Weekly Round-Up, 21-27 December 2022: Maquia Retrospective, Mental Health Awareness, and Embrace Your Size

By: Anime Feminist December 27, 20220 Comments
Anya and Becky try on sunglasses

AniFem Round-Up

Bayonetta 3 Validates Every Insecurity About My Life, Relationships, and Sexuality

Lucas DeRuyter examines his reaction to the end of Bayonetta and how the end of Bayonetta’s arc rejects what so many found inspirational about her.

The Walls That Contain Us: Transition, change, and I Want to Be a Wall

Cypress muses on the story of a mutual queer marriage of convenience and important changes in their own life.

What was your favorite Fall 2022 anime?

Yup, the season’s wrapping up already.

Bonus Podcast (with Transcript) 2022 December: Best Anime Christmas Episodes

The team rounds out the year by looking at some of the best Christmas and New Year stories in anime.

Beyond AniFem

Maquia Will Make You Cry (Anime News Network, Nicholas Dupree and Christopher Farris)

Discussion of Okada Mari’s directorial debut now that it’s on streaming.

Chris: Oh man, Maquia’s long journey through the many trials of motherhood mostly rings as bittersweet, but you know I felt straight-up bad for Leilia through most of this movie.

Nick: Hers is the far more tragic story; abducted to become a babymaker for the royals because they desperately need some supernatural edge to keep stature among their neighbors, and their long-standing stable of dragons keeps self-immolating from eons of captivity. It’s also where Maquia digs into a far less romanticized view of motherhood. For Maquia, being a mother is undoubtedly difficult but ultimately a means of forging identity and purpose. But for Leilia, it’s not something she’s allowed to choose or control—merely a tool to further the aims of men in power.

Chris: I was impressed with Leilia in the bit where she threatened weaponized abortion to protect Maquia. She’s a strong-willed person trapped in a seemingly inescapable situation who can only deal with that by lashing out in momentary, desperate ways. Still, her parts of the story came off as tragedy-porn flavored to me, compared to the messy but more calculated excesses of Maquia and Ariel’s story.

Nick: That’s fair, though how it ultimately resolves keeps her story from tipping over that particular ledge. Plus, it’s an important counterpoint to Maquia’s journey that keeps the film from being an uncritical “Gee, moms sure are perfect, selfless miracle workers” that similar stories can fall into. coughWolfChildrencough

Our Culture IS part of the solution, NOT the problem (Lūchū Study Group and Folx in Solidarity)

Response letter to two VICE Media videos about Okinawa, which “exploit negative stereotypes of Okinawan people and unfairly place the blame for poverty, alcoholism, and gender issues on Okinawan people, ignoring the historical forces that initiated the suffering our people face today.”

The topic of Amejo, a derogatory term for women in Okinawa who prefer to date American men, should have been carefully featured. The presence of the US military bases poses a great threat, particularly to women and children in Okinawa since women are regarded as “rewards” for male soldiers. Hence, the structural violence caused by Japan and the US must be taken into consideration when discussing gender issues in Okinawa, which the VICE video neglects to do. In general, rape cases are not reported because of victim blaming and stigma for survivors. In Okinawa, American soldiers hold systemic power in relation to Okinawan girls and women, because of pervasive American exceptionalism that portrays the US as if it were the paragon of democracy and freedom. However, the military’s focus is to dominate and conquer “inferior” groups of people, including women, nonbinary people, and Indigenous peoples. Nevertheless, without considering larger sociopolitical structures, the VICE video depicts “Amejo” through the Western male gaze, which reinforces Orientalism, paternalism, and misogyny. Simply put, they give an excuse for victim blaming and gaslighting.

Our Demands

We call first and foremost for responsibility and accountability from the VICE video team.

An ethical and moral response would be to take these videos down or to produce more accurate videos by understanding how inequalities in Okinawa are caused by the historical and ongoing colonialism mentioned above that continues to affect the political, economic, and social structures in Okinawa – Okinawans and their ways of living are not the origin of these problems, despite what the VICE videos suggest.

We have reached out to the VICE team and invited them to engage in an honest conversation. We have already conducted ourselves respectfully by giving the right of reply for ethical journalism. It should be noted that, in general, the issue of (mis)representation is omnipresent in the realm of mass media and journalism. As discussed above, Okinawan people carry a wide range of traumas and emotional wounds, and we are still marginalized and oppressed by the dual colonialism of Japan and the US. Continued misrepresentation causes a lot of harm to those with Okinawan ancestry.

2022 Rewind: Japan’s strict school rules restrict hair, underwear colors and dating (The Mainichi)

A collection of articles on incidents with harsh school wardrobe rules over the past year, as well as pushback against those restrictions.

