Alex unpacks WEP’s most underwritten character and how her inclusion poisons the show’s larger themes.
Nubia Jade Brice shares the joy of LeSean Thomas’ throwback to 90s road trip series and the joy of seeing lighthearted Black genre fiction in anime.
Dazzling and a bit camp, this is the setup to a fun swashbuckling adventure story. While it makes sense for Fena to need rescuing early on, it’ll be disappointing if that continues once she’s supposed to be a badass.
Vrai, Mercedez, and Peter dig deep to find the winners of a somewhat sparse season.
This month’s post includes several free educational talks and history lessons on Black August and George Jackson, a key figure in the modern abolitionist movement.
The Strangely Sanitary Role of Police in Cyberpunk Anime (Anime Herald, Anthony Gramuglia)
Analysis focusing on several key cyperpunk anime from the 80s and 90s.
While on the surface, Japanese police have historically seen far fewer scandals than their American counterparts, the methods through which misconduct can be discussed or exposed is far more minimal. This creates a false perspective of the police where they seemingly do little wrong, but that is merely because their violence is less scrutinized internally and by the media. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/30209411?seq=1)
In recent years, protests in Japan against police brutality and racism have become prevalent. The Black Lives Matter movement, which first started in America, exists in Japan. This indicates that, even in Japan, the American police system’s overzealous violence against minorities is seen as dangerous. Furthermore, it means that the Japanese see their own police department as suffering the same systemic problems the American police department faces. (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/06/07/national/protests-rallies-race-police-brutality-tokyo-japan/)
The disturbing reality is this: police in fiction cannot be separated from police in the surrounding reality. If you create a world where police are heroic, one cannot help but compare them to real police.
Why Stone Ocean Could Be the Most Important Part of Jojo Yet (Anime News Network, Sebastian Stoddard)
On just why people are so hyped for the latest installment of JJBA.
Shōnen anime with female main characters are few and far between. In an anime like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that has received a lot of attention and boasts a large fanbase, it’s even less likely for a woman to take the lead. Even when they are given a main role, they’re often poorly written; they don’t have the same diversity as male characters and often fall into stereotypical roles as support or caregivers. Hideto Azuma, Araki’s editor during the publication of Stone Ocean, had recommended that Jolyne was changed to a man to appeal more to Weekly Shōnen Jump readers, according to an interview in JOJOVELLER. However, Araki refused. He thought that readers being opposed to a female lead was exactly why Jolyne was necessary. Araki insisted that Jolyne needed to be a woman because readers wouldn’t accept her. This makes her an important character for the series and for shōnen manga as a whole. Jolyne was meant to be a statement, a way of saying that women could be main characters, even in media traditionally created for men, and be successful.
The Insidious Queerphobia of ‘Carole & Tuesday’ (AniGay, Rebecca Black)
Looking at the series’ representation overall and its juxtaposition of what “good” and “bad” queerness looks like.
My point here is not to tear into the depiction of Desmond specifically; like I said, all of this shit is complicated and individuals have different conceptions of how and why their identities evolve over time.
It all just adds up. Why are the Mermaid Sisters so menacing and caricaturish while Desmond is a quirky source of poetic wisdom? Why is Marie’s romantic arc so cute and wholesome but Cybelle’s crush on Tuesday a source of danger? The underlying framework that makes sense of the way the narrative treats these different characters is one in which gender, in particular, is seen as immutable, biological, “natural,” and not to be subverted. When gender lines are blurred or crossed, it’s either a result of external biological forces rather than personal agency, or it’s vilified. The superficial “diversity” of the show is in the service of carving out these distinctions, and at times even plays on the assumption that the audience feels the disgust or discomfort that some of the (protagonist-aligned) characters do. I was not left, at the end of this show, with the feeling that it was interested in the queer experience — not in celebrating it, not in exploring all of its infinite diversity, not in challenging paradigms, not in empathizing with the pain and trauma of navigating messy queer identities.
A Poet for All Seasons: Yosano Akiko and Same-Sex Love (Nippon.com, Janine Beichman)
A discussion of the influential poet’s writings on same-gender desire; though it fails to take into account that “romantic friendship” falls under the queer umbrella as well.
