Weekly Round-Up, 18-24 October 2023: Bleach Recasting, Love Live Plagiarism, and Women Firefighters

By: Anime Feminist October 24, 20230 Comments
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AniFem Round-Up

Reconsidering Belladonna of Sadness: Still powerful after almost 50 years

With Discotek’s exciting rerelease on the horizon, it’s a good time to look back at this moving examination of patriarchal violence and women’s sexual agency.

Wolf Queens and Girl Heroes: How Lonely Castle in the Mirror plays with gendered fairytale tropes

The novel that was recently adapted into a hit film interrogates the tropes of female villainy and how those characters relate to the heroine.

The Apothecary Diaries – Episode 1

Must-watch material for anyone interested in Chinese-inspired historical dramas and gremlin heroines.

What was your favorite Summer 2023 anime?

Think back, back before the deluge of new Fall shows.

Beyond AniFem

‘No singing’: Outdated culture stifles women’s role in Japan’s volunteer firefighting teams (The Mainichi, Eri Misono)

Women firefighters are restricted from participating in many of the tasks taken on by their male colleagues.

The squad branch leader who spoke with the Mainichi Shimbun is the only woman attending her brigade’s regularly scheduled board meeting. In addition to the volunteer squad’s leadership, representatives from the fire department and city hall are all men. “I hesitate when asked if I can offer a women’s point of view on my own. The national government is calling for greater women’s participation, but if that’s the case, I’d like them to first create volunteer firefighting teams where women can play an active role and shine.”

Professor Shozo Nagata, a specialist in disaster mitigation administration at Kansai University, mentioned two main factors behind the current situation. First, women are unable to participate in decision-making even after joining. “Most women join all-female divisions. Men who join regular divisions are able to work their way up the ranks to the top, but for the female branches, the ceiling is branch leader,” Nagata explained.

The first female volunteer firefighting team is thought to have been a “firefighting women” group established in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, in 1910, according to Nagata. The women of the town protected their homes as fishermen were out at sea.

The first national policy on female volunteer firefighters was released in the 1980s. “Some places strongly resist and had old-fashioned ideas about women joining the squads,” Nagata said. And even after all the decades since, around 20% of forces still do not have a single female member.

Bleach Stars Break Silence on Recent Recasting Controversy (ComicBook, Megan Peters)

Anairis Quiñones was initially cast as Yoruichi in Thousand Year Blood War before the offer was rescinded and given to original Bleach dub voice Wendee Lee, who then spent a day on social media sniping at people comforting Quiñones.

Some hours later, Quiñones addressed the situation with their own response. You can read the actor’s thread below:

“When I was cast as Yoruichi earlier this year, I knew I had to mentally prepare myself for backlash. I was excited as someone who grew up watching Bleach, and excited for the POC community who had seen themselves in her. I was determined to do my best. I almost didn’t announce it. I didn’t want to “invite” the negative attention. But I knew it was a big deal and did it anyway. I did my very best to remind myself where some of it was coming from, and focused on all the love. And there was so much. Again, thank you.”

“A few days later, I received a phone call informing me they would like to give the role to WL. I was upset, most of all for the fans that were excited about the recast. It was a bizarre situation. It wasn’t my first time being recast, but definitely the strangest circumstance. [Wendee Lee], I recognize & appreciate you’ve reached out privately to apologize for how your replies made the situation “blow up.” But this started the moment I made my casting announcement. I understand where you’re coming from, but your words were unkind towards my peers. I haven’t responded to Wendee privately as I have no energy or interest in participating in this situation more than I already have. I am not ready to talk. Please respect that.”

‘Stop the war!’: 300 protest in Fukuoka against attacks on Gaza (The Mainichi, Kohei Shimizu)

Japan is currently providing aid with stated support of a two-state solution.

The demonstration was organized by Osama Eljamal, 49, a native of the Gaza Strip, one of the two Palestinian territories, and associate professor at Kyushu University living in Fukuoka, and the Fukuoka Palestine association, a citizens’ group that has long supported Palestinian refugees. Prior to the march, Eljamal appealed that he wants people to know what is happening in Palestine.

