Weekly Round-Up, 23-29 March 2022: Afro Samurai Anniversary, Wage Gap Statistics, and Shoujo Recs

By: Anime Feminist March 29, 20220 Comments
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AniFem Round-Up

If the Belt Fits: The battle for trans characters in fighting games

In honor of Guilty Gear‘s Testament coming out as agender, we’re rerunning C.S. Nangland’s piece on the history of trans characters in fighting games!

Power, Oppression, and Victimhood in The Twelve Kingdoms versus The Rising of the Shield Hero

Caitlin examines how these two isekai novels use parallel plot points to tell very different stories about systemic oppression and personal growth.

Fundraising Bundle Resources

This month’s resource post is a collection of currently ongoing sales offering manga, study aides, and design resources to raise money for charity.

Beyond AniFem

The Battle for Union Anime Dubs (Anime News Network, Evan Minto)

The current state of voice actor payrates and the uphill battle toward unionization.

 One problem that’s somewhat unique to anime: Japanese licensors can balk at the terms in union contracts, especially the requirement to pay actors residuals for 10 years after a show’s release. But thanks to lobbying from CODA, SAG released a new contract in 2021, increasing hourly rates for actors to $87 and simplifying the residuals requirement. As a result, a streaming service with fewer than 15 million subscribers like Crunchyroll only has to pay the hourly rate, while larger services, theatrical films, and primetime TV channels pay a flat “buyout” fee in lieu of residuals for a union show.

Crunchyroll didn’t provide a comment when asked about their past and future union dubbing policies. According to CODA, the pay rates for FUNimation shows ranged from $35 to $75 per hour depending on the number of hours worked. Video game and anime voice actor Sara Secora (Hayate in Rumble Garanndoll) says that’s not nearly enough. She’d like to see the rate go up to $125 to $150 an hour with a two-hour minimum (so the actor is paid for at least two hours even for a short session). Citing shows like Dragon Ball that require “strenuous sessions that could be vocally damaging,” she also wants to see hazard pay for actors. Miller and Steve Blum (Spike in Cowboy Bebop) echoed her concerns. “I saw people damage themselves permanently for some of the lowest pay in the industry,” says Blum.

Then there’s the elephant in the room: FUNimation‘s dubs were produced largely in Texas, a “right-to-work” state, and will likely remain there under Crunchyroll management. Right-to-work laws, which exist in 27 mostly Republican-controlled U.S. states, allow workers to take a job at a company with a union contract without having to join the union or pay dues. This significantly reduces SAG‘s influence over studios by removing a source of funding and their biggest bargaining chip: access to top talent. That means far fewer union productions than states without right-to-work laws, like California and New York. And the union penalizes members for working non-union shows, driving some actors who work primarily with Texas-based companies — anime voice actors, for instance — to forego union membership entirely.

Japan gov’t may require companies to release gender wage gap as early as 2023 (The Mainichi, Natsuko Ishida)

Indicators of gender payment and hiring ratios hasn’t been required in company data since 1999.

According to the 2020 Basic Survey on Wage Structure, women working full-time earn a scheduled monthly salary of 250,000 yen (about $2,070), just over 70% of men’s 340,000 yen (about $2,810). The wage gap is particularly significant for those aged 55 to 59, with women earning 270,000 yen (about 2,230) per month compared to men’s 420,000 yen (about 3,470). A Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare official analyzes that the reasons for the wage gap are that “there are fewer women in management positions and that they have been with the company for shorter periods of time than men.”

Japan is considered to have a relatively large wage gap between men and women. According to a 2021 survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the income gap between men and women in the U.S. and Europe is in the 10% range, but in Japan it is 22.5%. Japan ranks third worst among the 38 member countries, behind South Korea at 31.5% and Israel at 22.7%.

By having companies disclose information on wage disparities, the government aims to raise awareness among businesses and accelerate efforts to correct the disparities. Under the female participation promotion law, depending on its size, companies are required to select and disclose one or two indicators — including the ratio of female employees hired, the percentage of male and female employees taking child care leave, and gender differences in length of service — so that job seekers can use them as a reference in selecting a firm.

Elden Ring’s Undying Quest for Drip Extinguishes Black Self-Expression (Fanbyte, FūNK-é JOSEPH)

How the lack of Black hair options hinders Black fans’ access to the appeal of FashionSouls.

