With Kingdom Hearts 4 just announced, Dee looks back at how KH3 fell short at giving Aqua and Kairi the agency and narrative payoff they deserved.
Kyle T. examines the recent popularity of Villainess isekai and its biggest successes, written by authors who actually seem familiar with otome games.
The main couple has some promise but it gets drowned out by skeevy secondary elements.
With Musk’s buyout on the table, it’s worth chatting about potential alternatives.
The Nintendo of America Contractors Who Feel Like Second Class Workers (Kotaku, Ethan Gach and Sisi Jiang)
Interviews with multiple NOA employees on their experiences and work culture at the company in light of the recent labor board complaint, in which the claimant alleges they were fired as a retaliatory act for attempting to broach unionization.
Current and former employees have also told Kotaku they felt that even discussing their working conditions could lead to repercussions. “There’s definitely a fear of talking about these things with the red badges,” said one current contract employee. One of the current full time employees Kotaku spoke with didn’t disagree. “The general feeling is that you will be punished for being outspoken at every level.”
“They knew they could get rid of troublemakers because there’s a line out the door of people wanting to get hired there,” said Jenn. She felt that there was a major “culture shift” at NOA in 2015 where management put a greater emphasis on performance metrics. Compared to the five years that she had previously worked at Nintendo, there was more focus on call wait times and attendance. A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Kotaku that projects and teams shrunk in that year (one of which was their team), and there were major structural changes in how contractors would be allocated projects. The new tiered structure for testers meant that they felt pressure to work overtime if they wanted to be assigned on more projects in the future. The source felt that these changes were because of the Wii U’s underwhelming performance.
Several who did “speak out of turn” said they were later taken aside and given warnings. Džamonja recalled a meeting in 2021 that took place during a wave of anti-Asian violence. Her director addressed the rise in hate crimes in the meeting by reading an official internal statement from Nintendo condemning them. When the meeting wrapped up and there was a last call of any questions or comments, Džamonja said she shared that she was volunteering as part of a neighborhood watch group in Seattle to help people get home safely, and to let her know if anyone else wanted to learn more about it.
A day after the meeting, Džamonja said she received a message to get on a call with her agency representative. Her manager had apparently been unhappy with her comment, and the representative reprimanded her on his behalf for going off topic to promote the volunteer group. In addition to the seeming double-standard, Džamonja and others accuse this dual system of micro-management of breeding confusion and leading to games of telephone where agency reps misinterpret feedback from Nintendo of America staff and then lay it at the feet of contract workers. Some also feel incidents like this can hurt their slim chances of promotion or even get them laid off and never invited back.
Sensei’s Pious Lie Review (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge)
Volume one review of a manga about a teacher who is a sexual assault survivor.
Misuzu is what would commonly be characterized as an “imperfect victim”; in other words, what’s happening to her is very much sexual assault and coercion, but unlike stories that cast victims of these crimes as broken and pitiable, Misuzu is cynical and resentful. Readers probably won’t like her for the first portion of the book, and they might even outright hate her by the time she’s interacting with her male student Niizumi, a victim of a similar crime. We’re so used to the narrative that people who experience trauma gain a deeper sense of empathy for others that it’s easy to forget that anger, even when it’s misplaced, is just as likely. So when Misuzu is confronted with a teen boy who explained the context of his relationship with his employer’s wife and Misuzu rebukes his experience, it’s frustrating. As an adult, I was incredibly disappointed in her for not helping him when she could and disregarding him based on his gender. I understood her feelings based on her experiences, but I certainly didn’t like them.
Besides Misuzu’s gender bias, Sensei’s Pious Lie broaches a number of other hairy topics that we don’t often see in manga because it complicates the issues we want to be clean-cut, like consent. Misuzu was forcibly raped by her friend’s boyfriend (now fiancé) Hayafuji. She was otherwise inexperienced and the manga illustrates that Hayafuji specifically targets introverted virgins. What begins with a traumatizing encounter develops into an uncomfortable pseudo-relationship borne out of casual threats to reveal what happened. Misuzu hates Hayafuji and she hates how her body now responds to him leading to these blurry encounters where she’ll meet him on her lunch break and let him fool around with her in his car. Misuzu isn’t an active participant; we never see her touch him in a romantic or sexual way and she leaves each encounter angry with herself. Namely, Misuzu can’t pleasure herself and has grown fearful and distrustful of her own genitalia, which she sees as betraying her.
Support widens for non-Japanese in Osaka district hit by tragedy (The Asahi Shimbun, Taro Tamaki)
The community has focused on outreach and social programs in hopes of preventing another tragedy like the infanticide case the district faces ten years ago.
Spurred by a family tragedy a decade ago, a community here continues to band together to support non-Japanese residents and parents who are struggling to get by.
Volunteers, businesses and public officials are offering language lessons, employment tips and other services to help ensure that residents in the Shimanouchi district of Osaka’s Chuo Ward do not feel socially isolated.
The district is home to many Chinese- and Korean-style bars and restaurants. About 30 percent of Shimanouchi’s 6,000 or so residents are foreign nationals.
Many work in the Minami entertainment area on the west side of the district. And many have struggled to adapt to life in Japan, particularly if they are raising children.
“The pandemic has made life really hard for some households,” said Kazuto Yamazaki, a former principal at an elementary school in the district. “I wouldn’t be surprised by a repeat of the tragedy 10 years ago.”
Yamazaki and others are trying to prevent that from happening.
What Does BLM Activism Look Like Across the Sea? (The Courier, Bee Bishop)
Interview with author and journalist Baye McNeil about his turn to activist work in Japan.
