpful for such people,” Nakayama, 45, said.
But despite the changes for the better, there are still reasons for concern in addressing the social security net for transgender people as they grow older.
For example, currently the earnings-related component for employees’ pensions are paid out later for men than for women, putting those born women at birth at a disadvantage if they have gender reassignment surgery before they reach retirement.
Receipt of survivor’s employees’ pension also differs between the sexes.
Hisone and Masotan: A Story About Love and Work-Life Balance (Fantastic Memes, Frog-kun)
On reconciling the series’ very late-game romantic subplots with an attempt to portray women’s struggles to balance their careers and love lives.
The important thing to note about the Dragon Pilots (or D-Pilots) is the mysterious requirements that are foisted upon them. For some reason, the dragons only allow women to pilot them, but that’s not all – the only obsession these women are allowed to have is with their jobs. Once they develop worldly desires (for example, love for a romantic partner or a child), then their dragon rejects them.
Vice-Minister Iiboshi literally refers to the ideal D-Pilot as the “White Lover”, presumably because only their love for their work can be considered “pure”.
The love that the Hisone and Masotan characters show for their dragons is portrayed as genuine and heartwarming, but it shouldn’t be the only kind of love they experience in their lives. Nobody should be a slave to their jobs. Hisone and El are shown agonising about their romantic feelings for men because they have been put in a position to choose love or their jobs. It’s especially frustrating for them because it ought to be a false dichotomy; nobody should have to choose between the two.
Japan’s cosplay culture proving a hit in typically conservative India (The Japan Times)
Comic Con India, held in New Delhi, has attracted a large cosplaying crowd—particularly among the wealthy class.
Saumya Singh, a 27-year-old graduate student, enjoys transforming herself into Naruto, the eponymous hero of the popular Japanese manga.
“Indian women are asked to be docile, but we can act boldly when wearing costumes,” she said.
India is a particularly convenient place to join in the fantasy fun because of there are so many highly skilled tailors throughout the country who can produce complicated attire at low cost.
In One of the World’s Richest Countries, Most Single Mothers Live in Poverty (Bloomberg, Yoshiaki Nohara)
Stigma against single mothers leads to a difficulty receiving aid, and the stress of social exclusion and poverty also contributes to increased rates of child abuse and neglect. (CW: graphic abuse)
Japan’s orphanages have become the country’s asylums for abused children. Many were set up after the war for the street children who had lost parents. Now, about 60 percent of the kids they take were abused or neglected, according to the welfare ministry.
At the House of Hope in Katsushika Ward in eastern Tokyo, a handwritten message is on display near the entrance from a visit by the prime minister. It simply says, “Hope. April 4, 2014. Shinzo Abe.”
But the abuse and disadvantages mean many of the children from Japan’s orphanages have dimmer prospects. At 18, when they have to leave, only 12 percent go to college, compared with 52 percent of high school graduates.
‘Golden Kamuy’ author doing his homework in depicting Ainu (The Asahi Shimbun)
On Noda’s research process and the input of the Ainu cultural experts he consulted.
Hiroshi Nakagawa, a professor of the Ainu language at Chiba University who supervises the Ainu spoken in the manga, was Noda’s discussion partner at the event.
Nakagawa said he was particularly impressed by drawings of Asirpa in a nearly complete artwork of the first episode that was shown when he first met with Noda.
It portrayed the Ainu girl clad in a costume for going into the woods with a bow.
“I was surprised how he drew it to the finest details,” Nakagawa said. “I don’t think there is a single photograph showing all the features in the artwork. Noda combined what he found through his research.
“If I were to create a textbook on the Ainu, I would love to publish this artwork.”
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BONUS #2: You know what? Have another kitten. This week needs it.
The fight against fascism is going to be a long one, and it’s damn important—stay informed, recover with soothing things when you need to, and help one another resist. This will always be an anti-fascist website.