Dysphoria, definitions of femininity, and suicide prevention efforts.
Amelia and Caitlin report on the highs and lows of the Texas-based convention
The show not only portrays germaphobia sympathetically but takes the time to explore the nuances of two different characters living with the same mental illness.
Vrai and a panel of trans/NB guests (including Jacob Chapman, Catie Coats, and WS translator Rachel “Matt” Thorn) discuss one of the best-known trans-focused anime/manga.
Share your faves from Miyazaki’s filmography.
Sayo Yamamoto will save anime (for me) (Heroine Problem)
On Yamamoto’s refreshing dedication to writing rounded, authentic female characters.
Sayo Yamamoto bears little outward resemblance to her heroines. She’s reserved and shy, so much so that she wears sunglasses to public events and hates having her picture taken, but also kind and gracious, reassuring me when I was visibly nervous at the start of our interview and waving to me when she saw me on the street later. She’s also endearingly a total otaku dork, doing things like zooming in on characters’ butts during a panel or spending a full half of another panel talking about her favorite figure skaters and clearly fighting the temptation to return to the topic at every opportunity.
(She’s also incredibly beautiful, and I have more than a little crush on her)
However, up close, there’s a noticeable quiet determination in her. In our interview, which may or may not be up by the time this post goes live, she spoke of how Michiko’s complexity and rawness in Michiko and Hatchin was her way of making the show her own, when she had just been asked to make a show about two girls on a road trip, and how the sexuality in her shows is based on experience rather than the childishness of fanservice. Eunyoung Choi similarly spoke of her own dislike of fanservice and moe, and how series made by men tend to have idealized, unrealistic depictions of women. These two women, who are out there making waves in the industry, are devoted writing interesting, complex, and above all authentic female characters.
Japan’s quality bubble explains its flat-lined GDP (The Japan Times)
An opinion piece on the tradeoff of Japan’s stagnant GDP versus its current high quality of living (and the potential costs now in the future).
The Japanese labor market still suffers from the shadow of lifetime employment; there is comparatively little mobility. As Japan has modernized, labor has remained trapped in the service sector; creating oversupply. According to the World Bank, an average global economy has less than 50 percent of its labor deployed in services; compared to Japan at 70 percent.
If service labor is oversupplied, its market must be very competitive. Competition can have one of two effects: either improving quality, or reducing price. Japan has a natural bias toward competing on quality. We observe this anecdotally (think of Toyota cars), but also objectively: traded Japanese goods command a significant premium based on country of manufacture. More broadly, there is a cultural argument at play here: historians have noted the legacy of Japan’s limited farmland has produced a cultural tendency to maximize and refine, rather than over-produce.
Anthology Released for Gender Identity Disorder, FtM Gender Transition Web Comic (Anime News Network)
A slice-of-life anthology focusing on a woman and her trans male husband—a very rarely represented group in anime and manga. (It should be noted that in English language arenas, FTM is no longer a utilized term.)
The anthology, which is the debut work of the author and artist Tamu Ando, is titled My Husband is Too Attractive! I Entered the Family Register of a Hot Guy that Used to be a Woman.
The comic dives into the topics of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and female to male gender transition, giving episodes from the author’s life with her husband and their dogs and addressing gender reassignment surgery, hormone treatments, and LGBTQ issues as the author sees them.
Populism fails to catch fire in Japan (Nikkei Asian Review)
An analysis of why Japan isn’t part of the political upheaval currently going on in other nations—a situation that both quells Trump-leaning populism and significant large-scale agitation for progressivism.
Most importantly, Japan’s failure to nurture a populist revolt reflects its quality of life, which is pretty decent for most people. Thanks to deflation, everyday goods are relatively cheap. The crime rate is low. Basic education is excellent. The streets are clean. The trains run on time. In a book on Japan, David Pilling, the Financial Times’ former Tokyo bureau chief, quotes a visiting parliamentarian from northern England who looked at Tokyo’s throbbing streets and said: “If this is a recession, I want one.”
Younger people like me complain over drinks about the privileges that the older generation enjoyed — a growing economy, lifetime employment, steady wage increases. In reality, though, such complaints are a conversation-starter that lacks substance. After a couple of glasses and a good night’s sleep, it is back to work as usual the next day. Admittedly, I am one of the better off in this rapidly polarizing society. I have a stable job. And for most people, there really is little to be angry about. That leaves would-be populists starved of fuel to fire their movement.
Empathizing with an ideologically opposed film (Thoughts That Move)
An essay on engaging with media that challenges your personal ideology, using Silence as an example. (Also check out Tim’s diagnosis of the current successes and failures in the streaming industry).
As previously stated, storytelling mediums are perhaps the best way to humanize conflicting ideologies explicitly because they aren’t real. Even a story steeped in non-fiction such as Silence works in this regard because we’re watching a writer’s embellished retelling of events that very likely played out quite differently from how they’re being presented (non-fiction is very much fiction, but let’s explore this in future). Through the emotional distance created by blurred reality, we’re able to remove our own code of morals from what’s being displayed and thus role-play. It’s what makes anti-heroes work; by feeling no moral quandary in pretending to be something else for a few hours we can bend our minds to justify somebody’s actions and, if the material is well crafted, come to an understanding about why they are how they are. I may never see eye-to-eye with a religious missionary, but I can understand how their own moral code drives them to believe their actions righteous, such as how my own moral code would makes me feel the same. I came to see them as fallible human beings like the rest of us.
