For all the series does well, it also treats gender nonconformity and queerness as passing phases its characters discard by the story’s end.
Princess Arete is a forgotten gem from 2001, which tells a different but equally thoughtful story about sexism and agency than the short story that inspired it.
Quality, nostalgic, or both.
The team shares their own picks from shows new and old.
Is Japan’s New Adult Video (AV) Law Working? (Unseen Japan, Jay Allen)
Some oppose the law because they oppose legalized sex work, while some actresses claim the law’s required one-month delay between signing and filming costs them work.
Despite the seeming wins, some industry personnel say the new law needs changes. One male AV producer complained that, while he sees the point of the new law, it’s too vague about what a “proper” AV production consists of. He repeats the claim of some actresses that the law paints the entire industry as bad actors.
Others in the industry, however, say the law doesn’t go far enough. Former actress Imazato Rumi (pseudonym) told 47News that she found her own performances becoming more extreme as time went on. In one case, after the new law’s passage, her studio sent her to perform a scene with several novice male actors.
Imazato recounts feeling a sense of unease and even humiliation around the men. However, there was no one from the production on scene to help her. The experience was so traumatic that Imazato quit the Japan AV scene.
Besides calling for more assistance for performers, Imazato says the industry needs to change how it pays actors. Pay scales differ wildly across productions, with some companies paying performers as little as possible.
She Deserved Better – A ‘Forspoken’ Introspective (Black Nerd Problems, Garrett Green)
On the protagonist of Square Enix’s latest game.
To be clear, I don’t think Forspoken is a bad game overall. It takes a while but once you get later into the game and unlock more abilities it becomes a really fun power fulfillment. But that story, and these characters… oooff. From the onset, Forspoken does its damnest to portray Frey as such an unlikable character. She’s abrasive, quick to anger, and aside from liking her cat she just has a generally bad attitude. It makes sense in the “real world” she comes from; however, once she’s transported she doubles down on treating everyone like garbage, even those who are actively helping her. How are you going to look at someone breaking you out of prison and treat them like they did you wrong? The way she is presented just comes off as lazy and honestly problematic at times. The character is steeped in the old “angry Black woman” archetype, and it’s such a bummer to see here.
However, I want to make sure we give the actress behind Frey, Ella Balinska, her flowers. She acts what the script calls for beautifully. When she’s obnoxious, she super obnoxious. And when the script lets her flex emotionally and lets her grow, Balinska is great. The main issue comes from the script and the writers. There’s such a lack of melanin in the room that a lot of it speaks volumes. This isn’t an indictment of maliciousness from the writers, more just a misguided effort that another voice in the room could have addressed. And this is why representation matters. Because we want our authentic voices heard. And when it’s not, this is the result.
Recently, it’s been revealed that the story of Forspoken changed drastically from what it was initially. Gary Whitta, a writer on such projects as Rogue One, Book of Eli, Taletale’s Walking Dead, and more, revealed on the Video Game Writing 101 podcast with Alanah Pearce that Square Enix pretty much rebooted the story midway through development. Square apparently didn’t like the original story but kept the world. It’s not uncommon for stories to change and to have multiple writers in the room. But unfortunately, the end result here just screams of written by committee and the story suffers from it.
BBC Plans Documentary Episode About Idol Industry Mogul Johnny Kitagawa’s Alleged Abuse (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)
Kitagawa was never formally charged during his lifetime.
The broadcaster describes the program as follows:
Johnny Kitagawa‘s legendary male-only talent agency trained young boys to become superstars. But for over 50 years, Japan has kept Kitagawa’s dark secret – a long history of allegations of sexual abuse, made by boys in his agency. Even after the music mogul’s death in 2019 the Japanese media remained largely silent. Why? Journalist Mobeen Azhar explores the suffocating reality of being a J-pop idol, the influence that Kitagawa had on the media and exposes the brutal consequences of turning a blind eye.
