[Links] 3-9 January 2018

A whole mess of premieres, new manga artists, and Aokigahara.

AniFem Round-Up

[Review] IDOLiSH7 – Episode 1

Another idol boy show, though this one might have enough promise to set itself  apart.

[Review] Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles – Episode 1

If you like food porn, you might have a good time. Everyone else, look elsewhere.

[Review] Laid-Back Camp – Episode 1

A pleasant and mostly nice healing series with good kids.

[Review] Katana Maidens ~Toji no Miko – Episode 1

A battle maidens show trying to be six different genres in a single episode.

[Review] Junji Ito Collection – Episode 1

A low-key start that smartly gives the artists time to ramp up to Ito’s famous stories.

[Review] Record of Grancrest War – Episode 1

DnD-style fantasy that’ll live and die by how it writes its female protagonist.

[Review] DEVILMAN crybaby – Episode 1

Stylish exploitation with a whole mess of content warnings.

[Review] Sanrio Boys – Episode 1

The marketing-driven show is nice and cute, with a central theme about breaking down gender norms.

[Review] Slow Start – Episode 1

Somehow more plastic and fake (and gross) than the actual marketing-driven show.

[Review] citrus – Episode 1

A melodrama about bad people behaving badly that’s depressing because it’s the only big-name available yuri.

[Review] Pop Team Epic – Episode 1

Too relentless and ultimately bludgeoning to really work.

[Review] Mitsuboshi Colors – Episode 1

Good for all ages and happy to let its kid protagonists be (slightly bratty) kids.

[Review] School Babysitters – Episode 1

If you’ve taken care of kids it’ll definitely speak to you.

[Review] KOKKOKU – Episode 1

A competent lady-led thriller with a few warning bells at the very end.

[AniFemTalk] What’s your dream sequel?

We’ve had one made and one announced; what’re you hoping for?

[Review] The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done! – Episode 1

Any promise it has is ruined by the sexualized 9-year-old.

[Review] Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san – Episode 1

Basically the definition of average and perfectly okay.

[News] Anime Matsuri Moves to Silence Vlogger with Cease & Desist

John Leigh, showrunner for America’s second-largest anime con, is attempting to silence discussion of the long history of sexual assault allegations levied at him.

 

Beyond AniFem

Logan Paul Fans Attack Japanese Vlogger Who Responded To His ‘Dead Body’ Video (Huffpost, Kimberly Yam)

Reina Scully has faced a barrage of hate speech since posting her video criticizing Paul’s actions (note: several of the comments are replicated in the article).

In addition to highlighting how dangerously and insensitively Paul handled the subject of suicide, Scully mentions in her video that she’s seen other vlogs of Paul in Japan that suggest he thinks of Japanese people as “caricatures” rather than human beings.

“As a Japanese national citizen who grew up in the U.S. with a green card, there were a lot of times where I was treated as though I was really tiny and I was a child,” she said. “It’s definitely because I’m foreign. … It’s definitely alarming in the worst of ways, and after watching some clips of Logan Paul’s other blogs in Japan … there’s a sliver of what I used to experience of how people used to talk down to me because I was foreign.”

She added that while Aokigahara, which has gained notoriety as the site of many suicides, has been featured in a variety of internet content, it isn’t a tourist destination and shouldn’t be portrayed as such.

“It’s one of our sins, and the internet is glorifying one of our darkest issues,” she said.

INTRODUCING: MORRIS CALLEGARI; WINNER OF NSZR’S FIRST #HYPECONTEST (Noir Caesar)

Manga publisher Noir Caesar interviews its very first contest winner about his art, his new series, and his inspirations.

NSZR: “Which famous creators inspired your work?”

MC: There is a TON! Hayao MiyazakiShinichiro WatanabeSayo Yamamoto, and Don Bluth are my personal gold standards.

However, in terms of inspiring me to pursue something greater, Dwayne McDuffie is my guy. I didn’t realize how much Static Shock affected my life until I was an adult. I even grew out locks when I was younger so I could be more like Virgil.

Reading further into McDuffie’s history and how much work he put into improving DC’s animated programming is extremely inspiring. I hope to have at least a fraction of his greatness.

Roughly one in eight of Tokyo’s new adults is foreign-born, study shows (Sora News 24, Caset Baseel)

About 20% of individuals reaching age 20 in the city are immigrants living in the city, and efforts are being made to be more inclusive to these citizens.

