Weekly Round-Up, 20-26 September 2023: Anarcho-Feminist Ito Noe, Video Game Actor Strike, and the End of RightStuf

By: Anime Feminist September 26, 20230 Comments
I'm in Love with the Villainess' Rae blushing and squeeing excitedly

AniFem Round-Up

Every Rose Has Its Thorns: Vilifying female ambition in The Rose of Versailles

In honor of the shoujo classic becoming available for free on RetroCrush, here’s a look back at how its story frames good versus villainous women.

Every Page With Love and Care: Mori Kaoru, historical fiction mangaka

Mori’s stories about women across different eras are as arresting as her delicate, detailed art.

How do you feel about feature-length premieres?

Too soon to say if it’ll become commonplace or remain a rare occurrence.

Beyond AniFem

Life of Japanese anarchist-feminist Noe Ito revisited 100 years after her murder (The Mainichi)

Social critic and editor Ito was murdered in the massacres following the Kanto Earthquake.

Recently, however, many books, such as the biographical novel “Kaze yo Arashi yo” written by Yuka Murayama, have been published, attracting empathy and interest in Ito’s ideas on feminism. An NHK drama based on Murayama’s novel was broadcast in 2022.

On the occasion of the centennial of her death, Fukuoka is holding a special exhibition, “Kazeyo: Noe Ito from the Perspective of Letters and Works,” through Oct. 15. “We hope that people will be interested in Noe’s thinking and the environment that she was born into and raised,” Kamiya said.

To enlighten and spread Ito’s ideas of women’s empowerment in modern Japan, 12 volunteer men and women in their 20s to 90s in Fukuoka launched the “Noe Ito Centennial Project” last year. Once a month, they host a book club, focusing on the “Noe Ito Collection.”

The festival scheduled for this weekend will include lectures by researchers and fieldwork at Ito’s birthplace and other places of interest associated with her.

In the World Economic Forum’s latest Gender Gap Index, Japan ranks 125th out of 146 countries.

Project member Nobuyuki Ito, 69, a resident of Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, noted that “the wall that Noe ran into,” such as the lack of progress in discussions on separate surnames for married couples in Japan, remains intact.

He said Ito’s approach, in which she “saw personal problems as social problems, and unflinchingly tried to change society by speaking out to say ‘something is wrong’ can be applied to today’s society, which also faces the same difficulties.”

The Kanto Massacre: A Story of Disinformation and Denialism (Unseen Japan, Himari Semans)

Koreans were particularly targeted among the minorities demonized in the wake of the Kanto Earthquake, and there remains no official count of the victim death toll.

Citizens’ cries for recognition of massacre victims were louder than ever when a civilian group local to Kanagawa Prefecture released its findings of a document titled “Investigation of Crimes and Arrests of Korean and Chinese Amid Natural Disaster” to the police department.

The document is stamped with the date November 21st, 1923. Kanagawa Prefecture’s Governor at the time, Yasukouchi Asakichi issued the document. It contains information on 145 murder victims including the times and dates of murder. Background such as the occupations and ages of victims are also noted. The document names 14 victims.

Murky relations

Grassroots organizations have been pushing for the government to fulfill its responsibility to officially investigate the massacre of Chōsen.

Civilian findings such as that in Kanagawa disprove the government’s claim that it lacks records to launch an investigation.

But given Japan’s already complicated history with Korea, it is unlikely that the government wants to update its history books with news about the 1923 massacre. Especially when the Education Ministry gave five textbook manufacturers the green light to either omit or edit descriptions of the term comfort women from its history books in 2019.

In March this year, the Education Ministry ordered six publishing companies to correct their descriptions of wartime Korean laborers to align with the government’s vision, which is that they were not “forcibly brought” to Japan.

While it is true that Korean immigration to Japan was mostly voluntary prior to World War 2, wartime labor shortages led to enforced migration.

SAG-AFTRA Members Vote to Authorize Strike Against Video Game Companies (Anime News Network, Rafael Antonio Pineda)

While the WGA’s strike has reached a tentative conclusion, SAG-AFTRA’s efforts continue.

The union will resume negotiations with 10 video game companies regarding the Interactive Media Agreement, the union’s video game contract, on Tuesday. The union is negotiating with Activision Productions Inc.; Blindlight LLC; Disney Character Voices Inc.; Electronic Arts Productions Inc.; Epic Games, Inc.; Formosa Interactive LLC; Insomniac Games Inc.; Take 2 Productions Inc.; VoiceWorks Productions Inc.; and WB Games Inc. If negotiations fail, the SAG-AFTRA board may call a strike at any time.

In the announcement, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland noted that the guild has already conducted five rounds of bargaining with the above companies, but the union’s demands have so far remained unfulfilled. The union is asking the companies for better working conditions and for an 11% increase in rates paid to video game performers, as well as protections from artificial intelligence posing a threat to the future of artists’ work and careers.

SAG-AFTRA’s last strike against major gaming companies began in 2016 and lasted 183 days.

The union’s current strike against film and scripted television productions began on July 14. According to the BBC, the strike has caused major worldwide disruptions to film and television productions

Tokyo ward councilor panned over ‘biased teaching may lead to homosexuality’ comment (The Mainichi, Mei Nammo)

Matsumura is a member of the Taito Ward assembly.

Matsumura gave an example of teaching materials for upper grade students in elementary school used in other municipalities that introduce the existence of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. He claimed that since this is a very sensitive and delicate period for the development of a person, including their sexuality, “students will be confused if education focuses on sexual diversity and neglects the characteristics of men and women.”

