My Fave is Problematic: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Bella Lara Blondeau revisits the 00s megahit to celebrate its highs and grapple with its casual attitude toward sexual assault.
Kyubey’s Multi-Level Marketing Scheme: The capitalist metaphor of Madoka Magica
Audrey Dubois puts the magical girl series under a marxist lens, exploring how the heroines’ labor and suffering is exploited for an alleged “greater good.”
Chatty AF 141: Angelic Layer Watchalong – Episodes 20-26
The team reaches the end and looks back on the series as a whole.
What’s your favorite yuri series?
With so many titles localized regularly, there’s always time to pick up something new.
Discussing the Socio-Politics of Megalobox 2: Nomad with Yo Moriyama, Katsuhiko Manabe, and Kensaku Kojima (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge)
Interview with the series’ director and two writers.
MORIYAMA: Megalobox is set in a world of the near future, where characters of all kinds of nationalities appear. However, on the other side of this setting, the issues of race and immigration were always close at hand. We thought about weaving those elements into the sequel. When it comes to immigration issues, I’m no expert, but I took inspiration from the news and documentaries I’d seen until now to construct the story and create the images.
Personally, I’m influenced very strongly by films; for example, during the production I looked back on Ken Loach’s works and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. With their layered dialogue and depictions of the complicated relationships between the diverse folks living in the same place, I think that they influenced the thoughts and actions driving Chief and his compatriots, as well as the people trying to drive them away.
MANABE: There are plenty of foreigners in the town that I live in, and some of them are immigrants who had no choice but to distance themselves from their homeland. It’s a shameful thing, but there are people who are biased and discriminatory towards those immigrants.
Looking back on history, many Japanese people crossed the seas to emigrate, not just to the United States but to Central and South America as well. Japanese-Brazillians and Japanese-Peruvians live across Japan today, making communities like a casa (home). They received baseless discrimination and inadequate social services. And yet many Japanese people, including myself, saw them only as laborers, and maintained an indifference towards them. It didn’t matter if they’d lived in this country with us for over 20 years.
It may be difficult to stop the vicious cycle of fear born from ignorance, but I wanted to make a stand, however slight. That’s the feeling I poured into the story. If the story resonates, then I consider my prayers granted. I may be a pessimist, but I don’t want to drag down the ideals I’ve touted with reality.
KOJIMA: I live in the small city of Warabi in the Saitama Prefecture. It’s a place where many immigrants live. Anti-foreigner groups have even come here to do hate speech. In particular, my area has the biggest population of Kurdish people in Japan; it even gets called “Warabistan.” The immigrants and their families came to Japan to flee persecution in their homeland, but for political reasons they’re left hanging instead of being accepted as asylum seekers, and so they live in a state where their human rights are restricted. I happen to see them in my day-to-day life, which might have influenced the depiction of the immigrant experience in this story.
From Hibari to Yu and beyond – trans* characters in anime (Tea Time)
A brief overview of major trans characters in anime from the 1980s to today.
There are two anime with trans main characters with trans narratives at their core: Stop!! Hibari-kun (35 eps, 1983-4) and Wandering Son (12 eps, 2011). The former is a romcom between the orphaned Kousaka and the titular Hibari, a very charming, sassy, and strong trans girl, who’s also the heir to a Yakuza clan. The series is their every day life, their mutual crush that Kousaka is stunned to find himself in, and hijinks from both family and schoolmates. Granted the era it was produced in, one would expect a lot of problematic humour, it’s surprisingly not the case. Although Hibari is misgendered by her family, and Kousaka is at first devastated to know the super cute girl in front of him is “actually a boy”, they do love her and the jokes are made at their expense for their complexes and stupid but futile efforts to change her. After all is said and done, Hibari attends the school registered as a girl, and minus some jealous girls, who target her with doubts, she is confident and happy to live her life the way she wants. She stands up for herself and she has the last word -which is that she isn’t a pervert. Part of the reason this series is so welcoming is because the mangaka who wrote the original has admitted in an interview that he drew the girl he wanted to be, frustrated he wasn’t born one.
[Pride Month 2021] Loads More LGBTQ Positive Visual Novels (Blerdy Otome)
Short listicle recommending indie visual novels for Pride Month.
These past few years I celebrated Pride Month with lists of 10 LGBTQ positive visual novels—2018’s List , 2019’s List, and 2020’s List—and I highly recommend giving those a read, there are some seriously great titles there that definitely warrant a look. Because it’s June once again, I have compiled another list with loads more LGBTQ+ positive Visual Novels!