The data also showed that Tokyo’s 104,800 foreign students are 1.7 times the figure from five years ago, while its 6,600 technical interns represent a growth of 3.4 times for the same period. In response to the growing number of foreign residents turning 20 in Japan, some Tokyo communities have begun distributing coming of age ceremony pamphlets printed in foreign languages, or providing pronunciation guides for the Japanese-language flyers’ kanji characters, to promote greater inclusivity at the cultural event. At last Monday’s festivities, Bunkyo Ward counted 300 foreign seijin among the participants, double the amount from five years ago.

In commenting on the increasing proportion of foreign-born new seijin, Toshihiro Menju, a spokesperson for the Japan Center for International Exchange, said that their importance to Japanese society will continue to grow as the country’s declining birthrate produces fewer and fewer young people of Japanese ancestry. “The truth is that without foreigners, Japanese society cannot function, and we must work towards creating institutions so that Japanese natives and foreign-born residents can support that society hand-in-hand.”

A Magical Girl Education: Sugar Sugar Rune (The Afictionado)

A full series analysis of the mid-2000s shoujo manga.

You know what are great? Second-hand book fairs. Regular old second-hand book shops are wonderful too, of course, but an event that stocks a convention centre with pre-loved reading material in the name of charity is a whole new kind of magic. You never know what you’ll find; sometimes trash, sometimes treasure, sometimes something so cheap it doesn’t matter which it ends up being, and sometimes the complete collection of a manga that has otherwise vanished off the face of the earth. For only $4 each. Ladies, gentlemen, and other distinguished guests, today I am talking about the early ‘00s magical girl series Sugar Sugar Rune, one of the many golden children of the now-defunct Del Rey publishing, the series that rocked the “cute witch” aesthetic for all it was worth and then some, monetised the Power of Love, and almost—not quite, but almost—had an incest plot twist. Spoilers for the whole series beyond!

Japanese TV Rings In The New Year With Blackface (Kotaku, Brian Ashcraft)

Comedy team Downtown recently aired a New Year’s special wherein one of their actors spent the duration in blackface.

Those defending Hamada’s blackface often point out that Japan doesn’t have the same racial history as the United States. That is true, but that does not make blackface any less toxic or hurtful.

Japan, however, does have a long history of blackface, which is almost as long as the U.S. history of blackface minstrelsy. As early as the 1860s, Japanese performers were doing blackface after the Americans introduced it a decade earlier. And on the eve of 2018, it continues.

One Twitter user asked McNeil if Hamada’s blackface was “for real” to which he replied, “Define ‘for real’? If you mean, as in ‘not anime’ yes they are real. If you mean, are they on some real ‘we wanna be like white people in 1930s Hollywood and use ‘blackness’ to amuse ourselves and make a profit then yes, real. If you mean are real hateful and malicious, then no.”

Even if this is being done without malice, it does have deep and far-reaching effects.

Who Owns Aokigahara? (Adventures in (Post) Gradland, Lindsay Nelson)

A useful, thorough article on what Aokigahara is, with a focus on underreported elements like the public arm of the park, the funding issues of those attempting to help suicidal visitors, and Japan’s limited mental health resources.

For the past year I’ve been doing research on media representations of Aokigahara inside and outside Japan, and I’ve come across no shortage of these types of videos and articles (I’m not linking to them here because I don’t really want to give them more traffic). Research-wise I’m curious about the ethics of “dark tourism,” the way that representations of Aokigahara feed into non-Japanese people’s perception of Japan as weird / creepy, the debate over who “owns” Aokigahara’s representation (who gets to decide how / if it’s depicted in media), and whether there’s a right or a wrong way to represent a real place where people continue to commit suicide, either in fictional or non-fictional media.

With that in mind, here are some of my observations about Aokigahara and its representation in media, some of which don’t get as much attention in English-language reporting.

Shifting attitudes toward sexual violence in Japan (The Japan Times, Masami Ito)

An overview of the current climate regarding sexual assault in Japan, including the author’s own experiences.

One woman said she felt embarrassed as a woman that Ito had spoken out about the incident, while another woman said she felt sympathy for her alleged attacker’s public plight.

“I was told that I didn’t behave as a woman should behave: I was going out and drinking with a man or I was wearing the wrong clothes,” Ito says. “I was told what goes around comes around and yet I’m talking about sexual violence, not women’s manners.”

In a book published in the 1970s titled “Blame the Victim,” the late psychologist William Ryan defines victim blaming as “justifying inequality by finding defects in the victims of inequality.”

Ryan explains how victims are distinguished as being different from the general population and blaming them serves as a function to maintain the status quo. The psychologist stresses that victim blaming is “systematically motivated — but unintended — distortions of reality.”

Although Ryan was primarily talking about racial and social injustice against the black community, the term is now often used in cases of sexual assault.

