Olive St. Sauver highlights Akira’s journey of recovery and its resonance in a world that pushes athletes to ignore their pain.
Trevor Richardson digs into the major failing of Demon Slayer’s story about empathy: its failure to give the audience insight into Nezuko’s emotional journey.
Dee, Peter, and Vrai check in on the current season six (and sometimes seven) episodes in.
As always, since we don’t cover shorts, we’re eager to hear what you’re watching.
MY CULTURE IS NOT YOUR TOY: A GAY JAPANESE MAN’S PERSPECTIVE ON QUEER EYE JAPAN (Wear Your Voice, Steven Wakabayashi)
An episode-by-episode critique of the series, focusing in particular on its failure to cast a queer Japanese person to give cultural context.
What she fails to mention is that, although the younger generations may be more accepting, there is still a strong conservative belief prevalent across most of Japan. As of this writing in November 2019, in Japan, same-sex partnerships are not recognized, adoption and surrogacy are not legally allowed for same-sex partners, conversion therapy is not banned, and only 2 out of 47 prefectures in Japan have anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination laws in place.
And in this scene, we see privilege in its purest form. We have two white men, a white non-binary individual, a Black man, a [South Asian] man, and a straight Japanese woman sitting around a table, talking about queer Japanese issues for a global audience, without a queer Japanese individual present.
The few times that queer Japanese people appear in the episode are presented as nameless “Kiko’s friends”. Kiko introduces the episode’s hero, Kan, to her lesbian and gay friend for only a few minutes of the whole episode. During this time, the audience learns nothing about the characters except their sexuality.
Here’s a gaysian, there’s a gaysian. You should meet, and everything will be fine.
Queer Eye did not have difficulty finding queer Japanese people. They just chose not to allow them to be a part of the most critical conversations.
Undocumented teen awaits her fate in Japanese ‘DACA’ case (The Asahi Shimbun, Tamaki Taro)
A teenage girl and her brother, born and raised in Japan, are currently in legal limbo because their parents are undocumented immigrants.
In the United States, eligible immigrant youth who came to the country when they were children have been protected from deportation under the immigration program called the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). These undocumented youth are known as “Dreamers.”
The DACA is not a familiar concept in Japan. But many families–such as the one in Osaka–have desperately sought similar relief in a nation that has an increasing number of immigrants.
The special permission is only granted by the justice minister, who considers the individual situation of foreigners who have received a deportation order after illegally entering the country or overstaying their visas in Japan.
Starting from the 2000s, lawsuits seeking special permission for migrant families with children to remain in Japan have been filed more frequently and nationwide. The increase occurred against the backdrop of Japan’s economic surge during the 1980s and 1990s called the “bubble” when many non-regular foreign workers filled the nation’s labor shortage.
“An Asexual World”: Asexuality in Death Stranding (The Asexual Agenda, Siggy)
Further writing on the game’s framing of asexuality as lonely and isolating, with additional commentary about the Japanese cultural context.
To zoom out to the larger cultural context for a moment, “An Asexual World” reflects a major demographic issue facing Japan right now: the declining birth rate and aging population. One frequently cited issue is that young people aren’t having sex–but, as this Japan Times op-ed lays out, some of the reporting is misleading and there are other major issues at play. In broad strokes, Japan’s demographic crisis is a confluence of economic issues, social issues (gender disparity is a major issue that the Japanese government is not addressing very well), and political policy (the aging population could be offset if Japan relaxed immigration policies). Unfortunately, it’s much easier to blame young people for not having enough sex than it is to address the conditions that might be impacting their desire to have children.
It’s also worth noting that ace communities do exist in Japan! As harris-hijiri, an asexual activist based out of Japan, talks about in the interview I conducted with her back in 2014, they are mainly online at the moment, although some offline events exist. Nijiro Gakkou, for example, hosts offline meet-ups–I attended one back in 2018 (which had over 80 attendees, the most aces I’ve ever been in a room with!) and they’re hosting another next month as part of their Asexual Awareness Week programming. There’s been a visible ace contingent marching in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade for several years now. Just this past week, articles about asexuality were run in Asahi Shinbun and Mainichi Shinbun, two major Japanese newspapers, and a Japanese translation of Julie Sondra Decker’s The Invisible Orientation was released in May. Asexuality may not be well-known, but information about it is available.
