One fewer post this week while the US spent a couple of days on annual dinner celebrations, but we have five posts planned for next week to make up for it!
[AniFemTalk] 14-21 November 2016
Check out the comments for reader thoughts on Flip Flappers, Ajin and Rurouni Kenshin! Our next AniFemTalk post is out tomorrow, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the past week in anime and manga.
[Roundtable] Trash characters
Six of the team held a roundtable discussion on “trash” characters, talking about the definition of a trash character, how that changes with the character’s gender, what the relationship is between trash and power and how trash characters intersect with other anime character types like chuunibyou. Take a look and join in the discussion in comments!
5 Things You Didn’t Know About LGBTQs in Japan (Queer ESL)
Masaki debunks five misconceptions, some of which are particularly relevant to feminist commentary on Japanese pop culture. “Because we see lots of gay men, trans women and effeminate men on TV every day, and some of them have been around for decades and some of them are new, it’s easy to assume that the Japanese mass media have been quite LGBT-friendly for decades. But the same is simply not true for lesbian women.” Masaki has actually agreed to an interview with AniFem, keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks!
Women in shonen manga: Kaoru Kamiya and action girls in Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga (Anna Having Fun)
Our first link from an author who promoted herself in AniFemTalk comments! Anna takes a look at female fighting characters in Rurouni Kenshin, Busou Renkin, Gun Blaze West and Embalming, as well as comparing Rurouni Kenshin in the 1990s to the 2012 do-over. Anna notes that “the lack of a strong, cool female fighter in Rurouni Kenshin is not part of some sexist agenda, but more or less a conceptual mistake” but also points out that “A fighter who never gets to fight is a failed concept.” Anna is particularly keen to engage with readers in her comments, please head over to her site and let her know your thoughts on the women of Watsuki’s manga or fighting women in shonen in general!
“I may not be popular, but I live on.” (Frog-kun)
Frog-kun has translated an interview with Toru Honda, a controversial figure best known for rebelling against the commercialisation of romance in Japan, in part by marrying a bishojo character. “Honda first came to fame by pissing over Densha Otoko, the film that made otaku ‘cool’ in the eyes of the mainstream Japanese public. As far as Honda was concerned, the protagonist of Densha Otoko was a traitor to otaku. By renouncing his otaku ways and becoming a ‘normal’ lover, Densha Otoko merely fed into a system Honda calls ‘love capitalism’, wherein a man’s attractiveness is measured by his economic worth.”
Yuri on Ice and the ambition of Sayo Yamamoto (Crunchyroll)
Sayo Yamamoto is not only one of the most accomplished and interesting directors in anime, she is also one of the very few women directors. In this feature, Brandon Teteruck places Yuri!!! on ICE in artistic context. “Between highlighting sexually-empowered women and referencing foreign art styles, Yamamoto is a director who isn’t afraid to deviate from conventional anime narratives. Her unrelenting ambition is one of her greatest strengths but also a weakness, as shown by her latest venture, Yuri!!! On ICE.”
Japan’s efforts to make it easier for women to work are faltering (Economist)
It’s not just anime that lacks women in leadership positions; this is a systemic problem, and something Japanese feminists have been fighting to change for some time. “Four years into [Prime Minister] Abe’s stint in office, and 17 years since Ms Matsui coined the term “womenomics”, the government is still struggling to make Japanese women “shine”, its clumsy rhetorical catchphrase for raising the standing of women at work. The latest gender-gap index published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks Japan 111th out of 144 countries, a fall of ten places since 2015. Just 9.5% of the members of Japan’s lower house are women, putting the country 155th in the world by that measure. Under Mr Abe, the number of female directors at Japanese firms has inched up—to a paltry 2.7%.”
Flip Flappers’ courtship of Cocona (For Me in Full Bloom)
In what will be the first of three posts, Emily Rand looks at the art of ambiguity in Flip Flappers, with spoilers through episode 8. “Flip Flappers consistently gives us, and Cocona, multiple ways to perceive a situation. Often the aim — further hinted at in Episode 6 and its many modern art references — is not to juxtapose two things to create something new, but to further reiterate the contrast and relationship between two things. This is a series that gives us Rubin’s vase not surrealist art.”
The feminism of Sailor Moon (Teen Vogue)
“On social media, another retro icon has been popping up recently on the feeds of cool kids across all generations: Sailor Moon, the spunky anime phenomenon. “I recently started watching the show, and when you think about it, it’s really radical,” says Rowan Blanchard, just one of the heroine’s Gen-Z adopters.” Okay, this is essentially a gif set (and one of the gifs is of Sailor Venus rather than Sailor Moon, oops) but Sailor Moon is resonating with Teen Vogue’s readers on a feminist level, and that’s pretty great to see.
Sailor Moon condoms combat syphilis but heroine’s fans flustered by age issue (Japan Times)
Speaking of Sailor Moon and feminism, she’s recently been drafted in to punish a new enemy: syphilis. “Although Asanuma says that Sailor Moon is popular with people of all sexual orientations and may prove useful in bringing up STDs among those too shy to discuss them, some Usagi Tsukino fans are upset the junior high school student is being used as the “campaign girl” to broach the topic. “I don’t like it a bit. Sailor Moon was a childhood heroine and a sacred figure for me. I still want her to be distant from this issue,” Twitter user @akaimihajiketa wrote Monday. “But I want the leaflet … I am still looking for words to explain my mixed feelings.””
Black Sailor Moon (Cassidy Stone Art)
To wrap up the Sailor Moon roll, have black Usagi and Ami as imagined by artist Cassidy Stone!
Another shot at black Sailor Moon. Ami remains the cutest. pic.twitter.com/vb2qsSSzib
— Cassidy Stone (@CassidyStone1) 26 November 2016
Cassidy has also created adorable comics and illustrations featuring the sailor scouts with more diverse body types. One of the greatest things about fandom is that we can plug the gaps left by the conscious and unconscious bias of both creators and gatekeepers through fan works, and it’s always satisfying to see fans doing exactly that.
Why criticizing the things we love is more important than ever (The Mary Sue)
Finally, we got a mention over at The Mary Sue! Chelsea Ennen posted an essay which happens to complement our own commentary on the subject of critique, in which she said:
Why does enjoying something have to mean pretending it’s perfect? Take Amelia Cook’s essays on anime. Some people might read her work and think, “Gee, she sure spends a lot of time watching something she thinks is horrible.” I don’t dare read the comments, but this feels like a safe assumption. [Editor’s note: It is.] But clearly she’s a huge anime fan. Why would she be so invested in its representations of women if she hated it? Isn’t her website, Anime Feminist, proof of just how much she loves anime? She respects it and cares about it enough to hold it to a higher standard. She knows it can do better in some areas. She knows it’s worth fighting for.
“You obviously don’t like anime so just stop watching it!” is a sentiment regularly levelled at both AniFem as a site and the individuals behind it. It’s not surprising that Ennen accurately guessed this was the case given the liberal application of the No True Scotsman fallacy in geek spaces (see also: geek gatekeeping, fake geek girls, etc). However, the whole team is putting a lot of work into building AniFem up from zero, motivated only by love and respect, and we’re all grateful to see that publicly recognised by a complete stranger. Thank you!
We set up one discussion question, but didn’t have many takers! Anyone want to jump in?
— AniFem (@AnimeFeminist) 26 November 2016
Amelia is the editor-in-chief of Anime Feminist and a freelance writer for websites and magazines on film, television and anime. She has a degree in Japanese Studies and is working towards a master’s degree in film and television.
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