14-year-old inventors, compensation for panel presenters, and the politics of subtitles.
Marion Bea discusses her love of the series’ (cis) female characters, in spite of its considerable flaws.
Alex Henderson discusses how FLIP FLAPPERS comments on and deconstructs the sterility and temporariness of Class-S stories.
A last hurrah of fun episodes before The Dark Times.
Let’s celebrate those quality queer romances.
“But There’s A Reason It’s There!”: How to Meta Critique (Guest-Starring Land of the Lustrous) (Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, Vrai Kaiser)
A breakdown of how meta criticism—i.e. critiquing not internal logic but how a story works structurally and how it fits into the context of other art. (You can also check out another piece Vrai recently wrote on Land of the Lustrous, subtitles, and Kino’s Journey here).
Almost as important is the fact that the most easily consumable part of internet criticism is the plot hole. Outlets like Cinema Sins train viewers to point out issues in plot logic, flubs, or other technical inconsistencies—things anyone can see if they’re paying close enough attention. It’s a form of deductive reasoning; you take only the information given, and from that information extrapolate a conclusion. This frame of mind means, on the flip side, that if a story is internally consistent a viewer is unlikely to question it on a deeper level.
But meta-critique requires inductive reasoning. Rather than taking the narrative at face value, you must also incorporate other things: how stories are put together; critical theory like feminism, Marxism, race theory and queer theory; trends in a genre or medium in the past, and sociological trends. Taking some or all of those, your job becomes putting stories into a context of where they came from and how they’re received by audiences. It’s tough, it requires a lot of practice and reading, and it’s not as immediately satisfying as saying “the eyepatch was on the other side in the last shot” and feeling briefly superior to the filmmaker.
Take the issue of homogenous thin body types I mentioned with Land of the Lustrous. There are, in fact, theoretical narrative reasons for it. The gems are all standardized because they’re artificial, with each body being identical from the neck down—this is part of what makes the easily modular should they break, since all arms and legs are the same length. The homogeneity of body is part of the collectivism in the gems’ community, and this is worked into how the story is told, and it’s thought out more than many examples of story explainers.
Compensation for Contributors at Conventions (UK Anime Network, Elliot Page)
UK conventions, by and large, do not compensate their panelists (in the U.S., a comped badge is standard). This argues against the “do it for love/exposure” justification.
I strongly believe that panelists should be compensated for the time, labour, and stress that goes into preparing and presenting a panel at a convention. Creating a panel takes many hours of research, asset gathering, rehearsing, revising, and a great deal of mental fortitude. I have presented panels at multiple conventions and even with that experience it still takes an awful lot out of you.
Presenting a panel disrupts your own convention, as you often find yourself missing out on social meetups and panels you are personally interested in – because you have offered to provide entertainment for your fellow attendees. It also opens you up to possible blowback and negative reactions if your panel is perceived as challenging. While I am frankly privileged and somewhat protected in this arena (I’m a tall boring white dude) those who are more vulnerable can take on a great deal of risk when presenting a panel, so I believe that assisting and providing support to them is the right thing to do.
To put this in perspective, the panellist is still having to front the overwhelming majority of costs associated with the convention which include: Travel, accommodation, living expenses (food/drink), time spent preparing the panel and any holiday days taken or shifts at work missed to attend the event. A complimentary badge can make the difference between attending an event and the economics of these combined expenses pushing you away from attending at all.
Before Adapting Your Name Hollywood Needs to Deal With Its Asian Problem (The Mary Sue, Princess Weekes)
The issue of whitewashing still looms large in Hollywood, as well as the fact that many of the anime Hollywood chooses to adapt are rooted in Japanese culture in terms of its themes.
There are some anime in which an adaptation with the type of “Hollywood Diversity” can work, like Fullmetal Alchemist and Cowboy Bebop where the cast of characters are not all coded as Asian. However, there are somewhere the Japanese culture and mythology are at the forefront of the storytelling and erasing it reduces the film.
Dragonball is heavily rooted in the Chinese text, Journey to the West and Death Note was based on Japanese lore and Your Name is tied to Shinto faith and concepts that are unique to anime. This is all likely to be gone when it is adapted because Hollywood will work tooth and nail to avoid casting Asian characters in Asian properties. Hell, even in the Pokemon anime they turned riceball into jelly filled donuts in the original dubbed version because…riceballs are weird?
