This week: Colorism, Yami Kawaii, and Olympic Yuri!!! on ICE Fans.
Caitlin searches for a way to square the revelation that Recovery of an MMO Junkie director Yaginuma is an anti-Semitic human monster with her love for the anime he had a part in.
Dee shares her messy but fond feelings for Fushigi Yugi, a show with both strong failings and considerable strengths.
Caitlin, Dee, and Amelia discuss the biopic about real-life 1800s artist O-Ei.
What’s fallen between the cracks since the anime bubble burst that you’d like to see brought back?
Recovery of an MMO Junkie Director Causes Controversy With Anti-Semitic Tweets (Anime News Network)
A discussion of Yaginuma’s hate speech contextualizing his false claims, discussing major cases of antisemitism in anime, and speaking with several Jewish fans and former fans of MMO Junkie.
“[The comments make] me nervous which creator is going to be “milkshake ducked” next. Most everyone I’ve seen talking about this story is similarly disappointed with the director; I’m sure there are Nazis defending him, but I keep my distance from them,” he said. Baron has co-hosted Passover panels focusing on the crossovers between Jewish-Japanese history, Jewish anime characters both established and fan-canon, and Jewish mythos in works like Evangelion, at Anime Boston in 2012 and 2015.
Nazi iconography appears in anime series occasionally, usually without historical context. Baron elaborated that Yaginuma’s views are considered extreme in a medium that exhibits anti-Semitism usually out of ignorance instead of genuine malice.
“I know, for instance, when the Protocols of Elders of Zion was translated into Japanese, they took in the ‘Jews want to control the world’ conspiracy [from it] but without having the whole historical Christian ‘Jews killed Jesus/are the Devil’ concept, they ironically saw it as an aspirational manual [on Imperialism],” he said.
The Protocols of Elders of Zion is a fabricated anti-Semitic text that originated in Russia in the early 1900s and claims to be meeting minutes of a group of Jewish leaders where they discuss plans for a Jewish world order, overthrowing Christian values, and controlling the world press and economy. The forgery was debunked in the 1920s but nonetheless was translated and spread worldwide with the help of Henry Ford and later, Nazi indoctrination of school children in the 1930s and 40s.
LET’S LISTEN TO ANIME CREATORS FOR ONCE – NETFLIX IS NO SAVIOR (Sakuga Blog, kVIN)
A discussion of Netflix’s working conditions, which lack the content restrictions of broadcast TV but have failed to improve the working conditions of animators.
When asked if there was any difference between Netflix anime and standard TV series, as fans were curious if the recent partnership between the company and studios BONES & Production I.G was a game-changer, Shibata bluntly denied an improvement. He noted that working with them meant there’s no restrictions regarding the depiction of sex and violence, but at the end of the day the schedule was hellish, and that fundamental improvements regarding the treatment of the creative team are still down to the production committees – which Netflix can’t be bothered to change at all. He reiterated that he’s seen no change in remuneration and that even if those titles were to perform well, there would still be no incentives for the people who made them, as the system in place is still the same; barely any studio keeps a significant number of staff as well-remunerated full-time employees, and freelancing at poor rates is still the norm, so the actual hands-on crews will never see an improvement without structural reform. And again, that is something that Netflix doesn’t even attempt to do, no matter what PR words you hear.
Tokyo: Harajuku’s Dark Turn (Style Out There)
A quick look into the Yami Kawaii movement in Harajuku, a reaction to Japan’s silence on mental illness. Content warning for discussion of self-harm and suicide.
Tokyo’s Harajuku street might be most well-known for cartoon characters, sparkles, & rainbows — the hallmark of its “kawaii,” or cute, aesthetic — but more recently a darker subculture has emerged. In an offshoot style called yami kawaii, disturbing imagery of syringes and bandages live alongside baby pink lace and anime characters. We head in to discover who the tastemakers of yami kawaii are — and what drew them to it in the first place.
Thinking About LGBTQ Students, Japanese School Institutes Uniform Freedom (Kotaku, Brian Ashcroft)
The school will allow students to choose slacks, skirts, ties, or ribbons depending on their own personal preferences.
What is the issue are rigid gender definitions Japanese schools typically have regarding how uniforms are assigned and what students are traditionally expected to wear: skirts and ribbons for girls, and ties and slacks for boys.
IT Media reports the newly built Kashiwanoha Junior High is trying to create a more inclusive environment and starting this spring, students have the freedom to mix and match and pick which uniforms best suit them, whether that’s a skirt and a ribbon, a skirt and a necktie, slacks and a ribbon, or slacks and a necktie. Anyone can wear whichever they like.
REFLECTIONS IN THE PUDDLE: AGE-GAP ROMANCES, REGRET, AND LONELINESS IN AFTER THE RAIN. (Isn’t it Electrifying?)
A reading of After the Rain centering on the author’s experience with intense societal pressures on teen girls’ desires, as well as Akira’s forthright pursuit of what she thinks she wants and attempts to fill the holes and disappointments in her life.
Much of Indian culture (and what I believe, Asian culture overall) is firmly entrenched in the value of respect and family. Above all else, these two things come first – before one’s career, before one’s love interests, and before one’s own selfish desires. For girls especially, the humility, humbleness, and docility are emphasized. If you are obedient, quiet, and kind, you’re praised. If you raise your voice, become abrasive, or argue, it’s considered disrespectful. These kinds of actions are hammered into your youth until it becomes a default. As a result, many Indian girls are conditioned with several constant feelings – guilt, self-sacrifice, and fear.
