Weekly Round-Up, 18-24 May 2022: Asexual Manga, Otome Game Demand, and Bloober Silent Hill

By: Anime Feminist May 24, 20220 Comments
Eigo clenching her fist with an angry smile against a background of flames

AniFem Round-Up

How shoujo manga helps me grapple with internalized misogyny

Shojo & Tell host Ashley McDonnell shares how she came to love the genre, and how it’s continued to help her challenge her own assumptions about femininity over the decades.

Death Notes on Camp: Repurposing a classic

Lucas DeRuyter argues that while Death Note might not hold up as a dark thriller about the human condition, it’s a pretty good time as camp melodrama.

What abandoned Tokyopop license would you like to see rescued?

There are so many options, it might be difficult to pick just one.

May Bonus Podcast: Anime’s Neighbors

$5 patrons can listen to our monthly bonus podcast (with transcript) about “anime-adjacent” works  – things we love that aren’t anime but might appeal to fans of the medium.

Beyond AniFem

Built on Bodies (Bullet Points, Andrew Kiya)

How Ghostwire: Tokyo’s recreation of the titular city ends up reflecting its history of gentrification.

While overlooking the empty ruins of the city, KK even mentions this “New Tokyo” by name. His sarcasm is palpable. The government liked to talk about making the city “safe” and “smart,” but not much had changed aside from the transformation of “seedy” areas through the construction of fancy shopping centers. Where were these areas, exactly? They were the older lower-income neighborhoods, bathhouses, and parks where the unhoused slept at night. Shibuya’s Miyashita Park, for example, was home to the houseless for decades. In 2017, the police forcefully evicted the people living there. Now it’s a three-story shopping complex.

According to these policymakers, change requires sacrifice. It’s a fact that Tokyo knows in its blood and bones, both above ground and below. Buried beneath layers of concrete is everything from temples, shrines, and houses, to entire cemeteries, tombs, and burial mounds. Centuries of human history hide just under our feet and—would you look at that—some just happen to be situated in prime development real estate. So, what do you do when history is getting in the way of progress? The same thing you do to the homeless and impoverished: move them somewhere else. After all, the dead can’t speak. Out of sight, out of mind.

The houseless and impoverished are living human beings; burial sites and dilapidated buildings are not. But there’s a horrifying similarity in the way the ruling class treats these two completely different things. It mirrors the way Japanese conservative politicians talk about the LGBTQ community, for example—a conversation entirely focused on a neoliberal definition of “productivity”—where, if the existence of said group does not benefit the capitalist machine through the birthing of children, for example, they possess no raison d’être, and were thus sites for the government to do whatever they pleased.

Asexuality in Manga and More: 2022 Addendum (Coherent Cats, Malia and Flamwenco Girl)

An updated list of manga with ace and/or aro characters in English-translated manga.

There are plenty more “aro/ace-applicable characters” out there, even if they’re not at the forefront of their respective series. Other recent examples include but are not limited to Kira in My Androgynous Boyfriend, Izutsumi in Delicious in Dungeon, and Sasu in The Case Files of Jeweler Richard.

Of course, the manga listed here only scratch the surface of works available in Japan. There are probably many more manga incorporating and representing asexual and nonsexual identity that are unavailable or even unknown to us. For example, the boys love manga Hatsukoi Catharsis (“First Love Catharsis”) by Nuko Hatakawa follows the relationship between a self-identified nonsexual man and an allosexual man.

In the English manga market, we have more on the way. Kodansha announced the license of Is Love the Answer?, another manga by Uta Isaki (creator of Mine-kun is Asexual). The self-contained volume follows an aromantic asexual woman navigating amatonormative society. More manga by the openly asexual mangaka Yuhki Kamatani are available than ever, including the ongoing Hiraeth: The End of the Journey and the upcoming Shonen Note: Boy Soprano.

Crunchyroll’s Move Back to In-Person Dub Recording Sparks Union Discussion (Anime News Network, Evan Minto)

Recent conversations around wages and unionization have intensified as Crunchyroll moves back to exclusively doing in-person over remote recordings.

An ANN analysis of recent castings as of May 10 reveals the proportion of Crunchyroll roles going to talent based outside of Texas in the Spring 2022 season dropped to less than half that of Winter 2022. This is partially explained by heavier use of Texas-based ADR directors compared to last season, but even shows directed outside of Texas had significantly fewer remote castings than in the winter.

