This week: the announcement of Elation’s High Guardian Spice, the tokusatsu series that might have influenced Sailor Moon, and the tragically young passing of mangaka Momoko Sakura.
Alicia Haddick highlights her own positive community experiences with idol fandom, as well as several groups that are inclusive or otherwise push back against the homogenized “pure” image of idols.
Lynzee Loveridge shares how Chise’s story, despite the ending, resonated with her own struggles against depressive self-martyring and escaping an abusive relationship.
Dee, Peter, and Caitlin check in on the currently airing shows now that they’re (a bit more than) halfway over.
With High Guardian Spice out next year, what other types of shows would you like to see?
Amnesty International Japan program aims to help schools fill the gender information gap (The Japan Times, Louise George Kittaka)
The program is currently in planning and prep phases; challenges include the lack of not only existing systems for discussing gender and sexuality but a general lack of basic sex education in schools.
“Discrimination against women and LGBT individuals are pressing issues for discussion within Japanese society,” says Director Hideki Nakagawa. “As part of our Love Beyond Genders campaign, Amnesty International Japan introduced the Gender Human Rights Education Project, with an aim to provide a forum and tools for students to learn about and discuss gender, discrimination and human rights protection.”
Amnesty Japan partnered with American attorney Carolina van der Mensbrugghe to design and implement the program. Van der Mensbrugghe has a background in gender and human rights, and had previously worked in Japan with other NPOs such as UNICEF and the Nagasaki Foundation for Peace. She arrived back in Japan in November last year and began working on the English manual.
“The Japanese version is now being translated by Amnesty’s Japan staff. The contents were fine-tuned in Japan, based on interviews and pilot sessions with LGBT rights activists and educators with a background in human rights and gender,” she says.
In the course of her work on the project, Van der Mensbrugghe has noted some cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan.
“One major issue difference is that LGBT rights and gender issues are only just now gaining publicity in Japan,” she says. “Conversely, male-female gender discrimination here in Japan has been normalized to the point where it hasn’t even been seen as an issue or as a violation of people’s rights until now.
Matsushima is followed by three other women currently training as fighter pilots. Women are still banned from several positions in the Japanese military, including serving on submarines.
First Lieutenant Misa Matsushima, 26, will begin duty on Friday having completed her training to fly F-15s, Japan’s military has announced.
“As the first female (fighter) pilot, I will open the way,” she told reporters.
Japan’s air force began recruiting women in 1993 – except as fighter jet and reconnaissance aircraft pilots. It lifted that final ban in late 2015.
“Ever since I saw the movie Top Gun when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter jet pilots,” the graduate of Japan’s National Defence Academy told journalists.
“I wish to continue to work hard to fulfil my duty – not just for myself but also for women who will follow this path in the future.”
Claudine (with translator Jocelyne Allen) (Shojo and Tell)
The podcast talks with the classic manga’s English translator, with many additional contextual links in the show notes.
Though Riyoko Ikeda’s classic manga featuring a transgender protagonist originally came out in 1978, it was officially released for the first time in the US in the summer of 2018 (40 YEARS LATER!). S&T host Ashley asks Jocelyne Allen, the translator of Claudine (and many other manga), about the use of gender pronouns and other translation challenges with this work that’s set in early 1900s France, originally published in 1970s Japan, now being translated for late 2010s America. Plus, Jocelyne and Ashley walk through Claudine’s three romances, ponder if queerness coupled with tragedy are implied to be cyclical, and take a gender quiz that begs the question: Could Claudine be a mech?
Geek Media Company Ellation Launches ‘Anime-Inspired’ Content Studio (Forbes, Lauren Orsini)
Crunchyroll’s parent company adds original animation to their list of production projects. Their first project features a number of women in prominent roles behind the scenes.
Margaret Dean, former GM of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and current president of Women in Animation, will be head of studio and oversee production for High Guardian Spice. She noted that the original show will have an all-female writing room.
“We launched Originals because we love and respect anime as an art form,” Dean told me in an email. “We’re looking to create distinct, authentic, and impactful stories from a global community of creators who have been inspired by what we all love: anime.”
Crunchyroll’s Push Toward Production
This is the latest and most decisive move in Ellation’s push toward not just providing, but producing original content for fans. In particular, its anime-focused brand, Crunchyroll, has been just as likely as not to be listed in an anime’s credit in recent years. In 2017, Crunchyroll co-produced twenty anime titles—a process in which the company not only agreed to host the content when it was finished, but invested in it from the idea stage. These titles included anime like Kemono Friends, Kiznaiver, and Masamune Kun’s Revenge.
WHAT MAGICAL GIRL WAS SAILOR MOON BASED ON? (Tuxedo Unmasked)
A look at The Masked Belle Poutrine, a 1990 sentai show which might have influenced elements of Sailor Moon’s aesthetic.
TMB Poitrine was a live-action magical girl show in the tokusatsu genre that aired from January 7 to December 30, 1990. I’ve briefly mentioned it in the past, but actually a great deal of the structure of the Sailor Moon series — and the anime especially — is based heavily on the tropes developed over the decades of tokusatsu production. Even the title itself — Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon — follows the decades-old Adjective + Noun + Name structure firmly established by years and years of tokusatsu series.
Though TMB Poitrine was actually the eleventh installment in the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series,3 and third in their heroine-focused series, it was the first major tokusatsu series to star a consistent female lead from episode to episode who used magic to transform and fight the forces of evil. But before going much further, I should probably explain a bit about the series.
