Weekly Round-Up, 23-29 September 2020: Queer Modding, Hip Hop in Anime, and an Official Pokemon AMV

By: Anime Feminist September 29, 20200 Comments
A long-haired girl happily hugging a smiling Eevee

AniFem Round-Up

Katarina of Irodori Comics on translating doujinshi to English

Chiaki sat down with editor Katarina to talk about the fledgling company’s selection of LGBTQ+ comics and the process of bringing doujinshi out in English.

Against the World: Madoka Rebellion, saviorism, and abolitionist schooling

Anthony Sun Prickett revisits Madoka Magica’s infamous sequel and asks whether a system that still runs on suffering, even with a reward at the end, is a just one. Was Homura, in fact, right?

Chatty AF 125: BNA Retrospective

Chiaki, Lizzie, and Mercedez talk about Studio TRIGGER’s latest, from its lovable characters to its utterly messy metaphors and all the furry feels in-between.

What was your favorite Summer 2020 anime?

Yup, it’s time for the Fall season already.

Beyond AniFem

“I Would Just Call My Art Style ‘Fluffy’:” An Interview with Umaimah Damakka (Black Nerd Problems, Oona Sura)

Interview with a Nigerian artist about her process and inspirations.

After 6 years in secondary school, I went to South Africa for a two-year course and it was there that I met a college counselor who recommended going to SCAD. It was also at this time that my art took a turning point. I was hardly drawing Black girls or African girls but being in South Africa really opened me to a lot of cultural discussions and conversations about representation. That was when I looked into myself and realized that there was a reason why I wasn’t drawing Black girls, and I decided to change that. I still stuck with the cliche’ fairy tale theme that I always loved, only this time I wanted the subjects to be dark-skinned girls because we hardly ever see that in the media. I am so happy that I went through that change because it was healing for me. And since I started sharing my work online, I’ve gotten messages or emails from Black girls about how much better my work made them feel about their looks. I’m sure 7-year old me would have been part of those girls too, so I’m hoping she’s proud of me.

The Writing For Last Decade’s Final Fantasy Women Has Me Cautious Of FFXVI (Fanbyte, Natalie Flores)

The 2010s installments in the franchise are mostly short of well-written women with agency.

In the last decade, it’s also not always been easy for me to be a Final Fantasy fan as a woman. What was once a series filled with multi-faceted and thoughtfully-written women has severely stagnated in this department. Instead, it has had some recent female characters whose writing can be so archaic that they feel like they belong in the pre-Final Fantasy VI era. Final Fantasy VII Remake escapes this problem only because the foundations for its characters were established back in 1997. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy XIV have struggled to give women agency and power in their narratives to varying degrees, some more egregious than others, making me cautious of how women will fare in Final Fantasy XVI.

When it was released in 2016, Final Fantasy XV marked the mainline series’ single-player return since the release of Final Fantasy XIII in 2009. In many ways, one of the most anticipated games of all time almost felt like a reaction to its predecessor. Final Fantasy XIII was the first mainline Final Fantasy game to have a set woman protagonist. (Final Fantasy VI technically has no determined protagonist, even if it’s widely accepted that Terra is its lead). This would not change even as the game received two sequels in the form of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, as both were also led by women. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XV was the first entry in the series, which began in 1987, to have an all-male party in the name of being “more approachable.”

Heroine For Hire Game Review – Veris’ Route (Blerdy Otome)

As the game is still in-development, only one of two routes is currently available.

Lyre is definitely one of the more fun game heroines I’ve seen and strikes a nice balance between the self insert protags you see in most otome games and the much more engaging heroines you see in western otome games. She has an established identity, but, there are opportunities to kind of influence her personality…and some of the choices yield some hilarious results. There were more than a few times where I caught myself laughing out loud at one of her quips to Veris (and trust there are plenty). But, even someone as driven as Lyre can have moments of indecision and I liked that the story didn’t make Lyre overly aggressive, giving us a chance to see her softer side from time to time.

The characters and their relationship with one another is where this game really shines, I really love how fleshed out the side characters are in the story—it gives the world a sense of depth. It’s not an expansive cast, just the immediate members of Lyre’s family and some key members of the Faunestra royal court, but it’s enough to fill out the story and really give the characters their own unique spaces where they can be themselves. These are genuine relationships and it’s nice to see the characters other than the main pair getting some screen time! Special mentions for Princess Ivis for being such an absolute delight!

Growing Up as a Black Anime Fan (But Why Tho?, Jason Dale)

A reminiscence of the changing landscape of the 00s anime scene.

