Weekly Round-Up, 19-25 July 2023: Dark Sapphic Light Novel, Unethical AI Voice Generation, and a CLAMP Tribute

By: Anime Feminist July 25, 20230 Comments
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AniFem Round-Up

2023 Summer Premiere Digest

All of our premiere reviews, plus some updates on second episodes.

Anime Feminist Recommendations of Spring 2023

Our favorites from a truly spectacularly stacked season.

Chatty AF 188: 2023 Spring Wrap-Up

Alex, Vrai, and Peter (with guest appearance by Toni) try to tackle the spring bounty.

What would your ideal anime double-feature be?

My Neighbor Totoro/Grave of the Fireflies was the original Barbenheimer.

Bonus Podcast (with Transcript) 2023 July: What’s a Fate?

In which Alex does their level best to explain the gigantic Fate franchise’s origins to an unfamiliar Cy and Vrai. 

Beyond AniFem

I Live To Serve The Witch: A Dark Romance Novel (Kickstarter, Jacque Aye)

Adorned by Chi and The Magical Girl’s Guide to Life creator is kickstarting a sapphic light novel.

Ceciline lives to serve her Mistress—the wise, warm, and mysterious witch who raised her. Together, they live a peaceful life tucked away in their cottage in the woods. The witch works her magic, and Ceciline follows closely behind, sweeping floors, gathering ingredients, and staying alert should her Mistress need her for anything. The witch refuses to teach her any spells or incantations. But Ceciline doesn’t mind. She’s perfectly happy with the way things are. She only wishes to be useful.

But things change when a mysterious traveler lands on her doorstep with a thump. And the closer the two become, the more Ceciline questions whether the witch is protecting her…or imprisoning her. 

I Live to Serve the Witch is a story about trauma, and how it tends to be passed on and on and on and…

Tears of the Kingdom shows that without change, accessibility in Nintendo games will remain accidental (Eurogamer, Geoffrey Bunting)

Series director Aonuma previously responded to the possibility of button mapping as relinquishing too much control as designers.

When demonstrating the new homing arrows function, Aonuma let slip an interesting admission. “My eyes can’t track fast-moving objects as of late,” he said. Sixty-year-old Aonuma’s appraisal feels like an acknowledgement of the cognitive difficulties faced by older players.

Nintendo can make accessible games. Its developers do make accessible games. In fact, accessibility is baked into the company’s fundamental understanding of game design. What Aonuma’s admission shows, however, is that Nintendo considers accessibility for an age-driven market, rather than as part of an inclusive approach to design.

While Sony and Microsoft work to make gaming for everyone, Nintendo’s focus is on creating games for a wide range of age demographics – the whole family, so to speak. This is obvious when you consider how Nintendo has positioned itself as the family-oriented developer. It’s why its games are accessible to inexperienced and experienced gamers alike, but also why we see so much accidental accessibility in games that otherwise work against their disabled playerbase. It’s why homing arrows in Tears of the Kingdom are great for blind and visually-impaired players, but there are little to no considerations of how they navigate the world and story otherwise.

Understand that none of this is to actively denigrate the accessibility found in Tears of the Kingdom and other Nintendo games, accidental or otherwise. Rather, it’s to show that Nintendo understands the fundamentals of accessible game design. It gets that accessibility is about more than just settings – at a time when options are a focus for many – and clearly understands how to implement accessible features. It’s to show that it would be so easy for Nintendo to shift to being more inclusive and in the process become an industry leader – if not the industry leader – in accessible design.

Disabled author wins prestigious Japanese literary award in 1st (The Mainichi)

The award was established in 1935.

An author with a physical disability on Wednesday won Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa literary award for the first time for her work about a disabled woman’s anger and desires.

Saou Ichikawa, who has congenital myopathy, won the Akutagawa Prize for up-and-coming authors for her novel “Hunchback,” a humorous debut that also acts as a commentary on the privileges of non-disabled people.

