Weekly Round-Up, 14-20 February 2024: Vampire Dating Sim, Injustice in Ace Attorney, and Fushigi Yugi Love

By: Anime Feminist February 20, 20240 Comments
chibi Yumiella practicing with her sword

AniFem Round-Up

Rainbows and Rollerblades: The queer evolution of the Scott Pilgrim series

The franchise has a complex history with queer characters, from the well-meaning if very 2000s comic to the missteps of the movie and finally the maturation shown by the new anime.

Cyborgs and Identity in Cyberpunk, from Ghost in the Shell to Cyberpunk Edgerunners

The idea of the cyborg is one that underscores that your body isn’t just yours, but something society is constantly assessing as a commodity.

Chatty AF 201: 2024 Winter Mid-Season Check-In

The shows this season are making some big promises, but only some of them feel like they’re going to pay off.

Who’s your favorite villainess?

Hard to believe that it’s been a full decade since the specific “villainess” subgenre exploded into popularity, starting from light novels and spreading outward.

Beyond AniFem

Veteran Animator Terumi Nishii on the Problems and Future Facing the Anime Industry (Anime News Network, Richard Eisenbeis)

Nishii strongly supports unions, which are currently uncommon in the industry outside of a few examples like Toei.

While Nishii is not a member of NAFCA, she has recently been working with them to create an industry survey to measure the extent of the problems animators are facing. “It’s well known that newbie animators have trouble putting food on the table,” Nishii explained, “but we’re also asking about what kinds of other situations both those who work at animation studios and outside of them are facing with this survey—like, we don’t fully know the stories of these freelancers and full-time workers.” She hopes the concrete data gathered from this survey will help the government understand the true scope of the issue.

The other large project coming out of NAFCA right now is the creation of the “Animator Skill Test.” Currently, the anime industry is facing a workforce shortage, leading to underqualified animators entering the workforce. This has created a bit of a mess as more senior animators are forced to redo the work of newbies in addition to their work. “At vocational schools, you’re supposed to learn the specialized skills needed to act as a professional, but they only teach the general aspects of anime production. Take students who have not been able to acquire the skills specific to being an animator, for example. Just because they graduate doesn’t mean they can become a professional-level animator. They should have had more specialized learning.” By having a standardized test, Nishii hopes these schools will improve their curriculum to have their students pass it.

Of course, being underqualified is only the start of the problems facing workers in the anime industry today. “In general, overtime hours are extremely long, or there are strange quotas that you can never hit—and, therefore, you never get to go home,” Nishii said of the worst companies in the industry. “Japanese companies have existed in an environment where those who become full-time employees have been forced to work hard for the past 20 or 30 years—but it seems that instead of becoming ‘full-time employees,’ it’s more like they are ‘slaves.’”

Bite Me: A Queer Vampire Dating Simulator & Visual Novel (Kickstarter)

A smaller version of the game is available on itch.io.

This Kickstarter campaign will enable us to complete the game, presenting a beautiful horror-romance dating simulator and visual novel. 

The final game will have an estimated 10 chapters, 200+ voice lines, expanded world-building, detailed character backstories going over their vampiric origins, and developed romance between the player and their chosen character.  Each route will have 3 endings, including one secret ending.

Our story is a love letter to Southwest Asian folklore and vampire tales. Starting from doodles in the margins of notebooks, this project saw its first pass in a game design class. After 2 years of character building, a team of Queer and/or POC friends assembled to form Kabus Studio. 

We worked hard for the last 7 months to bring these characters to life, with our main goal being representation in the vampire horror genre by and for POC, Queer, and Disabled folks.

An Ode to BLEACH’s Yoruichi Shihōin (Nerdist, DarkSkyLady)

Yoruichi’s been a key part of the series since its first season.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Ichigo gets stronger throughout the Soul Society arc, but his confidence sometimes writes checks his backside cannot cash. When he faces Byakuya in Soul Society at Rukia’s repentance cell, Byakuya prepares to unleash his shikai, Senbonzakura—his first level zanpakutō move. Ichigo faces a certain defeat but survives thanks to plot armor and the timely arrival of the terrifyingly strong and swift Yoruichi. After rendering Ichigo unconscious, she squares up against Byakuya in a game of tag to escape. Here’s where viewers get a glimpse of her talent. 

