This week: a Universal Fan Con postmortem, a modern history of romance games, and why Aggretsuko is great.
Vrai discusses the line between not acknowledging unintended queer subtext and making a reference in-show meant to mock and exclude queer fans drawn to that subtext.
Aye is creating a magical girl graphic novel set in Nigeria and drawing inspiration from Igbo mythology.
We checked in with what we’re watching and how it’s holding up, whether for better or worse.
Amelia, Lizzie and Jacqueline (from the Michiko & Hatchin watchalong) and extra-special guest Minami, discuss what it’s like learning Japanese and living in Japan as women/enbies of color.
Whether about series, site content, or behind the scenes stuff, we want to hear from you.
Universal Fan Con: Peeling Back the Layers (Women Write About Comics, Jazmine Joyner)
An extremely comprehensive breakdown of What Happened with the cancellation of Fan Con, from the parties involved to the various outside factors and internal culpability.
The Kickstarter included eight tiers, from $1 to $5000, and Fan Con achieved backers at every level. The prices seemed unusually cheap and didn’t appear to factor in talent charging for photos, as is regular at conventions. For example, their $10 pledge level, which had 275 backers, included: a Saturday pass to Universal Fan Con, a Photo Op with a celebrity guest, a digital copy of the Universal Fan Con Commemorative Program, and a personal thank you note from the Fan Con Team.
For $35, you could get the same package but with a weekend pass for the show. That was the most backed tier, with 361 people supporting the con at that level.
That means that, with just those two tiers, the convention was already promising to give away 636 free photo opportunities, which the Kickstarter FAQs stated you could choose yourself, meaning that every celebrity guest would have to approve giving away free time (the time taken for those photographs) and money (profit they would have otherwise made on those photo ops). At similar sized cons, a celebrity photograph would usually cost anywhere from $15 to $125, depending on who the photograph is with.
This aspect of the Kickstarter seemed suspect, as photo ops are one of the main ways that celebrity guests make money at conventions. The fact that, though there were no announced guests, the team felt comfortable promising hundreds of free photos, was the first hint of what was to come.
Japanese man seeks damages after death of same-sex partner, claiming he was barred from cremation ceremony (South China Morning Post)
Because commonlaw marriage isn’t recognized in Japan (whether gay or straight), a family member can effectively shut out same-sex partners; the deceased’s sister barred the widower from attending the cremation.
She also closed the business managed by the partner and terminated an office lease contract without the plaintiff’s consent, while the assets held by the partner automatically went to her.
The man claims he and his partner had agreed they would inherit one another’s assets in the event of death but said he was told by the lawyer representing the sister that he had “absolutely no rights”.
“There seems to be discrimination against homosexual people even before the legal hurdles,” said Kazuyuki Minami, the lawyer representing the man.
“If a same-sex marriage system is established, it would not only ensure the rights of partners but also help resolve irrational discrimination.”
Why Aggretsuko is the Voice of a Generation (Anime News Network, Michelle Liu and Jacob Chapman)
A discussion of how Sanrio’s new show tackles the many faces of oppression for women in the workforce.
Jacob: [Retsuko’s] become an expert at compartmentalizing so that she won’t rock the boat, but it’s taking a massive toll on her psyche and her ability to connect with others. Every woman feels like this, yet most women feel like they’re all alone in these feelings. And like you said, everyone copes in different ways. Tsunoda the cute little doe just embraces the system completely, which helps her avoid stress for now, but it also means she’s bound to grow into a paranoid old snake like Tsubone. Fenneko has the opposite problem, where she’s decided not to care about pressure from others so hard that she relies on her own endless spite reserves to get her through the day, accidentally pushing even like-minded people away because they fear her judgment.
It’s hard out there for everybody, but everybody copes in different ways that isolate them by disguising the universality of the feelings they share.
