This week: the increasing diversity of Otakon, AKIRA as a criticism of toxic masculinity, and what avenues are best for supporting the anime industry.
Haru looks at the live-action long-runner and how its many incarnations have by-and-large left its female characters on the sidelines.
Translator Kara Dennison discusses the ethical issue of translating older works with objectionable content and how translators can be both honest and respectful.
Several spinoffs were released this past weekend. What would you like to see revived?
Could Patreon Be “Better For The Industry” Than Crunchyroll? (Anime News Network, Justin Sevakis)
An answer to the proposition that rather than supporting subscription models, fans could be as supportive by giving money to individual studios via Patreon. (Hint: They can’t.)
CAN anime production survive only on Patreon funding? No. Not even close. The site Graphtreon tracks top Patreon earners, and the top earner for the last several months is the political podcast Chapo Trap House, which brings in around US$100,000 per month. And after that, it’s a pretty steep drop-off: the #5 earner takes in between $30k and $40k per month. That’s a decent chunk of change if you’re a 1-3 person team making a podcast, vlog or other amateur or semi-professional content, but simply not on the same planet as what actual, professional content needs to raise in order to exist. So, let’s say a studio manages to get enough contributors to pull in $30,000 per month… which, assuming they’re only making one series at a time, comes out to $7,500 per episode? That’s almost nothing.
Digibro also completely ignores the fact that, while most Crunchyroll titles do pay “back-end” royalties based on how many people watch, the vast majority of the money they, or any other overseas distributor, contributes to the production is in the advance payment for the rights, also known as a “minimum guarantee.” These can run from US$30,000 all the way up to US$200,000 PER EPISODE. Crunchyroll then builds in additional payments based on viewership, on top of that.
A mediation on how overwhelming focus on romance and sexuality in fandom excludes asexual and aromantic fans.
So, intimacy by definition is something defined by close, affectionate relationship with another person – in practice, you could also mention that there’s mutual vulnerability in an intimate relationship that leads to deeper bonds of trust. The thing is, none of that is something predicated on the existence of romantic attraction (nor on sexual attraction, for that matter). Intimacy isn’t created from romantic attraction, even if it’s likely to flourish there; and to continually project romance onto any intimate relationship in media IS a negative reflection on how real world relationships are viewed. That may sound like a reach, but surely you’ve heard stories of friends who constantly had to downplay any romantic ties in their relationship – that constant nagging at friends who have to frequently insist that there’s no romantic connection happening falls under the same umbrella.
But.. all of this is also predicated on assuming an entirely allosexual or alloromantic perspective. For someone who is asexual (ace) or aromantic (aro), or falls on either or both of those spectrums, the reality of extreme fandom fixation on romance (and by extension sexuality, since the two are usually viewed as intertwined by most) is that ace and aro perspectives are left with no place to safely flourish. Ace and aro representation in media is already sorely lacking even in comparison to other queer representation; and the few times it does come up, it’s usually treated in a wishy-washy manner, or as an afterthought or joke.
Schools that do offer supportive resources for children often fail to make students aware of this fact; while many schools surveyed are in favor of this support, a minority believe in education for teachers on the subject.
When asked about school-wide programs in the first set of questions, 660 elementary schools, or 79 percent of the respondents, said that they have staff members capable of offering consultations for LGBT and other sexual minority children. The figure was 441, or 89 percent, among junior high schools. However, 69 percent of those schools, or 466 elementary and 296 junior highs, did not inform pupils and students about the existence of such staff.
As much as 80 percent of responding schools answered that school officials and teachers share the understanding that they should offer special consideration for sexual minority children. But only 220 elementary and 103 junior highs that responded, or 26 percent and 21 percent respectively, said they conducted training sessions on that subject for their staff members.
Ladies & The Law: The 1968 Patricide Case That Paved The Road Toward Equality In Japan (Savvy Tokyo, Vicki L. Beyer)
A woman who killed her abusive father led to a re-examination of the existing laws that stated patricide carried a much more severe penalty than any other kind of murder (STRONG content warnings for details of the abuse).
Just a little over two decades earlier, Japan had adopted its post-war constitution, which included Article 14: “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.” The basic principle was that the government should not treat any person as above or below any other person based on traits they were born with.
CA’s lawyers argued that imposing a harsher penalty based on the identity of the murder victim — punishing a child for murdering her parent more harshly than the law would punish a parent for murdering his child — violated this constitutional principle of equality.
Shortly after promulgation of the post-war constitution, criminal defense lawyers had used the same argument in another patricide case and been rebuffed by the Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of the criminal code provision, ruling that Article 14 of the Constitution was merely stating a general principle, while the Criminal Code contained “appropriate concrete provisions as dictated by morality, justice or suitability for purposes.” Even in this earlier case, three of the 15 justices filed strong dissenting opinions.
Storyboards for episode 33 of Revolutionary Girl Utena (Empty Movement)
An analysis of the storyboards for the infamous game-changing episode (CW: CSA).
This is, I suspect, why they chose to use that same road, screaming STOP, instead. The episode is already jam packed with allusions to her loss of innocence, childhood being far away, departed from. This is instead the show letting us know just how unnatural a course of events has transpired here.
What of the hands, then? The road seems to be replacing the amusement park, but their hands clasped are a totally new shot added. I want to say this is to make it abundantly clear what has happened is sexual in nature, and that’s definitely part of it. Even with it, back in THE DAY, people didn’t actually assume they were having sex. Some peak denial there by the early fandom. But I think the juxtaposition of the road and their hands is intended to depict Utena’s conflicted state of mind. The road, what could stand for an awareness Utena has that something has gone terribly wrong here, contrasted with a shot that would be in any other context, almost romantic. Romantic enough that it’s the idea of what has happened that Utena is clinging desperately to now.
