This week: a yuri label made by LGBT+ women, a tribute to actress Machiko Kyo, and depictions of mental health issues in anime.
Jenna Mayzouni explores the harmful implications of stories about heroines falling for abusive boyfriends and “changing” them with love.
Marina Garrow unpacks Resasuke’s autism-coded arc, and how the series (particularly the English dub) sometimes falls into depicting him as uncaring rather than oblivious.
Vrai talks with BL scholars Khursten and Sara about the roots of the genre and its two biggest mangaka.
Endings are hard, especially for a long-runner. Here’s to the ones that nailed it.
Interview: one night, hot springs Developer kc (Timber Owls, Nadia M.)
An interview about kc’s indie games starring trans women and the state of representation in Japan (and how it’s viewed by the rest of the world).
I think as a minority there are always so many different things you can be angry at and it just wears you down because so little of it is something you, personally, can change immediately. It’s really frustrating that a lot of the things people take for granted aren’t things that you can take for granted, and since most of the people around you don’t have the same issues, it can be hard to find an outlet for those emotions. People tell you that the world is getting better, and of course that’s great – but it feels like it’s taking too long (and people are telling you that you should be happy that you have this much already).
There isn’t often a space for people to just be angry (even though there is a genuine reason to be), so I wanted to give Haru the chance to just let out all the thoughts she’s had but has held back.
I liked that Erika wound up being that space for her. It’s something she can learn from and her struggle with a filter makes her a good person to just let it out with.
I think it’s also sometimes really hard to be that honest with the people closest to you. It feels like sometimes you’re already a burden on your family/close friends for not being ‘normal’ enough (obviously that’s not the case – but it’s hard not to feel that way).
#125: Lynzee – “My ‘Anime Origin Story’ Is #MeToo” (Anime Origin Stories, Lynzee Loveridge)
A poignant essay about being groomed as a teenager by a college anime fan. (CW: Sexual assault)
This college thing, though? Wow! Finally, I had something to focus my interest on after hours of attempting to survive the 8th grade. The club was run entirely by tall college guys in worn out t-shirts, and sure, maybe I was laughed at for bringing my dubbed Gunsmith Cats tape in for consideration. This was a “subs only” crowd, I quickly learned. But this was Saturday night with just myself, a few friends, and no adult supervision. We could be nerds, gasp along with the plot twists of Fushigi Yuugi, try to make sense of Serial Experiments Lain, and laugh along with the Bebop crew. I started to learn other regulars’ names. I attended every single weekend I could for the next year. And that’s how awkward me, barely 100 pounds and a curly bob mop of hair, started chatting with the event’s MC, the guy who introduced each new show before it started, the same guy who approached me at Suncoast.
The guy who for the next two years of my life would coerce me into the role of kept ‘girlfriend’ of a 21-year-old man. A situation that was observed and acknowledged by his boss, co-workers, family, friends, as well as my own family, friends, school administrators, and parents. The resulting effect on me would take years to process from “I agreed to things I wouldn’t have if I had been an adult” to “my entire support network knowingly did nothing while I was abused.” He sat at the table at Thanksgiving. He took me to my Freshman and Sophomore school dances. This was not a sneaky thing that happened in a dark, back room. But, it’d start because I wanted to borrow some anime tapes.
Golden Duo for Life: Sarazanmai and the Power of Turning Subtext Into Text (AniGay, Rebecca Black)
An essay on how Enta’s arc makes the queer subtext of sports anime into explicit text.
At the in-universe level, these daydreams give a heartbreaking window into the ways that Enta himself has internalized the narrative tropes of sports anime as a language of romance. As I discussed in my analysis of the “rivals” metaphor used in Hikaru no Go, this adoption of not-quite-romantic categories to make sense of the intense emotions of an adolescent crush is resonant with anyone who grew up queer in a homophobic society. But because in this case Enta is in fact self-aware enough to pierce through the metaphors and see his own feelings for what they are, these scenes also become a meta commentary on the tropes they’re playing with. And the commentary is not especially subtle: Yes, these stories are romantic. Yes, these characters are queer.
