[Links] 30 May – 5 June 2018: #MahouShouJune, Queer Manga, and Japanese Literature by Women

By: Anime Feminist June 5, 20180 Comments
A man jumping in front of a planet earth covered in hearts. Text below him reads "Love and Peace"

This week: #MahouShouJune, queer manga recs, and influential female authors in Japanese literature. (Content warning for suicide, racism, and sexual harassment.)

AniFem Round-Up

[Feature] Helter Skelter: Tackling the horrors of beauty standards

Zodiac River discusses Okazaki’s horror satire about how the beauty industry molds young women to impossible, life-destroying standards and then discards them.

[Perspectives] The fantasy and representation of non-verbal characters in anime

Suryce outlines some positive examples of non-verbal characters that have resonated with her experiences with Selective Mutism.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 56: Ouran High School Host Club Watchalong – Episodes 7-13

The watchalong hits two of the show’s worst episodes (assault! literal feminazis!) and some of its best.

[Review] FLCL Progressive – Episode 1

A coming-of-age story that has the potential to be, well, progressive, but also some warning signs that it could sour it into regressive gender norms.

[AniFemTalk] What’s your favorite coming-of-age anime or manga?

Whether it’s learning about love, sex, or maturity, what makes a good story about growing up?


Beyond AniFem

Face the reality of racism in Japan (The Japan Times, John G. Russell)

An argument that racist attitudes in Japan are not the product of “naivete” but deserve serious condemnation and discussion.

For its part, the Justice Ministry has argued that such statements as “sokoku e kaere” that urge non-Japanese or persons thought not to be sufficiently Japanese (often despite their actual nationality) to return to their “homeland” do not constitute hate speech. Yet the ministry’s own home page displays both “Stop! Hate Speech” posters and a YouTube video on the matter that define hate speech as words that “call for the expulsion from Japan or killing of persons from a specific country.”

Apparently, the Cabinet Office did not get the memo, though as the Moritomo Gakuen, Kake Gakuen and Ground Self-Defense Force mission logs scandals have proven, Japan’s ministries have an uncanny penchant for not keeping track of their documents.

The problem, however, is not confined to the GMS. Social networking services and online forums are also rife with racist and xenophobic vitriol, and any criticism of Japan and the current administration is likely to result in their critics being accused of being “anti-Japan Japanese,” foreign agents and terrorists.


A list of influential works by Japanese female authors from the Heian Era to today.

Female authors had a strong voice in classical Japanese literature says Laura Nüffer, professor of Japanese at Sewanee, the University of the South, but the lit scene of subsequent centuries proved less egalitarian. “The presumption was that a woman would have little of interest to say to a male reader.” Japanese bookstores have, until very recently, kept a separate section for anything written by women, so it’s no surprise that female authors have been underrepresented in the Japanese canon, an oversight that modern scholars are trying to rectify.

This list of works by Japanese female writers spans a millennium and takes on universal subjects from love and grief to war and inequality, exploiting both the notion of “chick lit” and the stereotype of the silent Japanese woman.

Sexual minorities seek recognition of same-sex partnerships from 23 municipal assemblies (Mainichi Japan)

The proposed “partnership systems” would be the closest recourse to marriage currently available for same-sex couples.

The joint move by sexual minorities to have their rights guaranteed is said to be the first of its kind in Japan, and the group intends to make similar requests around the country.

Professor Ken Suzuki of Meiji University, the group’s manager who is openly gay, told a news conference on June 4 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, “I hope that this movement becomes a wake-up call for municipalities and galvanizes the national government.

Kobe principal told to pretend bullying memos no longer existed (The Asahi Shimbun, Yuichi Nobira and Seiichi Nishima)

An internal investigation was launched after a girl took her own life as a result of bullying. The memos naming the girl’s tormentors had been discarded to avoid “troublesome clerical work.”

The girl’s mother said it was clear the cover-up by the school and the board of education stemmed from their determination to hide acts of bullying.