Otakon 2018: A Con That Keeps Flourishing and Evolving (Black Nerd Problems, Oona Sura)
A con report focused on the event’s growing diversity over the years.
I have been a long-time convention goer on the East Coast (Maybe for about ten years?!? I am OLD), and what remains a huge part of the con scene is how diverse the audience it. Being held in the nation’s capital, especially at such a politically divisive time in our nation’s history, only emphasizes the struggles people of color and other marginalized folks go through. Here at Otakon, I noticed that we flourish in spite of those who wish to not just tear down those that are different, but those that are actively trying to evolve the communities they are a part of. The nerd community is no different. We each have our own unique stories to tell, whether it be through music, animation, storyboarding, stand-up, or interpretive dance. The ability to have a platform to tell our stories to possibly millions of people is significant, especially when there was a time where many marginalized people were barred from even trying to express themselves.
A petition with 26,000 signatures was recently collected and sent to the LDP.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families submitted about 26,000 signatures to the headquarters of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, requesting that lawmaker Mio Sugita hold a press conference to apologize.
The signatures were collected online for about a month to demand the LDP remove Sugita, a 51-year-old House of Representatives member who has a daughter, if her attitude does not change, and enact a law to ban discrimination against sexual minorities.
Among messages posted on the website soliciting signatures, one person said, “Ms. Sugita should be responsible for her remark, admit her fault and apologize.”
Manga Grab Bag: Trash Vampires Edition (Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, Vrai Kaiser)
Reviews of several manga involving queer relationships or gender play.
What gives [The Case Study of Vanitas] an extra edge are the small ways it finds to play with those common setups: vampire Noé is the one dazzled at everything he sees (I cannot convey how amazingly good he is, y’all) while human Vanitas is the hard-edged secret keeper, the elements of possession genre sparks well with the usual ancient nobility stuff; and the secondary cast adds a great deal of charm, particularly the dhampir detective trio, who have all the fun of the reapers from Black Butler but none of the transmisogyny or overhanging threat of shotacon.
The push-and-pull of Vanitas and Noé’s “I don’t like you, but I’m not letting you out of my sight (because I’m a bit fascinated)” dynamic is the heart of things though; while it remains unclear if their relationship will move beyond subtext there’s plenty of Noé finding himself increasingly entranced in between engaging bits of verbal sparring—and plenty of ominous foreshadowing, basically from the word go, that something bad will be happening to Vanitas at Noé’s hands. It’s prime tragic gays if it follows through to the letter of the law, but it’s not clear how truthful that narration is of yet.
You Called for Me: Masculine Pain and Isolation in Akira (VRV, Gretchen Felker-Martin)
On AKIRA’s examination of toxic masculinity and how it hurts its protagonists.
Just as the frightening physical and emotional changes of puberty deprive young men of connection and intimacy, Tetsuo’s ascent to godlike power ensures that no one can relate to him or ease his pain. Consider our own culture’s views on the transition from boyhood to adolescence. In the space of a few months it becomes a sign of sissyish weakness to rely on one’s mother, an unforgivable sin to hold another boy’s hand, a grave transgression to cry. At the same time, boys’ bodies become stronger, larger—unwieldy vessels for confusing new emotions.
At a time in life when boys need tenderness most, not just from their caretakers but from each other, societal norms snatch it away and makes its pursuit into a mark of failure. The result is young men aching to be loved, filled with overwhelming emotions, and incapable of expressing their needs to such an extent that when those needs inevitably grow unbearable, they seek relief through violence. When Tetuso’s monstrous fetal form seizes hold of his hapless girlfriend Kaori (Yuriko Fuchizaki), perhaps seeking safety in her touch, he crushes her to death. Whatever solace she might have given him is no match for the depth of his long-ignored need.
Is Banana Fish Trying Too Hard To Be Shocking? (Anime News Network, Michelle Liu & Steve Jones)
A discussion of the last several episodes and the series’ penchant for using shock value.
Micchy: I know I grumbled about Yut-Lung being a stereotype earlier, but I do like Shorter and Sing as depictions of Chinese-Americans. While they do place heavy importance on blood ties and family solidarity, their brand of teen rebellion feels pretty distinctly American. At least as American as Ash’s gang, anyway.
Steve: It’s definitely not perfectly executed, but the international and multicultural aspects of Banana Fish are nice to see, and they do set it apart from a lot of other anime.
Micchy: That’s definitely what drew me to the manga back in the day; I’m always interested in stories about first- and second-generation immigrants, which are pretty dang rare in anime. Banana Fish is my personal Crazy Rich Asians, I guess, in that it includes characters of Chinese descent that aren’t just the tired-ass twin-bun Chinadoll or acupuncturist assassin.
The first season of AniFem’s Top 2017 Recommended Series is now available through Amazon and iTunes. Our managing editor is still shouting for a home video release, but here’s hoping this is a step in the right direction!
We all have that one series that left us too soon—so let’s all commiserate together and hope a little in this era of spinoffs and continuations.
Off the top of my head – Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun, Yona of the Dawn, and please, *please* more NORAGAMI! pic.twitter.com/hcG1Rk1pi5
— 「VεεLoΧΧγ・BITΞƧ」 (@The_Episiarch) September 4, 2018
Aoi Hana — leaving it as it is should be a crime.
also an ova or honestly whatever of Sotsugyousei, bc the Doukyusei adaptation was just so good.
for spinoffs: 1 min Nyanko-sensei specials (i.e. tiny loops of him sleeping or eating) are very much needed
— rayzones, 🍂 (@rayzones) September 4, 2018