Weekly Round-Up, 1-7 May 2024: Black BL, Mental Health Chat, and KOSA Updates

By: Anime Feminist May 7, 20240 Comments
Nadeshiko grinning and swinging a hatchet

AniFem Round-Up

From Takarazuka to Terayama: The influence of queer theater on Revolutionary Girl Utena

Looking into the queer outsider theatre that Ikuhara drew inspiration sheds fascinating new light on the series.

2024 Spring Three-Episode Check-In

Quite a few shows have taken a sharp turn this season, in ways that are both good and bad.

What’s your favorite romance trope?

Roll around in those feels, readers.

April 2024 Patron Newsletter and Staff Recommendations

Check out what the team’s been up to and the next goals we’re tackling.

Beyond AniFem

Crushed Indie BL Game Review – Cute Awkward Black Boys Catchin’ Feelings (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

A short, sweet game jam visual novel.

Why aren’t there more black boys love games? Because after playing Hummingbird Games’s Crushed I realized that this is the only boys love game I have played where the cast is predominantly Black. As a Black gamer and boys love connoisseur, Crushed is something I didn’t know I needed in my life! Cute, awkward Black boys falling in love is something we need more of in this world… so folks, make it happen!

Crushed follows Corey, a book loving kinda quiet guy fresh off a really messy split with his (lowkey toxic) ex, Ariel. We’ve all been there, and to say Corey is a little worse for wear is an understatement. It’s especially hard to move on when his ex keeps blowing up his phone. So he isn’t really getting the space he needs to sort through his feelings and heal. Luckily for him he has a supportive friend group and the upcoming winter break to kind of chill and reset.

But, life has other plans for Corey. While slaving away at his Retail Hell bookstore gig, he runs into the light skinned man of his dreams, Jacob. Lots of awkward flirting and even more nerdy book debates later and Corey and Jacob seem to have a good vibe going. Corey is down bad for Jacob, but because he’s still dealing with the emotional fallout of his last relationship, he isn’t 100% ready to jump into a new situationship. And Jacob isn’t down for all Corey’s mixed signals… Will Corey get it together and give the budding relationship with Jacob a chance, or will he fumble the bag and strike out in love…again?

It’s cringy, it’s awkward, and it’s so, so real. Romance isn’t just about two (or more) people getting together and riding off into the sunset. It’s about doing all of that while handling your own shit too. From the baggage we carry with us from previous relationships. Our insecurities about ourselves. The awkwardness of making the first move (or the second). The confusion that comes with figuring out if the person you like actually likes you too, or if all the flirting is just all in your head… Sussing out the vibe and really getting to know your crush. Crushing on someone is a lot!

The U.S. House Version of KOSA: Still a Censorship Bill (Electronic Freedom Foundation, Molly Buckley)

Outlines the latest changes in the bill, why it’s a threat, and how to take action.

KOSA’s broad censorship requirements would limit minors’ access to critical information and resources, including educational content, social support groups, and other forms of legitimate speech. This version does not alleviate that concern. For example, this version of KOSA could still: 

Suppress search results for young people seeking sexual health and reproductive rights information; 

Block content relevant to the history of oppressed groups, such as the history of slavery in the U.S; 

Stifle youth activists across the political spectrum by preventing them from connecting and advocating on their platforms; and 

Block young people seeking help for mental health or addiction problems from accessing resources and support. 

As thousands of young people have told us, these concerns are just the tip of the iceberg. Under the guise of protecting them, KOSA will limit minors’ ability to self-explore, to develop new ideas and interests, to become civically engaged citizens, and to seek community and support for the very harms KOSA ostensibly aims to prevent. 

Male sexual assault victims in Japan defy ‘rape myths’ to tell their stories, help others (The Mainichi, Sahomi Nishimoto)

Includes explicit discussion of survivors’ experiences.

Hirokazu Miyazaki, a graduate student at Ritsumeikan University’s Graduate School of Human Science who studies male victims of sexual violence, points out that “male victims of sexual violence are hard to see.”

