This week: Amanchu and anxiety, the origins of “Is this a pigeon?,” and female otaku’s important financial contributions to the industry.
Stephanie Gertsch discusses the sexist implications of the rival trope and how Rue’s character avoids them by being fully rounded and an eventual friend to the “pure” protagonist in addition to having her own arc.
Geordi Demorest compares the original CCS to the new series and how Clear Card has severely downplayed the queer elements that were an important touchstone of the original.
The watchalong wraps up with a discussion of police brutality, what M&H means for WOC, and Afro-Latine artists to support.
Since DARLING in the FRANXX has become an even bigger disaster than anticipated, what better shows about gender can you recommend?
‘Money is a Girl’s Best Friend’: Otaku Women Are a Major Fandom Financial Force (Anime News Network, Jennifer Sherman)
A recent book which interviewed several wealthy female otaku emphasized how important women’s financial contributions are to the industry.
A woman identified as “A-san” is a housewife who works part-time and spends her earnings, which are at least 100,000 yen (about US$910) per month, on dōjin activities. A-san explained, “I’m playing a smartphone idol-raising game, but it’s not interesting at all as a game. Still, I might be connected to developing an anime or releasing merchandise through [my in-game] charges.” Though some women are not particularly enthusiastic about the original works themselves that they support, they may willingly contribute “offerings” to support related characters, for example.
“Offerings” of otaku women have come to hold up various facets of the content industry in Japan. Visiting theme parks with an annual pass or following male figure skaters overseas can become pilgrimages for otaku joshi. Some of these women even spend the cost of a luxury car on their hobbies. Through their efforts, female fans can gain satisfaction from becoming like sponsors to the works or stars that they support.
A variety of industries in Japan are taking notice of the impact of the “offerings” from female devotees. An anime industry representative said at the AnimeJapan event in March, “Now, it’s not an exaggeration to say that women are the ones supporting anime content.” The representative noted that otaku women have a high desire to make purchases, and once they become fans, they tend to stay fans.
Single women a ‘burden on the state’, says Japanese MP (The Guardian, Justin McCurry)
The head of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic party commented that women should have multiple children or end up in homes being paid for by “the taxes of other people’s children.”
Kato, 72, is not the first Japanese politician to suggest that women should regard producing offspring as their primary role in life.
In 2007 the then health minister, Hakuo Yanagisawa, described women as “birth-giving machines” and said it was their public duty to increase the birthrate.
Kato, a former vice minister at the agriculture ministry, initially said he stood by his remarks after female MPs branded them sexist. His office later issued a statement in which he retracted the comments and said he had “not intended to disrespect women”.
Finance Ministry officials given training on sexual harassment (The Japan Times)
This training comes in the wake of sexual harassment by a major figure in the Finance Ministry.
Finance Minister Taro Aso had called on the ministry to provide intensive training for senior officials and take necessary measures to prevent misconduct from happening again by gathering the opinions of female employees.
Administrative Vice Minister Junichi Fukuda stepped down last month over allegations that he sexually harassed a female reporter. While the ministry later confirmed an act of sexual harassment by the top bureaucrat, Fukuda denied it.
The Finance Ministry has remained under fire partly because Aso has repeated comments that, “There is no such thing as a sexual harassment charge (in Japan’s Penal Code).”
The remarks by the 77-year-old former prime minister, a close ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, were widely taken as an attempt to downplay the sexual harassment allegations, prompting women’s rights groups to rally in a number of cities nationwide on Monday.
Magical Girl Site Likely Target in Latest BPO Published Complaint (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge)
The complaint is a blind item but bears several similarities to Site. BPO’s complaints about anime range in severity from showing “perverted” characters or sexual content to depictions of sexual assault.
The dark magical girl series Magical Girl Site is likely the latest subject of a view complaint published by Japan’s watchdog group Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO). The complaint, published on the April 2018 opinions page, mentions a late-night anime program that includes “assault against junior high school students and sexual violence” and states that the anime “includes a scene that encourages bullying.” The complaint states that such depictions could reaffirm criminal acts committed by minors and as a program that airs on public broadcasting, the content made the viewer uncomfortable.
production doA‘s Magical Girl Site anime premiered on April 6. The anime’s main character Aya Asagiri is subjected to multiple incidents of violence and sexual assault over the course of the first episode.
From Japan to Harlem, a Gospel Singer Is Born (The New York Times, James Barron)
Former teenage star TiA moved to Manhattan after becoming burned out on her career, but rediscovered a passion for performance via gospel music in her late 20s.
She flew to New York again, this time for good, and after a couple of months in the East Village, moved to the apartment in Harlem. “She was not going to sing,” Kohei said. “She was not here to sing. But her apartment was next door. The walls vibrated.”
The hard-driving gospel sound prompted her to start singing again, but not the choir’s powerful arrangements. “She was not sure it was O.K. to sing gospel because she was not religious,” Kohei said. “She said, ‘I am not ready for that because I am not religious.’”
She tried rhythm-and-blues, signing up for an open-mic night at the Village Underground in the West Village. She received a standing ovation.
Then she endured a long-distance emotional punch: Back in Japan, her dog — a chubby pug named Pom — died.
Six thousand miles away in Manhattan, she cried every day. To cheer her up, a pianist who had appeared with her in Japan came to visit. They went to Times Square. They went to Brooklyn. On a Sunday, the friend said, “Where should we go?”
She said, “Oh, next door. Every Sunday I hear it.”
HIGURASHI NO NAKU KORO NI IS THE UNSUNG FEMINIST ANIME YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING (SyFy Wire, Brittany Vincent)
A pitch for Higurashi as an engaging, woman-focused horror series (beware of spoilers).