Even the film Crazy Rich Asians, had to deal with a producer trying to whitewash the main female lead, in a movie called Crazy. Rich. Asians.
Abuse in Shoujo Manga by the Numbers: Week 10 (Heroine Problem, Caitlin)
High point accrual from the subjects this week, as well as a discussion of what it means for a work to “hold up.”
Now, I think the concept of “holding up” is a pretty nebulous one. When you say something “holds up”, does that mean it still resonates with you personally? Does it mean the dated elements don’t cancel out the nostalgia goggles? Does it mean you’d recommend it to new fans? Does it mean the values it expresses don’t totally fall apart by modern standards? It’s pretty ambiguous, and I’ve seen the term applied in all these ways. So when I asked if Mars holds up, I wasn’t quite sure what I would find between the pages.
It was only two volumes out of 15, so I really can’t speak definitively about the whole series. Still I found myself enjoying what I did read just as much, if not more than I did when I was fifteen. The little glimpses I got showed a series that handled the “troubled bad boy” trope extremely well. Rei has a lot of darkness inside of him, and he’s capable of deep cruelty, but he never turns it against Kira. The two struggle to communicate at times and fights break out, but overall their relationship is one of love, trust, and healing. It stands out in my memory as a rare shoujo romance that explicitly touches on consent. However, the story forgives Rei too readily for using homophobic slurs and there’s an “evil bisexual”, which would not fly these days and is plenty enough reason for people to put the book down and never pick it back up. If I were reading it for the first time, I very well might have.
Learning about my mother, and myself, through 2017’s most intimate manga (Polygon, Emma Kidwell)
An excellent essay about Kidwell’s connection to My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, her upbringing as a Japanese-American, and her mother.
The way Nagata captures responses as influenced by cultural upbringing is fantastic. This is evident in the first chapter, when Nagata is sent home by a doctor and told to “take it easy” so that her mental health may recover. Upon finally telling her mother about what her long-standing depression felt like, and that she’d be resting at home, her mom responded: “I thought you were on a break this whole time.” We then see a shocked Nagata, eyes wide with a defeated expression to signify to us the disconnect between mother and daughter.
That kind of dry response is what I’ve come to expect from my own mom as well. It isn’t a lack of empathy … to be honest, I’m not sure what it is. But for the longest time, I just thought this was normal. I didn’t understand that culturally, because my mom and I are different, the way we understand the world is not going to be the same. Age and upbringing are also contributors. In hindsight, this sounds like a very silly realization to have. But this was my norm.
And her norm was passed on through her parents as well. Her parents never expressed verbal love for her or her sister. “My dad has never said it,” My mother tells me over a cup of green tea. “I don’t think he will, even before he dies.”
The final review of longtime Okazu contributor Bruce, who has sadly passed away.
The preceding bit of seasonal froth highlights a curious fact: Oku Tamamushi has clearly made wide gaping mouths his personal artistic trademark. His work is instantly identifiable. This clever branding was a true flash of inspiration, the kind of thing you just don’t pick up in art school (not if it’s accredited). And he really gets to practice his yawning orifices in the 4-koma series Akarui Kiokusoushitsu, Volume 1 aka Cheerful Amnesia, (明るい記憶喪失). The title is honest and accurate. The cover character is in fact a violently cheerful Yuri amnesiac, and that is pretty much all there is to the story. It’s a long a haul to the end of the volume.
Arisa and Mari have been living together for some years. But as the story begins Arisa is lying comatose in the hospital, suffering from a severe case of plot device. When she awakens, she has no memory of Mari or their life together. Mouth wide open she wonders who this lovely, unfamiliar, unsmiling woman is sitting by the bed. When Mari informs her she’s her lover, Arisa’s little brain short-circuits. She blushes, shrieks, squirms, squees, wriggles, and generally provides evidence as to why Mari never once smiles through the rest of the Manga. What Arisa doesn’t do is close her mouth. Not now, not when they head home, not when she sees their big fluffy bed. Not much of ever, actually. Oku Tamamushi has a brand, and Arisa is intent on getting that contract for Volume 2.
Kyoto anime studio’s dedication to nurturing talent leads to big-screen magic (The Japan Times, Matt Schuly)
A snapshot of KyoAni’s recent successes and the studio philosophy dedicated to supporting its artists.