Remembering Izumi Sakai and Zard (Song Selection) (Yatta-tachi)
A memorial to a prominent vocalist who passed away tragically young.
Zard was very successful in Japan. The band had numerous hits that sold many copies. As the other original members left one by one, Sakai remained until the end. Thus, Izumi Sakai and Zard are very much the same in terms of public appearance.
Sakai was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2006 and had been going treatment up till her untimely death. In Late May 2007, she fell while taking an early morning walk at Keio University Hospital. Someone found her unconscious and she was rushed for emergency treatment. Unfortunately, she passed away the next day due to head injuries. Izumi Sakai had celebrated her 40th birthday a few months prior.
What is Femininity? Western and Japanese Women Weigh In (Savvy Tokyo)
A survey of Western and Japanese women asked to define “femininity.”
“My mother always told me I could be anything that I wanted to be, but that was a lie. If I said I wanted to be a doctor, she would ask me ‘why not a nurse?’ When I said I wanted to be a business woman, she asked me why I didn’t want to be a mommy. I know it was just her generation that was raised like that, but it really made me feel like I couldn’t ever be anything I wanted, not really. I ended up getting married soon after university and having kids right away, which made my parents and in-laws happy, and I’ve been a housewife ever since, but when I see the life my brother has lead, all the travel and excitement he’s lived, I find myself desperately wishing that I could do my life over again as a man instead.” (Aiko, 35, Japanese)
“Is it any wonder that Japanese women today want careers and don’t care about dating or marriage — or men in general? Sex is a hassle because all we get out of it is the burden of maybe getting knocked up and having to give up our own identity as a human being, all for the sake of the birth rate? What century are we living in?” (Momo, 29, Japanese)
Event Report: Flamecon 2017 (Okazu)
A con report from Flamecon, a convention designed to highlight LGBTQ+ fans and content.
I was able to meet Yamino, an artist I was introduced to by Ted the Awesome some years ago on Twitter. I had a lovely conversation with June Kim, who is an incredibly talented artist and creator of Tokyopop’s manga 12 Days. She’s working on food comics these day that look super fun and tasty. Take a look on her site for some examples.
Northwest Press was repped by owner Zan Christensen, who always has a bunch of exciting new projects on the stove. I enjoyed working with him for Absolute Power!: Tales of Queer Villainy and hope to work with him again. He and I agreed that for a hotel full of queer folks, the drama level at Flamecon was very chill. I ran into a pile of fanart by Janet Sung for Yu Yu Hakusho, with much love for Kuwabara, which made me happy.
Japan on suicide watch as children go back to school (Japan Today)
Celebrities and other public services are attempting to create support networks for students as they face the pressures of the school year.
Some 500 Japanese under 20 years of age kill themselves each year. The teen suicide rate on September 1 tends to be around three times higher than any other day of the year.
This week, popular actress Shoko Nakagawa posted the message “Never die. Live” on Twitter, while public broadcaster NHK created the hashtag “On the night of August 31st” to draw attention to the problem.
Singer YuYu Horun, who said he tried to kill himself in primary school, now reaches out to adolescents who feel alienated at home.
“I receive daily emails or letters from teenagers who express the urge to kill themselves or have already made attempts,” he said.
“Many children do not feel love from parents who often do not give it because they did not get it themselves. In many families, communication is insufficient.”
Some libraries are urging frightened children kids to take refuge behind their doors, while Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo said at-risk students should be allowed to skip the first day of school.
Bonus: Fabrickind’s Big Post About Staying Cool at Cons (Fabrickind)
Tips for self-care and watching your health during convention season.
If you have any health conditions or are on medication, consult your doctor.
Some conditions may make you overheat faster, or may change your hydration needs. Certain medical conditions will also change these needs. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
Some more information about heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them:
Remember, no con or cosplay is worth sacrificing your health.
We had a great response to this week’s Talk post. Loads of you turned out to celebrate your faves, and we’re loving it. Keep ’em coming!
nausicaa. She's fearless, a caretaker & pacifist who would risk her life for the good of others. pic.twitter.com/0S2G9z9RYZ
— Anile (@Anilelicious) September 5, 2017
Cathy from ANIMAL TREASURE ISLAND. Ferocious and fearless, but forgotten by many cause she's from an old film!! pic.twitter.com/X5DO4B9xJO
— Mike Toole (@MichaelToole) September 5, 2017
The ever loving Dola, lady captain of a band of air pirates, mother, wife & just the sweetest toughest heroine! pic.twitter.com/YpMGfHY8CZ
— 100% Sunshine Girl☀️🌤 (@DestinySenpai) September 5, 2017
Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle. Her lack of confidence was really relatable when I was younger but now I love her sass & no BS attitude pic.twitter.com/GqIYn7A5EU
— ✨Teri Survived 2019✨ (@teriarchibbles) September 5, 2017
Shizuku from Whisper of The Heart really related to me as an aspiring writer. Not technically Miyazaki, but he did write the film screenplay pic.twitter.com/IiI61c5mNq
— Magical Warrior Latonya P. (@TonyaWithAPen) September 5, 2017
Definitely Kiki. pic.twitter.com/Ic9d1bBoEN
— anna ❄️ (@rose_butch_) September 5, 2017
Chihiro because she's just a normal young girl trying to succeed in an absurd situation. I love that she breaks down but still perseveres. pic.twitter.com/RxC1muK3jr
— Amber (@oikatsudon) September 5, 2017
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