Weekly Round-Up, 11-17 October 2023: Landmark Trans Legal Decision, Cancelled Kickstarters, and Plagiarism Lawsuits

By: Anime Feminist October 17, 20230 Comments
a girl running away in terror from an anthropomorphized guillotine

AniFem Round-Up

Kawagoe Boys Sing! -Now or Never- – Episode 1

A somewhat tepid high school choir story.

2023 Fall Premiere Digest

The team sorted through 37 shows in less than two weeks to help you make the most of your limited time.

Chatty AF 189: 2023 Summer Wrap-Up

Alex, Toni, and Peter wrap-up the small and disappointing Summer season by talking about its handful of bright stars.

Siege on Gaza and Free Palestine Resources and Actions

We have compiled both some basic resources to help readers learn about the situation in Gaza and the history of Palestine, organizations they can support, and possible action steps they can take.

Beyond AniFem

Kyoto anime studio helping people with disabilities leave their mark at work (The Mainichi, Norikazu Chiba)

The animators’ wages are low (100,000 yen monthly) but on par with general animator wages and higher than the average wage for disabled workers, which is generally 70% of the national average.

The anime studio puts emphasis on an office environment tailored to the characteristics of its workers. For those who tend to concentrate excessively, a stopwatch is used to have them take a break from time to time. For those who tend to be distracted by their surroundings, seats are isolated and curtains are installed to allow them to work in peace. Many plants were also placed in the studio to create a relaxing space.

Since anime production involves a large group of people, instructions from production companies regarding movements of characters and the timing are generally very specific and detailed to avoid misunderstandings. This is apparently helpful for people with disabilities who have difficulty understanding ambiguous expressions and nuances.

One of the leading figures in the studio is Yuki Kawai, a 28-year-old from Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward who graduated from Kyoto Seika University’s Faculty of Design. He excelled at graphic design and won many prizes in contests for his Western-style paintings, but couldn’t fit in at the company he joined after graduation. He has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and an adjustment disorder.

Kawai explained, “Ever since I was a child, I was told I was ‘different,’ but there were many people way more unique than me at university, and I was unaware of my disabilities.” He quit his job and suffered from the thought that he would never be able to work again, but was able to find a new path after meeting Sawada. Based on his experience of not being able to sit still at a desk for long periods of time and having difficulty understanding the detailed meaning of words, he also serves as a “peer supporter” for others in similar situations to help create a better working environment.

Japanese Court: Sterilization as Criteria for Gender Status Change Unconstitutional (Unseen Japan, Himari Semans)

This is exciting news for another case, involving a trans woman, currently being debated by Japan’s Supreme Court.

On October 11th, a court in central Japan granted a transgender man permission to change his legal status from female to male without undergoing sterilization surgery–––one of the five requirements for changing gender status under Japanese law.

The court also judged the surgery requirement unconstitutional, a historic first in Japan’s judicial proceedings.

The decision comes a year after transgender man Suzuki Gen (48) filed a request to change his legal status in the koseki (戸籍), or family registry, to the Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka Family Court.

After Wednesday’s decision, Suzuki told reporters “I still can’t believe it. I’m in shock. But I am happy knowing that I can live in comfort now that the helplessness and worries from the past 40 years are gone.”

Suzuki has been in a common-law marriage with his female partner. Until now, both had female gender status in the family registry system; this meant they were unable to legally marry, as Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Thorfinn Dub Voice Actor Mike Haimoto Accused of Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge)

Includes detailed discussion of the alleged abuse from the survivor’s account.

English dub voice actor Mike Haimoto (Vinland Saga, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vermeil in Gold) was accused of domestic abuse and sexual assault by his former girlfriend Avery Smithhart (Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul‘s Prushka, Land of the Lustrous‘ Cinnabar) in a 50-page document on Thursday. Smithhart’s account details a three-year relationship with Haimoto where she claims that he isolated her from friends and family, dictated her appearance, made up extravagant stories about his past, spent her money for equipment, and in one instance sexually assaulted her after a party. Smithhart uploaded a Google Drive of documents and interactions last week. Haimoto has not publicly responded to the allegations and did not return ANN’s request for comment.

Famed artist with SFMOMA show expresses ‘deep regret’ for anti-Black statements (San Fransisco Chronicle, Tony Bravo)

Raised by journalist Soleil Ho, the ensuing discussion will reportedly lead to a series of 2024 discussions on “how museums and audiences navigate the work of artists with problematic histories.” Includes replications of the racist language in question.

