Weekly Round-Up, 19-25 February 2020: Utena’s Predecessor, Robot Guide Suitcase, and Animator Working Conditions

By: Anime Feminist February 25, 20200 Comments
Nene from Hanako-kun dropping a donut into a fryer with determined tears in her eyes

AniFem Round-Up

“Afraid to Grow Up”: Gendered rage in Aggretsuko

Megan Navarro Conley focuses in on season 2 and how the show equates new character Anai’s externalized spite with Retsuko’s internalized frustrations, saying a lot about gender expectations in the process

Ranma 1/2 and the Anything-Goes School of Accidental Trans Narrative

Paul White revisits the famous genderbending manga and the ways Ranma’s anger at his curse works as an allegory for transmasculine identity.

What expired license would you like to see rescued?

Now that Paranoia Agent is back, let’s dream big.

Beyond AniFem

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers — Environmentalism and ecofascism (Medium, Ruben Ferdinand)

Analyzing the FFXIV expansion and how its narrative explores the social fallout of climate change.

What this illustrates is years into a refugee crisis caused by climate changeShadow societies have formed around the new world power, with its own economies, familial structures, and lifestyles. From the refugee perspective, they possess zero legal rights (undocumented!) and no resources, and must hope for the miniscule chance of bourgeois whimsy. For all intents and purposes, they’re hostages — it’s not like they even have the means to go back. From Eulmore’s perspective, this is a cheap pool of labour willing to work for a pittance. The scene clarifies very directly that it is in Eulmore’s direct interest to keep refugees outside of the city. Whenever they encounter some need for labour power, they just have to extend a hand and it will be kissed. The jesters add insult to injury: it’s all entertainment for them.

Through fortune, the player-character is allowed inside as a servant. It is quickly explained how Eulmorian society works. There are ‘free citizens’ and there are ‘servants’. It is legal for a free citizen to be dissatisfied with a servant at a moment’s notice — this will lead to their death, tossed from the highest point of the city into the rocky seas below. Coincidentally, death of a worker is what creates a job opportunity for another climate refugee.

The life for a free citizen, conversely, is provided for in every conceivable manner. In order to become one, an individual already has to be insanely rich. Then, all their wealth and property is claimed by the state. In return, all of their decadent desires and exorbitant pleasures are fulfilled and met. In essence, this comes down to that there exists no democracy or economic independence, not even for its free citizens. All are tied, in various forms, to a totalitarian state whose only purpose is hoarding wealth one way or another. But, being given citizenship in Eulmore puts you in with the elite, a bunch of billionaires who get to continue their lifestyles as if the world hasn’t ended.

The Traumatic Black Female Experience in K-Pop Fandoms (South Sonder)

A discussion of the harassment faced by Black female K-Pop fans, particularly those who engage with their fandom in a critical way.

Elizabeth started her Twitter account to comment on different career moves by her favorite K-pop group, BTS, not to undermine their success, but to engage with BTS’ music and content with other fans. Most of her criticisms were about Bighit Entertainment and how they were managing BTS’ career. Elizabeth said, “I would tweet about how [BigHit] was overworking the members while stifling their individual creativity, and that fans shouldn’t worship a company when we have no clue what goes on behind the scenes.” She goes on to say “from the start, I made it known to my following that I was a Black, lesbian woman. Once I opened up DMs on my account, I received hate messages from accounts with zero followers, clearly aimed at me in an attempt to tear me down.” Adding, “One person sent me a pornographic photo of a man’s penis and made homophobic jokes toward me. Once I opened my CuriousCat account with the anon function on, that’s when the real hate began.”

Be Gay Do Crimes: The mystery story model of implicit queer storytelling (AniGay, Rebecca Black)

An explanation of the “clue-finding” process of coming to conclusions as a reader, and how that applies to queer readings of texts.

But what if you — gasp! — get it wrong? What if you do your best to understand the sum of all the details and nuances and implications and red herrings and then an omniscient being appears before you and tells you that actually the author only included the polkadot umbrella detail because her daughter’s obsessed with polkadots and she intended the butler to be guilty the whole time? Well…hmm how do I put this bluntly enough…who the hell cares? Of course you risk being occasionally “wrong” any time you set out to analyze something complicated; all you can do is tie your analysis as closely as possible to the details of the text. The fact that analysis is imperfect, and that omniscient beings are not actually going to grade your work and tell you if you got it “right,” doesn’t negate the entire concept of textual analysis. And in the particular case of queer media, there are so many examples of works that are deeply, resonantly queer whose creators had to publicly tiptoe around or outright deny that fact for a long time. As for examples of works where viewing the texture of the story through a queer lens makes all the choices fall into place but only by some odd set of coincidences……well let’s be real there are no such examples. But even if there were, I repeat: Who cares? The whole endeavor of discussing queer narrative becomes deeply impoverished when we’re so terrified of the horrible fate of an occasional false positive that the only kind of analysis we accept is pointing at the dramatic reveal on the last page.

