[Links] 6-12 November 2019: Workplace Glasses Ban for Women, BL for Beginners, and Pokemon Mistranslation

By: Anime Feminist November 12, 20190 Comments
A glasses-wearing boy in a fast food uniform dramatically flinging his arm out while pizza and a hamburger psychically float toward the screen

AniFem Round-Up

[Editorial] AniFem Fundraiser Update: October 2019

Updates on the nearly completed redesign and a glimpse of the final art for donor perks.

[Perspectives] Playing My Song: Queer autistic representation in Given

Alex Richardson shares the importance of seeing one’s intersectional identity onscreen through given’s queer, autistic-coded protagonist.

[Podcast] Chatty AF 102 – Neon Genesis Evangelion Watchalong – Episodes 14-20

The series takes a turn into grimmer territory, and the watchalong newbies have…questions.

[AniFemTalk] What’s your favorite sports anime or manga?

There are plenty of options, not just in different sports but tones ranging from grounded to absurd.

Beyond AniFem

Women in Japan have been told not to wear glasses at work to avoid looking ‘cold’ and ‘unfeminine’ (Business Insider, Ruqayyah Moynihan and Takeshita Reiko)

Women report facing double standards of beauty requirements at work, including being told not to wear glasses.

In Japan, it’s generally good manners to wear a face mask if you think you’re coming down with a cold, to prevent others from catching your illness.

But at Ms. A’s company, even masks aren’t allowed.

Ms. A said: “I was worried that if I got a cold, I wouldn’t be able to go to work. It’d be discourteous to customers [to turn up without wearing a face mask].”

Every employee who works at Ms. A’s department store is female and those are the rules — only salespeople on the floor are allowed to wear glasses, masks, and lower-heeled shoes.

Yet, for male receptionists, wearing glasses is entirely acceptable.

The Best Version of Death Note is a Musical (Fanbyte, Vrai Kaiser)

A discussion of the environment that led to the series’ initial popularity and the improvements made by one particular remake.

The original Death Note is a rather nihilistic work. Noble characters talk about love and sacrifice, but both Light and L dismiss those things as less important than their intellectual battle — and because the writing is so caught up in showing how cool that battle of wits is, it creates an accidental chilling effect for the audience as well: rather than the dissenting voices of empathy against the villain, characters with emotional attachments tend to die for them, either accomplishing nothing or playing into Light’s schemes. And in the end, Light himself is helpless before the fickle whims of Death itself. The extra volume of the manga, How to Read, put an extra flourish on this by conclusively stating that in this universe of explicit supernatural occurrences, human beings still return to nothingness upon death. It’s downright gleefully bleak about the meaninglessness of its world, wherein the average individual is the inevitable helpless plaything of intellectual übermenschen and the gods themselves.  

But because a musical is all about putting characters’ emotions in the forefront through song, the empathetic characters and their arcs are given weight equal to the mental tennis between the leads. Light’s father Soichiro, voice of the justice system, becomes the Fortinbras-esque witness to the final bloodbath. Rem, now a character from the very beginning, becomes the emotional turning point for the entire plot. It’s still a case of pining Dead Lesbians, but in a story where almost every character ends tragically her subplot stands out as the voice of what makes life itself worthwhile.

I’m Picky With My Fan Service (The Anime Tea)

A podcast monologue about the importance of consent and agency in fanservice.

Fan Service can be described as the best and worst part of anime depending on who you ask. This week I talk about the types of Fan Service I hate and some that I don’t really mind, plus a new anime I picked up and some exciting anime updates! Grab your tea and listen up!

Japan’s rising sun flag has a history of horror. It must be banned at the Tokyo Olympics (The Guardian, Alexis Dudden)

A call to ban specifically the Rising Sun flag from the Olympics due to its connection to Japanese imperialism. It received a response from Press Secretary Ohtaka Masato.

It is unsurprising that the South Korean government is first to raise objections to the flag, months into a mutually debilitating diplomatic standoff between Tokyo and Seoul. Since July 2019, a spat over trade restrictions and security arrangements has spilled on to the streets in both countries – Japanese beer sales in South Korea are down more than 97% while Korean-themed art exhibits have been cancelled in Japan – prompting many to declare that relations are at their lowest point since Japan’s occupation of Korea ended in 1945. This has been fuelled by polarised perceptions of the history of forced and slave labour during that occupation, when 800,000 Koreans were forcibly mobilised to work in Japan (among other issues, of course). But South Korea is not the only country where the flag causes offence. The IOC should educate itself before concerns and calls to boycott the games spread to China, Singapore, the Philippines or Myanmar, where millions of people suffered similar violence under the rising sun symbol.

Washington must take responsibility for this situation, too. Its perennial insistence that Japan and South Korea “work out among themselves” their wartime histories perpetuates the split by failing to address how the United States put in place many of the post-1945 problems that have affected the region. The standoff has become so bitter that Washington cannot even maintain a security pact arranged between Seoul and Tokyo to share intelligence about North Korean missile launches. Tokyo appears so confident of Washington’s backing that it willfully disregards Allied prisoner of war suffering during the second world war, just as it dismisses the pain endured by the Koreans.

