[Links] 22-28 March 2017

By: Anime Feminist March 28, 20172 Comments

The Winter season comes to a close, ClassicaLoid takes a step forward, and Hollywood takes another six steps back.

AniFem Round-Up

[AniFemTalk] Winter 2017 wrap-up

The Winter crop is coming to an end. How’re you feeling about it?

[Feature] Love in the Time of ClassicaLoid

In which ClassicaLoid has some good Midsummer Nights Dream-style love potion fun and flirts with normalizing ‘ships beyond heterosexual monogamy.

[Throwback] The shell of the ghost

Links to some posts on Ghost in the Shell, and how various adaptations frame the Major’s body.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 4: Japanese versions of Ghost in the Shell

Chatty AF returns, talking Japanese Ghost in the Shell before the arrival of the Hollywood trainwreck. Now with special guests Valerie Complex and Brian Ruh!


Beyond AniFem

Defining yuri manga: A Q&A with Erica Friedman (Barnes & Noble)

Barnes & Noble interviewed Erica to get an intro to yuri and some personal recommendations.

Based on surveys we’ve done over the years on Okazu and Yuricon, the readers are very close to evenly split between women and men, although they may read different yuri series, and also read them differently. I’d call it 55 percent women and 45 percent men. Readers also are fairly split across most adult age groups. Because of the heterogeneity of readers, I often say yuri is for anyone who wants to read yuri.

Anti-bullying policy to protect LGBT students (Human Rights Watch)

This update acknowledges an important step forward in LGBT rights in Japan, and other progress still to come.

Another important step will be to amend the Act on Special Treatments for Persons with Gender Identity Disorder, which regulates legal recognition of transgender people. Current Japanese law contains a number of requirements that violate fundamental human rights protections, and affect transgender children. For transgender students in Japan, simply attending school can be an ordeal. National law mandates people to obtain a mental disorder diagnosis and other medical procedures, including sterilization, to be legally recognized according to their gender identity – an abusive and outdated procedure. The current momentum in the Japanese political discussion on LGBT issues promises further reforms, Human Rights Watch said.

Head Space – “Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju” Shinigami, Part One (Crunchyroll)

Our own Peter looks at the intersection of text and meta-text in perhaps the most striking story of the past year’s sleeper hit.

The interactions between the lives and performances of the characters are one of the most fascinating aspects of Rakugo. The stories they tell always in some way reflect their experiences and desires. No story resonates as strongly with the series as Shinigami, which acts as the bookends of Bon’s tale from his introduction to his final performance. Abandoned as a child, Bon coped with his loss by distancing himself from others to save himself from being hurt again. Shinigami illustrates the the inner conflict in Bon throughout the series, the pull between his desire for isolation with his art and the fundamental human necessity of connecting with others.

Sapporo to become first major city to recognize LGBT couples in June (The Japan Times)

While this arrangement is more along the lines of the “civil unions” in the mid-2000s US rather than true marriage equality, it’s a great step forward for queer couples in Japan.

Under draft rules unveiled in January, those eligible for the status need to be city residents and at least 20 years old. Upon receiving what would be called a “partnership vow,” the local government would issue the couple a receipt and a copy of their vow.
While the certification would not confer special legal rights or obligations on the couple, they would be able to become recipients of life insurance money and given access to various discounts provided to family members, such as on mobile phone contracts, according to the city.

Suffer little children: the naive unease of the anime zombie (Little Anime Blog)

Zombies are still inescapable in pop culture, but their anime incarnation is influenced by very different factors than the western zombie.

Much like the evolution of the anime vampire, the moe ‘n’ zombies aesthetic reflects the clash of the immature and advanced in Japanese society. The grief post-World War II that left Japan’s cultural identity fractured created the fear of a world forsaken, as in the series Sunday Without God. As Japan re-asserted itself as pacifist, this series adopts the Biblical roots of the undead, and light novel author Kimihito Irie mocks their nation’s naivete with the idea that, in one deciding day, heaven and hell ceased to exist, leaving humans unable to die. Putting a young girl at the heart of such stories, like Sunday Without God’s Ai, reflects a simultaneous sexualisation and nostalgic regard for her purity, especially in this anime’s reality, where humans are not only doomed to succumb to Half-Dead Fever, but can no longer procreate. This focus on such girls being the last of the innocents expresses a desire to protect that purity, as in School-Live!, when it’s under severe threat of contamination.

“Rolling, falling, scrambling girls. For others. For themselves. Even if they’re destined to be a ‘mob’” — A return to the Rolling Girls (Atelier Emily)

It was an enormous flop at the time of release, but sometimes those kinds of stories deserve revisiting to see what made them so promising in the first place.

