Weekly Round-Up, 23-29 December 2020: Onyx Equinox, Rekijo, and Japan’s History of Protests

By: Anime Feminist December 29, 20200 Comments
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AniFem Round-Up

 “Black Should Sound Black”: The inherently racist politics of anime dubbing

Bracy unpacks the history of dubbing studios casting white actors to play brown and Black characters, and the ongoing racism that continues to plague fandom and the industry.

Misato Katsuragi lives an existential millennial nightmare

While it’s a popular joke that Evangelion wrote the first relatable millennial, Anthony Gramuglia looks beyond the meme to the message about grief and survival that speaks to modern viewers.

What’s your favorite Fall 2020 anime?

The season’s finally over, so it’s time to take stock.

Beyond AniFem

Being Black in Japan: Biracial Japanese talk about discrimination and identity (The Washington Post, Simon Denyer, Akiko Kashiwagi)

Interviews with four biracial Japanese individuals about their experiences with racism in Japan.

Raimu Kaminashi: “In my nursery school, my father was an English teacher and kids loved him, so I felt proud of my roots in those days. But my parents divorced when I went to elementary school and there weren’t any other biracial kids at that school, so the other children looked at me very curiously. ‘Why is the color of your skin black?’ ‘Why is it different from your mother’s?’ As I learned about Africa in school, issues like slavery and poverty, slowly I began to feel negative about my roots.

“As they got older, children around me would make fun of me more often. To protect myself from getting hurt, I would take it as a joke.

“I grew up with my mother and a grandmother nearby, so Japanese culture took deep roots in me. Even though I grew up just like any other Japanese child, people would call me ‘gaijin’ [‘foreigner’]. However well I spoke Japanese, I was told, ‘You speak good Japanese’. Going through those experiences, I had an internal struggle. Was it how I looked that made it hard for me to be recognized as Japanese?

“At times, I even felt like I didn’t want to win. But my mother told me to greet them with a smile. Every morning, I would look in the mirror before going to school and practice my smile. I felt scared, knowing I would be ignored, but as I continued, I became tougher.

“What my mother told me has always stayed with me. She said, ‘Be the nail that sticks out so high, they can’t hammer it down.’ She told me to get to a level where other people wouldn’t be able to hold me back.

Episode 49: It’s Called Hentai, And It’s Art (But Why Tho?, LaNeysha Campbell)

Podcast discussion of hentai with a primary focus on manga.

This week on Did You Have To? we dive into hentai. Now, we’ve been talking about the possibility of this episode for a long time and now with the help of Aisha (MommaLovesManga), host of the The Yaoi Shelf and Yuircast we have an open discussion about the genre but also what it means to be open about it. While our discussion deals with some of the 101 history of hentai in the United States (I mean, we had to talk about Fakku), we end having a deeper discussion of what it means to means to be sex-positive as a woman from brown and Black communities.

Additionally, we also get into some of our favorite titles, why we choose to read hentai manga over watching it, and ultimately have a discussion on what separates hentai from other genres that has similar themes. And by themes, we mean explicit scenes. We talk about why we call yaoi and yuri by different names and how we’ve always seen hentai as something that was mostly heteronormative. We also break down the way some titles have been marketed as “hentai for women” because come on now, isn’t hentai for women already? Oh, and we also talk about eroge and how these visual novels are pretty much a gateway – at least for us. Because, to quote Stanley from The Office: It’s called hentai and it’s art.

Her Antenna Is Tuned to the Quietest Voices (The New York Times, Motoko Rich)

Portrait of author Miri Yu, who recently won the National Book Award for Tokyo Ueno Station.

As an ethnic Korean — known in Japan as Zainichi — from a poor family, she was bullied in school. Classmates called her a “germ” and would refuse to eat lunch when it was her turn to serve the food. She recalls that a teacher, apparently offended by her shyness, demanded to know: “Can’t you speak Japanese?”

Literature became a refuge, particularly Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William Faulkner and Truman Capote. “Books were the escape room for my soul,” Yu said, and she often used them to conceal her face from classmates.