The Love That Binds Us: A Report from the Kyoto Animation Memorial Service (Crunchyroll, Daryl Harding)

An in-person walkthrough of the memorial for those murdered by the KyoAni arsonist.

The postcard [given to attendees] reads:

“The kind messages and support from all over the world since that day have reached all of our staff, and have been a big help for us to move forward once again.

We lost many of our friends and colleagues with bright futures and were left with many deeply injured. Our grief will not go away, but the love and passion for our works, and the sure breath that existed there, are firmly engraved in us and shall continue to live.

The feelings received from all of you,

the feelings entrusted by our friends and colleagues,

the feelings to our future

—We will connect those feelings and combine these emotions, and we will move forward.

We will continue to create animation for all over the world that help people have dreams, hopes, and impress them.

Please watch over us as we make our advancements.

– Kyoto Animation Co., Ltd.” 

Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! Gets it Right (Unseen Japan, Noah Oskow)

Discussing the many otherizing pitfalls that reality TV often falls into and Queer Eye manages to avoid, reaching an enthusiastic Japanese fanbase.

Cameras zoom in on the striking, idiosyncratic, “weird” corners of Japanese society. They show us maid cafes, hikikomori dens, host clubs, and friend rental companies. Tokyo turns into a city comprised of flashing neon lights inhabited by cosplayers, where every street is actually the Shibuya Scramble. These shows touch upon issues that are genuinely worthy of scrutiny, and yet present these problems with at least a twinge of hard-to-escape orientalism. Isn’t Japan silly and weird, they seem to say, even as they present real issues. Japan becomes a simple staging ground for vignettes of exotic strangeness.

Even great shows and productions often engage in this to some degree. Take, for example, Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain was a personal hero of mine who loved Japan and truly sought to understand it (he visited the country at least 13 times and often called Tokyo his favorite culinary city in the world). Yet, an episode of Parts Unknown set in Tokyo is described by broadcaster CNN as being “in search of the city’s dark, extreme, and bizarrely fetishistic underside…Japan is a paradox.” Even Bourdain engaged in the exoticizing of Japan.

Mutual support website for social minorities in Japan launched by group with same barriers (The Mainichi, Shiota Aya)

The new website offers resources for those with various disabilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations, and the creators are open to adding more if users request them.

Nao, who proposed the idea of launching the portal, developed depression in 2002 when working as a system engineer at an IT company where overnight work and long overtime was the norm. He left the firm after his diagnosis and stopped seeing his friends so he wouldn’t have to talk about his illness. In 2011, Nao went for the first time to a meeting in Tokyo with other people who had depression.

“I had been lonely for a very long time, but (when I went to the meeting) I felt for the first time like I wasn’t alone, and it made me feel a little better,” Nao recalls.

He managed a mutual aid group for people with depression until last year. There, he found himself becoming positive about himself as he listened to other participants’ recovery stories, thinking, “Even if I’m not alright now, I’ll recover someday.”

He received specific advice on how to regulate his lifestyle, which tended to become choatic due to the symptoms and side effects of his medication. It also made him feel like he was being useful to someone when he gave advice to other participants.

VIDEO: Suggestions for those looking to get into BL manga

THREAD: A correction of a recent mistranslated article alleging the new Pokemon protagonist Gou is nonbinary (he is reportedly a cis male character with androgynous traits)

THREAD: A translated news story about a 13-year-old trans student who was not allowed to present male at school

AniFem Community

You gave us sports series for every mood—thanks AniFam!

For me, sports anime are not about the actual sport but giving the series a chance to present challenges to a group of characters. What's most important are those characters and how they interact with each other.

A great example for this is Chihayafuru. I don't really care about Karuta and think it's pretty boring. But the series is great at portraying its characters and their interactions while training or playing matches. That's what counts and makes Chihayafuru such an enjoyable sports anime.

This applies to most sports anime I like, March Comes in Like a Lion, Tsurune, Haikyu!!, Yama no Susume, Ping Pong, Yuri on Ice or Run with the Wind all have interesting characters and are great at portraying their interactions.

There can be exceptions, I e.g. enjoyed Baby Steps but its characters are pretty boring. It's the portrayal of Maruo's steady progress and the psychological and physical sides of tennis that got me hooked.

Lastly, I want to shout out to two classics that might not have aged too well in all aspects but are still very enjoyable sport series (albeit long at 124 and 101 episodes, respectively):

Yawara! is about a girl extremely talented in judo but not interested in a professional sports career. The series is funny and has a good cast of women judoka. How Yawara is tricked into playing judo anyways isn't so great but it tackles talent vs effort and how Yawara struggles with the expectations of everyone.

Touch is about twins and how they struggle to compete with each other, as well as loss and grief in the second part of the series. This was Mitsuru Adachi's breakout hit and remains one of the highest rated TV anime series with 20% - 32% throughout its original run. It's equal parts romance and baseball, with Adachi's signature low-key style, where he's not easily revealing how his characters really feel and always mixing things up, never letting you predict how a mach will play out. Unfortunately, the gender roles are very outdated and there's plenty of humor about leering boys and men.

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