[Links] 7-13 August 2019: Orientalism in “Enter the Anime,” Cosplay at Otakon, and Mistreatment of Foreign Workers

By: Anime Feminist August 13, 20190 Comments
a standoff in a lavish home library, one girl collapsed on her knees looking toward two near the door. in the foreground, an axe embedded in the floor glints in the light

AniFem Round-Up

[History] Shoujo Manga’s Lost Generation

Megan D spotlights the women who influenced shoujo in the 1950s and 60s, and much of whose work has been lost to time.

[Versus] Decade Apart, Miles Ahead: Lady action heroes in Bubblegum Crisis and Tokyo 2040

Aysha U. Farah discusses action series Bubblegum Crisis and the strides its remake Tokyo 2040 made by focusing on the agency and relationships of its female cast.

[AniFemTalk] Which anime would you like to see an AniFem retrospective on?

The team can’t always watch everything airing, but now and then we like to come back and do a deep dive on recent series.

Beyond AniFem

Fire Emblem Doesn’t Just Need Gay Characters, It Needs Queer Life (Vice, Todd Harper)

A deep reading of both the most recent game and the franchise’s issues with inclusion overall.

But the series has never tried to support a reading that is critical of heteronormativity. Heteronormativity here means emphasizing the unspoken normality of heterosexuality, setting it as a baseline from which everything else is judged by its distance. The series’ relentless focus on lineage, bloodlines, and its invocation of imagined western European fantasy royalty as its central characters doesn’t help this at all, something thatAwakening and Fates drove to extremes with the parent/child mechanic. FE heroes from Marth on down to Byleth are often defined by their blood relationship to some ancient hero, god, or royal line. Three Houses in particular hammers the issue of political marriages and “continuing the line” home over and over again.

Fire Emblem‘s relegation of queerness to “a choice you can make, I guess” while at the same time emphasizing the opposite-gender pairing off of characters is a perfect example of heteronormativity in action. If queerness exists in those worlds, it’s something you add as the player, not something the game’s world provides for you to have a meaningful experience with.

There’s nothing wrong with having a meaningful queer experience in that sort of situation, either; that process is something queer players have likely been doing their whole lives. It can be satisfying for you, but that’s often where it ends. What games like Fire Emblem need to start doing is upping their game on acknowledgement of queerness. It needs to start having a place for queer identity in its game worlds, one that can’t be sidestepped or deftly avoided by consigning it to “well, you could do that.”

‘Enter The Anime’ Netflix Documentary is an Orientalist Attempt to Rebrand Anime (Otaquest, Alicia Haddick)

Netflix’s new documentary both plays on orientalist stereotypes and fails to discuss anime outside of the ones Netflix owns.

In an increasingly global market, as the company invests more and more into the medium, it wants you to associate anime with their brand. Anime is framed as a cool and edgy counter-culture to try and define the medium under the company’s own terms that mingle with the Netflix brand, and if it succeeds at this goal, then Netflix, in turn, can become the home of anime itself. If Netflix is seen as the home of anime, you’ll instinctively seek them out first when wanting to watch something. As much as the documentary says it wants to find out about what anime is, in reality, it wants to decide what is and isn’t anime, disregarding the history of the industry and narrowing down the potential the medium has so that it can be rebranded on their terms. Far from attempting to explore what anime was, is and can be, it wants to own anime and absorb the genre itself, terraforming a malleable art form into a Netflix creation that can be intrinsically linked to themselves.

Interview: Enter The Anime Director Alex Burunova (Anime News Network, Zac Bertschy)

This interview was conducted at the request of the director’s publicist. The answers certainly exist.

A lot of the back half of this documentary seemed like it was assembled from pre-existing promotional materials for Netflix original anime productions, such as Kengan Ashura and Rilakkuma, work that had been made available before in various promotional outlets. Did you work on those original promotional interviews? If not, how did that work from a production angle?
Besides Adi Shankar‘s, we shot those interviews specifically for the Special. The idea was to create a different vignette for each one that had the vibe of each creator. Kengan Ashura guys were a lot of fun to work with. With them – we went to town (literally). Rilakkuma landed itself to a calmer relaxing coverage. Levius team gave us a crash course on 3DCG, although it might have been too technical for some of the newcomers to anime. Ultraman creators talked about their diverse careers…
In the documentary narration, you continually refer to executive anime production staff as “edgy deranged minds” but virtually everyone featured has worked on an entire spectrum of art, including calm and relaxing shows designed to make people feel good after coming home from work. Why was there such a focus on the “edgy” thing?
Yes, anime is very diverse – it can be slow, pensive, romantic, etc. As a newcomer to Anime (and someone more familiar with Western animation) – it’s that edginess that stood out and surprised. I didn’t really see that in Russian and Western animation I grew up on. But we do touch base on kawaii culture and really relaxing animation of Rilakkuma, as well as shoujo like 7SEEDS. The edginess is more of an entry into the world of Anime, something that sets it apart.