A huge shift in perspective came as hip-hop began embracing the anime genre. I first took notice when watching Afro Samurai, and realized that the RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan produced its OST in 2007. Kanye West’s nods to Akira in his video for “Stronger” in 2009 were clear signs that anime and hip-hop were becoming intertwined. These years were pivotal. 2007 through 2009 were around the time I was leaving middle school and entering high school, and those informative years being influenced by two idols in hip-hop made me begin to feel pride in being Black and loving anime.

That shift in perspective encouraged Black artists to publicly embrace the genre. Without them, the social media revolution of Black anime content creators happening now, may not have happened. Creators such as King Vader and his popular “Hood Naruto” videos may have fallen on more deaf ears without hip hop paving the way. It has even reached the mainstream of anime media, as the recent Virtual Crunchy Expo hosted a Black Girl Magic panel highlighting the amazing work Black women are doing in the industry today.  Even over the years from 2007 once hip-hop embraced anime culture, I still struggled with imposter syndrome. I had trouble feeling as though I belonged. Without those Black content creators and companies such as Crunchyroll creating safe spaces for fans, I am not sure if I would have had the courage to publicly embrace the genre as well.

Nagoya allows show to continue despite protest against racism (The Asahi Shimbun, Hwang Chul and Kenji Seki)

The Japan First Party has held multiple rallies platforming anti-Korean racism.

City officials said the organizer pledged not to make hate speech at the venue, the Sakae municipal gallery in Nagoya’s Naka Ward.

The officials added that they would respond if the exhibits pose problems in light of the nation’s anti-hate speech law.

The event organizer refused entry to reporters of The Asahi Shimbun and other news outlets.

But according to people who were allowed in, about 30 exhibits were on display, including drawings related to World War II.

One of them featured an apparent brothel with a woman in “chima jeogori,” Korean traditional clothing, and a tout who resembled Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura.

Queer Modding (First Person Scholar, Katelyn Campbell)

An academic examination of the role of modding in queer spaces.

While queer readings and queer play work within a game’s existing affordances, mods which work on the level of a game’s code can expand (or further limit) these affordances. These queer mods work with the “raw materials” of a video game—the code, visual assets, rules, etc.—and can challenge the heteronormativity found here. Many queer mods swap out or increase the availability of certain gendered assets to increase queer romance options. Mods such as Harvest Moon: True Love Edition (Nguyen) and Dragon Age Origins: Equal Love (Kamajii) open up NPC romance options to the player, regardless of gender. Stardew Valley’s Gender Neutrality Mod (Hana) makes “Stardew Valley nonbinary friendly” by removing all gendered references to the player as well as the gendered symbols in the character creation screen (Sayer). These mods are often simply “undoing” heteronormative assumptions made by game developers, and allowing queer players to exist more comfortably within a game (Postigo 309; Welch ). Through minor changes to a game’s code, the above examples disrupt conventional gender logic through challenging normative gender restrictions or the fact that gender needs to exist at all. The original games modded here often enforce heteronormative values by using binary and categorical flags to indicate gender or gendered events in the code (Lauteria). Queer mods then take advantage of this simplistic logic to subvert and reverse its effects.

VIDEO: Interview with Chuck Johnson on his 19 years as a pro stuntman in Japan.

VIDEO: On the relationship between anime and hip hop.

VIDEO: The story of the first Black female game designer, Muriel Tramis.

THREAD: Mercedez on her complicated feelings coming back to the US from Japan.


Dee insisted we include this very cool new Pokémon music video.

AniFem Community

More misses than hits this season, but Fall is right around the corner.

Overall Favorite: hard choice here between Appare-Ranman and Deca-Dence. While the latter had more to say that was of feminist interest (the anti-late-capitalism message was powerful), and had more female characters who displayed different types of strength, the former made me laugh and occasionally surprised me with its twists. Both were nicely animated, too.  Surprising: does a single episode count? Deca-Dence revealed a very good troll job in episode 2.  Disappointing: two options again. I'm disappointed that I have to wait until I get a Netflix subscription to watch BNA and Great Pretender. I'm also disappointed that I pushed myself to watch all three seasons of A Certain Scientific Railgun based on recommendations and a desire to understand the popular appeal of this franchise, and it turned out that, for every interesting storyline and sharp action scene, there was compensatory (and deeply unwanted on my part) Anime Nonsense, such as the ongoing "predatory lesbian" behavior of one of the lead characters, and the boob envy that was the driving force behind one plot coupon.
Down to just Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater. There are shows that I didn't finish and will return to, but I have rarely been as physically and emotionally drained as I have this summer (I'm a teacher with six 50 minute distance learning classes five days a week) and "Hey, is she going to learn how to attract fish with rubber bait?" is about all I'm up for.

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