Micchy: Yeah! Pretty crucially, Aggretsuko is sympathetic to both these girls’ methods. Fenneko is the no-bullshit skeptic to Retsuko’s conflict-avoidant optimism most of the time, while Tsunoda does have moments where she lets down the ass-kisser facade to admit that she’s totally playing into the system because it’s easier on her to do so than to raise a fuss.
Pop star Tatsuya Yamaguchi to take ‘hard look at himself’ as he apologizes for forcibly kissing teen (The Japan Times, Alex Martin)
The 48-year-old allegedly got drunk and forcibly kissed his teenage television coworker at his home (though this article focuses a great deal more on his performative remorse than her perspective—she later allegedly dropped the complaint, and he was not charged).
Yamaguchi said he had been working from a hospital since around Jan. 15 to “rest his liver” and improve its function. “I’ve been told by my company not to drink too much,” he said.
He was discharged on the morning of Feb. 12 and went home to sort out his belongings. He said he eventually began drinking and recalled being drunk by the time he contacted the girl, who he knew through work. According to police, he said she visited his home with a friend at around 8 p.m.
Yamaguchi claimed his memory of the encounter is fragmented due to his drunken state — he said he had downed a full bottle of shōchū (a type of Japanese spirit) that day — and said he later heard from the girl and her friend that they had left after 30 minutes to an hour.
He said he was contacted by police in late March about the incident and reported it to Johnny & Associates in early April.
Yuri Meguri, Part 2 – Yuriten 2018! (Okazu, Erica Friedman)
Part of a multi-post con report, including a lunch date with some of the genre’s biggest authors and lots of pictures.
Then I was invited out to lunch with Kawamoto-san from Kadokawa, Uchida-san and Morishima Akiko-sensei.
I have an important announcement to make, Kawamoto-san is the true Yuri master. His knowledge surpasses mine. He showed me his prize possession of the earliest Yuri doujinshi ever. I was blown away. After lunch, we talked about publishing, and Yuri and…stuff….
One of the things we discussed was that goods and information are how some fans engage with the media. I mean, people who can create their own stuff do, but not everyone can. You know I talk about how there’s a level of fan who just likes to watch or read or whatever, but then there is a level where uppercase ‘F’ Fans want to be part of or engage with the story, which is where you have derivative creative work, cosplay and fanart and fanfic and AMVs, etc. Some people don’t have that kind of creative drive, but they still want to have a deeper connection to the work, so they collect goods and/or information as an expression of that connection. Some fans hoard that information, to use as status. “I know more than you about….” which can become toxic. (And sort of feeds back to the conversation I had with Kat Callahan, because the more passionate one is about that information, while the passion is admirable, the opinion is perceived by those who do not share it as, well…ridiculous. And if the fan is obsessive and inflexible, they come across as an asshole. That’s where toxic fandom festers. I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m so right that I have to attack you to prove how wrong you are… etc, etc.)
We’re Living in a Golden Age of Romance Games (Waypoint, Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows)
A short history of the evolution of romance games in the 2010s as they expanded to be both stranger, more creative, and more inclusive.
Hatoful Boyfriend—a dating sim where you romance pigeons—gained notoriety because of its off-the-wall premise, but it saw success because it’s a good game. It’s emotionally engaging, surprising, and the artwork is beautiful. The weirdness factor just served to get people’s attention.
What started out as an April Fool’s joke became a game that showed would-be indie developers exactly how far they could go with the genre and still achieve success. “Hatoful Boyfriend showed both commercial-minded indie devs and their publishers [that] A) weird niches are sometimes lucrative, B) romance as a niche might be bigger than initially appeared, and C) humor sells,” says Tanya X. Short, director of Kitfox Games. She would know. She’s currently developing Boyfriend Dungeon, a game where weapons turn into humans that players can date.
Women of Mangaka: Yuu Watase (Women Write About Comics, Tia Kalla)
An overview of Watase’s career, from the early days of Fushigi Yugi to the present.