Elden Ring has no Black hairstyles — well, it technically has one “afro,” as The Verge’s Ash Parrish points out, but it is such a flimsy and melancholic attempt at one that I will not be calling it an afro. This is dumbfounding because its character creator is so malleable that people have managed to squeeze out eerily accurate versions of Human Shrek, emo Kermit, and this thing, but it cannot create locks, curls, flat tops, twists, puffs, braids, fades, waves, or cornrows. Looking at all of these options, one has to assume the developers valued potential character gags over accurate traits for people with dark skin. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

I’ve written about being Black in games a lot. And while I’ve seen slight changes over the years, they have been at the speed of ancient and neglected 24-hour diner molasses. I feel like a broken record at this point. I’m sick of having this conversation, and I’m deeply saddened that Elden Ring, one of my favorite games, is guilty of this, too. Just make Black hair better. Hire people to consult with and program it. Period. How is it that Black people always get the short end of the stick with this?

Emotional support in short supply for Japan’s would-be mothers (The Mainichi)

While insurance coverage for infertility treatment is expanding, there is little in the way of accompanying counseling or mental health care.

In April, the government will expand coverage for public insurance for procedures such as IVF, with the patient covering 30 percent of their treatment costs.

Treatments such as artificial insemination, in which sperm is commonly injected into a woman’s uterus, and IVF will be newly covered by insurance with some conditions. For example, for IVF, there will be cases in which only women than 43 years of age when they start treatment will have procedures covered.

In addition to married couples, those in common-law relationships will also be covered.

Insurance currently covers examinations to determine why a woman is struggling to fall pregnant. Artificial insemination that is not covered by insurance costs about 30,000 yen (about $250) on average for one procedure, and IVF as much as 500,000 yen, in some cases.

Afro Samurai Manga Gets Director’s Cut Edition in English (Anime News Network, Adriana Hazra)

The anniversary edition will include new cover art and an author foreword.

Titan Comics describes the story:

Inspired by Okazaki-san’s love of hip hop music and American pop culture, the story, set in a feudal futuristic Japan, follows the young Afro Samurai who witnesses his father, the holder of the No.1 headband, being challenged and killed by the No.2 – a lethal gunslinger named Justice. Swearing revenge, he starts off on a bloody path of retribution that will eventually make him the No.2 warrior and lead to a final dramatic face-off with his father’s killer.

Seven Seas Entertainment released the manga in North America.

Animation studio Gonzo adapted the manga into the Afro Samurai television mini-series (2007) and later into the Afro Samurai: Resurrection television movie (2009). Both anime projects became the bestselling anime DVD releases of their respective years. Funimation released the anime adaptations.

Period poverty lowers quality of life, women in 20s hit harder: Japan ministry study (The Mainichi)

3000 women aged 18 to 49 were surveyed and 8.1% reported occasionally or frequently having difficulty accessing sanitary products during menstruation.

Among women with experiences of having difficulties in buying sanitary products, 50.0 percent said they tried to deal with the issue by changing pads or tampons less frequently, and 43.0 percent used such items as toilet paper as substitutes.

Poor access to menstrual products caused more than 70 percent to experience health problems, such as itching and rashes.

As for the impact on lifestyle, 40.1 percent said they were forced to cancel private outings, and 35.7 percent said it impacted child-rearing and caregiving duties.

The study showed that an assessment of the respondents’ mental conditions suggested that 69.3 percent of those who had experienced poor access to sanitary items were under stress. The percentage was much lower, at 31.1 percent, for women who never experienced period poverty.

Regarding reasons for not being able to afford sanitary products, 37.7 percent cited low income, while 28.7 percent said they simply did not have enough money to spend on themselves.

VIDEO: Preview of a new documentary about four Black anime fans and how their love of the medium shaped their lives.

TWEET: Statement by Galko-chan artist Suzuki Kenya about his arrest for possession of child pornography.

TWEET: Video of Shiomura Ayaka once again being heckled on the floor of the Diet.

THREAD: Suggestion thread of shoujo manga dealing with heavy themes.

AniFem Community

In addition to the bundles in this month’s resource post, former Chatty AF guest Dawn is holding a raffle to benefit trans kids in Texas.

And just to send you out on something cool, here’s an excellent thread of Sailor Moon cosplay:

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