Where does this Kyoto Animation magic come from? The studio’s producers obviously have a knack for spotting raw talent — they gave “A Silent Voice” helmer Naoko Yamada her first directorial job at age 24 — but they also work hard to nurture that talent.
“There’s a refreshing focus on stability and sustainability at Kyoto Animation,” says Mike Toole, a columnist for Anime News Network. “The company treats its artists and office personnel well, and focuses on retention and development.”
This puts KyoAni at odds with the industry at large, which, with few exceptions, hires animators as freelancers rather than salaried employees. Newcomers can make as little as ¥60,000 a month, and 90 percent quit within three years, says Jun Sugawara, who runs a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting young animators.
Hi, I’m Atsumi Tanezaki, a Voice Actress (Industry Interview) (Yatta-tachi, Katy Castillo)
The actress discusses breaking into the business and her biggest roles (in Sound! Euphonium and The Ancient Magus Bride).
It took a really long time before I was able to make my debut. But even after I made my debut, I didn’t get any work for anime dub, which was what I wanted to do the most. So, I was doing games, drama CDs, and other small roles. I was lucky if I had work two or three times a month. I would have to work my part-time job and figure out when I could have those two or three times a month acting jobs.
Balancing those two was really hard because I didn’t know what my schedule was going to be like. I wasn’t getting paid very much so I didn’t have that much money either. There were a lot of times when I thought I should just quit. But, I really wanted to do voice acting. Even if I only had those two-or-three-times-a-month jobs, there are people watching those. Until I got an anime job, I am going to do my best and work. So I overcame it by sheer will.
Iconic Faces: 5 Renowned Japanese Women You Should Know (Savvy Tokyo, Lucy Dayman)
Examples taken from across Japan’s history, hardly complete but varied (from samurai to artists and diplomats).
A champion for human rights, Ogata Sadako was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees between 1991-2000 where she oversaw massive emergency operations in northern Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo and assisted in the rescue and resettlement of internally displaced and vulnerable people during times of crisis.
Born into a politically and socially active family, Ogata’s father Toyoichi Nakamura was a career diplomat and the Japanese ambassador to Finland. Her mother was the daughter of Foreign Minister Kenkichi Yoshizawa and her grandfather was Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi, who was assassinated when Ogata was just four years old.
Throughout her valiant career, Ogata has been awarded countless accolades for her humanity and leadership, including Japan’s honorable Order of Culture in 2003, the Indira Gandhi Prize in 2001 and the World Citizenship Award in 2005, a prestigious award given to individuals who have contributed to a better world in areas such as peace, environment and education. Other recipients of the prize include Nelson Mandela and Wangari Maathai. Ogata is currently the only Japanese recipient of this prize.
With two patents under her belt, Aichi junior high school girl looks to help other inventive kids (The Japan Times, Chunichi Shimbun)
Asuka Kamiya invented a new method of mechanically sorting recycling, a (pending) kit to make the tools widely available, and is looking to help other young people bring their inventions to life.
Next April, Kamiya plans to start selling her patented can-recycling bin. The company collaborated with Hekikai Pack, a cardboard processing company in the same city, to produce a trial kit made of cardboard.
The price for the kit is not yet decided, but profits will be used for the company’s operating funds. Children who purchase the kit can experiment by placing the magnet in different areas and work through the same trial-and-error process that Kamiya went through.
The company is collecting funds to manufacture the kit through the Readyfor crowdfunding service. The goal is to collect ¥1.5 million, and the crowdfunding campaign runs until Nov. 13. The firm plans to gather ideas from other children through its website and sales of the learning kit. Then, with the cooperation of local firms, it will provide support to commercialize and apply for patents.
“I want to support her ideas,” Kamiya’s father said. “I hope that children can cultivate their ability to think.”
Twitter in particular has been an explosion of yuri these past few days. Keep up the good work, y’all.
Nanoha and Fate, they also raise a child together! pic.twitter.com/hmhPMinyz1
— Sephyxer (@sephyxer) November 14, 2017
Subaru and Tsukasa from .hack/SIGN were memorable for me since they actually were the first real canon couple I’d seen in anime at the time pic.twitter.com/DiuDXVX73f
— ✨ Mєℓιѕѕα 🌠 @ Nier Orchestra ✨ (@cuddly_pinecone) November 14, 2017
— ❤️ JoJo Fandom get your shit together 🦋 (@TalesOfColor) November 14, 2017