Finding models of healthy masculinity in BL manga
Max shares how reading BL as a teen gave him a safe place to imagine himself as a boy–even an ‘unmanly’ boy–long before they were ready to come out as trans.
2022 Fall Three-Episode Check-In
Shows are spread out all over the map this season, but the team still made sure to check in and see what shows are nailing it and which fell short.
Arknights: PRELUDE TO DAWN – Episode 1
Some promising female characters, but the origin of its villains is eyebrow-raising.
What’s your favorite series about fighting evil billionaires?
We’re just asking. No reason.
Fall 2022 Midseason Podcast Poll
Want to make sure we discuss a certain show on the podcast? Cast your vote!
Final Fantasy XVI Dev Has A Terrible Answer For Why The Game Is So White (Kotaku, Sisi Jiang)
The same overused fallacy rears its head again.
Yoshida explained that the fantasy world of Valisthea was based on medieval Europe, and they wanted to limit the world culturally and geographically. “Valisthea was never going to realistically be as diverse as say a modern-day Earth…or even Final Fantasy XIV,” he said, as if he was being asked to incorporate every race on the entire planet. “Ultimately, we felt that while incorporating ethnic diversity into Valisthea was important, an over-incorporation into this single corner of a much larger world could end up causing a violation of those narrative boundaries we originally set for ourselves.”
Which begs the question: Why did they enforce a “whites-only” boundary in the first place?
After acknowledging that the real world is more diverse than Valisthea, he continued, “The story we are telling is fantasy, yes, but it is also rooted in reality.” Which is it, Yoshida? You can’t say that your fictional world isn’t bound to reality, and then use reality to explain why Black people can’t exist in Valisthea. Pick a struggle and stick with it, please.
What’s really frustrating about all of this is that Black and brown people have always existed in medieval Europe. If the creative leadership had done more research or checked their biases, then they might have noticed that Black people have been living in Britain for two thousand years. Or that some Black Europeans were canonised in the Holy Roman Empire. Or realised that Iberia was under Islamic rule for approximately 500 years. Instead of a realistic imagining of medieval Europe, we got FFXVI instead.
On Woobification and Why Infantilizing Villains Can Harm Useful Discourse (Teen Vogue, Stitch)
This becomes less about enjoying villains than positioning them as justified.
These perspectives become harmful when wielded like a weapon — and when they extend to real-life villains, those who murder, rape, and manipulate the actual world we live in. Real killers like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer have had fandoms dating back decades. True crime fandoms fantasize about their murderer of choice, actively calling people critical of this thirsty portion of true crime “antis” and warning people to block/report them. Meanwhile, they’re sitting there making excuses for real serial killers because their lives were so bad. They’re “joking” about how murderable real Black people are. They’re annoyed because they weren’t grossed out enough by the murders onscreen. Real murderers get the stan Twitter treatment because the actors playing them in dramatized versions are “hot” and they cry pretty. No wonder the families of Dahmer’s victims have criticized Ryan Murphy’s exploitative Netflix show.
At the end of the day, woobification boils down to who gets empathy in fandom. There’s an insistence that we should “let people like villains,” but when I look at the villains fandom likes and how they like them — harassing people who talk about their villainy in fandom, blaming other characters for the character’s actions, minimizing the harm done in the narrative, and insisting the villain is the real hero — I start to wonder, do these folks even really like bad guys? Because what they’re pushing for at the end of the day with the Kylos, Huxes, Lestats, Daemons in popular culture is… heroism. They look at a perfectly good (terrible) villain and decide they want to clip their claws, put them in a leather jacket, and make them the real hero who’s never done anything wrong in their life.
INTERVIEW: Garden of Remembrance Director Naoko Yamada (Anime News Network, Andrew Osmond)
Short interview with the director about her body of work.
Following on from the last question, it’s sometimes claimed K-ON! would have been commissioned on the assumption that male anime fans would watch it. However, it was also reported that a high proportion of K-ON!’s actual viewers in Japan were female. Do you have any comments on this?
Yamada: Yes, you are correct in what the producers were initially aiming for. However, I wasn’t aware at the time when I was making K-ON! that that was the direction they were aiming for. All I was focused on was… I was genuinely impressed by how cute and wholesome the girls were, and that was something that I wanted to encompass to the audience. I think it was great that the producers didn’t really disclose their commercial direction or their motives that they had; probably that was the source of K-ON!’s success.
When you were in Glasgow in 2017, you said that A Silent Voice involved romantic love, but the love story was not the most important element. Would you say that Liz and the Blue Bird is more of a love story, and would you be happy to describe it as a gay love story where at least one of the girls, Mizore, is gay?
