Weekly Round-Up, 15-21 May 2024: Gender Census, Auto-Generated Captions, and Copyright vs Art Preservation

By: Anime Feminist May 21, 20240 Comments
MaoMao holding a dumpling and looking skeptical

AniFem Round-Up

Evangelion, alienation, and Japan’s 1990s economic crisis

In a time wracked by despair, paranoia, and economic devastation, Evangelion captured the nihilistic zeitgeist of a nation and its citizenry.

Autonomy, aliens, and a study in female character agency with 16bit Sensation

This 2023 series makes for a good case study in stories where the supposed protagonist becomes a bystander or damsel in the third act of her own story.

What bad anime do you love inflicting on friends?

A bad movie night is a grand bonding activity.

Beyond AniFem

Gender Census 2024

The survey will close on June 13th.

This survey intends to collect information about everyone who DOESN’T fit into this system. Anyone who doesn’t feel like they fit into one of these two boxes is invited to participate. There are no geographical restrictions.
If you hesitate or struggle to place yourself into just one of the two boxes, or if you know for sure that these boxes were not made for you, please do continue!
Helpful information:

It is international and open to anyone, anywhere.

The survey aims to collect information about the language we use to refer to ourselves when speaking English, which may include words from other languages or cultures.

Most of the survey asks about four things: identity words, pronouns, titles, and family words.

There is a feedback box at the end.

Most people find that it takes 5 minutes or less.

You can read the FAQs here.

My Happy Marriage Director Takehiro Kubota and Creating a New Fairytale (Anime News Network, Rebecca Silverman)

Interview about the creation of the first season in anticipation of the second.

Miyo is a character whose growth is slow and not always steady. What steps did you take (or choices did you make) in order to best show this? Did you have any concerns that viewers would find her too slow or shy to understand the decisions she makes over the course of the anime?

KUBOTA: As you said, Miyo is very introverted and indecisive, and sometimes makes the wrong choices, so I think many viewers may have felt frustrated at times. However, since we had the original novel to reference from, the answers to all of our questions were found there, so adapting those aspects on our end wasn’t all that complicated. Our main focus was on how to organize Miyo’s complex emotional growth throughout the story—to make sure the flow of emotions was smooth and didn’t feel strange. In the first part of the story, Miyo slowly recovers her past emotions lost to her traumatic past, through her encounters with Kiyoka and her growth as a person. In order to express this growth, we had to begin with her as a passive character.

During the production of the anime, especially during recording, we paid close attention to the voice actors’ performances (tone of voice, sense of tension) and provided direction. We knew that due to the dramatic structure set up in the first episode (which would be important throughout the series), things would start out quite dark. So we were a little worried about how it would be received by the audience. But in the end, luckily, I believe it was generally well received.

Muslim woman hopes for justice ahead of verdict on racial discrimination by Japan police (The Mainichi, Yuko Murase)

This article includes discussion of racist language and police harassment.

Atsuko Nishiyama, the other attorney representing the woman, pointed out, “We are arguing that discrimination against foreigners was behind the police’s actions, but this is unacceptable even for a person without foreign origin. The police also should have clearly explained that the questioning was voluntary.”

Regarding racial profiling, three foreign-born residents of Japan filed a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court in January 2024 against the Japanese state plus the Tokyo metropolitan and Aichi prefectural governments for what they claim is frequent police questioning based solely on their ethnicity.

Nishiyama believes that these cases are just the tip of the iceberg, and that there are many victims who do not have access to justice since the civil litigation system in Japan presents a heavy burden and high hurdles for foreigners who are not native speakers of Japanese. When submitting evidence in a foreign language, all parties are required to translate it at their own expense. Interpretation and translation costs can be high, depending on the language.

After the incident, the woman called the Ministry of Justice’s foreign-language human rights hotline and a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) consultation service for foreigners, but apparently couldn’t get any support, leading to her decision to file a lawsuit. Nishiyama points out that “the woman’s case is symbolic of how ineffective human rights remedies are in Japan.”

Experts express concerns as joint child custody in divorces looms (The Asahi Shimbun, Emika Terashima and Satomi Sugihara)

The revised law, if passed, would go into effect in two years.

