All the winter reviews in one place, with updated content notes where available.
Anime Feminist Recommendations of Fall 2022
The team reports back on one of the strongest seasons in recent memory.
Chatty AF 177: Haibane Renmei Retrospective – Episodes 1-7
Chiaki leads Vrai and Cy on a look back at the first half of Abe Yoshitoshi’s third series.
What “tough sell” anime are you determined to share with others?
Y’know, the one that needs three sets of explanation before you get to the pitch.
Rocking Out in History With Inu-Oh Director Masaaki Yuasa (Anime News Network, Kalai Chik)
Interview with Yuasa following a recent screening of his newest film.
Yuasa: In history, I think there’s a lot of stories that are written down about samurai who won and conquered everything that ended up on the top. But I think the people who lost the war, or the commoners, are not written down. This story that INU-OH is based on tells the story of INU-OH whose name remains, but there’s no history or records of what this person was like.
Mr. Furukawa, who wrote the novel, created the story imagining what kind of person he was, what the commoners were like, what the commoners’ reactions were like to his performances. I really thought it would be interesting to depict people who were not written down or recorded in history.
Of course, whenever we see one of your movies, we know that we’re going to see the unexpected and something totally original. In this case too, it was amazing how you took this classic story that’s in an important century to Japan, and gave a completely moderate and contemporary approach. Can you tell us a little bit about how you decided to bring modern music to it? Like making it a rock opera?
Yuasa: Even though this is a history piece, it’s really about outsiders who try to rise up in society and accomplish something. I thought the rock music would fit into that theme of the story. Also, when we think about the past, we have this narrow sense of view because it’s really based on what’s written down on record. I think in the past, people had way more imagination, way more than was written down in history. So then I wanted to show that people in the past are not that different from us. They probably had big imaginations and they probably could have done things that we could have done, but I wanted to bring in modern elements to make it a little more interesting.
When you see someone playing a guitar on their back, you think of Jimmy [sic] Hendricks. But actually, was someone in the 40s who did that too. Or if you go way back, like 1600 years ago, there’s a Chinese mural that has a person playing a biwa behind their back. That made me think, “Ok, maybe someone might hold a biwa and play it like how you would hold and play a guitar on your back.” That’s sort of what I incorporated.
Anti-stalking orders in Japan proving no safety guarantee for victims (The Mainichi)
The most recent victim consulted the police multiple times about being followed before she was fatally stabbed by her ex. Increased penalties have thus far had no notable effect on attacks.
Instances of stalking are on the increase nationwide in Japan. According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, cases in which the regulation law prohibiting stalking is invoked have been rising.
In recent years, nationwide police consultations involving stalking have hovered around 20,000. In 2021, 1,671 prohibition orders against stalkers were issued — a record high.
In 2016, there were 173 cases, but since the revision of the stalking control law came into effect in 2017, it has become possible to issue prohibition orders without first giving a warning, and the number has sharply increased.
In 2021, 1,581 cases involving criminal offenses and special laws related to stalking were revealed, an increase of 63 from the previous year. In the case of a woman who was murdered in Kitakyushu in November 2021, her ex-boyfriend who was arrested for the crime had also been issued an order due to his harassing behavior.
The initial regulation law came into force in 2000 after the murder of a female university student in Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture.
ASDF accused of appropriating Ainu culture with new logo (The Asahi Shimbun, Hideki Motoyama)
While the ASDF consulted with the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, it made no mention of the Ainu in its unveiling of the symbol.
One scholar said since indigenous imagery is not protected under the law, people need to be careful about how they use it and seek consent.
“The culture of native people has not been protected by the Copyright Law,” said Yoko Shida, a professor of arts law at Musashino Art University. “But recently, there has been a debate that it should be protected as the intellectual property of a group. When the majority uses it, it needs to show respect to the parties concerned and should avoid careless appropriation of it against the will of the parties concerned.”
Shida pointed to the history of the Ainu people, who have long been exploited and discriminated against by Japanese colonizers.
“There are some among the Ainu people who react strongly against the SDF,” Shida said. “(The ASDF) should have been sensitive (to this).”
The Ainu Association of Hokkaido acknowledged it has little control over the use of these images.
“We told the SDF that we do not have the authority to grant the use of patterns,” said a representative of the association. “Under the current circumstances, anybody can use the patterns.”
In 2019, a law to promote policies related to the Ainu people was enacted, legally recognizing them as indigenous people in Japan. But the law has been criticized for falling short and the Ainu continue to struggle for autonomy.
Persona 3 & 4 Translators Left Out Of Game’s Credits (Kotaku, Luke Plunkett)
The translators for the German, French, Spanish, and Italian subtitles were left uncredited, not by Sony but third party Keywords Studios.
