Weekly Round-Up, 10-16 May 2023: Entertainment Industry Abuse, Underpaid Older Women, and New Animation Studio

By: Anime Feminist May 16, 20230 Comments
Kana posing with charts and graphs in the background

AniFem Round-Up

The joyful affirmation of plus-sized leads in yuri

There are very few plus-sized leads in manga, especially romantic leads. Patricia C. Baxter discusses two recent titles that not only have fat characters but celebrate them.

Therapy and Hope in the Wake of Disaster: An interview with ‘Tsunami Girl’ creators Kutsuwada Chie and Julian Sedgwick

The two discuss how they approached diversity considering gender and racial themes, and the sensibility of portraying real life trauma.

Chatty AF 184: 2023 Spring Mid-Season Check-In

Vrai, Toni, and Peter try and fail to keep their discussion of a packed-to-the-gills season to a reasonable duration!

Which writer or director’s name will automatically get you to try an anime?

That one creator (or more) whose work reliably speaks to you.

Beyond AniFem

How Accurate Is 【Oshi No Ko】 About the Japanese Entertainment Industry? An Interview With Aka Akasaka (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

Interview about the manga’s roots and how it was shaped.

What kind of research did you do on the entertainment industries depicted in this manga?

Aka AKASAKA: The lines of coverage of research for [Oshi No Ko] are very extensive. We go around hearing real stories and personal estimations from top talents, underground idols, people who work at TV stations, real producers, managers, editors of gossip magazines, YouTubers, scriptwriters, and many others. What is revealed in this process is a great deal about power balance and logic, and there are quite a few instances of dissatisfaction, like “A is taking B lightly, B is taking C lightly, and C is taking A lightly,” that are chalked up to specific circumstances and rules. Sometimes, I think that if they work with this understanding, the talents and the people around them can work without stress. I have heard that the entertainment industry in the U.S. and Japan are completely different. In the Japanese entertainment industry today, there is no union for talent and writers, there are no guarantees, auditions are disregarded in casting, opportunities are given based on the balance of power between companies, and basically, you can’t go against the office manager…those sorts of things. And they continue to happen. If you, American readers, can enjoy reading [Oshi No Ko] with the knowledge of this unique Japanese situation, you may deepen your understanding of this story.

What inspired you to portray the idol world in such a dark and dramatic way for a fictional work?

Aka AKASAKA: There was an instance of a cast member being attacked by a fan who saw a picture of the first news of a movie release. When that happened, the person came across as very tough, but after we became friends, they confessed that they were badly hurt emotionally. When I found that out, I realized that talents hide their true colors for the sake of their works and for their fans who are supporting them. With the spread of the internet, we live in a society where fans’ voices are heard directly. I want people to know how young talents are being hurt, exploited, and suffering. I think that this work also asks the question of how people should deal with and treat those talents. I guess it is correct to say that when I wrote about reality, it naturally became darker.

Former teen idol still grateful to Kitagawa, can’t forgive abuse (The Asahi Shimbun, Maki Okubo)

The man shares his experiences of abuse by the late idol producer Johnny Kitagawa. Article contains detailed recounting of assault. Other survivors have also come forward to discuss their experiences and respond to the company’s official statement.

While Okamoto did not confide to close friends about the sexual abuse, a turning point arrived in the form of a British Broadcasting Corp. one-hour documentary in March titled “Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-Pop,” detailing Kitagawa’s suspected sexual assaults against minors and the Japanese media’s decades-long silence on the issue.

That led Okamoto to hold a news conference in Tokyo in April in which he described the abuse Kitagawa inflicted.

In February 2012, when Okamoto was still 15 and a member of a modeling agency, he went to Tokyo after he was contacted out of the blue by Kitagawa. He met Kitagawa at a concert venue and was told to go on stage and sing before about 5,000 people.

He then began working as a member of Johnny’s Jr.

Reflecting on that time, Okamoto said, “After becoming a star in one day, I could not tell what was real and what was not.”

The reality he knew until then was the difficult life his parents experienced, due in part to their lack of fluency in Japanese.

Clarity sought on whether agency pressed media to hush sex scandal (The Asahi Shimbun)

Comments on the Kitagawa abuse allegations from a journalist who regularly covers Japan’s entertainment industry.

The journalist said he wants Johnny & Associates to provide more detailed answers regarding such matters as whether the agency effectively muzzled media outlets, particularly television stations, about the allegations.

He said the root of the problem lies in the agency’s power over media outlets because of its famous idols.

Given the declining revenue of TV stations and magazines over the past two decades, media outlets have become increasingly dependent on Johnny idols to generate high ratings.