Although Byakuya moves fast to the point where Ichigo has trouble reading his movements, Yoruichi is a flash step above him, literally landing on his arm with the unconscious Ichigo slung over her shoulder. Hence, her label is “Flash Master Yoruichi.” Though the series touts Byakuya as a significant threat Ichigo must face, Yoruichi talks to him like a child trying to compete with the grown-ups. The verbal sparring amidst swift evasions makes it clear Yoruichi is equally fearsome. At that point, Yoruichi established herself as tough and stirred the need for everyone to learn more about her. Let’s also not forget that Yoruichi trains Ichigo to achieve the second level of his sword, “bankai,” without which he would never win against Byakuya. 

WWAC’S Favorite Manga of 2023 (Women Write About Comics, Masha Zhdanova)

One top title chosen by each member of the staff.

Mothers, released by Glacier Bay Books after a successful Kickstarter campaign, collects twelve stories about small but significant moments of kindness enacted in uncommon ways. Umi Kusahara’s short stories are accented by touches of the fantastic but grounded in a reality that doesn’t pull its punches. These stories are particularly concerned with grieving and the emotional impact of loss, which is represented delicately but without sentimentality.

In the piece that lends its title to the collection, “Mothers,” two women visit the hospital beds of two teenagers who have only barely survived a horrible car crash. Each woman has a complicated relationship with the patient she visits, but they find sympathy and support in the connection they create with each other. As in the other stories in the collection, the catharsis lies in the moment of clarity when the characters can be finally honest with themselves about what they want and what will make their lives worth living.

This Week in Games: Not My Elena (Anime News Network, Jean-Karlo Lemus)

Street Fighter’s Elena’s new gyaru design has been heavily whitewashed.

There can be a lot of controversy over handling Black characters in media. In live action, it can be because you need to have the proper lighting for a Black character to look right on-screen (this is why Moonlight was so good—they had phenomenal lighting for its mainly-Black cast). In animation, folks can be pretty antsy when it looks like a typically dark-skinned character has been lightened for whatever reason. Sometimes, it can be an honest trick of the light making the character look a shade brighter… or sometimes it’s this, and a Black woman gets whitewashed. Again, Elena already faced criticism for her features being inaccurate for someone from Kenya. Looking as pale as she is (it legit looks like she hit up a tanning salon), “Trendy Elena” just flat-out doesn’t look like herself. […]

Yeah, man. I don’t know who that “trendy” girl is, but that’s not Elena. This isn’t the first time Street Fighter: Duel heavily whitewashed Elena—her “original” look was heavily whitewashed too. So it’s not even that they messed up with the “Trendy” variant because of the specific “look” they were going for. This is pretty intentional. Fans are, to put it lightly, not happy. The fighting game community has its roots in the Black community. Street Fighter in particular has always been very celebratory of that part of their history, hence its very urban-influenced design in Street Fighter 6. Seeing Elena done dirty like this has a lot of people disappointed, to say the least. The responses to the official tweet debuting Trendy Elena are almost unanimously negative. At the time of this writing, CAPCOM hasn’t responded to the matter, but I hope they do. It’d be nice to do right by Elena and her many, many fans.

Tokyo ward residents file complaint over cartoon discriminating against transgender people (The Mainichi, Miyuki Fujisawa)

The cartoon trots out the transmisogynistic “men are attempting to use anti-discrimination ordinances to enter ‘women’s spaces’” rhetoric.

In March the same year, an ordinance prohibiting discriminatory treatment on the basis of sex was enacted in Suginami Ward. It is believed the “gender identity ordinance” mentioned with the cartoon was referring to this. Tanaka is said to have opposed the ordinance on the grounds that if it were accepted, then “men would be able to enter women’s baths.”

Regarding the management of public baths, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has expressed the opinion that the distinction between men and women does not refer to self-identified gender, but to sex as determined by physical characteristics. The residents who filed the petitions pointed out that it was a factual error to say men would enter women’s baths.

During a news conference, Suzuki stated, “What if I had seen that (problematic illustration) when I was a high school student just starting to think about my gender? We need to speak up to protect today’s children.” Ikeda, meanwhile, commented, “In sexual terms, I’m in the majority, but discrimination is a problem on the side of the majority. I don’t endorse living in a society where there is discrimination, and I take it very seriously that that ugly illustration appeared in an election bulletin.”