Beyond Rika and Hanyu, it’s always women who propel the story. Twin sisters Mion and Shion Sonozaki are part of one of the largest families who reside in Hinamizawa, and they often swap places, which leads to some unexpected circumstances. The quiet yet unhinged Rena Ryuuguu takes matters into her own hands when she discovers a predator (another woman) is trying to prey on her divorced father and take him for all his cash. Where one story ends, one of Higurashi‘s women picks it up and begins again, with most men in the story being relegated to bit parts or supporting roles. Even the villainous and somewhat misunderstood antagonist once endured quite a bit of abuse at the hands of a psychopath as an orphan and clawed her way up to get where she is, no matter what it took.
Time to Revise Japan’s Outdated Nationality Act (Nippon, Tanno Kiyoto)
A history of the Nationality Act and argument of how it should be revised for modern society.
Meanwhile, as noted above, when Japan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1985, it had to amend the Nationality Act to allow mothers as well as fathers to pass on their Japanese citizenship to their children. But the ratification of this convention was not the only consideration behind this change. It was also in keeping with the fact that in Western countries—whose nationality laws Japan used as models for its own law back in the nineteenth century—gender-equal provisions had become the norm. This raised concerns that a further increase in international marriages could lead to problems if Japan remained outside the global mainstream by continuing to hold on to its patrilineal system for the transmission of citizenship to children.
Dual citizenship is not the only area in which Japan’s rules have failed to keep up with global trends. Same-sex marriage is another example. It is now commonly recognized in the West, and here in Asia it has been legalized in Taiwan. If the same-sex partners in an international marriage want to live as a couple in Japan, they face various difficulties arising from the lack of official recognition of their married status, starting with the fact that the non-Japanese partner is not eligible for a spouse’s visa.
Hi, I’m Kara, and I inadvertently helped make a meme. (The Dennison Collective, Kara Dennison)
An on-the-ground history from a translator who worked on the anime that spawned “is this a pigeon?”
At the time, I was bouncing around amongst three different groups doing editing and QC. One, Onmitsu, delivered subtitled oldies with English and Portuguese language tracks. We did a lot of shows from Sunrise’s Brave series (follow this link to read more about that — tl;dr Japan wanted to try doing Transformers).
One was Brave of the Sun FighBird, the second in the franchise and a serviceable little show. I enjoyed it but generally if it has a robot I’ll enjoy it. The protagonist, Katori, was a space alien thing who possessed an android in order to interact with humans. He loved the Earth and wanted to protect it, but didn’t really comprehend it very well. So it fell to the young audience association characters to keep him in line.
Groped, Scared, Disgusted: Stories Of Dealing With Chikan In Japan (Savvy Tokyo, Lucy Dayman)
Seven reports from women who’ve endured being sexually harassed on the train.
More recently, a number of other anti-chikan initiatives have been put into place, including pervert branding stickers put into place by the Saitama Prefecture Police department, and popular warning badges, which were created by a 17-year-old high school student.
But chikan eradication is still a work in progress. As the Metropolitan Police Department’s recent reports shows, 2017 saw 1,750 cases of groping or molestation reported, 30 percent of which occurred during the peak rush hour times of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. The report also states that 51.3 percent of all chikan cases occurred on trains, while another 20 percent happened in train stations. Given the insidiousness nature of the behavior and the difficulty in prosecuting cases, chances are that statistic is far higher.
We spoke to seven women, both foreign and Japanese, who were eager to share their stories in hope that speaking out about the issue would help others find some solidarity in their collective experiences. In the name of full transparency, all the women in this article are personal acquaintances and these experiences have been shared as a response to social media call outs and conversations we’ve had in person. Here are their stories.
Adolescence, Anxiety, and Amanchu! (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)
On how Amanchu handles the experience of anxiety and the struggles of socializing in high school.
Futaba, too, starts to find her feet once she finds something she’s truly passionate about, and someone to be passionate about it with. She frets, along the way, that her love of diving isn’t really hers since she just picked it up from Hikari, but their club advisor encourages her not to think this way. So what if she found her joy through someone else? She’s making it her own through her own enjoyment of it. When you’re figuring your identity out in your teen years, you have to be a bit of a magpie, borrowing and trying out aspects from different people you admire and subcultures you’re interested in, until the best bits boil together and someone recognisable as “you” comes out. It’s not something that will happen overnight, which is what makes your teenage years such a frustrating time.
But you can get through: Futaba joins the diving club following Hikari’s lead and mesmerised by her dedication to it, but by the end of the series—and continuing forward into the sequel Amanchu! Advance—she has found her own passion and her own place in the hobby. By the season finale, she’s beginning to feel truly at home and truly confident in her own abilities, something that was unthinkable for her when she arrived in town at the start of the series. I couldn’t help but be proud of her, in part of course because I could see my younger self mirrored in her so much.
It’s downright heartwarming to hear about all these nice, thoughtful, and challenging series that don’t boil down to ‘the gender police are coming to take our right to heterosexual child-having.” Keep them coming in, readers.
I mean… Rakguo. But for less flawless series Aggrestuko and Yuri on Ice come to mind. pic.twitter.com/sMYteVmS1n
— David Stewart (@Asturiel_LR) May 15, 2018
Every day i wish Shounen note was licensed for how beautifully it handles children and adults confronting gender binary and trans struggles within that. While also being so funny and sweet. A heart and soul of nonbinary magic. pic.twitter.com/n7bYLMajAQ
— chess @ school but Dead (@chessgale) May 15, 2018