Because of the discrimination and poverty she experienced, she identifies with the struggles of her fictional characters. “When I was a child, I didn’t belong anywhere,” she said. “So I feel like that’s what I am writing about when I write about homeless people or people on the edge of society.”

Deborah Smith, the founder of Tilted Axis, a nonprofit publisher that translates Asian writers into English and originally published “Tokyo Ueno Station” in Britain, said Yu writes about those “who are not part of any kind of officially projected image” of Japan.

38% of LGBT people in Japan sexually harassed or assaulted: survey (The Mainichi)

10,769 individuals were surveyed; more than half of trans women surveyed reported experiencing harassment/assault.

As to the relationship between their damage and mental health, 52.8 percent of those who said they experienced severe assaults have seen psychiatrists, and 48.9 percent of those who have suffered from other actions have done so.

But 35.5 percent of the total, including those who have not experienced sexual harassment, have consulted with psychiatrists, the survey showed.

Hidaka said some of the LGBT people have been hurt mentally because of responses by police or counseling staff, who often have little knowledge pertaining to sexual minorities.

“It is necessary (for the government) to improve its support system that is designed to help sexual minorities and male victims, not only women,” Hidaka said, as it seeks to promote countermeasures against sexual violence targeting female victims.

REVIEW: ‘Onyx Equinox’ Offers Magic, Mythology, and Beauty (But Why Tho?, Kate Sánchez)

Positive review of the first 13 episodes.

In the series’ final episodes, the myth is shown through the sanctity it held to those living in Mesoamerica through rituals of mourning, not just sacrifice. The cultural place of death and the gods’ interaction and the roots of the current Dia de Muertos traditions on display from marigolds to bones. Truthfully, the series penultimate episode offers up the most detailed look at Aztec life, its beauty, and how their beliefs impacted it. The way we’re shown a god entering the human world uses tropes we’re used to seeing in Greek mythology to tell a story that those familiar can understand. The series also leaves many questions about Mesoamerican mythology unanswered, which will hopefully push viewers to research the legends that haven’t been told before.

But to bring the Mesoamerican cosmology to life, the series has to include indigenous Mesoamerican languages. From names to words to describe elements of the story, the writing stays true to the languages. But, this is where Onyx Equinox Season 1‘s flaw comes to light: The voice acting. While the series features a predominantly Latinx voice cast, the way the series approached the voice acting is less than ideal. The truth is that certain sounds like the “tl” show up in K’ich’e or Nauhatl but not in English and only appear in certain dialects of Spanish. Some of the actors have accents, some don’t, and others don’t pronounce the indigenous names correctly or, with the same intention and authenticity, across the board.

The lack of indigenous voice actors in the case is frustrating given the stellar talent that has been showcased the last few years. In lieu of that, finding voice actors familiar with the sounds needed to speak in those languages could have easily be done by finding actors with the experience of speaking a dialect of Spanish that does as well. The unbalanced nature of the voice acting is extremely apparent when the gods interact with Izel. While I’m sure Olivia Brown is a great voice actress, in our protagonist’s role, her inability to say the names of gods or hold her own when acting opposite Alejandro Vargas-Lugo, the powerful voice of Yaotl makes some scenes hard to watch. Additionally, had the creatives behind the show chosen to have all actors have one consistent accent, it wouldn’t be jarring to hear the series move from non-anglicized versions of the words to ones clearly pronounced by English speakers.

Japan eyes more flexible paternity leave right after childbirth (The Mainichi)

The new system will allow longer leave periods with shorter notice required beforehand.

Promoting paternity leave right after childbirth is expected to reduce the number of mothers suffering from postnatal depression.

Specifically, male workers will be allowed to take two leaves, each up to two weeks, within the eight weeks, and their employment insurance will cover part of their salary.

While the current paternity leave system requires men to apply for the break a month in advance in principle, the new measure will allow them to apply just two weeks before.

The ministry is also considering requiring large businesses to release the rate of employees taking child care leave and relaxing conditions for fixed-term contract workers to take such days off.

Black People in Fandom: Cassandras in Action (Stitch’s Media Mix, Zeenah)

Venting on repeated patterns of antiblackness being dismissed until brought to a head by a major flashpoint.

