REMINDER: This month the team is republishing classic feature articles in order to give the team time to focus on implementing the site redesign.
Megan D. traces josei (adult women) manga’s long struggle for recognition in the West and its newfound success in the digital era.
ThatNerdyBoliviane discusses the historical context of The Count of Monte Cristo and how Gankutsuou explores the novel’s often-overlooked themes of racial identity, class, & injustice.
Caitlin, Peter, and Vrai look back on the summer season.
There are lots of new titles coming and plenty of returning series too.
A Filmmaker Explored Japan’s Wartime Enslavement of Women. Now He’s Being Sued. (The New York Times, Motoko Rich)
The director’s documentary about “comfort women” has resulted in defamation suits from five of the conservatives interviewed in the film.
Diplomatic, economic and security ties between Japan and South Korea have reached their lowest point in years, a rupture that can be traced to the long-raging dispute over what Japan still owes for abuses committed during its colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula, including its treatment of the comfort women.
The conservatives have generally avoided the kind of reckoning that Germany has undergone in atoning for the Holocaust, as they argue that the actions of Japan during the war were no worse than those of other nations, and should not damage national pride.
Many of the most vocal right-wing critics of the mainstream view of comfort women are older Japanese, but a younger cadre of social-media-savvy activists regularly pounce on those who describe the women as sex slaves.
“It is an issue that people get wild-eyed over,” said Jennifer Lind, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and a specialist in Japanese war memory.
Difficulty is about trust and communication, not ‘hard’ vs. ‘easy’ (Polygon, Jennifer Scheurle)
Parameters for shifting the conversation around difficulty, sparked by outrage that Death Stranding includes a “Very Easy” mode.
Celeste an example of a modern approach in contrast to difficulty modes: The ability to choose what defines challenge and comfort for myself is when designers forgo assumptions about players to give them more agency over gameplay styles. Do I feel most challenged by speed? Would I like to change the way the game demands controller dexterity?
None of these are really a question of easy or difficult, only different flavors for how I like to be challenged.
In that sense, I appreciate Kojima’s approach because it is more deliberate about what the mode is, even if the name does not forgo the shorthand approach. Essentially, Death Stranding’s Very Easy mode gives the game more of a cinematic flavor — that’s it. There is an audience among Kojima fans that play his games for exactly that, so it makes perfect sense to include a mode for them.
Recognizing that people experience challenge in a multitude of different ways means that our industry is progressing and growing. The conversation evolves as we talk with each other, even if the only language we’re paying attention to is game sales or reviews. Where we fall short is in how we communicate difficulty; it’s basically a shorthand description of something that is actually a lot more complex than just “this is harder” and “this is easier.”
Hideyoshi acknowledged woman as head of samurai clan (The Asahi Shimbun, Kunihiko Imai)
Two letters written by Hideyoshi have recently been uncovered that acknowledge a woman as the head of the Munakata clan.
Ujisada died suddenly in 1586, the year before Hideyoshi conquered the Kyushu region. Hideyoshi praises the Munakata clan for stopping the Shimazu clan, which was based in southern Kyushu, from heading north. In gratitude, he issued the hanmotsu that same year guaranteeing that the clan can retain its territories.
In the shuinjo, the warlord instructs the Munakata clan to consult with his vassal, Asano Nagamasa, before sending troops to Kyoto.
Both letters were addressed to Saikaku, showing that Hideyoshi acknowledged Ujisada’s wife as head of the Munakata clan.
The Anime Nostalgia Podcast – ep 79: They Were Eleven with Rachel (Anime Nostalgia Podcast)
A podcast discussion of the Moto Hagio sci-fi manga, the Year 24 group, and adaptations of the story.
Returning guest Rachel is back to chat with me about all things related to the anime adaptation of Moto Hagio’s sci-fi shoujo, They Were Eleven! Listen as we discuss why this 80s anime (and the original 70s manga it’s based on) still resonates with us today, and how Hagio’s work was an early introduction to things like classism & gender roles to young anime fans back in the day. All this wrapped up in a cool sci-fi mystery! Since this title is a bit more obscure, we discuss the work relatively spoiler-free up until around the 41:05 mark…after that, plenty of spoiler-filled discussion for those who are already familiar with the work as we dive a bit deeper. Enjoy!
