Weekly Round-Up, 2-8 September 2020: “Cosplay While Black” Panel, Service Dogs, and Trauma as Clickbait

By: Anime Feminist September 8, 20200 Comments
Three cats singing to an old-fashioned microphone

AniFem Round-Up

“What If Our Greatest Pain Speaks to Us?” Using the supernatural to explore mental health in Bunny Girl Senpai

Yasmine Maher highlights how this sci-fi series uses “adolescence syndrome” to draw attention anxieties and illnesses that are normally ignored as invisible.

Your Lie in April: An Oedipus Complex and a Manic Pixie Dream Girl have a meetcute

Caitlin on the ways the women in protagonist Arima’s life, from his mother to the tragic heroine, exist primarily to further his character arc.

Which anime’s second season is better than its first?

Sometimes a show needs that base to build from.

Beyond AniFem

Minister under fire for questioning foreign journalist’s Japanese at press conf. (The Mainichi, Furukawa Shu)

The original questions pertained to Japan’s re-entry requirements for foreign nationals and the scientific basis for the restrictions.

Hiroki Mochizuki, the 34-year-old editor of the online magazine Nippon Fukuzatsu Kikou — which is run by nonprofit organization the Japan Association for Refugees — said regarding Motegi’s attitude: “So as not to answer inconvenient questions, he belittled the Japanese ability of the journalist, and attempted to reduce trust with the person asking the question.” He went on, “That he went as far as to add, ‘Did you understand the Japanese answer?’ created an atmosphere that suggested, ‘The reporter’s question is bad, and does not merit a response.'”

To Mochizuki, that the content of the query concerned reentry controls for foreign nationals with Japanese residency was “very important.” He explained, “The journalist spoke regarding the long-term refusal to allow residents of foreign nationality to reenter the country, and sought to understand whether there was scientific backing to drawing a line between people based on whether they have citizenship.

“Essentially, what was asked was whether there is a stance in the government of unfairly looking down on residents with foreign citizenship. But regardless, the minister didn’t just avoid answering whether there was a scientific basis to it, but to get by without answering he went as far as behaving in a way that belittled a reporter with roots in a foreign country. It is deeply inappropriate, and his behavior is fundamentally linked with the harsh limits on foreign residents’ rights.”

Manga Artist Shares Their Story of Having Low Vision (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

“Low vision” is an eye condition that cannot be operated on or medically enhanced.

Urasawa revealed their condition in the context of discussing a review they received on August 24, which claimed to be written by a person who works at an eye clinic and accused the manga artist of not doing their research.

“I drew this manga hoping that it could be an entertainment romance manga while at the same time educating more people about Low Vision. I hope it can spread awareness that people with this condition exist in reality,” Urasawa tweeted. “If someone says, ‘I work at an eye clinic and this is an implausible story,’ then there’s a terribly disappointing possibility that it could prompt people to give up reading out of a belief that this fictional story is based on a lie. The protagonist’s Low Vision exists in reality, and there are many people who suffer from this condition. I also have the condition, so I can assure you that it is not a made-up story or a lie. I hope that everyone who comes across this work understands this fact.”

We Need to Talk About Games Journalism (Grace in the Machine)

A discussion of the structural issues in how games media covers stories of abuse.

D’Anastasio has a job at Wired, helping launch a new gaming outlet. She won an award for gaming journalism this year, after Lawhead published her post. Meanwhile, her victim posts everyday about Kotaku’s treatment of them with little or no response. Additionally, their work does not get the attention it deserves. Kotaku would never write a story about Lawhead’s remarkable zine maker, especially not now. Their pain has been misnamed, marked, just another webpage on Kotaku’s endless stream of articles. There’s no room for anything else.

The fact is, we culturally value suffering over joy. Even when joy appears, it must come out of suffering. This shows itself in the way folks like Jason Schreier matter-of-factly report labor abuses and then breathlessly praise their creations. It shows itself in the headline of Cecilia D’Anastasio’s dreadful article: not “Talented Indie Dev Abused by Authority” but “Skyrim Composer Accused.” This framing matters. It is created by the material conditions – Soule is more well-known and better connected – but it also entrenches them. It matters that we frame the bravery of victims and survivors under the shadows of their abusers. It matters that we pay the most attention to the marginalized when they are harmed, and leave them alone when they attempt to build a life. It matters that these are the stories we are telling.

New handbook aims to spread awareness on service dogs in Japan after discrimination (The Mainichi, Inada Kayo)

While there are laws allowing service dogs in public locations, many disabled individuals still find themselves barred from entry.

A common misunderstanding behind the refusal of assistance dogs is that the dogs would make the place dirty. Another reason is pity for the dogs. In fact, those who use assistance dogs manage them appropriately so that they do not bark or do their business in public spaces. Assistance dogs are trained in accordance with their personalities so that they can enjoy their duty of being helpful to people, and their life spans are no different from those of regular pets. The handbook also points out the need to spread awareness among children through school education.

