Weekly Round-Up, 20-26 July 2022: Tokyopop’s Usual BS, Higashimura NFTs, and Unification Church Abuses

By: Anime Feminist July 26, 20220 Comments
A girl in elaborate steampunk goggles drinking a juicebox

AniFem Round-Up

Mitty the Person, Mitty the Cursed: Made in Abyss and the paradoxical representation of disability

Zeldaru digs into the troubling tradition of treating euthanasia as the “humane” decision when writing disabled characters with limited speech or mobility.

Minami Sakai on being an independent manga artist in Japan

We’re rerunning our interview with the talented artist Sakai on her work, influences, and studying in Tokyo as a Black American woman.

Uncle from Another World – Episode 1

Determined to crush any good jokes with bad direction.

The Maid I Hired Recently is Mysterious – Episode 1

The premiere itself is a pleasant watch, but the premise comes packaged with several red flags.

Chatty AF 166: Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt Retrospective

Vrai, Chiaki, and Meru look back at the proto-TRIGGER comedy, put its intensely 2010 vibes in context, and ask how and if the show can function for a modern audience.

Who’s your favorite voice actress?

We want to appreciate the work of Japanese-language and dubbing actors.

Beyond AniFem

In Okinawa, a push to revive a lost tattoo art for women, by women (The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Julia Mio Inuma)

The hand tattoo art of hajichi originated in the Ryukuan Kingdom, which was annexed into Japan as Okinawa in 1879.

Hajichi was banned in 1899 as the Japanese government pushed assimilation and as new norms about public decency emerged during the time when the country opened to foreigners after more than 200 years of isolationist policies. While tattoos are becoming more fashionable among younger Japanese, they remain stigmatized and often associated with the yakuza, the Japanese criminal syndicate.

Now, attempts by a handful of tattoo artists in Okinawa and Tokyo to revive hajichi have reached artists and clients in diasporic communities in Brazil and Hawaii. Some view the resurgence as a callback to a time when Okinawan women held powerful positions as religious leaders and breadwinners. For them, it’s a symbol of empowerment in a country that ranks among the lowest among developed nations on women’s advancement.

“Hajichi is also a part of this idea that women possess power. And living in a patriarchal society like Japan, I think that’s part of why I was drawn to hajichi,” said Moeko Heshiki, 30, founder of the Hajichi Project. “Even in the tattoo industry, a lot of tattoo artists tend to be men. But hajichi was usually done by women for women, so this felt especially meaningful.”

Growing up in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, Heshiki experienced microaggressions relating to her Okinawan identity. “You’re light-skinned for an Okinawan,” people would say and point out how her name doesn’t sound like a typical Japanese name. (It’s Okinawan.) But being Okinawan was important for her.

Citizens group sends over 50,000 signatures to Japan’s LDP over anti-LGBTQ booklet (The Mainichi, Miyuki Fujisawa)

The booklet was circulated at a Diet meeting back in June.

Soshi Matsuoka, 27, who organized the civil group, told a press conference held in Tokyo on July 25, “The connection between the right-wing religious group and the LDP’s conservative wing is promoting discrimination and prejudice, degrading human lives and dignity.”

The Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership is affiliated with Jinja Honcho, a religious corporation overseeing Shinto shrines across Japan. Diet members, primarily from the LDP, who support the association’s principles have participated in gatherings of the lawmakers’ group.

The statement that “homosexuality is a mental disease or addiction” was quoted from the record of a lecture given by a university professor under the title “Learning the truth about homosexuality and same-sex marriages.” The booklet also included a passage stating, “The reason why the sexual lifestyles of sexual minorities should not be justified is because they become social problems that ruin families and society.”

To protest against the booklet, the civic group launched an online signature drive on July 2. It has been calling on the LDP to “clearly deny what is written in the booklet and demonstrate a stance to eliminate discrimination,” and “retrieve the booklets to prevent discriminatory views based on wrong perceptions from spreading any further.”

As a writer, Matsuoka was quick to report on the booklet in question. “Discriminatory remarks over LGBT have been made (by politicians) almost every year, but this booklet contains passages that apparently deny the lives of the people concerned. I regard this as a major incident that is different from previous cases in that a booklet like this was distributed at a meeting of a conference group to which many Cabinet members, including the prime minister, belong.”