After leaving Tenjin Central Park in Fukuoka’s Chuo Ward, the participants marched about 300 meters through the ward. They held banners and placards with slogans such as “Peace in Palestine!” and called for an end to the fighting, shouting, “Free Palestine,” and, “Stop the war!”

Eljamal’s 16-year-old daughter, who spoke on behalf of the participants, said “I have not been able to contact my grandparents in Gaza. I need your help so that the war can be over soon and life can return to normal.”

Mutair Sami, 45, a corporate employee living in the city of Saga and a native of Gaza, said, “My mother and siblings are in Gaza. I want this massacre to stop now.”

Developing a Diverse Cast in Kia Asamiya’s Silent Möbius (Anime News Network, Toni Sun)

The manga focuses on an all-women combat team in a cyberpunk setting.

One of the first things I noticed when reading Silent Möbius is the blending of different genres and cultures: the supernatural and the fantastical with science fiction dystopia. I was wondering how you approach bringing different kinds of genres and cultures together in your work?

Kia Asamiya: At the base of it is definitely cyberpunk. And, like Silent Möbius, many things in the late 80s were heavily inspired by cyberpunk properties such as Blade Runner. However, if you go with the same premise as Blade Runner, you’re gonna crash and burn. So cyberpunk is one of the elements, but another element of it is things like the spiritual part, the Lucifer Hawk part, and then putting that together with a multinational women-only group. That’s basically where Silent Möbius is coming from.

Was there a particular reason you chose to focus specifically on women in an ensemble cast?

ASAMIYA: I would say that what you mentioned with regard to “ensemble” is actually really interesting because I feel that “ensemble” is an excellent way to say it. There is actually a musical element to it, as the organization is named AMP. It comes from the musical audio amp, as in an amplifier. So, I believe the amp is just as important as the speaker to get the message across in this world. That is also seen from the diversity—having everyone in the cast excel at their own specialties, with their own background. For example, they’re all female, but everyone is different because you have a mage, a spiritualist, an onmyōdō specialist, a cyborg, an ESPer, and a cyber information specialist. They all have different things that they’re good at. Then the AMP is there to amplify “the sound” worldwide.

Love Live! accused of plagiarizing lolita designs (Stephano)

The promo image was for an upcoming pop-up shop in Harajuku ALTA.

To add to the proof, several questions about the goal of promo art came to mind.

1. Harajuku ALTA doesn’t even have any lolita shops inside of it, so why did they want them to wear lolita? If I had to guess, they wanted to capture the spirit of Takeshita Street and alternative fashion, but modern day lolitas avoid Takeshita Street when they can since it’s become too crowded with tourists.

2. If they wanted to honor Harajuku fashion, then why are most of them wearing Chinese lolita brands?

3. Ozz On is even a Japanese brand, so why didn’t Love Live! make an official collaboration? Other large idol franchises have collaborated with lolita brands before. One example being a collaboration between Japanese lolita brand Metamorphose and BanG Dream!’s Roselia group.

All of these questions lead me to believe that the Love Live! team decided to choose Chinese brand dresses to avoid upsetting Japanese brands.

Using visual references is a fundamental part of learning to draw. That’s an art fundamental and it’s fine for personal use. But when you’re doing commercial art for a multi million dollar franchise, there’s no excuse for plagiarism.

I’m in Love with the Villainess: Advocating Equality for Gender and Sexual Minorities Among Indonesian Audiences, Guest Review by Lena Tama (Okazu)

Framing the impact of episode 3’s discussion for the Indonesian anime community.

Admittedly, anime as a medium is still perceived as nothing more than a childish show among Indonesian people in general, especially knowing that there hasn’t been any thought-provoking  anime being broadcasted on local television channels since Indonesia first broadcasted anime on TVRI TV station in 1970 with the title Wanpaku Omukashi Kum Kum.

Adding to that is the broadcast of anime with elements of gender and sexual minorities, or the lack thereof. For decades, the nation’s most frequent anime on local television have been simply a repeat of Doraemon, Dragon Ball, Naruto, and the likes without adding anything new to the table.

The closest thing to an anime with gender and sexual minorities theme broadcasted in the country was Sailor Moon which aired on Indosiar TV station in the 90s. However, the Indonesian localization team downplayed the sapphic relationship  between Sailor Uranus (Haruka Tenou) and Sailor Neptunus (Michiru Kaiou) in the same way the Western localization altered their relationship into one of familial between cousins.