Manga on Uighur woman’s testimony of torture in China goes viral (The Japan Times)
The manga, published in August, recounts events from 2015 to 2017.
China runs a surveillance and predictive-policing system to crack down on large numbers of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its far west Xinjiang region, according to internal Communist Party documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Beijing cites threats of “terrorism” and “extremism” as grounds for sweeping surveillance and mass detention. But critics say the Communist Party uses Uighur separatism and Islamic extremism as a pretext to crack down on dissent and justify tight control in Xinjiang.
Confined in terrible conditions that did not permit sufficient sleep, the Uighur woman recounted being tied to a chair and repeatedly tortured by electric shock. Her triplets, who were taken from her by the Chinese authorities, became ill and one died, she says in the manga.
Yuri Anime: Fragtime (English) (Okazu, Erica Friedman)
A review of the recent convention screening of the film.
Moritani Misuzu (played by Ito-san) is a high school student who has the ability to stop time for three minutes. She stops time in order to look at classmate Murakami Haruka’s (played by Miyamoto Yume) underwear, only to find that Murakami is not affected by the time stoppage. In response to learning that Moritani likes Murakami, Murakami agrees to go out with her…as long as Moritani does whatever she wants. By this, she means that Moritani will stop time only at her request. As the film progresses, we learn that both girls have problems relating to people around them and, as they become closer, they work through those problems. Moritani gains confidence and stops running away from human contact, however, this causes her to lose her ability to stop time. But, as the end of the film approaches, it is clear that this is not a tragedy, and marks a new beginning for both Moritani and Murakami.
The overall plot of Fragtime is not bad, and both acting and animation are adequate. The overwhelming problem with Fragtime is the super-creepy male gaziness of it. (Learn about Male Gaze here and here.) Obsession with women’s underwear is centered as more important than the girls’ narratives. Moritani commits sexual assault because she ” likes’ Murakami. Murakami is manipulative and exploitative, Moritani is manipulated and exploited. All of this – every last unhealthy, over-sexualized, underwear-obsessive thing in the story is presented to us as either an expression of “like” or as comedy. The sound of juicy male laughter as Moritani buys a pair of underwear just like Murakami’s made me so upset I stood and almost left. And again, in response to Murakami threatening to break up after misunderstanding why Moritani stops time not by her command, (which Moritani had done to save a friend from mockery) Moritani does not tell her why she stopped time, but instead lifts up her skirt to show the matching underwear. As if that is, in any way, a meaningful act. Or something a woman might do. This time when there was laughter I came close to tears, as a woman’s humiliation is presented as a comedic beat.
While the private firm and the university issued apologies, there has been no mention of the professor facing punishment.
In response to criticism of the tweet, Ohsawa defended himself with new tweets, saying, “Chinese people are useless at private commercial companies because their performance is poor” and “We wouldn’t invite applicants for job interviews in the first place if it turned out they were Chinese. We’d reject them at the stage of document screening.”
The additional tweets sparked further criticism, with one Twitter user saying, “His comments have raised suspicions that he doesn’t understand fundamental human rights.” Some people, however, empathized with Ohsawa. “It’s only natural for a private company to protect its own interests,” one user wrote.
Ohsawa continued to defend himself, tweeting on Nov. 25, “What I tweeted was my company’s recruitment policy as a private firm and doesn’t represent the University of Tokyo’s views.”
VIDEO: A monthly manga round-up and review
VIDEO: Street interviews about work/life balance and experiments with a four-day work week in Japan
THREAD: Thread about racist attacks against a Black Nezuko cosplayer
THREAD: Connected to the Nezuko issue, about the need for ongoing anti-racist action in the cosplay community
It’s been a somewhat spare year for shorts, it seems, but we got a few solid recommendations.