“I’ve been told by contractors who work at Keywords that they have been ‘forbidden to speak out about crediting’ and ‘low-key threatened’ about it”, she says. “They do sometimes credit their Project Managers, but not the contractors who actually write the text FIGS players read to play and enjoy the game. Given that Persona is an extremely dialogue and narrative-heavy game, the localization is crucial to the game experience for FIGS players.”
Keywords has not responded to a request for comment on these policies and omissions,.
Leonoudakis chose this moment to speak up because she’s fed up with what has become a pattern in the AAA games industry. “Localization teams may work on these games for months or years, often being paid very little, to zero credit”, she says. “Not only is it morally wrong, but it makes it harder for translators and localization professionals to find work later. If you can’t prove you did all the translation for a triple-A game, how can you put it on your resume?”.
This is the same argument being made across the industry, and something we’ve written about extensively. People crucial to a big video game’s release are left out of its credits all the time, for a variety of reasons, from petty power plays to administrative oversights. Whatever the excuse, the result is the same: people who have spent years of their lives working to bring you a game are missing out on the public thanks (and professional recognition) they deserve.
Qualia the Purple Review (Anime News Network, Christopher Farris)
The landmark 2009 yuri light novel has finally been released in English.
It is worth it though, because once the technical explanations level off and the quantum physics-based intrigue picks up, so does the tone and intensity of the writing. Ueo clearly understands the value of keeping things evenly interesting, and so the story is peppered with odd bits of ominous foreshadowing and suggestions of odd places the plot could skip ahead to, as about halfway through you can start making guesses as to what Qualia the Purple is actually going to be “about”. It’s laid out alongside points like Manabu clarifying that this story is in fact really about her, just with Yukari and her eyes as a key driving element, ratcheting up that tension and intrigue in the nature of the narrative itself even before an on-page warning directly tells you: “Be warned, reader: the story takes a sharp left turn from here”.
It all collides into a heady mix of physics-based thought experiments as a vector for a character’s massively-scaled emotional journey. Even more so than the quantum backdrop to the narrative, some of the directions that this story goes might be the more alienating parts of Qualia the Purple. Again, they’re points the writing itself is gracious enough to let you know about ahead of time. But there’s still contention in, for example, the advertised yuri elements of the book finally becoming explicit partway through, but not necessarily with who or how the reader might expect. It is, as with much of the scientific theorizing, something of a leap, though one that arguably helps crystalize and clarify the true emotional center of the story. It might just be one of the most heartwarming, romantic applications of quantum physics you’ve yet seen. And if it also feels like a too-vague, easy cop-out in parts of its finish, subsisting largely on mere theorizing to the very end, it has the generosity to end on a comparatively simple, ambiguous note. But this is definitely a story more about the concepts and questions it’s provoking along the way before getting there.
Japan Gov’t to open women’s support office for abuse, poverty sufferers (The Mainichi)
The new office places an emphasis on considering victims of sexual or domestic violence.
Currently, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare only has three staff dedicated to women’s issues in its Child and Family Policy Bureau, who deal mostly with cases such as financially struggling young single mothers.
Japan’s parliament last May passed a bill for a law to enhance public support for women facing difficult issues such as poverty and domestic violence, with the welfare ministry strengthening coordination with local governments, nonprofit organizations and other support groups ahead of the law’s enactment in April 2024.
At present, the system of support for women is based on the country’s 1956 anti-prostitution law, which is aimed at protecting those who feel their only way out of their situation is through prostitution.
New film sheds light on plight of Japanese-Brazilians (The Asahi Shimbun, Ari Hirayama)
The film cast both established Japanese actors and Japanese-Brazilian actors with no prior experience to bring their experiences to the film.
Although “Familia” shows its subjects struggling with poverty, discrimination and delinquency, the cast members said they are happy that the film sheds light on what their lives are actually like.
“I felt like I joined the production on behalf of Brazilians,” said Sagae.
“The movie shows how we really live and suffer,” Waked added.
Given the falling birthrate and aging population, there is an increasing need for foreign workers in Japan, meaning more support is needed to ensure mistakes from the past do not repeat themselves.
“(What is shown in the movie) could happen anywhere in Japan in the future,” said Kiyoe Ito, head director of Torcida, a nonprofit organization that has been supporting Brazilians at the Homi housing estate from about 30 years ago. “We have to be able to accept each other. It would be a big step forward (toward an inclusive society) if people who are not interested see the film.”
TWEET: Announcement of the English physical release of queer manga artist Hiranashi Mieri’s The Girl Who Can’t Get a Girlfriend.
TWEET: Comments from an established animator about production delays that stem from expecting Chinese animation houses to work over the Lunar New Year holiday, which come on the heels of two Winter 2023 anime being delayed indefinitely (allegedly due to COVID). Whether due to COVID, crunch, or a combination, all thoughts are with the production teams.
THREAD: Basic signifiers and dogwhistles that can help you spot TERF accounts online.
Always a delight to see the dedicated Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and Chihayafuru torchbearers.
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