Weekly Round-Up, 16-22 June 2021: Olympics Protests, Gundam Wing, and Digital Shoujo Manga

By: Anime Feminist June 22, 20210 Comments
From DRAGON GOES HOUSE-HUNTING, a princess reassuring a happy little white bird. subtitle: I'm in awe!

AniFem Round-Up

“Serves You Right”: The abolitionist condemnation of retributive justice in Akudama Drive

Inkie remembers the cult hit of 2020 and its powerful critiques of criminalization and police brutality.

My Fave is Problematic: Samurai Flamenco

Vrai celebrates one of the most gloriously, unforgettably weird anime of all time and addresses the lingering contentions around its queer romance.

What’s your favorite BL series?

The genre can be a daunting one without recommendations of where to start.

Beyond AniFem

2021 Tokyo Olympics Prompt Protest, Online Activism in Japan (Teen Vogue, Emily Burack)

Though the Olympics committee stubbornly holds the course a huge swath of the Japanese population, particularly younger people, believe it should be cancelled.

“In Japan, people feel difficulty in raising their voices due to strong peer pressure. There is great significance in social media that can help people educate themselves and lower the hurdles to raising their voices,” says Momoko Nojo, a Japanese youth activist and founder of No Youth No Japan. “Even in Japan, where the rate of participation in social movements such as demonstrations is lower than in Western countries, participation in online actions is widespread, which gives me hope.” And Nojo knows the power of online actions: In February, she launched a campaign with the hashtag #DontBeSilent that helped lead to the ouster of Tokyo Olympics president Yoshiro Mori after his sexist comments that women talk too much.

Nojo hypothesizes that many young Japanese people feel resigned to the idea that there is no chance of changing Japan, often called a “silver democracy,” where younger people are underrepresented in politics. “The graying democracy has progressed and the voices of the young are not being heard,” Nojo says. “However, if we do nothing, nothing will change.”

Although protests appear to more likely consist of older folks, there are absolutely still young people out there, demonstrating against the Olympics. For example, Akira Hayama, a college student, has been participating in protests with Hangorin No Kai, a Japanese anti-Olympics activist organization. Hayama tells Teen Vogue they were motivated to join protests because of the destructive impact of the Games. Much of the focus is on the IOC’s failure to take current COVID case numbers sufficiently seriously, but Hayama points to a long list of negative impacts from before this year: the Kasumigaoka public-housing complex evictions to build a stadium; the strengthening of police forces under new anti-terrorism initiatives; the destruction of rainforests in Malyasia and Indonesia for wood to build sporting venues in Tokyo; and the allocation of state resources to the Olympics instead of toward recovery from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Junichi Sato Reflects on Making Anime With Women, For Girls (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

Video interview and description of a recent interview with Sato for the anniversary Doremi film.

In the talk, Sato reflects on making the Ojamajo Doremi anime and its 20th anniversary film Looking for Magical DoReMi. The original Doremi anime was created for young girls, and Sato mentioned that when conceiving the original plot, he and the staff drew on their own childhood memories. The producer also did research on the reality of childhood in contemporary Japan. Although they did not set out to create a magical girl series that was markedly different from others, family structures such as single parent households were included as a natural part of depicting stories and characters that children could relate to or witness for themselves.

A similar logic was applied to the creation of Looking for Magical DoReMi, which tells the story of various women struggling with young adult problems. Sato said that the film draws upon the experiences relayed to him by the various women who worked with him on the project. When portraying experiences specific to women, Sato frankly acknowledged that although he knows about such things as part of his knowledge base, he feels a gap with his own experiences as a man. Therefore, he defers to what his female colleagues tell him, especially when it comes to depicting emotional catharsis.

Transgender American and her wife sue over gender registry (The Asahi Shimbun, Yuri Murakami)

McCready was able to change her gender marker in America, but the Japanese government will not make the change because it would mean recognizing McCready and her wife as a same-gender marriage.

A transgender American woman and her Japanese wife are suing the government for refusing to officially change her registered gender to female without listing her partner as a family relative instead of her spouse.