Yamada: On Liz and the Blue Bird, as well as Tamako Love Story, a lot of people read into that as a gay love story, as you have mentioned. But that wasn’t so much the intention. Just to explain a bit more, it wasn’t so much the representation of one sexual orientation, but it was a representation of adolescence, what the characters tend to go through at that time. During those years of our lives, everything seems intensified, whether it be friendships, or the reliance on a certain person, or the dependency…. Because of the limitations of the worlds that the characters live in as well. I just wanted to describe how complex living your teenage years could be, and what they tend to go through.
So it wasn’t a simple depiction of, “Yes, they’re gay and this is their love story,” because I can’t comment on what kind of person they would fall in love with in the future, or who they will become. It’s a portrayal of what they were at the time. The answer is, it is quite complicated.
‘Is this all good?’: Ad boards using manga icon question Japan workplace gender inequality (The Mainichi, Hironori Takechi)
While the percentage of women in Japanese Parliament has grown from 8.4% (1946) to 15.3% (2022), it’s still lower than other countries.
The outdoor advertising boards incorporate characters from Fujio Akatsuka’s comedy manga “Tensai Bakabon,” including Bakabon’s troublemaker father who is known for saying a phrase that can roughly be translated as “It’ll be all right” or “It’s all good.” Instead of the usual catchphrase, the advertisements on display at JR Shibuya Station and Kasumigaseki and Roppongi subway stations show characters from the manga with the question, “Is this all good?”
Indeed Japan launched its “Hello, New Rule!” campaign on Oct. 28, with the goal of improving inequality between male and female workers across the country. As the first part of the campaign, the company uses Tensai Bakabon, which is loved by people of all ages in Japan, and encourages Twitter users to raise examples of what they find unfair, like wage differences between men and women, and old customs, by using the hashtag “Is this all good?” Indeed Japan plans to collect opinions on Twitter, through phone calls and its website through Nov. 30.
Square Enix’s New Farming Game Lets You Choose Non-Binary Pronouns (Kotaku, Isaiah Colbert)
When interviewed, the game’s producer described it as a “completely normal” inclusion.
In recent times Square Enix has been making strides in making sure some of its games are more inclusive. In a July 2021 interview with The Gamer, Final Fantasy VII Remake co-director Motomu Toriyama said LGBTQ+ inclusion is an important issue for both gamers and developers.
“In Final Fantasy VII Remake, we rebuilt the original game using the latest technology, but we felt that it should not stop at the technical side and we needed to update the story content being shown in line with modern sensibilities,” Toriyama told The Gamer. That same month, the company debuted a non-binary character mascot, Mina, for that year’s Pride.
However, the JRPG giant doesn’t always get it right. For example, someone might wanna remind Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida that, contrary to his centrist view that people of color walking about ye old Final Fantasy would violate the “narrative boundaries” of the upcoming game’s medieval European setting, Black and brown folk aren’t a “new game plus” feature on planet Earth.
I’m much more into the vibe I’m feeling from the Harvestella guy. “The visibility of gender non-conforming people has become much more commonplace, so we thought it was important to reflect this within the game and show that all players are welcome to Harvestella,” Taka said.
BLog: Go For It Again, Nakamura! (MJ Lyons Writes)
Not as strong as the original but the protagonist is as relatable as ever.
Come to think of it, without giving anything away plot-specific details from Go For It Again, Nakamura!, maybe the thing I stumbled over is that there isn’t “the moment.” In Nakamura #1, “the moment” was the aforementioned final scene, when Hirose says that he thought they were friends. If there’s going to be a sequel–Go For It Once Again, Nakamura, maybe?–I’ll be a little more forgiving of that, but there’s not that conclusory moment, just a couple of silly little endings that feel more like an ellipses than a “to be continued,” so the manga doesn’t feel as satisfying; even if they’re a bit closer by the end of it and there’s a couple of great, adorable moments on the way, it just doesn’t feel like their friendship (or relationship?!) is moved forward. Of course, if they ended up together that would very much change the emotional timber of the series… Still, if you show up to see Nakamura being completely hopeless, still plenty of that.
Sinsations 18+ BL Game Review – Sex in Sin City (Blerdy Otome, Naja)
Structurally a bit repetitive but a fun romp.