I tried my best to choose games that presented members of the LGBTQ+ community in a positive light, focusing less on sexual orientation or gender identity and more on telling meaningful stories that focus on the human experience. As in previous years, I have include links to each of the games, a synopsis of the story, and a short summary of the types of representation you’ll find in the game. So, without further ado, here are Loads More LGBTQ Positive Visual Novels that you should totally check out this Pride Month (and beyond)!
Capcom’s quest to translate The Great Ace Attorney for Western audiences (Polygon, De’Angelo Epps)
Interview with Janet Hsu, localizer for Ace Attorney since Justice for All.
I will say though, one thing a greater familiarity with Japanese culture did help with is that it allowed us to add another layer of depth to the localization through the use of honorifics like “-san” without needing to explain what it means. In The Great Ace Attorney, we decided to have Ryunosuke and Susato speak in Japanese to each other in the privacy of their office, but converse in English when they’re out and about in public. I felt strongly about this decision from the beginning. Drawing again from my own experiences in America and Japan, there’s a sort of unspoken cultural norm whereby speaking in a different language in a mixed group can sometimes seem awkward at best, and confrontational at worst – especially with people you don’t know. Given the time period, I felt that Ryunosuke and Susato would almost certainly experience something similar. So as fluent English speakers, I felt they would make an effort to speak predominantly in English once they’d arrived in London, but allow themselves to speak in Japanese in private. The Japanese version of the game doesn’t make this distinction, since it would be somewhat awkward to do the same thing and take considerably more characters (and precious on-screen real estate) to write “Mister” in katakana than “-san”, but in the English version, we’ve gone with “-san” and “Mr.” and “Miss,” etc. as a way to distinguish when Ryunosuke and Susato are speaking to each other in Japanese versus English.
Review: AGE CALLED BLUE (The Manga Test Drive, Megan D.)
BL solo volume about two angsty rock stars.
The story is simple enough, but est em complicates it a little by telling parts of it out of chronological order. We start at the moment our two leads realize their feelings for one another. We follow the rise of the band and the fallout of their relationship more or less as it happens. As Billy makes his impossible choice, we flash back to the point where Nick and Billy first met and a later point, not too long after the events of the first chapter, where the two discover that the lead singer and guitarist of their favorite band had a romantic relationship, not unlike the one that Nick and Billy would ultimately have. It’s a nice way of bringing the story full circle, and it helps to keep things from ending on a downer.
est em’s knack for nuanced character writing it put to good use here. She really captures the feeling of a self-destructive relationship. From the start, Nick shows himself to be a self-centered asshole, even when he’s trying to do good. Meanwhile, Billy is aware that Nick’s partying is wrecking both the band and to Nick himself but he can’t let go because he still treasures the good times of their youth and Nick’s talent for songwriting. It’s a very complicated, messy thing, and she makes this abundantly clear without compromising the visceral, heartbreaking tragedy of their situation.
The Unsung Great: Uncovering Nikkei Histories with Greg Robinson (Japanese American National Museum)
An upcoming talk (tickets are $10) hosted by our own Chiaki.
In his newest book, The Unsung Great: Stories of Extraordinary Japanese Americans, scholar and journalist Greg Robinson reveals the diverse experiences of Japanese Americans and explores a wealth of themes, including mixed-race families, artistic pioneers, mass confinement, civil rights activism, and queer history. Robinson will speak more to his process uncovering these stories and, in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride month, he will highlight his chapter on the often unheard stories of queer Nikkei people throughout time. He will be joined in discussion by other scholars and experts of LGBTQ Nikkei history, Jonathan Van Harmelen, Randall Kikukawa, and Tina Takemoto.
Drawn primarily from Robinson’s popular writings in the San Francisco newspaper Nichi Bei Weekly and JANM’s community website Discover Nikkei, The Unsung Great offers entertaining and compelling stories that challenge one-dimensional views of Japanese Americans.
VIDEO: Stating a case for the 90s Sailor Moon as the most accessible version of the story.
THREAD: Tokyo governor will be adopting a partnership program for LGBTQ+ couples.
THREAD: Sega is currently hiring and noted for its inclusive workplace.
TWEET: Fabric Rainbow is a gender-inclusive suit tailor in Chiba hoping to expand in future.
Folks have provided so many great examples, hopefully it gives curious readers new stuff to try.
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