Kitagawa passed away in July 2019 due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage (form of stroke). He was 87.
Under current law, police are able to detain individuals under suspicion of “mental derangement.”
Fujioka, an expert on human rights issues in relation to people with disabilities, said many police officers are not educated or given training on how to deal with disabled people.
“Many are not aware that their duties include protecting citizens with disabilities,” Fujioka said, recalling one incident in a case at the Fukuoka High Court where he asked an officer if he had ever considered whether someone under questioning might have mental disabilities.
“(The policeman) said they do not think about it at all, because they wouldn’t be able to do their job properly if they always had to consider it,” Fujioka said.
The film also reveals the disappointment and frustration felt by Kenta’s father and his brother, Kota, after enduring years of attending legal proceedings in their quest for justice.
“In the end, I began to feel like I was being told during many of the trials that I shouldn’t have let a disabled person out of the house,” Takayuki said, adding that he felt accused of being ultimately responsible for his son’s death because he was not accompanying Kenta at the time of his encounter with the police.
Kota says that discrimination against people with mental disabilities is a broader social problem, and also includes ordinary people who are not interested in educating themselves about societal issues surrounding them.
Mononoke Anime Film Delayed, Takahiro Sakurai Will No Longer Reprise Medicine Seller Role (Anime News Network, Crystalyn Hodgkins)
The original anime aired in 2007.
Twin Engine stated in the notice:
…the animated film “MONONOKE” sets in Ōoku (historically the women’s quarters of Edo Castle) and tries to depict the suffering and remedy of women. Judging from the standpoint of the story, we decided to change the cast of the Medicine Seller.
The staff will announce the new release date and the new cast this summer.
The Weekly Bunshun tabloid newspaper reported on October 26 that Sakurai had been engaged in an extramarital affair for at least 10 years with a writer for his P.S. Genki Desu. Takahiro travel radio show. Sakurai’s talent management agency Intention published a statement the following day that acknowledged the article’s report and apologized to the unnamed woman, Sakurai’s fans, and all involved.
Rally in Tokyo’s Shibuya calls for Japan to raise minimum wages (Anime News Network, Satoshi Tokairin)
The rally was attended by roughly 100 protesters.
One 25-year-old female Tokyo resident barely gets by, earning some 190,000 yen (around $1,395) after tax monthly while repaying 17,000 yen (around $125) per month of her student loan. She said, “A 1,500 yen (around $11) hourly wage is the minimum needed for people to live decently.”
Another female Tokyo resident in her 30s is a regular employee, but still only earns around 150,000 yen (about $1,100) after tax monthly. She changed jobs due to health issues caused by the long overtime hours that were expected at her prior workplace. The only new full-time jobs meeting her condition of no long overtime hours were low-paying, she indicated.
“Even if I cut down on utility and food expenses, I am left with nothing after paying rent. I have to give up on everything: marriage, children, moving, or changing jobs.” She has no leeway to work on getting new credentials for a career change. This was her first time joining a rally, driven by hardship from, in her words, “what seems like a competition to get wages as low as possible.”
Tokyo’s minimum wage was raised to 1,072 yen (roughly $7.87) last October.
Prince of Tennis Creator Takeshi Konomi Reveals He Uses Wheelchair (Anime News Network, Crystalyn Hodgkins)
The series has been a sports institution since 1999.
The Prince of Tennis manga creator Takeshi Konomi revealed on Twitter on Sunday that he is currently unable to walk and is using a wheelchair. He stated he could not attend the latest The Prince of Tennis musical production, but he received a video of encouragement from the staff and cast of the musical.
In December, Konomi did not attend the Jump Festa ’23 event as planned due to his poor health. He explained at the time that he had been in poor health several times in 2022 due to an unspecified illness.
Manga Recommendations for Mature Otome Gamers (Blerdy Otome, Naja)
Steamy M/F manga titles out in English.