The Alt-Right’s Asian Fetish (The New York Times, Audrea Lim)

A dissection of why neo-Nazis fetishize Asian women and how it ties into trends in both American and Nazi history.

In the United States, the model-minority myth grew from Asian-Americans’ mid-20th-century efforts to win civil rights, as the scholar Ellen D. Wu recounts in “The Color of Success.” Previously, Asian-Americans, many with humble roots in rural China, were considered degenerate, subject to lynchings, and forced to live in segregated neighborhoods and attend segregated schools under a regime of discriminatory laws and practices she has called a “cousin to Jim Crow.”

But, according to Professor Wu’s research, Chinese-Americans promoted themselves as hard-working, obedient, family-oriented and able to easily assimilate into American life — traits that are not uncommon in poor immigrant communities, where many have made enormous sacrifices to move to a foreign place.

By the height of the civil rights movement, America was already giving preferential treatment to educated, professional Asian immigrants, reinforcing the idea of Asians as pliable and studious. White politicians co-opted the myth, pointing to Asian-Americans as proof that the right kind of minority group could achieve the American dream.

SNAPDRAGONS AND FLOWER LANGUAGE IN DEVILMAN CRYBABY (Atelier Emily)

An overview of the use of flowers in Crybaby and how it connects to the series’ two queer love stories.

Devilman Crybaby surrounds Miko with colorful snapdragon flowers, in vivid reds, pinks, and yellows. They grow in planters around Miko’s apartment and she is shown frequently watering them. We later learn from rapper Mayuta that Miko planted these flowers herself and has been tending to them ever since.

These snapdragons, that come from Miko, tie into her conflicted nature. Known for both deviousness and graciousness, snapdragons have several incompatible meanings, which has also given them the additional meaning that everything is not as it seems. In Victorian-era flower language, the message of a snapdragon flower changed depending on the flowers with which it was paired. Miko loves and hates Miki.

Pushing for a more diverse dancefloor (The Japan Times, Alisa Yamasaki)

Tokyo’s big end-of-year techno party featured 19 male DJs and no female DJs.

 “Of course skill should come first, but I want people to widen their scope and listen to more female artists in order to get a broader perspective,” Mayurashka says. “Every party has its philosophy and tastes, but there should be more opportunities for women. Many people say they only judge artists by sound and not by gender, but if that were true there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be seeing more equality.”

“I hear people say they don’t want to book artists who ‘aren’t skilled’ because it ruins the flow of the event,” Slows adds. “But, for example, if a techno festival claims it’s the best in the world and only books the highest-quality artists — and if there are almost no women there — we need to think about why, and why it happens repeatedly.”

The one-woman lineup is about as common in Japan as the all-male one, and it’s something all three artists have experienced. In those cases, even when women are booked to perform, the trio agree they aren’t given the visibility their male counterparts may enjoy.

 

AniFem Community

We’ve had a great response to this week’s prompt. Keep holding on to those hopes and dreams, readers.

My first anime was Saturday mornings with Battle of the Planets, the terrible Americanized version of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. I'd love to see it get Netflix's Voltron treatment, but frankly, they are similar enough I don't know why anyone would bother. Conversely: Science. Ninjas. Whose costumes are modeled after birds. There are also a lot of potential pitfalls. I'd love to see them go the Netflix Voltron route of switching one male hero to female, but make it the muscle or the reckless one. They could probably do some interesting things with the villain's species. In the original, the big bad's second in command was a member of an androgynous, shapeshifting, single-sex species. If they gave that species more backstory and perhaps rogue members who align with the team, that would be a lovely change from all the standard two gender aliens in sci fi, as well as some non-binary character who, you know, aren't villains.

I reaaally wish Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun and Akatsuki no Yona would get a second season, as unlikely as that is. Yona especially deserves it, it's such a good adventure series with a great lead and I'd love the see Lili and the other awesome girls animated. As for remakes...Rose of Versailles is really due for one, since it's such a classic shoujo. I also honestly wish they'd redo the first two seasons of Sailor Moon Crystal. Talk about having my patience the opposite of rewarded- forced romance and bad animation abounded. Getting a CCS sequel is neat so far though.

 

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  • Blusocket

    Thanks for the awesome link roundup as always! I was really impressed by this video from Geoff Thew (Mother’s Basement) this week: https://youtu.be/Oz-BjFoVa9o In fixing the arc that’s widely considered the point in Sword Art Online where the quality takes a complete, irreversible nosedive, he makes some great points about how the series’ objectification of its female characters undermines its own internal logic and weakens its themes, and several of the solutions he comes up with grant the show’s women more agency and significance in the story. It’s a nice thing to see from one of the big players on anime youtube right now!