Weekly Round-Up, 1-7 June 2022: LGBTQ+ Game Dev Interviews, Women Directors in Japanese Cinema, and a Musical Visual Novel

By: Anime Feminist June 7, 20220 Comments
A blank-faced chibi in a cyclops mascot suit, the great wave painting behind them; their friends stare at them blankly

AniFem Round-Up

Parasociality Killed the VTuber Star

LM Marie looks back at Kiryu Coco’s graduation in 2020 and patterns of fan harassment in VTuber spaces, as well as how fans have rallied together to provide more positive support for their faves.

Strength Unsaid: How Moribito’s main characters normalize gender equality

2007’s Moribito quietly defied the expected gender roles that still plague other shounen works to this day, by starring a warrior heroine protecting a gentle, nurturing prince.

What’s your favorite film sequel to an anime series?

They’re often spectacular, but which ones are also satisfying?

May Staff Recommendations

Over on Patreon, our end-of-month mini-recs of titles we’ve been enjoying is available!

Beyond AniFem

Employees at Seven Seas Look to Make Waves (The OASG, Krystallina)

Solid overview of the basic definition of a union and the United Workers of Seven Seas’ progress thus far.

Seven Seas states it is “the #1 independently-owned manga publisher in the English-language market”, and like other the other manga companies, sales have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. Seven Seas’ size combined with its indie nature make it more understandable why employees there versus the other publishers can or want to organize. Again, assuming that UW7S’ numbers are correct and the NLRB finds no illegal practices on behalf of UW7S, it should be a relatively simple and straightforward process to make the union official. However, a big, specialized firm like Ogletree Deakins can complicate the process and cause delays. Their hiring by Seven Seas “disappointed” UW7S but are still hoping Seven Seas won’t enter a legal battle. Seven Seas, however, states the election involves “more members” than the current supporters and they should “learn about their rights” first.

Of course, then the question of what happens next if UW7S becomes official. Union supporters will say a happier workforce will lead to better produced books, maybe avoiding some of the localization issues the company has had with some of its titles. Anti-union advocates will worry about costs of books rising, fewer releases because of lower profits, delayed production due to strict workhours or strikes, etc.

At the very least, the number of names on UW7S’ website should indicate that a large number of employees are unsatisfied. I’m sure some will say, “Well, they can just find another job!” but the problem with that argument is that either the employees there are left to fill in that void or someone else is going to step into those lackluster conditions.

Anime Boston’s Must-Read/Must-Watch Yuri Panel Roundup (YuriMother)

Round-up of the titles discussed at the panel, from classics to upcoming English releases.

At Anime Boston 2022, I was privileged enough to be invited by Okazu and Yuricon’s Erica Friedman, a certified Yuri legend, to join her on Saturday and talk all about lesbian anime and media. We worked hard to whittle down an overwhelming list of English titles to fit into a one-hour panel. I was nervous going in, but the audience was incredible and I could have sat there chatting with Erica for hours and continuing to share thoughts and stories about our favorite series. However, I know there are lots of people that wanted to were not able to join us in person, and I have never been one to sequester my passion for Yuri. So, I present to you a sampling. Here are some of my picks from Anime Boston’s Must-Read/Must-Watch Yuri Panel.

Click on series titles to open links. YuriMother may make a small affiliate commission from purchases at no additional cost to consumers to help fund future content.

Voices of the Community – Game Devs on LGBTQ+ Representation in Games (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

Interviews with several LGBTQ indie developers.

Throughout the month, queer people and stories have been at the forefront of everyone’s consciousness, with companies using queer individuals to promote their products and brands. But, for many in the community they don’t have the luxury of being able to speak on their own behalf or the safety to be their true authentic selves. Or worse, people from outside of the community will do the talking for them…

While we’re making strides to create safe spaces for folks, there is still a ways to go especially in some nerd spaces and fandoms. The gaming sphere is especially notorious for being unkind to folks who aren’t white cishet men. So I’m glad that more folks are starting to branch out and create their own independent projects.

Dirt cheap wages and no doctor: Foreign trainees’ dreams dashed in Japan (The Asahi Shimbun, Kotaro Ono)

Investigative report on the poor working conditions, low pay, and frequent disappearances of foreign trainees.

The woman had a “specific skills” residency status, and she signed a contract with a shiso, or beefsteak leaf, farmer in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi, agreeing to work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday for 960 yen an hour. Her work commenced in April, but the contract was not honored. After the day’s farm work was finished, a large basket of shiso leaves was brought to her apartment, and she was instructed to pack the leaves into bags.

When she took time doing this, the farmer shouted at her, “No, no, do it faster!” She didn’t like the smell of the leaves, and she started losing her appetite, getting headaches and feeling dizzy. She asked to get a hospital checkup, but was told, “We don’t have time for that.”

After working for three weeks, she had only around 40,000 yen (about $310) left after rent and other expenses were deducted.