That illusion of pleasantness broke when McNeil began noticing the Japanese citizens around him would often leave an empty seat beside him on public transportation.
“A great deal of what Japan hit me with hammered home the fact that I was just much an alien here as I was back in America,” he said. “One of my major grievances was this phenomena known as ‘the empty seat.’”
The “empty seat” phenomena, as McNeil went on, describes the acts of Japanese citizens keeping their distance from foreigners, bluntly trying to not associate with them. This phenomena is what McNeil credited to the creation of his blog where he wrote about his thoughts on racism and xenophobia in Japan.
“I had been in Japan for four years at the time, in 2008, that I started documenting the good and the bad,” he said. “I wrote some very introspective and personal posts, because that’s the only way I know how to write. Much to my surprise, considering the number of other Japanese blogs out there, it really took off.”
McNeil called his blog a baby step into activism. Not long after, McNeil got a job working as a columnist for the Japan Times. He dedicated his column, titled “Black Eye,” to telling stories about Black people in Japan. Although McNeil began talking about issues regarding race, he recalled his first act of activism as the time he successfully petitioned against a Japanese broadcast from airing a performance with the performers wearing blackface.
Muteking: The Dancing Hero (Anime News Network, Caitlin Moore)
Full series review for those wondering why the series just barely missed out on a rec.
The story divides up neatly into three acts, and the final act is where it gets into trouble. The problem with telling a story that’s an allegory for an ongoing social problem is eventually you have to resolve the conflict and create a satisfying conclusion. Gentrification by the technocracy and the homogenization of culture do not have tidy answers, or at least not ones that are fun to depict onscreen. Instead, the story descends into pure spectacle, embracing tokusatsu tropes left and right without regard for coherence or thematic consistency. This wouldn’t be so bad, but a lot of the twists at that point feel random, contrived, or cliché as the story builds to its climax. By the end, the threat may be eliminated, but a lot of emotional loose ends never get fully tied up.
In light of that mess of an ending, it’s hard to say whether or not I’d fully recommend Muteking the Dancing Hero. It’s certainly a fun show, but what’s more, its themes may hit hard depending on your life experiences. While I’m not from San Francisco, I live in a city that has undergone a lot of gentrification due to tech companies over the last decade. I’ve watched the gay clubs and watering holes in the historic LGBT neighborhood be replaced with wine bars and upscale apartment buildings as the area becomes less safe for people to be who they are. Almost every house on my block is being knocked down and replaced with identical glossy, expensive townhouses. Muteking recognizes the damage that does to a city, but just doesn’t know what to do with it.
Elon Musk Buying Twitter Sucks, But Marginalized Game Devs Aren’t Leaving (Kotaku, Sisi Jiang)
Many cite the communities they’ve built and the potential for networking.
The Tesla CEO is a polarizing figure who often becomes even more controversial when he tweets. Some of his greatest hits include threatening to pull stock options from Tesla employees if they voted to unionize, being investigated by the Securities and Exchange commission for making a 420 tweet, falsely accusing a cave rescuer of being a pedophile, and downplaying the severity of coronavirus.
Despite the public outcry against Musk taking over Twitter, some developers have nonetheless found that Twitter offers unique advantages to their business. Chandana Ekanayake is the co-founder of Outerloop Games, an independent studio that develops colorful action games such as Falcon Age and Thirsty Suitors. He tweeted that his company “hired most of [their] team” through Twitter hashtags, including #visiblewomen and #southasianartists.
Ekanayake told Kotaku that his studio has employees in the U.S., Canada, U.K., China, Australia, and sometimes India and South Africa. “Twitter has allowed us to find folks around the world and lets us stay remote,” he said, and he intends to stay on the social media platform until a viable alternative exists.
Gay bar aims to bring ‘fresh air’ to conservative resort city (The Asahi Shimbun, Kenta Maeda)
Tanaka, who works in online advocacy in addition to running the new bar, notes that when coming out he sent a copy of I Think Our Son is Gay to his mother.
Tanaka himself once overheard someone who said it was hard to believe there were any sexual minorities in the city.
“I love the historical climate of Yamaguchi so much. So, I want it to be a more livable city for me,” Tanaka said.
The bar welcomes any customers regardless of their sexual orientation, but he also intends to host events exclusively for gay people.
The owner wants to make the bar a gateway to learn about gay culture while customers enjoy drinking together.
He also believes that a good-natured town where all kinds of people are treated equally can help create a comfortable community for long-time residents as well.
This is specifically fundraising to create a playable demo for the game.
NIXIE is a Visual Novel hybrid game, inspired by The World Ends With You, Sonic Riders & Ghost Trick. It follows the life of Fiona Soul, a soup kitchen worker, who encounters a spirit on her travels that transforms into a wedge-like hoverboard. Once she learns of the spiritual warfare and sees the impact its having on people, she begins to use it to attack spirits in people’s heads, and battle for spiritual territory. This game is primarily about found family, communication and the demonization of African spirituality.
THREAD: Discussion and counter-campaign responding to respectability politics issues involving a representative of Tokyo Rainbow Pride.
THREAD: Discussion of a propaganda comic created by Love Hina creator turned politician Akamatsu Ken.
In case you didn’t see, we’ve opened a Mastodon account in addition to our Twitter and Tumblr. We’re not planning on abandoning Twitter for the moment, but we wanted to offer another option for folks to follow us. We’re looking into having a public channel in our patron discord for folks who only want to follow site updates as well (thanks for the suggestion, @acehrls!).