In public Twitter threads and private conversations, actors complained of roles being recast from remote actors to Texas-based ones, with directors in some cases reportedly told not to cast outside of Texas. ANN did not find anyone willing to go on the record with specific examples, and many performers feared retaliation for speaking out. Notably, Texas is a right-to-work state, meaning that state laws curtailing unions will likely make organizing actors to demand a contract much more difficult.

Why the shift all of a sudden? According to Crunchyroll, they’ve “reopened and expanded,” and this is just a part of that process. The company also recently upgraded their studio space and likely wants to get use out of their investment. In the roundtable Miller also acknowledged the additional costs of remote recording, most notably the audio engineering work to normalize sound quality between different recording spaces. Whatever the reasons, the new approach has hit actors outside of Texas hard, and many complained that they were never officially notified of the change in policy. In a Twitter thread, Risa Mei highlighted the importance of remote recording for auto-immune disabled actors, calling the abrupt return to in-person recording “inhumane.” Mei explained in an e-mail to Anime News Network that for Texas-based actors who are immuno-compromised, it is still dangerous for them to come in-person for studio recording.

“It is inhumane for them to demand that Texas-based actors with auto-immune disabilities still come to the studio to work. This is not specific to just talent, but for production as well,” Mei wrote.

Publishers Please Do Better By Western Otome Gamers (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

Otome games still make up a small percentage of localized titles despite the dedicated English-language fanbase.

In the year of our lord 2022, at a time when otome gamers have been blessed with more otome localizations than we can feasibly play, otome fans are still having to prove that there is a demand for otome games in the West. What’s worse is this new wave of frustration was brought about by Koei Tecmo, which many in the otome community know for their Ruby Party line of games, most notably the Angelique series. In a recent interview with the development team behind Touken Ranbu Warriors, the team remarked that the publisher would consider bringing Ruby Party otome games to the west “if there is a demand”. The issue further came to a head when Koei tweeted that “demand” would be determined by how well Touken Ranbu Warriors does in sales.

This has sparked controversy among otome fans on Twitter, as Touken Ranbu Warriors is NOT an otome game, but rather a joseimuke title. While it is targeted towards a female audience, it does not feature romance elements one would expect to find in an otome game. So, using sales of a musou game, like Touken Ranbu to determine demand for otome games in the west is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like apples and oranges. They are two completely different genres of games and the implication that sales of Token Ranbu Warriors correlates to interest in otome games, are baseless.

Depression, Personal Growth, and Shogi in ‘March Comes in Like a Lion’ (Baka Banter Anime Podcast)

Podcast discussion of the manga and anime adaptation.

‘March Comes in Like a Lion’ is a masterpiece that beautifully delivers on character-driven stories via internal monologues, nuanced dialogue, and effective imagery centered around the world of shogi. Ionatan and Ravi dive deep into the series, discussing the strengths of Chica Umino’s writing and Akiyuki Shinbo’s adaptation, the realistic depictions of depression and bullying, and how the message of the series is ultimately optimistic in terms of personal growth and relationships.

Books on Japanese Culture and Society (Contemporary Japanese Literature, Kathryn)

A wide-ranging reading list touching on multiple subjects from influential historical events to popular culture.

This past semester I taught a class on Japanese science fiction and fantasy, and I was surprised by how interested my students were in learning more about the social and cultural context of contemporary Japan. I therefore put together a list of recommendations for popular-audience books that are smart and specific yet still accessible to a casual reader. I decided to share this list here with the hope that it might prove useful outside the classroom.

VIDEO: Why the potential news of a potential Bloober Team-led Silent Hill game is a terrible fit, given the studio’s history of mishandling stories about mental illness and trauma.

TWEET: Congrats to the workers of Seven Seas Entertainment (including our own Mercedez Clewis) for unionizing!

THREAD: Chiaki’s recommendation of a queer gender feels cosplay manga.

TWEET: Info about a free upcoming seminar about embracing diversity in Japanese higher education.

AniFem Community

We hear you, AniFam, and we share your pain.

When it comes to Tokyopop fumbling the bag, two words immediately come to mind: Initial D. And then two more, related words come to mind: DJ Milky. Need I say more? 🥴
Ciel: The Last Autumn Story! With more Korean webtoons getting translated, I keep hoping someone will look at the older, traditionally published manhwa stuck in licensing limbo and save them, and this one’s always been the most painful loss.  I’d like to see Life get brought back too, the original run ended on such a nasty cliffhanger…

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