Nostalgic retrospectives, sexual harassment, and possibly unscrupulous trademarks.
Alexis Sergio examines how Persona 5’s central theme of looking critically at the world’s injustices clash with its handling of gender and sexuality.
Zeldaru discusses War in the Pocket and its exploration of toxic masculinity and the societal ripple effects of war.
The watchalong sinks into one of the series’ lowest points—an astonishingly bad take on gender identity followed by some murders.
Let’s talk about the series and movies that are specifically trying to talk about Important Issues.
Adult-Themed Site Cosplay Deviants Has Trademarked Cosplay is NOT Consent (Bleeding Cool, Bill Watters)
This trademark means that all conventions will have to comply with Cosplay Deviants’ requirements in order to display the phrase at conventions, though the site claims it isn’t asking for residuals and originated the phrase (which is of debatable accuracy).
Doerner indicated that it was not their intent in general to go after conventions legally for use of the mark (he didn’t indicate what would happen if they refused to reply to their form), unless a convention was making branded products with the trademark (e.g. making t-shirts saying Cosplay is not Consent). When asked if they would pursue conventions who used the phrase, he replied:
Not at all, our aim is to prevent anyone, companies or individuals from profiting on the movement. Any merchandise we have created for the movement has been given away for free.
He indicated that their move towards filing for the trademark was due to a convention having approached him to purchase the domain, expressing that the fact that it’d been offered “raised a red flag.” Whether the red flag would be that someone would own the phrase and attempt to leverage it (like they are doing), or that it meant that there was money being left on the table that they could go after a portion of proceeds, remains to be seen.
In Japan, we too need to talk about sexual misconduct (The Japan Times, Alisa Yamasaki)
An editorial calling for a national conversation about sexual harassment and assault in Japan.
Speaking for myself, my earliest memory of sexual assault is being groped in a crowded train station as a child. While weaving through hundreds of people and trying hard not to lose sight of my mother walking towards the ticket gate, I felt a hand on my body. The move was swift, but even as a child I knew that this was not an accident; it was calculated. Stunned, I turned around to see the back of the man quickly disappear into a wave of people.
In the midst of my astonishment, sobering thoughts passed over me:
I’m only 8 but this happened to me. I don’t need to know what sexual urges are in order be subjected to them. Even having my mother by me didn’t stop him. There are many more people like him and they’ll continue to get away with it.
By the time the man was lost in the crowd, I thought I’d missed the opportunity to tell my mother. Should I have so many feelings over something that happened so quickly? I didn’t speak about the incident until I was an adult.
Ode to the Pretty Guardian Sailor Soldier (April Magazine, Lisa Cheung)
A personal essay on how Sailor Moon impacted the author’s life, in honor of the show’s 25th anniversary.
Sailor Moon’s way of “weaponising femininity” is the ultimate statement on gender expression, so those typical masculine traits like determination, strength, and power are no longer exclusive to male characters but are embodied in Naoko Takeuchi’s girls through the power of friendship, love, and compassion.
But it was never all starlight and rainbows.
As proud as I was for having Serena Tsukino as my symbol of Asian pride and female empowerment, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of humiliation for her visual representation. I realised this during elementary school dress-up days, where I would downplay my love for the TV show to save myself from having to explain how the Sailor Soldiers save the universe in “skimpy” uniforms, wearing incredibly short skirts and impractical high heels. I was bashful and tomboyish, so instead I would don a Jedi cloak or a Hogwarts robe and feign interest in Star Wars and Harry Potter to fit in.
As I grew older, it came to my attention that all the women of Sailor Moon were tall, skinny with small faces and big busts. Their beauty standards were completely unrealistic. As much as I stood by her good morals and intentions, I couldn’t help but feel sad that I had lost touch with something I had once loved.
RETROSPECTIVE CHRONICLE: TWO FEMALE COMIC CREATORS DISCUSS CLAMP (Women Write About Comics, Lin Kelly)
Two artists talks about the highs and lows of CLAMP and the effect those works had on their own artistic endeavors.