Misunderstandings and prejudices about sexual assault based on gender consciousness are called “rape myths.” In the case of female victims, a rape myth that serves to defend perpetrators is, “Men can’t help it because they can’t resist their sexual desires.”

Due to the male-dominated social structure, on the other hand, there is a tendency to think that “men can’t be sexually victimized,” and that “women would never commit sexual assault.” And so males often find it difficult to come forward.

Miyazaki pointed out that “victims themselves are bound by the notion that men should be strong, and there are many men who can only talk about their victimization as a ‘story’ about an interesting experience.”

And even when they do confide in others about their victimization, they are often not taken seriously, as was the case with Takeshi. “Especially when the perpetrator is a woman, there is a preconceived notion that it is ‘harmless and even a bit lucky’ if a woman forces a man into sexual acts,” Miyazaki said. “However, studies have shown that it actually has serious consequences for men’s mental health.”

Previously on Comics: Black Josei Press goes on hiatus (Women Writing About Comics, Louis Skye)

Short news update on the indie publisher, whose work is still available for sale in the meantime.

Black Josei Press is going on hiatus, announced founder Jamila Rowser on Instagram. The hiatus begins at the end of this year, and you can find more details about the shop and digital comics availability on the BJP website. Rowser will continue to work on comics, which we are very happy to hear. WWAC recently ran an enlightening interview series with Rowser about comic scripts and we can’t wait to see her in action again. If you’d like to read those interviews, check out parts one, two, and three.

Another reminder that this Saturday, May 4, is Free Comic Book Day. Do try and stop by at your local comic bookstore for free comic books, but also, make a purchase, if you can.

Japan social media battle over anti-bathing posts shines light on mental illness (The Mainichi, Tomofumi Inagaki)

Users connected over struggling with bathing while depressed.

Utagawa himself said he spent about a year without the will to take a bath, with the longest period without bathing stretching to two weeks. “During the really painful times, all I wanted to do was sleep. Of course, I didn’t want to eat, and even going to the bathroom was hard. Taking baths was just not high on the priority list for staying alive.”

People with mental illness were being talked about online in the same breath as those who just didn’t like to take baths or felt bathing was too much fuss. Utagawa reflected, “I’ve always liked baths. During normal periods I have never once thought that getting in the tub was too much trouble. But being unable to summon the energy for basic everyday tasks — that’s depression. I want people to stop making fun of others by just focusing on baths.”

According to psychiatrist Yuichiro Kasuga, head of the Fuchu Kokoro clinic in Fuchu, Tokyo, when depression causes a decline in brain function, it can lead to reduced motivation and increased feelings of fatigue. Even knowing something is necessary, everyday activities become challenging. Particularly in bathing, with its multiple steps, including undressing, washing your body and hair, and then drying your hair, it’s “easy to get discouraged due to the decrease in cognitive function, which makes it hard to organize these actions.”

So, is feeling “bothered by bathing” a sign of mental distress? While Kasuga stated that “not wanting to bathe doesn’t necessarily mean depression,” he advised, “There may be a fatigue buildup. If you’re unable to complete tasks like tidying up and bathing, you should seek medical advice.”

Will We Ever Know Why Anime Get Cancelled? (Anime News Network, Christopher Farris and Nicholas Dupree)

MAPPA isn’t forgiven. Not now, possibly not ever.

Nick: The real insane part is that over 20 years later, the thing that everyone thought happened to Escaflowne ACTUALLY happened to director Kazuki Akane’s original show, Stars Align. That show, which was planned to be two parts, was cut to one mid-production, so the creators were forced to settle with making only half of their story. The show ended on one of the cruelest cliffhangers in anime.

Chris: I’ll still say I prefer the defiant mic-drop they left us with, as opposed to a compromised condensation of the story they intended to tell. As in the link you posted, Akane has considered finding some way to get the rest of the story of Stars Align out, but there’s been no movement since. It’s tragic, and being a fan of that series, I can certainly sympathize with the disappointed fans of Yuri!!! on Ice. These queer boys’ sports anime can have it rough.