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, whose past writings have received renewed attention, has addressed her harmful, racist descriptions of Black people — a day before her latest exhibition “Infinite Love” is to open at the San Francisco Museum of Art.

“I deeply regret using hurtful and offensive language in my book,” Kusama said in an exclusive statement to the Chronicle supplied by SFMOMA on Friday, Oct. 13. “My message has always been one of love, hope, compassion, and respect for all people. My lifelong intention has been to lift up humanity through my art. I apologize for the pain I have caused.” 

Kusama’s writings have been criticized for portraying Black people as hypersexual, primitive beings. In her 2003 autobiography, “Infinity Net,” she describes them as “exotic” based on pictures she said she has seen in books. Commenting on a photo of a Black child, she wrote: “I envisioned America as a land full of these strange, barefooted children and virgin primeval forests.”

Kunihiko Ikuhara Sues Woman Who Claims Plagiarism of Illustrations (Anime News Network, Rafael Antonio Pineda)

Artists in Japan are understandably on-edge about claims of plagiarism, as it was one of the purported motives of the KyoAni arsonist.

According to the report, the woman, who described herself as a voice actress and illustrator, sent a Twitter direct message (DM) to Ikuhara in April 2022, claiming that he had plagiarized one of her works. Later, when Ikuhara’s bandmate and anime industry colleague posted an illustration from an anime that Ikuhara had worked on, the woman posted that it was a trace of her work. Ikuhara claims that the two illustrations have no similarity.

The woman then allegedly continued to escalate her actions, e-mailing publishers, record companies, anime production companies, and talent agencies that Ikuhara had worked with, demanding that he apologize to her. Ikuhara reported the matter to the police, who began sending patrols to his home twice a day, and who urged the cancellation of one of his band’s concerts for security reasons.

Ikuhara filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court Tachikawa Branch against the woman in June 2022, initially seeking 3.3 million yen (about US$22,000) in damages, and later increasing it to 4.4 million yen (about US$29,400). Ikuhara said that he sought legal action to compensate damage done to his works, and as a means to prevent further harm to his colleagues.

<BL>の国際的な広がりと、各国のLGBTQ(11/25・11/26)/LGBTQ Issues and the Globalization of “BL” (Meiji University)

Upcoming university conference which will include talks in Japanese or English with translations to the other language.

Japanese boys love (BL), a female-oriented media genre which depicts male–male romance, is currently spreading overseas beyond the borders of Japan. In addition, an increasing amount of BL media and related culture is being reimported into Japan from Thailand, China, the Philippines, and elsewhere. In this context, it has become clear that the relationship between BL and LGBTQ culture in each region is different. Unlike in Japan, for instance, BL fans and members of the LGBTQ community in many places around the world sometimes hold joint events. At this international symposium, researchers and organizers of BL events from various countries will explore the relationship between BL and the LGBTQ community and culture in the countries which they research or are active in the fandom.

Kickstarter Campaign for Graphic Novel Based on Osamu Tezuka’s Alabaster Manga Canceled (Anime News Network, Alex Mateo)

The campaign was cancelled without notice or explanation after making less than $1,400 out of $30,000 in its first week, continuing the trend of bad luck for Tezuka-related Kickstarters.

Noir Caesar describes the graphic novel:

Reimagined for a new generation of readers as a contemporary graphic novel from Noir Caesar, Alabaster reinterprets Ralph Ellison’s novel “The Invisible Man,” and follows a former successful Black athlete, James Block, who is framed by his girlfriend and wrongfully imprisoned. While inside, James befriends a disgraced scientist that gives him the solution to his problems—a laser gun that either turns its subject invisible or kills them upon usage. After serving his prison sentence and locating the device, James disfigures himself in a failed experiment that turns him partially translucent, like alabaster. Angry, vengeful, and with a new identity, Alabaster wreaks havoc on bigots and hypocrites alike.

The company stated that the reimagined story aims to “add some depth and layers” to the titular main character, and add details about the African-American civil rights movement in the 1970s.

North American publisher Digital Manga funded a Kickstarter campaign to localize and publish the two-volume Alabaster manga in 2015.

Theatricality of the Closet: Fashion, Performance, and Subjectivity between Victorian Britain and Meiji Japan (Northwestern University Press, Michelle Liu Carriger)

Newly released academic book available in digital and physical copies.