He also questioned the ward’s response by saying that biased teaching materials and biased instructions may lead children to homosexuality, and that “placing too much priority on understanding children who are uncomfortable with their sexuality will erase the sense of masculinity and femininity.” An official at Taito Ward’s Board of Education responded, “We would like to continue to provide appropriate instructions based on educational guidelines.”

Yuichi Kamiya, secretary-general of the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, said, “This is a factual misconception. Discrimination spreads under the influence of public figures who make scientifically incorrect statements. The remark should be corrected.”

Matsumura said in an interview, “I do not tolerate unfair prejudice and discrimination such as people saying ‘homosexuality is disgusting,’ but I do not want to impose (homosexuality) on children whose development has not yet been formed. There is no need to teach it in schools. I have no intention of correcting my statement.”

Cells at Work! Lady Review (Anime News Network, Rebecca Silverman)

A real give-and-take of frankness and weird romanticization.

That said, this book has zero compunctions discussing menstruation, pregnancy, STI and cancer screenings, and all the other wonderful things that come with owning a uterus and vagina. Macrophage and his pals all have to deal with anemia and PMS, as well as the horrors of a transvaginal ultrasound and pap smear, and their reactions are pretty spot-on – aghast but resigned. While this doesn’t get into too much detail, it does mention how all of these things affect the body and can be intertwined with each other, which again isn’t something that gets a lot of press because of societal discomfort with female bodies and bodily functions.

Because this is a book about a lady body, there are a few new cell types introduced into the mix, primarily the endometrial cells, which all look like especially froofy Victorian maids. They spend their time prepping a gorgeous, fluffy bed for “The Legend,” i.e., a fertilized egg, and again, I’m a bit torn on seeing them weep when none appears and the body’s period starts. Yes, it can feel like your body is mad at you at that time of the month, but since not all women want (or can have) children, having the lovely endometrial cells start crying feels one-sided. Just because bodies can do something doesn’t mean that they need to, and this is the rare case where the Cells at Work! franchise feels like it loses sight of that.

Single-sex public high schools in Japan’s Saitama Pref. should be made coed: panel (The Mainichi, Reiko Oka)

Currently 12 of the 137 schools in the prefecture are still classed as single-sex.

The panel’s survey also showed the percentages of male and female prefectural high school staffers. In fiscal 2022, there were no female managers at the five boys’ schools while just 21.4% of their teachers and staff were women. Across all schools, 14.3% of managers were women, as were 35% of teachers and staff. The panel recommended that the proportion of female managers at boys’ schools be increased.

In response, Hiyoshi said, “We have stipulated in our personnel transfer policy that we will strive to actively promote women, and we need to continue to do so.” In this academic year, one female manager was appointed to Urawa High School.

The prefectural education board said, “There is no school district system (which limits where students can attend school), and in terms of equal educational opportunities, we are not aware of any gender gap among the current prefectural high schools.” However, nursery department courses are only available at girls’ schools.

As of Sept. 14, the education board had apparently received 10 opinions opposing the recommendation for coeducation and one in favor of it.

What Crunchyroll Purchasing RightStuf Means To Us (Anime News Network, Nicholas Dupree and Steve Jones)

Looking at what the closure of one of the pillars of anime merch sales could mean, and what other options now exist.

Nick: There are also non-online options like ordering through local booksellers and shops for manga and novels. But even I may die from cringe-related injuries if I have to make a damn phone call to request volume 8 of The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You from a stranger.

Steve: It’s also worth noting that Sentai still has its store, which presumably won’t be going anywhere. And who knows if this move will prompt other boutique licensors like Discotek to pursue similar options for themselves.

Nick: It’s possible, but I wouldn’t count on it. One of the reasons Sony bought Right Stuf, to begin with, is that establishing a distribution network is a long and expensive process that takes years to start seeing dividends. Any company trying to start now is fighting against the current with a pair of water wings. This highlights how much this move sucks from an actual customer perspective.

Steve: Unrelated, but back around the turn of the 20th century, there was this company called Standard Oil founded by a guy called John Rockefeller. It became the biggest petroleum conglomerate in the world through its focus on horizontal and vertical integration, i.e., using its size and wealth to outprice competitors both in the refining industry and in all the industries related to refining. It bought out lots of smaller companies and eventually had control of the entire oil production process, from digging to delivery. It only dissolved because the U.S. government sued it using the Sherman Antitrust Act. Just thought that was interesting.

VIDEO: Interview with I’m in Love with the Villainess author Inori.

VIDEO: Interview with manga artist Kofi Bazzell-Smith.

VIDEO: Dissection of the recent patent for magnetic analogue sticks in the Switch 2.

AniFem Community

Do please have a moment of silence for us premiere reviewers.

I kind of think that if Oshi no Ko had stopped with the premiere, it would have been a better show.  More generally, if a show has a complicated setup or pivots in tone after its backstory, long premieres are better than e.g. what Jujutsu Kaisen just did. It makes a lot of sense to do with something like Frieren and is even thematically appropriate given that it’s about living long past what are likely to be the most epic events of your life.  I think when they don’t work is when it’s just an excuse to shove a bunch more fight sequences in. Or to be marketed like a movie without having any narrative motivation for the extra runtime.
I am instantly worried about pacing when I see this. If they use the extra length to give cover more of the source material and thus a better sense of the show, then great. If it pulls a Demon Slayer and just slows down to a snails pace to pad it out, then I just become frustrated.

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