In traditional times with a deeply embedded patriarchal society, these feelings would remain only in the household. Women didn’t have jobs outside of being a housewife or mother to children. Education, politics, and business were all handled by the husband. It was common that any position of power would be held by a man. Even to this day, that remains a fact. While conditions have progressed to the point where women can have stable careers, the ladder remains the same. If a woman wanted to rise in a position, she had to be cunningly obedient for the men above her. She had to keep her lips tightly shut. She had to serve tea. She had to not just do her job – she had to truly excel, to even be considered worthy.
Crunchyroll’s $100 Million Contribution to Japanese Anime (The Hollywood Reporter, Gavin J. Blair)
On Crunchyroll’s start in the business and their more recent financial contributions to various industry projects.
Although anime is still seen by many as having a male-dominated fan base, women now make up half of Crunchyroll’s subscribers, while female fans are now prized in Japan.
“There are more female-oriented shows in Japan these days, as women spend more money on anime-related events,” which are an increasingly important source of revenue, explained Saiki.
Beyond its U.S. base, the U.K., Spain, France, Germany, Russia and Arab nations are all now important markets for Crunchyroll, according to Gao. With 20 staff in its Tokyo office, Crunchyroll’s global head count has now reached 300, including more than 100 at the back-end tech operations in Moldova.
As well as investing in Japanese anime, Crunchyroll is also making the move into original content, but with its own slant.
Women’s Bodies in Manga (Twitter)
A thread by translator Rachel Thorn on the different representations of women’s bodies in shonen versus shoujo.
Here’s a rule of thumb for distinguishing shōjo from shōnen manga: Look at how the bodies of women and girls are drawn. If they look like their bra size is larger than a B, or if they’re showing cleavage, it is probably not shōjo or josei. An hour-glass figure is rare in shōjo. Fuyumi OGURA (小椋冬美) is about the only woman drawing manga for girls and women who made a conscious decision to start drawing her protagonists with voluptuous bodies. This is really rare. As a rule, women who draw large-breasted women are drawing for men/boys.
Miyoshi Umeki, the Oscar Winning Actress, Remains Unique After 60 Years (April Magazine, Ronald G. Mazzella)
A biography of Umeki’s career and the strides she made in mid-century Hollywood.
Despite already being a recording artist who had released several singles with RCA Victor Japan (now a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment) and an actress in two musical films—Seishun Jazu Musume (1953) and Jazz Concert (1953)—Miyoshi still had to conform to the Procrustean mold demanded by Hollywood. For the most part, Miyoshi had to settle for playing small, supporting roles in her film and TV appearances.
Despite these suffocating restrictions, Miyoshi Umeki’s talent shone through in three crucial acting roles. First and foremost as Katsumi in Sayonara (1957), then as Mei Li in The Flower Drum Song (1961), and finally as Mrs. Livingston in the TV Series The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969–1972).
As Katsumi, the doomed bride in Sayonara, Miyoshi acted with such great tenderness (and also sang the theme song of the movie) that the Hollywood Academy members bestowed upon her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1958. As of this writing, she still is the only Asian actress to have ever won an Academy award. For the same role, she was also nominated for the 1958 Golden Globe award for best supporting actress. Consequently, and for the first time, Miyoshi cracked open the Hollywood door that had before been completely shut.
Why The “Glass Skin” Trend Feels Problematic To Me As A Tan Asian Woman (Bustle, Erika Vichi Lee)
A discussion of colorism in East Asian countries and how the “glass skin” ideal stigmatizes darker-skinned individuals.
While these articles appeal to those who want this look, there have not been any voices speaking out about how promoting “glass skin” is problematic to Asian Americans and people who do not naturally meet Western beauty standards.
Whenever some of my friends suggest to go to the beach to go tanning, I think about the times I go back to Taiwan to visit my grandparents, and how they would encourage me to stay the shade I currently am so I don’t get too “dark.” I have realized that, as an Asian American, I will never be completely homogenous to the beauty standards of both of the worlds that I am from.
BONUS: Japanese figure skating team celebrates Yuri on Ice at Olympic games (Polygon, Julia Alexander)
Pair skaters Suzaki and Kihara opened this year’s Olympics with a routine choreographed to Yuri’s instrumental free skate music. Video included in link.
The routine was performed by Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara, who have been dancing together since 2015. The skating duo caught the internet’s attention last year as well when they performed a routine set to Daniel Pemberton’s “Out of the Garage” from thesoundtrack to 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Both Suzaki and Kihara have received a number of accolades in the past for their skating abilities, both as single skaters and as part of a team, but have never won Olympic medals. Team skating, however, is a relatively new Olympic event. It first debuted in Sochi four years ago, according to SB Nation.
We feel your pain about the many great titles that’ve fallen out of print or never got picked up in the first place. Keep putting them out there and keeping your fingers crossed!
Did I go out of my way to make sure this post used a Story of Saiunkoku screenshot so I could very loudly announce the show *I* want to see license-rescued?
Why yes. Yes I did. https://t.co/TTUv3MiL7F
— JoseiLoid (@joseinextdoor) February 13, 2018
Pet Shop of Horrors, would love a new high quality release of it. Would also love a new Banna Fish, with the anime coming would be a good time to redo as a double/triple size volume release to catch us up.
— Emily (@GoGoAtomicRobot) February 13, 2018