Weekly Round-Up, 23-29 June 2021: Utada Hikaru’s Coming Out, Cosplay in 2020, and Translator Interviews

By: Anime Feminist June 29, 20210 Comments
The girls of Zombie Land Saga sitting together on the grass in a vibrant green park

Editor’s Note: One of the videos included in this round-up includes discussion and an example image of racist caricature from the children’s book “Little Black Sambo” – we apologize for the harm caused by not including sufficiently advance warning about this imagery.

AniFem Round-Up

Love, Sex, and Power in Fruits Basket

Sara Connor analyzes Akito’s character arc and the complicated interplay of abuse and trauma.

A Dress Isn’t Just A Dress: Finding yourself in Love Live’s “Love Wing Bell”

Danni Wilmouth shares her personal connection with Rin’s gender nonconformity and the feeling of being reassured it’s alright to engage with femininity as a trans viewer.

Godzilla Singular Point – Episode 1

Finally released from Netflix jail, this sci-fi premiere welcomes newbies to the Godzilla franchise.

What LGBTQIA+ manga would you like to see localized?

There’s always stuff out there, new and old, that it would be great to see localized.

Beyond AniFem

Pride Month Book Recs: Queer Manga (The Aficitionado, Alex Henderson)

Alex recommends some recently translated queer manga.

The distinction between “queer manga” and manga that falls into romance genres like yuri (which might feature close relationships between women, but don’t always touch on subjects like queer identity—and may even still be floating in the “close, pure, romantic friendship” tropes of the olden days) is somewhat blurry, but for the purposes of this post I’m combining them all under one umbrella. Some of these are more of the fluffy romance variety that brushes over what we might consider queer themes like coming out, and some of them deal with that more directly and poignantly. Some of them are fluffy romances that also talk about the realities of being queer in modern day Japan!

I’ve tried to gather a variety, though remember that this list is merely some of my personal favourites from my personal reading habits: there is plenty more manga with LGBTQIA+ content out there that I have yet to get to! So, as always, please do leave your own recommendations in the comments.

TOWARDS EQUALITY: Paternity leave still a tricky issue in Japan’s staid mindset (The Asahi Shimbun, Kenjiro Takahashi, Natsumi Nakai, Suguru Takizawa, Sawa Okabayashi and Yoshinobu Matsunaga)

At present, only 8% of men make use of available paternity leave at their jobs due to social pressures against taking time off.

Many men do not realize that taking time to fully participate in their children’s upbringing could have a positive impact on women’s employment rates and help achieve gender equality–for which Japan ranked a lowly 120th out of the 156 nations in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Index in 2020.

Others have to deal with supervisors who believe that a man’s priority should be his work, accuse employees of being troublesome when they ask for time off to care for their children or even cunningly threaten them with withholding potential promotions.

Roughly 70 percent of nearly 3,000 businesses surveyed last summer by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry still “fully or somewhat oppose” efforts to oblige employers to make parental leave mandatory among male employees.

However, the central government, along with local authorities and some companies, is trying to change that mindset.

Hello Kotaku, It’s Me, Your New EIC (Kotaku, Patricia Hernandez)

Hernandez’s ambitious goal going forward is to reform the toxic culture historically gaming culture and Kotaku’s readership.

I hate that nearly every website’s day to day is predicated on the release schedule and news cycle set by publishers. I hate the coverage cycle of big-budget video games, and how a game is never more important than when it doesn’t exist yet—or when it just launched. I hate that so much of what video game websites consider worthy of coverage is often written for a specific type of presumed reader. It does not matter if a website is considered “progressive.” It says everything that, when writing about certain issues, video game websites often have to take care in explaining basic-ass concepts like “racism is real.”

At some point, having to explain power dynamics over and over again is not a question of informing the readership. It is a tacit acknowledgement that our audience likely has a specific background. And consequently, that reality means that even as we cover more mainstream subjects or marginalized identities, the writing is not truly for that wider audience. This haunts me. The presumed reader looks or sounds nothing like me, and yet here I am, leading a video game site.

Tokyo logs 476 cases, 10th day in a row of increase from a week ago (The Asahi Shimbun)

This wave of new cases comes as Japan holds firm on its decision to host the upcoming Olympics.

Tokyo recorded 476 new COVID-19 cases on June 29, 41 more than a week ago, and four new deaths from the coronavirus, metropolitan health officials said.

The latest daily count of new infections in the capital marked the 10th straight day the number has surpassed the figure of a week earlier.

The seven-day average of new cases over the week through June 29 was 494.9, an increase of 21.9 percent of the figure for the preceding week.

All dressed up with nowhere to go: Cosplaying in the pandemic (The Washington Post, Lauren Orsini)

Snapshots of various cosplayers and their outlets during the past year.

“I really thought that my career was set,” [Yaya] Han said. “I’d just written a book introspecting on my past 20 years of cosplay. The pandemic has really upended my mind-set and made me think about what my next steps are.”

What came next gave Han “multiple tiers of dread and worry.” With family members living in China, she worried about their health and survival. With all of her cosplay appearances canceled, she was also worried about keeping her three employees paid. The pandemic also sparked a tinderbox of Anti-Asian sentiment in her home of Atlanta, Georgia. Han still avoids going out alone.

But most of all, Han was overwhelmed by the sheer loss of life. While she thought about what to do next, she began sewing face masks for elderly neighbors, and then delivering hundreds of them to her local hospitals. Since Han runs a cosplay shop where she sells supplies and handmade accessories for cosplayers, she already had a ready supply of the cotton fabric and elastic ties that could be difficult to source in the early days of the pandemic. Eventually, Han taught her employees to craft masks and began offering them in her shop alongside cosplay props. This helped keep the small business afloat.

“I realized I could either cut everyone’s hours, or I could teach them how to make face masks and figure out the system of working from home, avoiding each other, while still making this new product,” she said.

VIDEO: Interview with Boys Run the Riot author Gaku Keito.

VIDEO: Interview with three currently working manga translators.

VIDEO: Report from a woman living in Japan who came across the racist text “Little Black Sambo” when she took her young son to the library.

THREAD: Breakdown of the current gender dynamics of Japan’s political parties.

TWEET: Short video of musical artist Utada Hikaru coming out as non-binary.

AniFem Community

It’s always a great time to remember the monthly Seven Seas survey–since queer manga faces an uphill battle for visibility and success, it’s especially important to throw support behind legal ways to read it.

I'd love to see 'Kiryuu-sensei wa Ren'ai ga Wakaranai' - a series about an aro-ace woman mangaka, dealing with her series getting an anime adaptation as well as advances from a couple of suitors - get officially picked up by someone. I've only managed to read the first couple of chapters, but the lead is delightfully grounded and practical, and the story takes a very frank approach to LGBTQ+ issues and the societal pressures around romance that I enjoyed a lot.
Family Compo, aka F. COMPO, aka Family Component. By the guy who did City Hunter, no less. A trans mom and a trans dad with a (very probably but intentionally never revealed one way or another to be) trans child, they take in a young cis guy who lost his mom. He starts working for the dad, a mangaka. Lots of comedy ensues and also a lot of love. Just a relentlessly trans thing, like Stop Hibari-kun. For sure problematic in a number of ways, but also very warm and very odd and very good.

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