“I wrote this with the mind that there are not many authors (with severe disabilities) like me,” Ichikawa, who uses a ventilator and electric wheelchair, said in a press conference.

“I would like everyone to think about why it is that a work like this became a first to win the Akutagawa Prize in 2023,” the 43-year-old added.

Candidate Q&A Answers (End OTW Racism)

Complete listing of how prospective AO3/OTW board members responded to submitted questions.

As part of our analysis of the Candidates Q&A answers with regards towards our goals (specifically: Updated TOS, Diversity Consultant and Transparency) we are presenting the candidates answers to questions related to these topics in a format to allow for ease of comparison. These responses are provided as they were given by the candidates and without commentary. Links are provided in the spreadsheet to the original responses.

This T-shirt collection is perfect for fans of CLAMP! (UT Magazine)

Interview with two of CLAMP’s longtime editors about their legacy.

Uchida: In shonen manga, it is the plot that drives the story forward in a clear-cut way, whereas shojo manga is driven more by the emotions of the protagonists. They are completely different on a structural level.

Saito: That’s very true. Our audience at Nakayosi is mostly made up of girls in elementary and junior high school, so our artists think about the emotions and concerns of elementary and junior high schoolers when they create their stories. The things that kids look for in stories are always changing, and I think CLAMP are very sensitive to that.

Uchida: I think that subtle, emotional stories are a challenge because they cannot be explained by logic or reason.

Saito: It’s been said that shojo manga is about the characters’ emotional reactions to what’s happening in their immediate surroundings. It is a nuanced genre in which the drama arises from what is important to one character, whose emotions cannot be easily expressed in words. It is certainly not as straightforward as shonen manga, which tends to have a lot of sports and action. But everyone experiences moments when they feel drawn more to the sentimental imaginings of shojo manga, as well as moments when they prefer the spirit of adventure and daring that you see in shonen manga. Both genres reflect core aspects of human life.

Uchida: That makes me think of how there are also shonen themes in CLAMP’s shojo manga. Rayearth has giant robots, for example, and Sakura is driven by the protagonist’s mission to collect cards. It seems to me that CLAMP’s skillful balancing of genres is what wins over readers before they even realize it.

Report: Your Favourite Gaming Actors Want You To Stop AI Generating Their Voices (TheGamer, Rhiannon Bevan)

From being shut out of work to being made to say things they have always refused to, actors are concerned by AI replicas.

Persona 5 actor Erica Lindbeck recently left Twitter after she asked fans to stop AI-generating her voice. These fans, who presumably love her performance – given that they wanted to copy it in the first place – defended the videos, claiming fair use as they’re not making any money. This justification didn’t make Lindbeck feel any better. Nor did it please other actors who backed her up, many of whom have started finding AI generators of their own voices online too.

“I’m sure that they don’t see a problem with it when they do it. I mean, they’re not making money off it, so what’s the big deal?” Yuri Lowenthal, the longtime actor known for games such as Marvel’s Spider-Man, Fire Emblem, and Persona, tells me over email.

“Well, the big deal is consent. You’re essentially appropriating someone’s identity and making them do something without their consent, and that’s not okay.”

I ask if there’s a fear that fans could inadvertently lead to game studios stealing their voices too, but he says it “already has,” something that unions want to regulate. “If no guidelines or protections exist, then it always ends in exploitation.”

“Most voice actors already belong to SAG-AFTRA, and many of us have been on the picket lines since the WGA strike because we understand the importance of what they’re fighting for. It affects all of us.”

Dads Want New Moms To Keep Doing Housework, Says Japanese Pamphlet (Unseen Japan, Jay Allen)

The survey from dads to expectant mothers has been going on annually since 2017 but recently gained attention on Japanese social media.

Based on the social media feedback, it seems like they won’t be doing that anymore. The city says that, as of today, it’ll no longer send out the controversial pamphlets. “The way the survey results and other information were presented may have encouraged a stereotypical perception of gender roles.”