Lin: I think one thing we’re also circling is that CLAMP’s work often is very casually queer. That was really refreshing and exciting to me when I was younger. Back then, I remember a lot of stories centred around the experience of being queer, but less that simply used queer characters to tell stories. I imagine that was a big draw for you, too.
Capp: It was a huge draw for me. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure it’s why my realization that I was queer myself was super casual—being so heavily invested in CLAMP’s comics sort of made me feel like being queer was normal, just a fact of life.
Lin: Yeah! They’re not perfect—they can be frustratingly ambiguous at times, and a lot of their explicit queer characters (women especially) end up dead—but the casualness of their queer romances was such a revelation to me.
What it’s like to live as a black person in Japan (Huck Magazine)
A short documentary about the experience of being both a foreigner and Black in Japan.
The film looks in detail at what it’s like to escape your comfort zone, and shines a light on the open nature of the Japanese capital. For example, despite being one of the only black people in her circle of friends, Nwosu notes that she was always “treated very well,” and that racial hostility in Tokyo was very rare.
“Hostility in Japan is usually very passive, so even when people feel a certain way about you, it usually comes out in body language and facial expressions rather than words or actions,” she recalls. “This mainly came from people in the older generation, but amongst younger people, I rarely got that kind of energy.”
“I think that shows you the generational gap and the influence of black culture in contemporary culture versus how it was in the past. The more people are exposed to black media, the less they feel discomfort from seeing someone of a different background.”
‘Boys’ for rent in Tokyo: Sex, lies and vulnerable young lives (The Japan Times, Rob Gilhooly)
A more recent article on the rentboy documentary Boys for Sale, focusing on the financial vulnerability and lack of education on sexual health and safety the young men involved in the industry face.
According to one NPO in the devastated region, this is not an uncommon trend, and one that is not limited to young men. “I have heard of young women affected by the disasters who have been forced into sex work in Tokyo,” says Yuko Kusano of Miyagi Jonetto.
Perhaps the most disturbing revelation in the film is how poorly schooled interviewees are in sexual health matters. Some appear to have no or only a vague notion as to what sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are or how they can be transmitted. Soap, mouthwash and brushing teeth are cited as being effective ways to prevent them. One urisen is unsure if men can even get STDs.
Ash says he is occasionally asked by film viewers if he ever attempted to educate the urisen.
“These are people who don’t even possess the vocab to describe parts of their body or substances that come out of it,” Ash says of the urisen interviewees, whom he and fellow producer and director of photography Adrian Storey put in front of the camera — some with masks to conceal their identities — for one hour each within the confined space of a typical room where they would fornicate with their clients. “So you’re not going to get far trying to make them understand why it’s dangerous to brush your teeth before oral sex.”
A Look At Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Womenomics 5 Years On (Savvy Tokyo, Chiara Terzuolo)
An analysis of the shortcomings of the plan (initially, to increase the number of women in managerial capacities by 30%) in the private and public sectors, and where it might go from here.
While the latest statistics released by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for fiscal 2016, show that Japanese women’s labor participation is indeed at a record high — 48.9 percent (a total of 28.01 million women), nearly half of them (13.67 million) were employed part-time, on a contract base or as haken (temp) workers, which equates to low pay, little responsibility and few chances to advance their careers.
One of the major reasons for the growth in non-full-time employment among women is the difficulty in arranging childcare (especially in larger cities), as Japan does not currently have enough nurseries to fill the demand. But another major reason is economic: The government offers large tax breaks for married couples where only one person works full time. A law set up in 1961 and so far left unchanged allows for ¥380,000 to be deducted from the taxable income of the head of a household if his or her partner earns ¥1.03 million or less per year. While families need additional income, the current regulations make it more profitable if one of the partners earns less than the other. Given the prevailing cultural belief that men are providers and women carers in Japan, this clearly becomes an easy decision for women to be the lower income provider at home.
JAPANESE POLITICIAN WITH BABY KICKED OUT CHAMBER BY MALE COLLEAGUES AS WAR ON WOMEN CONTINUES (Newsweek, Nicole Goodkind)
Legislator Ogata was asked to leave despite the child being well-behaved, and had no recourse in the form of child care availability.