Nick: Knowing why these cancelations happen wouldn’t take the sting out in the grand scheme of things. If somebody steals your lunch money, it doesn’t help to know what they will spend it on instead.

Chris: In MAPPA‘s case, we sure as hell know not much of it is going to the animators! sad rimshot

Gallows humor aside, the consolation I can offer is that you don’t have to truly give up. Look at Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, which ended on a cliffhanger and tease for a second season, which was later properly announced. Only then did the Gainax exodus that resulted in Studio Trigger seem to cast the project into purgatory, alongside other productions like Uru in Blue and Gunbuster 3 that were totally still happening!

Survey finds gender bias about jobs rises as kids age (The Asahi Shimbun, Natsuno Otahara)

The survey was conducted in 2022.

Respondents were asked if they thought that “some jobs are suitable or unsuitable based on gender.”

To the question, 46.8 percent of male students and 39.8 percent of female students said, “I agree” or “I somewhat agree.”

Their parents and teachers showed similar perceptions.

Experts pointed out that these assumptions “may narrow children’s career paths and life choices.”

To clarify the actual impact of such assumptions on careers and choices, the metropolitan government conducted a survey in metropolitan high schools in fiscal 2023 and asked the same question.

The government then analyzed 13,312 responses collected from first- and second-year high school students and teachers.

This new survey showed that 65.7 percent of first-year male students said, “I agree” or “I somewhat agree,” while 65.1 percent of first-year female students said the same.

Among second-year high school students, 68.8 percent of males and 68.3 percent of females agreed or somewhat agreed.

Shinzo Abe murder revealing religion’s role in Japan’s child abuse problem (The Mainichi)

The LDP has been revealed to have significant ties to the Unification Church.

In the wake of the former prime minister’s murder in 2022, the government launched its first nationwide survey which found 37 of the 229 child guidance centers that provided answers, or 16.2 percent, addressed to suspected cases between April 2022 and September 2023.

The abuses included parents neglecting to provide medical care for their children or forcing beliefs and practices on them, according to the survey which covered “second-generation” followers, or family members of people who are actively involved in religious organizations.

Among 47 cases dealt with by the 37 centers, 19 victims were placed under temporary protection, the survey showed. Around half of the centers said they discovered the problems because the victims themselves sought help.

“Religious abuses tend not to surface unless victims come forward, so it is urgent to create an environment in which children are able to issue an SOS,” said an official of the Children and Families Agency in charge of the survey.

VIDEO: Tribute to Skip & Loafer’s Nao-chan.

VIDEO: An Intro to BL Gaming with Special Guest: Blerdy Otome.

AniFem Community

Good set of warm fuzzies this week, everyone.

"Enemies to lovers" I guess, based on how much I enjoyed that in both Card Captor Sakura (Sakura x Syaoran) and Princess Tutu (Ahiru x Fakir). Though whether they're really enemies or just bitter rivals at first is up to everyone's own interpretation, I suppose.  Couple that with "slow burn", one that actually progresses at steady yet also realistic pace (again, this also applies to the aforementioned couples). Because there are stories that milk that for way too long. But overall, just pace it believably; far too many movies fail to sell their romance to me when the main couple goes from total strangers to passionately kissing lovers in the span of few days. Most of which are spent saving the world and whatnot, instead of getting to know each other properly - one little heart to heart moment to expose a sad backstory (or two) isn't enough on its own, far from it.  In that regard, I think video games and anime series have spoiled me a little, because their longer formats allow them more time to develop their love stories. Whereas movies have to squeeze theirs, together with everything else, in the span of 1-2 hours or so. But that's what sequels are for, I'd say. Turn your characters into lovers there instead of speedrunning it poorly in the first movie.
When Person A is sick and Person B comes round to make them food. Especially if that person is so used to taking care of others, and has never had someone take care of THEM. Examples off the top of my head include Kyo to Tohru in Fruits Basket, Kurusawa to Adachi in Cherry Magic, and Chika to Satowa in Kono Oto Tomare.   It's probably because I'm disabled, but the idea of having someone who isn't your relative drop everything just to help care for you makes me cry.

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