Obviously, this survey flew under the radar for years before going viral. So why did it cause such a fuss now?

Besides the growth of social media, one reason is the growing awareness in Japan of gender imbalances, not just at the office, but within the home. Surveys show that Japan has one of the worst gender imbalances in home life, with women in heterosexual marriages carrying five times the housework and childrearing loads of their husbands.

This imbalance exists even in households where both couples work. A recent survey by a real estate company showed that, outside of taking out the trash, most women are primarily responsible for all the chores in their homes.

Japanese novelist Seiichi Morimura, known for trilogy about wartime army unit’s atrocities, dies (The Mainichi)

The writer passed away at age 90.

“Akuma no Hoshoku,” or “The Devil’s Gluttony,” which began as a newspaper series in 1981, became a bestseller and created a sensation across the country over atrocities committed by Japanese Imperial Army Unit 731 in China.

From its base in Japanese-controlled Harbin in China, Unit 731 and related units injected war prisoners with typhus, cholera and other diseases as research into germ warfare, according to historians and former unit members. Unit 731 is also believed to have performed vivisections and frozen prisoners to death in tests of endurance.

Morimura began contributing articles to magazines while working in hotels. He won the prestigious Edogawa Rampo Prize for his mystery fiction in 1969 and the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1973.

Born in 1933 in Saitama, just north of Tokyo, Morimura survived harsh U.S. bombings of the Tokyo region toward the end of World War II and developed pacifist principles. He wrote a book about his commitment to defending Japan’s postwar pacifist Constitution and opposing nuclear weapons. He joined protests against a 2015 reinterpretation of the constitution by then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe allowing greater military activity.

His 1976 novel “Ningen no Shomei” (“Proof of the Man”), a mystery about a young Black man who is murdered, revealed the dark side of postwar Japan and was made into a movie.

Another popular novel, “Yasei no Shomei” (“Proof of the Wild”), published a year later depicts a conspiracy over genocide in a remote village.

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers Episodes 1-10 Streaming (Anime News Network, Caitlin Moore)

Stilted moments of animation can’t bring down incredible source material.

Don’t get me wrong; Ōoku’s story is excellent because Fumi Yoshinaga‘s manga is excellent. The script, penned by newcomer Rika Takasugi, hews closely to the original and makes few changes if any at all. Yoshinaga’s complex character writing and nuanced exploration of patriarchal systems come through fully intact, except for the rare moments where the animation holds them back. In 1635, Japan closed its borders to all but a few Dutch traders who still had extremely limited access. This closure was ostensibly to eliminate foreign influence, but what if there was another pressing reason to prevent other nations from knowing what was happening within Japan’s borders? A reason that would make them vulnerable to foreign invasion, and rival nations would be all too happy to take advantage of it. What if it became a nation mostly of women seen as lesser than men in most of the world?

In the hands of a lesser storyteller, this could have easily led to a girl-power fantasy where everything is instantly better because women are superior to men, a harem series, or a dozen other simplistic directions focusing solely on the war of the sexes. But not Ōoku, oh no. The 80-minute first episode, which could stand alone as a film in its own right, takes place several generations after the red face pox dramatically shifted the gender balance. Women are fully in charge of the government, while men are protected and treasured. The young man Mizuno enters the Ōoku, and the seven-year-old emperor dies shortly after. Yoshimune, a member of a branch family, takes over and is horrified by the wastefulness she sees at every turn, including the keeping of dozens of young, fertile men solely for her consumption.

VIDEO: A deep dive into the history of Lala magazine.

AniFem Community

Some real nice pitches, AniFam. Good work.

Theme: It's 2018 and women directors are going to make you cry  Films: Liz and the Blue Bird (2018) / Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (2018)
Triple feature of Revue Starlight the Movie, PMMM: Rebellion Story, and The Adolescence of Utena, in that order. Just six hours straight of surrealist lesbian relationship problems.

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