According to the welfare ministry, as of April this year, 909 guide dogs were in service in Japan to assist the visually impaired, 62 to assist individuals with limb disabilities, and 69 as hearing dogs. As the number of assistance dogs has been on the decline in recent years, a representative of the Japanese Service Dog Resource Center called for promotion of public awareness, saying, “One reason behind this recent decline is that individuals give up on having assistant dogs after hearing about cases of refusal or encountering trouble, even if they want to use one. The number of users will surely increase if society is 100% welcoming.”

Shintaro Kazama is the real villain of Yakuza Kiwami (Eurogamer, Jay Castello)

It’s all down to the worst dad of Yakuza.

Nishiki’s turn from devoted brother to power-hungry antagonist in Yakuza Kiwami has been discussed extensively, and nowhere better than in the YouTube video “Making a Villain.” The YouTuber Oni traces what 0 (and some additional cutscenes added to Kiwami) bring to Nishiki’s character. They demonstrate how the game shows Nishiki the mentor, the best friend, the vulnerable human being, and how these facets ultimately contribute to his downfall.

But 0 also links up with the key theme of fatherhood that underpins Kiwami (and the series as a whole). Taken together, both games demonstrate how both brothers were failed by their parental figure, Shintaro Kazama – and that this failure is the true tragedy of the arc.

Clearly, this theme comes from a specifically Japanese perspective, and is tied to the structure of yakuza families, something which deserves its own essay that I wouldn’t be qualified to write on. But worldwide, people are devoted to their fathers, and the brothers’ commitment is made clear – especially Kiryu’s. They, along with tragically underwritten love interest Yumi Sawamura and Nishiki’s even more tragically invisible younger sister, were raised in an orphanage run by Kazama, a high ranking member of the family. “You and I were just a couple of orphans, and he took us in,” Kiryu says to Nishiki. “I’d do anything to repay him, but all I can give is my life.”

Mental health of Japanese kids nearly worst among rich nations, UNICEF says (The Japan Times)

The study was done during the before times, and took into account mental well-being, physical health and academic and social skills.

Although Japanese children ranked fifth in reading and mathematics proficiency, they were second to last when it came to confidence in making friends easily, with just 69 percent of 15-year-olds saying they felt that way, just topping the 68 percent logged by Chile.

Japan had the lowest unemployment rate in 2019 among the countries surveyed, but the rate of children living in poverty stood at 18.8 percent, below the average of 20 percent.

Education expert Naoki Ogi labeled Japan’s schools a “bullying hell” and said excessive competition to get into prestigious schools is a negative factor for mental health.

“It’s inevitable for children (in Japan) to have low self-esteem and lack a sense of happiness,” he said.

The Ship of Theseus, Questions of Identity, and Phos (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)

Analyzing the Land of the Lustrous protagonist across the first seven manga volumes.

Again, Phos isn’t human, and their desire for change—and their subsequent complicated relationship with it—stems from their sci-fi scenario. But it’s easy to see how Phos has resonated so much with a queer, and particularly a trans (binary or non), audience. The longing to move beyond the social role they’ve been shoved into based on their body is the clearest part, and of course the complex relationship they have to physical changes that they undergo later.

But I think, more broadly, that their complicated relationship to change, that grasping for the True Self, really strikes a chord. Is Phos still “Phos” if their physical body and their relationship to the world has totally changed? Which “me” is the “real me” if I have changed the way I see myself and identify over time? What happens to that “old self” when you find a sense of self that feels more truthful? Is the ship the same ship if you’ve replaced every part of it?

VIDEO: “Anime and Race” panel from CRX.

VIDEO: “Cosplay While Black” panel from CRX.

THREAD: Analysis of labor in Miyazaki films.

AniFem Community

Sometimes it’s good to know powering through an okay first season is worth it.

K-On!! - A noticeable change in color scheme, character development, pacing, etc. Some major characters are still infantile, but there are subtle signs of growth and maturation - like Yui - the most infantile of all - taking care of her sick sister and being inspired to write "U & I". This is where Naoko Yamada came into her own as a director. She and her staff did their best to transform these male-created female characters into slightly more realistic versions of their manga counterparts without losing the light-hearted comedic spirit of the show. Also, I think of this season as the birth of the modern KyoAni style - the way hair is animated, the way character faces look in profile - especially the eyelashes, sky shots, cherry blossom petal shots, backgrounds, etc. Favorite arc this season was the Romeo and Juliet one, because of a feminine character was drafted to play Romeo and Juliet was played by the tomboy.  Yowamushi Pedal - First season was good fun, but 2nd season was revved up because it's the Inter-High season, complete with the emotional finish to the big race.  Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions - Really picked up when the Saturn girl entered the fray and the episode that introduces her is doubly hilarious because of the cross-dressing scene - not the cross-dressing itself but the character interactions around it. I think the Sleep battle episode is in this season too and that one was also hilarious. There's some queer-baiting in the final episode - I was ok with it but not sure how others would react. They leave the sexuality of the character involved kind of ambiguous, although there's no question about the other character, who only appears in that episode. Oh, and trigger warning for the episode in which a decidedly underage character is stalked by an adult predator... and Rikka gets bopped on the head a lot though that's not new to the 2nd season.

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