Chiaki advocates for more licensed doujins, as these works often create opportunities for marginalized voices and niche interests to find the spotlight.
Michele Kirichanskaya shares her delight at finding a series that offers both a positive reflection of her Slavic culture and queerness within it.
Discotek’s been killing it lately with the classics, so it never hurts to voice your hopes.
Something Like Euphoria (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)
A coming-out musing from a member of the AniFem team.
I remember thinking to myself, “Would you rather they assumed you were a woman?” The reply inside my brain was “I’d rather they didn’t assume anything at all!” It’s been a running joke for a while that when I get my PhD I’ll become Doctor Alex and no one will be able to guess my gender just by looking at my name and credentials.
Again, probably should have thought about if that meant anything. But self-reflection is not one of my strong traits. And a lot of the time, it’s easier to notice discomfort than comfort, that sense of yuck more than that sense of wow! Especially when that’s what you’re taught that gender identity is associated with.
I remember really, really wanting to write and research and explore the gender themes in Land of the Lustrous, but pulling back deliberately because I was cis and thus “not qualified” to speak about such things. Instead of questioning why I might find those themes so intriguing, how that intrigue might be the very thing that “qualified” me. I remember emphasising the power of allyship in my PhD project seminars, how I was writing a story with non-binary main characters because I wanted to create representation and fun art for my non-binary friends and loved ones. I just found it super interesting, you know? The whole possibility of existing outside the borders of man and woman. It’s neat, academically. Conceptually.
How the pandemic devastated this season’s two original anime, even with their carefully planned production schedules.
These two titles did their homework right, avoiding all the early pitfalls that doom most TV anime and setting themselves up for great success in the process. From a purely creative standpoint, and if I pretend that these projects don’t exist further than the product that we can see on our screens, I’d say that they did succeed. The quality of their execution has taken a hit for sure, but it’s one that will go unnoticed by most untrained eyes, and thus hardly anything extraordinary when it comes to anime. And yet, here we are, with recap episodes for the both of them just to have an instant to breathe, and chilling comments by its creators all over social media that illuminate exactly how bad things are.
If you’re wondering how two major titles that did—and continue to do—so much right have led to anime creators used to nightmarish conditions saying that this is some of the most stressful work they’ve ever had to do, don’t feel too bad; we’ve got a Discord full of people attuned to this industry’s nonsense and keeping an eye on its developments, and a whole bunch of them still struggled to come to terms with exactly how screwed their situation is. I know I did myself!
The Fine Print: Lessons Learned from Tokyopop’s Original English Manga Empire (Anime Herald, Priya Sridhar)
A history of how Tokyopop muddied its reputation and took advantage of burgeoning artists.
In plain English, this section states that the contract would grant Tokyopop permission to omit creator names from a work if the format does not allow adequate space. In this light, it is not difficult to imagine a situation in which a reader browsing on a device like a smartphone or an app could find themselves in a situation where they find a work, but are unable to determine the original author.
Such fine print quickly raised concerns, as it could potentially leave the artist with few options for recourse if the deal went wrong.
This exact scenario occurred in 2009. At the time, Tokyopop saw a large swath of its titles, including hits like Sailor Moon, Chobits, and Initial D, revert to Kodansha, who launched their own English translation division the year before. In February 2011, North American The Borders Group, which owned both the Borders and Waldenbooks chains, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In a March 2011 interview with ICv2, Levy explained that “Borders—our biggest customer—went bankrupt, owed us a lot money, which they didn’t pay us, and as a result we are in a very challenging situation.”
Layoffs and resignations would follow, until the publisher’s North American publishing division shut down in 2011. While the Japanese manga creators and companies regained control over their licenses, the OEL creators didn’t.
Episode 54: We Gotta Talk About Blue Flag (But Why Tho?, LaNeysha Campbell)
Spoiler-heavy podcast discussion of the Shonen Jump title.
This week, we finally get to talk about our favorite shounen-ai: Blue Flag. In this episode we talk about the romance of the series, how it captures the authentic and messy relationships of high school life, and ultimately how shonen-ai series like Blue Flag can open the conversation for those learning their sexuality. While we’ve talked a lot about yaoi as a genre, the queer romances often highlighted in those manga are explicit in nature and tend to get shoved into the back of the manga section. But with shounen-ai being distributed through a major publisher like VIZ Media and available on the Shonen Jump app, like Blue Flag, there is an ease of access that can help many looking to see themselves in the medium.
Black hair, white underwear: A battle resumes over Japan’s school rules (The Washington Post, Simon Denyer and Julia Mio Inuma)
School rules demanding students have straight black hair has led to harassment and discrimination for many over the years and continue to be enforced despite pushback.
Miyuki Nozu, a 32-year-old woman now working with refugees, went to a private school that demanded students with brown or curly hair carry certification with them at all times. Eyebrows were regularly checked to make sure students had not plucked them, while socks had to be white and folded three times.
She says the rules make it much harder for immigrant and mixed-race children to feel they belong.
“Schools just assume without any thought that all Japanese people have black straight hair and girls should act a certain way,” she said. “But Japan is not a single-ethnicity nation anymore. Schools don’t realize society has changed and that they are forcing an outdated ideal on students. This proves they have no intention or ability to teach about diversity.”
Nozu said one of her classmates was labeled a “troublemaker” because she struggled to follow the rules, but went on to graduate top of her class at the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts. Still, she said, “there are plenty of people who are repressed and lose their creativity.”
Derivative Content and Property Rights: How Does Fanfiction Work in the Anime and Manga Industry? (Anime News Network, Takumi Furusato)
A look at the legal grey area of selling doujins based on existing works.
Along with the growth of otaku culture, the Japanese government has gradually realized its potential and considered using it as diplomatic policy. In December 2020, a popular professional cosplayer, Enako, was assigned as an ambassador for the “Cool Japan” government initiative.
Since then, she has tweeted several times about property rights on SNS. One tweet read “I’m wearing only original costumes for business, and taking authorization from rights holders when I put on the ones of Anime, Manga and Game characters”. The context for her comment is that cosplay remains a controversial issue for legal authorities. Prior to her assignment, Shinji Inoue, minister of state and the one in charge of the “Cool Japan” strategy, mentioned the necessity of legislation allowing for cosplay on some occasions, such as uploading selfies on SNS and joining events for a reward, because they could otherwise be a violation of property rights. It is interesting that one of the cabinet members working for foreign operation administration in culture is the one who brought this up. As mentioned above, the legal standing point of doujin work in Japan is quite unique comparing with other countries: as long as the doujin creators and performers are following the “unwritten rule”, their activities have been overlooked, at least so far. However, they could face difficulties in the near future with the globalization of the doujin market. Different from the Japanese legal system, copyright infringement under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) doesn’t require a complaint from the victim for prosecution in principle. Consequently, the risk for doujinshi authors and cosplayers could be much higher even if the rights holder wants to tolerate them.
VIDEO: How microtransactions prey on disabled gamers.
TWEET: Live-action parody of shounen fight scenes.
TWEET: Survey request for a master’s thesis involving the most recent Utena translation.
THREAD: Discussion of content warnings for upcoming dark shoujo adaptation Requiem of the Rose King.
THREAD: Info/donor links on a trans woman who suffered abuse in one of Japan’s immigrant detention centers.
Keep those torches burning in your hearts, AniFam.