Weekly Round-Up, 18-24 March 2020: Gender-Neutral Dresses in Animal Crossing, Chihayafuru Behind-the-Scenes, and How to Support Stars Align

By: Anime Feminist March 24, 20200 Comments
Hinata from Haikyu looking nervously away from another angry character

AniFem Round-Up

How Kingdom Hearts helped me assert my gender identity

Latonya Pennington shares their struggles with the strict binary often enforced by character creators, and how they were able to reclaim a piece of Kingdom Hearts for themself.

Rage, Mentors, and Rebellions in Classic vs. Modern Sukeban Anime Girls

Athena Zhang Baker compares the Sukeban (or Yankii) girls of Sukeban Deka and Fruits Basket to see how the archetypal gang girl has changed.

What series would you recommend as the best example of a genre you like?

It can be a great way to show off the best of your faves.

Beyond AniFem

Interview: Stars Align Director Kazuki Akane (Part 2) (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

Discussion of how international fans can help make the second half of the series happen.

Yeah. Anime these days is so expensive, you know? So with crowdfunding, you could get enough for the span of an OVA, but a cour of anime may be asking for too much.

I see. For TV anime, just a single episode can cost between 20 million to 30 million yen. So 12 episodes can cost 300 million yen. It’s hard to find people in Japan willing to dish out that much money. Overseas streaming companies offer a potential avenue, so if we can show that the anime is popular overseas, we could have a greater chance of receiving an investment. So please tell all the fans to request the streaming services to produce the continuation! And please ask that major streaming company that isn’t streaming Stars Align right now to produce the sequel. (laughs)

(laughs) I’ll be sure to write that down.

(laughs) Please do. But, you know, America is really powerful. Overseas streaming companies have branch offices in Japan, but in the end they’re based in America. So it might be better to go overseas. When something gets a positive reception in America, its appraisal may go up even in the Japanese market. I get the feeling that people who keep a close eye on the domestic market consider whether there’s been a reaction in the foreign market rather than rely purely on their own judgement.

I was really happy to receive so many tweets from overseas. Even people on Japanese twitter were surprised to see so many tweets about Stars Align in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages. They were like, “So many people overseas are watching it. Maybe it’s really good?”

Shakina Nayfack on Giving a Trans Anime Hero the Voice She Deserves (NewNowNext, Lawrence Ferber)

An interview with Hana’s English voice actress for the new Tokyo Godfathers dub.

There was some misgendering and transphobia associated with the 2003 version. What are your feelings about the original take on the character?

I don’t know what the cultural politics around trans identity were in Japan around the turn of the century when this movie was made, but there’s a big difference in 2003 trans awareness versus 2020. I recognize Hana as a trans woman like a trans woman recognizes another trans woman, so I instantly saw a character I could connect with. She lives her life as a woman and knows in her heart that God made her a woman, but even when my casting was announced some die-hard fans of the movie were saying, “Hana’s not trans—she’s a drag queen.” My first thought was, Those categories aren’t mutually exclusive, and secondly, the fact that she lives her life as a woman tells you very much who she intends to be in the world.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Doesn’t Care If Boys Wear Skirts, Whatever, It’s 2020 (Kotaku, Ian Walker)

The latest game has made all clothing gender-neutral.

But if you’re a male character that happens to pick a dress or skirt in New Leaf, Mabel will be slightly surprised at the decision and ask if it’s a gift. Trying on the traditionally feminine clothing prompts another comment from Mabel that, while not overtly rude, still manages to make things awkward.

I never found this dialogue offensive, but it certainly felt out of place in Animal Crossing. The game is all about living in a fantasy world surrounded by animal villagers of mostly indeterminate gender while paying off no-interest loans to a forgiving and understanding landlord. Why does Mabel care if I choose to wear a skirt or hair barrette while I track down rare fish and figure out the best color scheme for my bedroom?

While playing New Horizons over the last couple weeks, I was ready for more of the same from Mabel. The selection of clothing she and her sister carry is much improved from past games, but I still found myself drawn to a few of the more feminine pieces they had on display. Much to my surprise, Mabel had nothing but positive things to say about my choices, even as I stepped out of the dressing room in a ruffled dress and strappy pumps.


A celebration of indie artists and their current projects.

This is all to say that we live in a bit of a golden age of independent animation – something not limited to Japan, since these changes have also globalized the creation and consumption processes – meaning that we could be writing about these individual creators constantly, more than we already do. Last year, a group of up-and-coming artists in Kyoto organized under the name Gekigadan made a big splash with the public release of Aerial Battleship Atlantis, which you can still watch for free and with English subtitles on Youtube. This group of students had launched a crowdfunding campaign the prior year to be able to realize their dream, and that they did. Viewers all over the world immediately found their desire to become the new Gainax genuine, not just for their ability to pay homage to the studio’s iconic works without coming across as derivative, but also due to the similarities between a project like this and the Daicon opening animations that led to Gainax’s creation.