This leads to the discovery of anime through the internet with people’s knowledge toward anime and its vast genre spreading wide via international TV stations, official DVD releases, and illegal streaming sites. And yet, yuri and yaoi anime retain a negative perception among Indonesian people who are openly hostile toward gender and sexual minorities, all while also perceiving a general consensus that the aforementioned genres are nothing more than a form of fanservice in its full hypocrisy.

Detective Pikachu Returns Review (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge)

Spoiler-inclusive review of the new game.

Detective Pikachu Returns is starkly political, from a franchise best known for capturing monsters to wage battle to win collectible badges. That reputation isn’t wholly accurate, and past iterations in the US$88 billion franchise have tackled topics like climate change, colonization in Japan, and monopolization of energy resources, to name a few. What separates Detective Pikachu Returns is its willingness to engage in film noir tropes and, be it intentional or not, unflinchingly tackle political and police corruption in a way that feels surprisingly modern.

LDP’s Sugita hit with 2nd human rights violation ruling in posts targeting Koreans in Japan (The Mainichi, Ken Uzuka)

This follows a complaint about Sugita making discriminatory comments about Ainu people.

The complaint stemmed from online comments Sugita made in 2016. The three women joined a meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva that February as members of a nongovernmental organization. Sugita, who was also present, posted comments on her blog and Facebook account, including, “There were even old women cosplayers in chima jeogori (traditional Korean attire) and Ainu ethnic costumes. They are totally lacking in integrity,” and, “To be honest, they look filthy.” She also posted a photo of the three Korean women in chima jeogori.

According to the Osaka Legal Affairs Bureau, it investigated eight statements Sugita made on her blog, on Facebook and in books. Of these, five, including at least one blog comment, were determined to “violate human rights by their nature.” The bureau said it took action to raise Sugita’s awareness, but did not offer any details.

One of the three complainants, a third-generation Korean resident of Japan in her 60s, said, “It means a lot for human rights abuses against us foreigners to be recognized, following a similar ruling on her posts against Ainu people. We are relieved.”

Sugita has a history of making inflammatory, discriminatory remarks against sexual minorities and victims of sexual violence. In 2022, an opposition party member questioned Sugita in the Diet over her posts about the Korean residents of Japan, and she subsequently resigned as parliamentary vice minister for internal affairs and communications.

Growing number of Japan municipalities ban outing LGBT individuals (The Mainichi)

Currently none of these ordinances carry legal penalties.

As of Oct. 1, the number of municipalities launching ordinances forbidding outing had increased fivefold over the past three years to 26 across 12 prefectures, including Mie and Saitama, according to the Research Institute of Local Government and municipal officials.

Outing, which constitutes a serious human rights violation, was defined as a form of abuse of power in the guidelines for legislation that came into effect in June 2020 on women’s empowerment and harassment regulation.

In July this year, it was disclosed that a man had been deemed eligible for compensation from his employer by a Tokyo labor office last year after his boss revealed he was gay without his consent, but the current law is limited in scope to the workplace.

The harmful consequences of outing hit the national consciousness in 2015, when a graduate student of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo died after plunging from a school building in an apparent suicide after being outed as homosexual.

VIDEO: Suggestions for shoujo series to try if you like these big shounen titles.

AniFem Community

Okay, it was a small batch, but they were still pretty great.

Zom 100 was my favorite, even though we only got 75% of it. I knew it was going to be a dark comedy, but I didn't expect how totally it understands the PTSD that comes from having had an abusive job
New title: Bounced between My Happy Marriage and Undead Girl Murder Farce, although nothing really captured my interest all that much.  Continuation: Spy Classroom, even if they never did say anything more about the male lead being aroace.  Surprises: I didn't expect the two shows that were most interesting and enjoyable to be Chinese donghua series. Soulmate Adventure returned for a long-awaited second season, and Since I Wasn't the Heroine gave isekai an interesting new twist. Both are available on Bilibili's YouTube channel, so give them a try!
BanG Dream: It's MYGO!!!!! followed by Reborn as a Vending Machine. Both of them surprised me.

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