Like the fight for literal dominance and submission in the world of Amawakuni, there was also a fight going on behind the scenes. In early 2014, Watase wrote a candid post on her personal blog that described difficulties with her editor during an early arc of the story. The editor, who she refers to as “I-san,” wanted the story to go in their own direction, refusing to approve layouts and having Watase redraw whole pages frequently, to the point where it was affecting her already-compromised health. Thankfully for everyone, I-san was eventually replaced with a new editor. Of all the Watase stories and interviews I’ve read, this one stuck out at me not only because it features the (somewhat rare) professional victory of a woman, but that she willingly talked about it in a public post. Watase is easily one of the most approachable mangaka I’ve seen, willing to talk about herself and her works in multiple interviews, but in the era of #MeToo, having a woman’s voice speaking out against systemic power imbalances feels even more important than the woman’s voice she puts in her manga.
Old but new, a Kyoto designer is redefining kimono tradition (The Kyoto Shimbun)
Kawahara believes in modernizing the classic garment, revitalizing it to keep it alive in the fashion world.
Last fall, Kawahara launched her own line of kimono, Mico Parade. She not only designs but also runs a wholesale business, modernizing classic style as she sees fit. “I want people who have never worn a kimono to want to try one on,” she said. “I want them to see it as fashionable.”
Kawahara says many aspire to become designers, but a lot drop out because of the rigors that come with it, like being unpaid while they are in training. Her goal, eventually, is to be able to provide opportunities for talented people.
“If more and more people with different backgrounds become involved, it will only make Japanese fashion that much more attractive. I want to be able to bring in and work with talent in the future,” she said.
The Consulting Analyst – An Introduction to Tiger & Bunny (Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, Vrai Kaiser)
An overview of the series and layout of how the episode-to-episode rewatch will be discussed.
Third, it was famously stated (by producer Masayuki Ozaki, if I’m remembering correctly; the video of this panel seems to have been lost, though I recall seeing it back in the day), that Kotetsu and Barnaby’s relationship was deliberately written to be up to viewer interpretation—in other words, viewing it as a romance is equally valid to viewing it as platonic.
That might sound like a cop-out to a modern reader, but the anime industry is notoriously reticent about including overt queer content in mainstream anime (as recently as Yuri!!! On ICE, Sayo Yamamoto had to put her foot down to have the famous kiss included at all). YOI was a landmark series by a director known for writing queer elements into her shows. T&B was a product of Sunrise (The Gundam Company) and marketed primarily toward an older male audience. It’s frustrating, absolutely, but it is also a goddamn miracle that we received a statement that straightforward.
In light of that fact, these recaps will proceed under the assumption that this series is a love story and discuss the progression of the characters’ relationship accordingly.
Japanese actress who sued director for sex harassment to use redress to launch Me Too group (The Japan Times, Yuri Kageyama)
Chino, the head of a Tokyo-based theatre troupe, will use her group to offer support and legal advice to other victims of harassment.
En Tanaka, a script writer and director at TremendousCircus, noted that sexual and power harassment was common in Japanese entertainment, as almost all directors are male, and there are few acting roles for women.
Chino’s new group aims to stop sexual and power harassment in Japan’s theater, film and entertainment industries, and offer counseling and legal help for victims, with the goal of showing that speaking out comes with no repercussions, Tanaka and Chino said.
“We want to build for the future,” Chino’s lawyer Izutaro Managi said. “This effort should be meaningful for perpetrators, as well as for victims.”
Keep your Q&A questions coming! In the meantime, we have some very exciting news about our Patreon.
We're delighted to announce that on 30th April 2018, Anime Feminist broke even.
We can't thank our patrons enough for bringing us to this point. Now we can be more ambitious, create more work, pay more creators, thanks to you.
Watch this space for more on our future plans soon! pic.twitter.com/IpU7SuAtXc
— AniFem (@AnimeFeminist) May 1, 2018