Single mothers in Japan, Mari Okada’s career, and cultural appropriation.
Frog-kun, Lauren, and Amelia detail the highs and lows of CRX.
Our own Dee discusses a recent episode of Princess Principal that devoted its entire story to women supporting each other in the working world.
Amelia, Peter, and Caitlin look back on con season as a whole.
We wanna do something special, and we want to know what you’d like to see!
On the harmful cherry-picking of elements of minority cultures while still othering those groups as a whole.
Demanding an end to cultural appropriation is not — and never has been —about desiring segregation between cultures, though proponents of appropriation make that erroneous claim, too. If anything, our annoyance and anger comes precisely from the fact we are never allowed to fully participate in majority culture when we hew to our traditional clothes, food, music and cultural practices. We are always too foreign, too different, too “other.”
Why are aspects of our heritage only acceptable when white people use (or worse, misuse) them? That is the core of the critique of cultural appropriation: It’s not about “ownership” or hoarding good things from others, but about why we aren’t regarded as good enough when those things are later seen as signifiers of cool to majority culture — yet still aren’t read as “cool” on our skin, on our tables or in our temples.
How Mari Okada Went From Shut-In to Anime Director (Anime News Network)
Tracing Okada’s life from childhood to her upcoming directorial debut. Content warning for descriptions of child abuse.
Okada is a rare exception among anime screenwriters. Through her various original projects, she has been able to express many deep and personal emotions, something that not many scriptwriters have the freedom to do.
This does not mean that she’s had creative control over all the works she’s participated in lately. For example, with Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, director Nagai came up with most of the core ideas, and Okada only became involved with the project a few years after planning for the anime began. (She notes herself that this is the opposite of what her role was like on anohana and The Anthem of the Heart.) Within the industry, she’s valued not just for her original stories but for her ability to polish the ideas of her colleagues.
Still, it’s through her original works that her unique voice as a writer shines. We can see various common themes in the stories she’s written: Family, lost love, an inability to express one’s true feelings. Okada’s skill is weaving her personal experiences into broadly relatable stories. This is probably one of the reasons why she was given the opportunity to direct an anime for herself. I’m looking forward to seeing what a “100% Okada anime” looks like.
Otakon 2017: Interview with Stephanie Sheh (Heroine Problem)
Caitlin got a chance to chat with the veteran voice actor (including, recently, the new Sailor Moon dub).
CM: What do you think anime has to offer young women in particular?
SS: I think that there are genres in anime that have strong women characters, and I think that’s great. I think that it’s not perfect, because a lot of these writers and directors are still men, they present maybe a kickass heroine, they may miss the finer aspects of the female identity in that character. I think that it does offer different types of characters and strong characters. I think that’s great, because in Western cartoons, we’re still dealing with mostly male character leads. In anime, there are more female character leads. And, there are also more subgenres that are geared toward women, like shoujo, yuri, all of that. I think that’s wonderful. While I think the sexual dynamics between men and women in society is not always… there are things about it that I think are not very feminist in a way, or equal, but there are other things in anime that have been at the forefront of discussion. You look at Sailor Moon, and they had lesbian characters on a show that was on TV how many years ago? And only now is it becoming okay here? In the later series with Stars, you have elements that are basically dealing with transgender characters. I think that Western animation doesn’t really touch that. The end of Korra was amazing… but then, it wasn’t on television.
Japan Is No Place for Single Mothers (The Atlantic)
Japan’s society is both socially and economically slanted against women trying to raise children on their own, from difficulty finding work to high hurdles when suing for child support.
Shinobu Miwa, a 45-year-old single mother, found her job as a part-time secretary through a government program called Hello Work designed to help the hard-to-employ enter the workforce. Today, she works five hours a day, but can still can barely scrape together enough for rent, food, school supplies, and other miscellaneous things that she and her 13-year-old son need. “Japan has this image, especially from the government, that every family is going to be two people raising their kids, and that’s the way it is,” she told me, as her son, who is on the autism spectrum, did his math homework in the next room.