Akiko begins, as she often does in her essays of this time, by discussing the etymology of a word, in this case omesan. People were now choosing to write this term for an intimate relationship between two girls with the kanji for “male” and “female,” but she objects to this, insisting (on the authority of a contemporary girl student she knew) that it was an abbreviation of omedetai, “fortunate,” derived from the envy others felt for the couple’s happiness. “To write it with the kanji for ‘male’ and ‘female,’” she declares, “makes a word about something innocent into one that expresses something repulsive to even think of.” In other words, Akiko is insisting on the asexual purity of same-sex love between girls, and fighting the orthography which would suggest that such love had an erotic component.
The conflation of romantic friendship with sexual passion under the single heading of homosexual love arrived in Japan in the late nineteenth century, when the works of Richard von Krafft-Ebing were translated, and those who kept up with developments in modern thought, as Akiko did, were well aware of the theory that same-sex love was a sexual perversion. By objecting to writing ome with the kanji for male and female, she is putting her foot down and refusing to let the word mean a lesbian relationship. At the same time, she stakes out a territory for this purely spiritual same-sex love that is even more intense than that of erotic heterosexual love, and then, without any pause, enters into her own personal story:
“I am of the firm belief that love between adolescent girls is not a form of sexual perversion. I also know that this love between girls comes with feelings even more intense than those of love between men and women. I had a friend like that once. One usually hears that in such relationships the love is equal on both sides, but with us, it was eight parts on my side and but two on hers. It’s obvious now of course, but even then I fully realized that my love was completely irrational.
Footage of the woman’s final days was recently released to her family, following her death due to mistreatment by immigration services back in March.
Selected parts of the security camera footage of Wishma’s last days were then disclosed to the family, including scenes of her talking with other detainees and being mocked by immigration officers.
Ibusuki had requested that the agency release the whole video, but the agency responded it would be “logistically difficult” to show two weeks’ footage, adding it would consider requests to view specific parts.
The agency had at first refused to disclose the footage to the family citing security but later changed its policy for humanitarian reasons out of consideration for the family.
Experts criticize YouTuber’s anti-homeless comments as corrosive for Japanese society (The Mainichi, Harumi Kimoto, Chie Yamashita and Aya Shiota)
The popular “mentalist” YouTuber echoed a pervasive discriminatory mindset dehumanizing homeless people.
As of Aug. 13, DaiGo’s official YouTube channel had about 2.46 million subscribers, and the video in question had been viewed about 190,000 times by 10 a.m. that day. Once his statements began being shared, numerous comments on Twitter labelled them as “inciting discrimination.”
Tsuyoshi Inaba, representative director of the Tsukuroi Tokyo Fund, a group supporting the needy in search of jobs and housing, excoriated the remarks, saying, “If these kinds of statements are tolerated, society will crumble.” Inaba said that there are already deep-seated prejudices against people receiving aid, enough that supporters who recommend people with only a few hundred yen (less than $10) in their pockets to apply are often told, “I’ll do anything but go on welfare.”
“Given the societal conditions, if we then have remarks like these from influencers whose words hold a lot of sway, we’ll see more people distance themselves from using these services. The statements have the potential to kill indirectly,” Inaba said.
There have been numerous past instances of homeless people being attacked and losing their lives. “Words like ‘homeless people’s lives are just, whatever’ could spark hate crimes,” Inaba said. “The thought that denies the right to exist to people you can’t empathize with could incite violence and perpetuate discrimination against people in a weak position. All of society needs to show that they think this is unacceptable.”
For Us All (L.A. Theatre Works)
Full cast audio drama of a play by Jeanne Sakata.
A team of lawyers uses a little-known legal writ to fight and overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, unjustly sentenced for resisting the WWII mass incarceration of all Japanese Americans on the West Coast.
The play draws much inspiration from Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and his Quest for Justice by Lorraine K. Bannai (University of Washington Press 2015) and Justice Delayed by Peter Irons (Wesleyan University Press 1989).
Includes a conversation with playwright Jeanne Sakata and four of the attorneys from the Korematsu v. United States case: Lori Bannai, Peter Irons, Dale Minami and Don Tamaki.
VIDEO: Language-learning YouTuber Japanese Ammo with Misa opens up about her mental health struggles.
THREAD: Mini-review of newly translated edutainment manga SEX ED 120%.
THREAD: Thoughts on approaching pronouns when speaking Japanese.
BONUS: Slideshow of fanart redrawing Ghibli movies with Black characters.
To accompany this week’s resource post, below are two threads on how to offer aid to victims of the Haiti earthquakes and those currently attempting to evacuate Afghanistan.