Yoshihisa Saito, an associate professor in Kobe University’s graduate school pointed out that the woman’s pay did not match what was stipulated in her contract, and that she was forced to do work that had not been listed in her contract, which violated the Labor Standards Act.

The woman, unable to stand the job of packing shiso leaves, announced she would resign, but a broker in her home country demanded 300,000 yen (about $2,300) from her in compensation, and threatened her, saying, “If you refuse to pay, we’ll report you to the police.”

Right-Wing Party’s Comfort Women Exhibit Sparks Outrage (Unseen Japan, Alyssa Pearl Fusek)

The display, which depicted women forcibly conscripted into sex work as blow-up dolls, is part of a long history of anti-Korean sentiment.

Online reactions to the videos and photos of the exhibit were overwhelmingly angry, especially on Twitter. Users quote-retweeted a Japan First member’s tweet about the event (no longer available due to violating Twitter rules) expressing their outrage at the callous display of inhumanity.

On May 27, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) published a statement criticizing Japan First for “denying the truth of the comfort women issue and desecrating the victims.” [5]. Japan First denied any wrongdoing and had the gall to request an official apology from MOFA. [6]

Japan First has been hurling staunch anti-foreigner and pro-militaristic rhetoric since its inception in 2016. At its first public convention in 2017, Sakurai made a variety of inflammatory statements including, “We cannot have a society that lets foreigners receive welfare while Japanese people starve to death.” [7] Sakurai also founded the far-right, ultra-nationalist Zaitokukai (在日特権を許さない市民の会; Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai) which calls for the expulsion of foreigners, specifically Zainichi Koreans from welfare and other social services.

Japan’s welfare ministry to conduct survey on male sexual trauma (The Asahi Shimbun)

This will be the first time a survey has been given to men specifically as opposed to a general survey on violence given to all genders.

In the last such survey released in 2021, which was conducted during November to December 2020, there were 1,635 male respondents.

Of those, 1.0 percent, or 17 boys or men, responded that they had been coerced into sexual activity, with abusers ranging from people they met at school to complete strangers.

Of the male victims, 12 did not seek help, stating reasons such as “I can get through this somehow by enduring,” “I thought it would be useless even if I sought help,” “I did not want to involve other people,” and “I didn’t know to whom and where to turn for advice or help.”

Support centers, some established by municipal governments, want to encourage men to seek help.

“I don’t want them (male victims) to blame themselves. No one knows what to do when (a sexual assault) happens suddenly,” said an official of the Fukuoka Victim Support Center in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Women Directors in Contemporary Japanese Cinema (The Japan Foundation, Colleen A. Laird PhD)

Registration for a free lecture on June 9th or a VOD for several days afterward.

In the mid-2000s, there was an unprecedented boom of women making commercial films in Japan, many winning awards at independent film festivals and securing screenings around the world. In this conversation, Dr. Laird will discuss the emergence of women directors in early 21st century Japanese cinema industries and introduce prominent directors who have been successful in both domestic and international markets. She will discuss the various factors that supported a new career pathway for women in film, as well as ongoing barriers that pose difficulties for continued success.

Register for this event to receive a link to view the presentation anytime between Thursday, June 9, 7:00 PM (ET) and Sunday, June 12, 7:00 PM (ET).

Why Do Lesbians Love Nana? (Anime Herald, Kris Busch)

On the intense emotional bond at the center of the eternally on-hiatus series.

Before I finally watched it, I was hesitant to get invested in a relationship between two straight girls. And I was especially hesitant if the show itself was only interested in baiting the audience or pushing tiring love triangles. But Nana centers itself on one incredibly painful and typical lesbian experience: an obsessive, devoted female friendship that ends in heartbreak.

Nana is a 2006 anime based on the popular shoujo manga by Ai Yazawa, the manga-ka of Paradise Kiss. Though the manga is on indefinite hiatus, the anime had its first HD release drop in February 2022. The story follows the converging lives of Nana “Hachi” Komatsu, a co-dependent hopeless romantic, and Nana Osaki, the lead vocalist of punk rock band Black Stones. The girls meet on a train heading to Tokyo. Immediately hitting it off, the pair become inseparable and move into an apartment together.

However, the anime is much more than the misadventures of two cute, spunky twenty-year-old protagonists. What sets Nana apart is its deep introspection into both girls, their relationships with men, and their intense friendship.

TWEET: Announcement of an upcoming Kickstarter to translate the musical visual novel Haunted Obachestra.

THREAD: Regarding the unapologetic racist songwriting by None Like Joshua, a musical act announced for Anime Expo.

Beyond AniFem

Here’s to all your passionate film recs, AniFam.

Rebellion Story! Not only is it utterly gorgeous, it's also an immensely painful breakdown of one of my favorite characters, letting you stew in all her flaws and repressed agony for nearly the full runtime. I even like the ending - I think she's making a terrible mistake, but it's both in-character and not irredeemable - though admittedly I feel that way on the condition that the next movie provides a better resolution for her and Madoka.

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