Are you looking for something spicy to read to make up for the lack of R18 otome localizations? I got you boo, with these steamy manga reads! Each of these manga titles bring on the heat between the sheets, so whatever you’re looking for you’ll be sure to find something fulfill your desires! So here are some manga recommendations for mature otome gamers!
If you want something a bit more sweet, check out my list Manga Recommendations for Otome Game Lovers!
Health and Inclusivity: Considering Identity in Okura’s ‘I Think Our Son is Gay’ (Comicosity, Allen Thomas)
A look at the series as an educational aid for a brighter future.
Giving queer and trans youth tools for uncovering who they are is vital, and it has to happen at their pace. Again, given how queerphobia and transphobia have made coming out an unfortunate part of many experiences, kids and adolescents need tools and support to navigate on their own, but also safe adults to talk to and guide them to safe resources. This means backing off, watching what you say, defending queer and trans people in front of them, and removing harmful people from their lives.
While Tomoko doesn’t have to do anything drastic, she does have to challenge her husband more than she maybe expected. Akiyoshi is loving and devoted, and does his best to make up for being away with work. Both Hiroki and Yuri have a positive relationship with him, and all the same Akiyoshi reveals casual queerphobia that has an obvious impact on Hiroki. The first time it happens in the manga, Tomoko isn’t quite sure what to do. But later on she develops helpful strategies for countering Akiyoshi and providing some solace for Hiroki.
I appreciate this manga because it is a helpful guide for approaching the queer and trans kids in our lives. Hell, it’s great for cishet kids too because they can see what their queer and trans peers may likely experience in school, at home, or in life in general. This manga also shows us how to be there for the people in our lives by responding to their needs without projecting our own.
The evolving relationship between yuri and sci-fi over the decades.
However, what changes between these series and those mentioned earlier is the Yuri itself. The relationships become much more explicit and central to the plot. You can deliberate whether or not Bubblegum Crisis is sapphic, but just try sitting someone down and arguing that Kannazuki no Miko is not built around the crux of two women holding romantic interest in each other. Yuri science fiction author Gengen Kusano proposes a dichotomy similar to soft and hard sci-fi to analyze these titles, Weak and Strong Yuri. He explains it in his own brilliantly convoluted and philosophical way, but in short, Weak Yuri relies on using logic and the mind to make the real imaginary, while strong Yuri is about emotionalism and realism, making fiction into reality.
Strong Yuri is Yuri that focuses on realism through feelings and emotions. Kusano describes it as fiction characters having real emotions. They have strong connections and affection for each other that are real and powerful. The audience experiences the feelings between the characters as they are felt and portrayed. Think of how emotional the exclamations and love, sorrow, confusion, and affection are in titles like Bloom Into You and Citrus. In a sense, they can be so strong that they transcend their fictional confines and become real, as they are experienced by considers, a stage called “radically Strong Yuri.” Most explicit Yuri, which is not subtext or suggestive content but in-your-face lesbianism, is Strong Yuri, although not all Strong Yuri is outright depictions of lesbianism; it is a square rectangle situation, not all rectangles are squares, but all squares are rectangles.
Weak Yuri is cemented in the areas of thought, logic, and epistemology. It deals with the theory of mind, the ability to attribute mental states to others or ourselves. For example, when we see someone smiling or laughing, we may not feel their emotion ourselves, as we do not have direct access to their mind, but we recognize that they are happy. In Weak Yuri, one uses their theory of mind to observe facts and deduce the existence of a Yuri relationship, even if one is not present. So-called “Yuri-ish” titles like Yuru Camp or K-ON! do not outright state or depict romantic or sexual attractions, but is attributed by the viewers onto characters. Said observer witnesses the interactions between girls and, using that factual and observable data, puzzles out a lesbian attraction they prescribe to the subjects, whether real. Shipping culture relies on Weak Yuri’s logic Kusano’s most extreme, “Radical Weak Yuri,” the relationships of real people, like idols, become imaginary through these projections.
Some nice picks in a variety of languages.