Interview with J-Novel Club’s Sam Pinansky (Okazu, Erica Friedman)
The light novel translating group recently began including yuri LNs in their title selections.
Which is your favorite of the Yuri Novels you’re releasing and why?
SP: Personally I really like Last and First Idol, but I’m biased since I edited it. The author self-describes it as an “existential widescreen yuri baroque proletariat hard sci-fi idol story”.
It’s a collection of 3 scifi novellas, 2 of which won the most prestigious scifi prize in Japan, the Seiyuu Award, in 2017/2018 respectively. These are extremely “hard” scifi stories, with 11 dimensional string theory and aether based gravitational theory and all manner of trigger warnings for gore and body horror, which frankly blew me away when I first read them. As a first work by the author Gengen Kusano, they are completely bonkers. The yuri in them is so stripped down to the bare elements of “yuri” as we know it (the love of one girl for another, in all of its forms), it can be drowned out at times from the noise of planets exploding, but it’s there, and without it the book would be far diminished.
Another podcast discussion of Hagio, this time encompassing a larger swath of her works in English.
In honor of the release of The Poe Clan by Moto Hagio, longtime manga reviewer Kate Dacey (@manga_critic on Twitter) and Shojo & Tell host Ashley take a look at some of Hagio’s shorter works. They talk about how rare and refreshing it is to read a shojo scifi story, Hagio’s influence on the space of girl’s comics, and how the exploration of gender in THEY WERE ELEVEN and A,A’ does or doesn’t align with our modern understanding of gender. If you learn nothing else from this podcast, remember: Iguanas and bulls forever.
Critics lambaste withdrawal of festival subsidy as ‘censorship’ (The Asahi Shimbun)
This withdrawal of funding for the festival, which includes works related to World War II and “comfort women,” follows on the cancelling of an exhibit after several threats were called in.
Taro Igarashi, a Tohoku University architectural history professor who served as artistic director for the Aichi Triennale in 2013, said the latest decision could be considered a doubling of bad precedents for artistic events.
“Some people interfered with the event by making threats over the phone, which led to the canceling of the exhibit,” Igarashi said. “If the subsidy is also withdrawn, that would be a second layer of bad precedent.”
He said it was frightening to have the entire subsidy withdrawn because of criticism directed at one part of the event.
“I believe a restraining force will emerge when planning for cultural events in the future,” Igarashi said.
Michael B. Jordan Talks Anime, Inclusivity in Hollywood, and His Coach Collab (High Snobiety, Jian DeLeon)
Jordan has set his sights on improving diversity in filmmaking and is also involved in making a Naruto-themed fashion line with Coach.
“There’s a whole community lying dormant that has a thirst for seeing themselves in anime, and having characters that represent them so they don’t have to imagine that hard,” says Jordan.
“I think as anime starts to become more and more popular, you’ll start to see that thirst and desire for these characters that look more like the world that we live in.”
More recently, Jordan was hit with a sense of déjà vu when it was announced that 19-year-old Halle Bailey — a black actor and half of R&B duo Chloe X Halle — would be playing the role of Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Numerous fans reacted negatively to the news, only seeing the red-headed protagonist as the white teenager she was depicted as in the original animated film. Jordan points out that there’s a much longer history of black mermaids than white ones, so Bailey’s casting is actually more in line with the Afro-Carribbean roots of the legend.
“If you really want to go back to the history of mermaids, there were African mermaids in African mythology a long time ago,” he says of Bailey’s casting. “Look man — I played Johnny Storm; I know my shit when it comes to all that. It’s something I’m not a stranger to.”
TWEET: A note on the prose choices in SEXILED.
TWEET: Information about an upcoming charity auction for KyoAni.
The stars of the season look to be sequels, but that doesn’t mean new things can’t surprise us.