A major point of contention regarding the revised law was the concern about the continuation of domestic violence.

In Japan, when there is domestic violence, it has been viewed as a de facto refuge for victims to divorce with their children and obtain sole custody.

The revised law stipulates that a family court will grant sole custody if there is domestic violence or the threat of such abuse. 

However, there are persistent concerns that family courts will overlook domestic violence that is difficult to see, such as psychological violence, and that joint custody will be granted.

Tadashi Nakamura, a special-appointment professor at Ritsumeikan University who is a member of the Cabinet Office’s panel on violence against women, said it is a prerequisite that a support system for the parties be in place for joint custody “to function to a certain degree.”

“Since there are various forms of domestic violence, it is necessary to create objective indicators for evaluation, including not only psychiatric diagnoses but also psychological approaches that analyze the closeness of family relationships,” he said. 

The Avalanche Guide To Insurrection (Aftermath, Janus Rose)

It does bear repeating, occasionally, that FFVII has a lot to say about capitalist and state oppression.

In the 80s and 90s, the ELF’s militant actions included sabotaging industrial equipment and defacing corporate property, causing material and economic damage to those responsible for environmental destruction. This made them one of the first groups to be targeted by the US government as so-called eco-terrorists, inspiring the “Green Scare” and new laws that later became the framework for the government’s ever-expanding “War on Terrorism.” There was debate at the time over whether or not the methods of these groups were effective or too extreme. But in FFVII, the stakes are made clear: The planet is literally dying, and blowing up a reactor whose sole function facilitates this ecocide is a practical and material response to avoid, or at least delay, a world-ending global cataclysm.

My goal here is not to compare a fictional resistance struggle with Palestine’s 75-year anti-colonial struggle or with the international movement that has risen in support of it. But as a Jewish woman who used to identify as a hardcore, pro-Israel Zionist, replaying FFVII’s story via Remake and Rebirth has made me realize how deeply this game’s ideas resonate—and how many of them went completely over my head as a kid. 

A common criticism goes like this: Many people empathize with the goals of fictional resistance groups like Avalanche, but can’t seem to connect the dots when it comes to the real-world resistance struggles they’re based on. This has always fascinated me. FFVII not only forced players to consider the righteousness of militant actions, but illustrated two of the most important ways that real-world governments historically respond to them: first, by using the media to scapegoat and smear resistance groups and their supporters, and second, by enacting disproportionate violence as a form of collective punishment. 

Review: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for Nintendo Switch (My Nintendo News, nintendojam)

The remake comes with a small but exciting bit of good news.

Most of the story of The Thousand-Year Door is told through text-based dialogue and interacting with personality-filled NPCs. Every chapter is set in a different location/environment with a unique set of characters that has their own side-plot, some of which will even end up joining your party. Oftentimes with RPGs, I’ll focus on the task and skip most of the dialogue, but here, I genuinely wanted to talk with every NPC that I came across due to their well-written, comedic, and sometimes even emotional commentary. I never thought a Mario game would make me genuinely tear up, but when it deals with topics such as love, sacrifice, acceptance, and even death (albeit in a lighthearted Nintendo way), it’s easy to get invested in the narrative.

Vivian, one of the many characters that you’ll meet in the game, had a unique backstory in the original Japanese release that was entirely absent from the English translation. Fortunately, in the Nintendo Switch remake, Vivian is now confirmed to be a transgender woman, even in the localization. While it’s not stated outright, it’s very directly implied when she says things like “it took me a while to realize I was their sister…not their brother” when referring to her siblings. She later goes on to say “Mario is the only person who’s ever been kind to me,” and though it doesn’t get much deeper than that, having a game set in the Mario universe that isn’t afraid to dabble with more serious subjects is part of what makes The Thousand-Year Door so special.

Crunchyroll is seemingly rolling out auto-generated captions for English Dubs on their main platform. (Reddit)

An individual is reporting that new caption services have notable errors.

But now these auto-generated captions have made their way onto the actual platform with mixed results. Take this example from the OP of Gundam WfM where it tries to transcribe the lyrics. Other examples include the name “Eri” being transcribed as “Arie” or “Harry”, but at least it gets Gundam correct.