Clothing matters. This basic axiom is both common sense and, in another way, radical. It is from this starting point that Michelle Liu Carriger elucidates the interconnected ways in which gender, sexuality, class, and race are created by the everyday act of getting dressed. Theatricality of the Closet: Fashion, Performance, and Subjectivity between Victorian Britain and Meiji Japan examines fashion and clothing controversies of the nineteenth century, drawing on performance theory to reveal how the apparently superficial or frivolous deeply affects the creation of identity.
By interrogating a set of seemingly disparate examples from the same period but widely distant settings—Victorian Britain and Meiji-era Japan—Carriger disentangles how small, local, ordinary practices became enmeshed in a global fabric of cultural and material surfaces following the opening of trade between these nations in 1850. This richly illustrated book presents an array of media, from conservative newspapers and tabloids to ukiyo-e and early photography, that locate dress as a site where the individual and the social are interwoven, whether in the 1860s and 1870s or the twenty-first century.

Why I Adopted My Husband Manga Review (Anime News Network, Rebecca Silverman)

Essay manga about a not-uncommon practice among Japanese LGBTQ+ couples.

One of the story’s most striking features is how Yagi assumes homophobia on the part of his readers. That may not stand out to others as it did to me, but given who I am and where I’m from, it’s a very depressing element of the volume. Yagi consistently feels like he has to justify the fact that he and Kyota want to get married, and this not only comes across in statements to the reader about how he hopes reading about his relationship will help to open readers’ minds but also in the very fraught scenes where he debates coming out to his parents. Biological parental consent is required for the adoption procedure, and that means that both men will need to decide if they want to come out and acknowledge that they’re more than just “good friends” or to frame their relationship progression as just two single guys who don’t plan to marry finding a way to make sure they’re taken care of. Different approaches are taken with each of Yagi’s parents, while Kyota opts not to come out to his. In a very good display of how every family situation differs, Kyota’s parents are perfectly fine with his explanation. At the same time, Yagi’s are far more resistant, even when he doesn’t come out to both of them. His emotional journey is much more along the lines of reminding his parents that what they want for him and what he wants for himself won’t necessarily look like the same thing – his father’s dreams of grandchildren, for example, aren’t part of Yagi’s vision. There’s something horribly familiar about his attempts to reach his father on this subject, which is nicely balanced by the way that the manga frames it as an RPG boss battle, the kind where the boss’ life bar keeps randomly refilling so you have to start the attack all over again.

Chronotopia: Second Skin is a fresh take on a little known dark fairytale (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

The indie visual novel has been in development since 2016.

Over the years, many modern retellings have strayed away from the Disney-esque versions by attempting to tell more nuanced fairytale inspired stories that tap into the darker elements that are often overlooked (or purposefully omitted). And it is through this that stories like Träumendes Mädchen’s Chronotopia: Second Skin are developed. This latest fairytale inspired game explores the events of Charles Perrault’s little known fairytale, Donkeyskin.

In the story, a young princess, Kianna finds herself the unwitting recipient of her father’s romantic advances after the death of her mother. Not wanting to marry her father, she devises a series of schemes to evade her father’s proposal. She eventually enlists the help of her trusty lady-in-waiting, her fairy godmother, and horrifying pelt of donkeyskin to escape her impending incestuous nuptials. Not an easy story for the Good Ol’ Mouse to sanitize for the kiddos. But through the visual novel medium and with Träumendes Mädchen’s masterful storytelling this tale is given a new life.

Chronotopia strikes an interesting balance. Both paying homage to the original tale and deviating just enough to make this a wholly unique and worthwhile experience. Given the branching narrative structure of visual novels, the developers can explore Perault’s original story in one path and completely shake things up in another and still retain the spirit of the work.

Things like having the story set in medievial times, but having Kionna and many of the key characters of the story be POC. Explaining this inclusion through the characters’ Moorish ancestry, rather than slavery (which as a Black woman, brought me so much joy to see not included).

Even the inclusion of female love interests in this story works to enhance the relationships between the characters. It also offers a different avenue for Kionna other than the usual fairytale outcome of just marrying a prince. Though, for those of you that do want Kionna to get her fairytale happily ever after with her handsome prince you’re in luck. Second Skin has three to choose from—though only one is technically a love interest.

AniFem Community

As information continues to flood in, this week’s resource post may gradually become less helpful, but we hope it can be a starting point for people to learn more about a fraught issue and, hopefully, do something to help.

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