Trying to sort out the overarching narrative involving aliens and stones is infuriating, especially week-to-week. The Rolling Girls is at its finest when showing Nozomi and her group at the periphery of something larger, and trying to find their place in a massive, colorful world. It’s at its worst when it puts the world and the bests at the forefront, making halfhearted attempts at explanation — the final arc is notably awful at this, introducing far too many factions and splitting up the four heroines for a time. They’re best left to their own devices, making their mark when they can while enjoying their time together. As Chiaya Misono says to Nozomi in the final episode, “You were my Matcha Green,” meaning that anyone, even the most average person in an extraordinary world can inspire someone else.

21,897 people committed suicide in 2016; lowest number since 1994 (Japan Today)

Japan has been associated with a high suicide rate for many years, and this article looks at some of the successful measures they have used to reduce it significantly.

Experts say it’s difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decline, attributing it to a combination of factors. The government has made a determined effort to tackle the issue, starting with national legislation in 2006. Consumer loan laws have been revised to try to keep people from taking on too much debt, while awareness campaigns have helped bring the issue into the public eye.
“Now we can talk about suicides,” said Yasuyuki Shimuzu, founder of Lifelink, a nonprofit that lobbies for suicide-prevention measures. “I believe the change in environment has made it easier for the needy to seek help.”

In Japan, Right-Wing School Scandal Entangles 2 Women Close to Abe (The New York Times)

The recent revelation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have been giving money and favors to an extremely right-wing school program, whose organizer has been “accused of bigotry against Chinese and Koreans,” has also led to scrutiny of his wife and the defense minister, with explicitly feminist commentary on their roles and expectations in Japan.

Women who want to see more female representation in positions of power say they are even more disappointed by Ms. Inada.
“Inada is anti-feminist,” said Mari Miura, a professor of political science at Sophia University, pointing to the defense minister’s membership in an ultraconservative activist group that believes women belong in the home. She added that Ms. Inada had resisted calls to push legislation that would allow married women to use different surnames from those of their husbands, a cause important to Japanese feminists.
Ms. Miura said Mr. Abe had chosen Ms. Inada because she shared his revisionist view that Japan had been unfairly accused of atrocities in World War II. “The women chosen by him are just symbolic or a cosmetic way of conveying women’s advancement,” Ms. Miura said. “And that doesn’t really empower women at all.”

Netflix’s ‘Death Note’ adaptation draws backlash for whitewashing (USA Today)

If any of you haven’t seen the trainwreck of a trailer for the American Death Note flick….woof. This article covers Light’s recasting, but not the other backlash happening in certain corners of the internet from people upset that L is being played by a person of color. Some choice Twitter selections, though.

Some people argued that, because the Netflix version relocated the story, the casting choices were OK. Many, however, argued that that populating an American adaptation of the series with white actors ignores the fact that there are Asian American actors who could have been cast.
The Death Note trailer arrives at a time when Netflix has already been in hot water with fans over its representation of Asian characters and stories. The run-up and release of Marvel’s Iron Fist  have been especially fraught. The show, the fourth in Netflix and Marvel’s deal that also includes DaredevilJessica Jones, and Luke Cage, has been criticized for its cultural appropriation and called a white savior story.

New make-up free cafe set to open in Tokyo next month (RocketNews24)

Fed up of seeing women with dyed hair and nail art serving them in Starbucks, the owner of the first make-up free cafe set up a place where a less artificial aesthetic would be prized. This seems like a positive idea in theory, and there’s certainly a market for it (they are successfully crowdfunding a second cafe in Tokyo) but there’s plenty of room for criticism in this concept, especially when the owner is probably a man.

To maintain their “natural” image, the girls hired to work at the cafe are non-smokers who don’t have previous night-time work experience in places like cabaret bars and who don’t have excessively dyed hair or garish manicures. These natural-looking girls exude beauty without relying on makeup, which is a breath of fresh air in a country where girlish appearances are paramount.

BONUS: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Season 2 – Episode 12 (Anime EVO)

We’ve featured Dee‘s work on Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju before, but if you were bothered by the possible revelation of the last episode, this piece is a must-read.

Which brings us to the more complicated half of our overarching “changing narratives” exploration: The “narrative” part. Through their interpretation of events, storytellers have a unique power to shape the narratives that influence entire cultures. Audiences possess a similar power, as they can decide which stories to consume, pass on to others, or ignore altogether. As such, history and tradition are as much about the stories we do share as the ones we don’t. And, when it comes to our own stories–our personal narratives–we rarely get the opportunity to decide which is which.


AniFem Community

This week we asked you about the good and the ghastly of the Winter 2017 season. Seems to have been a quiet one, with everyone able to find at least a thing or two to lift their spirits.

Finally, AniFem founder Amelia gave an interview to millennial magazine The Tempest:

Meet Amelia Cook, creator of “Anime Feminist”, feminist, and entrepreneur (The Tempest)

If there are questions you would like to ask Amelia or any of the team, just let us know in the comments!


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