Elin McCready and her spouse, Midori, filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court on June 21 for violating freedom of marriage and personal rights guaranteed under the Constitution. They are seeking 2.2 million yen ($19,920) in damages.

“We’re supporting each other as a family,” Elin said at a news conference after filing the suit. “I want the central government to review its definition of a family.”

GUNDAM WING Was the Big-Robot Gateway to My First Queer Crush (Nerdist, Clint Worthington)

Clint reflects on his massive childhood love for Quatre.

I hadn’t seen an action hero quite like Quatre before: sweet and sensitive, but held his own as an equal part of the team alongside his quote-unquote “tougher” counterparts. His empathy and vulnerability made me care about him more than the roster of interchangeable brunette loners that surrounded him.

Like many closeted queers of the early Internet age, I processed my feelings in that most healthy of ways: writing Gundam Wing fanfiction. The show came about right as yaoi really hit the American fandom in the early 2000s, which mean places like Fanfiction.net and various Yahoo! Groups (remember those?) were rife with fans penning their own stories about the Gundam Wing boys getting into their own adventures—some of them romantic, most of the time with each other. 

Of course, I’d never say that I participated in such chicanery (cough cough). But as a young man figuring out his own feelings, and who felt lonely in a place that had so few people like me—even if I didn’t know what shape that outsiderdom took)—those spaces were some of my first tastes of community. 

Earthian (with Vrai Kaiser) (Shojo & Tell)

Podcast discussion of the late 80s shoujo about two angels falling in love.

Anime Feminist writer Vrai Kaiser joins Shojo & Tell host Ashley to discuss this late 1980s boys’ love hot mess of a manga. EARTHIAN starts off as a sort of mashup between PET SHOP OF HORRORS and THE GOOD PLACE and ends somewhere way, way off from that. Vrai and Ashley discuss all the religion that is (and isn’t) happening with the Catholicsploitation, how sweet Chihaya and Kagetsuya’s relationship actually is, how many of the ideas the series presents (but doesn’t follow through with) are actually still startlingly relevant, and tons more (probably problematic) topics. The journey is surprising and delightful and horrifying all at the same time.

No Friend to Girls: Kawabata Yasunari and Appropriation of Girls’ Culture (Eventbrite)

Free talk (must pre-register) hosted by the Japan Foundation of New York, to take place on July 15th.

Join us for the fourth session titled “No Friend to Girls: Kawabata Yasunari, Shōjo no tomo and the Appropriation of Girls’ Culture” with JF Former Fellow Deborah Shamoon. Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972), Japan’s first Nobel laureate in literature, is best known today for highbrow novels such as Yukiguni (Snow Country, 1935-1947). But in the 1930s and 1940s, Kawabata was deeply involved with the girls’ literary magazine Shōjo no tomo(The Girls’ Friend) as an editor and an author of novels for girls (shōjo shōsetsu). This lecture reevaluates Kawabata’s fiction in terms of his involvement with and appropriation of girls’ culture, through analysis of the novels Otome no minato (The Girl’s Harbor, 1937-1938) and Utsukushii tabi (Beautiful Journey, 1939-1941). Kawabata’s use of the idealized shōjo is consistent in his writing for girls and adults, and is a parallel to the fascist aesthetics and colonial ideology in his work of this time period.

The discussion will be followed by a live Q&A moderated by JF Former Fellow Melek Ortabasi.

Please share your questions through your Eventbrite RSVP. You may also participate in the discussion by sharing your questions in the YouTubeLive chat during the livestream.

PRESS RELEASE: Digital Manga Service Azuki Coming to Web, iOS, and Android on June 28 (Azuki Blog, Abbas Jaffrey)

The service is one of the few to offer a substantial number of shoujo/josei titles as part of a subscription model rather than a la carte.