The Japanese Word “Okama” in Video Game Translations (Legends of Localization, Clyde Mandelin)

A survey of various translation choices in games over the years.

We’re working from a tiny sample size, of course, but it’s at least clear that game publishers initially tried to avoid or sidestep any okama references in translation. That practice continues to this day, but it’s also now more common to see okama references left intact and translated in proper context. We’re even starting to see the word okama left as an untranslated Japanese term when it fits the situation.

Okama in Japanese Entertainment Over Time

From the examples above, we’ve also seen that Japanese game publishers used the word okama without concern between the 1980s and 2010s. In the late 2010s, however, industry leaders began to consider okama a culturally insensitive word. Some publishers have even started to change and/or drop the use of the word okama and okama-related content. This new stance applies to new games and classic re-releases alike.

Worked To Death For Art’s Sake (Anime News Network, Zac Bertschy and Lynzee Loveridge)

A podcast discussion about the crisis of working conditions for animators.

Special guest from The Canpia Effect Callum May drops by the show for a discussion about the anime industry’s serious problem with animator overwork – plus the Crunchyroll Awards and more.

Robot suitcase guides visually impaired travelers with AI (The Asahi Shimbun, Nannichi Keiko)

The robot has a camera, sensor, and battery, and will warn for obstacles as well as point out sites of potential interest.

The project will also bring together a specialized area of expertise of each partner: Alps Alpine Co.’s haptic technology; Omron Corp.’s image recognition and sensing techniques; Shimizu Corp.’s position navigation system; and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s automotive technologies.

A joint organization set up by the five companies in December will identify challenges that must be overcome within three years through fiscal 2022 for commercializing the device.

The guide robot will first debut at airports, commercial complexes and other indoor facilities, and will then be further improved for outdoor use.

REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA and its Debt to Shinji Wada (Comicosity, Jude DeLuca)

A retrospective on the series Sukeban Deka as a predecessor to Utena.

 Labeled a shoujo manga, Sukeban Deka’s still loaded with violent imagery and frequently unhappy endings for many of its characters. People get mutilated, women are raped, and there are more than a couple of stereotypical depictions of Black characters which have not aged well at all. A frequent trend involves Saki befriending some young woman who eventually dies horribly after it’s revealed the other girl may have romantic feelings for her. This is a side representation of the “Compulsory heterosexuality” trope found in a lot of early shoujo stories (another example would by Riyoko Ikeda’s Oniisama E…), where queer women are either punished or kill off or their roles end after they marry men. Remi Mizuchi is even referred to as a dy*e by her sisters and accused of wanting to take over their school so she can have her way with young girls. It all offers a stark contrast to how Revolutionary Girl Utena was developed some twenty years later and its more, shall we say enlightened views on homosexuality. One must wonder how Utena would’ve gone if it was made in the same era as Sukeban Deka.

VIDEO: Interview with three half-Japanese individuals about their experiences in Japan.

THREAD: Discussion of the how certain fanservice art can normalize the sexualization of children

THREAD: Summary of a Japanese article (linked) about a high schooler who attempted suicide after being assaulted by a teacher and the manga based on the event

AniFem Community

Keep those torches burning, readers.

I'd love to see Swan by Ariyoshi Kyoko revived in all it's 70's era dewy melodrama! Such a lovely series, the paneling is truly amazing, especially when Luci dances 'Bolero'. The use of so much negative space gives it a haunting atmosphere. When 16 year old me read it, I was stunned.
I'm sad that CMX never finished the English release. I do own the Japanese Aizoban version, and they come with wide colour illustrations on high quality paper. <3

I'd like to see Bride of Deimos also get a finished English release, too.
Baccano! Gorgeous animation, a perfectly insane plot, and a host of colorful characters. I was too broke to buy it on disc when it was last available, and I sorely miss it.

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