The student was found dead on Oct. 6, 2016.

Five days later, according to the lawyers, teachers questioned six students about the matter, and took notes.

The memos described acts of bullying and named the girl’s alleged tormentors. They were kept at the school.

On Oct. 20, 2016, the board of education set up a third-party committee to investigate the case.

Sapporo issues cards proving LGBT partnerships for use in emergencies (Kyodo News)

The card is meant to be presented in emergency situations, as the recently recognized partnerships were only originally given a single paper document.

The newly-added option is the same size as a name card and bears the name of both partners and the date of issue, and a note asking people to recognize its purpose while acknowledging that it is not legally binding.

LGBT partnerships do not entail legal rights or obligations under civil law in the way that marriage does, but the new card is expected to be used when couples rent accommodation or a partner is hospitalized, among other situations.

Pride Month Manga Thread on Twitter (Okazu, Erica Friedman)

A list of manga recommendations for Pride.

To celebrate Pride Month I decided to share a LGBTQ manga recommendation every day on Twitter. (Disclaimer: Not every suggestion will be manga. ^_^)

We’re up to day 5 and I wanted to give you all the thread link, so you can follow along – and feel free to suggest your faves in the comments – you know I’m always on the lookout for good LGBTQ manga and comics!

Sexual harassment allegation emerges against Foreign Ministry official (The Mainichi)

The accused, who has been suspended for nine months, is the director of the Ministry’s Russian division.

Kono denied that the ministry’s decision to reprimand Mori will affect the country’s diplomatic activity.

Mori was involved in negotiations to secure the return of disputed islands off Hokkaido that have been controlled by Moscow and claimed by Tokyo. In May, he accompanied Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his trip to Russia.

The latest allegation surfaced after the top bureaucrat at the Finance Ministry came under fire for having allegedly sexually harassed a female reporter. Junichi Fukuda, who denied the allegation, stepped down as vice finance minister in April.

High-profile Japanese businesswoman Kazuyo Katsuma announces she is in same-sex relationship (The Japan Times)

Katsuma, named one of the top 50 “Women to Watch” by the Wall Street Journal in 2005, recently came out about her relationship to LGBTQ activist Hiroko Masuhara.

“I kept the lid on my feelings of attraction to members of the same sex,” said Katsuma, who has authored a number of best-selling books. According to her website, more than 5 million copies of her books on work-life balance, self-management and other topics have been published.

“After I met Hiroko, the ice in my heart melted, although it took a few years,” she said. “I hope this interview article will cheer up someone and trigger a change.”

After working for several international companies including McKinsey and JPMorgan, Katsuma has been working as an economic commentator.

Manga Grab Bag: Pride Month Edition (Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, Vrai Kaiser)

Reviews of several manga with queer leads, from classic shoujo to rom-coms to trashy exploitation.

When it comes to tracing the roots of the BL genre, there are two names to know: Keiko Takemiya’s Kaze to Ki no Uta and Moto Hagio’s Heart of Thomas. They gave rise to shoujo tales set in all boys’ boarding schools, following the same mentality as the lesbian pulp trend in America: these are tales of forbidden desire that usually end in death because of cultural or editorial expectation, rare expressions of explicit rather than coded queerness that are both breakthroughs and tethered by the fact that only setting things “right” at the end allows them to exist.

While reading these classic series means taking them in their historical context (Freud’s writings found their way to Japan in the 1920s and made a big splash on 20th century manga). Hagio also used male characters as a way for her young female readers to experience extreme drama with a degree of safety and separation (there are some dynamite essays and notes in this translation release, by the by). So this is a story that is decidedly not made with queer people in mind, but became a doorway to stories about gender and sexuality anyway.


BONUS: Check out the #MahouShouJune tag for some great themed magical girl drawings every day this month!


AniFem Community

Keep bringing us your faves! There’s a good, diverse list going on in the responses.


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