Hating the Game: Toxic Competition in HANEBADO! (Crunchyoll, Peter Fobian)
The series’ focus on intense competition over everything else has veered into an examination of how that attitude poisons enjoyment of the sport.
Just as harsh competition may make a sport more exciting for the audience, it might easily draw the excitement from the game the athletes play. Putting so much work into a sport with nothing tangible to show for it can demoralize anyone, but even the best may lose their love for the game in the pursuit of victory, turning their passion into a job. HANEBADO! delivers in portraying a claustrophobic stress around its matches, making each exchange feel meaningful as the girls walk a tightrope of reward and cost where a single push could drive them away from badminton forever. There may be plenty of melodrama at play, but the weight of the stress and emotional investment each player has placed in the game is inescapable.
The efforts of Japan’s first female doctor are worth remembering (The Japan Times, Michael Hoffman)
A retrospective on Ginko Ogino, Japan’s first licensed female doctor.
It took years, but at last she won permission to attend lectures at a medical school. There she was, one woman among 100 or so catcalling, outraged men: “Are you going to take men’s pulse?” “See men naked?” “Woman! Get out!” On the way home one day she was waylaid. Her presence among men proved she was no better than a whore; they’d use her accordingly. Ogino faced them down. “You want my body?” She told them about her venereal disease. They backed off, spitting in her face to symbolize victory regardless. Left alone, she broke down. Should she go to the police? Better not. Here’s proof, they’d all say, that a woman has no business doing what she was doing.
One step led to another. There she was, a student intern, a long way yet to go but a long way come. She faced her first patient, a middle-aged shop clerk with samurai roots. He had a wound in his upper arm. The pus needed to be drained, the bandage changed. Ogino introduced herself. The man glared at her. No woman was going to touch him. She pleaded, cajoled, bought him gifts. He was immovable. How could he face his ancestors? If he submitted he’d have to disembowel himself. Is that what she wanted?
Astonishingly, she won him over. But everything about this woman is astonishing. And finally she qualified. She was a doctor. All she needed was a license permitting her to open a gynecology clinic.
FOR THOSE WHO REMAIN BEHIND; THE THIRD WHEEL IN REVUE STARLIGHT AND REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA (Isn’t it Electrifying, Illegenes)
A comparison of Mahiru and Wakaba’s arcs as the left-behind, jealous friend.
What Revolutionary Girl Utena nails that I think Revue Starlight glosses over are three things. The first is the deep seated idea of self loathing and jealousy. Whereas Revue Starlight frames this for lighthearted jokes, Utena isn’t afraid to portray it in its more nasty and unhealthy form. Wakaba’s jealousy for Anthy is mixed in well with her own loathing for not being special enough in Saionji’s eyes, when clearly, she never really needed Saionji – she could shine just as brightly without him being around. Her display of rage and grief at not being inherently ‘talented’ is one of the most intensely emotional parts of the series, other than the finale, simply due to how the episode is set up. Most of it isn’t just through Wakaba’s monologues, but from her perspective and day to day activities. Revue does this as well, but most of it is framed in a comedic perspective, rather than a serious one. Both Mahiru and Wakaba fight because they feel powerless, but only in Utena’s is this so evocative and clearly portrayed. Kind Wakaba has been pushed to her limit in such a ruthless way that she’s willing to hurt – and possibly even kill – Utena and Anthy. This desperation and frustration isn’t felt as deeply with Mahiru’s character, who only seems melancholic and timid, rather than deeply insecure and frustrated. So instead, she does something just as glossy: bats Karen into different auditioned fights occuring at the same time. She’s not allowed to get mad.
Momoko Sakura, creator of ‘Chibi Maruko-chan,’ dies of breast cancer (The Japan Times, Reiji Yoshida)
Sakura’s series inspired one of the most popular children’s anime of all time.
The series proved to be extremely popular and in 1990 was made into an anime series, which also became a big success and still continues to this day. The anime series has been aired in more than 60 countries and regions, including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Venezuela and Chile.
The first theme song of the series, “Odoru Ponpokorin,” also became a hit, selling more than 1.73 million copies in 1990.
“I feel so sad about her demise, which came too early. But the bright smiles of Maru-chan and her friends will keep shining in the minds of readers ranging from kids to adults,” wrote Soichi Aida, the editor-in-chief of Ribbon, in a statement posted on the magazine’s website.
“Big thanks for Ms. Momoko Sakura,” he wrote.
There are both high hopes and some legitimate concerns about Elation’s new studio—here’s hoping it lives up to its potential!
I'd love to see them tackle short form anime, not like a full length series with a ton of episodes but something OVA like in length. This way they can do something experimental. Something short but well produced and totally out there plot wise or style wise.
— 42believer (@42believer) August 28, 2018
My concerns about Spice is actually intersectionality. They seem to advertise the show with diversity, yet I haven't seen a single black woman in the trailer. Most of the people were white passing and I don't think that this is okay.
— ❤️Ladybug Tiddie Prince🐞 (@TalesOfColor) August 28, 2018
To be honest, I have no preferences on specific content. I just want to see them take on the projects they want to tackle. Take risks, dive in, challenge the medium, and make shows that they're proud to produce.
If they work out? Fantastic!
If not? Meh. On to the next title.
— Samantha Ferreira (@sam_animeherald) August 28, 2018