Coronavirus: Asian American groups compile hate crime reports as Trump persists in ‘Chinese virus’ attacks (San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Cabanatuan)

Info on where to report hate crimes against Asian American individuals in light of continued malicious misinformation.

Distressed by the rise in xenophobia and racism during the coronavirus pandemic, a coalition of Asian American groups based in California have created a reporting webpage for victims of virus-related hate crimes.

The Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action and San Francisco State University Asian American Studies Department are asking anyone who’s been harassed, intimidated or otherwise discriminated against for their race to share their stories on the website.

Basara Pt. 3 (with Caitlin) (Shojo and Tell)

End of a multi-part podcast discussion of the fantasy shoujo epic.

Covers volumes 19–27 of BASARA by Yumi Tamura (the last third of the series). The war epic that is BASARA finally comes to an end in this long denouement (and two volumes of side stories). Shojo manga master Caitlin and Shojo & Tell host Ashley answer a listener question about lost limbs, pay tribute to the characters who didn’t survive to the end of the story, go into the handling of the later plot developments involving the White King, Ginko, and chat about all the side stories (there were so many!). Along the way, dolphin bombs are discussed, and Nachi canonically becomes a California surfer bro.


A brief history of queer representation in anime.

In 2018, idol anime Zombie Land Saga introduced a trans girl, to relatively widespread acclaim, and as with recent gay characters, she’s treated quite seriously. The character, Lily Hoshikawa, was quickly embraced by the queer fan community, and even earned a nomination for “Best Girl” at Crunchyroll’s 2019 Anime Awards. Her unflappable smile became a rallying cry, and through the strange vehicle for transformation that is memes, she even made her way to the Scottish Parliament!

While individuals may quibble over the handling of this or that character in this or that show, one thing is clear: queer anime are thriving now, relative to where they’ve been in previous decades. Furthermore, explicit, textual representation which doesn’t end in laughs or death is no longer a rarity. Not only does this situation make it easier for those who might discover themselves through anime, it also opens up the floor for more complex portrayals of queerness that go beyond the basics. When we have more queer heroes, it’s less upsetting to see queer villains.

VIDEO: Behind-the-scenes on the making of the Chihayafuru opening.

THREAD: Update on intersectional feminist website Wear Your Voice’s financial woes, with opportunities to offer financial support in the meantime.

TWEET: Translation/summary of a Japanese op-ed about a current makeup advertisement using a nude photo that was traumatic for the model.


VIDEO: Comedy sketch about streaming services.

VIDEO: Comedy sketch about hand-washing.

AniFem Community

Sometimes “most exemplary” and “favorite” hold two different spots in our hearts.

My favorite genre has always been those shonen battle anime/manga and if I had to pick a best example it would definitely be Fullmetal Alchemist.

Fullmetal might not be my all times favorite but the truth is there's not many shows like it. From the beginning to the end we have a strong narrative where (from what I remember) everything fits together perfectly. Then we have such a strong and amazing group of characters as well and it's not just male ones as it tends to happen a lot in the genre. We have Olivier Armstrong that is a powerful woman with her own convictions and objectives that doesn't need men to make her story move forward. And even Winry that fills the love interest role is more than just a damsel in distress and actually has a job as a mechanic normally associated as a men's job. This is a really great show overall capable of making us cry, laugh, etc. (It's been a long time since I watched so feel free to correct if I said something wrong.)

My favorite show is One Piece and another close one is Naruto. This are shows that are very dear to my heart but sadly tend to suffer with the poorly way some women are written and their messy narratives (this is more of critique to Naruto, cause even tho I don't love every arc of OP Oda has been doing an amazing job at telling this extremely huge adventure).
I absolutely love slice-of-life and romance anime. Give me the slowest of slow burns and it'll be my new catnip. I'm not sure what would be the "best example" of slice-of-life, but I do love Tanaka-kun is Always Listless.

As for romance anime, I think the best example of the drama is My Love Story!!. Not only are the main characters all good good kids, but you have the standard tropes with (almost) none of the pitfalls of the genre. You got your heroic meet cute! Your beach episode! Your supportive friends! Wholesome misunderstandings that are quickly resolved! The b-plot romance! The third act rival love interest! It's so pure. It's a cinnamon roll of an anime. (are we still using that meme? i'm still using that meme)

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