The Call is Coming from Inside the Courtroom (Unwinnable, Jay Castello)

How the most recent Ace Attorney game sharpens its critique of the legal system.

Great Ace Attorney takes different swings than its predecessors in many ways. While Ace Attorney has always thrown up issues with its particular fictional legal system, and the Apollo Justice Trilogy (the 4th to 6th games in the mainline series) continually try to enact reform and then narratively retcon their own progress, Great Ace Attorney grounds its critique in something more historical – and systematic.

Although still fictionalized, Great Ace Attorney directly criticizes the power of the British Empire and how it puts pressure on the fledgling legal system of Japan, as well as protecting its citizens from facing punishment for their crimes. Money is shown to undermine the alleged fairness of the courts. Unlike other Ace Attorney games’ contextless problematizing of their self-created worlds, Great Ace Attorney makes real connections.

In doing so, its peeling back of the farce of the courtroom as a space for solemn, ritualistic justice becomes much more powerful. I’m only three chapters (out of ten) into my replay (for analysis podcast Turnabout Breakdown), but I do remember that it extremely does not stick the landing on its approach to empire. But in undermining the performative sanctity of the courtroom itself, Great Ace Attorney already makes a more coherent critique than any of its predecessors.

VIDEO: Spotlight on Studio TRIGGER artist Yoneyama Mai.

VIDEO: How Nintendo needs to improve accessibility for the Switch 2.

VIDEO: Tribute to the lovable mess that is Fushigi Yugi.

AniFem Community

More terrible disaster girls, please.

Fave villainess from the subgenre is definitely Claire from I'm in Love with the Villainess in all her disaster bi "ohohoho"ing glory, though if we count villainess webtoons, Melissa from Beware the Villainess is also fantastic- smart, saavy, and ready to call out any entitled man.  I love complicated female villains, there's so many to name...Kushana from Nausicaa is a big one, especially in the manga where she's given a bit of complexity. I also love Lady Eboshi, though she might fall more into anti-villain, but she's definitely an antagonist and such a sympathetic and cool one at that. Sailor Lead Crow and Aluminum Siren from Sailor Moon are also so great, such a fun duo and they're very gay. And Rue from Princess Tutu!  Also if we count just antagonists/the classic shoujo bully archetype, shoujo often does such a good job of complicating that trope and making great characters. Nanami from Utena is my favorite example, a failgirl who gains such depth and pathos, and Kurumi from Kimi ni Todoke is also great.
Favorite from a “villainess” title? In this essay, I will argue that "I'm a spider, so what?" counts as a Reborn as a Villainess subgenre... But more seriously, I have a warm spot in my heart for at least Season One of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, largely due to being the first official villainess show I watched and it frankly being a lot of fun.  Favorite general or classic gal? Probably Yumiella Dolkness. As almost certainly being undiagnosed but on the spectrum, her belief that she is saying/doing things that will win everyone over when they absolutely will not seems extremely familiar to me, particularly school aged me. That said, Mia Luna Tearmoon remaining kind of terrible and mainly only doing good to escape beheading is kind of fun. Claire François and Katarina Claus are also great.  Do you feel burned out by the villainess subgenre? Nah. It's substantially less common than the Isekai subgenre and I'll still give most of those at least a try. Also, while this season has Villainess level 99, 7th Time Loop, and Dr. Elise, I am finding something to value in all three of them, which is a better batting average than most subgenres.  What elements are in the best examples? For me, the best elements are when there is a bit of self-serving element. "I'm doing this to avoid execution/death more than that I'm a great person", though I also enjoy the "Oh, stuff that I would do on an evil playthrough of a video game is absolutely not something I'd be okay with in real life." And while it's the weakest offering this season, I am enjoying that Dr. Elise is doing a problem of both "I need to get individuals to accept me" and a "I need to get this society as a whole to accept me". In a recent episode, she has a moment of realization where "Just because I've proven I am a great doctor doesn't mean this society is going to give me agency over my own life" that I hope will be explored well.
Without a doubt, it has to be Haman Karn.  Her look is fabulous, her mobile suit is fabulous, her voice is fabulous.  She commands the viewer's attention every moment she's on screen.  She single-handedly saved my Zeta Gundam viewing experience.

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