This situation is a bit bizarre, as Witch from Mercury does have properly made CC if you purchase the show off of iTunes/Apple TV that CR themselves publish. Here’s a snippet of an episode where ATV is the top and CR is the bottom, where it gets some stuff completely off. Another example where some lines are completely absent.

It’s not exclusive to WfM, it gets a bit worse in other shows where you’ll get proper captions but get the generated ones in later episodes. For example in Solo Leveling, majority of the season has the same captions as what they provided to Apple. Then later on encounter this with mistranscribed lines and misinterpreted yells/grunts as lines.

This all seems to stem a few months ago when the Crunchyroll CEO said in an interview that they were looking into AI generated solutions. It’s only a matter of time before we start to widely see this in actual subtitles for Japanese, where we get the worst of both camps of auto-transcription & AI translations. (Discounting the Yuzuki incident, as those were licensor provided subs, & vast majority of Chinese content as CR gets Bilibili subs).

Why Piracy Fears are Keeping Some Researchers from Accessing the Games They Need (IGN, Rebekah Valentine)

The corporate need to control “intellectual property” remains at loggerheads with the desire to preserve art.

“The trade associations come to these DMCA hearings with a certain overarching policy goal of protecting maximum copyright control,” he says. “I think that’s the difference between the ESA and its individual members, if that makes sense. If you call any particular member, they might say, ‘Well, I don’t know. Sure. I mean, all things considered, I don’t see what the problem is with preservation and research access.’ But…these groups like ESA, that come, I think, out of sync with the communities, like the game developers or the smaller companies. Probably the biggest companies agree with maximalist protectionist point of view because their general interest is to protect their massive back catalogs at all costs. But I think most reasonable middle of the road people in the community don’t share that perspective.”

Butler points out that the ESA has done this song and dance before, too. It previously opposed a number of other preservation-focused adjustments to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, usually with similar arguments, only to have those amendments go through without sparking a massive uptick in piracy. Even now, the ESA says it supports the law as it currently stands, which includes a number of policies it previously opposed. Through that lens, the battle between preservationists and the ESA seems less like an issue of principles and more like a fight over whether or not an arbitrary line should be moved or not.

So I ask Butler if, in his eyes, it makes sense to keep going even if it wins this particular battle – to keep lifting restrictions on digital access until there are none left. He isn’t interested in going that far, but he does want to make sure that professional academics don’t have to struggle to access research materials, no matter where they happen to live. If the SPN can secure remote access for researchers and preservationists, but it’s apparent there are still issues with academic access to video games, he and the SPN will work out how best to make that request. It all comes down to meeting the needs of video game preservation and research.

More Japan university students join protests against Israel invasion of Gaza (The Mainichi, Ai Kunimoto)

Protests have been growing at universities across Tokyo.

At the University of Tokyo’s Komaba campus in the capital’s Meguro Ward, a “Palestine solidarity camp” is being run in solidarity with the efforts at American universities.

Shiki Yasojima, a third-year student in the Faculty of Agriculture, began staying overnight in front of the campus library on April 26. The 25-year-old told the Mainichi Shimbun, “After seeing news about American university students, I couldn’t just stand by, so I came here.” As the number of participants grew, so did the number of tents, with over 50 people apparently having stayed overnight so far.

On May 6, the students submitted a document to the university, echoing the demands of those in the U.S., calling for disclosure of information on the faculty’s alignment with Israeli companies and related firms and for divestment of funds, while condemning Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip and urging the university to respond.

Yasojima expressed concern, saying, “Unlike in the U.S., the university told us that camping itself is not a problem. However, in the worst-case scenario, our demands won’t be met and the students are forced to give up after running out of energy.”

VIDEO: On the collapse of the animator apprenticeship system.

AniFem Community

Nice span of titles from the “classic” to the modern.

Cipher!! Just an absolutely baffling OVA, why were any of the choices made the way they were.
Every once in a while I take delight in reminding everyone that Vatican Miracle Examiner was an anime that existed and it was a beautiful goofy trainwreck.
Garzey's Wing, the English dub is all-time classic of so-bad-it's-good   "12th and 13th century foreigners surround me." "I must somehow make sense of our convoluted situation."

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