The experiences of Miwa and other single mothers in Japan illustrate the problems that arise when divorce rates go up but women’s economic power remains minimal. Divorce has skyrocketed in Japan as women become less likely to tolerate cheating, abuse, and husbands who require that their wives’ careers take a backseat to their own, according to Jeff Kingston, a professor at Temple University’s Japan campus. The divorce rate in Japan jumped 66 percent between 1980 and 2012. In the United States, by contrast, the divorce rate decreased between 1980 and 2012. There are about 1.8 divorces per 1,000 people in Japan, compared to 3.2 divorces per 1,000 people in the United States.
Yamazaki talks about her influences and her work, including some…interesting thoughts on how creative abilities relate to gender.
Yamazaki: I feel that manga is a very equal-opportunity field. You can excel regardless of gender. However, there are some things people who are biologically female are better at drawing and things that biologically male people are better at drawing.
Orsini: What are biologically female people better at drawing?
Yamazaki: I feel that women are better than men at drawing deeper, emotional or mental aspects of the characters.
Orsini: Why do you think that is?
Yamazaki: I’m not sure if this is a biological thing or a gender identity thing, but I feel that women are better at emphasizing. It’s easier for them to see through the eyes of the character.
Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 5 (Heroine Problem)
Getting deeper into consent, gender essentialism, and sexual assault as the existing series go on, and picking up new titles.
The presentation and format of “Romance and Abuse in Shoujo” has changed considerably from its original form, which is what is posted on the website, and my delivery these days is smoother and more practiced, even if most of the information is the same. I’ve added video clips of particular scenes from Boys Over Flowers and Wolf Girl and the Black Prince – there’s no anime adaptation of Hot Gimmick or Black Bird to draw from – and I’ve added a segment on teaching media literacy. The latter is most important, I think, because while I do have younger con-goers who attend my panel, I know there are also older fans who need guidance on how to broach the topic with younger fans in their lives.
Like I’ve said, that panel is my pride and joy. Every time I’ve presented it, I’ve had people approach me afterward to say thanks, to talk about how things are in shows they’ve seen as well, or to share their own experiences. It’s a powerful experience, made more meaningful by how strongly people respond to it.
The manga could potentially be useful as a teaching aid for young students.
The booklet is A5-sized and 34 pages long. The stories are categorized into 4 sections such as lesbian and gay, and recount the experiences of the group’s members during their school days, such as being teased or subjected to discriminatory language by teachers. The book also contains notes on how to best treat others in such situations.
One example introduced in the pamphlet is that of a transgender elementary school student who doesn’t like undressing in front of others for their physical examination being told, “Gross, you look like a girl” by their peers. The book notes, “Everyone is different, so it’s important not to call others gross or other things. Let’s consider how we treat others.”
Nobody seems to know what’s up with this fever dream of a trailer, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye on if it’s as diverse as the trailer seems (even if the writing remains as campy as said trailer, too).
In 2015, Vampire Weekend singer Ezra Koenig tweeted a photo of himself standing beside artist Jaden Smith, captioning it “things are bubbling in the sea beneath 14th street.”
What the two were working on together was a mystery.
Koenig wouldn’t answer any questions about it at the time and Smith never tweeted about it. Now, more than two years later, Koenig has tweeted out the first images for Neo Yokio, a new anime series for Netflix described as a “postmodern collage of homages to classic anime, English literature and modern New York fashion and culture.”
Adolescence of Utena (1999) Retrospective (Overly Animated)
A retrospective podcast on the famously surreal yuri film for its 20th anniversary.
Koreans have previously been targets of Japanese nationalists and worry that abuse will once again escalate due to current events.
Some 453,096 South Koreans and 32,461 North Koreans were living in Japan last year, according to government data. Many were forced to move here during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II.
Japan passed an anti-hate law last year, which may be discouraging fresh acts of abuse against the community, but the issue still needs to be watched, said Moon Gyeong-su, professor of ethnic Korean studies at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.
“When North Korea launches a missile or conducts nuclear tests, for example, Korean schools have been an easy target for bullies and accusations (in Japan),” he added.
We’ve had a few great suggestions on what to do for our anniversary, and we’re hoping for more. Keep the input coming!
How about a podcast about A Woman Named Fujiko Mine? Or Sayo Yamamoto in general?
— Noel Rodney Jr. (@NoelRComedy) September 12, 2017
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