Azuki is a new digital manga service offering hundreds of manga chapters soon after they hit stores in Japan, officially licensed and in high quality. The service will launch on June 28, 2021 on Web, iOS, and Android and will offer content for both free and subscription users. Free users will be able to access select chapters with advertisements, while those who pay a monthly subscription fee of $4.99 can read Azuki’s expansive catalog with no ads. Comment threads are available on each chapter for registered users to discuss the stories with fellow fans.

At launch, Azuki will be available in English worldwide excluding Japan, so fans everywhere can read manga in their web browser or on their mobile devices.

Azuki has announced their first publisher partnership, with Kodansha USA Publishing. Titles available at launch include worldwide hits like Attack on Titan, Tokyo Revengers, and Fairy Tail, as well as critical darlings like Land of the Lustrous and Chihayafuru. Simulpub titles, including To Your Eternity, EDENS ZERO, Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, and A Sign of Affection, will go live on the website and apps shortly after their Japanese release. Fans can also catch up on classic Kodansha titles like Battle Angel Alita, Chi’s Sweet Home, and Love Hina. The full list of titles is included below.

Crunchyroll Originals Have Been A Disaster (Anime News Network, Callum May)

An industry report on the failings of the “Crunchyroll Original” brand.

Crunchyroll has a communication problem, both internally and externally. From the lack of information about High Guardian Spice, to the complete media blackout on anything related to Crunchyroll Studios Tokyo, the streaming service has frequently failed to answer questions on their productions. This is all exacerbated by an irresponsible push for more co-productions that contribute to the current overproduction crisis that is overworking and pushing creators out of the industry. Although Crunchyroll was among many to sponsor a college animation festival in 2019, there have been no apparent moves to improve conditions on their shows. A Crunchyroll spokesperson declined to answer my question regarding working conditions.

Original programming is hardly a new trend, but it’s certainly become more popular among anime streaming services in the last five years. Netflix has become so dedicated to their Original Anime brand that they’ve even worked to expand the definition to include series produced in the United States and South Korea.

Crunchyroll‘s latest Original Series include Dantai, an afropunk sci-fi series in collaboration with Idris and Sandra Elba’s production studios, and an upcoming anime series in collaboration with WWE Studios that Crunchyroll has refused to comment on. Due to the profitability of the medium, more companies than ever before are investing in anime, and that seems to involve those in the United States as well.

“Even though they need other people to do the work for them, they want to reap all the rewards and take advantage of the people working with them by making them agree to waive their rights in advance,” says Seiji Mizushima on streaming companies.

TWEET: Ad for a wig maker who focuses primarily on Black cosplayers.

THREAD: Discussion of anti-Asian racism in Wachowski films, particularly their Speed Racer adaptation.

AniFem Community

As always, it’s worth peeking in to see the wide variety of titles folks have offered up as recommendations.

1) My favorite changes constantly. Right now, I'd say it is The Night Beyond the Tri-Cornered Window. I love the slow pace, and the mystery, and the messed up characters so much. Every time I think I know where the story is going, it throws a curve ball at me. Oh, how I long for a print release...but at least we got it in digital!  2) I prefer series generally speaking because I like to spend time with the characters and watch the relationship develop at a slower pace. That said, it seems like single volume stories seem to be more innovative/unusual. Perhaps "safer" works have a better chance at publishing success, and thus get more volumes?  3) I'd love to see The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions as an anime! The premise seems so goofy, but the execution is exquisite. It strikes the perfect balance of serious and fun for me, and I love the weird take on the vampire genre. I would absolutely love the chance to get the see the adorable little bat version of Al in color/motion.
Hmm, I can't say I've checked out enough BL anime/manga to pick a favorite, but Given was the one I really fell in love with first. The anime sent me to tears, and Mafuyu and Uenoyama's romance is really cute. I'm not smitten by the later parts of the manga yet, but the way those two have been growing in their relationship, sorting out their issues and understanding each other better, has been my favorite part of it all.  (Now if I can pick a non-Japanese BL that kinda looks like anime, the Founder of Diabolism / Modao Zushi has an animated adaptation that I watched last year and have been unable to move on from since. It's really good!)

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