Younger animators still struggling amid anime boom (The Japan Times, Matt Schuley)
Recent surveys revealed more ongoing problems in how animators are paid.
Animators can be roughly broken down into two categories: those who draw genga, or key frames, and those who draw dōga, the frames that come between key frames to increase the fluidity of the animation. Dōga work is generally done by industry newcomers, and serves as a kind of on-the-job training: those who excel at dōga eventually go onto genga and other positions, such as character designer and animation director.
The majority of those in the industry are categorized as either freelance or self-employed — 69.6 percent, according to JAniCA — and are typically paid on a per-project basis. That’s partly why the current anime boom seems to be benefitting genga animators and those in positions above them, says JAniCA Representative Director Yasuhiro Irie, himself an anime director.
“Up till now, people had been getting work on an episode or series basis,” he says. “But the number of titles, and the number of studios, is increasing. Many production companies realize if they don’t put a ‘hold’ on animators, they won’t be able to complete their projects. As a result, animators are now getting offers for longer periods and getting paid through those periods.”
VOX POPULI: Machiko Kyo an awe-inspiring star of Japanese film’s golden age (The Asahi Shimbun)
A tribute to the acclaimed actress, who passed away this week.
She resented being stereotyped as just a “sexy, sensuous actress,” and “Rashomon” was exactly what she needed to show off her acting chops. She would weep softly in one scene, scream with laughter in another and then spit in a man’s face. Her no-holds-barred acting won critical acclaim at home and abroad.
Praising the depth and dimension of Kyo’s acting, Tanizaki noted the following in a column he contributed to The Asahi Shimbun in autumn 1961: “(Kyo) fits perfectly in any period in history, be it now or the Tokugawa, Heian or Tenpyo periods. She can also play to perfection any woman in any classical work, from the ‘The Tale of Genji’ to ‘The Tale of Heike,’ ‘Taiheiki,’ ‘Taikoki’ and works by Chikamatsu and Saikaku.”
Episode 75- Mental Health and Anime (Getting Animated, Destiny Senpai)
A discussion of depictions of mental illness in anime.
This week on Getting Animated we are talking about mental health and anime! [TRIGGERS: Suicide, Depression, Anxiety]
YOU AND I ARE SUPPOSED TO BE CONNECTED — SARAZANMAI EPISODE 5 (Atelier Emily)
An analysis of how the titles relate to the boys’ character arcs.
Tying this back to “should” or “supposed to” in the song lyric, that too implies something that is beyond the boys’ control. The trick is figuring out what truly is out of their hands — Enta can’t force Kazuki to fall in love with him, Toi can’t force his brother to stay — and what they’re willfully ignoring or brushing aside, thereby blaming themselves or others for their failure to connect.
Kazuki takes the position of main vocal in three of Sarazanmai‘s five episodes thus far. It’s no coincidence that for those first two, the episode titles are negative things that belong to the speaker. Kazuki wants to keep lying and it’s stopping him from connecting with Haruka. Kazuki wants to keep taking and it’s stopping him from connecting with Haruka. These both blame Kazuki for his shortcomings that are actively blocking a true sibling relationship with Haruka.
TV network sorry for insensitive probing of man’s gender, sexuality (The Asahi Shimbun, Hikari Mokuta)
The segment involved the hosts asking a series of questions trying to figure out “which one” their interviewee was and touching his breasts.
Given the nature of some TV programs in Japan, it could have been just another borderline offensive segment that poked fun at someone else’s expense and presented as a light joke.
But one of the regular commentators sitting in the studio was not in the least amused.
As the videotaped segment ended and the action moved back to the studio live on air, writer and commentator Koji Wakaichi snapped.
“Asking someone, ‘Which one are you? A man or a woman?’ That displays an unacceptable lack of sense of human rights,” he fumed.
“You should not intrude on someone’s sexuality like that,” the 68-year-old author added. “How dare you air this kind of thing. What were you thinking? As a news show? Seriously, think about it!”
Tweet: An add for a new yuri label made by LGBT+ women
Thread: Donation links for the marriage equality lawsuit.
This week’s question brought out the good, good feels.