Students and parents in Japan are voicing serious concerns over the former being instructed to strip to the waist for elementary and junior high school health checkups, saying it can be an embarrassing or even traumatic experience for some children. Full story.

Controversial school rules including on underwear color and dyeing hair black will be abolished from public high schools and other educational institutions run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government during the 2022 academic year, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned. Full story.

Inu-Oh and the Magic of Gender Expression (Anime News Network, Sebastian Stoddard)

Reading the film’s intertwining of music, performance, and gender.

This is what Tomona and Inu-Oh are doing throughout the film. They each start as part of a society that expects something from them. For Tomona, it is the expectation of the biwa players, who are meant to play the stories approved by the shogunate. He is told to dress plainly and keep his head shaved. For Inu-Oh, it is the expectation of staying hidden. He isn’t meant to be a Noh dancer; he isn’t supposed to be seen because of his deformities. He is always seen with a mask on to keep his face hidden. Each of the boys is asked to hide themselves and adhere to the rules set for them by others. Part of their freedom from these expectations comes from the appearances they adopt. As they form their own troupe, they begin dressing in a way that’s more flashy and grand, using makeup, interesting hairstyles, and clothes from many different aesthetics. This point of view focuses less on gender expression as an extension of gender identity and more as an act of expression and rebellion. Tomona and Inu-Oh are presenting this way as a performance, an homage to the culture of glam and the spirit of revolution.

The second way to view gender expression in the film is tied to gender identity itself. This view is supported by the fact that the person who voices Inu-Oh in the film, Avu-chan, identifies as non-binary. Tomona is depicted throughout the film as a deviant; his former teachers denounce his appearance as a “prostitute,” and those in power look upon him with distaste as he breaks the boundaries that have been placed before him. Though people find it off-putting, they still like Tomona’s performances; they just disagree with his gender expression. Ultimately, this culminates in violence as the shogunate enforces the law, and Tomona still refuses to fall in line. He won’t stop telling the tales of warriors lost to time, and he won’t return his appearance to that of a usual biwa player. For some viewers, this is an example of how society treats gender nonconforming, as Tomona is subjected to brutality for daring to be different by people who don’t even want to attempt to understand him. However, it’s also an example of some people’s joy when they are finally allowed to experiment with their appearance. Tomona seems far happier with his more androgynous look. His gender expression is deeply intertwined with his art and being, and that journey of self-discovery is something many people find relatable.

Tokyo park’s homeless wonder where to go after eviction, removal of belongings (The Mainichi, Shinji Kurokawa)

The Shibuya park will become the site of a redevelopment project next year.

An official stated, “We took a humanitarian approach,” adding that the removal of the residents’ belongings by administrative subrogation was because, “A park is not a place to live, nor is it a place to keep one’s things. Under the City Planning Act and other laws, we acted as the park’s manager and asked the residents to remove their belongings. However, they did not do so, so we took this move.”

Some of the man’s friends took up the ward’s offer for housing. But the man is hesitant and distrustful due what he’s heard about violence and theft at housing offered by the government.

Keeping his tent and belongings at the nearby park is also considered “illegal occupation” by the ward. “I don’t know when they will be taken away. No matter which park I try to sleep at, I’m instantly chased down. It isn’t easy to sleep outdoors, either,” the man said, gazing up at the sky.

Why ‘Tokyo Godfathers’ is One of My Favorite Christmas Films (Black Nerd Problems, Carrie McClain)

In praise of Kon’s most heartwarming film.

Christmas, while celebrated widely around the world, means something different to everyone, but the original Christmas story is most often the celebration of the Christ child. A baby born into the world to bring hope and salvation to a dark world. Children bring newness to the world, don’t they? In happier situations, babies are happily expected and celebrated. Their births bring happiness, light, and joy to those who receive them. Baby Kiyoko is the same with her pseudo family. There’s a line from the original subtitled version of the film where Gin (voiced by Tōru Emori in Japanese) says out loud “A child’s the only thing you hold dearer than life itself.” It is a poetically beautiful line that illustrates the start of the bond that our little crew gains with this lost child.

The baby brings hope to the little family that finds her along with a bevy of mixed emotions. Gin, who was once a father, feels out of place whenever pressed too hard about his daughter and his life back then. Hanna, later thinks back on a life she had with a now deceased lover and the family she never was able to have. Miyuki, when comforted by a good Samaritan who breastfeeds baby Kiyiko, reveals how her own actions–an act of violence injured someone she loved. Having this baby in their presence eventually leads all three of them to come face to face with their pasts and their mistakes that have brought them to the now.