I’m used to BL devs jumping through hoops to get characters to jump into the sack, but you can’t get any simpler than Lust having to f*ck his way through the Vegas Strip for Lucifer. That’s it. That’s the premise. And when you have a premise like that all you can do is lean into it hard and have fun. Sinsations is a hilarious, campy romp, between Kosuke’s innuendo heavy dialogue and the over the top antics of the Deadly Sins, this is a game that isn’t afraid to go for the cheap laughs. And I appreciate that, not everything has to be doom and gloom, sometimes a bit of camp is all you need to tell a fun story.
That’s not to say Sinsations is devoid of emotion, there are some truly genuine moments between Kosuke and the other Sins, Envy and (surprise, surprise) Pride’s routes tugged on the heart strings a bit. And I cried having to break things off with Sloth at the end of his route. Because, at the end of the day Kosuke has to seduce ALL the Sins. In a fun twist on the usual visual novel gameplay, Kosuke doesn’t get to stick around for the long-term, at the end of each route you inevitably have to say goodbye and move on to the next guy.
You can only unlock the true romance route with the last Sin you pursue. So if you are looking to make a true love connection with one of the guys, be sure to save them for last (or if you’re like me SAVE OFTEN and on replay switch up the order for each Sin). It can be a bit annoying having to skip through all of the routes six different times to get the best ends for all the LIs. However, I have been assured that the sequel Modern Gods did away with this feature. Though, in this game they do sweeten the pot with the Bonus content where you can have some intimate time with Lucifer (and the other side characters). Lucifer is fine as hell…and his bonus content is *chef’s kiss*
Gen Z students seeking to change Japanese society unconsciously tolerating discrimination (The Mainichi, Pak Taeu)
The group has currently focused its efforts on Immigration Services and advocating for detained foreigners.
Hasegawa added, “In the U.K., racists repeat bigoted remarks with obvious malice, but there is also a strong rejection (of them) in society. In Japan, on the other hand, there are few people who discriminate with malicious intent, but I feel that there are many who use discriminatory words innocently and for fun, and a lot of people tolerate them.”
Based on these encounters and his belief, Hasegawa founded Moving Beyond Hate in 2019 at the university’s Komaba Campus to engage in anti-discrimination activities. One of the main pillars of the group’s activities is the planning and implementation of various workshops to learn about and fight against discrimination. At the October study session held on the campus, participants learned about and discussed “organizing,” a methodology that plays a major role in bringing citizens together in solidarity and building a broad-based social movement.
The organization became widely recognized in Japan following racist remarks against Black and Chinese people by a male part-time lecturer at Nihon University, which came to light in June 2020. After being consulted by a student who was concerned about the discriminatory comments made repeatedly in online classes, the group strongly condemned the incident and made it widely known to the public.
A face-to-face meeting with a representative of Nihon University was arranged, and the group demanded that the institution work on recurrence prevention measures. In September 2020, the university acknowledged the discriminatory comments made by the lecturer and issued an apology.
Golden Kamuy Season 4 Delays Remaining Episodes Due to Staff Member’s Passing (Anime News Network, Rafael Antonio Pineda)
There is not yet word on how long the delay will need to be.
The official website for the Golden Kamuy anime announced on Tuesday that episodes 6-12 of the anime’s fourth season (episodes 43-49 of the overall anime) have all been delayed due to the November 1 passing of an unnamed main staff member of the anime.
The announcement noted that the main staff member that passed away was “indispensable” to the production, so the production committee and the anime’s studio Brains Base decided on the delay after some discussion. The anime’s Blu-ray Disc and DVD release schedule is now also under discussion. The website will announce a new airing date for the episodes and a release date for the home video releases when they are decided.
Don’t Miss One Of The Most Heartfelt (And Funniest) Games Of 2022 (Kotaku, Carolyn Petit)
There is now a sequel to the beloved freeware baseball girls VN, Butterfly Soup.
Brianna Lei’s original Butterfly Soupwas a masterpiece, a rare and profound game that was, for me, one of the defining and essential works of the early Trump era, a time in which I especially needed art to shock me back into contact with my own humanity. Alongside the shattering strangeness and “fix your hearts or die” passion of Twin Peaks: The Return, there was Butterfly Soup, billed by its creator as “a visual novel about gay Asian girls playing baseball and falling in love.” And yes, it was (and still is) radical just for a work to center queer Asian girls the way Butterfly Soup did, so that’s an important part of what made it so great. But the real key to its brilliance was just how keenly observed it was, how complex and three-dimensional the game’s four main characters were, and how all the game’s hilarity and heartbreak was rooted in the kind of intimate portrayal of characters’ inner lives and relationships that so many works aspire to but so very few actually achieve.
Shows to be taking notes from, perhaps.
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