In light of political connections with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church, coming into the spotlight lately, Matsuoka continued, “I want it to be widely known that the strong connection between the LDP’s conservative wing and the former Unification Church, as well as rightist religious groups such as the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership, have continued to hinder gender equality and the rights of sexual minorities, and that this has greatly affected legislation from the local to national government level.”

Stray Falls Into The Usual Orientalism Pitfalls Of The Cyberpunk Genre (Kotaku, Sisi Jiang)

The game creates a fictionalized version of Hong Kong’s Walled City stripped of its history of colonialist oppression.

The history of the Walled City is inextricably tied to colonial rivalries, but none of it is represented in Stray. In the game, the city was a shelter built to protect humans from the plague. The only sentient beings left are self-aware robot “Companions” who have built their own society in humanity’s absence. I later appreciated their charming personalities, but when I first met these robots, my first thought was: “Why are they wearing rice paddy hats?”

Conical rice hats have a troubled history within the Asian diaspora community. They’re used as a racial shorthand to indicate Asian origins, regardless of the actual context. Clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch, for example, once used images of Chinese men in rice paddy hats in its product line. While the existence of farmer hats is not offensive by itself, it becomes astoundingly racist when used in unrelated imagery, such as a racist parody of a laundry business. Protests and angry letters forced Abercrombie and Fitch to pull the offensive t-shirts from their stores.

Thankfully, Stray meets the bare minimum of not racist language to describe the robots (even if its gratuitous use of the Japanese language in fictional Hong Kong is a bit eyebrow-raising). But the game’s rampant appropriation of Asian history and culture needs to be supported by care in design and implementation. Singapore-based Alexis Ong wrote an excellent Polygon article about Stray’s accuracy to Hong Kong, while others like Lam are less impressed by how the game portrayed the Walled City.

Moto Hagio Inducted into Eisner Hall of Fame (Anime News Network, Crystalyn Hodgkins)

Shoujo icon Hagio was nominated three years running before being inducted this year.

Hagio is a pioneer of shōjo and shōnen-ai manga, and her works helped establish conventions of these and other fields. Hagio’s They Were Eleven, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, A,A’, The Heart of Thomas, Otherworld Barbara, and The Poe Clan manga have English releases. Her Lil’ Leo manga shipped in English in 2021, and The Poe Clan manga started a new series in May.

Hagio received the Person of Cultural Merit honor from the Japanese government in October 2019. She also received the Asahi Prize for fiscal year 2016, and the Japanese government previously awarded Hagio with the Spring 2012 Medal With Purple Ribbon, which honors academic and artistic achievement. Hagio was the first shōjo manga creator to receive the award.

THREAD: Deep dive into documents on the exploitation of women by the Unification Church.

THREAD: Broader examination of the backlash following Abe’s assassination, the Unification Church’s connections to the LDP, and the vulnerable likely to suffer from this.

THREAD: Critical essays on Abe’s legacy specifically focusing on women and sexism.

THREAD: Depressing news that apparently beloved josei artist Higashimura Akiko is getting into NFTs.

THREAD: Cautionary information in response to the latest exploitative venture by Tokyopop.

TWEET: Photos of an art exhibition for Boys Run the Riot.

AniFem Community

Nice to see both talented stars and underrated artists getting their due.

I'm guessing you'll get a lot of votes for Yuuki Aoi, and probably every one of them will cite different characters she's played. For me, it's Miyashita Touka/Boogiepop in Boogiepop and Others, Kino in Kino's Journey (the more recent version, although she did make her debut in the earlier series), and Biwa in Heike Monogatari. I also liked her as Kumoko in So I'm a Spider, So What? I wouldn't say she "absolutely made the show" there - more like the show completely crumbled in the episodes where she didn't appear.  Runners-up include MAO (Papika in Flip Flappers) and Inoue Kazuhiko (Nyanko-sensei in Natsume Yuujinchou).
Currently, Saori Hayami is my favorite Japanese voice actress. I was surprised to learn certain roles are performed by her due to differences, whether slight or vast, in voice and tone. Some examples are Kasumi (Bofuri), Yor Forger (Spy X Family), and Ameri Azazel (Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun), the latter of which is my favorite role of Hayami's.  As for English dubs, I pick Jad Saxton as my favorite VA. Favorite role is Chika in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War.  And back to subs. It may be recency bias, but Atsumi Tanezaki is absolutely perfect as Anya Forger. Casting must have taken care to give the fan favorite character a suitably child-like voice.

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