Weekly Round-Up, 22-28 May 2024: Indie Otome Spotlight, Ashihara Hinako Memorium, and Discrimination Bills

By: Anime Feminist May 28, 20240 Comments
a girl lying in bed with her cat on her head

AniFem Round-Up

“Queering” Heteronormativity: Biological essentialism in genderbending manga

With the Hana Kimi anime announcement, it’s worth looking back at how cross-dressing rom-coms of its era handled gender play.

How Berserk’s Casca challenges the myth of the “Strong Black Woman”

Discotek’s reprinting of the original 1997 Berserk makes this an excellent chance for more people to get to know Casca, and what makes her great.

Chatty AF 207: 2024 Spring Mid-Season Check-In

We check in on the latest season, some fumbled romances, and sci-fi with yet-unrealized potential.

What’s your favorite moment of experimental animation in anime?

Unusual techniques, medium-bending, you name it.

Beyond AniFem

47news interview with Tamifull (Tumblr, bnuuygrils)

Fan translation of a recent interview with the How Do We Relationship? creator. Includes spoilers.

47: “Realistic” LGBTQ romance stories tend to end up falling into a handful of patterns. Whether it’s manga or movies, you see a lot of stories that feel like “the tragedy of same-sex love”, or that seem intended to make you feel sorry for the characters. Like the audience is meant to walk away thinking, “How thought-provoking! I really learned something”. But How Do We Relationship? is pretty different, isn’t it?

Tamifull: Rather than being “yuri” or being viewed as an “LGBTQ story”, I want people to get into the story just because they see it and go “Hey, there’s girls dating in here!”. Sexual minorities aren’t here to be instructional materials for anyone. LGBTQ people live in the same world as everyone else. I want the characters to seem like people you might meet anywhere, and to have relationships you might see anywhere. I want the fact that the relationship isn’t heterosexual to just be a detail. That’s why Watanabe-san and I decided not to advertise How Do We Relationship? specifically as a yuri manga.

47: Achieving that sense of reality must take a lot of care. I imagine you have to be careful to avoid the set phrases and compositions that readers see all the time in romance manga.

Tamifull: That’s true. For example, in the scene where Saeko opens up to Mikkun, their male friend, about her dating Miwa, she asks him if he finds the two of them dating “gross, or wrong, or unnatural”, and Mikkun, while looking away, asks in return, “What? Do I have to feel that way about you?”. The orthodox move would be to have the handsome guy character looking straight out of the page, smoothly delivering some cool line. But in real life we don’t have convenient handsome guys just lying around, and you’re not usually looking people straight in the eye. It’s not that staged. I think the casual nature of the lines, and the casual nature of the situation, actually make it all the more resonant. I want to keep that natural feeling to the story, and I go out of my way to avoid making it feel “romantic”. I think my ideal is for it to feel like a movie.

Watching Sound! Euphonium for the First Time in 2024 (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)

Dipping a toe into the first season with all its baggage already attached.

The state of queer representation in the media—across the world—is evolving constantly, and was in a very different spot back in 2015 when Kumiko dreamily followed Reina up those mountain steps, only for Reina to (apparently) give her heart to a male side character. With the benefit of hindsight, it may be tempting to call this a weaksauce and non-committal bit of sapphic writing. These days, after all, we have anime like The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady where girls unambiguously say “I love you” and kiss on the mouth. However, we shouldn’t be too quick to scoff at older media, nor should we get too complacent and assume it’s All Better Now: we still have cases like Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury where the creative team’s earnest attempts at queer storytelling were overshadowed by nervous corporate attempts at censorship.

Sound! Euphonium sits at a media history crossroads in a way that’s fascinating to me. You have to wonder, if it was made now, would they have gone all in and not bothered with the plotlines that limply insist that these girls have male love interests? From everything I hear, Liz and the Blue Bird, which was made a few years later and with more creative freedom, is Yamada finally getting to play out a tender story of love between young women. It’s tempting and bittersweet to imagine the alternate reality where she got to do that with Kumiko and Reina, speaking even more directly to the queer fans who found that the characters resonated, and unfettered by “up for interpretation”-style studio meddling.

Then again… Sound! Euphonium is, by its nature, tugged in all directions by various behind-the-scenes tensions. Chiefly, by the tension between faith to the source material and the desire to warp the story so Kumiko’s most important dynamic was with a female side character. The end result of all this tug-of-war is a story that’s lovely but sometimes very emotionally confused, and confusing to watch. With the power of retrospect and a catalogue of other queer media to enjoy, it’s a little bit darkly funny, but I can imagine the heartache it must have caused for the viewers who got invested in a sapphic love story that was repeatedly dangled in front of them and then abruptly tugged away (with no solace to be found in the source material, which, again, is apparently significantly more straight).

Magic & Mystery Otome Collaboration Spotlights 12 Amazing Indie Otome Games (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

Twelve indie games across a spectrum of subgenres and styles.

This summer 12 magical indie otome developers are teaming up to make this summer even more enchanting with the Magic & Mystery bundle! Get whisked away into fantastical worlds filled with romance, adventure, and so much more!

Be sure to check out all of these enchanting stories and support these amazing creators! Let’s take a look at all 12 of the Magic & Mystery titles!

‘I was cheated’: Abused foreign workers in spotlight as Japan revamps system (The Mainichi, Haruna Okuyama)

The proposed bill offering better resources, if passed, would still be several years from taking effect.

However, Linh had a rocky start when she first arrived in Japan, running into trouble with the registered support organization that was supposed to be assisting her but ended up betraying her. She was supposed to work in Aichi Prefecture, but a staffer at the support organization that came to pick her up at Narita Airport told her, “They’re unable to accept you because of COVID,” and she ended up interviewing to work at another company in Tokyo.

After the interview, however, Linh was taken to an apartment in Gunma Prefecture. She asked the support staff when she could start working, but was merely told, “Just wait.” Her passport and residence card were then confiscated, preventing her from escaping.

Four months later, she and two female roommates sought help at a Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau branch and explained their situation at the counter. They asked if procedures to work at the Tokyo company were in progress, but the worker just told them, “There hasn’t been an application.” Overwhelmed with anxiety about her future, tears welled up in Linh’s eyes.

The interaction with the immigration staffer lasted only three minutes, and she wasn’t referred to any other consultation services. Stranded in a foreign country, she felt at a loss. “This is the worst. I was cheated,” she thought.

‘Protect human rights’: Muslim woman loses suit against Tokyo police over discrimination (The Mainichi, Yuko Murase)

The both the woman and her young child were coerced into going to the police station and questioned.

At a press conference in Tokyo following the ruling, the woman criticized that the verdict would promote “discrimination, inequality, injustice and oppression against foreigners in Japan,” saying, “I believe today’s decision, against human rights, is extremely disappointing for all foreigners living in Japan.”

She said, “The judge believes that all police officers are telling the truth, and believes that questioning a 3-year-old baby alone in a language she does not understand is legal in Japan,” while choking up with tears. “I would like to request all my kindhearted, lovable Japanese people and foreigners to unite to make peace, justice, equality, and to protect human rights for all people living in Japan.”

Atsuko Nishiyama, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “We were hoping for an in-depth discussion on racial discrimination, but the court turned us away. I can’t believe this is what we get after nearly three years of hearing the case.” She also pointed out, “It is nonsense to read judgments saying it is unnatural for a police officer to do such a thing, when the truth is that the police officer said or did something unbelievable. The court should have carefully judged the possibility of the police responding in a racist manner.”

Regarding the provision of the woman’s personal information, Nishiyama said, “It is a major problem that the court did not go into the fact that the police should have been cautious in dealing with a man who had repeatedly used discriminatory language and behavior.”

South Korea fund lacks money to compensate wartime labor victims: report (The Mainichi)

Multiple Japanese companies are under court order to provide money to the victims’ families.

In March last year, the government of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol decided to compensate the plaintiffs and bereaved family members with money from the government-backed fund, rather than seeking restitution directly from the Japanese companies that were sued, in a bid to improve ties with Japan.

Due to the 12 billion won shortfall, compensation payment by the Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization by Imperial Japan is now “at a crossroads,” Shim said.

“The solution (of compensating through the foundation) would gain the support from the South Korean public only if Japanese businesses participate in” the funding, Shim said, while also requesting further donations from South Korean companies.

The foundation has received 4 billion won from South Korean steelmaker POSCO Co.

Ties between Seoul and Tokyo deteriorated after South Korea’s top court in October and November 2018 upheld orders in separate judgments against Nippon Steel Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., requiring that they pay damages for forced labor during the colonial rule between 1910 and 1945.

Women account for only 18% of prospective candidates in next Japan general election: survey (The Mainichi, Shihoko Abe)

During the 2022 election, women made up roughly 33% of candidates.

Of all the LDP branch chiefs, 23 were women as of May 10. Due to defections in the wake of a political fundraising party slush fund scandal involving LDP factions, there are uncertainties over the party’s policy on fielding candidates in some constituencies. The 23 female branch chiefs bring the proportion of prospective female candidates in 278 single-seat constituencies to just 8.2%, not counting 11 districts where Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, is set to field its candidates. This is the lowest percentage among the six major parties. Komeito plans to field 11 candidates in the next general poll, and one of them, or 9%, is female.

Among the opposition camp, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) is running 140 candidates in the next general election, of which 47, or 33.5%, are women, followed by 38, or 21.3%, of 178 candidates for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, seven, or 21.2%, of 33 candidates for the Democratic Party for the People, and 29, or 18.4%, of 157 candidates for Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party). None of them, however, meet the government goal of 35%.

In the last lower house election held in 2021, women accounted for 15.4% of candidates fielded by the six parties in single-seat constituencies.

The gender parity law was unanimously enacted in May 2018 after a cross-party lawmakers’ group submitted the bill to the Diet. The law calls for political parties to make the numbers of their male and female candidates as even as possible in national and local elections. Being a conceptual law, it has no penalties for offenders.

VIDEO: Calculating how much revenue a webtoon artist made from a 2 million view comic.

VIDEO: Memorial for Ashihara Hinako.

VIDEO: Wandering Son, its context, and its contemporaries. This video is raising funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief fund.

AniFem Community

Only downside to this question is not having more GIFs to show off.

I'm a huge fan of the cut paper look in Gankutsuou and Mononoke. Wish more anime would adopt a similar style, even if I understand why they don't. I'm always willing to give an anime a shot if the art style is striking.
Everything in Bocchi, honestly. The popping live action balloon of powder is up there though.

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