Otakon 2019: Cosplay Frenzy! (Black Nerd Problems, Oona Sura)

Highlights from this year’s Otakon.

Otakon has always been another home for me. The familiar faces I see year after year bring comfort as I roam the halls. My conversations touched on the evolving anime culture. With other fans I waxed nostalgic about anime conventions of times past. Returning home, I find myself musing on what we have become. As we twentysomethings navigate the hellish landscape of the real world, reality intersects with our long-lasting love of nerd creations in new and sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful ways. We wonder where we can go from here; growing from the brutalities and the solaces of familiar manga while also facing our complicated feelings at the sluggish social progress of certain anime narratives and tropes. We continue to hope for the best in our communities.

Boruto Writer Ukyō Kodachi Shares Support For LGBTQ Representation in Fiction (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

Kodachi came out firmly against the old adage that non-heterosexual orientations need to be plot point to be included.

Kodachi was responding to a tweet that argued that the reason why LGBT elements don’t tend to appear in anime and films is because of Chekhov’s gun, which is a dramatic principle that states that every story element must directly contribute to the overall narrative. Kodachi wrote: “No, that doesn’t explain it. If that were true, then heterosexual characters would also have no reason to be heterosexual. If you look at my work, there are cases where a character is LGBTQ even when it’s not brought up in the story. It’s the same thing as having a straight character, even when the plot doesn’t delve into it.”

He went on: “Loving somebody is natural, and you don’t necessarily need a reason to portray something that’s part of nature. Wouldn’t you be bothered if someone told you not to write straight characters because there’s no reason for them to be straight? It would bother me. After all, even putting aside sexual orientation, you establish characters by coming up with details about them.

5,160 workplaces broke laws over foreign technical trainees in 2018 (The Asahi Shimbun, Suguru Takizawa)

This follows on at least five years of recorded law-breaking in the ethical treatment of foreign workers.

Some 1,711 workplaces, the largest number, broke the law by forcing trainees to work overtime not specified in their contracts.

Employers at 1,083 workplaces failed to pay trainees for overtime hours they worked.

Other violations the ministry uncovered included 1,670 locations that did not properly ensure the safety of trainees such as at construction sites.

Your & My Secret Manga Creator Ai Morinaga Passes Away (Anime News Network, Rafael Antonio Pineda)

The cause of death is noted as her “worsening health.”

Morinaga was born in Okayama Prefecture, and she made her professional debut with “11-nenme no Megami” in 1993. She then drew a manga adaptation of Naoto Kine‘s Junkers Come Here novel in 1994. (The novel also inspired an anime film in the same year.) She serialized her original series Yamada Taro Monogatari in Kadokawa‘s Asukamagazine from 1995 to 2000, and the manga inspired both a Taiwanese and a Japanese live-action series. Many of her later series — including Your & My SecretMy Heavenly Hockey ClubDuck PrinceThe Gorgeous Life of Strawberry Chan, and The Super Cool Life of Strawberry Chan — received English releases from various publishers.

7 Pokemon That Remind Me of My Chinese-American Upbringing (George Yang)

From Gen 1 to Sun & Moon, a life in Pokemon.

Drampa may look like your run of the mill Chinese dragon, but to me it represents something deeper. In Chinese culture, often times grandparents act as babysitters for their grandchildren while their parents are off at work. And thus, Drampa reminds me of my own grandparents because of its kind hearted nature, as well the fact that it is based off the Chinese dragon Zhulong, which is a creature with the face of an old man and the body of a dragon.

Having my grandparents around afforded the opportunity for my parents to focus on advancing their careers to provide for our family and not worry about my wellbeing back at home. But eventually, my grandparents couldn’t stay any longer and I spent the rest of my elementary school years at a daycare.

On a side note, I absolutely love Drampa’s Ultra Sun Pokedex entry, which says “If a child it has made friends with is bullied, Drampa will find the bully’s house and burn it to the ground.” While not quite as extreme, my grandpa once gargled water into his mouth and spit it at group of bullies who made me cry on the playground.

Tweet: Evangelion manga author Yoshiyuki Sadamoto publicly decried “comfort women” statue on Twitter.

Thread: The Korean manager of Final Fantasy XIV allegedly claimed to use player data to target “SJW users” (full text included in reply, untranslated). This follows on previous reports of anti-feminist sentiment in the South Korean gaming scene.


AniFem Community

It’s great to hear from everyone—both for titles we’ve talked about ourselves and totally new possibilities.

Part of me would really want to see AF do a watch of Gundam Wing. I realize that it's a longer one (you'd likely have to break it down into cours), but considering its largely female fandom, it's one of the few mecha shows that feels like a good fit for the site. With the right mix of old-school fans and newcomers, it could be fun.

While it is unfortunately out of print, a watch-through of The Rose of Versailles would also be neat, especially if it was time to overlap with the release of the manga here the US.

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