Danny McLaren unpacks the troubling implications behind the fact that the Naruto universe’s first confirmed LGBTQ+ character is a former villain who preyed on young boys.
Nubia Jade Brice analyzes the sci-fi cult hit and the ways its commentary on insidious oppressive systems resembles the centuries of violence done to Black Americans.
Educational tools and fundraisers in light of the recent hate crime in Atlanta, GA.
Looking for the Next Global Rap Star in Japan (Eventbrite)
A free upcoming panel discussion today, March 23rd, at 7 pm EDT.
Hip-hop has exploded in popularity all over the world, traveling light years from its early New York roots, and Japan is no exception. However, few artists who have gained a large following in Japan have achieved the same level of success internationally. Join us for a lively conversation with Ren Stern, Frank Caracciolo, Kayvan Daragheh, and Aya Apton, the founding team from newly launched music label and production studio, Frank Renaissance, on how they are working to bring Japanese hip-hop and culture to the global stage. You’ll learn about the history of Japanese hip hop, where the industry is now and where it’s going. Moderated by Patrick St. Michel, a Tokyo-based writer covering Japanese music and pop culture. Followed by an audience Q&A.
This is the inaugural event in Japan Society’s 333 Contemporaries series, designed to engage young patrons in their twenties and thirties, who have a deep affinity for Japan and Japanese culture. Through a new series of curated annual events and programs, Contemporaries encourages a community of like-minded individuals to come together to continue Japan Society’s mission with the next generation.
Analyzing the sinister foreshadowing around Ai’s teacher, Sawaki.
First, there’s the fact that he aged her up in the painting all while making comparisons between Ai and her mother and speaking about how much he loves Ai’s mother. It’s no coincidence that in these shots, Ai looks more like her mother than ever with her hair pulled back in a similar way and a longer dress rather than her tomboyish sunflower hoodie or school uniform. Coupled with his pursuit of Ai as a model, this scene is remarkably uncomfortable to watch. It grows even more so with knowledge of what camellia flowers mean.
White camellia flowers were featured prominently in Violet Evergarden by another Wonder Egg Priority directorial inspiration, Naoko Yamada. There they painted a backdrop for the love story between a fourteen year-old princess who is being married off to an older man that she met when she was a child. In Japanese flower language, white camellias carry a message of waiting or divinity. Like many white flowers they can also mean purity and additionally have symbolism around the love between a mother and child. By contrast, red camellia flowers represent romantic or passionate love and desire. The combination of the two, against the backdrop of the older Ai in the painting and Ai’s dress could easily carry the meaning that Sawaki is waiting for Ai to become of age to pursue her romantically. He tells her specifically that it’s her when she grows up and even draws the comparison between Ai and her mother for Ai, telling Ai that soon she’ll be a strong and beautiful woman like her mother.
The yuri LN was discovered to have a significant portion of text missing; it will be restored digitally and in subsequent physical printings.
The content missing from the English release occurs in the first chapter during the characters’ frank and open discussion of LGBTQ rights and representation, a scene that earned praise from critics and LGBTQ advocates, including myself.
In the passage, Rae ponders how certain people, such as TV entertainers, would sometimes make a show or gimmick out of their homosexuality. She continues to wonder if they almost acted in a way to invite prejudice on themselves, while simultaneously she wishes that such hatred towards the queer community did not exist. Finally, she realizes that it was a way to deal with the pain of rejection from friends or crushes, as queer people may lose friends after admitting their feelings. The passage ends with the revelation that, in her previous life, this was how Rae acted.
Readers on social media were quick to express disappointment, mostly aimed at Seven Seas, for the changes. Many felt the text helped make Rae sympathetic. The character is sometimes criticized for her boldness and teasing Claire on a level that some argue borders on harassment.
Shonen Anime and the Myth of Meritocracy (Tor, Minyoung Lee)
Comparing gendered messaging in shounen vs shoujo.
Obviously, just because a genre is targeted towards a gender doesn’t necessitate that only children of the targeted gender would watch the series. I consumed both shonen and shojo growing up, along with my brother. However, the messages we subconsciously chose to instill on our girls versus our boys do seem different. For girls, we teach them to grow emotional resilience, that buying pretty accessories makes them powerful. For boys, we teach them to work hard and they will be able to overcome their obstacles. In a way, we are preparing our girls to build the internal strength to take on the punches of the world that would perhaps treat us unfairly. We’re preparing our boys for a future where their hard work would be recognized, so make sure to put in those hours.
But even for boys, even for those born with silver spoons, the world is not a strict meritocracy. It was never a meritocracy, and the pandemic showed this to us even more clearly. Even the most diligent planners couldn’t have forecast a deadly pandemic where most of us would be sheltering-in-place for almost a year, longer than the conventional “good financial advice” given to save up six months living expenses. The ten richest people in the world boosted their net worth by $400 billion during this time while almost a million Americans are unemployed. People working full time jobs are still homeless; 13 million Americans work more than two jobs. Nothing in the world seems to make sense. The rules don’t seem to apply. We are working harder than ever but we don’t seem to be able to “slay our enemies.” The plans we had for the year were put on hold because of a virus that we cannot control or forecast. The virus doesn’t even have any ill-will towards us humans.
2009: A Dating Sim Exodus (Freelansations, Tom James)
Analysis of three games released at the end of an era for the genre.
In giving up a mechanic nothing short of crucial to the identity of multiple schools of dating sim design, Miyako’s route becomes one of compromise and sacrifice at a tangible gameplay level. Many dating sims explore such relationship dynamics within their fixed story beats, but mechanically, most attempts at forcing players to grapple with the idea of compromise are typically rooted simply in the idea of making them commit to a specific route early through things such as calendar-based time limits. Rarely are they asked to give up something of genuine value to how they play a dating sim in exchange for the companionship that they seek. But because Tokimeki Memorial 4’s remaining systems are fleshed out enough to compensate for the loss of explicit intel, the gameplay of a Miyako run, if anything, feels more true to life than most any other that the series has to offer. To make it work with her and the other characters, you have to read between the lines in their dialogue. You have to read their body and facial language to determine who needs attention when. In essence, you have to appreciate, in every sense, what makes each character tick and act accordingly. Things are more difficult without that data available as a crutch, yes, but, hardly impossible. Successfully navigating those waters with Miyako to the end rewards players with a relationship that feels uniquely honest within the dating sim space. Honest not only the sense that these two longtime friends finally come clean about their feelings, but because it’s forged without the help of a framework that wouldn’t exist in reality.
VIDEO: 10 Black male artists to follow.
TWEET: Open voting for a funding grant sought by fellow intersectional nerd site But Why Tho?
THREAD: Petition to remove a bigoted Hitotsubashi University professor after the investigation of hate speech he spoke during class was ruled not harassment.
THREAD: Landmark court decision rules that sexual orientation is not a choice and thus people cannot be deprived of marriage rights based on their partner’s gender.
THREAD: Petition was recently delivered to the governor of Tokyo appealing for a partnership system.
Here are some additional resources to go with yesterday’s post.
THREAD: The academic text Visualizing Fascism is now an open-access text.
TWEET: Seminal bell hooks text “Feminism is for everybody” is available as a free PDF.
TWEET: Additional article offering training and next steps to combat anti-AAPI violence.