After a summer of many outlets rushing to capitalize off of the idea that Korean idol fans (largely assumed to be young white women) were progressive enough to be “anti Trump” and pro-BLM, I can squint and understand the refusal to cover issues of antiblackness in fandom. If you’re spinning a narrative that this specific fandom is perfect and progressive, proof that it isn’t… isn’t wanted. So of course they didn’t cover it and poke holes in the narrative they were building.

However: the thing is that writers like Tiwa are ignored now even though they have been writing and talking about specific attacks of misogynoir from their fandom… but then once it’s convenient for these outlets to cover that bad shit is happening here… then the posts will start.

Once it’s relevant-to-them that all idol fandoms have issues with antiblackness and folks can bring it up at a timely-to-them moment. Then, because a big outlet is finally covering (and columbusing) what Black people have been talking to for years, folks will be like “oh, I didn’t’ know that this was happening/could happen in fandom. Why wasn’t anyone talking about this?”.

But we have been trying to tell y’all.

How Cyberpunk 2077 Resurrects the 1980s’ “Japan Panic” (Unseen Japan, Andrew Kiya)

Further unpacking the roots of anti-Japanese racism rooted in cyberpunk’s history.

David Morely and Kevin Robins coined “Japan Panic” in their book Spaces of Identity. It was a fear that the Japanese economy would overtake the West through their electronics and automotive industries. To an extent, this came true. Profits for companies like GM, Ford, and Chrysler fell. Meanwhile, Nissan, Honda, and Toyota became prominent car brands in the US. 

This led to a large public outcry towards foreign-made products. It also led to a spike in xenophobia against primarily the Japanese and Japanese diaspora. Worse yet, there wasn’t a clear distinction between Japanese and other East Asian ethnicities at the time. As a result, much of the racial hostilities were also aimed at Chinese and Korean-Americans as well. These racial tensions would eventually culminate in the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American who was mistaken as Japanese and killed by two former Chrysler autoworkers. (They would receive no jail time.)

Japanophobia was not new (See: World War II). But this resurgence of fear towards the Japanese would make its way into many pieces of popular media during the 80s’. Some examples were tame, such as in Back to the Future II where future-Marty works for an angry Japanese boss. Others such as Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honor, focused on Japanese “Zaibatsu” companies as power-hungry threats to US economic dominance. And in an effort to combat these imagined threats, many pieces of media — from movies and television, to literature and video games — took to portraying Japanese people as an “other” that needed to be fought against. 

VIDEO: Panel about Rekijo (“History Girls”), whose fandom has revitalized local tourism.

THREAD: Brief history of Japan’s protest movements.

AniFem Community

As usual, we’ve got a few standouts and some surprising sleeper entries coming in.

Favorite: Is the Order a Rabbit? Bloom. There were some ridiculously strong shows this Fall, but every episode of this third season felt like the best episode yet and had me smiling unconsciously throughout. Over and over we're reminded that every character's defining trait is how much they all care about each other and cherish one another's company, even as the show acknowledges they're finally getting a little older and helping each other figure out what that will mean to them. Surprise: Akudama Drive firing on all cylinders, week after week, jettisoning status quo after status quo in favor of a constantly escalating plot. Letdown: Adachi and Shimamura eventually took to airing the same episode every week to see if anyone would notice.
Favorite: Jujutsu Kaisen Beautiful animation from Mappa and one of the catchiest ED songs of the year does it again. It goes full edgelord pretty regularly, especially in the last few episodes with Junpei's arc (I want to talk to whoever on staff chose to keep him in the OP after he died), but from what little characterization we've gotten so far, the main cast are way more complex than I expected from a gory shounen anime. Besides episode 3, there wasn't a lot of focus on the female characters who seem to have a lot of backstory behind them, so I'm hoping 2nd cours will get on that.  Surprise: Assault Lily Bouquet I really, really, really hate the leering camera and the predatory lesbians, but other than that? I saw cute girls with huge magic swords and guns and my brain said "this is fun, I like this". Woo.  Disappointment: Funimation's video player. Trying to use their site with a touch screen device is suffering.

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