Video from the session shows Ogata sitting with the well-behaved child in her arms while her male colleagues looked on angrily.
About 70 percent of Japanese women drop out of the workforce when they have their first child. Those who stay still struggle with their wages, Japan was ranked 114 out of 144 in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has attempted to create subsidized day care programs that encourage women to go back to work, but his efforts have so far been unsuccessful.
Ogata claims she contacted legislative officials at her assembly multiple times about daycare options but never received a response. The council secretary, however, claimed that she only expressed “anxiety about being separated from the child for a long time.”
A western-made otome game and how it succeeds (and fails) in trying to write more responsible, feminist versions of existing romance fantasies.
Magical Diary drew both from otome games and western romance conventions when creating its characters, including tropes like the “bad boy” and the teacher-student romance. The writers are clearly aware of the problematic elements entwined with these types of romance, which often implicitly or explicitly encourage the female protagonist/self-insert to ignore emotionally abusive or dangerous behavior from their partner in the hopes of “saving” them. Drawing from those influences, Magical Diary seemingly set itself a goal: attempting to write those storylines in a way that allowed for the fantasy while also addressing the harmful implications of those tropes responsibly.
This decision makes it somewhat unique among dating sims. Many fall either into replicating the expectations of the genre, problematic tropes and all, or decide to tell stories that eschew those narratives altogether. Dream Daddy’s Joseph route is the closest comparison, writing an unwinnable route around the privileged, manipulative serial adulterer, but even that is different from the “responsible fantasy” approach. Beyond showing the unconscious harm certain elements can cause, Magical Diary takes another step by attempting to see if the core appeal of those fantasies (the protagonist’s default name is the tongue-in-cheek “Mary Sue”) are conducive to more inclusive, feminist writing.
Yuri isn’t Made for Men: An Analysis of the Demographics of Yuri Mangaka and Fans (Floating into Bliss, Zeria)
An attempt to scientifically crunch the numbers on whom yuri manga and anime is made by and for.
For the sake of this section, I used Baka-Updates for researching the gender of mangaka. For the purpose of this study, I classified yuri mangaka as “creators who made 2 or more stories tagged ‘yuri’ or ‘shoujo-ai’, or creators who wrote 1 or more volumes tagged ‘yuri’ or ‘shoujo-ai’.” This is subject to dispute, and many may believe that some of the mangaka on this list aren’t yuri creators, but in absence of a better definition it is what I have chosen.
In this research I found that out of the 150 mangaka, 91 were female, 20 were male, and 39 did not have a listed gender. This means that 60.66% of mangaka were female, 13.33% were male, and 26% were unknown. Of those with known genders, 81.98% were female and 18.01% were male. This means that at least 60% of these mangaka were female as a whole, and at most 87% of these mangaka were female as a whole, depending on the genders of those not listed.
Information on the sexuality of yuri mangaka is much harder to find. A number of yuri mangaka have openly stated that they’re queer, including Morishima Akiko, Amano Shuninta, Takemiya Jin, Nagata Kabi, and others. The afterwords written by many other yuri mangaka also indicate that some may be attracted to women. But for understandable reasons, this sort of information is usually not publically available, so getting accurate data on it is hard. Suffice it to say that at least a sizable number of female yuri mangaka are queer, though there’s no way to judge how many that is at this point.
A quiet front on this week’s talk, but we’ve had quite the response to Alexis’ Persona piece.
Persona in general is strongest when it's about living your fantasy in every sense but weakest when it tries to tackle social/societal issues. It was fine when the latter was served as a side dish than a main course(Persona 4) but 5 tries hard to push for it as its central theme. https://t.co/nVq9HoYSOR
— Varun Raj (@blurr_warun) November 28, 2017
A great critique of Persona 5, a game that I played 3 times. https://t.co/Uyr686PM9h
— Brandon Christopher (@BossKingKakuzan) November 28, 2017
Its treatment of Lala and the complete underutilization of Ryuji's class struggles doesn't do it any favors either. I love the game but as a critique of Japanese society it goes INCREDIBLY, woefully softball.
— Mewshuji (@Mewshuji) November 27, 2017