Consequently, the outlets have been overly accommodating to the agency, Matsutani said.

Johnny & Associates has also taken measures against idols who have quit the agency. Since leaving, they have found fewer TV appearances and more difficulties landing work in the entertainment industry.

In 2019, the Fair Trade Commission issued an unusual warning to the agency after it was found pressuring commercial TV stations to avoid giving appearances to three former members of boy band SMAP who had left the agency.

Matsutani said the agency should have addressed its dominance over the media and declared it will stop such practices. Otherwise, similar things could happen at other talent agencies, he said.

Former Jujutsu Kaisen Manga Translator Stefan Koza Sentenced to 10 Years in Jail, With 7 Years of Sentence Suspended (Anime News Network, Crystalyn Hodgkins)

Koza was arrested for downloading and distributing child exploitation material online and was previously arrested for secretly recording a grade school changing room.

During the five years of the suspended sentence, Koza will be on supervised probation, which will include mental health counseling. Koza must also enter and complete sex offender treatment. Additionally, he will not be allowed to use devices that have internet access, and he cannot have access to cameras or visual recording devices. Koza must pay all costs in the case, and he must register himself in the sex offender registry for the state of Virginia.

Koza must still serve time in jail for the remaining three years of his sentence, but any time he has already spent in jail will be credited toward those three years. The Fairfax County Circuit Court did not provide ANN with information on how much time Koza has already served and how much time he has left to serve. ANN is currently waiting on the results of a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request with the Virginia Department of Corrections regarding that information.

A grand jury in Fairfax County had advanced the eight felony charges against Koza in December 2021. Each of the counts is for possession of child pornography, and each count is for a separate video. The case first went through the Fairfax County General District Court, and then moved to the Fairfax County Circuit Court for the grand jury indictment.

Colabo, Other Japan Women’s Groups Enduring Targeted Harassment (Unseen Japan, Alyssa Pearl Fusek)

Colabo is an organization that provides resources to displaced teenage girls in Tokyo.

Colabo isn’t the only women’s support group dealing with intense slander and harassment. This year a liaison committee surveyed eight women’s support groups to ascertain how badly harassment affected them.

The results were distressing, to put it mildly. All eight reported dealing with slander. Five received credible death threats against staff members. Four others reported hoax calls and messages, making it even harder to help those actually needing help [6].

Consequently, the harassment has deterred local municipalities from financially supporting these groups. And because of the Colabo kerfuffle, the Tokyo government announced in March it will audit three other organizations affiliated with their women’s protection project [7].

While the harassment and public ridicule against Colabo hasn’t stopped, Tsubomi Cafe resumed operations on April 19 after the Tokyo government requested it cease operations in March over safety concerns [8].

Many older women in Japan stuck in low-paying jobs (The Asahi Shimbun, Erina Ito and Etsuko Akuzawa)

Of 2,345 working women over 40 surveyed, 33% made less than 2 million yen (roughly 14,650 USD) annually.

Wada, 57, said the older people get, the fewer career options they have.

To people her age or older, there are few jobs available other than working at supermarkets, convenience stores or care homes, or doing cleaning or security work.

Wages in these jobs hardly rise even as the cost of living does.

There are few policies designed to support middle-aged and elderly single women.

In May 2022, the Diet passed groundbreaking legislation to support vulnerable women.

But the new law was meant to help young women, single mothers and victims of domestic abuse rather than older unmarried women such as Wada.

“We have been made into believing that it’s our own fault that life is so hard,” said Wada. “But it’s not true–it’s because of a social structure created by the wrong policies.”

Women are overrepresented in nonregular employment.

There are 14.32 million of them, more than double their 6.69 million male counterparts as of 2022, according to government data.

The largest age group is 45 to 54, with 3.73 million women.

The share of adult women who have never married has risen sharply since the turn of the century, reaching a high of 17.8 percent in 2020.

The country’s employment, taxation and social security systems are designed to best serve traditional families even though people have come to have different values and lifestyles.

VIDEO: Suggestions of shoujo series to try if you like X popular shounen/seinen.

THREAD: Japanese article about a lesbian couple in Tokyo claiming they were denied services while looking for a place to deliver their baby.

TWEET: Open-access book on gender in Japanese pop culture.

TWEET: Announcement of new animation studio Lu Laforte, which proclaims its intent to support working mothers.

AniFem Community

You’d all probably be shocked to learn there was one especially popular name being checked.

My insta-watch directors are Hiroko Utsumi, Sayo Yamamoto, and Masaaki Yuasa. I'll also drop everything to watch an anime based on a book from Tomihiko Morimi.

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