Record 10,000-plus teachers in Japan took leave for mental illness in FY 2021: survey (The Mainichi. Makoto Fukazu)

The survey targeted roughly 919,000 public primary and secondary school teachers.

An education ministry study conducted in fiscal 2016 found that about 30% of teachers at public elementary schools and around 60% at public middle schools worked overtime of “more than 80 hours a month,” which is considered to be the threshold for determining death by overwork. A reform of teachers’ long working hours is still in progress, and the ministry believes that the burden of tasks may have been concentrated on some teachers, leading to their taking time off due to mental illness.

The survey also indicated the proportion of teachers who took sick leave or time off due to mental illness by each age group: 1.87% of those aged in their 20s, 1.36% for those in their 30s, 1.27% for those in their 40s, and 0.92% for those aged 50 or older. There was a higher tendency for younger teachers to take leave, and all age groups saw an increase from the previous academic year. The group of teachers in their 20s saw the greatest increase of 0.43 percentage points.

PRISM Project VTuber Rita Kamishiro Named Ambassador for National Alliance on Mental Illness (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

The VTuber recently raised over $10,000 for the organization via stream.

 Kamishiro cares deeply about mental health awareness, often talking to her audience about her experiences. “Through my platform, I want to encourage others to be everyday heroes not only for their community and loved ones but for themselves as well. I hope that by sharing my experiences and nurturing a positive, open-minded community, others will feel empowered to inspire change around them,” she commented. “Becoming a NAMI ambassador is my commitment to giving back the kindness, patience, and grace that others have shown me in my life.”

In recent years, mental health awareness and the impact of online harassment have become critical issues for content creators. According to a recent multilingual survey, people with female-presenting virtual avatars are particularly at risk of sexual harassment.

“As the internet continues to be a prevalent part of our lives, we need to be mindful of its impact on us, and vice versa. Social media can be a powerful tool for lifting one another up, but only if we have a healthy relationship with it,” Kamishiro said.

VIDEO: 2022’s high and low points for accessibility in gaming.

TWEET: Plus-size fashion manga Embrace Your Size is now available in English.

AniFem Community

This might have been one of the most stacked seasons in years.

It'd probably come down to the two we'll surely be seeing in these comments repeatedly: Bocchi the Rock, and Do It Yourself. ^_^ I was constantly impressed by how well Bocchi's writing balanced handling such a complex topic as extreme social anxiety, whilst also making it the hub of a comedy; such understanding and compassion. And the animators! They truly knew how to animate the band playing authentically, not to mention the absurdist interludes. I've no idea if we'll ever see more of Bocchi, but I certainly wouldn't mind catching up with them all again.  And then the sheer delight of DIY! What more need be said of Purin being so gradually brought out of her dreadfully "logical" attitude toward the activity, and so beautifully rekindling that earlier friendship? And indeed, with all of them, that absolutely beautiful camaraderie! Good job. =:) Likewise, we may very well never meet the girls again, but I'd have no problems with seeing how the next year's members take what we've seen so lovingly constructed.  But how could I not also mention My Master Has No Tail? The animation wasn't anything complex - here, it was very much the writing which carried it, bringing us such well realised characters, and an even stronger sense of community.  And then there was one which came as such a surprise for me, never having been caught up by the franchise before: Gundam Witch! (Oh, my, that scene from ep.11.. just beautiful!) They set out to make something new, to reach out to a fresh audience, and certainly in my case, they've succeeded - I'll be watching it all, and naturally, hoping we really do get the happy ending. ^_^  And of course, we've got to note that superb ending for Mob - another production where everything came together perfectly. (And with yet another absolutely outstanding opening theme!)
Oh man, there were so many good series this season. Possibly one of the best seasons for anime yet? My fave from this season by far was Gundam Witch, with Do It Yourself!, Bocchi The Rock!, and Akiba Maid War coming up not too far behind. I've gotta give some props to Chainsaw Man as well of course, but Im a bit too squeamish for its whole deal.  As for sequels, Pop Team Epic's second season absolutely stole the show as it transformed from an elaborate shitpost to a bona fide shitpost anthology featuring some of the biggest names in the industry, with the finale of Mob Psycho 100 also reaching spectacular heights despite Crunchyroll's pathetic recasting of Mob due to his original VA asking them to hold a meeting with SAG-AFTRA.  I think my biggest surprise was Gundam Witch. I was expecting it to be very traditionally Gundam given the prologue, but it went in the best direction the series has seen in decades and I can't be happy enough. Here's to more of our wonderful mecha brides!

We Need Your Help!

We’re dedicated to paying our contributors and staff members fairly for their work—but we can’t do it alone.

You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and every single penny goes to the people and services that keep Anime Feminist running. Please help us pay more people to make great content!

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

%d bloggers like this: