Weekly Round-Up, 22-28 November 2023: Conditions at MAPPA, Neko Can Dream, and New Inori Novel

By: Anime Feminist November 28, 20230 Comments
chibi MaoMao with hearts surrounding her head

AniFem Round-Up

Escape from Yuri Hell: FLIP FLAPPERS’ critique of the Class S genre

This underrated queer magical girl show used its surreal setting to create a boarding school whose inhabitants are never allowed to change or grow closer.

Achieving Whiteness Through Social Mobility in Gankutsuou

This adaptation of the Count of Monte Cristo is one of the few to examine the implicit racial dynamics in the story’s central conflict.

Chatty AF 196: 2023 Fall Mid-Season Check-In

Toni, Caitlin, and Peter dive into the biggest season of anime ever, from megahits like Frieren to underdog title Migi&Dali.

Who’s a female character whose arc really surprised you?

Whether it’s a subverted archetype, hidden depth, or an arc off the rails.

Beyond AniFem

What the Hell is Going on at MAPPA? (Anime News Network, Nicholas Dupree & Monique Thomas)

Jujutsu Kaisen’s production woes are only the most recent instance of MAPPA’s studio crunch.

Nick: Ironically, MAPPA‘s CEO, Manabu Otsuka, referenced such a studio in an interview not too long ago. According to him, he started pushing for the studio to take on big-name adaptations because he wanted to establish them to stand alongside Kyoto Animation. This is deeply funny in a very dark way because everything he’s done is the opposite of that company’s ethos.
KyoAni is famous within the industry for fostering talent through their animation school and keeping that talent by engaging in healthy long-term plans that produce high-quality animation at a pace that doesn’t suck the life out of their staff. They are near completion of the latest Sound! Euphonium series nearly half a year before it starts to air. If Otsuka’s appreciation of their work is sincere, he’s nonetheless learned the exact wrong lesson in trying to rival them.

Nicky: The irony extends to MAPPA‘s entire history. Former CEO Masao Maruyama co-founded MAPPA after being dissatisfied with the situation at his previous studio, Madhouse. MAPPA started as a boutique studio dedicated to niche projects and was very different from Madhouse. He used the clout and experience he built throughout his long career to pull valuable names and talent. However, that vision has gradually eroded with more and more projects, and now it feels like MAPPA is indistinguishable from the Madhouse they were trying to escape. Recently, Maruyama founded a smaller studio named M2 to produce artier fare, the studio responsible for the adaption of PLUTO.

Nick: Again, this isn’t to single out MAPPA as The One Studio That Does This, but it does highlight how backward the executive brain can get. When you see a studio lauded for being selective with its projects and dedicating its resources to fostering talent, and you decide the best way to emulate it is to create a content assembly line staffed with increasingly unhappy freelancers, you have already defeated yourself. Jujutsu Kaisen’s primary animator, Kōsuke Katō briefly tweeted last week that he was considering suicide.

Japan begins trial of over-the-counter ‘morning-after pill’ sales (The Mainichi)

The listed cost is roughly equivalent to brand-name morning-after pills in the United States.

Morning-after pills are now sold at 145 drug stores nationwide at prices ranging from around 7,000 yen ($47) to 9,000 yen as part of the health ministry’s investigative trial.

Women aged 16 and older and who wish to obtain the drugs through the study can buy the pills after calling the pharmacy in advance. Any woman who is under 18 must have parental consent and be accompanied by a parent when making the purchase.

The pills, NorLevo and the generic version levonorgestrel, work best within 72 hours after unprotected sex and have an efficacy rate of 80 percent, according to the ministry.

Before the trial, women in Japan, including victims of sexual assault, had to go to a clinic or hospital for a prescription to obtain an emergency contraceptive.

Selling the drug without a prescription was discussed by a ministry panel in 2017, but the ministry stopped short of giving the green light, with critics saying it would make people less likely to practice safe sex.

Discussions have resurfaced regarding the over-the-counter availability of emergency contraceptive pills on the back of growing calls to protect women’s rights.

Interview with Nekobungi Sumire (Indie Tsushin)

Sumire is a trans artist who recently released an 8-bit game and works predominantly in manga.

Please tell us about Neko Can Dream!

I dedicated approximately three years to developing of the initial release, the Japanese edition of Neko Can Dream. It’s my first and at the moment only game project. The central character is a non-binary individual with cat ears who awakens one evening in a back alley of a bustling city, grappling with hunger and amnesia. To satiate their hunger, they grab a can of cat food, only to discover from a city resident that it’s actually an item known as a ‘dream can’. The protagonist is then tasked with making more dream cans, and the method involves venturing into the dream world of sleeping humans. […]

Can you tell us about anything you are currently working on?

I’ve returned to working on a feature-length webcomic, and my current project is called The Kingdom of Felismans. It’s a story that incorporates typical JRPG fantasy motifs but is set in a world with its own rich history. In this unique realm, human men have vanished due to a curse cast by a demon lord, and in their absence, felismans, cat furry beings, have emerged to rule over the human women. The main characters are a lesbian couple, and the narrative delves into themes of gender inequality, sexism, and gender dysphoria. I aspire to translate this work into English someday, so I hope you can look forward to it.

South Korea court orders Japan to compensate ‘comfort women’, reverses earlier ruling (Reuters, Hyonhee Shin)

Japan has continued to protest the ruling.

The legacy of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula remains politically sensitive for both sides, with many surviving “comfort women” – a Japanese euphemism for the sex abuse victims – still demanding Tokyo’s formal apology and compensation.

Bilateral relations between the two U.S. allies have been strained for years by the issues of wartime sex abuse and forced labour, but South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have sought to improve ties.

In response to the court’s decision, Japanese vice minister for foreign affairs Masataka Okano summoned South Korean ambassador Yun Dukmin to lodge a “strong protest”.

The 16 victims filed the suit in 2016, seeking 200 million won ($155,000) each in compensation. But the Seoul Central District Court dismissed the case in 2021, citing sovereign immunity, a legal doctrine that allows a state to be exempt from a civil suit in foreign courts.

The Seoul High Court, however, reversed the lower court’s decision, recognising the jurisdiction of South Korean courts over the Japanese government as a defendant.

Queerbait in video games made growing up gay even harder (Gayming Magazine, Mahin Kesore)

LGBTQ+ rep in major games has only very recently started becoming more common.

The little representation LGBTQ+ people get in mainstream gaming is usually restricted to a closeted, best-friend sidekick type like Soren from Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn or the camp comic relief, as seen in the infamous beach scene in Persona 5 with Ryuji. Being a gay man, I was always less interested in the typical love interests and more in the secondary male friend who usually completes the trifecta of friendship groups often shown in games, TV, and film. All these stories include a friendship group consisting of three friends, with implied heterosexual romances between two of the three.

For example, Reyn from Xenoblade Chronicles was the standard caring brute who always worried for Shulk during the course of the game’s story, often putting him above his own needs. Along with Fiora, these are the first characters you play as, and you guessed it, they also complete the standard three-piece friendship group archetype.

When starting a big adventure like Xenoblade Chronicles, learning a whole new battle system, characters, and plot can be a lot to take in. Having a character who undoubtedly looks out for you and helps ease you into the game is comforting. However, is this a way to coddle players while getting into a challenging game, or a subtle way to include LGBTQ+ themes? Can it be both?

Survey: National universities aim for more female faculty members (The Asahi Shimbun, Chika Yamamoto)

83% of the 643 universities who responded, 40% were positive about working to increase women faculty members.

Particularly low are the national universities. The percentage of female faculty members was 19.1 percent, about 8 percentage points lower than that of universities as a whole. The percentage of female professors was 11.6 percent, and female presidents was only 4.7 percent.

At national universities, 42 percent of students study in the fields of science, engineering and agriculture, more than double the number of such students at public and private universities.

Science, engineering and agriculture are fields in which the percentage of female students is low and fewer women go on to become faculty members in those fields.

Therefore, the ratio of female faculty members in these fields is lower than the average of public and private universities.

The Japan Association of National Universities has set a goal of increasing the percentage of female faculty members to 20 percent for presidents and vice presidents, 20 percent for professors and 30 percent or more for associate professors, by fiscal 2025.

The joint survey also showed a positive attitude toward the promotion of women among national universities, with 86 percent saying that they have increased or are aiming to increase the number of female faculty members from the previous year.

‘Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’ Gives Ramona Flowers Her Flowers (Black Nerd Problems, Omar Holmon)

Spoiler-heavy discussion of the new show and its attempts to redress the original’s shortcomings.

In the series, Matthew Patel is the only dark skin character with lines. We see some Black background characters in this show and Lucas Lee’s agent is Black with some speaking lines but Matthew Patel and Knives Chau are the two prominent people of color in each iteration of this series. This time around Matthew gets to have not only one of the best fight scenes in the show but a journey towards what he thinks he wants that he didn’t get before. Knives in the other iterations gets to have her apology from Scott but here, we see her given much more as we discover she is not only good at marketing, but she’s a fucking musical prodigy on instruments. There’s a sweet scene between Knives and Kim having a jamming session, and we witness the vibe that they create.

This isn’t a scene we get in any of the other iterations. This is a big moment for both Kim and Knives as it doesn’t involve Scott and is a moment for them to share with music being the binding agent. This is one of the rare times we see Kim smiling. This is also big for Knives as she is getting something of her own outside of being a romantic interest. Knives goes from idolizing Sex Bob-Omb’s sound, because Scott was in it to being the missing link that the band needed in order to not suck.

独占インタビュー「ラノベの素」 いのり。先生『勇者になりたい少女と、勇者になるべき彼女』(LN News)

Interview with Inori about her latest novel.



The New Games Journalism, Same As The Old Games Journalism (Aftermath, Gita Jackson)

The lack of online preservation has also lent itself to a constant repetitive reinvention.

A lot of my favorite games writing is just gone — disappeared from an internet that both “never forgets” and is as transient as a passing breeze. My favorite essay about Bloodborne, called “Gynohorror,” was deleted by its author and is impossible to search for online unless you are okay with sifting through mountains of pornography. Since Gillen was lamenting the closure of games magazines and the rise of video game websites in 2004, dozens and dozens of such websites have been born and then died ingloriously. Just today, ReedPop announced that it would be selling its suite of gaming websites, including RockPaperShotgun, a site that Gillen co-founded. Like my friend and colleague Harper Jay once wrote about, these are all cyclical discourses in video games, an industry with lots of history but no real desire to preserve it or look backwards.

VIDEO: Review of Kitano Takeshi’s new film Kubi.

AniFem Community

Here’s to these wonderful ladies!

Rikka from Chuunibyou would be my answer. You really think it’s just gonna have her by the end get over her chuuniness and become “normal” but it doesn’t in fact do that and instead relishes in it as an acceptable way to be.
Anthy Himemiya from Revolutionary Girl Utena--like many viewers, I just saw her as an underwritten damsel-in-distress at first, only for her many layers to slowly be peeled back and reveal a wonderfully complex, conflicted character who is one of my all time favorites in fiction. The show is clever in how it anticipates the viewer projecting our own assumptions and preconceptions onto Anthy the same way all the characters in-universe do-- and that's what makes later revelations hit so hard.  Youko Nakajima from the Twelve Kingdoms also develops and changes so much as a character it blows you away. I didn't expect her development from a weak-willed people pleaser to a strong-willed leader to be so engaging, tumultuous and complex.
#Eva Heinemann from Monster#I expected her to be the one dimensional evil ex woman#But I was pleasantly surprised to see her have an actual character arc and not a terrible ending
Anzu from Romantic Killer was tricked into a real-life dating sim by a nonbinary fairy & instead of falling for any of the romance candidates, she befriends them & they become a tight knit group. And she deliberately sabotages the fairy so she can get back her video games & chocolate.

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